The most common figure given by Jews for the total number of laws in the Law of Moses is 613.1 This figure is first recorded in a third-century sermon given by Rabbi Simlai.2 Although the number was possibly not meant to be taken literally,3 it has become part of popular Jewish tradition.

The figure has been disputed on various grounds: e.g., the rabbinic writings that attempt to list the 613 laws include post-biblical, rabbinic commandments (i.e., laws that are not in the Law of Moses) as well as rabbinic interpretations of the laws in the Law of Moses.2 Additionally, it is also pointed out that ‘if one counts all of the divine commandments recorded in the Bible, the number would be well over a thousand’.2

I am unaware of any definitive list enumerating all the laws in the Law of Moses.


Israel Drazin, Maimonides and the Biblical Prophets (Gefen Publishing House Ltd, 2009)

Kaufmann Kohler and Isaac Broydé, ‘Commandments, The 613‘ in The Jewish Encyclopedia

1. Israel Drazin, Maimonides and the Biblical Prophets (Gefen Publishing House Ltd, 2009), p. 105-6

3. ibid, p. 206

2. ibid, p. 204

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