This week, I’m starting a new series from the Hebrew Bible (what many refer to as the “Old Testament”). I’ve long been fascinated with the poetry, imagery, and intensity of the prophets, and especially intrigued with the minor prophets–maybe because the only place I ever heard teaching on all twelve books was in the Bible study I used to be a part of.
In doing some background studying, I came across a really wonderful resource on YouTube called “The Bible Project“. I’ll feature on of their overviews each time I introduce a new prophet.
This week, The Bible Project gives an overview of how to read and understand the prophets themselves
How to Read the Bible: The Prophets
The Bible Project Channel
There are actually 15 prophets who get their own books in the Bible (all in the Hebrew Bible), as this chart shows, and their books are ordered according to size:
Many of prophets’ careers actually overlapped.
For each of the twelve minor prophets, here is a basic résumé:
Hosea was contemporaries with Amos and prophesied in Israel during the reigns of Zechariah and Shallum, between 782-752 BC
Joel was the sole prophet in Judah, during his career throughout the reign of Joash, from 835-796 BC
Amos was older when Hosea started his career. Amos had already been prophesying in Israel during the long reign Jeroboam II, 782-753 BC
Obadiah prophesied alone in Judah, during Jehoram’s reign, 848-841 BC
Jonah came shortly after Amos and Hosea, prophesying in Israel during the reigns of Menahem and Pekahiah, 752-740 BC
Micah followed Jonah, prophesying both together with Isaiah in Judah, during Jotham’s reign, 748-732 BC, and alone to Israel during Pekah’s reign, 752-722 BC. You’ll notice the overlap with Pekahaiah’s reign. For a time, both kings rivalled for Israel’s throne, causing a great deal of strife.
Nahum prophesied after Israel had been hauled off into Assyrian captivity, 722 BC. His actual timing is fuzzy, so…somewhere in that first, say 50 years after the exile
Habakkuk had a lot of contemporaries: Zephaniah, the famous Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. It’s possible Huldah, the woman prophet, who had prophesied during King Josiah’s time, was still living (she is, for unclear reasons, not reflected on the chart above). All of these prophets preached in Judah during Jehoiakim’s and Jehoiachin’s reigns, spanning 608-597 BC
There is a short span of time, Zedekiah’s reign from 597-586, where there must have been overlap between the prophets just above, and the prophets just below.
Haggai also had several contemporaries: Zechariah, Malachi, and Jeremiah. Their most active time of prophesying was after Judah was taken into Babylonian captivity, 586 BC.
Hoseah is first up, next week, following the order given in the Bible.
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[Great Deesis with Prophets | Walters Art Museum [Public domain]
“These panels reproduce the upper two tiers of the screen (known as the iconostasis) that separates the nave from the altar in Orthodox churches. Such sets, of which this is one of the earliest known, were used by priests for makeshift altars and by lay people for personal prayer.
“In the upper row, the Virgin and Child are surrounded by Old Testament prophets who hold scrolls with passages foretelling Christ’s birth:
“Habakkuk (?), Micah, Jeremiah, Moses, Daniel, David, Solomon, Jonah, Jacob, Isaiah (?), Gedeon, and Zechariah.
“Below, the adult Christ is seated on the throne of judgment, flanked by holy persons who entreat him to forgive our sins. On his right are the Virgin, St. Peter, Metropolitan Peter of Moscow, St. Sergius of Radonezh (a famous Russian hermit), and St. George. On his left stand John the Baptist, St. Paul, Metropolitan Alexis of Moscow, St. Cyril of Belozersk (another renowned Russian monk), and St. Demetrius.”