1 & 2 Chronicles were most likely written by Ezra, after or at the time of the return of the Jews from Babylonian captivity (c. 430 BC). They cover Israel's history from the beginning of the monarchy to its end. It is the same period of history covered by the books of 2 Samuel and Kings. The Chronicler, however, is primarily concerned with the history of the southern kingdom, Judah. He mentions Israel only when Israel's history touches Judah's. He is writing for the Jews who are struggling to begin a new life after 70 years of exile.
The first nine chapters of 1 Chronicles contain many names--genealogical and property records, etc. The Chronicler puts special emphasis on the genealogies of Judah (David's tribe) and Levi, the tribe of the priests. The hero of 1 Chronicles is King David. He is the Shepherd of Israel. The Shepherd God called David and trained him to be the shepherd of his people. In 2 Chronicles the Levites rather than the kings are the heroes. They were the caretakers of the temple and the Bible teachers of the nation. The restoration of the temple was a miracle. It reminded the returned exiles that God still loved them and had a purpose for them. The key to national restoration, however, was the Bible. They must study it and put it into practice. This is also our key to national and personal restoration. We will begin our daily readings with 1 Chronicles 9. Read through the genealogies.
1. Genealogies from Genesis (1:1-2:2)
The Chronicler goes from Adam to Noah in 1:1-3. 1:4-27 contains the genealogies of Noah's sons, concluding with and focusing on Shem, the ancestor of the elect line. This brings us to Abraham. 1:28-50 summarizes Abraham's children, including those of Hagar and Keturah--and Sarah. Sarah's elect son, Isaac, had twin sons: Jacob and Esau. The genealogy of Esau, the non-elect son, is summarized here (1:35-51) as in Genesis 36. The genealogical records of the sons of Jacob, the elect son, are recorded in detail, for these are the patriarchs of Israel. The names of Jacob's sons are listed in 2:1-2, with the 6 sons of Leah, Jacob's first wife, mentioned first.
2. Judah's line (2:3-4:23)
Judah is the elect son; he is the ancestor of King David. David's family is the focus of this section. David's descendants, the kings of Judah from Solomon to the exile, are recorded in 2:10-16, and the royal line after the exile is recorded in 2:17-24.
3. The other tribes and Levi (4:24-8:39)
The Levites were responsible for temple worship--and the music. Their names, duties and property rights are listed in chapters 6 and 9:10-34. All priests were descendants of Aaron. The majority of the pioneers who returned to re-build Jerusalem after the exile were Levites. They are listed in 9:1-44. The monarchy began with a failure--King Saul. Chapter 8 is his genealogy. His family record is repeated in 9:35-44 to introduce his tragic death.
1 Chronicles 9:1-44
1. The people in Jerusalem (1-34)
The people of Judah were taken into Babylonian exile because of their unfaithfulness. After 70 years of captivity, God, by the hand of Cyrus the Persian, set them free. Some elected to stay in Babylon because rebuilding the broken nation was too hard. Many who returned were priests and Levites who loved God and their nation. Restoring the temple was their first task. 9:1-34 are a record according to tribes of the returnees. Some Levites were given special duties (17-34). The gatekeepers were important, because there were many enemies. The Levites who guarded the house of God did not go home at night; they stayed around the house of God. They put God ahead of their own families. A Levite named Mattithiah was responsible for baking the sacred bread. This bread symbolized God's presence with them.
2. Saul's genealogy (35-44)
Saul was the first king of Israel, but he failed. He is put aside in history by recording his genealogy and moving on. This leads into the story of his tragic end.
Prayer: Lord, help me to be faithful to the hard task of the spiritual rebuilding of our nation.