Bible Study given 26 April 2003

Old Testament Canonisation

by Jon Bowles


The next few weeks – the next three Bible Studies – I hope to give a series of Bible Studies, of which this one will be the first. And you might see two of them as being connected, but the third one you may not think is connected.

The three Bible studies - they'll be independent Bible studies - but they are three of a series. The first one, the one I want to give today, is to do with Old Testament canonisation. How we actually got the Old Testament that we read today and why we can trust it, and how we know we shouldn't have things like the Apocrypha, for instance.

Secondly I want to go into the New Testament canonisation, that is the next Bible study. And thirdly, I would like to talk about Simon Magus and the Babylonian mystery religion. Now you might think, what has Simon Magus and the Babylonian mystery religion got to do with canonisation? The fact is it has a great deal to do with it because the common link between all three is Samaria. Because it was in Samaria that Simon Magus was an operative. It was because of Samaria and Simon Magus that the New Testament canonisation took place and it was because of Samaria that several of the Old Testament canonisations actually took place.

You see what canonisation is, is a stamp of approval on the scripture to say that this is the official scripture. That is basically what canonisation is. I have heard that the group that holds copyright of Mr Armstrong's works, currently has plans to update those works and that sends alarm bells ringing because what will happen then is you'll never know then when you are looking at something whether in fact it is an updated version or the original version or whatever it is. And we do have a distinctive advantage today, and that is, that we have computers.

And computers can calculate very quickly and can assess a document on-line very quickly using Checksums, [a sequence of numbers and letters used to check data for errors] and can verify, whether in fact it is an original or it is not. So we might even find ourselves not doing anything with canonisation but having to verify things that we see on screen, to make sure they are as they were originally. Because I see that, looking into history, as we'll go through and have a look in the Old Testament canonisation, this kind of thing was a real problem in the past; a real problem. And this is why the word of God was canonized. That is the reason for it.

About 30 miles north of Jerusalem, there is a town called Nablus. Now you have seen Nablus mentioned on the news, it is only about 30 miles north of Jerusalem; not very far. It used to be, or certainly around that area, was the area of Shechem, and you can go back and find out how Dinah, the daughter of Jacob - Israel - if you remember, she was raped by Shechem, they came from that area of Shechem. If you go there today, the town of Nablus, to the north of Nablus is a mountain called Ebal. And to the south of Nablus is a mountain called Gerizim.

Now I have mentioned it before: these two mountains are blessing and cursing. They have a great deal to do with the canonisation because this is the area of Samaria. And in that area of Samaria, if you go there today, and you go from Nablus and travel south towards mount Gerizim, there is a monastery there. And you can go there to this day, and they will be absolutely adamant that they have the original official book of the law. And all these Jews down in Jerusalem are completely out of step, and all the rest of it. And these are the Samaritans. And to this day they still have this.

The question is, who is right? And why is, for instance, the Apocrypha not part of the Bible. And how many books are there? If you look in your Bible, at the very beginning of your Bible, you should have a list of all the books. And you think, well how many books are there? You know, seven times seven – forty-nine? Or twelve times twelve – a hundred and forty-four? Well there are actually sixty-six.

Now sixty-six, if you go and read over in Revelation 13:18, is the number of man . It doesn't actually say it is the number of a man; it is the number of man . You can compare it with other scriptures where the same word, 'anthropos' is used - it is the number of man, which is 666. And certainly 66, the number of books that we have within our Bible - we've got it stamped all over it. This is man's version of scripture. Man's version of numbering the books, of putting the books into scripture.

As we will go on and show you, the original version - the version that is canonized - is not the order that we have it today. The books are not in the same order. And if you want to try reading the Bible, try reading it - if you haven't done so already - in the inspired order, because it gives a different flavour to what in fact is happening.

Just by way of introduction, if I ask a few questions; For instance, you have all read Psalm 119 and you have all probably noticed before that there are Hebrew letters above each section. Why? Now why should that particular Psalm have letters, Hebrews letters above each section of the Psalm? You might know partly - in other words, it is an acrostic poem - yes, that's fine, and each verse begins with that particular letter. OK, but why? What is the purpose for it? And the same kind of thing also applies, I believe in the case of the canonisation of the Old Testament., as we will come on and see.

If you want to turn to 1 Kings chapter one. I presume it is the same in all other Bibles, I haven't checked it all, but certainly in the King James Version, if you notice under the heading, 'The First Book of The Kings, commonly called The Third Book of The Kings.' Why? If you've got the First Book of Kings and it is commonly called the Third Book, why is that? Why should it be? Again this is all to do with the same subject.

In I Samuel 8 you find in verse 6, when they asked for a king, it said in verse 6:

"But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the [Eternal]. And the [Eternal] said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them." (I Samuel 8:6-7)

Now why did Samuel therefore go and pray all night to the Eternal, rather than go back and read what it said in Deuteronomy 17? If they weren't supposed to have a king, why does it say what it does in Deuteronomy 17:14? It says:

"When thou art come unto the land which the [Eternal] thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me; Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the [Eternal] thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee," (Deuteronomy 17:14-15)

It starts to give an explanation of how you set a king. Now if there wasn't supposed to be a king, why is this verse in Deuteronomy 17 there and why didn't Samuel go back and read it?

Let me ask another question. Why are there two books? You have got second Samuel and Kings, but you go across to Chronicles and you find another book - or another series of books, I and II Chronicles - which are dealing with the same things. Many of the same words in there. Why are there two? Why not just the one? Is there a reason for having two? Well there is as we will go on and see.

If you look at the list of your books in the Bible you will find that there are 66. There are 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament, making 66 which is the number of man. Why is that?

So there are a few questions there and what I want to do is to start this series going into how the Bible is put together. There will be two sermons on that and one on Simon Magus. The second sermon is going to be dealing with the New Testament, but this one I want today to examine the Old Testament.

(1) I want to show how God originally inspired the order, the way in which the books are to be arranged. Because the books are to be arranged in a certain way and it is not the way we have got them today. In your King James or in your Bible, unless you have got a Jewish Bible, which is in the correct order. But that is about the only advantage that there is there because it is a paraphrase. It is not a genuine translation by any means.

(2) Secondly I want to show how the Old Testament was actually put together; the history of it. And I will show in that section that there are actually five canonisation periods and I will go through each one of those five historically, that will show how we get the Old Testament that we have got today.

I think by the time we have finished, you will see how Samaria has a great deal to do with the reason why we have got it in the way that it is today, and certainly when you are looking at Chronicles; that has a great deal to do with Chronicles.

God's Originally Inspired Order (PLAY FROM 11:51)

Let's turn over to Romans chapter 3 first of all and in verse one it says:

"What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God." (Romans 3:1-2)

Now the Jewish people have a responsibility even to this day, to look after the oracles and the word 'oracles' translated here is, 'logion' from where we get 'logos' which means word. It is 'brief utterances'. It is the utterances of God, the words of God. And they are responsible to look after that, to have the scriptures, the canonisation, the Sabbath, the calendar, all of these things. So we can see that the oracles were given to the people of old and to the Jews specifically.

Turn over to Deuteronomy 31, and in verse 9, I want you to notice;

"And Moses wrote this law [here's the Book of the Law - Deuteronomy - including all the other books of the law, the first five books, the books of the Pentateuch, the Torah] and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi, which bare the ark of the covenant of the [Eternal], and unto all the elders of Israel. And Moses commanded them, saying, At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles, "(Deuteronomy 31:9,10)

And it goes on to how they are to actually read this particular book. But it was in fact given to the priests. If you notice in verse 24 of the same chapter.

"And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished, That Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the [Eternal], saying, Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the [Eternal] your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee. For I know thy rebellion..." (Deuteronomy 31:24-27)

Now this was the official book of the law. It was kept right next to the ark; right beside the ark. So the high priest could in fact have access to it and could make a comparison between that book of the law and also whatever other scriptures were there, so he could be absolutely sure that it was an official version. It was beside the ark. Whether it was actually in the holy of holies is debatable, but it was certainly kept in a place at the side of the ark.

Turn to II Timothy 3 where we find a reference made to this particular version of scripture;

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:" (II Timothy 3:16)

But I want you to notice what it says in verse 15. Notice what scriptures it is talking about;

"And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." (II Timothy 3:15)

Now that term apparently implies that it is the scriptures that are held based on the temple scriptures. It is the Holy scriptures. It is not just any writing, any sacred writings. It was a specific group of writings that were based on the temple scriptures. Now we can see quite clearly what they are, and God certainly has not left us in any shadow of doubt as to which scriptures, the Old Testament scriptures, we are talking about.

Luke chapter 24:45, where Christ Himself talks about them; "Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures," (Luke 24:45)

These were the holy scriptures that were being mentioned over in Timothy. But I want you to notice how He described them. In verse 44 of Luke 24 it says:

"And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in [and here are the three, the tripartite divisions of scripture] the law of Moses [that's the first one], and in the prophets [that's the second one], and in the psalms, concerning me." (Luke 24:44)

Now we don't have that in the King James Version, or in the English Versions today. But we do have that when we are looking at this Jewish Version.

Let me read some comments here from the introduction to this Jewish Bible by David Stern, under a section 'The Jewish Tanakh'. And the word Tanakh is taking the first letters, the T- N and K of Torah which is the Law. The Nevi'im which is the Prophets and the Ketuvim which is the Psalms. And those three put together is the Tanakh, which is the Old Testament scriptures.

It says, "The Jewish Tanakh versus the Christian Old Testament." And he goes into this. And he says, one of the difference is the different order of the books. "The most obvious difference, clear from the Table of Contents, is that the books of the Tanakh appear in a different order from those of the Old Testament (OT) as as any Christian looking for the book of Malachi at the end of the Tanakh will quickly discover."

It is not there, because Malachi doesn't sit at the end of the Old Testament.

"As the acronym 'TaNaKh' reminds us, the Hebrew Bible is divided into three parts; the Torah (Law, Teaching), the Nevi'im (Prophets) and the Ketuvim (Writings)." The Law, the Prophets and the Psalms. He goes on:

"Why these differences? Because the Christian Old Testament follows the order found in the oldest manuscripts of the Septuagint, the translation of the Tanakh into Greek made by Greek-speaking Jews in Alexandria, Egypt..."

Now this was the old Alexandrian manuscript which is spurious, quite frankly. Why on earth did it survive all that time? Because the ones that they used to use were destroyed and meticulously copied, meticulously copied. I talked about Checksums - well the Jews used to use a series of Checksums, adding the numbers up going down and across and the numbers then totalled to give a Checksum for the page. And they did that meticulously. They also had different sects and they therefore were keeping an eye on each other to make sure that not one jot or tittle or anything else was changed. But it continues:

"...two or three centuries before Yeshua's [Jesus'] birth while the Tanakh sequence was finalised in the Land of Israel after the time of Ezra."

So the difference is the order that Ezra - which was the final canonisation period, as we will go on and see - that is the Jewish order. The order that you will find in the Tanakh.

"This is the order [Jesus] knew as evidence by his referring in Luke 24:44 to 'the Torah of Moshe, the Prophets and the Psalms' (by "Psalms" he referred to the Writings section, which in the Tanakh begins with the book of Psalms, not Job as in the OT)."

The second point that he mentions is a different number of books.

"A second difference is that by Jewish reckoning the Tanakh consists of twenty-four books..."

Now actually it doesn't, and I will comment about that a little bit later, but he is giving the Jewish reckoning, and the Jewish reckoning is, to this day, 24 books. The actual reckoning, originally when Ezra and Nehemiah put it together, was 22 books not 24. We will go on and discuss that.

"...whereas the Christians count thirty-nine in the Old Testament. This is because the Tanakh considers each of the following to be a single book:1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings, the twelve Minor Prophets, (so called because the books are short - Hosea, Joel, Amos and so on) Ezra-Nehemiah [that is one book], 1-2 Chronicles [is one book]. Thus what the OT counts as twenty books appears in the Tanakh as five."

Now actually, as I said, it doesn't, there is more to it than that. There is actually a combination that was there originally under Ezra. I will put this onto the web page when I post the sermon so that people can down load it and see how this is all put together.

But you have got the first five books which is the Torah, which is Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

You then get the Prophets. They are divided into the Former and the Latter prophets. Now the Former Prophets, you have got Joshua and Judges which were combined as one book and secondly the book of Kingdoms, which is Samuel and Kings. That is why you have got you go the First Book of the Kings, otherwise known as The Third book of Kings. Because it was actually part of the book of Kingdoms, and there are four sections to that book of Kingdoms.

And then you go into the latter Prophets, where you have got two divisions - the Major and the Minor. The Major is Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel and the Minor are the twelve. So that is the next one.

You then go into the Psalms and there are three sections to the Psalms. First of all the poetic books, secondly the Megilott, and thirdly the restoration books.

Now the poetic books are: the Psalms, Proverbs and Job. The Megilott which are the festival books, is the Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes and Esther. And finally the restoration books are; Daniel as one book, that is number 20. Ezra and Nehemiah which is 21 and Chronicles which is 22. So there are 22 in the Tanakh not 24 as Stern actually says.

Now the reason why Stern and the Jews go for 24 is because in the second Century they noticed basically that when you add the 22 books from the Old Testament to the New Testament you get 49 which is 7 x 7. You put the original New Testament order again and you put them all together, you add it to the Old Testament you get 49 books, which is 7 x 7 which is complete. They noticed that. It was something that was quite obvious because 95% of the manuscripts of the New Testament have that number and the order, which again is not the same way as the King James. The New Testament as well is not the same as the King James order. But they noticed that and therefore made changes in the 2nd Century AD.

To give you an illustration of how this also can work, Josephus actually mentions it himself. He says in 'Contra Apionem', book one, in paragraph eight, it says: "We have not an innumerable multitude of books amongst us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another as the Greeks have. But only 22 books which contain the records of all the past times which are justly believed to be divine. And of them, five belong to Moses, which contains his laws and the origins of mankind till his death."

And he goes and describes a bit more. But he clearly identifies it as 22 books, and that is the way it is. Or certainly the way it was. "The Jews saw it was 27 and 22 equals 49 books. That was too significant" So they changed the Old Testament to 24 books making a total of 51. And that is the reasoning behind what they actually did.

So not only are there three overall divisions but there are also seven divisions within that, as mentioned earlier on. You have the Torah, which is the first major division. You then have the Former Prophets, the Major prophets - which is Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel - and the Minor prophets; as four. You then, in the Ketuvim - in the Psalms, you have the poetic, the Megilott and the restoration; that is seven. So there is even structure within this order. This inspired order beyond just the fact that there's 22 books.

And remember 22 is a significant number because it is the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet. Now this is why you get Psalm 119 with 22. There are 22 sections in Psalm 119, each one beginning with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Giving the complete and total law of God. It is a commentary of God's law. That is what Psalm 119 is and so that's the reason for having it the way it is there.

How Did God Inspire the Old Testament Be Put Together (PLAY FROM 27:33)

Let's ask the question then. How did God inspire the Old Testament to be put together?

Now when we are looking at the New Testament. The New Testament was written one at a time, but at one time - it was within a space of a few years shortly after the death of Christ. Within a lifetime from the death of Christ, let's put it that way.

In the case of the Old Testament, it was written over thousands of years. There are thousands of years between Moses and Ezra. And God therefore had to guide the process.

If we turn over to II Timothy chapter 3, we have read it before about the holy scriptures in verse 15, but in verse 16 it says: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God," (II Timothy 3:16)

It literally means, 'all scripture is God-breathed'. Because it is by the Spirit, the inspiration is the breath of God. So all scripture is God-breathed. It's the case that God has guided the process. This is why when you come to higher-textual criticism with Westcott and Hort, which we will deal with when we come into the New Testament, they are completely off track. Because they assume that God had nothing to do with it. God had everything to do with it, was in amongst the process and clearly this is the Word of God. It is not just the word of men. It has been guided over the course of thousands of years.

Now here in the UK, not so much these days, but certainly it used to be, that there was a measurement called a 'yard'. And you had the standard yard and you would go to a certain weights and measures place - presumably in London - where they had this piece of brass or something that was a certain length. And you took the yard measure from this standard yard in London.

Now when we are looking at the Old Testament, there are many books even within the Old Testament, you find books that are being quoted, that are not canonized. Books being referred to. I will give you an example.

Turn over to I Chronicles 29 and notice verse 29. It says:

"Now the acts of David the king, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of Samuel the seer, and in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the book of Gad the seer, With all his reign and his might, and the times that went over him, and over Israel, and over all the kingdoms of the countries." (I Chronicles 29:29-30)

Now we don't have the book of Nathan or the book of Gad, yet these are being referenced and they were in existence obviously when I Chronicles was being put together. Another one, if you turn over to II Chronicles chapter nine, verse 29:

"Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, first and last, are they not written in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and in the visions of Iddo the seer against Jeroboam the son of Nebat?" (II Chronicles 9:29)

Now there is a reason why these are being actually mentioned, and this remember is Chronicles, and we will come on and understand a bit more of Chronicles. What I want to point out to you here is that these books were in existence at the time Chronicles was being written and there were prophecies there but they were not part of the canon. They were not part of the official writings of God. They did not have the stamp of approval and they have not survived down to today. They were not carefully copied and preserved the way that these words have been.

Now the word in Greek 'canon' literally means a 'yardstick' it means a rule, a measurement or an official measure. Now when you come into things like the Apocrypha, the apocrypha has quite interesting books. They date back into the times of Ezra and Nehemiah and a little bit beyond and they are quite interesting books but they are not part of the canon, even though the Catholic Church puts them in there. They are historical books, you can certainly go there and find out some history out of certain books within the Apocrypha, which means 'secret.' But they were written in Greek, they weren't written in Hebrew and they do not have the stamp of approval as we will go on and see the stamp of approval.

What I want to point out to you here though, make a note in your mind or in your notes for that matter, how whoever is writing this book says: ...Nathan the prophet, and in the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and in the visions of Iddo the seer against Jeroboam the son of Nebat?" (II Chronicles 9:29)

Notice it is going against Jeroboam. Now what did Jeroboam do? He went north into the area of Samaria. And you will find that throughout Chronicles references like this to outside works that you do not find in Samuel and Kings. And they are deliberate. They are in there for a very good reason. And it is the reason why you find II Chronicles at the end of the Old Testament. It is actually the end of the Old Testament. It is the last book in the Old Testament.

Now the point of reference; let's just go back and remind ourselves again. Deuteronomy 31, notice in verse 24:

"And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished, That Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the [Eternal], saying, Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the [Eternal] your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee." (Deuteronomy 31:24-26)

Now it was kept in the side of the ark and it was there to be accessed and to be referenced. However, if you remember the tabernacle was constantly being moved and therefore they would have access to the law. Once they finally had the temple they actually built a separate place for the law to be next to the ark, as I understand it.

So let's go into the five canonisation periods, and have a look at how these canonisation periods actually fit together.

1)The first one is Moses, that was the first canonisation period. It is where the stamp of approval went onto a group of books and that became the approved list of books.

2) Secondly was David and Solomon. Samuel was involved with that.

3)Thirdly Hezekiah, and Isaiah was involved with that one as well.

4)Fourth was Josiah. Josiah had Jeremiah, who was also involved with that canonisation.

5)Fifthly was Ezra and Nehemiah. Ezra was a priest and it is his canonisation that we have today. His is the one that really gives the official stamp to the scriptures that we have today and that have survived and the ones which Christ acknowledged and Christ referred to and was very clear about.

1. Moses (PLAY FROM 35:44)

Now in the case of Moses if we go back to Genesis chapter 5. Moses didn't write all of the first five books, but he did include all of the first five books. He canonized it. He said, right these are scripture, this is what we are going to have as scripture that goes and sits at the side of the ark so people can refer to these books, and this is the official yardstick. It is the canon.

If you notice in Genesis 5, verse 1, it says: "This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;" (Genesis 5:1)

Now obviously there was a book that had survived the flood, a scroll that had come through and he had access to either a record of that or however he got access to it, I have no idea. But this is the book. This chapter here gives all the details, and that is an inset chapter. In verse 26 of the preceding chapter - Genesis chapter 4 where is talks about them calling on the name of the Lord and then goes straight into chapter 6:1:

"And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth ... That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair..." (Genesis 6:1-2) >

The inset is chapter 5 which is actually a separate book which is called the generations of Adam. So it was being included as a pre-flood document within the basic law that we find as the canonisation that was being done.

As we have read a couple of times now, Moses finished the book of Deuteronomy. It was literally within the last 60 days or so of the 40-year wandering that Deuteronomy was finished. It gave a second giving of the law ready for them to go into the Promised Land. You will find things that are different. You will notice different animals mentioned in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 - which were the animals they would have when they go into the land of Canaan, whereas in Leviticus you will find it tends to be animals in the wilderness which they were having to deal with.

You find that just before his death Moses finished the books and then gave them to the priesthood as we have just read and they became therefore the official custodians. The priesthood of Israel are the custodians and they are in the hands of the Jews now. They are the custodians of the law, they were given that responsibility by Moses and by God through Moses.

Turn over to Deuteronomy 17. Another group of people had to know the law and this is the section - as we read earlier on and we will come and see how this in fact came into being - where is talks about in verse 14, "when you say, I'd like a king ..." . Notice in verse 18, it says:

"And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites:" (Deuteronomy 17:18)

So he had to copy it from the official version, he would have to go into the tabernacle, into the temple and they would bring out an official version of the law, and he would have to painstakingly go through and make a copy for himself. That was the rule of the king. Verse 19:

"And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life..." (Deuteronomy 17:19)

Remember there was no printing, no laser-jet, nothing like that, it was purely by hand, and the king had to painstakingly go through copying word by word.

This was the thinking, by the way, behind the church's concept of the Correspondence Course originally, where it's suggested that we all actually copy out the scriptures and write them out in long-hand. And it was coming back to this - saying, "look this was the way the kings had to do it in the past and it is therefore an exercise which is probably good for us." That was superceded a little later on, but that was the thinking years ago.

"And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the [Eternal] his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them:" (Deuteronomy 17:19)

Again, as we have talked about 'manna' during the days of Unleavened Bread, it was a case of getting up early and getting that manna and collecting it. And that was the sustenance, that a man may know that he doesn't live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." (Deuteronomy 8:3 paraphrased)

And here again we find, the kings reading every day of their life. It is something that we need to be doing as well. We are future kings and priests, and it is something that we also need to be doing and it part of the very law itself.

Supposing that they discover a real old manuscript going back to the time of Moses, or going back to the time of Joshua. If they were to do that, what they would actually find is that it would be a very curly script. The script that would be used would not look like Hebrew today! This was actually written in a curly, almost like an Arabic script. The nearest and the thing that you will find today, if you want to actually find a script that is the same or very, very similar, guess where it is - it is in Samaria. And you can go into the Samaritan monastery there on Mt Gerizim, and they maintain that is the original book of the law.

And in one sense, the way that is written, is the same way that it was written back when Moses wrote the book of the law. But we will come on and we'll see why it was changed. So that is the first canonisation period. It is a law which is both civil and religious and it is certainly accurate - it is the law of God. It comprises documents going right back to even pre-flood.

2. David and Solomon (PLAY FROM 43:56)

When we come to the second canonisation period; that is the period of David and Solomon. The reason for that canonisation was because of the temple. The temple had to be constructed. The tabernacle was not suitable any more for the numbers of people that were in Israel and they had to therefore have something a bit more and therefore the book of Psalms for the temple services was produced and by the time of David the whole tabernacle system, really was ineffective. And so what David did - if you look over in I Chronicles 24 - we find here how David set the courses of the priests. He divided the priests into courses so that they could then take turns within the temple which was to be built by his son.

I Chronicles 24, notice verse 18: "The three and twentieth to Delaiah, the four and twentieth to Maaziah." (I Chronicles 24:18)

And as mentioned in verse 1: Now these are the divisions of the sons of Aaron." (I Chronicles 24:1) And he begins to divide them up. And he actually divides them into 24 courses. And these 24 courses allowed the singers, allowed the priests to serve for two weeks and it therefore went right the way through the year.

If you notice in I Chronicles 25, the entire section. "Moreover David and the captains of the host separated to the service of the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals." (I Chronicles 25:1)

These are the singers, they also were divided into 24 course: and you find in verse 31: "The four and twentieth to Romamtiezer, he, his sons, and his brethren, were twelve."(I Chronicles 25:31)

So not only were the courses divided up but the actual books of Psalms were also divided up. You have book 1 which goes from Psalm 1 to Psalm 41. Book 2 which is Psalm 42 over to 72. So you should have three lots of 24, gives you 72, which is three years altogether. That is the way in which it was divided up.

It was a case of dividing up the temple courses and also giving the Psalms so that you have Psalms 1 to 72 comprising the first two books of the Psalms. And it is three times 24, there are 24 courses of singers which gives you one and a half years in the temple, so that is the basis of the system.

Other works were also canonized at this time. Solomon compiled Proverbs. If you turn over to Ecclesiastes 12, notice it says in verse 8: "Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher [the preacher was obviously Solomon]; all is vanity. And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs . The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth. The words of the wise ['wise ones', as it is better translated] are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd." (Ecclesiastes 12:8-11)

And this is coming from God, but they are words that have been already sorted out, and Solomon was the one who sorted out the proverbs and put them in order and canonized them and made them a part of the official canon.

"And further, by these [these words of the wise ones], my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:" (Ecclesiastes12:12-13) Because the words of the wise one have a spiritual undertone as well and you can then apply them across into our life in a spiritual way and they were in fact sorted out by Solomon.

Now there were other psalms also in existence. You can go into the psalms and you will find other psalms there but they were not canonized [at that time].

The book of Ruth was written, there are other proverbs that were written but were not actually canonized. I don't think that Proverbs were canonized at that time - I think Proverbs were canonized with Hezekiah, but they were set in order by Solomon at this time.

Ecclesiastes was obviously written, Song of Solomon, all of these were completed but they were not part of the canon, they hadn't got the official seal of canonisation on them.

3. Hezekiah and Isaiah (PLAY FROM 50:36)

Now we come to the next section which is Hekekiah. The 3rd canonisation period and you find the third book of Psalms being canonized at this time. This was prompted because of a potential attack by Assyria. Now if Assyria had actually taken Judah as well, they would need a canon of scripture for the people to actually refer back to. And this was part of the reason for the canonisation by Hezekiah.

In addition to Hezekiah, there was also Isaiah. And Isaiah was canonizing this. It is interesting when you look at the books that were added - Solomon actually complied the proverbs but he didn't actually canonize them. The canonisation was done by Hezekiah and Isaiah in the third canonisation period. So the book of Proverbs were actually added to the canon, some of the Psalms - which is book 3 of the Psalms - was added to the canon. Isaiah was added, as were Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings. So the Book of the Kingdoms.

Now the interesting thing is that when you look in the Jewish order, you go from Samuel, Kings - is followed by Isaiah. So Samuel and Kings gives a history of Israel and Judah, showing the actual mayhem that they got into, as did Joshua and Judges that come just before that. And then it goes straight into the prophecy of Isaiah that actually talks about the problems and how in fact people need to repent of this.

If you turn over to II Chronicles 28, we can read here of the father of Hezekiah. What actually happened;

"And Tilgath-pilneser king of Assyria came unto him, and distressed him, but strengthened him not. For Ahaz took away a portion out of the house of the [Eternal], and out of the house of the king, and of the princes, and gave it unto the king of Assyria: but he helped him not. And in the time of his distress did he trespass yet more against the [Eternal]: this is that king Ahaz. For he sacrificed unto the gods of Damascus, which smote him: and he said, Because the gods of the kings of Syria help them, therefore will I sacrifice to them, that they may help me. But they were the ruin of him, and of all Israel." (II Chronicles 28:20-23)

Now again, remember what I said, notice the things like this in Chronicles. He is talking about Damascus, he is talking about going north to the area round about Samaria. He is talking about these gods of the lands and how they in fact distressed and was the ruin of Israel.

"And Ahaz gathered together the vessels of the house of God, and cut in pieces the vessels of the house of God, and shut up the doors of the house of the [Eternal], and he made him altars in every corner of Jerusalem." (II Chronicles 28:24)

So he actually closed the entire temple down. Now that was the father of Hezekiah. And yet when you come to II Chronicles 31 and verse 20 you find Hezekiah has a totally different attitude of mind. It says:

"And thus did Hezekiah throughout all Judah, and wrought that which was good and right and truth before the [Eternal] his God. And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered." (II Chronicles 31:20-21)

And in fact he did study God's word intently. He discovered the word of God, he opened up the temple again that had previously been shut up by his father. He re-established the worship and that involved also some canonisation. Particularly, as I say, you are looking at the book of Isaiah that was calling on repentance. And Isaiah has a great deal to say to us today.

It is talking about temple worship, it is talking about getting the temple back on track. And getting the people of God back on track and we need to look at it and look at Zion and to understand the pressures that they were under at that time. Remember Assyria was about to take over the northern tribes and take them away.

There were also other things going on as well. There were several things going on at that time and there was something that Hezekiah did - the actual stamp - that was then continued by the other canonisation periods. And that was a sign manual, a thing called a Tri-grammaton.

Now the word Hezekiah, if you take the word 'hezeki' I think it is, the h-z-k which in Hebrew are the 'kaf','zajin','hej'... These three letters then were placed at the end of every Old Testament book that Hezekiah put this stamp on. The only ones that he didn't put the stamp on were the Megilott. Now these were used throughout the year at the festivals; that is the Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes and Esther. Now some of these were later on but when you are coming into Ezra and Nehemiah, they didn't have this Tri-grammaton stamp on them that was put at the end of the book. You don't find them in the King James. You don't find them in any of our translations, but you go to the original manuscripts and you will find this stamp, these three letters being put at the end of every book that has to say "Look, this is the official book. This is the canonized version." These three letters were actually placed there.

Now the reason why some of the Psalms were actually added, and the reason why he had to do something more with the Psalms; if you notice over in Isaiah 38, you will find some information there.

Now what happened is that it seems as if that the actual year was upset at this time. There seems to be up to this time 360 days in the year and it was around this time that there was an enormous upheaval in the heavenly signs, the heavenly sphere. Again you are looking at what is happening today and the things that are happening today. We are going to go through something again that is probably going to put the heavens right again and put the year back into its kilter.

But this sun going back by 10 degrees that you find in Isaiah 38, you will find over in verse 20:

"The [Eternal] was ready to save me: therefore we will sing my songs to the stringed instruments all the days of our life in the house of the [Eternal]. For Isaiah had said, Let them take a lump of figs, and lay it for a plaister upon the boil, and he shall recover. Hezekiah also had said, What is the sign that I shall go up to the house of the [Eternal]?" (Isaiah 38:20-22)

And the sun went back by 10 degrees and it does seem as if, at that time the Jews say the present calendar actually came from the hands of Hezekiah. They had to work out the calendar again. And the hands of Hezekiah at that time had to supercede the regular year that David had set up.

If we go over to II Chronicles 32 we find here;

"Now the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and his goodness, behold, they are written in the vision of Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, and in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel." (II Chronicles 32:32)

Now the actual translation is: "The remainder of the actions of Hezekiah and his beneficial rule are recorded in the visions of Isaiah-ben-Amotz, the Prophet, upon the history of the kings of Judah and Israel." In fact, Isaiah therefore wrote - as far as we can tell - you are looking at the kings of Judah and Israel, the Book of Kings. The Book of The Kingdoms is going then into the book of Isaiah. It gives a prelude to the book of Isaiah. And it certainly itemises the failures of their forefathers before. Isaiah then is put immediately after that.

4. Josiah and Jeremiah (PLAY FROM 1:00:41)

So we go into the next canonisation period and the next canonisation period is at the time of Josiah. Now it is a similar period to the time of Hezekiah. This time it was not the attack of Assyria that was the threat, it was the attack of Babylon. And it was threating to attack Judah and Jeremiah was alive at that time and he was certainly instrumental in the canonisation.

The preceding king - if you turn over to II Chronicles 33 regarding Manasseh - notice what it says in verse 9, it;

"So Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen, whom the [Eternal] had destroyed before the children of Israel." (II Chronicles 33:9)

So Manasseh was actually the grandfather of Josiah. And Josiah then again had to discover the book of the law. In chapter 34, if you notice in verse 14:

" And when they brought out the money that was brought into the house of the [Eternal], Hilkiah the priest found a book of the law of the [Eternal] given by Moses. And Hilkiah answered and said to Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the [Eternal]. And Hilkiah delivered the book to Shaphan. And Shaphan carried the book to the king..." (II Chronicles 34:14-160)

And Josiah realised how much off track they were! You are looking at tens of years going back - hundreds of years in certain cases - separating these canonisation periods. In fact thousands of years if you go right the way back, but you are looking at how the Minor prophets, Jeremiah and Lamentations was added at that time. In II Chronicles 35:23, notice verse 25:

"And the archers shot at king Josiah; and the king said to his servants, Have me away; for I am sore wounded. His servants therefore took him out of that chariot, and put him in the second chariot that he had; and they brought him to Jerusalem, and he died, and was buried in one of the sepulchres of his fathers. And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah. And Jeremiah lamented for Josiah: and all the singing men and the singing women spake of Josiah in their lamentations to this day [now 'to this day' is in fact to the day of Ezra], and made them an ordinance in Israel [notice - an ordinance in Israel]: and, behold, they are written in the lamentations." (II Chronicles 35:23-25)

Now the book of Lamentations was written because of the death of Josiah. Now the reason for that is that there is a prophecy that God had actually said to Josiah because his heart was tender that he would in fact maintain Judah, during the time of his reign. And once he died then the destruction of Judah would come. And that is why the book of Lamentations was written because they could then see that here was the destruction of Judah right on their doorstep. And with the death of Josiah they were moving into a very different era, a very different time. And in fact the canonisation was going to be used at that time.

5. Ezra and Nehemiah (PLAY FROM 1:04:30)

So we finally come to the canonisation of Ezra and Nehemiah. Now, if you turn over to Genesis 14, you find remarks right through the Old Testament that had been put in there by this canonisation, that of Ezra and Nehemiah. Notice in Genesis 14:17:

"And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, [notice:] which is the king's dale." (Genesis 14:17)

Now the valley of Shaveh would have been the word that would have been known back in the time when this was originally written but an explanatory note was put in that it was 'the king's dale' - that's the explanatory note.

If you notice in verse 7 of the same chapter: "And they returned, and came to Enmishpat, which is Kadesh, and smote all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites,..." (Genesis 14:7)

'...which is Kadesh' has been added there. And there are many places like this, you will come across which says, "in this particular place, which is such-and-such" which were explanatory notes that were being added by Ezra and the people that were with him who were in fact putting this final canonisation on it.

Now Ezra actually came to Jerusalem around 457 BC, the canonisation took place. But he came with about 4000 priests. He was determined to establish the temple worship the way it ought to be. It took him 13 years to get all of Judah on track. And Nehemiah then came - he was the governor - and if you notice over in Nehemiah chapter 10:28:

"And the rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the porters, the singers, the Nethinims, and all they that had separated themselves from the people of the lands unto the law of God, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, every one having knowledge, and having understanding; They clave to their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse, and into an oath, to walk in God's law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the [Eternal] our Lord, and his judgments and his statutes; And that we would not give our daughters unto the people of the land, nor take their daughters for our sons: And if the people of the land bring ware or any victuals on the sabbath" ... (Nehemiah 10:28-31)

And this particular occurrence was the start of the Sanhedrin. It was the beginning of the Sanhedrin or the Great Synagogue at that particular time. This oath that they entered into and they made this agreement and the priests, then they had this assembly of a 120 members and they were responsible for making sure that this was done. And part of this was the canonisation.

If we notice over in Nehemiah chapter 13, there was one person where there was a problem. "And before this, Eliashib the priest, having the oversight of the chamber of the house of our God, was allied unto Tobiah:" (Nehemiah 13:4)

Now in the case of Tobiah, he was, as I understand it, Sanballet's top-ranking servant; he was his top minister. So Tobiah was down in Jerusalem and was allied to Eliashib. Now Sanballat was the governor or the ruler of Samaria. He was the head of the Samaritans, and therefore Tobiah was his representative down in Jerusalem. And here was this priest Eliashib who had actually given him a place within the very temple itself.

"And he had prepared for him a great chamber, where aforetime they laid the meat offerings, the frankincense, and the vessels, and the tithes of the corn, the new wine, and the oil, which was commanded to be given to the Levites, and the singers, and the porters; and the offerings of the priests. But in all this time was not I [Nehemiah] at Jerusalem: for in the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon came I unto the king, and after certain days obtained I leave of the king: And I came to Jerusalem, and understood of the evil that Eliashib did for Tobiah, in preparing him a chamber in the courts of the house of God. And it grieved me sore: therefore I cast forth all the household stuff of Tobiah out of the chamber." (Nehemiah 13:7-9)

So he grabbed hold of all his stuff and he just chucked the stuff out and got rid of it out of the temple area. But if you notice over in verse 23:

"In those days also saw I Jews that had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab: And their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews' language, but according to the language of each people. And I contended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves. Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin. Shall we then hearken unto you to do all this great evil, to transgress against our God in marrying strange wives? And one of the sons of Joiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, was son in law to Sanballat the Horonite: therefore I chased him from me." (Nehemiah 13:23-28)

Now this was Manasseh and he had Sanballat as his father-in-law and he was actually asked by Sanballat to come up to Samaria and to become the priest of the Samaritans. He actually built a temple at Gerizim. He wouldn't accept Isaiah, he wouldn't accept the canonisation of the Jews at all. He only accepted the Pentateuch; the first five books. And even there it was corrupted. And it was in this curly script. And it was in this original curly script as delivered by Moses. Remember they had continued in Samaria all the way through when the Jews had been taken away captive across to Babylon. They had been put into Samaria by the Assyrians and the Assyrians and the Babylonians were in league. And so what Ezra did to try and counteract this he actually authorised the square script.

Turn over to Matthew chapter 5:18: "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." (Matthew 5:18)

Now these are the projections that you find on the Babylonian square script that we have in our Bibles today or in the Hebrew canon today.

So the Samaritans also had corrupted the sacred calendar. They had shifted the months. They had corrupted several of the ways of God, and therefore the months were changed as well by Ezra. They were changed to the Babylonian system so that they could make a distinction between the Samaritans and between the Jews.

In addition to that Chronicles was written. It was written by Ezra and its outlook is a priestly one. It is showing that Jerusalem has always been the headquarters. Jerusalem was the headquarters and it used a whole range of secular books to back up this claim. So when you go through Chronicles you will be finding, for instance, where David is dealing with Jerusalem, you will find it goes on for chapter after chapter after chapter. But the reason is it is trying to counteract what was going on regarding Sanballat, regarding Manasseh and the northern Samaritans, and this corruption. And as we go into the Bible study on the New Testament we will find exactly the same thing occurs in the New Testament as well. They are countering this problem with the Samaritan religion, with Simon Magus.

6. Questions Addressed (PLAY FROM 1:14:21)

Now to answer some of these questions that I gave at the beginning.

Psalm 119 – why Hebrew letters? It is because it is an acrostic poem and it is speaking of a complete and perfect law. Just as the revelation in the Hebrew tongue also is complete today. There are 22 books, there always were in the past. It was changed to 24 in the second century.

Why third Kings? Because Samuel and Kings are The Book of The Kingdoms. There are four sections to The Book of The Kingdoms and they are to be counted as one group.

Deuteronomy 17:14 which we read before. Turn over to I Samuel 10; "Then Samuel told the people the manner of the kingdom, and wrote it in a book [or in the book, it is the book that was right beside the law, it was actually added into Deuteronomy 17] and laid it up before the [Eternal]. And Samuel sent all the people away, every man to his house." (I Samuel 10:25)

So the reason why Samuel didn't look in the law and find that section in Deuteronomy 17, is because he wrote it, he put it in there.

Why are there 66 books? Because basically they're the books of man. There are actually 22 books and you add them with 27 in the New and you get 49, which is seven times seven, and we will go into that a little bit more.

Why Chronicles as well as Samuel and Kings? It was added by Ezra and I'll just read what Adam Clarke has to say about it:

"The principle design of the writer appears to have been this: to point out, from the public registers, which were still preserved, what had been the state of the different families previously to the captivity, that at their return they may enter on and repossess their respective inheritances. He enters particularly into the functions, genealogies, families and orders of the priests and Levities; and this was peculiarly necessary after the return from the captivity, to the end that the worship of God might be conducted in the same way as before, and by the proper legitimate persons.

"He is also very particular relative to what concerns religion, the worship of God, the temple and its utensils, the kings who authorised or tolerated idolatry, and those who maintain the worship of the true God. In his distribution of praise and blame, these are the qualities that principally occupy his attention and influence his pen." (Adam Clarke's Commentary)

Now we should notice what he has to say, because when we come to today or when we are looking at the New Testament next week we will see that the similar kind of thing had to be addressed.

And when we come to today also it is quite interesting that we have Mr Armstrong's words being twisted. We have already had cases where the tapes have been doctored to remove things, like make-up, before they are played. We have heard of those kind of things going on and it appears that there might be even more.

So "No new thing under the sun". This is the reason there are the canonisation periods and is certainly applicable to us. It gives information, not just historic, but it is also very down-to-earth as far as what we are going through and the way the Word has been delivered to us at these times as well.