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Minor Prophets (The Old Testament)

The Foundations of the Christian Faith

The Minor Prophets [an exerpt...]

The Minor Prophets cover the books of Hosea to Malachi and form the final section of the Old Testament canon. They follow the Major Prophets in the Hebrew Scriptures. Their present arrangement follows the order of the Latin Vulgate, which in turn follows the order of the Septuagint (LXX) in placing Hosea first as an introduction to the general themes of warning, judgment, repentance, and restoration in the 12 prophets. [...]

Jewish rabbinic tradition held that the men of the Great Synagogue edited the 12 individual books into a single volume in the Hebrew Bible. 1 Their placement of the Minor Prophets in relation to the Major Prophets indicates that these books were revered as inspired Scriptures of equal value to their larger counterparts. In other words, the messages of the Minor Prophets were of major significance for the people of Israel. [...]

These books are 12 separate compositions in our English Bible, but they appear as a single "Book of the 12" in the Hebrew Bible. [...]


The books of the Minor Prophets cover the period from the eighth to the fifth centuries BC. This time began with an era of great prosperity for both Israel (northern kingdom) and Judah (southern kingdom) but ended in disaster for both kingdoms. [...]


The messages of the Minor Prophets were delivered on separate occasions and later collected and arranged in book form. Robert Chisholm suggests six distinct patterns of prophetic speech that appear in the messages of the prophets.

Inclusio: the conclusion corresponds to the introduction (see Mic 1:8–16).
Chiasmus: the center of the literary unit builds toward a climax (see Joel 2:19–27).
Judgment speech: an accusation is followed by a pronouncement of judgment (see Amos 1:3–5).
Woe oracles: judgments that presume guilt and begin with the word "woe" (Hb. hoy).
Exhortation: a call to repentance reinforced by a promise of hope (see Joel 2:12–14).
Salvation announcements: promises of God's deliverance and blessing (see Amos 9:11–15).



Three of the Minor Prophets (27 chapters in the English Bible) are focused on the northern kingdom of Israel (capital, Samaria):

Hosea: God's Unquenchable Love
Amos: God's Ultimate Justice
Jonah: God's Universal Concern

Six of the Minor Prophets (20 chapters in the English Bible) are focused on the southern kingdom (capital, Jerusalem):

Joel: Day of the Lord
Obadiah: Doom of Edom
Micah: Divine Lawsuit
Nahum: Destruction of Nineveh
Habakkuk: Destruction of Babylon
Zephaniah: Disaster Is Imminent

The last three Minor Prophets (20 chapters in the English Bible) are focused on the Jewish exiles who have returned from Babylon to rebuild the temple and reestablish Jerusalem. They form the final link to the Messianic prophecies, which are fulfilled in Jesus in the New Testament:

Haggai: Rebuild the Temple
Zechariah: Restore the King
Malachi: Repent of Sin

The messages of the Minor Prophets still speak to us today. They remind us that God holds all people responsible for their behavior, especially those who claim to belong to Him. God's warnings to Israel and Judah were meant to turn them away from impending disaster and urge them to be faithful to the One who really loved them. Thus, the call of the prophets echoes down the canyon of time, calling us to repent, return, and experience God's grace and forgiveness resulting in revival, restoration, and hope for the future.

For Further Reading

Bullock, C. Hassell. An Introduction to the Old Testament Prophetic Books. Chicago: Moody Press, 1986.

Chisholm, Robert B., Jr. Interpreting the Minor Prophets. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990.

Craigie, Peter C. The Twelve Prophets, 2 vols. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1985.

Feinberg, Charles L. The Minor Prophets. Chicago: Moody Press, 1976.

Freeman, Hobart E. An Introduction to the Old Testament Prophets. Chicago: Moody Press, 1968.

Hays, J. Daniel. The Message of the Prophets. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010.

Smith, Gary V. The Prophets as Preachers: An Introduction to the Hebrew Prophets. Nashville: B&H, 1994.

1. R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1969), 858.

2. Paul R. House, Old Testament Theology (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1998), 348.

3. Robert Chisholm, Interpreting the Minor Prophets (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1990), 260.

[Hindson and Yates (2017). (p. 367). The Essence of the Old Testament: A Survey. B&H Publishing Group. Retrieved from]
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