Wow! Is this a long book? This book is a combination of genealogies and the glorification of King David. This is an attempt to give a historical foundation for all that happened. The individual names are almost endless. King David is always in a good light. Unlike his portrayal in the books of Samuel and Kings, here King David can do no wrong. The first nine chapters are long lists of genealogies that go from Adam to Saul. In fact, the portrait of Saul is very cursory. Then the rest of this book is about King David in chapters ten to twenty-nine. How wonderful King David was! When King David was king there was a theocracy in Israel, where Yahweh dominated all things. Clearly there is an emphasis on how important the Temple worship was as King David spent so much time and energy preparing to build the Temple. We also learn about many of the clerical positions around the Temple such as the gatekeepers and the singers.
The Book of Chronicles is the last book of the Hebrew Bible, where it is called the “Matters of the days” or in Greek, “Miscellanies or things omitted or left to one side.” However, for Christians the Chronicles follow the books of Kings and precede Ezra before concluding the so-called historical books. Chronicles was originally one work, but the Septuagint Greek translators divided it into 1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles, which Jerome in his Latin Vulgate translation continued. This work dates from around 400-250 BCE, with probably the 300s BCE as realistic. The biblical writer or writers were probably Jerusalem Levitical priests after the Second Temple was built. There may be some connection between this author and the priestly writer of the Pentateuch, since they share common concerns. Others have seen this work as a continuation of Deuteronomy. In any case, we learn more about the state of mind of the Levites after the Exile, with the glorification of King David and the Temple built by King David and King Solomon that had been destroyed.
This work begins with an attempt to show the genealogies from Adam to Jacob or Israel as he is called in this book. In fact, the first chapter goes from Adam to Jacob, via Seth and not Cain and Abel, the pre-historic patriarchs and then finally to Noah. After the flood with Noah there was an attempt to show how the world was populated via Japheth, Ham, Cush, Egypt, Canaan, Shem, Arpachshad, and Joktan. Finally there are the descendents from Shem, the son of Noah to Abraham. This includes Hagar and Sarai, Ishmael and Isaac, plus the descendents of Abraham by Keturah. This first section ends with Esau and Israel (Jacob). Throughout this book, the author always calls Jacob “Israel” to show how Jacob is the father of Israel. However, there was an excursion into the descendents of Esau in the near Eastern Arabian tribes.
The highlight of this genealogy was the descendents of Israel, in particular his son Judah, not the other 11 sons or tribes. Even among the descendants of Judah, there is an emphasis on the descendants of Perez. Although we do learn about the descendants of Zerah and Hezron, this author was concerned about the ancestors of King David. There certainly is a lot about the descendents of Caleb also.
Finally, we get to the house of King David. We learn about his sons born at Hebron and Jerusalem. There is even a list of the kings of Judah who were all descendents of King David as he was the center of attention. Even after the Exile there was an attempt to trace the Davidic line.
Next there was an attempt to situate the Israelites into southern, northern, and Transjordan tribes and people. The southern area was dominated by the tribe of Judah, from whence David came. We learn about all the great men of Judah,
Hur, Ashhur, Koz, Jabez, Chelub, Kenaz, Caleb, Jehallelel, Ezrah, Hodiah, Shimon, Ishi, and. Shelah. Then there is a little bit about Simeon and its tribe and where they lived. We learn about the leaders of the Simeon tribe and their fights with Ham, Meunim, and the Amalekites.
The tribes across the Jordan were Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh. We learn about the sons of Reuben, particularly Joel and where he lived. Then it is on to Gad, his clans and territory. These Transjordan Israelites were involved in many wars. We learn about the territory of the half tribe of Manasseh and their leaders with their transgressions. All the other tribes will be inferior to Judah.
The Levites, or sons of Levi, were also important. They were divided into the sons of Kohath, Gershom, and Merari. We find out about the descendents of each of these groups of Levites. Then we learn about the cantors or singers, led by one person from each Levite group, Heman the Kohathite, Asaph the Gershonite, and Ethan the Merarite. These sons of Aaron made offerings to Yahweh. We also learn where each of these Levite groups lived, the Kohathites in Judah, the Gershonites north, and the Merarites in the Transjordan area. We also learned about the cities of refuge and the various towns rather than territories that were given to the Levites.
Finally there are the tribes of the north. The sons of the Issachar tribe included Tola and Uzzi. There is also an inclusion of the sons of the Benjamin tribe, including Bela, Beecher, Jediael, and Ir. Then there is a short list of the sons of the Naphtali tribe. The list of the sons of the Manasseh tribe is more extensive, with his wife Machir and the unique story of Zelophehad and his daughters. The sons of the Ephraim tribe are shown to be great fighters as their descendents and territory is outlined. The sons of the Asher tribe, particularly Beriah, Heber, Jether, and Ulla get special attention. However, there was no mention of the tribes of Dan or Zebulun.
Then there is a special emphasis on the tribe of Benjamin and Jerusalem. The descendants of Benjamin take on a larger role since that is where Jerusalem was located. First, there are the sons of Bela and Ehud. The descendents of Shaharaim and Elpaal play a role. The chiefs at Aijalon are important. The various sons of Beriah, Elpaal, Shimei, Shashak, and Jeroham dominate in the lists of the chiefs of Jerusalem.
Then it was back to the rehabilitation of Jerusalem, the holy city, after the Exile. This is the only instance where the post-exilic times are explicitly mentioned. The first to return after the Exile were the sons of Judah and Benjamin. Of course the men of the Temple returned also, the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the keepers of the temple items, and the singers.
Next it was on to King Saul, the predecessor of King David. We learn about his ancestors and family at Gibeon, which is just outside of Jerusalem. We learn about the family of King Saul, the descendents of Jonathan, his son, and his brothers. King Saul and his three sons died at the battle of Gilboa. We learn of the fate of his body and burial. This biblical author even explains why King Saul died.
Now it is on the main event of this book, King David. He is considered to be the founder of the Temple cult even though the Temple was not built until after his death. Much of the material here is an editing of the work of 2 Samuel. There is nothing about King David’s youth here. This story begins with the anointing of King David. He then took Jerusalem. We learn about the leader of the “Three” mighty warriors of King David and their exploits. Then there was Abishai and the leader of the “Thirty” warrior chiefs of King David’s army. Benaiah was his body guard.
King David began to build his army at Ziklag, where the Benjaminite, the Gadite, the Judah, and the Manasseh warriors joined him. They formed an army of God when people from all the other twelve tribes of Israel contributed to King David’s army that now had large resources.
King David wanted to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. However, on the way from Kiriath-jearim, Uzzah was struck dead because he touched the Ark of the Covenant when it stumbled on a bad pothole in the road. Thus King David was afraid to move it again. He went back to Jerusalem and there had some more children. As per usual he had a couple of victories over the Philistines.
Finally the Ark of the Covenant was brought to the city of David after he found out that no one else had died. He began to organize the Levites, the priests, and the musicians in preparation for the transport of the Ark. There was great rejoicing and ceremonies to transport the Ark of the Covenant. Michal, the wife of King David, despised him as the Ark arrived at the tent in Jerusalem. So there was a music service and a song of thanksgiving before the Ark. This thanksgiving song centered on the Ark of the Covenant, the faithful few, the great Yahweh, the creator, and the savior. The gatekeepers and the Levites served before the Ark.
Then there was bad news for King David. The prophet Nathan told him that Yahweh did not want him to build the house of Yahweh, the Temple for the Ark of the Covenant. Instead his son would. Nevertheless, there is the great prayer of King David as he praised Yahweh.
King David, ever the warrior, defeated the Philistines again, the Moabites, the Arameans, and the Edomite. However, his messengers to Ammonites were insulted so he went out and defeated them too. Once again he beat the Arameans and Philistines. They never seem to give up completely.
King David returned to Jerusalem as he began to plan the construction of the house of Yahweh, the Temple. Although 1 Kings showed that King Solomon built the Temple, here this author emphasized the role of King David in the preparations for building the Temple by his son.
King David took a census of the people that was Satanic inspired. Joab took the census but the numbers were different than in 2 Samuel. However, King David was given three choices as a punishment. He chose the three day plague or pestilence. Then of course, King David was sorry because so many people were dying. Before the angel of death could get to Jerusalem, he stopped at a threshing floor near Jerusalem. King David wanted to purchase the threshing floor and erect an altar there. This threshing floor altar became the place where the Temple of Yahweh was built.
King David, not King Solomon, prepared for the construction of the temple. He worried about his young son Solomon. The word of Yahweh came to King David. He was not going to build the house of Yahweh, but his son would.
King David gave instructions to Solomon. He asked all the leaders of Israel to help Solomon. Then he made Solomon king.
King David then turned his attention to the Levites. He took a census of them that was less controversial. He found out who the sons of Gershom, Kohath, and Merari were. He outlined the duties of the Levites and the priests. He established the various priestly positions. He set up the three cantors, the sons of Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman. He established the number of musicians and their various positions. He set up the Korahite gatekeepers and the other gatekeepers. He put Levites in charge of the treasury of the temple. The lineage of Moses was in charge of the gifts given to the temple.
King David had his officers and judges. The Hebronites were in charge of both sides of the Jordan. He also set up twelve monthly military and political leaders that rotated every month. There were of course the various tribal leaders as well. He had household and property chiefs as well as his favorite counselors.
Before his death, King David held a great assembly for all of Israel. He told them that he was not going to build the Temple. His son Solomon would follow King David to the throne and build the Temple. Thus he gave an admonition to Solomon about building the Temple. He also gave Solomon the detailed plans for the Temple. There is a final admonition of King David to Solomon. He made offerings and asked others to do so for the construction of the Temple.
This books ends with the beautiful blessing and prayer of King David. He makes more great sacrifices. King Solomon becomes king as the end of the reign of King David closes out this book. The glorification of King David has been completed. The great King David is the high point and conclusion of this book of 1 Chronicles.