Book of 2 Chronicles
A history from Solomon through Cyrus written for the Jews after their exile
By an unknown chronicler, possibly Ezra, the priest who came out of exile
In this second act of Chronicles, which in Hebrew is one unbroken piece of prose with 1 Chronicles, the chronicler continues to emphasize his idea that nothing is more important to the Jews returning to Israel from their sixth century B.C. Babylonian exile than maintaining a right relationship with God.
He writes to remind them how blessed they are to be members of God’s family, a family that began with Adam and continued through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
As the Jews rebuild the nation after centuries of disobedience and a miserable exile, they can look to the lives of those men and of the beloved King David for role models.
Based on his biography in 1 Chronicles, these rebuilders can emulate the relationship David had with God—a relationship that led David to build a powerful nation recognized by all the surrounding states, to make preparations for God’s temple, and to groom the next great king, Solomon, to rule.
Just as Solomon made Israel into a great nation with his building projects and diplomacy, now the Jews will rebuild Jerusalem and find their place in a politically tumultuous world.
When Remembering David and Solomon, Israel Should Also Remember Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah.
But David and Solomon were not the only kings whose works should be remembered by the returning Jews. The chronicler includes the examples of Israel’s later Judean kings—kings such as Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah—who reformed the political and religious practices of the wayward and returned Judah to proper observation of the law and worship of the Eternal One.
David and Solomon may have initiated the Eternal One’s religion in the land, but these kings had to stomp out their people’s entrenched pagan practices to reinstitute proper worship. As the Jews now begin the arduous work of returning Jerusalem to her glory, they must remember these kings’ stories and adopt their zeal for right worship and practice.
They, too, will have to stomp out pagan ideas, those the people picked up from their captors in Babylon, as Jerusalem is rebuilt. If these Jews can seek God’s will as they rebuild Israel and the temple, then the chronicler tells them God will bring glory to His name through His people and His nation once again.
2 Chronicles 1:13
These gifts are signs that God loves Solomon, and Solomon could use them for his own selfish reasons. But Solomon demonstrates wisdom by using these exceptional gifts to honor God in the construction of His temple.
2 Chronicles 2:7
This temple on the elevated area overlooking the city of Jerusalem is truly remarkable. Moving from the outer court area, one observes a massive 15 by 30 foot altar to ritually sacrifice clean land animals and a huge “sea” or wash container 7½ by 15 feet to ceremonially wash the priests before they enter the next two areas: the holy place and the most holy place.
Moving into the actual temple structure is similar to being transported into the heavens. One passes between two larger-than-life tree-like columns and then into a brilliant golden room decorated with trees, pomegranates, winged creatures, and jewels.
Upon entering the holy place during the eastern sunrise, one would be blinded as though looking into the sun.
Then as the worshiper ascends the stairs, the most holy place has two enormous winged creatures flanking the Eternal’s temple footstool, the covenant chest. This room images the very heavenly throne room. To visualize and enter Solomon’s temple is to visualize and enter the heavens.
2 Chronicles 3:1
These foreigners are not paid day laborers; they are slaves forced to build a temple they may never enter. This scenario is similar to the Hebrews’ forced labor in Egypt and to the Israelites’ eventual forced labor in Babylonia.
But one thing makes Solomon’s rule over them different: he presumably follows the laws of God regarding slaves ( Leviticus 25:39–55 ).
These laws specify that slaves may come from surrounding nations, must be treated fairly, and must be released in the jubilee year (a prescribed time every 50 years when debts are forgiven, seized land returns to its original owners, and slaves are freed).
2 Chronicles 6:7
Verses 14-42 record is a remarkable prayer by Israel’s king. Solomon begins by confessing the Lord’s attributes and character.
Then he speaks of his humility for being given the honor of building this magnificent house, the Jerusalem temple. Solomon’s public prayer before all the people brings to mind the conditional nature of this agreement between the Eternal and the people.
The only way the temple can remain in operation and the people in the land is if they obey the Eternal’s commands. Solomon realizes that rebellion, pestilence, and foreign invasion will come; but if the people open their eyes and lives to God, then His ears and eyes will be opened to the plight of Israel.
The centerpiece of the Eternal’s relationship to Israel is the Jerusalem temple, and this is manifest at the moment when Solomon ends his prayer and divine fire comes from the heavens to consume the offerings and sacrifices.
2 Chronicles 9:1
Solomon’s wealth and wisdom are so well-known that other monarchs in the region come to him to receive advice and to offer gifts.
Huram, king of Tyre, may give Solomon great gifts during the construction of Israel’s infrastructure, but his aid is not nearly as memorable as the gifts of the queen of Sheba, who visits from the Arabian peninsula.
2 Chronicles 10:1
After the death of King Solomon, nothing is ever the same in Israel. Many of the Israelites rebel against God, no longer follow God’s elected Judahite kings, and form the new Northern Kingdom with their own kings and heretical temples.
2 Chronicles 10:4
This next conversation between Rehoboam and the tribes is pivotal for the nation of Israel and the twelve tribes.
The prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite in the 1 Kings 11 story foreshadows that God is going to give Judah — and neighboring Benjamin — to Rehoboam, but Jeroboam in the north gets ten tribes.
The story is ironic since it appears that the Eternal favors Jeroboam by giving him most of the Israelite tribes and territory, and Rehoboam is portrayed as a despotic fool.
In the end, the Davidic offspring, King Rehoboam, has a disastrous reign, and Jeroboam sets up Dan and Bethel as temple sites to worship the Eternal One. It seems that a king, whether in the Northern or Southern Kingdom, is a bad deal for the people.
2 Chronicles 12:10
Shishak, a Libyan general who took over the Egyptian throne, has been interested in Israel’s affairs for some time.
First, he harbored Jeroboam when he rebelled against Solomon.
Now, Pharaoh is conquering the region. Although God does not allow Shishak to destroy Jerusalem, the Israelites lose a precious part of their heritage and a significant amount of wealth when he raids the palace and temple.
This incident is enough to remind Rehoboam and the people of their ancestors’ servitude in Egypt and of God’s love of His people. If they don’t want to return to lives of bondage, they must humble themselves and resume proper worship of God.
2 Chronicles 13:7
Jeroboam and all of the Israelites from the North follow false gods and rebel against God’s authority. When they deny David’s descendants as the rightful kings, they deny God and His choice.
2 Chronicles 14:6
Asa must have learned from his father Abijah’s battle against the Northern Kingdom.
Asa knows how important God’s support is to the success of the Southern Kingdom, so as king he makes proper worship of God the first priority of his reign.
Proper worship of God surely leads to national stability.
2 Chronicles 16:1
Even in the wake of military success, during a period when most kings would become conceited, Asa continues to focus on God. Eliminating the remnants of idol worship and practicing the festivals in the Southern Kingdom are not enough for him — he insures that all political leaders are role models of proper worship.
Asa punishes his own mother and makes an example of her apostasy by stripping her title and destroying her cultic objects in front of the nation. This sends a strong message to the people that everyone is accountable for his actions.
But not even Asa is perfect. He neglects to destroy the high places in the areas he conquers in the Northern Kingdom, so his reign will not be completely peaceful.
From Political Religious Alliance To Political Spiritual Alliance
There are two significant reasons why the Eternal is always opposed to the Northern and Southern Kingdoms forging alliances with other nations, even if for self-preservation.
First, any political alliance is also a religious alliance. Each king and his group of diplomats bring their national deities to witness and support the treaty. The Eternal never stands for setting up other divine rivals, even to witness military agreements. Often treaty members recognize and worship their respective patron idols to show political and religious friendship between the countries.
Second, a political alliance is also a spiritual alliance. King Asa — and the majority of Israelite and Judean kings — demonstrates a lack of trust in the Eternal’s provision and protection when seeking out pragmatics (such as food and land) from the surrounding Gentile nations. It is a constant challenge to seek God for personal and national existence when all the other nations are bigger and stronger.
The sad reality is that Judah is often a vassal people to the more wealthy and powerful Israel, and both nations are taken captive and deported by those in whom they will seek refuge: Assyria and Babylonia.
2 Chronicles 16:13
What happens to Asa’s faith at the end of his life? As Hanani points out, Asa began his reign as a devoted follower of God who trusted Him in battles and worshiped Him in peace.
But after neglecting to destroy the altars in the Northern Kingdom, Asa’s faith diminishes. He trusts foreign armies and human physicians over his own God, so he dies a painful death.
2 Chronicles 17:10
Asa began reforms by destroying cults, and Jehoshaphat continues the reforms by building the true religion.
His focus is not just on ridding the nation of improper worship; he intends to teach everyone about proper worship.
Therefore, Jehoshaphat embarks on a massive project of sending his best officials throughout the nation to teach the people.
2 Chronicles 20:29
Although Jehoshaphat is fully committed to God, his reign is not without trials.
He fights many battles against his neighbors and is successful because of his reliance on God.
God uses these battles to give him greater power and more territory in the region.
2 Chronicles 21:12
This is a particularly bloody time for Israel in the north and Judah in the south. Each king — or queen in the case of Athaliah in Judah — has to watch his or her back constantly for international threats from Aram north of Israel, Egypt south of Judah, or Ammon, Moab, and Edom on the other side of the Jordan River and Dead Sea.
As well, there is political and familial intrigue and deception in the palace households of some of these kings. Being a monarch is a very dangerous position, and some do not fare well.
In just a few years, King Jehu from Israel carries out a bloody campaign against anyone associated with the House of Ahab in order to eradicate idolatry and rebellion from the land. But this move by Jehu only buys Israel another century before the Neo-Assyrians move in and exile the people.
2 Chronicles 24:1
It is significant that the chronicler does not end Athaliah’s story with a summary of her reign or the location of her burial as all other kings’ stories end.
She is a usurper who is not destined to rule Israel because she is not part of the Davidic line. But her reign does not nullify God’s promise to David. In spite of her actions, one of David’s descendants survives her slaughter of the royal house to ascend to the throne.
This story is one of hope for the Jews during the Babylonian exile, reminding them that God’s promises always supersede humans’ actions, good or evil.
2 Chronicles 24:17
Jehoiada not only helps to overturn the usurping Athaliah and restore the Davidic monarchy, but he also ensures that Joash and Israel follow God.
The people recognize how Jehoiada has helped their nation, so they honor him in his burial by placing him among the dead kings.
Traditionally, corpses were placed among their own ancestors, with whom they would spend eternity. By burying Jehoiada with the kings, the people indicate that he deserves to be remembered among the greatest of all men.
2 Chronicles 24:22
Joash has been saved by Jehoiada’s wife from certain death at the hands of Athaliah. He also has been taught by her to follow God and obey His law.
Zechariah’s death inside the temple is ironic since Joash’s own chief priest and Zechariah’s father, Jehoiada, refused to kill Athaliah in the temple because of God’s law; and here Joash is violating the law, for stoning should occur outside of town and most certainly outside of the temple.
This is also strange in that stoning is an execution method reserved primarily for treason and not for eliminating a priest who speaks out against sin.
2 Chronicles 26:22
Uzziah’s sin is a desecration of the temple. He is not consecrated, so he cannot burn incense there.
By doing so, he makes the temple ritually impure.
God responds with an appropriate punishment: Uzziah makes God’s house impure, so He makes Uzziah’s body impure.
2 Chronicles 27:1
Joash, Amaziah, and Uzziah’s reigns are all similar. Each begins by following God and being rewarded with a powerful reign. Then each sins and is punished with national struggles and an unusual death.
None are honored with burials among the former kings. These three men exemplify a common theme in Chronicles: you reap what you sow. When they are faithful to God, He is faithful to them. When they abandon God, He destroys them.
2 Chronicles 28:1
Jotham is a welcomed relief for Israel. Finally they have a king who is faithful to God and who credits Him with the Southern Kingdom’s prosperity.
Unfortunately his righteousness does not make an impression on his son. Ahaz will prove to be one of the worst kings in the history of the Southern Kingdom.
Not only does he ignore God’s laws, but he also engages in so many pagan practices that he is like the kings of the Northern Kingdom whom God has abandoned.
2 Chronicles 28:16
Only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin remain faithful in the Southern Kingdom while the other tribes forming the Northern Kingdom largely depart from the Eternal. But this exchange between Oded and the Ephraimites shows another side of the Northerners.
Oded’s request that they free the Judahites is based on their common heritage. And the chiefs’ obedience to his request shows that they still remember God’s power.
Although the Northern Kingdom has strayed far from the Eternal One, they still remember their ancestral brothers in the South.
2 Chronicles 31:1
Such a celebration has not happened since Solomon dedicated the temple. This celebration is reminiscent of that time in several ways: all of Israel gathers for the occasion, the king makes lavish donations for the celebration, and the festival lasts an extra week.
Like Solomon, Hezekiah focuses on his nation’s relationship with God by making the temple and proper worship central to Israelite life.
2 Chronicles 31:3
This camp is, of course, the temple, but the chronicler refers to the temple here as “the camp” to remind the people of their early connection to the Lord when their ancestors fled Egypt and followed Him in the desert.
2 Chronicles 32:1
Typically, kings’ good and faithful works before God are rewarded with peace and prosperity. But not Hezekiah’s. His devotion to God is tested with an invasion by the most powerful army in the world — the Assyrian Empire, led by Sennacherib.
Sennacherib is not just another bully coming to take the temple treasures; he intends to conquer the world, and Israel is a bump on his road to Egypt. Sennacherib is ample temptation for Hezekiah to abandon God and surrender Jerusalem in return for his own life. But Hezekiah is more faithful than that.
2 Chronicles 32:5
This millo is an immense earthen rampart that supports the structure of the main city wall and prevents the attackers from tunneling under it to attack the city from the inside, should they destroy the new outer wall.
2 Chronicles 32:12
Sennacherib cleverly poses the question to those inside the walls of Jerusalem: Do you really think your God will defend a king who has made it harder for His people to worship Him?
2 Chronicles 32:16
Of course, Sennacherib completely misunderstands the nature of God and the reforms of Hezekiah.
Hezekiah is only ingratiating himself to God when he consolidates the religion in Jerusalem.
Sennacherib’s taunting of God, saying that He could never save His people, leaves the Assyrian king wide open for a display of God’s power.
2 Chronicles 32:32
Near the end of Hezekiah’s reign, Mesopotamia is in turmoil. The Assyrian Empire is weakening due to internal struggles and a string of impotent kings.
But the Babylonians are slowly gaining power and testing the strength of their surrounding nations. Soon Babylonian leaders will come to Jerusalem again. But the next time will not be a friendly visit.
2 Chronicles 33:14
Unlike his evil predecessor Ahaz, Manasseh sees the error of his ways and returns to God.
He even reinstates his father’s reforms, further demonstrating his devotion to God.
Manasseh’s change of heart is rewarded with the longest reign of any Israelite king.
2 Chronicles 34:1
Amon’s horrible reign makes his burial unimportant. No one knows if his bones are with his ancestors in the kings’ tomb or outside the city walls with his father’s discarded altars and icons.
With a reign as destructive as his, it is appropriate that, like his bones, Amon is forgotten.
2 Chronicles 35:1
Passover is Josiah’s first opportunity to demonstrate his renewed devotion to God.
Therefore, each detail perfectly follows His mandates for the event, from the day the offerings are slaughtered to the Levites’ specific duties.
Although there is devotion in the land, apostasy will return once Josiah dies. The punishment of Israel is not averted, just delayed.
2 Chronicles 35:22
Josiah may assume that Neco is referring to his pagan gods, but what he misunderstands is that Neco is being sent into battle by the same God whom Josiah served.
There aren’t Egyptian gods behind this encounter. The Lord is about to use Neco to judge Josiah.
2 Chronicles 36:1
The grand tradition of Israel has such a disappointing ending. Certainly God reveals to Josiah that exile is inevitable, but no one can predict the barrage of incompetent kings who usher in that foreign exile.
2 Chronicles 36:22
In spite of the generations of sin and hatred, God does not exile His people permanently. He leaves them with the hope of return to their homeland when He gives Jeremiah that prophecy.
And their return is not too far away. In less than two generations, the Jews (as the Israelites become known during the exile) return to the land and rebuild His temple.