The Agora
Bible Articles and Lessons: P-Q

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Pentateuch, Hebrew titles

The purpose of Yahweh may be summarized in the Heb titles of the first five books of the Bible. As is not widely known, many of the titles in our English Bibles are based on the Greek translation; they bear little or no resemblance to the Heb titles:

English title
Hebrew title
1. Genesis
"In the beginning"
2. Exodus
"Ve-elleh shemoth"
"These (are) the names"
3. Leviticus
"He (Yahweh) called"
4. Numbers
"In the wilderness"
5. Deuteronomy
"These (are) the words"

In each of the above cases, the Hebrew title is the first word or phrase of the book, which serves as the keynote of its message. In carrying the observation one step further, we notice that the five phrases or titles, taken in order, provide a message. In poetic fashion [and supplying the elliptical phrase at the end], they speak eloquently of God and His comprehensive purpose, as Creator, Lawgiver, and Savior of the world:

"In the beginning these were the names which Yahweh called.
In the wilderness these were the words [which Yahweh spoke]."

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