FACTS ON JOSHUA

Author

While Joshua is an anonymous work, it is reasonable to conclude that is was
composed by Joshua.  (1) There are intimate biographical details given which only
Joshua could have known.  (2)  The first person plural occurs in 5:1,6 which indicates
that the author was an eyewitness who had participated in the events.  (3)  Joshua
wrote his own farewell address (24:26), and this would indicate that he probably wrote
the whole book as well.

Later editorial work, probably by Eleazar the High Priest or his son
Phinehas, is evidenced by the inclusion of events which occurred after Joshua's death
(24:29-31, 15:13-17, 19:47).

Date of Writing

The archaic names of the Canaanite cities (15:9,13,49) and references to Sidon
(13:4-6, 19:28) are evidences for a very early date of composition.  If Joshua was
about the age of Caleb, who was 40 years old at the time of the spy mission into
Canaan (1445 B.C.), then he would have died about 1375 B.C. being 110 years old
(24:29).  The book was probably written just prior to Joshua's death, and edited shortly
thereafter.

Historical Setting

The events of the book cover about 31 years from the beginning of the conquest
(1406 B.C.) to the death of Joshua about 1375 B.C.  The crossing of the Jordan took
place in the spring of the year (3:15), 1406 B.C.

The conquest of Canaan took approximately seven years to accomplish.  Caleb
was 40 at the time the spies were sent into the land (1445 B.C.) and 85 at the time of
Joshua's division of the land (14:7-10).  Hence the final division was around 1400 B.C.,
6 or 7 years after the 1406 B.C. entrance into the land.  The elders of Israel ruled the
land until around 1375 B.C. (Josh. 24:31).  

Purpose

Joshua records how the Israelites ultimately conquered and occupied the
Promised Land, thus demonstrating God's faithfulness to His covenant promises
(Deut. 9:5).

Theme        The venture and victory of faith.

Outline

I.  THE CONQUEST OF THE LAND  1-12
II.  DIVIDING THE INHERITANCE  13-22
III.  THE FINAL CHARGE OF JOSHUA  23-24


FACTS ON JUDGES

Author

While internal evidence is lacking, Talmudic tradition attributes the book to
Samuel Internal indicators suggest that the writing was done by a contemporary
of Samuel.

Date of Writing

The following evidences suggest a date of writing sometime during the early
monarchy:  (1) The Jebusites were still living in Jerusalem, 1:21, cf. 2 Sam.
5:4-7; (2) The Canaanites were still living in Gezer, 1:29, cf. 1 Kings 9:16; (3) Sidon,
rather than Tyre, was the chief city of Phoenicia, 3:3; and (4) the references to the
absence of a king (17:6, 18:1, 21:25) point to a time when the monarchy was still
regarded as a blessing.

Historical Setting

After the death of Joshua (c. 1375 B.C.), Israel was without a national leader.
Life in Israel became increasingly chaotic due to the failure to drive out the
Canaanites, the people's involvement in Canaanite worship, and the attacks of foreign
oppressors.  In response to their prayers for deliverance, God raised up judges to
function in both a military and supervisory role in Israel (2:16, 3:9,15).

The period of the judges was characterized by religious, political, and moral
chaos, as indicated by the key verse, "In those days there was no king in Israel;
everyone did what was right in his own eyes" (17:6, 21:25).

If all the terms of service performed by the judges are totaled, they amount to
410 years.  This is about 85 years too long when one seeks to fit the period between
the conquest and the monarchy.  It appears that some of the judges were
contemporaneous (10:1-5,7).  The period of the judges covers about 325 years,
from 1375 to 1050 B.C.  

Purpose

Judges records the history of Israel's failure, thus demonstrating why
the nation was not blessed by God during this period.  

Theme    Apostasy and idolatry are inevitably followed by judgment from the Lord.

Outline

I.  THE CAUSES OF ISRAEL'S APOSTASY  1:1-3:4
II.  THE CYCLES OF ISRAEL'S APOSTASY  3:5-16:31
III.  THE CULMINATION OF ISRAEL'S APOSTASY  17-21


FACTS ON RUTH

Author

Talmudic tradition attributes the book to Samuel (Baba Bathra 14b).  This,
however, is unlikely in that the concluding genealogy implies that David was well known
at the time of writing.  The book is anonymous and its author unknown.

Date of Writing

The book appears to have been written during David's reign (1010-970
B.C.).  It could not have been written earlier than the time of king David since he is
mentioned by name (4:22), unless the genealogy was added later.  Had the book been
written after the time of David, his famous son Solomon would have probably been
listed among Ruth's descendants.

Historical Setting

The events of the book transpired sometime during the period of the judges
(1375-1050 B.C.).  This was a time of political, religious, and moral chaos (Judg.
21:25).  The political chaos is seen in the seven cycles of apostasy which resulted in
Israelite oppression by foreign powers.  The religious chaos is seen in the person of
Micah who set up his own house priest instead of going to worship at Shiloh (Judges
17).  The moral chaos is illustrated in the homosexuality, degeneracy, and abuse of the
Levite's concubine recorded in Judges.  The book of Ruth is an oasis of fidelity
in a time of idolatry, sin, and infidelity.  

Purpose

The book relates an episode in the ancestry of David which accounted for the
non-Israelite in his family line.  The theological purpose of the book is to show the
place of the spirit of the law over the letter of the law, illustrating that the
exception of the law is based on faith and loyalty to God.

Theme        Redemption requires a kinsman-redeemer.

Outline

I.  RUTH'S CHOICE FOR NAOMI  1          
II.  RUTH'S CHANCE TO GLEAN  2            
III.  RUTH'S CLAIM ON A KINSMAN  3           
IV.  RUTH'S CONCEPTION OF OBED  4            


FACTS ON 1 & 2 SAMUEL

Title

The two-fold division of the book was first introduced into the Hebrew text by the
Venetian printer, Daniel Bomberg, in his first edition of the Hebrew Bible, dated ____.
The book is named for Samuel, the principal character of the early narratives.

Author

Talmudic tradition attributes 1 Sam. 1-25 to Samuel. The rest of the book
may have been composed by Nathan and Gad, as perhaps indicated in 1 Chron. 29:29.

Date of Writing

There are indications that parts of the book would have been written after the
death of Samuel (1 Sam. 25:1, 28:13) and after the division of the kingdom (1 Sam.
27:6).  The author seems to be ignorant of the fall of Samaria, and so it is reasonable to
date the book between 931 and 722 B.C.

Historical Setting

The events of the books of Samuel cover the period from the ministry of Eli to
the close of David's reign.  Taking 931 B.C. as the date of the division of the kingdom,
the following dates for Israel's first three kings may be calculated:

Saul                 40 years (Acts 13:21)                1050-1010 B.C.
David               40 years (2 Sam. 5:4)                1010-970  B.C.
Solomon          40 years (1 Kings 11:42)              970-931 B.C.

Samuel's date of birth may be determined by the fact that he had sons old enough to be
judges in Beersheba (1 Sam. 8:1-2) before Saul began to reign in 1050 B.C.  This
places Samuel's birth around 1100 B.C., just prior to the outbreak of Ammonite and
Philistine oppression and the birth of Samson.  

Purpose

The book provides an official account of the ministry of Samuel along with the
rise and development of the monarchy.  The book is intended to show the
sovereignty of God as He raises up, removes, and commands the rulers of
Israel.

Theme   "The establishment of the kingdom of Israel."

Resource  J. Carl Laney, First and Second Samuel.  Moody Press, 1982.

Outline of 1 Samuel                                        Outline of 2 Samuel

I.  THE MINISTRY OF SAMUEL  1-7              I.  THE TRIUMPHS OF DAVID 1-10
II.  THE REIGN OF SAUL  8-15                     II.  THE TROUBLES OF DAVID 11-20
III.  THE RISE OF DAVID  16-31                   III.  THE APPENDIX TO DAVID’S


FACTS ON 1 & 2 kINGS

Author

Talmudic tradition asserts that Jeremiah was the author of Kings (Baba
Bathra 15a).  Since the author writes from a consistently prophetic standpoint and is a
man of literary ability, it is possible that Jeremiah or his contemporary authored the
book.  

Date of Writing

The author relied upon sources dating from as early as the reign of Solomon (1
Kings 11:41).  The final composition took place after the fall of Jerusalem, probably
early in the exilic period (586-580 B.C.).  On the other hand, the frequently recurring
phrase, "unto this day" (1 Kings 8:8) may suggest a pre-exilic perspective.

Historical Setting

Kings contains a record of the kings of Israel and Judah from the death of David
(970 B.C.) to the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.

The early part of this period is paralleled by the growth of the great Neo-
Assyrian Empire (c. 900-612 B.C).  With the decline of the Assyrian Empire, Babylon
inherited most of the Assyrian territory.  The Babylonian Empire commenced with the
alliance of the Medes and the Babylonians in 626 B.C. and ended in 539 B.C. when
Cyrus captured the city of Babylon.

Religiously, the period began with the construction of the Solomonic temple, but
idolatry soon became prominent among both rulers and people.  Judah had 19 kings, 8
of which were evil.  Israel had 19 kings also, but all of them were evil!

Purpose

The purpose of Kings is (1) to record the history of the kingdom from Solomon to
the Babylonian captivity, and (2) to show how each ruler functioned in relationship to
his covenant responsibilities.

Theme  The blessings of obedience and cursings of disobedience.  

Outline

I.  The United Kingdom Under Solomon  1 Kings 1-11
II.  The Divided Kingdoms of Israel and Judah  1 K 12 - 2 K 17
III.  The Solitary Kingdom of Judah  2 Kings 18-25


FACT ON 1 & 2 CHRONICLES

Author

Talmudic tradition assigns the book to Ezra.  As a scribe (Ezra 7:6) and
spiritual leader during the Restoration, no one would be more qualified to write the
book.

Date of Writing

Internal evidence points to a period between 450 and 425 B.C. as the date of
writing.  The close relationship between Chronicles and Ezra, both of which recount the
decree of Cyrus, seems to indicate that the two books were one consecutive history (cf.
2 Chron. 36:22-23, Ezra 1:1-3), composed after 450 B.C.  

Historical Setting

The Books of Chronicles comprise a history of the Hebrew people from Adam to
the time of Cyrus providing material paralleling Genesis through Kings with the first two
verses of Ezra forming the conclusion to Chronicles.  The historical period covered by
the books extends from the death of Saul (1010 B.C.) until the decree of Cyrus (538
B.C.).

The religious community under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah between
450 and 425 B.C. is the background of the book.  Nehemiah 8-10 records how the
Feast of Tabernacles was observed in an unprecedented manner in Jerusalem.  It may
have been at that or a similar occasion that Ezra provided the people with an account
of their past which gave them a religious and political background for the re-
established Jewish state.  

Purpose

The purpose of Chronicles is to review the history of the nation of Israel showing
God's blessing on obedience and judgment on disobedience.  This record is designed
to give the Jewish remnant a spiritual foundation on which to rebuild the nation.  

Theme

The blessings of obedience and cursings of disobedience.  

Outline

I.  THE GENEALOGIES FROM ADAM TO DAVID  1 Chron. 1-9
ii.  THE HISTORY OF DAVID'S REIGN  10-29
iii.  THE HISTORY OF SOLOMON'S REIGN  2 Chron. 1-9
IV. THE HISTORY OF THE KINGS OF JUDAH  10-36


FACTS ON EZRA

Author

Ezra the priest and scribe compiled and authored the book of Ezra as indicated
by his use of the first person (7:28-9:15).  The style and approach, as well as
the verbal link between Chronicles and Ezra indicates that these two works were
authored by the same person.

Date of Writing

Ezra ministered during the reign of Artaxerxes I Longimanus, king of Persia
(464-424 B.C.).  The book of Ezra was completed before Chronicles, probably between
450 and 430 B.C.

Historical Setting

As the Old Testament prophets had predicted the captivity, so they predicted the
return to the land.  Jeremiah prophesied that the nation would serve seventy years
of captivity in the land of Babylon (Jer. 25:11-12, 29:10).  After Babylon fell to Persia
(539 B.C.) through God's sovereign use of His servant Cyrus, the way was prepared for
the restoration of the Jews.

In 538 B.C., Cyrus issued a decree providing for a renewal of the worship of
Yahweh in Jerusalem and the return of the exiles to Judah (Ezra 1:1-4).  In 537 B.C.
a group of Jews returned under the leadership of the prince of Judah, Sheshbazzar
(Ezra 1:8).  The temple was eventually rebuilt and completed in 515 B.C.  The following
chart provides a brief summary of the Restoration Period:

 1st        537 B.C.        Sheshbazzar           To build the temple          Ezra 1-6

 2nd       458 B.C.        Ezra                        To establish worship        Ezra 7-10

 3rd        444 B.C.        Nehemiah               To rebuild the walls          Nehemiah

Purpose

Ezra was written to record the events of the first and second return of the Jews
to Judah in fulfillment of the prophecy of Jeremiah (Jer. 25:11, 29:10).

Theme        The faithfulness of Yahweh to fulfill His promises.

Resource        J. Carl Laney, Ezra-Nehemiah, Moody Press, 1982.

Outline

I.  THE FIRST RETURN UNDER SHESHBAZZAR  1-6

II.  THE SECOND RETURN UNDER EZRA  7-10


FACTS ON NEHEMIAH

Author

The author of the book was Nehemiah, as indicated by the use of the first person
throughout the narrative.  There is little reason not to regard this work as the authentic
memoirs of Nehemiah, the renowned civil leader of Judea during the
Restoration.  

Date of Writing

Nehemiah ministered during the reign of Artaxerxes I (464-424 B.C.).  His later
reforms (13:4-31) came after a brief stay in Babylon in 432 B.C. (13:6) and his memoirs
were probably written shortly thereafter, around 430 to 425 B.C.

Historical Setting

The book of Nehemiah covers a period of about fifteen years from 444 B.C. to
around 430 B.C. when Nehemiah returned from Persia for his second governorship.
Nehemiah was the cup-bearer for Artaxerxes, king of Persia (464-424 B.C.) and
received the king's permission to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the city walls (Neh. 2:1-8).
The third return of the exiles under Nehemiah took place in the twentieth year of
Artaxerxes (Neh. 2:1) or 432.  

Nehemiah is reported to have left Jerusalem to visit Artaxerxes in Babylon
during the thirty-second year of his reign (Neh. 13:6) or 432 B.C.  It was probably
during Nehemiah's absence that Malachi prophesied, for many of the evils he
denounced are found to be prominent in the later reforms of Nehemiah (13:4-31).  

Nehemiah's primary achievements include rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem
(6:15), and bringing about civil and religious reform (13:4-31).  

Purpose

The book was written to record the events of the third return under Nehemiah,
and to give the date of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem (444 B.C.) which marks the
beginning of Daniel's seventy weeks (Dan. 9:25).

Theme     The rebuilding of the wall and renewing of the covenant.  

Resource  J. Carl Laney, Ezra-Nehemiah, Moody Press, 1982.

Outline

I.  THE RESTORATION OF THE CITY WALLS  1-7
II.  THE REFORMATION OF THE PEOPLE  8-13


FACTS ON ESTHER

Author

The book of Esther is an anonymous work.  It was attributed by the Talmud to
the men of the Great Synagogue (Baba Bathra 15a).  Josephus, on the other hand,
held that Mordecai authored the book (Antiquities. XI. 184-303, cf. Esther 9:20,23).
The author demonstrates an intimate knowledge of Persian customs and was probably
an eyewitness of the events recorded.  

Date of Writing

Internal evidence (10:1-2) indicates that Ahasuerus died before the book was
written.  The earliest date for the writing would be the death of Xerxes I (464 B.C.) and
the latest date would be 330 B.C. for there is no trace of Greek language or thought in
the book.  The book of Esther was probably compiled between 450 and 350 B.C.

Historical Setting

The events of Esther took place during the reign of king Ahasuerus of Persia
who is commonly associated with Xerxes I (486-464 B.C.).  More specifically, the
events of the narrative cover a ten year period dating from the third year of Ahasuerus
(483 B.C.) to the Feast of Purim in the twelfth year of the king (473 B.C.).  Sixteen
years after the Feast of Purim (458 B.C.) Ezra led his expedition back to Jerusalem
(Ezra 7:8-9).  Thus, the events of the book best fit between Ezra 6 and 7.  

The events recorded in Esther took place in the city of Susa (Shushan)
located at the foot of the Zagros mountains 150 miles north of the Perisan Gulf.  Susa
became the winter capital of the Persian kings after the rule of Cyrus.  The city is noted
for its royal palace begun by Darius I and enlarged and adorned by later kings.

Purpose

The primary purpose of the book is to relate the origin of the Feast of Purim
(3:7, 9:24,26).  It was also intended to encourage the Jewish people by illustrating the
providence of God in delivering and preserving His people in dispersion.

Theme

The sovereignty of God in preserving His people (Psa. 121:4).

Outline

I.  THE REMOVAL OF VASHTI  1
II.  THE SELECTION OF ESTHER  2
III.  THE PLOT OF HAMAN  3
IV.  THE DECISION OF ESTHER  4
V.  THE INTERCESSION OF ESTHER  5-7
VI.  THE EDICT OF DELIVERANCE  8
VII.  THE INSTITUTION OF PURIM  9
VIII.  THE GREATNESS OF THE KING AND MORDECAI  10
Historical Books
Joshua - Esther