2 Chronicles

Books of Chronicles

The Books of Chronicles (Hebrew Divrei Hayyamim, דברי הימים, Greek Paraleipomêna) are part of the Hebrew Bible (Jewish Tanakh and Christian Old Testament). In the masoretic text, it appears as the first or last book of the Ketuvim (the latter arrangement also making it the final book of the Jewish bible). Chronicles largely parallels the Davidic narratives in the Books of Samuel and the Books of Kings. For this reason it is called "Supplements" in the Septuagint, where it appears in two parts (I & II Chronicles), immediately following 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings as a supplement to them. The division of Chronicles and its place in the Christian canon of the Old Testament are based upon the Septuagint.

The author of Chronicles, termed "the Chronicler," may also have written Ezra and Nehemiah. His work is an important source of information about Israel after the Babylonian exile.

Name

In Hebrew the book is called Divrei Hayyamim, (i.e. "matters [of] the days") based on the phrase sefer divrei ha-yamim le-malkhei Yehudah ("book of the days of the kings of Judah"), which appears several times in the Books of Kings.

In the Greek Septuagint (LXX), Chronicles bears the title Paraleipomêna, i.e., "things omitted," or "supplements," because it contains details not found in the Books of Samuel and the Books of Kings. Thus in the Douai Bible translation the books are accordingly styled the "Books of Paralipomenon."

Jerome, in the introduction to his Latin translation of the books of Samuel and Kings, (part of the Vulgate), referred to the book as a chronikon ("Chronicles" in English). The book itself is titled Paralipomena in the Vulgate.

Location

In the masoretic text, Chronicles is part of the third part of the Tanakh, namely Ketuvim ("Writings"). In most printed versions it is the last book in Ketuvim (following Ezra-Nehemiah). This order is based on medieval Ashkenazic manuscripts. The order of the books of Ketuvim given in the Talmud (Bava Batra 14b-15a), though it differs from the Ashkenazic order, also places Chronicles at the end of Ketuvim. In these traditions, Chronicles becomes the final book of the Bible. However, in early Tiberian manuscripts such as the Aleppo codex and the Leningrad codex, Chronicles is placed as the first book in Ketuvim, preceding Psalms.

The Jewish ordering of the canon suggests that Chronicles is a summary of the entire span of history to the time it was written. (This might also be the reason the Chronicler commences his genealogy with Adam.) Steven Tuell argues that having Chronicles as the last book in the canon is appropriate since it "attempts to distill and summarize the entire history of God's dealings with God's people."

In Christian Bibles, Chronicles I & II are part of the "historical" books of the Old Testament, following Kings and before Ezra. This order is based upon that found in the Septuagint, followed by the Vulgate, and relates to the view of Chronicles as "supplements" to Samuel and Kings.

Formal division

There is no internal evidence of a division into two parts in the structure and style of Chronicles. Chronicles is a single book in the Jewish (masoretic) textual tradition.

In the Septuagint, however, the book appears in two parts. Since Chronicles is one of the longer biblical books, its division into two halves may have served to allow it to be copied in manageably sized scrolls. The Septuagint's division of the book was followed in the Christian textual tradition, for translations of the Bible in manuscripts and later in printed bibles. Thus, in modern Christian bibles, Chronicles is usually published as two books: I Chronicles and II Chronicles.

The two-part division began to be noted in Hebrew Bibles in the 15th century, for reference purposes. Despite such notation, most modern editions of the Bible in Hebrew publish the two parts together as a single book.

Contextual division

Based on its contents, the book may be divided into four parts:

  1. The beginning of I Chronicles (chapters 1-10) mostly contains genealogical lists, concluding with the House of Saul and Saul's rejection by God, which sets the stage for the rise of David.
  2. The remainder of I Chronicles (chapters 11-29) is a history of David's reign.
  3. The beginning of II Chronicles (chapters 1-9) is a history of the reign of King Solomon, son of David.
  4. The remainder of II Chronicles (chapters 10-36) is a chronicle of the kings of Judah to the time of the Babylonian exile, and concluding with the call by Cyrus the Great for the exiles to return to their land.

However, it is also possible to divide the book into three parts rather than four by combining the sections treating David and Solomon, since they both ruled over a combined Judah and Israel, unlike the last section that contains the chronicle of the Davidic kings who ruled the Kingdom of Judah alone.

Authorship

Jewish tradition regards Ezra the scribe as the author of Chronicles, and there are many points of resemblance which seem to confirm this opinion: the conclusion of the one and the beginning of the other are almost identical in expression. J. N. Newsome, however, argues that the Chronicler's treatment of prophecy "betrays a difference of theological concern between Chronicles and Ezra-Nehemiah." [4]

Composition

The time of the composition of the Chronicles is believed to have been subsequent to the Babylonian captivity, possibly between 450 and 435 B.C., though Martin Noth was of the opinion that it dated from the 3rd century B.C.; and Gary Knoppers, while acknowledging that Chronicles theoretically could be written anywhere between 500 - 250 B.C., tends to see it as probably dating between 325 and 275 B.C.). The contents of Chronicles, both as to matter and form, correspond closely with this idea. The close of the book records the proclamation of Cyrus the Great permitting the Jews to return to their own land, and this forms the opening passage of the Book of Ezra, which is viewed as a continuation of the Chronicles, together with the Book of Nehemiah. The peculiar form of the language, being Hebrew in vocabulary but Aramaean in its general character, harmonizes also with that of the other books which were written after the Exile. The author was likely contemporary with Zerubbabel, details of whose family history are given (1 Chronicles 3:19).

Jewish tradition regards Ezra the scribe as the author of Chronicles, and there are many points of resemblance which seem to confirm this opinion: the conclusion of the one and the beginning of the other are almost identical in expression. J. N. Newsome, however, argues that the Chronicler's treatment of prophecy "betrays a difference of theological concern between Chronicles and Ezra-Nehemiah."

In its general scope and design Chronicles is not so much historical as didactic. The principal aim of the writer appears to be to present moral and religious truth. He does not give prominence to political occurrences, as is done in the books of Samuel and Kings, but to religious institutions, such as the details of the temple service. The genealogies were an important part of the public records of the Hebrew state. They were the basis on which the land was distributed and held, and by which the public services of the temple were arranged and conducted. The Chronicles are an epitome of the sacred history from the days of Adam down to the return from Babylonian exile, a period of about 3,500 years. The writer gathers up the threads of the old national life broken by the captivity.

The sources whence the chronicler compiled his work were public records, registers, and genealogical tables belonging to the Jews. These are referred to in the course of the book (1 Chr. 27:24; 29:29; 2 Chr. 9:29; 12:15; 13:22; 20:34; 24:27; 26:22; 32:32; 33:18, 19; 27:7; 35:25). There are in Chronicles, and the books of Samuel and Kings, forty parallels, often verbal, proving that the writer of Chronicles both knew and used those other books.

As compared with Samuel and Kings, the Book of Chronicles omits many particulars there recorded and includes many things not found in the other two documents. Often the Chronicles paint a somewhat more positive picture of the same events. This corresponds to their time of composition: Samuel and Kings were probably completed during the exile, at a time when the history of the newly wiped out Hebrew kingdoms was still fresh in the minds of the writers, a period largely considered a colossal failure. The Chronicles, on the other hand, were written much later, after the restoration of the Jewish community in Palestine, at a time when the kingdoms were beginning to be regarded as the nostalgic past, something to be at least partially imitated, not something to be avoided. Some scholars consider Samuel and Kings, which were written earlier, to provide a more reliable history than Chronicles.

Twenty whole chapters of the Chronicles, and twenty-four parts of chapters, are occupied with matters not found elsewhere. It also records many people and events in fuller detail, as the list of David's heroes (1 Chr. 12:1-37), the removal of the Ark of the Covenant from Kirjath-jearim to Mount Zion (1 Chr. 13; 15:2-24; 16:4-43; comp. 2 Sam. 6), Uzziah's tzaraas (commonly translated as "leprosy") and its cause (2 Chr. 26:16-21; comp. 2 Kings 15:5), etc.

It has also been observed that another peculiarity of the book is that it substitutes more modern and more common expressions for those that had then become unusual or obsolete. This is seen particularly in the substitution of modern names of places, such as were in use in the writer's day, for the old names; thus Gezer (1 Chr. 20:4) is used instead of Gob (2 Sam. 21:18), etc.

The Book of Chronicles is alluded to, though not directly quoted, in the New Testament (Hebrews 5:4; Matthew 12:42; 23:35; Luke 1:5; 11:31, 51).

See also

Notes

References

  • Avioz, Michael, Nathan's Oracle (2 Samuel 7)and Its Interpreters (Bern: Peter Lang, 2005)
  • Ben Zvi, Ehud, History, Literature, and Theology in the Book of Chronicles, London: Equinox, 2006
  • Japhet, Sara, I and II Chronicles: A Commentary, London: SCM Press, 1993
  • Kalimi, Isaac, The Reshaping of Ancient Israelite History in Chronicles, Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2005
  • Kelly, Brian E. Retribution and Eschatology in Chronicles, Sheffield Academic Press, 1996
  • Klein, Ralph W., 1 Chronicles: A Commentary, Philadelphia, Pa.: Fortress Press, 2006
  • Knoppers, Gary N., 1 Chronicles: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, New York, NY: Doubleday, 2004 (2 volumes)
  • McKenzie, Steven L., 1-2 Chronicles, Nashville, Tenn.: Abingdon, 2004

External links

Jewish translations

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