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- 1 Chronicles
by Daniel Whedon
IN the ancient Hebrew copies the two books of Chronicles, like the books of Samuel and Kings, form one undivided work. The division into two books originated, in this case as in those, with the Septuagint translators; thence it passed over to the Vulgate; and thence to all the later versions, and also to the modern editions of the Hebrew Bible. The division of these books is much more appropriate than that of the books of Kings, for the first book closes with the death of David, and the second opens with the beginning of Solomon’s reign.
The Hebrew name for these books is דברי הימים , Dibre hayamim, words of the days; that is, the daily acts or events of the times of individuals, especially of kings. This title seems to have been adopted from the ancient public annals of the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah, which are so often referred to by the writer of the books of Kings. 1 Kings 14:19; 1 Kings 14:29; 1 Kings 15:7; 1 Kings 15:23; 1 Kings 15:31, etc. The books of Kings and Chronicles gradually displaced or superseded the more ancient annals, and so very naturally took their name. The meaning of the Hebrew title is well expressed by the word Ephemerides, a name which some of the later Latin writers have applied to these books.
The Septuagint translators named the work Παραλειπομενα , Paraleipomena, which means things omitted. They seem to have thought that these books were supplementary to Samuel and Kings, and so designed to furnish important information which had been omitted in those earlier books. The name Chronicles is supposed to have originated in a remark of St. Jerome, that the Dibre hayamim might be more significantly called the Chronicon of the whole Sacred History, ( Chronicon totius Divinae Historiae.) This name appears in some copies of the Vulgate, and in most of the later versions, and is now the prevailing title.
Date and Author.
The work evidently belongs to a period subsequent to the Babylonish exile. In 1 Chronicles 3:19-24, the genealogy of David is brought down to Zerubbabel and beyond. A comparison of the list of “the first inhabitants” of Jerusalem as given in 1 Chronicles 9:2-17, with Nehemiah 11:3-19, will show that both lists belong to post-exile times. The close of the work (2 Chronicles 36:22) brings down the narrative to the days of Cyrus and the restoration. These internal evidences of a post-exile date are abundantly confirmed by the language and phraseology. Numerous Aramaisms, and a use of certain foreign words, together with other peculiarities of diction and orthography which characterize the later Hebrew, place the Chronicles in the same class of literature with the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. And these, and other minor points of a similar nature, favour and confirm the opinion almost unanimous among the Jews, and undisputed in Christendom till the middle of the seventeenth century, that Chronicles is the work of Ezra.
The only objection to this opinion of any weight is the genealogy of the house of David, which in 1 Chronicles 3:19-24 seems to be carried down five generations beyond Zerubbabel. Upon this point certain rationalistic critics have fastened, and tried to show that the Chronicles must have been written as late as the time of Alexander the Great, or even later. But it has been shown to be not at all impossible that the latest descendant of Zerubbabel mentioned in this passage may have been living in the time of Ezra, (see note on the passage;) but if that explanation be considered unsatisfactory, it is much easier and more natural to regard those few verses as an addition by a later hand than to set aside the other numerous and weighty evidences that assign the work to the times of Ezra.
A number of eminent critics are of opinion that the books of Chronicles and Ezra formed, originally, one undivided work. They argue from the identity of the close of Chronicles with the beginning of Ezra, and the noticeable similarity in spirit, language, and style, and suppose that the separation may have been made in order to place the post-exile narrative of Ezra in chronological sequence after the Book of Daniel, which contained a history of the captivity. Accordingly what was the closing section of Chronicles was detached, and, under the name of Ezra, was inserted between Daniel and Nehemiah, its present position in the Hebrew Canon. Whatever may be thought of this conjecture, the main arguments by which it is supported seem abundantly to show, in the absence of any good reason to the contrary, that the books of Chronicles and Ezra proceeded from the same author.
To authenticate his narrative and refer his reader to sources where he might obtain fuller information, if desired, the writer of Chronicles has explicitly named more ancient works than all the other sacred writers put together. These works, in the order in which they are mentioned, are the following:
1 . THE CHRONICLES OF KING DAVID 1 Chronicles 27:24.
2 . THE BOOK OF SAMUEL THE SEER 1 Chronicles 29:29.
3 . THE BOOK OF NATHAN THE PROPHET 1Ch 29:29 ; 2 Chronicles 9:29.
4 . THE BOOK OF GAD THE SEER 1 Chronicles 29:29.
5 . THE PROPHECY OF AHIJAH THE SHILONITE 2 Chronicles 9:29.
6 . THE VISIONS OF IDDO THE SEER AGAINST JEROBOAM THE SON OF NEBAT 2 Chronicles 9:29.
7 . THE BOOK OF SHEMIAH THE PROPHET 2 Chronicles 12:15.
8 . IDDO THE SEER CONCERNING GENEALOGIES 2 Chronicles 12:15.
9 . THE STORY (MIDRASH) OF THE PROPHET IDDO 2 Chronicles 13:22.
10 . THE BOOK OF THE KINGS OF JUDAH AND ISRAEL 2 Chronicles 16:11; 2Ch 25:26 ; 2 Chronicles 27:7; 2Ch 28:26 ; 2 Chronicles 35:27; 2 Chronicles 36:8.
11 . THE BOOK OF JEHU THE SON OF HANANI 2 Chronicles 20:34.
12 . THE BOOK OF THE KINGS OF ISRAEL 2Ch 20:34 ; 2 Chronicles 33:18.
13 . THE STORY (MIDRASH) OF THE BOOK OF THE KINGS 2 Chronicles 24:27.
14 . THE ACTS OF UZZIAH, BY ISAIAH THE PROPHET 2 Chronicles 26:22.
15 . THE VISION OF ISAIAH THE PROPHET 2 Chronicles 32:32.
16 . THE SAYINGS OF CHOZAI 2 Chronicles 33:19.
17 . THE LAMENTATIONS 2 Chronicles 35:25.
These works may be divided into three classes, according to the supposed nature of their contents: (1.) Historical Annals, Nos. 1, 10, 12 of the above list; (2.) Commentaries on the reigns of certain kings, Nos. 9, 13; (3.) Prophetical Monographs, Nos. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17. But the exact character and extent of these various writings it is of course impossible to decide. Perhaps some of them may be identical with some of our present canonical books, but most of them, if not all, have long since been lost. Of the Historical Annals referred to, “The Chronicles of King David” (No. 1) were public or State documents prepared and kept by the royal scribes. This appears evident from the character of the items it was customary to record in them. 1 Chronicles 27:24. “The Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel,” (No. 10,) or “of Israel and Judah,” as it is sometimes called, is more frequently referred to by our author than any other work, and was probably a general history of the two kingdoms compiled from the two great works so often referred to in the books of Kings “The Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel,” and “The Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah.” See Introduction to the books of Kings. It was not identical, as some have thought, with our canonical books of Kings, for it contained, according to 2 Chronicles 27:7, matters not to be found in those books. Nor was it identical with those more ancient “Chronicles,” from which the author of Kings quotes, for they were two separate books, whereas this was one work. Whether “The Book of the Kings of Israel” (No. 12) was a different work, or the same as No. 10, is difficult to decide. The title would naturally indicate a different book, but many critics regard them as the same work, and take “Israel” in the title of No. 12 in the wider sense of the whole Israelitish nation, including the two kingdoms. Certain it is that this “Book of the Kings of Israel” contained sundry acts and words of Jewish kings (Jehoshaphat and Manasseh, 2 Chronicles 20:34; 2 Chronicles 33:18) not elsewhere preserved.
The Commentaries, or Midrashim, of Iddo and of the Book of Kings (Nos. 9, 13) seem to have been essays or disquisitions on the acts and sayings of certain kings Abijah and Joash, 2 Chronicles 13:22; 2 Chronicles 24:27. The word מדרשׁ , strangely rendered story in our version, occurs in Scripture only in these passages in Chronicles. In the later Jewish and Rabbinical literature the word is common, and denotes the study and exposition of the sacred books. It evidently comes from the Hebrew root דרשׁ , to seek; to inquire into; and as used in Chronicles would naturally denote a treatise or essay devoted to the investigation of particular parts of the Jewish national history, and an exposition of the moral and religious influence and results of the acts of certain kings. Such a work would naturally involve the recital of many historical details which could not elsewhere be found so fully written. Thus the Midrash of the prophet Iddo was devoted to the “ways” and “sayings” of Abijah, and contained a fuller account of many of his “acts” than could be found anywhere else. The Midrash of the Book of the Kings was probably a more extended treatise, written by some other prophet, and devoted to a like discussion of the ways and words of a number of the kings of Judah. These Midrashim thus differed from other prophetical works in being of a more expository, and, perhaps, philosophical character.
The Prophetical Monographs, which constitute the other sources referred to by our author, were doubtless of varied character and extent. Iddo, the prophet and seer, was the author of two other works (Nos. 6 and 8)
besides his Midrash on the ways and words of Abijah. His “Visions against Jeroboam the Son of Nebat” was a work which contained information on the life and acts of Solomon, (2 Chronicles 9:29,) from which fact we infer that it was a treatise that detailed the relations of Solomon and Jeroboam to each other, and gave a prophetic description of the character and evil results of Jeroboam’s life and reign. Some have identified this Iddo with the mysterious prophet of Judah who uttered the oracles of judgment against the altar and calf-worship at Beth-el. 1 Kings 13:1. Josephus ( Antiq., 1 Chronicles 8:9 ; 1 Chronicles 8:1) calls him Iadon, (‘ Ιαδων .) His work “concerning genealogies” (2 Chronicles 12:15) contained the acts of Rehoboam.
The phrase “concerning genealogies” is ambiguous, and seems to belong as much to the book or words of Shemaiah (No. 7) as to that of Iddo. Several eminent critics render the whole passage thus: “The acts of Rehoboam, the first and the last, are they not written in the words of Shemaiah the prophet, and of Iddo the seer, after the manner of a family register?” The most that can well be conjectured is, that these books of Iddo and Shemaiah were written in some tabular form, preserving the events of Rehoboam’s reign after the manner of a genealogy. “The Vision of Isaiah the Prophet” (No. 15) is usually supposed to have been historical, consisting chiefly of a biography of Hezekiah. It may, however, have been identical with our canonical Book of Isaiah, to which the writer of Chronicles might well have referred for the details of Hezekiah’s reign which are furnished in Isaiah 36-39; for there is no sufficient reason for supposing that this “Vision of Isaiah” contained a full history of all the acts of Hezekiah. The other work of Isaiah which our author names (No. 14) was more historical in its character, since it contained “the acts of Uzziah, first and last,” 2 Chronicles 26:22. This work was evidently, as its name indicates, an extended account of the reign of King Uzziah. The books of Samuel, (No. 2,) Nathan, (No. 3,) Gad, (No. 4,) Ahijah, (No. 5,) and Jehu, (No. 11,) were prophetico-historical documents treating particular periods of the national history with probably greater fulness than any other works.
In most cases they were probably written by the persons whose names they bear. It is barely possible that “the Book of Samuel the Seer” (No. 2) may have been the same as our canonical books of Samuel. “The Sayings of Chozai,” (No. 16,) or Hosai, as the margin of the English version has it, (2 Chronicles 33:19,) was a prophetical monograph on Manasseh’s reign, similar in character to some of the works above described.
According to the English version, which follows the Septuagint, and renders the word חוזי , Chozai, “seers,” the reference would not be to any one particular work, but, generally, to the books of such seers as were commonly known to have written on the subject. “The Lamentations” (No.
17) was probably a collection of national dirges, in which such songs of sorrow as Jeremiah composed on the death of Josiah naturally found a place. It could hardly have been our canonical Book of Lamentations, since that contains no mention of Josiah.
Besides the above works, which our author has named as his authorities, he doubtless had access to all the older Hebrew literature which is still extant, and drew from it such things as served his purpose. Some critics have affirmed, and others have denied, that our canonical books of Samuel and Kings were among the sources used by the chronicler; but as all admit that he had access to these books, there seems to be no valid reason for denying that he sometimes used them. Numerous verbal parallels between Kings and Chronicles are best explained by supposing that the author of the latter quoted directly from the former. The number of books above cited which are not now extant, together with others of similar character mentioned in other Old Testament books, indicate what a large amount of ancient Hebrew literature has been lost to the Church and the world.
Relation to the Books of Samuel and Kings.
The history of Israel from the death of Saul to the Babylonish captivity is gone over by the writer of Chronicles in such a way as to furnish a parallel to a large portion of 2 Samuel and the two books of Kings. In comparing the different books, however, we note in Chronicles numerous omissions and additions, as well as many parallels more or less close. Some passages in Chronicles seem to be almost a verbal transcript from Samuel or Kings, while others substantially parallel are more or less fully detailed. The following tabulated summary of the principal parallels, omissions, and additions, will assist the student in a comparison of the different books:
Death of Saul 1 Samuel 31:0 1 Chronicles 10:1-12.
Anointing of David and Capture of Zion 2 Samuel 5:1-3; 2 Samuel 2:0 Samuel 6-10 1 Chronicles 11:1-9.
David’s mighty men 2 Samuel 23:8-39 1 Chronicles 11:10-47.
Removal of the ark 2 Samuel 6 1 Chronicles 13, 15, 16.
David’s negotiations with Hiram and his family; the Philistine war 2 Samuel 5:11-25 1 Chronicles 14:0.
David’s purpose to build the temple 2 Samuel 7 1 Chronicles 17:0.
David’s victories and officers 2 Samuel 8 1 Chronicles 18:0.
The Ammonite war 2 Samuel 12:26-31 1 Chronicles 19:0; 1 Chronicles 20:1-3.
Feats of David’s heroes 2 Samuel 21:18-22 1 Chronicles 20:4-8.
David’s sin in numbering the people 2 Samuel 24 1 Chronicles 21:0.
Solomon’s sacrifice and choice at Gibeon 1 Kings 3:4-15 2 Chronicles 1:2-13.
Solomon’s riches 1 Kings 10:26-29 2 Chronicles 1:13-17.
Preparations for building the temple 1 Kings 5 2 Chronicles 2:0.
Building and dedication of the temple 1 Kings 6:0; 1 Kings 7:13-51; 1 Kings 1:0 Kings 8 2 Chronicles 7:1-11.
The Lord’s word to Solomon 1Ki 9:1-9 2 Chronicles 7:12-22.
Solomon’s public works, labourers, and commerce 1 Kings 9:10-28 2 Chronicles 8:0.
The queen of Sheba 1 Kings 10:1-13 2 Chronicles 9:1-12.
Solomon’s revenues 1 Kings 10:14-29 2 Chronicles 9:13-28.
Solomon’s death 1 Kings 11:41-43 2 Chronicles 9:29-31.
The kingdom divided 1 Kings 12:1-24 2 Chronicles 10:0; 2 Chronicles 11:1-4.
Account of Rehoboam 1 Kings 14:21-31 2 Chronicles 12:2; 2 Chronicles 12:8-9; 2 Chronicles 12:16.
of Abijah 1Ki 15:1-2 ; 1 Kings 15:6-8 2 Chronicles 13:12; 2 Chronicles 14:1. of Asa 1Ki 15:11-24 2 Chronicles 14:2-5; 2 Chronicles 15:16-19; 2Ch 16:1-6 ; 2 Chronicles 16:11-14.
of Jehoshaphat 1 Kings 22:2-35; 1Ki 22:41 ; 1 Kings 22:51; 2 Chronicles 18:02 Chronicles 18:0; 2 Chronicles 20:31; 2 Chronicles 21:1.
of Jehoram 2 Kings 8:16-24 2Ch 21:5-10 ; 2 Chronicles 21:20. of Ahaziah 2Ki 8:25-29 ; 2 Kings 9:16-28; 2 Kings 10:12-14 2 Chronicles 22:1-9.
of Athaliah 2 Kings 11:0 2 Chronicles 22:10; 2 Chronicles 23:0.
of Joash 2 Kings 12:0 2 Chronicles 24:1-14; 2 Chronicles 24:23-27.
of Amaziah 2 Kings 14:1-14; 2Ki 14:17-20 2 Chronicles 25:1-4; 2 Chronicles 25:11; 2 Chronicles 25:17-28.
of Uzziah 2 Kings 14:21-22; 2 Kings 15:2-7 2 Chronicles 26:1-4; 2 Chronicles 26:21-23.
of Jotham 2 Kings 15:33-38 2 Chronicles 27:1-3; 2 Chronicles 27:7-9.
of Ahaz 2Ki 16:2-4 ; 2 Kings 16:19-20 2 Chronicles 28:1-4; 2 Chronicles 28:27 of Hezekiah 2 Kings 18:2-3, 2 Kings 18:13 to 2Ki 20:2 ; 2 Kings 20:20-21 2 Chronicles 29:1-2; 2Ch 32:24-25 ; 2 Chronicles 32:32-33.
of Manasseh and Amon 2 Kings 21:1-9; 2 Kings 21:18-24 2 Chronicles 33:1-10; 2 Chronicles 33:20-25.
of Josiah 2 Kings 22:0; 2 Kings 23:1-3; 2 Kings 23:21-23; 2 Kings 23:28-30; 2 Kings 25:1; 2Ki 25:18-24 ; 2 Kings 25:26-27. 2 Chronicles 34:1-2; 2 Chronicles 34:8; 2 Chronicles 34:32, of Jehoahaz 2 Kings 23:31-34 2 Chronicles 36:1-4.
of Jehoiakim 2 Kings 23:36-37; 2Ki 24:1 ; 2 Kings 24:5-6. 2 Chronicles 36:5-6; 2 Chronicles 36:8.
of Jehoiachin 2 Kings 24:8-15 2 Chronicles 36:9-10. of Zedekiah 2 Kings 24:17-20 2 Chronicles 36:11-13.
David’s grief for Saul and Jonathan 2 Samuel 1:11-27. David’s reign at Hebron 2 Samuel 2:1-7.
War between the house of Saul and house of David 2 Samuel 2:8; 2 Samuel 4:0.
Michal’s reproof 2 Samuel 6:20-23.
David’s kindness to Mephibosheth 2 Samuel 9:0.
David’s adultery, and death of Uriah 2 Samuel 11:2-27. Nathan’s parable 2 Samuel 12:1-14.
Death of the child of David and Bathsheba 2 Samuel 12:15-28. Amnon’s incest and Absalom’s revenge 2 Samuel 13:0.
Absalom’s rebellion 2 Samuel 14-19. Sheba’s rebellion 2 Samuel 20:0.
The Gibeonites avenged, and burial of Saul and Jonathan’s bones 2 Samuel 21:1-14.
A war with the Philistines 2 Samuel 21:15-17. David’s Psalm and last words 2 Samuel 22:0; 2 Samuel 23:1-7. Adonijah’s usurpation 1 Kings 1:0.
David’s charge to Solomon 1 Kings 2:1-9.
Downfall of Solomon’s personal foes 1 Kings 2:13-46. Solomon’s marriage with Pharaoh’s daughter 1 Kings 3:1. Solomon’s judicial sagacity 1 Kings 3:16-28.
Solomon’s officers, glory, and wisdom 1 Kings 4:0. Description of the palace 1 Kings 7:1-12. Solomon’s sins and adversaries 1 Kings 11:1-40.
The history of the northern kingdom of the Ten Tribes, which is narrated in the Kings with greater fulness than the history of the kingdom of Judah, is altogether omitted in Chronicles.
List of those who came to David at Ziklag and Hebron 1 Chronicles 12:1-40.
The Levites who assisted at the removal of the Ark to Zion 1 Chronicles 15:2-24.
David’s preparations for building the temple 1 Chronicles 22:0. The organizing and classifying of the Levites and priests 1 Chronicles 23-26.
Arrangement of the military and civil officers 1 Chronicles 27:0. David’s last instructions to the assembled princes and to Solomon just before his death 1 Chronicles 28, 29.
Supplement to the history of Rehoboam 2 Chronicles 11:5-23. Number and nationality of Shishak’s forces 2 Chronicles 12:3. Shemaiah’s prophecies 2Ch 11:3 ; 2 Chronicles 12:5-8.
Abijah’s war with Jeroboam 2 Chronicles 13:3-20.
Asa’s works and victory over Zerah 2 Chronicles 14:8-15. Azariah’s prophecy and Asa’s reforms 2 Chronicles 14:1-15. Hanani’s oracle against Asa 2 Chronicles 16:7-10. Jehoshaphat’s reforms; his power and riches 2 Chronicles 17:0; 2 Chronicles 18:1. Jehu’s rebuke, and Jehoshaphat’s further reforms 2 Chronicles 19:0.
Jehoshaphat’s victory over Moab and Ammon 2 Chronicles 20:1-30.
The sons of Jehoshaphat slain by Jehoram 2 Chronicles 21:2-4. Jehoram’s idolatry and punishment 2 Chronicles 21:11-19. Death of Jehoiada and wickedness of Joash 2 Chronicles 24:15-22.
Amaziah’s warlike preparations and idolatry 2Ch 25:5-10 ; 2 Chronicles 25:14-16.
Amaziah’s wars and military force 2 Chronicles 26:6-15. Jotham’s fortifications and war with Ammon 2 Chronicles 27:4-6.
Supplement to Hezekiah’s history 2 Chronicles 29:3; 2 Chronicles 31:0; 2 Chronicles 32:27-30.
Manasseh’s captivity, repentance, and reforms 2 Chronicles 33:11-17.
The manner of Josiah’s passover 2 Chronicles 35:2-17.
A careful study and comparison of these parallels, omissions, and additions, together with other minor likenesses and differences too numerous and minute to be specified here, show that Chronicles is an independent work. It has much in common with Samuel and Kings, but while omitting many things therein recorded, it contains much additional matter, of which we have no other record now extant.
The discrepancies and contradictions between Chronicles and other books of Scripture, alleged formerly by De Wette and other rationalistic critics, are sufficiently explained in the notes on the passages where they were supposed to occur; and the attacks upon the credibility of much of the history made by the same critics have been so thoroughly refuted by more recent writers, and are in themselves so singularly wanting in validity and force, as to demand no detailed notice here. Many of the rationalistic attacks upon Chronicles were made with the avowed purpose of putting out of the way a most troublesome witness to the antiquity of the Pentateuch, and clearly showed that their authors were governed by a dogmatic interest and a foregone conclusion.
Characteristics and Peculiarities of the Chronicles.
A comparison with the other historical books of the Old Testament, and especially with Samuel and Kings, reveals in Chronicles a number of peculiarities which it becomes us here to note. One of the first things to be noticed by even the casual reader is the writer’s fondness for putting on record genealogies and lists of distinguished persons. Thus the first nine chapters are devoted to genealogies, and we can hardly read through three consecutive chapters in any part of the work without meeting some tabulated list of names. In this respect the work resembles Ezra and Nehemiah more than the other historical books.
Another noticeable peculiarity is the author’s predilection for the Levitical order. His work has been called “ecclesiastical,” rather than “political.” He dwells at length on matters pertaining to the temple services. “In the mind of the writer of Chronicles,” says Rawlinson, “the religious establishment is of primary, the State of secondary, importance. Of the nine introductory chapters, one is concerned entirely, and another mainly, with the sons of Levi, while six suffice for the whole of the remaining tribes. In the history of David, which occupies twenty chapters, eleven treat of the religious history the removal of the ark, the preparations for the building of the temple, and the arrangements made for the contemplated religious services, while no more than nine treat of the civil history of the period. In the account of Solomon, extending to nine chapters, six chapters are occupied wholly with religious matters, while two of the remaining three are divided between the religious and the secular history. In the account of the curtailed kingdom of Judah which follows, the only reigns treated at any length are those of the religious reformers, Ass, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah. United, these reigns occupy as much space as those of all the other kings put together. The reign of Hezekiah may be taken as a crucial instance of the difference between the modes of treatment pursued by the writers of Chronicles and Kings. The writer of Kings devotes three, the writer of Chronicles four, chapters to the subject. Both represent the reign as remarkable, (1,) for a religious reformation, and (2,) for striking events of secular history, in which Judea was brought into connexion with the great monarchies of the time, Babylonia and Assyria. But while the writer of Kings thinks it enough to relate the religious reformation in three verses, (2 Kings 18:4-6,) and devotes to the secular history treated indeed from a religious point of view the whole remainder of his three chapters, the writer of Chronicles gives the heads of the secular history in one chapter, while he devotes to the religious reformation the remaining three chapters of his four.”
Another characteristic is described by the writer just quoted as “a constant, open, and direct ascription of all the events of the history to the 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.” This characteristic he calls “the key-note of Chronicles,” “struck as soon as any narrative is entered upon, and thenceforth recurs, like the refrain of a song, in connexion with almost every portion of the narrative.” 1Ch 4:10 ; 1 Chronicles 5:18-20; 1 Chronicles 5:25-26; 1 Chronicles 9:1, are instanced as all occurring “in the dry genealogical introduction,” and illustrating the spirit and aim of the writer. “When the historical portion of the work commences, the key-note is once more struck with a peculiar emphasis, that the writer’s object may be unmistakable. ‘Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the Lord, even against the word of the Lord, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to inquire of it; and inquired not of the Lord: therefore he slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David.’ 1 Chronicles 10:13-14. Henceforth the entire narrative does but repeat and deepen this one impression.”
Some of the omissions which we have previously noticed may be regarded as a peculiarity of the chronicler. Especially, in view of the last mentioned characteristic, may the omission of any mention of David’s and Solomon’s greatest sins be thought strange. Some have hastily concluded that these omissions sprung from a desire to conceal the flagrant crimes of Israel’s greatest monarchs. But this could hardly be, since they were already published to the world; and the writer does not omit to mention other sins of these great kings, (for example, 1 Chronicles 21:1; 1 Chronicles 21:8; 2 Chronicles 9:25,) and the sins of other kings of Judah. We cannot determine in every case why the writer omitted this, or added that, but on this point Wordsworth well observes: “His silence is a testimony to the sufficiency of the previous narratives, and is an evidence that the claims of historical justice were thereby satisfied. And it suggests a salutary lesson of charity, which loves to cover sins, especially of the penitent and departed; and more particularly of kings, who have loved God, and have been loved by him.”
We also note in places a tendency of the chronicler to give a free paraphrase, in his own language and style, of certain speeches which he records. For instance, in the words of David, recorded in 1 Chronicles 13:2-3; 1 Chronicles 15:12-13; 1 Chronicles 22:7-16; 1Ch 28:2-10 ; 1 Chronicles 29:1-5, we find so many of the words and expressions peculiar to the writer of Chronicles as to lead to the conclusion that, while he truthfully presents the sentiments uttered by the great king on the occasions referred to, he has done so largely in his own style and language. It may be doubted, however, whether this peculiarity of the chronicler is really different from what may be found in other sacred writers. We may reasonably suppose that in most of the speeches and prayers occurring in the historical portions of the Old Testament, we have, not an exact and literal transcript of what was originally uttered, but still a truthful presentation of the fundamental thoughts.
The numbers given in Chronicles seem to be peculiarly and almost uniformly extravagant. Compare 1Ch 21:25 ; 1 Chronicles 22:14; 1Ch 29:4 ; 1 Chronicles 29:7; 2Ch 3:4 ; 2 Chronicles 13:3; 2Ch 13:17 ; 2 Chronicles 14:8-9; 2 Chronicles 17:14-18; 2 Chronicles 28:8. In many of these passages the reading is no doubt corrupt, and indeed the general condition of the Hebrew text of Chronicles is quite unsatisfactory, more so than that of any other part of the Old Testament.
Design and Value of the Chronicles.
The preceding investigations have prepared us now to take up the question, Why the Book of Chronicles? What was the writer’s object in preparing so extended a history of the chosen people, when there already existed works on the subject in many respects fuller than his own? Some parts of his work are but a repetition of parts of Samuel and Kings, and the lists of names and genealogies seem often to burden his narrative, and render the whole work less interesting and profitable to most readers than other sacred books of Israel. Those interpreters who would find a mystery in every name of Chronicles, and trace in lengthy genealogies a typical history of redemption, will not be likely to gather many followers.
We shall best learn the design of the author by considering the special circumstances and interests of the Jewish people at the time he composed his work. Assuming (what we have already shown to be altogether probable) that the author was Ezra, the priest and scribe profoundly versed in the literature of his people, (Ezra 7:6; Ezra 7:10,) we may reasonably believe that he discerned among the returned exiles the want of just such a summary of their national history as is furnished in this book, and that the characteristics and peculiarities of the book, above described, will indicate its design and value.
We observe, then, that those for whom this work was specially prepared had recently returned from exile. Their first great work had been to rebuild their temple and their ancient capital. But the masses of the people were greatly lacking in the knowledge of their sacred history and customs. They needed to have their ancient laws expounded, (Nehemiah 8:8,) and especially was it important for them to know the origin and claims of the temple worship, the organization and duties of the priests and Levites, and the history of the royal house of David. Further, to the returned exiles few things had greater interest than their ancestral genealogies. For them no better history of the beginnings and earlier development and growth of their nation could be furnished than that of properly arranged tables which traced the lineage of all the great families back to the remotest times, and showed their relation to the most ancient nations.
Accordingly, we find all these things compassed in our author’s plan. His genealogies furnished for his readers, whose interests and tastes were peculiarly gratified by such records, a synopsis of their history from the creation of man. His more detailed narrative begins with the reign of David, for under the reign of that monarch Jerusalem was chosen for the seat of government and worship, and the sanctuary service first became permanently organized. The chronicler, therefore, dwells at length upon those acts and events in the lives of David and Solomon which centralized the religious worship of Israel, and gave permanency to the throne of David. The removal of the ark to Jerusalem; the organization of the Levites; their classification by orders and by courses, and the arrangements for all departments of the public service; the extensive preparations which David made for building the temple, and his plans which he passed over in his last days to Solomon, with his dying charge to build the temple and carefully maintain the sacred service; the wise choice of Solomon, and his prompt arrangements to erect and dedicate the house of God these were the matters which Ezra especially desired to make familiar to the returned exiles. And as he proceeded to add to this a short history of the separate kingdom of Judah, he takes particular pains to point out how Jehovah blessed and prospered the kings who put their trust in him and sought to maintain his worship in purity, and also how he visited with misfortunes and disasters those who forsook his laws and countenanced idolatry. He makes especially conspicuous the fact that the ruin of the temple and the kingdom followed directly upon a succession of three wicked kings, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah, who seemed to hasten to fill up the cup of Judah’s abominations. It was, then, to furnish a convenient record especially of these facts and lessons that our author wrote; and hence it was a part of his plan to omit many things which preceding writers of his nation had furnished, and to give more prominence to other things on which he felt his people needed special information and instruction.
Hence, too, we see the special value of the Book of Chronicles. “Such a picture of the past,” observes Rawlinson, “a sort of condensed view of the entire previous history, written in the idiom of the day, with frequent allusions to recent events, and in a markedly didactic tone, with a constant reiteration of the moral intended to be taught, was calculated to affect the newly-returned and still unsettled people far more strongly and deeply than the old narratives, written without reference to the existing state of things, in language less familiar, and with less pointedly didactic force. The Book of Chronicles bridged over, so to speak, the gulf which separated the nation after, from the nation before, the captivity, and must have helped greatly to restore the national life, the various strands of which it united with their correspondent threads in the past, while it revived hope and encouraged high aspirations by showing to the nation that its fate was in its own hands, that religious faithfulness would be certain to secure the Divine blessing, and might be counted on to bring back the glories of Asa and Hezekiah.”
The Genealogies. 1 Chronicles 1-9.
From Adam to Noah 1 Chronicles 1:1
Sons of Japheth 1 Chronicles 1:5
Sons of Ham 1 Chronicles 1:8 -
Sons of Shem 1 Chronicles 1:17 -
Sons of Ishmael 1 Chronicles 1:29 -
Sons of Abraham by Keturah 1 Chronicles 1:32 -
Sons of Esau 1 Chronicles 1:35 -
Kings of Edom 1 Chronicles 1:43 -
Dukes of Edom 1 Chronicles 1:51 -
The sons of Israel 1 Chronicles 2:1
Descendants of Judah 1 Chronicles 2:3 -
The royal line of David 1 Chronicles 3:1 -
Other descendants of Judah 1 Chronicles 4:1 -
Sons and Possessions of Simeon 1 Chronicles 4:24 -
Sons and Possessions of Reuben 1 Chronicles 5:1 -
Sons of Gad 1 Chronicles 5:11 -
Hagarite Conquests 1 Chronicles 5:18 -
Chief Fathers and Possessions of (eastern) Manasseh 1 Chronicles 5:23 -
Captivity of the Eastern Tribes 1 Chronicles 5:25 -
The Sons of Levi 1 Chronicles 6:1 -
Dwelling-places of the Priests and Levites 1 Chronicles 6:54 -
Sons of Issachar 1 Chronicles 7:1
Sons of Benjamin 1 Chronicles 7:6 -
Sons of Naphtali 1 Chronicles 7:0:
Sons of Manasseh 1 Chronicles 7:14 -
Sons and Possessions of Ephraim 1 Chronicles 7:20 -
Sons of Asher 1 Chronicles 7:30 -
Sons and Chief Fathers of Benjamin 1 Chronicles 8:1 -
The first (post-exile) Inhabitants of Jerusalem 1 Chronicles 9:1 -
Offices and Duties of the Levites 1 Chronicles 9:19 -
Genealogy of Saul’s Family 1 Chronicles 9:35-44
History of David’s Reign. 1 Chronicles 10-29.
Fall and Ruin of the House of Saul 1 Chronicles 10:1 -
David made King of all Israel 1 Chronicles 11:1
Capture of Zion 1 Chronicles 11:4
David’s Mighty Men 1 Chronicles 11:10 -
Warriors who joined David at Ziklag 1 Chronicles 12:1
Those who joined him in the Wilderness 1 Chronicles 12:8 -
Manassites who joined him at Ziklag 1 Chronicles 12:19 -
Warriors who made David King of all Israel 1 Chronicles 12:23 -
The Ark removed from Kirjath to the house of Obed-Edom 1 Chronicles 13:1 -
David’s Palace and Family 1 Chronicles 14:1
Victories over the Philistines 1 Chronicles 14:8 -
Arrangement of the Priests and Levites for bearing the Ark 1 Chronicles 15:1 -
The Ark brought to Zion 1 Chronicles 15:25 to 1 Chronicles 16:3
The Singers and the Psalm on that occasion 1 Chronicles 16:4 -
The Ministers of the Ark and Altar 1 Chronicles 16:37 -
David’s Purpose to Build the Temple 1 Chronicles 17:1
Jehovah’s Word by Nathan 1 Chronicles 17:3 -
David’s Prayer 1 Chronicles 17:16 -
Summary of David’s Victories 1 Chronicles 18:1 -
David’s Officers 1 Chronicles 18:14 -
Ammonite and Syrian War 1 Chronicles 19:1 -
Capture of Rabbah 1 Chronicles 20:1
Heroic Feats of three of David’s Men 1 Chronicles 20:4
David’s Sin in Numbering the People and its Punishment 1 Chronicles 21:1 -
The Altar on Ornan’s Threshingfloor 1 Chronicles 21:18 -
David’s Preparations for Building the Temple 1 Chronicles 22:1
His Charge to Solomon 1 Chronicles 22:6 -
His Charge to the Princes 1 Chronicles 22:17 -
The Divisions and Duties of the Levites 1 Chronicles 23:1 -
The Divisions of the Priests 1 Chronicles 24:1 -
Their special Levitical Assistants 1 Chronicles 24:20 -
The Divisions of the Musicians 1 Chronicles 25:1 -
The Divisions of the Porters 1 Chronicles 26:1 -
The Treasurers of the Temple 1 Chronicles 26:20 -
The Levitical Officers and Judges 1 Chronicles 26:29 -
The Twelve Military Captains 1 Chronicles 27:1 -
Princes of the Tribes 1 Chronicles 27:16 -
Remark on the Census 1 Chronicles 27:23 -
Officers of the King’s Revenue 1 Chronicles 27:25 -
David’s Counsellors 1 Chronicles 27:32 -
David’s last National Council 1 Chronicles 28:1
His Address on the occasion 1 Chronicles 28:2
His Charge to Solomon 1 Chronicles 28:9,
The Pattern and Provisions for the Temple 1 Chronicles 28:11 -
The King’s Labours and Gifts for the Temple 1 Chronicles 29:1
The Contributions of the Princes 1 Chronicles 29:6
David’s Prayer on the occasion 1 Chronicles 29:10 -
Solomon Anointed King 1 Chronicles 29:20 -
Close of David’s History 1 Chronicles 29:26 -
History of Solomon’s Reign, 2 Chronicles , 1-11.
Solomon’s Sacrifice at Gibeon 2 Chronicles 1:1 -
His Riches 2 Chronicles 1:13 -
Preparations for Building the Temple 2 Chronicles 2:1 -
The Building of the Temple 2 Chronicles 3:1 -
Vessels and Courts of the Temple 2 Chronicles 4:1 -
The Ark brought into the Temple 2 Chronicles 5:1 -
The Cloud of Divine Glory 2 Chronicles 5:11 -
The Address and Prayer of Dedication 2 Chronicles 6:1 -
The Fire from Heaven 2 Chronicles 7:1
The Sacrifices and Feast of Dedication 2 Chronicles 7:4 -
The Lord’s Word to Solomon 2 Chronicles 7:12 -
Sundry Acts, showing the general character of Solomon’s Reign 2 Chronicles 8:1 -
The Queen of Sheba 2 Chronicles 9:1 -
Solomon’s Riches and Glory 2 Chronicles 9:13 -
Close of Solomon’s History 2 Chronicles 9:29-31
History of the Kingdom of Judah. 2 Chronicles 10-36.
The Division of the Kingdom 2 Chronicles 10:1 -
Shemaiah’s Oracle forbidding Rehoboam to fight with Israel 2 Chronicles 11:1
Rehoboam’s Fortified Cities 2 Chronicles 11:5 -
The Levites resort to Jerusalem 2 Chronicles 11:13 -
Rehoboam’s Family 2 Chronicles 11:18 -
Shishak’s Invasion 2 Chronicles 12:1 -
Rehoboam’s Sins and Death 2 Chronicles 12:13 -
Abijah’s Reign 2 Chronicles 13:1 -
Asa’s Reign auspiciously begun 2 Chronicles 14:1
His City, Building, and Military Power 2 Chronicles 14:6
War with Zerah, the Ethiopian 2 Chronicles 14:9 -
Azariah’s Prophecy 2 Chronicles 15:1
Asa’s Reforms and Renewal of the Covenant 2 Chronicles 15:8 -
Asa hires Ben-hadad to trouble Baasha 2 Chronicles 16:1
Hanani’s Oracle and Asa’s Wrath 2 Chronicles 16:7 -
Asa’s Disease and Death 2 Chronicles 16:11 -
Jehoshaphat’s Piety, Prosperity, and Power 2 Chronicles 17:1 -
His affinity with Ahab, and the Syrian wars 2 Chronicles 18:1 -
Jehoshaphat rebuked by Jehu 2 Chronicles 19:1
Jehoshaphat’s further Reforms 2 Chronicles 19:4 -
Victory over Moab and Ammon 2 Chronicles 20:1 -
The rest of Jehoshaphat’s Reign 2 Chronicles 20:31 -
Jehoram’s Reign wickedly begun 2 Chronicles 21:1
Revolt of Edom and Libnah 2 Chronicles 21:8 -
The Writing from Elijah 2 Chronicles 21:12 -
Philistine and Arabian Invasion 2 Chronicles 21:16,
His Disease and Death 2 Chronicles 21:18 -
Ahaziah’s Reign 2 Chronicles 22:1
Athaliah’s Usurpation 2 Chronicles 22:10 -
Athaliah’s Fall and Joash’s Elevation to the Throne 2 Chronicles 23:1 -
Joash Repairs the Temple 2 Chronicles 24:1 -
Death of Jehoiada 2 Chronicles 24:15 -
Defection and Wickedness of the King and People 2 Chronicles 24:17 -
The Syrian Judgment 2 Chronicles 24:23,
Joash Assassinated 2 Chronicles 24:25 -
Reign of Amaziah 2 Chronicles 25:1 -
Reign of Uzziah 2 Chronicles 26:1 -
Reign of Jotham 2 Chronicles 27:1
Reign of Ahaz 2 Chronicles 28:1 -
Hezekiah’s Reign auspiciously begun 2 Chronicles 29:1
Restoration of the Temple Service 2 Chronicles 29:3 -
The Celebration of the Passover 2 Chronicles 30:1 -
Destruction of Idolatry 2 Chronicles 31:1
Reorganization of the Levites 2 Chronicles 31:2 -
Sennacherib’s Invasion and Defeat 2 Chronicles 32:1 -
Hezekiah’s Defection, Riches, and Death 2 Chronicles 32:24 -
Manasseh’s Wicked Reign 2 Chronicles 33:1 -
Amon’s Reign 2 Chronicles 33:21 -
Josiah begins to Reign 2 Chronicles 34:1-2
He Destroys Idolatry 2 Chronicles 34:3
He Repairs the Temple 2 Chronicles 34:8 -
Discovery of the Book of the Law 2 Chronicles 34:14 -
Huldah’s Prophecy 2 Chronicles 34:23 -
The Law read and the Covenant Renewed 2 Chronicles 34:29 -
The Solemn Passover 2 Chronicles 35:1 -
Josiah Attacks Necho, and is slain 2 Chronicles 35:20 -
Close of his History 2 Chronicles 35:25 -
Reign of Jehoahaz 2 Chronicles 36:1
Reign of Jehoiakim 2 Chronicles 36:5
Reign of Jehoiachin 2 Chronicles 36:9 -
Reign of Zedekiah 2 Chronicles 36:11 -
Wickedness and Fall of the Kingdom of Judah 2 Chronicles 36:14 -
The Proclamation of Cyrus 2 Chronicles 36:22-23
the Fifth Week after Easter