The only historic source we have about Judah and Israel during the First Temple period is the Bible, particularly the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings. This is where we learn of the exploits of the famous prophets, kings and judges who played such a prominent role in shaping Western civilization as we know it.
Secular scholars have long rejected the idea that the Deuteronomistic History was written by the characters depicted in the story. Firstly, none were written in the first person, which is how witness accounts are generally written. If anything, My Historian mind concludes they were written from the perspective of an all-knowing narrator writing from beyond Space Time.
In addition, had these books been written by different people over hundreds of years, we would expect quite a bit of variation in language and style from part to part (note the differences between Middle English and modern!). Yet the bulk of these books are written in a uniform manner. That indicates they were written from a unified source with perspectives beyond the limits of space and time present. .
Working through the PBJ chapters of the Bible in chronological order, we are blessed with different views and perspectives from different times. The major division point is the Babylonian captivity. That emotional, political, and visceral division resides between the writers of Ruth, Joshua, Judges, I and II Samuel, and I and II Kings and the writer of I and II Chronicles. It is a perspective we might miss as we walk through the PBJ laydown of Bible chapters in chronological order of events.
Samuel, the Talmud says, wrote Ruth, Judges, and the Samuel, until his death, at which point the prophets Nathan and Gad picked up the story. The Book of Kings, according to tradition, was written by the prophet Jeremiah. The books of Samuel and Kings closed with the Southern Kingdom (“Judah”) going into captivity.
The Histories of Judges, Samuel, and Kings focus on the political and power aspects of the period.
Books of Chronicles
The Books of Chronicles do not specifically name its author. The tradition is that 1 and 2 Chronicles were written by Ezra. The Date of Writing is between between 450 and 425 B.C., post Babylonian captivity.
The Books of 1 & 2 Chronicles cover mostly the same information as 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings. As would be expected by High Priest Ezra, the Books of 1 & 2 Chronicles focus more on the priestly aspect of the time period.
The Books Chronicles are essentially an evaluation of the nation’s religious history.
We might miss a lot of the strategic in the chronological. Yet, reading them in historical order, we are presented with these two unique but different perspectives. I hear people say that Israel was a theocracy. That is not correct. Throughout, we see the principle of separation of church and state in which the religious order remained separate from the Monarchy. Yet, one deeply impacts the other. This separation was what our founding fathers designed… One informing the other, but not one to the exclusion of the other.
For a fascinating perspective on how the last vestiges of the monarchy combined with the religious in the swirl of the post captivity occupation of Greece and Rome, take a look at From the Maccabees to the Mishnah by Shaye Cohen
Watching the Sun rise on Pikes Peak