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Introduction to Chronicles
In the Hebrew original these two books were one book, but were divided in the Septuagint, or Greek version of the Old Testament. Their title in the Septuagint was Paralipomena, which means "things omitted, or left out," evidently with reference to the Books of Samuel and Kings. However, this is not an accurate title, for much of the material in the Books of Chronicles is almost identically parallel to that in the other historical accounts of the kings. But they do also contain many things not related in Samuel and Kings, and in that sense are supplementary to those books. For that reason, and for the sake of chronological arrangement, most of the material of these books has been considered in this commentary in parallel with the accounts of Samuel and Kings.
Chronicles begins with an extensive listing of genealogy, beginning with Adam and coming up approximately to the end of the exile. There is, then, a brief account of the death of Saul, the first king of Israel, in battle. The crowning of David follows, and the account proceeds with a history of the united kingdom to the death of Solomon. With the accession of Rehoboam, following the death of his father Solomon, very little is related of the history of the northern tribes, the account being devoted almost entirely to the chronicles of the Kingdom of Judah to its fall to the Chaldaeans.
Conservative opinion holds with the Jewish tradition that the scribe Ezra is the human author of the Chronicles, though some believe they may have been written as late as 250 B. C. Evidence in favor of Ezra’s authorship, after the exile, is preponderant, thus dating them about 400 B. C. The books have a decidedly priestly slant, for Ezra was a priest, and one purpose of their writing appears to be to show the preservation of the priestly line from Aaron and the kingly line from David. The author made considerable use of other sources, such as the books of the prophets: Nathan, Gad, Iddo, Abijah, Isaiah, and others. Of course these were not inspired writings, and the Holy Spirit guided the hand of the scribe of Chronicles in making a divinely accurate account from these. Differences between numbers and such, in comparison of Chronicles to the accounts of Samuel and Kings, are not of the original inspired account, but got into the present versions by scribal error.
First Chronicles - Chapter 1
Pre-Rood Patriarchs, Verses 1-4
These ten generations are the same as those enumerated in Genesis - Chapter 5, though their names are somewhat different in spelling. The account in Genesis gives little information about them either, except for three of four. That chapter is a generation by generation listing to the time of the flood, giving the age of each at the birth of his son, the length of his life after that, and the total years each one lived. That they lived for centuries is a well-known fact to Bible students. Based on this account it is found that the time from Adam to the flood is about 1,666 years.
Adam was, of course, the first man, who ate the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden, fell, and brought sin into the human race. His son, Seth, fathered Enoch, at which time his line became distinguished as worshippers of the Lord (Genesis 4:26).
Enoch is well known as the intimate follower of the Lord, who was translated without seeing death (Genesis 5:24; Hebrews 11:5). His son Methuselah’s age, at 969 years, is the longest on record. Chronology shows that he outlived his son Lamech and died the year of the flood. God’s longsuffering toward the pre-flood world also waited the decease of these godly patriarchs.
Lamech, the father of Noah, was a prophet, foretelling the comforting of the earth through Noah (Genesis 5:29). Of course, Noah is a well-known character of the Bible, the builder of the ark by which he preserved mankind and animal life in the flood. His sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth were the progenitors of races and nations which succeeded the flood (Genesis 10:1-32).
Post-Rood Races, Verses 5-23
These verses are parallel to Genesis - Chapter 10, for the most part. They enumerate the nations and peoples which stemmed from the three sons of Noah after the flood. Generally, the descendants of Japheth peopled the area of Persia westward through Mesopotamia, Armenia, Asia Minor, and Europe. Those of Ham settled mainly in Canaan, Arabia, and Africa. The descendants of Shem are also found from the Mesopotamian area westward and southward to Canaan.
Students of the Scriptures and of ethnology have identified some of these people with modern nations, or peoples. While there have been widespread mixtures of races since that early time, the Japhetic races are usually identified with the Caucasian races, also called IndoEuropean and Aryan. The sons of Ham produced the early peoples of Canaan, parts of Arabia, and Africa. The Shemites are chiefly represented by the early Mesopotamians, Hebrews, and Arabic nations.
In Japheth’s line the Madai are thought to be the early inhabitants of Media, a part of modern Iran; Gomer and Magog are believed to have peopled eastern Europe and Russia, while some say the name Meshech is the root of Moscow and Tubal of Tobolsk in Russia. Javan, Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim peopled the land of Greece and its islands. The old Greek name, Ionia, comes directly from Javan, while the Bible speaks of the "isles of Elisha." Kittim is an old name for Crete, and Dodanim (also written Rodanim) of the island of Rhodes.
Among the sons of Ham the most notable name is probably that of Canaan. The various tribes of the Canaanites are enumerated in verses 14-16. They were under God’s curse given through Noah’s prophecy (Genesis 9:20-27). Other Hamitic people included the original inhabitants of Phoenicia, the Philistines, and the Cushites. Nimrod, the son of Cush, built the first empire in Mesopotamia (Genesis 10:8-12), including the infamous tower of Babel. The black people seem to have come from Mizraim, the ancient progenitor of the Egyptians, though modern Egyptians have a strong infusion of Semitic Arabic blood. These also produced the Lybians and others.
The line of Shem produced the Messianic nation, but there were many other peoples coming from Shem also. These included, besides Eber, who fathered the Hebrews, the Elamites (of western Persia, or Iran), Asshur (the Assyrians), Lud (Lydians of Asia Minor), Aram (the Syrians and Chaldaeans), Us (the areas west and south of the present Persian Gulf). The descendants of Joktan were nomads, who mingled with descendants of Ham in the Arabian desert.
Sheen to Abram, Verses 24-27
The line from Shem to Abraham is given in more detail in Genesis 11:10-30. Nothing notable is said of any of these until Terah, the father of Abram. The most striking thing in the Genesis account is the steadily declining longevity of men, from Shem’s six hundred years to Terah’s two hundred five, and later Abraham’s one hundred seventy-five. In another context Peleg (whose name means "division") is said to have received his name because in his days the earth was divided. This is a possible reference to the division of nations, after the destruction of the tower of Babel, but some have speculated that it pertains to the separation of earth’s continents. May it not have been that both these events were coincident with Peleg’s lifetime?
At what period the ancestry of Abram became idolatrous is unknown, though it was before the birth of that patriarch (cf. Joshua 24:2; Joshua 24:15). When Abram was called to leave Ur he was initially accompanied by his father, Terah, and his nephew, Lot. Evidently his brother, Nahor, also went as far as Haran in upper Mesopotamia (cf. Genesis 11:31-32). After Abram migrated on into Canaan the children of Nahor continued to live at Haran (Genesis 24:10; Genesis 27:43; Genesis 28:1-2).
The listing in this genealogy, "Abram; the same is Abraham," must be significant. Abram is the patriarch’s name when he was still in paganism. It means, "father of a people." Many years later, when Abram had faithfully obeyed the Lord, he was given the new name, Abraham, "father of the people," in keeping with the Lord’s promises to him. Not only is he the father of the people of Israel, God’s chosen nation, according to the flesh; Far more significant, he is the father of the faithful who, like him, trust in the Lord, accepting His promises by faith (Galatians 3:6-9; Romans 4:1-25).
Abraham’s Descendants, Verses 28-42
The genealogies of Ishmael are correspondent to those of Genesis 25:12-18; those of Esau to Genesis - Chapter 36. The sons of Keturah, Abraham’s concubine, are not listed on a par with Isaac and Ishmael, but are named, with their descendants following those of Ishmael. The parallel in Genesis is Genesis 25:1-4. It appears that the descendants of Keturah may have all become known in later years as Midianites. They were closely associated with the Ishmaelites, as were also some of the sons of Esau.
There seems to be nothing of particular significance in these genealogies other than to show how the Lord kept His word to make of these "other" sons of Abraham great nations (Genesis 17:20; Genesis 27:39-40).
Esau’s People, Verses 43-54
This list of Edomite kings and dukes (or chiefs) is found also in Genesis chapter 36. Since many kings had lived and died before the time of Moses, who recorded the Genesis list, it follows that the children of Esau became a nation, with kings, long before Israel came out of Egypt and even longer before they had a king. Eight kings are named, indicating that eight generations had passed since Esau became a nation, and Israel was just then asserting herself as a nation. The Lord had promised, through Isaac’s blessing, to give Canaan to Jacob and to make Esau subservient to him (see Genesis 27), but the Lord did not immediately bring it to pass.
Esau had gone from Canaan and established himself in the rocky wilderness south of the Dead Sea. The land is called Mount Seir also, for the primeval tribe which inhabited it before the coming of Esau. The Seirites were absorbed into the kingdom of Edom (De 2:12,22). The places named as "cities" of the Edomite kings are in that area. The kings are nowhere else distinguished by any deed. The wife of Hadad, Mehetabel, is named in verse 50. She must have been distinguished in her time, or was descended from other great women, who are named in the same context. Hadad is said to have been victor in an important engagement with the Moabites, but this is an earlier Hadad than Mehetabel’s husband.
The King James Version lists the chiefs of the Edomites as "dukes," although their position did not actually correspond to that of the English dukes in 1611.
The following lessons may be noted from study of these genealogies: 1) God has an important purpose for the genealogies, which the Bible student can find by searching, and from which he may profit; 2) God faithfully keeps His promises, even to those who do not worship Him; 3) God orderly arranged the nations of the earth, but men have disrupted His arrangement; 4) the Lord does not allow the testimony of His truth to perish from the earth; 5) sometimes the Lord teaches patience by allowing His people to wait for fulfillment of His promises.
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Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 1". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Epiphany