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Many Judeo-Christina ethics are found most explicitly in the proverbs. Among them are purity, chastity, humility, and hard work.
Ecclesiastes: Possibly written by Solomon, this book is a philosophical reflection; another work of poetics/wisdom (Fee & Douglas, 1993). The author reflects near the end of his life that much of his life has been meaningless. The exact reason for this despair is unclear, though it could be because it was not in service of God, or because the pursuit of knowledge through reason alone leads to no ultimate truth. The author concludes that doing God's will is man's only duty.
Song of Songs: Again often attributed to Solomon, the Song of Songs has long been one of the most controversial books of the Bible (Harbin, 2005). It portrays the relationship between God and His people in an amorous and even erotic way. Another way of interpreting the poem is as celebrating the gift of love which God has bestowed upon man. In the poem, a male and female voice exchange vows and caresses of love with each other.
Isaiah: This first of the prophetical works also contains much in the way of historical narrative. Isaiah enjoyed favor under Hezekiah, and preached during the time of the Assyrian's capture of the kingdom of Israel. Isaiah sees this as a condemnation of God for turning away from Him. He prophecies that the same fate will eventually befall the kingdom of Judah at the hands of the Babylonians, which occurs after this book was written.
Jeremiah: Jeremiah was also a prophet who foresaw destruction, and lived through much of it. He was in Jerusalem during the siege by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar. His time of preaching and prophesying covered the reigns of five of the kings of Judah. His time was one of great upheaval, and he saw it as punishment for the people have turned away from God. At the end of his life, Jeremiah fled to Egypt, prophesying destruction for many other civilizations.
Lamentations: Though included with the prophets and ascribed to Jeremiah, this book is more poetical than prophetical (Harbin, 2005). It contains five poems of lamentation concerning the exile of the Jewish people and the destruction of Jerusalem, as well as an appeal to God for His love and forgiveness to end the suffering of the Hebrew people and the restoration of their Temple.
Ezekiel: Ezekiel prophesied in Jerusalem before and after the city's fall to the Babylonians, and later in Babylon where he was exiled himself. God appears to him and tells him to hold the people of Israel responsible for their actions. Like Jeremiah, Ezekiel preaches that God is just, and that the turmoil is a result of Israel's sins. Ezekiel compares Jerusalem to a bride who was raised up by God but was unfaithful, and shall be destroyed as a result.
Daniel: The book of Daniel is both prophetic and apocalyptic. A large portion of the book is also devoted to a historical narrative of the Babylonian exile. Daniel earns favor in Babylon by retaining his faith despite the dangers, and proving God's power to Nebuchadnezzar. He also prophecies four great empires and the end of the world afterwards.
Hosea: Hosea is the only prophet to have come from the northern kingdom. He writes, however, in the Southern kingdom, likely after the fall of the northern capital (Harbin, 2005). Like many other prophets, Hosea stressed God's justice in the punishments inflicted on the Jews. He sees them performing human sacrifices, and prophesies great punishment, but God also tells him of a coming redemption.
Joel: During the time Joel is writing, a plague of locusts and a drought are threatening stability in Judah. He sees this s an omen of coming destruction for Israel's sins (a common theme with the prophets). He urges repentance on the part of the Hebrew people. He claims that God will rise to their defense and aid as soon as this repentance is complete.
Amos: Amos' main concern was social justice, which he considered true piety (Habrin, 2005). He prophesies against many of the pagan kingdoms that neighbor the kingdoms of Judah and Israel. He also foretells destruction for these kingdoms if they do not change their sinful and un-Godly ways. Again, repentance is key to earning God's forgiveness and avoiding or recovering from the impending destruction and exile of the Hebrews.
Obadiah: Obadiah prophesies against Edom, and foretells the restoration of the House of Jacob. Writing around the same time as Jeremiah, there are some similarities in the two prophets. Obadiah sees more hope and promises (slightly) less destruction than his contemporary, however.
Jonah: Jonah is one of the few prophets sent by God to prophesy to Gentiles. The story of Jonah and the whale (actually a large fish) is well-known. Attempting to avoid God's command because he knows his message will not be well received, Jonah boards a ship. During a storm sent by God, Jonah is thrown overboard, and spends time inside the fish before agreeing to do what God Commanded. He preaches, and the Gentiles of Nineveh heed his warnings.
Micah: Like many of the other prophets, Micah vacillates between prophesies of doom and hope. He foresees the destruction of Samaria, and eventually of Judea. Both of these are the result of God's judgment and the actions of the people of Israel. The problems Micah sees with the Hebrews are both religious and social. He demands fair treatment among men and the correct worship of God in order to achieve redemption and avoid destruction.
Nahum: This book was written after the fall of the northern kingdom, and prophesies the fall of Nineveh. Nahum also prophesies the return to glory of the splendor of Jacob and Israel, claiming that the fall of God's enemies will also be a benefit to his chosen people if they remain faithful to him. The destruction of the gentiles in Nineveh is sure, however.
Habakkuk: In addition to prophesying the coming Babylonian invasion, Habakkuk also questions God's actions during this time. Rather than seeing the matter simply as a situation in which the Hebrew people sinned and were therefore punished, Habakkuk wonders at the people's wickedness but also at their strife and oppression. He wonders why God does not seem to be doing anything about these things. God tells him that he is preparing the Babylonians to take care of the situation, and Habakkuk warns the Hebrews to little avail.
Zephaniah: Zephaniah is a descendant of Hezekiah the king of Judah that instituted many religious and social reforms. Like those prophesying before and at the same time as him, Zephaniah warns of the coming destruction of the sinful nations, including Judah. He also says that the few remaining just Israelites will be spared from the destruction and exile.
Haggai: This book is written after the return of the Jews from exile, and encourages the Israelites to rebuild the Temple. Haggai notes that God is not pleased that the Israelites have built themselves nice homes without first restoring the House of God -- the Temple -- to its former glory. He warns the people not to fail in their building of the Temple.
Zecharia: The prophet Zechariah was born in exile in Babylon, and returned to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel, making him another contemporary of Haggai and the rebuilding of the Holy Temple. He has apocalyptic visions, and also encourages the people not to delay in building the Temple. One of his visions specifically concerns Gods plans for the Temple's new dimensions. God promises through Zechariah to take care of Jerusalem as long as its people remain just.
Malachi: The last of the prophets, Malachi continues the tradition of condemning the sins of Israel and using them as an explanation for the destruction and exile of the Jews. Writing after their return at the hands of the Persians, Malachi condemns the intermarriages that are again taking place, and the other sins that the Jews commit now that they are again at peace.
Fee, G. & Stuart, D. (1993). How to read the bible for all its worth.…[continue]
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