There are many reasons to learn about the Old Testament books in order, especially if you are serious about learning the Bible. Although it’s not important to know the Old Testament books word-for-word in the beginning of your spiritual journey, it does help to gain a summary introduction to each. In this resource, our editors provide a fill list of the Old Testament books in order to help you expand your basic knowledge of the Christian Bible, and ultimately grow your faith in Jesus Christ.
The Old Testament consists of 39 different books originally written in the Hebrew and Aramaic languages and can be divided into four categories, including The Torah (or Pentateuch), the historical books, the prophetic writings, and the poetic or wisdom literature. The central theme of the Bible’s Old Testament is God’s law and His original promise to the people of Israel prior to the coming of Jesus Christ. While the historical books are narratives from the time of Judges to the monarchical era, the prophetic writings are revelations, oracles and prophecies that address the sins of humankind and how God will be provide their redemption. Several Old Testament books were written by Prophets who scribed directly the Word of God.
Note: We recommend pairing this resource with our Complete List of New Testament Books in Order Bible summary guide.
A Complete List of Old Testament Books in Order
The Book of Genesis (The First Book of Moses)
Summary: The Book of Genesis is the first book of the Bible. It details the origins of the universe, Creation, Sin, the Kingdom of God, and The Covenant.
More Detail: Genesis recalls how God created the world in the order of seven days, and it was very good, but the beauty and goodness were lost because of man’s disobedience. The first promise of a king who will restore blessing and defeat sin is found in chapter 3. The hope continues during the life of the Patriarchs, starting with the call of Abraham to follow God. God promised Abraham that through his lineage of Jewish descendants, He would restore blessing to the nations. The covenant continues with Isaac and Jacob, who would be renamed to Israel later in the story.
The Book of Exodus (The Second Book of Moses)
Summary: The Book of Exodus is the second book of the Bible and details how God saved His people through Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt.
More Detail: Exodus continues the narrative story from Genesis, starting with the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt, thus the meaning “the Names” in Hebrew. The book’s central theme is the fulfillment of God’s promises to the Patriarchs that He would make their descendants a great nation and how He redeemed Israel from slavery from one ancient superpower Egypt. In this book, you’ll also read about God’s new covenant with the people of Israel; that is, God will lead them to the promised land and that they are now guided to by holy before God as a kingdom of priests to the nations. Exodus also describes God’s revelation on Mount Sinai which explains how He should be worshipped via the Ten Commandments.
The Book of Leviticus (The Third Book of Moses)
Summary: The Book of Leviticus is a continuation of Exodus and the third book of the Bible. It offers the rules and instruction on how God commands His people in holiness.
More Detail: The Book of Leviticus introduces the concepts of temple and sacrifices, as well as how God commanded the Israelites to worship Him in a holy manner and atone for their sins. Most of the verses in Leviticus consist of Jesus’ speeches to Moses and emphasize legal, ritual and moral practices as opposed to beliefs. The book also describes sin and guilt rituals that provide the means to gain forgiveness of sin.
The Book of Numbers (The Fourth Book of Moses)
Summary: The Book of Numbers or “in the wilderness” in the Hebrew Bible is the fourth book of the Bible. It describes the rebellion of Israel and how God’s people prepared to enter the promised land.
More Details: Numbers continues the gradual fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It also details the journey of the Israelites from Mount Sinai to the borders of Canaan, the promised land. The book narrates how God continued to stay faithful to His promises as He journeyed with the Israelites despite their constant rebellion. Because of this, the people of Israel delayed their departure to the promised land for 40 years. By the end of this book, God led Israel to the borders of the promised land as they prepared to enter.
The Book of Deuteronomy (The Fifth Book of Moses)
Summary: The Book of Deuteronomy is broken down into four sermons that Moses gives to the Israelites before entering the promised land. The sermons were God’s reminder to His people about his expectations for them.
More Detail: The fifth book of the Bible and meaning “second law” in Greek, the Book of Deuteronomy’s primary theme are the laws already given by God to the Israelites at Mount Sinai. Moses once more reminds the Israelites to keep the law when they enter the promised land. He urges them to stay faithful in their covenant with God to gain life and blessing, and that if they rebel, consequences will ensue. The book ends with the death of Moses and the rise of Joshua as Israel’s new leader.
The Book of Joshua
Summary: The Book of Joshua is the sixth book of the Bible and tells the account of Israel’s journey and conquest as they finally entered the promised land after four decades in the desert.
More Detail: Joshua is the sixth book of the Bible, and it continues the narrative story of the Torah. This book explores how God led Israel as a Warrior through the leadership of Joshua. It also includes their battles with the armies of Canaanites and how Joshua divides the land for the 12 tribes of Israel. The book concludes with Joshua’s final words and reminders for the people of Israel to be faithful to the commands of the Torah that they may experience life and blessings and show the other nation what it looks like to be a nation under Yahweh’s rule. Still, if they break the covenant and disobey the Torah, they will be exiled from the land.
The Book of Judges
The Book of Judges is Judges continue the story of Israel and how they lived in the Promised Land. In this book, the Israelites turned away from the commands of the Torah and, ultimately, from God. They faced the consequences of their rebellion, but God will raise judges to save them, and then they will rebel again. The downward cycle of rebellion, repent, and deliverance continued. The famous line in this book is, “In those days, Israel had no king and everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” The book tells the tragedy of the human heart and the need for a king who will restore blessings to Israel and the world and finally defeat sin and rebellion.
Book Summary: The Book of Judges covers the time between the conquest of the Israelites to the establishment of a kingdom in the Books of Samuel. The book contains accounts of how people were continuously unfaithful to God despite his attempt to show them mercy and deliver them from oppression.
The Book of Ruth
The Book of Ruth is Ruth was set in the era of the judges. This love story begins surrounded by adversity but ends with redemption and victory. Ruth loved Naomi and was able to flee from idolatry. Boaz loved Ruth, and the fruit of their union would have David as a descendant, fulfilling the covenant promises to the Patriarch.
Book Summary: Ruth is a book about a woman from Moab who showed truth faith and mercy in a time of judgement and trials.
1st and 2nd Samuel were originally one scroll. The Septuagint translators divided the long scroll into two. Samuel was the last judge who ushered in the monarchical era by anointing Saul and David as king of Israel. The key theme of 1st and 2nd Samuel is how God exercised His authority and kingship by appointing the line of David as king in Israel.
Book Summary: 1: Considered one of the first major prophets in the Old Testament, Samuel discussed how God created a new political system in Israel . This book discusses the rise and fall of new earthly monarchies led by kings, such as the first king Saul. 2: David was the first honorable King to rule after the failure of King Saul. Although imperfect, under his rule God fulfilled His promises to the nation as he helped them prosper and fight off their enemies.
1st Kings and 2nd Kings were also originally compiled into one scroll. The 1st half tells us the story of King Solomon, who ruled the entire kingdom after his father David, and how he led the completion of God’s Temple in Jerusalem. It also records how the kingdom was divided because Solomon’s son rejected the people’s plea. The second half focuses on the relationship of the people of Israel and Judah with the one true God. Sadly, it is a narrative of the people’s lack of regard for their God.
Book Summary: 1: 1 Kings continues to chronical the rule of various kings of Israel and their relationships with God. The book describes rulers who obey or disobey His will through their rulings. After David, Solomon takes reign as the last king of Israel before the kingdoms are divided. 2: 2 Kings carries the historical account of Judah and Israel forward. The kings of each nation are judged in light of their obedience to the covenant with God. Ultimately, the people of both nations are exiled for disobedience. The second part of the Book of Kings, 2 Kings continues the narrative of the split kingdoms, Israel and Judah. The people of these nations disobey God and are exiled until he sends a prophet to deliver his message.
The book of Chronicles was initially been compiled into one scroll. Same with the book of Samuel and Kings. The central theme is the significance of God’s covenant with David and how it perfectly coexists and continues God’s covenant with Moses, Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham.
Book Summary: 1: While Kings accounts for the history of disobedience under God’s kingdoms, Chronicles encourages the Israelites and help them turn back to worshiping the Lord as the one true God. 2: As a continuation of 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles further discusses Israel’s history as it relates to their restoration to God.
The Book of Ezra
The Book of Ezra is In the Hebrew Bible, Ezra and Nehemiah were also combined into one scroll. The book of Ezra was written between 458 to 444 BC, but the story it narrates covers almost a century. It tells the story of the Jews’ return to the Promised Land after 70 years of exile in Babylon and the rebuilding of the Temple.
Book Summary: The book of Ezra emphasizes rebuilding God’s template through a restored covenant with the people.
The Book of Nehemiah
The Book of Nehemiah is The book of Nehemiah continues the retelling of the return of the Jewish exiles from Babylon. Nehemiah was the leader of the third wave of returnees in 445 BC. While the book of Ezra was about the rebuilding of the Temple and the community, Nehemiah was concerned with the rebuilding of the walls.
Book Summary: Nehemiah describes his work in rebuilding Jerusalem during the Second Temple period, when he and the other Israelites faced challenges in their restored homeland.
The Book of Esther
The Book of Esther is The book of Esther is the story of a Jewish girl who became the queen of Persia during the reign of King Ahasuerus from 486 to 465 BC. Esther and her cousin Mordecai chose to stay in the Persian capital of Susa even after Cyrus decreed that they could return to Palestine. Their story gives a peek into the lives of the Jews who chose not to return to the Promised Land.
Book Summary: The book of Esther describes the story of a Jewish girl who saves her people from destruction after she was chose to rule as queen of Persia.
The Book of Job
The Book of Job is This book explores the case of one who is an exceptionally righteous man but still suffers greatly. The words of Job’s friends depict the different ways that people make sense of suffering.
Book Summary: This book describes Jobs interaction with God through various monologues. Despite losing everything and being approached by Satan, Job remains faithful to God. The book highlights how God’s power and authority during times of hardship.
The Book of Psalms
The Book of Psalms is Psalms is a collection of 150 poems put into music that addresses a wide variety of human situations in which one can worship God. The collection of 150 poems expressed various emotions of the Psalter such as love and awe towards God, lamentations over evil and sin in the world, faith and trust in God and songs of praises.
Book Summary: The Psalms are a culmination of praise and prayers written in the form of songs and poetry. The Psalms explore themes and topics of praise, thankfulness, power, forgiveness, and trust.
The Book of Proverbs
The Book of Proverbs is Proverbs, a collection of short sayings and sermons from various authors. This book commends honorable living to enjoy God’s blessings. It conveys the idea that God favors those whose lives are marked by integrity rather than by falsehood, thus inculcating consistent, godly behavior.
Book Summary: Written as an informational book of wisdom, Proverbs explores concepts centered around values, morality, the meaning of life, and what it means to be righteous in God’s eyes.
The Book of Ecclesiastes
The Book of Ecclesiastes is This book is, primarily, an autobiographical monologue that addresses the foolishness and meaninglessness of life. The writer reminds the reader of the disenchantment we feel when we perceive the lack of moral order in the world: the wicked seem to prosper, and the righteous seem to suffer.
Book Summary: Ecclesiastes helps readers reflect on human experience and provides wisdom to theological ideas.
The Book of Song of Solomon (Song of Songs)
The Book of Song of Solomon, or Song of Songs, This book is a collection of poems celebrating love, passion, and marriage. Using sensual imagery and beautiful sensory scenes provides us with God’s wisdom sexual (physical and emotional) intimacy within a loving marriage that is acceptable to His standards.
Book Summary: The book Song of Songs is a collection of poetry that describe love and gratitude, as well as what beauty and commitment means.
The Book of Isaiah
The Book of Isaiah is Isaiah is a prophetic book that gives us rich themes like the holiness of God, the sovereignty of God over the nations, the one true God as the Redeemer, among others. In addition, this prophetic material gives us a good picture of the “suffering Servant,” which many believe in Messianic. Because of these contributions to the overall message of the Old Testament, the book of Isaiah became one of the most quoted in the New Testament.
Book Summary: Another famous writing prophet, Isaiah’s book discusses what it means to be saved and that salvation ultimately comes from God, not man.
The Book of Jeremiah
The Book of Jeremiah is Jeremiah was also known as the apocalyptic prophet, whose ministry extended from the beginning of the downfall of the Southern kingdom, Judah, all the way to captivity (626-585 BC). Jeremiah’s main message to Judah was to submit to Babylon and be prosperous there.
Book Summary: This book documents Jeremiah’s journey with God, highlighting his personal accounts of challenges and trials he faces and his interactions with God along the way.
The Book of Lamentations
The Book of Lamentations is The entire book is poetic. The laments vividly describe how terrible the destruction of Jerusalem was. But the author also understood clearly that the Babylonians were merely human agents of divine judgment; it was God Himself who had destroyed the city and the Temple.
Book Summary: The book of Lamentations discusses accounts of the suffering and turmoil faced by the people of Jerusalem after the fall of Babylon.
The Book of Ezekiel
The Book of Ezekiel is Like Jeremiah, the Lord asked the Book of Ezekiel to act out many of the things that he prophesied. But the people’s hearts were so hardened that they refused to listen to the words of the true prophet. Ezekiel ministered in the fifth year of the exile.
Book Summary: This book describes God’s control over all creation, particularly his people even when they are exiled. The book expresses how if the Israelites remain faithful to God he will protect them and restore them to the promised land.
The Book of Daniel
The Book of Daniel is This book was an encouragement to those in exile and those left behind in Jerusalem because Daniel showed that kingdoms come and go, but God’s Kingdom is everlasting. The book of Daniel covered the period from King Nebuchadnezzar’s reign (Babylon) to the time of Darius (Persia).
Book Summary: The book of Daniel chronicles the hero acts of the prophet Daniel during his lifetime. Despite being taken into captivity, he remains true to God.
The Book of Hosea
The Book of Hosea is This book depicts the rebellion and unfaithfulness to God. Yet Israel’s infidelity and stubbornness are not enough to exhaust the redemptive love of God which surpasses human ability to understand. God asked Hosea to marry a promiscuous woman and used this to illustrate the unfaithfulness of Israel to Himself graphically.
Book Summary: Hosea describes the end of the northern kingdom. Hosea’s message is one of destruction but hope in salvation and the promise of restoration.
The Book of Joel
The Book of Joel is The book of Joel uses some of the more familiar word pictures for God’s judgment, such as a locust attack. The Day of the Lord theme is also used in this book. The prophetic book isn’t just writing filled with gloom and doom; there are doors left open for repentance and blessing.
Book Summary: Joel is a narrative warning people of God’s imminent judgement, but also that they will see redemption if they repent.
The Book of Amos
The Book of Amos is Amos was the prophet ministering in the Northern Kingdom of Israel when Jeroboam II was the king. This was a time of prosperity brought by the able leadership of Jeroboam. The land, however, was not without problems. While the rich were becoming more affluent, they were also oppressing the poor. Furthermore, idolatry was still very much the sin of the nation.
Book Summary: The book of Amos discusses God’s just nature but absolute sovereignty over man. He predicted how a day of judgment will lead to the destruction of Israel and Judah.
The Book of Obadiah
The Book of Obadiah is This prophetic book was addressed towards the nation of Edom and all the other nations surrounding Israel. They will experience retributive judgment because they’ve been oppressing God’s people. This book signifies that God is also concerned on how other nations operate and still God over all the world. In the same way, God promised that there will come a time when His kingdom comes and all the nation will one day worship the one true God.
Book Summary: Similar to Amos, the prophet Obadiah warned the people of Edom of their day of judgement for their actions.
The Book of Jonah
The Book of Jonah is The book of Jonah is one of the well-known prophets in the Bible. However, the undeniable message in this book is that God is a God of both justice and compassion.
Book Summary: This book discusses how Jonah is sent by God to fulfill a mission to the city of Nineveh but he tries to escape the journey.
The Book of Micah
The Book of Micah was a contemporary of the Prophets Hosea and Isaiah. During his prophetic ministry, Israel’s political condition was worsening in the Northern Kingdom, which eventually led to their captivity. The threat of the superpower, Assyria, was also being felt in Judah.
Book Summary: The purpose of the book of Micah talks about the warning of judgment that is to come to the northern and southern kingdoms.
The Book of Nahum
The Book of Nahum is Nahum spoke about God’s judgment over Assyria. He spoke directly to the people of Nineveh and Judah, specifically with a message of doom to Nineveh and a message of hope and comfort to Judah. They were also experiencing the cruelty of the Assyrians and had seen how the Assyrians had plundered and exiled the Northern Kingdom.
Book Summary: A continuation of the story that began in Jonah, the book of Nahum describes the important of repentance and hope. It highlights God’s endless justice and mercy.
The Book of Habakkuk
The Book of Habakkuk is Habakkuk is unusual as a prophetic book in that he never speaks directly to the people of Judah, but is instead a dialogue between the prophet and God. Habakkuk questioned God’s justice methods upon Judah but ended his book with praising and trusting God despite the coming judgment because he understood that God is sovereign and faithful.
Book Summary: This book is a dialogue between the prophet Habakkuk and God discussing injustice and sufferings.
The Book of Zephaniah
The Book of Zephaniah is Zephaniah was written during the time of King Josiah of the Southern Kingdom, Judah. Amidst the nation’s revival under Josiah, a warning was given about the Day of the Lord. Zephaniah also spoke about the judgment of other nations, which served as an encouragement to the remnant that all wicked nations would indeed be judged.
Book Summary: Similar to many other previous books of its kind, the book of Zephaniah is about a prophet who is warning people of God’s approaching judgment based on their actions.
The Book of Haggai
The Book of Haggai is This book was written in the second year of King Darius in 520 BC. The goal was to motivate the post-exilic community and the leaders such as Zerubbabel and Joshua in their efforts to rebuild the Temple. He also urged them to consider their current economic and spiritual circumstances and go back to God.
Book Summary: A prophet of his time, Haggai preached about the consequences for disobedient actions and ways those in exile could rebuild God’s template and find blessing.
The Book of Zechariah
The Book of Zechariah is Zechariah was written between 520-518 BC, with another section written near 480-470 BC. It has the same historical background and setting as Haggai. Zechariah is known for three things: (1) bizarre vision, (2) rich references of the coming Messiah, and (3) being the longest book among the minor prophets.
Book Summary: Written after the return from exile, the book of Zechariah encourages the people of Judah to repent and conform to God’s law again.
The Book of Malachi
The Book of Malachi is The book of Malachi is the last of the twelve minor prophets and is the final book of the Old Testament in our English Bible. This book was written as a series of disputations that explore the covenant relationship between God and His people.
Book Summary: The book of Malachi discusses how God will not endure man’s sins forever, and a day of judgment is coming.
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