Day 98 (April 8): Descendants of Boaz, Hezron, Jerahmeel, Caleb, Hur, Judah, Shelah and Elkanah and how the Old Testament came to be

Good day!  Today, the reading is from three different books, Ruth, 1 Chronicles, and 1 Samuel.  The reason for this is the Bible we are using is chronological, so it skips around the traditional Bible a bit.  We have already looked at background information on Ruth.  For information on 1 Chronicles, see www.biblestudytools.com/nlt/1-chronicles/ and for info on 1 Samuel, go to http://www.biblestudytools.com/nlt/1-samuel/.  If you have never visited BibleBum.com, welcome!  This a daily blog where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

Ruth 4:13-22

1 Chronicles 2:18-55

1 Chronicles 4:1-23

1 Samuel 1:1-8

Questions & Observations

Q. I know that all of the genealogy is important in establishing family lines from the 12 tribes, but Rob, I’ll leave this one to you.  Can you tell us what is important to note in today’s reading?

A. Well, if we were reading Chronicles in order, we would see that the writer is working his way through the 12 tribes (not including the Levites) up to the point of the writing.  The best guess about the books of Chronicles — 1 and 2 to Christians, Jews only have one book, but the same material — is that it was written after the return from exile in Babylon by Ezra the priest, probably around that late 5th century BC.  We will see Ezra as a central player in reestablishing Jerusalem after the exile much later (Book of Ezra).  This, by the way, makes it among the newest books of the OT.  The tradition is that it was written, whether by Ezra or not, to allow the Jews to connect with their heritage, especially the greatest of their kings: David.  One thing to watch for along these lines, Chronicles will often leave out some of the more scandalous actions of David that 2 Samuel leaves in, probably because they wanted him cast in the best light possible, so watch for that.

So, the longwinded answer to your question is that these genealogies are all about establishing David as the centerpiece of Jewish history.  This requires tracing the lines from his ancestor Judah, via his son Perez (remember him and his brother being born from the scandal of Genesis 38?)  So in that regard, the end of Ruth and the beginning of 1 Chronicles are focused on the same person: David; Chronicles just gives the ENTIRE family line (or some summary of it), where Ruth is only interested in David’s direct line via Boaz and David’s father Jesse.  David still won’t come on the scene, however, until 1 Samuel 16 or so.

Q. Can you give us a nutshell version of how the Bible was written and put together?  Or who wrote it but how it was collected?  I can picture that some may be chiseled out on stones and others may be written on paper.  But, it had to have been difficult, to say the least.  I can’t imagine deciphering all of these names and rewriting them.  And then, there were so many authors and I would guess, so many places the scripture was left.  How did those who discovered it know that it was to go together and all from God?

A. Why don’t we just work on a summary of the OT, and perhaps sometime we can go over the NT, since they are vastly different processes.  I wouldn’t put too much stock in the idea that the OT was written in stone.  There is little that is more inconvenient to work with than heavy rock!  So while the 10 Commandments were probably written in stone at least once, the bulk of the OT was written on scrolls of leather, papyrus — which was invented in Egypt — or other material.  Books as we would recognize them, called codices, or codex, would not be invented until the after Christ (i.e. early A.D.).  So basically, you’re talking about scrolls.

The stories recorded in these scrolls were based upon oral traditions of the ancient Jewish people passed down from generation to generation.  While portions of the writings of Moses or other OT figures may have been written down by them during their lifetimes, the suspicion is that the works we see are edited versions of their stories to which they likely contributed in some form.  It is very unlikely, for example, that Moses dictated the first five books of the OT, though this does NOT mean that Moses had no hand in their composition.  There were very likely collections of copies of Moses’ writings of things like the Law or tales of the Israelites time in the wilderness that were edited together and compiled into the volumes we see here.  Most of this editing likely took place during the reign of the monarchs, around 1000 to say 800 BC — some scholars feel the writings are much more recent, but I think that number is appropriate.  For the more recent writings in the books we are beginning to move into — the prophets, Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah — we will see the particular purposes that caused them to be written (usually because the author will tell us!)  I feel it is very reasonable to hold that the so-called “traditional” authors of most of these volumes had some role in their composition, but most volumes likely went through an editing process of some sort to reach the final product.

All but the most recent writings were written exclusively in ancient Hebrew — there’s a little Aramaic in the youngest works.  The works that were copied onto scrolls were kept in the temple in Jerusalem and the synagogues throughout Judea or anywhere else Jews lived.  Since most of the Jewish population (like the world) could not read, it was the responsibility of the priesthood to read and interpret the Law for the people.

One other major development from around the 2nd Century BC: the OT was translated into a form of ancient Greek called Koine (pronounced coin-nay, meaning “common”).  This work became known as the Septuagint (usually abbreviated LXX, or 70 in Roman numerals), and was the “Bible” that most early Christians would have used, including Paul.  The books use by early Christians caused (as you might expect) most Jews to abandon its use, but it is still the subject of study today.  Read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lxx.

That’s a good start to some basics of the OT, but we can continue to have discussions about subsets of the OT — and later the NT — as they come up.  Do note that each of the introductions that we are listing at the beginning of each book gives you detailed information about “how we got it” and “who wrote it,” etc.

Day 85 (March 26): 31 kings defeated, Lands east and west of Jordan divided, Caleb gets Hebron,

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.  Take the challenge.  You won’t regret it.

Joshua 12:7

Questions & Observations

Q. (Joshua 13:1, 14:10): From reading about these battles, the text makes me feel like the battles happened real fast, but I guess that wasn’t the case if Joshua is getting old.  So, we can tell from Caleb that the Israelites have been battling for 45 years.  When God told the Israelites that they would receive the land He promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, I didn’t have a feeling that they would have to fight for it.  I thought after all that misery of slavery, escaping from Egypt and wandering in the desert for 40 years, that the land of milk and honey would be ready and waiting for them to relax.  Why did they have to work so hard for the land?

A. The events described in the first 12 or so chapters do appear to take place quickly, but what Joshua is doing is establishing a beachhead of sorts in the land.  From here, the long process of taking the entire land happens over a generation or more – 45 years according to the verse you point to.  I don’t know exactly why it takes so long, but I guess it has to do with settling in new towns and taking over the old ones, which is probably not a fast job.  The central victories that are won in the first few chapters do tell the story though: Israel established itself as the dominant power in the region by destroying Jericho and Ai (along with the other battles mentioned), and from there, the battle is already won, they simply have to complete the task.

Q. Is there any significance to how the territories are laid out?

A. Honestly, not as far as I can tell.  There will “be” significance, if you will.  That is, the territories will become important for future direction of the story, but this is really an establishing moment, and I don’t think there is much significance to the locations at this point.  Here’s just one example: some of the tribes that border other regions (Dan in the north for example) will be more susceptible to the corruption of other tribes because Israel fails to drive out all the people that God tells them to.  We’ll see how this plays out.

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Day 62 (March 3): Israelites show doubt, God stands beside Caleb and Joshua, Moses pleads for Israelites, God takes away Promised Land from complainers, rules for offerings, penalty for breaking the Sabbath, tassels have meaning

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions, discover the purpose for our lives and give Him the glory.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  Take the challenge.  You won’t regret it.  Let us know if you have any comments to share.

Numbers 14-15

Questions & Observations

O. (Numbers 14:6): Rob has answered the subject of tearing of clothes (discussed on Jan 19th, Day 19 in our reading of Job 1-4).  It has been done numerous times thus far in the Bible in acts of mourning or distress.

O. (Numbers 14:17-19): I am amazed at the close relationship between God and Moses.  Moses reminds Him of His love for His people and His forgiveness for their sins.  This reminds me of disciplining children.  God takes the Promised Land away from most of them because of their grumbling.  I would think they would know by now how serious He is.

Q. (Numbers 14:30): So Caleb and Joshua are the only Israelites who will enter the Promised Land?

A. What it says is that, of the generation who was 20 years or older in the census from our earlier reading, only these two men (remember that this includes both Moses and Aaron!) will enter the Promised Land.  The rest of the company will die.  If we remember our significance of the number 40 in scripture, one of the things that 40 stands for is a mark of a generation.  So basically, by having the people spend exactly 40 years in the wilderness, what the Lord is essentially doing is cutting off the unfaithful generation and giving the Promised Land to their children.  Joshua, who will lead after Moses, will not only enter the land, but will be handsomely rewarded when the land is divided up.  The same is true for Caleb.  Truly this is a prime example of the importance of having faith in God’s ability to keep His promises.

O. (Numbers 14:39-43): This reminds me of my 4-year-old.  I ask her to do something and tell her what the punishment is for disobeying, she disobeys anyway and then says sorry after she gets in trouble.  She backpedals and tries to make it right so she can get the prize.  The Israelites realized they disappointed God and charged on to try to make it right.

Q. (Numbers 15:30-36): These two sections — the rules about “brazen” violations of the law, and the punishment for a man who actually does so — seem related.  Are they?

A. Yes.  I would say this is a good example of the text setting up a particular scenario. Basically, people are being reminded what a particular rule is — in this case knowingly violating the Lord’s commands — and then having that scenario acted out.

O. (Numbers 15:37-41): I never knew tassels had a special meaning!