The Old Testament – The first 39 books of the Hebrew Bible.

February 26, 2019

The Old Testament (also regarded as the Jewish Tanakh or Mikra) is the first 39 books of the Hebrew Bible. It comprises the books of law, the prophets, and collected writings.

It features the creation of the earth and its inhabitants were created, the fall of man, the history of the patriarchs, the deliverance of Israelites from Egypt, the explanation of God’s laws and his promises to his people, the story of some giants, and the host of others

Why do I need to read this?

Your knowledge of the bible would be incomplete and shallow without the knowledge of the books of the Old testaments, that’s the main intent of drafting this article- to educate you and highlight some intriguing facts about the books.

The books of the Old Testament can be subdivided into four main categories: the Pentateuch, the Historical Books, the Wisdom and Poetry literature, and the Latter Prophets.  

Category Books
Pentateuch (First Five books of the Bible) Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy  
Historical books (The former Prophets)   Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel & 2 Samuel, 1 Kings & 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther  
Wisdom and poetry literature   Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon (Song of Songs)  
The Major prophets   Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations , Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi

i. The Pentateuch

The Pentateuch

The Pentateuch consists of the first five books of the Christian Bible-. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy

It features the story about the creation of the earth and its inhabitants, the captivity and deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt, and formation of Israel as a nation.

Genesis is the very first book of the Bible, it is also known as “the beginning of beginnings”. It narrates how God created the earth, man, birds and other inhabitants. The first man, Adam and his wife were lured to sin by the serpent and God pronounced a curse on them. After God sees that the sin of man keeps multiplying, He sent a massive flood to wipe away everything on earth but spared only Noah and His family for being righteous. Rebellious mankind gathered the Tower of Babel against God and He divided their languages by noticing that. After many generations, God decided to show mercy to mankind again by speaking to a man called “Abraham”. He made a covenant with him that many nations shall arise from Him. Abraham keyed into this covenant and it passes on to his seeds- Isaac (his son), Jacob (his grandson).

The second book of the Old Testament, Exodus the descendants of Jacob (Israel) were held captive in Egypt by Pharaoh. God appointed a man called Moses, to deliver them from the oppressor. With God’s directions and support, Moses led the people out of Egypt and when they got to Mount Sinai God appeared in a cloud of thunder to affirm to the Israelites the covenant He made to their forefather- Abraham. God gave them various ethical and religious laws to follow as His people.

Other books of the Pentateuch (Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy) keeps talking about God’s promises to the Israelites and the laws they must keep to dwell in Canaan – The Promised Land. Despite the intimacy God maintained with the Israelites, they never stopped complaining and disobeying, for this reason, God’s wrath came upon them and the journey that ought to last for eleven days turned to forty years. the death of their legendary leader, Moses was announced at the end of Deuteronomy.

ii. The Historical Books

The Historical Books

Historical books cover the history of Israel from the formation to the fall of the nation. The books are: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel & 2 Samuel, 1 Kings & 2 Kings, 1 Chronicle & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther

The books of Joshua and Judges show how the Israelites conquered and entered the Promised Land. As time goes on, they started worshipping the deities, which is against God’s law. God allowed the neighbouring countries to sack and oppress them. God later raised some judges to lead the Israelites in fighting their enemies.

The rise of the united kingdom of Israel was recorded in the two books of Samuel. Saul was the first king of the Kingdom, he disobeyed God, and God replaced him with a young man called David. Saul made a series of attempt to kill the young ruler but failed in all. Saul’s death was the concluding story in the first book of Samuel.

The second book of Samuel shows how David established Israel and conquered the enemies. He also made Jerusalem the religious and political centre of Israel before his death.

The two books of Kings recorded how Israel’s success declined.

After the death of David, his son, Solomon became the new king of Israel and God blessed him with immense wisdom. Solomon turned great Israel into an empire and builds a temple in Jerusalem. Solomon began to worship the deities and this made God angry. After the death of King Solomon, the kingdom divides into two: northern kingdom and southern kingdom. The kings who reigned in both kingdoms led them away from God and the situation becomes abysmal.   

Elijah and Elisha tried the best efforts to stop Israel’s misdeeds but it proves abortive, the two kingdoms were held by the nations of Assyria and Babylon. Not that alone, Jerusalem was destroyed and they were all sent into exile.

iii. Wisdom and poetry literature

Wisdom and poetry literature

These books came after the historical books. Some are narrative, while some are poetry. These books are: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon (Song of Songs)

The book of Job presents the story of Job, a man who paid the price of being righteous by suffering under unpalatable conditions, not that alone He lost everything he had. Despite all these, he never denied God and God blessed him abundantly at the end.

The Psalms is a collection of lyrical poems and hymns that express the thirst of mankind for God. The books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes offer wise sayings, instruction about the meaning of life, as well as living uprightly.

Songs of Solomon is a romantic dialogue which revolves around intimacy, love, relationship, marriage and sex between a young man and his lover.

iv. The Major Prophets

The Major Prophets

These books are Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.

These latter prophets were sent by God to preach to the people, prophecy to them, instruct them, deliver them, rebuke them and admonish them. Also, many of them spoke about the coming of Jesus Christ to save the sinners.  

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