'Studies in the Old Testament'

The Abrahamic Covenant - 3

February 2009

(Continued from page 479)

Abram's brothers

The book of Exodus begins in 1876 B.C. by re-stating, in Exodus 1:1-51, the names of those who came into Egypt with Jacob to join Joseph who had been used by God to preserve His chosen:

1  Now these are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob; they came each one with his household:  2  Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah;  3  Issachar, Zebulun and Benjamin;  4  Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher.  5  And all the persons who came from the loins of Jacob were seventy in number, but Joseph was already in Egypt.

Thus, Chapter 1 covers that time period from 1876 until the birth of Moses, recorded in chapter 2. We can read in Acts 7, that Moses was forty years old when he fled from Egypt and, having spent forty years in the wilderness in Midian, he was eighty years of age when he led the children of Israel out of bondage.  We read of this in Acts 7:23-30
1, noting verse 23 and 30:

23  "But when he was approaching the age of forty, it entered his mind to visit his brethren, the sons of Israel.  24  "And when he saw one of them being treated unjustly, he defended him and took vengeance for the oppressed by striking down the Egyptian.  25  "And he supposed that his brethren understood that God was granting them deliverance through him; but they did not understand.  26  "And on the following day he appeared to them as they were fighting together, and he tried to reconcile them in peace, saying, 'Men, you are brethren, why do you injure one another?'  27  "But the one who was injuring his neighbour pushed him away, saying, 'WHO MADE YOU A RULER AND JUDGE OVER US?  28  'YOU DO NOT MEAN TO KILL ME AS YOU KILLED THE EGYPTIAN YESTERDAY, DO YOU?'  29  "And at this remark MOSES FLED, AND BECAME AN ALIEN IN THE LAND OF MIDIAN, where he became the father of two sons.  30  "And after forty years had passed, AN ANGEL APPEARED TO HIM IN THE WILDERNESS OF MOUNT Sinai, IN THE FLAME OF A BURNING THORN BUSH.
Knowing that the period of time in the wilderness lasted forty years, we can look at Deuteronomy 34:7
1, and see that Moses died at the age of 120:

7  Although Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died, his eye was not dim, nor his vigour abated.

This reveals that the life of Moses was divided into three periods of forty years each. Using our previous information about the date of the Exodus, we can date the birth of Moses at 1526 B.C.  Between Exodus 2:1 and Exodus 3:2, about eighty years transpired before Moses returned to Egypt, and then, from the night of the passover, until the tabernacle was set up at the end of the book of Exodus (Chapter 40), only thirteen months elapsed.  Most Christians will assume that the wilderness wanderings occurred during the book of Exodus, but we find that this is not born out by the records.  We know that the Exodus began a new system of measuring time for the Israelites and the new life free from bondage marked a new beginning of years for them so that everything dates from the time when they left Egypt.  Turning to Exodus 40:17
1, we see that by this time the children of Israel have left Egypt and have gone down into Sinai, Moses has made his two Mount Sinai trips, and the tabernacle is constructed. Verse 17 tells us that after all these events, it is only the first month of the second year:

Now it came about in the first month of the second year, on the first day of the month, that the tabernacle was erected.

So we know that approximately thirteen months have elapsed between the Exodus from Egypt and the end of the book and can put a date of approximately 1445 B.C. alongside Exodus 40:17.

Although Leviticus has no chronology we learn that about a month transpires between the section we have just examined in Exodus and the movement indicated and initiated in the book of Numbers 1:1-4
1 where we are informed (verse 1) that it is the first of the second month in the second year after they have come out of the land of Egypt:

1 Then the LORD spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tent of meeting, on the first of the second month, in the second year after they had come out of the land of  Egypt, saying,  2  "Take a census of all the congregation of the sons of Israel, by their families, by their fathers' households, according to the number of names, every male, head by head  3  from twenty years old and upward, whoever is able to go out to war in Israel, you and Aaron shall number them by their armies.  4  "With you, moreover, there shall be a man of each tribe, each one head of his father's household.

So, the book of Numbers begins in the second year after the exodus and the Book of Numbers informs us that they are instructed to take a census of all the men. Since Exodus ended at 1445 B.C., the book of Numbers begins with that year and covers a period of about 39 years.  If we return to the end of the book of Deuteronomy 34:7, the death of Moses would have occurred in 1406 B.C. and this dates the end of the wanderings, because Deuteronomy 1:3
1 tells us that forty years have elapsed:

3  And it came about in the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, that Moses spoke to the children of Israel, according to all that the LORD had commanded him to give to them..... 

and so we can date the book of Deuteronomy, and especially Chapter 34, verse 7, as 1406 B.C.

The book of Joshua began in 1406 B.C. when the responsibility of leadership passed to Joshua from Moses. From internal evidence it appears that the events of the book cover about twenty-one years and hence Joshua's leadership lasts from 1406 until his death in 1385 B.C., which is therefore also the date of the end of the Book of Joshua 24:29

29  And it came about after these things that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being one hundred and ten years old.
The book of Judges records Jewish history from 1385 B.C., immediately after the death of Joshua, and therefore continues from the close of the Book of Joshua.  Internal evidence shows that the time period lasted approximately 335 years, which includes the period of the Book of Ruth, as we will see later by examining the book in detail.  Judges dates from approximately 1385 to 1050 B.C. and the book of I Samuel begins covering history from 1100 B.C., and thus there is a fifty year overlap between the end of Judges and the beginning of I Samuel. First Samuel covers a time span from the birth of Samuel in 1100 B.C., to the death of Saul in 1010 B.C., so we have forty net years, or a total of ninety years of history. Second Samuel begins in 1010 B.C. and covers almost forty years of history until approximately 970BC (some authorities approximate the year as 975 B.C.)  First Kings begins in 970 B.C. ending with the death of Ahab in 853 B.C., and the book includes a year or two following Ahab's death, so we remember that approximately 117 years are contained in total in I Kings.  II Kings uses the death of Ahab as the pivotal point, taking up the history beginning in 853 and continuing until 586 B.C., and this record of 267 years of history culminates with the Babylonian Captivity at the end of this book. I and II Chronicles begin with a genealogical synopsis from Adam down to 539 B.C. and, therefore, II Chronicles includes forty-seven more years of history than is contained in II Kings.

Following the Babylonian Captivity, Ezra takes up the history of Judah from 539 B.C. to 457 B.C. for an additional eighty-two years, but we have no book recording the history of Judah from 457 to 445, so the history of these twelve years remains untold, but Nehemiah picks up the history again in 445/444 B.C.  By adding the years recorded in these books we have 962 total years of history.  This number, when subtracted from 1406 B.C., which is the date of the entrance into Canaan as recorded in Joshua Chapter 1-3, provides us with 444 B.C. as the date for Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem.  The final pieces of the jigsaw puzzle come into place, after this magnificent work, when Malachi records the final piece of history regarding Judah in his book dating to approximately 400 B.C.

So, the writing of the Old Testament began with Moses, who wrote between 1446 to 1406 B.C., and finishes at approximately 400 B.C., with the book of Malachi. Following Malachi, we know that the voice of prophecy was silent in the land for four centuries until John the Baptist came on the scene to proclaim repentance and to announce the presence of the King, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Our Old Testament presents 1400 years of history from the life and writings of Moses, to the announcement of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!  (John 1:29).  When the history of the Old Testament is presented is this way and the prophets are interfaced in the historical periods to which they belong, the Old Testament is found to be exciting and more easily understood.

Thus we can follow the story of the covenant nation, through whom the promised Seed would come, from its beginning with Abraham (who was originally called Abram), and his calling by God out from Ur of the Chaldees.  We discovered from our previous studies that Ur was a thriving civilization and our examination of Genesis 11:26 revealed that Abram had two brothers named Nahor and Haran, the latter being the father of Lot, Abram's nephew. Abram's other brother, Nahor, was the father of Bethuel, who became the father of Rebekah and her brother Laban who became the father of Leah and Rachel. Thus we see the family relationship that included Abram, his son Isaac, grandson Jacob, and the offspring of his two brothers Nahor and Haran.  The accounts of their incident filled lives with marvellous miracles and horrendous depravities reminds us again that these great Old Testament personalities were men of the same weaknesses, failures and passions as us.  We do well to learn from their mistakes and pattern our lives on their victories, remembering always that it is God who is at work in us as He was with them in their trials and tribulations (Philippians 1:6; 2:12-13).

(Continued on page 481)

'The Abrahamic Covenant'

Genesis 3:15 and its importance to Old Testament history and Christianity

Theories of the origin of the world and mankind

Abram's brothers

Promises and validation of the Abrahamic covenant

Isaac's prayer for his barren wife related to twentieth century Christianity

Jacob and Esau

Jacob's eleven sons

Esau, Jacob and Laban

Joseph in Egypt

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