Pentateuch consists of the first five Books of the Bible. The Pentateuch is the same as what many people mean when they refer to the Torah, which is the first five books of the Tanakh. These books are Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. In both Jewish and Christian tradition, Moses is considered the author of most of the Pentateuch and the belief is that God dictated the books to Moses (Fairfield, N.p.). However scholars generally agree that the books actually reflect compilations of earlier writings by various different authors. Taken together, the five books introduce the reader to God. They explain that God is the creator of the universe and everything in it, how the world has imperfections despite being a divine creation, God's unique relationship with man, and the beginnings of the special relationship between God and his chosen people (Fairfield, N.p.).
The Pentateuch begins with Genesis. Genesis is not only the beginning of the Bible; it also describes the beginning of the world and the beginning of humankind. Genesis begins with darkness and God creating light from the darkness. God spends six days creating the universe and the world, culminating with the creation of humans in his image on the last day. He makes Adam from dust and Eve from Adam's rib. Adam and Eve live in the Garden of Eden, which also holds the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The only proscription that God gives Adam and Eve is that they are not to eat fruit from that tree. However, a serpent convinces Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. Adam eats the fruit as well, and the two feel shame. God curses both of them, banishing them from Eden. Adam and Eve have two children, Cain and Abel. Cain becomes jealous of his brother, Abel, and kills him. God exiles Cain. Adam and Even have another son, Seth. Both Seth and Cain have families, though Genesis does not describe where they find wives.
As the human population grows, God becomes increasingly upset with humans. He decides that he is going to wipe them from the face of the earth with a great flood. However, he thinks that one man, Noah, deserves saying. God enters into a covenant with Noah and his family, and instructs Noah to build an ark that is large enough to hold Noah's family along with two of every living animal. Noah builds the ark and God sends 40 days of rain, which covers the earth with water for more than a year. When Noah and his family emerge, the earth is renewed. God gives Noah and his family some basic rules, including the first prohibition against murder, and promises not to destroy the earth again. Noah gets drunk one night and his youngest son, Ham, discovers him naked. Instead of covering him, Ham tells his brothers about his father. This behavior enrages Noah, who curses Canaan, Ham's youngest son, in retaliation.
The theme of corruption is repeated again as generations pass in Genesis. In Babylon, humans build a tower to try to reach the heavens. God keeps his promise not to destroy the earth, but he does destroy the tower. He then scatters people across the earth. He also strips them of their common language. In this way, God establishes the separate nations of mankind, setting the stage for his later selection of a chosen people.
God selects Abram, a descendant of Noah through Noah's son Shem, to enter into a covenant. He promises to make Abram's descendants into a great nation. In return, God asks Abram to leave his family home and move to Canaan with his wife, Sarai. Abram becomes both a successful businessman and a successful soldier. However, Abram's life is not complete; Sarai is unable to conceive. Sarai sends her slave, Hagar, to have sex with Abram and Sarai conceives a child. Sarai grows angry and Hagar flees in fear, but God convinces her to return to Abram. Hagar gives birth to Abram's first son, Ishmael. God adds an additional requirement, circumcision, to the covenant, and promises Abram that Sarai will conceive. He also renames the couple as Abraham and Sarah. God promises that Sarah, who is 90, will have a child. Abraham laughs at the promise, but Sarah eventually conceives and gives birth to his son, Isaac. Now that she has given him a son, Sarah asks Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away from them, and Abraham complies. God also tests Abraham by telling him that he must sacrifice Isaac. Abraham prepares to do so, impressing God with his faith, but an angel stops him at the last moment. Sarah dies, and Abraham finds Rebekeh, a non-Canaanite woman from his own nation, to marry Isaac.
God tells Rebekah that she will have two children, and that each child will represent two nations, but that one will be stronger than the other. Her twin sons, Esau, and Jacob seem to fulfill that promise, as they are opposites. Esau, the elder, would inherit from Isaac, but gives up his birthright to Jacob in exchange for a bowl of soup. Rebekah then helps Jacob deceive an elderly, blind Isaac into giving Jacob a blessing meant for Esau. Esau is enraged, and Jacob runs away to Mesopotamia to live with his uncle, Laban. God enters into a covenant with Jacob. Jacob asks to marry his cousin, Rachel. Laban deceives Jacob, and gets him to marry Leah, Rachel's older sister, before marrying Rachel. The two sisters vie for Jacob's affection. Jacob has 12 children between Rachel, Leah, and their maids. Jacob returns to Canaan with his family. God renames Jacob Israel. When Jacob and Esau reunite, Esau is loving towards his brother and the family is peaceful. However, Jacob's daughter, Dinah, is raped by a man from Shechem, where they have settled. Jacob agrees to allow the man to marry Dinah, as long as the man and his male family members agree to be circumcised, in accordance with the covenant with God. While the men heal, Jacob and his sons attack and kill all of the Shechemite males.
The theme of sibling rivalry repeats again, with Jacob's sons growing jealous of their youngest brother, Joseph, and contriving to have him sold into slavery, telling Jacob that he is dead. Joseph ends up a slave in Egypt, where he gains renown as a dream interpreter, and eventually a politician. Famine hits the entire land, and Joseph's brothers travel to Egypt for food. The brothers reconcile, and Jacob moves his family to Egypt. Jacob tells Joseph that the covenant will pass through Joseph and his sons.
The next book in the Bible, Exodus, begins many generations after the deaths of Jacob and Joseph. The Egyptian authorities have grown wary of the Israelites and have begun to enslave them and also ordered the death of all Hebrew boys. One boy's mother resists, and sets her son adrift on the Nile River in a papyrus basket. Pharaoh's daughter discovers the boy, whom she names Moses. While Moses grows up in Pharaoh's family, he is aware that he is a Hebrew, and intervenes one day to stop the beating of an Israelite worker, killing the Egyptian who is beating him. Fearing retribution, Moses flees and becomes a shepherd. God appears to Moses in a burning bush, telling him that the Israelites need to return to Canaan, and sending Moses to Egypt to accomplish this. Moses is initially reticent, but does return with his brother Aaron to Egypt, demanding the release of the enslaved Hebrew people. Pharaoh refuses and God sends ten plagues to Egypt, culminating with the death of all firstborn males in Egypt. However, God instructs the Hebrews to pain their door posts in the blood of a lamb, and the angel of death will pass over them. Pharaoh frees the Israelites and they flee Egypt. Moses parts the Red Sea for them, performing a miracle. They arrive at Mount Sinai. Moses ascends the mountain, and God gives him the Ten Commandments, which are a new condition for God keeping his covenant with the Israelites. However, when Moses ascends the mountain again, the people erect an idol. God plans to destroy the people, but Moses intercedes on behalf of the people.
The book of Leviticus continues with the Israelites at Mount Sinai and consists of God giving the people his laws and helping establish his priesthood. God anoints Aaron and his sons as priests, but then sends fire to consume two of Aaron's sons when they fail to properly prepare the altar. The list of prohibited behavior in Leviticus is extensive, including avoiding certain foods, unclean behaviors, and sexual sins. God promises rewards for obedience and threatens destruction for disobedience. God also establishes a day of Atonement for repenting of sins.
The book of Numbers describes the nation of Israel as it plans to travel to Canaan. God designates the Levites as priests. They travel into the desert, where the people begin…