Introduction to 1–2 Chronicles


Author and Date

The text nowhere directly identifies its author, but traditionally he has been called “the Chronicler.” He was either a priest or Levite who was employed in the service of the temple during the Persian period (539–332 B.C.). He had scribal training and access to the temple records.

Basic Chronology of 1–2 Chronicles

Events Dates Passages
Foundation of the Davidic monarchy c. 1010–931 B.C. 1 Chronicles 10–2 Chronicles 9
History of Judah from the division of the kingdom until its fall 931–586 2 Chron. 10:1–36:21
Babylonian captivity 586–538 2 Chron. 36:17–21
Cyrus’s decree 538 2 Chron. 36:22–23


The central theme of Chronicles is God’s covenant with David as the basis of Israel’s life and hope. The Davidic covenant is expressed in two institutions: the monarchy and the temple. These institutions are related (1 Chron. 17:10b–14), and together they represent God’s kingdom in Israel (2 Chron. 13:5, 8). The Davidic covenant does not replace the Mosaic covenant but builds on it for the new age of the monarchy and the temple.

Purpose, Occasion, and Background

Judah and Benjamin, the only surviving tribes of Israel, had returned to the land after the Babylonian exile. They had rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem. But in many ways it seemed like they were still in exile (see Ezra 9:6–15; Neh. 9:32–36). There were questions about Israel’s place in God’s purposes and the meaning of his ancient promises to David. With such questions in mind, the Chronicler wrote his books to promote spiritual and social renewal. He presented an interpretation of Israel’s past, drawing mainly on the books of Samuel and Kings. He showed how the nation’s unfaithfulness to God had led to disaster but also how its faithful kings and people had experienced God’s blessing.

Key Themes

  1. The Davidic covenant. God’s covenant with David preserved the nation and enabled Solomon to build the temple. God is committed to preserving the line of David’s descendants even through spiritual unfaithfulness (2 Chron. 21:13) and exile (1 Chron. 3:17–24). Being heirs of God’s covenant with David also involves living according to God’s earlier covenant with Moses.
  2. The temple. The temple is an expression of the Davidic covenant. David provided for the construction of the temple and organized its personnel. His faithful successors should ensure that the worship is maintained, and that the building is kept in repair and is purified after defilement. The temple personnel should come to the aid of the Davidic dynasty in times of crisis. The Levites played an essential role in maintaining the whole system of worship, and in many ways they are the forerunners of the Christian ministry.
  3. The people of Israel. The Chronicler sought to address some urgent questions of his day concerning the identity of Israel. He wanted to instill fresh confidence in the people. The genealogies of Israel that begin the work (1 Chronicles 1–9) start by tracing the people’s ancestry back to Adam, a striking reminder that Israel was at the center of God’s purpose from the very beginning of creation.

Second, the genealogies makes it clear that all 12 tribes were descended from Jacob’s sons (1 Chron. 2:1). The Chronicler’s history of the divided kingdom (2 Chronicles 10–36) focuses mainly on Judah and Benjamin. But he tries to show that the northern tribes are still a part of Israel, even though they rebelled against the rightful Davidic king (2 Chron. 13:5).

While the Chronicler does focus on the nation’s kings and its priesthood, he also includes many stories that highlight the participation of ordinary people in the life of the nation.

Outline for 1–2 Chronicles

  1. A Genealogical Presentation of the Tribes of Israel (1 Chron. 1:1–9:44)
    1. Adam to Esau (1:1–54)
    2. The sons of Israel (2:1–2)
    3. The tribe of Judah (2:3–4:23)
    4. The tribe of Simeon (4:24–43)
    5. The Transjordanian tribes (5:1–26)
    6. The tribe of Levi (6:1–81)
    7. Other northern tribes (7:1–40)
    8. The tribe of Benjamin (8:1–40)
    9. The resettlement of Jerusalem (9:1–34)
    10. The genealogy of Saul (9:35–44)
  2. The United Kingdom of David and Solomon (1 Chron. 10:12 Chron. 9:31)
    1. David’s rise to power over Israel (1 Chron. 10:1–12:40)
    2. David’s transfer of the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem (13:1–16:43)
    3. The dynastic promise to David (17:1–27)
    4. David’s wars (18:1–20:8)
    5. David’s census and preparation for the temple (21:1–29:30)
    6. Solomon’s temple preparations (2 Chron. 1:1–2:18)
    7. Solomon’s building of the temple (3:1–5:1)
    8. The dedication of the temple (5:2–7:22)
    9. Solomon’s other accomplishments (8:1–16)
    10. Solomon’s international relations and renown (8:17–9:31)
  3. The Kingdom of Judah down to the Exile (2 Chron. 10:1–36:23)
    1. Rehoboam (10:1–12:16)
    2. Abijah (13:1–14:1)
    3. Asa (14:2–16:14)
    4. Jehoshaphat (17:1–21:1)
    5. Jehoram and Ahaziah (21:2–22:12)
    6. Joash (23:1–24:27)
    7. Amaziah (25:1–28)
    8. Uzziah (26:1–23)
    9. Jotham (27:1–9)
    10. Ahaz (28:1–27)
    11. Hezekiah (29:1–32:33)
    12. Manasseh (33:1–20)
    13. Amon (33:21–25)
    14. Josiah (34:1–35:27)
    15. The last four kings (36:1–21)
    16. Restoration (36:22–23)

The Extent of David’s Kingdom

The Extent of David’s Kingdom

1010–971 B.C.

David’s many battles eventually established Israel as the dominant power in Syria and Palestine. David expanded Israel’s borders until, by the end of his reign, he controlled all of Israel, Edom, Moab, Ammon, Syria, and Zobah. Other kingdoms, such as Tyre and Hamath, made treaties with him.

The Extent of David’s Kingdom

The Extent of Solomon’s Kingdom

The Extent of Solomon’s Kingdom

c. 971–931 B.C.

Solomon’s reign marked the high point of Israel’s power and wealth in biblical times. His father David had given him a kingdom that included Edom, Moab, Ammon, Syria, and Zobah. Solomon would later bring the kingdom of Hamath-zobah under his dominion as well, and his marriage to Pharaoh’s daughter sealed an alliance with Egypt. His expansive kingdom controlled important trade routes between several major world powers, including Egypt, Arabia, Mesopotamia, and Anatolia (Asia Minor).

The Extent of Solomon’s Kingdom