The OLD TESTAMENT
Genesis Exodus Leviticus Numbers Deuteronomy
The Pentateuch is the first five books of the Bible, called "Torah" in the Hebrew Scriptures. Though we often call these books "The Law," Torah does not mean "law," but "teaching." Basic to the Torah is the idea of the covenant. A covenant is an agreement. In the Bible covenants are special, because God is one of the parties to the covenant. Biblical covenants have three parts:
(1) a statement about God's saving act (what God brings to the agreement);
(2) a statement about what God expects from humanity in response; and
(3) a sign or symbol as a reminder of the covenant.
The Torah is, in part, a record of God's covenant and the implications of the covenant for human life in society.
GENESIS begins with the Creation, setting the covenant in the context of God's rule over the entire universe. The first covenant is with Adam and Eve and, through them, with all humanity, and includes the understanding that human beings will be responsible stewards of all of creation. The second covenant is with Noah, the promise that the world will never again be destroyed by flood. Then the biblical account focuses on one particular person, Abraham, who enters into covenant with God and is given the promise that he and his descendants will become a blessing to all humanity. Through the narratives dealing with Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Leah and Rachel, and Joseph, the questions of faithfulness to the covenant and hope for the fulfillment of God's promises take concrete form.
EXODUS centers on the escape of God's people from Egypt under the leadership of Moses and the making of the great covenant at Mt. Sinai. The parts of the covenant are clear: God's gracious saving act is seen in Passover and Exodus; the expectation of human response is summarized in the Ten Commandments; and the Feast of Passover is the great sign and reminder. Moses, Aaron, and Miriam are both the leaders of God's people and the models of struggle and faith.
LEVITICUS takes its name from the Latin word for "book of the Levites." The major concern of the book is the holiness of the community of Israel. Holiness means to be set apart by God for a special purpose. Holiness is expressed in proper forms of worship and living out the love of God in the routine of daily life. The "Holiness Code" (chs. 17 — 27) is a good example of how worship and justice mingle together in the life of Israel.
NUMBERS is named for the census that begins the book. The narrative part of the book is the wilderness journey from Kadesh Barnea to the Promised Land. Included are the great accounts of the spies entering Canaan, the forty years of wandering, and the miracles of Moses. Finally come the conquests of the kingdoms of Sihon and Og in the Transjordan, and the story of Balaam. The book ends with Israel prepared to enter the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua.
DEUTERONOMY is written as Moses' farewell speech before the tribes enter the Land. It reviews God's acts of salvation and the implications of salvation for life. The book itself was apparently found in the temple in the reign of Josiah (621 B.C.). The discovery sparked a great religious reform. One of the real concerns of Deuteronomy is how to make old traditions relevant for a new time. The most important statement of belief is the "Shema," found in 6:4,5.
The First Book of Moses Called
The History of Creation
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
3 Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light.
4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.
5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.
6 Then God said, "Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters."
7 Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so.
8 And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day.
9 Then God said, "Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear"; and it was so.
10 And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
11 Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth"; and it was so.
12 And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
13 So the evening and the morning were the third day.
14 Then God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years;
15 "and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth"; and it was so.
16 Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also.
17 God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth,
18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.
19 So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
20 Then God said, "Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens."
21 So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
22 And God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth."
23 So the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
24 Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind"; and it was so.
25 And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."
27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth."
29 And God said, "See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.
30 "Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food"; and it was so.
31 Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day
2 Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished.
2 And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.
3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.
4 This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,
5 before any plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown. For the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground;
6 but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground.
7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
Life in God's Garden
8 The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed.
9 And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
10 Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads.
11 The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which skirts the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold.
12 And the gold of that land is good. Bdellium and the onyx stone are there.
13 The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one which goes around the whole land of Cush.
14 The name of the third river is Hiddekel; it is the one which goes toward the east of Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates.
15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat;
17 "but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."
18 And the Lord God said, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him."
19 Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name.
20 So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.
21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place.
22 Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.
23 And Adam said:
"This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man."
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
The Temptation and Fall of Man
3 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?"
2 And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden;
3 "but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'"
4 Then the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die.
5 "For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.
7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.
8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
9 Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, "Where are you?"
10 So he said, "I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself."
11 And He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?"
12 Then the man said, "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate."
13 And the Lord God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."
14 So the Lord God said to the serpent:
"Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust All the days of your life. 15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel."
16 To the woman He said:
"I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you."
17 Then to Adam He said, "Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat of it':
"Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. 18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. 19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return."
20 And Adam called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.
21 Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.
22 Then the Lord God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever" —
23 therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken.
24 So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.
Cain Murders Abel
4 Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, "I have acquired a man from the Lord."
2 Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.
3 And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord.
4 Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering,
5 but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.
6 So the Lord said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?
7 "If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it."
8 Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.
9 Then the Lord said to Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" He said, "I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?"
10 And He said, "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood cries out to Me from the ground.
11 "So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand.
12 "When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth."
13 And Cain said to the Lord, "My punishment is greater than I can bear!
14 "Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me."