Introduction to the Old Testament Prophets

The Old Testament books of the prophets do not appear in the Bible in chronological order; instead, they are featured in order of size. Prophets such as Isaiah and Jeremiah come first in the Bible and are often called 'major prophets' as they are longer; 'minor prophets' such as Haggai and Malachi come last as they are shorter.

This system of Biblical ordering doesn't help the reader to appreciate the historical and geographical context in which the prophets wrote.

Consequently, The Bible Journey features the books of the Old Testament prophets in broad chronological ordernot in the order in which they appear in the Bible. As some of the prophets overlapped each other chronologically, and some prophesied over long periods of time, the order in which they are featured here is roughly the chronological order in which the prophesies were delivered.


Map - The World of the Old Testament Prophets

Map 62  The World of the Old Testament Prophets


The World of the Old Testament Prophets  (see Map 62)

1. The United Monarchy of Israel and Judah

Samuel acted as a prophet in the 11th century BC, anointing Saul in c.1012BC and later anointing David as king of Israel and Judah (see Saul's Journey to Kingship & David defeats Goliath of Gath).

2. The Northern Kingdom of Israel (Samaria)

Elijah prophesied to King Ahab of Israel between c.870 and c.853BC (see Elijah challenges the prophets of Baal).

Elisha continued Elijah’s prophetic ministry from c.852 to c.842BC (see Elisha performs miracles and healings).

Amos and Hosea denounced social injustice in Israel between c.760BC and c.725BC.

3. Assyria (Nineveh)

Jonah preached a message of judgement to Nineveh before the defeat of Israel in 722BC.

Nahum celebrated the destruction of Nineveh by the Babylonians in 612BC.

4. Southern Kingdom of Judah (Jerusalem)

Micah spoke against both Israel and Judah between c.747 and c.722BC.

Isaiah, son of Amoz, spoke between c.737 and c.716BC, predicting the fall of Israel and Judah. The second part of the Book of Isaiah contains words of comfort to the exiles in Babylonia following the fall of Jerusalem in 587BC (Chapters 40-55), then encourages the exiles who have returned to Jerusalem after 537BC to be faithful in their worship of the LORD (Chapters 56-66).

Jeremiah and Zephaniah warned the people of Jerusalem before its fall in 587BC that it would be judged for its unfaithfulness to God.

5. Babylon

Habbakuk, speaking before the fall of Jerusalem in 587BC, asked why God allowed the cruel Babylonians to succeed.

Ezekiel, exiled to Babylon in 598 BC, predicted the fall of Jerusalem in 587BC and, later, spoke about the return of the exiles to Israel.

Daniel was in exile in Babylon at the same time as Ezekiel. He was persecuted for his faith during the period between 598 and 539BC (see Daniel interprets dreams and riddles).

6. Edom 

Obadiah foretold the punishment of Edom after the country took advantage of Jerusalem's fall in 587BC.

7. Post-exile Judah (Jerusalem)

Haggai and Zechariah spurred on the returned exiles to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem in c.520BC.

Malachi, writing after the completion of the Temple in 516BC, urged Israel to be faithful as God's people.

Joel, writing some time after the exile in the 5th or 4th century BC, promised hope after a plague of locusts.

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