Order of Contents
About this Collection
Few commentaries on the whole Old Testament, but only the Old Testament, have been written in English in history. Here are all the good whole Old Testament commentaries (and significant portions thereof) online in English that Bible believers would be interested in, up through the early 1900’s, including those recommended by Charles Spurgeon.
Spurgeon’s comments are included where possible. His rating scale is as follows:
*** – ‘Heartily recommended’
** – ‘Good, but more ordinary’
* – ‘Least desirable’
Where the Old Testament has been commented on in a whole Bible commentary, we have not duplicated it here. In addition to the commentaries below, you may also find Whole Bible Commentaries and Commentaries on Individual Books of the O.T. helpful.
Order of Commentaries * – Particularly Recommended ** – Reformed
Keil & Delitzsch *
Alleman & Flack
Jackson, Arthur **
Richardson, John **
Hall, Joseph * **
Edersheim, Alfred *
De Graaf, S.G. **
Guild, William **
Gordon, Robert **
Hengstenberg, E.W. *
Types of the Old Testament
Habershon, Ada Ruth
Fairbairn, Patrick **
Barrett, Richard A.F. – A Synopsis of Criticisms upon those Passages of the Old Testament in which Modern Commentators have Differed from the Authorized Version, together with an Explanation of Various Difficulties in the Hebrew and English Texts, vol. 1 (Gen-Lev 6), 2 (Lev 6-Dt), 3 (Josh-2 Sam 3), 4 (2 Sam 3-2 Kn), 5 (Chron-Esth) (London, 1847)
Though it should be read with discernment, this commentary is very valuable for the massive amount of information it contains. For passages where modern commentators differ from the KJV reading, first the Hebrew of the verse is given, then the Septuagint and then the KJV reading is provided. Then arguments for and against the English KJV reading are given.
The preface is helpful in understanding the perspective and purpose of the author. The author is moderately conservative (though not wholly so). He speaks of ‘the unsafe remedy of correcting the text upon insufficient grounds.’ He, out of principle, upholds miracles and the doctrines of Scripture and (rightly) calls the liberal German critics ‘neologians’.
The KJV, as the author affirms, is a very good translation; however, the English translation is not perfect. Sometimes the difference of translation is not a difference of the Hebrew text, but simply a difference of a translation of a Hebrew word, or how one understands the multiple, legitimate, grammatical possibilities inherent in the Hebrew.
We do not recommend ever preferring the Greek Septuagint version over the Hebrew text. We also do not recommend preferring a Hebrew variant which does not occur in the traditional Masoretic text. Read with discernment and caution: our Savior said that the stars must fall from heaven before one yod (the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet) or tittle shall fall from God’s Word (Mt. 5:18).
* Keil, Karl & Franz Delitzsch – Commentary on the Old Testament
The best, mostly conservative scholarship from two late-1800’s European scholars; highly technical and grammatical.
Useful Commentaries (6)
Alleman, Herbert & E.E. Flack – Old Testament Commentary: A General Introduction to and Commentary on the Books of the Old Testament Buy 1948 902 pp.
‘Reflects the historic Lutheran approach to the Scriptures; emphasizes the message of the OT canonical books, the setting out of which they came, and the life they tend to cultivate.’ – Cyril J. Barber
Horsley, Samuel 1733-1806
Biblical Criticism on the First Fourteen Historical Books of the Old Testament, also on the first nine prophetical books, vols. 1 (Gen-2 Kin), 2 (Isa), 3 (Jer, Eze), 4 (Hos, Joel, Amos, Oba, Songs)
Horsley was an Anglican. Some of his tendencies are liberal.
** ‘These criticisms will be of more interest to the scholar than of value to the minister. Horsley was far too ready to invent new readings; yet he was a master in his own line. He writes very dogmatically and with a violent bias toward a theory of interpretation which, with all its excellencies, cannot be everywhere maintained. Numbers of other writers have followed in his track, but none with equal footsteps.’ – Spurgeon
** Jackson, Arthur – A Help for the Understanding of the Holy Scriptures, vols. 1 (Torah), 2 (Josh-esth), 3 (Job-Song), 4 (Isa) 1643
Jackson (1593-1666) was a reformed puritan.
** ‘In 1653, Arthur Jackson, preacher of God’s Word in Wood Street, London, issued four volumes upon the Old Testament, which appear to have been the result of his pulpit expositions to his people. Valuable his works would be if there were no better, but they are not comparable to others already and afterwards mentioned. You can do without him, but he is a reputable author.’ ‘Rather tame, but will well repay quiet reading. His works are now somewhat rare.’ – Spurgeon
Orton (1717-1783) was a presbyterian dissenter from the Church of England and wrote the memoirs of, and preached the funeral sermon for, Philip Doddridge. ‘He was deeply read in Puritan divinity, and adopted Sabellian doctrines on the Trinity.’
** ‘A sort of paraphrase, after the manner of Doddridge’s Family Expositor [on the N.T.], which it was intended to accompany. Not a very able production.’ – Spurgeon
** Richardson, John – Choice Observations and Explanations upon the Old Testament, containing in them many remarkable matters, additional to the large Annotations made by some of the Assembly of Divines d. 1654
Richardson was reformed and printed this only a few afters the second edition of the English Annotations (which were nicknamed the Westminster Annotations as 6 of the 11 commentators were Westminster divines), to which it was designed as a supplement.
** ‘Of secondary importance, and very short; yet good. Frequently bound up with Leigh [as Edward Leigh wrote a commentary on the whole N.T.].’ – Spurgeon
Commentary on Genesis & Exodus
Commentary on Judges-2 Samuel
Commentary on Kings-Esther
The Prophecies of Daniel Expounded
Biblical Apocalyptics: A Study of the Most Notable Revelation of God & of Christ in the Canonical Scriptures
Terry (1840-) was a Methodist minister and professor at Garrett Biblical Institution, Illinois. He is known for his standard textbook on Biblical Hermeneutics. He was an evangelical and something of a forerunner of fundamentalism in that he had a certain Biblicism and an emphasis on Christian fundamentals.
On the Historical Passages of the Old Testament (6)
* ** Hall, Joseph – Contemplations on the Historical Parts of the Old Testament d. 1656
Hall was an influential reformed Anglican bishop. These devotional and practical contemplations savor of deep spirituality and are very insightful. One of a kind and one of the best. Not every part of the O.T. is commented on.
*** ‘Need I commend Bishop Hall’s Contemplations to your affectionate attention? What wit! What sound sense! What concealed learning! His style is as pithy and witty as that of Thomas Fuller, and it has a sacred unction about it to which Fuller has no pretension.’ ‘The work can be readily procured; but if its price were raised in proportion to its real value, it would become one of the most costly books extant.’ – Spurgeon
Delitsch, Franz – Old Testament History of Redemption: Lectures 1881 248 pp.
Delitzsch was a conservative German, Lutheran theologian and Hebraist, known for his contribution to the Keil-Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. His translation of the N.T. into Hebrew is still considered the standard translation. The Free Churchman, ‘Rabbi’ John Duncan, said that Delitzsch “stood firm in maintenance of the divine authority and inspiration of the whole Old Testament” at a time when many “seemed willing to surrender.”
* Edersheim, Alfred – The Bible History of the Old Testament 1887
Edersheim was converted from Orthodox Judaism by the influence of John Rabbi Duncan and others. He became a pastor in the Free Church of Scotland, and then entered the ministry of the Anglican Church the second half of his life. Edersheim was a leading conservative scholar of his day.
Not every passage of the O.T. is exposited; the historical passages are emphasized. The work here is easier to read and less technical than his Life and Times of Jesus Christ the Messiah, though it still abounds with intriguing scholarship mediated through a child-like faith in the O.T.’s profound teachings. Read it cover to cover!
On Genesis: ** – ‘The author has mainly aimed at giving instruction to the Sunday School Teacher, and the Bible Class Student. He may be read with profit by students of a higher grade. The work is not a commentary, but is full of instruction.’ – Spurgeon
Hengstenberg, Ernst W. – History of the Kingdom of God under the Old Testament, vol. 1 (Abraham-Joshua), 2 (Judges-1st Century)
Hengstenberg was a conservative O.T. scholar in late-1800’s Germany (one of the few).
Stanley, Arthur Penrhyn – Lectures on the History of the Jewish Church, vol. 1 (Abraham-Samuel), 2 (Samuel-Captivity) 3 (Captivity-Christian Era) 1870
Stanley was a liberal.
** “A fascinating book, which no one can read without being the better able to realize the scenes of Scripture history. The author’s broad views are known and deplored: that he has equal breadth of learning we cheerfully admit.” – Spurgeon
“De Graaf studies the Old Testament with an eye on the covenant and the kingdom of God. The book is written in an easy-to-undrstand style.” – Tremper Longman III, 4 out of 5 stars
On the Messianic Passages of the Old Testament (4)
** Guild, William – Moses Unveiled: or Those Figures which Served unto the Pattern and shadow of heavenly things, pointing out the Messiah Christ Jesus, briefly explained; Whereunto is added the harmony of all the prophets, breathing with one mouth the mystery of his coming, and of that redemption which by his death He was to accomplish 1620 62 pp.
Guild was a Scottish covenanter.
** Gordon, Robert – Christ in the Old Testament, 4 vols. Buy
Gordon (1786–1853) was one of the founding ministers of the Free Church of Scotland who walked out in the Disruption of 1843.
Delitzsch, Franz – The Messianic Prophecies of Christ 1880 144 pp. Reprinted by Klock & Klock
From the conservative German scholar known for the excellent, advanced, Keil-Delitzsch commentary on the Old Testament (above).
* Hengstenberg, Ernst W. – The Christology of the Old Testament, and Commentary on the Messianic Predictions, vols. 1 (Gen-Josh, 2 Sam, Psalms, Song, Hos, Joel, Amos, Oba, Jon, Mic), 2 (Isa, Zeph, Jer), 3 (Eze, Dan, Hag, Zech 1-10), 4 (Zech 11-14, Mal, Appendices)
Only messianic passages are commented on by this conservative Lutheran scholar. This is the classic work in this field.
** ‘This great work deals with a most vital theme in a masterly manner; it has always been held in high esteem. We confess, however, that we can only read it as a task, for the dry scholastic style repels us, and it seems to us that in answering a number of skeptical doctors, whose opinions are ridiculous, the author has made much ado about nothing.’ – Spurgeon
“…Hengstenberg not only made a major contribution to Old Testament theology, but also took issue with, and refuted, the famous lexicographer, Wilhelm Gesenius whose translation of ‘almah in Isaiah 7:14 ha led many to discard the prophecy of the Messiah’s virgin conception and translate the verse, ‘A young woman will conceive…’… Hengstenberg took issue with the translation and, from other occurrences of the usage of ‘almah, as well as the context of Isaiah 7, showed that ‘virgin’ as meant by Isaiah.” – Cyril J. Barber
The Types of the Old Testament
Bullinger, Ethelbert W. – Figures of Speech Used in the Bible, Explained and Illustrated (1898) 1,160 pp.
This is a classic and very full and detailed work which has been often reprinted. Bullinger was a dispensationalist.
Fairbairn (1805–1874) was a renowned professor in the Free Church of Scotland.
Elias Levita – The Massoreth Ha-Massoreth of Elias Levita: being an Exposition of the Massoretic Notes on the Hebrew Bible, or the Ancient Critical apparatus of the Old Testament in Hebrew (d. 1549) Translated, and with an 84 page introduction, by Ginsburg, 1867.
Masoreth means ‘to bind’ or ‘fix’, that is, it was the Jewish commentary on the scribal reproduction of the Hebrew scriptures during the first millennium of the Christian era, meant to ‘fix’ and preserve the Hebrew text indefinitely. For a helpful summary of the Masorah and its significance, see the reliable McClintock and Strong’s Cyclopedia.
Levita’s title connotates something to the effect of ‘a binding commentary on the Masorah’, that is, to shore up and confirm the validity and usefulness of the Masorah. Ginsburg was a leading Hebraicist of the 1800’s. In the very valuable introduction he says:
‘ The work now submitted to the public in the original Hebrew, with an English translation, is an explanation of the origin and import of the Massorah. Those who are acquainted with the fact that our Hebrew Bibles abound with marginal and textual glosses… and who know that there is no guide in our [English] language to these enigmatical notes, will welcome this Treatise, written first, and almost the only, Massoretic exposition.’
Rashi – Commentary on the Whole Old Testament d. 1106 After you click on a book of the Bible, note that you have to click on ‘Show’ Rashi’s commentary for it to appear, otherwise it will only show the selected passage of scripture.
‘Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo ben Yitzchak) is the most influential Jewish exegete of all time… Rashi says ‘I, however, am only concerned with the plain sense of Scripture and with such Aggadot [exegetical notes] that explain the words of Scripture in a manner that fits in with them” – Wiki
Early Church Commentaries
None of Origen’s commentaries are in English on the net; they have to be purchased. Many of the commentaries are only fragments or selections. A great portion of Origen’s commentaries have been lost.
Commentary on Genesis Greek/Latin
Homilies on Genesis English Preview G/L
Com. on Exodus G/L
Hom. on Exodus E G/L
Com. on Leviticus G/L
Hom. on Leviticus E G/L
Com. on Numbers G/L
Hom. on Numbers E G/L
Com. on Deuteronomy G/L
Com. on Joshua G/L
Hom. on Joshua E G/L
Com. on Judges G/L
Hom. on Judges E G/L
Com. on 1 Samuel G/L
Hom. on 1 Kings 28 E
Com. on Job G/L
Com. on the Psalms G/L
Com. on Proverbs G/L
Com. on the Song E G/L
Hom. on the Song E G/L
Excerpts on the Song E G/L
Hom. on Isaiah E G/L L
Hom. on Jeremiah E G/L L
Com. on Jeremiah G/L
Com. on Lamentations G/L
Hom. on Ezekiel E G/L L
Com. on Ezekiel G/L
Com. on Hosea G/L
Prefaces to the Biblical Books in English, Post-Nicene Fathers, vol. 6
Hebrew Questions on Genesis English Preview Latin
Notes on the Psalms, 1-59 (Pre), 60-96 (Pre), 97-150 L
Ecclesiastes Pre L
Isaiah Pre L
Adbrevatio on Isa. 1:1-5 L
Jeremiah Pre L
Ezekiel Pre L
Daniel Pre L
Minor Prophets, vol. 1 (Buy) 2 (Pre) L
Most of Jerome’s commentaries have now been translated into English, though few are available online.
Augustine – Writings on the Old Testament Buy (New City Press, 2016)
This work is not included in Schaff’s standard Post-Nicene Fathers. This work does not cover the whole Old Testament, but rather includes:
Questions on the Heptateuch (Gen-Judg)
Expressions in the Heptateuch
Notes on Job
8 Questions from the Old Testament
Answer to the Jews.