The Historical Books

In the Christian Canon, the “Historical Books” are the 12 books of the Old Testament that follow the Torah, or the Pentateuch. These books include, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther. These books tell the story of Israel’s conquest of the Promise Land, Israel’s downward spiral, Israel’s civil war, Israel and Judah’s exile, and Judah’s return from Exile. The Historical Books move us along in the plot of Yahweh’s relationship with the fickle Israel. We can trace and understand the plot by looking at God’s promises to Israel in Deuteronomy:

“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today…then you shall live and multiply and the Lord your God will bless you…But if your hearts turn away, and you will not heart, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish…” (Deuteronomy 30:15-18).

In these books, we will see Israel only partially take hold of the Promise Land, we will see them give into the temptation of the Canaanites, and we will see the nation itself become severed. The Historical Books point towards a desperate need for a Messiah and Deliverer. As you read, be on the lookout for the ways Israel will fail and sin, the ways Yahweh will stay faithful to His word, and scattered stories of redemption.

The Historical Books include many disturbing stories. The Resources below are there to help you tackle what you’ll read throughout this (often difficult) portion of scripture. Likewise, you’ll find brief study guides for every book that can help you piece together the small stories and the big picture.