The book of Ruth tells the story of three people: Naomi, a widow from Bethlehem in Judah; Ruth, her daughter-in-law from Moab; and Boaz, a gentleman farmer from Bethlehem. Ruth, in a supreme act of devotion, follows Naomi home from Moab and there meets Boaz, Naomi’s close relative. Boaz understands that Ruth, though a foreigner, is a woman of worth. Through a scheme of Naomi to send Ruth to meet Boaz in secret, and through the cleverness of Boaz, who claims Ruth before the city elders, Boaz and Ruth marry and have a child, thus insuring the continuation of the Davidic line that eventually leads to the birth of Jesus.
The Song of Solomon (or Song of Songs) is a unified collection of poetry on the theme of human love, following the relationship of a man and a woman from courtship and onward. This book has frequently been read as an allegory of God’s love for Israel (in Jewish communities) or of Christ’s love for the church and for individual believers (in Christian communities).
The book of Zechariah is Narrative History, Prophetic and Apocalyptic in genre. It is a post-exilic book, meaning it was written after (post) the return from captivity (exile) in Babylon. The prophet Zechariah wrote chapters 1-8 approximately 520-518 B.C. (Before the temple completed), and then wrote chapters 9-14 approximately 480 B.C. (After the temple is completed). Zechariah is among the most precisely dated books in the Bible. Key personalities are Zechariah, Zerubbabel and Joshua.
The purpose of this book is that Zechariah wrote to encourage the remnant, who had recently returned from exile. Their faith in God was weak and they were not motivated to build the temple. They needed to learn and conform to the law of God again.
The small book of Zephaniah is Narrative History and Prophetic Oracle. Zephaniah wrote it circa 630 B.C. very soon before the fall of Judah in the Southern Kingdom. The purpose of this book was to show that God raised up his prophet Zephaniah to proclaim a warning of coming judgment and to encourage repentance.
The Southern Kingdom was complacent in their wicked lives. They not only suffered under wicked kings they also would suffer under the holy judgment of God. Zephaniah was God’s method in bringing a stern warning of the day of the Lord €Near is the great day of the Lord…a day of wrath is that day€ (1:14-15). He also brought a message of hope, when the nation would be restored.
The book of Nehemiah is Narrative History. Nehemiah authored it at about 430 B.C. Key personalities include Nehemiah, Ezra, Sanballat, and Tobiah. Nehemiah wrote it to records the events of returning to Jerusalem and rebuilding the walls in 445 B.C.
Jerusalem had a temple but there was no protection for the city from further attack. Nehemiah travels to Jerusalem and uses his leadership skill to rally a citywide construction crew. Within a few weeks, the walls around Jerusalem were built and standing tall and their enemies lost their confidence.
The book of numbers is largely Narrative History as far as its genre. It was written by Moses about 1450-1410 B.C. Key personalities include Moses, Aaron, Miriam, Joshua, Caleb, Eleazar, Korah, and Balaam.
The purpose of the book of Numbers is to tell about how Israel prepared to enter the promise land, but sinned and was punished. It describes Moses taking two population censuses, hence the name Numbers.
The book of Obadiah is a book of Prophetic Oracles. The prophet Obadiah wrote it. Its authorship is difficult to date but was possibly written about 853-841 B.C. or 605-586 B.C. The key personalities are the Edomites. The purpose of Obadiah is to show that God will judge all those who are against His children, His chosen people; Edom is used as the example of this truth.
Obadiah is only one chapter (the shortest book in the Old Testament) yet it tells of God’s prophet Obadiah as he announces God’s powerful and authoritative judgment on the nation of Edom. This is the fateful end of the nation of Edom. They had been in conflict with Israel since ancient times, in reality Edom is the descendants of Esau, Jacobs’s brother.
The book of Proverbs is a collection of essays, poems, and sayings expressing the wisdom of ancient Israel. Some of the material probably originated as folk wisdom, circulating in the family or the clan. Other parts reflect the life of the royal court. Arrangement began during the time of Solomon (about 961-922 B.C.), and the final edition was likely produced during the exile in Babylon (about 587-539 B.C.). Jeremiah 18:18 refers to the priest, the wise, and the prophet as leaders in Israel; the book of Proverbs is the product of the work of “the wise.”
The genre of Psalms is Songs and Poetry of all kinds. It is written by multiple authors; David wrote 73, Asaph wrote 12, the sons of Korah wrote 9, Solomon wrote 3, Ethan, and Moses each wrote one (Ps. 90), and 51 of the Psalms are anonymous. They were written over the span of approximately 900 years (Beginning at the time of Moses 1440 B.C. and through the captivity in 586 B.C.).
The Psalms include praises of joy, laments, blessings, and thanksgivings. They are directed at God and they help us to express and communicate ourselves to Him. We read about the Psalmist’s emotions from one extreme to another, from praising, delighting in and worshiping God with fervor, to repentance and crying out to Him in despair. Mainly, the Psalms were written to help us deliver praise to God who is worthy of such. As psalms 150:6 reads, €Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.€
The book of Jonah is Narrative History and a Prophetic Oracle. The prophet Jonah wrote it approximately 785-760 B.C. before Assyria conquered Israel’s Northern Kingdom. Key personalities include Jonah, the captain and the ship’s crew and the people of Nineveh.
The purpose of this book is to show that God is a merciful and gracious God. Although the wicked city of Nineveh deserved to be crushed immediately, God was patient towards them. A reluctant prophet, Jonah originally ran from God before delivering a message of repentance to the nation of Nineveh.