Tag Archives: historical-books

Esther

The book of Esther is a rich and intriguing story of obedience, duty, risk, and love. It centers on the Jewish girl Esther (her Hebrew name was Hadassah).

The book of Esther in the BibleThis book paints a powerful and compelling picture of how one person can make a difference – a huge difference. Especially noteworthy, is that she did this in a male-dominated society and from a position of forced expatriation.

Unfortunately, not everyone embraces the book of Esther, as it is more secular (that is, less spiritual) than other parts of the Bible, and it does not directly mention God. However, much can be inferred from this story about God’s providence and protection. It also showcases an example of serving him, regardless the cost or risk.

The Jewish holiday of Purim celebrates Esther’s bravery and the Jew’s deliverance from the evil Haman.

Ezra

The Book of Ezra in the BibleThe book of Ezra is one of the historical books in the Old Testament. The book is named after it’s primary character, Ezra.

Chronologically, Ezra picks up over a century after the conclusion of Second Kings and Second Chronicles. (The books of Esther and Daniel give us some insight into what happened during this time, when the people lived in Babylonian captivity.

Ezra was instrumental in helping the struggling remnant of God‘s people rebuild the temple in Jerusalem and restore worship.

(Nehemiah was a contemporary of Ezra and led the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem.)

Joshua

The Book of Joshua in the bibleThe book of Joshua is one of the historical books in the Old Testament. It covers the latter part of the life of Joshua, the protégé and successor of Moses. The time frame covered is from the death of Moses to the conquest and allocation of the land God gave his people, the 12 tribes of Israel.

Historically, the book of Joshua occurs immediately after Deuteronomy. The book of Judges closely follows it.

Insight into Joshua’s early life is found in Exodus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

Judges

The Book of Judges in the BibleThe book of Judges is one of the historical books in the Old Testament. On a timeline, it occurs immediately after the book of Joshua. Following it are the events recorded in Samuel and Kings.

Once the people settle in Israel, they are governed by a series of judges, hence the name for this book. These people are not judges in the sense that we would understand today, but instead they should be thought of as informal military heroes who were called and empowered by God to rescue his people from the oppression of surrounding nations.

A reoccurring pattern in the book of Judges is that the Israelites are oppressed, they call out to God for deliverance, he raises up a judge to save them, they turn to God for a time, but later fall away. The cycle repeats.

The actions of some of the judges are noteworthy and significant. Other judges are scarcely mentioned, some only garnering the briefest of citations in a single paragraph or verse.

Judith

The Book of Judith in the BibleThe book of Judith is included with the historical books of the Old Testament, but due to apparent historical inconsistencies, it might be more correct to understand it as a work of historical fiction. Nevertheless, Judith stands as an inspiring account of confident faith put into bold action.

The book of Judith is a tale of the beautiful and pious women Judith (which means Jewess) who daringly and single-handedly delivers the Jewish people from their enemies, using her beauty and charm, all the while remaining pure and chaste.

Judith is an Apocrypha book 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), Good News Translation (GNT), and Douay-Rheims (DRA) all include Judith. Interestingly, the original Authorized King James Version (KJV) contains Judith, 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 book of Judith.

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

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First and Second Kings

The Book of First and Second Kings in the Bible The books of First and Second Kings are two of the historical books in the Old Testament. Originally they were a single book (and still are in the Hebrew Bible). Historically, the book of First Kings picks up where Second Samuel ends. The book of Second Chronicles is a parallel account of First and Second Kings, with a focus on the nation of Judah.

First Kings begins with the reign of king Solomon, David’s son and successor (First Kings 1 through 11). Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, succeeds his father as king, but following the bad advice of his peers, the nation is ultimately split in two. The larger part (10 tribes) picks their own king and continues to be known as Israel. The smaller part (the tribes of Judah and Benjamin) are ruled by Rehoboam and his heirs (who are king David’s descendents); it is called Judah.

After this division, the nation of Israel is ruled by evil kings and the people, for the most part, turn their back on God. As a result of their turning from God, the nation of Israel is eventually conquered and it’s people dispersed. The nation of Judah is ruled exclusively by descendants of king David, some of who are good and godly rulers, other are not. Later on, they are likewise conquered and all but the poorest people are deported to Babylon.

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

First Maccabees

The Book of First Maccabees in the BibleFirst Maccabees is labeled as an historical book, but it possesses both historical and literary value. It is a book of stoic faith.

First Maccabees gives details of the political scene and the military situation in the area of Israel circa the second century BCE. Though the initial focus is on the military leadership and bold exploits of Judas (Maccabeus), for whom the book is named, it also covers the feats of his four brothers: Eleazar, John, Jonathan, and Simon.

Also see 2 Maccabees, as well as 3 Maccabees and 4 Maccabees.

First Maccabees is an Apocrypha book 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), Good News Translation (GNT), and Douay-Rheims (DRA) all include First Maccabees. Interestingly, the original Authorized King James Version (KJV) contains First Maccabees, 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 book of First Maccabees.

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

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Second Maccabees

Second Maccabees, another historical book, is not a continuation of First Maccabees, but more appropriately a companion piece, as its timeline mostly overlaps First Maccabees and provides additional details.

The Book of Second Maccabees in the bibleMost importantly, Second Maccabees offers a different perspective of these events, showcasing signs, wonders, and miracles.

It also gives additional insight into what provoked the Maccabean rebellion and covers Judas Maccabeus and his recapture and rededication of the temple.

Also see 1 Maccabees, as well as 3 Maccabees and 4 Maccabees.

Second Maccabees is an Apocrypha book 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), Good News Translation (GNT), and Douay-Rheims (DRA) all include Second Maccabees. Interestingly, the original Authorized King James Version (KJV) contains Second Maccabees, 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 book of Second Maccabees.

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

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Nehemiah

The Book of Nehemiah in the bibleThe book of Nehemiah is one of the historical books in the Old Testament.

Chronologically, Nehemiah picks up slightly after the book of Ezra and over a century after the conclusion of Second Kings and Second Chronicles. The books of Esther and Daniel give us some insight into what happened during this time, when the people lived in Babylonian captivity.

Nehemiah led the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem. In addition to heading up a building project, Nehemiah also became the leader of a group of returning expatriates, a project manager, a military strategist, a spokesperson for God, a spiritual leader, and he ended up being governor. As such, Nehemiah was an extraordinary man who was called by God to do many things for which he had no skill or training. Yet by relying and depending on God, Nehemiah was exceedingly successful. At each step, Nehemiah sought God, was led by him, and obeyed him.

(Ezra was a contemporary of Nehemiah and led in the rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem and restoring worship.)

Tobit

The Book of the Tobit in the BibleThe book of Tobit, sometimes called Tobias, is named after its main character, Tobit (Tobias). Listed as an historical book, some say the book of Tobit is more appropriately understood as a cross between history and wisdom literature. Regardless, Tobit is an epic story.

The book is the account of Tobit, an Israelite originally from the Northern Kingdom of Israel, who was deported to Nineveh. In distress over his life, misfortune, and blindness, he asks God to let him die. In another city, Sarah also giving up on life, makes a similar request. God hears both their prayers, sending the angel Raphael in disguise to help them both, with the help of Tobit’s son Tobiah.

Tobiah makes a journey with Raphael on his father‘s behalf to retrieve some money. Along the way he is attacked by a fish, which he seizes at Raphael’s prompting. He later meets and marries Sarah.

From the fish he makes a potion that he uses to drive the demon Asmedeus from Sarah and to restore his father’s sight.

Raphael reveals his true identity as an angel, and Tobit sings a song of praise. The book ends with Tobit telling Tobiah to leave Nineveh before it is destroyed. Tobit dies at the ripe age of 112.

Tobit is an Apocrypha book 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), Good News Translation (GNT), and Douay-Rheims (DRA) all include Tobit. Interestingly, the original Authorized King James Version (KJV) contains Tobit, 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 book of Tobit.

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

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