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Reflection Paper on Handbook on the Pentateuch by Victor Hamilton

Daniel Kim
According to Hamilton, there are three different scenes in the debacle. First there are
many complaints about hardships in the desert and are related to a pattern of behavior. Second,
people arent satisfied with manna and commands for some meat. Third, Miriam challenges both
sagacity of Moses in choice of wife and credibility of his unique relationship to God. On each
incident, the author goes in deep to explain in further detail. One thing that I thought was really
interesting was the 2
nd
scene. God honored His peoples urge for meat, but He also unleashes a
disease on the people. He states that when the divine spirit (ruah) is active, there is a potential for
either blessing bordering on ecstasy or catastrophe bordering on obliteration. I thought this was
interesting, because God is the most powerful Father in the world and he has the ability to bless
those who are faithful and trustful with God. Inversely, to those who dont fully trust God, He
cannot fully protect and reach us. Another thing that I read that was interesting was what T.E.
Fretheim said. He stated that what the children of Israel desired, ironically, they got. They said
that they wanted to die right there in the wilderness and God granted that wish by leading into 40
years of judgments. I began to wonder if this was actually true. Did God really make Israel live
in the wilderness for 40 years to make sure that those generation that said that they want to die
right there in the wilderness died off so that the new generation would be the ones entering to
Canaan. Lastly, I want to talk about the section about the 2 types of impurity. One was about the
ritual impurity by touching something dead. There were some rituals on purifying corpses.
Hamiliton states that this themes is mostly concerned about not treating death lightly and not to
become paranoid about it. The other impurity was not trusting God. Moses hit the rock twice to
let the water cool his people. Mosess trust on God did not honor Him in front of Israel and that
became his impurity, which later prevented him to enter the promised land.
I also want to note something that the author pointed about concerning the serpants.
Hamilton says that God does not take away the serpents, instead he provided a cure, in which a
serpent should be raised to a pole and whoever looks at it will be saved. The reason why God
didnt get rid of the serpants was that he had not yet abolished sin. Jesus cruxifixtion is the true
eradication of sin and until then he had to provide a solution to this problem. That reminds me of
what I read in Patriarchs and Prophets. After reading the 1
st
chapter, I thought that God created
the earth and everything in it, so that sin could be expanded and more evolved. Then He would
send his only Son, Jesus to die for us and wholly eradicate sin.
It was really interesting to read the Jacob chapter. He said that God held up a mirror to
Jacob. He made Jacob spend 20 years with his uncle, laban, whose character was similar to God.
He states that because Laban is a gracious host and a generous employer, he is almost portrayed
similarily as God. I have never thought of Laban of it this way, and was quite interesting. Jacob
who deceived his father, became deceived as his uncle.
I learned Jacobs 3 characteristics; a consciousness of weakness, a consuming hunger for
God and a confession of unworthiness. Then after all that, God gave Jacob a new name and
character, a new power, a new blessing, a new testimony a new start, and a new reminded of his
own weakness. Hamiltons verse by verse commentary are easy to understand and useful. It
breaks down the complicated verses to little point that the reader and visualize and quickly
understand.
Hamilton talked about some great themes that teach about God in Genesis. He states that
the 1
st
truth is of Gods oneness. All the resources for self-fulfillment are within himself. He is
no spouse or another deity. Second truth is that there is a line of distinction between God as a
creator and humankind as creature. The third truth is that God is plural in his nature. This was a
little weird for me to understand because I cant really know which he agrees with, but he states
that when God says us he may be talking to the heavens and the angels. Another interpretation
is that he is talking to other gods and deities. Another one is that He may be talking to earth and
humankind as a whole. Fourth truth is that God is moral and holy. And the last truth is that God
is majestic and sovereign. Hamiltons points are clear and to the point. He uses lots of references
and other commentaries to explain and give more information; however he does not give his
much opinion, although he may agree with some of the others.
Another passage that I read about is related to the temptation of Eve. I was like no way
when I read this. He said that possibly, the reason why the serpent chose Eve to tempt was
because she received the Gods commandment through her husband, Adam. And tempting Adam
would have been more challenging because he received Gods law directly from God Himself. It
makes sense that Satan would do this. Another source said that women are much weaker in spirit
than men. I dont think this view is quite understandable.
This is my 1
st
time seeing that our ten commandments are stated again other than Exodus
20. Apparently it is restated in Deuteronomy 5 with a slight variation. Sabbath, the 4
th

commandment was slightly different from the different incidents. I never knew God was so
detailed even in His commandments. For Deuteronomy , it was to remind the people of how God
saved them from Egypt. In Exodus, its about resting on Sabbath because its to glorify the work
of the creation week. It was quite interesting to read all of them and think about it.
It also showed a visual picture of how the 12 tribes were equally divided and situated
around the Holy Tabernacle as a symbol of the central place to be given to the Lord. It was my
first time seeing this diagram and I could picture the Israelites setting up tents and houses around
the tabernacle. There was a place that we visited during the tour and it was place right next to the
Mt. Sinai. Moses would have went up the mountain and the flat land where Israelites set up
would be a perfect place to look up and see the glory of God. The huge flat ground in the middle
of the mountainside is strange in terms of the middle part of the land. It is slighting raised up, as
if the tabernacle was set up there, all the 4 divisions of tribes would be looking up towards the
middle Tabernacle. I thought it was a good reminder that God is our center and we should be
looking up at him.
Promises of God to the patriarchs include the birth of a son, the increase of descendants,
land, divine presence, and blessing. Another important thing that I learned was that Gods
faithfulness from generation to the next generation is a renewed promise. God makes sure to fill
all our needs and our wants if we truly desire it and ask Him. I have learned this from the chapter.
Humans responsibility is belief in God. While on the other hand, His responsibility is to be with
us and promise us things. Another interesting thing that I thought about was Pauls 9
characteristics of Abrahams faith; theistic, suprarational, purposeful, intelligent and realistic,
unwavering, well grounded, strengthening, worshiping, and assuring. Paul uses these
characteristics to illustrate the requirement of faith in order to become the child of God. And I
got a feeling that I should also try to live a faithful life like Abraham. He even was willing to
sacrifice his only son to show faithfulness to God. If I were to have my faith as strong as that I
dont think I would ever need anything in life from God, because faith is the thing that brings us
together.
I have read Numbers, Genesis 1, Genesis 3, Genesis 4, Deuteronomy, and numbers 2 readings
that were posted on moodle.
What I liked about these readings was that Hamilton states various points of views throughout
the reading. There were many interesting points that many other people stated. There were many
major themes that were stated and that kept the readings more concise and clear to the point. It
has really helped to understand the Pentateuch better and to inspire myself to study it more. I
think that reading with other commentaries will really help out in research or even in sermons.