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 history of the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that Yahweh God made the earth and the heavens. No plant of the field was yet in the earth, and no herb of the field had yet sprung up; for Yahweh God had not caused it to rain on the earth. There was not a man to till the ground, read more. but a mist went up from the earth, and watered the whole surface of the ground. Yahweh God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Yahweh God planted a garden eastward, in Eden, and there he put the man whom he had formed. Out of the ground Yahweh God made every tree to grow that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the middle of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it was parted, and became four heads. The name of the first is Pishon: this is the one which flows through the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; and the gold of that land is good. There is aromatic resin and the onyx stone. The name of the second river is Gihon: the same river that flows through the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Hiddekel: this is the one which flows in front of Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates. Yahweh God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. Yahweh God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it; for in the day that you eat of it you will surely die." Yahweh God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him." Out of the ground Yahweh God formed every animal of the field, and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. Whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock, and to the birds of the sky, and to every animal of the field; but for man there was not found a helper suitable for him. Yahweh God caused a deep sleep to fall on the man, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. He made the rib, which Yahweh God had taken from the man, into a woman, and brought her to the man. The man said, "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh. She will be called 'woman,' because she was taken out of Man." Therefore a man will leave his father and his mother, and will join with his wife, and they will be one flesh. They were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
But I will establish my covenant with you. You shall come into the ship, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons' wives with you. Of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ship, to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female.
Of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ship, to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. Of the birds after their kind, of the livestock after their kind, of every creeping thing of the ground after its kind, two of every sort shall come to you, to keep them alive. read more. Take with you of all food that is eaten, and gather it to yourself; and it will be for food for you, and for them." Thus Noah did. According to all that God commanded him, so he did.
You shall take seven pairs of every clean animal with you, the male and his female. Of the animals that are not clean, take two, the male and his female. Also of the birds of the sky, seven and seven, male and female, to keep seed alive on the surface of all the earth.
They went to Noah into the ship, by pairs of all flesh with the breath of life in them.
Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. The Canaanite was then in the land.
These are the kings who reigned in the land of Edom, before any king reigned over the children of Israel.
A certain man found him, and behold, he was wandering in the field. The man asked him, "What are you looking for?" He said, "I am looking for my brothers. Tell me, please, where they are feeding the flock." read more. The man said, "They have left here, for I heard them say, 'Let us go to Dothan.'" Joseph went after his brothers, and found them in Dothan. They saw him afar off, and before he came near to them, they conspired against him to kill him. They said one to another, "Behold, this dreamer comes. Come now therefore, and let's kill him, and cast him into one of the pits, and we will say, 'An evil animal has devoured him.' We will see what will become of his dreams."
Yahweh said to Moses, "Pharaoh's heart is stubborn. He refuses to let the people go.
Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh, and Yahweh hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he didn't let the children of Israel go out of his land.
Yahweh said to Moses, "Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under the sky."
Moses wrote all the words of Yahweh, and rose up early in the morning, and built an altar under the mountain, and twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel.
He took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people, and they said, "All that Yahweh has spoken will we do, and be obedient."
Now the man Moses was very humble, above all the men who were on the surface of the earth.
When you are come to the land which Yahweh your God gives you, and shall possess it, and shall dwell therein, and shall say, "I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me;"
It happened, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished,
There has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom Yahweh knew face to face,