Biblical Commentary        
The Books of
History of Israel

Joshua - Judges - Ruth - I & 2 Samuel - 1 & 2 Kings
1 &2 Chronicles - Ezra - Nehemiah - Esther
These twelve books chronicle the history of Israel as a nation from their days of conquering
the land of Canaan to their return after the seventy years of exile in the land of Babylon. The
land promise given to Abraham is fulfilled, and Israel is set up as a nation governed by God
upon that land. The history recorded in these books is not a record of the social or political
events of the time; but rather, it is the record of the spiritual life of Israel and their relationship
to God.

Following are those twelve books, and a brief description of their contents:

Joshua: The Conquering of Canaan

As Joshua assumes the leadership of the nation of Israel following the death of Moses, they
enter the land of Promise. Most battles Israel enters they win; but not by the power of their
military might: they win by the power of God Almighty, the lord of hosts. Israel does not take the
land of Canaan, God gives it to them.

Judges: the pure theocracy

After the land of Canaan has been divided among the tribes of Israel, the nation suffers the
consequences of not obey­ing the commands of God to rid the land of the idols and idolaters.
Periods of idolatry are followed by periods of bondage which are followed by deliverances by
the judges after the nation repented. Thus the cycle of:
SIN-BONDAGE-REPENTANCE-DELIVERANCE. During this period, Israel is a pure theocracy,
a government and nation ruled by God. There are no elected officials, and there is no
monarchy; God rules through the judges, prophets and priests.

Ruth: a love story
Ruth is the story of the love of Ruth for her mother-in-law, Naomi, and most importantly, for the
God of her husband and mother-in-law, Jehovah of Israel. Although a Moabitess, Ruth
becomes the great-grandmother of David, and an ancestress of the Son of God because of
her faith and obedience.

I Samuel:
the lives of Samuel and Saul,
the first king annotated by Samuel

The last judge of the pure theocracy was Samuel, whose entire life is chronicled in this book.
Samuel also becomes the first of the prophets to serve under the monarchs, or kings.
Because of the wickedness of Samuel's sons and the wish of the nation to be like those
round about them, the nation of Israel rejects the rule of Jehovah and cries for a king. God
allows Samuel to anoint his first king, Saul. Saul, who begins well as king, disobeys God and
is reject­ed from the throne. David is then anointed by Samuel at the direction of God, and is
pursued throughout the countryside by Saul as he attempts to kill David. Saul's entire reign
and life are found in I Samuel.

II Samuel:
the reign of David
the second king anointed by Samuel

Although part of the life of David is found in I Samuel, this book contains the record of his
entire reign as the King of Israel. The struggle of David to assume control of the nation, his
fight to extend its borders, and his fight to maintain control as absolute monarch are found in II
Samuel. But, it is David's relationship with God that overrides all other concerns; for, David "is
a man after God's own heart." Yet, David is denied the right to build a temple for God because
he is a "man of war, a bloody man."

I Kings:
the reign of Solomon and the first kings of Judah and Israel

Solomon solidifies his right to the throne, brings the nation to its greatest glory, and assures
its self-division and self-destruction. Although Solomon's wisdom is legendary, he fails to
follow his own advice and falls into idolatry, which helps to lead the entire nation away from
God. Upon his death, the nations divides because of high taxes into two kingdoms: Judah and
Israel. Judah as a few good kings; but, Israel does not have even one good king, they all lead
the nation into idolatry.

II Kings:
the reign of the remainder of the kings of Judah and Israel

II Kings is a continuation of I Kings, showing the relation of each of the nations to God. Israel,
because of her evil kings and the idolatry of the people, is overrun by Assyria, going into
captivity. Judah last longer, because of a faithful remnant; but, she fails to learn from the
example of Israel, and falling into idolatry, Judah is overthrown by Babylon and goes into
bondage for seventy years.

I Chronicles:
of the kings of Judah

After chronologically coming to David as king, I Chronicles records the reign of David,
paralleling II Samuel.

II Chronicles:
of the kings of Judah

This book parallels the books of I and II Kings, but does not contain the record of the kings of
Israel. The reign of Solomon and the kings of Judah are contained in this book, bringing
Judah through the seventy years of captivity as they return to Canaan at the edict of Cyrus.

the rebuilding of the temple

Ezra, a priest and scribe, in the reign of Artaxerxes, leads a number of others back to
Jerusalem after the temple is being restored at the order of Cyrus. The book chronicles the
difficulties faced as the people rebuild the temple, and the purifying of the people, especially in
putting away pagan wives, under the direction of Ezra.

the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem

Nehemiah, a contemporary of Ezra, returns to Jerusalem during the reign of Artaxerxes. As the
book of Ezra concerned itself with the rebuilding of the temple, the book of Nehemiah
concerns itself with the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. There was trouble with outsiders,
and trouble from their own people that Nehemiah and the Jews needed to deal with.
Nehemiah also chronicles the men who returned to Jerusalem with him, and their
commitment to do the commandments of God as directed by Ezra, in particular.

a queen saves her people, the Jews

When the Medes and the Persians took over the control of the Babylonian Empire, during the
reign of Ahasuerus, a man of influence named Haman sought to destroy the Jews because of
his jealousy of Mordecai. Mordecai's cousin, his ward Esther, however, as now the queen of
the Medes and the Persians. Because of her position, she is able to save her people.
Although his name is nowhere mentioned in the book, the hand of God in preserving his
people is to be found on every page.

chronologically, the books of the History of Israel, fit together like this:

Judges                Ruth
1 Samuel            1 Chronicles
II Samuel            1 Chronicles
I Kings                 2 Chronicles
II Kings                2 Chronicles
Esther                  2 Chronicles

the conclusion

The Torah brought Israel from a promise to a family to a tribe to a nation; but, it left them
without a land. The History of Israel brings the nation with laws but no land into the land God
had promised them, and records the history of their dealings with Jehovah and his dealings
with them. From a pure theocracy, during the conquest and the judges; to a united monarchy
under Saul, David and Solomon; to a divided monarchy with the kingdoms of Judah and Israel;
to a people in bondage, because of their disobedience to God; to a faithful remnant restored to
the land of promise; Israel is shown to be the people of Jehovah.
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