Torah before Mount Sinai
Updated: Feb 9
The argument has been put forth by many within Christianity and even those outside of the religion such as Muslims and secularists, that the Torah was not given to the Hebrews until Mount Sinai. But do the scriptures support another narrative? I have reasoned that the Torah was given well before Moses, although perhaps not in written form. Using various verses found before the Mount Sinai event, I will present my case that the Father’s instructions have been an integral part of the believer’s way since the beginning.
“And יהוה Elohim commanded the man, saying, “Eat of every tree of the garden, but do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for in the day that you eat of it you shall certainly die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)
Although I have never seen this added in a list of Torah commands, given the strictest definition of Torah, which is the Father’s instructions, then this most certainly fits that classification.
“And it came to be, in the course of time, that Qayin (Cain) brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to יהוה. And Heḇel (Abel) also brought of the first-born of his flock and of their fat. And יהוה looked to Heḇel (Abel) and his offering, but He did not look to Qayin (Cain) and his offering. And Qayin (Cain) was very wroth, and his face fell. And יהוה said to Qayin (Abel), “Why is he wroth towards you? And why is your face fallen? Is it not if you do good, you are to be accepted? And if you do not do good, towards the door is a sin. He is lying and towards you is his desire, and you must rule over him.” (Genesis 4:3-7)
Cain and Abel present offerings to Elohim, but how did they know what was to be offered? When they should offer? We can read in the Torah that the firstborn of the flock belongs to YHWH and so does the fat of sacrificed animals. We also learn that during the Mo’edim of First Fruits,
“Bring the first of the first-fruits of your land into the House of יהוה your Elohim.” (Exodus 23:19)
Genesis chapter 4 states that Cain brought his fruit of the ground, no mention of it being his first, and considering the Father’s reaction, it was not Cain’s first fruits. If the Torah had not yet been given, then how could Abel and Cain possibly know what to do for first fruits? The text seems to imply that in some fashion the Torah had been given.
"And Qayin (Cain) told Heḇel (Abel) his brother. And it came to be when they were in the field, that Qayin (Cain) rose up against Heḇel (Abel) his brother and killed him. And יהוה said to Qayin (Cain), “Where is Heḇel (Abel) your brother?” And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s guard?” And He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground. “And now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.” (Genesis 4:8-11)
Cain being punished for killing his brother is another example of Cain breaking a commandment and being chastised for it. If the Torah had not yet being given then there would be no sin to punish.
“Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.” (1 John 3:4)
“This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with Elohim.” (Genesis 6:9)
How could Noah be counted as righteous without having some sort of standard for living life according to YHWH?
“So that the Torah truly is set-apart, and the command set-apart, and righteous, and good.” (Romans 7:12)
“For not the hearers of the Torah are righteous in the sight of Elohim, but the doers of the Torah shall be declared right.” (Romans 2:13)
Furthermore, how could those people who died from the flood be properly judged for death if the Torah had not yet been established?
“…for where there is no Torah there is no transgression.” (Romans 4:15)
“Of all the clean beasts take with you seven pairs, a male and his female; and of the beasts that are unclean two, a male and his female.” (Genesis 7:2)
Again, had the Torah not been created yet, then Noah would have no idea about clean and unclean animals. The list for clean and unclean animals can be found in Leviticus chapter 11.
“And Noaḥ built a slaughter-place to יהוה, and took of every clean beast and of every clean bird, and offered ascending offerings on the slaughter-place. And יהוה smelled a soothing fragrance, and יהוה said in His heart, “Never again shall I curse the ground because of man, although the inclination of man’s heart is evil from his youth, and never again strike all living creatures, as I have done, as long as the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” (Genesis 8:20-22)
After the flood and the water receded, Noah built a slaughter place to YHWH and sacrificed the clean animals, his offering was a soothing fragrance to the Most High. Noah could only possibly know this, if he had been given instructions from YHWH, aka the Torah. The procedures for ascending offerings are found in Leviticus chapter 1.
“But do not eat flesh with its life, its blood.” (Genesis 9:4)
YHWH instructs Noah and his family not to eat the blood of animals, which is a part of the Torah.
“And any man of the house of Yisra’ĕl (Israel), or of the strangers who sojourn among you, who eats any blood, I shall set My face against that being who eats blood, and shall cut him off from among his people.” (Leviticus 17:10)
“Only, be strong not to eat the blood, for the blood is the life, do not eat the life with the meat.” (Deuteronomy 12:23)
“But only your blood for your lives I require, from the hand of every beast I require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man’s brother I require the life of man. Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood is shed, for in the image of Elohim has He made man.” (Genesis 9:5-6)
The Father reestablishes that murder is a sin and prescribes death for anyone or any animal that caused the demise of the individual. Once again, this is a part of the Torah.
“He who strikes a man so that he dies shall certainly be put to death.” (Exodus 21:12)
“And when an ox gores a man or a woman to death, then the ox shall certainly be stoned, and its flesh is not eaten, and the owner of the ox is innocent.” (Exodus 21:28)
Even these two verses take place before Moses ascends Mount Sinai.
And Ḥam, the father of Kena‛an, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. So Shĕm and Yapheth (Japheth) took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father, but their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. And Noah awoke from his wine, and he knew what his younger son had done to him, and he said, “Cursed is Kena‛an, let him become a servant of servants to his brothers.” (Genesis 9:22-25)
I’ve heard various explanations for why Ham was cursed by his father, but according to the Torah it is a sin to look upon a parent’s nakedness, so perhaps that is why. At any rate, this is another example of the Torah being played out before Mount Sinai.
“The nakedness of your father or the nakedness of your mother you do not uncover. She is your mother; you do not uncover her nakedness.” (Leviticus 18:7)
“And יהוה appeared to Abram and said, “To your seed I give this land.” And he built there a slaughter-place to יהוה, who had appeared to him.” (Genesis 12:7)
Abram builds a slaughter place, we’ve covered Noah building one, so the same references apply.
“But the men of Seḏom (Sodom) were evil and sinned before יהוה, exceedingly so.” (Genesis 13:13)
Once again, how could the people of Sodom be judged as sinners if the Torah was not in existence? There would be no standard in which to exercise the basis for judgment.
“So Abram moved his tent, and went and dwelt by the terebinth trees of Mamrĕ, which are in Ḥeḇron, and built a slaughter-place there to יהוה.” (Genesis 13:18)
“For I have known him, so that he commands his children and his household after him, to guard the way of יהוה, to do righteousness and right-ruling, so that יהוה brings to Abraham what He has spoken to him.” (Genesis 18:19)
Here YHWH is speaking about Abraham teaching the way of YHWH (Torah) to his children and household.
“Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Seḏom (Sodom), both old and young, all the people from every part, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, and let us ‘know’ them.” So, Lot went out to them through the doorway, and shut the door behind him, and said, “Please, my brothers, do not do evil!” (Genesis 19:4-7)
An example of homosexuality being claimed to be an evil (sinful) act before Mount Sinai.
“And do not lie with a male as with a woman, it is an abomination.” (Leviticus 18:22)
“And it came to be on the next day that the first-born said to the younger, “See, I lay with my father last night. Let us make him drink wine tonight as well, and you go in and lie with him, so that we keep the seed of our father.” So, they made their father drink wine that night as well. And the younger arose and lay with him, and he was not aware of it when she lay down or when she arose. Thus, both the daughters of Lot became pregnant by their father. And the first-born bore a son and called his name Mo’aḇ, he is the father of the Mo’aḇites to this day. And the younger, she also bore a son and called his name Ben-Ammi, he is the father of the children of Ammon to this day.” (Genesis 19:34-38)
Incest is defined as a sin within the Torah,
“No one is to approach anyone of his own flesh to uncover his nakedness. I am יהוה.” (Leviticus 18:6)
Although Lot and his daughters are not punished at that moment, it is, however, quite telling that their offspring went on to become enemies of the Israelites. Meaning there were excluded from the Kingdom of Elohim, but praise the Father that He always provides a way for those willing to enter into the Kingdom, for example, Ruth was a Moabite until she made that citizenship change.
“And Abraham said concerning Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Aḇimeleḵ sovereign of Gerar sent and took Sarah. But Elohim came to Aḇimeleḵ in a dream by night, and said to him, “See, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.” However, Aḇimeleḵ had not come near her, and he said, “יהוה, would You kill a righteous nation also? Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she, even she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and in the innocence of my hands I have done this. And Elohim said to him in a dream, “Yes, I know that you did this in the integrity of your heart, and so I kept you from sinning against Me. For this reason I did not let you touch her. And now, return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and let him pray for you and you live. But if you do not return her, know that you shall certainly die, you and all that are yours.” (Genesis 20:2-7)
YHWH warns Abimelek not to have relations with Sarah because she is already Abraham’s wife. This whole situation warrants further investigation, but for now, I must press on and save it for another post.
“You do not commit adultery.” (Exodus 20:14)
“because Aḇraham obeyed My voice and guarded My Charge: My commands, My laws, and My Torah.” (Genesis 26:5)
Probably the most clear-cut proof that the Torah was indeed in existence before the Sinai event. With this, I believe here to be a good stopping point, although more examples are preceding Genesis 26:5 (perhaps I will do a part 2), but If you are truly anxious to discover more you could also begin researching on your own. Which is the ideal state of mind, think about any skill or subject, to become an expert in it, one must dedicate much time to the craft or topic. I have found a mixture of learning from others and independent inquiry to be highly effective. I pray that the Ruach Hakodesh leads you into all truth, that you continue to test all things, and may abba YHWH keep you safe in these trying times. Shalom.
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