I am fast approaching the two-year anniversary of when I decided to read the bible within a year. And this is the 15th book (out of 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament). So, you know, kudos to all those amazing people who actually manage to make it through the whole thing in a year. In contrast, I (very, very slowly) trek onwards.
You know how sometimes two books will be published as a book and its sequel, but in reading them you realize that they were actually intended to be one book and the publisher just cut that book in half for reasons of their own? So, yeah, Chronicles 2, the second scroll of Chronicles. It’s the same thing as the first one, with an extremely nominal break.
King David is dead, and his son Solomon is now king of Israel. After the funeral and 1,000 burnt sacrifices, God appears to Solomon asking what he wants. Seriously. (Chronicles 2 1:7) Solomon asks for the wisdom and knowledge needed to lead the people of Israel, which is actually a pretty good answer. God says that since Solomon didn’t ask for wealth, honor, death to his enemies, or long life, God will give Solomon not only the wisdom and knowledge he asked for but all the other stuff as well. Sweet!
Now recall how, in Chronicles 1 16-22 and 28-29, there are detailed descriptions of the temple that King David really wanted to build? Well, in Chronicles 2 chapters 2-4 Solomon has the temple built, with more descriptions, and in chapters 5-7, the temple is consecrated and God enters it as fire from heaven and there’s a lot of descriptions of how the temple is to be used, mostly in the form of “If X, then Y” statements.
And then we switch over the wonderful successes of Solomon:
In chapter 8, he builds a lot of towns and was generally so religious that he built a special house for his wife, the daughter of Pharaoh because he didn’t want his own house tainted with her presence.
In the first half of chapter 9, the Queen of Sheba comes to visit and inspect the situation and is so impressed that she gives him all sorts of presents and he is so taken with her that he gives her anything she wants, and then she goes away. (Verses 1-12)
In the second half of chapter 10 (verses 13-31), a bunch of other important people give Solomon a bunch of expensive presents because he is just that amazing. And then he dies.
Chapters 10-12 follow the next king, Rehoboam, son of Solomon, generally being an ass (essentially telling the people: don’t complain to me, or I’ll give you something to complain about)
Chapter 13: King Abijah reigned for three years, and there are battles and rousing speeches, and much calling out to the Lord. Also, he took fourteen wives, and fathered twenty-two sons and sixteen daughters.*
Chapters 14-16: King Asa did what was good and right, mostly by destroying the items of any other religion, including casting out his own mother. However he still ended sinful by relying on political allies at wartime and physicians when he got sick rather than on the Lord.
At this point we’re have caught up with the timeline told in the second book of Kings and there is a lot of repetition. Do you remember the list of the Kings of Judah, as recounted in Kings 2? Well, here they are again in Chronicles 2. Enjoy:
Chapter 17-20: King Jeshoshaphat
Chapter 21: King Jehoram, who died in great agony from a bowel infection and no one mourned him. Ouch.
Chapter 22: King Ahaziah dies, his mother Athaliah tries to kill the rest of the family in order to rule herself
Chapter 23: The downfall of Athaliah: there was a mutiny, she called treason, they decided it wasn’t right to kill her in the king’s house, so had her removed in order to kill her.
Chapter 24: King Joash
Chapter 25: King Amaziah
Chapter 26: King Ussiah
Chapter 27: King Jotham
Chapter 28: King Ahaz
Chapters 29-32: King Hezekiah
Chapter 33: King Manasseh and King Amon**
Chapters 34-35: King Josiah
Chapter 36: King Jehoahaz, King Jehoiakim, King Jehoiachin, King Zedekiah, and generally the downfall of the kings of Judah, with a bit of a teaser at the end for King Cyrus of Persia building the house of Jerusalem again.
Almost all of these chapters start with something along the lines of
“_____ began to reign when he was ____ years old; he reigned _____ years in the city of (Jerusalem/David).”***
and end with something along the lines of
“____ slept with this ancestors and they buried him in the city of _____. His son ____ succeeded him.”
Summary: Oh the repetition: there are a lot of kings who got up to a lot of things, but really, there aren’t any more kings than previously mentioned.
Moral: All things come in cycles, the rise and fall of kings, the good and evil of kings, and there’s no particularly good way to tell the difference between good and evil.
* Let’s pause a minute for the math: 22 sons + 16 daughters = 38 children. 38 children / 14 wives = 2.7 children per wife. And all of this in three years? It’s possible, but the timing is certainly tight. Especially given the number of battles and ambushes, rousing speeches and sacrifices to the Lord. And apparently his other behaviors and deeds were written up in the story of Iddo. So Abijah may not have lived long, but wow did he live intensely.
** Poor King Amon got four versus as a tag at the end of his father’s chapter before his son’s chapter. On the other hand, he was apparently evil and only ruled for two years, so screw him anyway.
*** A surprising number of times, it also includes “His mother’s named was ____ daughter of ______” which is kind of cool.
Next up: Ezra