2 CHRONICLES

Kevin D. Zuber

INTRODUCTION

For Introduction, see the Introduction to 1 and 2 Chronicles, pp. 553–556. Because 1 and 2 Chronicles were originally one book, the outline and commentary in this chapter of 2 Chronicles represent a continuation of the outline and commentary in 1 Chronicles. Therefore, the outline that follows begins with Roman numeral III and picks up with a portion of 1 Chronicles 29.

OUTLINE

III. History of Solomon (1Ch 29:22b–25; 2Ch 1:1–9:31)

A. Solomon Made King (1Ch 29:22b–25)

B. Solomon Consolidated His Regnancy (2Ch 1:1–17)

1. Solomon Secured His Kingdom; the Lord Was with Him (1:1)

2. Solomon Addressed All Israel (1:2–6)

3. Solomon Asked for Wisdom (1:7–13)

4. Solomon’s Wealth (1:14–17)

C. Solomon’s Preparations for the Temple (2:1–18)

1. Attention Turned to the Temple (2:1)

2. The Workers (2:2, 17–18)

3. Solomon Communicated with Huram King of Tyre (2:3–16)

D. Solomon Built and Furnished the Temple (3:1–4:22)

1. The Temple Plan (3:1–17)

2. The Furnishings (4:1–22)

E. Dedication of the Temple (5:1–7:22)

1. The Ark and the Glory of God (5:1b–14)

a. The Ark Comes to the Temple (5:1b–10)

b. The Glory of God Comes to the Temple (5:11–14)

2. Solomon’s Dedicatory Speech (6:1–11)

a. Dedicatory Verse (6:1–2)

b. Dedicatory Address (6:3–11)

3. Solomon’s Dedicatory Prayer (6:12–42)

a. Prayer of Acknowledgment (6:14–15, 18)

b. Prayer of Petition (6:16–17, 19–21)

c. Prayer Regarding Various Situations (6:22–39)

d. Final Appeal (6:40–42)

4. Fire and the Glory of the Lord (7:1–3)

5. Sacrifices and Festival (7:4–11)

6. Post-Dedication Appearance of the Lord to Solomon (7:12–22)

a. The Lord Confirms His Choice of the Temple (7:12, 16)

b. The Lord Extended His Promise to Include Restoration (7:13–15)

c. The Lord Reiterated His Promise to the House of David (7:17–18)

d. The Lord Warned of Exile for "Forsaking" His Law (7:19–22)

F. Solomon’s Reign (8:1–9:31)

1. Solomon Secured His Kingdom (8:1–18)

a. Solomon’s Building Projects (8:1–11)

b. Solomon’s Temple Ceremonies and Personnel (8:12–15)

c. Summary Statement Regarding the Temple (8:16)

d. His Seaports and Trading (8:17–18; 9:10–11, 21)

2. Solomon Administered Kingdom in Wisdom, Amassed Great Wealth (9:1–28)

a. Solomon’s Wisdom and Queen of Sheba (9:1–9, 12)

b. Solomon’s Wealth and Power (9:13–20, 22–28)

3. Summary and Death of Solomon (9:29–31)

IV. The Kings of David’s Line (10:1–36:23)

A. Rehoboam (10:1–12:16)

1. The Kingdom Divided (10:1–19)

a. Rehoboam Met with All Israel; Coronation Delayed (10:1–5)

b. Rehoboam Met with His Advisors (10:6–11)

c. Rehoboam Met with Jeroboam and All the People (10:12–15)

d. Kingdom Divided (10:16–19)

2. The Reign of Rehoboam (11:1–23)

a. Rehoboam Prevented from Attacking Israel (11:1–4)

b. Rehoboam Secured His Kingdom (11:5–13)

c. Jeroboam’s Apostasy Led to Judah’s Strength (11:14–17)

d. Rehoboam’s Family (11:18–23)

3. Invasion of Shishak (12:1–12)

a. Invasion by Egypt (12:1–4)

b. Cause of Invasion Explained (12:5)

c. Repentance and Humility Avert Total Disaster (12:6–12)

4. Summary of Rehoboam’s Reign (12:13–16)

B. Abijah (13:1–14:1)

1. Introductory Formula for Abijah (13:1–2a)

2. Abijah’s War with Israel (13:2b–19)

a. Nations at War (13:2b–3)

b. Abijah’s Speech to Israel (13:4–12)

(1) First Charge against Israel: Rebellion to Davidic Dynasty (13:4–7)

(2) Second Charge against Israel: Apostasy from True Worship (13:8–9)

(3) Justification of Southern Kingdom: Not Forsaking the Lord, True Worship Upheld (13:10–11)

(4) Appeal to Northern Kingdom: God Is with Us—Do Not Fight against Him (13:12)

c. The Battle Joined (13:13–19)

3. Concluding Formula for Abijah (13:20–14:1)

C. Asa (14:2–16:14)

1. The Lord Gives Godly King Asa Great Victory (14:2–15)

a. King Asa Did Right before the Lord (14:2)

b. Asa Instituted Religious Reforms (14:3–5)

c. Asa Instituted Nationwide Security Program (14:6–8)

d. Asa’s War with Zerah the Ethiopian (14:9–15)

2. Asa’s Response to Azariah’s Prophecy (15:1–19)

a. Prophet Brings the Lord’s Word to King and Nation (15:1–7)

b. Asa’s Response to God’s Word: Reformation, Revival (15:8–19)

3. Asa Sought Security in Treaty with Enemy (16:1–14)

a. Asa Made a Temporal Alliance (16:1–6)

b. Hanani the Seer (Prophet) Rebuked Asa (16:7–9)

c. Asa’s Reaction Inappropriate (16:10)

d. Asa’s Punishment (16:12)

e. Concluding Formula for Asa (16:11, 13–14)

D. Jehoshaphat (17:1–20:37)

1. Jehoshaphat Established His Kingdom (17:1–6)

a. He Secured the Nation (17:1–2)

b. He Devoted Himself to God (17:3–6)

2. Jehoshaphat Administered His Kingdom (17:7–19)

a. Jehoshaphat’s "Spiritual" Administration (17:7–9)

b. Jehoshaphat’s "Temporal" ("Military") Administration (17:10–19)

3. Jehoshaphat’s Disastrous Alliance with Ahab (18:1–19:3)

a. Alliance by Marriage (18:1)

b. Alliance for War (18:2–27)

c. Alliance in Defeat (18:28–34)

d. Alliance and King Rebuked (19:1–3)

4. Jehoshaphat’s Reforms (19:4–11)

a. Spiritual Renewal (19:4)

b. Judges Appointed (19:5–7)

c. Levites and Priests Appointed (19:8–11)

5. Jehoshaphat Faced Invasion and War with Prayer, Faith (20:1–30)

a. Surprise Invasion from the South (20:1–2)

b. Spiritual Response by King (20:3–19)

c. A Stunning Victory and Triumph (20:20–30)

6. Jehoshaphat’s Sad Ending (20:31–37)

E. Three Who Were "Bad" (Jehoram, Ahaziah, Athaliah) (21:1–23:15)

1. Jehoram Succeeded Jehoshaphat (21:1–3)

2. Jehoram’s Evil and the Lord’s Faithfulness (21:4–7)

3. Jehoram’s Punishment (21:8–19a)

a. The Revolts of Edom and Libnah (21:8–11)

b. Letter from Elijah (21:12–15)

c. Punishments of the Letter (21:16–19a)

4. Jehoram’s End (21:19b–20)

5. Reign of Ahaziah (22:1–9)

a. Ahaziah Is Made King (22:1–4)

b. Ahaziah’s Alliance with Jehoram of Israel (22:5–6)

c. Ahaziah’s Destruction (22:7–9)

6. The Reign of Athaliah (22:10–23:15)

a. Athaliah’s Bid for Power (22:10–12)

b. Plan to Overthrow Athaliah and Establish Joash as King (23:1–11)

c. Death of Athaliah (23:12–15)

F. Three Who Were "Mixed": Joash, Amaziah, Uzziah (23:16–26:23)

1. Reign of Joash (23:16–24:27)

a. Early Reforms of Joash by Jehoiada (23:16–21)

b. Reign of Joash Under the Influence of Jehoiada (24:1–16)

c. Reign of Joash after the Death of Jehoiada (24:17–22)

d. The Lord’s Judgment upon Joash: Defeat and Disease (24:23–27)

2. The Reign of Amaziah (25:1–28)

a. Amaziah’s Reign Began with an Act of Reprisal (25:1–4)

b. Amaziah’s Battle with the Sons of Seir (Edom) (25:5–13)

c. Amaziah’s Idolatry (25:14–16)

d. Amaziah Defeated by Joash of Israel (25:17–24)

e. Amaziah’s End (25:25–28)

3. The Reign of Uzziah (26:1–23)

a. Uzziah’s Faithfulness (26:1–5)

b. Uzziah’s Successes (26:6–15)

c. Uzziah’s Pride and Fall (26:16–21)

d. Uzziah’s End (26:22–23)

G. Six Kings Alternate between "Good" and "Bad" (27:1–35:27)

1. Good: Jotham (27:1–9)

2. Bad: Ahaz (28:1–27)

a. Ahaz’s Evil Exposed (28:1–4)

b. Ahaz Defeated in Battle (28:5–7)

c. Captives Experienced Mercy (28:8–15)

d. Ahaz’s Disastrous Alliance with Assyria (28:16–21)

e. Ahaz’s Evil Expanded (28:22–25)

f. Ahaz’s End (28:26–27)

3. Excellent: Hezekiah (29:1–32:33)

a. Hezekiah’s Revival (29:1–31:21)

(1) Hezekiah Reopened, Consecrated the Temple (29:1–19)

(2) Hezekiah Restored the Temple Worship (29:20–36)

(3) Hezekiah Revived the Celebration of Passover (30:1–27)

(4) Hezekiah Reinstituted Tithes and Offerings (31:1–21)

b. Hezekiah’s Victory over Assyria (32:1–23)

(1) Hezekiah Countered Sennacherib’s Invasion (32:1–8)

(2) Hezekiah’s Victory over Sennacherib (32:9–23)

c. Hezekiah’s Last Days (32:24–33)

(1) Hezekiah’s Illness and Pride (32:24–26)

(2) Hezekiah’s Wealth and Pride (32:27–31)

(3) Hezekiah’s End (32:32–33)

4. Bad, but Repentant: Manasseh (33:1–20)

a. Manasseh’s Incredible Evil (33:1–9)

b. Manasseh’s Humiliating Captivity (33:10–11)

c. Manasseh’s Marvelous Repentance (33:12–13a, 18–19)

d. Manasseh’s Attempted Revival (33:13b–17, 20)

5. Bad: Amon (33:21–25)

6. Very Good: Josiah (34:1–35:27)

a. Josiah’s Reign—Seeking God, Purging Idolatry (34:1–7)

b. Revival Year: Repairing Temple, Rediscovering Law, Reviving Passover (34:8–35:19)

(1) Repairing the Temple (34:8–13)

(2) Rediscovering the Law (34:14–33)

(3) Revival of Passover (35:1–19)

c. Josiah’s Tragic Death (35:20–27)

(1) Pharaoh Neco, on His Way to War, Warned Josiah to Not Interfere (35:20–21)

(2) Josiah Engaged Neco in Battle, Was Mortally Wounded (35:22–24c)

(3) Judah Mourned for Josiah (35:24d–25)

(4) Josiah’s Reign Summarized (35:26–27)

H. Sons of Josiah (Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, Zedekiah) (36:1–16)

1. Joahaz (36:1–4)

2. Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin (36:5–10)

3. Zedekiah (36:11–14)

4. Summary: Prophets Sent and Rejected (36:15–16)

I. The Captivity and the Decree of Cyrus (36:17–23)

1. The Captivity: Description and Rationale (36:17–21)

a. Description (36:17–20)

b. Rationale (36:21)

2. The Decree of Cyrus (36:22–23)

COMMENTARY ON 2 CHRONICLES

III. History of Solomon (1Ch 29:22b–25; 2Ch 1:1–9:31)

The books of 1 and 2 Chronicles were originally one work (see Introduction to 1 Chronicles), and 2 Chronicles picks up immediately where 1 Chronicles concluded. The last few chapters of 1 Chronicles centered on David’s preparations for building the temple. The first chapters of 2 Chronicles deal with Solomon’s work to finish the preparations, to actually build the temple, and to dedicate it. In a way "the reigns of the two kings are really a single unit" (Selman, 2 Chronicles, 285). In the Chronicler’s narrative, both David and Solomon are focused on building the temple, and this singular focus is the outworking of and response to the Davidic covenant (1Ch 17; 2Sm 7; Ps 89).

The Lord’s promise to build a house (dynasty) for David foresaw that Solomon would build "a house to the name of the Lord" (see 1Ch 22:6–16; 28:6–7). By devoting themselves to the building of the temple, David in preparation and Solomon in construction, both kings affirmed their confidence and faith in the promise of God (the Davidic covenant) to build a house (dynasty) for David. For the Chronicler, the postexilic second temple had virtually the same significance—that if the new temple were to be raised up (after the exile) in the same place that David’s/Solomon’s temple was built, it would also affirm that the Lord had not forgotten His unconditional and everlasting promise to build a house for David. It would further assure that the Chronicler’s generation would again enjoy the promise and the presence of the Lord.

David’s house was not limited to the kings who followed Solomon, but would culminate in One who would "be a Son" to the Lord and occupy David’s throne "forever." That One of course is Jesus Christ. In a way, the concern for the temple, as the concrete and visible embodiment of the Davidic covenant, both in the days of David and Solomon and in the days of the Chronicler, was the evidence of faith in the messianic aspect of the Davidic promise. In short, the temple was the focus of David and Solomon, and the Chronicler highlighted that focus in his history, because they had faith in all of God’s promises. They were looking forward to the ultimate fulfillment of those promises by the Greater Son of David.

In the history of the kings after Solomon, the Chronicler differentiated the "good kings" by their concern for the temple and the purity of its services and the "bad kings" by their lack of concern for the temple and the introduction of false, idolatrous worship there. Here again, the kings’ focus on the temple was the tangible expression of trust in the Lord and the promises of God.

With that focus in view, as with the life and kingship of David, the Chronicler did not include in his narrative several events from the reign of Solomon. In particular, he passed over the succession struggles (1Kg 1 and 2) and simplified the accounts about Solomon’s power, wealth, and wisdom (compare 1Kg 3:16–28; 4:1–34 to 2Ch 1:14–17). He also left out the later accounts of Solomon’s building of his own palace (1Kg 7:1–12) and the narrative about Solomon’s many wives and how they led him away from complete devotion to the Lord (1Kg 11:1–40). As far as the Chronicler was concerned, "Whatever his weaknesses, Solomon had true greatness, and that greatness was seen in his devotion to the worship of God at the temple" (Sailhamer, First and Second Chronicles, 69). For the postexilic community, "it was Solomon’s temple that captured their greatest concern" (Payne, "2 Chronicles," 443).

Of the nine chapters in 2 Chronicles that concern Solomon, only three (chaps. 1; 8, and 9) deal directly with him and his reign while the other six deal with his preparations for the temple (chap. 2), the building and furnishing of the temple (chaps. 3 and 4), and the dedication of the temple (chaps. 5; 6, and 7).

A. Solomon Made King (1Ch 29:22b–25)

1Ch 29:22b–25. The note that this was the second time Solomon had been made king was most likely meant to indicate that this was a public ceremony that took place after the private ceremony (cf. 1Kg 1:35–39). As with the accession of David (cf. 1Ch 11:1–3) the emphasis here is on the unity of all Israel (vv. 23, 25). Here too all the officials and the mighty men (v. 24; cf. 1Ch 11:1–3, 10) were solidly behind Solomon. This unity was the result of the Lord’s gift to Solomon of honor and royal majesty (v. 25) in the sight of all Israel. The loss of David was mitigated by the Lord’s continued involvement with and approval of Solomon and His faithfulness to His promise.

B. Solomon Consolidated His Regnancy (2Ch 1:1–17)

1. Solomon Secured His Kingdom; the Lord Was with Him (1:1)

1:1. The theme of the Lord’s continued endorsement and approval of Solomon opens the narrative in 2 Chronicles. The notes that the Lord his God was with him and exalted him greatly (2Ch 1:1) are not pious fillers intended to give a sanctimonious patina to the realpolitik behind Solomon’s accession to the throne of David. This was in reality the key to Solomon’s success—his regency achieved security and stability because the Lord was with him.

2. Solomon Addressed All Israel (1:2–6)

1:2–3. The Chronicler’s account of Solomon, centering on the temple, began with Solomon assembling all Israel in the form of the nation’s officials (v. 2) at the tabernacle in Gibeon (v. 3; for the names of, and terms used to identify, the tent of meeting see commentary on Ex 25:1–5). This showed Solomon’s sensitivity and care as he proceeded to move the locus of the nation’s worship to Jerusalem. David had attempted to move the ark without such care, and the result was the tragic death of Uzzah (2Sm 6:1–11; 1Ch 13:5–14). Solomon will proceed with all due diligence.

1:4–6. The main point of the account is to show that Solomon sought the Lord. Even with all the indications of the approval and blessing of the Lord, Solomon was rightly careful to exhibit humility and deference to the institutions that have served the nation up to this point (v. 3). This was indicated by his care to seek out the bronze altar made by Bezalel, the Spirit-enabled artisan (Ex 31:1–11; 38:1–2), and to offer sacrifices upon it (2Ch 1:5–6). Those kings who did not seek the Lord and who ignored the divinely ordained institutions (temple, priesthood) found their reigns troubled and their legacies shamed. The Chronicler was concerned to teach his generation that God’s blessings depended on respecting the ancient divine institutions. By coming to Gibeon to sacrifice and pray, "Solomon shows himself to be suitably qualified to build a temple which will be a ‘temple for sacrifices’ (2 Ch. 7:12; cf. 2:6) and a ‘house of prayer’ (Is. 56:7; cf. 2 Ch. 6:40; 7:14, etc.)" (Selman, 2 Chronicles, 289).

3. Solomon Asked for Wisdom (1:7–13)

1:7. In one of the most famous conversations in Scripture, Solomon’s careful and humble seeking was rewarded by an appearance and offer from God. In a dream (1Kg 3:5) God took the initiative and made an incredible offer, yet it was an offer that tested Solomon’s heart: Ask what I shall give you (2Ch 1:7).

1:8–9. Solomon’s reply began with the recognition that God had already been faithful to His promises: First, the Lord had shown great lovingkindness (1:8; chesed, a word that emphasizes God’s characteristic of "loyal love" to those with whom He is in a covenant relationship [Dt 7:9, 12]). Moreover, God’s "loyal love" is frequently linked with His forgiveness and mercy (Ex 34:6–7; Ps 103:4) to David. Second, He had kept His promise to Solomon and made him king (2Ch 1:8b–9a). Not only had the Lord been faithful to the Davidic covenant promises, Solomon acknowledged that He also had been faithful to the Abrahamic covenant promises as well in that He had been made … king over a people as numerous as the dust of the earth (v. 9b; cf. Gn 13:16; 28:14; cf. Nm 23:10). The reminder that God had fulfilled His promises, that He had been faithful to His ancient covenants, would have been a tremendous encouragement to the Chronicler’s generation (and should be an encouragement to God’s people in any dispensation).

1:10. Solomon’s request for wisdom and knowledge (v. 10) was a humble acknowledgment of what David had affirmed about his youth and inexperience (1Ch 22:5; 29:1). "Wisdom and understanding" often appear in combination (cf. Pr 2:2; 3:13, 19; 4:5). The Hebrew notion of "wisdom" (hokmah) is something like "skill," even artistic ability (cf. Ex 31:1–3). The notion of "knowledge" is often simply "common, or practical sense" (derived from "obvious and observable facts") applied in a particular situation or occupation (e.g., the craftsmen who worked on the tabernacle, Ex 12:1–3; 35:1). Here Solomon was asking for "skill" and "practical competence" for leadership. He wanted to identify with the people—that I may go out and come in before this people (v. 10) that he might effectively rule this great people. Sailhamer suggests that the Chronicler and the author of the parallel passage in 1Kg 3:6–9 both had in view "the requirement of the king in Deuteronomy 17:18–20. The king was to know the law (Torah) of God and was to learn the fear of God and observe the will of God expressed in the law (Torah)" (Sailhamer, First and Second Chronicles, 70).

1:11–13. God responded to this humble and appropriate request by listing all the things for which Solomon could have asked, had he been selfishly motivated—riches, wealth, honor, revenge on enemies, long life (v. 11). The Lord was pleased with Solomon’s request for wisdom and knowledge (noted twice by the Lord). Therefore, He not only granted the request, He went beyond it to grant Solomon the riches and wealth that he had not requested. The Chronicler was not teaching the reader that the way to riches and wealth is to ask surreptitiously for more noble things like wisdom and spiritual understanding, hoping God will grant the lesser blessings as well. Rather, the point of these added blessings was to show that the Lord was pleased by Solomon’s request for wisdom and understanding, because this indicated that Solomon’s overarching desire was to be a good king. Solomon sought to honor God first and all the other things were added to him by God’s goodness and grace (cf. Mt 6:33). Based upon the motive behind Solomon’s request, God expected that the riches and wealth would not be selfishly used and abused but would also contribute to Solomon being a good king.

4. Solomon’s Wealth (1:14–17)

1:14–17. Solomon’s wealth was noted, and this demonstrated the fulfillment of God’s answer to his request and gave tangible evidence that Solomon was "exalted greatly" (cf. 1Ch 29:25; 2Ch 1:1). The mention of chariots and horsemen (v. 14) is made without comment or explanation even though Dt 17:16 prohibited the kings of Israel from multiplying horses. The point of the prohibition was to keep the king from relying on his temporal power (cf. Zch 4:6). Apparently, at the outset of his regency Solomon was not relying on his chariots and horses, as they were more of a commodity to be bought and sold. He imported horses from Egypt and Kue (a region in Turkey) and exported them to the Hittites and the Arameans (v. 17).

C. Solomon’s Preparations for the Temple (2:1–18)

David had made extensive preparations to build the temple (cf. 1Ch 22:1–5), centering on the enlistment of foreign leaders and workers (cf. 1Ch 22:2). The point is that Solomon had the good will and strong international relations that allowed him to concentrate on the temple as well as access to the skilled labor and engineering expertise necessary to accomplish the task. For the Chronicler the issue of maintaining good relations with other peoples and nations would be timely. The lesson was, to accomplish the Lord’s work, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men" (Rm 12:18).

1. Attention Turned to the Temple (2:1)

2:1. In the Chronicler’s view the most important feature of Solomon’s reign was his temple-building program, and he turned to that quickly in 2:1. He reiterated that the temple was to be a house for the name of the Lord (v. 1; cf. 1Ch 22:6, 19). A person’s name stood for the whole person. The temple would be a place to "call on the name of the Lord" (cf. 1Kg 8:29; cf. Dt 12:11). Solomon’s palace received a brief mention (cf. 1Kg 7), but the focus of the Chronicler remained on the temple.

2. The Workers (2:2, 17–18)

2:2, 17–18. The Chronicler noted the skilled foreign workers David had gathered (cf. 1Ch 22:2). Solomon also enlisted the aliens who were in the land of Israel (2Ch 2:17) for the unskilled labor necessary to do such work as carry loads and quarry stones (vv. 2, 18; this information began and ended the chapter). Such a massive undertaking as the temple would require large numbers of such workers, who were probably conscripted.

3. Solomon Communicated with Huram King of Tyre (2:3–16)

The inclusion of the correspondence between Solomon and Huram is an example of the care with which the Chronicler consulted and employed his sources.

2:3–10. Solomon’s main "supplier" for the temple was Huram King of Tyre (called "Hiram" in the parallel account in 1Kg 5). Tyre was a major port city on the Mediterranean coast of Lebanon, about 20 miles south of Sidon and 23 miles north of Acre. It was an important mercantile location receiving and sending goods from all over the western Mediterranean basin as well as exporting the goods—mainly lumber and cedars—of Lebanon. Huram was Phoenician—a people mostly noted for their maritime prowess—and he had built his kingdom by trade mainly on the sea. Solomon’s written communication with Huram was predicated on the friendship David established (2Ch 2:3). Solomon invoked previous treaty arrangements to encourage Huram to accede to the requests he was about to make. This letter was intended to accomplish three main goals: first, it was a request for materials, specifically timber (vv. 8–9), along with a negotiated price (v. 10; the cedars of Lebanon were world famous for their size and quality). Second, it was a request for skilled workers to work along with the skilled men … in Judah and Jerusalem (v. 7). Third, it was preeminently an apologetic, a theological justification for building the temple (vv. 4–6). The temple, again identified as a house for the name of the Lord (v. 4), was to be a place of worship, atonement and celebration of the appointed feasts of the Lord our God (v. 4). Accordingly, in the light of these exalted purposes and owing to the superlative greatness of our God than all the gods, this house will be great (v. 5). Here, however, Solomon introduced a note he sounded again at the completion of the construction of the temple: as great as this temple will be, it will not be big enough to contain Him, indeed, the heavens and the highest heavens cannot contain Him (v. 6). This was not merely an affirmation of the immensity of God, or of His omnipresence. Solomon’s focus was on the transcendence of God—the quality of God that puts Him beyond physical or temporal limitations, that puts Him beyond human comprehension. In effect, Solomon testified to Huram that the Lord was (and is) the only sovereign God.

2:11–12. Huram’s reply to Solomon was more detailed in 2Ch 2 than the parallel in 1Kg 5:7–9. In this letter Huram responded to each point in Solomon’s letter: first, he acknowledged in a blessing that the Lord, the God of Israel is the creator of heaven and earth (2Ch 2:12) and that it was this same Lord who loves His people and made Solomon king (v. 11). This need not be taken to indicate that Huram was a believer. Often the professions of truth about God from the mouths of unbelievers are recorded (2Ch 36:23; Ezr 1:2; 5:11–12; 6:10; Jr 10:11–12; Acts 4:24; 14:15; 17:24–26) to emphasize to the discerning believer that God has not left Himself without a witness to the whole world (cf. Rm 1:20).

2:13–16. Huram diplomatically praised Solomon (v. 13) and proceeded to answer his requests. The man to be sent by Huram was Huram-abi, a man especially qualified to assist in building the temple. He was not only uniquely skilled but he also was partly of Israelite ancestry. According to 1Kg 7:14, his mother was "from the tribe of Naphtali," whereas here in 2Ch 2:14a she was identified as a Danite woman. She was probably from the tribe of Naphtali by descent and from the area where the tribe of Dan settled (cf. Jdg 18). Finally, Huram promised delivery of the timbers (2Ch 2:16) upon receipt of the payment for them (v. 15). The mention of the port of Joppa (v. 16) indicated that this rather unpromising seaport had been sufficiently upgraded by Solomon to handle such large shipments.

D. Solomon Built and Furnished the Temple (3:1–4:22)

1. The Temple Plan (3:1–17)

Given the Chronicler’s emphasis on the temple and the record of the many preparations for construction, it is "a little surprising" that the Chronicler’s "account of the temple’s construction is actually briefer than in Kings. Seventy-seven verses in 1Kg 6–7 (omitting the account of the royal palace, 7:1–12) have been condensed into 40 verses in 2Ch 3:1–5:1" (Selman, 2 Chronicles, 303). By devoting more of his narrative to the dedication of the temple (see chaps. 5–7) than to its construction, the Chronicler indicated that its purpose was more important than its impressive size or spectacular furnishings. This would have been an encouragement to the generation of the Chronicler in their evaluation of the second temple (see Ezr 3:8–13; 6:16), a less impressive structure in appearance than Solomon’s.

3:1. The note that Solomon began to build the temple (3:1) is climactic. The planning and preparation were over—the construction had begun. The Chronicler located the site of the temple with three increasingly specific designations—Jerusalem … Mount Moriah … threshing floor of Ornan (3:1). This served to remind the reader of the historically climactic events (cf. 1Ch 11:4–9; Gn 22:2—the sacrifice of Isaac; 1Ch 21:18) that took place at this specific spot and of God’s providential choice of this location. This was a place of substitutionary sacrifice (cf. Gn 22:13–14; 1 Ch 21:26, 28) and where God had revealed Himself to two special servants who had received covenant promises from Him—Abraham and David. The construction began in 966 BC (Payne, "2 Chronicles," 450).

3:2–9. The project began on the second day in the second month (that is, sometime in the spring [April/May]; cf. 1Kg 6:1, 37) of the fourth year of Solomon’s reign (2Ch 3:2). It was completed "in the eleventh year … the eighth month" (1Kg 6:38; cf. 2Ch 5:3; that is, sometime in the fall [Oct/Nov]). Thus the temple took seven and a half years to finish. (For exact dates see Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, 51–52.) The account of the temple in 2Ch 3 is not a "blueprint" so much as a guided tour of the building. Beginning with the foundations (v. 3), the Chronicler recorded the description and dimensions of the building entrance, the porch (v. 4), the main room (vv. 5–7) corresponding to the holy place of the tabernacle, and the room of the holy of holies (vv. 8–9). The amount of gold used in this part of the temple is estimated at 23 tons (cf. Payne, "2 Chronicles," 451). The location of Parvaim (v. 6) is uncertain. (This is the only reference to this geographical location in the Bible, and the term is not used in any other known literature, except for commentaries on this passage.) The "cubit" (’ammah) was by no means a standard length. It was generally the distance from a man’s elbow to the fingertips (cf. Dt 3:11). There were Egyptian cubits, Babylonian cubits, and something called "Royal" cubit (Ezk 40:5)—these varied from about 17.5 or 17.6 inches to 20.6 or more inches. One talent was about 75 pounds, and one shekel was between two-fifths and one-half an ounce.

3:10–17. The Chronicler noted three unique features of the temple. First there were the two sculptured cherubim inside the holy of holies that covered the ark of the covenant, essentially filling the space above the ark (vv. 10–13; see comments on 1 Ch 28:18). Cherubim were angel-like creatures whose presence symbolized the nearness of the transcendent. The second feature noted was the multicolored veil that separated the holy of holies from the holy place (cf. Ex 26:31–35). It was a reminder of the awesome presence of God, and its placement was a constant reminder that while God was indeed with them (see notes on 2 Ch 6:11–14) yet none could approach Him without atonement. While the high priest entered the holy of holies every year on the Day of Atonement (see the commentary on Lv 16), only the sacrificial, substitutionary death of Christ would make a final way "through the veil" (cf. Heb 10:20).

The third unique feature of the temple, the two pillars (2Ch 3:15), were apparently highly ornamented, free standing (non-supporting), cast bronze pillars at the entrance of the temple. The note that they were 35 cubits high is certainly wrong and probably a result of a copyist’s error (see 1Kg 7:15, specifying their height as 12 cubits). (This admission should not weaken the readers’ confidence in the Bible’s inerrancy since the claim of inerrancy is made only for the original writings, not for the many copies and manuscripts; cf. Paul D. Feinberg, "Bible, Inerrancy and Infallibility of," in Evangelical Dictionary of the Bible, ed. Walter A. Elwell [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1984, 2001], 156–59.) The purpose was mainly to impress worshipers with the grandeur of the edifice. The significance of the names—the one on the right Jachin (he establishes) and the one on the left Boaz (in strength) (2Ch 3:17) is debated but may have to do with Hebrew terms of praise, and taken together they form a sentence: "He (God) establishes in strength."

The view that "Israel’s small temple was to be understood to be a microcosm of the entire heaven and earth" (G. K Beale, The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism [Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008], 164; cf. Beale, The Temple and the Church’s Mission [Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2004] and John H. Walton, The Lost World of Genesis One [Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2009]) is based on certain premises about the nature and interpretation of the biblical text, especially Gn 1. Since the temple, and tabernacle before it, were intended to be suitable structures for the "cosmic presence" of the Lord, it may very well be that certain elements and aspects of those structures reflected the grand structure of the cosmos itself. However, this need not be taken to mean that the text of Gn 1 cannot be understood in a literal way (see commentary on Gn 1) or that this exhausts the tangible and practical use, the meaning and significance of the temple (and tabernacle) by the nation of Israel (historically)—or that there are no typico-prophetic elements of these structures (pointing to the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ on the cross) or that there will not be a literal rebuilding of the temple in the future (see Ezk 40–48).

2. The Furnishings (4:1–22)

4:1–22. The description of the temple furnishings was intended to indicate that Solomon was meticulous in following the plan for the temple delivered to him by David (see 1Ch 28:11–19). The pattern or floor plan of the temple followed that of the tabernacle, indicating the continuity of the ancient institutions with the new temple. The bronze altar (2Ch 4:1) of course, meant that approach to the Lord required atonement, as the cast metal sea (v. 2), a larger version of the laver (cf. Ex 30:17–21), indicated the need for cleansing. This feature of the temple will, in the millennial temple, be replaced with flowing waters (Ezk 47:1–12). The ten basins (2Ch 4:6) were not found in the tabernacle. The ten golden lampstands (v. 7) took the place of the single lampstand, and the ten tables (v. 8) for the showbread (bread of the Presence, v. 19) took the place of the single table of the tabernacle. These features were meant to indicate the larger size of the temple to accommodate the larger nation of Solomon’s day. The lamps and the bread were symbols of the presence of God. The courts are mentioned (v. 9) as the place where the priests served, and the implements and utensils listed in vv. 11–22a were their tools. Bronze objects are listed in vv. 11–18, and golden objects are listed in vv. 19–22a. The priests’ function was mainly intercessory by means of sacrifice and prayer. The sacred space and the preciousness of their tools indicated the supreme importance of their service for the nation. The golden doors of the temple completed the picture of a magnificent structure that was meant to focus the worshiper on the greatness and holiness of the Lord.

E. Dedication of the Temple (5:1–7:22)

5:1a. The dedication of the temple held much more interest for the Chronicler than did the details of construction. Therefore, he devoted three chapters to this most noteworthy event. The temple was begun in 966 BC and was completed in 959 BC, taking over seven years to complete (see 1Kg 6:1, 38). All of that was condensed to one verse—Thus all the work that Solomon performed for the house of the Lord was finished (2Ch 5:1a). By contrast the Chronicler devoted three chapters to the days (see 2Ch 7:8–9) of dedication. The actual celebration was delayed several months until "the feast that is in the seventh month" (5:3, September/ October 959 BC) so that the dedication might correspond to the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement (although Chronicles makes no mention of this), and the Feast of Booths (see Payne, "2 Chronicles," 4:459)

1. The Ark and the Glory of God (5:1b–14)

The final act of furnishing the temple was also the first act of dedication of the temple. The theme that ties these verses together is "the presence of the Lord." Both the ark and the glory indicate the presence of the Lord in the house that was built for the name of the Lord.

Solomon’s Temple

Adapted from The New Moody Atlas of the Bible. Copyright © 2009 The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago.

a. The Ark Comes to the Temple (5:1b–10)

5:1b. Solomon’s first act of dedication of the temple was to bring the things that David his father had dedicated and the ark of the covenant to the temple.

5:2–3, 6. With the note that Solomon assembled the leaders of the nation to Jerusalem (v. 2a), the Chronicler focused on the theme of unity once again. This assembly effectively brought all the men of Israel (v. 3) together around the symbol of national pride and accord. In the rest of the narrative in Chronicles this type of national assembly was meant to indicate a time of revival of faith and fidelity to the Lord (cf. 2Ch 20:5–19; 30:13–27; 34:29–33). The many sacrifices offered by the king and all the congregation of Israel (v. 6) also served to bring a sense of unity to the entire proceeding.

5:4–5. The two accounts of David’s attempt to move the ark (one ending in tragedy, 1Ch 13:1–14; and one ending in success, 1Ch 15:1–28) as well as the instructions in the law for transporting the ark (cf. Nm 4:15) are the historical and prescriptive backgrounds for the account recorded here. Solemn respect mixed with nearly breathless anticipation can be sensed in the description of the account of the transportation of the ark to the temple. That the priests involved were specially selected (not using the usual process) and consecrated for this task (see 5:11b) indicates the care taken in moving the ark.

Apparently the priests and Levites went to the tent where David had placed the ark (cf. 1Ch 16:1) and the tent of meeting (2Ch 5:5a; cf. 1:3) in Gibeon and brought all the holy utensils (v. 5b) to the temple, effectively uniting the ancient tabernacle with the new temple. It was important that the Chronicler demonstrate to his generation that the ancient institutions were not lost but preserved, and could be revived, in the rebuilt temple of their day.

5:7–10. The Chronicler related the placement of the ark with great precision, conveying the care that had been taken in the actual event. Four aspects of the ark are noted: its location, the inner sanctuary … the holy of holies (v. 7); its surroundings, the cherubim (vv. 7b–8; cf. 1Ch 28:18; 2Ch 3:10–13); its means of transport, the poles (5:9); and its contents, the two tablets which Moses put there (5:10). Payne notes, "the golden pot of manna (Ex 16:32–34) and Aaron’s rod that budded (Nm 17:10–11; Heb 9:4) must have been lost" at some time over the years (Payne, "2 Chronicles," 460).

b. The Glory of God Comes to the Temple (5:11–14)

5:11–14. The Lord’s presence symbolized by the ark now received an even more dramatic confirmation. As the priests (the ones specially selected and consecrated) who had transported the ark were exiting the holy place, as the singers were singing, the musicians playing—as the celebration was reaching a crescendo—then the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud (v. 13d), the Shekinah (divine presence). The dramatic event brought the ministry of the priests to a standstill for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God (v. 14). This was an unmistakable sign—as the Lord had come into the tabernacle in Moses’ day (cf. Ex 40:34–38), so He had now graced Solomon’s temple with His awesome presence. This "cloud" was a vivid and inimitable manifestation of God’s presence (cf. Ex 13:21–22; Mt 17:5; Ac 1:9). Here it served as confirmation of the Lord’s acceptance of and pleasure in this temple. (He will provide the same confirmation for the millennial temple according to Ezk 43:1–5.)

The praise of the priests—His lovingkindness (chesed) is everlasting (v. 13b)—recalls God’s covenant loyalty (chesed, cf. 1:7–13 and comments there) to Solomon (see 1Ch 17:13) and so gives the credit for this completed temple to Him.

2. Solomon’s Dedicatory Speech (6:1–11)

In recording the speech and prayer of Solomon, the Chronicler seemed particularly interested in relating to the reader the posture and orientation of the king and the assembly. His dedicatory verse (6:1–2) was apparently addressed toward the temple. His blessing and speech were delivered facing the standing assembly (6:3). For his prayer he began standing "before the altar" (v. 12) on a specially constructed bronze platform (v. 13; a detail not included in 1Kg 8:22–23) and then knelt and "spread out his hands" (vv. 12, 13c). These details were meant to convey the depth of dignity and solemnity of this moment. The presence of God was awe-inspiring, and the form of worship was vital to communicating the assembly’s feelings of admiration, reverence, and respect. Solomon (and the Chronicler) knew that "posture in worship" could contribute to (or detract from) the depth, weight, and authenticity of worship.

a. Dedicatory Verse (6:1–2)

6:1–2. This "dedicatory verse" was uttered in response to the dramatic and climactic event of the glory of God filling the temple in the form of a cloud (cf. 5:13d). The image of a thick cloud (6:1) as the indication of God’s presence is probably drawn from Moses’ experience on Mount Sinai (Ex 20:21; cf. 2Sm 22:7–8; Ps 97:2). Now that the Lord, in the manifestation of this cloud, had come to the lofty house (2Ch 6:2a) Solomon had built, He demonstrated His approval of it and His intention to make it a place for His dwelling forever (v. 2).

b. Dedicatory Address (6:3–11)

6:3–4a. Solomon maintained the solemnity of the service by blessing the assembly and blessing the Lord, the God of Israel (v. 4). These blessings were not "pious words" but deeply felt petitions for joy and happiness (a beatitude) for the assembly and honor and thanksgiving toward the Lord.

6:4b–6. This address began with a series of remembrances of the Lord’s promises and fulfillments. He spoke to David (v. 4b; cf. 1Ch 17:3–14), and He fulfilled it with His hands (2Ch 6:4c; that is, directly and literally). He spoke to Abraham and Moses (cf. Gn 15:13–14; Ex 3:7–10), and He fulfilled it when He brought His people from the land of Egypt (2Ch 6:5a). Again, He spoke to David and chose Jerusalem (vv. 5b–6a; cf. 1Ch 11:4ff.; 17:5; cf. 2Ch 12:13; Zch 1:17; 8:3), and he chose David (2Ch 6:6b; 1Ch 28:4; cf. 1 Ch 17:23, 27; cf. 1Sm 16:1–13). This list would have encouraged Solomon’s audience and the Chronicler’s readers to remember that the Lord’s promises are certain (cf. Ps 105:1–8; Rm 11:29).

6:7–11. Solomon moved to the specific promise God made regarding the construction of the temple and its subsequent fulfillment. David had desired to build a house for the name of the Lord, and while this was commendable it was denied to him (vv. 7–9; cf. 1Ch 28:2–3). Rather, the honor for this task was granted to David’s son (2Ch 6:9). This too the Lord has fulfilled (v. 10). Four aspects of Solomon’s experience were specifically mentioned: first, he had risen in the place of my father David; second, he sat on the throne of Israel; third, he had built the house for the name of the Lord; and fourth, he had successfully set the ark of the covenant in the proper place. Each of these was the fulfillment of His Word which He spoke (v. 10). Besides the themes of promise and fulfillment, two other themes are touched upon: first, the Lord accomplished the fulfillment actively—by His "mouth" and His "hands" (6:4; cf. 6:15b) by His word which He spoke (v. 10). Second, those whom He uses to accomplish His work must be ready to serve in whatever manner He chooses—David not to build but to prepare—Solomon to build and to do all according to His Word. While Solomon considered himself to be the fulfillment of the promises regarding David’s ultimate son (v. 10, I have risen in the place of my father David and sit on the throne of Israel … and have built the house), the Chronicler’s readers would know from Israel’s history that Solomon’s failures disqualified him from being the Son of David, the Messiah (cf. 1Kg 11:1–13; see the comments on Mt 1:1).

3. Solomon’s Dedicatory Prayer (6:12–42)

6:12–13. Solomon’s prayer of dedication is one of the great prayers of the Bible. As noted, the solemnity and dignity of the moment were conveyed through Solomon’s posture and attitude in prayer—he knelt on his knees (v. 13) indicating his humility before God and his reverence for God. The prayer itself is a model of praise and petition.

a. Prayer of Acknowledgment (6:14–15, 18)

6:14–15, 18. Solomon praised the Lord, the God of Israel (v. 14a) by acknowledging His transcendent uniqueness—there is no god like You in heaven or on earth (v. 14a)—His immensity—Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You (v. 18), His covenant keeping "loyal love" ("lovingkindness," chesed, see comments on 1:7–13), and again, His promise fulfilled to David.

b. Prayer of Petition (6:16–17, 19–21)

6:16–17. Solomon made three petitions: first, he appealed to the Lord to keep … that which You have promised (v. 16), to let Your word be confirmed which You have spoken (v. 17). These were not expressions of doubt about whether the Lord would keep His Word. Solomon knew that God works through the prayers of His people to accomplish what He has decreed. Solomon was praying for God’s promise to be kept, even as he prayed with God’s promise as his assurance. He was in effect expressing his confidence in that promise.

6:19–21. Second, Solomon prayed for the Lord to have regard (v. 19a) to this prayer, to listen to the cry, to the prayer, to the supplications (vv. 19b, 21), to keep an open eye (v. 20a; cf. 6:40), to hear when prayers are made toward this house (i.e. the place of God’s presence; v. 20). Again, these do not indicate that the Lord needed to be cajoled or prodded into hearing the prayers of His people. The key appears in the final expression in v. 21—hear and forgive. Solomon knew that he and the nation had access to God in prayer solely on the basis of God’s grace. These are all pleas for God to be gracious—pleas from a sinner asking God to be forgiving and open to hearing the prayers of the penitent. Indeed, the prayers are made toward this house, this place of atonement for sin. They are the pleas of the unworthy to a gracious God to be forgiving in the light of the atonement to be accomplished in this temple. The theological idea behind these pleas is that the presence of the Lord in the temple was not merely "ceremonial" but that He would be taking an active role in the life of the nation and the experiences of the individual members of the community.

c. Prayer Regarding Various Situations (6:22–39)

Solomon next listed various circumstances for these pleas for a gracious hearing from God that might apply most. Selman notes, "Each paragraph follows the same pattern: (1) a situation of need, usually involving sin; (2) temple-based prayer and confession; (3) request for God to hear; (4) restoration and forgiveness" (Selman, 2 Chronicles, 328).

6:22–39. Times when the Lord’s active presence should be invoked include: (1) in the circumstance of those who take oaths, that the Lord may punish the wicked who break the oath and justify the righteous who keep the oath (vv. 22–23); (2) in the event of defeat by an enemy of the nation, that upon confession of the underlying sin He restore the nation to the land of promise (vv. 24–25); (3) in the event of drought (like a defeat it was a sign of God’s chastisement for the nation’s sin), that upon confession He forgive the sin and teach them the good way and send rain on Your land (vv. 26–27); (4) in the events of famine … pestilence … sickness when individuals or the nation—any man or by all Your people Israel—make supplication and pray, that He render to each according to all his ways and according to the sincerity of his heart (vv. 28–31); (5) in the case of foreigners, that when such a one who recognizes the truth of who the Lord is and His power, that He hear and answer them, so that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name, and fear You and thereby testify that the temple is indeed the house that is called by Your name (v. 33); (6) in the case of a war of conquest, whatever way You shall send them, that upon their prayers they be given success (vv. 34–35); (7) in the event of captivity, something only possible because of their sin, that when they take thought of the land, upon their repentance and confession, their return to You with all their heart and with all their soul, and their prayer toward their land and the city of the Lord’s promise and choosing, He hear, and forgive, and restore them (vv. 36–39).

d. Final Appeal (6:40–42)

6:40–42. Solomon’s confidence that the Lord would be attentive to this and all such prayers was predicated on the Lord’s presence in this place—the temple. He concluded his prayer with a call for the Lord to take up Your resting place, and one final plea that He not turn away (vv. 41, 42).

4. Fire and the Glory of the Lord (7:1–3)

7:1–3. The Lord dramatically answered Solomon’s prayer by sending down fire … from heaven to consume the burnt offering and the sacrifices and once again the glory of the Lord filled the house (v. 1). This was an unmistakable confirmation that the Lord had accepted the temple as His house and that He would deal with His people according to the ways Solomon had just petitioned Him. The reaction of the priests and people was fear—they bowed down in worship and praise (v. 3).

5. Sacrifices and Festival (7:4–11)

7:4–11. The assembly continued with sacrifices (vv. 4–5), music (v. 6), more offerings (v. 7), and celebration of the Feast of Booths (vv. 8–9). "Solomon had delayed the temple’s dedication for a number of months (cf. 5:3) so that this might be celebrated along with the feast of Booths, when at the latter season all Israel would be coming in pilgrimage to Jerusalem (Ex 23:16–17" (Payne, "1 Chronicles," 464). Then Solomon dismissed the people rejoicing and happy (v. 10). The key to this rejoicing and celebration was the understanding of the people that the temple and all the blessings they were enjoying were grounded in the truth that His lovingkindness ("loyal love," chesed, see definition 1:7–13) is everlasting (7:3c, 6b). That is, they recognized with Solomon that as a people they deserved nothing, but that based on His covenant promises He would never forsake them. This was a message that the generation of the Chronicler (and all generations of God’s people) needed to hear. The Lord will keep His promises. Of course, another note has been sounded in this paean of praise, namely, that the enjoyment of these blessings, for an individual or the nation, depends on obedience (cf. 6:16)—this point was soon to be driven home to Solomon.

6. Post-Dedication Appearance of the Lord to Solomon (7:12–22)

This nighttime appearance of the Lord to Solomon (v. 12) is the second recorded in 2 Chronicles (cf. 2Ch 1:7ff.) and was the occasion of another significant word from the Lord to Solomon in particular and to the Davidic dynasty in general. When the pertinent texts are considered (see 1Kg 6:38–7:1; 9:10), the note that the Lord spoke to Solomon after the completion of both the temple and the palace (2Ch 7:11–12) indicates that this appearance was some 13 years after the dedication ceremonies just recorded. It must have seemed more appropriate to the Chronicler that this divine confirmation be noted at the moment of the temple’s dedication.

a. The Lord Confirms His Choice of the Temple (7:12, 16)

7:12, 16. The Lord made it clear that this appearance was in answer to Solomon’s prayer of dedication—I have heard your prayer. He acknowledged that the temple was to be the place of mediation—of sacrifice and prayer. The nation could count on His promise—based on His choice of the temple—to hear their prayers because this was the place where His name, His eyes, and His heart (that is, His conscientious attention and affection) would be manifested perpetually (7:16b).

b. The Lord Extended His Promise to Include Restoration (7:13–15)

7:13–15. This awesome promise placed a compelling responsibility on the nation. The Lord anticipated a time of trial, one that would have been real to any nation in that time and place—a period of drought, pestilence, and famine (7:13). There is no indication that this eventuality was necessarily the result of sin—it might have been so, or it may simply have been an experience under God’s providential direction. In any case, the promise meant that the nation had recourse to alleviate such disasters. In what is perhaps the best-known verse in all of Chronicles, the Lord outlined the proper attitudes and actions to regain and enjoy the blessing of the Lord. Although the promise was specifically directed to My people, the principles are applicable to all who call upon the name of the Lord (cf. Jl 2:32; Zph 3:9; Ac 2:21; Rm 10:13; 1Co 1:2) (cf. Selman, 2 Chronicles, 338).

The four actions listed in 2Ch 7:14 were not intended to be understood as "steps in a process" but as contemporaneous "facets of an active attitude given tangible expression." These acts would be illustrated by several of the exemplary Davidic kings in the narrative to follow in 2 Chronicles, giving proof to the truth of this promise. A repentant people are, first, to humble themselves, that is they must refuse the stubbornness and pride so ever-present in the nation’s history. Second, they are to pray and afford themselves of the great privilege represented by the temple itself. Third, they are to seek My face, again one of the key themes of the Chronicler—seeking God’s face means the people are to reject self-seeking and self-reliance. Fourth, they are to turn from their wicked ways—this is repentance. These acts indicate that the Lord expects nothing less than a deeply felt rejection of self-reliance, self-trust, self-seeking, and a conscientious dependence upon Him, an active submission to Him, and a determined and active alteration of lives to be lived for Him.

The Lord’s promise in response to this "active attitude" was threefold: first, He again promised to hear from heaven—an overwhelming reality if understood; to forgive their sin—the necessary step to restoration of the relationship with Him and the enjoyment of His covenant blessings; and third, to heal their land. This last element not only recalled the tangible aspect of the Abrahamic promise—the land—but also would have been especially encouraging to the Chronicler’s generation as they were struggling in that very land—one badly in need of restoration. These promises were addressed to His covenant people Israel and reflect the Deuteronomic blessings and cursings promised in the law (cf. Dt 27, 28) and are therefore not appropriately enjoined for believers who do not live in a theocratic nation. Certainly God would long for the people of the United States (or any other country) to humble themselves and pray, and turn in faith to Jesus the Messiah. Although God would certainly forgive the sins of those people who turned to Him, there is no promise here that God would restore their respective nations or heal their lands.

c. The Lord Reiterated His Promise to the House of David (7:17–18)

7:17. The Lord next addressed Solomon personally, but in effect He was addressing the rest of David’s dynasty. That is, while the Lord was speaking to Solomon, these words were equally relevant and urgent for each of the Davidic kings who would follow. While the promise to David was inviolable (v. 18b; cf. 1Ch 17), the enjoyment of it, in any individual king’s reign, was contingent upon that king’s obedience. The obedience expected was described in three terms: the king was to walk, to do, and to keep (2Ch 7:17). First, the obedience the Lord required was characterized as "walking"—behaving, serving, reigning—as your father David walked (v. 17a). David was the paradigm of covenant faithfulness. He was not perfect, but he was "a man after [God’s] own heart" (cf. 1Sm 13:14; Ac 13:22). Second, the king was to do according to all that I have commanded you. The king was actually to serve as "vice-regent" under the sovereign Lord, the True King. Third, the king was responsible to keep My statutes and My ordinances. He was to obey the law as a guide to the will of God. "Keeping the law" did not mean keeping it as a legalistic code but rather adhering to it as the means for the Lord to bless the king and the nation (cf. Ps 1:1–3; 119:1–8). The exhortation here is remarkably similar to the description of Abraham in Gn 26:5: "Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws." Surprisingly, Abraham is described this way even though the law was not given until hundreds of years later. Yet Abraham can be described in this way because he "believed in the Lord," and it was "reckoned … as righteousness" (Gn 15:6). The only reasonable explanation of Abraham is that because he lived a life of faith, he was able to carry out the law, even before it was given. Hence the message of the Pentateuch was to encourage faith leading to faithful obedience. Here Solomon is enjoined to obey as an expression of his faith.

7:18. The promise You shall not lack a man to be ruler in Israel (v. 18b) was (obviously) not a promise that there would always be a king over Israel. Indeed, the Chronicler was well aware that the nation had had no king since the captivity began (and still had no king in his day). The promise, however, was an expression of his messianic hope. While the covenant promises may not be enjoyed by a disobedient king, and the nation may fail to enjoy the blessings of having a descendant of David on the throne at any particular point in history, yet the Chronicler is sure this promise will find ultimate fulfillment in the Greater Son of David (cf. 1Ch 17:13–14), the Messiah who would come "to be ruler in Israel" (cf. Mc 5:2).

d. The Lord Warned of Exile for "Forsaking" His Law (7:19–22)

7:19–22. The Lord concluded the word to Solomon with a warning clearly articulating the themes "seeking the Lord" on the one hand and "forsaking the Lord" on the other hand (see Introduction: Purpose and Themes in 1 Chronicles). The history of the divided monarchy, beginning with the apostasy of Jeroboam I (cf. 1Kg 12:25–33) and running until the reign of Zedekiah (2Kg 24:17ff.) was checkered with disobedience to the law and the practice of idolatry. The warnings of exile and international ridicule were not potentialities to the Chronicler’s generation—they were the tragic history the nation had actually suffered and from which they had returned relatively recently. The Chronicler’s purpose "was not to rub salt in old wounds, [sic] rather his purpose was to show how to avoid the consequences of disobedience" and that when such consequences do fall, to show that "the proper recourse of the people is repentance" (Sailhamer, First and Second Chronicles, 78).

F. Solomon’s Reign (8:1–9:31)

After 20 years on the throne (8:1), mostly consumed with building the temple and his own palace, Solomon was ready to enjoy the fruits of his labor. Being the king, however, meant that challenges and duties never stopped. The Chronicler concluded the narrative of Solomon by highlighting his activities in securing the kingdom and administering it in wisdom. His wealth and power are also noted.

1. Solomon Secured His Kingdom (8:1–18)

a. Solomon’s Building Projects (8:1–11)

8:1–6. The Chronicler recorded the other, outlying building projects of Solomon, highlighting the cities he built for defense, fortified cities (v. 5), for storage—probably indicating places to secure his wealth (vv. 4, 6), and for bivouacking his chariots and horsemen (v. 6). The geographical notices indicate that Solomon extended his kingdom and secured it from attack.

8:7–10. The building of the cities indicates that Solomon secured his kingdom from external threats, and the note here about his labor forces indicates he secured his kingdom internally as well. All foreigners were conscripted as forced laborers (v. 8b; cf. 1Ch 22:2). This need not be understood in a way that envisions harsh conditions and severe taskmasters. It does indicate that Solomon kept close tabs on these people and did not allow them to advance to higher-level positions of authority. Those positions were reserved for the sons of Israel (2Ch 8:9). The purpose appears to be that only those who could be expected to have primary loyalty to the nation and the king would be in positions of responsibility and power.

8:11. Solomon also built a separate house for his Egyptian bride. The explanation seems to indicate that Solomon recognized the inappropriateness of having a foreign (possibly pagan) wife living in proximity to the holy places he had so recently consecrated for the ark. (On the matter of OT men having multiple wives see comments on 1Ch 14:3–7 and Gn 29, 30).

b. Solomon’s Temple Ceremonies and Personnel (8:12–15)

8:12–15. The note here regarding the ceremonies and personnel of the temple must be understood in context as another feature of securing the kingdom. While the external and geopolitical steps taken for security were practical and important, the real security of the nation’s people lay in their devotion to and trust in the Lord. These were given tangible expression in the sincere and faithful worship services in the temple. When all was done according to the daily rule (v. 13), and according to the ordinance of … David (v. 14a), and the priests served according to the daily rule (v. 14b), and when they did not depart from the commandment of the king (v. 15), the nation was assured of the Lord’s continuing presence in the temple.

Solomon’s Domestic Administration

Adapted from The New Moody Atlas of the Bible. Copyright © 2009 The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago.

c. Summary Statement Regarding the Temple (8:16)

8:16. This final statement of the completion of the temple is not redundant. The Chronicler was driving home the point that Solomon’s dedication to building the temple underlay the prosperity and security the king and the nation now enjoyed.

d. His Seaports and Trading (8:17–18; 9:10–11, 21)

8:17–18; 9:10–11, 21. The final note regarding Solomon’s efforts to secure the nation concerns his establishment of seaports Ezion-geber and Eloth (modern Eilat) in the south, on the Gulf of Aqaba. These ports gave access to Ophir from which Solomon imported large amounts of gold and other riches (cf. 9:10–11). Since the Israelites were not seafaring people, Solomon employed the servants of Huram (King of Tyre) for this maritime enterprise. The location of Ophir and the mythical "King Solomon’s mines" is unknown. Since the account of the seaports is linked to the visit of the Queen of Sheba it is probable that Ophir was located in or near Sheba—an empire that stretched from southern Arabia across the Red Sea to eastern Ethiopia (see Payne, "2 Chronicles," 4:470).

Another trade route was initiated to Tarshish (9:21a; cf. 2Ch 20:36). This was also manned by the servants of Huram and was also highly lucrative (9:21b).

2. Solomon Administered Kingdom in Wisdom, Amassed Great Wealth (9:1–28)

The narrative in this chapter demonstrated that the promise the Lord made to Solomon at the first night visit (1Ch 1:8–13) was completely fulfilled. The Lord promised Solomon wisdom and wealth—and Solomon indeed displayed unusual wisdom and amassed incredible wealth.

a. Solomon’s Wisdom and Queen of Sheba (9:1–9, 12)

As Solomon’s kingdom grew more secure and powerful it attracted the attention of other empires in the region. One such was the empire of Sheba. This empire of southern Arabia was built on intercontinental trade mainly between Africa and the Middle East (Asia). The attention devoted to the visit of the Queen of Sheba indicates the spread of Solomon’s power and influence.

9:1–4, 9. Having heard of the fame of Solomon, the queen came to see for herself if the accounts of wisdom and wealth were true. In keeping with the social customs of visitors bearing gifts for their hosts, the queen brought a large amount of gold and precious stones (v. 1b). The queen’s "gift, also recorded in 1 Kings 10:10" (one hundred and twenty talents of gold, 2Ch 9:9) "amounted to over four and a half tons of gold" (Payne, "2 Chronicles," 470).

The object of her visit was to test Solomon with difficult questions (v. 1a). This was not an attempt to "trip him up" but rather to discover for herself the depth of his wisdom and understanding. Solomon did not disappoint. He answered all her questions and gave her complete explanations (v. 2). This is more than a matter of historical interest to the Chronicler. Not only was this a specific instance of the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise to Solomon (cf. 1:11–12) but also it is "reminiscent of the kind of messianic hope characteristic of the chronicler’s day (Haggai 2:7)" (Sailhamer, First and Second Chronicles, 79). Indeed, the expectation of the Gentile nations coming to the Davidic King for instruction and enlightenment into the ways of the Lord was a significant feature of Jewish messianic expectation (see Is 60:3–6). The wisdom and splendor of Solomon left the queen breathless (2Ch 9:4c).

9:5–8, 12. The queen’s personal visit proved to be a surprise to her, and she confessed that the half of the greatness of Solomon’s wisdom was not told to her—his wisdom surpassed her expectations (v. 6). As earlier with Huram (cf. 2:11–12), the Chronicler recorded the remarkable theological insight of a non-Israelite—the Lord is the One responsible for this wisdom and splendor. Indeed, in this Davidic King and in this pagan queen there is the foreshadowing and portent of the promise that many nations will come to Jerusalem and "to the house of the God of Jacob" to receive "the word of the Lord" (Is 2:2–3).

The note in 9:12 indicates that in both physical and spiritual realms the queen returned home with more than what she had brought to the king.

b. Solomon’s Wealth and Power (9:13–20, 22–28)

9:13–28. The record of the incredible wealth of Solomon was yet another indication of the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise (1:11–13). The details of the golden shields (9:13–16), the throne of ivory and gold (vv. 17–19), and the golden drinking vessels (v. 20) gave evidence that Solomon was greater than all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom (v. 22). Indicative of the same point, the Chronicler recorded that other kings followed after the example of the Queen of Sheba and came to witness Solomon’s wisdom and bring him tribute (vv. 23–24, 28). Solomon’s military might and the extent of his hegemony were also noted (vv. 25–26). The Chronicler recorded all of this as a message of hope for his generation. What God has done for Solomon in fulfillment of the Davidic promise, He will do fully, finally, and forever for the greater Son of David, the Messiah. While Solomon’s power and authority reached the zenith in the extent of the kingdom in the OT (v. 26) his kingdom did not extend as far as the land promise to Abraham had indicated (here in 9:26—border of Egypt; cf. Gn 15:18–21—"river of Egypt"). Later prophets reiterated the promise (e.g. Am 9:11–15; Is 57:13; 61:7, indicating that they did not view the promise as fulfilled or abrogated), and the promise was ultimately meant to be "everlasting"—forever (Gn 12:1, 7; 13:15; 15:18; Is 60:21).

3. Summary and Death of Solomon (9:29–31)

9:29–31. The most striking aspect of this concluding formula is that it appears without the record of Solomon’s failures toward the end of his reign (see 1Kg 11:1–43). Nothing is mentioned of his apostasy or that "the Lord was angry with Solomon because his heart was turned away from the Lord" (1Kg 11:9). As in the Chronicler’s narrative of David, these more negative accounts in the narrative of Solomon were not included, though not in an attempt to deny them or rewrite history. Indeed, the Chronicler assumes the reader is aware of these parts of Solomon’s story. His purpose, however, was to encourage his generation, and those negative details simply did not contribute to that end. For the Chronicler, the point of the narrative was not Solomon’s success or failure but the Lord’s promise and fulfillment of it. "Solomon was ‘primarily exemplary.’ Solomon was an example of the promised descendant of David, who in the chronicler’s day had not yet come" (Sailhamer, First and Second Chronicles, 82). Nevertheless, Solomon’s story did indicate that the Lord’s promise would be fulfilled: the Greater Son of David would come, with wisdom and splendor even greater than Solomon’s.

IV. The Kings of David’s Line (10:1–36:23)

The fourth major division of the Chronicler’s work essentially deals with the kings of the Davidic dynasty from the death of Solomon to the captivity. The focus is on the kingdom of Judah, and the references to the kings and kingdom of the northern tribes (Israel) are limited to those times when there was significant intercourse between the kingdoms. The Chronicler "was seeking not a comprehensive understanding of the past but a theological perspective on the present and the future" (Sailhamer, First and Second Chronicles, 83). The Chronicler was much less reticent in this section to recount the foibles and sins of the Davidic kings (when compared to his version of the lives of David and Solomon). However, while he did recount some serious problems with several of the kings in the Davidic line, he also presented a perspective that highlighted the benefits of "seeking the Lord" and presented that as a possibility even in the face of great failure (as in the case of Manasseh). While it was true that the Lord would chastise the king who failed to "seek the Lord," nevertheless the Lord responded favorably to sincere repentance and faith.

A. Rehoboam (10:1–12:16)

The reign of Rehoboam was set down by the Chronicler in three parts, each corresponding to the three chapters of 2Ch 10; 11, and 12. The first of these, delineated in 2Ch 10, corresponds closely to the parallel in 1Kg 12. This once again indicates that the Chronicler was not attempting to rewrite history—his retelling was meant to highlight certain aspects of the story to create an overall theological sense of the narrative. Much of the material in 2Ch 11 and 12 is unique to the Chronicler.

The division of the kingdom was a major event in the nation’s history and an explanation was needed, especially in the light of the Davidic promise (1Ch 17). In Kings, it is clear that Solomon (cf. 1Kg 11:26–39, the account of the word of the Lord to Jeroboam through Ahijah the prophet), Rehoboam, and Jeroboam were each, in different ways, responsible for the division of the kingdom. However, the Chronicler highlighted one note from Kings to make it emphatically clear that the Lord predicted this division (2Ch 10:15; cf. 1Kg 12:15), so it "was a turn of events from God." As the Lord transferred kingship from Saul to David (cf. 1Ch 10:14), so He was also in control of even this unhappy phase of the nation’s history. Thus, the Chronicler has indicated that the Lord is in charge of the great "turning points" in the nation’s history.

1. The Kingdom Divided (10:1–19)

a. Rehoboam Met with All Israel; Coronation Delayed (10:1–5)

10:1–3. Rehoboam traveled to Shechem to meet with all Israel and be recognized as king. Since the tribal divisions that would result in two kingdoms were already in place, the meeting’s location at Shechem was significant. Shechem was about 30 miles north of Jerusalem in the territory of Ephraim and was already recognized as an important political center for the northern tribes. After the split, it became the first capital of the northern kingdom (cf. 1Kg 12:25).

It seemed that Rehoboam expected this coronation to proceed as his grandfather’s had (cf. 1 Ch 11:1) since all Israel was in attendance. However, Jeroboam, who had been exiled to Egypt by Solomon (cf. 1Kg 11:26–40), had been recalled and had been appointed spokesman for the people. The atmosphere of this scene as recounted by the Chronicler was serious but not necessarily tense.

10:4–5. The statement Your father made our yoke hard and the reference to hard service (v. 4a) was a serious charge—essentially charging Solomon with "pharaoh-like" treatment (cf. the similar wording in Ex 6:6–7) of his countrymen in violation of the commandment directed at kings (Dt 17:20). However, the charge was immediately softened by a pledge that should this burden be lightened the people would be willing to serve the new king (2Ch 10:4b). Rehoboam acted prudently by delaying the response for time to consider the demand. At this point, humanly speaking, the division of the kingdom was not inevitable. The Chronicler may have been telling his readers that such disasters are avoidable and divisions are best healed while the breach is small.

b. Rehoboam Met with His Advisors (10:6–11)

If Rehoboam had been thinking of a previous assembly of "all Israel" (cf. 1Ch 1) he might have recognized the need to pray for wisdom as his father had done. The absence of prayer at this critical juncture in the nation’s history and in Rehoboam’s reign was glaring. Instead he met with his human advisors, and even then heeded the wrong ones.

10:6–7. The elders who advised Rehoboam were the men who had served his father (v. 6). Their advice was to do as the people had requested. "The parallel passage in 1Kg 12:7 quotes even stronger advice by the elders to the king: not simply that he ‘be kind’ and ‘favorable’ to the people, but that he ‘be a servant’ and ‘serve’ them" (Payne, "2 Chronicles," 4:474). What the people could endure for the great tasks of building the temple and palace could not be sustained indefinitely. Sacrifice for a grand project was one thing—constant subjugation for the king’s personal aggrandizement was quite another.

10:8–11. The two times the text mentions that Rehoboam forsook the counsel of the elders (10:8a, 13) brackets the account and served to highlight his failure to "seek the Lord." He turned instead to the young men who grew up with him. Their self-serving loyalty was to him alone (served him) (v. 8b) and not the whole nation. Rehoboam’s repetition of the people’s charge (v. 9b) while leaving out the part about their promise to serve, distorted the issue and made the unreasonable advice of the young men seem more fitting. A challenge was met with a threat—always a bad policy! The bellicose advice of the young men, seen from the historical perspective after the division of the kingdom, was both immature and shortsighted.

c. Rehoboam Met with Jeroboam and All the People (10:12–15)

10:12–15. The parties reconvened and Rehoboam answered them harshly (v. 13). The repetition in these verses gave the sense that the scene had turned tense and adversarial. The Chronicler summarized with the words, So the king did not listen to the people (v. 15a). Rehoboam had clearly underestimated the seriousness of the challenge and overestimated his ability to carry out the threatened oppression. However, the Chronicler was quick to make clear that this turn of events (v. 15b) was of the Lord. "The reader is reminded that even a disastrous situation such as the division of the kingdom and the loss of the ten tribes of Israel was not without its place in God’s plan" (Sailhamer, First and Second Chronicles, 84).

d. Kingdom Divided (10:16–19)

10:16–19. The reaction to Rehoboam’s truculent and deprecating response was swift and unambiguous. The poetic question, what portion do we have in David? likely became a popular refrain among the people. The division between the house of David and all Israel reflects a rare time in Chronicles when the unity of the nation was shattered.

Rehoboam attempted to make good on his threat, but his man, Hadoram ("Adoram" in 1Kg 12:18) was stoned to death for his efforts. Rehoboam was forced to flee for safety to Jerusalem where he reigned over the cities of Judah (2Ch 10:17). The note about Israel being in rebellion to this day (10:19) most likely recounts the words of the Chronicler’s source (cf. 1Kg 12:19). The Chronicler omitted the narrative of the coronation of Jeroboam (cf. 1Kg 12:20). From this point forward, he generally ignored the history of the northern kingdom (since his focus was on the Davidic dynasty), including the kings or events of the northern kingdom only when they related to the narrative of the Davidic kings of Judah. (The whole history of the rebellion, disobedience, and judgment of the northern kingdom did not serve the more optimistic view of the Chronicler. He was not interested in rehashing who was chastised, but he wanted his generation to "keep looking at the promise" and the Greater Son of David who would bring about the blessing on the nation.)

2. The Reign of Rehoboam (11:1–23)

At this point the Chronicler’s account of Rehoboam’s reign diverged considerably from that of Kings. The account in Chronicles is longer, with material not found in Kings. Furthermore, while the overall evaluation of Rehoboam is the same in both accounts (cf. 2Ch 12:14 and 1Kg 14:22) there is more place given to Rehoboam’s albeit temporary repentance (2Ch 12:6) and to examples from Rehoboam’s reign that indicate the Davidic promise endured despite the king’s evil. Regardless of his folly and loss of the northern tribes, Rehoboam consolidated his kingdom (11:5ff.) just as David and Solomon had done. Furthermore, he gathered the priests and Levites (11:13) from all Israel and demonstrated a "Davidic" interest in the place of true worship—Jerusalem (cf. 11:16). Once again, the Chronicler was not attempting to rewrite history (he expects the reader to be familiar with the story as told in Kings), but he offered a perspective on Rehoboam that highlighted the Lord’s faithfulness to His Davidic covenant promises.

a. Rehoboam Prevented from Attacking Israel (11:1–4)

11:1–3. Upon his return to Jerusalem, Rehoboam’s initial response to the rebellion and to the outrage of the murder of his envoy was to assemble a force from Judah and Benjamin to fight against Israel. His objective was to restore ("to win back") the unity of the nation under himself (v. 1). The mention of Judah and Benjamin shows that it was these two tribes that made up the southern kingdom of Judah (cf. v. 3). Rehoboam had not yet learned from his folly and intended to force the northern tribes to submit.

The Lord put a swift halt to such intentions through Shemaiah the man of God, a prophet who ministered throughout the reign of Rehoboam and later wrote a noncanonical book about him (v. 2; cf. 12:5–7, 15). The message was addressed to the king and to all Israel in Judah and Benjamin (v. 3). The words all Israel (in contrast to "all the house of" in 1Kg 12:23) are significant. The Chronicler subtly shifts his use of this designation from its general application to the whole of the unified nation (2Ch 11:16) to those who are loyal to the Davidic dynasty and especially those who are devoted to the temple in Jerusalem. In other words, "all Israel" in a general sense means "all those who are descendants of the patriarchs," but a more "theologically centered" sense refers to those who "set their hearts on seeking the Lord God of Israel" (11:16) and proved their loyalty by going to Jerusalem to worship at the temple. The lesson for the Chronicler’s generation was that those who returned from captivity, whose hope was in the Davidic promise, and whose worship centered on the temple, could legitimately be called "all Israel." (In 12:1 the shift is complete; there the terms are used to designate Judah alone.)

11:4. Shemaiah related the words of the Lord to Rehoboam and all Israel that it was not the Lord’s will for them to go against their relatives ("brothers") (v. 4). The Lord’s commands were sharp and clear: You shall not go up or fight … return every man to his house (v. 4a). His explanation was arresting: for this thing is from Me (v. 4b). This simple statement belies the complexity involved in the Lord’s purposes for the division of the nation. The author of Kings made it clear that one reason for this division was chastisement for Solomon’s apostasy (cf. 1Kg 11:29–33). Here, the Chronicler was indicating that the division was caused by the obstinacy and hubris of Rehoboam. But there is a subtler point: the division made a clear distinction between those "who set their hearts on seeking the Lord" (2Ch 11:16) and those who had forsaken the Lord. The positive effect of the division was the preservation of Judah from the apostasy of the northern tribes (cf. 11:14–15). Payne summarizes, "The overriding divine purpose was to separate the godly in Judah from the apostate in Israel (11:6–22) and to concentrate in the south those who remained faithful out of the northern tribes: ‘thus they strengthened the kingdom of Judah’ (v. 17)" (Payne, "2 Chronicles," 4:474).

The final word in this brief section recounted not an act of resignation by the king and the people but an act of obedience and submission: So they listened to the words of the Lord (v. 4c).

b. Rehoboam Secured His Kingdom (11:5–13)

11:5–13. Rehoboam’s works of city building (11:5–10) and fortifying the nation (vv. 11–12) recall those of Solomon (cf. 8:2–6), and the underlying point is the same: the nation’s security was a priority because only with security can the purpose of worship and service to the Lord proceed unhindered. Once the security of the nation was established then matters of true worship could be addressed (cf. 11:13, 16).

c. Jeroboam’s Apostasy Led to Judah’s Strength (11:14–17)

11:14–17. The Chronicler noted the apostasy of Jeroboam (v. 15), but his account highlights a providentially positive effect: since Jeroboam’s idolatrous changes (cf. 1Kg 12:25–33) excluded the Levites, they were forced south to the Jerusalem temple, the center of true worship. This strengthened the kingdom of Judah (v. 17a) and helped Rehoboam. Sadly this effect lasted only three years (v. 17c), "an ominous reminder that Rehoboam was not to be the promised messianic Son of David" (Sailhamer, First and Second Chronicles, 85).

d. Rehoboam’s Family (11:18–23)

11:18–23. The paragraph detailing Rehoboam’s family was included not only to establish the line of succession through Abijah (a choice that did not follow the normal rules of succession). It also recorded how Solomon’s disobedient (cf. Dt 17:19) and fatal error of multiplying wives, who turned the heart of the king from the fear of the Lord, was repeated by his son. Even though the Chronicler dutifully recorded that it happened, it is not to be inferred that it was acceptable to the Lord that Rehoboam married a half-sister.

Rehoboam’s Fortified Cities

Adapted from The New Moody Atlas of the Bible. Copyright © 2009 The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago.

3. Invasion of Shishak (12:1–12)

In some ways this chapter is the starting point for the rest of Chronicles (see Payne, "2 Chronicles," 4:477ff.). In this chapter the Chronicler regarded Rehoboam not so much as Solomon’s successor but as the first in the line of historical kings of Judah that terminated with the captivity. This is not so much the (theocratic) Davidic line but the semi-cyclical (historical) line of Judah that toggled between "bad" and "good" rulers until the captivity by Nebuchadnezzar. Although the Davidic promise was carried by this historical line, these kings were at best mere representatives of the ideal, and actually often served as negative contrasts of the promised Greater Son of David, the Messiah.

a. Invasion by Egypt (12:1–4)

12:1–4. The opening statement of this chapter (v. 1) was to be recalled in a haunting echo in many of the accounts that followed: a king, blessed by the Lord with security and strength, failed to honor God and found the nation’s security and strength weakened. The Chronicler specified that Rehoboam forsook the law (v. 1) and was unfaithful to the Lord (v. 2a) with the result that Shishak king of Egypt (v. 2b) invaded Judah. "To be unfaithful … to God is one of Chronicles’ key terms.… It involves denying God the worship due Him" (Selman, 2 Chronicles, 373). As a result, cites of Judah were taken and Jerusalem was itself threatened (11:4) to the extent that the leaders were gathered there (cf. 12:5). Egyptian records confirm the historicity and many of the details of this invasion (see Leo Depuydt, "Egypt, Egyptians," in Dictionary of the Old Testament, Historical Books, ed. Bill T. Arnold and H.G.M. Williamson [Downers Grove, IL and Leicester, England: InterVarsity], 243).

b. Cause of Invasion Explained (12:5)

12:5. What the Chronicler had already told his readers, Shemaiah revealed to Rehoboam and the princes, repeating the charge of forsaking the Lord (v. 5c; cf. v. 1) and underscoring the seriousness of this offense—it was the direct opposite of "seeking the Lord" (cf. 1Ch 28:9; 2Ch 15:2).

c. Repentance and Humility Avert Total Disaster (12:6–12)

12:6–12. The Chronicler added more material to his own account of Rehoboam than is found in 1Kg 14:25–28, and in doing so has offered a nuance to his story—there was repentance and humility on the part of the king and the princes (2Ch 12:6). This lesson is one the Chronicler’s generation needed to hear. While "forsaking the Lord" brought chastisement, it was the loving purpose of a gracious God to bring about repentance through the "pain" and then, on the basis of the repentance and humility, to mitigate the penalty. Chastisement and even loss as the consequence of "forsaking the Lord" does not mean an end to His grace or His promises. While there was a heavy price to pay in treasure and gold (v. 9), nevertheless, because the king humbled himself, the anger of the Lord was averted and the destruction was minimized (v. 12). Indeed, even though the golden shields were lost, there were bronze shields to replace them, and in spite of the loss conditions were good in Judah (v. 12). The Chronicler’s generation needed to know that the humbling experience of the captivity had not demonstrated the Lord’s abandonment of His people. They had even less than the "bronze shields" but they had the hope that conditions could be good in Judah again.

4. Summary of Rehoboam’s Reign (12:13–16)

12:13–16. The concluding formula recorded in these verses was generally repeated for each of the Judaic kings to follow. The details—length of life and reign, summary of accomplishments, matters of succession—were more than a mere record of statistics and data. They were a brief overview of the life and story of the king designed to set up the moral evaluation. In Rehoboam’s case it was not good—he did evil. But it was not so much an active evil (as will be true of some kings of Judah and of Rehoboam’s rival Jeroboam) as it was a failure to do good—he did not set his heart to seek the Lord (v. 14). Although he reigned in Jerusalem, the city which the Lord had chosen … to put His name there (v. 13b), he had not been wholehearted toward the Lord. The Chronicler may have noted that his mother was Naamah the Ammonitess to imply that his failure to be true to the Lord came from the non-Israelite influence of his mother. Then again, the detail of adding the mothers’ names for several of these kings (cf. 13:2; 25:1; 27:1; 29:1) may simply be a means of precise identification for those who knew the family relationships. The Chronicler’s generation once again lived in that city, and this example would be a solemn encouragement to avoid Rehoboam’s fate by avoiding his failure.

The note concerning his sources (v. 15) would have increased the Chronicler’s credibility and the power of his narrative.

B. Abijah (13:1–14:1)

1. Introductory Formula for Abijah (13:1–2a)

13:1–2a. Abijah was called "a great sinner" by the author of Kings (1Kg 15:3), but in accord with the general tenor of his work the Chronicler chose to highlight the positive in Abijah’s brief reign—three years (2Ch 13:2a) from 913 to 911 BC. The name of his mother was Micaiah (Maacah, 1Kg 15:2) "and Uriel may be the son of Absalom (‘Abishalom’, 1Kg 15:2) making Micaiah/Maacah the granddaughter, though certainty is impossible" (Selman, 2 Chronicles, 379). The Chronicler’s account is longer than that of Kings, drawn from a source other than Kings, namely, "the treatise of the prophet Iddo" (2Ch 13:22b), and taken up mostly with the war between Abijah and Jeroboam (v. 2b). The account is less about Abijah himself than it is about the principle that humility and trust in God will bring victory and blessing since it is the Lord God of Israel (13:5) who brings victory. Because Abijah’s reign was mostly concerned with rivalry and war with the northern kingdom, the Chronicler dated Abijah by the reign of his rival Jeroboam (v. 1). While this cross-dating of kings is a fairly constant feature in Kings, "It occurs only here in the books of Chronicles" (Sailhamer, First and Second Chronicles, 86).

2. Abijah’s War with Israel (13:2b–19)

a. Nations at War (13:2b–3)

13:2b–3. The Chronicler simply and directly noted that there was war between the rival nations, indicating that Abijah and the southern kingdom were outnumbered by Jeroboam and the northern kingdom, two to one. Nevertheless, it was Abijah who began the battle (v. 3a).

b. Abijah’s Speech to Israel (13:4–12)

The record of Abijah’s speech is a typical literary device for the Chronicler. In fact, in narrative literature of the Bible, insight is regularly given through a speech by a primary character in the story.

(1) First Charge against Israel: Rebellion to Davidic Dynasty (13:4–7)

13:4–7. The exact occasion and location (Mount Zemaraim, v. 4a; cf. Jos 18:22) are uncertain, but apparently, while the two armies were lined up for battle, Abijah addressed his rival and all Israel (v. 4b). He delineated the charges against Israel and justification of this battle.

The first charge against Israel was her rebellion against the Lord’s chosen Davidic dynasty. Abijah reminded the rebellious nation that the Lord … gave the rule over Israel forever to David (v. 5a). The reference to the covenant of salt (v. 5b) is probably to be understood as "a metaphor for permanence based on Nm 18:19" (cf. Lv 2:13) (Selman, 2 Chronicles, 380). The primary use of salt in the ancient world was as a preservative—hence a covenant of salt would "last." Abijah scolded the northern kingdom for following Jeroboam, a traitor surrounded by worthless men and scoundrels, instead of siding with the legitimate heir of Solomon (vv. 6–7a). Abijah’s characterization of his father Rehoboam was clearly biased but not inaccurate.

(2) Second Charge against Israel: Apostasy from True Worship (13:8–9)

13:8–9. The rebellion of the northern kingdom was not merely a political one but theological, thereby making it apostasy—a more serious matter for the Chronicler. It was not David’s, nor Solomon’s, nor Rehoboam’s kingdom against which they have rebelled but the kingdom of the Lord through the sons of David (v. 8a). Their apostasy was expressed in the golden calves set up by Jeroboam. That these gods were made for them (v. 8b) made their naked idolatry more appalling. Additionally, the northern kingdom had employed illegitimate, self-proclaimed pagan priests (v. 9c; cf. 11:14–15), while the true priests of the Lord, the sons of Aaron and the Levites (13:9a; cf. 11:16–17) had been driven out of the northern territories. The idolatrous worship Jeroboam instituted was no better than the pagan idolatry of the peoples of other lands (13:9b). It was this defense of the Davidic dynasty and of the true worship of the temple that raised Abijah’s reputation in the eyes of the Chronicler. It was of vital importance for the Chronicler and his generation to maintain the uniqueness of temple worship against the idolatry that had sent the nation into captivity and the paganism that continued to surround them. If they were to be blessed with success and security, they needed to be as bold as Abijah was in their regard for true worship.

(3) Justification of Southern Kingdom: Not Forsaking the Lord, True Worship Upheld (13:10–11)

13:10–11. Abijah mentioned a key theme of the Chronicler: we have not forsaken Him (v. 10). "This is extremely serious, for God would forsake those who forsook Him (1 Ch 28:9; 2 Ch 15:2; 24:20; cf. 2 Ch 12:1, 5)" (Selman, 2 Chronicles, 381). Abijah could say the Lord is our God (13:10a) because he could point to the ongoing and faithful worship of the temple, just as that worship had been prescribed (vv. 10c–11).

(4) Appeal to Northern Kingdom: God Is with Us—Do Not Fight against Him (13:12)

13:12. In the same manner, Abijah could predict that the northern kingdom would not prevail (you will not succeed) because of their rebellion and apostasy. Those who worship and serve the Lord sincerely and in truth may expect His help. Those who forsake Him can expect to suffer loss. Not only the remainder of this account but the long history after the fall of the northern kingdom would drive home the truth of that assertion to the Chronicler’s generation. Furthermore, it was a message to the opponents who may have been seeking to thwart the work of the Chronicler’s generation in their efforts to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple.

c. The Battle Joined (13:13–19)

13:13–14. Even as Abijah was appealing to his wayward brethren, Jeroboam was busy flanking Judah’s forces in preparation for a sneak attack behind them, so that Judah was surrounded. The Chronicler recorded that without a note of panic they cried to the Lord, and the priests blew the trumpets (v. 14). The presence of the priests in the line of battle indicated that Judah’s trust was not in military might but instead well placed in the Lord.

13:15–17. Again, the events moved swiftly, but the men of Judah did not panic in this dire circumstance but rather raised a war cry (v. 15a; noted twice)—a confident and defiant gesture. Although the precise military details of the battle were not recorded, the underlying source of the victory was God Himself. Although no supernatural means is indicated, it was God who routed Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah (v. 15b) and it was God who gave them into their hand (v. 16). At the end of the battle the forces of the northern kingdom were reduced to inferior numbers compared to Judah’s.

13:18–19. The summary of Abijah’s victory gave the Chronicler another chance to drive home the main point of this narrative: Abijah and Judah were victorious because they trusted in the Lord, the God of their fathers (v. 18). Israel had been subdued (lit., "humbled") and Abijah had captured her cities, most notably Bethel (v. 19, one of the places of the golden calves; cf. 1Kg 12:28–33) because the false gods could not defend themselves against the true God.

3. Concluding Formula for Abijah (13:20–14:1)

13:20. The summary of Jeroboam’s loss and death was simply noted. The only detail was the Lord struck him (v. 20). Once again, the Chronicler provided his readers with a warning to those contemplating apostasy and an encouragement to not forsake the Lord.

13:21–14:1. The Chronicler noted Abijah’s strength to explain why the northern kingdom did not counterattack and to preview the peace that prevailed in his son Asa’s day (cf. 14:1b). It was the Lord who gave him prosperity and security (cf. 1Ch 26:5; 2 Ch 11:18–21).

C. Asa (14:2–16:14)

As with Abijah, the Chronicler gave more attention to Asa than did the author of Kings (compare 2 Chronicles’ three chapters to 1Kg 15:9–24). Asa’s example is a mixed one, however, and his reign exemplified both major themes of the Chronicler: at the outset of his reign Asa is one who is found "seeking the Lord" (e.g., 2Ch 14:2–3), but at the end of his reign he is one "forsaking the Lord" (16:7–10).

1. The Lord Gives Godly King Asa Great Victory (14:2–15)

a. King Asa Did Right before the Lord (14:2)

14:2. The Chronicler wasted no time in offering a hopeful beginning, by stating that Asa did good and right in the sight of the Lord his God (v. 2). This was a reminder that such beginnings must be followed by unflagging obedience.

b. Asa Instituted Religious Reforms (14:3–5)

14:3–5. Asa began his reign by a series of reforms designed to cleanse the nation from idolatry and to foster true worship. The centerpiece of his reforms (vv. 3–5, and literally at the center of these verses) was fostering the "seeking of the Lord." There was an encouragement to obedience to the law (v. 4) that was bracketed by the order to remove idolatrous forms of worship (see vv. 3 and 5). For the Chronicler, obedience to the law was anything but mere "legalism." "Since obedience is equated with seeking God, the law is viewed as a means of maintaining fellowship with God (cf. 6:16; 12:1, 5)" (Selman, 2 Chronicles, 388).

c. Asa Instituted Nationwide Security Program (14:6–8)

14:6–8. Asa’s security program involved fortifications and a well-equipped standing army. However, his true security was based much more on the Lord who had given him rest (v. 6, cf. v. 7). The king wisely enlisted the people in his program and reiterated to them that the security they sought would come because they had sought the Lord their God (v. 7). The brief note that this needed to be done while the land was still theirs (v. 7b) would have pricked the ears of the Chronicler’s first readers—a reminder of how the land had been lost and how it might be kept in the their own day.

d. Asa’s War with Zerah the Ethiopian (14:9–15)

The preparations for security were soon tested by a threat from an unlikely source. The identity of Zerah is unknown outside of Chronicles. Most likely, this was a proxy war fought in behalf of the Egyptians who had ongoing conflicts with Judah and the other nations to its northeast.

14:9–10. The intimidating numbers of the enemy did not prevent Asa and Judah from proceeding out to the battlefield to face them. The battle plan, however, included a serious and determined effort at "seeking the Lord" before engaging the enemy. Mareshah was about 25 miles southwest of Jerusalem.

14:11. Asa’s prayer began with acknowledgment of the singular power and strength of the Lord, thereby acknowledging his need and dependence on that power and strength. He expressed his and the nation’s trust in the Lord, basing his petition not on anything in himself, nor in the nation, but only because the Lord had identified Himself with this nation. It was for the sake of God’s name and because the Lord was their God that He should go before them in this battle. In effect, the enemy had not come against the king or nation so much as against the Lord. Therefore, Asa prayed let not man prevail against You (v. 11d).

14:12–15. The Chronicler left the reader with no uncertainty that the prayer was answered, and that the victory was itself achieved by the Lord: So the Lord routed the Ethiopians (v. 12a). The description of the extent of the victory and the plunder the nation carried away was an example of the Lord doing "exceedingly, abundantly above all" that the king had asked or expected.

2. Asa’s Response to Azariah’s Prophecy (15:1–19)

After the great victory the Lord sent His prophet Azariah to solidify the commitment and faithfulness of Asa and the nation. The description of Azariah’s prophetic word and the covenant ceremony that followed are unique to the Chronicler’s account.

a. Prophet Brings the Lord’s Word to King and Nation (15:1–7)

15:1–2a. Azariah, who appears only here in Scripture, was empowered for his task by the Spirit of God (15:1a). This was a standard way to indicate the divine credentials of the man speaking for God. It recalled the way the Lord intervened in the days of the judges and kings—by Spirit-empowered leaders such as Othniel (Jdg 3:10) and Samson (Jdg 14:6) and Saul (1Sm 10:10; cf. 16:14).

15:2b. Seeking the Lord and not forsaking Him was a major theme of the Chronicler and the Asa narrative. As such this was the central verse in the whole of Asa’s story (see Introduction: Purpose and Themes in 1 Chronicles).

15:3–6. Azariah recalled first the "bad old days" when the nation was without the direction and protection of the true God in the form of His priests mediating His law (v. 3). The description of the time indicated by Azariah seems best to fit the time of the Judges when the cycle of disobedience, distress, crying out to the Lord, and His deliverance was repeated several times over. This was a time of repeated disturbances (v. 5) and every kind of distress (v. 6).

15:7. Asa was admonished to avoid such a sorry cycle of "revival and relapse," and the phrase be strong and do not lose courage clearly recalled the words of the Lord to a leader who conquered and achieved victory, namely, Joshua (cf. Jos 1:6; cf. 1Ch 22:13b).

b. Asa’s Response to God’s Word: Reformation, Revival (15:8–19)

15:8–19. Asa took courage (v. 8a), and his response to the words of Azariah was immediate and dynamic. He embarked on an ambitious series of reforms that culminated in a gathering of the faithful, a rededication, and a covenant of commitment.

Asa removed idols (v. 8), restored altars (v. 9), and reinstituted sacrifices (vv. 10–11). He then strengthened the relationship with those who had defected from the northern kingdom of Israel (v. 9). He removed his own mother from power because she had encouraged idolatry (v. 16), and he added to the wealth and prestige of the temple (v. 18). But central to his reforms was the covenant he established between the Lord and all Judah (v. 9a) and all those from the northern kingdom who saw that the Lord his God was with him (v. 9b). This covenant of commitment to seek the Lord God of their fathers with all their heart and soul was the high point of Asa’s reign. The Chronicler saw this as the reason Asa enjoyed many years of peace and success.

This then was the Chronicler’s message to his own generation (and all subsequent generations)—security (cf. vv. 15c, 19) comes by committing oneself to the Lord with a whole heart and seeking Him earnestly (v. 15). Only by such sincere movements of heart, mind and soul can one expect that He will let them find Him (v. 15b). It goes without saying the Lord will be faithful to His promises—but the enjoyment of those promises by any generation requires the same level of sincerity and commitment exhibited by Asa and the nation at this point in the nation’s history.

3. Asa Sought Security in Treaty with Enemy (16:1–14)

While the effects of Asa’s revival lasted for many years (cf. 15:19–16:1) they did not last indefinitely, even for Asa himself. "Asa’s last five years … completely reversed the pattern of the rest of his life" (Selman, 2 Chronicles, 396).

a. Asa Made a Temporal Alliance (16:1–6)

16:1. The actions of Baasha, the king of Israel, in securing a border town of Ramah hardly seemed to offer much of a threat to Asa’s or Judah’s security. No doubt it was a provocative action, but it was designed to keep his own people from further defections to Judah more than to pose a threat to Judah.

16:2–3. In addition to the foible of depleting his and the nation’s wealth, Asa’s treaty with Ben-hadad displayed a lack of trust in the Lord and provoked a needless war for Israel.

16:4. It would appear that the idea to attack Israel came not from Ben-hadad but from Asa (16:4, Ben-hadad listened to King Asa). If so, it was ironic that having won a proxy war with Egypt (through Zerah), Asa himself initiated a proxy war with Israel (through Ben-hadad). The rather underhanded aspect of provoking this war was only the subtext for the main issue, however—namely, Asa was putting his security in alliances rather than in the Lord.

16:5–6. The final note regarding the battle again paints Asa in a poor light. He was opportunistic and disingenuous. He now threatened Israel more than he was endangered by Israel. All of Asa’s actions at this point were based on "temporal calculations" with no evidence of seeking the Lord.

b. Hanani the Seer (Prophet) Rebuked Asa (16:7–9)

16:7–9. Hanani went to Asa and spoke directly: these actions were nothing less than a lack of faith in the Lord and a violation of Asa’s previous covenant commitment to seek the Lord. Apparently the Lord had intended Judah to defeat Ben-hadad (Aram) (v. 7), but that was no longer possible since they were now in effect allies (and the threat from the Arameans would remain for subsequent kings, cf. 2Ch 18; 22:5). Asa’s previous reliance on the Lord and victory over the Ethiopians and the Lubim (Lybians; 12:3; Nah 3:9) was held up by Hanani as the example of what Asa ought to have done in this case (2Ch 16:8). Hanani’s description of the Lord’s care over His own was not only memorably descriptive, it is also one of universal application: it shows a God who is intensely interested (the eyes of the Lord move to and fro, v. 9a) and deeply involved (that He may strongly support, v. 9b) in the lives of His people. The words you have acted foolishly (v. 9c) were a stinging rebuke to Asa, and would have made an unforgettable impression on the Chronicler’s readers.

c. Asa’s Reaction Inappropriate (16:10)

16:10. Where repentance to God’s rebuke was in order Asa chose to retaliate against God’s messenger. He had Hanani imprisoned and he oppressed the people, perhaps because they opposed this injustice toward the Lord’s prophet.

d. Asa’s Punishment (16:12)

16:12. The sad result of Asa’s disobedience was a debilitating disease in his feet. Even with this, he failed to seek the Lord, relying rather on the physicians than seeking the Great Physician. This is not to suggest that seeking medical assistance was wrong in and of itself, but Asa was trusting only in the doctors, thus indicating his heart was no longer seeking the Lord. "Asa began his reign standing firmly in his trust in God. He ended his reign with diseased feet. Certainly part of the chronicler’s intention in including this account of Asa’s diseased feet was the picture it calls to mind of Asa’s inability to stand firm" (Sailhamer, First and Second Chronicles, 91).

e. Concluding Formula for Asa (16:11, 13–14)

16:11, 13–14. Even though Asa’s reign ended poorly he was honored in his death for the many years of his generally peaceful and prosperous reign. The notes concerning the funeral preparations indicate the nation’s esteem for him despite his spiritual failures. "Asa, however, was still the most godly monarch to arise in Judah, from the division of Solomon’s kingdom up to this point" (Payne, "2 Chronicles," 4:485). Unfortunately, this was not to be the last instance of a king who began well but ended poorly.

D. Jehoshaphat (17:1–20:37)

The reign of Jehoshaphat, whose name means "the Lord will judge," covers the next four chapters of 2 Chronicles. Unlike the record in Kings, where his story is ancillary to that of Ahab (of the northern kingdom of Israel), here in Chronicles Jehoshaphat takes center stage, being generally depicted as a good king. However, as with other generally godly kings, the Chronicler is forthright about his shortcomings and failures. He was a man of prayer (20:5ff.) who sought God (19:5b) and he "did not seek the Baals" (17:3b), but his unwise alliances with Ahab and Ahaziah brought serious rebukes from the Lord (cf. 19:1–2; 20:35–37). In several respects, the experiences and lessons (successes and failures) of his father Asa were repeated in the reign of Jehoshaphat.

1. Jehoshaphat Established His Kingdom (17:1–6)

a. He Secured the Nation (17:1–2)

17:1–2. When Jehoshaphat began his reign the tensions with the northern kingdom that had been evident during his father’s reign were still present. He made his position over Israel firm by fortifying the border cities that his father Asa had conquered. This was not necessarily a provocative act and did not signal an aggressive stance toward the northern kingdom.

b. He Devoted Himself to God (17:3–6)

17:3–6. Jehoshaphat began his reign by demonstrating his devotion to God. He followed the example of David’s earlier days (v. 3b; this seems an admission that David’s later days were less than exemplary; cf. 2Sm 11 and 12). Jehoshaphat did not seek the Baals (2Ch 17:3b), that is, he did not lapse into idolatry, as did so many of his fellow kings. He sought the God of his father (v. 4a)—once again, a main theme of the Chronicler. He obeyed the commandments of the Lord. He did not act as Israel did (v. 4b)—that is, he did not follow the idolatry of Jeroboam I. He took great pride in the ways of the Lord (v. 6a), that is, he openly and sincerely served the Lord and sought to obey Him. Finally, he removed the high places and the Asherim (Canaanite female fertility goddesses, v. 6b), that is, he continued and expanded the reforms begun under his father Asa (cf. 15:16–17) by demolishing the places of pagan worship in Judah. Clearly, the Chronicler intended his readers to see in Jehoshaphat a list of acts of devotion that exemplify the best of the Davidic line.

For all this the Lord was with Jehoshaphat (17:3a), and the Lord established the kingdom in his control (v. 5a). This blessing was made tangible in that the nation brought tribute to Jehoshaphat (v. 5b)—not only honor but also great riches.

2. Jehoshaphat Administered His Kingdom (17:7–19)

Before beginning the actual narrative of Jehoshaphat’s reign, the Chronicler noted his wise administration of the nation in two strategic areas.

a. Jehoshaphat’s "Spiritual" Administration (17:7–9)

17:7–8. The placement of this note concerning the "spiritual" administration of Jehoshaphat before the note concerning the "military" administration of Jehoshaphat’s kingdom indicates both the Chronicler’s and Jehoshaphat’s priorities. "Jehoshaphat was concerned that his kingdom be properly instructed in the law of God" (Sailhamer, First and Second Chronicles, 92). He understood that while military might had its place, there was no substitute for obedience to the Lord if the nation was to enjoy security and prosperity. With that mission in mind, he appointed his officials, Levites, and priests to teach in the cities of Judah (v. 7), a team consisting of five government officials, nine Levites and two priests (v. 8; the names were common, and precise identification with other persons with the same names is not possible).

17:9. This mission was intended to serve the people who could not make regular visits to the temple but still needed instruction in the Word of God. What they taught was the book of the law of the Lord (v. 9a)—not their own ideas or man’s wisdom; where they taught was in all the cities of Judah (v. 9b)—that is, no community was excluded; and who they taught were the people (v. 9c)—indicating that even the common people were expected to know, understand, and obey the law. This formula would have greatly encouraged the leaders in the Chronicler’s generation as they too were seeking stability and prosperity for those who had returned to the land—the way to true security is knowledge of and trust in the Word of God.

b. Jehoshaphat’s "Temporal" ("Military") Administration (17:10–19)

17:10–19. Jehoshaphat also continued to secure the nation militarily. Because he prospered under the Lord’s establishment of his kingdom (cf. v. 5a) the dread of the Lord (v. 10a) was upon the surrounding nations. Jehoshaphat’s godly leadership prospered Judah, and the nations brought him tribute in an effort to forestall military conflict (v. 10b). The Philistines on the west brought the monetary wealth from their sea trading (v. 11a) and the Arabians on the east brought the wealth of livestock they had gained through the caravan trade on the eastern side of the Jordan River (v. 11b). This wealth served to make Jehoshaphat even stronger, and with it he built fortresses and store cities (v. 12) and a formidable, well-equipped army (vv. 13–19). The detailed notes of military strength anticipated the military conflicts to come in Jehoshaphat’s reign.

3. Jehoshaphat’s Disastrous Alliance with Ahab (18:1–19:3)

"The account of the alliance of Jehoshaphat and Ahab [18:1–34] is almost verbatim from 1 Kings 22:1–53 and is centered more on Ahab than on Jehoshaphat" (Sailhamer, First and Second Chronicles, 93).

a. Alliance by Marriage (18:1)

18:1. Jehoshaphat began his disastrous alliance with Ahab of the northern kingdom of Israel with the marriage of his son Jehoram to Ahab’s daughter Athaliah (cf. 21:6; 2Kg 8:18). Such alliances were typical of the era, and Jehoshaphat may not have intended for this alliance to do more than secure peace between the two nations. However, the union was to be the source of a series of calamities for Jehoshaphat, his kingdom, and his family. It is a practical lesson on the reason a believer should "not be bound together with unbelievers" (2Co 6:14).

b. Alliance for War (18:2–27)

The remainder of the chapter concerns the ongoing war between the northern kingdom and the Arameans (Syria). This time the conflict concerned the disputed territory of Ramoth-gilead. This city, about 50 miles northeast of Jerusalem, was a significant city on the eastern side of the Jordan. It was on an important trade route and seems to have been a recurring source of tension between the two kingdoms.

18:2–3. The scene appeared at first to be no more than a "state visit" by one king to another (v. 2a). However, Ahab had ulterior motives. In the conversation and the ensuing conflict Jehoshaphat seemed somewhat naÔve. After some "wining and dining" (v. 2b) Ahab induced (persuaded) Jehoshaphat to accompany him on an expedition to retake Ramoth-gilead. Impulsively, Jehoshaphat committed himself and his entire nation (v. 3b).

18:4–5. Even though to this point Jehoshaphat had acted naÔvely and impulsively, he had enough spiritual sense to ask for some input from those who could give the kings some divine guidance before they embarked upon this military excursion (v. 4). Ahab may have expected such a request, for he produced no fewer than four hundred prophets who unanimously encouraged the kings to go into battle (v. 5).

18:6–7. Apparently it was clear to Jehoshaphat that this group, while large, was less than representative of the mind of the Lord. More than likely, they were employed by Ahab expressly to tell him what he wanted to hear. Jehoshaphat asked if a prophet of the Lord could be found (v. 6). Ahab was somewhat annoyed for he knew exactly what Jehoshaphat was seeking, namely, a prophet who would speak honestly and in accord with the mind of the Lord. Ahab knew that such a prophet could be found in Micaiah, son of Imla (v. 7b) and that this prophet would not endorse his plans. Ahab complained that this man never prophesies good concerning me (v. 7). Ahab even let his personal animosity toward Micaiah slip out (I hate him) drawing an instant (perhaps involuntary) rebuke from Jehoshaphat (Let not the king say so, that is, "You should not speak that way about a prophet of the Lord").

18:8–13. The prophet Micaiah is known to biblical history only through this incident. Nevertheless, his bold declaration, As the Lord lives, what my God says, that I will speak (v. 13) indicates that he was a true prophet.

While the kings were waiting for Micaiah to be brought before them (v. 8), Ahab had his false prophets continue to prophesy success for the campaign against the Arameans. One false prophet, Zedekiah, made an impressive visual aid, some iron horns (cf. Dt 33:17) and assured the kings that they would be victorious in the coming battle (2Ch 18:10), while all the prophets continued to add their assurances as well (v. 11).

Just before Micaiah was to speak to the kings he was advised that all the other prophets had spoken favorably and that he ought to do the same (v. 12). Many a prophet and preacher has had to face the same challenge—to agree with the "majority" or to speak the Word of God in truth and with courage. Micaiah assured his advisor that he intended to do the latter.

18:14–15. When he was called upon to give his prophetic answer to the question—to go to battle or to refrain (v. 14a)—he must have surprised everyone by his words Go up and succeed (v. 14b). His sarcasm, however, must have been clearly evident to everyone for Ahab admonished Micaiah to tell him the truth—that is, to speak to me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord (v. 15). Ironically, it was Ahab who is adamant to have the prophet of the Lord speak the truth of the Lord. He probably insisted on this to prove his earlier claim that Micaiah never spoke good concerning him (v. 7, 17).

18:16–22. Micaiah forthrightly prophesied the defeat of this alliance. In a poetic verse, he saw that all Israel (a key term for the Chronicler that indicated both nations) would be scattered … like sheep which have no shepherd (v. 16a)—a clear prediction that these kings, as well as their nations, would be defeated. Then, in an intriguing description of the heavenly courts, Micaiah explained that God sent the false prophets to entice Ahab to undertake this war with the precise end of having Ahab fall at Ramoth-gilead (v. 19). The scene would have been particularly interesting to the Chronicler’s readers as it was an insight into the "behind the scenes" work of the Lord to accomplish His purposes. Sometimes what seems like disaster from a human perspective is actually the Lord’s work to accomplish His ends.

18:23–27. In a stunning breach of decorum, the false prophet Zedekiah struck Micaiah a blow to the face and boldly claimed that his prophecy was not of the Lord (v. 23). This act of violence itself indicated "that the Holy Spirit was not present with him (James 3:17)" (Payne, "2 Chronicles," 4:499). Micaiah’s restrained and confident response showed that the Spirit was indeed with him (Gl 5:23; cf. Rm 12:17–19). Micaiah was promptly imprisoned by Ahab and treated harshly (2Ch 18:25–26). Micaiah’s faith (like that of Daniel) was tested, but he expressed only assurance. He knew that his words were true and that Zedekiah would come to understand that (and be afraid, v. 24) and that Ahab would not return at all. His bold challenge, Listen, all you people (v. 27b) sounded like Elijah’s challenge to exactly the same king and kingdom (cf. 1Kg 18:20–24).

c. Alliance in Defeat (18:28–34)

18:28–34. The account of the battle and defeat at Ramoth-gilead centered on the two kings—Ahab and Jehoshaphat. In a brazen display of duplicity mixed with cowardice, Ahab suggested he be disguised while Jehoshaphat was to go into battle with his full regalia (v. 29). The effect of this was predictable—the enemy would concentrate their forces on Jehoshaphat, identified as the king (v. 30), while Ahab could go undetected. However, the Lord thwarted this wicked plan. In a subtle change from his source (of 1Kg 22), the Chronicler noted that when Jehoshaphat was attacked and he cried out (1Kg 22:32b), the Lord helped him, and God diverted them from him (v. 31b). Furthermore, in one of the most poignant instances of divine providence over apparently insignificant events, there was a certain man, that is, no man in particular, drew his bow at random, that is, with no particular target, and shot his arrow in such a way that it not only hit the disguised Ahab but found a joint of the armor (v. 33a), inflicting what Ahab knew instantly to be a mortal wound (v. 33b). God delivered the king who cried out to Him, and God judged the king who defied Him.

d. Alliance and King Rebuked (19:1–3)

19:1–3. The events themselves were a rebuke of Jehoshaphat and exposed the folly of his unholy alliance with Ahab. Therefore, the Lord sent the prophet Jehu, the son of the prophet Hanani (who had rebuked his father Asa, for much the same folly of unholy alliances; cf. 16:7–10) to drive home the point. Help, love, and hate are terms related to covenant relationships. The principle behind Jehu’s words is that one cannot love the Lord and ally with those who hate Him (19:2)—one cannot serve two masters (see the comments on Mt 6:24). This can only result in wrath from the Lord (v. 2b) in chastisement. This was strong language, but it was necessary to make the point to subsequent kings—faithfulness to the Lord is not optional. The rebuke by Jehu was mitigated by Jehoshaphat’s previous reforms (v. 3), and it appeared to be the impetus for the reforms that followed.

4. Jehoshaphat’s Reforms (19:4–11)

Jehoshaphat had the right attitude (a heart to seek God, v. 3b), and he responded to the rebuke of Jehu with reforms intended to strengthen his kingdom.

a. Spiritual Renewal (19:4)

19:4. The note in v. 4 is intended to indicate that Jehoshaphat not only carried out his reforms in the capital city, but he also extended them into the rural regions of his kingdom. His desire was to bring all the people back to the Lord, the God of their fathers. The constant need to return is a recurring theme for the Chronicler (and no doubt a need for God’s people of any era).

b. Judges Appointed (19:5–7)

19:5–7. To accomplish his goal of spiritual renewal Jehoshaphat appointed judges (v. 5; how this would assist in the renewal, see the comments on vv. 8–11). These judges were to work comprehensively (in the land in all the fortified cites of Judah, city by city; v. 5), conscientiously (for the Lord, in the presence of the Lord, with the fear of the Lord upon them, v. 6), and without partiality (v. 7).

c. Levites and Priests Appointed (19:8–11)

19:8–11. Apparently, the task of the judges out "in the land" (19:5) was like "small claims" or a "regional court," while the task of the Levites and priests and heads of the fathers in Jerusalem (v. 8) was like a "superior court" or "appeals court." The values imposed on the judges were reiterated and given more specific elaboration (vv. 9–10). Both spiritual (all that pertains to the Lord) and secular (all that pertains to the king) matters were to be taken up by these courts and resolved with integrity (v. 11b). Both the mere external organization of these courts and the signal values that were to guide them would have been of keen interest to the Chronicler’s generation as they sought to forge a just and viable society in the postexilic period.

5. Jehoshaphat Faced Invasion and War with Prayer, Faith (20:1–30)

The narrative of the next major event in the reign of Jehoshaphat is introduced rather abruptly in 2Ch 20:1. The invasion by the forces of Moab, Ammon, and the Meunites (local tribes from the vicinity of Mount Seir, close to Petra in Edom, southeast of the Dead Sea; cf. 20:10) was itself unexpected and a shock to the nation. However, this account is exemplary of true faith under fire and depicts Jehoshaphat as the ideal Davidic king—a man who seeks God, a man of eloquent prayer and sincere faith.

a. Surprise Invasion from the South (20:1–2)

20:1–2. The route these forces took was from the eastern regions around the southern end of the Dead Sea. By the time news of their advance had reached Jehoshaphat, they were in Engedi, about halfway up the western side of the Dead Sea (20:2). They were a formidable force, a great multitude. This surprise attack found Jehoshaphat with little time for preparations and vulnerable, so the king was afraid (20:3a).

b. Spiritual Response by King (20:3–19)

Jehoshaphat’s response was nearly as surprising as the invasion itself—but it showed him as an ideal Davidic King, a man of committed faith, and an exemplary leader of the nation whose God is the Lord.

20:3–4. Jehoshaphat may have been afraid, but he was not paralyzed with fear. He initially responded by calling for a fast in all Judah (v. 3). His previous programs to teach the Word in "all the cities of Judah" (17:9) and to appoint judges in all the cities (19:5) prepared the whole country. That the entire nation was well grounded in the Word and unified in its values is indicated by the repetition of the phrase all Judah (20:3, 13, 15, 18; cf. vv. 4, 17, 20, 27). They responded to the king’s call and they gathered to seek the Lord (see Introduction: Purpose and Themes in 1 Chronicles) a signal feature of the ideal Davidic king (v. 4).

20:5–13. Besides the call to fast, Jehoshaphat offered a remarkable and exemplary public prayer (v. 5), heard by all but primarily directed to the Lord (v. 6). At the outset, Jehoshaphat acknowledged the Lord’s sovereignty, noting His rule over the nations and His power and might over all (v. 6). Also, the king recognized the Lord’s covenantal relationship to Israel, noting that He is the God of our fathers (v. 6a), the friend of Abraham (v. 7), and the One who promised the land, driving out the Canaanites to give it to the descendants of Abraham … forever (v. 7). Jehoshaphat then recalled the faithfulness of the nation to live to the Lord in this land—evidenced by the construction of a sanctuary (the temple) for Your name (v. 8). Next, Jehoshaphat recalled Solomon’s prayer (at the dedication of the temple, cf. 2Ch 6:20, 28–31), asking for deliverance from our distress (v. 9). All of this was intended to say to the Lord, "You have the power, You made the promise, Your name is our concern"—Your name is in this house (v. 9)—the temple. In short, Jehoshaphat’s main concern was the name—the reputation and honor—of the Lord. The invaders needed to be repelled for God to keep His promises and to uphold His name among the nations.

Accordingly, Jehoshaphat prayed specifically about this threat from the sons of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir (v. 10a). These nations had been spared at the time of the conquest (v. 10b; cf. Nm 20:14–21) but were now seeking to thwart God’s intention to give Israel this land as an inheritance (v. 11). For this act of ingratitude and attempt to thwart God’s purposes, Jehoshaphat implored the Lord, will You not judge them? (v. 12a). The king further acknowledged His nation’s inability and cast himself and his whole kingdom at the mercy of the Lord—our eyes are on You (v. 12b). The poignant note in v. 13 that all Judah—men, women, and children—stood before the Lord, captured the sense of faith and hope of the nation as a whole in this time of distress. The point was clear: "We are powerless—so You, Lord, must fight for us." No doubt such a prayer echoed the faith and feelings of the Chronicler’s generation as well.

20:14–17. The nation’s faith and hope were rewarded with a word from the Lord through Jahaziel (v. 14b) who was a Levite (v. 14c). In true prophetic fashion, the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel (v. 14a), and he spoke the actual words of the Lord (v. 15a). In one of the great clarion calls to faith, the Lord told His people, (1) Listen to Me (v. 15b); (2) Do not fear them (v. 15c), because (3) the battle is not yours (v. 15d) but God’s. They could be sure that in spite of their weakness, they were strong (cf. 2Co 12:10) because the Lord intended to fight for them. The people were instructed to place themselves where they could observe the battle (2Ch 20:16, 17b), but it was reiterated that they were not to fight (v. 17a). They were given the supreme promise of security and victory—for the Lord is with you (v. 17c). The Chronicler no doubt wanted the reader to see this as another of the great instances of the Lord’s promise to defend and preserve the nation (cf. Ex 14:13–14; Dt 20:4; 1Sm 17:37)—this was a promise the Chronicler’s generation needed to hear and to trust.

20:18–19. The response to the Word of the Lord was, appropriately, humble worship (v. 18) and vociferous praise (v. 19).

c. A Stunning Victory and Triumph (20:20–30)

20:20–23. The king and the people prepared for the battle itself in several steps. First, they obeyed the Word of the Lord (they went out to the designated location, v. 20a). Second, Jehoshaphat again encouraged them to put their trust in the Lord your God and in His prophets (His Word to them) (v. 20b). Finally, they appointed "song and praise leaders" for the people and the army (v. 21). Apparently, these were the official singers (1Ch 25) and were to wear their holy attire (2Ch 20:21b; cf. 1Ch 16:29). This battle strategy was similar in intent, if not in form, to that of Gideon (Jdg 7), for the singers were to lead the army in a chorus of thanksgiving to the Lord (2Ch 20:21c)!

Once the singers had begun (v. 22a) confusion in the enemy forces was created, and they began to fight among themselves. Apparently, certain forces of the enemy had been positioned (intentionally by the enemy, providentially by the Lord; v. 22b) to ambush the army of Israel. However these forces were set upon by other enemy forces so that they rose up against each other (v. 23a) and they helped to destroy one another (v. 23b).

20:24–30. By the time Jehoshaphat and the army arrived on the scene, the destruction of the enemy was so complete (v. 24) that all he and the people had to do was pick up the spoils (v. 25). Days later they returned from the scene of destruction (now called The Valley of Beracah, v. 26, "blessing") to Jerusalem with joy and appropriately rejoiced in the temple (v. 28), for the Lord had given them victory. The news of this victory (as with others in the nation’s history) spread to the surrounding nations and ushered in a time of peace (v. 30). The Chronicler was careful to emphasize that the nations knew that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel (v. 29b) and it was God who gave the king rest on all sides (v. 30). In contrast to the failed alliance with Ahab, Jehoshaphat had learned that absolute trust in the Lord was well placed and that only the Lord can bring the peace, prosperity, and security that the nation sought. This was a lesson the Chronicler’s generation and all generations of God’s people needed to know.

6. Jehoshaphat’s Sad Ending (20:31–37)

20:31–37. The Chronicler finished his record of Jehoshaphat’s reign with the typical concluding formula (vv. 31–33) and an atypical additional paragraph (vv. 35–37). In the latter the Chronicler recorded the sad fact that Jehoshaphat made yet another unwise alliance, this time with Ahaziah, the king of Israel. Jehoshaphat made an unwise economic alliance involving trade ships to Tarshish (v. 36), and the Lord sent the prophet Eliezer to tell him that the Lord had determined to thwart the enterprise. As a result, the ships were broken (v. 37) and the alliance came to nothing. The Chronicler was informing his readers that sometimes God thwarts the plans of men for His purposes—and that those purposes are ultimately gracious.

The record of Jehoshaphat’s end was, therefore, mixed. He is credited with walking in the way of his father Asa (no doubt, thinking of the positive elements of Asa’s reign) (v. 32). Yet, he did not undertake the reforms sufficiently to direct the hearts of the people completely back to the God of their fathers (v. 33b). His 25-year reign included some of the highest points of faith in the Lord and lowest points of failure to trust in the Lord.

E. Three Who Were "Bad" (Jehoram, Ahaziah, Athaliah) (21:1–23:15)

1. Jehoram Succeeded Jehoshaphat (21:1–3)

21:1–3. Upon the death of Jehoshaphat his son Jehoram became sole king in Judah (v. 1b, 3b). Before he died Jehoshaphat had made arrangements to secure his firstborn son’s kingdom by the wise and judicial distribution of his wealth and power among his other sons. He gave Jehoram’s brothers (v. 2) jurisdiction over the fortified cites (v. 3b) and the wealth necessary to administer them (v. 3a). The fortified cities were the border cities and settlements that provided the first line of defense of the kingdom. Having one’s own brothers as the "border guards" should have been a source of security for Jehoram.

2. Jehoram’s Evil and the Lord’s Faithfulness (21:4–7)

21:4–6. Instead of building on the security left to him by his godly father, Jehoram committed several acts of evil. First, he slaughtered his brothers (v. 4) apparently in a foolish and wicked attempt to secure his throne from all potential rivals. Second, his eight-year reign (v. 5) was patterned, not after that of his godly father Jehoshaphat, but, generally in the way of the kings of Israel (v. 6) and specifically after his wicked father-in-law, Ahab. Here, the disaster of Jehoshaphat’s alliance with Ahab (cf. 18:1) was brought home with terrible force. Years of wicked rule followed, and the nation suffered long after Jehoshaphat had passed from the scene. This lesson would not be lost on the Chronicler’s generation, as it had suffered much for the sin and ungodliness of their national forbearers. Furthermore, Jehoram, in the pattern of the kings of the northern tribes, was the first king of Judah to actually establish places of idolatry (20:11). Finally, Jehoram’s reign was characterized by the sweeping and devastating statement he did evil in the sight of the Lord (v. 6).

21:7. Nevertheless, the Chronicler was quick to add that in spite of this particular king’s wickedness, the Lord remained faithful to His promise to David (v. 7). The Davidic covenant had its inviolability as a key provision. God would keep His promises to David and the nation even if a king sinned. However, a wicked king or a faithless generation might be denied the blessings and privileges of that covenant. There is blessing for obedience and humble godliness—there is chastisement for disobedience and prideful wickedness. Jehoram was a classic example of the latter.

3. Jehoram’s Punishment (21:8–19a)

a. The Revolts of Edom and Libnah (21:8–11)

21:8–11. The revolts of Edom and Libnah (vv. 8, 10b; Libnah was a "semi-Philistine city … in the vicinity of Gath" [Payne, "1 Chronicles," 506]) were directly attributed to Jehoram’s having forsaken the Lord God of his fathers (v. 10c). Instead of the security from such revolts that he might have enjoyed had he enlisted his brothers in the fortified cities, Jehoram had to endure this sort of rebellion for the duration of his reign (cf. v. 10a). Even though he was able to fend off such revolts (v. 9) he failed to enjoy the security and prosperity of the Lord’s promise to a Davidic king.

b. Letter from Elijah (21:12–15)

21:12–15. Normally a letter from the Lord’s prophet would be cause for joy—for Jehoram it was a prelude to more chastisement. Elijah is not mentioned elsewhere in Chronicles. But this is not surprising since his ministry was to the northern kingdom. Contrary to the conclusion of some critics, it was not impossible for Elijah to write such a letter since he was still alive during Jehoram’s reign (cf. 2Kg 1:17; see Payne, "2 Chronicles," 506). Also, since Jehoram acted like one of the kings of Israel, it should be expected that he would attract the attention of the greatest prophetic opponent of those kings.

Elijah’s rebuke went right to the heart of Jehoram’s wickedness: he had failed to pattern his life and reign after godly kings of Judah (Asa, Jehoshaphat, v. 12b), while he did follow the way of the kings of Israel (v. 13a) and the house of Ahab (v. 13b). His idolatry and fratricide were specifically condemned (v. 13). For these iniquities he and his kingdom were to suffer: the nation was to experience great calamity (v. 14b), and he was to suffer a debilitating disease in his bowels (v. 15).

c. Punishments of the Letter (21:16–19a)

21:16–19a. The great calamity predicted by Elijah came in the form of yet another attack from foreign powers—the Philistines and the southern Arabs (v. 16). Once again, Jehoram’s killing of his brothers was shown to be a short sighted and disastrous policy because it left the fortified border cities exposed. Those nations invaded and carried away all of his possessions and most of his family (v. 17). The disease predicted by Elijah (likely some form of dysentery) also came upon Jehoram and (described by the Chronicler in particularly graphic terms) eventually took his life (vv. 18–19a).

4. Jehoram’s End (21:19b–20)

21:19b–20. The Chronicler recorded Jehoram’s end with intentional brevity, in effect serving as a commentary on his repugnance toward this king. Jehoram received none of the customary honors accorded a deceased king. At his funeral there was no fire (no honorary funeral fire) and no regret (v. 20b). Moreover, as a final indignity, although he was buried in Jerusalem, he was not interred in the royal cemetery (v. 20c). In effect, the Chronicler’s conclusion was that Jehoram was not a legitimate (even if he was a legal) member of the Davidic line.

5. Reign of Ahaziah (22:1–9)

The reigns of both Ahaziah, Jehoram’s only surviving son (v. 1; cf. 21:17b; "Jehoahaz" was another name for Ahaziah; cf. 1Ch 23:25), and Athaliah, Jehoram’s wife (granddaughter of Omri [2Ch 22:2b], daughter of Ahab [21:6b], mother to Ahaziah [22:10]) were recorded to show the consequences of Jehoram’s terrible reign, and even further as consequences of the disastrous alliance Jehoshaphat had made with Ahab (cf. 18:1). The Chronicler viewed them as aberrations of the Davidic line, lacking full legitimacy. Both of these monarchs were essentially usurpers from the house of Ahab (cf. 22:3, 4, 7, 8), and their reigns were characterized by the same wickedness and evil as that of Ahab (vv. 3, 4).

a. Ahaziah Is Made King (22:1–4)

22:1–4. Ahaziah began his reign as a young man, only 22 years old (v. 2) and with no one from his father’s side of the family to counsel him (v. 1). With only those from his mother’s side of the family remaining, they, including his mother, counseled him to do wickedly (v. 3b), that is, to reign after the way of the wicked Ahab.

b. Ahaziah’s Alliance with Jehoram of Israel (22:5–6)

22:5–6. Following the counsel of his family from the north, Ahaziah made yet another disastrous alliance with the northern kingdom, this time with Jehoram ("Joram," vv. 5c, 7) of Israel (v. 5), not to be confused with Jehoram of Judah, Ahaziah’s deceased father. With this alliance, like that of his grandfather Jehoshaphat, the kings undertook to battle the Arameans once again at Ramoth-gilead (v. 5; cf. 18:8). As before, the king of Israel (Joram/Jehoram) was severely wounded and the battle was (presumably) lost. Apparently Ahaziah had not gone to the battle, but he did go to visit and support his wounded and ailing uncle Jehoram (22:6), whose sister Athaliah was Ahaziah’s mother (cf. 21:6; 22:2–3). This indicates that Ahaziah was lending Jehoram the support and aid of Judah. Jezreel was located "at the head of the Esdraelon Valley, where … Ahab’s palace was located" (1Kg 21:1) (Payne, "1 Chronicles," 508).

c. Ahaziah’s Destruction (22:7–9)

22:7–9. The information supplied by the Chronicler is abbreviated (cf. 2Kg 9; for the whole account and exploits of Jehu, king of the northern kingdom, see 1Kg 19:16, 17) but sufficient to make the point that Ahaziah should not have made this alliance or offered his aid to Jehoram. This was so because the Lord had determined to destroy Jehoram and then turn the kingdom over to Jehu (2Ch 22:7b; 2Kg 9:6, 7). In effect, Ahaziah had made himself and his court a target of the vengeful Jehu (2Ch 22:8). Apparently, Ahaziah escaped the first wave of executions but was eventually caught and slain by Jehu (v. 9a). The Chronicler’s association of Ahaziah with Jehoshaphat (v. 9b) is surprising but was included to demonstrate that no king of Judah had followed the way of Jehoshaphat who sought the Lord with all his heart (v. 9c). As a result of Ahaziah’s death, there was no one to reign in Judah (v. 9d). The foolishness of Jehoshaphat’s earlier alliance with Israel and the wickedness of Jehoram had brought the nation to a serious crisis.

6. The Reign of Athaliah (22:10–23:15)

The crisis of Ahaziah’s death led to one of the most troublesome eras in the nation’s history and brought the only regnant queen of Judah to the throne. Athaliah’s reign was one of the lowest points in the history of the Davidic line.

a. Athaliah’s Bid for Power (22:10–12)

22:10–12. The appalling indifference of Athaliah at the news of her son’s death was exceeded only by her shocking cruelty and lust for power. Upon Ahaziah’s death Athaliah began a systematic campaign to eliminate the Davidic line (v. 10). In terms of the main narrative of the Chronicler the matter could not have been more serious. The line of David had been reduced to one child—Joash, the son of Ahaziah (v. 11a). If he were to be killed with the rest of the royal offspring of the house of Judah (v. 10) then the promise to David (1Ch 17:10–14) could not be fulfilled.

Remarkably, the heroine of the moment turned out to be a sister of Ahaziah, Jehoshabeath, who rescued her nephew Joash (v. 11). Thus, it was one courageous godly woman who thwarted the evil of one wicked woman. At her own personal risk, Jehoshabeath stole the infant Joash and hid him in the bedroom (v. 11)—most likely a room used for storing the bedding. The Chronicler carefully identified Jehoshabeath (daughter of King Jehoram, sister of Ahaziah and wife of Jehoiada the priest v. 11b) as the heroine. This mini-genealogy was included to subtly but emphatically note that while wickedness and evil dominated in these years, there were still some who were faithful to the Lord and trusted in His promises. Apparently, after some time, the godly couple, Jehoshabeath and her husband Jehoiada the priest, took Joash and hid him in the temple (the house of God) for the duration of the six-year reign of Athaliah (v. 12).

Once again the Chronicler had tied the promise made to David and the fortunes of his line to the temple. In fact, "the temple was the vital link in the preservation of the Davidic dynasty" (Sailhamer, First and Second Chronicles, 99). This connection was important to the Chronicler and his generation. The nation would be restored only by the remnant of the Davidic line and the restoration of the temple. Thus, "the focus of the hope of the fulfillment of God’s promise to David was centered on the temple" (Sailhamer, First and Second Chronicles, 99). In short, as long as the temple "existed" then God’s promise to David "could be fulfilled"—if the one institution (Davidic dynasty or temple) thrived, the other would as well. This was the hope of the Chronicler’s generation: by rebuilding the temple they were anticipating the revival of the Davidic promises and making the coming of Messiah possible.

b. Plan to Overthrow Athaliah and Establish Joash as King (23:1–11)

23:1–3. The plan by Jehoiada to place Joash on the throne was not without danger and required careful planning and preparation. Jehoiada first enlisted (made a covenant with) the armed forces of Judah (v. 1), and then he gathered the religious leaders (the Levites, v. 2) from all the cities of Judah. Finally he enlisted the heads of the fathers (v. 2), carefully planning and calculating the order of these enlistments. The five captains of hundreds (v. 1) were officers of "the Carites" (2Kg 11:4; or "Cherethites") who in turn were associated with the Pelethites (2Sm 20:23), all of whom were "elements of the royal guard" (Payne, "1 Chronicles," 510). That Jehoiada could make these key alliances demonstrated that Athaliah had little popular support in the nation. An assembly of all the parties was called and a covenant was made with the king—Joash—in the temple (v. 3a). In a dramatic moment in the history of the nation, Jehoiada proclaimed, Behold, the king’s son shall reign, and he invoked the promise the Lord has spoken concerning the sons of David (v. 3b; cf. 1Ch 17:1–14).

23:4–11. Still, the dramatic proclamation needed to be backed up with action. Jehoiada divided his forces strategically so as to prevent access to the temple and to protect the young king (vv. 4–7). He gave the defenders of the true king the weapons of King David (v. 9b) that had been stored in the temple, and they formed an impenetrable human mass, making access to the king impossible (vv. 8–10). Finally, surrounded by the imposing forces of the armed Levites, Joash was brought into public view and crowned king. He was anointed and received the traditional adulation, Long live the king (v. 11b). The drama of the historic event and the significance of the preservation of the Davidic line made this a coronation of unusual importance for the Chronicler. That is the reason he provided more details for this coronation than any other in his books.

c. Death of Athaliah (23:12–15)

23:12–15. The adulation and celebration of the people (v. 13c) inevitably came to the attention of Athaliah (v. 12a). However, Jehoiada’s preparations were impeccable, and by the time she understood what was happening it was too late for her to prevent the ascension of Joash. Her futile (and ironically illegitimate) cry of Treason! (v. 13c) only served to identify her for her executioners (v. 14). Her ignominious death, like that of her mother (cf. 2Kg 9:33–37), served as a fitting reminder of the end of the wicked, and all who attempt to thwart God’s purposes.

F. Three Who Were "Mixed": Joash, Amaziah, Uzziah (23:16–26:23)

The sad and distressing era of Jehoram that ended with the death of Athaliah inaugurated an era that fluctuated between promise and failure. Each one of the next three kings began well but ended poorly. Of Amaziah it was said, "He did right in the sight of the Lord, yet not with a whole heart" (25:2), demonstrating the danger of partial spiritual devotion.

1. Reign of Joash (23:16–24:27)

The reign of Joash began with one of the most dramatic and significant events in the history of the nation—his coronation and anointing ended an era of wickedness and portended an era of faithfulness. However, the promise offered at the beginning of his reign departed by the end of it.

a. Early Reforms of Joash by Jehoiada (23:16–21)

23:16–21. The reforms Jehoiada undertook in Joash’s name followed immediately upon the death of Athaliah. The covenant inaugurated by Jehoiada amounted to a rededication of the people that they would be the Lord’s people (v. 16b)—worthy to be called "His people" (cf. 1Ch 22:18c; 23:25; 2Ch 22:11; 31:10; Ps 29:11 et al.). This would entail forsaking idolatry (2Ch 23:17), even to the extent that Mattan, a priest of Baal, was killed (cf. Dt 13:5–10) and restoring temple worship to the pattern and order established by David (2Ch 23:18; "David" is mentioned specifically twice). As was typical in the Chronicler’s narrative, temple reforms and restoration of the Davidic regnancy went hand in hand. Thus, as the reforms of the temple were put into place (v. 19), so the rightful Davidic king was placed upon the royal throne (v. 20). The end of the upheaval of the recent past and the revival initiated by Jehoiada’s covenant with the people brought about a time of rejoicing and hope for the future that the people had not known for many years (v. 21a).

b. Reign of Joash Under the Influence of Jehoiada (24:1–16)

24:1–3. The 40-year reign of Joash (v. 1) began as one of the most promising but ultimately ended as one of the most disappointing in the nation’s history. The change in Joash from the days when Jehoiada advised him to the days when he was advised by the officials of Judah (cf. v. 17) was dramatic and disastrous.

Joash began well and did what was right in the sight of the Lord (v. 2a). However, the Chronicler was quick to add that this was during all the days of Jehoiada the priest (v. 2b). This godly advisor even arranged Joash’s marriages (v. 3).

24:4–7. Once again, a favorite theme of the Chronicler is taken up as the Davidic king took a particular interest in the temple. Even as the temple had protected Joash, so now he oversaw its restoration (v. 4). Apparently, the temple had suffered not merely neglect but also vandalism and plunder during the reign of the wicked Athaliah (v. 7). At first Joash began a capital campaign (v. 5), and it seems this first effort lasted several years (as the use of the term annually in v. 5b implies; cf. 2Kg 12:6 "in the twenty-third year of King Jehoash [Joash]"). The note that the Levites did not act quickly (2Ch 24:5c) was a mild rebuke, but it made the point clearly—in some fashion the involvement of the Levites had slowed the collection of the revenues. Joash asked Jehoiada to explain the reason the revenues had not been collected according to the levy (tax) of Moses (cf. Ex 30:12–16). While the Chronicler recorded no detailed explanation, it seems apparent that the regular and prescribed revenues simply were not being collected efficiently.

24:8–14. Rather than accept this circumstance, Joash embarked upon a unique method of raising the necessary funds to restore the temple. Instead of depending on the priests and Levites to collect the revenues, Joash placed a large chest with an opening in the lid (cf. 2Kg 12:9) just outside the main gate of the temple (2 Ch 24:8). He instructed the officials and all the people (vv. 9–10) to place the Mosaic levies in this chest. When it was sufficiently full, this chest would be brought to the king, the monies collected, and the chest returned to its spot (v. 11). Apparently, this arrangement worked well, and soon the king hired the skilled workers and craftsmen needed to repair the house of the Lord (God) (vv. 12–14, the phrase "house of the Lord/God" appears six times in these three verses).

This scene would have appealed to the Chronicler as he sought to encourage his own generation to a similar respect and concern for the temple. The workers’ efficient progress (v. 13a) contrasted with the Levites’ inefficiency and resulted in the restoration of the temple (house of God) according to its specifications (v. 13b), meaning, according to its original design and purpose (cf. 1Ch 28:11ff.). Joash’s fund-raising method was so successful that there were sufficient funds left over to restore the utensils for the temple service (2Ch 24:14a). The note concerning the burnt offerings (v. 14c) marked the high point of Joash’s reign and was a warning to the Chronicler’s generation—the revival of the temple service should not be taken for granted.

24:15–16. How soon Jehoiada died after the temple’s restoration was not indicated but two facts related to his death were noted: first, Jehoiada lived a long life—he was one hundred and thirty years old at his death (v. 15). Such length of years at this point in history was unusual but not impossible (cf. Payne, "2 Chronicles," 4:514–15) and was recorded to emphasize the Lord’s favor on such a significant figure. Second, he was buried in the royal cemetery—an unusual privilege for a priest but again, indicative of his importance and of the Lord’s favor on him because he had done well in Israel and to God and His house (v. 16). This was in marked contrast to Joash’s own fate (cf. v. 25c).

c. Reign of Joash after the Death of Jehoiada (24:17–22)

Few people in that day would have imagined that the death of Jehoiada could have precipitated the disastrous events that followed. It would have been predictable to assume that his years of influence on Joash would have carried the young king through many years of a godly and successful reign. Sadly, such was not the case. The Chronicler recorded the end of Joash’s reign with a sharp brevity that conveyed a note of disappointment and a warning, reminding of the danger of secondhand faith.

24:17–18. Reminiscent of Rehoboam’s foolishness (listening to foolish advice, cf. 10:6ff.), Joash listened (v. 17, in the sense of took their advice favorably) to those advising him to reinstitute idolatry. The Chronicler provided no details about this sad turn of events, only that they abandoned the house of the Lord and turned to the Asherim (Canaanite female fertility goddesses) and the idols (v. 18a). This brought swift and terrible consequences—the wrath of the Lord (v. 18b).

24:19–22. The pattern—apostasy followed by an appeal from the Lord’s prophets—was well known to the Chronicler’s readers, and the outcome was predictable. The prophets advised repentance, but they (the king and his advisors) would not listen (v. 19b). The lesson to the Chronicler’s generation was "take care to whom you listen."

One of the prophets sent to the king and the nation was Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest (v. 20); "clothed" with the Spirit of God (v. 20a) Zechariah’s message was in the form of a rhetorical question: Why do you transgress the commandments (v. 20b)? The simple incoherence of the act of idolatry was the point of this question—"What does idolatry do for you?" It actually caused the nation to not prosper (v. 20c) and their forsaking of the Lord led to His forsaking of them (20:20d; on "forsaking the Lord" see Introduction: Purpose and Themes in 1 Chronicles). However, like another generation of Israel, who heard the preaching of another Zechariah (son of Berechiah) they refused to listen (Zch 7:11, 13). In a shocking act of retaliation, the people conspired against (2 Ch 24:21a) the prophet of God. Then, with the complicity of Joash himself (against the prophet Zechariah, the son of his former, faithful mentor, Jehoiada) they stoned him (Zechariah) to death (v. 21b). To add to the repugnance of the act, it was accomplished in the court of the house of the Lord (v. 21c) adding desecration (of the same temple he had done so much to restore) to Joash’s act of betrayal. To make sure that the reader did not miss the heinousness of Joash’s duplicity toward Jehoiada, the Chronicler added the shocking conclusion—but he murdered his son (v. 22a).

Zechariah’s final prayer—May the Lord see and avenge (v. 22b) was not one of forgiveness (cf. Stephen Ac 7:60; cf. Lk 23:34) but of vengeance. However, he was not seeking personal revenge—it was an imprecatory prayer asking for justice, not for himself, but from the Lord for His prophet (cf. Dt 32:35; Ps 94:1; Rm 12:19). Jesus’ mention of "the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah" (Mt 23:35) has often been understood to refer to the murder of Zechariah, indicating guilt from the beginning of the Bible (Genesis, wherein Abel’s murder is recorded) to the end (2 Chronicles, the last book of the Hebrew canon wherein Zechariah’s murder was recorded). Yet there is a difficulty because Jesus called Zechariah "the son of Berechiah," and 2 Chronicles identifies him as "the son of Jehoida." Possible explanations for this discrepancy are: (1) perhaps Zechariah was the son of a Berechiah who was unmentioned and Jehoida was actually his grandfather; (2) perhaps a NT copyist confused Jesus’ reference with the more famous prophet who was the son of Berechiah (see Zch 1:1) and mistakenly changed the text, so it was transmitted incorrectly; (3) perhaps Jesus was not referring to this incident in 2 Chronicles at all but referring to the prophet Zechariah, whose execution was not recorded in Scripture (Payne, "2 Chronicles," 515).

d. The Lord’s Judgment upon Joash: Defeat and Disease (24:23–27)

24:23–24. Once again the Lord’s judgment took the form of an invasion from Israel’s enemies—here the Arameans (v. 23). Now it happened is a subtle way of saying "It did not just happen" but that the Lord was acting and was, in fact, exhibiting His wrath (cf. v. 18b). The Chronicler noted specifically that this calamity befell those who were the instigators of the idolatry—all the officials of the people (v. 23a) and that the calamity was devastating (v. 23b). The notice that the Arameans had the inferior force compared to Israel’s very great army (v. 24a) indicates that this was not merely a defeat by a determined enemy but a judgment because they had forsaken the Lord (v. 24b). Once again the principle is illustrated—seeking the Lord brings blessing, while forsaking the Lord brings judgment (v. 24c).

24:25–27. The judgment was not limited to a national calamity. It also brought personal tragedy to Joash. Apparently, Joash was very sick (ESV "wounded;" the word can refer to the consequences of being injured in battle; cf. 2Kg 8:29) and confined to his bed after this defeat. This gave opportunity for those who resented his part in Zechariah’s death to exact their revenge (2Ch 24:25). Since Joash had "conspired" against Zechariah, so his own servants conspired against him (v. 25a) and they murdered him. The naming of the servants indicates that they did not attempt to hide their involvement in the crime and they may have considered it a just act of retribution (v. 26). The final indignity for Joash was that he was not buried in the royal cemetery (v. 25b), an indication (in contrast to Asa, cf. 16:13–14) that the ungodliness of his latter reign overshadowed the good that he had done during the days of Jehoiada (v. 27).

2. The Reign of Amaziah (25:1–28)

The reign of Amaziah is well summarized: "He did right in the sight of the Lord, yet not with a whole heart" (25:2). The term "whole" (salem) means "complete, perfect, sound." To have a whole heart would mean (among other things) a "steadfast heart" (cf. Ps 57:7), an "upright heart" (cf. Ps 97:11), an "obedient heart" (cf. Ps 119:112), and a "devoted-to-God" heart (cf. Ps 9:1; 119:10, 69, 145). In effect, much of Amaziah’s reign was a mixture of listening to, and submitting to the Word of God (the law, 2Ch 25:4a, or the word of a prophet, 25:7ff.) but also of rash decisions and self-serving pride.

"The date of Amaziah’s reign is a seemingly intractable problem." (Selman, 2 Chronicles, 459) In brief, the reference to his reign of twenty-nine years (v. 1; 2Kg 14:2) cannot be easily reconciled with the numbers from 2Kg 15:1, that is his 29-year reign added to the 52-year reign of his son Uzziah yields too many years when compared to the (northern kingdom) reigns of Jeroboam II (2Kg 14:23) and his son Zechariah (2Kg 15:8). "Jeroboam had a reign of forty-one years (2Kg 14:23), so his death occurred fourteen years after the death of Amaziah in Jeroboam’s twenty-seventh year; however, when Zechariah succeeded Jeroboam II, Uzziah was already in his thirty-eighth year of reign" (Dillard, 2 Chronicles, 198). The solution seems to be that Amaziah reigned only five years before Uzziah became his coregent (cf. Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, 63–64). This long coregency may have been caused by the capture of Amaziah by Jehoash (2Ch 25:23). That would further indicate that the two wars of Amaziah occurred in the first five years of his reign.

a. Amaziah’s Reign Began with an Act of Reprisal (25:1–4)

25:1–4. One of Amaziah’s first acts was to exact vengeance (or justice depending on one’s perspective) on those who had murdered his father Joash (v. 3). The Chronicler notes, however, that Amaziah did not kill the offender’s families (as would have been customary in such cases at the time). This clemency was a result of Amaziah’s observance of the law in the book of Moses (v. 4a) that the offender alone, not the father or the son of the offender, shall be put to death for his own sin (v. 4b; Dt 24:16). "God’s mercy to thousands far exceeds his judgment to the third and fourth generations; cf. Ex. 20:5–6." (Selman, 2 Chronicles, 459).

b. Amaziah’s Battle with the Sons of Seir (Edom) (25:5–13)

25:5–8. Next, Amaziah began military preparations with intention to do battle with the sons of Seir (Edom) (cf. 25:11). A census of the able-bodied men in his kingdom revealed that Amaziah’s forces were seriously depleted (300,000) from those in the days of Jehoshaphat (nearly 1.2 million, v. 5; cf. 17:14–19) and so, at great expense, he hired mercenaries from the northern kingdom of Israel (v. 6). This act was not acceptable to the Lord (for the Lord is not with Israel), so a man of God (v. 7), a prophet, brought a message to Amaziah to urge him to reconsider this action. Verse 8 appears confusing (probably because modern readers are not prepared for how the Lord’s prophets use sarcasm). In effect the prophet was telling Amaziah that if he chose to go to battle with these mercenaries he should be prepared to be strong for the battle on his own because the Lord was not going to be helping him—in fact, he is told God will bring you down before the enemy (v. 8b)—he would loose the battle! The phrase for God has power to help and to bring down (v. 8c) means He, the Lord makes the winners win, and the losers lose. In short, if he wanted to win this battle Amaziah needed to send the mercenaries away.

25:9–10. Amaziah was apparently open to this, but he was concerned that the money already paid for the mercenaries would be lost (v. 9a). The man of God dismissed such concerns by reminding the king that the resources of the Lord were not limited to such pecuniary matters (v. 9b)—he was to cut his losses and dismiss these mercenaries. So Amaziah dismissed his hired troops, much to their displeasure (v. 10). Here again, the estimate of Amaziah is mixed as he readily turned away from his rash act of hiring mercenaries. However, the ill will this action created with the troops from the north had a devastating effect: even as Amaziah was engaged in fighting the Edomites in the south, these troops raided and despoiled the cities of Judah in the northern parts of Judah (v. 13). Beth-horon was a settlement about a dozen miles northwest of Jerusalem in the Valley of Aijalon and lay along one of the few good routes through the hill country between the north and south—it should have been protected. Amaziah may have avoided an outright defeat but his initial rash action of hiring the mercenaries still brought about calamitous results.

25:11–13. Thus reassured by the man of God, Amaziah went on the offensive and met the enemy in the Valley of Salt (v. 11), near the southern end of the Dead Sea. The defeat of the Edomites was complete with 10,000 of them killed in battle and another 10,000 captured and executed (v. 12). The purpose of such a gruesome spectacle was to inflict a psychological wound on the minds of the Edomites to discourage any thought of retaliation.

c. Amaziah’s Idolatry (25:14–16)

25:14. After defeating the Edomites, Amaziah, in a further rash act, retrieved their idols and set them up as his gods and bowed down to them (v. 14). "This is the only explicit reference to Edomite worship in the Bible." (Selman, 2 Chronicles, 461) While it may seem to be a counterintuitive act (worship of the gods who could not bring victory to the devotees who had been worshipping them seems rather irrational), such practice was not unknown in the ancient Near East. When a nation suffered a defeat it was often taken as a sign of the displeasure of the gods with the devotion (or lack of it) by the nation. "Amaziah’s action may" have been "intended to placate the presumed anger of the Edomite gods." (Selman, 2 Chronicles, 461) Still such blatant idolatry was stunning. While it was not unheard of to take the idols of a defeated foe as plunder, it was rash and foolish to actually set them up as objects of worship (see Is 44:9–20 on the folly of idolatry).

25:15–16. The Lord’s reaction was swift and severe: Then the anger of the Lord burned against Amaziah (v. 15a). At once a prophet was dispatched to confront the foolish king (v. 15b). The unnamed prophet’s words were rightly ironic and their logic, perfect. In effect, he asked the king, "Why would you want to worship the gods of the people you just defeated? If those gods did not protect them from you, what promise do they have for protecting you?" (v. 15c). The prophet’s sarcasm must have stung Amaziah, and in the middle of his rebuke to the king, Amaziah questioned the prophet’s standing, shouted Stop! (v. 16b), and threatened the prophet (v. 16c). The disrespect shown to this prophet revealed Amaziah’s heart (cf. v. 2b), and the prophet, in a terse and chilling statement, predicted the destruction of the king (v. 16d). Once again the Chronicler’s theme is clear: those kings who heed the Word of God are blessed, those who do not are punished. The king may have stopped God’s prophet, but he could not stop God’s judgment—yet he did not listen (v. 16d; cf. v. 19).

d. Amaziah Defeated by Joash of Israel (25:17–24)

25:17–19. The exact nature of the message from Amaziah, king of Judah, to Joash, king of Israel, is unclear. It may have been a direct invitation to battle, or it may have been a (rather brash) method of diplomacy (v. 17). In either case, Joash took it as an affront and responded with a colorful but cutting "parable" (v. 18). Israel was compared to a mighty cedar tree, and Judah was compared to an insignificant thorn bush—the demands of the thorn bush were being ignored by the cedar when a wild beast came along and ignominiously trampled the bush. To make his meaning clear, Joash admonished Amaziah and said, in effect, "Just because you defeated Edom, you should not let your pride lead you to boasting and into trouble that will lead to your fall. You should stay at home and forget about conquests and battles" (v. 19).

25:20–24. The Chronicler made clear that Amaziah’s decision to ignore Joash’s sarcastic advice was from God (v. 20a) because the Lord had determined to use Joash to punish Amaziah for the latter’s idolatry (v. 20b). The description of the battle indicates that it was brief but decisive (vv. 21–22)—Amaziah was captured (v. 23a) at Beth-shemesh "fifteen miles west of Bethlehem, on Amaziah’s own picked ground" (Payne, "2 Chronicles," 519). Thus Jerusalem was deprived of her defenses (v. 23b), and much of the temple’s treasure was looted (v. 24; Obed-edom was the name of the Levitical family [cf. 1 Ch 13:13–14; 26:4] of gatekeepers and musicians). "The raid on the temple must be seen as a punishment against idolaters in line with the principles of 2 Chronicles 7:19–22." (Selman, 2 Chronicles, 464). Here again, the fortunes of the temple were tied to the fortunes of the king—and a bad king meant bad things happened to the temple.

e. Amaziah’s End (25:25–28)

25:25–28. Joash’s defeat of Amaziah left the southern kingdom defeated and depleted. Because of Amaziah’s infidelity to the Lord, he was an unpopular king, and eventually conspirators turned against him and killed him (v. 27). While he was accorded burial with his fathers in the city of Judah (v. 28) his legacy was that of the rash and prideful (cf. Pr 16:18).

3. The Reign of Uzziah (26:1–23)

The Chronicler provided the bulk of the historical information on King Uzziah (cf. 2Kg 15:1–7, called there Azariah). Pride seems to have been a family trait for Uzziah, the son of Amaziah, who followed in his fathers’ footsteps. At the outset, however, Uzziah showed great promise, and overall he fared better in the Chronicler’s estimation (as compared to the account in Kings). Still, he followed the pattern of his two predecessors—he began well, but finished poorly.

a. Uzziah’s Faithfulness (26:1–5)

26:1–5. Uzziah’s long reign of 52 years (v. 3) began with great promise when he was sixteen years old (vv. 1, 3a). After noting a minor rebuilding project (v. 2; Eloth, or Elath, was a city on the eastern border of Judah), the Chronicler made an emphatic statement: He did right in the sight of the Lord (v. 4a), and he followed the good that his father Amaziah had done (v. 4b). As an exemplary Davidic king he continued to seek God (v. 5a; see Introduction: Purpose and Themes in 1 Chronicles) and followed (yet another prophet named) Zechariah, whose understanding of the Lord and His ways had come through the vision of God (v. 5b; the identity of this Zechariah is unknown). Much as Jehoiada had done for Joash, this prophet acted as mentor and guide. A theme of the Chronicler summarizes this part of Uzziah’s reign: as long as he sought the Lord, God prospered him (v. 5c).

b. Uzziah’s Successes (26:6–15)

26:6–15. The evidence of the Lord’s prospering came early and often in Uzziah’s reign. The lists of nations Uzziah defeated (vv. 6–7; the Philistines, the Arabians, the Meunites; for the Meunites, cf. the comments on 20:1; the location of Gur-baal is uncertain, possibly southern Edom), that brought him tribute (v. 8a; the Ammonites), and that knew his fame (v. 8b; Egypt), indicated the prosperity and power he achieved. His refortification of Jerusalem (vv. 9–10a) after the shame of Amaziah’s defeat (cf. 25:23; he restored the Corner Gate that Joash had destroyed) and his refurbishing of the army (vv. 11–15b) testified to his strength and would have given the nation a solid sense of security. The note concerning the engines of war (v. 15a) indicates that Uzziah employed the most technologically advanced military of the day (cf. Payne, "2 Chronicles," 522)—perhaps a form of ancient trebuchets or catapults—the "heavy artillery" of the day. The Chronicler even included a brief note concerning his agricultural pursuits (v. 10) and gave a fleeting insight into the character of the king in the note that he loved the soil (v. 10b). This king was, literally, a down-to-earth man. In a unique and memorable summary of this period the Chronicler noted that because of all this success his fame spread afar, for he was marvelously helped until he was strong (v. 15b).

c. Uzziah’s Pride and Fall (26:16–21)

The sweep of the summary of Uzziah’s reign in the account so far, covering years and years of successes and repeated instances of the Lord’s gracious gift of prosperity to the nation, is in stark contrast to the following account of a single event that brought the end of the reign of this otherwise good king. Many years of blessing and prosperity were overshadowed by one act of vanity and pride. It was a lesson to all of the Chronicler’s readers that obedience and faithfulness must be constant and that one act of faithlessness can undermine a lifetime of service.

26:16–18. The opening words of this section indicate a disheartening turn of events: But when he become strong, his heart was so proud (v. 16a). The Chronicler first characterized the offense—he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the Lord his God (v. 16b); and then described it—for he entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense (v. 16c). This was an act exclusively reserved for the priests (cf. Ex 30:1–10; Nm 18:1–7), and Uzziah would have been well aware of that restriction. The Lord considered breaches of the priestly function in matters related to tabernacle or temple worship as extremely serious (cf. Lv 10:1–3; Nm 16:1–40; 1Ch 13:9–10). In addition, for a Davidic king to violate the temple was to betray his greatest calling—to protect and uphold the temple and its institutions. Uzziah placed himself in great danger. Azariah the priest and the eighty brave priests (valiant men) with him were not only defending the integrity of the temple, but also were showing great concern for the king (2Ch 26:17–18a). The Chronicler recorded Azariah’s rebuke to impress the reader with the specifics and seriousness of this violation (v. 18b). Azariah reinforced the character of the offense—Uzziah was being unfaithful to his calling as Davidic king and would have no honor from the Lord God (v. 18c).

26:19–21. The scene depicted was dynamic. The confrontation of the willful king with the concerned priests grew increasingly tense as the king began to add defensive anger to his willfulness and pride (v. 19a). To their horror the priests observed the judgment of the Lord befall Uzziah as leprosy broke out on his forehead (v. 19), right in front of them. "The disease [was] not leprosy as it is known today, but a general term for all kinds of skin diseases." (Selman, 2 Chronicles, 471) The shock of this brought an immediate halt to the confrontation, and the king beat a hasty retreat out of the temple (v. 20). In a note of sad irony, this king who wanted to act the part of a priest was forever cut off from the house of the Lord (v. 21b), never allowed again even to worship there, because, as leper, he was confined to a separate house (v. 21a; Lv 13:46). The rest of his reign was accomplished through his son, while he remained in isolation (2Ch 26:21c).

d. Uzziah’s End (26:22–23)

26:22–23. The Chronicler noted that the great Isaiah, the son of Amoz (v. 22) was one of his principle sources for the account of Uzziah. Uzziah’s death was the occasion of the famous vision in Is 6. While accorded some dignity for his royal personage, Uzziah was nevertheless buried in a location near (the field of the grave which belonged to the kings, v. 23b), but not actually with the other kings, this on account of his leprosy (v. 23c). Sadly, in spite of his years of prosperous rule in Judah, the main feature of Uzziah’s life, remembered for generations, was his one act of pride—an attitude contrasted with that of his biographer and mourner, Isaiah, who in the presence of the Lord cried, "Woe is me, I am ruined" (cf. Is 6:5).

G. Six Kings Alternate between "Good" and "Bad" (27:1–35:27)

As has been noted, a main theme of the Chronicler is that the when the Davidic king "seeks the Lord" there is blessing and prosperity—enjoyment of the blessings of the covenant promises. But when the king "forsakes the Lord" there is loss of blessing and chastisement for both the nation and the king. This theme is once again in focus in the accounts of the next six kings. The vacillation between "good kings" and "bad kings" was not merely a historical reality. It also provided the Chronicler the opportunity to drive the lesson home: faithfulness and obedience bring the blessing of the Lord, and disobedience brings His displeasure and loss of blessing.

The ultimate loss of blessing was the Babylonian captivity—the loss of enjoying the land itself. In these accounts the Chronicler began to foreshadow (what his generation knew all too well was) that inevitable reality. What if even the best Davidic king did not lead to the final and full promise of the Davidic covenant? What could the nation expect? The Chronicler’s generation knew the answer to that question. However, the Chronicler wanted his readers to look through this history and their own experience—beyond the history of the past and the history they were living—to an ultimate fulfillment, to a Davidic son who would fully and finally bring to fruition those blessings of the Davidic covenant. As the kings of Judah come and went, some shone brightly (Hezekiah) while others were dreadful disappointments (Manasseh). Nevertheless, the historical process, the shifting and sifting of these kings is not without a point—each, in his own way, good or bad, helped to define the ultimate Davidic king so that when He arrives, the nation will know Him, and appreciate His achievement.

1. Good: Jotham (27:1–9)

27:1–2. Jotham’s relatively brief reign was a relatively good reign. The Chronicler noted that He did right in the sight of the Lord (v. 2a) in that he followed the godly ways of his father Uzziah. In addition, he did not act unfaithfully—he did not enter the temple of the Lord (v. 2b) in disobedience as Uzziah had done (cf. 26:16b). However, the Chronicler also noted that the people continued acting corruptly (v. 2c). The corrosive influence of idolatry that had afflicted the nation during the reigns of Joash and Amaziah had not been overcome even during the long reign of Uzziah. Such are the pervasive and lasting effects of ungodliness and evil upon a nation. The Chronicler’s generation was being warned, "Do not let the evil of idolatry take root again."

27:3–5. Jotham’s reign was notable in two areas. First, he engaged in some important building projects. As a true Davidic king he took an interest in the temple—he worked on the upper (northern) gate (v. 3a) and he built extensively—that is, refurbished and extended—the wall of Ophel (v. 3b) on the southern side of the temple area, near the City of David. He also solidified the nation’s security by building (fortress or outpost) cities in the hill country of Judah (v. 4a) as well as defensive structures—fortresses and towers on the wooded hills (v. 4b). Second, Jotham was engaged in a battle with the Ammonites, and he prevailed over them (v. 5a), yielding considerable tribute in silver and produce (v. 5b).

27:6–9. The short summary of Jotham’s life—he became mighty because he ordered his ways before the Lord his God (v. 6) spoke well of the king personally. However, no revival happened in his reign. In keeping with his positive outlook and concern for the prosperity of the Davidic dynasty "The kings that interest the chronicler are those who bring revival" (Sailhamer, First and Second Chronicles, 104). Jotham was a good king but, because of his lack of positive spiritual influence, his reign fell short of the ideal for a Davidic king.

2. Bad: Ahaz (28:1–27)

The good king Jotham was followed by Ahaz, "one of the weakest and most corrupt of all the twenty rulers in Judah" (Payne, "2 Chronicles," 4:525).

a. Ahaz’s Evil Exposed (28:1–4)

28:1–4. If Jotham fell short of the ideal for a Davidic king, Ahaz was David’s complete opposite. For this reason the Chronicler reaches back to David himself when he gives the overall estimate of Ahaz—he did not do right in the sight of the Lord as David his father (v. 1b). Ahaz was the king for much of the time of the great prophet Isaiah (cf. Is 1:1; the same king to whom the prophecy of the virgin birth was delivered, cf. Is 7:14). Ahaz also reigned during the prophetic ministries of Hosea (Hs 1:1) and Micah (Mc 1:1). The Chronicler’s treatment of this king was direct—he got right to the point of Ahaz’ wickedness. "Chronicles has made Kings’ (2 Kings 16) descriptions of Ahaz’ failings much more explicit" (Selman, 2 Chronicles, 476). Ahaz was, in fact, more like the kings of the northern kingdom of Israel than like the kings of Judah (2Ch 28:2a). He blatantly engaged in Baal worship (v. 2b; Baal was the name of the most prominent of the Canaanite gods), which often included "fertility rites," i.e. sexual acts, Jr 7:31; 19:4–6). Ahaz also participated in idolatrous worship in the valley of Ben-hinnom (2Ch 28:3a)—a place of noted pagan worship and later the site of Jerusalem’s waste disposal site (cf. 2Kg 23:10. Thus it was a place of perpetual fires and ultimately a picture of hell itself, cf. the comments on Mk 9:43). Ahaz even joined in the utterly grotesque practice of child sacrifice—he burned his sons in fire (2Ch 28:3b; 2Kg 16:3). This unfathomably horrible practice was typical of the Canaanites who had been driven out of the land many years earlier (2Ch 28:3b) and was expressly forbidden in the law (cf. Lv 20:1–5). Finally, the extent of Ahaz’ idolatry was noted in that he sacrificed and burned incense … under every green tree (2Ch 28:4).

b. Ahaz Defeated in Battle (28:5–7)

28:5–7. The Chronicler noted that Ahaz was defeated by the king of Aram (Syria; v. 5a) and by the king of Israel Pekah (v. 6a; cf. 2 Kg 16:5) without even giving any notice that there was conflict between Judah and these nations. This was clearly the Lord’s retribution on Ahaz, delivering him into the hand (2Ch 28:5a, 6a) of the enemy. The nation suffered heavy casualties (vv. 5b–6a), and Ahaz lost a son and two close advisors in the battle (v. 7) because they had forsaken the Lord God of their fathers (v. 6b; see Introduction to 1 Chronicles on "forsaking the Lord").

c. Captives Experienced Mercy (28:8–15)

28:8–15. As the result of the overwhelming losses, Israel’s army had taken many captives and much spoil (v. 8). An otherwise unknown prophet of the Lord named Obed intercepted the army of Israel with a message from the Lord. In effect, his message to Israel was: "Your victory was given to you because the Lord was angry with Judah (v. 9a). However, the Lord has taken notice of the rage displayed in the execution of this act and He is not pleased (v. 9b; cf. Is 10:15–16). And now you intend to enslave these captives from Judah and Jerusalem (2Ch 28:10a; cf. Lv 25:42–46). You should think better of that, for you yourselves are not innocent of transgression against the Lord (2Ch 28:10b). You should return the captives, because the burning anger of the Lord is against you" (v. 11).

This message was immediately taken to heart, and some of the heads of the sons of Ephraim (v. 12)—who realized their own guilt before the Lord (v. 13b)—stood up to the captors and convinced them to return the captives. So effective was this appeal that the armed men turned the captives over to the civil authorities (v. 14), who promptly cared for them and provided for their repatriation (v. 15). The message of "mercy is to be shown to the innocents" was not lost on the "innocents" of the Chronicler’s generation—those repatriated captives of Judah and Jerusalem.

d. Ahaz’s Disastrous Alliance with Assyria (28:16–21)

28:16–18. As other kings had done before, Ahaz foolishly sought an alliance with Assyria—a soon-to-be serious international threat—in the face of lesser threats from Edom and the Philistines (vv. 16–18. These are all towns on the eastern side of Judah in the foothills southwest of Jerusalem). Isaiah had strenuously advised against this action (cf. Is 7:3–9) not only because it was a foolish act in geopolitical terms but also because it was, more seriously, an act of unbelief and failure to trust the Lord. The truths that, beside the Lord "there is no one … to help in battle between the powerful and those who have no strength" (cf. 2Ch 14:11) and that "God has power to help and to bring down" (cf. 25:8), were lost on Ahaz.

28:19–21. The debilitating effects of Ahaz’s evil and unfaithfulness (v. 19c) had demoralized and humbled Judah, effects brought by the Lord (v. 19a). As a result, the nation further declined morally as his policies brought about a lack of restraint (v. 19b), weakening the nation’s ability to fend off aggression from the surrounding nations. Furthermore, Ahaz’s attempt to bribe the Assyrian king (in a vain attempt to find security through compromise) accomplished nothing (v. 20–21). That Ahaz used a portion out of the house of the Lord (v. 21a) demonstrated his failure to be a true Davidic king. Soon after these events, just as Isaiah had foretold (cf. Is 7:17–8:22), Assyria destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel, took its people captive, and afflicted Judah in the days of Hezekiah.

e. Ahaz’s Evil Expanded (28:22–25)

28:22–25. Judah’s dramatic decline did not awaken repentance in Ahaz or cause him to reconsider his wicked idolatry. Instead, he persisted in and even increased his evil (v. 22). Perhaps in an attempt to appease his foes by the worship of their gods, Ahaz began to worship the gods of Damascus (v. 23a). That he attributed his defeats not to the Lord’s judgment (cf. v. 5a) but to the supposed power of the pagan gods (v. 23b) proved how far he was from the faith of his fathers. "The reverence Ahaz paid ‘to the gods of Damascus’ (v. 23) took a particular form; he sacrificed on an altar patterned after the one he found there (2 Kings 16:10–13)" (Payne, 2 Chronicles, 527). These may have been Assyrian deities. He discovered that idolatry is "futile," of "no profit" and brings all who engage in it "to shame" (cf. Is 44:9). Ahaz proved to be the quintessential anti-Davidic king when he destroyed the utensils of the temple and closed the doors of the house of the Lord (2Ch 28:24)—essentially shutting the temple down—while promoting false idolatrous worship as widely as he could (vv. 24b–25a).

f. Ahaz’s End (28:26–27)

28:26–27. In his conclusion to the Ahaz narrative, the Chronicler associated Ahaz much more with "Israel" than with "Judah." It might be said that he was a true son of Jeroboam (cf. 2Kg 17:22) and not of David. He was not accorded a place of honor in burial (2Ch 28:27b), an indication not only of his unpopularity but also his unworthiness and a sign of the Lord’s disapproval (cf. 21:20; 24:25; 28:27).

3. Excellent: Hezekiah (29:1–32:33)

The reign of Ahaz was the virtual lowest point of Davidic kingship (prior to the captivity itself). His reign gave little prospect of the revival to come under his son, the great Hezekiah. The reign of Hezekiah was a high point in the history of the nation, and the Chronicler devoted four extended chapters of his narrative to Hezekiah—more than to any other king except for David and Solomon. In stark contrast to Ahaz who "did not do right" and did not follow in the ways of David (cf. 28:1), Hezekiah proved himself an ideal Davidic king in that he "did right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done" (29:2).

Much of the material in the Chronicler’s record of Hezekiah is unique to him. The author of 2 Kings noted Hezekiah’s reforms (cf. 2Kg 18:3–4), but he did not record the restoration of the temple (2Ch 29:3ff.) or the revival of the Passover (30:1ff.).

a. Hezekiah’s Revival (29:1–31:21)

The key words and concepts describing Hezekiah’s revival are "consecrate," "cleanse" and "celebrate." "Consecration"—the setting apart as "holy," being devoted to God—was understood to be the essence of genuine revival. Hezekiah’s revival involved consecration of the priests, the temple, and the people themselves to the Lord and His service. The revival began with a restoration and cleansing of the temple from the desecration inflicted upon it by Ahaz and continued with a celebration of the sacrifices and of the long-neglected Passover.

(1) Hezekiah Reopened, Consecrated the Temple (29:1–19)

29:1–11. Hezekiah was an exemplary Davidic king, and nothing better demonstrated that than his immediate and active concern for the temple. The Chronicler emphasized that the restoration of the temple began in the first year … in the first month (v. 3a) of Hezekiah’s reign. Hezekiah wasted no time in reopening and repairing the doors of the house of the Lord that (v. 3b) that Ahaz had closed (cf. 28:24b). Rather than insist and demand by edict (from the position of an autocratic monarch), Hezekiah (in the model of a true "servant leader") enlisted those who could do the work of revival and restoration. He assembled the priests and Levites (v. 4) and gave a stirring address designed to motivate them for the work of consecration and renewal. His address began with (1) a call for consecration (v. 5; this was a call for "dedication"; qadash "to make a distinction between the common and the holy"), continued with (2) a confession of sin (vv. 6–7), was followed by (3) a description of sin’s consequences (vv. 8–9), and concluded with (4) the initiating of a covenant (v. 10) to which he enlisted those in attendance (v. 11). In keeping with one of the major themes in Chronicles, the most serious sin of the fathers was a forsaking of the temple (v. 6b), bringing the wrath of the Lord (v. 8a) and defeat by the sword (v. 9a) by the nation’s enemies. Only a renewed covenant (v. 10a) characterized by a return to devotion to the house of the Lord could turn away the burning anger of the Lord God of Israel (v. 10b). The Chronicler’s generation would no doubt have understood how this prayer applied to their experience. The sin of forsaking the Lord had led to the captivity (cf. v. 9), and the present need was seeking the Lord. Hezekiah’s words, My sons, do not be negligent now (v. 11), would have spoken as directly to the Chronicler’s readers as they did to Hezekiah’s listeners.

29:12–17. The list of names in vv. 12–14 indicates that Hezekiah’s words were effective, since many of the priests and Levites responded enthusiastically. "Kohath, Merari, and Gershon were the three clans that made up the tribe of Levi (1 Chron 6:1" (Payne, "2 Chronicles," 534). Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun were the three lines of Levitical musicians (1Ch 25:1). Elizaphan was "the leader of the Kohathites in the days of Moses" (Payne, "2 Chronicles," 534). They began the work of consecration and cleansing immediately (2Ch 29:17a—the first day of the first month; compare v. 3a). The cleansing amounted to hauling every unclean thing (v. 16b) out of the temple and disposing of it in the Kidron valley (east of the temple mount just below the Mount of Olives). The Kidron was a low point in the immediate geographical region, so the action may have been a symbolic demotion of the pagan symbols from the "high places" to the "low places" (cf. 15:16; 30:14; 2Kg 23:12). That the cleansing took 16 days (2Ch 29:17) shows the degree to which the temple had sunk into paganism under Ahaz.

29:18–19. In the end, the priests reported to Hezekiah that not only had they finished the cleansing but they also restored (vv. 18b–19) the utensils that Ahaz had previously destroyed (cf. 28:24). All of this work was accomplished according to the commandment of the king by the words of the Lord (v. 15b), that is, it was done under the direction of the Davidic king and according to the design of the temple and its services originally given to David (cf. 1Ch 28:12, 19). Once again the Chronicler emphasized the connection of the Davidic king to the temple: the prosperity of the nation depended on a Davidic king who took care to protect and preserve the temple, whereas failure in this matter would mean God’s wrath and chastisement. Although the Chronicler’s generation, as the remnant of the returning exiles, knew the truth of the latter point all too well, they would be renewed in their confidence by the narrative of Hezekiah’s revival that if they would likewise care for the temple, they too could know prosperity from the Lord.

(2) Hezekiah Restored the Temple Worship (29:20–36)

29:20–34. As with those who had cleansed and refurbished the temple, Hezekiah lost no time reinstating the temple services. He arose early (v. 20a) and with the princes of the city (v. 20b, the civil leaders) went up to the house of the Lord (v. 20c). First there were sacrifices of atonement (vv. 20–24): the slaughter of the animals (vv. 22a, 22d, 24a), the sprinkling of the blood (vv. 22b, 22c, 24b), and the laying on of hands (in symbolic confession of sin) (v. 23b). These were all in accordance with the appropriate prescriptions of the Levitical sacrificial system (e.g., cf. Lv 1:1–7:38) to atone for all Israel (2Ch 29:24b). Then came the services of the musicians and the singers (vv. 25–28) to lead the whole assembly (v. 28a) in worship. They used the Psalms (that is, the words of David and Asaph, v. 30a; cf. David—Pss 3–9; 11–32; 34–41; 51–65; 68–70; 86; 101; 103; 108; 110; 122; 124; 131; 133; 138–145; Asaph—Pss 50, 73–83) and sang praises with joy, and bowed down and worshiped (2Ch 29:30). Finally, the services concluded with such a large number of burnt offerings of thanksgiving (vv. 31–35a) that the priests needed assistance from the Levites to accommodate all the worshipers (v. 34b).

29:35–36. The Chronicler’s summary—Thus the service of the house of the Lord was established again (v. 35b)—was a triumphant note and would have been an encouragement to the Chronicler’s generation, as those words could have described their own experience with the rebuilt temple of Ezra’s day (cf. Ezr 6:16–18). Even more remarkable was the rapid accomplishment of restoration and renewal (2Ch 29:36b). This revival began and continued with heartfelt consecration to the Lord (cf. vv. 5, 15, 17, 19, 31, 33, 34), and yet it was what God had prepared for the people (v. 36a)—"for in the last analysis all spiritual achievements find their origin in God’s grace" (Payne, "2 Chronicles," 536).

(3) Hezekiah Revived the Celebration of Passover (30:1–27)

For both the generation of Hezekiah’s day and the generation of the Chronicler, the revival of the celebration of the Passover was an event wrought with deep significance.

30:1–5. The king began the revival of the Passover as He had the restoration of the temple by enlisting his princes and all the assembly (v. 2); "the assembly is especially important in Chronicles’ version of Hezekiah (it occurs nine times in this chapter: vv. 2, 4, 13, 17, 23, 24, 24, 25, 25; cf. 29:4, 20, 23, 28, 31, 32; 32:18), and is one symbol of the people’s unity" (Selman, 2 Chronicles, 496). This group would have included common folk as well as certain officials (his princes, v. 2). Out of this meeting came a decision to send letters to all Israel (v. 1a), specifically including the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh (v. 1b). This would have included those who had been left in the land or who had escaped (cf. v. 6d) from the captivity of the Assyrians after the invasion and captivity of 722 BC. These letters would carry a proclamation throughout all Israel from Beersheba (metaphorically the farthest point south in the southern kingdom) even to Dan (metaphorically the farthest point in the northern kingdom; v. 5b). The intent was to include and unify the whole nation around the temple and the proper observance of its services—especially the Passover (vv. 1c, 5c). Apparently, the Passover had not been regularly or widely celebrated (cf. v. 5d) according to the Torah (i.e., as prescribed (v. 5d). The decision to celebrate the Passover in the second month (v. 2b; April/May) (it was normally held in the first month, cf. Nm 9:2–5; March/April) was permitted by the provisions given in Nm 9:9–13 and was made necessary by the exigencies of the situation—a sufficient number of priests could not be consecrated in time nor could the people get to Jerusalem in time (2Ch 30:3).

30:6–9. The letters were delivered by couriers who went throughout all Israel and Judah. They carried a compelling message from the king and his princes (v. 6a). First, was the message of unity, as the letters were addressed to the sons of Israel and mention was made of the Patriarchs (reminding all of them of their common heritage, v. 6c). Next, the message came an invitation to repent, to return to the Lord (vv. 6b; 9a), and to yield to the Lord (v. 8b) and an appeal—do not be like your fathers and brothers, who were unfaithful (v. 7a)—do not stiffen your neck like your fathers (v. 8a). Here the message (and the Chronicler) identified the cause of the captivity—unfaithfulness to the Lord and rebellion against the Lord. This unfaithfulness had resulted in the horror (v. 7c) of the captivity as the result of the burning anger of the Lord (v. 8c). The message concluded with a promise of compassion (v. 9b) because the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate (v. 9c). The message most hopefully stated that upon repentance (indicated by a return to the temple and the Passover) the compassion of the Lord would mean an end to the captivity of your brothers and your sons (v. 9a, b).

30:10–12. Unfortunately, as the couriers carried this message to the northern tribes they found mostly that they were scorned and mocked (v. 10). However, some humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem (v. 11). In contrast, the appeal to celebrate Passover found ready acceptance in Judah (v. 12b), because the hand of the Lord was also on Judah (v. 12a)—thus proving that revival is a work of the Lord on the heart of those who repent from the heart.

30:13–15. When the celebration actually arrived it was evident that the effort to send the message to all Israel was a success—a very large assembly gathered in Jerusalem (v. 13). The Feast of Unleavened Bread, while technically a separate feast, was closely associated with Passover (cf. Ex 12; Mt 26:17; Lk 22:1). The zeal of the crowds (the average Israelites) apparently shamed the less enthusiastic priests and Levites (2Ch 30:15b), and so they again consecrated themselves (v. 15) to keep bringing sufficient offerings for the feast.

The celebration began and ended with the destruction of idols, first in the environs of Jerusalem itself (v. 14), then in Judah and Benjamin (31:1a) and, significantly, even in the areas of the northern kingdom (31:1b) where apostasy and idolatry had thrived since the days of Jeroboam I. By this the Chronicler emphasized that a sincere return to the Lord necessitated definitive turn away from idolatry and apostasy—"from idols to serve a living an true God" (1Th 1:9b). To do the one without the latter is not a true revival.

30:16–20. In spite of all the King’s good intentions and the Levites’ caring performance of their duties—according to the law of Moses (v. 16)—a problem arose concerning the worshipers from the northern tribes. Apparently, many of them had not consecrated themselves (v. 17a), meaning they were not permitted to slaughter the Passover lamb for themselves. Many who had not purified themselves (v. 18a) were actually violating the law by even eating the Passover (v. 18b). The solution to the first issue was having the Levites do the slaughtering (v. 17b). As for the second issue, Hezekiah himself offered a prayer, asking the Lord to pardon the infraction (v. 18c). Hezekiah’s appeal amounted to asking the Lord to pardon and accept the worship of those who had come prepared in heart, if not strictly according to the law’s prescriptions (v. 19). The Chronicler related God’s response: The Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people (v. 20). This shows that, while scrupulous adherence to the law was expected (as an indication of one’s heart), the Lord was more interested in heartfelt worship than mere formalism, no matter how carefully performed (cf. Jn 7:22–23; 9:14–16).

30:21–22. The joyful celebration continued unabated day after day (v. 21). Hezekiah was careful to keep up the goodwill by commending the Levites who were working hard and showing good insight (v. 22)—that is, they did not let either the enthusiasm or the formalism of the celebration detract from its meaning and purpose. They kept the focus on the things of the Lord.

30:23–27. So successful was this celebration that it was extended for another seven days (v. 23). This recalled the seven-day celebration at the dedication of the temple in Solomon’s day (v. 26; cf. 7:8–9). The great themes in these days were joy (vv. 23, 25, 26) and the unity of the nation—all the assembly of Judah … that came from Israel (v. 25) and the blessing that came from revival and renewal—the blessing of a restored relationship with the Lord (v. 27).

(4) Hezekiah Reinstituted Tithes and Offerings (31:1–21)

31:1–19. The reforms of Hezekiah included practical measures to ensure the continued performance of the temple services. Spiritual reforms could easily be lost if the practical concerns of caring for the priests were not also given serious attention. In accord with the orders and procedures established by David (v. 2; cf. 1Ch 24) and in obedience to what was written in law of the Lord (2Ch 31:3d, 4d) Hezekiah instituted reforms to ensure that the priests and Levites would receive the king’s portion of his goods (v. 3a), that they would receive the tithes from the people (v. 4), and that these goods would be fairly distributed (vv. 11–19). Hezekiah himself followed up on his own orders (vv. 8–9) and found that the Levites were being more than adequately cared for (v. 10). Furthermore, it was reported that the provisions were distributed faithfully (v. 15c) and without regard to their genealogical enrollment—without family preferences (v. 16a). This abundance and equity enabled the priests to dedicate themselves faithfully in holiness (v. 18c). The details of names and the order of authority specified in these verses indicated the stability and prosperity of Hezekiah’s reign. Clearly Hezekiah was not only a godly king but he also had a range of administrative leadership skills as well.

31:20–21. This summary of Hezekiah’s reign richly indicated the source of Hezekiah’s success. He prospered because he did what was good, right and true. As a good Davidic king he took a keen interest in the service of the house of God, and most vitally he did all while seeking his God with all his heart. He followed David’s advice (cf. 1Ch 22:19a; 28:9b) to obey the law and thereby found success (cf. 2Ch 22:11) and prosperity (cf. Dt 29:9). This was a message and an example the Chronicler’s generation needed to hear.

b. Hezekiah’s Victory over Assyria (32:1–23)

The Chronicler’s transition from Hezekiah’s revival ("these acts of faithfulness," v. 1a) to the story of the Assyrian invasion was abrupt. This however, was intended to highlight the connection between "faithfulness" and "victory," the point the Chronicler wanted to reinforce. Just as "forsaking the Lord" brought military defeat (e.g., Amaziah, 25:20ff.; Ahaz, 28:5ff.), so "seeking the Lord" brought military victory (e.g., Jehoshaphat, 20:20ff.). The account of the Chronicler is paralleled not only in Kings (cf. 2Kg 18, 19, and 20) but also by the "historical interlude" in Isaiah’s prophecy (cf. Is 36–39). As usual, the Chronicler expected his readers to know something of the complexity of the historical events that took place between Hezekiah and the Assyrian empire. Yet for his own purposes he "simply envisage[d] a single Assyrian campaign, which is to be dated to 701 BC" (Selman, 2 Chronicles, 508). The Chronicler has simplified the events to focus on the victory of the Lord over those who thought of Him as just another local deity.

(1) Hezekiah Countered Sennacherib’s Invasion (32:1–8)

32:1. The Chronicler set up the situation facing Hezekiah quite simply: Sennacherib of Assyria had invaded Judah and besieged the fortified cities (v. 1b). Sennacherib ruled from 705 to 681 BC. He was a capable administrator, a superb military leader, and a ruthless overlord. Upon coming to the throne after his father, Sargon II, he faced a series of rebellions to Assyrian authority, and he spent several years reasserting his power and putting vassal states, including Judah, in their places. The danger to Judah was serious, as Sennacherib intended to break into these cites (v. 1c) for himself. This invasion was documented in Assyrian archives with the Assyrian king’s boastfulness. Clearly he was not a conqueror with whom to be trifled. In fact, he mostly succeeded in accomplishing his boasts (cf. 2Kg 18:13; Is 36:1), except for Jerusalem.

32:2–8. Hezekiah well understood the danger this invasion posed for Jerusalem (v. 2), and he immediately began two kinds of preparations to counter it. First, he undertook the practical, tangible, and logistical matters to impede the Assyrian’s progress. He had the water supplies cut so the enemy could not use them (vv. 3–4). Then he had the walls and fortifications rebuilt and reinforced (v. 5a, b). Next he restocked the arsenal and realigned the military chain of command over the people (vv. 5c–6a). Then he undertook to build morale and strengthen the courage of the people. He gathered the people to a rally (v. 6b). There his speech was encouraging and evoked the admonition of the Lord to Joshua (cf. Jos 1:6, 9) that David had invoked in his charge to Solomon (cf. 1Ch 22:13)—Be strong and courageous (2Ch 32:7a). He addressed directly the fear of the Assyrians’ superior numbers (v. 7b) by reminding the people of the superiority of their God—the one with us is greater than the one with him (v. 7c). Thus, Hezekiah made the contest a spiritual one: the enemy had an arm of flesh (v. 8a; cf. Jr 17:5), but Jerusalem had the Lord our God … to fight our battles (2Ch 32:8b). In these actions Hezekiah demonstrated that he was an exceptionally spiritual, wise, and capable leader, and the people responded (v. 8c). The key theme of this battle for the Chronicler centered on the question, "Who is mightier, Sennacherib or the Lord?" In the story of the following contest, the Chronicler mostly narrated the events through Sennacherib to answer that question dramatically, showing the defeat of the Assyrian king.

(2) Hezekiah’s Victory over Sennacherib (32:9–23)

32:9–19. Sennacherib’s method of warfare included a "psychological attack" on the morale of his intended victims. While he was besieging the land of the Philistines, particularly the town of Lachish, 30 miles southwest of Jerusalem and midway between Jerusalem and Gaza (v. 9), he sent envoys (his servants, v. 9) to deliver discouraging messages to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Several related themes appear in these messages. (1) Hezekiah could not be trusted to protect his people (vv. 10–11a, 15a)—he had prohibited the worship of all gods but One (v. 12)—an obvious limitation in the view of a polytheist like Sennacherib. (2) Devotion to the Lord would be insufficient to save them (vv. 11b; 15c)—perhaps Sennacherib was thinking that since the northern kingdom had (in part) trusted the Lord to no avail that Jerusalem should not think the Lord could protect them either. (3) Sennacherib had defeated all the gods of the other nations (vv. 13–14a) and would defeat their God as well (vv. 14b, 15b, 17). The relentlessness of this attack (v. 16) included letters (v. 17a) and public speeches (v. 18a), all intended to frighten and terrify the people (v. 18b) making it easier to conquer the city (v. 18c).

32:20–23. The response of Hezekiah and Isaiah the prophet (v. 20a) was precisely what was appropriate for this spiritual battle—they cried out to heaven (v. 20b), and the Lord heard "from heaven" (cf. 6:21, 23, 25, 27, 30, 33, 35, 39). By this time, the siege had actually begun and apparently the Assyrians had surrounded the city with a vast army (cf. 2Kg 19:35 notes 185,000). The Lord sent an angel (2Ch 32:21a) a messenger-warrior (otherwise unidentified) and destroyed the Assyrian forces—officers and men (v. 21b). While the exact means of the destruction was not identified, it was clearly a supernatural defeat and dramatic proof of the emptiness of Sennacherib’s blasphemous boasts. Sennacherib returned home in shame and was ignominiously assassinated, ironically, in the act of worshiping his gods, who obviously could not save him (v. 21c). The Lord did save (deliver) the Davidic king and His city and proved that He, not the Assyrian king, is the true sovereign. The blessings that flowed to Hezekiah were the exceedingly abundant evidence that the Lord was keeping His promise to the Davidic king.

On the Sennacherib Prism, discovered in Ninevah in the 19th century, the Assyrian king boasted that he had trapped Hezekiah in Jerusalem "like bird in a cage." "As to Hezekiah the Jew, he did not submit to my yoke, I laid siege to 46 of his strong cities … Himself I made a prisoner in Jerusalem his royal residence, like a bird in a cage. I surrounded him …" (cited in A. Leo Oppenheim, trans., "Babylonian and Assyrian Historical Texts," in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, 3rd ed., ed. James B. Pritchard [Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969], 288). In spite of the boastful tone, such language betrayed that Sennacherib had failed to conquer Hezekiah completely. Thus, even the pagan records gave reluctant testimony to the Lord, who could say "I am the first and last, and there is no God besides Me" (Is 44:6b).

c. Hezekiah’s Last Days (32:24–33)

Following the order of the narrative from that of Kings (2Kg 20) and of Isaiah (Is 38 and 39), the Chronicler recorded the event of Hezekiah’s illness and recovery after the defeat of the Assyrians, even though this event took place before the Assyrian siege. (This is clear from the promise given to Hezekiah by Isaiah: he will be healed and the Lord will "deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria," 2Kg 20:6; cf. Is 38:6). However, the Chronicler’s account is much abbreviated. As throughout his narrative, the Chronicler expected his readers to be familiar with the narrative of Kings (see 2 Ch 30:27), while selecting and highlighting certain parts of that story to focus on his main interest—the person of the Davidic king. Hezekiah was an exemplary Davidic king—but he was not perfect. His imperfections were evident, and the Chronicler presented them in a light that could give exhortation and inspiration to his generation.

(1) Hezekiah’s Illness and Pride (32:24–26)

32:24–26. The nature of Hezekiah’s illness is not explained. It may have been some type of infection since a poultice of figs (cf. 1Kg 20:7) was applied to a "boil" (cf. Is 38:21) to attempt to bring healing. However, it was a mortal illness (2Ch 32:24). None of Hezekiah’s depth of emotion—neither the dread prospect of death (cf. 1Kg 20:2–3; Is 38:2–3), nor the joy of healing (Is 38:9–20, Hezekiah’s song of bitterness turned to joy)—is even hinted at in Chronicles. The sign given to him (the shadow on the steps of the temple went backwards; cf. 1Kg 20:8–11; Is 38:7–8) was also not explained. For the Chronicler’s purpose, only that Hezekiah was healed as the result of his prayer and that he gave no return for the benefit (2Ch 32:25a) was important. This failure on Hezekiah’s part was attributed to his heart being proud (v. 25b). The Chronicler’s readers would have instantly understood the danger of this condition since the exact expression was used of Uzziah (cf. 26:16) and the Lord’s wrath (cf. 2Kg 20:16–18; Is 39:6–7) had come upon the nation because of it. In contrast to Uzziah, however, Hezekiah repented. He humbled the pride of his heart (2Ch 32:26a) and led the nation in this contrition (v. 26b). As a result, the Lord’s wrath was averted, at least in the days of Hezekiah (v. 26c).

(2) Hezekiah’s Wealth and Pride (32:27–31)

32:27–31. As expected for a faithful Davidic king, Hezekiah prospered in all that he did (v. 30b). He amassed wealth (vv. 27–29) and by it, wisely provided for the nation’s security (v. 30). For instance, he commissioned the famous "Hezekiah’s tunnel" so Judah would have a water supply that would be invulnerable to siege. This tunnel was cut through 1,700 feet of solid rock under Jerusalem to channel water from the Gihon spring on the east side to the pool of Siloam inside the city. In a remarkable confirmation of the accuracy of the biblical record, "Archeological confirmation of this engineering feat came in 1880 with the discovery at its lower portal of the Siloam Inscription, written in old Hebrew by the very workers who accomplished it" (Payne, "2 Chronicles," 542). The text reads in part "And when the tunnel was driven through, the quarrymen hewed (the rock) each man toward his fellow, axe against axe …" (William F. Albright, trans., "Palestinian Inscriptions," in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, 3rd ed., ed. James B. Pritchard [Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969], 321). All this was to be expected from an exemplary Davidic king. Once again, however, Hezekiah succumbed to pride. In this case, his pride was not mentioned explicitly but it was illustrated by the foolish act of parading his treasures and the nation’s defenses before the envoys of the rulers of Babylon (v. 31a; cf. 2Kg 20:12–13; Is 39:1–4). Those rulers had come to inquire of the wonder (2Ch 32:31b) of Hezekiah’s illness and recovery (and possibly the sign) (cf. 2Kg 20:12b; Is 39:1b). While the two parallel accounts in Kings and Isaiah record the rebuke of Isaiah for this foolishness (cf. 2Kg 20:16–19; Is 39:5–7), the Chronicler reveals that the Lord ordained this to test Hezekiah (2Ch 32:31c). The Lord wanted to know if Hezekiah’s trust was in the Lord or in a potential alliance with Babylon—the rising power in the east. Apparently, Hezekiah’s heart was divided on this matter (cf. Is 39:1–8).

(3) Hezekiah’s End (32:32–33)

32:32–33. The Chronicler completed his account of Hezekiah by noting his deeds of devotion (v. 32a). That his narrative is told not only in the Book of the Kings but also in the prophecy of Isaiah (v. 32b), and the honor bestowed on him in his burial (v. 33), indicated that Hezekiah was an outstanding example of the Davidic ideal. Although Hezekiah was not a perfect king, the Chronicler would have concurred with the lofty evaluation by the author of Kings, that "after him there was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among those who were before him" (2Kg 18:5).

4. Bad, but Repentant: Manasseh (33:1–20)

The Chronicler’s record of Manasseh is decidedly brief—despite that Manasseh "had the longest reign of all the Hebrew monarchs" (Payne, "2 Chronicles," 4:544). In stark contrast to his father Hezekiah, arguably the best of the kings of Judah, Manasseh was the worst. He did more to promote the idolatry that led to the Babylonian captivity than any other single individual (cf. 2Kg 23:26; Jr 15:4) and was rightly condemned by the Lord and vilified in the memory of the author of Kings. The Chronicler, however, presented material not found in Kings that highlights Manasseh’s repentance.

a. Manasseh’s Incredible Evil (33:1–9)

33:1–9. The term evil (vv. 2a, 6b, 9) began, centered, and concluded the Chronicler’s description of Manasseh’s reign. Manasseh’s idolatry was characterized as a revival of the paganism of the nations that had once occupied the land (vv. 2b, 9c). It included blatant Baal worship on newly restored altars on the high places (v. 3), the building of pagan altars even in the temple (vv. 4a, 5a), and the setting up of idols there (v. 7a; for Baal worship see comment on 28:2; Asherim were Canaanite female fertility goddesses). Manasseh even engaged in the despicable act of child sacrifice (v. 6a) in combination with vile occult practices (v. 6b). The Chronicler noted that (1) the temple was to be the place where the Lord put His name … in Jerusalem, forever (vv. 4b, 7c), that (2) the temple was the focus of His promise to preserve the nation and the Davidic king (vv. 7b–8a), and that (3) obedience to the law, the statutes and the ordinances given through Moses (v. 8c) was expected. These observations made the profanations of Manasseh all the more abhorrent and foreshadowed the reason for the captivity. It was shocking that the Davidic king, of all people, had so forsaken the Lord and so profaned the temple. This was especially heinous in light of the Lord’s desire not to remove the foot of Israel from the land again (v. 8a). With this degree of wickedness and disobedience it was evident that the promise of security was not going to be kept for this king or this generation. The Chronicler’s generation was painfully aware that this sort of evil idolatry, temple sacrilege, and disobedience to the law of Moses had caused their struggle to recover from grinding captivity.

b. Manasseh’s Humiliating Captivity (33:10–11)

33:10–11. In spite of this horrendous apostasy the Lord was still gracious to speak to the king and the nation, calling them, to no avail, to repentance (v. 10). The resulting captivity of Manasseh was brutal and humiliating (v. 11).

c. Manasseh’s Marvelous Repentance (33:12–13a, 18–19)

33:12–13a, 18–19. The Chronicler’s generation did not need to dwell on the causes that sent their fathers into captivity—they needed to know how they could recover from it. Therefore, the account of Manasseh’s repentance would have been a genuine encouragement to them. Apparently, even in captivity in Babylon (v. 11d) Manasseh was given the opportunity to hear from the seers who spoke to him in the name of the Lord God of Israel (v. 18b), just as the nation had its prophets (Daniel and Ezekiel) in captivity. As a result of the preaching of these seers, Manasseh became a remarkable example of true repentance. First, as just noted (1) he was receptive to the word of God in his distress (v. 12a), (2) he turned to God in prayer (vv. 13a, 19a), (3) in this prayer he confessed his sin (implied in the content of v. 19), and finally (4) he humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers (v. 12b), indicating a complete change of heart and mind and will. The Lord was moved by his entreaty and heard his supplication (v. 13a)—a note of utter grace and mercy. Clearly, the lesson for the Chronicler’s generation was that forgiveness and grace are available to the worst of sinners! As disobedience and evil bring the Lord’s judgment, so repentance and trust in the Lord bring His blessing.

d. Manasseh’s Attempted Revival (33:13b–17, 20)

33:13b–17, 20. The blessing of the Lord upon repentance indicated by the return of Manasseh to Jerusalem (v. 13b) would have been a historical note of keen interest to the Chronicler’s generation. What had secured their return was the Lord’s faithfulness, but they too needed to follow in the footsteps of repentant Manasseh. The genuineness of Manasseh’s repentance is seen in (1) the statement he knew that the Lord was God (v. 13c), (2) his attempts at revival of the true worship of the Lord (vv. 15–16), and (3) his efforts to fortify the city (v. 14)—all acts of a true Davidic king. The effects of this effort were sadly minimal, as the people continued the practices of idolatry that Manasseh had previously introduced, even if they intended to direct them toward the Lord (v. 17). Manasseh’s experience was a hard lesson that keeping worship pure, while difficult, is preferable to attempting to reintroduce pure worship.

Manasseh ended his reign with the stigma of his previous life affecting his legacy, and he was not accorded the honor of burial in the royal cemetery (v. 20). Nevertheless, his was a story of the possibility for repentance for even the most unlikely of persons and a story of the incredible grace of God.

5. Bad: Amon (33:21–25)

33:21–25. Amon’s brief reign of two years (v. 21) was told only briefly by the Chronicler. This was probably because the lessons to learn from this evil king were not unique. Amon followed in the wickedness and idolatry of his father Manasseh (v. 22) but did not follow his father in the path of humble repentance (v. 23a). This serves as a warning to all parents—not just those of royalty. Whatever is impressed upon them in youth will in all likelihood set their path in adulthood, and children can be trained for righteousness (cf. Pr 22:6). Amon actually did worse than Manasseh (2Ch 33:23b), so much so that his own servants assassinated him (v. 24). This act of treason was avenged (v. 25). While the birth of Josiah was a harbinger of better days, the kingdom itself had taken a precipitous decline from the days of Hezekiah.

6. Very Good: Josiah (34:1–35:27)

The darkest days, from a human perspective, are often the days most propitious for a fresh work of the Lord to begin. After the dreadful days of Manasseh and even more despicable days of Amon, the Lord was gracious to send good king Josiah and the bright days of revival.

a. Josiah’s Reign—Seeking God, Purging Idolatry (34:1–7)

34:1–2. Josiah began his reign as a young boy of only eight years (v. 1). In the pattern of Jehoshaphat (cf. 17:3) and Hezekiah (cf. 29:2) he did right in the sight of the Lord (v. 2a) and conducted himself after the example his father David (v. 2b). The expression that he did not turn aside to the right or to the left (v. 2c) indicated that he did not deviate from David’s godly example. He showed unusual spiritual maturity at a young age.

34:3–7. When he was 16, while he was still a youth, he sought the Lord (v. 3a; see Introduction to 1 Chronicles), and at the age of 20 (v. 3b) he began to purge the nation of the idolatry that had plagued it for many years. His manner of dealing with the idols was not gentle: they tore down the idols’ altars (vv. 4a, 7a), chopped down the incense altars (vv. 4b, 7c), ground the pieces to powder (vv. 4c, 7b), and spread the dust on the graves of the idol worshipers (v. 4d). This act demonstrated his utter contempt for the idols and their worshipers. He even took the bones of the pagan priests (buried near the pagan shrines) and burned them (v. 5) in fulfillment of the word of the Lord to Jeroboam that human bones would be "burned" on the false altars he set up at the time of the division of the kingdom (cf. 1Kg 13:2). Josiah’s purge did not stop at the borders of Judah but extended to the territories of the former (at this time exiled) northern kingdom as well (2Ch 34:6). These were bold actions for the day and would have been a great encouragement to people like Jeremiah and Habakkuk. Josiah knew what many of God’s men have not known over the years: idolatry and ungodliness are never defeated by half measures but require bold, stern, and definitive purging.

b. Revival Year: Repairing Temple, Rediscovering Law, Reviving Passover (34:8–35:19)

The eighteenth year (34:8a; 35:19) of Josiah’s reign was a "banner year," one of the most memorable in the entire the history of the nation. It is all the more remarkable that Josiah made it so great when he was only 26 years old (cf. 34:1a plus 34:8a).

(1) Repairing the Temple (34:8–13)

As was typical for a true Davidic king, Josiah took an immediate interest in the temple. The man of God must not stop merely with "purging" evil—he must be about "promoting" godliness. This is best done through the promotion of true worship. The monies collected for the repair and restoration of the temple came from the former northern kingdom as well as from Judah (34:9b). This detail picks up again a major theme of the Chronicler, namely, that "all Israel" was involved in this enterprise. The unity of the nation after the captivity was vital to its success and wellbeing, and the Chronicler knew that the locus of that unity needed to be the temple and the true worship of God. The Chronicler was telling his generation that true unity could be achieved if the whole nation was devoted to the true worship of the true God in the temple He Himself had chosen for His name.

34:8–13. The details of the restoration project (cf. vv. 9a, 10–13) indicate that the temple had been allowed to decline significantly (cf. v. 11c, had let go to ruin)—the result of the paganism and idolatry of the several ungodly kings. Several principles contributed to the success of the project to repair and restore the temple. The project was undertaken with sufficient resources (vv. 9a; 11a), by a team with various skills (cf. v. 10 workmen; v. 11 carpenters and builders; v. 13a burden bearers), and assisted by some with no evident skills for building (cf. vv. 12b, 13c Levites and musicians, scribes, etc.), but who had an incentive and a desire to do the work. The Levites were determined to beautify their place of service. The work was led faithfully with foremen … to supervise (v. 12a) and proceeded in an orderly fashion—from job to job (v. 13b). These details would not be lost on the Chronicler’s generation—people facing a daunting "restoration" project of their own.

(2) Rediscovering the Law (34:14–33)

34:14–18a. The account of the discovery of the book of the law is astounding but reads "true to life." It is astounding that the law could be lost at all! However, it must be remembered that without printing presses copies of the law were rare—and made even more so by the waves of apostasy that the nation had suffered. The loss of the law as a way of worship and life would have inevitably led to the loss of the physical book. The book Hilkiah discovered was identified as the law of the Lord given by Moses (34:14b) and the book of the covenant (34:30c). Various attempts have been made to identify which portion or portions of the Pentateuch are in view here, but few are convincing and it may be that the whole Pentateuch is in view. It should also be noted that Mosaic authorship is indicated without question or argument. (See Payne, "2 Chronicles," 551).

As noted, the short account of the "physical" discovery of the book reads "true to life." That is, it seems that at first the discoverers did not realize what they had found. Apparently, in the process of restoration (cleaning out an unused cluttered, storeroom perhaps) the priest Hilkiah, as he was going about his duties, discovered the book and almost as an afterthought passed it on to Shaphan, the scribe. The conversation between Shaphan and the king, (v. 16a) as he reported on the progress of the restoration (v. 16b) and the dispersion of the finds (v. 17) seemed to indicate that there was no urgency attached to the discovery of a book (v. 18a). The skill of the Chronicler’s narrative should be noted: the reader knows the significance of this book, but as yet no one handling it seemed to realize it and the narrative builds suspense. Will anyone recognize this book for what it is, or will it be laid aside as some curiosity to be investigated later?

34:18b–21. In climactic fashion, the scribe Shaphan read from the book in the presence of the king (v. 18b), and the king’s reaction was dramatic. When he heard the words of the law he immediately tore his clothes (v. 19; cf. Gn 37:34; Jb 1:20) as an act of deep repentance and serious remorse. Significantly, it was the Davidic king who recognized the book’s meaning and significance. "Acknowledging the word of God for what it is, is always an essential step towards seeing God at work" (Selman, 2 Chronicles, 532). Instantly, Josiah understood a project more vital than the restoration of the temple needed to be undertaken, namely, the restoration of the nation to obedience. Hilkiah, Shaphan and others were reassigned to inquire of the Lord (2Ch 34:21a), to study the law to see what was required of the nation to avert God’s wrath (v. 21b). Josiah knew that ignorance of the law was no excuse and that the years of disobedience left the nation in serious danger. The law was clear: blessings could be expected only if the nation did according to all that is written in this book (v. 21c).

The idea that this book was actually (what is now known as) Deuteronomy and that it was created much later in Israel’s history by temple priests seeking reform was originally proposed by Wilhelm Martin Leberecht de Wette (1780–1849), a German critical-biblical scholar. However, later studies have shown that the philological arguments of de Wette were deficient. The notion that the reforms of Josiah were purely "Deuteronomic" has been shown by Kitchen to be false since Josiah’s reform "could have been sparked off as easily by one version of the Sinai-covenant (Exodus-Leviticus) as the other (by forty years only: Deuteronomy)." Thus, "this ancient canard of 1805 should be quietly given a decent burial." Kitchen adds, "And the modern data on treaty, law, and covenant put both versions [of the Sinai-covenant—Exodus/Leviticus and Deuteronomy] squarely in the late second millennium, not in the late seventh century, and not as a pious fraud either" (Kenneth A. Kitchen, On the Reliability of the Old Testament [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2003], 400; see also his summary dismissal of the JEDP theory: Reliability of the Old Testament, 492–96).

34:22–28. In the process of seeking the mind of the Lord, an inquiry was made to the prophetess Huldah (v. 22a). With no note of explanation for the presence, much less the importance, of a female "prophetess" and that she was clearly a well-known person (note the details of her identity, v. 22b), it must be assumed that the "idea of discrimination based on sex" was "foreign" to the "spirit of the OT," at least for a prophetess (Payne, "2 Chronicles," 4:551). Huldah gave her prophecy in two parts. First she revealed what the king had feared: because of the nation’s continued apostasy, the exile was inevitable. In a way, in order to be faithful to His word, he would bring on all the curses written in the book that had been read to the king (v. 24; Lv 26:14–45; Dt 28:15–68). God’s wrath [would] be poured out on this place because of the apostasy and idolatry (2Ch 34:25). But second, she revealed that because Josiah had shown humility, true remorse, and heartfelt repentance (v. 27) the necessary judgment would not come during his lifetime—he would not see all the evil that God would bring on this place and on its inhabitants (v. 28). The Chronicler’s generation knew the truth of the first part of Huldah’s prophecy, and they needed to know the point of the second part—namely, God’s curses and wrath are not unavoidable. His chastisement becomes inevitable by persistent disobedience to the Word, but His blessings are just as sure if the nation will consistently practice obedience. It was still true that if the nation and people would humble themselves, seek the Lord, pray and "turn from their wicked ways," then He would forgive and heal them (cf. 7:14). The Chronicler’s generation knew they had a choice: follow the ways of Josiah’s ungodly predecessors or follow Josiah in humility, repentance, and faithful obedience.

34:29–30. Even in the face of the first part of Huldah’s prophecy, Josiah led the people in a public reading of the law. This was not an afterthought for a nation in inevitable decline but the only proper faithful act of God’s people, regardless of time or circumstance.

34:31–33. The reading of the law led to a nationwide "covenant renewal." The king’s self-dedication was genuine and exemplary: it was public (he stood in his place, v. 31a), focused on the Lord (before the Lord … after the Lord, v. 31b), specific (commandments … testimonies … statutes, v. 31c), heartfelt (with all his heart … soul, v. 31d), and followed by action (to perform the words of the covenant, v. 31e). As a good leader he brought others with him in his dedication (v. 32a) and influenced others to follow as well (v. 32b). This rededication led to further reforms (v. 33a) and a lifetime of service and obedience (v. 33b). Although the obedience among many may have been only external (cf. Jr 11:1–13), nevertheless Josiah’s example proved the power of one leader’s complete dedication over the direction of the entire nation.

(3) Revival of Passover (35:1–19)

Following in the steps of his great-grandfather Hezekiah (cf. 30:1ff.), Josiah capped his restoration and reformation project off with a revival of the Passover. The celebration took place on the fourteenth day of the first month (35:1b), indicating that Josiah made sure the ceremony took place according to the law (cf. Ex 12:6), not allowing the adjustment made by Hezekiah (cf. 2Ch 30:2) to set a precedent.

35:1–10. Preparations for the Passover were made in several steps. First, Josiah set the priests in their offices and encouraged them (v. 2), amounting to a royal reconsecration for their ministry. He wanted them to undertake this solemn service knowing they had the full support of the Davidic king. Second, Josiah ordered that the ark of the covenant be replaced in the temple (v. 3a, b). Apparently, it had been removed from the temple, either by faithful priests to protect it during the reigns of Manasseh (cf. 33:7) and Amon, or by those who worshiped other gods by means of other tokens, or perhaps it had simply been removed for safekeeping during Josiah’s reconstruction project. The note that the ark would be a burden on your shoulders no longer (v. 3c) may suggest that, for some undisclosed reason, the ark was being carried in and out of the temple (according to the law, cf. Ex 25:14, 15) but would once again find a permanent home in the restored temple. Another possibility is that this was a symbolic act of removing the ark and returning it as a symbol of the temple’s reconsecration. Third, Josiah reordered the priests according to the divisions established by David and Solomon (2Ch 35:4–5, 10b) and commanded them to perform their duties according to the word of the Lord by Moses (v. 6). "Josiah’s goal was to prevent the sort of confusion that had arisen during the more precipitous reform and Passover of his godly great-grandfather, some 103 years earlier (cf. 30:16–18)" (Payne, "2 Chronicles," 4:553). Fourth, Josiah and his officers supplied the animals for the offerings and sacrifices to be made for the Passover (v. 7–9). So the service was prepared (vv. 10a; 16a).

35:11–19. The Chronicler recorded this Passover celebration in two parts: First, there was the record of the sacrifices made and distributed (vv. 11–15). The details indicate that every person knew his part and performed it accordingly (as it is written in the book of Moses, v. 12c; according to the ordinance, v. 13a; according to the command of David and others, v. 15a). Second, there was the note of the significance of this particular Passover (vv. 16–19). The celebrants of that particular Passover were aware that such a full national celebration (all Judah and Israel who were present, v. 18c) had not been celebrated since the days of Samuel the prophet (v. 18b). As such it was a high point in the nation’s history. But to the generation of the Chronicler this meant they could recapture this moment in their own day as those who had returned to Jerusalem as representatives of "all Israel." Everything rested on how they regarded the temple. The restoration of the temple in their day would mean that they too could participate in a singularly significant, nationally historic, Passover.

c. Josiah’s Tragic Death (35:20–27)

Josiah’s death was faithfully recorded by the Chronicler as a historical fact. But the transition to this tragic ending may indicate that the Chronicler did not want this death to be Josiah’s legacy. He first noted "when Josiah had set the temple in order" (v. 20a) and then began the narrative of Josiah’s last days.

(1) Pharaoh Neco, on His Way to War, Warned Josiah to Not Interfere (35:20–21)

The Battle at Carchemish (on the Euphrates 250 miles northeast of Damascus) between Neco of Egypt (allied with Ashuruballit of Assyria) and Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 605 BC was one of the great turning points in world history. Neco eventually lost that battle and Babylon become the ascendant world power, affecting both world and biblical history in profound ways. Josiah was a minor player in this saga—one who did not actually need to be involved at all.

35:20–21. When Josiah was apprised of Neco’s plans he determined to engage him in battle. Perhaps he feared an Egyptian-Assyrian alliance or maybe he wanted to assist Babylon, hoping to secure favorable terms from the rising power in the east. Neco attempted to dissuade Josiah by assuring him that he, Neco, had no animus toward Josiah (I am not coming against you) and by appealing to divine providence (God has ordered me … God who is with me, v. 21b). The sincerity of this last appeal has been questioned, but as recorded by the Chronicler, it seems that Josiah should have seen the working of God’s providence (v. 22b). There is a tragic and ironic parallel to the fate of the ungodly Ahab (cf. 18:29–34) in this account.

(2) Josiah Engaged Neco in Battle, Was Mortally Wounded (35:22–24c)

35:22–24c. Josiah proceeded to engage Neco (would not turn away … did not listen to the words of Neco from the mouth of God) on the plain of Meggido (v. 22), the enormous plain through the hill country in Israel from northwest to southeast (and future site of the battle of Armageddon; Rv 16:16). Josiah took the futile precaution of disguising himself (2Ch 35:22b); nevertheless the archers mortally wounded him (v. 23a; cf. the fate of Ahab, 18:33). Josiah was able to be transported to Jerusalem before he died (v. 24b)—evidence of the Lord’s favor on this godly Davidic king—and he was buried in the tombs of his fathers (v. 24c) in honor of his godly faithfulness.

(3) Judah Mourned for Josiah (35:24d–25)

35:24d–25. The unusual details about the mourning for Josiah, the listing of mourners (all Judah and Jerusalem, v. 24d … Jeremiah … male and female singers, v. 25a) the terms used to express the mourning (chanted a lament, v. 25a … lamentations, v. 25b), and the note about the ordinance of mourning (v. 25c) indicate the high level of honor and respect the nation had for Josiah. The book Lamentations (v. 25d), noted here is not the biblical book of "Lamentations."

(4) Josiah’s Reign Summarized (35:26–27)

35:26–27. The sad events that led to his death were not the last word about Josiah for the Chronicler. A word about his revival of temple worship (v. 20a) and a note about his deeds of devotion to the law of the Lord (v. 26) bracketed the account of his tragic death. However, Josiah’s godliness, his devotion to the law, and his revival were soon overshadowed by the precipitous decline of the nation following his death.

H. Sons of Josiah (Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, Zedekiah) (36:1–16)

Josiah’s revival was the nation’s last opportunity to avoid the inevitable chastisement (cf. 34:23–25) of the captivity. The Chronicler’s readers were already well aware that the nation did not build on that revival but instead quickly declined and did not listen to the prophets (Jeremiah in particular; cf. Jr 1:1–3) sent to them (cf. 2Ch 36:15–16). The readers knew well that the captivity was not a happenstance of history but the righteous chastisement of the Lord. Therefore the Chronicler did not record the history of the last kings of the nation in great detail, and the final chapter of his work moved swiftly to the foregone conclusion. However, a note of hope arose. The decree of Cyrus was given to round out his message to his generation: the God who promised to build the house of David was not about to prove Himself faithless to that promise. He would bring (as the generation of the Chronicler knew He had brought) the nation back to the land. The promise remained (and remains) in effect for His chosen people.

1. Joahaz (36:1–4)

36:1–4. Joahaz was elevated to the throne by popular acclaim (v. 1), but he reigned only three months (v. 2). Probably to prevent him from doing the same ill-fated act of his father, Pharaoh Neco deposed Joahaz (v. 3a) and took him captive to Egypt (v. 4b). To recoup some of his expenses for the late war (cf. 35:20) Neco also imposed a levy on the nation (v. 3b). He set up Joahaz’s brother Eliakim on the throne and, in an act that would remind him of his servile position, the Pharaoh changed Eliakim’s name to Jehoiakim (v. 4a).

2. Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin (36:5–10)

36:5–10. Jehoiakim proved to be an evil (v. 5b; 8a) and weak king. During his reign Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon invaded Judah and took Daniel and his friends into captivity (vv. 6–7; cf. Dn 1:1–2). The loss of the wealth and articles of the temple would have been particularly devastating and an indication of the Lord’s displeasure with the house of David. Throughout the Chronicler’s record the fortunes of the temple were tied to the fortunes of the Davidic king. For God to allow the glories of the temple to be sacked indicated He was chastising the Davidic king for unfaithfulness. Jehoiakim, a puppet of Neco, was deported and Jehoiachin, his son, was made king (2Ch 36:9a). Jehoiachin reigned only three months and ten days (v. 9b), and for his evil (v. 9c) he suffered exactly the same fate as his father (v. 10a).

3. Zedekiah (36:11–14)

36:11–14. The last king of the nation was another son of Josiah (uncle to Jehoiachin), Zedekiah (also called Mattaniah, cf. 2Kg 24:17), who also became a puppet king of Nebuchadnezzar (2Ch 36:10b). He too did evil (v. 12a). The Chronicler specifically noted he did not listen (did not humble himself v. 12b) to the preaching of Jeremiah the prophet who spoke for the Lord (v. 12c). He compounded his errant ways by rebelling against Nebuchadnezzar (v. 13a) and by hardening his heart against the Lord (v. 13b). He led the nation in pagan practices (abominations of the nations v. 14a) and committed the epitome of faithlessness for a Davidic king—he defiled the house of the Lord (v. 14b).

4. Summary: Prophets Sent and Rejected (36:15–16)

36:15–16. In a summary statement (vv. 15–16) that not only described the last days before the captivity, but in effect the whole history of the nation, the Chronicler recorded that the Lord—in His deep compassion—had sent messengers again and again to call the people—His people—to repentance, only to have them mocked and scoffed at and His words despised (vv. 15–16a). This pattern in the nation’s history would be recalled on more than one occasion by Jesus Himself (cf. Mt 23:29–35). The failure of the nation to heed God’s Word resulted in His wrath and no remedy (2Ch 36:16b).

I. The Captivity and the Decree of Cyrus (36:17–23)

The Chronicler’s conclusion of his history conveyed a stark realism and note of hope for his generation.

1. The Captivity: Description and Rationale (36:17–21)

a. Description (36:17–20)

36:17–20. The account of the captivity related the brutality of the Chaldeans (Babylonians) (v. 17, no compassion on young man or virgin, old man or infirm) and the completeness of the destruction of the temple and the city (v. 19, burned … broke down … burned). The looting of the temple (v. 18) and captivity of the remnant not slain (v. 20) are details that corroborate the accounts in other books, such as Daniel (cf. Dn 1; 5).

b. Rationale (36:21)

36:21. The rationale for the captivity (in addition to the implicit rationale articulated throughout the Chronicler’s work—namely the failure of the nation and the evil kings to seek the Lord while seeking other gods and neglecting the temple) was drawn from the prophet Jeremiah (v. 21a). Since the nation had not obeyed the law of giving the land its sabbath rests (cf. Lv 26:34–35, 43) the nation would be held in captivity until all the missed sabbath years had been made, a period calculated to be seventy years (2Ch 36:21b).

2. The Decree of Cyrus (36:22–23)

36:22–23. While the prophecy of Jeremiah’s 70-year captivity was heavy for those going into captivity, that same prophecy brought hope to those at the end of the captivity (v. 22). The Chronicler’s generation knew well the significance and the challenges of Cyrus’s decree. Once again, it was not the purview of an earthly king but that of a heavenly sovereign who ordered the events of captivity and return (cf. v. 23a). The final call, Whoever there is among you of all His people, may the Lord his God be with him, and let him go up! (v. 23b) was still being made by the Chronicler to his generation.

In the order of books in the Hebrew Bible, 2 Chronicles is the final book and the Persian King Cyrus’s decree, the final words. The phrase let him go up finds its subject in the previous phrase, "he whose God is with him." This wording is based on the Hebrew Bible, which literally reads, "He whose God is with Him, let Him go up!" (The NASB renders it more as a prayer, "may the Lord his God be with him.") Cyrus’s decree concerns God’s people in captivity and exile in Babylon, which later came under the rule of Persia. The decree ended their 70-year captivity, fulfilling the prophecy of Jeremiah (Jr 29:1–10), and letting the people return to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. Yet it also seems that the Chronicler is using Cyrus’s decree to end here with a messianic image (cf. 1Ch 17:12), saying that of all the people who were to go up, one prominent figure, He whose God is with Him (the Messiah), should go up to Jerusalem to build the messianic temple (Ps 110; Zch 6:9–15). In this way, readers at the close of the OT, are being pointed forward immediately to the NT, which opens with a genealogy in the Gospel of Matthew (linking it to the genealogy at the beginning of the books of Chronicles), identifying Jesus as the one whose God is with Him and therefore "God with us" (Immanuel). He is the fulfillment of the messianic promise to David. Thus, the Hebrew Bible concludes with hope, not just in the faithfulness of God in restoring Israel in the past, but even more, with hope for the future. It is a reminder to keep looking for the messianic son of David, the redeemer of Israel and the world.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Braun, Roddy. 1 Chronicles. Word Biblical Commentary. Waco, TX: Word, 1986.

Dillard, Raymond B. 2 Chronicles. Word Biblical Commentary. Waco, TX: Word, 1986.

Hill, Andrew E. 1 & 2 Chronicles. NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003.

Payne, J. Barton. "1, 2 Chronicles," in vol. 4 of The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1988.

Pratt, Richard L. 1 & 2 Chronicles. A Mentor Commentary. Fearn, Ross-shire, UK: Christian Focus, 1998.

Sailhamer, John. First and Second Chronicles. Everyman Bible Commentary. Chicago: Moody, 1983.

Selman, Martin J. 1 Chronicles. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1994.

Selman, Martin J. 2 Chronicles. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1994.

Tuell, Steven S. First and Second Chronicles. Interpretation: A Bible Commentary. Louisville: John Knox Press, 2001.

Wilcock, Michael. The Message of Chronicles. The Bible Speaks Today. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1994.

 

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