The Bible, and especially the Old Testament, has become a mainstay of human culture, but it is first and foremost a historical document of the Jewish people and our culture. It tells the story of our ancient kingdoms and civilization in the Land of Israel, and therefore it kept alive the tie of the people of Israel to the land of Israel for 2000 years. It forms the moral and cultural basis of Zionist ideology and aspirations.
The Old Testament is accepted by the three major Western faiths. It is a major work of Western civilization. The Bible documents the historic connection of the Jewish people to the land of Israel, even for those who do not believe that the Bible is the literal word of God, and even for those who do not believe in God at all. It is the historic epic of the Jewish people in our land.††
Scholars believe that the first books of the Bible reflect a very old oral tradition, including stories and myths that entered Hebrew culture from Ur, such as vague reflections of the Gilgamesh legend. It was probably redacted into something like its present form about 500 or 600 BC. Textual analysis shows that the writings reflect the edited and merged texts of two or more authors, who referred to God respectively as Elohim or Jehovah (Yahweh in Hebrew).
King James Version of the Bible
Since its appearance, the King James translation of the Bible, has been a fixture of classical Western culture. Despite its faults, many prefer this rich, sonorous and authoritative diction to the perhaps more accurate but less attractive and dignified translations of later times. The King James Bible preserved some of the idiom of Seventeenth Century England for modern usage, and its language, like that of Shakespeare, remains a part of modern English. The translation suffers in places from the fact that it relied in part on conventions adopted in error in earlier translations, and from the fact that there were no Jews in England at the time who could have assisted in translating from the Hebrew. The Jews of England had been banished some time before.
The availability of a bible in commonly understood English, accessible to all, helped fuel the revolt against various dicta of sovereigns and churches. Based on biblical narrative, reformers challenged the doctrine that kings rule by diving right. Clearly visible in the bible too, was God's promise to restore the people of Israel, the Jews, to their ancient land.
Read about the history of the the King James Version of the Bible
The availability of English language bibles challenged the doctrine known as "replacement theology. Christian doctrine had taught that "Israel" should be read as "the Church" throughout the Old and New Testament, claiming that God had transferred all his promises to the Christian church. It became very difficult to hold this view in the light of the clear testament of the text, and therefore the translation of the Bible into English stimulated the Christian movement for restoration of Israel in Britain and later in the United States.
For the Jews, the Bible was a central document of national culture as well as religious life. It played a central role in preserving Jewish national aspirations and in the rebirth of Jewish Zionism. During the early days of the Jewish return to Israel, secular as well as religious education included memorization of large portions of the bible and extensive study of the Old Testament to find the roots of people and places in the land. Anti-Zionist and non-Zionist religious Jews emphasize the Talmud, the oral law, and later writings and de-emphasize the Torah. They are not "True Torah Jews." For about three millennia, Jews have looked to Israel as the center of our national, cultural and religious life, and the Bible is proof of this connection, known and accepted throughout the world.
Bible - Textual notes
Distortions in the text are noted and variant translations are noted when important. We have also added a few notes to explain names.
The books are given below in the order and according to the groupings† of the Hebrew Bible as they appear there. This is different from their order and groupings in the King James Version of the Old Testament, which places the books in approximate historical order of narration, rather than placing the minor prophets and chronicles at the end, as in the Hebrew version.
The King James version of the ordering of the books of the old testament: Genesis Exodus Leviticus Numbers Deuteronomy Joshua Judges Ruth 1 Samuel 2 Samuel 1 Kings 2 Kings 1 Chronicles 2 Chronicles Ezra Nehemiah Esther Job Psalms Proverbs Ecclesiastes (Qoheleth) Canticles (Song of Solomon) Isaiah Jeremiah Lamentations Ezekiel Daniel Hosea Joel Amos Obadiah Jonah Micah Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah Haggai Zechariah Malachi
The King James version of 1611 included the Apocrypha, which were removed from later editions. These are: Additions to Daniel, Judith,†† Esdras,†† Additions to Esther,†† Susanna,†† 1 Maccabees,†† 2 Maccabees,†† 4 Ezra,†† Prayer of Manassheh,†† Sirach,†† Wisdom of Solomon,†† Baruch (including the Epistle of Jeremiah),†† Tobit,†† Bel.†††
Of the above, the book of Esther was accepted as canonical by the Jews, while the book of Maccabees and others were not. The book of Maccabees was apparently suppressed by anti-Maccabean Pharisaic scribes, who also substituted the fast of Esther and the holiday of Purim for a holiday that had celebrated a victory of the Maccabees. The surviving manuscripts of the Maccabees were mostly in Greek, and this may have also prevented their inclusion in the Mesoretic text. Much of the apocrypha may have been Christian interpolations.
The Old Testament Bible was divided into verses in the Middle Ages apparently, by Christians. The Geneva bible was the first English bible to add numbering of verses.
The books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles were divided into two in the translation of the Septuagint, apparently for convenience in production of the scrolls.† This practice was continued even though the King James bible and other English bibles were printed as a single volume.
1 Samuel 1 | 1 Samuel 2 | 1 Samuel 3 | 1 Samuel 4 | 1 Samuel 5 | 1 Samuel 6 | 1 Samuel 7 | 1 Samuel 8 | 1 Samuel 9 | 1 Samuel 10 | 1 Samuel 11 | 1 Samuel 12 | 1 Samuel 13 | 1 Samuel 14 | 1 Samuel 15 | 1 Samuel 16 | 1 Samuel 17 | 1 Samuel 18 | 1 Samuel 19 | 1 Samuel 20 | 1 Samuel 21 | 1 Samuel 22 | 1 Samuel 23 | 1 Samuel 24 | 1 Samuel 25 | 1 Samuel 26 | 1 Samuel 27 | 1 Samuel 28 | 1 Samuel 29 | 1 Samuel 30 | 1 Samuel 31 |
2 Samuel 1 | 2 Samuel 2 | 2 Samuel 3 | 2 Samuel 4 | 2 Samuel 5 | 2 Samuel 6 | 2 Samuel 7 | 2 Samuel 8 | 2 Samuel 9 | 2 Samuel 10 | 2 Samuel 11 | 2 Samuel 12 | 2 Samuel 13 | 2 Samuel 14 | 2 Samuel 15 | 2 Samuel 16 | 2 Samuel 17 | 2 Samuel 18 | 2 Samuel 19 | 2 Samuel 20 | 2 Samuel 21 | 2 Samuel 22 | 2 Samuel 23 | 2 Samuel 24 |