Minor Prophets
Dating books of the Old Testament Bible by the minor prophets.

Era - Grouping


Approximate Date of Writing

Pre-Exile - Prophets of Israel

Jonah (preached to Nineveh)

780-750 B.C.



765-750 B.C.



755-725 B.C.

Pre-Exile - Prophets of Judah

Obadiah (regarding Edom)

850 B.C.



740-690 B.C.


Nahum (regarding Nineveh)

660-650 B.C.



615-606 B.C.



635-610 B.C.

Post Exile - Prophets (Remnant)


520 B.C.



520-516 B.C.



515-500 B.C.



430-420 B.C.

The Book of the Twelve was originally counted as one book in the Hebrew Canon of Scriptures, something that played the greatest part in forming an Old Testament canon that was formerly counted as 22 or 24 books. This initially carried into the church, where they (the books and these prophets) were often referred to merely as "the Twelve" in the earliest church documents. By the time of Origen in the mid third century A.D., he references them as "the twelve minor prophets" ("Against Celsius", Book 7, Chapter 11). Jerome, in 392 A.D., in his preface to this section of his Latin Vulgate translation, specifically notes the fact that the Twelve Prophets were originally counted by the Hebrews as forming a single book, while his followed the current practice of labeling them individually. (Interestingly, in contrast to the "Twelve Minor Prophets", Jerome refers to Daniel, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah as "the Four Greater Prophets"). Augustine in his work, The City of God (circa 413-426 A.D.), clarifies why they were called "minor prophets."

The prophecy of Isaiah is not in the book of the twelve prophets, who are called the minor from the brevity of their writings, as compared with those who are called the greater prophets because they published larger volumes. (The City of God, Book 18, Chapter 29)

It is likely that they were first kept together because they would all fit on one scroll. One Jewish reference work cites the later witness of the Talmud...

The Talmud (BB 14b) states that the 12 were gathered together because otherwise, "as they are small, they might be lost." (The New Encyclopedia of Judaism, edited by Geoffrey Wigoder, The Jerusalem Publishing House, Ltd.)

In the apocryphal book of Ecclesiasticus (written circa 190 B.C..), Jesus ben Sira refers to “the twelve prophets” (Ecclesiasticus 49:10). This is significant as it indicates that the 12 prophets where already thought of as a grouping and were already likely together on one scroll by that early date.

In ancient times, the Jews had arranged the Twelve together in what was though to be their chronological order. This order was continued into our modern English translations, albeit as separate books:

Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.

The Septuagint, a major translation of the Old Testament into Greek prior to the time of Christ, arranged the books differently. While it is not known with certainty, scholarly speculation believes that the order of the first six was likely determined by length with the exception of Jonah which was moved to the end of that sub-group perhaps due to its very different character.

Hosea, Amos, Micah, Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.


Details on how each book is dated
(plus where the prophet was from, if known, and other key information).

Jonah - Jonah 1:1. Jonah the son of Amittai of Gath Hepher (3 miles/5 km North East of Nazareth in the territory of Zebulun. Ref. Joshua 19:13) predicted the restoration of the boundaries of Israel through the efforts of Jeroboam II (793 B.C. - 753 B.C.); see 2 Kings 14:25.

Amos - Amos 1:1. Amos, a shepherd of Tekoa (6 miles.10 km South of Bethlehem) prophesied while Uzziah was king in Judah (792 B.C. - 741 B.C.) and Jeroboam II was king in Israel (793 B.C. - 753 B.C.).

Hosea - Hosea 1:1. Hosea, son of Beeri, prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah (792 B.C. - 741 B.C.), Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah (716 B.C. - 687 B.C.), kings of Judah, and during the reign of Jeroboam II (793 B.C. - 753 B.C.) in Israel.

Obadiah - Obadiah 1:1. Events overlapping the reigns of Jehoshaphat (873 B.C. - 849 B.C., 2 Chronicles 20) and Jehoram (853 B.C. - 841 B.C., 2 Kings 18-20) are a possible background. Dating is based on internal events regarding the prophesied destruction of Edom, likely made while Edom was still strong, yet admittedly could be up to a few centuries later. Obadiah 1-4 predicts the end of Edom, which doesn't fully take place until the late 6th or early 5th century B.C. as the Nabateans begin taking over their territory. (By the time of Malachi, see Malachi 1:2-4, it implies that this destruction was complete).

Micah - Micah 1:1. Micah of Moresheth Gath (see also Micah 1:14-15, a town of Judah near Mareshah) prophesies during the reigns of Jotham (741 B.C. - 732 B.C.), Ahaz and Hezekiah (716 B.C. - 687 B.C.), kings of Judah. Samaria had not yet been destroyed when he began (Micah 1:6, circa 722 B.C.).

Nahum - Nahum 1:1. Prophecies of Nahum the Elkoshite (an area thought to be in southwestern Judah). He wrote after the fall of Thebes in Egypt (Nahum 3:8, circa 663 B.C.) and likely before Egypt recaptured the city (circa 654 B.C.). Judah was suffering under Assyrian rule (Micah 1:12, 15; 2:1, circa 687 B.C. - 642 B.C. by the rulers Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal).

Habakkuk - Habakkuk 1:1. Nothing definitive is known about where Habakkuk came from or lived. Written during a time when Jews were oppressing other Jews (Habakkuk 1:2-4) which was going to bring about God raising up the Babylonians in judgment (Habakkuk 1:5-11). Since the cruelty of the Babylonians was known, yet it appears that Judah had not yet had any direct contact the dating appears to be around the time of the destruction of Nineveh by the Babylonians (circa 612 B.C.) and prior to 605 B.C., the earliest that Judah comes under direct assault by the Babylonians.

Zephaniah - Zephaniah 1:1. Zephaniah son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hezekiah, prophesied during the reign of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah (640 B.C. - 609 B.C.). With seemingly first hand knowledge of details about the city of Jerusalem (Zephaniah 1:10-11), the prophet may have lived in Jerusalem.

Haggai - Haggai 1:1. Haggai prophesied in the second year of King Darius (520 B.C.), beginning on the first day of the sixth month, with a last message on the 24th day of the ninth month (Haggai 2:10). Haggai may have been very old, around 80, when these prophecies were given. Haggai 2:3 implies that he saw Solomon's temple prior to the exile. Haggai and Zechariah were contemporaries (Ezra 5:1; 6:14).

Zechariah - Zechariah 1:1. Zechariah, son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo, prophesied in the eighth month of the second year of Darius (520 B.C.), the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah. A second definitive date is also mentioned in Zechariah 7:1, the fourth year of Darius (518 B.C.).

Joel - Joel 1:1. Joel, son of Pethuel, prophesies while the temple is standing (Joel 2:17) and while the Sabeans still exerted control over trade routes (Joel 3:8). This makes it no later than the end of the sixth century B.C. and while it could have been the first temple it was likely just after the second temple was built (circa 515 B.C.). If it was the first temple, dates as early as 835 B.C. are possible, but no definitive internal evidence supports such a position. Notably, the book order of the Jewish Canon, professedly in order of writing, places Joel into the pre-exile period. While a consideration, there is no evidence that this arrangement was made until well into the post-exile period.

Malachi - Malachi 1:1. Though little is known of him, it is probable that he was a priest who lived in or near Jerusalem as he had detailed knowledge of practices at the temple (i.e. Malachi 1:6-2:9). The temple was standing (Malachi 1:7-14) and a governor ruled (Malachi 1:8) placing him in the Persian period after the construction of the second temple (515 B.C.). Religious fervor and laxity among the priests regarding their duties and tithing (Malachi 1:8-13; 3:8-10) imply that a number of years would have passed since the temple service was restarted. With similarities to the conditions in Nehemiah (compare Malachi 3:5 & Nehemiah 5:1-13, Malachi 2:11 & Nehemiah 13:23, and Malachi 3:8-10 & Nehemiah 13:10-14) Malachi most likely dates to just after the time of Nehemiah's second visit to Jerusalem (circa 432 B.C., Nehemiah 13:6-7).

(c) 2009 Brent MacDonald/LTM. Duplication is permitted as long as the source is cited.