Category Archives: Bible Study

Bible study topics

ESTHER

TITLE
The Hebrew name for Esther is Hadassah, meaning “Myrtle.” The name Esther is probably derived from
the Persian word “Ester,” meaning “Star,” or “Stara.” The title is for the heroine and main character of
the book, Esther.

AUTHOR
Controversial. Jewish tradition names Ezra, Mordecai, and other men of the Great Synagogue as possible
authors.

DATE
@ 475 BC. Chronologically, the book predates both the book of Ezra and Nehemiah by about 30 years.
Some believe Esther made the work of Ezra and Nehemiah possible. Persian King Ahasuerus, or Xerxes (@
460 BC), prepared for an expedition against Greece, fighting against Thermopylae and Salamis (@ 460
BC). Ahasuerus deposed Vashti as Queen in @ 462 BC and married Esther in @ 458 BC after returning
from his expedition against Greece (Esther 1:3; 2:16).

THEME

  • History of the salvation of the nation of Judah.
  • Record and explanation of the feast of Purim.
  • Record of an inspiring story of specific people of God.
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NEHEMIAH

TITLE
The title is from the Hebrew Nehem-yah, “Comfort of God.” The name is derived from the main character,
Nehemiah.

AUTHOR
Jewish tradition states Ezra wrote the book, compiling the memoirs or dairy of Nehemiah into a book or
manuscript.

DATE
@ 424 BC. The book spans about 11 to 15 years beginning with the time Nehemiah was appointed Governor
(@ 445-444 BC) through the secession of the Samaritans (@ 430 BC).

THEME

  • History of Nehemiah in Babylon and his twelve years as Governor in Judah (chapters 1-7)
  • Record of events in lives of Ezra and Nehemiah (8-10)
  • Six important listings of Jewish exiles who came back to Jerusalem (11:1-12:26)
  • Record of the dedication of the walls
  • Record of reforms made by Nehemiah during his second governorship in Judah
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EZRA

TITLE
The title is from the Aramaic form of the Hebrew Ezer, “Help,” or “God helps.”

AUTHOR
Jewish tradition states the book was written by Ezra (note use of “I” in chapters 7-10).

DATE
@ 450 BC. It was probably written from Palestine. It can be divided into two sections. Section 1 (chapters 1-6) deals with the period from the arrival of Zerubbabel and his party in Jerusalem (@ 538 BC) to the dedication of the temple (@ 516-515 BC). Section 2 (chapters 7-10) records the arrival of Ezra and his party and his activities in Jerusalem (@ 458-457 BC). A 60 year gap lies between the two sections. The events of the book took place during this time (@ 473 BC).

THEME
The return of the Jews from exile (2:1-70).
The rebuilding of the temple (3:1-6:22).
Difficulties Israel faced in separating themselves from the heathen world who lived around
Jerusalem (9:1-10:44).

NOTE:
The books of Ezra and Nehemiah were originally considered one book (verses numbered from Ezra 1:1 through the last verse of Nehemiah). This combined book was known as The Book of Ezra, and sometimes referred to as Second Ezdress. It was not until the fourth century AD that these books began to be called Ezra and Nehemiah.

Ezra completed his mission (chapters 7-10), and probably retired somewhat from an active public life. After that, Ezra was called to read the book of the Law (Torah) to the people at a public gathering on the Feast of Trumpets (8:1-8). Again, at the dedication of the wall, Ezra, as the spiritual leader of the people, headed one of the processions (12:36).

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1 & 2 CHRONICLES

TITLE
The Hebrew title is Dibre Hayyamim, “The words of the days,” or loosely, “The events of the times.” The LXX derives its title from the Latin Vulgate, titled, “Liber Chronicorum,” meaning “Events of days,” or “Annuals.” The LXX divided the one book into two books in @ 294-289 BC.

AUTHOR
Jewish tradition states Chronicles was started by Ezra (credited with compiling the public records kept during Kings) and completed by Nehemiah.

DATE
@ 537 BC. The book spans from @ 1279-461 BC. 2 Chronicles concludes with Cyrus’ proclamation, issued in the first year of his reign. The book could not have been written prior to that year (@ 537 BC).

THEME
Genealogical overview of Israel’s leaders.
Partial history of the Kingdom of Judah

NOTE: The book is recorded from a religious or priestly point of view. The traditional view is that Ezra is the author or final compiler of the public records kept during the reign of the Kings.

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1 & 2 KINGS

TITLE
The Hebrew title is Sepher Melachim, “Book of Kings,” or “And the King.” These books were originally only one book. The LXX divided 1 and 2 Samuel into 1 and 2 Kings and Kings became 3 and 4 Kings.

AUTHOR
Unknown. Jewish tradition names Jeremiah as the author. The author must have been living at the end of the monarch reign of Judah (@ 585 BC). Several records of the events in Kings were available to the author including The Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah (1 Kings 14:19), The Chronicles of King David (1 Chronicles 27:24), and The Chronicles of Samuel the Seer (1 Chronicles 29:29). Isaiah was probably the chief recorder (2 Chronicles 32:32).

DATE
@ 970-560 BC. The book spans the approximate four hundred and ten years from the end of King David’s reign to the captivity of Judah.

THEME
Chronicle of the height of Israel’s monarchial period, the division of the kingdom, fall of Samaria (Israel, Northern Kingdom), history of Judah (Southern Kingdom).

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1 & 2 SAMUEL

TITLE
The Hebrew title is Shemuel, “Name of God,” or “Asked of God.” Both 1 and 2 Samuel are titled after the prophet Samuel, the book’s main character.

AUTHOR
Unknown. 1 Chronicles 29:29 shows Samuel wrote at least part of the book. Jewish tradition states Samuel wrote 1 Samuel 1-24; Nathan and Gad were the other probable authors.

DATE
@ 1097-967 BC. The book spans about 130 years from the birth of Samuel to the death of King David.

THEME
History of Israel during the latter judges.
Government from the judges to the monarchy.
Israel becomes a Theocratic Kingdom.
Significant episodes in lives of Saul and David.
Background of the people through whom Messiah would come.

NOTE:
Samuel, used to anoint Saul and David, was known as the “King-maker.” The two books were originally combined into one. The probable reason for the LXX considering the book as two separate books was the necessity of two scrolls to hold all the material. This was also the case with 1 and 2 Kings , and 1 and 2 Chronicles.

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RUTH

TITLE
The Hebrew title is Reeiut, “Friendship,” “Association,” or “Companion.” “Ruth” is probably a Moabite derivation.

AUTHOR
Unnamed. Jewish tradition states Samuel was the probable author.

DATE
@ 1007 BC. The book is set during the time of the judges (Ruth 1:1), but was probably written during the reign of King David. (David’s genealogy is mentioned in 4:17,22 but Solomon is not mentioned, therefore, it was probably written before the time of Solomon and after David was ordained king.)

THEME

  • Historical recording of the ancestry of King David to account for the introduction of non-Israelite blood into the royal line as a type of Gentiles access to God, showing God’s grace.
  • Introduction to function of the “Goel” kinsman-red
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    JUDGES

    TITLE
    The Hebrew title is Shophetim, and the LXX is “Kritai.” Both titles are derived from the book’s content, judges.

    AUTHOR
    Jewish tradition and the Talmud (Baba Bathra 14b) state Samuel wrote the book.

    DATE
    @ 1000 BC. The book was compiled and completed during the reign of King Saul from various records written during the period of the Judges. The time span is @ 1420-1088, covering from Joshua’s death at age 110 (Joshua 1:1) through the end of the Judges of Israel.

    THEME

  • History of Israel during the period of the Judges (recording results of disobedience and breaking the covenant).
  • “Doing your own thing” (17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25) brings about confusion and anarchy.
  • NOTE:
    The Judges were executive leaders, governors, and military men God used to lead and deliver Israel from foreign threats. These men and women “judged” day-to-day matters of the nation of Israel. Judges had authority only over limited geographical areas, not over all of Israel.

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    JOSHUA

    TITLE
    The Hebrew title is Yehoshua, “Eternal is Saviour,” or “Salvation.” The LXX title is “Yesus,” or “Jesus.” Joshua was first called Oshea or Hoshea (Numbers 13:16) which means “salvation.”

    AUTHOR
    Joshua (24:26). Jewish tradition states that Joshua wrote the book (Talmud, Baba Bartra 14b).

    DATE
    @ 1445-1420 BC. The book spans about twenty-five years from the death of Moses to the death of Joshua (24:29).

    THEME

  • Be strong and of a good courage (1:5-7,9,18; Deuteronomy 31:1-4; 6-7).
  • Recounting of Israel’s battles against seemingly overwhelming odds.
  • NOTE:
    The book of Numbers shows Israel did not have faith to gain the promised land at first. Now, in the book of Joshua, God commands this second generation to have courage, a physical type of faith, to go in and take the land and possess it. Israel met the enemy “face-to-face,” “weapon-to-weapon,” trusting God to give the victory, though the odds looked overwhelmingly against them.

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