Book of Chronicles

the Books of Paralipomenon, הוא (Hebrew)

General Information

The two Books of Chronicles are the 13th and 14th books of the Old Testament in the Authorized Version of the Bible. The name Chronicles is a free rendering of the Hebrew title "events of past times." The author, known as the chronicler, is sometimes identified with Ezra. Those scholars who believe that Chronicles and Ezra And Nehemiah were written by a single author date the work in the period 400 - 250 BC; others date Chronicles as early as 515 - 500 BC. Chronicles recounts biblical history from Adam to Cyrus the Great (d. 529 BC), paralleling and often directly excerpting from Genesis through Kings, but with additional sources, frequent omissions, and different emphases. Extracts from Samuel and Kings, historical and legendary materials, sermons, oracles, and prayers are included in a genealogical framework.

The work focuses on David and Solomon as founders of the Temple and its priestly and musical orders. The departure of the northern kingdom of Israel from the Davidic dynasty is deplored, and the history of the southern kingdom of Judah is told with the intent of reuniting all Palestinian Jews in the purified temple worship at Jerusalem in postexilic times (after 537 BC). Chronicles gives a more flattering view of Judah's kings than do the books of Samuel and Kings, and it emphasizes the element of miraculous divine intervention in biblical history.

BELIEVE Religious Information Source - By Alphabet Our List of 2,300 Religious Subjects
Norman K Gottwald

J C Whitcomb, Solomon to the Exile: Studies in Kings and Chronicles (1971).

Books of Chronicles, the Books of Paralipomenon

Brief Outline

  1. Genealogies, to enable the Jews to establish their lines of family descent (1Chr. 1-9)
  2. The kingdom of David, as a pattern for the ideal theocratic state (1Chr. 10-29)
  3. The glory of Solomon (2Chr. 1-9)
  4. The history of the southern kingdom (2Chr. 10-36)

Books of Chronicles

Advanced Information

The two books were originally one. They bore the title in the Massoretic Hebrew Dibre hayyamim, i.e., "Acts of the Days." This title was rendered by Jerome in his Latin version "Chronicon," and hence "Chronicles." In the Septuagint version the book is divided into two, and bears the title Paraleipomena, i.e., "things omitted," or "supplements", because containing many things omitted in the Books of Kings. The contents of these books are comprehended under four heads. (1.) The first nine chapters of Book I. contain little more than a list of genealogies in the line of Israel down to the time of David. (2.) The remainder of the first book contains a history of the reign of David. (3.) The first nine chapters of Book II. contain the history of the reign of Solomon. (4.) The remaining chapters of the second book contain the history of the separate kingdom of Judah to the time of the return from Babylonian Exile.

The time of the composition of the Chronicles was, there is every ground to conclude, subsequent to the Babylonian Exile, probably between 450 and 435 B.C. The contents of this twofold book, both as to matter and form, correspond closely with this idea. The close of the book records the proclamation of Cyrus permitting the Jews to return to their own land, and this forms the opening passage of the Book of Ezra, which must be viewed as a continuation of the Chronicles. The peculiar form of the language, being Aramaean in its general character, harmonizes also with that of the books which were written after the Exile. The author was certainly contemporary with Zerubbabel, details of whose family history are given (1 Chr. 3:19).

The time of the composition being determined, the question of the authorship may be more easily decided. According to Jewish tradition, which was universally received down to the middle of the seventeenth century, Ezra was regarded as the author of the Chronicles. There are many points of resemblance and of contact between the Chronicles and the Book of Ezra which seem to confirm this opinion. The conclusion of the one and the beginning of the other are almost identical in expression. In their spirit and characteristics they are the same, showing thus also an identity of authorship. In their general scope and design these books are 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 occurences, as is done in Samuel and Kings, but to ecclesiastical institutions. "The genealogies, so uninteresting to most modern readers, were really an important part of the public records of the Hebrew state. They were the basis on which not only the land was distributed and held, but the public services of the temple were arranged and conducted, the Levites and their descendants alone, as is well known, being entitled and first fruits set apart for that purpose." 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 both knew and used these records (1 Chr. 17:18; comp. 2 Sam. 7:18-20; 1 Chr. 19; comp. 2 Sam. 10, etc.). As compared with Samuel and Kings, the Book of Chronicles omits many particulars there recorded (2 Sam. 6:20-23; 9; 11; 14-19, etc.), and includes many things peculiar to itself (1 Chr. 12; 22; 23-26; 27; 28; 29, etc.). Twenty whole chapters, and twenty-four parts of chapters, are occupied with matter not found elsewhere. It also records many things in fuller detail, as (e.g.) the list of David's heroes (1 Chr. 12:1-37), the removal of the ark from Kirjath-jearim to Mount Zion (1 Chr. 13; 15:2-24; 16:4-43; comp. 2 Sam. 6), Uzziah's 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 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 Books of Chronicles are ranked among the khethubim or hagiographa. They are alluded to, though not directly quoted, in the New Testament (Heb. 5:4; Matt. 12:42; 23:35; Luke 1:5; 11:31, 51).

(Easton Illustrated Dictionary)


General Information

Chronicles are the words of the days, (1 Kings 14:19; 1 Chr. 27:24), the daily or yearly records of the transactions of the kingdom; events recorded in the order of time.

(Easton Illustrated Dictionary)

Chronicles of King David

Advanced Information

(1 Chr. 27:24) were statistical state records; one of the public sources from which the compiler of the Books of Chronicles derived information on various public matters.

(Easton Illustrated Dictionary)

The Books of Paralipomenon (Chronicles)

Catholic Information

(Paraleipomenon; Libri Paralipomenon).

Two books of the Bible containing a summary of sacred history from Adam to the end of the Captivity. The title Paralipomenon, books "of things passed over", which, from the Septuagint, passed into the old Latin Bible and thence into the Vulgate, is commonly taken to imply that they supplement the narrative of the Books of Kings (otherwise known as I-II Samuel and I-II Kings); but this explanation is hardly supported by the contents of the books, and does not account for the present participle. The view of St. Jerome, who considers Paralipomenon as equivalent to "epitome of the Old Testament", is probably the true one. The title would accordingly denote that many things are passed over in these books. The Hebrew title is Dibhere Hayyamim, "the acts of the days" or "annals". In the Protestant, printed Hebrew, and many Catholic bibles, they are entitled "Books of Chronicles".


The two books are really one work, and are treated as one in the Hebrew manuscripts and in the Massoretic summary appended to the second book. The division was first made in the Septuagint for the sake of convenience, and thence was adopted into the Latin Bibles. The Hebrew text was first divided in Bomberg's edition of the rabbinical Bible (Venice, 1516-7). Moreover, there is a probability that Paralipomenon originally formed part of a larger work which included the two Books of Esdras (Esdras Nehemias). For not only is there similarity of diction and style, of spirit and method, but I Esdras begins where II Paralipomenon ends, the decree of Cyrus being repeated and completed. It should be remarked, however, that these facts can be explained by simple community of authorship. In the Septuagint and Vulgate, as well as in the Protestant bibles, the Books of Paralipomenon are placed immediately after the Books of Kings. In the printed edition of the Hebrew Bible they stand at the end of the third division, or Kethubhim.


The first part of I Paralipomenon (i-ix), which is a sort of introduction to the rest of the work, contains a series of genealogical and statistical lists, interspersed with short historical notes. It comprises: (1) the genealogy of the patriarchs from Adam to Jacob (i); (2) the genealogy of the twelve tribes (ii-viii); (3) a list of the families of Juda, Benjamin, and Levi dwelling in Jerusalem after the Exile, with the genealogy of the family of Saul repeated (ix). The second part of I Paralipomenon contains the history of the reign of David preceded by the account of the death of Saul (x-xxix). II Paralipomenon comprises the reign of Solomon (i-ix), and the reigns of the kings of Juda (x-xxxvi, 21). Part of the edict of Cyrus allowing the Jews to return and to rebuild the temple is added as a conclusion (xxxvi, 22-23). The historical part of Paralipomenon thus covers the same period as the last three Books of Kings. Hence naturally much of the matter is the same in both; often, indeed, the two narratives not only agree in the facts they relate, but describe them almost in the same words. The Books of Paralipomenon also agree with the Books of Kings in plan and general arrangement. But side by side with these agreements there are many differences. The Books of Paralipomenon narrate some events more briefly. or present them in a different manner, and omit others altogether (e.g., the adultery of David, the violation of Thamar, the murder of Amnon, and the rebellion of Absalom), while they dwell more on facts regarding the temple, its worship and its ministers, furnishing much information on these subjects which is not found in the other books. Moreover, they ignore the northern kingdom except where the history of Juda requires mention of it.


On comparing Paralipomenon with the Books of Kings we are forced to the conclusion that the writer's purpose was not to supplement the omissions of these latter books. The objects of his interest are the temple and its worship, and he intends primarily to write the religious history of Juda with the temple as its centre, and, as intimately connected with it, the history of the house of David. This clearly appears when we consider what he mentions and what he omits. Of Saul he narrates only his death as an introduction to the reign of David. In the history of David's reign he gives a full account of the translation of the ark to Mount Sion, of the preparations for the building of the temple, and of the levitical families and their offices; the wars and the other events of the reign he either tells briefly, or passes over altogether. Solomon's reign is almost reduced to the account of the building and the dedication of the temple. After the disruption of the kingdom the apostate tribes are hardly mentioned, while the reigns of the pious kings, Asa, Josaphat, Joas, Ezechias, and Josias, who brought about a revival of religion and showed great zeal for the temple and its worship, are specially dwelt on. Again, the additions to the narrative of the Books of Kings in most cases refer to the temple, its worship and its ministers. Nor is the decree of Cyrus allowing the rebuilding of the temple without significance. The same purpose may be noted in the genealogical section, where the tribes of Juda and Levi are given special prominence and have their genealogies continued beyond the Exile. The author, however, writes his history with a practical object in view. He wishes to urge the people to a faithful and exact adherence to the worship of God in the restored temple, and to impress upon them that thus only will the community deserve God's blessings and protection. Hence he places before them the example of the past, especially of the pious kings who were distinguished for their zeal in building the temple or in promoting the splendour of its worship. Hence, too, he takes every occasion to show that the kings, and with them the people, prospered or were delivered from great calamities because of their attachment to God's worship, or experienced misfortune because of their unfaithfulness. The frequent mention of the Levites and of their offices was probably intended to induce them to value their calling and to carry out faithfully their duties.


The Books of Paralipomenon were undoubtedly written after the Restoration. For the genealogy of the house of David is carried beyond Zorobabel (1 Chronicles 3:19-24), and the very decree of Cyrus allowing the return is cited. Moreover, the value of the sums collected by David for the building of the temple is expressed in darics (1 Chronicles 29:7, Heb.), which were not current in Palestine till the time of the Persian domination. The peculiarities of style and diction also point to a time later than the Captivity. The older writers generally attributed the authorship to Esdras. Most modern non-Catholic scholars attribute the work to an unknown writer and place its date between 300 and 250 B. C. The main reasons for this late date are that the descendants of Zorobabel are given to the sixth (in the Septuagint and the Vulgate to the eleventh) generation, and that in II Esdras (xii, 10, 11, 22) the list of the high-priests extends to Jeddoa, who, according to Josephus, held the pontificate in the time of Alexander the Great. These lists, however, show signs of having been brought up to date by a later hand and cannot, therefore, be considered as decisive. On the other hand, a writer living in Greek times would not be likely to express the value of ancient money in darics. Moreover, a work written for the purpose mentioned above would be more in place in the time immediately following the Restoration, while the position and character of Esdras would point him out as its author. Hence most Catholic authors still adhere to Esdrine authorship, and place the time of composition at the end of the fifth or at the beginning of the fourth century B. C.


The reliability of the Books of Paralipomenon as a historical work has been severely attacked by such critics as de Wette, Wellhausen etc. The author is accused of exaggeration, of misrepresenting facts, and even of appealing to imaginary documents. This harsh judgment has been considerably mitigated by more recent writers of the same school, who, while admitting errors, absolve the author of intentional misrepresentation. The objections urged against the books cannot be examined here in detail; a few general remarks in vindication of their truthfulness must suffice. In the first place, the books have suffered at the hands of copyists; textual errors in names and in numbers, which latter originally were only indicated by letters, are especially numerous. Gross exaggerations, such as the slaying of 7000 charioteers (1 Chronicles 19:18) as against 700 in 2 Samuel 10:18 and the impossibly large armies mentioned in 2 Chronicles 13:3, are plainly to be attributed to this cause. In the next place, if the sections common to Paralipomenon and the Books of Kings are compared, substantial agreement is found to exist between them. If the author, then, reproduces his sources with substantial accuracy in the cases where his statements can be controlled by comparing them with those of another writer who has used the same documents, there is no reason to suspect that he acted differently in the case of other sources. His custom of referring his readers to the documents from which he has drawn his information should leave no doubt on the subject. In the third place, the omission of the facts not to the credit of the pious kings (e.g. the adultery of David) is due to the object which the author has in view, and proves no more against his truthfulness than the omission of the history of the northern tribes. He did not intend to write a full history of the kings of Juda, but a history for the purpose of edification. Hence, in speaking of the kings whom he proposes as models, he naturally omits details which are not edifying. Such a presentation, while one-sided, is no more untruthful than a panegyric in which the foibles of the subject are passed over. The picture is correct as far as it goes, only it is not complete.

Publication information Written by F. Bechtel. Transcribed by Sean Hyland. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XI. Published 1911. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York

Book of Chronicles

Jewish Perspective Information


-Biblical Data:

-In Rabbinical Literature:


-Critical View.

Authorship and Date.

-Biblical Data:

The two books of Chronicles form a history of the Temple and its priesthood, and of the house of David and the tribe of Judah, as guardians of the Temple, with references to the other tribes, and with some connected material. The contents may be briefly summarized as follows:

(a) I Chron. i-ix. contain chiefly genealogies, from Adam, through Noah's sons, and then particularly through the line of Shem to Esau and Israel and their descendants. The last twelve verses of ch. i. contain a list of Edomitish kings and chiefs. Brief narratives from various periods are interspersed among the genealogies (e.g., ii. 23; iv. 9, 10, 39-43; v. 9, 10, 18-22, 25, 26). The last genealogy in this collection, ix. 35-44, that of Saul's family, forms a kind of transition to the following section.

(b) I Chron. x.-xxix. This section is concerned with David's reign, the introduction being the last battle and the death of Saul (x. 1-12, parallel to I Sam. xxxi. 1-13), and the conclusion, the accession of Solomon (xxiii. 1; xxviii. 5 et seq.; xxix. 22 et seq.).

(c) II Chron. i.-ix. is devoted to Solomon's reign. The first chapter speaks of his sacrifice at Gibeon (vs. 1-13) and Solomon's splendor (vs. 14-17). The building of the Temple is described in ch. ii.-iv., and its dedication in v. 1-14. The following chapters speak of Solomon's prayer, vision, sacrifices, glory, and in ix. 31 the death of Solomon is mentioned.

(d) II Chron. x.-xxxvi. contains the history of the kingdom of Judah down to the fall of Jerusalem, with the division of the kingdoms as preface, and the restoration-edict of Cyrus as appendix (viz., x. 1-19, accession of Rehoboam and division of the kingdom; xi. xii., Rehoboam; xiii. 1-22, Abijah; xiv.-xvi., Asa; xvii.-xx., Jehoshaphat; xxi., Jehoram;xxii. 1-9, Ahaziah; xxii. 10-12, xxiii., Athaliah; xxiv., Joash; xxv., Amaziah; xxvi., Uzziah; xxvii., Jotham; xxviii., Ahaz; xxix-xxxii., Hezekiah; xxxiii. 1-20, Manasseh; xxxiii. 21-25, Amon; xxxiv., xxxv., Josiah; xxxvi. 1-3, Jehoahaz; xxxvi. 4-8, Jehoiakim; xxxvi. 9, 10, Jehoiachin; xxxvi. 11-13, Zedekiah; xxxvi. 17-21, fall of Jerusalem; xxxvi. 22, 23, restoration-edict of Cyrus.

-In Rabbinical Literature:

Rabbinical literature does not recognize the division of Chronicles into two books. In B. B. 15a it is named as one ), and the Masorah counts the verse I Chron. xxvii. 25 as the middle of the book. Tradition regards this one book as consisting of two unequal parts; viz., (1) lists largely of a genealogical nature with brief historical details; and (2) an extensive history of the kings in Jerusalem. The authorship of the first part, which is designated "Yaḥas" ( = "genealogy") of the "Dibre ha-Yamim" is ascribed to Ezra (B. B. 15a). In Pes. 62b this part is connected with a Midrash and quoted as ("Book of the Descents"); while Rashi names the Midrash (), "Mishnah of Dibre ha-Yamim," etc., which, according to him, contained expositions of certain passages of the Torah. This part was not to be explained to the men of Lud nor to those of Nehardea, for reasons not stated; perhaps it was feared that these interpretations might meet with irreverence.

On the whole, Chronicles was regarded with suspicion; its historical accuracy was doubted by the Talmudic authorities, it being held to be a book for homiletic interpretation, (Lev. R. i. 3; Ruth R. ii., beginning; compare Meg. 13a). The names were treated with great freedom; and many which clearly belonged to different persons were declared to indicate one and the same man or woman (Soṭah 12a; Ex. R. i. 17, et passim). Numerous as these fanciful interpretations of verses in Chronicles are in Talmudic-Midrashic literature, the loss of many similar expositions was deplored (Pes. 62b). E. G. H.


-Critical View.

-I. Position in Old Testament Literature: Chronicles, which in the Hebrew canon consists of a single book, is called in the Hebrew Bible ("Annals"); in the LXX.-Codex B, παραλειπομέω ("of things left out"); Codex A adds (τῶ) βασιλέω ιοδà ("concerning the kings of Judah"); i.e., a supplement to the Book of Kings; in the Vulgate, Liber Primus (and Secundus) "Paralipomenon." The modern title "Chronicles" was suggested by Jerome's speaking of the book in his "Prologus Galeatus" as "Chronicon totius divinæ historiæ." The book belongs to the Hagiographa, or "Ketubim," the third and latest-formed section of the Hebrew canon. The view that its canonicity was matter of discussion among the Jews seems to rest on insufficient evidence (Buhl, "Kanon und Text des A. T." Eng. ed., p. 31). In Hebrew lists, manuscripts, and printed Bibles, Chronicles is placed either first (Western or Palestinian practise, as in the St. Petersburg Codex), or last (Eastern or Babylonian, as in the Babylonian Talmud); see Ginsburg, "Introduction," pp. 1-8. In Greek and Latin lists, and in manuscripts and editions of the LXX. and Vulgate, Chronicles usually follows Kings; the exceptions are more numerous in the Latin lists (Swete, "The Old Testament in Greek According to the Septuagint," Introduction, pp. 201-230). Chronicles, originally a single work, is first found divided into two books in Codices A and B of the LXX., which were followed by subsequent versions, and ultimately by printed editions of the Hebrew text. It is part of a larger work, Chronicles-Ezra-Nehemiah, composed (see Section II.) in the Greek period between the death of Alexander (B.C. 323) and the revolt of the Maccabees (B.C. 167). It expresses the piety of the Temple community, and their interest in its services and history. They felt that the services had reached an ideal perfection, and were led to think of the "good kings" as having shaped their religious policy according to this ideal. Probably the author of Chronicles did not intend to supersede Samuel and Kings. There are slight traces of Chronicles in Ecclesiasticus (Sirach), (e.g., xlvii. 8 et seq.; compare I Chron. xxv.); perhaps also in Philo (see Ryle, "Philo and Holy Scriptures," pp. 286 et seq.), and in the N. T. (for example, compare II Chron. xxiv. 21 with Matt. xxiii. 35). The references to Samuel-Kings are more numerous. The omission (see Swete, l.c. p. 227) of Chronicles from some Christian lists of canonical books is probably accidental.

Authorship and Date.

II. Composition:

(a) Relation to Ezra-Nehemiah. Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah were originally a single work. This is shown by the identity of style, theological standpoint, and ecclesiastical interests, as well as by the fact that Chronicles concludes with a portion of a paragraph (II Chron. xxxvi. 22, 23) which is repeated and completed in Ezra i. 1-4. Comparison shows that Chronicles ends in the middle of a sentence. The division of the original work arose from the diverse nature of its contents: Chronicles was merely a less interesting edition of Samuel-Kings; but Ezra-Nehemiah contained history not otherwise accessible. Hence readers desired Ezra-Nehemiah alone; and Chronicles (from its position in many manuscripts, etc., after Nehemiah) only obtained its place in the canon by an afterthought.

(b) Author. The author's name is unknown; the ascription by some Peshiṭta manuscripts to "Johanan the priest," perhaps the Johanan of Neh. xii. 23 (Barnes, "Chronicles," p. xii., in "Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges"; idem, "An Apparatus Criticus to Chronicles in the Peshiṭta Version," p. 1), can have no weight. From the keen interest shown in the inferior officials of the Temple, especially the singers, the author seems to have been a Levite, possibly one of the Temple choir.

(c) Date. Chronicles-Ezra-Nehemiah must be later than the times of Ezra and Nehemiah (458-432). In style and language the book belongs to the latest period of Biblical Hebrew. The descendants of Zerubbabel (I Chron. iii. 24) are given, in the Masoretic text, to the sixth generation (about B.C. 350); in the LXX., Syriac, and Vulgate, to the eleventh generation after Zerubbabel (about B.C. 200). The list of high priests in Neh. xii. 10, 11, extends to Jaddua (c. 330). These lists might, indeed, have beenmade up to date after the book was completed; but other considerations point conclusively to the Greek period; e.g., in Ezra vi. 22, Darius is called "the king of Assyria." On the other hand, the use of the book in Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) referred to above, the absence of any trace of the Maccabean struggle, and the use of the LXX. Chronicles by Eupolemus (c. B.C. 150; see Swete, l.c. p. 24), point to a date not later than B.C. 200. Hence Chronicles is usually assigned to the period B.C. 300-250.

see I Chronicles.

see II Chronicles.

(d) Sources. Chronicles contains (see Section I.) much material found, often word for word, in other books of the Bible, and has also frequent references to other authorities. In regard to these sources, the contents may be classified thus: (A) passages taken from other O. T. books, with textual or editorial changes, the latter sometimes important; (B) passages based upon sections of other O. T. books, largely recast; (C) passages supposed on internal evidence to have been taken from or based on ancient sources, no longer extant and not much later than the close of the Exile, and in some cases perhaps earlier (see classification, p. 62); (D) passages supposed on internal evidence to be the work of latepost-exilic writers (compare ib.). In the preceding table space prevents the presentation of details. In C and D, Kittel's analysis in "S. B. O. T." is mostly followed, but not in all details, nor in his separation of the D material into various strata. Small portions from extant books embedded in B, C, and D are not indicated. The non-Biblical sources may be classified thus:

(1) An earlier historical work cited as: "The Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel" (II Chron. xvi. 11, xxv. 26, xxviii. 26); "The Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah" (ib. xxvii. 7, xxxv. 26); "The Acts of the Kings of Israel" (ib. xxxiii. 18); and perhaps also as "The Midrash of the Book of Kings" (ib. xxiv. 27).

(2) Sections of a similar history of David and Solomon (unless these references are to that portion of the former work which dealt with these kings), cited as: "The Words of Samuel the Seer" (I Chron. xxix. 29); "The Words of Nathan the Prophet" (ib.; II Chron. ix. 29); and "The Words of Gad the Seer" (I Chron. xxix. 29).

(3) Sections of "The Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah," and possibly of other similar works, cited as: "The Words of Shemaiah the Prophet and of Iddo the Seer" (II Chron. xii. 15); "The Words of Jehu the Son of Hanani" (ib. xx. 34); "The Words of the Seers" (LXX., R. V., margin); "of his Seers" ("S. B. O. T."); "of Hozai" (II Chron. xxxiii. 19-20, R. V.); "The Vision of Iddo the Seer" (ib. ix. 29); "The Vision of Isaiah the Prophet" (ib. xxxii. 32); "The Midrash of the Prophet Iddo (ib. xiii. 22); "The Acts of Uzziah, Written by Isaiah the Prophet" (ib. xxvi. 22); and "The Prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite" (ib. ix. 29).

In the absence of numbered divisions like the present chapters and verses, portions of the work are indicated by the name of the prophet who figures in it-probably because the Prophets were supposed to have been the annalists (ib. xxvi. 22). Thus, "the Vision of Isaiah" is said to be in "The Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel"; and "the Words of Jehu the son of Hanani," inserted in "The Book of the Kings of Israel."

Thus the main source of Chronicles seems to have been a late post-exilic Midrashic history of the kings of Judah and Israel. Possibly, this had been divided into histories of David and Solomon, and of the later kings. The author may also have used a collection of genealogies; and perhaps additions were made to the book after it was substantially complete. In dealing with matter not found in other books it is difficult to distinguish between matter which the chronicler found in his source, matter which he added himself, and later additions, as all the authors concerned wrote in the same spirit and style; but it may perhaps be concluded that details about Levites, porters, and singers are the work of the chronicler (compare Section III. of this article).

III. Relationship to Samuel-Kings:

(a) Comparison of Contents. Chronicles omits most of the material relating to Saul and the northern kingdom, including the accounts of Samuel, Elijah, and Elisha, and most of what is to the discredit of the "good kings"; e.g., the story of Bathsheba. Chronicles adds (see table, B and D) long accounts of the Temple, its priests and its services, and of the observance of the Pentateuchal laws; also records of sins which account for the misfortunes of "good kings"-e.g., the apostasy of Joash (II Chron. xxiv.); of the misfortunes which punished the sins of "bad kings"-e.g., the invasions in the reign of Ahaz (ib. xxviii.); and of the repentance which resulted in the long reign of Manasseh (ib. xxxiii.); besides numerous genealogies and statistics. Chronicles has numerous other alterations tending, like the additions and omissions, to show that the "good kings" observed the law of Moses, and were righteous and prosperous (compare ib. viii. 2 and I Kings ix. 10, 11; see also below).

(b) Literary Connection. It might seem natural to identify the main source of Chronicles with Samuel-Kings, or with "The Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel" and "The Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah," frequently referred to in Kings. But the principal source can not have been Kings, because "The Book of the Kings" is sometimes said to contain material not in Kings-e.g., the wars of Jotham (II Chron. xxvii. 7); neither can it have been the "Chronicles" cited in Kings, because it is styled "Midrash" (A. V., "story"; R. V., "commentary"), which was a late form of Jewish literature (II Chron. xiii. 22, xxiv. 27). This main source, "The Book of the Kings," is therefore commonly supposed (see II. d) to have been a postexilic work similar in style and spirit to Chronicles. The relation of this source to Kings is difficult to determine. It is clear that Chronicles contains matter taken either directly or indirectly from Kings, because it includes verses inserted by the editor of Kings (compare II Chron. xiv. 1, 2 and I Kings xv. 8, 11). Either Chronicles used Kings and "The Book of the Kings," both of which works used the older "Chronicles" (so Driver, "Introduction to the Literature of the O. T." 6th ed., p. 532), or Chronicles used "The Book of the Kings," which had used both Kings and the older "Chronicles," or works based on them.

(c) Text. It is not always possible to distinguish minor editorial changes from textual errors; but, when the former have been eliminated, Chronicles presents an alternative text for the passages common to it and Samuel-Kings. As in the case of two manuscripts, sometimes the one text, sometimes the other, is correct. For example, I Chron. xviii. 3 has, wrongly, "Hadarezer," where II Sam. viii. 3 has "Hadadezer"; but conversely I Chron. xvii. 6 has, rightly, "judges," where II Sam. vii. 7 has "tribes."

IV. Historical Value:

(a) Omissions. Almost all these are explained by the chronicler's anxiety to edify his readers (compare Section III. a); and they in no way discredit the narratives omitted.

(b) Contradictions. Where Chronicles contradicts Samuel-Kings preference must be given to the older work, except where the text of the latter is clearly corrupt. With the same exception, it may be assumed that sections of the primitive "Chronicles" are much more accurately preserved in Samuel-Kings than in Chronicles.

(c) Additions. The passages which describe theTemple ritual and priesthood and the observance of the Pentateuchal law before the Exile are a translation of ancient history into the terms of the chronicler's own experience. The prophetical admonitions and other speeches are the chronicler's exposition of the religious significance of past history according to a familiar convention of ancient literature. Such material is most valuable: it gives unique information as to the Temple and the religious ideas of the early Greek period. Most of the material included under C in Section II. d, above has apparently been borrowed from an older source, and may constitute an addition to present knowledge of pre-exilic Israelitish history. The religious and other interests of the chronicler and his main source do not seem to account for the origin of the genealogies, statistics, accounts of buildings, etc., in C. The character of another set of additions is not so clear; viz., Abijah's victory (II Chron. xiii.), Zerah's invasion (ib. xiv., xv.), and Manasseh's captivity (ib. xxxiii.). However little the chronicler may have cared about writing scientific history, the fact that he narrates an incident not mentioned elsewhere does not prove it to be imaginary. Kings is fragmentary; and its editors had views as to edification different from those of the chronicler (see Judges), which might lead them to omit what their successor would restore. Driver and others hold that Chronicles is connected with early sources by another line than that through Kings (note also C, Section II. d). Hence the silence of Kings is not conclusive against these additions. Nevertheless, such narratives, in the present state of knowledge, rest on the unsupported testimony of a very late and uncritical authority. Much turns on internal evidence, which has been very variously interpreted. Some recognize a historical basis for these narratives (W. E. Barnes, in "Cambridge Bible," pp. xxx. et seq.; A. H. Sayce, "The Higher Criticism and the Verdict of the Monuments," p. 465); others regard them as wholly unhistorical (see "Chronicles, Books of," in "Encyc. Bibl."). As to Chronicles in general, Professor Sayce writes (l.c. p. 464): "The consistent exaggeration of numbers on the part of the chronicler shows us that from a historical point of view his unsupported statements must be received with caution. But they do not justify the accusations of deliberate fraud and 'fiction' which have been brought against him. What they prove is that he did not possess that sense of historical exactitude which we now demand from the historian."

Emil G. Hirsch W. H. Bennett

Jewish Encyclopedia, published between 1901-1906.


R. Kittel, The Books of Chronicles in Hebrew, in S. B. O. T. ed. Haupt, 1895; W. H. Bennett, The Books of Chronicles, in The Expositor's Bible, 1894; F. Brown, Chronicles, I. and II., in Hastings, Dict. Bible, 1898; S. R. Driver, Chronicles, Books of, in Cheyne and Black, Encyc. Bibl. 1899.E. G. H. W. H. B.

The individual articles presented here were generally first published in the early 1980s. This subject presentation was first placed on the Internet in May 1997.

This page - - - - is at
This subject presentation was last updated on - -

Copyright Information

Send an e-mail question or comment to us: E-mail

The main BELIEVE web-page (and the index to subjects) is at: BELIEVE Religious Information Source - By Alphabet