E-text prepared by Fredric B. Lozo
THE BIBLE PERIOD BY PERIOD
A Manual for the Study of the Bible by Periods
JOSIAH BLAKE TIDWELL
Josiah Blake Tidwell states "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself (Lev. 19:18). It is the final word in all right relations to others." This statement in The Bible Period by Period, regarding the Laws of Moses, and echoed in the words of Jesus is the guiding principle by which Tidwell seems to have lived.
J. B. Tidwell was born in Alabama in 1870 to a modest family of farmers. He was educated at Alabama's Howard College (now Samford University), earned a Master's Degree from Baylor University in 1903, and did post-graduate studies through a correspondence program of the University of Chicago. He also received several honorary degrees. Tidwell served as the Chairman of the Bible Department at Baylor University from 1910 until the time of his passing in 1946. Among his writings are The Bible, Book by Book (1914), The Bible, Period by Period (1916), Genesis: A Study of the Plan of Redemption (1924), and John and His Five Books (1937).
This book, The Bible Period by Period (1916) is a companion to Tidwell's The Bible Book by Book (1914). Both are college level introductory courses in Christian studies. They are each organized in outline form with questions at the end of each chapter to guide the student in acquiring a comprehensive mastery of the material.
In preparing "The Bible Period by Period" in e-book format, the outline styles were edited for sake of e-text consistency and proofreading. Certain geographical place names were edited for consistent spelling. The rest of the text remains faithful to the original. For any errors in transcription, I sincerely apologize as the words of the author could hardly be improved upon.
Fredric Lozo Mathis, Texas April 2005
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THE BIBLE PERIOD BY PERIOD
A Manual for the Study of the Bible by Periods
JOSIAH BLAKE TIDWELL Professor of Biblical Literature
Baylor University Press Waco, Texas
The author believes that the Bible is the word of God and that it is the inspired revelation of God's will to men and of the plan which he has provided for their redemption. He believes that it contains instructions which alone furnish the basis of wise and worthy conduct both for individuals and for nations. He, therefore, believes that all men should avail themselves of every possible opportunity to acquaint themselves with its teachings and that all Christians should be faithful and even aggressive in their efforts to teach its truths.
Moreover, several years of teaching the Bible to a multitude of students has convinced the writer that what is needed most is a study of the Bible itself rather than things about it. Having this in mind this little volume presents only a small amount of introductory discussion. It offers instead a large number of topics for study and discussion. By following the suggestions for study which they offer the student may gain a working knowledge of the contents of Biblical history.
It is suggested that these outlines will furnish a basis of work for college and academy Bible classes. It is also hoped that it may be adopted for study in many Sunday School classes. If it shall be studied in the Sunday Schools according to instructions which the author will furnish, it will be granted college entrance credit in Baylor University. Women's societies will find it well suited to their Bible study work.
The aim has been to make a companion book to the author's "The Bible Book by Book." The twenty one periods selected are only one of the many ways in which Bible history may be divided and lays no claim to superiority. If this volume shall prove as helpful as the sale of its companion book would indicate that it has been, the work incident to its preparation will be amply repaid.
J. B. Tidwell.
Waco, Texas. 1916.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS.
From the Creation to the Fall.
Problems solved. Creation of man. Man's hope and occupation. The temptation. The fall and punishment. The hope offered. Teachings of the story. Topics for discussion.
From the Fall to the Flood.
Cain and Abel. Cain and Seth, two races. The great wickedness. Noah God's chosen man. The Ark. The flood. The sacrifice and rainbow covenant. Confirmation of tradition and geology. Teachings of the period. Topics for discussion.
From the Flood to Abraham.
Noah's shame and prophecy. The Tower of Babel. The location of this tower. Specific purpose of the tower. Traditions of such a tower. The civilization of the ancient world. Two great empires of antiquity. Language and literature. Motive of their civilization. Lessons of the period. Topics for discussion.
From Abraham to Egypt.
Events of the period. Purpose of the narrative. Conditions of the times. Confirmations of Biblical records. Experiences of Abraham. The character of Abraham. The character and career of Isaac. Stories about Jacob. Stories about Joseph. Death of Jacob and Joseph. Social and religious conditions of the times. The book of Job. Lessons of the period. Topics for discussion.
From Egypt to Sinai.
Israel in Egypt. Moses the deliverer. The great deliverance. Crossing the Red Sea. Journey to Sinai. Lessons of the period. Topics.
From Sinai to Kadesh.
Mount Sinai. The Sinaitic covenant. Purpose of the Mosaic Law. Several parts of the law. Journey to Kadesh-Barnea. Twelve spies. Period lessons. Topics for discussion.
From Kadesh to the Death of Moses.
The pathos of the forty years. Events of the forty years' wandering. Final scenes at Kadesh. From Kadesh to Jordan. Prophecies of Balaam. Last acts of Moses. Last scene on Moab. Significance of the work of Moses. Lessons of the period. Topics for discussion.
The facts of history recorded. The story in three parts. The land of Canaan. Crossing Jordan and fall of Jericho. The complete conquest of Canaan. Cruelty to the Canaanites. Character and work of Joshua. Period lessons. Topics for discussion.
Characteristics of tie times. The Judges. Ruth the Moabite. Other nations. Outline of the narrative. Ethical and religious standards. Period lessons. Topics for discussion.
The Reign of Saul.
Demand for a king. The principle of the kingdom. Saul, the first king. Saul's great achievements. Saul's decline. Period lessons. Topics for discussion.
The Reign of David.
His reign over Judah. Reign over all Israel. His great sin and its bitter consequences. David's inspiring career. His last days. Psalms. Period lessons. Topics for discussion.
Riddle of Solomon's character. His policies. Solomon's building enterprises. Solomon's writings. Nations surrounding Israel. Evidences of national decay. Period lessons. Topics for discussion.
The Divided Kingdom.
The division of the kingdom. Comparison of the two kingdoms. Kings of the Northern kingdom. Kings of Judah. Important events in the history of Israel. Principal events in the history of Judah. Relation between the two kingdoms. Messages of the prophets of this period. Period lessons. Topics for discussion.
The Kingdom of Judah.
The kings of the period. Principal events of the period. Prophets of the period and their messages. Teachings of the period. False prophets. Great religious revivals of this period. Wealth and luxury. Contemporary nations. Period lessons. Topics for discussion.
The Captivity of Judah.
The ten tribes lost. Judah led into captivity. The period of the captivity. The fugitives in Egypt. Exiles in Babylon. The prophets of the exile. Benefits of the captivity. Lessons of the period. Topics for discussion.
Scripture analysis. Predictions of the return. Rise of the Persian Power. The Decree of Cyrus. Three Expeditions to Jerusalem. Prophecy of Haggai and Zechariah. Prophecy of Malachi. Story of Esther. Synagogues and Synagogue worship. Significance of the period. Period lessons. Topics for discussion.
From Malachi to the Birth of Christ.
The close of Old Testament History. Persian period. Under the rule of Greek kings. Period of independence. The Roman period. Entire period. End of the Period. Topics for discussion.
From the birth to the Ascension of Jesus.
The story of the period. The childhood and youth of Jesus. The beginnings of Christ's Ministry. Early Judean ministry. Galilean Ministry. Perean Ministry. Final Ministry in Jerusalem. The forty days. Teaching of the period. Topics for discussion.
From the Ascension to the Church at Antioch.
The Book of Acts. Principal events of the period. Organization and control of the early church. Persecutions of the church. Growth and influence. Extension of the Gospel to the Gentiles. Teachings of the period. Topics for discussion.
From Antioch to the Destruction of Jerusalem.
The changed situation. The divine call. Time and extent of Paul's journeys. First missionary journey. Second missionary journey. Third missionary journey. At Jerusalem. At Caesarea. Paul at Rome. Epistles of this period. Lessons of the period. Topics for discussion.
From the Destruction of the Temple to the Death of the Apostle John..The period of history. Destruction of Jerusalem. From A. D. 70 to A.D. 100. Literature of the period. Death of John and end of scripture history. Period lessons. Topics for discussion.
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(Pastor Geo. W. Truett.)
In offering to the public this little book "The Bible Period By Period," Dr. Tidwell is making another contribution to the cause of Bible study. He has already published "Some Introductory Bible Studies", "An Outline for the Study of the Life of Christ", and "The Bible Book By Book."
All of these have been well received. The last named formed a part of a definite plan for the study of the sacred Scripture which is carried forward in this volume.
The fact that the first edition of "The Bible Book By Book" has practically all been sold before the end of the second year since its publication, is sufficient proof of its popularity and of its value to Bible students. It has been adopted for study in a number of colleges and academies and is in use as a text book in a number of women's societies and Sunday School classes.
The author, as teacher of Bible in Baylor University, has tried out the studies he offers and has had a splendid opportunity to select what has proven valuable. He teaches a larger number of young preachers than any similar instructor in the whole of the Southland, and also many Sunday School Teachers and other Christian workers. He can, therefore, offer the best.
Dr. Tidwell accepts, without question, the inspiration and authoritativeness of the Bible as the Word of God. He believes in directing the student in the study of the Bible itself rather than having him study about it. His hooks are, therefore, more in the nature of outlines or guides than of discussions. He gives the pupil a clue to the study and says only enough to create a zest for truth such as will lead to a thorough investigation of the subject in hand.
In this volume, as its title would indicate, the whole Bible has been divided into periods and main facts and characteristics of each is studied. There are twenty-one periods forming the basis for as many chapters.
The plan is to discuss in the beginning of each chapter the most striking events of the period, Giving such outlines of the contents and principal events of the period as will make the whole period stand out so that the student may comprehend it at a glance. This is very brief but most comprehensive.
In the next place the lessons and teachings of the period are suggested. The author sets forth in tabular form the great teaching found in the Scripture events, both in their value to the Hebrews and in their permanent value to all people and for all times.
In the case of the poetical and prophetic books, suggestions for their study are given in the chapter on the period in which each book and the facts it records occurred. At the close of each chapter there is given a large number of topics for study and discussion. For the most part these topics require the searching of the Scripture itself and, if properly followed, will give the student a splendid knowledge of the contents of the Scripture of the period.
This book when completed in our Sunday Schools will, if done under the direction of the author, be given credit in Baylor University as college entrance. Our Sunday School workers would do well to organize classes of young men and women in the study of this book. In this way they would not only help these young people in Bible study but would tie them all to our great school at Baylor and make it possible for them to get credit for it when they attend provided they need it to get into the college. There ought to be hundreds of such classes in Texas.
Every Sunday School teacher and woman worker would do himself or herself a valuable service by securing and studying a copy of this new book. And it is also to be hoped that many of our women's societies will adopt it for their Bible study.
Let our pastors buy this book for themselves and bring it to the attention of their people. For the people of today, as of old, are perishing from a lack of Bible knowledge. The one unceasing effort that should be constantly and whole heartedly put forth by every Christian leader in every realm is to get the people to read and to know the Holy Scripture. Dr. Tidwell's book will greatly help in such effort.
First Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas.
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From The Creation to The Fall.
Gen. Chs. 1-3
Problems Solved. This simple narrative solves some of the great problems about which philosophers have speculated and before which scientists have stood baffled. Every child of the human race has asked, "What is the origin of the material world, what is the origin of life, and what is the origin of sin?" In general the philosophers held (and most of what science says concerning these matters is not science but speculative philosophy) that matter was eternal and simply asked how it came to its present state. One group, the materialists, held that an active principle inherent in the matter working through long ages, brought about the present state of things. Another group, the pantheists, held that every thing emanated from a common divine substance, working everywhere in nature. But this brief story lets at rest all this inquiry. It informs us that matter was not eternal nor did it come into existence by chance, but it was created out of nothing by our eternal God. The story incidentally sets forth the majesty and glory of God and man's dependence upon and his obligation to God. It also explains the origin of sin and of all man's ills and death.
Creation of Man. The Story of the preparation of a residence for man is told in five brief paragraphs. For concision, picturesqueness and concreteness, this narrative is not excelled in all literature. It shows how God acting as a creating Spirit through six successive periods of light and darkness prepared the world and put man in it. In the matter of the creation of man the presence and activity of Jehovah is especially emphasized. He shaped the body out of the dust of the earth and breathed into the nostrils of that human form that which made him become a living soul. It was the breath of God that gave life to man and hence he will return again to dust when that breath is withdrawn. Concerning the creation of woman it is better to admit that her creation was supernatural just as was man's. Her creation was to provide for man a helpful companionship so that his development and happiness might be complete. Her creation out of a part of man's body and to meet an inborn need provides the eternal grounds of marriage and the basis upon which they are in marriage to become one flesh and by reason of which man must "love his wife as his own flesh." Man is created in the image of God and like the Creator has intelligence and will and is given authority to rule over the earth.
Man's Home and Occupation. No sooner was man created than was planted in the far distant east a garden that should be to him a home and provide therein for his physical and spiritual needs. Where that garden was located is not known with certainty. Occupation was, however, provided so that he might exercise and develop each part of his nature. He exercised his mind in naming the animals and in some way the tree of good and evil was destined to be for his blessing. His soul had fellowship with Eve his helpmate and God his creator. This garden also had in it a life-giving tree that gave them the possibility of enjoying an endless life should they remain near it and continue to eat its fruit.
The Temptation. The study proceeds on the basis that there was already a race of fallen beings in the universe. Satan was the chief of these and had the mysterious power of tempting others to follow him. He assumed the form of a serpent-a creature least likely to be suspected and thereby deceived Eve the weaker. The temptation had several elements: (1) The talking serpent was to her in the nature of a miracle; (2) Eve had not heard the command of God herself (it was given before her creation) but had learned it from Adam. The devil therefore raised a doubt as to whether God really forbade it; (3) The question implies a doubt concerning the goodness and wisdom of God; (4) It appeals to the lust of flesh, to the pride of the eye and to the pride of life. It was beautiful, good for food, and to make her wise even like God; (5) In this appeal to curiosity there is an implied dare; (6) She was told that she had a mistaken idea of the penalty-that she should "not surely die."
In all this it will be noted that the temptation was to fall upward. All the motives-the satisfaction of natural appetite, the desire for knowledge and power and the love for beauty were in themselves worthy. The temptation was to better herself. Such it is always. Adam was not directly approached, but he willfully disobeyed without being beguiled as was the woman. The chief blame, therefore, fell upon him.
The Fall and Punishment. The fearful consequences of their sin are felt at once. They are changed so that they are conscious of guilt and endeavor to hide themselves from Jehovah. Thus they acknowledge their unfitness for fellowship with Him. Their soul having lost communion with God, they become corrupt. This is spiritual death. They were banished from the garden and forced to struggle for food. Their bodies became subject to pain and death by separation from the animating spirit. They could not longer eat of the life-giving tree of the garden. The earth was cursed so that instead of ministering to man's pleasure and support, it would produce much to his hurt. The woman in her unredeemed state was to be in subordination to her husband. The sad story of downtrodden women in heathen lands of all times since then, and even today wherever Christ is not known, tells something of the awful results of her sin.
The Hope Offered. The gloom of this sad story of their punishment was relieved by an element of hope. The man and his wife are not beyond the pale of God's love. There is given a promise (3:15) which assures the coming of one, who would contend with the tempter and would finally crush his head and repair the damage of the Fall. All of the rest of the Bible unfolds the plan and work of God in fulfilling this promise. There is beginning with Cain and Abel and running through the entire scripture a record of the conflict caused by the enmity between the seed of woman and that of her seducer. This conflict is to end when Christ the "seed of the woman" shall return to reign and shall cast his adversary into the bottomless pit. Along with this promise he also provided for them garments of the skins of animals such as were suited to their new and hostile environment and in which most writers find a suggestion of the covering of righteousness that comes to guilty sinners through the death of Jesus. Then too there was erected at the east of the garden an alter of worship not unlike that provided in connection with the Tabernacle later and where God dwelt in mercy and could be approached. Here was opened up a way by which they might after being forgiven again have a right to the tree of life and live forever.
Some Teachings of this Story. Back of this story are many truths worthy of most careful study. They constitute the basal facts of all history and religion. The following are put down as among the most vital: (1) Back of all nature is a personal Creator and Ruler who has the tenderest solicitude and care for man, as the highest product of his creation. (2) There was an orderly progress in creation from the more simple and less important to the most complex and most important. (3) All things were made for man and his comfort. (4) Marriage is a sacred obligation growing out of the very character of man and woman who were made for each other and each can, therefore, meet the deepest needs of the other. (5) Sin does not originate in God but in man's yielding to his baser instead of his nobler and diviner motives. (6) Sin as a cause brings its own punishment, the worst of which is the separation of the individual from harmonious relations with God, which is spiritual death.
For Study and Discussion. (1) The condition of the material universe when God began to prepare it for man's abode. (2) The six creative days or periods and what was created in each. (3) The special emphasis upon the presence and activity of God in the creation of man and woman. (4) The divine interest in and preparation for the happiness of man. (5) The home prepared for them. (6) The lessons about marriage, its purpose, basis, etc. (7) The law and place of testing in the formation of character. (8) The ills of life that are the results of some one's sin. (9) The nature and results of the curse upon the man, upon the woman, upon the tempter. (10) God's care for man after the Fall and the provisions for his recovery. (11) The revelation of God made by these three chapters. (12) The image of God in man.
From the Fall to the Flood.
Gen. Chs. 4-8.
Cain and Abel. These two, who are apparently the oldest children of the first pair, were no doubt born soon after the expulsion from the garden. One tilled the soil and the other was a shepherd. They each appear to have been attentive to worship. Their offerings, however, were very different and no doubt revealed a difference of spirit. The superiority of Abel's offering was in the faith in which it was made (Heb. 11:4), meaning perhaps that he relied upon the promise of God and that he apprehended the truth that without shedding of blood there is no remission. (Heb. 12:24).
Because God granted to Abel a token of acceptance of his offering and failed to grant a like token to Cain, the latter became jealous and finally slew his brother. Thus early did Adam and Eve begin to reap the effects of sin. The record, in kindness to them, makes no mention of the great sorrow that must have come to them as they saw their second son murdered by their first-born. These two sons represent two types running through all the Bible and indeed through all history-the unchecked power of evil and the triumph of faith. They represent two types of religion, one of faith and the other of works. Then as in all succeeding ages the true worshipers were persecuted by false worshipers.
God showed his mercy to Cain whom he sent away from the place of worship at the east of the garden by putting upon him the divine mark so that no one should destroy him. He also allowed him to prosper and it was through his descendants that civilization began to show itself.
Cain and Seth-Two Races. Another son was born to Adam named Seth. Probably others have been born since the death of Abel but none of a like spirit to Abel and hence none worthy to become the head of a spiritual branch of mankind. Cain's descendants applied themselves to the arts and to manufactures, to the building of cities and the making those things that furnish earthly comfort, while the descendants of Seth, were selected to be the instruments of religious uplift and to have communion with Jehovah. Through inter-marriage with the descendants of Cain, however, the generation of Seth was corrupted. This led to a period of great wickedness and the destruction of the people by the flood.
The great age of those who lived in this period may have been a provision of nature for the promotion of a rapid increase of the race and for the advancement of knowledge. The revelation of God to them could thereby be the better preserved. Then, too, the body of man was not originally subject to death and when it became so because of his sin, the process of decay may have been less rapid. And, besides, the effect of hereditary disease had not begun to effect and weaken the race.
The Great Wickedness. As indicated above, this Wickedness seemed to arise from the intermarriage of the descendants of Seth and those of Cain. The descendants of Seth were called "the song of God," because they were the religious seed. When they looked upon the beautiful daughters of Cain (called the daughters of man because they represented the irreligious portion of the race), they married them and thereby brought the whole race into such corruption that "every imagination of the thought of his heart was only evil continually" (Gen. 6:5). God therefore declared "My Spirit shall not always strive with man" and set the limit when he should quit thus striving with him at one-hundred and twenty years (Gen. 6:3). After that God proposed to destroy the whole wicked race from off the face of the earth (Gen. 6:7).
Noah God's Chosen Man. The narrative tells us (Gen. 6:8) that "Noah found favor in the eyes of Jehovah." This was no doubt because his character and acts were acceptable to Him. He was the tenth and last in the Sethic line. He was the son of Lamech (Gen. 5:28), a godly man, who had felt the weight of burden because of the curse which God had pronounced upon the ground because of Adam's sin. He was called Noah by his father, because he said the child would be a source of comfort concerning their toil growing out of that curse (Gen. 5:39). He was a just and perfect man and walked with God (Gen. 6:9; 7:1). Compare also I Peter 3:20 and Heb. 11:7. He is also called a preacher of righteousness (II Peter 2:5) and it is probable that, during the one-hundred and twenty years that were likely employed in building the ark, he preached to his generation and tried to lead them to repentance. He was, however, unable to influence any save his own family. The saving of his own family was, however, a splendid monument of his life.
The Ark. Noah built the ark according to the pattern given him by Jehovah. It was a sort of box-like boat 525 ft. long 87-1/2 ft. wide and 42-1/2 ft. deep, if we count a cubit at twenty-one inches. It was three stories high, and the building of it was a huge undertaking. We need not, however, think of it as an undertaking beyond the resources of the times. All those early people seem to have been fond of colossal works. The building of this Ark was not only an object lesson to the ungodly people of the time but a satisfactory proof of the faith of the builder.
The Flood. At the command of Jehovah Noah and his household entered the Ark carrying two of every species of unclean, and seven of every clean kind of animal and creeping things. They were shut in by the hand of God. The scripture passes silently over all horrors that filled the earth as man and beast were destroyed. We may imagine them trying by strength to get out of reach of the rising waters, but no mental culture or mechanical skill or physical culture, neither tears and entreaties could deliver man from the destruction which God had determined because of sin. It was seven months before the Ark rested on Ararat and more than five more before the ransomed company departed from it.
The Sacrifice and Rainbow Covenant. Upon leaving the Ark Noah expressed his thanksgiving and devotion to God by erecting an altar to Jehovah and offering thereon a sacrifice consisting of victims of every species of clean bird and beast. The fragrance of this sacrifice, such as the world had never seen before, was pleasant to Jehovah and he visited Noah with a promise that he would not again send such a flood upon the earth. The rainbow was given as a pledge of the promise made him. It was to be the constant seal of mercy on God's part, and it is not necessary to worry over the question as to whether there had never been a rainbow before or whether it was simply appropriated as a sign. In this new covenant the earth was put under Noah, as it was under Adam at first. He was, however, allowed to eat flesh, only mans blood was not to be shed and the seasons were to continue in regularity. Thus the race started anew as a saved group, rescued through the faith of Noah.
Confirmation of Tradition and Geology. Perhaps no other event of scripture history has found so large a place in ancient traditions and legends as has the flood. It is found in each of the three great races-the Semites; the Aryan; and the Tutarian. It is found alike among savage and civilized races, and as might be expected is most accurate in the countries that were nearest to where the Ark rested. Among the most important of these early traditions are those of Babylon. Greece, China, and America. In a general way these traditions may be said to agree with the Biblical story in the following particulars: (1) That a flood destroyed an evil world; (2) That one righteous family was saved in a boat and that animals were saved with them; (3) That the boat landed on a mountain; (4) That a bird was sent out of the boat; (5) That the saved family built an altar and worshiped God with sacrifice. All these stories tend to corroborate the Biblical story and to show that the whole race must have spring from this common home from which they have been scattered abroad.
Geology has also done much to confirm the flood story. Geologists are well acquainted with facts in world history that bring the flood "entirely within the range of natural phenomena." The Scripture (Gen. 7:11) speaks of the fountains of the deep being broken, language that could refer to the inrushing of the sea upon a depression of the earth which later rose again. Such elevations and depressions have occurred many times. An example is the elevation of the coast of Chile by an earthquake in 1822. Such an explanation by no means destroys the miracle of it, since the coming just when Noah had completed the ark and entered it and just when God said it would come, provided the element of miracle. A wide-spread flood is also required by the discovery of evidence in the earth of the destruction of animal life.
Some Teachings of This Period. The teachings of this period may be divided into three groups: Those concerning Cain and Abel; those concerning Cain and Seth. or the two races; those concerning the flood.
Those concerning Cain and Abel are: (1) The mere fact of having worshiped is not a guarantee of acceptance with God. (2) Both the spirit and the form of worship must please Jehovah. (3) God tries to point out the right way to men and only punishes when man fails to give heed. (4) Man is free and though God may turn to show him a better way, he will not restrain him by force even from the worst crimes. (5) To try to shun the responsibility of being our brother's keeper is to show the spirit of Cain.
The story of Cain and Seth, or the two races show: (1) That our acts reveal our thoughts. (2) That the indulgence of our lusts and appetites disgraces the noblest people. (3) That outward culture without true religion will not save a people. (4) The noble and good will finally dominate other men.
The story of the flood teaches: (1) That Jehovah can not make men righteous against their will. (2) That men by wickedness grieve God and thwart his purposes. (3) That man has, therefore, power to cause his own destruction. (4) That God does not save because of numbers or civilization, but because of character and obedience to his laws. (5) That God is pleased with the worship of those who obey him.
For Study and Discussion, (1) The consequences of sin as seen in this period with special reference to the new truths added to those of the former period. (2) New truths about God. (3) The beginning of the arts of civilization. (4) The unity of the race. (S) The names and ages of the six oldest men and whether any one of them could have known personally both Adam and Noah. (6) The size, architecture and the task of building the Ark. (7) The flood as a whole. (8) The inhabitants of the Ark. (9) The departure from the Ark, and the new covenant. (10) The flood as a divine judgment especially in the light of the judgment put upon Adam and Cain. (11) Noah as the first man mentioned who saved others and the way in which he represents Jesus. (12) Evidences of man's freedom as seen in this and the former chapters. (13) Worship as seen in the two periods studied.
From the Flood to Abraham
Gen. Chs. 9-11.
Noah's Shame and Prophecy. Just what the vocation of Noah bad been before his call to prepare for the flood we do not know. But after the flood, perhaps compelled by necessity, he became an husbandman. He had probably settled on the slopes or in the valleys of Ararat where he planted a vineyard. On one occasion at least he fell under the intoxicating influence of the fermented wine. This man upon whom God had conferred such great favor and who alone preserved the race alive lay naked and helpless in his tent.
In this shameful condition he was discovered by his sons whose conduct led him in a spirit of prophecy to assign to his three sons the rewards and punishments which their deeds merited. The punishment and rewards fell upon the descendants of his sons. The descendants of Ham, because of his joy rather than sorrow over the sin and humiliation of his father, should always be a servile race. Out of these descendants of Ham arose the Canaanites, the Babylonians and the Egyptians who developed the three great civilizations of antiquity. Their ascendancy, however, soon passed. The Canaanites were subdued by the Israelites; the Cushites of Chaldea were absorbed by Semitic conquerors and Carthage of the Phoenicians fell before her foes. The sons of Cush, in the scripture commonly meaning the Ethiopian and now known as the black-skinned African, are the very synonym for weakness, degradation and servitude.
The descendants of Japheth and Shem like those of Ham can be traced only in part. The Japhethites probably settled around the Mediterranean and in the northwest beyond the Black Sea. From them "the great races of Europe, including the Greeks, the Romans, and the more modern nations, must have sprung." The Shemites were located, generally speaking, between the territories occupied by the sons of Ham and Japheth. Aram, one of the sons of Japheth, settled in Syria near Damascus in northern part of Mesopotamia and through his son, Uz, gave the name of Uz to the territory, thus showing how that branch of the Hebrews came from western Mesopotamia, a fact now confirmed by modern discovery. All the other sons of Shem and their descendants are dropped from the record of Chapter eleven, except that of Arphaxad from whom descended Abram.
The prophecy of Noah was not only fulfilled in the case of Ham and his punishment but in the blessing of the Others. Shem was for a long time signally blessed as is witnessed by the Asiatic supremacy and especially in the Jews who conquered the Canaanites (descendants of Ham) and in whose tents God dwelt. During that period of the ascendancy of the Shemites not much was known of the descendants of Japheth. But now for more than two thousand years his have been the dominant race of the earth. Year by year, the Japhethites have spread over the globe, until whole continents are now peopled by him. He now rests his foot upon every soil either as a trader, colonist or national power.
The Tower of Babel. The place of this tower is in the land of Shinat, which is the name given by the early Hebrews to the land of Babylonia (Gen. 10:10; 14:19; Is. 11:1; Dan. 1:2; Zech. 5:11). This plain of Shinar had become the center of the earth's population. They threw up with infinite toil great mounds, which still stand as monuments of human achievement. Many such mounds and ruins, any of which would have seemed lofty in contrast with the level plain of Babylon, may be seen by the traveler.
The exact location of this tower cannot be determined with certainty, but it has been thought by some that a great mound on the east of the Euphrates, which probably represents the remains of the great temple of Marduk with its huge pyramid-like foundation, was the site of this tower. On the west of the Euphrates, however, is a vast mound called Birs Nimrood, which used to be regarded as the ruins of the Tower of Babel. The fact that it early gave the impression of incompleteness favors this claim. Nebuchadnezzar says on a tablet that another king began it but left it unfinished. It fell into disrepair and was completed by Nebuchadnezzar and was used as one of the great temples. It was built of brick and was oblong in form. It measured seven hundred yards around and rose to a height of from one hundred and fifty to two hundred feet high. It consisted o? seven stages or stories colored to represent the tints which the Sabeans thought appropriate to the seven planets. Beginning from the bottom they were black, orange, bright red, golden, pale yellow, dark blue and silver, representing respectively the colors of Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, the Sun, Venus. Mercury, and the Moon. These marks may indicate the prevalence of idolatry and have led some to think the tower of Babel was intended to do honor to the gods of Babylonia.
The specific purpose of this tower is difficult to determine. Josephus says the object was to save the people in case of another flood. The scripture record (11:4) indicates that they were moved by an unholy pride and selfish desire to make for themselves a great name. It also was intended to become a sort of rallying-point which would keep the people together and prevent the destruction of their glory which they thought would result from their separation. In 11:6 God says "nothing will be restrained from them which they have imagined to do." In this there is an implication that they are at cross purposes with God. It was an act that defied God and showed the need of punishment. It is not unlikely that idolatry had begun to prevail and that the tower was built in honor of those false Gods whom men were disposed to trust.
The incompleteness of the tower is attributed to divine intervention. Hitherto all the descendants of Noah had spoken the same language, but now by a direct divine interposition they are caused to speak several, and then separated so they can no longer cooperate with each other in carrying out their plans which had so displeased God. The different languages then are regarded as a punishment of the race which had rebelled against God.
Traditions of such a tower may be found in many forms and in many countries. In Babylonia there was a tradition that not long after the flood men were tall and strong and became so puffed up that they defied the gods and tried to erect a tower called Babylon by means of which they could scale heaven. But when it reached the sky the gods sent a mighty wind and turned over the tower. They said that hitherto all men had used the same language, but that at this time there was sent on them a confusion of many tongues, from which confusion the tower was named Babel. In Greece, there was a legend in which we trace the story of the tower of Babel. According to this legend a race of giants tried to reach Mount Olympus, which was supposed to be the residence of the gods, by piling Mount Ossa upon Pelion. But the gods interfered with their plan and scattered the impious conspirators. This effort of the Titans to mount up to heaven corresponds so well to the motive of the builders of the tower as to indicate that there was a common origin for both stories.
There is also a Greek tradition that Helen had three sons: Aeolus, Dorus, and Ion, who were the ancestors of the three great branches of the Hellenic race. This again corresponds to the prophetic table of nations which were to descend from Shem, Ham, and Japheth, the three sons of Noah.
The Civilization of the Ancient World. Just when and where civilization began we have no means of telling. The Bible speaks of a very high state of civilization at a very early time (Gen. 4:20-22). In ages long before Abraham and Moses the world had made great advancement in culture, commerce, law and religion. From the monuments and engraven vases that have been found in such unearthed cities as Nippur, we now know that Abraham and Moses did not live in a crude and undeveloped age, but, as the Bible would imply, in an age of great progress. We even learn that long before their time there was a most complete and complex civilization.
Two Great Empires of Antiquity. It is impossible to tell which of two great nations, the Chaldeans and the Egyptians, first attained to a high state of civilization. They appear to have started very early in the race, the Chaldeans in the plains on the banks of the Euphrates and the Egyptians in the plains on the banks of the Nile. They seem to have made about equal progress in all the arts of civilization.
Nimrod, a descendent of Ham, is declared to be the founder of the Chaldean Empire. His exploits as a hunter seem to have aided him to the throne. He began to reign at Babel and had a number of cities in the plain of Shinar. Later he went out in the district of Assyria and built Ninevah and a number of other cities. From the Assyrian and Chaldean ascriptions, we have learned much of the Accadians, whose influence carried forward that early civilization. We thereby confirm the Biblical claim that it was under Nimrod the Cushite, and not through the Semitic race, that the Chaldean kingdom began.
Of the beginning of the Egyptian empire, the other great center of civilization, we have no certain knowledge. So far as the records of the scriptures or of the earliest records to which the monuments bear witness, Egypt comes before us full grown. The further back we go the more perfect and developed do we find the organization of the country. The activity and industry of the Egyptians, their power of erecting great buildings and of executing other laborious tasks at this early period is a marvel to all ages. It has been shown by Prof. Petrie that some of the blocks in at least one of the great pyramids were cut by tubular drills fitted with diamond points or something similar. This to us is a very modern invention.
At least thirty dynasties of kings (according to Manetho) ruled Egypt in succession. At least twelve of these must have reigned in Egypt before Jacob and his sons settled within their borders. Many of the great monuments and some of the largest of the pyramids were already to be seen before Abraham visited that country. There had been constant progress in all kinds of learning and art, and a highly advanced society and government had been attained when the Bible history first came in contact with it.
Commerce was carried on extensively on both land and sea. Long before the time of Moses a stream of caravans were on the road between Egypt and Babylon, passing through Canaan. Treaties were made between different states whereby these caravans were protected and given safe passage through the countries traversed. Three thousand years before Christ the Phoenicians sent out ships from Tyre that had intercourse with the cities of the Mediterranean and later with England and sailed around Africa and traded on the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. Egypt sent sea expeditions to South Africa in the sixteenth century before Christ. All of this suggests how much more of geography these ancients knew than we are accustomed to think.
Language and Literature. It is impossible to say what was the original language. But that men once spoke the same language and that the varieties of human tongues arose from some remarkable cause is in some degree confirmed by the research of modern scholarship. The Bible alone states clearly what that cause was. All existing languages belong to three great families: the Aryan, the Semitic, and the Turanian. These correspond roughly to three sons of Noah: Shem, Ham and Japheth.
In the time of Abraham and long before, and on to the time of Moses there was great literary culture. Letters passed between kingdoms and cities. There were schools and colleges, great dictionaries and many books on many subjects. The Babylonian language was almost universally employed, so that the scribes could read without difficulty a letter sent anywhere in Egypt, Babylon, Canaan, or Arabia. This unity makes the translation of inscriptions on the monuments comparatively easy.
We know nothing of the origin of writing. As far back as we go into their history we find, already developed, a most complex system of writing and large libraries both in the royal cities and in small towns.
The Motive of Their Civilization. This is not difficult to find. The old Babylonian kings were called Priest Kings, and built their empires, temples, and cities, and exhibited such wonderful activities from a religious motive. The great mounds on the plain of Shinar, and the pyramids of Egypt are the eternal monuments of the religious devotion of these ancient people. Their religion was, however, filled with all sorts of idolatrous abuses and God called Abraham to be the leader of a purer religious life and to be the father of a people from whom would come the Great Revealer of all religious truth.
The Lessons of this Period. The stories of this period have for us several valuable lessons, among which the following are most vital. (I) All races had a common origin and are, therefore, vitally related. (2) By tracing the origin of the different races, we are shown Israel's place in the family of nations. (3) Since all nations are but branches of the same great family, all men are brothers. (4) The Hebrews are deeply interested in all of their neighbors, and their unique history can only be understood, in their true relation, as a part of the ancient Semitic world. (5) God exercises a common rule over all nations. (6) Civilization at this early age had reached a great advancement. (7) Men had reached a stage of great wickedness and because of their defiance of God were punished both by the confusion of tongues and by being scattered far and wide.
For Study and Discussion. (1) The genealogies of Noah's sons. (2) The different places where his descendants settled, the cities they built and the names of those connected with each. Study the geography. (3) Through which of Noah's sons the Messiah came and through which of his sons. (4) Lessons from the shame of Noah and the spirit of his sons. (5) The nature and fulfillment of his prophecies concerning his sons. (6) The universality of the race and the origin of the nations. (7) The teachings of the tower of Babel. (8) The origin of different languages and the relation of languages to the creation of separate nations. (9) The traditions of other peoples and their relation and correspondence to the stories of this section. (10) The evidence of ancient monuments that corroborate or throw light upon the meaning of this section of the scripture. (11) The civilization of that early time compared with that of our time.
From Abraham to Egypt.
Gen. Chs. 12-50
The Events of the Period. The events of this period may be put down somewhat as follows: (1) Abraham's call and settlement in Canaan, chs. 12-13. (2) The rescue of Lot from the plundering kings of the North, ch. 14. (3) God makes a covenant with Abraham, ch. 15. (4) The birth and disposal of Ishmael, ch. 16. (5) The Promise of Isaac, ch. 17. (8) The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, chs. 18-19. (7) Abraham lives at Gerar. Isaac is born and sacrificed, chs. 20-22. (8) Sarah's death, ch. 23. (9) Isaac is married, ch. 24. (10) Abraham and Ishmael die and Isaac's two sons, ch. 25. (11) Isaac dwells in Gerar and Jacob steals his brother's birthright, chs. 26-27. (12) Jacob's experiences as a fugitive and his roll and settlement in Canaan, chs. 28-36. Joseph's career and the settlement of the nation in Egypt, chs. 37-50.
The Purpose of Narrative. In this section we have given us, in brief form, the career of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their families and how we received the promises through them. Ages have passed since Noah and the people had grown wicked and turned from Jehovah to other gods. God had promised not to destroy the world with another flood, but he must employ other and new means. He, therefore, selects a man and in him a nation that should be his representative on earth. With this man and nation God would deposit his truth and in it the hopes of the race until the time when Christ the redeemer should come.
We pass, therefore, from the consideration of the beginnings of the history of the race and from the general history to the story of one man, Abraham and the chosen family and nation. All the rest of the Old Testament is an account of the victories and defeats of this nation.
The Conditions of the Times. At the time of Abraham three countries are of special interest, Chaldea, Egypt and Canaan. Outwardly there was a splendid civilization as is shown by the monuments. There were great cities with splendid palaces, temples and libraries. "There were workers in fabrics, metals, stones, implements and ornaments." Time was divided as now and sun-dials showed the time of day. Great systems of canals existed and the country was in a high state of cultivation. The pyramids were already old and a great stone wall had long ago been built across the isthmus of Suez to prevent the immigrants and enemies of the north from coming down upon them. In Tyre and Sidon there were great glass works and dying factories. There were also vast harbors crowded with sea going ships. Luxurious living was to be found everywhere.
Inwardly, however, there was a corrupt moral condition, which was hastening the nations to decay and to a ruin such as amazes all the world to this day. Ur of the Chaldees, the birth place and home of Abraham, was the seat of the great temple of the moon-god, and this sanctuary became so famous that the moon-god was known throughout all northern Syria as the Baal or Lord of Haran. The bad state of the times is suggested by Sodom and Gomorrah and their fate. For these cities were perhaps only typical of the entire civilization of the time.
In such a time and out of such a civilization God called Abraham, who should found a new nation that would serve him and form the basis of a new civilization. He also selected Canaan as the home of this new people. It was the geographical center of all the ancient world and a revelation of God made there would soon be know among all nations.
The Confirmations of the Biblical Record. Each new excavation made in the ruins of the ancient, long-buried, cities throws new light upon the scriptures and always confirms its statements. There are on the tablets of clay found in the old libraries statements concerning the social, commercial, religious and political conditions of the time of Abraham and before and all of them agree with the statements of Genesis. There has been found a record of the years of famine and the Pharaohs of the time have been determined.
The kings who captured Lot are now known. The Bible has suffered nothing at all from the knowledge gained from the ancient records.
The Experiences of Abraham. The call of Abraham as recorded In this section is probably from Ur of the Chaldees to Haran where his father died (11:31-32). His call is the most important event in the history of God's kingdom since the fall of man. It was indeed a new starting point for that kingdom. The call was accompanied by a promise or covenant in which God bound himself not to withdraw from Abraham (15:17-21). The call and work, together with the promises, may be put down somewhat as follows:
1. It was a call to separation from his home and native land. He was a large shepherd-farmer with large flocks and herds and a number of slaves. The family was perhaps of high rank in his country and there was a warm family affection in his family. Many others had gone from his country to the regions of the Mediterranean but always for gain or selfish betterment, Abraham went in obedience to the divine call. There was no selfishness in his move. He went for conscience' sake, somewhat as the Pilgrims, forsaking all the ties of nature that bound them to England, sailed to America in the Mayflower.
2. It was a call to service. The people of his time were falling into idolatry. Even Terah, his father, was an idolater and reputed to have been a maker of idol images. He was to serve the one true God and to stand for principle where everyone was against him. He was to enter into covenant relations with God and stand alone with him where all social and national customs were hostile.
3. It was a call to found a nation. The promise was to make of him a great nation that should have as its main purpose the service of the one God. God foresaw the ruin that was to come to all the nations of Abraham's time and prepared him and in him a new and spiritual nation which would produce a new and godly civilization. He died when Jacob was but a lad and did not see the fulfillment of the promise of the nation that should outlast Egypt or Babylon.
4. It was a call to be the father of a son. In 17:16 God promised him a son, Isaac, in whom his seed should be called (21:12). Out of him was to come a blessing to all nations. This promise was fulfilled in Christ, through whom all the nations of the earth have been blessed. Just as in Isaac Abraham became the head of a great earthly seed that should be as the sand of the sea, so in Jesus he should be the head of a great spiritual seed that should be as the stars of the heaven for numbers.
God often repeats his covenant and promises with Abraham, Gen. 12:1-7; 13:14-17; 15:1-21; 17:1-8; 18:18; 22:16-18. He often renews it in the generations to come as to Isaac, Gen. 26:1-5, and to Jacob, Gen. 28:10-15.
The Character of Abraham. How great is the name of Abraham today! He is revered by Jews, Mohammedans and Christians (ch. 12:2). In all history there is not a nobler character. The story of his life shows him to have been shrewd in business, of good temper, of warm domestic affections and possessed of much calm wisdom. He was generous in his dealings with others, looking well after their interests. He often made sacrifices for the well-being of others. The most significant thing about him, however, was his attitude toward God. His chief desire was to obey God. Wherever he went he erected an altar to God and in everything he manifested reverence, confidence, love and submission toward God. This is the chief element of his greatness.
The Character and Career of Isaac. The life of Isaac has but little in it that is of special interest. He probably spent most of his life in a quiet home near, or in Hebron. This has been taken to suggest that he was of a quiet and retiring disposition. He was not a man of energy and force of character such as Abraham, his father, but he had all his father's reverence for God. His faith in God was rewarded with a renewal of the promises which Abraham had received.
Among the incidents of his life that should be noted are the following: (1) His experience on Mount Moriah, when his father in obedience to God prepared to sacrifice him in worship. Such sacrifice was common in Babylonia, Phoenicia and Canaan. The submission to his father's will and evident obedience to the divine will indicated would seem to point to his faith in God. While he does not mention the matter himself and it is not referred to again in this section, the experience must have had much influence on his whole career. (2) The second notable event of his life was his marriage. In this story there is preserved the ancient customs of his father's provision for the marriage of the son. The story also shows the overruling influence of deity in his marriage. The whole experience was calculated to show his sincere relation to God who was leading. (3) The birth of his twin sons Esau and Jacob. They were so different in type that their descendants for centuries showed a like difference and even became antagonistic. Jacob was ambitious and persevering. Esau was frank and generous but shallow and unappreciative of the best things. The birthright carried with it two advantages: (1) The headship of the family. (2) A double portion of the inheritance (Dt. 21:15-17). Jacob set great value upon it, while Esau preferred a good dinner. Isaac's latter days were made dark because of the relation of these sons.
Stories Concerning Jacob. These are calculated to show that Jacob was clever and far-sighted and was willing to employ any mean, honorable or dishonorable, to gratify his ambition. They also show his suffering for his unfair acts and his final change to a new man. His deception of his father resulted in his becoming a fugitive from home and never again seeing his mother who aided him in his treachery. He was treated by Laban just as he himself had treated his brother. For twenty years he was deprived of the quiet and friendly life of his old home.
While away he had some religious experiences that made him a new man. His vision at Bethel taught him that Jehovah his God was also caring for him though in a strange land. He may have thought that Jehovah dwelt only among the people of his nation and that on leaving home he was also going beyond the protection of God. As a result he erected here a sanctuary that became sacred to all the Hebrews.
His struggle at the brook Jabbok made Jacob a new man. He had all along depended on his own wits. Now he is ready to return to his brother and show sorrow for his conduct. The incident is parallel to the struggle which a repentant man must wage against his lower nature. When the struggle is over he is a new man, a prince of god. Religion had become real to him and his whole future career is built on a new plan. He is still inventive and ambitious and persevering but is God's man doing God's will.
In connection with Jacob we have also the lessons concerning Esau. He was a man intent upon immediate physical enjoyment; an idle drifter without spiritual ideals. From his character and that of the Edomites, his descendants, there is taught the lesson that such an unambitious man or nation will always become degenerate and prove a failure. God himself cannot make a man out of an idle drifter.
The Stories About Joseph. The moral value of these stories is very great. They are told in a charm that is felt by all. The literary power and unity is remarkable. There is seen in them ideals of integrity and truthfulness. He is cheerful and uncomplaining and no adversity could destroy his ambitions. The study of this section will well reward a frequent review of it.
All the materials may be grouped around the following principal great periods or incidents of his life. (1) His childhood, where we find him petted and spoiled but ambitious and trustworthy and hated by his brethren. (2) His sale to the Egyptians and separation from his house and kindred, this including his slavery and the faithfulness he showed in such a position. (3) His position as overseer and his loyalty together with his temptation and unjust imprisonment. (4) His exaltation to the governorship of Egypt with his provisions for the famine and change of the whole system of land tenure, which put it all under royal control. It would also include his kindness to his father's family in providing for their preservation.
The stories have in them several elements that need to be noticed. (1) There are many sudden and striking contrasts. Such are his changes from a petted and spoiled boy in the home to a slave in Egypt; from an overseer of his master's house to a prisoner in the dungeon; for that dungeon to the governor of the powerful empire of the age. (2) His success is never based on or promoted by a miracle but is assured because he is of value to others. He wins no promotions by means of armor or conquests of power but by faithfulness to those whom he served. His is a conquest made by business sagacity. He is a hero of usefulness. (3) The use of his position to advance the interests of others is altogether out of line with the views of western students of society. We would hardly think it right for one to so earnestly promote the interests of a heathen sovereign as Joseph did in the case of his slave master and of Pharaoh. (4) The pathos and depth of feeling is not surpassed in all literature. This is especially true in the story of his relations with his brethren when they visit Egypt. Pent up emotion tugs at one's heart as one reads of the anxiety of the brothers, the fear of the fear of the father, and the burning affection of Joseph. The spirit of forgiveness and love for his humble kinsmen fill one with admiration.
The death of Jacob and Joseph. Jacob was greatly prospered and died at a ripe old age. He asked to be buried in Canaan and Joseph after having him embalmed went, accompanied by his kindred and friends, to Canaan and buried him according to his request. Before his death, he pronounced upon his sons a blessing that promised great increase in numbers and in political power.
After the death of Jacob, Joseph continued to show kindness to his brethren. Before his death, at the age of one hundred and ten years, he prophesied that God would come and lead them out of Egypt and took an oath of them that they would carry up his bones to the land of Canaan into which they would be delivered.
In Jacob's blessing on his sons and in Joseph's prophecy of their removal by God and his promises, they saw the providence of God in all the future of the race and expected its triumph.
These stories typical. The stories of this section are commonly thought to be typical of New Testament truth. While it is probably not best to make too much of this typical idea, it is safe to say that much of it is illustrative of such New Testament teachings. The career of Abraham, Isaac and Joseph each at some point or points suggests the life and work of Jesus. Abraham is called or appointed of God to be the head of a spiritual nation, he has revealed to him the will of God, he intercedes for a wicked Sodom and saved lot, all of which suggests the attitude and work of Jesus. Isaac is an only son, is offered in sacrifice, has secured for him a bride in a most unusual manner. This again in many ways illustrates the attitude and work of the Savior. But Joseph is perhaps more highly figurative of the Redeemer. His being hated and cast out by his brethren is like the rejection of Jesus; the way his wicked brethren came to him in their extremity and received forgiveness and sustenance suggest how a sinner finds mercy and life in Jesus; his prosperity and honor gained among others and the final coming of his brethren to him is suggestive in many of the details of the way the Jews rejected Jesus and of how, after Jesus has gained great power among Gentile nations, the Jews will finally repent of their national sin and accept the crucified Savior as the Jews' Messiah; the whole story of the humiliation, sufferings and exaltation of Joseph correspond to like events in the career of Jesus.
Social and Religious Conditions of the Times. There is little to suggest anything savage or barbarous. The spirit and language of courtesy is everywhere present. There is great hospitality and the marriage relation was respected by such heathen rulers as Pharaoh and Abimelech. When property was bought and sold the contracts were formal and were held sacred even though the owner was long absent as in the case of Abraham who bought the cave of Machpelah. Rebekah had bracelets, ear-rings, jewels of silver and of gold, and fine raiment as elements of adornment. There were slaves but they were kindly treated and made almost as part of the family. Wealthy people as Jacob employed their sons in the ordinary occupations such as caring for the sheep. In Egypt and Chaldea the arts were highly developed and there was much learning.
The worship of the patriarchs was very simple. They erected simple altars and offered on them burnt offerings. The erection of such altars and making such open profession of their worship were always among their first acts when they settled in a new place. There are some evidences that they observed the Sabbath of rest. Abraham gave a tithe to Melchizedek and Jacob promised God to do the same if he would bless him. God communed with them and gave them knowledge of his will and especially promised them great future blessing, through a deliverer that would come through the line of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Judah.
The Book of Job. There has been a general belief that the incidents recorded in the book of Job belong to this period or even to an earlier time. There is no mention of the bondage in Egypt nor of any of the early Hebrew patriarchs. The Sabeans and Chaldeans were Job's neighbor! and he lived "in the east" where the first settlements of mankind were made. The social religious and family life as portrayed in this book correspond to those of this period. There was art and invention; there was understanding of astronomy and mining; there was a fine family affection and evidences of social kindness and benevolence; there was high development of commerce and government; there was both the true and false or idolatrous worship. This book should be read following the outline given in the author's "The Bible Book by Book."
Lessons of the Period. It would be difficult to point out all the splendid lessons brought forward by these narratives but the following are among the more important ones. (1) God guides to a noble destiny all those who will be guided by him. (2) God reveals himself to all those who seek a revelation, no matter in what place or land, if only they are in the path of duty, (3) Unselfish service always brings a blessed reward. (4) God's blessing and guidance are not confined to Israel but are extended to other nations also. (5) A noble ambition, courage, unselfishness and childlike faith in God's leadership make men valuable to others in every age and walk of life. (6) A man or nation without spiritual ideal and bent on physical enjoyment will soon become degenerate as did Esau. (7) Even a fugitive, fleeing from his own crimes, is followed by the divine love and in his saddest moments and amidst his most discouraging surrounding circumstances is given glorious revelations. (8) In the divine providence our misfortunes of life often develop our nobler impulses of heart. (9) Unjust adversity cannot destroy a man of faith and integrity of character, if only he manifest a cheerful and helpful spirit. (10) God overrules evil for good, so that all things can bring good to them that love God. (11) Loyalty to unfortunate kindred in the time of success is a sure sign of nobility of character.
For Study and Discussion. (1) The several appearances of God to Abraham: (a) The purpose of each; (b) its influence in the life of Abraham. (2) The promises made to Abraham and renewed to Isaac and Jacob noting the progressive nature of the revelation seen in these promises. (3) Select four prominent persons besides Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, sketched in the section, and study them. (4) The other nations introduced in the narrative. (5) The moral condition of the times. (6) The worship of God seen in the section. (7) The points of weakness and strength in each of the patriarchs mentioned. (8) The disappointments and family troubles of Jacob as seen in the light of his early deceptions. (9) Other illustrations that a man will reap whatever he sows. (10) The strong family ties, seen especially in the matter of marriage. (11) The fundamental value of faith in life. (12) God's judgment and blessings of heathen people on behalf of his own chosen people. (13) The different immigrations of Abraham and others. (14) The places of historical importance mentioned. (15) The promises or types and symbols of Christ and the New Testament times.
From Egypt to Sinai.
Ex. Chs. 1-19
Israel in Egypt. The length of time the Hebrews remained In Egypt is a perplexing question. Exodus 6:16-20 makes Moses the fourth generation from Levi (See Gen. 15:16; Num. 26:57-59). This would make it about 150 years. Gen. 15:13 predicts 400 years. Ex. 12:40 says they were there 430 years and Paul (Gal. 3:17) says 430 years from Abraham to Sinai. These apparently conflicting dates may be explained because of different methods of counting generations, probably based on long lives of men of that period or they may have had a different point to mark the beginning and end of the sojourn. If the Pharaoh of Joseph was one of the Hyksos or Shepherd kings, as has been the common view, and if the Pharaoh "that knew not Joseph" was, as is the general belief, Rameses II, the period of 430 years would about correspond to the historical data.
Their oppression grew out of the fear of the king lest they should assist some of the invaders that constantly harassed Egypt on the North. They may have assisted the shepherd kings under whom Joseph has risen and who had just been expelled. To cripple and crush them there was given them hard and exhaustive tasks of brick making under cruel task-masters. There still remains evidence of this cruelty in the many Egyptian buildings built of brick, made of mud mixed with straw and dried in the sun. When it was found that they still increased in number in spite of the suffering. Pharoah tried, at first privately then publicly, to destroy all the male children. This order does not seem to have been long in force but was a terrible blow to a people like the Hebrews whose passion for children, and especially for male children, has always been proverbial.
It is difficult to gather from this narrative the varied influence of this sojourn upon the Hebrews themselves. They doubtless gained much of value from the study of the methods of warfare and military equipment of the Egyptians. They learned much of the art of agriculture and from the social and political systems of this enlightened people. No doubt many of their choicest men received educational training that fitted them for future leadership. Their suffering seems on the one hand to have somewhat deadened them, destroying ambition. On the other, it bound them together by a common bond and prepared the way for the work of Moses, the deliverer, and for the real birth of the nations.
Moses the Deliverer. Chapters 2 and 4 tell the wonderful story of the birth of Moses, of his loyalty to his people, of his sojourn in Midian and of his final call to the task of the deliverance of Israel. His wonderful life-a life to which all the centuries are indebted-is naturally divided into three parts. (1) His early life of forty years at the court of Pharaoh. By faith his parents trusted him to the care of Providence and he was brought to the house of Pharoah and was taught in all the learning of the Egyptians, who conducted great universities and were highly cultured in the arts and sciences (Acts 7:22). Finally feeling it to be his duty to renounce his worldly glory and identify himself with his Hebrew brethren, he made the choice by faith (Heb. 11:24-27). He no doubt felt then the call to be their deliverer but did not find his countrymen ready to accept him as such (Acts 7:25-28). Whereupon he fled to the wilderness of Midian. (2) Forty years in the desert where he gained an intimate knowledge of all the wilderness through which for forty years he was to lead the Hebrews in their wanderings. Here he had opportunity to learn patience and meditate and gain the ability to wait on God. Here God finally appeared to him and gave him definite and ample instructions for his task of delivering out of bondage this crushed and ignorant slave race and for making of them a nation of the purest spiritual and moral ideals the world has ever known. (3) Forty years as leader and lawgiver for Israel while they tabernacled in the wilderness.
Perhaps three reasons led Moses to undertake the task of leaving Midian and championing the cause of Israel. (1) He had a vision of God the holy one of all power who would be with him. (2) The conviction that the time was ripe, because of the death of the king of Egypt and the years of weak government that followed. (3) By over-ruling all objections God gave him an overwhelming sense of his responsibility in the matter. He saw it as his personal duty.
The call of Moses consists of two elements. (1) The human element which consisted of a knowledge of the needs of the Hebrew people. To him, as to all great leaders and benefactors of the race, the cry of the oppressed or needy constituted the first element of a call to enlist in their service. (2) The divine element. God heard the cry of his people and remembered his covenant with Abraham and appeared to Moses in a burning bush and sent him to deliver them from under the tyranny of Pharaoh. Like Isaiah (Is. Ch.6) he not only saw the need of his people but also the holy God calling him to supply the need.
Moses task was three fold: (1) Religious: He was to show in Egypt weakness of the idolatrous worship and to establish in the wilderness the true worship of one and only God who is ruler of all. (2) Political: He was to overcome the power of the mighty Pharaoh and deliver a people of 600,000 men besides the children with their herds and flocks out of his territory. Then, too, he was to give them laws and so connect them together that as a nation they would survive the hostile nations around them and the civil strife and dissensions within. (3) Social: He was also called upon to provide rules by which, to keep clean not only the individual, but his family, and to teach them right relations to each other. In carrying out this program, it devolved upon him to provide an elaborate code of civil, sanitary, ceremonial, moral and religious laws.
The Great Deliverance. The deliverance may be properly considered in three sections. (1) The preparation. (2) The contest with Pharoah and the ten plagues. (3) The crossing of the Red Sea.
The preparation consists (1) in getting the people acquainted with what God intended to do and thereby secure their full consent to enter into the plan. Then, too, it was necessary to have a very thorough organization so that the expedition could proceed in an orderly way. (2) There were various preliminary appeals to Pharaoh with the consequent added burdens laid upon the Hebrews.
The contest with Pharaoh consisted of certain preliminary demands followed by ten national calamities intended to force the king to let the people go. The struggle was all based upon the request of Moses that all Israel be allowed to go three days' journey into the wilderness to serve their God. This gave the conflict a religious aspect and showed that the struggle was not merely one between Moses and Pharaoh, but between the God of Israel and the gods of Egypt.
All the plagues, therefore, had a distinct religious significance: (1) To show them the power of Jehovah (Ex. 7:17); (2) to execute judgment against the gods of Egypt (Ex. 12:12). Every plague was calculated to frustrate Egyptian worship or humiliate some Egyptian god. For example, the lice covered everything and were miserably polluting. All Egyptian worship was compelled to cease, since none of the priests could perform their religious service so long as any such insect had touched them since they went through a process of purification. In smiting the cattle with murrain, the sacred bull of Memphis was humiliated whether stricken himself or because of his inability to protect the rest of the cattle.
These plagues grew more severe with each new one. And much effort has been made to show that one would have led to another. Much has been said also, to show that the plagues, at least most of them, were events that were common in Egypt and that they were remarkable only for their severity. Such attempts to explain away the miraculous element are based upon the wrong view of a miracle. The very occurrence in response to the word of Moses and at such time as to each time meet a particular condition, or to make a certain desired impression, would put them out of the pale of the pale of the ordinary and into the list of the extraordinary or miraculous. At all events the sacred writer, the Hebrews in Egypt at the time, and the Egyptians all believed the strong hand of Jehovah was laid bare on behalf of his people. So it must seem to all who now believe that God rules in his universe.
In connection with and just preceding the tenth plague, there was institutioned the Passover to celebrate their deliverance from Egypt and especially the passing of the Hebrew homes by the angel who went abroad in Egypt to slay the first born. It was this plaque that finally showed Pharaoh and his people the folly of resisting Jehovah and assured Israel of his power. The paschal lamb, whose blood sprinkled upon the door posts and lintels of the dwelling saved the Hebrew, is a beautiful type of Christ and his saving blood. This feast became one of great joy, annually celebrated, during all future Hebrew history.
The Crossing of the Red Sea. For three days and nights God led them by a pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night. At the end of the third day they had reached the shore of the Red Sea and were shut in by mountains on each side. They were greatly frightened to find that Pharaoh with a host of chariot-warriors was in close pursuit of them. But God caused the cloud that had been leading them to remove to their rear and to throw a shadow upon their enemies while giving power to the east wind (Ex. 14:21) that caused the waters of the sea to divide so they could cross on dry ground. When Pharaoh and his hosts attempted to follow then. God caused the waters to return and overwhelm them. As in former miracles, Moses was God's instrument in performing this miracle. When they were safe across and saw the overthrow of their enemies their feelings of joy expressed themselves in a great song of victory in which they ascribe praise to God and recount the incidents of his work of deliverance.
The Journey to Sinai. It is not possible to locate all the stations at which they stopped on their journey from the Red Sea to the time of their encampment at the foot of Horeb or Sinai. The list is given in Numbers, Chapter thirty-three. For our purpose it is sufficient to notice only a few places and incidents of the journey. (1) They encamped at Marah, being the first watering place they had found. The water, however, was bitter and could not be used until God had enabled Moses by a miracle to sweeten it. This was the first example of divine support for them. (2) At Elim they found water and shade and here God gave them the manna from heaven and the quail at eventide. Thus again Jehovah demonstrated his purpose to provide for their needs while wandering through the wilderness. This food was supplied to them continuously until they reached Canaan forty years later. (3) Under the leadership of the cloud, which during all the forty years of wilderness wandering, was their guide, they next encamped at Rephidim where there was no water at all. Here Moses by the command of God smote a rock and caused them to drink of a fountain thus opened for them. This rock is a suggestive type of Christ.
It was here also that they encountered and defeated the Amalekites, a tribe of Edomites, who still kept up the enmity of Esau their father against Jacob. Here also Jethro, Moses' father-in-law came to them bringing Moses wife and sons. Upon Jethro's advice the people were thoroughly organized. From Rephidim they came to Mount Sinai where they encamped for a whole year.
Lessons of the Period. The lessons of this period might be divided into two classes. (1) Those of special value to the Hebrews themselves and lessons needed just then. (2) Those valuable for all time and all people. Among those of the first class, the following are worthy of record: (1) The authority of Moses was confirmed and the people were made ready for his teachings and leadership. (2) They were established in the popular belief in the goodness and power of Jehovah their God. Of the second and more general lessons, the following are highly important: (1) There is no chance in God's universe, but even the apparently unimportant events serve his purposes. (2) No human power whether of king or peasant or of nation can prevent the accomplishment of God's purposes. (3) Those who resist his power are overthrown as were the Egyptians, and those who act according to the divine will are elevated just as were the Israelites. (4) It is dangerous to oppose or harm God's people. He will avenge them. (5) Ample provisions are assured to those who will submit to divine leadership.
For Study and discussion. (1) The number of Hebrews that entered Egypt with Jacob, and the number that made the Exodus with Moses. (2) The Biblical story of their suffering while there, including the added burdens when Moses requested that they be allowed to go out to Egypt. (3) The birth, preservation and education of Moses. (4) Moses' forty years of wilderness training, its advantages and dangers. (5) The divine and human elements in Moses' call to be the deliverer. (6) The plagues, (a) the description of each, (b) the appropriateness and religious significance of each, (c) those imitated by Egyptian magicians, (d) those in which the Egyptians suffered and Israel did not. (7) The stubbornness of Pharaoh and his attempted compromises. (8) The miracles of this period other than the plagues. (9) God's provision and care for his people. (10) The murmurings of Israel. (11) The religious conditions of the times. (12) The geography of the country.
From Sinai to Kadesh.
Ex. 20-Num. 14
Mount Sinai. There are differences of opinion concerning the location of this mountain. It is sometimes called Horeb (Ex. 3:1; 17:6. etc.). All the Old Testament references to it clearly indicate that it was in the vicinity of Edom and connect it with Mt. Seir (Deut. 33:3; Judg. 5:4-5). Several points have been put forward as the probable site, but there can not now be any certainty as to the exact location. All the evidence both of the scripture and of the discoveries of archaeologists seem to point to one of the southwestern spurs of Mt. Seir as the sacred mountain. The differences of opinion as to location do not affect the historical reality of the mountain nor the certainty that at its base there took place the most important event in the history of the Hebrew people.
The Sinaitic Covenant. At the foot of Sinai and in the midst of grandly impressive manifestations of Jehovah, Israel entered into solemn covenant relations with Him. It was a covenant of blood and was the most sacred and inviolable ceremony known to the ancient peoples. Half of the blood was sprinkled on the alter and half upon the people, thus signifying that all had consented to the terms of the covenant. In this covenant Israel is obligated to loyalty, service and worship, while Jehovah is to continue to protect and deliver them. This covenant is commonly called "The Law of Moses." All the rest of the Old Testament is a development of this fundamental law and shows the application of it in the experience of Israel.
The Purpose of the Mosaic Law. It should be observed that the rewards and punishments of this law were mainly confined to this life. Instead of leading them to believe that outward obedience to it would bring personal salvation and, therefore, instead of superseding the plan of salvation through a redeemer, that had been announced to Adam and Eve, and confirmed in the covenant with Abraham, it pointed to the Savior. The sacrifices foreshadowed the substitution of the Lamb of God as a means of their deliverance for sin and its punishment.
There are probably two purposes in promulgating this law. (1) To preserve the Israelites as a separate and peculiar people. To the weld the scattered fugitives from Egypt into a nation, distinct from other nations, required laws that would make them different in customs, religion and government. (2) A second purpose was to provide additional spiritual light, that they might know the way of salvation more perfectly.
The Several Parts of the Law. On the whole the law contains three parts. (1) The Law of Duty. This is given in the form of ten commandments (Ex. ch. 20) and relates to individual obligations, (a) The first four define one's obligations to God. (b) The fifth defines our relation to parents, (c) The last five define our relation to the other members of society. These ten words define religion in terms of life and deed as well as worship. They reach the very highest standard and, in the last command, trace crime back to the motive even to the thought in the mind of man. They point out duties arising out of the unchangeable distinctions of right and wrong.
(2) The law of Mercy. This law is found in the instructions concerning the priesthood and the sacrifices. Through these were seen; (a) the need of an atonement for the sinner's guilt; (b) the need of inward cleansing on the part of all; (c) the redemption of the forfeited life of the sinner by another life being substituted in its stead and only by that means; (d) the fact that God would punish wrong-doing and reward righteousness. This is also called "The Law of Holiness" or "The Ceremonial Law" and was intended to show Israel man's sinfulness and how a sinful people could approach a holy God and themselves become holy. It, therefore, deals with such matters as personal chastity, unlawful marriages and general social purity and the religious behavior by which they were to be absolved from all impurity and symbolically to be made pure again.
(3) The Law of Justice. This is composed of miscellaneous civil, criminal, humane and sanitary laws, calculated to insure right treatment of one another and thus promote the highest happiness of all: (a) There was to be kindness and justice to each other including slaves, and also to domestic animals; This is beautifully shown in the provisions for the treatment of the poor, the aged and the afflicted; (b) The rights of property were to be sacredly regarded and all violations of such rights severely punished as in the case of fraud or theft; (c) Laws of sanitation and health guarded the imprudent against the contraction of disease and protected the wicked or careless against its spread and thereby saved Israel from epidemics of malignant disease. Thus the right of the innocent and helpless were insured; (d) The sanctity of the home and of personal virtue was held inviolable and every transgressor, such as the man who should commit adultery with another man's wife, was put to death; (e) Life was to be sacred. No man being able to give it was to take it from another and so the murderer was to pay the penalty by giving his life.
These laws were so amplified as to meet every demand of the domestic, social, civic and industrial relations of the nation. There could hardly be designed a happier life than the proper observance of all these laws would have brought to Israel. This legislation reached its noblest expression in the law of the neighbor: "Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself" (Lev. 19:18). It is the final word in all right relation to others.