A Brief Introduction to TaNaKh

A Brief Introduction to TaNaKh

I have said that, as we journey through the Bible Essentials Series, we will follow the order of TaNaKh, the Old Testament as Jesus (Yeshua) and the Disciples would have known.


TaNaKh is made up of 3 Sections: Torah, Nevi’im, and Ketuvim. Here is the basic structure of TaNakh.



The Torah (תּוֹרָה, literally “teaching”), also known as the Pentateuch, or as the “Five Books of Moses”.  Torah is often, especially by Gentiles, referred to as the Law. This is partially correct in that it does contain the Mitzvot (Commandments/Law) but the Law is not the whole of Torah. Instead, Torah is the beginning of our instruction as to our need for a Redeemer and to His Person.

  • Bereshit (בְּרֵאשִׁית, literally “In the beginning”) – Genesis

  • Shemot (שְׁמֹות, literally “The names [of]”) – Exodus

  • Vayiqra (וַיִּקְרָא, literally “And He called”) – Leviticus

  • Bemidbar (בְּמִדְבַּר, literally “In the desert [of]” also called Wanderings) – Numbers

  • Devarim (דְּבָרִים, literally “Things” or “Words”) – Deuteronomy


Nevi’im (נְבִיאִיםNəḇî’îm, “Prophets”) is the second main division of the Tanakh, between the Torah and Ketuvim. It contains three sub-groups. This division includes the books which cover the time from the entrance of the Israelites into the Land of Israel until the Babylonian captivity of Judah (the “period of prophecy”).

Their distribution is not chronological, but substantive.

The Former Prophets (נביאים ראשוניםNevi’im Rishonim)

  • Yĕhôshúa‘ (יְהוֹשֻעַ) – Joshua

  • Shophtim (שֹׁפְטִים) – Judges

  • Shmû’ēl (שְׁמוּאֵל) – Samuel

  • M’lakhim (מְלָכִים) – Kings

The Latter Prophets (נביאים אחרוניםNevi’im Aharonim)

  • Yĕsha‘ăyāhû (יְשַׁעְיָהוּ) – Isaiah

  • Yirmyāhû (יִרְמְיָהוּ) – Jeremiah

  • Yĕḥezqiēl (יְחֶזְקֵאל) – Ezekiel

The Twelve Minor Prophets (תרי עשר‎, Trei Asar, “The Twelve”), which are considered one book

  • Hôshēa‘ (הוֹשֵׁעַ) – Hosea

  • Yô’ēl (יוֹאֵל) – Joel

  • ‘Āmôs (עָמוֹס) – Amos

  • ‘Ōvadhyāh (עֹבַדְיָה) – Obadiah

  • Yônāh (יוֹנָה) – Jonah

  • Mîkhāh (מִיכָה) – Micah

  • Naḥûm (נַחוּם) – Nahum

  • Ḥăvaqûq (חֲבַקּוּק) – Habakkuk

  • Tsĕphanyāh (צְפַנְיָה) – Zephaniah

  • Ḥaggai (חַגַּי) – Haggai

  • Zkharyāh (זְכַרְיָה) – Zechariah

  • Mal’ākhî (מַלְאָכִי) – Malachi


Ketuvim (כְּתוּבִים‎, “Writings”) consists of eleven books, described below. They are also divided into three subgroups based on the distinctiveness of Sifrei Emet and Hamesh Megillot.

The three poetic books (Sifrei Emet)

  • Tehillim (תְהִלִּים) – Psalms

  • Mishlei (מִשְׁלֵי) – Proverbs

  • Iyyôbh (אִיּוֹב) – Job

The Five Megillot (Ḥamesh Megillot). These books are read aloud in the synagogue on particular occasions, the occasion listed below in parenthesis.

  • Shīr Hashīrīm (שִׁיר הַשִּׁירִים, literally “Song of songs”, also known as “Song of Solomon”) – Song of Songs

  • Rūth (רוּת) – Ruth

  • Eikhah (אֵיכָה) – Lamentations

  • Qōheleth (קֹהֶלֶת) – Ecclesiastes

  • Estēr (אֶסְתֵר) – Esther

Other books

  • Dānî’ēl (דָּנִיֵּאל) – Daniel

  • ‘Ezrā (עֶזְרָא) – Ezra and Nehemiah

  • Divrei ha-Yamim (דִּבְרֵי הַיָּמִים) – Chronicles

As we continue our journey through the essentails of each book of the Bible, may you be blessed by our time together and may Christ be glorified in you.

This information is sourced from the Jewish Publication Society (JPS) and is used by permission

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