From The Gift of the Jews by Thomas Cahill, what is the significance of the "Law" (the Torah) and the "giving of the Law" through Moshe (Moses) for the Hebrew people, and how does this relate back to the covenant with Abraham?

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For Cahill, the significance of the Torah lies in its "oneness." The Torah shows, Chaill writes, "that the Jews were the first people to develop an integrated view of life and its obligations." "Law" and "wisdom" were not divided, as was the case among other ancient peoples, but, instead, "all of life, having come from the Author of life," sprang from a "single outlook." In other words, the Torah put every aspect of life under one set of laws.

With the Torah, we move from Abraham's covenant with "one God" to the idea that "God is one," and with it the idea that the intellectual, the material, the spiritual and the moral life all root in one source. These aspects of life do not war with each other in Judaism: the Jews will not have warring gods in the heavens, as do the Greeks.

Because Moses is not making a personal covenant with God, as Abraham did, but a covenant with all of the Israelite people, Moses has a much more difficult task. He is both representing God to the people and the people to God. (Abraham, as leader, simply made a deal and imposed it on his tribe.) It is Moses' humility, Cahill argues, that allows him to broker the deal between God and the people. "There is," Cahill writes of Moses, "no pride or quirk of personality ... to distort God's message." Both Abraham and Moses, different as they might be, are the correct men for the tasks God has assigned them. 

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