Book Summaries

Two books of the OT that record events during the reign of David and his successors, duplicating in part information that already appears in the books of Samuel and Kings. In Hebrew Bibles the two books of Chronicles appear as one continuous work with the single title dibre hayyamim, "events of the days," probably an abbreviation for sepher dibre hayyamim, "book of events of the days," a royal journal of happenings under successive kings. See 2 Ki 14:18, 28; 1 Chr. 27:24; Neh 12:23; etc. In the LXX the title is Paralipomenon, "Omissions," indicating that the book supplied what had been left out in Samuel and Kings. The English title "Chronicles" comes from the Latin Chronicon, the title Jerome used as a fitting translation of the Hebrew title in his Latin translation, the Vulgate. In the Hebrew canon of the OT the book of Chronicles stands as the last book. Its present position following the books of Kings in modern versions, and its division into two books, originated with the Greek translation known as the Septuagint (completed c. 150 b.c.), which was followed by the Latin Vulgate.

An examination of the Hebrew text of Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah shows that the three are closely related in language, style, and general point of view. From this it is reasonable to conclude either that all three were the work of one author or compiler, or that they were written at about the same time by various men who collaborated with one another. Early Jewish tradition attributes the Chronicles to Ezra, and modern scholarship generally assigns Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah to the same author. Internal evidence suggests a priest of the Persian period as the writer, both of which requirements are met by Ezra (Ezr 7:1 ­5). The fact that the opening verses of Ezra repeat the closing verses of Chronicles, almost verbatim, also indicates a close relationship between the two. Use by the writer of Chronicles of the Persian monetary system (1 Chr. 29:7) points to the Persian period as the time of writing. The fact that the genealogy of the royal line of Judah is carried several generations beyond Zerubbabel, who returned to Judea about 536 b.c., suggests that the date of writing could well have been a century or more after the time of Zerubbabel (ch 3:19 ­24). This and other evidence are taken as sufficient grounds for assigning Chronicles to about 400 b.c. The author's frequent reference to numerous other works (1 Chr. 27:24; 29:29; 2 Chr. 9:29; 12:15; 13:22; 20:34; 24:27; 26:22; 32:32; 33:19) suggests that he had access to an excellent source collection and that he made generous use of it, under the guidance of Inspiration.

Essentially, Chronicles is a record of the united kingdom under David and Solomon, and of their successors upon the throne of Judah down to the Babylonian captivity, which is a period of a little more than 4 cent. Considerably more than half of the contents of Chronicles parallels information found in other OT books, especially Samuel and Kings. Nevertheless, in style and emphasis it is clearly an independent work, written from its own distinctive point of view and designed to serve its own particular purpose. With the spiritual lessons of the Captivity vividly in mind, the author sets forth Israel's history as a nation prior to that tragic event in such a way as to show why captivity was inevitable. He stresses the moral and spiritual aspects of the events he records and seeks ever and again to point out that obedience to the revealed will of God brings peace and prosperity, whereas disobedience results in suffering and calamity. He emphasises the fact that the Lord rewards the righteous and punishes evildoers (see 1 Chr. 10:13; 11:9; 21:7; 2 Chr. 13:18; etc.). He assures Israel that she has nothing to fear for the future except as she might forget the lessons taught by her past history.

Chronicles may logically be divided into four parts: (1) Introduction, 1 Chr. 1 to 10; (2) Reign of David, chs 11 to 29; (3) Reign of Solomon, 2 Chr. 1 to 9; (4) Kingdom of Judah to the Captivity, chs 10 to 36. In the Introduction the historian traces, in a few bold strokes, the history of the world from Creation down to the accession of David. This brief sketch is largely genealogical, with emphasis on the royal tribe of Judah and the priestly tribe of Levi. These genealogical tables are interspersed, here and there, with brief biographical and historical items (1 Chr. 4:9, 10, 38 ­43; 5:9, 10, 16 ­26; 6:31, 32, 48, 49, 54 ­81; etc.). With a view to completeness the genealogies are continued on through the time of the united and divided kingdoms, the Captivity, and the Restoration to the time of writing. Nothing is said of Saul's reign except for a brief account of his death in battle, and this only by way of explaining why God rejected him, thus setting the stage for the accession of David.

Nineteen of the 65 chapters in Chronicles--nearly one third--are devoted to the glorious reign of David. David and Solomon together, whose reigns witnessed the golden era of Israelite history, are allotted 28 chapters, or almost half the space. The section covering the reign of David may be further subdivided into 3 parts, the first of which summarises the outstanding events of the period (1 Chr. 11 to 21). Included are the circumstances of his coronation as king over all Israel, his capture of Jerusalem and removal of the capital from Hebron to Jerusalem, the enumeration of his mighty men and army, his transfer of the ark to Jerusalem, the erection of his palace, his wars, and his numbering of the people. The second part of the Davidic section (chs 22:1 to 29:21) deals at length with David's preparations for the erection of the Temple, with his organisation of the service of priests and Levites, and his instructions to Solomon regarding the Temple. The third part of this section (1 Chr. 23:1; 1 Chr. 29:22 ­30) takes up, briefly, the transfer of authority to Solomon by David, and David's death.

The 3rd section, on Solomon (2 Chr. 1 to 9), is devoted chiefly to the construction and dedication of the Temple, with brief mention of Solomon's other public works and enterprises, his devotion to wisdom, and the splendour of his reign.

The 4th section (2 Chr. 10 to 36) covers the period of the divided kingdom, with emphasis on the kingdom of Judah. The history of this period is arranged under the successive reigns, with each ruler from Rehoboam to Zedekiah being accorded space. The revolt of the 10 tribes is covered rather fully, and thereafter major attention is given to the efforts of the reforming kings Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, Hezekiah, and Josiah to bring the nation back to God. This section closes with the 3rd deportation to Babylon and a brief epilogue of Cyrus' edict for the return.

Horn, Siegfried H., Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary, (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association) 1979.