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smoking mountain of Exodus, ch. 20, where the giving
of the Law is described. Such passages are Psalm 18:
7-15, and Habakkuk 3. Jehovah speaks in the storm,
Job 38:1, and Psalm 29, a poem of nature is the de-
scription of a thunder-storm which is called " the voice
of Jehovah."

The symbolic vestments of the priests and the ser-


vices of the Tabernacle and the Temple are likewise
sources of figurative expression. Jehovah "clothed
with majesty," "clothed with strength/' "girded with
strength" all suggest the dress of the priests as de-
scribed in Exodus, ch. 29. A striking passage in which
garments and armor are used figuratively is this from
Isaiah: —

" And he put on righteousness as a breastplate,
And a helmet of salvation upon his head;
And he put on garments of vengeance for clothing;
And was clad with zeal as a mantle." Isaiah 59:17.

Later Paul used figuratively the armor of the Roman
soldier: —

"Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth,
and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and
having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of
peace; . . . taking up the shield of faith . . . the helmet of
salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of
God." Ephesians 6:14-17.

The apocalyptic books abound in imagery, much of
which was not so much metaphor or analogy as pure
symbolism, such as the conception of the new Jerusalem,
in Revelation, a city "foursquare," "the length, and
the breadth and the height thereof" being "equal."
The Oriental manner of expressing ideas picturesquely
and concretely, instead of abstractly, leads to the
notable, use of imagery in the Bible.



A large part of the Bible, both the Old and New
Testaments is historical. We have, from Genesis to
Esther, inclusive, seventeen books as we count them
to-day, all of which contain accounts of "what hap-
pened," and the words and actions of the persons to
whom, or through whom, it happened. We have his-
tory recorded also in some of the prophets, notably in
Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Amos, Jonah, Haggai, that
is to say, accounts of men and what they did. In the
Old Testament, we have two sets of historical books,
one of which, the older, comprises Genesis to II Kings,
inclusive, except Ruth, which is in Hebrew found in
the miscellaneous collection of the Writings; the
other, a later series, consists of I and II Chronicles,
Ezra, and Nehemiah. All of these books as we have
them probably contain material from still earlier works.
Much of the Old Testament history is evidently de-
rived from more ancient stories about important char-
acters, who are thus made to live again for us. 1

In the New Testament we have history in the Gos-
pels and Acts, but history of a different kind, the his-
tory, not of a people, but of an individual and of the
promulgation of his teachings by his followers. The
historian of to-day is concerned more with movements
and ideas than with men. He usually treats of the

1 For an account of the relation of the existing books to the earlier stories
see S. R. Driver, Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament.



latter only as they were concerned in the political or
social movements of their times. With the compilers
or authors of the histories contained in the Bible, we
find that an ethical or religious purpose lay behind
what was recorded, and their conscious endeavor was
to give such accounts of the happenings of the past as
would show, by actual instances, God's manner of
dealing with individuals and peoples. More than one
half of the historical books, I Samuel to Nehemiah,
inclusive, is devoted to the stories of Samuel, Saul,
David, and Solomon. The period from Joshua to Sam-
uel, about four centuries, is represented by the short
book of Judges which consists chiefly of stories of
heroes. According as men and nations obeyed, or dis-
obeyed, the commandments of God, and walked in, or
departed from, his ways, so is the record of their pros-
perity and happiness, or adversity and misery, found
preserved for the instruction and guidance of future
generations. The line of David from which was to
come the Messiah was especially kept in mind by the
Bible historians, and history is presented almost en-
tirely through biographies. Back of all the history is
Jehovah, and such books as have come to us record, in
every instance, except possibly Esther, the belief that
it was he that controlled the lives of men and nations.
How clearly the religious and moral teaching of history
is set forth may be seen in the following passages, each
taken from the close of a book, and in most cases from
the last chapter. They include every Old Testament
history, except the Pentateuch and Esther, the latter be-
ing noteworthy for making no mention of Jehovah: —

"And Israel served Jehovah all the days of Joshua, and
all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, and had known


all the work of Jehovah, that he had wrought for Israel."
Joshua 24:31.

"And Jehovah smote Benjamin before Israel; and the
children of Israel destroyed of Benjamin that day twenty
and five thousand and a hundred men: all these drew the

"In those days there was no king in Israel; every man
did that which was right in his own eyes." Judges 20:35;

"And when David came to Ziklag, he sent of the spoil unto
the elders of Judah, even to his friends, saying, Behold, a
present for you of the spoil of the enemies of Jehovah."

I Samuel 30:26.

"And David built there an altar unto Jehovah, and offered
burnt offerings and peace offerings. So Jehovah was en-
treated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel."

II Samuel 24:25.

"And he [Ahaziah] served Baal, and worshipped him, and
provoked to anger Jehovah, the God of Israel, according to
all that his father [Ahab] had done." I Kings 22:53.

"And he [Zedekiah] did that which was evil in the sight of
Jehovah, according to all that Jehoiakim had done. For
through the anger of Jehovah did it come to pass in Jerusalem
and Judah, until he had cast them out from his presence."
II Kings 24:19-20.

"Then Solomon sat on the throne of Jehovah as king in-
stead of David his father, and prospered; and all Israel
obeyed him. . . . And Jehovah magnified Solomon ex-
ceedingly in the sight of all Israel, and bestowed upon him
such royal majesty as had not been on any king before him
in Israel." I Chronicles 29:23, 25.

"Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the
word of Jehovah by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accom-
plished, Jehovah stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia,
so that he made a proclamation. . . . Whosoever there is
among you of all his people, Jehovah his God be with him,
and let him go up." II Chronicles 36:22, 23.


"O Jehovah, the God of Israel, thou art righteous; for we
are left a remnant that is escaped as it is this day: behold
we are before thee in our guiltiness; for none can stand be-
fore thee because of this." Ezra 9:15.

"Remember them, O my God, because they have defiled
the priesthood, and the covenant of the priesthood, and of
the Levites." " Remember me, my God, for good."
Nehemiah 13:29, 31.

Calamities, such as the loss of the Ark to the Philis-
tines, I Samuel ch. 4, and the destruction of Jerusalem
by the Chaldeans, II Chronicles ch. 36, are attributed
to the loss of the favor of Jehovah, in one case,
because of the sin on the part of Eli and his sons, who
made "Jehovah's people to transgress," and, in the
other, because of the sins of Zedekiah and "all the
chiefs of the priests and the people" who "trespassed
very greatly after the abominations of the nations."
"Therefore he [Jehovah] brought upon them the king
of the Chaldeans." The fall of Samaria, and the cap-
tivity of Israel are attributed to the wickedness of
Hoshe'a, king of Israel. II Kings 17:2-3. Triumphs
like those of Gideon, Judges 7, over the Midianites,
David over Goliath, I Samuel 17, or Asa over the Ethio-
pians II Chronicles 14, are attributed directly to the
favor of Jehovah. The oft-repeated statements con-
cerning kings that they "did that which was right
in the eyes of Jehovah," or that they "did that which
was evil in the sight of Jehovah," or that the people
did "that which was right," or "that which was evil,"
indicate clearly the thoughts in the minds of the an-
cient Hebrew historiographers.

The kings, who preserved or restored the religious
ceremonials of the Israelites as prescribed in the law
of Moses, are mentioned at some length, as are also


those who were notably unfaithful to the worship of
Jehovah, and who succumbed to the idolatry, which
flourished among surrounding peoples. The histor-
ian wrote his accounts with this idea constantly
in his mind, that the favor of Jehovah depended
upon obedience to his commands as set forth in the

Just what the general contents and purposes of the
different books and groups of books were, we will now
consider briefly. Let us begin by examining the books
of the Old Testatment. To the Jew the most authori-
tative, the fundamental books, were those which con-
stitute what he called the Torah, or the Law, but which
readers of the English Bible commonly call the Pen-
tateuch, a name given by the Greek translators to in-
dicate the fact that the Torah consisted of five books,
or parts. When Joshua, which relates the early his-
tory of Israel in Canaan, is grouped with the first five
books, we have what is called the Hexateuch. This was
not done by the Jews, who invariably regarded the
Book of the Law as a unit, and never changed its
contents by including any other book. This is true
also of the other two collections, the Prophets, and the
Sacred Writings, which complete the Jewish Scriptures,
and, with the Law, compose our Old Testament. No
book of one collection ever appeared in another. The
order of the books in the Law did not vary, nor did the
order of the Former Prophets, Joshua-Kings, in the
second collection, being chronological. The Latter
Prophets, Isaiah-Malachi, were not always in the same
order in Hebrew, Jeremiah sometimes following Kings
immediately. The third collection varied in the order
of the books, as no chronological principle was followed,
though Psalms usually came first.



The Book of the Law, or the Pentateuch, contains
not only a brief summary of the history of the hu-
man race prior to the call of Abraham, and an account
of the beginnings and history of the chosen people
from the call of Abraham to the death of Moses, but
also statements, of the laws and regulations by
which the nation was to be governed and the wor-
ship of Jehovah conducted. The forty years in the wil-
derness were spent not in aimless wandering, but, be-
ginning with two years in the neighborhood of Mount
Sinai, on the top of which, we are told, Jehovah gave
to Moses the Law, and the directions for the construc-
tion of the Ark of the Covenant, the Tabernacle and its
furnishing, also the ceremonials, offerings and sacri-
fices, these years were occupied with the organizing of
a vast multitude of people, governed only in the patri-
archal system of families, each with its head, into a
nation with its proper officials and laws, all government
deriving authority directly from Jehovah, visibly pres-
ent in the light of the Shekinah over the Ark in the
Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle, into which the High
Priest at specified times was permitted to go, Leviticus,
ch. 16. Judges and officers were appointed to "judge
the people with righteous judgment," Deuteronomy,
16:18, but the High Priest was the head of the re-
ligious organization. We are told in Joshua 5 '.4.-6, that
"all the people that came out of Egypt, that were males,
even all the men of war, died in the wilderness by the
way . . . because they hearkened not unto the voice of
Jehovah." In Numbers 32:11, 12, we are told that this
applied only to men " twenty years old and upward, "
save Caleb and Joshua.



Genesis, the book of beginnings, contains in its first
eleven chapters a summary of the history of the world
prior to the time of Abraham. We are told of Creation,
the Fall, the expulsion from Eden, the murder of Abel
and the curse on Cain, the Flood, the bow of promise,
the family of Noah, the Dispersion of the peoples, the
building of cities, the confusion of tongues. Although
many names occur in the historical books, we have only
brief statements concerning most of them. Of others
we are told much. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the
three great patriarchs, have their stories told at length.
The story of Joseph gives us instruction concerning
the wisdom and profitableness of right conduct, and
also prepares the way for the account of the Exodus.
Even the casual turning over of the pages of Genesis
will reveal something of its structure as a book. Gen-
ealogy is a very important part of the duty of the his-
toriographer. We see this for example in the opening
of I Chronicles and also in the opening of Matthew and
in Luke, ch. 3. It appears in the following outline: —


1. In the beginning God created the heavens and the

earth. 1:1-2:3.

2. These are the generations of the heavens and the

earth. 2:4-4:26.

3. This is the book of the generations of Adam.

4. These are the generations of Noah. 6:9-9:28.

5. These are the generations of the Sons of Noah.


6. These are the generations of Shem. 1 1 : 10-26.


7. These are the generations of Terah (the father of

Abram. 11:27-32.

8. And Jehovah said unto Abram (call of Abram).


9. These are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham's

son. 25:12-18.

10. These are the generations of Isaac, Abraham's son.


11. These are the generations of Esau. 36:1-43.

12. These are the generations of Jacob, whose twelve

sons were the ancestors of the twelve tribes of
Israel. 37:1-50:26.

Arranged in this way the general plan of the book of
Genesis is clear. It is the beginning I. of the earth 2.
of the human race 3. of the Jew. Jt leaves "the sons of
Israel" in Egypt, whither they had gone, as told
in the story of Joseph, and from which they were to
be led forth, as told in Exodus. Under the different
subdivisions are preserved the stories which properly
belong in each. Some of the divisions are brief, like 7,
the "generations of Terah," which simply tells us of the
immediate family of Terah, the father of Abram, or 9,
the generations of Ishmael, Abraham's son, while others,
like 8, which contains the life of Abraham from his call
to his death, or 10, which closes with the death of Isaac,
or 12 which contains the story of Joseph, and ends
with his death, are long and contain many stories con-
cerning the lives of the important characters presented.


The other historical books have each its definite pur-
pose, which is to preserve, and to present in an orderly
manner, an account of the important events and person-
ages in the period of Hebrew history which it covers.


Genesis closes with "all the house of Joseph, and
his brethren, and his father's house" in Egypt after a
brief return to Canaan, whither they went to bury
Jacob. Exodus opens with a brief statement concern-
ing the descendants of Jacob who were dwelling in
Egypt, and the history of the Israelites as slaves under
" a new king," "who knew not Joseph." An outline of
the book reveals the following general structure: —


1. Israelites in Egypt. 1:1-2:25.

2. Call of Moses and his early history. 3 -.1-7 -.25.

3. Plagues of Egypt, 8:1-11:10.

4. The institution of the Passover. 12:1-13:16.

5. Exodus from Egypt and journey to the wilderness of
Sinai. 13:17-19:6.

6. The giving of the Law from Sinai (moral and civil).

7. The directions for the Tabernacle and the organizing
of ceremonial worship. 25 :i~3 1:18.

8. The Episode of the Golden Calf. 32:1-35.

9. The erection of the Tabernacle, etc. 33:1-40:38.

Exodus closes with the statement that Jehovah, who
had spoken from the top of Sinai, now manifested him-
self visibly in the Tabernacle: —

"For the cloud of Jehovah was upon the Tabernacle by
day, and there was fire therein by night, in the sight of all
the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys." Exodus


Leviticus is a book of laws, treating especially of the
duties of the sons of Levi, the priests, whence its name
in the Septuagint. On examining its contents as we


have those of Genesis and Exodus, we find that it
consists of the following: —

1. Laws of Sacrifice with rituals and directions to the

priests. 1:1-16:34.

2. The Law of Holiness. 17:1-26:46.

3. Concerning vows and tithes. 27:1-34.

Many expressions from the Law of Holiness occur in
Ezekiel, some nowhere else, and there is a close resem-
blance between Ezekiel and the Law of Holiness in the
conception of the holiness of Jehovah.


The book of Numbers covers a period of thirty-
eight of the forty years that elapsed between the Exo-
dus from Egypt and the entry into Canaan, and re-
lates the events that happened between the time at
which the Israelites left the wilderness of Sinai, in the
second year, and their arrival on "the plains of Moab
by the Jordan at Jericho" Numbers 36:13. It con-
tains, as the name indicates, a census of the tribes,
preparatory to the leaving of Sinai for the journey to
the promised land. An outline is as follows: —


1. Census of the tribes except the Levites.

2. Census of the Levites. 3:1-4:49.

3. Purification of the camp. 5:1-31.
/ Preparations \ ** The Vow of the Nazarites. 6:1-27.

5. The offerings by the princes of the tribes.

6. Consecration of the Levites. 8:1-26.

7. The Keeping of the Passover. 9:1-14.

8. Regulations for the March. 9:15-10:10.


1. The beginning of the March. 10:11-36.

2. Murmurings. 11:1-14:45.

3. Special laws concerning offerings. 15 :i—

4. Murmurings. 16:1-21:35.

5. The Story of Balaam. 22:1-24:25.

6. Events in Moab. 25:1-36:13, 33:1-56,
is the itinerary from Egypt to Moab.


Deuteronomy is frequently spoken of as "the fare-
well speeches of Moses " and this is what it really is,
with a code of laws, constituting chapters 12-26, in-
serted in the book. The name of the book is from the
Septuagint and means a second giving of the law. The
ten commandments given on Sinai, and recorded in
Exodus, ch. 20, are repeated, in Deuteronomy, ch. 5, and
the code and interpretations of the laws consti-
tute, as Dr. Driver has expressed it, "a manual which
without entering into technical details (almost the only
exception is 14:3-20, which explains itself) would in-
struct the Israelite in the ordinary duties of life. . . .
Deuteronomy is, .however, more than a mere code of
laws; it is the expression of a profound ethical and re-
ligious spirit, which determines its character in every
part." l It is a summary of the history of the Israelites
up to the actual entry into Canaan.

The scene suggested by the opening verses is dra-
matic. We picture to ourselves a multitude standing, or
sitting in a large open plain or wilderness, and Moses,
in some commanding position, speaking to them and
recalling to their minds the incidents and lessons of

1 S. R. Driver, Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament, p. 77.


the past forty years. He emphasizes the fact that he
has given them a written law, which must be followed: —

"And Jehovah thy God will make thee plenteous in all
the work of thy hand, in the fruit of thy body, and in the
fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, for good :
for Jehovah will again rejoice over thee for good, as he re-
joiced over thy fathers; if thou shalt obey the voice of Jehovah
thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which
are written in this book of the law; if thou turn unto Jehovah
thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul." Deu-
teronomy 30:9, 10.

We can hear these words of Moses ringing through
the centuries as one historian after another recounted
the deeds and misdeeds of Israel. The work of Moses
had been completed. He had brought them to the
boundary which he himself might not cross with them.
He was allowed to view the Promised Land from the
top of MoujitJPisgah, and then : —

"Moses the servant of Jehovah died there in the land of
Moab, according to the word of Jehovah. And he buried
him in the valley in the land of Moab over against Beth-
peor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day."
Deuteronomy 34:5-6.

An outline is: —


1. Introduction giving time and place of the speeches of

Moses. 1:1-4.

2. First speech of Moses. 1:5-4:40.

3. Episode — The setting apart of cities of refuge. 4:41-


4. Introduction to second speech. 4:44-49.


5. Second speech of Moses. 5:1-11:32.

6. A code of laws. 12:1-26:19.

7. A rehearsal of the ceremony of blessing and cursing.


8. Third speech of Moses. 28:1-68.

9. Fourth speech of Moses. 29:1-31:13.

10. Introduction to the Song of Moses. 31 :i4~30.

11. Song of Moses. 32:1-47.

12. Last words of Moses. 32:48-33:29.

13. Postscript concerning the death of Moses and succes-

sion of Joshua. 34:1-12.


Omitting here the book of Ruth, which the Hebrew
places in the "Writings," or third collection of scrip-
tures, and which appears after Judges, in the Septua-
gint, because the story is laid in "the days when the
judges judged," Ruth 1:1, we proceed in our examina-
tion of the Bible and find, following the Pentateuch, a
series of historical books, Joshua-II Kings, known to
the Jews as the "Former Prophets," which cover the
period from the entrance of the Israelites into Canaan
under the leadership of Joshua, the successor of Moses,
in the fifteenth century b. c. to the taking of Jerusalem
by Nebuchadnezzar, the destruction of the Temple, the
carrying off to Babylon into captivity of Jehoiachin
King of Judah, and his release from prison, in 562 b.
c. The northern kingdom of Israel had been overrun
by the Assyrians and the people carried off captive by
722 b. c. in the reign of Hoshea. This conquest was
begun by Shalmaneser, II Kings 17:3-5, and completed
by Sargon, who in an inscription states that he took
the city of Samaria and carried into captivity twenty-
seven thousand two hundred and ninety of the inhabit-


ants. This ended the Kingdom of Israel, and after this
the "ten tribes" became "lost."


This series of historical books contains accounts of
the occupation of Canaan by the Israelites under Joshua,
and his insistence upon the necessity of following "the
book of the law of Moses," Joshua 8:30-35; l the dis-
tribution of the land among the tribes of Israel, except
the Levites, who were set apart to be priests ; the appoint-
ing of the cities of refuge as directed by Moses ; the vow
of the people to serve Jehovah, and the covenant which
Joshua made with the people, and wrote "in the book
of the law of God," Joshua 29:26; the death of Joshua;
the burial in Shechem of the bones of Joseph, which
had been brought from Egypt, Genesis 50:25, Exodus
13:19; and the death of Eleazar, who had succeeded his
father Aaron as High Priest on the latter's death,
Numbers 20:28. Aaron, like Moses, was not permitted
to enter the promised land. Similar in content and pur-
pose to the farewell speeches of Moses, recorded in
Deuteronomy, are the farewell speeches of Joshua, given
in the last two chapters of the book. Like Moses,
Joshua besought the people to be faithful to Jehovah
and to refrain from worshipping foreign gods. The
historians tell how Israel often forgot these warnings of
Moses and Joshua, and how disasters inevitably fol-

An outline of the contents of the book is as fol-
lows : —

1 According to an ancient rabbinical tradition Joshua wrote the law of
Moses upon stones, Joshua 8:32, in all the languages of the world, supposed
to be seventy in number, and not only in Hebrew for the Jews.



Conquest of


1 . Preparation for entering the promised land.
The incident of Rahab and the Spies.

Online LibraryJosiah Harmar PennimanA book about the English Bible → online text (page 9 of 30)