Book of Genesis

 

 

The Hebrew title of this book, bereshith or "in the beginning," is taken from the first words of the book. But the Greek Septuagint, the first translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, entitles it geneseos which in English means Genesis. This title can mean "birth" or "origin." This book does not deal with the creation of the material universe other than to state that God created it at some unspecified time, "in the beginning." This book describes in a more in-depth manner the preparation of the earth for human habitation and the creation of the first two humans. The creative period is described in terms of days, but not twenty-four hour days. It can be determined that these creative days are seven thousand years in length as we are living in the "seventh" creative day.

 

Moses is the accepted writer of the book of Genesis and he probably completed it during the time that the nation was encamped at Mount Sinai. Many people wonder where Moses got the information from that he recorded in this book since the events occurred before he was born. Jehovah could have revealed it to him or he may have had access to written records written by others previous to him or it could have been transmitted through oral tradition. Since there is nothing definitive pointing to any one method, all three could have been employed by Moses.

 

Genesis focuses mainly on the genealogy of humans as it relates to the origin of the nation of Israel and this information is found in chapters two through eleven. The remaining chapters, twelve through fifty, are written exclusively about Israel. In these chapters, Jehovah begins to reveal how He will use Israel to carry out his purposes.

 

 

Book of Exodus

 

 

The name Exodus was given to this second book of the Bible by the translators of the Greek Septuagint and was adopted by the translators of the Latin Vulgate Version. The Hebrew name for this book, we elleh shemoth, is taken from the first two words of the book, "These are the names of." This book is believed to have originally been intended to be a continuation of the book of Genesis as it begins with the names of the family of Jacob that went into Egypt and the death of Joseph. Moses is the accepted writer of this book.

 

The book of Exodus relates:

 

1)  how Jehovah liberated Israel from slavery in Egypt,

2) how He established a national covenant with Israel which, if they kept is, would lead to their becoming a kingdom of kings and priests, and

3) His instructions to Israel on how to build the sanctuary wherein He would dwell among them. Jehovah has now moved Israel a step closer to their fulfilling His purpose for them.

 

 

Book of Leviticus

 

 

The early rabbinic name for this book meant "the Priest's Manual." The purpose of this manual was to focus on the role of the priests in teaching Israel "the distinction between the sacred and the common, between the pure and the impure." Their dual role was to teach Israel not to defile the sanctuary and to cleanse it whenever it was defiled. None of the laws contained in this book pertain to the duties of the Levites as these are found in the fourth Bible book, Numbers.

 

This Bible book deals with the sacrificial system (chapters 1-7), the inaugural services of the priest (chapters 8-10), the laws of purification (chapters 11-16) and the laws that encourage holiness (chapters 17-27).

 

 

Book of Numbers

 

Beautiful lillies!

 

This name is derived from the fact that Moses twice took a census of the people. The counting of the people appears to be such a minor portion of the book that many scholars believe that is should be entitled, "In the Wilderness" as they believe this would be more appropriate to the subject matter covered.

This book is usually divided into two sections. Chapters 1-25, which begins with a census of the people that left Egypt and journeyed from Mount Sinai to Canaan. It includes the failure of this generation to take the land, their 40-year trek in the wilderness and the death of this same generation. Because of their continual rebelliousness and lack of faith, Jehovah decreed that they would not enter the land of Canaan. The second section, chapters 26 through 36, also begins with a census which encompasses only the second generation or the children of those who left Egypt that will eventually take the land of Canaan under the leadership of Joshua.

 

 

 

Book of Deuteronomy

 

Bunch of Pink Flowers

 

The name, Deuteronomy, means "second law" or "repeated law," the name given to this book in the Greek Septuagint. The Hebrew name is elleh haddebarim, which means "These are the words." This name indicates what the book is about, as it is a long speech delivered by Moses on the plains of Moab. As his last act as their leader before transferring the leadership of the nation over to Joshua, he spoke to them to prepare them for their entrance into the land of Canaan. His four discourses emphasizes Jehovah's love for them and the importance of their loving Him and being faithful in keeping His laws.

 

The fact of Moses being the writer of this book is undisputed. Jesus testifies to his writer ship as well as other later Bible writers. The time period covered is approximately two months. Chapter 34 relates the death of Moses and was possibly written by Joshua or someone else. The book is divided into four sections: chapters 1-4, chapters 5-28, chapters 29-33, and chapter 34.

 

 

 

Book of Joshua

 

Bunch of Yellow Daisies

 

Joshua, the successor to Moses as leader of the nation of Israel, is the acknowledged writer of this Bible book. The writer's original name was Hoshea but Moses later changed it to Joshua which means "Jehovah is Salvation." Joshua, along with Caleb were the only Israelites who left Egypt that Jehovah allowed to entered the land of Canaan. He was a close associate of Moses from their arriving at Mount Sinai until his appointment as leader of the nation while they were encamped on the Plains of Moab. The events in this book are thought to cover a little more than twenty years.

 

The book of Joshua describes the events surrounding the conquest of the Promised Land and its apportionment among the twelve tribes of Israel. It is generally divided into four main parts: chapters 1-5 which describe the nation's entrance into the land in preparation for the conquest, chapters 6-12 describes the military victories the nation won against the Canaanites, chapters 13-21 gives the details of the dividing of the land among the tribes and chapters 22-24 gives Joshua's farewell message to the nation.

 

 

 

Book of Judges

 

Assorted Flowers

 

By the time of Joshua's death, the people had not rid the land of all of the nations that Jehovah had decreed should be killed. Each individual tribe was given the responsibility to completely conquer their own territory. The Book of Judges begins by telling us of their failure to completely do so. (Chapter 2) They gradually began to be influenced by the pagan religions of the Canaanites and left off the worship of Jehovah and began to worship the gods of the land. Jehovah then allowed them to be oppressed by the surrounding nations, but when they were contrite and begged Jehovah to relieve them of this oppression, He raised up judges to bring about relief for them.

 

The Book of Judges records the work of twelve of these judges that Jehovah raised up including a woman named Deborah. The period covered by these accounts is difficult to determine exactly but a conservative estimate is approximately 350 years. Samuel, who himself was a judge although he is not counted among those in this book, is believed to be the writer of the book of Judges. The name of this book is taken from the Hebrew word Shophetim, which is translated in English as Judges.

 

The book of Judges is divided into three sections with chapters 1 and 2 describing the successes and failures of the people in conquering the land in obedience to Jehovah's command. Chapters 3-16 describes the apostasy of the people, the distress they suffered as a result and the deliverance brought by the twelve judges. Chapters 17-21 can be considered an epilogue and describes the moral corruption on the part of certain tribes and individuals that existed early in Israe's history possibly before the time of the judges. As the last verse of the book says, "In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did that which was right in his own eyes." (Judges 21:25)

 

 

 

Book of Ruth

 

Pink Daisy

 

This book is named for the main character, Ruth, a Moabitess who was married to an Israelite. An Israelite family had left the town of Bethlehem in Judah and moved to Moab to live during the time of a famine in Israel. This famine is said to have taken place during the time of the judges although a specific judge is not named. Some scholars believe that famine took place during the time of Gideon. Later, after the death of her husband and her two sons, the widowed mother and her daughter-in-law, Ruth, return to Bethlehem to live. The law of repurchase and levirate marriage is highlighted in this book in its fullest detail when the mother decides to sell the land belonging to her dead husband and sons.

 

Jewish tradition points to the prophet Samuel as the writer of his book. The book highlights the fact that even when God's own named people are in apostasy, a foreigner can embrace true worship and, in Ruth's case, because of her great faith in Jehovah she became an ancestress of David and hence of Jesus. (Matthew 1:5)

 

 

 

Book of First Samuel

 

Rose

 

First and Second Samuel were originally one book but with the publication of the Greek Septuagint, it was divided into two books. The prophet Samuel is credited with writing most of the book of First Samuel, up to chapter 24, but it is not known who completed this book and wrote the second book. Samuel also judged Israel after the High Priest, Eli, died. Jehovah revealed to Samuel that He was going to give the nation of Israel a king and He used him to anoint Saul, the first king, and later when He rejected Saul, Samuel was told to anoint David to be the future king of Israel.

 

The period of time covered in First Samuel begins with the birth of Samuel and ends with the death of Saul, approximately one hundred years. First Samuel can be divided into five sections: chapters 1-3, which describes the birth of Samuel and his entering the service at the temple under High Priest Eli; chapters 4-6 records how the ark of Jehovah was capture by the Philistines and its subsequent return to Israel; and chapters 7-10 deals with Samuel as judge of Israel. Chapters 11-15 records the anointing of Saul and his subsequent disobedience to Jehovah that led to his being rejected as king by Jehovah, and chapters 16-31 relates the anointing of David, his years of living in the wilderness and the last years of Saul's deteriorating ruler ship.

 

 

Book of Second Samuel

 

Blooming Blue Flower

 

The book of Second Samuel encompasses the entire forty-year ruler ship of David over Israel. It cannot be ascertained with any certainty as to who wrote this Bible book or when it was written. At 1 Chronicles 29:29 we learn that Samuel the seer, Gad the seer and Nathan the prophet wrote concerning the affairs of David and all that he did during his kingship. These records could then have been used by someone at a later time period to compile this Bible book and the same material used by a different writer in the compilation of 1 Chronicles.

 

Second Samuel is can be divided into four sections:

  1. Chapters 1-4 record the events of David's early reign over the two-tribe kingdom of Judah.
  2. Chapters 5-10 records the uniting of the kingdom under David, his conquering the entire territory allotted to Israel by Jehovah and the covenant Jehovah made with him.
  3. Chapters 11-21 records David's sin with Bathsheba and the resulting consequences to his family including his son Absalom's treachery and his return to the throne.
  4. Chapters 22-24 records the final years of David's life. Second Samuel does not record the death of David.

 

 

 

Book of First Kings

 

Bouquet of Flowers

 

As with the books of Samuel, the books of first and second Kings were also one manuscript but were divided into two books by the translators of the Greek Septuagint. First and Second Kings are a continuation of the narrative begun in the books of First and Second Samuel. Jewish tradition attributes the writing of First and Second Kings to Jeremiah. These two books records the ruler ship of all of the kings of both Judah and Israel as well as the preaching work of the prophets Elijah and Elisha.

 

The account of First Kings opens with the death of King David and the rule of his son Solomon. Outstanding events recorded in chapters 1-8 are the building and dedication of the magnificent temple to Jehovah by Solomon and the building of his palace and other governmental buildings. Chapters 9-11 record the wealth that Solomon accumulated and his fall into idolatry due to marrying pagan wives. In chapters 12-22 the kingdom is split into two separate kingdoms during the ruler ship of Rehoboam, the son of Solomon and the records of the ruler ship of the kings of both kingdoms is given down through the reigns of Jehoshaphat of Judah and Ahaziah in Israel.

 

 

 

Book of Second Kings

 

Rose

 

Second Kings continues the account of the kings of both Israel and Judah and the work of prophet Elisha among the kings of Israel. Chapters 1-17 gives Israel's history up to their being taken into captivity by the Assyrians. Judah will continue for another one hundred and thirty six years. Chapters 18-25 begins with the reigns of Hezekiah and ends with Zedekiah the last Judean king who was taken captive by the Babylonians thus ending the nation's monarchy. When they were restored to their land, they would not have a king.

 

 

 

Book of First Chronicles

 

Water Lily

 

First and Second Chronicles were initially one scroll but were divided into two books by the translators of the Greek Septuagint. The two books of Chronicles are thought to have been written by Ezra the scribe around the 5th century BCE, some years after the Jews had been restored to their land after being in exile in Babylon. After the Jews had settled in their land, they became apathetic and Ezra wanted to wake them up to their responsibility due to the covenant that they had with Jehovah. In his accounts, he highlighted the priesthood and its service, the temple and the kingdom covenant. They needed to keep these things foremost in their minds if they were to remain a nation until the coming of the Messiah. He wrote a full account of their history going back to Adam. He wrote only about the ruler ship of the Judean kings, barely mentioning the kings of the 10-tribe kingdom, with emphasis on David's ruler ship.

 

The first nine chapters of First Chronicles contain the genealogical records from Adam through the twelve sons of Jacob. Chapter 10 gives a brief account of Saul's death. Chapters 11-29 are centered on the reign of David, his exploits, his gathering of materials for the temple and organizing of the priests and Levites for the service at the temple and the acknowledgment of Solomon as king before David's death.

 

 

 

 

Book of Second Chronicles

 

Beautiful!

 

Second Chronicles can be divided into two sections. The first 9 chapters of Second Chronicles describe the reign of Solomon with major emphasis in these chapters on the building of the temple and his palace and other governmental buildings. Chapters 10-36 gives the reign of the remaining twenty-one Judean kings up to the time of the exile to Babylon. This Bible book ends with the decree of Cyrus, the Persian ruler, releasing the people to return to their land to rebuild Jehovah's temple.

 

 

 

Book of Ezra

 

Pretty Flowers!

 

The books of Ezra and Nehemiah were originally two scrolls but later they were treated as one book in the Hebrew Bible. Ezra, who was a skilled copyist, is credited with writing the book that bears his name, Ezra, around 440 BCE according to Jewish tradition. Six of the seven official documents or letters included in Ezra are written in Aramaic, the official language of the Persian Empire, but the remainder of this book is written in Hebrew.

 

Ezra came to Jerusalem during the seventh year of Artaxerxes I in 458 BCE. He came with the express purpose of teaching the Law to the returnees as they had fallen into a state of moral and spiritual degradation. Through his teachings, many Jews repented of their sins and returned to Jehovah.

 

The first six chapters of the book of Ezra record the history of the returnees and the opposition they faced when rebuilding the temple. The work was stopped for many years until Jehovah raised up His prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, to get the work started again. The temple was finished in the 6th year of the Persian ruler, Darius. Chapters 7-10 record Ezra's return to Jerusalem and the reforms he implemented.

 

 

 

Book of Nehemiah

 

 

Nehemiah, a Jewish exile who lived in the Persian City of Susa and was cupbearer to the Persian King, Artaxerxes, is the acknowledged writer of this book that bears his name. The book was written around 430 BCE. Nehemiah was concerned that after all the years since the Jews had returned to their land, the walls of Jerusalem were still not rebuilt and the city was sparsely settled. He made a request to the king that he give him some time away from his responsibilities to return to the city and rebuild the walls and the city and the king was agreeable.

 

Chapters 1 and 2 of the book of Nehemiah record his learning of the situation in Jerusalem and his request to the king to return to Jerusalem. Chapters 3 through 6 relate his arrival in Jerusalem, the opposition he faced from the surrounding nations, the problems that he faced among the Jews themselves and the completion of the building of the wall. Chapters 7 through 13 concerns the securing of the city, populating the city, the account of Ezra reading and explaining the Law to the people, their repenting of their sins, the dedication of the wall and Nehemiah's reforms on his return to Jerusalem at a later date.

 

 

 

Book of Esther

 

 

The book of Esther is the second book to be named for a woman and there are many controversies that surround it. Many believe that this book is not inspired because it does not contain any reference to God in it. It is mainly about the origin of the Festival of Purim, which was a festival adopted after the exile ended for the Jews. This festival is very popular among the Jews as it celebrates their being saved from extermination. The events surrounding this book occurred in Susa, the winter capital of the Persian kings. No one is certain who the writer of the book was but it was probably written after the death of the Persian king, Xerxes, in 465 BCE.

 

Chapters 1 through 3 discuss Esther's rise to prominence as Queen and the plot of Haman to exterminate the Jews in Persia. Chapters 4 - 9 discuss the intervention of Mordecai and Esther to stop the plot against the Jews, the execution of Haman and the establishment of the Feast of Purim. Chapter 10 discusses the honor accorded to Mordecai by the Persian King, Ahasuerus.