Monday, May 9

Book Overview: 2nd Chronicles

The Book of Chronicles, which was originally one book and not two separate books, covers the genealogy of King David all the way back to Adam, it deals with instructions on the Temple, details the reign of King Saul, King David, King Solomon, as well as others, and ends with the Babylonian Exile. 2nd Chronicles contains 36 chapters, and while 1st and 2nd Samuel (as well as 1st and 2nd Kings) concern both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Israel and Judah, the Book of Chronicles only deals with the kingdom of Judah. *Note: Because 1st and 2nd Chronicles are part of a whole, much of what was in the previous book overview has carried over into this overview. (Photo credit: Marco Prins and Jona Lendering - The Cyrus Cylinder [see http://www.livius.org/], eBibleTeacher - Hezekiah's Tunnel)

This is the fourteenth Book Overview in a series of 66 Books. These overviews are written so that it may provide readers with details about the book, things that they may have missed, and will hopefully peak your interest so that you will read the book, the entire Bible in fact, as God wants us to do. If we do not stand on Biblical truth, our starting point for all areas of life. Now, onto the Book of 2nd Chronicles.
Title: 2nd Book of Chronicles (English), Dibh're Hayyamim - דברי הימים (Hebrew), Paralipomenon - Παραλειπομένων (Greek) In the Masoretic Text, it appears as part of the Tanakh, specifically in the Ketuvim. (Meaning, "Writings") However, generally, the Book of Chronicles is split into two books: 1st and 2nd Chronicles. This is because of the order found in the Septuagint. They appear directly after 1st/2nd Samuel and 1st/2nd Kings, rehashing the general points of those four books, a bit like a summary with added details. 

As noted, in Hebrew it is called Divrei Hayyamim (also Dibh're Hayyamim), meaning "the matters [of] the days," based on "sefer divrei ha-yamim le-malkhei Yehudah" as well as "sefer divrei ha-yammim lemalkhei Israel," meaning "book of the days of the kings of Judah" and "book of the days of the kings of Israel," respectively. The Book of Chronicles was originally assumed to be the source material from which the Book of Samuel (1st/2nd Samuel) and the Book of Kings1st/2nd Kings) were composed. In Greek, as aforementioned, Chronicles is called Paralipomenon, meaning, "that which has been left out or left to one side."

There is a Chronicles-Ezra-Nehemiah theory which states that Chronicles contains material that was set aside from the rest of the book of Ezra, which was canonized before Chronicles. Though heavily debated, some scholars believe that Ezra, Nehemiah, and 1st/2nd Chronicles were originally part of one work. It ought to be noted, however, that this view is not held by all, and many scholars believe this is highly improbable.

Authorship/Written: 2nd Chronicles was written ca. 450-425 BC. Tradition holds that Ezra is the author of both 1st and 2nd Chronicles, though not all scholars agree. Some believe that 1st and 2nd Chronicles were written by the Priestly Order, while others still hold that Ezra wrote it. 2nd Chronicles ends with Cyrus' proclamation that the Jews were able to return to their land. (539 BC) Also, 1st Chronicles 3:17-24 lists six names after Zerubbabel. These names could represent six successive generations proceeding Zerubbabel, covering about 100 years. (525-425 BC) However, it has also been suggested that these names represent the sons of Zerubbabel and not successive generations.

As aforementioned, the Book of Chronicles bears continuity with Ezra and Nehemiah, which were probably written by Ezra. (Although some believe Nehemiah was written by Nehemiah) 2nd Chronicles ends with the same verse which Ezra begins with, and both speak from the same vantage point. Note that the Jewish Talmud ascribes Chronicles to Ezra. Ezra, as the leader of the remnant, was probably a chronicles of the returnees. In 2nd Maccabees 2:13 we read that Nehemiah, the governor, "founded a library and collected books about the kings and prophets and the writings of David..." Now, if this is true, then this indicates that Nehemiah's close associate, Ezra, would have had access to these sources when compiling and composing the Book of Chronicles. There are several sources noted in both 1st and 2nd Chronicles
-The Chronicles of Samuel the Seer (1st Chronicles 29:29)
-The Chronicles of Nathan the Seer (1st Chronicles 29:29)
-The Chronicles of Gad the Seer (1st Chronicles 29:29)
-The History of Nathan the Prophet (2nd Chronicles 9:29)
-The Chronicles of Shemaiah the Prophet and Iddo (2nd Chronicles 12:15)
-The Story of the Prophet Iddo (2nd Chronicles 13:22)
-The Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel (2nd Chronicles 16:11)
-The Chronicles of Jehu, recorded in the book of the kings of Israel (2nd Chronicles 20:34)
-The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel (2nd Chronicles 33:18)

By examining Scripture, we can determine that, yes, the Holy Spirit did write through about forty different authors over a span of approximately 1600 years, but allowed them to use personal experiences and sources for the books, however, if there was ever a mistake or error, the Holy Spirit would correct it, and allow the writer to continue afterward. So merely because Ezra (or whomever wrote 2nd Chronicles) used several sources does not discount nor discredit the book's divine message, authenticity, and authority. It gives it credence. 

Ezra likely compiled 1st and 2nd Chronicles because he was concerned about building a strong and true spiritual foundation for the people. He did this to emphasize the importance of racial and religious purity, the temple, the proper place of the law, as well as the priesthood. Instead of going into detail on the activities of the kings and priests, Ezra focuses instead on the relationship of God to His chosen people.

Summary: "2 Chronicles purpose is to demonstrate that rejection of God leads to destruction while obedience to him leads to salvation. 2 Chronicles uses the history of the good kings of Israel and Judah to show how deference to God brings prosperity, and uses the history of the evil kings of Israel to show that disobeying God leads to eradication." (Source: NIV)

Overview: 2nd Chronicles 1-9 - Solomon's reign

2nd Chronicles 10-36 - Kingdom of Judah
Chapters Expounded:
2nd Chronicles 1 - Solomon asks for wisdom
2nd Chronicles 9 - Visit from the Queen of Sheba
2nd Chronicles 10 - Rehoboam becomes king, the kingdom divides
2nd Chronicles 12 - Egypt invades Judah
2nd Chronicles 13 - King Abijah at war with Israel
2nd Chronicles 14-16 - King Asa's reign
2nd Chronicles 17-20 - Jehoshaphat's reign
2nd Chronicles 21 - King Jehoram's reign
2nd Chronicles 22 - King Ahaziah's reign, reign of Queen Athaliah and revolt
2nd Chronicles 24 - Temple repaired by King Joash
2nd Chronicles 25 - Reign of King Amaziah
2nd Chronicles 26 - Reign of King Azariah (Uzziah)
2nd Chronicles 27 - Reign of King Jotham
2nd Chronicles 28 - Reign of King Ahaz
2nd Chronicles 29-32 - Hezekiah's reign. Conduit built, "Reverse Day" mentioned
2nd Chronicles 33 - Reign of Manasseh and Amon
2nd Chronicles 34-35 - Reign of Josiah, Passover celebrated
2nd Chronicles 36 - Reigns of Jehoahaz (Joahaz), Jehoiakim, and Jehoiachin
2nd Chronicles 36 - King Zedekiah's reign, the Fall of Jerusalem and Exile to Babylon

The following chart was adapted from and can be found in the work, A Popular Survey of the Old Testament by Norman L. Geisler:
Samuel-Kings: Historical Event
Chronicles: Theological Explanation or Implication
1st Samuel 12 – Isaac’s son called Jacob (“supplanter”)
1st Chronicles 1 – Isaac’s son called Israel (“prince with God”)
1st Samuel 31 – Philistines killed Saul.
1st Chronicles 10 – God killed Saul.
2nd Samuel 2:8 – Saul’s son called Ish-bosheth (“man of shame”)
1st Chronicles 8:33 – He is called Esh-baal (“man of Baal”)
2nd Samuel 6 – One chapter on the recovery of the Ark of the Covenant.
1st Chronicles 13, 15-16 – Three chapters on the recovery of the Ark of the Covenant.
2nd Samuel 6 – Uzziah was smitten.
1st Chronicles 15Why Uzziah was smitten.
2nd Samuel 7 – David is told he cannot build the temple.
1st Chronicles 15Why David could not build the Temple.
2nd Samuel 11-12 – David’s sin involving Bathsheba
Chronicles – No reference; God forgives and forgets.
2nd Samuel 24 – David sinned in numbering Israel.
1st Chronicles – Satan instigated David to number Israel.
1st Kings 11:1 - Solomon’s sin.
2nd Chronicles 9 – No reference to the sin.

It is noted that some may object, "God killed Saul? Isn't that a violation of the sixth commandment?" Succinctly put, no, it is not a violation. For one, the phrase "Do not kill" is a mistranslation found in the KJV translation. It actually translates, "Do not murder." If someone comes in my room in the middle of the night to murder me and I retaliate in self-defense because if I do not, I will be murdered, and accidentally - or even intentionally - kill the person who intends to murder me, I am not murdering him, I am killing in self-defense. Likewise, in the Hebrew Bible, God had the Israelites wipe out nations for this simple fact: to protect the bloodline of Jesus Christ. If the Israelites were wiped out by a surrounding nation, Jesus never would have been born into the correct conditions, nor would King David, or King Solomon, thus eliminating the time, conditions, date, bloodline, and place for Jesus' birth. It was important to protect the bloodline, thus the reason for the Old Covenant, and why we find killing in the Hebrew Bible.

As an aside, there appear to be four divisions within 2nd Chronicles
  • Loyalty to God
  • Forsaking God
  • Seeking God
  • Serving God
Points: Cyrus the Great, whose name was recorded in prophecy of Isaiah 44:28, 45:1, 13, a few hundred years before his birth, fulfilled these prophecies in 2nd Chronicles 36:22-23 and Ezra 1:1-4. Cyrus issued what is known as the Cyrus Decree, allowing the captives to return to their own lands. Archaeology has confirmed these things: Cyrus' tomb has been found, as has a record of his conquest. This is called the Cyrus Cylinder, a clay cylinder found in 1879 which was inscribed in Babylonian cuneiform, and is an account of Cyrus' conquest of Babylon in 539 BC. This agrees with what we find in God's Word. Yet another confirmation of biblical truth.

In 2nd Chronicles we often come across the phrase, "Seek the Lord." By seeking the Lord, it leads to blessing, success, and victory. Also, 2nd Chronicles stresses that prayer and reliance on God is the secret to success. Essentially, the message that 2nd Chronicles tries to convey is that believing, seeking, obeying, loving, and serving God are requisite to our relationship with God, including our spiritual walk in general.

Cyrus' decree went out in the first year of his reign, in order to fulfill what was prophesied through Jeremiah and Isaiah, as aforementioned. His proclamation read, "The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has anointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you - may the LORD their God be with them, and let them go up." (2nd Chronicles 36:23)

Shishak, king of Egypt who attacked Jerusalem, was allowed by God to invade because, according to the word of the Lord given to the prophet Shemaiah, "You have abandoned me; therefore, I now abandon you to Shishak." According to Alan Millard, "Shishak's men marched through the land, visiting, sometimes destroying, as many as 150 towns and villages. Returning home victorious, Shishak set about building temples at Memphis in the north and Thebes (Karnak) in the south. Only the Theban one survives. There a length of wall still stands around a great courtyard. Near one gateway the stones are carved with a huge picture of the pharaoh in triumph. Beside him are the names of the towns and villages he conquered in Israel... to remind the conquered people of his victory, Shishak had a stone slab set up in Megiddo with his name and titles engraved on it. A small piece of this was found in the ruins of Megiddo... bearing Shishak's name." These archaeological discoveries provide credence to the biblical account.

Hezekiah's Tunnel. (Credit: ebibleteacher)
The famous conduit that was created in Hezekiah's time is a popular tourist spot in Jerusalem. It was built to secure his water-supply from the invaders. The water was channeled from the Spring of Gihon to the Pool of Siloam. The channel itself is around 520 meters (1700 feet) long, and it winds to follow the lie of the rock it was hewn out of. In 1880, a young boy who had been bathing in the Pool of Siloam found the following inscription: "...And this is the story of the piercing through. While (the stone cutters were swinging their) axes, each towards his fellow, and while they were yet three cubits to be pierced through, (there was heard) the voice of a man calling to his fellows, for their was a crevice on the right... And on the day of the piercing through, the stone cutters struck through, each to meet his fellow, axe against axe. Then ran the water from the Spring to the Pool for 1200 cubits, and 100 cubits was the height of the rock above the heads of the stone-cutters."

Another archaeological discovery provides support for the biblical account, specifically 2nd Chronicles. A small 6th-century clay tablet, which is part of the Babylonian Chronicle, records the defeat of the Egyptians at the Battle of Carchemish in 605 BC. King Josiah of Judah had lost his life by trying to intercept the pharaoh on his march north, even though he was warned not to embark on the quest. He paid for this with his life.

There are several important quotes we can find in 2nd Chronicles. For instance, 2nd Chronicles 6:36a says, "there is no one who does not sin." The apostle Paul echoes this in Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned..." Also, 2nd Chronicles 15:2b says, "The Lord is with you when you are with Him. If you seek Him; He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you." This is a spiritual truth, one we must bear in mind. Jesus echoed this at different points in His ministry. Another important verse is 2nd Chronicles 16:9a, "For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him." 2nd Chronicles 30:20 and 27 are important to note: "And the LORD heard Hezekiah and healed the people... their prayer reached heaven." These two verse demonstrate the importance of prayer, and that our prayer truly reach God.

The Holy Spirit, sometimes referred to in both the Old and New Testament as the Spirit of God, or Spirit of the Lord, makes several appearances in 2nd Chronicles. 2nd Chronicles 15:1 says, "The Spirit of God came on Azariah son of Obed." 2nd Chronicles 20:14 conveys, "Then the Spirit of the LORD came on Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite and descendant of Asaph, as he stood in the assembly." Again in 2nd Chronicles 24:20, "Then the Spirit of God came on Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest. He stood before the people and said, 'This is what God says: 'Why do you disobey the LORD's commands? You will not prosper. Because you have forsaken the LORD, he has forsaken you.'"  

2nd Chronicles 32:24 and 31 refer to Hezekiah's "Reverse Day," a sign given by God to Hezekiah, conveyed to Him by the prophet Isaiah, in 2nd Kings 20. In 2nd Kings 20:8-11 we read, "'What will be the sign that the Lord will heal me and that I will go up to the temple of the LORD on the third day from now?' Isaiah answered, 'This is what the Lord's sign to you that the LORD will do what he has promised: Shall the shadow [moon] go forward ten steps, or shall it go back ten steps?' 'It is a simple matter for the shadow to go forward ten steps,' said Hezekiah. 'Rather, have it go back ten steps.' Then the prophet Isaiah called on the LORD, and the LORD made the shadow go back the ten steps it had gone down on the stairway of Ahaz." 2nd Chronicles 32:24 refers to this event, "In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. He prayed to the LORD, who answered him and gave him a miraculous sign." Verse 31 notes, "But when envoys were sent by the rulers of Babylon to ask him about the miraculous sign that had occurred in the land, God left him to test him and know everything that was in his heart."

The Israelites were exiled, and "the land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah." (2nd Chronicles 36:21) Cyrus allowed the captives to return to Jerusalem and begin to rebuild, not only the city, but the Temple as well. But the time of return was not without problems...

Next Book Overview: Book of Ezra
Previous Book Overview: Book of 1st Chronicles

Sources:
Geisler, Norman L. A Popular Survey of the Old Testament. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1978. 157. Print. 

Various. Zondervan Handbook To The Bible. Zondervan, 1999. 3rd ed. 320-327. Print.

Kohlenberger III, John R. "Read Through The Bible In a Year." Moody Publishers, 1986. 23. Print.

Wilson, Clifford and Ham, Ken. The New Answers Book 1. 12 ed. Master Books Books, 2006. 315. Print.

Lee, Robert. "The Outlined Bible." London Pickering & Inglis LTD. 1st ed. 14. Print.

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