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8. 1 and 2 Chronicles

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First And Second Chronicles1

I. Historical background.

A ray of hope appeared in 560 B.C. with the elevation of Jehoiachin, former king of Israel, by Ewal Marduk, King of Babylon. A brighter ray came in 539 B.C. with the invasion of Babylon by Cyrus who then issued his famous decree allowing captive peoples and religions to return home: “. . . I returned to (these) sacred cities on the other side of the Tigris, the sanctuaries of which have been ruins for a long time, the images which (used) to live therein and established for them permanent sanctuaries. I (also) gathered all their (former) inhabitants and returned (to them) their habitations. Furthermore, I resettled upon the command of Marduk, the great lord, all the gods of Sumer and Akkad whom Nabonidus has brought into Babylon to the anger of the lord of the gods, unharmed, in their (former) chapels, the places which make them happy.”2 Isa 45:1 speaks of Cyrus as the anointed of the Lord. Cyrus had already conquered most of the territory controlled by the Medes and was now conquering that controlled by Babylon.

The band of Jews that returned to the homeland faced a long up‑hill battle. Myers says, “Almost everything detrimental to the purity and vigor of religious devotion is to be found there [in the book of Malachi].”3 The economic situation was most difficult, and many of the returning Jews married into the surrounding peoples. The temple was begun in 536 B.C. but not finished for another twenty years. The golah (exile) was under constant threat from the Samaritans and the Edomites who had moved into the Negev after the defeat of Jerusalem and under pressure from the Arabs. Myers says again, “Strict cult orthodoxy, exclusivism and the support of a more broadly based cult personnel were of the utmost importance if the community was to succeed in its efforts.”4

The Chronicler, writing at least a century after that initial return, is presenting to the Jewish community an outline of the plan of God in history that centers first on David and then the returning community of Jews as the faithful remnant in God’s eternal program. Even the genealogies, beginning with Adam and ending in the golah, are written from the perspective of God’s grace in delivering a people through their apostasy, judgment and restoration.

The Chronicler deals with the faithful remnant and either ignores or speaks judgmentally of northern Israel. As a result, he omits virtually all the history of the northern kingdom, even the great prophetic sections of Elijah and Elisha, because that part of Israel apostatized and were forever judged for their sin.

The Chronicler is aware of the necessity of purity of worship. All the sources from which he is working show both Israel and Judah steeped in idolatrous practice that pulled them away from Yahweh. Consequently, much of the emphasis of this history is on the establishment of proper worship in the temple. Large passages in the Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah and Josiah narratives deal with the keeping of the Passover, the liturgical order of worship, the officers and servants of the temple, and the music and the musicians.

The person of David increasingly becomes a type of the ideal king—the Messiah. Much stress is put on the Davidic genealogy. A large section is devoted to David’s preparation for the temple which Solomon built. The Chronicler continues this emphasis by stressing that Solomon built the temple and developed the services connected with it. It may be that the stress on David as the messianic ideal leads the chronicler to omit portions of David’s life that reflect negatively on him. This was not to suppress the information, (it was already in the public domain through Kings), but simply to use David as a picture of the king God is going to raise up who will fulfill the Davidic ideal.

II. The major sections that differ with Kings, illustrating the Chronicler’s methodology.

A. Genealogies (1 Chronicles 1‑9).

These lists are incomplete and fragmentary. See Keil for a discussion of their emphasis and composition. He says, on the importance of these genealogies:

“The Chronicler’s supposed predilection for genealogical lists arose also from the circumstances of his time. From Ezra ii. 60 ff. we learn that some of the sons of priests who returned with Zerubbabel sought their family registers, but could not find them, and were consequently removed from the priesthood; besides this, the inheritance of the land was bound up with the families of Israel. On this account the family registers had, for those who had returned from the exile, an increased importance, as the means of again obtaining possession of the heritage of their fathers; and perhaps it was the value thus given to the genealogical lists which induced the author of the Chronicle to include in his book all the old registers of this sort which had been received from antiquity.”5

1. Early history from the creation of man to Israel for whom the nation is named (1:1‑54).

a. The line of Adam (1:1‑4).

b. The line of Japheth (1:5‑7).

c. The line of Ham (1:8‑12).

d. The line of Canaan (1:13‑16).

e. The line of Shem (1:17‑27).

f. The line of Abraham (1:28‑34).

g. The line of Esau (1:35‑42).

h. A list of the Edomite kings (1:43‑54).

2. Genealogies from the twelve clans of Israel with the focus on Judah down to David (2:1‑55).

a. A summary of the sons of Israel (2:1‑2).

b. The genealogy from Judah to David (2:3‑17).

c. Alternate lines of Hezron (2:18‑24).

d. The line of Jerahmeel (2:25‑41).

e. The line of Caleb (2:42‑55).

3. The kingly line from David (3:1‑24).

a. David’s immediate family (3:1‑9).

David’s line born in Hebron (3:1‑4).

David’s line born in Jerusalem (3:5‑9).

b. The kingly line to Zedekiah (3:10‑16).

(Athaliah not mentioned.)

c. David’s line in the exilic and post-exilic periods (3:17‑24).

4. Genealogies of the twelve tribes (4:1—8:40).

a. The line of Judah (4:1‑23). (Fourth born.)

b. The line of Simeon (4:24‑43). (Second born.)

c. The line of Reuben (5:1‑10). (First born.)

d. The line of Gad (5:11‑22). (Seventh born.)

e. The line of the half tribe of Manasseh in the east side of the Jordan (5:23‑26). (Son of eleventh born Joseph.)

f. The line of Levi (6:1‑81). (Third born.)

The amount of space devoted to the descendants of Levi, and only three families at that, indicates the emphasis the Chronicler is placing on the Levitical work in the temple.

g. The line of Issachar (7:1‑5). (Ninth born.)

h. The line of Benjamin (7:6‑12). (Twelfth born.)

i. The line of Naphtali and the rest of Manasseh (7:13‑19). (Sixth born.)

j. The line of Ephraim (7:20‑29). (Son of the eleventh born Joseph.)

k. The line of Asher (7:30‑40). (Eighth born.)

l. The line of Benjamin (8:1‑40). (Twelfth born.)

This second (and different) list of Benjamin is placed here because of the importance of the tribe and its first king. The direct ancestry of Saul is given a second time in 9:35‑44. Dan and Zebulon are not even mentioned.

5. The record of the remnant back in the land (9:1‑44).

a. Introduction—the southern kingdom was taken into exile (9:1).

b. A listing of the important people inhabiting Jerusalem in the post-exilic period (9:2‑34). (They are identified with the jobs their predecessors had before the exile.)

Introduction—the people are divided into four groups—Israel (the people), priests, Levites, and the temple servants (9:2).

A list of the important people in the city (9:3‑9).

A list of the important priests in the city (9:10-13).

A list of the important Levites in the city (9:14-16).

The gatekeepers (9:17‑27).

A list of the temple servants in the city (9:28-34.)

The singers (9:33‑34).

c. Saul’s family (9:35‑44).

This list is similar to that in 8:29‑40.

B. The Chronicler’s perspective on Saul (10:1‑14).

1. All of First Samuel is compressed into one chapter.

2. Saul’s death is recorded (10:1‑10).

3. The deed of the Jabesh-gileadites is recorded (10:11‑12).

4. Saul’s rejection and the reason for it are recorded (10:13‑14).

a. He did not carry out the Herem war against Amalek (10:13a).

b. He consulted the witch of En Dor (10:13b‑14).

It was necessary to mention Saul to get him out of the picture and to bring in David, the messianic ideal.

C. The Chronicler’s perspective on David (11:1—29:30).

1. All David’s early years, his seven-year rule at Hebron, and the Ish-bosheth rule in the north are ignored by the Chronicler because he is interested in the established David.

2. David is made king in Hebron by all Israel (11:1‑3).

3. David captures Jebus (11:4‑9).

4. The special soldiers are listed as in Kings (11:10‑47).

5. A list is given of men who joined David at Ziklag before he became king (12:1‑22). (Benjamin, Gad, More Benjamin, Judah, and Manas-seh.)

6. A numbers list of men who joined David at Hebron is given (12:23‑40).

7. David brings up the ark (correctly) and appoints Levites to places of ministry (15:1—16:6).

8. Asaph, et al., write the first Psalm for the new dwelling of the ark (16:7‑36).

9. A list of servants to the ark/tent is given (16:37‑43).

10. Significantly omitted are the accounts of Amnon, Bathsheba, and Absalom.

11. The plague on Israel because of David’s sin in numbering the people is recorded because the site of the temple is determined by the termination of the plague and subsequent sacrifice (21:1—22:1).

12. A long section detailing David’s preparation for the temple (which he was prohibited to build) is given including the recognition of Solomon not only as the temple builder, but also as the next king (22:6‑13; 23:1; 28:5‑10; 29:1), but 29:22b‑25 reflect a later period when Solomon was anointed by Nathan at Gihon (22:1—29:30). (The rebellion of Absalom no doubt took place after the events of Solomon’s recognition as the next king and so overshadowed him that he was bypassed in the attempt of Adonijah to become king. It is also possible that David lived longer than anticipated in 1 Kings 1-2 and established Solomon.)

D. The Chronicler’s perspective on Solomon (2 Chronicles 1‑9).

1. The transitional struggle is omitted by the Chronicler because, as with David, he wants to deal with an “established” Solomon.

2. The construction of the temple is recorded, but there is more in the Kings account than in Chronicles, because this activity of Solomon’s was as important to the prophetic writer of Kings as to the Chronicler (2 Chronicles 1‑7).

a. Solomon is established (1:1‑17).

b. Singers and priests are established (5:11-14).

c. Fire comes down from heaven at the dedication (7:1‑3).

3. The appointment of Jeroboam by God and the promised division of the kingdom is passed over.

4. The Chronicler passes over the fact that Solomon’s pagan wives influenced him away from the Lord (1 Kings 4:29‑34).

E. The divided kingdom to the exile (2 Chron 10:1—36:23).

1. The northern kingdom is passed over as though it had never existed except to note that Jeroboam impiously began the calf cult and whenever the two kingdoms impinge on one another. The movement of the Levites from Israel to Judah is given in Chronicles but not in Kings (11:13‑17).

2. He gives the message of Shemaiah the prophet in the days of Rehoboam when Shishak invaded (11:5‑8).

3. The Chronicler records a scathing message about the rebellion of the northern tribes when Abijah, of Judah, fought Jeroboam (13:1‑20).

4. The Chronicler records more on Asa and his reform and his battle against the Ethiopians (Egypt) (14:2‑15). The message of Azariah the prophet to encourage Asa and Asa’s response is found in 15:1‑19.

5. The Chronicler records a warning against Asa by Hanani and Asa’s wicked response (16:7‑10).

6. The Chronicler devotes four chapters to Jehoshaphat because he was a good king (17:1—21:3).

a. He sent teachers throughout Judah (17:7‑9).

b. The Chronicler records the alliance of Jehoshaphat with Ahab as in 1 Kings 22, but he adds a section of the stinging rebuke of Jehoshaphat by Jehu (19:1‑3).

c. Jehoshaphat extends reform (19:4‑11).

d. Jehoshaphat is delivered from Edom (20:1‑30).

e. Jehoshaphat’s navy sinks before it sails because it was an alliance with the northern kingdom as Eliezer prophesied (20:35‑37). (Cf. 1 Kings 22:47‑49.)

7. Only one chapter is devoted to Joram because he is wicked (21:4‑20).

a. He kills his brothers (21:4).

b. God preserves him because of his covenant with David (21:5‑7).

c. A posthumous letter from Elijah rebukes him for his sinfulness like the house of Ahab. Jehoram was married into the Ahab dynasty. Elijah probably wrote the letter to be sent at the appropriate time (21:8‑15).

8. The Chronicler records the destruction of the last of Ahab’s dynasty (22:1‑12).

a. Ahab’s influence, as Ahaziah’s grandfather, is extended to Judah (22:1‑5).

b. He was killed by Jehu at the Lord’s behest (22:6‑9).

(There is no way to reconcile this statement about the death of Ahaziah with Kings, because of its summary nature. See my notes at the Kings passage.)

9. The Chronicler records the earlier good days of Joash as well as his departure from the faith (22:10—24:27).

a. Jehoiada the priest establishes more offices for the Levites (23:16‑21).

b. The sins of Joash and his stoning of Zechariah are recorded (24:15‑22).

c. The Syrian defeat of Gath and the putting of Judah under tribute are recorded (24:23‑24).

10. The Chronicler records Amaziah’s expedition against Edom as well as other material in Kings (25:1‑28).

a. He hires Israelite mercenaries and is rebuked by a man of God (25:7‑10, 13).

b. b. He worships the gods of the Edomites (25:14‑16).

11. The Chronicler records some additional items about Uzziah’s successes and defeats (26:1‑23).

a. Zechariah the seer apparently influenced Uzziah for a time (26:5).

b. Uzziah had success in building and battles (26:6‑15).

c. The Chronicler gives more details about the way Uzziah contracted leprosy (26:16‑23).

12. The Chronicler records that Jotham was a good king. He also records his victory over the Ammonites (27:1‑9).

13. The Chronicler records more information on the Syro-Ephraimite war and other attacks against Ahaz (28:5‑19).

a. He records a great captivity of Judah (28:5‑8).

b. The captives were released through the intercession of a prophet named Oded (28:9‑15).

c. Judah suffers from other invasions (28:16‑19).

14. The Chronicler devotes four chapters to Hezekiah because he is basically a good king (29:3—32:31).

a. He records in a long section the cleansing of the temple (29:3‑36).

b. Hezekiah celebrates the Passover, even trying to take it north (30:1—31:1).

c. He establishes proper order in the temple services (31:2‑21).

d. He builds the wall and digs the Siloam tunnel in preparation for Sennacherib’s invasion (32:1‑8).

15. Some additional material is recorded about Manasseh (33:11‑20).

a. He is carried captive to Babylon where he repents and is returned to Jerusalem (33:11‑13).

b. He effects some reform and rebuilds walls, but he has already done great spiritual damage (33:14‑20).

16. Not much is said about wicked Amon (33:21‑25).

17. The Chronicler devotes two chapters to perhaps the best of all the southern kings, Josiah (34:1—35:27).

a. He begins to seek the Lord at age 16 (34:3‑7).

b. The Levites are mentioned in connection with the repair of the temple (34:11‑13).

c. The long listing of iconoclastic activity in 2 Kings 23:4‑14 is omitted.

d. The celebration of the Passover is recorded in great detail (35:1‑19).

e. The Chronicler records the Egyptian Pharaoh’s speech telling Josiah not to meddle since the Lord has sent the Pharaoh against the Babylonians (35:21‑25).

18. The Chronicler says that Zedekiah “stiffened his neck” and was carried into captivity (36:13‑16).

F. The closing note in the Chronicler’s account is that Cyrus the Persian in 536 B.C. allowed the Jews to return to their homeland in fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy (This is also the only place where the seventy years are tied into the Sabbath rest of the land. The land had not lain fallow for 490 years which would also help explain Daniel’s 490 years in the future) (36:22‑23).


1For a running comparison of Chronicles and Kings, see Heater, God Rules Among men.

2ANET, p. 316.

3Myers, First Chronicles, p. XXXVII.

4Ibid., p. XXIX.

5Keil, I and II Chronicles, p. 22.

Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines, Teaching the Bible

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