This blog is for me to unload my thoughts and to help others in learning. I hope that you find some things serious, funny, educational, and freindly. Enjoy my blog and hope you come back and visit. thanks. chrissy

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


The basic makeup or constitution of something. It can refer to what a person is by birth, also to hereditary qualities along with general practice. At times it refers to the physical urges of an organism. Translators generally render the Greek words phy´sis and phy•si•kos´ (the adjective form) as “nature” and “natural,” respectively.
Men and Animals. That there is a nature belonging to man different from that of wild beasts, and that even wild beasts are not all of the same nature, is shown by the statement at James 3:7: “For every species [Gr., phy´sis, “nature”] of wild beast as well as bird and creeping thing and sea creature is to be tamed and has been tamed by humankind [phy´sei tei an•thro•pi´nei, “nature belonging to the man”].” This difference in “nature” reveals the variety in God’s creation and is maintained because of the divine law that each produces according to its own kind.—Ge 1:20-28; compare 1Co 15:39.
Divine Nature. Also, there is a different nature belonging to those in heaven, spirit creatures of God. The apostle Peter speaks to his fellow Christians, spiritual brothers of Jesus Christ, of “the precious and very grand promises, that through these you may become sharers in divine nature [phy´se•os].” (2Pe 1:4) That this is a sharing with Christ in his glory as spirit persons, Peter shows in his first letter: “God . . . gave us a new birth [a•na•gen•ne´sas he•mas´, “having generated us again”] to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to an incorruptible and undefiled and unfading inheritance. It is reserved in the heavens for you.” (1Pe 1:3, 4) “Divine nature” requires a change in nature through death and resurrection, as made plain by the apostle Paul at First Corinthians chapter 15. He explains that the Christian must die and must be resurrected in a different body, a spiritual one, which requires a change.—1Co 15:36, 38, 44, 49, 51.
Inherent Nature. Paul speaks of his fellow countrymen the Jews, calling them “Jews by nature,” that is, born of Jewish parents, of the children of Israel, or Jacob.—Ga 2:15; compare Ro 2:27.
In the illustration of the olive tree, he calls the fleshly Jews the natural (ka•ta´ phy´sin, “according to nature”) branches of the garden olive. He tells the Gentile Christians: “For if you were cut out of the olive tree that is wild by nature and were grafted contrary to nature into the garden olive tree, how much rather will these who are natural be grafted into their own olive tree!” (Ro 11:21-24) The wild olive tree is unfruitful or produces very inferior fruit, but it is common practice in Mediterranean countries to graft branches of cultivated olive trees into the wild olive tree to produce good fruit. However, if the wild olive branch is grafted into the cultivated tree, it produces only the poor fruit of the wild olive tree. Therefore Paul calls this latter grafting “contrary to nature.” It serves to emphasize the power of God as well as his undeserved kindness to Gentiles in bringing them in to replace “natural branches.” The Jews had been ‘cultivated’ by Jehovah for centuries, but the Gentiles had been “wild,” not having the true religion, not bringing forth fruitage to God. Not naturally, but only by God’s power could they be made to bring forth fine fruit. Only Jehovah, therefore, could accomplish this ‘grafting’ successfully.
Also, in his argument to the Galatians to prevent their enslavement to Judaistic teachings, Paul said: “When you did not know God, then it was that you slaved for those who by nature are not gods.” These false gods they had worshiped were by their very origin and production not truly gods; it was impossible for them to come into such a status. Not merely did they have no authority to be gods, but they did not have such qualities in their intrinsic nature or makeup.—Ga 4:8.
Conscience. Certain traits or qualities inhere in mankind from birth, actually having been placed in man from the beginning. The apostle Paul comments on the conscience, or at least a vestige of such, that still persists in fallen man, even though in many cases he has strayed from God and does not have his law. This explains why all nations have established many laws that are in harmony with righteousness and justice, and many individuals follow certain good principles. Paul says: “For whenever people of the nations that do not have law do by nature the things of the law, these people, although not having law, are a law to themselves. They are the very ones who demonstrate the matter of the law to be written in their hearts, while their conscience is bearing witness with them and, between their own thoughts, they are being accused or even excused.”—Ro 2:14, 15.
In discussing the matter of headship with the Corinthian congregation, Paul called attention to the rule that a woman should wear a head covering when praying or prophesying before the congregation, as a sign of subjection. In illustration, he says: “Does not nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him; but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? Because her hair is given her instead of a headdress.”—1Co 11:14, 15.
Paul’s reference to “nature itself” evidently included more than “custom,” which he mentions in verse 16 in connection with the use of a head covering by women. Hereditary characteristics also likely had a bearing on what Christians in Corinth viewed as natural. Among Europeans (such as the Greeks), the hair of women, when left uncut, usually becomes considerably longer than that of men. But this is not true of the straight hair of Orientals and Indians or of the woolly hair of Blacks and Melanesians.
In addition to their awareness of hereditary qualities among them, the Christians in Corinth knew that it was the general practice for men to clip their hair to a moderate length. This was common also among Jewish men; so the long uncut hair of Nazirites marked them as men who were not following the general custom. (Nu 6:5) On the other hand, Jewish women usually wore their hair quite long. (Lu 7:38; Joh 11:2) And in the Greek city of Corinth, shaving a woman’s head, or clipping her hair very short, was a sign of her being a slave or of her being in disgrace for having been caught in fornication or adultery.—1Co 11:6.
So, when saying that “nature itself” taught them, Paul evidently had in mind various factors that would influence their attitude as to what was natural.
In saying “Does not nature itself teach you . . . ?” Paul was not personifying nature, as though it were a goddess. Rather, God has given man reasoning powers. By observing and reasoning on things as God has made them and the results from using these in various ways, man can learn much as to what is proper. It is really God that teaches, and the man with his mind properly oriented by God’s Word can view things in their right perspective and relationship, thereby rightly discerning what is natural or unnatural. By this means the individual can have a trained conscience in this respect and can avoid a conscience that is defiled and that approves unnatural things.—Ro 1:26, 27; Tit 1:15; 1Co 8:7.
Natural Use of Bodies. It is wrong for men and women to use their bodies in any way that is out of harmony with the functions for which God created them. What is unnatural in that sense is sinful. The Scriptures describe the uncleanness and condemnation coming upon those who practice these things: “That is why God gave them up to disgraceful sexual appetites, for both their females changed the natural [phy•si•ken´] use of themselves into one contrary to nature; and likewise even the males left the natural use of the female and became violently inflamed in their lust toward one another, males with males, working what is obscene and receiving in themselves the full recompense, which was due for their error.” Such persons lower themselves to a beastlike level. (Ro 1:26, 27; 2Pe 2:12) They go after wrong fleshly things because, like a beast, they lack reasonableness, having no spirituality.—Jude 7, 10.
Birth. Another Greek word often translated “natural” is ge´ne•sis, literally meaning “birth” or “origin.” James speaks of “a man looking at his natural face [literally, the face of the birth of him] in a mirror.” (Jas 1:23) James also says that “the tongue is a fire” and that it “sets the wheel of natural life [literally, the wheel of the birth] aflame.” (Jas 3:5, 6) James may here be alluding to a wheel, such as that on a chariot, that could be set on fire by a hot, glowing axle. Similarly, the tongue can set aflame the whole round of one’s life into which he came by birth, making life become like a vicious circle, possibly even resulting in his own destruction as by fire

Monday, October 10, 2005

NINETEENTHCENTURY THouhts on housework


As society gradually shakes off the remnants of barbarism,…a truer estimate is formed of woman’s duties, and of the measure of intellect requisite for the proper discharge of them. Let any man of sense and discernment become the member of a large household, in which a well-educated and pious woman is endeavoring systematically to discharge her multiform duties; let him fully comprehend all her cares, difficulties, and complexities; and it is probable he would coincide in the opinion that not statesman, at the head of a nation’s affairs had more frequent calls for wisdom, firmness, tact, discrimination, prudence, and versatility of talent, than such a woman.

This is an excerpt from the American Woman’s Home, by Catherine E. Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe, published in 1869.

One of my favorites hope you like it.



Handle most of your mail only once. Immediately discard anything that needs no action, doesn’t interest you, or doesn’t merit saving—a subscription request for a magazine you’re already getting, for example.

If you receive an unsolicited credit card that you don’t want, cut it up so that it can’t be used and throw away immediately. Do the same whenever you discard out of date credit cards or those you don’t intend to use.

When you need a copy of your reply, make a carbon copy on the back of the original letter. This way you have only one sheet to file, and the chances of mislaying the copy are greatly reduced. Or as of today lets print out a copy from our computer. And for the ones that don’t have a computer. No need to type to get a carbon copy either. A handwritten reply done with a ball point pen makes a perfectly legible carbon.

So that you always have greeting cards for any occasion, buy extras and file them in appropriately labeled folders(birthdays, anniversary, get well etc…). Include on your weekly list of things to do letters that must be written, cars to be mailed, and other kinds of paperwork with deadlines—taxes, auto registrations, and so on.



Most small chores can be accomplished in bits and pieces of time. For instance, while your waiting at the doctors office, you can pay bills; while riding the bus, write out your shopping list. The following lists may give you some ideas of what you can do in odd chunks of time.

What can you do in 5 minutes:

Make an appointment
File your nails
Water houseplants
Make out a party guest list
Order tickets for a concert or a ball game
Sew back a button

What can you do in 10 minutes:

Write a short letter or note
Pick out a birthday card
Repot a plant
Hand-wash some clothes
Straighten your desktop

What can you do in 30 minutes:

Go through backed up magazines and newspapers
Work on a craft project
Polish silver and brass
Vacuum three or four rooms
Weed a flower bed.



Keep a running list of groceries and household supplies that you need. By the time you go shopping, there’ll be little to add.

Group your errands so that you can accomplish several in a single trip. Try to find a convenient shopping center that has all or most of the stores offices, and services that you need.

Try to patronize stores and offices near your home, your work, or on the route between the two. Always try to accomplish an errand on the way to something else instead of making a special trip.

Whenever possible, do errands when traffic is light and lines are short—usually between 10 and 3 on weekdays, in the evenings, and all day Sundays.

If you have appointments or errands at several locations, schedule them so that you can go from one to the next with minimum of wasted time and travel.

Eliminate additional trips by making back to back doctor or dentist appointments for family members (or at least for all the kids).

Try to get the first appointment in the morning so that you won’t be delayed by someone ahead of you and you’ll still have most of the day left when you finish.

Take your weekly list with you whenever you go out on errands. You may be able to fit in something that you scheduled for later in the week.

Get your family to help out with errands. If a shirt has to be returned, leave it in clear sight so that anyone going to or near that particular store can return it. To make it easy, attach a note with instructions—credit to charge account, exchange for a different size or color, whatever.

The family message center

The family message center:

Establish a message center in your home. It needn’t be elaborate—it can be on the refrigerator or on a bulletin board or a door. Encourage everyone in the household to use the message center to list plans, needs for the next trip to the strore, and especially important –all phone messages.

Keep the message center current; throw away outdated notes. Take care of as many items as you can each day—or enter them in your notebook for action later.

Phone timesavers:

Install telephone jacks all around the house or get a cordless phone so that you can talk wherever you are in and around your home. Get long extension cords for your telephones so that you can move around freely while talking. Often, you can do a chore while talking on the telephone—cooking, tending plants, for example.

To save time—and frustration—whenever possible use the telephone instead of making a trip. Phone to confirm appointments, to check if a store has the item you want, to learn business hours, and so on. Learn how to cut off time-consumering calls without hurting people’s feelings. For example, its quite all right to, “ this is a terrible time for me, may I call you back?” ( Of course, do call them back later.)

Sometimes a phone call is more timesaving and effective than a letter. Even a long-distance call may be cheaper, especially when you consider how long it takes to write a letter and how much your time is worth.

Resist the temptation to remove the receiver from its cradle during times when you don’t want interruptions. Instead, turn down the bell or volume. Leaving the receiver off the cradle may interrupt phone service even after you’ve replaced the receiver.

Organizing your house

Organizing your household:

The first step is you:

Getting organized is not an end in itself. There is no “right” way to do things—unless it’s right for you. It must fit your style, your energy, and your schedule. Whatever system helps you to function most effectively is the best one for you. Beware of the tail wagging the dog situation—in which the appointment book, the budget and the expenditures records, the filing system, and the master list take more time to maintain than working out the problems they’re supposed to solve.

Are you a morning person? Your efficiency may increase if you arrange your tasks as much as possible around the rhythms of your body. Try scheduling top-priority projects during your peak hours, routine work during your low-time.

The key is to start now, no matter what! If you have a call to make, start dialing. A letter to write, start writing or typing.

Use the salami method to reach your goal. If the size of your project overwhelms you, tackle it a piece at a time. You wouldn’t eat a salami whole, would you? You’d cut it into slices. Do the same thing with your big projects.

The Master list:

To organize your family activities and keep track of everyone’s schedule, put up a large poster sized master calendar that displays a full year. Enter all important family dates—birthdays, anniversaries, holidays—at the beginning of the year. Also enter appointments, as they are made, for everyone in your family.

Buy a notebook small enough to carry with you at all times. This notebook becomes your master list—a single continuous list that replaces those little scraps of paper. In the notebook, keep track of errands, appointments, things to do or buy, and items that will require action. As they approach, transfer dates from your master calendar to the notebook.

Shop around in stationary and office supply stores for the notebook that best suits you. You’ll probably be pleasantly surprised at the variety available these days. Include in your notebook all telephone numbers and details needed to accomplish a job.

Don’t overcomplicate your notebook by listing items that are a part of your daily or weekly routine. Save the notebook for reminders and special projects. Make a list of lists section in your notebook---a file of ideas. For example, set aside individual pages to list books to read, movies to rent, current movies to see, places to go when people visit, recommended restaurants, and so on.

At the start of each week—or, better yet, at the end of the previous week—plan several days ahead. It gives you perspective on the week, enables you to spread out the musts, and prevents a frantic rush at the weeks end.

Set aside a time for fun—treat it like an important appointment. If you don’t set aside a specific time for relaxation your work and other commitments will soon take over your life. Keep your list with you at all times. A list is worse than useless if you can’t refer to it because you may think that you’ve disposed of a matter when in fact you haven’t.
Set a goal to do one necessary chore each day that you really dislike. You’ll have a sense of satisfaction each time you succeed. Keep a second, separate notebook to cope with complex, special situations—for example: enrolling a child in college, moving to a new home, or organizing a big family to do or holiday.

Don’t be in a hurry to throw away notebook pages that have been completed. That stove part you ordered 2 months ago may be all wrong when it arrives, and you may have to call the same people all over again.

Subject The Good Old

Subject: The Good  Old Days My Mom used to cut chicken, chop eggs and spread mayoon the same cutting board with the same knife and nobleach, but we didn't seem to get food poisoning.My Mom used to defrost hamburger on thecounter AND I used to eat it raw sometimes, too. Our school sandwiches were wrapped in waxpaper in a brown paper bag, not in icepack coolers,but I can't remember getting e. coli.Almost all of us would have rather goneswimming in the lake instead of a pristine pool (talk about boring),no beach closures then.The term cell phone would have conjuredup a phone in a jail cell, and a pager was the school PA system.We all took gym with risk of a permanent injury witha pair of high top Ked's (only worn in gym) instead ofhaving cross-training athletic shoes with air cushion solesand built in light reflectors.  I can't recall any injuries but they musthave happened because they tell us how much safer we are now.Flunking gym was not an option... evenfor stupid kids! I guess PE must be much harder than gym.Speaking of school, we all said prayersand sang the national anthem, and staying in detention after schoolcaught all sorts of negative attention. We must have had horribly damaged psyches. What an archaic health system we had then. Remember school nurses? Ours worea hat and everything.I thought that I was supposed toaccomplish something before I was allowed to be proud of myself.I just can't recall how bored we werewithout computers, Play Station, Nintendo, X-box or 270 digital TV cablestations.Oh yeah... and where was the Benadryl andsterilization kit when I got that bee sting? I could have been killed!We played 'king of the hill' on piles of gravel left onvacant construction sites, and when we got hurt, Mompulled out the 48-cent bottle of Mercurochrome (kids liked it betterbecause it didn't sting like iodine did) and then we got our butt spanked. Now it's a trip to the emergency room, followed by a 10-day doseof a $49 bottle of antibiotics, and then Mom calls the attorney to suethe contractor for leaving a horribly vicious pile of gravel where it wassuch a threat. (Remember how it had that glass applicator, which you  put right back   in the bottle after dabbing an open wound?!)We didn't act up at the neighbor's houseeither because if we did, we got our butt spanked there and then we gotour butt spanked again when we got home.I recall Donny Reynolds from next doordoing his tricks on the front stoop, just before hefell off. Little did his Mom know that she could have owned our house.Instead, she picked him up and swatted him for being such a goof. It was aneighborhood run amuck.To top it off, not a single person I knewhad ever been told that they were from a dysfunctional family. Howcould we possibly have known that? We needed to get into group therapy andanger management classes? We were obviously so duped by somany societal ills, that we didn't even notice that the entire countrywasn't taking Prozac!  How did we ever survive?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Freed From the Chain

Freed From the Chains of Hate
I WAS born September 8, 1964, in Rognac, a small town in the south of France. My parents and grandparents were Andalusian Gypsies, born in Algeria and Morocco, North Africa. As is common in Gypsy culture, ours was a large extended family.
My father was a violent man, and some of my earliest memories include scenes of him hurting my mother. In time, my mother opted for divorce—something that is rare among Gypsies. She took my brother, my sister, and me to Belgium, where we lived peacefully for the next eight years.
Things changed, however. We children wanted to see our father, so Mother took us to France and was reunited with my father. Living with Father again presented challenges for me. In Belgium we went everywhere with Mother. But on my father’s side of the family, men were to associate with men. Their macho mentality was that men have all the rights and women have all the duties. One day, for example, when I wanted to help my aunt clean up after dinner, my uncle accused me of being a homosexual. In his family, doing the dishes was strictly a woman’s chore. Eventually, this unbalanced thinking rubbed off on me.
It was not long before my mother once again became the victim of my father’s violent disposition. Several times when we tried to intervene, my brother and I had to escape through the window to avoid Father’s blows. My sister was not spared either. As a result, I spent as much time away from home as possible. At 15 years of age, I had no direction in life.
In time, I became known for my violent temper. I enjoyed being a bully. Sometimes I would deliberately provoke other young men, but very few dared to defy me—especially since I was often armed with a knife or a chain. Soon I began to steal automobiles and sell them. In some cases I would just set them on fire and enjoy watching the firemen put out the flames. Later I took to breaking into shops and warehouses. I was arrested several times. And each time, I prayed to God for help!
Yes, I believed in God. While we were in Belgium, I had attended a religious school. So I knew that what I was doing was bad. Still, my belief in God did not have any effect on my conduct. I thought that all I had to do was ask and my sins would be forgiven.
In 1984, I was sentenced to 11 months in prison for stealing. I was sent to the Baumettes Prison, in Marseilles. There, I tattooed various parts of my body. One tattoo read “hate and vengeance.” Far from being reformed, I allowed prison to deepen my hatred for authority and for society in general. Upon being released, after serving only three months in prison, I was filled with more hate than ever. Then, a tragedy changed the course of my life.
Vengeance Becomes My Goal
My family had a dispute with another Gypsy family. My uncles and I decided to confront them to resolve the matter. Both families were armed. In the argument that ensued, my uncle Pierre and a cousin of my father were shot dead. I was so distraught that I stood in the street, gun in hand, yelling in a fit of rage. One of my uncles finally wrestled my gun away from me.
The loss of Uncle Pierre, whom I viewed as a father, left me stricken with grief. I went into mourning according to Gypsy custom. For many days I did not shave or eat any meat. I refused to watch television or listen to music. I vowed to avenge the death of my uncle, but my relatives prevented me from getting a gun.
In August 1984, I was inducted into military service. At 20 years of age, I enrolled in the United Nations peacekeeping force in Lebanon. To kill or be killed was a risk that I accepted. At the time, I was smoking large quantities of hashish. In addition to giving me a sense of well-being, the drug made me feel that nothing could harm me.
It was easy to obtain arms in Lebanon, so I decided to ship weapons back to France to further my plan to avenge my uncle. I bought two pistols, along with ammunition, from local residents. I disassembled the guns, hid them in two radios, and sent them home.
Just two weeks before the end of my military service, three of my companions and I went absent without leave. On returning to barracks, we were locked up. While in jail, I flew into a rage and attacked a guard. It was inconceivable for me to be belittled by a payo—a non-Gypsy. The following day I had another violent clash, this time with an officer. I was sent to the Montluc Prison, in Lyons, for the remainder of my military service.
I Find Freedom—In Prison
On my first day in Montluc Prison, I was warmly greeted by a pleasant young man. I learned that he was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and that he and others of his faith were in prison simply because they did not take up arms. That puzzled me. I wanted to learn more.
Jehovah’s Witnesses, I found, had a genuine love for God, and their high moral standards impressed me. Still, I had many questions. In particular, I wanted to know if the dead can communicate with the living through dreams—something that many Gypsies believe. A Witness named Jean-Paul offered to study the Bible with me, using the book You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth.
I devoured the book in one night, and my heart was touched by what I read. Here, in prison, I had found true freedom! When I was finally released from prison, I took the train home, with my bag full of Bible publications.
To contact the Witnesses in my home area, I went to the Kingdom Hall in Martigues. I continued studying the Bible, now with the help of a young full-time minister named Eric. Within a few days, I stopped smoking, and I stopped seeing my former partners in crime. I was determined to act in harmony with Proverbs 27:11, which says: “Be wise, my son, and make my heart rejoice, that I may make a reply to him that is taunting me.” In Jehovah, I had found a loving Father whom I wanted to please.
The Challenge of Changing
It was not easy for me to put Christian principles into practice. For example, I had a relapse with my drug problem that lasted several weeks. But the hardest challenge for me was to get rid of the desire for vengeance. Unknown to Eric, I always carried a gun and was still actively plotting my revenge against those who killed my uncle. I spent entire nights tracking them down.
When I told Eric about this, he clearly explained to me that I could not establish a good relationship with God while being armed and seeking vengeance. I had to make a choice. I meditated deeply on the apostle Paul’s admonition at Romans 12:19: “Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but yield place to the wrath.” This, along with fervent prayer, helped me to control my feelings. (Psalm 55:22) Finally, I got rid of my weapons. On December 26, 1986, after studying the Bible for one year, I symbolized my dedication to Jehovah God by water baptism.
My Family Responds
The changes that I had made in my conduct encouraged my parents to study the Bible. They remarried, and my mother was baptized in July 1989. In time, several other members of my family responded to the Bible’s message and became Jehovah’s Witnesses.
In August 1988, I decided to become a full-time minister. Then I fell in love with a young sister in my congregation named Katia. We were married on June 10, 1989. Our first year of marriage was not easy, for I still had some adjustments to make in my attitude toward women. It was difficult for me to apply the words of 1 Peter 3:7, which encourage husbands to assign their wives honor. Repeatedly, I had to pray for the strength to swallow my pride and change my thinking. Things gradually improved.
My uncle’s death still causes me great pain, and at times I cannot hold back the tears when I think about him. I struggle with strong emotions triggered by memories of his murder. For years, even after my baptism, I was afraid of a chance encounter with members of the family with whom we previously had a vendetta. What would I do if they attacked me? How would I react? Would my old personality take over?
One day I gave a public talk in a nearby congregation. There I saw Pepa, a relative of the men who had killed my uncle. I will admit that seeing her tested every fiber of my Christian personality. But I put aside my feelings. Later, on the day of Pepa’s baptism, I embraced her and congratulated her on her decision to serve Jehovah. In spite of all that had happened, I accepted her as my spiritual sister.
Every day, I thank Jehovah for helping me to break free from the chains of hatred. Where would I be today without Jehovah’s mercy? Thanks to him, I enjoy a happy family life. I also have a hope for the future—that of a new world free of hate and violence. Yes, I have every confidence that God’s promise will be fulfilled: “They will actually sit, each one under his vine and under his fig tree, and there will be no one making them tremble; for the very mouth of Jehovah of armies has spoken it.”—Micah 4:4.


A Jewish orphan girl of the tribe of Benjamin whose Hebrew name was Hadassah (meaning “Myrtle”); a descendant from among those deported from Jerusalem along with King Jehoiachin (Jeconiah) in 617 B.C.E. (Es 2:5-7) She was the daughter of Abihail, the uncle of Mordecai. (Es 2:15) Her guardian was her older cousin Mordecai, one of “the king’s servants that were in the king’s gate” of the palace at Shushan during the reign of the Persian king Ahasuerus (Xerxes I, in the fifth century B.C.E.). (Es 2:7; 3:2) After Ahasuerus had deposed his queen Vashti for disobedience, he commanded the gathering of all the beautiful virgins for a period of special massage and beauty care, so that the king might select one to replace Vashti as queen. Esther was among those taken to the king’s house and entrusted to the care of Hegai the guardian of the women. At Mordecai’s direction, she kept secret the fact that she was a Jewess. (Es 2:8, 10) Esther was selected as queen in the seventh year of Ahasuerus’ reign. (Es 2:16, 17) All along, she kept in touch with Mordecai, following his counsel. She spoke in Mordecai’s name to the king when Mordecai uncovered a plot against the king.—Es 2:20, 22.
In the 12th year of Ahasuerus, Haman the Agagite, who was prime minister, planned the annihilation of all the Jews in the 127 jurisdictional districts in the empire. He received authorization from the king to issue a decree to carry this out. (Es 3:7-13) Acting on the information and advice of Mordecai, Esther revealed to the king the wicked intent of Haman’s plot. Haman’s reaction added to the king’s rage, and Haman was hanged. (Es 4:7–7:10) The king, at Esther’s request, issued a second decree authorizing the Jews to fight for their lives on the day set for their slaughter. (Es 8:3-14) Because of the king’s edict and for fear of Mordecai, who replaced Haman as prime minister, the governors and officials of the empire helped the Jews to gain a complete victory over their enemies. (Es 9) Mordecai’s instructions, confirmed by Esther, commanded the Jews to celebrate the Festival of Purim annually, a custom kept down to this day.—Es 9:20, 21, 29.
While the book of Esther does not mention the name of God, it is evident from the actions of Mordecai and Esther that they were both faithful servants of the true God Jehovah. Esther displayed the qualities of one trusting in God’s law. She was “pretty in form and beautiful in appearance” (Es 2:7), but more important is the fact that she manifested the adornment of “the secret person of the heart in the incorruptible apparel of the quiet and mild spirit.” (1Pe 3:4) Thus she gained favor before Hegai, the guardian of the women, as well as before the king himself. She did not count showy adornment the important thing and, accordingly, “did not request anything except what Hegai . . . proceeded to mention.” (Es 2:15) She showed great tact and self-control. She was submissive to her husband Ahasuerus, approaching him in a tactful and respectful way when her life and the lives of her people were in danger. She kept silent when it was wise to do so but spoke boldly and fearlessly when it was necessary and at the right time. (Es 2:10; 7:3-6) She accepted counsel from her mature cousin Mordecai, even when following it endangered her life. (Es 4:12-16) Her love and loyalty toward her people the Jews, who were also God’s covenant people, were demonstrated when she acted in their behalf.—See MORDECAI No. 2.


A Moabitess who married Mahlon after the death of his father Elimelech and while Mahlon, his mother Naomi, and his brother Chilion were living in Moab. A famine had caused the family to leave their native Bethlehem in Judah. Ruth’s brother-in-law Chilion was married to the Moabitess Orpah. Eventually the two brothers died, leaving behind childless widows. Learning that Jehovah’s favor was again manifest in Israel, Naomi, accompanied by her two daughters-in-law, proceeded to return to Judah.—Ru 1:1-7; 4:9, 10.
Her Loyal Love. Whereas Orpah finally returned to her people at Naomi’s recommendation, Ruth stuck with her mother-in-law. Deep love for Naomi and a sincere desire to serve Jehovah in association with his people enabled Ruth to leave her parents and her native land, with little prospect of finding the security that marriage might bring. (Ru 1:8-17; 2:11) Her love for her mother-in-law was such that, later, others were able to say that she was better to Naomi than seven sons.—Ru 4:15.
Arriving in Bethlehem at the commencement of the barley harvest, Ruth, in behalf of Naomi and herself, went out to the field to procure food. By chance she lighted on the field belonging to Boaz, a relative of Elimelech, and requested the overseer of the harvesters for permission to glean. Her diligence in gleaning must have been outstanding, as is evident from the fact that the overseer commented about her work to Boaz.—Ru 1:22–2:7.
When Boaz extended kindnesses to her, Ruth responded with appreciation and humbly acknowledged being less than one of his maidservants. At mealtime he provided roasted grain for her in such abundance that she had some left over to give to Naomi. (Ru 2:8-14, 18) Though Boaz arranged matters to make it easier for her to glean, Ruth did not quit early but continued to glean until the evening, “after which she beat out what she had gleaned, and it came to be about an ephah [22 L; 20 dry qt] of barley.” Having been requested by Boaz to continue gleaning in his field, Ruth did so during the remainder of the barley harvest, as well as the wheat harvest.—Ru 2:15-23.
Requests That Boaz Act as a Repurchaser. Desiring to find “a resting-place,” or home, for her daughter-in-law, Naomi instructed Ruth to request Boaz to repurchase her. Accordingly, Ruth went down to Boaz’ threshing floor. After Boaz lay down, Ruth quietly approached, uncovered him at his feet, and lay down herself. At midnight, trembling, he awoke and bent forward. Not recognizing her in the dark, he asked: “Who are you?” She replied, “I am Ruth your slave girl, and you must spread out your skirt over your slave girl, for you are a repurchaser.”—Ru 3:1-9.
Ruth’s actions, in compliance with Naomi’s instructions, must have been in line with the customary procedure followed by women when claiming the right to brother-in-law marriage. In Lange’s Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, Paulus Cassel makes this observation regarding Ruth 3:9: “Undoubtedly this symbolical method of claiming the most delicate of all rights, presupposes manners of patriarchal simplicity and virtue. The confidence of the woman reposes itself on the honor of the man. The method, however, was one which could not easily be brought into operation. For every foreknowledge or pre-intimation of it would have torn the veil of silence and secrecy from the modesty of the claimant. But when it was once put into operation, the petition preferred could not be denied without disgrace either to the woman or the man. Hence, we may be sure that Naomi did not send her daughter-in-law on this errand without the fullest confidence that it would prove successful. For it is certain that to all other difficulties, this peculiar one was added in the present case: namely, that Boaz, as Ruth herself says, was indeed a goel [a repurchaser], but not the goel. The answer of Boaz, also, suggests the surmise that such a claim was not wholly unexpected by him. Not that he had an understanding with Naomi, in consequence of which he was alone on the threshing-floor; for the fact that he was startled out of his sleep, shows that the night visit was altogether unlooked for. But the thought that at some time the claim of Ruth to the rights of blood-relationship might be addressed to himself, may not have been strange to him. Even this conjecture, however, of what might possibly or probably take place, could not be used to relieve Ruth of the necessity of manifesting her own free will by means of the symbolical proceeding.”—Translated and edited by P. Schaff, 1976, p. 42.
That Boaz viewed Ruth’s actions as being completely virtuous is evident from his reaction: “Blessed may you be of Jehovah, my daughter. You have expressed your loving-kindness better in the last instance than in the first instance, in not going after the young fellows whether lowly or rich.” Ruth unselfishly chose Boaz, a much older man, because of his being a repurchaser, in order to raise up a name for her deceased husband and her mother-in-law. As it would have been a natural thing for a young woman like Ruth to prefer a younger man, Boaz viewed this as an even better expression of her loving-kindness than her choosing to stick with her aged mother-in-law.—Ru 3:10.
Doubtless Ruth’s voice must have reflected some anxiety, prompting Boaz to reassure her: “Now, my daughter, do not be afraid. All that you say I shall do for you, for everyone in the gate of my people is aware that you are an excellent woman.” The hour being late, Boaz instructed Ruth to lie down. However, both of them got up while it was still dark, evidently to avoid starting any rumor that would cast a bad reflection on either one of them. Boaz also gave Ruth six measures of barley. This may have signified that, just as six working days were followed by a day of rest, Ruth’s day of rest was at hand, for he would see to it that she would have “a resting-place.”—Ru 3:1, 11-15, 17, 18.
Upon Ruth’s arrival, Naomi, perhaps not recognizing the woman seeking admittance in the dark, asked: “Who are you, my daughter?” Or, it may be that this question pertained to Ruth’s possible new identity in relationship to her repurchaser.—Ru 3:16.
Later, when the nearer relative refused to perform brother-in-law marriage, Boaz promptly did so. Thus Ruth became the mother of Boaz’ son Obed and an ancestress of King David and also of Jesus Christ.—Ru 4:1-21; Mt 1:5, 16.


The fourth book of the Pentateuch. It derives its English name from the two numberings of the sons of Israel mentioned therein. It relates events that took place in the region of Mount Sinai, in the wilderness during the course of Israel’s wandering, and on the Plains of Moab. The narrative primarily covers a period of 38 years and 9 months, from 1512 to 1473 B.C.E. (Nu 1:1; De 1:3, 4) Although occurring earlier than the events in the surrounding material, the happenings narrated at Numbers 7:1-88 and 9:1-15 provide background information that forms an essential part of the book.
Writership. The writership of the book of Numbers has from ancient times been attributed to Moses. Ample evidence in the book itself confirms this. There is no hint of any other life than that experienced by Israel in Egypt and then in the wilderness. In commenting about the time Hebron was built, the writer used the Egyptian city of Zoan as a reference point. (Nu 13:22) The age of Zoan would reasonably be common knowledge to a man like Moses, who “was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.”—Ac 7:22.
Certain commands recorded in the book of Numbers are unique to the circumstances of a nation on the move. These include the prescribed tribal encampments (Nu 1:52, 53), the order of march (2:9, 16, 17, 24, 31), and the trumpet signals for convening the assembly and for breaking camp (10:2-6). Also, the law concerning quarantine is worded to fit camp life. (5:2-4) Various other commands are stated in such a way as to call for a future application when the Israelites would be residing in the Promised Land. Among these are: the use of trumpets for sounding war calls (10:9), the setting aside of 48 cities for the Levites (35:2-8), the action to be taken against idolatry and the inhabitants of Canaan (33:50-56), the selection of six cities of refuge, instructions for handling cases of persons claiming to be accidental manslayers (35:9-33), and laws involving inheritance and marriage of heiresses (27:8-11; 36:5-9).
Additionally, the recording of the Israelite encampments is definitely ascribed to Moses (Nu 33:2), and the concluding words of the book of Numbers also point to him as the writer of the account.—36:13.
Authenticity. The authenticity of the book is established beyond any doubt. Outstanding is its candor. Wrong conduct and defeat are not concealed. (Nu 11:1-5, 10, 32-35; 14:2, 11, 45) Even the transgressions of Moses himself, his brother Aaron, his sister Miriam, and his nephews Nadab and Abihu are exposed. (3:3, 4; 12:1-15; 20:2-13) Repeatedly, happenings recorded in the book are recounted in the Psalms (78:14-41; 95:7-11; 105:40, 41; 106:13-33; 135:10, 11; 136:16-20). By their allusions to major events and other details in Numbers, Joshua (4:12; 14:2), Jeremiah (2Ki 18:4), Nehemiah (9:19-22), David (Ps 95:7-11), Isaiah (48:21), Ezekiel (20:13-24), Hosea (9:10), Amos (5:25), Micah (6:5), the Christian martyr Stephen (Ac 7:36), the apostles Paul (1Co 10:1-11) and Peter (2Pe 2:15, 16), the disciple Jude (vs 11), and the Son of God (Joh 3:14; Re 2:14) showed that they accepted this record as part of God’s inspired Word. There is also Balaam’s prophecy regarding the star that would step forth out of Jacob, which had its initial fulfillment when David became king and thereafter subdued the Moabites and Edomites.—Nu 24:15-19; 2Sa 8:2, 13, 14.
Value. The book of Numbers forcefully illustrates the importance of obedience to Jehovah, respect for him and his servants, the need for faith and guarding against ungodly men (Nu 13:25–14:38; 22:7, 8, 22; 26:9, 10; Heb 3:7–4:11; 2Pe 2:12-16; Jude 11; Re 2:14), not faithlessly putting Jehovah to the test (Nu 21:5, 6; 1Co 10:9), as well as refraining from murmuring (Nu 14:2, 36, 37; 16:1-3, 41; 17:5, 10; 1Co 10:10, 11) and sexual immorality (Nu 25:1-9; 31:16; 1Co 10:6, 8). Jehovah’s dealings with Israel give evidence of his great power, mercy, and loving-kindness, as well as his being slow to anger, though not withholding punishment when deserving. (Nu 14:17-20) Further, the position and ministry of Moses (Nu 12:7; Heb 3:2-6), the miraculous provision of water from the rock-mass (Nu 20:7-11; 1Co 10:4), the lifting up of the copper serpent (Nu 21:8, 9; Joh 3:14, 15), and the water of cleansing (Nu 19:2-22; Heb 9:13, 14) provided prophetic pictures that were fulfilled in Christ Jesus.
The account provides background material that illuminates other scriptures. It shows on what basis Judean King Hezekiah was able to arrange the Passover on Ziv (Iyyar) 14, instead of Nisan (Abib) 14. (Nu 9:10, 11; 2Ch 30:15) The full discussion of Naziriteship (Nu 6:2-21) explains why Samson and Samuel were not to have their hair cut (Jg 13:4, 5; 1Sa 1:11) and why John the Baptizer was not to drink intoxicating beverages. (Lu 1:15) For additional examples, compare Numbers 2:18-23 and Psalm 80:2; Numbers 15:38 and Matthew 23:5; Numbers 17:8-10 and Hebrews 9:4; Numbers 18:26 and Hebrews 7:5-9; Numbers 18:31 and 1 Corinthians 9:13, 14; Numbers 28:9, 10 and Matthew 12:5.
[Box on page 514]
  A historical narrative that demonstrates how vital it is to obey Jehovah under all circumstances and to respect his representatives
  Covers events during most of the time Israel was in the wilderness en route to the Promised Land
The tribes of Israel are registered and organized
  About a year after the Exodus from Egypt, all Israelite males 20 years old and over are registered, with the exception of the Levites (1:1-49)
  Each three-tribe division is assigned a place to camp and a position in the order of march (2:1-34)
  The Levites are set apart to assist the priests; all Levites over a month old are registered; they are taken by Jehovah in exchange for the firstborn of the other tribes (3:1-51)
  The male offspring of Kohath, Gershon, and Merari, the three sons of Levi, from 30 to 50 years of age are numbered and given service assignments (4:1-49)
  Another census is taken of the Israelites shortly before they enter the Promised Land (26:1-65)
Israelites receive divine commands regarding their worship and their dealings with one another
  Requirements are set out for Nazirites (6:1-21)
  The Passover is observed; provision is made so that anyone unclean or on a distant journey can observe it a month after Nisan 14 (9:1-14)
  Various regulations are given involving the duties and the privileges of priests and Levites, including the preparation of the water for cleansing and its uses (18:1–19:22)
  The offerings are listed that must be presented each day, each Sabbath, at the start of each month, during festivals, and during the seventh month (28:1–29:40)
  Jehovah’s commands governing vows are recorded (30:1-16)
  Guilty ones must confess and compensate the wronged party (5:5-8)
  A procedure is established for handling cases when a wife is suspected of secret adultery (5:11-31)
  Arrangements are made for six cities of refuge (35:9-34)
Israelites manifest a lack of appreciation for Jehovah’s provisions, and they disobey his commands
  The people complain about eating manna and long for meat; when Jehovah provides quail, many act with extreme greed and are punished with death (11:4-34)
  They believe the bad report of the ten fearful spies and want to return to Egypt; Moses has to intercede for them (13:1–14:19)
  When that rebellious generation is sentenced to wander and die in the wilderness, the people attempt to enter the Promised Land without Jehovah’s blessing, and they suffer a military defeat (14:26-45)
There is a failure to respect Jehovah’s visible representatives
  Miriam and Aaron speak out against Moses; Jehovah strikes Miriam with leprosy (12:1-15)
  Korah, Dathan, Abiram, On, and 250 chieftains range themselves against Moses and Aaron; Jehovah executes the rebels, and this gives rise to further murmuring; 14,700 more die (16:1-50)
  At Kadesh, the Israelites complain bitterly against Moses and Aaron because of a water shortage; when Jehovah miraculously supplies water, Moses and Aaron fail to sanctify Jehovah’s name and thus lose the privilege of entering the Promised Land (20:1-13)
  The Israelites tire out and speak against Jehovah and Moses; they are plagued by serpents, and many die; Moses intercedes for the people, and anyone bitten can be saved by gazing at a copper serpent (21:4-9)
Jehovah blesses Israel but insists on exclusive devotion as the nation prepares to enter Canaan
  Jehovah gives Israel victory over the king of Arad (21:1-3)
  Israel defeats Sihon and Og, taking possession of their land (21:21-35)
  Balak hires Balaam to curse the Israelites; Jehovah forces him to bless Israel instead (22:2–24:25)
  Moabite women lure Israelite men into idolatry and fornication; 24,000 are killed for thus falling into apostasy; Jehovah relents when Phinehas tolerates no rivalry toward Him (25:1-18)


The Hebrew name of this fifth book of the Pentateuch is Deva·rim´ (Words), drawn from the opening phrase in the Hebrew text. The name “Deuteronomy” comes from the Septuagint Greek title Deu·te·ro·no´mi·on, literally meaning “Second Law; Repetition of the Law.” This comes from the Greek rendering of a Hebrew phrase in Deuteronomy 17:18, mish·neh´ hat·toh·rah´, correctly rendered ‘copy of the law.’
The authenticity of Deuteronomy as a book of the Bible canon and the writership of Moses are well established by the fact that Deuteronomy has always been considered by the Jews as a part of the Law of Moses. The evidence for the authenticity of Deuteronomy is, in general, the same as that for the other four books of the Pentateuch. (See PENTATEUCH; also books under individual names.) Jesus is the foremost authority for the authenticity of Deuteronomy, quoting from it three times in turning away the temptations of Satan the Devil. (Mt 4:1-11; De 6:13, 16; 8:3) Also, Jesus answered the question as to what was the greatest and first commandment by quoting from Deuteronomy 6:5. (Mr 12:30) And Paul quotes from Deuteronomy 30:12-14; 32:35, 36.—Ro 10:6-8; Heb 10:30.
The time covered by the book of Deuteronomy is somewhat over two months in the year 1473 B.C.E. It was written on the Plains of Moab and consists of four discourses, a song, and a blessing by Moses as Israel camped on Canaan’s borders prior to entering the land.—De 1:3; Jos 1:11; 4:19.
Purpose. Despite the meaning of the name Deuteronomy, this book is not a second law nor a repetition of the entire Law but, rather, an explanation of it, as Deuteronomy 1:5 says. It exhorts Israel to faithfulness to Jehovah, using the generation of the 40 years’ wandering as an example to avoid. Moses explains and elaborates on some of the essential points of the Law and the principles therein, with a view to the altered circumstances of Israel when they would be settled permanently in the land. He adjusts some of the laws accordingly and gives further regulations concerning the administration of government in their settled condition in the Promised Land.
In exhorting them and calling on them to enter into this renewed covenant with Jehovah through Moses, the book of Deuteronomy places the emphasis strikingly on knowledge, teaching, and instruction. The words “teach,” “teaching,” and “taught” occur much more often in Deuteronomy than in Exodus, Leviticus, or Numbers. Moses explained that Jehovah was teaching Israel by feeding them with manna. (De 8:3) He told the Israelites to place Jehovah’s law, figuratively speaking, as frontlets between their eyes and on the doorposts of their houses and on their gates. (6:8, 9) He commanded them to inculcate his law in their sons. (6:6, 7) Instructions were given to read the Law every seventh year, during the time of the (annual) Festival of Booths. (31:10-13) Special instructions were given for the king that Israel might have in the future. He was to write a copy of the Law for himself and read in it every day. (17:18-20) Each time Israel went out to battle, the priests were to admonish the people to faith and courage and to assure them of victory, for Jehovah their God was marching with them. (20:1-4) When they should enter the Promised Land, they were to divide the tribes into two groups, with one group on Mount Ebal and the other on Mount Gerizim, and then they were to have God’s Law read to them.—27:11-26; compare Jos 8:33-35.
Love Highlighted. Love, kindness, and consideration are also highlighted in Deuteronomy. The word “love” itself, either as a noun or as a form of the verb, occurs more than five times as often in Deuteronomy as in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers combined. Here we also have the greatest commandment, to which Jesus referred (Mt 22:36, 37), uniquely stated: “You must love Jehovah your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your vital force.” (De 6:5; see also 10:12; 11:13.) Jehovah repeatedly expresses his love for Israel. (7:7-9; 23:5; 33:3) The very tone of Deuteronomy highlights Jehovah’s love for his people: “If only they would develop this heart of theirs to fear me and to keep all my commandments always, in order that it might go well with them and their sons to time indefinite!” (5:29) In fact, we find such expressions as “that it may go well with you” and “that you may keep alive” time and again in Deuteronomy.—4:40; 5:16; 6:3; 22:7; 30:19, 20.
Even though warfare was ahead of Israel in taking the land, Jehovah did not overlook loving consideration. Victory was not so important or urgent that ruthless demands were to be made. An engaged man was exempt. (De 20:7) Exemption was made for a newly married man, so that he could cherish his wife and she have her husband for at least a full year. (24:5) If a man planted a vineyard and had not eaten the fruit of it or built a house and had not inaugurated it, he was excused from warfare so that he might enjoy the fruits of his labors.—20:5, 6.
Explicit details were given with respect to waging war and taking the land of Canaan. The fearful were to be sent home, lest they make the hearts of their brothers also weak. (De 20:8) The cities of the specified nations of Canaan whose wickedness had come to the full were to be devoted to destruction without fail, but the cities not of these specified nations were to be given the alternative of surrender or destruction. If they surrendered, they were to be put to forced labor, but the Law required that even slaves be treated with kindness, and its commandments protected the women from being molested even in cities taken in war. In cases of cities that refused to surrender, all the males were put to death, only the little children and the women who had not had relations with men being spared. (20:10-18; compare Nu 31:17, 18.) In building siegeworks around a city, the Israelites were not permitted to cut down fruit trees.—De 20:19, 20.
Animals were also given loving consideration in the book of Deuteronomy. The Israelites were prohibited from taking a bird sitting on a nest, for it was the protective instinct for her offspring that made her vulnerable. She was allowed to escape, but the young could be claimed by the Israelites for themselves. The mother was thus free to raise more young. (De 22:6, 7) The farmer was not permitted to hitch an ass with a bull, to prevent hardship on the weaker animal. (22:10) The bull was not to be muzzled while threshing the grain so that he would not be tormented with hunger while grain was so close at hand and he was exerting his energy in work to thresh it.—25:4.
In family and social life consideration was shown. The firstborn son was to receive the double portion, regardless of whether he was the son of the favorite wife or not. (De 21:15-17) Brother-in-law marriage was stated as a law for the first time, and penalties were outlined in order to give it force. (25:5-10) Honest weights and measures were mandated. (25:13-16) The value of life was stressed by the command to build a parapet around the roof of a house. (22:8) Consideration even for the wrongdoer that was to be given strokes was indicated by the Law that limited the strokes to 40. (25:1-3) All these regulations gave more detail to the Law, while also showing great consideration. At the same time there was more strictness.
Warnings and Laws. Deuteronomy is filled with warnings against false worship and unfaithfulness as well as instructions on how to deal with it so that pure worship might be preserved. The exhortation to holiness was an outstanding thing in Deuteronomy. The Israelites were admonished not to intermarry with the nations round about, because this would present a threat to pure worship and loyalty to Jehovah. (De 7:3, 4) They were warned against materialism and self-righteousness. (8:11-18; 9:4-6) Strong laws were made regarding apostasy. They were to watch themselves so that they would not turn to other gods. (11:16, 17) They were warned against false prophets. Instructions were given in two places as to how to identify a false prophet and how he should be dealt with. (13:1-5; 18:20-22) Even if a member of one’s own family should become apostate, the family was not to have pity but was to share in stoning such a one to death.—13:6-11.
Cities of Israel that turned apostate were to be devoted to destruction, and nothing was to be preserved for personal benefit by anyone. The city was never to be rebuilt. (De 13:12-17) Delinquents whose parents could not control them were to be stoned to death.—21:18-21.
Holiness and freedom from bloodguilt were emphasized by the law concerning the way to handle an unsolved murder. (De 21:1-9) Indicative of the zeal for pure worship, Deuteronomy contained regulations as to who could become a member of Jehovah’s congregation and when. No illegitimate son to the tenth generation, no Moabite or Ammonite to time indefinite, and no eunuch could be admitted. However, Egyptians and Edomites of the third generation could become members of the congregation.—23:1-8.
Deuteronomy outlines the judicial arrangement for Israel when settled in the Promised Land. It sets forth the qualifications for judges and the arrangement of courts in the city gates, with the sanctuary as the supreme court of the land, whose judgments were to be followed by all Israel.—De 16:18–17:13.
Deuteronomy emphasizes Jehovah’s position as the unique God (De 6:4), Israel’s position as his unique people (4:7, 8), and the establishment of one central place of worship (12:4-7). It foretells the one who would be raised up as a prophet like Moses and who would speak in Jehovah’s name, one to whom all must be subject.—18:18, 19.
[Box on page 619]
  Discourses explaining portions of the Law and exhorting Israel to love and obey Jehovah in the land that they were about to enter
  Written by Moses just before Israel entered the Promised Land in 1473 B.C.E.
Exhortation to remember what Jehovah has done and to serve only him (1:1–4:49)
  Moses recalls the sending out of spies, the faithless and rebellious response to their report, Jehovah’s oath that that generation would die in the wilderness
  Israel was not to molest the sons of Esau (descended from Jacob’s brother) or Moab and Ammon (offspring of Abraham’s nephew Lot); but Jehovah gave Israel the land held by Amorite Kings Sihon and Og, E of the Jordan
  Moses begs Jehovah to let him cross the Jordan; instead, Jehovah tells him to commission and strengthen Joshua to lead the nation
  Moses reminds nation of Jehovah’s burning anger regarding Baal of Peor; must not forget what they witnessed in Horeb, never make a carved image for worship; Jehovah, the only true God, exacts exclusive devotion
Admonition to love Jehovah and to obey all of his commandments (5:1–26:19)
  Moses recounts giving of the Law at Horeb, restates the Ten Words, urges Israel to do just as Jehovah commanded
  Must love Jehovah with all one’s heart, soul, and vital force; God’s commands to be kept constantly before them; should explain to their sons the reason for Jehovah’s regulations
  Seven nations to be destroyed out of the land, along with their altars and images; no marriage alliances with them
  Should not forget how God dealt with them in the wilderness so as to make them know that man lives not by bread alone but by every expression of Jehovah’s mouth
  Must remember how they provoked Jehovah by making molten calf; now should fear, serve, and cling to him; keep the whole commandment
  Regulations to be obeyed in Promised Land: Wipe out false religion of Canaan; worship at the place that Jehovah chooses; do not eat blood; put apostates to death; eat clean food; give tenth of produce to Jehovah; show consideration for the poor; keep annual festivals; pursue justice; shun spiritism; listen to the one Jehovah raises up as prophet; respect boundary marks; keep land clean from bloodguilt; show compassion; keep clean from sexual immorality; give the firstfruits of the land to Jehovah; prove holy to Jehovah
Blessings for obeying Jehovah, curses for disobedience (27:1–28:68)
  After nation crosses the Jordan, the Law is to be written on great stones
  Cursings for disobedience to be pronounced on Mount Ebal
  Blessings for obedience to all of Jehovah’s commands to be pronounced on Mount Gerizim
Covenant made on Plains of Moab (29:1–30:20)
  Recounts Jehovah’s care in Egypt and during Israel’s 40 years in the wilderness; warns against stubborn disobedience
  Foretells Jehovah’s mercy for those repenting
  Sets before them choice between life and death; urges them to choose life by loving Jehovah, listening to his voice, and sticking to him
Transfer of leadership to Joshua, and Moses’ final blessings (31:1–34:12)
  Joshua is commissioned to lead Israel
  Moses teaches Israel a song that will be a witness against them when they forsake Jehovah
  Moses blesses the tribes of Israel, then he dies on Mount Nebo


The third book of the Pentateuch, containing laws from God on sacrifices, purity, and other matters connected with Jehovah’s worship. The Levitical priesthood, carrying out its instructions, rendered sacred service in “a typical representation and a shadow of the heavenly things.”—Heb 8:3-5; 10:1.
Period Covered. Not more than a month is covered by the events given in the book. Most of Leviticus is devoted to listing Jehovah’s ordinances rather than recounting various happenings over an extended period of time. The tabernacle’s erection on the first day of the first month in the second year of Israel’s departure from Egypt is mentioned in the final chapter of Exodus, the book preceding Leviticus. (Ex 40:17) Then, the book of Numbers (immediately following the Leviticus account) in its first verses (1:1-3) begins with God’s command to take a census, stated to Moses “on the first day of the second month in the second year of their coming out of the land of Egypt.”
When and Where Written. The logical time for the writing of the book would be 1512 B.C.E., at Sinai in the wilderness. Testifying that Leviticus was indeed written in the wilderness are its references that reflect camp life.—Le 4:21; 10:4, 5; 14:8; 17:1-5.
Writer. All the foregoing evidence likewise helps to identify the writer as Moses. He received the information from Jehovah (Le 26:46), and the book’s closing words are: “These are the commandments that Jehovah gave Moses as commands to the sons of Israel in Mount Sinai.” (27:34) Besides, Leviticus is a part of the Pentateuch, the writer of which is generally acknowledged to be Moses. Not only does the opening “And . . . ” of Leviticus indicate its connection with Exodus, and therefore with the rest of the Pentateuch, but the way in which Jesus Christ and the writers of the Christian Scriptures refer to it shows that they knew it to be the writing of Moses and an unquestionable part of the Pentateuch. For example, see Christ’s reference to Leviticus 14:1-32 (Mt 8:2-4), Luke’s reference to Leviticus 12:2-4, 8 (Lu 2:22-24), and Paul’s paraphrasing of Leviticus 18:5 (Ro 10:5).
Dead Sea Leviticus Scrolls. Among the manuscripts found at the Dead Sea, nine contain fragments of the book of Leviticus. Four of them, believed to date from 125 to 75 B.C.E., were written in ancient Hebrew characters that were in use before the Babylonian exile.
Value of the Book. God promised Israel that if they obeyed his voice they would become to him “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Ex 19:6) The book of Leviticus contains a record of God’s installing a priesthood for his nation and giving them the statutes that would enable them to maintain holiness in his eyes. Even though Israel was only God’s typical “holy nation,” whose priests were “rendering sacred service in a typical representation and a shadow of the heavenly things” (Heb 8:4, 5), God’s law, if obeyed, would have kept them clean and in line for filling the membership of his spiritual “royal priesthood, a holy nation.” (1Pe 2:9) But the disobedience of the majority deprived Israel of filling exclusively the place of membership in the Kingdom of God, as Jesus told the Jews. (Mt 21:43) Nevertheless, the laws set down in the book of Leviticus were of inestimable value to those heeding them.
Through the sanitary and dietary laws, as well as the regulations on sexual morality, they were provided with safeguards against disease and depravity. (Le chaps 11-15, 18) Especially, however, did these laws benefit them spiritually, because they enabled them to get acquainted with Jehovah’s holy and righteous ways and they helped them to conform to His ways. (11:44) Furthermore, the regulations set out in this portion of the Bible, as part of the Law, served as a tutor leading believing ones to Jesus Christ, God’s great High Priest and the one foreshadowed by the countless sacrifices offered in accord with the Law.—Ga 3:19, 24; Heb 7:26-28; 9:11-14; 10:1-10.
The book of Leviticus continues to be of great value to all today who desire to serve Jehovah acceptably. A study of the fulfillment of its various features in connection with Jesus Christ, the ransom sacrifice, and the Christian congregation is indeed faith strengthening. While it is true that Christians are not under the Law covenant (Heb 7:11, 12, 19; 8:13; 10:1), the regulations set out in the book of Leviticus give them insight into God’s viewpoint on matters. The book is, therefore, not a mere recounting of dry, inapplicable details, but a live source of information. By getting a knowledge of how God views various matters, some of which are not specifically covered in the Christian Greek Scriptures, the Christian can be helped to avoid what displeases God and to do what pleases him.
[Box on page 243]
  God’s laws, especially  concerning the service of the priests in Israel, with emphasis, for the benefit of the nation as a whole, on the seriousness of sin and the importance of being holy because Jehovah is holy
  Written by Moses in 1512 B.C.E., while Israel was camped at Mount Sinai
Aaronic priesthood is installed and begins to function
  Moses carries out the seven-day installation procedure (8:1-36)
  On the eighth day, the priesthood begins to function; Jehovah manifests his approval by displaying his glory and consuming the offering on the altar (9:1-24)
  Jehovah strikes down Nadab and Abihu for offering illegitimate fire; subsequently the use of alcoholic drinks when one is serving at the sanctuary is forbidden (10:1-11)
  Requirements are outlined for those who will serve as priests; regulations are laid down about eating what is holy (21:1–22:16)
Use of sacrifices in maintaining an approved relationship with God
  Laws are given regarding animals acceptable as burnt offerings and how they should be prepared for presentation (1:1-17; 6:8-13; 7:8)
  Kinds of grain offerings are stipulated as well as how they are to be presented to Jehovah (2:1-16; 6:14-18; 7:9, 10)
  Procedure is laid down for handling communion sacrifices; the eating of blood and fat is forbidden (3:1-17; 7:11-36)
  Animals are specified for sin offering in the case of a priest, the assembly of Israel, a chieftain, or one of the people; procedure for handling this offering is outlined (4:1-35; 6:24-30)
  Laws are given on situations requiring guilt offerings (5:1–6:7; 7:1-7)
  Instructions are handed down regarding the offering to be made on the day of the priest’s being anointed (6:19-23)
  All offerings must be sound; defects making an animal unfit for sacrifice are listed (22:17-33)
  Atonement Day procedures are outlined involving the sacrifice of a bull and two goats—one goat for Jehovah and the other for Azazel (16:2-34)
Detailed regulations to safeguard against uncleanness and to maintain holiness
  Certain animals are acceptable as clean for food and others are prohibited as unclean; uncleanness results from contact with dead bodies (11:1-47)
  A woman should be purified from her uncleanness after giving birth (12:1-8)
  Procedures for handling cases of leprosy are detailed (13:1–14:57)
  Uncleanness results from sexual discharges, and purification is required (15:1-33)
  Holiness must be maintained by respecting sanctity of blood and by shunning incest, sodomy, bestiality, slander, spiritism, and other detestable practices (17:1–20:27)
Sabbaths and seasonal festivals to Jehovah
  Sabbath days and years as well as regulations and principles touching the Jubilee are laid down (23:1-3; 25:1-55)
  The manner of observing the annual Festival of Unfermented Cakes (following Passover) and the Festival of Weeks (later called Pentecost) is detailed (23:4-21)
  The procedure for observing the Day of Atonement and the Festival of Booths is outlined (23:26-44)
Blessings for obedience, maledictions for disobedience
  Blessings for obedience will include bountiful harvests, peace, and security (26:3-13)
  Maledictions because of disobedience will include disease, defeat by enemies, famine, destruction of cities, desolation of land, and exile (26:14-45)


The deliverance of the nation of Israel from bondage to Egypt. Jehovah spoke to Abraham (before 1933 B.C.E.), after promising that Abraham’s seed would inherit the land, and said: “You may know for sure that your seed will become an alien resident in a land not theirs, and they will have to serve them, and these will certainly afflict them for four hundred years. But the nation that they will serve I am judging, and after that they will go out with many goods. . . . But in the fourth generation they will return here, because the error of the Amorites has not yet come to completion.”—Ge 15:13-16.
It is clear that the beginning of the 400-year period of affliction had to await the appearance of the promised “seed.” While Abraham had earlier visited Egypt during a time of famine in Canaan and had experienced some difficulties with the Pharaoh there, he was then childless. (Ge 12:10-20) Not long after God’s statement about the 400 years of affliction, when Abraham was 86 years old (in the year 1932 B.C.E.), his Egyptian slave girl and concubine bore him a son, Ishmael. But it was 14 years later (1918 B.C.E.) that Abraham’s free wife Sarah bore him a son, Isaac, and God designated this son as the one by means of whom the promised Seed would result. Still, God’s time had not yet arrived for giving Abraham or his seed the land of Canaan, and so they were, as foretold, ‘alien residents in a land not theirs.’—Ge 16:15, 16; 21:2-5; Heb 11:13.
Time of the Exodus. When, therefore, did the 400 years of affliction begin, and when did it end? Jewish tradition reckons the count from Isaac’s birth. But the actual evidence of affliction first came on the day that Isaac was weaned. Evidence points to 1913 B.C.E., when Isaac was about 5 years old and Ishmael about 19, as the date of the start of affliction. It was then that Ishmael “the one born in the manner of flesh began persecuting the one born in the manner of spirit.” (Ga 4:29) Ishmael, who was part Egyptian, in jealousy and hatred, began “poking fun” at Isaac, the young child, this amounting to much more than a mere children’s quarrel. (Ge 21:9) Other translations describe Ishmael’s action as “mocking.” (Yg; Ro, ftn) The affliction of Abraham’s seed continued on during Isaac’s life. While Jehovah blessed Isaac as a grown man, he was nevertheless persecuted by the inhabitants of Canaan and forced to move from place to place because of the difficulties they brought against him. (Ge 26:19-24, 27) Eventually, during the later years of the life of Isaac’s son Jacob, the foretold “seed” came into Egypt to reside. In time they came into a state of slavery.
By what internal evidence does the Bible fix the date of Israel’s Exodus from Egypt?
The 400-year period of affliction thus ran from 1913 B.C.E. until 1513 B.C.E. It was also a period of grace, or of divine toleration, allowed the Canaanites, a principal tribe of whom were Amorites. By this latter date their error would come to completion; they would clearly merit complete ejection from the land. As the preliminary step toward such ejection, God would turn his attention to his people in Egypt, setting them free from bondage and starting them on the way back to the Promised Land.—Ge 15:13-16.
The 430-year period. Another line of calculation is provided in the statement at Exodus 12:40, 41: “And the dwelling of the sons of Israel, who had dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. And it came about at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, it even came about on this very day that all the armies of Jehovah went out of the land of Egypt.” The footnote on Exodus 12:40 says regarding the expression “who had dwelt”: “In Heb[rew] this verb is pl[ural]. The relative pronoun ´asher´, ‘who,’ can apply to the ‘sons of Israel’ rather than to the ‘dwelling.’” The Greek Septuagint renders verse 40: “But the dwelling of the sons of Israel which they dwelt in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan [was] four hundred and thirty years long.” The Samaritan Pentateuch reads: “. . . in the land of Canaan and in the land of Egypt.” All these renderings indicate that the 430-year period covers a longer period of time than the dwelling of the Israelites in Egypt.
The apostle Paul shows that this 430-year period (at Ex 12:40) began at the time of the validation of the Abrahamic covenant and ended with the Exodus. Paul says: “Further, I say this: As to the [Abrahamic] covenant previously validated by God, the Law that has come into being four hundred and thirty years later [in the same year as the Exodus] does not invalidate it, so as to abolish the promise. . . . whereas God has kindly given it to Abraham through a promise.”—Ga 3:16-18.
How long was it, then, from the validation of the Abrahamic covenant until the Israelites moved into Egypt? At Genesis 12:4, 5 we find that Abraham was 75 years old when he left Haran and crossed the Euphrates on his way to Canaan, at which time the Abrahamic covenant, the promise previously made to him in Ur of the Chaldeans, took effect. Then, from the genealogical references at Genesis 12:4; 21:5; 25:26; and Jacob’s statement at Genesis 47:9, it can be seen that 215 years elapsed between the validation of the Abrahamic covenant and the move of Jacob with his family into Egypt. This would show that the Israelites actually lived in Egypt 215 years (1728-1513 B.C.E.). The figure harmonizes with other chronological data.
From Exodus to temple building. Two other chronological statements harmonize with and substantiate this viewpoint. Solomon began the building of the temple in his fourth year of kingship (1034 B.C.E.), and this is stated at 1 Kings 6:1 to be “the four hundred and eightieth year” from the time of the Exodus (1513 B.C.E.).
‘About 450 years.’ Then there is Paul’s speech to an audience in Antioch of Pisidia recorded at Acts 13:17-20 in which he refers to a period of “about four hundred and fifty years.” His discussion of Israelite history begins with the time God “chose our forefathers,” that is, from the time that Isaac was actually born to be the seed of promise (1918 B.C.E.). (Isaac’s birth definitely settled the question, which had been in doubt because of Sarah’s barrenness, as to whom God would recognize as the seed.) From this starting point Paul then goes on to recount God’s acts in behalf of his chosen nation down to the time when God “gave them judges until Samuel the prophet.” The period of “about four hundred and fifty years,” therefore, evidently extends from Isaac’s birth in 1918 B.C.E. down to the year 1467 B.C.E., or 46 years after the Exodus of 1513 B.C.E. (40 years being spent in the wilderness wandering and 6 years in conquering the land of Canaan). (De 2:7; Nu 9:1; 13:1, 2, 6; Jos 14:6, 7, 10) This makes a total number that clearly fits the apostle’s round figure of “about four hundred and fifty years.” Both these chronological references therefore support the year 1513 B.C.E. as the year of the Exodus and harmonize as well with the Bible chronology concerning the kings and judges of Israel.—See CHRONOLOGY (From 1943 B.C.E. to the Exodus).
Other views. This date for the Exodus, 1513 B.C.E., and consequently the Israelite invasion of Canaan and the fall of Jericho in 1473 B.C.E., 40 years after the Exodus, has been considered far too early by some critics, who would place these events as late as the 14th or even the 13th century B.C.E. However, while some archaeologists place the fall of Jericho down in the 13th century B.C.E., they do so, not on the basis of any ancient historical documents or testimony to that effect, but on the basis of pottery finds. Such calculation of time periods by pottery is obviously very speculative, and this is demonstrated by the research at Jericho. The findings there have produced contradictory conclusions and datings on the part of the archaeologists.—See ARCHAEOLOGY (Differences in dating); CHRONOLOGY (Archaeological Dating).
Similarly with the Egyptologists, the differences among them in dating the dynasties of Egypt have amounted to centuries, making their dates unusable for any specific period. For this reason it is impossible to name with confidence the particular Pharaoh of the Exodus, some saying it was Thutmose III, others Amenhotep II, Ramses II, and so forth, but on very shaky foundations in each case.
Authenticity of the Exodus Account. An objection against the Exodus account has been that the Pharaohs of Egypt did not make any record of the Exodus. However, this is not unusual, for kings of more modern times have recorded only their victories and not their defeats and have often tried to erase anything historical that is contrary to their personal or nationalistic image or to the ideology they are trying to inculcate in their people. Even in recent times rulers have tried to obliterate the works and reputations of their predecessors. Anything regarded as embarrassing or distasteful was left out of Egyptian inscriptions or effaced as soon as possible. An example is the chiseling away by her successor, Thutmose III, of the name and representation of Queen Hatshepsut on a stone monumental record uncovered at Deir al-Bahri in Egypt.—See Archaeology and Bible History, by J. P. Free, 1964, p. 98 and photograph opposite p. 94.
Manetho, an Egyptian priest who evidently hated the Jews, wrote in the Greek language about 280 B.C.E. The Jewish historian Josephus quotes Manetho as saying that the ancestors of the Jews “entered Egypt in their myriads and subdued the inhabitants,” and then Josephus says that Manetho “goes on to admit that they were afterwards driven out of the country, occupied what is now Judaea, founded Jerusalem, and built the temple.”—Against Apion, I, 228 (26).
While Manetho’s account is in general very unhistorical, the significant fact is that he mentions the Jews as being in Egypt and as going out, and in further writings, according to Josephus, he identifies Moses with Osarsiph, an Egyptian priest, indicating that, even though Egyptian monuments do not record the fact, the Jews were in Egypt and Moses was their leader. Josephus speaks of another Egyptian historian, Chaeremon, who says that Joseph and Moses were driven out of Egypt at the same time; also Josephus mentions a Lysimachus who tells a similar story.—Against Apion, I, 228, 238 (26); 288, 290 (32); 299 (33); 304-311 (34).
The Number Involved in the Exodus. At Exodus 12:37, the round number of 600,000 “able-bodied men on foot” besides “little ones” is given. In the actual census taken about a year after the Exodus, as recorded at Numbers 1:2, 3, 45, 46, they numbered 603,550 males from 20 years old upward besides the Levites (Nu 2:32, 33), of whom there were 22,000 males from a month old upward. (Nu 3:39) The Hebrew term geva·rim´ (able-bodied men) does not include women. (Compare Jer 30:6.) “Little ones” is from the Hebrew taph and refers to one walking with tripping steps. (Compare Isa 3:16.) Most of these “little ones” would have had to be carried or at least could not have marched the full length of the journey.
“In the fourth generation.” We must remember that Jehovah told Abraham that in the fourth generation his descendants would return to Canaan. (Ge 15:16) In the entire 430 years from the time when the Abrahamic covenant took effect to the Exodus there were more than four generations, even considering the long life spans that they enjoyed during that time, according to the record. But it was only 215 years that the Israelites were actually in Egypt. The ‘four generations’ following their entering Egypt can be calculated in this way, using as an example just one tribe of Israel, the tribe of Levi: (1) Levi, (2) Kohath, (3) Amram, and (4) Moses.—Ex 6:16, 18, 20.
The number coming up out of Egypt, namely, 600,000 able-bodied men besides women and children, would mean that there could have been more than three million persons. This, though disputed by some, is not at all unreasonable. For, while there were only four generations from Levi to Eleazar or from Levi to Moses, when viewed from the standpoint of the life span of these long-lived men, each of these men could have seen several generations or several sets of children born during his lifetime. Even at the present time a man 60 or 70 years old often has grandchildren and may even have great-grandchildren (thus four generations living contemporaneously).
Extraordinary increase. The account reports: “And the sons of Israel became fruitful and began to swarm; and they kept on multiplying and growing mightier at a very extraordinary rate, so that the land got to be filled with them.” (Ex 1:7) In fact, they became so many that the king of Egypt said: “Look! The people of the sons of Israel are more numerous and mightier than we are.” “But the more they would oppress them, the more they would multiply and the more they kept spreading abroad, so that they felt a sickening dread as a result of the sons of Israel.” (Ex 1:9, 12) Also, when we realize that polygamy, with concubinage, was practiced and that some Israelites married Egyptian women, it becomes evident how the increase to the point of having an adult male population of 600,000 could have occurred.
Seventy souls of Jacob’s immediate household went down into Egypt or were born there shortly thereafter. (Ge 46) If we exclude Jacob himself, his 12 sons, his daughter Dinah, his granddaughter Serah, the three sons of Levi, and possibly others from the number of family heads who began to multiply in Egypt, we might be left with only 50 of the 70. (Levi’s sons are excluded inasmuch as the Levites were not numbered among the later 603,550 figure.) Starting, then, with the very conservative figure of 50 family heads and taking into consideration the Bible’s statement that “the sons of Israel became fruitful and began to swarm; and they kept on multiplying and growing mightier at a very extraordinary rate, so that the land got to be filled with them” (Ex 1:7), we can easily demonstrate how 600,000 men of military age, between 20 and 50 years old, could be living at the time of the Exodus. Consider the following:
In view of the large families then and the desire of the Israelites to have children to fulfill God’s promise, it is not unreasonable in our calculation to count each male family head as bringing forth ten children (about half being boys), on the average, during the period of life between 20 and 40 years of age. For conservativeness, we might view each of the original 50 who became family heads as not beginning to father children until 25 years after their entry into Egypt. And, since death or other circumstances could prevent some male children from ever becoming productive children, or could interrupt their child-producing before their reaching the limit of 40 years we have set, we might also reduce by 20 percent the number of males born who became fathers. Put simply, this means that in a 20-year period only 200 sons, instead of 250, born to the 50 original family heads we have designated would produce families of their own.
Pharaoh’s decree. Still another factor might be considered: Pharaoh’s decree to destroy all the male children at birth. This decree seems to have been rather ineffective and of short duration. Aaron was born some three years before Moses (or in 1597 B.C.E.), and apparently no such decree was then in force. The Bible definitely states that Pharaoh’s decree was not very successful. The Hebrew women Shiphrah and Puah, who likely were the heads of the midwife profession, over the other midwives, did not carry out the king’s order. They apparently did not instruct the midwives under them as ordered. The result was: “The people kept growing more numerous and becoming very mighty.” Pharaoh then commanded all his people to throw every newborn Israelite son into the river Nile. (Ex 1:15-22) But it does not seem that the Egyptian populace hated the Hebrews to this extent. Even Pharaoh’s own daughter rescued Moses. Again, Pharaoh may have soon come to the conclusion that he would lose valuable slaves if his decree continued in effect. We know that, later on, the Pharaoh of the Exodus refused to let the Hebrews go for the very reason that he valued them as slave laborers.
However, to make our figure yet more conservative we may reduce by nearly one third the number of boys surviving during a five-year period to represent the possible effects of Pharaoh’s unsuccessful edict.
A calculation. Even making all these allowances, the population would still increase in an accelerated manner, and that with God’s blessing. The number of children born during each five-year period from and after 1563 B.C.E. (that is, 50 years before the Exodus) up to 1533 (or 20 years before the Exodus) would be as follows:
     B.C.E.           Sons Born
from 1563 to 1558        47,350
from 1558 to 1553        62,300
from 1553 to 1548        81,800
from 1548 to 1543       103,750
from 1543 to 1538       133,200
from 1538 to 1533       172,250
Total                   600,650*
* Theoretical male population from the age of 20 to 50 years at time of Exodus (1513 B.C.E.)
It may be noted that even a slight adjustment in the method of computation, for example, increasing by one the number of sons born on the average to each male parent, would send this figure up to over a million.
How significant was the number of people that left Egypt under Moses?
Besides the 600,000 able-bodied men mentioned in the Bible, there were a great number of older men, an even greater number of women and children, and “a vast mixed company” of non-Israelites. (Ex 12:38) So the total population was possibly over three million persons going up out of Egypt. It is not surprising that the Egyptian royalty hated to let such a large slave body go. They thereby lost a valuable economic asset.
That there was a fearful number of fighting men the Bible record attests: “Moab became very frightened at the people, because they were many; and Moab began to feel a sickening dread of the sons of Israel.” (Nu 22:3) The fear on the part of the Moabites was, of course, based partly on the fact that Jehovah had worked such wonders for Israel but was also because of their great number, which could not be said of a mere few thousand people. The population figures of the Israelites actually changed very little during the wilderness journey because so many died in the wilderness as a result of unfaithfulness.—Nu 26:2-4, 51.
In the census shortly after the Exodus the Levites were counted separately, and those from a month old upward numbered 22,000. (Nu 3:39) The question may arise as to why among all the other 12 tribes there were only 22,273 firstborn males from a month old upward. (Nu 3:43) This can easily be understood when the fact is appreciated that family heads were not counted, that because of polygamy a man might have many sons but only one firstborn, and that it was the firstborn son of the man and not of the woman that was counted.
Issues Involved. According to God’s promise to Abraham, His due time had arrived for Him to deliver the nation of Israel from “the iron furnace” of Egypt. Jehovah considered Israel as his firstborn son by virtue of the promise to Abraham. When Jacob went down to Egypt with his household, he went down voluntarily but his descendants later became slaves. As a nation, they were dear to Jehovah as a firstborn son, and Jehovah had the legal right to deliver them from Egypt without the payment of a price.—De 4:20; 14:1, 2; Ex 4:22; 19:5, 6.
Opposing Jehovah’s purpose, Pharaoh did not want to lose the great nation of slave workers. Moreover, when approached by Moses with the request in Jehovah’s name to send the Israelites away that they might celebrate a festival to Him in the wilderness, Pharaoh answered: “Who is Jehovah, so that I should obey his voice to send Israel away? I do not know Jehovah at all.” (Ex 5:2) Pharaoh considered himself to be a god and did not recognize Jehovah’s authority, although he had undoubtedly heard the Hebrews use the name many times before. From the beginning Jehovah’s people had known his name; Abraham had even addressed God as Jehovah.—Ge 2:4; 15:2.
The issue here raised by Pharaoh’s attitude and actions brought up the question of Godship. It was now necessary for Jehovah God to exalt himself above the gods of Egypt, including Pharaoh, who was revered as a god. He did this by bringing Ten Plagues upon Egypt, which resulted in Israel’s release. (See GODS AND GODDESSES [The Ten Plagues].) At the time of the last plague, the death of the firstborn, the Israelites were commanded to be prepared at the Passover meal to march out of Egypt. Although they went out in haste, being urged on by the Egyptians, who said, “We are all as good as dead!” they did not go out empty-handed. (Ex 12:33) They took their herds and flocks, their flour dough before it was fermented, and their kneading troughs. Besides this, the Egyptians granted to Israel what they asked for, giving them articles of silver and articles of gold and garments. Incidentally, this was not robbing the Egyptians. They had no right to enslave Israel, so they owed the people wages.—Ex 12:34-38.
Along with Israel went out “a vast mixed company.” (Ex 12:38) These were all worshipers of Jehovah, for they had to be prepared to leave with Israel while the Egyptians were burying their dead. They had observed the Passover, otherwise they would have been busy with Egypt’s mourning and burial rites. To a certain extent this company may have been made up of those who were in some way related by marriage to the Israelites. For example, many Israelite men married Egyptian women, and Israelite women married Egyptian men. A case in point is the person who was put to death in the wilderness for abusing Jehovah’s name. He was the son of an Egyptian man and his mother was Shelomith of the tribe of Dan. (Le 24:10, 11) It may also be noted that Jehovah gave permanent instructions concerning the requirements for alien residents and slaves to eat the Passover when Israel would come into the Promised Land.—Ex 12:25, 43-49.
Route of the Exodus. The Israelites must have been in various locations when they started the march out of Egypt, not all initially in one compact body. Some may have merged with the main body of marchers as they went along. Rameses, either the city or a district of that name, was the starting point, the first lap of the journey being to Succoth. (Ex 12:37) Some scholars suggest that, while Moses began the march from Rameses, the Israelites came from all over the land of Goshen and met at Succoth as a rendezvous.—MAP, Vol. 1, p. 536.
The Israelites had left Egypt in haste, urged on by the Egyptians; nevertheless, they were by no means unorganized: “But it was in battle formation that the sons of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt,” that is, possibly like an army in five parts, with vanguard, rear guard, main body, and two wings. Besides the able leadership of Moses, Jehovah made manifest his own leadership, at least as early as the encampment at Etham, by providing a pillar of cloud to lead them in the daytime, which became a pillar of fire to give them light at night.—Ex 13:18-22.
By the shortest route it would have been a land journey of about 400 km (250 mi) from the vicinity N of Memphis on up to, say, Lachish in the Promised Land. But that route would have taken the Israelites along the Mediterranean seacoast and along by the land of the Philistines. In former times their forefathers Abraham and Isaac had had difficulties with the Philistines. God, knowing that they might be disheartened by a Philistine attack, inasmuch as they were unacquainted with warfare and also because they had their families and flocks with them, commanded that Israel turn about and encamp before Pihahiroth between Migdol and the sea in view of Baal-zephon. Here they encamped by the sea.—Ex 14:1, 2.
The exact route followed by the Israelites from Rameses to the Red Sea cannot be traced with certainty today, since the sites mentioned in the account cannot be definitely located. Most reference works prefer to show them as crossing through what is known as the Wadi Tumilat in the Delta region of Egypt. This route, however, is predicated principally on the identification of Rameses with a site in the NE corner of the Delta region. But as Professor of Egyptology John A. Wilson states: “Unfortunately, scholars do not agree upon the precise location of Rameses. The Pharaohs named Ramses, particularly Ramses II, were generous in naming towns after themselves. Further, references to this city have been excavated in Delta towns which can make no serious claim to being the location.”—The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, edited by G. Buttrick, 1962, Vol. 4, p. 9.
Various places have been suggested, have held popularity for a time, and then have been rejected in favor of another possibility. The site of Tanis (modern San el-Hagar) a few kilometers S of the Mediterranean coastal city of Port Said is popular, but so also is Qantir, about 24 km (15 mi) farther S. As to the first site, Tanis, it may be noted that one Egyptian text lists Tanis and (Per-)Rameses as separate places, not the same, and that at least part of the material unearthed at Tanis gives evidence of having come from other places. Thus, John A. Wilson further states that “there is no guarantee that inscriptions bearing the name Rameses were originally at home there.” Regarding both Tanis and Qantir, it may be said that the inscriptions relating to Ramses II found in these places would only show an association with that Pharaoh, but do not prove that either site is the Biblical Raamses built by the Israelites as a storage place prior even to Moses’ birth. (Ex 1:11) As is shown in the article RAAMSES, RAMESES, the view that Ramses II is the Pharaoh of the Exodus has little evidence in its favor.
The route through the Wadi Tumilat has also been favored because of the popular modern theory that the crossing of the Red Sea did not actually take place at the Red Sea but at a site to the N thereof. Some scholars even advocated a crossing at or near Lake Serbonis along the Mediterranean shore, so that after exiting from the Wadi Tumilat the Israelites turned N in the direction of the coast. This view directly contradicts the specific statement in the Bible that God himself led the Israelites away from the route that would go to the land of the Philistines. (Ex 13:17, 18) Others also favor a route through the Wadi Tumilat but argue for a “sea” crossing in the Bitter Lakes region N of Suez.
Red Sea, not ‘sea of reeds.’ This latter view is based on the argument that the Hebrew yam-suph´ (translated “Red Sea”) literally means “sea of rushes, or, reeds, bulrushes,” and that therefore the Israelites crossed, not the arm of the Red Sea known as the Gulf of Suez, but a sea of reeds, a swampy place such as the Bitter Lakes region. In so holding, however, they do not agree with the translators of the ancient Greek Septuagint, who translated yam-suph´ with the Greek name e·ry·thra´ tha´las·sa, meaning, literally, “Red Sea.” But, far more important, both Luke, who was the writer of Acts (quoting Stephen), and the apostle Paul used this same Greek name when relating the events of the Exodus.—Ac 7:36; Heb 11:29; see RED SEA.
Furthermore, there would have been no great miracle if a mere marsh had been crossed, and the Egyptians could not have been “swallowed up” in the Red Sea as “the surging waters proceeded to cover them” so that they went down “into the depths like a stone.” (Heb 11:29; Ex 15:5) Not only was this stupendous miracle referred to later on by Moses and Joshua but the apostle Paul said that the Israelites got baptized into Moses by means of the cloud and the sea. That indicated that they were completely surrounded by water, the sea being on both sides and the cloud above and behind them. (1Co 10:1, 2) This would indicate, too, that the body of water was much deeper than anything that could be waded in.
The route of the Exodus depends largely on two factors: where the Egyptian capital was at the time, and the identification of the body of water where the crossing occurred. Since the inspired Christian Greek Scriptures use the expression “Red Sea,” there is every reason to believe that it was that body of water that Israel crossed. As for the Egyptian capital, the most likely site is Memphis, the principal seat of government during most of Egypt’s history. (See MEMPHIS.) If this was the case, then the starting point of the Exodus march must have been sufficiently near Memphis for Moses to have been called before Pharaoh after midnight on Passover night and then to have reached Rameses in time to begin the march toward Succoth before the 14th day of Nisan ended. (Ex 12:29-31, 37, 41, 42) The oldest Jewish tradition, recorded by Josephus, is to the effect that the march began a short distance N of Memphis.—Jewish Antiquities, II, 315 (xv, 1).
A route through the Wadi Tumilat would be so far to the N of Memphis as to make the above circumstances impracticable. For this reason, many earlier commentators have suggested one of the well-known “pilgrim” routes through Egypt, such as the el Haj route leading from Cairo across to Clysma at the head of the Gulf of Suez.
Where was the Red Sea parted to allow Israel to cross over?
It should be noted that, after reaching the second stage of their journey, Etham “at the edge of the wilderness,” God ordered Moses to “turn back and encamp before Pihahiroth . . . by the sea.” This maneuver would cause Pharaoh to believe the Israelites were “wandering in confusion.” (Ex 13:20; 14:1-3) Scholars favoring the el Haj route as the likely one point out that the Hebrew verb for “turn back” is emphatic and does not mean merely to “divert” or “turn aside,” but has more the sense of returning or at least of a marked detour. They suggest that, upon reaching a point N of the head of the Gulf of Suez, the Israelites reversed their line of march and went around to the E side of Jebel `Ataqah, a mountain range bordering the W side of the Gulf. A large host, such as the Israelites were, would find no effective way for swift exit from such a position if pursued from the N, and hence they would be bottled up with the sea blocking their way.
Jewish tradition of the first century C.E. conveys such a picture. (See PIHAHIROTH.) But, more importantly, such a situation fits the general picture portrayed in the Bible itself, whereas the popular views of many scholars do not. (Ex 14:9-16) It seems evident that the crossing must have been far enough from the head of the Gulf (or western arm of the Red Sea) that Pharaoh’s forces would not have been able simply to circle the end of the Gulf and easily come upon the Israelites on the other side.—Ex 14:22, 23.
Pharaoh had changed his mind about the release of the Israelites as soon as he learned of their departure. Certainly the loss of such a slave nation meant a heavy economic blow to Egypt. It would not be difficult for his chariots to overtake this entire nation on the move, particularly in view of their ‘turning back.’ Now, encouraged by the thought that Israel was wandering in confusion in the wilderness, he went after them with confidence. With a crack force of 600 chosen chariots, all the other chariots of Egypt mounted with warriors, his cavalrymen, and all his military forces, he came upon Israel at Pihahiroth.—Ex 14:3-9.
Strategically the position of the Israelites looked very bad. They were evidently hemmed in between the sea and the mountains, with the Egyptians blocking the way back. In their apparently trapped position, fear struck the hearts of the Israelites and they began to complain against Moses. Now God stepped in to protect Israel by moving the cloud from the front to the rear. On one side, toward the Egyptians, it was darkness; on the other it kept lighting up the night for Israel. While the cloud held back the Egyptians from attacking, at Jehovah’s command Moses lifted his rod, and the seawaters split apart, leaving the dry seabed as a path for Israel.—Ex 14:10-21.
Width and depth of place of crossing. Since Israel crossed the sea in one night, it could hardly be assumed that the waters parted in a narrow channel. Rather, the channel may have been a kilometer or more in width. Though in fairly close marching formation, such a group, along with what wagons they had, their baggage, and their cattle, even when rather closely ranked, would occupy an area of perhaps 8 sq km (3 sq mi) or more. It appears, therefore, that the sea-opening allowed the Israelites to cross on a fairly wide front. If there was about a 1.5-km (1 mi) front, then the depth of the Israelite column would probably be about 5 km (3 mi) or more. If it was about a 2.5-km (1.5 mi) front, the depth might be about 3 km (2 mi) or more. It would take such a column several hours to get into the seabed and travel across it. While they did not go in panic, but maintained their battle formation, they would no doubt move with considerable haste.
Had it not been for the cloud, the Egyptians would have easily overtaken and slaughtered many. (Ex 15:9) When the Israelites had gone into the sea and the cloud behind them had moved ahead to reveal this fact to the Egyptians, they pursued. Here, again, is emphasized the necessity of considerable breadth and length of dry seabed, for Pharaoh’s military force was great. Bent on destruction and recapture of their former slaves, the entire force went well into the seabed. Then, during the morning watch, which ran from about 2:00 to 6:00 a.m., Jehovah looked out from the cloud and began to throw the camp of the Egyptians into confusion, taking the wheels off their chariots.—Ex 14:24.
The Israelites, by the approaching of morning, got safely across on the eastern shore of the Red Sea. Then Moses was commanded to stretch his hand out so that the waters would come back over the Egyptians. At this “the sea began to come back to its normal condition,” and the Egyptians fled from encountering it. This also would indicate that the waters had opened up widely, for a narrow channel would have immediately overwhelmed them. The Egyptians fled from the enclosing walls of water toward the western bank, but the waters kept converging until their depth completely covered all the war chariots and the cavalrymen belonging to Pharaoh’s military forces; not so much as one of them was let remain.
It is obvious that such an overwhelming inundation would be impossible in a marsh. Moreover, in a shallow marsh dead bodies would not wash up on the shore, as actually took place, so that “Israel got to see the Egyptians dead on the seashore.”—Ex 14:22-31; MAP and PICTURE, Vol. 1, p. 537.
Waters “congealed.” According to the Bible description, the surging waters were congealed to let Israel pass through. (Ex 15:8) This word “congealed” is used in the American Standard Version, the King James Version, and translations by J. N. Darby, I. Leeser, R. Knox, and J. Rotherham. As defined in Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (1981), congeal means “to change from a fluid to a solid state by or as if by cold . . . : freeze . . . : to make (a liquid) viscid or of a consistency like jelly: curdle, coagulate.” The Hebrew word here translated “congealed” is used in Job 10:10 with regard to curdling milk. Therefore, it does not of necessity mean that the walls of water were frozen solid, but that the consistency of the congealed substance may have been like gelatin or curds. Nothing visible was holding back the waters of the Red Sea on each side of the Israelites, hence the water had the appearance of being congealed, stiffened, curdled, or thickened so that it could remain standing like a wall on each side and not collapse in an inundation upon the Israelites, to their destruction. This was how they looked to Moses when a strong E wind divided the waters and dried up the basin so that it was not miry, nor frozen, but was easily traversable by the multitude.
The pathway opened in the sea was wide enough that the Israelites, numbering possibly three million, could all cross to the eastern banks by morning. Then the congealed waters began to be released and to move in from either side, surging and overwhelming the Egyptians as Israel stood on the eastern bank contemplating Jehovah’s unparalleled deliverance of an entire nation from a world power. They realized the literal fulfillment of Moses’ words: “The Egyptians whom you do see today you will not see again, no, never again.”—Ex 14:13.
So by a spectacular display of power Jehovah exalted his name and delivered Israel. Safe on the E shore of the Red Sea, Moses led the sons of Israel in a song, while his sister Miriam, the prophetess, took a tambourine in her hand and led all the women with tambourines and in dances, responding in song to the men. (Ex 15:1, 20, 21) A complete separation of Israel from their foes had been effected. When they went out from Egypt they were not allowed to suffer harm from man or beast; no dog even snarled at the Israelites or moved its tongue against them. (Ex 11:7) While the Exodus narrative does not mention that Pharaoh personally went into the sea with his military forces and was destroyed, Psalm 136:15 does state that Jehovah “shook off Pharaoh and his military force into the Red Sea.”
Typical of Later Events. In bringing Israel up out of Egypt as promised to Abraham, God looked upon the nation of Israel as his son, just as he had told Pharaoh, ‘Israel is my firstborn.’ (Ex 4:22) Later on, Jehovah said: “When Israel was a boy, then I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.” (Ho 11:1) This back-reference to the Exodus was also a prophecy that had a fulfillment in the days of Herod when Joseph and Mary returned from Egypt with Jesus after the death of Herod and settled in Nazareth. The historian Matthew applies the prophecy of Hosea to this occurrence, saying of Joseph: “He stayed there until the decease of Herod, for that to be fulfilled which was spoken by Jehovah through his prophet, saying: ‘Out of Egypt I called my son.’”—Mt 2:15.
The apostle Paul lists the Exodus among those things that he says went on befalling Israel as examples or types. (1Co 10:1, 2, 11) It therefore appears to be symbolic of something greater. Natural Israel is used in the Bible as symbolic of spiritual Israel, the Israel of God. (Ga 6:15, 16) Also, Moses spoke of the prophet to come who would be like him. (De 18:18, 19) The Jews looked for this one to be a great leader and deliverer. The apostle Peter identifies Jesus Christ as the Greater Moses. (Ac 3:19-23) The deliverance of Israel at the Red Sea and the destruction of the Egyptian army, therefore, must have significance in the deliverance of spiritual Israel from their enemies of symbolic Egypt by a great miracle at the hands of Jesus Christ. And just as the work God performed at the Red Sea resulted in the exaltation of his name, the fulfillment of those typical events in a much larger reality would bring greater and far more extensive fame to the name of Jehovah.—Ex 15:1.