Author: Gidon Ariel

Published Date: November 27, 2016

This week, we feature a question that Bob O’Dell posed (partnership has its privileges:-) He was asking about the contents of the Haftarah of last week’s portion, Chayei Sarah:

Why does the Prophets portions have passages outside of the Prophets?

I could understand last week with Elisha (II Kings 4:1 – 4:37, that recounts stories of Elisha the Prophet’s miracles), because while it was not in a book of a prophet it was a story about a prophet. But this week (I Kings 1:1 – 1:31, which tells the story of the search for a companion for King David and a story of transfer of power from King David to his son Solomon)?

At first I did not completely understand this question, but then I realized that the order and categorization of the books in the Jewish Bible, the Tanach, differs somewhat from the order of the Christian Old Testament.

The Jewish Bible is divided into three parts:

The Torah: the five books of Moses and the Pentateuch;

The Nevi’im, the Prophets (defined in detail below); and

The Ketuvim, the Writings: everything else (also detailed below).

These three words form the acronym TaNaK, but the letter Kaf (K) is pronounced like a K when it appears at the beginning of a word, but as a ch in the end or the middle of a word, which is why it is usually transliterated as Tanach.

The Nevi’im (prophets) include the major history books from Joshua to Kings (in between them, Judges and Samuel), the major prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel (called major because each book is over forty chapters long), and “the Twelve” (that is, the twelve shorter books of the prophets, sometimes called minor because they are shorter), namely Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.

The Writings include the three books of wisdom Psalms, Proverbs and Job (traditionally attributed to David, Solomon and Not Sure), the five Scrolls of Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther, and the later written historical books of Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, and Chronicles.

So, even though Kings might not seem like a prophetic book and Daniel might seem like one, the traditional Jewish order and categorization is as above.




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