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THE HEBREW BIBLE sets forth mainly the history of the Israelites. It relates their origin, their growth, and their decline, from the earliest days until the time when, returning as released captives from a foreign land, they attempted to establish a new commonwealth, which, in its turn, was destroyed by powerful conquerors. But the Bible shows also, how the Israelites were instructed and led by God, were elected to receive from Him eternal truths, and singled out to disseminate them throughout the earth. Therefore, it speaks of God's wisdom, mercy, and power, and points out how He watches and rules over individuals and nations. Thus it has become the Book for all ages and for all mankind. It presents the most beautiful examples of faith, meekness, obedience, and courage. The laws of Moses are more just, more merciful, and better fitted to promote virtue and happiness than those framed by any other nation of antiquity. The poetry which graces the pages of the Bible has lost none of its freshness and beauty in the thousands of years that have rolled by since it was first written; it has still the power of stirring up our deepest feelings; it still affords delight and consolation. And the impassioned works of the prophets, so noble in thought and so fervid in language, remain as imperishable monuments of piety and holy zeal. Thus distinguished by everything that
can exalt the mind, delight the imagination, and direct man through the difficulties of life, we can well understand how the Bible found its way from the East to all climes, near and far; and how, coming as the history of God's chosen people, it was hailed as God's own Book to teach and exhort, to gladden and to comfort.
The Bible consists of four-and-twenty Books which, as may be inferred from the preceding remarks, either contain laws and history, or poetry and prophecy. But they have been generally divided into three great classes :
I. THE LAW (main), which is embodied in the five Books of Moses or the Pentateuch, viz. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy; though the Pentateuch is not exclusively a code of laws, but relates also the early history of mankind and that of the Hebrews down to the death of Moses. II. THE PROPHETS (D'), subdivided into the Earlier
(? ) ( Dying); the former comprising the historical Books of Joshua and Judges, two Books of Samuel and two Books of Kings; and the latter, the three great Prophets, viz. Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, and the twelve minor Prophets forming one book, viz. Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.
III. POETICAL AND OTHER WRITINGS (Dipina), including the Psalms, Proverbs, and Job; the Song of Solomon, Ruth, the Lamentations of Jeremiah, Ecclesiastes, and Esther; Daniel ; Ezra, Nehemiah, and the two Books of Chronicles : of these the first four and the Lamentations are properly poetical, Ecclesiastes is a philosophic work, and Daniel a prophecy, while the rest are historical.
נְבִיאִים) and the Late Prophets (נְבִיאִים רָאשֹׁנִים) Prophets
I. THE EARLY HISTORY OF MANKIND.
1. THE CREATION.
(GENES. I. 1. - II. 3.]
THE BIBLE commences with an account of the origin of the world. That account of the Creation is grand in its simplicity. God produced the world out of nothing by the sole power of His will and command. In the beginning of time, He called into existence the matter out of which heaven and earth were to be formed. But this matter was in confusion and dreary darkness. Within six days He shaped it into a world of order and beauty. On the first day, He said : “Let there be Light'-and there was Light. The darkness was dispelled; the first great step was accomplished. On the second day, He divided the waters, which everywhere covered the original matter, by an expanse which He called Heaven: one part of the water was kept above the firmament, another beneath it, or upon the Earth. On the third day, He gathered the waters of the earth in certain parts and thus formed the Seas, so that, in other parts, the Dry Land became visible, which He at once clothed with verdure bright and beautiful, with every variety of vegetation, of flower and fruit--a world only wanting life to be