OT Books

Chronological Order of The Old Testament Books

Most of us think along a timeline. We read stories from beginning to end. When something happens in the storyline, we look to see how it affects what follows. If we read parts of the story out of order, the storyline itself becomes much more difficult to understand. The Bibles that most of believers in Jesus use demonstrate this potential problem.

Studying the books of the Bible in the chronological order in which they were written can yield a stronger grasp of the flow of biblical history. Removing the books from their historical context, students are left interpreting the Scriptures in light of their own personal perspective. This frequently leads to an improper application of what the Bible actually teaches. By having an understanding of the chronological order of the Old Testament, we can comprehend the purpose for the messages of the prophets and what was behind the other writings. The dates given for the book’s place in this order are not precise. They are provided to give you a broad based historical context of each book’s subject and content.

4,000 – 1,400 B.C. Torah (Law) + Job


Genesis

Circa 6000 – 1804 B.C. (Key = “Beginnings”)

The Bible’s first book is about first things. Its fifty chapters sketch human history from Creation to the Nations (Chapters 1-11) and from Abraham to Joseph (Chapters 12 – 50). From the family of the Patriarchs will come the nation of Israel and ultimately the Messiah of the whole world, Yeshua.


Job *

(Key = “Sovereignty”)

Overnight, the many blessing of God on Job’s life dissolve away. The question of “why” is posed by Job’s friends and eventually from Job himself. Job was likely a contemporary of one of the Patriarchs.


Exodus

Circa 1520 – 1440 B.C. (Key = “Redemption”)

Following 400 years of in Egypt, God called Moses to lead His people out of slavery and into freedom. The Mosaic Covenant, was the founding document of the nation of Israel and given at Mount Sinai after the Jews left Egypt.


Leviticus

(Key = “Offerings & Feasts”)

The way Israel was to worship God is the purpose of Leviticus. Detailing the offerings and feasts, Leviticus outlined how Israel was to served Jehovah in her worship of Him and be an example to all the Nations.


Numbers

Circa 1440 – 1400 B.C. (Key = “Wandering”)

After receiving the Mosaic Covenant at Mount Sinai, Israel was told
to take the Promised Land. Because of their lack of faith, the
Exodus Generation died in the wilderness over a period of forty
years. Only those under the age of 20 at the time of the Exodus,
would enter Canaan, except for Joshua and Caleb.


Deuteronomy

Prior to entering the Promised Land, the Joshua Generation was
given a resummarization of the Mosaic Covenant, first received at
Mount Sinai by their parents. In Moab, Moses delivered three
sermons to Israel to remind them of The Law and what would be
expected once they were in The Land. The events of this book
took place over a period of about one month.
Key – Covenant
1,400 – 1,100 B.C.


The Jews Enter The Promised Land


Joshua

In this book we are told about Joshua’s assumption of his role as
the new leader of Israel following Moses’ death and burial on Mount
Nebo. Circa 1400 – 1390 B.C.
Key – Conquest


Judges

Through the lives of thirteen different judges the Jews experienced
seven recurring cycles of sin, slavery, supplication, and slavation.
Falling into the worship of the pagan idols of the people
surrounding them, God disciplined the Jews until they called out to
Him for help. Then God would deliver them from oppression by a
judge that He would raise up for that purpose.
Circa 1390 – 1100 B.C.
Key – Cycles


Ruth

Ruth, a Moabitess, returned home to Israel with her mother-inlaw
following her husband’s death. Though not a Jew, Ruth believed in
the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Her misery and hardship
turned to blessing and propserity following her marriage to Boaz,
the great grandfather of King David.
Key – Kinsman Redeemer
1100 – 926 B.C. United Kingdom


1st Samuel

Samuel was the last judge of the Jewish tribes. He annointed
Israel’s first two kings. Saul was first. While looking good on the
outside, he had no real heart for God. The reusult was that Samuel
then annointed David to take Saul’s place on the throne.
Circa 1100 – 1006 B.C.
Key – Transition


2nd Samuel

Soon after Saul’s death near Bet Shean, David began assuming
his role as Israel’s second king. For the first seven years he
reigned over !Judah from his capital in Hebron. Taking Jerusalem
by force, David reigned there for thirty-three years. Throughout
his life, David sought God zealously and confessed his sins quickly,
actions befitting “a man after my own heart” as God declared.
Circa 1006 – 966 B.C.
Key – United Kingdom


1 Kings 1-11

The first eleven chapters cover the reign of Solomon. Under his
leadership, Israel rose to the peak of her influence as a nation.
While Solomon experienced many great achievements, including
the construction of God’s magnificent new Temple, his divided heart
eventually led to a divided kingdom. Circa 966 – 926 B.C.


The Writings

*Job, written much earlier is part of this collection.

Psalms

(Key = “Worship”)

Written by Moses, Psalm 90 is the oldest song of the collection. The majority of the Psalms were written during the time of David. Others were written up to two centuries later.


Proverbs  Wisdom can be defined as the skill of living rightly. Solomon wrote
this set of couplets that discusses the value of the pursuit of the
skill of wisdom.
Key – Wisdom


Ecclesiastes! Attributed to Solomon, this book records an intense search by the
Preacher for the meaning of life. Discovering that nothing could
provide fulfillment in hislife other except seeking God’s face and
!
will, the Preacher’s cynicism disappeared and was replaced by
hope and faith.
Key Word – Vanity


Song of Solomon! Despite having 1,000 wives and concubines, Solomon chased after
the beautiful Shulamite woman of this love song.
Key – Love  !
926 – 586 B.C. Divided Kingdom


1 Kings 12 – 22! The second half of 1st Kings traces the histories of two sets of
kings and two nations filled with disobedient people and growing
indifference to God’s precepts and the message of His prophets.
Elijah began his prophetic ministry during this period in Israel, the
Northern Kingdom. Circa 926 – 836 B.C.
Key – Divided Kingdom


2 Kings 1 – 17! Elijah continues his ministry in the North and then replaced by
Elisha. Following continued and growing depravity, God removes
the Jews of the Northern Kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians in
721 B.C.


2 Kings 18 – 25! The closing days of the Southern Kingdom are recorded this portion
of 2nd Kings. Babylon took Judah and Benjamin into captivity in
586 B.C. Circa 836 – 586 B.C.
Key – Captivity


Prophets to the Northern Kingdom


Joel A great locust invasion of The Land is the focal point of Joel’s
warning to Israel. Circa 850 – 700 B.C.
Key – Day of the Lord


Jonah  This prophet was really more of a prophet to Ninevah, although he
wasn’t interested in the salvation of the Assyrians. Few people
know much about Jonah’s ministry other than that he was
swallowed by a great fish, providing Jesus with an illustrative sign
of how long He would be in the grave. Circa 800 B.C.
Key – Revival In Ninevah


Amos  As a rough country boy, Amos rebuked the sin of Israel
unflinchingly. He characterized Israel as a basket of rotting fruit, ripe
!
of God’s judgment. Circa 780 – 755 B.C.
Key – Judgment of Israel


Hosea  Hosea’s life with Gomer parallels God’s continuing relationship with
Israel, even to this day. Hosea’s love could not be destroyed
regardless of Gomer’s unfaithfulness to him. While there are
consequences for Israel’s rejection of God, He will not stop loving
her either and will fulfill His unconditional promises to her.
Circa 760 – 710 B.C.
Key – God’s Loyal Love for Israel
Prophets to the Southern Kingdom


Micah  While Micah made predictions of certain destruction of both Israel
and Judah, he only mentioned the names of Southern Kingdom
kings. !He warned of an attack by Assyria and also told the Jews
that Israel’s Eternal Ruler would come from Bethlehem.
Circa 740 B.C.
Key – Judgment & Restoration of Judah


Isaiah  Isaiah had a long public ministry that extended through the reigns
of several of Judah’s kings. His identification of the Messiah to
come is unmistakable in what are know as the Servant Songs,
including Isaiah 53. He also presents a clear picture of the Trinity in
48:16. Circa 740 – 680 B.C.
Key – Salvation


Obadiah  The shortest book of the Old Testament, Obadiah’s prophecy
speaks of Edom and the Day of the Lord. This book’s date is very
speculative. There are good arguments for placing Obadiah both
before and also during Judah’s captivity by Babylon. Circa 685 B.C.
Key – Judgment of Edom


Nahum  In the 150 years following Jonah’s ministry, Ninevah returned to its
previous pagan and immoral practices. Nahum warns of the coming
destruction of Ninevah. Circa 666 – 615 B.C.
Key – Judgment of Ninevah


Zephaniah  In the Southern Kingdom, periodic revivals broke out during the
reign of eight kings “who did what was right in the eyes of the
Lord.” Zephaniah’s prophecy may have played a role in revival
during the reign of Josiah. While it was delayed, judgment
eventually came with the crushing hand of God’s wrath.
!
Circa 630 – 620 B.C.
Key – Judgment & Restoration


Habakkuk  Habakkuk and Jeremiah were contemporaries. Looking at the
wickedness of his native Judah, the prophet questioned why the
wicked prospered and when would God intervene with righteous
judgment. When God answered that a people even more corrupt
and evil than Judah would be His instrument of wrath, Habakkauk
reacted initially with shock and dismay, but followed by praise and
adoration. Circa 627 – 586 B.C.
Key – Faith


Jeremiah  Jeremiah was one of the last prophets to warn Judah of God’s
imminent discipline during a long public ministry. An avalanche of
God’s wrath was coming, and Jeremiah was called to proclaim that
message over a period of forty years. Rejected and persecuted,
Jeremiah lived to see many of his prophecies come true.
Circa 627 – 586 B.C.
Key – Judah’s Last Hour !


Lamentations! This is perhaps the saddest book in the entire Bible. It was written
by Jeremiah after Babylon’s soldiers destroyed the city and razed
God’s Temple. The articles of silver and gold used in the worship of
God were carried back to Neubchanezer’s storehouses. The Ark of
the Covenant disappeared, and has not been seen since. As
dark as the hour was, Jeremiah looked to God’s promise to restore
the Jewish people to their land and to His arms. Circa 580 B.C.
Key – Lamentations
586 – 516 B.C. 70 Years of Captivity


Daniel  Daniel presented a panoramic sweep of prophetic history that
began in his own time and looked forward to the end of days. He
spoke of the coming and going of the Babylonians, Persians,
Greeks, and Romans long before most of they were a force
in the ancient world. Daniel’s life showed that even in exile, God did
not forget or change His mind concerning the unconditional
promises He made to His chosen people. Through dreams and
interpretations, God told His people that His plans for them were
irrevocable. Circa 605 – 536 B.C.
Key – God’s Plan for Israel


Ezekiel  From Babylon, Ezekiel’s visions ranged from horror to hope. He
condemned Israel’s self-serving shepherds while speaking of God’s
care and concern for the sheep of Israel who were being
manipulated and abused for their own selfish purposes. In the end,
like all of the rest of humanity, they would “know that I am the Lord.”
Circa 592 – 570 B.C.
Key – Restoration of Israel
516 – 400 B.C. Jews Return to the Land


Esther  Ahasuerus is the Hebrew name for the Persian king, Xerxes.
The story of Esther’s life falls between chapters 6 & 7 of Ezra.
Zerubbabel had been allowed to return to Jerusalem with a first
wave of Jews from Persia. While God’s name never appears in the
book of Esther, His activity is seen throughout as He protected the
people who remained behind in the land of their captivity.
Circa 483 – 473 B.C.
Key – Providence


EzraThis book is a continuation of the narrative of 2nd Chronicles. It
tells the story of how God fulfilled His promise to return His people
to their Land following 70 years of exile. Ezra records the Jewish
return under Zerubbabel and the start of the building of the Second
Temple. It also speaks of Ezra’s own return to teach once the Jews
how to love and serve God again. The time between the two waves
of return is approximately 60 years, the time-frame of the book
of Esther. Circa 538 – 457 B.C.
Key – Temple


Nehemiah  Identifying with and confessing the sins of his people, God prompts
Nehemiah to !formulate a bold plan to gain his release from his
responsibilities as the cupbearer to the king of Persia. He returned
home to Jerusalem to oversee the rebuilding of the city’s protective
walls. Overcoming resistance from both his kinsman and the
enemy’s of his people, the walls were rebuilt in 52 days!
Circa 444 – 425 B.C.
Key – Walls


Prophets During the Return to the Land


Haggai  Sixteen years after the construction of the Second Temple began, it
was still not finished. While the project began with great ferver and
!
passion, affairs of everyday living soon crowded out the desire of
the Jews to complete the task. Haggai preached a powerful series
of small sermons to stir up their work again, and complete the
building of the Temple to provide Israel a place to worship God
according to His commands in the Mosaic Covenant.
Circa 520 B.C.
Key – Reconstruction of the Temple


Zechariah  Similar to Haggai, Zechariah was commissioned by God to stir up
the people to complete the Temple that had not been worked on for
over twelve years. Without a rebuke and with encouragement,
Zechariah told the people that in order for their Mesianic King to
arrive, there must be a Temple. The project resumed as the people
stood on the firm promise of their soon coming Messiah.
Circa 520 – 470 B.C.
Key – Preparation for Mesiah


Malachi  Malachi is the last book of what many call the Old Testament.
Having learned little from their recent captivity, the Jews back in the
Land return to their previous pattern of sin. Asking probing
questions and then answering them, Malachi points to the
hardheartedness of !Judah and curses all who practice the sins that
were so evident. With the end of Malachi’s ministry, it would be a
little over 400 years until Yochanan the Immerser pointed to
Yeshua to pronounce Him “the Lamb of God!” Circa 432 – 425 B.C.
Key – Appeal to Backsliders