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The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament
John H. Walton, Victor H. Matthews and Mark W. Chavalas

0830814191 Retail Price: $35.00
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Format: Hardcover, 800pp.
ISBN: 0830814191
Publisher: InterVarsity Press
Pub. Date: November 2000

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About the Author
Table of Contents
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From The Publisher:

How can we account for the "Book of the Law" suddenly being discovered during Josiah's renovation of the temple (2 Chron 34:14)? We know from Egypt and Mesopotamia that it was common to seal important documents--including theological documents--in the masonry or foundations of a palace or temple in order to inform a future king who might undertake restoration of the building.

What might the psalmist have had in mind when praising God for removing our transgressions "as far as the east is from the west" (Ps 103:12)? In an Egyptian hymn to Amun-Re, the deity is praised for his judgment of the guilty. As a result of the god's discernment the guilty are assigned to the east and the righteous to the west.

What is meant by God "weighing the heart" (Prov 21:2)? In Egyptian religious tradition we find the notion of the dead being judged before the gods. As the soul is examined, the dead person's heart is weighed in a scale against a feather symbolizing Truth. If the answers are correct and the heart does not outweigh the feather, the soul may enter the realm of everlasting life.

The narratives, genealogies, laws, poetry, proverbs and prophecies of the Old Testament are deeply rooted in history. Archaeologists, historians and social scientists have greatly advanced our knowledge of the ancient world of the Bible. When we illuminate the stories of Abraham or David, the imagery of the Psalms or Proverbs, or the prophecies of Isaiah or Jeremiah with this backlight of culture and history, these texts spring to new life.

The unique commentary joins The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament in providing historical, social and cultural background for each passage of the Old Testament. From Genesis through Malachi, this single volume gathers and condenses an abundance of specialized knowledge--making it available and accessible to ordinary readers of the Old Testament. Expert scholars John Walton, Victor Matthews and Mark Chavalas have included along with the fruits of their research and collaboration
  • a glossary of historical terms, ancient peoples, texts and inscriptions
  • maps and charts of important historical resources
  • expanded explanations of significant background issues
  • introductory essays on each book of the Old Testament
The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament will enrich your experience of the Old Testament—and your teaching and preaching from Scripture--in a way that no other commentary can do.


The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament is a treasure of information crucial to enriching your understanding of the Bible. The authors are experts in the field of Old Testament and its ancient Near Eastern world and present the fruits of their research in an extremely accessible way to allow modern readers to bridge the horizon back to the ancient context of the Bible.
—Tremper Longman III, Westmont College

This volume [The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Genesis--Deuteronomy, a precursor to this new, complete OT volume] provides Bible readers who have little knowledge of the ancient world an abundance of information on the sociocultural background of texts throughout the Pentateuch. The authors present the materials in a clear, concise, straightforward manner. . . . This book is a splendid tool that provides ready access to the cultural background of the books of the Pentateuch.

This commentary [The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Genesis--Deuteronomy] fills a very important niche between scholarly tomes and surveys of the Pentateuch. It brings the reader face to face with the many facets of the biblical text, while opening up a lucid path through the issues raised by modern scholarship. The authors have produced a useful work that avoids rabbit trails and technical jargon. Highly recommended.
—Willem A. VanGemeren, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

Users of Craig Keener's IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament will be delighted to have a companion volume on a period both more remote in time and exotic in cultural background. . . . This volume . . . fills a need not addressed by any other book I know. It will open the eyes of lay readers to the vast and still largely untapped resources of ancient Near Eastern archaeology and texts for the understanding of the Old Testament. I predict a warm and enthusiastic reception for the book.
—Harry A. Hoffner Jr., Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago


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About the Authors

John H. Walton is professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Moody Bible Institute. His several books on the Old Testament include Ancient Israelite Literature in Its Cultural Context, Chronological and Background Charts of the Old Testament and (with Andrew E. Hill) A Survey of the Old Testament.

Victor H. Matthews is professor of religion at Southwest Missouri State University. He has written several books on the Old Testament, including Manners and Customs in the Bible: An Illustrated Guide to Life in Bible Times, (with James Moyer) The Old Testament: Text and Context and (with Don C. Benjamin) The Social World of Ancient Israel.

Mark W. Chavalas teaches at the University of Wisconsin, LaCrosse. He is editor of Emar: The History, Religion, and Culture of a Syrian Town in the Late Bronze Age, (with John L. Hayes) New Horizons in the Study of Ancient Syria and (with K. L. Younger Jr.) of Syria-Mesopotamia and the Bible.

Table of Contents


Other Resources

Pentateuch: Introduction
Ancient Near Eastern Mythology and the Old Testament
Ancient Near Eastern Flood Accounts
The Religion of Abraham
Major Trade Routes in the Ancient Near East
The Date of the Exodus
The Covenant and Ancient Near Eastern Treaties

Historical Literature: Introduction
Egyptian Information About Canaan and Israel
The Political Climate in the Early Iron Age
1 Samuel
2 Samuel
1 Kings
2 Kings
The Western Campaigns of Tiglath-Pileser III, 734-732
1 Chronicles
Significance of Genealogies to Postexilic Audience
2 Chronicles
Sennacherib's Inscriptions

Wisdom and Poetic Literature: Introduction
Retribution Principle
Common Concepts
Common Metaphors for God
Musical Terms
Proverbs Echoed in Ancient Near East
How Proverbs Were Used
Proverbs As Generalized Truth
Song of Songs
Sexual Metaphor

Prophetic Literature: Introduction
Afterlife Beliefs in Israel and the Ancient Near East
Seals and Bullae
Laments over Fallen Cities in the Ancient World
Akkadian Apocalypses
Day of Yahweh
Economic Changes and Social Classes in Eighth-Century Israel
Apocalyptic Literature
Summary of the Temple-Building Connections to Zechariah's Visions


Charts and Maps

Topical Index

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