April 27, 2000
Updated: March, 2003
(Rom 1:17) For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written (Hab 2:4), The just shall live by faith.
(Hab 2:4) Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.
[Note: The Talmud is the "oral law" of Jewish tradition, composed of the Mishnah and the Gemara. The Mishnah is the "legal rulings" while the Gemara is the commentary on those rulings. Together they make up the Talmud. In the Soncino Translation of the Talmud below, the text composed of capital letters is the Mishnah, with the regular text being the Gemara. I have added Scripture references in parentheses.]
Talmud - Mas. Makkoth 24a
[In this portion of the Talmud, several Rabbis discuss the "guiding principle" or "essence" of the Torah.]
THEREFORE GAVE HE THEM TORAH (TEACHINGS) AND MANY COMMANDMENTS . . .
R. Simlai when preaching said: Six hundred and thirteen precepts were communicated to Moses, three hundred and sixty-five negative precepts, corresponding to the number of solar days [in the year], and two hundred and forty-eight positive precepts, corresponding to the number of the members of man's body...
...David came and reduced them to eleven [principles], as it is written, "A Psalm of David. Lord, who shall sojourn in Thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in Thy holy mountain?
[i] He that walketh uprightly, and
[ii] worketh righteousness, and
[iii] speaketh truth in his heart; that
[iv] hath no slander upon his tongue,
[v] nor doeth evil to his fellow,
[vi] nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour,
[vii] in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but
[viii] he honoureth them that fear the Lord,
[ix] He sweareth to his own hurt and changeth not,
[x] He putteth not out his money on interest,
[xi] nor taketh a bribe against the innocent.
He that doeth these things shall never be moved. (Psa 15:1-5)
...Isaiah came and reduced them to six [principles], as it is written,
[i] He that walketh righteously, and
[ii] speaketh uprightly,
[iii] He that despiseth the gain of oppressions,
[iv] that shaketh his hand from holding of bribes,
[v] that stoppeth his ear from hearing of blood,
[vi] and shutteth his eyes from looking upon evil;
he shall dwell on high. (Isa 33:15-16a)
...Micah came and reduced them to three [principles], as it is written, It hath been told thee, O man, what is good, and what the Lord doth require of thee:
[i] only to do justly, and
[ii] to love mercy and
[iii] to walk humbly before thy God. (Micah 6:8)
...Again came Isaiah and reduced them to two [principles], as it is said, Thus saith the Lord,
[i] Keep ye justice and
[ii] do righteousness [etc.] (Isa 56:1)
Amos came and reduced them to one [principle], as it is said, For thus saith the Lord unto the house of Israel, Seek ye Me and live. (Amos 5:4)
To this R. Nahman b. Isaac demurred, saying: [Might it not be taken as,] Seek Me by observing the whole Torah and live? But it is Habakuk who came and based them all on one [principle], as it is said, But the righteous shall live by his faith. (Hab 2:4)
(Soncino Talmud, Makkoth 24a)
Shulam, Joseph. A Commentary on the Jewish Roots of Romans, (c) 1997.
The Soncino Talmud, CDRom Edition. (c) 1991-1999 Institute for Computers in Jewish Life, Davka Corp, & Judaica Press, Inc.