1 AND 2 CHRONICLES

Introduction
Originally Chronicles was a single book, and its Hebrew name was `The events of th
e days'Ði.e. in the strict sense, `journals', though we should more probably have called
it `annals', the events of the years. The lxx, the Greek version of the OT called i
t `Paralipomenon', the `book of things left out', since at first glance it seems to rete
ll the histories of the books of Samuel and Kings, adding information which they
omit. As we read it we quickly realize that that is an inadequate name, because
Chronicles clearly does more than fill in gaps. It also leaves out much that Sa
muel/Kings puts in, and where the two histories do tell the same story they ofte
n tell it very differently. Jerome, translating the Bible into Latin, said that
this book was in fact a `chronicle of the whole of sacred history', and from him com
es our present English title. It does, as Jerome indicates, cover not only the s
pan of time dealt with in Samuel/Kings but the entire OT story from Adam through
almost to the people of the writer's own time.
Date and authorship
Following the rise to power of Cyrus, king of Persia, who conquered Babylon in 5
39 bc, many of the Jews living in exile in his territories returned to their own
land. Since Chronicles more than once takes that event for granted, it must obv
iously have been written after it. Many have believed both that Chronicles, Ezra
and Nehemiah were all written by the same person, and that that person was Ezra
himself, writing fairly soon after the return from exile. But there are also go
od grounds for dating Chronicles some time later, probably in the fourth century
bc. If this is right, then we do not know who its author was. He is usually sim
ply called `the Chronicler'. His book was in any case intended for the Jewish commun
ity which had settled back in the area around Jerusalem, with a rebuilt temple a
nd priests of Aaron's line (though no longer with a throne for the kings of David's
line, since it was now part of the Persian empire).
Content
Although Chronicles covers a tremendous sweep of history, it concentrates on the
period of the monarchy, when for about 450 years Israel was ruled by a successi
on of kings, from Saul (c. 1050 bc) to Zedekiah (c. 600 bc). Samuel/Kings was ce
rtainly its main source, supplemented by other books now lost to us. So far from
romancing when he recounts events not found in the older history, as some have
thought, the Chronicler may well be following different sources of considerable
accuracy. In 1 Ch. 1±9 he has compiled name-lists, most though not all of them fam
ily trees, which bind together the story of God's people since the beginning of Bi
ble times. 1 Ch. 10±29 covers the reign of David, and 2 Ch. 1±10 that of Solomon. 2
Ch. 11±36 deals with the royal line that descended from themÐthe kings, that is, of
the southern Israelite kingdom of JudahÐuntil it ends in exile in Babylon.
Purpose
Chronicles presents history differently from Samuel/Kings. The differences, the
distinctive features of Chronicles, have to do with the Chronicler's theologyÐtruths
about God and the people of God which are his special concern. He assumes throu
ghout that his readers know the facts already, and his object is to interpret th
em.
One of the most obvious of these features is his concentration on the royal line
of David, and therefore on the kingdom centred on Jerusalem. (The kings who rul
ed the breakaway northern kingdom from 931/30 bc onwards do not in themselves in
terest him.) Another matter to which he devotes a great deal of space is Solomon's
temple, its priesthood and its worship. This special interest, some have though
t, arose from his desire to encourage his contemporaries to be wholeheartedly in
volved in the activities of the `second temple', their own much less grandiose repla
cement for Solomon's. But when we realize how constantly he draws his readers' atten
tion not only to the temple of Solomon (which did have a visible equivalent in t
heir own day), but also to the throne of David (which did not), we are on the wa
y to a wider and deeper understanding of his message. It is not really about rel
igious observances, any more than it is about political structures. The Chronicl
er's twin emphases on throne and temple, on kingship and priesthood, are relevant
in all ages, because the first is about how God governs his people, and the seco
nd is about how they relate to him.
This in turn helps to explain the Chronicler's view of the divided kingdom. So far
as everyday names were concerned, the north was called Israel and the south Jud
ah. But the real `Israel' meant all those for whom the true kingship was expressed t
hrough the sons of David and the true priesthood through the sons of Aaron. That
meant southerners (unless they rebelled), but could equally include northerners
(if they would return). 2 Ch. 13 is a key chapter in this respect (see especial
ly vs 4±5, 8±12). The Chronicler therefore frequently uses the phrase `all Israel', spea
ks of the possibility of its reunification and renewal, and presents a picture o
f an ideal IsraelÐnot a photograph of the nation as it would have appeared at any
given time, but a kaleidoscope or montage of glimpses pieced together from vario
us times and sources.
In a similar way he pictures at the heart of the ideal Israel an ideal kingship,
in the form of the successive reigns of David and Solomon. As we have noted, hi
s first readers were very familiar with the stories of these two men, and knew h
ow human they were, with great failings as well as great virtues. So we, like th
ose earlier readers, are to understand the Chronicler's depiction of David and Sol
omon as the `official' portrait, complementing (not contradicting) the warts-and-all
human one in Samuel/Kings. It is not inaccurateÐsimply selective. It draws attent
ion to those aspects of their reigns which show us something of God's regular ways
of governing his people's lives.
The Chronicler's hopes for his own age and his message for later ages include all
this, and three other features also. One is continuity. This is brought out by t
he name-lists of his first nine chapters, binding the people of God together acr
oss the generations, and at a deeper level by his constant interest in unchangin
g principles. He would want to tell us that there is no reason why (making allow
ances for changed circumstances) the same principles should not apply to the lif
e of God's people now as then.
Another feature is what some call `retribution', meaning that `if I sin I shall be pun
ished' (though also that `if I obey I shall be blessed'). Scripture recognizes elsewhe
re, and so does the Chronicler himself, that in practice things are usually more
complicated than that, but this principle of spiritual cause and effect remains
true as a basic fact. One of its consequences is that there is always new hope
for each new generation: to simplify this aspect of it also, that `if I repent I s
hall be forgiven'. The NT simply clarifies the principle. The Christian, like his
OT counterpart, finds that both obedience and disobedience have inevitable effec
ts; and the unconverted person, for his part, will be punished for the basic sin
of rejecting Christ, and blessed when he obeys the gospel.
Finally, there are the Chronicler's surprising statistics. Amounts of money, the s
ize of armies, and so on, often differ from those in Samuel/Kings, and often app
ear to be improbably large. Many of the discrepancies can in fact be readily rec
onciled, and many of the seeming exaggerations may be due to a misunderstanding
of words like `thousand', which frequently means a fighting unit of much smaller siz
e, or to the kind of copying error which in our own day might add an extra zero
or miss out a decimal point. But a good many queries of this kind remain unexpla
ined. It is quite proper to leave them that way, so long as we bear in mind that
the Chronicler was in other areas an accurate writer; that his concern with the
regular principles by which God works in the world was served better by fact th
an by fiction; and that both he and his first readers, well acquainted with the
older history (Samuel/Kings) and much closer than we are to the world that both
these histories describe, obviously took in their stride such matters as the fig
ures we find difficult.
Further reading
M. J. Wilcock, The Message of Chronicles, BST (IVP, 1987).
J. G. McConville, Chronicles, DSB (St Andrew Press/Westminster/John Knox Press,
1984).
R. L. Braun, 1 Chronicles, WBC (Word, 1986).
R. B. Dillard, 2 Chronicles, WBC (Word, 1987).
Outline of contents
1 Chronicles
1:1±9:34
Connections
1:1±3:24
Connections down the ages
4:1±7:40
Connections within the family
8:1±9:34
Connections of throne and temple
9:35±29:30
David
9:35±12:40
King and people
13:1±14:17
David at Jerusalem
15:1±17:27
The ark of the covenant
18:1±20:8
Israel among the nations
21:1±22:19
The House of God
23:1±27:34
Organization for temple and kingdom
28:1±29:30
The succession

2 Chronicles
1:1±9:31
Solomon
1:1±2:18
Solomon established
3:1±5:14
The making of the temple
6:1±7:22
The dedication ceremony
8:1±9:31
Solomon's greatness
10:1±36:23
The Kings
10:1±12:16
Rehoboam
13:1±14:1
Abijah
14:2±16:14
Asa
17:1±21:1
Jehoshaphat
21:2±20
Jehoram
22:1±9
Ahaziah
22:10±23:21
Athaliah
24:1±27
Joash
25:1±28
Amaziah
26:1±23
Uzziah
27:1±9
Jotham
28:1±27
Ahaz
29:1±32:33
Hezekiah
33:1±20
Manasseh
33:21±25
Amon
34:1±35:27
Josiah
36:1±23
The last kings
Commentary
1:1±9:34 Connections
The style of these opening chapters of Chronicles is so unfamiliar to modern rea
ders that we may well be put off and wonder what possible value it can have for
us. Because of this, we need to bear in mind that the book's contents, if not its
style, are familiar to anyone who knows the rest of the OT, and would have been
more so to the people for whom it was written.
The section 1:1±9:34 is a proper introduction to the rest of the book in that the
Chronicler is doing here what he will be doing throughout. He is taking facts ab
out the story of God's people which are already well known, and writing them up in
a new way. He is also covering the entire span of the story, from the very begi
nning practically up to his own time; and, while naturally he has to leave out a
great deal, he includes many real-life characters and incidents. So his view of
history is both comprehensive and personal.
The first nine chapters are often described as `genealogies'. They do indeed contain
many family trees, and the reader may be helped to understand them by reflectin
g on similar lists in better-known parts of the Bible. Gn 5, for example, shows
how God saw to it that the human race spread across the earth as he had planned
it should, and how he preserved it in spite of its sinfulness. Mt. 1 shows how h
e saw to it that through the same race the man appointed to save it from its sin
eventually came into the world. In the same way, one of the great themes of Chr
onicles is that God's purpose for the welfare of humanity never fails.
Even so, `genealogies' is too narrow a word to describe these chapters, for they do
include other types of list. What all these lists have in common is that the nam
es in them are not just collected, but connected. Such connections, whether of t
he father/son kind or of other kinds, tell us that God is at work continuously t
hroughout the story of his people.
1:1±3:24 Connections down the ages
The family tree of 1:1±3:24 is traced from the beginnings of human history down to
perhaps 400 bc, when Chronicles was written. At one end is Adam, the ancestor o
f all mankind; at the other is one Jewish family which had settled again near Je
rusalem after the exile, for whose community the book was written. The connectio
n is a continuous line (some of its branches drawn, some not) through Noah and A
braham and David.
1:1±3 The line from Adam. This list comes from Genesis (5:3±32) and is simply the na
mes of the ten generations from Adam to Noah.
1:4±27 The lines from Noah. At the first branching of the tree, the families of No
ah's younger sons are listed before that of Shem, whose genealogy is to be the mai
n trunk, as in Gn. 10. That chapter is streamlined a little, and Gn. 11:10±26 a lo
t, to make vs 4±23 and vs 24±27. The Chronicler also copies from Genesis the little
cameos of Nimrod (10) and Peleg (19), the first two of many such incidental comm
ents that add vivid touches to what may otherwise seem such dull name-lists.
1:28±33 The lines from Abraham. Again, the main line will come last, so before Isa
ac's family we have Ishmael's (Gn. 25:12±16 abbreviated), and also those of their half
-brothers, Abraham's sons not by Sarah or Hagar but by Keturah (Gn. 25:1±4).
1:34±54 The lines from Isaac. Once more Chronicles sets out the secondary line fir
st, the sons of Esau (35) before the more important line of the younger brother
Jacob. Again sources are streamlined (Gn. 36:10±14, 20±43), assuming that readers wi
ll know already from Gn. 36:9 why Esau (34), Seir (38), and Edom (43) are groupe
d together. The Edomite kings are listed not as a family tree but simply as a su
ccession, and the chiefs may not even be that; no matter, so long as some connec
tion is made between the names. These people are not names only; the little pen
pictures of the two Hadads (46, 50), like that of Nimrod (10), hint at this by a
dding their touches of realism.
2:1±2 The lines from Israel. The central line which the Chronicler has traced from
Adam through Noah and Abraham comes now to Esau's brother Jacob. In only one chap
ter of his book, where he is in fact quoting another writer (1 Ch. 16:13, 17; Ps
. 105:6, 10), does the name `Jacob' appear; he himself always uses the alternative, `I
srael'. The continuity of Israel, the nation still miraculously surviving in his o
wn time, and the grace of God which has preserved it throughout, are his great t
heme; so from its very beginnings that is the name he opts for.
2:3±9 The lines from Judah. Most of these relationships are mentioned in Gn. 46:12
(cf. Gn. 38) and Jos. 7. The names of Heman and Ethan appear also in the headin
gs to Ps. 88 and 89 (see also 1 Ki. 4:31), so this may be the first hint that th
e Chronicler is as interested in Israel's temple worship as in its throne and roya
l line. From here on he deals with the royal line not last but first.
He is equally interested in Israel as a whole, and in what it means to belong to
the people of God. He makes the point through four of the names in this section
. In the daughter of Shua, Judah marries a heathen, and his relationship with Ta
mar is incestuous, yet by the grace of God both women are drawn into the family
tree, Tamar indeed in a specially privileged way (see Mt. 1:3). These are emphas
es unlike those of Ezra and Nehemiah; see Introduction, on authorship. On the ot
her hand, Er and Achar are both born within the `holy family', but that does not aut
omatically assure them of God's favour.
2:10±17 The line from Judah through Ram. This is the line that brings us to Jesse
and thus to David, who will stand at the centre of the Chronicler's whole view of
history. The `family tree' idea is particularly apt at this point; the tree of Jesse
(see Is. 11:1, 10) is a familiar image in the religious art of the Middle Ages.
Again, the Chronicler is equally interested in the main trunk of the tree (10±12)
and in the spreading branches (13±17). There is no single source from which he ha
s drawn this section as a whole, though most items in it are found elsewhere (Nu
. 2:3; Ru. 4:19±22; 1 Sa. 16:6±13, where David is called Jesse's eighth son; 2 Sa. 2:1
8). He seems therefore to have pieced it together himself, and, as the generatio
ns listed here are not nearly enough to cover the nine centuries between Judah's m
igrating to Egypt and Solomon's building the temple (Ex. 12:40; 1 Ki. 6:1), we may
take it that he is concerned much less with completeness than with continuity.
(Note the general `elasticity' of Bible genealogies, since in Bible language `father' ca
n mean any male ancestor and `son' any male descendant.)
2:18±24 The line from Judah through Caleb. There are difficulties with the first a
nd last verses of this section. They may mean that by his wife Azubah Caleb was
the father of Jerioth (a daughter?) (18), and that `after the death of Hezron, Cal
eb went in to Ephrathah, the wife of Hezron his father, and she bore him ¼ ' (24 rsv
). At all events, this Caleb is not to be confused with the Caleb of Nu. 13 and
14, who was a contemporary of this one's descendant Bezalel. Bezalel's appearance he
re (20) again links the Chronicler's two great concerns of throne and templeÐthe man
who masterminded the making of the original sanctuary (Ex. 31:2±5) alongside the
royal line leading to David.
2:25±41 The line from Judah through Jerahmeel. After various branches (25±33), the l
ine runs straight to Elishama (34±41). If it is complete, he will be roughly conte
mporary with David; if `stretched', with some generations left out and `father' meaning `a
ncestor', he may belong to the Chronicler's own time. More important is the appearan
ce of another outsider, Jarha (34±35), brought, like the daughter of Shua (3), int
o the family of Israel without any hint of disapproval, though she represents Ca
naan and he, EgyptÐIsrael's two great enemies before and after the exodus. (In view
of v 34, it may be that Ahlai in v 31 is either a daughter or a grandson of Shes
han.)
2:42±55 The line through Caleb (reprise). The appearance here of more Calebrites d
oes not mean that the Chronicler has an untidy mind. This `repeat of an earlier th
eme' points, on the contrary, to a particular kind of careful arrangement, as beco
mes obvious once we see that 2:10±3:9 deals in order with the families of Ram, Cal
eb, Jerahmeel, Caleb and Ram. This `chiastic', or crossover, pattern is found in man
y parts of the Bible. Hur links the two Caleb lists (19, 50), but this second on
e is generally concerned with something new. Ziph, Hebron, Kiriath Jearim and Be
thlehem (42, 50, 51) are not people but placesÐqiryaṯ and bêṯ meaning `city' and `house' respe
ivelyÐand `father' may here be translated `founder', as in neb, or `leader'. In the same way v
s 52±55 are dealing not with individuals so much as with clans (like the nations i
n 1:11±16).
3:1±9 The line through Ram (reprise). Here is the family which came from David, to
balance (in the previous Ram section) the family from which David came. The sou
rces may be 2 Sa. 3:2±5; 5:5, 14±16, though for once Chronicles has the fuller accou
nt, listing no fewer than nineteen of David's sons.
3:10±16 The line from Solomon. This section covers most of the years of the kingdo
m, though the Chronicler barely mentions it (simply the word reigned, in v 4); h
is concern in these chapters is people and their connections. The mass of materi
al he has brought together so far is now reduced to a single strand, the line of
the kings. Even that does not include every Israelite monarch. Saul is not here
, nor Athaliah, nor any of the kings who reigned in the north after the kingdom
was divided. What matters is simply the line descended from David. The Chronicle
r's sources are of course the whole of the books of KingsÐa drastic simplification i
ndeed!
3:17±24 The line from Jehoiachin. Two major turning-points of Israel's history are p
ractically ignoredÐthe exile and the restoration. As the only hint of the monarchy
was the phrase `David ¼ reigned' (4), so here the only hint of these events is the ph
rase Jehoiachin the captive (17). Much more important for the Chronicler is that
the people of Israel, and the line of David in particular, have survived throug
hout, and the latest of the line, the sons of Elioenai (24), bring right up to d
ate a story which began with Adam.
Note. Two small puzzles arise here. Elsewhere in the Bible Zerubbabel is the son
of Shealtiel, not of Pedaiah (19); one suggested explanation is that Pedaiah ma
rried his brother's widow, and their son counted as Shealtiel's son (see Dt. 25:5±6).
The unexpected word six (22) makes sense if the words and his sons have been ins
erted into that verse by mistake.
4:1±7:40 Connections within the family
The Chronicler included in chs. 1±9 more than one Judah genealogy and more than on
e Benjamin genealogy. Why? Judah appears in chs. 1±3 as part of the royal line of
David, which is the theme of those chapters, and Benjamin will appear in chs. 8±9
as part of the royal line of Saul, the theme of those chapters. Both Judah and B
enjamin figure in chs. 4±7 as two of the tribes into which the tree of Israel bran
ches.
4:1±23 The tribe of Judah. This list is linked with that of ch. 2 at a few points,
but generally it is not at all clear how the two are related. However, as befor
e (1:10, 19, etc.), the Chronicler includes here points not only of interest but
of importance. First, these are real people. Finding place-names such as Bethle
hem and Tekoa (4, 5) among themÐ`father' here must mean `founder' or `leader'; see on 2:42±55Ð
nds his readers that the setting of his book is factual, not fictional. The mean
ings of these names and the occupations of the people give extra realism: Bethle
hem is `Bread House', Ir Nahash (12) is `Bronze Town'; Ge Harashim (14) is `Craftsmen's Vall
ey', and in other towns linen-workers and potters flourish (21±23).
Secondly, these people illustrate spiritual principles. Jabez (9±10) is commended
because his name, which sounds like the Hebrew for `pain', would have been thought u
nlucky; but prayerful faith in God does away with such superstition. Mered (17±18)
married an Egyptian wifeÐthese verses have caused debate, but that much is clearÐan
d is another instance (cf. 2:3, 34±35) of the drawing into membership of God's peopl
e of unlikely outsiders, and thus of the Chronicler's breadth of vision. Caleb the
Kenizzite (v 15), afterwards so prominent (Jos. 14:6±15), may himself have been a
nother foreigner, adopted rather than born into the tribe of Judah.
4:24±43 The tribe of Simeon. Next comes Simeon, always closely linked with Judah,
whose extensive territory he shared. Jos. 19:1±9 mentions this in the list of plac
es reproduced here in vs 28±33. These geographical notes, with much less genealogy
than in 4:1±23, indicate a decline in this tribe's land and population of which the
Chronicler's readers are well aware (Shimei, v 27, is the exception that proves t
he rule). On the other hand no tribe of Israel can simply wither away, and vs 38±4
3 give examples of vitality even in Simeon.
5:1±26 The Transjordan tribes. As with Simeon, geographical notes are given for th
e next group of tribes. Reuben, Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh settled east
of the Jordan, in the regions mentioned in vs 8b±11 and 23, known collectively as
Gilead. The Chronicler notes that Reuben was the firstborn of Israel (1), even
though the rights of the firstborn were transferred to Joseph (and so to Ephraim
and Manasseh) and the dominant place became Judah's (Gn. 35:22; 48; 49:4, 8±12, 22±26
). As with Simeon, we have notes of warfare. All these Gileadite tribes both too
k part in the campaign of vs 19±22 and suffered the invasion of v 26. If the Hagri
te war is the same as that of v 10, the two events answer to each other from eit
her end of the three-centuries-long occupation of Transjordan (10, 26; obviously
very many generations have been omitted from Reuben's line in vs 3±6). They illustr
ate a basic spiritual law: in one, victory is due to believing prayer (20); in t
he other, defeat is due to faithless rebellion (25±26).
6:1±81 The tribe of Levi. With 81 verses and a central position given to it, this
tribe is clearly of great importance. Its history (vs 1±30) shows the reason at on
ce. From Levi's second son Kohath descend the high priests of Israel. Priesthood a
nd kingship together form the chief theme of Chronicles. So the line is here tak
en as far as the exile (15); again continuity is more important than the great e
vents which punctuate it, and in this chapter there are no other such events (no
t even the exodus; Moses himself gets the barest mention, v 3) except, significa
ntly, the building of the temple (10). If that note really belongs, as many thin
k, in v 9, it comes at the centre-point of the list, so here too there is a form
al arrangement which underlines the centrality of temple and priesthood. Other b
ranches of the family follow, one of them including the great Samuel (27±28), as l
ittle emphasized as Moses was.
The function of the tribe (31±53) is similarly related to that central point, the
reigns of David and Solomon, when the three leading musicians Heman, Asaph and E
than were appointed, one from each of the Levite families (33, 39, 44). To the s
ame point come the twelve generations from Aaron, the high priests who make sacr
ifices and offerings (49±53).
The extent of the tribe (54±81) is nationwide. Levi has no tribal territory of its
own, but is given towns and lands by every other tribe. It is typical of the Ch
ronicler that he should write like this at a time when conditions were quite dif
ferent; as if to say that whatever happens the principle of a representative pri
esthood is to be maintained.
7:1±12 The military tribes. A new thing appears here: notes of the military streng
th of a tribe. With so few names in comparison with those in earlier lists (a me
re handful for the 900 years separating Issachar and David, vs 1±2), it may be tha
t the Chronicler's genealogical information was scanty, and he used army census li
sts to fill it out. The numbers of fighting men in David's time do however help to
make again the point that Israel in the past was very different from the sorely
reduced nation that she is in the Chronicler's own time, and one has to look belo
w the surface to see what is meant by real strength.
Notes. For the large numbers in this section, see Introduction.
The tribe of Dan is not mentioned here unless v 12b should read (cf. Gn. 46:23) `T
he sons of Dan: Hushim, his son, one'.
Some think that the whole Benjamin section (6±12) is really that of Zebulun, who o
therwise (like Dan) does not figure in the list, while the real Benjamin genealo
gy is ch. 8, balancing Judah's in ch. 4. On the other hand, the Benjamin/Dan/Napht
ali sequence in Gn. 46:21±24 may mean that that is what we have here also in 7:6±13.
7:13±40 The rest of the tribes. The Manasseh and Ephraim sections are difficult. I
n the first, the mention of Gilead (place or person? Cf. Nu. 32:39±40) makes it un
clear whether vs 14±19 deal with the whole of Manasseh or with one of its halves (
see 5:23), and the mention of Maacah is odd unless we are to omit some words fro
m v 15 and read took a wife ¼ (whose) name was ¼ ªIt is equally unclear in the next se
ction whether the Ephraim of vs 22±23 is the founder of the tribe, Joseph's son (bor
n in Egypt, Gn. 41:50±52), or a descendant of the same name. The other two section
s are straightforward.
We are not to despise these tribes, even though they were to become part of the
renegade northern kingdom. The Chronicler points out that in these lists, as in
earlier ones, non-Israelites are welcomed into the line of Israel (14), illustri
ous men are born of it (27), and women take a distinguished place in it (15b [se
e Nu. 36] and 24).
8:1±9:34 Connections of throne and temple
Perhaps Benjamin in ch. 8 is the last in a sequence of five, balancing Judah in
ch. 4Ða royal tribe at either end and the priestly tribe of Levi (ch. 6) in the mi
ddle (see note on 7:6±11). Ch. 9 would then set out once more a largely Levite sec
tion (1b±34) and a Benjaminite one (35±44), one priestly and one royal, to lead into
the next main division of the book. Or we could take chs. 4±7 as a survey of the
tribes, and 8:1±9:34 as the Benjamin (royal) and Levi (priestly) setting for what
follows, while 9:35±44 is a repeat of the appropriate part of the Benjamin lists t
o lead in to the story of Saul.
8:1±40 From Benjamin: the throne prepared. The list in vs 1±28 is comparable in scop
e with those of Judah and Levi. It differs considerably from other Benjamin list
s (e.g. 7:6±11; Nu. 26:38±41), and its section seems to be unconnected; here, as els
ewhere, the reason may be that `sons' may mean descendants in another time or place.
We are still to see them all as bound together by their tribal ties.
The particular line within the tribe which occupies vs 29±40 is here because it is
Saul's line. It will be repeated in 9:34±44 as the immediate introduction to the Ch
ronicler's history of the kingdom. Yet as with Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua and Sa
muel, no attention is drawn to Saul, still less to the crucial events of his tim
e. As always, Chronicles is interested more in continuity than in change.
Gibeon (29) is a place, like Jerusalem (see on 4:1±23). The relationships of the f
amily based there are clarified and harmonized with 1 Sa. 9:1 by the niv's inserti
ng of Ner in v 30 (see 9:36), by assuming that he had both a brother and a son n
amed Kish, and by recognizing that neither history is necessarily giving a full
genealogy. If however the line beyond Saul is complete, it would end roughly at
the time of the exile; if incomplete, it would last longer still, even though it
ceased to be a royal house in the events of 10:6.
9:1±34 From Levi: the temple maintained. If chs. 4±8 do form a unit, 9:1a rounds it
off effectively, and 9:1b±2 introduces the next section with yet another surprisin
g understatement: Chronicles gives just one verse to the exile before embarking
on lists of the post-exile community. They run parallel to Ne. 11, and are mostl
y of the tribe of Levi, though the first of the four sections (Israelites, pries
ts, Levites and temple servants, v 2) includes Ephraim and Manasseh as well as J
udah and Benjamin (3±9). The Chronicler never abandons his ideal of `all Israel', the
north revived and reunited with the south. The priests (10±13) are the family of A
aron, offering the sacrifices of Israelite religion; the Levites (14±16) have othe
r religious duties; and the temple servants, or gatekeepers (17±34), have general
duties.
If 8:1±9:34 forms a unit, its two parts flank the period of the book's interest, the
Benjamin part leading into the monarchy and the Levi part leading on from the e
xile, thus again stressing continuity.
9:35±29:30 David
David, to whom practically twenty chapters are next devoted, is clearly of centr
al importance in the Chronicler's scheme of things. With the overlap of father and
son, however, the story of Solomon (who is first introduced in ch. 22) will cov
er almost as many chapters, and we should see the two kings side by side as form
ing jointly the ideal. Because the two great themes of the book are kingship and
priesthood, we might say that David establishes the throne, while Solomon will
build the temple. One is presented as a man of war, and the other as a man of pe
ace. Even so, both themes (throne and temple) figure in both reigns.
The time of David and Solomon is being set forth as an ideal so their portraits
here differ from the ones in Samuel/Kings. Those are human and fallible, `warts an
d all', while these are the official portraits of two great monarchs. The Chronicl
er is not whitewashing them; everyone knows their sins and follies. He is simply
being selective, to bring out the principles behind their greatness.
9:35±12:40 King and people
Against the background of the failure of his predecessor Saul, the first king of
Israel, David is given the kingdom and becomes the focal point of a united nati
on. Though now long dead (for the Chronicler and his readers as for us), he embo
dies the enduring principles around which the life of God's people must always be
shaped.
9:35±44 The first king's line. Up to now, `chronicles' has meant genealogies and other n
ame-lists. From now on it will mean something newÐnarratives, the history of the k
ingdom of IsraelÐand the first king is introduced by one final genealogy, his fami
ly tree repeated from 8:29±38.
10:1±14 The first king's failure. Of the twenty-three chapters which 1 Sa. devotes t
o the reign of Saul (9±31), the Chronicler omits twenty-two. He simply tells the s
tory of Saul's death, and adds two verses of his own (13±14). For him, neither the g
radual decline in Saul's own fortunes nor those of Saul's family after his death (2
Sa. 1±4) matters; so far as the kingdom is concerned, Saul's house came to an end at
Mount Gilboa (6). Saul's disloyalty to God (13±14) is important in more ways than o
ne. It highlights David's loyalty. David, in contrast to Saul, is the man after Go
d's own heart (1 Sa. 13:14; the Chronicler does not quote the phrase, because his
whole portrait of David will illustrate it). It is only David's obedience which ca
n reverse for Israel the bad effects of Saul's disobedience. So if more recent exp
eriences (that is, for the Chronicler's readers, the exile) parallel those of Saul's
reign (7; 5:25±26; 9:1b), then the way of restoration is to be learned from David's
reign (2 Ch. 33:8).
11:1±3 The new king's people. 2 Sa. 5:1±3 is the source. Fulfilling the old prophecy (
Gn. 49:10), the people gather unitedly in obedience around the ruler from the tr
ibe of Judah. In significant pre-echoes of his greatest descendant Jesus, David
is presented as the same flesh and blood as his people, their victorious saviour
, the one appointed to this by God, and the maker of a covenant (3, rsv, rather
than compact) which they accept.
11:4±9 The new king's city. Jerusalem will be the place of the throne. David's powerfu
l rule over his people's life will mean praise, peace and prosperity (cf. Ps. 122)
. Such is in all ages the meaning of God's government (Heb. 12:22). This city will
, even in David's time, be the place where his son's temple is to be built (17:12; 2
2:1) and much sooner still the place where Israel's worship of God will centre on
the ark of the covenant (15:3±28). But even before that it is the place where thro
ugh his viceroy the Lord Almighty (9) rules his people.
11:10±12:22 The new king's warriors. These lists come much later in 2 Samuel (23:8±39)
, and are brought forward here to show how from the outset `all Israel' in its great
variety unites around a king of the right kind. Like the lists of chs. 1±9, these
may be drawn from several periods in order more effectively to make the point.
Outstanding among David's mighty men are `the Three' (11:11±14); so 2 Sa. 23:8±12 calls th
em, giving a full account (something is missing in Chronicles; a copyist's eye mus
t have slid from for battle (12; 2 Sa. 23:9) to at a place (12; 2 Sa. 23:11). Ne
xt come the Thirty, three of whom have given us another of the unforgettable inc
idents so dear to the Chronicler (11:15±19). This one comes from very early in Dav
id's career (1 Sa. 22:1). Abishai and Benaiah (11:20±25) were apparently equal to th
e first Three, and Benaiah's exploits were especially memorable.
Like so many of the people in chs. 1±9, most of the `mighty men' in 11:26±47 are no more
than names to us. It is not clear how they relate to the Thirty, and several ha
ve been added to the list of 2 Sa. 23. Paradoxically, the recording of nothing b
ut their names (except for the occasional extra touch; 11:32, 39, 42) makes them
real, in all their variety.
Four groups are now mentioned which joined forces with David during Saul's reign,
when he was at Ziklag (1 Sa. 27:6) or in his desert stronghold (1 Sa. 23:14). (N
ote again the `chiastic' arrangement, Ziklag/stronghold/stronghold/Ziklag. See on 2:
42±55.) First a group from Benjamin (12:1±7): David is to be acclaimed by `all Israel',
even Saul's tribe. These come from Saul's own clan and town. Perhaps their famous sh
arpness of eye (12:2; Jdg. 20:16) goes with a political and spiritual acuteness
which leads them to back David when tribal loyalty would have ranged them with S
aul. The closing comments on the Gadite group (12:8±15) could mean simply that the
y were `over a hundred/a thousand' (rsv), and that it was the flooding Jordan, not t
hey, that drove out the valley-dwellers; but in both verses, 14 and 15, the niv
is more in keeping with the Chronicler's wish to stress the valour of David's suppor
ters. The combined Benjamin/Judah group which joined him in that early period (1
2:16±18) for some reason raised his suspicion. Perhaps he had in mind Doeg's treache
ry (1 Sa. 21±22). Nothing could have been more reassuring than the inspired respon
se as God's Spirit clothed himself with Amasai (12:18, as in Jdg. 6:34; 2 Ch. 24:2
0) and made plain once more that God's blessing is for his chosen king and for tho
se who rally to him. From the end of Saul's reign (1 Sa. 29±31) comes the fourth gro
up (12:19±22). These Manassites had shrewdly left their decision till Saul's doom wa
s practically certain, but they were still welcome.
12:23±40 The gathering at Hebron. This is to anoint David king before he sets up h
is capital at Jerusalem (11:1±9). Individuals are named (27±28); tribal contingents
are described in a variety of ways. For once the tally of tribes is not kept car
efully to twelve (a geographical sweep from south to north then east includes Le
vi, both Joseph tribes, and both Manasseh territories, to give a grand total of
fourteenÐ`all Israel' indeed!). Not only the variety but also the unity of Israel is s
tressed (38), in strong contrast to its disunity in the days of the judges. God's
people united under God's chosen ruler have great cause for joy (39±40).
13:1±14:17 David at Jerusalem
Saul's reign and David's reign at Hebron (mentioned briefly; 12:23, 38) are simply t
he preludes to the story of the kingdom proper. First the ark, the symbol of God's
covenant of grace, must be installed in David's new capital (13:1±14); then God wil
l speak `from his sanctuary' (Ps. 60:6±8) to proclaim David's blessings at home (14:1±7) a
nd his fame abroad (14:8±17). There is a backward look to the contrasting case of
Saul, and a forward look to the twin themes to be developed throughout the book,
worship/temple/priesthood and government/throne/kingship.
13:1±14 Bringing back the ark. The greater part of this chapter (6±14) comes from 2
Sa. 6:2±11, while 2 Sa. 5:11±25 is left for the next chapter; the ark is of prime im
portance, as the introduction (1±4) shows. Its description (Ex. 25; 37) and its re
cent history (1 Sa. 4±7) are already known; the crucial thing here is that during
Saul's reign Israel did not enquire of it (3 or `of him'; the ark, or the God of the a
rk, 10:14), but that in contrast David and all Israel with him will do so.
`All Israel' is stressed further as v 5 rewrites 2 Sa. 6:1, noting also a north-sout
h extent even wider than the usual `from Beersheba to Dan' (21:2). The first assembl
y decides, and the second one acts, to bring the ark into the heart of the natio
n's life.
Uzzah's and Obed-Edom's experiences both illustrate the `goodness' of the ark. It is a `te
rrible good'; Uzzah had shared a house with it for twenty years (1 Sa. 7:2; 2 Sa.
6:3), so his over-familiarity was understandable, but it was fatal. Where treate
d with proper respect, it brought positive good.
14:1±7 David established at Jerusalem. Having got the ark on its way to David's capi
tal (the next chapter will pick up the rest of 2 Sa. 6), Chronicles now reverts
to 2 Sa. 5:11±25, and stresses further a vital contrast. First, in these verses Da
vid is given a notable `house' in Jerusalem, in more senses than one, whereas with S
aul's death at the battle of Mount Gilboa `all his house died together' (10:6).
14:8±17 David renowned abroad. The contrast continues with military victories and
again ch. 10 is in view. Each king in turn confronts the Philistines; Saul loses
, David wins; in the one case the pagan gods are honoured (10:10), in the other
they are abased (14:12); Saul neither sought nor obeyed the Lord (10:13±14), while
David did both (14:10±11, 14±16). Both God's answers to David were memorable. His `outb
reak' here was a matter for praise (14:11; contrast 13:11), and the mysterious sou
nd in the treetops meant that the onslaught was his, and David simply had to fal
l in and follow (cf. Jdg. 5:4; Ps. 68:8).
15:1±17:27 The ark of the covenant
The ark represents the covenant of grace, i.e. God's initiative in making Israel h
is people for ever. How they respond to that grace in faith and worship is one o
f the Chronicler's chief themes. He has a great interest in the temple, certainly,
but it is more than that: he returns repeatedly (1 Ch. 13; 15±17; 23±28; 2 Ch. 3±7; 2
9±31; 35) to the proper honouring and housing of the ark, who and what is involved
in this, and the religious observances which will centre on it. Hence his treat
ment of 2 Sa. 6:11±12. Between those two versesÐinto the three-month gap, as it wereÐh
e inserts both the establishing of David's kingdom (ch. 14) and the planning of th
e religious festival with which the ark would be brought to its proper home (15:
1±24). The liturgy which David appoints tells the same story (ch. 16), and the pro
phecy and prayer of ch. 17 again set forth the real relation between what God do
es for David and what David does for God.
15:1±15 Proper ceremony. The ark's journey to Jerusalem is now resumed, in a style n
o less joyful, but now more considered. The ark is to be carried, not carted, an
d that of course by Levites (2, amplifying 2 Sa. 6:13; indeed the whole of vs 1±24
is an addition to the earlier account). This is because David has again, in con
trast to Saul, `enquired', and has been answered not by some mystical experience but
by the law of Moses (13, 15; Dt. 10:8). Reverence for the ark means not respect
ful feelings, but practical obedience to God's word.
Again representatives of all Israel are involved (3), with three further divisio
ns of the tribe of Levi besides the normal three (4±10; Ex. 6:16, 18, 22). The `cons
ecration' required of the priests and other Levite leaders is no doubt that descri
bed in Ex. 19:10±15, but the important thing is not so much the rites in themselve
s as the attitude of heart and the relationship to God which they picture.
15:16±16:3 Proper praise. David's appointing of music for the festive journey looks
back to his own special interest as `Israel's singer of songs' (2 Sa. 23:1), and to th
e lists of leading musicians, one from each of the three great clans of Levi, al
ready given in 6:31±47, and forward to the place that music would hold in the temp
le. It is not clear how many of the Levites in 15:17±18 were gatekeepers as well a
s musicians, though Obed-Edom seems to have been one of them; nor is it clear wh
ether he is the Obed-Edom in whose house the ark had been staying (15:25; see on
26:4±8). But the group formed a well-organized choir and orchestra (15:19±24). (Ala
moth and sheminith may mean high voices and low voices; the words figure in some
of the headings to the Psalms.)
The Chronicler adds to 2 Sa. 6:13 a note of God's approval (15:26) because David h
ad `enquired' and obeyed, but reduces the quarrel between David and his wife (2 Sa.
6:20±23) to a mere note of her disapproval (15:29): the representative of Saul's hou
se is still not in tune with the mind of God, as David is.
16:4±36 David's psalm of thanksgiving. The psalm which Asaph's group is to use in wors
hip is especially apt, because it is to be sung before the ark of God's covenant,
to the Lord (4) (which is God's covenant name), the ark having now been brought in
to the centre of Israel's life. That is the setting (4±6, 37) and the theme of the p
salm. It combines parts of Pss. 96, 105 and 106. The first part (Ps. 105:1±15) set
s forth what it means to praise the Lord (8±13), and why, namely because of his co
venant (14±18). It is a covenant of graceÐi.e. in his undeserved love he has chosen
and rescued his people when they could do nothing for themselves (19±22). The seco
nd part (Ps. 96) praises him as God over all the nations, and therefore over the
ir gods (cf. 10:10; 14:12), and indeed over the whole earth (23±33). The final ver
ses (Ps. 106:1, 47±48) call God's people as a whole to join the Levites' praise (34±36):
they are a cry to God the Saviour, and the word for `Save us' is `Hosanna'Ðto be taken up
, significantly, by the crowds surrounding the last King of David's line as he rid
es in triumph to the temple (Mk. 11:9±10).
16:37±43 Ark and altar. Only Asaph's group stays at Jerusalem, while those of Heman
and Jeduthun (probably another name for Ethan, 6:44) are sent to Gibeon.
17:1±27 A house for the ark? By and large, this chapter reproduces the earlier acc
ount. But the changes to 2 Sa. 7:11 and 14 are significant. Here, v 10 has subdu
e instead of `give rest from', because, for the Chronicler, rest is characteristic o
f Solomon's reign rather than of David's, and because after the turmoils of David's ti
me it will be Solomon's privilege to build the temple. In the same way, v 13 omits
the possibility of Solomon's going wrong (though he would do so). In the Chronicl
er's view Solomon and David are to be seen as joint founders of the kingdom, the i
deal figures of the golden age.
It is clear that David intends to build a house for the ark, and equally clear f
rom the reply of Nathan, who is a man of God, that there is nothing wrong with s
uch a desire in itself. But God's reply will teach David's `faint desires to rise', and
to stretch them by new understanding. A permanent house for the ark is something
God has never asked for (4±6); indeed he designed the ark to be portable (Ex. 25:
14). What God does for David takes precedence over anything David can do for God
(7±10); note the repeated `I' in these verses. And in the days of David and Solomon h
e will set up a house and a kingdom (11±14) which, though theirs, will also be his
, and therefore eternal, and therefore something greater than a political kingdo
m destined to perish four centuries later (another pointer, like 16:34±36, to the
NT kingdom of Christ). The chapter thus develops from the `ark' theme (1) into both
the `temple' and `throne' themes (12).
David, going in before the Lord (16; presumably before the ark), responds with a
model prayer. First (16±22) he praises the God whose plan of blessing for his peo
ple embraces both the past (especially the making of Israel at the time of the e
xodus) and the future. Then he asks (23±27) that God will do what he has said he w
ill do (12), the true prayer of faith which rests on firm ground and is therefor
e assured of an answer.
18:1±20:8 Israel among the nations
These three chapters condense no fewer than fourteen chapters of the earlier his
tory (2 Sa. 8±21). The Chronicler omits the stories of the surviving members of Sa
ul's family (2 Sa. 9; see 1 Ch. 10:6), and of David's adultery (most of 2 Sa. 11±12) a
nd the evils that followed it (most of 2 Sa. 13±21; see 1 Ch. 3:1±9). David's wars rem
ain, and are highlighted. It may seem odd that the Chronicler should not want to
portray a lustful David yet be happy to portray a blood-thirsty one. But David's
military success is to be seen as a positive sign of blessing (18:6, 13). These
wars were the necessary preparation for the time of `rest' when the temple will be b
uilt.
The background to some incidents in David's conflict with the Ammonites and the Ph
ilistines has been omitted in Chronicles; e.g. Nahash (19:2) as an opponent of S
aul in 1 Sa. 11, and Goliath (20:5) killed by David in 1 Sa. 17. Background whic
h has been painted in is the success both at home and abroad, with neighbours bo
th friendly and antagonistic. Against this the achievements of 18:1±20:8 are parad
ed.
18:1±13 Foreign affairs. The Philistines, David's enemies from ch. 14, begin and end
the next three chapters (18:1, 20:4±8). Ch. 18 briefly mentions Israel's traditiona
l opponents east of the Jordan, Moab and Edom (2, 12±13), but is mostly about the
nations north of Israel, in the region of modern Syria and Lebanon. Nearly all a
re hostile, but one (Hamath, like Tyre in 14:1) is friendly. In either case Davi
d's reputation grows, and his successes prepare for the peace during which Solomon
will build the temple. In the same way, both friend and foe contribute to the s
tore of valuables which will be David's gifts for the Lord's house (7±11). David is in
a sense `disqualified' from building the temple because he is a man of war (22:8±9),
but that is not a mark of God's disapproval. For example, Abishai can be commended
in the Edomite campaign (contrast 2 Sa. 8:13) because the victory is clearly on
e given by the Lord to David (12±13).
18:14±17 Home affairs. A note of David's `establishment' follows, as in 2 Sa. 8:15±18. The
Chronicler's own background chapter mentions David's household in Jerusalem (14:1±7).
The Kerethites and Pelethites were foreign soldiers from Crete and Philistia wh
o formed David's bodyguard.
19:1±20:3 Ammonite campaigns. The Ammonites were another nation east of Jordan (se
e 18:2, 12±13). The only hint of an earlier friendship between David and Nahash (1
9:2) is the enmity between Nahash and Saul in 1 Sa. 11, even before David came o
n the scene. Ammonite opinion about David (19:3) shows that whether neighbouring
nations cultivate him or oppose him, he is a force increasingly to be reckoned
with. When war breaks out, Aramean armies related to those of 18:5 are drawn int
o the conflict. The brothers Joab and Abishai, David's nephews (2:13±17), were partn
ers-in-arms in the leadership of his armies (which may hint how 18:12 is related
to the heading of Ps. 60). The Aramean allies are disposed of in two campaigns
(19:14±18; the figures of 2 Sa. 10:18 differÐsee Introduction). The Ammonites themse
lves are finally defeated in 20:1±3, but nothing is said about David's adultery with
Bathsheba and murder of her husband (2 Sa. 11:2±12:25); the Chronicler is concern
ed to present David's successes, not his sins.
20:4±8 Philistine campaigns. This section on `Israel among the nations' comes full cir
cle with a note of Philistine enemies once more subjugated (4; cf. 18:1). The Ch
ronicler is careful not to say, even now, that David has yet been given `rest' (see
on 17:10, and 2 Sa. 7:11); for him that will be Solomon's privilege. The brother o
f Goliath (5): see on 2 Sa. 21:19.
21:1±22:19 The house of God
The Chronicler has taken ch. 21 almost entirely from 2 Samuel, but ch. 22 is his
own. The account of the census which David ordered, and of the plague with whic
h God punished him for doing so, is in 2 Sa. 24 simply part of the narrative, bu
t for the Chronicler its importance lies in something which that chapter does no
t mention: the place where the spread of the plague stopped was to be the site o
f the proposed temple. The house of the Lord God is to be here (22:1) is the hin
ge of this section. To this verse ch. 21 moves, and from it ch. 22 directly foll
ows. Practically everything is now ready for the building of the templeÐthe initia
l idea, the confirmation from God, the restored ark, the beginnings of a store o
f materials, and now the siteÐso ch. 22 introduces Solomon as its eventual builder
. Construction will not start until David's warlike reign gives way to Solomon's pea
ceful one. The rest of 1 Ch. will be devoted mainly to detailed administrative p
lans (23:1±29:30).
21:1±17 Census and plague. For once the Chronicler records a sin of David's. The rea
son he departs from his normal practice of showing David as an ideal king is tha
t this particular evil in the sight of God (7) leads (as noted above) to the fix
ing of a site for the temple. The inciting of David to commit this sin results i
n a punishment which according to 2 Sa. 24:1 is primarily due to some previous s
in on the part of the nation. Having in mind perhaps the principle of Jas. 1:13,
the Chronicler brings in unexpectedly the figure of Satan (1). He is the one wh
o, as in Jb. 2:3, actually causes the trouble, although only by God's permission a
nd within God's limits.
It is not clear why taking a census was wrong. The law allowed it, with certain
provisos (Ex. 30:11±16); a census gave the book of Numbers its name, and the early
chapters of 1 Chronicles itself contain similar lists. Perhaps as this one was
a military list (5), David's motives were wrong. Chronicles often makes the point
that Israel's real security lay in trust in its God, not in the size of its army (
e.g. 2 Ch. 14:11; 16:8). Not David but Joab is here presented in a good light, t
hough in the earlier history he is not a pleasant character (1 Ki. 2:5±6). He carr
ies out the census under protest, and draws the line at Levi and Benjamin presum
ably because of Nu. 1:47±50 (perhaps both tribes were regarded as custodians of th
e tabernacle, which was in Benjaminite territory, 16:39). The resulting numbers
differs from those in 2 Sa. 24:9; again, see Introduction.
An angel with a sword appears also to Balaam (Nu. 22:31) and to Joshua (Jos. 5:1
3±15), and there as here the place where he appears is reckoned holy. Here he is t
he plague-bearer (11). David, when he sees him, is apparently on his way northwa
rds out of Jerusalem with a group of elders, perhaps going to Gibeon to offer sa
crifices in penitence (see vs 29±30). The possible reading of v 17 in neb makes th
is more poignant: `and I am a shepherd' (instead of and done wrong).
21:18±21 The place where the plague stopped. Araunah (the Chronicler's version of th
e name is actually `Ornan') is one of the original Canaanite inhabitants of Jerusale
m (see 11:4±5), but obviously he recognizes the Lord's angel and the Lord's anointed k
ing (21:20±21). Knowing that the honour of the Lord is enhanced, not diminished, b
y these events, David is quite happy to ask for the use of this pagan's threshing-
floor for the site of altar and temple.
The price noted here (21:25) may be for the entire temple site, as against the m
uch smaller price noted in 2 Sa. 24:24 perhaps for the altar site alone. The Lor
d confirms the rightness of all this by sending fire from heaven (21:26) just as
the angel confirmed Gideon's call (Jdg. 6:20±24). A more significant parallel is t
he fire that falls on the altar when the tabernacle is first set up (Lv. 9:24) a
nd when the temple is finally consecrated (2 Ch. 7:1). The Lord's `answer' (21:26, 28)
explains his plan for the blessing of his people. Here are to be both the house
, i.e. the place of the ark, representing divine grace, and also the altar, repr
esenting human response (22:1). As with Job, out of Satan's evil intentions comes
great good (Jb. 42:12).
22:2±5 Materials for the house. This section, and indeed the rest of 1 Chronicles,
has no parallel in Samuel/Kings. Since Solomon comes on the scene here and Davi
d does not leave it till the end of the book, the next eight chapters bind toget
her the two reigns as the double foundation of the 400 years of the monarchy. At
the same time they are all about the temple, stressing again the Chronicler's twi
n themes of priesthood and kingship. For the temple David gathers exceptional am
ounts of material; in it will be found contributions from a variety of non-Israe
lite nations (see on 21:20±21); by it the fame of the Lord will be made known far
and wide. All these aspects underline the importance of this building.
22:6±19 Instructions for the house. David speaks at some length to Solomon about t
he building of the temple, then briefly to all the leaders of Israel (17). Ch. 2
8, with almost exactly the same subject matter, will be a public address, with c
losing words to Solomon. This draws a revealing parallel with the transfer of au
thority from Moses to Joshua long before. The command `Be strong and courageous' is
an exact repeat (13; Jos. 1:9) within two passages full of similarities. Moses h
ad guided God's people through a period of turmoil and change, in which they becam
e a nation; Joshua would lead them into the land of rest (Jos. 1:12±15). In the sa
me way David has had to be a man of war (8; see 28:3 rv), but is not blamed for
it, while Solomon will be a man of peace (9), merely a statement of fact (see on
18:13). In truth, niv's man of peace is misleading. rv should be followed in v 9:
he will be a `man of rest', meaning rest from all his enemies, though following his
accession God will also give Israel `peace' (šālôm, like Solomon's name) and `quietness' (a w
d used in Jos. 11:23, 14:15; Dt. 12:10 is another close parallel). The blood she
d in David's wars may indeed have disqualified him ritually from too close an invo
lvement with the temple (8b), but the point is that his work is to provide for t
he temple (14), not only building materials, but, following his victories, a tim
e free from war; while Solomon's work is to build the sanctuary (19). The relation
between the two reigns is summed up in David's address to the leaders of Israel i
n vs 17±19.
23:1±27:34 Organization for temple and kingdom
These chapters are daunting both at a casual reading, which sees only unhelpful
name-lists like those in chs. 1±9, and at a careful one, which notices apparent di
screpancies in them. They are in fact family lists of the tribe of Levi, with ot
her information inserted, setting out the Levites' involvement in the services of
the temple. Much of this section seems to be related to periods other than David's
, some even to the Chronicler's own time. But it is all thought of as `Davidic', just
as all OT law centres on Moses and all OT wisdom on Solomon. As David prepared m
aterials for the building of the temple, so Israel likewise was a people prepare
d for God's service.
23:1±6 The assembly of leaders. V 1 should be taken as a general heading to the re
st of 1 Chronicles (not as the first of the two ceremonies implied by 29:22). Th
ese remaining seven chapters, bracketed between this verse and 29:28, bring Davi
d's reign to a splendid climax. The OT uses the formula old and full of years for
great men who deserve honour, such as Abraham or Job. The Chronicler omits the s
ins and troubles of David the man because they would disfigure his official port
rait of David the king. The impression that there were two assemblies as well as
two `coronations' may be correct; gathered (2) is less formal than the later `summone
d' (28:1).
The division of the tribe of Levi into priests and (other) Levites (2) is dealt
with later in this chapter, while the fourfold division of the `Levites' (4±5) is the
basis of this and the next four chapters. The fact that the Levites' lower age lim
it is 30 here (3) and 20 elsewhere (24, 27) is one of the indications that this
section (like much in the early chapters of the book) is a collage of pictures o
f Israel from various periods.
23:7±24:31 Sanctuary staff. Levite family lists (23:7±23; 24:20±31) frame two central
sections, dealing with the duties of the Levites (23:24±32) and the divisions of t
he priests (24:1±19).
The three sons of Levi head the first lists of names (23:7±23); 23:6b is probably
meant as a title for this section. The Gershonites of 23:7 may be a later genera
tion than those of 6:17, and the dating of the people in 23:9a may be different
again. Chronicles distinguishes the duties of the priests from those of the rest
of the tribe of Levi (23:13).
The latter duties are detailed in 23:24±32. In some respects they change, of cours
e, once the movable tabernacle is replaced by a permanent sanctuary (23:25±26), an
d they seem to relate to the Levites generally (i.e. all the divisions noted in
23:4±5). Twenty (23:24, 27); see on 23:3.
The divisions of the priests (24:1±19) are yet another kind of classification with
in this tribe. Looking back, the death of Aaron's two eldest sons is noted (24:2),
though not the shameful reason for it (Lv. 10:1±2). The curious phrase officials
of God (24:5) may be another way of describing officials of the sanctuary (and m
eaning `even', or `that is'), or perhaps the two descriptions simply mean that these lea
ders were `holy' and `outstanding'. Looking forward, some of the twenty-four heads of fa
milies reappear in later times, e.g. Jehoiarib (24:7) in 1 Macc. 2:1, Hakkoz (24
:10) in Ezr. 2:61 and Ne. 7:63, and most famously Abijah (24:10) in Lk. 1:5.
The final list of Levites, 24:20±31, corresponds to that of 23:12±23, but takes it o
ne generation further. Again the Chronicler's picture of Israel is seen to be a ma
ny-layered one, pieced together from the records of many different periods.
25:1±31 Musicians. After the lists of sanctuary staff comes the second division of
the Levites, that of the musicians. It is further divided in two ways, first ac
cording to the three families of Asaph, Jeduthun and Heman (1±6), and then accordi
ng to the twenty-four `courses' headed by their sons (7±31). Heman is called the king's
seer here (5), and Asaph and Jeduthun are similarly styled elsewhere (2 Ch. 29:3
0; 35:15); there is clearly a connection between prophesying and music-making, t
hough the word supervision, which like `prophesying' is mentioned three times in vs
1±3, shows that in biblical times (cf. 1 Cor. 14:26±33) speech or song could be insp
ired without being ecstatic or uncontrolled.
The first five names of Heman's sons (4) are followed by nine others of unusual fo
rm, which sound in Hebrew like psalm-verses: Hananiah, Hanani = `Be gracious to me
, Lord, be gracious to me,' and so forth. Perhaps Heman named his sons after his f
avourite Psalms!
The courses of singers, like the courses of priests in 24:7±18, number twenty-four
. A complete list in each case, like the sense of v 8 (cf. 24:31, 26:13) is char
acteristic of the Chronicler, and his conviction that in God's plan all his people
are to be drawn together.
26:1±19 Gatekeepers. The basic framework for this set of lists is vs 1±3, 9±11 and 19.
Of the three great families of the Levites (6:1) only the Kohathites (1, Korah
being a Kohathite according to 6:22) and the Merarites (10) are represented here
; the Asaph of v 1 is not the famous one of 25:1, who was a Gershonite (6:39±43),
but the Ebiasaph of 9:19. Where we might have expected a list of Gershonite gate
keepers we find the family of Obed-Edom (4±8). This intriguing character is not gi
ven a Levite pedigree, but if all the references are to the same person, then he
is a Levite in 15:18, which would qualify him for this list, as would the speci
al blessing of v 5 and 13:14 (and see on 15:17±25).
Though Obed-Edom's generation might have been gatekeepers in David's time, long befo
re the temple was built (15:17±18), his name figures also here (15) after it has b
een built, therefore at least as late as Solomon; while 9:17±32 (which has spelt o
ut for us some of the gatekeepers' actual duties) lists some of the same names eve
n after the temple's rebuilding four centuries later still. This is all part of th
e Chronicler's many-layered technique of putting together information from differe
nt ages to create an in-depth picture of the life and worship of God's people. One
gatekeeper's reputation for wise counsel (14) and the mention of the court (?) wh
ere others were on duty (the meaning of `parbar', v 18 rsv, is in fact unknown) sugg
est the realism and accuracy of the parts, however artfully the whole may be put
together.
26:20±27:34 Officials. The four Levite divisions in 23:4±5 were listed in order of s
ize. The order of the detailed lists has been different, working from the centre
outwards, as it wereÐsanctuary staff, then musicians, then gatekeepers, and now f
inally various officials, some of whom have duties away from the temple (26:29),
indeed throughout the land, and duties secular as well as religious (26:30, 32)
. The lists in ch. 27 go well beyond the tribe of Levi.
The section 26:20±32 deals with officials in charge of the treasuries, or storehou
ses (20; same word in 27:25). Some (26:21±22) seem to be curators of the `articles o
f the sanctuary', as in 9:28±32; others (26:24±28) of such valuables as the spoils of
war. The duties of others again are judicial (26:29) or fiscal (if religious and
secular taxes are in view in 26:30, 32). Once more the picture is built up from
various periods: the extensive lands described in 26:30±32 belong to early times;
Levite involvement in administration figures only in later times (2 Ch. 19:8±11).
As Israel's history can be grasped only when it is seen as a whole, so its charac
ter can be grasped only when we bring together all its significant people, even
Saul (26:28).
The movement in 26:29±32 away from the religious and into the secular sphere bring
s us to something quite non-Levite, an army list (27:1±15). This too is Israel at
its most complete. The commanders are the best examples of leadership history ca
n provide, namely twelve of David's mighty men from 11:10±31, and the statistics are
perhaps what their forces were ideally intended to beÐtwelve regiments each of tw
enty-four `thousands', recalling the twenty-four courses of priests and especially t
he twenty-four courses with twelve musicians in each (24:7±18; 25:6±31). So although
Asahel had died even before David became king of all Israel, his name stands at
the head of a regiment (27:7; 2 Sa. 2:18±23), whereas the army's organization is mu
ch more in Solomon's style.
The section 27:16±24 lists the officers presumably involved in the census of 27:23±2
4. Twelve `tribes' are mentioned, if Manasseh is counted as one, though it is a very
odd list, and we can only guess why Gad and Asher are omitted and Aaron added.
The census is probably that of 21:1±8; the account there does not necessarily conf
lict, as some suggest, with this one.
The section 27:25±31 is another list of twelve, this time the royal stewardsÐthe hea
ds of the civil service. Again the Chronicler is happy to include non-Israelites
who have been drawn into the service of the God of Israel (Obil and Jaziz, 27:3
0±31).
Finally David's inner cabinet (27:32±34) contains some we cannot identify, such as h
is `uncle' Jonathan, and others familiar from elsewhere (18:14±17; 2 Sa. 15±17). The fam
ous names and the masterly ordering which we find in these lists tell us again t
hat we are being given an idealized picture of God's people. In particular chs. 23±2
7 display a `David' type of organization for the temple of Jerusalem and the kingdom
of Israel such as God's chosen king would have wanted to achieve, to hand it on t
o succeeding generations.
28:1±29:30 The succession
These two final chapters look back to ch. 23, where v 1 (`David ¼ made his son Solom
on king') forms a heading for the whole long section (23:1±29:30) which ends the fir
st book. A `gathering' of Israelite leaders is introduced at 23:2; 28:1 introduces a
second, larger and more formal `assembly' for what will be in effect Solomon's corona
tion (29:22±24). We are also looking back to ch. 22, for what is said here both to
and about Solomon amplifies in a public and formal way what David had already s
aid more personally there. Of particular interest is the fact that David, in so
many ways Israel's ideal king, is about to step down, and God's people in every subs
equent generation need to know how the Davidic ideals are to be kept alive when
he is no longer there. His parting instructions to Solomon and to Israel are the
refore far-reaching.
28:1±10 The Lord's directions. The formality of this public speech contrasts with wh
at has gone before, but its content is very like that of the less formal convers
ations in ch. 22. It also recalls Moses' words in commissioning Joshua, `in the pres
ence of all Israel, ªBe strong and courageousº ' (Dt. 31:7; cf. here vs 8, 10, 20).
For all the Chronicler's interest in a house ¼ for the ark (2), God's gracious plan fo
r his people (which the ark expresses) is even more important. According to that
plan David is the man of war and Solomon the man of peace (3; 22:9). God has ch
osen this father and son out of all Israel to sit on his throne and build his te
mple (4±6). The promise of an everlasting kingdom is in one sense unconditional (1
7:12±14), but in another sense it depends on human obedience (7). A vital part of
David's `bequest' to his descendants is the principle set out in v 9Ð`If you seek him, he
will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you.' This is a class
ic statement of Chronicles' `doctrine of immediate retribution', which will reappear f
requently in 2 Ch.
28:11±21 The temple plans. All that David has said in vs 1±10 has emphasized the ini
tiative and action of God. Now this is to be translated into action by Solomon.
It is related to what God gave Moses to do when the original tabernacle was in v
iewÐplans (11) is the same word as `pattern' in Ex. 25:9, 40Ðand it covers the people as
well as the things that are involved in the service of God's house (13). God's plan
for Moses is thus renewed for David (19) and so for Solomon (20±21). God expected
Solomon's active collaboration, and Solomon did not find God's plan in any way irks
ome or restrictive. V 20 is even closer than vs 8 and 10 to the encouragements o
f Dt. 31:6±8 and Jos. 1:5±7, echoed also in Heb. 13:5±6.
29:1±9 The challenge to commitment. David has already put to his people the need f
or obedience to God (28:8); now he challenges them to be generous and wholeheart
ed. He sets the example (2±5a) and they rise to the challenge (5b±9). The amount of
wealth noted here is enormous (see Introduction), but it shows a generosity like
that seen when the tabernacle was constructed (Ex. 35:20±36:7), like that demande
d by the prophets of the days of the second temple, not long before the Chronicl
er's own time (Hg. 1:3±4; Mal. 3:8±10), and like that of the NT church when a new kind
of `temple' was being built (1 Cor. 3:16; 2 Cor. 8±9; Acts 11:27±30). It is made real f
or the Chronicler's first readers by the use of the term daric (7), a coin known i
n their day but not in David's. The Chronicler, not the cold man some think him to
be, notes here as elsewhere the joy, liberality and wholeheartedness which Davi
d's challenge evokes (9).
29:10±20 The great thanksgiving. Those living in the Chronicler's times may have had
no hope of ever experiencing such a splendid occasion as this, but he wants to
bring out the underlying principle: this God is real in all ages (10, 18) and to
him belong all things (11, 14). Naturally therefore all this abundance (16), ev
erything that any generation sees when it counts its blessings, comes from God t
oo. This truth arouses once more wholehearted joy and generosity (17, 19).
There are parts of this memorable prayer which God's people have made their own ev
er since. Even the solemn words of v 15 should, paradoxically, inspire confidenc
e: the golden age of David has no more permanence than any other, and that age,
like every age, finds its hope (its `abiding', rsv) only in David's never-failing Lord
.
29:21±30 Solomon made king. The next day, a day of both sacrificing and feasting (
those who give to God receive from him!), is the occasion of Solomon's official ac
cession. This was his second enthronement (22); readers are expected to know abo
ut the earlier one, hastily arranged to forestall his brother's seizing the crown
(1 Ki. 1). Since the Chronicler assumes that the older history is well known, th
e different picture he paints of his two central characters is obviously quite i
ntentional: the opposition Solomon had to quell before all Israel obeyed him (23
), like the troubles David went through before he died at a good old age (28), a
re left out, because in Chronicles the two men represent jointly the ideal of ki
ngship. Solomon's magnificence puts him on a par with his father's greatness, and be
hind both of them is God's eternal kingship (28:5; 29:11). The throne and the king
dom are unshakeable, because they are the Lord's (23).
1:1±9:31 Solomon
David was celebrated as the greatest of the kings of Israel, and his reign was i
ts golden age. Chronicles stresses this (1 Ch. 10±29). So as the great king now di
sappears and is succeeded by his son Solomon, what follows is of special interes
t to all God's people who have not had the privilege of living under his rule.
Two things in particular we should look for in 2 Ch. 1±9. Where the two reigns res
emble each other, we may see principles laid down by David which Solomon, and al
l others who care for God's people, must follow. Where they differ, this is not be
cause of failings on Solomon's part (the Chronicler leaves out such things), but b
ecause David's achievement was actually incomplete. The son does what the father d
id not do, and becomes the other half, as it were, of God's ideal king. The golden
age comprises both reigns together. Above all, this means the building of the t
emple, forbidden to David as a man of war but enjoined on Solomon as a man of pe
ace.
1:1±2:18 Solomon established
God is at work through Solomon as he was through David (1:1). The two reigns com
bine to form a blueprint of how God governs his people. `Man of rest', however, does
not mean that Solomon's is a passive faith, which assumes God will do everything;
on the contrary, these opening chapters show him as very active in his relation
s with God, with his people, and with neighbouring nations, and supremely in his
enthusiasm for the temple project.
1:1±6 Solomon seeks the Lord. At once the Chronicler signals that his Solomon is t
o be seen as a model figure alongside David: all the unpleasantness which surrou
nded Solomon's establishing himself (1 Ki. 2) is omitted (1). All Israel (2) will
rally to the new king as it did to the old (1 Ch. 11±12). Alongside the Solomon wh
o will illustrate God's rule over his people is the Solomon who seeks the Lord (5)
, as any needy believer should. As with David, the ark representing divine grace
and the altar representing human response are in two different places (1 Ch. 15
:1±3; 16:37±40), and the Chronicler pointedly mentions only the altar-sacrifices whi
ch Solomon offered (contrast 1 Ki. 3:15). He also reminds us that the tabernacle
and altar in question were those made by Bezalel in the time of Moses; Solomon
will replace both (see 4:1±11a).
1:7±13 Solomon asks a blessing. With Solomon's vision the grace/faith pattern is pla
in. To God's offer Solomon makes a model response, a prayer which takes account of
God's own nature (what he has done, what he has said he will do, and what only he
can give, vs 8±10); of Solomon's own inadequacy, and of his people's need. God's answer
(11±12) anticipates the words of Jesus in Mt. 6:33 that we should seek the kingdo
m of God and his righteousness.
1:14±17 Solomon prospers in the world. The note of Solomon's diplomatic and commerci
al relations with other countries comes near the end of his reign in Kings (1 Ki
. 10:26±29); it has been brought forward here as one element in the establishing o
f his power, before he begins on his main work, the temple. It also establishes
the character of his reign as one of `rest', in which hostilities have given place t
o trade, and war to peace. These contrasts with David's reign help to set Solomon
alongside his father as the two sides of the ideal kingship.
2:1±18 Solomon prepares to build the temple. The building of both a temple and a p
alace is in view, but by omitting the details of the second (1 Ki. 7:1±12) the Chr
onicler again focuses on the first. Chronicles also omits 1 Ki. 5:3±5, having alre
ady given the reasons David could not build the temple (1 Ch. 17; 22:7±10; 28:2±3).
Between two notes of the labour force which Solomon mobilized are the two letter
s that passed between him and Hiram of Tyre. The work in which Hiram is being as
ked to help is something new, on the grandest scale; but what it is for is not n
ew at allÐnamely, the ancient religion of Israel. The old observances are there (4
; cf. Ex. 30:7±8; 40:23; Nu. 28±29), the same materials as before (7; cf. Ex. 35:35)
, and even a counterpart to the original supervisor-craftsman Oholiab (13±14, cf.
Ex. 35:34). (Details, e.g. in vs 10, 14, 18, differ from the parallels in 1 Ki.
5:11, 13; 7:14; the Chronicler does from time to time seem to be using different
sources. On the question of whether Solomon used Israelite forced labour, see o
n 1 Ki. 5:13±18.)
It is one more characteristic of the Chronicler's that he gives us Hiram's words in
vs 11±12: like those of the queen of Sheba in 9:8, they show the outside world rec
ognizing that the presence and blessing of God are in Israel when it is ruled by
God's chosen king.
3:1±5:14 The making of the temple
According to Chronicles, it is by the temple (rather than by any of the other th
ings that Kings says about him) that Solomon is to be remembered. As his doings
generally are abbreviated here, so the making of the temple is reduced from the
longer description of it in 1 Ki. 6±7, for the Chronicler, as so often, assumes th
at his readers know that. The aim of the whole project is to prepare a worthy se
tting in which God's glory and presence may be known among his people. It is as th
ough this whole section is leading up to 5:13±14, and saying, `When Solomon had done
this, and this, and this, then the glory appeared.'
3:1±17 The building. The site (1) is full of meaning. There David had seen both th
e wrath and the mercy of God (1 Ch. 21:16). So had Abraham long before (Gn. 22:1
4 rsv, `On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided,' or (mg.) `he will be seen'; Gn.
22:2 is the only other mention of Moriah in the Bible). There too, long afterwar
ds, Simeon would hold the baby Jesus and say, `My eyes have seen your salvation' (Lk
. 2:30).
The brief account of the building in which God was going to show his glory (see
the last verse of this section, 5:14) begins naturally with the entrance (4). Th
is might just conceivably have been a tower, the height six times the breadth (s
o rsv), but more probably both figures should be twenty, as in niv. The portico
leads to the Holy Place, the main hall (5±7), and that in turn to the Most Holy Pl
ace (8) where the cherubim stand (10±13). The quantity and quality of the ornament
ation are both stressed; Parvaim (6) is a place-name now unknown, but its gold w
as obviously highly regarded, like the pure gold and fine gold of vs 4 and 5; si
x hundred talents (8) is an enormous amount; the fifty shekels of v 9 may mean t
he amount of gold leaf used for gilding the heads of the nails (nails actually m
ade of gold would not be very practical!) There was also a curtain between the H
oly Place and the Most Holy Place in the tabernacle (Ex. 26:31±33); Solomon's struct
ure clearly follows the same principles as that of Moses; however, it differs in
detail. Finally, outside the building, the free-standing pillars Jakin and Boaz
are mentioned (15±17).
4:1±11a The furniture. Here too the emphasis is on principles. As both tabernacle
and temple have a curtain in the Holy Place, so both structures must be furnishe
d with an altar (1). The old one was 5 cubits square and 3 high (Ex. 38:1±2); the
new one is 20 cubits square and 10 high.
The altar is the first thing one would notice as one emerged from the building.
Next would be the `Sea' (2±5), standing slightly to one side (10); then the ten washba
sins (6); then, as one turned back to look inside the Holy Place, the ten lampst
ands (7) and the ten tables (8). The tabernacle had only one of each of these, a
nd the Chronicler elsewhere speaks in similar terms (2 Ch. 13:11); hence the Jew
ish tradition that the temple contained both the new ten and the original one of
each.
4:11b±22 Summary of the work. This passage follows 1 Ki. 7:39±50 in detail. It inclu
des items not mentioned earlier, notes the vast quantity of bronze as well as go
ld that was used (18), and draws attention to the cooperation between Solomon an
d Huram-Abi. Each is in a sense the maker of all these things (18), much as Mose
s and Bezalel were equally responsible for the making of the tabernacle (Ex. 33:
22±23).
5:1±14 All come to the temple. The achievement is Solomon's: only when he has comple
ted the temple are David's contributions brought in (1). The initiative has been G
od's: the central feature of this place of worship is that the ark, the symbol of
his grace, presence and covenant, will be there (2±10). The time of the temple's ina
uguration is, fittingly, the seventh month (3), i.e. the Feast of Tabernacles, w
hen `all is safely gathered in' and God is praised for his faithful provision. The o
ld tent is now literally taken up into the new temple (5), showing that this is
the new embodiment of the original principles. They are still there today (9) pr
obably means only `from then on' (the ark had in fact disappeared by the Chronicler's
time), but it aptly describes these spiritual principles. Heb. 8±9 shows their con
tinuing NT significance.
Nearly all this section comes from 1 Ki. 8:1±11, though vs 11±13 have been added, ty
ing in these ceremonies with David's when he brought the ark to Jerusalem in 1 Ch.
15±16. The word all appears repeatedly: in the ideal Israel, all will be drawn to
gether around these principles (3), and among them God's glory will be seen, as wh
en both temple (vs 11±13) and tabernacle (Ex. 40:34±35) were completed.
6:1±7:22 The dedication ceremony
These chapters, like ch. 5, follow 1 Ki. 8±9 closely. The events they describe int
erest the Chronicler even more than the temple as a building. Two-thirds of the
account of those events is a record of prayer and the answer to prayer. From one
point of view Solomon is following out principles which were laid down by David
. God's people find blessing where they unite around the faithful ruler whom God h
as chosen (6:3; 1 Ch. 16:2). But he is also doing what David could not do, for w
here David fought to establish the kingdom, captured Jerusalem, and brought the
ark there, Solomon's rule is centred on the continuing presence of the ark in its
permanent home.
6:1±11 The dedication begins. Solomon's work has plainly been approved by God, since
the divine glory has filled the temple (5:13±14); the note of this (1±2) leads into
his opening statement (4±11), which in turn will lead into his long prayer (14±42).
The darkness of the windowless Most Holy Place represents the fact that God can
not be seen (1; cf. Ex. 20:21). In the same way the ark, symbol of his presence
in the temple (2, 11), shows that though he dwells in heaven he is always availa
ble on earth to those who pray (14±42 throughout).
Solomon has no other blessing to give his people than a proclaiming of the great
ness of their God. This is a God who keeps his promises, particularly those to D
avid (4). His choice of this city and this king is a covenant on a par with the
one he made with Moses at the time of the exodus (5±6, a rare reference; often whe
n the Chronicler might be expected to refer to the exodus he does not do soÐthat c
ovenant has for him been swallowed up in this one, as the tabernacle has in the
temple). God planned, and has carried out, the David/Solomon succession (7±10). An
d not surprisingly the ark is at the heart of this new age, as it was in Moses' ti
me (11).
6:12±21 The prayer of approach. The beginning of Solomon's prayer is full of this in
comparable God (14), repeats to him many of the things the last section has said
about him, adds that he requires obedience (16), and makes plain how Solomon un
derstands him to be dwelling on earth with men (18): in line with the picture of
his hands and mouth (4, 15), we now have his eyes and ears always open to his p
eople's prayers (19±21). This explains why the chief purpose of the temple is both t
he housing of the ark (God's covenant-promises of grace, 11) and the burning of in
cense (which stands for prayer; compare vs 18±21 with 2:6 rsv).
6:22±42 The prayer of intercession. This momentous prayer is offered by Solomon, w
ith his God-given wisdom, for God's people as a whole, and covers a wide range of
situations both actual and possible. Like nearly all of chs. 6±7 it is taken from
1 Kings, but is specially apt for later generations like the Chronicler's when the
situations envisaged have come true. It is a prayer about prayer. Solomon is pr
aying that Israel may be a people not passively receiving blessings, but itself
actively praying for them. Temple and ark will remind every generation of its ne
ed for a personal `practice of the presence of God'. Each must learn to pray towards
this place, not necessarily physically, but always in heart and mind focusing o
n the meaning of it.
The seven situations listed may be defined as the administration of justice (22±23
), defeat in war (24±25), drought (26±27), shortage from a variety of causes (28±31),
the non-Israelite seeking God (32±33), a just `crusade' (34±35), and sin leading to exil
e (36±39). Several are of course special to the geography and history of Israel, b
ut all have equivalents for God's people in any culture, climate or age.
7:1±10 The answer of fire. Though the appearing of God's glory is mentioned at each
end of Solomon's prayer, it does not mean that it appeared twice (in both vs 1 and
3 we could read something like `the fire as well as the glory'), but v 3 does indic
ate that it was now above as well as in the temple, so that everyone could see i
t. It confirmed that Solomon's plans had been carried out as God meant them to be.
But the fire was something more. What God was approving now was the first use o
f the temple as he had intended, i.e. for an encounter between himself and his p
eople by way of Solomon's prayer. Hence there is a public sign for Israel to exper
ience and remember, in contrast to the personal answer which God is about to giv
e to Solomon (12±22). At other equally crucial encounters between God and Israel t
he fire fell: in the times of Moses (Lv. 9:24), David (on the same spot as on th
is occasion, 1 Ch. 21:26), and Elijah (1 Ki. 18:38). David and his son are again
bracketed as equal partners in God's plan (10).
The `festival in the seventh month' (5:3), which was Tabernacles, was apparently pre
ceded by this extra week of celebration for the dedication of the temple (9).
7:11±22 The answer of revelation. In contrast to God's fire, which was public but te
mporary, the visionÐwe might say, the interviewÐwhich he gave to Solomon was private
, but has become enduring common property. It is an answer, concise but meaningf
ul, to the whole of ch. 6. V 12 confirms what Solomon said about the temple in 6
:1±11. Vs 13±14 accept the entire sevenfold prayer of 6:22±42 (and take for granted a
people who are both called by God's name and possessed of a land; a passage not th
erefore to be applied thoughtlessly in our NT times). Vs 15±16 confirm that God's ey
es, ears and name are indeed there in the temple (6:18±21, 40). Vs 17±18 confirm 6:1
4±17; the you is Solomon (singular), and while in Kings he did sin and his throne
did in the end fall vacant, in the Chronicles sense he fulfilled God's will, and I
srael has never lacked a ruler. But in vs 19±22, which pick up Solomon's seventh req
uest (6:36±39), the you is plural and means Israel, and whether or not Solomon dis
obeyed God, Israel certainly did. What is more, the Chronicler and his readers h
ave actually seen both the threatened loss of land and temple (20) and the praye
d-for restoration (6:37±39). These closing verses are a summary also of the fundam
ental rule of cause and effect which is so much a part of the Chronicler's teachin
g: if you obey, you will prosper; if you disobey, you will suffer; if you repent
, you will be forgiven.
8:1±9:31 Solomon's greatness
At most points this section follows 1 Ki. 9:10±10:29 closely. But the Chronicler i
gnores 1 Ki. 11, for the follies and hostilities of Solomon's later years would de
tract from the picture of an ideal reign. He did the same with David (see on 1 C
h. 29:21±30); again, father and son are two sides of the same coin. It is to be no
ted that neither stands as an individual, but that both are seen in solidarity w
ith the people of Israel, who are blessed through them (cf. 7:10).
8:1±10 Solomon's power. Granted that 1 Ki. 9:10±14 (where these towns are given by Sol
omon to Hiram) was known, and the Chronicler was not here trying to make sense o
f a damaged version of Kings (as some suggest), the simplest explanation of vs 1±2
is that they describe Hiram giving the towns back. It is clear from that passag
e that he did not like them, and from this one that Solomon admitted they needed
renovating.
The verses introduce a section which shows Solomon's power being used for the bene
fit of the nation. Vs 3±4, the only military campaign recorded for the `man of peace',
show frontiers being established in the far north (the developing of a port on
the Red Sea, in the far south [vs 17±18], may be meant as a counterpart to this, a
nd the extent of Solomon's domains has already been hinted at in 7:8). The places
mentioned in vs 4±6 indicate a country well armed, defended and provided for. The
use of the surviving Canaanites for forced labour shows up by contrast the freed
om and independence of true-born Israelites (7±10). God's people are blessed under t
he rule of so powerful a King.
8:11±16 Solomon's worship. This section describes more fully than 1 Ki. 9:25 all Sol
omon's work for the temple of the Lord (16). That verse may answer to 2:1, and thu
s conclude the main part (nearly seven chapters long) of the story of Solomon th
e temple builder. His Egyptian queen is mentioned here because of the danger she
would incur by being too close to the `holiness' of the temple, for `everything conne
cted with the ark is holy' (rather than the places the ark ¼ has entered, v 11); the
perils of holy things were illustrated in David's time by the story of Uzzah (1 C
h. 13). Chronicles does not specify whether her peril would lie in being a Genti
le, or a woman, or just (like Uzzah) someone unauthorized; it is making a point
not about her but about the temple. Solomon, however, though not a priest, is au
thorized to do a great deal in respect of the temple (12±15). He defers to the com
mand of Moses (13) and the ordinance of David (14), but the mention of these aug
ust names simply shows that his own commands (15) are to be ranked with theirs.
All that he sets up is intended as a framework for his people's worship of their G
od.
8:17±9:12 Solomon's fame. Ezion Geber (8:17) certainly indicates the reach of Solomo
n's power (see on 8:3±4), but it is also one of the ports of entry for his great wea
lth (Ophir, like Parvaim in 3:6, is now unknown, but its gold was famous), and 8
:17±18 also reminds us of Solomon's standing with surrounding nations such as Edom a
nd Tyre. The visit of the queen of Sheba also may have had commercial motives, s
ince Solomon's authority straddled the trade routes of many of these nations. But
the stated reason for it was his fame (9:1), in particular the fame of his achie
vements and his wisdom (9:5). What is recorded about her visit is the splendid s
peech she makes in praise of SolomonÐnot for his own sake, but to exalt the Lord w
ho has made him what he is, and to compliment the people for whose benefit (once
more) he has been made so great (9:8). Again Hiram is mentioned, his servants b
eing involved in the importing of valuables into Israel (algum is an unknown var
iety of wood, but it was obviously precious), but also no doubt to recall that h
e had made a similar comment to the queen's at the beginning of this long section
(2:11).
9:13±28 Solomon's riches. Gold represented the wealth of Solomon's kingdom. Once the t
emple was finished, and the royal throne-room and household sufficiently gold-pl
ated (17±20), the surplus went into a display of ornamental shields for the Palace
of the Forest of Lebanon (15±16). The Chronicler is not yet saying that this magn
ificence will last barely a generation (see 12:9±11), and he is not saying what th
e building in question was (see 1 Ki. 7:1±12); he is concerned merely to point out
that the value of the display was colossal. The range of exotic imports brought
by the Israelite-Tyrian merchant fleet (21) puts the finishing touches to this
account of the great king's wealth, wisdom and power (22±28). Whether the fifth item
is baboons (21) or `peacocks' (av), and whether `ships of Tarshish' (21, rsv) actually
went to Tarshish (Spain) or were simply long-distance traders, we do not know. C
hronicles reminds us again, picking up 1:15, that Solomon's wealth enriches his pe
ople also (27).
9:29±31 Solomon's death. The final verses of the Solomon story are taken from 1 Ki.
11:41±43, and they do three things. They go straight to the end of that chapter, o
mitting the bulk of it (the tale of Solomon's moral downfall), and thus end his re
ign on a high note. They refer to other accounts, not only as a check on accurac
y but as giving the extra authority that belongs to the writings of prophets. An
d they link Solomon yet again with his father, for David too was given this kind
of epitaph (1 Ch. 29:29).
10:1±36:23 The kings
Solomon is scarcely cold in his grave before the glorious kingdom falls apart. I
t does so along the old tribal fault-lines: an east-west line above Jerusalem le
aves to its south Judah and Benjamin, along with Simeon (long since absorbed in
Judah), and also of course those of the tribe of Levi who happened to live there
. But the split was popularly seen as David's tribe versus the rest, so the southe
rn part became known as `Judah', while the majority thought of itself as `Israel' (10:16
).
This leads to complications in the use of the name Israel in the rest of Chronic
les. At its broadest, it is used in a good sense to mean the people of God, nort
h as well as south. In a political sense it is the northern kingdom. Where that
means the people, it is not necessarily bad, for true Israelites continue to be
found there (11:13±17; 28:9±25; 30:11; 1 Ki. 19:18), and even Jeroboam, first king o
f the north, is doing God's will in rebelling against Rehoboam (10:15; 11:4). But
it is bad when it means, as it normally does, that the system and its rulers are
determined to remain independent of David's throne and Solomon's temple even when t
hey are no longer justified in doing so (13:8±12), and still more when kings like
Ahab and his family not only desert the David/Solomon ideal but introduce foreig
n gods (23:17; 1 Ki. 16:30±33).
However, the north is referred to by the Chronicler only when its history ties i
n with that of the south, for that is where David's line will continue for the nex
t 300 years and twenty reigns. His object will be to show how the ideals of Davi
d and Solomon were either followed or ignored by their successors, and how bless
ing or punishment resulted accordingly.
10:1±12:16 Rehoboam
So great was the folly of Rehoboam at the start of his reign that the Lord says
the north was right to rebel against him (10:15; 11:4). 1 Ki. 12:1±24 and 14:21±31 p
resent only his bad points. The Chronicler adds material from another source whi
ch says that after the initial disaster came a time of successful rule, then a s
econd disaster followed by repentance and restoration. Much intermarrying within
the family of David (11:18±21) could not of itself make Rehoboam a David-like rul
er, and Kings is right in implying that by and large his reign was not a success
. But the Chronicler's more even-handed account, though coming in the end to the s
ame conclusion (12:14), sets forth a pattern for the rest of the book: sin bring
s trouble; repentance leads to blessing.
10:1±19 The kingdom divided. Shechem had been a place of political and religious i
mportance since ancient times, and was a suitable central site for a king-making
assembly of `all Israel' (1, rsv). The first of three factors which bring about Reh
oboam's discomfiture (for all of which the reader is expected to know the backgrou
nd in 1 Ki. 11:26±40) is there in the person of Jeroboam son of Nebat, a name to c
onjure with (2). With him as their natural leader the tribes bring forward the s
econd matter, taxation and forced labour (4). The latter was supposed not to aff
ect trueborn Israelites (8:9), but it seems it did (18; 1 Ki. 5:13±14; 11:28).
Rehoboam consulted advisers both senior and junior, and the headstrong counsel o
f the latter carried the day. He was running counter to the biblical principle o
f respect for maturity (cf. e.g. Is. 3:4±5), though, to do him justice, since the
young men were his contemporaries (8) they must have been in their forties (12:1
3). Seeing they would gain no concessions, Jeroboam and the northern tribes revo
lted, and the third factor, the prophecy of Ahijah (1 Ki. 11:29±39), came back to
mock Rehoboam. God had said this would happen, and so it did (15). The cry of re
volt (16) is an ironic reversal of 1 Ch. 12:19. Rehoboam, not yet willing to acc
ept it, sends (of all people) his labour minister to enforce the hated system, w
ith dire results (18).
11:1±23 Rehoboam's obedience. One more try at reuniting Israel by force is forbidden
by God, and to his credit Rehoboam withdraws (1±4). This obedience must be the re
ason for the blessing that follows: a programme of fortifications (5±12), an upsur
ge of religious life (13±17), and a flourishing royal family (18±23). The fortified
towns (6±7) seem to form a line of defence not against the northern kingdom (thoug
h there was continual warfare between Rehoboam and Jeroboam, 12:15), but against
invasion from the south (see on 12:1±4). Just enough is said about the alternativ
e religion set up by Jeroboam (see 1 Ki. 12:25±33) to explain the general exodus o
f God-fearing Israelites from north to south. A calf representing the Lord (cf.
Ex. 32:4) was bad enough, but a goat representing some local demon was too much
(15). Rehoboam's family is not only large but by our standards inbred (18, 20); he
re, however, that is no doubt seen as a virtue, in view of Solomon's laxity in the
matter (1 Ki. 11:1±8), and in v 23 took many wives for his sons is more likely th
an `consulted the many gods of his wives' (jb).
The obedience and therefore the blessing lasted for all of three years (17)Ðnot en
ough to affect the final verdict, He did evil (12:14).
12:1±16 Rehoboam's later years. It is not hard to see in v 1a a pride and self-confi
dence, the opposite of humility and trust, which led directly to the sin of 1b a
nd in turn to the punishment of vs 2±4. Shishak, founder of the twenty-second dyna
sty, had reunited Egypt (ironic in view of what Rehoboam had done to Israel) and
was now extending his power north-eastward, no doubt with the collusion of Jero
boam and the rulers of Edom and Aram (1 Ki. 11:14±40). The details of the invasion
do not come from Kings (3±8); the Chronicler's source describes an army which is ve
ry large, even though sixty thousand (3) should probably read `six thousand', and Sh
ishak's own record of the campaign lists more than 150 towns captured. Jerusalem i
s not one of them, so the prophecy of v 7 was fulfilled and Shishak was bought o
ff by the plunder from temple and palace (9).
The most far-reaching event of Rehoboam's reign was the division of the kingdom (c
h. 10). Chronicles adds, first, facts about him that illustrate the principle th
at `obedience leads to blessing' (ch. 11) and now facts that illustrate the principl
es that `disobedience leads to punishment' and `repentance leads to restoration'. Ch. 12
contains all the classic terms with which Chronicles regularly teaches these th
ings, unfaithful (2), the tit-for-tat abandon of v 5 (see also v 1), humbled (6,
7, 12); and v 6b shows the meaning of true confession and repentanceÐ`The Lord is j
ust', or `right', i.e. `We are wrong.' The foundation for this teaching was laid in Solomo
n's prayer (6:24±25) and God's answer (7:14). The fact remains that for all the blessi
ng of ch. 11 and the restoration of ch. 12 (due perhaps as much to the good in J
udah [12; 11:13±17] as to the king's repentance), Rehoboam is remembered as the king
who split the kingdom and who did evil (14).
13:1±14:1 Abijah
Chronicles gives three times more space to Abijah than Kings does; Kings dismiss
es him briefly as a bad king (1 Ki. 15:1±8). Certainly the queen mother's influence
cannot have been good (15:16). He would have been quite undistinguished, except
for the incident Chronicles relates.
War between north and south was a matter not so much of who should rule the whol
e nation, as of relatively small-scale land-grabbing, in which at this time Juda
h seems to have been the more successful (4a, 19). But Abijah looked like losing
the battle described here; the point of the figures in v 3 is to show how much
he was out-numbered (see Introduction). He took the opportunity for a remarkable
speech which sets out some of the basic principles of Chronicles' theology.
First, it appeals to all Israel (4); Jeroboam, though addressed at the outset, i
s soon rudely demoted to the third person, as if he were not there (6, 8). The i
mportant thing is the allegiance of the people, and if their allegiance is to th
e Lord, they must recognize that he has delegated his rule to the family of Davi
d, by a covenant of salt (5; presumably meaning `eternal'Ðsee Nu. 18:19). In the previ
ous reign this went wrong, through rebellion on one side and folly on the other.
(Whether the scoundrels of v 7 gathered around Rehoboam and `persuaded' him, or gat
hered around Jeroboam and `opposed' Rehoboam, Abijah's point remains the same.) In the
circumstances the revolt was part of God's plan. But now things are back to norma
l: there is a true king on David's throne, true worship in Solomon's temple, and no
excuse for any substitutes (8±12).
On this occasion Judah has not only the right theology but the right attitude (1
4b, 18), so the Chronicler omits the conclusion in Kings (1 Ki. 15:3) and ends w
ith positive points indicating God's blessing (19±21).
14:2±16:14 Asa
As with Abijah, the Chronicler's account of Asa is three times as long as the one
in Kings (1 Ki. 15:9±24). It also has complications which puzzle the modern reader
. These are largely to do with dates, though they also have implications for the
ology. For convenience, the tables that follow are dated from the division of th
e kingdom.
The account as it stands seems to give these dates:
Year 20
Asa's accession (12:13; 13:2)
Year 30
Ten years of peace end (14:1)
Year ??
Zerah's invasion (14:9)
Year 35
Covenant ceremony (15:10)
Year 55
War begins (15:19)
Year 56
Baasha's attack (16:1)
Year 59
Asa's illness (16:12)
Year 61
Asa's death (16:13)
The problem with this is that according to 1 Ki. 16:6 and 8, Baasha died in Year
46. So an alternative outline assumes that the years mentioned in 15:19 and 16:
1 are years not of Asa's reign but of the divided kingdom:
Year 20
Asa's accession (12:13; 13:2)
Year 30
Ten years of peace end (14:1)
Year 35
War begins, = Zerah's invasion (14:9 = 15:19); covenant ceremony (15:10)
Year 36
Baasha's attack (16:1)
Year 59
Asa's illness (16:12)
Year 61
Asa's death (16:13)
This fits together very well, but has problems of its own: of the kind of dating
used here (years of the divided kingdom), 15:19 and 16:1 would be the only exam
ples; moreover they do plainly state that these are years not of the kingdom but
of Asa's reign. The question remains unresolved. Other related matters will be to
uched on below (see on 15:11, 19; 16:12, and `Note on chronology' under 16:1±14).
14:2±15 The heart of the king. After the note from 1 Ki. 15:11 that Asa did what w
as ¼ right (2), the Chronicler will be spelling out that righteousness in 14:3±15:15
with material taken from a different source. Matters religious (2±5) and military
(6±8) show both Asa's obedience and God's blessing, and twice the classic word rest i
s used (6, 7; see on 1 Ch. 22:9). So too is the Chronicler's favourite word seek (
4; cf. v 7), and the Lord who is sought is spoken of as Asa's personal God, Israel's
historic God, and the nation's corporate God (2, 4, 7).
The army he has mobilized is put to the test when Judah is invaded by a larger o
ne. The numbers seem immense (but see Introduction); God's people are outnumbered
and have to trust in him. The enemy has not been identifiedÐa variety of suggestio
ns include that of an Egyptian army (cf. 16:8) led by a Nubian general. The memo
rable words of v 11 show how in a supreme crisis, as at every other time, the ki
ng's heart is set on the Lord, and it is very clearly the Lord who wins the victor
y (12±14).
15:1±19 The word of the Lord. Most of this chapter (15:1±15) again comes from a sour
ce other than Kings. On the face of it, Azariah's prophecy follows Asa's victory; it
seems to lead to renewed reform, over and above that of 14:3±5, and the renewal c
eremony includes plunder (11). On the other hand, vs 1±15 could be meant as a spel
ling out of what had been involved in the general movement of 14:2±7.
Azariah's message is first a statement in the plainest terms of Chronicles' so-calle
d `retribution' teaching (2). Although it is called a prophecy (8), the verbs in the
main part of it (3±6) could be either future or past, and are usually taken as a
look back to the book of Judges, which not only fits the descriptions but majors
on the `retribution' theme: then (4) as now (2) it was a matter of seeking and bein
g found. It is noteworthy that the God who speaks through Azariah is clearly the
God of the king, of his people, and of their fathers (see 14:2±7). The resulting
covenant ceremony in Asa's fifteenth year (10) is all-embracing (notice the words
all and whole in vs 8±15), and again a matter of seeking the Lord (12, 13, 15).
The closing verses, where the Chronicler takes up Kings again (1 Ki. 15:13±15), ra
ise two questions. V 17 may seem to contradict 14:3; however, 14:2±8 is all about
Judah, whereas Israel in this verse may well mean northern territory Asa later g
ained (cf. v 8). V 19 seems to contradict 1 Ki. 15:16 and 32, but those verses r
efer without doubt to the continuous `cold war' between Asa and Baasha, which did no
t flare into open conflict until the attack of 16:1. (The word more should be om
itted from 15:19. This of course favours the second of the alternative timescale
s suggested above for Asa's reign.)
16:1±14 The voice of the world. Baasha's attack (1) is a test for Asa, and one he wi
ll fail. The northern kingdom and its own northern neighbour Aram are hostile to
each other through much of this period; a deal between Judah and Aram is politi
cally astute, Asa can pay for it (though where from?), he has a precedent for it
, and it works (2±6). The world around would say that this was the obvious thing t
o do. But it is the beginning of his failure to seek ¼ the Lord (12). From what fo
llows (7±10), note the coming of yet another prophet; the lesson that Asa's wisdom s
eemed to produce a good result, but trust in God would have produced a better; t
he repetition of that simple lesson of trust, so basic to biblical teaching, and
the appeal to past facts to confirm it; the assurance of retribution; and for t
he first time such rebelliousness that God's king actually persecutes God's prophet.
This is of a piece with the stubbornness of v 12b.
Note on chronology. If 16:1 means what it says (Asa's Year 36; timescale 1 above),
his illness (Year 39; v 12) is a relatively speedy retribution. But this does n
ot explain the problems raised by that timescale, nor what happened in Year 35 (
15:19), nor why Hanani predicted war, not illness, as Asa's punishment (16:9). If
on the other hand 16:1 means the kingdom's Year 36 (timescale 2), these questions
are answered; this timescale's problems do remain, but it may show that cause lead
s to effect less quickly and less obviously than is sometimes supposed.
17:1±21:1 Jehoshaphat
The account of Jehoshaphat's reign is in some ways very like that of his father's, b
ut it does not have the downbeat ending of prolonged rebellion, or the chronolog
ical framework (however confusing) that Asa's is given. It is also much fuller, an
d presents two striking features. The first forty verses of 1 Ki. 22 tell the st
ory of Jehoshaphat's alliance with Ahab (2 Ch. 18), and ten more verses giving gen
eral notes about his reign complete the Kings account; the Chronicles version ru
ns to twice the length, showing his importance. What is more, neither of the mai
n incidents which Chronicles takes from Kings, the long and the short (1 Ki. 22:
1±40, 48±49), shows Jehoshaphat in a good light, and the Chronicler even adds to bot
h the disapproving comments of the prophets, yet on balance he sees him as a gre
at and good king, even a second Solomon.
17:1±19 Jehoshaphat's greatness. After half a verse of introduction from 1 Ki. 15:24
, the Chronicler depicts the goodness and greatness of Jehoshaphat. The two are
typically interwoven: strength and prosperity, as always, are seen as a blessing
, which results from a faithful seeking of God (2±6); v 3 should probably read `he w
alked in the earlier ways of his father', i.e. Asa (rsv). (The third year, v 7, wa
s when Asa died, and after the joint reign of father and son Jehoshaphat began t
o rule alone; see `Note on chronology' below.) Thus the religious teaching programme
(7±9) extends to his people his own love for God and his law (4), his riches and
honour are famous among the nations (10±11) as well as within Judah (5), and army
lists (12±19) fill out the military notes of v 1±2. A similar development may be see
n in Jehoshaphat himself. He clearly fostered his own personal faith in God, and
it was a `faith that works' (see Jas. 2:22), an active, not a quietist, religion: h
e sought ¼ God ¼ and followed his commands (4), and did so in such a way that his pe
ople were blessed by his rule.
Note on chronology. Jehoshaphat's reign here (17:7; 20:31) is dated from Asa's illne
ss and the `coregency' beginning in 873/872 bc; the shorter reign implied by 2 Ki. 3
:1; 8:16 is dated from Asa's death in 870/869 bc.
18:1±19:3 The campaign against Ramoth Gilead. This follows the storyline in 1 Ki.
22, but the mentions of Jehoshaphat's greatness (18:1) and of the feast given in h
is honour (18:2) are only the first of a number of small changes which make the
southern king rather than the northern one the central figure; this account ends
with events and a prophecy relating not to Ahab (as in 1 Ki. 22:36±39) but to Jeh
oshaphat (19:1±3).
18:1a looks back over ch. 17, a very positive introduction; 18:1b looks forward
to its very unsatisfactory sequel. The marriage alliance, from which endless tro
uble would come, was between Jehoshaphat's son Jehoram and Ahab's daughter Athaliah.
The military alliance (18:3) was equally ill-advised. By the end of the story i
t will transpire that Aram is the enemy into whose hands the town of Ramoth Gile
ad has fallen (18:30), so we realize that the Chronicler sees the pattern of Asa
repeated in his son: a good beginning, a foolish sequel, and a prophet who says
in the first case, `You should not have joined Aram against Israel' (cf. 16:1±9, Hana
ni), and in the second case, `You should not have joined Israel against Aram' (cf. 1
9:1±3, Hanani's son Jehu).
But Jehoshaphat is more than merely Asa writ large. His personal character is hi
nted at by Micaiah's prophetic words in v 16. He has a shepherd's concern for all Is
rael, and believes that the way to exercise it is, literally, to go along with A
hab (18:3) and assume that the differences between them do not matter. The proph
ecy of Zedekiah says this is correct, though in the event he is proved wrong (18
:10, 34); that of Micaiah says it will not work, and reveals something much more
ominous going on behind the scenes (18:16±22); that of Jehu tells Jehoshaphat tha
t his big heart needs to be more discerning and ruthless (19:2 cf. Mt. 10:16).
There are two other points in 19:1±3 about these prophecies. Concerning Micaiah's, J
ehoshaphat did indeed go home in peace (the words here, returned safely to his p
alace, are the same as in 18:16). Concerning Jehu's, we have to ask when and how t
he Lord's wrath actually came.
19:4±11 Jehoshaphat's legal reforms. These verses seem of a piece with ch. 17. Neith
er passage comes from Kings, and both concern Jehoshaphat's achievements as a grea
t and good king like Solomon; this one concerns the exercise of wisdom in govern
ment. Why are the two separated? Perhaps this project is an attempt to avert the
wrath threatened in 19:2; perhaps it is meant as a further parallel to the acco
unt of Asa, where also a second reforming enterprise apparently followed a proph
etic message (15:8±15).
Vs 6±10 here are generally in line with the provisions of Dt. 16:18±17:13. Jehoshaph
at's personal interest in the matter recalls Samuel's, in 1 Sa. 7:15±17; and his own c
haracter as a man deeply concerned for the welfare of his people also shines thr
ough.
20:1±30 Judah invaded. This account is found in Chronicles only; there are similar
ities, but also important differences, between it and the events of 2 Ki. 3. The
invasion described here can hardly be the `wrath of the Lord' announced in 19:2, bu
t it seems to have been allowed by God as an opportunity to prove his salvation
rather than to have been sent by him as a punishment.
There is some confusion over who the invaders were and where they came from, but
there was at all events a vast army (2) approaching from the direction of the D
ead Sea. Significantly, the first thing noted about our hero (for that is what h
e is) is that Jehoshaphat was alarmed (3). The story has already shown how diffi
cult he found it to be tough; perhaps it was because he lacked that kind of stre
ngth that he is clearly not much of a hero to the writer of Kings. But his fear
leads him to `seek the Lord', and moreover to find that the entire nation rallies ro
und him to seek the Lord also (3±4, rsv)Ðno doubt the result of his diligent pastora
l care for his people as evidenced in chs. 17 and 19.
In front of the assembly he prays a prayer rooted in the facts of the past, refe
rring to Solomon (9; 6:28, 34), David (6; 1 Ch. 29:11±12), Joshua (7a) and Abraham
(7b), and applies them to the facts of the present (10±11). At the climax of the
prayer Jehoshaphat's weakness comes into its own as the indispensable way of bless
ing (12). Equally memorable is the inspired answer from the mouth of the Levite
JahazielÐanother reference back, in this case to Dt. 20:2±4: `Stand still, and see the
victory of the Lord on your behalf' (17, rsv). The events of the next morning sho
w on Jehoshaphat's part the same `faith that works' which characterized Asa in similar
circumstances (`We rest on thee, and in thy name we go', 14:11 av), and on the Lord's
part a victory bringing great glory to his own name (20±26).
20:31±21:1 The end of Jehoshaphat's reign. With 20:31 Chronicles again converges wit
h Kings (1 Ki. 22:41±50), though there are some differences. Four points in this s
ection raise queries. V 31 seems to differ from 2 Ki. 3:1 and 8:16; but see `Note
on chronology' following 17:1±19. V 33 differs from 17:6, though writer and readers
at the time saw nothing odd in this; Jehoshaphat was a remover of `high places', tho
ugh 25 years later particular examples were evading his eye. The book of the kin
gs of Israel (34) is probably not the `Kings' of our Bibles. Vs 35±37 reads differentl
y from 1 Ki. 22:48±49, but may be simply the first half of the storyÐyet another foo
lish alliance with the northern kingdom, so that the triumph of trust in 20:1±30 i
s followed by a reminder of Jehoshaphat's continuing weakness. Kings takes up the
story at the point where the ships are wrecked, and shows a king who had at last
learnt his lesson and would make no further agreements with the house of Ahab.
Enough damage had been done already, as ch. 21 will go on to show.
21:2±20 Jehoram
The Chronicles account is twice as long as that of Kings (2 Ki. 8:16±24), underlin
ing the badness of a bad king. The contrast with what has gone before is well ma
de in vs 2±4; the large and prosperous family given to good king Jehoshaphat as a
sign of God's blessing is the first casualty of his son's wicked reign (4; Jdg. 9:1±6
is a precedent, but not a justification). The throne Jehoram had inherited was `Is
raelite' in the good sense (2, 4), but became `Israelite' in the bad sense (6; see Int
roduction and introduction to 10:1±36:23). Whence this change? Crucial was his mar
riage with the daughter of Ahab, Athaliah; with it went much intercourse between
the two royal houses (note how the same royal names became confusingly fashiona
ble in both kingdoms), and in particular the adoption in the south of the pagan
religion that had already infected the north. Rather than imitate his father's goo
dness (12), Jehoram chose to exploit his weakness, for it was Jehoshaphat who ha
d unwisely fostered all these alliances.
Despite Jehoram's faithlessness, the Lord's covenant prevents his destroying David's d
escendants as they deserve (7). But there is still recompense for sin, and it is
the Lord who brings it. The letter from Elijah (11±19) is not found in Kings and
is surprising. Elijah was not a `writing prophet', nor did he prophesy in the south.
Yet the letter does address a very `northern' situation in the southern kingdom. Pl
ainly about retribution (`You have sinned, so you will suffer'), it is flanked by in
stances of it: vs 8±11 and 16±17 describe the disasters that resulted from Jehoram's o
wn sin and his leading others astray. All that he might have wantedÐpower, family,
health, respect, the very things that mark God's blessing on the obedientÐhe lost.
He received neither honour nor mourning after his death, and the Chronicler assu
mes that no-one will want any more information about him (contrast 16:11 and 20:
34).
22:1±9 Ahaziah
This time the Chronicler has greatly abridged 2 Ki. 8:25±9:29. The niv clarifies p
oints which may be misleading in other translations, by giving Ahaziah in 21:17,
and twenty-two and grand-daughter here in v 2.
This story of a second successive `bad king' highlights what was so damaging to Juda
h at this period, the influence of the north (3±4), in particular the influence of
Athaliah. Her position first as queen and then as queen mother, allied to her o
wn forceful personality, gave her enormous power. And in spite of the parallel b
etween the enterprise of v 5 and the one in which his grandfather had nearly los
t his life (ch. 18), Ahaziah like Jehoram is to be seen as a contrast to Jehosha
phat (9; cf. 21:12). Perhaps the most striking event in both reigns is the downf
all (7) of Ahaziah. Nemesis overtakes him in the form of Jehu, who according to
Kings wipes him out together with his retinue as a bloodthirsty encore to his ma
in project, the cleaning up of the north. But from the southern point of view, J
ehu's dealing with the house of Ahaziah is as significant as his dealing with the
house of Ahab: the sort of massacre for which Jehoram had been responsible in 21
:4, and which his family had suffered in 21:16±17, is now happening again. That pl
us Ahaziah's own death means that there is no son of David capable of ruling (9),
and God's eternal covenant with David (21:7) is within an ace of failing. But as J
ehoram's story shows the Lord in control throughout such events, so here in Ahazia
h's they are `ordained by God' (7 rsv). In fact for downfall we should perhaps read a `t
urn of events' brought about by God, as in 10:15 (and cf. 1 Ch. 10:14).
Vs 8±9 differ from the Kings parallel. To some extent the two can be harmonized: A
haziah's death may have happened before those of his family and entourage, as 2 Ki
. 9±10 says (v 9 here should not have the word then), and readers may be assumed t
o know that his burial took place in Jerusalem (2 Ki. 9:28).
22:10±23:31 Athaliah
This section begins with the death of Ahaziah and ends with the death of his mot
her Athaliah. But her `reign' is an anomaly. It is neither introduced nor concluded
with the usual forms of words. So far from belonging to the house of David, she
does not even belong to the kingdom of Judah. Unknown to her, while she occupies
the throne a child in the temple is already the true king (23:3, 7, 10). Her si
x years' rule is dismissed in half a sentence, while an entire chapter is given to
the day of her death.
Judah's decline through the reigns of her husband and son now reaches its lowest p
oint. The same thing is happening as in the time of Saul, two centuries earlier,
and it is a perennial danger; God's people selling out to the values of their pag
an neighbours, till only the house of David can rescue them. For the fourth time
all but one of the royal family are slaughtered (22:10±11; cf. 21:4, 16±17; 22:8),
but this wickedness also means that in God's plan the last and unlikeliest person
will turn out to be his chosen one, as with David (1 Ch. 2:15). The parallel wit
h Lk. 1 also should not be missed.
Ch. 23 is largely drawn from 2 Ki. 11, but the Chronicler has points of his own
to make. Jehoiada's coup is more far-reaching than one might have thought. He gath
ers round him influential leaders (23:1), calls an assembly from all Judah (23:2
), claims the Lord's authority for what he is doing (23:3), and presents Joash as
king already (23:11)Ðall a heightening of the Kings version. What has been abandon
ed by three rulers in succession, but preserved in secret (like Joash himself) b
y God and his faithful people, is now brought out again: a covenant is made thre
e times over (23:1, 3, 16), to reaffirm that basic relationship with the Lord. P
opular support for the coup (23:12) spells the end for Athaliah, and the foreign
ways of thought she brought with her are rejected in favour of a return to the
principles of David and of Moses before him (23:16±18). So both throne and temple
are again what they should be, and the revolution brings (to use the classic wor
ds) joy and quiet (23:18±21). But humanly speaking it has been a near thing.
24:1±27 Joash
With the accession of Joash we see once more `the kingdom of the Lord in the hand
of the sons of David' (13:8, rsv), having under the last three rulers been effecti
vely in the hand of the daughter of Ahab. Joash's is the first of three reigns all
of which begin well, though not until the third of them, that of Uzziah, do we
again see anything like greatness.
24:1±16 A good beginning. The first half of Joash's reign is summed up in the openin
g verses, for a family (3) is, as often in Chronicles, God's reward for obedience
(2). In this case it is something else besides: the royal family, four times thr
eatened with extinction, begins to be established again.
Joash's successful temple project is at once his service for God and his reward fr
om God. The background to this section is 2 Ki. 12. Leaving aside for the moment
the curious passage in vs 5b±7, the restoration work is described straightforward
ly and in some detail. Three verses call for comment: the tax (9) is that of Ex.
30:11±16 and 38:25±26; the note of joy (10) confirms that this work is of the same
kind as that on the tabernacle in Moses' day (Ex. 36:4±7) and that on the temple in
David's and Solomon's (1 Ch. 29:1±9), as well as repeating the public reaction to Joas
h's accession (23:1); the utensils (14) were made only after the building was fini
shedÐuntil then all money had been devoted to that main work (2 Ki. 12:13).
In vs 5b±7, the reason for the Levites' reluctance to collect the tax may have been
that since Joash had taken the initiative they expected him to prime the pump wi
th royal generosity, as David had done. The temple could not be looked to for fu
nds, thanks to the depredations of Athaliah and her sons (7; i.e. associates; se
e 22:10). Apparently a compromise was reached: the `collection' (5) became an `offerto
ry' (8±9). With the idea of `seeking the Lord' so central to Chronicles' theology, it is p
erhaps to Joash's credit that he expected a `seeking' spirit in Jehoiada (required, v
6).
24:17±27 A bad ending. Again Chronicles is based on 2 Ki. 12. It is also tracing a
repeated pattern in Israel's history; Athaliah, then the Joash of 24:1±16, then the
Joash of 24:17±27, lead Israel through the same ups and downs as Saul, then David
and Solomon, then Rehoboam.
The loss of Jehoiada's influence marks the change in Joash (17, cf. v 2). The offi
cials of Judah, presumably the old Athaliah party (7), re-emerge and lead king a
nd people astray (17±18). Jehoiada's son is inspired to bring as plain a message as
any prophet's, in a cluster of words characteristic of the Chronicler. The most ob
vious is abandoned/forsaken/left (one word in the original): v 18 leads to v 20,
then to v 24, then to v 25, all with `tit-for-tat' connections. Similarly, Joash ha
ving `conspired' against Zechariah (21, rsv) and killed him (22) himself falls victi
m to a conspiracy and is killed (25). Even the `seeking' which Joash had enjoined on
Zechariah's father (see on 6) comes home to roost: `seek you out' is the phrase trans
lated call you to account in v 22. But the Lord's vengeance is not inevitable; ret
ribution is more complex than that; it is to remind Israel of the possibility of
repentance that the prophets are sent (19).
25:1±28 Amaziah
Like his father's, Amaziah's is a `good start/bad end' story. It has a helpful variation
: while Joash needed a strong guide, Amaziah had God's plain words through a proph
et. It is found in 2 Ki. 14, but Chronicles' version (15±16) is much fuller.
25:1±13 A good beginning. Not whole-heartedly could mean Amaziah's doing right at fi
rst and wrong later; but more probably, as hinted in vs 6 and 9, his trust in Go
d was not very secure even from the outset. He was certainly careful to keep wit
hin the law in v 4 (Dt. 24:16), but that would have ironic echoes (see below on
v 13).
2 Ki. 14:7 is a springboard for the detailed account here of Amaziah's war against
Edom. Reckoning that his army is not large enough (cf. 14:8 mg.; 17:14±18), he hi
res mercenaries from the north, and is rebuked for doing so by the first of this
chapter's two prophets. Abijah (13:8±12) and Asa (14:11) could have told him why. H
is complaint that he would be out of pocket if he did the right thing is perhaps
a sign of his half-hearted faith, but at any rate he did it. The result is inst
ructive. Generally the Chronicler's examples of cause and effect are simple and sw
ift, and so here obedience results in victory (11±12). But often life is not so si
mple, and Amaziah's obedience also leads to the mercenaries, balked of the loot fr
om Edom which would have been their main incentive for signing on, taking it out
on Judah instead (10, 13). However, such apparently undeserved trouble (see on
v 4), a Job-like exception to the simple answer Amaziah was no doubt expecting (
7±9), may have made him more cynical about listening to the next prophet.
25:14±28 A bad ending. The rebuke of the second prophet is for the importing of fo
reign gods (15). It seems to blame Amaziah for being not only sinful but unreaso
nable (why adopt gods who have just let their own nation down?), but perhaps his
victory showed that they had changed sides. He turns from unwelcome to congenia
l advice (16±17; cf. Rehoboam, 10:8, and Ahab, 18:7), and embarks on a second war,
this time against Israel. This has a combination of causes: Amaziah's desire to a
venge the damage done by the dismissed Israelite mercenaries (13), his over-conf
idence after his victory in the previous war (19; this is how Jehoash of Israel
sees it), and punishment from God for his `seeking' of the gods of Edom (20; cf. vs
15±16). In consequence Amaziah suffers invasion, defeat, capture, and destruction
and pillage in Jerusalem (21±24).
The curious and unique note in v 25 (dates in the south related to those in the
north) reflects a unique situation. Amaziah was held hostage in Samaria for the
next ten years, and only then, after the death of Jehoash, did he return to Jeru
salem for the remaining fifteen years of his reign. Meanwhile the people of Juda
h, faced with the unprecedented problem of both having and not having a king, ma
de his son Uzziah regent; see on 26:1. Those who conspired to murder him were re
peating the doom of his father Joash (24:25), and also showing how retribution i
s not always immediateÐin this case the conspiracy seems to have been brewing for
at least twenty-five years (27).
26:1±23 Uzziah
Uzziah's name in Kings is Azariah, which means `Lord/help'; the name here, `Lord/strengt
h', is especially apt for the Chronicler's version of the story, which, though it ha
s much about help, has even more about strength (cf. v 8). Regent at sixteen whe
n his father was taken captive, co-regent after he returned ten years later, and
sole king at last when Amaziah was killed fifteen years after that, he then beg
an the remaining twenty-seven years of his long reign with the capture and resto
ration of Elath (1±2). This event, and his being stricken with leprosy towards the
end of his life (21), signs of God's approval and disapproval respectively, are p
ractically all that Kings has to say about Uzziah (2 Ki. 14:21±22; 15:1±7). This poi
nts to his being another `good start/bad end' reign, like the previous two, and a fu
rther echo of Joash's is the influence of Zechariah (like that of Jehoiada, cf. v
5 with 24:2) in the good first half. Yet Uzziah was a greater king than either J
oash or Amaziah. History tells us that he and his northern contemporary Jeroboam
II, profiting from a decline in the fortunes of the super-power Assyria, gave t
o both kingdoms real prosperity and power. Scripture tells us that the vision of
the Lord seated on the throne, given to Isaiah `in the year that king Uzziah died'
(Is. 6:1), marked the end of his fifty-two-year reign as the end of a significan
t era.
26:1±15 A good beginning. The building of Elath was a sign both of God's blessing an
d of the qualities in Uzziah which brought blessing. It meant that both the terr
itory and the trade of the kingdom now reached further than they had done since
the time of Solomon (8:17±18). It marked Uzziah as a man of vision.
Chronicles describes the character underlying such achievements: the comparison
with Amaziah (4) is not a snide comment on the latter, but a focus on the right
that he did do; his `seeking' of God (5) is the Chronicler's word for his personal dev
otion; and the instruction of Zechariah in the same verse shows him humble enoug
h to accept good counsel. The result is many blessings that come to his people t
hrough this far-sighted man. They are not only military, but wide interests in a
gricultureÐthe basis, of course, of the nation's economic life (6±15). Behind it all a
re the three key words, twice affirmed (7±8, 15): helped, fame, powerful (or full
of strength).
26:16±23 A bad ending. The power of Uzziah (`Strong-in-the-Lord') led to his downfall
(16). Kings tells of his leprosy; Chronicles adds the reason for it. The burning
of incense in the temple (16) was the priests' prerogative (Ex. 30:1±10). It was pr
ecisely for flouting this rule that the first king of the northern kingdom had b
een condemned (1 Ki. 12:28±13:5). To attempt the rite was bad enough (18); to be a
ngry at being rebuked for it was what brought the punishment (19).
Retribution could scarcely have been more immediate. But there are features whic
h set this one apart from previous examples. Far from `forsaking' the Lord, like so
many before him, Uzziah had come to the heart of Israel's religion, and it was by
his action there, of all places, that he showed himself unfaithful (18). Nor cou
ld he blame youth and immaturity; he was a man of great experience. His afflicti
on was almost certainly not leprosy in the modern sense, but one of a range of s
kin conditions any of which would debar a man from public life in Israel. His pu
nishment was exclusion from both temple and pal
Carson, D. A. (1994). New Bible commentary : 21st century edition. Rev. ed. of:
The new Bible commentary. 3rd ed. / edited by D. Guthrie, J.A. Motyer. 1970. (4
th ed.) (2 Ki 25:27-2 Ch 36:22). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA:
Inter-Varsity Press..