Observation 1, 2 Chronicles

I. NAME OF THE BOOK

A. The name of the book in Hebrew is "the words (events) of the days (years)." This seems to be used in the sense of a chronicle of the years. These same words occur in the title of several books mentioned as written sources in I Kings, 14:19,29; 15:7,23,31; 16:5,14,20,27; 22:46. The phrase itself is used over thirty times in I & II Kings and is usually translated "chronicles."

B. The LXX entitled it "the things omitted (concerning the Kings of Judah)." This implies that Chronicles is to Samuel and Kings what the Gospel of John is to the Synoptic Gospels.

C. Jerome, in his Latin translation the Vulgate, entitled it "Chronicle of the whole sacred history" because its genealogy goes back to Adam and the companion books of Ezra/Nehemiah relate to the Post-Exilic Period.

D. I & II Chronicles were originally one book in Hebrew which was divided by the LXX, as were Samuel and Kings.

 

II. CANONIZATION

A. This is the last book of "the Writings" section of the Hebrew canon. This means it is the last book of the Hebrew Bible.

B. Its position in the Hebrew canon implies:

1. its late composition

2. its summary nature

3. it was seen as an appendix

4. it was accepted in the canon late

C. The LXX placed it after Kings and before Ezra. It is surprising that Ezra/Nehemiah is put before Chronicles, possibly because of the summary nature of Chronicles or that it ends on a positive note.

 

III. GENRE

A. This book is historical narrative but in a special selective theological sense.

B. It removes most of the negative aspects of the reigns of:

1. David

2. Solomon

3. the "godly" Judean Kings:

a. Asa

b. Jehoshophat

c. Uzziah

d. Hezekiah

e. Josiah

 

IV. AUTHORSHIP

A. The Bible is silent on its authorship.

B. Baba Bathra 15a says Ezra wrote the genealogy of Chronicles unto himself. This has been interpreted in two ways:

1. Ezra wrote Chronicles

2. Ezra finished the history started in Chronicles unto his own day

C. Ezra 1:1-4 and II Chronicles 36:22-23 are very similar in Hebrew. Both Young and Harrison say Chronicles was written first. This is partly confirmed by a scribal technique used by Babylonian scribes of linking two works together by means of a "catch-line" or colophon. The technique is not seen in the rabbinical writings. This would imply that Ezra was using Chronicles as a historical introduction to his own work which continued the history of the Jewish people.

D. The author(s) of Chronicles and Ezra/Nehemiah have the same theological interest and perspective:

1. focus on the Temple and priesthood (especially lists of Levites)

2. extensive use of statistical records and genealogies

3. the vocabulary and literary styles are similar 

4. it must be said, they also differ:

a. spell names differently

b. Chronicles focuses on David's royal line while Ezra/Nehemiah focuses on Mosaic Covenant

E. William Albright attributes authorship to Ezra between 428 and 397 b.c. Ezra's reform found in Ezra 7-10 occurred in 458-457 b.c. under Artaxerxes I.

F. Chronicles uses many sources:

1. previously written Scripture:

a. Chronicles uses about half of Samuel and Kings or at least the same sources.

b. I Chronicles seems to know of some OT texts specifically:

(1) Gen. 35:22 – 5:1 (7) Gen. 46:21 – 7:6,12

(2) Gen. 38:7 – 2:3 (8) Gen. 46:24 – 7:13

(3) Gen. 38:30 – 2:4,6 (9) Ruth 4:18-21 – 2:11-13

(4) Gen. 46:10 – 4:24  (10) I Sam. 27:10 – 2:9, 25-26

(5) Gen. 46:11 – 6:16  (11) I Sam. 31:1-6 – 10:1-12 

(6) Gen. 46:13 – 7:1

c. NIV Study Bible's introduction to Chronicles includes as sources:

(1) Pentateuch

(2) Judges

(3) Ruth

(4) I Samuel

(5) Kings

(6) Psalms

(7) Isaiah

(8) Jeremiah

(9) Lamentations

(10) Zechariah

2. written historical documents from the divided kingdom.

a. possibly official court documents:

(1) the chronicles of King David, I Chr. 27:24

(2) the book of the kings of Judah and Israel, II Chr. 16:11; 25:26; 28:26; 32:32

(3) the book of the kings of Israel and Judah, II Chr. 27:7; 35:27; 36:8

(4) the book of the kings of Israel, I Chr. 9:1; II Chr. 20:34

(5) the words of the kings of Israel, II Chr. 24:27; 33:18

b. prophets:

(1) acts of King David, I Chr. 29:29:

(a) Chronicles of Samuel, the seer

(b) Chronicles of Nathan, the prophet

(c) Chronicles of Gad, the seer.

(2) acts of Solomon, II Chr. 9:29:

(a) records of Nathan the prophet

(b) prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite

(3) acts of Jeroboam I in the visions of Iddo the seer, II Chr. 9:29

(4) acts of Rehoboam in II Chr. 12:15:

(a) records of Shemaiah the prophet

(b) Iddo the seer

(5) acts of Abijah in II Chr. 13:22 by Iddo the prophet

(6) acts of Jehu in II Chr. 20: 34 by the son of Hanani

(7) acts of Manasseh in II Chr. 33:19 by Hozai (LXX "the seer")

c. tribal genealogical records:

(1) Simeon, I Chr. 4:33

(2) Gad, I Chr. 5:17

(3) Benjamin, 7:9

(4) Asher, 7:40

(5) All Israel, 9:1

(6) Levitical gatekeepers, 9:22 (implication being each Levitical division also had records [cf. I Chr. 23:1ff; 28:13; II Chr. 35:4]).

d. foreign sources:

(1) Sennacherib's letters, II Chr. 32:17-70

(2) Cyrus' decree, II Chr. 36:22-23

G. Like Ezra-Nehemiah, Chronicles lists the genealogies of several people. Some of these extend into the future after four to six generations. There have been two ways to deal with this:

1. these were editorial additions

2. these are contemporary families, not generations

 

V. DATE

A. There are two texts in Chronicles that imply a period after the return of the Exile for the writing of Chronicles:

1. I Chronicles 3:19-21. This is a list of the descendants of Zerubbabel:

a. some say to the sixth generation

b. others say only to two generations, followed by a list of four Davidic families who were contemporaries of the two descendants of Zerubbabel – Pelatiah and Jeshaiah (Young & Harrison)

c. the LXX extended the list of Zerubbabel's descendants to the eleventh generation (This shows editorial updating)

2. I Chronicles 3:22-24. This is a list of the descendants of Shecaniah mentioned in v. 21:

a. some say the list is to four generations (NIV Study Bible)

b. if this is true then the date of the author (editor) is extended from Zerubbabel's genealogy in 3:19-21

3. II Chronicles 36:22-23:

a. this mentions Cyrus II and his decree which allowed all the conquered people to return home, including the Jews

b. Cyrus II issued his decree in 538 b.c. The first return was undertaken immediately by a Judean prince who was appointed governor, Sheshbazzar. He started to rebuild the Temple but did not finish. Later, under the Persian King, Darius I, others began to return under Zerubbabel of the Davidic line and Joshua a descendant of the High Priest. They did finish rebuilding the Temple in 516 b.c. with the encouragement of Haggai and Zechariah.

B. From the genealogies of the book the date of the compiler seems to be between 500-423 b.c. This terminus date is included because it seems to be the latest historical allusion in the Old Testament. Darius II was crowned about 428 b.c. He is mentioned in Nehemiah 12:22. Also, tradition says that the Old Testament canon was finalized about this time. A good general guess for the date would be 400 b.c.

C. I Chronicles covered the same period as I & II Samuel, however, its genealogies go back to Adam. II Chronicles covers the same period as I & II Kings but extends it, almost until the time of Cyrus II.

 

VI. CORROBORATING THE HISTORICAL SETTING

A. There are some real differences between the historical presentation of Samuel and Kings and that of Chronicles:

1. The numbers in Chronicles are larger (Young, p. 394-400)

a. this is generally true, compare I Chr. 21:5 with II Sam. 24:9

b. often Chronicles has smaller numbers, compare I Kgs. 4:26 with II Chr. 9:29

c. most of the number problems are also found in the LXX translation which means they predate 250 b.c.

d. E. R. Thiele, in his ground breaking book, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, 1954, 1965, explains the differences by:

(1) two dating systems for reigns:

(a) accession year

(b) non-accession year

(2) co-regencies

2. Chronicles accentuates the positive aspects of the Judean kings of the line of David

3. Chronicles omits much of the negative material about David and Solomon. However, as Young points out (pp. 395-398), it also omits almost everything about their private lives, not only the negative but also some of the positive aspects.

4. Chronicles also omits all references to the Northern kingdom. The reason is uncertain. Many assume it was because all the Northern Kings were condemned because of the golden calves set up at Dan and Bethel. The South was considered the only true, faithful Davidic (Messianic) line. 

B. The validity of Chronicles' history tends to be supported:

1. in the genealogical material that is paralleled by:

a. Samuel

b. the Dead Sea Scrolls

c. the LXX

2. when the genealogical material of Chronicles is paralleled in Genesis and Numbers in the Masoretic Text and the Samaritan Pentateuch, its historical validity is supported

 

VII. LITERARY UNITS (context)

A. Brief Outline:

1. Genealogical material from Adam to Saul, I Chr. 1:1-9:44

2. The Reign of David, I Chr. 10:1-29:30

3. The Reign of Solomon, II Chr. 1:1-9:31

4. The reign of other Judean Kings to the Exile and to Cyrus, II Chr. 10:1-36:23

B. For detailed outline see:

1. E. J. Young, An Introduction to the Old Testament, pp. 401-402

2. R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, pp. 1152-1153

3. NIV Study Bible, pp. 581-582

 

VIII. MAIN TRUTHS

A. This is a selective theological history of Judah using but extending the parallel accounts in I & II Samuel and I & II Kings.

B. This was written for a post-exilic community who desperately needed to know that the Covenant God was still their God. The Temple (since there was no king) was the focus of God's renewed Covenant. The Covenant was still conditional on obedience to God's Mosaic stipulations.

C. It primarily focuses on God's promises to David and his son(s) found in II Samuel 7

1. deals exclusively with David's sons and ultimately King Messiah

2. gives a positive account of the reigns of David, Solomon and the "godly" Kings of Judah

3. records the restorations of the Hebrews to Jerusalem by Cyrus II, 36:22-23

4. stresses a future Davidic King (Messiah). One way this was accomplished was through the recording of the "godly" reigns of David, Solomon, and the godly kings of Judah. This Messianic hope is also expressed in Zechariah and Malachi.

D. There is also an emphasis on all of God's people being united. This is seen by the use of the collective term "all Israel" (cf. I Chr. 9:1; 11:1-3,4; 12:38; 16:3; 18:14; 21:1-5; 28:1-8; 29:21, 23,25; II Chr. 1:2; 2:8; 9:30; 10:1,16; 12:1; 18:16; 28:23; 29:24; 30:1,6,25-26; 34:7,9,33).

E. Genealogies are used:

1. like those in Ezra and Nehemiah, to show that the restored Israel is legitimately the Israel of old

2. to summarize the history of the Hebrews back to Adam

 

*Because I & II Chronicles are basically the same events as I & II Samuel and I & II Kings, there will be no terms maps or questions for these two books!