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3.4 The Grand Scheme of the Pentateuch

In the chapters ahead, and into the next several books, we will see a unified work of God which accomplishes three distinct goals:  Deliverance, Identity, and Implementation.

          a.  God intervenes decisively and miraculously in human history:  He goes from centuries of passivity and silence to center stage, from future words to present acts.  His own arm brings deliverance of Israel from her enemies.

          b.  God declares who He is, and then says to Israel -- You are who I say you are.  He calls them out of chaos: those who were no people He makes a people.  The giving of the Law and of the ritual observances is the framework of Israel's identity.

          c.  In the wilderness, God establishes the basic organization of Israelite society.  Internal cleansing and purging occur of rebellious elements.  In Joshua, God implements His new community externally.   


These three themes are progressive and distinct.  Sometimes they are intermingled.  Certain Scripture passages are primarily focused on miracles, signs and flight (Deliverance), others teach conduct, prescribe offerings or feast days (Identity), and others recount episodes of rebellion followed by punishment, or conquest of enemies (Implementation). Together, these divine acts created pre-monarchical Israelite religion and society.


As we proceed, we will call attention to one or more of these themes as they predominate.

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