Pentateuch– written by Moses from about 1450-1400 BC, contains the following five books: Genesis– chronicles the beginning of human history (about 4000 BC). Chap.1-11 traces beginning of creation to 2000 BC. Chap. 12-50 follows history of Abraham for about 350 years. Great story of Joseph found here starting in Chap. 37 Exodus– story of the deliverance of God’s chosen Israel from Egypt. Chap. 1-18 declares judgment upon Pharaoh. In Chap. 19-40, God educates His people on the responsibilities of holy living. Ten Commandments are in Exodus 20.
Leviticus– outlines priestly duties of Levites, and is a guidebook of holy living for Hebrews. The Levites and priests instructed the people in their worship. Numbers– story of how the Israelites prepared to enter the Promised land, and how they sinned and were punished. Deuteronomy– this book was to remind the Hebrew nation of what God had done for them and encourages them to rededicate their lives to Him. Deuteronomy 7:9 is a key verse: “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commands.” Remember God! Remember God! Don’t forget!
Joshua– written by Joshua to give the history of Israel’s conquest of the Promised land. Key verses: Joshua 1:7-8 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.”
Judges– written by Samuel (the first judge) to show that God’s judgment against sin is certain, and His forgiveness of sin and restoration is just as certain. Key verse- Judges17:6 “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.”
Ruth– author unknown. Shows how three people (Ruth, Naomi, Boaz) remained strong in character and true to God even when the society around them was collapsing. Very practical for today. Ruth 1:16 “Don’t urge me to leave you or turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.”
1 and 2 Samuel– (1) talks about the life of Samuel, the life of Israel’s first king who was Saul, and the preparation for King David. (2) tells the history of King David’s reign. (around 930 BC)
1 and 2 Kings– (1) Solomon (David’s son) becomes king (Chap. 1-11) The kingdom becomes divided; Israel to the north, Judah to the south (Chap. 12-22). (2) the rebellion of Israel/Judah, and describes all the of the kings who did evil “in the eyes of the Lord”. (there were more evil kings than “good” kings)
2 Chronicles– written by Ezra in 430 BC. Chronicles Solomon’s reign starting in 970 BC. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “ if My people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
Ezra– written in 450 BC. Return of the Jews to their homeland from Babylonian captivity.
Nehemiah– written 445 BC. Talks about rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem that had been destroyed. Great verse: Nehemiah 6:8 “The joy of the Lord is my strength”.
Esther through the last book of the Old Testament Malachi– retraces history that has already been described previously in Old Testament.
Esther– unknown author, maybe Mordecai. Written 480 BC. Setting is Persia. No mention of God in this book. We can learn from Esther’s character.
Job– 2000 BC. Setting-Uz. Unknown author. Answers question: Why do the righteous suffer? Job 1:21 says, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away: may the name of the Lord be praised.”
Psalms– David wrote 73 psalms. Asaph and Korah-21. 51 are anonymous. First poetic book. Key verse: Psalm 46:10 “Cease striving and know that I am God.” Psalm 118 is the middle chapter of the Bible. The middle verse of the Bible is Psalm 118: 8- “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.”
Proverbs– phenomenal book of wisdom. Written mostly by Solomon. A few chapters by Agur, and Lemuel. Proverbs 1:7 My favorite: “The fear (awe) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”
Ecclesiastes– 935 BC by Solomon. Key verse 12:13 — “Fear God and keep His commandments…” Solomon compromised his values later because of relationships with 100s of pagan women. Ecclesiastes 12:1 says, “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach whey you will say, “I find no pleasure in them”-
Song of Songs– written by Solomon. Affirms sanctity of marriage. Pictures God’s love for His people.
Isaiah– written by prophet Isaiah – 690 BC. 66 chapters. Calls Jews back to God; salvation will be through the Messiah. Isaiah 41:10– “So do not fear, for I am with you; I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Jeremiah– prophesized for 40 yrs. Young priest. Imprisoned for speaking up for God. Very turbulent times. Key verse: Jeremiah 17:9 – “The heart of man is deceitfully wicked; who can know it but God.”
Lamentations– written by Jeremiah as a song for a funeral. 586 BC. Key verse: Lamentations 3:22-23 The Lord’s compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
Ezekiel– written in 571 BC by Ezekiel. Tells of God’s judgment on Israel. But there’s hope for God’s restoration!
Daniel– written by the deported Daniel in 535 BC. Message: God is in complete control at all times!
Hosea– by Hosea in 715 BC. Story of the unfaithfulness of wife Gomer and nation Israel. Hosea (Gomer’s husband) and God forgive!
Joel– written by Joel in 800 BC. Theme: God wants us to return to Him with all of our heart.
Amos– farmer, fig-picker. Written in 750 BC. Theme: to pronounce God’s judgment on the northern kingdom.
Obadiah– 850 BC. God brings the proud nation of Edom down in judgment; never heard of again throughout history.
Jonah– written by Jonah in 770 BC. Shows extent of God’s grace and mercy to Ninevites (Assyrians). God tells Jonah in Jonah 4:11, “Nineveh has more than 120,000 people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?”
Micah– written about 700 BC. Warns God’s people that judgment is coming. Key verse: Micah 6:8– “He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Nahum– written in 660 BC. Theme: Trust in the Lord and not powerful nations like Assyria or Thebes.
Habakkuk– written about 600 BC. Theme: God is still in control of world in spite of apparent triumph of evil. Believe it; He is in control of all evil too.
Zephaniah– 630 BC. Theme: to shake the people of Judah out of their complacency. Key verse: Zeph 2:3
Haggai– written 520 BC. Theme: to call the Israelites back to rebuilding the temple. Key verse: Haggai 1:4
Zechariah– written in 500 BC. Minor prophet. Very prophetic of the coming Messiah. Key verse: Zech 9:9-10 is a favorite
Malachi– 430 BC. 47 of 55 verses are spoken by God. Malachi confronts sin in people’s lives and lack of commitment.
Reference: Life Application Bible, NIV version, 1991