RELG 203 – Midterm Study Guide
Genesis Beginning of the Bible, Beginning of Life.
Offers two accounts of the Creation.
Primeval History (Gen 1-11) talks of the beginningof the world and civilization
Patriarchal History (Gen 12-50) talks of Abraham and his descendants.
Exodus Story of Israel, Egypt and the descendants of Jacob, which have fallen into slavery.
Escape from slavery in Egypt
Reception of God’s law at Mount Sinai (Horeb)
Focus on the laws and the new covenant between godand his chosen people.
Mostly devoted to Jews’ hardships: Rebellion, God’sAnger, and Conflict with Surrounding
Leviticus Having to do with the Levites – A special tribe set aside for priestly duty.
Talks of rules of Sacrifice, Purity/Impurity and Holiness Code.
Deals with laws tied in with the fact that the Levites are a special nation, and punishments
for disobeying laws are also stated.
Deuteronomy Deutero (Second); Omy (Law)
Moses’ farewell address: Re-telling of the previousfour books – Recount Israel’s History,
New 0 commandments, New Legal Code.
Moses dies at the end; Israelites are ready to enter the promise land.
Numbers Called numbers because of a lengthy census/list oftribes
Continues the journey from Sinai to Canaan, deals with the bulk of Israel’s travels through
External and internal strife as Israel is frequently rebellious, which angers God. Hostilities
with other Nations also present. st
God punishes Israel – None of the 1 Generation will enter the Promise Land
Moses acts as an intermediary between God and the Israelites.
Joshua Entry into the Promise Land with Joshua as Moses’ successor
Conquest of Canaan
Division of Land among tribes
Renewal of the Covenant
Everything in Israel is good, an ideal vision.
Judges Shows failure of Israel to live up to the covenant.
Disunity makes Israel vulnerable to its neighbors.
Successes and failures of the tribes to conquer Canaan.
Focus is on Judges, a Judge is a divinely-sanctioned warleader
Samuel Increasing stability as tribes transform into a nation
Ultimate breakdown of the Judges system
Israel asks for a king
Saul as the first king until he lost god’s support
David consolidates power as the king of Israel
Kings Death of David, King Solomon’s reign, Israel’s split, Evil Kings, Fall of Israel and Judah to the
hands of the Assyrian Empire, and latter, to the Babylonians.
Psalm Poems meant to be set to music.
Chronicles Mostly a summary of the Bible from Genesis toKings.
Book of Early example of a re-written Bible, re-telling of Genesis through an angel who talked to
Jubilees Moses. Characters:
Adam & Eve First Humans according to the second creation account, Eve eats fruit offered by serpent,
offers it to Adam. Causes their expulsion from Eden.
Seth Last son of Adam, regarded as the progenitor of thehuman race, as all Cain’s descendants
die in the flood.
Enoch Enoch was an ancestor of Noah, father of Methuselah
Enoch walked with God until “God took him”
The text is cryptic. There are many hypotheses as to the meaning of this:
- Was Enoch taken up to God’s court? Did he become anangel? Did he simply die
Noah God was displeased with humanity and decided to send a flood to wipe humanity out.
Noah was chosen by God to build an ark to save hisfamily, the only righteous family, and
to save two of every living thing.
A rainbow appears after the flood, sign of a covenant between God and Humanity.
Ham Noah invents wine and gets drunk when celebrating the end of the flood.
Ham “uncovers Noah’s nakedness”
Noah curses Ham through his son Canaan – Canaan andhis offspring are enslaved
Nimrod Babylonian King, said to have ordered the construction of the Tower of Babel.
Described as a hunter and might warrior
Many Ships and Britain’s warplane were named nimrod
Abraham First father of Israel, the nation of Israel derives from his family
Seen as the founder of monotheism and a fatherly figure. Portrayed in Midrash as fighting
In Islam, Ibrahim is emphasized as a natural believer in god, rejecting surrounding idol
worship and being truly devoted to Allah.
Jacob Son of Isaac and Rebeccah.
The chosen son, gets Essau’s Bithright and Blessings.
He struggles all his life.
Sometimes used as a symbol of economic exploitationof Christians by Jews.
God renews the covenant with Jacob.
Sarah Wife of Abraham, mother of Isaac.
Struggled with Barrenness.
Very beautiful (Abraham often identified her as hissister).
Rebeccah Sister of Laban and wife of Isaac.
Abraham commanded his servant to find a wife for his son Isaac amongst his own family in
- Servant thought to himself, let the next girl who gives him water be his master’s
- Rebeccah came out, gave him water.
- Servant offered gifts, and returned with Rebeccah.
She is interpreted as falling off her Camel out ofawe for Isaac.
Later, she will enable Jacob to trick his brother,bringing unhappiness.
She is strong, independent, knows what she wants and gets it for herself and her son.
Often portrayed with an intact jug – symbol of purity and virginity.
Rachel Leah’s younger sister. Jacob’s favourite. Struggleswith barrenness.
Later, she finally conceives and is happy.
Leah Rachel’s older sister, daughter of Laban.
She is rejected by Jacob, but chosen by God as shebecomes mother to a significant portion
of Israelite history.
Her story is strongly tied up with childbirth. Hannah Samuel’s mother.
Elkanah’s favourite wife, however, she struggled with barenness while his other wife bore
One day she prayed out loud at the Shiloh sanctuary. God granted her wish and she bore a
son, giving him to the church as a Nazarite as soonas he weened. She then had other
Onan Wants to have sex with Tamar but doesn’t want to have children on behalf of his brother.
God strikes him dead.
Onanism becomes viewed as masturbation – a sin.
“Onan is one of Judah's sons. It is Onan's responsibility to impregnate Tamar, his widowed
sister-in-law, and God punishes him with death whenhe fails to do his duty. In culture,
Onan is associatedwith the sin of onanism (masturbation), even though the biblical text
does not actually concern masturbation.”
Joseph 11 son of Jacob, Rachel’s Firstborn, Jacob’s favourite.
His brothers became jealous and sold him into slavery.
However, in the end Joseph was victorious as he became a prophet and the second most
powerful man in Egypt during the famine.
Moses A hero, led the Israelites out of Egypt.
Deborah Prophetess, fourth Judge. Led Israelite army with Barak.
Jael Welcomed fleeing General Sisera, hammered a nail into his head.
This may have sexual connotations as he fell asleepbetween her feet (genitals?)
However, she is still celebrated as a heroine.
Similar to Judith decapitating Holofernes.
Barak A military general, with Deborah, led the Israelitearmy into defeating the Canaanites led
Samson Best known Judge. His divine appointment is strongly emphasized, his mother struggles
A hero on par with Hercules. Known for his sexual exploits and violating the rule of
xenophobia, which leads to his downfall – Delilah will tell his secret.
Samuel The last Judge of Israel
He lets his son become judges when judges are supposed to be chosen by God, as such,
they cannot be considered “real” judges.
He’s a priest and prophet, becomes a new kind of prophet (court prophet), acting as the
Given the job of finding a king for Israel and finds Saul.
Saul First King of Israel, chosen by Samuel.
Although there are 3 accounts of him being chosen:Anointed by a seer (Samuel, famous
War Leader, pointed out by god to Samuel. He is noted for being taller than everyone else.
For a while Saul is successful. However, he fails to instill God’s ban.
He sinks into violence/madness. He is paranoid thatDavid will take his place.
Only David’s music can calm/tame Saul.
David Second King of Israel, viewed as the most righteous.
Archetype of both Hero and underdog.
He is not perfect – Flawed, satisfies his own lust.However, deeply committed to the
religious Idea of God being the true King, and of serving God.
Rise from humble beginnings – Was small & weak shepherd boy, the youngest son.
Defeated Goliath, a giant Philistine.
In his final years, he is shown as old and weak. Asuccession struggle – His sons rebel
against his will and each fight to be king.
David is remembered as a symbol of Kingship and Religion.
Occasionally represented as Orpheus who’s music could tame wild animals. Goliath A Philistine Hero. Strong, powerful, six cubits tall.
Philistines in the Bible are portrayed as strong, yet dumb.
Germans used “philistine” as a word for “townies”
In English, philistine may be used in reference tothe “bourgeoisie” – Stupid, yet powerful
Bathsheba David spies Bathsheba bathing on her roof and covets her.
Invites her over, gets her pregnant.
Sends Uriah, her husband, to the front of the fightso he dies.
Uriah is strongly devoted to King David. Won’t evensleep with Bathsheba so he stays pure
for the fight. He dies, and David marries Bathsheba. God is greatly displeased.
King Solomon The last king of a united Israel. Has a relatively peaceful reign, concentrating on building up
Jerusalem. Substantial expansion of the borders towards the North. Solomon builds God a
temple in Jerusalem.
A symbol of the wise and just ruler, greatly renowned for his wisdom granted to him by
Queen of The Queen of a great African Nation; visits the King of Solomon and admires him for his
Sheba great wisdom. Showers him with gifts.
Zedekiah Jehoiakim’s uncle. Technically still part of the Davidic Dynasty.
Tries to rebel against the Babylonian king.
King Jehu/Yehu Reigned in Israel after Jerohoam. The only King of Israel regarded as good in theBible.
Jeroboam Created two new worship centres (Bethel & Shekhem)and added Golden calves, breaking
Leads the 10 northern tribes into rebellion, becomes the King of Israel.
Rehoboam King of Judah, Tribes of Judah and Benjamin.
Ahab The worst king, son of Omri (an Omride)
His wife is Jezebel, a foreign queen. She leads himto worship Ba’al, god’s chief competitor.
Key Assyrian Tiglath-Pileser III (Pul)
rulers • Conquers kingdoms – Most of the northern Kingdom isdestroyed
• Israel becomes almost fully a vessel state of the Assyrians
• Destroys Somaria
• Destroys Israel.
• Population of Israel is spread out.
• It will remain a vessel of Assyria until the Babylonians defeat Assyria.
• Israel & Judah are no longer independent.
• Backed by Egypt and Babylonia, Hezekiah leads Judah’s Rebellion.
• Sennacherib wins and plunders major cities in Judah
• Men, women, and children from Lachish are forced into exile by the Assyrians.
• The wrath of Assyrians is interpreted as a tool ofgod.
Elijah A wandering prophet
Many parallels with Moses
(Crosses the Jordan river, spends 40 days & nights,eats mana in the wilderness,
experiences a theophany, resurrects the dead)
Hezekiah Good king, brings down Idolatry
Manasseh Brings down Judah
Josiah A celebrated king. Walked in the way of David, reinstates Passover.
Honored for his great piety.
Killed in war with Egyptians. Terms:
Covenant A treaty made between God and the people.
- First covenant was established between God and Moses, the rainbow after
the flood was a sign that God promises not to wipeout humanity anymore, as
he accepts humans are flawed.
- Covenants with Abraham:
o First covenant: Abraham will have descendants, descendants will get
o Second covenant: Offspring and land will be yours if you circumcise
every male among you.
- God renews covenant with Isaac
- God renews covenant with Jacob
- A new covenant with Moses
- Renewal of the covenant with Joshua
- Saul does not uphold covenant
- David is a good thing
- Solomon is decent
- Things go very wrong.
Akedah The Akedah, or the Binding of Isaac is a biblical story.
God orders Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac,whom he loves dearly.
Isaac foreshadows Christ: carries wood up the mountain, sacrificed by his father,
theme of alternate sacrifice.
God provides the lamb -> Isaac lives.
This is used to portray Abraham as a man of deep faith.
According to the Book of Jubilees, the Akedah was cooked up by an evil angel in God’s
court, echoing the story of Job. It is also associated with the Passover.
Isaac is said to have experienced a death during the Akedah. In some versions, God is
said to resurrect Isaac.
The Akedah proves to God that the Jewish people have a deep faith.
Tamar Judah takes Tamar as a wife for his son, but the son dies.
Tamar is left alone and she wants children.
Another son must give her children in his brother’sname.
Onan will not honour these obligations – he pulls out.
Tamar tricks Judah by disguising herself as a prostitute.
Has Judah’s children.
Levites Descendants of Levi, do not have a territory as they are a priestly tribe.
A special nation chosen by God.
Leviticus outlines rules for priestly duty.
Golden Calf A symbol for idolatry.
Joshua provides a Golden Calf for Israelites to worship when Moses goes up Mount
Jeroboam builds Golden calves for the people to worship.
Today, it acts as a popular symbol of unbridled wealth, selfishness, greed.
Tanakh The canon of the Hebrew Bible.
An acronym for its three sections: Torah, Nevi’im and Ketuvim.
Each of these contain several books. Barrenness A recurring theme in the Bible. Many women strugglewith barrenness until God
grants them a son.
Sarah could not have children. Annunciation to Sarah is a recurring theme in art. She
gives birth to Isaac.
Rebeccah and Rachel also struggle with bareness.
Hannah from the book of Judges struggles with barrenness.
This theme is used as a foreshadowing of Christ inthe Christian tradition:
Elizabeth struggles with barrenness before giving birth to St-John the Baptist.
Annunciation to Mary tells her that she will have ason – Jesus.
Josephus Pro-Roman Jewish Historian
Interpreted and defended the Jewish Bible and religion for Greco-Roman readers
Jephthah’s Jephtah promises God that, if he defeats the Ammonites, he will sacrifice whatever
Daughter comes out the door to meet him once he returns.
Unfortunately, his daughter comes to meet him, andhe sacrifices her.
Before, she asked to go “bewail her virginity” fortwo months. The meaning of this is
not clear, leading to different interpretations.
Maybe she didn’t die literally, but simply sacrificed her potential to be a mother?
Hamlet references Jephtah’s daughter: Hamlet compares Polonius to Jephtah;
Ophelia’s suicide occurs two months after the beginning of the play, Ophelia mourns
that she will never marry or have children.
Jacob is the younger son, yet he is the one chosenby god.
Jacob’s descendants are the Israelites, Essau’s arethe Edomites
Jacob & Essau (traditional enemies of Isreal)
Essau sells his birthright to Jacob.
Jacob tricks Essau out of his blessings.
Jacob loved Rachel, but Laban gave Jacob Leah as afirst wife.
Sibling Strife Rachel & Leah God pitied Leah, and as such, Rachel was barren fora long time.
Rachel envied Leah because Leah could bear Jacob sons.
Leah envied Rachel because she was the favourite wife.
Rachel is the youngest, yet she is favored.
Cain is the first “regular” human, born of Adam andEve.