Introduction to the Old Testament
The first thirty-nine books of the English Bible are called the Old Testament. This is the
covenant or testament which God made with the nation of Israel, or as we know them, the
Jews (Deuteronomy 5:3). This covenant or testament was to be a temporary arrangement until
the establishment of a new covenant or testament by the Great Prophet and Lawgiver who was
to arise after Moses, Jesus Christ (Jeremiah 31:31ff; Hebrews 8:1ff; Deuteronomy 18:15ff; Acts
3:19ff; John 1:45; 6:14). The Old Testament receives its name from Hebrews 8:1 where it is
stated: “In that he saith, a new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that is old is ready to
In the New Testament, the Old Testament is referred to as the Law (Hebrews 10:1), the Law of
Moses (Acts 15:5), the law and the prophets (Luke 16:16), the law of Moses and the prophets
and the psalms (Luke 24:44), the oracles of God (Romans 3:2), the living oracles (Acts 7:38),
the scripture (2 Peter 2:20), and the prophecy (2 Peter 2:21).
The Old Testament is inspired
The inspiration of the Old Testament is represented in the words of the prophet Jeremiah:
“Then the LORD put forth His hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me,
Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth” (Jeremiah 1:9).
The words of the Lord were in the mouths and flowed through the pens of the prophets of old.
Each and every time the phrases, “the word of the LORD,” “thus saith the LORD,” “saith the
LORD God,” “visions of God,” etc. occur, the prophet claims inspiration of God.
Therefore, in speaking of the Old Testament in the days of Hosea, God said, “I have written to
him the things of My law, but they were counted a strange thing” (Hosea 8:12).
By the inspiration of God the Old Testament was written (Exodus 20:1; 24:4; 34:27;
The Holy Spirit was the means of instructing those of old. “Now these be the last words of
David … the spirit of the LORD spake by me, and His word was in my tongue” (2 Samuel 23:1-
The apostle Peter recognized the hand of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament: “For prophecy
came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the
Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21; see also Acts 1:16).
Peter refers to this Spirit as the Spirit of Christ (1 Peter 1:11).
It is by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, that “… God … showed by the mouth of all His
prophets …” (Acts 3:18).
The Old Testament is true
Archaeological proofs show that the Old Testament is both historically and socially accurate. A
letter from the Smithsonian Institute entitled, THE BIBLE AS HISTORY, states: “On the other
hand, much of the Bible, in particular the historical books of the Old Testament, are as
accurate historical documents as any that we have from antiquity and are in fact more accurate
than many of the Egyptian, Mesopotamian, or Greek histories. These Biblical documents can
be and are used as are other ancient documents in archaeological work” (p. 2). There is no
one fact that can be shown to be incorrect scientifically or historically within the Old Testament.
The difficulties are found in the dating of events, which scientifically is not fact, but hypothesis,
and most questionable.
The number of books in the Hebrew Old Testament
The divisions in the Hebrew Old Testament, as well as the order of the books, are different.
The first five books are the same as in the English Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers
and Deuteronomy. These are called the Torah (Hebrew meaning “Law”). The next eight books
of the Hebrew Bible are: Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the
Minor Prophets (Joel through Malachi). These are called the Prophets. This division is sub-
divided into two sections: The Former Prophets (Joshua through Kings) and the Latter
Prophets (Isaiah though Malachi). The remaining eleven books of the Hebrew Bible are:
Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ruth, Song of Songs (Solomon), Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, Esther,
Daniel, Ezra through Nehemiah, and Chronicles. This division is called the Hagiographa
(Greek meaning “Sacred or Holy Writings”) or the Wisdom Literature.
The divisions in the English Old Testament
Normally, the English Old Testament is divided into five divisions. The first five books
(Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) are called the Pentatuch (Greek
meaning “Five Books”), or the Law, or the Five Books of Moses. The next twelve books
(Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles,
Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther) are called the History, or the History of Israel. The five books
following these (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon) are called the
Poetry, or the Wisdom Literature. The next five books (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel
and Daniel) comprise those books known as the Major Prophets. The last twelve books
(Heasea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, John, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai,
Zechariah and Malachi) are known as the Minor Prophets. [to be continued]