The Old Testament Books of History


Joshua thru Esther


After Moses died (the last few verses of Deuteronomy), he couldn't write anymore. Probably his assistant, Joshua, actually added the part about Moses' death to the end of Deuteronomy. But even without Moses, the history of God's people continued. Now who would write it down?

A number of people recorded the events of the next several hundred years. Each writer had a specific purpose or focus in his writing, which I will point out. For these reasons, you can often find slightly different versions of the same event recorded in more than one book. Also, because many languages were used in close proximity, a person's name may have more than one spelling, or the person may be called by several different names. (We still do that today--William is called Bill and Margaret is often called Peggy, for just a couple of examples).

The following is a summary of each of the OT history books. I pray this stirs up your interest in reading each of the books for yourself and helps you stay on track in understanding each book.



Joshua
Judges
Ruth
I and II Samuel
I and II Kings
I and II Chronicles
Ezra
Nehemiah
Esther



JOSHUA
This book marks the end of the Moses period. Now the Israelites, under command of their new leader, Joshua, enter the promised land of Canaan. The new nation of Israel is first formed, but the people had not followed every command from God, so Joshua warned them how their lack of diligence would cause them future problems. Nevertheless, the people enter into a renewed covenant with God in the last chapter, just before Joshua dies.
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JUDGES
The young nation of Israel has been set up with laws from Moses and the territory has been outlined by Joshua before he died. Now the people are to look to God as their king, but the Book of Judges show how the people are unfaithful to God when they lack a strong spiritual leader. From time to time God raised up a "Judge" who would correct the wayward people and rescue them from their enemies. This book reveals the faithfulness and mercy of God.
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RUTH
The book of Ruth is a beautiful love story between Ruth and Boaz. And it shows an excellent story of committed, parental love between Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi. But most important, its a foreshadowing of a coming Kinsman Redeemer, Jesus Christ, who would redeem the people much like Boaz redeemed Ruth.
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I and II SAMUEL
I Samuel begins with the last judge, Samuel, who also is considered the first prophet of God. This is a transition book, bridging the period of the Judges to the period of Kings. King Saul is the first King of Israel, but when he doesn't follow God's commands, God removes His blessing on Saul's reign. Instead, God anoints David to be King in Saul's place. II Samuel records much of David's rule as King.
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I and II KINGS
At the beginning of I Kings, we find that King David is very old and about to die, but his son, Solomon, is set up to reign as the next King of Israel. The years go by, and King Solomon strays from God in his later years, so God determines to split the kingdom. So Solomon's heirs begin ruling only a small Kingdom of Judah (also known as the southern kingdom), while other men (most of them evil) will reign over the rest of Israel (also known as the northern kingdom). The remainder of I and II Kings is the history of the various Kings of Judah, all descendants of King David, through Solomon, just as God had promised David.
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I and II CHRONICLES
These two books were written after the destruction of Jerusalem in response to the question "why would God allow Jerusalem, His Holy City, to be destroyed?" The answer was found in the history of the people's repeated unfaithfulness to Him. The biggest difference between Kings and Chronicles is that Kings only records the Kings of Judah, while Chronicles records the Kings of both Israel and Judah.
I Chronicles mirrors the same period of time as I Samuel 31 through I Kings 2.
II Chronicles mirrors the same period of time as I Kings 2 through the end of II Kings.
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EZRA
Ezra begins, after a few years, where II Chronicles had ended with the city of Jerusalem in complete destruction. Now, the people are being allowed to return to rebuild the temple.
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NEHEMIAH
Nehemiah follows in the footsteps of Ezra, except now the Jews are rebuilding the city walls around Jerusalem. Nehemiah ends with a renewed zeal for serving God and is accompanied by the leaders all signing a renewed covenant.
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ESTHER
After the Jewish people are allowed to return to the rebuilt Jerusalem and its surrounding areas, the story in Esther unfolds in the foriegn city of Susa, which is the capital of Persia. Many Jews live in this foriegn land since they had been taken captive by the Babylonians. Although the Jews are no longer held there as prisioners, they still had enemies. Queen Esther and Mordecai are Jews who remain true to God and God uses them to save the Jewish people from destruction.
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