Neviim- the Prophets
The Early Prophets: Life in Israel and Exile
The Prophets starts with the Book of Joshua (Yehoshua), which begins
right after Moses’ (Moshe) death. The
book then discusses the conquest and division of the land of Israel, detailing
of the wars with the Canaanites and other nations. The book closes with Joshua echoing his
teacher Moshe exhorting the Jews to continue serving G-d and warning of what
could happen in the future if they do not.
Judges discusses Jewish history from Joshua until
the first king of Israel. The Judges
included Othniel, Ehud, Deborah, Gideon, Jephtah, Samson, Shamgar, Tola, Jair,
Ibzan, Elon and Abdon as well as Avimelech.
All of these Judges served as judges in matters regarding civil and
criminal law. However, the first six
judges functioned more as leaders rather than as judges. The book closes with the tribe of Dan
conquering more territory and a war between the tribe of Benjamin and the other
tribes which nearly caused the tribe to cease to exist.
The Book of Samuel (Shmuel) discusses the life of
Samuel, the greatest of the prophets after Joshua as well as the first two
kings of Israel, Saul (Sha’ul) and David.
The book is divided into two parts.
The first part opens with the birth of Samuel, his first prophesies and
the command to anoint a king. Then the
book discusses how Samuel found Saul, anointed him and his reign until he
violates G-d command to destroy the Amalekites and is told by Samuel that he will
lose the kingship to someone else. The
second half of the book speaks of David’s rise to power, reign and the
difficulties he endured with various rebellions against him as well as other
bits of information about him that are unconnected to his reign.
The last book of the Early Prophets is the Book of
Kings, or Melachim. This book details of
the historical information about the kings of Judea and Samaria, beginning with
Solomon until Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian subjugation of the Jews and
exile into Babylonia, Media and Persia. Some of the well-known kings mentioned include
Hezekiah and Ahab. The book of Kings
also discusses the actions of the Prophets Elijah (Eliyahu) and his student
Elisha, such as the events on Mt. Carmel and Elisha’s curing of Naaman from
leprosy. It also mentions a few of the
The Later Prophets: Destruction and Redemption
The Later Prophets opens with the Book of Isaiah (Yeshayahu). The Book of Isaiah contains predictions of
the destruction of the First Temple in shocking detail throughout the first
half of the book, up until around Chapter 40.
The second half of the book consists of prophesies of redemption and the
ingathering of the Jewish Diaspora.
The book of Jeremiah (Yirmiyahu), like his
predecessor Isaiah, contains warnings regarding the Temple’s destruction as
well as prophesies of consolation and redemption. Jeremiah’s warnings were more imminent; he
witnessed the Temple’s destruction. This
book also details the historical events that took place immediately following
the destruction and exile.
Ezekiel, also known as Yechezkel , warned of the
destruction, although Ezekiel focused more on the deeds of the people and
urging them to repent and avoid punishment.
Ezekiel also witnessed the destruction, but unlike Jeremiah, he
accompanied the Jews into exile.
Ezekiel’s opening prophesy of the “Divine Chariot” is used as the source
for much of Jewish mysticism. His book
closes with a detailed description of the third temple that would be built
during the Messianic Age.
The Twelve Short Books of Prophesy
The Twelve Short Books, known in Hebrew as Trei Asar, are shorter
prophesies that for the most part echo those prophesies of Ezekiel, Jeremiah
and Isaiah. In fact, many of these
prophets were contemporaries of well known prophets. For example, Obadiah is known to have been
around during Elijah’s lifetime. Amos
and Isaiah were contemporaries who warned the kingdoms of Samaria and Judea
about destruction. The most famous
prophet in this group is Jonah. The
prophets in Trei Asar include, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Johan, Micah,
Nachum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi. Malachi was the last prophet, whose prophesy
was an exhortation to follow the Torah until the Messianic Age arrives.