“Ignorance of the Law is No Excuse”

A quick peek at Rushdoony’s article, “Knowledge of the Law” (available at Chalcedon.edu)

1. The law must be published openly: Deuteronomy 27:1-4, 8.

2. The whole law must be read publicly at the end of every seventh or sabbatical year: Deuteronomy 31:9-13.


The proverb, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse,” has reference to Biblical law. Statist law, and especially bureaucratic law, requires great libraries to contain, so that ignorance of man’s law is inescapable. First, the laws are too numerous for even lawyers to know; and, second, humanistic law has no basis in the order of things, whereas God’s law is imprinted by the Creator in His creatures.

Where laws are too numerous for men to know, then knowledge of the law is restricted to specialists in the law, to lawyers. But humanistic law is too vast in volumes for even lawyers to know it all, so that specialization in particular fields becomes necessary. In the 1970s, the vice-president of an international bank said that the laws and regulations governing banking were so many and so contradictory that any banker could be imprisoned at the will of Federal authorities. This is now no doubt true of all of us.

“Taken from Institutes of Biblical Law, Vol. 3: The Intent of the Law, p. 43.”

One day, Western civilization – and even the world – will again be directed by a legal code worthy of the name.


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