A prayer to use before reading from the Book of Common Worship:
Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
You will find and introduction and outline to Chronicles here.
IV. 2 Chronicles 29:1-36:23 The Reunited Kingdom
A. 29:1-32:23 Hezekiah Attains Royal Potential
B. 33:1-35:27 Dross Into Gold: Once again ( as in chapters 21-23 and 24-26) we have a grouping of three kings- Manasseh, a bad king who repents; Amon who is like the “bad” Manasseh; and Josiah who is like the “good” Manasseh. Look for both positive and negative parallels between Manasseh and Amon and Josiah. There are parallels between these stories and Ezekiel 18.
33:1-20 Manasseh: The story of Manasseh in Chronicles is somewhat different than it is in 2 Kings. In Kings Manasseh is one of the worst kings and is responsible for the Babylonian exile. Remember that the Chronicler is concerned with the spiritual significance of events. Notice how the story of Manasseh is structured. There is a prologue (v1) and epilogue (v18-20) and between them is the story of sin(v 2-9) and restoration (v14-17). Verses 10-13 are the center of the story- Manasseh’s repentance.
33:21-35:27: Amon, and Josiah: 33:21-25 Amon does evil, just like his father had done. However unlike his father, Amon does not repent and is assassinated. See 2 Kings 21: 19-24 for Amon’s story in Kings.
34:1-36:1 Josiah: While 2 Kings focuses on Torah and Josiah’s reforming response to it; Chronicles tells the story of Joshiah’s reformation somewhat differently. Josiah does right from a young age. He becomes king at age 8. In the eighth year of his reign “he began to seek the God of his father David.” In the 12 year he destroyed the high places, poles, and idols. In the 18th year of his reign he began to restore the Temple. In 2 Kings, all the reforms happen in one year. Notice that in Chronicles, at least some of the northern tribes participate in the reforms and restoration. Once again the Chroniclers wants to highlight unity between the Northern and Southern kingdoms. 35:1-19 tell us about Josiah’s Passover. (2 Kings tells this story in three verses. Why do you think Chronicles gives such a detailed account?) Notice the prominent role of the Levites and the remembrance of David and Solomon. Josiah’s death is the result of him not obeying God’s word to him. ( God’s word comes through a foreign king, Pharaoh Neco.) Never the less, the final assessment of Josiah (v 24b-27) is positive.
C. 36:1-23 Recurring Exile and the Prospect of Restoration: The last kings. Judah was in the midst of a power struggle between Egypt and the Assyrians against the Babylonians. “Egypt had killed Josiah, deposed Jehoahaz, and installed Jehoiakim as king all within a four-month period in 609 B.B. Four years later, however, power shifted to Babylon in Nebuchadnezzar’s defeat of Egypt at Carchemish. Following the death of his father, Jehoiakim, in 589 BC, Jehoiachin was deposed by the Babylonians, who then placed Zedekiah on the throne of Judah.” (Throntveit, 336). Throughout Chronicles we have read history through the lens of sin, exile and restoration. Remember that Chronicles was written for people after the Babylonian Exile. Why do you think it was important to present history this way? Chronicles tells the story of the final kings in a much shorter version than Kings. Notice that Nebuchadnezzar takes articles from the Temple twice ( during Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin’s reigns). Then finally during the time of Zedekiah, Nebuchadnezzar takes everything from the Temple and destroys the Temple. The people are taken into exile. Notice the build up to the destruction of the Temple. There is increasing unfaithfulness and yet (v15) God continues to try to avoid tragedy. Is the Exile more the result of sin or the result of failure to repent? Notice that the land “enjoys” or makes up for missed sabbaths. The land rests or keeps sabbath during the Exile. Why do you think this is? What is the point the Chronicler is making?
The book of Chronicles does not end with destruction and exile. 36:22-26 offer us a word of hope. God used Nebuchadnezzar earlier, and now uses another foreign king, Cyrus of Persia to return the people to the land and to rebuild the Temple.
Read More About It:
Here are several good sources to aid your reading of 1 and 2 Chronicles
Allen, Leslie C. “The First and Second Books of Chronicles: ” in The New Interpreter’s Bible Vol 3, Keck, Leander E. ed. (Nashville: Abingdon Press) 1999.
Anderson, Bernhard W., Katheryn Pfister Darr, Understanding the Old Testament Abridged fourth Edition. (Upper Saddle River,New Jersey: Prentice Hall) 1998.
Knoppers, Gary N.”1 Chronicles” in The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books, Fully Revised 4 th Edition, Michael Cougan, ed. (New York:Oxford University Press) 2010.
Stinespring, William F. and Burke O. Long “1 Chronicles” and “2 Chronicles” in The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books Metzger, Bruce M., Roland E. Murphy, eds.(New York: Oxford University Press) 1994.
Throntveit, Mark A. “I Chronicles” and “2 Chronicles” in HarperCollins Bible Commentary Mays, James L. ed.(San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco) 2000.