Originally, Ezra and Nehemiah were considered one book entitled “Ezra.” They still appear as such in the Masorah and among the first medieval exegetes. The division into two is first reflected in the Greek Septuagint and in the Latin translations, although in the Septuagint’s Alexandrian version and the Peshitta the division is not yet found.


Samuel and Kings (as well as Chronicles) were first divided into two books in the Greek translation of the Bible known as the Septuagint. The Septuagint dates to the third century B.C., and was made in Egypt where it was copied on papyrus scrolls. At that time, papyrus scrolls could not be practically made as long as parchment or leather scrolls that were used in Judea. Hence, in the Septuagint, Samuel and Kings (as well as Chronicles) were each divided into two parts, designated first and second.


In Jewish tradition, the second division of the Bible falls into two parts. The Former Prophets includes what modern scholars call the Deuteronomic history; the Latter Prophets refers to the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the 12 minor prophets.


The Hagiographa is the third section of the Hebrew Bible, the so-called Writings.