Was there an oral law before the law of Moses? Assertions Noah and Moses.
Some people claim that before the law given through Moses was written down that this law existed in oral form. It is asserted that Adam, Abel, Noah, Abraham and Moses were all aware of and followed this law. I have dealt in great detail with many of the assertions regarding Abel and Abraham. In this short writing I am going to deal with a few more assertions. What we will see is that assertions are all that they are and in fact the Bible answers these assertions and shows them incorrect.
We must first point out that the Bible itself NEVER refers to this oral law. Not one person makes any mention of it. If the law in oral form did exist before the law was written down
One assertion that is made is in regards to Noah. It being asserted that Noah knew about clean and unclean animals before the law was given through Moses and so Noah must have been aware of the laws.
So let’s have a look at the claim.
Genesis 7- 1And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. 2Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female. 3Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth
So it would appear that Noah did know clean and unclean animals as it is correct that we are not told what animals are clean and unclean until Leviticus.
However there is actually more information that we are given in the book of Genesis regarding these animals.
If we go back just one to Genesis 6 we see that Noah is told the animals would come to him.
Genesis 6-19And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. 20Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive.
Noah was not instructed to go out and collect the clean and unclean animals himself. Noah did not need to know which animals were clean and which were unclean before they arrived.
But what about after they arrived? How would Noah know which animals were clean and unclean if they all just turned up without Noah being told or having prior knowledge?
Well the Bible answers this as well.
The clean animals would come in 7 pairs and the unclean animals would come in one single pair, male and female. If there were 7 pairs the animals were clean if there was one pair then the animals were unclean.
How do we know this? We simply read the text in full.
Genesis 7- 2Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female.
So we see that although the animals would come by 2’s (a pair, male and female.) There would actually be 7 pairs of the clean animals.
If we look at the Hebrew of Genesis 7-2
מכל ׀ הבהמה הטהורה תקח־לך שבעה שבעה איש ואשתו ומן־הבהמה אשר לא טהרה הוא שנים איש ואשתו׃
What we will see is that the Hebrew here actually uses the word שִׁבְעָ֥ה שִׁבְעָ֥ה sheba or shibah which means 7, twice. . So the Hebrew states 7, 7 not simply 7. A male and his female. There would be 7 male and 7 female of the clean animals.
Of the unclean animals it simply states 2 a male and his female
Notice also that AFTER the flood when animals were allowed to be eaten for the first time, which in itself shows that Adam and everyone before the flood were not subject to the same dietary laws seeing they were not only instructed to not eat unclean animals but they were not allowed to eat animals at all, there is NO distinction between clean and unclean in what Noah and his family were instructed they could eat. The only restriction was that they could not eat the blood thereof.
There simply was no requirement for Noah to have knowledge of clean and unclean animals before the animals came to the Ark. In the covenant that God made with Noah, Noah also had no law against the eating of clean and unclean animals like the Israelites within their covenant.
Now when it came to the sacrifice that Noah offered to the LORD, we will see that he did sacrifice only clean animals.
Genesis 8- 20And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar
However to claim that Noah was doing so as per the commands of the law is simply ridiculous.
We see that Noah offered one of EVERY clean beast and EVERY clean fowl. There is NO command in the law that states to do this. Noah most certainly did offer only clean animals but it was in no way in accordance to the law. Simply taking the fact that Noah offered clean animals and then asserting that this was done as per the law is disingenuous. Anyone asserting Noah offered the clean animals according to the law clearly does not know the law or completely ignored the fact Noah sacrificed one of EVERY single clean animal.
What is also important to remember here is that Noah took 7 pairs of clean animals onto the Ark and ONE pair of unclean animals. If he had offered one of every unclean animal along with the clean animals he would have actually sent every single unclean animal into extinction. Moses did not need the Torah to work that one out.
I must at this time state that EVEN if Noah was told by God how to build an altar and how to offer burnt offerings it would not show that Noah was under the same Torah as that given through Moses. There is NO recorded occurrence of Noah being circumcised, circumcising his sons, tithing, keeping Passover or keeping Sabbath which had Noah actually been following the law he would have been required to do.
Deuteronomy 5-3 very clearly states that the Israelites were given a Torah that their fathers had NOT been given.
Deuteronomy 5-3 The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.
How did Moses and Jethro know to sacrifice before the law was given ?
It is asserted that Moses must have known about sacrifice to the LORD through the oral law when we see him and his father in law Jethro sacrifice to God in Exodus chapter 18 before the law was given.
Exodus 18- 12And Jethro, Moses’ father in law, took a burnt offering and sacrifices for God: and Aaron came, and all the elders of Israel, to eat bread with Moses’ father in law before God.
However this assertion is shown incorrect in the same book just 15 chapters earlier in chapter 3 when God sent Moses to Pharaoh.
Exodus 3- 18And they shall hearken to thy voice: and thou shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye shall say unto him, The LORD God of the Hebrews hath met with us: and now let us go, we beseech thee, three days’ journey into the wilderness, 👉that we may sacrifice👈 to the LORD our God.
God had instructed Moses to sacrifice to the LORD in the wilderness and so when they do sacrifice in the wilderness to God this is not because they did so as following the law but following the instruction that they had been given by God.
As we can see these assertions are shown incorrect when we just look closer at scripture. Nobody was following the oral law before the law was given through Moses because there simply was no oral law before the law was given through Moses.