1 & 2 chronicles
In the original Hebrew Bible, the books of 1 & 2 Chronicles were one book entitled “The Words of the Days” or “The Events of the Times.” In the Greek translation of the bible (the Septuagint), the book was titled, “The Things Omitted,” suggesting that Chronicles was a history which included those things omitted in Samuel and Kings. The title “Chronicles” was first given by Jerome in the Latin vulgate.
Christ as Seen in Chronicles: The central points around which everything in Chronicles is organized are the king and the temple. Both David and Solomon foreshadow aspects of Christ and His ministry in numerous ways. As a whole and in each of its parts the Temple foreshadowed the person and work of the Lord Jesus. Each detail in it typified some aspect of His ministry or some excellency in His person.
Theme and Structure The main theme is the proper focus on worship in a covenant relationship.
Historical Context A number of Israelites returned from exile to Jerusalem following the Cyrus Edict (Ref. Ezra 2:1-64). A descendent of king David named Zerubbabel led the people in erecting an altar and a foundation for the new temple. Nevertheless, disappointment, economic hardships, and trouble from foreigners quickly halted the reconstruction effort (Ezra 4:1-24).
The prophets Haggai and Zechariah preached in Jerusalem during this time (Ezra 5:1-2). They exhorted Zerubbabel and the people to continue the work on the temple. The returnees eventually complied with the prophetic word and completed the temple with great celebration in 515 B.C. (Ezra 6:14-15).
A generation later, however, the number of returnees remained few. Moreover, many men had intermarried with foreign women who served other gods (Ezra 9:1-2; Neh 13:23-31; Mal 2:11). These intermarriages led to widespread religious apostasy (Deut 7:3; 1 Kgs 11:1-13). Ezra (c. 458 B.C.) and Nehemiah (c. 445 B.C.) came to Jerusalem to call the people to repent of their failures and to conform to the Law of God.
Unfortunately, the reforms under Ezra and Nehemiah had only temporary effects. The sins of the people grew so great that Israel fell into centuries of spiritual darkness. This period of extended trouble is referred to as the Intertestamental Period (c. 425 B.C. - c. 4 B.C.). Most of God’s people remained scattered among the nations. The Israelites in Palestine became subjected under the rule of the Persians and Medes, the Greeks, and finally under the totalitarian rule of Rome. Intertestamental darkness continued until the inauguration of the Kingdom of God through the work of Christ and his apostles.
In general terms, Chronicles was intended to direct the restoration of the Kingdom during the early post-exilic period. While the prophets had predicted that return to the land would be a time of grand blessings (e.g. Amos 9:11-15; Joel 3:18-21; Ezek 34:26), the restoration had not brought about the blessings for which Israel hoped. Thus, Chronicles offered guidance to this struggling community. It provided them practical directions for attaining a greater realization of the blessings of the Kingdom of God in their time.
Therefore, while Chronicles seem like a repeat of Samuel and Kings, they were written for the returned exiles to remind them that they came from the royal line of David and that they were God’s chosen people Chronicles provides the returning exiles with a recounting of the national history from the time of Adam to the decree of Cyrus in 538 BC, with particular emphasis in the reigns of David and Solomon. Since we are not certain of the author, we will refer to the writer as “the Chronicler”
While the returning exiles were the primary audience, the Chronicler emphasized that God’s people included more than the small population of the post-exilic community. He also identified the tribes of Israel who still remained outside the land as the people of God. The returnees in Judah needed to remember that the restoration was incomplete so long as some of the tribes remained exiled from the land. To express this broad vision of God’s people, the Chronicler included both northern and southern tribes in his genealogies (1 Chr 2:3; 4:24; 5:1,11,23; 6:1; 7:1,6,13,14,20,30; 8:1).
Primarily, then, the book provides the post-exilic generations with a sense of connectedness to the Davidic kingdom. It demonstrates the continuity between Solomon’s temple and the new temple built by Zerubbabel. Thus, the temple serves as the center point of the book of Chronicles. The whole history of Israel is seen through the context of the temple. The temple represented permanence, stability and continuity to the nation.
God’s presence in the temple reminded the people that they were the chosen nation, possessing a unique relationship to Yahweh. As David prays in response to the prophecy of Nathan: “Let it even be established, that thy name may be magnified for ever, saying, The LORD of hosts is the God of Israel, even a God to Israel: and let the house of David thy servant be established before thee.” (1 Chron 17:24)
OUTLINE I. Israel's historical roots chs. 1—9 II. The reign of David chs. 10—29 III. The reign of Solomon 2 Chr chs. 1—9 IV. The reigns of Solomon's successors 2 Chr chs. 10—36
“Adam, Sheth, Enosh,…” (1 Chron 1:1) Chronicles begins the first 9 chapters with a genealogical outline of history from Adam through the death of King Saul. The rest of the book is about the reign of King David. The genealogies help the returning exiles appreciate their heritage and to tie themselves to Adam, Abraham, and David in particular. Adam was important as the head of the human race. Abraham was important because of the promises God gave him and his descendants in the Abrahamic Covenant. David was important because of his role as Israel's model king and because of the promises God gave him in the Davidic Covenant.
The Chronicler's genealogies take on several forms. Some passages are linear and trace a single family line through many generations (e.g., 1 Chr 2:34-41). Other genealogies are segmented and sketch several family lines together (e.g., 1 Chr 6:1-3). The Chronicler also omitted generations without notice, mentioning persons and events that were important to his concerns. In these cases, the expression "son of" actually meant "descendant of" and "father of" meant "ancestor of" (e.g., 1 Chr 6:4-15). The two types of genealogy, linear and segmented, serve different purposes. The linear genealogy seeks to legitimize an individual by relating him to an ancestor whose status is established. The segmented genealogy is designed to express relationships between the various branches of a family. Beyond this, just as ancient genealogies often included brief narratives highlighting significant events, the Chronicler paused on occasion to tell a story (e.g. 1 Chr 4:9-10; 5:18-22).
Notice that the Chronicler has a very selective agenda. For example: we know that among the sons of Adam were Cain, Abel, and Seth. However, 1 Chronicles does not mention Cain and Abel. The focus is upon the descendants of Seth, for from him eventually came the family of Abraham and the Israelites. Thus, the first objective of the Chronicler was to establish that his targeted audience were descendants of a divinely selected people
“The sons of Judah; Er, and Onan, and Shelah: which three were born unto him of the daughter of Shua the Canaanitess. And Er, the firstborn of Judah, was evil in the sight of the LORD; and he slew him. And Tamar his daughter in law bore him Pharez and Zerah. All the sons of Judah were five.” (2:3-4) In chapter 2 the lineage focuses on a single tribe, Judah, and even more specifically within that tribe, the focus comes down to King David.
“Now these were the sons of David…” (3:1) In chapter 3, the descendents of David are listed, including all the kings of Judah, through Zerubbabel and his descendents right up to the time of the chronicler himself. The settlers are being provided with a connection to the greatest King and the greatest era in the history of Israel by showing how the exiles are descendents of the great king David and are part of the royal line.
Chapters 4-8 develop the genealogies of all the tribes of Israel. The tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi receive much more of the chronicler’s attention as they were the largest of the remaining tribes. Most of the other tribes had been hauled away into exile by Assyria in 722 BC. Only a small remnant from the other tribes existed by the time Chronicles was written, having descended either from those who assimilated into Judah after the fall of Israel or those who chose to return after the exile. The tribe of Naphtali, for example, only has a single verse (7:13), suggesting that there were very few left from this tribe and that the records for this tribe were largely missing.
“And Jabez was more honorable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow. And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.” (4:9-10) While most of the genealogies are very obscure to most Christians, 1 Chr 4:9-10 is a very familiar reference. These two passages inspired a very popular book by Bruce Wilkinson, The Prayer of Jabez: Breaking Through to the Blessed Life.
“And in Jerusalem dwelt of the children of Judah, and of the children of Benjamin, and of the children of Ephraim, and Manasseh” (9:3) The genealogies in chapter 9 are a list of those living in Jerusalem. The list shows the duties of various tribes and sub-tribes within the city’s administration. Priests, gatekeepers, singers and musicians, are listed. This serves the basis of re-establishing the religious and civic duties of the retuned exiles. The genealogies finish with the lineage of King Saul from the tribe of Benjamin. (9:35-44)
“So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the LORD, even against the word of the LORD, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to enquire of it; And enquired not of the LORD: therefore he slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse.” (10:13-14) Chapter 10 gives a brief account of the death of Saul, the first of Israel's kings. The chronicler doesn’t spend any time on the reign of Saul and ignores the strife between David and Saul, which occupies so much of the book of Samuel. Chronicles instead emphasizes the unity of the nation by beginning with David being crowned the king over all Israel in Hebron (11:1-3).
“And David and all Israel went to Jerusalem, which is Jebus; where the Jebusites were, the inhabitants of the land. And the inhabitants of Jebus said to David, Thou shalt not come hither. Nevertheless David took the castle of Zion, which is the city of David.” (11:4-5) The rest of I Chronicles is about David. Chronicles emphasizes that from the moment he was anointed king, David was God's king (11:2-3). The first act recorded by the chronicler for David after coming to kingship in Israel was to take over the pagan stronghold of the Jebusites, the city of Jerusalem--God's city. This was the place where God had chosen to put His name among the tribes of Israel.
David established his capitol in Jerusalem, rebuilding and expanding the city. It is for this reason that Jerusalem is called the City of David. Though in ruins, Jerusalem was the central city for those returning from exile. This was a very visible and symbolic connection to the past for the returning exiles.
“These also are the chief of the mighty men whom David had, who strengthened themselves with him in his kingdom, and with all Israel, to make him king, according to the word of the LORD concerning Israel.” (11:10) David’s key supporters were called his “mighty men.” The list of mighty men begins with “the three mighty men” and shares some of their exploits on behalf of David (11:11-19). Then are listed two of David’s top generals, Abshai and Benaiah, who were second only to Joab, David’s top general (11:20-25) along with their exploits. Then the “thirty” are listed (11:26-47). This “thirty” were the elite within David’s army.
“Now these are they that came to David to Ziklag, while he yet kept himself close because of Saul the son of Kish: and they were among the mighty men, helpers of the war. They were armed with bows, and could use both the right hand and the left in hurling stones and shooting arrows out of a bow, even of Saul's brethren of Benjamin.” (12:1-2) During the latter part of King Saul’s reign, David was living in exile in Ziklag. However, many men came out in support of David and joined his army there. These supporters were well equipped and particularly skilled as archers and slingers (12:2). The chronicler especially emphasized that David’s supporters in Ziklag were not just from the tribe of Judah. In fact, there were men from Saul’s own tribe, Benjamin (12:2b, 16). David is being presented, even during a time of division in the kingdom, as a unifying symbol to Israel. He was not just ruler of Judah, but all Israel. Therefore, Just as in the time of David all the sons of Israel who were previously exiled should come together in unity.
“And let us bring again the ark of our God to us: for we enquired not at it in the days of Saul.” (13:3) Secure in his authority as the king over a unified Israel, David desires to establish Jerusalem as both the political and religious capital of the kingdom. Ever since the time of the Exodus, the central focus of the worship of the God of Israel had been around the tabernacle. Within the tabernacle, the center focus of worship was around the Ark of the Covenant. It was through the Ark of the Covenant that God chose to exhibit his glory in a special way so as to demonstrate his presence with the nation of Israel.
The tabernacle was tent of worship was constructed to be mobile so that it could move with the nation as it migrated from Egypt to the Promised Land. However, Israel had been in the land for over 400 years. Yet the ark remained in a mobile tent this entire time. By moving the ark to Jerusalem, David was proclaiming that the nation is no longer a nation on the run, but a firmly established, stable and unified nation tied to this land. Yet, David and the Levites did not move it in the prescribed way and Uzzah died as a result. “And David was afraid of God that day” (13:12) so he left it at the house of Obededom the Gittite for three months
“And David perceived that the LORD had confirmed him king over Israel, for his kingdom was lifted up on high, because of his people Israel.” (14:2) David recognizes that expansion of his kingdom is a result of the favor of God. When he obeys God, his kingdom expands both personally and nationally. David builds a palace for himself. He takes many wives and has many children. While many Christians have been very uncomfortable with David’s harem, it must be noted, in that culture, the size of the king’s family was a sign of success for a king. The Chronicler also recounted David’s great victory over the Philistines as a territorial example of the vast extent of David’s influence, prosperity, and success due to the favor of God.
“Then David said, None ought to carry the ark of God but the Levites: for them hath the LORD chosen to carry the ark of God, and to minister unto him for ever. And David gathered all Israel together to Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the LORD unto his place, which he had prepared for it.” (15:2-3) David had learned from his previous error and made a commitment to transport the ark in the appropriate manner according to the Law of Moses (see Ex 25:12-15; Deut 10:8). The Chronicler portrayed David's second procession of the ark as an example of proper worship toward God. David's devotion to the worship of God in Jerusalem brought celebration. Post-exilic Israel must follow his example to experience this joy in their lives
“Then on that day David delivered first this psalm to thank the LORD into the hand of Asaph and his brethren.” (16:7) David sings a medley of Psalms 105, 96, and 106.
“And it came to pass the same night, that the word of God came to Nathan, saying, Go and tell David my servant, Thus saith the LORD, Thou shalt not build me an house to dwell in:” (17:3-4) Though David desires to build a temple for the Lord, He will not allow it. Instead, “I tell thee that the LORD will build thee an house.” (17:10) God promises David that He will establish David’s son as king and that his son will build the temple (17:11-12). Furthermore, when God takes up residence in the new temple, it will be a sign that God’s kingdom will last forever with the descendents of David ruling forever (17:14).
Chapters 18-20 recount David’s conquering of the neighboring nations. His military victories extended his kingdom as far as the Euphrates River to the north. The chronicler spends the entire 19th chapter retelling David’s war with the nation of Ammon. This war came as a result of an insult to David’s emissaries. David soundly defeats the Ammonites and their allies.
The Chronicler completes his recounting of David’s victories in chapter 20 with a summary of the great battles against Israel’s chief nemesis, the Philistines. This includes many incredible feats such as the defeat of Goliath’s brother and a giant with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot. David's successes demonstrated that the post-exilic community could defeat their enemies with the help of the Lord
“And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.” (21:1) Chronicles skips over nearly all of David’s weaknesses including his adultery with Bathsheba and the rebellion of his son Absalom. However, one sin is recorded by the Chronicler: taking a census.
God had given David’s kingdom peace and prosperity. So much so, that by the end of David’s life he starts becoming proud over all his accomplishments. To quantify these accomplishments, David takes a census of Israel. The results of the census are that there are over 1 million men who could draw the sword in Israel, with 470,000 in Judah alone (21:5). This show of arrogance, however, was a sin against the Lord. By checking to see the size of an army he could muster, he was showing that his confidence was in himself and in the might of Israel rather than in God. As a result, God punishes David by sending a plague in which 70,000 people are killed (21:14). David repents before the Lord and asks that his people be spared, for it was his sin, not the people’s (21:17).
“And David said, Solomon my son is young and tender, and the house that is to be built for the LORD must be exceeding magnifical, of fame and of glory throughout all countries: I will therefore now make preparation for it. So David prepared abundantly before his death.” (22:5) David is not allowed to build the temple because of the wars he has waged (22:8). However, he attempts to get everything ready for the temple to be built. David makes orders for all the building material to be delivered, including the stones, iron nails, and timbers. He also provides the money for the construction and organizes the work parties.
“So when David was old and full of days, he made Solomon his son king over Israel.” (23:1) The book of Kings indicates that the transfer of the crown to Solomon took place amid severe political turmoil (ref. 1 Kgs 1:1-2:46). Adonijah sought the throne and David's court divided between supporters of Adonijah and Solomon. Once this initial struggle was over, Solomon eliminated his political opponents. Yet, Chronicles omits all of these events
Instead, Chronicles focuses on the building of the Temple. Why??? The postexilic remnant demonstrated little zeal to rebuild the temple or to reestablish God's kingdom on earth (Hag. 1:2). The Book of Chronicles was one instrument God used to stir them up to action (cf. Hag. 2:20-23).
After preparing for the construction of the temple, David set up an organization chart for the Levites as the stewards of the temple in chapters 23-26. These same responsibilities remained with the Levites in the days of the Ezra and Nehemiah. Ezra appointed the Levites in his day to be priests and gatekeepers and singers as well “in accordance with the command of David” (Nehemiah 12:45). Thus, Chronicles serves as the template for the organization of the Levitical administration in the post exilic period.
“And David assembled all the princes of Israel, the princes of the tribes, and the captains of the companies that ministered to the king by course, and the captains over the thousands, and captains over the hundreds, and the stewards over all the substance and possession of the king, and of his sons, with the officers, and with the mighty men, and with all the valiant men, unto Jerusalem.” (28:1) After delineating the responsibilities of the military and civil leaders (ch 27), he assembles them all in Jerusalem to publically finalized the transfer of temple responsibilities and royal power from David to Solomon.
David finishes the speech to the assembly with a charge to contribute to the Temple project through a capital pledge campaign. David starts the campaign with the first pledge of 3,000 talents of gold and 7,000 talents of silver and then asks, “And who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the LORD?” (29:5) The result?: “Then the chief of the fathers and princes of the tribes of Israel and the captains of thousands and of hundreds, with the rulers of the king's work, offered willingly, And gave for the service of the house of God of gold five thousand talents and ten thousand drams, and of silver ten thousand talents, and of brass eighteen thousand talents, and one hundred thousand talents of iron.” (29:6-7)
1 Chronicles ends with the proclamation of David’s death, who “died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honor” (29:28), having reigned over Israel for 40 years. As the reign of David closed, God had already fulfilled many of His promises in the Davidic Covenant. Yet many remained unfulfilled. This fulfillment of the promises of the Davidic Covenant motif is continued through the history of David and Solomon's successors that follows in 2 Chronicles.
The Chronicler's main emphasis in sharing the events of David's reign focused on the Davidic Covenant with its promises to David and his descendants. In recounting the events of Solomon's reign Chronicles emphasizes the temple that Solomon built. Almost everything Chronicles mentions about Solomon ties in with the temple somehow. The rest of 2 Chronicles evaluates how well the kings who succeeded Solomon cared for the temple and perpetuated temple worship.
“And Solomon the son of David was strengthened in his kingdom, and the LORD his God was with him, and magnified him exceedingly.” (2 Ch 1:1) 2 Chronicles begins with Solomon’s rule securely established Solomon goes to Gibeon to offer sacrifices to the Lord. While the Ark of the Covenant had been moved to Jerusalem, the tabernacle of Moses remained in Gibeon and remained the appropriate place to offer sacrifices. Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings (1:6).
“In that night did God appear unto Solomon, and said unto him, Ask what I shall give thee.” (2 Ch 1:7) While offering sacrifices, God spoke to Solomon, telling him that He would give Solomon whatever he asks. Solomon responds first with thanksgiving for making him king. He then asks for wisdom and knowledge so that he can rule over the people well (1:10). God grants Solomon his request because it was an unselfish request motivated by his concern for the people. Additionally, God gives riches and honor to Solomon (1:12). According to 1 Kings 4:29-34, because of the gift of God, Solomon becomes more wise than all the wise men of the east and Egypt, and he becomes famous for his wisdom.
“And Solomon determined to build a house for the name of the LORD, and a house for his kingdom.” (2 Chr 2:1) Solomon begins by requesting cedar timber and skilled workmen from Hiram (Huram), the king of Tyre (2:3-10).
“Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem in mount Moriah, where the Lord appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared in the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.” (2 Chr 3:1) This was the same Mount Moriah where Abraham prepared to offer Isaac and received a substitute for Isaac (see Gen 22:1-19). Also, the threshing floor was the location where God demonstrated great mercy to David by forgiving David of his sins and healing the land (see 1 Chr 21)
Chapter 3 outlines the dimension and layout of the temple. While the Temple was small by modern standards, the interior decorations are extravagant. All the beams, walls, doors, and thresholds were overlaid in gold.
“Moreover he made an altar of brass, twenty cubits the length thereof, and twenty cubits the breadth thereof, and ten cubits the height thereof. Also he made a molten sea of ten cubits from brim to brim, round in compass, and five cubits the height thereof; and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.” (2 Chr 4:1-2) Chapter 4 describes the “bronze sea,” a great water feature in the courtyard and the large bronze altar. The furnishings and utensils for the temple are also itemized and all were made from the purest gold. The furnishings and ritual taught in the Mosaic Law reminded everyone who viewed them lessons about God (Christ), man, and the relationship between them that God's grace had made possible.
“Thus all the work that Solomon made for the house of the LORD was finished: and Solomon brought in all the things that David his father had dedicated; and the silver, and the gold, and all the instruments, put he among the treasures of the house of God. Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the children of Israel, unto Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of the city of David, which is Zion.” (2 Chr 5:1-2) In chapter 5, Solomon dedicates the Temple during the Feast of Tabernacles (5:3). The whole temple was a tribute to the greatness of Yahweh. The ark of the covenant is brought into the temple. The priests bring the ark out of the tent and place it in the holy of holies under the wings of the cherubim.
The Tabernacle (Tent of Meeting) and all the furnishings were also put inside the Temple. Solomon, therefore, completed the centralization of worship in Jerusalem. No longer would worship be split between Jerusalem and Gibeon as it had in David's reign and in Solomon's early years (Ref. 1 Chr 16:37-42; 2 Chr 1:4-5) Then all the Levitical singers lift a song of praise to glorify Yahweh. In the midst of the celebration, a cloud comes and fills the temple. Just as in Exodus 40, when Moses built the tabernacle, God’s glory entered the temple. His glory was so great that the priests could not enter the temple.
“But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built!” (2 Chr 6:18) In chapter 6, Solomon sees the descent of God’s glory on the Temple, and He explains to the people what this means. God has fulfilled His promise to David, and Solomon has fulfilled his vow to David to complete the temple. However, Solomon affirms that this temple does not hold God. But Solomon does ask that God would use the temple as a symbol of his presence, so that when Israel prays facing the Temple, He would answer their prayers.
“And the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice. If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chr 7:12-14) God affirms that He has honored Solomon’s request that the temple become the focal point of Israel’s worship and prayers. Thus, if the people repent and pray towards the temple, God will hear them, and re-establish them. This promise of God would be of great comfort to the exiles. Though 7:14 is often quoted, these instructions were only for those who are in a covenantal relationship with God.
“And it came to pass at the end of twenty years, wherein Solomon had built the house of the LORD, and his own house, that the cities which Huram had restored to Solomon, Solomon built them, and caused the children of Israel to dwell there.” (2 Chr 8:1-2) God gave Solomon wisdom and wealth as He had promised (1:12). He was successful politically and economically as evidenced by the Chronicler’s examples of several building projects.
“And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon, she came to prove Solomon with hard questions at Jerusalem, with a very great company, and camels that bare spices, and gold in abundance, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart.” (2 Chr 9:1) Solomon’s wisdom and wealth had made him a very famous person in his time. People from all over the world would come to see the greatness of this kingdom. The most famous of these was the Queen of Sheba. The queen came with a huge entourage, including camels, spices, and gold. She quizzes Solomon to see if his wisdom is real. Solomon exceeds the queen’s expectations and acknowledges the source of Solomon’s strengths: “Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee to set thee on his throne, to be king for the LORD thy God: because thy God loved Israel, to establish them for ever, therefore made he thee king over them, to do judgment and justice.” (2 Chr 9:8) The chapter ends with the record of Solomon’s vast influence and death after reigning for 40 years.
The rest of Chronicles traces the monarchy through the Davidic line There is a considerable portion of the book of Kings histories of the Judean monarchs found in Chronicles. However, there is a difference in the emphasis. While the book of Kings stresses the cumulative failure of the monarchy, Chronicles is more concerned with the evaluation of each monarch’s life focusing on the positive as much as possible. Chronicles also draws attention to the faith or disobedience of the king at the end of his reign, if that differs from his earlier response to God. Therefore, in contrast with the book of Kings, Chronicles highlights repentance and/or defection from the faith. Thus, Chronicles emphasizes that every generation must experience the appropriate blessings or judgments for their faithfulness. Good or evil do not accumulate; instead, each individual or generation is judged for its own guilt.
Reign of Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 10-12) “And Rehoboam went to Shechem: for to Shechem were all Israel come to make him king.” (2 Chr 10:1) Solomon has died and his son Rehoboam ascends to the throne. Rehoboam splits the Davidic Kingdom in two because he refuses to reform some of the harsh policies of his father. Thus, the ten northern tribes make Jeroboam their king. This leaves only two tribes (Judah and Benjamin) in the Southern Kingdom, known as Judah However, the priests and the Levites living in the Northern Kingdom leave and return to Jerusalem.
After the kingdom divides, Chronicles concentrates on Judah (southern kingdom) - Israel (northern kingdom) only receives mention when it interacts with Judah To display the blessing of God toward Judah during the early divided monarchy, the Chronicler noted that the number of soldiers increased over the first four reigns of the divided monarchy. Rehoboam had 180,000 soldiers (11:1); Abijah's army numbered 400,000 (13:3); Asa had 580,000 (14:8); Jehoshaphat mustered 1,160,000 men (17:14-19).
“And it came to pass, when Rehoboam had established the kingdom, and had strengthened himself, he forsook the law of the LORD, and all Israel with him.” (2 Chr 12:1) Rehoboam facilitates idol worship and abandons the Law of the Lord. God disciplines Rehoboam by sending Shishak, the king of Egypt. The people respond with humility and God removes his chastening hand. Rehoboam ruled in Jerusalem 41 years.
Reign of Abijah (2 Chronicles 13) “Now in the eighteenth year of king Jeroboam began Abijah to reign over Judah.” (2 Chr 13:1) The monarchy continues with Rehoboam’s son Abijah, who reigned three years. The Chronicler's version is approximately three times larger than Kings. He devoted 23 verses to Abijah, whereas the writer of Kings only gave 8 verses. Kings dismisses Abijah as evil and explains that he reigned only because of God's promise to David (1 Kgs 15:3-6). Yet, Chronicles focused on the positive aspects of his reign by greatly expanding 1 Kgs 15:7b into a full-scale account of a battle between Abijah and Jeroboam (13:2b-21). In this battle, Abijah received a tremendous victory because of his fidelity to God.
Reign of Asa (2 Chronicles 14-16) “So Abijah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David: and Asa his son reigned in his stead. In his days the land was quiet ten years. And Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God:” (2 Chr 14:1-2) Asa becomes King of Judah when his father Abijah dies. The Chronicler's record of Asa differs significantly from its parallel in Kings. This difference is evident in that Chronicles increases the 16 verses of Kings into 47 verses. The book of Kings is oriented toward only one battle in Asa's reign, but Chronicles focuses on two conflicts. These two battles permit the Chronicler to draw striking contrasts between the earlier and later years of Asa, who reigned for 41 years. Thus, although Asa started strong in the faith and obeying God, his final days were filled with spiritual failure.
Reign of Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 17-20) “And Jehoshaphat his son reigned in his stead, and strengthened himself against Israel… And the LORD was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the first ways of his father David, and sought not unto Baalim;” (2 Chr 17:1,3) The Chronicler more than doubled the size of material devoted to Jehoshaphat compared to the account found in Kings (50 verses in Kings and 104 verses in Chronicles). Early in his reign Jehoshaphat walked with the Lord. He implemented many spiritual reforms through out the kingdom, including commissioning priests to teach the Law throughout Judah. Early in his reign, Jehoshaphat had shown himself to be faithful like King David in several similar ways; thus, the Chronicler notes, “And the fear of the LORD fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were round about Judah, so that they made no war against Jehoshaphat.” (2 Chron 17:10). Therefore Jehoshaphat served as an illustration for the exiles to explain the means by which security and peace could come to the people who were devoted to God.
“Now Jehoshaphat had riches and honor in abundance, and joined affinity with Ahab.” (2 Chron 18:1) Unfortunately, Jehoshaphat made alliances with other kingdoms (including the wicked king Ahab of the Northern Kingdom) in order to gain political stability in the geographic region. Specifically, the alliance with the Northern Kingdom was done through a marriage between Jehoshaphat's son Jehoram and Ahab's daughter Athaliah (ref. 2 Chron 21:6; 22:2). Jehoshaphat even helps Ahab in a forewarned ill-fated battle against the Syrians, which claimed the life of King Ahab.
“And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD.” (2 Chron 19:2) Despite the many spiritual reforms enacted, Jehoshaphat was rebuked for be involved with the sinful northern Israelite kingdom. Jehoshaphat's reign therefore illustrated the blessings derived from fidelity and warned of troubles that come to anyone who compromised with the unfaithful.
“It came to pass after this also, that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle…And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.” (2 Chron 20:1,3) The Chronicler added a second battle in the reign of Jehoshaphat which contrasts with his previous battle in chapter 18. Instead of forming an alliance to help the wicked, Jehoshaphat faced the challenge of war with complete fidelity to God. Thus with complete confidence, Jehoshaphat proclaims, “Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's.” (2 Chron 20:15)
Reign of Jehoram (2 Chronicles 21) “Now when Jehoram was risen up to the kingdom of his father, he strengthened himself, and slew all his brethren with the sword, and divers also of the princes of Israel…And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, like as did the house of Ahab: for he had the daughter of Ahab to wife: and he wrought that which was evil in the eyes of the LORD.” (2 Chron 21:4,6) Jehoram was evil in the sight of the Lord. His first act was to murder his brothers to gain full control over the throne. This is the first king in which the Chronicler is totally negative. Due to his consistent wickedness, God’s wrath falls on Jehoram: “And after all this the LORD smote him in his bowels with an incurable disease. And it came to pass, that in process of time, after the end of two years, his bowels fell out by reason of his sickness: so he died of sore diseases.” (2 Chron 21:18-19)
Reign of Ahaziah (2 Chronicles 22) “And the inhabitants of Jerusalem made Ahaziah his youngest son king in his stead: for the band of men that came with the Arabians to the camp had slain all the eldest. So Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah reigned… He also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab: for his mother was his counsellor to do wickedly.” (2 Chron 22:1,3) Ahaziah’s mother was Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. Because of his apostasy Jehu executed Ahaziah along with his uncle Jehoram, the king of Israel. Ahaziah had no descendants who could immediately succeed him on the throne when he died because His mother killed all his sons except Joash, whom the high priest and his wife hid away when he was only an infant. Thus, Athaliah seized power and reigned over the land (2 Chron 22:9-11).
“And all the congregation made a covenant with the king in the house of God. And he said unto them, Behold, the king's son shall reign, as the LORD hath said of the sons of David.” (2 Chron 23:3) Though she ruled for six years, the Chronicler did not have much interest in Athaliah because she was not of the Davidic line. When Joash reached the age of 7, he was crowned king by the leaders of Judah. Queen Athaliah was then put to death.
Reign of Joash (2 Chronicles 24) “And Joash did that which was right in the sight of the LORD all the days of Jehoiada the priest.” (2 Chron 24:2) “Now after the death of Jehoiada came the princes of Judah, and made obeisance to the king. Then the king hearkened unto them. And they left the house of the LORD God of their fathers, and served groves and idols: and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this their trespass.” (2 Chron 24:17-18) The Chronicler's record of Joash's reign presents the king as faithful in his early years and unfaithful in his later years. He even had Jehoiada’s son, Zechariah, and his own son killed. Joash became so wicked that “his own servants conspired against him for the blood of the sons of Jehoiada the priest, and slew him on his bed, and he died.” (2 Chron 24:25)
Reign of Amaziah (2 Chronicles 25) “Amaziah was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem…And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, but not with a perfect heart.” (2 Chron 25:1-2) Half-hearted obedience is a central theme in Amaziah’s reign and his next three successors to the throne. The Chronicler selected three events from Amaziah’s reign to illustrate his spiritual inconsistency that led to his demise. A. Amaziah followed the Mosaic Law faithfully in dealing with the people who had killed his father. (2 Chron 25:3-4) B. The king partially obeyed God in his war with the Edomites (2 Chron 25:5-16). C. The king disobeyed God by attacking Israel late in his reign. Instead, Israel destroyed a portion of the wall around Jerusalem and looted the Temple. (2 Chron 25:17-24)
Reign of Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26) “Sixteen years old was Uzziah when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and two years in Jerusalem…And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah did.” (2 Chron 26:3-4) Uzziah, as his father, began well but ended poorly. However, “as long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper.” (2 Chron 26:5) The Hebrew text of Kings calls him "Azariah" (see 2 Kgs 15:1,6,7,8,17,23,27). The Chronicler designated him Uzziah throughout this chapter. "Uzziah" appears here and in Isa 1:1; Hos 1:1; Am 1:1; Zech 14:5; 2 Kgs 15:13,30,32,34. Most scholars agree that one name was given to the king at birth and the other at the time of his enthronement. Azariah ("Yahweh helps") was probably his personal name. Uzziah ("Yahweh is strong") was the king's throne name.
Uzziah began as an outstanding leader and spiritual reformer of Judah. He built fortifications and strengthened Jerusalem. He had major military success against the Philistines. However, Uzziah lost his humility and began to take personal credit for his success: “But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction” (2 Chron 26:16) His pride led to self-exaltation—he put himself over God. He entered the temple to burn incense. God had given explicit instructions that only the priests could perform this temple ritual. The priests stopped Uzziah but not before he was instantly struck with leprosy. Thus “Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death…” (2 Chron 26:21)
Reign of Jotham (2 Chronicles 27) “Jotham was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem…And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Uzziah did: howbeit he entered not into the temple of the LORD. And the people did yet corruptly.” (2 Chron 27:1-2) Jotham continued the reforms of his father Uzziah. He made improvements to the temple and did extensive work on the walls of Jerusalem. The only negative detail that the Chronicler includes is a reference to idol worship. This suggests that Jotham tolerated idol worship and did not actively stop the practice.
Reign of Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28) “Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem: but he did not that which was right in the sight of the LORD, like David his father: For he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and made also molten images for Baalim.” (2 Chron 28:1-2) In the book of Chronicles, Ahaz represented the worst of Judah's kings. God punishes his sin by allowing the Arameans (Syrians) to invade and deliver over 200,000 prisoners into the hands of the King of Israel.
“And Ahaz gathered together the vessels of the house of God, and cut in pieces the vessels of the house of God, and shut up the doors of the house of the LORD, and he made him altars in every corner of Jerusalem.” (2 Chron 28:24) To demonstrate the depth of Ahaz's apostasy, the Chronicler noted that the king stopped all worship of the Lord. In fact, there is no mention of any repentance and Ahaz became completely consumed with worshipping other gods (2 Chron 28:23,25)
God poured his wrath on Judah because of Ahaz’s apostasy: “For the LORD brought Judah low because of Ahaz king of Israel; for he made Judah naked, and transgressed sore against the LORD.” (2 Chron 28:19) Sadly, yet…”And in the time of his distress did he trespass yet more against the LORD: this is that king Ahaz.” (2 Chron 28:22)
Reign of Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 29-32) “Hezekiah began to reign when he was five and twenty years old, and he reigned nine and twenty years in Jerusalem…And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done.” (2 Chron 29:1-2) The Chronicler gives more space to Hezekiah than any other king and he stands in contrast to the evil King Ahaz. While the book of Kings merely reports Hezekiah's destruction of idolatry in a brief notice (2 Kgs 18:4) and his success due to compliance with the Law of Moses (2 Kgs 18:5-7), Chronicles focuses a great deal of the narrative on Hezekiah's worship reforms throughout the land (29:1-31:2) For the Chronicler, Hezekiah's re-establishment of the temple and its services was the most important aspect of the king's reign.
“He in the first year of his reign, in the first month, opened the doors of the house of the LORD, and repaired them.” (2 Chron 29:3) The first year of Hezekiah's reign is his most important in relation to the reforms. 81 verses (three chapters) describe the first seven months of the king's reign, which was devoted to the restoration of the temple and its services. The Chronicler emphasized that a new era had dawned for Judah, symbolized by the opening of the temple doors, which reversed the apostasy of his father.
“And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, to keep the passover unto the LORD God of Israel.” (2 Chron 30:1) Hezekiah desired to hold a national Passover celebration in Jerusalem by inviting the remnant of the northern tribes left behind in Israel after the Assyrian captivity to participate. The reaction to Hezekiah's invitation was mixed. Many of the people scorned and ridiculed the couriers (30:10), but some men from several northern tribes humbled themselves and went to Jerusalem (30:11). Nevertheless, since a great majority of Judah also came to celebrate, it was such a great success that the people decided to extend the festivity by an additional seven days (30:23).
Hezekiah initiated many reforms that brought the temple back toward its ideal order including re-establishing divisions among the priests and Levites as well as a system of tithing. He also worked diligently on developing a permanent arrangement for temple services. Chronicles summarizes Hezekiah’s commitment: “And thus did Hezekiah throughout all Judah, and wrought that which was good and right and truth before the LORD his God. And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered.” (2 Chron 31:20-21)
“After these things, and the establishment thereof, Sennacherib king of Assyria came, and entered into Judah, and encamped against the fenced cities, and thought to win them for himself.” (2 Chron 32:1) The Assyrian invasion narrative is much shorter in Chronicles than Kings and completely omits Hezekiah's attempt to appease Sennacherib by paying him tribute from the royal treasuries and the temple. Instead, the Chronicler emphasizes God’s public mockery of the Assyrian king who had so defiantly threatened Jerusalem and ridiculed her God by sending a single angel to destroy most of his army. Thus, Sennacherib “returned with shame of face to his own land. And when he was come into the house of his god, they that came forth of his own bowels slew him there with the sword.” (2 Chron 32:21)
Reign of Manasseh (2 Chronicles 33:1-20) “Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem: But did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, like unto the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel.” (2 Chron 33:1-2) Manasseh was an evil king who worshipped the gods of other nations and placed idols in the temple. (33:3-4) Manasseh was taken prisoner by Assyria. While in chains, Manasseh “humbled himself greatly” (33:12) and prayed to the Lord for deliverance. God heard his prayer and brought him back to Jerusalem, where he “repaired the altar of the LORD, and sacrificed thereon peace offerings and thank offerings, and commanded Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel.” (33:16) Thus, while Kings presents an entirely negative portrait of Manasseh (2 Kgs 21:1-18), Chronicles gives Manasseh an honored status for his repentance and restoration efforts.
Reign of Amon (2 Chronicles 33:21-25) “Amon was two and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned two years in Jerusalem. But he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, as did Manasseh his father: for Amon sacrificed unto all the carved images which Manasseh his father had made, and served them;” (2 Chron 33:21-22) Amon followed in the wicked character traits of his father but unfortunately he “humbled not himself before the LORD, as Manasseh his father had humbled himself; but Amon trespassed more and more.” (2 Chron 33:23) Amon’s unceasing rebellion against God brought his kingdom to a swift end and “his servants conspired against him, and slew him in his own house.” (2 Chron 33:24)
Reign of Josiah (2 Chronicles 34-35) “Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem one and thirty years. And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the ways of David his father, and declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left.” (2 Chron 34:1-2) Josiah passionately brought reform to the people and walked with the Lord. He removed the idols and cut down the alters of the baals. Josiah also directed the priests to make the necessary repairs to the Temple. While the temple was under repair, the book of the Law was discovered. For many years, the Torah was neglected and unknown throughout Judah. When the Law is discovered, Josiah has it read to him. “And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the law, that he rent his clothes.” (34:19). Furthermore, God declares that disaster is coming upon the people for their disobedience. However, due to Josiah’s repentant spirit, God promised that Judah’s punishment would not happen in Josiah’s lifetime. In faithful response, “the king stood in his place, and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep his commandments, and his testimonies, and his statutes, with all his heart, and with all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant which are written in this book.” (34:31)
“After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Necho king of Egypt came up to fight against Charchemish by Euphrates: and Josiah went out against him. But he sent ambassadors to him, saying, What have I to do with thee, thou king of Judah? I come not against thee this day, but against the house wherewith I have war: for God commanded me to make haste: forbear thee from meddling with God, who is with me, that he destroy thee not.” (2 Chron 35:20-21) Fearing the advance of the Babylonians, Pharaoh Neco and the Egyptian army were on their way to assist the Assyrians. Josiah died at Megiddo when he “hearkened not unto the words of Necho from the mouth of God,” (35:22) and tried to impede the Egyptian military march.
Fall of Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 36) The last chapter of the book is a quick summary of the last four kings of Judah. Nebuchadnezzar finally destroyed Jerusalem and burned the Temple in 586 B.C. The burning of the temple symbolized the end of God's glory and presence among His people in the land that He had given them to occupy. God had descended on the temple in a cloud. Now He left it in smoke.
“And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia: To fulfil the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years.” (2 Chron 36:20-21) The Babylonian captivity is described in 2 Chronicles as the fulfillment of the prophecy by Jeremiah and directly alludes to Leviticus: “Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, saith the LORD, and Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these nations round about, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, and an hissing, and perpetual desolations…And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.” (Jer 25:9,11) “And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste. Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemies' land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths. As long as it lieth desolate it shall rest; because it did not rest in your sabbaths, when ye dwelt upon it. And upon them that are left alive of you I will send a faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies;…The land also shall be left of them, and shall enjoy her sabbaths, while she lieth desolate without them: and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity: because, even because they despised my judgments, and because their soul abhorred my statutes.” (Leviticus 26:34-36, 43)
“Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The LORD his God be with him, and let him go up.” (2 Chron 36:22-23) The book ends with the decree of Cyrus which serves as a bridge to the book of Ezra. Rather than ending with the failure of man the writer concluded by focusing our attention on the faithfulness of God. God was in control of the Persian king as He had controlled the kings of Babylon, Egypt, and Israel. God had promised Israel a future as a nation. His people would experience this future under the rule of a perfect Davidic Son. Thus, even though the Babylonian army had burned Yahweh's temple to the ground (36:19) it would rise again (36:23).
Just so we don’t miss the main point… By retelling the story of God’s people, Chronicles reminds us of the priority and central focus of worship. Worship is more than mere ritual on a specified day; it is only acceptable to God through an active covenant relationship. The greatest worship we can do is to live out Jesus Christ before the world so that people may know Him. God is glorified through a transformation of our lives that enable Him to use us to reveal Himself to the world around us. And as people respond to what they see of Christ in us, God will be glorified and people will come to know Him.