God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the cattle, And, yes, Earth itself, and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.” God created human beings; he created them godlike, Reflecting God’s nature. He created them male and female. Godblessed them: “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge! Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air, for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.”
[ Adam and Eve ] At the time God made Earth and Heaven, before any grasses or shrubs had sprouted from the ground—God hadn’t yet sent rain on Earth, nor was there anyone around to work the ground (the whole Earth was watered by underground springs)—God formed Man out of dirt from the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life. The Man came alive—a living soul!
God said, “It’s not good for the Man to be alone; I’ll make him a helper, a companion.” So God formed from the dirt of the ground all the animals of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the Man to see what he would name them. Whatever the Man called each living creature, that was its name. The Man named the cattle, named the birds of the air, named the wild animals; but he didn’t find a suitable companion.
God blessed Noah and his sons: He said, “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill the Earth! Everyliving creature—birds, animals, fish—will fall under your spell and be afraid of you. You’re responsible for them. All living creatures are yours for food; just as I gave you the plants, now I give you everything else. Except formeat with its lifeblood still in it—don’t eat that.
God continued, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and everything living around you and everyone living after you. I’m putting my rainbow in the clouds, a sign of the covenant between me and the Earth. From now on, when I form a cloud over the Earth and the rainbow appears in the cloud, I’ll remember my covenant between me and you and everythingliving, that never again will floodwaters destroy all life. When the rainbow appears in the cloud, I’ll see it and remember the eternal covenant between God and everything living, every last living creature on Earth.”
Isaac prayed hard to God for his wife because she was barren. God answered his prayer and Rebekah became pregnant. But the children tumbled and kicked inside her so much that she said, “If this is the way it’s going to be, why go on living?” She went to God to find out what was going on. God told her, Two nations are in your womb, two peoples butting heads while still in your body. One people will overpower the other, and the older will serve the younger.
As it turned out, God was with Joseph and things went very well with him. He ended upliving in the home of his Egyptian master. His master recognized that God was with him, saw that God was working for good in everything he did. He became very fond of Joseph and made him his personal aide. He put him in charge of all his personal affairs, turning everything over to him. From that moment on,God blessed the home of the Egyptian—all because of Joseph. The blessing of God spread over everything he owned, at home and in the fields, and all Potiphar had to concern himself with was eating three meals a day.
And God said, “As of right now, I’m making a covenant with you: In full sight of your people I will work wonders that have never been created in all the Earth, in any nation. Then all the people with whom you’re living will see how tremendous God’s work is, the work I’ll dofor you. Take careful note of all I command you today. I’m clearing your way by driving out Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. Stay vigilant. Don’t let down your guard lest you make covenant with the people who live in the land that you are entering and they trip you up.
“This is standard practice for you, a perpetual ordinance. On the tenth day of the seventh month, both the citizen and the foreignerliving with you are to enter into a solemn fast and refrain from all work, because on this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you. In the presence of God you will be made clean of all your sins. It is a Sabbath of all Sabbaths. You must fast. It is a perpetual ordinance.
“Tell them, Any Israelite or foreigner livingamong them who offers a Whole-Burnt-Offering or Peace-Offering but doesn’t bring it to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting to sacrifice it to God, that person must be cut off from his people.
“Count seven full weeks from the morning after the Sabbath when you brought the sheaf as a Wave-Offering, fifty days until the morning of the seventh Sabbath. Then present a new Grain-Offering to God. Bring from wherever you are living two loaves of bread made from four quarts of fine flour and baked with yeast as a Wave-Offering of the first ripe grain toGod. In addition to the bread, offer seven yearling male lambs without defect, plus one bull and two rams. They will be a Whole-Burnt-Offering to God together with their Grain-Offerings and Drink-Offerings—offered as Fire-Gifts, a pleasing fragrance to God. Offer one male goat for an Absolution-Offering and two yearling lambs for a Peace-Offering. The priest will wave the two lambs before God as a Wave-Offering, together with the bread of the first ripe grain. They are sacred offerings to God forthe priest. Proclaim the day as a sacred assembly. Don’t do any ordinary work. It is a perpetual decree wherever you live down through your generations.
God said to Moses: “The tenth day of the seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly, fast, and offer a Fire-Gift toGod. Don’t work on that day because it is a day of atonement to make atonement for you before your God. Anyone who doesn’t fast on that day must be cut off from his people. I will destroy from among his people anyone who works on that day. Don’t do any work that day—none. This is a perpetual decree for all the generations to come, wherever you happen to be living. It is a Sabbath of complete and total rest, a fast day. Observe your Sabbath from the evening of the ninth day of the month until the following evening.”
“Any foreigner living among you who wants to celebrate God’s Passover is welcome to do it, but he must follow all the rules and procedures. The same procedures go for bothforeigner and native-born.”
Now the man Moses was a quietly humble man, more so than anyone living on Earth.God broke in suddenly on Moses and Aaron and Miriam saying, “Come out, you three, to the Tent of Meeting.” The three went out. Goddescended in a Pillar of Cloud and stood at the entrance to the Tent. He called Aaron and Miriam to him. When they stepped out, he said, Listen carefully to what I’m telling you. If there is a prophet of God among you, I make myself known to him in visions, I speak to him in dreams. But I don’t do it that way with my servant Moses; he has the run of my entire house; I speak to him intimately, in person, in plain talk without riddles: He ponders the veryform of God. So why did you show no reverence or respect in speaking against my servant, against Moses?
“Every native-born Israelite is to follow this procedure when he brings a Fire-Gift as a pleasing fragrance to God. In future generations, when a foreigner or visitor livingat length among you presents a Fire-Gift as a pleasing fragrance to God, the same procedures must be followed. The community has the same rules for you and the foreignerliving among you. This is the regular rule forfuture generations. You and the foreigner are the same before God. The same laws and regulations apply to both you and the foreigner who lives with you.”
“But if you should get off the beaten track and not keep the commands which God spoke to Moses, any of the things that God commanded you under the authority of Moses from the time that God first commanded you right up to this present time, and if it happened more or less by mistake, with the congregation unaware of it, then the whole congregation is to sacrifice one young bull as a Whole-Burnt-Offering, a pleasing fragrance to God, accompanied by its Grain-Offering and Drink-Offering as stipulated in the rules, and a he-goat as an Absolution-Offering. The priest is to atone for the entire community of the People of Israel and they will stand forgiven. The sin was not deliberate, and they offered to God the Fire-Gift and Absolution-Offering for their inadvertence. The whole community of Israel including theforeigners living there will be absolved, because everyone was involved in the error.
He went back and found him stationed beside his Whole-Burnt-Offering and with him all the nobles of Moab. Then Balaam spoke his message-oracle: Balak led me here from Aram, the king of Moab all the way from the eastern mountains. “Go, curse Jacob for me; go, damn Israel.” How can I curse whom God has not cursed? How can I damn whom God has not damned? From rock pinnacles I see them, from hilltops I survey them: Look! a people camping off by themselves, thinking themselves outsiders among nations. But who could ever count the dust of Jacob or take a census of cloud-of-dust Israel? I want to die like these right-living people! I want an end just like theirs!
Back at Horeb, God, our God, spoke to us: “You’ve stayed long enough at this mountain. On your way now. Get moving. Head for the Amorite hills, wherever people are living in the Arabah, the mountains, the foothills, the Negev, the seashore—the Canaanite country and the Lebanon all the way to the big river, the Euphrates. Look, I’ve given you this land. Now go in and take it. It’s the land Godpromised to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and their children after them.”
I commanded you at that time, “God, yourGod, has given you this land to possess. Your men, fit and armed for the fight, are to cross the river in advance of their brothers, the People of Israel. Only your wives, children, and livestock (I know you have much livestock) may go ahead and settle down in the towns I have already given you until God securesliving space for your brothers as he has foryou and they have taken possession of the country west of the Jordan that God, your God, is giving them. After that, each man may return to the land I’ve given you here.”
Make sure you don’t forget God, your God, by not keeping his commandments, his rules and regulations that I command you today. Make sure that when you eat and are satisfied, build pleasant houses and settle in, see your herds and flocks flourish and more and more money come in, watch your standard of living going up and up—make sure you don’t become so full of yourself and your things that you forgetGod, your God, the God who delivered you from Egyptian slavery; the God who led you through that huge and fearsome wilderness, those desolate, arid badlands crawling with fiery snakes and scorpions; the God who gave you water gushing from hard rock; the Godwho gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never heard of, in order to give you a taste of the hard life, to test you so that you would be prepared to live well in the days ahead of you.
The Levites, acting as spokesmen and speaking loudly, will address Israel: God’s curse on anyone who carves or casts a god-image—an abomination to God made by a craftsman—and sets it up in secret. All respond: Yes. Absolutely. God’s curse on anyone who demeans a parent. All respond: Yes. Absolutely. God’s curse on anyone who moves his neighbor’s boundary marker. All respond:Yes. Absolutely. God’s curse on anyone who misdirects a blind man on the road. All respond: Yes. Absolutely. God’s curse on anyone who interferes with justice due theforeigner, orphan, or widow. All respond: Yes. Absolutely. God’s curse on anyone who has sex with his father’s wife; he has violated the woman who belongs to his father. All respond:Yes. Absolutely. God’s curse on anyone who has sex with an animal. All respond: Yes. Absolutely. God’s curse on anyone who has sex with his sister, the daughter of his father or mother. All respond: Yes. Absolutely. God’s curse on anyone who has sex with his mother-in-law. All respond: Yes. Absolutely. God’s curse on anyone who kills his neighbor in secret. All respond: Yes. Absolutely. God’s curse on anyone who takes a bribe to kill an innocent person. All respond: Yes. Absolutely.God’s curse on whoever does not give substance to the words of this Revelation byliving them. All respond: Yes. Absolutely.
Moses wrote out this Revelation and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who carried the Chest of the Covenant of God, and to all the leaders of Israel. And he gave these orders: “At the end of every seven years, the Year-All-Debts-Are-Canceled, during the pilgrim Festival of Booths when everyone in Israel comes to appear in the Presence of God, your God, at the place he designates, read out this Revelation to all Israel, with everyone listening. Gather the people together—men, women, children, and the foreigners living among you—so they can listen well, so they may learn to live in holy awe before God, your God, and diligently keep everything in this Revelation. And do this so that their children, who don’t yet know all this, will also listen and learn to live in holy awe before God, your God, for as long as you live on the land that you are crossing over the Jordan to possess.”
They answered Joshua, “We got the message loud and clear that God, your God, commanded through his servant Moses: to give you the whole country and destroy everyoneliving in it. We were terrified because of you; that’s why we did this. That’s it. We’re at your mercy. Whatever you decide is right for us, do it.”
They went to the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh and spoke to them: “The entire congregation of God wants to know: What is this violation against the God of Israel that you have committed, turning your back on God and building your own altar—a blatant act of rebellion against God? Wasn’t the crime of Peor enough for us? Why, to this day we aren’t rid of it, still living with the fallout of the plague on the congregation of God! Look at you—turning your back on God! If you rebel against God today, tomorrow he’ll vent his anger on all of us, the entire congregation of Israel.
“If you decide that it’s a bad thing to worshipGod, then choose a god you’d rather serve—and do it today. Choose one of the gods your ancestors worshiped from the country beyond The River, or one of the gods of the Amorites, on whose land you’re now living. As for me and my family, we’ll worship God.”