Commentary or interpretation by the rabbis on the Law. The purpose was to bring the written commandments up to date by explaining how they referred to changed circumstances. In their original form they might be inconvenient sometimes, or mutually inconsistent. There had therefore to be constant restatements, accompanied by arguments and debates—e.g. about observance of the Sabbath. There are examples of halakic commentary in the gospels: Matthew's Sermon on the Mount is reinterpretation of the Law; Jesus demands a more radical righteousness than the rabbis and later he summarizes it in the double commandment of love for God and for neighbour (Matt. 22:37–9). Another example of halakic interpretation is at Matt. 12:5–6, where Jesus reinterprets the law about eating the sacred bread on the Sabbath.

Dictionary of the Bible.

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  • halakah — ha·la·kah …   English syllables

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