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Table of Contents
LINES 1-360. THE HISTORY OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL
The history rolls on, through the story of the Tower of Babel; Abraham, Joseph, and the journey to Egypt; the freeing of the Israelites by Moses, with the parting of the Red Sea; the Ten Commandments given to Moses by God; and the making of the Holy Tabernacle.
When the narrative gets to Joshua, Adam interrupts to ask why mankind needs so many laws, for "so many laws argue so many sins." This gives Michael (who is clearly the voice of Milton) an opportunity to say that laws discover sin because they provoke the sinful to break them, which of course brings on more laws. But law can't remove sin. Law shows a need to make recompense for sin; it accustoms man to the need for internal discipline. Milton thinks law is inferior to faith, the free acceptance of God's will.
After Joshua (whose name is close to that of Jesus-both mean "savior") has brought the Israelites into the promised land of Canaan, they continue to have political troubles, including their seventy-year captivity in Babylon. In fact, they are so politically messed up that when their Messiah, Jesus Christ, the Son of God in human form, arrives, the Jews are ruled by the Romans.