A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.
About this book
The Books of 1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles record the history of the *Israelites. These books are about the same period of time as the Books of 2 Samuel, 1 Kings and 2 Kings.
1 Chronicles begins with a list of the families of the *Israelites. Then it continues with an account of David’s rule over the united *kingdom called Israel. 2 Chronicles begins with an account of Solomon’s rule. After Solomon’s death, the *kingdom was divided. The author does not include much of the history of the kings in the northern part of Israel. All the northern kings were evil men who were not loyal to God. Instead, the author concentrates on the southern kings, who ruled the region called Judah. Some of them were loyal to God, but there were also many evil kings in Judah. Their evil behaviour brought about the end of that *kingdom.
However, the Books of 1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles are not just a political history. They are also a history of the people’s religion. They record how the people *worshipped God. And especially, the books concentrate on the *worship that happened at the *temple in Jerusalem.
In our Bibles, we have 1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles. They were one book for a long time until there was a translation into the language called Greek. (The name of that translation is the Septuagint.) That was early in the second century *BC. They split the book into two because the length of it would more easily fit on two *scrolls. The old *Hebrew name for the one book was ‘the books of events’ or ‘diaries’. The name of the two books in the Greek language was ‘things that the other books left out.’ Several events here are not in the other history books. That may be the reason for the *Hebrew and Greek names. The other history books are the Books of Samuel and Kings.
A man whose name was Jerome suggested the name Chronicles for the two books. ‘Chronicles’ means a ‘list of events’. Jerome translated the Bible into the language called Latin in the 4th century AD. (‘AD’ means ‘after Christ was born’.) In time, the name of the books became Chronicles.
The last event in the second book is when King Cyrus let the *Jews return to their land (2 Chronicles 36:22-23). The *Jews had been in *exile in Babylon for 70 years. Cyrus made that decision in 538 *BC. The list of the people in the first book includes Zerubbabel (1 Chronicles 3:17-21). He led the *Jews back to *Israel soon after the decision of Cyrus. The book names two of his grandsons, Pelatiah and Jeshaiah. This fact brings the earliest date of the books to about 500 *BC.
The writer mentions the gifts that the leaders gave for the work of the *temple (1 Chronicles 29:7). He talks about gold *darics. The *daric was a coin that did not exist before 515 *BC. So, the date of this book is some time after that date.
The *Jews completed the *Old Testament when Artaxerxes was King of Persia. He died in 424 *BC. As Chronicles was in that *Old Testament, its date is clearly before 424 *BC. The Book of Chronicles usually appears as the last book in the *Hebrew *Old Testament. (The books have a different order in *Hebrew Bibles.)
The Chronicles are like the works of Ezra in style and in words. It is most likely that they are from the same period. Ezra wrote in the 5th century *BC.
We do not know who wrote the Chronicles. The style and the arrangement of the books show that there was a single author.
*Jewish tradition says that Ezra wrote Chronicles. He wrote the Book of Ezra as well. Many Christian experts also believe that Ezra wrote the Chronicles. Some of these experts say that Ezra received help from the *prophets Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.
However, other experts think that Ezra was not the author of the Chronicles. They think that the author was someone unknown, but a lot like Ezra. He shared some interests with Ezra but he had his own distinct (different) interests as well. And he lived during the same period of history as Ezra did.
The Books of Chronicles are history books. But the books are not just about history. The writer seems to be a *Levite. He writes about such things as the *temple, prayer and the *worship of God. He tries to explain what *Israel’s history means. He shows how God was in control of that history.
The writer gives lists of names. He starts with Adam, the first man. Then he makes a list of those people who came from Noah’s family. From them came the nations that the *Jews knew about. He then tells about Jacob, who was called *Israel. He was the *ancestor of all the *Jews. From then on, he gives only lists of all the *tribes of *Israel. But to him the most important are those who came from Judah. The kings came from the *tribe of Judah. Later the author gives lists of people who helped in the *worship of God, and soldiers in David’s army. This is to show how important these jobs were.
The *Israelites had come back to their country after 70 years in *exile. So, the writer wants them to know that all *Israelites are God’s people. He considers *Israel to be the *LORD’s *kingdom. David and Solomon were kings over the *LORD’s *kingdom. Such ideas would give hope to the people who had just returned from *exile. *Israel’s *kingdom would be safe because God was looking after it. In time, God would establish it again.
*Israelites are people who belong to the family of *Israel. The people needed to know that they did belong to *Israel. So, the writer gives the history of the families of *Israel. He starts with Adam and he shows the families of the 12 *tribes up to the *exile. To do this, he used several books that are now in the Bible. And he also used many other ancient records. None of these other records exists now.
One of the most important subjects in these books is the *temple in Jerusalem. The writer shows how David organised the staff to maintain the *temple. He set up the teams of the priests and *Levites who would lead the *worship in the *temple. God did not let David build the *temple. But David prepared the materials for his son to build it. In 2 Chronicles, we read how Solomon built the *temple.