Heidegger's Bible Handbook: Old Testament in General: Outline of the Pentateuch

Updated: May 2, 2019

10. The Law of Moses, the Pentateuch. The rationale of its name explained. The Author, Moses. The order of the writing of the books of the Pentateuch. The distribution and argument of the same. The Prophets, why they are specifically called Historical, and κατ᾽ ἐξοχὴν/pre-eminently Prophetical? The distribution and argument of the same. Why Psalms denote the Poetic books? Whether they are rightly called the כתובים/Hagiographa? The judgment of Junius concerning the Hagiographa. The distribution and argument of the Poetic Books. A Synoptic Table, and the Interpreters of the Books of the Old Testament.


With these thing set down beforehand, we proceed to a general Analysis of the Books of the Old Testament. The Books of the Old Testament, accordingly, are of three sorts:



I. Νόμος Μωσέως, the Law of Moses. Not because it contains the doctrine of the law alone (since it παρεισῆλθεν, slipped in, Romans 5:20,[1] that is, it followed the promise after a long interval of time, so that it might minister to it), but because in those books an exceedingly solemn promulgation of the Mosaic Law, ministering to the promise and faith, is described again and again. Those Books the Hebrews call חמשה חומשים, the five fifths; but the individual Books, חומש, a fifth: the Greeks call them Πεντάτευχον/Pentateuch, understanding βίβλον/Book, the Book of the five scrolls. Its Author is believed to be Moses, the son of Amram, grandson of Kohath, Great-grandson of the Patriarch Levi,[2] by almost all, ancient and more recent, with some excepted, who think that Moses wrote only a diary, afterwards embellished by Joshua or others. As far as the order of writing is concerned, first Moses, by the Divine commandment, recorded the principal acts of his time in registers, Exodus 17:14, and from those he composed the סֵפֶר הַבְּרִית, Book of the Covenant, including both the promises of God, and the stipulations or laws, by which the people are put in mind of their duty toward God, as it is gathered out of Exodus 24:4, 7. Then, God Himself wrote the Law of the Decalogue on two tables, so that the people of Israel might be instructed in His will, Exodus 24:12; 31:18. With which tables broken, Exodus 32:15, 16, etc., Moses fashioned others, and God wrote the same words on them, Exodus 34:1, 28. Third, Moses added the rest, pursuing both those things that pertained to the illustration of the doctrine of the Law and of the Gospel, and the whole history of the Church, from the origin of the world to his own death, and the Generalship of Joshua. But whether that whole was divided by Moses himself into the five parts, which some Hebrews affirm; or rather by the Greek Septuagint Translators, as it appears to others, we remain in the middle. Moreover, in the Law of Moses, or Pentateuch are related:



1. The History of the Church of the Patriarchs unto the time of Moses. In which are accomplished the origin of all things (Genesis 1; 2); and the history of the former world (Genesis 3-7); and the history of the latter world, under the Patriarchs Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph (Genesis 8-50), in the Book of Genesis in fifty chapters.


2. The History of the Israelite Church under Moses, and especially the government of the same by the Law slipped in. Of which these things are to be observed:


a. The general promulgation, in which are accomplished the history of the persecution of the Israelites, and the preparation for the exodus (Exodus 1-11), of their liberation and exodus out of Egypt, and also of their departure into the desert unto Sinai (Exodus 12-18), and finally the setting forth of the Mosaic law in the desert of Sinai (Exodus 19-40), in the Book of Exodus in forty chapters.


b. A specific promulgation, in which is contained:



α. The τάξις ἱερατικὴ, sacerdotal arrangement, the Ecclesiastical Laws or sacred Law. In which occur the Laws concerning Sacrifices, and their kings and rites (Leviticus 1-7); the consecration of Aaron and his sons (Leviticus 8-10); and diverse laws concerning the sanctification of the entire people and of individuals (Leviticus 11-27), in the Book of Leviticus in twenty-seven chapters.


β. The prosecution of the journey in the desert, and also the appointment of the polity, in which are described partly the preparation for departure from the desert of Sinai, with a census instituted, and various laws set forth (Numbers 1-10); partly the history of the departure unto the land of Moab (Numbers 11-21); partly the preparation and disposition of the people in the plains of Moab for the occupation of the inheritance of the holy land, and of the first-fruits of the inheritance occupied on the other side of Jordan (Numbers 22-36), in the Book of Numbers in forty chapters.


c. The promulgation of the law repeated. In which place are related a repetition both of the preceding history (Deuteronomy 1-4), and of the Mosaic Legislation (Deuteronomy 5-26); and also the solemn sanction of the law hitherto repeated (Deuteronomy 27-30); and finally Moses’ testament and death (Deuteronomy 31-34), in the Book of Deuteronomy in thirty-four chapters.

[1] Romans 5:20: “Moreover the law entered (παρεισῆλθεν), that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound…”


[2] See Exodus 6:16-20.


Dr. Dilday's Lecture: "Hermeneutics, and Mosaic Authorship"


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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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