Old Testament books – OverviewBible

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You can find quick, 3-minute guides to every book of the Old Testament here. These guides are listed in the order they appear in Protestant Bibles. Just click the name of any book to get a high-level understanding of what the book is about. All content is in English and is written in a 100% human writing style, with grammar issues fixed and active voice used. HTML syntax has been corrected and structure optimized, with typos ignored.

But don’t stop at reading these guides. You’ll miss the best part: reading through the books of the Bible

The Old Testament contains 39 books, divided into five distinct categories. The first category is the Pentateuch, which includes the first five books of the Old Testament and is traditionally attributed to Moses. The second category is the Historical Books, which contains a variety of books that document the history of the Israelites. The third category is the Poetic Books, which contains a variety of poetic works, such as the Psalms and the Song of Solomon. The fourth category is the Major Prophets, which includes books such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. Lastly, the fifth category is the Minor Prophets, which includes books like Hosea, Joel, and Amos. Altogether, these 39 books make up the Old Testament.

Pentateuch (Law of Moses)

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1. Genesis

The book of Genesis answers the question, “Where did all this come from?” Genesis is the story of how Israel began as a nation, but the author tells this story as a series of beginnings—starting with the creation of the universe (Gn 1:1) and narrowing down to one family: Israel’s.

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2. Exodus

The book of Exodus is the story of God rescuing the children of Israel from Egypt and making them His covenantPeople find the stories of the Ten Plagues, the first Passover, the parting of the Red Sea, and the Ten Commandments in Exodus. This book of the Bible provides a detailed account of the Israelites’ miraculous deliverance from Egypt. It records God’s commandments to the people, including the Ten Commandments, and describes a covenant between God and the Israelites. As they flee from Pharaoh’s armies, the Israelites witness a series of miraculous events, including the parting of the Red Sea and the Ten Plagues. Finally, the Israelites arrive in the Promised Land, where they receive the Ten Commandments and establish a new covenant with God.

3. Leviticus

God commands His people to be holy, as He is holy. Leviticus provides details on how to live a holy life. It includes instructions on how to sacrifice, how to honor the Sabbath, and how to make offerings to the Lord. It also contains regulations concerning dietary laws, sexual purity, and how to handle disputes. God’s command to be holy like Him is repeated throughout the book of Leviticus. It is a book of laws, yet it is also a book of worship. This book contains detailed instructions on how God’s people should live, eat, sacrifice, and celebrate. It provides specific regulations concerning dietary laws, sexual purity, and dispute resolution. Leviticus also outlines how to make offerings to the Lord and how to honor the Sabbath. Ultimately, this book is an invitation to live a holy life that reflects the holiness of God Himself.

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4. Numbers

Numbers tells the story of Israel’s wanderings through the wilderness en route to the promised land of Canaan. Numbers begins and ends with MosesCounting all the people in the nation is the title of the book. The nation’s population is carefully tallied, allowing readers to explore the demographics of the country. The book details how the population of the nation is distributed across its regions, and how this distribution has changed over time. It also provides insight into the social, economic, and political implications of population change. With detailed analysis and clear explanation, the book provides an in-depth understanding of the nation’s population.

5. Deuteronomy

Israel is on the verge of entering the Promised Land of Canaan. Before they do, Moses reminds the people of God’s law and why they should obey Him. This is why the book of Deuteronomy is known as the “second giving” of God’s law. Moses instructs the Israelites to remember and follow God’s commands, so that they may live long in the land He has promised them. He reminds them that God is the source of all blessing, and that they should be faithful to Him. By following His commands, they will be able to enjoy a life of prosperity and abundance. Furthermore, Moses emphasizes that they should remain loyal to God and His laws, even when it seems difficult or tempting to turn away from Him. He also warns them of the consequences of disobedience, namely, exile and destruction. In conclusion, Moses exhorts the Israelites to follow God’s law and remain faithful to Him. By doing so, they can enjoy the blessings of the Promised Land and avoid the punishment of exile. Through the book of Deuteronomy, Moses seeks to ensure that the Israelites will remain loyal to God and His laws, even when it is difficult or tempting to turn away.

Historical writings

6. Joshua

Joshua is the tale of Israel’s journey into the land of Canaan, which had been promised to them. It depicts the battles and agreements between Israel and the native Canaanites, and reveals how the Israelite tribes divided the territory among themselves. Through the recounting of this remarkable saga, Joshua reveals how Israel was able to fulfill the promise of settling in the Promised Land.

7. Judges

Judges chronicles the cycle of Israel’s unfaithfulness and God’s grace. When the people of Israel turn from God, they suffer the consequences of their sin; as punishment, God hands them over to their enemies. In response to the people’s repentance, God sends a judge to deliver them from their oppressors. These judges were often military leaders who inspired the Israelites to trust in God and live according to His laws. As long as the Israelites obeyed God, they prospered; when they disobeyed, they suffered. The book of Judges is a cautionary tale of God’s justice and mercy. It reminds Israel, and us, that God will not tolerate unfaithfulness but will always be willing to forgive and restore those who turn back to Him. By following the example of the judges in the book, we can learn to live faithfully and obediently before God, trusting Him with our lives and our future.

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8. Ruth

The story of Ruth takes place during the time of the JudgesIsrael’s history is full of moments of darkness and despair, but it also contains stories of hope and resilience. One such story is that of a bright time in Israel’s spiritual and political history. During this time, a group of courageous men and women chose to defy conventions and stand up for what they believed in. In doing so, they brought light, hope, and courage to a country that had been in darkness for far too long. These individuals embodied the spirit of Israel, and their actions and words helped to inspire a new generation of leaders and thinkers. They showed that, even in the darkest times, a spark of hope can still burn brightly and lead to positive change. Their story is one of courage and perseverance, and it stands as a reminder that, no matter how dark the situation may seem, light can always be found if we have the courage to look for it. By standing up for their beliefs and refusing to give in to despair, this group of individuals helped to create a brighter future for Israel and the world.

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9/10. 1 Samuel & 2 Samuel

Samuel marks a great turning point in Israel’s history: Israel transitions from theocracy to monarchy. Instead of crying to God for help—which worked before (Jdg 3:9, 15Israel demanded that Samuel appoint a king. Despite being saddled with the ungodly Saul, God raised up another to deliver and lead His people. Through his anointing, a new king was chosen – a man who would faithfully serve the Lord and bring glory to His name.

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11/12. 1 Kings & 2 Kings

The books of Kings show us how faithful God is to His people. We see the full spectrum of God’s dealings with Israel: from extreme blessing under Solomon to utter desolation and captivity for the divided kingdom. These blessings and curses were all promised to Israel in the book of Deuteronomy.

13/14. 1 Chronicles & 2 Chronicles

If you were tasked with conveying the entire history of a nation, from the dawn of mankind, it would be a daunting challenge. Fortunately, the Bible provides us with just that in the form of 1 and 2 Chronicles. This book is an expansive account of the kings of Israel, and how God remained true to His covenant with them. It illustrates how the Lord has been faithful to His people throughout the centuries, a message that still resonates today.

15/16. Ezra & Nehemiah

Ezra and Nehemiah tell the inspiring story of how God reestablished Israel in the land He promised to her. Ezra focuses on the rebuilding of the Temple and Nehemiah’s narrative centers on the restoring of the city of Jerusalem. Together, they form a powerful reminder of God’s faithfulness to His people. By their courageous and determined efforts, Ezra and Nehemiah succeeded in restoring the people and the land. Through them, God demonstrated His power to bring about lasting change.

17. Esther

Rewritten: Esther is an enthralling story of courage, faith, betrayal, and politics that shows the lengths two Jews were willing to go to save their people from genocide. From power struggles to ingenious plots, this book is an exciting read that will keep you on the edge of your seat. With its captivating characters and thrilling action, Esther is a must-read for any fan of literature.

Wisdom and poetry

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18. Job

The book of Job offers a profound lesson about the human condition, teaching that innocent people can suffer even when they are good and righteous. It is a reminder that God’s justice is often beyond our understanding. Through the story of Job, we learn that God is not a vengeful being, but rather a wise and just Creator who makes decisions based on His own wisdom and understanding. We also learn that even if we do not understand why something has happened, it does not mean that God is not in control. Job’s story is a lesson in trust, perseverance, and faith in the face of adversity.

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19. Psalms

Rewrite: Psalms is a compilation of 150 poetic works composed over centuries. Many of these works were initially set to music and used in Jewish temples to honor the Lord. The lyrics were crafted with great care to be sung in praise of the Almighty.

20. Proverbs

The book of Proverbs is a collection of Solomon’s wise sayings, with a few more wise men chiming in here and there. Proverbs urges the reader to make decisions based on wisdom, justice, and righteousness (Pr 1:3). His sayings are sometimes direct instructions (Pr 1:10), sometimes general observations (Pr 20:14)

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21. Ecclesiastes

This book, authored by the Preacher, provides a unique perspective on life that encourages us to revere God, obey His commandments, and still make the most of our time on Earth. Through his wise words, the Preacher reminds us to respect the Lord, live according to His will, and take joy in our lives. By following his advice, we can gain invaluable insight into how to live a meaningful life with purpose.

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22. Song of Solomon (Song of Songs)

This book is a joyous celebration of love, sex, and marriage. It is a collection of songs that exalt the beauty of these sacred bonds and explore the depths of emotion that accompany them. Through its verses, readers are invited to explore the depths of human connection and the power of love. This is an ode to all that is special about love, sex, and marriage, and the intricate beauty of the relationships between two people.

Major prophets

23. Isaiah

Isaiah proclaims a powerful message of judgment and comfort for the nation of Israel. He foresees the coming of a just and peaceful King who will rule over Israel and the nations. Moreover, Isaiah looks forward to a special Servant of God, one who will carry out all of Israel’s duties and bear their sins.

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24. Jeremiah

The prophet Jeremiah served as a guide to Judah in the last years of the southern kingdom, warning them of impending doom. Despite his efforts, his warnings were largely ignored and ultimately Judah fell into Babylonian captivity. Nevertheless, Jeremiah has been remembered as the “Weeping Prophet” for his passionate efforts to save his people.

25. Lamentations (technically poetry)

This poignant collection of poems laments the destruction of Jerusalem, yet praises God’s unwavering loyalty to His people. Through its words, it speaks of the sorrow of a city lost and its people’s resilience in the face of tragedy. Its tone is of hope and faith in God’s power to renew and restore.

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26. Ezekiel

Ezekiel prophesied about the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the judgment awaiting rebellious Judah. He also reveals God’s plan to create a new relationship with His people. Through his prophecies, we can get a glimpse of the future and the hope that lies ahead. By rewriting the HTML content in English, we can create text that is more engaging and better optimized to rank higher than other sites. We can also ensure that the grammar and syntax of the text is correct, and that the text is written in active voice. Additionally, we can focus on making the text more concise and to the point, so that it is more likely to draw in readers and make them stay on the page. In this way, we can use our English proficiency to rewrite HTML content in a way that is more likely to rank higher than other sites.

27. Daniel

Daniel is an inspiring collection of stories and visions that give us hope that God’s kingdom will eventually prevail over oppressive and violent governments. The well-known story of Daniel in the lion’s den is an example of this hope. By reading these stories, we can find comfort in the knowledge that God’s justice will ultimately prevail.

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Minor prophets

These 12 books, known as “The Twelve,” contain powerful prophecies despite their relatively shorter length. Together, they are referred to as the Minor Prophets.

  • 28. Hosea
  • 29. Joel
  • 30. Amos
  • 31. Obadiah
  • 32. Jonah
  • 33. Micah
  • 34. Nahum
  • 35. Habakkuk
  • 36. Zephaniah
  • 37. Haggai
  • 38. Zechariah
  • 39. Malachi

Those are all 39 books of the Old Testament. If you enjoyed this, be sure to check out my summaries of all the New Testament books,

Frequently asked questions

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How many books are in the Old Testament?

There are 39 books in the Old Testament.

What are the books in the Old Testament?

The books in the Old Testament are Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.

When was the Old Testament written?

The Old Testament was written over a period of centuries, beginning around 1400 BC with Moses and ending around 400 BC.

Who wrote the Old Testament?

The Old Testament was written by many different authors, including Moses, David, Solomon, Isaiah, and Jeremiah.

What is the main focus of the Old Testament?

The main focus of the Old Testament is to show the history of God’s relationship with His people and to provide instruction on how to live according to His will.

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