Coffman Commentaries on the Bible
by Arend Remmers & James Coffman
- Author and Time of Writing
The two books of Chronicles are the very last books of the Hebrew Old Testament. Originally they formed one single book as the books of Samuel and Kings. The division of the books originates from the translation of the Septuagint, which is the Greek version of the OT. From then on the division was taken over into the translations of the Holy Scriptures until finally it was taken over into the Hebrew Bible (firstly by Daniel Bomberg in 1517 AC).
1 Chronicles 3:19 ff; 1 Chronicles 9:1-2 and 2 Chronicles 36:22-23 make it clear that the two books were only written or completed after the Babylonian captivity. As the last verses of 2 Chronicles and the first few verses of the book of Ezra are nearly identical and as the book of Ezra is the historical sequence of Chronicles the Jewish scholars who wrote the Talmud named Ezra as author of the Chronicles. The detailed genealogies at the beginning (chap. 1-9) would also endorse Ezra’s authorship. The genealogies were of great importance for the Jews after the exile (compare Ezra 2:62).
As in most of the OT writings the name of the author is however not mentioned. The priestly character of these books goes well with Ezra who was a priest as well (Ezra 7:1-5; Ezra 7:11). The time of writing would have been around 450 to 400 BC.
Throughout the books a number of historical accounts is mentioned upon which the writer could base his writings (1 Chronicles 5:17; 1 Chronicles 9:1; 1 Chronicles 23:27; 1 Chronicles 27:24; 1 Chronicles 29:29; 2 Chronicles 9:29; 2 Chronicles 12:15; 2 Chronicles 13:22; 2 Chronicles 24:27; 2 Chronicles 26:22; 2 Chronicles 27:7; 2 Chronicles 33:19; 2 Chronicles 35:25). For the reader acknowledging the Bible as God’s inspired Word these circumstances, however, are not that important. More important is the fact that God Himself had the books written in order to admonish us (1 Corinthians 10:6; 1 Corinthians 10:11).
- Purpose of Writing
The books of Chronicles are not a repetition of the books of Kings. God pursued a special purpose with the writings of the Chronicles. We may see this already in the long genealogies of Israel and especially of the house of David, which commences with Adam, the first man. The books of Chronicles give a divine retrospect over Israel’s history and the history of mankind as well as God’s ways with men. One would think of comparing the Chronicles with Deuteronomy, which is no repetition of the preceding books either.
The Chronicles describe especially the kingdom of Judah. The books of Kings describe mostly the northern kingdom of the ten tribes (Israel). The Chronicles only mention Israel when it comes into contact with Judah.
The kingdoms of David and Solomon as well as their successors are the main subject of the Chronicles. Both David and Solomon form a joint picture of Christ as rejected, suffering, glorified and reigning king. Therefore David and Solomon’s trespasses (David’s adultery with Bathsheba and his murdering Uriah and Solomon’s idolatry) are not mentioned. The books of Kings give more moral teachings and stress the human responsibility. The Chronicles however contain more typical teachings in connection with the grace of God.
A further main subject is the erection of the temple. The building of the temple takes up much more space in the Chronicles than in the first book of Kings. In 1 Chron. we see David’s interest for the temple (God’s dwelling-place amidst His people) in chap. 21-29 , and in 2 Chronicles 2; 2 Chronicles 3; 2 Chronicles 4; 2 Chronicles 5; 2 Chronicles 6; 2 Chronicles 7 the building and inauguration of the temple under King Solomon. Later on, the restoration of worship in the temple is mentioned several times (Josiah, Hezekiah). The Chronicles show the spiritual side of life in Judah and therefore bear a priestly character. The books of Kings however bear a prophetic stamp.
As in Kings the soon progressive decline of the people is described. This decline was interrupted in Judah by several revivals of God fearing kings (especially under Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah and Josiah). The description of the history of the people of God ends with Jehovah’s rejection and the deportation of the Jews into Babylonian captivity (around 605 to 586 BC). Babel is a picture of worldly power in a religious cloak (compare Genesis 11 and Revelation 17; Revelation 18).
But at the very end of the two books we find how God awakens the heart of King Cyrus of Persia to induce the Jews to return to Palestine. In this we find again the grace of God!
In addition to the differences between Chronicles and Kings mentioned above we find further remarkable differences in the descriptions of the temple. In 1 Kings 6:5-10 the chambers round about are mentioned which are missing in 2 Chronicles. In 2 Chronicles 3:14 we read of the veil and in 2 Chronicles 4:1 of the altar of brass whereas the author of 1 Kings does not mention either. This fact, and other small details, make it plain that 1 Kings describes the habitation of God and the intimate fellowship of God with His people. Second Chronicles however depicts the place where one can come near to God to worship Him.
- Overview of Contents
I. 1 Chronicles 1-9 : Genealogies
From Adam until Edom
Judah, especially the House of David
The other Ten Tribes of Israel
The Inhabitants of Jerusalem
II. 1 Chronicles 10-29 : David’s Reign
The End of King Saul
King David and his Mighty Men
David’s faithful Followers
David and the Ark of Covenant
David’s Victories over the Philistines
The Ark of Covenant comes to Jerusalem
David’s Desire to build a Temple
The Wars of David
The Census and its Punishment
Preparations for the Building of the Temple
Service of the Levites
Service of the Priests
Service of the Singers
Service of the Porters and other Servants
Captains and Civil Servants
Presentation of Solomon
David’s Last Words and his Death