What Is Law?


Law is a set of rules that a society or government develops in order to deal with things like crime, business agreements, and social relationships. The word is also often used to refer to the people who work in this system of rules, especially those who are involved in advising people about their rights and representing them in court.

In general, the law serves several important purposes: it imposes peace and the status quo in societies that may otherwise be violent or chaotic; it preserves the individual rights of citizens, even against the whims of their governments (although this is often not the case in despotic nations); it provides for the orderly social change needed for growth; and it promotes justice and fairness. However, the effectiveness of a nation’s laws depends on how well they are drafted and enforced.

Some legal systems use a purely legislative model, wherein all laws are written down in advance. Other legal systems, such as the common law of England and Wales, allow for judicial interpretation of rules in order to adapt them to new circumstances or needs. Still others have a combination of legislative and judicial processes, in which the law is constantly changing and adjusting.

The Bible uses the term torah in a more narrow sense, usually referring to God’s commandments and regulations given to Moses on Mount Sinai. It also means instruction in a more general sense, although in many instances the word focuses on what people are commanded to do rather than what they are required to do.

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