1 Chronicles 10-12

Good morning! Today in 1 Chronicles 10-12 we return to something more resembling narratives, though because this is Chronicles many of the narratives are also composed of lists. All the vignettes we read today are familiar because we’ve heard them previously in Samuel or Kings.

Chapter 10 skips over any news of Saul’s ascent to the throne or how he formed the united monarchy and then lost favor with God. Instead, the chapter starts with the death of Saul and his sons in battle against the Philistines. We can recognize more clearly the theological tone which will become all the more prominent for the rest of Chronicles. The narrator explains historical events as a consequence of Hebrew faithfulness or unfaithfulness. Hence, we read that Saul’s death came about because he failed to keep God’s commandments, and once consulted a medium rather than seeking God’s guidance.

As we move into David’s reign according to 1 Chronicles 11, we find no accounts of victory over Goliath, early battles against the Philistines, or David’s rule for seven years in Judah. Instead, we see David anointed at Hebron over Israel as well as Judah, then marching to Jerusalem, overtaking the city, and building it up as his home base. From there we jump to the exploits of the Thirty and the Three, which came at the very end of Davidic stories in 2 Samuel. In keeping with this writer’s fascination with lists, we then find the names of key warriors in David’s armies.

The list that begins chapter 12 jumps back in time to before Saul’s death, as a number of soldiers pledged allegiance to David when he was hiding from Saul. Whereas the writer of Samuel wanted us to see how merciful David was when Saul repeatedly came within his grasp, the Chronicler is concerned with exact names and numbers for those in the armies of David. We see representatives from all the tribes of Israel (even Saul’s tribe of Benjamin) assembled at David’s anointing at Hebron—much the way onetime political foes come together in a sign of unity, or are at least described as doing so. There are dramatic differences in the numbers representing each tribe—a few hundred from Issachar to fifty thousand from Zebulun and one hundred twenty thousand from the tribes east of the Jordan. Despite the differences in number, the result is a massive army gathered to recognize David’s command and protect Israel. Though they assemble at Hebron for three whole days, tribes around the kingdom have sent abundant food to feed all of them, indicating universal support for David’s rule. Happy reading!

Read 1 Chronicles 10-12.

Please join discussion of this passage at the Daily Bible Facebook group, or comment below. The passage for tomorrow is 1 Chronicles 13-16. Thanks for reading!

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