THE FIRST BOOK OF THE CHRONICLES
Like the Books of Samuel and the Books of the Kings, the Books of the Chronicles were originally written as one volume, bearing a name in the Hebrew which signifies “Words of Days,” a name which may be freely translated as “History.” The English title is taken from the name suggested by Jerome, who prepared the first Latin translation of the Bible which came into general use in the Church.
The Books of the Chronicles contain a section of Jewish history, selected for a certain purpose and written from a definite point of view. By choosing certain phases and emphasizing certain traits in the general history and in particular biographies, especially all such factors as pertained to the establishment and maintenance of the true worship, the author intended to inspire the Jews who had just returned from the Babylonian exile with zeal for the will of Jehovah. He pictures the blessings which followed a loyal adherence to the covenant and the punishment of its rejection. This purpose explains the choice of material, the rhetorical form, which is observable in various sections, and the continual emphasis upon the religious side in the life of the kings.
The Books of the Chronicles may be divided into the following parts: 1. Genealogical tables from the earliest times to the end of the exile, together with historical notes and geographical lists, 1 Chron. 1-10; 2. the history of David, 1 Chron. 11-30; 3. the history of Solomon, 2 Chron. 1-9; 4. the history of the kingdom of Judah down to the Babylonian captivity, 2 Chron. 10-36.
The Second Book of the Chronicles closes with the statement that King Cyrus of Persia issued a written proclamation throughout all his kingdom, permitting the Jews to return to Jerusalem, 2 Chron. 36, 22. 23. He made this proclamation in the first year of his reign, which was about 536 B. C. Accordingly, these books must have been written after this date, after the return of the Jews. On the other hand, the work must not be dated much later, for the author speaks of darics, Persian gold coins bearing on one side the image of Darius, and the Jews used these Persian coins only while under Persian rule. From the similarity of the last two verses in Chronicles and of the first two in Ezra, it has been concluded that the pious and learned scribe Ezra himself, who was endowed with the spirit of prophecy, is the author, and this must be assumed as having every show of probability.1)