We now come to the books of Chronicles, recording the history of mankind from Genesis 1 to the return from the exile in Assyria and Babylon. The books bear a cohesive tone compared to that taken by the various authors such as Moses and the narrators of the subsequent books from Joshua up to 2 Kings, being more priestly than the Deuteronomist style taken in the books of Kings. As such, we find many gems here which reveal much of what was not spoken of in the previous Old Testament books, taking us closer to understanding the Messianic plan of God imprinted in creation (Genesis 1-2) and prophesied verbally in Genesis 3:15.
So 1 Chronicles 1 can be listed as such (categorized by Adam Clarke):
- The genealogy of Adam to Noah, v.1-3.
- Of Noah to Abraham, v.4-27.
- The sons of Abraham, Ishmael, and Isaac, v.28.
- The sons of Ishmael, v.29-31.
- The sons of Keturah, v.32, 33.
- The sons of Esau, v.34-42.
- A list of the kings of Edom, v.43-50.
- A list of the dukes of Edom, v.51-54.
It is quite interesting why the Chronicler decided to categorise chapter 1 into the genealogy from the son of God, Adam (c.f. Luke 3:23-38), to the son of the blood covenant, Noah (c.f. Genesis 6-8), from Noah to his three sons, the three fathers of the nations of the world (c.f. Genesis 9), and then from Japheth first, then to Ham, then to Shem. It is not coincidental that the purpose of the Chronicler is to talk first about those outside of Israel, before moving to the ancestor of Israel through Abraham, up to Shem – the last of the sons of Noah to be described. We are thus reminded of the important gospel truth of the world before Israel, the world before the law through Moses, when the Gentiles either called upon the Name of the Lord or reigned as kings and chiefs in idolatry (Genesis 4:26; c.f. v.43) long before Israel was established as a Christian nation, as a nation with its own anointed king – the people of Seir (Genesis 36), who take no part in the promised Messiah and are not mentioned in any significant respect in the rest of Scripture.
Instead, Israel is only spoken of in chapter 2 (c.f. Galatians 3, the promise of God made to Abraham before the era of the law marking Israel apart from other nations), a reminder once again that Adam is the first son of God; Israel came but after Adam (c.f. Exodus 4:22, Israel as firstborn like Adam), but Israel as a nation was never the second Adam. Christ was (1 Corinthians 15:45). Israel, in fact, never stood outside of the shadow of Adam (c.f. Hebrews 7:10) for only Christ stood outside as the new Adam under whom we reign as co-heirs.
Thus, we turn from individuals in chapter 1, to fathers of the anointed nation Israel, in chapter 2 – as categorized by Adam Clarke:
- The twelve sons of Jacob, v.1, 2.
- The posterity of Judah down to David, v.3-15.
- The posterity of the children of Jesse and Caleb, v.16-55.
As was clear in 1 and 2 Kings, so it is also clear that the Chronicler is moving from Adam to David – from the first son of God, to the son of God after His own heart. This is the David who slew Goliath, hailing from the prince of the sons of Judah Nahshon, the 7th son of Jesse. Thus we see the list of children born to him in Hebron (v.1-4), and those born to him in Jerusalem (v.5-9), Solomon being one of those born in the promised city of peace, making the natural logical step to describe the regal line of Solomon in v.10-24.
After the description of Jesse and Caleb’s descendants, we go through the list of kings (in particular chapter 3:10-17, which describes all the kings in 1 and 2 Kings). Note, in particular, Adam Clarke’s commentary on the final king Anani in 1 Chronicles 3:24:
“This is the King Messiah who is to be revealed.”-T. Jarchi says the same, and refers to Da 7:13: Behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds (ananey) of heaven. For this application of the word he gives a fanciful reason, not worthy to be repeated. The Syriac and Arabic omit several names in this table, and make only twenty-three verses in the chapter: but such differences are frequent in the books of Chronicles.”
And as commented on by Matthew Henry:
“The last person named in this chapter is Anani, of whom bishop Patrick says that the Targum adds these words, He is the king Messiah, who is to be revealed, and some of the Jewish writers give this reason, because it is said (Dan. vii. 13), the son of man came gnim gnanani–with the clouds of heaven. The reason indeed is very foreign and far-fetched; but that learned man thinks it may be made use of as an evidence that their minds were always full of the thoughts of the Messiah and that they expected it would not be very long after the days of Zerubbabel before the set time of his approach would come.”
Indeed, Matthew Henry marks an important focus of these Old Testament writers, that they should have “minds… always full of the thoughts of the Messiah”. Thus ends our foci on chapters 1 to 3 of 1 Chronicles, which speaks of individuals moving to the appointed nation and king; and the subsequent times to turn us to specific tribes under the leadership of such a king, modeling the gospel truth of the salvation of Gentiles before Israelites (Galatians 3). This is also the position taken by the synoptic gospel authors Matthew and Luke, focusing on the genealogy of the promised seed, from Adam to Japheth (1 Chronicles 1:1-4), from Shem, the promised line of the Semites to Abraham (1 Chronicles 1:17-24), from Abraham to Jacob (1 Chronicles 1:28-34), from Jacob to David (1 Chronicles 2:1-15), and from David to Solomon (1 Chronicles 3:1-10), and finally from Solomon to Shealtiel (1 Chronicles 3:10-17), after which the genealogy is covered by Matthew and Luke to bring us to the promised Messiah. So also, the author of Chronicles framed the opening of the books in the same manner as the synoptic gospels, to show that the promised line shall come through those especially highlighted, at the beginning and end of each of these three opening chapters.