"The Names and Order"

of the Books of the Old Testament.

Part 2 of 4

By the Rev. Dr. BULLINGER.

Taken from: Things to Come Magazine, 1895



I. Genesis "B'resheeth" —


Our word "Genesis" is really the transliteration of the Greek word Γένεσις, which from the Septuagint has passed through the Vulgate into all subsequent versions of the Bible as the name of the first book.

This name was given in order to describe the subject-matter of the book. The natural Greek word would have been κτίσις (ktisis) creation; but γένεσις was the technical term used by the philosophers of Alexandria to express the origin of the universe.

As such it is not so far out, for the divine name in the Hebrew Canon is B'resheeth, which is the first word, and means "In the beginning." Hence this book is The Book of the beginning.

It is so called because it contains the beginning of every thing, not only of the earth, of life, of man, of sin and death, and of Israel, but the beginning of that which forms the whole subject of divine revelation, viz., the " enmity " between the two seeds, between man and his great enemy the devil. (Gen. iii. 15.) "tie was a murderer from the beginning,"11 says Christ (John viii. 44), when He directs our minds to the great conflict of the ages, in which "from the beginning " from the first murder (Gen. iv.) the aim of the enemy has been to destroy man and corrupt his seed. (Gen. vi.) The Scriptures record the stages of the constant struggle. Genesis begins it with the Adamic and Abrahamic history. Exodus continues it, and opens with the attempt to destroy the whole nation. Satanic power is given to Jannes and Jambres to withstand the deliverance of the promised seed. Then, when the nation is formed, the forces of the adversary are directed against the royal house of David, and its very existence is threatened again and again. The revolt of the ten tribes and their apostacy to the Satanic worship of Baal was a great blow. Jehoshaphat's affinity with Ahab resulted in three generations of the royal family of Judah being cut off, until the line of "the seed of the woman" hung upon an infant less than a year old (Josiah). For Jehoram "slew all his brethren with the sword." (2 Chron. xxi. 4.) Ahaziah, his youngest son, succeeds him, all his elder brothers being slain. (2 Chron. xxii. 1.) And when Athaliah thought she had "destroyed all the seed-royal of the house of Judah," the infant Joash alone escaped. The judgment on Hezekiah (2 Kings xx. 18) ends up the Old Testament history with the royal seed deported, and made eunuchs in the palace of the King of Babylon! (Dan. i.)

Hence the book of the beginning points to the great fact, that without, what is wrongly called the New Testament, Divine Revelation is incomplete.

The same Divine Author continues the same history. The language is changed, but the subject is the same. The gospel history takes up and continues the record of the same enmity and of the same conflict. Briefly connecting the links which were begun in Genesis, and dropped in Babylon, it records that Jesus Christ was born, the promised "seed of the woman," and tells how the struggle is renewed. Like another Joash, Jesus was rescued from the slain of Bethlehem. He frustrated the design of the enemy on the precipice of Nazareth, but though His heel was bruised in Gethsemane and Calvary, He was declared to be the Son of God by power by His resurrection from the dead (Rom. i.), arid God's Gospel is now proclaimed on this basis, and righteousness imputed on the same faith-principle as in Genesis. And, finally, the whole Revelation ends with the conclusion of the long conflict (Rev. xii. 9) until Satan is first bound for 1,000 years, and afterwards on being loosed, the record of the "enmity" which begins in Genesis ends with the final doom of the great Enemy in the lake of fire.

How appropriate then, and how suggestive, is the name for this first book — the book of the beginning. Yes, that is all, but it is enough, for that which begins there is that which is still going on until the close of the whole divine record is reached.

Hence Genesis has been called the seed-plot of the whole Bible, because, like the trees of Genesis i. n, 12, "its seed is in itself." It contains, in germ, in type, and prophecy, the essence of divine revelation, and the beginning of that which finds its end unveiled in the Apocalypse. 4

Here too is the reason why these two books are the special object of Satan's enmity — the former records his sentence; the latter, its execution; the one records his judgment, the other his doom. This is why these two books are either impugned as to their authority, or ignored as being fable or allegory.

But to return to the book itself, we may close by giving a pretty idea of the Rabbins,12 as to the very beginning of Genesis. They ask, "Why does the Torah commence with ב (Beth)?"13 The answer is, Because Beth is the first letter of the word Berachah "Blessing," and therefore has God commenced the Torah with the Beth. Then the א (Aleph)14 flew before the Holy One (blessed be He!) and said, "Begin the Torah with me, for I am the first letter of the alphabet!" The Holy One (blessed be He!) replied, " I shall begin the Decalogue on mount Sinai with the letter א (Aleph): "˜I am the Lord thy God.'"15 And so the Torah commences with the word, B'rcsheeth, " In the beginning," to teach us that the world was created for the sake of the Torah, which is called "the beginning of his way." (Proverbs viii. 22.)

2. Exodus — "V'aleh Shemōth" —


This again is the transliteration of the Greek ἔξοδος (exodos), "the way out." The book is so called from its subject-matter. But this is not the true title of the book.

In the Hebrew Canon it is called V'aleh shemōth, these are the names. The book is thus called because it begins with the names of those who came into the place from whence they were redeemed and delivered from their ruin. Genesis began with Eden and perfection, Exodus begins with Egypt and ruin. Man is outside of Eden, and the book shows how he is to be redeemed and brought into Canaan. First, God reveals His own name (iii. 13-15), and further reveals it (vi. 3, xxxiii. 19, and xxxiv. 5-7.) He knows His redeemed by name (xxxiii. 12, 17). We have the names of His redeemed on the shoulder-stones (xxviii. 9-12) and on the breast-plate (15-21). Thus the names of the redeemed were borne with the redeeming blood into the Holy of Holies before the mercy-seat. So we have in this book the names at the beginning in ruin, and at the end in redemption. The types of Exodus are types of redemption.

It is the book in which redemption is first mentioned (xv. 13): "Thou in Thy mercy hast led forth Thy people whom Thou hast redeemed." And also where we have for the first time the special name of the Redeemer, יָה Jah.16

All this tells us that redemption is "particular," and that God's people are redeemed by name.

3. Leviticus— "Vayichrah" —


This again is from the Greek through the Latin λευϊτικόν (Leviticon), i.e. Levitical or relating to the Levites. But the title in the Hebrew Canon is Va-yich-rah, and He called. Man names the books according to what he deems to be the subject-matter; viz., ordinances pertaining to the Levites. But the divine name tells of something quite different; viz., access of the Redeemed to Jehovah in worship. Leviticus is the book of the SANCTUARY. It tells how Jehovah is to be approached, and teaches us that none can truly worship except such as be "called," and whom the Father seeks to worship Him. (John iv.)

This word begins the book: "And the Lord CALLED unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, saying, If any man of you bring an offering unto the Lord, ye shall bring your offering of cattle," &c.

Thus this "calling" was for worship, and- the blessing involved in it is set forth in Psalm lxv. 4: "Blessed is the man whom Thou choosest, and causes to approach unto Thee, that he may dwell in Thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of Thy house, even of Thy holy temple." Only thus can we truly worship — as called ones — and be satisfied. Leviticus is therefore the book of access, the book of the sanctuary, the book of worship. Its types are types of worship.

No other book contains so many of the words recorded by the Holy Spirit as spoken directly by Jehovah Himself.

He alone must determine how He shall be approached, and in what manner He shall be worshipped. Nothing is left to human discretion in the matter. No choice is given to man; the word is "must." God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth" (John iv. 24); i.e., truly in spirit. All exercise of any of the senses is contrary to spiritual worship; and all exercise of the will or "will-worship" is branded as "the way of Cain" (Gen. iv., Jude 11) as opposed to "the way of God." (Acts xviii. 26.)

Note also that even in outward matters Jehovah gave the pattern of the tabernacle to Moses (Heb. viii. 5), and of the temple to David. (1 Chron. xxviii. 19.)

4. Numbers— "B'midbar" —


We come, in the title of this book, to a Latin word, straight from the Vulgate. The Greek (LXX.) name was) Ἀριθμοί (Arithmoi),17 having the same meaning as the Latin Numeri, Numbers.

The book was so called from the Numberings with which it begins and ends (chapters i.-iii. and xxvi). But man again misses the point, which is brought out in the Divine Name B'midbar, which means "IN the wilderness."

This title covers all the events recorded in the Book. Numbers, therefore, is the Book of the Wilderness, and tells of all the wanderings and sojournings of the pilgrimage of God's people. The types of Numbers are types of the wilderness.

The numberings were only two of the events in the book, and these were quite different from those which fill up its record of human failure and divine provision. It is the book of the Soiournings rather than the Numberings. It tells how Jehovah led His people "by the right way" (Ps. cv. 7.)

It is a type of our wilderness journeyings. It is not the shortest way, it is not the most direct way, it is not the pleasantest way for the flesh; but it is the way where divine provision is supplied, where divine chastisements and deliverances are experienced; it is "the right way," and it ends right!

John Newton has well expressed it when he sings:

"When Israel was from Egypt freed,
     The Lord who led them out
Helped them in every time of need,
     But led them round about.

They often murmured by the way
     Because they judged by sight;
But were at length constrained to say,
     'The Lord hath led us right! '

The way was right, their hearts to prove,
     To make God's glory known,
And show His wisdom, power and love,
     Engaged to save His own.

Just so the true believer's path
     Through many dangers lies
Though dark to sense, 't is 'right' to faith,
     And leads him to the skies."

5. Deuteronomy— "Aleh Haddabahreem" —


The title of the fifth book is just a transliteration of the Greek, which is made up of δεύτερος (deuteros) secopd, and νόμος (nomos) law. It was given by man, who saw in it only a second repetition of the law to a new generation.

In the Hebrew Canon the title is Aleh Haddabahreem, "These are the words." It is so called because it contains the words, testimonies, statutes, and judgments of Jehovah. It is the fifth book, and 5 being the number of grace, these are the gracious words of Jehovah.18

It was the only book quoted by Christ in His conflict with the Tempter; viz., viii. 3, vi. 16; vi. 13, and x. 20. Hence, doubtless, the devil's special hatred of this book, as shown in the assaults made upon it by his ministers.

This book concludes the Pentateuch, or five books of Moses, so called from πέντε (pente) y five, and τεῦχος (teuchos), a book. The Pentateuch is always in one scroll, and hence the order of these five books has never varied.

It is worthy of note, in looking at the Pentateuch as a whole, that Christ refers to Moses by name twelve times. (Matt xix. 7, 8; xxiii. 2; Mark x. 3; xii. 26; John iii. 14; v. 45, 46; vi. 32; vii. 19, 22, 23.) He also bears testimony to the Mosaic authorship forty-five times. (5. x. 7.)

Sixteen times Christ mentions the Law. Five of these coupled with the name of Moses, and once adding, "The scripture cannot be broken." (Matt. v. 17, 18; vii. 12; xi. 13; xii. 5; xxii. 36, 40; xxiii. 23; Luke x. 26; xvi. 16 and 17; xxiv. 44; John vii. 19, 23; viii. 17; x. 34; xv. 25.)

Seven times He quotes the Pentateuch as the authoritative word of God. (Matt iv. 4, 7, 10; xix. 18 and 19; xxii. 32, 37. 39.) And sixteen times He sets His seal to events recorded in it. (Matt. viii. 4; x. 15; xi. 23; xvii. 3; xxiii., 35; xxiv. 37; Luke xvi. 29, 31; xvii. 28, 32; xx. 37; xxiv. 27; John iii. 14; vi. 31; viii. 17, 56.)

Continued in Part 3



11) ἀνθρωποκτόνος (anthrōpoktonos), a slayer of man.

12) It is found in the Tzeenah Ureenah, a popular commentary on the Pentateuch. This title means, "Go ye and see." 1 (Cant. iii. 11.)

13) Beth is the second letter of the alphabet.

14) Aleph is the first letter of the alphabet.

15) Exodus xx. 2. Anōcke "I."

16) In like manner this word Jah occurs for the first time in the Psalms, in the second nr Exodus book. (See Psalm lxviii.)

17) Whence our word Arithmetic.

18) Just as I, the number of sovereignty, marks the first book; 2, the number of difference and enmity, marks the second book; 3, the number of divine perfection, marks the third book, which contains more of the words of Jehovah than any other book; and 4, the number of the world, marks the fourth book, the book of the wilderness. See Number in Scripture, by the same author, just published.