1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles were originally one book. Together with Ezra and Nehemiah, Ezra was the most commonly assumed author of these books by Jewish tradition. One of the reasons why we think Ezra is the writer is because the end of 2 Chronicles (36:23) is exactly the same as the beginning of Ezra (1:2).
Ezra used at lease 12 sources to gather the history of Israel is the kingdom period and compiled into one book.
Same examples of where original sources are:
- Concerning the genealogies: The genealogies recorded in the book of the kings of Israel (1 Chro 9:1)
- Concerning King David: The records of Samuel, the records of Nathan and the records of God (1 Chro 29:29)
- Concerning King Soloman: The records of Nathan, the prophecy of Ahijah, the visions of Iddo (2 Chro 9:29)
The original title in the Hebrew Bible read ‘The annals (events) of the days. The english title Chronicles originated with Jerome’s Latin Vulgate Translation (400AD), which used the fuller title “The Chronicles of the Entire Sacred History.”
The Importance of 1 Chronicles
- All scriptures are profitable (2 Tim 3:16), thought not alike profitable
- Although at casual reading, it appears that much of the contents of 1st and 2nd Chronicles are mentioned in some other books in the bible, especially 1 and 2 Samuel. But if we look closer, some information can only be found on these books, some says over 55 percent of content is the Chronicles are unique.
- Repetition is not necessary redundant, it can be the same information presented in different angles. Paul said: “Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.” (Phi 3:1). Paul had no problem repeating some of his teachings in his epistles. A lot of the history of Jesus in Mark and Luke were already mentioned in Matthew, albeit they reveal more information.
- The genealogy of Jews was extremely important for the Jews in exile when they returned back to Israel. It was used to determine whether a person is from the tribe of Levi, which allows him to serve in the temple.
The Purpose of Chronicles
There were three returns from Babylon to Israel:
- Zerubbabel in Ezra 1-6 (538 BC)
- Ezra in Ezra 7-10 (458 BC)
- Nehemiah in Nehemiah 1-13 (445 BC)
The original intended readers of the Chronicles was for the Jews who had returned from Babylon to the promised land. Although they had returned, but the land has lost its previous glory for the following reasons:
- there was no Hebrew King, but rather a Persian governor (Ezra 5:3)
- there was no security for Jerusalem, so Nehemiah had to rebuild the wall (Neh 1-7)
- there was no temple, so Zerubbabel had to reconstruct a pitiful semblance of the Solomonic temple’s former glory (Ezra 3)
- the Jews no longer dominated the region, but rather were on the defensive (Ezra 4; Neh 4)
- they enjoyed few divine blessings beyond the fact of their return
- God’s divine present no longer resided in Jerusalem, having departed (Ezek 8-11)
The purpose of this book is to remind the Jews of God’s promises and intentions about:
- the land
- the nation
- the Davidic king
- the Levitical priests
- the temple
- true worship
All of this was to remind them of their spiritual heritage during the difficult times they faced, and to encourage them to be faithful to God.
The emphasis of the history books:
- 1 Samuel: King Saul – The Kingdom according to the will of man
- 2 Samuel: King David – The Kingdom according to the will of God
- 1 Kings: Starts with King Solomon, ends with King Ahaziah of the Northern Kingdom
- 2 Kings: Starts with King Ahaziah of the Northern Kingdom, ends with the fall of Jerusalem and the exile into Babylon
There are many similarities between Samuels, Kings and Chronicles.
In broad outline,
1 and 2 Samuel = 1 Chronicles
1 and 2 Kings = 2 Chronicles
The main differences are that:
- 1 Chronicles begins with a lengthy genealogy beginning with Adam but omits the stories of Samuel and Saul (except for Saul’s suicide).
- 2 Chronicles omits entirely the history of the northern kingdom
However Samuel was written by Prophets Samuel (also a Judge and a Priest), Nathan and Gad, thus the emphasis of Samuel is on the authority of God.
Chronicles was written by Ezra, a priest. Thus Chronicles’s emphasis is on worship of God.
Jerusalem is an important topic in 1 Chronicles.
God has revealed to the Israelites through Moses on how to worship Him in the tabernacle while in the wilderness. They did not have a permanent place of worship while they were in the wilderness. Where ever they go, they would move the tabernacle with them and worship in the tabernacle.
However before they enter Canaan, God told them in Deut 12 to “seek the place the LORD your God will choose from among all your tribes to put His Name there for His dwelling.” (Deut 12:5)
God however did not reveal which was His chosen place to anyone, because no one was thinking about God’s dwelling place, until King David came. The bible did not mention how did King David find out that Jerusalem was God chose dwelling place, however the bible did tell us David was the King who conquered Jerusalem from the Jebusite . He brought the ark of testimony to Jerusalem (chapter 15) and made Jerusalem the dwelling place of God.
The following Psalms tell us how important Jerusalem is to the Jews and to God.
[Our feet are standing in your gates, O Jerusalem. Jerusalem is built like a city that is closely compacted together.That is where the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, to praise the name of the LORD according to the statute given to Israel.There the thrones for judgment stand, the thrones of the house of David.Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May those who love you be secure.] (Ps 122:2-6)
[If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget [its skill].May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy] (Ps 137:5-6)
Jerusalem represents the present of God. When the Jews worship idols for generations and didn’t repent, God raised up the Babylonians to conquer the Jews and destroyed Jerusalem. The present of God is not longer in the city.
Although Israel failed, our Lord Jesus succeed. The Lord was crucified on the crossed and the Church of God was born. The church of God is where the present of God is today. It is the real Mt. Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God (Heb 12:22-23).
The purpose of the Church of God is to be the testimony of God to the gentiles world. Just like the purpose of Jerusalem was to be the testimony of God to gentiles nations.