The Books of I and II Chronicles, like Kings and Samuel, were originally one book. The Hebrew title for the book (“Dibre Hayyamim“) is often translated “The events (or annals) of the days.” We like the fact that the Septuagint calls it “the things omitted,” as that seems the very best description – for it contains much that Samuel and Kings do not. But the overriding message throughout the book is the faithfulness of God to his covenant with His people through the house of David.
1 Chronicles 3:17-24 contains the names of a list of descendants of David that is at least 5 generations beyond the exile, and so it seems reasonable to date the beginning of the writings to at least 400 B.C., and possibly a few decades afterward. With the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar, the Davidic kingdom was overthrown, and there was no longer a nation of Judah. Babylon, however, fell to the Persians in 538 B.C., and after the decree of Cyrus, the returning exiles (with much help from Ezra and Nehemiah) eventually got the temple rebuilt, as well as the walls around Jerusalem. But where did that leave God’s people if there was no more monarchy of David’s house? What was God’s plan, and where did that leave the covenant made to David in 2 Samuel 7?
This is the main purpose of the Book of Chronicles – to reinforce faith in the promise of the Davidic throne through a clear and precise record of the nation’s history from the perspective of the remnant of the southern kingdom and its rulers. As the book was written, a start in rebuilding had been made in the temple and in Jerusalem, but the people must not repeat the mistakes of the past. And so those who had not been there must learn all about it.
The genealogy of the first nine chapters of 1 Chronicles begins in verses 1-3 of chapter one – from Adam to Noah and his three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japeth. From here, it begins to read very much like what we know now as “The Table of Nations” in Genesis 10. Verses 5-24 give us the sons of each of Noah’s sons, etc. down to Abraham, and thus the names of nations – many of which are very familiar to us now through geography, history, and other biblical reference, such as Canaan, Egypt, Cush, and Uz (from Job).
Verses 28-54 give us the generations from Abraham to Jacob (Israel), but only Jacob’s brother Esau is the focus of the genealogical record from verse 35 onward in this chapter. Jacob’s descendants will be covered at great length beginning in chapter 2. These 29 verses are all devoted to the nation of Edom, which Esau fathered, many of which would be bitter enemies with Israel and Judah in times to come.
(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog. All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility. When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.