Book of 1 Chronicles : 4235

Book of 2 Chronicles : 4236

The Name

The Chronicles, once a single continuous scroll, and written in chronological order, are so named because of their historical account of the reign of the kings of Judah and Israel. There is no structural reason for dividing the books into two parts; the beginning narrative in book two is a continuation of the kingly line which ends book one with the death of David and begins in book two with the reign of Solomon, David's son and successor. In the Hebrew canon the Chronicles books are listed under the category of the Writings (Heb., kethubim; Gr., hagiographa).

These books have had several names. One of the great commentators writes:

In Hebrew they are denominate … dibrey haiyamim; literally, "The Words of the Days," i.e., the Journals, particularly of the kings of Israel and Judah… The Septuagint (Green OT) has …"of the things that were left omitted" which seems to suggest that these books were a supplement either to Samuel and the books of Kings, or to the whole Bible… . In our English Bible these words termed "Chronicles from the Greek… A History of Times, Kingdoms, States, Religion, etc. with an Account of the most memorable Persons and Transactions of those Times and Nations."

Kings of Israel : 1823

In the Greek OT the word paralipomena is used for Chronicles and means "of the things that were left or omitted."

Authorship and Date

The authorship of the Chronicles books is unknown. Some think that they are the work of different authors. There is internal support for this view in a number of references. The Jews took great care to record their civil, military, and religious transactions, and to ascertain that the men who did the recording were indeed "holy men of God" who wrote "as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2Pe. 1:21). The reign of David was recorded by Samuel, Nathan, and Gad (1Ch. 29:29); the acts of Solomon were written by Nathan, Ahijah, and Iddo (2Ch. 9:29). Some of the acts of Jehoshaphat were written by "Jehu the son of Hanani" (2Ch. 20:34); Isaiah recorded the royal records of Uzziah (2Ch. 26:22), and those of Hezekiah (2Ch. 32:32). references to authors are found in 2Ch. 28:9 and 33:19. Frequently the prophets were closely associated with the kings and had scribal responsibility. However, one commentator concludes that "the uniformity of the style, the connection of the facts, together with the recapitulation and reflections which are often made, prove that they are the work of one … person." Both Jews and Christians have long had the opinion that Ezra was the man who finally organized, edited, and compiled the Chronicles as they appear in the Bible. Some suggest he was assisted by Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.

Divine Inspiration : 1774-1776

Prophets : 2065-2070

Ezra : 1199

Second Chronicles concludes with the reference to Cyrus, the Persian king who conquered the Babylonians and set the Jewish captives free (2Ch. 36:23). Ezra, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi were prominent and active at the time when Cyrus published his emancipation decree included in the Book of Ezra, which follows 2 Chronicles. Some of the terms in these postexilic writings which do not appear in prior writings may have been acquired in exile: e.g., "golden cups" in 1 Chronicles 28:17 and in Ezra 1:10, 8:27 and "a drachma" or drams in 1 Chronicles 29:7; Ezra 2:69; Nehemiah 7:70; "rafts" or floats, 2 Chronicles 2:16 and 1 Kings 5:9. Calmet considers these words as strong evidence that these books were the work of Ezra, which he penned after the captivity.

Haggai : 1475

Malachi : 4261

Captivity of Israel : 1825-1827

Nehemiah : 2577

Ezra returned to Jerusalem in about 457 B.C., and Nehemiah assumed the position of governor in about 444 B.C. The temple had been rebuilt in 520-515 B.C. Then followed a period of extreme Jewish laxity in matters of Mosaic law and indifference to religious obligations. No positive date for the Chronicles books has been determined. All specific dates are at best only suppositions. Ezra may have written the Chronicles at a time of a low spiritual level, possibly the time he went from Babylon to Jerusalem and after the walls were rebuilt, between 450 and 397 B.C. As to the date of the writing, debate continues among the scholars.

Neglect : 1085

Background, Purpose, and Content

It was during this time that Ezra felt a pressing need for a religious revival. To stimulate and challenge the people, Ezra may have been prompted to write a historical homily to remind his readers of their rich heritage and the providential oversight which the Lord Jehovah had provided for them throughout the generations. This may explain why the Chronicles books are historical sketches and not complete history. They may have been written specifically to promote revival.

Revivals : 312-315

The Chronicles books are neither solely a record of events occurring at that time, nor are they a supplement to previous books. The writer relates in them many things which had already occurred, but he also omits some important events in the history of Israel. However, he includes little that is not recorded in other books. Genealogy predominates until the tenth chapter in 1 Chronicles, which begins abruptly with the unsuccessful battle of Saul and his ensuing death. The writer gives many details in the life of David, but he omits reference to David's adultery with Bathsheba and the consequences. Nothing is recorded about the incest of Amnon and his sister Tamar nor of the rebellion of Absalom.

David : 919

Absalom : 16

The purpose of the books was to give the people a partial genealogy from Adam to about 500 B.C. (1Ch. 1-9) and to establish family descent (Ezr. 2:59); to review the Kingdom of David (1Ch. 10-29), and to enumerate the principles of the ideal theocratic state . Second Chronicles 1-9 portrays the glory of Solomon with emphasis on worship in the temple. Second Chronicles 10-36 gives a history of the Southern Kingdom with its "religious reforms and the military victories of Judah's more pious kings."

Sovereignty of God : 3415-3418, 3419, 3420-3421

2Ch. 8:4[Solomon] …built up Tadmor in the desert… (NIV)

Palmyra, known as Tadmor in the Bible, was one of the most impressive cities between the Mediterranean Sea and the Eurphrates River. Even today Palmyra impresses the traveler as the most spectacular ruins of the ancient world. The city is located on the edge of the Syrian desert, about 200 miles northeast of Damascus. It is referred to, even today, as the "City of Palm Trees," because of its mineral springs, fertile soil, walled-in gardens and date palm groves. It was the only significant supply center for the trade caravans traveling from India to Egypt via the coastal highway.

Tadmor : 3544, 4439

Tadmor is referred to in Assyrian text dating to the 19th century B.C. and the Mari Tablets (1100 B.C.). it is possible that Solomon added considerably to the already existing city. Classical writers tell about the great wealth of the caravans passing through. During the reign of Augustus, the first Roman emporer (27 B.C. - A.D. 14), a temple was built to the Babylonian sun-god Marduk (Bel.). Of its 390 original towering columns, only seven still stand. References to this god are found in Isa. 46:1 and Je. 51:44.

Solomon : 3414

Several very powerful Roman emperors succeeded Augustus and today Palmyra's massive and mammoth ruins point their towering columns toward the sky. The modern village stands in the shadow of the ruins of great empires of the past.

2Ch. 32:30 This same Hezekiah also stopped the upper watercourse of Gihon, and brought it straight down to the west side of the city of David. And Hezekiah prospered in all his works.

Near Eastern cities, even when walled, were very vulnerable when their water supply was threatened. Jerusalem, built on a high elevation, gathered some rain water in cisterns but was still dependent on water from outside the walled city. In David's day one of the sources of water was the Gihon Spring outside the city in the Kidron Valley. The threatened invasion by the Assyrian king Sennacherib prompted King Hezekiah of Judah to take protective measure. He put a group of stone cutters to work cutting a tunnel through solid rock from the Gihon Spring to the pool of Siloam. (2Ki. 20:20). He then extended the wall to embrace the end of the tunnel. In 1880 a boy discovered the Siloam inscriptions in the tunnel which told how the stone cutters, working from each end, met on the opposite side. Other water sources around Jerusalem were blocked to deprive the invading force of needed water (2Ch. 32:30). When Sennacherib, King of Assyria, had captured most of the area in Palestine he sent an ultimatum to Hezekiah. Sennacherib bragged that he had conquered forty-six walled cities and had taken 200,000 captives. When Hezekiah saw Sennacherib's 185,000 troops camped on Mt. Scopus, he summoned Isaiah the prophet and together they put on a sackcloth and went to the temple to pray all night (2Ch. 32:1-22). The next morning 185,000 soldiers had been overcome by the angel of the Lord (see commentary on 2Ki. 19:35). Sennacherib made a hasty retreat to Nineveh where his two sons assassinated him (Isa. 36-37).

Jerusalem : 1881-1885

Hezekiah : 1585

Isaiah : 1803

—Thompson Chain Reference Bible Companion