The Old Testament Hebrew Bible raises questions of interpretation for a Christian. To what extent am I, as a Christian, projecting Christian views and values on the children of Israel, the people of Israel, the Israelites? There are various terms that translators have used to describe the slowing forming group of Yahweh believers over three thousand years ago. Yahweh was their God and intervened in their lives. They had a special relationship or covenant with him. The Hebrew sacred writings were incorporated into Christianity because all the early Christians were Jewish. However, the writings were not originally meant for Christians, but for the Hebrew people. Can I really fully understand the Semitic thought process of three thousand years ago? Will I be able to appreciate how important the promised land of Israel was to Jewish people? What role did the exodus from Egypt, the Temple, the exile, and the various codes play in their lives? I can try, but I doubt if I will be fully successful.
The Writings, as they were referred to in the New Testament, were the poetic or wisdom books. They include the Psalms, some written by David, but mostly ranging from the 10th–4th century BCE, and the Proverbs, ascribed to Solomon, ranging from the 9th century–3rd century BCE, as well as the Book of Job, from the 6th century BCE. Both the Psalms and Proverbs were written over a period of time, but they each have an author attributed to them, King David to the Psalms, and King Solomon to the Proverbs. Job was not an Israelite, but his story was instructive to the Israelites.
The former prophets are the same as the so-called Christian Old Testament historical works. These works tell us of the establishment of the Israelites and the troubles that they faced. However, they introduced a number of prophets that received oracles from God, including Elias, Elijah, Samuel, and Nathan. The former prophets include the works of Joshua, from the 8th-7th century BCE and Judges, from the 7th-6th century BCE. They also include the works of Samuel or 1 Samuel and. 2 Samuel, as well as Kings, or 1 Kings and 2 Kings. all coming from the 7th-6th century BCE. These writings indicate what happened to the Israelites as they struggled in the new promised land. They gradually went from a few judges to a full-blown kingdom, with many prophets with their divine oracles along the way.
The two major parts of the Christian Bible are the Old Testament and the New Testament. Does this give a false impression that we have two different Bibles? The New Testament books make references to the Old Testament works. There was no New Testament canon until the second century, since consensus on its contents did not occur until the late fourth century. The Old Testament or Hebrew Bible canon has an even more complicated history. Often, people are surprised to learn that two-thirds of what we call the Christian Bible actually existed before the time of Christ, since it describes the words and actions of God’s interaction with his promised chosen people, the Israelites, the Hebrews, or the Jews.
“‘You have spoken
Yet you say.
‘How have we spoken
Yahweh, via Malachi, told the Israelites that they had spoken harsh words against him. However, the Israelites responded that they were not aware that they had spoken such things against Yahweh
“‘Then all nations
Will count you happy!
You will be
A land of delight!’
Says Yahweh of hosts.”
Yahweh, via Malachi, said that all the countries of the world would consider the Israelites happy, because their land would be so delightful.
“‘Ever since the days of your ancestors,
You have turned aside
From my statutes.
You have not kept them.
Return to me!
Then I will return to you.’
Says Yahweh of hosts.
But you say.
‘How shall we return?’”
Yahweh, via Malachi, told the Israelites that they were like their ancestors, since they had not kept his statutes. They needed to return to Yahweh. However, they responded that they did not know how to return to Yahweh.