A Brief Outline Old Testament History

Genesis 1 - 11 Creation - Flood - Abram.

Creation - man in the fruitful plain of Eden - man disobeys God and is forced to leave his haven - the struggle to survive - jealousy between Cain and Abel - Cain murders Abel - he is expelled to ‘the land of wandering’ under God’s protection - civilisation begins to develop - the list of patriarchs representing the time from Adam to Noah - Man incurs God’s wrath - God’s judgment in the Flood - the growth of nations - man establishes empires and languages become diversified - the list of patriarchs leading to Abram.

Genesis 12 - 50

Abram called by God - receives God’s promise of being a blessing to the world - has vivid experiences of God - adventures in the promised Land - Isaac - Jacob - Jacob produces 12 sons, the ‘children of Israel’- Joseph becomes premier of Egypt - the 12 and their households saved from famine by entering Egypt under Joseph’s protection.

Exodus 1 - 19

Israel enslaved in Egypt - Moses raised up a deliverer - plagues on Egypt - Israel escape - miraculous crossing of the Sea of Reeds - Egyptian pursuit thwarted by God - journey through the wilderness - provision of food and water by God - reach Mount Sinai

Exodus 20 - Leviticus 27

God makes a covenant with Israel at Sinai - the ten commandments - the Tabernacle (tent of meeting) made to act as the central sanctuary, to house the Ark, the throne of God, but no image to be made of God, - various instructions - rites of sacrifice established - instruction for living


The tribes numbered - various ordinances - God’s presence by fire and cloud - they reach the borders of the Promised Land - spies sent out - discouraging reports - the people rebel - God forbids entry - attempt to enter Canaan from the South - repelled - 38 years at the Oasis of Kadesh Barnea - new attempt to be made from the West - refused passage - battles and treaties - attractiveness of Transjordan - preparation for entering the Promised Land from the West


Repeat account of the journies of |Israel and the giving of the Law - various ordinances - Moses dies


A partially successful assault on the Promised Land - Israel esablished in the Hill Country - the tribal centre established at Shechem, the central sanctuary for the tribes. The idea was that the tribes would govern themselves but maintain unity by attending three times a year at the central sanctuary to renew their covenant with God and each other, responding when necessary to the call to arms to defend each other. The fruitful plains which God had intended for them in Canaan are now being taken over by a sinister new enemy, the Philistines, who arrive in the land, conquer the Canaanites, and form a five-city league, possessing chariots and weapons of iron


Various struggles for sections of the tribes to maintain their holdings against outside attack - God raises up war-leaders to deliver them - the menace of the Philistines grows - parts of Israel in subjection- failures in the tribal unity


An interlude describing the adventures of Ruth, a Moabite woman, her marriage to Boaz, and the descent therefrom of the forefathers of David.

1 Samuel

The sanctuary has been moved to Shiloh, probably because Shechem was too vulnerable to attack - the birth of Samuel - defeat by the Philistines and loss of the ark of God - Samuel established as war leader and prophet - repulsion of the Philistines - Saul established by Samuel as war leader - victories and defeats - God raises up David, who is exiled by Saul and raises up a loyal band of fighting men (‘his men’), outwardly acting as a mercenary for the Philistines, but secretly winning favour among the people of Judah - Samuel dies - Saul is finally utterly defeated, and killed.

2 Samuel

David becomes war leader of Judah, and then Israel as a whole, captures Jerusalem with ‘his men’ (so that it is the City of David, separate from Judah and Israel) defeats the Philistines, is made ‘king’, establishes Israel and builds an empire. Israel at last safe, and established in the Promised Land, with more besides. The Tabernacle and central sanctuary established in Jerusalem, David’s city. All is now seemingly set for the establishment of God’s Rule to the ends of the earth.

1 & 2 Kings & Chronicles

Solomon succeeds David - builds the Temple - establishes his magnificence - causes disaffection - his empire begins to crumble - and collapses on his death - Judah and Israel split up - Judah retain the central sanctuary.

(1). Israel - Jereboam of Israel establish sanctuaries at Bethel and Dan and sets up golden calves (probably intended to replace the Ark as the throne of |God) - the people worship the calves - the history of the failures of the kings of Israel who establish their capital at Samaria, - battles between Israel and Judah - occasional treaties - worship of foreign gods - wars with Syria - God sends Elijah and Elisha - they are rejected - Hosea, Amos and Micah are sent and also rejected - the appearance on the horizon of Assyria - a period of temporising, followed by revolt, resulting finally in the leading families of Israel being carried away captive into Assyria, and the collapse of the nation with foreign rulers over them - new people put in the land - they are taught by a priest of Israel and worship both God and graven images, and eventually the Samaritans are descended from them (with their own Pentateuch - Genesis to Deuteronomy - and worship centred at Mount Gerizim)

(2). Judah - Judah still had the central sanctuary at Jerusalem.Their kings at first therefore remained more true to the worship of God, but allowed lax religious practices - baal worship later introduced in association with Israel- and removed by the man of God Jehoiada - Jehoash (Joash) and Azariah (Uzziah) reign well - Hosea and Amos prophesy - Uzziah dies - Isaiah prophesies - Ahaz turns to idolatry - pays tribute to Assyria to save him from Israel and Syria - introduces a foreign altar - pays tribute to the gods of Assyria (part of his bargain) - Israel is carried away captive - Ahaz dies - Hezekiah listens to Isaiah, restores purity of religion (breaking the treaty with Assyria) - Assyria attacks - is amazingly defeated by God so that Jerusalem is preserved - Hezekiah dies - Manasseh neglects the Temple, introduces baal worship, idolatry, and worship of the ‘host of heaven’ (probably a sign of increasing Assyrian pressure) - Josiah becomes king - restores the Temple - finds the book of the covenant - renews the covenant with God - purifies religion - is slain by Pharaoh Nechoh - Judah pays tribute to Egypt - religion again corrupted - false worship - the rise of Babylon - Judah becomes tributary - the prophecies of Jeremiah and Ezekiel - rebellion against Babylon- Jerusalem besieged and submits - the king and the leading men taken into exile - Jerusalem again rebels, believing that God will not allow Jerusalem to be destroyed (rejecting Jeremiah and Ezekiel) - Jerusalem and theTemple are destroyed - the people carried into exile, where Ezekiel ministers to them. The land is left desolate.

Daniel - prophesying in Babylon

Cyrus becomes King of Persia.


Cyrus proclaims freedom of religion in all his empire - decrees the establishment of a new Temple in Jerusalem - Zerubbabel, with a fairly large group of people, returns to Jerusalem with the Temple treasures restored by Cyrus - the Temple and a small part of the city are partly rebuilt - opposition from dwellers in the land who appeal to Artaxerxes and have the work stopped - Haggai and Zechariah prophesy - Zerubbabel starts up the work again - the Temple finished - Ezra arrives in Jerusalem with another group as a teacher of the Law of Moses - they face opposition on the way but arrive safely - the covenant renewed - the religion is purified. There is, however, continual opposition and the work is restricted. There are powerful people in opposition round about, including the governor of Samaria.


Messengers report to Nehemiah. The Ezra and the people in Jersualem are hard pressed, and the partly built city subject to continued harassment from the surrounding peoples.

Nehemiah was Artaxerxes cup bearer. This was a high position of trust. It was he who would finally hand the king his cup after it had been tested for poison. He was one of the highest in the empire and the king’s trusted minister, (and needed to be from what followed).

Using his personal influence he obtains permission from the king for the restoration of Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the walls, and the re-establishing of the city as capital of |Judah. There is powerful opposition from two governors of provinces and a powerful war-lord - but the people unite to refurbish the city and build its walls, sword in hand . The walls are finished and Ezra, the priest, brings the Book of the Law of Moses and reads it aloud to the people. There is general renewal and the city is once again established.

Malachi later proclaims the coming of a messenger of the Lord, and the coming of the day of God.

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