1 Chronicles
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

General Editor for the Old Testament:—







fellow and chaplain of peterhouse, formerly lecturer in theology at clare college.





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by the


The present General Editor for the Old Testament in The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges desires to say that, in accordance with the policy of his predecessor the Bishop of Worcester, he does not hold himself responsible for the particular interpretations adopted or for the opinions expressed by the Editors of the several Books, nor has he endeavoured to bring them into agreement with one another. It is inevitable that there should be differences of opinion in regard to many questions of criticism and interpretation, and it seems best that these differences should find free expression in different volumes. He has endeavoured to secure, as far as possible, that the general scope and character of the Series should be observed, and that views which have a reasonable claim to consideration should not be ignored, but he has felt it best that the final responsibility should, in general, rest with the individual contributors.



I.  Introduction:

§ 1.  The Name, and Division into Two Books

§ 2.  Relation to Ezra-Nehemiah

§ 3.  Date, Authorship, and Position in the Canon

§ 4.  Contents

§ 5.  The Sources

§ 6.  Character and Purpose

§ 7.  Relation to Samuel and Kings

§ 8.  The Historical Value of the Narratives peculiar to Chronicles

§ 9.  Versions of Chronicles

II.  Texts and Notes



The Holy Land

Environs of Jerusalem

Thus there seemed to be room for a new history, which should confine itself to matters still interesting to the theocracy of Zion, keeping Jerusalem and the Temple in the foreground, and developing the Divine pragmatism of the history, not so much with reference to the prophetic word as to the fixed legislation of the Pentateuch, so that the whole narrative might be made to teach that the glory of Israel lies in the observance of the Divine law and ritual.



§ 1. The Name, and Division into Two Books

Name. The name “Chronicles” is due to St Jerome, who in reckoning Chronicles as the seventh book of the Hagiographa (see § 3) writes, “Septimus Dabre Iamin [Δαβρηιαμείν], id est, Verba Dierum quod significantius Chronicon totius historiae divinae possumus appellare; qui liber apud nos Paralipomenon primus et secundus inscribitur” (Prologus in Libros Regum, ed. Vallarsi, ix. 458). The Hebrew title correctly written is Dibrç hayyâmîm, but it was reproduced in Greek as Δαβρηιαμείν (Origen apud Eus. H.E. vi. 25. 2). The literal rendering of this Hebrew title is given by Origen (ut supra) as λόγοι ἡμερῶν, by Jerome (ut supra) as Verba Dierum. The literal English equivalent is “the Acts of the Days.”

This title seems to have been suggested by the Book of Kings, where mention is made some twenty times (and nearly always in the same terms) of a state chronicle; e.g. 1 Kings 14:29 literally rendered runs:—“And the rest of the acts of Rehoboam and all that he did are they not written in the book of the Acts of the Days of the kings of Judah?” (Cp. ibid. 1 Kings 14:19; 1 Kings 15:7; 1 Kings 15:23; 1 Kings 15:31; and also 1 Chronicles 27:24, “Chronicles,” lit. “the Acts of the Daysof King David.)

In the Septuagint Chronicles was regarded as supplementary to Samuel and Kings, and so received the title of “[Books of] the Omitted Acts” (παραλειπομένων) or “the Omitted Acts of the Kings (or Reigns) of Judah.” This name, in spite of Jerome’s preference for another, passed into the Latin Vulgate.

Division. The division of Chronicles into two books (as in the E.V.) probably originated in the LXX; the MSS. a and b both mark the division. It has entered the E.V. through the Latin Vulgate. On the other hand the Fathers testify that among the Hebrews the book was undivided: so Origen (apud Eus. Hist. Eccl. vi. 25. 2) and Jerome (Domnioni et Rogatiano).

§ 2. Relation to Ezra-Nehemiah

The books of Ezra and Nehemiah (Cp. Ryle, Ezra, Introduction, § 1), it is well known, formed originally one book, which was divided merely for convenience. It is however further probable that the three books Chronicles-Ezra-Nehemiah were once a continuous work, proceeding from one compiler (Ryle, § 5), or at least from one school of compilers. This view is based on the following considerations:—

(1) The concluding verses of Chronicles are identical with the opening verses of Ezra, a fact which points to a difficulty felt in dividing one originally continuous work into our “Chronicles” and “Ezra.”

(2) The same general character pervades Chronicles and Ezra-Nehemiah. Thus we find

(a) The same fondness for lists and genealogies in both works; cp. e.g. 1 Chronicles 12 with Ezra 2 or Nehemiah 3; and 2 Chronicles 31:16-19 with Nehemiah 7:63-65.

(b) The same great interest in religious festivals; cp. 1 Chronicles 15, 16; 2 Chronicles 5-7, 29, 30; 2 Chronicles 35:1-19, with Ezra 3, Ezra 6:16-22; Nehemiah 8.

(c) Three classes of Temple attendants, viz. Levies, Singers, and Porters, which are barely mentioned in the rest of the Old Testament, receive a great deal of notice in Chronicles and in Ezra-Nehemiah.

(3) The same style and diction are found in both works, or (more strictly speaking) in the parts of both works which are due to the compiler. Characteristic phrases are the following:

(a) “Fathers’ houses” (cp. 1 Chronicles 7:2, note).

(b) “The house of God” (elsewhere “house of the Lord,” i.e. of Jehovah). With this cp. the tendency to avoid the use of the name Jehovah (Jahveh) in such places as 2 Chronicles 17:4 (cp. A.V. with R.V.), 2 Chronicles 20:12; 2 Chronicles 20:30; Ezra 8:18; Ezra 8:21.

(c) “genealogy” (“reckon by genealogy”), cp. 1 Chronicles 5:17, note; Ezra 2:62.

(d) “to oversee”; 1 Chronicles 23:4 (R.V.); 2 Chronicles 2:2 [2:1 Heb.]; Ezra 3:8 (R.V. “to have the oversight”).

(e) “willingly offer”; 1 Chronicles 29:14; Ezra 1:6.

These are merely a few instances out of many which might be given. This similarity is of course far more striking in the Hebrew. Probably one editor compiled and issued one long work extending from Adam to Nehemiah and embracing in order our books of Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah. This work being found too bulky was divided into two parts, (1) Chronicles, and (2) Ezra-Nehemiah. (See § 3, Position in the Canon.)

§ 3. Date, Authorship, and Position in the Canon

Date. It is Important to distinguish between the date of the compilation of the great work mentioned towards the end of the last paragraph and the date of the latest editor who put the last touches to the book, chiefly perhaps by continuing the genealogies down to his own day. The date of this latest editor is fixed on one side by the mention of the high-priest Jaddua in Nehemiah 12:11; Nehemiah 12:22. He cannot be earlier than the time of Jaddua, who according to Josephus (Ant. xi. viii. 4, 5) met and appeased Alexander the Great in his passage through Syria in 332 b.c. Moreover it is to be noticed that in Nehemiah 12:22 the days of Jaddua are mentioned to fix a date in the past. This latest editor therefore cannot have lived until after the days of Jaddua; the most probable date of his editorial activity is circ. 300–250 b.c.

It is to be noted further that the details of the genealogy given in 1 Chronicles 3:19 b 1 Chronicles 3:24 (see note on the passage) point to the same result. According to the Hebrew text six generations are reckoned after Zerubbabel (circ. 520 b.c.). Now estimating a generation at 20 years, the least probable estimate, we arrive at circ. 400 b.c. as the earliest date of the compiler of this genealogy. This is too late for Ezra (sent from Babylon circ. 458 b.c.) and also for Nehemiah (second mission circ. 432 b.c.). But if we follow the text of the LXX. the date of the genealogy must be put still later. The LXX. has eleven generations as against the six of the Hebrew after Zerubbabel. This brings us to about 300 b.c. as the date of the genealogy, and to a few years later for the date of the editor who inserted it. This agrees closely with the result given in the last paragraph. (For the date and occasion of the writing of the main substance of the book see § 6, p. xxiv.)

Authorship. Nothing is certainly known of the authorship of the book, but some MSS. of the Peshitta ascribe the work to Joḥanan Kâhănâ, “Johanan the priest,” no doubt the Johanan of Nehemiah 12:23, where we read:—

“The sons of Levi, heads of fathers’ houses, were written in the book of the chronicles, even until the days of Johanan the son of Eliashib.” The passage even as it stands may be understood to suggest authorship on the part of Johanan, but it is further possible that the words “until the days” (‘ad yĕmç) were read in early times “by the hands” (‘al yĕdhç). Thus read Nehemiah 12:23 ascribes the compilation of some part of the large work (Chronicles-Ezra-Nehemiah) to Johanan. The subject is however too obscure to be pursued further.

Position in Canon. In the English Version Chronicles stands next after Kings, the Historical books being grouped together. This arrangement was derived from the LXX. through the Latin Vulgate. The order of the Hebrew Bible is different. There all the books are arranged in three classes, of which the First contains the Books of the Pentateuch, the Second most of the Historical Books including Kings, while the Third (the Kĕthûbhîm) contains Chronicles. The books of this Third Class seem to have been the last to receive Canonical Authority among the Jews. Kings thus appears to have been taken into the Canon before Chronicles.

In the Hebrew Bible the Kĕthûbhîm (Hagiographa) are usually arranged thus:—First the Poetical Books (Psalms, Proverbs, Job), next the Five Rolls or Megilloth (Canticles, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther), and last the three books Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, and Chronicles. This is the usual Hebrew tradition, though it is surprising to find Ezra (which begins with the closing verses of Chronicles) put before Chronicles. The wording of Matthew 23:35, however, “From the blood of Abel the righteous (Genesis 4:10 f.) unto the blood of Zachariah (2 Chronicles 24:20 ff.)” suggests that as early as our Lord’s day Chronicles was regarded as the last, just as Genesis was the first book of the Hebrew Canon. It is probable, therefore, that Chronicles found its way into the Canon after Ezra-Nehemiah, the latter book being needed to represent the post-exilic period of the history, whereas Chronicles covers ground already occupied by the books of Samuel and Kings.

Chronicles has indeed been somewhat neglected. Thus in the old lectionary of the Church of England (in use before 1871) lessons were appointed from Tobit and Judith, but not from Chronicles. In the present lectionary, which came into use in 1871, seventeen lessons are taken from the Second Book of Chronicles for the daily service, and seven lessons drawn from the First and Second Books are appointed for Sundays and Holy Days. Tobit and Judith are now altogether excluded.

§ 4. Contents

The book of Chronicles (exclusive of 1 Chronicles 1-9) contains the history of Israel for nearly 500 years, i.e. from the death of Saul, circ. 1017 b.c., to the edict of Cyrus, circ. 538 b.c.

The following Table gives a general view of the contents of the book. The great interest taken by the compiler in all matters connected with the Temple and worship is to be noted.

(A) 1 Chronicles 1-10. Introductory.

  1 Chronicles 1:1-4.  Genealogy from Adam to Noah.

  1 Chronicles 1:5-23  (= Genesis 10:2-29). The descendants of Japheth, Ham, and Shem.

  1 Chronicles 1:24-28.  Genealogy from Shem to Ishmael.

  1 Chronicles 1:29-31  (= Genesis 25:12-16). Ishmaelite descendants of Abraham.

  1 Chronicles 1:32-33  (= Genesis 25:1-4). Arabian descendants of Abraham.

  1 Chronicles 1:34-37  (= Genesis 36:10-14). Edomite descendants of Abraham.

  31chr 1:8–42  (= Genesis 36:20-28). Genealogy of the Horite inhabitants of Seir.

  1 Chronicles 1:43-51 a  (= Genesis 36:31-39). The early kings of Edom.

  1 Chronicles 1:51-54  (= Genesis 36:40-43). The “dukes” of Edom.

  1 Chronicles 2:1-2  (cp. Genesis 35:22 b Genesis 35:26). The sons of Israel.

  1 Chronicles 2:3 to 1 Chronicles 4:23.  Genealogies of the tribe of Judah.

  1 Chronicles 2:3-17.  Descent of the sons of Jesse.

  1 Chronicles 2:18-55.  Hezron. Jerahmeel. Caleb.

  1 Chronicles 3:1-9  (= 2 Samuel 3:2-5; 2 Samuel 5:14-16). David’s sons.

  1 Chronicles 3:10-24.  The Davidic Line before and after the Captivity.

  1 Chronicles 4:1-23.  Additional genealogies of Judah.

  1 Chronicles 4:24 to 1 Chronicles 5:26.  Genealogies of Simeon, Reuben, Gad and Manasseh.

  1 Chronicles 6:1-81.  The tribe of Levi.

  1 Chronicles 6:1-3.  Genealogy from Levi to Eleazar.

  1 Chronicles 6:4-15.  The line of the high-priests to the Captivity.

  1 Chronicles 6:16-30.  The three clans of the Levites.

  1 Chronicles 6:31-47.  The singers.

  1 Chronicles 6:48-53.  Distinction between the sons of Aaron and the rest of the Levites.

  1 Chronicles 6:54-81.  The cities of the Levites.

  1 Chronicles 7:1-40.  Genealogies of Issachar, Benjamin (cp. 1 Chronicles 8:1-40), Naphtali, Manasseh, Ephraim, and Asher.

  1 Chronicles 8:1-40.  Benjamin (cp. 1 Chronicles 7:6-11).

  1 Chronicles 8:1-32.  Genealogies of Benjamite families.

  1 Chronicles 8:33-40  (cp. 1 Chronicles 9:39-44). The Genealogy of the house of Saul.

  1 Chronicles 9:1-17.  The heads of the families of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi, which dwelt in Jerusalem.

  1 Chronicles 9:18-34.  The duties of porters and Levites.

  1 Chronicles 9:35-38  (= 1 Chronicles 8:29-32). Benjamites living in Gibeon and in Jerusalem.

  1 Chronicles 9:39-44  (cp. 1 Chronicles 8:33-40). The Genealogy of the house of Saul.

  1 Chronicles 10:1-14  (= 1 Samuel 31:1-13). The death of Saul at the battle of Gilboa.

(B) 1 Chronicles 11-29. David.

  1 Chronicles 11:1-9  (= 2 Samuel 5:1-10). Coronation of David and capture of Jebus.

  1 Chronicles 11:10-47  (cp. 2 Samuel 23:8-39). David’s mighty men.

  1 Chronicles 12:1-40.  David’s adherents who brought him to the kingdom.

  1 Chronicles 13:1-14  (= 2 Samuel 6:1-11. The removal of the ark from Kiriath-jearim. Death of Uzza.

  1 Chronicles 14:1-7  (cp. 2 Samuel 5:13-16). David’s sons born in Jerusalem.

  1 Chronicles 14:8-17  (= 2 Samuel 5:17-25). Two Philistine attacks repulsed.

  1 Chronicles 15:1-24.  Preparations for bringing home the ark.

  1 Chronicles 15:25 to 1 Chronicles 16:6  (cp. 2 Samuel 6:12-20). The ark brought into the city of David.

  1 Chronicles 16:7-36  (= Psalm 105:1-15; Psalm 96:1-13; Psalm 106:1; Psalm 106:47-48). David’s psalm of praise.

  1 Chronicles 16:37-43.  Arrangements for daily worship.

  1 Chronicles 17:1-27  (= 2 Samuel 7:1-29). Permission to build a temple refused David.

  1 Chronicles 18:1-17  (= 2 Samuel 8:1-18). David’s foreign wars. His officials.

  1 Chronicles 19:1 to 1 Chronicles 20:8  (= 2 Samuel 10:1-19; 2 Samuel 11:1; 2 Samuel 12:30-31; 2 Samuel 21:18-22). Wars with Ammon, Syria, and the Philistines.

  1 Chronicles 21:1-30  (= 2 Samuel 24:1-25). The census and the plague.

  1 Chronicles 22:1 to 1 Chronicles 29:20.  David’s preparations for the building of the Temple and for the establishment of its services.

  1 Chronicles 22  The choice of the Temple site. The charge to Solomon.

  1 Chronicles 23  The organisation of the Levites.

  1 Chronicles 24  The divisions (courses) of the Priests.

  1 Chronicles 25  The divisions of the Singers.

  1 Chronicles 26  The divisions of the Porters.

  1 Chronicles 27  Various officers of David.

  1 Chronicles 28:1 to 1 Chronicles 29:20.   David’s charge to Solomon and to all Israel.

  1 Chronicles 29:21-30.  The Epilogue.

(C) 2 Chronicles 1-9. Solomon.

  2 Chronicles 1:1-13  (= 1 Kings 3:1-15). The Vision and the prayer for wisdom.

  2 Chronicles 1:14-17  (= 1 Kings 10:26-29). Chariots and horses.

  2 Chronicles 2:1-2; 2 Chronicles 2:17-18  (cp. 1 Kings 5:15-16). Bearers of burdens and hewers of wood and stone.

  2 Chronicles 2:3-16  (cp. 1 Kings 5:2-11). Negociations with Huram (Hiram) king of Tyre.

  2 Chronicles 3:1 to 2 Chronicles 4:22  (cp. 1 Kings 6:1 to 1 Kings 7:50). The building and furnishing of the Temple.

  2 Chronicles 5:1-14  (= 1 Kings 8:1-11). The bringing in of the ark and the descent of the cloud.

  2 Chronicles 6:1-11  (= 1 Kings 8:12-21). Solomon’s blessing.

  2 Chronicles 6:12-42  (= 1 Kings 8:22-50). Solomon’s prayer.

  2 Chronicles 7:1-3.  The descent of the fire upon the sacrifices.

  2 Chronicles 7:4-10  (= 1 Kings 8:62-66). The final rejoicings.

  2 Chronicles 7:11-22  (= 1 Kings 9:1-9). The second Vision and the acceptance of Solomon’s prayer.

  2 Chronicles 8:1-13; 2 Chronicles 8:17-18  (= 1 Kings 9:10-28). Various Acts of Solomon.

  2 Chronicles 8:14-16.  Organisation of the priests and Levites in the Temple.

  2 Chronicles 9:1-28  (= 1 Kings 10:1-27). The Visit of the Queen of Sheba. Solomon’s greatness.

  2 Chronicles 9:29-31  (= 1 Kings 11:41-43). The Epilogue.

(D) 2 Chronicles 10-36. The Acts of the Kings of Judah.

  2 Chronicles 10:1 to 2 Chronicles 11:4  (= 1 Kings 12:1-24). The Revolt of the Ten Tribes.

  2 Chronicles 11:5 to 2 Chronicles 12:16  (cp. 1 Kings 14:21-31). The Acts of Rehoboam.

  2 Chronicles 13:1-22  (cp. 1 Kings 15:1-8). The Acts of Abijah (Abijam).

  2 Chronicles 14:1 to 2 Chronicles 16:14  (cp. 1 Kings 15:9-24). The Acts of Asa.

  2 Chronicles 17:1-19.  Jehoshaphat’s religions measures. His captains.

  2 Chronicles 18:1-34  (= 1 Kings 22:1-35). Jehoshaphat with Ahab at Ramoth-Gilead.

  2 Chronicles 19:1 to 2 Chronicles 20:30.  Jehoshaphat’s judges. His victory in the wilderness of Tekoa.

  2 Chronicles 20:31-37  (= 1 Kings 22:41-49). The rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat.

  2 Chronicles 21:1-20  (= 1 Kings 22:50; 2 Kings 8:16-24). Jehoram.

  2 Chronicles 22:1-9  (= 2 Kings 8:25-29; 2 Kings 9:27-28). Ahaziah.

  2 Chronicles 22:10 to 2 Chronicles 23:21  (= 2 Kings 11:1-20). The rise and fall of Athaliah.

  2 Chronicles 24:1-14  (= 2 Kings 12:1-16). Restoration of the Temple under Joash.

  2 Chronicles 15-22.  Apostasy of the princes. Assassination of the prophet Zechariah.

  2 Chronicles 23-27  (cp. 2 Kings 12:17-21). The Syrian War and the end of Joash.

  2 Chronicles 25:1-13  (cp. 2 Kings 14:1-7). Amaziah. The Edomite War. The Ephraimite ravages.

  2 Chronicles 25:14-16.  Apostasy of Amaziah.

  2 Chronicles 25:17-28  (= 2 Kings 14:8-20). Capture of Jerusalem. Death of Amaziah.

  2 Chronicles 26:1-23  (cp. 2 Kings 15:1-7). Uzziah (Azariah).

  2 Chronicles 27:1-9  (= 2 Kings 15:32-38). Jotham.

  2 Chronicles 28:1-27  (cp. 2 Kings 16:1-20). Ahaz.

  2 Chronicles 29:1 to 2 Chronicles 31:21.  Hezekiah. Cleansing of the Temple. Great Passover. Care for the priesthood.

  2 Chronicles 32:1-23  (cp. 2 Kings 18, 19). The deliverance from Sennacherib.

  2 Chronicles 32:24-33  (cp. 2 Kings 20:1-21). Hezekiah’s sickness. His death.

  2 Chronicles 33:1-20  (cp. 2 Kings 21:1-18). Manasseh. His captivity and repentance.

  2 Chronicles 33:21-25  (= 2 Kings 21:19-26). Amon.

  34:1–7  (cp. 2 Kings 22:1-2; 2 Kings 23:4-20). Josiah. Removal of the emblems of idolatry.

  2 Chronicles 34:8-28  (= 2 Kings 22:3-20). Repair of the Temple. Discovery of the Book of the Law.

  2 Chronicles 34:29-33  (= 2 Kings 23:1-3). Renewal of the Covenant.

  2 Chronicles 35:1-19  (cp. 2 Kings 23:21-23). The Great Passover.

  2 Chronicles 35:20-27  (cp. 2 Kings 23:28-30 a). The death of Josiah.

  2 Chronicles 36:1-4  (cp. 2 Kings 23:30 b 2 Kings 23:34). Jehoahaz.

  2 Chronicles 36:5-8  (cp. 2 Kings 23:36 to 2 Kings 24:6). Jehoiakim.

  2 Chronicles 36:9-10  (cp. 2 Kings 24:8-15). Jehoiachin.

  2 Chronicles 36:11-21  (cp. 2 Kings 24:18 to 2 Kings 25:21). Zedekiah. The Captivity of Judah.

  2 Chronicles 36:22-23  (= Ezra 1:1-3 a). The decree of Cyrus.

It will be seen at a glance that large portions of the earlier histories, as given in the following list, have been incorporated in Chronicles:—

1 Samuel 31;

2 Samuel 5-8; 2 Samuel 10; 2 Samuel 23:8 to 2 Samuel 24:25;

1 Kings 3:4-14; 1 Kings 5-7 (in part); 8–10; 11:41–12:24; 14:21–15:24 (in part); 22 (in part);

2 Kings 8:17-29; 2 Kings 11, 12; 2 Kings 14:1-22; 2 Kings 15, 16 (in part); 21–24. (in part);

Ezra 1:1-3.

As the foregoing list shews, Chronicles by no means includes all the narratives of Samuel and Kings. Two noteworthy omissions are the Court History of David (2 Samuel 11-20) and the History of Elijah and Elisha (1 Kings 17-21; 2 Kings 1:1 to 2 Kings 8:15). On the other hand, Chronicles contains a great deal of matter not given in the earlier histories (cp. § 7).

§ 5. The Sources

The Chronicler (being one of the latest in date of the writers of the Old Testament) has made free use of the earlier books. His genealogies are drawn for the most part from different parts of the Hexateuch, while his narrative is in many cases taken with a few verbal changes from the books of Samuel and Kings (cp. e.g. 1 Chronicles 10 with 1 Samuel 31, or 2 Chronicles 18 with 1 Kings 22). Sometimes, however, we find these extracted passages rewritten, with characteristic touches added, so that they bear throughout the marks of the Chronicler’s style and of his point of view, and nothing remains in the passages themselves to shew that they come from an earlier source (cp. especially 2 Chronicles 22:10 to 2 Chronicles 24:14 with 2 Kings 11:1 to 2 Kings 12:16). It is therefore quite probable that other passages in Chron. exhibiting the characteristics of the Chronicler may (though having no parallel in Samuel or Kings) be derived from some equally early documents now lost to us.

In any case we cannot doubt that some sources of information were open to the Chronicler which were not used (or at least not used to the full) by the compiler of Kings, since we find in Chron. a great deal of material which has no place in the earlier histories. This information is of various kinds. We have details of family or tribal history, of topography or archæology, and of prophetic or priestly activity. Probably the special sources of information open to the Chronicler were (1) family or tribal songs or traditions, (2) local traditions, and (3) prophetic or priestly writings now lost to us.

(1) That the Chronicler had access to some early sources of tribal history seems probable from a consideration of the incidents of tribal history which he alone records. Thus we have the loss of “sixty cities” of the Gileadites to “Geshur and Aram” at an unrecorded time (1 Chronicles 2:23); the conquest of the “Entering in of Gedor” by the Simeonites in the days of Hezekiah (1 Chronicles 4:39-41); the successful war of the Reubenites against the Hagrites in the days of Saul (1 Chronicles 5:10; 1 Chronicles 5:18-22); and the disastrous raid of certain Ephraimites against the cattle of the men of Gath (1 Chronicles 7:21-22), together with its sequel, the repulse of the men of Gath (1 Chronicles 8:13).

Such events as the foregoing may very well have been preserved in tribal songs and have been thence transferred to the Chronicler’s roll, just as the deeds of David’s heroes (2 Samuel 23:8-23 = 1 Chronicles 11:11-25) were probably originally recorded in song. Indeed in this Praise of the Heroes the rhythmic beat, the naïve song-like turns, and the occurrence of a poetical expression (“he awoke his spear” ver. 11, Heb.), compel us to recognise verse.

Among the family traditions from which the Chronicler drew some of his materials are probably to be reckoned written or unwritten genealogical lists. Such lists probably contained not names only, but occasionally at least certain particulars concerning those named. Registers are mentioned as being in existence at a date subsequent to the Captivity (perhaps in the days of Ezra) in Nehemiah 7:64. Moreover the Chronicler speaks of genealogies which were reckoned “in the days of Jotham king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam king of Israel” (1 Chronicles 5:17). From semi-private sources like these came probably such a detail as that Beerah was prince (nâsî) of the Reubenites when “Tilgath-pilneser” carried them away captive (1 Chronicles 5:6).

Again, some statements suggest (in spite of 1 Chronicles 27:24) that the results of David’s census were in some form in the hands of the Chronicler. Thus he tells us (1 Chronicles 4:27) that the Simeonites did not multiply to the same extent as the children of Judah, and he gives (ib. 1 Chronicles 4:28-31) a list of their cities in the days of David. Similarly (1 Chronicles 7:2) we are told that the sons of Tola, the son of Issachar, amounted, in the days of David, to 22,600 men.

(2) Several facts again recorded in Chr. may be due to local tradition. Thus (1 Chronicles 11:8) when David took the castle of Zion and built (i.e. rebuilt) the city round it from Millo, Joab spared (not “repaired,” A.V. and R.V.) the rest of the city, i.e. perhaps a quarter in which Benjamites (not Jebusites) lived (cp. Jdg 1:21). This ancient unrestored (or undestroyed) quarter may have borne Joab’s name in consequence, and thus the tradition may have been preserved.

(3) The most important authority, however (other than Samuel and Kings), used by the Chronicler was probably a prophetic work or series of works cited under the names of successive prophets.

The following are references to it—

(a) 2 Chronicles 9:29, “Written in the history (words, Heb.) of Nathan the prophet, and in the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and in the visions of Iddo (Jedai or Jedo, Heb.) the seer concerning Jeroboam the son of Nebat.”

(b) ib. 2 Chronicles 12:15, “Written in the histories (words, Heb.) of Shemaiah the prophet and of Iddo the seer, after the manner of genealogies” (“in reckoning the genealogies,” marg.). See note on the passage.

(c) ib. 2 Chronicles 13:22, “Written in the commentary (midrash, Heb.) of the prophet Iddo.”

(d) ib. 2 Chronicles 20:34, “Written in the history (words, Heb.) of Jehu the son of Hanani, which is inserted (who is mentioned, marg.) in the books of the kings of Israel.”

(e) ib. 2 Chronicles 26:22, “The rest of the acts of Uzziah, first and last, did Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, write.”

(f) ib. 2 Chronicles 32:33, “Written in the vision of Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz, in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel.”

(g) ib. 2 Chronicles 33:19, “Written in the history (words, Heb.) of Hozai” (of the seers, marg.).

A possible reference is found:—

(h) ib. 2 Chronicles 24:7, “Written in the commentary (midrash, Heb.) of the book of the kings.”

The reigns for which appeal is thus made to the authority of prophets or seers are those of Solomon (a), Rehoboam (b), Abijah (c), [not Asa], Jehoshaphat (d), [not Jehoram, nor Ahaziah], perhaps Joash (h), [not Amaziah], Uzziah (e), [not Jotham, nor Ahaz], Hezekiah (f), and Manasseh (g), but of no later king. Of the actual extent of the work (or series of works) we are in ignorance. It may possibly have included all the reigns mentioned above, although the Chronicler appeals to it for only half of them. Of its contents we are in still deeper ignorance. We may conjecture that the account of Abijah’s victory (2 Chronicles 13:3 ff.; no parallel in Kings) was taken from the ‘commentary of the prophet Iddo’ (ib. 2 Chronicles 13:22), and that the story of Jehoshaphat’s victory (2 Chronicles 20:20 ff.; no parallel in Kings) was derived from the ‘history of Jehu’ (ib. 2 Chronicles 20:34), but since the references are quite general in form, i.e. since they refer to the reigns and not to particular events in these reigns, our conjectures are but probable conjectures at the best.

Besides this series of prophetical works, the Chronicler refers after the manner of the compiler of Kings to a state chronicle (now lost). His references are not uniform, but it is probable that he refers to one and the same work, variously described as below:

(a) 1 Chronicles 9:1, “The book of the kings of Israel.”

(b) 2 Chronicles 16:11 (and elsewhere), “The book of the kings of Judah and Israel.”

(c) 2 Chronicles 27:7 (and elsewhere), “The book of the kings of Israel and Judah.”

(d) 2 Chronicles 33:18, “The acts (words, Heb.) of the kings of Israel.”

None of these references belong to the reign of David, for which the Chronicler appeals to

(a) 1 Chronicles 23:27, “The last acts of David” (so R.V. mg.), a lost work, perhaps part of (b).

(b) 1 Chronicles 27:14, “The chronicles (acts of the days, Heb.) of king David.”

(c) 1 Chronicles 29:29, “The history (words, Heb.) of Samuel the seer, and the history (words, Heb.) of Nathan the prophet, and the history (words, Heb.) of Gad the seer.” This last work is most probably to be identified with 1, 2 Samuel.

The “lamentations” referred to in 2 Chronicles 35:25 are not to be identified with the canonical book of that name. No doubt some lost book is meant.

§ 6. Character and Purpose

The main subject of Chronicles is the history of the kingdom of Judah (with special reference to its religious institutions) from the earliest times to the Return from Captivity. The presentation of the subject is the Chronicler’s own. The heroes of Israel are shewn in a new light, events are treated from a standpoint somewhat different from that of the writers of Samuel and Kings, and the religious institutions of Israel are treated with a fulness of detail such as we do not find in Samuel and Kings.

(1) In the first place, the great men of Israel are idealised. Their careers are not fully described, but certain incidents are selected to illustrate the side of each man’s character which commended itself to the Chronicler as useful for edification. Thus in the case of David, nothing is said either of his adultery or of the other scandals of his palace, while on the other hand his interest in the building of the Temple (cp. 2 Samuel 7:1 ff.) is dwelt upon, and his preparations for the building, not even mentioned elsewhere, are fully set forth. So it is again with Solomon; his foreign harem and his unfaithfulness in his old age to Jehovah are passed over in silence, while his erection of the Temple and his dedication of his work are described in detail. Such accounts of sin and scandal were to be found in some of the authorities to which the Chronicler refers (in the books of Samuel for instance; cp. § 5), but the Chronicler, writing with a purpose of his own, had no reason for incorporating them in his own work.

(2) In the second place, events are treated from a standpoint which is the Chronicler’s own and different from that of the earlier writers. There is indeed a good deal of truth In the oft-repeated remark that, whereas Samuel and Kings are “prophetical,” Chronicles is “priestly”; for we find that, while in the earlier histories references to the Mosaic laws affecting worship are few in number and general in character, in the books of Chronicles such references are numerous and precise; cp. § 7 (2). So marked indeed are they, that we are obliged to conclude that they point to some deliberate purpose on the part of the Chronicler. It is especially to be noted in this connexion that the actions of kings and others are judged with greater frequency than in the earlier books by a ritual, as distinguished from a purely moral, standard; cp. 2 Chronicles 13:9-11; 2 Chronicles 26:16 ff.

(3) Lastly, the religious institutions of Israel are treated with an unwonted fulness of detail. In Samuel and Kings nothing is said of the organisation of the priests; and the Levites, doorkeepers, and singers are barely mentioned; in Chronicles, on the other hand, very full accounts are given of all classes of Temple ministrants and of their duties; 1 Chronicles 23-26; cp. 1 Chronicles 6:1-81; 1 Chronicles 9:10-34. Similarly in Kings a great Passover of Josiah is briefly mentioned (2 Kings 23:21-23), while in Chronicles the same Passover is fully described (2 Chronicles 35:1-19); and three whole chapters (ib. 2 Chronicles 9-31) are devoted to the ritual acts and measures of Hezekiah as compared with one verse in Kings (2 Kings 18:4).

Taking all these considerations into account, we conclude that one main purpose of the Chronicler was to impress upon his people the importance of the Temple worship. He assigns the organisation of that worship even in its details to David and Solomon, he judges the men of the Past by their faithfulness to the Temple, and he describes a Passover or an Atonement festival with the care and particularity with which other historians would describe a battle or a revolution.

Another main purpose of the Chronicler was more general in its character; it was to bring all events and all individuals to a religious and moral test. The judgements passed on the kings are more detailed in Chronicles than in the earlier histories; cp. 1 Chronicles 10:13-14 (note). Sometimes the Chronicler gives judgement in his own person, sometimes again the speeches of kings (cp. 2 Chronicles 13:4 ff; 2 Chronicles 20:20), or, specially, the utterances of prophets (cp. 2 Chronicles 15:2 ff; 2 Chronicles 19:2 f.) express his views on events. We further gather that a third main purpose of the Chronicler was to preach the duty of faithfulness to Jehovah the God of Israel by describing the prosperity of faithful kings (2 Chronicles 17:4-5; 2 Chronicles 26:5) in the Past, and the temporal punishments which befel the unfaithful (ib. 2 Chronicles 21:12-15) and wicked (ib. 2 Chronicles 24:24-25). In Chronicles nearly every calamity is shewn to be the punishment of previous sin (cp. the story of Uzziah’s leprosy), and nearly every sin is followed by temporal punishment (cp. e.g. 2 Chronicles 28:6-7), and moreover the connexion between sin and calamity is regularly pointed out. The Chronicler, in brief, is rather a commentator than a recorder, a religious teacher rather than a historian.

The religious purpose then of the Chronicler is clear; we next ask, What was his immediate aim? For what readers did he write? The nature of his work and of the material which he collected suggests the answer. He wrote for the readers for whom the Pentateuch in its present form was intended, i.e. for the restored community of Exiles, which was reorganised through the labours of Nehemiah and Ezra. That community looked to the Temple as its centre, and needed for its consolidation just such religious institutions as are described in Chronicles. Though the latest editorial touches seem to be later than 300 b.c., the substance of the book of Chronicles seems to have been compiled by some older or younger contemporary of Nehemiah in order to forward the religious organisation of the Returned Exiles.

§ 7. Relation to Samuel and Kings

Chronicles stands in a threefold relation to the earlier historical books (Samuel and Kings). (1) Sometimes it reproduces the text of the earlier book so closely as to become a help in textual criticism, (2) sometimes it paraphrases the text and adds glosses, (3) sometimes it gives a somewhat different account of events, (4) In part it supplements the earlier accounts by adding large sections on matters omitted in them.

(1) Generally speaking it may be said that the text of Chronicles is inferior to that of the earlier books, as the following instances shew:—

(a) 1 Chronicles 10:10, “fastened his skull in Beth-Dagon” (1 Samuel 31:10, Heb. and [LXX.], “fastened his body to the wall of Beth-shan.”)

(b) 1 Chronicles 11:23, “a man of stature” (2 Samuel 23:21, Heb. Ḳ’ri and LXX. “a goodly man.”)

(c) 1 Chronicles 20:6, “a man of stature” (2 Samuel 21:20, Heb. Ḳ’rî and [LXX.] “a man of championship.”)

(d) 2 Chronicles 25:19, “Lo, thou hast smitten Edom” (2 Kings 14:10, Heb. and LXX. “Thou hast indeed smitten Edom.”)

An instance of the superiority of the text preserved in Chronicles is found 1 Chronicles 20:4, Heb. and LXX. “there arose war at Gezer” = 2 Samuel 21:18, “There was again war … at Gob.”

(2) The instances in which the Chronicler has either paraphrased the older text lying before him or added glosses to it are very numerous. A few examples only can be given here; they are chosen so as to illustrate the Chronicler’s attitude towards religious ordinances. Many definite statements that such and such a king observed such and such an injunction of the Mosaic Law are found in Chronicles, though absent from the parallel passages of Samuel and Kings.

1 Chronicles 14:12.  2 Samuel 5:21.“And [the Philistines] left their gods there, and David gave commandment, and they were burned with fire.” (Cp. Deuteronomy 7:5.)  “And [the Philistines] left their images there, and David and his men took them away” (R.V.).

1 Chronicles 15:1-15.  2 Samuel 6:12-17.It is definitely asserted that the Levites curried the ark [from the louse of Obed-edom] upon their shoulders according to the Law of Moses. (Cp. Exodus 25:13-14; Numbers 4:4-15.)

  Mention is made of the “bearers” of the ark (not of the use of a “new cart” as ver. 3), but it is not said who these bearers were.

1 Chronicles 27:23.  2 Samuel 24:9David did not number them that were from twenty years old and under. (Cp. Numbers 1:3.)

  says more vaguely that the men drawing sword were numbered.

2 Chronicles 8:12-13.  1 Kings 9:25.“Solomon offered … offering according to the commandment of Moses, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the set feasts, three times in the year, even in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles.” (Cp. Deuteronomy 16:16.)

  “Three times in a year did Solomon offer burnt offerings and peace offerings upon the altar which he built unto the Lord.”

There is nothing in the account in Kings to enable us to identify the three occasions.

We also find in Chron. certain corrections of the language of the earlier documents, by which references to the existence of practices not allowed by the Mosaic Law are removed.

1 Chronicles 18:17 b.

  2 Samuel 8:18 b.

“And the sons of David were chief about the king.” (Cp. Numbers 16:40.)

  “And David’s sons were priests (R.V.).”

(3) In some instances the statements of the Chronicler cannot be reconciled with those of the earlier historians, discrepancies having arisen, either because a different tradition has been followed, or because the statement of an earlier document has been misunderstood, or possibly because the Chronicler has corrected a statement which appeared from his standpoint to be incorrect. The strongest instances are supplied by 2 Chronicles 8:2; 2 Chronicles 22:9; 2 Chronicles 35:20-2 4.

2 Chronicles 8:2.

  1 Kings 9:12.

“The cities which Huram had given (R.V.) to Solomon.”

  “The cities which Solomon had given him (Hiram).”

It seems as though the Chronicler, who records nothing to Solomon’s discredit, was unable to believe that the great king had alienated any Israelite city.

2 Chronicles 22:9.

  2 Kings 9:27-28.

“And he (Jehu) sought Ahaziah: and they caught him, (now he was hiding in Samaria), and they brought him to Jehu, and slew him; and they buried him,” etc.

  “And Jehu followed after him (Ahaziah), and said, ‘Smite him also in the chariot:’ and they smote him at the ascent of Gur, which is by Ibleam. And he fled to Megiddo, and died there. And his servants carried him in a chariot to Jerusalem …”

No complete harmonisation of these two accounts can do justice to the language of both of them. According to Kings Ahaziah escaped (for the moment) wounded from Jehu and died of his wounds; according to Chron. he was brought to Jehu and slain.

The account of the death of Josiah shews a somewhat similar variation:

2 Chronicles 35:20-24.

  2 Kings 23:29.

“Josiah went out to meet (Heb.) him (Neco) …

  “King Josiah went to meet (Heb.) him (Necoh),

… and came to fight in the valley of Megiddo.


And the archers shot at king Josiah; and the king said … I am sore wounded.

  and he slew him at Megiddo, when he had seen him.”

And [his servants] brought him to Jerusalem; and he died,” etc.


(See the notes.)

(4) Important sections containing matter not found in the earlier histories are the following:—

1 Chronicles 15, 16; 1 Chronicles 22-29. (religious measures of David); 2 Chronicles 13-15. (Abijah and Asa); 2 Chronicles 17, 19, 20. (Jehoshaphat); 2 Chronicles 21:1-4; 2 Chronicles 21:11-19 (Jehoram); 2 Chronicles 26:5-20 (Uzziah); 2 Chronicles 28:6-15 (the Ephraimite war); 29–31. (Hezekiah’s ecclesiastical measures).

§ 8. The Historical Value of the Narratives peculiar to Chronicles

In the First Book of Chronicles there is an important section (22–29) for which there are practically no parallels in the earlier histories, and in the Second Book a still larger section (13–31) for which (except as regards 18, 23, 24) the parallels are few, fragmentary and somewhat discordant.

(A) The value of the first of these sections (1 Chronicles 22-29), as an authority for the history of David’s reign, as far as we are able to appraise it, Is somewhat uncertain. Such passages as 2 Samuel 6 (the Ark brought into the city of David) and 2 Samuel 7 (David’s desire to build a house for the Ark), shew indeed the king’s deep interest in matters connected with worship, but do not confirm the Chronicler when he traces back to David the origin of the organised system of ministration carried on in the Chronicler’s own day in the Temple through four descending grades of ministrants, viz., priests, Levites, singers, and doorkeepers. The allusions to worship in the earlier books (Samuel and Kings) all suggest that this highly organised system was not developed until long after David’s day, and that the Chronicler’s account contains many anachronisms.

(B) The question as to the historical value of the second of the two sections, viz., 2 Chronicles 13-31, is of much importance. We have practically nothing but these chapters to depend on as our authority for the internal history of the Southern kingdom and for its foreign relations (other than those with Israel) between the reigns of Rehoboam and Ahaz. If therefore we cannot trust the account given us in Chronicles, the greater part of the history of the kingdom of Judah is a blank.

Now in reference to this section of Chronicles as a whole it may be said:

(1) The political horizon of Judah is correctly represented in it, though both the Chronicler himself and the latest editor of the book wrote at a time when that horizon was greatly changed. Between 460 and 250 b.c. It would have been very difficult for a mere romance-writer to escape such an anachronism as the introduction of the Persians or of the Macedonians or of the Seleucid empire into the pre-exilic history of his country. The Chronicler had sufficient historical sense to escape this danger (2 Chronicles 28:23—see note—may be an exception).

(2) Passages bearing the stamp of the Chronicler’s peculiar style and point of view are sometimes drawn from pre-exilic sources, or at least from sources much earlier than the Chronicler’s own day (cp. ib. 2 Chronicles 28:23 with 2 Kings 11).

(3) Accounts distinguished by high numbers and sweeping statements must not be put down hastily as inventions. The high numbers of 2 Chronicles 13:17 (“five hundred thousand slain”), of ib. 2 Chronicles 14:9 (an army of “a thousand thousand”), and of ib. 2 Chronicles 28:8 (“two hundred thousand” captives), do not of themselves discredit the accounts of victories in which they occur. (The Russian losses at the great defeat of Plevna, July 31, 1877, were stated at 30,000 in Turkish accounts; the actual losses amounted to 6000 or 7000.)

(4) The silence of Kings with regard to events which concern the Southern kingdom only is normal. (2 Kings 11 is no exception, for the story of Athaliah is the sequel of the story of Ahab.) The mere absence therefore from Kings of such accounts as are contained in 2 Chronicles 14:9-15 (Asa’s victory over the Cushites), ib. 2 Chronicles 20:1-30 (Jehoshaphat’s victory over Moab and Ammon), and ib. 2 Chronicles 26:16-20 (the infliction of leprosy upon Uzziah), affords no presumption against the truth of these accounts, since they do not fall within the scope of the Book of Kings.

(5) Narratives found only in Chronicles are not to be entirely rejected simply because they illustrate some distinctive religious principle dear to the Chronicler, e.g. the principle that sin is quickly followed by some earthly retribution, e.g. defeat (2 Chronicles 24:15-24) or disease (2 Chronicles 26:16-20). The Chronicler may have been wrong in his inferences (cp. Luke 13:1-5) as to the connexion between particular sins and particular calamities; but the fact of the sin and the fact of the calamity may both be true notwithstanding.

We may now consider the historical character of the four chief narratives peculiar to Chronicles contained in this section (2 Chronicles 13-31), together with a fifth found in 2 Chronicles 33:11-13. They have been regarded (not as history in any sense of the word, but) as of the nature of Haggâdâh, i.e. as tales enforcing certain moral and religious lessons. These narratives are the following: (I.) Abijah’s Victory (2 Chronicles 13:3-20); (II.) Asa’s Victory (2 Chronicles 14:9-15); (III.) Jehoshaphat’s Victory (2 Chronicles 20:1-30); (IV.) Uzziah’s Leprosy (2 Chronicles 26:16-20). (V.) Moreover, the story of the Repentance of Manasseh (2 Chronicles 33:11-13) presents some difficulties, and is generally regarded as Haggadic, not historical.

(I.) Abijah’s Victory (2 Chronicles 13:3-20)

Such details of the narrative as the number of the forces engaged (ver. 3) and of the slain (ver. 17), the contents of Abijah’s speech (ver. 11, an allusion to Exodus 40:23-29), and the tone of the speech (cp. 1 Kings 15:3) seem to be unhistorical. On the other hand, there is no reason to doubt the statement that Abijah won a victory. If the further statement that Beth-el was taken by Abijah be true, then Beth-el must have been recaptured from Judah (cp. Amos 7:13) at some later time, perhaps in the days of Asa (cp. 1 Kings 15:16-17).

(II.) Asa’s Victory (2 Chronicles 14:9-15)

The historical character of this narrative is not destroyed: (a) by the absence of the story from Kings, for it does not fall within the scope of Kings, nor (b) by the exaggeration of numbers (2 Chronicles 14:9), for the number is evidently not meant for an accurate estimate, nor (c) by the vague and general cast of the narrative, for the Chronicler has no interest in military details. If by Zerah the Ethiopian (see note on 2 Chronicles 14:9) a Sabean prince be meant, the only real difficulty of the narrative is removed. No king Zerah of Ethiopia is known at this period, nor does there seem to be room for such a person.

(III.) The Victory of Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:1-30)

The Chronicler has described this event in a very mysterious manner, but the story in its outline bears the stamp of probability.

Three tribes (or parts of tribes) of kindred origin, impelled by hunger or by the straitness of their country, determined to settle in Western Palestine (2 Chronicles 20:11). Two roads were open to them, one round the northern end of the Dead Sea, passing by Jericho, the other by the southern end, passing through the wilderness of Tekoa. The former offered perhaps the more hospitable country to traverse, but it was blocked by Jericho. The confederates accordingly chose the route which passes round the southern end of the Dead Sea. In their advance through the south of Judah, a land of cliffs, ravines, and caves, they were doubtless harassed by the shepherd population of that region, and in the course of a difficult march dissensions are very likely to have broken out among them. The care taken by Jehoshaphat to invest the advance of his army from Jerusalem with the character of a religious act is quite of a piece with his anxiety (1 Kings 22:5; 1 Kings 22:7) to consult a prophet of the Lord before advancing against Ramoth-gilead. The greatness of the spoil, which took three days to gather (1 Kings 22:25), is consistent with the representation of 1 Kings 22:11 that the three tribes came to stay. They brought all their property with them. (Cp. G. A. Smith, Hist. Geography, p. 272 f.)

The fact that the whole story is absent from Kings forms no objection against its truth. Like Asa’s victory over the Cushites, Jehoshaphat’s deliverance from the confederates concerned only the south of the Southern kingdom. The business of the author of Kings was primarily with the Northern kingdom.

(IV.) Uzziah’s Leprosy (2 Chronicles 26:16-20)

In Kings only the prosperity and leprosy of Uzziah (Azariah) are recorded; in Chron., on the contrary, we have a story of prosperity followed by pride, and of presumption punished by leprosy. Moreover, the Chronicler attributes a particular act of presumption to the king, viz., offering incense upon the altar of incense. Now it is often assumed that such an act would not have been considered wrong in pre-exilic days, for in Samuel and Kings it is recorded even of pious monarchs that they took upon themselves priestly functions, e.g. David “offered burnt offerings” before the Lord and “blessed” the people (2 Samuel 6:17-18), and Solomon “burnt incense” (1 Kings 3:3) and “hallowed” the middle of the Temple court (ibid. 1 Kings 8:64). It is not however clear from such brief notices that these kings really acted in the same way as Uzziah. The great sacrifices of Solomon (1 Kings 3:4; 1 Kings 8:63) were on such a scale that he must needs have performed them by the help of intermediaries, and in particular the incense may have been offered entirely through the priests. Qui per alium facit, facit per se. Uzziah, on the contrary, is described as acting in tyrannical defiance of the priests. Some touches in the story (e.g. the mention of the altar of incense as a specially holy altar; cp. Exodus 30:1-10, apparently a very late passage) may be post-exilic, but the story itself may very well be pre-exilic. The “silence of Kings” in this place is only normal (cp. p. xxix), and the expression in 2 Kings 15:5, “the Lord smote the king” is consistent with the supposition that the writer knew of some story such as the Chronicler tells.

(V.) The Repentance of Manasseh (2 Chronicles 33:11-13)

The Chronicler draws a singularly dark picture of the reign of Manasseh (2 Chronicles 33:1-10), in which he is in close agreement with 2 Kings 21:1-18, and also with Jeremiah 15:4, where the dispersion of Judah is described as the result of the sin of Manasseh. Chronicles, however, stands alone in giving a sequel. The Assyrians carried Manasseh captive to Babylon (a quite credible statement; see notes on 2 Chronicles 33:11); at Babylon Manasseh repented, and on his return to Judah took steps to put down tie idolatry which he had himself set up. These two last statements, i.e. that Manasseh repented and that he reformed, are questioned by some scholars, who point out that the compiler of Kings, a nearly contemporary author, condemns Manasseh without reserve. If the Chronicler be accurate, they say, then the compiler of Kings is unjust. The dilemma, however, is not inevitable. The Chronicler does not date the king’s captivity nor his repentance, and there is nothing to prevent us from assigning his restoration to the throne to the last years of his reign. If this be the case, if some fifty years were spent in corrupting the people and some five in undoing the mischief, the reformation would have little abiding effect, and the compiler of Kings, in giving a brief summary (2 Kings 21-25) of the events which led to the fall of the Jewish state, was justified in omitting all reference to a repentance which came too late to stay the approaching ruin.

The general conclusion to which the study of these five narratives (and indeed of Chronicles as a whole) leads us is that the substantial accuracy of the Chronicler’s sketch of the history of Judah cannot reasonably be questioned. The continued existence of the little kingdom of Judah for three hundred and fifty years, with enemies on the south and revolted Israel on the north, is hardly to be explained except on the hypothesis that some such successes as the Chronicler describes (2 Chronicles 13:3 ff; 2 Chronicles 14:9 ff; 2 Chronicles 20:1 ff.) were gained by Judah. Moreover, portents and wonders, such as occur freely in the unhistorical Haggadah of later time, are absent from Chronicles. Nor, again, does the Chronicler bring together in incongruous association men who lived at different epochs, except perhaps in 2 Chronicles 21:12-15 (where however we should probably read “Elisha” for “Elijah”); cp. 2 Kings 3:11. In short, the main facts recorded by the Chronicler are all probable in themselves, and taken together give a consistent picture of the history of Judah.

§ 9. Versions of Chronicles

Chronicles has not fared well at the hands of its chief translators. Grave drawbacks mark the LXX., the Peshitta, and the Authorised English Version.

The Septuagint of Chronicles is in the main a close reproduction of the Massoretic text. It contains, however, one interpolation, viz. 2 Chronicles 35:19 abcd (ed. Swete) = 2 Kings 23:24-27. Moreover, the text was disfigured with some errors before it was translated into Greek, e.g. in 1Ch  19:17 (see note); 2 Chronicles 11:23; 2 Chronicles 21:2 (see note). In a few places, however, the Septuagint seems to have followed a Hebrew reading better than the Massoretic, e.g. in 2 Chronicles 14:10 (see note); 2 Chronicles 22:1 (see note); 2 Chronicles 32:22 (see note).

Occasionally ignorance of the meaning of Hebrew words is shown and transliterations are given instead of translations, e.g. in 2 Chronicles 3:16, ἐποίησεν σερσερὼθ ἐν τῷ δαβείρ (= R.V. “he made chains in the oracle”) and 2 Chronicles 26:21, ἐν οἴκῳ ἁφφουσιών v. ἁπφουσώθ (= R.V. “in a several house”). On the whole the LXX. gives but little help towards the criticism and exegesis of the book.

The Peshitta shews often the characteristics of a paraphrase rather than of a translation. Thus (1) it contains many interpretations of Haggadic character, e.g.

1 Chronicles 5:12, “And Joel went forth at their head and judged them and taught them the scriptures well” (= R.V. “Joel the chief, and Shapham the second”).

1 Chronicles 12:1, “They in their might were all servants of David; and if he had been willing, they would have killed Saul the son of Kish, for they were mighty men, and the men were warriors; and David was not willing to allow them to kill Saul” (= R.V. “they were among the mighty men, his helpers in war”).

1 Chronicles 29:15, “For we are made like the smoke of the pot, and we sojourn with thee” (= R.V. “For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners”).

2 Chronicles 21:11, “He gave the Nazarites of Jerusalem wine to drink” (= R.V. “[He] made the inhabitants of Jerusalem to go a whoring”).

2 Chronicles 35:23, “[Pharaoh-neco] shot Josiah. with two arrows” (= R.V. “The archers shot at king Josiah”).

(2) The Peshitta exhibits also some remarkable omissions (and substitutions); e.g.

2 Chronicles 4:10-22.

2 Chronicles 11:5 to 2 Chronicles 12:12, (1 Kings 12:25-30 followed by 1 Kings 14:1-9 being substituted).

(N.B. 1 Chronicles 26:13 to 1 Chronicles 27:34, though omitted in printed editions of the Peshitta, is found in two good MSS. and doubtless belongs to the text.)

The Authorised English Version of Chronicles is (like Ezra-Nehemiah and Daniel) a poor example of the translators’ work. The translation itself is generally good, but the English style is decidedly inferior to that of the better known books of the Old Testament, and the diction is characterised by a larger admixture of words derived from the Latin.

(A) Modern Phrases and Words

1 Chronicles 7:4, “bands of soldiers” (R.V. “bands of the host”).

1 Chronicles 16:30, “the world also shall be stable” (Psalm 96:10, “shall be established”).

1 Chronicles 19:5, “told David how the men were served.”

1 Chronicles 27:34, “the general of the king’s army” (cp. 2 Samuel 19:13, “captain of the host”).

1 Chronicles 28:4, “he liked me” (R.V. “he took pleasure in me”).

(B) Latinised Diction

1 Chronicles 17:11, “when thy days be expired” (2 Samuel 7:12, “be fulfilled”).

1 Chronicles 18:10, “to congratulate him” (2 Samuel 8:10, “to bless him”).

1 Chronicles 19:6, “they had made themselves odious” (2 Samuel 10:6, “they stank”).

1 Chronicles 19:13, “let us behave ourselves valiantly” (2 Samuel 10:12, “let us play the men”).

1 Chronicles 4:12, “pommels” (1 Kings 7:41, “bowls”).

1 Chronicles 18:12, “with one assent” (1 Kings 22:13, “with one mouth”).

1 Chronicles 21:8, “from under the dominion of Judah” (2 Kings 8:20, “from under the hand of Judah”).

Some careless or cumbrous constructions (e.g. 2 Chronicles 18:10; 2 Chronicles 31:6) occur, and some uncouth words, e.g. “terribleness” (1 Chronicles 17:21) and “magnifical” (ib. 1 Chronicles 22:5).


For the present edition of Chronicles I have consulted with advantage the following works:—

Bertheau, Chronik, 2te Auflage, 1873.

S. Oettli, Chronik, 1889.

R. Kittel, Chronicles (Critical edition of the Hebrew text), 1895.

Francis Brown, Chronicles (in Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible, 1898).

A. Klostermann, Chronik (in Hauck’s Realencyclopädie, 1898).

H. E. Ryle, Ezra and Nehemiah, 1893.

S. R. Driver, Introduction (pp. 484–507 with Appendix, pp. 540, 541).

Idem, The Speeches in Chronicles, in the Expositor, April, 1895.

G. Buchanan Gray, Hebrew Proper Names (pp. 172–242), 1896.

J. Wellhausen, Prolegomena (pp. 177–237).

A. T. Chapman, Index of Proper Names (Cambridge Companion to the Bible, pp. 559–606).

An excellent summary of what is known with regard to Chronicles is to be found in W. R. Smith, Chronicles, Encyclopædia Britannica, ed. ix (1876).

The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

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