What Is the Longest Book in the Bible? (Hint: It’s Not the Psalms)

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Most resources claim that the book of Psalms is the longest book in the Old Testament, and therefore the Bible.

The claim is probably wrong.

If the calculation is based on the number of verses or the number of “chapters” or the number of pages, it is correct. But since those aren’t part of the original, and because some books may have words per verse or more words per chapter than another book, neither of these would be the right criteria to use.

And if we really want to calculate the lengths of the originals, English word-count shouldn’t be sufficient, either, since they are translations of the Hebrew and Greek. (Sometimes it takes several English words to translate one Hebrew or Greek word.)

Here is a more refined set of data, courtesy of David J. Reimer (senior lecturer, Hebrew and Old Testament, University of Edinburgh, who penned the notes on Ezekiel for the ESV Study Bible).

Some notes:

  • “Graphic units” counts the number of Hebrew words in a particular books using BibleWorks (e.g., there are seven “graphic units” in Genesis 1:1).
  • “Morphological units” was found according to the Groves-Wheeler Westminster Morphological database (which separates prefixed elements, but not pronominal suffixes; e.g., there are eleven “morphological units” in Genesis 1:1).
  • The “Bytes” figure calculates the length of the Hebrew book in ASCII format (i.e., so there is no interference from extraneous word-processor code).

Here are the results of the top 10, which account for about 55% of the 39 books of the OT:

Order

Book

# Verses in Book

Graph-unit Hits

Morph-unit Hits

Bytes

 1. Jeremiah

1,364

22,285

30,203

241,209

 2. Genesis

1,533

20,722

28,848

226,894

 3. Psalms

2,527

19,662

25,465

238,562

 4. Ezekiel

1,273

19,053

26,572

214,416

 5. Isaiah

1,291

17,197

23,204

191,777

 6. Exodus

1,213

16,890

23,934

184,372

 7. Numbers

1,289

16,583

23,363

182,945

 8. Deuteronomy

959

14,488

20,329

159,872

 9. 2 Chronicles

822

13,520

20,000

154,125

10. 1 Samuel

811

13,506

19,211

147,392

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