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Shoftim: Law and Disorder


Like my ninth grade classmates and I, some of you might have had the dubious honor of reading Lord of the Flies by William Golding. The 1954 novel describes the plight of a group of young boys floundering to function on a deserted island, disturbingly illustrating the disastrous consequences of a lack of government, law, and order in the maintenance of a just and moral society. As a foil for this idea, some of you will likely also recall learning about Hammurabi’s Code, one of the first official sets of written law, which governed society in ancient Mesopotamian times and dates back to approximately 1754 BC. Hammurabi’s Code is well known because it is evidence that sustainable societies are only possible within the structure and boundaries of predetermined judicial systems. Both of these cultural data points highlight the centrality of law and order to human and societal functioning.