Wednesday, March 16

Book Overview: 1st Chronicles

The Book of Chronicles, which was originally one book and not two separate books, covers the genealogy of King David all the way back to Adam, it deals with the reigns of King Saul and King David, instructions on the Temple, and details the reign of King Solomon. 1st Chronicles contains 29 chapters, and while 1st and 2nd Samuel (as well as 1st and 2nd Kings) concern both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Israel and Judah, the Book of Chronicles only deals with the kingdom of Judah. (Photo credit: 2nd Chronicles 7v14 Ministry)

This is the thirteenth Book Overview in a series of 66 Books. These overviews are written so that it may provide readers with details about the book, things that they may have missed, and will hopefully peak your interest so that you will read the book, the entire Bible in fact, as God wants us to do. Now, onto the Book of 1st Chronicles.
Title: 1st Book of Chronicles (English), Dibh're Hayyamim - דברי הימים (Hebrew), Paralipomenon - Παραλειπομένων (Greek) In the Masoretic Text, it appears as part of the Tanakh, specifically in the Ketuvim. (Meaning, "Writings") However, generally, the Book of Chronicles is split into two books: 1st and 2nd Chronicles. This is because of the order found in the Septuagint. They appear directly after 1st/2nd Samuel and 1st/2nd Kings, rehashing the general points of those four books, a bit like a summary with added details. 

As noted, in Hebrew it is called Divrei Hayyamim (also Dibh're Hayyamim), meaning "the matters [of] the days," based on "sefer divrei ha-yamim le-malkhei Yehudah" as well as "sefer divrei ha-yammim lemalkhei Israel," meaning "book of the days of the kings of Judah" and "book of the days of the kings of Israel," respectively. The Book of Chronicles was originally assumed to be the source material from which the Book of Samuel (1st/2nd Samuel) and the Book of Kings1st/2nd Kings) were composed. In Greek, as aforementioned, Chronicles is called Paralipomenon, meaning, "that which has been left out or left to one side."

There is a Chronicles-Ezra-Nehemiah theory which states that Chronicles contains material that was set aside from the rest of the book of Ezra, which was canonized before Chronicles. Though heavily debated, some scholars believe that Ezra, Nehemiah, and 1st/2nd Chronicles were originally part of one work. It ought to be noted, however, that this view is not held by all, and many scholars believe this is highly improbable.

Authorship/Written: 1st Chronicles was likely written ca. 450-425 BC. Tradition holds that Ezra is the author of both 1st and 2nd Chronicles, though not all scholars agree. Some believe that 1st and 2nd Chronicles were written by the Priestly Order, while others still hold that Ezra wrote it. 2nd Chronicles ends with Cyrus' proclamation that the Jews were able to return to their land. (539 BC) Also, 1st Chronicles 3:17-24 lists six names after Zerubbabel. These names could represent six successive generations proceeding Zerubbabel, covering about 100 years. (525-425 BC) However, it has also been suggested that these names represent the sons of Zerubbabel and not successive generations.

As aforementioned, the Book of Chronicles bears continuity with Ezra and Nehemiah, which were probably written by Ezra. (Although some believe Nehemiah was written by Nehemiah) 2nd Chronicles ends with the same verse which Ezra begins with, and both speak from the same vantage point. Note that the Jewish Talmud ascribes Chronicles to Ezra. Ezra, as the leader of the remnant, was probably a chronicles of the returnees. In 2nd Maccabees 2:13 we read that Nehemiah, the governor, "founded a library and collected books about the kings and prophets and the writings of David..." Now, if this is true, then this indicates that Nehemiah's close associate, Ezra, would have had access to these sources when compiling and composing the Book of Chronicles. There are several sources noted in both 1st and 2nd Chronicles
-The Chronicles of Samuel the Seer (1st Chronicles 29:29)
-The Chronicles of Nathan the Seer (1st Chronicles 29:29)
-The Chronicles of Gad the Seer (1st Chronicles 29:29)
-The History of Nathan the Prophet (2nd Chronicles 9:29)
-The Chronicles of Shemaiah the Prophet and Iddo (2nd Chronicles 12:15)
-The Story of the Prophet Iddo (2nd Chronicles 13:22)
-The Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel (2nd Chronicles 16:11)
-The Chronicles of Jehu, recorded in the book of the kings of Israel (2nd Chronicles 20:34)
-The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel (2nd Chronicles 33:18)

Summary: "1 Chronicles documents the family tree of David, and it summarizes the highlights of the kingdom of Israel's history. 1 Chronicles teaches that God needs to be the center of our lives, and that he is the only way to eternal peace." (Source: NIV)

Overview: 1st Chronicles 1-10 - contains, for the most part, genealogical lists, which conclude with the House of Saul, paving the way for the House of David.
1st Chronicles 11-29 - A History of King David's reign.
1st Chronicles 10 - The Death of Saul
1st Chronicles 11 - David Becomes King
1st Chronicles 13 - Moving the Ark
1st Chronicles 15 - The Ark is brought to Jerusalem
1st Chronicles 17 - God's Promise to David
1st Chronicles 22 - Preparing the Temple
1st Chronicles 29 - Solomon acknowledged as King, David's death

The Genealogy can be split up into the following categories:
  • The primeval period (1a)
  • The patriarchal period (1b-2a)
  • The national period (2b-10)
To break down the book a little farther, we could separate it into four sections: Genealogies, Saul, David, and the Temple. 

Points: As noted by author and apologist Normal L. Geisler, "There are two dominant Christological themes in Chronicles, one more explicit than the other: first, there is the obvious recording of the Davidic kings and their descendants through whom the Messiah was to come (cf. Matt. 1 and Luke 3). Second, there is the less explicit but highly important testimony concerning the typological significance of the Temple as it points to Jesus Christ, who said, 'I tell you, something is greater than the temple is here' (Matt. 12:6). John added of the New Jerusalem, 'And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb' (Rev. 21:22)."

Many Bible readers and students tend to agree that in 1st and 2nd Chronicles they find little to bewilder or attract them. However, we need to bear in mind that if this ever occurs with a Biblical book, when the book seems dry and uninteresting to us, it is merely because we have not found the right key to study it. Here's an example. When I first began reading the Hebrew Bible several years ago, I enjoyed reading Genesis and Exodus, but for the most part, most of it was dry and uninteresting to me. I was more interested in the New Testament. It was even recommended to me that I skip the Hebrew Bible! I did not, however, and read through to Revelation. But when I began studying the Hebrew Bible, it became a lot more interesting to me. Why? It is because I began to study the books in a different light - and now I tend to spend a lot of time in the Hebrew Bible, and understand that without the Old, we would never have the New.

1st Chronicles 1:1-4 is very important: "Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah. The sons of Noah: Shem, Ham, and Japheth." This single verse establishes these people as historical figures. Adam was the first human, whom God created in His image on day six of Creation Week. (Genesis 1:24-2:7) The verse also establishes Noah and his sons as historical figures. Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives  - eight people, along with all of the "kinds" of creatures (not including aquatic life) were saved via the Ark. Noah built the Ark as per God's instructions to escape from the Global Flood. (Genesis 6-9; Isaiah 54:9; Matthew 24:37-39; Luke 17:26; Hebrews 11:7; 1st Peter 3:20; 2nd Peter 2:5, 3:5-7) Though this would be considered textual evidence from centuries later, nevertheless, that does not negate that the authors of the Bible that the Holy Spirit wrote through believed in a literal Genesis 1-11.

There is archaeological evidence supporting 1st Chronicles, as there is with much of the Bible. For example, Saul's head and armor were put into two temples at Beth-Shan. Both the Philistine and the Canaanite temples have been found. The Biblical record was endorsed, even when the endorsement seemed unlikely and criticized by secular scholars. (See 1st Samuel 3:9-10 and 1st Chronicles 10:10)

There are also several non-biblical evidences found only in Chronicles, and have been archaeologically attested. For example, the Egyptian Shistak's campaign which occurred in the late 10th century BC (see 2nd Chronicles 12:2-4), as well as Hezekiah's preparation and safeguarding of Jerusalem's water supply prior to the Assyrian attack in the late 700's BC. (see 2nd Chronicles 32:3-4) While these do not occur in 1st Chronicles, noting that both 1st and 2nd Chronicles are part of a whole denotes that there are certainly historical evidences in the Book of Chronicles as a whole. 

If the author was indeed Ezra, then through Nehemiah he not only had access to the sources mentioned above, but also biblical books. One such example is 1st Chronicles 1-9, which appear to stem directly from the Pentateuch and Joshua, along with other books. There are also several quotations from the Psalms and also recurring references to the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, as well as Ezekiel

It is interesting to note that Satan first appears by name in 1st Chronicles 21:1, "Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel." Satan's first real appearance is in Genesis 3, when he appears to Eve in the body of a serpent and deceived our ancestors, thus having of all creation fall to sin. (cf. Revelation 12:9, 20:2) The next chronological appearance after the Fall of Man would be in Job 1-2, in which Satan and his angels appear before God. But because of the order which 1st Chronicles is found in the Bible, technically, this verse is the first appearance of Satan in name (see entry: "Can Satan Still Enter Heaven?").

The angel of the Lord (whom many believe to be the pre-incarnate appearances of Jesus Christ) appears in 1st Chronicles 21:12, 15, 18, and 30 (see entries: "Who Is The 'Angel of the Lord?'", "The Holy Trinity (Part Two)").

1st Chronicles 17 is parallel to 2nd Samuel 7. In this, God makes a promise to David. Part of the promise is as follows: "He is the one who will build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. I will never take my love away from him, as I took it away from your predecessor. I will set him over my house and my kingdom forever; his throne will be established forever." Compare this to Psalm 2:2-7, Psalm 110:1, Isaiah 9:6-7, Daniel 7:13-15, Revelation 20-22. While it is clear that Solomon, David's son, built the Temple, God is clearly referring to someone greater than Solomon here. "I will establish his throne forever... my son... never take my love away from him... set him over my house and my kingdom forever; his throne will be established forever." This is clearing referring to Jesus Christ, and the future reign.

1st Chronicles is a fascinating historical document. While it tends to focus more on Temple Worship in the second half than the Book of Samuel and the Book of Kings do, it nevertheless provides crucial details regarding the Davidic kingdom and genealogy. King David was the ancestor of both Joseph and Mary, who was the mother of Jesus. Jesus, the Messiah of mankind. David, despite his downfalls, was one of the better kings that Israel had, and, as many interpret prophecy, David will once again be in the royal house - but this time as prince, second to the King: Jesus. This is set to occur during the 1000 year reign of Christ.

Next Book Overview: Book of 2nd Chronicles
Previous Book Overview: Book of 2nd Kings

Geisler, Norman L. A Popular Survey of the Old Testament. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1978. 147-151. Print. 

Various. "Zondervan Handbook To The Bible". Zondervan, 1999. 3rd ed. 308-315. Print.

Kohlenberger III, John R. "Read Through The Bible In a Year." Moody Publishers, 1986. 22-28. Print.

Wilson, Clifford and Ham, Ken. "The New Answers Book 1". 12 ed. Master Books Books, 2006. 311. Print.

Lee, Robert. "The Outlined Bible." London Pickering & Inglis LTD. 1st ed. 13. Print.

Various. "The Oxford Companion to the Bible". Oxford University Press, 1993. 1st ed. 113-116.

"Book of Chronicles." Wikipedia. Wikimedia, 18 Jan 2011. Web. 16 Mar 2011. .

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