First and Second Book of Chronicles

Arend Remmers

29 and 36 chapters

1. Author and Time of Writing

The two books of Chronicles are the very last books of the Hebrew Old Testament. Originally they formed one single book as the books of Samuel and Kings. The division of the books originates from the translation of the Septuagint, which is the Greek version of the OT. From then on the division was taken over into the translations of the Holy Scriptures until finally it was taken over into the Hebrew Bible (firstly by Daniel Bomberg in 1517 AC).

First Chron. 3:19ff; 9:1-2 and 2 Chron. 36:22-23 make it clear that the two books were only written or completed after the Babylonian captivity. As the last verses of 2 Chronicles and the first few verses of the book of Ezra are nearly identical and as the book of Ezra is the historical sequence of Chronicles the Jewish scholars who wrote the Talmud named Ezra as author of the Chronicles. The detailed genealogies at the beginning (chap. 1-9) would also endorse Ezra's authorship. The genealogies were of great importance for the Jews after the exile (compare Ezra 2:62).

As in most of the OT writings the name of the author is however not mentioned. The priestly character of these books goes well with Ezra who was a priest as well (Ezra 7:1-5.11). The time of writing would have been around 450 to 400 BC.

Throughout the books a number of historical accounts is mentioned upon which the writer could base his writings (1 Chron. 5:17; 9:1; 23:27; 27:24; 29:29; 2 Chron. 9:29; 12:15; 13:22; 24:27; 26.22; 27:7, 33:19; 35:25). For the reader acknowledging the Bible as God's inspired Word these circumstances, however, are not that important. More important is the fact that God Himself had the books written in order to admonish us (1 Cor. 10:6+11).

2. Purpose of Writing

The books of Chronicles are not a repetition of the books of Kings. God pursued a special purpose with the writings of the Chronicles. We may see this already in the long genealogies of Israel and especially of the house of David, which commences with Adam, the first man. The books of Chronicles give a divine retrospect over Israel's history and the history of mankind as well as God's ways with men. One would think of comparing the Chronicles with Deuteronomy, which is no repetition of the preceding books either.

The Chronicles describe especially the kingdom of Judah. The books of Kings describe mostly the northern kingdom of the ten tribes (Israel). The Chronicles only mention Israel when it comes into contact with Judah.

The kingdoms of David and Solomon as well as their successors are the main subject of the Chronicles. Both David and Solomon form a joint picture of Christ as rejected, suffering, glorified and reigning king. Therefore David and Solomon's trespasses (David's adultery with Bathsheba and his murdering Uriah and Solomon's idolatry) are not mentioned. The books of Kings give more moral teachings and stress the human responsibility. The Chronicles however contain more typical teachings in connection with the grace of God.

A further main subject is the erection of the temple. The building of the temple takes up much more space in the Chronicles than in the first book of Kings. In 1 Chron. we see David's interest for the temple (God's dwelling-place amidst His people) in chap. 21-29, and in 2 Chron. 2-7 the building and inauguration of the temple under King Solomon. Later on, the restoration of worship in the temple is mentioned several times (Josiah, Hezekiah). The Chronicles show the spiritual side of life in Judah and therefore bear a priestly character. The books of Kings however bear a prophetic stamp.

As in Kings the soon progressive decline of the people is described. This decline was interrupted in Judah by several revivals of God fearing kings (especially under Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah and Josiah). The description of the history of the people of God ends with Jehovah's rejection and the deportation of the Jews into Babylonian captivity (around 605 to 586 BC). Babel is a picture of worldly power in a religious cloak (compare Gen. 11 and Rev. 17-18).

But at the very end of the two books we find how God awakens the heart of King Cyrus of Persia to induce the Jews to return to Palestine. In this we find again the grace of God!

3. Peculiarities

The Temple

In addition to the differences between Chronicles and Kings mentioned above we find further remarkable differences in the descriptions of the temple. In 1 Kings 6:5-10 the chambers round about are mentioned which are missing in 2 Chronicles. In 2 Chron. 3:14 we read of the veil and in 2 Chron. 4:1 of the altar of brass whereas the author of 1 Kings does not mention either. This fact, and other small details, make it plain that 1 Kings describes the habitation of God and the intimate fellowship of God with His people. Second Chronicles however depicts the place where one can come near to God to worship Him.

4. Overview of Contents

I. 1 Chronicles 1-9: Genealogies

Chapter 1 From Adam until Edom

Chapter 2:1-4:23 Judah, especially the House of David

Chapter 4:24-8:40 The other Ten Tribes of Israel

Chapter 9 The Inhabitants of Jerusalem

II. 1 Chronicles 10-29: David's Reign

Chapter 10 The End of King Saul

Chapter 11 King David and his Mighty Men

Chapter 12 David's faithful Followers

Chapter 13 David and the Ark of Covenant

Chapter 14 David's Victories over the Philistines

Chapter 15-16 The Ark of Covenant comes to Jerusalem

Chapter 17 David's Desire to build a Temple

Chapter 18-20 The Wars of David

Chapter 21 The Census and its Punishment

Chapter 22 Preparations for the Building of the Temple

Chapter 23 Service of the Levites

Chapter 24 Service of the Priests

Chapter 25 Service of the Singers

Chapter 26 Service of the Porters and other Servants

Chapter 27 Captains and Civil Servants

Chapter 28 Presentation of Solomon

Chapter 29 David's Last Words and his Death

III. 2 Chronicles 1-9: Solomon's Reign

Chapter 1 Solomon's Accession to the Throne

Chapter 2-4 Building of the Temple

Chapter 5-7 Inauguration of the Temple

Chapter 8-9 Solomon's Glory and Death

IV. 2 Chronicles 10-36: The Kingdom of Judah until the Exile

Chapter 10-12 Division of the Kingdom and Reign of Rehoboam

Chapter 13 Abijah

Chapter 14-16 Asa

Chapter 17 Jehoshaphat

Chapter 18 Jehoshaphat's Alliance with Ahab

Chapter 19 Jehoshaphat's Juridiction

Chapter 20 Salvation of the Moabites

Chapter 21 Jehoram

Chapter 22 Ahaziah

Chapter 23 Athaliah

Chapter 24 Joash's Zeal and Fall

Chapter 25 Amaziah

Chapter 26 Uzziah (Azariah)

Chapter 27 Jotham

Chapter 28 Ahaz

Chapter 29 Hezekiah cleanses the Temple

Chapter 30 Hezekiah's Passover

Chapter 31 Further Reformations of Hezekiah

Chapter 32 Sennacherib's (King of Assyria) Attack

Chapter 33 Manasseh

Chapter 34 Josiah cleanses the Temple and the Law is Found

Chapter 35 Josiah's Passover

Chapter 36 Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, Zedekiah; Jerusalem destroyed