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Bible (From the Greek Biblia, Meaning "Books")

BIBLE (from the Greek biblia, meaning "books")

Ensemble of writings presented as being divinely inspired. The Hebrew Bible (TaNaKh, in Hebrew) is comprised of three sections: Torah (Pentateuch), Neviʾim (Prophets), and Ketuvim (Holy Writings). Originating with Moses in the desert around the thirteenth century b.c.e., the Bible developed in Palestine principally through oral transmission, in tandem with the evolution of the Jewish people. It began with the creation of the world, and went on to recount relations between God and humankind. Considered the book of the people of Israel, the Bible designated, by extension, the written law of the Jewish people. This sacred work included, among others, the Book of Joshua, which told the story of the conquest of Canaan; that of Samuel, which recounted the history of the Hebrew people up to the time they came to be ruled by royalty; and the Book of Kings, which recalled the history of the Kingdom of Solomon and the destruction of the Kingdom of Israel in 722 b.c.e.

The Hebrew Bible corresponds to the Old Testament of the Christians, the latter not recognizing the same texts as the Jews. Most of the Bible was composed in Hebrew, with some passages in Aramaic. In many of its stories, Biblical literature is based on real material elements, though the marvelous sometimes prevails. For example, the episode of Moses and the burning bush could be a description of fraxinella, a desert plant that bursts into flame easily in very hot weather. Likewise the tale of the "plagues," visited on the Egyptians because of the refusal of Pharaoh to allow the Hebrews to leave, could be a description of natural events.

The Zionist movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, which sought to establish a national homeland for Jews in Palestine, drew upon the Biblical notion of Eretz Yisrael, the "Promised Land" pledged by God to his chosen people. Adherents of the Greater Land of Israel movement, founded after the Arab-Israel War of 1967, who oppose ceding sovereignty of Occupied Territories, base their conception of Eretz Yisrael on the definition of a Biblical Promised Land.

SEE ALSO Eretz Yisrael.

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