*In case the readers do not want to venture themselves into quite a long read, they may be satisfied with the following summary:
“In the beginning of the Bible, God throws Adam and Eve out of Eden: the rest of the book is on how humanity can return to Paradise”.
If the readers find this summary to be too concise, they can find many more details below.
* All of the citations in this page belong to the King James Bible
Song of Solomon
1-“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.”
“God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion”
2-“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 soul.”
God plants a garden eastward in Eden, where he puts the man that he has just created. In the garden God has also created the tree of life, and tree of knowledge of good and evil. God tells Adam that he will die if he will eat from the tree of knowledge. God makes Eve from Adam’s rib. Adam and Eve are not ashamed of being naked.
3-The serpent seduces Eve by telling her that if she eats from the tree of knowledge she will become as a God.
After Adam and Eve eat the fruit, they realise that they are naked. Once the snake, Adam and Eve are punished by God, the following occurs:
“And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”
4-Adam and Eve have two children: Abel and Cain. Cain is angry because God does not seem to appreciate his offerings; therefore God tells him “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
Cain kills Abel because of jealousy. Cain is punished as a vagabond in the earth. Cain conceives Enoch. Adam and Eve have another son: Seth. Seth’s son is Enos: and 26 “then began men to call upon the name of the Lord”.
Lamech (from Cain’s blood lineage) says in his ‘sword song’: “Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt. If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.”* [It is interesting to note that in MT 18:22 Jesus answers to Peter on how many times we should forgive our brothers “I tell you, not just seven times, but seventyseven times”]
5-We are told that Enoch walked with God and that God took him. From Seth’s lineage we arrive at Noah
6-God repents the creation of men after having witnessed their wickedness and violence. God makes a covenant with Noah to spare him.
8-A dove signals to Noah that the flood is over. Noah builds an Altar for God. God says he will never curse again the ground for man’s sake, even though “the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth”.
9-God sets a rainbow as a symbol of the covenant between him and the earth. He asks men not to shed blood and says that as part of the covenant he will no longer destroy the earth. One of the three sons of Noah is Ham (the others being Shem and Japheth). Ham’s son is Canaan. Noah is drunk and Ham sees him naked but does not cover him. Noah curses Ham’son (historians call it ‘Curse of Ham’), Canaan, by calling him a ‘servant’ (during colonial times, some have claimed the ‘curse of Ham’ is a justification for slavery on Black people and other races. In medieval times the curse was seen as a justification for serfdom).
10-The families derived from Noah will later be divided among the earth, establishing the first nations. The generations of Noah are called the ‘Table of Nations’ since Noah’s descendants after the flood are considered to be the forefathers of the first nations. According to this genealogy at least seventy nations derive from Noah. Shem is considered to the patriarch of the Semites people, Ashur (Shem’s second son) founder of the Assyrians, Eber (great-grandson of Shem) the ancestor of the Hebrews, Canaan (Ham’s son) founder of the Canaanites, Nimrod the hunter (grandson of Ham) was either founder or ruler of Babel and Akkad.
11-Human try to build the Tower of Babel as high as heaven. However God, concerned that all humans speak the same language since “now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do”, decides to confound their languages and divides the humans across the earth. The Tower is left uncompleted. From Shem’s lineage we arrive at Abraham who moves from Ur of the Chaldees to the land of Canaan.
12-God tells Abraham that he will make a great nation out of him. Abraham, already in Canaan, builds an altar for God. However there is a famine in Canaan, so Abraham moves to Egypt. Abraham is worried that the Egyptians may take his wife (Sarai) from him, so when they are introduced to the princes of the Pharaoh he tells that Sarai is his sister. Abram and Sarai are hosted by the Pharaoh in his house. Because Sarai’s beauty attracted the attention of the Pharaoh, God punishes the Pharaoh with plagues. Abraham and Sarai leave the Pharaoh.
13-Abraham and Lot (the son of Haran, Abraham’s brother) become wealthy in Canaan. There is a strife between Abraham’s herdmen and Lot’s herdmen. To prevent a major confrontation, Abraham and Lot decide to separate each other. Lot plants his tend towards Sodom. God promises to Abraham a great dynasty.
14-There are major wars in Canaan between tribes. Lot is taken captive by Chedorlaomer king of Elam. Abraham rescues Lot with his trained servants. Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of God, praises Abraham and brings him bread and wine.
15-After Abraham fails complete an animal sacrifice as requested by God, God tells Abraham that 400 years of hardship will have to pass before Abraham’s dynasty will become a great nation.
“the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites, And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites”.
16-Since Sarai cannot have children, Abraham conceives a son with Hagar. The son is called Ishmael (According to Islamic theology, Ishmael is a patriarch of Islam. He is considered to be an ancestor of Arab tribes and a forefather of Muhammad).
17-God tells Abraham that as part of the covenant which will make his seed rule over Canaan, circumcision will have to be practiced. God says Ishmael will be blessed, though it will be Abraham’s second child, Isaac, with whom the covenant shall continue.
19-The Angels tell Lot and his family to leave Sodom. God destroys Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot and his two daughters reach a cave. To avoid the end of Lot’s dynasty, the two daughters make Lot drink and then practice an incestuous relationship with the father that will produce two children (one being Moab, the father of the Moabites and another Ben-Ammi, father of the Ammonites)
21-Sarah conceives Isaac.
22-An Angel stops Abraham from killing Isaac after God requested a sacrifice.
24-A servant finds the wife (Rebekah) for Isaac after a prayer to God. Isaac marries Rebekah.
25-Abraham takes another wife, Keturah, who bares him many children including Midian (progenitor of the Midianites). Abraham and Ishmael die. Rebekah conceives two twins: Esau and Jacob. Esau is nicknamed ‘Edom’ (allegedly the Edomites originate from Esau). Esau sells his birthright to Jacob.
26-There is a famine but God tells Isaac to dwell among the land (Gerar) of the Phillistines rather than going to Egypt. God promises to Isaac: “I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven”. Isaac finds many wells of water. The king of the Phillistines, having realised that God is with Isaac, decides to undertake an oath with Isaac of no reciprocal belligerence.
27-An old and blind Isaac wants to bless Esau, but Rebekah tells Jacob to be received by his father. Not realising that Jacob is in front of him because of the blindness, Isaac inadvertently blesses Jacob. As Rebekah hears that Esau wants to kill Jacob in revenge, Rebekah tells Jacob to leave until Esau’s anger will be subsided.
28-Jacob dreams of a ladder reaching heaven from Earth, with angels ascending and descending on it. A the top of the ladder there is God that sends blessings to Jacob and promises him great things.
29-Jacob meets his uncle (brother of Rebekah) Laban. Jacob would like to marry Rachel (Laban’s daugher), but on the wedding day Laban switches the veiled spouse Leah for Rachel. Jacob realises too late about the plot. Later Leah will remain pregnant of Reuben. Leah will also conceive other children from Jacob (Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun and Dinah). Eventually Jacob gets to marry Rachel.
30-Rachel, realising that she is barren, decides to give Jacob her maid Bilhah. Bilhal conceives Dan and Naphtali. When Leah stops bearing she also gives her maid (Zlipah) to Jacob. Zlipah conceives Gad and Asher. God opens Rachel’s womb and as a result she conceives Joseph.
31-God asks Jacob to return to the land of his father. Jacob and Laban have a quarrel on who gets the best parts of the flock. Jacob and his family leave Laban, although Rachel steals the ‘idol images’ (Teraphim) of the father. Later Laban and Jacob make a pact to not harm each other.
32-Jacob wrestles with an unknown man who later is revealed to be God (or an angel). Jacob suffers a minor injury, but God tells him “Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed”. Then Jacob says “I have seen God face to face”
33-Jacob and Esau meet each other. Jacob is worried about Esau’s revenge, but the two have an emotional reunion. Jacob offers to Esau a few gifts. Then Jacob arrives at the city of Schechem in the land of Canaan. He erects an alter called “Elelohe-Israel” (El, God of Israel). In Hebrew ‘Israel’ means “God shall fight”
34-Schechem, an important prince, abuses of Dinah (a daughter of Jacob). Jacob’s sons, Simeone and Levi, take their revenge by killing Schechem and spoiling his city.
35-Jacob hides under an oak all the idols of “strange Gods” that some members of his family possessed. Isaac dies.
36-Esau’s marries the “daughters of Canaan” and has many children. Esau is considered to be the father of the Edomites.
37-Joseph’s brothers are jealous of him because Joseph is Jacob’s favourite son. Initially the brothers plot to kill him, but Ruben suggests to cast Joseph into a pit. Then the brothers attack Joseph and cast him in a empty pit (with no water) as planned. Then Judas says “What profit is it if we slay our brother and conceal his blood? Come and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites (also called ‘Midianites’)“. So Joseph is sold to the Ishmeelian merchants for twenty pieces of silver. Joseph is brought into Egypt. Jacob is falsely told by the brothers that Joseph was devoured by a wild beast, while the Midianites sell Joseph to Potiphar (an officer of the Pharaoh).
38-Juda’s wife (Shuah) conceives Er, Onan and Shelah. Er was considered to be wicked by God, so he is killed by God. Judah tells Onan to take as wife the woman (Tamar) that originally had to marry Er. However Onan refuses to have children with Tamar since she was expected to have a family with Er; therefore during the sexual intercourse Onan spills the semen on the ground (from here originates the term ‘Onanism’). Displeased by this act, God kills Onan.
39-Potiphar notices that Joseph is helped by God, therefore Potiphar treats Joseph with great respect. Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce Joseph, but Joseph refuses to have any relationship. Potiphar’s wife falsely accuses Joseph of having molested her, therefore Potiphar puts Joseph into prison.
40-In the prison Joseph interprets the dreams of two Pharaoh’s eunuchs: one the chief butler and the other the chief baker. Joseph’s interpretations prove to be true.
41-The pharaoh has a mysterious dream. The chief butler tells him to visit Joseph since he has shown to have prophetic powers. Joseph tells the pharaoh that his dream is about an imminent famine. Joseph gives precise indications to the pharaoh on how to survive during the famine. The Pharaoh, impressed by Joseph, says “Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is? “ And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, “Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art: Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.” And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, “See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt”.
As planned, Joseph stores extra wheat to be prepared for the famine. When the year of the famine sets in, Egypt is well prepared to cope with it while other nations have to go to Egypt to buy food.
Interesting phrases by Joseph:
–“God… hath made me forget all my toil… God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.”
-(On whether Joseph can interpret dreams) “Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace”.
42-Joseph’s brothers come to Egypt to buy food. The brothers do not recognise him, while Joseph does. An emotional Joseph accuses them of being spies. Joseph imprisons Simeon and says he will free him when the brothers will come back to show him the youngest brother (Benjamin). So Joseph’s brothers except Simeon are allowed to go back (with grain). The brothers return in Canaan to Jacob. Jacob despairs because Joseph and Simeon are no longer with him.
43-The brothers return to Egypt with Benjamin and various gifts. The brothers also give back the money that Joseph had given them. Joseph and the brothers have lunch together- Joseph cries when looking at Benjamin. During the lunch Joseph treats Benjamin with more reverence (Benjamin was not part of the plot against Joseph).
44-Joseph orders the steward of his house to put his silver cup in Benjamin’s book without the brother’s knowledge. Later, deceptively, Joseph accuses the brothers of having stolen the silver cup and that as a result one of them will have to become his slave. Judas asks Joseph to be his slave rather than Benjamin, since Jacob would suffer a lot if his youngest son would not return.
45-After Judas’ pledge, Joseph breaks down in tears and asks his brothers to come close to him. Then Joseph reveals his identity. Joseph says God as made him ruler of all the land of Egypt and asks the brothers to tell his father to come to Egypt. Before leaving, Joseph urges his brothers not to quarrel.
46-In a vision of the night God tells Jacob to go to Egypt and visit Joseph. Jacob, his sons and all the family go to Egypt. Joseph and Jacob have an emotional reunion.
47-Joseph tells to the Pharaoh that his family has come to Egypt because there is a famine in the land of Canaan. The Pharaoh is very welcoming towards Joseph’s family. Joseph helps the Egyptians to tackle the famine.
48-Jacob blesses Joseph and the sons of Joseph that were born in Egypt: “God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth”. Jacob promises to give Joseph more portions of land (more specifically the land that he conquered from the Amorites) in Canaan than his brothers
49-Jacob (Israel) blesses and curses his twelve sons. These are the twelve tribes of Israel: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Joseph, Benjamin. A special blessing is handed to Joseph “Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall: The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him:
But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel):
Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb:
The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills:
they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.”
50-Jacob dies. Jacob’s sons dig a grave for him in the land of Canaan as Jacob had asked. Joseph’s brothers are worried that Joseph may take a revenge on them after Jacob’s death, but Joseph says: “Fear not: for am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them”. Before dying Joseph says to his family that God will come to visit them and bring them out of Egypt to return to the land that was promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Joseph dies.
1- We are told Jacob’s descendants become numerous and powerful in Egypt. The new Pharaoh, however, worried about the increasing power of the Jews, decides to enslave them by assigning them forced labour. Jews had to make bricks. The Pharaoh says to the Hebrew midwives to kill the new sons of Hebrew women if they are male, but to let them alive if they are female. But the midwives feared God so they saved the men children as well. Then the Pharaoh gave an order to all the people of Egypt: “Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive”
2-A woman from the Levi house conceives a son. Fearing that the Egyptians would kill him, she puts him in an ark of bulrushes and then leaves the ark in the Nile’s river. The daughter of the Pharaoh and her maidens find the ark with the child and decide to nurse him, and they call him “Moses”. A grown Moses sees that the Hebrews are oppressed: in one occasion he says an Egyptian hitting hard a Jew. Moses intervenes and kills the Egyptian. Moses fears that the Pharaoh may sentence him to death so he flees and goes to Midian. There Moses meets a priest. The priest gives Moses on of his daughters (Zipporah). Zipporah bares him a child (Gershom).
In Egypt the Israelis are suffering. God hears their groaning and remembers the covenant he made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
3-Through a burning bush, God says to Moses that he is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and that we wants to help the oppressed Jews in Egypt to come back to the land of Canaan. Moses is told that he will have to go back to Egypt to rescue his people, but Moses ass God how he can face the Pharaoh. God reassures Moses that he will stay with him. Then Moses asks God how he should call God when he will meet the Jews. God says ‘I AM THAT I AM’ (ehyeh asher ehyeh). God says he will punish the Egyptians and make the Hebrews rich before leaving Egypt.
4-God tells Moses to use the stick-serpent magic trick to make an impression on the Hebrews. Another trick is that if Moses touches his pectorals with his hand, then his hand becomes leprous and if the touches his pectorals again the hand returns to a normal condition. A third trick is that if he will take some water from the Nile river and pour it on dry land then the water will turn into blood. However Moses tells God that his a bit clumsy when talking and not that eloquent. God promises Moses that he will help him to say what he has to say. God is angry at Moses for his hesitance, so he tells him that his brother Aron the Levite will do the public speaking for him.
Moses and his family are about to go to Egypt. God reminds Moses that he will harden the Pharaoh’s heart- meaning that initially the Egyptians will refuse to allow the Hebrews to leave Egypt. When that happens, God asks Moses to say the following to the Pharaoh “Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, even my firstborn: And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn.”
While Moses and his family are going to Egypt, God tries to kill Moses’ firstborn. However Zipporah saves the son by circumcising him.
In Egypt Aron explains to the Hebrews Moses’ mission. The Hebrews believe in Moses.
5-Moses and Aron ask the Pharaoh to allow the Hebrews to return to the land of Canaan. The Pharaoh refuses. He accuses the Israelis of being idle and then punishes them by no longer giving them free straw to make bricks. The Israeli officers are beaten.
6-God speaks to Moses saying “And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty [El Shaddai], but by my name YWHW was I not known to them”. He then says that he establish a covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan; therefore he will rescue the Israelis from the Egyptian oppression (“I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgment. And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am theLord your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians”). God asks Moses and Aron to go again to speak to the Pharaoh.
A geneaology tells us that Moses and Aron are direct descendants of Levi.
7-God says he will punish the Egyptians for not letting the Israelis free. Aron and Moses speak again with the Pharaoh. Aron, as told by God, shows the stick-snake trick to the Pharaoh. However the Pharaoh calls other magicians and these magicians can do the same trick. But Aron’s snake swallows all the other snakes. The Pharaoh still refuses to allow the Israelis to leave Egypt. So God tells Moses to say the following (this is the first plague) “The Lord God of the Hebrews hath sent me unto thee, saying, Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness: and, behold, hitherto thou wouldest not hear.Thus saith the Lord, In this thou shalt know that I am the Lord: behold, I will smite with the rod that is in mine hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood. And the fish that is in the river shall die, and the river shall stink; and the Egyptians shall lothe to drink of the water of the river”. Then God says to Moses to use the stick also in other rivers, ponds and so forth so that Egypt will be full of blood.
God and Aron execute the orders. All the fishes die. However also the Egyptian magicians are capable of such things. The Pharaoh is unimpressed, while Egyptians dig holes across the Nile to find some water to drink.
8- Second plague: Aron (following God’s orders) stretches the stick towards the Nile and frogs come out all over the place. But the Egyptian magicians could do the same thing. The Pharaoh calls Moses and Aron, and ask them to take away the frogs so that in exchange he will free the Israelis. Moses and Aron ask God to take away the frogs and God accomplishes this request. However the Pharaoh still does not allow the Israelis to leave Egypt.
Third plague: Aron hits the dust of the earth with the stick. As a result the dust turns into mosquitos. The Egyptian magicians realise that this time this must be the work of a God.
Fourth plague: swarms of flies attack Egypt. The Israelis are spared. The Pharaoh asks Moses and Aron to make sacrifices to their God to alleviate his anger.
9-Fifth plague: all the cattle of Egypt dies
Sixth plague: Moses take a handful of ashes from a furnace, he then sprinkles the ashes toward the sky . These ashes now cover the whole land of Egypt and they boil the skin of men and animals. The Egyptian magicians cannot fight back Moses.
Seventh plague: violent hailstorm in Egypt after Moses stretches forth the stick towards the sky. Moses spreads his hands towards God and the hailstorm stops.
10-Eight plague: Locust attack
Ninth plague: Moses stretches his hand over the sky and there is darkness for three days
11,12-Tenth plague: All the Egyptians firstborn will die. God tells Moses to order every Hebrew to eat a lamb and place the lamb’s blood “on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses”. When God sees the blood in the door, then he will spare the firstborn inside that house. God announces that this is his ‘passover’, and that this day will have to be remembered by all the generations. After the tenth plague strikes Egypt, the Pharaoh tells Moses and Aron that the Israelis can leave. The Israelis take also jewels of silver and of gold from the Egyptians. Moses establishes the rite of the passover for the future generations.
13-God mentions the ‘strength of hand’: this is what has allowed him to help the Israelis in Egypt. The Israelis make their way towards the Red Sea: God follows them in a pillar of clouds, and in a pillar of fire in the night to give them light.
14-The Egyptian military chases the Israelis. The Israelis are scared but Moses tells them that God will fight for them. God says to Moses to lift his stick and to stretch his hand over the sea, so that the sea will be dived and the Israelis will be able to cross it (God says “And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten me honour upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.”). Moses obeys God’s orders and as a result the sea is dried enough to be crossed. As the Egyptians try to chase the Israelis, God takes off their chariot wheels. The Egyptians decide to flee. God asks again to stretch his stick over the sea. Moses obey: the waters return thereby covering the Egyptian chariots and the Egyptian soldiers.
15- The Israelis dedicate a song to God for having rescued them: “The Lord is a man of war… Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy… The people shall hear, and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina. Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed; the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon them; all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away. Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass over, O Lord, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased.”
When Moses and the Israelis wander in the desert, God shows them where to find water. God says that if the Israelis will do what he tells them to do, then they will not perish like the Egyptians
16-The Israelis complain about the hardship of the desert, especially because there is little to eat. The ‘glory’ of God appears ‘in the cloud’ and God tells Moses that the Israeli will be given food. The Israelis are given the Manna by God.
17-This time the Israelis complain for the lack of water. God tells Moses that he can smite the rock with his stick to find water. Meanwhile Amalek is attacking the Israelis. Moses tells Joshua to fight back. Joshua and his forces kill Amalek and defeat his army.
18-Ietro, priest of Midian and Moses’ father-in-law, says that the events in Egypt have demonstrated that YHWH is the strongest among the Gods. Ietro tells Moses that he has to present to the people what God tells him; Moses will have to explain to them the decrees and the laws, and the deeds that they have to fulfil. However Ietro suggests Moses to appoint judges. These judges have to be truthful men and have to be men that fear God. The judges will deal with the minor matters, so that Moses is not to busy. However whenever judges face great matters, they have to consult Moses. Ietro also outlines the hierarchy of the judges system “place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens”. Moses accepts Ietro’s advise. Thus Moses appoints the judges.
19-The Israelis reach the Sinai desert. Moses goes up the mountain to talk to God. God says that there is something Moses has to tell to the house of Jacob “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel”. God says he will appear in a thick cloud, so that the people can hear him when he speaks to Moses and always believe in Moses. God says to Moses to sanctify the day by telling the Israelis to wash their clothes. Then God says that the third day he will come down from the mountain so that the will be visible to all the people, but God warns that before then nobody has to come near the mountain (otherwise the people should be punished with capital punishment). Moses refers to the Israelis God’s orders.
God descends upon the mount Sinai.
20-God tells Moses what we now call the ‘ten commandments’: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image….”. [It is interesting to note that in this chapter God’s commandments are negative ‘do not do x’, while in the New Testament Jesus establishes new commandments that are positive ‘do x’]. While God speaks, the Israelis are scared by the thunderings, lightnings and the smoking on the mountain. But Moses reassures the Israelis by saying “Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not”.
21, 22, 23,24-God talks to Moses about the Law. The main issues involve slavery, death penalty, punishments for offences, fines. Interesting commandments: 22:21 which says not to vex any stranger, because the Israelis were strangers as well in Egypt; 22:25 which says not to lend money at an interest to a fellow countryman that is poor; 23:1 prohibits dishonesty when witnessing;
God says he will help the Israelis to crush the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites and the Jebusites as long as the Israelis will not bow down to other Gods. God tells Moses to destroy the images of those people.
Moses tells the people what God said. Moses also writes down what God said (the book of the covenant). Moses sacrifices oxens and says this is the “blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words”.
Moses goes once again to the mountain (for forty days) to receive God’s tables of stone with the law and commandments”
25,26,27, 28,29,30,31-Moses and the people, following God’s commands, build an ark of wood, a tabernacle and an altar in his tribute. God says the ‘spirit of wisdom’ (ruach hachokhmah) has descended on those designing Aaron’s garments (Aron will be priest) [the description of Aron’s ephod is similar to the Masonic apron]. ‘Urim’ and ‘Thummim’ are mentioned (stones used for divination). God tells Moses how to do sacrifices. God says Aron and his sons (the Levites) will be his priests. God also says he will among the children of Israel and be their God.
God says he likes the smell of the sacrifices. God also says Israelis need to pay a tax when a census is conducted. God says: respect sabbath otherwise you shall be put to death. Finally Moses is given two tables of stone ‘written with the finger of God’.
32-The Israelis, disappointed for having to wait for Moses and God for so long, ask Aron to make a God that “shall go before us”. So Aaron and the Israelis take all of the gold they have thereby fashioning a golden calf. God says that he will destroy the Israelis for this sin, but Moses prays to God that the Israelis should be forgiven. God partially forgives them (though he says that some form of punishment will be used in the future). Once Moses descends the mountain, he destroys the golden calf.
Moses calls up his most loyal followers (the Levites) and tells them to kill a brother, a companion and a neighbour. The orders are executed.
God criticises the people for being ‘stiffnecked’
33,34,35,36,37,38,39,40-God tells Moses “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.” He says to Moses that he is a jealous God and that he does not want him nor his followers to pray to other Gods. God tells other details about the covenant between him and the Israelis (such as resting on the seventh day, offers and doing the proper celebrations every year like passover, feast of harvest, feast of unleavened bread). Moses has the two tables of testimony. Moses explains to the people what God told him. The Isralies offer to God gold,silver, wood etc.[35:31 Moses talks again about God being able to fill people with the ‘spirit of God’, which makes such people being filled with wisdom. This wisdom allows them to excel in their craft). The Israelis proceed with the construction of the tabernacle tent, the altar and of the ark of testimony.The tabernacle is needed as a place for God’s dwelling. The Hebrew term for God’s dwelling or God’s presence is ‘Shekinah’. The efod contains 12 stones (one for each Israeli tribe).
40-God says to Moses to put the testimony (the tablets) in the ark. A fence and a gate are placed around the tent. Once all of the works are completed “a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys:
But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up.For the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.”
1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16-God calls Moses, and from the tent of the tabernacle he tells Moses which rituals and sacrifices have to be conducted to obtain his favour. God says he will appreciate the sweet savour of the sacrifice. If a priest commits a sin he will have to sacrifice a young bullock. When men and women commit sins they need to consult the priests to make the rituals/sacrifices (these are the ‘sin offerings’).
In 5:4 God warns not make superficial oaths (something Jesus also warned in Matthew 5:33-37)
The holiest offering is the trespass offering (compensation sacrifice for unintentional sins).
There are also peace offerings, and offerings for thanksgiving. God says some parts of the offerings have to be given to Aron and his sons as well.
Moses conducts the atonement for Aron and his sons [whenever the Bible mentions the appearance of the ‘glory’ of God, ‘glory’ comes from the Hebrew ‘Kavod’ which literally means ‘heaviness’. Sometimes ‘Kavod’ is also used to describe military strength, in other cases to express a sense of honour]. When Moses and Aron are at the tabernacle, the glory of God appears to all of the Hebrews.
Two sons of Aron die because of fire during an incorrect sacrifice.
God tells Moses which food are pure and which are impure.
God assigns important roles to the priests on medical matters. In addition the priest has to decide whether someone is ‘clean’ or ‘unclean’ from a religious point of view. The priest can turn someone unclean into clean through the rites.
Some of the indications by God are not strictly religious, but have to do with matters (hygiene, food restrictions, rules on sexual relationships etc) of social coexistence.
22-“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)
31- “Into thine hand I commit my spirit” (Probably Jesus referred to this verse in Luke 23:46)
139-“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”.