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The Books of the Old Testament

By Richard Gunther


GENESIS: Greek, meaning 'generation' or 'creation'. The Hebrew title is Bereshith, which means 'in beginning', which shows that this book is the book of all beginnings.

EXODUS: Greek, meaning 'The way out' or 'going out'. The Hebrew title is Velleh Shemot which means 'these are the names’. It is the book of redemption: Ex. 6:6, 15:13, hence the work

of redemption is called "exodus" in Luke 9:31. (decease = exodus).


LEVITICUS: Latin for 'pertaining to Levi'. The Hebrew title is Vayyika, from the first words "And he called". The book relates to worship, for only those whom God CALLS does he seek to worship Him, John 4:23, Ps.65:4. All the types in Lev. relate to worship, while all the types in Ex. relate to redemption.


NUMBERS: So named because the book seems to relate to the numbering of the people though this is only a small part of the book (ch 1-3 and 26.) The Hebrew title is Bemidba which means 'in the wilderness', because it records what took place there.


DEUTERONOMY: Greek for 'second law' (17:18) The Hebrew title is Haddebarim, which means 'the words'. The history of the book of Deut. took place in the 11th month of the 40 year.


JOSHUA: Greek for 'Jesus'. The Hebrew title is Jehoshua, which means 'Jehovah our Saviour'. The great subject is the Land to be inherited, while all the preceding books are about the People.


JUDGES: The Greek title is Kritai. The Hebrew title is Shophetim, which means 'Rulers’ from the verb 'to put right', and then 'to rule'. The book records the history of 13 judges, 12 called of God and one usurper. The book of Joshua is about the inheritance possessed, while the book of Judges is about the inheritance despised, and brings out the faithlessness of the people, and the faithfulness of Jehovah.


RUTH: The Hebrew title means 'Beauty'. The book shows the link in Christ's genealogy between David and Christ.


1 AND 2 SAMUEL: Really one book, or scroll. The Hebrew title is Shemuel, which means 'asked of God', or 'God heard'. The books of Samuel and Kings view the history of Israel exoterically, while in Chronicles views the history esoterically (from the heavenly, or Divine) view.


1 AND 2 KINGS: One book, or scroll, giving the history of Israel.


1 AND 2 CHRONICLES: One book, or scroll. The Hebrew title is Dibrei Hayyamum, which means 'words of the days'. The English title comes from the Latin 'Chronicum'. Chronicles details

the conclusion to the O.T. kingdom, and from that point the long wait for the Messiah begins.

Chronicles deals with Judah, and gives the histories of both houses from the Divine view

giving reasons for the judgments and mercies.


EZRA AND NEHEMIAH: in the Hebrew these are one book. Ezra is more about the Temple

while Nehemiah is more about the Wall and City.


ESTHER: Her name means Star, although it could also mean 'to hide, because her nationality

was hidden (1:10)


JOB: the object of this book is to show "the end of the Lord" James 5:11, i.e. the end to which

Job was brought: 40:4,5, 42:5,6. Job confessed his human impotence in attaining

righteousness, and thankfully casting himself on Divine omnipotence for his salvation.


PSALMS: There are five books in the Hebrew: Book 1: 1-41, Book 2: 42-72, Book 3: 73-8!

Book 4: 90-106, Book 5: 107-150.


PROVERBS: The Hebrew title is Mishlai. Mishlai is from 'mashal' which means 'to rule

Gen. 1:18, 3:16. Hence applied to words  which are to rule and govern life. Not a collection of

human wisdom, but of Divine rules from heaven for earth.


ECCLESIASTES: Hebrew title is Koheleth, which means Assembler, or. Convener. Wisdom

personified. Written by Solomon.


SONG OF SOLOMON: The Hebrew title is Shir Hashirim, which means Song of Songs. It means the most beautiful, or most excellent song. It is a poem which tells a story with seven characters.


ISAIAH: the name means "The Salvation of Jehovah'. The Hebrew title means “The vision of Isaiah".


JEREMIAH: The Hebrew title is Virmeyahu, which means Whom Jehovah raises up, or. Who Jehovah launches forth. It holds 51 prophecies over 40 years.


LAMENTATIONS: Five elegies about the destruction of Jerusalem.


EZEKIEL: The Hebrew title is Yehezk-el, which means El is strong, or El strengthens. Ezekiel was a priest, carried to Babylon 11 years before Jerusalem fell. He was married and his wife died in the year of the City’s siege.


DANIEL: The name means 'God my Judge'. He was a contemporary of Ezekiel and of the seed royal of Judah, and about 16 years old. Daniel went to Babylon, while Ezekiel was in the outer part of the great city, with the captives, in Babylonia.


HOSEA: the name means Salvation. Greek = Hoshea. Prophet to the ten tribes. He worked for about 76 years.


JOEL: The name means 'Jehovah is God". The Hebrew title is 'The Word of the Lord'. Joel was sent to guilty Judah, and he relates his words to the end of Judah.


AMOS: The name means 'Burden'. The Hebrew title is 'The words of Amos', though verse 3 shows that they were Jehovah's words. Written two years before the earthquake.


OBADIAH: The name means 'The servant of Jehovah'. The book is about the destruction of Edom.


JONAH: The name means 'a dove'. Also named in 2 Kings 14:25. He was sent to the capital of the up and rising Assyrian empire, Nineveh. He knew they were being raised up to destroy his own people Israel, so he fled, to avoid preaching repentance to them, hoping that God would judge Assyria first.


MICAH: The name means 'Who is like Jehovah'. He spoke against Samaria and Jerusalem, and foretold great blessings for Israel.


NAHUM: The name means ‘the compassionate’, or, ‘the consoler’. 1:11 could refer to Rab-Shakeh, who was sent by Sennacherib in 603 BC to slander Jehovah (2 Kings 18: 26-28.) Nahum’s book seems to be a concise reply to Sennacherib. Jonah went to Nineveh some 87 years before Nahum's words here (if in fact Nahum is addressed to Assyria in Zedekiah's time.)


HABAKKUK: The name means 'love's embrace'. He lived in evil days, and was perplexed by the silence and forbearance of a holy God in permitting evil to continue. He utters several cries, and is answered each time. Ch. 3 is a prayer based on the Psalm model, covering Israel's history from Mt. Sinai (v3) to his own time.


ZEPHANIAH: The name means ‘hidden of Jehovah' or, 'he whom Jehovah has hidden'. See the connection in 2:3. He worked before Nineveh fell, 515 BC (or 625) and foretold Assyria's fall, 2:13. He was a contemporary of Josiah king of Judah, and Jeremiah.


HAGGAI: The name means 'festive', from the Hebrew 'Hag, which means 'feast', or 'festival'. Four distinct messages: 1:1-11, 2:1-9, 2:10-19, 2:20-23. He worked inside Persia, and spoke to the royal house of David and to the priests. He foretold another Zerubabel, the Messiah, 2:23.


ZECHARIAH: The name means 'Remembered of Jehovah'. He worked, like Haggai, inside Persia, while Darius was king.


MALACHI: The name means 'My messenger'. The last word of God in the O.T. with a 400 year wait until Messiah comes. He speaks against the ceremonial formalism and hypocrisy, and corruption (1:7,8, 3:8, etc) and so did the Messiah. There are 5 messengers in this book: (1) Malachi himself, (2) the true Priest 2:7, (3) John the baptizer 3:1 (4) the Messiah Himself 3:1 - 3, (5) Elijah 4:5.

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