I do hope this account of the first five books of the Bible by RABBI ERIC TOKAJER will bring them alive for you as it did me.
The Bible is a history of the world from beginning to end, and that history is told over and over, one page at a time. Every word written adds more colour to the picture, and every phrase written provides more depth and contrast to help us see the fullness of the story as it is retold. To lay the foundation for what I am saying, let’s simply look at the first words of each of the five books of the Torah.
The book of Genesis begins with the words, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1, TLV). So, Genesis begins by introducing us to GOD.
The book of Exodus begins with the words, “Now these are the names of the sons of Israel who came into Egypt with Jacob, every man with his family” (Ex. 1:1). ” Exodus begins with the word “and,” connecting us to the book of Genesis, which introduced us to GOD. Exodus introduces us to the children of Israel, who are in bondage because they went to Egypt.
The book of Leviticus begins again with the word “and.” “And the LORD called Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying ..” (Lev. 1:1, MEV). The “and” connects Leviticus to Exodus and Genesis as the picture continues to be painted. In Leviticus, GOD calls Moses from inside of the Tent of Meeting while Moses is outside of the Tent of Meeting. We are introduced to a GOD who is inviting His people into His home.
At this point, we have been introduced to GOD. We have been introduced to His people in bondage in Egypt. We have been introduced to GOD calling to man.
The book of Numbers also begins with “and.” “And the LORD spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai in the Tent of Meeting on the first day of the second month in the second year after they went out from the land of Egypt, saying” (Num. 1:1). The “and” in Numbers connects the book of Numbers to the book of Leviticus. In Leviticus, we are introduced to Moses as one who has entered GOD’s home.
So, in Genesis, we are introduced to GOD. In Exodus, we are introduce to GOD’s people in trouble/bondage. In Leviticus, we are introduced to a GOD who invites His people into His home. In Numbers, we are introduced to a GOD who has welcomed His people into His home.
The Book of Deuteronomy begins with the words, “These are the words which Moses spoke to all Israel on this side of the Jordan in the wilderness, in the plain opposite Suph, between Paran and Tophel and laban and Hazeroth and Dizahab” (Deut. 1:1). Deuteronomy, like Genesis, does not begin with the word “and” because it is the conclusion of the story being told in the Torah. What story, you may ask? The same story told with every word and every stroke of paint: the Gospel.
Genesis tells us about GOD. Exodus tells us we are in bondage. Leviticus tells us GOD wants us to dwell with Him. Numbers tell us how we dwell with Him. Deuteronomy tells us to tell others about Genesis through Numbers so they can participate in Deuteronomy themselves. You see, the Bible/Torah isn’t a bunch of commandments and a burden too heavy to carry.
The Bible/Torah is our history, yours and mine. Each word is a stroke of colour that introduces us over and over to GOD. And when we view it from the right perspective, we are impacted by the beauty and intricacy of the Good News in every word and phrase that GOD loves us so much that He wants to spend eternity with us.