Commentaries on the Books of the Old Testament

The bishops at Vatican Council II affirm that the books of the Old Testament “give expression to a lively sense of God,… [his] sound wisdom about human life, and a wonderful treasury of prayers and in them the mystery of our salvation is present in a hidden way. Christians should receive them with reverence” (Dei Verbum 15).

While the above statement is true, all of us who have read parts or all of the Old Testament know that this task can be quite a challenge. We may wonder:

  • Is the Adam and Eve story in Genesis 1-2 to be taken literally?
  • What is the purpose of those long genealogical lists? Did ancient people live for hundreds of years (Genesis 4)?
  • What are we to make of difficult verses like: “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart” (Exodus 4:21) —which would make God the author of evil?
  • What relevance does a book like Leviticus (a whole book on worship rituals) have to our lives?
  • Why did God order the leaders of Israel to slay whole villages of people—men, women and children (Joshua 6:8)?
  • Why are most of the prophetic writings filled with “woes” and “denunciations”?
  • How did the Song of Songs make it into the Canon of the Old Testament, a book which never mentions God and which contains many erotic images?


These are only a few of the questions or challenges facing the reader of the Old Testament.

To help readers to grow in their understanding and appreciation of the 46 books of the Old Testament, I have written 140 articles at three levels – each level drawing one more fully into God’s word as revealed in the Old Testament.

Level One: A series of short articles on each of the 46 books of the Old Testament that contains, a brief description of the book’s contents, division of chapters and suggested texts or passages to read. 

Level Two: A series of 15 articles that gives a deeper introduction to the four main sections of the Hebrew Books of the Bible: Pentateuch, Historical Books, Prophetic Books and Wisdom Writings.

Level Three: A series of 80 articles that offers a commentary on each of the 46 books of the Old Testament. Some commentaries are more extensive than others. Here the reader can expect to receive some light on questions like those raised above and much more. 
Click here for a sample commentary on the first chapter of Exodus. 
Click here for suggestions on how to use the Level Three articles in a Bible Study Group. 
Click here for Prayer to pray before studying the Bible.

Article One from Level Three. In this article you find a summary of much of the material found in introductory books on the Bible: the five stages of how the Bible came to be, an exploration of what the church means by divine revelation, divine inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible and how the church decided to accept certain books into the Canon of the Bible, Catholic interpretation of the Bible and how it differs from a fundamentalist approach. Finally, this article gives a summary or overview of the whole biblical story with a timeline. I suggest anyone studying the Bible at any level to read this introductory article. Click here for this article.

Prayer before Bible Reading

Let your scriptures be my chaste delight.
O Lord, perfect me and reveal those pages to me!
See, your voice is my joy. Give me what I love.
May the inner secrets of your words
be laid open to me when I knock.

This I beg by our Lord Jesus Christ
in whom are hidden all the treasures
of wisdom and knowledge.
These are the treasures I seek in your books.
(St. Augustine)



In Christ,

Fr. Eamon Tobin 
Fr. Eamon Tobin


(All articles in PDF format)
 
LEVEL ONE
THE PENTATEUCH
Genesis
Exodus
Leviticus
Numbers
Deuteronomy
THE HISTORICAL BOOKS
Joshua
Judges
Ruth
1 + 2 Samuel
1 + 2 Kings
1 + 2 Chronicles
Ezra and Nehemiah
1 Maccabees
2 Maccabees
Daniel

THREE HISTORICAL NOVELS
Tobit
Judith
Esther

THE PROPHETS
Introduction to the Prophets

PRE-EXILIC PROPHETS
Amos
Hosea
First Isaiah
Micah
Jeremiah
Zephaniah 
Nahum
Habakkuk 
Obadiah

EXILIC PROPHETS
Lamentations
Baruch
Ezekiel
Deutero (Second) Isaiah 

POST-EXILIC PROPHETS
Haggai 
Zechariah 
Trito (Third) Isaiah 
Joel
Jonah
Malachi
WISDOM BOOKS
Proverbs 
Job 
Ecclesiastes 
Wisdom
Sirach
Song of Songs 
Psalms 



LEVEL TWO **We are in the process of editing these documents. They will be restored soon.

The Old Testament Part One: Introduction 
The Old Testament Part Two: Genesis 1-11 
The Old Testament Part Three: Genesis 12-25 – Abraham, Our Father in Faith 
The Old Testament Part Four: Genesis 25-50 – Isaac, Jacob and Joseph 
The Old Testament Part Five: The Book of Exodus 
The Old Testament Part Six: Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy 
The Old Testament Part Seven: Books of Joshua, Judges and Ruth 
The Old Testament Part Eight: First and Second Samuel 
The Old Testament Part Nine: 1 and 2 Kings; 1 and 2 Chronicles 
The Old Testament Part Ten: Prophets — the Conscience of Israel 
The Old Testament Part Eleven: Post-Exilic Historical Books – Ezra, Nehemiah, 1-2 Maccabees and Daniel 
The Old Testament Part Twelve: Three Historical Novels – Tobit, Judith and Esther 
The Old Testament Part Thirteen: Wisdom Books of the Bible 
The Old Testament Part Fourteen: The Book of Job – God’s Love and Man’s Suffering 
The Old Testament Part Fifteen: Introduction to the Book of Psalms 


LEVEL THREE

Article one: Introduction to the Bible.

 

THE PENTATEUCH

 

GENESIS 

Article two: Introduction to the Pentateuch (Chapters 1-2) 
Article three: The Fall and the Spread of Sin (Chapters 3-11). 
Article four: The Patriarchs — Abraham (Chapters 12-25)
Article five: The Patriarchs — Isaac and Jacob (Chapters 25-36)
Article six: The Patriarchs — Joseph (Chapters 37-50)

 

EXODUS 

The book of Exodus is the most important book of the Old Testament because it recounts the two most important events in Israel’s history: her [or the Israelites’] liberation from Egypt and the Sinai covenant.    

Article Seven:    Israel’s Liberation from Slavery (Chapters 1-12)
Article Eight:    Israel’s Journey into the Wilderness (Chapters 12-18)
Article Nine:    The Sinai Covenant (Chapters 19-40)

 

LEVITICUS 

Article Ten:    Israel’s Call To Holiness (Chapters 1-10)
Article Eleven:    The Holiness Code (Chapters 11-27)

 

NUMBERS

Article Twelve:    Preparation for Departure from the Sinai (Chapters 1-10)
Article Thirteen:    Grumbling and Rebellion in the Desert (Chapters 10-21)
Article Fourteen:    On the Plains of Moab (Chapters 22-36)

 

DEUTERONOMY 

Article Fifteen:    A Call to Choose Life through Obedience to God’s Word (Chapters 1-11)
Article Sixteen:    Rules and Regulations for Daily Life (Chapters 12-28)
Article Seventeen:    A Covenant Appeal — Promise of Forgiveness (Chapters 29-32)

 

THE HISTORICAL BOOKS

 

JOSHUA 

Article Eighteen:    A Promise Fulfilled (Chapters 1-6)
Article Nineteen:    The Conquest Continues (Chapters 7-24)

 

JUDGES 

Article Twenty:    Struggle between Faith and Culture (Chapters 1-8)
Article Twenty-One:    The Struggle Continues (Chapters 9-21)

 

RUTH 

Article Twenty-two:    The Faithful Woman — God’s Universal Love

 

1 SAMUEL 

Article Twenty-three:    Samuel (Chapters 1-7)
Article Twenty-four:    The Monarchy (Chapters 8-17)
Article Twenty-five:    Decline of Saul and Rise of David (Chapters 18-31)

 

2 SAMUEL 

Article Twenty-six:    David’s Rise to Power (Chapters 1-10)
Article Twenty-seven:    David’s Sin and its Consequences (Chapters 11-16)
Article Twenty-eight:    David’s Troubles Continue (Chapters 17-24)

 

1 KINGS

Article Twenty-nine:    Kingdom United (Chapters 1-11)
Article Thirty:    A Kingdom Divided (Chapters 12-22)

 

2 KINGS

Article Thirty-one:    The Prophetic Ministry of Elisha (Chapters 1-17)
Article Thirty-two:    The Kingdom after Judah (after 721 B.C.) (Chapters 18-25)

 

1 CHRONICLES

Article Thirty-three:    Genealogy and the Reign of David (Chapters 1-29) 

 

2 CHRONICLES

Article Thirty-four:    Solomon and the Kings of Judah (Chapters 1-36)

 

EZRA

Article Thirty-five:    Ezra – The Period of Restoration (Chapters 1-10)

 

NEHEMIAH

Article Thirty-six:    Nehemiah – Rebuilding and Restoration (Chapters 1-13)

 

1 MACCABEES

Article Thirty-seven:    The Final Period of the Old Testament, Part One (Chapters 1-16)

 

2 MACCABEES

Article Thirty-eight:    The Final Period of the Old Testament, Part Two (Chapters 1-15)

 

DANIEL

Article Thirty-nine:    Daniel 

 

THREE HISTORICAL NOVELS

 

TOBIT

Article Forty: Tobit

 

JUDITH

Article Forty-one:    Judith

 

ESTHER

Article Forty-two:    Esther

 

THE PROPHETS

Article Forty-three:    Introduction to the Prophets

PRE-EXILIC PROPHETS

Article Forty-four:    Amos – Prophet of Social Justice
Article Forty-five:    Hosea – Prophet of God’s Unconditional Love
Article Forty-six:    First Isaiah – Prophet of God’s Holiness, Part One (Chapters 1-12)
Article Forty-seven:    Isaiah – Prophet of God’s Holiness, Part Two (Chapters 13-39)
Article Forty-eight:    Micah – Prophet of Divine Justice
Article Forty-nine:    Jeremiah – The Mystic in the Marketplace (Chapters 1-25)
Article Fifty:    Jeremiah, Part Two (Chapters 26-52)
Article Fifty-one:    Zephaniah – Prophet of ‘Day of the Lord’
Article Fifty-two:    Nahum – The Prophet of God’s Vengeance
Article Fifty-three:    Habakkuk – The Prophet who Questioned God
Article Fifty-four:    Obadiah 

EXILIC PROPHETS

Article Fifty-five:    Lamentations
Article Fifty-six:    Baruch
Article Fifty-seven:    Ezekiel – The Pantomime Prophet, Part One (Chapters 1-24)
Article Fifty-eight:    Ezekiel, Part Two (Chapters 25-48)
Article Fifty-nine:    Deutero (second) Isaiah – The Book of Consolation (Chapters 40-55)

POST-EXILIC PROPHETS

Article Sixty:    Haggai – The Reconstruction Prophet
Article Sixty-one:    Zechariah
Article Sixty-two:    Trito (Third) Isaiah – After the Return of the Exiles (Chapters 56-66)
Article Sixty-three:    Joel
Article Sixty-four:    Jonah: Prophet of God’s Universal Mercy
Article Sixty-five:    Malachi

 

WISDOM BOOKS

Article Sixty-six:    Wisdom Books — An Introduction

 

PROVERBS

Article Sixty-seven:   Proverbs Part One: Ten Instructions for the Wisdom Seeker (Chapters 1-9)
Article Sixty-eight:   Proverbs Part Two: (Chapters 10-31)

 

JOB

Article Sixty-nine:   Job Part One: God’s Love and Man’s Suffering; Introduction (Chapters 1-2)
Article Seventy:   Job Part Two: Three Cycles of Speeches (Chapters 3-37) 
Article Seventy-one:   Job Part Three: God Speaks (Chapters 38-40)

 

ECCLESIASTES

Article Seventy-two:    Ecclesiastes: “Vanity of Vanities”

 

WISDOM

Article Seventy-three:   The Book of Wisdom

 

SIRACH

Article Seventy-four:   The Book of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus)

 

SONG OF SONGS

Article Seventy-five:   Song of Songs

 

PSALMS

Article Seventy-six:   Introduction
Article Seventy-seven:   Book One: Psalms 1-41
Article Seventy-eight:   Book Two: Psalms 42-72
Article Seventy-nine:   Book Three: Psalms 73-89
Article Eighty:   Psalms: Books Four (90-106) and Five (107-160)