In our Bibles today we have 1 and 2 Chronicles as two books but they were originally one book. The Book of 1 Chronicles is a book of narrative history, and genealogies.
While the books of 1 and 2 Kings focus on the northern kingdom, Israel, 1 Chronicles focuses on the southern kingdom, Judah. Nothing is said about the northern kingdom in 2 Chronicles because Jeroboam led the northern tribes after sins that took them away from worshipping God.
For this reason, 1 Chronicles focuses on the kings and events that relate to the southern kingdom, specifically the tribe of Judah. 2 Chronicles covers the history of both 1 and 2 Kings.
The purpose of the book was to encourage the remnant that had come out of the Babylonian captivity and it covers in some extra detail most of the information already covered by 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings.
No one knows who the author of the book is but Jewish tradition believes that Ezra wrote both 1 and 2 Chronicles, as well as the books of Ezra and Nehemiah.
The reason for this is because the book of Ezra immediately begins where 2 Chronicles concludes, 2 Chronicles 36:22-23 / Ezra 1:1-3. Ezra was a priest in the southern kingdom who lived in Jerusalem, Ezra 7:11.
Within the book, the author mentions the records of three prophets, Samuel, Nathan, and Gad, 1 Chronicles 29:29. They also mention the Jewish historical books such as the chronicle of the kings of Judah and Israel, 1 Chronicles 9:1, these books don’t exist anymore.
Chronicles tell us about the events in the history of Israel down to the end of their captivity in Babylon and the restoration that was initiated by the Medo-Persian king, Cyrus, 2 Chronicles 36:22-23.
In view of what the author writes in 2 Chronicles 35:25, it appears that the book was written after the time of Jeremiah who wrote Lamentations. Most commentators agree that the book was written between 450 and 425 BC.
1 Chronicles 1-9, begins with Adam and runs through the genealogies of Israel. It continues through all the 12 tribes of Israel, then King David, and then the Priestly line. The descendants teach the history of the nation, extending from God’s creation all the way through the exile in Babylon.
1 Chronicles 10-29, is a review of King Saul’s death with the Philistines, through King David’s reign, including the preparation for the building of the new temple, which Solomon would build. The book finishes with Solomon’s reign as king of Israel.
Gill, in his commentary, gives us a useful summary of this chapter.
‘This chapter gives us the genealogy of the patriarchs from Adam to Noah, 1 Chronicles 1:1 of the sons of Noah, and their posterity, to Abraham, 1 Chronicles 1:5 of the sons of Abraham and their posterity, 1 Chronicles 1:28 and of the sons of Esau, 1 Chronicles 1:35 and of the kings and dukes that reigned in Edom, 1 Chronicles 1:43.’
Although many people don’t enjoy reading genealogies, they were very important to the Jews, especially when we think that the Messiah would eventually come through the Jews.
Adam Clarke, in his commentary, says the following.
‘The principle design of the writer appears to have been this, to point out, from the public registers, which were still preserved, what had been the state of the different families previously to the captivity, that at their return they might enter on and repossess their respective inheritances. He enters particularly into the functions, genealogies, families, and orders of the priests and Levites and this was peculiarly necessary after the return from the captivity, to the end that the worship of God might be conducted in the same way as before, and the by the proper legitimate persons.’
The author begins by listing Adam, whom we know had three sons, Genesis 4:1-2 / Genesis 4:25, and other children, Genesis 5:4 Notice the author doesn’t mention them all, they only mention Seth. No one knows the reason behind this.
Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth Genesis 5:1-32, but there is no mention of the flood in Noah’s day. It appears the author was focusing on the names of those who had a significant spiritual role in history, along with those who led the development of the populations of the world.
Although Japheth was the lastborn, here, as the descendant of Shem, he is placed first in order to emphasise the legacy of Shem over the other two sons of Noah, Genesis 10:2-4.
Payne, in his commentary, says the following.
‘It is commonly supposed that ‘the seven sons of Japheth founded the people of Europe and northern Asia.’ From Javan came Greek Ionia, and from Gomer came the ancient Cimmerians of the Russian plains. From Madai came the Medes and Persians of Iran, from Tubal and Meshech came the inhabitants of the Turkish plateau.
Kittim and Rodanim are respectively the islands of Cyprus and Rhodes.
The descendants of Ham, Genesis 10:6-20, are believed to be those who founded Africa and the Far East. According to the Jewish Targum, Cush, and Mizraim are responsible for founding Arabia and Egypt.
Some of Cush’s family founded Babylon and others founded Ethiopia. The Jewish Targum, regarding Nimrod, says, ‘he began to be bold in sin, a murderer of the innocent, and a rebel before the Lord.’
Payne, in his commentary, says the following, regarding the Philistines.
‘The Hamitic Philistines were ‘sea peoples’ before settling in Palestine, coming from the Casluhim, who was of Egyptian origin but are related to the Minoan culture of Caphtor (Crete) and the southern coast of Asia Minor.’
When we read the Genesis account of Shem’s genealogy, we discover that it says he had nine sons, Genesis 10:21-32 / Genesis 11:10-26, but here this is expanded by telling us that he had five sons and four grandsons.
Elam is believed to be an ancestor to the Persians and Asshur is believed to be the father of the Assyrians. Lud is believed to be the father of the Lydians, Aram is believed to be the father of the Arameans, and Arphaxad is the ancestor of Abram and the Hebrews.
The name Peleg means division, which implies that from Peleg people were divided into different ethnic people groups, as we see happening in the events of the tower of Babel, Genesis 11:1-9. The list from Peleg to Abraham includes ten names of successive prominent people that eventually led to the birth of Abram.
Abraham is the father of our faith and Isaac was the son of promise and the covenant, Genesis 17-18 / Genesis 21-27.
Ishmael’s mother was Hagar, and although he was blessed to be a son of Abraham, he wasn’t the son of the promise or the covenant, Genesis 16 / Genesis 21. Ishmael is listed here to show us the start of the nations which surrounded the Israelites in the land of Palestine, Genesis 25:13-15.
We read about the descendants of Hagar in Genesis 25:12-16. If we remember, God promised Hagar that He would make a great nation come through Ishmael, Genesis 21:18. The descendants mentioned here were the beginning of the fulfilment of that promise.
Except for Keturah, whom Abraham married after Sarah had died, the mothers of the descendants from Abraham are not mentioned, Genesis 25:1-4.
Sarah and Abraham had a son named Isaac, who had two sons named Esau and Jacob, Genesis 36:1-43.
Notice that the writer uses the name Israel, instead of Jacob, this is because God changed Jacob’s name to Israel, Genesis 32:22-31, and so, the writer appears to be focusing on how God was working through the nation of Israel and not so much an individual.
Jacob, that is Israel was chosen by God as the son of the promise and the heir of the covenant of Abraham.
Esau’s sons were important to God and they played a significant part in God’s plans. Amalek was the father of the Amalekites who was hostile towards the Israelites when they first came from Egyptian captivity, Exodus 17:8-16.
Later, God commanded that they be destroyed because of what they did against His people, 1 Samuel 15:2-3.
Seir wasn’t a descendant of Abraham, Genesis 36:20-28, he was a Horite whose descendants possibly called themselves after him. It was from these people that Esau took a concubine. The people of Seir were eventually driven from their area by the Edomites, Deuteronomy 2:12.
Gill, in his commentary, says the following concerning Seir.
‘This man and his posterity were not of the race of Esau but are mentioned because they were a family into which Esau, and a son of his, married, and whose possessions he and his obtained. The account from hence, to the end of 1 Chronicles 1:42 is the same as Genesis 36:20, with some little variation of names.’
Although some translations use the words ‘chief’ ‘duke’, the idea is that of a ruler and so this chapter ends by telling us about the kings who reigned in Edom before any Israelite king reigned, Genesis 25:30 / Genesis 30:31.
Edom became a very powerful nation, which shows us just how blessed Esau was, Genesis 33:8-16 / Genesis 36:31-43. The Edomites were constantly fighting against Israel and as a result, God brought judgment upon them, Obadiah, and they were wiped off the face of the earth when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70.