The Law, the Torah, or the Pentateuch, consisted of first five books that were developed over a number of years, but firmly established around 400 BCE. The five books of the Pentateuch include Genesis, a 10th-5th century BCE writing about the pre-existence of the Israelites, and the particular stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. The Exodus, finished around 450 BCE, recalls the story of Moses and how he led the Israelites out of Egypt for years in the desert. Leviticus and Numbers, worked on between 550-400 BCE, lay out the particular codes, rules and regulations for the Israelites, as well the numbers of people that were involved in the exodus from Egypt. Deuteronomy, developed in the 7th-6th century BCE, told the story of Moses in the wilderness with emphasis on the laws of the heart. This Law or Torah explained the early or pre-history of the Israelites before they entered the promised land. These books also contained all the commands, statutes, or rules for the Israelites after they entered the promised land. All further Jewish developments were based on the Torah or the Law.
The works of the Lord (Sir 42:15-42:17)
“I will now call to mind
The works of the Lord.
I will declare
What I have seen.
By the word of the Lord,
His works are made.
All his creatures
Do his will.
The sun looks down
With its light.
The work of the Lord
Is full of his glory.
The Lord has not empowered
Even his holy ones
All his marvelous works.
That the universe
May stand firm
In his glory.”
Sirach now recalls the works of the Lord in nature. He was speaking about what he had seen. The works of the Lord were made by his word. This is in slight contradiction with the creative role of wisdom. Here it is the word of God that creates the world. All these creative things do the will of the Lord. Thus the sun lights up and glorifies the world. Thus you see the ancient inclination to make the sun a god. Just like today, we think that all things look so beautiful on a gorgeous sunny day. No one, not even the holy angels, can tell all about the marvelous works that the Almighty Lord has done. The universe stands as an example of his glory.
Introductory hymn to Yahweh (Ps 105:1-105:5)
“O give thanks to Yahweh!
Call on his name!
Make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him!
Sing praises to him!
Tell of all his wonderful works!
Glory in his holy name!
Let the hearts of those who seek Yahweh rejoice!
Seek his strength!
Seek his presence continually!
Remember the wonderful works he has done!
Remember his miracles!
Remember the judgments he has uttered!”
Psalm 105 is usually combined with Psalm 106 to be recited at some major feast, since it recalls all the great events in the life of the Israelites. However this long psalm has no introductory title. The first section is a hymn to Yahweh. Some of the texts have an Alleluia to start this hymn. We give thanks to Yahweh. We call on his name. We tell everybody about him. We sing praises to him. We glory in his holy name. Those who seek Yahweh can rejoice. We seek his strength and his presence continually. We remember his wonderful works, his miracles, and his judgments.
Yahweh and David (Ps 89:3-89:4)
‘I have made a covenant with my chosen one.
I have sworn to my servant David.
‘I will establish your descendants forever.
I will build your throne for all generations.’”
This psalmist recalls the words of Yahweh. He had made a covenant with David. Notice that the covenant is not longer with Abraham or Moses. David was going to have descendants forever so that his throne could continue into the future. This section ends with the musical interlude meditative pause of Selah.
The power of God in Egypt (Ps 78:42-78:51)
“They did not keep in mind his power.
They did not remember
The day when he redeemed them from their foe.
He displayed his signs in Egypt.
He displayed his miracles in the fields of Zoan.
He turned their rivers to blood.
They could not drink of their streams.
He sent swarms of flies among them.
The flies devoured them.
He sent frogs among them,
The frogs destroyed them.
He gave their crops to the caterpillar.
He gave the fruit of their labor to the locust.
He destroyed their vines with hail.
He destroyed their sycamores with frost.
He gave over their cattle to the hail.
He gave their flocks to thunderbolts.
He let loose on them his fierce anger.
He let loose on them his wrath.
He let loose on them his indignation.
He let loose on them his distress.
He let loose a company of destroying angels.
He made a path for his anger.
He did not spare them from death.
He gave their lives over to the plague.
He struck all the first-born in Egypt.
He stuck the first issue of their strength
In the tents of Ham.”
Here the psalmist recalls the powerful acts recorded in Exodus, chapters 7-12, about the great plagues in Egypt. He wanted to recall the great events that God did in Egypt for them against their foes. He lists the various signs or miracles that took place in the Egyptian fields of Zoan or Ramses in order to save them and bring them out of Egypt. First he turned all their streams to blood. Then he let loose swarms of flies, frogs, caterpillars, and locusts that destroyed their crops. Then he let loose with hail and thunder that destroyed their cattle and herds. He then let loose the destroying angels that brought death. They struck down all the first born people and animals that were living in Ham, another word for Egypt based on Genesis. Clearly the plagues of Egypt were part of Israelite folklore built into the Israelite psyche.