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General Reference Works

OT Commentaries

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Please note: All the commentaries listed below I have recommended based on my belief that they fulfil two important criteria.

First, I consider that the commentators themselves write in a way that shows that they believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. I may not always agree with their interpretation of a particular text, but I think that they show respect for God's Word as being inspired. For me, that criterion is non-negotiable.

Second, they demonstrate a level of excellence that makes their commentaries worth the financial investment. You don't want books on your shelf that you wish you'd never bought.

If you do not already have access to good commentaries, a good strategy is to be patient, and purchase them one at a time. Wait for your local Christian bookstore to have a sale and buy them at discounted prices.

If you're wondering why I have randomly selected volumes from different commentary sets, there is a method to my madness. Sets of commentaries are not necessarily of uniform quality. They have multiple authors and not all of the authors produce the same quality work.

In building my own library, I often referred to the Old and New Testament Commentary Surveys mentioned in the General Reference Works section. In addition to this, How To Read The Bible For All Its Worth by Gordon D. Fee & Douglas Stuart has a helpful list of recommended commentaries in the appendix.

A Commentary on the Whole Bible (6 volumes) by Matthew Henry


Originally published in 1706, this set of commentaries is in many ways quite dated. However, Henry had a real knack for coming up with pithy statements, was logical in his approach to the Scriptures, and these are a great devotional tool.

Word Biblical Commentary: Genesis (2 volumes) by Gordon Wenham

This is a great commentary on a great book. Wenham is a fine Evangelical commentator and the work is written in a style suitable for ministers as well as laypeople. Although a knowledge of Hebrew would be handy, it is definitely not a necessity to get a great deal from these volumes.

The Bible Speaks Today: Judges by Michael Wilcock

This is a great commentary. Wilcock does not focus so much on the meanings of individual words or the culture (although I'm sure he has taken all this into account), but has tremendous insights into the lessons to be learned from Judges.

Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries: 1 and 2 Samuel by Joyce Baldwin

Baldwin has a clear and easy-to-read style but the level of her scholarship shines through. This concise volume is packed full of insights and worth having on your shelf.

Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries: Esther by Joyce Baldwin

Baldwin has a clear and easy-to-read style but the level of her scholarship shines through. This concise volume is packed full of insights and worth having on your shelf.

The Expositor's Bible Commentary: Psalms by Tremper Longman III & David E. Garland

This is an excellent commentary, explaining the text, highlighting meanings of words, giving relevant background information, and full of theological insights.

Word Biblical Commentary: Hosea - Jonah by Douglas Stuart

Stuart's commentary is not aimed at the layman, and it is certainly helpful, though not absolutely necessary, if you can read Hebrew. That aside, the work is valuable in gaining an understanding of these minor prophets.

An Exegetical & Expository Commentary: The Minor Prophets (3 volumes) (Editor Thomas Edward McComiskey)

This is an excellent set of commentaries on the Minor Prophets. Authors include people of the calibre of Joyce Baldwin, F.F. Bruce, and Tremper Longman III. Each commentary is divided into two parts on a horizontally divided page: an exegesis (focusing on the meanings of the words and the thoughts of the text), and an exposition (an explanation of the meaning). Most of the commentaries are probably not suitable for laypeople, nevertheless, they are packed full of insights and useful information.