The Old Testament, like other scriptures, is a handbook on how to proceed in times of adversity. Because of the sharp and graphic contrasts that have been preserved in it, the lessons become unmistakable. As observed in one of our early Sunday School manuals: 'The language of the Bible never leaves one in doubt in the matter of choice between good and evil. Like other books, it reveals the thoughts and feelings of the age which it portrays. Unlike other books, it gives us very distinct ideas of God and our relationship to him.' (Old Testament Studies, vol. 1, pp. 1–3.)
The first five books of the Old Testament were written by Moses. They are Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Genesis refers to the origin of the earth, mankind, languages, races, and the beginning of the house of Israel.
The historical books tell of events of Israel. These books are Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther.
The poetic books record some of the wisdom and literature of the prophets. They are Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and Lamentations.
The prophets warned Israel of her sins and testified of the blessings that come from obedience. They prophesied of the coming of Christ, who would atone for the sins of those who repent, receive the ordinances, and live the gospel. The books of the prophets are Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.
Most Old Testament books were written in Hebrew. A few writings contain Aramaic, a related language.