Tag Archives: historical-books

1 Esdras

The book of 1 Esdras in the BibleThe book of 1 Esdras is essentially a carefully selected compilation of text from 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah. Interspersed within the condensed text from these other sources is the story of a contest between three of the king’s bodyguards. The bodyguard Zerubbabel wins. As a reward Zerubbabel receives permission to return to Jerusalem, where he becomes its governor.

There is some naming confusion about this book, with some Bibles labeling this text as 3 Esdras, since they call the book of Ezra, 1 Esdras, and the book of Nehemiah, 2 Esdras.

First Esdras is an Apocrypha book and not included in all versions of the Bible. The Revised Standard Version (RSV), Common English Bible (CEB), Wycliffe Bible (WYC), Greek Orthodox Bible, Ethiopian Bible, and the original Authorized King James Version (KJV) all include 1 Esdras. However, it was removed from the KJV almost two centuries after it was first published. The Septuagint, an ancient Greek translation of the Jewish scriptures, which was widely used in Jesus’s day, also contains 1 Esdras.

For more information, see why “Christians Should Consider the Entire Bible.”

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4 Maccabees

The Book of 4 Maccabees in the BibleFourth Maccabees, written by an unknown author, is a philosophical treatise intertwined with graphic portrayals of persecution, torture, and death. The premise is that devout reason is superior to emotion and should therefore rule. The resolute suffering of the people profiled in 4 Maccabees shows how their reasoned faith in God allows them to overcome the threat of extreme, physical pain and imminent death.

Antiochus, set on annihilating the Jews, rounds them up and forces them to eat pork, an action abhorrent to their faith. Those who eat the forbidden food are freed. Those who don’t face extreme torture and death.

First martyred is Eleazar an elderly, respected priest. Though his persecutors beg him to eat the meat and save himself from pain and death, he refuses. The shorter account of his martyrdom is also found in 2 Maccabees 6:18-31.

Next is the eldest of seven sons. He is tortured and killed as his brothers and mother are forced to watch. In turn all seven brothers die a horrific death and finally their mother. All face their fate with resolute confidence. Their story is also told, in abbreviated form, in 2 Maccabees 7.

Fourth Maccabees is not found in all versions of the Bible or even all versions of the Apocrypha. However, the Eastern Orthodox and Ethiopian Bibles include 4 Maccabees. The Septuagint, an ancient Greek translation of the Jewish scriptures, which was widely used in Jesus’s day, also contains 4 Maccabees, as does the various versions of the RSV (Revised Standard Version) and the CEB (Common English Bible).

Compare to 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, and 3 Maccabees.

For more information, see why “Christians Should Consider the Entire Bible.”

3 Maccabees

Third Maccabees tells the story of Jewish persecution under King Ptolemy Philopator, likely Ptolemy IV, who lived from 245 to 202 BCE and ruled from 211 to 202 BCE.

The Book of 3 Maccabees in the BibleAfter Philopator defeats Antiochus, he has a celebration tour. He visits Jerusalem and wants to enter the temple, which Jewish Law prohibits. Though he doesn’t care about the Law and tries to proceed anyway, he is supernaturally stopped. As a result, a hatred for the Jews erupts. When he returns to Alexandria in Egypt, he rounds up the Jews with the intent to kill them in a grand public spectacle in the hippodrome.

Though several times the death of the Jews seems imminent, each time God intervenes and spares them for another day. After trying to crush them with 500 enraged, drunk elephants, the king finally gives up. He frees the Jews and has a conversion experience of sorts, affirming that “we have come to realize that the God of heaven surely defends the Jews,” (3 Maccabees 7:6, RSV).

Some people claim the name of 3 Maccabees is a misnomer, since the Maccabees are never mentioned by name. Yet Judas Maccabees, part of the priestly line, has a brother Simon. In 1 and 2 Maccabees, Simon (presumably Judas’s brother) is high priest. In 3 Maccabees 2:1, Simon is the high priest. Judas also has a brother Eleazar. An Eleazar is mentioned in 3 Maccabees 6:1-16.

Third Maccabees is not found in all versions of the Bible or even all versions of the Apocrypha. However, the Eastern Orthodox and Ethiopian Bibles include 3 Maccabees. The Septuagint, an ancient Greek translation of the Jewish scriptures, which was widely used in Jesus’s day, also contains 3 Maccabees, as does the various versions of the RSV (Revised Standard Version) and the CEB (Common English Bible).

Compare to 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, and 4 Maccabees.

For more information, see why “Christians Should Consider the Entire Bible.”

Expanded Daniel

The Book of Expanded Daniel in the BibleSome versions of the Bible include additional text for the book of Daniel, which isn’t found in most Protestant versions of the Bible. This additional text rounds out the story of Daniel and gives deeper insight into his life and faith.

This complete text of Daniel includes three additional sections inserted into the book:

Prayers in the Fiery Furnace: Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (better known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) are thrown into an inferno after refusing to bow down to the king’s statue. The intent is their execution, but God protects them. Much to the king’s astonishment, they walk around in the furnace, unharmed.

As they do, they sing (or pray). We find their words inserted into the text after Daniel 3:24. First we read Azariah’s confident prayer, followed by a bold refrain from all three. Amazed, the king calls them to come out of the furnace and then, he, too, affirms God, which is tacked on after Daniel 3:30.

Susanna: Listed as Daniel 13, this chapter focuses on the life and trials of the righteous Susanna, wrongly accused of adultery and sentenced to death. The young Daniel plays a pivotal role in her story, which is likely why this account is often included in the book of Daniel.

As the people march Susanna off to her execution, Daniel receives a revelation from God. Then Daniel boldly interrupts the procession and loudly proclaims her innocence. Now having the people’s attention, Daniel then proceeds to discredit the accuracy of the two corrupt judges who gave false testimony against Susanna.

In the end, the men are executed, Susanna is saved, and Daniel is celebrated.

Bel and the Dragon: Listed as Daniel 14, this account takes place much later in Daniel’s life. Having risen to a position of power, and gaining many enemies due to his faith and his success, King Cyrus and Daniel discuss his beliefs.

First the king asserts that Bel is a living god, but Daniel proves this not to be true. This results in the execution of the prophets of Bel, along with their families, and the razing of the temple of Bel.

Then Cyrus shifts attention to a great dragon that the people worship as a living god. Daniel also dismisses the dragon and brings about the dragon’s death.

Incensed, Daniel’s enemies pressure the king to throw Daniel into a pit of lions. This time he stays there for six days. Again God keeps him safe. On the seventh day, the king frees Daniel and executes his detractors.

The expanded version of Daniel is an Apocrypha text and not included in all versions of the Bible. The New Jerusalem Bible, New American Bible (NABRE), Douay-Rheims (DRA), and Eastern Orthodox Bibles all include the expanded version of Daniel. The Septuagint, an ancient Greek translation of the Jewish scriptures, which was widely used in Jesus’s day, also contains the expanded text of Daniel.

A few versions of the Bible, such as the original Authorized King James Version (KJV), the Revised Standard Version (RSV), Common English Bible (CEB), and the Ethiopian Bible all pull out these three sections and include them as separate one-chapter books: The Song of the Three Holy Children, Susanna, and Bel and the Dragon.

For more information, see why “Christians Should Consider the Entire Bible.”

The Prayer of Azariah (Song of the Three Young Men)

The Book of The Prayer of Azariah (Song of the Three Young Men) in the BibleThe Revised Standard Version (RSV), Ethiopian Bible, and original Authorized King James Version (KJV) all include The Prayer of Azariah, but this book isn’t found in most other versions of the Bible.

Going by different names in various versions, The Prayer of Azariah also goes by Song of the Three Young Men or The Song of the Three Holy Children.

In The Prayer of Azariah, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (better known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) are thrown into an inferno after refusing to bow to the king’s statue. The intent is their execution, but God protects them. Much to the king’s astonishment, they walk around in the furnace, unharmed.

As they do, they sing (or pray). This book records their words. First, we read Azariah’s confident prayer, followed by a bold refrain from all three. Amazed, the king calls them to come out of the furnace, and then he too affirms God.

The Prayer of Azariah is an Apocrypha book and not included in all versions of the Bible. The Revised Standard Version (RSV), Common English Bible (CEB), Wycliffe Bible (WYC), Ethiopian Bible, and the original Authorized King James Version (KJV) all include The Prayer of Azariah. However, The Prayer of Azariah was removed from the KJV almost two centuries after it was first published.

The New Jerusalem Bible, New American Bible (NABRE), and Douay-Rheims (DRA) also include this text, but list it as part of Daniel, specifically as part of Daniel 3. The Septuagint, an ancient Greek translation of the Jewish scriptures, which was widely used in Jesus’s day, also contains this text, but include it as part of Daniel.

For more information, see why “Christians Should Consider the Entire Bible.”

Susanna

The Book of Susanna in the BibleThe Revised Standard Version (RSV), Ethiopian Bible, and original Authorized King James Version (KJV) all include the book of Susanna, but it isn’t found in most other versions of the Bible.

Susanna focuses on the pious life and crooked trial of the righteous Susanna, wrongly accused of adultery and sentenced to die. A young Daniel plays a pivotal role in her story.

As the people march Susanna off to her execution, Daniel receives a revelation from God. Then Daniel boldly interrupts the procession and loudly proclaims her innocence. Now having the people’s attention, Daniel then proceeds to discredit the accuracy of the two corrupt judges who gave false testimony against Susanna.

In the end, the two men who lied about her are executed, Susanna’s life is spared and her dignity restored, and Daniel is celebrated.

Susanna is an Apocrypha book and not included in all versions of the Bible. The Revised Standard Version (RSV), Common English Bible (CEB), Wycliffe Bible (WYC), Ethiopian Bible, and the original Authorized King James Version (KJV) all include Susanna. However, Susanna was removed from the KJV almost two centuries after it was first published.

The New Jerusalem Bible, New American Bible (NABRE), and Douay-Rheims (DRA) also include this text, but list it as part of Daniel, specifically as Daniel 13. The Septuagint, an ancient Greek translation of the Jewish scriptures, which was widely used in Jesus’s day, also contains this text, but include it as part of Daniel.

For more information, see why “Christians Should Consider the Entire Bible.”

Bel and the Dragon

The Book of Bel and the Dragon in the BibleThe Revised Standard Version (RSV), Ethiopian Bible, and original Authorized King James Version (KJV) all include the book Bel and the Dragon, but it isn’t found in most other versions of the Bible.

Bel and the Dragon takes place later in Daniel’s life. Having risen to a position of power, and gaining many enemies due to his faith and his success, King Cyrus and Daniel discuss his beliefs.

First, the king asserts that Bel is a living god, but Daniel proves Bel is nothing more than an inert idol. This results in the execution of the prophets of Bel, along with their families, and the razing of the temple of Bel.

Then Cyrus shifts the attention to a great dragon that the people worship as a living god. Daniel also dismisses the dragon and brings about the dragon’s death.

Incensed, Daniel’s enemies pressure the king to throw Daniel into a pit of lions. This time he stays there for six days. During this time, the prophet Habakkuk is carried by an angel from Judea to Daniel with food. Again, God keeps Daniel safe from the hungry lions. On the seventh day, the king frees Daniel and executes his detractors.

Bel and the Dragon is an Apocrypha book and not included in all versions of the Bible. The Revised Standard Version (RSV), Common English Bible (CEB), Wycliffe Bible (WYC), Ethiopian Bible, and the original Authorized King James Version (KJV) all include Bel and the Dragon. However, Bel and the Dragon was removed from the KJV almost two centuries after it was first published.

The New Jerusalem Bible, New American Bible (NABRE), and Douay-Rheims (DRA) also include this text, but list it as part of Daniel, specifically as Daniel 14. The Septuagint, an ancient Greek translation of the Jewish scriptures, which was widely used in Jesus’s day, also contains this text, but include it as part of Daniel.

For more information, see why “Christians Should Consider the Entire Bible.”

Expanded Esther

The Book of Expanded Esther in the BibleSome versions of the Bible include additional text for the book of Esther, which isn’t found in most Protestant versions of the Bible. This additional text rounds out the story and reveals deeper insight into the life of Esther and her guardian, Mordecai.

This complete text of Esther includes five additional sections inserted into Esther’s story:

Prologue: Added prior to Esther 1:1, this section tells of Mordecai’s prophetic dream and his successful efforts to save the king from an assassination attempt. This sparks Haman’s hatred of Mordecai and establishes the reason for the king’s future honoring of Mordecai.

Haman’s Letter: Inserted between Esther 3:14 and 3:15 is the text of Haman’s letter, under the seal of the king, that orders the annihilation of all Jews living across the land.

Prayers: Added after Esther 4:17 are two prayers. Mordecai’s prayer comes first, followed by a longer prayer from Esther. Esther’s prayer reveals her thoughts about her position as queen, which she loathes as an anathema to her devote Jewish faith. This section concludes with Esther approaching the king and God’s provision when she does.

Counter Decree: Inserted between Esther 8:12 and 13 is the decree issued my Mordecai, also under the king’s authority, to allow the Jews to defend themselves and seek revenge against their enemies.

Epilogue: Added after Esther 10:3 is a follow-up text, mostly a quote of Mordecai.

The expanded version of Esther is an Apocrypha text and not included in all versions of the Bible. The New Jerusalem Bible, Revised Standard Version (RSV), New American Bible (NABRE), Wycliffe Bible (WYC), Common English Bible (CEB), Douay-Rheims (DRA), and Eastern Orthodox Bibles all include the expanded version of Esther. Interestingly, the original Authorized King James Version (KJV) contains these additional passages, but the text was removed almost two centuries later. The Septuagint, an ancient Greek translation of the Jewish scriptures, which was widely used in Jesus’s day, also includes the additions of Esther.

For more information, see why “Christians Should Consider the Entire Bible.”

Bible Term: Historical Books

The history books of the Bible primarily contain historical accounts of key events surrounding the Jews in the Old Testament. These books are not limited to a pure chronicle of events, but also contain significant insights into God and our relationship to him. Historical insight can also be gained from other books of the Bible. The following books are categorized as historical books in the Bible:

*not found in all Bibles; see Apocrypha

In the New Testament, the book of Acts is historical, as are the four Gospels.

First and Second Chronicles

The Book of First and Second Chronicles in the BibleThe books of First and Second Chronicles are two of the historical books in the Old Testament. Originally they were a single book (and still are in the Hebrew Bible).

After an initial historical review (chapters 1 through 9), the book of First Chronicles focuses on the reign of king David (also covered in Second Samuel).

The book of Second Chronicles covers the reign of David’s son and successor, Solomon. After Solomon, his son, Rehoboam, succeeds him as king, but following the bad advice of his peers, the nation is ultimately split in two. The smaller part (the tribes of Judah and Benjamin) is called Judah and is ruled by Rehoboam and his heirs (who are king David’s descendents). The nation of Judah is the focus of the remaining part of Second Chronicles, with only brief attention to what happens in their sister nation of Israel. Second Chronicles coincides with the events of First and Second Kings.

The nation of Judah is ruled exclusively by descendants of king David, some of who are good and godly rulers, others are not. Resulting from their reoccurring disobedience, they are conquered and all but the poorest people are deported to Babylon.

Most of the prophets lived during the timeframe covered in Second Chronicles. Their ministries and messages give additional insight into the reoccurring tendency of the nations of both Israel and Judah to turn their backs on God.