Chronicles

Introduction

1. Name

The Hebrew name of the books is “events of the days.” This same phrase is often used in the Bible to describe official histories quoted by the biblical historians (1 Ki. 14:19). By the use of genealogies, Chronicles, like Matthew, covers all of human history from creation to the author’s day.

The practice of calling the books “Chronicles” stems from a quote by Jerome who said that the books contained “the chronicle of the whole of sacred history.” The name which the Septuagint gave to the books meant “things left out” indicating that material in 1 & 2 Chronicles supplements 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings. This title, though, has led to low views of its usefulness and subsequent neglect by the church.

The view of 1 & 2 Chronicles that it consists merely of “things left out,” however, does an injustice to the work. It ignores the obvious fact, for example, that 1 & 2 Chronicles contains much material quoted almost verbatim from 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings, and it does not take into account the very important task of selectivity involved in compiling, arranging, and supplementing the sources. The title does show, however, that the books retrace and supplement the path trod by earlier biblical books.[footnote]D M Howard, An Introduction to the Old Testament Historical Books (Chicago: Moody Press, 1993), Electronic Edition.[/footnote]

Another explanation of the church’s neglect is that, since the books are among the latest books in the Old Testament, and the author/compiler lived at a time some distance from the events he narrated, critical scholarship has attacked their historicity.

2. Theme

The hope of Israel lies in the restoration of the David monarchy, the renewal of the Temple, the reunification of the people and reformation according to Mosaic law.

3. Purpose

To direct the restoration of the kingdom after the exile, with special emphases on the unity of Israel, the king, the temple and immediate blessings and curses.[footnote]Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003), 595.[/footnote]

4. Key verses

And it shall come to pass, when thy days be expired that thou must go to be with thy fathers, that I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build me an house, and I will stablish his throne for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son: and I will not take my mercy away from him, as I took it from him that was before thee: But I will settle him in mine house and in my kingdom for ever: and his throne shall be established for evermore (1 Chron. 17:11–14).

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land (2 Chr. 7:14).

5. Key truths

• The united kingdoms of David and Solomon provide models for God’s people as they seek His blessings.
• The fate of each generation of Israel was determined by its adherence to God’s ideals for kingship, the temple and the unity of God’s people.
• Future generations of God’s people must learn from Israel’s history the priorities and patterns of faithfulness expected of them.[footnote]Ibid., 595.[/footnote]

I. Author

See Lecture 7 for general comments on authorship of the Chronistic History. We noted in that lecture that the Chronistic History consists of Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah. It is the third major family of Old Testament narratives (following the Pentateuch and the Deuteronomistic history). There, we concluded that the balance of evidence was against the books being originally a single work, but that the books may well have had a single author.

A. Ezra’s Authorship

Jewish tradition goes further and assigns the scribe Ezra a dominant role in the authorship of all three books in the Chronistic history.

There is a very clear resemblance in style and language between the two books of Chronicles and those of Ezra and Nehemiah. The contents suggest a priestly authorship: emphasis on genealogies, the temple, the priesthood, obedience to the law of God, and the Davidic line from Judah. Consequently 1 and 2 Chronicles are generally credited to Ezra the priest, who was a skilled scholar and teacher of the Jewish Law (Ezra 7:6). The author functioned like a research historian drawing on a considerable range of material.[footnote]G Crossley, The Old Testament Explained and Applied (England: Evangelical Press, 2002), 349.[/footnote]

Evangelicals have also tended to support single authorship by Ezra. The reasons for this are:

1. The book was composed after Israel’s exile in Babylon and close to the dates for Ezra’s ministry.

2. Chronicles and Ezra have linguistic and theological similarities.

3. The author had wide knowledge of scriptural documents and historical sources from which he quoted frequently. He frequently quoted from Samuel-Kings at length and he makes use of a number of other biblical books (portions of the Pentateuch, Judges, Ruth, Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Zechariah) and several unknown royal sources (eg. 1 Chr. 27:24; 1 Chr. 29:29).

4. As the leader of the spiritual revival among the returnees Ezra would have had a strong incentive to produce a historical survey like this.

As a Levite from the priestly line, his viewpoint would have been in perfect agreement with that of the author of this work, and he would be very apt to lay the stress just where the Chronicler has.[footnote]G L Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Chicago: Moody Press, 1998), Electronic Edition.[/footnote]

Our conclusions regarding single authorship in Lecture 21 hold true for Ezra’s authorship. This is summed up by Richard Pratt:

The traditional viewpoint remains hypothetical. No doubt Ezra’s ministry was in harmony with the teachings of Chronicles. He may even have contributed in some way to the composition of the book. Still, neither historical nor Scriptural evidences indicate conclusively that Ezra was the author of Chronicles. As a result, most modern interpreters simply refer to the author as “the Chronicler.”[footnote]Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003), 595.[/footnote]

B. Ezra’s Sources

The Chronicler mentions 32 different sources which he used for his work, although he does not mention the two biblical sources most used – Samuel and Kings. The sources may be divided into three

1. Official annals: eg. The book of the annals of King David (1 Chron. 27:24).

2. Genealogical records: eg. Genealogical records of Simeon (1 Chron. 4:33), Gad (1 Chron. 5:17).

3. Prophetic records: eg. Records of Samuel the seer (1 Chron. 29:29)

One significant factor is that when the Chronicler referred to sources also mentioned in Kings, he modified the name of the annals to include the name “Israel.”

The inclusion of Israel in the Chronicler’s scheme is an important theme in the work, usually noted by scholars on other grounds (see below). This inclusion of Israel even in the source citation formulas serves to make the point even more strongly.[footnote]D M Howard, An Introduction to the Old Testament Historical Books (Chicago: Moody Press, 1993), Electronic Edition.[/footnote]

 

II. Date

Earliest date: The last verses of Chronicles record Cyrus’s edict to free the Israelites from Babylon in 538/9 BC and thus indicate the earliest possible date for final composition (2 Chr. 36:21-23).
Latest date: One indicator of the latest date is that there is no Greek language influence on the Hebrew. This would suggest that it was written before Alexander the Great’s invasion of Palestine in 330BC. A postexilic date is underscored by the mention of the six generations following Zerubbabel (1 Chr. 3:17–21) and of the Persian coins known as “darics” (1 Chr. 29:7). The Zerubbabel genealogy and the Persian coinage have been used by critical scholars to argue for a post-Ezra date.
It has been argued that if Zerubbabel is dated about 520 BC and we allow twenty years to a generation, this brings us to at least 400 BC and so beyond reasonable dates for Ezra’s authorship. However this misreads the genealogy in 1 Chron. 3:19-24.

The genealogy is carried on to Pelatiah and Jesaiah, grandsons of Zerubbabel. Then (in 1 Chron. 3:21b) follows the mention of four families which were probably contemporaries of Pelatiah and Jesaiah and were somehow related to the Davidic line. But, what in this connection is of importance to observe, they do not carry on the line of Zerubbabel for four generations.[footnote]E J Young, An Introduction to the Old Testament (London: Tyndale Press, 1953), 383.[/footnote]

The six generations following Zerubbabel need not force us to share the view of liberal scholars that this points to such a late date as to make Ezra’s authorship impossible. However, the genealogies in Chronicles do not always give a straight series of successive generations from father to son, but may also include sons born after the parent previously named.[footnote]G L Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Chicago: Moody Press, 1998), Electronic Edition.[/footnote]

Regarding the Persian coinage in 1 Chron. 29:7, it is said that the daric was named after Darius I who died in 486 BC. The coin is believed to have been minted after 515 BC. This still leaves plenty of time for it to be in circulation within the time limits of Ezra’s life and writing.
While a specific date cannot be fixed for the final composition of Chronicles the purpose of the book (as we shall see) would suggest sometime between the days of Zerubbabel (536 BC) and the ministries of Ezra and Nehemiah (458 BC.).
 

III. Historical Analysis

1. Chronology

539/8      Return from exile
536         Altar and temple foundation built
520         Haggai and Zechariah
515         Temple completed
458-430  Ezra and Nehemiah
330         Alexander the Great

2. Historical Context

The first book of Chronicles opens with a genealogy which goes right back to Adam. The second book ends with Cyrus’s decree of 538 BC releasing the Jews from their exile in Babylon. The books of Chronicles, then, cover a longer time frame than any other historical book in the Old Testament. The main narrative begins with Saul and David in the 11th Century BC.

3. Historical Method

The Chronicler wrote an accurate history of Israel up to that point, and his careful use of various written sources also highlights his historical methodology. The accuracy of Chronicles has been called into question especially in the area of numbering of armies. In 1 Chr. 21:5 we Israel had 1,100,000 men and Judah 470,000, whereas in 2 Sam. 24:9 Israel had but 800,000 and Judah 500,000. Although the numbers in Chronicles seem high, they are not always higher than the same figures in Samuel and Kings. In some cases the numbers in Chronicles are actually lower. The differences are likely due to different methods of notation and counting. E J Young makes the following point in connection with the numbering of opposing armies in 2 Chron. 14:8.

It should be noted that the numbers given are round numbers, apparently representing only approximate estimates. Only thousands are taken into account, and the intention, apparently, is merely to indicate the greatness of the armies. Thus, when Zerah’s great host (II Chr. 14:8) is said to consist of thousand thousands (‘eleph ‘alaphim), the text does not mean that he had precisely a million men in his army. This would surely be strange in comparison with only 300 chariots. Rather, the text means that Zerah had a vast army. The LXX interprets correctly “in thousand thousands.”[footnote]E J Young, An Introduction to the Old Testament (London: Tyndale Press, 1953), 389.[/footnote]

The Chronicler was a statistician and historian and would have known that to artificially inflate figures would lose him all credibility.

3. Historical Purpose

The Chronicler began his history with an account of the people who belonged in the restored nation, tracing the background of Israel and the extent of the tribes and the families among the early returnees. He then presented an idealized account of the reigns of David and Solomon, who ruled over all the tribes and dedicated themselves to temple construction. The Chronicler continued by showing how Judah’s prosperity and trouble was determined by the nation’s trust in God, obedience, and commitment to the temple. Finally, he traced the kingdom reunited under Hezekiah as it moved toward exile and finally returned to the land of Israel.

The purpose of these two volumes is to review the history of Israel from the dawn of the human race to the Babylonian captivity and Cyrus’s edict of restoration. This review is composed with a very definite purpose in mind, to remind the Jews of the Second Commonwealth of their great spiritual heritage and foster a deeper appreciation of the divinely ordained foundations of their theocracy as the covenant people of Jehovah. This historian’s purpose is to show that the true glory of the Hebrew nation was found in its covenant relationship to God, as safeguarded by the prescribed forms of worship in the temple and administered by the divinely ordained priesthood and the divinely authorized dynasty of David. Always the emphasis is upon that which is sound and valid in Israel’s past, as furnishing a reliable basis for the task of national reconstruction which lay before them. Great stress is placed upon the rich heritage of Israel and its unbroken connection with the patriarchal beginnings (hence the prominence accorded to genealogical lists).[footnote]Archer, G. L. 1998, c1994. A survey of Old Testament introduction ([3rd. ed.].) . Moody Press: Chicago[/footnote]

 

IV. Literary Analysis

1. Comparative Outlines

Pawson Unger Pratt Murray

The Godly King

Adam to Saul
(1 Chron. 1-9)
The first king of Israel

David and the ark (1 Chron. 10-29)
The best king of Israel

The Godly Kings

Solomon and the Temple (2 Chron. 1-9)
The last king of Israel

Jeroboam to Zedekiah (2 Chron. 10-36)
Best kings of Judah
Last king of Judah

Genealogies from Adam to David
(1 Chron. 1:1-9:44)

History of King David
(1 Chron.10:1-29:30)

History of King Solomon
(2 Chron. 1:1-9:31)

History of the Kings of Judah, (2 Chron. 10:1-36:23)

Identity, Privileges, Responsibilities of God’s People
(1 Chron. 1:1-9:34)

United Kingdom
(1 Chron. 9:35-2 Chron. 9:31)

Divided Kingdom
(2 Chron. 10:1-28:27)

Reunited Kingdom
(2 Chron. 29:1-36:23)

People and Politics:
The Ideal
(1 Chron. 1-2 Chron. 9)

People and Politics:
The Reality and the Hope
(2 Chron. 10-36)

2. Original Message

We may arrive at the original message by comparing Samuel and Kings with Chronicles:

Samuel/Kings Chronicles
Covers 500 yrs and finishes in exile
Written soon after events described
Political history
Prophetic viewpoint
Emphasis on the throne
North/South kings
Human failings
Royal vices
Negative view of kings
Moral – righteousness
Exposing guilt
Indictment of the nation
More biographical
Starts earlier and finishes later (return from exile)
Written long after events described
Religious history
Priestly viewpoint
Emphasis on the temple
All Southern Kings (no northern kings)
Divine faithfulness
Royal virtues
Positive view of kings
Spiritual – ritual
Encouraging loyalty
Incitement of the nation
More statistical

Chronicles leaves out Samuel and most of Saul’s life in order to show kings in better light. Also left out are David’s struggles, his many wives, Bathsheba, and Absalom’s rebellion. Lots of space is given to good kings (Josiah and Hezekiah) but hardly any to bad. The Chronicler is overwhelmingly concerned with the king’s attitude to the ark and temple. The books end with Cyrus’ edict to rebuild the temple. These tabulated contrasts should give us clear clues as to the original message of the books.

The Chronicler lives at a later time than the writer of Kings. The needs of his audience are different. The restoration community is not so much looking to the past and asking, “How could this have happened?” but rather is looking to the future and asking, “Has God ended his covenant with Israel?” “Are we still the people of God?” “Is God still interested in us?” “What do God’s promises to Israel, Jerusalem, and David before the Exile have to do with us who live after?” “What place do the temple and throne have?” “How do we secure God’s blessing?” So the Chronicler’s history addresses a different set of questions than those that influenced Kings.

Chronicles was written to encourage the dispirited Judahites after exile. They had returned but the promised Messiah had not, and they were facing opposition both from within and without. These books reminded the people of their glorious heritage in the Davidic dynasty, the temple and their covenant with God. The history taught the returnees that they had to keep covenant, repent of their sins (2 Ch. 7:14), and keep the throne and temple central in their thoughts and hearts.

3. Characterization

The Chronicler places each royal figure in one of three basic character categories. Firstly there are the kings who are portrayed in a dark light: Jehoram, Ahaziah, Ahaz, Amon, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah. Secondly there are mixed portraits which display both negative and positive elements: Rehoboam, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, Amaziah, Uzziah and Manasseh. Thirdly there are the largely positive portraits of David, Solomon, Abijah, Jotham, Josiah, Hezekiah.

4. The Chronicler as a commentator

Some scholars argue that Chronicles should not be regarded as a new independent work but as a commentary or exegesis of earlier Scripture.

The chronicler produced what we may call the first commentary on the Scriptures…He used the bib-lical sources (especially Samuel and Kings) to show that God was still at work among his people.[footnote]B Arnold and B Beyer, Encountering the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999), 253.[/footnote]

This does help us to understand the books better. However, we must remember that the Chronicler also adds a lot of material to his sources (eg: 1 Chron. 22-29).

The books of Chronicles are wonderful. They possess a richness of texture and an exegetical challenge that surpasses that of most OT historical books. Part of their richness derives from the fact that they parallel other biblical books so closely: fully 50 percent of 1 & 2 Chronicles is the same material as found in 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings. However, most of that richness lies in the other 50 percent, partly because of its content and partly because of the ways in which the author has added to and deleted material from his sources. Coming at the end of the OT period, these books contain deposits of almost every theological idea that has been developed in all the previous books. Concerning their content, Simon DeVries has a similar verdict: “I [now] regard Chronicles as one of the richest mines of spirituality in all of Scripture.”[footnote]D M Howard, An Introduction to the Old Testament Historical Books (Chicago: Moody Press, 1993), Electronic Edition.[/footnote]

5. Canonical Context

In the Septuagint, Chronicles came after Kings, and that is the arrangement which has been followed in the English versions. In the Hebrew canon, however, the two books of Chronicles are counted as one and they stand at the end of “The Writings” becoming the last books in the Hebrew Bible. They even come after Ezra and Nehemiah which reverses the chronological order. Some have argued that this reflects the earlier canonization of Ezra/Nehemiah. Others have argued that it’s position recapitulates the whole biblical story up to that point, from Genesis to the return from exile.

In either case, the OT canon ends on a generally upbeat note, much more appropriate for ending the OT than the sometimes tortuous specifics of failures and reforms seen in Ezra and Nehemiah.[footnote]Ibid., Electronic Edition.[/footnote]

Since the Books of Chronicles probably represent the latest composition within the OT, this placement may be justified on historical grounds alone. Yet the shape of the canon seems to have been theologically ordered, and the similarity between Genesis and Chronicles has often been commented upon. Like Genesis, Chronicles begins with creation, tracing the human race from Adam before narrowing the divine choice, at the beginning of the second chapter, down to Jacob (Israel). Both Genesis and Chronicles end with a prospect of redemption and a prophecy of a return to the land. Moreover, Chronicles neatly summarizes the theology of the canon, ending its account at the exile, but maintaining an open-ended attitude to the future.[footnote]W J Dumbrell, The Faith of Israel (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002), 323.[/footnote]

The reverse order may have been deliberate, in order to end the Old Testament on a positive note (the exile-ending edict of Cyrus, 2 Chr. 36:22-23). The canonizers of the Hebrew Bible may have been encouraging the readers to experience freedom from their personal exile.[footnote]B Arnold and B Beyer, Encountering the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999), 254.[/footnote]

 

V. Thematic Analysis

In Lecture 7 we noted the historical theological and literary unity of the Chronistic history. We also considered the themes which united the books of the Chronistic History. We will, therefore, consider how each book relates to these themes.

1. Restoration of the Davidic Throne

The figure of David dominates 1 & 2 Chronicles. David and his dynasty are the central theme. This has been called the heartbeat of all the Chronicler’s theology. They were a royal people under a royal king.

The Chronicler focuses his attention on the promises of the Davidic covenant. This is clear from the beginning as the genealogies of 1 Chronicles 1-9 place a disproportionate emphasis on the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. Thereafter the focus is on David and Solomon

From the time of David onwards, the Chronicler omits all that is not strictly connected with the Davidic dynasty. David and Solomon’s sins are also omitted because they did not help build the theocracy. The Northern kingdom is largely ignored because of their separation from Judah and the Jerusalem temple. The North is only mentioned as it interacts with Judah. The focus is on the South, especially Jerusalem, and specifically the Temple. He therefore puts stress on the kings who opposed idolatry: Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah and Josiah.

The Chronicler’s idealistic depiction of the Davidic kings implies that he saw the Davidic dynasty with an eschatological outlook

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the Chronicler saw the Davidic dynasty as a perpetual one, given the consistent descriptions of it as “forever.” Second, several references equate the earthly throne with God’s throne: (1) Second Chronicles 13:8, which refers to “the kingdom of the Lord in the hands of the sons of David,” is a very important reference, since it asserts that God’s kingdom—about which there is no question as to its permanence—is now expressed on earth via the Davidic dynasty in Israel. The permanence of the latter is indicated in verse 5 , with the reference to the covenant of salt, which was an eternal covenant (see also Num. 18:19). (2) First Chronicles 28:5 mentions a similar idea, that of Solomon sitting on “the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel.” (3) First Chronicles 29:23 also states this thought: “Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord as king in place of his father David.”[footnote]Howard, D. M., Jr. 1993. An introduction to the Old Testament Historical Books . Moody Press: Chicago[/footnote]

The chronicler’s concern with royal figures in Israel’s past displayed his convictions concerning Israel’s future. He had not given up hope in the institution of kingship. He was a royalist, propagating the importance of Jerusalem’s throne to the postexilic community. He looked at Israel’s future as he viewed her past. The nation’s fate rested on the reestablishment of Jerusalem’s dynasty.[footnote]L Ryken and T Longman III (Editors), The Complete Literary Guide to the Bible (Grand Rapids; Zondervan, 1993), 199-200.[/footnote]

2. Renewal of the Temple

God organized His people around the Davidic throne and the Jerusalem temple. These political and religious structures were fundamental to the life of Israel, apart from which the full restoration of the kingdom could not take place. The Chronicler centers his narrative round these two institutions. The Temple symbolized God’s presence with His people. The modeling of it after the Tabernacle which is also a symbol of God’s presence confirms this. It was the place where He set His name (2 Chron. 6:10–11,20). The ark was the specific place where God dwelt and met with his people and represented continuity between the post-exilic community, the pre-exilic community and even the Israel of the Pentateuch. Because of its importance, a large part of Chronicles (ch 21-29) is devoted to David’s preparations for the temple building. The same is true for Solomon in 2 Chronicles 2-7, and all later kings succeed or fail in so far as they regard the Temple and its religious services. This theme is even evident in the genealogies where special attention is given to the tribe of Levi. The mention of temple musicians and singers also shows a concern for religious institutions as essential for preserving the theocracy.

All of the good kings in Judah are commended for their activities in purging the land of idolatry and re-instituting true worship in some way. In the cases of five of these kings, they are specifically said to have rebuilt or repaired the Temple in some way, and usually they re-instituted the accompanying worship rituals. Asa repaired the altar of the Lord in front of the Temple (15:8). Joash restored the Temple (24:4–14). Jotham built the upper gate of the Temple (27:3). Hezekiah repaired, cleansed, and rededicated the Temple (chaps. 29–31). Josiah repaired the Temple and celebrated the Passover (34:8–35:19).[footnote]Howard, D. M., Jr. 1993. An introduction to the Old Testament Historical Books . Moody Press: Chicago[/footnote]

The book underscores the essential and central role of worship in the life of God’s people. For the author the temple was (1) a symbol of the unity of the nation; (2) a reminder of the nation’s high calling as a priestly people; (3) a sign that Yahweh was in the midst of his people; and (4) a standard by which national faithfulness could be measured. Good kings loom large in these books, and good are those who led revivals and restored the temple.[footnote]J E Smith, The Books of History (Chicago: Moody Press, 1995), Electronic Edition.[/footnote]

We find five major prayers in the books and they are all by good kings – David (1 Chr. 17:16-27; 1 Chr. 29:10-19), Solomon (2 Chr. 6:12-42), Jehoshaphat (2 Chr. 20:5-12), and Hezekiah (2 Chr. 30:18-19). The inclusion of these prayers reinforce the positive picture that the Chronicler wants to paint of these kings and also teach how people should properly relate to God.

This historian’s purpose is to show that the true glory of the Hebrew nation was found in its covenant relationship to God, as safeguarded by the prescribed forms of worship in the temple and administered by the divinely ordained priesthood under the protection of the divinely authorized dynasty of David. Always the emphasis is upon that which is sound and valid in Israel’s past as furnishing a reliable basis for the task of reconstruction which lay ahead.[footnote]G L Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Chicago: Moody Press, 1998), Electronic Edition.[/footnote]

Chronicles stresses that God’s Name was the way to access divine power. This is referred to more than 40 times (eg. 1 Chr. 13:6; 1 Chr. 16:2,8,10,29,35; 2 Chr. 2:1,4; 1 Chr. 6:5-10,20). Access to God and his blessing was only for those who called on God’s Name. This belief had practical effects in that it required re-building of the Temple and the re-starting of Temple services as that was the place where God’s name resided.

God had preserved them and given them royal leadership to rebuild the temple and worship of God. The book underscores the essential and central role of worship in the life of God’s people.

3. Reunification of God’s people

Although the Chronicler stresses the importance of Judah and the Southern Kingdom, he also wanted to convey the message that, despite two exiles, the unity of God’s people “all Israel” is still a concern. The phrase “all Israel” appears at least 105 times in biblical Hebrew. Almost 40 percent of these references occur in 1 & 2 Chronicles. Fourteen of the references to “all Israel” come in 2 Chronicles 10-36, after the death of Solomon, when “Israel” was no longer a unified entity. Even more strikingly, five references come in 2 Chronicles 29–36 , after the fall of the northern kingdom, when there was no political “Israel” existent. The Chronicler conceived of “Israel” as an indivisible unity, which was God’s people in its entirety, and one that still had a place in God’s plans for the future. Other similar phrases used were “all the elders of Israel,” “all the congregations of Israel,” “all the tribes of Israel,” “all the lands of Israel,” “all the kings of Israel,” and so on.

Several factors indicate this feeling that the north must be included:

• “All Israel” and “all the elders of Israel” came to anoint David as king at Hebron (1 Chron. 11:3,4,10); 1 Chronicles omits any reference to David’s anointing at Hebron over only Judah (which we find in 2 Sam. 2:1-4).

• Great numbers from all twelve tribes (not just Judah) are mentioned as having come for this purpose (1 Chron. 12:23-27), and they were united in purpose in making David king (1 Chron. 12:38).

• The priests and Levites who “were in all Israel” defected to Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Jeroboam I, because of religious intolerance in the north (2 Chron. 11:13-14).

• Much later, great numbers deserted from Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon to Asa, when “they saw that the Lord his God was with him” (2 Chron. 15:8–9). Note that Simeon is actually (historically) an extinct tribe by this time; the point is that Simeon is very much “alive” in the Chronicler’s mind.

• Jehoshaphat gathered people “from Beersheba to the hill country of Ephraim and turned them back to the Lord, the God of their fathers” (2 Chron. 19:4). Note that Jehoshaphat lived in Jerusalem (2 Chron. 19:4) and that he appointed Levites and priests and “heads of Israelite families” to judge in Jerusalem (2 Chron. 19:8).

• Hezekiah invited people from “all Israel and Judah,” including Ephraim and Manasseh, as far as Zebulun, to come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover (2 Chron. 30:1, 6, 10). Some came from several of the northern tribes: Asher, Manasseh, Zebulun (2 Chron. 30:11), and Ephraim. These then went throughout “all Judah and Benjamin and in Ephraim and Manasseh” (i.e., the two major tribes of north and south) to destroy pagan cult sites and apparatus (2 Chron. 31:1).

• Josiah’s reform extended to “the towns of Manasseh, Ephraim, and Simeon, and as far as Naphtali … throughout all the land of Israel” (2 Chron. 34:6–7 RSV). Note that the northern kingdom was extinct by now and that Simeon had been extinct for a longer period of time. The Temple was repaired with monies collected “from the people of Manasseh, Ephraim and the entire remnant of Israel and from all the people of Judah and Benjamin and the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (2 Chron. 34:9).[footnote]D M Howard, An Introduction to the Old Testament Historical Books (Chicago: Moody Press, 1993), Electronic Edition.[/footnote]

4. Reformation under Mosaic Law/ Divine blessing and judgment

The Chronicler linked obedience and blessing, as well as disobedience and cursing. Each King’s life was measured against the questions: Was the king faithful to Mosaic law? Did he support the temple? Did he rely on foreign alliances or on God? Did the king listen to the prophets and priests? This is crystallized in David’s words to Solomon:

And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever (1 Chr. 28:9).

This is repeated in similar fashion on three later occasions, to Rehoboam and his officials (2 Chr. 12:5), to Asa (2 Chr. 15:2), and to the people in Joash’s day (2 Chr. 24:20). Several examples of people suffering for their sins confront the reader – Saul (1 Chr. 10:13), Uzziah (2 Chr. 26:16), Josiah (2 Chr. 35:22).

Victory, security and prosperity came to those who sought the Lord, but defeat, trouble, and illness to those who forgot him.[footnote]Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003), ?[/footnote]

By emphasizing these themes the Chronicler showed his postexilic readers the way to divine blessing in their day. The full restoration of God’s people would come only as they lived in fidelity to the Lord. The prophet Azariah stated the matter succinctly to King Asa: if you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you” (2 Chr. 15:2).[footnote]Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003), 160.[/footnote]

The term “heart” occurs about 850 times in the Old Testament, 63 of these times in 1 & 2 Chronicles. The phrase “with a perfect heart” or “with all the heart” occurs 21 times. The Chronicler called his readers to the Mosaic ideal of whole-hearted obedience to God. Outward obedience is not enough. The Chronicler highlighted whether the various kings truly served God with their hearts. In so doing, he called his readers to bring their hearts into line with God’s Law to secure God’s blessings. Rejoicing with the heart and giving from the heart are also prominent (1 Chron. 12:38-40; 1 Chron. 29:9,22; 2 Chron. 29:30-36; 2 Chron. 30:2,23,25).

5. Call to decision

The concern for great decisions of faith leads to inclusion of additional information about kings and prophets who had these decisions to confront. Thus there is also mention of Rehoboam facing Shishak’s invasion and Asa confronting Zerah the Ethiopian; the attempt of Uzziah to attain security by a large standing army and ambitious mercantile enterprises; the latter-day repentance of Mannasseh; the great national Passover of Josiah, and so on.

 

VI. New Testament Analysis

The Chronicler’s history did not only encourage the rebuilding of the kingdom on earth but also and ultimately pointed forward to the inauguration of the kingdom in the first coming of Christ and to the glorious consummation when he returns.

1. The Restoration of the Davidic throne

Even after the fall of Jerusalem the Davidic line was still intact, and the Messiah was to come from this line. The author was confident that the most glorious days of the Davidic dynasty were still in the future and led to the ultimate Son of David, Jesus Christ.

The Chronicler’s interest in the restoration of David’s throne was also fulfilled in Christ. Christ was born the Son of David, the rightful heir to the Davidic throne (Lk. 1:32; Ro. 1:3; Rev. 22:16). Jesus met all the conditions of obedience placed on David’s line (Ro. 5:19; Php. 2:8; Heb. 5:7-10). In the resurrection, Christ took his throne in heaven (Ac. 2:33-35; Eph. 1:20-23; Php. 2:9; Rev. 3:21). He leads his people into blessing and victory (Ro. 8:37; Eph. 4:7-13) and reigns until all his enemies are defeated (1 Co. 15:24-26).[footnote]Ibid., 598.[/footnote]

2. Renewal of the Temple

The rebuilt and renewed temple filled with the presence of God is also ultimately fulfilled in Christ.

Christ offered himself on the cross as the perfect atonement for sin (Heb. 9:11-28; 1 Pe. 3:18a; 1 Jn. 2:2), and he intercedes in the heavenly palace of God on behalf of his people (Heb. 3:1; Heb. 4:14-16; Heb. 6:20; Heb. 7:26; Heb. 8:1). On his return, Christ will bring all his people into the blessed presence of God (Jn. 14:1-4; 1 Th. 4:16-17).[footnote]Ibid., 598.[/footnote]

3. The re-unification of God’s people

The Chonicler’s hope of a united people of God is fulfilled in Christ.

Those who follow Christ are the heirs of Israel’s promises (Gal. 3:14,29; Gal. 4:28; Eph. 2:11-22; Eph. 3:6), as were the faithful of the postexilic community. Christ’s church extends beyond Israel to include the Gentiles (Lk. 2:32; Ac. 9:15; Ac. 11:1,18). At the return of Christ all of God’s elect will be united under the lordship of Christ (Eph. 2:11-22).[footnote]Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003), 598.[/footnote]

4. Reformation under Mosaic Law

The Chronicler’s message of blessing on obedience and judgment on sin anticipated the work of Christ who not only exhorted to covenant fidelity (Mat. 5:17-20) and obeyed covenant precepts perfectly, but also endured the covenant curses for his people in order that they might be blessed.

 

VII. The Message of Chronicles

Original Message: Work for the restoration of Israel’s throne and temple to obtain God’s blessing.
Present Message: Work for the restoration and rebuilding of the throne and temple of God to obtain God’s blessing.