Adam to Malachi—Where Do the Books Fit In?
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“Adam to Malachi—Where Do the Books Fit In?” Ensign, Jan. 1990, 36–37

Learning to Love the Old Testament

Adam to Malachi—

Where Do the Books Fit In?


a. Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, and Joshua through Nehemiah provide a complete historical overview. All other books are additional writings from portions of the history outlined in the above books. Job through Song of Solomon are grouped as poetic or wisdom literature. The remaining books are writings of the prophets.

b. Leviticus is an ancient priesthood handbook in three parts: (1) offerings, (2) laws, and (3) feasts.

c. Deuteronomy reviews Israel’s experiences down to the time Moses left his people.

d. Ruth is a story of faith, indicating that during the period of apostasy at the time of the judges some remained true to the covenant.

e. The listing of the judges is not chronological and recounts only some of their experiences.

f. Psalms and Proverbs come largely from the periods of King David and King Solomon. Neither, however, is the author of most of the writings attributed to him. The books are actually a compilation of numerous authors, including David and Solomon.

g. It is not clear when Job was written. The Savior, New Testament prophets, and those in the Book of Mormon cite Job.

h. United Israel divided after Solomon’s death. Ten and a half tribes followed Jeroboam, forming a separate nation in the north called Israel. One and a half tribes (Judah and part of Benjamin) followed Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, forming a kingdom in the south called Judah. (See 1 Kgs. 12:1–33.)

i. The books of Chronicles parallel in part the books of Kings. They are, however, a record only of the southern kingdom, or Judah.

j. The Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom and carried the people captive to Assyria. Their whereabouts later became lost to history, and so they are referred to as the lost tribes. (See 2 Kgs. 17:3–6; 2 Kgs. 18:9–12.)

k. The Babylonians conquered Jerusalem and exiled most of Judah. Before the destruction in 587 B.C., the Lord commanded Lehi to leave. (See 2 Kgs. 25:1–22; 2 Chr. 36:15–16; 1 Ne. 1:4.)

l. No book gives a historical overview of Judah’s exile in Babylon, but Daniel, Ezekiel, and Esther provide a partial treatment.

m. Joseph Smith indicated that the Song of Solomon was not inspired.

Painting by Greg K. Olsen