Lesson 1 of5
In Progress

Summary of 1 Chronicles

SUMMARY

First Chronicles begins with nine chapters of genealogies from Adam to the Chronicler’s postexilic community. This is followed by a report of the tragic death of Saul, Israel’s first king, and a long description of the reign of David. David is presented as an ideal king, chosen by God and promised an eternal dynasty, who piously cares for the ark, secures Jerusalem, and makes exhaustive preparations for the building of the temple and the organization of its worship.

SO WHAT?

David commands center stage in 1 Chronicles. He is presented in a somewhat idealized fashion in comparison with the familiar story in the books of Samuel, but this is designed to emphasize his relationship to the temple in Jerusalem and proper worship. Addressed to the small postexilic community who had returned from exile, David’s story is meant to be exemplary of pious leadership.

WHERE DO I FIND IT?

First Chronicles is the thirteenth book in the Old Testament. It follows 2 Kings and precedes 2 Chronicles.

WHO WROTE IT?

Jewish tradition identifies Ezra as the author of 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah. Today, many scholars believe that 1 and 2 Chronicles come from a different hand than Ezra and Nehemiah and that various older traditions, including the books of Samuel and Kings, have been gathered together and edited by a nameless postexilic editor.

WHEN WAS IT WRITTEN?

First Chronicles is notoriously difficult to date, though it is clearly later than Israel’s return from exile in Babylon. Since the list in 1 Chronicles 3:19-24 extends David’s genealogy to the sixth generation after Zerubbabel, who is dated to 520 B.C.E. (Haggai 1:1), this sixth generation would be sometime after 400 B.C.E. Thus, many scholars date 1 Chronicles to the first half of the fourth century (ca. 350 B.C.E.).

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

First Chronicles retells the story of David, already familiar from 2 Samuel, for a postexilic audience, emphasizing David’s preparations for the building of the temple and the establishment of worship.

HOW DO I READ IT?

First Chronicles looks like a history of Judah, the southern kingdom, already related in 2 Samuel. While important historical information is presented, some of it is at odds with the earlier presentation. First Chronicles should be read as a theological, rather than a historical, rewriting of the earlier history, designed to demonstrate the continuity of David and Solomon’s united monarchy with the struggling postexilic community to which the book was addressed.

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