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Introduction to the Book of 2nd Chronicles

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General Info

The books that would become known as the Chronicles was originally a single volume in the Hebrew canon.  Because the Greek language is not as compact as the Hebrew, the translators of the Septuagint (3rd - 2nd Century Greek translation of the Hebrew) not only were forced to split the book over two scrolls, but had to split up the central section, that of the reigns of David and his son Solomon over the United Kingdom of Israel.  Still, the division occurred during the transition of power from David to Solomon, so the first scroll, that would become 1st Chronicles, ended with the death of David, and the second scroll, that would become 2nd Chronicles, began early in Solomon’s reign with his request of God for Wisdom.  This division between the books was retained by each successive translation up to and including our modern English versions.

See General Info on 1st Chronicles for additional developmental information.

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Brief Survey

After the book was split, the second volume opens with Solomon’s request for wisdom from God.  Chapters 2-7 display the priority that Solomon places on worship, from the elaborate plans for the Temple to his resolve and dedication in carrying out the construction.  The dedication of the Temple is the culmination of the Chronicles.  The first volume begins with its plans, and the second ends with its destruction and subsequent edict for rebuilding.  The author closes his record of Solomon’s reign by omitting his pagan wives, resulting idolatry and other indiscretions (as opposed to the author of 1Kings), and emphasizing his fame, wealth and many accomplishments in chapters 8-9.

Beginning with Solomon’s son Rehoboam in chapter 10, we witness the split of the nation in the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah.  From this point forward, the author ignores the northern kingdom except where her king inter-relates with Judah’s.  Chapters 11-13 record Judah’s slide into apostasy.  The majority of the remainder of the book is dominated by the few righteous kings of Judah, such as Asa (ch 14-16), Jehoshaphat (ch 17-20), Joash (ch 23-24), Hezekiah (ch 29-32), Josiah (ch 34-36).

Asa trusted the Lord early in his reign, instituting reforms, removing idols, and renewing the covenant, but later relied on the King of Aram (Syria) in battle.  He then suffered a debilitating foot disease and died.  Jehoshaphat also trusted in the Lord but later allied himself with Israel’s evil king Ahab.  After repenting and being blessed with peace, he then allied himself with Ahab’s son to build a navy, but God destroyed the ships as predicted by the prophet Eliezer.

Joash instituted a major project to restore the Temple, but apostasy returned after the death of the priest Jehoiada.  The priest’s son Zechariah became the last OT martyr (see Lk 11:46-51) when he was stoned to death in the presence of Joash for denouncing the people for their unfaithfulness.  As he died, the priest swore God’s vengeance on Joash, who shortly thereafter, was killed by his servants after being wounded by the invading Arameans.

Hezekiah was one of the most important of Judah’s kings.  He repaired the Temple that had fallen into neglect, and re-instituted observance of the Passover.  The celebration was extended an extra week, and the Chronicler compared the current joy in Jerusalem with that of the days of Solomon.  During Hezekiah’s reign in Judah, the Assyrians conquered and exiled the inhabitants of the Northern Kingdom of Israel (722 BC).  The Assyrians then invaded and conquered parts of Judah, but due to Hezekiah’s faithful reliance on the Lord, He destroyed the Assyrian Army when they reached Jerusalem in 701 BC.

The author of the Kings portrays Hezekiah’s son Manasseh as one of Judah’s most wicked kings, even blaming him for God's judgment that later allowed the Babylonians to conquer Jerusalem and exile the people (2Kg 21:1-18).  The Chronicler also details many of the deplorable acts of Manasseh in chapter 33, but adds the account of Manasseh’s repentance during his imprisonment in Assyria.  As a result, God allowed him to return to Jerusalem where he repaired the Temple and renewed worship.  Thus God delayed judgment against Jerusalem.

Another high point of worship occurs under Josiah, Judah’s last good king.  During Josiah’s reign, the Book of the Law that was given through Moses is found by the priest, read to the king, and then to the public.  Josiah’s reformation and purging of false worship was likely even more thorough than that under Hezekiah.

After Josiah, the spiritual condition of Judah under the final four wicked kings rapidly deteriorates to the point that God utilizes the Babylonians to conquer Jerusalem, destroy the Temple and deport the people (586 BC).  Nevertheless, the book ends on a positive note.  God sent Persia to conquer the Babylonians, and the Persian King Cyrus issued a decree in 538 BC that would permit the Jews to return to their homeland.

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Key Verses

Solomon son of David established himself firmly over his kingdom, for the LORD his God was with him and made him exceedingly great...  Solomon went up to the bronze altar before the LORD in the Tent of Meeting and offered a thousand burnt offerings on it.  That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, "Ask for whatever you want me to give you."  Solomon answered God, "You have shown great kindness to David my father and have made me king in his place.  Now, LORD God, let your promise to my father David be confirmed, for you have made me king over a people who are as numerous as the dust of the earth.  Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?"  God said to Solomon, "Since this is your heart's desire and you have not asked for wealth, riches or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you.  And I will also give you wealth, riches and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have." (1:1,6-12)

When Solomon had finished the temple of the LORD and the royal palace, and had succeeded in carrying out all he had in mind to do in the temple of the LORD and in his own palace, the LORD appeared to him at night and said: "I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices.  "When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will 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.  Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.  I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever.  My eyes and my heart will always be there.  "As for you, if you walk before me as David your father did, and do all I command, and observe my decrees and laws, I will establish your royal throne, as I covenanted with David your father when I said, 'You shall never fail to have a man to rule over Israel.'" (7:11-17)

The priests and Levites from all their districts throughout Israel sided with him.  The Levites even abandoned their pasturelands and property, and came to Judah and Jerusalem because Jeroboam and his sons had rejected them as priests of the LORD.  And he appointed his own priests for the high places and for the goat and calf idols he had made.  Those from every tribe of Israel who set their hearts on seeking the LORD, the God of Israel, followed the Levites to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices to the LORD, the God of their fathers.  They strengthened the kingdom of Judah and supported Rehoboam son of Solomon three years, walking in the ways of David and Solomon during this time. (11:13-17)

Although the LORD sent prophets to the people to bring them back to him, and though they testified against them, they would not listen.  Then the Spirit of God came upon 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.'"  But they plotted against him, and by order of the king they stoned him to death in the courtyard of the LORD's temple.  King Joash did not remember the kindness Zechariah's father Jehoiada had shown him but killed his son, who said as he lay dying, "May the LORD see this and call you to account." (24:19-22)

In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing: "This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: "'The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah.  Anyone of his people among you--may the LORD his God be with him, and let him go up.'" (36:22-23)

Key Chapters: 5-7 - Dedication of the Temple

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Author and Date

See Author and Date of 1 Chronicles.

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Historical Background

The selective history of the remainder of 2Chronicles covers the same historical period of that from the third chapter of 1Kings through the end of 2Kings.

King Solomon continued (and greatly expanded) his father David’s policy of extending Israel’s territory via military conquests, and enhancing foreign alliances through intermarriage to foreign women.

After the death of Solomon (931 BC), the nation split into the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and the Southern Kingdom of Judah that continued to be ruled by the line of David.  Israel was conquered and exiled in 722 BC by the Assyrians, but God destroyed their army as they were attempting to conquer Jerusalem in Judah.  The southern kingdom survived an additional 134 years before being conquered and exiled by the Babylonians in 586 BC.

In 539 BC, the Persians captured Babylon and in the next year, issued an edict allowing the Jews to return to their homeland.  It was to these returning exiles that the book of the Chronicles was written.

For more Information:

See OT History Books for the position of the Kingdoms of Judah and Israel within the context of the OT historical periods.

See OT Historicity for Historicity of the OT History books.

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See OT History and Monarchy Chronology for timeline of additional historical events.

971-931 BC Solomon becomes King of United Israel and Judah
967-960 BC Building of the Temple
931 BC Rehoboam becomes King of United Israel and Judah
931 BC Division of the Northern (Israel) and Southern (Judah) Kingdoms
911-870 BC Asa King of Judah
873-848 BC Jehoshaphat King of Judah
835-796 BC Joash King of Judah
~728-686 BC Hezekiah King of Judah
722 BC Israel Conquered and Exiled by Assyrians
696-642 BC Manasseh King of Judah
640-609 BC Josiah King of Judah
612 BC The Babylonians (Chaldeans) Conquer and Destroy Nineveh (Assyrians)
605 BC Babylon Invades Judah, Exiles many of the Jews
597 BC Second Invasion by the Babylonians
586 BC Fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians, Exile of much of the Population
539 BC Cyrus II (Cyrus the Great) Captures Babylon and Establishes Persian Empire
538 BC Cyrus Issues Decree Authorizing Return of Exiled Jews to Jerusalem

* See the “Conclusion” of Challenges of Dating the Reigns of Kings for more info.

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Themes, Purpose and Theology

See Themes, Purpose and Theology of 1 Chronicles.

For the varying purposes of the historical books of the kingdoms, see Harmony of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles.

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Interpretation Hints and Challenges

See Interpretation Hints and Challenges of 1 Chronicles for additional issues.

A question often comes up today, particularly in modern day America, about the contemporary application of the conditional promise of “healing the land” found in one of the book's most popular verses, 2 Chr 7:14.  We address this in our article, Can America Claim the Promises of 2nd Chronicles 7:14?

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The second book of the Chronicles can be divided into two or three sections.  The first nine chapters focus on the reign of David's son Solomon.  The remaining chapters (10-36) recount the reigns of David's descendants from Solomon's son in Judah to the Exile.  The second section could be further divided by the reign of Judah's kings during the divided kingdom (chapters 10-28) and after the exile of the northern kingdom of Israel (chapters 29-36).

1:1 - 1:17 Solomon Established his Kingdom and Asks for Wisdom
2:1 - 2:18 Solomon's Preparations for the Temple
3:1 - 4:22 Solomon's Construction of the Temple
5:1 - 7:22 Solomon's Dedication of the Temple
8:1 - 9:31 Solomon's Accomplishments, Wisdom, Splendor and Death
10:1 - 12:16 Reign of Solomon's son Rehoboam;  Division of the Kingdom
13:1 - 14:1 Reign of Abijah;  War with Israel
14:2 - 16:14 Reign of Asa;  Reformation and Revival
17:1 - 20:37 Reign of Jehoshaphat;  Disastrous Alliance with Israel's King Ahab;  Repentance and Renewal
21:1 - 23:15 Reign of Evil Rulers Jehoram, Ahaziah, and Queen Athaliah
23:16 - 24:27 Reign of Joash;  Early Reforms but Later Apostasy
25:1 - 25:28 Reign of Amaziah
26:1 - 26:23 Reign of Uzziah (Azariah)
27:1 - 27:9 Reign of Good King Jotham
28:1 - 28:27 Reign of Evil King Ahaz;  Military defeats
29:1 - 32:33 Reign of Hezekiah;  Restored Temple Worship and Passover;  God Repels Babylonian Invasion
33:1 - 33:20 Reign of Evil King Manasseh;  Manasseh's Repentance and Revival
33:21- - 33:25 Reign and Assassination of Evil King Amon
34:1 - 35:27 Reign and Tragic Death of Righteous King Josiah;  Temple Repaired, Law Discovered and Passover Reinstated
36:1 - 36:14 Reigns of Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah
36:15 - 36-21 Fall of Jerusalem; Destruction of the Temple;  Exile of the Remnant
36:22 - 36:23 Decree of Cyrus authorizing the Jews' Return to Jerusalem

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