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The Jewish Study Bible Contextualizes the Hebrew Bible with accompanying scholarly text on Jewish traditions and history.

The Latter Prophets and Their Order

THE BOOKS OF ISAIAH, JEREMIAH, EZEKIEL, AND THE TWELVE are fundamentally different from the previous four books: With the exception of Jonah in the Twelve, they all contain collections of oracles attributed to various prophets, who spoke these oracles publicly to the Israelites. These contrast with the prophets described in the Former Prophets, whose mission was largely private, mostly to kings, and whose prestige was often established through performing unusual (“magical”) actions (see esp. Elijah and Elisha, 1 Kings chs 17–19, 21; 2 Kings chs 1–9 ) rather than through speaking the divine word in elevated rhetorical speeches.

In contrast to the Torah, there is some debate about how these four latter prophetic books should be ordered. The typical manuscript order of the first three, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, reflects chronological ordering. (First) Isaiah was active mostly in the later 8th century, Jeremiah prophesied in the late 7th through the early 6th century, while Ezekielspoke in the Babylonian exile in the 6th century. The Twelve is then placed last as reflecting prophets working in a diversity of time periods; the latest prophets (Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi) are later than Ezekiel, reflecting the return from exile. A different order is noted in the Babylonian Talmud (b. B. Bat.14b): Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, the Twelve. This is explained in terms of offering thematic continuity: The pessimistic Jeremiah follows the destruction noted at the end of Kings, and this is followed by Ezekiel, which opens with destruction and finishes with consolation.

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