The Old Testament

The writings in the Old Testament are generally divided into four main groups:

The Law (or "Torah")

The first five books of the Old Testament (also called the "Pentateuch") layout the Covenant between Yahweh and the Jewish people. It includes the Ten Commandments as well as all of the other laws and rituals the Jews are to follow. These were once thought to have been written by Moses himself.

The History Books

It is hard to sum up a thousand years of history but here goes: The History Books track the history of Israel post-Moses.
First were the Judges, followed by the establishment of the Kingdom of Israel under Saul.
David conquers Jerusalem and makes it the capitol.
Solomon builds the first Temple and expands the Kingdom.
After Solomon, the kingdom breaks into the North Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom (with Jerusalem).
The Northern Kingdom reverts to ancient Caananite religious practices and is threatened and then destroyed by the Assyrians.
The Southern Kingdom sees that as a punishment by Yahweh and becomes very strictly religious.
It is threatened and then destroyed by the Babylonians.
This leads to the "Babylonian Captivity" in which many Jews are taken away to Babylon.
The Persians conquer the Babylonians and allow Israel to rebuild (though still under Persian control).
The Greeks under Alexander the Great conquer Israel and when his empire is divided up, Israel is assigned to the (Greek) Ptolomies in Egypt.
The (Greek) Syrians take over and then the Jews under the Maccabees gain their independence.

The Wisdom Books

The Wisdom Books represent a sort of philosophical analysis of life. Interestingly, they depict Wisdom as a female spiritual being.

The Prophets

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(c) 2002 Thomas F. Swezey All rights reserved.