The Old Testament, a.k.a. the Hebrew Bible

Questions raised and answered in the Old Testament

We say the Old Testament (or Hebrew Bible) is "God's Word." We believe that God reveals Himself through these ancient writings. So, the conversation about the Hebrew Bible needs to move beyond "How many books are in the Old Testament?' to the important questions raised and answered by the 39 documents (24 in the Jewish canon because some of those divided in the Christian canon such as 1 and 2 Samuel are one book in the Jewish canon).

What is the purpose of the Old Testament? What message might it have for us today? Well, here are some questions raised and answered by the Old Testament:

From The Bible - God's Word for the Biblically-Inept by Larry Richards. © Starburst Publishers. Used under the educational provisions of U.S. copyright laws' "fair use" clauses.

"Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens" -- Psalm 119:89

Why are the Old Testament books in the order that they appear in the Bible?

The Old Testament book groupings
(Sometimes called the "Hebrew Bible")

"The gospel of God — the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures." – Romans 1:1-2

Queen Esther lived years after the prophet Jeremiah. Why is her story placed before Jeremiah's prophecies?

What is the logic behind the order in which the Old Testament books or documents appear? Why does the book of Psalms appear in printed Bibles after the book by Nehemiah, although King David, who authored many of the Psalms, lived hundreds of years before Nehemiah, who lived after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians?

As this animated graphic makes clear, the Old Testament writings or books are arranged in the Bible by subject rather than chronologically (although within the subject groupings, there is considerable chronological order).

Three main groups: Seven sub-groups

of groups of Old Testament books

Static version of this graphic

More questions to help understand the Bible

Questions to help you dig deeper

Does God speak to us through the Bible?

nextThough Scripture was written by about 40 different human authors, it is God who wishes us to hear speaking through it. How do we discern His voice? [ more ]

    -- Howard Culbertson,


The Old Testament is the first part of the Christian Bible, also recognized as the Hebrew Bible in Judaism. It consists of a collection of ancient religious texts containing the history, laws, teachings, prophecies, and poetry of the Israelites and chronicling their relationship with God. Comprising multiple books written over centuries by various authors, the Old Testament covers a wide range of topics, including creation, the lives of patriarchs and prophets, the Exodus from Egypt, the establishment of Israel as a nation, and the development of religious rituals and laws. It serves as a foundational text for both Judaism and Christianity, providing spiritual and moral guidance to believers and offering insights into the origins of both monotheistic faith traditions.

Devotional thoughts on Old Testament passages

Devotional thoughts on Old Testament passages:    Where they did not belong, Exodus 1:1-14    What does God have in mind for your kids Exodus 2:1-15     "I am Who I am," Exodus 3:1-10, 13-15     God's man under pressure, Exodus 5:1-14     Unworthily? Exodus 12:1-14     I sing because I'm free, Exodus 14:10-16, 22-31     Another CIA plot? Exodus 10:1-9, 20-25     Is God shooting at us? (In a good way) Exodus 20:1-11    Watch thief, Exodus 33:12-23    Swimming upstream, Exodus 20:12-20    These hands I give to you, Exodus 24:3-18     Dancing around a golden calf, Exodus 25:1-9; 31:1-6     Emptiness versus God's presence, Exodus 32:1-14    Trust the instruments, Joshua 1:9    Unlimited resources, 2 Chronicles 25:8    An appropriate humility -- Job    Blessed . . . Not so . . ., Psalm 1     An active faith not fatalism, Psalm 121:1-2<>/a>    Telling tales, Psalms 14:1-3; 15; 16:8-11     Swet little baby Jesus, Psalms 22:1-5, 23; 24:7-10     He is my shepherd, Psalm 23     Leaning on the everlasting arms, Psalm 37:1-11     Getting the glory down, Psalm 103:8    Fountain of youth, Isaiah 40:31    God's splendor displayed, Isaiah 49:3     "To everyone who is who is thirsty," Isaiah 55    A pastor's work, Ezekiel 34:11-16     The disease of prejudice -- Jonah 4:11     Measuring up, Micah 6:8    Fountain of joy, Habakkuk 2, 3

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