References to: Tim Finlay and Jim Herst

Exploring Numbers

What’s in a name?

The title of this book in the Septuagint is Arithmoi, which translates into English as Numbers. This name was probably chosen because of the census described in the first chapter of the book, in which the tribes of Israel are numbered (1:1-3).

Note how the book begins, “And the Lord spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai” (1:1, KJV). The and illustrates the continuity between Numbers and the previous book, Leviticus.

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Form or Substance?

In Mesopotamian thought, the purpose of human existence was to provide the gods with the necessities and luxuries of life. Israelite worship shared many of these external forms, such as calling sacrifices “the food of their God” (Leviticus 21:6). The essence of Israelite worship, though, was quite different.

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Leviticus: Living a Holy Life

The Five Sacrifices: chapters 1-7

Prelude: chapter 1:1-2

As he had promised, God met with Moses in the tabernacle to reveal his will to the Israelites (verse 1). The first of these revelations related to the sacrifices. The patriarchs, when sojourning in Canaan, had already worshiped God with burnt offerings and sin offerings. Consequently, the sacrificial laws of these chapters presuppose the presentation of burnt offerings, grain offerings and sin offerings as a custom well known to the people.

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Exploring Leviticus

What’s in a name?

The opening word of Leviticus is wayyiqra’, which means “and he called.” The Jews used this word as a title for Leviticus. They also called it “the law of the priests,” “the book of the priests” and “the law of the offerings.” These designations summarized the general content of the book, recognizing it as a work intended primarily for the priesthood.

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Did Moses Steal the Ten Commandments?

Shushan, which lies 200 miles east of Babylon, was the capital of ancient Elam (Susiana), and later the winter palace of the Persian kings. It was the scene of many biblical events in the time of Daniel, Nehemiah, Queen Esther and King Ahasuerus (Xerxes).

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The Name of God
 God's name in Hebrew
The Hebrew letters for God's name, YHWH (read from right to left), are framed by the star of David in a stained-glass window in Winchester Cathedral, England (above).
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Exodus: Birth of a Nation

Israel in Egypt Chapters 1:1-12:36

Setting the scene: chapter 1

Exodus opens with a list of “the sons of Israel” (verse 1) who were the focus of the last part of Genesis. The attention shifts quickly in verse 7 to the “Israelites” (people of Israel). From this point on, the name Israel usually refers to the nation of people, not to the patriarch.

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Exploring Exodus

What’s in a name?

The English name Exodus comes from the Septuagint title for the book, Exodos, which means “road out” or “way out.” The first part of the book culminates in Israel’s going out of Egypt and crossing the Red Sea – a defining moment in Israel’s history.

In a literal rendering of the Hebrew text, the book of Exodus begins with the word and, thus emphasizing its continuity with Genesis. The Hebrew title for Exodus is derived from the first two words in the book, we’elleh shemoth, which mean “And these are the names” (1:1).

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Joseph: The Hand of God

For an overview of what will be covered in this chapter, read Genesis 37-50.

The Egyptian officer prodded his horses in excitement. Dust and rocks flew up behind the stately, ornamented chariot as the horses, already lathered and breathing hard, began galloping again. In the distance, he could see a train of donkeys driven by men and women in Hebrew garments. He could barely make out an old man with a long beard. His anticipation grew. The officer, Hebrew himself, was sure it was his father, whom he hadn’t seen in more than 20 years.

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Genesis: Isaac and Jacob

Chapters 25:19-36:42

Jacob and Esau: chapter 25:19–34

In the Hebrew culture, a woman’s inability to have children was a reproach. It struck at the core of the Hebrew belief that every family stemming from Abraham was part of the covenant of God. Infertility, a “barren womb,” was embarrassing to a wife and could end a loving relationship. The denial of motherhood was a crushing blow. And few acts of God could be a more direct blessing than the reversal of a woman’s infertility.

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