THE FACTS ABOUT THE BIBLE
The Whole Story - The Old Testament Books
218. The Books of Moses. Otherwise known as the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible attributed to Moses are the cornerstone of the books contributed by later generations. These books include Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
219. Genesis. Genesis comes from a word meaning "to be born." From that same word we also get words like genetic, congenital, and genealogy. Though it marks the beginning, the best way to look at Genesis is not merely to begin and look forward, but to stand at Exodus and look back. Moses is writing for his fellow Israelite slaves. As they struggle with Egypt's oppression, Moses answers the question, "How did we get in this mess?" Genesis is the answer to that question. It tells the story of the Israelites' ancestors—all the way back to the first human beings.
220. Exodus. This book opens several hundred years after the close of Genesis. Jacob and some seventy family members had grown into hundreds of thousands. God's promise of descendants to Abraham also included a promise of land on which the descendants would live. This land had already been settled and was called Canaan, after its original settlers. It is now the area of Palestine or Israel. Exodus means "the going out of." It is the story of the Hebrew people being led by Moses out of Egyptian captivity into the wilderness for forty years.
221. Leviticus. The Levites were descended from Jacob's son Levi. Moses and Aaron were Levites. The Levites were to keep the tabernacle and all its services for the rest of the nation, and the priests were to have the most essential parts of that service. This book is somewhat of an appendix to Exodus as it is a log of the laws and guidelines for the Israelites.
222. Numbers. The English title of this book refers to the census of the twelve tribes that opens the book. The Hebrew title, Ba-Mid-bar ("in the wilderness"), is more accurately descriptive because the book begins with the decision to leave Sinai and cross the desert toward the Promised Land.
223. Deuteronomy. This book is essentially Moses' farewell address—actually three addresses—in which he restates the acts of God. Solemnly Moses warns of the temptations of Canaan and its evil ways. Moses pleads for loyalty to and love of God as the main condition for life in the Promised Land. A central message in Deuteronomy is that the worship of God is to be centralized in one place, so that the paganism of local shrines may be eliminated.
224. The books of history. If the books of Moses can be considered the cornerstone of the Bible, then the next twelve books can be thought of as the first story of the building. The historical record of ancient Israel that began with Genesis through Deuteronomy is continued with these next twelve books. While the first five books brought Israel to the edge of the Promised Land, these next twelve tell what happened once Israel took up residence there.
225. Joshua. Moses and Aaron were not allowed to enter the Promised Land, and neither were any of the people who came out of Egypt because of the Israelites' griping in the wilderness. Permission came at last for the Israelites to "conquer" the Promised Land after forty years of waiting. The Book of Joshua tells this story. As in many war stories, it gets pretty gory.
226. Judges recounts the history of Israel from the death of Joshua to the time just before the birth of the Hebrew prophet Samuel, roughly a two-hundred-year span. The judges were warrior-like rulers over the tribes of Israel.
227. Ruth. The short Book of Ruth—shortest of all the historical books—provides a welcome respite from the harsh times described at the end of Judges. The opening verses tell of the Moabites, Ruth's marriage to a Hebrew man during a time of famine, and how she chose to return to Judah with her mother-in-law after her husband's death. Her loyalty and kindness were rewarded and forever remembered by the Jewish people because she became the great-grandmother of King David.
228.1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings. Originally the two books of Samuel and the two books of Kings were each a single book in the Hebrew Canon of the Bible, telling the history of the kingdom of Israel. Once they were translated into Greek in the Septuagint, they no longer fit on single scrolls and were expanded into four books. Samuel contains the history of the prophet Samuel—the last judge of Israel—and the stormy tale of Israel's first two kings, Saul and David.
229. The division of Kings occurred when the Book of Samuel was divided into 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel, the Book of Kings was divided into 1 Kings and 2 Kings, and the Book of Chronicles was divided into 1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles. The motivation was not spiritual but practical—the books were simply too long to keep on one scroll.
230. 1 and 2 Chronicles is the ancient Reader's Digest version of everything that had already taken place in the Bible from Genesis forward. It is abridged and simplified, with many of the nasty parts taken out. The first nine chapters contain long tables of "begats," showing the descendants of the Hebrew tribes, from Adam through the time of King David. The rest of 1 Chronicles and most of 2 Chronicles deal with the reigns of David and Solomon and the subsequent history of the kingdom of Judah until the Babylonian exile. Since these books are placed last in the Hebrew Canon, the Hebrew Scriptures end on a liberating note, with echoes of the Exodus.
231. Ezra opens with a decree of Cyrus, the king of Persia, following his capture of Babylon in 539 B.C., that those who want to may leave Babylon and return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. Founder of an extensive empire that lasted more than two hundred years, Cyrus was an extraordinary leader. Under Cyrus and his successors, much of the ancient Near East, from India to Egypt and the border of Greece, was brought under one ruler. Unlike other ancient conquerors who enforced their own religions on conquered peoples, Cyrus permitted the captive nations to preserve and restore their own institutions.
232. Nehemiah. Jerusalem was constantly raided by various marauders. Nehemiah's particular concern was the security of Jerusalem, so he returned from exile specifically to help. He organized the people and rebuilt the city walls in fifty-five days. While Ezra's role was that of a priest, Nehemiah's was that of governor. When the rebuilding was completed, Ezra was invited to rededicate the city by reading from the book of Moses. Ezra-Nehemiah make a distinctive pair of books, together recording the rebuilding of Jerusalem after the exile.
233. Esther (Hadassah in Hebrew). While Ezra-Nehemiah deal with events in Jerusalem, Esther tells of events far away. As Ruth was a vignette sketched in the period of the judges, Esther is a vignette sketched in the time of the exile. As one of the exiles, Esther finds herself in the service of the king of Persia. The king sets out to select a new queen, and the beautiful Jewish woman, Esther, is chosen. Haman, the king's right-hand man, plans to rid his country of the Jews. Through a fascinating sequence of events involving Esther, Haman's rampage against the Jews backfires. Esther retains the favor of the king and the Jewish people are saved.
234. The books of poetry. Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon make up the Bible's books of poetry. Hebrew poetry is picturesque and vivid. There is a rhythm or cadence to Hebrew poetry that is lost to some degree in the translation. It is filled with concrete images and deep emotion. It touches the soul. The books of poetry aren't just a change in style from previous books; the subject matter shifts as well. Wisdom takes center stage in these five books; therefore, they are called the "wisdom literature" of the Bible.
235. Job. Whenever the troubling question "Why do bad things happen to good people?" comes up, Job is first to come to mind. But few people ever really tackle this book that reads like the script for a play. The central characters are Job, three of his friends, a bystander, and God. The supporting cast includes Job's wife and children, the angels, and Satan as chief of the angels. The first two chapters and the last two chapters are prose, and the thirty-nine chapters in between consist of poetic dialogue between the central characters.
236. Psalms. While Jews and Christians share the entire Hebrew Scriptures, or Old Testament, Psalms is the most emotionally and intensely shared book of Hebrew Scripture. Jews know many of the psalms and individual verses by heart. Jesus often quoted or referred to the Psalms. Martin Luther called the Book of Psalms "a Bible in Miniature." The 150 "rosaries" later instituted by the Roman Catholic Church are in honor of the 150 psalms.
237. Proverbs. Some proverbs are strung together in a meaningful sequence, while others are independent of each other and need to be "unpacked" by the reader. The opening chapters of Proverbs carry extended proverbs that progress with each verse. And mostly one-liner bits of wisdom form chapters ten and following. Proverbs leaves no ambiguity over the contrast between the righteous and the wicked.
238. Ecclesiastes. If Job reads like a play, and Psalms like poetry, and Proverbs like a book of maxims, then Ecclesiastes reads like an essay, or the thoughts of an old man thinking out loud. Its subject is the vanity of life. The book approaches Job's question, but from the opposite side: If this universe is governed by a moral God, why doesn't everything make sense? The conclusion of this book's search is that regardless of any apparent vanity, fearing God and keeping his commandments is the wisest course of action.
239. Song of Solomon. Plain and simple, this book is an erotic love poem. The writing resembles Egyptian love poetry and Arabic wedding songs that praise the charm and beauty of the bride. The traditional interpretation, both in Judaism and Christianity, is that these love poems represent Yahweh's love for Israel while also establishing God's high regard for male-female love and sexuality.
[IT IS GOD’S TEXT BOOK FOR LOVE AND SEX IN MARRIAGE - Keith Hunt]
240. Isaiah opens by dating himself according to the reign of a particular king in Israel's history and then describing his visions in the form of poetry. Throughout his book, Isaiah made key references to historical markers, which keep his writings in context with the historical books. The other prophets often followed this form. Isaiah's ministry spread over the reigns of four of Judah's kings. Isaiah is quoted in the New Testament more often than any other book of prophecy.
241. Jeremiah was another firebrand prophet of the declining years of Judah. Jeremiah, whose name meant "God hurled," was born in a tiny village northeast of Jerusalem, and before long, perhaps while he was still in his teens, he was thrown into the midst of his nation's most terrifying crisis. He was a faithful prophet to God but unpopular among the people. The young Jeremiah declared that the Babylonians would destroy the nation because the children of Israel [ACTUALLY THE HOUSE OF JUDAH - THREE TRIBES - JUDAH, BENJAMIN, LEVI - Keith Hunt] had forgotten their God.
242. Lamentations is a brief book of sorrowful poems, some in the form of alphabetic acrostics, which recall the grim fate of Jerusalem following its destruction by the Babylonians in 587/6 B.C. The title is derived from the Hebrew word qinoth ("dirges" or "laments"). In Christian Old Testaments, the book is placed after Jeremiah, but it is found in the third part of the Hebrew Canon Writings. The poems are bitterly sad elegies for the "dead" city, but they express hope that God will restore a humbled and repentant Israel.
243. Ezekiel is one of the hardest books to read in the Bible. It is long, with a somber tone like Jeremiah. Its images are complex and hard to understand. Babylon besieged Israel before the capital, Jerusalem, finally fell. During those years of siege, captives were taken from the land and shipped to Babylon. Ezekiel was one of the captives. Ezekiel dealt first with the problems that caused Israel to lose her land. Second, he wanted his people to maintain hope for the future.
244. Daniel. Like Ezekiel, the Book of Daniel has some complicated images. These images add to the glorious picture of the future of Israel. The central figure in that future was the Messiah, the Jews' image of hope. The first half of the book is straightforward narrative and is the source of some of the Bible's most loved stories: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace; Daniel in the lion's den; and the story that gave rise to the saying, "You could see the handwriting on the wall."
245. Hosea is a prophet of love. Hosea's own experiences with his wayward wife, Gomer, are used as a symbol to illustrate God's pain in dealing with Israel. Like Gomer's sin, Israel's sin would be punished before there could be restoration. In the Book of Hosea, the sins of Israel are spelled out, and she is described as a "harlot." God is portrayed as a faithful and loving husband and Israel as an adulterous wife.
246. Joel's theme is "This is the day of the Lord." The day of the Lord shows up in other prophetic books as well and means a day of reckoning—a day of judgment. It refers to a time when God brings down the wicked and haughty and lifts up the humble. The day of the Lord meant destruction for some and deliverance for others. Joel spoke of a day of the Lord approaching for Israel by describing a ravaging plague of locusts.
247. Amos prophesied at about the same time as Hosea and Joel. Amos was a sheepherder from a Judean village who left his flocks to denounce the sins of his people during the time of the northern King Jeroboam II (786-744 B.C.), a prosperous time in Israel. Though a herdsman, Amos used some of the purest and most classical Hebrew in the entire Old Testament. In a style of informal satire, Amos attacked the oppression of the poor by the rich, as well as the latter's empty piety and immoral religious practices. If the people did not mend their corrupt ways, Amos warned, they would be destroyed.
248. Obadiah is the shortest book in the Old Testament—only one chapter. Like Joel, he emphasized the coming day of the Lord. He said that since all nations have a day of reckoning, it does not pay to gloat when another nation encounters misfortune. He also emphasized the often-used words of wisdom, “As you have done it, so it will be done to you."
249. Jonah. This book marks a distinct change of pace. Jonah's story is told in narrative form about how he first refused to deliver a message of warning to the great city of Nineveh, capital of Assyria. Israel's prophets often had words to deliver to surrounding nations, but Jonah had no desire to deliver a message of repentance to the enemies of his people. Jonah attempted to run away, booking passage on a ship going to Tarshish in southern Spain, the farthest-known earthly point to which a man could then travel. In the end Jonah learned a great lesson in the depth of God's mercy.
250. Micah returns to the normal poetic style of the prophets. His writings are structured in three stages: reproof, threat, and promise. Micah reminded the people of all that God had done for them in the past. He called them to obedience in the present and hopefulness for the future. He spoke to both the people of the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom.
251. Nahum. Like Jonah, Nahum was concerned with the city of Nineveh. Here there is no narrative story, but where Jonah gave us just the overview, Nahum spells out the full indictment of the city's wrongdoings. Descriptive words are piled on one another, creating rapidly moving pictures. Nahum lived long after Jonah. Nineveh's embrace of morality had ended, and Nahum warned them of their final fall.
252. Habakkuk foresaw the assault on Israel [ACTUALLY THE HOUSE OF JUDAH - THREE TRIBES - AS IT WAS BABYLON WHO TOOK JUDAH CAPTIVE - Keith Hunt] by Babylon. He admitted Israel's sin but asked why an unrighteous nation like Babylon was so worthy to conquer. There is no lengthy answer in this short book. God's response is only that the righteous will live by faith. That is, he or she will trust that all accounts are eventually settled. Once again the people were instructed to live righteously.
253. Zephaniah was a contemporary of Jeremiah. Zephaniah's prophecy came in the years immediately preceding the fall of Jerusalem. He talked of the coming day of the Lord, which for Jerusalem was right around the corner. Yet he, too, spoke of the glorious long-term future God had in mind for his people—that a remnant of God's people would survive the day of judgment.
254. Haggai and the next two prophets did their work after the remnant of Israelites [ACTUALLY HOUSE OF JUDAH - THREE TRIBES - Keith Hunt] returned from exile in Babylon. Haggai is specifically mentioned in the Book of Ezra as being among the returning exiles. Haggai's style is compact, forceful, and at times stern. Yet he encouraged the leaders and the people not to grieve over the brokenness of the nation they were rebuilding.
255. Zechariah was a coworker with Haggai. He, too, is mentioned in the Book of Ezra. His writing is considerably longer and more complex than Haggai's. This book can be divided into four sections (the first three are dated, but the last is not). He described visions, some of which are as complex as those found in Ezekiel and Daniel.
256. Malachi. The twelfth and last of the minor prophets is more proselike than poetic, with a definite plan of argument. Malachi was concerned with the morality of the priesthood in his time. You would think that with all the warning the prophets had given before the fall of Jerusalem and all the chastening Israel had experienced that the priests would be diligent about keeping up their duties. But they weren't. Malachi warned the priests who thought they would get a "free rid" that they were in for a rude awakening.
In the Beginning
257. God began it all. "In the beginning God ..." is how the first verse of the first chapter of the first book of the Bible begins. The beginning of the history of the world is chronicled with those words!
[THE CORRECT HEBREW IS PLURAL…. “IN THE BEGINNINGS” OR AS FENTON TRANSLATES “BY PERIODS GOD CREATED THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH” - Keith Hunt]
258. Elohim, which originates from the Hebrew word el, is translated as "god." The Hebrew word el actually is used for reference to all general gods. Another title of God, el elyon, is also a derivation of this and means "the most high God" (Gen. 14:18).
259. Yahweh is the only name for God that is personal in nature. A Hebrew word, it is commonly translated into English versions as "Jehovah," or "the Lord" (Exod. 6:3).
[IT IS IN HEBREW YHVH - NOBODY TODAY KNOWS HOW IT SHOULD BE PRONOUNCED, AS THE JEWS GAVE UP PRONOUNCING IT OVER 2,000 YEARS AGO - Keith Hunt]
260. When creation began. Relying on Biblical sources such as the chronologies and genealogies in Genesis, numerous people have attempted to pinpoint a time and date for the precise moment of creation. Ancient Hebrew scholars placed the moment as 3761 B.C. Perhaps the most famous creation date was the one produced by Irish bishop James Ussher (1581-1656). Using Genesis, Ussher dated the moment of creation to the early morning of the twenty-third of October in 4004 B.C. (Ussher actually used the Julian calendar year of 710). Ussher's calculation was widely accepted by European Christians for centuries and was included in the margins of many editions of the King James Bible, giving it nearly divine "authority."
[IT HAS NOW BEEN PROVED VERY FALSE - A MASSIVE ERROR. JEWISH CHRONOLOGY IS NOT THAT SIMPLE, AS “FATHER OF…” CAN MEAN GRANDFATHER, GREAT GRANDFATHER ETC. THE NATIVE INDIAN PEOPLE OF NORTH AMERICA HAVE A HISTORY OF AT LEAST 10,000 YEARS ON THIS PART OF EARTH - Keith Hunt]
261. Eden, which means "a place of delight," is believed by some scholars to have been located at the eastern end of the Fertile Crescent, near where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers meet the Persian Gulf.
262. The name "Adam" is a pun on the similar Hebrew words for "soil" and for "man." The word Adam is derived from the Hebrew word for "man" in the collective sense, as in humanity or humankind. It is also related to the Hebrew word adamah, which means "ground" or "earth." The author of Genesis used a wordplay. Adam, man, came from adamah, the ground.
263. Not an apple. Though legend has it that the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge that Eve was tempted by the serpent to taste was an apple, nowhere does the Bible identify it as one. In fact most scholars agree that the one fruit it definitely could not have been was the apple. Apples were not likely to have grown in the Bible lands in Old Testament times. However, apples were cultivated by the Egyptians, and the Romans at the time of Christ had more than twenty varieties.
264. The legend that the apple was the fruit on the tree of knowledge arose in the Middle Ages when artists painted pictures of Eve tasting the apple. Another source of confusion was the medieval custom of calling many different kinds of fruits "apples." Lemons were known as "Persian apples," dates as "finger apples," and pomegranates as "apples of Carthage."
265. Apples or apricots? The fruit meant by the Hebrew word commonly translated as "apple" was probably the apricot, which flourishes all over the Bible lands. A clue comes from Solomon, who used the same word to describe a tree: "I delight to sit in his shade, and his fruit is sweet to my taste" (Song of Sol. 2:3). Solomon seems to be describing the apricot, for even today nomads pitch their tents under its branches for shade, and it is the fruit with the sweetest taste in the Holy Land.
266. “Apples of gold in settings of silver." Proverbs appears to describe the apricot in this way (25:11). Not only is this a lovely poetic description of an apricot tree, it is also remarkably accurate. Its fruit is golden and the pale undersides of the leaves look silver when they turn in the breeze.
267. Adam and Eve. The story of creation is one of continuing wonder to believers and nonbelievers alike. Humankind had to come from somewhere, and the story told in Genesis 1 and 2 reveals how a creative, organized God spoke the world into existence.
268. The fall of man. Though Adam and Eve lived in a perfect world, they chose to disobey God and eat the forbidden fruit. Scripture is clear that such a choice led to our current situation— humankind is sinful and separated from God yet still desires peace with him.
269. The fig tree is the second tree named in the Bible. After eating the forbidden apricot, Adam and Eve "sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves" (Gen. 3:7). The large, tough leaves of the fig tree would certainly have made adequate clothing. Fig leaves are still sewn together in the Near East to make baskets, dishes, and even umbrellas.
270. Adam and Eve were banished from Eden into what the Bible describes as a land of thorns and thistles. Thorns and spines grow on many different kinds of plants, but they are especially common on plants of the desert and semiarid regions of the world. Many kinds of thistles grow abundantly in the Bible lands.
271. Adam and Eve's firstborn son, Cain, is remembered as the first murderer for killing his brother, Abel. When God sentenced Cain to wander the earth, Cain begged for mercy and, in fear, thought that someone would kill him. So God marked him. Widely viewed as a sign of guilt, the so-called "mark of Cain" is actually a symbol of divine mercy. Opponents of the death penalty point to this first murder and God's merciful sentence on the murderer as a biblical rejection of capital punishment. For his crime Cain received a life sentence of hard labor.
[GOD IS IN CHARGE AND CAN DECIDE ON AN INDIVIDUAL BASIS; BUT BY THE TIME OF MOSES, GOD DID GIVE LAWS THAT CARRIED THE DEATH PENALTY; I.E. ADULTERY; THEN WE SEE THAT NOTHING IS REALLY SET IN STONE PER SE, FOR GOD FORGAVE DAVID’S ADULTERY UPON REPENTANCE, YET THERE STILL WAS A MIGHTY LARGE PENALTY GIVEN TO HIM - Keith Hunt]
272. Who were the Nephilim? Squeezed between the generation after Adam and the time of Noah is a curious story (Gen. 6:1-4) about the mysterious "Nephilim," briefly described as the offspring of the "sons of God." Echoing tales of Greek gods who mated with mortal women, the Biblical passage calls the offspring of the angelic-human marriages "heroes of old, men of renown." They are only mentioned once more in Hebrew Scriptures, where Nephilim literally translates as "the fallen ones." Many believe they were giants possessing superhuman powers.
[THE IDEA THAT DEMONS OR FALLEN ANGELS MATED WITH PHYSICAL WOMEN IS ONE OF THER BIGGEST HOG-WASH LIES OF SATAN. ANGELS WERE NEVER CREATED TO REPRODUCE, JESUS SAID SO IN THE GOSPELS. I HAVE A FULL STUDY ON THIS TOPIC AS IT WAS SO NEEDED; I MEAN TO THINK THAT FALLEN ANGELS COULD MATE WITH WOMEN IS GROSS AND FRIGHTENING, ESPECIALLY FOR WOMEN. BACK IN GENESIS 6 AND AFTER, THERE NO DOUBT WAS SOME CLANS OF PEOPLE THAT WERE JUST EXTREMELY TALL, AS THERE ARE PIGMIES WHO ARE EXTREMELY SHORT - Keith Hunt]
273. Some early theologians thought the Nephilim were fallen angels who were responsible for sin in the world. Whoever these "sons of God" and their children were, God was not happy with the situation. He limited human life spans to 120 years. People became so wicked that God was sorry he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him. "So the Lord said, 'I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground and birds of the air—for I am grieved that I have made them.' But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord" (Gen. 6:5-8).
[MOST JUST READ RIGHT PASSED THIS, AND DO NOT SEE THAT IT IS OBVIOUS GOD HAD WILLED HIMSELF TO NOT KNOW HOW EVIL MANKIND COULD BECOME - Keith Hunt]
274. Noah and the ark. Genesis chapters 6 through 9 tell the story of people becoming thoroughly evil and God's judgment against them by sending forty days and nights of continual rainfall. At the same time, he worked through one faithful man, Noah, to build an ark and preserve a faithful remnant so that humankind could continue. The story of judgment and mercy resonates through the ages.
275. Famous Renaissance artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) was surprised to discover the fossilized remains of sea creatures while walking in the Alps, and he asked how they got there. The conventional wisdom of his day simply said it was proof that a flood once covered the earth.
[THERE WAS A FLOOD THAT COVERED THE EARTH BUT IT WAS NOT IN THE DAYS OF NOAH….. IT WAS IN GENESIS 1:2 WHEN WE ARE BROUGHT ON THE SCENE WHERE THE EARTH WAS COVERED WITH WATER. FULL STUDIES ON THIS MATTER ARE ON THIS WEBSITE - Keith Hunt]
276. Almost every ancient culture has some sort of flood or deluge myth that shares much in common with the Biblical flood. In most of them the gods send a catastrophic flood to destroy the world, but one good man is told of the coming disaster and his family is saved to continue human existence. The one most like Noah's story comes from the Babylonian Gilgamesh epic. In this story, the hero, Utnapishtim, also survives the flood by building a boat, which comes to rest on Mount Nisir, which is in the same region as Noah's "mountains of Ararat."
[OF COURSE MOST OF THE PEOPLE ON EARTH WERE IN THE REGION WHERE NOAH LIVED, SO STORIES OF A FLOOD WOULD ABOUND AS PEOPLE MOVED AFTER NOAH’S TIME, AND WHEN GOD SCATTERED THE PEOPLE AND CONFOUNDED THEIR LANGUAGE INTO MANY DIFFERENT LANGUAGES - Keith Hunt]
277. Noah made his ark of "gopher wood" (Gen. 6:14), which probably meant the cypress tree. This wood is extremely durable. The doors of Saint Peter's in Rome are made from it and after twelve hundred years they still show no signs of decay.
278. The Bible does not list all of the animals that took refuge on the ark. However, those animals that survived the flood must have been the ones that were best known to the Hebrews and also those mentioned most often in the Bible through symbolism or otherwise.
279. The first bird Noah released was a raven, a powerful flier able to slice through the air or soar with the ease of a hawk on wings that span up to four feet. Its habitat is the mountain wilderness, and so it was just the bird to scout out any crags that might have emerged from the flooded earth. The raven is noted for its remarkable memory, so this scout would not forget the location of the ark.
280. When the raven failed to give Noah any sign of land, Noah sent out a dove. ("Doves" and "pigeons," by the way, refer to the same birds.) The rock dove was one of the earliest of all animals to be domesticated. There are Egyptian records, dating back five thousand years, of people rearing them in captivity for food and probably also as carrier pigeons.
281. Very fast fliers, the strong wings of doves make them capable of powerful flight in a straight line, despite storms and high winds. After at least five thousand years of using doves and pigeons to carry messages, we are still not certain how a pigeon "homes"— finds its way back to its roost—as the biblical dove found its way back to the ark.
282. The second time Noah sent out the dove, it returned before evening with an olive leaf. This was evidence that the waters had subsided enough to expose the valleys where olive trees grow. The olive was the most important tree cultivated in the Holy Land, it is native only to the lands bordering the Mediterranean Sea.
[THIS ALSO TELLS US THE FLOOD OF NOAH’S DAY WAS NOT A BLASTING AND VIOLET WATERS; TREES COULD SURVIVE. IT WAS THE FLOOD OF GENESIS 1:2 THAT WAS UNBELIEVABLY VIOLENT; MANY “STRATA” WERE LAID DOWN; ANIMALS MOVED FROM HERE TO THERE, SOME COVERED AND FROZEN WHILE STILL EATING; COAL AND OIL BEDS FORMED UNDER GREAT PRESSURE, AS ALSO DIAMONDS. IT WAS THE TIME WHEN THE DINOSAUR AGE CAME TO AN END - Keith Hunt]
283. The story of Noah and the ark yields some interesting analysis as a type of Christ. The ark itself is a type of Christ! God gave Noah every detail of how it was to be built, from its dimensions to its purpose in protecting Noah and his family from the judgment that awaited the rest of the world. Likewise, God planned every minute detail of how Jesus would redeem God's people; not a single detail was left to man. As the big boat brought earthly salvation for Noah, so Christ brings eternal salvation for all who believe in him. As the ark had but one door, so Christ is the door to God—he is the only way we can gain forgiveness for our sins and come to the Father.
284. The families of Noah's sons "had one language and a common speech" (Gen. 11:1). Babel was the original name for Babylon, which in Hebrew means "gate of God." Situated on the southern part of the flood plain between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, Babylon was the site where builders attempted to erect a tower "that reaches to the heavens" (Gen. 11:4). The builders never completed the tower because their language became confused and they could no longer understand one another.
285. With the destruction of the tower of Babel, the Bible's story of the early history of humankind ends. Abraham, the great patriarch of the Hebrews, is a descendant of Noah's son Shem. Abraham was the man to whom God promised, "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great" (Gen. 12:2).
286. Abram is the earliest Biblical character who can be connected, rather remotely and speculatively, to recorded world history. There is still no specific proof of this individual outside of the Bible, but these are the first clues that the Biblical world he lived in was the world as history knows it.
287. In the Biblical list of Abraham's ancestors (Gen. 11:10-26), many family names are the same as those of several towns around Haran. Abraham's relatives either took their names from the towns where they lived or were important enough to give their names to these towns. Abraham's father, Terah, who is said to have worshiped idols for several years (Josh. 24:2), moved his family from Ur to Haran. Terah lived there until he died at the age of 205.
288. Habiru (or "Hebrew") was a word of disparagement, probably meaning "the dusty ones." It did not refer to the Hebrew people in particular but rather to all the land-hungry Semites who led a nomadic life. In the Book of Genesis (14:13), Abraham is called "the Hebrew," and so this general name was finally limited to his descendants.
289. Abraham's journey southward from Haran led through the entire length of Canaan, through the Negeb Desert to Egypt, and finally northward again to the Promised Land. His caravans were not like the camel caravans seen today in the deserts of the Near East, it is possible that until he reached Egypt he traveled on foot, with no beasts of burden except perhaps a few donkeys.
290. Abram was given his new name, Abraham, when God came to him in his ninety-ninth year. At that time he had one son. The new name meant "father of many nations." Abraham must have been puzzled over how God would bring him into a full understanding of his new name with but one child when he was already quite old.
291. After Lot chose to travel to the lower Jordan Valley, he settled near the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. These cities were destroyed by what the Bible calls "brimstone and fire" (Gen. 19:24 KJV) . No one knows for sure when the last volcanic eruption took place in the Holy Land, but it may have been as recently as the Middle Ages. Geologists can see clear evidence that the Jordan Valley has been a center of volcanism in the past.
292. The remains of the Twin Cities of Sin have never been found. Myth has it that they lie buried beneath the Dead Sea. This theory may provide an explanation of why the Dead Sea area is rich in bitumen, or tar, supposedly left after the destructive "fire and brimstone." Bitumen was used in the Egyptian mummification process. Bitumen was also used for "tarring" houses and was one of the key trade items in this area.
293. The Sodom and Gomorrah story has always been useful as a moral tale of God destroying evil. But a subtext to the story has been even more influential, it is all about the sin to which the name Sodom is attached. This story has always been cited as one of the basic Biblical injunctions against homosexuality.
[IT IS INDEED A VERY OPEN UPFRONT ACCOUNT OF GOD HATING THE PRACTICE OF HOMOSEXUALITY AND LESBIANISM, WHICH WOULD ALSO TELL US ABOUT WHAT HE THINKS OF SAME SEX MARRIAGE, AND OF COURSE OTHER SEX SINS THAT ARE COMMON TODAY - Keith Hunt]
294. Abraham was given a covenant child as was promised to him by the three angels who visited and prophesied of the event. Sarah delivered a healthy infant son and they called him Isaac. He was a miracle—his mother was in her nineties and his father was one hundred!
295. Hagar was the servant of Sarah, Abraham's wife. She had become pregnant by Abraham and bore Ishmael. Sarah was jealous and treated her poorly and eventually Hagar was sent into the wilderness of Beersheba when Isaac was born. But God protected Hagar and her son and raised them up to be their own people. They were under Abraham's covenant, but Ishmael was not the promised son who would continue the lineage of the Hebrews.
296. The sacrifice of Isaac. God called Abraham to follow him to a far land and promised to make his family a great nation. Yet when Abraham finally had a son in his old age, the Lord asked him to sacrifice the boy on Mount Moriah. Instead of a pagan practice, it was a test of faith—God intervened to stop the sacrifice and provided a ram to sacrifice in the boy's place. Then, praising Abraham's faith, God promised to bless all nations through his offspring.
297. The story of Abraham's unshakable faith while offering Isaac is a central moment in the Bible. To many people it seems an unnecessarily cruel test of faith. Abraham doesn't even make the arguments for his own son that he made for the citizens of Sodom. His wife, Sarah, is silent in this episode, and Isaac's thoughts are not available to us either.
298. When God stays Abraham's hand. The passage says that Abraham "fears" God. The "fear of God" is a commonly used expression today. The Hebrew verb for "fear" can be understood two ways. Occasionally it meant being afraid, but very often the Biblical "fear" meant awe or reverence for someone of exalted position. Abraham was not necessarily "afraid" of God as much as he held God in profound respect.
299. The Bible notes that Abraham was "very rich in cattle" (Gen. 13:2 KJV), and he is often described as having flocks and herds. In the early books of the Bible, however, the word cattle is believed to usually refer to sheep and goats rather than to cows.
300. Throughout the history of the Hebrews, even after they became a mighty nation under kings as in the glittering court of Solomon, the simple life of the shepherd was remembered and upheld as the most desirable existence.
301. After Sarah died at age 127, Abraham buried her in a cave in Hebron. He purchased the burial land from the local people, the Hittites, and the verses elaborately explain the great measures Abraham took to stake a legal claim to this land. This passage is one of the oldest recorded real estate deals, a legal confirmation of possession of land that had already been divinely promised.
302. After Sarah died, Abraham decided to marry again and took another wife, Keturah. She birthed six more of Abraham's children. These were the ancestors of other Arabic tribes including the Midianites, who play a role in the story of Moses. When Abraham died at age 175, he was buried alongside Sarah in the cave on the site he had purchased at Hebron.
303. Isaac's name meant "laughter." He was the second patriarch. Isaac married Rebekah and they had two sons, Jacob and Esau, who were twins. They were never close brothers and had few similar interests. Esau was the older of the two and was a hunter. Jacob was closer to his mother and appeared crafty and the smarter of the two.
304. The classic story of how Jacob gained the birthright, the right to all the blessings of the firstborn son, is a story of true deceit, yet it was prophetic that Jacob gained the upper hand. God had said the "older will serve the younger." Both were ultimately blessed by God, but Jacob did use trickery to con his aged father into giving him the blessing by pretending to be Esau after getting Esau to sell his birthright for a bowl of stew.
305. Wrestling with God. The life of Jacob contains a number of interesting stories that make him appear more a scoundrel than a patriarch. He cheated his brother Esau and tricked his father. How ever, one of the strangest stories occurs in Genesis 32. While wrestling with Him all night. After having his hip torn from his socket, Jacob told the man that he would continue wrestling until he was blessed. With that God changed Jacob's name to Israel, which means “wrestles with God.”
[THIS WAS INDEED LITERAL; NO REASON TO TAKE IT ANY OTHER WAY, AS GOD DID APPEAR AS A MAN AT OTHER TIMES WITH OTHER PEOPLE; IT IS WRITTEN MOSES TALKED WITH GOD AS FACE TO FACE - Keith Hunt]
306. Jacob married two sisters, Rachel and Leah. Through deceit on the girls' father's part, Jacob ended up being tricked on his wedding night. Jacob served Laban for seven years for Laban's younger daughter, Rachel. The morning after the wedding, Jacob found he had married Leah, Laban's older daughter, instead! Laban agreed to give him Rachel, too, in exchange for another seven years of service.
[THE ACCOUNT DOES NOT SAY JACOB HAD TO SERVE AND WAIT FOR ANOTHER SEVEN YEAR; IT IS WRITTEN “FULFIL HER WEEK” AND RACHEL SHALL BE YOURS FOR ANOTHER 7 YEARS OF SERVICE. “WEEK” AND “7 YEARS” ARE NOT THE SAME. A KIND OF HONEYMOON WEEK WITH LEAH, THEN HE COULD HAVE RACHEL UPON 7 MORE YEARS OF SERVICE - Keith Hunt]
307. Eventually the two sisters and their two maids produced twelve sons, who would become the twelve tribes of Israel. They were Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin. Throughout the story of Jacob's life, God was with him. As long as Jacob remained obedient to God, he was blessed. The history of Israel would go on (and on!) all the way through the New Testament and the birth of a Savior from these early roots.
308. Before leaving the place of her birth, Rachel stole her father's "household gods." These small "household gods" were idols, typical of the cults in Canaan and elsewhere in Mesopotamia. Small statues of fertility symbols, they were placed in the homes. Laban caught up to Jacob's caravan and began to search for the idols. When Laban came to search Rachel's tent, she sat on a saddlebag which held her father's gods, telling them she was menstruating and couldn't get up. This story would have been told by the Israelites with derisive mockery as Rachel sat on the idols in her time of "uncleanness."
309. The story of Joseph's "coat of many colors" remains a favorite of many people. Joseph was the gifted son, the one who had found favor with God. He was also his father's favorite son, much to the chagrin of most of the other brothers. Jacob made Joseph the heir, even though he was the second to the youngest! He was a bold young man and his brothers eventually sold him into slavery in Egypt.
310. God never forgot Joseph, however. Eventually this young man who saw visions and could interpret dreams would make him self useful to Pharaoh himself! He would become a chief minister of Egypt and would be reunited with his family in their time of need during a drought affecting the whole land.
311. Elaborate court records survive of many of the Pharaohs before and after the presumed time of Joseph. But none of them mentions a Semite slave becoming a high official who had helped save Egypt in a time of extraordinary famine. Periodic drought and famine were not unusual in ancient times, and several were recorded, although none exactly match the Biblical scenario. So we do not know who Joseph's Pharaoh was.
312. Joseph had two sons: Manasseh and Ephraim. The brothers were born in Egypt and would eventually be blessed by Jacob. As had happened in Joseph's own experience, God blessed the younger, Ephraim, more than the older brother, Manasseh. God's blessing continued to fall on those who were not expecting the bulk of it.
313. They all remained in Egypt and lived happily there until the whole generation of Joseph and his brothers passed away. Then they were oppressed by the Egyptians and used as slaves. The Egyptians feared the great numbers of Hebrew people being born and even demanded that the midwives kill the newborn males.
314. Moses was another miracle. He should have been killed as many of the other male infants were, but he was saved by God for a special purpose. His mother floated him down the Nile in a basket made of reeds, and he was eventually taken into the palace by the royalty of Egypt. Moses would grow up to be a great man of God and the hero of the early Israelites.
315. Egyptian texts confirm that about the time Moses became angered at seeing an Egyptian overseer beating a Hebrew worker, the Hebrews were engaged in dragging stones for temples built by Pharaoh Ramses II. The Bible says Moses killed the overseer and fled into the desert wilderness of the Sinai Peninsula where he would later see the bush that "burned with fire."
316. Moses—or Moshe in Hebrew—is the central human figure in the Hebrew Bible, the great lawbringer, and for Christians, the symbolic model for Jesus. Moses was saved after a king ordered the Jewish babies killed; Jesus was saved after a king ordered Jewish babies to be killed. Moses parted the waters; Jesus walked on the waters. Moses spent forty years in the wilderness; Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness. Moses went to a mountain and gave a sermon; Jesus gave a sermon on the mount. Moses delivered the covenant; Jesus delivered the new covenant.
317. Aaron was Moses' older brother. He was a good speaker (Moses was not) and was sent by God to help Moses ask Pharoah to let the Israelites go. He served as the first high priest of Israel. He and Moses were the leaders of the exile from Egypt.
318. The escape from Egypt. Moses went before Pharaoh and demanded that his people be set free. The story of Moses—who was miraculously saved and raised as royalty, then lost his position due to immature violence, only to be called by God to greatness—is a wonderful riches-to-rags-to-riches story. The plagues, the escape, and the parting of the Red Sea make it one of the most-told stories of all time.
319. ”The Song of Miriam," a victory chant led by the sister of Moses after the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, is thought to be one of the oldest poetic verses in Hebrew Scriptures:
"I will sing to the Lord,
for he is highly exalted.
The horse and its rider
he has hurled into the sea."
320. The "Aaronic benediction" was given by God to Aaron. This extremely ancient blessing is still widely used in temples and churches today among both Jews and Christians:
"The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace."
321. God brought his people out of Egypt and they settled in the desert. The Israelites, as they had come to be called, didn't always trust God as they should. They constantly forgot what a miracle their escape from Egypt was. As a result they suffered some difficult times and were eventually forbidden to go into the Promised Land God had for them until the entire first generation of people died off.
322. A flakelike stuff as fine as frost, called manna, appeared each morning on the surface of the ground in the desert. When the ancient Israelites first encountered this miraculous provision of food from God in the desert, they asked, "What is it?!" And the name stuck. So "manna," the word the Israelites used to call the stuff on the ground, meant "whatchamacallit."
323. The Great Commandment. "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength" (Deut. 6:4-5). This is the Shema, the most commonly spoken prayer in Judaism, also traditionally called the "Great Commandment." Many Christians know it in the form that Jesus used in Mark 12:29.
324. From out of Canaan. As the Israelites approached the borders of the Promised Land, Moses sent out scouts who reported giants in the land. The scouts were frightened and they returned to the camp carrying clusters of grapes and pomegranates as proof that they had at least entered the land of Canaan.
The Israelite Adventure
325. Freed at last, the Israelites set about making a temple in which to worship God. The tabernacle was their first place of worship. Very explicit instructions were given for how it was to be built (Exodus 26). Inside the tabernacle, which was a giant tent, were several rooms, including the Most Holy Place and the curtain separating that section from the Holy Place. The tabernacle was 75 feet by 150 feet in diameter.
326. The tent of the tabernacle was covered with badger skins. These skins are mentioned several times in the Old Testament. They were highly valued and were listed along with gold, jewels, and other precious objects. Most badger pelts were extremely durable and tough, making excellent waterproofing material for the tabernacle.
327. The ark of the covenant was the single most important object in the history of ancient Israel, though it disappeared from the Bible without mention. It was first housed in the tabernacle. After Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 B.C. the fate of the ark was never discussed. It was a huge chest that contained the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments. Above the chest stretched the wings of two cherubim.
328. Offerings of all sorts were an important part of worshiping as an Israelite. Leviticus details the necessary sacrifices for the burnt offering, sin offering, grain offering, fellowship offering, guilt offering, and others.
329. The Israelites had many hostile enemies on all sides— Philistines, Assyrians, Babylonians, Moabites, and so on. These enemies were given over at times into the Israelites' hands, but at other times God allowed them to overrun the Israelites. Throughout their history they experienced peace and prosperity as well as hardship and exile.
330. Out of the mouth of donkeys. Threatened by the Israelites, the king of Moab asked a magician named Balaam to come to Moab and put a curse on the Israelites. So the Mesopotamian wizard saddled up his donkey and went to help King Balak. As Balaam was riding down the road, the donkey saw an angel of the Lord and refused to move. Unable to see the angel, Balaam struck the donkey. Finally the donkey turned around and asked the magician, "What have I done to you that you have struck me three times?" God then opened Balaam's eyes and he saw the angel blocking the road. The heavenly messenger then gave Balaam specific instructions. Instead of cursing Israel, the magician gave his blessing (Numbers 22-23).
331. Sihon was a king of the Amorites. He refused the Israelites access to the Promised Land (it would have taken them through his land) and even marched against God's people. God allowed the Israelites to defeat Sihon and then take his territory. Throughout history God delivered many enemies into their hands.
332. Rahab is a famous woman of the Bible. Though a prostitute in the city of Jericho, she understood the power of the Israelites and rightly attributed it to God. When two spies came to study the city, she protected them by hiding them in her home. They escaped through her window, promising not to harm her and her family if she would leave a scarlet cord tied in her window (Joshua 2). Later she would be taken into the Israelites' people and even marry and become part of the lineage of Jesus Christ!
333. At least six cities west of the Jordan were destroyed approximately thirty-two hundred years ago, when the invasion under Joshua was taking place. Even a written record from Egypt exists dating from that time that tells of a pharaoh's dealings with "the people of Israel" in Canaan.
334. After the crossing of the Jordan, twelve river stones were set in a pile at Gilgal. The first Passover in the Promised Land was celebrated there and a mass circumcision was performed with flint knives because all the men born in the wilderness had not been circumcised. That is why Gilgal means "Hill of the Foreskins" (Joshua 5).
335. Joshua became the leader of the Israelites after Moses died. It was under his authority that the people at last crossed over into Canaan. He served God and was revered by the people, but he too failed at times and disobeyed God. He is perhaps most remembered for his part in the battle of Jericho.
336. The battle of Jericho is one of the most miraculous demonstrations of God's power to the Israelites as they became a new nation. The Israelites were instructed to march around Jericho one time each day for six days. The priests were to carry rams' horns at the front of the army. On the seventh day the priests were instructed to blow the trumpets. Then the people were all to shout. God promised Joshua that the walls would then collapse and the men would be able to go inside the city walls and take the city. And it happened just as the angel promised Joshua it would (Joshua 6).
337. Some of the Israelites continued to disobey God in spite of the intensity of his miracles. Achan was one such case. During the battle of Jericho, he took some of the prized gold and other precious items that belonged to God and kept them for himself. As a result the Israelites lost their next battle (Joshua 7). God punished his people repeatedly for disobeying his commands. He is ever the faithful Father, yet he is a righteous God who demands obedience.
338. Once the Israelites were established in Canaan, they were governed by judges, people who had usually been warriors first. God gave his people strong leaders to follow, but they didn't always do so. The Book of Judges tells of the difficulties they suffered when they did not obey God.
339. After Joshua died, it wasn't long before the Israelites "did what was evil in the sight of the Lord." The Israelites were soon mesmerized by the Canaanite gods: Baal, Astarte, and Asherah. It is believed that the Torah laws relating to lewd and perverse sexual practices were in response to Canaanite sexual practices.
340. Othniel was the first judge. When the Israelites began worshiping these Canaanite gods, God allowed Cushan-Rishathaim, a Syrian king, to overcome them. They were ruled over by the Syrians for eight years. As soon as Israel repented of their sins, God led Othniel to raise up an army to defend Israel. They defeated the Syrians handily. Othniel ruled Israel for forty years after that (Judg. 3:9-11).
341. Ehud is perhaps the most famous left-handed warrior in history. The Israelites had been ruled by the Moabites for some time. When Ehud, a Benjamite judge, went to pay taxes to King Eglon, he hid a sword under his cloak. Since Ehud was left-handed, and few if any people (evidently) drew swords with that hand, the king didn't suspect anything when Ehud drew his sword. He swiftly killed the king and then defeated the other Moabites. Then he continued to rule as a judge, and the Israelites lived in peace for many years (Judg. 3:15-30).
342. Shamgar was made judge after Ehud died. By then Israel had turned again from God and was under the power of the Canaanites and the Philistines. It was a difficult time in the history of Israel. The people were under Jabin's rule, and he was a harsh Canaanite king. Shamgar fought back and killed six hundred Philistines with a single metal-tipped stick called an oxgoad (Judg. 3:31). He could not stop Jabin, however.
343. The two most famous military heroines mentioned in the Old Testament are Deborah and Jael, and they both had a hand in the same victory. God spoke through Deborah to tell the general, Barak, how to defeat the Canaanites, including their king, Jabin. Barak agreed to attack, but wanted Deborah to go with him into the battle. She did and the enemies were defeated.
344. Sisera was a king of Canaan. He fought hard against Israel, but his nine hundred iron chariots were no match for the rain God sent. As a result the chariots were stuck in the mud and God gave Sisera and his people over to the Israelites.
345. Jael became a hero of the Israelites, though she herself was a Kenite. Hers was a peaceful tribe that lived comfortably near the Israelites, thanks to her ties to Moses' father-in-law, Jethro. Jael would eventually kill Sisera when he sought refuge with her family. She lulled him to sleep in a tent and then hammered a peg through his head (Judges 4).
346. Barak and Deborah ruled over Israel in peace for forty years. Deborah is also famous for her victory song, a portion of which is here:
"When the princes in Israel take the lead,
when the people willingly offer themselves—
praise the Lord! . . . So may all your enemies perish, O Lord!
But may they who love you be like the sun
when it rises in its strength."
Judges 5:2, 31
347. Gideon is one of the most famous judges. His victory over the Midianites was a testimony to his faith in God and his obedience to what God had ordered him to do. God told Gideon to send away all of the men who were planning to fight except for three hundred in order to show that God would take care of the people. Gideon obeyed, and God delivered the Midianites into the Israelites' hands. Later young Gideon became a judge. He was faithful to God almost to the very end. He was blessed with seventy sons (Judges 6-8).
348. Hardly the image of a judge, and the illegitimate son of a prostitute, Jephthah was an outcast from his father's family and became an outlaw, an ancient Hebrew "Robin Hood." He is known as the one who, after asking for God's help, made a terrible vow: He promised to sacrifice whoever greeted him if he was victorious. After he won the battle against the Ammonites, he was greeted by his own daughter, who was then sacrificed (Judges 10-11).
[IT MAY NOT HAVE HAPPENED THAT WAY AS IS POPULARLY TAUGHT; IT MAY HAVE TO DO WITH HER BEING A VIRGIN ALL HER LIFE - Keith Hunt]
349. The Philistines, the so-called "Sea Peoples" of the Mediterranean, eventually settled on the southern coast of Canaan, in what is now the area around Gaza. From this coastal base, the Philistines pressed inland and collided with the Israelite tribes who were spreading themselves down from the hill country toward the coast. The well-organized military force of the Philistines and their considerable use of iron were a major threat to the Israelites.
350. Samson is perhaps the most famous judge of all time.
He was not the most faithful of all judges; he was proud and did not heed God's word. He was lured into trusting Delilah, a woman paid by the Philistines to find out the secret of his immense strength. Samson would routinely kill large numbers of Philistines, thereby protecting the Israelites. Delilah easily charmed the secret out of him, using her wiles, and Samson's hair was cut. He was taken captive, blinded, and forced to stay in chains in a Philistine dungeon (Judges 13-16).
351. Yet God heard Samson's final request: Samson prayed for one last chance to serve God and punish the Philistines. God granted his wish with a miracle of amazing proportions. Samson was led into the Philistine temple to be mocked by many Philistines one night. The Philistines put him between two pillars of the temple. Samson pushed with the strength that God had granted him. The temple toppled over and killed the Philistines as well as himself (Judg. 16:23-30).
352. Also living during the time of the Judges were Ruth and Boaz. Ruth was a Moabite, but she moved to Bethlehem to be with her mother-in-law after they both lost their husbands. Ruth was accepted and married Boaz, a good and faithful man, and they were blessed with children and a happy life. Their story is yet another demonstration of how God works to bring people into his plan and to further their joy. Ruth and Boaz were the great-grandparents of King David.
[THE ACCOUNT TAKES PACE IN THE LAND THAT ONCED BELONGED TO THE MOABITES, BUT WAS BY THIS TIME BELONGING TO ISRAEL, YET STILL CALLED THE LAND OF MOAB. IT WOULD BE LIKE NEW MEXICO ONCE BELONGED TO MEXICO, BUT NOW IT BELONGS TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. AND OFTEN PARTS OF ISRAEL LOST CONNECTION WITH THE TRUE WAYS OF GOD; THEN SOME WOULD DESIRE TO FIND IT; SUCH ACCOUNTS FOR THE WAY RUTH TALKED - Keith Hunt]
353. Samuel was the last judge of Israel and also served as a prophet. He was born to childless parents after his mother, Hannah, promised to dedicate a child to God to serve him in the temple. God heard her prayer. Samuel was a mighty figure of Israel and helped put the first kings of the nation on the throne.
354. Saul was the first king of Israel. He was anointed by the prophet Samuel. He was known to be very tall and majestic of frame. God blessed Saul as long as he was obedient to God and listened to Samuel. But Saul fell away from God and suffered an unhappy ending. He became proud and jealous of David, a young man who was loyal to him and served him in battle and also on a personal level. God did not allow Saul's sins to go unpunished. During a battle, Saul and many of his family were lost; Saul killed himself in order to avoid being captured.
355. On witches. God told Moses, "Do not allow a sorceress (female witch) to live." King Saul visited a medium at Endor, disregarding the forbidden practice. She summoned up the spirit of the dead Samuel, who had bad news for Saul: He and his sons and the Israelites would fall to the Philistines in battle. The predictions came true as Jonathan and two of Saul's other sons were killed. Saul fell on his sword with the help of his armor-bearer.
356. David, the youngest son of Jesse, was anointed by Samuel to be the second king of Israel when he was only a shepherd boy. He was a faithful witness to God's amazing love and found much joy and happiness as both a warrior and a king. Yet he, too, sinned and was punished. But he came back to God and was forgiven. David was also a famous poet—many of the Psalms were written by him.
357. David's defeat of Goliath was his first step toward the throne and away from the fields of sheep he normally watched over. The battle pitted the underdog (a shepherd boy named David) against a mighty warrior (the Philistine Goliath). Though trained soldiers were afraid to fight the giant, David's simple faith made him courageously step forward and kill the giant using a stone thrown from a sling. The stone hit Goliath in the forehead, knocking him down. David then cut the giant's head off with his own sword. The Philistine armies fled, and David's career as a leader of Israel was born (1 Samuel 17).
Poetry of Kings
358. Job is never identified as a Jew, and he wasn't a king, but his book fits with the poetic books of both King David and King Solomon. Job is thought to have lived in the Arabian Desert, somewhere between Babylon and the Holy Land. Interestingly, he was the great naturalist of the Old Testament, and he displayed a deep knowledge and an observant eye for the world around him. "Speak to the earth and it shall teach thee," he advises (Job 12:8 KJV). He followed his own advice because he describes precisely the habits of mammals, the way of birds, the patterns in the skies, the rains and the floods. He speaks knowingly of the various trees that grow along the streams, from the papyrus in the marshes to the thorny shrubs of the desert.
359. A keen watcher of the skies. In chapter 9 Job refers to "Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south" (KJV). He was aware that the stars are not scattered at random in the night sky but are fixed in unchanging patterns, one of which is the Zodiac. The Zodiac is an imaginary belt across the sky consisting of twelve groups of stars—constellations, or "chambers," as Job called them—through which the sun and moon seem to pass. Each constellation appeared to the ancients to represent the figure of some animal or a mythical being usually associated with animals.
360. ”Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest" (KJV) . David, weighed down by his duties, must have wished he could take flight from his tasks. He might have selected almost any bird to express this wish in Psalm 55, yet he chose the dove for a particular reason. The former shepherd knew that while most birds can fly, only doves can take off with a sudden burst of speed and sustain their powerful flight for a long distance.
361. David was more than a great warrior. He was a musician who played the eight-stringed harplike instrument known as the lyre. He was also a great poet who composed about half of the Psalms. David used many descriptions of animals, birds, and plant life in the Psalms to portray poetic images.
362. Was he a lover or a fighter? David's eye for beauty included a passion for women as well as nature. As was the custom, many of David's wives and concubines were the result of political maneuvers that expanded and secured David's kingdom territory.
363. The habits of the Palestinian house sparrow were so well known that Psalm 102 uses it as a symbol of desolation: "I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top" (KJV). Here is an intentional contradiction, for it is difficult to visualize a lone sparrow. House sparrows are highly gregarious birds; they seek food in large flocks and at night they group in protected places, such as under the roof eaves of buildings. This psalm's unlikely picture of a single sparrow evokes a feeling of utter loneliness and abandonment.
364. ”I am like a pelican of the wilderness" (KJV). Also found in Psalm 102, this too is David's lament. The white pelican is abundant around the inland lakes and rivers of Africa and Eurasia where it preys on fish, but many Bible readers have wondered what the pelican was doing in the wilderness. In the Bible the word wilderness refers to any unpopulated place, such as a mountain, desert, or marsh. Pelicans are often found living in the deserts of the Bible lands, so long as there is an inland lake within flying distance.
365. The shortest psalm (117) has just two verses and the longest psalm is just two psalms later (119). It is also the longest chapter in the Bible, and longer than some whole Bible books—such as Obadiah, Philemon, and Jude.
366. It appears that this collection was begun as something of a hymnbook for temple worship in Jerusalem. Words such as selah, maskil, and miktam are found throughout the book to give direction to those who would speak or chant these psalms in public worship.
367. The Book of Psalms is really five different books of songs and poems; all connect our relationship to God. Book 1 includes Psalms 1—41; book 2 is Psalms 42-72; book 3 includes Psalms 73-89; book 4 has Psalms 90-106; and book 5 has Psalms 107-150.
368. Acrostic poems are found throughout Jewish literature. Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible, is an acrostic poem— every new stanza begins with the successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Psalm 112 is similar, with each line beginning with the next letter of the alphabet. This was not only poetic, but also aided in the memorization of the psalm.
369. The Penitential Psalms is the title given to seven psalms that express deep repentance over sin: Psalm 7, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 143. All but two are attributed to King David—most notably Psalm 51, which is his lament over committing adultery with Bathsheba.
370. The Messianic Psalms are Old Testament psalms that relate information about the coming Messiah. They were generally quoted by the Lord Jesus or the New Testament writers in reference to him. These include Psalm 22, 40, 41, 45, 69, 72, and 118.
371. The Psalms of Ascent are the songs that were sung by Jewish pilgrims as they traveled upward from the surrounding areas of Palestine to the city of Jerusalem for festivals. The songs tell of looking up to the hills, seeing the walls of Jerusalem, and observing the many people gathering together to worship. They end with a joyous shout of praise as the pilgrims finally arrive at the gates of the temple.
372. The Philistines held a monopoly on the manufacture of iron, and in this way they exerted control over the Israelites. The Philistines jealously guarded the secrets of the complicated smelting process, and they prevented the Israelites from stocking up on iron swords and shields by not allowing them to have smiths in their territory. Only after the first two kings of Israel, Saul and David, defeated the Philistines did the metal come into common use. The Israelites then learned the techniques of iron-making. Even the Hebrew words for "knife" and "helmet" came from the Philistines.
373. The conquest of the city of Jebus was one of David's victories. He changed the name to Jerusalem, which means "City of Peace." Jerusalem is situated on a limestone ridge about twenty-five hundred feet above sea level. To the south and west is the valley of Hinnom (or Gehenna), which was used to burn refuse. By New Testament times Gehenna had become a symbol for hell, probably because of the fires constantly burning there.
374. Solomon became king in the year 961 B.C. and reigned for thirty-nine years. The name Solomon is derived from the Hebrew word for "peace," and Solomon indeed lived up to his name. Under his reign Jerusalem became one of the most important cities in the Near East.
375. Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived; he was "wiser than all men" (1 Kings 4:31 KJV). God had asked him what he wanted more than anything, and Solomon asked for wisdom in order to better rule the people of Israel. His wisdom was unsurpassed, and the people lived very well under his rule. A beautiful temple was even built, but sadly many of the Israelites, including Solomon, eventually began sacrificing to other gods. God raised up armies to fight against him and his people, but he made a decision not to take the nation from Solomon's rule ... he would spare Solomon that for his father's sake. Instead Israel would be lost during the reign of Solomon's son, Rehoboam.
376. Knowing it all. Not only did Solomon speak over three thousand proverbs and write more than a thousand songs, some of which come down to us in the books of Proverbs and the Song of Solomon, he could also speak knowingly on any subject. And he was obviously an authority on natural history. The Bible says that he could lecture on "trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes" (1 Kings 4:33 KJV).
377. The cedar was the largest tree that Solomon could have known, and the little fragrant herb, the hyssop, was among the smallest. Unlike modern hyssop, the plant Solomon spoke of is believed to have been one of the marjorams, members of the mint family that grow clusters of white flowers among rocks and in crevices in walls. Under these conditions it is among the smallest flowering plants in the Holy Land.
378. The cedar of Lebanon was the largest and most noble tree growing in the Bible lands. It was once abundant in the regions of Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey. It towered as high as 120 feet, and the diameter of its trunk sometimes reached eight feet. It had a fragrant gum that made walking in a cedar grove a delight. Its wood not only was a beautiful reddish color, but it also resisted decay and attack by insects.
379. A gardener on a grand scale. The Bible describes Solomon as a gardener (Eccl. 2:4—6). No one has yet found the exact location of Solomon's gardens, but they must have been quite close to the palace. A few miles outside of Jerusalem are three large reservoirs that have traditionally been called the Pools of Solomon, and they may be the reservoirs he built to provide water for his gardens.
380. The most unusual of Solomon's gardens must have been the one devoted to spices, for Solomon's far-flung trade with Arabia and India brought him many exotic plants. One of the prizes of the spice garden was spikenard, which was found in the Himalaya Mountains of Asia. The dried stems became an important trade item in the ancient world.
381. Dried spikenard was transported across Asia by camels and stored in alabaster boxes to preserve its fragrance. That is the reason spikenard was extraordinarily expensive, as John points out when he states that Mary anointed the feet of Jesus with "a pound of ointment of spikenard" (John 12:3 KJV).
382. Acacia, the "shittim wood" referred to often in the Bible, has many uses. Fine-grained and durable, its wood was suitable for beautiful things like the ark of the covenant, the altar of the tabernacle, and the mummy coffins of the Egyptians. Various species of acacia also provide perfumes, gum arabic, medicine, food for cattle, and firewood.
383. An alliance with the Phoenicians was one of the most enterprising of Solomon's many ventures. The Bible never refers to the Phoenicians by name but instead calls them the people of Tyre, Sidon, or Gebal, the three main cities from which the Phoenicians sent out trading voyages to all parts of the ancient world. The word Phoenicians comes from the Greek word for "reddish-purple," which refers to the dye the Phoenicians prepared from species of murex, a marine snail. The murex has a gland that secretes a milky white fluid as a defense against predators, but when exposed to light and air, the fluid turns purple and is a permanent dye on fabric.
[THE LAND OF THE PHOENICIANS WAS PART OF THE LAND ISRAEL HAD, SO THAT AREA WAS ISRAELITE….. A GOOD REASON AS TO WHY THEY WERE NEVER CALLED PHOENICIANS - Keith Hunt]
384. "Tarshish ships." This biblical reference to the ships of Solomon refers to those that were built via an agreement Solomon negotiated with his Phoenician neighbor, King Hiram of Tyre. Together they obtained skilled workmen to build him a fleet of merchant ships. No one knows exactly what the ships looked like, but they were probably a mix between the Phoenician battleships and merchant ships. Solomon's fleet was based near his smelters, at Eziongeber on the Gulf of Aqaba. From there his ships sailed with metal and other items to a place known as Ophir.
[AGAIN SOLOMON’S NEIGHBOR WERE ISRAELITES; THEY HAD TALENT OF SHIP-BUILDING AND OTHER THINGS; THEY OBVIOUSLY HAD A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF INDEPENDENCE AND AUTONOMY, WHICH SOLOMON RESPECTED TO THE CREDIT OF HIS WISDOM - Keith Hunt]
385. After Solomon's death between 930 and 925 B.C., political and religious differences quickly shattered the kingdom built by David and Solomon. The ten tribes in the north broke away from the southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and two weaker kingdoms were left: Judah in the south and Israel in the north.
386. The call of wisdom is made throughout the first ten chapters of Proverbs. Solomon, who was given great wisdom from God, says in Proverbs 8:22 that wisdom was the first creation of God. It's interesting that Solomon always refers to wisdom in the feminine sense: "She calls out. . ."
387. Canticles or the Song of Songs is a set of love poems shared between a man and a woman. Some of the images are so mature that Jewish boys were not allowed to read it until they reached adulthood. Many people have questioned its place in Scripture, but Jewish leaders decided in ancient times that the book is allegorical—the man chasing a woman is a depiction of God pursuing sinful Israel. In medieval times Christian scholars suggested that the book also represented Christ pursuing the church.
[THE FACT IS REALLY PLAIN AND SIMPLE - IT IS GOD’S SEX INSTRUCTION BOOK FOR THE MARRIED; GOD INVENTED SEX, SO IT SHOULD BE OF NO SURPRISE THAT HE GIVES US SEX INSTRUCTION - Keith Hunt]
388. ”Solomon's sword" is the phrase used to describe a wise choice. It comes from the time two women, both claiming to be the mother of an infant, approached King Solomon and asked him to settle their dispute. Solomon asked for a sword, announcing he would cut the child in half. With that the real mother insisted that the baby not be harmed and instead be given to the other woman. The king, recognizing that the true mother would intervene for the baby's welfare, awarded the child to her.
389. “Turn, Turn, Turn.” During the 1960s, there may have been no more widely quoted Bible verses than the words from Ecclesiastes. They provided Pete Seeger with the lyrics that eventually became a hit single for the Byrds. Americans of that era may recall that President Kennedy admired these verses so much that they were read at his funeral.
390. Prophets and priests played an important role in early Israel, though many of the prophets do not have books named after them. The purpose of these godly men was to serve as messengers from God to the people. The prophets and priests received orders from God and acted upon them.
391. Moses said God would raise up prophets like him in the generations to follow. And God did. Generally keeping a low profile, the prophets did not possess administrative power like the kings. And they had no place in the tabernacle or temple rituals like the priests. They simply spoke the mind of God as it was given to them. Unlike the kingship and the priesthood, the position of prophet could not be passed on to one's descendants. God individually chose each one.
392. Nathan served as a prophet in the time of David and Solomon. It was his responsibility to confront David after David stole a soldier's wife, made her pregnant, and then had the soldier killed in order to cover up his deceitful behavior. When Nathan confronted David for his behavior, David repented, but God took the child born of the woman, Bathsheba, as a punishment. However, the next child David and Bathsheba conceived was Solomon, who would be king.
393. Elijah trusted God completely, so much so that when King Ahab appointed prophets to worship the false god Baal, Elijah told him no more rain would fall. Three years after the drought began, when Israel was literally starving, Elijah had a contest with the Baal prophets to see which deity would answer their prayers—God or the false god Baal. The people were brought to their senses by the sign of a soaked altar bursting into flame, and they came back to God.
394. As one of only two men who never died, Elijah was truly a special prophet of God. Enoch, a man who walked with God, was the other. Elijah was taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire, but before he was taken he appointed Elisha, his servant, to succeed him.
[THIS IDEA OF THESE TWO MEN NOT DYING IS TOTALLY FALSE - OTHER STUDIES OF MINE PROVE THIS - SEE THE SECTION CALLED “LIFE, DEATH AND RESURRECTION” - Keith Hunt]
395. Even though Elijah and Elisha were two of the most prominent prophets in the days of the northern kingdom, no book is named after them. Because of this we can assume that the seventeen books of prophecy in the Bible are just a sampling of all that the prophets spoke.
396. The books of prophecy. This section of the Bible is composed of seventeen books beginning with Isaiah and ending with Malachi, closing out the Old Testament. Like the books of poetry, these books don't extend the time line of Israel's history; rather, they fill in the one laid down by the books of history. Apart from Job, most of the books of poetry were associated with the kings of Israel’s glory days. By contrast the books of prophecy were associated mainly with the period of Israel's decline and fall.
397. Prophecy in the Old Testament was not so much a telling of the future as it was an urgent statement made on behalf of God to his people. Certain elements of Hebrew prophecy spoke of the future in terms that human behavior could not change, but most of it offered God's people a choice and often stated the harsh consequences if the Israelites chose to disobey.
[ONE OF THE REASONS WHY THE PROPHETIC BOOKS OF THE BIBLE WERE WRITTEN, WAS BECAUSE A VERY GOOD CHUNCK OF THOSE PROPHECIES WILL HAVE AN END TIME FULFILMENT AT THE VERY CLOSE OF THIS AGE - ALL THE PROPHETIC BOOKS I HAVE EXPOUNDED FOR YOU ON THIS WEBSITE UNDER “PROPHECY” - Keith Hunt]
398. Both the major and minor prophets are organized in historical order. This doesn't mean the minor prophets followed the majors in history, however. They coexisted with them. Hosea, for example, was a contemporary of Isaiah. Since the fall of Jerusalem is dated by historians at 586 B.C., all the books of prophecy—major and minor—can be dated within a century or two of that date.
399. Majors and Minors, part 1. The distinction is made by the length of each book. Isaiah, for example, is longer than all twelve of the minor prophets put together. Although Lamentations is short, Jeremiah was a major prophet, and the full title is "The Lamentations of Jeremiah."
400. Majors and Minors, part 2. Israel's prophets were not the type of people to include on your invitation list to a party. The Hebrew prophets denounced evil, corruption, and immorality. The three longest prophetic books, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, along with Daniel and Lamentations, have traditionally been labeled the "Major Prophets." The other twelve books are called the "Minor Prophets."
[MAJOR AND MINOR IS GIVEN FOR THEIR LENGTH, NOT THEIR CONTENT - Keith Hunt]
401. Jonah was cast into the sea by the sailors around him in order to stop the raging sea. The prophet knew God had sent the storm after he refused to go and minister to Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire. When he was thrown overboard, the sea calmed, but Jonah was swallowed by a big fish. Many believe the fish was a whale, but it is also possible that it was a shark that "saved" Jonah. He returned to Nineveh after spending three days in the belly of the big fish.
[A SHARK WOULD NOT BE LARGE ENOUGH TO SWALLOW A MAN AND FOR THE MAN TO SURVIVE FOR THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHT, UNLESS YOU GO WITH A MIGHTY MIRACLE FROM GOD. EVEN A WHALE STILL WOULD HAVE TO BE A MIRACLE FROM GOD FOR JONAH TO SURVIVE FOR 72 HOURS INSIDE IT - Keith Hunt]
492. The plant that God appointed to grow and shade Jonah after he finished preaching at Nineveh is sometimes translated a "gourd plant" and sometimes simply a "plant." It is believed that the writer meant for his readers to imagine the castor bean. In hot climates it grows very fast and often seems like a tree, with huge umbrella-like leaves that make wonderful shade. The Hebrews valued the oil of its beanlike seeds and used it widely in lamps and ceremonial rites.
403. Nineveh's demise in 612 B.C. brought the city to its end. Nineveh fell after a two-month siege carried out by an alliance among Medes, Babylonians, and Scythians. The attackers destroyed Nineveh by releasing the Khoser River into the city, where it dissolved the buildings' sun-dried bricks. This was a remarkable fulfillment of Nahum's prophecy: "The gates of the rivers shall be opened, and the palace shall be dissolved" (Nah. 2:6). Nineveh was lost for well over two thousand years.
404. At the forefront. In the period of the divided kingdom, the focus of the Bible books moves away from the kings to the ministries of a series of "prophets," those who spoke on the behalf of God after receiving divine messages through dreams or visions. Prophets tried to counsel—usually with little success—the rulers and people of Israel and Judah. The prophets became crucial biblical characters who overshadowed the kings and took their message to the entire nation.
405. Hosea suffered greatly as a prophet. His name means "Save, oh God!" His was a unique task: to marry a prostitute and live as a faithful husband to her. Their relationship paralleled what Israel was doing to God—God was a faithful husband to a harlot nation. Hosea thus could speak from experience and feel personally what great pain God must suffer when his people abandon him repeatedly.
[HOSEA DID NOT MARRY A PROSTITUTE; SHE AND HOSEA’S CHILDREN WOULD BE A PART OF THE SOCIETY OF ISRAEL THAT WAS FULL OF WHOREDOM, IN DEPARTING FROM THE TRUE WAYS OF THE TRUE GOD. CHILDREN ARE NOT AUTOMATICALLY WHORES - GOD GAVE THEM NAMES TO REPRESENT WHAT WAS TO HAPPEN TO THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL - Keith Hunt]
406. Gomer was the wife Hosea was sent to marry. She bore three children to Hosea, though none of them were likely his own children. God provided names for each of the children, but they were not names to rejoice over. Rather they were fateful reminders of what Israel had become. Their names were Jezreel (in honor of a massacre that took place in Jezreel for which God was going to punish the Israelites); Lo-Ruhamah, which means "not loved"; and Lo-Ammi, which means "not my people."
[THERE IS NO REASON AT ALL TO SAY THESE WERE NOT THE CHILDREN OF HOSEA. VERSE 3 IS PUT AS TAKING A WIFE AND SHE CONCEIVED AND BARE A CHILD - PRETTY NORMAL WAY OF MARRIAGE - Keith Hunt]
407. God's chosen people. One of the most significant lines in Amos is the prophet's message to Israel from God: "You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your sins" (3:2). This is the essence of the Jews' designation as the "chosen people." God's covenant with the people did not entitle them to special favors; rather, being chosen increased their responsibility.
[THE COMMON OVER AND OVER MISTAKE BY MOST THEOLOGIANS OF CHRISTIANITY - THEY THINK ALL ISRAELITES ARE “JEWS” - THIS IS JUST VERY BAD AND BLATANT READING OF THE OLD TESTAMENT; I GIVE THEM ZERO MARKS OR AN “F” ON THIS MATTER - Keith Hunt]
408. Amos was the first prophet to have his words written down. One of the more interesting facts about his book is that he used the lion to emphasize that his mission was to bring the Hebrews back to righteousness. No other wild animal is mentioned so often in the Bible as the lion. It appears in thirty-one of the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments.
409. Lions were still abundant in the Bible lands when Amos lived, and they ranged from Africa across the Near East to India. In the Holy Land itself, the lion was exterminated by about the time of the Crusades in the Middle Ages. It vanished from Egypt in the last century, and the last wild lion seen in the Near East was captured in Iran in 1923. Hunting lions was an ancient sport in the Bible lands, and many pictures show them being captured in nets and pits. Like many other Near Eastern monarchs, King Darius of Persia kept a den of lions—into which Daniel was cast.
410. Micah lived after Amos and Hosea. He prophesied of a future king who would be born in Bethlehem. He looked forward to that time as the current kings he suffered with consistently led the people toward idol worship and other forms of sin.
411. Jehoiada and his wife saved the line of kings from the wrath of King Ahaziah's mother, Athaliah, who tried to seize the throne by killing the entire family. Jehoiada was chief priest at the time. They stole Ahaziah's baby, Joash, and hid him for six years. Then they overthrew Athaliah and put Joash on the throne to reinstate his lineage.
412. Following the reign of Manasseh, a notorious king of Judah who reintroduced idol worship, a crucial moment in biblical history occurred in 621 B.C. During the reign of King Josiah, an ideal king who reigned for thirty-one years after taking the throne at age eight, a scroll that was about to be removed from the temple was discovered by a priest. When Josiah read the scroll, he tore his clothes in anguish because he knew how far the people had fallen from God. He began vigorous reforms and removed all pagan items from Jerusalem.
[TRY DOING THAT TODAY…… REMOVE FALSE WORSHIP, AND YOU’D HAVE A WAR ON YOUR HANDS - Keith Hunt]
413. Hilkiah was the high priest who found the scroll that brought King Josiah to his knees. Together he and the young king tried to bring the people back to God.
414. The longest prophetic book in Hebrew Scripture, Isaiah has had a remarkable impact on our language. Perhaps more than any other book of Hebrew prophecy, Isaiah has played a central role for Christians and has even been called the "the fifth Gospel" because so many of the book's prophecies were fulfilled in the life of Jesus.
[OH WOW….. AND MANY MANY MORE TO BE FULFILLED AT THE VERY END TIME - Keith Hunt]
415. The Book of Isaiah has two distinct halves. The first thirty-nine chapters seem to have been written before the Babylonian conquest of Israel, but the rest of the book was clearly written after that event. That has led scholars to suggest there were two authors or possibly even two different prophets named Isaiah.
[NO NEED TO THINK ANY SUCH THOUGHTS; JUST BECAUSE PART OF A BOOK IS WRITTEN BEFORE AN EVENT AND PART AFTER THE EVENT; DOES NOT HAVE TO BE TWO MEN WITH THE SAME NAME - Keith Hunt]
416. Many well-worn phrases were born in Isaiah. Besides providing Handel with wonderful lyrics, Isaiah has yielded phrases commonly used even today:
"White as snow"
"Neither shall they learn war any more"
"The people that walked in darkness"
"And a little child shall lead them"
"They shall mount up with wings as eagles"
"Be of good courage"
"Like a lamb to the slaughter"
417. The Servant Songs is the name given to the passages of Scripture in Isaiah 42, 49, 50, 52, and 53 describing an innocent man who endures great pain. Many Jewish scholars did not know what to do with these passages and could not reconcile them to the images of the Messiah coming as a mighty king. But Christians from earliest times have applied them to Jesus Christ, who suffered greatly for the sins of all humankind.
418. Christians and Jews disagree on a key portion of Isaiah's prophecies found scattered throughout Isaiah chapters 42, 49, 50, 52, and 53 in songs that speak of a "suffering servant of God." When Isaiah speaks of a despised, rejected man of suffering who is led like a lamb to slaughter, Christians see another symbolic prophecy of Jesus. Jewish readers, on the other hand, prefer to view this as either a reference to Isaiah himself, the prophet who suffered because his words were unpopular, or to the people of Israel, who suffer for the nation's sins.
419. Huldah, the wife of Shallum, is one of the most noteworthy Hebrew prophetesses. She was active in ministry during the days of King Josiah. When the Book of the Law was found in the temple, the religious leaders came to her and asked what God wanted the nation to do. This "Book of the Law" is generally thought to be an early version of Deuteronomy, which places special emphasis on removing any trace of idolatry from the worship of God. For the first time since the time of the judges, before the rise of the monarchy in Israel, the Passover was properly celebrated.
420. The prophet Jeremiah warned of the oncoming destruction by hostile empires, and he said that sinful people would become "meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth" (Jer. 7:33 KJV). By "fowls" that would feast on the slain, Jeremiah undoubtedly meant vultures, because they feed on dead animals. The griffon is a huge vulture in the Holy Land, particularly in the mountainous areas. Although it is large and powerful, it never kills its own prey, and it will not feed on any animal that still shows signs of life. It is a remarkably clean bird in its habits, bathing almost as often as it finds water.
421. The Babylonians came. They laid waste to the countryside and were on the verge of capturing Jerusalem just as Jeremiah had foretold. Yet on the eve of destruction, Jeremiah did a strange thing. He bought a piece of real estate, a field near his home village. He paid seventeen shekels of silver for it, had the deed signed, sealed, and witnessed, and then instructed Baruch to put the deed in a clay jar so that it could be preserved for a long time. For just as he believed that God would surely destroy the nation of Judah, Jeremiah also believed that God would build it up again. "Is there no balm in Gilead?" Jeremiah cried out and answered his own question by refusing to despair. God would not forsake his people, no matter how faithless they had been.
422. Jeremiah is believed to be the author of the Book of Lamentations. In chapter three, the writer cries out:
I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of his wrath.
He has driven me away and made me walk in darkness rather than light;
Indeed he has turned his hand against me again and again, all day long.
He pierced my heart with arrows from his quiver. I became the laughingstock of all my people;
They mock me in song all day long.
He has filled me with bitter herbs, and sated me with gall.
verses 1-3, 13-15
423. Origin of the term Jews. In the year 587 B.C. the holy city lay in ruins, and its people were led off to captivity in Babylon after the armies of King Nebuchadnezzar overran Judah and conquered Jerusalem. Their name changed to "Jews" (from the Hebrew Yehudi, which means "belonging to the tribe of Judah"). They kept alive their faith and their way of life during the years of exile.
424. Habakkuk is thought to have been a prophet around the time of Jeremiah. He struggled with how God would want his people, despite how badly they were behaving, to come under the influence of an even more ungodly people—the Babylonians. God was faithful to his prophet and assured Habakkuk to trust him for the answer.
425. Ezekiel spoke knowingly about the land and its life. Scholars disputed for a long time about what animal he meant by "the great dragon" (Ezek. 29:3KJV), until archaeologists excavated ancient Babylon and discovered the remains of an enormous gate that was ordered to be built by Nebuchadnezzar. The ruins of the Ishtar Gate showed decorations with rows of animal sculptures— at least 575 figures in all. One of the animals is a fantastic beast: the Sirrush or Dragon of Babylon.
426. Why a dragon? No one knows for certain why the image of the Sirrush was placed on the gates, but Nebuchadnezzar ordered these words inscribed on it: "Fierce bulls and grim dragons I put and thus supplied the gates with such overflowing rich splendor that all humanity may view it with wonderment." It is possible that the figures were intended to impress or even frighten the Medes and Persians. So although actual dragons never existed, sculptured figures of them must have been seen by Ezekiel during the exile in Babylon.
[DRAGONS WITH FIRE OUT OF THEIR MOUTH, YA IT’S DESCRIBED IN THE BOOK OF JOB. HOW ON EARTH DID SOME NATION’S HISTORY CONTAIN FIERY DRAGONS, IF THEY NEVER EXISTED? Keith Hunt]
427. The valley of dry bones was a graveyard to which the prophet Ezekiel was commanded to preach. As he did so Ezekiel watched the bones reattach to one another and come to life—an image of the spiritually dead nation of Israel coming back to life by the power of God's Word. This event, recorded in Ezekiel 37, is one of several strange visions of the prophet.
[NOT ANYTHING TO DO WITH “SPIRITUAL DEAD” - IT SAYS WHAT IT MEANS AND MEANS WHAT IT SAYS - LITERAL RESURRECTION OF DEAD ISRAELITES - Keith Hunt]
428. The period of the exile in Babylon, lasting approximately from 586 to 538 B.C., deeply impacted Judaism and the Bible. Without the temple in Jerusalem as the focal point of Yahweh worship, the Jews were forced to create a new form of communal ritual with the earliest beginnings of the synagogue as their center for prayer, Torah study, and teaching.
429. The spirit of hope to return to Jerusalem and restore the temple gave many exiled Jews a purpose. They began to look for a Messiah, a new leader or savior. However, only a minority of the Jews took advantage of the offer to return to Judah and rebuild Jerusalem. Many of these people had lived in Babylon for two generations and intermarriage had become common.
430. The Hebrew Bible gained much of its present shape during the exiled years in Babylon. The Pentateuch, or Torah, approached the form it now holds, and the history of Israel, from Joshua through 1 and 2 Kings, and the earliest prophetic writings, were all most likely composed during the exile.
431. Jeshua was allowed to return to Jerusalem after nearly fifty years of captivity by King Cyrus of Persia. This young man, whose name means "the Lord is salvation," led the way for Jews to begin worshiping once again. He served as chief priest and helped to lead the effort to rebuild the temple.
432. The beginnings of the diaspora, the great dispersal of Jews throughout the Mediterranean world and eventually into Europe, is marked by the period of exile and return. While in Babylon some Jews had entered official government service, such as Nehemiah, "a cupbearer" to one Persian king, and Mordecai, who also served a Persian king in the Book of Esther.
433. Daniel was a statesman, not a prophet. As a result, Jewish scholars do not place this book among the prophetic books. However, because Daniel had the gift of prediction, the New Testament calls him a "prophet" (Matt. 24:15). Daniel saw many symbols in his prophetic visions, and he often recorded them without attempting to interpret what they meant.
434. Starting in 538 B.C., about seventy years after the destruction of Jerusalem, Jews began returning to their holy city. The Book of Ezra describes the exiles' return. Ezra was a priest who led a group of Jews to their homeland. He was accompanied by some seventeen hundred Babylonian Jews, including some Levites. A census was recorded of who returned to the Promised Land. Much of this book deals with temple worship and its responsibilities. Ezra taught the details of the law of Moses so that Jews could reinstate the practices in the Promised Land.
435. In Jewish history, law, and theology, Ezra is a character of great significance. Some Hebrew scholars rank him second only to Moses as a lawgiver and prophet, and he's considered by many as the second founder (after Moses) of the Jewish nation. Not only did Ezra reinstate the law and temple worship practices, he required that all Jewish men get rid of their foreign wives and children. Ezra ends poignantly with the words, "All these had married foreign women, and some of them had children by these wives."
[YES, HE TOLD THEM TO DIVORCE THOSE WIVES, WHO ALSO HAD CHILDREN FROM THE JEWISH MEN. IT FLIES IN THE FACE OF PEOPLE WHO QUOTE “GOD HATES DIVORCE” (MALACHI 2:16)…..BUT MOST DO NOT CORRECTLY UNDERSTAND THAT SECTION OF MALACHI; SEE MY IN-DEPTH STUDY “DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE” UNDER SECTION “SEX AND MARRIAGE” - Keith Hunt]
436. Around 520 B.C., Haggai came onto the scene. The work of rebuilding the temple had nearly stopped. Haggai cheered the people on to continue the effort. He also gave great comfort to the other two priests who were hard at work. Within four years the work was done and the temple was rebuilt.
437. The Judah of the return from Babylon was a far cry from Solomon's empire, and the second temple, completed in 516 B.C., was modest, despite the fact that Cyrus provided funding for the rebuilding of the temple. All the gold and silver vessels that had been salvaged from the original temple and taken to Babylon were returned to Jerusalem. But never again in Scripture is the fate of Judaism's most sacred object, the ark of the covenant, mentioned.
438. At the rededication of the city of Jerusalem in 445 B.C., all the Jewish people and all who could hear with understanding gathered at the square in front of the Water Gate. Ezra began to read the book of Moses before the assembly, “which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law” (Neh. 8:3). This verse refers to the fact that most Jews no longer understood Hebrew. By the time of the return, Aramaic, a related Semitic language, had replaced Hebrew as the common language.
TO BE CONTINUED