The Genesis of Justice: Ten Stories of Biblical Injustice that Led to the Ten Commandments and Modern Morality and Law

The Genesis of Justice: Ten Stories of Biblical Injustice that Led to the Ten Commandments and Modern Morality and Law

Alan M. Dershowitz

Language: English

Pages: 209

ISBN: 2:00151481

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Alan Dershowitz is one of America's most famous litigation experts. In the Genesis of Justice he examines the Genesis narratives to bring to the reader an insight into the creation of the ten commandments and much of what is now law.

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legal analysis yields fascinating passages… . It’s fun to see Dershowitz’s skill at building many-leveled trial arguments from the few available facts.” —American Lawyer “An important contribution.” —Publishers Weekly “A fascinating book … stimulating and engaging.” —Salt Lake City Deseret News “Alan M. Dershowitz breathes life and disputation into that most lively and disputatious biblical text, the Book of Genesis. THE GENESIS OF JUSTICE is a feisty, freewheeling investigation into the

relationship between God and the Jewish people is covenantal—that is, in the nature of a legally binding contract. As one commentator has put it: “God is transformed from an ‘absolute’ into a ‘constitutional’ monarch. He is bound, as man is bound, to the conditions of the constitution.” 2 There are certainly examples in contemporary life of parents making contracts with their children: allowance in exchange for tasks; rewards for good grades. There are even instances in history of slaveholders

shoots back. “For absolutely nothing, they only give you five years!” If a commentator begins with the premise that certain biblical heroes can do no wrong, he must necessarily find fault with those who have been killed or otherwise punished by the hero. This variation on the “blame the victim” defense recurs in the story of Job and among some traditional commentaries. Job’s friends are certain he must have sinned to have been punished so harshly. Traditional commentators argue that even

mercy, grace and deformalization of the law. 14 He can show the way with examples of goodness and righteousness that transcend the rigidity of the law books of the Jewish Bible. A similar point can be made about Mohammed, who lived half a millennium after Jesus. Though the Koran deals with law to a greater extent than the New Testament, it is a somewhat later system, built as it is on the Jewish and Christian Bibles. Mohammed too can lead by example, without revealing the human weaknesses

evil inclinations—that all humans possess and to encourage the yetzer ha-tov—the good inclinations—that most humans also possess. This story is told in Genesis. It will continue as long as Adams and Eves are tempted by serpents, Cains are enraged by jealousy, Abrahams fight for justice, Jacobs succeed by deception, Tamars are blamed for men’s passions, Josephs are falsely accused, and God does not always bring about visible justice. In other words, the story of Genesis will continue until the

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