Book of Chronicles

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Ketuvim (writings) of the Tanakh
Sifrei Emet (poetic books)
חמש מגילות- Megillot (fixed rollers)
Beginning of the Chronicle as the last book of the Bible in an Ashkenazi manuscript. At the center of the micrographic is the book's first word, “Adam”.

The Chronicle or the Book of the Chronicle is a book of the Hebrew Bible that deals with the history of Israel as the story of David and his dynasty and shows particular interest in genealogical assignments and the order of the Jerusalem temple cult . It occupies a special position in the Hebrew Bible in that it is the only book whose sources are largely known and can be compared with the book itself. The book was split into two books for Greek translation . This division into two books of the chronicle or chronicle books , together with chapter counting, has become generally accepted since the printing era. When specifying positions, a distinction is therefore always made between the 1st book of the Chronicle (1 Chr) and the 2nd book of the Chronicle (2 Chr).

Name of the book

The chronicle in the Luther Bible from 1545

The traditional title of the book is Hebrew (סֵפֶר) דִּבְרֵי הֲיָּמִים (sefær) divrê hǎjjāmîm , German '(book of) words / affairs of days' . This is the common Hebrew term for 'annals' or 'diaries'. This gives the impression that this book is about those annals of the kings of Judah, to which reference is regularly made in the book of kings as a source for further detailed information.

So the final formula for is Jehoshaphat the king book (revised Standard Version):

"The rest of the history of Jehoshaphat, the successes he achieved, and the wars he waged are recorded in the Chronicle of the Kings of Judah."

- 1 Kings 22.47  EU

The book name in the Septuagint also ties in with these citation formulas . Here the chronicle books are called Biblia ton paraleipomenon ( ancient Greek βιβλία τῶν παραλειπομένων , 'books of leftover (things)' ). This takes into account the fact that in the royal book reference is regularly only made to the chronicle for 'the rest' ( ancient Greek τὰ λοιπὰ ta loipa , e.g. 1 Kings 22.46  LXX ).

Heading of the chronicle in the Codex Amiatinus (Vulgate)

Hieronymus adopts both titles in the Vulgate , the Greek from the Septuagint as well as the Hebrew, which he translates into Latin ( Latin Paralipomenon qui Hebraice dicitur Dabreiamim id est Verba Dierum , Paralipomenon, which is called Dabreiamim in Hebrew, i.e., words of days' ) . But Jerome gives a description of the content of the book in the preface to the Book of Kings (= Samuel and Kings):

"Dabreiamin, id est Verba dierum, quod significantius χρονικον totius divinae historiae possumus appellare, qui liber apud nos Paralipomenon primus et secundus scribitur."

"Dabreiamin, that means 'reports about the days', which we can more clearly call a chronicle of the entire divine history, a book that we call the first and second of the Paralipomena."

- Hieronymus : Prologus In Libro Regum

In connection with this content-related characterization, for which Hieronymus used a Greek foreign word (the Chronicon ), Martin Luther chose the term Chronica as a heading in his translation of the Bible , the Latinized form that made the Greek plural into a feminine singular. Since then, the term "the Chronicle" has become generally accepted as a book title.

Position in the canon

The Chronicle in the Codex of Aleppo

In the Tanakh , the Chronicle is part of the third gun portion, the Ketuvim . There it is in the oldest Masoretic manuscripts - for example in the Codex of Aleppo and in the Codex Petropolitanus B19a (Codex L) - at the beginning, before the Psalter. In the Sephardic and Ashkenazi manuscripts, however, the Chronicle is at the end of the Ketuvim and thus the Bible. This final position was adopted in the first Hebrew Bible prints and has since become generally accepted. The Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia also deviates in this one point from the order of its submission, the Codex L. In contrast, the chronicle in the Biblia Hebraica Quinta should be at the beginning of the canon of scriptures. The final position of the chronicle has also been evaluated in terms of its history. However, it is very unlikely that a certain position in the canon was intended, as there was and could not be a binding order of the scriptures until the introduction of the Codex .

In the Septuagint , the chronicle belongs to the history books and is usually after the books of the kings (= 1–2 Samuel and 1–2 kings), followed by the 1st book of Ezra (so-called 3rd Ezra ) and the 2nd book of Ezra (= Ezra-Nehemiah). This placement was adopted in the Vulgate, but the “1. Ezra ”was counted as the 3rd book of Ezra and moved to the appendix so that Ezra and Nehemiah now follow the chronicle. This is the order found in most Christian Bibles to this day.

Divisions and division into two books

List of Sedarim in the Chronicle in the final Masora of Codex L (fol. 463r)

The Hebrew text originally did not contain a chapter division. The text was only subdivided by optical sections (Petucha and Setuma). The oldest Masoretic manuscripts, however, already have a traditional division into 25 sedarim , in addition they mark the traditional division of verses with the accents and note the number of 1765 verses. The sedarim are also numbered in the text.

The Septuagint apparently divided the text into two scrolls from the beginning. This has to do with the fact that the Greek translation, at least in capitals, takes up almost twice as much space as the Hebrew original. While the chronicle in the Hebrew text of the Codex L contains approx. 99,500 letters, the chronicle books in the Greek text of the Codex Vaticanus contain approx. 182,000 letters. For example, “in his days” ( 1 Chr 22.9  EU ) in the Hebrew text is a five-letter word containing a preposition and a suffix ( Hebrew בְּיָמָיו bəjamaw , 1 Chr 22.9  BHS ), while the Greek translation requires four words with 18 letters ( ancient Greek ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις αὐτοῦ. en tais hämerais autou , 1 Chr 22.9  LXX ). The incision was made after David's death because it could be considered a classic book closure in analogy to other biblical books ( Genesis , Deuteronomy , Book of Joshua ).

With the introduction of the Codex, the Greek chronicle books could also be compiled in one book. They were always understood as belonging together. In the Codex Vaticanus there is a continuous chapter count that divides the chronicle into 93 chapters, with the second book beginning with chapter 41.

In the age of book printing, however, the chapter division that Stephan Langton had created for the Vulgate became generally accepted . According to this, all versions of the chronicle are quoted by book and chapter today, while the verse counting is based on the Masoretic verse division.


The terminus post quem for the chronicle as a book results from the genealogy of the Davidids. This is in 1 Chr 3: 17–24  EU about Jojachin , the 597 BC. Was led into Babylonian exile at the age of 18 ( 2 Kings 24.8–15  EU and 2 Chr 36.9–10  EU ) and his grandson Zerubbabel , who lived around 520 BC. was governor in Jerusalem ( Hag 1,1  EU ), continued for at least seven generations. The chronicle can only be written in the 4th century BC at the earliest. Have been written.

Dareikos from the 5th century BC Chr.

Some anachronisms, such as the 10,000 gold darics that were donated to the temple in David's time ( 1 Chr 29.7  EU ), can also be explained most easily with a late Persian or early Hellenistic origin.

In addition to the historical arguments, there are linguistic-historical indications for a significantly later date of origin compared to the books of the Torah and the Early Prophets : Vocabulary, syntax and orthography of the chronicle belong to late Biblical Hebrew ( LBH , Late Biblical Hebrew ), as it is in the Books Esra-Nehemiah and Esther shows.

The sources used in the chronicle

The parallels between the Chronicle and other books in the Hebrew Bible can most easily be explained by using these books in the Chronicle (Sara Japhet). The following sources were used:

The main sources are the books of Samuel and the Kings. The extent to which the chronicler had access to other sources from the royal era beyond the biblical books is a matter of dispute in research. This has been considered for the news of the extensive construction activity in Hezekiah's time, including the water supply ( 2 Chr 32.28–30  EU ). In any case, the author of the chronicle was informed in detail about the genealogical traditions of the Judeans, especially the Davidids, as well as about the cult personnel of the Second Temple.

Structure and topic

Jesse ( Isai ) with his father Obed (Bible) , his wife, his six eldest sons (the brothers of David) and his two daughters Abigajil and Zeruja with their families in the family tree of Christ in Schedel's world chronicle , based on information from 1 Chr 2,12– 17  EU

The chronicle dominates three subject areas, which are closely related: firstly the people of Israel, secondly the Davidic dynasty and thirdly the temple cult, which was borne primarily by the Levites. All three themes run through the four main parts of the chronicle: the extensive introduction, which is mainly shaped by genealogies (1. Chronicles 1–10), the government of David (1. Chronicles 11–29), the government of Solomon (2. Chronicles 1–9 ) and the rest of the story of Judas up to the Cyrus dictate (2 Chronicles 10–36).

The first part anchors David and the Levites in the genealogy of Israel, which in turn is embedded in the genealogy of humanity. The chronicle begins with the name of the first person, Adam , and continues in a few verses to Isaac's sons " Esau and Israel" ( 1 Chr 1,1–34  EU ), followed by a list of Esau's descendants. Jacob is called "Israel" from the start, and from chapter 2 onwards it is about the sons of Israel. The focus is on three tribes: first Judah and his descendants ( 1 Chr 2–4  EU ), which also includes David, then Levi and his descendants, the Levites ( 1 Chr 6–7  EU ), and finally Benjamin ( 1 ChrEU ), one of whose descendants is Saul, the first king of Israel. The ancestors and descendants of David in the genealogies of the Chronicles were used as a source for the family trees of Jesus in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, because Jesus was viewed as the son of David .

While the book of Samuel speaks of a long rivalry between Saul and David ( 1 Sam 16  EU ) - ( 2 SamEU ), David appears in the chronicle from the beginning as the undisputed successor of Saul, who immediately after his death ( 1 ChrEU ) is crowned king by all tribes of Israel ( 1 Chr 10  EU ). According to the chronicles, David's kingship over Israel is primarily determined by the concern for the right cult. When David divides the Levites into service at the temple as well as singers and doorkeepers and gives his son Solomon a precise plan for the building of the temple, a gap is filled, as there were no corresponding regulations in the Torah: there the Levites only have the task of closing the sanctuary transport ( NumEU ) - a task that becomes obsolete when there is a fixed temple. The altar service is reserved for Aaron's descendants ( Num 18.7  EU ), and there is no mention of cult singers at the shrine. Since David is considered the author of many psalms and is portrayed as a musician in the Book of Samuel ( 1 Sam 16 : 16-23  EU ), it was natural to trace the arrangement of the temple hymns to David as the founder of the cult.

At the center of the story of Solomon ( 2 Chr 1–9  EU ) is the temple building for YHWH , the God of Israel ( 2 Chr 6,2  EU ), prepared according to the chronicle of David . The Levites accompany the initiation with their chant ( 2 Chr 7,6  EU ), and Solomon strictly adheres to the agreements made by David for the cult order ( 2 Chr 8,14–15  EU ).

The last major section, 2 Chronicles 10–36, consists of a series of sections on the kings of Judah, from Rehoboam to Zedekiah . In contrast to the book of kings , the entire sections on the kings of the northern empire are omitted. According to 2 Chr 11.12  EU , the tribe of Benjamin belonged to the kingdom of Judah already under Rehoboam, and the Levites also came from all over Israel to Rehoboam in Jerusalem ( 2 Chr 11.13-16  EU ). The downfall of the northern empire is also only addressed indirectly in the chronicle: Hezekiah sends messengers to the northern tribes to invite them to the common Passover ( 2 Chr 30,1-11  EU ), at which the Levites were also used again ( 2 Chr 30 , 17  EU ). Israel, as the people of YHWH, continues to exist in Judah, so the chronicles. The announcement of the rebuilding of the Jerusalem temple and the permission to return by Cyrus ( 2 Chr 36,22-23  EU ) appear in the chronicle as the basis for a renewal of Israel.

Relationship between the Chronicle and its sources

Illustration to Ps 39  EU ( Ps 38, VUL  EU ) in Ingeborg Psalter (approx. 1195–1210): Satan as tempter (with a board for the army count) and the angel between heaven and earth are specific motifs from 1 Chr 21  EU that are missing in 2 Sam 24  EU .

The Chronicle is eclectic with all of its sources. The chronicler copies them in part and makes them subservient to his literary plan, according to which the Jerusalem temple cult founded by David represents the livelihood of post-exilic Israel.

The representation of the kingdom of Saul as well as that of the kingdom of Israel is omitted. There is no alternative to the replacement of Saul by David in the chronicle, just as there is no alternative to the succession to the throne by Solomon, since both are traced back to God's word.

For the chronicler, an important criterion for historical plausibility was the relationship between doing and doing . The long, peaceful reign of Manasseh , who is judged very negatively in the Book of Kings, could not be the whole truth from his perspective. He therefore reports of a punishment and subsequent conversion of this king.

The literary character of the chronicle has been judged differently. For Thomas Willi , the chronicle of the Samuel and King books, which he describes as a “product of secondary historiography”, is a “tertiary education” and does not want to be anything other than interpretation. “The whole nature of his creative process presupposes the prophetic authority of the sources he uses.” In contrast, Benjamin Ziemer emphasizes the self-confidence of the chronicler, who has deliberately left out or changed certain things that were improbable in his view. The claim of the chronicle would have been to appear as the “complete chronicle of David, Solomon and the kings of Judah ” and thus as the source cited in the royal book. Isaac Kalimi also points out that the "adaptation of the texts from Samuel and Kings by the chronicler" shows how what is available is not simply preserved, but corrected and changed "in order to harmonize contradictions or to make difficult passages understandable". For Kalimi, the chronicler is a serious historian.

There is a well-known contradiction in the Book of Samuel. B. that after 1 Sam 17  EU and 21.10 EU David to Goliath defeated after 2 Sam 21,19  EU but a certain Elhanan has accomplished this glorious deed. The chronicler resolves the contradiction by changing the text of the second note: According to this, Elhanan has defeated the brother Goliats 1 Chr 20.5  EU . So for the reader of the Chronicle, David may be regarded as the conqueror of Goliath - although the fight, like the entire ascension story of David, is omitted in the Chronicle.

According to 2 Sam 7,1  EU , YHWH is said to have given David peace from all his enemies, although he only promises him this a few verses later for the future 2 Sam 7,11  EU and in the following chapters there is still talk of many wars. According to Deut 12.10  EU, it is precisely this calm before the enemy that is the prerequisite for the establishment of the central sanctuary. This leaves the book of Samuel unexplained why David is not yet allowed to build the temple himself. For the chronicler, the problem is of central importance. He solves it by the fact that only Solomon actually has rest from all his enemies. In the otherwise almost unchanged rendition of 2 SamEU in 1 Chr 17  EU , the introductory sentence is omitted and it is emphasized twice that David, as a man of war, shed too much blood, while Solomon, as a man of peace (a play on words with Hebrew שָׁלוֹם šalôm , German 'peace' ), the temple is allowed to build ( 1 Chr 22.8  EU and 28.3 EU ).



  • Wilhelm Rudolph : Chronicle books. Handbook for the Old Testament, Mohr, Tübingen 1955.
  • Sara Japhet : 1 Chronicles. Herder's Theological Commentary on the Old Testament, Herder, Freiburg i.Br. u. a. 2002.
  • Sara Japhet: 2 Chronicles. Herder's Theological Commentary on the Old Testament, Herder, Freiburg i.Br. u. a. 2003.
  • Thomas Willi : Chronicle. Biblical commentary on the Old Testament. Neukirchener Verlag, Neukirchen (Vluyn) 1999 ff. (Appears in deliveries. First volume (1Chr 1,1-10,14) completed in 2009.)


  • Primo Vannutelli: Libri Synoptici Veteris Testamenti seu Librorum Regum et Chronicorum Loci Paralleli. 2 vols., Pontificio Instituto Biblico, Rome 1931 and 1934. (Hebrew, Greek and Latin synopsis on the chronicle.)
  • Abba Bendavid: Parallels in the Bible. Carta, Jerusalem 1972. (Hebrew Synopsis on the Chronicle.)
  • Jürgen Kegler: German synopsis on the chronic historical work. Lang, Frankfurt am Main 1993.

Further literature

  • Wilhelm Martin Leberecht de Wette : Critical attempt on the credibility of the books of the chronicle with regard to the history of the Mosaic books and legislation. An addendum to Vater's investigations into the Pentateuch. Schimmelpfennig, Hall 1806.
  • Martin Noth : Studies in the history of tradition. First part. The collecting and processing historical works in the Old Testament. Niemeyer, Halle 1943.
  • Sara Japhet: The Supposed Common Authorship of Chronicles and Ezra-Nehemia Investigated anew. Vetus Testamentum 18, 1968 pp. 330-371.
  • Thomas Willi: The chronicle as an interpretation. Investigations into the literary form of the historical tradition of Israel. Research on religion and literature of the Old and New Testaments 106, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1972.
  • Reinhard Gregor Kratz : The composition of the narrative books of the Old Testament. Basic knowledge of biblical criticism, Göttingen 2000.
  • Isaac Kalimi: The Chronicle Book and Its Chronicle. On the creation and reception of a biblical book. Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau a. a. 2013
  • Benjamin Ziemer: The Chronicle . In: Ders., Critique of the Growth Model. The limits of Old Testament editorial history in the light of empirical evidence , Brill, Leiden / Boston 2020, pp. 221–272.

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. 1 Kings 14.29  EU ; 15,7.23; 22.46; 2 Kings 8,23  EU ; 12.20; 13.12; 14,15.18.28; 15,6.36; 16.19; 20.20; 21.17.25; 23.28; 24.5.
  2. Hebrew יֶתֶר דִּבְרֵי יְהוֹשָׁפָט jætær divrê jehôšāfaṭ , German 'The rest of the affairs of Joschafat'
  3. Hebrew סֵפֶר דִּבְרֵי הֲיָּמִים sefær divrê hǎjjāmîm , German 'Book of Affairs of Days'
  4. So the Incipit in Codex Amiatinus, fol. 329v .
  5. ancient Greek χρὀνικον chronikon .
  6. Biblia Sacra Vulgata Latin-German. Volume II. Berlin / Boston 2018. ISBN 978-3-11-048834-0 , pp. 252-255.
  7. Georg Steins: The Chronicle as a canonical closing phenomenon. Studies on the origin and theology of 1/2 Chronik, Beltz-Athenaeum, Weinheim 1995.
  8. Beginning of the final Masora in Codex L with the indication of the number of verses, the middle verse, the number of Sedarim and the opening verses of the individual Sedarim of the Chronicle (top left column).
  9. p. 526 of the Codex Vaticanus with the beginning of the second book of the Chronicle. The number 41 ( ΜΑ ) to the left above the large initial [Κ | Kappa], chapter 42 (ΜΒ) begins in the second line of the third column, chapter 43 (ΜΓ) in the penultimate line.
  10. ^ Ronald Hendel and Jan Joosten: How Old Is the Hebrew Bible? A Linguistic, Textual, and Historical Study. Yale University Press, New Haven / London 2018, pp. 36–42.
  11. ^ Andrew G. Vaughn: Theology, History, and Archeology in the Chronicler's Account of Hezekiah. Scholars Press, Atlanta 1999.
  12. Thomas Willi: Chronicle as an interpretation. Pp. 241-242.
  13. Benjamin Ziemer: The reform of Hezekiah in the chronicle. A look into the working methods of an ancient religious historian. In: Ernst-Joachim Waschke (ed.): Reforms in the Old Orient and the Ancient World, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2009, pp. 127–149 (here p. 128).
  14. Isaac Kalimi: On the history of the chronicler. Literary-historiographical deviations of the chronicle from its parallel texts in the Samuel and King books. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1995, pp. 320–321.