Divine Command Morality and Jewish Tradition

Avi Sagi, Daniel Statman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Given the religious appeal of divine command theories of morality (DCM), and given that these theories are found in both Christianity and Islam, we could expect DCM to be represented in Judaism, too. In this essay, however, we show that hardly any echoes of support for this thesis can be found in Jewish texts. We analyze texts that appear to support DCM and show they do not. We then present a number of sources clearly opposed to DCM. Finally, we offer a theory to explain the absence of DCM in Judaism, claiming that the rational character of "Halakha", as well as the moral and rational character of God, does not provide suitable ground for the growth of DCM theses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-67
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Religious Ethics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1995

Bibliographical note

A Hebrew version appeared in "Bein Dat le-Musar" (1993).

Journal of Religious Ethics, 23,1 (1995) 39-67


  • Analysis
  • Commandments (Judaism)
  • Divinity
  • Ethical aspects
  • Ethics, Jewish
  • Humans
  • Islam
  • Jewish law
  • Jewish people
  • Jewish philosophy
  • Jewish tradition
  • Judaism
  • Moral principles
  • Morality
  • Religious ethics
  • Sacred texts
  • Torah


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