Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Torah: The Five Books of Moses

The Torah: The Five Books of MosesThe Torah: The Five Books of Moses by Anonymous

The Torah is also the first five books of the Old Testament of the Christian Bible, the Pentateuch. From Wikipedia: Bereshit/Genesis (בְּרֵאשִׁית, literally "In the beginning"); Shemot /Exodus (שִׁמוֹת, literally "Names"); Vayikra/Leviticus (ויקרא, literally "And He called"); Bəmidbar/Numbers (במדבר, literally "In the desert [of]"); Devarim/Deuteronomy (דברים, literally "Things" or "Words")."

I'm not going to rate or review holy books, but I will mention a few things mostly for my own reference in case I want to return to something specific later.

Genesis has the stories of Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and his two wives Leah and Rachel, and finally Joseph. Joseph becomes a big deal in Egypt because he is an effective food administrator.

After Genesis, the other four books are about Moses. Exodus is the most revolutionary. Leviticus has a lot of rules with harsh punishments. Numbers is largely a census that requires some skimming. Deuteronomy is very violent in the beginning, and then becomes a summary of the story of Moses and the rules of Leviticus. And then it becomes very violent again.

Some of the rules are fascinating. We hear about Biblical prohibitions of gay relationships all the time, but sleeping with a man's wife is also punishable by death (that would affect a lot of Congressmen which is perhaps why they are so silent on the matter). If a man rapes an unengaged virgin woman , the rapist must marry her. (But if she was engaged to a man, the rapist must be put to death.) Men may have multiple wives, but he can't disinherit his first born son even if the first born son comes from the wife he doesn't love as much. No wearing linen and wool together. A widow must marry her brother-in-law unless he totally refuses to marry her, which he shouldn't do. There is a harsh punishment for a step-brother and step-sister that marry too, and various other marriages that don't involve blood relations. There are so many more but these stood out in my memory for obvious reasons.

Also, I'm strangley curious about the "Nephilim":

"When people began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that they were fair; and they took wives for themselves of all that they chose. Then the Lord said, 'My spirit shall not abide in mortals forever, for they are flesh; their days shall be one hundred twenty years.' The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went in to the daughters of humans, who bore children to them. These were the heroes that were of old, warriors of renown." (Genesis 6:1-4, New Revised Standard Version)


"The Lord said to Moses, 'Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites' . . . So they went up and spied out the land . . . And they told him: '. . . Yet the people who live in the land are strong, and the towns are fortified and very large; and besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there.' . . . So they brought to the Israelites an unfavorable report of the land that they had spied out, saying, 'The land that we have gone through as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people that we saw in it are of great size. 33 There we saw the Nephilim (the Anakites come from the Nephilim); and to ourselves we seemed like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.'" (Numbers 13:1-2; 21; 27-28; 32-33. New Revised Standard Version).

Numbers (and I think Deuteronomy?) also mention Anak, the Anakim, and the Rephaim.

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