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The Books of Chronicles
1 Chronicles 28:9
- And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with
a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and
understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be
found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.
28:10 - Take heed now; for the LORD hath chosen thee to build an house for
the sanctuary: be strong, and do [it].
The Old Testament - A Brief Overview
Summary of The Books of Chronicles
In the English
versions of the Bible, the two books of Chronicles are placed immediately after
Kings, although in the Hebrew canon they stand at the very end of the Old
Testament. It is usually assumed that, as in the case of the books of Samuel and
Kings, the two books of Chronicles were originally one. The Hebrew title of the
books is translated "the words of the days." The name Chronicles is largely due
to a suggestion by Jerome to the effect that they ought to bear a title derived
from the Greek word for time, chronos. Unfortunately, the title has led many to
consider the books as nothing more than copies of public, documents or annals,
when in reality they were designed for a serious religious purpose, as will be
The date of the Chronicles can be no earlier than the decree of Cyrus allowing
the Jews to return from Babylon (Cf. 2 Chr. 36:22), which sets c. 537 BC as a
terminal date. The general belief that these two books form a unit with Ezra and
Nehemiah, however, brings the probable date much nearer 400 BC. The closing
verses of 2 Chronicles (36:22-23) are almost identical to the opening verses of
Ezra (1:1-4). Hebrew tradition represents Ezra as the author both of Chronicles
and the book bearing his name. This is certainly a possibility, as the books
definitely appear to have been written from the same viewpoint, but there is
nothing in them to necessitate the view that one man is responsible for the
To a great extent, Chronicles is a sifting of source materials to arrive at the
exact facts which the compiler wished to record. Among the sources specifically
mentioned are five books of the kings of Israel and/or Judah (2 Chr. 16:11;
25:26; 27:7; 20:34; 33:18; 24:27; etc.) It is possible that these are variant
designations of the same work. Named in connection with the history of David are
"the words of Samuel the seer, of Nathan the prophet and of Gad the seer" (1
Chr. 29:29). A source cited with reference to the history of Solomon is called
"The words of Nathan the prophet, the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and the
visions of Iddo the seer against Jeroboam the Son of Nebat" (2 Chr. 9:29). In
all, twenty or more sources are named. Besides this, the Chronicler often seems
to be quoting from public documents and letters. Taken together, this would
indicate that the range of sources to which he had access is astounding,
considering the time at which the books appear to have been written. A
fascinating possibility in connection with this is found in a passage from the
In 2 Maccabees 2:13-15, reference is made to a library which Nehemiah was
collecting which would include just such documents as those referred to in
Chronicles. One of the great difficulties connected with the captivity and
return must have been the proper distribution of land, which was yet a vital
point of the Jewish economy. Another difficulty, closely connected with the
former, was the maintenance of the temple services at Jerusalem. Two things were
necessary to make this possible. The first was seeing that the priests and
Levites were in Jerusalem at the appointed time of their courses of service and
fulfilled their proper function. Since the various offices in the temple service
were assigned by families, proper genealogical records were imperative.
Secondly, the proper support of the Levites had to be insured if the temple
service was to be maintained. Since the payment of tithes, first-fruits, etc.,
was dependent upon each family's being established in its inheritance, it was
even more necessary to provide trustworthy genealogies. 1 Chr. 1-8 contain the
efforts of the author to meet this need, while ch. 9 notes that the people were
thus enabled to return to their rightful inheritances.
Having provided the desired information, the author seeks to bring the people to
a realization of the true glory of their nation as the original theocracy and to
a recognition of the rights and importance of the kingdom of David. Nothing
could serve his purpose better than a compendious history of this kingdom, with
a full account of its prosperity and the sin which led to its downfall. In
preparing this history, the Chronicler chose only those materials which were
integral to his purpose. His major concern is with two divine institutions - the
temple service and the Davidic dynasty. The northern kingdom is scarcely
mentioned, and then only where it affected the fortunes of Judah. The events
mentioned in connection with David are those which relate to the worship in
Jerusalem and preparations for building the temple. In dealing with the life of
Solomon the emphasis lies on the building and dedication of the Temple, instead
of the splendor of his kingdom and the personal events of his life. Similarly,
prominence is given to the formal worship of the temple and the functions of the
Levites whenever possible. The kings whose reigns are stressed are those who
were in opposition to the idolatry which constantly seduced the Israelites. When
the purpose of these two books is properly understood, the manner in which they
treat history becomes much more explicable.
The contents of the books of Chronicles may be analyzed as follows (a fuller
discussion of a number of points may be found in the introductory article on the
books of Kings):
Outline of the Books of Chronicles
I. Genealogical Matters (1-9) These genealogies begin with Adam (1:1) and are
brought up to the time of the writer (Cf. ch. 9). It is surprising to note the
large number of historical incidents mentioned in connection with the
individuals named in these lists. Many of these are taken from other Old
Testament scripture, but some find their origin elsewhere (Cf. 4:9,10,38-43).
II. The Reign of David (10 -29)
1) The last days and death of Saul and the early reign of David (10-12).
2) The return of the ark to Jerusalem (13—16). Included in this section is the
account of the misfortune of Uzzah, who was killed when he reached forth to save
the ark from falling (13).
3) David purposes to build the temple but is forbidden because of the great
amount of bloodshed to which he has been a party (ch. 17).
4) The account of David's conquests (18-20).
5) The census and the plague (ch. 21).
6) David's preparations for building the temple (ch. 22). Although David was
himself forbidden to build a temple for God, he set about to collect the
necessary materials for such a temple, that the task of his son Solomon might be
7) Designation of the duties of the Levites (ch. 23).
8) Organization of the government (ch. 24).
9) David's last words and his death (28-29).
III. The Reign of Solomon (1-9) This section includes the further preparation,
the building and the dedication of the Temple, as well as various other
activities of Solomon.
IV. The History of Judah to Its Fall (10 -36)
1) The revolt of the ten tribes and the reign of Rehoboam (10-12).
2) The reign of Abijah (ch. /3).
3) The reign of Asa (14-16). This was a period of prosperity in Judah as Asa
instituted a number of moral and religious reforms, establishing himself as a
servant of the Lord.
4) The reign of Jehoshaphat (17-20). This king was also diligent in his efforts
to serve God. He made considerable efforts to acquaint his people with the Law.
5) The reigns of Jehoram and Ahaziah (21:1—22:9).
6) The reign of Athaliah, the only queen of Judah (22:10-23:21).
7) The reign of Joash (ch. 24). Ascending to the throne at the age of seven,
Joash, advised by the high priest Jehoida, brought about the restoration of true
worship. After Jehoida's death, however, Joash himself slipped into the worship
8) Amaziah, Uzziah, Jotham and Ahaz (25—28).
9) The reign of Hezekiah (29-32). After beginning his rule with a great
religious restoration, Hezekiah helped his nation to regain a measure of power
10) Manasseh and Amon (ch. 33).
11) The reign of Josiah (34-35). In the eighteenth year of a reign that began
when he was only eight years old, Josiah began the most sweeping religious
reforms which Judah had ever known. During the renovation of the temple, the
"book of the Law" was found, encouraging the people greatly in this time of
12) The last days of Judah (ch. 36). After a brief reign by Jehoahaz, the throne
was taken by Jehoiakim, who reigned for eleven years. During this period he was
a vassal alternatively to Egypt and Babylon. In an effort to revolt against the
Babylonian rule, he lost his life. He was succeeded by Jehoiachin, who reigned
only three months, after which he was carried to Babylon, where he lived a
number of years. The last of the Judean kings was Zedekiah. Nebuchadnezzar had
already plundered Jerusalem of much of its treasures and a considerable number
of its most promising men. This took place in two raids, in 606 and 597 sc. In
586 sc, during the reign of Zedekiah, the Babylonians struck once again, this
time leaving none but the poorest class of people to remain in Jerusalem. Five
years later, the Babylonians came to collect about 750 more captives, even after
a number, including Jeremiah, had fled to Egypt (Cf. Jer. 43).
Back to Bible
The Story of the Bible - Part One - The Old Testament
© Bible History Online (http://www.bible-history.com)
The Story of the Bible
The Old Testament
Adam and Eve
The Tower of Babel
Abraham the First Hebrew
Isaac, Son of Promise
Jacob and the 12 Tribes
Joseph and Egypt
Moses and the Exodus
The Giving of the Law
The Wilderness Wanderings
Joshua and the Promised Land
Samuel the Prophet
Saul, Israel's First King
The Divided Kingdom
The Northern Kingdom of Israel
The Southern Kingdom of Judah
The Assyrian Captivity
The Babylonian Captivity
The Return From Babylon
Bibliography and Credits
Summary of the Old Testament Books
Song of Solomon