Personal Note

Although this page is written by an evangelical Christian, I have tried to write it from a Jewish prospective. I have therefore used G-d, L-rd and HaShem (The Name), which are the convention on most Jewish sites.  I have used English rather than Hebrew names because that is what I know, and probably represents the more common knowledge of possible readers.  I struggle a bit with the Jewish sites like torah.org because of the Hebrew names so they would not suit my purpose here.  I have used English verse numbers and the NIV translation (except where noted) for Biblical citations (Hebrew verse numbering varies somewhat from the English) again from a comfort perspective.  Where dates are stated I have used BC rather than BCE. I am a Christian, this is a Christian web site, if you are not a Christian you need not be offended especially in this context.  

Part of this exercise is to come to grips with Jewish thinking.  (A perplexing business.)  I had been led to believe that Judaism was all about observing the laws.  There are holidays and a liturgical calendar. Indeed there is a notion of being an Observant Jew. Baal Teshuva (Master of Return) is defined my many to be the returning of a Jew to an observant lifestyle. There is also the notion that being a Jew is not about belief or even actions... it is a birth-right. I have found, however, that there is a side to Judaism or at least rabbinical writings, that emphasizes emunah (faith) as the key to living Torah, indeed it is difficult to separate the notions of faith and works in Jewish thought, a position that would be helpful for the Christian as well.  There is also teshuva (repentance or returning) and Ch'ain (grace). Without Ch'ain there could be no teshuva. There is an interplay of the holiness of the law and the necessity for atonement. There is also a sense in which the chosenness of Israel is more a responsibility than it is good fortune. Bringing with it the requirement to live before the rest of the world so that they will know that Torah is the law of G-d.

I read somewhere that Judaism is a religion based on relationships: G-d’s Relationship with the human person, a person’s relationship with G-d, people’s individual relationships with each other, and the Chosen People’s relationships with other nations. The law reflects these relationships and provides a blueprint for a society that cares for its weaker members. The feasts of the Torah recall the great acts of G-d in the lives of his people.  These are clear teachings of the Tanakh and emerge easily from the story, though not perhaps from my summary.

True to my purpose of this site, this page does not focus on the details of the law but rather the story.  The story that begins at the creation of the world and centers on the one nation on the earth that was called out of humanity to receive Torah.  The story tells us a lot about the nature of G-d and the nature of man and provides for us many lessons to do with that relationship.  Using this history as a parable is not a new idea consider Psalm 78. While Jewish practice centers around the Torah the historical narrative runs through the Prophets and so does this summary.  The Writings too provide no little insight into the workings of G-d. Daniel and Ezra-Nehemiah especially complete the biblical narrative with stories of survival in captivity and the return of Israel to nationhood.

-TED

 


Introduction

The Jews divide the Bible into three divisions: the Torah or law, Nevi’im  (neh-veh-EEM) or prophets and the Kethuvim (keh-tu-VEEM) or writings. Together they are referred to as the TaNaKh.

These divisions are old.  We find references to these  divisions in the introduction to the book of Sirach.

Many important truths have been handed down to us through the law, the prophets, and the later authors; and for these the instruction and wisdom of Israel merit praise. (Sirach Forward NAB)

Sirach is not part of the Tanakh but it is an ancient commentary on it. It is thought to have been written in Hebrew between 200 and 180 BC. It has come to us through the Septuagint, A Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures and other writings. The date of the translation may be 300-131 BC.

Jewish study and practice center around the Torah. The Torah is read through in the synagogue once a year. It is divided into Parsha or portions for this purpose. There is a corresponding Haphtorah portion that may be read along with the Torah portion. The Haphtorah and the Torah readings are connected by topic. The Haphtorah reading comes from the later writings, the Nevi'im and Ketuvim.

Within the more formal three major divisions there  are other less formal divisions as presented below.

 

Torah (The Law)
 

Genesis

Bereishis

Exodus

Shemos

Leviticus

Vayikra

Numbers

Bamidbar

Deuteronomy

Devarim

Nevi'im (The Prophets)
 

Former Prophets

 

Joshua

Yehoshua

Judges

Shoftim

Samuel (I & II)

Shmu'el

Kings (I & II)

Melakhim

 

Latter Prophets

 

Isaiah

Yeshayahu

Jeremiah

Yirmiyahu

Ezekiel

Yehezq'el

 

The Book of the Twelve (Twelve Minor Prophets)

 

Hosea

Hoshea

Joel

Yo'el

Amos

Amos

Obadiah

Ovadyah

 

Jonah

Yonah

Micah

Mikhah

Nahum

Nachum

Habakkuk

Habaquq

 

Zephaniah

Tsefania

Haggai

Haggai

Zechariah

Zekharia

Malachi

Malakhi

Ketuvim (Writings)
 

Poetry

 

Psalms

Tehillim

Proverbs

Mishlei

Job

`Iyyov

 

Megilloth (The Five Rolls)

 

Song of Songs

Shir ha-Shirim

Ruth

Lamentations

Eikhah

Ecclesiastes

Kohelet

Esther

 

History

 

Daniel

Ezra-Nehemiah

Chronicles (I & II)

Divrei ha-Yamim