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.


Summary of the Main People in Genesis through Judges

To finish up our study of the Pentateuch, I would like to provide a list of the key people, places, events, dates and background that are found in the Pentateuch and Joshua and Judges. These are the important items that happen in these books. Hopefully, this brief study will provide a small help in knowing where something occurred in the Bible and be provided a very brief summary of that person, event, or date. Obviously, I cannot be comprehensive with every person like Moses or Adam, as (1) that would be a giant book, (2) there are already many great books out there on them, and (3) this is a brief high level overview. This is just scratching the surface on some of these items and you will probably see that there are many details that are not included for sake of time and space.

Really, the purpose of these posts will be to help bring some stories back to mind and provide any help in the form of study. Today, we will focus on the main characters that are seen from Genesis through Judges.

Adam-the first man, formed from the earth’s dust to be a living being to inhabit the earth that God furnished. God placed mankind in the Garden of Eden to cultivate and keep it, commanding him to eat the fruit of the trees freely, but promising death if he should eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge, Gen 1-5

Eve-the first woman, a completer for Adam made by God; one that corresponded to his nature, taken from his own body to become one with him, his wife. Deceived by the serpent and failing to recognize the goodness of God and His commandment, disobeyed the command and ate of the fruit giving it to Adam as well Gen 2-4

Cain-son of Adam & Eve, twin to Abel, brother to Seth. Cain murdered his brother Abel because of religious envy. God forced Cain to acknowledge his act, driving him from the ground, making him a wandered in the earth though protecting him from blood vengeance Gen 4 . The line through which secular culture is advanced (Handbook on the Pentateuch, p 60-61). Tiller of the fields

Abel-son of Adam & Eve, twin to Cain, brother to Seth. Murdered by his brother Cain. Gen 4. Keeper of the flocks

Seth-son of Adam & Eve, brother to Cain & Abel. It is through the line of Seth that God’s plan of redemption will move, Gen 4-5 (Handbook on the Pentateuch, p 61).

Enoch-father of Methuselah, lived 365 years, walked faithfully with God and then was no more because God took him away, Gen 5

Noah-walked with God, escaped the purifying wrath of God to become the new head of mankind, worshipping in the day of salvation in the gift of covenant under God’s blessing though sin was still at work. After inspecting the corruption and violence in the earth, God told Noah of His plan for a life destroying flood and that He would deliver Noah and his family with a remnant of animal life. Noah was directed by God to build an ark to carry them through the flood. Gen 6-9

Shem-son of Noah, populated the earth following the Flood. Sons of Shem included the descendants of Aram and Arphaxad, the father of all the sons of Eber (the line through which the blessing flowed); lived in the eastern hill country, Gen 10-11

Ham-son of Noah, populated the earth following the Flood. Ham broke loyalty with his father Noah when Noah became drunk, and then cursed Ham’s son Canaan. Sons of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan from whom the lands of Arabia, including the Assyrians, Africa, and Canaan were settled, Gen 10-11

Japheth-son of Noah, populated the earth following the Flood. Sons of Japheth were Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras and were the peoples who spread into the maritime territories of the earth, Gen 10-11

Abraham-a man of faith, receives God’s covenant promises and models for his heirs covenant loyalty to God in the face of threats to the fulfillment of the promises; fearful Abraham, seeks to aid God’s promises by fathering a son through Hagar causing division in the family. God grants Abraham a son through his wife Sarah and she delivers Isaac, the line through which God will fulfill his promise of multitudes of offspring, Gen 11-25

Sarah-Abraham’s wife; despite her unbelief in God’s provision of a child, she gives birth to a son, Gen 11-25

Lot-relative of Abraham, Lot fathers nations, as does Abraham, but through the breach of family to nations who themselves will breach family loyalty, Gen 13, 18-19

Hagar-Sarah’s maid, mother of Ishmael, fathered by Abraham, Gen 16

Ishmael-son of Hagar and Abraham; under God’s blessing, becomes a nation with twelve tribes, fulfilling God’s promise that he would live in defiance of all his relatives, Gen 16, 21

Abimelech-Philistine king whom God controls his actions in order to protect Abraham, Gen 20 Abraham lied to him that sarah was his sister and not his wife. Abimelech spoke to God and God spared him. Abimelech gave Abraham all sorts of servants and gifts. He was healed and his wife was able to have children as Abraham prayed for him. Covenant with Abraham over a well that Abraham dug and gave 7 lambs for

Isaac-son of Abraham and Sarah; the line through which God will fulfill His promise of multitudes of offspring. In contrast to Abraham, Isaac fails to lead his sons to respect God’s gift of the blessing. God provides Isaac with twin offspring and Isaac chooses to Jacob, the younger to receive the blessing. The Lord calls Isaac to the land of Canaan, renewing the Abrahamic promises to bless him and make him a blessing to all the earth because of Abraham’s obedience, though Isaac endangered the family by following the bad example of Abraham (lying about her being his sister) at Gerar, Gen 25- God fulfills His plan of blessing Isaac even through the unbelief and disobedience of the family.

Rebekah-wife of Isaac; Rebekah schemes with Jacob to get the blessing for Jacob against Isaac and Esau. Was also barren but Isaac prayed and she gave birth, she was 60 years old when she gave birth.

Jacob-son of Isaac and Rebekah, younger brother of Esau, husband of Rachel and Leah. Jacob exhibits unbelieving faith in the covenant promises, and seeks to grasp God’s promise by buying the birthright from Esau who despised his birthright. Jacob’s sin fulfills the plan of God to bless Jacob, but requires the discipline of flight to protect himself from his wronged brother, but also to find a proper wife.

Esau-son of Isaac and Rebekah, older brother of Jacob. Esau despised and sold his birthright to his younger brother Jacob. Also called Edom because of the red stew.

Laban-uncle of Jacob, father of Rachel and Leah. Laban allowed Jacob to live with him in Paddan Aram, for Jacob’s compensation for working for him, Laban offered his daughter Rachel in marriage. Laban deceived Jacob and gave him Leah as wife first because she was the older daughter. Jacob loved Rachel however and worked for Laban another 7 years so that he might make Rachel his wife. After Jacob’s family increases, Laban’s attitude toward Jacob changes—Jacob’s household and flocks increase, he requests leave, flees from Laban, who then pursues him.

Rachel-wife of Jacob; mother of Joseph and Benjamin. Barren; stole Labans idols.

Leah-wife of Jacob; mother of Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, and Dinah

Reuben-firstborn of Jacob and Leah; disqualified himself from leadership of the family by committing incest and slept with Jacob’s concubine Bilhah Gen 35

Simeon-second son of Jacob and Leah; sought revenge for Dinah’s rape by killing every male in the city in which they lived

Levi-third son of Jacob and Leah; sought revenge for Dinah’s rape by killing every male in the city in which they lived

Judah-fourth son of Jacob and Leah

Joseph-first son of Jacob and Rachel; Jacob’s favorite son and choice to manage the family. Joseph experiences two dreams that indicate that he will lead their family, inciting jealousy in his 11 brothers. They sell him into slavery, telling Jacob that he is dead. Joseph thrives in Egypt, works in the household of Potiphar, but is then put into prison after claims that he seduced Potiphar’s wife. Joseph through the power of the Lord tells the meanings behind dreams of fellow prisoners, and after two years is connected to Pharaoh to interpret his dreams. Pharaoh puts Joseph in charge of Egypt. During famine, Joseph has the opportunity to reconcile with his brothers and father who visit Egypt to purchase grain for their family, Gen 37-50.

Benjamin-second son of Jacob and Rachel; God completes His promise to Jacob by giving him twelve sons, ending with Benjamin’s birth and the death of Rachel, Gen 35.

Dinah-daughter of Jacob and Leah; experienced rape at the hand of Shechem a Hivite, who then requested that Dinah become his wife. Shechem and his father Hamor spoke to Jacob and his sons about this request and agreed that Dinah might be given to Shechem in marriage if the men of the region become circumcised. The men agreed, and were circumcised, three days after, Simeon and Levi sought revenge for the rape of their sister and killed all the males in the region Gen 34

Tamar-daughter-in-law of Judah; Tamar was married to Judah’s son Er, who was wicked in the sight of the Lord and was killed. Tamar became pregnant through her father-in-law when he refused to give his other son Shelah to her as husband, Gen 38.

Potiphar-when Joseph was sold into slavery, Potiphar purchased Joseph from the Ishmaelites. Joseph was blessed by the Lord and Potiphar saw this, and elevated him to second in command of his household, Gen 39.

The Cupbearer-offended Pharaoh and was put into the same prison as Joseph; Joseph was assigned to attend to the cupbearer. The Cupbearer experienced a dream in which a vine grew in front of him, and it grew three branches. On the vine, the branches grew into clusters of grapes which he squeezed into the cup of Pharaoh. Joseph interpreted his dream through the power of the Lord to mean that in three days, the Cupbearer would be restored to his prior position. Once Joseph interpreted the dream, he asked that the Cupbearer remember him to Pharaoh so that he might be released from prison. Just as Joseph had interpreted the dream, so it came to be; however the Cupbearer did not remember him to Pharaoh, Gen 40.

The Baker-offended Pharaoh and was put into the same prison as Joseph; Joseph was assigned to attend to the baker. The Baker experienced a dream in which three baskets of bread were on his head, and on the top basket, all types of baked goods were there for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating the bread out of the basket. Joseph interpreted his dream through the power of the Lord to mean that in three days, the Baker would be killed by Pharaoh. Just as Joseph had interpreted the dream, so it came to be, Gen 40.

Manasseh-firstborn son of Joseph, Gen 48

Ephraim-second son of Joseph; received blessing from Jacob (Israel) even though he was the younger son, Gen 48.

Moses-a Levite through whom which God uses to deliver Israel. God uses many mighty signs and wonders, showing that He is God, causing Moses to trust in Him.

Miriam-sister of Moses, she hid among the reeds to watch what would happen to the papyrus basket that Moses was placed in as an infant. Miriam watched as the basket floated to Pharaoh’s daughter and offered to provide her with a wet nurse (her mother), Ex 2.

Pharaoh’s daughter-bathing in the Nile, found the papyrus basket in which the infant Moses was floating. Pharaoh’s daughter took Moses and he became her son, Ex 2.

Jethro-Moses’ father-in-law, a Midianite priest, Zipporah is daughter

Aaron-brother of Moses, mouthpiece of Moses through which Israel is delivered.

Joshua-Moses successor as leader of Israel, Josh 1-18

Bezalel-chief craftsman and overseer (along with Oholiab) of the construction/building of the Tabernacle, Ex 31, 33

Nadab-son of Aaron, attempted to worship Yahweh by his own device (along with Abihu) by offering unauthorized fire before the Lord contrary to His command and was destroyed by God with holy fire from the sanctuary, Lev 10

Abihu-son of Aaron, attempted to worship Yahweh by his own device (along with Nadab) by offering unauthorized fire before the Lord contrary to His command and was destroyed by God with holy fire from the sanctuary, Lev 10

Caleb-one of the twelve spies sent into Canaan, from the tribe of Judah. Upon the spies’ return from their exploration, contrary to the other 11 spies, Caleb encouraged Israel to invade that they might overcome the land (the other spies brought back fruit telling that the land was good, but were intimidated by the inhabitants and well fortified cities), Num 13. Caleb, for his faith in Yahweh’s provision, was spared during a plague and was allowed to enter Canaan, Deut 1

Korah-along with Dathan and Abiram led Israel to rebel against Moses and Aaron, but Yahweh vindicated their leadership by great judgments against them and all Israel. Moses warned them that Yahweh would show the next day who should lead Israel, who was holy, by choosing the censer of the man He honored. Moses rebuked Korah for presumption beyond the good gifts of God to Levi, seeking the priesthood also. Moses interceded with Yahweh against them, commanding them to be present the next day bringing a fire pan and censer, which they did along with 250 other community leaders. Yahweh commanded Moses, Aaron, and Israel to separate themselves as a result of Moses’ intercession. The power of the Lord was shown then who should leave Israel when the earth was opened and swallowed alive Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, along with the 250 men and their households validating Moses’ leadership, Num 16

Balak-king of Moab, fearing Israel, sent for Balaam, God’s prophet to curse Israel. Balaam sternly warned by Yahweh, reminded Balak that he could speak only what Yahweh had said, Num 22-24

Balaam-a prophet, hired by Balak to curse Israel; Balaam prophetically proclaimed Yahweh’s blessing on Israel. The Balaam narrative shows that God had begun to fulfill His promise to Abraham and that his seed had become a “great nation”. It showed that God was about to fulfill His promise to give Abraham’s seed the land. The narrative also shows that the curses of the nations could not thwart God’s promise to bless the nation of Israel, Num 22-24

Rahab-prostitute of Jericho who hid spies sent from Israel and lied to the king, urging him to send after them to the Jordan, leaving him to think they had fled. Rahab hid the spies under the flax on the room. Knowledge of God and all that He had done for Israel had come to Rahab, her response showed her faithfulness to God and she requested that God honor her and her family when Israel came to take Jericho. The spies gave an oath and escaped via a cord through a window; it was through the sign of the cord that Israel would know to not destroy Rahab’s house, Josh 2

Achan-upon the defeat of Jericho, Israel was instructed by the Lord to keep away from all “devoted things” and that the silver, gold, bronze, and iron from the city were to be put into the Lord’s treasury. Achan brought about Yahweh’s wrath against the people when he stole some of the things from Jericho, Josh 7

Eleazar-son of Aaron, priest during the time of Joshua’s leadership of Israel, Josh 14

Deborah-prophetess, judged Israel in Ephraim to settle disputes of the Israelites; worked alongside Barak, Jud 4

Barak-Recipient of the Lord’s command through Deborah to take 10,000 men of Naphtali and Zebulun to Mt. Tabor to defeat Sisera’s army at Kishon. Barak displayed cowardice and refused to carry out the Lord’s command unless Deborah would go with him. Deborah agreed to go, however Barak lost honor because Yahweh would kill Sisera by the hands of a woman (Jael), Jud 4

Gideon-because of Israel’s rebellion, they were given in to the hands of the Midianites. Yahweh commission Gideon to deliver Israel, by returning to Yahweh worship in Ophrah. Upon being commissioned by God, Gideon requests that a sign be performed to confirm that he was hearing from God. Gideon prepared unleavened bread and boiled goat that were miraculously consumed in fire on a rock. Gideon built an altar to the Lord at that place and named it Ophrah, Jud 6 (Judges Notes, p 17). Israel battles against Midian and Gideon displays wavering faith in God’s deliverance by asking for additional signs (a dewy fleece on dry ground and the next day a dry fleece on dewy ground). God uses a dream to reveal to Gideon that He will deliver Israel, Jud 6-7

Jephthah-was given the direct promise of Yahweh that victory will come over the Ammonites, but he will try to secure the victory by a foolish and unnecessary oath. The judgeship of Jephthat is characterized by ignorance and negligence of divine things and his manipulation of Yahweh, Jud 10-11

Samson-The judgeship of Samson is driven by his appetites, negligent of his Nazirite vow, selfish and uncaring about the face of his people, Jud 12-16.

Delilah-the person responsible for the downfall of Samson’s strength. Delilah seduced Samson to tell her the secret sources of his strength for a bag of silver from the Philistines, Jud 16

Research Process

I recently thought about how much research it takes to write a 7-10 page paper. There are some topics that you can find so much information on that it is really difficult to condense that down into a short and concise paper. This is especially true when you may have a broad topic and 30 pages worth of research material that you have to go through. Then, having to take all of that information and make it into something that is short, concise, and readable all the while showing the audience the author has some level of understanding about the subject. 

One difficulty is taking the research, learning about the subject (there are many things that a general knowledge may be known, but not an in-depth knowledge to where you feel you are a expert or even novice on the subject), putting it all together and finally trying to even put your original thoughts into it. After writing a number of papers this past year and a half, I have found such a greater respect for all writers but especially those that pour out articles and documents every month. I can’t even imagine how many hours of research they invested. For a small paper like the Jubilee paper, I think I invested around 10-15 hours because not only is it about finding articles that touch on the subject, but then it is reading and re-reading. Some times it is trying to condense their thoughts into something smaller all the while still doing justice to the author’s intent.

Even after writing on a subject, you may think you have an intermediate amount of knowledge until one day you read something, watch something or hear something and that author or subject blows you out of the water spouting off things about that subject you never knew. Or you may have already forgotten even though you researched it only a week ago! This is one of the most amazing things about God and Christianity. He is infinite that no matter how much knowledge we ever gain in this world studying Him, or how much He blesses us with about Him; we can never fully and completely understand or know Him. It is mind-boggling and awe-inspiring to belong to a God (the only God) that loves us so much, has a plan for us, wants us to know Him and have a relationship with Him, yet is still a mystery. It is humbling. We could spend our whole lives on one characteristic or attribute of the Father and still never truly or fully grasp that concept.

Over the next few days, I would like to share with you some of the research I found on the year of Jubilee (just a couple of more post then, Jubilee will be over!). My hopes for this are to bring a little more enlightenement to what this special year meant. It has been a fascinating study for me and I hope these post help with either your own research or with a closeness to the Great Mystery, Our Heavenly Father.

  • Introduction
    • The basic principle of Sabbath years is found in verses 3–4: every seventh year, the people of Israel were to refrain from cultivating the land as a “Sabbath to YHWH” (v. 2). Following this explanation, the rest of the chapter presents a general principle for the practice of the Jubilee year, followed by a series of specific instructions.
      • Every fiftieth year, on the Day of Atonement (see note below), Israel was to sound the trumpet and declare a year of Jubilee. The Jubilee command, at its simplest, is found in verse 10. Israel must consecrate the fiftieth year in order to “proclaim liberty throughout the land.”
        • The “year” of Jubilee actually begins in the seventh month of the year. Therefore, it seems likely that the year began in the seventh month of either the 49th or 50th year and extended until the seventh month of the 50th or 51st year. Allen P. Ross summarizes three major options for the chronology of the Jubilee: (1) the Jubilee took place at the end of the seventh Sabbath year, so that the land was not worked for two consecutive years; (2) the Jubilee and the seventh Sabbath year were simultaneous, and “fifty” is a general way of speaking about the 49th year; (3) the Jubilee began in the first month in the civic calendar but the seventh in the cultic, so that whether one considered it the 49th or 50th year depended on which calendar was being used (Holiness to the Lord: A Guide to the Exposition of the Book of Leviticus [Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002] 459)
      • Description of the year:
        • The singular institution of the Jubilee year had more than one purpose. As a social and economical arrangement it tended to prevent the extremes of wealth and poverty. Every fiftieth year the land was to revert to its original owners, the lineal descendants of those who had ‘come in with the conqueror,’ Joshua. Debts were to be remitted, slaves emancipated, and so the mountains of wealth and the valleys of poverty were to be somewhat leveled, and the nation carried back to its original framework of a simple agricultural community of small owners[1]
        • This was the most illustrious Sabbath, since the state of the people, both as to their persons and their houses and property, was renewed; and although in this way God had regard to the public good, gave relief to the poor, so that their liberty should not be destroyed, and preserved also the order laid down by Himself; still there is no question but that He thus added an additional stimulus to incite the Jews to honour the Sabbath. For it was a kind of imposing memorial of the sacred rest, to see slaves emancipated and become suddenly free; houses and lands returning to their former possessors who had sold them; and in fine all things assuming a new face. They called this year Jobel, from the sound of the ram’s horn, whereby liberty and the restitution of property were proclaimed; …its main feature was the solemnity which shewed them to be separated from other nations to be a peculiar and holy nation to God; nay, the renewal of all things had reference to this, that being redeemed anew in the great Sabbath, they might entirely devote themselves to God their Deliverer. [2]
        • a joyful shout or clangour of trumpets, the name of the great semi-centennial festival of the Hebrews. It lasted for a year. During this year the land was to be fallow, and the Israelites were only permitted to gather the spontaneous produce of the fields (Lev. 25:11, 12). All landed property during that year reverted to its original owner (13–34; 27:16–24), and all who were slaves were set free (25:39–54), and all debts were remitted. [3]
        • the fiftieth year occurring at the end of seven sabbatical cycles of seven years each, in which all land was returned to its ancestral owners and all Israelite slaves were freed. The jubilee is described in Lev. 25:8–17, 23–55; 27:16–25; and Num. 36:4. It was proclaimed with the blowing of the shofar (a trumpet made from a ram’s horn) on the Day of Atonement. The land was also left fallow in the jubilee year. The jubilee was observed in the seventh sabbatical in Second Temple times, so that there was a forty-nine-year cycle.[4]
        • Freedom or liberty is a central notion in the Jubilee year, and God’s liberation of Israel from slavery in Egypt is the critical theological background (Lev 25:38, 42, 55).[5]
        • The counting for the year was “seven sabbaths of years.” Most probably the year after the seventh sabbatical year was the Jubilee year, though some scholars have argued that the Jubilee year coincided with the seventh sabbatical year counting the years inclusively (e.g., Chirichigno). However, the provisions for the Jubilee year do not totally coincide with those of the sabbatical year. Certainly Josephus, Philo and rabbinical scholars were unanimous in regarding the Jubilee as the fiftieth year. Also, Leviticus 25:21 seems to say that one year’s harvest would suffice for three years, implying that the Jubilee year was successive to a sabbatical year.[6]
          • Others suggest that the Jubilee may have been a short year, perhaps of forty-nine days, functioning not unlike modern leap days.
        • The 50th year after seven cycles of seven years (Lev. 25:10) in which Israel’s land and people gained freedom. It was begun with a blast from a ram’s horn on the Day of Atonement[7]
        • this was also called the year of liberty (Ezek. 46:17).[8]
        • “The Jubilee legislation found in Leviticus 25 presents a vision of social and economic reform unsurpassed in the ancient Near East.”[9]
        • The word “jubilee” probably comes from the Hebrew yabal, meaning “to bring [forth],” as in the bringing forth of produce. The year of jubilee did for the land what the Day of Atonement did for the people. This year removed the disturbance or confusion of God’s will for the land that resulted from the activity of sinners eventually. During this year God brought the land back into the condition that He intended for it. The fact that the priests announced the year of jubilee on the Day of Atonement (v. 9) confirms this correspondence. [10]

[1] Alexander Maclaren, “Leviticus 25,” Expositions of Holy Scripture, Internet, available from, accessed 22 November 2014.

[2] Calvin, J., & Bingham, C. W. (2010). Commentaries on the Four Last Books of Moses Arranged in the Form of a Harmony (Vol. 2, p. 451). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[3] Easton, M. G. (1893). “Jubilee,” In Easton’s Bible dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers.

[4] Schiffman, L. H. (2011). jubilee. In (M. A. Powell, Ed.)The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary (Revised and Updated). New York: HarperCollins.

[5] Barker, P. A. (2003). Sabbath, Sabbatical Year, Jubilee. In Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. 702

[6] Barker, P. A. (2003). Sabbath, Sabbatical Year, Jubilee. In Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. 702

[7] Brand, C., Draper, C., England, A., Bond, S., Clendenen, E. R., & Butler, T. C. (Eds.). (2003). Year of Jubilee. In Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers. 1694

[8] Brand, C., Draper, C., England, A., Bond, S., Clendenen, E. R., & Butler, T. C. (Eds.). (2003). Festivals. In Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

[9] Robert Gnuse, “Jubilee Legislation in Leviticus: Israel’s Vision of Social Reform,” Biblical Theology Bulletin 15:2 (April 1985):43.

[10] Thomas Constable, “Notes on Leviticus,” Internet, available from, accessed 22 November 2014.

Jubilee: The ultimate Sabbath Year

The Ultimate Sabbath Year

The underlying principle of the Sabbath year is that every seventh year, the people of Israel were to refrain from cultivating the land as the land itself “must observe a Sabbath to the Lord” (Lev 25:2). For six years the land can be sowed and the crops can be gathered, but in the seventh year, the land is to have a year of rest. The sowing of the fields is prohibited and the Israelites are not to reap what grows. But if the land produces something it may be eaten and will be food for that family. Sailhamer comments,

In its overall plan, the Sabbath year was to be a replication of God’s provisions for humankind in the Garden of Eden…. So also in the Sabbath year, each person was to share equally in all the good of God’s provision (Lev 25:6). In the Garden, God provided for the man and woman an eternal rest… and time of worship, the Sabbath. The Sabbath year was a foretaste of that time of rest and worship.[1]

The Year of Jubilee was the most illustrious Sabbath year for both the people of Israel and the land since they were both renewed. God gave relief to the poor by providing liberty while preserving the order He laid down and inciting the Jews to honor the Sabbath.[2] “No sowing or reaping was to take place, as during the sabbatical years (v. 11). God promised to provide for His people as they rested in response to His gracious promise (vv. 18-23).”[3] Through the laws on the Sabbath year and Year of Jubilee, God taught the Israelites He was sovereign over their space as well as their time and their lives. The Israelites were to follow His specified laws because the land they were to posses belonged to God, just as they did.[4]

[1] John H. Sailhamer, The Pentateuch as Narrative, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), 361.

[2] John Calvin and C.W. Bingham, Commentaries on the Four Last Books of Moses…, 451.

[3] Thomas Constable, “Notes on Leviticus.”

[4] Ibid, 112.

A Visual Synthetic Chart of Leviticus

In the past few posts, we have discussed the key themes to Leviticus and I showed how I would breakdown the book by sections. For this post, I want to provide you a visual tool of what my synthetic chart of Leviticus looks like. This will hopefully provide greater clarity on the two previous posts. Note, will many charts and outlines there are some small and minor variances, so others may see something different than I do.

First, at the top of the chart is the theme. This is a very short and concise statement on the book, almost think of it as a headline. Second, the Message Statement. This can come from the thematic outline that we did not too long ago. Basically, this expands the headline into a complete sentence about the books main message. To go with the message statement, we include the key verse for the book that supports our theme and message statement. For this example, since our theme was holiness, I used Leviticus 20:26 which says, “You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.”

Next, we try to break down the book into sections. These are the parts of the book that seem to go together, are continuous and do not touch on a different topic. For this book, we have seven different sections. As part of the sections, we want to do another message statement. This time we don’t have to include a key verse, but we do want to provide a good summary sentence that captures the main idea for that particular section.

Next, are the subsections which are the various different parts that make up the whole of that section. Many times this will be the paragraph headings in your Bible. With this, you will be able to focus on one certain topic and see how the other parts of that section all ties together. The next part of the synthetic chart is the verses that make up that subsection. Within that paragraph or subsection, the writer will pull together the ideas that make up that subsection. Think back to diagramming a sentence in your grade school days, this is essentially diagramming a subsection. For example, if we look at the first subsection under section 1 (Laws concerning offerings and sacrifices), which is titled “laws of burnt Offerings”, we see there are two parts to this. There is Moses being called by God, and God describing the burnt offering. Yet because they are cohesive, they are part of that subsection. This is one of the hardest things for me to do because I don’t always see a very clear distinction, or I think something should be a subsection on its own. This takes a lot of practice but will be very beneficial in seeing how the book ties together. Part of this, is also providing paragraph titles in your own words for that section of verses. This will help to see what those verses talk about and provide a short headline that describes that section.

Finally, the last phase of the synthetic chart is the various themes that are seen throughout the book. Not every chapter and verse will have the same theme and not every theme will be in all the chapters and verses.  This tool provides a way to see the various themes throughout the book, where they appear and the frequency at which they appear. To do this, simply identify a theme for a particular passage, and note it under the paragraph titles and verses that are above. For example, Holiness seems to be predominant in chapter 2, verses 1 to 3 and verse 10. So we note it under the two verse sections that make up chapter 2. But, the Atonement them goes from chapter 4 to chapter 6 verse 7, so we have a long section that is noted under all of those verse sections. Part of doing the subsections, verses and paragraph titles is to help one see the themes that keep surfacing.

This is a very tedious and laborious process, but it is one that is so beneficial. It can really take your Bible study and community group teaching/Sunday school teaching to another level. This is a really great practice for getting more out of your Bible reading and helps to provide understanding to what you just read. Here is what the chart will look like:

synthetic chart of leviticus


Dividing the Book of Leviticus

In this post, we will continue to look at the different divisions within the book of Leviticus. This will describe my viewpoints as to why book can be divided into the various sections. This will make more sense when I post the full synthetic chart in the next post. This post is to provide reasoning and research as to why I have divided the book as such and what other commentators or authors have said.

The reasoning for dividing the third section entitled, “Laws of Purity”, between chapters eleven and fifteen are because this section mainly focuses on what God describes as clean and unclean. This is God’s call for the Israelites to be pure before Him with God detailing the cleanliness of creatures, purification after childbirth and skin infections.

The fourth section details the “Day of Atonement”, following the NAC and NBD, I choose to not include the Day of Atonement in the “Law of Purity” section because it seems to require its own section based on the information.[1] While it does talk about purity and cleanliness from sin in the atonement sacrifices, the chapter that is rich with information differs just enough from the previous section that it did not fit. At the same time, I did not feel it belonged in the next section because that focuses on holiness and the Holiness Code that it appeared to have a more singular focus on just the Day of Atonement.

The Laws of Holiness,” which is the fifth section, covers the chapters from the Holiness Code (17) to the Sabbath year and Year of Jubilee (25). The main sources I relied on for this section break was the NAC and the Holman Concise Bible Commentary which did not include chapter 26 in this section.[2] This division occurs mainly because the theme of this section is for the people of Israel to be holy just as God is holy.

The sixth section, “Blessing and Curse,” focuses mainly on obedience and the consequences of Israel’s actions. Commentaries seem to be split on whether this section stands alone or is part of the previous section. I choose to separate it as its own division since its main focus is obedience and the blessings or curses the people will receive for their disobedience. That is not to say that obedience is not part of holy living, but to include it in the previous section does not appear to do this chapter justice.

Similarly to the previous section, the final section, “The Law of vows and Tithes,” does not fit with the previous chapter. This section mainly focuses on the vows and tithes that the people do in regards a variety of different objects. This section introduces regulations that were not previously mentioned or suggested in Leviticus. “It is a simple fact that the laws in Lev. 27 are fundamentally different from the subject matter in the chapters that precede it, for these laws cover voluntary things.”[3] Since this section is so different from the previous and the rest of the book, I kept it separate.

The book of Leviticus can be divided up into different ways with some differing over the divisions of chapters 16 and 26, but overall Leviticus speaks to the reader to follow the Lord and be holy. While some may agree or disagree with these divisions, from my research, it appears to me that this is a logical way of outlining the book of Leviticus.

[1] Rooker,  Leviticus 79. Gispen, “Leviticus, Book of” 683.

[2] Merrill, The Pentateuch 37.

[3] Allen P. Ross, Holiness to the Lord: A Guide to the Exposition of the Book of Leviticus (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002) 487.


Gispen, W. H. “Leviticus, Book Of.” Edited by D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, and D. J. Wiseman. New Bible Dictionary. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996.

Hamilton, Victor P. Handbook on the Pentateuch: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1982.

Ross, Allen P. Holiness to the Lord: A Guide to the Exposition of the Book of Leviticus. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2002.

Merrill, Eugene H. “The Pentateuch.” In Holman Concise Bible Commentary, edited by David S. Dockery. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998.

Rooker, Mark F. Leviticus. Vol. 3A. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000.

Walvoord, John F., and Roy B. Zuck, Dallas Theological Seminary. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985.

Leviticus: A deeper look

In the next few posts, we will take a deeper look into the book of Leviticus. This exercise will take the outline that was discussed in a previous post and develop a further breakdown of the book. The synthetic chart is used to divide the book into sections that seem to be similar. This grouping will be helpful in the overall study of the book as well as seeing what the author’s focus is.

There is probably not that much attention paid to Leviticus but as one dives deeper into the study of this book, the beauty and majesty of God can be seen. Leviticus displays God’s holiness and His desire for His children to be holy. He will take measures to protect His holiness from the unholy Israelites.


Leviticus expresses God’s holiness and His requirements for Israel’s holiness; it provides guidelines for the means by which God provides atonement for sin through sacrifice. Leviticus, which refers to the “book of priests” or “that which concerns the priests,” provides instructions for Aaron and the priests to keep the people of Israel holy just as God is holy.[1] The overall burden of the Book of Leviticus was to communicate the awesome holiness of Israel’s God and to outline the means by which the people could have access to Him.[2] Leviticus is a literary expression of God’s desire that His holiness be reflected in the life of His covenant people Israel.[3]

The main themes that I noticed throughout the book of Leviticus were holiness, atonement and sacrifice. First, the holiness of God and His call for the Israelites to be holy because God is holy. Next, the offering of sacrifice was the foundational act the Israelites utilized to worship God through obedience to the sacrificial guidelines God provided. Finally, the reconciliation between God and His people by the shedding of sacrificial blood as a substitute so that the Israelites may be declared clean, pure and redeemed.

Major Divisions in Leviticus

The major divisions of Leviticus can be broken down into seven major sections. Some commentaries and authors divide into five or six sections, but in an effort to maintain the integrity of chapter sixteen (The Day of Atonement) and chapter 26, I have decided to let them stand alone instead of grouping them with other chapters. Although, the New Bible Dictionary also suggests dividing the book of Leviticus in this manner.[4]

The first major section focuses on chapters one through seven and is titled, the “Laws Concerning Offerings and Sacrifices.” The reason for this division is because this section mainly focuses on the sacrificial offerings which include the Burnt, Grain, Peace, Sin and Guilt. The rest of this section, Leviticus 6:8-7:38, mainly involve the instructions for Aaron in making the sacrifices. Some have suggested that Leviticus 6:8-7:38 should be included in the next section on priestly ordination, but I agree with Victor Hamilton who states, “Leviticus 6:8-7:38 is not only a supplement to the information given in 1:1-6:7, but also specific instructions to the priests concerning their obligations in the sacrificial ceremonies.”[5]

The second major section, “Ordination of the Priest,” involves chapters eight through ten. The main idea of this section is the ordination of the priesthood and sacrificial system and the consequences for failing to follow God’s holy guidelines. There are three main subsections involved in this, of particular note is the death of Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu, who did not follows the requirements that God had laid forth. This section was specifically for Aaron and his sons and did not fit in the sections before or after.

[1] M.F. Rooker, Leviticus, vol. 3A (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000) 23.

[2] Eugene H. Merrill, “The Pentateuch” in D. S. Dockery (Ed.), Holman Concise Bible Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998) 37.

[3]F. D. Lindsey, (1985). Leviticus. in J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985) 172.

[4] See W. H. Gispen, “Leviticus, Book Of,” Edited by D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, and D. J. Wiseman. New Bible Dictionary (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996) 683.

[5] Victor P. Hamilton, Handbook of the Pentateuch: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy (Grand Rapids:Baker, 2005)  251.