The Old Testament
There are 39 books in the Old Testament. They are generally arranged into the books of:
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther
Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon
Prophecy-#17 (Major Prophets-5, Minor Prophets-12)
Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi
The Six Principal Periods of Bible History**
I. Period of the Patriarchs to Moses (Genesis)
A. The godly line-leading events
B. The chosen family-leading events
1. Call of Abraham
2. The descent into Egypt-bondage
II. Period of Great Leaders: Moses to Saul (Exodus to Samuel)
A. Exodus from Egypt
B. Wandering in wilderness
C. Conquest of Canaan
D. Rule of the Judges
III. Period of the Kings: Saul to the captivities (Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, the Prophetical books)
A. The united kingdom
B. The divided kingdom
IV. Period of Foreign Rulers: Captivities to Christ (Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Prophecies of Daniel and Ezekiel)
A. Captivity of Israel
B. Captivity of Judah
V. Period of Christ (the Gospels)
VI. Period of the Church (Acts and the Epistles)
A. In Jerusalem
B. Extending to the Gentiles
C. In all the world
(**What the Bible is All About, Meirs, pp. 16,17; Through the Bible in One Year, Allen Stringfellow; *Willmington’s Guide to the Bible, H.L. Willmington, pp. xii-xv)
For a visual portrayal of the history of the entire Bible see:
For a timeline of the Bible that also includes other significant people and events of world history see:
Moses (Exodus 17:14; 24:4,7; Numbers 33:1-2; Deuteronomy 31:9; Joshua 1:7-8; 8:32,34; 24:5; 1 Kings 2:3; 2 Kings 14;6; 21:8; Ezra 6;18; Daniel 9:11-13; Malachi 4:4; Matthew 19:8; Mark 12;26; Luke 24:27; John 5;46-47; 7:19; Romans 10:5).
Since Genesis closes approximately 300 years before Moses was born we know that the material he wrote down came from historical records handed down from the forefathers (oral tradition) which the Holy Spirit confirmed through inspiration and from direct revelation from God.
For additional introductory material on Genesis see:
Time covered in history:
Creation through the entrance of the 12 Tribes of Israel into Egypt (Joseph).
Notice that the first eleven chapters constitute a whole and that, beginning with chapter 12 through the remainder of the book, we find an altogether different section…The first eleven chapters cover a minimum time span of two thousand years…but the second section of thirty-nine chapters covers only three hundred and fifty years. In fact, beginning with Genesis 12 and running all the way through the Old Testament and the New Testament, a total time span of only two thousand years is covered. Therefore, as far as time is concerned, you are halfway through the Bible when you cover the first eleven chapters of Genesis…Do you think that God is putting more emphasis on this first section or on the rest of the Bible? Isn’t it evident that He is putting the emphasis on the last part?...
Let me further illustrate this. Of the eighty-nine chapters of the four Gospel records, only four chapters cover the first thirty years of the life of the Lord Jesus while eighty-five chapters cover the three years of His life, and twenty-seven chapters cover the final eight days of His life. Where does that indicate that the Spirit of God is placing the emphasis?
Thru the Bible, Genesis through Deuteronomy, J. Vernon McGee, p. 2
Genesis is the first of the 5 books written by Moses, called the Pentateuch (Genesis-Deuteronomy). It includes at least 2,000 years of history.
The word “Genesis” means “beginning, or origin”. Genesis is a book of beginnings:
• The beginning of the created world (1:1-25)
• The beginning of man and woman (1:26-25)
• The beginning of sin (3:1-7)
• The beginning of the promise of redemption (3:8-24)
• The beginning of family life (4:1-15)
• The beginning of civilization (4:16-9:29)
• The beginning of nations (10-11)
• The beginning of a chosen people (12-50)
Genesis answers the great questions of the soul:
• What does it mean that God is eternal?
• Where did man come from?
• Where did sin come from?
• How can sinful man get back to God (Abel’s sacrifice)?
• How can man please God (Abraham’s faith)?
• How can we have power with God and man (Jacob’s surrender)?
The natural outline of Genesis is found in the lives of the people it records. This is emphasized by the often-used phrase “these are the records of the generations of” (6:9; 10:1; 11:10; 11:27; 25:12; 25:19; 36:1; 37:2). In the outline of Genesis that is developed here…the chapter divisions are overlapped in sequence with the birth and death of key individuals.
1-2 The Creation…God
3 The Sin of Man…Adam and Eve
4-5 The Beginnings of Civilization…Cain and Seth
6-9 The Flood…Noah
10-11 The Crisis at Babel…mankind
11-25 The Man of Faith…Abraham
21-35 The Beloved Son…Isaac
25-39 The Father of the Nation of Israel (Jacob)
35-50 The Suffering and the Glory…Joseph
Genesis 1-2 The Creation…God
Genesis 1:1-2:3-The Beginning of the Created World (explained)
The word “Genesis” means “origin, or beginning”…the title of the book coming from its very first word, which means “in the beginning”. This is a book of beginnings.
Genesis was written by Moses between 1450-1410 B.C. The history that it covers takes us from the creation of the world through the death of Joseph (in Egypt). The first five books of the Old Testament are referred to together as the Pentateuch.
“In the beginning” does not speak of the beginning of eternity, but the beginning of the creation of the world…as described in this chapter.
The word “God” (“elohim”-meaning “strong one, mighty leader, supreme Deity”…is a generic term that is used for gods in general as well as being used of the one true God) is plural…and yet the verb “created” which expresses His action is singular. In fact, every time that the word “God” is used in chapter one it is in the plural form…while the verb following it is in the singular. Here, in the very first chapter of the Bible is a veiled reference to the Trinity. Remember, while the word “Trinity” is not used in the Bible, the theological concept is present throughout. The word is just the theological term that is used to describe this concept. So, what does the word, the concept “Trinity” mean? Very simply…that one God exists in three distinct, separate personalities. One God in three persons. No, it does not mean that there are three gods…polytheism. But, it does mean that there is one God…who exists in three personalities…monotheism. One God…Father, Spirit, and Son.
d. One day, students in one of Albert Einstein's classes were saying they had decided there was no God. Einstein asked them how much of all the knowledge in the world they had among themselves collectively, as a class. The students discussed it for a while and decided they had 5% of all human knowledge among themselves. Einstein thought their estimate was a little generous, but he replied: "Is it possible God exists in the 95% you don't know?"
b. God: This is the ancient Hebrew word Elohim. Grammatically it is a plural word used as if it were singular. The verbs and pronouns used with Elohim should be in the plural, but when Elohim refers to the LORD God the verbs and pronouns are in the singular.
i. Rabbi Simeon ben Joachi, commenting on the word Elohim: "Come and see the mystery of the word Elohim; there are three degrees, and each degree by itself alone, and yet notwithstanding they are all one, and joined together in one, and are not divided from each other." Clarke adds: "He must be strangely prejudiced indeed who cannot see that the doctrine of a Trinity, and of a Trinity in unity, is expressed in the above words."
ii. Leupold quoting Luther on Elohim: "But we have clear testimony that Moses aimed to indicate the Trinity or the three persons in the one divine nature."
David Guzik :: Study Guide for Genesis 1
The “Spirit of God”…we’re only in the second verse of the Bible and we find the second person of the Trinity.
Here are the seven literal days of creation. The specific way that the Hebrew word for day (“yom”) is used here clearly identifies that the author intended for it to mean a period of 24 hours…not an extended period of time such as an “era, or age”…but one, literal day consisting of 24 hours.
We can determine how yom should be interpreted in Genesis 1:5-2:2 simply by examining the context in which we find the word and then comparing its context with how we see its usage elsewhere in Scripture. By doing this we let Scripture interpret itself. The Hebrew word yom is used 2301 times in the Old Testament. Outside of Genesis 1, yom plus a number (used 410 times) always indicates an ordinary day, i.e., a 24-hour period. The words “evening” and “morning” together (38 times) always indicate an ordinary day. Yom + “evening” or “morning” (23 times) always indicates an ordinary day. Yom + “night” (52 times) always indicates an ordinary day.
The context in which the word yom is used in Genesis 1:5-2:2, describing each day as “the evening and the morning,” makes it quite clear that the author of Genesis meant 24-hour periods. The references to “evening” and “morning” make no sense unless they refer to a literal 24-hour day.
For additional information on the seven literal days of creation see:
Notice what was created each day…
Genesis 1:1-5-day one…heavens, earth (completely covered with water), light (day and night…this is not the sun, moon, and stars)
Genesis 1:6-8-day two…the vast “expanse”, also called “heaven”, between the earth and the clouds…the clouds appeared as a canopy that surrounded the earth. The Bible uses the term “heaven” to describe 1.-the sky directly above the earth (as in verse 8); 2.-the area of the stars; and, 3.-the realm that God inhabits.
1:7 the waters which were above the expanse. Apparently God suspended a vast body of water in vapor form over the earth, making a canopy that caused conditions on the earth to resemble those inside a greenhouse. This may account for the longevity of human life (Gen. 5) and for the tremendous amount of water involved in the worldwide flood (Gen. 6-9).
Ryrie Study Bible, Genesis 1:7 footnote, p. 8
Genesis 1:9-13-day three…dry land (earth), seas, vegetation
Genesis 1:14-19-day four…when God created the “lights” (sun, moon, stars) they served 5 purposes: 1.-supernatual signs, 2.-bearings for travel, 3.-seasons, 4.-calendar, 5.-light to earth.
Genesis 1:20-23-day five…sea creatures, birds
Genesis 1:26-31-The Beginning of Man and Woman (explained)
Genesis 1:24-31-day six…land animals, man. Man was commanded to 1.-be fruitful and multiply…meaning to reproduce; 2.-fill and subdue the earth…to extend their presence throughout the world; 3.-rule over all other living creatures…to provide governance over all creatures. Man and animals are given all plant life for food. Man was not given meat to eat until after the Flood (Genesis 9:3).
1:26 image…likeness. Interchangeable terms (5:3) indicating that man was created in a natural and moral likeness to God. When he sinned, he lost the moral likeness, which was his sinlessness, but the natural likeness of intellect, emotions, and will he still retains (cf. Gen. 9:6; James 3:9).
Ryrie Study Bible, Genesis 1:27, p. 9
Genesis 2:1-3-day seven…the creation process is completed and God “rested” from this process…nothing else will ever be created in this manner again. God did not cease from all activity…but He stopped the work of the creative process. God “sanctified” (meaning to set something apart as special, unique) the seventh day.
Genesis 2:4-25-The Beginning of the Created World (expanded)
Having established the most foundational basis of theology concerning God and creation…God now begins to expand on that understanding.
While the first chapter identified God as “elohim”…He is now referred to as “YHWH” (LORD-2:4). This term is used 6,823 times in the OT...especially in relationship to God's holiness (Leviticus 11:44-45), His hatred of sin (Genesis 6:3-7), and His gracious provision of redemption (Isaiah 53:1,5,6,10).
In the Scriptures the name of God is most significant and understandably so. It is inconceivable to think of spiritual matters without a proper designation for the supreme deity. Thus the most common name for deity is God, a translation of the Hebrew Elohim. The normal word for master is Lord, a rendering of Adonai. There is yet another name which is particularly assigned to God as his special or proper name, that is the four letters YHWH (Exodus 3:14 and Isaiah 42:8). This name has not been pronounced by the Jews because of reference for the great sacredness of the divine name. Therefore, it was consistently pronounced and translated LORD. The only exception to this translation of Yahweh is when it occurs in immediate proximity to the word Lord, that is, Adonai. In that case it is regularly translated GOD in order to avoid confusion.
The Ryrie Study Bible, Principles of Translation, The Proper Name of God in the Old Testament, p. ix
For additional information on the names and titles of God in the Old Testament see:
There is also an expansion of additional details of the creation process. This is not a different, or second story of creation…but supplementary information about what we have already been told. In 1:1-2:3 we were given the order, or sequence of creation. Now, we are given some additional details.
Genesis 2:5-6-When God first created the earth it was surrounded by a thick layer of clouds…like a canopy. This created a world-wide tropical rainforest effect. It didn’t rain but, because of the humidity a mist, or fog periodically rose and provided moisture that sustained both vegetable and animal life.
2:5 This sentence may begin at verse 4b, “At the time the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, then no shrub of the field was as yet in the earth…” The kind of plants referred to here are those requiring cultivation, which (though green plants appeared the third day, 1:11-12) did not grow until after there was a man to take care of them.
The Ryrie Study Bible, Genesis 2:5, footnote
Genesis 1:26-31-The Beginning of Man and Woman (expanded)
Genesis 2:7-God forms man of the “dust from the ground”. In verse 20, we find that the man’s name was “Adam”. There is an interesting play on words here…”man” (Hebrew-“adam”) was formed from the “ground” (Hebrew-“adamah”). Man is not everlasting…meaning that he has always previously existed in some form. He was “formed” and God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life”. This same phrase is used of animals. However, only man was created in the image of God (having moral and spiritual qualities). This distinguishes man from all other created beings.
Genesis 2:8-17-God develops a specific area on earth for the man and woman to live…a garden in Eden. He plants a tree in the midst of it called “the tree of life”…and another tree called “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”…and gives special significance to these two trees. Eating from the “tree of life” would provide nourishment that would allow them to live forever (3:22). They were forbidden from eating from the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil”. This tree represented the desire and intent to live life independently of God, to make decisions concerning right and wrong for themselves (3:3-5). To do so would result in death (:17)…physical death (since they would be removed from Eden and access to the “tree of life”) and spiritual death (since they would separated from the relationship with they shared with God in the garden).
Genesis 2:18-25-So far, everything about God’s creation had been good. But now, for the first time, God says that there is something that is not good…”It is not good for the man to be alone…”. So, God decided to make a “helper suitable” for him (a counterpart). Before He does so, He has all the animals come before the man (Adam) so that he can give them names. In part, the purpose was so that Adam would recognize his distinctiveness from them…he was the only one created in the image of God. By naming them it also showed that God had given Adam authority over them. Through the lengthy process of naming all of the animals there was also the intention that he might realize, as God did, that he was alone. Is it possible that God brought the animals by in pairs? The phrase, “he did not find a helper suitable for him”…might suggest that as the animals came by they did so in pairs…each male had a helper suitable for it. God puts Adam to sleep and removes one of his ribs…that He then “fashioned” into a woman. I am mindful that when God gave Adam the responsibility to name the animals…this process also included naming Eve...her name gave her a specific identification that separated her from all of the other living creatures and showed her unique relationship to Adam. The word “woman” (Hebrew-“ishah”) is a derivative of the word for man (Hebrew-“ish”)…reflecting the fact that the woman came from man (:23)…and that they are equals.
Notice that it says that God, “brought her to the man”. This is establishment of the marriage covenant. The enduring covenant of the marriage relationship was determined by God…He mandated it (Matthew 19:6). The specific individuals of the marriage relationship were determined by God…He identified them (man and woman). “For this cause”…because man is incomplete without woman…a man and woman are to be united in marriage. There are three dimensions of marriage identified here:
1.-“a man shall leave his father and mother”…The mental dimension which involves the will. This is the decision to establish a new relationship that will take priority over all others.
2.-”cleave to his wife”…This is the spiritual dimension. The word “cleave” means “to be glued together”. It is a passive verb suggesting that the man and woman did not cleave themselves together…but that someone else did so. We find in Matthew 19:6 that God is the one who unites a man and a woman together spiritually.
3.-“the two shall become one flesh”…The physical dimension. They are to share in the sexual relationship that is to exist exclusively between a man and his wife.
“And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed”…because there was no sin present, there was no reason for them to be ashamed of their nakedness with each other, or with God. How wonderful to have absolute honesty, transparency, and trust between a man and a woman.
Prayer: Father, there is so much in these two chapters. And almost everything here is under attack in our world today. Please, help me understand the truth of what You are teaching us…and then, help me to be faithful to it.