The Chronicles of the Bible
Names and Places, But no Dates
An Historical Recap
Within the various books of the part of the Bible most people refer to as the "Old" Testament, are Chronicles I and Chronicles II. The division between book number one and book two seems chosen just to break up the long recitation of names and places, which summarizes the Bible up to this point.
Chronicles I even goes all the way back to Adam, our name for the first human being on earth. We know that many years after Adam there was Noah, there was a great flood, but there were righteous survivors. One was called Abraham, truly the bedrock of Hebrew people. Then there was Isaac and Jacob. The word "Israel" is God's nickname for Jacob.
There are a hundred names or more, chronicling the sons of Israel, their wives, concubines, and many more. The Chronicles tell who parented whom, constantly listing names of family, including finally the sons of David and all the descendants.
Chronicles tells of people who were destroyed and others who defeated their enemies. Always the Bible uplifts those of faith and shows the destruction of those without it.
The twelve tribes coming out of the descendants of the twelve sons of Israel who lived 400 years before Moses, are discussed in detail in the Chronicles. "All Israel was recorded by genealogy," say the unknown authors of Chronicles, Hebrew scribes and historians.
Recounting the days of Saul and David son of Jesse, the stories of David and the ark, and the triumphs of David over the enemies of "Israel," which by then in the Bible came to mean the Hebrew people and not just Jacob, the Chronicles tell of the altar, the tabernacle, and the traditions of offerings made by Moses and Aaron in the wilderness as they searched for the Promised Land while trying to keep the thousands of Hebrew followers in line with proper religion and social laws.
Hundreds of years of history, perhaps a thousand years since the Hebrews migrated to Egypt, are recounted in the Bible, which is a story of thousands of Hebrews including some who had faith and others who didn't.
Solomon, the sons of David, Aaron, Moses -- all the recorded Hebrew tradition and history is attempted to be summed up in Chronicles. The Levites, the gatekeepers, the treasuries of the house of God, the soldiers, and the captains -- all are listed and chronicled. The supreme Lord God of Israel, the same God the world recognizes today, and the Ark of the Covenant, holding the original Ten Commandments, are mentioned in Chronicles.
Bible Background and Conclusions
In the movie "Raiders of the Lost Ark" there was a search for the original Ark, an ornate wooden box carried by the wandering tribes of Israel from place to place until it came to rest in the Promised Land, specifically in the temple in the city of Jerusalem. But conquests and destruction over history destroyed Jerusalem and everything in it. Left with very little historical fact, the religious of the world are basing their lives on faith alone.
Like the story of "King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table" the Bible is considered by skeptics to be fiction, just a legend. But Jews, Christians, and Muslims follow the primary teachings of the Bible. The Mosaic Bible followed by the Jews is the Torah, the first five books of the Christian Bible. After those five books there's much more to the Bible, including Chronicles and many stories written by Hebrew scholars. Also there are listings of laws in a collection of books known as the Talmud. These laws are like society's laws today and some of the teachings of the medical and legal profession. One mosaic book, called "Leviticus," attempts to lay out many of the legal and health guidelines adhered to by the Hebrews at the time of Moses.
The Chronicles are similar to one of the five Mosaic books called "Deuteronomy," which is a recap of the story of Moses as told in the Torah. The Chronicles are summations of the Hebrew people not only as told in the first five biblical books, but also everything else up to the point where Chronicles appears.
A milestone in biblical history is the death of King David. Thus, it ends the first part of Chronicles. In the second Chronicles, we start with a discussion of Solomon, David's son. Solomon prayed to God for wisdom and was given it along with knowledge, silver and gold. He built a temple using the cedars of Lebanon.
The authors of the Chronicles describe the temple and the altar inside it, just as it was described also in the Bible previously. Jerusalem, nicknamed the City of David, over and over again is a focus point for biblical stories. Constantly, the theme of the Bible, and its partial summation in Chronicles, is the loss of faith leading to defeat, while faith in God will result in victory over one's enemies. Wars and battles dramatize the results of faith or the lack thereof, much more violently than the way we live our normal lives today. It could be assumed that the normal Hebrew people of ancient times also used faith in a much quieter and gentle way in their daily lives than the bloody slaughters depicted in the Bible.
Battles were brutal. If any enemies survived in biblical times of the Hebrews, they became forced laborers, slaves. The great kings triumphed because of their faith. Chronicles repeats all of King Solomon's stories, the visit from the Queen of Sheeba, and the tales of Solomon's descendants who became successor kings. The Bible tells of a sometimes divided nation in which there were struggles between "Israel," a word used to describe the territory geographically away from Jerusalem, and "Judah" where Jerusalem was situated. There is a great example set by King Jehoshaphat, who had great faith in God. The opposing nations of Syria and Egypt also are mentioned in Chronicles, as are the many kings, good and bad, who were "buried with their fathers in the City of David," an oft-repeated phrase of the Bible, and its summaries written in Chronicles.
Repeating the Books of Kings, the battles, the transgression of worshiping Baal instead of the Lord God of Israel, the Chronicles show that some kings were devout while others were sinners.
Finally as they did evil in the sight of the Lord God, the Hebrews suffered when King Nebachudnezzar of Babylon destroyed the temple and city of Jerusalem, killing everyone except the captives carried off to Babylon. There they stayed until Cyrus, King of Persia, declared that God had given him all the kingdoms of the earth, and had told him that he should build a temple to God in Jerusalem of Judah. Thus ends the Chronicles' summation up to this point in the "Old Testament," which is about the half-way point of the Old Testament.
The Chronicles is a tidy review of about 500 pages of the Old Testament. But there is much more to come until the Gospels of the "New" Testament tell of the life of Jesus.
In our age of mandatory mutual respect not only among the many religions of the world but also extending even to those who worship differently or choose not to worship at all, we have to take many things with a grain of salt and bear in mind the true importance of cooperation. If there could be a United Nations of Religion, it might teach that we can't go around putting down on any religion, that in the end all religions and all people, be they religious or not, try to do what they can for mankind most of the time, and yet we all are imperfect.
The Bible is full of dramatic stories that show what faith can do. Chronicles attempts to summarize some of those stories, but it takes on too great a task to tell everything that has come before it in this book called the Bible, which for hundreds of years was the only book in many towns.
The Chronicles' listing of names, for example, is way too tedious for anyone except a devout scholar to read. In fact the whole Bible is a laborious task to undertake as a reading. This may be one reason why summations like Chronicles and Deuteronomy are meant to remind religious people of the basic characters, stories, and lessons given throughout the many chapters of the Bible.
In a day and age of mandatory reading for so many people, the Chronicles serve an excellent purpose in saving time and eyestrain of reading the Torah and opening books of the Old Testament for the basic plot and story line. Probably very few people have read the entire Bible word for word. But most people do seem to have a religious belief which, in America, is generally a Christian version of worshiping. People attend church and hear readings from the Old and New Testaments, but the churchgoers really are not biblical scholars. Many people have so much reading to do at work that their eyes will not tolerate the strenuous task of actually reading the Bible. This is where Chronicles can help. By reading pages that might take 4 hours, a person can get the gist of what has happened in the Old Testament, the Jewish platform on which Christianity was built.