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    • Picture in your mind a hallway in an office building. This hallway has sixteen doors and each one has a label identifying the room behind the door. If you open a door, you will find filing cabinets in each of the rooms. Each of the cabinets contains drawers. Each drawer contains folders. Each folder contains documents.

      The rooms represent the major time periods of Bible History. The documents represent events.

      The purpose of this analogy is to communicate the purpose of this approach to teaching the Bible's narrative. By starting with the time periods and working one's way down to individual events, a student of the Bible can develop a mental structure which allows the student to see how each event fits in with all the other events within the Bible narrative.

      The first time period is called "Before the Flood." Although that is what it is called yet it ends about 120 years before the actual event of the flooding of the earth.

      In this approach to learning the Bible's history, it is not the label by which the time period is discussed that is important. The label is simply a tool to help one to grasp which time period is under consideration. Although "Before Noah was 480" might be more technically accurate, it is not necessarily more helpful to the student.

      The recorded events of the first time period are found in Genesis 1-5. This includes Creation, The garden of Eden, The first sin, Cain and Abel, and the Genealogies from Adam to Noah

      Almost all of the time periods of the Bible come to an end because of God's response to man's transgressions.

      The first time period ended because the thoughts of mankind only purposed that which was detrimental and did so continuously.

      A subject which is introduced in this time period is a Hebrew word which is translated by the English word "evil." This Hebrew word does not mean Wicked. The Hebrew word translated evil is to wicked as mammal is to feline. The Hebrew word refers to that which is detrimental, that which malfunctions, that which blights, that which is tragic. Wickedness is a subcategory of Evil. Covid-19 also falls into the classification of evil but Covid-19 is not wicked because wickedness requires an intellect which is capable of analysis and resolve.

      Likewise, the Hebrew word translated "good" does not mean "right" or "just." The Hebrew word translated good refers to that which is beneficial, that which functions well, that which causes something or someone to thrive, that which is favorable. Again, that which is "righteous" is a subcategory of "good."

    • The second major Time period is called "The Flood" but again that label is only intended to identify which time period is under discussion. This time period begins about 120 years before the Flood when God first commanded Noah to build an ark. Interestingly (at least to me), all three of Noah's sons were born after this command was given.

      This time period lasts until the scattering of the people after the people began to build the city and the tower known as Babel.

      According to the Bible, all humanity came from the family that survived the flood. Thus, it should not be surprising to the Bible believer that most civilizations have a flood story.

      But while other cultures often portray the survivors of the flood as having heroically battled the elements during the flood, the Bible does not. Both the Hebrew word and the Greek word translated "Ark" refer to a wooden box. In fact, the English word also originally meant a box. The English word is from the latin word arca meaning a wooden box. See

      The picture in the Bible is of eight people shut up blindly in a wooden box without any navigational tools such as a rudder and without any ability to guess in which way the box would swerve next.

      Although the rain storm only lasted forty days yet the flood waters and a great wind prevailed long beyond that and even after the box came to a rest, they were stuck in the box for a long time. In fact, they were in the box for a year.

      During both the rising of the waters and the decreasing of the waters, this box could have been dashed against the rocks and even after the bottom of the box came to a halt, the mountain peaks were still covered in water, yet the bottom of the box was not damaged by shifting and scraping against the rocks of the mountain.

      After they came out of the box, God commanded them to fill the earth by being fruitful and multiplying. But they decided that they wanted to remain together in one location and in order to accomplish that agenda they began to build a city and a tower.

      But God's agenda called for the re-population of the land and so in order to accomplish His will, He confounded the languages of the people so that they could not understand one another and thus they were scattered accross the face of the land.

      This again was God's response to the people's transgression of His choice. God's right to choose and the fact that He has chosen and the fact that man is not satisfied with God's choice is one of the main themes of the entire Bible. Stephen's sermon in Acts 7 focuses on this theme. Paul's discussion of why many people do not accept the gospel focuses on this theme in 1 Corinthians 1:27-28

      One of the aspects of Hebrew narratives is a literary structure consisting of an inverted parallel with a central element which is also the main point of the narrative. Some of these are quite lengthy but the story of Babel in Genesis 11 is one of the shorter examples:

      1. One language (verse 1)

      2. Dwelt together (verse 2)

      3. "Come, let us" (verse 3)

      4. A single purpose (verse 4)

      5. But YHWH came down (verse 5) (The main point)

      4'. The people's unity (verse 6)

      3'. "Come, let us" (verse 7)

      2'. Scattered apart

      1'. Many Languages

    • One of the aspects of Hebrew narratives is a literary structure consisting of an inverted parallel with a central element which is also the main point of the narrative.

      I’m confused by what you mean here, especially by the term “central element.” You previously mentioned that you teach using a model containing 3 elements, including context. Is this the same as the central element?

    • No, Stephen.

      The model of teaching which I described in an earlier post is my own approach to making certain that the student understands where an event fits into the Bible's teaching, it has nothing at all to do with literary structure.

      A sonnet is a literary structure. There is an Italian Sonnet structure, A Shakespearean Sonnet Structure and a Spenserian Sonnet structure.

      A Limerick also is a literary structure.

      The literary structure is built into the written work.

      If you would like to read a more complicated explanation of what I was trying to simplify, you might read the Wikipedia article which discusses this kind of Literary structure.

      In the Noah example in the Wikipedia article, the letter X is used to signify the central element of the Noah Narrative.

    • Now it makes sense. When I was screenwriting, we used a three act structure. Thank you for clearing up my misunderstanding.

    • The third time period can be labeled "The Clan Leaders" or for those who prefer scholarly words "The Patriarchs"

      This time period begins with the scattering of the people due to their languages being confounded. During this time period, God worked through various men who led large groups of people which consisted of families and servants. Among those who are mentioned in the Bible are Job and Melchizedek. Abraham was also a Clan Leader.

      This time period's ending is difficult because its ending was different for Israel and than it was for the rest of mankind. There were people like Balaam who before his greed got the better of him was a prophet of God long after Israel was no longer under the jurisdiction of the instructions God had given through Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. There is also the problem that the Bible does not discuss the lives of these other clans in the way it does the ancestors of Israel. For example, we know almost nothing about Melchizedek's life or of those under his rule except for one short encounter which he had with Abraham. The implication of the biblical text is that these were not the only clan leaders through whom God worked but how long there were such people who were submissive to God among the other nations is never discussed.

      For the Israelites, the time period of the Patriarchs might be said to have two endings. The first of these two endings was when God chose Moses to lead them.

      (Notice throughout our future discussions that people like Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Gideon, Saul, David, Jeremiah, etc. did not choose themselves but were chosen by God and often quite abruptly from the man's standpoint.)

      The second ending of the Clan Leaders time period for Israel was Mt. Sinai.

      But for simplicity's sake, we are going to use God's command to Moses to go to Egypt and lead Israel out of Egypt as the way we distinguish the third time period from the fourth. BUT, during the months prior to Mt. Sinai, Israel was still under the Clan Leader system with Moses functioning as their Clan Leader.

      For Israel, the time period of the Clan Leaders can be subdivided into the time before God spoke to Abraham, followed by the time periods of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and their years in Egypt after Joseph's death.

      When God had spoken to Noah, the instructions and covenants applied to all humanity but during this third time period, God makes covenants with the descendants of Abraham which do not apply to the rest of humanity.

      There are stark contrasts legally between the third time period and the fourth time period which are useful as analogues when discussing the 15th time period which is the beginning of the jurisdiction of the Christ's elevation to "both Lord and Christ" as Peter describes it in Acts 2.

    • The fourth time period (see previous post for the legal or jurisdictional beginning) begins with God's encounter with Moses at the burning bush when Moses is 80.

      Technically speaking the early years of Moses' life are part of the third time period and from a legal standpoint the third time period doesn't end until the system commanded at Mt. Sinai is fully implemented. This is for example, the reason that it is Moses and not Aaron who places the furnishings of the tabernacle when it is first erected.

      However, for those who are just beginning to study the history of the Bible, I encourage them to not get hung up with the technicalities and the legalities until after they have a good grasp of the overall history of the Bible. Even those who have studied the Bible for years often get entangled on the technicalities and legalities of the time prior to Acts 2.

      At this point, it is a good idea to point out that the Bible is at times extremely precise and at other times frustratingly imprecise.

      We, ourselves, are not as precise as we sometimes seem to think we are. For example, two horses can be born a month apart but on the next New Year's Day they are considered to both be one year old. The Bible seems to do the same kind of thing while at the same time mixing in some precise statements.

      As an example which is partly relevant to a discussion of the fourth time period, the children of Israel were technically not wandering aimlessly in the wilderness for forty years. If one wants a precise statement regarding those forty years that would be that the time period from the night of the slaughter of the firstborn by God's angel until Joshua 5:10 is precisely 40 years by the Israel's lunar based calendar which is not the same as a solar based calendar.

      The reason for bringing this up is because there are many assumptions made by readers of the first few chapters of Exodus that are unable to be substantiated.

      One example is that we have no idea how many men were Pharaoh from Exodus 1:1 to Exodus 14:28. Even in our reading of Exodus 11:1 to Exodus 14:6, we do not know whether this is one man or three men. The three man theory would be that the man who was Pharaoh in Exodus 11 died in the tenth plague as a firstborn son, that the man who told Israel to leave Egypt was a second Pharaoh and that prior to Exodus 14:6 there was a royal assassination. The fact is, we simply do not know and therefore should "just let it go."

      Another example is the woman who adopted Moses. We know that she was a Pharaoh's daughter but we don't know if she was the current Pharaoh's daughter or the daughter of the previous Pharaoh, we simply are not told.

      The point is that we should avoid assumptions when reading the Bible and it is often difficult to be aware that an assumptions has been made.

      This fourth time period ends when the Israelites refuse to enter the promised land because they are afraid that they will be defeated. This event is recorded in Numbers 14. This is a sin against God and God responds by telling them that they will be in a spiritually set aside condition known as "kadesh" and will wander physically for many years until the generation of those men who had been over the age of 20 when they left Egypt had all died except for two men who are preserved because they had been in favor of going into the promised land. This ends the fourth time period and ushers in the fifth time period.

      So all the events found in Exodus except for the first 2 chapters including the events at Mt. Sinai and the events of Leviticus and the first 13 chapters of Numbers all take place within the fourth time period.

      What shall we call the fourth time period?

      Well, for lack of a better name and because it is an easy name to remember I call it "Exodus" even though technically speaking that is just one event in a much larger time period.

    • There are stark contrasts legally between the third time period and the fourth time period

      What do you mean by legally, legality and jurisdiction? I think of man’s law when I hear the word “legally” but I’m not sure if that’s what you are referring to.

      And I’m sure you will explain it later, however, I’m either forgetful or ignorant of what Mt. Sinai refers to.

      Thank you again for this. The third time period is definitely a period for which I am most ignorant: Catholic after school studies and Sunday mass only touched on Moses as far as the clan leaders during this period are concerned.

    • I'm extremely glad you asked these questions. If you had not I would have blindly blundered forward based on assuming a "shared cultural referent."

      When an American uses the term "The Civil War," he is probably talking about the war that took place during Lincoln's presidency. But a English person who spoke of the Civil War would not be talking about the war of 1861-1865 unless he first prefaced it by a reference to America or the USA. Similarly, many Americans may not realize that the 1812 Overture has nothing whatsoever to do with what is sometimes called "Madison's War."

      Let's deal with the Mt. Sinai question first.

      In Exodus 19:2, Israel arrives at a place that is described as "before the mountain." This means that they did not actually camp on the mountain side but in the land below the mountain.

      Mt. Sinai, which is also called Mt. Horeb, is the place where God gave Moses the two tablets of stone on which the Ten Commandments were written. It is at the base of that Montain that the Israelites built a golden calf. All the events recorded in Exodus 19:2-Numbers 10:11 take place either below this Mountain or on this Mountain.

      For many Bible students the term Mt. Sinai is a mnemonic label for the ramifications and consequences of the events which occurred during that time period.

      Before Israel arrived at Mt. Sinai, they were not under the Ten Commandments nor were they under the Law which was given at Mt. Sinai.

      In order to help you to understand what that means consider the history of the USA. In 1770, it was illegal for a man to murder his neighbor in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1787, it was also illegal for a man to murder his neighbor. Likewise, in 1800, it was illegal to muder one's neighbor.

      But, the law which was violated in 1770, was British law. The law violated in 1787 was Maryland law as a part of a confederacy of states. The law violated in 1800 included the jurisdiction of the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

      Until the US Constitution was ratified and until the Bill of Rights were also ratified, the law under which a murderer was judged was not subject to the provisions of the Constitution nor could any appeal be made to the Supreme Court for a violation of the rights which are provided in the first ten amendments.

      Likewise, the ancestors of Israel (such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, etc.) were not under the laws which were first implemented at Mt. Sinai. As an example, although Abraham was required to sacrifice only those animals which God had decreed were clean yet Abraham was allowed to eat of all edible animals while those Israelites who lived after the events of Mt. Sinai were limited to eating only the animals which are detailed within the law given at Mt, Sinai.

      This corpus of law only applied to Israelites and those who dwelt among them. Gentiles who lived away from Israel could eat pork (as an example) without committing sin but Israelites and those living among them were prohibited from doing so.

      There is a reason for this and it pertains to God's holiness.

      Because humans commit sin, we are by our transgressions separated from God. (In Christ, that separation is done away with but these events all occurred before Acts 2.)

      In order to illustrate to man that God is separate from humanity's unholiness, God established a series of "encirclements" around His "presence."

      The first of these is described in Exodus 19. God tells Israel that all of humanity belongs to Him but that He proposes to take Israel unto Himself to be a people of holiness.

      Later, God takes the tribe of Levi to be a tribe that is more holy than the holy nation of Israel.

      Jacob's son Levi had three sons, Merari, Gershon, and Kohath. Although all of Levi was a holy tribe, God takes Kohath to be a holy clan within Levi.

      From among the Kohathites, God takes the family of Aaron to be priests and therefore more holy than the rest of Kohath.

      God then takes one man from the priests, the first of these was Aaron, to be the holiest of the priests and he is the only one who is allowed on the annual day of atonement to twice bring blood into God's presence behind the veil and then get out. Even he was prohibited from being behind the veil at any other time or for any other reason.

      Now the reason for going through all of that is to say this:

      There were laws that applied to Israel that did not apply to the rest of humanity

      There were laws that applied to Levites that did not apply to the rest of Israel

      There were laws that applied to the Kohathites which did not apply to the rest of Levi

      There were laws that applied to the priests that did not apply to the rest of the Kohath clan

      There were laws that applied to the High Priest which did not apply to the rest of the priests


      Well to quote what God said about this "Be ye holy for I am holy."

      Now why did I use the word "encirclements" earlier?

      The twelve tribes were commanded to camp around Jehovah's tent. Each of the tribes were assigned a location. Three on the north, Three on the East, Three on the West, and Three on the south.

      There was inside that circle a circular "dead zone" where no one was allowed to camp.

      That "dead zone" encircled the camp of the Levites. Each of the clans were assigned a location around the courtyard of Jehovah's tent. This courtyard was defined by poles and cloth hangings and there was no entrance except on the east. The priests and Moses were camped in front of the entrance.

      During a holy assembly, Israel could come to the east side but could not pass through the entrance. Only those who were consecrated priests of the family of Aaron were allowed to cross into the courtyard,

      All of this, was for the purpose of illustrating that God is separate from sinners.

      Thus, when the veil was rent from top to bottom at the time that Jesus died it was to indicate that because of His death, God is now approachable but even now it must be on His terms and through Jesus.

    • Did my last post resolve your questions or did I miss the ball?

      It was quite helpful and I appreciated the comparison to the law in effect before the US Constitution was ratified. I also learned in the process about the encirclement. Thank you, you are an accomplished teacher.

    • Teaching is largely about guesstimating how much a student can take in. In trying to help others become Bible teachers, I emphasize that 1st grade public school teachers have a college level understanding of the subject that they are seeking to communicate yet their students are not able to take in that much information.

      Feedback from a student helps a teacher to adjust the information flow to optimize the student's learning.

      I'll be posting about the fifth time period in a little bit.

    • The fifth time period begins with the refusal of the Israelites to enter the land and ends with the celebration of the passover in the land in Joshua 10.

      This time period can be subdivided into four time smaller time periods. The first time period is the time of aimless wandering. This is also the time period of Kadesh which I will discuss later in this post.

      The second of these smaller time periods begins with New Year's Day of the last year in the Wilderness. This is also the day when the sister of Moses and Aaron whose name was Miriam dies. This second smaller time period is a bit over 8 months in length and ends with the encampment on the plains of Moab.

      The third smaller time period is about three months in length and ends with the death of Moses.

      The fourth smaller time period begins with Joshua being made Israel's new leader and ends with the passover that is celebrated in Joshua 10.

      The first of these four time periods began because Israel was caused to be scared ny the report of ten of the twelve spies who had been sent to search out the promised land and report back as to what they had seen. These ten men die during the night. Because Israel had refused to obey God, He had told them that this was the tenth time that they had rebelled against them and that they would now dwell in Kadesh until the current generation of men had died out. This meant that God was separating them from Himself. This did not include those men who had been less than 20 when they had left Egypt and it also did not include Joshua and Caleb who had exhorted the Israelites to go up into the promised land because God would deliver it into Israel's hand.

      The next morning, the same people who had refused to go into the land, decide that they will go into the land after all. Moses tells them that such an action would be a transgression against God's command. He also tells them that God will not be with them. They went into the land anyway and were defeated. (Numbers 14:40-45)

      The Bible tells us almost nothing about what happened during the next 37 years and a few months. The events we have previously discussed end with Numbers 14:45 and the events after those 37 and a half years begin with Numbers 20:1

      In fact, there are only two significant events during those years and they take place over the course of less than a week.

      Some of the men of the tribe of Reuben decided that the men of Reuben should be the leaders of Israel not Moses.

      There were also about 250 men who were not of the family of Aaron who desired to be priests. They were led by a first cousin of Moses and Aaron named Korah. The 1899 Douay-Rheims translation renders his name Core.

      (Side Note: Ancient Hebrew used only Consonants and English translations try to reproduce those names using English consonants but there is no standard for determining which English consonant is the right English consonant. Thus RVK and RBK can result in Rivik and Rebekah for the same person in different translations. JHVH and YHWH can result in Jehovah and Yahweh. K, Q and a Hard C can be used for the same Hebrew letter so one might see Kadesh or Qadesh. In this passage CR and KR are used by different translators resulting in Core and Korah. These are not contradictions but merely different attempts to reproduce the same sounds.)

      These people confronted Moses and Aaron one day. "And when they had stood up against Moses and Aaron, they said: Let it be enough for you, that all the multitude consisteth of holy ones, and the Lord is among them: Why lift you up yourselves above the people of the Lord?"

      The next day, God caused the earth to open up and swallow the men of Reuben who had taken part in this rebellion and He also caused fire to come forth and consume those 250 who had presumed to offer incense to God. (Numbers 16:23-35)

      Well, one would think that would have been the end of that but the next day after that the people arose and began to accuse Moses and Aaron of having caused the events of the previous day. God was furious and sent a plague among the people and that day 14,700 people died and more would have probably died but Moses instructed Aaron to take his censer and stand in the midst of the camp and pray and offer incense to God and when he did so, God stopped the plague.

      But God also wanted to make certain that the people knew that Moses and Aaron had not chosen themselves, so God instructed Moses to take one stick or rod from the leader of each of the tribes and to also take Aaron's rod from Aaron. He told Moses to write the name of the leader of each tribe on the rod taken from the leader and write Aaron's name on Aaron's rod and then all thirteen rods were to be placed "in the tabernacle of the covenant before the testimony"

      The next day:

      "He returned on the following day, and found that the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi, was budded: and that the buds swelling it had bloomed blossoms, which spreading the leaves, were formed into almonds. Moses therefore brought out all the rods from before the Lord to all the children of Israel: and they saw, and every one received their rods. And the Lord said to Moses: Carry back the rod of Aaron into the tabernacle of the testimony, that it may be kept there for a token of the rebellious children of Israel, and that their complaints may cease from me lest they die."

      The second of these smaller time periods includes quite a number of events but for summary's sake, I'll limit my comment in this post to the fact that prior to this time period, they had been aimlessly wandering but during this time period their is a goal which is reached and several of their enemies outside of the promised land are defeated. This time period ends after they have defeated the kingdoms that are east of the Jordan and are camped very close to the place where they will cross the Jordan River on the plains of Moab.

      The third smaller time period is about 3 months in length and includes 5 speeches given by Moses and the teaching of a song of remembrance. It also includes Moses' final instructions to Joshua and Moses' climb to the top of the Mountain where God shows Moses the promised land and then Moses dies.

      The fourth smaller time period begins with Joshua taking command. It includes the sending of two spies to the city of Jericho. It includes the crossing of the Jordan. It includes the circumcision of those men who had not been circumcised in the wilderness. It includes God's statement that He has "rolled away" "the reproach of Egypt" from Israel. It includes and ends with Israel's celebration of the passover for the first time within the promised land.

    • It includes the circumcision of those men who had not been circumcised in the wilderness.

      I hope this question I want to ask is respectful. Is circumcision considered a religious requirement for Christian male babies?

      Or does this fall into different legality for different time periods, like you mentioned above with Israel being restricted from eating certain foods and Gentiles free to eat them without sin?


      A question on the budding rod. I realize that the Bible may not reveal why God chose a particular action but only that he took that action.

      Moses knew it was God talking to him because of the burning bush. And the tribe leaders knew Moses and Aaron were God’s chosen after they saw the the budding rod.

      But did the men who led the rebellion and were swallowed up into the Earth have any sign that Moses was God’s chosen one?

      Again, I mean no disrespect in asking: I know you talked in other conversations how it’s not man’s place to question or always understand God’s decisions. But as someone raised Catholic there’s a part of me that feels a disconnect when in some parts of the Bible people are considered “doubting Thomases” for not having faith when in other sections of the Bible the truth is explicitly revealed by God.

    • These are very good questions and are not disrespectful in any way.

      What makes them good questions is that they are based on a desire to understand God's will better than one presently does.

      I come from a religious environment that encourages independent Bible study and in which the fallibility of the teacher is emphasized. Thus any question that is motivated by a desire to better understand what God wants us to understand is a good question and requires no apology of any kind.

      The first question is one which came up in the 1st century and which is discussed in several places in the New Testament.

      First, some historical background.

      Before Jesus came to this earth, the Jews were very evangelistic. They also often had assemblies in which Gentiles were invited to attend as visitors. There was a courtyard in the temple complex in which uncircumcised Gentiles were allowed to gather as visitors. When one reads through the book of Acts one finds that when Paul first arrived in places, there were often Gentiles at the synagogues which Paul entered.

      But these Gentiles were not considered to be converts to Judaism. In order to be a convert one had to not only be circumcised but also had to keep the restrictions which were bound on the Jews.

      It is within this background, that God did something which startled Christians and caused wide spread confusion.

      Unlike Paul, Peter was raised in a very restricted location. Paul was raised in a Roman colony and although his family were very strict Pharisees they lived in a Gentile city. Peter was raised in a Jewish location and did not associate socially with Gentiles. One day, Peter had gone up on the rooftop of the house in which he was visiting in order to wait for lunch and to devote himself to prayer. While he was on the rooftop, God sent him a vision which confounded Peter.

      In the vision, an object like a gigantic sheet descended out of the sky and it was filled with all kinds of animals which were not lawful for an Israelite to eat. A voice called out "Rise, Peter, Kill and Eat."

      Peter answered "Far be it from me; for I never did eat any thing that is common and unclean."

      The voice answered "That which God has cleansed, do not call common."

      Side Note: The word common refers to that which is not sacred, that which is ordinary and which has not been set aside as holy.

      This same thing happened again.

      Then it happened a third time.

      Then the sheet was withdrawn.

      Peter was very confused and puzzled. He was wondering what the vision had meant.

      How long, he was pondering this, we are not told.

      The Holy Spirit spoke to Peter and said "Behold three men seek you. Arise, therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them."

      When Peter went down, the three men were Gentiles. But not just any Gentiles, they were the servants of a Roman military commander. They told him that they had been sent by the Roman commander to bring Peter back with them.

      Six other Christians, all of them Jews who had obeyed the gospel, accompanied Peter and these Gentiles the next day. The Romans had established a Gentile city called Cæsarea to which Peter was taken. When they got there, they were taken to a house in which several Gentiles were gathered. The Bible tells us that this Roman Commander "had called together his relatives and close friends."

      When they entered, the Commander came forward and fell down before Peter to worship him and Peter rebuked him. Peter said "“Stand up; I myself am also a man.”

      They began to talk together and went into the house and found the group of Gentiles that were inside.

      By now, Peter is really uncertain as to what is going on. It was not consider legal by the Jews for a Jew to go into the house of an uncircumcised Gentile and the next time Peter goes to Jerusalem some of the Christians in Jerusalem are going to confront him because of this.

      Peter decides to ask for more information.

      "You know that it is unlawful for a man that is a Jew, to keep company or to come unto one of another nation: but God hath shown me, to call no man common or unclean. For which cause, making no doubt, I came when I was sent for. I ask, therefore, for what cause you have sent for me?"

      The Commander replied "Four days ago, to this hour, I was praying in my house, at the ninth hour, and behold a man stood before me in white apparel, and said: 'Cornelius, your prayer is heard, and your benevolences are had in remembrance in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa, and call here Simon, who is surnamed Peter: he lodges in the house of Simon a tanner, by the sea side.'  Immediately therefore I sent to you: and you have done well in coming. Now
      therefore all we are present before God, to hear all things whatsoever are commanded you by the Lord."

      Peter begins to deliver a sermon on the life of Jesus and God's plan of Salvation but before he has had a chance to say more than a few words, God does something else that was unexpected. In the middle of Peter's sermon (Peter describes it this way: "And when I had begun to speak) God suddenly sent the Holy Spirit on the Gentiles who were present. They began to speak in other languages and to magnify God.

      The six Christians who had come with Peter were astonished.

      Peter turns to these six men and says "Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit, as well as we?"

      Well, this caused all kinds of questions and discussions.

      But there was one thing that could not be disputed.

      All the Christians knew that when a miracle occurred it did not happen by the will of man.

      On one occasion, Moses had said "Must we bring you forth water out of this rock?" and for that God told Moses that he would die without being allowed to enter into the promised land.

      Unlike the Harry Potter stories, the apostles could not make miracles happen. Only God could make the miracles occur. And the miracles only occurred when God was pleased with what was being done and what was taught.

      So when men like Paul and Barnabas went preaching among the uncircumcised Gentiles and God performed miracles as they did so, those who had thought that gentiles had to be circumcised could not argue with the miracles.

      There is a lot more said about this in the New Testament including how the circumcised and the uncircumcised were to behave towards one another, because this subject involved a lot of other practices (as an example: eating pork) besides the circumcision of children but to answer your question: God does not require circumcision today nor does He prohibit it.

      I'm going to take a break for awhile and get to your second question, the Lord willing, later.

    • Stephen, my late wife's childhood had a lot in common with your childhood. Her religion also required the memorization of Cathechismic responses, a liturgy that only discussed certain passages of scripture, and they were also told what they were to believe and were not encouraged to search the scriptures to see whether these things were so. (Acts 17:11)

      Instead of being taught that all men are fallible and only the scriptures are infallible, they were taught that the doctrines which their religious organization taught were the correct doctrine and were discouraged from questioning that doctrine.

      The reason that I wrote the above two paragraphs is to make certain that you will understand that in the rest of this post I am fully aware that much of what I am about to relate to you is new information to you.

      Consider with me the things which these men had seen and heard.

      They had seen all the water in their vessels and all the water in the ponds and rivers turn to blood and they had seen that all the fish in the river died and that the river stank from the blood and the dead fish. Exodus 7:19-24

      Their houses and their ovens and kneading bowls had been invaded by frogs. Then the frogs had abruptly died leaving their corpses everywhere. Exodus 8:3-4, 13-14

      They had been covered in lice. Exodus 8:17

      Then something even more amazing had occurred.

      The whole land of Egypt had been covered in flies except for the secction of land in which they dwelt. Exodus 8:21-23

      Then the cattle, horses, donkeys, camels, oxen, and sheep of the Egyptians all became very sick but again the animals belonging to the Israelites had remained healthy. Exodus 9:3-4

      Then all the Egyptians had broken out in boils and sores but the Israelites had remained healthy. Exodus 9:9

      Then a great hailstorm worse than Egypt had ever had before came upon Egypt but again the Israelites who lived in a section of Egypt known as Goshen had no hail fall on them. Exodus 9:22-26

      Then a locust invasion had destroyed all the crops of the Egyptians. Exodus 10:12-15

      Then a great darkness covered the land of Egypt for three days but the place where the Israelites dwelt was not covered in darkness. Exodus 10:21-23

      Then all the firstborn sons of the Egyptians had died in one night but in the houses of the Israelites who had followed the instructions they had been given, the firstborn remained alive.

      Then a giant pillar of cloud had appeared in the sky which they followed but at night this same object in the sky turned to fire and gave forth light so that they could see where they travelled. Exodus 13:21-22

      Then they had seen the waters of the sea (probably either the gulf of Suez or the guld of Aqaba) part and form a pathway. The cloud which they had been following passed behind them and stood between the Egyptian army which was pursuing them and was a light to Israel and a fog to the Egyptians. The land between the two walls of water allowed the animals and wagons of Israel to cross with no major impediment but God had caused the chariots of the Egyptians to be hindered. Exodus 14:19-25

      Then as soon as all of Israel was on the far side of the sea, they had seen the waters close over the Egyptian army.

      Then another strange thing started happening. Six days a week, an edible substance started appearing on the ground. This substance could be boiled or baked. If they tried to keep it overnight, it became rotten and worms appeared in it. Except on Fridays. On Friday if they kept it overnight till Saturday, it was fresh and edible on Saturday. It also did not appear on the ground on Saturdays.

      Although they had been travelling for years prior to this rebellion, none of their shoes or their clothing had worn out. In fact, the clothing and shoes remained in good condition for forty years.

      Then they had seen water come out of a dry rock. (This was not the time that Moses sinned against God that occurred about 39 years after this event.) Exodus 17:5-6 (Note: Only some of Israel had seen that there was no spring of water in this locale prior to this event. So it may be that some of them were not sure that this was a brand new spring.)

      Then they had seen what God did to Mt. Sinai.

      there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice. (Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.)

      Then they had heard God speak forth the ten commandments. Many people know that God gave Moses a written copy of these commandments written by God on two tablets of stone, but a lot of people seem to be unaware that before God gave Moses those tablets of stone, God first spoke those commandments so that all of Israel could hear Him.

      The people became scared and they begged that Moses would speak to God and that God would not speak to them. Exodus 20:18-20

      Two other places where it is recorded that God on this occasion had spoken to all of Israel are Exodus 20:22 and Hebrews 12:19

      Because I am getting tired, I'm going to only give two more examples, both of these involve the relatives of Moses and Aaron.

      God had decided to make Aaron and his sons priests to God, but before this could take place first Jehovah's tent had to be erected. All of what I'm about to describe took place in less than 2 weeks. In Exodus 39 and 40, it states many times as Jehovah's tent is being set up by Moses: "As Jehovah had commanded Moses."

      Then came the ceremonies by which Aaron and his sons were to be consecrated. This consisted of some things Moses was to do to them on the first day, then they were to remain in the entrance of the courtyard of jehovah's tent for seven days and then there was another set of things that were to be done when those seven days were complete. (For brevity's sake, I'm simply summarizing.)

      Note: There are no chapter breaks in the original text. The chapter breaks are artificial and do not indicate a change in time or circumstance unless the text itself says so.

      Remember what I said about Exodus 39 and 40. This same thing occurs in Leviticus 8 and 9.

      As Moses and Aaron are doing the things that God had commanded them to do, they go into Jehovah's tent, then come out and bless the people.

      Suddenly the glory of Jehovah appears to all the people and a fire comes forth from God and without any act on the part of man consumes the animal and fat which had been laid out on the altar to be a burnt-offering to God.

      When the people saw this happen, they gave a great shout and fell down on their faces

      But then something dreadful happens in the sight of all those who were assembled to watch the consecration of Aaron and his four sons. Two of Aaron's sons without any instructions from their father, from their uncle Moses, or from God, took their censers put incense in them and took fire and lit the incense which thing God had not given any instructions to them to do. In the presence of all who were assembled, fire came out from before Jehovah and killed the nephews of Moses on the spot. Leviticus 9:23-10:2

      The other thing that they had all known about was what had happened to the sister of Moses and Aaron. Moses had married a woman who was not of the children of Abraham. She was a daughter of Cush. Cush was one of the sons of Ham. For some reason, the Bible doesn't say what the reason was, this had upset Miriam and Aaron.

      (BTW, God did not object to "inter-racial" marriages, but He did object to Interreligious marriages. The ancestry of Jesus found in Matthew 1, lists three women who were not descendants of Abraham. Tamar was a daughter of the land in which Judah was living. She was a gentile. Rahab was a gentile of the city of Jericho. Ruth was a gentile of the nation of Moab. These three are the only women mentioned by name in Matthew's account of Jesus' lineage except for his mother, Mary.)

      Because Miriam was upset at Moses, she had questioned his authority.

      God had called all three of these siblings and told them to gather in front of His tent. Then God's glory had descended in a cloud and had told Aaron and Miriam to come forward.

      God's voice had spoken and said:

      Hear now my words: if there be a prophet among you, I Jehovah will make myself known unto him in a vision, I will speak with him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so; he is faithful in all my house: with him will I speak mouth to mouth, even manifestly, and not in dark speeches; and the form of Jehovah shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant, against Moses?

      The cloud of God's glory and then departed and when Aaron looked he saw that his sister, Miriam was completely covered in leprosy.

      Although God had listened to the pleas made to Him and had healed her of her leprosy, He had said to Moses:

      If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be ashamed seven days? let her be shut up without the camp seven days, and after that she shall be brought in again.

      During those seven days, the Israelites had remained where they were camped until she was healed.

      Tiredness has limited the number of examples, I have given. I have not for example, written of the men who had eaten a meal in the presence of the glory of God in Exodus 24.

      The point I am trying to make is that these men who rebelled had plenty of evidence to prove to them that Moses wasn't doing these things, Aaron wasn't doing these things, God was.

      They had also seen how God responded when people became presumptious and acted without his permission.

      If someone tried to climb the White House fence in order to visit the President what would happen to that person?

      Likewise if someone without first receiving permission from God acts presumptiously with relationship to the things of God that is like Lèse-majesté and God will not tolerate presumptiousness.

    • This was just incredible. You have gone above and beyond in revealing that the rebellion was given ample signs and evidence that Moses and Aaron were special to God but that even his special family could suffer the consequences if they took actions without God’s permission. It’s fascinating how truncated my knowledge of Moses’ life is: it’s almost as if I was given the Reader’s Digest version of that time period, if that reference makes sense. Thank you for taking the time to teach this to me. Thoroughly enjoying the history and the insights you share from your studies.

    • You and I are probably covering less than 5% of what is in the Bible. As one example, we haven't even touched on the five excuses which Moses gave when he tried to avoid becoming Israel's leader and going back down into Egypt to bring Israel out.

      What I am giving you isn't even Cliff's Notes level, let alone RD Condensed Books level.

      I plan starting to work on posting the next major time period soon.

    • The sixth time period can be called for memory's sake: "Conquering Canaan" but it actually lasts for several years after the main set of wars ended.

      The promised land had a lot of miniature nations which occupied it. In the north, the king of the city state of Hazor had created a microscopic empire but most of the other nations consisted of little more than a few cities and the farm lands around them, sometimes only one city and its lands.

      God's plan was that all the tribes would fight together for a few years and then each of the tribes would go to their own assigned lands and finish driving the inhabitants out of the land. Well, Phase One pretty much went according as planned, but Phase Two bombed.

      The first phase begins with what can be called the Central campaign. Because the Dead Sea forms a eastern barrier to the southern lands of the promised land, the place where Israel crossed the Jordan was quite a bit farther north than places like Bethlehem are.

      Also the Jordan River is down inside a very deep rift valley. You may know that the Dead Sea is one of the lowest if not the lowest point on dry land. Today, there are Cable Cars similar to those used at Ski Resorts for those tourists who want to go west of Jericho without doing the physical climbing which is required to go west. You may be familiar with the parable of the Good Samaritan. The road on which he found the injured man is intimidatingly steep for those who are not used to hiking.

      When Israel crossed the Jordan and when they laid siege (Joshua 6) to Jericho, they were down inside this rift valley. After defeating Jericho, they then went into the upper elevations and fought against Bethel and AI. Although other things happened at this point, I'm just giving you a summary.

      After this came the wars with the southern nations which is summarized in Joshua 10.

      Then came the war with the miniature empire of the north which is recorded in Joshua 11.

      The statistics for the seven years that Israel fought as one army are listed in Joshua 12.

      Joshua 13-24 is the time period after those seven years until the death of Joshua. This was the time period in which the individual tribes were supposed to finish the job but most of them didn't even try. Additionally, they were getting more and more involved in idolatry.

      Many people are not aware that even during the time of Moses, there were many people among the Israelites who had idols in their possessions. Now many of the Israelites begin to engage more openly in idolatrous practices.

      Near the end of his life, Joshua summons all the people together and tells them that they cannot serve Jehovah and also serve idols because Jehovah won't tolerate it. The people claim that they are going to serve only Jehovah.

      After Joshua and Caleb died, the people break their promise. Because of this, the seventh time period begins.

    • I've decided that I can't explain the seventh time period to you, until I explain the "government" of Israel during the seventh time period to you. The way things were run is so alien to anything that you and I have ever experienced that it is very difficult to understand the events of the seventh time period.

      I plan to write another post after this one to talk about the history of the four centuries of the seventh time period.

      In fact, there were great atrocities committed during this time period. The one who recorded these events in discussing these atrocities wrote "At that time there was no king in Israel every man did what was right in his own eyes."

      Many people mistakenly think of this time period the way that a European theocracy was run. Nothing could be farther from accurate. Libertarians would have loved this time period.

      This is not to say that there was no government of any kind, but rather to say that government which existed was DIFFERENT.

      First of all, there was no permanent central government except the High Priest and he had no enforcers. There was literally no national enforcement of any decisions made by the High Priest.

      Furthermore, the areas in which the High Priest could make decisions were limited to explaining what God's law had said about a subject and dealing with any ambiguities which might arise. But he was more like a modern day preacher than he was like a modern day ruler.

      Second, in most situations involving the need for law enforcement or deciding disputes everything was decided by cousins, brothers, uncle, fathers, grandfathers and such like. But, I need to explain this a little clearer.

      Originally, there were 13 tribes but one of the 13 tribes was different. I'm not going to get into the tribe of Levi because it was a special situation and that would take us down another rabbit hole.

      The twelve tribes other than Levi were each divided into clans based on the number of sons that their ancestor who was the progenitor of the tribe had had when he was alive.

      Then in Exodus 18, these clans were subdivided into groups of one thousand men and their families. Each of these groups were further divided into groups of 100 men and their families. Each of these groups were halved. Each of these halves were divided into groups of ten men and their families. Each of these groups and sub-groups were the local government.

      I kid you not!

      It gets worse!

      There was no standing army. Many of the battles described in the seventh time period did not include even half the tribes. We will get back to that subject later in this post because I want to illustrate to you just how alien things were in Ancient Israel.

      The example of an accidental killing or a killing in which the perpetrator claimed that the killing was accidental.

      Sit down in your seat and buckle your strap because we are about to go on a wild ride.

      Imagine that some men are out in the woods cutting down trees for firewood. Suddenly, the axe head from one of the axes separates from its handle and goes flying off and hits another man and that man dies.

      When that happened the man who had been chopping with the axe that had broken, had to start running. His goal was to reach one of six specific cities. Three of these cities were on the west side of the Jordan River and three were on the east side of the Jordan River and there were lots of mountains. Usually this meant that there was only one of these six cities which was even reasonably close.

      Each of these six cities was one of the 48 cities scattered throughout the 12 tribes in which the Levites lived. The Levites had no tribal lands of their own but let's not go down that rabbit hole.

      In the meantime, the brothers, father, and other close relatives of the slain man appointed one man to be "The Avenger of Blood." (Actually, I'm not exactly sure how one beceme "the avenger of blood." It may be that the person seeking vengeance "chose" himself.) His first task was to chase down the man who was running and kill him.

      In the event that the first man reached one of these cities safely, he had to explain to the main levites in that city what had happened. If they thought that his story was credible, they would keep him in the city until the Avenger of Blood arrived. The Avenger of Blood would then tell what the family of the dead man thought had happened. The Levites would ask a lot of questions. If they decided that they were certain that the killing was not an accident, they would turn the killer over to the Avenger of Blood who would then kill him. If the Levites decided that the case against the killer was not substantiated to be anything more than an accident, they would not turn the killer over to the Avenger.

      BUT, the killer could not go home. He had to stay in the city to which he had fled until the man who was currently the High Priest of all of Israel had died. After that he could go leave the city. As long as he stayed in the city, he was safe. But if he left the city before the current High Priest had died, the Avenger of Blood could legally kill him.

      By the way, believe it or not, this was set up by God as a symbol of how salvation works today — But we'll leave that for a distant future discussion.

      Although that is the end of the example of how local government worked, I have not yet come to the topic of foreign invasion.

      America is a great believer in the separation of powers. We keep our Executive, Legislative, Judicial, and Military separate. Although the Executive Branch oversees the Military yet the Executive cannot use the military in most civilian enforcement.

      When the Bible speaks of Judges, don't think of RBG because the "judges" of ancient Israel had more in common with General MacArthur immediately after the end of WWII than they have with RBG or anyone else on SCOTUS.

      Most of the Judges began their office by attacking a foreign force which was oppressing Israel.

      They were warriors who also decided some disputes but they did not replace the other things which I have previously discussed. The disputes that they settled were not the kind that were brought to the High Priest (who was more like SCOTUS except only in matters related to what the law given at Mt. Sinai said about a subject.) and they also did not get involved in matters which were purely local in nature. The Judges also did not usually have an influence over all the tribes and those tribes who listened to the Judges did so voluntarily. One other thing about the Judges that is unlike America. The Judges usually led a religious revival movement. They usually were involved in getting rid of idolatry and exhorting the people to return back to Jehovah.

    • I’ve come to realize that history was not the focus of Catholic religious studies. The main focus, especially for Sunday mass readings, was on understanding the lesson or meaning from a passage. But as you mentioned, the background provided on the judges and high priests were to gain a better understanding of the seventh time period.

      The disputes that they settled were not the kind that were brought to the High Priest

      What types of disputes did they typically handle, if this is a relevant question.

    • I'm venturing out on a limb. I cannot say with absolute certainty that what I'm about to suggest is accurate.

      In order to explain what I think is the answer to your question about disputes, it is necessary to go back to the origin of the way in which the clans were sub-divided.

      The Exodus took place about the time that Moses was 80. He died at age 120. When he was forty he had left Egypt and had gone to the land of Midian. There he had encountered the seven daughters of the priest of Midian who is called both Jethro and Reuel. Moses had married one of the daughters of Reuel but when God sent Moses to Egypt, he started having marital problems. Exodus 4:24-26

      His wife, Zipporah, apparently left Moses and went back to her father – but her father brought her back to Moses. Exodus 18:2-6

      While Jethro (aka Reuel) was visiting with Moses, he saw how Moses was allowing the Israelites to bring him the most petty disputes so that all of Moses' time was taken up with settling trivial disputes. Jethro suggested that if God approved that Moses set up the system of Thousands, Hundreds, Fifties, and Tens so that the trivial disputes would be handled by the men within these groupings and only major issues would be brought to Moses. Exodus 18:21-23

      It is my guess that these were also the kind of disputes that were brought to the Judges.

      There is a reason that Catholics are not encouraged to read through the entire Bible and study what it says. Many of them would quit being Catholics if they did so.

    • The seventh time period began when God as a result of Israel's idolatry arranged things so that a foreign army invaded the land and turned the Israelites into their vassals.

      This began a cycle that occurred over and over throughout the next four centuries. Most of the time it went like this:

      Israel would sin against God (usually this pertained to idolatry)

      God would arrange things so that they would be invaded and subjugated

      The people would cry out to God for deliverance.

      God would choose a deliverer to rescue them from the oppressor

      The deliverer would defeat the enemy and exhort Israel to return to worhipping only Jehovah

      The deliverer would eventually die and the new generation would sin against God

      and the cycle would begin again.

      This may seem very inefficient to those who think that people should be coerced into doing what is good but God has always given each generation the choice as to whether to obey him or not. And he has sent people over and over to try to persuade those who made the wrong choice to repent and turn back to Him.

      The idea of a being who is all powerful begging people to voluntrily choose to follow Him is hard for some people to understand, but that was God's plan then and it is also His plan now.

      About four hundred years after this began, the Israelites who were alive at that time did not like this situation. They were not interested in whether Israel was godly, they were interested in whether Israel was militarily strong.

      They went to the man who was the current Judge and said to him You are old and your sons do not follow your ways. Make us a king, to judge us, like all the nations.

      This upset the Judge but God spoke to this Judge and said "They have not rejected you, but Me, that I should not reign over them.

      "According to all their works, they have done from the day that I brought them out of Egypt until this day: as they have forsaken me, and served strange gods, so do they also unto you. Now therefore hearken to their voice: but yet testify to them, and foretell them the ways of the king, that shall reign over them."

      And the last Judge told them what the kings would do but the people would not listen.

      And thus the time period known as the Judges came to an end.

      Most of the Judges had brought Israel back to God when Israel strayed but most of the kings drove Israel away from God. Many centuries later. God said to Israel through one of his prophets:

      "I gave you a king in My anger, and took him away in My wrath."

    • Thank you, your assumptions provided greater clarity to the role of the judges: Moses needed to delegate the less important decisions to others in order to better serve God. This also helped me to see the significance and the why of the division of the population into groups and sub-groups: those tasked with making decisions on Moses’s behalf would have limits to how many disputes they could take on. On the other hand, I would think this arrangement would make it harder to unite Israel after Moses since there was no real leaders beyond the tribe and subgroup level.

    • It was very rare that there was a great need to unite all of Israel. In fact, this book emphasizes that the opponents of Israel were often defeated with only a very few Israelites involved.

      On one occasion, one of the deliverers whom God had chosen, (in spite of the fact that this man did not believe he could do the job and asked God to prove repeatedly that this was for real and then the night before the main battle God had to give the man even more evidence that everything was going to be successful) sent messengers to only four of the tribes. The four tribes sent 32, 000 men but God had him dismiss all but 300 of those men. After the invader was routed and fleeing to get back home, a message was sent to one of the tribes that had not been invited to seize the watering places along the route that the enemy was using to try to get home. This tribe was quite successful in capturing many of those who fled including capturing two of the princes of the invaders, but they were at first upset because they had not been invited to the main battle.

      Many years later, another enemy invaded, was again defeated, and the same tribe was again not invited to the war, so they started a civil war because they had not been invited to fight the invaders.

      These events are found in Judges 7-8:1 and Judges 12.