- Subpages: 1 Chronicles 1-9 • 1 Chronicles 10 • 1 Chronicles 11-29 • 2 Chronicles 1-9 • 2 Chronicles 10-36
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Relationship to Old Testament. The relationship of Chronicles to the Old Testament as a whole is discussed at Old Testament: Organization.
Story. First and Second Chronicles are two halves of a single lengthy book. The book of Chronicles consists of five major sections of varying lengths:
- 1 Chronicles 1-9: Genealogies. The first nine chapters cover the three thousand years from Adam down to King Saul. This is done in the form of genealogies with essentially no narrative detail.
- 1 Chronicles 10: Saul. At the end of Saul's reign, Chronicles switches to narrative mode and recounts the death of King Saul and his sons during a battle against the Philistines. This story makes the point that King Saul, who was from the tribe of Benjamin, was unworthy to be king or to found a dynasty because of his unfaithfulness to God.
- 1 Chronicles 11-29: David. Chronicles gives great attention to David during his reign as king over Israel, the first king from the tribe of Judah. The story begins with David's conquest of Jerusalem and unification of the kingdom. It recounts how he brought the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem and prepared to build the temple. While Chronicles acknowledges that David did not always obey God, it also emphasizes that David did consistently recognize and look to God as the only god of Israel.
- 2 Chronicles 1-9: Solomon. Chronicles also gives great attention to Solomon, the other king from the House of David to rule over the united Kingdom of Israel. Attention is given in particular to the construction and dedication of the temple, God's own house, in Jerusalem. Chronicles makes only a passing reference to Solomon's intermarriage with Pharoah's daughter and makes no mention at all of his tolerance of idolatry in later years.
- 2 Chronicles 10-36: Davidic line of Judah. Following the death of Solomon, the united Kingdom of Israel split into two smaller kingdoms, the Northern Kingdom of Israel which seceded from the union, and the Southern Kingdom of Judah which continued to be ruled by the House of David and to host the temple in its capital of Jerusalem. This section covers the reigns of all twenty kings who ruled over the Southern Kingdom up until it was conquered by Babylon.
The narrative portion of Chronicles can be summarized as the history of the first temple that was built by Solomon in 961 BC and destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon almost four hundred years later in 587 BC, and of the House of David which had the care of Solomon's Temple during all of that time.
Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chronicles include:
- Much of Chronicles contains genealogies and rosters of government officials. While some interesting things can be figured out from these lists, simply reading straight through is often regarded as difficult and unrewarding. The mere existence and preservation of these lists makes the point, however, that records do matter.
- The narrative portions of Chronicles do not primarily address personal righteousness, but rather kingly righteousness. When the kings maintains proper relationships at the national level, the entire kingdom prospers. When the king fails to do so, the entire kingdom suffers. A righteous king who maintains the proper relationships is one:
- who relies exclusively upon God for protection in international affairs rather than forming alliances with foreign nations;
- who is descended from King David and who does not befriend or intermarry with foreigners, not even with the idolatrous Northern Kingdom of Israel; and
- who rules from Jerusalem, the home of the temple, who supports priests that officiate properly at the temple and teach the Law of Moses to the people, and who stamps out idolatry throughout the kingdom.
- Chronicles does not appear to be much concerned with other issues relating to righteousness, such as social justice, that receive significant attention in many other books of the Old Testament.
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Story. Chronicles covers thousands of years of history, beginning with Adam and continuing on through to the return of the Jews to Jerusalem in 538 BC. Such a broad treatment of the history of ancient Israel, including Chronicles, is already found at Old Testament: Historical Overview and does not need to be repeated on this page. Because Chronicles covers so much history, a more specific treatment of the historical background for each of the major sections of Chronicles is found on the subpages addressing each of those five major sections.
Origin. Chronicles was probably written after the Babylonian Captivity based on earlier records that were consulted while writing. The period following the Babylonian Captivity through to the New Testament is often known as "Post-Exilic" or "Second Temple" Judaism (because that is when the first Temple of Solomon that had been destroyed by the Babylonians was rebuilt under the Persians as the second Temple of Zerubbabel and then enlarged by Herod). The lessons that Chronicles takes from the history of the Southern Kingdom of Judah reflect concerns that were typical of Second Temple Judaism, namely exclusivity including from the Samaritans, complete rejection of pagan gods, and adherence to the Law of Moses including proper ritual.
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Differences between Chronicles and Samuel-Kings
- Chronicles is about being a good king rather than a good person. Chronicles is about what makes a good or a bad king. Unlike Samuel, it does not talk about what makes a good or a bad person. For example, Chronicles does not even mention David's personal sin in the matter of Bathsheba and Uriah. David's only sin in Chronicles is to number the people, an action taken in his role as king rather than as an individual, and the penalty for that sin is borne by Israel generally, not by David individually.
- Chronicles teaches that a good king is one who observes the three commandments given by Moses to the Israelites in Deut 7:2-5. There Moses told the children of Israel that after arriving in the promised land of Canaan they were to keep three commandments in particular: (1) no foreign alliances; (2) no intermarriage with foreigners; and (3) no tolerance for idolatry in the land. The opening portion of Judges explains that the Israelites were at that time afflicted because they had violated specifically these three commandments (Judg 2:1-5, 11-13, 20-23; 3:5-8). These same three commandments also provide a framework for understanding Chronicles. Chronicles says almost nothing about whether good and bad kings were righteous in their private lives, whether they promoted social justice, or whether they promoted observance of most of the Ten Commandments. What it does say is: (1) whether they relied solely upon God for protection against invasion, or instead befriended and entered into alliances with foreign nations; (2) whether they intermarried with foreigners; and (3) whether they treated the temple with respect, and taught the Law of Moses and sponsored its public observances, or instead tolerated idolatry, or even actively promoted idolatry. It is interesting to note the sequence in which the kings of the Southern Kingdom first violated each of these three commandments. Asa (S-3) was rebuked for entering into a foreign alliance with Syria (2 Chr 16:1-10); his son Jehosaphat (S-4) befriended wicked king Ahab of the Northern Kingdom to the extent of arranging for his heir to marry Ahab's daughter (2 Chr 18:1-3; 19:1-2; 21:6); and his son Jehoram (S-5) promoted the idolatrous Baal worship that his "foreign" wife Athaliah (daughter of Ahab by the Sidonian princess Jezebel) had grown up with in the Northern Kingdom (2 Chr 21:11).
- Chronicles is only about the Southern Kingdom of Judah, not the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Starting with chapter 10, Chronicles addresses the same time period as 2 Samuel and Kings. But Chronicles, unlike Kings, does not address both the Southern Kingdom of Judah and the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Rather, Chronicles is only about the Southern Kingdom. As for the Northern Kingdom, Chronicles treats it like a foreign non-Israelite nation. Chronicles discusses the reigns of all twenty kings of the Southern Kingdom, but it mentions kings of the Northern Kingdom only rarely when they interact with the story of the Southern Kingdom. Assyria's conquest of the Northern Kingdom and carrying away of the Lost Ten Tribes was an earthshaking event in the history of the House of Israel. Kings contains an extended explanation of the cause for that destruction (2 Kgs 17:6-23). But Chronicles does not even mention that disaster. Elijah and Elisha were great prophets who ministered in the Northern Kingdom, and the entire middle third of Kings discusses their ministries. But Chronicles mentions Elijah only once in passing when he writes to a king of the Southern Kingdom (2 Chr 21:12-15). In fact, when Chronicles describes a king of the Southern Kingdom as being particularly wicked, it does so by saying that he walked in the way of the wicked kings of the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
- Different approaches to denouncing idolatry. Kings and Chronicles take opposite approaches to denouncing the idolatry of the Northern Kingdom. The kings of the Northern Kingdom were consistently idolatrous from its inception in 931 BC until its destruction by Assyria two hundred years later in 723 BC. Another hundred years later Babylon conquered and carried away the Southern Kingdom for seventy years during the Babylonian Captivity of 605-539 BC. One result of the Babylonian Captivity was to focus Second Temple Judaism on religious purity, including both no intermarriage with foreigners and no idolatry. Kings, written during the First Temple period before the Babylonian Captivity, explains that the idolatry of the Northern Kingdom is what caused the destruction of an entire Israelite population (2 Kgs 17:6-23). Chronicles, written during the Second Temple period after the Babylonian Captivity, treats the idolatrous Northern Kingdom as though it was not even Israelite (2 Chr 19:1-2).
- If you want the full story about a king, then look also at the reign of his predecessor, which often tells how he came to power.
Outline and page map
This section contains an outline for the entire book. Items in blue or purple text indicate hyperlinked pages that address specific portions of the book. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →
- • Saul and his sons die in battle (10:1-7)
- • men of Jabesh-Gilead retrieve and bury Saul's body (10:8-12)
- • Saul died for disobeying the prophet and inquiring through witchcraft (10:13-14)
- The "S" before each king identifies him as a ruler over the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Each of the twenty kings is numbered in sequential order. The same identifiers are used on the page for Kings.
- ● S-01. Rehoboam (2 Chr 10:1-12:16 / 1 Kgs 12:1-24; 14:21-31)
- ● S-02. Abijah (2 Chr 13:1-22 / 1 Kgs 15:1-8)
- ● S-03. Asa (2 Chr 14:1-16:14 / 1 Kgs 15:9-24)
- ● S-04. Jehosaphat (2 Chr 17:1-20:37 / 1 Kgs 22:1-50)
- ● S-05. Jehoram (or Joram) (2 Chr 21:1-20 / 2 Kgs 8:16-24)
- ● S-06. Ahaziah (2 Chr 22:1-9 / 2 Kgs 8:25-9:29)
- ● S-07. Athaliah (wife of Ahaziah) (2 Chr 22:10-23:21 / 2 Kgs 11:1-16)
- ● S-08. Joash (grandson of Ahaziah) (2 Chr 24:1-27 / 2 Kgs 11:17-12:21)
- ● S-09. Amaziah (2 Chr 25:1-28 / 2 Kgs 14:1-22)
- ● S-10. Uzziah (or Azariah) (2 Chr 26:1-23 / 2 Kgs 15:1-7)
- ● S-11. Jotham (2 Chr 27:1-9 / 2 Kgs 15:32-38)
- ● S-12. Ahaz (2 Chr 28:1-27 / 2 Kgs 16:1-20)
- ● S-13. Hezekiah (2 Chr 29:1-32:33 / 2 Kgs 18:1-20:21)
- ● S-14. Manasseh (2 Chr 33:1-20 / 2 Kgs 21:1-18)
- ● S-15. Amon (2 Chr 33:21-25 / 2 Kgs 21:19-26)
- ● S-16. Josiah (2 Chr 34:1-35:27 / 2 Kgs 22:1-23:30)
- ● S-17. Jehoahaz (2 Chr 36:1-4 / 2 Kgs 23:31-35)
- ● S-18. Jehoiakim (or Eliakim, son of Josiah) (2 Chr 36:5-8 / 2 Kgs 23:36-24:7)
- ● S-19. Jehoiachin (2 Chr 36:9-10 / 2 Kgs 24:8-17)
- ● S-20. Zedekiah (2 Chr 36:11-21 / 24:18-25:21)
- ● Babylonian Captivity and return to Jerusalem under king Cyrus of Persia (2 Chr 36:21-23)
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Prompts for life application
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Prompts for further study
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Translations and Lexicons.
Related passages that interpret or shed light on Genesis
- The Joseph Smith Translation made changes to the following verses in Chronicles. This list is complete:
- 1 Chronicles 10:13 (KJV)
- 1 Chronicles 21:15, 20
- 2 Chronicles 2:3-5, 7-8
- 2 Chronicles 18:20-22
- 2 Chronicles 20:2, 6-7, 11, 17
- 2 Chronicles 22:2
- 2 Chronicles 24:9, 22
- 2 Chronicles 25:18
- 2 Chronicles 34:16
References cited on this page.
- Breneman, Mervin. The New American Commentary, Vol. 10: Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993. (ISBN 0805401105). BS1355.3 .B73 1993.
- Coogan, Michael D. The Oxford History of the Biblical World. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998. (ISBN 0195087070). BS635.2 .094 1998. A standard narrative reference explaining events.
- Wayment, Thomas A., ed. The Complete Joseph Smith Translation of the Old Testament, p. 142-46. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2009. (ISBN 1606411314) BX8630.A2 2009
Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.
- Authorship of Chronicles is traditionally attributed to Ezra, Breneman, New American Commentary, Vol. 10: Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, 32-33, but the "cautious scholarly consensus" is that Chronicles was written later in the Persian period. Coogan, The Oxford History of the Biblical World, 373.
- Wayment, The Complete Joseph Smith Translation of the Old Testament, p. 142-46.