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Approximately 460 pages ___________________ Book Author Thomas R. Rodgers, Th.G., Baptist Bible College; B.B.A., University of Detroit; Th.M., Th.D., Trinity Theological Seminary; D.Min., Luther Rice Seminary.
FOR THE MILLENNIUM3 COURSE
INTRODUCTION TO THE OLD TESTAMENT
OF THE OLD
Thomas R. Rodgers, D.Min.
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were
written for our learning, that we through patience
and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
I OLD TESTAMENT STRUCTURE -INTRODUCTION-Welcome
to the study of the Old Testament. As we examine this major
portion of the Word of God, what a joy it will be to watch God develop
His program for Israel and Judah from the book of Genesis through the book of Malachi. What I hope to do in this study is to share with you some truths that God has been teaching me during the past years. I believe as we look at the Old Testament it may rekindle some old fires, it may renew some old thoughts, and I trust that the Holy Spirit will illuminate the pages and enlighten your mind to share these truths with those to whom you minister.
Because of the nature of the study, it will be impossible to treat
every book and every truth in depth. It will be impossible to make the
minds of spiritual applications for every situation in the Old Testament
that we should make. We will, however, look at each book and attempt to find out where it is in the Old Testament structure, where it is in the Old Testament chronology, and why God has chosen to put it there. We will attempt to look at each book from a Biblical Theological perspective and determine the religious, social, economic, and military background in which it is placed.
I trust that as we do this together, you will begin to find new areas of
truth that you can preach and teach. I will also attempt to share some things that you have possibly never heard before. As we share these things together, I trust you will be able to make your own spiritual applications.
people about its structure in our English Bibles. As the average person begins to read from Genesis through Deuteronomy, it seems to make good sense and good chronology to him. As he continues through Joshua and Judges, he suddenly finds Ruth taking place during the period of Judges, and the chronology begins to get out of sequence. He continues through Samuel and Kings, then when he gets to Chronicles, he finds himself thrown back in time to a previous period of history. After Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, he reaches the books of poetry and, once again, is back in the times of David and Solomon. Finally, the major and minor prophets take him into the eras of the various monarchs covered by the books of Kings.
Lately, I have noticed that some of those programs which stress
reading through the Bible in one year will take the prophets and place
them back where they belong, and are beginning to take some of the
books of poetry and place them where they belong in their particular
periods of history. But for the most part, the person is asked to read
through the Old Testament sequentially, from Genesis to Malachi. When read in this way, the Old Testament is simply too difficult to be
comprehended. Actually, if we teach the Old Testament properly, we
will do so as it developed chronologically.
Groupings The first five books are known
as the Law (the Law of Moses, the Pentateuch, or the Torah).
This section includes Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers,
Deuteronomy. Following them is a group known as the historical books. These are twelve in number: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, I and II Samuel, I and II Kings, I and II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther. Then, sandwiched in the middle between two groups of seventeen, are the five books of poetry: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon.
After these come the major prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations
(written by Jeremiah), Ezekiel and Daniel; five books by four authors.
The last twelve Old Testament books are known as the minor prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.
As we look at these thirty-nine books, we see that they fall into an
orderly grouping of seventeen historical books the books of Moses and of history; five experiential books the five books of poetry; and seventeen prophetical books. Interestingly enough, the five poetic books which deal with the individual human heart and are experiential in nature, are placed right between the two groups of seventeen, at the very heart of the Old Testament. Do you think this is an accident, or do you think it was done by design?
Think of it. At least thirty writers contributed to the Old Testament.
Their lives were spaced out over at least one thousand years. They wrote in different places. They wrote to different people, to different nations, for different purposes, and during the time of their writing, they did not dream or have the least idea that besides being preserved through the generations, their writings would eventually be compiled into this systematic, organized grouping which we now call the Old Testament. Can we really believe this occurred by accident? I believe we cannot. The Old Testament is designed by God and presented to us in a manner we can understand, and it becomes for us the guide for faith and practice.
As Paul says in Romans 15:4:
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written
for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of
the Scriptures might have hope.
The Old Testament will teach us what God expects of man. It will show us the various ways in which man can respond to God. It will show us how God treats nations, what God expects from nations, and how the nations in the Old Testament reacted to God. All of this will become a learning experience for us hat we might better understand the One who has created us and called us nto His service.
HistoricalUnder these five headings (noted above), we have the history of Israel and Judah covering a time from creation, in eternity past, period to the time of Malachi at approximately 400 B.C. Actually,
covered the history of the Jewish people from Abraham through the time when Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, is contained in the books of law and history. The rest, the five books of poetry, and the seventeen major and minor prophets, are also part of this same historic setting with two exceptions: Malachi was written after the time of Nehemiah, and the events of Job may be equal to, or precede, the time of Abraham.
By the time we have read the Old Testament from Genesis through
Nehemiah, we have completed the period of history from creation to 432 B.C. When we get to Esther, the books of poetry, and the major and minor prophets, we are entering into writings that cover the same time period as the books of history. When we get this idea across to the average reader, he will better understand the design and purpose of the Old Testament.
Perspective When we examine the books of law and history, we see
that they were written for the purpose of presenting the
historical aspects of God’s program for Israel and Judah and
the Gentile nations. They were written from the perspective of the
historian, and in many cases were written after the fact. That is, the
books were written by a later author under the inspiration of the Holy
Spirit, looking back into time and recording by divine guidance God’s
program and purpose, and the activities of Israel and Judah during some preceding time period. When we get into the major and minor prophets, we are reading books written by onsite observers.
As I look at these two types, I can see the books of history as
having been written by historians. The historian is interested in facts
and figures; he is interested in sweeping events of history and how
they impacted upon the northern and southern kingdoms. When I read the prophets, I feel as though I am reading something written by an on-the-site reporter, as if I am watching satellite television and seeing a reporter or news commentator standing in Lebanon or Israel giving us an on-site evaluation of what he sees, hears, and feels. The prophet was a news analyst; God’s chosen man delivering a message and analyzing the responses of the people.
Is Our Old Testament Complete?
Is the Old Testament that we have God’s divine Word? Does the
Old Testament contain all of God’s Word as He delivered it in the Old
Testament period? Are these thirty-nine books all of the books that God inspired in Old Testament times, or are there more?
Apocrypha Some Bibles contain as many as forty-six books in the
Old Testament; books such as I and II Esdras, Tobit, Judith,
Baruch, Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, I and II Maccabees. What are
these books? There are in all some fourteen Apocryphal books. They
were written between 200 B.C. and A.D. 100, and are believed by some to be part of the inspired Word of God. Are there proofs that allow us to know for certain that the thirty-nine books in our English Bible are the complete Old Testament Word of God?
If there are more than thirty-nine, and if in fact some of these
Apocryphal books should be in our Old Testament, then we must face
several problems. For example, in Baruch 3:4, we read that God hears the prayers of the dead. Other passages would require us to accept soul sleep, purgatory, and other theological difficulties. I believe it is necessary to know beyond any doubt that our thirty-nine books contain the entire inspired Old Testament Word of God. I believe that through logic and analysis we can discover this to be true.
Hebrew Old Testament Look at Luke 24:44. This is our risen Lord speaking, and says:
And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake
unto you while I was yet with you, that all things must be
fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the
prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Law, prophets, writings (psalms), the words of our risen Lord show that He recognized the three divisions which the Jew of New Testament times referred to as “Scripture. “ The Jews of our Lord’s day recognized these three divisions as containing the entire body of Old Testament truth: the Law, the prophets, and the psalms (writings).
Hear the testimony of Flavius Josephus. Josephus was a Jewish historian, who lived from A.D. 37 to sometime after A.D. 97. He was a
priest-historian. So, in the matter of analysis of Scripture, I believe that Josephus could not have made a mistake because he was skilled and trained in knowing what his people believed to be “Scripture.” I quote from Against Apion, I, 8:
For we [that is, the Jews] have not an innumerable multitude of
books among us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another,
records of all the past times; which are justly believed to be divine;
and of them five belong to Moses, which contain his laws and the
traditions of the origin of mankind till his death. The interval of
time was little short of three thousand years; but as to the time
from the death of Moses till the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia,
who reigned after Xerxes, the prophets, who were after Moses,
wrote down what was done in their times in thirteen books. The
remaining four books contain hymns to God, and precepts for conduct
of human life. Josephus recognizes these three divisions of the Old Testament in his time, and says that this grouping was known as “Scripture.”
How can we equate our thirty-nine books with the twenty-two mentioned by Josephus?
The Jew recognized the first grouping, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus,
Numbers, Deuteronomy five books. The second grouping, called the
Prophets, as also mentioned by our Lord, contained two sections: Section one, the former prophets: Joshua, Judges and Ruth (one book), I and II Samuel (one book), I and II Kings (one book), for a total of four books.
The second section, known as the latter prophets, contained Isaiah,
Jeremiah Lamentations (one book), Ezekiel, and the Twelve (the minor prophets as one book), again a total of four books.
In the third grouping the Psalms or Writings was included:
Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel (who was not considered a prophet by the Jews, but a statesman), Ezra-Nehemiah (one book), I and II Chronicles (one book), for a total of nine books.
four in the Former Prophets, and five in the Law, for a total of twenty-two books. The twenty-two books of Josephus, the twenty-two books
contained in the three divisions of Law, Prophets, and Psalms, recognized by the Lord Jesus Himself, exactly equate with the thirty-nine books in our Old Testament. Using this logic, we find that the Apocryphal books are totally excluded from being considered part of the divine Old Testament canon.
Further Testimony There is still an additional proof that our thirty-nine
books comprise the entire Old Testament canon.
Look at Luke 11:51. Here is our Lord speaking to
of Christ the religious leaders of His day:
From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zecharias, which perished
between the altar and the temple; verily I say unto you, It shall be
required of this generation. The impact of our Lord’s statement can hardly be underestimated. The record of the martyrdom of Zechariah is contained in II Chronicles 24:20-23. This historical event took place in approximately 800 B.C. Therefore, our Lord has said that all of the blood shed from the murder of Abel, just after the creation of Adam, down to the blood of Zechariah (slain in approximately 800 B.C.) would be required of that current generation. Imagine having the blood of all these innocent men brought down upon your head!
If we look more closely at this, we will see that a problem exists.
Evidently, our Lord means to add impact to His message by including
the blood of all the prophets. Yet, if we turn to Jeremiah 26:20-23, we
will find that there was a prophet martyred at a later date than the
death of Zechariah. Urijah was a prophet slain during the time of
Jeremiah, in 600 B.C. Does our Lord not mean to include the death of
Urijah? I believe He does.
If we examine the structure of the Jewish Old Testament, we
will see that the first book, according to their structure, was Genesis
and the last was Chronicles. Just as our first is Genesis and our last is Malachi. The murder of Urijah, in the book of Jeremiah, is contained earlier in the Jewish texts than it is in ours. Therefore, our Lord’s statement ‘from Abel ... to Zecharias “ was not a chronological statement meaning “from creation to 800 B.C. “, it was a literary statement meaning “from the first death recorded in Genesis to the last death recorded in Chronicles” from the first book to the last book, the bloodshed by all the prophets in Scripture Genesis to Chronicles shall be required of this generation!
I believe that in the substructure of His thought, in a very subtle
way, the Lord Jesus is confirming to us that these twenty-two books,
Genesis to Chronicles, which are equivalent to our thirty-nine books
of Genesis to Malachi, contain the entire Word of God and can be
exclusively called “Scripture.”
OLD TESTAMENT STRUCTURE
around the terms B.C., “before Christ,” and A.D., “Anno Domini,” or
“year of our Lord.” Unfortunately, a great many people, including some Christians, believe that A.D. means “after death.” If this were the case, there would be a thirty-three year gap in our chronology.
How did the Old Testament individual understand when he lived?
Could he say, “My name is Amos and I’m living at 767 B.C.”? Could
Jeremiah have said, My name is Jeremiah. I’m living in 600 B.C.”? No. They had no idea when Christ would be born. They had a hope of the Messiah, but they could not place themselves chronologically relative to our terminology of B.C. and A.D. Therefore, they had to use more relevant means of identification. They said, “two years before the earthquake. “ They would say: “I am here during the reign of Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Jeroboam.” They would say, as did Isaiah in Isaiah 6:1: “In the year that King Uzziah died. “ They might say, as did the author of I Kings: “In the fourth year of Solomon’s reign. “ So the terminology used by Old Testament individuals, as they attempted to explain when they were present and on the scene, would be in terms of catastrophes, current events, or the regal years of the monarchs in power.
As we look back into the Old Testament, we can understand its
structure relevant to sequences and chronology. Not only do we have
genealogies and historical events which can be dated, we have an extant piece of evidence which allows us to measure Old Testament chronology against a secular historical sequence. This is the Assyrian Eponym List.
This is a list of officials after whom the years were named. It was a custom, in the time of the Assyrians, to name a year after a king, a cupbearer, a field marshal, a high chamberlain, a governor, and so on. Each solar year was given a different name. The man after whom the year was named was the Eponym and the year was the eponymous year.
Thanks to archaeology, we have a list of consecutive Eponyms
from 892 B.C. to 648 B.C. These eponym tablets list many important
events, some of which are contained in the biblical records. An
example is the Eponym list which says there was a revolt in the city
of Ashur in the month of Simanu, during which time an eclipse of
the sun took place. Astronomers know that this eclipse took place on
June 15. 763 B.C.. So we can lock into this date historically.
We now have a usable “anchor point” for dating the Old Testament.
By locking into that date and looking at the Eponyms who are listed on down through the years, we learn several important things. We can secure the date of 853 B.C. for the battle of Qarqar . We know from the Assyrian records, that it involved Shalmaneser III; that it was a battle between the Assyrians and the Syrians; and that Ahab was present at that battle. We also know that Ahab died in 853 B.C. during a battle in which he encouraged Jehoshaphat to join him against Syria (I Kings
Twelve years later there is a reference to the occasion when Jehu
gave tribute to the Assyrians. The year was 841 B.C. Scripture chronology shows exactly twelve years between the death of Ahab and the ascent of Jehu to the throne. The Assyrian eponym list shows exactly twelve years between the battle of Qarqar and the time when Jehu gave tribute to the Assyrians.
The archaeological record also bears witness to this fact with the
obelisk of Shalmaneser which details the offering or tribute which Jehu paid to the Assyrian monarch.
Also, according to Assyrian chronology, there were 152 years
between the sixth year of Shalmaneser and the time that Sennacherib invaded Jerusalem in 701 B.C. This was Hezekiah’s fourteenth year as recorded in II Kings 18:13:
Now in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah did Sennacherib king
of Assyria come up against all the fenced cities of Judah , and took
them. We now have extra-biblical evidence which will enable us to take
our biblical chronology and match it against secular chronology. Dating is no longer an exercise in guesswork. We have historical proof from extant discoveries that verify and validate the chronology as the Old Testament presents it. Our Old Testament chronology is flawless. Not only is it flawless, it is now substantiated by historical evidences.
Old Testament Dating
I believe that the study of Old Testament chronology is paramount
to our understanding of the truths contained in these thirty-nine books. Without a knowledge of chronology, without good insight as to when events took place, and of the sequences and relationships between major events, we have no comprehension of the flow of history as it is contained in the Old Testament.
The study of chronology can be exciting. I do not mean to say that
we should be so involved in such study that we become negligent in the approach to God’s Word that enriches our personal life, adds blessings to our spiritual life, and gives us the strength and power to witness to His grace and saving message. But, I believe that the study of chronology is a necessary facet of our theological education because only through a solid grasp of chronology and sequences, can we understand the flow and continuity of the Word of God. Without a knowledge of when the prophets lived, without a knowledge of when the invasions and dispersions and major military events took place, we have no way of knowing what many of the prophecies meant.