Did Abraham keep the law of Moses?

A common claim by those that assert that we are still under the law of Moses today is that the law was actually kept long before Moses was instructed by God to write it down. 

They will often say that those that lived before Moses also followed the law and will point to Abraham, who God states, followed his commandments and his laws, as evidence for this. 

Genesis 26-5Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.

If Abraham observed the law and the commandments then this would show that the law, although was formally written down through Moses, was in effect before it was written down and so is evidence that the law was from the beginning and so is evidence that it is in effect today. 

Like all claims if we take this verse alone it most certainly could be concluded that Abraham did keep the law, known as the law of Moses. 

However once we investigate this claim we will see that things are not exactly as they would first appear, what a surprise. 

Paul very clearly said the law came 430 years AFTER the promise and that it was ADDED because of transgressions. 

Galatians 3- 17And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. 18 For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.

19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.

The promise was given to Abraham 430 years before the law was given to Moses. 

Some people(not all by any means) who assert being under the law claim that Paul was a false profit, however, we see that John stated that the law was given by Moses also.

John 1-17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

The author of Hebrews also stated that the law came under the Levitical priesthood. 

Hebrews 7- 11If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?

The Bible tells us that the law was given to Israel and NO OTHER nation

Psalm 147- 19He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. 20He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the LORD.

The simple fact is that Abraham did not keep the law that was given 430 years after the promise was made to him, that was given through Moses, long after Abraham had died.

Not only could Abraham not have kept a law that didn’t exist yet we see scriptural evidence that Abraham, if he was under the law, even though it did exist during his lifetime DID NOT in fact keep it as God stated he did. 

Scriptural evidence 

The law of Moses forbade sleeping with your fathers daughter 

Leviticus 18- 9The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or daughter of thy mother, whether she beborn at home, or born abroad, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover. 

Abraham however married and had a child with his half sister Sarah who was the daughter of his father.

Genesis 20-12 And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife.

Before this law was given incestual relationships were not prohibited. Had Abraham been under the law of Moses then he would have violated that law. He would have broken the law and not kept it. This on its own shows that Abraham did not keep the law of Moses but a different law. 

Abraham gave his celestial guests non kosher food (which would have violated the kosher laws). 

Genesis 19- 7And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it. 8And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.

The law states that you should not cook a kid (goat) in its mother’s milk 

Exodus 23- 19 The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the Lord thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.

The Talmud however expounds upon this 

Mishnah : One is forbidden to cook any kind of flesh in milk except fish and locusts. And one is forbidden to bring [the flesh] up onto the table with cheese, except fish and locusts.

Chullin 103b:16

Many people assert the oral law was in existence at the time of Moses. Abraham then violated the oral law. 

The law of Moses gives instructions regarding tithing, this is found throughout the Torah. I will just give one verse here 

Deuteronomy 14-22 Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year. 

Abraham could NOT tithe. There was no levitical priesthood and no temple at this time. Some people will claim that Abraham did tithe and they will usually use Abraham giving a tithe to Melchizedek as evince for this. The fact is Abraham did not pay tithes he gave a tithe….once…I would suggest reading my writing on tithes for a full answer to this.


The law of Moses was actually only meant to be kept by Israel when they were in the promised land. 

Deuteronomy 18-9 When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.

Deuteronomy 26-1 And it shall be, when thou art come in unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and possessest it, and dwellest therein;

Abraham was not in the promised land. Therefore Abraham could not have kept this law.

Abraham broke the 7th command

7th command – thou must not commit adultery.

However Abraham did in fact commit adultery. He even had a child, Ishmael, with the woman, Hagar, that he committed adultery with.

So if Abraham did not keep the law of Moses but he did keep God’s laws and commands which laws and commands did he keep? Abraham kept the laws and commands that were given to HIM. Such as when Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his son which although he was not required to actually do so in the end he did in fact follow all the commands that God had given him regarding this sacrifice.  This command was given to NOBODY else. 

God’s covenant with Abraham was different than his covenant with Israel, God did NOT make the covenant that he made with Israel with their fathers of whom Abraham is one. 

Deuteronomy 5- 1And Moses called all Israel, and said unto them, Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them. 2The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. 3The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.

Abraham was commanded by God to leave his home country and go to a land that God would show him.

Genesis 14- 1 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: 

Abraham obeyed God’s command 

Genesis 14-4So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. 5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came. 

Abraham did not keep Passover, which is a requirement in the law. The law was given approx 400 years after Abraham it was impossible for Abraham to keep a celebration of an event that had not yet happened (the passing over of those with the blood painted on the door in Egypt). Abraham also kept none of the other feasts that are a requirement in the law.

Abraham simply did not keep the law of Moses. 

He is not the only one that would have broken the law of Moses had it been in place from the very beginning. 

Circumcision is part of the law of Moses 

Leviticus 12-3 And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.

But circumcision was instigated through Abraham 

Genesis 17- 9 And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. 10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. 11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. 12And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. 13He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. 14 And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.

NOBODY was circumcised before this command was given to Abraham. This would mean that EVERY SINGLE male before Abraham would have broken this law had they been under the law of Moses. Adam, Seth and Noah would all have failed to comply with this law. Again Abraham followed this command as God gave HIM command to do so. 

Genesis 17- 23And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house; and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day, as God had said unto him. 24 And Abraham was ninety years old and nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 25And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.26 In the selfsame day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael his son. 27And all the men of his house, born in the house, and bought with money of the stranger, were circumcised with him.

We see that the law of Moses allowed a man to divorce his wife. 

Deuteronomy 24- When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.

However this was NOT from the beginning 

Matthew 19-8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

This law was NOT in place at the beginning. It was NOT permissible to divorce before it was ADDED through MOSES. 

The law of Moses states that if a person kills another person they are to be put to death themselves 

Exodus 21- 12 He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death.

However this was NOT the punishment imputed upon Cain when he slew Abel. His punishment was that when he tilled the ground it would not be fruitful and he would be a fugitive and a vagabond.  

Genesis 4- 11And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand; 12When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.

Cain even appeals to God that his punishment was too hard and that men will seek to kill him 

Genesis 4- 13And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear.14 Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me. 

God then states that anyone that killed Cain would be punished 7 times and he put a Mark upon Cain to PROTECT him from being killed. 

Genesis 4-  15 And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.

It isn’t until AFTER the flood and God’s covenant with Noah that it is decreed that a person should be killed for killing another person.

Genesis 9-5And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. 6 Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

This only became a command within Gods new, post flood covenant with Noah. It was not the punishment before the flood. 

In fact it is recorded in the Bible that God’s warning that Cain would be avenged sevenfold if he was killed was seen a s a GOOD thing.

Lemech claimed he killed a man and if Cain would be avenged sevenfold then he would be avenged seventy seven fold.

Genesis 4- 24 If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.

This wasn’t the only command that changed in the covenant with Noah. 

In the law of Moses God states which animals were allowed to be eaten 

Leviticus 11- , 2Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth.

However this was actually instigated after the flood when they were told that they could eat meat. (without the blood) 

Genesis 9- 2And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.3Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.4 But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.

Before the flood humans were instructed that to them all herbs would be food for them. They were not to eat meat at all. 

Genesis 1-  30And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

The eating of animals was a NEW command. It was not the command from the beginning. 

The eating of animals was not part of the commands given to Adam and Eve. It only came into effect through Noah. 

Adam was actually only given 3 commands by God in his covenant.

Genesis 1- 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Genesis 1- . 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

Genesis 2 – 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

We see that the apostles, in their letter to the Gentiles in Acts 15, stated that  the Gentiles should abstain from eating meat with the blood. The apostles stated that the Gentiles should not be troubled but that it was enough that they abstain from idol worship, fornication, things strangled and from blood.

Acts 15-  19Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: 20But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.

The gentiles were NOT commanded to be circumcised or keep the law of Moses

Acts 15-  24Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: 

The Gentiles were to obey this command that goes back to Noah not the Law of Moses or the beginning of the creation.

The Jews believe that although the law was given to them there are 7 universal laws that were given to Adam and Noah that must be kept by everyone. They are known as the Noahide laws. 

  1. Do not profane G‑d’s Oneness in any way.
    Acknowledge that there is a single G‑d who cares about what we are doing and desires that we take care of His world.
  2. Do not curse your Creator.
    No matter how angry you may be, do not take it out verbally against your Creator.
  3. Do not murder.
    The value of human life cannot be measured. To destroy a single human life is to destroy the entire world—because, for that person, the world has ceased to exist. It follows that by sustaining a single human life, you are sustaining an entire universe.
  4. Do not eat a limb of a living animal.
    Respect the life of all G‑d’s creatures. As intelligent beings, we have a duty not to cause undue pain to other creatures.
  5. Do not steal.
    Whatever benefits you receive in this world, make sure that none of them are at the unfair expense of someone else.
  6. Harness and channel the human libido.
    Incest, adultery, rape and homosexual relations are forbidden.
    The family unit is the foundation of human society. Sexuality is the fountain of life and so nothing is more holy than the sexual act. So, too, when abused, nothing can be more debasing and destructive to the human being.
  7. Establish courts of law and ensure justice in our world.
    With every small act of justice, we are restoring harmony to our world, synchronizing it with a supernal order. That is why we must keep the laws established by our government for the country’s stability and harmony.

There were in fact many covenants throughout the Bible and each had their own commands that may or may not have been included in the next covenant. This is the FUNDAMENTAL mistake made by those that assert that the law of Moses was kept before it was given to the Israelites by Moses and those that believe we are under the same laws as the covenant made with the Israelites. 

We are under a NEW covenant NOT according to the covenant made with the Israelites through Moses. 

Jeremiah 31- 31Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD 

God states that he will put the laws in the hearts

Hebrews 10-16  This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;

The mistake here is to assume the laws of the new covenant are the same as the laws of the old which simply ignores the fact that God stated that the new covenant would not be as the old one. It is also based on the incorrect belief that the laws that were given to Moses were the laws that have existed from the beginning which we have already seen is not so.

We are very clearly told that there has been a change of law as made necessary by the change of priesthood. 

Hebrews 7-12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

We see other commands given in previous covenants that are no longer in effect today. New Covenant, new Law.

God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. 

Genesis 2- 15And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. 16And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. 

This command, given in the garden of Eden, is NOT a command that is given to those after the banishment from the garden. 

There were commands given to Adam, Noah and Abraham that were different than the commands of others. Noah was commanded to build an Ark which again is not a command that anyone else was given…ever.

A further claim that the law was in place from the beginning is that Abel knew about animal sacrifice and that his sacrifice was accepted by God because he sacrificed an animal while Cains was rejected because he did not. 

However Abel was NOT commanded to sacrifice an animal at all. To fully understand the sacrifice and why Abel’s offering was accepted and Cains rejected I would recommend reading my writing on this subject 

The last piece of evidence I would like to deal with is the Sabbath. 

It is asserted that the Sabbath was kept before the law of Moses was given and so shows that the Sabbath has always been and always has been. 

For this most people will go to a few passages of scripture 

Genesis 1- 2And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. 3And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

Mark 2-27 And he said unto them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:

And finally Exodus chapter 16 where it is claimed the Sabbath was observed before the law was given. 

Exodus 16-22And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses.23And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning. 24And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein. 25And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day is a sabbath unto the LORD: to day ye shall not find it in the field. 26Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none.

This is, as they correctly assert BEFORE the law of Moses was given in chapter 20. However NONE of these passages prove that the Sabbath was being observed before it was observed in Exodus 16 which is the FIRST time we see anyone observing it. 

There is NO record of Adam, Noah or Abraham keeping the sabbath or ANYONE for that matter before The Israelites did so in the wilderness. To assert otherwise is assumption and is not a biblical claim. 

There are claims that Moses had prior knowledge of the Sabbath. However Moses is never recorded as having kept it and also we see at the beginning of the chapter that it is God that tells him about the sabbath.

Exodus 16- 4Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no. 5And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily

Moses then communicates this instruction.

When we look at the passage in Exodus we will see that this was actually the FIRST time that they were instructed to keep it. The command regarding the Sabbath was instigated in chapter 16 of Exodus and then became a SIGN as part of the law. 

Moses in this chapter tells the Israelites that tomorrow was going to be A Sabbath …not THE Sabbath as in THE Sabbath of the law. There is NO definitive article here in the Greek. While we can input the word “the” Sabbath in the English we cannot equate a or the Sabbath which was being instigated here and THE Sabbath of the Law. 

Moses here is explaining the Sabbath to them as they had not been given it before this time. 

The Israelites were actually commanded to stay in their tents (their place)  during this time 

Exodus 16- 29See, for that the LORD hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. 

This is NOT the command that was imputed for the Sabbath given as part of the law. 

God gave them HIS Sabbaths. The Sabbath was made known to them.

Ezekiel 20: 10But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: 11For insix days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Nehemiah 9:13Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments:14And madest known unto them thy holy sabbath, and commandedst them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant:

The Sabbath was HIS Sabbath. The Sabbath of the LORD …It was the day that HE rested. 

Exodus 20-10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

God had made the Sabbath in which he rested from his works for man which is why it states the Sabbath was made for man. 

Mark 2-27 And he said unto them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:

Man was meant to live in the Sabbath where God had ceased to create. He was to live in the 7th day.  The day that God had sanctified and blessed.

Genesis 1- 2And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. 3And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

Adam was not burdened with the law or actual work. His only “work” was to tend the garden of Eden.

Genesis 2- And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. 

This being the Hebrew  עָבַד abad meaning to serve and שָׁמַר Shamar which means to keep guard or preserve it. Adam was simply to serve and to keep guard. 

It isn’t until after the fall where Adam would have to actually work 

Genesis 3- 17And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;

The Sabbath that God gave the Israelites was simply 1 day of rest from all their labours and as a sign of his covenant with them.

Although the law is no more and so there is no Sabbath day to be kept those who are in Christ enter back into the Sabbath rest of the LORD and so rests from his on works (of the law)

Hebrews 4-9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. 10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.

Christ  is our Sabbath rest. We rest from our works unto the law. 

Christ has redeemed those that were under the law.

Galatians 3- 10For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. 11But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. 12And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. 13Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

We are now under the new covenant with a new law not the law of Moses that was added as part of the first covenant made with Israel but only until Christ would come. 

The law of Moses did not exist before Moses and it no longer is in effect after Christ.  Abraham kept the laws and commands given to him not the law of Moses.