The Book of 1st Chronicles
It is a challenge for twenty-first modern man to settle down for a study of the book of First
Chronicles and struggle through the first nine chapters of genealogy. The question can present itself
whether Paul overlooked this book when he wrote to Timothy: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is
useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be
thoroughly equipped for every good work.”1
J. Sidlow Baxter, in Explore the Book, writes about those genealogies: “Nine chapters of
genealogical tables! What waste of space! Nay, rather, what blindness to think so! No part of the
Chronicles is more important. Such lines of descent were of sacred importance to all godly Jews, and
rightly so, for they knew that their nation, besides being the repository of a special Divine revelation,
was the possessor of wonderful Divine promises reaching on to unborn generations. The chronicler
himself knew well enough that these genealogies reveal the selective process of Divine election right
from Adam downwards, and that the covenant line of redemptive purpose was to culminate in the
Messiah. Especially did the preservation of the trunk and the main branches of Israel’s family tree
become vital after the Babylonian exile (when the Chronicles were written). Families had been uprooted
by the thousands. Connections had been broken. Many records had been lost (see for instance Ezra ii.
59), and Judah’s archives must have become largely disintegrated even where not actually destroyed.
Our chronicler’s list links the pre-Exile with the post-Exile period; for (as should be clearly grasped)
chapter ix. 2-34 concerns the resettlement in Judea after the Exile. The break is marked by the first verse
of that chapter, which should really be the last verse of the preceding chapter. The Angus Bible
Handbook remarks: ‘These tables give the sacred line through which the promise was transmitted for
nearly 3,500 years, a fact unexampled in the history of the human race.’”
Title of the Book:
The Tyndale Commentary states about the title of Chronicles: “The English title of the books of 1
and 2 Chronicles has an unusual history. It originates neither from the original Hebrew, nor (despite the
fact that ‘chronicle’ comes from a Greek word chronikon) from the Septuagint, the Greek translation of
the Old Testament. It was not in fact until the fourth century AD that Jerome, the famous Bible
translator, first applied the term ‘Chronicle’ to these books. He suggested in the prologue to his Latin
translation of Samuel and Kings that in place of the Greek title Paraleipomena … usually given to the
work, ‘we might more plainly call it the chronicle (chronikon) of the whole of sacred history.’ Though
Jerome wrote no commentary on Chronicles and retained the traditional Greek title, his proposal
eventually became the basis of the title now used in the English Bible. The mediating influence came
from Luther, whose German title, Die Chronika, passed into English when Bible translations
proliferated during the Reformation period.
Despite its comparatively late appearance, ‘chronicle’ is a good idiomatic translation of the
expression dib?ré hayy?mîm, the accepted Hebrew title of the work. The phrase means literally ‘the
events of the days,’ i.e. ‘annal, chronicle,’ and though it appears only once in the body of Chronicles (1
Chr. 27:24), it became associated with the work through its frequent appearance in Kings (cf. 1 Kgs.
14:19, 29; 15:7, 23, 31). It may well have been used as a title for Chronicles from quite early on, judging
by the similar usage of the phrase in other Old Testament books of the same general period (cf. Neh.
II Tim. 3:16, 17