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In practically all printed editions of Tanach that I have come across, as well as the ordering given in Bava Batra 14b, Ezra( - Nechemiah) comes before Divrei HaYamim.

Why is this the case?

Chronologically, Ezra - Nechemiah follows Divrei HaYamim. In fact, the last two pesukim of Divrei HaYamim are virtually identical to the first two and a half pesukim of Ezra, indicating that Ezra picks up where Divrei HaYamim left off. So why is the order reversed?

(I am aware that the Aleppo Codex (and also Mechon-Mamre) have Divrei HaYamim at the beginning of Ketuvim and Ezra-Nechemiah at the end, which would negate the question. My question is about the Talmud Bavli's order, and also the order of current printed editions, which seem to follow the Bavli regarding this aspect of the ordering, when they are willing to ignore it in other aspects (e.g. nevi'im acharonim), presumably for the sake of following a more chronological order.)

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    It would make sense to guess that DH was written after E-N (and thus borrows from E-N in its ending) even though the events described in it happened later. But I'm not sure what definite proofs there are to the order of the writing of the two books (apart from the apparent borrowing).
    – b a
    Oct 31 '17 at 15:38
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    Couldn't you also ask this about Yechezkel coming before Yeshaya in the Babylonian order? Clearly the Babylonians weren't that into chronology. They must have had some other reason of course, but it's just not too surprising that it's not chronological. Given the Gemara's answer to the Yeshaya problem, one could expect a similar answer here about putting Ezra next to Esther and Daniyel. (I see no reason to expect to find any significance in the commonly printed order.)
    – Double AA
    Oct 31 '17 at 16:51
  • @DoubleAA. True, but the Bavli gives a reason on the daf there for why it puts neviim acharonim non-chronologically, which it doesn’t do for E-N and DH (AFAIR). Second, there is still a question on the conventional order which does seem to give more weight to the chronology, and is willing to sometimes ignore the Bavli’s order, but not here.
    – Joel K
    Oct 31 '17 at 17:01
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    @JoelK What do you mean sometimes? It entirely ignores the Bavli's order. Our Tanakh text is based on the Israeli/Tiberian Mesorah (ie. Ben Asher and the Maaravai) not the Babylonian Mesorah (ie. Ben Naftali and the Medinachai). The fact that the conventional order differs from the Israeli order a bit is worth investigating, and could just be based on Christian printers or something. We make no claim to follow the Bavli.
    – Double AA
    Oct 31 '17 at 17:04
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The answer I recall hearing from a lecture by Rabbi Hayyim Angel is essentially that Sefer Ezra ends on a downer. Nechemiah comes back to see all of the work that he and Ezra performed; removing intermarriage, establishing the temple, bringing the people back to service of God, were slowly being eroded.

The book of Divrei HaYamim ends on a much more positive and hopeful note, looking forward to the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash and is therefore a more appropriate end for the 'story' of Tanakh.

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Some possibilities:

  1. One reason I can think of is that in Divrei Hayamim there's a list of Zerubavel's descendants which continues to several generations past the latest generation mentioned in Ezra and Nechemya, that of Yadua Hakohen. That would make DH technically later than Ezra and Nechemya.

  2. Shmuel Shrira in "Mevo Lekitvei Hakodesh", pg. 50, explains that the Tanach is essentially made up of two cycles of the origins of Am Yisrael: The first cycle is all of the books of Tanach not including Divrei Hayamim. The second cycle is just Divrei Hayamim which is a short repetition of the entire history of Am Yisrael beginning with the creation. Hence, DH is separated by being placed at the end.

  3. Rabbi Yoel Bin-Nun here suggests that it's more about Divrei Hayamim specifically being last. Why? Because it's a work that's essentially a combination of a midrash on older books, a compilation of extra-biblical works and commentary on older books. It's different from the other books of Tanach; it stands on the border between Tanach and Tanachic commentaries. For this reason it was placed at the end, as if to say: "Until here - Tanach, and from here on - commentary." (a little like Hillel's famous teaching).

  4. Prof. Moshe Garsiel in this lecture argued that the last great frontier the Jewish leaders were faced with during the final days of the Tanachic era was the issue of: "Who is a Jew?". This came about due to the continuous clashes and conflicts between the Jews that returned from the diaspora and the Samaritans. The Samaritans claimed they were the successors (whether spiritual, biological or both) of the Kingdom of Israel, which was a separate nationality than the Kingdom of Judah. Same religion, different ethnicity. Later, upon being rejected from Temple worship, they went on to claim that the real place chosen by Hashem was actually Mt. Gerizzim in the Shomron. This, of course, worsened the dispute. According to Garsiel, Divrei Hayamim was written as an anti-Samaritan polemic. It emphasizes the parts of Jewish history that disprove Samaritan claims and does not includes material that may be used by the Samaritans to prove their point. In short, Ezra and Nechemiah record the first several clashes between the two groups. As a reaction to what is described there, DH was written to assist in the "war effort", so to speak.

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    Where do you see that the list in DH goes past Yadua's generation?
    – Joel K
    Jan 14 at 17:37
  • @JoelK I made a table some time ago comparing the generations. Yadua was circa Ovadyah's time.
    – Harel13
    Jan 14 at 17:39
  • It depends how you read DH I 3:21. It's possible that all those mentioned there are sons of Chananya
    – Joel K
    Jan 14 at 17:43
  • @JoelK then why insert all of those "bnei" in the middle?
    – Harel13
    Jan 14 at 17:45
  • See eg Malbim ad loc
    – Joel K
    Jan 14 at 17:46

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