The history and theories of Genesis through Judges

This post concludes our big series on the history of the books Genesis through Judges. We look at the final significant events and different theories that are out there that are associated with these books. This post is not affirming or denying these theories, just trying to provide some background. Again, this is a high-level overview and not comprehensive. This is too encourage further study and knowledge as well as trying to point out the major events and ideas that occur throughout these beautiful books.

Passover-in Hebrew, pesah, “to pass over”. To “pass over” means “to protect”. The Lord himself will block the entry of the destroyer, He will be a protective covering for His people. Exodus 12 outlines the specifics of the Passover and is concerned with the when, why, how, and who. Moses at the original Passover, focuses exclusively on the role of blood-that the blood is to be extracted from the lamb’s body and smeared over the doorposts and the horizontal beam atop the door (Handbook on the Pentateuch, p 167-169).

Exodus-After the Plagues and the Passover, Pharaoh allows the Hebrews to leave Egypt, known as the Exodus. We are told in Exodus 12:37, six hundred thousand men, besides women and children, leave Egypt.

Mosaic Covenant-given to administer the fulfillment of Abraham’s promises to his descendants in the time after Moses until the cross; the promises include (1) the possession of the land of Canaan, (2) an innumerable offspring, and (3) world-wide blessing through Israel (Notes for Pentateuch, p 12-13).

Ten Commandments-a summary given to Israel of all the stipulations that God would place upon His people in the covenant which He gave on Sinai and inscribed on stone, Deut 5 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 124).

  1. You shall have no other gods before me.
  2. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heave above or on earth below.
  3. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
  4. Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
  5. Honor your father and mother
  6. You shall not commit murder
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
  10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.

Tabernacle-place of worship; instructions given for the tabernacle and the priesthood that will be protect the holy Yahweh from the unholy people, Ex 25-31 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 17).

Golden Calf-while Moses received the Ten Commandments, Aaron led in the building of the calf so that the Israelites might have something to worship. Moses pleaded with God not to destroy Israel and returned to their camp. Upon arriving back at the camp, Joshua thought there was noise of war, however Moses corrected him saying that it was the sound of singing. Moses displayed great anger, throwing the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments to the ground and destroying the calf. Moses rebuked Aaron for his leading in this corrupt act, Ex 32 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 62).

Ark of the Covenant-After the law was given to Moses, he gave it to the priests, who carried the ark of the covenant of Yahweh, Deut 31 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 143).

The Offerings (Burnt, Grain, Fellowship, Sin, Guilt) Burnt Offering-primary worship and atoning sacrifices, must be male, its blood applied to the altar, the animal burnt entirely on the altar. Grain Offering-might be cooked in various forms but always with oil, salt, and incense, and offered in a memorial portion on the altar, the rest being for the priest to eat as a sign that God accepted the sacrifice. Fellowship Offering-must be as expensive as the worshiper can afford, its fat, kidneys, and liver burned on the altar, its blood sprinkled around the altar since fat and blood are prohibited for human consumption, being holy to Yahweh. Sin Offering-represents the dignity of the person who has sinned unwittingly and has brought defilement into the presence of the Lord, effecting cleansing and atonement with the forgiveness it brings. Guilt Offering-must be offered for defrauding God or man, in addition to restoring 120% of what was lost by the fraud, thus gaining forgiveness by atonement, Lev 1-5 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 68-73).

The Feasts (Passover, Unleavened Bread, Weeks, Trumpets, Day of Atonement, Tabernacles)Feast of Passover-Israel must keep Passover in the month of Abib, sacrificing at Yahweh’s sanctuary and eating it with unleavened bread for seven days to recall the deliverance from Egypt, eating all the flesh on the night of Passover. Feast of Unleavened Bread-provides an opportunity to teach successive generations about Yahweh’s deliverance; it was designed to cause children to ask and fathers to explain Yahweh’s great deliverance from Egypt. Feast of Weeks-Seven weeks from the beginning of the harvest, Israel must celebrate the feast of weeks bringing a free-will offering to the central sanctuary, rejoicing with all the people, including the slaves and poor, remembering their slavery in Egypt. Feast of Trumpts-on the first of the seventh month, Israel must observe a rest, for blowing trumpets as a holy convocation, presenting an offering by fire to Yahweh. Day of Atonement-on the tenth of the seventh month, Israel must observe this feast, doing no work, but humbling their souls and presenting offerings to Yahweh, since it was a day to make atonement, a day of complete rest not to be violated. Feast of Tabernacles-After the final ingathering Israel, including the slaves and the poor, must keep the feast of tabernacles for seven days at the central sanctuary, when Yahweh would bless all they would do and they would be very joyful. Lev 23 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 86).

Year of Jubilee-Israel would acknowledge Yahweh’s ownership of the land by returning any purchased land to its original tenant and by trusting Him to provide their food during the whole period, Lev 25 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 87).

Censuses-The Lord commanded two censuses of the Levites, first as the redemption for Israel’s first born, and second to determine who would tend to the tabernacle on the march, Num 3-4 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 92).

Nazirite Vow-conferred a sanctity on the layman next only to the high priest, requiring separation from all products of the vine, refrain from cutting hair of the head, and from all dead bodies, a new beginning of the vow for the defiled, and very expensive sacrifices, such as the those for the consecration of a high priest, for the consummation of the vow, Num 6 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 94).

Cloud of Fire-As Israel left Sinai, Yahweh’s cloud rose from the tent, leading Israel out of the camp to the fulfillment of His promises, Num 10 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 97).

The Rebellion of Kadesh Barnea-Because of unbelief and rebellious fear, Yahweh drove the generation of Israel and even Moses back into the wilderness as punishment for their unbelief. Israel sent spies in to Kadesh-Barnea, who brought back a positive report of the land, but were frightened and did not want to obey Yahweh by taking the land. Israel thought that God hated them so that He brought them to the desert to die at the hands of the Amorites at Kadesh Barnea, Deut 1 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 119).

Bronze Snake-Israel, afflicted by serpents sent by Yahweh, realized and confessed their sin so that after Moses’ intercession, they set up a bronze serpent as a sign for the people’s healing, Num 21 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 109).

Cities of Refuge-6 cities set aside from the 48 Levitical cities that would be available to protect people guilty of unpremeditated murder from the blood avenger. These cities would not offer refuge to the premeditated murder who must return to his own home to face the avenger, Num 35 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 118-119).

Blessings for Obedience/Curses for Disobedience-Israel was constantly given blessings for their obedience to Yahweh, and curses/punishments for their disobedience and unbelief.

Conquest of Canaan-led by Joshua, Israel crosses the Jordan, defeats the cities of Jericho, Ai, and the region of Gibeon, the conquest of northern Canaan, Josh 6-11 (Joshua Notes, p 4-7).

Gibeonite Deception- Fearful of Israel’s defeat at Ai, the Gibeonites deceive Israel, sending an envoy claiming to be foreigners.Israel enters into a covenant of protection for the Gibeonites and region of Gibeon without consulting Yahweh. As a result of the oath, their land is protected, however the people become enslaved becoming wood cutters and water men for the tabernacle, Josh 9 (Joshua Notes, p 6).


  1. 2000 (Abraham)

1446 (Exodus; Judges 11:26; I Kings 6:1)

  1. 1400 (Conquest of Canaan)

1350-1050 (Period of the Judges)


Enuma Elish-a story from Mesopotamia in which creation is a prominent theme. Varying opinions exist on the origination of the Enuma Elish (either during the second millennium B.C. or not earlier than 1100 B.C.). The primary purpose of this epic is theogonic—to explain the origin of the gods, and especially Marduk; secondary purpose was its composition with religious functions in mind (to be read aloud at an annual Babylonian festival). Third key is to understand the Babylonian concept of gods—origin, character, and destiny in which creation is told in terms of procreation. Fourth, heaven and earth are not spoken into existence, but are formed from the corpse of a slain god and lastly, humankind is created to relieve the gods of the necessity of manual labor (Handbook on the Pentateuch, p 35-39).

Gilgamesh Epic-a secular account of the flood from Mesopotamian literature, named after Gilgamesh, king of Uruk dating to approximately 1600 B.C. Key ideas about the epic: it is silent about motive for the flood, it is difficult to discern a reason why one mortal is saved, dimensions of the ship built by the heroes are strange, and it lacks a clear didactic function. Essentially, in the Gilgamesh epic, the storyline is more concerned with the hero Gilgamesh and his search for immortality; the flood is merely a subplot to the overarching theme (Handbook on the Pentateuch, p 64-67).

JEDP Theory-a theory regarding the style of passages in support of the scholarly position of the Pentateuch. J-the Yahwist, a neutral, undefined document, in traditional historical criticism. It is what is left over when each of the other documents have been subtracted from the text of the Pentateuch; has been defined as being a lively, imaginative style. E-the Elohist, containing less continuous narratives than J and is more restrained in its narrative style than J. D-the Deuteronomist, most interested in legal material, contained a religious evaluation of Israel’s history (obedience yields divine blessing, disobedience yields divine curse; demonstrated the necessity for a prounounced sense of social justice under the provisions of the covenant relationship) and is marked by exhortation. P-uses the same terms for deity as E, but uses a style described a prosaic, precise, formulaic, repetitious; lacking in metaphor and simile; P includes genealogies, ritual directions, and various lists (Notes for Pentateuch, p 2-3).

Dating of the Exodus 1440 or 1290

Use of Treaty Language in Deuteronomy Suzerain-vassal treaty: Overlord or emperor rules over other nations, with client kings as vassals, or servants. Structure is: Preamble (1:1-4; historical prologue 1:5-4:49; stipulations, 5-26; sanctions, 27-30; dynastic disposition, 31-34). Covenant of grant treaty: rewards a faithful servant; territory and vassals; continuity of rule to his sons; protection; vassal obligation treaty: king has acquired a people by warfare; treaty protects the king from the possible disloyalty of the people.


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