The first five books of the OT were known in Jewish circles as 'the five-fifths of the Law.' Christian scholars as early as Tertullian and Origen adopted the name Pentateuch, corresponding to their Jewish title, as a convenient designation of these books. 'The Law' was regarded as a unique and authoritative exposition of all individual and social conduct within Israel: a wide gulf seemed to divide it from the Book of Joshua, which inaugurated the series of historical books known as 'the Latter Prophets.' As a matter of fact, this division is wholly artificial. The five books of the Law are primarily intended to present the reader not with a codification of the legal system, but with some account of the antiquities and origins of Israel, as regards their religious worship, their political position, and their social arrangements. From this standpoint, nothing could be more arbitrary than to treat the Book of Joshua as the beginning of an entirely new series: 'its contents, and, still more, its literary structure, show that it is intimately connected with the Pentateuch, and describes the final stage in the history of the Origines of the Hebrew nation' (Driver, LOT [Note: OT Introd. to the Literature of the Old Testament.] 103). Critics have accordingly invented the name Hexateuch to emphasize this unity; and the name has now become universally accepted as an appropriate description of the first six volumes of the OT. In this article we propose to consider (I.) the composition, (II.) the criticism, and (III.) the characteristics of the Hexateuch.
I. Composition of the Hexateuch.
This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made earth and heaven. Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the LORD God had not sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground. read more. But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground. Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is Pishon; it flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. The gold of that land is good; the bdellium and the onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is Gihon; it flows around the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Tigris; it flows east of Assyria And the fourth river is the Euphrates. Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. The LORD God commanded the man, saying, "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die." Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him." Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, "This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man." For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
"But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall enter the ark--you and your sons and your wife, and your sons' wives with you. "And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female.
"And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. "Of the birds after their kind, and of the animals after their kind, of every creeping thing of the ground after its kind, two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive. read more. "As for you, take for yourself some of all food which is edible, and gather it to yourself; and it shall be for food for you and for them." Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did.
"You shall take with you of every clean animal by sevens, a male and his female; and of the animals that are not clean two, a male and his female; also of the birds of the sky, by sevens, male and female, to keep offspring alive on the face of all the earth.
So they went into the ark to Noah, by twos of all flesh in which was the breath of life.
Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. Now the Canaanite was then in the land.
Now these are the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before any king reigned over the sons of Israel.
A man found him, and behold, he was wandering in the field; and the man asked him, "What are you looking for?" He said, "I am looking for my brothers; please tell me where they are pasturing the flock." read more. Then the man said, "They have moved from here; for I heard them say, 'Let us go to Dothan.'" So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan. When they saw him from a distance and before he came close to them, they plotted against him to put him to death. They said to one another, "Here comes this dreamer! "Now then, come and let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; and we will say, 'A wild beast devoured him.' Then let us see what will become of his dreams!"
Then the LORD said to Moses, "Pharaoh's heart is stubborn; he refuses to let the people go.
Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh; yet the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he did not let the sons of Israel go out of his land.
Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write this in a book as a memorial and recite it to Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven."
Moses wrote down all the words of the LORD Then he arose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain with twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel.
Then he took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, "All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!"
(Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.)
"When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, and you possess it and live in it, and you say, 'I will set a king over me like all the nations who are around me,'
It came about, when Moses finished writing the words of this law in a book until they were complete,
Since that time no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face,