Written By Thomas Perez. April 18, 2010 at 6:49PM. Copyright 2010.
Most people are unaware of the true chronological order of the Old Testament. To clarify this I have placed the books in their proper perspective orders. The order is based upon historical events, dates, time frames, the Hebrew Bible, and that of the Greek Old Testament Septuagint. When one reads the Old Testament in this order, one can begin to understand the events recorded therein properly and cohesively. See the Scriptures come to life, starting with the 1st book of the Bible; ‘Genesis & then the 2nd Book ‘Job.’ However, it should be pointed out that early events described in Genesis took place before the life of Job – that is why I have included it as the first book.
Date 15th cent about 1410 B.C. The Pentateuch/Torah was written more likely during the time when Moses and the Israelites were wondering in the wilderness Num 20:1-13. So the 5 books of Moses were written about 757 years after Abraham c.2167 – 1991 B.C., Isaac c.2066 – 1886 B.C., Jacob c.2006 – 1859 B.C., Joseph c.1915 – 1805 B.C. Joseph dies in Egypt. (Note Jacob/Israel and his family move to Egypt c.1876 B.C.).
Strong indications suggest that Job lived during what is called the Patriarchal Stage: Jobs’ wealth is measured the same way Abraham and Jacobs wealth is measured (Job 1:3, 42:12, Gen 12:16, 13:2, 30:43, 32:5)The Sabeans and Chaldeans are portrayed as nomadic marauders (Job 1:15, 17), indicating an early date. Without a priesthood or sanctuary (Job 1:5). Jobs’ longevity is consistent with the life span of the Patriarchs (Job 42:16). The divine name of ‘Shaddai’ over the name Yahwah indicates a period before the Exodus (see Ex 3:14, 15). Also the name Israel or Israelites is not mentioned. Thus, indicating that Jacobs name changing had not yet occurred.
However, the date of the book indicates that it was written during the time of Solomon. Verses 19:24, 20:24, 28:2, and 40:18, implies a date during the iron age. Moreover, the description of a horse in a military context 39:19-25 may indicate the mounted warhorse which was used at the earliest around the 10th cent B.C. Also, chapter 7:17-18 with Psa 8:4, compared with 28:28 with Pro 3:7, 9:10, indicate that Job was written during Solomon’s reign, when wisdom literature flourished.
The Israelites are enslaved in Egypt c. 1730 B.C. Moses is born c.1527 B.C. Moses leads the Israelites out of bondage/Egypt c.1446 B.C. Crossing of the Red Sea c.1446 B.C. The law is given on Mt Sinai c.1445 B.C. Forty years of wondering in the wilderness c.1446 – 1406 B.C.
Forty years c.1446 – 1406 B.C. God gives the levitical laws
Forty years c.1446 – 1406 B.C. Further laws are given. Wars among gentile nations.
Forty years c.1446 – 1406 B.C. God gives the Deuteronomic laws.
Joshua succeeds Moses c.1405 B.C. The Israelite’s enter Canaan c 1398 B.C. Joshua dies c.1380 B.C.
Written after the events recorded in it (about 1050 B.C.). The ref in 18:30, to “the day of the captivity of the land” refers most likely to the Babylonian exile, (6th Cent). This suggests that a later version of the book may have been compiled during the exile or afterward. However, the ref to Jebusites living in Jerusalem “to this day”, (1:21) suggests that a portion of the book may have been written prior to David’s capture of Jerusalem around 1000 B.C. Yet, a few scriptural references suggest that some Jebusites remained in Jerusalem after David’s conquest (2 Sam 24:16), so this is not a conclusive argument.
12th or 11TH cent. The story of Ruth takes place during the time of the Judges. A period characterized by extreme spiritual and moral decay in Israel. (1380 B.C. – 1050). The beautiful love story of Ruth contrasts strongly with the pervasive depravity of the period, giving a rare glimmer of hope in an otherwise bleak era.
I Samuel & II Samuel
Jewish tradition places Samuel as the author of the 1st part of the book (chs 1 – 24), and that the prophet Nathan and the Seer Gad, were the authors of the remainder (chs 25 – II Sam). Thus, dating the books 1100 – 1010 B.C. It is obvious that at least some parts of the book was written after the death of Samuel (25:1, 28:3)., and perhaps even after the division of the monarchy (27:6). Moreover, the author used documents dating back to David’s reign or shortly after (1025 – 900 B.C.).
1100 – 420 B.C. The Various collections pertaining to the book of Psalms were written and collected between the 12th & 5th cent. It was during the time of Ezra, that the book of Psalms, as we know it today was completed. The historical books of the Bible speak of David’s considerable accomplishments as a musician, singer, and composer of poems. (I Sam 16:19-23, 18:10, II Sam 1:17-27, 23:1-7, I Chron 29:10-15). Moreover, one of David’s Psalms is recorded in II Sam 22 & reappears with only slight variation as Psa 18. Parts of the melody that David presented to Asaph in 1 Chron 16:8-36 are taken from Psa 105:1-15, Psa 96, and Psa 106:1, 47-48. Thus, the connection between David and the Psalms is well documented.
Of course David is not the only composer of the Psalms. Others include: Contemporaries of whom he put in charge of worship in Jerusalem: Ethan, Herman, and Aspah. Moses, Solomon, The sons of Korah, Deborah, (Judges 5), and Hannah (I Sam 2) all wrote the Psalms as well. However, the composers of many of the Psalms remain anonymous. Like the Pentateuch, the five books of Moses, the book of Psalms is arranged in five sections: Book 1 (Psa 1-41), Book 2 (42-71), Book 3 (73-89), Book 4 (90-106), and Book 5 (107-150). Book 1 & 2 covers the Davidic Psalms. Book 3 covers the Psalms of Asaph and the sons of Korah. Books 4 and 5 include anonymous Psalms, along with a few by David and others.
I Kings & II Kings
Chapters 1-11:41 covers the life of Solomon. Solomon’s reign is from 970 B.C. to 930 B.C. (11:41). It also covers the divided kingdoms from 12:1-22:53. The prophet Ahijah predicted the rise and conquest of Israel under the Neo-Assyrian Empire during reign of Jerboam and Pekah in 732-721 B.C., and as recorded in I Kgs 14;14-16, II Kgs 15:29. In 705-701 B.C., Assyria attacked Judah and Jerusalem (I Kgs 18:13-16), but never laid hold of it because of the prayer of a godly king named Hezekiah (II Kgs 19:5-7, 20-37, Isaiah 37:21-38). During Hezekiah’s reign, the prophet Isaiah lived during this time as recorded in II Kigs 19:5-7, 20-37, Isaiah 37:21-38.
Song of Solomon
10th cent 970 – 930 B.C. The author of the book is Solomon, the son of Davis, 3rd king of Israel. His name appears 7 times in the book (1:1, 5, 3:7, 9, 11, 8:11, 12). The fact that Solomon was known for his wisdom and poetry (see I Kgs 4:29-34) substantiates his authorship of the book.
Written probably toward the end of the life of Solomon about 930 B.C. Proof of authorship is as follows: 1. The writer says he’s “the son of David”, (1:1, 12, 16). 2. He had much wisdom (1:16; I Kgs 3:12). 3. He gathered much silver and gold (2:8; I Kgs10:11-23). 4. He acquired male and female servants in great numbers (2:7; I Kgs 9:20-23). 5. He engaged in extensive building projects (2:4-6; I Kgs 9:1-19). 6. He developed a great understanding of plants, birds, and natural phenomena (2:4-7; I Kgs 4:33). 7. He declared that there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin (7:20; I Kgs 8:46). Finally number 8. He pondered and sought out and set in order many proverbs (12:9; I Kgs 4:32).
Although, Solomon was the main writer of the book (10:1-22:16), Proverbs were written by other writers, and some of Solomon’s own writings were not added to the book until after his death. Agur wrote ch 30, and Lemuel wrote 31:1-9. Proverbs 25:1 tells us that a group of assistants to Hezekiah (who reigned about 729 – 699 B.C.) compiled and added the Proverbs contained in chs 25-29. Therefore, the book may have been completed during Hezekiah’s time. But we can not be certain because we have no information pertaining to Agur & Lamuel besides their names.
8th cent. 792 – 699 B.C. Hosea’s ministry began while Uzziah (Azariah) was king of Judah in 792 – 740 B.C., and Jeroboam II was king of Israel in 792 – 753 B.C. Hosea’s prophetic career spanned the reigns of the Judean kings Jotham 752 -736 B.C. and Ahaz 736 – 720 B.C., and ended during Hezekiah’s rule 729 – 699 B.C. Contemporaries include: Jonah, Amos, Micah, & Isaiah.
8th cent 770 – 750 B.C. Prophet of doom to Nineveh. Nineveh repented & thus was spared the wrath of God. The prophet Jonah lived in the 8th cent during the time of the Assyrian Empire. He is mentioned in only 1 other book in the Old Testament apart from the book that bears his name. II Kings 14:25 announces the fulfillment of a prophecy of the living God that came through “Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet who was from Gath Hepher”. This passage places Jonah’s ministry during the reign of king Jeroboam II (792-753 B.C.). Contemporaries include: Amos, Micah, Isaiah, & Hosea.
8th cent 763 – 750 B.C. Amos prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah king of Judah and Jeroboam king of Israel. Uzziah was king of Judah from 792-740 B.C., though about 752 he was stricken with leprosy and shared power with his son Jotham. Jeroboam II was king in Israel from 792-753 B.C. Uzziah and Jeroboam formed an alliance for much of their reigns & ruled together for a brief time. The main theme of the book is God’s passionate concern for justice. Contemporaries include: Jonah, Hosea, Micah, & Isaiah.
8th & 7th cent. 742 – 699 B.C. The book centers on the Assyrian invasions and Predicts the Babylonian captivity (4:10). His ministry was during the Reign of Jotham 752 – 736 B.C., Ahaz 736 – 720 B.C., and Hezekiah 729 – 699 B.C. Contemporaries include: Isaiah, Micah, Amos, & Hosea.
8th & 7th cent. 740 – 681 B.C. Recorded and written during the time of Hezekiah. Isaiah’s career began in c.740 B.C. & ended in c. 681 B.C. Isaiah also predicted the Fall of the Babylonian Empire 100 years before its rise. Contemporaries include: Micah, Amos, Jonah, & Hosea.
7th cent. 663 – 622 B.C. The fall of Thebes in 663 B.C. (3:8) determines the limit for the earliest date of the book. Jonah finally gets his wish, though it is a century after his life, so in reality, he never see’s the destruction of Nineveh. The fall of Nineveh, which the book of Nahum predicts, took place in 612 B.C., not long before the final destruction of the Assyrian Empire in 609 B.C. This means the book was composed sometime before 612 B.C., perhaps under the reform of Josiah in 622 B.C. Contemporaries include: Zephaniah, Jeremiah, Habakkuk, Daniel, Joel, & Ezekiel.
7th & 6th cent. 627 – 586 B.C A message to turn back to God is the central theme of the book. It was an exhortation of warning, least the God of Israel should smite the children of Judah by the hand of the would be conqueror’s the Babylonians. The Israelites did turn back to God during a revival of the land and people, though it was short-lived. Yet, this short-lived revival delayed God’s judgment of impending captivity from the Babylonians (II Chron 34: 27-28). Contemporaries include: Nahum, Jeremiah, Habakkuk, Daniel, Joel & Ezekiel.
7th & 6th cent. 626 – 586 B.C. Jeremiah predicted the rise of The Babylonian Empire and the duration of the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem (Jere 20:4-6, 25:11-12, 29:10, Mic 4:10). Thus, the prophecy was fulfilled in II Cron 36:17-21 in 605-586 B.C. Taken captive were Ezekiel as well as Daniel. The walls, city, and temple is destroyed. Yet, in this very same book, Jeremiah predicted that the Israelites would return to the Promised Land after seventy years of disciple in exile. Contemporaries include: Zephaniah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Daniel, Joel, & Ezekiel.
7th cent. 612 – 605 B.C. Habakkuk prophesied during the fall of Nineveh in 612 B.C. and the rise of Babylon as the Neo-Babylonian Empire, resulting in the defeat of Assyria and Egypt by 605 B.C. Contemporaries include: Jeremiah, Zephaniah, Nahum, Daniel, Joel, & Ezekiel.
7th & 6th cent 605 – 586 B.C. In the Old Testament Greek Septuagint translation, it begins with he words; “And it came to pass after Israel had been carried captive, and Jerusalem became desolate, that Jeremiah sat weeping, and lamented this lamentation over Jerusalem. Moreover, Jeremiah was known as a composer of laments (see II Chron 35:25). Also, cross reference with that of Lamentations 1:5. The book was written at the start of the captivity of Judah. Again contemporaries include: Daniel, Joel, Ezekiel, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, & Nahum.
7th & 6th cent. 605 – 562 B.C. During this time Nabopolassar became king of Babylon. He had eliminated the Assyrian Empire, his rival, and established what is known as the Neo-Babylonian or Chaldean Empire. After Nabopolassar’s death, Jehoiakim king of Judah became a vassal of Nebuchadnezzar, the son of Nabopolassar (see II Kgs 24:1). Nebuchadnezzar deported many Jews to Babylon. Daniel lived in the midst of all these momentous events, including that of the Persian Empire under Darius the Mede. In this book we find what is called, ‘The Seventy Weeks of Daniel’s Prophecy’(ch 9:24-27). Contemporaries include: Joel, Ezekiel, Habakkuk, Jeremiah, Zephaniah, & Nahum.
7th & 6th cent. 600 – 586 B.C. Scholars have offered various dates for the writing of this book from early pre-exile times to as late as 350 B.C. The pre-exile view is based on the following considerations: 1. The location of the book in the Hebrew canon (between Hosea & Amos) suggests an early date. 2. The allusion to the neighboring nations as Judah’s foes rather than Assyria, Babylon, or Persia. 3. The book does not mention any reigning king, which may suggest a time when ruling rested upon the shoulders of the priests and elders – as were the case during the early reign of young king Joash (II Kgs 11:4-12:21). Others believe the book is so close in theme to that of Zephaniah that it is likely that the two were contemporaries. The primary evidence for this is that both books prominently feature the concept of the impending “Day of the Lord” – compare 2:1-2 with Zeph 1:14-16. Since Zephaniah’s book date from about 627 B.C., a number of scholars assign a date of about 600 B.C. for the book of Joel. I agree with the latter date of 600 B.C. Contemporaries include: Ezekiel, Daniel, Habakkuk, Jeremiah, Zephaniah, & Nahum.
Ezekiel prophesied during 4 different periods 593-588 B.C. (1:1-25:17), 587-585 B.C.(26: 1-29:16, 30:2039:29), 573 B.C. (40:1-48:35), and 571 B.C. (29:17-30:19). A period of 22 years during his exile and surrounding the climatic fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. Contemporaries include: Joel, Daniel, Habakkuk, Jeremiah, Zephaniah, & Nahum.
6th cent. 585 – ? Some scholars date the book very early, in the mid-ninth cent B.C. following raids by the Philistines and Arabian tribes during the period of king Jehoram of Judah (II Chron 21:16, 17). This would make the book of Obadiah the earliest of the prophetic books. However, most scholars date the book immediately following the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. I tend to favor the latter, due to the books theme against the Edomites.
6th cent. 520 B.C. Haggai’s ministry lasted 4 months Little is known of the prophet Haggai except what is in the book that bears his name. Ezra mentions him briefly in association with the prophet Zechariah (see Ezra 5:1, 6:14) and the rebuilding of the temple. The name Haggai means ’festival’ appropriate for the given occasion of rebuilding the temple and restoring its worship. Contemporaries of this time is: Zerubbabel, Zechariah, Ezra, and Darius 1st of Persia.
6th & 5th cent. 520 – 486 B.C. Zechariah lived and prophesied during the period after the Babylonian captivity (597-538 B.C.). He entered his prophetic ministry 2 months after his contemporary Haggai had concluded his first oracle.
5th cent. 465 – 458 B.C. The identity of the book of Esther is unknown. However, the writer was probably Jewish and lived in Persia. Strong indications for this is the fact that the book is acquainted with Persian culture, as the extensive descriptions of the palace complex of Shushan (also called Susa) and the domestic details about the reign of king Ahasuerus indicate such. For this reason some have ascribed authorship of the book to that of Mordecai, one of its principal characters. However, the book was probably written after the reign of Ahasuerus, no earlier than 465 B.C. Furthermore, the writer writes of the rule of Ahasuerus and the deeds of Mordecai (10:2) in the past tense, indicating the book was not composed during the his life time. The events of Esther spans a decade during the reign of Ahasuerus, or Xerxes, who succeeded his father Darius as ruler of the Persian Empire in 486 B.C. Moreover, the book contains no Greek words, this rules out any dates after 300 B.C. when the Greek language became more prominent in the ancient Middle East.
5th cent. 458 – 420 B.C. Ezra, Nehemiah, and Chronicles form a connected work. Nevertheless, the books of Ezra and Nehemiah in the Hebrew Bible are together as one book. Overview: The Jewish people had been exiled to Babylon. After their captivity, they returned in 3 stages: 1 Zerubbabel led the 1st group of returning Israelites with the permission of the Persians and started to rebuild the temple in 538 B.C. under the degree of Cyrus and Darius, the Mede of Media and Persia (chs 1-6). 2. The Priest Ezra led the second group in 458 B.C. and instituted a number of reforms (chs 7-10). 3. Finally, Nehemiah led the 3rd group of returnee’s in 444 B.C. under the degree of Artaxerxes in Nehemiah chapter 1 and rebuilt the wall around Jerusalem (Neh 1-6). Contemporaries include: Nehemiah & Malachi
I Chron & II Chron
5th cent. 458 – 420 B.C. Possibly written by Ezra and other priests. A collection of the historical events that already took place during the reign of David, Solomon, and the divided kingdom’s of Israel and Judah, as told in the book’s of Samuel and Kings, with some variation. It would appear that it was necessary to collaborate the historical writings of the Hebrew nation due to the fact that during the Assyrian crisis and that of the Babylonian captivity, the people had to once again find their true identification. Identification of their culture, society, and heritage; as a people chosen unto the Lord.
5th cent. 444 – 420 B.C. The subject of the book tells of the return of the exiles under the degree of Artaxerxes in chapter 2. The city and temple are rebuilt even in troublous times, as Daniel predicted (Dan 9:24-27), unto Messiah. Contemporaries include: Ezra & Malachi.
5th cent. 420 – 415 B.C. About 100 years after the ministries of Haggai and Zechariah. There are numerous ties in the book to the concerns of Nehemiah, who was governor in Judah around 440 B.C. These include: Marriages to foreign women (Neh 13:23-27), not paying tithes (Neh 13:10-14), neglecting the Sabbath (Neh 13:15-22), a corrupt priesthood (Neh 13:7-9), and injustice (Neh 5:1-13). Notable contemporaries include: Ezra & Nehemiah. This happened immediately just before the start of the period between the Old & New Testament era. The time/era is often called ‘The 400 years of Silence’. Meaning that God had not spoken by way of divine revelation, word of mouth, or prophet until the advent of ‘The Forerunner, John the Baptist’ & ‘The Messiah‘, Jesus as recorded in Isaiah 40:3 & Mal 3:1.