1 Corinthians
2 Corinthians
1 Thessalonians
2 Thessalonians
1 Timothy
2 Timothy

1 Peter
2 Peter

Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη

Who was Josephus?
Maps, Graphics

War, Volume 1
War, Volume 2
War, Volume 3
War, Volume 4
War, Volume 5
War, Volume 6
War, Volume 7

Ant. Jud., Bk 1
Ant. Jud., Bk 2
Ant. Jud., Bk 3
Ant. Jud., Bk 4
Ant. Jud., Bk 5
Ant. Jud., Bk 6
Ant. Jud., Bk 7
Ant. Jud., Bk 8
Ant. Jud., Bk 9
Ant. Jud., Bk 10
Ant. Jud., Bk 11
Ant. Jud., Bk 12
Ant. Jud., Bk 13
Ant. Jud., Bk 14
Ant. Jud., Bk 15
Ant. Jud., Bk 16
Ant. Jud., Bk 17
Ant. Jud., Bk 18
Ant. Jud., Bk 19
Ant. Jud., Bk 20

Apion, Bk 1
Apion, Bk 2


Gospel of--
-- Nicodemus
-- Peter
-- Ps-Matthew
-- James (Protevangelium)
-- Thomas (Infancy)
-- Thomas (Gnostic)
-- Joseph of Arimathea
-- Joseph_Carpenter
Pilate's Letter
Pilate's End

Apocalypse of --
-- Ezra
-- Moses
-- Paul
-- Pseudo-John
-- Moses
-- Enoch

Clementine Homilies
Clementine Letters
Clementine Recognitions
Dormition of Mary
Book of Jubilees
Life of Adam and Eve
Odes of Solomon
Pistis Sophia
Secrets of Enoch
Veronica's Veil
Vision of Paul
Vision of Shadrach

Acts of
Andrew & Matthias
Andrew & Peter
Paul & Perpetua
Paul & Thecla
Peter & Paul
Andrew and Peter
Thomas in India

Daily Word 2019


Sundays, 1-34, A
Sundays, 1-34, B
Sundays, 1-34, C

(Ordinary Time)
Weeks 1-11 (Year 1)
Weeks 1-11 (Year 2)

Wks 12-22 (Year 1)
Wks 12-22 (Year 2)

Wks 23-34 (Year 1)
Wks 23-34 (Year 2)

Saints Days


Clement of Rome

Ignatius of Antioch

Polycarp of Smyrna

Barnabas,(Epistle of)

Papias of Hierapolis

Justin, Martyr

The Didachë

Irenaeus of Lyons

Hermas (Pastor of)

Tatian of Syria

Theophilus of Antioch

Diognetus (letter)

Athenagoras of Alex.

Clement of Alexandria

Tertullian of Carthage

Origen of Alexandria


Notes on the Historical Books

Joshua~~ Judges ~~ Ruth~~ 1 Samuel ~~ 2 Samuel~~ 1 Kings ~~ 2 Kings
1 Chron. ~~ 2 Chron.~~ Ezra ~~ Nehemiah~~





1 Samuel

2 Samuel

1 Kings

2 Kings

1 Chronicles

2 Chronicles



This set of narratives carries the story of Israel from their entry into the Promised Land at the end of their desert wanderings, up to their return from the Babylonian Exile in the late 6th century BC, and their re-establishment of their Torah-based culture and of their Temple sacrifices in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. It includes also the book of Esther, to indicate how the diaspora communities scattered throughout the Middle East managed to maintain their Jewish identity even in the face of dangers and alienation.

Notes on Joshua

Title and Theme

Joshua (or Joshue), means "God saves." The book, listed in the Jewish canon as the first of the "Former Prophets," describes in epic and idealized fashion the Israelites' occupation of Canaan, their Promised Land and of how Joshua parcelled out that land among the twelve tribes. It tells of spectacular divine intervention in their favour, and underplays the crises and opposition which both archaeology and the book of Judges suggest they encountered. It may be read as a theological interpretation of their early history, where the known facts are rather hazy and are suffused with the conviction of God's special providence in their favour.

Major Sections

1. Conquest of Canaan, miraculously easy (chapters 1-12),

2. Distribution of the land among the tribes (chapters 13-22),

3. Joshua's farewell to the people (chapters 23-24).

This book stands at an important turning point in the Jewish Scriptures. Since the entry into Canaan fulfilled God's promises to the patriarchs, it can be read as rounding off the "Hexateuch" - the first six books of the Bible.

Authorship and Date

Joshua belongs, along with Deuteronomy, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, and 1 and 2 Kings, to the "Deuteronomic" strand of Jewish history and theology, that was apparently put into written form by an author unknown to us, during the Babylonian Exile, in or about 550 B.C.

Some seek to identify in Joshua the same source documents that are found in the preceding books. But one may equally view it as the beginning of a history that continues in the books that follow. Like the first five books, it was almost certainly written in the sixth-century B.C. in Babylon, when the Israelites had lost the land they had once possessed. The re-telling of the original conquest of the Promised Land, with stress on Yahweh's miraculous help could encourage the exiles to hope for yet another entry into their land.

Notable Passages

Joshua's rousing farewell address (chapter 24) declares the conditions for Yahweh's continued favour to his people. The key condition is: "If your serve the Lord, you will live in the land; but if you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm and put and end to you." Enthusiastically, they promise to keep the Covenant, a promise sealed by setting up a large memorial to the event (24:26-27).


A. Introduction (1:1-18)

a. Commissioning of Joshua (1:1-9)

b. Joshua's Command to the People (1:10-11)

c. Instructions to the Transjordanian Tribes (1:12-18)

B. The Conquest of the Land (2:1-12:24)

a. Rahab and the Spies (2:1-24)

b. The Crossing of the Jordan (3:1-5:1)

i. The Crossing (3:1-17)

ii. Memorials to the Crossing (4:1-24)

iii. Reaction of the Kings (5:1)

c. Ceremonies at Gilgal (5:2-12)

i. Circumcision (5:2-9)

ii. Passover (5:10-12)

d. The Destruction of Jericho (5:13-6:27)

i. Prelude: the Theophany (5:13-15)

ii. Instructions (6:1-7)

iii. The Procession and the fall of the Walls (6:8-21)

iv. Epilogue (6:22-26)

v. Rahab's Family (6:22-25)

vi. Curse on Jericho (6:26)

vii. Conclusion (6:27)

e. Destruction of Ai (7:1-8:29)

i. Achan's Violation of the Ban (7:1)

ii. First Attack: Defeat (7:2-5)

iii. Discovery and Punishment of Achan's Sin (7:6-26)

iv. Second Attack: Victory (8:1-29)

f. Building the Altar; Teaching on Mt.Ebal (8:30-35)

g. Covenant with Gibeon (9:3-27)

h. The Southern Campaign (10:1-43)

i. Defeat of the Coalition of Five Kings (10:1-27)

ii. Defeat of the Major Cities (10:28-39)

iii. Concluding Summary (10:40-43)

j. The Defeat of the Northern Kings (11:1-15)

k. Summaries (11:16-12:24)

i. Geographical Resume (11:16-20)

ii. The Anakim (11:21-22)

iii. Final Summary (11:23)

iv. Lists of Defeated Kings (12:1-24)

C. The Division of the Land (13:1-21:45)

a. Introduction (13:1-7)

b. East of the Jordan (13:8-33)

i. Introduction (13:8-14)

ii. Reuben (13:15-23)

iii. Gad (13:24-28)

iv. Eastern Manasseh (13:29-31)

v. Conclusion (13:32-33)

c. West of the Jordan (14:1-19:51)

i. Introduction (14:1-5)

ii. Caleb's Inheritance (14:6-15)

iii. Judah (15:1-63)

1. Boundaries (15:1-12)

2. Caleb's Share (15:13-19)

3. City Lists (15:20-62)

4. Jerusalem (15:63)

iv. Joseph (16:1-17:18)

1. Introduction (16:1-4)

2. Ephraim (16:5-10)

3. Manasseh (17:1-13)

4. Conclusion (17:14-18)

v. The other Tribes (18:1-19:53)

1. Benjamin (18:11-28)

2. Simeon (19:1-9)

3. Zebulon (19:10-16)

4. Issachar (19:17-23)

5. Asher (19:24-31)

6. Naphtali (19:32-29)

7. Dan (19:40-48)

d. Conclusion (19:49-51)

i. Joshua's Personal Allotment (19:49-50)

ii. Summary (19:51)

e. Cities of Asylum (20:1-9)

f. Cities of Levites (21:1-42)

g. Summary (21:43-45)

D. Appendixes (22:1-24:33)

a. The Transjordian Tribes (22:1-34)

i. Joshua's Dismissal (22:1-9)

ii. The Altar West of the Jordan (22:10-34)

b. Joshua's Farewell Speech (23:1-16)

c. Covenant at Shechem (24:1-28)

d. Joshua's Death and Burial (24:29-33)

Dictionary, on Joshua

The Book of Joshua contains a history of the Israelites from the death of Moses to that of Joshua. It consists of three parts -

(1.) The history of the conquest of the land (1-12).

(2.) The allotment of the land to the different tribes, with the appointment of cities of refuge, the provision for the Levites (13-22), and the dismissal of the eastern tribes to their homes. This section has been compared to the Domesday Book of the Norman conquest.

(3.) The farewell addresses of Joshua, with an account of his death (23, 24).

This book stands first in the second of the three sections, (1) the Law, (2) the Prophets, (3) the "other writings" - Hagiographa, into which the Jewish Church divided the Old Testament. There is every reason for concluding that the uniform tradition of the Jews is correct when they assign the authorship of the book to Joshua, all except the concluding section; the last verses (24:29-33) were added by some other hand.

Two difficulties connected with this book have given rise to much discussion:

(1.) The miracle of the standing still of the sun and moon on Gibeon, referred to in Joshua's impassioned prayer of faith, as quoted (Josh. 10:12-15) from the "Book of Jasher."

(2.) God's command to utterly exterminate the Canaanites. In the author's mind, the Canaanites had sunk into a state of corruption so degrading that they had to be rooted out of the land with the edge of the sword.

The Amarna tablets (see Adoni Zedec) dating from about 1480 BC. down to the time of Joshua, and consisting of official communications from Amorite, Phoenician, and Philistine chiefs to the king of Egypt, afford a glimpse into the actual condition of Palestine prior to the Hebrew invasion, and illustrate and confirm the history of the conquest. A letter, also still extant, from a military officer, "master of the captains of Egypt," dating from near the end of the reign of Rameses II. gives a curious account of a journey, probably official, which he undertook through Palestine as far north as to Aleppo, and an insight into the social condition of the country at that time. Among the things brought to light by this letter and the Amarna tablets is the state of confusion and decay that had now fallen on Egypt. The Egyptian garrisons that had held possession of Palestine from the time of Thothmes III. some two hundred years before, had now been withdrawn. The way was so opened for the Hebrews. In the history of te conquest there is no mention of Joshua having encountered any Egyptian force. The tablets contain many appeals to the king of Egypt for help against the inroads of the Hebrews, but no help seems ever to have been sent. Is not this just such a state of things as might have been anticipated as the result of the disaster of the Exodus? In many points, as shown under various articles, the progress of the conquest is remarkably illustrated by the tablets.

Notes on Judges


Judges: (Hebrew: "Sopherim"): this book too, is part of that distinctive historico-theological tradition (the "Deuteronomic history") which reached explicit form during the Babylonian Exile. It begins with an account of the conquest of Canaan (1:1-2:5) and then tells a series of stories about individual "judges." These judges were not judicial lawgivers but a succession of impromptu, charismatic and military leaders who stepped forward to save their people from attack both by foreign invasion and by the original inhabitants of the land - who clearly had not been not wiped out, as was suggested in the book of Joshua. The book concludes with stories about the migration of the tribe of Dan to the north (chapters 17-18) and about the faults of the Benjaminites (chapters 19-21).

"Deuteronomic" Flavour

As in the previous two books, the author of Judges is at pains to stress that Israel's dangers and its loss of prosperity were caused by the people's worship of Canaanite gods. He repeats like a mantra that "The people did what was evil in the sight of the Lord - and he sold them into the hand of their enemies," and then, its more positive counterpart: "But when they cried to the Lord, He raised up a deliverer for the people." This simplistic, black-and-white schematic view of history characterizes him as a "Deuteronomic" historian.

Notable Passages

  • Settlement of Canaan (1:1-2:5)

  • Reflexions on the Age (2:6-3:6)

  • Deborah's Song (5:1-31)

  • Israel's Sorry Plight (6:1-10)

  • Gideon's Vocation (6:11-40)

  • Gideon's Victory (7:1-22)

  • Sacrifice of Jephthah's Daughter (11:34-40)

  • Delilah saps Samson's Strength (16:4-22)

  • Samson shakes the Temple (16:23-31)


A. Preliminary (1:1-3:6)

1. First Introduction: Settlement of Canaan (1:1-2:5)

i. Three Southern Tribes (1:1-21)

ii. Six Northern Tribes (1:22-36)

iii. Divine Rebuke (2:1-5)

2. Second Introduction: Reflexions on the Age (2:6-3:6)

i. New Generation (2:6-10)

ii. Apostasy (2:11-23)

iii. Tempted by the gods of other nations (3:1-6)

B. From Othniel to Abimelech (3:7-9:57)

1. Othniel (3:7-11)

2. Ehud (3:12-30)

3. Shamgar (3:31)

4. Deborah and Baraq (4:1--5:31)

5. Israel's Sorry Plight (6:1-10)

6. Gideon's Vocation (6:11-40)

7. Gideon's Victory (7:1-22)

8. Gideon's Supporters (7:23-8:3)

9. Gideon's Critics (8:4-21)

10. Gideon's Ephod (8:22-28)

11. Gideon's Family (8:29-35)

12. Abimelech (9:1-57)

C. From Tola to Samson (10:1-16:31)

1. Tola and Jair (10:1-5)

2. Jephthah's Enemies (10:6-18)

3. Jephthah's Call (11:1-11)

4. Jephthah's Victory (11:12-33)

5. Sacrifice of Jephthah's Daughter (11:34-40)

6. Jephthah's Critics (12:1-7)

7. Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon (12:8-15)

8. Samson's Birth (13:1-25)

9. Samson's Marriage (14:1-15:8)

10. Samson's Rampage (15:9-20)

11. Samson's Loves (16:1-3)

12. Delilah saps Samson's Strength (16:4-22)

13. Samson shakes the Temple (16:23-31)

D. Addenda (17:1-21:25)

1. Dan and Micah (17:1-18:31)

i. Micah's Shrine (17:1-13)

ii. Dan's Migration (18:1-31)

2. From Gibeah to Shiloh (19:1-21:25)

i. Outrage at Gibeah (19:1-3)

ii. Assembly at Mizpah (20:1-48)

iii. Rape at Jabesh-Gilead and at Shiloh (21:1-25)

Dictionary, on Judges

The Book of Judges is so called because it contains the history of the deliverance and government of Israel by the men who bore the title of the "judges." The book of Ruth originally formed part of this book, but about 450 A.D. it was separated from it and placed in the Hebrew scriptures immediately after the Song of Solomon.

The book contains:

(1.) An introduction (1-3:6), connecting it with the previous narrative in Joshua, as a "link in the chain of books."

(2.) The history of the thirteen judges (3:7-16:31)

Samson's exploits probably synchronize with the period immediately preceding the national repentance and reformation under Samuel (1 Sam. 7:2-6).

After Samson came Eli, who was both high priest and judge. He directed the civil and religious affairs of the people for forty years, at the close of which the Philistines again invaded the land and oppressed it for twenty years. Samuel was raised up to deliver the people from this oppression, and he judged Israel for some twelve years, when the direction of affairs fell into the hands of Saul, who was anointed king. If Eli and Samuel are included, there were then fifteen judges. But the chronology of this whole period is uncertain.

Notes on Ruth


Ruth is the story of a providential immigrant to Israel, the Moabite great-grandmother of king David. She is a young widow who leaves his native Moab, and comes to the land of Israel out of compassion for her widowed mother-in-law, Naomi. Settling in Bethlehem, she earns a meagre living for both of them, by gleaning in the cornfields and gathering in the stray sheaves. Impressed by her goodness, the wealthy farmer Boaz makes her his wife. Their son, Obed, brought joy to both Ruth and Naomi; later he became the father of Jesse, the father of David the king. Thus, Ruth features among the forebears of Jesus, in Mt 1:5.

Although set in the time of the judges, this story was influenced by ideas from much later times and therefore should be regarded as a post-exilic text. Probably it is founded on some scrap of factual tradition, for it is hard to imagine a Jewish author would have invented a Moabite ancestress for Israel's most admired king. However, as Edward Campbell has remarked, the universal appeal of Israelite life in this story "releases the story of Ruth for the pleasure and edification of all." (Oxford Companion to the Bible, 664).

Paradigms to Imitate

In Targumic tradition the kindness between Naomi and Ruth is celebrated as a paradigm for the education of a Proselyte into the Jewish faith. Ruth's husband, Boaz, is also a most sympathetic character, a man of honour and compassion, whose initial pity turns to love, and whose courage allows him to risk popular censure, to marry the noble-hearted immigrant woman whom Providence had brought to Bethlehem.

Notable Passages

  • Ruth's Pledge of Loyalty (1:16)

  • Gleaning in the Fields of Boaz (2:1-17)

  • Boaz as the "Redeemer" (4:1-12)

  • Descendants of Boaz and Ruth (4:13-22)


A. Famine, Death, Exile (1:1-22)

1. Three widows: Naomi, Orpah and Ruth (1:1-7)

2. Ruth, Loyal to Naomi, Moves to Israel (1:8-22)

B. Ruth in the Fields of Boaz (2:1-23)

1. Boaz's kindness to Ruth (2:1-18)

2. Naomi's Advice to Ruth (2:19-23)

C. Ruth sleeps under Boaz's Roof (3:1-18)

1. Naomi counsels Ruth (3:1-5)

2. Ruth sleeps next to Boaz (3:6-9)

3. Boaz Promises Marriage, if Possible (3:10-13)

4. Boaz Sends a Gift to Naomi (3:14-18)

D. Happy Ending (4:1-22)

1. Boaz gains the Re-Purchase Right ("Redeemer") (4:1-12)

2. Descendants of Boaz and Ruth (4:13-22)

Dictionary, on Ruth

The Book of Ruth was originally a part of the Book of Judges, but it now forms one of the twenty-four books of the Hebrew Bible.

It refers to a period perhaps about one hundred and twenty-six years before the birth of David. It gives (1) an account of Naomi's going to Moab with her husband, Elimelech, and of her subsequent return to Bethlehem with her daughter-in-law; (2) the marriage of Boaz and Ruth; and (3) the birth of Obed, of whom David sprang.

According to Jewish tradition, this book was written by Samuel. In its present form, it is attributable to the Deuteronomist historian. Brief and simple as it is, this book is remarkably rich in examples of faith, patience, industry, and kindness, nor less so in indications of the care which God takes of those who put their trust in him.

Notes on 1 Samuel

Theme, Date and Title

The two books of Samuel describe the origin and early history of the monarchy. These books belong (with Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, and 1 and 2 Kings) to the Deuteronomic history, probably written about 550 B.C. during the Babylonian Exile, or shortly thereafter. Scholarly opinion is quite various, regarding the date of the final editing of these texts, and on the level of historicity to be attributed to them. The books bear Samuel's name since he was instrumental in the selection of the first two kings. Samuel was judge and priest - and Israel's prophetic leader immediately before the monarchy. In God's name he ratifies the people's desire for a monarch, and then anoints first Saul, and later David as king.

As a unified whole, 1 and 2 Samuel figure significantly in the narrative presentation of Israel's memory and faith. "This narrative complex, which encompasses Joshua through 2 Kings, is central in the canon as well as in the study of Israel's history and theology. Moreover, the received form of 1 and 2 Samuel reflects specific narrative concerns such as the juxtaposition of human power and divine authority, and frames these with literary ingenuity." Freedman, David Noel, ed. The Anchor Bible Dictionary, (New York: Doubleday) 1997.

Contrasting Accounts

There are numerous repetitions and discrepancies in the books of Samuel. We find contrasting accounts of the origin of the monarchy (1 Samuel 9:1-10:16 and 1 Samuel 8; 10:17-27); of the rejection of Saul as king (1 Samuel 13:8-14 and 1 Samuel 15:10-31) and of David's introduction to Saul (1 Samuel 16 and 1 Samuel 17). One version of the slaying of Goliath attributes it to David (1 Samuel 17) and another to Elhanan (2 Samuel 21:19). All this suggests that the books were composed from a variety of independent narratives that were woven into a loosely knit story. One major source is the "court history of David" (2 Samuel 9-20; 1 Kings 1-2) which gives some clear picture of the early monarchy.

Davidic dynasty favoured

The author's theological bias in favour of the Davidic dynasty appears in the promise that divine favour will rest permanently on the David's descendants (2 Samuel 7). If, as seems likely, this was produced during the Babylonian exile, then the author hoped for a restoration of his people and was convinced that the kings of a restored Davidic monarchy would prosper in proportion to their faithfulness to the Law of God.

Major Sections

A. Time for Change (1 Sam 1:1-7:17)

B. Introduction of a New Epoch in Israel (8:1-12:25)

C. Beginnings of the Kingdom (1 Sam 13:1ff)


A. Time for Change (1 Sam 1:1-7:17)

a. The Emergence of a Prophet (1:1-4:1a)

i. Birth of Samuel (1:1-2:11)

ii. Samuel's Influence (2:12-3:18)

iii. Recognition before All Israel (3:19-4:1a)

b. The Departure of the Ark (4:1b-7:1)

i. Departure from Israel (4:1b-22)

ii. The Ark brings Disaster on the Philistines (5:1-12)

iii. Return to Kiriath-Jearim (6:1-7:1)

iv. The Judgeship of Samuel (7:2-17)

B. Introduction of a New Epoch in Israel (8:1-12:25)

a. Demand for a King (8:1-22)

b. Secret Anointing of Saul as King to be (9:1-10:16)

c. Public Acclamation of Saul as King (10:17-27)

d. Demonstration of Saul's Kingly Charisma (11:1-15)

e. Samuel, on the Ways of Kingship (12:1-25)

C. Beginnings of the Kingdom (1 Sam 13:1-2 Sam 5:10)

a. Rejection of Israel's First King (13:1-15:35)

i. First Account of rejection (13:1-15a)

ii. Battle at Michmash (13:15b-14:52)

iii. Second Account of rejection (15:1-35)

b. Rise to power of Israel's Second King (16:1-28:13)

i. Secret Anointing of David (16:1-13)

ii. Demonstration of David's Charisma (16:14-18:5)

iii. David's Rise and Saul's Decline (18:6-31:13)

First Intimations (18:6-16)

Conflict at Court (18:17-20:42)

Open Rupture (21:1-27:12)

Ultimate Failure of Saul (28:1-31:13)

Dictionary, on 1-2 Samuel

The LXX. translators regarded the books of Samuel and of Kings as forming one continuous history, which they divided into four books, which they called "Books of the Kingdom." The Vulgate version followed this division, but styled them "Books of the Kings." These books of Samuel they accordingly called the "First" and "Second" Books of Kings, and not, as in the modern Protestant versions, the "First" and "Second" Books of Samuel.

The contents of the books.

1 Samuel comprises a period of about a hundred years, and nearly coincides with the life of Samuel. It contains (1) the history of Eli (1-4); (2) the history of Samuel (5-12); (3) the history of Saul, and of David in exile (13-31).

2 Samuel, comprising a period of perhaps fifty years, contains a history of the reign of David (1) over Judah (1-4), and (2) over all Israel (5-24), mainly in its political aspects. The last four chapters of 2 Samuel may be regarded as a sort of appendix recording various events, but not chronologically.

These books do not contain complete histories. Frequent gaps are met with in the record, because their object is to present a history of the kingdom of God in its gradual development, and not of the events of the reigns of the successive rulers.

The section (2 Sam. 11:2-12:29) containing a candid account of David's sin in the matter of Bathsheba is omitted in the corresponding passage in 1 Chr. 20.

Notes on 2 Samuel

Theme and Date

Same as 1 Samuel (above) - originally they were a single text. 2 Samuel takes up the story just after the death in battle of king Saul, along with his son Jonathan, his most likely successor. The way was now clear for David to gain the kingship, and it is mainly with David's reign that this book is concerned. It tells both of his exploits and his moral failures, and is a major source for the belief that David's dynasty was divinely chosen, and would never fail.

Major Sections

A. Acceptance of David's Leadership (1:1-5:10)

B. David Centralizes power in Jerusalem (5:11-12:31)

C. David Loses, then Regains Jerusalem (13:1-20:25)

D. David prepares for Israel's Future (21:1-24:25)

Notable Passages

  • David's Elegy for Saul and Jonathan (1:17-27)

  • David Elected by the Tribes of Israel (5:1-5)

  • Transfer of the Ark to Jerusalem (6:1-23)

  • Oracle of Nathan and Prayer of David (7:1-29)

  • Bathsheba Affair and Murder of Uriah (11:1-27)

  • Nathan's Judgment on David (12:1-15)

  • Death of David's Son with Bathsheba (12:16-23)

  • Solomon's Birth (12:24-25)

  • Rape of Tamar and Absalom's Revenge (13:1-39)

  • Absalom Usurps the Throne (15:1-12)

  • Absalom's Death (18:9-32)

  • David Mourns for Absalom (18:33-19:10)

  • David's Return to Jerusalem (19:11-44)

  • David's Last Words (23:1-7)

Detailed Outline

A. Acceptance of David's Leadership (1:1-5:10)

a. Report of Saul's and Jonathan's Deaths (1:1-16)

b. David's Elegy for Saul and Jonathan (1:17-27)

c. David gains power over Judah (2:1-7)

d. Northern Support for Ishbaal (2:8-11)

e. David's Champions versus Saul's (2:12-32)

f. Attempts at Peace and Leadership Fail (3:1-4:12)

i. David's Sons, in Hebron (3:2-5)

ii. Ishbaal angers Abner (3:6-11)

iii. Abner's Negotiations Fail (3:12-39)

iv. Fall of Ishbaal (4:1-12)

g. David Elected by the Tribes of Israel (5:1-5)

h. Zion as Centre of the Confederation (5:6-10)

B. David Centralizes power in Jerusalem (5:11-12:31)

a. Ark to Jerusalem; David Builds Allegiances (5:11-8:18)

i. David Secures his Position (5:11-16)

ii. Philistine Battles (5:17-25)

iii. Transfer of the Ark to Jerusalem (6:1-23)

iv. Oracle of Nathan and Prayer of David (7:1-29)

v. David Allies with Non-Yahwist Regions (8:1-14)

vi. David's Administration (8:15-18)

b. Conflicts in David's Palace (9:1-12:31)

i. Meribaal's Protection and House Arrest (9:1-13)

ii. David opposed by Eastern Coalition (10:1-19)

iii. Bathsheba Affair and Murder of Uriah (11:1-27)

iv. Nathan's Judgment on David (12:1-15)

v. Death of David's Son (12:16-23)

vi. Solomon's Birth (12:24-25)

vii. David conquers the Ammonites (12:26-31)

C. David Loses, then Regains Jerusalem (13:1-2-0:25)

a. Absalom's Brief Sovereignty (13:1-19:10)

i. Rape of Tamar and Absalom's Revenge (13:1-39)

ii. Absalom's Exile and Reconciliation (14:1-33)

iii. Absalom Usurps the Succession (15:1-12)

iv. David Abandons Jerusalem (15:13-16:14)

v. Absalom's Foolishness (16:15-17:23)

vi. David in Exile (17:24-18:8)

vii. Absalom's Death (18:9-32)

vii. David Mourns for Absalom (18:33-19:10)

b. David's Return to Jerusalem (19:11-44)

c. Further Attempts to Topple David (20:1-25)

D. David prepares for Israel's Future (21:1-24:25)

a. Suppression of David's Enemies (21:1-22)

i. David Allows Massacre of Saul's House (21:1-14)

ii. Philistine Unrest (21:15-22)

b. Praise and Thanksgiving (22:1-23:7)

i. The Psalm of David (22:1-51)

ii. David's Last Words (23:1-7)

c. Submitting the Nation to Yahweh (23:8-24:25)

i. David's Warriors (23:8-39)

ii. Census and Plague (24:1-17)

iii. Plans for the Temple (24:18-25)

Notes on the 1st Book of Kings

Title, Author and Date

These books, so focussed on the reigning monarchs of Israel and Judah, are called Ha Melachim (Hbr) or twn basilewn (Gk). There is no clear indication within the text about the date and authorship of these books. The fact that some portions of them tally closely with passages in Jeremiah (e.g. 2 Kings 24:18-25 and Jer. 52; 39:1-10; 40:7-41:10; or 2 Kings 21-23 and Jer. 7:15; 15:4; 19:3, etc.), lend some slender credence to a Jewish tradition that Jeremiah was the author of the books of Kings. At any rate, like the two books of Samuel, they were probably written during or shortly after the Exile, even though heavily reliant upon shorter documents written long before, during the rule of the individual kings described. Whoever the compiler was, his purpose was more theological than historical; he has narrated the story of the kings in such a way as to convey a theology of Israel's history.

Monarchic History

The opening two chapters of 1 Kings complete the story of David, now an old man, and describe the royal accession of his son Solomon. Eight chapters (3-11) are devoted to Solomon's reign, followed by the traumatic division or schism of his territory into the rival kingdoms of Judah (southern Canaan) and Israel (northern Canaan).

The rest of 1-2 Kings tells the complex story of the reigns of various kings of Judah and Israel in the two centuries from the beginning of the divided monarchy (c. 930 B.C.) until the fall of the kingdom of Israel in 721 B.C. After this point, 2 Kings concentrates exclusively on the surviving southern kingdom of Judah, from 721 until its eventual collapse to the Babylonians, in 586 B.C. The author repeatedly shows his disappointment with succeeding monarchs, for not leading the Israelites according to God's appointed ways.

Completing the Deuteronomic History

These two books complete the "Deuteronomic History," that was written down during the Babylonian Exile (around 550 B.C.) They interpret the story of the monarchy in Israel from the death of King David down to the Exile, in terms of fidelity or infidelity to the Mosaic covenant. The criterion is theological: the performance of each king is judged not by political but by religious standards. If they were loyal to God, then they and their people were blessed; and vice versa.

Since the northern kingdom fell to foreign invasion in 721, all of its kings are presented in a bad light - their eventual disaster happened because they did not recognize the exclusive legitimacy of the temple cult in Jerusalem. By attending the northern centres of worship established by the schismatic king Jeroboam I, they had all shared in the sin of Jeroboam.

The author interweaves materials from north and south to emphasize the unity of the Israelite people and their need to return to covenant loyalty. His concern is to explain their exile, and offer them a prospect of hope and restoration. Though a national apostasy has led to their near destruction (in the Babylonian Exile), he believes his people will be restored to the glory of the days when David ruled over all Israel.

Notable Passages

  • David's Final Advice to Solomon (1:1ff)

  • Solomon's Prayer for Wisdom (3:6ff)

  • Solomon's Administration (4:1ff)

  • Solomon's vision, in the Temple (9:1ff)

  • Visit of the Queen of Sheba (10:1ff)

  • Political Disunity after Solomon (12:1ff)

  • Career of Elijah the Tishbite (17:1ff)

  • Contest of the Gods, on Carmel (18:20ff)

  • Elijah Meets God at Horeb (19:8ff)

  • Naboth's Vineyard (21:1)

Detailed Outline

A. The Reign of Solomon (1:1-11:43)

a. The Royal Succession is Decided (1:1-2:11)

i. The King's Young Bedmate (1:1-4)

ii. Adonijah Exalts Himself (1:5-8)

iii. Adonijah's Faction Gathers to Celebrate (1:9-10)

iv. Royal Succession Influenced by Nathan (1:11-14)

v. David Decides for Solomon (1:15-37)

vi. Solomon is Made King (1:38-40)

vii. Adonijah's Faction Flees in Fear (1:41-50)

viii. Adonijah Abases Himself (1:51-43)

ix. David's Grim, Final Advice to Solomon (2:1-11)

b. The Security of Solomon's Throne (2:12-46)

i. Adonijah (2:13-25)

ii. Adonijah's Supporters (2:26-35)

iii. Shimei's Execution(2:36-46)

c. Promising Beginning (3:1-15)

i. Solomon's Early Virtue (3:1-5)

ii. Solomon's Prayer for Wisdom (3:6-15)

d. God's Gifts to Solomon (3:16-5:14)

i. Solomon's Discerning Judgment (3:16-28)

ii. Solomon's Administration (4:1-5:8)

iii. Solomon helped by Hiram of Tyre (5:8-14)

e. Solomon's Temple (5:13-9:25)

i. Preparations made (5:13-18)

1. Forced Labour (5:13-14)

2. Stones are quarried (5:15-18)

ii. Building the Temple (6:1-7:51)

1. Material and Furnishings (6:1-38)

2. The Royal Palace (7:1-12)

3. Furnishing the Temple (7:13-51)

iii. Dedication of the Temple (8:1-9:9)

1. Narrative Prologue (8:1-11)

2. Solomon's Speech to the Assembly (8:12-21)

3. Solomon's Prayer, at the Dedication (8:22-61)

4. Inaugural Sacrifice is Offerred (8:62-66)

5. Solomon's vision, in the Temple (9:1-9)

iv. After Finishing the Temple (9:10-25)

1. Solomon and Hiram (9:10-14)

2. Forced Labour, again (9:15-23)

3. Further Works of Solomon (9:24-25)

f. Solomon's Wisdom and Wealth (9:26-10:29)

i. Solomon Promotes Trade (9:26-10:29)

ii. Visit of the Queen of Sheba (10:1-10)

iii. Solomon's Prosperity (10:11-22)

iv. Solomon's International Prestige (10:23-29)

g. Solomon's Tragic Ending (11:1-13)

i. Solomon's many Wives (11:1-8)

ii. Yaweh's Anger (11:9-13)

iii. Insecurity of Solomon's Throne (11:14-25)

iv. Revolt of Jeroboam (11:26-43)

B. Story of the Separated Kingdoms (1 Kgs 12:1---2 Kgs 17:41)

a. Jeroboam I of Israel (12:1-14:20)

i. Political Disunity after Solomon (12:1-20)

ii. Approval from a Prophet of Judah (12:21-24)

iii. Jeroboam's Cultic Innovations (12:25-33)

iv. A Prophet's Condemnation (13:1-10)

v. Prophetic Disunity; Sinful Times (13:11-34)

vi. Ahijah Foretells End of Jeroboam's Reign (14:1-20)

b. Early Kings of Judah (14:21-16:34)

i. Rehoboam's Reign (14:21-31)

ii. Abijam's Reign (15:1-8)

iii. Asa's Reign (15:9-24)

c. Early Kings of Israel (15:25-16:34)

1. Nadab (15:25-32)

ii. Baasha (15:33-16:7)

iii. Elah (16:8-14)

iv. Zimri; Civil Strife (16:15-22)

v. Omri (16:23-28)

vi. Ahab (16:29-34)

d. The Career of Elijah the Tishbite (17:1-19:21)

i. Elijah's Early Exploits (17:1-24)

1. Elijah Predicts a Drought (17:1-7)

2. The widow of Zarephat (17:8-24)

ii. Elijah Brings the Rain (18:1-46)

1. Elijah and Obadiah, the King's servant (18:1-16)

2. Elijah and Ahab (18:17-19)

3. Contest of the Gods, on Carmel (18:20-40)

4. The Rain Comes Down (18:41-46)

iii. Sequel to Elijah's Victory (19:1-21)

1. Elijah Flees to the desert (19:1-7)

2. Elijah Meets God at Horeb (19:8-21)

e. The Downfall of Ahab (20:1-22:40)

i. Syria Attacks Israel (20:1-43)

1. Ben-Hadad Demands Tribute (20:1-12)

2. Victory for Israel (20:13-34)

3. Prophet Condemns King Ahab (20:35-43)

ii. Naboth's Vineyard (21:1-29)

1. Naboth's Murder (21:1-16)

2. Prophet Micah Predicts a Defeat (21:17-29)

iii. Israel Attacks Syria (22:1-40)

1. Preparation for War (22:1-4)

2. Prophetic Words of Micaiah (22:5-28)

3. Ahab's Death, at Ramoth (22:29-40)

e. More Kings of Judah and Israel (1 Kgs 22:41-2 Kgs 1:18)

i. Jehoshaphat of Judah (22:41-50)

ii. Ahaziah of Israel (1 Kgs 22:51-2 Kgs 1:18)

Dictionary, on Kings

The two books of Kings formed originally but one book in the Hebrew Scriptures. The present division into two books was first made by the LXX. which now, with the Vulgate, numbers them as the third and fourth books of Kings, the two books of Samuel being the first and second books of Kings.

They contain the annals of the Hebrew monarchy from the accession of Solomon till the subjugation of the kingdom by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians (apparently a period of about four hundred and fifty-three years).

The books of Chronicles are more comprehensive in their contents than those of Kings, which overlap with 1 Chr. 28 -- 2 Chr. 36:21. While in the Chronicles greater prominence is given to the priestly office, in the Kings greater prominence is given to the kingly.

In the threefold division of the Scriptures by the Jews, these books are ranked among the "Former Prophets." They are frequently quoted or alluded to by Jesus and his apostles (Matt. 6:29; 12:42; Luke 4:25, 26; 10:4; see 2 Kings 4:29; Mark 1:6; see 2 Kings 1:8; Matt. 3:4, etc.).

Several sources of the narrative are referred to (1) "the book of the acts of Solomon" (1 Kings 11:41); (2) the "book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah" (14:29; 15:7, 23, etc.); (3) the "book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel" (14:19; 15:31; 16:14, 20, 27, etc.).

The date of composition was clearly after 561 BC. the date of the last chapter (2 Kings 25), when Jehoiachin was released from captivity by Evil-merodach, but was probably well after their return to Jerusalem, under the Persian king Cyrus.

Notes on the 2nd Book of Kings

Theme and Authorship

Basically, the same as for 1 Kings, completing the Deuteronomic History (see above). It is somewhat artificial to divide these texts into two books, since the story they tell is continuous, and their basic outlook is identical. What was said about the Authorship of 1 Kings applies also here. The sense that royal misgovernment is leading the Covenanted People towards disaster is even stronger in this volume, which culminates in the nation's invasion by the Babylonians, and the exiling of much of the population.

Notable Passages

  • Elijah's Departure to Heaven (2:1ff)

  • Elisha receives Elijah's mantle (2:9ff)

  • Elisha and the widow's Oil (4:1ff)

  • The Floating Axhead (6:1ff)

  • Hezekiah's Illness and Cure (20:1ff)

  • Isaiah warns of the Exile to Babylon (20:16:ff)

  • Josiah's Reform (22:1ff)


A. The Elisha Stories (2:1-8:29)

a. Elisha Suceeds Elijah (2:1-25)

1. Elijah's Departure to Heaven (2:1-8)

2. Elisha receives Elijah's mantle (2:9-25)

b. Jehoram and the Moabite War (3:1-27)

c. Acts of Elisha (4:1-18:15)

i. The widow's Oil (4:1-7)

ii. The Shunammite Woman (4:8-37)

iii. Elisha Annuls Food Poisoning (4:38-41)

iv. Elisha Multiplies Bread (4:42-44)

v. Elisha healings Leprosy (5:1-27)

vi. The Floating Axhead (6:1-7)

vii. Elisha as Military Resource (6:8-23)

viii. Samaria Delivered (6:24-7:20)

ix. Property Regained (8:1-6)

x. Elisha and Hazael (8:7-15)

d. Jehoram of Judah (849-842 BC) (8:16-24)

e. Ahaziah of Judah (842 BC) (8:25-29)

B. Succession of Kings, from Jehu to the fall of Samaria (9:1-17:41)

a. Jehu of Israel (842-815 BC) (9:1-10:36)

b. Athaliah of Judah (842-837 BC) (11:1-20)

c. Jehoash of Judah (837-800 BC) (12:1-21)

d. Jehoahaz of Israel (815-801 BC) (13:1-9)

e. Death of Elisha (13:10-25)

f. Amaziah of Judah (800-783 BC) (14:1-22)

g. Jeroboam II of Israel (786-746 BC) (14:23-29)

h. Azariah (Uzziah of Judah (783-742 BC) (15:1-7)

i. Zechariah and Shallum of Israel (746-745 BC) (15:8-16)

j. Menahem of Israel (745-738 BC) (15:17-22)

k. Pekahiah and Pekah of Israel (738-732 BC) (15:23-31)

l. Jotham of Judah (742-735 BC) (15:32-38)

m. Ahaz of Judah (735-715 BC) (16:1-20)

n. Hoshea and the fall of Samaria (722/721 BC) (17:1-41)

C. Judah on its own (2 Kgs 18:1-25:30)

a. Hezekiah (715-687 BC) (18:1-20:21)

i. Introduction to Hezekiah's Reign (18:1-12)

ii. The Assyrian Threat (18:13-19:37)

iii. Hezekiah's Illness and Cure (20:1-11)

iv. Dangerous Embassy from Babylon (20:12-15)

v. Isaiah warns of the Exile to Babylon (20:16-19)

v. Hezekiah's End (20:20-21)

b. Manasseh (687-642) and Amon (642-640) (21:1-26)

c. Josiah's Reform (640-609 BC) (22:1-23:30)

d. Jehoahaz (609) and Jehoiakim (609-598) (23:31-24:7)

e. Jehoiachin (598-597) and Zedekiah (597-587) (24:8-25:30)

i. Nebuchadnezzar besieges Jerusalem (25:1-10)

ii. Jews Exiled to Babylon (25:11-30)

Notes on the 1st Book of Chronicles


Theme, Origin and Style of 1-2 Chronicles

In the Hebrew tradition 1 and 2 Chronicles were originally part of a larger work that included the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, with which the Hebrew Bible ended. Together they survey Israel's history from Adam to the period after the Babylonian Exile (6th century B.C.). Their uniformity of language, style and ideas marks them as the product of a single author. We go with the dating suggested by the Jerusalem bible, as a work compiled in the 3rd century BC, and "very probably by a Jerusalem Levite."

The Chronicler's History

The first volume (1 Chronicles) lists genealogies from Adam to King Saul (chs. 1-2) and covers the death of Saul and the reign of King David (chs. 10-29); the second describes the reign of King Solomon (2 Chr. 1-9), and the period from the division of the monarchy into the northern and southern kingdoms to the end of the Babylonian Exile (2 Chr. 10-36).

While there is great deal of narrative overlap with the books of Samuel and Kings, the historical data are freely modified to reflect the Chronicler's distinctive point of view. In particular, he adds details to enhance David's reputation, and, as far as possible, omits whatever might diminish it. For example, David's sin with Bathsheba is omitted; also, he is credited with making preparations to build the Temple of Jerusalem (1 Chr. 22), while 1 Kings 5-7 clearly affirms that it was Solomon who both planned and built the Temple.

Major Sections

A. David's Forebears: Genealogies (1:1-10:14)

1. Adam to Israel: the Semites (1:1-54)

2. Sons of Israel: the Twelve Tribes (2:1-7:40)

3. Benjamin (Saul's tribe) and Jerusalem Families (8:1-10:14)

B. David's Empire (11:1-29:30)

1. Legitimacy of the Succession (11:1-11:9)

2. David's Miltia (11:10-12:40)

3. Theocratic Consolidation (13:1-17:27)

4. Empire-Building Wars (18:1-21:17)

5. Temple Building begun (21:18-29:30)


A. David's Forebears: Genealogies (1:1-10:14)

1. Adam to Israel: the Semites (1:1-54)

2. Sons of Israel: the Twelve Tribes (2:1-7:40)

i. Judah's Line (2:1-4:23)

1. Judah to Jesse (2:3-17)

2. First Caleb Genealogy (2:18-41)

3. Variant Caleb Genealogy (2:42-55)

4. David's Own Line (3:1-24)

5. The Southern Tribes (4:1-23)

ii. Reuben, Gad, Manasseh (5:1-26)

iii. Levites (6:1-81)

1. Through Moses and Samuel (6:1-30)

2. Lineage of the Choral Levites (6:31-48)

3. Aaron to Zadoki (6:49-53)

4. Levite Cities and Settlements (6:54-81)

iv. Pre-Davidic Northern Families and Properties (7:1-40)

3. Benjamin (Saul's tribe) and Jerusalem Families (8:1-10:14)

i. Notables of Benjamin (8:1-40)

ii. Jerusalem Families (9:1-44)

iii. Saul's Death; Legitimacy David's Succession (10:1-14)

B. David's Empire (11:1-29:30)

1. David Elected as King (11:1-9)

2. David's Miltia (11:10-12:40)

3. Theocratic Consolidation (13:1-17:27)

i. Recovery of the Ark (13:1-14)

ii. Building up the House of David (14:1-17)

iii. The Ark, in David's City (15:1-16:43)

iv. Temple Project Deferred (17:1-27)

4. Empire Building Wars (18:1-21:17)

i. East Jordan Campaigns (18:2-20:3)

ii. Philistine Wars (20:4-8)

iii. The Godless Census (21:1-6)

iv. Punishment for the Census (21:7-17)

5. Temple Project begun by David (21:18-29:30)

i. David buys a Site for the Temple (21:18-22:1)

ii. David's Blueprints for the Temple (22:2-19)

iii. The Levitical Personnel (23:1-27:34)

iv. David Leaves the Task to Solomon (28:1-29:30)

Dictionary, on 1-2 Chronicles

The two books were just one, in the Hebrew original. In the Septuagint version the book was divided into two, and given the title Paraleipomena, i.e. "things omitted," or "supplements," because they were seen to report many things omitted in the Books of Kings. This, however, is a misunderstanding that "has often led to a use of Chronicles in simplified histories of Israel, which does not do justice to a writing that should be read in the light of its own style of approach, and not just to fill gaps in a differently conceived presentation" (Peter Ackroyd, Oxford Companion, 113). In the Massoretic Hebrew, they were simply called Dibre hayyamim, literally "Acts of the Days." This title was rendered by Jerome in his Latin version "Chronicon," and hence "Chronicles."

The composition of the Chronicles was clearly subsequent to the Babylonian Exile, (and probably between 400 and 300 BC.) The close of the book records the proclamation of Cyrus permitting the Jews to return to their own land, and this forms the opening passage of the Book of Ezra, which can be seen as a continuation of the Chronicles.

The sources used by the Chronicler were public records, registers, and genealogical tables conserved among the Jews. These are referred to in the course of the book (1 Chr. 27:24; 29:29; 2 Chr. 9:29; 12:15; 13:22; 20:34; 24:27; 26:22; 32:32; 33:18, 19; 27:7; 35:25). Between Chronicles and the books of Samuel and Kings, there are at least forty parallels, some of them verbal, proving that the writer both knew and used these records (compare 1 Chr. 17:18 with 2 Sam. 7:18-20; 1 Chr. 19 with 2 Sam. 10, etc.). But a very signicant factor in the selection and ordering of the materials in 1-2 Chronicles was the composer's inspired view of how the nation should face its future, under Persian rule. He is at the very least a "creative" historian. Indeed one may agree with Ackroyd's assessment that "this is not a history of Judah. Attempts to prove historical accuracy are as misguided as criticisms of it as fabrication. It is a work of literary skill, significant for its relevance to the needs of the postexilic communit and to any period the demands the re-thinkng of long-held beliefs" (OC, 116).

An interesting practice of the Chronicler when using the older records is to substitute more common and modern expressions for those that had by his time become unusual or obsolete. This is seen particularly in the substitution of modern names of places, such as were in use in the writer's day, for the old names; so Gezer (1 Chr. 20:4) is used instead of Gob (2 Sam. 21:18), etc. (Such an example of freedom to edit the text from an earlier period provides great support and encouragement for a project like the compilation and editing of the present CD, which aims at a similar updating of valuable pre-existent texts!)

The contents of these books fall into four sections.

(1.) Genealogies of Israel from Adam down to the time of David (1:1 - 9:34).

(2.) Stories from the reign of David (9:35 - 29:30).

(3.) Stories from the reign of Solomon (2 Chr. 1 - 9)

(4.) The kingdom of Judah, down to the time of the return from Babylonian Exile (10 - 36).

The Chronicler is a major supporter of the Davidic ideal of leadership in Israel, and he shapes the account in order to present David's reign in the best possible light. This is done in ways that are sometimes subtle, and sometimes much more obvious. The genealogies of 1 Chron. 1-8 survey the ancient history of the people, focussing eventually upon the house of Saul (8:33); then chapter 9:1 leaps forward to say that the sins of Judah (implicitly related to Saul and the Benjaminites of the passage immediately preceding) led to the exile in Babylon; and it tells of the eventual return of priests, levites and temple servants, to dwell in their own land. Then it legitimates the whole of the temple liturgical order by referring it back to David and the seer Samuel (9:22). From 10:1-14 it tells the tragic story of Saul's death in battle with the Philistines, and states clearly that this was "for his unfaithfulness to the Lord" (10:13). The function of this story is to act as a foil to the reign of David, whose faitfulness to God and achievements in properly guiding the people are in such stark contrast to that of his ill-starred predecessor.

There is no place in the Chronicler's account for such unsavoury details as David's dultery with Bathsheba, the rebellion of his son Absalom and the entire story of the northern kingdom after the schism that took place under David's grandson, Rehoboam. This is not because he was unaware of them, nor indeed does it show any expectation of the restoration of the monarchy. Rather, he wants to put the entire Jewish religious organisation of the post-exilic period under David's patronage, and make him as it were the patron saint of revived Jewry.

In this view, we clearly do not read Chronicles as history in any modern sense. McKenzie (Dictionary, 131) puts it bluntly that the Chronicler did not intend to write "history." He did not intend either to replace or to supplement the earlier books of Samuel and Kings. What he wrote was not what actually happened but "what ought to have happened. It is the story of the ideal Israel living under its law in the historical circumstances which led to its fall." His ideal is specified by three theological principles which he presents as governing events:

1. A somewhat rigid scheme of retribution,

2. direct divine intrusion into history, and

3. the primacy of the temple and the cult.

The first of these principles is seen in the way the good or ill fortunes of kings Asa (2 Chron 16:7-12), Jehoshaphat (2 Chron 20:35-37) and Manasseh (2 Chron 33:10-20) are explained as retribution for good or bad deeds which are not reported in the 2nd Book of Kings. (Notably, the long reign of Manasseh is attributed to a deep conversion which is nowhere else attested). The second is clear from the spectacular victories (of Abijah over Jeroboam, 2 Chr. 13:13-22; of Asa over the million Ethiopian warriors, 2 Chr. 14:8-15; of Jehoshaphat over hordes of Moabites and Edomites, 2 Chr. 20:1-30) that are achieved without combat and simply by prayer and divine intervention. The third principle appears in the importance that the Chronicler gives to the temple and its personnel, and the cult which will preserve the bond between Yahweh and his people, not matter what may happen in the world outside. King David is presented as the founder of the temple music and the organisation of the levitical group, to which it is liely that the Chronicler himself belonged.

Even if this way of presenting the past is unattractive to the modern reader, we may still admire the Chronicler's aim of presenting the ideal of a holy people, governed by the divine law and faithful to the duties of public worship. "His affirmation of the primacy of the religious in human life, of the divine government of human affairs, and of the law of retribution, while put in a form which we find somewhat strained, is in full harmony with the beliefs of the Old Testament" (McKenzie, 132).

Notes on the 2nd Book of Chronicles


Origin and Subject-Matter

Same as for 1 Chronicles. Both sections of Chronicles was originally part of a larger work that included the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, with which the Hebrew Bible ended. It was composed probably between 350-300 B.C.

Major Sections

A. Solomon's Reign (1:1-9:31)

B. Faults and Reforms, in the Monarchy (10:1-36:23)

a. First Israelite Dynasty (10:1-16:14)

b. Century of Major Unrest (17:1-25:28)

c. From Uzziah to Josiah (26:1-35:27)

d. Puppets Under the Babylonians (36:1-23)


A. Solomon's Reign (1:1-9:31)

a. Inauguration at Gibeon (1:1-17)

b. The Temple (2:1-7:22)

i. Contracts and Building (2:1-3:17)

ii. Minor Furnishings (4:1-22)

iii. Enthronement of the Ark (5:1-7:22)

c. Solomon's Civil Rule (8:1-9:31)

i. Commerce and Urban Renewal (8:1-16)

ii. Fleet and Fringe benefits (8:17-9:31)

B. Faults and Reforms, in the Monarchical Period (10:1-36:23)

a. First Israelite Dynasty (10:1-16:14)

i. Rehoboam Causes a Schism (10:1-19)

ii. Rehoboam's Creative Period (11:1-18)

iii. Rehoboam turns Unfaithful (11:18-12:16)

iv. Abijah puts an End to Jeroboam (13:1-22)

v. Asa of Judah, and Reform of Public Worship (14:1-16:14)

b. Century of Major Unrest (17:1-25:28)

i. Jehoshaphat's Benign Reign (870-852? BC) (17:1-20:37)

ii. Jehoram's Violence and Infidelities (21:1-20)

iii. Ahaziah's Impious Reign (22:1-9)

iv. Queen Athaliah defeated by Jehoiada (22:10-23:21)

v. Joash (836-797): Reforms and Relapse (24:1-27)

vi. Reforms and Relapse of Amaziah (797-792 BC) (25:1-28)

c. From Uzziah to Josiah (26:1-35:27)

i. Uzziah's power and Pride (26:1-23)

ii. Jotham's Buildings and Victories (27:1-9)

iii. The Infidelities of Ahaz (28:1-27)

iv. Hezekiah's Sweeping Reforms (29:1-31:21)

v. Sennacherib's Invasion Thwarted (32:1-33)

vi. Manasseh (33:1-25)

vii. Josiah (34:1-35:27)

d. Closing Years: Puppets Under the Babylonians (36:1-23)

Notes on the Book of Ezra

Theme: Jewish life after the Exile

Ezra describes the return of the exiles and the rebuilding of the Temple of Jerusalem (chapters 1-6), then tells what was done by Ezra and Nehemiah in reorganizing the people following the Exile. The books represent the Chronicler's view of how Jewish life should be organized in a religious revival of fidelity to the Mosaic laws. It marks the transition from early Israelite religion to the Law-centred Judaism which was codified after the Exile.

Linked with Nehemiah and Chronicles

Ezra and Nehemiah form a single book in the Jewish canon, though they were separate in the Septuagint and are kept separate in the Christian Bible. The connection of Ezra-Nehemiah with 1 and 2 Chronicles is obvious from the fact that the closing verses of 2 Chronicles are repeated in the opening verses of Ezra. The similarity of language, style, and ideas of the two books and Chronicles mark the entire work as the product of a single author, some time after the Babylonian Exile, and probably as late as 350 BCE

Date and Place of Authorship

With their keen focus on the rebuilding of the Temple and the work of Ezra and Nehemiah after their return to Judea from the Diaspora, it is virtually certain that the books of Ezra and Nehemiah were composed in Palestine. Clearly the books must be later than the events they recount: the dedication of the Temple in 515 b.c.e. the return of Ezra in 458 b.c.e. (or 398 b.c.e.; see H.2), and the governorship of Nehemiah, 445-433 b.c.e. and his second visit to Jerusalem, no later than 424 b.c.e. How many years elapsed after these dates until the basic shape of the books evolved depends on the compositional theory presupposed. Some would date the final form of the books to about 300; others place it "within a few decades" of the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, or about 400 b.c.e. But if the last king mentioned is probably Artaxerxes II (403-359), it is probably best to assign the book to the first half of the 4th century.


A. The Second Temple (1:1-6:22)

a. Return of the Exiles (1:1-11)

b. List of Exiles' Names (2:1-70)

c. Resumption of Worship: Rebuilding the Temple (3:1-13)

d. The Work interrupted, by the Samaritans (4:1-24)

e. Haggai, Zechariah and Darius urge on the Project (5:1-6:22)

B. Community Organisation and Torah Revival (7:1-10:44)

a. Ezra's Priestly and Diplomatic Activity (7:1-28)

b. Leading the Exiles Home (8:1-30)

c. Offering sacrifice in Jerusalem (8:31-36)

d. Marriages with Foreigners Dissolved (9:1-10:44)

1. Ezra's Horror at Mixed Marriages (9:1-15)

2. Separations Ceremonially Declared (10:1-44)

Dictionary, on Ezra

This book is the record of events occurring at the close of the Babylonian exile. It was at one time included in Nehemiah, the Jews regarding them as one volume.

The book contains important elements of Jewish history, from the decree of Cyrus (536 BC.) to the reformation by Ezra (456 BC.), extending over a period of about eighty years.

The similarity of language, style, and ideas of Ezra/Nehemiah and Chronicles mark the entire work as the product of a single author, some time after the Babylonian Exile, and probably as late as 350-300 BC.

Ezra describes the return of the exiles and the rebuilding of the Temple of Jerusalem (chapters 1-6), then tells what was done by Ezra and Nehemiah in reorganizing the people following the Exile (chapters 7-10). The books represent the Chronicler's view of how Jewish life should be organized in a religious revival of fidelity to the Mosaic laws.

Notes on Nehemiah

Theme and Author

This book tells of the contribution of a leading Jew named Nehemiah, towards the building up of Judaism in the Holy Land, in the late 5th century BC. He used his considerable influence in the Persian royal court to gain support for fortifying Jerusalem and restoring the religious offices in the Temple. The action begins in the 20th year of King Artaxerxes, i.e. about 431 BC, when Nehemiah had returned the second time to Jerusalem after his visit to Persia. For fuller material on Judaism, see Covenant, Exodus, Temple, Judah, Ezra, Torah, Schaff: History, and do full search on keyword "Judaism."

Portions of the book written in the first person (ch. 1-7; 12:27-47, and 13), suggesting that a major source was a memoir written by Nehemiah himself. The final text can hardly be earlier than the mid 4th century BCE, and the author would have been a Jerusalem priest or Levite. Despite its sometimes confusing contents, this book gives valuable insight into the Jewish restoration that is also background for the books of Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.

Place of Composition: Same as for the Book of Ezra (above)


1. Nehemiah Rebuilds the Walls, in face of Opposition (ch. 1-7)

2. Reading the Law; Judaism Born amid Ritual and Promise (8:1-10:39)

3. Population Grows; Lists of Priests and Levites (11:1-12:26)

4. Dedication of City Wall; Other Reforms of Nehemiah (12:27-13:31)


1. Nehemiah Rebuilds the Walls, in face of Opposition (ch. 1:1-7:73)

Return of the Exiles (1:1-3)

Nehemiah's Penitential Prayer (1:4-11)

Nehemiah's Request to Artaxerxes (2:1-20)

Building done by Volunteers (3:1-32)

Opposition from Sanballat of Samaria and the Arabs (4:1-12)

Defence is Organised; the Work Continues (4:13-23)

Nehemiah Upholds the Rights of the Poor (5:1-19)

Nehemiah Avoids the Plotting of Sanballat and Tobiah (6:1-19)

Reorganisation of Jerusalem; Lists of the Returnees (7:1-73)

2. Reading the Law; Judaism Born amid Ritual and Promise (8:1-10:39)

Ezra reads the Law Aloud (8:1-8)

A Celebration is Proclaimed (8:9-12)

Festival of Booths, for Seven Days (8:13-18)

Ezra's Penitential Sermon (9:1-37)

Solemn Agreement Signed by the Jewish Leaders (9:38-10:39)

3. Population Grows; Lists of Priests and Levites (11:1-12:26)

a) Lists of the Growing Population (11:1-10)

b) Priests and Levites brought to Jerusalem (11:10-12:26)

4. Dedication of City Wall; Other Reforms of Nehemiah (12:27-13:31)

a) Dedication of the City Wall (12:27-37)

b) Liturgical Leaders and Sacrifices (12:38-47)

c) Separation from Foreigners (13:1-3)

d) Reform in the Temple (13:4-14)

e) Enforcing the Sabbath Observance (13:15-22)

f) Forbidding Intermarriage with Foreigners (13:23-31)

(for other visions of interaction with Foreigners see Isaiah and Jonah)

Dictionary, on Nehemiah

This book, a continuation of the book of Ezra, consists of four parts.

1.) An account of the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem, and of the register Nehemiah had found of those who had returned from Babylon (ch. 1-7).

2.) An account of the state of religion among the Jews during this time (8-10).

3.) Increase of the inhabitants of Jerusalem; the census of the adult male population, and names of the chiefs, together with lists of priests and Levites (11-12:1-26).

4.) Dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the arrangement of the temple officers, and the reforms carried out by Nehemiah (12:27-ch. 13).

This book closes the history of the Old Testament. Malachi the prophet was contemporary with Nehemiah.

Notes on Esther

Theme and Setting

This book celebrates the rugged survival of Jewish communities in the Diaspora, even under severe danger. Its views represent the opposite extreme to the book of Jonah, as it sets out to underline the differences between Judaism and all its pagan neighbours. It is one of the five festal scrolls that are read at important Jewish festivals, and is the core narrative for the feast of Purim. It is difficult to date the earlier (Hebrew) text, though it is probably earlier than 200 BCE. The later (Greek) additions are no later than the 1st century AD, since they are paraphrased in the Antiquities of Josephus (c. 95 AD)

The story is set during the reign of Ahasuerus, or Xerxes I of Persia (486-465), and specifically at his beautiful palace at Susa. It tells of a plot to exterminate the Jewish population throughout the Persian empire. The haughty empress, Vashti, displeases her husband and is deposed in favour of the beautiful Jewess, Esther. Two themes are interwoven: the unmasking of an assassination plot against Ahasuerus, by the rabid anti-Jewish faction in Susa, and the foiling of the bitter pogrom planned by the anti-Semite Haman. Esther is persuaded by her patriotic kinsman, Mordecai into identifying with her endangered fellow-Jews, and through her gracious influence with Ahasuerus turning the tables on their enemies.

Background to Purim Festival

Because so much of the action in Esther takes place during banquets, her annual Purim festival is such a focus of revelry that the Talmud enjoins drinking wine during it until one cannot distinguish between "Blessed be Mordecai" and "Cursed be Haman." Purim celebrates Jewish survival in foreign, often inhospitable surroundings. It is widely thought that the book was composed as a background to the already existing Jewish practice of a wine-drinking festival at harvest time.

The establishment of Purim being the raison d'être of the book, the author's emphasis was more on plot and colour than on personality or character. In fact, with the exception of Xerxes, who emerges as a hard-drinking, extravagant, and somewhat careless monarch with a nasty temper, all of the major characters seem rather two-dimensional. Neither Vashti nor Zeresh is a believable life-and-blood individual; they are merely tools the author uses to construct his story. Haman has no great stature or humanity, no redeeming qualities that enable the reader to identify with him or to pity him. The wisdom and goodness of Mordecai as well as the courage of Esther are asserted by the author more than proven. Beautiful and brave, Esther seems to be a Jewish nationalist whose Jewishness is more a fact of birth than of religious conviction. To say all this, however, is in no way to deny that the story is well told, its great popularity among Jews down through the ages certainly being proof of that.

The Book's Deficiencies

Many Jews and Christians in antiquity rejected the book of Esther, whether because of what the book lacked, or because of what it contained.

Its most conspicuous absence is any reference to God. Whereas the Persian king is referred to many times, the Lord God of Israel is not mentioned once. Apart from fasting (4:16 and 9:31), there is no mention of such basic OT themes and institutions as the law, dietary regulations, covenant, election, prayer, the temple, Jerusalem, sacrifice, and the like (however, all these features are explicitly mentioned in the Greek version of Esther, mostly in the deuterocanonical sections.

"The absence of any mention of the temple or sacrifice is perhaps understandable; after all, since the Deuteronomic Reformation of 621 b.c.e. sacrifices could be performed only in the temple at Jerusalem, some 800 miles West of Susa. But to have absolutely no mention of the law, covenant, election, or kosher foods is rather curious. Most significant of all, given the life-threatening situation confronting both Esther (4:8, 11, 16) and her people (3:13-14), one would certainly have expected some mention of prayer." (The Anchor Bible Dictionary).

Perhaps God's name as well as other overtly religious elements are absent from the Hebrew text of Esther because of the almost abandoned way in which some Jews celebrated Purim. The Mishnah says that Jews celebrating Purim are to drink until they are unable to distinguish between "Blessed is Mordecai" and "Cursed is Haman" (Meg. 7b). Thus the carefree way in which Purim was to be celebrated required that distinctly religious elements be omitted from the story, lest they be accidentally profaned by inebriated Jews hearing the story read aloud on the feast.


  • A. Prologue: Mordecai's dream (Gk 1:1-17)

  • B. Esther replaces Vashti as Queen to Ahasuerus (1:1-2:23)

  • C. Haman plots to destroy the Jews (3:1-15)

  • D. Esther and Mordecai try to avert the danger (4:1-19)

  • E. Esther Presents Herself at the Palace (5:1-14)

  • F. Haman's Humiliation and Execution (6:1-7:10)

  • G. Royal Favour towards the Jews (8:1-17)

  • G. Instituting the Feast of Purim (9:1-10:3)

  • H. Epilogue: The Interpretation of Mordecai's dream (10:4-13)

Flavour of the book of Esther

The authorship of this book is unknown. It must have been written after the death of Ahasuerus (the Xerxes of the Greeks), which took place 465 BC. The minute and particular account also given of many historical details makes it probable that the writer was contemporary with Mordecai and Esther. Hence we may conclude that the book was written probably about 444-434 BC, and that the author was one of the Jews of the dispersion.

This book has this remarkable peculiarity that the name of God does not occur in it from first to last in any form, although the divine influence runs throughout the whole story, showing God's providential care for his people.