The Bible starts with Genesis, a sobriquet that means birth or beginning.' Genesis offers a lot of information describing the origins of humanity and also the origins of people whom the Israelites met. It contains genealogies which explain the interrelationship of different peoples and races. The first chapter of the Bible starts with these words, In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. We learn from the Bible that the earth was empty, dark, and formless. With Gods spirit moving over the waters preparing to perform Gods creative Word, God Himself began to speak into existence his creation (Chambers, 18). After six days God had finished his work of creation, and he created Adam and Eve on the sixth day. He gave them the whole earth to rule over, care for and to cultivate. However, their stay in the Garden of Eden was cut short after Satan was thrown out of heaven after disobeying God. According to Genesis 3 verse 20, Satan came in the form serpent and tempted them into eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil which God had forbidden. Following this act, God invoked curses on Adam, Eve and Satan. In chapter 4 and 5, we are told the story of the two sons of Adam, Cain, and Abel. Cain was wicked, and he was angry at Abel and God. Cain was so corrupted by sin that he killed his righteous brother Abel, and as a result, God placed a curse on Cain by banishing him to wander far from the Land of Eden. According to Genesis (6:1-11: 32) humanity had grown so wicked and God decided to wipe human kind off the face of the earth. However, there was one righteous man among all the people of that time, and that was Noah. With particular directives, God told Noah to construct an ark for him and his family in preparation for a disastrous flood that would destroy every living thing on earth. The floods came, and every living thing was wiped except for Noahs family and the animals that were brought into the Ark. After the floods, God made a promise with Noah that he will never destroy all the living things again as he had just done. Genesis (11) explains that after a great flood, the following generations had one language and a common speech. We are told the story of the Tower of BABEL where people of the earth decided to build a city with a tower that would reach heaven. According to Glentworth Butler (77), the Tower of Babel dates from 603-561 BCE, and we are told that God saw the progress that human kind was making in building the tower and he knew that this tower would lead them away from him. So He decided to cause them to speak different languages so they would not understand each other. After doing this, the construction of the tower failed, and God also distributed people to all over the face of the earth (Butler, 101-190).
The Patriarchal Period
The Patriarchal period is the era of three biblical patriarchs that is Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham. This period explains a lot of the mans earliest relationship with God and also answers many questions primary to understanding the rest of the Bible (Dennis, 28). We are told that as nations develop, God selected a special group through which he would uniquely provide knowledge of himself and his salvation. God chose a rather unlikely person to start with, and that was Abram. Abram lived in Ur of the Chaldees, which was the huge center of civilization then. He was a man of faith, and we see him believing Gods promises and trusting Gods guidance. Moreover, he also inherits Gods blessings and undergoes rigorous testing which involved sacrificing his only son. The Patriarch period ranges from 2091 B.C. to 1876 B.C. It was a period where the society around clans. According to Genesis 21:5, Abraham was a hundred years old when Isaac was born (Abrahams only son). Isaac was the son of promise. Genesis 26: 24-25 explains that he was the one through whom the Abrahamic covenant would be accomplished. Isaac was the connection between Abraham and the following patriarchs. The story of Isaac is a short and an interesting one. In Genesis 24 we are told Isaac married Rebecca and they had two sons Jacob and Esau. In Genesis 27, there is a story of Jacob one of his sons who deceived him and to get his blessings. Esau was supposed to receive the same blessings, but his younger brother Jacob took them. Jacob is known as the father of the nation of Israel. According to Genesis 32:28, Jacob had twelve sons who would become the twelve tribes of Israel. Through Jacob, the covenant promise which had been with Abraham and his father was renewed. The story of Jacob dates from 2000BC to 1859 BC. Genesis 30:24 tells us of the birth of Joseph one of Jacobs twelve sons. We tell that Joseph was a faithful and a righteous man despite times of glory and suffering. Joseph serves as a link between the patriarchal period and the period of the Exodus. The story of Joseph dates from 1915 BC to 1805 BC. Josephs narrative is integral to the entire story of Israelites descent into Egypt. Joseph was his fathers favorite son, and he had great dreams that made him feel good about himself. The narrative of Joseph spans a lot of chapters, Genesis 37-50. In Genesis 37, we are told of Joseph and his family and how his brothers hated him to the extent of selling him to the Midianites. The following chapters explain Josephs early life in Egypt. We also learn of the false accusations by Potiphars wife which resulted to Joseph being imprisoned. Despite all these challenges, Joseph kept his eyes on God. Pharaohs disturbing dreams was Josephs ultimate turn of good luck. With the knowledge of interpreting dreams, Joseph was able to predict two of Pharaoh's dreams correctly. Pharaoh was so pleased with him, and he decided to appoint him as his second-in command. The famine which struck Israel later unites him and his family. Joseph died at the age of 110, and we are told that he promised his children that when Israelites leave Egypt, they will take his remains with them. According to Exodus 13:19, Moses carries Josephs bones on the way to Israel.
Egyptian Bondage and Exodus
The book of Exodus tells an epic tale oppression, freedom and deliverance. The beginning of the bondage began after a new king who did not know about Joseph came to power in Egypt. The new king told his people that the population of Israelites had proliferated in their land and their continuous growth was dangerous for the Egyptian people. They began to feel threatened by the presence and the prosperity of the Israelites. From that period slave masters were put over the Israelites who oppressed them with forced labor. Exodus 2:23 explains that this cruel king of Egypt died and the Israelites expected that the new king would initiate laws that will help them out of the bondage. However, that was not the case, the murdering of Israelite infants continued. In fact, the other rulers that ascended to power were as cruel as their predecessors and Israelites were suffering. Exodus 3 tells that Israelites cried to God as they had never cried before. This was the time when God appointed Moses to deliver the Israelites from the bondage. Moses was cared for by the Pharaohs daughter, and God protected him from the Egyptians until he was a grown man. Although he became a mighty man in Egypt, he didnt forget his roots. We are told of a story where Moses killed an Egyptian who was mistreating his fellow Hebrew. This incident made him flee Egypt to Midian where God communicated to him from the midst of a burning bush. Here God revealed to him that he was going to liberate the Israelites. Moses at first, was not easily convinced, but God promised him that all would be well. According to Exodus 5:1-2, Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, deliver my people so that they may hold a sojourner feast to me in the desert.' However, Pharaoh was not convinced, until the Egypt experienced a series of plagues sent by God. The judgment of God upon Egypt where every Egyptian first born was slain made Pharaoh Release the Israelites. This occurred during the Passover celebration. Under the leadership of Moses, Israelites slowly left Egypt after spending over 400 years in the land.
The Conquest and Period of the Judges
After the death of Moses, Joshua was given the responsibility of leading the Israelites to the Promised Land. The Israelites had traversed the Red Sea and were now located on the east side of the Jordan River. The center of Jericho was the first Canaanite city to be attacked by the Israelites since it was the key to the conquest of the entire land (Robinson, 1987). However, Jericho was strongly guarded. Therefore God instructed Joshua to direct the Israelites to shout on top of their voices while compassing the city seven times. Finally, God gave them victory, and the gates of Jericho were opened to them. The name of Joshua was now known everywhere. The Lord also helped Israelites defeat the Amorite Kings, who had united with other communities to fight Israelites. According to Joshua 10:12-15, He delivered the Amorites before the Israelites and stopped the sun and moon until the people of Israel had avenged themselves upon their enemies.
After the death of Joshua, several judges ruled over Israel. Othniel was one of the judges who ruled over the Israelites. Judges 3:9-11 explains that the Spirit of God came upon him and Lord delivered the king of Mesopotamia into his hand. Several years later, Israelites abandoned God and started practicing idolatry. God was not pleased with them, and he delivered them into the hands of the Midianites. It was during this period that God started working with Gideon. Gideon was a great warrior, and with an army of 300 soldiers, Gideon led Israelites to a great victory over the Midianites. We also learn of other Judges such as Jephthah, Zorah, and Samson who were used by God to free Israelites from oppression.
The external pressures and threats from Philistines and other communities forced the Israelites to unite and form a nation in around 1020 BC. The United Kingdom of Israel lasted for nearly a century that is from 1030 BCE- 931 BCE (John, 2004). David, Saul, and Solomon were the three individuals who occupied the throne. During Sauls reign, Israelite monarchy was just a small territory. In fact, Israel became successful during the reigns of David and Solomon. David conducted successful military campaigns against Israels foes thus creating secure borders for Israel. He also managed to unify the Israelite tribes. Under Davids reign, Israel grew into a regional powerhouse. During Solomons reign, the United Monarchy experienced a period of prosperity and peace. After the reign of Solomon and a consequent succession of his son Rehoboam, the nation split into two kingdoms that are Judah in the south and Israel to the north.
The Divided Kingdom through the Pre-Exilic Period
The Southern Kingdom of Judah were loyal to Rehoboam and maintained its capital in Jerusalem. However, the kingdom of Judah was restricted to producing vines, cereal crops, sheep and olives since it was located on a hill. The southern kingdom lasted for approximately three and a half centuries. The nation located in the north enjoyed power, prestige, and prosperity due to their access to ports and lush valleys. Judah was conquered by Babylonia in 597 whereas Israel rose as a separate power under Jeroboam (922-901 BC).
According to Haar (59), the book of Daniel spans the whole period of the captivity of Judah. It starts in the 3rd year of Jehoiakim, king of Judah and ends in the 3rd year of Cyrus, King of Persia. The exiles of Judah and Israel cast a long shadow over the whole subsequent history of Judaism. We are told of the story of Daniel and his friends in exile. Despite numero...
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