Thursday, August 20, 2015

What’s In The Book: Chronicles

Technically, Chronicles, the last book of the 24 books of the entire Bible, is divided into two separate books, I Chronicles and II Chronicles. Based on the nature of the text, however, they are best summarized together. The Hebrew title for the Book of Chronicles is Divrei Hayamim, which is most accurately translated as “The Events of the Days.”

Chronicles outlines human history from Adam until the beginning of the Second Temple. Within Chronicles, there is a strong emphasis on geneology -- the first nine chapters are particularly laden with lists of who begot whom. While the early geneology lists are interrupted for certain narratives, the family listings fade from prominence once Chronicles reaches King David. From I Chronicles 10 until II Chronicles 9, the text focuses on the reign of King David and the reign of his heir, King Solomon, both of whom ruled over a united kingdom of all twelve tribes. The final chapters of II Chronicles focus primarily on the Kings of Judah (the southern kingdom) through the period of the Babylonian conquest and the Jewish people’s eventual return from exile.

The Books of Chronicles are part of the Hebrew Bible known as Ktuvim, Writings. According to tradition, Chronicles was written by Ezra the Scribe, who led the Jewish people back to the Land of Israel in order to begin rebuilding the Temple. At the time it was written, Chronicles, which retells much of Jewish history already recorded in the Five Books of Moses, the books of Samuel and the books of Kings, may have been conceived as a history book to help the exiled Jewish nation reconnect with their powerful history and give them the courage to start rebuilding.

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