Time Line - Historical Overview
TANAKH - OLD TESTAMENT SURVEY
Welcome to the first in a series of talks on a Survey of Old Testament History, as viewed through Jewish eyes. In what follows, we explore the sweep of time from the moment of creation through the Inter-testamental Period, beyond the end of the Hebrew Scriptures or Old Testament. In this narrative, we see the GOD of all creation, He who has created all things in the heavens and on the earth - a Holy God who is mighty and just, but Who is also merciful and forgiving. He is a God who is not far off, but very near, who is acting in history.
B. ADAM AND EVE
"In the beginning, GOD created the heavens and the earth!"
So begins our knowledge and understanding which appears in the Bible - the Hebrew Scriptures or 'TANAKH’, which is shared with Gentile Christians as the Old Testament. We know these claims to be true, as all of the known writers of the Bible have been authenticated by miraculous signs and wonders. Chief among these is Moses, who penned these opening words. A major percentage of these claims have been confirmed by Biblical Archaeology.
GOD created all things in six days, and He saw that they were good! While GOD made the creatures of the earth by His Word, GOD made man out of the dust of the earth and He breathed life into him - GOD’s Spirit or 'Ruach haKodesh.’ In this way, man is unique of all the creatures of the earth, created in the very image of GOD. Man by this way is given a soul!
At this point in the creation narrative in Genesis 1, it says that "GOD saw all that He had made and behold, it was very good." GOD places man and his mate in a garden where there is every good thing to eat - the man called Adam and his mate Eve, made from Adam’s body.
2. Serpent in the Garden
But then a creature enters the story, one unlike any other. He is described in ordinary enough words, but as he interacts with Eve, we recognize his character is supernatural. This is SATAN, formerly an Archangel - appearing like a creature - who by this time has fallen out of heaven.
In Isaiah 14, we read of Satan’s 'I Wills’ -
* to ascend to heaven;
* to raise his throne above the stars (or angels) of GOD;
* to sit on the Mount of the Assembly (or GOD’s throne);
* to make himself like the Most High (namely GOD himself!).
Satan the serpent entices Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit of which GOD has warned they must not eat. Satan implies that GOD has lied. Also, Satan entices -
* because the fruit is delightful to eat; and,
* to do so would give the knowledge of good and evil, TO BE LIKE GOD HIMSELF!
Enticed by the serpent’s words, Eve eats. But only by the suggestion of Eve does Adam also eat, without need of enticement. Sadly for them by their act, immediately they become separated from GOD, hiding from Him in their shame.
In response, GOD promises that the serpent’s head would be crushed (that is, Satan defeated) by the 'seed of the woman’ - that is, by a future descendent of man, a human being. But what is unusual is that his lineage would derive from (be identified by) a WOMAN, not from a MAN which is traditional. What is also unusual is that this one who would accomplish this - to destroy Satan - would have miraculous powers. But first, Satan would wound this deliverer.
Tweet this page address!
3. Sin Spreads Through Creation
Terrible things follow this event in the Garden.
* Between Adam’s two sons, Satan causes jealousy to enter one so that he murders the other. GOD judges the murderer, again out of the earth from which his brother’s blood cries. Satan’s aim is to destroy the 'seed of the woman.’ (Gen.4)
* Lamech announces the 'sin of Lamech,’ in which many might be murdered in revenge against a small insult by one. (Gen.4)
* As men begin to multiply on the face of the earth, fallen angels who with Satan have turned against GOD come down to earth to intermarry with the daughters of men. Satan’s apparent aim is to corrupt the 'seed of the woman’ so that the supernatural deliverer promised by GOD can NEVER APPEAR to crush Satan.
The Bible tells us that out of this evil came the mighty men of old, men of renown. (Gen.6)
* Satan causes sin to spread through the earth.
4. Noah - GOD Plans to Start Over
In response GOD vows to destroy almost all life by means of a great flood which covers the earth, and to start over with Noah and his descendants. (Gen.6-9)
Following the flood, GOD makes a covenant with Noah, in which GOD promises no longer to consider the destruction of all creation in order to start over. He promises this as an ETERNAL IRREVOCABLE covenant, not only to Noah’s descendants but to all creation. As a SIGN of this covenant, he causes the rainbow to appear after each rain.
In his Covenant with Noah, GOD decrees the responsibility of Government, in order to counter the sin of Lamech. "Whoever sheds the blood of man, his blood would be shed." GOD’s reason - that man was made in the image of GOD. In effect, the principle of revenge killing of an entire tribe or clan, was to be replaced by the principle of one for one - an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth - but no more! (Gen.9)
Also, mankind as a whole was being given responsibility to hold accountable anyone who commits murder. In this way, Government was established by GOD.
But Sin continues to spread throughout creation as the great heroes increase. We learn of Nimrod in the land of Cush, described a mighty hunter of the LORD, who later goes forth to Assyria. (The ruins of Nimrod’s castle still stand today close to Mt. Hermon in Israel, not far from Damascus, Syria.) (Gen 10)
At Babel, Satan encourages men through pride to build a great tower by their own hands to reach to heaven, in order to make a name for themselves. GOD chooses to confuse their speech, in order to stop them. (Gen.11)
BY THIS POINT, GOD has sought to stop the spread of sin by bringing the great flood, intending to begin again through Noah’s descendants. But sin continues to spread.
Meanwhile, GOD has ALREADY SAID by what means Satan would be stopped, and that man and all creation would be restored through a miraculous deliverer, the 'seed of a woman’ - someone in human flesh born of a woman.
click on graphic to enlarge
Now Abram, who had formerly lived in Ur of the Chaldees with his father and two brothers, was present at his brother Haran’s death. Then he traveled with his father, his wife Sarai, his remaining brother, and his dead brother’s son Lot, on the way to Canaan, going as far as Haran. While in Haran, Abram’s father died.
1. Land of the Chaldees
We must understand at this point that in Ur of the Chaldees and in Haran, they worshipped pagan gods of heaven, in particular the Sumerian moon god.
So it should be no surprise to us that, without further explanation provided us in the Hebrew Scriptures, GOD calls Abram (in Genesis 12) to LEAVE his country, his relatives, and his father’s house, to go to a land which Abram had not seen. There GOD promised to make of him a great nation, that GOD would bless Abram and make his name great.
2. GOD’s Promise to Abraham
GOD called to Abram in that far-off land, and presented a CONDITIONAL ETERNAL covenant.
"If you will leave the land and family of your father and come to the land which I will show you, then I will bless you."
Abram meets the condition as he travels to Canaan and we learn more about the promise: A great name, many descendants, and possession of the land. AND something more!
"And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed," (Gen.12:3)
a HINT of the work of the miraculous deliverer Who would come.
Later, when Abram has entered Canaan as far as Shechem, GOD added that He would give the land to Abram’s descendants. This is the first brief statement of GOD’s Covenant with Abram, a statement which is later expanded and further refined.
GOD later says that Abram would have many descendants, "as the dust of the earth." Abram was to look from where he stood - to the North, South, East and West, that he should walk about the land through its length and breadth. (Gen 13) GOD more precisely defines all this land which would belong to Abram and his descendants (Gen.15)
click on graphic to enlarge
3. Abraham’s Heir
But Abram and his wife Sarai were without children, and beyond the normal age to have children. Would one born in Abram’s house be his heir, namely Eliezer of Damascus his servant, Abram asked? GOD said that NO, one who would come forth from Abram’s own body would be the heir. (Gen.15)
It is at this time that GOD warns Abram that there would come a time that his descendants would be strangers in a land not theirs, that they would be oppressed and enslaved there for 400 years, that afterward they would return, but after Abram dies. (GOD was speaking of the Jewish captivity in Egypt.) (Gen.15)
Would the child Ishmael, Abram continued - born by Abram out of Sarai’s handmaid Hagar - be his heir? NO, though Ishmael would be fruitful and become the father of twelve princes, GOD said that Sarai, Abram’s wife, would bear him a son Isaac, that GOD’s everlasting covenant would be established with Isaac and his descendants. (Gen.17)
4. Three at the Oaks of Mamre
At an unusual time of GOD’s own choosing, He set His plan in motion concerning the heir of Abram (by now renamed Abraham).
One hot summer day, while Abraham sat at the door of his tent by the oaks of Mamre, suddenly there appeared THREE MEN standing opposite him. Immediately he arose and ran to meet them. Bowing low to the ground, he begged them to remain awhile, to rest under the tree, to have food and drink brought to them to be refreshed - to which they agreed. When the food was brought to them, Abram stood nearby under the tree as they ate.
When they asked where was Sarai (by now renamed Sarah), Abraham answered, "In the tent."
And GOD, who was among the strangers, said that at this same time next year when He would return, Sarah at that time would have a SON.
Understand, Abraham at that time was 99 years of age, and Sarah was about 90 years of age. When Sarah laughed at the shear impossibility of bearing children at that age, GOD responded, "Is anything too difficult for the LORD?"
(True to GOD’s promise, in about a year’s time, the son Isaac was born to Abraham and Sarah.)
THE OCCASION for this meeting, at which GOD announced Isaac’s birth, as we have said, was most unusual indeed. As the angels arose and departed toward Sodom, the LORD turned back to speak to Abraham, to confide in him what GOD was about to do in Sodom and Gomorrah, since Abraham would surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the world would be blessed. (Gen.18)
But when GOD explained the sin of that place and His intent to destroy it, Abraham bargained with GOD, seeking to preserve the righteous men who might still be left there. (His nephew Lot was one of these.)
After much bargaining, Abraham said, "Oh, may the LORD not be angry, and I shall speak only this once. Suppose TEN are found there (who are righteous)?" And the LORD replied, "I will not destroy it on account of the ten."
Out of this narrative has developed the Jewish tradition of the ten righteous men, the Jewish 'MINYAN.’ There must be ten righteous men present to conduct any important ceremony, at a funeral and at tombstone unveilings in order to recite the mourner’s prayer or 'Kaddish,’ at a ceremony to change a first name, for the naming of a girl.
In the Hebrew Scripture, the young man Gideon took ten men of the servants when he destroyed his father’s altar to Ba’al (Judges 6). In the Book of Ruth, Boaz took ten men of the elders at the city gate to negotiate as kinsman-redeemer for the land of Naomi and for the hand of Ruth (Ruth 4).
5. Abraham Tested at Moriah
Following the birth of Isaac, the promised heir of Abraham, there was one more important step in GOD’s plan.
It came about, after the passage of time that GOD tested Abraham saying, "Take now your son, your only son whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering," that is, as a sacrifice, "on one of the mountains which I will show you." The mountain, of course, is in Jerusalem where the Temple Mount built by Solomon now stands. GOD was requiring Abraham to prepare for sacrifice his only son, his heir through which all his descendants would come.
Abraham did not question, but prepared to depart with his donkey, two young men, and Isaac his son. At the mountain, after the wood was split for the sacrifice, Isaac - by that time certainly a young, strong teenager - carried the wood and went with his father up the mountain.
Isaac did not protest, but only asked, since there was the wood and the fire, where was the lamb for the sacrifice, to which Abraham answered, "GOD will Himself provide!"
Abraham built the altar on the mountain, arranged the wood, and bound his son on top of the wood. But when Abraham was about to strike with the knife to slay his son, GOD called out to stop him, "Do nothing to harm the lad, for now I know that you fear GOD, since you have not withheld your son, your only son." Then GOD provided the sacrifice, a ram caught in a nearby thicket by his horns.
GOD said, "by Myself I have sworn, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, indeed I will bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is on the seashore. And in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice." (Gen.22)
It is said elsewhere in scripture that Abraham believed through faith, and GOD accounted it to him as righteousness.
6. Purchase of the Burial Cave
Before leaving the account of Abraham, we take brief note of an important financial transaction.
When Sarah his wife died, Abraham located a cave in a field at Kiriath-Arba, namely Hebron, in which to bury his wife. After negotiating with the elders, Abraham paid four hundred shekels of silver for the land and the cave of Machpelah, for which he received a deed. (Gen.23) Since that time, Abraham was also buried there, with Isaac, Jacob, and most of Jacob’s sons.
This is the FIRST recorded transaction in the Hebrew Scriptures of the purchase of land in Canaan by the Jewish people.
FINALLY, we call attention to GOD’s closing words to Abraham following the incident on the mountain at Moriah, words which reaffirm the prophecy which appears at the start of Gen 12.
"And in YOUR SEED all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice."
GOD was announcing that the 'seed of the woman,’ the miraculous deliverer who would crush the head of the serpent, would be a DESCENDANT OF ABRAHAM!
We turn now to Isaac’s son JACOB, about whom much could be spoken.
1. Jacob Strives with Esau
There was Jacob’s beginning - born striving it seemed with his brother Esau even in the womb - and the prophecy about Jacob:
" And the LORD said to her, 'Two nations are in your womb; And two peoples shall be separated from your body; And one people shall be stronger than the other; And the older shall serve the younger.’" (Gen.25:23)
Jacob (the younger) obtained the inheritance and the blessing (Gen 27), including the words:
"Cursed be those who curse you, And blessed be those who bless you." (Gen 27:29)
2. Jacob Serves Laban
When Esau promises to KILL Jacob, Jacob flees to his uncle Laban in Haran, seeking a wife (Gen.27:41-28:5). At Haran, Jacob agrees to serve Laban. (Gen.29:1-20) During his service, as Laban repeatedly tricks Jacob, Jacob agrees to take the speckled and spotted lambs - and prospers! Gen.30:32-43)
When Laban’s sons become jealous and angry, Jacob flees from Laban taking his two wives Rachel and Leah - and Laban’s household gods (Gen.31:1-25) Laban pursues Jacob and searches for his idols. Finally, Jacob exposes Laban’s deceit and acknowledges GOD’s providence. (Gen.31:38-42)
Laban departs, but now Esau pursues Jacob with 400 MEN! (Gen.32-33)
3. Jacob Strives with Angel of GOD
While waiting for Esau, Jacob strives all night with the Angel of GOD at Peniel, but Jacob is not defeated. Instead of a blessing, the Angel announces that Jacob’s name is changed to Israel. (Gen.32:22-32)
After reconciliation with Esau, Jacob returns to Shechem. He purchases land from Hamor, father of Shechem, for 100 pieces of money (Gen.33:18-20) This is the second recorded transaction in the Hebrew Scriptures of the purchase of land in Canaan by the Jewish People.
But the Scriptures record that the tribe of Jacob at this point still possessed foreign gods. (Gen.35:2-4)
4. Covenant at Bethel
We read the full wording of GOD’s covenant with Jacob, given by GOD at Bethel. As part of that covenant, Jacob’s renaming to Israel is confirmed -
"God also said to him, 'I am God Almighty; Be fruitful and multiply; A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, And kings shall come forth from you.
'And the land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac, I will give it to you, And I will give the land to your descendants after you." (Gen 35:11-12)
E. SINFUL SONS OF JACOB
At this point in Jacob’s story, Israel is only a tribe - numbering 70 total (Gen.46:27) by the time of Jacob’s move to Egypt. At this point, Jacob has 12 sons and one daughter: born in this order:
Twelve sons and also Dinah.
(Gen.29:31-30:25) (Gen.35:18) (Gen.34:1)
BUT NOW there is a distinct change in the character of the story as the background turns dark and foreboding.
There are four important events which occur, considered sins by GOD, which taken together we claim help to explain why it is that GOD would no longer allow Israel to remain in the land of milk and honey, in Canaan, but instead to move with all their belongings to the firepot of Egypt! (On this point, we share the view of Prof. Arnold Fruchtenbaum.) We will follow the chronology in the Hebrew Scriptures as we examine each of these events.
1. Dinah’s Night Out
In the first event, Dinah, the only named daughter of Jacob, went out to visit the daughters of Canaan. When Shechem saw her, he desired her and went into her by force. Jacob’s sons on hearing of this were angry, for such a thing ought NOT to be done!
When Shechem approached Jacob and Dinah’s brothers asking for her in marriage, her brothers conceived a plot. When Shechem asked that his tribe be allowed to intermarry with the daughters of Jacob, her brother replied that this could only happen if every male of Shechem’s tribe be circumcised, like the Hebrews, an arrangement to which Shechem agreed.
After every male of Shechem’s tribe was circumcised, on the third day when they were in pain, Simeon and Levi, Jacob’s 2nd and 3rd sons, came upon the village by surprise and murdered every male. They captured and looted all their wealth and their livestock and their little ones and their wives.
On learning what his two sons had done, Jacob complained that by this act, they had made all of Jacob’s tribe odious among the Canaanites, that they would gather together and destroy Jacob’s tribe. But Jacob did nothing to punish his sons. (Gen.34)
2. Joseph Sold as Slave
Joseph became Jacob’s favorite son. When Joseph would describe his dreams in which his brothers, mother and father would all bow down to him, Joseph’s brothers became very jealous.
This was how the second event occurred. One day, when Joseph went to the fields to see how his brothers and the flock were doing, the brothers saw him coming at a distance and at that moment vowed to kill him. They stripped Joseph of his beautiful cloak, threw him in a pit and smeared blood on the cloak to show his father, claiming he was killed by a wild beast. But about Joseph, when a caravan of traders passed by on their way to Egypt, instead of killing him they sold him as a slave. (Gen.37)
(The price they were paid is worthy of note - 20 pieces of silver!)
We will return to Joseph shortly!
3. Judah and the Levirate Duty
The third event is a bit more complicated to explain. But nevertheless this one has a favorable and important outcome.
Judah, the 4th son of Jacob, went traveling in the land of Canaan to visit a certain Adulamite. There he saw the daughter of a Canaanite and went into her.
She conceived and bore a son, Er. She conceived again and bore another son, Onan, She conceived a 3rd time and bore still another son, Shelah.
Judah took a wife for Er his first-born, whose name was Tamar, a Canaanite. But Er was evil in the LORD’s sight, so GOD struck him down.
Then Judah said to Onan his second-born, to go into his dead brother’s wife and perform his Levirate duty as brother-in-law.
For women had no right to property, so that all that belonged to her dead husband would be lost unless she had a son by his name. It was already the custom in Jacob’s time - later codified in the Mosaic Law - that the husband’s brother must go into her that she have a son within the family, that the son would have the name of his mother’s dead husband, that his name would still carry on. (Deut.25:5-10)
But Onan sought to enjoy the act without allowing conception, so GOD struck Onan down also.
However, Judah’s third son Shelah was still too young, so Judah advised his son’s wife Tamar, to remain a widow until Shelah grows up. But when Shelah grew up, she was not given to him as promised.
Seeing this, Tamar one day, after Judah’s wife had died, posed as a temple prostitute and seduced Judah, but he did not recognize his dead son’s wife. In return, she asked for a pledge from Judah, to which he gave his seal and cord. When Judah later came with a gift in order to redeem his pledge, the harlot had gone.
When it became apparent that the widow Tamar had conceived and would soon give birth, Judah accused her and ordered her burned. Then Tamar produced the ring and cord. Judah recognized his own pledge and responded, "She is more righteous than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah." (Gen.38:1-26)
The outcome of this third event has SPECIAL SIGNIFICANCE. For you see, rather than one conceived by this union, there were two. One of these sons was named Zerah, but the other named Perez. You see, this same Perez would become the ancestor of King David! (We will speak more of this significance shortly.)
4. Sin with Father’s Concubine
In the fourth event, one time while Jacob was traveling in the land, Jacob’s 1st son Reuben went in to Jacob’s concubine Bilhah, and Jacob heard of it.
FOUR EVENTS, by which the four oldest sons of Jacob sinned importantly:
And in the attempt to murder their brother Joseph, most of the sons took part (though few are named in the account).
5. Reason for Refuge in Egypt
Understand that in Genesis 3, following the sin by Adam and Eve in the Garden, GOD prophesied that the head of the serpent (Satan) would be crushed by the "seed of the woman," a miraculous deliverer. In Genesis 12, we learn in the Covenant of Abraham that the deliverer would be one of Abraham’s descendants. That promise was passed on in turn to Isaac and Jacob, so that a descendant of ONE OF JACOB’S SONS would be the deliverer.
Therefore, Satan’s intent was to corrupt the Holy Seed, so that the prophecy of Satan’s defeat could never be fulfilled.
We learn later concerning WHICH son’s descendant would be that deliverer. After Joseph had received power in Egypt, and the promised famine in all the land had caused Jacob with his entire tribe to find refuge in Egypt, we note Jacob’s final blessing before his death, announced to his sons -
"The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes. And to Him shall be the obedience of the peoples." (Gen 49:10)
The promise of a scepter denotes KINGSHIP. That is, the kingship which would come to Judah’s descendant would be everlasting. The meaning of "everlasting kingship" is unclear.
* Whether once established, there would be a king on the throne of Judah forever; or,
* Whether a king would come of the line of Judah who would never die. (CORRECT!)
The precise meaning of the name "Shiloh" is disputed by Biblical scholars, though it certainly refers to the miraculous deliverer. But some of us take the meaning from modern Hebrew, namely -
"His!" or "He to whom it belongs!"
Jacob’s blessing, then, means that the miraculous deliverer promised by GOD in Genesis 3, would be a DESCENDANT OF JUDAH. Indeed, we have seen that one of Judah’s two sons by Tamar was Perez, an ancestor of King David.
Later Scripture passages show that this miraculous deliverer would be a DESCENDANT OF DAVID, a so-called "Son of David."
THIS, THEN, was the danger posed by the four incidents. Satan sought by whatever means the corruption of the "seed of the woman," a descendant of one of Jacob’s 12 sons. Now that Jacob’s 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th sons had sinned, and potentially 10 of the 12 by the attempt to murder Joseph (Benjamin was apparently too young to take part), GOD chose another course to protect the Holy Seed.
After the first event (rape of Dinah), GOD already set in motion the process to lead to the rescue of the tribe of Jacob to a protected place in Egypt, away from Canaan. In so doing, He turned the sinful intent of the brothers to bring about good.
And in the third event (with Judah), when the Holy Seed itself was threatened with non-existence, GOD caused through Tamar, who was not of Jewish descent, for good to occur.
GOD had a plan from the beginning for Israel’s rescue and the rescue of the Holy Seed, even before the first event. For GOD warned Abraham that his descendants would have to spend many years in Egypt, in bondage.
This is a portion of a more extensive historical overview prepared by Mr. Charles Quigley. Select the more inclusive "sessions" for the TANAKH SURVEY (from the menu on the left) to view the overview in its entirety. This historical overview was originally created for oral presentations that cover Israel's history from its origin to a period leading to the 'Current Era' (CE). See note below on use of this presentation material.
www.WindowView.org © 2003
you wish to visit the WindowView.org home page click
If you found this page but have not located the associated time line, then we highly recommend that you visit the main
Text of the Presentation given here is
Available in Hard Copy (click on Icon below!)
Time spent looking ... through a window on life and choice ... brings the opportunity to see in a new light. The offer for you to Step Up To Life is presented on many of the web pages at WindowView. Without further explanation we offer you the steps here ... knowing that depending on what you have seen or may yet explore in the window ... these steps will be the most important of your life ...