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Bible Commentaries
1 Chronicles

Preacher's Complete Homiletical CommentaryPreacher's Homiletical

- 1 Chronicles

by Editor - Joseph S. Exell

The Preacher’s Complete Homiletic



By the

Author of the Commentaries on Deuteronomy and Minor Prophets

New York






THE two Books of Chronicles, like the Books of Kings, formed originally one, and were divided, as in the English Bible, by translators of the Septuagint. The division was adopted in the Latin Vulgate by Jerome, whence it passed into various branches of the Western Church. In Hebrew the title is Dib-rey hay-yamim, meaning “The acts of the days” (acta not verba dierum), a title applied to accounts which historians wrote of kings. A daily record, a sort of “Court Journal,” was usual at Oriental palaces (see Esther 2:23; Esther 6:1; Esther 10:2), cf. Speak. Com. The Books record the leading incidents of the times. The term chronicon was suggested by Jerome, as equivalent to the Hebrew title; and this in the plural form, chronica or chronicorum liber, was adopted in some editions of the Vulgate, whence the English translators took it.

The Author. Ascribed to Ezra generally. Its close connection with the book of Ezra is very apparent. “The same spirit breathes through both, and numerous little expressions, identical or nearly so in the two works, indicate almost certainly the same hand. The curious fact, moreover, that the one Book ends and the other begins with the same passage, suggests the same author, and probably indicates that originally the two books were united and formed but one work, which it was afterwards thought better to divide into two” (Speak. Com.).

The Date. Internal evidence proves that Chronicles were written after the Captivity. This opinion is supported by the orthography and the nature of the language employed, both of which are Aramæan in complexion, and harmonise with books written after the exile. “If Ezra was the author, the date could not be much later than B.C. 435, for Ezra probably died about that time. There is nothing in the contents or style of the work to make the date B.C. 450–435 improbable; for the genealogy in ch. 1 Chronicles 3:23-24, which appears to be later than this, may be a subsequent addition” (Speak. Com.).

The Style. The work is one, a record of annals, a supplement of former historic books. The Septuagint designates the work Paraleipomena, things left out or unnoticed. We have repetitions of Samuel and Kings, and important supplements to fill up earlier narratives. A high value is set upon “Levitical spirit,” that is, regard to externals in religion. Its history has been termed “ecclesiastical,” that of Samuel and Kings “political.” In the mind of the writer the religious establishment is of primary, the State of secondary importance (cf. Speak. Com.). “There are three principal features—(a) a greater tendency to dwell on the ritual, on the details of the Temple worship, the various functions of the Priests and Levites, the arrangement of the courses and the like; (b) a marked genealogical bias, and desire to record names of persons engaged in events narrated; (c) a more constant, open, and direct ascription of all the events of history to Divine agency, and especially a more plain reference of every great calamity or deliverance to the good or evil deeds of the monarch, or the nation, which Divine Providence so punished or rewarded (cf. Speak. Com.).

The Object. It is historical, yet the writer seems to forget former histories and gives his own. First to give an entire history from the very beginning to meet the difficulties of the time—to preserve true genealogies of families—and since future prosperity depends upon the preservation of the Temple with its priests and service, he begins with David, describes Solomon’s acts, and then follows out the history of Judah (not of Israel), and shows how kings maintained its worship or introduced idolatry, and were rewarded or punished according to their conduct. “It is thus apparent that the object of Ezra in writing the Books of Chronicles was to place before the Jews such an aspect of their past history as would show them that from the peculiar constitution of their government as a Theocracy, the glories and decadence even of the Davidic monarchy were most closely associated with the recognition of the Lord’s presence by a faithful maintenance of the worship which he had ordained for that purpose. Such a view of their history was calculated to strengthen the religious element of their nationality, to teach them that their highest glory was the special sovereignty of God over them, and that although that sovereignty was exceptionally exercised through prophets, its natural and ordinary manifestation was to be found in association with the Levitical system” [J. H. Blunt].

The Analysis. Naturally divided into four parts. Part I. a series of genealogies or a summary of ancient history of man in the line of Israel to David. 1 Chronicles 1-9. Ch. 1 from Adam to Israel; chs. 2–7 the twelve tribes of Israel; chs. 8–9 the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Part II. contains the history of David’s reign from the death of Saul, partly agreeing with the account in the Books of Samuel, yet with important additions concerning the Levites, chs. 10–29. Part III., in nine chapters, comprises the reign of Solomon, 2 Chronicles 1-9. Part IV. gives a history of the kingdom of Judah (while Israel remained, 10–28; and after Israel’s downfall), especially in connection with the worship of God, 29–36. The account continues to the proclamation of Cyrus authorising the return of the people and the rebuilding of the Temple. “There are twenty whole chapters and twenty-four parts of chapters occupied with matter not to be found in other books of Scripture. These books, therefore, are highly important on account of the new material as well as the new aspect of things which they present.”—See Murphy, The Books of Chronicles (Clark).

“And these are ancient things” (1 Chronicles 4:22).

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