A Bible Survey course.

THEME VERSE. Click on each underlined Bible verse. This verse states the theme for this course: 2 Timothy 3:16.  Based on this verse, the goal for this course is that the Bible will be profitable to you, in these four ways

TEACHING (WHAT GOD HAS DONE) … remember, it is still the same God
REPROOF (WHAT NOT TO DO) … is there anything I should repent of?
CORRECTION (WHAT TO DO) … but then why aren’t I doing it?

On, if you click on “Interlin” in the horizontal bar, you will see that the Greek word for “inspired” is:

God-breathed. (theo means “God,” and pnuestos means “breathed.”)

1.God is the source. 2 Peter 1:21: “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” BLB 

2.God breathes life through the Bible now. Hebrews 4:12: “For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, even penetrating as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” NASB

(Ponder: In what other verses does God “breathe into” something?)


1.BIBLE means “book” in Greek, so the full name for the 66 books produced by the people of God is “The Holy Bible.” In a church context, we assume that when people say “bible” they mean “the Holy Bible.”

2.SCRIPTURE means ‘writings,” but when see that word in the Bible it always refers to a particular set of writings: the books of the Bible, or “Holy Scripture.”

HOW THE BIBLE IS ORGANIZED See Bookshelf diagram

The Old Testament descrsibes the Old Covenant, in which animal sacrifices were made for sins. In the New Covenant, Jesus provides the sacrifice for sins, as explained at Hebrews 9:13-14 


Before ChristTime of Christ
39 books, over a 1000 year period27 books, over a 40 year period
Last book written 400 BC.  Last book written 90 AD
OT contains the OLD COVENANTNT contains the NEW COVENANT
Sins covered by animal sacrificeSins covered by Jesus’ sacrifice


(that is, the writings and the prophets will be explained where they fit into the flow of the main characters in the history section).

Click here for the order books will be introduced


1.God did not stop loving His people, even though they rebelled against Him, thus teaching us that God will not give up on us, even though we do not deserve it.

2.Luther called the Bible “the cradle of Christ.” This course will relate each book to Christ.


For your further background, click on: Old Testament Basic Contents and Concepts

DETAILS OF EACH BOOK. You can quickly read a short description of all the books at this link: (These descriptions are repeated as each book is described in the main text below.) Or you can get a snapshot of the entire Bible in four minutes here: also

If you want even more detail for each book, you may click for an outline , for an animated description, or for a detailed power point. Continue:


GENESIS is from a Greek word that means “beginnings.” (Our word genealogy comes from the same Greek word).


1.Since God is outside creation, God alone is dependable
2.Creation shows us the power and wonder of God. 




Psalm 19:1 says “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” ESV Another translation: says “How clearly the sky reveals God’s glory! How plainly it shows what he has done! “ GNT

1.The word “Glory” here means something our five senses can take in that shows us the something about the nature of God. We cannot see God directly (for Exodus 33:20 says “no one can see God and live”), so God devises ways to show us His reality that do not cause us to die, and the word “glory” is sometimes used for those occurrences. In this verse, the word “glory” indicates that even though the heavens themselves are not God, yet when we look up at the sky we get a sense of the vastness of God. In another example, the glory of God was shown to the shepherds when Jesus was born; they sensed that something was out of the ordinary, which made them afraid, but they did not die..

2.All of creation, not only the heavens, shows how wonderful God is. Romans 1:20 says, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made”

2. What about Mankind? Genesis 1:20 tells us that “God created man in His own image.”  Since mankind is in God’s image, mankind can show aspects of God beyond what the sky can show, such as love and creativity. Mankind however disobeyed God and “fell short” of their role of displaying what God is like. Romans 3:23 says, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

4.But Jesus did fulfil the role that mankind had been meant to fill.   John 1:18  says “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” NIV

5. John 17:4  Jesus himself states that by his actions he was showing the nature of God. (Jesus prayed): “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.” By dying on the cross, Jesus displayed the loving heart of God. 

6.Where does that leave us? God is restoring us to His original intent by the way Jesus is changing us.   Romans 8:29 says that God has already determined for us “to become conformed to the image of His Son.”      Ephesians 1:12 confirms that “we who were the first to hope in Christ [who first put our confidence in Him as our Lord and Savior] would exist to the praise of His glory.” AMP

7.Through the work of Jesus in our lives, we can again be displayers of God: In Matthew 5:16 (Jesus said): “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” When people see how we act, we want them to see something about the God who has made us into people that would act like that.

1.Mankind is in the image of God; God saw that everything was good: material things are not evil 

2. God instituted marriage, and said “Be fruitful and multiply.”
3. Disobedience and its results: the Fall, and “original sin.”

4. The tempter, Satan is Introduced.

5. A savior who will overcome Satan is promised.


God created heavens and earth New heavens and new earth. Rev 21:1
God made the sunNo need for sun. Rev 22:5. 
Removed from tree of life Access to tree of life. Rev 22:2
Adam and Eve will suffer painno more crying and pain. Rev 21:4
The devil tempts to disobey GodThe devil is thrown into the lake of fire 


1.Adam’s children Cain and Abel show the early use of animal offerings

2. Noah and the Flood shows God as a Judge; Jesus said the end of the world will be just as unexpected.

3.The tower of Babel shows the futility of human pride


Click here for map of Bible Event Locations

Click here for map of Bible lands

Click here for close up of Israel region


About 2000 BC God tells a man named Abraham to move to the land of Canaan.
God gives him a promise, called a “covenant.” God promises:
1 Your descendants will live in Canaan.
2 I will be God to you and to your descendants
3. I will bless all the peoples of the earth through your descendants

The covenant with Abraham is important because it is the basis for our assurance today.

1.Genesis 17 STATES THE COVENANT.  Note the final phrase: “to be God to you and you descendants.” This is the part that is repeated each time the covenant was renewed, and it is the part that refers to us. (for meanings of the names Abram, Abraham, and other biblical names, see the website Behind the Name). The covenant was repeated many times, (for example, to Moses, Joshua, and David) but the people disobeyed the covenant many times by turning to other gods, so:

2.Jeremiah 31 foretells a new covenant, with the same promise.                   

3.Jesus in Luke 22:20 establishes the new covenant

4.Paul says this promise is for us in Galatians 3:14, and Galatians 3:21. 

5.At the end of the world, Revelation 21:3 the promise is repeated: He is our God, we are His people

1.Abraham believes God and therefore is declared righteous.  Genesis 15:6     
(in Romans 4:20, Paul quotes this verse to undergird justification by faith)

2.Abraham’s son Isaac is saved from death as God provides a substitute for him. This idea of a substitute is important because later God told His people to sacrifice animals as a substitute to pay for their sins (their disobedience to God), and finally God provided Jesus as a subsitute for us.


Abraham’s son Isaac has a son Jacob, who receives a second name, Israel, so his descendants after that are called the people of Israel. (Later,the people of Israel are also called the Jews.) Jacob has twelve sons,¹ of which one, Joseph, is sold as a slave in Egypt. Joseph rises to high position, saves the Egyptians from starvation, and later all his brothers and their families move to Egypt.

Click here for Bible events keyed to their locations



SHORT DESCRIPTION: JOB may have been written at the time of Abraham. God allows Job to suffer to prove that Job’s love for God was not just because Job was blessed. His friends each had advice about what Job should do, but God silenced all discussion by averring that His ways are above our ways. At the end, Job maintained his faith, and God restored what had been taken away.

MORE ABOUT JOB: As we ponder this book, we may ask ourselves whether our faith is genuine enough to trust God no matter how bad things look. We can ask ourselves, “am I immune to the danger of serving God only when things are going good?” We also may wonder at time whether God really does love us. Faith allows us to say, like Job, what Paul writes in Romans 11:33. No matter what, can we say what Job does in Job 19:25? Like Job, Jesus suffered even though he was innocent, but also, as the book of Job shows, Jesus knew there was a grand plan behind it all; Hebrews 12:2-3.

In Luke 23:31, Jesus tells Peter that “Satan demanded to have you, to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.” What themes do you see here that remind you of Job?

timeline from Abraham to Christ.


From two Greek words: “ex,” which means “out,” and “odos,” which means “path.” This book tells about the “path out” of Egypt, where the People of Israel had lived for 430 years since the time of Joseph, and had become slaves. This happened around the 1400’s (some reference books say 1200’s)

More about Egypt

God rescued the Israelites because as Exodus 2:24  says, “God heard their groaning and He remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob.” The COVENANT was the assurance to Israelites that God would help them, and it is also the basis for our assurance, since through Jesus we enter into that covenant. 

God chose a man named Moses to lead them out of Egypt. Pharoah (the Egyptian name for King) had commanded that all the Israelite boy babies be killed. Moses was placed into a basket in the Nile River, where He is found by the daughter of the Pharoah, and so is brought up as an Egyptian. Moses kills an Egyptian slave-driver and escapes into the desert, where he encounters the “burning bush.” (the bush was on fire but did not burn up.)

A voice speaks from the bush, telling Moses to go to Pharoah and bring the people out of Egypt. Moses asks what he should say if the Israelite leaders demand to know the name of the one who spoke from the bush. 

In answer, God then reveals His name. Exodus 3:14 writes that “God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”  You can understand I AM as God saying here that He is “being itself” or “pure existence.”  

Exodus 3:15 continues, “God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The I AM, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.”

The “I AM” in this sentence is the Hebrew letters YHWH, a form of the verb “to be.”  Only consonants were written in Ancient Hebrew, so scholars do not know exactly how this word was pronounced. Near the end of Old Testament times, the people of Israel stopped pronouncing it, so they would not run the risk of breaking a commandment by taking God’s name in vain. When they came to the syllables YHWH while reading the Bible in Hebrew, they spoke their word for “Lord” instead. Most of today’s English Bibles continue this custom. When you see LORD all in caps in your Bible, that means the word YHWH originally appeared there. So the sentence quoted above from Exodus 3:15 is probably written like this in your Bible:

“Say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.” Wherever you see LORD all in caps in your Bible, the original word was YHWH, “I AM.” The Hebrew word YHWH does not appear in the New Testament, because it was not written in Hebrew, but Jesus claims to be one with YHWH in John 8:58: “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”

It is customary today to pronounce YHWH as “Yahweh,” and it is sometimes shortened to “Yah.” Yah is found at the end of the word “Halleluyah;” Hallel means praise, the “u” means “you,” and the “yah” is the name of God, the I AM. (In English spelling we typically replace the y with an i, and write Halleluia.)

Israelites honored God by putting “Yah” into people’s names. The following names end with Yah, spelled iah: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hezekiah. (the first part of this word means “strength,” so the name means “Yahweh is my strength.”) The YH is also found at the beginning of some names. The name of the man who took over after Moses died sounds like this in Hebrew: “ye-ho-shua.”  The word shua means salvation, so the name means “Yahweh is salvation.”  After AD 1100, the English language began to replace the y sound with a j sound, so your Bible calls this man Joshua.  

After further changes as the name was written in Greek and Latin and finally English, it is also pronounced “Jesus.” Jesus means “Yahweh saves,” and so we can make sense of what the angel said to the husband of Mary in Matthew 1:20-21. “Joseph … do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 


Pharoah at first refused to release the Israelites, so God sent ten plagues upon the Egyptians. The last plague was the death of a child in each family. The Israelites were told to put the blood of a lamb over their doorposts. The angel of death then “passed over” the homes of the Israelites. They were saved from death by the blood of a lamb. We too are saved from death by the blood of the ultimate lamb of God, Jesus Christ. The freeing of slaves is called “redeeming” or “redemption,” and we still use that word to understand how Jesus has freed us from the slavery of sin by ransoming us with his blood. In Revelation 5: 9, the saints worship Jesus, the lamb of God with these words: “Worthy are you… for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language …”

As the Israelites were fleeing Egypt, the Egyptian army chased them and cornered them along the shore of a sea. (The Hebrew name for the this place is the reed sea, but long-standing custom translates it as Red Sea; that is because the Greek translation used the word “red” to indicate any body of water that was on the fringes of civilization. ) God miraculously parted the waters. God told Moses to lead them out of Egypt into the desert to a mountain called Sinai or Horeb. Here God gave them the Ten Commandments. Because the people did not trust God to give them victory over the inhabitants of the land he wanted them to live in (the land of Canaan), God punished them by having them wander in the desert for 40 years. During that time the people grumbled, but God provided water from a rock, and quail as meat, plus a white crust that appeared on the ground in the morning, which they called “manna,” which means “what is it?”  Jesus also created bread for a crowd, showing that he has the power of God, and then explained the deeper significance in John 6:30+  So they asked Him, “What sign then will You perform, so that we may see it and believe You? What will You do?  Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I tell you, … the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” “Sir,” they said, “give us this bread at all times.” Jesus answered, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me will never hunger, and whoever believes in Me will never thirst. 

In the middle ages, Hebrew scholars devised a code to indicate vowel sounds. They did this by putting symbols under the written consonants. The entire Hebrew Bible now is published with symbols under the letters, so we know how to pronounce the words. But when the editors came to the word YHWH, they did not put the symbols for YHWH under its letters, because they were not going to pronounce it anyway. They were going to pronounce their word for “lord,” and so they put those consonants under YHWH. Later an English-speaking translator combined YHWH with the consonants for lord, spoke the Y as a J and spoke the W as a V (as is done in German), and came up with the word “Jehovah.” When you see “Jehovah,” realize that it is a translation for YHWH (I AM).

The generic Hebrew word for God, EL, also appears at the end of names: Ezekiel, Daniel. Both  words for God are in Exodus 20:2  I am the LORD (YHWH) your God (EL) who brought you out of the land of Egypt. You shall have no other gods (EL in its plural form, Elohim) before me. Isaiah prophesied that a child would be born who would be called Immanuel. Imman means “with,” the “u” means “us,” and the “el” means God.


This book is named after the Levites (the descendants of Levi, one of Jacob’s 12 sons). Their role was to be the priests, that is, to perform the animal sacrifices for the forgiveness of sins, and this book provides instructions for them. God gives details for the sacrifices and the festivals, and stresses the importance of holiness.


The blood sacrifice system is summarized here in Hebrews 9:1-7:   Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary.  A tabernacle was prepared. In its first room were the lampstand, the table, and the consecrated bread. This was called the Holy Place.  Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, containing the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. Inside the ark were the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant.  Above the ark were the cherubim of glory, overshadowing the mercy seat….When everything had been prepared in this way, the priests entered regularly into the first room to perform their sacred duties.  But only the high priest entered the second room, and then only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance.

The “mercy seat” mentioned above was the lid on the “ark (box) of the covenant.” Leviticus 16:14-16    says:. Aaron shall then slaughter the goat for the sin offering for the people and bring its blood behind the veil, and with its blood he must do as he did with the bull’s blood: He is to sprinkle it against the mercy seat and in front of it. So he shall make atonement for the Most Holy Place because of the impurities and rebellious acts of the Israelites in regard to all their sins.

The words in bold print above are related because they are based on the same consonants: KPR. This helps us understand the word “atonement,” because the word for the lid on the box (called the mercy seat) has the same root as the word for the result of putting blood on the lid (atonement). “Atonement” then is what happens when the blood is sprinkled: the results of sin are taken away. These vowels are still found today in the name for the annual Jewish “day of atonement,” which is called “yom kippur.” (yom means “day.”)

In New Testament Greek, the same word (hilasterion) is also used for the lid (Hebrews 9:5) and for the results.  In English this is often represented by the word “propitiation,” which means “to appease wrath.” 1 John 2:2   says: He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. ESV. 

Other translators have tried to translate that word through entire phrases, for example:

He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world. NLT

And Christ himself is the means by which our sins are forgiven, and not our sins only, but also the sins of everyone. GNT

He is the payment for our sins, and not only for our sins, but also for the sins of the whole world. GWT


When you see that word “propitiation,” remember that it specifies, “my sins are taken care of by the application of the blood of Jesus.”

Holiness is stressed in Leviticus. HOLY means “set apart from the commonplace for God’s use.”

The stress on holiness is still expected of us: 1 Peter 1:13-19.    Therefore prepare your minds for action. Be sober-minded. Set your hope fully on the grace to be given you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  As obedient children, do not conform to the passions of your former ignorance.  But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do, for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” … For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life you inherited from your forefathers,  but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or spot.

[Holiness is not a way to salvation, but a description of the Christian life. God brings it about, according to Colossians 1:21-22.  At one time you were far away from God and were his enemies because of the evil things you did and thought. But now, by means of the physical death of his Son, God has made you his friends, in order to bring you, holy, pure, and faultless, into his presence. GNT


NUMBERS is an English word, given to this book because it tells how many people there were in each of the 12 tribes of Israel. The book also names the tribes that they had to overcome as thy neared their promised land (Canaan, now called Israel). as they move about in the desert of Sinai for 40 years.


1.Moses sent spies into Canaan to check the strength of the tribes there before the people of Israel would enter. Of the 12 spies, 10 said the tribes were too strong. When the people of Israel decided they would not enter because it was too dangerous, God punished them for their lack of faith, and they were made to wander in the wilderness for 40 years until that entire unbelieving generation passed away. 

2.At one point the people were bitten by poisonous snakes. God commanded Moses to make a bronze snake and put it on a pole, with the promise that those who looked on it would live. Jesus referred to this story to help explain the purpose of his coming, in John 3:14

3.Numbers also includes the episode with the prophet Balaam, who was hired to curse Israel, but when he opened his mouth, blessings came out. He is the one whose donkey complained about being struck, because the donkey saw an angel blocking their path, but Balaam didn’t.


SHORT DESCRIPTION:  DEUTERONOMY is from two Greek words: “deutero,” which means “two,” and “nomos,” which means “law.”  In it Moses reviews God’s laws at the end of the 40 years in the desert. Moses then dies.

MORE: Moses repeats the ten commandments and the laws for ceremonies and civil life. In a major section, Moses promises blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. As the years passed, the people did disobey the law, and when their kingdom came to an end the interpreted that as receiving the curse they had been warned about. We are all disobedient and do deserve the same curse. Jesus dealt with this problem for us: Galatians 3:13.


JOSHUA had been one of the spies who did believe that Israel could defeat the people of Canaan. After Moses dies, God appoints Joshua to guide the people of Israel from the wilderness into the land of Canaan. 

God stops the flood-time flow of the Jordan River so the people can enter the promised land. An angel appears to Joshua assuring him of God’s promise of victory. The walls of Jericho fall down after the people encircle it each day for seven days. One resident of Jericho, named Rahab, married a Jewish man and from their family line came King David and later Jesus Christ. After defeating other cities, the land is divided among the twelve tribes, and they call their country “Israel.” Just before Joshua dies, he leads the people in renewing their covenant with God.

More about land of Israel

Click here to see maps before and after Joshua

Click here to see areas divided among the tribes

Joshua’s name has a significant meaning. The second syllable, shua, means “salvation.” Moses added the first syllable, taking it from the first syllable of Yahweh (God’s name that means “I Am.”). The resulting name, which sounds like “ye-ho-shua,” means “Yahweh is salvation.”  After AD 1100, the English language began to replace y sounds with j sounds, so the English pronunciation became Joshua.  

When Hebrew scholars translated the Old Testament into Greek, they shortened the name and had to add a letter “s” to indicate it was a masculine name, so they wrote the name as “Yesous,”

which in English is pronounced “Jesus.” Jesus and Joshua thus both mean “Yahweh is salvation.” This enables us to make sense of what the angel said to the husband of Mary in Matthew 1:20-21. “Joseph … do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 


God’s encouragement to Joshua is still used today: Joshua 1:7-9.  …Above all, be strong and very courageous. Be careful to observe all the law that My servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may prosper wherever you go.  Have I not commanded you to be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

Jesus confirms that this same promise is for us also, because he says to his followers in Luke 12:32: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. And in Matthew 28:20 Jesus says: “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the age.”  

[link to colored maps of any place-name;


JUDGES is the word chosen by English translators for 12 temporary military leaders who led the Israelites from the 1300’s to 1050, up until the time Israel chose its first king. All 12 did not necessarily lead all the Israelites: some of the events happened to just one tribe or area. 

There is a recurring pattern of events: 

1) The people fall away from God (Judges 17:6); In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit. 2) an enemy tribe invades and oppresses the people; 3) the people cry out to God; and 4) God provides a temporary leader. The lesson is that GOD KEEPS HIS COVENANT: GOD NEVER REJECTS HIS PEOPLE.

This faithfulness of God shows the relevance of this book for us today. It shows the way God treats us. We may be able to think of times when we got out from under the protection of God’s umbrella by disobeying Him and ran into difficulties; but if we are here today we have experienced that God did not give up on us. Ponder this confession by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:9For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am. (NASB). That’s why Paul can teach in 2 Timothy 2:13If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. (NASB).


Of these 12 leaders, one is Gideon, who is known for asking God to prove He is really who he says He is by having a fleece stay dry while the grass around it become wet. From this we have the English phrase “setting out a fleece,” which means to set a condition for God to meet so that you can know what His will is.  Another leader is Samson, famous for his strength, who was betrayed by his girl-friend Delilah into letting his hair be cut and thereby losing his strength. His enemies, the Philistines, blinded him and kept him captive, but during one of their feasts he pulled down the columns of the temple they were in, which fell down on the Philistines as well as upon him.

THE PHILISTINES. Near the end of this period, around 1200 BC, the Philistines appear along the shore of the Mediterranean, so the last few judges interact with the Philistines. They were a mixture of peoples from various places in the Mediterranean area. One of the cities they built was called Gaza, and that area still bears that name today (the Gaza strip). They were more technologically advanced than the Israelites, using iron swords rather than bronze swords, so they had an advantage in battle. They were finally defeated by David around 1000 BC, and remained under the control of the kings who followed David. The Babylonians conquered them and deported them, but their region continued to be called Philistia. In the year 135 AD, the Jewish people had their final revolt against the Romans, after which the Romans expelled the Jews, and the Romans changed the name of the Jewish area from Judea to Palestine, which was their pronunciation for Philistine. (the Latin language does not have a “ph” sound).

ARTIFACT: An Egyptian stone (The Merneptah Stele dating from 1208 BC) boasts of successful warfare against groups in Canaan, mentioning Israel by name. 

RUTH  was a woman from a nearby country named Moab who lived during the time of the judges. Though she lost her husband, she became loyal to the God of Israel and married a man of Israel. King David was their great-grandchild, so Jesus also came from their family line.

MORE: The story of Ruth leaving her homeland and joining the faith of her mother-in-law after their husbands died includes the famous quote of her loyalty to family and God in Ruth 1:16. The story also tells how she was found by her deceased husband’s relative who obeyed the law about marrying a widow of a relative. The Jewish law calls such a relative a “kinsman-redeemer,” whose role it was to rescue distressed family members from debt and slavery, often at great personal risk. Jesus  is the ultimate “kinsman-redeemer” because he ransomed us from spiritual captivity. “to give his life as a ransom for many.”

THE PROPHET SAMUEL. A prophet named Samuel lived near the end of the period of judges. He is the one who selected (by anointing with oil) the first two kings of the Israelites, Saul and David. The events of their lives are told in the following scrolls, named after Samuel.

FIRST SAMUEL. The story of Samuel’s birth is touching: his mother had prayed for years to have a child, so when she gave birth to Samuel she devoted him to God and he grew up as an apprentice to the priests. As he grew up he became the first notable prophet.   This book tells how he appointed a man named Saul to be the first of the kings of Israel. After Saul loses favor with God, Samuel anoints a boy named David who will be the next king.


This book gives a lot of detail about Saul’s battles against the Philistines, and how after David kills the Philistine giant Goliath Saul becomes jealous. David spends his life on the run while Saul keeps trying to find David to kill him, David however honors God by refusing to kill Saul, as shown in this story: (1 Samuel 26:9+).  So Saul, accompanied by three thousand chosen men of Israel, went down to the Wilderness of Ziph to search for David there.

Saul camped beside the road at the hill of Hachilah opposite Jeshimon, but David was living in the wilderness. When he realized that Saul had followed him there, David sent out spies to verify that Saul had arrived.

Then David set out and went to the place where Saul had camped. He saw the place where Saul and Abner son of Ner, the general of his army, had lain down. Saul was lying inside the inner circle of the camp, with the troops camped around him.  And David asked …, “Who will go down with me to Saul in the camp?” “I will go with you,” answered Abishai.

That night David and Abishai came to the troops, and Saul was lying there asleep in the inner circle of the camp, with his spear stuck in the ground by his head. And Abner and the troops were lying around him. Abishai said to David, “Today God has delivered your enemy into your hand. Now, therefore, please let me thrust the spear through him into the ground with one stroke. I will not need to strike him twice!”

But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him, for who can lift a hand against the LORD’s anointed and be guiltless?” David added, “As surely as the LORD lives, the LORD Himself will strike him down; either his day will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. But the LORD forbid that I should stretch out my hand against the LORD’s anointed. Instead, take the spear and water jug by his head, and let us go.”

So David took the spear and water jug by Saul’s head, and they departed. No one saw them or knew about it, nor did anyone wake up; they all remained asleep, because a deep sleep from the LORD had fallen on them.

This story shows why David is called a “type of Christ.” That means David did certain things that were done more in a more complete way by Jesus. Jesus also could have easily killed his enemies. But look how Peter tells us to live as followers of Christ in 1 Peter 2:19ff: For if anyone endures the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God, this is to be commended…For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His footsteps. He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth. When they heaped abuse on Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats, but entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly. He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. “By His stripes you are healed.” 

David spends years on the run. He used his gift of music to express his faith during his times of trouble, and many of those songs are now in the Book of Psalms. At one point he is captured by an enemy king, and saves his life by pretending to be out of his mind; afterward he sings about the experience (Psalm 34:1-4):  
Of David, when he pretended to be insane before Abimelech, so that the king drove him away. 

I will bless the LORD at all times;  His praise will always be on my lips. My soul boasts in the LORD; let the oppressed hear and rejoice.Magnify the LORD with me; let us exalt His name together. I sought the LORD, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.

At the end of the book of First Samuel, Saul and his sons die in battle, leaving the way open for David to be crowned as king. 

The history of the time when the people of Israel were led by kings is found in the Books of 1 and 2 Kings, and repeated from a different perspective in 1 and 2 Chronicles.

CHRONICLES is an English word that means a “record of historical events.” These two volumes retell the entire story of the Jewish kingdoms, starting from the death of king Saul, through the destruction of the kingdoms by Assyria and then by Babylonia. FIRST CHRONICLES retells the story of David.

SECOND SAMUEL.  David becomes king, brings the Philistines under his control, and establishes Jerusalem as the capital city.

Click here for maps from David to Christ

1.David expresses his thanks to God for saving him in Psalm 18. David’s spiritual leadership leadership in prayer is exemplified in 1 Chronicles 29:10+ But in a well-known story, David succumbs to temptation when he commits adultery with the wife of one of his soldiers. To cover things up, he arranges for the soldier to be placed in the front line of battle, where the soldier is killed. A prophet named Nathan is brave enough to confront David, and the words of David’s repentance are recorded in psalm 51.

After repenting, he found forgiveness, and expressed his relief in Psalm 32:1-4.

An encouragement for us in found in the fact that God still called David “a man after my on heart” even though he had sinned. Sin is real, but the forgiveness that comes after repentance is also real, and God still loves and accepts us. 

Bathsheba becomes the mother of Solomon, who will become the next king. David offers to build a temple for God, but God leaves that for Solomon to do. God does however make a greater promise to David, In (2 Samuel 7:16) God says to David: Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’” This is the origin of the hope for a descendant of David who will live forever a hope that the people of Israel held on to even after the earthly reign of David’s descendants had ended. Since kings are anointed, this descendant was called “the anointed one.”: That word in the Hebrew language is “Messiah,” and the same word translated into Greek is “Christ.” Psalm 2 talked about the anointed one like this:

PSALM 2: Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together, against the LORD  and against His Anointed One: “Let us break Their chains and cast away Their cords.”

This Psalm says that when rebellious nations refuse to submit to God’s annointed one, they are rebellion against God himself. Some scholars think that Psalm 2  could have been sung every time a new king was anointed, but the details of this Psalm show that its complete fulfillment happens with the coming of Jesus. As Psalm 2 continues, God endorses the role of the anointed one like this:

The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord taunts them. Then He rebukes them in His anger, and terrifies them in His fury: “I have installed My King on Zion, upon My holy mountain. I will proclaim the decree: the LORD has said to me: “You are My Son; today I have begotten you. 

The word “begotten” is the word usually used for giving birth, but in this Psalm it is used to designate the assignment of a role. That role is being anointed as king. Zion is the hill on which Jerusalem is built, from which the kings of Israel rule. But the application is made in the New Testament in Hebrews 1:4;  Speaking of Jesus, the verse says:  He became as far superior to the angels as the name He has inherited is excellent beyond theirs.  For to which of the angels did God ever say: “You are My Son; today I have begotten you”?

Psalm 2 continues with God speaking to the Messiah:

Ask of Me, and I will make the nations Your inheritance, the ends of the earth Your possession. You will break them with an iron scepter; You will shatter them like pottery.”

At his first coming, Jesus suffered death for our sins, but when he comes the second time at the end of the world, he will come as the triumphant king, as portrayed in Revelation 19:11-14. with words reminiscent of Psalm 2 : Then I saw heaven standing open, and there before me was a white horse. And its rider is called Faithful and True. With righteousness He judges and wages war.  He has eyes like blazing fire, and many royal crowns on His head. He has a name written on Him that only He Himself knows.  He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and His name is The Word of God.The armies of heaven, dressed in fine linen, white and pure, follow Him on white horses.  And from His mouth proceeds a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and He will rule them with an iron scepter.

Psalm 2 continues: Therefore be wise, O kings; be admonished, O judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry and you perish in your rebellion, when His wrath ignites in an instant. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him.

The phrase “kiss the Son” refers to the ceremonial kiss that signifies submission to a king. And the next phrase refers to the promise of protection that a King gives to his subjects.  The New Testament repeats this condition and promise in Romans 10:9: If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, YOU SHALL BE SAVED.

In Psalm 110 God says to the promised Messiah; Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies into your footstool. Hebrews 10:12+ refers this verse to Jesus, saying: But when Christ (Greek for Messiah)  had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God, waiting until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet, The fulfillment is written inn Philippians 2:9ff which says that after Jesus died, God exalted him, and that  “at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow … and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”

PSALMS is from a Greek word that means “to play on a harp.” The Hebrew title means “Songs of Praise.” About half of the 150 songs in this book were written by David. *


1.They are models for praising (praise God for who he is and for what he has done)

2.They give us words for prayers when in distress or to confess sins. Ps 51, Ps 130

3.Thanksgiving for what God has done (delivers the nation from Egypt & tribes) Ps136

4.References to famous people: David: Ps 3.  Moses Ps. 90. Solomon Ps. 72 and 127   

5.References to other times in history: Ps 137

6. Exalting the kings (David & his descendants), Ps 45, and the coming king (the Messiah). 

 7.Asking God to destroy enemies: the “imprecatory” Psalms. How to deal with them:
…..a.Regard them as spiritual enemies.
…..b.God is a practical God who helps in time of war

…..c.Not think they were uncivilized: our bombs destroy children
…..d.We are leaving justice in God’s hands. 
…..e.Bonhoeffer: they are real curses, but Jesus took the punishment.
…..f. can be applied to the fierce battle between Jesus and the enemies he defeated at the cross. Ps 18:50 says it is about David AND HIS OFFSPRING.

Ten more things about the Psalms 


FIRST KINGS.  David’s son Solomon becomes king

The prayer for wisdom
The episode of the two women who each claimed the same baby
The expansion of the territory of Israel
The building of the temple and its consecration.WRITINGS BY SOLOMON

PROVERBS. 800 wise sayings, attributed to Solomon, telling us “how to live a fulfilling life.”

MORE: The author identifies himself in verse 1. 

In Proverbs 8:22+, Wisdom is spoken of as if it were a person. This reminded early Christians of Jesus, who was a part of God before creation. It helped them grasp that saying “Jesus is God” is not denying that “there is one God.”

ECCLESIASTES is from the Greek word that means a person who speaks at an “ecclesia,” which is “a gathering of people.” Ecclesia is translated as church, so “ecclesiastes” can be translated into English as “preacher;” that’s also the meaning of the Hebrew title. The preacher identifies himself as Solomon. He writes about the lack of fulfillment in a life without God.

MORE: The author identified in verse 1

Solomon tells how he did not find fulfillment in his life and accomplishments.

SONG OF SOLOMON in some Bibles is called SONG OF SONGS; both of these are based on its first verse, “The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s.” It is a love poem. MORE: The Author is identified in verse one:

This book portrays the yearning of love between a man and a woman. Early Christian teachers took it as an allegory of the love between Christ and His people, the Church. But taking it at face value, it means that God affirms sexual love between a man and a woman.


 After Solomon the people of Israel divide into two competing kingdoms. The southern kingdom is called Judah, and is ruled by descendants of David. The northern kingdom is called Israel. FIRST KINGS traces the events from 931 BC to 852. This same time period is written about in SECOND CHRONICLES. 

In these books you see the nations of that time inter-acting in ways still familiar to us today: making and breaking alliances, demanding and paying tribute, peaceful and violent successions of power. The authors evaluate each king as to whether he promoted worship of the God of Moses or promoted other gods. 

ARTIFACT: An Egyptian stone dating from 925 BC boasts of successful warfare by a Pharoah (Pharoah Sheshonk, also spelled Shishak) against the King of Judah, the same battle mentioned in the Bible at First Kings 14:25-26.:  In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem. He carried off the treasures of the temple of the LORD and the treasures of the royal palace. He took everything, including all the gold shields Solomon had made.

Most military conflict during first kings was against the country to the north, Aram (now called Syria).  In order to avoid going through Aram, a king of Israel named Ahab made a direct treaty with the cities of Tyre and Sidon, on the Mediterranean coast (in Phoenicia, the area now called Lebanon). The treaty included marriage between Ahab and Jezebel, the daughter of the king of Sidon. She brought the worship of the Phoenician god Baal into Israel, which was  denounced by the prophet Elijah (around 860 BC).

ELIJAH. In order to show the power of the God of Israel, Elijah commanded that a sacrifice be drenched with water and then prayed for God to set it on fire. When God did so, the worshippers of Baal were discredited. Elijah’s many miracles made such an impression that the last prophet of the Old Testament, Malachi, wrote: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.” Mal 4:5 ESV. Jesus identified John the Baptist as the one prophesied there. Elijah is also the one who appeared along with Moses to speak with Jesus when he was transfigured: There He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.  Moses and Elijah appeared before them, talking with Jesus.  Matt 17:2-3 NIV

ELISHA. He took over from Elijah, and was also noted for many miracles. One example was healing a commander in the Syrian army from leprosy by telling him to wash in the Jordan River. 

SECOND KINGS. This book tells about the rest of the kings, up to the time that the northern kingdom is ended by the Assyrian Empire in 722 BC and the southern kingdom is ended by the Babylonian Empire in 586 BC. SECOND CHRONICLES retells the history of the kings from Solomon to the deportation to Babylon, so Elisha was honored as a prophet of God not only in Israel but also in Syria.

ARTIFACT: A stone (Moabite stone or Mesha stele) from today’s Jordan celebrates how King Mesha of Moab around 840 stopped paying tribute to Israel. (Moab is the to east of the Dead Sea, in present-day Jordan). The inscription mentions the word Israel, the name of the dynasty (Omri) and that their God is called Yahweh.   Second Kings 3 tells how Jehoram (Joram) king of Israel joined with Jehoshaphat king of Judah to campaign against Moab. The prophet Elisha told the kings that God would supply the water they needed and that they would win the battle. 

God had promised that the king who would live forever (the Messiah) would come from the line of David, but there were times when that line was in danger of being broken. The way that God overcame these difficulties and kept the line intact shows God’s faithfulness to His promise. Here is an example of a major rift that God had to overcome.

Since the kingdoms of Israel and Judah had worked together to fight Moab, Ahab gave his and Jezebel’s daughter, Athaliah, in marriage to Jehoram, the next in line to be king of Judah. When Jehoram died, his son Ahaziah under the domination of his mother Athaliah brought the worship of Baal into Judah. After one year, Ahaziah was killed in battle, Athaliah executed the heirs (her children) and ruled Judah for six years. But one of the children, Joash, was hidden by his sister. When he came of age he was anointed king, and Athaliah was arrested and executed.

Joash was one of the few kings of Judah who was commended for his commitment to Yahweh. 


HOSEA, A PROPHET OF ISRAEL. Writing around 760 BC. Hosea criticized the Israelites for turning to idols instead of worshipping God faithfully, but said that God would not give up on them. MORE: God told Hosea to marry an unfaithful woman as a parallel to God loving His people even though they were unfaithful to Him. In the New Testament, Paul applies chapter 1 verse 10 to the salvation of non-Jews: “In the place where it was said you are not my children, you shall be called children of the living God.” (quoted in Romans 9:26)

The northern kingdom is ended by Assyria in 722 BC

More about Assyria

JOEL, around 830 BC. After a locust plague in Judah, Joel urged the people to repent of their sinfulness, and promised a glorious future. MORE: The plague anticipated a future judgement, called “the day of the LORD,” when Israel’s enemies will be defeated, and God would then “pour out His Spirit on all flesh” (Joel 2:28). At Pentecost in Acts 2:17, Peter said that the Spirit’s descent then fulfilled these words of Joel: “This is what was spoken of by the prophet Joel: “and in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh…and everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

MORE: The plague anticipated a future judgement, called “the day of the LORD,” when Israel’s enemies will be defeated, and God would then “pour out His Spirit on all flesh” (Joel 2:28). At Pentecost in Acts 2:17, Peter said that the Spirit’s descent then fulfilled these words of Jonah. and then that “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”(Joel 2:32)

AMOS,A PROPHET OF JUDAH. around 750 BC. Amos warned the rich leaders of Judah to  consider the poor rather than their own selfish desires. MORE: Oppressing the poor is sin and breaks the covenant. But after punishing them by letting the Babylonians take them into exile, God will restore a faithful remnant under the restored leadership of a descendant of David, and Gentiles also will be included. (Amos 9:11 quoted in Acts 15:16). MORE: Oppressing the poor is sin and breaks the covenant. But after punishing them by letting the Babylonians take them into exile, God will restore a faithful remnant under the restored leadership of a descendant of David, and Gentiles also will be included. (Amos 9:11 quoted in Acts 15:16).

Chapter 16 tells of King Ahaz, who brought pagan practices into Israel under pressure from the Assyrians. Chapters 18 to 20 tell of King Hezekiah, who re-established the true worship of Yahweh, re-instituted the Passover, and broke up the bronze serpent that Moses had constructed in the wilderness, because it was being worshipped as an idol. During his reign, the Assyrians ended the northern kingdom, Israel, but failed to conquer Judah.

MICAH, A PROPHET OF JUDAH. Starting around 740 BC, he served under 3 kings, up to Hezekiah. He said God will judge people for their sins, but will also forgive and give a great future. God requires justice and mercy, and a humble following of God. The prophecy that the future savior would be born in Bethlehem is found in this book.  MORE: When Jesus was born, the wise men came to King Herod to ask where to find him, (Matthew 2), so Herod asked the Jewish leaders, who knew the answer was in Micah chapter 5.

NAHUM, A PROPHET OF JUDAH, around 650 BC, warned that God will destroy the people of Nineveh (the capital of the Assyrian empire) because of their cruelty in war. (They were destroyed by the Babylonians in 612 BC.) , . MORE: He prophesied that though the nation of Israel will be destroyed, a righteous remnant will remain.

ISAIAH, A PROPHET OF JUDAH. This scroll includes historical events, including the vision of angels singing “Holy Holy Holy” when Isaiah was called to be a prophet around 740 BC, and his serving as a consultant to four kings, such as when Isaiah told king Hezekiah not to fear when the Assyrians had surrounded Jerusalem around 701 BC (chapter 39). It criticizes the sins of God’s people, but also assures them that “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow.” There are warnings about exile, and comfort for God’s people, including the promise of glorious future in new heavens and a new earth. A PROPHET OF JUDAH. MORE: The early Christians marveled at how chapter 53, about someone called “God’s servant,” mirrored the work carried ot by Christ on the cross.

SECOND KINGS Chapter 21 tells about Manasseh (696-642), considered one of the most evil kings, For he rebuilt the high places that his father Hezekiah had destroyed, and he raised up altars for Baal. He made an Asherah pole, as King Ahab of Israel had done, and he worshiped and served all the host of heaven.  …he built altars to all the host of heaven.  He sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced sorcery and divination, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did great evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him to anger.


2 Kings Chapter 22 tells that Manasseh was followed by King Josiah (640-609), who was a godly king and brought about many reforms, forbidding the practices that had been fostered by Manasseh. He repaired the temple, and in so doing found the Torah scrolls. He called the people together ”and in their hearing he read all the words of the Book of the Covenant that had been found in the house of the LORD.”So the king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the LORD to follow the LORD and to keep His commandments, decrees, and statutes with all his heart and all his soul, and to carry out the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people entered into the covenant.

ZEPHANIAH, A PROPHET OF JUDAH. Starting around 640, he backed up the reforms of Josiah. He warned that the coming day of the Lord will bring judgment on many, but a remnant will survive to bless the world.  A PROPHET OF JUDAH. MORE: He spoke of coming “Day of the Lord,” which is used throughout the Bible to refer both to coming catastrophes and to the end of the world.

HABAKKUK, A PROPHET OF JUDAH. In the years just before 612 when Babylon defeated Assyria, he said that Babylon would defeat Judah as well (which they did in 586). He wonders why God would use a sinful nation for His divine purposes, and was told that God judges all nations. He exhorted God’s people to live by faith. MORE: The verse “The just shall live by faith (Hab 2:4),” is quoted 3 times in the New Testament, and provided the breakthrough for Martin Luther to realize that salvation was by grace alone through faith alone.

JEREMIAH, A PROPHET OF JUDAH. During the 500’s; he was present when Judah was conquered and Jerusalem destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC. He was persecuted by the rulers and people who did not accept his message that they should accept being ruled by the Babylonian empire. He prophesied a “new covenant.”MORE: After Babylon ended the kingdom of Judah, Jeremiah was not taken into exile, but remained in Judah, counseling those who were left in charge there. Though he warned the rebellious leaders not to go to Egypt, they took Jeremiah to Egypt, where he died. 

The Babylonian empire took many Jews from the southern kingdom to Babylon, in 586 BC (some, like Daniel, were taken a few years earlier) 

More about the Babylonian Empire

LAMENTATIONS, written by Jeremiah as a lament for the Jews taken to Babylon.  MORE: But he also expressed hope and comfort: ”Yet I call this to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. (Lam 3:21-24)”

BOOKS WRITTEN BY JEWS LIVING IN BABYLON DURING THE 500’S. During this time period, the people of Israel began to be called “Jews,” that is, people from Judah.

OBADIAH, LIVING IN BABYLON. He wrote soon after the exile of 586 BC, warning that judgment will befall a nearby country called Edom, who had helped Assyria to capture Israelites.  MORE: The Edomites were descendants of Jacob’s twin, Esau, and from them came King Herod who ruled when Jesus was born. 

EZEKIEL describes the visions he had while living in Babylon, declaring words of hope to the exiles. MORE: In chapter 34, he criticized the Jewish leaders, calling them shepherds who were failing the needs of the sheep. So God said, “I will seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered … and I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David … he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them (David here means the coming king from David’s line, the messiah). Ezekiel 34:12, 23, 24 ESV. Note that Jesus called himself The Good Shepherd in John 10:11.

DANIEL, LIVING IN BABYLON. He describes the visions he had while living in Babylon. He was protected when thrown into a den of lions. He tells of the 3 Jewish men who were not injured when thrown into a furnace because they did not worship an idol. MORE: Daniel has a vision of heaven that introduces the term “son of man,” which Jesus applied to himself: Daniel 7:13-14

In 538 Persia defeats the Babylonians and King Cyrus allows some Jews to return to Jerusalem, who began to rebuild the city walls.

More about Persia

HAGGAI, IN JERUSALEM. Soon after the return, he reminded the people to give God their highest priority by rebuilding the temple. MORE:He rebuked them for living in fine houses while the temple lay in ruins. He called them to repent and renew the covenant. They completed the task in 515 BC.

ZECHARIAH, Zechariah. Around the 520’s. Like Haggai, he urged the people to keep rebuilding the temple, and it was completed in 515.  MORE: He was concerned about justice needed for widows, orphans, and foreigners. He recorded visions of a glorious future, including “Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem. Your king is coming to you, righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted upon a donkey.” (Zechariah 9:9. ESV). The disciples remembered this on the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey.

ESTHER.  Around 480 a Jewish girl named Esther became queen of Persia, and foiled a plot to have the Jewish people killed.   MORE: It required an act of courage to approach the king without being bidden to beseech him to end to plot, but her cousin urged her to do what as required of her, saying “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silence at this time … you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” … her reply was “I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:14-16) The king stopped the plot. Since then Jews have celebrated this event as the festival of Purim.

EZRA. REBUILDING JERUSALEM. This book says that around 458 BC the Jewish priest Ezra, who was living in Babylon which was under the control of Persia, led another group to return to Jerusalem. MORE: The people had fallen into sin, but Ezra urged them to spiritual revival and to more complete following of the Old Testament laws to keep the sabbath and not to intermarry with non-Jews. 

READ ABOUT NEHEMIAH, REBUILDING TEMPLE. He was a Jew who was a trusted official under the king of Persia. Around 445 the king sent him to Jerusalem to oversee the rebuilding of the walls. MORE: despite opposition, the walls were rebuilt. He told Ezra to bring the Books of Moses and read it aloud to the people, who then renewed the observation of God’s commanded festivals. He promoted God’s people to have courage, saying “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10 ESV)

MALACHI. THE LAST PROPHET. Around 430, around the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, and after Esther was queen of Persia, he wrote to stir the people out of their complacency about their religious life by preaching about the coming “day of the Lord” that is, judgement day., MORE: His name means “my messenger” and he wrote about another soon to come: “Behold, I send my messenger and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom youy delight, he is coming.”(Malachi 3:1). (This was fulfilled in John the Baptist and Jesus.) 


After Malachi was written, the Jews noticed that God was no longer giving them inspired writings.  The books written up to that date then were together called the “Hebrew Scriptures,” because they were written in Hebrew.

Four hundred years later, Jesus arrived, and those who believed in Jesus accepted the value and God-inspired nature of the Hebrew Scriptures, later calling it the “Old Testament.”Around AD 90 or 100, Jewish scholars made a formal list of those books that had always been regarded as their Hebrew Bible, and the Christians have accepted this list “as is.”


These years created the situation that was ideal for Jesus to appear, as Paul writes in Galatians 4:4 “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, …”

1. Greek becomes a common language, after Alexander conquers the area in 332 BC. Therefore the New Testament writings were in Greek so they could be read by any educated person from Spain to India.
2. Jews living in Egypt translate OT from Hebrew to Greek (Septuagint), selecting a Greek equivalent for each Hebrew word; NT draws on those terms.
3. Jews revolt against Greeks (150 BC) and have 90 years as an independent country called the “Hasmonean Dynasty.”

more about the Greek empires

4. Synagogue develops, and is still the pattern for our worship services. Details in footnote 4
5.Romans take over Israel in 63 BC and set up Herod as king.
a. Thus there is a single empire with no travel restrictions. b. they introduce crucifixion, so the prophecy about the Messiah being pierced can be fulfilled. 
6. Jewish writings appear expressing the rising expectation of a Messiah, though whom God will keep his covenant and save his people.  Examples in footnote 5. 

7. New distinct groups arise within Jewish society: 
a.the Pharisees (“strict ones” who insisted on the “oral law”);  
b.the Sadducees (Jewish upper class who rejected the oral law and collaborated with the government); the assembly of leading Pharisees and Sadducees to adjudicate local issues under the authority of the Roman government was called the “Sanhedrin.”
c.the Zealots, who assassinated Roman soldiers & advocated rebellion.
d.Archeologists have also found a group not mentioned in the Bible called the Essenes, who left Jerusalem when the Hasmoneans took over, calling themselves “sons of righteousness.” They left writings behind as scrolls in jars that were discovered in 1949 near the Dead Sea; these scrolls prove that the Old Testament was written before Christ.
8. Some literature produced during this time by Jewish authors writing in Greek was collected along with the Septuagint, though the Jews did not give it equal authority with the Hebrew writings, because the Jews noted that God was no longer sending them prophets. Together, these books are called the “Apocrypha,” which means hidden, because they were scattered in between the Hebrew Old Testament books.

These are the ones included in the Catholic Bible:
Maccabees 1 & 2. The rebellion against the Greeks, formation of the Hasmonean dynasty.
Judith. Story of a pious widow who beheads an Assyrian general.

Tobit. The father of a pious family. The son, Tobias, drives out a demon from his fiancé.
Wisdom of Solomon. Encourages seeking of wisdom, encouraging to Jews to keep their faith.
Ecclesiasticus, written by Jesus Sirach. The value of wisdom, and many proverbs.
Baruch. (name of Jeremiah’s servant). Words of encouragement for those in exile.
Additions to Esther,  adds detail including royal edicts and prayers said by Esther.

Additions to Daniel: song of the 3 men in the fiery furnace, and Daniel destroys a dragon.

The Eastern Orthodox Bible has those above, plus adds:

Psalm 151. A song written by David about his encounter with the giant Goliath.

1 Ezra. A Guard of the King of Persia reminds him of the obligation to rebuild the temple.

3 Maccabees. Sufferings of the Jews in Egypt under the Greek rulers.

Epistle of Jeremiah. Multiple condemnations of idolatry.

Why is the apocrypha not included in all Bibles?

The early Christians spoke Greek and used the Septuagint, including the apocrypha, as their Bible, while the Jews regarded only the ancient books written in Hebrew as their Bible. Some Christians agreed with the Jews, while others regarded the apocrypha as part of the Bible. For example, Jerome, who translated the Bible into Latin in the 400’s, did not include the apocrypha, but others continued to value it. At the Council of Trent in the 1500’s the catholic church declared that the apocrypha should be regarded as part of authoritative scripture, while the protestants regarded only the ancient Hebrew texts as scripture, while not forbidding the reading of the apocrypha for its historical and devotional value. The Lutheran study bible reprints Luther’s short descriptions of each book of the apocrypha.

In 63 BC the Romans defeated the Jewish Hasmonean dynasty, and in 40 BC made Herod the ruler of the Jew. In 27 BC the Romans changed from a Republic into an Empire, with Caesar August proclaiming himself the first emperor. The time was now ready for the coming of Jesus. More about the Roman Empire.






Adapted from theCONCORDIA SELF-STUDY BIBLE page 1674 and WHO’S WHO IN THE BIBLE (Reader’s Digest). (Experts differ as to the exact year of some of these events)

33 AD. Jesus died, rose, and ascended (Acts 1), and disciples received power on Pentecost, where Peter explained the gospel. (Acts 2)
33 Peter & John heal a cripple (Acts 3); Peter testifies before Jewish leaders (Acts 4)
33 The apostles delivered from prison by an angel (Acts 5)
34 The apostles appoint seven, including Stephen, to oversee distribution of food. (Acts 6)

34 Stephen defends the faith, and Saul supervises as people stone Stephen to death (Acts 7)

35 Peter & John preach in Samaria, Philip preaches to official from Ethiopia (Acts 8)
35 Saul sees vision and believes in Jesus (Acts 9), spends time alone in Arabia (Galatians 1:17)

35 Peter heals a paralyzed man and raises a woman from the dead. (Acts 9)
38 Paul visits James and other disciples in Jerusalem. (Galatians 1:18-19)
40? Peter preaches gospel to Roman officer Cornelius (Acts 10)
43 Persecution forces Christians out of Jerusalem (leaders stay in Jerusalem) (Acts 11:19)
43 Barnabas brings Paul to Antioch (Acts 11:25). 
43? Jesus’ disciple James is killed by Herod. (Acts 12:2). Peter is imprisoned but angel frees him.
44 King Herod dies (Acts 12:23)
46 Paul’s first missionary journey starts (Acts 13)
To follow his route as you read Acts 13 and following,
Click here to see places Paul went to

48 Possible date for Paul writing letter to the Galatians from Syria

Click here to see places that Paul wrote to

ABOUT GALATIANS, written to believers in the area by that name in central Turkey. Paul writes a detailed explanation of grace alone as the way to be saved. MORE: To refute those who were teaching that we must do sufficient good works to be saved, he replies in Gal 2:16  

49 Paul attends conference at Jerusalem along with Peter and Jesus’ brother James that says non-Jews do not need to obey Jewish customs. Gal 2, Acts 15.

50 James, the brother of Jesus and leader of church in Jerusalem, writes his book.

ABOUT JAMES. Jesus’ brother gives practical advice for Christian living. MORE: He stresses that true faith will show itself in action by refeering to the example of Abraham in James 2:22-23.

50 Matthew wrote his gospel. 

ABOUT GOSPEL OF MATTHEW: He is sensitive to his Jewish-background readers, so he uses the phrase “kingdom of Heaven,” which is a more reverent expression to Jewish sensibilities than Luke’s phrase “Kingdom of God.”   He includes the wise men bringing gifts to Jesus, underlining that Christ is not for Jews only. Chapters 5 through 7 are the “sermon on the mount,” which includes the Lord’s prayer. Both Matthew and Luke include many parables and teachings. He records Jesus’ directive and assurance to all believers in Matt 28:18-20

50+ Matthew is said to have preached in Ethiopia and Persia.

50+ Mark wrote his gospel based on information gained while being Peter’s translator.

ABOUT GOSPEL OF MARK: He starts with John the Baptist, and as the shortest of the gospels writes of Christ’s actions — healings and casting out demons— more than parables and sermons. He writes of the three times Jesus foretold his death and resurrection, and how the disciples still were caught by surprise. His directive to us all is in Mark 16:15-16

For a verse by verse tour though Mark, see

50 Paul’s second missionary journey starts (Acts 15 to 18). 
51 Paul writes to the Thessalonians (1 & 2) from Corinth. Possible alternate date for Galatians.

ABOUT THESSALONIANS 1 AND 2, written to believers in Thessalonica, a city in northeast Greece. Paul assures us of going to be with God at the end of the world. MORE: He comforts those fearing death in 1 Thess 4:11-14

53 Paul’s third missionary journey starts (Acts 18 to 21)

55 Paul writes to the Corinthians (1 & 2)

ABOUT CORINTHIANS 1 & 2, written to the city of Corinth in the narrow part of Greece. Paul speaks to problems they are experiencing in areas of worship, divisions, and immorality. MORE: He writes about our resurrected bodies in 1 Cor 15:51-56. He describes love in chapter 13.

57 Paul is arrested in Jerusalem, Acts 21-22.
57-59 Paul is in prison in Caesarea (Acts 23-26), from there writes Romans.

ABOUT ROMANS, written to believers in Rome.  Paul writes a complete survey of Christian teaching, including why we need a savior and how Jesus has met that need. In the second half, he shows the results for daily living. MORE: He explains that non-Jews are grafted in to the Old Testament people of God, even though some descendants of Abraham have broken themselves off, by the illustration in Romans 11:17-18.

click here to see Paul’s trip to Rome

59 Paul imprisoned in Rome (Acts 28); Book of Acts ends here.
60 from Roman prison, Paul writes Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, Philippians

ABOUT EPHESIANS, written to believers in Ephesus, a city along the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. Paul writes about the how to play your part in the life of the church. MORE: He portrays the ideal goal of each local congregation in Eph 4:15-16

ABOUT COLOSSIANS, written to believers in the city of Colossae in eastern Turkey. How to keep Christ as the center and deep away from false teachings. MORE: He writes a great summary of the person and work of Jesus Christ, initiated by God the Father, in Col 1:13-22.

ABOUT PHILIPPIANS, written to believers in the city of Philippi in northeastern Greece. Paul, writing from prison, tells how we can live in joy despite persecutions. MORE: The promise of comfort through prayer is beautifully stated in Phil 4:4-7.

ABOUT PHILEMON. Philemon owned a slave who escaped. The slave became a Christian and was with Paul in prison. Paul sends the
slave back to his owner, Philemon, with this letter asking that he be treated kindly.

62 Death of James, the brother of Jesus
62 Paul released from prison; Paul starts fourth missionary journey (Titus 1:5)
63 Paul writes 1 Timothy and Titus from Philippi

ABOUT TIMOTHY 1 & 2. Paul gives practical advice to Timothy as a young leader in the church.MORE: Though Timothy had accompanied Paul on his travels, some in Ephesus must have thought he was too young to be their pastor, for Paul had to encourage him to serve faithfully despite their criticisms. Paul challenges us by stating the desired end-result of Christian teaching in 1 Tim 1:5.

ABOUT TITUS. Paul tells Titus how to keep the people of Crete focused on Christ and his grace despite difficulties. MORE: Titus had travelled with Paul. Paul summarizes the blessing of Christ’s appearance on earth and its practical implication for living in Titus 2:11-14.

64+ Luke wrote Luke and Acts, including his first-hand experiences traveling with Paul, but ending Acts before the death of Paul. 

ABOUT GOSPEL OF LUKE: He is sensitive to his non-Jewish readers, so he takes time to explain Jewish customs that they would not be likely to know. He includes the angels appearing to the shepherds at the time of Jesus’ birth. Like Matthew, he includes a sermon and the Lord’s prayer. He is noteworthy for mentioning the important role played by women, including them as the first witnesses of the resurrection. He stresses the activity of the Holy Spirit, and continues that emphasis throughout the Book of Acts. He shows the continuity with the Old Testament by quoting the words of Jesus to his disciples after the resurrection in Luke 24:44-47 

67 or before? Peter writes his 2 letters
ABOUT PETER 1 & 2, written to believers in Turkey of both Jewish and non-Jewish background. Peter gives comfort to people who are being persecuted. MORE: He tells them to rejoice because as sharers in Christ’s suffering, they will also share in His glory, and for those who suffer to place themselves into God’s hands, as Christ did. Thinking about the end of the world should not lead to despair, but to renewed action: 2 Peter 3:11-13.

68 Paul is imprisoned in Rome, writes 2 Timothy, and is executed in Rome.
68? Peter is killed in Rome, asking to be crucified upside down, saying he was not worthy to be crucified as Christ was.

68 or later: Jesus’ brother Jude (short for Judas) writes the book of Jude.

68 ABOUT JUDE. Another brother of Jesus warns about false teachings. MORE: Jude encourages those who are facing dissension and rejection in Jude 20-23.

68? Book of Hebrews, possibly written by Barnabas or Apollos.

ABOUT HEBREWS. Many Jewish people had accepted Christ as savior, but were having second thoughts due to persecution. the author
makes extensive quotes from the Old Testament to assure these Jewish believers that they are on the right track. There is
extensive explanation of Jesus’ death on the cross as a sacrifice for sin. MORE: We are encouraged to look to Jesus when we go through troubles in Hebrews 12:1-3.

68? Thomas (Doubting Thomas) said to preach in Syria and India, Andrew in Greece.

70 Before Romans destroy Jerusalem, Christians escape to Pella in today’s Jordan.
85? The disciple John writes the Gospel of John and 3 letters.
ABOUT GOSPEL OF JOHN. John covered the early years of Jesus’ ministry and his first miracles. He is noteworthy for clear teaching about Christ being present at creation (John 1:1, ‘in the beginning was the word – referring to Christ) and the only one who shows us God the Father (John 1:18). He makes the connection to Moses’ prediction of another prophet that should be followed (Deut 18:18) but presents Jesus as greater than Moses (John 1:17)  He is noteworthy for Jesus eight “I am” statements (I am the bread of life; I am the light of the world, etc.)  His statement about the purpose of writing his gospel can stand for the purpose of the entire Bible: John 20:30 

ABOUT LETTERS OF JOHN (1, 2 and 3). The emphasis is on God’s love, and “he who has the Son of God has eternal life.” MORE: John emphasizes that he knew Jesus personally (opening verses, “that which we have seen, we proclaim to you.” He writes a message of hope in the 1 John 2:1-2


95 or before: Book of Revelation written by John the disciple or by a “John the Presbyter (means elder).”

BOOK OF REVELATION. MORE: This book is the record of a vision seen by John. He sees Christ as exalted and glorious. He records messages to be sent to seven churches in Turkey. Chapter 4 records worship of God the Father, and Chapter 5 of God the Son, pictured as a lamb. Chapters 6 to 19 describe the playing out of seven catastrophes, using pictorial and symbolic language similr to that used by Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zechariah. This is called “apocalyptic style; that word comes from Greek and means “taking the cover off.” It is the Greek name for this book. The catastrophes culminate with Jesus riding in on a white horse, bearing the “rod of iron” mentioned in Psalm 2. Chapter 20 mentions a thousand year, which for most of church history has been taken to mean the entire span from the cross until judgment day, though the idea of a literal thousand years was posited in 1830 and can still be found today in some churches. Psalm 16:10 expressed the faith that would not leave his people in the realm of the dead (Hebrew Sheol, Greek Hades), and sure enough the believers are released and move on to eternal life with God in Revelation 20:11 to 21:4.


Already by the end of the first century, Christian writers were quoting from most of the books in the New Testament, in a way that shows they regarded them as authoritative. Lists of books in the first few centuries shows that the gospels and the letters (epistles) of Paul were already accepted by Christians throughout the Roman Empire. There were just a few books, such as 2nd and 3rd John, that were accepted by some and not others. The date for the list that we still use today, called the “canon,” which means an authoritative list, is the year 367.

See how the New Testament makes use of the Old Testament

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1 Names of the Twelve sons of Jacob (also called Israel). Their descendants were called the tribes of Israel. The first ten in this list are also names of the areas in Israel after they returned from Egypt.

Reuben, Simeon, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin, Levi, Joseph.

The descendants of Levi were priests, and could live throughout the area. The other two tribes were named for the sons of Joseph: Ephraem and Manasseh.

2 Ten Commandments. There are two ways to number the Ten Commandments.  Both ways start with the command to have no other gods (Exodus 20:3) as the first commandment. The Eastern Orthodox churches and the Reformed churches (that emerged from the work of Calvin) use the phrase about not having graven images (Exodus 20:4) as the second commandment, and go on to the one about not taking God’s name in vain (Exodus 20:7) as the third. The Lutherans and Catholics go directly to the one about not taking God’s name in vain as number two, and then reach a total of ten by dividing the commandment about coveting (Exodus 20:17) into two commandments, numbered nine and ten. More about different churches.

3 There are two ways to number the Psalms. To find out which your Bible uses, look up Psalm 23. If the topic is about the Lord being our shepherd, then your Bible uses system A. If it is about the earth belonging to the Lord, your Bible uses system B, and therefore your Psalm about the Lord as our shephered will be found as Psalm 22.

Systems A and B are the same for Psalms 1 through 8 and for the last three Psalms, 148, 149, and 150. For all the rest of the Psalms, system B is one number lower than system B. That is because system B combines Psalm 9 and 10 from system A into one Psalm, and calls it Psalm 9.

The numbering system on this website uses system A. System A is used in Hebrew Bibles and Protestant Bibles, while system B is generally used in Roman Catholic Bibles.

4 Here are the elements in the synagogue service, still in use today:

a. reading from scriptures, followed by an explanation that developed into the sermon. Jesus did this in Luke 4.

b. Singing of psalms

c. A time of prayer. It was called the “18 benedictions,” which included praises and petitions. One of them quotes the angel’s song in Isaiah 6: “with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven, we praise your name singing Holy Holy Holy, Lord God of hosts, heaven and earth are filled. with your glory.

d. a concluding blessing, using the words that God told Moses’ brother Aaron to say to the assembled people in Numbers 6:24-26.”The LORD bless you and keep you (and continuing).

e. The Hebrew word for the assembly of God’s people was translated by the Jewish scholars who created the Septuagint by the Greek word “ekklesia,” which means “called-out-ones,” and which the Jesus believers continued to use to apply to themselves, thus proclaiming their continuity with God’s chosen people. This word is translated into English as “church.” More info on worship service background at

5 The books with messianic expectation. These are called “pseudopigrapha,” which means falsely-ascribed-writings, because they are named after ancient Biblical figures. Examples: 

a.Psalms of Solomon, from 100 BC. This scroll beseeches God to send the messianic Son of David to defeat Israel’s enemies and bring a just reign, mentioning that people will rebel, killing God’s servant, but only physically, and that his sacrificial death ill bring judgement on evil. He will be free from sin and have power from the Holy Spirit.  

b.Book of First Enoch. This book borrow imagery from Daniel 7 about the Messiah, saying that both the “ancient of days” and the “son of man” will have thrones, showing that some Jews did expect the Messiah to be divine. Note that Jesus often called himself the “son of man.” The Messiah will destroy evil, raise the dead, preside over judgement day, providing eternal life.

7.About apocrypha.

These are the verses that show that the Jews realized that God was not currently sending them prophets.

  • “So they tore down the altar, and stored the stones in a convenient place on the temple hill until there should come a prophet to tell what to do with them.” (1 Maccabees 4:45b-46).
  • “Thus there was great distress in Israel, such as had not been since the time that prophets ceased to appear among them.” (1 Maccabees 9:27).
  • “And the Jews and their priests decided that Simon should be their leader and high priest for ever, until a trustworthy prophet should arise…” (1 Maccabees 14:41).