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Quick Intro to the Bible

Quick Intro to New Testament

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Brief Overview of

The History


You will remember that at the end of the last section, Moses had brought his people out of slavery in Egypt, given them the Law from God, and had led them through the desert to the Promised Land . . . well, almost. 


Moses has now died, and his successor, Joshua, is the one to lead his people on the last leg of the journey and settle them in to the Promised Land.  And that’s what the first book of this section is all about.




Old Testament Links:


*  Bible Intro


*  Pentateuch


*  The History


*  Poetry & Wisdom


*  The Prophets



To get into Canaan, the people had to cross the Jordan River, and here we find another story of a miraculous water-crossing, similar to the crossing of the Red Sea in Exodus, where the people actually crossed on dry land again. 


If you have ever heard of the Battle of Jericho, where the walls came tumbling down, well . . . here’s where that story fits in.  Plus many more amazing battle stories as Joshua leads his people through the Promised Land.


Excavating the walls of Jericho



By and large, the general ‘law and order’ of God’s people was maintained by the priests, the Levites, who were the official keepers of The Law.  But after the death of Joshua, there was often a need for a military-style leader to fight off invaders or to put down border skirmishes etc.  These leaders were known as Judges, and were raised up by God on an ad-hoc basis when the need arose.  In this book, we read of a succession of twelve of them, and two of the more famous of them were Gideon and Samson. 


The Blinding of Samson

by Rembrandt


3.  RUTH

The Book of Ruth is a delightful love story.  It is set during the times of the Judges (the previous story), and provides a beautiful insight into the rural life and culture of that period.


4.     1 & 2  SAMUEL

These two books were originally one continuous scroll which was later divided into two parts because of the length.  Hence the strange names.


1 Samuel tells the story of the prophet Samuel, and the story of Israel’s very first king – King Saul.


2 Samuel tells the story of Israel’s next king – King David.  This was the godly young man who began life as a shepherd, killed a gigantic Philistine called Goliath with a sling-shot, rose to become Israel’s greatest king, wrote many of the Psalms, established Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but also badly fell from grace at one point.


5.     1 & 2  KINGS

Regarding the names of these books – ditto the above.


1 Kings tells the story of Israel’s third king – King Solomon.  This was the king who built the first magnificent temple to God in Jerusalem on the site where the Islamic Dome of the Rock now stands.  Solomon began his reign wisely and became famous for his wisdom but the book also recounts the disastrous effect his 700 wives and 300 concubines had on his wisdom!


2 Kings tells the story of what happened to Israel after King Solomon’s death.  Bad leadership caused civil war, and the nation virtually split into two countries.  The southern area became known as Judah, and the northern area retained the name Israel.


The sad story describes the struggles between north and south; the dispersal of the northern tribes by Assyria (these became known as the Lost Tribes); and the later exile of the southern tribes into Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar. 




Divided Kingdom

Click on map to enlarge


6.     1 & 2  Chronicles

Again, regarding the name – ditto the above.


These two books contain a shortened re-telling (or chronicling) of the events contained in 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings, and the stories mostly concern the southern kingdom of Judah.



7.  EZRA

It is now seventy years later, and during those seventy years God’s people lived in exile in Babylon while Jerusalem had lain in ruins after Nebuchadnezzar had ransacked the city and destroyed their precious Jewish Temple built by Solomon.


The Book of Ezra records the events of the first two waves of people who returned to Jerusalem after the Exile. 


1)       A man named Zerubbabel led the first group home, and was responsible for the rebuilding of the Temple.

2)       Ezra led the second group home, and was responsible for rebuilding the spirituality of the people, and bringing them back to a life centred around God.





This is the continuation of the account of the ‘home-coming’ from Babylon back to Jerusalem.  Nehemiah led the third group home, and was responsible for the massive task of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem to secure the city.  The story tells of all the sly opposition and intrigue he faced, and how his strong leadership helped pull his people back to God. 




This beautiful story takes place in Persia just after the Exile.  Esther was a little exiled Hebrew orphan girl who later became Queen of Persia and bravely thwarted a planned holocaust of her people.  (Jewish people today still celebrate her triumph in their annual festival of Purim, and each year the Book of Esther is read aloud.)




Congratulations!  You have just completed the second section of the bible – The History.


And this is about as far as the Old Testament history goes in the biblical account of God’s people.  Everything else in the Old Testament actually fits in and around what you have already read.


To make things easier, take a quick peek at the schematic diagram on the left.  When you open it up you will see that everything you have just read about has been placed into a time-line.  If you look at it for a moment or two it will make the general shape of the ancient Jewish history far clearer.  You don’t have to try and remember anything.  From here on, the chart will be readily available to you at each stage of the journey, so just a quick glance now and then will help you to easily make sense of the overall picture.


And now it’s time again to quickly review the Old Testament ‘Contents’ Page on the left.  Open it up to see how far through the Bible we have come, and what happens next.


If you would like a simplified way of looking at the next section, the Poetry and Wisdom literature, just click the ‘button’ below and we’ll go through a bit more.



Schematic Diagram

Old Testament Story

Click diagram for PDF enlargement



Books of the

Old Testament

Click on chart to enlarge





Brief overview of the

Poetry & Wisdom Literature

Click Here