1 Chronicles Introduction
In the Hebrew Bible the First and Second Books of Chronicles were a single scroll or book called Chronicles. But as with the books of Samuel and Kings, this book was split into two parts in the Greek Septuagint Bible. The Latin Vulgate Bible, and the KJV in its time, followed the same practice. In the Hebrew Bible Chronicles is the final book. Since it was one of the latest written and one of the last accepted as canonical, that location is not surprising. The concluding chapter of Chronicles ends on a hopeful note, with the decree of Cyrus the Great ending the Exile and allowing Judeans to return home to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. The Christian Old Testament follows the ancient decision of the Greek Septuagint Bible in relocating the two books of Chronicles to a position with the other historical writings, right after the books of Samuel and Kings, because those who reordered the books in the Septuagint thought of the work of the Chronicler (as the author/compiler of Chronicles is sometimes called) as a “supplement” to the earlier historical books. What the Chronicler has written is actually a much later retelling of the history recorded in the earlier histories. The first nine chapters in 1 Chronicles assemble genealogies from the time of Adam and lists of tribal constituencies. There is no narrative here, but at the very end of chapter 9, a list of returnees from the Babylonian Exile points to one of the Chronicler's key messages—the continuing covenant relationship between the people and God that will not be broken, even by catastrophes like exile. The actual narrative begins in chapter 10 with the death of King Saul and the ascent of David to the Israelite throne.
The remainder of 1 Chronicles deals with the reign of David, with much attention to his plans and preparations for a temple in Jerusalem. David is clearly the central figure for the Chronicler but Israel's great king is presented much differently here than in the much more candid earlier accounts found in 2 Samuel. In 1 Chronicles David has no flaws; even his disastrous ethical lapse with Bathsheba is omitted. The Chronicler wants to show the continuing significance of the Davidic dynasty, of the temple, and of the need to continue to worship and serve God in the traditional ways that go back to David. The Exile was truly a long and tragic time of suffering and dislocation, but for the Chronicler it was only a minor disruption in the long and continuing history of God's covenant people. At this late stage of writing (post-Exile), with hopes rising for a new “son of David,” the Chronicler has carefully polished the image of King David. The Chronicler's chief purpose in this re-telling of the Israelite history is to demonstrate that the Jerusalem community now being rebuilt after the Exile is the legitimate successor of the Davidic dynasty.
From Adam to the Exiles' Return (1.1—9.34)
Saul's Family Line and His Death in Battle (9.35—10.14)
David's Reign and Plans for the Temple (11.1—29.30)

King James Version 1611, spelling, punctuation and text formatting modernized by ABS in 1962; typesetting © 2010 American Bible Society.

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