Good morning! Today we read the end of 1 Chronicles and the majority of 2 Chronicles.
You may be having some déjà vu. Are we reading exactly the same thing we just read in First and Second Kings? Well, not exactly, but the subject matter is comparable to a degree.
As we discussed yesterday, 1 Chronicles logs genealogies all the way back to Genesis, and includes the reign of Saul and David in the United Kingdom of Israel. Second Chronicles recounts the timeline of King Solomon, David and Bathsheba's son, who builds the temple to God under the United Kingdom of Israel. Further, 2 Chronicles records the events following Solomon's reign, whereby his son Rehoboam listens to the advice of his childhood friends and causes the split of the United Kingdom Israel, then becoming the Divided Kingdom. Following this, Rehoboam reigns in Judah of the South while Jeroboam reigns in Israel in the North. The rest of Second Chronicles refers back to many of the same stories as in 2 Kings that we already discussed here, with a higher emphasis on the sanctuary of God, as opposed to a political, secular focus in Kings.
So what's the difference between Kings and Chronicles? Why are the same stories recounted twice in the Old Testament?
While Kings and Chronicles are strikingly similar books, there are many differences to take note of.
1. The time that each book was written varies significantly. Kings was written just as the Israelites were exiled into Babylonian captivity, whereas Chronicles was written during the time of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther and the return of the exiles from Babylon and Persia. The ordination of each book thus differs. Kings has a climax of captivity, whereas Chronicles ends joyfully with a return from exile.
2. In the Hebrew Bible, the book of Kings was actually the conclusion of a section in the Bible referred to as the Former Prophets (Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings), and recounts the theological reasoning for the divide of the Jewish nation in Israel and the Babylonian Exile in 586 B.C. The book of Chronicles, however, made its original appearance as the last book in the Hebrew Bible. While Kings illustrates a logical foundation for the Israelites being in captivity, Chronicles uses people like Cyrus (whom was prophesied by Isaiah in 44:28) to rebuild Israel and bring back the captives to Zion.
3. In Kings, we see an even dedication to the kings of Israel as well as the kings of Judah, seeing a distinct difference in Judah following the Lord (for a time) and Israel doing evil in the eyes of the Lord. In Chronicles, the main focus is the kings of Judah. An interesting contrast to make is between the two accounts of Manasseh in 2 Kings 21 and in 2 Chronicles 33. Kings only refers to the abominable sin in Manasseh's reign, whereas Chronicles spends a large chunk illustrating his miraculous repentance before God.
4. The main viewpoint of both Kings and Chronicles differ greatly; the perspective of Kings is politically based, referring to raids, wars, and envoys between countries. On the other hand, Chronicles has a ecclesiastical perspective, centering on the priest's ethos and outlook of the condition of Israel.
5. Again, due to the time of each book, Kings ends with a cliff hanger; the Israelites are in Babylon. Imagine if history stopped here? We know it didn't because we have the glorious contrast of Chronicles to show us the restoration of Israel and their liberation from captivity.
Hopefully these few distinctions are helpful to note some of the differences between Kings and Chronicles.