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The love of God and of one's neighbour was the great precept of the Law, its summary and abridgment, that on which the whole Law and the Prophets depended.In spite of the undeniable superiority in this respect of the Mosaic Law to the other codes of antiquity, it has not escaped the adverse criticism of heretics in all ages and of Rationalists in our own day.In this article we shall confine our attention exclusively to the moral precepts of the Divine Law.In the Old Testament it is contained for the most part and summed up in the Decalogue ( Exodus 20:2-17 ; Leviticus 19:3, 11-18 ; Deuteronomy 5:1-33 ).This is not the same as to say that the whole of the Old Law was revealed to Moses.
The practice was doubtless already familiar to the Israelites of the time, as it was to their neighbours.
The tribes of Chanaan richly deserved the fate to which they were condemned by God ; and if there were innocent people among the guilty, God is the absolute Lord of life and death, and He commits no injustice when He takes away what He has given.
Besides, He can make up by gifts of a higher order in another life for sufferings which have been patiently endured in this life.
We must bear in mind that God, the Creator and Lord of all things, and the Supreme Judge of the world, can do and command things which man the creature is not authorized to do or command.
On this principle we may account for and defend the command given by God to exterminate certain nations, and the permission given by Him to the Israelites to spoil the Egyptians.