The book of 1 Chronicles (1 Chronicles 1)

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According to the Jewish Talmud Ezra the scribe wrote Chronicles. Its division into two books, 1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles, first appears in the Septuagint. Because the book of Ezra begins where 2 Chronicles leaves off (cf. 2 Chronicles 36:22-23, Ezra 1:1-3a), many scholars believe that the same person authored/compiled 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah. All of these books emphasize genealogies, the centrality of Jerusalem, God’s temple and sacrifice. However, other scholars discount the single-author theory, arguing that the differences between Chronicles and Ezra outweigh the similarities.

The original book of Chronicles, written in Jerusalem during the fifth century B.C., describes events that happened much earlier. Clearly, the Chronicles made use of earlier Biblical sources, such as the Pentateuch, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Lamentations. Other, non-biblical sources are also cited (cf. 1 Chronicles 29:29, 2 Chronicles 9:29, 24:27).

The primary audience of 1 and 2 Chronicles was made up of the exiled Jews who had returned to Israel after the Babylonian captivity. The house of David had been dethroned and the nation, Jerusalem and the temple destroyed. The Jews needed to reestablish a sense of the continuity of the past with the present: God was still interested in them, His covenants with them remained in force, and His promises to king David still held meaning for them. Subsequent generations that read 1 and 2 Chronicles were reminded that, as God is faithful to His covenant promises, they also needed to remain faithful.

God’s chosen people had experienced great hardship as a result of their sinfulness and resulting exile. Now, having returned to their home territory, they had the opportunity to start over – to obey God’s covenant and to receive His blessings.

As you read: It may seem as though the author of 1 Chronicles simply repeated historical facts recorded previously in Samuel and Kings concerning such people as David ans Solomon. Remember, though, that the author of 1 Chronicles wanted to emphasize God’s covenant faithfulness and to encourage his readers to obey God. Yes, the long genealogies and details concerning the army. Levitical priesthood and temple service preparations can seem tedious, but allow yourself to look more deeply, paying particular attention to the manner in which the author traced God’s working throughout sacred history. Note in particular how consistently he presented the line of David as the chosen lineage of Messianic kings (cf. 1 Chronicles 17).

Israel had serious planning to do now that the temple of God – the centre of her worship – was about to be built. The author took this seriously: It is as though he were proclaiming “The Jerusalem temple is the true house of God, and the Levitical priesthood is the only legitimate temple ministry.” In that light, notice how much attention David, Solomon and others paid to the details of the temple’s construction and the joy they experienced in the renewed opportunity to make sacrifices to God (cf. 1 Chronicles 28-29).

Did you know that names are often spelled differently in Chronicles than in the earlier books, but these variations are only “problems” to our modern way of thinking? The ancient world was not concerned about exact statistics and standard spellings (1:1-27). Did you know that in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia kings erected monuments and constructed great temples as an act of homage to the deity they considered responsible for establishing them upon their thrones (17:1-4)? Did you know that Levitical gatekeepers in a broad sense were a paramilitary security force (26:1)? Did you know that lot-casting had nothing to do with “chance”? Quite the opposite, it prevented partiality and emphasized the divine nature of decision, since the outcome of a lot was from the Lord (26:1). Did you know that rather than a standing army, David’s military divisions represented a militia or citizen army, something like the U.S. National Guard (27:1-15)? Did you know that there is no evidence of direct taxation during the reign of David; his court appears to have been financed by extensive landholdings, commerce, plunder from his many wars and tribute from subjugated kingdoms (27:25-31)?


 

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