Laws are enforceable rules and regulations set to govern the social behavior of people in the society. In the society, every person had to do what the rules states or face punishments. In the book of exodus in the Old Testament, God saved the people of Israelites from their bondage in Egypt. When they reached Mt Sinai, he gave Moses commandments, which would govern the lives of the people. The rules stated how they would worship God, make sacrifices and live with other people. God attached rewards to the obedience of the laws stating that he would make them a holy nation, full of priests to worship him. However, he also attached punishments to the rules for any person who breaks the rules.
In the story of the Oresteia, the furies of the time allowed making human sacrifices before any major activity like war. However, the spilling of blood for one person results in subsequent spilling of more blood since the chorus states that any blood stain can only be cleansed by more blood. When Agamemnon kills his daughter as a sacrifice, his wife avenges by killing. The son to Agamemnon then kills the mother for killing his father. However, the pain does not go away. Eventually, the furies and the courts represented by humans agreed to make decisions together in administering the laws.
In the Herodotus story, the gods are subject to the same rules as the human beings. The gods are very emotional and pity the human beings when they suffer. In addition, the strong human beings have the ability to hurt the gods and kill their sons. They also admit that there are situations they cannot change, and wish that those close to them do not get affected. The gods can also attack and hurt each other in the event of wars or even pity those who get hurt. However, the gods would eventually get back to revenge the hurting of their kind, and result to shameful deaths of their attackers. In some situations, the other gods intervened to request the god not to hurt human beings since it would result to more violence.
The Relationship between God and the Law in Exodus
Law refers to the revelation of God’s will in the Old Testament. Law forms one of the primary concepts in the bible. The laws form a part of the story of God amiably launching a personal relationship with the people of Israel as a distinct nation from the other nations. God first saves the people from their bondage in Egypt and then sets the laws to govern their relationship through the covenant at Mt. Sinai. This covenant provided the basis for all laws governing the lives of the Israelites. Following the laws in the book of exodus would provide the Israelites with good health and wholeness of the covenant community.
The laws in the book of exodus are very specific and usually begin with a “when” or “if” and deals with very specific situations. Many times, these laws have punishments attached to them in the event that people breaks them. In the book of exodus, 22:1, the scriptures read, “ if a person steals a goat or an ox and sells it or slaughters it, then he shall pay four sheep for the stolen sheep and five oxen for then stolen ox. After Moses and the Hebrews fled Egypt, it took then three months to get to Mt. Sinai. God appeared to them through lighting and a cloud of thunder. Moses climbed the mountain where God gave them the Ten Commandments written on two stone tablets, which would guide their way of life, (Exodus 19: 1). The commandments had the general ethical behavior, as well as a series of laws regarding sacrifices, worship, personal property and social justice. God then gave instructions to Moses saying that the Israelites should obey him completely, keep the covenant, and if they do so, he would make their nation a special treasure, with a kingdom full of priests to serve him. (Exodus 19: 1-6). God would make them a holy nation. In this case, God attempts to explain to the people that obedience to the laws was an indication of commitment to God’s covenant.
These commandments negatively define the relationship between The Israelites and God. The first four covenants relates to one’s personal relationship with God while the other six defines how human beings relate with each other. Accordingly, the right relationship with God compels one to the right relationship with other human beings. Duty to God and human beings are not separated. The Ten Commandments were abiding for all the nations and not just the Hebrews. While some of the laws given by God seem to be applicable to certain places, times and people, the Ten Commandments have a binding quality. What makes these commandments exceptional is the character of the divine God who gave them to the people. Without God, these laws would definitely lose their distinctiveness.
The relationship between god(s) and the Oresteia
The ancient Furies Law mandated spilling of blood to end unending cycle of doom. However, the bloody spills do not end and ends up in spilling of more and more blood. In the opening lines, the chorus states that the blood that the earth drinks do not sink through since it clots hard, and breeds frenzy and revenge which go through the guilty. It states that nothing else can be sued to wash off a blood stain apart from more and more blood (Fagles 3). The chorus gives no solution to the horrible state of violence which in turn bleeds more violence.
From the outset of trilogy, we encounter a world full of miseries and problems of the Trojan War, and blemished by murderous House of Atreus. In each generation, there are acts of retribution and violence, intermingling between the public and private realms. Agamemnon sacrificed his own daughter before going into the war against the troy, and to avenge the sacrifice, Clytemnestra killed Agamemnon for sacrificing her child. According to Fagles (5) “Orestes, the son to Agamemnon kills his mother in The Libation Bearers in revenge for killing Agamemnon, in the hope that the sacrifice will help to solve the troubled state of affairs”.
After killing his mother, the furies begin tormenting his conscience, which drives him from the place he initially assumed would help him recover his patrimony. This depicts the fact the furies are both physically repugnant and fiercely reasonable in administering punishment. The culmination of the play brings into action archaic history into the crucible of Athenian thought and culture into the civic and intellectual world. In the debates between the Furies, Apollo and Athena, Aeschylus reveals elements that needs balancing and held in tension to establish resolute civic order. This shows that in the end, the gods and people take part in making rules and administering punishments to the offenders. This is unlike the laws in the Exodus, where God was the maker of the rules, and clearly defined the punishment that would accompany any attempt to break the laws.
The relationship between god(s) and the law Herodotus
Herodotus argues that the Persian was caused not just by human imperialism, but also the gods’ enviousness of human beings’ happiness. The gods tempts people to act beyond their limits, and when they set to human greatness, they lose everything that they have, in that even the kings and leaders lose everything they ever had. He gives an illustration of the Persian King Cambyses’ character and behavior in Egypt. When he conquered Egypt, he became uncontrollable and attacked the Holy Apis bulland ordered the execution of his own brother. He then starts an incestuous relation with his sisters and murders the son of his Vizier. He orders the alive burial of 12 noblemen and eventually vandalizes the Egyptian mummies and tombs. Cambyses had definitely transgressed his own limit and his death was a clear form of divine punishment. Cambyses leapt upon his horse intending to go to the capital and attack the disloyal magos. But as he sprung into the saddle, the cap of his sword fell, which exposed its blade. The blade pierced him though the thigh at the exact position he had pierced the Scared Egyptian Bull.
According to Herodotus, the gods are subject to the same laws as human beings and even human piety towards the gods is not capable of preventing mortal beings from desolation. “When the king of Lydia, Croesus is defeated by the Persians, he asks the god Apollo and Delphi if it is the tendency of Greek gods to be so ungrateful”. Delphi answers that he as well could not escape destiny even though he had been glad that the collapse affected Lydia and his sons since he would not have been able to revert or divert the course of destiny.
He also reinforces the fact that gods are subject to the same laws as a human being since they are very personal and anthropomorphic, in that they have the fundamental human emotions, and they interact closely with the mortal beings. They engage in fighting alongside human beings, and help or destroy them based on their aversion to the beings and their teams or their emotional attachment. The gods pity each other when they get killed and assist each other when one is too weak to continue the fight. In addition, men who are too strong end up hurting the gods. However, the gods then revenge against the men who hurt them (Herodotus 114). For instance, Patroklos is an adept fighter, who manages to kill Sarpedon, Zeus son, having torn through the walls of Archaen. The death of sarpedon pushes Zeus into anger and sadness, eventually leading to the shameful death of Patroklos. Odysses, on the other hand, is strong enough to the extent of hurting a god’s son. He violently attacks and blinds Poseidon’s son. In reprisal, Poseidon makes Odysses’s homecoming rough and the angry mob want to beat him and punish him for killing his suitors.
Are divine and civic order completely aligned?
There is a linear relationship between divine order and civic order in that both of them aim at directing and guiding the way of life of people. In most cases, the divine orders direct how people worship, sacrifice and recognize their Gods. It mostly defines the relationship between people and their supreme beings. The civic order, on the other hands, defines how people relate with each other and how they respect the governing authority. Civic orders involve the forms of government in place in any particular place, and how the people in positions of authority use their positions to align the lives of people. However, both the divine and civic orders aim at ensuring a harmonious existence of people. The civic orders govern people through a set of rules and regulations, which clearly stipulates the punishment connected with breaking of any of the rules. The divine orders, on the other hand, insist that obedience to God amounts to obedience to human beings. Coexisting harmoniously is a way of honoring God, and thus divine orders and civic orders are completely.