• P. Frank

Five Golden Rings

On the fifth day of Christmas … five golden rings. This day’s gift in the song can stand for the “Pentateuch” of the Bible. Pentateuch means “five-volumed book” and it is the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. These five books established the Law of God to the Israelites, which was also passed on to Christians, and is still relevant today. Both Jews and Christians have claimed Moses as the author of all five of these books. Moses most likely wrote most or all of the Pentateuch while the Israelites were wandering in the desert for forty years after their release from slavery and exodus from Egypt. The dates when this occurred can be fixed with certain accuracy. The book of 1 Kings references three different reliable sources for its text: “The book of the annals of Solomon,” “The book of the annals of the kings of Israel,” and “The book of the annals of the kings of Judah.” According to 1 Kings 6:1, “In the four hundred and eightieth year after the Israelites came out of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, the second month, he began to build the temple of the Lord.” Since King Solomon began building the temple in 966 B.C., that means the Israelite exodus out of Egypt happened in the year 1446 B.C. So the Israelites wandered in the desert from 1446 – 1406 B.C. Forty years would probably be enough time for Moses to write most or all of the Pentateuch.

The book of Genesis tells of beginnings – of light and darkness, of the heavens and the earth, of seas and skies, of land and vegetation, of sun, moon and stars, of animals, and of human beings, made in the image of God (Genesis 1:1 – 2:3). Genesis also speaks of sin (the fall of man), of the promise for the redemption of man, of blessing and cursing, of society and civilization, and of marriage and family. It also gives account of The Great Flood that wiped out all life on earth, except for Noah and his family, and two of each animal (a male and a female of each). After the flood waters receded, God gave Noah and his family the rainbow as a sign of His promise to never flood the earth like that again. Genesis is a book filled with relationships: between God and nature, God and man, and man and man. Genesis clearly teaches that God is the one true God, sovereign over all that exists. The book is a foundation of understanding the rest of the Bible, especially when it comes to covenants with His people. In Genesis, God pledges His love and faithfulness to the Israelites and calls them to promise their love and faithfulness to Him. Genesis even contains the oldest example of faith in God. When God promises Abram (Abraham) that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars, even though he and his barren wife were advanced in age, “Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness.” (Genesis 15:6).

The book of Exodus speaks of many theological foundations: God’s name, His attributes, His redemption, His Law, and how He is to be worshipped. The book starts with the Israelites in Egypt as slaves. God calls Moses to confront Pharaoh to set God’s people free. Pharaoh’s heart is hardened and God unleashes ten plagues on Egypt: turning water to blood, frogs, gnats, flies, death of Egyptian livestock, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, and death of the firstborns during Passover. Finally, Pharaoh releases the Israelites from slavery and sends them out of Egypt. As the Israelites escape towards the Red Sea, Pharaoh changes his mind and pursues them. God parts the Red Sea for His people to cross on dry ground and then drowns all of Pharaoh’s army. The Israelites then wander in the desert, and repeatedly grumble against Moses and put God to the test. God provides them with water, even from a rock, and gave them manna and quail to eat every day, and twice as much before the Sabbath. After three months, God gives Moses the ten commandments as well as other laws (Laws of Moses that are recorded in the Pentateuch). God also tells Moses and the elders how to build the tabernacle where they should worship Him. Moses spent a long time on top of Mount Sinai and the Israelites grew weary, making an idol of a golden calf to worship. Moses broke the tablets from the Lord, destroyed the idol, and had 3,000 of them killed for their sins. God then gave Moses two new tablets.

The book of Leviticus is the appointment of the priesthood to the Levites and established the statutes and laws that the priests were to follow in order to teach the people of God. Leviticus tells us that the priesthood was instituted because of sin to disclose to the people their sins and to make atonement for those sins before God on behalf of the people.

The book of Numbers speaks of the many disobediences of the Israelites against God and the plagues that God sent among them to bring them back to Him. Numbers tells the story of Israel’s journey from Mount Sinai through the desert over the course of forty years. Because of their many sins against God, the Israelites who left slavery in Egypt would not reach the promised land and only their children would enjoy the fulfillment of God’s promise. Not even Moses would reach the promised land because of his lack of faith.

The book of Deuteronomy is full of the loving relationship from the Lord to His people. The word “Deuteronomy” means “repetition of the law” and the book is a call to the total commitment to the Lord in worship and obedience. Deuteronomy contrasts the matter-of-fact narratives of the books of Leviticus and Numbers in that Moses expresses the laws in a more warm and personal form to God’s people. In this book, Moses passes on the leadership role of the Israelites to Joshua before his death. Jesus quotes Deuteronomy as authoritative many times to his disciples, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees.

”The Twelve Days of Christmas” song image is by Xavier Romero-Frias and used under Creative Commons license BY-SA 3.0.