[Following is the introduction to both 1 and 2 Chronicles, which are parts of one whole.]
1. Title. Like the books of Kings, the two books of Chronicles originally formed a single continuous work, known in Hebrew as dibre hayyamim, “events of the days.” This title seems to be an abbreviation of sepher dibre hayyamim, literally, “book of events of the days,” a journal kept at Oriental courts for the recording of daily events (see 2 Kings 14:18, 28; 15:6, 21, 31; 1 Chron. 27:24; Neh. 12:23; cf. Esther 6:1, 2). The LXX translators divided the book into two parts called paraleipomenon a and b, literally, “first and second parts of matters omitted.” This title of the Greek translators indicates that they regarded the book as a kind of supplement to the books of Samuel and Kings, written for the purpose of supplying details that had been omitted in the earlier histories. The English title, “Chronicles,” is derived from the term Chronicon, employed by Jerome as fittingly representing the Hebrew designation of the book, and this term, in the plural form of Chronica or Chronicorum liber, “Chronicles,” or “Book of Chronicles,” was employed in some editions of the Vulgate, whence it was taken over by the English translators.
That Chronicles was originally a single, undivided book is indicated by a Masoretic note at the end of the Hebrew text, stating that 1 Chron. 27:25 is the middle verse of the book. Moreover, Josephus, Origen, Jerome, and the Talmud regarded the book as one. The LXX division into two books was followed by the Vulgate, and so passed into other versions and into the modern printed editions of the Hebrew Bible.
2. Authorship. A careful examination of the Hebrew text of the books of Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah indicates that these three books are closely related to one another in language, style, and general point of view. These resemblances may suggest unity of authorship. Some see in the fact that Chronicles ends in the middle of an unfinished sentence, which is completed in the opening verses of Ezra, an indication that both books originally formed a single volume, with no break between the two (2 Chron. 36:22, 23; cf. Ezra 1:1–3). There is no real break in the narrative between 2 Chron. 36 and Ezra 1. It may be that when a break was made, dividing the original volume into two, the closing verses of Chronicles were repeated as the opening verses of Ezra. Others, however, see the possibility that the first few verses of Ezra were added to Chronicles so that the book would not end on the note of the destruction of Jerusalem. Early Jewish writers generally agree that Chronicles was written by Ezra.
There are many indications of a close relationship between the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. The ancients did not separate them into two books as is now the case. The Talmud and the Christian fathers Origen and Jerome regarded Ezra–Nehemiah as a single volume. It appears that throughout the books of Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah one may trace a single hand, and hence modern scholarship generally regards them as the product of the same author. Since the tone and spirit of the work indicates that the books are the product of a priest connected with the Temple in Jerusalem during the latter half of the 5th century b.c., it seems highly likely that Ezra the priest and scribe (see Neh. 12:26) was the author. Both Ezra (Ezra 7:1–21) and Nehemiah (Neh. 2:1; 5:14) mention Artaxerxes, during whose time Ezra flourished. This was evidently Artaxerxes I (465–423 b.c.; see pp. 61, 62). If Ezra is the author of Chronicles–Ezra–Nehemiah, our present two books of Chronicles must be dated to the latter part of the 5th century b.c.
Internal evidence also points to the fact that the book was written or at least completed in the Persian period, abut 400 b.c. Monetary values are calculated in “drams,” or darics (1 Chron. 29:7), coins believed to have been introduced by Darius I (522–486 b.c.). The genealogy of David’s family is brought down several generations beyond Zerubbabel (1 Chron. 3:19–24), who returned to Judea during the reign of Cyrus, 539–530 b.c. (Ezra 1:1, 2; cf. 2:2). However, it is possible that these names were added later (see on 1 Chron. 3:19). Based on the average descent of the Hebrew kings, a generation would be about 23 years. On this calculation six generations after Zerubbabel would extend nearly to 400 b.c. Since Chronicles was presumably once joined to Ezra–Nehemiah, the time of the chronicler can also be secured from the internal evidence of those books. The list of the high priests given in Neh. 12:10, 11, 22, 23, extends to Jonathan, Johanan, and Jaddua. Jonathan is known from the Elephantine papyri to have been high priest at least as early as 410. The evidence thus points to the end of the 5th century b.c., or about 400, as the time of the completion of Chronicles.
The writer of Chronicles repeatedly refers to a volume in general Hebrew history, “the book of the kings of Judah and Israel” (see 2 Chron. 16:11; 25:26; 28:26; cf. 35:27; 36:8). This book seems to have been a final compilation of the two histories so frequently mentioned in Kings—“the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel” (1 Kings 15:31; 16:5, 14, 20, 27; 22:39; 2 Kings 10:34; 14:28; 15:21, 26), and “the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah” (1 Kings 14:29; 15:7, 23; 2 Kings 8:23; 12:19; 15:6, 36; 16:19). This “book of the kings of Judah and Israel” seems to have been a complete volume containing all the records of the kings, since it contained an account of their deeds “first and last” (see 2 Chron. 16:11; 25:26; 28:26; 35:27). Furthermore, he frequently refers to historical works of a more limited scope, dealing with particular individuals or topics. Among these are “the chronicles of king David” (1 Chron. 27:24), “the book of Samuel the seer,” “the book of Nathan the prophet,” “the book of Gad the seer” (see 1 Chron. 29:29), “the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite,” “the visions of Iddo the seer against Jeroboam the son of Nebat” (2 Chron. 9:29), “the book of Shemaiah the prophet,” the book of “Iddo the seer concerning genealogies” (2 Chron. 12:15), “the story of the prophet Iddo” (2 Chron. 13:22), “the book of Jehu the son of Hanani” (2 Chron. 20:34), “the story of the book of the kings” (2 Chron. 24:27), “the acts of Uzziah” by the prophet Isaiah (2 Chron. 26:22), “the vision of Isaiah the prophet” (2 Chron. 32:32), and “the sayings of the seers” (2 Chron. 33:19).
The foregoing list of reference works is evidence that there was available a vast amount of source material. There are indications that in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah such sources were available. If the statement of. 2 Macc 2:13 can be depended upon, Nehemiah founded a library in which he “gathered together the acts of the kings, and the prophets, and of David, and the epistles of the kings concerning the holy gifts.”
3. Historical setting. The books of Chronicles basically consist of an outline record of the people of God from creation to the Persian period. The main emphasis is on the history of David and his successors in the nation of Judah. If Chronicles–Ezra–Nehemiah was originally one work, written by Ezra, who returned to Judea during the reign of Artaxerxes I (465–423),the historical setting of the books of Chronicles, a far as the time of production is concerned, would be the same as the historical setting of the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. The books of Chronicles, however, do not deal with the period in which they were completed, and only in minor genealogical items do they appear to extend to that time. That period is dealt with in Ezra and Nehemiah. For a discussion of the historical background of that period see the Introductions to the books of Ezra and Nehemiah in this commentary. For a brief discussion of the main historical period covered by Chronicles see the Introductions to the books of Samuel and Kings.
4. Theme. The books of Chronicles open with a genealogical outline of ancient history from Adam to the time of David. The history of creation, Paradise, the Fall, the early patriarchs, the Deluge, the later patriarchs, the stay in Egypt, the Exodus, the period of the judges, and the reign of Saul are passed over. The writer had little or nothing to add to the material already found in the Pentateuch and other books such as Joshua and Judges. For this early period he presents merely a series of genealogical tables, occasionally interspersed with brief biographical or historical notices (1 Chron. 4:9, 10, 38–43; 5:9, 10, 16–26; 6:31, 32, 48, 49, 54–81; 7:21–24; 9:17–34). First the author traces the generations from Adam to Jacob. He follows this genealogy with a survey of the 12 tribes, with emphasis on Judah, the tribe of David, and Levi, the tribe of the priests. Then the horizon narrows down from all Israel to the southern kingdom, Benjamin and Judah, and the city of Jerusalem. This introductory material covers the first nine chapters of the first book of Chronicles.
The second and main portion of the book begins with a brief discussion of the death of Saul (1 Chron. 10). Then follows a history of David (1 Chron. 11 to 29) and of his successors in the line of Judah down to Zedekiah, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the Babylonian captivity (2 Chron. 1 to 36). It would seem that the third section of the original work covered the return from captivity and the re-establishment of Jerusalem as the religious center of the restored Jewish community (Ezra–Nehemiah).
Considerable emphasis is given to the reign of David, the golden age of Israel’s history. However, many items concerning David are omitted, such as his reign at Hebron, his sin in the matter of Uriah the Hittite, the revolt of Absalom, and similar matters.
The reign of Solomon (2 Chron. 1 to 9) is treated more briefly, though at much greater length, than any subsequent reign. There is considerable emphasis upon the Temple and its services. Events connected with the building of the Temple occupy by far the largest part of the account of Solomon’s reign (chs. 2 to 7).
Many of the incidents recorded in Kings for this reign are not found in Chronicles, such as the attempted usurpation by Adonijah; the anointing of Solomon (1 Kings 1, 2); his marriage to the daughter of Pharaoh and the worship at the high places (1 Kings 3:1, 2); the decision concerning the disputed child (1 Kings 3:16–28); Solomon’s officers, wisdom, and proverbs (1 Kings 4); his place (1 Kings 7:1–12); his worship of foreign gods, and his adversaries (1 Kings 11). Certain items concerning the building of the Temple have been omitted, others are presented more briefly, others are given in the same wording as Kings, while others are entirely new.
In the remaining portion of the history the record is primarily of Judah, not Israel. Items connected with Israel are presented only incidentally. No chronological data are given for any kings of Israel, and the synchronisms of the kings of Judah in terms of the contemporary ruler in Israel, with one exception (2 Chron. 13:1), are not given. While the history of Israel is almost entirely ignored, the history of Judah is presented primarily from a religious viewpoint, with political, military, and personal facts or incidents subordinated to those of a spiritual interest. The object of the history is to set forth God’s purpose in the experiences of the chosen people and to show how the nation declined and even the holy Temple with its sacred ritual was finally destroyed as a result of sin. The reigns of the good kings of Judah, good for at least a portion of their reigns—Jehoshaphat, Joash, Hezekiah, and Josiah—are given particular prominence, and those incidents are especially emphasized in which the rulers concerned themselves with religious reforms and the restoration of the Temple and its services.
It is thus apparent that Chronicles is not a mere historical supplement to the books of Kings, but rather a distinct and independent work, having its own purpose, and written from its own distinctive point of view. After the services in the Temple had been re-established following the return from the Babylonian exile, and Jerusalem had been restored, the devout Jews, no doubt fondly hoped, as they looked into the future, that these services might never again be interrupted. They trusted that, under the blessing of God, Israel might henceforth prosper and go on from glory to glory. The time was, doubtless, peculiarly appropriate to remind the people of their past history to the end that Israel might enter into all the glorious privileges vouchsafed to them in the promises of God.
The chronicler thus introduced new materials concerning the Temple and its ministry, and the religious festivals. He was, however, interested, not so much with ritual as with life, not so much with the Temple as with the hearts of men. Israel was to pattern its life after the holy law of God, with constant attention to the rewards and punishments that would be the result of obedience and transgression. There was a new emphasis upon righteousness, a fuller presentation of the close connection between piety and prosperity, and between perversity and adversity.
The reigns of the kings are treated in such a way that the reader may understand clearly that the way of obedience to the divine standards is the way of peace and prosperity, and that the way of wickedness is the way of ruin and desolation. Each signal calamity and success is ascribed in the most direct manner to the action of Divine Providence, with the Lord rewarding the righteous and punishing the doers of evil. Thus, “Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the Lord” (1 Chron. 10:13); “David waxed greater and greater: for the Lord of hosts was with him” (ch. 11:9); “God was displeased with this thing; therefore he smote Israel” (ch. 21:7); “the children of Judah prevailed, because they relied upon the Lord” (2 Chron. 13:18; see also 2 Chron. 16:7; 17:3, 5; 22:7; 25:20; 28:6; 33:10, 11; 36:15–17).
Israel is treated in Chronicles as an apostate nation, walking in the ways of wickedness and death. Judah is treated as a nation that prospers under reigns of righteousness and suffers the penalties of transgression under kings who forsake the Lord.
There are some distinct differences in the manner in which the same incidents are treated in Kings and in Chronicles. In Kings nothing commendable is presented in the account of Rehoboam, but in Chronicles an approving record is given, so that his ways may stand out in sharp contrast to the evils of Jeroboam (2 Chron. 11:13–17). When later Rehoboam “forsook the law of the Lord,” the explanation is given that Shishak’s attack on Jerusalem came “because they had transgressed against the Lord” (2 Chron. 12:1, 2).
In the record of Kings practically nothing is said of Abijam other than that “he walked in all the sins of his father” and that “his heart was not perfect with the Lord” (1 Kings 15:3). But Chronicles mentions also some commendable deeds. He is presented as remonstrating with Jeroboam for his rebellion against the Lord and for his establishment of a false priesthood in Israel. The record declares that he gained a great victory over the northern kingdom because he depended upon the Lord (2 Chron. 13:4–18).
As to Asa, Chronicles records a great victory over Zerah the Ethiopian, regarding which Kings is silent. It further reports a turning to Judah of many of the people of Israel when they saw that the Lord was with them, and tells of a great religious gathering at which the covenant with God was renewed (2 Chron. 14:9–15; 15:1–15).
Kings mentions the fact that Jehoshaphat was a good ruler but gives a brief record of his reign (1 Kings 22:42–50). Chronicles gives a longer record of an incident in which Jehoshaphat prayed to God at a time of national crisis and received from God a marvelous victory, the forces of the enemy being led to destroy one another (2 Chron. 20:1–30).
The evil reign of Jehoram is given only a brief treatment in Kings (2 Kings 8:16–24); in Chronicles there is an account of sore judgments against him from the Lord because of his evil ways (2 Chron. 21:8–19).
Kings makes brief mention of the death of Ahaziah at the hands of Jehu (2 Kings 9:27, 28); Chronicles gives a more extensive account that mentions the fact that the evil counsel he followed was “to his destruction,” and that his destruction “was of God” (2 Chron. 22:4–9).
Kings reports the death of Joash at the hands of his own servants (2 Kings 12:20, 21). Chronicles adds these significant details: (1) that after the death of Jehoiada the people “left the house of the Lord God of their fathers, and served groves and idols: and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this their trespass”; (2) that at the command of the king, the son of Jehoiada was slain for daring to remind the people that because of their transgression against the Lord, they could not prosper, for He had forsaken them as they had forsaken Him; (3) that consequently a great host of Judah was delivered into the hands of a small company of Syrians, “because they had forsaken the Lord God of their fathers”; (4) that it was while lying in bed recovering from the wounds received in this encounter, that Joash was slain by his servants (2 Chron. 24:17–25).
Kings reports the victory of Amaziah against Edom and the king’s consequent defeat at the hand of Jehoash of Israel (2 Kings 14:7–14), but Chronicles adds the revealing detail that after Amaziah had returned from his victory, “he brought the gods of the children of Seir, and set them up to be his gods, and bowed down himself before them, and burned incense unto them. Wherefore the anger of the Lord was kindled against Amaziah,” and that the Lord had determined to destroy him because of the course he had taken (2 Chron. 25:14–16).
In connection with the brief account of the reign of Azariah (Uzziah) as given in Kings (2 Kings 15:1–7), mention is made of his leprosy, but no cause is given. In Chronicles, however, there is a much longer account of Azariah’s reign (2 Chron. 26:1–23), and the reason for his leprosy is plainly stated, namely, that when he was strong, “his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the Lord his God, and went into the temple of the Lord to burn incense upon the altar of incense,” whereupon he was reprimanded by the priests for his trespass and immediately became leprous, “because the Lord had smitten him.”
The record of the good king Jotham’s reign in Kings again is brief (2 Kings 15:32–38), but the more extensive record in Chronicles tells how he was victorious against the Ammonites, who became tributary to him, and how he “became mighty, because he prepared his ways before the Lord his God” (2 Chron. 27:5, 6).
According to Kings, Ahaz was attacked by the kings of Israel and Syria, apparently without serious consequences, for he secured the help of Tiglath-pileser, who took Damascus and slew its king (2 Kings 16:1–9). According to Chronicles, however, because of Ahaz’ idolatry the Lord “delivered him into the hand of the king of Syria,” who smote him and carried away a great multitude of captives, and he was also “delivered into the hand of the king of Israel, who smote him with a great slaughter,” carrying away captive “two hundred thousand, women, sons, and daughters,” together with much spoil, and when Tiglath-pileser was appealed to he came and “distressed him, but strengthened him not,” for “the Lord brought Judah low because of Ahaz …; for he made Judah naked, and transgressed sore against the Lord” (2 Chron. 28:3–20).
Kings gives an extensive account of the reign of the good king Hezekiah (2 Kings 18 to 20), but Chronicles greatly magnifies the record of Hezekiah’s good deeds, with a detailed account of his cleansing the Temple, restoring its services, and inviting the people of all Israel to attend a great Passover at Jerusalem, with numbers responding from the northern tribes of Asher, Manasseh, and Zebuiun. Chronicles tells of the Passover service being followed by a destruction of the images, groves, and high places, not only in all Judah and Benjamin, but also in Ephraim and Manasseh, and with a restoration of the various offerings, oblations, and priestly services (2 Chron. 29 to 31).
Kings describes in detail the iniquities of Manasseh (2 Kings 21:1–18), but Chronicles mentions not only his iniquities but his being bound in fetters by the king of Assyria to be taken “among the thorns” to Babylon, where in his affliction “he besought the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly,” whereupon the Lord heard his supplication and permitted his return to Jerusalem, where he put away the strange gods, “repaired the altar of the Lord, and sacrificed thereon peace offerings and thank offerings, and commanded Judah to serve the Lord God of Israel” (2 Chron. 33:11–16).
Of Amon the record in Kings states that he did “evil in the sight of the Lord, as his father Manasseh did” (2 Kings 21:20), while Chronicles adds that he “humbled not himself before the Lord, as Manasseh his father had humbled himself” (2 Chron. 33:23).
Kings relates in some detail how Josiah restored the worship of Jehovah and took measures to institute a general reform, closing the record of his reign with a statement of how he met his death at the hands of the Egyptian king Necho (2 Kings 22, 23:1–30); Chronicles gives a somewhat longer record of his efforts at restoration and reformation, and in the matter of his encounter with Necho adds the detail that Necho sought to dissuade Josiah from his purpose to fight against him, but that Josiah “hearkened not unto the words of Necho from the mouth of God,” and hence met his death in this encounter (2 Chron. 34, 35).
Kings deals at some length with the reigns of the last four evil kings of Judah and the fall of Jerusalem (2 Kings 23:30–37; 24:1–20; 25:1–30), giving only a brief statement to the effect that it was “through the anger of the Lord” that Jerusalem and Judah were cast out from His presence (ch. 24:20), while Chronicles gives only a very short account of these last four reigns (2 Chron. 36:1–13), but gives the specific reasons for Judah’s fall, since priests and people “transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the Lord which he had hallowed in Jerusalem,” mocking the messengers sent by God and misusing His prophets, “until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, till there was no remedy” (ch. 36:14–16).
All through his book the chronicler magnifies the prophets and their work. Additional information is given concerning some of the prominent prophets that is not found elsewhere in the Old Testament. There is also information concerning prophets who are not mentioned elsewhere in the Bible. These divine messengers are pictured as giving warnings and exhortations on critical occasions. Thus Shemaiah informs Rehoboam that the invasion of Shishak is due to the fact that the people forsook the Lord (2 Chron. 12:5); Azariah encourages Asa (ch. 15:1–8); Hanani rebukes Asa for invoking aid from Syria (ch. 16:7–10); Jehu reproves Jehoshaphat for joining himself to Ahab (ch. 19:2); Jahaziel encourages Jehoshaphat in his encounter with the forces of Moab, Ammon, and Mt. Seir (ch. 20:14–17); Eliezer reproves Jehoshaphat for joining himself with Ahaziah (ch. 20:37); Zechariah informs the people in the days of Joash that there can be no prosperity because of transgression (ch. 24:20); and Oded remonstrates with Israel in the days of Pekah and Ahaz (ch. 28:9–11).
From these observations it will be seen that the record of Chronicles is not so much mere history as it is a sermon, and that the chronicler is not so much a mere narrator of events as he is a preacher. When his record of an incident differs from that in Kings, it is no proof that there is any basic disagreement in the two accounts, but there is a difference in emphasis. The chronicler shows a disposition to moralize. He says what he has to say because it teaches some lesson or presents a warning. He completed his work after Judah had fallen and gone into captivity, and after Jerusalem had been rebuilt and the services of the Temple restored. It was doubtless his earnest hope that sin might not again come in to bring the nation down in ruin. But this is exactly the danger that threatened. Sin was once more manifesting itself (Ezra 9:1–15; 10:1–19; Neh. 5:1–13; Neh. 13:3–11, 15–30), and there was the danger that the wrath of God would again be visited upon His people. This he would by all means seek to prevent. It is a reasonable assumption that the great book of Chronicles–Ezra–Nehemiah was written with the objective of forestalling a second apostasy and desolation of Judah.
Generations of Bible commentators have been baffled by some of the extremely large numbers that are found in the books of Chronicles. For example, 1 Chron. 22:14 states that David dedicated 100,000 talents of gold and a million talents of silver for the Temple to be built by his son Solomon. To this sum must be added other enormous contributions by David and the nobles of Israel for the same purpose (ch. 29:3–7). A computation in modern values shows that 100,000 talents of gold alone would amount to more than 3 billion dollars, a figure that can hardly be assumed as correct, in view of the fact that the total amount of gold known in ancient times throughout the world would scarcely have been 3 billion dollars.
For this reason modern scholars have declared that the chronicler exaggerated and that his information is incorrect. This verdict cannot be upheld since recent discoveries have demonstrated the historical reliability of the author. Consequently another explanation must be sought if we are to solve the difficulties posed by some of the extremely large figures in the books of Chronicles.
Chronicles was composed, or at least completed, in the late 5th century b.c., as can be learned from the genealogical lists found in the book, which go down to the time of Nehemiah. It was probably the last of the Biblical books written, as is indicated by its place at the end of the Hebrew Bible. In its preparation official documents, written by prophets and other inspired writers, were used, like “the book of Nathan the prophet,” “the book of Gad the seer,” or “the chronicles of king David” (1 Chron. 29:29; 1 Chron. 27:24). These were written in the pre-exilic Hebrew script, whereas Chronicles was composed in the Aramaic square script which came into use after the Exile. This script, which, according to Jewish tradition, was introduced by Ezra, has remained in use in some modified form as the Hebrew script to the present time.
All numbers in any known Hebrew Bible manuscript are fully written out, and no numerals are used. Yet, numerals were used in ancient Hebrew inscriptions, as well as in Phoenician, Aramaic, Nabataean, Palmyrenian, Egyptian, and Babylonian documents. The paucity of ancient Hebrew source material is responsible for our insufficient knowledge concerning the use of numerals among the authors of the Hebrew Bible. When Mark Lidzbarski published his handbook on North Semitic epigraphy in 1898 he stated that the Hebrews apparently did not use numerals, but wrote out their numbers. He based this assertion on the Siloam inscription and the Moabite Stone, in which the numbers are written out. These were the only Hebrew inscriptions known at that time which contained numbers, and one of them, the Moabite Stone, was not even a true Hebrew inscription, although the difference between the Moabite script and language and the Hebrew script and language is very slight.
However, during the last 50 years, several Hebrew pre-exilic inscriptions—the ostraca from Samaria, Lachish, and Tell Qasile—have come to light, which contain numbers, some of which are fully written out, others of which are represented by numerals. Also the Aramaic papyri from Elephantine, discovered during the last 50 years (see pp. 79–83), show a wide use of numerals and contain written-out numbers as well.
In these documents the numerals for figures below “ten” are vertical strokes arranged together in groups of three strokes, written from right to left, of which the last is usually longer than the others: =6; =8. The figure “ten” is represented by a crescent-shaped symbol, , and “twenty” is a combination of two “tens,” . The next higher numeral, , expresses “hundred,” but “thousand” in the Elephantine papyri (no Palestine Hebrew inscription contains such a higher number) is always written out in the form Хlph, mostly abbreviated to lph. Sometimes one or more vertical strokes in front of the lph indicate the number of thousands given: lph=1,000; lph=3,000. However, the vertical stroke before thelph is also used in these documents to represent the Hebrew letter waw, which is the conjunction “and,” and it might not have been easy to ascertain in all cases whether the stroke stood for the conjunction “and” or indicated that only “one” thousand was meant.
Although there is insufficient extant material to give clear examples of how numbers were misread, what is available shows nevertheless that ancient documents (where in some instances numerals were employed, in others, full words) can easily give rise to misunderstandings. If the documents used by the chronicler in the preparation of his books contained some numbers written in numerals, others in fully spelled-out forms, it is possible to see how some of them might have been misunderstood. A document which, for example, contained the reading Хlph, “100 thousand,” may possibly have been misunderstood to read “one hundred thousand,” whereas the author meant to convey the idea of “hundred [and] thousand” (1,100).
The question also arises as to whether the writer of Chronicles in giving such large numbers intended them to be regarded as exact and literal figures. Those who have lived in Eastern lands know how common it is to employ such expression as “a thousand thousand,” meaning, only, a very large number. Those using numbers in such a sense would be much surprised to find others, not acquainted with such usage, interpreting them literally. Such expressions of the chronicler as “brass and iron without weight” (1 Chron. 22:14) and “the people were without number” (2 Chron. 12:3), must likewise be interpreted, not literally, but according to the original intention. It would thus be a mistake to construe the figures in Chronicles according to the strict letter and sense in which they might be used by a modern historian if such was not the spirit and general intention of the chronicler.
Every careful reader of Chronicles has been impressed by the writer’s predilection toward genealogical and statistical items. Lists of names are repeatedly given—of Temple or palace officials, civil administrators, army officers, and others. Among these are the following:
1 Chron. 11:26-47
Valiant men in David’s army
Those who came to David at Ziklg Ziklag
Levitical officials who deal with the ark
David’s principal state officers
David’s Levitical officials
Twenty–four divisions of the sons of Aaron
1 Chron. 25:1-31
Twenty–four orders of musicians
The Temple porters and officers
David’s captains and stewards
2 Chron. 11:5-10
Rehoboam’s cities of defense
Jehoshaphat’s Levites and captains
The heads of Ephraim
The chief Levites
Overseers of the offerings
Overseers of the Temple–repair workmen
Chief of the Levites
Similar items of a statistical nature are found in Ezra and Nehemiah:
Tabulation of vessels returned from Babylon
The numbers of those who returned from Babylon
“ 2:66, 67
The numbers of the horses, mules, and camels
“ 4:9, 10
The peoples brought to Samaria by Ashurbanipal
The genealogy of Ezra
The list of those who returned with Ezra
The sons of Levi who returned with Ezra
The Nethinim who returned with Ezra
“ 8:26, 27, 33, 34
The gold and silver contributed
The names of those who had taken strange wives
The names of those who built the wall
The numbers of those who returned with Zerubbabel
The names of those who stood with Ezra
The names of those who read the law
The names of those who sealed the covenant
The names of those who dwelt at Jerusalem
Lists of priests and Levites
The numerous lists of genealogical and statistical materials in Chronicles–Ezra–Nehemiah may be an indication that these three books are all the product of one hand. If this is the case, the writer, in all probability, was Ezra, “the priest, the scribe” (see Ezra 7:6, 10–12; N
5. Outline of 1 and 2 Chronicles.
I. Genealogical Tables, 1 Chron. 1 to 9:44.
A. From Adam to Israel and Edom, 1:1 to 2:2.
1. The patriarchs from Adam to Noah, 1:1–4.
2. The descendants of Noah, 1:4–54.
a. The descendants of Japheth, 1:5–7.
b. The descendants of Ham, 1:8–16.
c. The descendants of Shem, 1:17–54.
(1) Shem to Abraham, 1:17–27.
(2) The descendants of Abraham, 1:28 to 2:2.
(a) The sons of Ishmael, 1:28–31.
(b) The sons of Abraham by Keturah, 1:32, 33.
(c) The descendants of Isaac, 1:34 to 2:2.
1) The descendants of Esau, 1:34–54.
2) The sons of Israel, 2:1, 2.
B. The descendants of Israel, 2:3 to 7:40.
1. The posterity of Judah, 2:3 to 4:23.
a. Judah to Jesse, 2:3–12.
b. The sons and grandsons of Jesse, 2:13–17.
c. The sons of Caleb, 2:18–20.
d. The descendants of Hezron, 2:21–41.
e. The descendants of Caleb, 2:42–55.
f. The posterity of David, 3:1–24.
(1) The sons of David, 3:1–9.
(2) The royal line from Solomon to Zedekiah, 3:10–16.
(3) The sons of Jeconiah, 3:17–24.
g. Clans of Judah, 4:1–23.
(1) The descendants of Judah, 4:1.
(2) The descendants of Hur, 4:2–4.
(3) The descendants of Ashur, 4:5–7.
(4) The sons of Coz, 4:8.
(5) Jabez and his prayer, 4:9, 10.
(6) The sons of Chelub, 4:11, 12.
(7) The sons of Kenaz, 4:13–15.
(8) The sons of Caleb and others, 4:15–20.
(9) The sons of Shelah, 4:21–23.
2. The posterity of Simeon, 4:24–43.
a. The sons of Simeon, 4:24–27.
b. The habitations of the Simeonites, 4:28–33.
c. The emigration of the Simeonites, 4:34–43.
(1) The princes of Simeon, 4:34–38.
(2) The conquest at Gedor, 4:39–43.
3. The posterity of Reuben, 5:1–10.
4. The posterity of Gad, 5:11–17.
5. The conquests of the sons of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh, 5:18–22.
6. The inheritance of the half tribe of Manasseh, 5:23–26.
7. The posterity of Levi, 6:1–81.
a. The family of Aaron traced from Levi to the Babylonian captivity, 6:1–15.
b. The three branches of Levi, 6:16–48.
c. The priestly descendants of Aaron, 6:49–53.
d. The Levitical cities, 6:54–81.
8. The clans of Issachar, 7:1–5.
9. The clans of Benjamin, 7:6–12.
10. The sons of Naphtali, 7:13.
11. The posterity of Manasseh, 7:14–19.
12. The posterity of Ephraim, 7:20–29.
13. The posterity of Asher, 7:30–40.
C. Genealogies of Benjamin, 8:1–40.
1. Generations of chief men who dwelt at Jerusalem, 8:1–28.
2. The families of Gibeon and the royal house of Saul, 8:29–40.
D. Genealogy of inhabitants of Jerusalem, 9:1–34.
E. The inhabitants of Gibeon; the ancestors and descendants of Saul, 9:35–44.
II. History of the Kings in Jerusalem, 1 Chron. 10:1 to 2 Chron. 36:23.
A. The death of Saul, 1 Chron. 10:1–14.
1. Saul slain in Mt. Gilboa, 10:1–7.
2. The Philistines triumph over Saul, 10:8–10.
3. Saul’s burial at Jabesh-gilead, 10:11, 12.
4. Saul’s death as a result of transgression, 10:13, 14.
B. David, 1 Chron. 11:1 to 29:30.
1. The anointing at Hebron, 11:1–3.
2. The capture of Jerusalem, 11:4–9.
3. Register of David’s warriors, 11:10 to 12:40.
4. The ark brought from Kirjath-jearim, 13:1–14.
5. David’s house and household, 14:1–7.
6. The victories of David against the Philistines, 14:8–17.
7. The ark brought to Jerusalem, 15:1 to 16:43.
8. David’s purpose to build the Temple, 17:1–27.
9. David’s wars, 18:1 to 20:8.
10. David’s numbering of the people, 21:1–30.
11. David’s preparations for Solomon’s reign, 22:1 to 29:25.
a. Preparations of material, 22:1–5.
b. Directions to Solomon, 22:6–19.
c. Solomon made king the first time, 23:1.
d. Divisions of the Levites, 23:2–32.
e. Divisions of the priests, 24:1–19.
f. Divisions of other Levites, 24:20–31.
g. Divisions of the singers, 25:1–31.
h. Divisions of the porters and other officers, 26:1–32.
i. Captains and rulers, 27:1–34.
j. Final instructions concerning the Temple, 28:1–21.
k. Offerings for the Temple, 29:1–21.
l. Solomon made king the second time, 29:22–25.
12. The death of David, 29:26–30.
C. Solomon, 2 Chron. 1:1 to 9:31.
1. Solomon’s sacrifices at Gibeon, 1:1–6.
2. Solomon’s choice of wisdom, 1:7–12.
3. Solomon’s chariots and wealth, 1:13–17.
4. The Temple, 2:1 to 7:22.
a. Solomon’s preparations for the building of the Temple, 2:1–18.
b. The site and date of building, 3:1, 2.
c. The porch and the holy place, 3:3–7.
d. The most holy place, 3:8–14.
e. The bronze pillars of the porch, 3:15–17.
f. The objects of brass and gold, 4:1–22.
g. The Temple completed, 5:1.
h. The dedication of the Temple, 5:2 to 7:22.
(1) The ark brought to the Temple, 5:2–10.
(2) The manifestation of God’s glory, 5:11–14.
(3) Solomon’s prayer of consecration, 6:1–42.
(4) Fire sent from heaven, 7:1–3.
(5) The sacrifices and the festival, 7:4–11.
(6) God’s message to Solomon, 7:12–22.
5. Solomon’s public works, 8:1–6.
6. Solomon’s servants and officers, 8:7–10.
7. The house of the daughter of Pharaoh, 8:11.
8. Offerings and priestly appointments, 8:12–16.
9. The ships of Solomon, 8:17, 18.
10. The visit of the queen of Sheba, 9:1–12.
11. Solomon’s gold and glory, 9:13–28.
12. The close of Solomon’s reign, 9:29–31.
D. The kings of Judah, 2 Chron. 10:1 to 36:21.
1. Rehoboam, 10:1 to 12:16.
a. The revolt of the ten tribes, 10:1 to 11:4.
b. The strengthening of the defenses of Judah, 11:5–12.
c. The desertion of the priests and Levites of Israel to Rehoboam, 11:13–17.
d. Rehoboam’s family, 11:18–23.
e. Shishak’s invasion, 12:1–12.
f. The close of Rehoboam’s reign, 12:13–16.
2. Abijah, 13:1–22.
a. Abijah’s war with Jeroboam, 13:1–20.
b. Abijah’s family and his record, 13:21, 22.
3. Asa, 14:1 to 16:14.
a. Efforts against idolatry, 14:1–5.
b. Measures taken to strengthen the kingdom, 14:6–8.
c. Victory over Zerah the Ethiopian, 14:9–15.
d. The prophecy of Azariah, 15:1–7.
e. Asa’s work of reform, 15:8–19.
f. War with Baasha, 16:1–6.
g. Hanani rebukes Asa and is imprisoned, 16:7–10.
h. The close of Asa’s reign, 16:11–14.
4. Jehoshaphat, 17:1 to 21:3.
a. Jehoshaphat’s good deeds and prosperity, 17:1–12.
b. Jehoshaphat’s captains and armies, 17:13–19.
c. Alliance with Ahab and war against Syria, 18:1–34.
d. Jehoshaphat’s rebuke by Jehu, 19:1–3.
e. Jehoshaphat’s instructions to the judges and priests, 19:4–11.
f. Ammon, Moab, and Mt. Seir defeated, 20:1–30.
g. A survey of Jehoshaphat’s reign, 20:31 to 21:3.
5. Jehoram, 21:4–20.
a. Jehoram’s slaughter of his brethren, 21:4.
b. Jehoram’s evil ways and the revolt of Edom and Libnah, 21:5–11.
c. Divine judgments against Jehoram because of his evil ways, 21:12–20.
6. Ahaziah, 22:1–9.
7. Athaliah, 22:10 to 23:21.
a. Athaliah seizes the government, 22:10–12.
b. Jehoiada overthrows Athaliah and makes Joash king, 23:1–21.
8. Joash, 24:1–27.
a. The repair of the Temple, 24:1–14.
b. Death of Jehoiada and national apostasy, 24:15–22.
c. The Syrian invasion and the murder of Joash, 24:23–27.
9. Amaziah, 25:1–28.
a. Amaziah’s good beginning, 25:1–4.
b. Victory over Edom, 25:5–13.
c. Amaziah’s disastrous defeat by Jehoash of Israel, 25:14–24.
d. The close of Amaziah’s reign, 25:25–28.
10. Uzziah, 26:1–23.
a. Uzziah’s good deeds, 26:1–5.
b. Uzziah’s military prowess, 26:6–15.
c. Uzziah’s presumption and leprosy, 26:16–23.
11. Jotham, 27:1–9.
12. Ahaz, 28:1–27.
a. The wickedness of Ahaz, 28:1–4.
b. Ahaz delivered into the hands of Syria and Israel, 28:5–8.
c. The captives restored from Israel, 28:9–15.
d. Ahaz’s appeal to Assyria for help, 28:16–21.
e. Idolatry encouraged and the Temple closed, 28:22–27.
13. Hezekiah, 29:1 to 32:33.
a. Hezekiah’s cleansing and restoration of the Temple, 29:1–36.
b. Israel and Judah invited to the Passover, 30:1–12.
c. The celebration of the Passover, 30:13–27.
d. Hezekiah’s religious reformation, 31:1–21.
e. Sennacherib’s invasion, 32:1–23.
f. Hezekiah’s illness, pride, prosperity, and death, 32:24–33.
14. Manasseh, 33:1–20.
a. Manasseh’s encouragement of idolatry, 33:1–10.
b. His captivity and repentance, 33:11–20.
15. Amon, 33:21–25.
16. Josiah, 34:1 to 35:27.
a. Religious reformation, 34:1–7.
b. The Temple repaired, 34:8–13.
c. The book of the law found, 34:14–19.
d. Huldah’s prophecy, 34:20–28.
e. The reading of the law and the renewing of the covenant, 34:29–33.
f. The Passover observed, 35:1–19.
g. Josiah slain, 35:20–27.
17. Jehoahaz, 36:1–4.
18. Jehoiakim, 36:5–8.
19. Jehoiachin, 36:9, 10.
20. Zedekiah and the fall of Judah, 36:11–21.
a. Sin and rebellion, 36:11–13.
b. Transgression of rulers and people, 36:14–16.
c. Captivity to Babylon, 36:17–21.
E. Epilogue; the captivity ended by Cyrus, 36:22, 23.
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