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How many books does the Hebrew Bible contain?
1 according to traditionalists, 24 according to Jewish
The Bible's three divisions
The torah (law), the Nevi'im (prophets) and the ketavim (writings) are the three main divisions in the bible (or types of work encountered in the bible. The Law usually refers to the first five books of the bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy). Examples of history are; Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings. Examples of prophecy are, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel.
The Bible's four divisions
Christian Bibles divide the books into four parts by genre: Law (from Genesis to Deuteronomy which corresponds to the Torah in a Hebrew Bible), History (from Joshua to Esther), Wisdom/Poetry (including Psalms and Proverbs), and Prophecy (from Isaiah to Malachi).
Tanakh
The Tanakh is the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The Tanakh consists of 24 books, subdivided into three categories: the Torah (the five books of Moses), Nevi'im ("Prophets"), and Ketuvim ("Writings"). The first first letter of each of these subdivisions form the acronym TaNaKh. 1) Torah - consists of 5 book, the book of Moses; 2) Nevi'im - contains the books of the Former Prophets and of the Later Prophets. Covers the time from the entrance of the Israelites into the Land of Israel until the Babylonian captivity of Judah. 3) Ketuvim - consists of the other eleven books.
Old Testament
The Old Testament chiefly provides the origins and development of those who precede the Israelites, starting with the creation of the world, Adam and Eve, and Abraham, etc. in Genesis, then documenting, "the exodus from Egypt, the conquest of land, the rise of the United Monarchy, the fall of Jerusalem, the Babylonian exile, and Israel's eventual return to its homeland" (Kugel, xi).
Pentateuch
The title for the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) used in Christian tradition. This consists of the foundational narrative of the Israelites - their creation and their covenant with God. Traditionalists believe that Moses wrote the Pentateuch entirely with direction from God, while MBS believe there were multiple authors.
Torah
The Torah is the first section of the tripartite arrangement of the Jewish Bible (the other two being Neviim and Ketuvim). The Torah consists of five books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, which is the same for the first sections of Greek Septuagint, Latin Vulgate and Protestant Bibles. These five books (Pentateuch) are referred to by traditionalists as being revealed to Moses by God himself, which is contested by MBS - specific counterargument is Documentary Hypothesis. Torah, which can be translated to mean instruct or guide, was taught by priests.
Genesis
The Book of Genesis (meaning "origin" or literally, "in the beginning") is the first book of the Hebrew Bible. It begins with two (possibly contradictory) accounts of how God created the world and all of the humans, animals and plants which inhabit it. Genesis contains several well known stories including Cain and Abel, Noah and the Flood, the Tower of Babel, the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), and the beginnings of Israel. Modern Bible Scholars point to several passages in Genesis as evidence for the Documentary Hypothesis, including the two creation accounts, the Flood story, and many others.
Exodus (the book)
Exodus is the second book of the Torah, in which Moses is born and dies. Exodus tells of enslavement in Egypt, the plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, the receiving of the 10 commandments, the instructions for constructing the Tabernacle, the worshipping of the golden calf, and ends with the construction of the Tabernacle.
Leviticus
The Book of Leviticus is the third of the five books of the Torah/Pentateuch mainly concerned with the commandments connected with the worship of God. Leviticus begins with God's instructions to Moses, and most prominent in Leviticus is the Tabernacle narrative, which covers all of the institutions that ultimately shaped Israel's national and religious existence.
Numbers
The Book of Numbers is the fourth book of the Torah, and it is mostly written by the Priestly source. Numbers tells of the journey of the Israelites from Mount Sinai to conquer the Promised Land. Along the way, the Israelites complain about the harshness of their journey and are condemned to stay out of the Promised Land until a new generation arises. This book delves into the relationship between God and his people, and their continued lack of faith.
Deuteronomy
The Book of Deuteronomy is the fifth book of the Hebrew Bible and of the Torah/Pentateuch. The books mainly deals with three sermons delivered by Moses before the Israelites entered the Promised Land. According to the Documentary Hypothesis, one of the main Biblical Sources, the Deuteronomist Source, is confined to the Book of Deuteronomy.
Semitic
The adjective Semitic refers either to a set of languages including Hebrew, Arabic, and Aramaic or to the peoples who speak these languages.
Hebrew
Hebrew is a Semitic language, which is historically considered the language of the Hebrews, the Israelites and their ancestors. It was one of the languages used to write the Hebrew bible, and is believed to have been spoken by the kingdoms of Israel and Judah prior to their respective falls. It became a literary language until the 19th century, when it was revived as modern spoken language.
Aramaic
Aramaic is a Semitic language with several dialects that was prominent in the Middle East in the first millennium BCE, including in communities where Jesus and his disciples lived. Biblical Aramaic is used in parts of the Hebrew Bible, including in the books of Daniel and Ezra.
Four Assumptions (Kugel)
Proposed by Kugel, these four assumptions are that the Bible is 1. a cryptic text; 2. an instruction manual rather than a fundamentally historical account; 3. perfectly harmonious, despite being a collection of separate writings; and 4. is essentially a God-given text (or otherwise directly through prophets). The "cryptic" nature of fthe Bible makes it open to, and in need of, interpretation, which brings into play the God-ordained interpreters in maintaining "perfect harmony" of assumption 3.
Midrash
Midrash is the specific name for the activity of biblical interpretation as practiced by the Rabbis of the land of Israel in the first five centuries of the common era (JSB, p.1863). The term is also applied to the products of that activity, namely individual interpretations - a „midrash" - of a biblical verse, word or passage. The midrashic method of interpreting Scripture draws out meanings from a text that go beyond the plain, simple sense of a text by searching the text carefully for hidden implications and filling in gaps left in the biblical narrative.
Allegory, allegorical reading
Allegorizing is the technique by which concrete details in a text--people, events, places in which things occur--are explained as representing abstract entities, ideas, or virtues, etc. This concrete X or Y actually represents that abstract A or B. For example, the agriculture law requiring a planted tree's fruits to be eaten only after the first 3 years, actually refers to special nurturing of faith required before religious faith bears its fruits.
Letter and Spirit
This dichotomy between the legalistic and spiritual drawn by Paul separates the old, legal covenant of Judaism practiced by following written laws from the new Christian covenant of faith. In early biblical interpretation, the pursuit of a spiritual sense motivated Christian interpreters of the Bible. Later interpreters sought four levels of understanding: literal (facts), allegorical (belief), moral (conduct), and anagogical (expectations for end-time). Claiming this complexity allowed religious authorities to monopolize the meaning of the Bible.
"By scripture alone"
The idea that the words of the Bible are superior to the beliefs of religious leaders. This is primarily a Christian concept, or more specifically a protestant one. In the early days of protestant reformation, protestants critized how the vatican placed more value in the belief of its teachings over the words of the Bible, which they believed to be infallible, unlike the teachings of modern day church leaders.
The word "Torah" means:
Torah means "instruction" or "teaching." The root of the word "Torah" means "to shoot (an arrow)" and thus refers to that which "hits the mark." Torah refers explicitly to the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, also known as the Pentateuch, but also describes the teachings of Judaism more generally.
"hermeneutics of suspicion"
It is the theory of text interpretation that MBS use to attempt to recover the "historical facts." It focus on decoding the hidden meaning of sources and figuring out the original intent of the author(s) of the biblical texts. It is a reading method that suspects the ideology of the author. Ex.: David and Naval. David does not kill Naval but he is almost killing him, so the hermeneutics of suspicion could say that David killed Naval but then it was covered up.
biblical inerrancy
Biblical inerrancy refers to the belief that the teachings of the Bible are without fault, and that the scriptures do not go against previously known facts. This is a view held primarily by traditionalists of both Jewish and Christian traditions.
Documentary Hypothesis
The documentary hypothesis, pioneered by Julius Wellhausen and Karl Graf, suggests that the Torah/Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible) were written by multiple authors, derived from independent narratives, combined into its current form by a series of redactors (editors).
J
J, the Jahwist source, is dated to 950BCE making it the oldest of the four sources. It is suggested to have been written in the Southern Kingdom of Judah, a little while before the split. His writings appear to take special interest in the territory of the Kingdom of Judah and its people and history. Prior to Exodus 3, J exclusively uses the personal name, YHWH which lines up with the anthropomorphic descriptions of God that include personal visits and physical acts. God's actions are J's way of expressing his view of God's character: a powerful deliverer and provider who claimed them as his own people. He uses certain episodes of importance to explain etiology of society: origin of language, human morality and the need to work for a living among other things. In these episodes, it is found to be a pattern of sin-punishment-mercy in God's relationship with his people.
E
E, the "Elohist" source, is one of the four main sources of the Torah in the Documentary Hypothesis. E is thought to have been written around the 9th century BCE in the Northern Kingdom of Israel (due to its tendency for depicting things associated with the Northern Kingdom, such as Joseph and his sons, in a positive light). It is typically characterized by an abstract portrayal of God, yet as someone capable of regret and as appearing to humans in person. E does not use the tetragrammaton until it is revealed to Moses.
P
P is the "priestly source." P avoids portraying an anthropomorphic and anthropopathic God, instead portraying god as "a great, cosmic deity," such as in Genesis 1 (Kugel, 54). Many other parts of the Pentateuch that address "priests and their duties in the sanctuary" are also attributed to P (Kugel, 54).
D
D Source represents the "Deuternomist Source" in the Documentary Hypothesis, and is believed to be hypothetically written circa 600 BCE in Jerusalem during a period of religious reform. Some defining characteristics of the D source include strong emphasis on the theme of judgment, and the cycle of punishment and repentance. D source was believed to be written to communicate that the destruction of Israel and Judah was the direct result of the people Israel failing to follow the laws of staying loyal and obedient to Yahweh.
R
The R source stands for the "redactor" in the Documentary Hypothesis. It is believed that the redactor or redactors were later figures who molded the four main sources into their current form and structure. The redactors generally did not add much content, but they sometimes cleared up some apparent contradictions in the text and other times left them in place.
Anthropomorphic, anthropomorphism
The attribution of human qualities. In Genesis 2 and 3, God is anthropomorphic--he walks through the Garden and has a conversation with Adam as one flesh-and-blood being to another. In the J source--Genesis 2 and 3, God has anthropomorphic/anthropopathic qualities, while in Genesis 1 (the P source), God does not.
Anthropopathic, Anthropopathism
Anthropopathic refers to the attribution of human sentiment. For example, the Bible describes God as becoming "angry" and being "jealous" which attributes human emotion and emotional states, respectively, to the deity. Anthropopathism used to be strictly distinct from anthropomorphism in that anthropomorphism only referred to physical characteristics and behaviors; however, in common usage anthropomorphism encompasses the definition of anthropathism.
Polytheism
The belief (and often worship of) more than one deity. Polytheists may believe in multiple deities equally, to different degrees, or worship different deities at different times. The bible often depicts Israelites straying from God into polytheist behavior, then repenting and abandoning the other Gods. In contrast, MBS believe the Israelites were originally polytheists, and over time came to believe in a single God.
Monolatry
Monolatry is the worship of one God despite the recognition of the existence of many gods. Modern Bible scholars believe that this view emerged in the 8th century BCE and was championed by prophets like Hosea. Biblical references to other gods have been cited as evidence of monolatry in ancient Israel.
Cosmic monism
A view that everything in reality is under the control of God, who acts as the ultimate source of being and manifests his full power in both this and the next world. This worldview is carried forward by Rabbinic Judaism and contrasts with cosmic dualism.
Cosmic dualism
The belief that there is not one nor several but exactly two cosmic forces and that they are mutually antagonistic. While some hostile force is in command of this world (at least temporarily), God's full power is manifest only in the next world. As a consequence, full reward and punishment take place not in this world but in the next. Cosmic dualism is carried forward by christianity.
Monotheism
Monotheism refers to the belief that there is only one cosmic power. This contrasts with monolatry which refers to the worship of one god while not denying the existence of others. also known as cosmic monism, contrasting with cosmic dualism.
Cultic figurines
Found by archeologists at many sites of ancient Israelite settlement, cultic figurines provide evidence for the widespread practice of worshiping more than one God. Such figurines are often nude female figures representing fertility and mother goddesses. Their presence in domestic contexts suggests their role in cults that coexisted with monotheistic Israelite religion. Some modern bible scholars would disagree with the characteristic of Israelite religion as such, and characterize it instead as monolatrous in certain periods. This archeological evidence contributes to the Bible's narrative of worship of a single God to idolatry and back to the one God when Israelite religion arises. The Bible itself does not refer to idolatry but instead to the related worship of images and the worship of many gods.
1. Galilee
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2. Samaria (region)
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3. Samaria (city)
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4. Judah (Judaea)
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5. Mediterranean Sea
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6. Sea of Galilee (Kinneret)
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7. Jordan River
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8. Transjordan
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9. Dead Sea (Sea of Salt)
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10. Jerusalem
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11. Northern Kingdom (Kingdom of Ephraim a/k/a Kingdom of Israel)
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12. Southern Kingdom (Kingdom of Judah)
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13. Philistia (Land of the Philistines)
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14. Gaza
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15. Negev
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4. The Two Creation Stories
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"Let us make Adam in our image"
Genesis 1:26, from the first story of creation. This phrase is somewhat troubling to readers of the bible because it is unclear who God is talking to. On one hand it makes sense that he is merely talking to himself. But we also know that he also created angels to help him rule. Nevertheless the verse is clear indication that on some level humans are made in Gods image.
Adam's rib
In Genesis 2:21, God creates Eve, the first woman, from Adam's rib. In Book 1 of Genesis, man and woman appear to be created at the same time: "male and female he created them" (Genesis 1:27). The verse Genesis 2:21 emphasizes both God's anthropomorphic role in physically fashioning woman from Adam's rib and the fact that women originated from man, which can serve as an etiological tale for women's subservience to men.
Garden of Eden
The Garden of Eden is the "Garden of God", where God placed Adam and Eve after creating them. It is also where God plants the tree of knowledge of good and evil, the tree from which Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit that causes them to be banished from the Garden.
The serpent
The serpent is the animal described as having first tempted Eve to eat the fruit from the tree in the middle in the Garden of Eden, saying, "as soon as you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like divine beings who know good and bad" (Gen 3:5).
Etiology, etiological story
An etiological story is one that purports to explain the origins of something. It is a story typically triggered by a question about how or why something came to be in the world.
The Sabbath
The Sabbath (Hebrew: Shabbat) meaning rest or ceasing, is the climax of the first creation account. The Sabbath is considered one of the most important holy days in Judaism as it is the first mentioned in the bible and God is the first to observe it. For observers, it is a day of rest and worship that begins at sundown on Friday until Saturday night. Observers of the Sabbath refrain from work activities. It is celebrated to commemorate God creating the universe and the day of rest he took on the 7th day (Genesis 2:1-3), and it also commemorates the Exodus (Exodus 16:26).
Cain
In the Biblical story, Cain is portrayed as as the oldest son of Adam and Eve. In contrast to Abel, he is a farmer. When God finds Abel's offering more pleasing, Cain becomes jealous and kills his brother Abel, becoming the first murderer. Cain is punished by no longer being able to work the land and is doomed to wander the earth, however, God places a protection on him. Modern Bible Scholars see Cain as referring to the Kenites, a people group found in the land south of Israel who may have worshipped a similar God and who quarreled with Israel often.
Abel
Abel is the the second son of Adam and Eve. He is a shepherd. When Abel and his brother, Cain, make offerings to God, God accepts the best of Abel's sheep but is not satisfied with Cain's offering of fruit from the ground. Cain then kills Abel; therefore, Abel is the first human to die and the first human to be murdered.
The Tree of Life
The tree of life is an entity mentioned in the Book of Genesis, a tree that remained in the Garden of Eden during and after Adam and Eve's exile. The tree of life is essentially displayed as a tree that Mankind can never got a hold of--something blocked off by God as punishment for Adam and Eve's transgressions. It is suggested that, upon eating from the Tree of Life, immortality is obtained. Thus, it is suggested that the ultimate punishment to Adam and Eve's transgression is denial of immortality.
The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil
In Genesis, God specifically prohibits Adam and Eve from eating fruit from this tree, telling them that they are doomed to die. The serpent deceives Eve into eating from the tree, and Adam follows shortly thereafters, dooming humans to mortality
What was the forbidden fruit eaten by Eve and Adam?
The fruit (not necessarily an apple) was from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
El, Elohim
El, or Elohim is an ambiguous term that means "god" or "the gods" ; It is a Hebrew Bible name for God widely used by E and P until God's name is later revealed
YHWH
The most common and widely accepted transliteration of the name of God in the Hebrew bible, usually written as "LORD" in English texts. The bible is not consistent in its name for God, or when God reveals his name to be YHWH, and these inconsistencies form a large part of the evidence for the Documentary Hypothesis.
Tetragrammaton
Commonly translated as YHWH, this is one of the names used for God in the Hebrew Bible. Part of the evidence for the Documentary Hypothesis involves the different uses of the tetragrammaton. For instance, the Elohist source uses the name "Elohim" prior to the story of the burning bush, whereas the Jahwist source is the only one to use "YHWH" prior to that episode.
Enoch
Enoch appears in the Book of Genesis, (5:19-5:21, part of the "begats"), and is the father of Methuselah and great-grandfather of Noah.
"The sons of God with the daughters of men"
Genesis 6.1-6.4; according to this passage, "divine beings/sons of god" saw how beautiful the daughters of men were and took them as wives. Their mating with human females produced the "Nephilim," a race of superhumans. Ancient interpreters usually understood the story as a reason for the great flood. The phrase "sons of God" was generally understood to refer to angels.
Tower of Babel
After the flood, Noah's descendants who lived in Babylon set out to build a huge tower that "reaches to heaven", which to God was an expression of human arrogance, to try to reach the realm of the divine. The consequence of the Tower of Babel, explained etiologically, was the multitude of languages, as God stopped the Babylonians and scattered them all across the land.
120 years
Genesis 6:3: After "divine beings" discover the daughters of men, God dictates that humans will not live longer than 120 years. This explains how people came to stop living lives as long as those of the members of Adam's line described in Genesis 5.
the bow in the sky
Genesis 9:13, from the story of the flood. This is God making a promise to never create a flood again, in fact he says that the bow is a sign of this covenant. This is one of only several instance in the bible where God appears to show any remorse or sympathy after meting out punishment.
the prohibition of spilling blood
The prohibition of spilling blood comes at the end of the flood story (Genesis 9:6) when God tells Noah that men can eat animals (though not ones with their life-blood still in it) but must not shed the blood of other men. Those who violate this prohibition will be punished: "Whoever sheds the blood of man, / By man shall his blood be shed."
Noah
Noah was a "righteous man", the man chosen by God to build an ark to save animals from the great flood, along with himself and his family. Noah was instructed to build the ark and to put in the ark seven pairs of all clean animals (according to J) or a male and a female of both the clean AND the unclean animals (according to P).
ark
The ark is the boat God commanded Moses to built in order to save him, the animals and his family from being destroyed in the Great Flood. God instructs Noah in the precise building of the ark and then seals Noah, his family, and all the animals into the ark throughout the duration of the flood.
Assyria
Assyria was a major Semitic kingdom, existing from approximately 2500 BCE to 600 BCE. It was centered on the upper Tigris river (spanning approximately today's locations of northern Iraq, northeast Syria, and southeastern Turkey). In 720 BCE, Assyria conquered the Northern Kingdom (Israel) and relocated the entire population.
Babylonia
Babylonia is an ancient Semitic state in central-southern Mesopotamia, which is the present-day Iraq. Its capital was Babylon. The Babylonians conquered the Southern Kingdom in 586 BC. The Epic of Gilgamesh, an epic poem from this region, contains a similar account to the Genesis story of a great flood. This suggests that one of these stories precedes the other that copied it or both were copied from a source before their time. The general similarities involve the sending of a flood because of wickedness in Genesis, and noise in the Babylonian tale whereafter a righteous man is identified and is ordered to build some form of ark for a small number of people and many animals.
Gilgamesh
Gilgamesh was an ancient sumerian king and the main character of the Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the world's oldest pieces of literature. In the epic, he is noted for his great building projects which allow some of the civilization to survive a Great Flood, similar to that found in Genesis. Many scholars point out similarities between this flood story and that of Noah.
Myth
A myth is a story in which a god or gods are the central characters. A myth differs from an etiology because in an etiology, humans play the main roles. There are remnants of a mythological creation story in the bible, as seen in the interspersed references to God defeating sea monsters.
How long did the flood last?
In the flood story, there are two different claims about the duration of the flood. The J Source claims that the flood lasted for forty days and forty nights. The P source claims that the flood lasted for 150 days. MBS interprets this as the bible having two contradictory sources, J source and P source. Ancient interpreters interpret this discrepancy as the flood building up for 40 days and then slowly dissipating until the 150 day-mark.
clean/pure and unclean/impure animals
During the flood story, J describes that God instructs Noah to bring seven pairs of every clean animal, male and female, and two of each unclean animal, leaving some alive for sacrifice. Clean animals are good to eat. The P sources describes that there are two of each animal.
two by two or seven by seven?
At different points in the story of Noah, it is unclear whether God wants Noah to take 2 of every animal so that they can repopulate the earth or if he wants Noah to take 7 pairs eahc of the clean animals and one pair each of the unclean animals so that Noah can make sacrifices with the surplus population. MBSs attribute the "seven by seven description to the J source and the "two by two" description to the P source, as priests probably wouldn't have looked upon the idea of an untrained person like Noah offering sacrifices. THis is seen as major evidence of the Documentary Hypothesis
How many human beings were in the ark?
8 (eight): Noah and his wife, his three sons and their wives.
Patriarchs
Typically refers to Abraham, his son Isaac, and Isaac's son Jacob. They are three male leaders described in Genesis, with whom God had substantial interaction. With covenants and revelations, God founded Israel through them.
Ur of the Chaldees
A biblical location where Abraham may have been born and lived until God instructed him to leave his native land for Haran. Albright emphasized archaeological evidence to support the historicity of Abraham's travels from Ur to Haran.
Sodom and Gomorrah
Sodom and Gomorrah were two cities along the Southern shore of the Dead Sea, and are archetypes of human wickedness because the people of these two cities were incorrigibly evil. The story of the two cities serves as a lesson in which unrelenting sinfulness was ultimately met with just and divine punishment in the form of a cataclysm of "brimstone and fire."
Daughters of Lot
Lot had two daughters. When Lot escaped with them from Sodom, they made him drunk and had both sexual relations with him. They both gave birth to a son (named Moab and Ben-Ammi), respectively the ancestors of Israel's two neighbors the Ammonites and the Moabites. Some modern scholars see this story as an etiological tale explaining eponym and characteristics of the Ammonites and Moabites.
Covenant (berit)
Covenant just means agreement, and that is what berit means, in Hebrew: a treaty or charter are alternate translations. Often times in ancient Near East, agreements were enacted by the slaughter of an animal, often followed by a feast. For example, to Abram, God's covenant refers to the land that God promised.
Circumcision
Genesis 17:9-14: As a sign of God's covenant with Abraham, the latter is required to circumcise males within his household - himself, his sons, slaves from within, and slaves from without. Abraham enacts this demand (Genesis 17:23-27) after God promises Sarah will bear his son. Such a passage serves an etiological function, explaining and legitimating the contemporary practice of circumcision in the author's contemporary Israel.
Navi
The Hebrew word for prophet. Prophets play the role of speaking on God's behalf, theoretically in ancient Israel they were to be respected by Kings and Judges, although this was not always the case. They also the play the role of critiquing society. Examples include; Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Samuel and Job,
Abraham
Abraham (initially called Abram) is the first patriarch. God instructs Abram to set out from Haran to Canaan. God forms a covenant with Abraham; his descendants will inherit the promised land. Abraham has his first son Ishmael with Sarah's handmaid Hagar and later a son Isaac with his wife Sarah.
Akedah (or aqedah)
It is the binding of Isaac. The traditionalist interpretation says that one of the trials of Abraham was to offer his own son, Isaac, as a sacrifice to God. Abraham is prompt to obey to God's command, and so he goes with his son to the place of sacrifice and binds Isaac on the altar. When Abraham is about to kill Isaac, an angel of the Lord intervenes and saves Isaac. This trial of Abraham is usually seen in the Jewish culture as a supreme example of self-sacrifice in obedience to God. According to Kugel, the main etiological function of this text is to say that God does not demand that we sacrifice our children to Him (Kugel, page 132).
Child sacrifice
According to Kugel, child sacrifice was practiced in the ancient Near East region, and the story of Isaac could potentially explain the end of this practice in Israel and why Israelites instead sacrificed livestock.
the first born
The Torah retains a special place for the first born - while it makes it clear that one should not sacrifice the first born, it provides hints that this was practiced in the ancient world. God slays the first born of Egypt in Exodus. However there is a theme of the younger son ousting the elder in the Torah, such as when Isaac replaces Ishmael, Jacob replaces Esau, or Moses replaces Aaron.
Isaac
Isaac, an Israelite patriarch, is the long awaited son of Sarah and Abraham. He is born in Canaan to them when his mother is past 90 and his father is 100 years old. He is the younger half brother of Ishmael. Isaac is the subject of the aqedah, or the binding, where Abraham is commanded to offer his only son as a sacrifice to God on Mount Moriah, which was intercepted before completion by an angel. In Isaac's old age, he becomes blind and blesses the younger of his two sons, Esau and Jacob, begetting Jacob the birthright of his older brother. He died in Canaan at the age 180.
Ishmael
Ishmael is the first progeny born to Abram, via Sarai's handmaid Hagar. Sarai allowed Abram to lay with Hagar to produce offspring since she was barren. Ishmael and Hagar are eventually cast out by Abraham at the bequest of Sarah. He is said to have dwelled in the wilderness and became the father of twelve nations, collectively known as the Ishmaelites.
Jacob
Jacob is the third patriarch, the son of Isaac, and Esau's younger twin. His twelve sons are the founders of the twelve tribes of Israel. Jacob forces Esau to give him his birthright in exchange for food. Later, Jacob pretends to be Esau when speaking with Isaac; believing that Esau is present and had given him food, Isaac gives Jacob his blessing, thus making Jacob the third patriarch instead of Esau.
Esau
Esau is the older twin brother of Jacob and the older son of Isaac and Rebekah. Esau is the progenitor of the Edomites and the patriarch of the Israelites. Esau's often viewed as the "wicked brother" by ancient interpreters, though his relationship with his brother Jacob seems much deception from Jacob's doing; examples include Jacob taking Esau's birthright as the first born as well as acquiring Isaac's blessing that had been intended for Jacob. Esau becomes a wealthy man, a progenitor of the Edomites and a father of five sons.
Israel
Jacob's name after he wrestles with God. The meaning of of Israel is unclear, but it seems to reference the authority of God.
Eponymous ancestor
An eponymous ancestor is the person after whom a group of people or institution is named. Jacob, renamed Israel, becomes the eponymous ancestor of the Israelites as the nation and its people (as a group) are named after him. Additionally, his sons came to be the eponymous ancestors of the tribes of Israel.
Judah
The southern kingdom after the split of the United Kingdom (or monarchy) It outlasted the Northern kingdom and fell in 586 B.C. to the Babylonians.
Joseph
A son of Jacob, and subject of an extended narrative within Genesis. He was sold into slavery by jealous siblings, and later imprisoned, but he rose in favor with his Egyptian masters by interpreting dreams on behalf of God. After interpreting Pharaoh's dreams, he was freed and granted noble status. After living in Egypt for some time, he reconciled with his family and brought them to Egypt, setting the stage for the Exodus.
Ephraim
Ephraim was the second son of Joseph. Ephraim's "replacement" of his older brother Menasseh parallels Jacob's gain over Esau. Joseph's blessing of Ephraim (and other sons) is considered by some to be an etiological story about the subsequent Tribes of Ephraim. The Northern Kingdom is sometimes called the "Kingdom of Israel" or the "Kingdom of Ephraim."
Menasseh
Manasseh was the eldest son of Joseph and Asenath (Egyptian), first mentioned in the book of Genesis (41:51). Manasseh is the ancestor of the eponymous Tribe, which was one of the 12 tribes of Israel. His Tribe occupied the land on both sides of the River Jordan in central Palestine.
Levi
The third son of Jacob and Leah and eponymous ancestor of the tribe of Levi. In later references Levi appears as a tribe of priests and other religious functionaries.
Potiphar
A high Egyptian official, to whom Joseph was sold to as a slave by Joseph's brothers. Joseph went on to rise to the top of Potiphar's household staff. His wife gave Joseph a bit more trouble.
Mrs. Potiphar
In Genesis 39, Joseph goes from cherished by his Egyptian master to sitting in prison due to the wife of Potiphar, his master. She attempts to seduce him. When Joseph flees instead of complying, she claims he tried to rape her. A parallel story can be found in the Egyptian tradition. Even in prison, Joseph is successful because God provides for him. Joseph acts righteously throughout his story, but especially in resisting this temptation. Traditional interpreters underscored the presence of this temptation in order to humanize Joseph as a more relatable figure.
Hyksos
A group of Asiantic People, from West Asia. At times in ancient history they controlled Egypt, it is a possibility that the pharaoh at the time of Joseph was actually Hyksos and not Egyptian.
Exodus (event)
The Exodus is the "going out" or "departure" of the Israelites from Egypt. God fulfills his promise to Abraham to free his descendants after 400 years of enslavement. God explains his plans to Moses and instructs him to lead the people out of Egypt.
Burning bush
The burning bush is an object described by the Book of Exodus[3:1-22] as being located on Mount Horeb; according to the narrative, the bush was on fire, but was not consumed by the flames, hence the name.[1] In the narrative, the burning bush is the location at which Moses was appointed by Yahweh (God) to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and into Canaan.
Moses
Biblical figure in Exodus who grows up as an Israelite in the Egyptian court. Chosen by God to lead the exodus of the Israelites out of Egypt by speaking to him through the burning bush. Credited with parting the Reed (Red) Sea, receiving (and then breaking) the tablets from God on Mount Sinai, and leading the Israelites through the desert for forty years before reaching the border of the Promised Land.
Aaron
Aaron was the founder and the head of the Israelite priesthood, and led the Israelites out of Egypt with his younger brother Moses (acting as Moses' mouth). The two brothers went to the pharaoh together, and Aaron told the king to let the people of Israel go, using his magic rod to show the might of God. Aaron is also the person who made the golden calf that was idolatrously worshiped when Moses was delayed on Mount Sinai.
Ten plagues
Ten calamities that, according to the biblical Book of Exodus, Israel's God inflicted upon Egypt to persuade Pharaoh to release the ill-treated Israelites from slavery. Pharaoh capitulated after the tenth plague, triggering the Exodus of the Hebrew people.
Miriam
Miriam was the sister of Moses and Aaron. At her mother's request, she placed baby Moses in a basket in the river and watched as the princess discovered him. She suggested to the princess that Moses' actual mother, Yocheved, act as his nurse. She is remembered as a prophet, for example, her two line couplet at the end of the dong of the sea in Exodus.
Passover/Pesah
Passover is a Jewish holiday that lasts 8 days and nights and serves as a remembrance of the time of enslavement in Egypt. During Passover, only unleavened bread (matzah) can be eaten because the Israelites only had time to prepare unleavened bread before they left Egypt (12:39). There is also a customary sedar that reflects the tradition of the feast.
Matzah
Matzah is unleavened bread, the central Passover symbol, of which the Hebrew Bible calls the 'bread of affliction'. Unleavened bread was one of the foods the Jews in Egypt were commanded to eat along with the paschal lamb. The Jews eat matzah for a duration of 7 days at the Passover seder.
Apotropaic
Any symbol or image that allegedly has the power to confront evil and bad luck. During the Passover, the lamb's blood acts as an apotropaic symbol that protects the Israelites.
Pharaoh
The King of Egypt who is respected by his people as a god. God uses Pharaoh as a tool to extend his spectacular demonstration of power in Egypt. After each of the "wonders," he hardens Pharaoh's heart against Moses, ensuring that the Israelites will be forbidden to leave Egypt while guaranteeing God another opportunity to show off his power again.
death of the first born
The 10th and final "wonder" or "sign" that occurs in Egypt. Israelites paint blood over their doors so that their houses will be passed over when this sign occurs. The pharoah's first born son dies which is a turning point in the story.
the Destroyer
The embodiment of God's final "plague" in Egypt, which struck down all the first-borns not protected by the blood mark as God prescribed. It is debated whether the Destroyer was an act of God himself, or one of God's angels acting directly.
Did the Israelites build the pyramids?
No. Even if Exodus was an actual event (which is far from clear), it would have been dated around 1200 BCE, a full millennium after the pyramids were built.
Revelation
A direct communication of God's wishes/laws to a human. At Mount Sinai, there was a mass revelation as God revealed the Decalogue to Moses and those present, giving them a divine responsibility to uphold his wishes.
Sinai
According to the narrative in the book of Exodus, the Ten Commandments were given to Moses by God on Mount Sinai in the wilderness of Sinai. The wilderness of Sinai is also the place where the Israelites built the golden calf.
Horeb
Place where the Ten Commandments were given to Moses by God, at least in Deuteronomy. Other books say Mount Sinai.
Decalogue
This phrase is the modern scholarly term to refer to the Ten Commandments. It refers to Exodus 19-20. These laws are set apart from others in the Torah because they were accompanied by thunder and lightning and were revealed without Moses as intermediary. It includes laws that are unique to Israel and others that are shared by other societies in the Ancient Near East.
Ten Commandments
Two Tablets containing 10 commandments (split 3/7, 3 for God 7 for others), sometimes called the decalogue. They were presented to Moses on Mount Sinai, the Biblical story happens twice, once in Exodus and once in Deuteronomy.
According to the Jewish way of counting, how many commandments does the Torah contain?
The Torah contains 613 commandments in total.
Covenant Code (Book of the Covenant)
It comes right after the Ten Commandments and is considered to be the second legal corpus of the bible, found in chapters 21, 22, and 23 of Exodus. Some believe that this laws are also part of God's covenant with Israel, communicated to Moses at the Mount Sinai. Others (many of the MBS) believe that this group of laws existed as an independent legal corpus and NOT as part of the original covenant between God and Israel.
Casuistic law
Biblical laws characterized by "if" "then" or "thou shall not, but if thou shall then..." statements that not only tell what action should be avoided, but what consequences will occur if the law is broken.
Apodictic law
An apodictic law is a divine law in the Hebrew Bible expressing an absolute command by God on something, such as in the Ten Commandments (Thou shalt not kill, etc...). This contrasts with case law, which contains a conditional statement and a punishment to be delivered.
Theophany
A visible manifestation to humankind of God or a god.
Hammurabi
Hammurabi was an ancient king of Babylon. He is principally remembered for Hammurabi's Code, one of the oldest sets of recorded laws in history.
Lex talionis
Lex talionis translates as "an eye for an eye". The significance of this lies in the fact that if a person commits a wrongdoing, he/she cannot be punished more severely than the initial wrongdoing.
Bronze serpent
Because the Israelites spoke against God and Moses, they were punished with an influx of poisonous snakes. They then complained to Moses for him to stop this plague, and the Lord commanded Moses to build a bronze serpent that healed any poisoned person by looking at it. This shows the juxtaposition of a God of mercy and a God of wrath.
Balaam
A non-Israelite prophet who is asked by Balak, the Moabite King, to curse the Israelites. Unable to go against God (who has chosen the Israelites as his people), Balaam blesses the Israelites instead of cursing them three times, and in fact curses Balak on the third time. He was seen as a villain by ancient interpreters because despite his inability to curse the Israelites, he still tried to. Additionally, he was largely motivated by his desire for monetary gain. MBSs see evidence of composite authorship and possibly the later insertion of the negative portrayal of Balaam (especially the donkey incident)
Dathan and Aviram
Both Dathan and Aviran and their immediate families are "swallowed alive" by the earth after leading a rebellion against Aaron and Moses. It is only due to Moses and Aaron's pleas to God that their entire community is not destroyed.
Korah
A levite who leads an insurrection to challenge Moses and Aaron's authority as priests, presumably wishing to be part of the priesthood themselves. Moses rebukes the rebels for their inappropriate claim, and invokes God through a "test" to decide the matter. God then burns the rebels with divine fire as punishment.
Moses striking the rock
Moses strikes (in one case) and speaks to (in another case) a rock to provide people with water in response to the Israelites' complaints in Exodus 17 and Numbers 20. Modern Bible Scholars consider these passages to be a narrative doublet (authors: E and P), while ancient interpreters thought that Moses journeyed with a "traveling rock."
Grumbling Motif
The grumbling motif centers first on the people of Israel who, in the discomfort of the wilderness, began to dispute the presence of God among them and to test Him (hence, the grumbling) even though he had provided ample evidence of his power through the events that led them out of Egypt.
Manna
The Bible recounts that during their forty years of wandering in the wilderness, the Israelites received from God a regular supply of a special food called Manna laying on the ground in the mornings. The Israelites were allowed to gather only as much as they needed for the day - the rest would spoil. On the sixth day, however, a double portion could be collected and kept, unspoiled, for the Sabbath.
Caleb
From the tribe Judah, son of Jephunneh. Among the 12 spies Moses sends to scout Canaan, Caleb alone recommends Israel proceed with conquest (Number 13:30). This is considered the earlier JE version. The Priestly account adds Joshua as a spokesman for undertaking the conquest (Numbers 14:6-9).
Golden Calf
In Exodus 32, Aaron and the Israelites make a golden calf while Moses remains on Mount Sinai. In expressing their frustration with Moses, the Israelites resort to idolatry with the golden calf, which angers Moses. Moses pleads before God, who acts with mercy. This story contains responses to other instances of idolatry in the Bible (similar to shrines built by Jeroboam in 1 Kings). It also plays into the conflict between Aaron, who makes this sinful image, and the Levites, who support Moses. It also raises questions of where the divine presence can be found, strictly within or also without the Israelites'camp.
Horned Moses
A reference to a statue of moses made by Michaelangelo in the Italian Renaissance circa 1515. The likely source of the horns is a reference to Moses returning from Mount Sinai with the commandments and horns on his head. The reference exists in the Vulgate, it is controversial whether or not such a verse actually should exist.
the spies
Moses sends out 12 spies, one from each tribe, to scout Canaan at the Lord's command. Most of the spies despair because they believe the people living in Canaan are too powerful. Only two of them, Joshua and Caleb, maintain faith that the Lord will deliver the land to them. In response, God decrees that only Joshua and Caleb will be allowed to enter the promised land.
Tabernacle
The Tabernacle was the portable dwelling place for the divine presence from the time of the Exodus from Egypt through the conquering of the land of Canaan. Built to specifications revealed by God to Moses at Mount Sinai, it accompanied the Israelites on their wanderings in the wilderness and their conquest of the Promised Land.
There are two accounts of the tabernacle:
1) E - a tabernacle of congregation, a place where people directed their worship. Traditional scholars believe it may describe Moses's original tent.
2) P - a much more detailed description of the tabernacle. Mentions an inner schrine, outer chambers, and a sacrificial altar. MBS believe this description is of a far later date than Moses, and that it reflects the temple of Salomon. Traditional scholars believe this tabernacle was used in the time of Moses.
"Love your neighbor as yourself"
Appears in the Hebrew Bible in Leviticus 19:18, and is an example of one of the many Biblical laws that, according to Kugel, make up a, "religion of divine laws," that touch, "on matters not normally found in any law code (241).
"Love the alien"
Versions of this phrase appear several times throughout the Hebrew Bible, instructing Israelites to love the alien since they were aliens in the land of Egypt. In other words, because the Israelites know how it feels, they shall not persecute foreigners or judge them unfairly - rather, they should treat them equally.
Day of Atonement
Yom Kippur (Hebrew: יוֹם כִּפּוּר, IPA: [ˈjom kiˈpuʁ], or יום הכיפורים), also known as Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year for the Jewish people.[1] Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jewish people traditionally observe this holy day with an approximate 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services.
Sacrificial cult
The Tanakh also implies that the Ammonites offered child sacrifices to Moloch. There is a ban of the sacrifice of humans in Leviticus and Deuteronomy
Scapegoat
In Leviticus, Aaron is instructed to "transfer" the sins of the Israelites to a goat, called the scapegoat, and send the scapegoat into the wilderness. Traditionally, on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest of Israel would "transfer" the Israelites' sins to a goat and send into the wilderness.
Levites
The Levites were the members of the Hebrew tribe of Levi, and a part of the group of Israelites that followed Moses out of Egypt. The Levites were the people who remained loyal to Moses after Moses came back from Mt. Sinai with the two stone tablets. Moses ordered the Levites to kill all of the other Israelites who had disobeyed him—though the Levites were forgiven by God for their slaughter, they were punished with a plague for having initially engaged in disobedience with the other Israelites. According to P source, the Levites are helpers of priests, and according to D source, the LEvites are priests
priests
In the Tabernacle, only the priests of the tribe of Levi (the Aaronides) can officiate. Other Levites (members of other clans in the same tribe) serve as lesser servants in the temple, but some rivalry between the two is suggested. Priests must be blemish-free.
Profane/ secular slaughter
In Leviticus, secular/profane slaughter is not allowed. Any act of slaughter, even to eat, is meant to honor God. Because all slaughter is considered sacred, it must occur at the altar in the tabernacle, despite the impracticality of this convention for every individual to cook their food. This is contrasted with Deuteronomy, which allows for profane (for food) slaughter outside of the tabernacle.
Ark of the Covenant
A wooden container overlayed with gold that carries the tablets of the covenant. Kept in the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle.
Ritual impurity
A specific type of impurity, considered both inevitable and transient. It is typically caused by handling impure animals, handling corpses, childbirth, or sexual discharges. The impure were then compelled to remove their impurity through some combination of bathing, sacrifices, or just waiting a certain length of time.
pure/clean animals, impure/unclean animals
This distinction is used to separate acceptable sacrifices from unacceptable sacrifices. Animal sacrifices are described in P (and J, to some extent) to require the use of "pure" animals like cattle, sheep, and goats, and not "impure" animals like pigs and camels.
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