The first division of the sacred canon of the Old Testament is generally designated as the Torah (i.e, the Law.) The noun torah is from a root yarah, "to throw" or "to shoot," and means "direction," "law", "instruction." As a designation of the first five books of the Bible, the word is employed in a more restricted sense to stress the legal element which forms so great a part of these books. This usage does not exclude the narrative or historical sections, but rather includes them, since they form the fitting background or framework for the legislation.1 These first five books are also known as the Pentateuch. The work Pentateuch is derived from the Greek word pentateuchos, meaning "a compilation of five" or "five-volumed [book]." ... Origen, a third-century church father, was the first to give the name Pentateuch to these five books of Moses.2
The Jews designated the book according to its first word, B'reshith ("In the Beginning"). Also in Talmudic times it was also called "Book of the Creation of the World". The title "Genesis" us from the LXX rendering of 2:4a, "This is the book of the geneseos of heaven and earth," The word means "origin," "source," "generation," and has been adopted by most translations as the title of the book.3
This first book of the Bible is a history of the creation of this world and it's first inhabitants and continues up until the Hebrews are brought into Egypt. We have learned about the perfect paradise that God had created for man, and mans rebellion against the one rule God placed on man, don't eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. 4 Man grows and populates the earth but becomes exceedingly wicked. So bad man has become that God decides to wipe them out, all except one family. Noah found grace with God 5 and was saved from this disaster.
There are some people that believe that the flood was local and only in the Mesopotamian valley. However in the Bible it records "and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered." emphasis mine. 6 This only being local brings in more problems than it solves. And the people had to be really stupid, because all they would have to do was move to survive it. Also if you look around the globe you see evidence of a global flood. H.S. Bellamy in Moons, Myths and Men estimates that altogether there are over 500 Flood legends worldwide.7 Depending on what worldview you look at the evidence will determine the interpretation that you get from those evidences.
After the flood man rebels again and won't go forth and replenish the whole world. So God confuses their languages thus giving them a reason to disperse and fill the whole earth. There is a solution for every problem. :-D
Granted there is the "Tablet Theory" that suggests that portions of Genesis were originally written on clay tablets by men who personally experienced the events described. The tablets were later compiled by Moses.8 I think this is more plausible than the JEDP hypothesis.
The author of Genesis wrote the events because he believed that they really happened. He also wanted his readers to believe that they had happened. It's interesting there are scholars that stoutly insist that the biblical writer was wrong -- that the events in Genesis 1-11 never happened, but the meaning they gave to "history" is so valuable we need to extract it and apply it to present life situations.
Here one cannot but pose a question: If the meaning the biblical writer proposed for history led him to construct, intentionally or naively, a past that never happened, may not this same "meaning" lead later writers to abuse the past by talking about "events" that never happened? And if we adopt the meaning of history found in Genesis 1-11, or any other part of the Bible are we not likely to build a totally incorrect picture of events happening today?9
The book of Exodus was called by the Jews after its opening words, we'elleh shemoth ("And these are the names"), or simply shemoth ("names"). The LXX designated it, according to its central theme, Exodos (the word appears in Ex. 19:1), and the Vulgate, Exodus.10
The book of Exodus is the link between the preparatory history that is contained in Genesis and the remaining books of the Law. The Hebrew children have a new Pharaoh that did not remember Joseph11, and the Hebrews having grown to such a size that it brings concern to Pharaoh and he decides to deal harshly with them12. Moses is born put into a basket and sent down the river. Pharaohs daughter finds him, and decides to keep him. Moses get's older knows about his past, sees an Egyptian smiting one of his Hebrew brethren. Moses thinking he was alone and nobody looking decided to take out the Egyptian. However the second day he goes out and learns that someone was watching him. This causes Moses to panic and run for his life.13 Pharaoh wanted him dead now as well.
Moses spends some time tending sheep and then spies a burning bush. Upon his investigation God speaks to Moses from the bush. I know Bruce mentioned something about God being in Heaven (i was being to lazy to fetch the reference, then thought better of it. :-D ). In Exodus 3:8 God says "I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians... I know late answer. :-D
After some lengthy dialogue Moses agrees to go up to Pharaoh and demand the people be set free. It takes 10 plagues climaxing in the killing of the first born before Pharaoh releases the Hebrews.
The Hebrews are on their way out of Egypt and come to the Red Sea. Now some people say this is interpreted wrong and should be the Sea of Reeds or Reed sea. However i guess if you look in the right place and seek the truth it will be revealed. There is a place in the Gulf of Aqaba where evidence of the crossing of Moses and the Hebrews have been discovered.14 I find when it comes to believing the Bible or man, as history has shown me, the Bible has not lost yet. :-D
The Hebrew children make it across the Red Sea and to Mt. Sinai. The people are now ready to be organized as a theocratic nation, and hence must receive the legislation necessary for such organization. This legislation consists of three parts: that given at Mt. Sinai (Exodus, Leviticus), that given in the wilderness wanderings (Numbers), and that delivered in the plains of Moab (Deuteronomy). The remainder of Exodus (i.e., 20-40) concerns that legislation given by God to Israel at Mt. Sinai.15
The Commandments Exodus 20
- Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
- Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in the heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
- Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain;
- Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
- Honour thy father and they mother:
- Thou shalt not kill
- Thou shalt not commit adultery.
- Thou shalt not steal
- Thou shalt not bear false witness against they neighbour. AKA no lying
- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.
Which of these commandments don't you like and why?
Leviticus the third book of Moses, opens with the words "And he called" (way yiqra'), and is so designated by the Jews. In Talmudic times it was also called Law of the Priests (torath kohanim). In the LXX it bears the title Levitikon ("Levitical," an adjective modifying the word biblion, "book," which is to be understood). The Vulgate designates it simply Leviticus.16
In this book is a deep, underlying unity of plan and though which expresses itself in a twofold way. The first is it deals with the removal of that defilement which separates man from God and(1-16), secondly, it covers the restoration of the lost fellowship between man and God.(17-26)
There is nothing historical in Leviticus except the account which it gives us of the consecration of the priesthood (ch.8-9), of the punishment of Nabab and Abihu, by the hand of God, for offering strange fire (ch.10), and of Shelomith's son, by the hand of the magistrate, for blasphemy (ch. 24). All the rest of the book is taken up with the laws, chiefly the ecclesiastical laws, which God gave to Israel by Moses, concerning their sacrifices and offerings, their meats and drinks, and divers washings, and the other peculiarities by which God set that people apart for himself, and distinguished them from other nations, all which were shadows of good things to come, which are realized and superseded by the gospel of Christ.
We call the book Leviticus, from the Septuagint, because it contains the laws and ordinances of the Levitical priesthood (as it is called, Heb 7:11), and the ministrations of it. The Levites were principally charged with these institutions, both to do their part and to teach the people theirs.17
Aren't we all glad that we don't need to do the sacrifices anymore?
By the Jews this book is called "In the wilderness" (bemidhbar - the word is construct) or "And he spake" (wayedhabber). The LXX gave it the title "Numbers" (arithmoi), and this is followed by the Vulgate.18
The titles of the five books of Moses, which we use in our Bibles, are all borrowed from the Greek translation of the Seventy, the most ancient version of the Old Testament that we know of. But the title of this book only we turn into English; in all the rest we retain the Greek word itself, for which difference I know no reason but that the Latin translators have generally done the same. Otherwise this book might as well have been called Arithmoi, the Greek title, as the first Genesis, and the second Exodus; or these might as well have been translated, and called, the first Generation, or Original, the second the Out-let, or Escape, as this Numbers. - This book was thus entitled because of the numbers of the children of Israel, so often mentioned in this book, and so well worthy to give a title to it, because it was the remarkable accomplishment of God's promise to Abraham that his seed should be as the stars of heaven for multitude. It also relates to two numberings of them, one at mount Sinai (ch. 1), the other in the plains of Moab, thirty-nine years after (ch.26). And not three men the same in the last account that were in the first. The book is almost equally divided between histories and laws, intermixed.19
There are two things i took away from this this book. One was Moses not sanctify the Lord in the eyes of the children of Israel, and Moses then being told that he would not bring the congregation into the land which God had given them.20 I have covered this in the comments section on a previous post so i won't go over it here again.
Spies are sent into the promised land to see what it is like, 12 of them went in, only 2 came back and reported that they could take the land. The other spies said they could not take the land. The people believed them and not the 2. I guess majority is not always right. :-D And this was the second major thing i took from Numbers. The Hebrews not believing that God was with them, even seeing all that He had done to get them out of Egypt, are informed that since they rebelled and did not believe God that everyone 20 years or older would not be going into the Promised Land.
Also after reviewing this section i noticed that Joshua's name was Oshea Numbers 13:16, Moses called him Jehoshua and in Deuteronomy 32:44 Hoshea. Some kind of merge of the names? Or am i reading that all wrong? I had tried to make a joke of this. Just like my days in school i'm goofing off when i should have been paying attention a little more. ;-)
Many people think, i take it from reading their comments, that this punishment levied against Moses was to harsh. What would be an appropriate punishment? And can that punishment be consistent with how God dealt with the people that did not believe they could take the promised land? see Numbers 14:6-24.
The fifth book of Moses bears the name "These are the words" ('elleh haddevarim, or simply devarim). It came also to be designated by the Jews as "Repetition of the law" (mishneh hattorah, or simply mishneh), from the words in 17:18. It has also been called "The book fo Admonitions" (sefer tochahoth). The LXX has rendered 17:18 "this second law" (to deuteronomion touto), and the Vulgate, "Deuteronomium," which is really an incorrect rendering of the passage.21
Deuteronomy contains the last address of Moses to the Hebrew people. 40 years have passed and they have been in the wilderness for that time plus some. The generation 20 and older when the people rebelled in Numbers 14 have died off. Moses is now reminding or bringing to their attention the laws and covenant with God for their possession of the Promised land. At the end Joshua takes command of the people and prepares them to enter into the Promised Land.
Final question: You have a covenant with a people to bless them, their land, crops, their women so they would not be barren, to put fear in nations around them to stay away or be destroyed. Yet if they did not obey and broke the covenant you would bring the opposite on them. So do you feel it would be totally acceptable to allow them to take the good from the covenant, yet let them off the hook when they break the covenant? And if so what do you do with them? They broke the covenant after taking good from it. Do you still keep giving them the good or do you cut them off? And if you cut them off do you think you would not get what is in the curse of the covenant?
There is so much to cover i hope i got a good portion in. Maybe if this is found lacking yet useful i will do a second edition and add in some items from the comments. I really enjoy this project and look forward to the upcoming 61 books.
- 1 Edward J. Young, An Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company) pp. 43
2 Josh McDowell, The New Evidence that demands a verdict Evidence I & II Fully updated in one volume to answer questions challenging Christians in the 21st Century. (Nashville, Tennessee; Thomas Nelson Publishers) pp. 400
- 3 Edward J. Young, An Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company) pp. 49
4 (Genesis 2:16,17) And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
5 (Genesis 6:8) But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
- 6 (Genesis 7:19) And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered.
- 7 http://www.nwcreation.net/noahlegends.html Accessed Sunday March 6th 2011 @ 2200 CST.
- 8 http://www.trueorigin.org/tablet.asp Accessed Sunday March 6th 2011 @ 1830 CST.
- 9 G. Herbert Livingston, The Pentateuch in its cultural Environment (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Book House) pp. 147
- 10 Edward J. Young, An Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company) pp. 65
- 11 (Exodus 1:8) Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.
- 12 (Exodus 1:9) And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we: 10 Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land.
- 13 (Exodus 2:11-15) And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren. 12 And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand. 13 And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow? 14 And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known.
14 http://www.arkdiscovery.com/red_sea_crossing.htm Accessed March 6th 2011 @ 2000 CST.
- 15 Edward J. Young, An Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company) pp. 65
- 16 Edward J. Young, An Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company) pp. 79
- 17 Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry's Commentary Genesis to Deuteronomy (Peabody, Massachusetts; Hendrickson Publishers, Inc) pp. 352
- 18 Edward J. Young, An Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company) pp. 89
- 19 Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry's Commentary Genesis to Deuteronomy (Peabody, Massachusetts; Hendrickson Publishers, Inc) pp. 441
- 20 (Numbers 20:10-12) And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? 11 And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also. 12 And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.
- 21 Edward J. Young, An Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company) pp. 99