The 613 Mitzvot in the Jewish Tanach

Here I had intended to present the 613 commandments of Judaism but then I thought better of it. I was thinking in my own mind, that no one bother to read that much text. I will just briefly introduce the fundamentals of the laws. I think it is important that we understand the extent of these laws and regulations. There are as many as 613 Commandments, more than the ten laws that G-d gave to Moses on Mount Sinai. It is also important that we understand that these laws are an extension of the original laws. As time passed, and Israel’s population grew in number, there were also a need for a more detailed description of the laws. As the people met more and more challenges from the surrounding pagan peoples, I guess there was a need to make laws to distinguish Israel from other nations. That, among other reasons, is why the Holiness and Sacrificial laws takes such a large space of the total number of laws.

This list of the 613 mitzvot (the commandments) presented here, are based on the list compiled by Rambam in Mishneh Torah (oral tradition, that was later written down). Commandments that can be observed today are marked according to the Chafetz Chayim’s Concise Book of Mitzvot. The laws are divided into positive and negative commandments, but not in my list because of lack of space. There are also laws that only refer to Israel. Commandments that cannot be observed today primarily relate to the Temple, its sacrifices and services because the Temple does not exist and criminal procedures because the theocratic state of Israel does not exist. This is perhaps something for Dominion Covenant Church in Omaha to think about (read my text “Conservative Religiosity – Death Penalty For Gays”, April 30).

A Google search for “mitzvot+homosexuality” gives almost one million hits! That gives us a hint that this topic is a burning one. Perhaps that is what we call “Kosher Sex”? I often read what Bible websites say in this area and I see the lack of respect that many preachers and Bible scholars have for the Levitical laws in general and Tanach in particular.
For simplicity, the laws are divided into following groups:

• G-d: (Ex. 20:2-3, 22:27/28, Deut. 5:6, 28:9, Lev. 6:4-5,13,16,10:20, 24:4, 16, 22:32)
• Torah: (Lev. 19:32, Deut. 6:7, 10:20, 13:1, 31:19)
• Signs & Symbols, circumsision, binding of tefillin, use of Mezuzah on doorposts and other signs: Gen. 12:3, 17:12; Num. 15:38, Deut. 6:8-9)
• Prayer & Blessing: (Ex. 23:25, Lev. 26:1, Deut. 6:7,13, 8:10)
• Love & Brotherhood: (Ex. 23:5, Lev. 19:14-18, Deut. 22:4)
• The Poor & Unfortunate: (Ex. 22:21, Lev. 19:9-10, 23:22, Deut. 15:7,11, 24:19-21)
• Treatment of Gentiles: (Ex. 22:20, Deut. 10:19, 15:3, 23:21)
• Marriage Divorce & Family: (Gen. 1:28, Ex. 21:10, 20:12, 21:15,17, Lev. 19:3, Deut. 22:19, 23:2-4, 8-9, 18, 24:1,4-5, 25:5,7-9, Num. 5:30).
• Forbidden Sexual Relations: (Lev. 18:6-20,23-24).
• Times & Seasons (Holy new months and years, celebrations): Ex. 12:2,16,18-20, 13:3,7-8, 16:29, 20:8,10, 23:12,14, 34:21, Lev. 23:6-8,15,21,24-25,27,29,31-32,35,36,40,42, Deut. 16:3,14,16, Num. 29:1)
• Dietary laws (Clean and unclean food among other): Gen. 32:33, Ex. 21:28,22:30, 23:19, 34:26, Lev. 7:23,26, 11:2,4,9,11,13,21,41-43,44,46, 17:3,13, 22:6-7,28, Deut. 12:21,23,14:11,19,21, 21:20)
• Business Practices (Ethics in financial matters): Ex. 22:24, Lev. 19:35-36, 25:14,37, Deut. 23:20, 24:6,10,12-13,17, 25:13-14)
• Employees Servants & Slaves: Ex. 21:2-6,8-9, Lev. 19:13, 25:39,42-43,53, 25:46, Deut. 15:13-14, 23:16-17,25-26, 24:15, 25:4
• Vows Oaths & Swearing: Ex. 20:7, Deut. 10:20, 23:22,24, Lev. 19:12, Num. 30:2-17
• The Sabbatical & Jubilee Years: Ex. 23:11, Lev. 25:2,4-5,8-11,24, Deut. 15:2,9, 31:12
• The Court & Judicial Procedure. Appointing judges and officers in Israeli communities: Ex. 20:13, 21:33-33-36, 22:4,5,6,7,8,27, 23:1-3,6-8, Lev. 5:1, 19:15, 25:14, Deut. 1:17, 13:15, 16:18, 17:11, 24:16-17, Num. 27:8-11, 35:12, 30
• Injuries & Damages: Deut. 22:8, 25:12
• Property & Property Rights: Lev. 5:23, 19:11, 25:23,29,34, Deut. 17:16, 22:1, 3
• Criminal laws: Ex. 20:13-14, Lev. 19:11,13, Deut. 5:18, Num. 15:39
• Punishment & Restitution: Ex. 21:16, 18-19, 37, 20:10, 14, 24, 22:1, 15-16,35:3, Lev. 20:10, 14, 24, Deut. 19:3, 13, 19, 21:4, 22-23, 22:24, 26, 28-29, Num. 35:25, 31-32
• Prophecy: Ex. 20:4, 5, 17, 20, 23:12-13, 32, 33, 34:17, Lev. 18:3, 21, 19:4, 26-28, 31, 20:23, Deut. 12:2-3, 13:4, 13:9, 16-18, 14:1, 16:21-22, 18:10-11, 15, 20, 22, 7:2, 25, 26, 32:38
• Agriculture & Animal Husbandry: Lev. 19:19, 23-24, Deut. 22:9-10
• Clothing: Lev. 19:19, 23-24, Deut. 22:5, 11
• The Firstborn: Ex. 13:13, 34:20, Num. 18:15, 17
• Kohanim (High Priest) & Levites: Ex. 28:2, 32, Lev. 16:2, 21:1-3, 6-8, 11, 13-15, 17, 21, 23, 22:2-3, Num. 5:2-3, 6:23, 15:20, 18:3, 4-7, 23, 35:2, Deut. 18:1, 6-8
• T’Rumah (donation of gifts) Tithes & Taxes: Ex. 22:44-45, 22:28, 30:13, Lev. 22:3-4, 10, 15, 27:30, 32-33, Num. 18:24, 26, Deut. 12:17, 19, 14:22, 28-29, 18:3-4, 26:13-14
• The Temple Sanctuary & Sacred Objects: Ex. 20:22-23, 25:8, 15, 27:21, 28:28, 30:7, 9, 19, 31-33, 37, Lev. 5:16, 6:3, 6, 10:6-7, 9-11, 19:30, Num. 9:11-12, 10:9-10, 18:2, 5, Deut. 12:2-4
• Sacrifices & Offerings: Covers a larger part of the Mitzvot, 117 laws, Exod. ch. 23,24,29, Lev. ch. 1,2,3,6,7,10,14,15,19,22,23,27, Num. ch. 5,28,29, Deut. ch. 12,14-17,23,26
• Lepers & Leprosy: Lev. 13:33, 14:1-7,9, Deut. 24:8
• The King: Ex. 22:27, Deut. 17:15-18
• Wars: Deut. 3:22, 7:2, 20:2-3,10,16-17,19-20, 21:10-14, 23:7,13,14-15, 25:17,19
• Nazarites: (nazir, נזיר, Samson was a nazir, a sacred person with special gifts, a holy man, similar to a prophet, often close to the king): Numbers 6:3-9.

Just a little note about something I was thinking of while bringing up the Nazarite. It has for a long time been assumed among Bible readers, that the Bible passage from Matthew’s Gospel speaks of Jesus as a nazir.

But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Then after being warned by God in a dream, he left for the regions of Galilee, and came and lived in a city called Nazareth. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: “He shall be called a Nazarene.” (Matthew 2:22, 23 NASB)

Matthew is taking a supposed prophecy from the Jewish Bible, but there is no such prophecy. There is nothing that tells us that Jesus will be called a Nazarene or that he would be a nazir, which other Bible translations may assume. And Nazareth is never mentioned in the Jewish Bible! Perhaps Matthew was thinking of a word in Isaiah 11:1 about the netzer (“shoot”)?

And there shall come forth a shoot (netzer, וְנֵצֶר) out of the stock of Jesse, and a twig shall grow forth out of his roots. (Isaiah 11:1, Hebr/Eng Bible, JPS 1917)

As we see in the Laws on the natzir (see above), a nazir would not drink wine among other things, but Jesus drank wine with his disciples. But despite Isaiah’s use of the term, nothing indicates that the Messiah would be called netzer. An alternate suggestion connects Matthew’s usage with the word natsar, “guard” or “keeper.”

Matthew is not referring to the Messiah as being a Nazarite, for nowhere in the Jewish Scriptures is it said that the Messiah will take the Nazarite vow. Furthermore, the spelling of the words Nazarite, nazir (from the Hebrew root N-Z-R), and Nazarene, notsri (from the Hebrew root N-TZ- R), are not the same in Hebrew.

Is Matthew comparing Nazarene and netser (or natsar) or Nazarene and Nazarite? That is illogical, for there is no basis for either claim. The reason why Matthew 2:23 have Jesus being called Nazarene (Greek, “Nazoraios”) is because he lived in Nazareth (Greek, “Nazaret”). It has nothing to do with netser, natsar, or nazir. Matthew and later Bible interpreters are just playing with words.

© 2012 Jonathan Axelsson
אתר הבית של יונתן
Twitter @tzedaqyal

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About Meadow of Tzedaqyal

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience” (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, 1881-1955)
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