I heard that of Chronicles and Kings, Chronicles is purported to be a record of what happened, but Kings is supposed to be a "theologically enhanced" version with symbolism, foreshadowing, motifs and other literary devices and its purpose is to be more moralistic.

Is this supported anywhere?

note: I'm looking for an explanation acceptable to the Orthodox scholars i.e. what is the purpose of the differences


3 Answers 3


The ArtScroll edition of Chronicles (I and II), by Rabbi Moshe Eisenman, focuses on the idea that Kings is about what actually happened, while Chronicles is about the deeper meaning.

That's why Chronicles often uses many names for one person, referring to his essence, not his real name.

Also, Chronicles ends by explicitly stating that the exile was because of Shemitah-violation, while Kings doesn't really give a theological reason.

I highly recommend this edition; it goes into great length about how nearly every topic (Menasheh's repentance, the Queen of Sheba's visit, and so on) fits into this thesis.

  • I would have thought it would be other other way round. After all, Kings is used for the haftaras but Chronicles is never a haftara. Feb 25, 2014 at 21:30
  • @ClintEastwood that's because Chronicles is from the Writings; haftorahs are only from the Prophets.
    – Shalom
    Feb 26, 2014 at 1:36
  • @ClintEastwood and often we can learn more from people's failures and challenges (which Kings contains by the ton), rather than their perfect-hair days (Chronicles).
    – Shalom
    Feb 26, 2014 at 1:42

Kings was edited by Jeremiah, the prophet serving during the time of the destruction of the first Temple, to frame things in a way that the people could see how they'd made the downward slide over the past few centuries, and how recently they'd just been circling the drain. The people had thought the Temple would always be around -- and then they needed to cope when it wasn't. Jeremiah and Kings end the same way -- after all the talk, the exile happened. (Last year's YU Tisha-B'Av-to-go had a piece on this.)

Chronicles was edited by Ezra. He had to give the people hope that they could return and build the second Temple. It thus has a whole lot more of a positive focus, and a lot more on the glory of King David -- the template for the future Jewish monarch who will redeem the people. Chronicles ends on a high note -- "time to go back to the holy land!"

  • excellent answer! If only there was a commentary to explain the reason behind the differences between Chronicles & Kings! Feb 26, 2014 at 2:50

The generally accepted position in academic bible study is that the book of Kings was written first and gives more specifics for the time period from the death of David to the Babylonian conquest.

The book of Chronicles is usually judged to be written later, around the time of Ezra the Scribe. Some scholars claim that Ezra himself was the author due to continuities of style, but this is not universally accepted. For evidence of this, compare the text of the two books regarding Cyrus's Edict (2 Chronicles 36) and (Ezra 1). In substance, Chronicals differs from Kings in that:

  • It starts its story at Adam rather than at the death of David.

  • It focuses almost exclusively on the southern kingdom of Judah, almost ignoring events in the northern kingdom of Israel.

  • It does not reference other existing histories (now lost) like Kings does ("Book of the Acts of Solomon", "Annals of the Kings of Judah", "Chronicles of the Kings of Israel")

  • Tells the biblical history with a different bias than Kings, emphasizing the Davidic dynasty and the temple itself.

While neither Kings nor Chronicles is "history" by modern standards, Kings is closer to "telling what happened" whereas Chronicals is more like retelling the story to provide a long contextual arc glorifying the temple and the house of David.


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