It is no accident that Samuel, Kings and Chronicles are the three longest books (by word count) in the Hebrew Bible (between 24,000 and 26,000 words each) and therefore the most likely to be divided. The division may have occurred when the Greek translation of these books was made, because the translations are longer than the originals and we can speculate that the books had reached their practical limit in terms of scroll length. Thus anything longer than that would literally be divided.


B.C.E. (Before the Common Era) and C.E. (Common Era) are the religiously neutral terms used by scholars, corresponding to B.C. and A.D.


The author is well known as the general editor of the Anchor Bible series, probably the leading Bible commentary in modern times.—Ed.


There are several different ways of counting the Decalogue. Different religious bodies have assigned numbers to them in different ways. The numbering here reflects what might be called the consensus position to which most scholars adhere.


In Deuteronomy 5:12 the word is “observe.”


The full text reads as follows:

“You shall not desire [or covet] your neighbor’s house. You shall not desire your neighbor’s wife, his man or maidservant, his ox or his ass, or anything at all that belongs to your neighbor” (Exodus 20:17).

The version in Deuteronomy 5:21(5:18 in Hebrew) differs slightly from the version in Exodus. In Exodus, the neighbor’s house comes before the neighbor’s wife; in Deuteronomy the order is reversed. In addition, in Exodus the word for desire or covet (tahmod) is repeated; in Deuteronomy, tahmod is used the first time, but a synonym, titawweh, is used for desire or covet the second time the concept is referred to.