Hebrew Bible: The Tanakh

The Tanakh is the canonical collection of 24 Hebrew texts that form the Hebrew Bible. The word “Tanakh” is really an acronym of the first Hebrew letter of each of the three major traditional subdivisions of the Hebrew Bible in the Masoretic Text: Torah (Teaching or Five Books of Moses), Nevi’im (Prophets), and Ketuvim (The Writings). In Christian tradition, the Tanakh is known as the Old Testament.

The Torah

The Torah is the first major subdivision of the Tanakh. It consists of five books, commonly referred to as the “Five Books of Moses” or “Chumash.” The names of these books in Hebrew are derived from the first prominent Hebrew word in each book:

  • Bereshit (Genesis)
  • Shemot (Exodus)
  • Vayikra (Leviticus)
  • Bamidbar (Numbers)
  • Devarim (Deuteronomy)

Please note that these first five books form only the Written Torah or Torah she-bi-khtav. There is a more extensive part of the Torah which explains how the laws in the Written Torah are to be observed and defines concepts, standards, and guidelines with respect to rituals and observance which could not be fully captured within the Written Torah. This part of the Torah is called the Oral Torah or Torah She-Baal Peh.

The Nevi’im

The Nevi’im or “Prophets,” the second major subdivision, consists of the narrative books of the Nevi’im Rishonim or Former Prophets, the Nevi’im Aharonim or Latter Prophets, and the Trei Asar or Twelve Minor Prophets.

The Nevi’im Rishonim or Former Prophets consist of the books JoshuaJudgesSamuel, and Kings. The books of 1st Samuel and 2nd Samuel are considered one book, as are 1st Kings and 2nd Kings.

The Nevi’im Aharonim or Latter Prophets consist of the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.

The Trei Asar or Twelve Minor Prophets consist of Hoshea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi). The Trei Asar are considered one book.

The Ketuvim

The Ketuvim or Writings, the third major subdivision, consists of the Sifrei Emet or Three Poetic Books (Psalms, Proverbs, and Job), the Chamesh Megillot or Five Scrolls (Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther) and other books (Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, and Chronicles). The books of Ezra and Nehemiah are considered one book, as are 1st Chronicles and 2nd Chronicles.

The 24 Books of the Tanakh

The following is a list of the 24 books of the Tanakh in English and Hebrew transliteration, in the order in which they appear in the Hebrew Bible:

# English Hebrew
Teaching/Five Books of Moses Torah/Chumash
1 Genesis Bereshit
2 Exodus Shemot
3 Leviticus Vayyiqra
4 Numbers Bemidbar
5 Deuteronomy Devarim
Prophets Nevi’im
The Former Prophets Nevi’im Rishonim
6 Joshua Yehoshua
7 Judges Shofetim
8 1st Samuel Shemu’el Alef
2nd Samuel Shemu’el Bet
9 1st Kings Melakhim Alef
2nd Kings Melakhim Bet
The Latter Prophets Nevi’im Aharonim
10 Isaiah Yesha’yahu
11 Jeremiah Yirmeyahu
12 Ezekiel Yehezqel
The Twelve Minor Prophets Trei Asar
13 Hoshea Hoshea
Joel Yo’el
Amos ‘Amos
Obadiah Ovadyah
Jonah Yonah
Micah Mikha
Nahum Nakhum
Habakkuk Havaqquq
Zephaniah Tsefanyah
Haggai Haggai
Zechariah Zekharyah
Malachi Malakhi
The Writings Ketuvim
The Three Poetic Books Sifrei Emet
14 Psalms Tehillim
15 Proverbs Mishlei
16 Job Iyyov
The Five Scrolls Hamesh Megillot
17 Song of Songs Shir HaShirim
18 Ruth Rut
19 Lamentations Eikha
20 Ecclesiastes Qohelet
21 Esther Ester
Other Books
22 Daniel Daniyyel
23 Ezra Ezra
Nehemiah Nekhemya
24 1st Chronicles Divrei HaYamim Alef
2nd Chronicles Divrei HaYamim Bet

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