The Law, The Prophets, and The Psalms

Hebrew canon

The order of the books in the Old Testament varies in some translations and versions. Most of the English versions maintain the same order.  Most Seminaries and Theology schools teach the five major divisions of the Old Testament as follows:

  1. The Pentateuch (first 5 books of the bible; the books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy)
  2. The Historical Books
  3. The Poetic and Wisdom writings
  4. The Major Prophets
  5. The Minor Prophets

Is this how God divides the Old Testament?  In Luke 24:44, Jesus divides the Old Testament into three sections.

And he said unto them, these are the words which I spoke unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the Law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.

Jesus divided the Old Testament into three:

  1. Law of Moses
  2. The Prophets
  3. The Psalms (writings)

Who do you think is right, Jesus or man? In the Hebrew bible, the sections are divided as Jesus specified.

Hebrew Old Testament Canon

Notice from the link above how the bible ends. In the English versions, Chronicles is in the middle of the Old Testament and Malachi is the last book. In the Hebrew bible, Chronicles ends the Old Testament and Malachi and the other “minor prophets” are in the middle. They have contrasting endings to the Old Testament.

In English –

Malachi 4

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:

And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.


In Hebrew

2 Chronicles 36

23 Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth has the Lord God of heaven given me; and he has charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The Lord his God be with him, and let him go up.

In English, The Old Testament closes with God sending Elijah before the coming great and dreadful day of the Lord when God will strike the earth with a curse. This is a foreboding ending.

In Hebrews, The Old Testament closes with building God’s house in Jerusalem. The Lord is with him [Jesus], and let him go up. This is a prophecy of Jesus. This is an uplifting and encouraging ending.


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