I was arguing with a Documentary Hypothesis supporter who claimed that we consistently find that Biblical prohibitions and their punishments are not written in one place. The Ten Commandments are a clear case of a list of prohibitions, which punishments are scattered all over the following chapters.

For both views Talmudic views in Gittin 60, that Torah was given at once or chapter by chapter, I couldn't comprehend why would the Torah benefit from such an arrangement. Also for the statement that Torah is using human language, it's illogical to separate the two.

Do our sources speak of possible benefits of the separation between prohibitions and their corresponding punishments?

  • There's a Talmudic rule אין עונשין אלא אם כן מזהירין
    – Double AA
    Jul 29, 2021 at 12:38
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    That claim is flat-out incorrect. Of the prohibitions where the Written Torah explicitly states a penalty, the vast majority are given together in at least one place. (Now, you may have a prohibition that's repeated in multiple places - eating blood, for example - but the penalty is given in only one place. So? The others are there to reinforce the warning. Other times, for example the forbidden relations, you have a general punishment, kareis, given at the end of the chapter for all of them, and specific punishments later on. Again, so? One is what G-d does, the other what the court does.)
    – Meir
    Jul 29, 2021 at 17:21
  • @Meir I don’t know how to react, what does "flat-out" mean? I gave you a clear example of the 10C. Parshas Misgpootim is another example of a list of fines and punishments with no warnings (Hamurabi-like). I didn't claim that all prohibitions are separated but there are a lot and very important ones.
    – Al Berko
    Aug 1, 2021 at 9:40
  • "A clear example" isn't "the majority," you know. Each of the prohibitions in the Ten Commandments is repeated elsewhere with more detail, and in each case there's at least one place where the punishments are given together with the warnings. As for Mishpatim - come on, on a pshat level (which is what "Bible critics" are dealing with), do you need to be told "Don't let your ox go wild and gore people or animals" or "Don't dig pits in the street where animals can fall in"? The penalty is the warning, in effect.
    – Meir
    Aug 2, 2021 at 14:02
  • I thought the layout Acharei Mos / Kedoshim is quite telling. Don't do all these prohibited sexual acts. But how righteous does the nation have to be for them to say "we are so shocked that we will punish people who do them?" Has to be a people that doesn't lie, cheat, steal, take revenge ... yeah.
    – Shalom
    Aug 26, 2021 at 10:50

1 Answer 1


The Rambam in his list of mitzvos, in several cases (Asin 224 - 229) counts a positive commandment to punish transgressions which is separate from the prohibition itself. The two are not intrinsically related. The prohibitions remain in place even if there are no courts that can enforce them. This is in contrast to certain atheistic viewpoints, in which the punishment is what makes something a crime. It also contrasts with enlightenment philosophy, in which the sole rationale for a prohibition is to foster an orderly society - in Judaism, a Torah without punishments might be incomplete, but it wouldn't be purposeless.

So there really is no reason to group the two together. Even if you insist that there is, it would be reason enough to separate them in order to remove any doubt that they are not inseparable.

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    As a side note, it is interesting to note that when it comes to the 7 Noahide commandments, there is a principle of (Sanhedrin 57a) אזהרה שלהן זו היא מיתתן - the prohibition implies the punishment. This is consistent with the spirit of the 7 commandments, which do seem designed solely to foster an orderly society.
    – Derdeer
    Aug 26, 2021 at 1:33
  • First, I appreciate your thinking, indeed in several cases the execution is considered a standalone commandment. You might claim that in some cases they can be separated, however, this doesn't make it any more logical to separate the two.
    – Al Berko
    Aug 26, 2021 at 7:46

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