Like Kings & Samuel, Chronicles started as 1 book. Chronicles repeats much of what we are told in Genesis and Kings concerning the history and lineage of Israel, though it focuses on the Southern kingdom of Judah. Chronicles is titled Dibre Hayyamim in Hebrew, which is roughly translated The Matters of the Days. In Greek, the book is called Paraleipomenon, which means things omitted. The latter title possibly refers to text in Kings that reminds us the details of each king are recorded elsewhere. The English title of Chronicles came about when Jerome referred to the book as a chronicle.
- Date Written
- Chapter by Chapter Breakdown
- Important People
- Themes & Purpose
- A Chance To Think
- Lessons Learned: The Underlying Message
- Israel's Failure
- One Person Makes A Difference
- The Government
- True to His Word
- Other Posts About 2 Chronicles
- References & Footnotes
Most scholars attribute the text to Ezra. Compelling evidence of Ezra's authorship includes the style of writing and the fact that 2 Chronicles 36:22-23 is exactly the same as Ezra 1:1-2. Since this is not explicitly confirmed, however, most scholars refer to the author as The Chronicler.
Chronicles was one of the last books of the Old Testament to be written despite its placement almost in the center of the books. Estimating the date of authorship isn't as hard with Chronicles because there are two facts given to help us pin point the date. First, we know that the book was written after the Israelites returned from Babylonian exile. The Babylonian captivity ended in 538 BC, which places the date of authorship some time after 538 BC.
Chapter by Chapter Breakdown
- Queen of Sheba
Themes & Purpose
One of the reasons many people (myself included) struggle to find significance in the book of Chronicles is that it appears to be a retelling of everything we've already been told. Chronicles lists the genealogy from Adam all the way to the line of David, which isn't the most interesting thing to read. Chronicles also covers information on the kings, mirroring the books of Samuel and Kings.
So why is it included?
The previous books were all meant to tell this history of how things fell in to place, while Chronicles was meant to showcase spirituality. The author of Chronicles expands on things we didn't learn in the previous books, while omitting events we did learn about. The pattern of which events are highlighted versus which are left out shows that the author was more concerned about the spiritual progress of Israel than anything else. This would also explain why The Chronicler focused on Judah over Israel.
The second fact we have to work with is The Chronicler's diligence at recording the history of David's lineage. The last ancestor of David mentioned in Chronicles is Anani, who was born about 8 generations after Jehoiachin. Scholars estimate that Anani was born between 425 BC and 400 BC. The Septuagint adds 5 more generations between Anani and Jehoiachin. Accounting for these generations, Anani would have been born between 325 BC and 300 BC. Since descendants of David born after Anani are absent from the text, scholars assume the text was written during Anani's life time. This would date the book to some time between 425 BC and 250 BC; if Anani was born in the 5th century BC, we can conclude the text was written earlier (between 425 bc and 350 BC).
A Chance To Think
Chronicles also gives believers a chance to exercise our thinking skills. Since it reiterates the history from man's beginning through the Babylonian exile, it's also the place where people go to point out "contradictions." I discussed some of the supposed contradictions between Chronicles and 2 Samuel 21-24 already, but as I step through the text, I'll try to point out the others. The Bible isn't a children's book, so sometimes we have to dig for answers. I believe that God wrote the Bible this way to inspire us to consult with Him for answers.
Lessons Learned: The Underlying Message
Chronicles is about the kings of Judah, with 2 Chronicles focused on the kings after the division of the kingdom. Following the timeline and keeping the names straight is probably the most difficult thing to understand when reading this book. When I first began the books of history, I wondered why they're so often overlooked in churches today. As I began Joshua, all the way through 2 Chronicles, I found that they weren't always the most interesting to read. We often aren't concerned with who ruled Israel and when, because we feel that it doesn't apply to us. However, as I continued to read, I realized quite a few reasons it's important to be familiar with the information presented in these books, particularly Chronicles.
The Israelites were really bad at following God's law. I've seen many people try to debunk Christianity and Judaism by claiming archeological records show that no one practiced Judaism during the times presented in the Bible. Well, the Bible tells you they weren't practicing Judaism then. There is an explicit passage in the Bible that tell us the passover hadn't been kept in a long time (2 Chronicles 30:5). God says that while the Jews are captive in Babylon, the land will get her sabbaths, implying that either the feast days or the 7 year sabbaths had not been enforced. We probably shouldn't expect archeological records from the pre-exilic period to turn up an abundance of evidence that the Jews were worshiping God as commanded because they only did so for short periods of time.
Obviously it's good to know this when people challenge your faith. It is also important to know because these are the people who had the most direct communication with God. They are the descendants of the people who saw the waters part, yet they still had difficulties believing. If they had trouble, you know it will be difficult for us approximately 3000 years later. We have to want to hear God's voice and want to follow His ways, otherwise we will end up in the same trouble the Israelites did.
As time passes, we see the change in how leaders react to adversity. Initially leaders rely on God and God makes sure Judah prospers. However, the last kings rely on themselves to fix problems. They sell parts of God's Temple to buy protection from man. If this isn't a parallel for us giving up Godly morals to fit into the world, I don't know what is. These actions rarely help the Israelites, the same way fitting into the world doesn't help us.
One Person Makes A Difference
Often, I feel like I'm just one person and I don't matter in the grand scheme of things. It seems that my choice to do right or wrong won't effect anyone but me. However, we see that the fate of Israel is described solely through her kings and prophets. I may not be a king or even a mayor, but our actions do effect those around us. The preacher's faith and actions effect the congregation's faith and actions. The faith and actions of the congregation effect how those outside the congregation view God. It is a ripple effect. When the king partook in idolatry, the people of Judah followed his example. Similarly, if the preacher sins, everyone else thinks its ok to sin and will sin as well. We must be conscious of how our actions effect those around us, but we must also remember that those around us are not perfect. We should not follow their example, but Jesus'.
That brings me to the issue of government. God didn't initially want a government in Israel. Governments mean that at some point we have to choose between what man is saying and what God has spoken. People are not perfect. No matter how great a president we select, they're unlikely to get everything right. Conversely, since we aren't perfect, it's even more likely that we select horrible people to lead. Yet, the leader of a country is very important. God makes this clear throughout the books of Kings and Chronicles. This person influences the entire nation and has the power to turn people to or against God. We should be mindful of this when selecting leaders on all levels.
True to His Word
God is true to His word. In
Other Posts About 2 Chronicles
References & Footnotes
- "III. Title and Canonical Placement". Asbury Bible Commentary, via Bible Gateway; visited February 2017
- William MacDonald. Believer's Bible Commentary, pg. 423-425. 1998
- Holman Bible Publishers. Holman KJV Study Bible, pg. 683-686. 2014
- The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. "Babylonian Exile". Encyclopædia Britannica. February 2016
- "Book of Chronicles". Wikipedia; visited February 2017