[b-hebrew] Kings v's Chronicles

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at ont.com
Thu Aug 4 21:59:28 EDT 2005


Dear James,

>Recent discussion have made think about a question I have always had
>but never aired:
>
>Why did the chronicler feel the need to rerecord past history?
>Does chronicles bring any benefit that we didn't already have with 
>Samuel/Kings?

HH: I would suggest that you read an introduction to the Book of 
Chronicles. Even the introduction in the NIV Study Bible has helpful 
information. Let me give you its introductory information on the 
purpose of Chronicles:

>Purpose and Themes
>
>	Just as the authors of Samuel and Kings had organized and 
>interpreted the data of Israel's history to address the needs of the 
>exiled community, so the Chronicler wrote for the restored 
>community. The burning issue was the question of continuity with the 
>past: Is God still interested in us? Are his covenants still in 
>force? Now that we have no Davidic king and are subject to Persia, 
>do God's promises to David still have meaning for us? After the 
>great judgment (the dethroning of the house of David, the 
>destruction of the nation, of Jerusalem and of the temple, and the 
>exile to Babylon), what is our relationship to Israel of old? 
>Several elements go into the Chronicler's answer:
>	1. Continuity with the past is signified by the temple in 
>Jerusalem, rebuilt by the Lord's sovereign influence over a Persian 
>imperial edict (2Ch 36:22-23). For a generation that had no 
>independent political status and no Davidic king the author takes 
>great pains to show that the temple of the Lord and its service 
>(including its book of prayer and praise, an early edition of the 
>Psalms) are supreme gifts of God given to Israel through the Davidic 
>dynasty. For that reason his account of the reigns of David and 
>Solomon is largely devoted to David's preparation for and Solomon's 
>building of the temple, and David's instructions for the temple 
>service (with the counsel of Gad the seer and Nathan the prophet, 
>2Ch 29:25, and also of the Levites Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun, 2Ch 
>35:15). See also the Chronicler's accounts of the reigns of Asa, 
>Jehoshaphat, Joash, Hezekiah and Josiah. The temple of the Lord in 
>the ancient holy city and its service (including the Psalms) were 
>the chief legacy left to the restored community by the house of 
>David.
>	2. The value of this legacy is highlighted by the author's 
>emphasis on God's furtherance of his gracious purposes toward Israel 
>through his sovereign acts of election: (1) of the tribe of Levi to 
>serve before the ark of the covenant (15:2; see 23:24-32), (2) of 
>David to be king over Israel (28:4; 2Ch 6:6), (3) of Solomon his son 
>to be king and to build the temple (28:5-6, 10; 29:1), (4) of 
>Jerusalem (2Ch 6:6, 34, 38; 12:13; 33:7) and (5) of the temple (2Ch 
>7:12, 16; 33:7) to be the place where God's Name would be present 
>among his people. These divine acts give assurance to postexilic 
>Israel that her rebuilt temple in Jerusalem and its continuing 
>service mark her as God's people whose election has not been 
>annulled.
>	3. In addition to the temple, Israel has the law and the 
>prophets as a major focus of her covenant life under the leadership 
>of the house of David. Neither the Davidic kings nor the temple had 
>in themselves assured Israel's security and blessing. All had been 
>conditional on Israel's and the king's faithfulness to the law 
>(28:7; 2Ch 6:16; 7:17; 12:1; 33:8). In the Chronicler's account, a 
>primary feature of the reign of every faithful Davidic king was his 
>attempt to bring about compliance with the law: David (6:49; 15:13, 
>15; 16:40; 22:12-13; 29:19), Asa (2Ch 14:4; 15:12-14), Jehoshaphat 
>(2Ch 17:3-9; 19:8-10), Joash (2Ch 24:6, 9), Hezekiah (2Ch 29:10, 31; 
>30:15-16; 31:3-4, 21), Josiah (2Ch 34:19-21, 29-33; 35:6, 12, 26). 
>And to heed God's prophetic word was no less crucial. The faithful 
>kings, such as David, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah and Josiah-and even 
>Rehoboam (2Ch 11:4; 12:6) and Amaziah (2Ch 25:7-10)-honored it; the 
>unfaithful kings disregarded it to their destruction (Jehoram, 2Ch 
>21:12-19; Joash, 2Ch 2 4:19-25; Amaziah, 2Ch 25:15-16, 20; Manasseh, 
>2Ch 33:10-11; see 36:15-16). Chronicles, in fact, notes the 
>ministries of more prophets than do Samuel and Kings. Jehoshaphat's 
>word to Israel expresses the Chronicler's view succinctly: "Have 
>faith in the LORD your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his 
>prophets and you will be successful" (2Ch 20:20). In the 
>Chronicler's account of Israel's years under the kings, her response 
>to the law and the prophets was more decisive for her destiny than 
>the reigns of kings.
>	Thus the law and the prophets, like the temple, are more 
>crucial to Israel's continuing relationship with the Lord than the 
>presence or absence of a king, the reigns of the Davidic kings 
>themselves being testimony.
>	4. The Chronicler further underscores the importance of 
>obedience to the law and the prophets by emphasizing the theme of 
>immediate retribution. See the express statements of David (28:9), 
>of the Lord (2Ch 7:14) and of the prophets (2Ch 12:5; 15:2, 7; 16:7, 
>9; 19:2-3; 21:14-15; 24:20; 25:15-16; 28:9; 34:24-28). In writing 
>his accounts of individual reigns, he never tires of demonstrating 
>how sin always brings judgment in the form of disaster (usually 
>either illness or defeat in war), whereas repentance, obedience and 
>trust yield peace, victory and prosperity.
>	5. Clearly the author of Chronicles wished to sustain 
>Israel's hope for the promised Messiah, son of David, in accordance 
>with the Davidic covenant (2Sa 7) and the assurances of the 
>prophets, including those near to him (Haggai, Zechariah and 
>Malachi). He was careful to recall the Lord's pledge to David (1Ch 
>17) and to follow this with many references back to it (see 
>especially his account of Solomon's reign and also 2Ch 13:5; 21:7; 
>23:3). But perhaps even more indicative are his idealized depictions 
>of David, Solomon, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah and Josiah. While not 
>portrayed as flawless, these kings are presented as prime examples 
>of the Messianic ideal, i.e., as royal servants of the Lord whose 
>reigns promoted godliness and covenant faithfulness in Israel. They 
>were crowned with God's favor toward his people in the concrete 
>forms of victories, deliverances and prosperity. They sat, moreover, 
>on the "throne of the LORD" (29:23; see 28:5; 2Ch 9:8) and ruled 
>over the Lord's kingdom (17:14; 2Ch 13:8). Th us they served as 
>types, foreshadowing the David to come of whom the prophets had 
>spoken, and their remembrance nurtured hope in the face of much 
>discouragement (see the book of Malachi). See further the next 
>section on "Portrait of David and Solomon."
>	6. Yet another major theme of the Chronicler's history is his 
>concern with "all Israel" (see, e.g., 9:1; 11:1-4; 12:38-40; 16:1-3; 
>18:14; 21:1-5; 28:1-8; 29:21-26; 2Ch 1:1-3; 7:8-10; 9:30; 10:1-3, 
>16; 12:1; 18:16; 28:23; 29:24; 30:1-13, 23-27; 34:6-9, 33). As a 
>matter of fact, he viewed the restored community as the remnant of 
>all Israel, both north and south (9:2-3). This was more than a 
>theological conceit. His narrative makes frequent note of movements 
>of godly people from Israel to Judah for specifically religious 
>reasons. The first were Levites in the time of Rehoboam (2Ch 11:14). 
>In the reign of Asa others followed from Ephraim and Manasseh (2Ch 
>15:9). Shortly after the Assyrian destruction of the northern 
>kingdom, many from that devastated land resettled in Judah at 
>Hezekiah's invitation (2Ch 30). Presumably not all who came for 
>Hezekiah's great Passover remained, but archaeology has shown a 
>sudden large increase in population in the region around Jerusalem 
>at this time, and the Chronicler specifically mentions "men of 
>Israel . . . who lived in the towns of Judah" (2Ch 31:6). He also 
>speaks of "the people of Manasseh, Ephraim and the entire remnant of 
>Israel" who joined with "the people of Judah and Benjamin and the 
>inhabitants of Jerusalem" in restoring the temple in the days of 
>Josiah (2Ch 34:9). These were also present at Josiah's Passover (2Ch 
>35:17-18). So the kingdom of "Judah" had absorbed many from the 
>northern kingdom through the years, and the Chronicler viewed it as 
>the remnant of all Israel from the time of Samaria's fall.
>	7. The genealogies also demonstrate continuity with the past. 
>To the question "Is God still interested in us?" the Chronicler 
>answers, "He has always been." God's grace and love for the restored 
>community did not begin with David or the conquest or the exodus-but 
>with creation (1:1). For the genealogies see below.
>	8. The Chronicler often introduces speeches not found in 
>Samuel and Kings, using them to convey some of his main emphases. Of 
>the 165 speeches in Chronicles of varying lengths, only 95 are found 
>in the parallel texts of Samuel and Kings. Cf., e.g., the speeches 
>of Abijah (2Ch 13:4-12), Asa (2Ch 14:11) and Jehoshaphat (2Ch 
>20:5-12).

					Yours,
					Harold Holmyard






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