Originally the two books of Chronicles formed, with the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah, a single historical work, uniform in style and basic ideas. The Greek title, paraleipomena, means “things omitted, or passed over (in Samuel and Kings).” The Books of Chronicles, however, are more than a supplement to Samuel and Kings; a comparison of the two histories discloses striking differences in scope and purpose. The Books of Chronicles record in some detail the lengthy span from the reign of Saul to the return from the Exile. Unlike the exact science of history today, wherein factual accuracy and impartiality of judgment are the standards for estimating what is of permanent worth, ancient biblical history, with rare exceptions, was less concerned with reporting in precise detail all the facts of a situation than with explaining the meaning of those facts. Such history was primarily interpretative and, in the Old Testament, its purpose was to disclose the action of the living God in the affairs of men. For this reason we speak of it as “sacred history”; its writer’s first concern was to bring out the divine or supernatural dimension in history.
This is apparent when we examine the primary objective of the Chronicler in compiling his work. In view of the situation which confronted the Jewish people at this time (the end of the fifth century B.C.), the Chronicler realized that Israel’s political greatness was a thing of the past. It would be a people under God, or nothing. Yet Israel’s past held the key to her future. The Chronicler proposed to establish and defend the legitimate claims of the Davidic monarchy in Israel’s history, and to underscore the place of Jerusalem and its divinely established temple worship as the center of religious life for the Jewish community of his day. If Judaism was to survive and prosper, it would have to heed the lessons of the past and devoutly serve Yahweh in the place where he had chosen to dwell, the temple of Jerusalem. From the Chronicler’s point of view, David’s reign was the ideal to which all subsequent rule in Judah must aspire.
The Chronicler was much more interested in David’s religious and cultic influence than in his political power. There is little of royal messianism in his book. He apparently regarded as something of the distant past the prophet Zechariah’s abortive attempt to have the Davidic kingdom reestablished in the time of Zerubbabel at the end of the sixth century B.C. (⇒ Zechariah 6:9-15). He saw David’s primary importance as deriving from the establishment of Jerusalem and its temple as the center of the true worship of the Lord. Furthermore, he presented David as the one who had authorized the elaborate ritual (which, in point of fact, only gradually evolved in the temple built by Zerubbabel) and who had also appointed Levites to supervise the liturgical services there.
There are good reasons for believing that originally the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah formed the last part of a single literary work that began with 1 and 2 Chronicles. Some authors even regard Ezra himself as having been the anonymous Chronicler. In any case, the Chronicler’s Hebrew as well as his religious and political outlook points to c. 400 B.C. as the time of composition of this work.
The Chronicler used sources in writing his history. Besides the canonical Books of Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Joshua and Ruth, and especially the Books of Samuel and Kings, he cites the titles of many other works no longer extant. “The books of the kings of Israel,” or “the books of the kings of Israel and Judah,” “the history of Samuel the seer,” “the history of Nathan the prophet,” “the history of Gad the seer,” “the commentary on the Books of Kings,” are some of the documents mentioned as historical sources.
In addition, the Chronicler’s work contains early preexilic material not found in the Books of Kings. At one time scholars discounted the value of this material, but modern research has shown that, even though the Chronicler may have at times treated the material rather freely, he derived it from authentic and reliable sources.
The principal divisions of 1 Chronicles are as follows:
1 Adam, Seth, Enosh,
Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared,
Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech,
Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
The descendants of Japheth were Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras.
The descendants of Gomer were Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah.
The descendants of Javan were Elishah, Tarshish, the Kittim, and the Rodanim.
The descendants of Ham were Cush, Mesraim, Put, and Canaan.
The descendants of Cush were Seba, Havilah, Sabta, Raama, and Sabteca. The descendants of Raama were Sheba and Dedan.
Cush became the father of Nimrod, who was the first to be a conqueror on the earth.
Mesraim became the father of the Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim,
Pathrusim, Casluhim, and Caphtorim, from whom the Philistines sprang.
Canaan became the father of Sidon, his first-born, and Heth,
and the Jebusite, the Amorite, the Girgashite,
the Hivite, the Arkite, the Sinite,
the Arvadite, the Zemarite, and the Hamathite.
The descendants of Shem were Elam, Asshur, Arpachshad, Lud, and Aram. The descendants of Aram were Uz, Hul, Gether, and Mash.
Arpachshad became the father of Shelah, and Shelah became the father of Eber.
Two sons were born to Eber; the first was named Peleg (for in his time the world was divided), and his brother was Joktan.
Joktan became the father of Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah,
Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah,
Ebal, Abimael, Sheba,
Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab; all these were the sons of Joktan.
Shem, Arpachshad, Shelah,
Eber, Peleg, Reu,
Serug, Nahor, Terah,
Abram, who was Abraham.
The sons of Abraham were Isaac and Ishmael.
These were their descendants:Nebaioth, the first-born of Ishmael, then Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam,
Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadad, Tema,
Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah. These were the descendants of Ishmael.
The descendants of Keturah, Abraham’s concubine: she bore Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. The sons of Jokshan were Sheba and Dedan.
The descendants of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida, and Eldaah. All these were the descendants of Keturah.
Abraham became the father of Isaac. The sons of Isaac were Esau and Israel.
The sons of Esau were Eliphaz, Reuel, Jeush, Jalam, and Korah.
The sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zephi, Gatam, Kenaz, (Timna,) and Amalek.
The sons of Reuel were Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah.
2 The descendants of Seir were Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, Dishon, Ezer, and Dishan.
The sons of Lotan were Hori and Homam; Timna was the sister of Lotan.
The sons of Shobal were Alian, Manahath, Ebal, Shephi, and Onam. The sons of Zibeon were Aiah and Anah.
The sons of Anah: Dishon. The sons of Dishon were Hemdan, Eshban, Ithran, and Cheran.
The sons of Ezer were Bilhan, Zaavan, and Jaakan. The sons of Dishan were Uz and Aran.
The kings who reigned in the land of Edom before they had Israelite kings were the following: Bela, son of Beor, the name of whose city was Dinhabah.
When Bela died, Jobab, son of Zerah, from Bozrah, succeeded him.
When Jobab died, Husham, from the land of the Temanites, succeeded him.
Husham died and Hadad, son of Bedad, succeeded him. He overthrew the Midianites on the Moabite plateau, and the name of his city was Avith.
Hadad died and Samlah of Masrekah succeeded him.
Samlah died and Shaul from Rehoboth-han-nahar succeeded him.
When Shaul died, Baal-hanan, son of Achbor, succeeded him.
Baalhanan died and Hadad succeeded him. The name of his city was Pai, and his wife’s name was Mehetabel. She was the daughter of Matred, who was the daughter of Mezahab.
After Hadad died. . . .These were the chiefs of Edom: the chiefs of Timna, Aliah, Jetheth,
Oholibamah, Elah, Pinon,
Kenaz, Teman, Mibzar,
Magdiel, and Iram were the chiefs of Edom.
1 [⇒ 1:1-⇒ 9:34] The Chronicler set as his task the retelling, from his particular viewpoint, of the story of God’s people from the beginning to his own day. Since his primary interest was the history of David and the Davidic dynasty of Judah, he presents through mere genealogical lists a summary of what preceded the reign of Saul, David’s predecessor in the kingdom. The sources for these genealogies are mostly the canonical Hebrew Scriptures that were already in their present form in his time. The cross references in this book indicate in each case the scriptural sources used.