Understanding the O.T. Through Jewish Eyes


 The Hebrew Bible

The Bible begins with the Book of Genesis, the story of creation of this world, the first of five of the Jewish and Christian holy books. In Hebrew the word Genesis is Bereshith (bear eh sheet), meaning “in the beginning”.
Jews refer to those religious texts as the Tanakh, holy canonical writings that consist of three sections:
Torah – teachings or law, consisting of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy (Second Law).
The word Torah has a variety of meanings, depending on context: Within Pentateuch=individual instruction, law. Can refer to entire written and oral law, and entire Pentateuch.
Nevi’im – prophetic writings consisting of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, minor prophets – Hosea through Malachi. (minor refers to length of book, not value of prophecy).
Ketuvim – writings or hagiographa (third part of the Old Testament canon), consisting of eleven books including Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, Book of Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes and Book of Esther, Daniel, Ezra-Nehimiah and Chronicles.

There was also an oral Torah, in the time of the Sadducees, the group of Jews opposed to the Pharisees of the 2nd century A.D. It is said that the oral Torah was revealed only to Moses. It consisted of stories and legal traditions. In Rabbinic (orthodox) Jewry the oral Torah is essential to the understanding of the written Torah because it is divinely inspired. It contained laws, stories and esoteric knowledge (Kaballah) . Also, written Torah was translated into Greek, Latin, English and eventually other languages. Oral Torah is pure and undefiled from translation.

 (See my 6/15/09 article Jewish Mysticism: Kaballah at https://judaicaworld.wordpress.com/overflow-articles/ ). Major portions have been written out as commentaries: Mishnah, Tosefta, Midrash and both the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds.

The Creation according the Genesis is the account of the creation of the world and it is given in Jewish theology as the year and date: 1 Tishrei 1 am, equivalent to Monday, 7 October, 3760 BCE. This is calculated by adding up the ages of people in the Bible back to the time of creation. The date is based upon the oldest post-exilic (after the Exile) chronicle preserved in the Hebrew language, written about 160 BCE and referred to as the “Seder Olam Rabbah” (Order of the world, according to its most scholarly scribe). The current year according to the Hebrew calendar is 5770.
 
God’s creation comes through His divine speech which directs and narrates the seven-day period when this earth and its heavens were assembled, the seventh day becoming the biblical Sabbath (Shabat). There are many creation myths but the Hebrew account emphasizes the supremacy of Yahweh, the single god of Israel, elevating Him over all other gods, including Marduk, the god of Babylon. According to the O.T. creation story, a day begins the evening before, hence all Jewish holidays begin “erev”, the evening before the day of the holiday.

Genesis is the story of the patriarchs. The story of Moses, the Exodus from Egypt (1250 b.c.) and the wanderings in the desert make up the other four books of the Pentateuch. 

Compiled from various reliable sources of Hebrew scholarship  
Posted by Marlena Tanya Muchnick 1 comments Links to this post Labels:

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