The Chronicler had set forth how David established his kingdom and the organization of the Temple soon to be built. He now relates how that Temple would be built, and ultimately, how it would be destroyed.
2 Chronicles is the fourteenth book in most English Bibles; in the Hebrew Bible, 2 Chronicles is the very last book, part of the Ketuvim or “Writings.” 1 and 2 Chronicles were originally one book divided in antiquity. 2 Chronicles begins with Solomon’s reign but spends most of its time setting forth the major events in the lives of the kings of Judah (ca. 950-530 BCE). The Chronicler, as the author of 1 and 2 Chronicles is often called, has many affinities with Ezra and may well in fact be Ezra. Both 1 and 2 Chronicles rely on earlier court records, including 1 Samuel through 2 Kings, and were written in their present form sometime around 430-400 BCE. 2 Chronicles narrates the history of Judah from Solomon to the exile in order to encourage the post-exilic community to trust in God in light of the consequences of the disobedience of their forefathers.
2 Chronicles 1:1-9:30 rehearses the story of Solomon very much akin to the story as told in 1 Kings 3:1-10:43, yet without the emphasis on the censure of Solomon for his wives and their idolatry.
The Chronicler then sets forth the kings of Judah and significant events during their reigns (2 Chronicles 10:1-36:21): the revolt against Rehoboam, his attempt to secure his kingdom, the invasion of Shishak/Shoshenq king of Egypt (2 Chronicles 10:1-12:16); Abijah’s victory over Jeroboam king of Israel (2 Chronicles 13:1-22); Asa’s victory over Cush, his religious reforms, and his alliance with Aram against Israel (2 Chronicles 14:1-16:14); Jehoshaphat’s stable reign, his alliance with Ahab, Ahab’s defeat and death, Jehoshaphat’s reforms, his victories against Moab and Ammon (2 Chronicles 17:1-20:37); Jehoram’s disobedience, the loss of Edom as vassal, and conflicts with other nations (2 Chronicles 21:1-20); Ahaziah and Athaliah, their disobedience, and their condemnation (2 Chronicles 22:1-12); Joash’s accession to the throne, the repair of the Temple, his fall into disobedience and execution of Zechariah the priest, his own assassination (2 Chronicles 23:1-24:27); Amaziah’s victory over Edom, his service to the gods of Edom, and his subsequent defeat, humiliation, and exile at the hand of Joash king of Israel (2 Chronicles 25:1-28).
The Chronicler continues with Uzziah, his victory over the Philistines, his disobedience in offering incense at the Temple and the leprosy he incurred as a result (2 Chronicles 26:1-23); the reign of Jotham (2 Chronicles 27:1-5); Ahaz, his disobedience and defeat at the hands of Pekah king of Israel, his idolatry and vassalage to Assyria (2 Chronicles 28:1-27); Hezekiah’s cleansing and restoration of the Temple, celebration of the Passover, restoration of the priestly organization, invasion of Assyria, and Jerusalem’s deliverance (2 Chronicles 29:1-32:33); Manasseh’s great idolatry and repentance and the reign of Amon (2 Chronicles 33:1-25); Josiah’s hearing of the book of the Law, Passover observance, and his death in battle against Neco II king of Egypt (2 Chronicles 34:1-35:27); and the reigns of Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah, the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple and the exile of its population to fulfill the prophecy of Jeremiah (2 Chronicles 36:1-21). 2 Chronicles ends with the proclamation of Cyrus king of Persia encouraging the Jews to return to Judah and rebuild the Temple (2 Chronicles 36:22-23).
The Chronicler frequently provides a much fuller explanation of the major events of the kings of Judah than can be found in 1 and 2 Kings. He consistently emphasizes how God blessed the kings when they were obedient and punished them when they strayed into idolatry and foreign alliances in order to encourage the people of his own day to remain obedient and to warn them of the consequences of disobedience. The Chronicler ends on a hopeful note: the people of God are to return to their land and rebuild the Temple, again enjoying the blessings of God. Let us seek to serve God and God alone and obtain His favor while seeking to avoid disobedience and its terrible consequences!
Ethan R. Longhenry