What Are “The Annals”?

(What are “the annals”?) Bible Question

Question:

“I was reading 1 Chronicles in my daily Bible reading. What does it mean in chapter 27 when it refers to king’s annals?”

Answer:

Joab son of Zeruiah began to count the men but did not finish. God’s wrath came on Israel on account of this numbering, and the number was not entered in the book of the annals of King David.

– 1 Chronicles 27:24 (New International Version)

The word “annals” is used in the New International Version. The King James Version and the New American Standard Bible uses the word “chronicles”. The annals of the kings were typically the official history of that given king.

Kings of the ancient world would have a chronicler record all the great things he had done in a given year. This would be proclaimed at annual feasts or other events. The purpose was to make the king more popular with his subjects and strengthen his hold on the kingdom. It also allowed his son to maintain control of the throne when the king died.

Often, the chronicler would make the king look good as possible, even exaggerating or lying about his exploits or accomplishments. The annals were used to promote a political agenda, not too different from the party platforms we see in our political conventions. Thus, the annals were part of the political tools ancient kings used to maintain the throne and the good will of the people. The kings of Israel followed this example.

It is interesting that the chroniclers (compilers) of First and Second Chronicles (while under the divine guidance of the Lord) included “the good, the bad and the ugly” of Israel’s kings. Not just the good.

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