|1 Samuel||2 Samuel||1 Kings||2 Kings|
|1 Chronicles||2 Chronicles||Ezra||Nehemiah|
|Eccleiastes||Song of Solomon||Isaiah||Jeremiah|
Origin-The first five books of the Bible,also called the Pentateuch, according to Christian and Jewish tradition were written by Moses. However, recent studies have led scholars to believe that the Pentateuch is made up of four separate and distinct narratives written by different people separate in time by hundreds of years in some cases. Nothing in the books themselves suggest that they were written by Moses. The narratives were communicated orally over hundreds of years until they were gradually written down over a long period of time. It is believed that the first official set of these books became available during Ezra's time. However, the stories and oral traditions had been around for centuries. The Pentateuch which later became known as the Torah or "book of law" was regarded as having the most authority and being the most inspired of all the Old Testament writings. The book of Genesis appears to be compiled of three traditions, the Yahwist, the Elohist, and the Priestly. The Priestly traditions are most concerned with dates and factual information, thus providing the most historicaly accurate view. The other two traditions are more concerned with dreams and revelation given through intermediaries.The date of the recording of each tradition is around 950 BC for Yahwist, 750 BC for Elohist, and 539 BC for Priestly. However, the traditions themselves are much older. It's widely accepted that very little Israelite literature was written before the reign of David. The telling of these traditions conveyed the covenants of God with Israel and taught the nature of God. They also identified the people of Israel as the people of Yaweh.
Overview-Genisis gets its' name from the first Hebrew word in the Bible which means "In the beginning". It begins with the story of creation and answers the questions "Where do we come from?", and "Why are we here?". It also sets the foundation for the answers to life and death, good and evil, sin and redemption, and the future. There are two major sections that make up Genesis. Chapters 1-11 tell of the personal nature of God's creation, and his relationship with humans. Chapters 12-50 presents the dealing of God with man, through covenants both to all people and to specific people. Genesis also tells of the nature of God and his plans for His creation. Genesis explains that the universe has a purpose in a personal and loving God.
Origin-Exodus is the second Old Testament book ascribed to Moses. The story in Exodus picks up where Genesis leaves off, about 450 years after the entry of Israel into Egypt. Exodus lays the ground work for the understanding of salvation, in that through God's miraculous acts, He wins freedom for his people. Old Testament people feel that these events are more important than the creation itself. The people of Israel return to the time of Exodus in their thoughts and songs time and time again. Before the time of Soloman, around 970 BC, it is impossible to match up biblical events with known dates from Egypt or other ancient empires. Inscriptional evidence does not exist. However, does not surprise scholars since Egyptian monarchs did not record their defeats, as is told in Exodus. Speculation about the dates of these events suggest that they occurred between 1450 BC, and 1290 BC.
Overview-Exodus is made up of two parts. The first part gives a historical account of Israel's deliverance from Egyptian slavery, and the second describes a system of laws given by God in order to shape the delivered slaves into a holy unified nation. Exodus contains five important themes which are the basis of Israel's faith and way of living during Old Testament times. 1-God's miraculous act to save Israel and set it apart. 2-The establishing of Passover as a yearly feast to remember the deliverance of Israel from Egypt. 3-Law as a covenant relationship for the people. 4-The details of the law. 5-The establishing of worship as a priestly and sacrificial system. Through these themes and acts God revealed himself in more detail to the people of Israel.
Origin-Leviticus is the third of the five Old Testament books ascribed to Moses. It is also referred to as "The book of the Law of the Priests" because it contains little historical information. Instead, it is filled with priestly legislation and the practice of the law among the people. It records the instructions given by God at Mount Sanai, for worship by His people. The dates of origin of Leviticus are nearly the same as that of Exodus according to biblical scholars.
Overview-Leviticus addresses two separate groups of people, the priests, and the people as a whole. Three major themes are present throughout the book. The first theme is summarized by the word "Holy". This word is used 87 times in the book in order to show that the true importance of worship is more than just ritual. The second theme can be summarized by the word "Sacrifice". This word(or a word like it) is used over 300 times. The third theme is "Annointment", which appears 49 times. Theses themes are meant to help God's people understand their relationship with God, who He is, what He has done for them, and what He expects from them.
Origin-Numbers is the fourth Old Testament book ascribed to Moses. The English title of this book comes from the fact that chapters 1 through 26 contains details of a great census of the people. However, the Hebrew title for the book is "In the Wilderness" which refers to the 38 years the people of Israel spent in the wilderness, from the time they left Mount Sanai until they reached Canaan.
Overview-Numbers kind of follows a chronological order but should not be considered in strict time sequence. Other materials have been inserted that relate to sections of the story. The book tells how Mosaic law impacted the peoples lives and changed the way that God dealt with the people. Numbers tells of how God used discipline in cases of disobedience to express the importance of obeying God.
Origin-Deuteronomy is the fifth Old Testament book ascribed to Moses. It is the last book of what is commonly called the "Pentateuch". It also finishes up what Jewish people call the Law of Moses. Deuteronomy has the same origin as Exodus. This book is commonly referred to as "The Book of Covenant life".
Origin-Deuteronomy contains three sermons from Moses to Israel which he preached while they were on the plains of the east Jordan river, just opposite the Promised Land. This occurs after the exodus from Egypt, after the giving of the Law of Mount Sanai, and after the 40 years of the wondering in the wilderness. The Israelites are now ready to enter the promised land of Canaan. For their new life in the Promised Land, God wants Israel to be obedient to the law. Emphasis is being stressed on a relationship with God through the covenant of the law. The law is to be practiced as a relationship instead of just a set of rules to be followed.
Origin-Joshua tells the story of the successor of Moses, Joshua, son of Nun, as leader of the Israelites. It also tells the story of the conquest of Canaan and the division of the country among the twelve tribes of Israel. The author of Joshua is unknown, but whomever it was, they speak as an eyewitness of the events mentioned in the book. Some scholars suggest that the author may be Phinehas, so and successor to the high priest of Joshua's time. Also, Phineas is the last person mentioned in the book and as a major leader of the time. The events in Joshua occur after the exodus and the other events described in the books of Moses. It is uncertain, but the best estimate of the time that Joshua led his people across the Jordan river, is in the spring of 1406 BC.
Overview-Joshua, like other Old Testament books, is a historical narrative with material presented to fit the author's theme. Joshua was recognized early as a military leader under Moses, and he may of even served as a officer in the Egyptian army. Military records of the Egyptians frequently show that their leaders included many nationalities. Josephus, the first century Jewish historian, recorded a tradition that Joshua led the Egyptian army against the Ethiopians. Joshua was one of only adult other than Caleb who lived in Egypt and later entered Canaan (the promised land). He won this privilege by his faithfulness to the Lord. Joshua showed himself to be a brilliant military leader, and set an example of obedience to the Lord during his lifetime of 110 years. Canaan, the promised land, held mixed peoples who were warlike, and in some ways more advanced than the Israelites. The cities were strong and in most cases surrounded by walls, which made the conquest of Canaan difficult.
Origin-The dates of when the events in this book took place, are uncertain. It is unlikely that the years each judge is said to have ruled, should be added to each other, as the total would encompass more than 400 years. It is more likely that these are selected stories out of the period from the conquest of the promised land until the establishment of a monarchy, when many different judges ruled over local regions. The time of the judges was from the death of Joshua (around 1390 BC) to the anointing of King Saul around 1050 BC. The author or collector of these stories is unknown.
Overview-The book of Judges describes a time when Israel had adapted to a settled life in the promised land (Canaan). This is a time when Israel's spiritual commitment is declining, and as result there is political, social, and moral deterioration. No judge, who was a military leader of a local region, showed the spiritual leadership of Moses or Joshua. The book speaks of various sins and failures leading to apostasy. There are three major sections to the book of Judges. The first is an introduction, which gives reasons for the decline. The second is a historical section, which includes the stories of the judges. The third gives incidents of the people's decline and their turning from the covenants.
Origin-Ruth lived during the time of the judges (see the book of Judges). The book was probably written down during David's time. Based on the writings, it appears that Ruth was David's great-grandmother, which means she lived during the time of Gideon.
Overview-Much can be learned from studying this short book. It demonstrates that there was always a pocket of the faithful (or a remant) still left in Israel. The book tells a simple story and is interesting reading. Naomi and Ruth show wisdom and stamina in the presence of a very hard situation.
Origin-The story of this book is of two men, Samuel, Israel's last judge, and Saul, Israel's first king. It marks the changing from the time of judges to the era of kings. The author of this book is unknown, although Hebrew tradition says the Samuel himself may have written it. Saul's reign as king began about 1050 B.C., at which time Samuel had sons that were old enough to serve as judges under Saul. So, Samuel must have been born around 1100 BC, or around the time of Samson, a contemporary judge. Samuel was a great judge, as well as prophet and priest. Saul unfortunately, although starting out well, yielded to the pressures and powers and became corrupted, and finally died in jealousy and depression. It is interesting to note, that in Hebrew, 1 and 2 Samuel are one book. They contain the history of Israel from Eli to King David. And it is also considered, that the books of Samuel and Kings were once a single volume, but because of their size, were subdivided into the four books we know today.
Overview-It is important to study 1 Samuel, because it contains some of the great Old Testament Bible stories, and gives illustrations of great truths in the lives of it's characters. From it can be seen the rewards and costs of commitment to God as well as failure to trust God. Therefore, the best way to approach the book is based on the lives of it's characters.
Origin-As described in the discussion of 1 Samuel, originally, the books of 1 and 2 Samuel, and 1 and 2 Kings were originally one large volume, and were broken up later. It is not known who the original author was, but Hebrew tradition says that it was Samuel himself. Some scholars however, feel his name may have been chosen since he was the first character mentioned. The story that is told in these books is the same story that is told in 1 and 2 Chronicles, but from a different perspective. In the Hebrew canon, the books of Samuel, Joshua, Judges, and Kings make up the 'former prophets' and provided a history of the times from a prophetic point of view. Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah, written much later tell the stories from a priestly point of view, and attempt to explain events in the light of God's character and purpose. Additionally, different details are told and emphasized making them interesting to study individually, and together.
Overview-2 Samuel starts with the rule of David over Judah. David's rule over Israel is important both historically and spiritually to God's people. It is in this time that Israel solidifies the tribes into a nation, transitions from poverty to wealth, and centralizes their religion in Jerusalem (which up till now was held by the Jebusites). Under David, Israel increases it's geographic size by 10 times! Unfortunately, David had troubles, which are also detailed in this book.
Origin-As described in the discussion of 1 Samuel, originally, the books of 1 and 2 Samuel, and 1 and 2 Kings were originally one large volume, and were broken up later. Certainly 1 and 2 Kings were one volume for a long time. In 622 BC the Deuteronomic (D) Code was discovered during temple renovations as ordered by King Josiah. The code was adopted as national law. There was no official or 'canonized' history of Israel however, so it appears that during this same time period, a history was commissioned. Much of the 'D' Code was used as source for this history, as well as sources mentioned in the books themselves including: 'the book of the acts of Solomon', the 'Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel', and Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah'. Other sources include the words of the prophets Elijah, Elisha, and Isaiah, David's court memoirs, and other partial sacred histories.
Overview- 1 Kings spans about 120 years of history of which the first 40 are an era of prosperity under Solomon (David's son). After the death of Solomon, the nation split into two rival states, Israel and Judah. The history told in 1 Kings is paralleled in 2 Chronicles 1-20, but from a different perspective.
Origin-(Please see the introduction to 1 Kings.)
Overview-This book continues the story of the monarchy begun in 1 Kings. The Hebrew nation has been broken into two, a northern kingdom called Israel, and the southern kingdom of Judah. This book is paralleled in 2 Chronicles 1-20. 2 Kings covers Israel's captivity and the surviving kingdom.
Origin-In the Hebrew Bible, the books of Chronicles are called 'dibre hayamim' which means 'The Affairs' or literally 'of the days'. The name signifies the annals or as suggested by Jerome (an early church father), "the Chronicles". Chronicles once existed as a single composition, but was divided into two parts with the Greek translation around 150 B.C.. In the original arrangement of the Old Testament canon, Chronicles was at the end of the Old Testament. So when Christ spoke of all the martyrs from Abel in the first book (Gen 4) to Zechariah (in 2 Chronicles 24), he encompased the entire Old Testament of that time. The books of Chronicles do not state by whom they were written, or when, however the book records events as early as the Cyrus decree of 538 B.C.. This decree permitted the Jews to return from exile. This along with various genealogies, and the relation of these books to Ezra and Nehemiah, indicate that Chronicles (as well as Ezra and perhaps Nehemiah) were likely written by Ezra around the time of 450 B.C.. Chronicles and Ezra were probably one consecutive historical composition. Nehemiah may have been autobiographical.
Overview-Ezra's zeal for the establishment for the Law of Moses after the return of the Jews, led him to restore temple worship, eliminate mixed marriages, rebuild Jerusalem's fortifications (wall) (with Nehemiah's help), and stimulate the rebuilding of the traditional theocratic beliefs. It was important to develop and review the history and genealogies of the people, to preserve the proper priesthood and worship as well as give emphasis to the Law, the temple, the ark (of the covenant), the Levites and singers. The Chronicles give important information around genealogies and history to the people of that time and for us today.
Origin-(Please see the introduction to 1 Chronicles)
Overview-2 Chronicles continues where 1 Chronicles left off, after the reign of David the king. It describes the reign of Solomon, his decline and the split of the Jewish nation into Judah and Israel. It dicusses in detail the various rulers of this time of whom some were good and some were not so good. It ends in the exile.
Origin-The book of Ezra, like Ruth, Job, Esther, and others is named after it's principle character. The Jews considered it to be one book with Nehemiah, but the repetition of Ezra 2 and Nehemiah 7 may indicate it was originally two works. Although the author is not mentioned, and the narrative appears in both first and second persons, it is most likely that Ezra himself wrote the book. Ezra lived to the time of Nehemiah, and had plenty of time to write between 456 B.C. and 444 B.C. when Nehemiah arrived to accelerate some of the more immediate needs such as rebuilding the walls and fortifications around Jerusalem.
Overview-The book of Ezra records the fulfillment of God's promise to the nation of Israel through Jeremiah to bring them back to the land seventy years after exile to captivity. Through the protection and help of three Persian kings (Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes), and the leadership of godly Jews such as Zerubbabel, Joshua, Haggai, Zechariah, and Ezra, the second temple was completed and true worship restored in Jerusalem.
Origin-The book of Nehemiah, like Exra, Ruth, Job, Esther, and others is named after it's principle character. The Jews considered it to be one book with Ezra, but the repetition of Ezra 2 and Nehemiah 7 may indicate it was originally two works. Although the author is not mentioned, it may have been an autobiography by Nehemiah. It was possibly written by Nehemiah looking back on his administration. The accuracy of the history told in the book has been well established by the discovery of the Elephantine papyri which mentions many of the same names and events with dates. It can be also learned from these papyri that Nehemiah ceased to be govenor of Judea in 408 B.C..
Overview-Nehemiah originally served as cupbearer to king Artaxerxes I and was the son of Ahasuerus (Xerxes), who took Esther to be his queen. In 457 B.C. Ezra led an expedition of Jews back to Jerusalem with the blessing of Artaxerxes. Nehemiah surveys the area, and decides to rebuild the wall, and reform the people. The book of Nehemiah covers about 20 years from 445 B.C. to 425 B.C.. It is quite probably that Malachi prophesied during the governership of Nehemiah, for the evils he discussed are the same as in Nehemiah. This book is of great encouragement to us to be dedicated to the work of God. Nehemiah shows us how to have a great passion for the truth of God's word, whatever the cost.
Origin-The author of the book of Esther is unknown, but it may have been her uncle Mordecai (see below), as it contains many technical Persian governmental terms. Persian records do not contain references to Esther or Mordecai, but the detailed descriptions of practices and customs in the book are archeologically and historically accurate. The action in the book would have taken place aroung 483-471 B.C..
Overview-The book of Esther has been called the book of 'Providential Care', and is named after it's principle character. The story told takes place during the era of the Persian Empire and most Jews as scattered outside the promised land. Most live in various urban population centers like Babylon. Esther is an orphaned Jewish girl who lives with her uncle Mordecai, who is a local official in the Persian court of Xerxes. Eventually Esther becomes a queen and helps save the Jewish people from being wiped out.
Origin-Job is probably the oldest book in the Bible. The literary form of Job is similar to documents which go back to the first part of the 2nd millennium B.C.. In the dialogue section of the book, can be found some of the most difficult and archaic Hebrew in the Bible. Even the name Job is known to be an ancient name. Along with failure to mention covenants or the Law, Job probably lived in the time of the patriarchs, that is around 2100B.C. until 1700 B.C..
Overview-The book of Job raises and age-old and yet frequently asked question of today, of "Why do the righteous suffer?". Job provides an unique and often mis-understood answer. The message of Job if vital to us today as we try to do right, and yet find that despite best efforts, sometimes problems and suffering follow. Job appears to be a non-Israelite, and while his knowledge of God is incomplete, he certainly knew enough to have a faith relationship with Him, and to live a moral life. Job viewed God as personal and at the same time, transcendant. God is beyond nature, and yet master of the world He made. God who created mankind, also permits freedom of choice, and thus makes men morally responsible.
Origin-The Hebrews called this collection of 150 psalms the 'book of praises'. It is the second of three OT books known as poetical books (i.e. Job, Psalms, and Proverbs). These books were also called the 'books of truth'. The psalms were written over an extended period of time (around 1000 B.C. until 400 B.C.) by different authors. New psalms were added over time to the basic collection. Seventy-three psalms were written by David the king. Others were contributed by various Levitical singing clans including the clans of Asaph and Korah. Forty-nine of the psalms are anonymous.
Overview-The 150 psalms are divided into five books or collections which were added at four times after the initial worship book was compiled. This first worship book was assembled before David's death and consist of his work. These are mostly personal psalms reflecting David's own experiences. Book 2 (Psalms 42-72) was probably written during Solomon's time. Books 3 (73-89) and 4 (90-106) are from the days of Exile, and the final book (107-150), which contains the most liturgical of the psalms, were probably collected aroung the time of Ezra after the return from exile. There are many themes which run through the Psalms, including praise, history, relationships, calling on God to overthrow the wicked, repentance, and messianic psalms. All the psalms can be useful for today in our devotional life. They are examples of how to praise and pray to God.
Origin-This book whch is frequently called 'The book of wise sayings', is attributed to Solomon (970-930 B.C..). Books of this type were common in the ancient world as collections of the sayings of esteemed rulers. While Solomon wrote most of the proverbs, others were added to his basic collection at various times, and the book probably took it's present form during the time of Hezekiah (715-686 B.C.) as suggested by verse 25:1.
Overview-The collection of sayings is designed to guide the reader's daily choices and covers many topics including interpersonal relationships and attitudes toward work. Proverbs can be used by believers today in many helpful ways. Often it is read until a significant thought is prominent, or a chapter at a time seeking a new principle to apply to the current day or week. It can also be studied for wisdom on a single topic.
Origin-Traditionally, this book is said to have been written by Solomon toward the end of his rule, when his foreign wives had turned his heart from God. The author claims to be a king in Jerusalem whose wisdom surpasses all preceding wise men. This would be around 940 - 930 B.C..
Overview-Ecclesiastes is like no other book in the Bible. The Hebrew title ('Qoheleth') means assembly speaker, and the book appears to be a philosophical discourse. There are many apparent contradictions between statements in Ecclesiastes and other Old Testament books. For example, verse 9:5 says 'the dead know nothing; they have no further reward', contradicts with the Biblical view of life after death, heaven, etc.. Solomon says his views are based on his own reasoning and 'what is done under the sun'. Solomon tried to determine life's meaning using his own ability of observation and experience. He ruled out revelation, and makes no mention of covenants, the Law, or the Lord's intervention in history. This book therefore cannot be treated as a communication of truth from God, but rather as an inspired report of Solomon's reasoning. There is a message from the book however - life is meaningless apart from the perspective on life that God's Word provides.
Origin-Solomon is named in the book itself as the author in version 1:1. This would be around 970 - 930 B.C..
Overview-This is a very unique book in the Old Testament, and it makes no direct theological statements, although some believe some may be implied or allegorical. It speaks of the love between a man (the lover) and a women (the beloved). It was probably put in the Hebrew canon because it's author was Solomon, and was frequently read during the Passover. There is a great debate over how to understand or interpret this book. Some see it as allegorical to God's relationship to Israel. Later Christian interpreters applied it to the relationship between Christ and the Church. There is however no objective way of interpreting the literal meanings of these words. Another approach is to view the book as a celebration of love as God intended it to be experienced between a man and a women. To others it is just a collection of love poems. It was probably written by Solomon while traveling in Israel's northern villages to a local village girl, whom he later comes back to and carries to Jerusalem to be one of his wives.
Orgin-Isaiah lived in Judah (the southern kingdom) during 739 B.C. to 681 B.C.. He prophesied during the reigns of kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. Tradition says that he was martyred by the evil king Manasseh. During this time Assyria was strong and placed pressure on Judah. Isaiah and Micah preached to the people to remain true to God and hope for the future. Little is known about Isaiah, except that from his writings it is easy to see he was a well educated man, and had a personal committment totally to the Lord. Some scholars believe that that second major section of Isaiah (chapters 40-66), were written by someone other than Isaiah, perhaps his student or followers. It is interesting to note, that sections of Isaiah were found in the Dead Sea Scrolls which were written as early as 160 years before Christ. These scrolls matched much later copies (around 1100 A.D.) and substantiated the fact that texts had been copied faithfully and without modification across the centuries.
Overview-The book of Isaiah is one of the most significant in the Old Testament. It contains key sections and revelations about God, and the Messiah expressed through the themes of a Servant and Sovereign Lord. From the study of Isaiah, we can understand God better, see the unfolding of His purposes through the Savior, and have a confident hope for the future.
Origin-Jeremiah spent time gathering a collection of his oracles which was sometime later destroyed. He then encouraged a friend (Baruch) to regather them, as an enlarged collection. This collection (this book) however was organized by subject and does not have a coherent sequential order. Rather it contains various sayings, poems, prayers, oracles, hymns, proverbs, and other stories. These come from the time of Jeremiah's ministry, which was from around 640 B.C. Jeremiah produced his first collection about 605 B.C., which was destroyed by the king (36:9-26), and then rewritten and collected over the next 20 years.
Overview-Jeremiah is frequently called the 'weeping prophet', because of all the troubles he endured and saw happen to his homeland and people. Jeremiah was born during the rule of Manasseh (one of the worse kings of the time). Later during the reign of Josiah, Jeremiah was called to be a prophet by God. After Josiah (who was a good king), there were many evil kings. The dominant theme of this book is prophecies and judgements against the nation's sinfulness.
Origin-No author is named in these poems, but Jewish tradition states that Jeremiah was the author. The subject and emotions of the poems indicate that this is probably true. These words were probably written when Jeremiah had fled with a small remnant into Egypt after the fall of Jerusalem probably around 587 B.C..
Overview-The book is composed of five poems. It is interesting to note that each line of segment of a poem begans with a different, consecutive letter of the twenty-two letter Hebrew alphabet. Reading these poems, we can sense the impact of the national disaster of the destruction of Jerusalem. They reflect the need to face the reality of sin, and turn to God wherever we are. God intends to bring us good even in the face of suffering and pain. Suffering is often the pathway to healing.
Origin-Dates referenced in the book itself, state that the prophecies came to Ezekiel between 593 B.C. and 571 B.C. (Ezek. 1:1-2, 29:17). Many other dates are given by the author throughout the book. Ezekiel speaks in the first person in this book and he identifies himself a a member of one of Judah's priestly families who was called by God to be a prophet. Nothing is known of Ezekiel except what is described in this book. Apparently he lived as an exile in Babylon.
Overview-During the same time that Jeremiah was a prophet to the people in Judea, Ezekiel was a prophet to the already exiled Israelites in Babylon. Ezekiel's message was the same as Jeremiahs; he foretold the ruin of the homeland, the destruction of Solomon's temple, judgement, and eventual renewal as God would bring a remnant back to the promised land. During this time, Nebuchadnezzar was rising to great power as Babylon overthrew the Assyrian empire and later came to destroy Jerusalem and Judea. Ezekiel was taken to Babylon. The study of this book yields some new dimensions of theology, which are still applicable today. Some of these are: God is the same across time (transcendent), judgement is certain for sin, individuals are responsible for their actions, and finally restoration is available for true believers in the Messiah.
Origin-The says that it is written by a youth taken from Judah in the deportation around 605 B.C.. The book includes stories of Daniel's training and rise to power in the Babylon empire's administration.
Overview-This book records the personal history of Daniel, and his prophetic visions of the future. His visions include near time events to occur and events in the very distant future. He predicts political history from Babylon's rule to New Testament times. The book can be easily divided into two distinct sections; Daniel's life and work (chapters 1-6), and his vision's and prophecy (chapters 7-12). The book gave confidence to the people of his day, as it can today, that God is in control, and in charge of history.
Orgin-Hosea was the last great prophet to the Northern Kingdom of Israel. He ministered to its citizens from the last years of Jeroboam II until the Assyrians conquered and put the people into exile. His preaching dates from about 753 B.C. until 723 B.C.. He seems to have been a tender-hearted poet who was familiar with country images such as a restless dove, a stubborn heifer, the threshing floor and many others. The prophet Amos also lived during the early years of Hosea's ministry.
Overview-Hosea was called to a special mission by God. He was to share the Lord's anquish with the people's unfaithfulness, and urge them to return to God. Hosea could relate in his own personal life to the problem of unfaithfulness due to his wife, who later deserted him. The book is largely composed of sermons that Hosea must have spoken at various times in many different places. The first three chapters tell the story of the prophet and his own unfaithful wife, Gomer. Like God's continuing love for Israel, Hosea continued to love Gomer and finally brings her home.
Origin-Very little is known about Joel except that he is the son of Pethuel. There is no date given for his message, although he mentions that Jerusalem is still standing, and the enemies he talks about are pre-Babylonian exile enemies.
Overview-Joel's message of judgement, is timeless, and affirms that God will act in history through judgement, and finally at the end of time. The book starts with describing a great cloud of locusts settling on Judah. Joel sees this as a judgement from God, calling for repentance. Joel further sees a similar event (judgement) coming at the end of time, which he calls 'The Day of the Lord'. Judgement however is always tempered by grace.
Origin-Amos was a simple shepherd sent by God to denounce the social and economic sins of Israel at a time when they were in great prosperity. Amos exposed injustice and announced God's judgement on the people. Amos lived during the reign of Jeroboam II (king of Israel), and King Uzziah (of Judah), so Amos probably started his mission about 760 B.C..
Overview-Amos is an important book still for today. We must also be concerned for justice and holiness and care for the poor and oppressed. We are easily caughtup in the pursuit of wealth and luxury as were the people of that time. Amos calls us to remember God's way.
Origin-Obadiah pronounces judgement on the Edomites for their role in supporting the attack on Jerusalem. Two possible dates are suggested then for this time. One is around 844 B.C.. when the city was attacked by the Philistines, and the other is around 587 B.C. when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians. The first date has more evidence based on Hebrew canon, and similar stories from Jeremiah 49:7-22. Nothing is known about Obadiah himself.
Overview-The Edomites were descendants of Esau, a brother of Jacob, which settled south of the Dead Sea and became properous. When Moses later led the Israelites out of Egypt, toward Canaan, the Edomites refused to let the Israelites pass through their land, and so Moses had to take a long route around their territory. Later in King David's time, the Edomites were conquered by the Israelites, however wars and hostilities continued for centuries until in the fifth century B.C., the Edomite kingdom was destroyed. Descendants of the Edomites were called Idumeans in the New Testament, and included Herod the Great and his line which lived around the time of Christ. This book teaches that God makes moral judgements on his people (both then and now), and there will finally be a time of blessing following 'The Day of the Lord' (see Joel).
Origin-The first verse of this book states that Jonah, was the son of Amittai, who is mentioned in 2 Kings. Jonah lived before and in the early days of king Jeroboam II. This book, was probably written by Jonah about 760 B.C.. Most scholars treat the story of Jonah as fact, including Christ who mentions him in Matt 12:39 and Luke 11:29.
Overview-This book is interesting and profitable to us to study today because it tells the story of a prophet's struggle with God and resisting God's call for him to go to Ninevah. But in the end, Ninevah repents, and another lesson can be learned about grace. God gave Jonah and Ninevah a second chance.
Origin-Micah identifies the time of his prophetic calling as being during the "reign of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah". This would place him from 742 B.C. until 687 B.C.. Micah was a prophet in the southern kingdom, called Judah. Other prophets of the time were Isaiah and Hosea. Micah, like Amos, was very concerned with justice. He preaches against the wandering ways of Judah and Israel, and promises blessing if there will be spiritual renewal.
Overview-Micah and Isaiah (the books) are similar in many ways. Each prophet spoke to the same generation, and had similar messages of current sin, the need for repentance, and the promise of renewal. That same promise can be true for us today.
Origin-The author is identified as Nahum by the book itself. He is said to be from the village of Elkosh, both otherwise we know nothing about the man. We do now that he writes these verses after the fall of Thebes to the Assyrians about 663 B.C.. Ninevah the capital, is mighty and the people of Judah are subjects to the Assyrian empire.
Overview-Nahum's words are intended to be comfort to the people of Judah as he describes the destruction of Ninevah, and the enemy. The theme is God's judgement on Assyria. The book of Isaiah also speaks of this in many places. We can learn from this book that God is slow to anger, but will not leave the guilty unpunished forever. For God's people however, "God is good, a refuge in times of trouble".
Origin-Habakkuk is identified as the prophet of the oracles, and nothing else is known about him. However, based on the events described in the book, the book can be dated to be around 639-609 B.C.. This would place Habakkuk during the days of King Josiah
Overview-This book is quite interesting to us today, as it addresses one of the most perplexing problems believer's face, and that is, "Why does God permit evil among his people?". Habakkuk finds an answer to this question, which we can appreciate as well, and which will lead us, as it did Habakkuk to triumph in our faith, experiencing grace in the days ahead.
Origin-According to the book itself, Zephaniah is descended from King Hezekiah. He lives and prophesied during the reign of King Josiah, which places his book around 621 B.C.. Zephaniah therefore was a contemporary with Habakkuk.
Overview-Zephaniah's message is clear, God is a God of judgement, and acts throughout history to judge as He will at the end of time, in the "Day of the Lord". Zephaniah sees judgement coming for Judah, the surrounding nations, and eventually all mankind.
Origin-It is not known who recorded the words of Haggai, and very little is known about Haggai himself, except that he was a prophet / priest. However each message is very clearly dated and spans from August 520 B.C. until December 520 B.C..
Overview-Haggai's message is to 'rebuild the temple'. He is trying to encourage the people, who have recently returned from captivity under Babylon. Rebuilding the temple is a very important part of establishing the Jewish community in Palestine. This is during the same time as Ezra and Nehemiah. Rebuilding the temple also affirms their faith in God. This book is composed of four short sermons and then reports of the response from the people to these sermons.
Orgin-Zechariah was a contemporary of Haggai who was also around the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. Chapter 1 of the book discusses Zechariah's family and identifies him as a member of the priestly family (Neh 12:4, 16).
Overview-This book is apocalyptic, that is, like Revelation, it looks into the distant future through a series of symbols, shapes, and images which are sometimes difficult to understand. Zechariah however is important for the reason that it is a source of understanding for the symbolism in Revelation. Like other prophetic writings, some things will be only understood when the words are fulfilled.
Orgin-The man Malachi is essentially unknown from the Old Testament, except for his writings. Nothing is known of where he came from or his family. However based on the content of the book, he must have lived around 465 B.C. until 430 B.C..
Overview-Malachi speaks to a lukewarm group of believers who returned from Babylonian exile only about 70 years ago. The Jews has struggled to reestablish themselves and the temple in a hostile land. He ministers to a people who have lost excitement and have lost touch with their God. The people have drifted and wonder if God is there. Malachi has a message for us today, who sometimes feel the same driftings.