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. • In chapters 1-7, Nehemiah recounts the events of his temporary return to Jerusalem from Persia as governor. Nehemiah leads and directs the project; each family built the section of the wall directly in front of their houses, and with hard work, the wall was astonishingly completed within 52 days. This method allowed the remnant to feel an identity and uniqueness in their part of repairing the walls of Jerusalem. “So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations surrounding us saw it, they lost their confidence; for they recognized that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God” (6:15-16). • From Chapters, 8-13 is a time of Israel finding and reestablishing themselves again as a nation, after the long period of the exile in Babylon. Ezra leads all the Jews in a renewal ceremony. This incorporated a public teaching of the Law, in which it was read and explained. For example, the recognition of the Sabbath Day was reinstated. “And all the people gathered as one man at the square which was in front of the Water Gate, and they asked Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses which the LORD had given to Israel” (8:1). They understood that if they were to survive they must remember and obey God’s Laws. Nehemiah establishes polices and address the issue of mixed marriages then condemns it. One of the main concerns was that the mixed marriage families were not teaching their children the Hebrew language, “the language of Judah” (13:24).
The genre of the book of Esther is Narrative History. Its author is anonymous however; some believe Mordecai, (Esther’s cousin and guardian), wrote it. It was written approximately 470 B.C. in Persia. Esther became queen in 479 B.C. The key personalities are Esther, Mordecai, King Ahasuerus (or Xerxes), and Haman. Its purpose is to demonstrate God’s love and sovereignty in all circumstances. It is a post-exile story about Jews who stayed behind after most returned to Jerusalem after the captivity. Babylon was conquered by Persia and Esther miraculously becomes the queen of the land and saves her people. • In chapter 1-2, Esther becomes the queen to Ahasuerus of Persia. She was personally chosen by the King. “The king loved Esther more than all the women, and she found favor and kindness with him” (2:17), probably because of her beauty and intelligence. • Chapters 3-4, Mordecai (Esther’s guardian) refused to bow down and pay homage to Haman a high official of the king. Haman becomes infuriated and plots to destroy all the Jews in the kingdom because of his pride. Mordecai hears of the plot and reports it to his Esther. “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” (4:14). • From chapters 5-10, Esther outwits Haman and takes her petition to the king and pleas for the protection of her Jewish people from Haman’s wicked stratagem. The king out of anger, has Haman hung on the gallows, which he had built to destroy all the Jews. Esther’s faith and courage save her people.
The book of Job is Narrative History. Its author is unknown yet it is possible that Job himself wrote it. It is possible that Job is the oldest of any book of the Bible written approximately 2100-1800 B.C. Key personalities of this book include Job, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, Zophar the Naamathite, and Elihu the Buzite. The book of Isaiah is Narrative History, Prophetic Oracle, and even a Parable (chapter 5). The prophet Isaiah wrote it at approximately 700 B.C. (Chapters 40-66, written later in his life approx. 681 B.C.).
Isaiah is the first book in the section called Major Prophets. They are called Major Prophets because of the large amount of material they wrote not because their message was more important than any other prophets was. Key personalities are Isaiah, his two sons, Shearjashub, and Maher-shalal-jash-baz. Isaiah contains some of the most incredible prophecies of any book. It contains foreknowledge, in incredible detail about the Messiah, and the future reign of Jesus Christ. The purpose of the book of Isaiah was to call God’s nation, the nation of Judah, back to faithfulness and to declare the coming Messiah “Immanuel”. God calls and commissions His prophet to declare to Judah and Israel condemnation, conviction, and ultimately great hope. • In Chapters 1-39, Isaiah points out the sins of both North and South Kingdoms. He then declares severe punishment to them and all the neighboring nations around them, “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight Cease to do evil” (1:16). He proclaims great hope of the coming Savior, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel” (7:14), this passage was fulfilled in Matthew 1:22-24, in the New Testament. • Chapters 40-55, speak of the return and restoration after the exile from Babylon. Isaiah repeatedly claims the premise, “There is no God beside Me” (44:6,8; 45:5,6,14,18,21). There is also another foretelling of the Messiah, who will come and bring new life through His death, “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth” (53:7). • In chapters 56-66, Isaiah writes of the new Heavens and Earth, This is that great reward for all those who trust and obey God. He proclaims the hope for the afflicted and judgment for the evil. “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things will not be remembered or come to mind” (65:17).
The book of Habakkuk is Narrative History and displays Prophetic Oracle. Habakkuk wrote it approximately 612-589 B.C. just before the fall of Judah in the Southern Kingdom. Key personalities are Habakkuk and the Babylonians. As is true of the many other prophets, Habakkuk is a short book. The information in it was vital since it carried God’s message to His people. Its purpose was that Habakkuk was announcing a familiar message of judgment. He was identifying the wickedness and sin of Judah before them. Habakkuk declared that God is the “Rock” (1:2) and that they would be judged. • In chapters 1-2, Habakkuk poses some difficult questions to God. He was wondering why evil was prevailing. God claimed that He would do amazing things that, “you would not believe if you were told” (1:5). All of the surrounding neighbors who were superpowers at that time would fall in ruin, as no one expected. Babylon was a growing empire that would rule over everything, for a time. In chapter two, God answers Habakkuk’s question. He urges everyone to be patient and ultimately trust in Him. ”Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; but the righteous will live by his faith” (2:4). • Chapter 3, Habakkuk gives God the glory and praise for faithfully responding to his questions, “LORD, I have heard the report about You and I fear. O LORD, revive Your work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years, make it known; in wrath remember mercy” (3:2).