which comprise it, reflects a new Jewish culture, almost completely distinct from the biblical and postbiblical culture that preceded it.
Apart from the great differences between the internal foci, the linguistic and cultural characteristics, and the historical circumstances that shaped the Bible and rabbinic literature, the vast differences in their halakhic content and scope are immediately and patently obvious. The enormous expansion of certain halakhic topics, compared to their circumscribed biblical origins, and the total invention of legislative taxonomies with no biblical basis whatsoever, already bothered the early sages in the last centuries of the Second Temple era, the period when the following Mishnah was apparently composed:
The dissolution of vows flies in the air and has nothing to lean on (in the Bible). The laws of Shabbat, Festal-offerings, and acts of sancta violation are like <dry desert plants> (חררים)hanging by a strand (i.e., barely attached to the ground), since Scripture is meager and the rules are many. Civil cases, temple services, purities and impurities, and the laws of incest— these have bases for support, and they are the essentials of Torah. (m. Ḥagigah 1:8)
At later stages in the development of the Oral Law, the thickets of halakhah grew into mighty forests, and departed so radically from their biblical roots that the vast gulf between the Written Law and the Oral Law was regarded as a matter of course, no longer a cause for surprise, and no longer needing to be described or explained.
Exploring the History of Halakhah
Yaakov Sussmann, in a seminal article, widely cited in subsequent scholarly discourse on the hi