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The differences between the Books of Kings and the Books of Chronicles

Julian Spriggs M.A.

At first sight, the Books of Kings and the Books of Chronicles appear to be very similar, covering much of the same period of the history of Israel, especially the monarchy. However, there are some significant differences between the two, which are listed below.

The Books of 1 and 2 Kings were written following the Fall of Jerusalem to Babylon in 586 BC. Its main purpose is to show that idolatry led to the downfall of the two nations of Israel and Judah (2 Kg 17).

The Books of 1 and 2 Chronicles was written after the second return from exile in 458 BC. Its main purpose is to rebuild the nation under God after the exile, with its main focus on worship and the temple.

1. Chronicles focusses almost exclusively on the kings of Judah. The northern kings of Israel are not mentioned except where they have some relevance to the accounts of the kings of Judah.

2. In Chronicles, David and especially Solomon are cast in a favourable light, any negative details, especially Solomon's idolatry are omitted.

3. Chronicles is not concerned with the civil affairs. Its focus is on religious events, especially building the temple, celebrating feasts, renewing the Covenant, and revivals.

4. In the Chronicles account the good aspects of each king are described first and followed by the bad. The only exceptions are Ahaz and Jehoram who have nothing good said about them, as well as David and Solomon who do not receive any criticism.

5. The primary focus of Chronicles is on the temple, the priesthood, the Levites, religious organization and the keeping of the covenant. The Levites are mentioned 100 times in Chronicles, and only three times in Samuel and Kings combined. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah also have an emphasis on the Levites, where they are mentioned 63 times.

6. Chronicles is concerned with tracing the preservation of the Davidic line in order to demonstrate God's faithfulness to his word to David.

7. Chronicles ends on a positive note of restoration and hope. A purified remnant are returning to a purified land that has undergone 70 years of rest.

8. Chronicles gives great attention to lists, statistics and genealogies.

9. About half of the material in Chronicles is unique, and not found in the Books of Samuel or Kings.

10. The dating of Chronicles is later than Kings. Chronicles was written during the post-exilic period, during the time of Judah's restoration to the land.

11. The Chronicles account specifically shows the immediate retribution for evil and reward for righteousness and obedience to the Lord's prophets and the Covenant. The retribution takes the form of military defeat, illness or death. Rewards are in the form of military success, building projects, large families, wealth and honour.

12. In Chronicles there is an emphasis on the king's attitude toward the temple. Ungodly kings neglected and profaned the temple. Godly kings upheld and at times restored the temple. Solomon is an exception; he is the only king who honoured the temple but was involved in idolatry.

13. Kings stresses an emphasis on the Covenant and fulfilled prophecy. However there are still a significant number of prophets in Chronicles. There are 40 individual prophets or groups of prophets in Samuel and Kings, compared with 13 prophets that appear only in Chronicles and 12 prophets that are mentioned both in Chronicles and Samuel / Kings. Thus Chronicles has a total of 25 prophets or groups of prophets mentioned.