Notes on King James Bible - Old Testament Themes

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King James Bible - Old Testament Topic Tracking: Violence

Genesis

Violence 1: Violence between relatives and nations is a theme that recurs in the Bible. Cain and Abel are the first instance of fraternal strife but they are by no means the last. Cain kills Abel because his sacrifice is loved more by God. Because of this deed, he is thrown out of the land of his parents in much the same way they were expelled from Eden. His children, however, escape the curse of their father to a limited degree.

Violence 2: The situation between Jacob and Esau could have ended up in violence if not for the wise decision of Rebekah. Jacob cheated his brother for the same reason that Cain killed his: jealousy. The brothers do not resort to the same means, however. Although both Isaac and Esau are incensed by the deception, they resign themselves to its outcome.

Violence 3: Joseph has problems with his brothers in a manner similar to Esau and Abel. His brothers attack him in envy and sell him into slavery. This outcome, however, turns out to be to all of their benefit because he ends up in a position to save Egypt and his family from a deadly famine. Joseph forgives his brothers.

Exodus

Violence 4: The Israelites were put into slavery by the Egyptians and in return God sent many plagues upon them, the worst of which being the death of all the first-born sons. The armies of Egypt perished in the Red Sea. While killing was against the new commandments of God, the Israelites used deadly force to punish those of their own who worshiped a golden cow.

Numbers

Violence 5: Violence continues to serve as a tool for enforcing the contract between man and God. Men are punished for moving against Moses and for sleeping with whores. When it comes time for the Israelites to face other nations, God wields these powers in their favor and makes them triumphant over other peoples.

Joshua

Violence 6: Before the Israelites can settle in the land God intended for them, they must exterminate its current inhabitants. In a mixture of set battles and sieges they rid the land of these peoples. God helps them by giving them the magic of the Ark and advising Joshua when to execute a ruse and take a city by trickery.

1 Samuel

Violence 7: The natural state of this era is warfare. Invaders from all sides constantly beset the Israelites just as they beset the Canaanites. Every year they must fight the Philistines. Saul uses violence against David out of jealousy. He does not actually hate David, but he envies his position with the people and with God.

1 Kings

Violence 8: Violence with outsiders continues to be the normal state of affairs for the children of Israel. This violence is joined by strife between the tribes as the Kingdom is split into two king-ships for the first time since Joshua. This halts the war between separate ruling houses but now each kingdom must fight different adversaries.

Esther

Violence 9: This is the first example of large-scale ethnic violence done against the Jews by a ruling government. One man who felt that Mordecai slighted his honor began this violence. While the Israelites had waged such warfare against people under their power before when they cleansed the land of people following Baal, this is the first time they suffer the same violence. Their captivity in Babylon began many years of suffering for the Israelites.

Isaiah

Violence 10: Violence is constantly threatened as punishment for sins. This punishment comes in two ways: either directly from God or indirectly. Directly, God promises to cause them permanent physical pain. Indirectly, Isaiah warns them that if they are not loyal to God their cities will fall and they will be defeated in war and possibly enslaved.

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