CHRONICLES, BOOK OF


CHRONICLES, BOOK OF, one of the books of the Hagiographa section of the Bible. In the printed Jewish editions of the Bible, it appears last. In Christian Bibles Chronicles follows II Kings and precedes Ezra.

Book of Chronicles  Contents Book of Chronicles – Contents

I Chron 1:1 – 9:44 An Introduction.
1:1–54 A collection of genealogical lists.
2:1–9:1 Various lists of the Israelite tribes.
9:2–18 A list of the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
9:19–34 Detailed list of the Levitical functionaries.
9:35–44 A list of the inhabitants of Gibeon.
I Chron. 10:1–11 Chron. 9:31 The monarchy under David and Solomon
Chron. 10:1–29:30 David.
II Chron. 1:1–9:31 Solomon.
II Chron. 10:1–36:23 History of the kings of Judah.
10:1–12:16 The reign of Rehoboam.
13:1–23 The reign of Abijah.
14:1–16:14 The reign of Asa.
17:1–20:37 The reign of Jehoshaphat.
21:1–20 The reign of Jehoram.
22:1–9 The reign of Ahaziah.
22:10–23:21 The reign of Athaliah.
24:1–27 The reign of Joash.
25:1–28 The reign of Amaziah.
26:1–23 The reign of Uzziah.
27:1–9 The reign of Jotham.
28:1–27 The reign of Ahaz.
29:1–32:33 The reign of Hezekiah.
33:1–20 The reign of Manasseh.
33:21–25 The reign of Amon.
34:1–35:27 The reign of Josiah.
36:1–4 The reign of Jehoahaz.
36:5–8 The reign of Jehoiakim.
36:9–10 The reign of Jehoiachin.
36:11–21 The reign of Zedekiah.
36:22–23 The decree of Cyrus.

Name of the Book and Its Place in the Canon

The work was first referred to as "boke of the Chronicles" by Miles Coverdale in 1535. The traditional Hebrew name Divrei ha-Yamim is apparently ancient and usually means "the events / narrative accounts of the times." It occurs in the Bible as the appellation of several books, generally with the addition of the subject described: "the book of the narrative accounts of the kings of Israel" (e.g., I Kings 14:19); "the book of the narrative accounts of the kings of Judah" (e.g., I Kings 14:29); "the book of the narrative accounts of the kings of Media and Persia" (e.g., Esth. 10:2); "the narrative account of King David" (I Chron. 27:24). However, twice (Esth. 2:23; Neh. 12:23) divrei ha-yamim is best translated as "chronicles," i.e., a continuous register of events without regard for literary style. Canonical Chronicles contains both kinds of divrei ha-yamim.

Chronicles is mentioned by name in the Mishnah as one of the books read before the high priest on the eve of the Day of Atonement to prevent him from falling asleep and becoming disqualified (Yoma 1:6), and in the baraita (non-canonical mishnah) on the order of the books in the Canon (BB 14b–15a). The amoraim of the first talmudic generation said of it that "the Book of Chronicles was only to be expounded midrashically" (Lev. R. 1:3). In the Septuagint the book is called paraleipomenōn, meaning "[the book] of things omitted," alluding to the nature of the book according to the view of the translators, i.e., as a supplement to other biblical books. The Vulgate used the same name, paralipomenon, but following a comment by Jerome, the name chronicon also came into use and was accepted in this form, or in forms derived from it, in most translations of the Bible. In the baraita (see above), the Book of Chronicles appears at the end of the Writings, which is also the place it occupies in a large number of manuscripts and printed editions. In other manuscripts, however (including the Aleppo Codex and Leningrad Ms.), Chronicles appears at the beginning of the Writings. According to the book ʿAdat Devorim (1207 C.E.), this change reflects differences of custom between Palestine (Aleppo Codex) and Babylon. In the Septuagint, Chronicles is found among the historical books after Kings. This order was transferred to the Vulgate and to some of the new translations of the Bible. (See Table: Book of Chronicles.)

Chronicles is a single book. Its division into two parts was first made in the Septuagint and was carried on from there to the other translations. Beginning with the 15th century, the division became the norm in Hebrew editions of the Bible as well.

Contents

Chronicles describes the history of Israel from the time of David until the destruction of the kingdom of Judah during the reign of Zedekiah. A lengthy introduction, mainly composed of various types of lists, serves as a background, and at the end, an excerpt from the Edict of Cyrus (derived from the Book of Ezra) is given. The book can be divided into three parts: I Chronicles 1–9 – the introduction; I Chronicles 10–II Chronicles 9 – the history of Israel in the time of David and Solomon; II Chronicles 10–36 – the history of the kingdom of Judah from the division of the United Monarchy until its destruction.

INTRODUCTION

The introduction is divided into three unequal sections. Chapter 1 is a collection of genealogical lists all taken from the Book of Genesis. Most of the lists have been readapted and presented in an abridged and concentrated form, after omission of all the narrative elements and other details; at times only the names remain, enumerated in succession. It is difficult to propose a single principle for the choice of the material from the Book of Genesis. While some lists having no connection with the main genealogical line from Adam to Jacob, such as the sons of Cain (Gen. 4:17–26), the sons of Terah (Gen. 11:27–32), and the sons of Nahor (Gen. 22:21–24) have been omitted, the chapter does include various lists of the sons of Esau, which are also nonessential. Most attempts to find a consistent principle in the choice of the lists lead to the conclusion, which is no more than a conjecture, that the chapter was not written by a single hand and that many additions were made to it.

Chapters 2–8 are the central section of the introduction and contain various lists of the tribes of Israel. The order of the tribes given here is unlike that in any other list of tribes in the Bible; it does not conform to the enumeration of Jacob's sons after their mothers (Gen. 46:8ff.), and no single geographical principle can be discerned in it. The list begins with the tribe of Judah (I Chron. 2:3–4:23), which was the main component of the kingdom of Judah and of Judea (following the return of the exiles) and continues with Simeon (4:24–43), whose territory was included from the start within the territory of Judah (Josh. 19:1). After them comes another geographical unit comprising the tribes of Transjordan in the fixed order from south to north: Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh (5:1–26). At this point, roughly midway through the lists, the tribe of Levi is introduced (5:27–6:66). In the following group, which consists of Issachar, Benjamin, Dan, and Naphtali (7:1–13), the arrangement of Numbers 26, which served as its source, is preserved to a considerable extent, but Zebulun is omitted and Asher and Joseph are transferred to other places. The last group consists of Manasseh, Ephraim, Asher, and Benjamin (7:14–8:40). Without the tribe of Asher, it reflects a continuous geographical unit from north to south. It is possible that errors occurred in the order of the list in the latter stages of its transmission such as the omission of Zebulun and the change in the place of Asher. But it seems that from the beginning several different principles were followed in the arranging of the material, the principle being determined in each case by the character of the material and the nature of its sources and was not fixed according to a single principle, which would require reorganization and extensive adaptation.

The material of the lists is not uniform in quantity, type, or its sources. Judah is dealt with most extensively, followed by Levi and Benjamin. Only remnants of information are given about the tribes of Dan and Naphtali. Most of the material consists of lists, but it also includes additional information, and may be classified as follows: genealogical lists of families and tribes, such as 2:25–33; 3:1–9, etc.; genealogical trees, such as 3:10–16; 5:30–40; 6:18–31, etc.; what appear to be tribal genealogical lists but are in fact geographical-ethnic lists, such as 2:50–55, etc.; geographical lists, such as 4:28–33; 6:39–66; 7:28–29, etc.; information about wars, settlement expeditions, and the wandering of tribes, such as 2:22–23; 4:38–43, etc.; tribal folk traditions, such as 4:9–10; 7:21–23, etc.; short notes containing allusions to much longer biblical narratives, such as 2:3–4, 7; 5:25–26, etc. There is also great variety in the sources of the material, taken, inter alia, from other biblical books, military census data in the period of the monarchy (such as 7:1–11; 35–40), and also to a certain degree from traditions transmitted orally, etc. Alongside these sources there are also midrashic literary creations from the period of the Second Temple.

Chapter 9, except for verse 1, which concludes the previous chapters, consists of three parts. The first is a list of the inhabitants of Jerusalem (2–18), titled "the first inhabitants" and parallel to Nehemiah 11:3–19. This apparently dates from the time of Nehemiah or a little while thereafter, though it is possible that the Chronicler connected it with the period of the previous lists. Joined to it is a detailed list of the levitical functionaries (19–34), with marked emphasis on the gatekeepers. This list is not found in Nehemiah 11, and it is doubtful whether it was originally a direct continuation of the previous one. At the end there is a list of the inhabitants of Gibeon (35–44), which is a literal repetition of 8:29–38. The duplication seems to result from a late adaptation or from a copyist's error, and it is doubtful if the list can be exactly reconstructed or whether its original place can be fixed with certainty.

The aim of the introduction is to create as broad a background as possible to the kingdom of David, and for this purpose the author utilized as many helpful sources bearing on his subject as were available to him. It is possible that in the course of transmission, changes occurred in the introduction as a result of both errors and additions. It is of the nature of such material to be susceptible to errors and to attract additions and changes, and it is doubtful whether its original form can be reconstructed.

KINGDOM OF DAVID AND SOLOMON

(I Chron. 10–II Chron. 9). After an account of the defeat and death of Saul at Gilboa (I Chron. 10), which serves as an introduction, this section relates the history of Israel from the anointing of David as king over all Israel in Hebron to the death of Solomon. It can be divided into two parts.

David (I Chronicles chs. 10–29)

The chief source for these chapters is the description of David's reign in the Book of Samuel, and there is a great deal of conformity between descriptions of the course of events in both books. Several chapters have been transferred almost verbatim, with only slight changes, from the Book of Samuel, but actually the congruence between the books is only partial. In Chronicles large sections of the history of David, described in great detail in Samuel, have been omitted, including the whole of his history from his crowning by Samuel until the death of Saul (I Sam. 16–30). The history of his reign in Hebron is noted briefly in I Chr. 3:4, (cf. I Chr. 29:27) but his struggle with Ish-Bosheth is omitted (II Sam. 2–4); omitted as well are his family life except as a progenitor (I Chr. 3: 1–9); his sin with Bath-Sheba; the revolts of Absalom and of Sheba son of Bichri; and the struggle at the end of his reign for succession to the throne (II Sam. 9; 11–12:25; 13–20; I Kings 1), etc. At the same time, much information that is not mentioned at all in Samuel – mainly in the sphere of the state administration, the preparations for the building of the Temple, and the organization of the Temple personnel – is added (I Chron. 15–16; 22–29).

In the parallel chapters a number of changes have been inserted, and the image of David's reign changed substantially. The main traits characterizing the description are as follows: (a) The center of interest is not the history of his kingdom. All the information on his successes and failures on the personal level has been omitted. (b) Even the interest in David's kingdom is only from the day it was established over all Israel; everything previous to this point is omitted. The complete disregard of the reign of Ish-Bosheth creates the impression that David became king of all Israel from the beginning. This is inferred from silence, but not stated explicitly. (c) The book omits all the weak points and failures of David's reign, such as information about Absalom's rebellion, the account of the famine, etc. Only the narrative of the census (I Chron. 21) was retained because of its great importance for the erection of the Temple. The remaining information was transferred wholly, or almost so, from the Book of Samuel. The silence creates the impression that David's reign was all light, without flaws or defects. (d) The transfer of the monarchy from David to Solomon is described with great emphasis as continuous and smooth, with the aim of supplying an alternative to I Kings 1–2. The anointing took place during David's lifetime, according to the will of God, who chose Solomon from among all of David's sons, with the agreement of the king and of the nation; it is directly connected with the preparations for the building of the Temple. (e) The central point is the account of the organization of the realm, both in the spheres of religious life and of civil administration. The organization of religious life is expressed in the following matters: (1) Determining the place of worship, effected in stages throughout David's reign. Bringing the Ark from Kiriath-Jearim to Jerusalem, the erection of the tent for it, and the arrangement of the service are described as David's first act after his crowning (I Chron. 13–16), followed by his request to build a permanent Temple for the Ark and its rejection by Nathan at God's command (ch. 17). Despite the rejection, David continued his activities, fixed the site of the Temple at the spot where God revealed himself on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite (ch. 21), and began comprehensive preparations for building – conscription of craftsmen, provision of the necessary materials and precious metals, and even the plan of the Temple given to him by the Holy Spirit (22; 28:11–19). As a final activity before his death, he requested the people to bring contributions and donations for the building of the Temple (29:6–8). (2) A fundamental and broad organization of the Temple personnel, taking count of them, their division into courses, and the designation of their detailed functions in preparation for the Temple service (chs. 23–26). Together with the plan for the building, David also handed Solomon the complete organization of the Temple personnel (28:13). (3) Establishing the cult in two places: at the Ark of God in Jerusalem (16:4–7, 37–38) and at the Tabernacle of the Lord in Gibeon, where the sacrificial worship was conducted under the direction of Zadok the priest (16:39–42). All these cult arrangements served as a basis for the establishment of the service of God by Solomon.

The administrative and military organization is described in both the parallel passages, the list of David's warriors (11:20–47) and the list of David's ministers (18:15–17) and in the supplementary passages – the description of the military organization and the list of its captains (27:1–15), the list of the tribal heads (27:16–22), the list of the administrators of the king's property (27:25–31), the list of the ministers of the central government (27:32–34), and a description of the functions of the officers and judges (26:29–32). (f) Special emphasis is placed upon the fact that David was king "over all Israel." The view expressed is that the unity of Israel and the sovereignty of David are two complementary facets of an ideal existence.

Solomon (II Chron. 1–9)

The description of his reign in Chronicles is linked even more strongly to the source in Kings than that of David's reign, and draws most of its material from it. However, many details have been omitted, including David's will and its execution by Solomon (I Kings 2), the trial of the harlots (ibid. 3:16–28), the list of Solomon's officers (ibid. 4), the description of the provisions for his court, his wisdom, and his poetry (ibid. 5:1–14), etc. The additions made in Chronicles are few and limited in scope, and chiefly broaden the existing description and provide an explanation for some of its aspects: e.g., the explanation of the nature of the high place in Gibeon as a justification for the offering of sacrifices there (II Chron. 1:3–6); an amplification of the correspondence between Solomon and Hiram, and a description of the size and splendor of the Temple to explain David's turn to Hiram for help (2:2–9); the ritual arrangement established in the Temple by Solomon (5:11–13; 7:6; 8:13–16), etc. The treatment of Solomon's reign is similar to that of David's, despite a difference in details. The choice of the material and its mode of presentation focus the attention on those points which seem of major importance to the author and divert it from other matters: (a) Chronicles disregards the weak points of Solomon's reign and omits both the struggles for the crown at the beginning of it and the religious deviations, the sins, and the failings at the end (I Kings 11:1–40). The summary of Solomon's reign comes immediately after the description of his successes and his wealth, and passes over all the difficulties and sins at the end of his life. (b) The core of the description concentrates on the building of the Temple, and all of Solomon's other activities and qualities are placed aside and given less attention. Of the nine chapters assigned to Solomon, more than six are devoted to the construction of the Temple, its consecration, and its orders. Immediately upon his ascent to the throne – and after one chapter (II Chron. 1) describing God's revelation to Solomon in Gibeon and a few other matters – Solomon turned to the initial preparations by writing a letter to Hiram king of Tyre and organizing the craftsmen; immediately afterward he concentrated on the actual construction. Most of the material in I Kings 3–5, before the construction of the Temple, is omitted. (c) The emphasis on Solomon's wisdom, which is conspicuous in Kings, is substantially lessened in Chronicles, and all that remains are the story of Solomon's dream at Gibeon, allusions to his wisdom in Hiram's letter (II Chron. 2:11) and in the words of the Queen of Sheba (9:5–8). In this way the selection of material leads to the emphasis on wealth rather than wisdom as Solomon's chief trait. (d) Other omitted matter concerns the division of the country into administrative districts and the country's administrative organization (I Kings 4). In contrast, this matter is emphasized in connection with David, and as a result the initiative and execution are transferred from Solomon to David. (e) The additions in Chronicles supplement and strengthen the above-mentioned aims. Their major interest lies in the sphere of religion, such as the description of the cult organization, an amplification of the word of God to Solomon, etc. Only isolated verses describe other aspects of Solomon's kingdom, and the information about the conquest of Hamath-Zobah should be noted (II Chron. 8:3).

The description of Solomon's reign is a continuation of and complement to the description of David's reign, both in character and aim – silence regarding the weak points, emphasis on the description of the Temple in Jerusalem, and a view of the reign of Solomon as a stage in the realization of David's reign and a continuation of it.

HISTORY OF THE KINGS OF JUDAH

This section extends from Rehoboam to the destruction of the land and the Temple in the reign of Zedekiah. Material on the kingdom of Israel is included together with the history of Judah, but it is introduced only in connection with the kingdom of Judah. Once again, the Book of Kings serves as a main source for these chapters of Chronicles, especially in establishing a general framework for the period, providing fundamental data, establishing the course of events, and in describing of a number of crucial events. Together with this, however, there is much additional material, and the manner in which the book describes this period differs substantially from the way in which it describes the reign of David and Solomon: (a) the extraction of the material from Kings is comprehensive rather than selective. Almost everything in Kings having a connection with the kingdom of Judah is included in Chronicles, although there is a difference between the beginning and the end of the period. Everything in Kings up to Jotham is transferred in toto to Chronicles (except for two verses in the description of Rehoboam's reign with minor changes). The main difference between the two texts results from the additions made in Chronicles (see below). From Ahaz onward the omissions increase, but they are not necessarily of the weak spots. In most cases they are adaptations and abridgments that present the main contents in paraphrase; the narrative of Sennacherib's expedition to Judah (II Kings 18:13–19:37) is given with great brevity in a paraphrase of the source (II Chron. 32:1–22), as are the descriptions of the altar built by Ahaz and the changes he made in the Temple (II Chron. 28:23–24), the reforms of Josiah (34:29–33), the destruction of the Temple and the exile of Zedekiah (36:17–20). A number of matters, most of them at the end of the period, are omitted altogether. (b) The point of departure for the history of David and Solomon is the desire to fashion an image without blemish, whereas in the era of the kings of Judah no effort is made to describe an ideal picture. The evaluation of the kings of Judah (with the exception of Rehoboam, Abijah, and Manasseh) does not differ from that of Kings. In keeping with its theological outlook that virtue is rewarded and sin punished, Chronicles explains the setbacks of righteous kings by attributing to them sinful acts not known from the historical books. (The death of the commoner Uzza at YHWH's hand known from II Sam.6:7 is attributed to David's failure to follow proper ritual according to I Chr. 15:13.) Thus, Asa's foot disease (I Kings 16:23) follows upon his imprisonment of the seer Hanani for castigating the king for trusting in the Arameans rather than in YHWH. Asa then compounds the sin by seeking out the physicians rather than YHWH (II Chr. 16: 7–13; this last element, as already seen by *Wellhausen, is a midrash on the king's name based on Aramaic sy, "physician"). In the same fashion the long reign of the wicked Manasseh is attributed by the Chronicler to the king's repentance while imprisoned by the Assyrians (II Chr. 33:10–20; the imprisonment itself may have a historical basis). (c) The main difference in the description lies in the additions, which are found in connection with most of the kings, and in the subtle amendments in the quoted material. Despite the similarity of the general picture, the difference in details and in comprehensiveness leads to a substantial difference in the image of the period and of its kings. For example, the description of Hezekiah's reign is equally comprehensive in both books, and the evaluation of him is favorable, but in the Book of Kings three chapters are devoted to Sennacherib's expedition, the king's illness, and the visit of the Babylonian emissaries to his palace. Chronicles devotes only one chapter to these events (II Chron. 32), and in three long chapters describes Hezekiah's religious acts – the purification of the Temple (ch. 29), the celebration of the Passover (ch. 30), and the organization of the offerings and the tithes (ch. 31) – matters not mentioned at all in Kings. The shift in emphasis changes the image of the king and the nature of the whole period. This change occurs mainly in connection with those kings in whom the book shows particular interest (Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah), although also to a lesser extent in connection with other kings. (d) The additions include much information in the spheres of military, political, and economic history. They extend the limited knowledge of the period and add details to the incomplete picture of the Book of Kings. The following additions merit special note: the list of fortified cities built in Judah by Rehoboam (II Chron. 11:5–12), the towns captured by Abijah from Jeroboam (13:19), the wars of Asa and Jehoshaphat (14:8–14; 20:1–2), Jehoshaphat's organization of the judicial system (19:5–11), information on the wars of Uzziah, his organization of the army and weapons, his economic activity and his renown (26:6–15), the acts of Jotham in the military and economic spheres (27:3–5), and the steps taken by Hezekiah to fortify Jerusalem and to organize the water supply at the time of Sennacherib's expedition (32:3–6). Some of this information is confirmed by non-Israelite sources and by archaeological discoveries, but most is found only in Chronicles, whence the great importance of the information. It may be noted that this kind of attention to military, political, and economic details is characteristic of Mesopotamian royal accounts.

The Sources and Their Use

Like every historical work, Chronicles is dependent upon sources. This fact is confirmed by an examination of the book and the testimony of its author, who notes more than 20 books with different names and directs the reader to them to obtain more details. Despite the great detail, not all the sources are mentioned, as is evidenced by the fact that biblical books used as the main source are not mentioned at all. The sources of the book can be classified in two groups: those that have survived, through which the author's manner of working and his methods can be understood, and those that have not survived, including both those mentioned and those not mentioned. In clarifying their character and nature there is a great deal of conjecture and inference. Surviving sources that are not mentioned in Chronicles are the biblical books: the Pentateuch, Joshua, Samuel, and Kings, which serve as the central source for the entire history of David, Solomon, and the kings of Judah (see above). From the later prophets the noticeable influence of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah, and several Psalms and fragments of Ezra and Nehemiah are to be found.

The sources mentioned in the book can be divided by their names into three groups. The first consists of six general books, i.e., "the book of the kings of Israel and Judah" (e.g., II Chron. 27:7), "the book of the kings of Judah and Israel" (16:11), the same book with another similar title in Hebrew (25:26), "the book of the kings of Israel" (20:34), "the acts of the kings of Israel" (33:18), and "the midrash (perhaps "annotation / expansion") of the book of the kings" (24:27). Wherever one of these books is mentioned, it is mentioned alone, and nowhere does the Chronicler use two of these books as the source for any one period. The use of the names Judah and Israel in the titles of the books seems to be ambiguous or at least inconsistent. The difference between the names of most of the books is very slight, and they sound like variations of the same name. It seems highly probable that all of them indicate the same book, which had no fixed title, and all the different titles refer to the source's nature, not to its name. The question remains whether the book is to be identified with "the midrash of the book of the kings," mentioned only once in II Chronicles (24:27). It is apparent that it is not to be identified with the canonical Book of Kings since it contains additional information, nor with "The book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah" mentioned in the Book of Kings, since it deals with the kings of both Israel and Judah. It is reasonable to assume that it was more like the biblical book of Kings, while not identical with it.

The second group of sources includes 12 books whose authors were prophets, e.g., "the words of Samuel the seer," "the words of Nathan the prophet," "the words of Gad the seer" (I Chron. 29:29), and others (II Chron. 9:29; 12:15; 13:22; 20:34; 26:22; 32:32; 33:19). All the prophets except one are known from the books of the Former Prophets. It is difficult to assume that the author of Chronicles possessed authentic prophetic books, e.g., from the era of David. The death of Samuel occurred before David was made king, and therefore it is difficult to believe that the acts of David were written in "the words of Samuel the seer" (I Chron. 29:29). One has the impression that these references give expression to a certain point of view not limited to Chronicles, according to which the prophets of every generation wrote the history of their time.

The books with general titles are not mentioned where there is mention of the prophetic books and vice versa; it is thus clear that the two types are consistently and systematically mutually exclusive. A title consisting of double description occurs twice: "Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat… are written in the words of Jehu the son of Hanani, which is inserted in the book of the kings of Israel" (II Chron. 20:34); and "Now the rest of the acts of Hezekiah… behold, they are written in the vision of Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel" (32:32). These titles indicate that "the acts of Jehu son of Hanani" and "the vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz" are not independent books but extracts of a comprehensive book on the history of the kings of Judah and Israel. Similarly it is likely that the other books, also named after prophets, are not separate works but fragments of a comprehensive book, and were each written, in conformity with the outlook mentioned above, by a prophet in his era. However, one cannot ignore the possibility that the author had access to prophetic tales and legends attributed to the time of the First Temple.

The third group consists of additional books and documents, such as "the writing of David king of Israel and the writing of Solomon his son" (35:4), "the words of David, and of Asaph the seer" (29:30), "the lamentations" (35:25), etc. In a number of places in Chronicles it is reported that certain information was noted and committed to writing, but it cannot be known whether the author meant to state that he had the document before him, such as, in the case of "These, written by name, came in the days of Hezekiah" (I Chron. 4:41), "All of these were reckoned by genealogies in the days of Jotham king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam king of Israel" (5:17), etc. It is possible to assume that "the words of David and Asaph the seer" refer to the Book of Psalms, but this is only conjecture. In contrast, it is doubtful whether "the lamentations" refers to the Book of Lamentations, as the latter is a lament for the destruction of the Temple and not for Josiah. In light of the manifold information preserved in the book, it is probable that the author did have actual documents before him, perhaps even monarchal and Temple chronicles that survived until his time.

The evaluation of the sources and of the information derived from them has changed substantially in the course of research. Scholars of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries were of the unanimous opinion that this information lacked all substance and that its only historical value lay in what it was able to indicate about the time of the author – the Second Temple period. The author's sources were evaluated as midrash, lacking all historical value. Beginning with the 1920s, the pendulum swung toward the opposite view, in accordance with which much of the additional information gained respect as historical data, or at least as coming from sources available to the Chronicler, rather than freely invented by him.

It is possible to learn about the way in which the sources were adapted by investigating the author's attitude toward the books of the Former Prophets. The conclusion of research is clear: the approach of the Chronicler is one-sided and tendentious. He indeed transfers large sections of his sources into his book literally, and where the sources conform with his purpose, or at least do not contradict it, he transfers them with only slight changes, chiefly linguistic. However, the actual transference of the material is selective, and a result of the mere selection is a substantial change in the original picture. In addition, the Chronicler inserts substantial changes into the source and adds explanations, speeches, and words of prophets, creating an historical picture that conforms to his purpose. It is reasonable to assume that the author also employed this method with the sources that have not come down. Even if the latter were trustworthy, it is likely that the author also collected from them in accordance with his purposes, changing and editing them to his taste. This does not disqualify the value of all the added material. While the author may have at times "invented" facts, he also utilized given material provided by both the sources and the reality of his time, and set up the data to conform with his purposes, conceptions, and outlooks. The task of the exegete is to uncover these purposes and thereby reveal the methods of adaptation. Information that is neutral toward, or even opposed to, the purposes of the book, as well as information utilized as a basis and background for purposeful adaptation, undoubtedly contains solid historical elements. In contrast to his treatment of the Former Prophets, with regard to the Torah the Chronicler never alters his received data. In fact, in a wellknown case (II Chr. 35:13) he harmonizes the instructions for the cooking of the paschal lamb in Exodus (12:9) with those of Deuteronomy (16:6–7).

Apart from its decisive importance for the actual understanding of the book, the discovery of the book's aims is, in the last analysis, the method by which the reliability and credibility of the historical information can be ascertained.

Aim and Purposes of the Book

From the beginning of biblical research, it was shown that Chronicles, far more than other historiographical parts of the Bible, subordinated its description of the course of history to its aim and purposes, which were determined by the realities – both sociopolitical and ideological – of the time of the book's composition. Several efforts have been made to ascribe the entire book to a single comprehensive purpose that would explain all its characteristics. J. Wellhausen claimed that the differences in the historical description and in the general outlook resulted from the influence of the Priestly Source, and he attributes all its differences to this influence. Other scholars, including M. Noth and W. Rudolph, regard the book's aim in establishing that the legitimate worship of God is possible only in Jerusalem and that only Judah is the legitimate community of God, as a polemic against the *Samaritans and their claims. D.N. Freedman claims that its purpose was to form a basis for the legitimate claims of the house of David to rule in Israel, and in particular for its authoritative status over the Temple and the cult. These and other attempts raise the question of whether one single and unilateral purpose can be found in the book, or whether it is more correct to explain it as a result of a comprehensive standpoint in which sociological realities, religious views, and polemical purposes are intermingled.

The author rewrites the history of Israel and the institutions in Ereẓ Israel. His interest is not only in Judah, for he creates a broad setting of the people of Israel as a background to the kingdom of David and stresses the existence of this background during the time of David and Solomon as well as after it. Similarly, this interest is not in the house of David alone. Quite naturally the history of the period is written as the history of its leaders, but there is a growing emphasis on the place and function of the people, in comparison with the narrative in Kings. The history of the people is described from the period in which it was permanently consolidated and its institutions received their final form. The author is not interested in beginnings, false starts and failures, but only in the period when a line of stability and permanence existed, and he continues to describe only that portion of the history characterized by continuity and succession. In the history of the people, the author stresses several points, above all the tie between the people and their God. Although Yahweh is the sole god in existence and the universal creator, he is specifically the God of the Jews. This tie between Yahweh and his people exists not in consequence of any deed but in and of itself, as a reality existing from the beginning without need for reasons or explanations. The tie is mutual: the people serve their God and God watches over and provides for His people. The final and obligatory manner in which the people serve their God was determined in two stages: the Law with its precepts and the obligation of sacrifice and its details were given through Moses; the place of worship and its order and organization were established as permanent institutions by David and achieved their complete realization under Solomon. The time of David and Solomon was the period of the creation and consolidation of the permanent institutions, which were thereafter binding upon the people and its kings. The manner in which God leads His people and the details of His providence also find expression from the time of Rehoboam onward. The providence of God determines the fate of the people at every point of history and is a direct result of the people's conduct to which He reacts. God watches over the people, leads it in justice, rewarding the righteous and punishing the wicked, and immediately requites every individual according to his merits. In the conception of the Chronicler, and in contrast with the deuteronomistic theology of Kings (see e.g., I Kgs. 21:28–29; II Kgs. 23:26–27), there is no place for delayed recompense: favor and punishment are immediate. In conformity with this conception, the author makes changes in his sources and converts history into a continuous chain of divine recompense; the people and their king behave in a certain way, and God reacts to their behavior.

Like the tie between the people and their God, the tie between Israel and its land is described as a phenomenon existing in its own right without the need for assurances, explanations, and reasons. All those events in the history of the people which involved severance from the land, such as the descent to Egypt of Jacob and his sons, the Exodus from Egypt leading to the conquest of Canaan, and the various exiles, are blurred or omitted entirely in Chronicles. The silence on this matter creates the impression that the tie of Israel to its land was continuous and uninterrupted and need not be enlarged upon. The explanation for the approach taken by the Chronicler was the need to legitimate Jewish claims to the land under the circumstances of Persian rule. It was not to Jewish advantage to concentrate on those traditions that tied its history to absence from the land and conquest from outside; the very traditions that mark the Torah and Joshua.

The Chronicler describes the history of the people and the kingdom through the acts of the kings, but only the monarchy of David and his house is legitimate, it having been given "to David… forever and to his sons by a covenant of salt" (II Chron. 13:5). The northern monarchy is illegitimate; it was established by a revolt against God and the house of David and its perpetuation involved idolatry and unlawful worship. Nevertheless, the inhabitants of the north are also people of God. The author does not describe the history of this people, since no distinction can be made between them and their kings, and the northern kingdom as an entity has no right to exist; however, the people of this kingdom remained "the people of Israel" and "brothers" of the people of Judah. Those who remained faithful to God and His Temple came to Judah both to join it (during the reign of Rehoboam (II Chr. 12:16) and Asa (II Chr. 15:9)) and to serve God there (during the reign of Hezekiah (II Chr. 30) and Josiah (II Chr. 34–35)).

The religious life, at the center of which was the Temple, assumes an important role in the description. According to the outlook of the author, the life of the Israelite people in the period of the First Temple centered on the precepts of the Torah and the service of God in the Temple. The building of the Temple and the organization of the personnel constituted the focus of the reigns of David and Solomon. Even after the permanent arrangements had been established, the kings occupied themselves with the Temple and matters revolving around it: Joash and Josiah arranged for repairs in the Temple and renewed the service in it (II Chron. 24:4–14; 34:8–13), and Hezekiah, who, after the reign of Ahaz, did most for the Temple, purified and rededicated it to its function as the initial act of his reign (29:3–36). Various kings carried out religious reforms and renewed the tie between God and the people (Asa, 14:3–4; 15:8–15; Jehoshaphat, 19:4–6; Josiah, 34:3–7, 29–33), and other kings celebrated the festival of Passover with crowds of people and great splendor (Hezekiah, II Chron. 30; Josiah, 35:1–19). All these deeds, the various ceremonies, and the festivals are described in the book at great length, with attention to details that reveal the author's special esteem for them.

Of the Temple personnel, the book places most stress on the part played by the Levites. It does not diminish the tasks of the priests, but the frequent emphasis on the Levites in itself overshadows the priests. A clear aim to widen the compass of the Levites' functions and to stress their virtues is discernible. In comparison with the priests, the Levites are presented in a better light: e.g., "But the priests were too few… wherefore their brethren the Levites did help them, till the work was ended, and until the priests had sanctified themselves; for the Levites were more upright in heart to sanctify themselves than the priests" (29:34). The division of the Levites into courses and the dress ascribed to them (5:12) bring them still closer to the priests. Among the Levites, the Temple singers are given particular emphasis. The book consistently attributes to David the establishment of singing in the Temple, and this tradition is apparently not peculiar to Chronicles (cf. Ezra 3:10; Neh. 12:36, 45–46). In all the ceremonies and in the regular service of the Temple, song and music are stressed; many scholars attribute the composition of Chronicles to a Levite or Temple singer who wanted to express the claims of his class.

An important place in the book is devoted to the prophets. They are held to be writers of history, and in each generation there is a prophet who records the events of the period (see above). They also stand as God's emissaries, who, in each generation, appear before the king and the people, transmit the word of God to them, rebuke them for their deeds, warn them of God's wrath, and encourage faith in God and repentance. Throughout the monarchic period, there is a continuous line of such prophets: Shemaiah (II Chron. 12:5), Azariah son of Oded (15:1ff.), etc. Levites and priests also served as prophets when inspired by God (20:14; 24:20).

Composition of the Book

From the time of L. Zunz, the view long prevailed that Chronicles and Ezra-Nehemiah are a single continuous sequence and constitute a comprehensive historiographical work on the history of Israel from its beginning until the time of Nehemiah. This work was termed "the Chronistic Historiography" to distinguish it from "the Deuteronomic Historiography" of the Former Prophets, which extends to the destruction of the First Temple. The main arguments in favor of this assumption were expounded by Zunz, and over the years were diversified and extended. The first of these is the argument for the great similarity in language and spheres of interest in the two books. In the opinion of these scholars the linguistic peculiarities of the Chronicles are revealed to the same degree in the book of Ezra-Nehemiah. Lists compiled by some scholars, of linguistic forms and modes of expression which are characteristic of the language of Chronicles and differentiate it from the early books of the Bible, also include phenomena of Ezra-Nehemiah and exemplify this similarity. It has also been claimed that there is an actual identity in the spheres of interest, such as the detailed description of religious ceremonies, the abundant and precise occupation with genealogical lists, etc. Additional proofs are the congruence of the end of Chronicles with the beginning of Ezra, which suggests that the books were originally a single continuous composition, and that I Esdras, which commences with II Chronicles 35, includes the last two chapters of Chronicles and passes on to Ezra 1.

Even when this view was generally accepted, some scholars continued to challenge it, and a more careful investigation reveals that there is indeed reason to doubt the identity of the authors of Chronicles and Ezra-Nehemiah. While there are many lines of resemblance in the language of the two books, the advance of research in late biblical Hebrew has shown that they are common to the entire linguistic stratum, and do not suffice to indicate stylistic peculiarities of a single author. Alongside the similarities, there are substantial differences between the two books that cannot be explained if it is assumed that they originated from a single author. The same applies to the ideological affinity. There is a certain affinity in the spheres of interests, yet substantial differences exist in both the ideological aims and the literary approach; e.g., the house of David occupies an important place in Chronicles but is pushed into a corner in Ezra-Nehemiah, where even Zerubabbel is not traced to the house of David; Chronicles hardly mentions the Exodus from Egypt, the wanderings in the wilderness, and the conquest of Canaan, whereas in Ezra-Nehemiah these themes return to take a central position in the prayers and the historical reviews; the theme of intermarriage with foreign women is a topic of great importance in Ezra-Nehemiah, but there is neither mention of nor allusion to it in Chronicles; the function of prophecy and the prophets is also completely different in the two books. From the literary approach, it seems that while Chronicles tends to a tendentious presentation of the data, an obvious exaggeration in numbers, and much schematization, Ezra-Nehemiah is a more realistic and sober description with little exaggeration or schematization. It thus appears that the two books are separate works. Examination of the language and the use of terms advances the assumption that Chronicles is the later of the two. The beginning of the edict of Cyrus found at the end of Chronicles was taken from Ezra. The date of Chronicles in relation to that of Ezra-Nehemiah hints at the time in which the book was composed.

Several theories have been put forth on the question of the book's composition and formation, and these can be divided into three different groups: (a) The tendency to resolve Chronicles into sources, in the manner of Pentateuch criticism i.e., into complete and continuous documents, each with its own author, whose compilation into the book's final form was carried out by a late redactor. The sources are considered to number between two and four. K. Galling divided the whole of Chronicles into two strata that go through the entire books of Chronicles and Ezra-Nehemiah. (b) The second group regards whole sections of Chronicles as alien to the book. Note should be taken chiefly of A.C. Welch and his followers, who claim that all of I Chronicles 1–9 is an independent composition and that the book is thus divisible into two works, each of which must be considered separately. (c) The third group, with which M. Noth and W. Rudolph, among others, may be connected, regards Chronicles basically as a single composition but reveals many additions and adaptations made after its completion. In contrast to the theory of sources, there is no attempt to discover a limited and defined number of authors who precede the author of Chronicles; but rather, the conjectured original book is sought and the additions are attributed to other persons with a variety of interests.

These attempts are founded on considerations of content, spheres of interest, and the existence of contradictions, great or small, between different parts of the book. It seems, however, that they fail to take into sufficient account the book's special character. The various contradictions, mainly in the lists, can be explained satisfactorily by the variegated material which the author used without achieving, or even attempting to achieve, full harmony. One must not discount the possibility that during the course of transmission, certain additions were made to the book, mainly in the lists, which are most amenable to change. However, it is difficult to assume that the scope of additions was as wide as is suggested, for example, by M. Noth. It seems, rather, that the book was essentially composed by a single author, with a comprehensive outlook, clear aims, and a characteristic language and style. This author made use of many sources and cast the material he collected in the mold of his language and thought. The degree of adaptation of the sources and documents, however, is not uniform, and whereas the description of some matters was completely rewritten, others were transmitted in their own wording and sense; it is thus doubtful whether complete harmony could have been achieved among all sections and chapters of the book.

The Author and His Time

The baraita attributes authorship of Chronicles to Ezra the scribe and Nehemiah: "Ezra wrote his book and the genealogies of the Book of Chronicles up to his own time… Who then finished it? Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah" (BB 15a). This quotation can be interpreted in several ways. Among biblical scholars, this opinion was supported by W.F. Albright, who sought to identify the "Chronicler" with Ezra; however, it is doubtful whether there is any substance in this tradition. A number of data help to fix the date of the book. The language is close in form, vocabulary, and the influence of Aramaic on it to the language of the later books of the Bible (Ezra-Nehemiah, Esther, *Daniel), as well as to the language of the Isaiah Scroll from *Qumran and the Samaritan *Pentateuch, thereby fixing an upper limit to the date of its composition. Note, e.g., the Aramaic interrogative hēk, "how?" for classical Hebrew ēk in II Chr. 13:12. Note as well Iranian loanwords nedānāh, "sheath" (< *nidāna; I Chr. 22:27); and ganzak "treasury" (< *ganza, I Chr 28:11) At the same time the absence of Greek words encourages a date within the limits of the Persian period. The influence of Persian dualism can be seen in the Chronicler's attribution of David's ill-advised census to the proddings of Satan (I Chr. 21:1) rather than Yahweh (II Sam. 24:1). Attempts have been made to fix its date by means of more exact data, among them the list of David's descendants in I Chronicles 3:17–24. The assumption is that the author continued the list up to his own time, but this can be neither proved nor refuted. The text of the list is in some parts irremediably faulty, and opinions differ on whether it recounts six or eleven generations after Zerubabbel. It must also be remembered that a list such as this is very amenable to changes, and it is difficult to draw conclusions from it alone about the exact date of the entire composition. An attempt has also been made to fix the date of the book in accordance with the Samaritan schism. In this case the assumption is made that Chronicles was written as a polemic against the Samaritans after their separation and the construction of their Temple on Mt. Gerizim. However, this assumption also does not lead to an unambiguous conclusion, since scholars differ on the date of the separation, some ascribing it to the time of Nehemiah and others, accepting the testimony of Josephus, deferring it to the time of Alexander the Great. In actual fact the fundamental assumption is not proven at all. It has already been mentioned that Chronicles was composed after Ezra-Nehemiah, as is proven by an investigation of terms and the development of the institutions. It can also be determined that the book was likely composed during the Persian period; therefore, it seems that the date of composition falls within the fourth century B.C.E. At present there are no means for fixing a more exact date.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

COMMENTARIES: E.L. Curtis and A.A. Madsen (1910, incl. bibl. until 1909); W.A.L. Elmslie (19162); idem (1954); J.W. Rothstein and J. Haenel (1927); K. Galling (1954); W. Rudolph (1955); J.M. Myers (1965). OTHER BOOKS: A. Kropat, Die Syntax des Autors der Chronik (1909); G. von Rad, Das Geschichtsbild… (1930); P. Vannutelli, Libri Synoptici…, 1–2 (1931–34); A.C. Welch, Post-Exilic Judaism (1935), 185–244; idem, The Work of the Chronicler… (1939); M. Rehm, Textkritische Untersuchungen… (1937); G. Gerleman, Synoptic Studies in the Old Testament (1948); Y. Kaufmann, Toledot, 4 (1956), 451–81; M. Noth, Ueberlieferungsgeschichtliche Studien, 1 (19572), 110–80; J. Liver, Perakim be-Toledot ha-Kehunnah ve-ha-Leviyyah (1968); M.D. Johnson, The Purpose of the Biblical Genealogies (1969), 37–79. ARTICLES: W.F. Albright, in: JBL, 40 (1921), 104–24; idem, in: A. Marx Jubilee Volume (1950), 61–82; S. Klein, in: Zion Me'assef, 2 (1927), 1–16; 3 (1929), 1–16; 4 (1930), 14–30; G. von Rad, in: O. Procksch Festschrift (1934), 113–24; A. Noordzij, in: RB, 49 (1940), 161–68; M.Z. Segal, in: Tarbiz, 14 (1942/43), 81–88; F. Zimmermann, in: JQR, 42 (195.1/52), 265–82, 387–412; B. Maisler (Mazar), in: IEJ, 2 (1952), 82–88; A.M. Brunet, in: RB, 60 (1953), 481–508; 61 (1954), 349–86; idem, in: Sacra Pagina, 1 (1959), 384–97; J. Liver, in: Sefer Biram (1956), 152–61; idem, in: Oz le-David (Ben Gurion) (1964), 486–99; D.N. Freedman, in: CBQ, 23 (1961), 436–42; R. North, in: JBL, 82 (1963), 369–81; W.E. Lemke, in: HTR, 58 (1966), 349–63; A. Caquot, in: RHPR, 99 (1966), 110–20; S. Japhet, in: Leshonenu, 31 (1967), 165–79, 262–79; idem, in: VT, 18 (1968), 330–71; F.I. Moriarty, in: CBQ, 27 (1965), 399–406; S. Talmon, in: VT, 8 (1958), 48–70; W.F. Stinespring, in: JBL, 80 (1961), 209–19; R.W. Klein, in: HTR, 60 (1967), 93–105; 61 (1968), 492–5; L.C. Allen, ibid., 483–91. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: R. Pfeiffer, in: IDB I, 572–80; I.L. Seeligmann, in: A. Hurvitz et al., Studies in Biblical Literature (1992), 454–74; S. Japhet, I & II Chronicles (OTL; 1993), with bibl.; G. Knoppers, I Chronicles 1–9; idem, I Chronicles 10–29 (AB; 2004), with bibli.); I. Kalimi, The Books of Chronicles: A Classified Bibliography (1990); idem, The Reshaping of Ancient Israelite History in Chronicles (2005).

[Sara Japhet /

S. David Sperling (2nd ed.)]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.