Biblical Figures Who Lived Before The First Christmas

Biblical Figures Who Lived Before The First Christmas November 30, 2023

Here is a real quick non-detailed overview of (only) some of  the

Biblical Figures

who lived before the First Christmas occurred.

This brief non-bible study gets many of its descriptions from Wikipedia.
I probably left out some interesting intriguing and engaging characters.
I probably left out some great wonderful fascinating facts and events.
I probably have some writing errors.
But then again this is a brief list of biblical figures.
Don’t except more than just a simple introduction to the major cast in the 1st part of the biblical drama.
If you notice something missing you think should be included, write to me and maybe I’ll include it in an updated future later edition of this post.
But for now, here is what I got.

From Genesis

The first eleven chapters of Genesis, although properly speaking not conforming to the historical method used by the best Greek and Latin writers or by competent authors of our time, do nevertheless pertain to history in a true sense, which however must be further studied and determined by exegetes; the same chapters, in simple and metaphorical language adapted to the mentality of a people but little cultured, both state the principal truths which are fundamental for our salvation, and also give a popular description of the origin of the human race and the chosen people (Humani Generis 38).

How the Old Testament Begins

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. –Genesis 1:1 NIV

  Early World (The Bible in a Year) – YouTube

God Father Son and Holy Spirit Existed

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be
through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race
the light shines in the darkness
and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1: 1 -6

The Angels

For when God said, “Let there be light, and there was light,” if we are justified in understanding in this light the creation of the angels, then certainly they were created partakers of the eternal light which is the unchangeable Wisdom of God, by which all things were made, and whom we call the only-begotten Son of God; so that they, being illumined by the Light that created them, might themselves become light and be called “Day,” in participation of that unchangeable Light and Day which is the Word of God, by whom both themselves and all else were made. – St. Augustine

Adam and Eve
-First Man and Woman

After God created everything else He created mankind. The first man and woman, Adam and Eve, lived with God in the Garden of Eden. They lived in bliss with no problems, no hunger, and no clothes. They helped name all the animals God had created.

The serpent who was slithering around the garden tempted them into eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which God had forbidden. After doing so, they became ashamed of their nakedness and God expelled them from the Garden to prevent them from eating the fruit of the tree of life and becoming immortal.

Of Man’s first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful Seat,

John Milton, Paradise Lost Book 1: Lines 1-5

Michelangelo- Sistine Chapel

Cain and Abel
– Adam and Eve’s Sons.
Cain commits the first murder by killing Abel.

Cain and Abel, 16th-century painting by Titian

Seth– Seth was born after Abel’s murder by Cain, and Eve believed that God had appointed him as a replacement for Abel. He is the only other child of Adam and Eve named in the Bible.

Enoch Enoch walked with God, and he was not; for God took him.

Methuselah -According to the Book of Genesis, Methuselah was the son of Enoch, the father of Lamech, and the grandfather of Noah. He had the longest lifespan of all those given in the Bible, having died at the age of 969.

The subgiant star HD 140283, believed to be the oldest extant star discovered, is often nicknamed “The Methuselah Star” after the ancient biblical figure. The name is also used to refer to the exoplanet PSR B1620−26 b, which is one of the oldest known exoplanets with an estimated age of 12.7 billion years old. 

Noah
God commands Noah to build an ark
as he is going to send a flood to destroy the earth.
Noah is to collect all the animals in the world 2 x 2
and bring them into the Ark.
Did the flood really cover the whole world?

#176:  The Great Flood & Science (Noah’s Ark, Rainbows, Genesis)

 VeggieTales | Noah’s Ark (Full Story) – YouTube

VeggieTales | Don’t Let ‘Em Get You Down! | Minnesota Cuke & Search For Noah’s Umbrella (Full Story) – YouTube

1928–  Noah’s Ark   is a 1928 American sound part-talkie epic and disaster film directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Dolores Costello and George O’Brien.

The Noah Story also includes The Mysterious Nephilim 

Related Modern Story

Johann Friedrich Blumenbach  (May 11, 1752 – January 22, 1840) considered to be a main founder of zoology declares that a series of large bones discovered near Lucerne, a city in central Switzerland, in the German-speaking portion of the country, were in fact remains that belonged to a mammoth. They were first discovered in 1577 and thought to be those of a nephilim from the antediluvian or pre-flood) period is the time period chronicled in the Bible between the fall of man and the Genesis flood narrative in biblical cosmology. The term was coined by Thomas Browne. Alleged discoveries of Nephilim remains have been a common source of hoaxing and misidentification. The Brown-Driver-Briggs Lexicon (1908) gives the meaning of Nephilim as “giants“, and holds that proposed etymologies of the word are “all very precarious”.

The Tower of Babel

Although not a person, the building is like a character.

According to the story, a united human race speaking a single language and migrating eastward, comes to the land of Shinar (שִׁנְעָר‎). There they agree to build a city and a tower with its top in the sky. Yahweh, observing their city and tower, confounds their speech so that they can no longer understand each other, and scatters them around the world.

The Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1563)

Abraham & Sarah

Patriarchs (The Bible in a Year with Fr. Mike Schmitz) – YouTube

The man we know today as Abraham not only claimed that one true Creator existed and that all other gods did not, but he also staked his entire life on this belief. Today this man is revered by the majority of the world as the “father of faith.”  His story is preserved in Genesis, and it tells us much of what we need to know about faith. While each person’s faith journey is unique, Abraham blazed a trail for the rest of us; his faith journey tells us about our own. The biography of Abraham has much to teach anyone—even an atheist—who wants to know the one true Creator
-Charles R. Swindoll, Abraham: One Nomad’s Amazing Journey of Faith  (2014)  Tyndale House Publishers

In Judaism, he is the founding father of the special relationship between the Jews and God; in Christianity, he is the spiritual progenitor of all believers, whether Jewish or non-Jewish; and in Islam, he is a link in the chain of Islamic prophets that begins with Adam and culminates in Muhammad. He was visited by angels and bargained  with God to spare the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. He got his wife pregnant when both of them were really old  and later after their boy was born he was asked by God to  give  his son Isaac as a sacrifice. God also made him a promise that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars are in the sky.

The Angel Hinders the Offering of Isaac, by Rembrandt, 1635
(Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg)

 VeggieTales | The Reward is Worth The Wait! | Abe and the Amazing Promise (Full Story) – YouTube

Melchizedek was the king of Salem, the High Priest forever of the most high God.  In a meeting with Abram, he brings out bread and wine and then blesses him. Later on in biblical history  Jesus Christ is  identified as “a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.

God had promised Abraham land, nationhood, a multitude of nations, descendants as kings, and blessing for all the families of the earth through him. The only land Abraham owned in Canaan during his lifetime was a plot for his wife’s burial (Genesis 23:20). But centuries into the future, his descendants would possess much of the land of Canaan, the Promised Land. During his lifetime, Abraham’s people could only be called a tribe. One day, though, they would become a nation under Moses, with whom God would likewise enter into a covenant. God would further enter into a covenant with David and make that nation into a great kingdom. Abraham certainly did not see all the families of the earth blessed through him during his lifetime. But one day, all those worshipping the one true God would call themselves the descendants of Abraham. Ultimately, all these promises would come to their complete fulfillment in Christ’s new and everlasting covenant.
Abraham: Model of Faithfulness  (JAN 26, 2017)  Ascension Press Media

Isaac

He was the son of Abraham and Sarah, the father of Jacob and Esau, and the grandfather of the twelve tribes of Israel. Isaac’s name means “he will laugh”, reflecting the laughter, in disbelief, of Abraham and Sarah, when told by God that they would have a child. He is the only patriarch whose name was not changed, and the only one who did not move out of Canaan. According to the narrative, he died aged 180, the longest-lived of the three patriarchs.

Jacob and Esau
Isaac’s two sons.

Some Highlights of Jacob’s life.
Jacob gave his twin brother a bowl of stew  for his birthright.
Stole his father’s blessing meant for Esau.
Married sisters Leah and Rachel.
Had a dream of a ladder going up to heaven.
Wrestled with an angel.
Name is changed to Israel.

Joseph
One of Jacob’s 12 sons.

Joseph’s story is a finely wrought and self-contained novella, describing in vivid detail the development of his character from charismatic and arrogant youth to compassionate middle age. . . . Genesis reaches a melodramatic peak in these climactic last chapters: a riches-to-rags-to-riches tale replete with every human passion—love and hate, ambition and glory, jealousy and fury. Tears of joy and grief are shed. Garments are rent in anguish. It’s a gripping saga of treachery and deception, betrayal and forgiveness.
-Naomi H. Rosenblatt, Joshua Horwitz, Wrestling With Angels: What Genesis Teaches Us About Our Spiritual Identity

He was the first of the two sons of Jacob and Rachel (Jacob’s twelfth named child and eleventh son). He is the founder of the Israelite Tribe of Joseph. His story functions as an explanation for Israel’s residence in Egypt. He is the favourite son of the patriarch Jacob, and his jealous brothers sell him into slavery in Egypt, where he eventually ends up incarcerated. After correctly interpreting the dreams of Pharaoh, however, he rises to second-in-command in Egypt and saves Egypt during a famine. Jacob’s family travels to Egypt to escape the famine, and it is through him that they are given leave to settle in the Land of Goshen (the eastern part of the Nile Delta). The real animosity of his brothers began when Jacob gave Joseph a coat of many colors.

 Every once in a while we happen upon a life that boldly represents a contrast to the lowest common denominator of today’s low-level majority opinion. Occasionally, such a person emerges, and we are stunned by his or her greatness. I met a biblical character whose life caused me to shake my head in amazement time after time. Regardless of how he was treated, in spite of unfair and erroneous accusations, even though he was rejected, abandoned, abused, maligned, and forgotten, he refused to become resentful or bear a grudge or succumb to bitterness. To be completely truthful with you, he seemed too good to be real.  Perhaps no life in the Bible reads more like a suspenseful and compelling novel than Joseph’s.
Charles R.Swindoll,  Joseph: A Man of Integrity and Forgiveness  (1998)  Thomas Nelson.

Joseph: King of Dreams – Trailer – YouTube

 VeggieTales | Joseph and his Coat of Veggie Colors | The Old Testament (Part 1) – YouTube

Joseph Overseer of the Pharaoh’s Granaries (1874)
by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema

Moses w/ his brother Aaron and sister Miriam

are the main protagonists found in the books of

Exodus
Leviticus
Numbers
Deuteronomy

 Egypt and Exodus (The Bible in a Year with Fr. Mike Schmitz) – YouTube

Moses became God’s man for a transitional epoch in history. When the divine call came to assume a crucial role in the destiny of men and nations, Moses stepped into the gap. He may have been reluctant. He may have been frightened. He may have been filled with regret and self-doubt. But in the end, he yielded . . . and became God’s instrument in his own generation.
Charles R. Swindoll,  Great Lives: Moses: A Man of Selfless Dedication (Great Lives Series Book 4) (1999)  Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

Moses was the most important prophet for Israel.
He started his life floating in a basket down the nile
to escape being murdered by Pharaoh.
He is found and ironically brought back to Egypt becomes The Prince of Egypt.

The Best Exodus Movie EVER – YouTube Upon Friar Review

And a princess pulled a baby out of the water
He was hidden in the rushes
Sleeping in a basket made of reeds
And you never know who God is gonna use
A princess or a baby
Or maybe even you or me
-Rich Mullins,Who God Is Gonna Use

VeggieTales  Baby Moses | A Lesson in Loving Your Family | – YouTube

Passage of the Jews through the Red Sea (1891), by Ivan Aivazovsky

God spoke to him directly face to face
and in a burning bush.
He lead the Jewish people out of slavery,
instituted the Jewish passover with an angel slaying the first born of Egypt
after releasing 10 plagues upon Egypt.
He also parted the red sea
and gave the world the 10 commandments.

1923The Exodus!  The Ten Commandments  is a American silent religious epic film produced and directed by Cecil B. DeMille that is now in Public Domain. DeMille would later go on to remake The Ten Commandments in 1956.

 The Exodus! (Did It Happen?) – Jimmy Akin’s Mysterious World – YouTube

 VeggieTales | Moe and the Big Exit | Sunday School Lessons – YouTube

After being led out of slavery
the Israelites also wandered in the desert for 40 years.

  Desert Wanderings (The Bible in a Year with Fr. Mike Schmitz) – YouTube

Another interesting character  that appeared in the 4 books starring moses included

“Now Balaam he had a donkey
Who was gentle and true and kind
And the donkey saw an angel with a sword
So he slipped old Balaam past him
And when he done it three times
Well Balaam got so me mad he beat the donkey
And so the Lord
Well he gave the donkey language
And the donkey plainly brayed
“Well there’s an angel about to strike you from the path”
Then old Balaam’s eyes were opened
And he realized he’d been saved
By his donkey from the angel of God’s wrath
-Rich Mullins,Who God Is Gonna Use

Balaam and the angel, painting from Gustav Jaeger, 1836

In the Hebrew Bible, the Urim (Hebrewאוּרִים ʾŪrīm, “lights”) and the Thummim (Hebrewתֻּמִּים Tummīm, meaning uncertain, possibly “perfections”) are elements of the hoshen, the breastplate worn by the High Priest attached to the ephod. They are connected with cleromancy (with divination by casting lots). Most scholars suspect that the phrase refers to a set of two objects used by the high priest to answer a question or reveal the will of God. 

The Urim and the Thummim first appear in Exodus 28:30, where they are named for inclusion on the breastplate to be worn by Aaron in the holy place. Other books, especially 1 Samuel, describe their uses.

 May 12, 1795 –  Urim and Thummim  Congregationalist minister Ezra Stiles ( December 10, 1727 – May 12, 1795) dies. He was one of the founders of Brown University and is noted as the seventh president of Yale College (1778–1795). Yale College is the undergraduate college of Yale University. The Yale University coat of arms is the primary emblem of Yale University. It has a field of the color Yale Blue with an open book and the Hebrew words Urim & and Thummim inscribed upon it in Hebrew letters. Below the shield on a scroll appears Yale’s official motto, Lux et Veritas (Latin for “Light and Truth”). Lux et Veritas has been used for several university mottoes including Indiana University and the University of Montana.

Joshua

Joshua functioned as Moses‘ assistant in the books of Exodus and Numbers, and later succeeded Moses as leader of the Israelite tribes and got his own book in the bible named after him. The book starts out with Rahab the Harlot hiding two Israelite spies sent into the land of Canaan. In the book of Hebrews she is listed as a good example of a person of faith. She is also depicted as a virtuous soul (in The Third Circle of Heaven) in Dante‘s Divine Comedy (Paradiso 9.112 ff.)

Rahab Receiveth and Concealeth the Spies by Frederick Richard Pickersgill (1881)

One of the amazing events recorded in this book include a prayer to stop the sun so that Josh could finish a particular battle. The other amazing event is at the battle of Jericho.  The walls of this walled city  fell after the Israelites marched around the city walls once a day for six days, seven times on the seventh day, with the priests blowing their horns daily and the people shouting on the last day.

VeggieTales | Josh and the Big Wall (Full Story) | A Lesson in Obedience – YouTube

 Conquest and Judges (The Bible in a Year with Fr. Mike Schmitz) – YouTube

From  Judges

The judges  were individuals who served as military leaders in Israel in times of crisis, in the period before the monarchy was established.

Samson and Delilah (1887) by Jose Etxenagusia

Some standout judges out of the 12 mentioned in the book include…

Deborah– She was the the only female judge. She led the Israelite army in a victory over one of their battles with the Canaanites.

Gideon– He eventually lead 300 men in battle after asking for a sign from God which proceeded from a conversation he had with an angel. Gideon requested proof of God’s will by three miracles: firstly a sign from the angel, in which the angel appeared to Gideon and caused fire to shoot up out of a rock,  and then two signs involving a fleece, performed on consecutive nights and the exact opposite of each other. First Gideon woke up to his fleece covered in dew, but the surrounding ground dry; then the next morning, his fleece was dry but the surrounding ground covered in dew.

VeggieTales | Gideon: Tuba Warrior | A Lesson in Trusting God – YouTube

Jephthah -Jephthah led the Israelites in battle against Ammon and, in exchange for defeating the Ammonites, made a vow to sacrifice whatever would come out of the door of his house first. When his daughter was the first to come out of the house, he immediately regretted the vow, which bound him to sacrifice his daughter to God. Jephthah carried out his vow.

Samson– The biblical account states that Samson was a Nazirite, and that he was given immense strength to aid him against his enemies and allow him to perform superhuman feats, including slaying a lion with his bare hands and massacring an entire army of Philistines using only the jawbone of an ass. However, if Samson’s long hair were cut, then his Nazirite vow would be violated and he would lose his strength.

Samson is betrayed by his lover Delilah, who, sent by the Philistines officials to entice him,  orders a servant to cut his hair while he is sleeping and turns him over to his Philistine enemies, who gouge out his eyes and force him to grind grain in a mill at Gaza. While there, his hair begins to grow again. When the Philistines take Samson into their temple of Dagon, Samson asks to rest against one of the support pillars. After being granted permission, he prays to God and miraculously recovers his strength, allowing him to bring down the columns, collapsing the temple and killing himself as well as all of the Philistines.

Oh, Samson, it’s been said you were a mighty man
I’ve heard it said you killed a lion with your hands
And when the people of Philistia raised your Ire
Ain’t you the man who set their fields on fire?

You faced an army of Philistines all alone
And didn’t you tear at their flesh with just a bone?
So tell me, Samson, if these things I hear are true
How could you let a woman get the best of you?

The Statler Brothers

VeggieTales | Finding Your Courage! | Minnesota Cuke & Search for Samson’s Hairbrush (Full Story) – YouTube

Ruth

Ruth is the person after whom the Book of Ruth is named. She was a Moabite woman who married an Israelite. After the death of all the male members of her family (her husband, her father-in-law, and her brother-in-law), she stays with her mother-in-law, Naomi, and moves to Judah with her, where Ruth wins the love and protection of a wealthy relative, Boaz, through her kindness. She is the great-grandmother of David.

She is one of five women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus found in the Gospel of Matthew, alongside TamarRahab, the “wife of Uriah” (Bathsheba), and Mary.

 VeggieTales | Duke and the Great Pie War (Full Story) – YouTube

1 Samuel2 Samuel

1 Kings2 Kings

1 Chronicles 2 Chronicles

 Royal Kingdom (The Bible in a Year with Fr. Mike Schmitz) – YouTube

These books tell about the rise and fall of the Davidic kingdom and the Jews journey into Exile by Nebuchadnezzar II. This guy turned  Judah into a province of the Babylonian empire, sending the Jews into Babylonian captivity, and destroying Jerusalem. He is also associated with his hanging gardens, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

These books featured…

Samuel

Sam is a prophet who  plays a key role in the transition from the biblical judges to the United Kingdom of Israel under Saul, and again in the monarchy‘s transition from Saul to David. He started his career as a young kid and continued it into old age.

Saul

King David first came to the forefront of history when he slew the giant, and the people of Israel celebrated the victory by singing, “Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands!” (1 Samuel 18:7). Though David’s popularity soared due to his heroic bravery, Saul remained king for more than a decade after David killed Goliath. During those years, Saul’s jealousy grew from mild irritation to rage to an insane obsession to see the young hero dead. He eventually declared David an enemy of the state, and Saul dedicated his time and his army to one relentless objective: to exterminate David. But God had other plans for David:
-Charles R Swindoll,  Fascinating Stories of Forgotten Lives (Great Lives Series Book 9)  (2011 ) Thomas Nelson

Saul is the first monarch of the United Kingdom of Israel. He is later rejected as leader in favor of David. The two of them have a very dramatic love/hate relationship with Saul constantly seeking after David to kill him but with David refusing to kill God’s anointed.

David and Saul (1885) by Julius Kronberg.

David

What is true of a once great president named Lincoln is equally true of a once great king named David. The only one in all of Scripture to be called “a man after God’s own heart,” this single individual is mentioned more than any other Old Testament character in the pages of the New Testament. Poet, musician, courageous warrior, and national statesman, David distinguished himself as one of God’s greatest men. In battle, he modeled invincible confidence. In decisions, he judged with wisdom and equity. In loneliness, he wrote with transparent vulnerability and quiet trust. In friendship, he was loyal to the end. Whether a humble shepherd boy or an obscure musician before King Saul, he remained faithful and trustworthy. Even in his promotion to the highest position in the land, David modeled integrity and humility. What a man of God!
Charles R Swindoll   Great Lives: David: A Man of Passion and Destiny (Great Lives Series) (1997) Thomas Nelson

In the biblical narrative of the Books of Samuel, David is described as a young shepherd and harpist who gains fame and becomes a hero by killing Goliath.

 VeggieTales | David & Goliath | The Old Testament (Part 6) – YouTube

He becomes a favorite of Saul, the first king of Israel, but is forced to go into hiding when Saul suspects that David is trying to take his throne. After Saul and his son Jonathan are killed in battle, David is anointed king by the tribe of Judah and eventually all the tribes of Israel. He conquers Jerusalem, makes it the capital of a united Israel, and brings the Ark of the Covenant to the city. Jonathan and David were besties. He commits adultery with Bathsheba and arranges the death of her husband, Uriah the Hittite.

 VeggieTales | King George and the Ducky (Full Story) | Being Less Selfish – YouTube

David’s son Absalom later tries to overthrow him, but David returns to Jerusalem after Absalom’s death to continue his reign. David desires to build a temple to Yahweh but is denied because of the bloodshed in his reign. He dies at age 70 and chooses Solomon, his son with Bathsheba, as his successor instead of his eldest son Adonijah. David is honored as an ideal king and the forefather of the future Hebrew Messiah in Jewish prophetic literature and many psalms are attributed to him.

A psalm of David.

 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
   He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
   he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
 Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley, 
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

-Psalm 23: 1 – 4

Solomon

Solomon was the biblical king most famous for his wisdom. In 1 Kings he sacrificed to God, and God later appeared to him in a dream,asking what Solomon wanted from God. Solomon asked for wisdom in order to better rule and guide his people. Pleased, God personally answered Solomon’s prayer, promising him great wisdom because he did not ask for self-serving rewards like long life or the death of his enemies.

Perhaps the best known story of his wisdom is the Judgement of Solomon; two women each lay claim to being the mother of the same child. Solomon easily resolved the dispute by commanding the child to be cut in half and shared between the two. One woman promptly renounced her claim, proving that she would rather give the child up than see it killed. Solomon declared the woman who showed compassion to be the true mother, entitled to the whole child. 

The Judgement of Solomon by Gaspar de Crayer, c. 1620

Solomon has traditionally been considered the author of several biblical books, including

Proverbs,

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. -Proverbs 17:22 NIV

Ecclesiastes 

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens- Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV

and the Song of Songs 

Strengthen me with raisins, refresh me with apples, for I am faint with love. – Song of Solomon 2:5 NIV

as well as later apocryphal writings such as the

Wisdom of Solomon.

Wisdom is radiant and unfading, and she is easily discerned by those who love her, and is found by those who seek her.
She hastens to make herself known to those who desire her.
One who rises early to seek her will have no difficulty, for she will be found sitting at the gate.
To fix one’s thought on her is perfect understanding, and one who is vigilant on her account will soon be free from care,
because she goes about seeking those worthy of her, and she graciously appears to them in their paths, and meets them in every thought.–Wisdom of Solomon 6:12-16

Elijah

Baal was worshiped as the god of rain and fertility, who controlled the seasons, the crops, and the land. And when Baal worship entered the kingdom of Israel, bringing its heathen practices and barbaric sacrifices, the wickedness in the land only increased. Plunging full-force into the midst of this era of gross evil and wickedness is Elijah, God’s heaven-sent prophet.
Charles R. Swindoll  Elijah: A Man of Heroism and Humility (Great Lives Series Book 5) . (2008) Thomas Nelson.

Elijah Taken Up in a Chariot of Fire by Giuseppe Angeli, c. 1740

He a prophet and a miracle worker who lived in the northern kingdom of Israel  during the reign of King Ahab (9th century BC). In 1 Kings 18, Elijah defended the worship of the Hebrew God over that of the Canaanite deity Baal. God also performed many miracles through Elijah, including resurrection, bringing fire down from the sky to win a contest with some priests who were trying unsuccessfully to do the same thing, and entering heaven alive “by fire.” He also answers the question the music group Creedence Clearwater Revival asked in a song. Who stopped the rain? Elijah did. He asked God to stop rain on the land and God obliged. He also outran a team of horses. His nemeses were Queen Jezebel and her husband AhabKing of Israel. She violently purged the prophets of Yahweh from Israel. Elijah once got depressed about this recurring problem and wandered into the wilderness  hoping to die.

This is your gentle reminder that one time in the Bible, Elijah was like, ‘God, I’m so mad! I want to die!’ so God said, ‘Here’s some food. Why don’t you have a nap?’ So Elijah slept, ate & decided things weren’t so bad.  Never underestimate the spiritual power of a nap and a snack. “  @joynessthebrave (Joy Clarkson)

Ferdinand Bol  Elijah Fed by an Angel between 1660 and 1663

He is also portrayed as leading a school of prophets known as “the sons of the prophets.” Following his ascension, Elisha, his disciple and most devoted assistant, took over his role as leader of this school. The Book of Malachi prophesies Elijah’s return “before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD,”  making him a harbinger of the Messiah and of the eschaton in various faiths that revere the Hebrew Bible. References to Elijah appear in Sirach, the New Testament, the Mishnah and Talmud, the Quran, the Book of Mormon, and Baháʼí writings.

But when I leave I want to go out like Elijah
With a whirlwind to fuel my chariot of fire
And when I look back on the stars
It’ll be like a candlelight in Central Park
And it won’t break my heart to say goodbye
Rich Mullins, Elijah

Elisha

In the biblical narrative, he is a disciple and protégé of Elijah, and after Elijah was taken up in a whirlwind, Elisha received a double portion of his power and he was accepted as the leader of the sons of the prophets. Elisha then went on to perform twice as many miracles as Elijah.

One particular incident in the prophets life includes the time when a group of boys (or youths) from Bethel taunted the prophet for his baldness, Elisha cursed them in the name of Yahweh and two female bears came out of the forest and tore forty-two of the boys.

Elisha Refusing the Gifts of Naaman, by Pieter de Grebber 1630

Another famous story includes the cure of Naaman commander of the army of Syria from leprosy. Elisha then told Naaman to go bathe in the Jordan seven times and he would be clean. Naaman was angry and would have left, but his servant asked him to try it and he was healed. A servant of Elisha, Gehazi, seeing Naaman being turned away from offering God offerings, ran after him and falsely asked for clothing and silver for visitors. And the leprosy from Naaman fell on Gehazi and would remain in his descendants.

The Lost Tribes of Israel 

The Ten Lost Tribes were the ten of the Twelve Tribes of Israel that were said to have been exiled from the Kingdom of Israel after its conquest by the Neo-Assyrian Empire c. 722 BCE. These are the tribes of ReubenSimeonDanNaphtaliGadAsherIssacharZebulunManasseh, and Ephraim—all but JudahBenjamin, and some members of the priestly Tribe of Levi, which did not have its own territory.

1837  -The American diplomat and journalist Mordecai Manuel Noah proposed the idea that the indigenous peoples of the Americas are descended from the Israelites in his publication The American Indians Being the Descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel

1840 – John Wilson ( June 8, 1799 – January 22, 1870) publishes Our Israelitish Origin, a book of his lectures, in which he claimed that the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel had made their way from the Near East, across the continent of Europe, to the British Isles.  He believed the Northern European people to be descended from the Ten Lost Tribes, with the people of Britain being the Tribe of Ephraim. Wilson relied on philological “evidence” of English, Scottish, and Irish words that were similar to Hebrew words, even though he lacked formal training in language or seminary. Other members of the  British Israelism movement, included Edward Wheler Bird and Edward Hine.

1934 – Ben Aronin’s adventure novel The Lost Tribe. Being the Strange Adventures of Raphael Drale in Search of the Lost Tribes of Israel is published. It’s about  a teenager named Raphael who finds the lost tribe of Dan beyond the Arctic Circle.

 EzraNehemiah

  Return (The Bible in a Year with Fr. Mike Schmitz) – YouTube

After the  Babylonian exile, when the Jews returned to their native land, Ezra the priest reintroduced the Torah in Jerusalem. Nehemiah, was a Jew who was governor of the province of Judah at the Persian court. He helped rebuild the walls of Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile and further helped the dedication of the city and its people back to God’s laws (Torah).

Any person who has tackled the task of presenting the Bible to people will find a friend in Ezra. He was a student. He was an interpreter. In fact, the clearest Old Testament reference to exposition is attributed to Ezra. He was the head of the Levites who “read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading” (Nehemiah 8:8 NKJV).

Ezra Reads the Law to the People by Gustave Doré

The tenderness of Lincoln. The fire of Patton. The savvy of Churchill. All found in the same man. Nehemiah. When we meet him he is wearing the robe of royalty. He is the king’s cupbearer. But though he was in a position of power, his heart beat for people in Israel. He was a Hebrew in Persia. When word reached him that the Temple was being reconstructed, he grew anxious. He knew there was no wall to protect it.

Nehemiah invited God to use him to save the city. God answered his prayer by softening the heart of the Persian king. Artaxerxes gave not only his blessing, but also supplies to be used in the project. Nehemiah exchanged the royal robe for coveralls and got to work. The project took twelve years and was uphill all the way. He was accused of everything from allowing faulty construction to being power-hungry. In spite of grumpy workers and lurking enemies, he made it. With the wall built and the enemy silent, the people rejoiced and Nehemiah went back to Persia.
Max Lucado, Life Lessons from Ezra and Nehemiah: Lessons in Leadership(2019)  Harper Christian Resources

Tobit

The story of Tobit tells the story of two Israelite families, that of the blind Tobit in Nineveh and of the abandoned Sarah in Ecbatana.  Tobit’s son Tobias is sent to retrieve ten silver talents that Tobit once left in Rages, a town in Media; guided and aided by the angel Raphael he arrives in Ecbatana, where he meets Sarah.  A demon named Asmodeus has fallen in love with her and kills anyone she intends to marry, but with the aid of Raphael the demon is exorcised and Tobias and Sarah marry,  after which they return to Nineveh where Tobit is cured of his blindness.

The wedding of Tobias and Sarah: Raphael binds the demon. Jan Steen, c. 1660

Tobit’s Dog: A Novel (2015) by Michael N. Richard  is a retelling of the biblical story of Tobit, set in North Carolina during the Depression. It brings to life in surprising ways the beloved Old Testament characters, including the important but often overlooked family dog.

Judith

Judith, a Jewish widow uses her beauty and charm to kill an Assyrian general who has besieged her city, Bethulia. With this act, she saves nearby Jerusalem from total destruction.

Esther

A Jewish girl raised in Persia by a cousin named Mordecai. She becomes the wife of the king by winning the Miss Persia contest. Her husband is Xerxes.(Better known to some as Ahasuerus, which sounds like something you do when you have a bad cold.) It’s a rags-to-riches romance, though you’ve got to wonder how much romance could occur when you are married to a guy who could chop your head off if you popped into his office without an appointment. But that’s what Esther did. She took the chance at the chance it would save her nation. That is the part of Esther you admire.

Aside from being a beauty, she was gutsy. Xerxes’s right-hand man is Haman. (A name that, as you’ll soon see, sounds curiously close to “hangman.”) Haman was a raging Nazi. Nothing would suit him better than annihilation of the Jews. One day he got his chance. Mordecai, Esther’s foster father, refused to bow before Haman. Haman was so mad he convinced Xerxes to let him do away with the whole nation. That’s where Esther comes in.
-Max Lucado,  Life Lessons from Daniel and Esther: Faith Under Pressure  (2019) Harper Christian Resources

Now Esther she was a beauty
Who was pleasing to a man
And the man that she was pleasing was a king
But her people’s lives were threatened
By some wicked men’s plans
Nobody knew just how the lord was gonna intervene
Well Mordecai her uncle he was honest but he was smart
And he knew that Esther’s beauty was a gift
He said “Maybe you could cook some supper
Maybe you could change a king’s heart
Who knows but what you come into the world
For such a time as this”
-Rich Mullins,Who God Is Gonna Use

VeggieTales | Esther: The Girl Who Became Queen (Full Story) | Girls with Courage! – YouTube

There’s “the power of a woman” who finds herself thrust into a threatening situation that has no visible escape route. A mixture of uncertainty and danger lurks in the shadows as she finds herself virtually trapped in a no-win maze of circumstantial misery. Remarkably, she does not despair. On the contrary, she survives, she excels. It’s as if she were made “for such a time as this.” Esther was that kind of woman. Unwittingly victimized by an unbearable situation, she stepped up and determined, by God’s grace, to make a difference. Throwing protocol to the wind and ignoring all her fears, this woman stood in a gap most of her peers would never have risked. In doing so, she not only exposed and foiled the plans of an evil man, who, like Adolph Hitler, had a violent agenda. She alone saved her nation from extermination. Now, that’s what I call power!
Charles R. Swindoll,  Esther: A Woman of Strength and Dignity (Great Lives Series Book 2) (1997)  Thomas Nelson

1 Maccabees2 Maccabees

 Maccabean Revolt (The Bible in a Year with Fr. Mike Schmitz) – YouTube

The Maccabees lead by Judah Maccabee , were a group of Jewish rebel warriors who took control of Judea, which at the time was part of the Greek Seleucid Empire. They founded the Judean Hasmonean dynasty, which ruled from 167 to 37 BCE, being a fully independent kingdom from 104 to 63 BCE. They reasserted the Jewish religion, expanded the boundaries of Judea by conquest, and reduced the influence of Hellenism and Hellenistic Judaism.

The Maccabees played a significant role in shaping Judaism before the coming of the foretold Messiah.

Firstly, the Maccabees were able to reclaim the Temple in Jerusalem and rededicate it to the worship of God. This event, known as the “Miracle of the Oil,” is celebrated in the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah and is seen as a major victory for the Jewish people and their religious traditions.

Secondly, the Maccabees established an independent Jewish kingdom, the Hasmonean dynasty, which allowed for the preservation of Jewish religious and cultural traditions. The Hasmoneans, who were also priests, emphasized the importance of Jewish religious law and the study of the Torah, which helped to solidify the foundations of Judaism as a religion.

Thirdly, the Hasmoneans expanded the boundaries of the Jewish state and this led to the spread of Judaism and the conversion of many people to the faith.

Lastly, the Maccabees paved the way for the emergence of the Pharisees, a sect that developed around the time of the Hasmonean dynasty, which would later become one of the most influential Jewish sects before the coming of the Messiah.

Overall, the Maccabees played a vital role in preserving and strengthening Jewish religious and cultural traditions, and their legacy continues to be felt in the Jewish religion to this day.

Edward Andrews, THE MACCABEES: The Hasmonaean Dynasty between Malachi and Matthew (2023)Christian Publishing House

Maccabee!: The Story of Hanukkah  (2014)

by Tilda Balsley(Author), David Harrington(Illustrator)

One of the standout stories of the Maccabees is the mother who was captured along with her 7 sons. The king wanted the brothers to eat pork. The brothers would rather die and so the king obliged and killed them all.

Wojciech Stattler‘s “Machabeusze” (“The Maccabees”), 1844

Job

Job is a wealthy and God-fearing man with a comfortable life and a large family. God asks Satan (הַשָּׂטָןhaśśāṭān, ‘lit. ’the adversary”) for his opinion of Job’s piety. When Satan states that Job would turn away from God if he were rendered penniless, without his family, and materially uncomfortable, God allows him to do so to prove Satan wrong.

Like Job, you have been unable to understand why.
Like Job, you have not deserved the affliction,
but the pain continues.
Like Job, you have prayed for answers
and waited for God to bring relief.
Neither has occurred.
Like Job, you keep praying and waiting.
Like Job, you sometimes wonder, “Where is God?”
He remains silent and seems aloof.
Nevertheless, you faithfully endure.
Because of that, like Job, you will someday be greatly rewarded.
You have my highest admiration.
Charles R. Swindoll,  Great Lives: Job: A Man of Heroic Endurance (Great Lives from God’s Word) (2009) Thomas Nelson.

Sirach

Ben Sira (Sirach) was a wise sage who wanted to help his fellow Jews gain wisdom, so he wrote this book to help them with that  task.

All wisdom* is from the Lord and remains with him forever.
The sands of the sea, the drops of rain, the days of eternity—who can count them?
Heaven’s height, earth’s extent, the abyss and wisdom—who can explore them?
Before all other things wisdom was created; and prudent understanding, from eternity.

The root of wisdom—to whom has it been revealed?
Her subtleties—who knows them?†
There is but one, wise and truly awesome,
seated upon his throne—the Lord.

It is he who created her,
saw her and measured her,
Poured her forth upon all his works,
upon every living thing according to his bounty,
lavished her upon those who love him.
Sirach 1: 1 -10

 Major Prophets of the Bible

Isaiah

 Isaiah prophesizes the judgments awaiting nations that are persecuting Judah. In the book that bears it’s name comes the prophecy. Isaiah provides 27 of the 37 quotations from the prophets in the Pauline epistles, and takes pride of place in the Gospels and in Acts of the Apostles.  Isaiah 7:14, where the prophet is assuring king Ahaz that God will save Judah from the invading armies of Israel and Syria, forms the basis for Matthew 1:23‘s doctrine of the virgin birth,[46] while Isaiah 40:3–5’s image of the exiled Israel led by God and proceeding home to Jerusalem on a newly constructed road through the wilderness was taken up by all four Gospels and applied to John the Baptist and Jesus.

Russian icon of the Prophet Isaiah, 18th century
(iconostasis of Transfiguration Church, Kizhi monastery, KareliaRussia

Jeremiah

Jeremiahprophesizes to the Jews in exile in Babylon, explaining the disaster of exile as God’s response to Israel’s pagan worship. Jeremiah’s prophecies prompted plots against him. One off those plots involved him being thrown into a deep enough pit so he couldn’t easily escape it.  Jeremiah may have also wrote Lamentations which tells of the mourning the desertion of the city by God, its destruction, and the ultimate return of the divinity.

Horace VernetJeremiah on the Ruins of Jerusalem (1844)

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. -Lamentations 3:22 NIV

Baruch

Baruch ben Neriah was the scribe, disciple, secretary, and devoted friend of the Biblical prophet Jeremiah.

Ezekiel

Ezekiel tells of the judgements on Israel and the nation and also the future blessings of Israel.

The Vision of The Valley of The Dry Bones by Gustave Doré, 1866

Daniel

Danielwas a noble Jewish youth of Jerusalem taken into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon, serving the king and his successors with loyalty and ability until the time of the Persian conqueror Cyrus, all the while remaining true to the God of Israel. He would interpret dreams, would  receive apocalyptic visions which included the various conquering kingdoms taking over the people and coming of the messiah who Daniel saw as the Ancient of Days which Jesus applies to himself when he arrives on the scene.

Talkin’ Daniel
In the den of the lions
Talkin’ Jonah
In the belly of a whale
Talkin’ three Hebrew children
And they’re standing in a furnace
Fiery furnace
But the fire didn’t burn them
And the lions didn’t bite
And the Lord reached down
And you can be sure that
Everything turned out right
Oh, you’ll meet the Lord
In the furnace
A long time before you meet Him
In the sky
– Rich Mullins, Where You Are

Briton Rivière, 1890

Though he was only a teenager when taken captive, he remembers well the songs of his youth. Somewhere in his early years he came to believe that God was sovereign. Nothing happens without his permission. Nothing happens outside of his plan. But even Daniel could not have imagined the plans God had for him. Prime minister of the court. Interpreter of dreams. Prophet. Teacher. Ruler. A lifelong voice for God among pagan people. But though the central character of the book is Daniel, the hero is God. “There is a God in heaven . . .” Daniel told the king (2:28), and it was that God in heaven who sustained Daniel and the people while in captivity.
Max Lucado,  Life Lessons from Daniel and Esther: Faith Under Pressure (2019)  Harper Christian Resources.

VeggieTales | Daniel and the Lions’ Den – YouTube

The book of Daniel includes the most famous story of him being thrown into a den of lions and surviving the ordeal thanks to the intervention of an angel. Other well known stories include…

  • The story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego being thrown into a “fiery furnace” for refusing to bow down to a idol and like Daniel surviving the ordeal.   VeggieTales | All the Songs from ‘Rack, Shack & Benny’ – YouTube
  • King Belshazzar and his noble buddies blasphemously drink from sacred Jewish temple vessels, offering praise to inanimate gods, until a mysterious hand suddenly appears and writes upon the wall.
  • Daniel saves the life of a beautiful young innocent young woman named Suzanna from the false accusations of two lustful old men who were upset at being rejected by her and told lies to those in charge hoping she would be put to death for sexual immorality. Daniel turns the tables exposing the lies and two men are thrust with the punishment they meant for Suzzie.
  • Daniel proves to the king that a idol made of clay really doesn’t really eat the sacrificial meal let out at night for him,  but that a bunch of priests and their families do instead.

Susanna and the Elders  (1610) by Artemisia Gentileschi

Minor Prophets of the Bible

The Books of the Twelve Minor Prophets | Catholic Answers Magazine

The name “Minor Prophets” goes back apparently to St. Augustine, who distinguished the 12 shorter prophetic books as prophetae minores from the four longer books of the prophets IsaiahJeremiahEzekiel, and Daniel.

The Minor Prophets are…

Hosea

Set around the fall of the Northern Kingdom of Israel,   Hosea denounces the worship of gods other than Yahweh (the God of Israel), metaphorically comparing Israel’s abandonment of Yahweh to a woman being unfaithful to her husband. According to the book’s narrative, the relationship between Hosea and his unfaithful wife Gomer is comparable to the relationship between Yahweh and his unfaithful people Israel: this text “for the first time” describes the latter relationship in terms of a marriage. The eventual reconciliation of Hosea and Gomer is treated as a hopeful metaphor for the eventual reconciliation between Yahweh and Israel.

JoelAmosObadiah

Jonah

Jonah the prophet is the most famous of all the minor prophets. He is sent to Nineveh to preach repentance. But instead he tries to run away from his mission. He ends up being on a boat in which God sends a storm to remind Jonah that he has a mission to preach. The others on the boat eventually toss him overboard in which a big giant sea creature, often depicted as a whale, swallows Jonah and carries him around for 3 days and finally spits him out at Nineveh. Jonah goes through the city preaching ‘Repent’. And the city actually repents, which causes the prophet of God to pout that God didn’t destroy them and goes under a giant vine to rest and complain and wishing to die that God is actually merciful.

VeggieTales| Jonah and the Whale | A Lesson in Second Chances – YouTube

MicahNahumHabakkuk

ZephaniahHaggaiZechariahMalachi

How the Old Testament Ends

Remember the law of Moses my servant, whom I charged at Horeb With statutes and ordinances for all Israel.
Now I am sending to you Elijah* the prophet, Before the day of the LORD comes, the great and terrible day;
He will turn the heart of fathers to their sons, and the heart of sons to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the land with utter destruction.
Malachi 3:22 – 24
ACT 1 of Salvation History Ends
The stage is set or the coming of the Messiah.

Browse Our Archives