Order of the Prophets.
This Is Appendix 77 From The Companion Bible.
That the Canonical order of the books of the prophets is not their Chronological order is well known.
the dates usually to be found at the head or in the margin of our Bibles-as
well as in many of the "Tables" supplied in "Aids" to
students-involve the subject in hopeless confusion.
The four prophets commonly styled "Greater" (or Longer), viz. ISAIAH, JEREMIAH, EZEKIEL, and DANIEL, are all dated.
Of the other twelve, called "Minor" (or Shorter), six are
dated and six are undated. (See the Structure in the Companion
Bible page 1206).
The dated books are HOSEA, AMOS, MICAH, ZEPHANIAH, HAGGAI, and ZECHARIAH.
The undated books are JOEL, OBADIAH, JONAH, NAHUM, HABAKKUK, and MALACHI.
Of the whole sixteen, therefore, we have ten dated and six undated. (See Appendix 10.)
From the particulars given in the dated books themselves, we
are enabled to lay down with precision the years and periods covered by the
With regard to the undated books the case is different; and
we have to rely upon the guidance of their internal evidence. But this in almost
every case is so clear, that there is no great difficulty in assigning each
of the prophetical books to its respective
chronological position (Obadiah being perhaps the only exception).
The Chart below has been prepared accordingly.
It must be premised that the periods indicated by the thick
black lines are the duration of the periods in which the Divine Message continued
to "come" to and through the particular prophet named: e.g. ISAIAH is
shown on the Chart as 649-588 B.C.,
thus comprising a period of sixty-one years.
This does not represent the years of the prophet's life, which
in all probability extended to
some 81 or 83 years. (See notes on page 930.)
It is a
Jewish belief that JEREMIAH and ZECHARIAH were
contemporaries. This is quite possible. We are not told when, or how, or
where Jeremiah died. When Jerusalem was destroyed finally by Nebuchadnezzar
(477 B.C.) Jeremiah would be about
57 years old. He may easily have lived another thirty or forty, or even more, years after that event. 1
we suppose he outlived the destruction of Jerusalem by forty years, then the year of his death would be 437 B.C., eleven years
before the end of the Babylonian Captivity, in 426 B.C.
ZECHARIAH began his seven years of prophetic ministry twenty-seven years later, in 410 B.C.
But we are not told anything about him in Scripture, save that
his grandfather was a prophet; neither have we any clue to his age,
as we have e.g. in the cases of JEREMIAH and DANIEL. ZECHARIAH may very well have been at least thirty or forty years
of age in 410 B.C., when he gives us his first date (1:1). Consequently, he would have been contemporary with the great
Benjamite priest for from three to thirteen years!
It is further
necessary to state, and important to be observed, that the dates given in
the Chart below have been charted down from the dating given (or suggested
by internal evidence) in the prophetic books themselves, and NOT vice
student may understand that the remarkable and significant groupings of the
prophets as therein depicted are in no wise "manipulated" or "fitted in" to
suit any preconceived ideas or theories. They are charted down simply from
the dates and the data afforded by the sacred records
themselves, and tell clearly their own story.
now to the Chart itself (below), it must be further premised that "section-paper" has
been used, as in Appendix 50. This is highly important;
as only thus can the exact
relative proportions of the length of each prophetical ministry
accurately to the eye. The thick black lines represent the period
covered by each prophet, either as expressly stated, or to be
inferred from internal or historical evidence.
of figures to left and right are B.C. years
from 350 to
by tens. The faint section lines between, mark each two years. The
lines shew the period covered by each prophet, as stated expressly,
be inferred from internal or historical evidence. The top and bottom
of each line mark the exact positions of stated years, on the B.C. columns,
and therefore shew the relative length of each
And here, the value of the section-paper is at once apparent:
as these black lines are not merely approximate in their proportions
of length one to another-as would be the case if they were set up in type;
but, in each
and every case, they begin
and end exactly at the very year stated or indicated. Thus the
eye is enabled at once to grasp the proportionate lengths of each and all of
periods; the overlapping and concurrences in each particular group; the significant
"breaks" between the groups; and
historical position as shown
on the background of the reigns of the kings of Judah and Israel.
The columns of figures to the left and right are the B.C. years, rising by tens from 350 to 700 B.C. Each of the larger
section-squares thus shows twenty years, and each of the small ones two years.
On this plan, every date, year, and period has been charted down, and can be checked by the student with absolute exactitude.
It must also be observed that the thick black lines themselves mark
the exact positions of the beginning and ending of the years shown on the figure-columns
to the left and right, and indicated by the fainter horizontal lines-and NOT the
figures placed directly above and below in each case. These latter merely state
the years which begin and end each period, as shown accurately
by the top and bottom of the black line throughout: e.g. JEREMIAH is
given as 518-477 B.C. The top and bottom of
black stroke are on the lines of these respective years in the figure-columns.
Where there is only one figure given, as in the case of HABAKKUK and ZEPHANIAH, viz. 518 B.C., it will be understood that
only one date year is indicated in the Scriptures.
will be seen on referring to the Chart on above that the sixteen prophetical
books fall into four remarkable and well-defined divisions, separated by
three "breaks", or periods of years as shown below:-
The First Group consists of six prophets:
JONAH, AMOS, HOSEA, ISAIAH, MICAH,
a period of
Then follows a great "gap" or "break" of
| The Second Group consists of seven prophets: viz.:
HABAKKUK, ZEPHANIAH, DANIEL, JOEL,
} covering a period of
Followed by a "gap" or "break" of
| The Third Group consists of two prophets: viz.:
covering a period of
Then follows a "gap" of
| Which is closed by the prophet MALACHI.
The whole period covered by the sixteen prophets is therefore
From the above it is seen that MALACHI is to be reckoned as being separate and apart from the rest; and not, as usually
presented, linked together with HAGGAI and ZECHARIAH. "By the Hebrews, Malachi is known as 'the Seal of the Prophets',
and as closing the Canon of the Jewish Scriptures." 2
The other fifteen prophets (5x3) arrange themselves in three
groups of 6, 7, and 2; and the period covered by these collectively-including
the breaks-is 287 years (forty-one sevens).
The First Group commences with JONAH and ends with NAHUM. Both are connected with Nineveh. This group consists of
six prophets, and the period they cover is 102 years (seventeen sixes).
the First and Second Groups there is the great "gap" or "break" of seventy
years (ten sevens, see Appendix 10).
According to Jewish tradition, ISAIAH perished in
the Manassean persecution (see the Note on p.930). If this persecution took
place, or culminated, about five years
after Manasseh's accession-as is most probable-this would be 584 B.C.;
and that year is
sixty-five years from the dated commencement
of Isaiah's "Vision": viz.,
the year in which King UZZIAH died (649 B.C.:
see Appendix 50. VII, and compare the Chart above).
We have, however, no indication that "the Word of the Lord
ISAIAH later than the end of the reign of
HEZEKIAH, and MANASSEH'S accession
in 588 B.C.
Therefore, from that year on, and until "the thirteenth year
of Josiah" (518 B.C.), there was no "coming" of "the Word";
but, instead, a long solemn silence on the part of Jehovah for seventy
years! (588-518 = 70.) This silence was broken at length by
the Divine utterances through JEREMIAH, HABAKKUK,
and ZEPHANIAH simultaneously,
in 518 B.C.; and the Word then
"came" in an unbroken sequence of ninety-four years (518-424 =
94) through the seven prophets associated with the final scenes
in the history
of the Southern Kingdom, JUDAH-including
the Babylonian Captivity-as the six earlier prophets
been associated with the closing scenes of the Northern Kingdom, which ended
in 601 B.C.
The Second Group closes with the latest date recorded by Daniel, "the
third year of Cyrus" (Daniel
10:1), i.e. in 424 B.C.
Then occurs a short break of fourteen years (two sevens)
DANIEL and HAGGAI (424-410 = 14),
The Third Group, consisting of HAGGAI and ZECHARIAH, extending
over seven years (410-403 = 7).
The seven years covered by Zechariah are succeeded by the last "break" of twenty-nine years,
closed by the affixing of "the Seal
of the Prophets", MALACHI, in 374 B.C. This
was exactly thirty
the restoration of the Temple worship and ritual, commencing after the Dedication
of the Temple in 405 B.C., with the First Passover in
Nisan, 404 B.C. (Appendix 58).
This year (374 B.C.) marked the commencement
of the last great
national testing time of the People in the land: viz. four hundred years (40x10),
and ended with the beginning of Christ's ministry in A.D. 26.
examining this chronological grouping, it will be seen that it presents the
prophetical books to us as a whole; and thus, in a manner is at variance
with the usual classification into "Four Prophets the Greater (or Longer),
and Twelve Prophets the Minor or (Shorter)."
it is, of course, manifestly true that ISAIAH, JEREMIAH,
EZEKIEL, and DANIEL are "greater",
in the sense that they are messages of ampler dimensions, and far wider scope
than the majority of the others, yet-according to their chronological
positions in the Scriptures, as shown in the Chart (above)-it would appear
that they are grouped together by the Divine Spirit, with the so-called "Minor" (or
Shorter) prophets, as being units only in a particular "coming" of
the Word of Jehovah, during certain clearly defined periods of time connected
with the close of the national history of Israel's sons as possessors of the
It is interesting to note the close association of the figures "6" and "7" with
three groups together cover a period of 203 years, during which "the
Word of the Lord came" through
the prophets (102+94+7=203); and = 203 is twenty-nine sevens.
prophecies of the First Group, linked together by the number of
Man "6" (Appendix
10), are seen to be closely connected with the last hundred years
or so of the Northern Kingdom.
prophecies of the Second Group, linked together by the special
number of Spiritual
Perfection "7" (Appendix 10), are as closely connected with the
destruction and punishment of JUDAH and JERUSALEM.
- In the First Group, HOSEA, ISAIAH, and MICAH were contemporary for twenty-one years (three sevens); viz. from 632 to 611 B.C.
In the Second Group, JEREMIAH, DANIEL, JOEL, and EZEKIEL are contemporaries for seven years (one seven); viz. from
484 to 477 B.C.
If OBADIAH'S date is 482 B.C.,
then we have five prophets all contemporaries during this period. And five is
associated with Divine Grace (Appendix 10).
After the "break" of fourteen years (two sevens) between the Second and Third Groups, we have ZECHARIAH, the last of the
fifteen prophets of the three groups, continuing from 410 to 403 B.C. (one seven); HAGGAI being contemporary with him in 410.
The fifteen prophets represent the number of
Grace thrice repeated (5x3).
is 374 B.C. As stated above, this is exactly thirty
years after the Restoration, and the resumption of the Temple worship and
with the Passover in 404 B.C. (Ezra 6:19).
The "Seal of the Prophets" was
therefore affixed thirty years from that important start-point, and twenty-nine clear
years from Ezra's last date: viz., 1st of Nisan 403 B.C. (Ezra
10:17), the year that witnessed the Dedication of the
Wall (Nehemiah 12:27-47)
and the Reformation of the People under Nehemiah (Nehemiah 13:1-31).
may also be noted that the Book of JONAH-the prophet
quoted by our Lord as the "Sign" of His own Resurrection-commences the
grouped fifteen, while ZECHARIAH ends them with the glorious and detailed
statements of the Return of the King to reign as "the Lord
of all the earth".
as the "break" of
twenty-nine years follows after ZECHARIAH, before
the "Seal", MALACHI, is affixed in 374 B.C.,
this points to a fact of great importance: viz., that the Old Testament
is really closed by the Book of Zechariah and not Malachi, as usually understood. Malachi
marks the commencement of the great final probationary period of 400 years,
which ended with the coming of "My Messenger" (John the Baptist) followed
by the Advent of "the Messenger of the Covenant" (Messiah
MALACHI is thus seen to be linked on
to John the Baptist (compare Malachi 4:5,
6, and Matthew 11:10-15), and "seals" together
the last page of the Old Testament, and the beginning of "The Book of the Generation
of Jesus the Messiah."
1 The belief of some that Hebrews 11:37 refers to Jeremiah is based on the Jewish tradition that the prophet was "stoned" to death in Egypt. But of this we have no proof.
2 WORDSWORTH on Malachi, Prelim. note.