The Old Testament
AKA: The Hebrew Bible (Tanakh).
The Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew.
The Old Testament consists of 39 books.
Generally speaking, the books of the OT are ordered sequentially by time, with the notable exception of Job. Job actually lived closer to around the time of Abraham.
The Old Testament books are grouped into 4 types: law, history, wisdom, and prophetic.
1. The PentateuchAKA: the Torah, Mosaic Law, or the Five books of Moses
- The Pentateuch consists of the first five books of the Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy
- The term "Pentateuch" comes from the Greek term pent & teuchos meaning "five-volumed".
- The Jews call these books the "Torah" (instruction)
- Jewish religious tradition ascribes authorship of the Torah to Moses through a process of divine inspiration.
- In numerous locations throughout the whole Bible, Moses is referred to as the author of the Pentateuch (Romans 10:5, Joshua 1:7-8, etc).
- These five books form the theological backbone for the rest of the OT and NT (Deut 26:5-10; Josh 24:2-13; Acts 13:17-41)
- The Torah contains a variety of literary genres, including historical narrative, poetry, genealogy, and the exposition of various types of law.
2. The books of history
The second section of the Old Testament is referred to as the "Books of History". This section contains 12 books: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther.
These 12 books tell the history of the nation of Israel. They tell about the wars in which God helped Israel destroy the wicked people of Canaan. They tell about the building of God's temple in Jerusalem. They tell how Israel became a rich, powerful nation but later divided into two separate kingdoms called Judah and Israel.
These books also tell how the people of Israel forgot about their God and worshiped idols (false gods). God punished them for their sins by permitting other nations to make slaves of them. But when Israel repented [decided to stop doing wrong things and turn back to God, doing things God's way], God permitted them to return to their home.
3. Books of Wisdom & Poetry
- These books are often interchangeably referred to as wisdom books or poetry books.
- There are five books of wisdom: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon.
- Job is the story of a man who suffered much from the devil. But even though he had many troubles, he still remained faithful to God.
- Psalms are poems and songs written by King David and others. These poems praise God for His goodness, power, and glory.
- Proverbs is a book of wise sayings. It was written primarily written by King Solomon.
- Ecclesiastes was written entirely by King Solomon. It tells about a man who tried to find happiness in riches, love, power, fame, and learning. He found that none of these could bring true happiness. He learned that true happiness can only come from knowing God and keeping his commandments.
- Song of Solomon is a love song.
The Books of Prophecy
The remaining books of the Old Testament are books of Prophecy. They are commonly broken down into 2 groups: Major and Minor Prophets.
4. Major Prophets
- They are 5 Major Prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Daniel.
- The term "major" refers to their length, not their importance.
- These prophets were men who spoke for God.
- The prophets had big jobs to do:
First: They rebuked the people of their own time for their sins.
Second: They were permitted by God to see into the future. God gave them the power to foretell things which would happen many years later. For example, the prophet Isaiah lived 700 years before Christ came to the earth. Yet Isaiah foretold many things about Christ and His kingdom.
5. Minor Prophets
- They are 12 Minor Prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi
- The term "minor" refers to the length of the books, not their importance.