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The course of history constituting the earlier half of the Old Testament falls into three main divisions, with subdivisions. One feature of the whole is the way in which the Chosen People of God changes from the Nation of Israel into the single Kingdom of Judah, and finally into the Jewish Church.
Early History of the Chosen Nation
The World before the Call of Abraham
The Exodus: Consolidation into a Nation during the
Deuteronomy: The Chosen Nation as a Theocracy, with
The Judges: Transition from Theocracy to Secular Monarchy
Kings and Prophets: Secular Government of Kings with Spiritual Opposition of Prophets
Reigns of David and Solomon
The Schism: Kingdoms of Israel and Judah side by side
The Captivity and Return
Stories and Songs of the Captivity
The Return: The Chosen Nation transformed into the
EARLY HISTORY OF THE CHOSEN NATION
THE WORLD BEFORE THE CALL OF ABRAHAM
The word 'Testament' means 'Covenant,' and the Old Testament is the literature presenting the Covenant, or mutual relations, between God and the Chosen Nation of Israel. But Genesis I-II the first ancestor of this Israel does not appear until the twelfth chapter of the Bible. The eleven preceding chapters are introductory: they present the World before the Call of the Chosen Nation. In place of a covenant with a particular people, we have covenants between God and all mankind represented by common ancestors, Adam and Noah.
The starting point is the celebration, in the form of a Story [or rhythmic chant: see Notes], of the creation of the world.
The Creation of the World
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was waste and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep: and the spirit of God moved upon the face of the
And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was
so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let the earth put forth grass, herb yielding seed, and fruit tree bearing fruit after its kind, wherein is the seed thereof, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, herb yielding seed after its kind, and tree bearing fruit, wherein is the seed thereof, after its kind: and God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a third day.
And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons and for days and years: and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made the two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.
And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and let fowl fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created the great sea-monsters, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kinds, and every winged fowl after its kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.
And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after its kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after its kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after its kind, and the cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the ground after its kind: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he
him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them: and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat: and to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
And the heaven and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it: because that in it he rested from all his work which God had created and made.
What follows represents the appearance of sin in the world: the Story of the Temptation in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve, the first ancestors of mankind, dwell in the paradise or garden of Eden, the enjoyment of which is free to them, except for one forbidden tree, symbolically named the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil: the eating of its fruit would involve death. A supernatural Tempter, in the form of a serpent endowed with speech, persuades Eve to doubt the threat of death; she eats of the forbidden fruit, and brings Adam to eat of it. God appears to denounce the sin, which has brought toil and suffering and death into the world. Adam and Eve are driven out of the paradise.
In the next generation sin takes the form of crime. We have the Story of Cain and Abel: two children of Adam, the one a feeder of flocks, the other a cultivator of the ground. Cain broods over a suspicion that the offerings of Abel are more acceptable to God than his own; in a moment of hate he slays his brother. The curse of God drives him to be a wanderer over the earth.
Mankind multiplies, and the whole world is corrupt. The