The old testament books of chronicles tell the stories of the kings of Judea. They were supposedly written by
Ezra the scribe and completed by
Nehemiah. Though probably based in
part on the parallel narrative in the book of Kings, they include historically verifiable references that are not in the
book of Kings ( see 1 Kings 1 and
2 Kings 1), including details about
Hezekiah's Tunnel, apparently drawing on other
sources or earlier versions of the book of Kings.
The books of chronicles may be viewed as an attempt to provide a historical narrative in contemporary style following
the return from Babylonian exile. They recapitulate all of history beginning with a genealogy from the time of Adam. The last part of the book of 2 Chronicles is repeated
in part in the Book of Ezra, giving rise
the theory that Ezra wrote the books of chronicles. However, the style of these books is different from the style of
Ezra, as is the theology. The books of Kings refer to the "Sefer Divraei Hayamim lemalchey Yehuda" (Res Gestae of the
kings of Judah) and
"Sefer Divraei Hayamim lemalchey Yehuda" (Res Gestae of the kings of Judah) and "Sefer Divraei Hayamim lemalchey Yisrael" (Res Gestae of the kings of
Israel), but the latter book was apparently lost, and the former may not have been the same as the "Chronicles" of the
Figure: David leading the Ark from Kiriat Yearim (Kirjathjearim):
1 Chronicles 13:5 So David gathered all Israel together, from Shihor of Egypt even unto the entering of Hemath, to bring the ark of God from Kirjathjearim.
1 Chronicles 13:6 And David went up, and all Israel, to Baalah, that is, to Kirjathjearim, which belonged to Judah, to bring up thence the ark of God the LORD, that dwelleth between the cherubims, whose name is called on it.
1 Chronicles 13:7 And they carried the ark of God in a new cart out of the house of Abinadab: and Uzza and Ahio drave the cart.
1 Chronicles 13:8 And David and all Israel played before God with all their might, and with singing, and with harps, and with psalteries, and with timbrels, and with cymbals, and with trumpets.
The last sentence of the book of Chronicles is almost identical to the first part of the second and third verses of
the book of Ezra:
2 Chronicles 36:23 Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given
me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which [is] in Judah. Who [is there] among you of all his
people? The LORD his God [be] with him, and let him go up.
Ezra 1:2 Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he
hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which [is] in Judah.
Ezra1:3 Who [is there] among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is
in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he [is] the God,) which [is] in Jerusalem.
Some people believe that the book of chronicles is therefore "incomplete." An alternative interpretation is that the
text concerning the building of the temple was added in the book of Ezra.
The chronicles were probably composed between 450 and 435 B.C. Martin Noth placed them in the 3rd century B.C.E. Gary
Knoppers gives probable dates of . 325 - 275 B.C.E.
The close of the chronicles records the proclamation of Cyrus the Great allowing 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 language is "modern" Hebrew, influences by Aramean. The author may have
been a contemporary of Zerubbavel, who returned to Judah in 538.
The Chronicles are didactic rather than historical. They are "edifying history." They include a lot of details of the
temple service, because the temple became more central in national life, since the Jews could not form an independent
state and were under Persian domination.
Some of the apparent sources of the Chronicles, registries and public records are referred to extensively (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 (1 Chr. 17:18; comp. 2 Samuel 7:18-20; 1 Chr. 19; comp. 2 Samuel 10, etc.).
Twenty chapters of the Chronicles, and twenty-four parts of chapters, describe events and issues that are not found
in other books of the Bible. It also records many people and events in fuller detail, such as the list of the heroes
(military men) of King David heroes (1 Chr. 12:1-37), the transfer of the ark of the covenant from Kiryath-yearim to
Mount Zion (1 Chr. 13; 15:2-24; 16:4-43; comp. 2 Sam. 6), King Uzziah's tzara'at (understood to be leprosy) and its
cause (2 Chr. 26:16-21; comp. 2 Kings 15:5), etc.
Figures of numbers of enemy warriors are often inflated in chronicles, as compared to the books of Kings, and archaic
place names may be modernized.