AMOS

Amos said of himself, “I am no prophet, nor was I a son of a prophet, but I was a sheepbreeder and a tender of sycamore fruit” (7:14). He was from the village of Tekoa (1:1) just south of Jerusalem. Though he was from the southern kingdom, God called him to prophesy to Israel in the north. He began to prophesy two years before an earthquake (also mentioned in Zechariah 14:5), in the reign of Uzziah king of Judah and Jeroboam king of Israel.

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JOEL

We know very little about the prophet Joel. He is identified as the son of Pethuel (1:1), but there is no mention of this man elsewhere in Scripture. Joel’s name is from the Hebrew Yow’el, combining the prefix of both Jehovah and Elohim and simply means “Jehovah is God.”

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HOSEA

Hosea was a contemporary of Isaiah and Micah, prophesying from about 750-725 BC. His messages were primarily for the northern tribes who would be destroyed by the Assyrians in 721 BC. The people of Israel had demonstrated they were beyond turning back to the Lord, they were a nation ready to be eradicated. Though the northern kingdom was his initial audience, he also spent time speaking to Judah.

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DANIEL

Daniel is the fourth of the major prophets. He was among those who were carried away to Babylon. Daniel’s name means “God is my judge.” He was an exceptional example of faith throughout his life (1:8; 6:10), and his faithfulness was rewarded with responsibility and authority, despite being an exile in the land of Babylon. He was brought to Babylon to serve in the king’s court (1:3-5, 19) and found himself promoted after interpreting Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (2:48). He was also appointed as a governor by Darius after the fall of the Chaldeans (6:2-3).

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EZEKIEL

Ezekiel is the third of the major prophets. He was of the tribe of Levi and served as a priest among God’s people in the land of the Chaldeans (1:3). Ezekiel was carried away to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar in 597 when King Jehoiachin was taken captive (1:1-2). The LORD refers to the prophet as “son of man” throughout the book of Ezekiel.

Ezekiel gives many time stamps throughout his writing. His typical manner of dating is to give the year of his captivity, the month, and the day of the month on which the event or the revelation occurred (1:1-2; 4:6; 8:1; 20:1; 24:1; 26:1; 29:1, 17; 30:20; 31:1; 32:1, 17; 33:21; 40:1; 46:13, 17).

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JEREMIAH & LAMENTATIONS

Jeremiah spent over 40 years as a prophet of God. He began in the 13th year of Josiah (1:2) and continued until after Gedaliah was appointed governor over Judah (40:5). His work spanned the reigns of five kings in Judah (Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah). The work of at least five other prophets (Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Joel, Daniel, and Ezekiel) intersected the work of Jeremiah.

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ISAIAH

Isaiah is the first of the four major prophets in the Bible. The timeframe for Isaiah is given in 1:1, “…in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.” He wrote and prophesied from 740-681 BC. The northern tribes were destroyed by Assyria about half way into Isaiah’s tenure.

Isaiah was the son of Amoz (1:1, 2:1; 13:1; 20:2; 37:2, 21; 38:1). Tradition says he was of the tribe of Judah, though Scripture is silent on his tribe. He was married. We do not know his wife’s name, but she is identified as a prophetess (8:3). He had two sons: Shear-Jashub (7:3), meaning “a remnant shall return,” and Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz (8:1), meaning “swift is the booty, speedy is the prey.”

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SONG OF SOLOMON

“The song of songs, which is Solomon’s.” (Song of Solomon 1:1)

This opening verse confirms the authorship of the book, but also emphasizes the greatness of this song. It is not a song among songs, but “the song of songs.” It is deemed to be the greatest of Solomon’s songs.

Sadly, the Song of Solomon is sometimes overlooked or avoided when it comes to Bible study. The writing style is unlike any other book in the Bible; it is entirely poetry and discourse. The book addresses the marriage relationship and thus has some texts which are sensual in nature, which no doubt is uncomfortable or challenging for some readers.

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ECCLESIASTES

The title Ecclesiastes comes from the Greek translation of the opening line, “The words of the Preacher…” The word preacher is qoheleth in the Hebrew or ekklesiastes in Greek. The Hebrew term appears in the feminine form, which shows “…that divine Wisdom herself speaks through the inspired king Solomon” (Fausset Bible Dictionary). It is fitting the word appears seven times, inferring the perfection of wisdom.

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PROVERBS

After Solomon rose to the throne, the LORD appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Ask! What shall I give you?’ Solomon responded, ‘…give to your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil’ (1 Kings 3:5, 9). It took a measure of wisdom to ask this rather than for longevity, wealth, power, etc.. The LORD honoured Solomon’s request, and also blessed him with great wealth, honour and longevity.

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