K’tuvim or Ketuvim (Biblical Hebrew: כְּתוּבִים Kəṯûḇîm, “writings”) is the third and final section of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), after Torah (instruction) and Nevi’im (prophets). In English translations of the Hebrew Bible, this section is usually entitled “Writings”. Another name used for this section is Hagiographa.
The Ketuvim are believed to have been written under divine inspiration, but with one level less authority than that of prophecy.
Found among the Writings within the Hebrew scriptures, I and II Chronicles form one book, along with Ezra and Nehemiah which form a single unit entitled “Ezra–Nehemiah”. (In citations by chapter and verse numbers, however, the Hebrew equivalents of “Nehemiah”, “I Chronicles” and “II Chronicles” are used, as the system of chapter division was imported from Christian usage.) Collectively, eleven books are included in the Ketuvim.
K’tuvim (Scriptures) Interlinear Hebrew-English
Groups of books
The poetic books
In masoretic manuscripts (and some printed editions), Psalms, Proverbs and Job are presented in a special two-column form emphasizing the parallel stichs in the verses, which are a function of their poetry. Collectively, these three books are known as Sifrei Emet (an acronym of the titles in Hebrew, איוב, משלי, תהלים yields Emet אמ”ת, which is also the Hebrew for “truth”).
These three books are also the only ones in the Hebrew Bible with a special system of cantillation notes that are designed to emphasize parallel stichs within verses. However, the beginning and end of the book of Job are in the normal prose system.
The five scrolls (Hamesh Megillot)
The five relatively short books of Song of Songs, Book of Ruth, the Book of Lamentations, Ecclesiastes and Book of Esther are collectively known as the Hamesh Megillot (Five Megillot). These are the latest books collected and designated as “authoritative” in the Jewish canon. These scrolls are traditionally read over the course of the year in many Jewish communities. The list below presents them in the order they are read in the synagogue on holidays, beginning with the Song of Solomon on Passover.
Besides the three poetic books and the five scrolls, the remaining books in Ketuvim are Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah and Chronicles. Although there is no formal grouping for these books in the Jewish tradition, they nevertheless share a number of distinguishing characteristics:
- The Talmudic tradition ascribes late authorship to all of them.
- Two of them (Daniel and Ezra) are the only books in Tanakh with significant portions in Aramaic.
- These two also describe relatively late events (i.e. the Babylonian captivity and the subsequent restoration of Zion).
Order of the books
The following list presents the books of Ketuvim in the order they appear in most printed editions. It also divides them into three subgroups based on the distinctiveness of Sifrei Emet and Hamesh Megillot.
The Three Poetic Books (Sifrei Emet)
The Five Megillot (Hamesh Megillot)
- Shīr Hashīrīm (Song of Songs) or (Song of Solomon) שִׁיר הַשִׁירִים (Passover)
- Rūth (Book of Ruth) רוּת (Shābhû‘ôth)
- Eikhah (Lamentations) איכה (Ninth of Av) [also called Kinnot in Hebrew]
- Qōheleth (Ecclesiastes) קהלת (Sukkôth)
- Estēr (Book of Esther) אֶסְתֵר (Pûrîm)
- Dānî’ēl (Book of Daniel) דָּנִיֵּאל
- ‘Ezrā (Book of Ezra–Book of Nehemiah) עזרא
- Divrei ha-Yamim (Chronicles) דברי הימים
The Jewish textual tradition never finalized the order of the books in Ketuvim. The Babylonian Talmud (Bava Batra 14b–15a) gives their order as Ruth, Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Lamentations of Jeremiah, Daniel, Scroll of Esther, Ezra, Chronicles.
In Tiberian Masoretic codices, including the Aleppo Codex and the Leningrad Codex, and often in old Spanish manuscripts as well, the order is Chronicles, Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ruth, Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations of Jeremiah, Esther, Daniel, Ezra.
The Ketuvim is the last of the three portions of the Tanakh to have been accepted as Biblical canon, it is said that the people of Israel were adding what would become the Ketuvim to their holy literature shortly after the canonization of the prophets. There is no scholarly consensus as to when the Hebrew Bible canon was fixed: some scholars argue that it was fixed by the Hasmonean dynasty, while others argue it was not fixed until the second century CE or even later.
While the Torah may have been considered canon by Israel as early as the 5th century BCE and the Former and Latter Prophets were canonized by the 2nd century BCE, Michael Coogan says that the Ketuvim was not a fixed canon until the 2nd century CE. According to T. Henshaw, as early as 132 BCE some references suggesting that the Ketuvim was starting to take shape, though it lacked a formal title. Jacob Neusner says something different, he argues that the notion of a biblical canon was not prominent in 2nd-century Rabbinic Judaism or even later.
Against Apion, the writing of Josephus in 95 CE, treated the text of the Hebrew Bible as a closed canon to which “… no one has ventured either to add, or to remove, or to alter a syllable…”;Michael Barber, however, avers that Josephus’ canon is “not identical to that of the modern Hebrew Bible”.For a long time, following this date, the divine inspiration of Esther, the Song of Songs, and Ecclesiastes was often under scrutiny.