In this study I would like to explore the relationship between law and grace. First let's find the definition for "grace". The word, grace, is first used in Genesis 6:8:
Genesis 6:8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of HaShem.
2580 chen, khane; from 2603; graciousness, i.e. subj. (kindness, favor) or objective (beauty):-favour, grace (-ious), pleasant, precious, [well-] favoured.
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2603 chanan, khaw-nan'; a prim. root [comp. 2583]; prop. to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior; to favor, bestow; causat. to implore (i.e. move to favor by petition):-beseech, X fair, (be, find, shew) favour (-able), be (deal), give, grant (gracious [-ly]), intreat, (be) merciful, have (shew) mercy (on, upon), have pity upon, pray, make supplication, X very.
The Midrash Rabbah contains some insights on this verse:
Midrash Rabbah - Genesis XXVIII:8 8. R. ‘Azariah said in R. Judah's name: All acted corruptly in the generation of the Flood: the dog [copulated] with the wolf, the fowl with the peacock; hence it is written, For all flesh had corrupted their way, etc. (Gen. VI, 12). R. Julian [Lulianus] b. Tiberius said in R. Isaac's name: Even the earth acted lewdly; wheat was sown and it produced pseudo-wheat, for the pseudo-wheat we now find came from the age of the deluge. R. Johanan said: We learnt: The judgment of the generation of the Flood lasted twelve months: having received their punishment, are they to enjoy a portion in the World to Come?-Said R. Johanan: The Holy One, blessed be He, will boil up in Gehenna every single drop which He poured out on them, produce it and pour it down upon them. Thus it is written, What time they wax hot, they vanish (Job VI, 17), which means, they will be destroyed absolutely by scalding water. As well their love (Eccl. IX, 6)-i.e. they loved idolatry; As their hatred (ib.): they hated the Holy One, blessed be He, and provoked His jealousy; Is long ago perished, neither have they any more a portion in the world [to come] on account of everything that was done [by them] under the sun (ib.). FOR IT REPENTETH ME, etc. R. Abba b. Kahana observed: FOR IT REPENTET H ME THAT I HAVE MADE THEM AND NOAH-surely not! Even Noah, however, was left not because he deserved it, but because he found grace: hence, BUT NOAH FOUND GRACE IN THE EYES OF THE LORD.
Genesis 6:5-9 HaShem saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. HaShem was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So HaShem said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth--men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air--for I am grieved that I have made them." But Noah found favor in the eyes of HaShem. This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.
Notice, in Genesis 6:5-9, that Noah found HaShem's grace, but, he was a righteous man. This is the opposite of those who did not find HaShem's grace: they were evil all of the time. So, grace is associated with righteous behavior.
All of the following Torah verses use this Hebrew word, grace. Lets look at each of them so that we can gain some insight as to how this word is used:
Genesis 17:27- 18:5 On that very day Abraham took his son Ishmael and all those born in his household or bought with his money, every male in his household, and circumcised them, as God told him. Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised, And his son Ishmael was thirteen; Abraham and his son Ishmael were both circumcised on that same day. And every male in Abraham's household, including those born in his household or bought from a foreigner, was circumcised with him. HaShem appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground. He said, "If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way--now that you have come to your servant." "Very well," they answered, "do as you say."
In the above verses, we find that Abraham receives HaShem's grace right after he had obeyed HaShem and circumcised himself and his whole household. The following verses indicate that Abraham obeyed the law:
Genesis 26:1-6 Now there was a famine in the land--besides
the earlier famine of Abraham's time--and Isaac went
to Abimelech king of the Philistines in Gerar. HaShem appeared to Isaac and
said, "Do not go down to
Here, we see that Abraham was justified by grace trough faith, but, he still obeyed HaShem's requirements. Commands, decrees, and Torah. HaShem seems to give grace to those who are obedient to HaShem's Torah, yet even the Torah observant, like Abraham, do not deserve the grace. Grace comes by faith, but faith is demonstrated by righteous actions.
Genesis 19:15-21 With the coming of dawn, the angels urged
Genesis 30:25-30 After Rachel gave birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, "Send me on my way so I can go back to my own homeland. Give me my wives and children, for whom I have served you, and I will be on my way. You know how much work I've done for you." But Laban said to him, "If I have found favor in your eyes, please stay. I have learned by divination that HaShem has blessed me because of you." He added, "Name your wages, and I will pay them." Jacob said to him, "You know how I have worked for you and how your livestock has fared under my care. The little you had before I came has increased greatly, and HaShem has blessed you wherever I have been. But now, when may I do something for my own household?"
In Genesis 19 we see HaShem's grace being bestowed on
Genesis 18:20-33 Then HaShem said, "The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so
great and their sin so grievous That I will go down and
see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not,
I will know." The men turned away and went toward
Genesis 32:3-6 Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau
We all remember the story of wicked Esau trying to kill his righteous brother, Jacob. Again, in the above verses, we see that the righteous find grace.
Genesis 33:1-11 Jacob looked up and there was Esau, coming with his four hundred men; so he divided the children among Leah, Rachel and the two maidservants. He put the maidservants and their children in front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph in the rear. He himself went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother. But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept. Then Esau looked up and saw the women and children. "Who are these with you?" he asked. Jacob answered, "They are the children God has graciously given your servant." Then the maidservants and their children approached and bowed down. Next, Leah and her children came and bowed down. Last of all came Joseph and Rachel, and they too bowed down. Esau asked, "What do you mean by all these droves I met?" "To find favor in your eyes, my lord," he said. But Esau said, "I already have plenty, my brother. Keep what you have for yourself." "No, please!" said Jacob. "If I have found favor in your eyes, accept this gift from me. For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably. Please accept the present that was brought to you, for God has been gracious to me and I have all I need." And because Jacob insisted, Esau accepted it. Then Esau said, "Let us be on our way; I'll accompany you." But Jacob said to him, "My lord knows that the children are tender and that I must care for the ewes and cows that are nursing their young. If they are driven hard just one day, all the animals will die. So let my lord go on ahead of his servant, while I move along slowly at the pace of the droves before me and that of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir." Esau said, "Then let me leave some of my men with you." "But why do that?" Jacob asked. "Just let me find favor in the eyes of my lord." So that day Esau started on his way back to Seir.
Genesis 34:1-12 Now Dinah, the daughter Leah had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the
women of the land. When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, the ruler of that area, saw her, he
took her and violated her. His heart was drawn to Dinah daughter of Jacob, and
he loved the girl and spoke tenderly to her. And Shechem said to his father
Hamor, "Get me this girl as my wife." When Jacob heard that his
daughter Dinah had been defiled, his sons were in the fields with his
livestock; so he kept quiet about it until they came home. Then Shechem's
father Hamor went out to talk with Jacob. Now Jacob's sons had come in from the
fields as soon as they heard what had happened. They were filled with grief and
fury, because Shechem had done a disgraceful thing in
In this story, we have a wicked man who wants grace from Dinah's family. He does not find grace, but rather death. Again, we see a link between righteousness and grace, or rather the opposite: the wicked find no grace.
Genesis 39:2-5 HaShem was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that HaShem was with him and that HaShem gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, HaShem blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of HaShem was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field.
Here, righteous Joseph finds grace.
Genesis 39:19-23 When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, "This is how your slave treated me," he burned with anger. Joseph's master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king's prisoners were confined. But while Joseph was there in the prison, HaShem was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph's care, because HaShem was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.
Righteous Joseph again finds grace.
Genesis 47:23-30 Joseph said to the people, "Now that I have bought you and your
land today for Pharaoh, here is seed for you so you
can plant the ground. But when the crop comes in, give a fifth of it to
Pharaoh. The other four-fifths you may keep as seed for the fields and as food for yourselves and your households and your
children." "You have saved our lives," they said. "May we
find favor in the eyes of our lord; we will be in bondage to
Pharaoh." So Joseph established it as a law
concerning land in
In the above story, all of the hungry people find grace, and righteous Jacob finds grace.
Genesis 49:33 - 50:6 When Jacob had finished giving instructions
to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed
his last and was gathered to his people. Joseph threw
himself upon his father and wept
over him and kissed him. Then Joseph directed the
physicians in his service to embalm his father
Exodus 3:20-22 So I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them. After that, he will let you go. "And I will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed. Every woman is to ask her neighbor and any woman living in her house for articles of silver and gold and for clothing, which you will put on your sons and daughters. And so you will plunder the Egyptians."
Exodus 11:1-4 Now HaShem had said to Moses, "I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on
Here, all of HaShem's people find grace.
Exodus 12:35-36 The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. HaShem had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.
Exodus 33:12-17 Moses said to HaShem, "You have been telling me, 'Lead these people,' but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, 'I know you by name and you have found favor with me.' If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people." HaShem replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." Then Moses said to him, "If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?" And HaShem said to Moses, "I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name."
Here they not only find grace, but HaShem indicates that He "knows" them by name.
Exodus 34:8-14 Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped. "O Lord, if I have found favor in your eyes," he said, "then let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin, and take us as your inheritance." Then HaShem said: "I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, HaShem, will do for you. Obey what I command you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you. Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles. Do not worship any other god, for HaShem, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
Righteous Moses finds grace.
Numbers 11:10-15 Moses heard the people of every family wailing, each at the entrance to his tent. HaShem became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled. He asked HaShem, "Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their forefathers? Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, 'Give us meat to eat!' I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now--if I have found favor in your eyes--and do not let me face my own ruin."
Righteous Moses, again, finds grace.
Numbers 32:4-7 The land HaShem subdued before the people of
Deuteronomy 24:1-4 If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, And if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife of another man, And her second husband dislikes her and writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, or if he dies, Then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled. That would be detestable in the eyes of HaShem. Do not bring sin upon the land HaShem your God is giving you as an inheritance.
In this passage, grace is denied to the wicked.
After looking at each of these passages, it appears that the righteous find grace, not because they deserve it, but rather because HaShem is favorably disposed towards those who obey Torah.
I have listed the rest of the verses in the TaNaK which contain our word "grace":
RUT 2:2, RUT 2:10, RUT 2:13, 1SA 1:18,
1SA 16:22, 1SA 20:3, 1SA 20:29, 1SA 25:8, 1SA 27:5, 2SA 14:22, 2SA 15:25 2SA 16:4,
1KI 11:19, EST 2:15, EST 2:17, EST 5:2,
EST 5:8, EST 7:3, EST 8:5, PRO 3:4, PRO 5:19, PRO 11:16, PRO 13:15, PRO 17:8, PRO 22:1, PRO 28:23, PRO 31:30, PRO 1:9, PRO 3:22, PRO 3:34, PRO 4:9, PRO 22:11, ECC 9:11, ECC 10:12, JUD 6:17, PSA 45:2, PSA 84:11, JER 31:2, ZEC 4:7, ZEC 12:10, NAH 3:4
Okay, now lets examine the Nazarean Codicil to see how grace is used. The first use of "grace", in the Nazarean Codicil, is found in:
Luke 1:30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
Strong’s defines ‘grace’ as:
5485 charis, khar'-ece; from 5463; graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act (abstr. or concr.; lit., fig. or spiritual; espec. the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude):-acceptable, benefit, favour, gift, grace (-ious), joy liberality, pleasure, thank (-s, -worthy).
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5463 chairo, khah'-ee-ro; a prim. verb; to be "cheer" ful, i.e. calmly happy or well-off; impers. espec. as salutation (on meeting or parting), be well:-farewell, be glad, God speed, greeting, hail, joy (-fully), rejoice.
In this verse, righteous Mary receives HaShem's grace. It was not because of what she had done, but because HaShem chose her. She did not abandon the Torah because of this grace, but rather taught it to her son, and encouraged Him to walk in the ways of Torah.
Lets look at some more verses which deal with grace:
Acts 2:42-3:1 They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, Praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer--at three in the afternoon.
John 1:15-23 John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.'" From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Yeshua Mashiach. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known. Now this was John's testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, "I am not the Mashiach." They asked him, "Then who are you? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" He answered, "No." Finally they said, "Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?" John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, "I am the voice of one calling in the desert, 'Make straight the way for the Lord.'"
Notice, in the above verses, that law and grace are together in the sentence, not as opposites, but as complements to each other. The One who brought us grace was himself, completely, obedient to the Torah.
Acts 13:42-44 As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath. When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God. On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord.
In the above verses, we see Paul and Barnabas urging the saints to "continue" in the grace of HaShem. Notice what they are doing, that they should continue doing: They are studying HaShem's word in the synagogue on the Sabbath. They are not meeting on Sunday, they are, repeatedly, meeting on the Sabbath.
Acts 14:1-3 At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed. But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders.
Here we see grace associated with those who usually go to the Jewish synagogue.
Acts 15:1-22 Some men came down from Judea to
In the above passage, we see that salvation comes through grace, but we still have to obey parts of the law immediately, and we will learn the rest of the law of Moses when we go to the synagogue on the Sabbath.
Acts 18:24-28 Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of
Here we see grace associated with those who spoke in the
synagogue, Apollo; and those who attended the synagogue, Priscilla and
Romans 3:21-24 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Yeshua Mashiach to all who believe. There is no difference, For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, And are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Mashiach Yeshua.
Notice, in the above verses, that grace is related to justification, NOT sanctification. We receive HaShem's grace in order to be justified, not for sanctification. Since we sin, we need grace in order to escape the condemnation that our sins bring upon us. This grace does not preclude Torah observance for sanctification. The law and the prophets testify about this righteousness. If we want to "hear" this testimony we have to look to the Torah and to the Prophets.
Romans 4:1-10 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about--but not before God. What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: "Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him." Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham's faith was credited to him as righteousness. Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before!
Now, we can see that Abraham was justified by grace BEFORE he was circumcised, BUT, he still circumcised himself and his whole household. He even circumcised Isaac, sometime later, on the eighth day, just as the law requires.
Romans 4:13-16 It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, Because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression. Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring--[not only to those] who are of the law [but] also [to those] who are [of the faith] of Abraham. He is the father of us all.
Notice that the words in the brackets are NOT part of the text. These words reflect the theology of the translator. The above verses also compare law and grace. The law brings wrath. We are never justified by the Torah, justification always comes by grace through faith. Grace from HaShem is clearly linked to faith and to justification. But, lest you think that Abraham did not obey the Torah, consider:
Romans 5:1-2 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Yeshua Mashiach, Through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
Here we see that grace is clearly associated with justification. The law is never used for justification.
Romans 5:12-18 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned-- For before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come. But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Yeshua Mashiach, overflow to the many! Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man's sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Yeshua Mashiach. Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.
The ones who need grace, are the ones who trespass HaShem's law, and we know that we are not to sin in order for grace to abound.:
James 2:14-24 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder. You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.
James indicates that those who obey HaShem's word, which is found in the Bible, will be justified by their faith.
* * *
This study was written by
Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David
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 Not only human beings.-Hence the Flood destroyed all. Cf. Sanh.- 108a.
 Jast. (darnel or rye-grass).
 ‘Ed. II, 10.
 But it is stated in Sanh. X, 3 that they have no portion in the World to come.
 Infra, XXXIII, 7; Lev. R. VII, 6; Eccl. R. IX, 4.
 By disregarding the punctuation it appears that even Noah was included.
 Cf. supra, XXVI, 6; Sanh. 108a.