Why Did God Give the Bible?
Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim
Just prior to giving His Bible (Torah) to Moses, God told Moses to address the Jewish nation as follows:
And now, if you surely listen to My voice and keep My covenant, you shall be treasured from all other peoples, for the entire Earth is mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation… (Exod. 19:5,6)
Now, do not say that you (children of Israel) alone belong to Me and that I have no other peoples besides you, and what more to Me do I have that should make your love for Me apparent? But other nations are before Me as nothing.
Rashi says that God first tells the Jews not to think they alone are God’s people. But then God says other nations are nothing. This appears contradictory. We also wonder what is the relationship between the 2 concepts in the verse above:
1) the Jews should follow God and be a treasured people, and
2) the entire Earth is God’s.
What is the connection?
Even though the entire human species are more precious to Me above all the lower (earthly) existences, for mankind alone is the intent of all else, as the rabbis say, “Humans are beloved because they were created in God’s image,” [yet] the difference between Jews and others is minute. For indeed, the whole earth is Mine, and the righteous gentiles are precious to Me without a doubt.
Sforno praises righteous gentiles. Do Sforno and Rashi share the same message?
“What more to Me do I have that should make your love for Me apparent?” (Rashi)
“What more do I have” refers to “more than Torah,” which God gave to the Jews. God’s intent is that the Jews’ Torah adherence makes their love of God apparent to the world. God intends the Jews’ love of God to act as a model for all mankind, and Torah is the greatest means for man to demonstrate his love of God. This explains why God says, “you shall be treasured from all other people, for the entire Earth is mine.” In other words, God says the Jews shall become an example (treasure) for all mankind, as God loves all mankind, “the entire Earth is mine.” God gives the perfect way of life—Torah—to the Jews, precisely to share it with mankind. Sforno too says the Jews’ distinction is a small matter since righteous gentiles are without a doubt precious to God. “The whole earth is Mine” conveys mankind’s equality. The Jew is not superior.
We asked on Rashi that God first tells the Jews not to think they alone are God’s people. But then God says other nations are nothing. This appears contradictory. We now answer that Rashi should be read as follows:
Now, do not say that you (children of Israel) alone belong to Me and that I have no other peoples besides you, for I, God, love all peoples. And what greater gift than Torah can make your love for Me apparent, as a lesson to all other nations to follow Me, just as you do! The other nations are before Me—at present—as nothing (as they are idolatrous), but I do not wish them to remain this way. Therefore you shall teach them, for all peoples are Mine.
And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation… (Exod. 19:6)
God explains that the Jews shall act as a model for the world. Rashi and Sforno teach equally that God’s designation of Israel as Torah recipients is not intended for them alone. God created all mankind for a reason. The Jew is not favored, but should share Torah with all mankind: “the difference between you (Jews) is less or more, for indeed, the whole earth is Mine, and the righteous gentiles are precious to Me without a doubt” (Sforno).
“You shall be treasured from all other peoples, for the entire Earth is mine”
The Jews received Torah (they are treasured) in order to teach the nations, as God loves all His creations, i.e., “the entire Earth is Mine.”
Why did God give His Bible to mankind?
He did so, so man could attain the most fulfilling existence. Man alone possesses intelligence, a soul. God gave man a soul, for through engaging the soul’s function of gaining wisdom of nature and Torah, man finds the utmost satisfaction. Man is designed to find the greatest happiness when exploring God’s wisdom in all He created. In contrast, the world today teaches man to chase physical pleasures, fame and wealth. The world thinks that a momentary sensual gratification, an impressive title of CEO, or luxury homes and cars will satisfy man. But man is deluded by ego and lusts, and never attains his hoped-for happiness. Physical pleasures cannot satisfy man’s core element, his soul. So all such pleasures must fail, as King Solomon taught in his work Ecclesiastes (Koheles).
Steps towards happiness
If Jew and gentile alike would momentarily view their ongoing frustrations and disappointments as a lesson to cease from chasing a life of physical pleasure and success, and engage a life of wisdom, man would find the happiness he seeks. This is the lesson of all great minds throughout time. It is wise that we follow wise men.
Take the first step, and commence a dialogue with an intelligent orthodox Jew. It is the Jew’s obligation to share God’s Bible with the world.
God did not give the other religions to mankind; all other religions are man-made, based on corrupt human philosophies. God gave His Bible alone to man, and nothing else. Be good to yourself and follow only God’s proven words. But following false religions offering no proof of divine origin cannot lead to happiness.
Once you see clearly based on reason and proof that Bible alone is God’s book, you will then explore further and uncover Bible’s unique brilliance that is designed only by God.