chōq [and] chāqaq
The fourth synonym we encounter for God’s Word is statute, which is the Hebrew chōq (H2706), a masculine noun derived from a verb (chāqaq, H2710) that means “to cut, scratch, inscribe, or engrave.” Oh, what a word we have here! While it is used for such ideas as cutting a tomb out of rock (Isa_22:16), its most common use is to refer to engraving or writing.
At one time, one of the major attacks on the authenticity of the Bible by its critics was the belief that writing did not exist in Moses’ time, “proving” that Moses couldn’t have written the Pentateuch, rather that it was written four centuries later by four separate authors. This was forever dispelled, however, in 1902 by one of the most important archaeological finds of all time, the Code of Hammurabi, discovered by M. J. de Morgan. Hammurabi was king of Babylon (ca. eighteenth century BC) and was, therefore, a contemporary of Abraham. The code, written on an eight-foot-high, two-foot-wide, and one-and-a-half-foot-thick polished block of black diorite stone, contains laws (some similar to the Mosaic Law) dealing with worship, justice, taxes and other money matters, building, and matters of commerce.
The existence of that code, as well as others of the ancient world—such as the Egyptian Rosetta Stone (ca. 200 BC)—wonderfully illustrate our word for today. It is used, for example, of the statutes God gave to Moses (Exo_15:26; Num_30:16, Mal_4:4). The word lûach (H3871) speaks of a stone slab (Exo_34:1). God inscribed His law on such tablets; they were known as the “tables,” as in the “tables of testimony [February 17], tables of stone, written with the finger of God” (Exo_31:18).
The old expression “set in stone” also illustrates this truth. God’s statutes (or decrees) are engraved in stone, graphically demonstrating their permanence. Turning again to Psalms 119, we find chōq twenty-one times, the first of which is in Psa_119:5 : “O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!” God’s Word is not open for debate, not subject to reinterpretation for the times. God’s Word is set in stone!
Scriptures for Study: Read a few of the occurrences of statutes in Psalms 119, noting what our attitude and response to them should be: Psa_119:8; Psa_119:23; Psa_119:54; Psa_119:71; Psa_119:83; Psa_119:112, and Psa_119:117.