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Books of 1 & 2 Chronicles

Books of 1 & 2 Chronicles
by Timothy Kenney, PhD

Chronicles largely parallels the Davidic narratives in the Books of Samuel and the Books of Kings. For this reason it is called "Supplements" in the Septuagint, where it appears in two parts (1&2 Chronicles), immediately following 1&2 Samuel and 1&2 Kings as a supplement to them. The division of Chronicles and its place in the Christian canon of the Old Testament are based upon the Septuagint.

The author of Chronicles, termed "the Chronicler," may also have written Ezra and Nehemiah. His work is an important source of information about Israel after the Babylonian exile.

The two books of Chronicles, with the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, likely formed a single work that supplemented the material in Samuel and Kings, but they reinterpret the history of Israel from the time of King Saul to the end of the Babylonian exile in 538 B.C. The first book highlights David's reign as the ideal and Temple worship as the center of Jewish life. The second book focuses on King Solomon's achievements, especially the Temple, and what brought about the Babylonian exile.

The historical part of Chronicles covers the same period as the last three chapters in the Books of Kings. Therefore, much of the matter is the same in both. In fact, the two narratives not only agree in the facts they relate, but describe them almost in the same words. The Books of Chronicles also agree with the Books of Kings in plan and general arrangement. But side by side with these agreements there are many differences. The books narrate some events more briefly, or present them in a different manner, and omit others altogether (e.g., the adultery of David, the violation of Thamar, the murder of Amnon, and the rebellion of Absalom), while they dwell more on facts regarding the Temple, its worship and its ministers, furnishing much information on these subjects which is not found in the other books. They also ignore the northern kingdom except where the history of Juda requires mention of it.

A chapter outline appears in the following manner:

  1. Genealogical Tables - 1 Chronicles 1-9:34
  2. The History of David - 1 Chronicles 9:35-29

A narrative summary of the the Book of 1 Chronicles follows.

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I. Genealogical Tables - 1 Chronicles 1-9:34.

The first part of 1 Chronicles contains genealogical and statistical lists, interspersed with short historical notes. It comprises: the genealogy of the patriarchs from Adam to Jacob; the genealogy of the twelve tribes; a list of the families of Juda, Benjamin, and Levi dwelling in Jerusalem after the Exile, with the genealogy of the family of Saul repeated.

II. The History of David - 1 Chronicles 9:35-29.

Chapters 9:35-29 recounts the reign of David. David's reign is preceded by the account of the death of Saul. It is a reign marked by David's military exploits, bringing the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem, and organizing the personnel who will serve in the Temple. Here we find God's promise to David in Chapter 17. Although David does not build the Temple before his death, he gives the plans for the Temple to his son Solomon.

We now turn our attention to the Book of 2 Chronicles.

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