Book of 1 Chronicles


Authorship, date, and background 1 and 2 Chronicles in modern translations were one book in the Hebrew Bible. The name given to Chronicles in the Greek and Latin versions was Paraleipomena, which simply means the record of the things left out of Samuel and Kings. Chronicles was placed at the end of the Writings (Kethubim) in the Hebrew Bible.

The authorship and dating of Chronicles stand together. Ezra, according to Jewish tradition, was the author. This view is held by many conservative scholars today. They have placed the composition of the book (or books) somewhere between 450 and 425 B.C. Chronicles was put together by Ezra after considerable research had been done. Nehemiah, with whom he was associated, was said to have had a large library (2 Maccabees 2:13-15). No doubt Ezra had access to it. In Chronicles there is a list of the various sources used; these included various books of the kings of Judah and Israel. Writings of Samuel the seer, Nathan the prophet, Gad the seer, Ahijah the Shilonite, Iddo the seer, Shemaiah the prophet, Jehu the son of Hanani, Isaiah the prophet, and "The Chronicles of the Seers" were all consulted. Some passages of Chronicles parallel the books of Samuel and Kings.

The Israelis who had come back from Babylon were apparently unaware of their national heritage. A new generation had grown up who were unfamiliar with the land. Jerusalem was in shambles, the Temple had been destroyed, and the religious ceremonies centering around it had not been celebrated for more than half a century. A need existed to unify the people by teaching them something about their former glory and about the work of God in their midst. The purpose was to give the Israelis in the new commonwealth an understanding of their covenant relationship to God, what the theocracy and the monarchy were all about, and to trace for them the beginning of the Davidic line and what followed thereafter.

Characteristics and content Ezra traces the rise of the Hebrew people from Adam and carries it through the exile under Nebuchadnezzar to the return to the land under Cyrus' edit. No doubt he does this to encourage the returnees to appreciate their heritage and to develop a national spirit. This history will give them a sense of belonging, and also show that the God of mighty miracles had been with their ancestors despite the trials and tribulations brought upon them because of disobedience.

The first nine chapters of 1 Chronicles are genealogical tables showing that the Israelis are direct descendants of the first human pair, who are the creation of God. The writer does not describe the reign of Saul. He only records the fact that his reign ended ingloriously because he was unfaithful to God. He did not keep God's commandments and he consulted a medium instead of the Lord. Beginning with Chapter 11, Ezra recounts the life of King David. He leaves out the bad items in David's pilgrimage, such as his adultery with Bath-sheba, the rebellion of his own household, and family affairs, all of which are extensively covered in 2 Samuel 11-20.

The Chornicler speaks of David's major interests as king of the nation, his religious acts such as bringing the ark to Jerusalem, the organization of the priests and Levites, David's covenantal relation with God who promises him an eternal throne, and his gathering of the materials for the construction of the temple, which is to be the responsibility of Solomon.

As the author sets down the incidents of Solomon's reign, he omits his apostasy and idolatry while stressing the good things he did, such as erecting the temple. Following the division of the Solomonic kingdom into the Northern and Southern Kingdoms, nothing is said about the kings of Samaria (Israel) except for those who have a direct connection with affairs involving the kingdom of Judah. He follows the kings of Judah, one by one, devoting the greatest attention to the ones who fear God, keep his law, and promote and teach the law to their people. He stresses over and over again those kings and their acts which contribute to the upbuilding and the preservation of the Jewish theocracy over which God is the head.

The central theme which pervades the story of the Chronicler is the proposition that those who fear God and follow his commandments can expect the blessing and favour of God over all their works. Disobedience brings disaster; obedience brings blessing. This theme is also to be found in the New Testament for the people of God, the church, and the promise of future blessing for an obedient Israel, so many of whom will seek God and his face in the closing days of the present age.