Yet in the Bible the early Jews and Christians provide an account of themselves which is unparalleled, among religious groups of those times, in its wealth of detail. The books of the Jewish Bible are believed to have been written over several centuries, beginning in the 10th century BC - by which time the Hebrews are settled in Canaan , or Palestine.
But in many parts the scribes are writing down a much older oral tradition. It is thought that some of the events described may go back as far as the 18th century BC. The holiest part of the Bible for Jews is the first five books, known as the Torah 'instruction' or 'law' in Hebrew. In non-Jewish sources these books are sometimes called the Pentateuch 'five scrolls' in Greek, from a translation done in Alexandria.
Genesis , the first book of the Torah, begins with a resolutely monotheistic story of the creation and goes on to provide a series of myths which can be echoed in other religions - the fall of man into a state of sin through disobedience Adam and Eve eating the apple , a great flood which sweeps away the whole of sinful mankind except for one small group of survivors Noah and his family , and the emergence of different languages God's punishment for man's presumption in building the mighty tower of Babel, which almost reaches to heaven.
With the entry of Abraham, Genesis reaches the story of the Bible's own people, the Hebrews. Abraham's people: 18th - 13th century BC.
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In Genesis Abraham is the patriarch of a nomadic tribe. The story has him moving through Mesopotamia from Ur to Harran and then down into Canaan - a land which, God promises, his descendants will inherit. Many tribes move with their flocks among the settled cities of Mesopotamia and Phoenicia. No doubt several, from time to time, have charismatic leaders long remembered by their descendants.
There is no reason to doubt that a figure such as Abraham exists, and scholars put his likely date at about BC. What makes him significant is the idea of his pact with God, by which God will help Abraham 's people in return for their fulfilling God's law. This is the covenant at the heart of the story of the Hebrews. Abraham's grandson is Jacob, whose story provides the origin of the tribal division of the Hebrews.
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When God renews the covenant with Jacob he gives him a new name, Israel. Jacob eventually has twelve sons, from each of whom a tribe descends - the twelve tribes of Israel. In Genesis the sons of Jacob cause his family to move to Egypt - first by selling one of their number Joseph into slavery there, and then by moving south themselves in a time of famine. People called habiru feature in Egyptian records. They have been identified by some scholars with the Hebrews, but there is no firm evidence to prove the link. In Exodus , the second book of the Torah, the religious identity of the Hebrew tribes is firmly established through the leadership and inspiration of Moses - as he brings them north towards Canaan, escaping from a state of slavery in Egypt.
God's name is later considered too holy to be spoken, but with its vowels added it is Yahweh. In Christian versions of the Old Testament it becomes written as Jehovah. God also reveals to Moses the ten commandments. If the Hebrews obey these laws, God will favour them as his chosen people and will bring them into the promised land of Canaan. This pact is a renewal and development of the long-standing covenant between God and the Hebrews.
It now becomes literally the centrepiece of the Hebrew religion. God, in Exodus , tells Moses to engrave the laws upon two tablets of stone and to place them in a wooden chest covered in pure gold. This chest is the ark of the covenant. As the most sacred object of the Hebrew cult, it will eventually be housed in the inner sanctuary of the temple at Jerusalem.
In Exodus and the three remaining books of the Torah, the Hebrews are wandering in the Sinai desert under the leadership of Moses and of his elder brother Aaron, later seen as the prototype of the Hebrew priesthood. The third book, Leviticus , is priestly material - largely given over to listing the proper details of ritual and sacrifice. The fourth, Numbers , describes something of the social and political structure of the tribes on the slow journey north towards the promised land.
Deuteronomy is an amplification of God's law for his people. At the end of Deuteronomy Moses glimpses the land promised by God to Abraham, but dies before he can enter it. The five books of the Torah, made up of passages composed at various times from the reign of David onwards, are amalgamated and amplified by the priests in about BC. They attribute all five books to Moses, inspired by God.
The underlying purpose of the priests is to reinforce the identity of the Jewish community after the return to Jerusalem. In this they succeed beyond all possible expectation. The Torah becomes, and remains today, the centre of Judaism.
The enemy commander with leprosy
Hoping for disaster, he sits outside the city to await its destruction. A plant springs up overnight, providing him welcome shelter from the heat, but it is destroyed by a great worm. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle? We welcome suggested improvements to any of our articles.
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This fifth book of the Twelve Minor Prophets contains no oracles and is thus unique among prophetic books. In II…. Nineveh , the oldest and most-populous city of the ancient Assyrian empire, situated on the east bank of the Tigris River and encircled by the modern city of Mosul, Iraq. Nineveh was located at the intersection of important north-south and east-west trade routes, and its proximity to a tributary of the…. In most other versions of the Old Testament, each of these 12 is treated as a separate book e.
Hebrew Bible, collection of writings that was first compiled and preserved as the sacred books of the Jewish people.
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