Introduction to 1 Chronicles
and Study of 1 Chronicles 1-2
April 24th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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1 Chronicles (Overview)

The two books of Chronicles provide a summarized history of Israel and Judah up to the point of exile to Babylon. We may be tempted to skip over it when we open the first chapter and notice a genealogy that begins with Adam and continues through the first chapter, the next one, the next one, and so on, for nine chapters. Don’t give in to that temptation because these books contain important truths for us.

The author of Chronicles is assumed to be Ezra, who wrote these books to educate and inspire the survivors of the twelve tribes of Israel that were living in Babylon after the exile of the southern kingdom. The genealogical records helped the people to trace their histories and also authenticate their relationships to the twelve tribes. The summaries of the histories of the kings of Israel and Judah helped to educate them on how to build the new temple in Jerusalem.

In the Christian Bible, the books of Chronicles appear within the series of books of history and before the books of the prophets. But they are in a different location in the Hebrew Scriptures used by our Jewish brethren today and studied by our friend Jesus in his day. In that version of the Bible, the Chronicles are the last two books. We are reminded by Jesus of this order when he rebukes the Pharisees and others in Matthew chapter 23:

Jesus' reference to the murder of Abel points to the beginning of the Bible and his reference to the murder of Zechariah points to the end of the Hebrew Bible, in the latter part of the book we refer to as 2 Chronicles.

Therefore, Chronicles has an important position as the container of the last word in the Hebrew Bible. It also has a special role in the annual Yom Kippur ceremonies. One source of Jewish law and traditions list it as “one of the books to be read by the high priest on the night before Yom Kippur so that he will stay awake (1).” From the Christian perspective we can refer to a quote from the 5th Century A.D. scholar, Jerome, who translated the Old Testament books from Hebrew directly into Latin, as opposed to relying on the Greek translations. Jerome said that Chronicles contains “the meaning of the whole of sacred history (2).”

Consequently, I urge you, don’t be put off by an apparently tedious beginning and the perception of repetitious information, but instead search for the meanings that have been appreciated by Jerome and other scholars and priests.

The first book of Chronicles can be divided into two parts:

References used for the analysis of this book include the following:

1 Chronicles 1-2 (Adam to David)

Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

And Abraham begat Isaac. The sons of Isaac; Esau and Israel.

- 1 Chronicles 1:34

Summary of Chapters

The first two chapters review the genealogies from Adam to David. In the concise summary of many generations documunted in chapter 1 we can see the names of the forefathers of Edom, Canaan, Egypt, and other nations. Chapter 2 begins with Jacob, aka Israel, and the names of his sons for whom the twelve tribes of Israel had been named. Each tribe was named after one of these sons, except that the descendants of Levi were dedicated to a priesthood serving all the tribes and the descendants of Joseph were divided into two tribes named after his sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.

The genealogy of the immediate family of David is tucked into the middle of chapter 2, from verses 10-17. Ram was the father of Salmon, who was the father of Boaz. Although not mentioned here, we know from earlier books that Boaz married Ruth, who gave birth to Obed, who was the father of Jesse, who had seven sons, including the youngest, David, and three daughters. The chapter then continues with other families from Judah, but the beginning of the following chapter (in tomorrow's study) features a record of the sons and daughters.

Please note that the phrase “sons of” may not always necessarily mean the next generation but could refer to a son or sons several generations later. Also note that the Caleb mentioned in chapter 2 is not the same brave spy named Caleb who tried to encourage the first generation of exodites to take over Canaan.

Reflection and Application

As we read this genealogy we ought to give thanks for our spiritual forefathers, because we are connected to this chain. The stories of these families and the faith of Abraham have been passed down from one generation to the next, and to the next, and so on, and now rests in our hands. How will we ensure that these stories are told and for what accomplishments will we be remembered?

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. Who is the earliest ancestor in your family that you know about?
    2. In what ways are Christians and Jews related to Abraham?
    3. How do we find the deepest meanings of the sacred history in Chronicles?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven, we acknowledge you as the creator of the first man. Help us to pass your story to the next generations.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns


    (1) Tuell, Steven S. First and Second Chronicles, Interpretation, John Knox Press, Louisville, KY, 2001, p.2
    (2) Ibid, p.3

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Chronicles 3-4 (Prayer of Jabez)

    Comments and Questions
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