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Old Testament | Quotes

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1.

So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth."


Narrator, Genesis

In the first creation account of Genesis in verses 1:27–28, God creates humanity on the 6th day after everything else on earth has been made. This passage asserts that humanity is uniquely made "in the image of God." While the language of this statement refers to physical resemblance, it has been theologically interpreted in many different ways. In God's blessing, humanity is given a privileged role over the rest of creation and directed to spread throughout the earth.

2.

Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you.


Yahweh/God, Genesis

The story of the people of Israel begins with this first promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:1. Genesis gives no explanation of why Yahweh selects Abraham for this role. In response to this promise, Abraham leaves his home in Mesopotamia for the land of Canaan and maintains faith in Yahweh throughout the rest of his life.

3.

I will take you as my people, and I will be your God. You shall know that I am Yahweh your God, who has freed you from the burdens of the Egyptians.


Yahweh/God, Exodus

This promise of Yahweh to Moses in Exodus 6:7 encapsulates the primary narrative arc of Exodus–Deuteronomy in a single declaration, and its language is echoed repeatedly throughout the Hebrew Bible. Yahweh's identity and character are more fully revealed to the people of Israel in the exodus, and they become bound to Yahweh in a legal agreement or covenant relationship.

4.

I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.


Yahweh/God, Exodus

This first instruction of the Ten Commandments, or Decalogue, is found in Exodus 20:2–3 and is foundational for the entire law. Exclusive loyalty to Yahweh is the first and most essential stipulation of the covenant between Yahweh and Israel.

5.

You shall be holy, for I Yahweh your God am holy.


Yahweh/God, Leviticus

This statement in Leviticus 19:2 conveys the core theme of the book of Leviticus (especially the Holiness Code) and the basic logic of the mandate for holiness in the Hebrew Bible. Because Yahweh is holy, the people of Israel are required to be holy as well in order to remain in relationship with Yahweh.

6.

Hear, O Israel: Yahweh is our God, Yahweh alone. You shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.


Moses, Deuteronomy

This exhortation comes from Deuteronomy 6:4–5. Known as the Shema—Hebrew for "hear"—the exhortation encapsulates the central message of exclusive loyalty to Yahweh in Deuteronomy. It is singled out as a central command of the Torah in Jewish tradition and is a central element of traditional Jewish prayer cycles. In the New Testament, Jesus calls it the greatest commandment in the law.

7.

When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you ...and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.


Yahweh/God, 2 Samuel

Located in 2 Samuel 7:11–13, this prophetic message delivered by the prophet Nathan to King David conveys the promise from Yahweh of an unending dynasty on the throne of Jerusalem. Although David is not permitted to build Yahweh's temple himself, his son (Solomon) would, and their descendants would continue to rule in perpetuity. Other texts in the Hebrew Bible refer to this as a Davidic "covenant" with Yahweh.

8.

The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.


Narrator, Proverbs

This expression from Proverbs 9:10 captures much of the essence of "wisdom literature" in the Hebrew Bible. In particular, it expresses the correlation of wisdom and piety in this corpus. "Fear" with reference to God implies due reverence, devotion, and humility.

9.

He shall judge between the nations ... they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.


Isaiah, Isaiah

Isaiah 2:4, duplicated in Micah 4, envisions the end of war among the nations of the world. This image of peace appears within a fuller description of the "Day of Yahweh" that several of the biblical prophets looked forward to, when Yahweh would intervene and set things right in the world.

10.

I am Yahweh, and there is no other; besides me there is no god.


Yahweh/God, Isaiah

This statement from Isaiah 45:5 is one of several from Chapters 40–55 of Isaiah that assert an explicit monotheism. Yahweh alone is God, and no other gods exist. Despite common assumptions to the contrary, this perspective is not reflected in most of the Hebrew Bible. Its clearest articulation in Isaiah marks a consequential historical theological development for the so-called monotheistic faiths that would develop from the religion of ancient Israel.

11.

The days are surely coming, says Yahweh, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors...I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.


Yahweh/God, Jeremiah

This passage, Jeremiah 31:31–33, expresses an idea found in several texts from the time of the Judean exile. The covenant between Yahweh and Israel had been suspended or broken with the exile but would be renewed when the exile ended. Here, Jeremiah refers not just to a covenant renewal but to a new and different covenant with Israel. Early Christians appropriated this phrase for their own understanding of a new covenant/testament.

12.

Again one in human form touched me and strengthened me. He said ... "There shall be a time of anguish, such as has never occurred since nations first came into existence. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book. Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt."


Narrator, Daniel

This text comes from Daniel 10:18-19, 12:1–2. This portion of the angel's message to Daniel illustrates new ideas that had developed within Judaism by the 2nd century BCE. It is the only clear statement in the Hebrew Bible of a general expectation of the resurrection of the dead, for either reward or punishment.

13.

Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.


Yahweh/God, Amos

This prophetic message from Amos 5:24 expresses the emphasis on justice and righteousness found in many of the prophets in the Hebrew Bible. In the full passage from which this well-known line is quoted, Yahweh declares that these things matter more than the formal elements of religion such as festivals, music, and sacrifices.

14.

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does Yahweh require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?


Narrator, Micah

This memorable statement from Micah 6:8 epitomizes the "ethical monotheism" of the biblical prophets. Here, the prophet Micah enumerates a view of the essence of true Israelite religion around three foci of justice, kindness/mercy, and humility before God.

15.

Remember the teaching of my servant Moses, the statutes and ordinances that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel. Lo, I will send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes.


Yahweh/God, Malachi

The corpus of prophets in the Hebrew Bible ends with this statement in Malachi 4:4–5. It emphasizes two key points for Judaism in the Second Temple period: continued devotion to the Torah, and the expectation of an imminent divine intervention—here, cast as a return of the prophet Elijah—on behalf of Yahweh's people of Israel.

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