Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Look For The Differences

Reading through I Chronicles, I'm reminded that sometimes differences tell you more than similarities.  I and II Chronicles is to some degree a retelling of I and II Kings (with a bit of I and II Samuel mixed in), but if we assumed that is all the books of Chronicles are we would be largely mistaken.  They are post exilic whereas the books of Kings are exilic.  Chronicles deals almost exclusively with Judah while the books of Kings reflect on the twelve tribes of Israel, northern and southern.  I and II Kings asks the question, "How did we find ourselves in exile?"  I and II Chronicles asks, "What do we do now that we're back?"  None of these differences are necessarily overt.  However, they will become more clear as the differences between the books pile up.  For today, here are just a few of the differences I noticed after the genealogies finally ended.

 First, King Saul gets a whopping chapter, and that chapter recounts one single thing: his death.  There's no discussions about what he did for the Israelites.  There's no mention of Samuel.  There's no mention of Saul's interactions with David.  The Philistines invaded and Saul, along with his sons, died.  The end.  Why mention Saul to begin with if that is all you're going to say about him?  Why not just start with David?  That will become clear later.

Second, in Chronicles, one of the reasons Saul dies is because he sought guidance from a necromancer instead of trusting in God.  Now that might very well be true, but in Kings, Samuel told Saul he was going to lose the kingdom a long time before he visited a necromancer.

Third, in Chronicles, after Saul's death, Israel immediately flocks to David in order to make him king.  Chronicles doesn't mention the fact that Saul still had a living heir who inherited Saul's title.  Chronicles doesn't mention Abner, and the fallout he had with Ishbaal, which is why Saul's kingdom fell into David's lap.  All those little details are absent.

Finally, in Chronicles, David seems to immediately move his capital to Jerusalem.  Hebron is only mentioned in passing.  Why the immediate focus on Jerusalem?  Again, this will become clear later, but for now, just notice the difference.

It may seem odd that I and II Chronicles should be in the Bible.  After all, for the most part we've already heard the stories, and with a few exceptions, I and II Samuel/Kings provides more details.  I and II Chronicles exists for a reason, however, and it is in the differences that we will see why.

Stopping point: I Chronicles 11

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