Ideals of Conduct: An Exposition of Moral Attitudes

By John Dashiell Stoops | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIII
DISASSOCIATION AS REFLECTED IN THE PRIESTLY LAW

In the Babylonian Exile the Hebrews lost political control over their affairs; and this event marked a fundamental turning-point in the evolution of their moral and social ideals. It became clear that national salvation demanded a policy of political acquiescence, of subordination to the great world-powers. The petty governors of Judea were occasionally regarded as forerunners of the Messianic King, but more and more this political idea receded into the background. Set free from the old social order of the State, the Hebrew out of his very need began to create institutions that were not political. One of these institutions was the Priestly Law. It has been said that the Hebrews went to Babylon a nation and returned a church; but the change was not so sudden as this; the Priestly view was the outcome of a long growth. David made Jerusalem a national stronghold; Isaiah preached its inviolability; the Deuteronomic law of 621 made Zion the center of Hebrew religious life; Ezekiel in Babylon drew up a Priestly code of laws for the restored community of Zion. The Priestly codes cover the period from 600 to 400. Ezekiel's code (Chapters 40-48) was the beginning; he formulated the principles which afterwards became the basis of the

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