I am frequently asked for recommendations on commentaries. My response is always the same: go to the library and look at a number of commentaries on a more-or-less familiar passage. Buy the commentaries which provide the most help. Some commentaries which I find helpful might be too technical for some, too specialized for others. It is far better to buy the commentaries which help you the most than the “best” ones which you can’t make any sense of. Certain commentary series seem to be widely respected and tremendously useful:
The Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries
The New International Commentaries on the Old Testament
If in doubt and a good theological library is unavailable, try these. I also happen to like the relatively new JPS Torah Commentaries and New American Commentaries. While a pastor will want to purchase commentaries on specific books as he preaches/teaches from them, there are certain books which should form the core of his OT library. Always check for the latest edition. I have not included publication information because some are available as reprints from more than one publisher.
Essentials—Every pastor should own these three books and know how to use them.
Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia.
Brown, Francis, S.R. Driver, and C.A. Briggs, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament.
Waltke, Bruce K., and M. O’Connor, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax.
Necessaries—These seven works are tremendously helpful and should be a high priority for purchase.
A good Hebrew Concordance—as with commentaries, try, then buy. It will do no good to buy Even-Shoshan’s massive concordance if you won’t use it.
Hatch, Edwin, and Henry A. Redpath, A Concordance to the Septuagint.
A good Bible atlas—there are several to choose from and personal preference will play a major role.
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.
Finegan, Jack, Handbook of Biblical Chronology.
Harrison, R.K. Introduction to the Old Testament.
Pritchard, James B., Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament.
Blessings—This baker’s dozen of books can be tremendously useful and should be considered seriously after taking care of Essentials and Necessaries.
Josephus (collected works).
Blackman, Philip, Mishnayoth (Hebrew & English edition of Mishnah).
Merrill, Eugene, Kingdom of Priests.
Harris, R. Laird, Gleason L. Archer, and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament.
Watson, Wilfred G.E., Classical Hebrew Poetry.
Bullinger, E.W. Figures of Speech Used in the Bible.
Beall, Todd S., Wm. A. Banks, and Colin Smith, Old Testament Parsing Guide.
Scott, Wm. R., A Simplified Guide to BHS.
De Vaux, Roland, Ancient Israel.
Gibson, J.C.L., Canaanite Myths and Legends.
Sandy, D. Brent, and Ronald L. Giese, Cracking Old Testament Codes.
Westermann, Claus, Praise and Lament in the Psalms.
Westermann, Claus, Basic Forms of Prophetic Speech.