Daily Bible Study Tips: 1 and 2 Chronicles

Exodus 27:21 – 28:1; Numbers 1:47-53, Introduction to the Aaronic priesthood and Levitical duties.
1 Chronicles 1:1-16, 9:1,  Eight chapters of genealogy.
1 Chronicles 9:10-34, Priests and porters.
1 Chronicles 15:1-29, The Ark of God comes to Jerusalem.

Comments on 1 Chronicles Chapters 16 - 25
Comments on 1 Chronicles 26 - 2 Chronicles 13
Comments on 2 Chronicles Chapters 22 - 35

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Exodus 27:21 – 28:1; Numbers 1:47-53,  Introduction to the Aaronic priesthood and Levitical duties. (6/21/2010)  

I and II Chronicles are historical books covering roughly the same period of time as II Samuel and I and II Kings.  Samuel and Kings are primarily a history of the kings of Israel and Judah, with some discussion of how the kings were supported or opposed by the prophets.  The Chronicles, however, are primarily a history of the priests and Levites, with some discussion of how they were supported or opposed by the kings.  Although quite a bit of the material is overlapping or duplicated, substantial portions are unique to Chronicles, and we are going to concentrate on those parts for the next three weeks.
As an introduction, let's take a brief look at the origin of the priests and the original duties of the Levites.  You recall that Moses and Aaron were from the tribe of Levi.  God selected Aaron and his descendants to be priests, and the rest of the tribe, including the descendants of Moses, to take care of the tent of the tabernacle and all of its accoutrements.  If you ever saw "Raiders of the Lost Ark," you know that the Ark is dangerous to anyone who is not authorized to touch it, and this is also true of the tabernacle itself and all the stuff that goes with it.  Because the Levites had the special job of taking care of all the holy things and thus protecting all the other Israelites, they did not get a tribal allotment of land in the Promised Land.  Instead, they got 48 cities that were scattered throughout the allotments of the other tribes.

1 Chronicles 1:1-16, 9:1,  Eight chapters of genealogy. (6/22/2010)  

We have a family business.  Of six employees, four are members of our immediate family.  But how are you supposed to know what your family business is if you don't know who your family is?  Chronicles emphasizes the priesthood and the duties of the Levites, which together made up a family business.  It makes sense that they are even more interested than most of the Biblical writers in genealogy.  The writers begin with eight chapters of genealogy (which may be why Chronicles is among the lesser-read books) and then summarize a couple thousand years of the history of Israel in half a verse at the beginning of Ch. 9:  "Judah was taken into exile in Babylon because of their breach of faith."  The business of the larger Israelite family was faithfulness to God, and when they were unfaithful, they went out of business.

1 Chronicles 9:10-34,  Priests and porters. (6/23/2010)  

By now you have probably turned in your 2010 census form.  You had to enter the name, age, and ethnicity of every person in your household.  In previous censuses, the questions variously included place of birth, occupation, marital status, native language, schooling, whether you rented or owned, whether you had a telephone or an indoor toilet, and all sorts of stuff that is absolutely fascinating to historians and genealogists.  The United States by no means invented the idea of taking a census, however. 
The number of Jews who survived the war with the Babylonians and the siege of Jerusalem long enough to go into exile was fairly small, about 10,000 according to II Kings 24.  The Jews did reasonably well for themselves during their 40 years of captivity, and 42,360 of them returned to Judea from Babylon when Cyrus the Persian sent them back home (Ezra 1 and 2).  The population was small enough that they could easily take another census, by families, that recorded the occupation of each family.  Naturally, the writers of Chronicles are most interested in the priests and Levites who were living in Jerusalem and in what they did, which is fascinating.  Running the Temple was a huge operation, and there were many specialized jobs, some of which we read about today.

1 Chronicles 15:1-29, The Ark of God comes to Jerusalem. (6/24/2010)  

Yesterday we read in Ch. 9 about the post-Exilic numbers and duties of the priests and Levites in Jerusalem.  In a whiplash-inducing change of subject, Ch. 10 jumps back a thousand years to talk about the deaths of King Saul and his sons, and Chs. 11 - 14 give some historical information on King David that parallels the accounts in Kings.  Eventually David brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, and this story sheds a brilliant light on the difference between Samuel/Kings and Chronicles.  When you read the account in II Samuel 6, it sounds like King David (and some of his guys) brought the Ark.  When you read I Chronicles 15, below, it sounds like the priests and Levites (at the direction of David) brought the Ark.  In II Samuel, David dances.  In Chronicles, the Levite musicians form a big marching band (and David dances).  Same story, different emphasis.

Copyright 2010 by Regina L. Hunter.  All rights reserved.

Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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