The Books of the Old Testament

Claude Mariottini
Emeritus Professor
of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

How do you summarize the books of the Old Testament in a few words? Here is how E. J. Carr did:

In Genesis the world began;
’Twas then that God created man.

In Exodus the law was given,
As Israel’s guide from earth to heaven.

Leviticus, from Levi’s name,
The tribe from which the priesthood came.

Then Numbers tells about the way
What God would have us do and say.

Deuteronomy, which means “twice told,”
The truth, once heard, must ne’er grow old.

Then Joshua came, in Moses’ place,
When Law had failed, God brought in Grace.

He next by Judges Israel ruled;
His love toward them never cooled.

And then, the story sweet of Ruth,
Foreshadows very precious truth.

In Samuel First we read of Saul
The people’s king his rise and fall.

In Second Samuel then we hear
Of David, man to God so dear.

In First of Kings the glory filled
The Temple Solomon did build.

And Second Kings records the lives
Of prophets, kings, their sons and wives.

In First of Chronicles we’re shown
The house of David and his throne.

And Second Chronicles records
King Solomon’s good deeds and words.

Then Ezra builds God’s house again,
Which had for long in ruins lain.

And Nehemiah builds the wall
Round Judah’s city, great and tall.

Then Esther, Jewish maid and wife,
Raised up to save her people’s life.

And Job his patience sorely tried
At last God’s dealings justified.

Then come the Psalms, whose sacred page
Is full of truth for every age.

The Proverbs, which the wise man spake
For all who will their teaching take.

Ecclesiastes shows how vain
The very best of earthly gain.

The Song, how much we need to prize
The treasures set above the skies.

Isaiah, first of prophets, who
Foretells the future of the Jew.

Then Jeremiah scorned by foes,
Yet weeps for faithless Israel’s woes.

The Lamentations tell in part
The sadness of this prophet’s heart.

Ezekiel tells us, in mystic story,
Departing and returning glory.

Then Daniel, from the lion’s den,
By power Divine is raised again.

Hosea shows the Father’s heart
So grieved for sin on Ephraim’s part.

And Joel tells of judgment near;
The wicked nations quake and fear.

Then Amos from the herdmen sent,
Calls hardened sinners to repent.

In Obadiah, Edom’s fall
Contains a warning word to all.

Jonah, though prophet of the Lord,
Yet fled to Tarshish from his word.

Then Micah sings in sweetest lays
The glory of millennial days.

And Nahum tells the fear and gloom
Of Nineveh and of her doom.

Habakkuk — though tho tig-tree fail,
His faith and trust in God prevail.

Then Zephaniah tells of grace,
And love that comes in judgment’s place.

And Haggai in the latter days,
Repeats: “Consider well your ways.”

In Zachariah’s wondrous book,
We find eight visions if we look.

Then Malachi, the last of all,
Speaks sadly still of Israel’s fall.

Claude Mariottini
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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