(Pentateuch means 'teaching'
or 'instruction' and refers to the first five ('pent') books of the Bible, books that
include considerable instruction and law.)
The first book of the Bible Genesis is concerned with
'beginning' or 'origin'. A majority of scholars accept that Moses penned much of the first
five books (the Pentateuch) but, of course, under divine inspiration.
Whilst it is easy to accept that Genesis is concerned with
the beginning of man's history, it is more important to realise that it is God's
revelation on how the world was created, how man was created, how man sinned and how
redemption is made possible.
Genesis is not just a history of man from creation to
Jacob, it is God's account of the way He made a promise after Adam's sin which would
enable man to be redeemed. The promise is made in 3:15. At some time in the future the
seed of the woman (Jesus) would bruise the head of the serpent (sin). The book follows
with the story of man's fall and the way redemption was pursued - Enoch, Noah, the call of
Abraham and the renewing of the promise (12:1 - 3), Isaac and the reminder of the promise
(21:12 - 13), Jacob and another renewal (28:13 - 15, 35:9 - 12).
Genesis sets the scene for the essential framework of
Scripture - creation, sin, judgement, redemption or deliverance and new creation. This
theme is found in miniature in the episode of Noah where one family was saved from the
surrounding sin by the Ark and baptism (1 Peter 3:20 - 21) and in the beginning of the
account also the nation of Israel's freedom from the bondage of Egypt, (Acts 13:17).
Underlying the theme is the implication of God's love, that
even though man was disobedient, God in His love and mercy made provision for man's hope
of eternal life.
1:1 - 2:25 Creation.
3:1 - 3:24 Adam's sin and punishment, but the promise of redemption.
4:1 - 5:32 Adam's life and death.
6:1 - 2:32 Noah's faith and God's covenant.
11:1 - 11:32 Babel - dispersion of the nations and the original Babylon.
12:1 - 25:10 Abram ('high father') and Abraham ('father of a multitude').
25:11 - 28:10 Isaac (and disloyal) - freedom and bondage (allocations 4: 21 - 31).
28:6 - 36:43 Jacob and Esau - two nations.
37:1 - 50:26 Joseph and his brothers. Entry into Egypt.
Exodus literally means 'a going out' and this book, the
second of the five ascribed to Moses, deals with the 'going out' of the children of Israel
The end of Genesis tells of the death of Joseph. The
beginning of Exodus conveys the information that the Israelites began to increase in
number significantly, a matter of some concern to the Egyptians who saw a threat to their
own existence. In order to overcome this imbalance, the Egyptians saw three possible
solutions: 1) The placing of the Israelites into slavery (1:11). When this was not
successful, 2) work in slavery was made much harder (1:14), and 3) the killing of every
male child (1:16).
It was against this background that Moses was born (2:2)
educated in the Egyptian court (2:10) and selected by God to lead the Israelites out of
their slavery and towards the land that God promised them (3:17).
The book naturally divides into two sections. The first
deals with the deliverance of those who are oppressed and the judgement of the oppressors,
and the the second, God's dealing with His people on their journey through the wilderness.
Key verses are found in 19:3 - 6 where God indicates His
right to choose the children of Israel as His "own possession among all people".
This was conditional on their keeping His covenant. God's justification for this choice
was that "all the earth is mine".
As the people of God they had certain privileges and
responsibilities which became evident in the text.
The message from Exodus is clear to those under the new
covenant. God chooses whom He will. Continued blessing is dependent on obedience and the
carrying out of responsibilities. It is through Jesus' sacrifice that the new covenant has
been established and the new Exodus, the "going out" or deliverance from the
bondage of sin is possible.
It is in Exodus that God makes Himself known by His
memorial name (3:13 - 15). Even this revelation indicates His infinite greatness.
1:1 - 4:31 Background. The children of Israel become more
numerous. Moses is selected to lead deliverance.
5:1 - 15:21 Leaving Egypt.
5:1 - 6:30 Harder bondage and promise of deliverance.
7:1 - 25 Signs
8:1 - 10:29 Plagues
11:1 - 13:16 The Passover
13:17 - 14:31 To the Red Sea
15:1 - 21 Moses' Song of Thanks
15:22 - 19: To Sinai
19:3 - 24: 18 God's Laws
25:1 - 31: 18 Plan for the Tabernacle - a place for God to dwell - a place for people to
32:1 - 34: 35 Disobedience, punishment and God's covenant.
35:1 - 40: 38 The construction of the Tabernacle.
Having brought His people out of bondage in Egypt, God gave
them laws which had two functions. The first was to provide a code of behaviour which
would enable them to worship Him, and indeed, be His holy people (20:26), and the second
was to enable them to have a practical law to assist in their daily living.
These laws are contained in Leviticus which literally means
"and he called". These are the opening words of 1:1 and they apply to the whole
of Israel because as a nation they were called by God for a special purpose (Exodus 19:6).
The words also apply to the specific priests, the sons of Levi, whose task it was to
oversee the spiritual (and secular) life of the people.
The most significant aspect of Leviticus in our
contemporary society is that it points forward to the way in which followers of Christ
should endeavour to live their lives. Leviticus contains details of the sacrifices and
offerings which were required to be made by the people in recognising their complete
dependence on God and the necessity to continually honour Him. There were sacrifices and
offerings to be made for a wide variety of reasons. Some were made as a recognition of
sin; others were "free- will" offerings, which, as the name implies, were
offerings made to God for no other reason than that the people wanted to worship Him.
The most important offering was made honour the day of
Atonement (16:1 - 34) when a lamb without any blemish was offered as a sacrifice to
"atone" for the sins of the nation. This pointed forward to Jesus who, as the
lamb without blemish offered himself as a sacrifice once and for all as an atonement for
the sins of many (Hebrews 9:28). Through identifying with Jesus we can obtain the
forgiveness which is promised (Matthew 26:28).
We are not required, under the new covenant, to offer
sacrifices in the way the children of Israel were required. We do need to offer ourselves
as a "living sacrifice" (Romans 12: 1) to the service of God. Our whole life
should the of continual service to Him.
1:1 - 7:38 Sacrifices and offerings
1:1 - 1 -17 Burnt offering
2:1 - 2:16 Meal and fruit offerings
3:1 - 3:17 Peace offering
4:1 - 4:35 Sin offering
5:1 - 5:19 Trespass offering
6:1 - 7:38 Further explanations of the law concerning offerings.
8:1 - 10:20 Concentration of priests
11:1 - 15:33 Laws discerning cleanness and uncleanness
16:1 - 16:34 The Day of Atonement
17:1 - 20:27 Miscellaneous laws
21:1 - 22:33 Responsibilities of the priests NB 22:2
23:1 - 44 The Feasts
23:4 - 8 Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread
23:9 - 14 The Firstfruits
23:15 - 22 The Feast of Pentecost
23:23 - 32 The Feast of Trumpets
23:33 - 44 The Feast of Tabernacles
24:1 - 27:34 Further miscellaneous laws including reference to:
25:1 - 55 The year of the Sabbath and the year of Jubilee
26:1 - 13 Promise of blessing
26:14 - 46 Promise of punishment
27:1 - 34 Vows and tithes
The title "Numbers" comes from the Greek
translation of the Old Testament, (the Septuagint) and refers to the emphasis on
population numbers in the early part of the book. It is interesting that the Hebrew title
comes from 1:1 "In the wilderness" and probably this is more appropriate because
the book does describe events of the Children of Israel in 38 of the 40 years they spent
moving from Egypt to the promised Land of Canaan.
If the book was considered only as an historical record of
the wanderings then much of its message would be missed. It has far more significance than
this. It has one major theme throughout. It reveals God's character through His dealings
with His people. For example, His complete holiness is demonstrated in the incident of
Moses smiting of the Rock to reduce water (20:7 - 13). His righteous jealousy is shown in
25:1 - 13. His justness can be seen in these verses in the establishment of the covenant
of peace with Phinehas. His faithfulness is shown in 23:19. He established a covenant with
Israel and the events of this book show His faithfulness to that covenant even in the face
of adversity from His people.
In the book of Numbers we can see the first of many
instances in the Old Testament when God's people choose to ignore Him and to worship other
"gods". This reveals that God will punish wrong doing but be merciful to those
who endeavour to follow His laws. This can be seen, for example, in 16:1 - 50, the
rebellion of Korah, Dathan and Abiram, where God punished the rebellious but accepted
Moses' atoning intervention.
The message of Numbers is clear. God has established high
standards which He expects His people to follow. At the same time He is just and merciful
and He is faithful to His covenant. He continually dwelt with His people during their
wilderness wanderings. The declaration made in Exodus 29:45 - 46 is repeated in Numbers
35:34 - God dwells with His people. He leads them (9:15-23) and He delivers them from
adversity (21:1 - 54) . It is only proper that He expects faithfulness in return.
1:1 - 10:10 Practical instructions for the wilderness
1:1 - 54 The census
2:1 - 34 Positions of tribes during the journey
3:1 - 4:49 Duties of the priests
5:1 - 7:89 Various offerings
8:1 - 26 Consecration of the Levites
9:1 - 10; 10:10 The Passover and God's guidance
10:11 - 12:16 From Sinai to Paran
13:1 - 20:13 At Kadesh
13:1-33 Spying out the land of Canaan
14:1 - 45 God's displeasure
15:1 - 41 Various laws
16:1 - 50 Korah, Dathan and Abiram
17:1 - 13 Aaron's rod
18:1 - 19:22 Duties of the priests, and various laws
20:1 - 13 Moses' error
20:14 - 22:1 From Kadesh to Moab
22:2 - 32:42 The Plains of Moab
22:2 - 24:25 Balak and Balaam
25:1 - 18 Punishment for sin
26:1 - 65 Another census
27:1 - 11 Further laws
27:12 - 23 Joshua - Moses' successor
28:1 - 30:16 Further laws
31:1 - 54 War against the Midianites
32:1 - 42 Some settlement
33:1 - 36:13 Sundry Matters
33:1-56 Summary of journeys
34:1 - 29 Settlement in the land
35:1 - 24 Cities of refuge
36:1 - 13 Concerning inheritance within the tribes of Israel
The title comes from Deuteronomy 17:18 which should be
translated "a copy of this law". The word itself implies a "second"
law giving but this is inaccurate unless the code under which Abraham operated can be
regarded as the first "law".
The book concerns the discourses given by Moses late in his
life at the time immediately before the Israelites entered the promised land. The
discourses were given on the plains of Moab.
The theme running throughout is that God will continue to
honour His covenant. Moses calls the people to obedience and reminds them that God brought
them out of Egypt, guided them and provided for them whilst they journeyed in the desert.
He counsels them to be careful not to follow the pagan ways of the people of the
They are given further laws and statutes to assist them in
their daily life. The are told of the blessings that will come through obedience (28:1
-14) and the cursings that will come through sin (28:15 - 68).
Another aspect of this book which is important concerns
prophecy. The words of 18:15 concerning a future great prophet were applied by Peter (Acts
3:22) and Stephen (Acts 7:37) to Jesus. Jesus himself made reference to the book through
the words "It is written ... " or, "You have heard that it has been said
... " (Matthew 5:21 etc) which demonstrates the importance that he placed on the Old
Testament scriptures, even if he began to fulfil them as the bringer of the new covenant.
His insistence that he came to fulfil the law rather than destroy is clearly given in
Matthew 5:17 - 20.
Paul places the law in perspective for us in Romans 15:4.
It was written for "our instruction ... that we might have hope."
1:1 - 4:40 The first address
1:1 - 3:29 Summary of the wilderness journey
4:1 - 40 Words of exhortation
4:41 - 43 Cities of refuge named
4:44 - 26:19 The second address
4:44 - 49 Introduction
5:1 - 33 The Covenant in Horeb, and the ten commandments
6:1 - 11:32 Exhortations to righteousness
12:1 - 26:19 Statutes and judgements which include
12:1 - 14 idolatry
12:15 - 28 eating blood
13:1 - 18 idolatry
14: 3 - 21 eating particular food
14: 22 - 29 tithing
15:1 - 11 social welfare
16:1 - 17 the keeping of feasts
17:1 - 13 justice
18:1 - 8 priests
19:1 - 21 cities of refuge
20:1 - 20 war
22:1 - 25:16 morality
25:17 - 18 Do not forget!
26:1 - 19 Other matters
27:1 - 31:8 The third address
27:1 - 10 Inscription of the law
27:11 - 28:68 Cursings and blessings
29:1 - 31:8 Further exhortation and a reminder of God's
31:9 - 33:29 Final words including
32:1 - 44 Moses' song
34:1 - 12 Death of Moses