The Hebrew Bible


The order of the books of the First Testament in most Christian Bibles differs from the Hebrew Bible. The order of the books is derived from the Septuagint – a Greek translation of the Old Testament that endeavoured to place the books in some kind of chronological order. The Hebrew Bible, however orders the books not according to when they happened but according to three main categories: Instruction, Prophecy and Writings (or additional information).

In order for us to understand the Bible, it is important to know how Jesus read the Bible. For example in Luke 11:49 – 51, Jesus taught: Therefore the wisdom of God also said, “I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and persecute, that the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the temple. Yes, I say to you, it shall be required of this generation.”

What does Jesus mean from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah? Why are these two people specifically mentioned out of all the murders and violent deaths in the Bible?[1]

The murder of Abel takes place at the beginning of the first book of the Bible – Genesis, and the murder of Zechariah takes place at the end of the last book in Jesus’ Bible – which was 2nd Chronicles. He is therefore talking about all the blood that was spilt in the Bible.


Tanach is the name of the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament. Tanach is also called, The Mikra (Miqra) or the Hebrew Scriptures.
At the time of Jesus (Yeshua), the Hebrew Scriptures had already been divided into the three sections: Torah, Prophets, and Writings. He referred to this order: “the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms” (Luke 24:44).

Tanach [תַּנַ”ךְ‎] (also spelt Tanakh) is an acronym[2] for the three parts of the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament).

The letters of each part of TaNaCH:

Torah, (תורה) is a Hebrew word meaning ‘teaching’ and ‘instruction’.

It primarily refers to the first section of the Tanach: ‘the Five Books of Moses’.
It is also called the Chumash or Pentateuch (= ‘The Five’), or ‘The Law’.
(See also God’s blueprint)

Nevi’im, (נביאים) (‘The Prophets’)

Ketuvim, (כתובים) Ketuvim is the third and final section of the Tanach. The Hebrew word כתובים (ketuvim) means ‘writings’.
In English translations of the Hebrew Bible, this section is usually entitled ‘The Writings’ or ‘Hagiographa’.


Torah – The Five Books of Moses

Genesis               Bereshit (בראשית = in the beginning)
Exodus                Shemot (שמות = names)
Leviticus             Vayikra (ויקרא = and He called)
Numbers            Bemidbar (במדבר = in the dessert)
Deuteronomy    Devarim (דברים = words)

Nevi’im – The Prophets

The Earlier or Former Prophets

Joshua                 Yehoshua (יהושע)
Judges                 Shofetim (שופטים)

1 Samuel             I Shemu’el (א׳ שמואל)
2 Samuel            II Shemu’el (ב׳ שמואל)

1 Kings                I Melakhim (ב׳ מלכים)
2 Kings               II Melakhim (ב׳ מלכים)

The Latter Prophets

The Major Prophets

Isaiah                   Yeshayahu (ישעיה)
Jeremiah             Yirmeyahu (ירמיה)
Ezekiel                 Yechezkel (יחזקאל)

The Trei Assar – The Twelve Minor Prophets

Hosea                Hoshea (הושע)
Joel                    Yo’el (יואל)

Amos                 Amos (עמוס)
Obadiah            Ovadyah (עובדיה)

Jonah                Yonah (יונה)
Micah                 Mikha (מיכה)

Nahum              Nachum (נחום)
Habakkuk         Chavakkuk (חבקוק)

Zephaniah        Tzefanyah (צפניה)
Haggai              Chaggai (חגי)

Zechariah         Zekharyah (זכריה)
Malachi             Mal’akhi (מלאכי)

Ketuvim – The Writings

Psalms             Tehillim (תהילים)
Proverbs           Mishle (משלי)

Job                     Iyov (איוב)
Song of Songs Shir HaShirim (שיר השירים)

Ruth                   Rut (רות)
Lamentations  Ekha (איכה)

Ecclesiastes    Kohelet (קהלת)
Esther                Ester (אסתר)

Daniel                Daniyel (דניאל)
Ezra                    Ezra  (עזרא)
Nehemiah         Nechemyah (נחמיה)

I Chronicles      Divre HaYamim aleph (א׳ דברי הימים)
II Chronicles     Divre HaYamim beth (ב׳ דברי הימים)


The Book Daniel is nowadays considered part of the Writings, or Ketuvim, in the Hebrew Bible. In Christian Bibles, Daniel is grouped among the Prophets, following the Septuagint or LXX. The Septuagint has four groupings: The Pentateuch, the Historical Books, the Prophets and the Poetic Books.

Daniel is not considered a prophet by the Rabbis of the Talmud. Prior to the publication of the Talmud (500 CE), Daniel was called a prophet. The Jewish Historian, Flavius Josephus (37 – c. 100 CE) calls Daniel: “one of the greatest of the prophets,” (Antiquities 10:11.7 [266, 268]) and the Dead Sea Scrolls speak about: “the book of Daniel, the prophet” (4Q174 II.4). Jesus also called him a prophet in Matthew 24:15-16.

Samuel and Kings are each counted as one book. In addition, the twelve Minor Prophets are counted as one single collection called Trei Asar or ‘The Twelve (Prophets)’. In the Jewish liturgy, selections from the books of Nevi’im known as the Haftarah are read publicly in the synagogue after the reading of the Torah on each Shabbat, as well as on Jewish festivals (Moadim) and fast days.

[1] Someone commented that it was all the blood shed from A to Z. Nice idea; but Zechariahs name in Hebrew begins with a Zayin, which is the 7th letter of the Hebrew Alphabet and not the last letter – as in English.

[2] An acronym is a word formed from the initial letters of words.