Is The Bible For Me…

Thank you for all you do providing wisdom and guidance. How does one who isn’t Jewish know if the Bible is for him, or just for a certain people living at a certain time? Thanks again.

Marcus W.

Dear Marcus,

In one of the most delicious ironies of history, the home of the French philosopher Voltaire who predicted that the Bible would go out of print during his lifetime was sold to the Bible Society that translates and disseminates the Bible in untold numbers of languages. Many more people today read the Bible than can even identify, let alone read, Voltaire.

When someone tells you that a new book is going to be a classic, the truth is that we will only know if it is a classic a century or two down the road. The Bible has stood the test of time. Many principles of the Bible have entered civilized society so deeply that we don’t even realize that they are Biblical principles. For example, in Deuteronomy 23:13 the Israelite soldiers are instructed to carry a shovel with them to bury their excrement. This became the basis for recognizing that sewage needs to be dealt with rather than left anywhere and everywhere.

All of our Scrolling through Scripture courses demonstrate how the Bible is meant for all times and all places. In fact, there are parts of the Bible that our great-grandparents could only take on faith because their meaning has only become clear in recent times. We, on the other hand, see how these sections unfolded in history. In Clash of Destiny: Decoding the Secrets of Israel and Islam, for example, we discuss one section of the book of Esther in which the ancient Jewish wisdom that had been passed on from the time of Mordechai and Esther over two millennia ago, marched onto the stage of history in 1946.

There certainly are specific instructions in the Bible intended only for certain groups, be they the Jewish people, only men or only women, or for those of different occupations. However, the Bible is not a history book or a storybook. If something is written in it, it has practical lessons for all times and places. The more you study, the more evident this is.

Thank you for your thoughtful question,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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