Old Testament Books

by Matt Slick

The Old Testament has 39 books total, which consist of . . .

Pentateuch - 5 books
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy

Historical Books - 12 books
Joshua, Judges, Ruth, First Samuel, Second Samuel, First Kings, Second Kings,
First Chronicles, Second Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther

Poetic books - 5 books
Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon

Prophetic books - 17 books
Major Prophets - Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel
Minor Prophets - Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk,
Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi


A list of books with brief descriptions of contents.

Pentateuch - 5 books

  1. Genesis - Creation, the Fall, the Flood, the spread of the nations, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. Enslavement in Egypt.
  2. Exodus - Enslavement, Moses, ten plagues, Passover, Leave Egypt, Red Sea Crossing, Mt. Sinai and the 10 Commandments
  3. Leviticus - Instructions on the sacrificial system and the priesthood. Instructions on moral purity.
  4. Numbers - Still at Mt. Sinai, people make false idol, punishment, 40-years wandering begins.
  5. Deuteronomy - Moses' discourses on God's Acts for Israel the Decalogue, the ceremonial, civil, and social Laws, and covenant ratification.

Historical Books - 12 books total

  1. Joshua - First half of Joshua describes the 7-year conquest of the Land of Promise. The last half deals with partitioning the lands to the people.
  2. Judges - Time of Judges. This was a bad time period. The Israelites did not drive out all the inhabitants of Canaan and began to take part in their idolatry. 7 cycles of foreign oppression, repentance, and deliverance. In the end, the people failed to learn their lesson.
  3. Ruth - Kinsman Redeemer in Boaz, redeeming Ruth, a Moabitess. Speaks of righteousness, love, and faithfulness to the Lord.

The next 6 books trace the time from Samuel to the Captivity

  1. First Samuel - Samuel carries Israel from judges to King Saul
  2. Second Samuel - David as King, adultery, and murder.
  3. First Kings - Solomon, Israel is powerful. Solomon dies, then division of tribes: 10 to the north and 2 to the south.
  4. Second Kings - The Divided Kingdom. All 19 kings of Israel were bad, therefore, captivity in Assyria (722 B.C.). In Judah, 8 of 20 rulers were good but went into exile, too.
  5. First Chronicles - A recounting of the history of Israel to the time of Solomon.
  6. Second Chronicles - continued recounting of the life of Solomon, building of temple, to the captivity. History of Judah only.

The Next 3 books deal with Israel's Restoration.

  1. Ezra - Cyrus let most of the Jews return to their land of Israel. Zerubbabel led the people (539 B.C.). Ezra returned later with more Jews (458 B.C.) Built the temple.
  2. Nehemiah - Building the walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah got permission from the king of Persia to rebuild the walls (444 B.C.). Revival in the land.
  3. Esther - Took place during chapters 6 and 7 of Ezra. Mordecai. Plot to kill the Jewish people.

Poetical - 5 books

  1. Job - a righteous man tested by God. Deals with God's sovereignty.
  2. Psalms - Consists of 5 divisions. Worship in song. Large variety of subjects.
  3. Proverbs - Practical wisdom in everyday affairs.
  4. Ecclesiastes - All is vanity. The wisdom of man is futility.
  5. Song of Solomon - A song (between Solomon and his Shulammite bride) displaying the love between a man and a woman.

Prophetical - 17 books

Major Prophets - 5 books

  1. Isaiah - Looks at the sin of Judah and proclaims God's judgment. Hezekiah. Coming restoration and blessing.
  2. Jeremiah - Called by God to proclaim the news of judgment to Judah, which came. God establishes a New Covenant.
  3. Lamentations - 5 lament poems. Description of defeat and fall of Jerusalem.
  4. Ezekiel - He ministered to the Jews in Captivity in Babylon. Description of the end of times.
  5. Daniel - Many visions of the future for the Gentiles and the Jews.

Minor Prophets - 12 books

  1. Hosea - Story of Hosea and his unfaithful wife, Gomer. Represents God's love and faithfulness and Israel's spiritual adultery. Israel will be judged and restored.
  2. Joel - Proclaims a terrifying future using the imagery of locusts. Judgment will come, but blessing will follow.
  3. Amos - He warned Israel of its coming judgment. Israel rejects God's warning.
  4. Obadiah - A proclamation against Edom, a neighboring nation of Israel that gloated over Jerusalem's judgments. Prophecy of its utter destruction.
  5. Jonah - Jonah proclaims a coming judgment upon Nineveh's people, but they repented, and judgment was spared.
  6. Micah - Description of the complete moral decay in all levels of Israel. God will judge but will forgive and restore.
  7. Nahum - Nineveh has gone into apostasy (approx. 125 years after Jonah) and will be destroyed.
  8. Habakkuk - Near the end of the kingdom of Judah, Habakkuk asks God why He is not dealing with Judah's sins. God says He will use the Babylonians. Habakkuk asks how God can use a nation that is even worse than Judah.
  9. Zephaniah - The theme is developed of the Day of the Lord and His judgment with a coming blessing. Judah will not repent except for a remnant, which will be restored.
  10. Haggai - The people failed to put God first by building their houses before they finished God's temple. Therefore, they had no prosperity.
  11. Zechariah - Zechariah encourages the Jews to complete the temple. Many messianic prophecies.
  12. Malachi - God's people are lax in their duty to God. Growing distant from God. Moral compromise. Proclamation of coming judgment.





About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.