It contains detailed laws regulating the offering of sacrifices, the duties of priests, the liturgical calendar, the sexual, dietary, and economic practices of the Israelites, and many other issues of ritual and moral holiness. Set at Mount Sinai in the time before the wilderness wanderings, Leviticus offers the children of Israel instructions on how to live as a people set apart by God, a people called to “be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy” (19:2).
The book of numbers is largely Narrative History as far as its genre. It was written by Moses about 1450-1410 B.C. Key personalities include Moses, Aaron, Miriam, Joshua, Caleb, Eleazar, Korah, and Balaam.
The purpose of the book of Numbers is to tell about how Israel prepared to enter the promise land, but sinned and was punished. It describes Moses taking two population censuses, hence the name Numbers.
Deuteronomy is couched in the form of a farewell discourse delivered by Moses on the plains of Moab (1:1-5). It opens with a review of how God had brought the people to the verge of the Jordan (1:1-4:43). In a second discourse, Moses explains the significance of the covenant (chapters 5-11) and introduces the Deuteronomic Law Code (chapters 12-26), the heart of the book. This is followed by instructions for the renewal of the covenant (chapter 27), a list of blessings and curses (chapter 28), and a final exhortation to observe the covenant (chapters 29-30). The Song of Moses (chapters 31-32), his final blessing of Israel (chapter 33), and the account of his death on Mt. Nebo (chapter 34) bring the book to a close.
Exodus begins with a depiction of Israel’s servitude in Egypt and God’s selection of Moses to move Israel out of that servitude. Pharaoh contests this intention of God, and God responds by sending plagues on Egypt that culminate with the death of the firstborn and deliverance at the sea. Israel prepares for this deliverance by founding the Passover and responds with triumphant singing after the deliverance.
Israel journeys to Sinai, murmuring along the way. At Sinai, Israel receives the Ten Commandments and the covenant relationship is established. While Moses is receiving additional instructions from God on Sinai-notably the designs for the tabernacle-Israel rebels by building the golden calf. Moses intercedes successfully for Israel, and God relents and recommits to the covenant. Israel then builds the tabernacle as instructed.
Genesis is a book about beginnings.
It moves from the morning of the world to the ordering of families and nations to the birthing of the fathers and mothers of Israel. The ancestral stories begin with Abraham and Sarah and continue with Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Leah/Rachel, and the sons of Jacob, focusing on Joseph.
While God was there “in the beginning,” Genesis also testifies to the beginnings of God’s activity in the world. It is a new day for God, too. And, given the divine commitment to the creation, God will never be the same again.