OLD TESTAMENT BIBLE STORIES. Unusual and/or Inspirational.

The story of The Creation, of The Flood and of the Parting of the Red Sea are well known. The purpose of this supplement is to draw attention to other Bible Stories, perhaps less well known, but equally interesting, unusual and/or inspiring. Brackets are used where Legends or other information are given as distinct from actual Biblical facts. In each case the reference will be given of where to find the story in the Old Testament.


Many people struggle with the problem of God not having been created. Our knowledge of Past, Present and Future seem to make that impossible. When Moses asked God for His name He replied "I am who I am." In order to understand God never being created it can be helpful to understand that ‘time’ commenced with the creation of the Universe. This agrees with mathematical astronomers who state that ‘time’ commenced with the ‘big bang’. So, before the ‘big bang’, there was no Past, Present or Future, only ‘The Present’ or ‘NOW’. Coming to terms with the everlasting ‘NOW’ of heaven is not easy but it helps overcome the problem of God always ‘having been’ because always existing. THE


1. After God created the world and the animals he created human beings, man and woman. Unfortunately, human beings used their unique minds to revolt against their Creator and the seed of evil was sown. We feel the effect of that initial revolt. Genesis:3.
2. Cain & Abel. Abel’s offering was superior to Cain’s; ‘Abel brought fat portions from some of the first born of his flock’. ‘The Lord looked with favour on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favour.’ This led to Cain’s sin of jealousy which then led to murder. Genesis 4.
3. Early in the Bible we come across the sinful effects of drunkenness.in this case leading someone else into sin. Noah becomes drunk and his son, Ham, ‘looks on his nakedness.’ Rather than cover up his father’s nakedness he broadcasts it to others thereby attempting to make his father a ‘laughing stock’. This unkindness was a sin against ‘Honour thy Father and thy Mother’. Genesis 9:21.
4. Abram lies to the Pharaoh by saying that his wife is merely his sister. His wife was beautiful and he was afraid that the Egyptians would kill him so that they could take his wife. Egyptian ethics required total truthfulness. Abram’s lie, like many of ours, caught up with him. He is exposed as a liar. Genesis 12:19. 5. Lot pitched his tents near Sodom thereby putting himself and his family in danger from the wickedness of that place. We too must take care where we ‘pitch our tents’; ‘lead us not into temptation’. Genesis 13:12. 6. Sarai who is barren tells Abram to ‘go sleep with my maid-servant’. This was an ancient custom in Old Assyria in marriage contracts so that a male heir could be produced. Genesis 16:2. (In the New Testament Jesus states God’s original plan that man and women ‘be united and they will become one flesh.’ Genesis 2:24. But, it seems, that at the time of Abram and Sarai, God allowed more than one wife and the ‘giving of servants’ in order to populate the world.) 7. Abram (whose name had been changed by God to ‘Abraham’ which means ‘Exalted Father’) is told to sacrifice his son Isaac. The place of the sacrifice is believed to be Mount Moriah where now stands the Muslim Shrine of the Dome of the Rock. There are several Biblical references to the sacrifice of the ‘first born’. It was considered the ‘ultimate sacrifice’. Genesis 22:23-33 8. Abraham pleads for Sodom. Anyone who has visited an Arabian country will know their way of doing business. The price starts high and the buyer and seller negotiate to a final low price. This is exactly what Abraham is doing. "Wilt thou not spare that place for the sake of fiftyforty-five………… forty…….thirtytwentyten." (In the end only four righteous people could be found. Lot, his wife, who disobeyed by looking back and was turned into a pillar of salt, and their two daughters.) Genesis 28:23-33 9. Jacob obeys his father by journeying to find a wife from among his own people. On the way he stops to sleep and has a dream. (The stone on which Jacob rested his head is reputed to be the one in the Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey. Legend has it that The Stone left the Holy Land around 700BC from where it travelled to Egypt, Sicily and Spain eventually reaching Ireland. The Celts brought it to Scotland in 840AD and placed it in a monastery at Scone, the former Scottish capital. In 1296 is was taken to Westminster Abbey and, ever since has been used at Coronation Ceremonies. In 1996 The Stone was returned to Scotland.) Genesis 28:10-18. 10. Jacob meets the beautiful Rachel and offers her father, Laban, to work for seven years in return for her hand in marriage. At the end of the seven years Laban cheats him and when the veil is lifted Jacob finds that he has married Rachel’s not-as-beautiful sister Leah. In today’s world that would be an immediate cause for nullity. But in Jacob’s time such was the complete obedience which the Hebrews had towards God and the promises they made, that they were considered irreversible. Laban’s excuse for the subterfuge was that local custom meant that the eldest daughter should marry first. Genesis 29:16-26. (There is irony of that happening when Isaac had usurped his brother’s birthright by fraudulently obtaining his father’s blessing Genesis 27:19-29.) 11. Jacob is allowed to marry Rachel but agrees to work for another seven years. As well as sleeping with his wives Jacob is also given their servants Bilah and Zilpah to sleep with. Some things may have changed with the years but jealousy is not one of them and this was especially so when Leah proved successful in childbearing whilst Rachel, up to that time, had been barren. Genesis 30:1-13. 12. Rachel agrees that Leah should sleep with Jacob in exchange for some Mandrakes which Rueben had collected. They must have had some arrangement for who slept with whom and when! Genesis 30:14-16. (Mandrakes are said to have aphrodisiac properties. They are also said to be poisonous. Beware!) 13. Jacob asks to return to his own country. He agrees to give Laban all the pure white sheep/goats only taking the marked ones for himself. By subversive methods Laban and Jacob try to outwit each other. How Jacob obtains marked flocks is not clear but not only does he do so but his flocks are healthy whereas the ones he returns to Laban are weak. Therefore as Jacob had previously got the better of his twin brother Esau, whose name means ‘red’, he has now also got the better of Laban, whose name means ‘white’. Genesis 30:31-43. (At Charlecote Park in Warwickshire there are a flock of sheep called Jacob’s sheep. They are large sheep with big patches of dark markings.) 14. Jacob’s name is changed, by God, to Israel - (The true cause of the change is unknown; possibly ‘yisra’el’ – ‘May God Rule’. Renaming gives emphasis to a new status.) Israel’s daughter Dinah is raped by Sichem the son of Hemor the ruler of that area. When her brothers hear of the rape they plan revenge. Sichem wants to marry Dinah and this was agreed provided Hemor, Sichem and all his household agree to circumcision. This is carried out. Three days later, when all the men were still in pain, two of Israel’s sons, Simeon and Levi, take their swords and attack the unsuspecting city killing all the men who, due to their pain, are unable to defend themselves. Israel is unhappy with the slaughter. His sons had used a sacred ceremony for sinful purposes. (Later, on his deathbed, he is to deal with their crime – see Genesis 49:1-28.) Genesis 34:1-31. 15. Rachel’s tomb. Rachel dies giving birth to her second son. As she dies she names him ‘Ben-Oni’ which means ‘son of my trouble’ but Israel renames him Benjamin. Genesis 35:16-20. 16. Israel had twelve sons and one daughter from four women:- Wife Leah Reuben Simeon Levi Judah Issachar Zebulun Dinah Wife Rachel Joseph Benjamin Leah’s maidservant Zilpah Dan Naphtali Rachel’s maidservant Bilhah Gad Asher Genesis 35:23-26.17. Now a story of intrigue. Israel’s son, Judah, marries and has three sons Er, Onan and Shelah. Er marries Tamar. But Er is evil and the Lord puts him to death. Judah tells Onan to sleep with Tamar to give her children as was the custom (See Deuteronomy 25:5-6). But Onan knows that any children would not be counted as his so he ‘spilled his semen on the ground’. For this wicked act God puts him to death as he had done with his brother. Judah promises Tamar that when Shelah is old enough he will sleep with her and provide her with children. But Judah is worried that Shelah would also die so he does not keep his promise.Tamar hears that Judah is on his way to Timnah so she sits at the side on the road, covered with a veil, pretending to be a prostitute. Judah sleeps with her not realising that she is his daughter-in-law. She obtains the ‘deposit’ of Judah’s seal, cord and staff against the goat which is to be sent as payment for sleeping with her. When the goat is delivered there is no prostitute to be found. Three months later Judah is told that his daughter-in-law is guilty of prostitution and is pregnant. Judah orders her to be burned to death (see Leviticus 21:9) but Tamar saves her life when she shows the seal, cord and staff revealing that Judah is the father of her child. Judah accepts that, despite Tamar’s deception, he is more guilty than she is for breaking his promise. Genesis 38:1-26. 18. Joseph differed from his forebears in that they often used lies and deceit. The story of Joseph is one of truth and morality. For this God rewards him. Even when he was thrown into prison by Potiphar ‘the Lord was with him; he granted him favour in the eyes of the prison warder.the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did’. His eventual position as second only to the Pharaoh shows God’s total love. Joseph realises that all that has happened is God’s plan for his chosen people. Genesis 39 to 50. 19. Joseph and the seven years of famine. In order to share out the grain which had been stored Joseph accepts, as payment from the Israelites, livestock, land and a fifth of the crops when in Egypt, thereby inadvertently reducing the people to subjection. (Joseph could not give the grain away, he had to take payment. Therefore it can only be understood that the outcome was part of God’s plan for his chosen people.) Genesis 47:13-26. THE BOOK OF EXODUS. 1. The midwives are told to kill all boys who are born but they ‘feared God’ so let the boys live telling Pharaoh that the Israelite women were so strong that they gave birth before the midwives arrive. Once again we see God’s goodness for those who obey his laws; ‘So God was kind to the midwives he gave them families of their own’. Exodus 1:17-21. 2. Throughout the early part of Exodus all the Pharaoh’s efforts to suppress the Israelites were thwarted by women; the midwives, the Israelite mothers, Moses’ mother and sister and Pharaoh’s own daughter. Exodus 1:17-19 & 2:3-4, 2:7-9. 3. Moses’ disobedience. God demands obedience and Moses had not circumcised his son. His wife, Sephora, takes a flint and carries out the circumcision. (Long after metal had been discovered flints were still used for circumcision. They were probably sharper than the early metal knives and also maintained the traditional method.) Exodus 4:25-26. 4. The Passover. God often asks us for a token gesture. He does this with the Israelites by telling them to sprinkle the blood of a lamb over the transom and door posts so that the Angel of Death may ‘Passover’ their homes. (It is certain that the Angel of Death would not have needed such a sign and would have known which were the homes of the Israelites. But a token gesture was necessary. Such token gestures continue today; making the Sign of the Cross – using Holy Water - receiving a Blessing - Genuflecting – saying ‘Alleluiah’ – saying ‘Amen’. So, in some small way, we are not getting something for nothing.) Exodus 12:21-28. 5. The Israelites plunder the Egyptians. As the Israelites prepare to leave, the Egyptians, who had lost their firstborn sons, urge the Israelites to go. Moses had instructed his people to ask for gold and silver. This they did and so the ‘plunder’ promised by God (see Exodus 3:21-22) took place. Exodus 12:31-36. 6. God feeds his chosen people. The Israelites grumble because there is no food. The Lord sends quail and a layer of dew which became like thin flakes of frost. This was ‘the bread the Lord had commanded.’ (Several natural explanations for this manna have been attempted. But none match the fact that there was a double supply on the sixth day as no collecting could be done on the Sabbath. That some of the manna was put into The Ark for future generations indicates that it was a unique food. The word ‘manna’ means ‘what is it?’) Exodus 16:13-15. 7. The travels of the Israelites. A cloud covered the Tabernacle. Whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle it was time to move. When the cloud did not lift they did not set out. Exodus 40:36-38. 8. The building of the Tabernacle. (When you have fifteen minutes to spare read of the immense detail which the Lord gave to Moses for the building of The Tabernacle and all its furnishings.) Exodus 25; 26; 27; 28; 29; 30 & 31. THE BOOK OF LEVITICUS. Introduction:- Most of this book is given to explaining the rules and commands to be obeyed especially by the Levities who were chosen as priests. When the Israelite nation was being formed there was no distinction between the Laws of God and the Laws of the land. Hence both were regulated equally. The Law of God hinged round the Temple and its rubrics and are listed in great detail. For the citizens there were laws for eating, drinking and dressing. For the householder there were laws of morality relating, mostly to marriage. All these (Temple and ordinary living) were linked as no other nation had linked them. And God kept pointing out through his prophets: destroy any one and the whole fabric of the nation falls apart. 1. Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, are burned to death when censing the altar. The nature of their sin is not clear. There are several theories; Perhaps they were censing outside the prescribed time; Perhaps they had obtained the fire for the censers from outside the altar area whereas fire had to be taken from the altar itself; Perhaps they had been drinking wine; (Priests were not allowed to drink; see Leviticus 1O:8-9) There is a further theory that neither of them had received priestly consecration. (Their deaths are mirrored one thousand three hundred years later in the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira see New Testament Acts 5:1-11.) Leviticus 1O:1-3. 2. The son of an Israelite Mother and a Egyptian Father gets into a fight and blasphemes. The sentence for blasphemy is death. He is taken out of the camp and stoned to death. Leviticus 24:1O-16. 3. Eye for Eye, Tooth for Tooth. (Jesus, at the Sermon on the Mount was to change this to ‘Love thy enemy’.) But the statement represents a principle – there is no evidence that such a penalty was ever exacted. Instead, the penalty was to fit the crime. Leviticus 24:2O-22. THE BOOK OF NUMBERS. This book covers thirty eight years in the history of Israel the period of desert wandering in the Sinai peninsula. It begins two years after the Exodus and ends on the eve of entry into Canaan. The title comes from the census (numbering) as mentioned in the first chapter. 1. The name of two tribes had to be found because the tribe of Levi were separated from the others as they were priests, and Joseph’s name was not given as a tribe. In order to make the number of tribes up to twelve Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, were each prescribed as tribes. The twelve tribes and the way they encamped around the Tabernacle was as follows:- North Naphtali Asher Dan Ephraim Judah West Manasseh TABERNACLE Issachar East Benjamin Zebulun Gad Simeon Rueben South Numbers 2:1-31. 2. When on the move the tribes formed up in the following order:- The Rear 4th Row 3rd Row 2nd Row Leading Dan Ephraim Reuben Judah The Levites Asher Manasseh Simeon Issachar Carry the Naphtali Benjamin Gad Zebulun Ark Between the 2nd and 3rd rows were the Gershonites and Merarites carrying the Tabernacle. Between the 3rd & 4th rows were the Kohathites carrying the tabernacle furnishings. The Gershonites, Merarites and Kohathites were all part of the tribe of Levi. Everything was carefully ordered and everyone knew his place. Numbers 1O-11-33. 3. The test for an unfaithful wife. A husband suspecting that his wife had been unfaithful should bring her to the priest where a trial by ordeal took place. The priest makes the woman drink bitter water at the same time putting her under the curse of an oath. If the woman had been unfaithful then her ‘thigh should waste away and your abdomen swell’. This is figurative language meaning the loss of ability to bear a child. Perhaps this test had psychological effects which showed whether the woman was guilty or not guilty. Numbers 5:1-31. 4. Both men and women had the choice of dedicating themselves to the Lord by making a special vow to become a Nazerite. This was probably the equivalent of today’s Monks and Nuns though the Nazerites lived in the normal community and did not join together to form monasteries or convents. The vow could be permanent or for a specific length of time. Nazerites had to abstain from wine, leave their hair uncut and ensure that they had no contact with a corpse. (Some ‘mystic’ writers say that Jesus’ foster father, Joseph, was a Nazerite.) Numbers 6:1-21. 5. Moses’ brother and sister, Aaron and Miriam oppose Moses. Their reason was jealousy though they put forward their reason that Moses had married a Cushite woman. Miriam must have been the instigator as God’s answer is to strike her down with leprosy. Moses pleads for her and, after spending seven days outside the camp, she is cured. Numbers 12:1-15. 6. Moses sends scouts, one from each tribe, into ‘The Promised Land’ to ascertain the strength of the people who live there. When they return they confirm that the land ‘flows with milk and honey’ but only one, Caleb of the tribe of Judah, had faith in God to suggest that "We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it." But the others suggested that the forces facing them would be too strong. So the decision was made not to attack. It was to be another thirty-eight years before they entered the Promised Land. (From Deuteronomy 1:19-46 it seems that Moses favoured following Caleb’s advice. No doubt afterwards he wished he had done so.) Numbers 13:33. 7. Some members of the tribe of Levi rise up against Moses asking him where he gets his authority to govern them. Next day God answers by opening up the ground and swallowing them up and their families with them. Other Israelites oppose Moses and a plague breaks out. Aaron offers atonement for them and the plague stops but only after many had died. Numbers 16:1-5O. 8. In order to obtain approval from God of Aaron’s priesthood all the tribes choose a leader who is given a staff. They write their names on the staffs and Aaron’s staff is included. The next day Aaron’s staff has sprouted budded blossoms. Thus God’s approval is received which puts an end to the Israelites grumbling. Numbers 17:1-13. (Legends about St Joseph and how he was chosen to be the husband of Mary tell a similar story. St Joseph’s branch blossomed while all the others remained barren.) 9. The Bronze Snake. The people grumble at the lack of food and water. In his anger the Lord sends venomous snakes which bite them and many die. Moses prays for the people and the Lord tells him to fashion a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Those who are bitten must look at the snake and they will not die. Numbers 21:4-9. (Five hundred and fifty years later Hezekiah, King of Judah, destroyed the bronze snake. Idol worshipers had been burning incense to it! 2 Kings 18:1-8.) 10. The Israelites are camped on the border of King Balak’s country. The king fears them so asks Balaam, a diviner, for help. Balaam persuades local Moabite women to seduce Israelite men and they are encouraged to make sacrifices to Moab gods. This idolatry angers the Lord and many Israelites are put to death. Numbers 25:1-18. THE BOOK OF DEUTERONOMY The word ‘Deuteronomy’ signifies ‘second law’. It brings together the laws recorded in Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers. The book records Moses’ farewell to Israel. 1. Tithes. The people are told to set aside a tenth of all that their field produce. Part of this was to be eaten at a festival at a prescribed place. The bulk of the tithe, is to be given to the Levites who, as priests, had nothing to tithe and no private source of income. Every third year the tithe had also to be shared with the fatherless and widows. Deuteronomy 22-29. 2. The year for cancelling debts. Every seventh year is a year of release for Hebrew slaves, cancellation of debts and freeing of servants. Deuteronomy 15:1-18. 3. The future King. This chapter foretells that, at some time in the future, the Israelites will demand a King. The chapter continues with all the warnings which were eventually ignored. Warnings against the King acquiring too many horses, too many wives, too much silver and gold. (Wise though he was, Solomon ignored all of the warnings.) Deuteronomy 17:14-17. 4. ‘I will raise up for them a Prophet.’ This is a direct reference to Jesus. (See John 5:46. & Acts 3:22-26.) Deuteronomy 18:14-22. 5. The right of the firstborn. If a man has two wives but loves one more than the other then he must not disadvantage the son of the wife he does not love. If that son is his firstborn son then he must receive a double share. Deuteronomy 21:15-17. 6. A rebellious son. If a man had a rebellious son then he must bring him to the elders at the gate of the town and state their problem. The men of the town will stone the son to death. ‘You must purge the evil from among you.’ Deuteronomy 21:18-21. 7. Cross-dressing. Women must not wear men’s clothing and men must not wear women’s clothing. ‘The Lord detests people who do this.’ Deuteronomy 22:5. THE BOOK OF JOSHUA The book is called after Moses’ successor, Joshua, the leader of the chosen people. It tells how, aided by God, Joshua, with the people of Israel, entered and conquered the Promised Land which was then divided among the tribes. 1. Jericho stands in the path of the Israelites as they commence their invasion of the Promised Land. Joshua sends spies who hide in the house of a harlot, Rahab. She had heard of the Israelites, how they crossed the Red Sea and how God had been with them throughout their time in the desert. She makes a pact; she will help them if they promise to save her and her family. Joshua 2:8-24. (Here we have God allowing contact with harlots just as Jesus would do during his ministry. It is believed that Rahab changed her immoral way of life and lived among the Israelites. She is mentioned twice in the New Testament see Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25.) Joshua 2:8-24. 2. In the same way that the Red Sea was crossed so was the River Jordan crossed. The waters of the river ceased to flow even though it was the time of flood waters. Joshua 3:1-17. 3. After entering the Promised Land the ‘manna’ stopped. Joshua 5:12. (There have been many theories about the ‘manna’ but none of them are able to answer the fact that there was double ‘manna’ on the day before the Sabbath. To collect on that day was forbidden. Also there is no explanation as to how the ’manna’ stopped after entry into the Promised Land. From then on they were able to feed themselves from the produce of the land. The answer has to be that the ‘manna’ was God’s miracle to look after his chosen people.) 4. Joshua pronounces a curse on the city and on anyone who may rebuild it. Joshua 6:26-27 (The curse was fulfilled when Heil sacrifices his eldest and youngest sons. See 3 Kings 16:34.) 5. After the plundering of Jericho a member of the tribe of Judah, Achan, had kept a robe and some gold and silver for himself. Due to this stealing the Israelites had been defeated in battle by the people of Ai. Achan owns up to his sin, is stoned to death, and his stolen items burned. Joshua 7:1-26. 6. The people of Gibeon come to the Israelites pretending to come from a distant place. They had patched sandals on their feet and old wine skins making it look as if they had travelled far. They claim to have heard of the Israelites and their conquests and want to make a peace treaty. The purpose of their deceit is that they live close by and are afraid that they will be the first to be attacked and killed. In exchange for a peace treaty they offer to be ‘servants’ of the Israelites. Without checking the Gibeonites story the Israelites agree to peace. Three days later they realise that they have been tricked. But Joshua cannot go back on his word and the treaty is kept. Joshua 9:1-27. 7. Five Amorrhite kings hear of the Gibeonites treaty and plan to attack them. The Gibeonites appeal to Joshua for help and the Israelites attack the Amorrhite army, win the battle, and save the Gibeonites. During the battle unusual weather seems to have helped in routing the enemy ‘More of them died from the hailstones than were killed by the Israelites.’ The Bible story also tells of ‘the sun stopping in the middle of the sky.’ Joshua 10:1-43. THE BOOK OF JUDGES. The book is called ‘Judges’ because it contains the history of what passed under the government of Judges who ruled Israel before they had Kings. 1. God is angry with the Israelites as they have disobeyed Him and broken the covenant He made with them. He told them not to make treaties with the peoples of the land they were conquering (Exodus 23:32) and they had done so. (See Book of Joshua No 6 above.) Judges 2:1-5. 2. Much time has passed and ‘another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.’ The nations fortunes now follow a monotonous and repetitive cycle. Israel deserts God for heathen gods. In consequence God allows them to suffer at the hands of their enemies. Then Israel cries out for the help of God who hears their plea and sends a deliverer. All is well until the deliverer’s death then the cycle is repeated. (This continues throughout the next six hundred years finishing with the Israelites being taken into exile. The wonder is God’s constant love and faithfulness.) Judges 2:1O-15. 3. Judge Deborah & Judge Barak. Deborah, who is both a Judge and Prophetess, predicts that the Israelites will have a great victory against the Cannanites and their commander Sisera. She sends for Barak and tells him to take ten thousand men to Mount Tabor ready to attack their enemy. Barak is not convinced and says that he will only go if Deborah also goes. Deborah agrees but, for his lack of belief, Deborah predicts that it will be a woman who will deal with Sisera. Barak’s doubts can be understood - he knew that Sisera had one hundred chariots and horses. Just before the battle commenced the heavens opened and the Kishon plain where the battle was fought became a quagmire. Sisera’s chariots couldn’t move and the Israelites went among their enemy killing as they go. Sisera flees the field of battle and takes refuge in the tent of Jael who he thinks is friendly. She hides him under a cover but then takes a tent peg and drives it through his head into the ground. Thus Deborah’s prophesy came true. A woman had dealt the final blow. Judges 4 & 5. 4. Judge Gideon had a son, Abimelech, who used brutal means to gain power. But he is badly injured when a woman drops a millstone onto his head. Proud to the last he gets his armour-bearer to run him through with a sword so that it cannot be said that he was killed by a woman! Judges 9:50-54. 5. Judge Samson. He was a Nazerite (See Numbers No. 4). He was a man of incredible strength. He once fought with a lion that had attacked him and killed it by tearing it apart. He marries Delilah who is bribed to find out the reason for his strength. He tells her that the reason is his uncut hair. While he is asleep she cuts his hair and when he awakes his strength is gone. The Philistines take him prisoner and gouge out his eyes. Later the Philistines are sacrificing to their pagan gods and for entertainment they bring Samson, whose hair had grown, into the temple. He asks to be put near pillars so that he can lean on them. Then, after praying, he uses all his strength to push the pillars apart – the temple collapses killing himself and all who were there. Judges 16:22-3O. 6. A story of complete contrasts. It shows the determination of the Israelites to maintain their laws, but then, following their actions, their great concern at the possible loss of one of the twelve tribes. Some men of the tribe of Benjamin had become involved in homosexual practices and this had led to the rape and death of a Levite’s wife (Judges 19:1-3O). The leaders of the tribes assemble and the Levite woman’s husband tells his story. The Benjamites are told to surrender the men who are responsible but they refuse to do so. The tribes do battle with the Benjamites and put them to the sword. Only a few escape. After the battle the tribes meet and make an oath that none of their daughters will be given in marriage to a Benjamite. Now the contrast. Having made their oath they are distressed as they realise that this will mean the end of the tribe of Benjamin. In their distress they make a second oath that anyone who had failed to attend the assembly should be put to death. (The tribes had a mutual responsibility in times of military action.) Then they realise that no-one from Jabesh Gilead had attended the assembly. So they send a force of men to Jabesh Gilead with instructions to kill every male and every woman who is not a virgin. The virgins were brought back to the camp. Then the assembly sent an offering of peace to the remaining Benjamites who came to the camp and each took one of the virgins. Thereby the tribe of Benjamin was saved. Judges 19; 2O & 21:1-14. THE BOOK OF RUTH. Due to a famine a family, father, mother and two sons, leave Bethlehem for a foreign country. The two sons marry foreign girls and then both sons die. The husband also dies leaving the mother with the two foreign daughters-in-law. When the famine in Bethlehem is over the mother decides to return. She advises her daughters-in-law to stay in their own country where they may be able to have a second marriage. However one girl called Ruth is faithful to her Mother-in-law and insists on returning with her. Ruth finally marries a Bethlehem landowner, a relative of her Mother-in-law. They have a son and from his son came King David and from the line of King David came Jesus. Therefore as Ruth was not an Israelite it means that both David and Jesus were not of pure Jewish blood. Ruth 1 - 4. THE FIRST BOOK OF KINGS. This book, also known as The First Book of Samuel, provides a history of Israel from the end of the Judges to the last years of King David. Samuel is born of Hannah who, for many years, had been barren. She offers her son to the Lord. 1. Hannah’s prayer of thanks for the birth of Samuel could be called the Magnificat of the Old Testament. (Compare it with Our Lady’s Magnificat Luke 1:46-55.) 1 Kings 2:1-10. 2. Eli, a priest, and Samuel are asleep in the Temple when Samuel hears a voice calling him. Eventually Eli realises that this is the voice of God and tells Samuel to reply "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening." God speaks to Samuel. From this time on Samuel was God’s messenger and the whole of Israel knew it. 1 Kings 3:1-21. 3. Eli’s sons were scoundrels; they always took of the best of the sacrifices for themselves. A prophet tells Eli that, for their sins, his sons will be killed. This prophecy is carried out when the Philistines wage war on the Israelites. 1 Kings 2:12-36. 4. In order to give themselves the advantage in their battle with the Philistines the Israelites send for the Ark of the Covenant. But Israel not only lose the battle but also lose the Ark which is captured by the Philistines who put it in the Temple of Dagon their principal god. But their god is forever mysteriously falling over and getting damaged. Eventually the Philistines realise that the God of the Israelites is too powerful, so the Ark is returned. 1 Kings 4, 5, & and 6:1-18. 5. A group of Israelites who received the Ark back from the Philistines are struck down dead by God. They had broken the law by looking into the Ark (See Numbers 4:2O). God demands complete obedience to his commands. 1 Kings 6:19. 6. Samuel is getting older. He had appointed his sons to be Judges but they took bribes and perverted the course of justice; ‘they walked not in his ways’. The Israelites had seen neighbouring countries with Kings who were symbols of national power and would lead them into battle.They asked Samuel to give them a King of their own. Samuel prays to God who answers him: "Grant the people all they ask of thee. It is my rule they are casting off, not thine. Tell them what rights their king will claim." 1 Kings 8:1-18. 7. A Benjamite named Saul is sent by his father to look for some straying donkeys. He meets Samuel who is told by God that this is the man he has chosen to be king. He anoints Saul but initially the people would not accept him as their king. The Ammonites attack the Israelites. Saul organises the Israelites into an army who defeat the Ammonites. He is then accepted as The King of Israel. 1 Kings 9; 1O & 11. 8. Samuel is nearing the end of his life. He told the people of their lack of love of God. God had done everything for them brought them out of the slavery of the Egyptians, brought them to the promised land, helped them in the battles against all their foes. In return they had rejected God and asked for a king. Samuel calls down thunder and rain which, when the people see, make them stand in awe of God and of Samuel. 1 Kings 12:1-18. 9. Samuel gives instructions to Saul not to mount an attack until he joins him at Gilgal. But Saul is impatient and makes the burnt offering himself without waiting for Samuel. For this he is reprimanded and told that his Kingship will not endure. He will not be followed by his sons.’the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people.’ 1 Kings 13:9-14. 10. God sends Samuel to Bethlehem to find the next King of Israel. Jesse was the grandson of Boaz and Ruth. Samuel sees seven of Jesse’s sons but God has rejected them all. An eighth son, who is tending the sheep, is sent for. His name is David. The Lord said "Rise and anoint him; he is the one." 1 Kings 16:1-13. 11. David is a harpist. He becomes Saul’s musician. Saul is tormented that on his death his kingship will not pass to his son. His torment reads as if he has become mentally disturbed. Once he realises that David is the ‘chosen one’, his jealously knows no bounds and he is relentless in his desire to kill David. 1 Kings 16:14-23. 12. The Philistines have a champion; a giant of a man named Goliath He goads the Israelites suggesting that if an Israelite can beat him then the Philistines
will be their slaves, otherwise the Israelites must be slaves to the Philistines. David accepts the challenge. This might seem foolhardy but he had been used to defending his father’s sheep from lions and was skilful with the stone and sling. He goes out alone against Goliath and knocks him down with a sling shot. Then taking Goliath’s sword he cuts off the Philistine’s head. 1 Kings 17:1-51. 13. David as a warrior, won greater glory than Saul. Saul became inordinately jealous of David’s success and several times attempted to kill him. David fled to the wilderness and here could have killed the King but would not raise his hand against God’s anointed. 1 Kings 23 & 26. 14. From the Bible text it seems that Saul’s mental condition has deteriorated. The Philistines are ready for battle and Saul is uncertain what to do and consults a ‘spiritual medium’ who ‘brings back Samuel’. Samuel predicts Saul’s downfall but despite this advice Saul decides to go into battle. 1 Kings 28 & 29. 15. When Saul fought in the mountains he was successful but, in a battle with the Philistines, he chose to come down to the Jordan Plain. This happened on the plain at the foot of Mount Giboa. Heavily outnumbered he called on his armour bearer to "Draw your sword and run me through." But the armour bearer was terrified and would not do it. So Saul took his own sword and fell on it. He had been King of Israel for forty-two years and had united Israel in the North and Judah in the South. His downfall was his jealousy of David plus an indication of mental illness. 1 Kings 31:1-4. THE SECOND BOOK OF KINGS. This book, also known as The Second Book of Samuel, relates to the times from the death of Saul to the end of David’s reign. It commences with a split in the kingdom between Israel in the North and Judah in the South. 1. After the death of Saul, David is anointed King of Judah. Abner, the commander of Saul’s army, took Saul’s son, Ish-Bosheth and made him King of Israel. The two Kingdoms were at war. Abner was the main strength of the Kingdom of Israel and Ish-Bosheth was frightened of him. When Abner decides in favour of David, he is killed by Joab who is David’s man. After the death of Abner, two men decide to kill Ish-Bosheth and take his head in triumph to David who is horrified by this act of murder and the two men are killed. However with the death of both Abner and Ish-Bosheth, David became king of all the tribes of Israel. 2 Kings 2, 3 & 4:1-12. 2. David, and Saul’s son Jonathan, had been loyal friends. Jonathan along with his father and almost all the family were dead. But David, to honour his friendship with Jonathan, wants to bring kindness to any of the family who may still be alive. He is told of a grandson of Saul named Mephibosheth who is crippled in both feet. David gave Mephibosheth all the land which previously belonged to his grandfather and ‘he ate at the King’s table.’ 2 Kings 9:1-13. 3. David sees the beautiful Bathsheba bathing. He has her brought to him and sleeps with her. Later she tells him that she is pregnant. David arranges for Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, to be put into the heart of the battle where he is killed. Nathan tells David an apocryphal story of a rich man who steals the lamb of a poor man for a meal rather than kill one of his own. On hearing the story David ‘burned with anger’ against the rich man. Then Nathan reveals that the man in the story is David himself. David admits his sin and Nathan tells him that the Lord has forgiven him but because of the sin the son due to be born will die. (The wonder in this story is that despite the enormity of David’s sin he is granted God’s immediate forgiveness. This surely gives hope for us all. The penalty for adultery is death by stoning. The Lord releases David and Bethsheba from that customary death.) 2 Kings 11 & 12:1-14. 4. The baby is born but is ill. David spends nights lying on the ground and days in fasting. On the seventh day the child dies. His servants were afraid to tell him. "While the child was living, we spoke to David but he would not listen to us. How can we tell him the child is dead? He may do something desperate." David sees his servants whispering and realises that the child is dead. He immediately got up, changed his clothing, went to pray and then sat at table and ate. His servants were confused. Why this sudden change? David explains: "While the child was alive there was still a chance that my sacrifices and prayers might be heard. But once the child had died, why should I continue to fast? Can I bring him back again?" He sleeps with Bethsheba and she bears a son whom they name Solomon. 2 Kings 12:15-23. 5. Absolum ingratiates himself with the people, becomes powerful and his followers grow in number. Encouraged by his popularity he declares himself King at Hebron thereby challenging his father. David has to flee. During a battle between David’s and Absolum’s followers Absolum, who had been riding a mule, has his hair caught by a low branch of a tree and left hanging in the air. He is killed by David’s men. (During his lifetime Absolum had a monument built to perpetuate his name. It still stands in the King’s Vale.) 2 Kings 18:1-18. THE THIRD AND FOURTH BOOK OF KINGS. These books, also known as the First and Second book of Kings, tells us about Solomon and his reign, the building of the temple, the division of the kingdom after Solomon’s death and the reign of the nineteen Kings of the Northern Kingdom of Israel until its fall in 722 B.C. and the reign of the twenty Kings of Judah until its fall in 586 B.C. They also include the stories of the Prophets Elijah and Elisha. 1. David is an old man and could not keep warm in bed so a beautiful young virgin, Abishag, is brought to lie with him and keep him warm ‘.the King had no intimate relations with her.’ 3 Kings 1:1-4. 2. David’s son Adonijah proclaims himself to be the next King. As he is celebrating with his guests Nathan tells Bathsheba to let King David know what is happening and Nathan joins in the discussion. King David, on his death bed, declares that Solomon is to rule the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Solomon is anointed immediately by Zadok the priest in the presence of Nathan the Prophet. At the anointing, trumpets are sounded which are heard by Adonijah and his guests. When they hear of Solomon’s anointing the guests disperse. 3 Kings 1:5-49. 3. David dies and Adonijah has no alternative but to accept his father’s choice of Solomon as King. Adonijah makes the mistake of asking for the beautiful young virgin, Abishag, as his wife. Even though she was still a virgin Abishag had shared a bed with King David and was therefore regarded to be part of his harem. (Deuteronomy 22:3O tell us ‘A man is not to dishonour his father’s bed.’) Adonijah might also have been trying to strengthen his claim to the throne. Having access to King David’s harem would signify a right of succession. For making this request Solomon has Adonijah put to death. 3 Kings 2:13-25. 4. Solomon asks God for ‘Wisdom’. As he has not asked for long life or wealth God grants him his request. 3 Kings 3:5-15. 5. Solomon’s availability to the people is demonstrated by the story of the two prostitutes and the dead baby. They came before him both saying that the live baby was theirs. Solomon’s decision to cut the baby in two produced the true mother who pleaded that the baby should not die. ‘All Israel came to hear of the judgement which the King had pronounced and held the King in awe.’ 3 Kings 3:16-28. 6. The Bible tells us that: The temple’was built of stones hewn and made ready: so that there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard.’ This statement seemed impossible until 1898 AD a Mr Berkley, an English Gentleman, was walking his dog near the Damascus Gate. The dog disappeared into a small hole in the wall. When the hole was enlarged it led to the discovery of Solomon’s Caves which stretch right under the walled city of Jerusalem. This is where the stones for the Temple were obtained. The blocks of stone were hewn and prepared underground and then brought to the surface. So the noise of ‘hammer and chisel’ were not heard at the site. 3 Kings 6:7. 7. The Temple must have been a magnificent building. (It is sad to think that if the Israelites, God’s chosen people, had remained faithful to Him then the Temple would still be there today for us to see.) 3 Kings 6 & 7:13-51. 8. The moment when The Ark was brought into Solomon’s Temple must have been a wonderful occasion. (It completes the journey of The Ark commencing with its construction in the wilderness leading to its entry into Jerusalem when King David ‘danced before the Ark with all his might.’ 2 Samuel 6:14-15.) 3 Kings 8:1-11. 9. (The story of the visit of the Queen of Sheba is dramatic. She had heard of Solomon’s wisdom and of the wealth of Israel. But what she had heard must have been unbelievable. She had to fulfil her curiosity by seeing for herself, only then was she able to believe.) 3 Kings 1O:1-13. 10. Solomon had many wives and concubines (The numbers ‘seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines’ may have become exaggerated.) But foreign women turned him from Yahweh and from The Covenant. He built temples to their pagan gods. (We might question; ‘What had happened to his wisdom?) 3 Kings 11:1-8. 11. Jeroboam was the son of one of Solomon’s officials. In his own right he was a man of standing. Solomon had seen how well he worked and had given him responsibilities. But this went to his head and he rebelled against Solomon who heard of the rebellion and tried to kill him. Jeroboam fled to Egypt and stayed there till Solomon’s death. 3 Kings 11:26-4O. 12. Solomon dies and his son Rehoboam succeeds him as king. Jeroboam returns from Egypt and, leading a deputation from the Northern tribes of Israel meets Rehoboam who had come from Judah to the historical city of Shechem.They ask him whether he will lighten the load which his father Solomon put on them. Rehoboam tells them to come back in three days when he will answer them. After consulting first the elders and then the young men he grew up with he took the advice of the latter which was to make their load even harder. When the Northern tribes heard this they rebelled and stoned to death the man who was in charge of forced labour and made Jeroboam their king. That was the start of the Divided Kingdom – Israel in the North with its capital, which moved from Shechem to Tirzah then finally to Samaria, and Judah in the South with its Capital Jerusalem. 3 Kings 11:41-43, 12:1-2O & 14:17. 13. Jeroboam the first king of Israel in the North. His Capital was at Shechem. He had two golden calves made and told the people that, instead of making the long journey to Jerusalem, they should worship them. Thus he led the people into idolatry. 3 Kings 12:25-31. 14. Zimri became king by murdering King Elah. Seven days later when the people learnt that he had murdered King Elah they turned against him. Zimri set fire to his palace and he burned to death. 3 Kings 16:15-19. 15. King Omri bought a hill for two talents of silver and named it Samaria after its previous owner Shemer. He built a city on the hill that became the capital of Israel. 3 Kings 16:25. 16. King Ahab married Jezebel. It was during his reign that Hiel of Bethel rebuilt Jericho. In accordance with Joshua’s curse he put his eldest son in the foundations and his youngest son in the gateway. 3 Kings 16:29-3O. 17. Elijah has been called by God. Jezabel is killing prophets probably in order to please the idol Baal so that he would send rain. King Ahab and Elijah meet and Ahab blames Elijah for the drought. Elijah sets up a contest. He tells Ahab to bring four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal to Mount Carmel. When They are gathered and ready to sacrifice to Baal he tells the prophets to pray to their god to light the fire. The prophets of Baal pray ‘from morning till noon’ and then into the evening but there was no response. 3 Kings 18:19. Elijah makes an altar of stones. He places the wood on the altar and then pours twelve large jars of water over the wood. Elijah then prays to The Lord. The ‘fire of the Lord fell and burned up the wood, the stones, the soil and licked up the water in the trench.’ Then the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal are taken and slaughtered. 3 Kings 18:30-40. 18. Jezebel’s total evil is born out by the story of Naboth’s vineyard. Ahab offers to buy it but Naboth refuses. When Jezebel hears of this she has Naboth falsely accused of cursing God and the King. Naboth is stoned to death and Ahab takes possession of the vineyard. 3 Kings 21:1-16. 19. Naaman, a commander of the army of Aram was a leper. A young girl of Israel suggested that Naaman should go to see the prophet in Samaria. The king of Aram agrees but misunderstands the message and sends Naaman to King Joram who in turn sends him to Elisha. Naaman expects Elisha to come out of his house and pray over him. But all Elisha does is to tell Naaman to go and bathe in the river Jordan seven times. At this Naaman was furious. "Aren’t there rivers as good as the Jordan in my own country?" But Naaman’s servants plead with him; "If you had been asked to do something difficult you would have done it. So why not do this thing which has been asked of you." So Naaman went and bathed in the Jordan seven times and his flesh was restored. 4 Kings 5:1-14. 20. In the ninth year of Hoshea’s reign the King of Syria captured Samaria deported the Israelites to Assyria. People from Assyria were brought to settle in the land of the Israelites but lions attacked and killed some of them. So the King of Assyria decreed that the people did not know what the God of the country required. So one of the priests of the Israelites was returned to live among the Assyrians and teach the people what was required! 4 Kings 17:1-2. 21. Zedekiah, the last King of Judah, rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar who set a seige around Jerusalem which lasted for two years. Eventually the city fell. Zedakiah’s sons were killed before his eyes. Then they gouged out his eyes. Nebuchadnezzar’s commander set fire to the Temple, the Palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. The people were taken into exile leaving only some of the poorest people to tend the vineyards 4 Kings 24:18-19 (The Ark of the Covenant had led the people into a false sense of security. Such was their awe of the Ark that they felt that as long as it was in The Temple they could not be defeated.) 22. After all the bloodshed and evil of the previous eight hundred and seventy years, the Fourth Book of Kings finishes on a note of peace and kindness. After thirty five years in prison, Jehoiachin, the penultimate King of Judah, is released by Evil-Merodach, son of Nebuchadnezzer, and allowed to sit at the king’s table and is given a regular allowance. 4 Kings 25:27-3O. THE FIRST AND SECOND BOOKS OF CHRONICLES. Also known as the First and Second Books of Paralipomenon. These books are a ‘Chronicle of the whole of Sacred Scripture’. They were written for those returning from exile. They are also a supplement ‘of things left out’ of the Books of Kings. Most of what these books contain will have already been noted in the previous texts. 1. During a battle three ‘mighty men’ of David’s army hear him make a request for ‘water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem’. The three broke through the Philistine lines and drew water from the well. When they brought it to David he spilled it on the ground! Because they had risked their lives to obtain it he would not drink it. 1 Chronicles 11:15-19. THE BOOK OF EZRA. NOTE:- The three books of EZRA, NEHEMIAH and ESTHER mark a very important phase in the life of the Israelites. If these three had not carried out their actions it is likely that the Jewish race would have been obliterated. (The word ‘Jew’ comes from the Hebrew name for Judah ‘Yehuda’.) This book tells of the return of the exiles to Jerusalem, the rebuilding of the Temple and the cruel but necessary efforts which saved the Jewish race. 1. The exiles are allowed to return to Jerusalem and are encouraged to rebuild the Temple. But the work is disrupted firstly by the Samaritans who want to take part but are not allowed to do so due to their mixed blood, they were not pure blood Hebrews. Secondly by neighbouring countries who feared that the Israelites might become strong and a danger. Ezra 1, 2, 3 & 4. 2. After fifteen years a scroll is found containing the King of Persia’s command to rebuild the Temple. This time nothing can stop the work and in four years it is completed. Ezra 5 & 6:1-12.S 3. Since their return much intermarrying with heathen peoples has taken place which has led to idolatry. Ezra prays and the people react by sending away women and children of these marriages. Thereby true Jewish blood is maintained. Ezra 9:1-15 & 1O:1-44. THE BOOK OF NEHEMIAH. This book, also known as the Second Book of Ezra, takes its name from the writer who was the cup bearer to the King of Persia and was sent by him to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah was also, along with Ezra, reponsible for ensuring the pure blood of the Israelites. 1. Nehemiah, who is in the Court of King Artexerxes of Persia, hears of the problems facing those who are trying to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. He prays for guidance. During his duties as cup bearer the King notices Nehemiah’s sadness and asks what is troubling him. After hearing Nehemiah’s answer he gives him permission to go to Judah and assist in the rebuilding. The King also gave letters of safe-conduct for the journey and to the keeper of the King’s forest to supply timbers for the rebuilding. Despite opposition from neighbouring countries the walls and gates are rebuilt. Nehem 2:1-20 & 3:1-32. 2. There is an outcry from the people. Due to a famine they are mortgaging their fields to raise money for food. Nehemiah calls a meeting and accuses the nobles and officials of usury. The nobles and officials agree to pay back whatever they have overcharged. They are made to take an oath to do what they have promised. Nehemiah 5:1-13. 3. Nehemiah returns to King Artaxerxes as he had promised, but once again hears of troubles and is given permission to go back to Jerusalem. Eliashib the priest had given a non-Israelite a room that should have been used for offerings, incense, wine and oil. Also once again men were marrying foreign women. Nehemiah adopts strong measures to deal with these abuses. Nehemiah 13:4-3O. THE BOOK OF TOBIAS. This book tells the story of Tobit the father and Tobit his son. They are in captivity in Nineveh, capital of Assyria. The story is intended to instruct the faithful in how to deal with the problems and uncertainties which life can throw at us. Tobit the father becomes blind but bravely accepts the infirmity. The father asks his son to obtain repayment of a debt. To do this he will have to travel a good distance and therefore seeks a companion for the journey. The companion he finds is the Angel Raphael though at the time he is not aware of this. They set off on their journey. On their way they pass the home of Sara who is possessed by a devil who had killed her previous seven husbands. The Angel Raphael encourages Tobit to marry Sara but her father is afraid to offer his daughter in marriage. The Angel Raphael assures him that no harm will come from this union. Tobit and Sara pray together for three days during which time Sara is released from the devil within her. Tobit and the Angel Raphael continue their journey, collect the debt and along with Sara return to Tobit the Father. The Angel Raphael cures Tobits’s blindness and then reveals his identity. Tobias 1 to 14. THE BOOK OF JUDITH. This book is a further lesson in faith. The city of Bethulia, which is surrounded by the evil army of General Holofernes, has had its walls reinforced. But the wells are outside the walls so Holofernes is able to cut off the supply of water to the city. After twenty days Judith, who is a beautiful widow, encourages the people to have faith. She offers to go to Holofernes and asks everyone to pray. After praying Judith puts on her finest dress and jewellery and goes out to meet Holofernes. She pretends to be a traitor and Holofernes is taken in not only by her words but also by her beauty and he lusts for her. Judith accepts his request to sleep with him. Prior to that she joins Holofernes at a feast where he drinks more than he has ever done before and becomes totally drunk. In his tent he is in a drunken sleep. Judith takes his sword and cuts off his head. Under the cover of darkness she returns to the city. When, next morning, the enemy find their general dead their courage fails them and the city is saved. Judith 1 to 16. THE BOOK OF ESTHER. Esther is a beautiful Jewish girl in exile who after the death of her parents is under the protection of her parent’s cousin, Mordecai. The King of Persia , King Ahasuerus, chooses Esther as his wife. Haman, a Persian in King Ahasuerus court, is greedy for power. King Ahasuerus honours Haman giving him a seat of honour higher than any other nobles. Haman does not like the Jews and is intent on using his new power to eliminate them. Mordecai realises Haman’s intentions and asks Esther for help. After prayer and fasting Esther breaks a rule that the King must never be approached without his request. By doing so she puts her life in danger. But the king listens to her plea. He has Haman hanged on the gallows which had been built to kill the Jews. Esther 1 to 16. THE BOOK OF JOB. This Book reads like a game of Chess or Draughts between God and the Devil. Most of the time the Devil seems to have the upper hand. But God knows Job much better than does the Devil and in the end the Devil is the loser………… ………….as he will be at the end of time. Job is a God fearing, rich man with a large family. The devil challenges God to let him bring bad tidings on Job and see whether he remains faithful to God. God agrees and Job loses everything, family, herds and servants. But despite the loss Job praises God "The Lord has given and the Lord has taken away". The Devil returns to God and receives permission to inflict Job with sores from head to toe. Once again Job accepts the sufferings "Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?" Job is visited by three friends who all suggest that he must have sinned to have such disaster fall on him. But although Job believes in God’s justice he knows that in his own case God has condemned an innocent man. A fourth man comes in to the discussion agreeing with the other three. Job realises that in defending himself he has been questioning God. That he has no right to do. It is God who must ask the questions. Job realises that he has been dabbling in things beyond his understanding. After a time, God proved to the devil that Job was faithful to Him and restored everything he had lost. God has taken Job to task for his reaction to suffering but his integrity is beyond question. Friends, prosperity and family are all restored to him with a long life in which to enjoy them. The Devil is vanquished. Job 1 to 42. THE BOOK OF PSALMS. The Psalms are very important to both the Jewish and Christian Churches. To the Jews they offer a written historic story of their faith from the time of King David. For Christians it offers both beautiful prayers and detailed prophesies of the passion and death of Jesus who quoted from the Psalms when he was on the Cross. There is little doubt that King David wrote some of the Psalms. It is known that he was an experienced harpist and was accepted into King Saul’s Court in order to play to and calm that mentally disturbed king. But not all the Psalms are necessarily written by David. Some have probably been written in his honour but given his name. The Psalms have become very important in the life of the Christian Church. Monks sing the Psalms at all their services. They have also been accepted into the Eucharistic Service. They cover a great variety of themes. These can be seen on Page 87 of The Synopsis where they are categorised. Psalms 1 to 150. B.C. THE BOOK OF PROVERBS. Whilst Solomon’s name is closely linked to the book of Proverbs it is believed that its contents were written over a period of about seven hundred and fifty years commencing with King Solomon continuing with King Hezekiah and finally completed by Ben Sira (180B.C.) The Book is like a textbook telling what is right and wrong based on reverence for God and obedience to His laws. It is seldom if ever quoted in the readings of the Mass. Therefore to gain some knowledge of these profound sayings read from The Synopsis on Page 89. Proverbs 1 to 31. THE BOOK OF ECCLESIATES. This book is called Ecclesiates which is the translation of the Greek Qoheleth which means ‘The Preacher.’ It is thought to have been written by King Solomon but biblical experts suggest that the language of the book place it much later. The book represents the sceptical side of Israelite wisdom. It contains the philosophical and theological reflections of an old man most of whose life was meaningless because he had not himself relied on God. Ecclesiates 1 to 12. SONG OF SONGS. Also known as The Canticle of Canticles. The long-held view is that this Book is an allegory of the love relationship between God and Israel, or between Christ and the Church and between God and the individual soul. The voice of love in the song is a woman’s voice. She speaks proudly of love. She portrays its beauty and delights. God intends that such love – distorted and abused by both ancient and modern people – be a normal part of marital life in His good creation. Song of Songs 1 to 8. THE FIFTEEN PROPHETS. They prophesied from about 862 BC to 420 BC. The aim of all of them was the same; to try and keep the Israelites faithful to God and to the Law of Moses. Specially chosen by God they were very important men of their time and in the life of the Jewish Faith.The main prophets were Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. 760-701 ISAIAH. A great prophet and adviser to four kings of Judah – Azariah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezakiah. His prophecies included looking forward to a time when a special child would be born – a child whom the people would talk about as "Wonderful Counsellor; Mighty God; Everlasting Father; and Prince of Peace." 1. Isaiah saw the Lord seated on a throne high and exalted….angels were calling to one another ‘Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’ Isaiah 6:1-3. 2. Isaiah prophecies into the future – ‘For to us a child is born’ a direct prophesy 750 years ahead to the coming of Jesus. Isaiah 9:6. 3. Yet again ‘A shoot will come up from the stock of Jesse.’ (Jesse was King David’s father. Jesus was born of the line of David.) Isaiah 11:1. 4. Isaiah prophecies the destruction of Jerusalem. The people don’t believe and reply with the ‘saying’ which has come down through the ages "Let us eat and drink….for tomorrow we die." Isiaiah 22:13. B.C. 629-585 JEREMIAH. Another of the great prophets. He was reluctant to become a prophet. But he knew that the messages were coming from God. "The word of the Lord came to me" is repeated time and again throughout his prophecies. 1. God tells Jeremiah not to marry. Being unmarried was unheard of therefore he would stand out as a symbol of God’s message. Jeremiah was to face life alone. Jeremiah 16:1-4. 2. The Temple Officer, Pashar, did not want to believe in God’s word. He has Jeremiah beaten and put into stocks. Rather than be frightened and quietened by this treatment Jeremiah prophecies against Pashar and his family. Jeremiah 20:1-6. 3. Jeremiah was fearless. His prophecies lead the people to ask for his death. On this occasion the Temple Officials defend Jeremiah and the fickle people are easily swayed and withdraw their threat. Jeremiah 26:11-24. 4. God tells Jeremiah to ‘make a yoke out of straps and crossbars’ and to wear it on his neck. This yoke was a symbolic submission to Babylon and King Nebuchadnezzar. It was unpopular but proved to be true. Jeremiah 27:1-11. 5. The people agree to free all slaves. But afterwards they go back on their word. Jeremiah prophesies that the people will be made free ‘to fall by the sword, plague and famine’. Jeremiah 34:8-17.592-570 EZEKIEL. He is writing from exile in Babylon. 1. We are told "Beware of false prophets." They were operating in the time of Ezekiel and the people listened to them because they said what the people wanted to hear rather than what they needed to hear. Ezekiel 13:1-23. 2. Ezekiel’s wife dies but God forbids him the usual mourning. There is so much work to be done – no time for mourning. Ezekiel 24:15-27. (This compares with the words of Jesus to the man who wanted to go and bury his father before following Jesus. Matthew 8:21-22. However painful it may be we must get our priorities right.) B.C. 605-534 DANIEL Daniel is in exile. He is educated as a page to the king. 1. King Nebuchandnezzer favoured Daniel. But Daniel had enemies amongst the king’s advisers. On two separate occasions they tricked the king into signing decrees which they knew Daniel’s faith would not allow him to obey and would result in him being thrown to the lions. On the first occasion he was in the lion’s den overnight. The second time was for seven days. On both occasions he was unhurt and was found sitting among the lions. Also, on both occasions, those who had contrived to have Daniel thrown to the lions found themselves committed to the same fate! Daniel 6:1-28 and 14:22-42. 775-750 AMOS. Much of the writing of Amos is taken showing up the appalling difference between the few rich and the many poor in the Nothern Kingdom of Israel. 1. Affluence and comfortable living breeds false security. Amos 6:1-7. 740-700 MICAH. Micah prophesied at the same time as Isaiah and Hosea. 1. Micah tells of a deliverer. ‘But you, Belthlehem, Ephratam, though you are small among the clans of Judah out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel.’ Micah 5:2. 626 HABAKKUK. There is a legend that Habakkuk ministered to Daniel in the lion’s den. But it is probably more legend than historlcal. 1. Habakkuk questions; how can God, who is just and good, send against his people a nation that makes a god of it’s own might? Will Babylon rule for ever? Habakkuk 1:12-17. 2. God answers; the ones whose lives will be forfeit are those who greedily grab what belongs to others. God will punish all man’s arrogant pride. Habakkuk 2:4-10. 520 ZECHARIAH. Some of Zechariah’s prophesies were Messianic – telling of the coming of the Messiah – the one awaited by the Jewish faith. 1. ‘Tell him this is what the Lord Almighty says: "Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the Lord. It is he who will build the temple of the Lord, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne." ‘ (There is a poignancy in the opening words ‘Here is the man’, the words used by Pilate. John 19:5. ) Zechariah 6:12-13. B.C. 420 MALACHI. One of the meanings of Malachi’s name is ‘the messenger’. His writings prophecy the coming of John the Baptist. 1. Malachi prophesies that ‘a messenger will be sent on ahead to prepare the way. (A direct prophesy to John the Baptist.) Malachi 3:1. THE BOOKS OF MACHABEES. These two books tell the story of the Jews from 175BC to 135BC. The countries surrounding Judah were constantly attacking the Jews, desecrating their altars and stealing their temple vessels. Mattathias, the son of a priest, lives in the mountains with his five sons. They become defenders of the faith. Often totally outnumbered they are able to rout the invading forces. Most powerful among the sons is Judas known as Machabees from the Hebrew word for ‘Hammer’. The story of both books is one of wars and fighting. 1. Antichous IV attacks Jerusalem. At that time, throughout the whole of the city, for forty days, horsemen were seen running in the air, in gilded raiment, and armed with spears, like bands of soldiers. The people prayed that these visions might turn to good. 2 Machabees 5:1-4. 2. An old man, Eleazer, refuses to eat forbidden meat. His friends encourage him to ‘pretend to eat’ which would have been sufficient to save his life. But he refuses to compromise himself by such pretence and is put to death. 2 Machabees 6:18-31. 3. In a similar situation a mother and seven sons are ordered to eat forbidden meat. At their refusal the mother is made to watch whilst each son is tortured by having their tongues cut out and their hands and feet cut off. During their torture the mother spoke words of encouragement to her sons. After the seven sons had died the Mother was also killed. 2 Machabees 7:1.42 APPENDIX. The above Old Testament Biblical stories are those chosen by the writer of this booklet as being unusual and/or inspirational. Many other such stories must exist. A challenge for readers to find them!