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Genesis

The basic genre of the book of Genesis is, for the most part, narrative. There are many key themes and events in Genesis, and quite a few of the most popular Bible stories come from this first book of the Old Testament: God’s creation of everything we have come to know as existence, sin (of Adam & Eve, Sodom & Gomorrah, the Tower of Babel, etc.), God’s promises (of love, acceptance, and forgiveness), Joseph’s coat of many colors, and plenty more. After God’s creation of existence, Adam and Eve were disobedient, and therefore were punished. Over time, the human race had become so sinful that God washed everyone except Noah and his family in a global flood Noah's descendant, Abraham, was chosen by God to create a chosen people. Abraham's twelve grandsons from Jacob (who was later renamed Israel) became the “founders” of the land of Israel's twelve tribes. One of Jacob/Israel's sons, Jacob, was sent to Egypt by his brothers (or so they thought- God had planned this for His own reasons, which were good). Joseph's father and family were saved by a newly powerful him.

Exodus

Exodus’ basic genre is a narrative as well. Key themes and events include: Oppression of the Jews from the Pharaoh, Moses' characterization as the Jews' rescuer, God's plagues sent upon the people, the first passover, Moses parting the red sea, and the fall of Egypt's army. After all of this, the Jews were searching in the wilderness for the promised land, and although God provided them with necessary means (“bread from heaven, bitter water turned into sweet water, water from a rock, victory over those who would destroy them, His Law written on tablets of stone by His own hand, and His presence in the form of pillars of fire and cloud”), they still were unhappy and didn't follow Him. Moses planned to build the Tabernacle, a building for worship which included various sacrifices, altars, furniture, ceremonies, and forms of worship, and was where the Ark of the Covenant was placed.

Leviticus

The book of Leviticus falls into the genre of law. A major theme is God instructing the people to carry out various things in order to do as He desires (which is all that is good and holy), because He is a character of everything good and holy. Moses gives instructions for how to use the alter for sacrifice and offering rituals are described, as well as instructions to priests and other people to perform certain ones. He describes the instructions for the Levitical Priesthood, as Israel is supposed to be the kingdom of priests, and ordains his sons and Aaron (his brother). The procedure for how to be aware of and clean things that are unclean, such as animals, foods, birth, diseases, dead bodies, etc., because God wanted to keep them from contracting illnesses from these things. The Day of Atonement is discussed. This took place one day out of each year, and the High Priest would cleanse and prepare himself ceremonially to meet with God, then enter into the Holy of Holies and offer a sacrifice to Him for all of Israel's sins. The book goes on to talk about the general laws that apply for living a holy life.

Numbers

Numbers is a narrative book. As the book is named, a lot of it has to do with numbers: of people, in particular. Also written by Moses, this book's key themes include: counting the people, and Israel preparing to enter into the promised land but sinning and ultimately losing the opportunity. The main reason for Moses' census is to find out how many men are available and able to be in the military. The Israelites migrate from the wilderness in Sinai to get to the promise land. Everyone is complaining about the food God has given them, so He sends a plague. God severely punishes for disobedience and unfaithfulness to Him. When Moses sends twelve spies to find out more about the land, only two return bringing good news, and the people don't want to take the land anymore. For this, God sends them back into the wilderness for forty more years. Then, the new generation of Israelites go to take the land, and destroy two nations who confront them as they enter. Balak wants the Israelites to worship the idol, Baal, and uses his prophet, Balaam to learn to seduce them into doing so. God gets angry about this and some 24,000 people die, including the prophet. At the end of the book, Moses conducts another census, and Joshua takes over leadership of Israel, replacing Moses, because Moses was disobedient.

Deuteronomy

Like the book of Leviticus, Deuteronomy’s genre is law.

Joshua

This book is a narrative. Key events are themes can be summed up in two parts: conquering and settlement of the promise land. After being newly appointed from Moses, Joshua commands and prepares the people for the taking of the land. He instructs the Gadites, Ruebenites, and the Manasseh to go first into battle. Two spies were sent to Jericho and stayed with a prostitute named Rahab, who lied to the king for the spies, and was promised her and her family’s lives be spared for her good deed. The spies went back to Joshua and told him of the happenings, and that everyone was scared of the Israelites, for they knew they were the chosen people. The people crossed the Jordan (which had stopped flowing for them), and everyone took stones from the river to remember God’s blessings. The Kings of Canaan saw the people cross the river, and they backed out of battling them. Passover was observed again, and right after that, the Manna, which God had given for the people to survive on, had stopped growing, as there was no need for it anymore. The Israelites were victorious in the battle of Jericho, but were defeated in the first battle of Ai, right after. Achan, a member of the tribe of Judah, stole and was stoned to death as the consequence. North and South Canaan are defeated, the land is divided, and there is an altar built for a memorial instead of sacrifices. Joshua warns the people of idolatry shortly before dying, and Eleazar, the high priest, dies as well.

Judges

Judges' genre is also narrative. The key theme of this book is the tribes/states of Israel. Key events are as follows. Although Judah, Simeon, Asher, Zebulun and Nephtali defeat the Canaanites in their territories, they allow most of the residents to stay in the land and they don’t destroy the idol altars. God is upset with this, and sends and angel to reprimand them. They repent for what they have (or haven’t) done. The next generation of the people worshipped idols, and once again, God got angry with this. He appointed judges to deliver them, but even so, Israel continued to worship idols on and off. There are many judges over time, and they all do important things, characterizing the role of judges. A few to name are: Gideon, who was commissioned to lead Israel and destroys the altar of Baal and its grove; Jephthah, who defeats Ammon, sacrifices his daughter, and goes to war with Ephraim; and Samson, who kills a lion, has one of his wives given away to his best man, kills a thousand Philistines with a donkey’s jawbone, and carries away Gaza’s gates.

Ruth

Ruth falls under the genre of narrative as well. I would say the major themes in this book are those of faith and blessing. Major events are as follows: the introduction of Ruth, her relationship with Boaz (a man of courage, her same belief in God, and also a relative of Elimelech- her deceased husband), the closer family member of Elimelech refusing to marry and raise children with Ruth, the miracle of Ruth giving birth to Obed in the year of Jubilee, and Naomi rasising Obed as her own in order to keep the inheritance of the land in the family. Ruth was a girl who married into the Judean race, and eventually adopted it as her own as much as she could, because she didn’t want to go back to her family and worshipping other gods after her husband, Elimelech, died. She stayed with Elimelech’s mother, Naomi, and Orpah, who was Naomi’s other son’s widow, and they all went back to Bethlehem. Since Naomi was too old to bear a son in order to keep the family’s land, Ruth took it upon herself to try to help. She met and befriended Boaz, a relative of her widower. Boaz wanted to help, but he knew there was a closer kinsman than him who was not far away. When he went to the relative and told him of the predicament the family was in, the relative refused to help, because he didn’t want to have to raise children with Ruth. So Boaz took it upon himself, fathered a son with Ruth, and Ruth gave her son to Naomi so the family’s land could be saved.

1 Samuel

This is a narrative book. The key themes to this book, in my opinion, are: God’s blessings, jealousy, and purpose. Events are as follows. Samuel’s mother prays for a son, and receives one. Samuel is a prophet, and starts prophesying at an early age. He tells of the judgment on a corrupt priest. Israel, after defeating the Philistines, desire a king, but Samuel warns them of what having a king would mean. Reluctantly, Samuel anoints Saul, a Benjamite. Saul is successful at first, but then, after a series of disobedient acts upon God, Saul’s crown is removed. David becomes the new king, and later defeats the Philistine, Goliath. David goes on to drive Saul mad by befriending his son, marrying his daughter, and basically replacing Saul in Saul’s loved-ones’ lives (Saul was also driven mad due to his disobedience to God). Saul chases David out of town and around the land for a period of time. After a while, Saul, who seems to have lost reason to exist, prays for answers. When he doesn’t get them from heaven, he seeks them from a medium, who connects with the late Samuel’s spirit. Samuel says Saul will die in battle the next day. Lo and behold, the very next day in battle, Saul loses his three sons, and ends up committing suicide by falling on his own sword in despair.

2 Samuel

2 Samuel is also narrative. Key themes in this book are simply victories and losses. David hears of Saul’s death and that of Saul’s three sons, and declares a period mourning to be held. Shortly after, David becomes king of Judah. His son, Ish-bosheth, is crowned king of Israel, but is killed in war, and then David gets asked by the Israelites to reign over them as well. David accepts, and changes the capital city to Jerusalem. He wants to build a temple, but God says no, and instead makes David a few promises: That David would have another son, his new son will build a temple, David’s descendants would rule the throne forever, and he (God) would always be forgiving of David’s house. Unfortunately, however, David takes a turn for the worse. He both commits adultery with a woman named Bathsheba and murders her husband in a fit of passion. God forgives him, but tells him that his family will face the consequences. Rightfully so, David’s son, Amnon, rapes his own half-sister, Tamar, and Tamar’s brother, Absolom revengefully kills Amnon. In a state of shame, Absolom runs away, and later starts a revolt against his father, David. David gets run out of Jerusalem, Absolom becomes king for a while until he is overthrown and killed, and David mournfully returns. There are a few short notes at the end of the book: There is a famine which lasts for 3 years, David’s best warriors exploit, David conducts a sinful census, and the plague is ensued.

1 Kings

This book's genre is narrative. Key themes are God’s promises, how who you associate yourself influences you, and never giving up. The book starts with Solomon, David’s illegitimate son with Bathsheba, as a good character; taking seven years to build the temple which God promised David would be built. However, after that, Solomon greedily spent another 13 years building a temple for his own and, following in his weak-toward-women-father’s footsteps, accumulating many wives. Because of his giving-in-to-women character trait, Solomon was led to worship his many wives’ many idols, leading him away from God. After he died, sinful and idol-worshipping kings ruled over Israel. The whole nation had become idol-driven, and not even Elijah could preach the people back to God. Ahab, possibly the most evil of the kings, married a woman named Jezebel, who took idolatry to its peak during his reign, leading the nation to worship Baal. Elijah challenged Jezebel to a battle of each of their god on Mount Carmel. Basically, they each placed a cut-up bull above sticks, and each called to their respective god to start a fire underneath the bull. God made it happen before Baal did (obviously because Baal didn’t exist). Jezebel got upset about this, and ordered that Elijah be killed. Elijah ran into the woods and asked God to kill him because he was tired and depressed. However, God had other plans for him, so He gave him food and support and helped him survive.

2 Kings

This book is also narrative. There are a few key themes in the book of 2 Kings: God's judgment on those who disobey him, genuine prophets' prophecies will always happen, and God's faithfulness to us, his children. This book tells of the many kings of Judah and Israel. Most of them were wicked, and turned the people away from worshiping God, convincing them to worship several different idols instead. Although there were some rulers, such as Elisha, were faithful to God, they could not stop the rapid decline of the nation. These rulers and prophets even tell the people of the land that their unfaithfulness and wickedness will, in the end, cause their downfall. Eventually, the Assyrians defeat Israel, and after about 136 years, Judah is defeated by the Babylonians.
1 Chronicles

1 Chronicles is narrative. The key theme in this book is the fact that God knows all of us not only individually but personally (the reason for the genealogies throughout the book). The genealogies of the following are recorded: Noah, his three sons, their sons, Hagar's descendents, Keturah's descendents, Sarah's descendents, the people of the city of Seir in the land of Edom, Edom's rulers and their descendents, Israel's sons, Hezron's sons and their sons, Caleb's family, David and his sons, Judah's kings and their sons, other sub-tribes of Judah, Ruben, Gad, Manaseh's people, Levi, the temple musicians, Issachar, Benjamin, Ephraim, Asher, and Saul. There is special attention paid to the line of David; his rise to kingship is recorded, along with the things he does afterward. The end of the book describes his son gaining Israel's kingdom.
2 Chronicles

The genre of this book is narrative. Written by Ezra, the key theme of this book could be: what the people who are mentioned in this particular record had done to deserve God's blessing or punishment. 2 Chronicles looks at the rulers of Judah and Israel in a more positive light for the most part, focusing mainly on the positive aspects of the nation, its leaders, and its people. Although these times held negative issues, this book emphasizes on the leaders and prophets who tirelessly tried to bring their fellow men back to God's light. Since Israel, at the time, was ultimately an idol-worshiping land, and the majority of the people in it didn't recognize the Temple of Jerusalem as one of validity, not much is written about the land. On the other hand, the book is wrapped up with the recollection of how Jerusalem and the Temple are destroyed.

Ezra

The genre of this book is also narrative. Some key themes in Ezra could be those of hope and restoration, similar to the story of Noah and the ark in the book of Genesis. When people who know what it means to obey the Lord stray far enough away from Him, they eventually come to a crossroads. It is then they must make their decision to either continue the path they have been choosing (which is usually accompanied by negativity), or to swallow their foolish pride, confess their unfaithfulness, and go back to God. This book tells of Israel's people returning to their land after the Babylonian's destruction of it. The people return under Zerubbabel's rule and start to rebuild their Temple. There are many years lost between the chapters 6 and 7, so a new set of characters are spoken of when Ezra is in Jerusalem, preaching God's word. The people of the land confess that they had strayed from God, and they cease to continue to worship their idols. Haggai, the main prophet in Ezra's time, is spoken of.

Nehemiah

This book is considered narrative. The book of Nehemiah encompasses a theme of dedication to worship in order to serve God as he wishes for us to do. The book tells of Nehemiah, a Hebrew living in Persia, feeling compelled to build a wall around Jerusalem in order to keep the people and the newly-built Temple safe from enemies. He volunteered himself to God to be used for this project. God blessed him by softening the heart of the Persian King, Artaxerxes, who not only agreed with Nehemiah and let him return to Jerusalem, but also gave supplies to carry out the job. Nehemiah was made governor of Jerusalem, and the wall was built in 52 days, thanks to the tithes, labor assistance, and more supplies given by the people of the city. Nehemiah leaves Jerusalem, and upon returning 12 years later, finds the wall to be intact, but the people had become weak. He teaches the people morality and brings them back to salvation by motivating them to pray and to read and follow God’s word.

Esther

The genre of Esther is narrative as well. The theme of this book is that of a lot of books in the Bible- God’s love and dominion for all His people. Esther was orphaned, and raised by her uncle, Mordecai. She is chosen to become Queen of Persia by King Anasuerus (Xerxes). Mordecai refuses to bow down to Haman, a royal official, resulting in Haman’s plot to destroy all Jews in Persia. Mordecai hears of this and tells his niece. Esther convinces the King to take her side with the Jews, and he agrees, angrily ordering that Haman be hung for his attempt to murder all the Jews. Ironically enough, King Xerxes decides to have Haman hung on the gallows which he has built to destroy the Jews. This book shows us that our own faith and courage from God can save a nation.

Job

The genre of this book is wisdom. The key theme in this book can be described in the verse of 1:21 “…The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away…” In other words, God is the only one who is able to bless and curse us. Although Satan can do these things, it is only by God’s will that he can, because he is still God’s creation. Job is a God-fearing man who lives his life not in sin, but is loyal to Him. Satan tells God that he thinks the only reason Job worships God is because He blesses him. Satan asks for God’s permission to test Job’s faithfulness to Him, and God accepts, with a few rules. Job subsequently loses his health, family and occupation, by God’s power. Job’s friends tell him that he has lost all of this because he has led a life of sin. Job refuses to believe this and goes on worshipping and loving God unwaveringly. After he has had all he feels he can take, Job cries out to God, and using the Oath of Innocence, asks Him why He has brought this negativity upon him. Since God entered into the deal with Satan, He wasn’t allowed to tell Job outright, so He indirectly points Job to the idea. Job decides to still worship God, proving that Satan was wrong.

Psalms

Psalms is a poetry book. The key themes of this book actually require a longer description that the events of the book themselves. Psalms is a collection of songs/poems of praise, lament, and thanksgiving. They tell of the creation of existence, wars, worship, wisdom, sin and evil, judgment, justice, the coming of the Messiah, and many other stories. While some of the Psalms’ authors are known, there are approximately 50 without known authors. David wrote most of the Psalms, which tell stories of him escaping Saul’s jealous madness, pretending to be mad himself in order to live in the city of Gath, his son Absolom’s success in convincing the city that he would be a better king than David, his plans for building the Temple, his expressed sin of committing adultery with Bathsheba, etc. Other known authors of Psalms include Asaph, the Korahites, Heman, Ethan, Moses, and Solomon.

Proverbs

Proverbs falls under the category of wisdom. The main theme in this book is wisdom. There is not really a central plot or chain of events, per se; it is more of a “guide to wisdom”. At the beginning, there are a few warnings and lessons taught. There is a warning against enticement: not to give in to sinners’ ways, one against rejecting wisdom: “eat the fruit of your ways, be filled with the fruit of your schemes” (basically, you will reap what you sow), and warnings against adultery and folly: if you cheat on your spouse and are foolish, the consequences are bad, to say the least. Then, there are some words of how wisdom’s benefits include protection, peace, etc. Solomon’s proverbs start in chapter 10, are interrupted by a few chapters of wise words from others, and then continue until chapter 30, where some sayings of Agur, an oracle’s son, are written. After that, there are some sayings of King Lemuel, passed down from his mother. The book ends with listing the characteristics of a noble wife, which include working hard, being a good businesswoman, loving her husband and kids, reaching out to others, and being generous and faithful.

Ecclesiastes

This book's genre is wisdom. The key theme, to me, is that trying to find happiness in material objects is a lost cause. The author is a preacher/teacher. At the beginning of the book, he rants on about how absolutely everything is meaningless: wisdom, pleasures, folly, toil, etc. He has come to this conclusion after attempting to find happiness in all the worldly things mentioned above, and is in a state of depression. Then, he goes on to suggest to the reader how their lives should be lived in order to find truth and meaning in it; by having a strong relationship with God, for without him, life is meaningless.

The Song of Solomon
This is a poetry or romance book. The key theme is, clearly, marriage. The book begins with the wife-to-be yearning to finally be married to her husband. They are married, and the wife gives all she has to her husband, and the Lord blesses them. As the marriage goes on, they go through a period of hardship, but in the end, are happy and all is good.

Isaiah

Isaiah's genre is prophecy. The key theme can be viewed as one handing themselves completely over to God. Since He is all that is holy, no sin can go unpunished by Him. He is, however, kindhearted, merciful and graceful, and since He is so, even though Judah and Israel are unfaithful, He will not let them be completely destroyed. Also, He had made a promise to Israel that they would never fully perish, and being a merciful God, He keeps His promises. The book tells of the salvation of Jesus Christ; when He returns again, Israel will show the world His love. Isaiah tells of how Jesus’ first time on the earth was filled with suffering for our sins so we could all be saved, and His second coming will be one of redemption, both for Him and us; He will be the king of the earth.

Jeremiah
This book's genre is prophecy. The main themes are disobedience and God’s mercy. Jeremiah is the author, and had a deep-running love for the land of Judah, but a deeper love for God. After King Josiah's death, Judah slipped into a deep, black hole of idol-worshiping ways. Jeremiah warns of “disaster from the North”, when God will place harsh judgment upon Judah. He compares the land to a prostitute in 2:20, saying “Long ago you broke off your yoke and tore off your bonds; you said, ‘I will not serve you!’ Indeed, on every high hill and under every spreading tree you lay down as a prostitute”. He also tells Judah that idolatry is worthless, and the false gods will not listen to the people, because they are not real. Then, Jeremiah tells them of the good that will come out of this after the disaster. King Zedekiah ignores Jeremiah’s warning and imprisons him. At the end of the chapter, Jeremiah tells of the banishment of both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms.

Lamentations

Poetry defines this book's genre. The key theme is sadness. It would seem that Jeremiah also wrote this book, even though it is not stated anywhere for a fact. There are only five chapters in Lamentations, with each chapter being a poem in itself. All the poems revolve around the fall of Judah and Jerusalem. Chapter one’s poem is one of mourning for the lands, comparing them to a widow. Chapter two tells of God’s anger at the people of Judah and Jerusalem, for they had been unfaithful to him and involved in idolatry. Chapter three is the author expressing his feelings of sadness and mourning. However, there is also a tone of positivity, as he reminds us of God’s mercy and how He keeps His promises; the lands will be restored in time. Chapter four focuses on the devastating results of the land’s destruction, telling of how people were so starved, they resorted to cannibalism. Finally, Chapter five focuses on the guilt of the people for the evil they have succumbed to.

Ezekiel
Ezekiel's genre is prophecy. The key theme in the book is restoration of hope. Ezekiel knew he was meant to be a priest by age thirty, but due to the circumstances of the events at Judah and Jerusalem, it seemed the plan would be ruined. He was uprooted from his homeland, and transplanted to live in Babylon at age twenty-five. Upon arriving in his new town of inhabitance, Ekekiel was depressed, to say the least. However, when he turned thirty, he had a vision of God’s glory, and was shown that it didn’t matter where he was; he was still able to fulfill his destiny. He spoke to the other captives in Babylon, restoring their hope in God as well. He could be described as an odd bird, getting his messages across with various acts of what some people might see as peculiarity, including cutting his hair and beard in an attempt to express to others God’s plan for Jerusalem and its people.

Daniel

This book is prophecy/apocalyptic. Daniel and three of his friends were promoted to King Nebuchadnezzar’s service as a result of
Hosea
The genre of this book prophecy.

Joel

Joel is a prophecy book.
Amos

This is a prophecy book.

Obadiah
Obadiah's genre is prophecy.

Jonah
This is a narrative book.

Micah
Micah's genre is a prophecy.

Nahum
This book's genre is prophecy.

Habakkuk
The genre of Habakkuk is prophecy.

Zephaniah
This book's genre is prophecy.

Haggai
The genre of this book is prophecy.

Zechariah
This is a prophecy book.

Malachi
This book's genre is prophecy.

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