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Did the Writer of Chronicles Try to Scrub Away David’s Dirty Past?

Corporations cook their books. Politicians get caught taking bribes. Scientists fudge data. Should the writer of Chronicles be judged the same way?

It’s widely known that the books of 1–2 Chronicles are a reiteration of the history of Israel found in the books of 1–2 Samuel and 1–2 Kings. What isn’t as well known is that the writer of Chronicles carefully and deliberately omits any negative material about David and Solomon from his historical record. Try to find the account of David’s adultery and murder of Uriah in 1 Chronicles—you won’t be able to.
Why would the Chronicler omit it?

The author’s real agenda

History written this way isn’t necessarily unreliable or deceptive. If I picked up a book entitled The Native American History of the Pioneer West, I know what I’m getting. I have no reason to believe the contents will be misleading; I have every reason to believe the work is selective and incomplete. I know the book was written with a specific slant, so I won’t take it as the last word on the American West.
First and Second Chronicles deserves the same consideration. Those books went into the Hebrew Bible (and later bibles) along with the books of Samuel and Kings. Anyone who read their Bible would learn about the unsavory acts of David and Solomon. No one would be fooled. Deception could not possibly be the point. There was another agenda.

First and Second Chronicles were written during (or shortly) after the exile of the Jews in Babylon. Israel would once again have its own nation and leadership. The writer of Chronicles wanted the new generation returning to the land to remember and keep the covenant God made with David, and remember that his dynasty had been chosen to rule. Disloyalty to David’s dynasty had fractured the kingdom, producing a deviant religion and, ultimately, the destruction of Israel (Amos 7:9–11). The Chronicler wanted to revive loyalty to David’s line, and so David and Solomon are cast as ideal monarchs. The Chronicler didn’t want to deceive, but inspire.

why is the bible hard to understandDr. Michael S. Heiser is a scholar-in-residence for Faithlife, the makers of Logos Bible Software. He is the author of The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible and has taught many Mobile Ed courses, including Problems in Biblical Interpretation: Difficult Passages I.

This article is excerpted from Dr. Heiser’s book I Dare You Not to Bore Me with the Bible.

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Written by
Michael S. Heiser

Michael S. Heiser is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania (M.A., Ancient History) and the University of Wisconsin- Madison (M.A., Ph.D., Hebrew Bible and Semitic Studies). He has a dozen years of classroom teaching experience on the college level and another ten in distance education. He is a former scholar-in-residence at Logos Bible Software.

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Written by Michael S. Heiser