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A Spiritual Assessment
of the Kings of Judah & Israel
Picking up where 1 Chronicles left off with David’s death and Solomon’s rule, this book follows the reigns of Judah and Israel’s kingdoms from the height of their power to their demise, ending with the proclamation from the Cyrus King of Persia for the Jews to return and build a temple. For this reason, tradition names Ezra the scribe as its most likely author—probably compiling the historical record sometime around 500 BC. One would definitely acknowledge a priestly editor, considering the constant spiritual commentary throughout the book. 1 & 2 Chronicles were originally a single unit, but were broken up into two books when the Greek translation, the Septuagint, was made.
2 Chronicles Chapter 1
This second installment of Israel’s history begins with the statement: “Now Solomon the son of David was strengthened in his kingdom, and the LORD his God was with him and exalted him exceedingly” (2 Chr. 1:1). He gathered all the leading men of Israel and went with them to the tabernacle in Gibeon to worship YHWH there (vv. 2-3). On the bronze altar made by Bezalel in the wilderness, Solomon and his subjects made a thousand burnt offerings (5-6). That’s a lot of cattle, sheep and goats!
Apparently, they all camped out somewhere near the tabernacle, for that night the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream and asked what He should give him (7). Solomon answered that YHWH had partially fulfilled His promise to King David by placing his son on the throne (8). However, in order for the Lord to be able to fulfill the rest of His promise to maintain his dynasty, Solomon knew he was going to need help, “for you have made me king over a people who are as numerous as the dust of the earth” (9). Therefore, he prayed, “Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (2 Chr. 1:10, NIV).
This answer pleased YHWH immensely. Like a proud papa, He replied, “Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked riches or wealth or honor or the life of your enemies, nor have you asked long life—but have asked wisdom and knowledge for yourself, that you may judge My people over whom I have made you king—” God said He would give Solomon what he had asked, plus what he had not (11). Not only that, but he would make Solomon greater than his contemporaries or all who had been before him or would follow after him of all of these things—wisdom, riches, wealth and honor (12)! So Solomon returned to Jerusalem from the tent of meeting in Gibeon and began to experience all God had promised (13).
Solomon gathered 1,400 chariots and 12,000 charioteers, which were stationed in Jerusalem and at strategic locations in his kingdom (14). He had agents go to Egypt and Cilicia to procure horses and chariots for him, but also to sell to other kings in his dominion (16-17). Verse 15 says, “The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones, and he made cedars as abundant as the sycamores which are in the lowland.”
According to the Law found in Deuteronomy 17:14-20, both of these activities were in violation of YHWH’s instructions for the kings of Israel. God strictly prohibited the amassment of horses and chariots [especially from Egypt] and precious metals. Had Solomon obeyed the rule about daily reading God’s word, he would have known better.
2 Chronicles Chapter 2
“[D]etermined to build a temple for the name of the LORD, and a royal house for himself,” Solomon conscripted 70,000 men to bear burdens, 80,000 to quarry stone, and 3,600 [1 Kings 5:16 says 3,300] to oversee them (2 Chr. 2:1-2). Then he sent a message to Huram [1 Kings calls him Hiram], king of Tyre, with the following request: “As you have dealt with David my father, and sent him cedars to build himself a house to dwell in, so deal with me” (2 Chr. 2:3; c.f.—1 Chr. 14:2).
Solomon explained that he was preparing to build a magnificent temple for YHWH the God of Israel where all the required sacrifices and offerings could be made (4-5). Since God was greater than any other deity—to the extent that even heaven could not contain him—this temple was to be “great and wonderful” (5-6 & 9). He requested a skilled worker in all kinds of metals, fabrics and gemstones to work with Israel’s craftsmen to make the furnishings for the temple (7). He also asked for cedar, cypress and algum wood from Lebanon to be cut by the skilled loggers from Huram’s country with the assistance of Solomon’s men, so there would be enough timber to build the temple (8-9). As payment, Solomon offered “100,000 bushels of crushed wheat, 100,000 bushels of barley, 110,000 gallons of wine, and 110,000 gallons of olive oil” (10).
Huram was thrilled with the arrangement and wrote back:
Because the LORD loves His people, He has made you king over them. …Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, who made heaven and earth, for He has given King David a wise son, endowed with prudence and understanding, who will build a temple for the LORD and a royal house for himself! (11-12).
In addition, Huram informed Solomon he was sending a master craftsman, also named Huram, whose mother was a Danite and whose father was a man of Tyre [1 Kings 7:14 calls him Hiram and says he was “the son of a widow from the tribe of Naphtali.”] (2 Chr. 2:13-14). In exchange for the agricultural products promised, Huram would have his men cut wood in Lebanon and float it on rafts by sea to Joppa, and then Solomon’s men could haul it away from there (vv. 15-16).
The remaining verses of this chapter tell us that Solomon’s labor force consisted of resident aliens in the land of Israel, as recorded in David’s census. Of the 153,600 men, 70,000 carried burdens, 80,000 quarried stone and 3,600 supervised (17-18).
2 Chronicles Chapter 3
On the second day of the second month in the fourth year of his reign, Solomon began to build the temple on Mount Moriah at the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite, where YHWH had appeared to his father David (2 Chr. 3:1-3). Significantly, this was not only where the Angel of YHWH instructed David to build an altar to stop the plague that was caused by his census in Israel (see 1 Chr. 21), but it was also where Abraham was instructed to offer his son, Isaac (Genesis 22:2).
The foundation of the main worship center was 30 x 90 feet, with a foyer across the front of the building (3). Some ancient manuscripts of 2 Chronicles 3:4 say the height of the building was 120 cubits, or 180 feet—which would make it about 18 stories tall! My guess is some scribe made a mistake, writing 120 cubits when it should have been thirty, as in 1 Kings 6:2. This would’ve made the structure about 45 feet tall.
The largest room was paneled in cypress, carved with palm trees, cherubim and chain work, and overlaid with gold, as were the doors, beams, and everything else inside the temple (2 Chr. 3:5 & 7). Verse 6 says that precious stones also decorated the house. The Most Holy Place was 30 feet square and overlaid with about 23 tons of pure gold (8). The golden nails alone weighed some 20 ounces apiece (9)!
Solomon had two 15-foot angels carved and overlaid with gold (10). With a total wing-span of 30 feet, the two angels’ wings reached from one side of the Most Holy Place to the other. Each of their wings stretched 7½ feet, so they touched the walls and met in the center of the room (11-12). The angels stood on their feet at the rear of the temple, facing toward the larger room (13). The author of this passage also mentions a linen veil of blue, purple and crimson with cherubim woven into it (14).
Again the scribe who recorded this passage got his wires crossed regarding the dimensions of the pillars outside the temple. 1 Kings 7:15, 2 Kings 25:17 and Jeremiah 52:21 all tell us the bronze pillars at the front of the temple were 18 cubits high—or 27 feet. Yet 2 Chronicles 3:15 gives a whopping 35 cubits, which would be over 52 feet tall! At the top were ornamental capitals 7½ feet tall, adorned with pomegranates, wreaths and chains (15-16). The one on the right was named Jachin, which means “He established,” while the one on the left was named after Solomon’s great-great-grandfather, Boaz, meaning “strength” (17).
2 Chronicles Chapter 4
A bronze altar was next—30 feet square and 15 feet high (2 Chr. 4:1). Then there was a huge bronze water tank 15 feet across and 7½ feet tall, with a circumference of 45 feet, decorated in two rows of oxen (2-3). This rested on a base made of twelve bronze oxen facing outward, three abreast in each of the four cardinal directions (4). The walls of the tank were about three inches thick, flared at the top like a cup, and shaped like a lily blossom. It could hold about 16,500 gallons of water [1 Kings 7:26 tells us it held 11,000 gallons] (2 Chr. 4:5). This was placed on the right side of the temple, toward the southeast (v. 10). With this larger vessel used for the priests to bathe themselves, ten smaller bronze basins were set in front of the temple—five on each side—for the priests to wash the animals for the burnt offerings (6).
Inside the temple were ten golden lamp stands—five on each side of the larger room—with ten golden tables in the same arrangement, and 100 gold bowls (7-8). Outside, in the courtyard for the priests, were two doors overlaid with bronze (9). Huram the craftsman also made the other pots, shovels and bowls to be used outside of bronze (11). Everything he worked on was cast in clay molds along the plains of the Jordan River, using so much bronze that no one was able to keep track of the amount (11-18).
Everything inside the temple was made of or covered with gold (19-22). Everything outside which Huram made was bronze.
2 Chronicles Chapter 5
When everything was finished, Solomon brought it all in and had it set in place. Then he filled the treasuries of the temple with all the other articles of gold and silver his father and the other leaders had dedicated (2 Chr. 5:1).
Solomon called all the elders, tribal leaders and family heads together in the seventh month of that year, to help bring the ark from the City of David to the temple (vv. 2-3). Then the priests and Levites took down the tabernacle of meeting with all its furnishings, as well as the Ark of the Covenant (4-5). Meanwhile Solomon and the rest of Israel were busy sacrificing more sheep and oxen than anyone could count (6).
When the priests set the ark under the giant cherubim in the Most Holy Place, the poles were so long, they could be seen extending into the Holy Place in front of the inner sanctuary, but not outside the building (7-9). By that time, the only thing left in the ark was the two stone tablets with the Ten Commandments inscribed on them (10).
While the priests set everything in order, the Levites, led by Asaph, Heman and Jeduthan, led the choir and a band of cymbal-players, harpists, trumpeters and other musicians in praise and thanksgiving to God (11-13). Together they sang, “For He is good, for His mercy endures forever.”
When the religious leaders exited the temple, the building was so filled with the cloud of God’s glory that the priests could not go in to minister there (11 & 13-14)! Significantly, this was during the Feast of Tabernacles, which commemorates how YHWH “tabernacled,” or dwelt, with His people during their wanderings in the wilderness. Now He was coming to dwell among them in the temple Solomon had built for the Lord.
2 Chronicles Chapter 6
Solomon declared: “The LORD said He would dwell in the dark cloud. I have surely built You an exalted house, and a place for You to dwell in forever” (2 Chr. 6:1-2). Then he turned to the congregation and said, “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, who has fulfilled with His hands what He spoke with His mouth to my father David” (vv. 3-4). He related the story about how King David had wanted to build a permanent home for the Lord, but God designated his son instead (5-9). Now God had made all His promises to David come true, by putting Solomon on the throne and allowing him to construct the building they were standing in front of (10-11).
On a 7½ x 7½ foot bronze platform that stood 4½ feet off the courtyard in front of the temple, Solomon turned around and stood before the altar with hands uplifted in prayer: “LORD God of Israel, there is no God in heaven or on earth like You, who keep Your covenant and mercy with Your servants who walk before You with all their hearts” (12-14). He again acknowledged how the Lord had fulfilled much of what He had promised to David, but asked the Lord to confirm the part about maintaining David’s dynasty, so long as his successors walked in God’s ways (15-17).
In verse 18 he marveled: “But will God indeed dwell with men on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!” Nevertheless, he asked God to keep watch over that place and pay attention whenever anyone prayed toward the temple which bore His name (19-21). Then Solomon listed several scenarios as examples of when he hoped God would hear and respond:
- When one person wrongs another, may God punish the guilty and vindicate the innocent (22-23).
- When the Israelites sin and suffer defeat by their enemies, may God grant His forgiveness to those who repent, and may He bring the captives back home (24-25).
- When God sends a drought and the people confess their sin, may the Lord to forgive them and send rain (26-27).
- If famine, disease, mildew, insects or other invaders attack their crops or cities, may God intervene when the people pray, so they learn to fear and trust Him (28-31).
- Whenever foreigners come and make a request, may God to grant it, so they, too, will know YHWH is God (32-33).
- In the midst of battle, when the soldiers cry out for help, may God take up their cause and fight for them (34-35).
Whatever the circumstances, Solomon asked the Lord to be merciful and forgive His people (36-40).
Then he concluded:
“Arise, O LORD God, to Your resting place,
You and the ark of Your strength.
Let Your priests, O LORD God, be clothed with salvation,
And let Your saints rejoice in goodness.
O LORD God, do not turn away the face of Your Anointed;
Remember the mercies of Your servant David” (41-42).
2 Chronicles Chapter 7
No sooner had these words come out of Solomon’s mouth than fire came from God out of heaven to consume the burnt offerings and sacrifices (2 Chr. 7:1). Everyone present fell face-down in awe, and the priests were still unable to approach the interior of the temple, which was lit up with God’s glory (vv. 2-3). Together they echoed the words of the song the Levites had been singing: “For He is good, for His mercy endures forever.” No doubt they were all hoping the Lord would be merciful and not roast them on the spot, as He had the offerings on the altar!
With that, the king and his subjects slaughtered 22,000 bulls and 120,000 sheep as peace offerings to dedicate the temple (4-5). The worship band continued to sing their songs, accompanied with the instruments King David had given them (6). There were too many sacrificial portions to burn on the new altar alone, so Solomon consecrated the pavement in front of the temple for that purpose (7). This went on for fourteen days—seven of which were required to dedicate the altar, and another seven to observe the Feast of Tabernacles (8-9). On the 23rd day of the 7th month, the people were dismissed, and everyone went home thrilled with the king and what God had accomplished through him (10).
After all this, the Lord appeared to Solomon again in a dream, and informed the king that He had heard his prayer and had chosen the temple as “a house of sacrifice” for Himself (12). He promised that anytime He might send disaster upon the nation, “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (13-14). The Lord also promised to keep His eyes and ears open to any prayers offered in that place, intending to sanctify and occupy it perpetually (15-16).
Furthermore, as long as Solomon walked in integrity and obedience to the Lord, as his father David had, God was committed to fulfill His promise to maintain a dynasty in Israel through Solomon (17-18). If, however, the king turned from YHWH to serve false gods, He threatened to evict Israel from the land and leave the temple desolate (19-22). It’s too bad Solomon did not take this warning more seriously!
2 Chronicles Chapter 8
Twenty years after Solomon started his construction projects, 1 Kings 9:10-11 says he presented Hiram with twenty cities in the land of Galilee as a thank you gift for all his help building the temple and the palace complex. However, this parallel passage in 2 Chronicles 8:1-2 indicates that at that same time Solomon received some cities from Huram, which he fortified and filled with Hebrew settlers. Whether Ezra got his facts mixed up, or there was actually some sort of exchange of property between the two kings, I cannot tell.
Verse 3 tells us that Solomon went and seized a city called Hamath Zobah. Zobah was a kingdom north of Israel in the vicinity of the Euphrates River with which both of Solomon’s predecessors had had a contentious history (c.f.—1 Sam. 14:47, 2 Sam. 8:3-8 & 1 Chron. 18:3-8). It is not likely that Hamath Zobah was the same as Hamath, since this was the principle city of an ally of Israel, King Toi/Tou (See 2 Sam. 8:9-10 & 1 Chron. 18:9-10). The word Hamath in Hebrew means “fortress,” so my guess is this was not used as a proper name but a description—the fortress of Zobah, or its chief city.
Verse 4 says Solomon built Tadmor [probably the same as Tamar in 1 Kings 9:18] and all the storage cities in Hamath. 2 Chronicles 8:5-6 mentions Upper and Lower Beth Horon, as well as Baalath and other storage and chariot cities throughout Israel, Lebanon and the rest of his domain.
He pressed into service all the surviving Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites who had not been exterminated as God had commanded Israel (7-8). He didn’t enslave his own people, but commissioned them as military officers of various kinds (9). He also had 250 Israeli government officials (10).
Solomon made the prescribed sacrifices and offerings at the temple for each day, Sabbath, month and the three annual feasts (12-13). He organized the priests and Levites according to the instructions his father had left for them, and they were careful to follow these instructions (14-15).
After the temple and royal residences were built, “Solomon went to Ezion Geber and Elath on the seacoast in the land of Edom” (17). There at the Red Sea, Huram provided ships which were manned by sailors from both Tyre and Israel to import gold [450 talents, or almost 17 tons] from Ophir (18).
2 Chronicles Chapter 9
From her kingdom somewhere in the Middle East or Africa, the Queen of Sheba heard about Solomon’s wealth and wisdom and decided to come see for herself whether it was all true (2 Chron. 9:1). She arrived with a huge retinue of camels laden with spices, gold and precious gems. When she plied the king with questions, he answered every one without hesitation to her astonishment and satisfaction (vv. 1-2). Hearing his wisdom, seeing the magnificent buildings he’d constructed, the food at his table, the organization and clothing of his staff and the way Solomon went to worship, the woman was speechless (3-4).
The Queen of Sheba admitted to Solomon that she had not believed the reports about him until she saw it all with her own eyes and realized that—not only was everything true, but his greatness surpassed what she had been told (5-6). She exclaimed how privileged his servants were to be constantly exposed to such wisdom (7). And she glorified God for putting Solomon on the throne and giving Israel such a just and righteous king (8).
The queen presented Solomon with 120 talents [9,000 lbs.] of gold, jewels, and more spices than anyone had ever seen (9). Solomon, in turn, gave her whatever she desired from his treasuries—way more than she had brought for him (12). Yet, with the fleet returning with gold, timber and precious stones from Ophir, the king’s coffers were not in the least diminished by his generosity (10). He used the imported almug wood to build walkways [1 Kings 10:12 says steps] for the temple and his palace, along with harps and other stringed instruments to be used in worship (11). No comparable shipment of this rare wood was received in Israel again.
Annually, the King of Israel received 666 talents [about 25 tons] of gold—not including what was collected from taxes, tribute, levies, etc., from merchants and rulers under Solomon’s authority (13-14)! From this, the king had fashioned 200 large shields [1 Kings 10:16 says 300] and 300 smaller shields, which were made of beaten gold and plated with even more gold. These magnificent pieces were displayed in the House of the Forest of Lebanon (15-16).
To further impress his guests, Solomon had a beautiful throne made of ivory and gold carved with lions, with six steps flanked by a dozen lions leading up to it (17-19). There was nothing like this royal seat found in any other kingdom on the earth! All of Solomon’s dishes were made of gold, since silver was too common to be considered valuable in those days (20). In addition to their cargoes of gold, Solomon and Huram’s ships brought silver, ivory, apes and monkeys from their trade in Africa once every three years (21).
Since “King Solomon surpassed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom,” kings traveled from all the nations to hear the profound things God had put into his heart (22-23). Apparently, Solomon (or his staff) began to charge a fee for an audience with the king, so each dignitary brought with him a gift of silver, gold, clothing, armor, spices, horses or mules—thus further enriching his treasuries (24).
Again we read of Solomon’s 1,400 chariots and 12,000 charioteers strategically located throughout his kingdom, which stretched from the Euphrates to the border of Egypt (25-26). As stated in 1 Kings 10:27 & 2 Chronicles 1:9, we read that silver and cedar were as common in Jerusalem as stones and ordinary trees (2 Chron. 9:27). And horses were imported from Egypt and other lands (v. 28). All of this was in violation of Deuteronomy 17:14-20.
Ezra omitted the details about Solomon’s wives and the idolatry into which they led the king, as well as the consequences God prescribed for his apostasy (See 1 Kings 11:1-40). He concluded this biography of Israel’s third monarch, saying more complete records were recorded in books by Nathan, Ahijah and Iddo, all prophets who wrote during Solomon’s time (2 Chron. 9:29). In all, Solomon reigned over Israel for 40 years (v. 30). When he died, he was buried in the City of David, and then his son Rehoboam assumed the throne (31).
2 Chronicles Chapter 10
Rehoboam went to Shechem, where he expected the Israelites to confirm him as king (2 Chron. 10:1). The people also summoned Jeroboam from Egypt to act as their spokesperson (vv. 2-3). When everyone was present, the people addressed Rehoboam, explaining that for them to submit to him, he had to assure them he would not be so harsh as his father had been (4). Rehoboam told them to meet back at the same place three days later, and he would give his answer (5).
The king’s son first consulted the old men who used to advise his father (6). They wisely told him to lighten up on the people, so the Israelites would serve him forever (7). The idea of sweet-talking his subjects and doing what pleased them did not sit well with Rehoboam, so the young man consulted his peers, instead (8-9).
The young men who had grown up with him advised Rehoboam to tell the people, “My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist. My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions’” (2 Chron. 10:10-11, NIV). Unfortunately, Rehoboam took the advice of the brash young men and talked tough to the Israelites (12-14).
Because he refused to listen to his subjects, the majority of the people rejected his leadership, saying,
“What share have we in David?
We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse.
Every man to your tents, O Israel!
Now, see to your own house, O David!” (v. 16).
All of this happened to fulfill YHWH’s prophecy through Ahijah to Jeroboam (15). When Rehoboam sent Hadoram [1 Kings 12:18 calls him Adoram], his chief tax collector to the northern tribes, they stoned the poor fellow to death, so Rehoboam fled in his chariot to the safety of Jerusalem (18). “So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day” (19).
2 Chronicles Chapter 11
When Rehoboam raised an army of 180,000 men of Judah and Benjamin to force the other tribes to submit to his authority, the Lord sent the prophet Shemaiah to tell them not to fight their relatives, since the whole thing was His doing (2 Chron. 11:1-4). Surprisingly, the king and his men obeyed and stayed home.
Threatened by his enemy to the north, Rehoboam concentrated on beefing up his defenses. He fortified the cities of Bethlehem, Etam, Tekoa, Beth Zur, Sochoh, Adullam, Gath, Mareshah, Ziph, Adoraim, Lachish, Azekah, Zorah, Aijalon, and Hebron, and then stationed soldiers, weapons and supplies at each location (vv. 5-12).
When King Jeroboam set up a new religion in the northern territory, the Levites migrated south to Judah and Benjamin, abandoning their ancestral homes, since “Jeroboam and his sons had rejected them from serving as priests to the LORD” (13-14). Ezra minced no words describing Jeroboam’s religious system, saying, “he appointed for himself priests for the high places, for the demons, and the calf idols which he had made” (15). Soon, “Those from every tribe of Israel who set their hearts on seeking the LORD…followed the Levites to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices to the LORD, the God of their fathers,” strengthening the kingdom of Rehoboam during the three years he followed the Lord (2 Chron. 11:16-17, NIV).
Rehoboam married a cousin—the daughter of an uncle and a second cousin—who bore him three kids (vv. 18-19). He also married another cousin—the granddaughter of his late uncle Absalom, who had four kids (20). Of his eight wives and 60 concubines, Rehoboam loved Maacah, the grand-daughter of Absalom the best (21). These women gave him a total of 28 sons and 60 daughters!
Of his children, Rehoboam groomed Abijah, the oldest son of Maacah, for the throne (22). The rest, he wisely made rulers over the fortified cities he had built and gave them many wives to keep them happy (23).
2 Chronicles Chapter 12
After Rehoboam was well established over his kingdom, he and the rest of Judah lost sight of YHWH and His law and started doing their own things (2 Chron. 12:1). So in Rehoboam’s fifth year as king, Judah was invaded by Shishak from Egypt, who came with a massive army of 1,200 chariots, 60,000 horsemen, and more soldiers than could be counted—including Libyans, Sukkites and Ethiopians (vv. 2-3). Pharaoh captured all the walled cities and headed for Jerusalem (4).
The prophet Shemaiah told Rehoboam and the leaders of Judah assembled in Jerusalem that God was abandoning them to Shishak, because they had abandoned Him (5). The leaders humbled themselves and agreed the Lord’s edict was fair, so YHWH changed His mind about destroying them completely (6-7). He did, however, bring them under subjection to the king of Egypt, so they would learn to do things God’s way, instead of the world’s way (8).
Shishak carried away all the treasures of Jerusalem—including the gold of the temple, the palace, and even the golden shields in the House of the Forest of Lebanon (9). Rehoboam replaced the shields with bronze replicas, which were stored in the guardhouse and only brought out when the king went to worship at the temple (10-11). Things improved in Judah after Rehoboam and company humbled themselves before God (12).
Rehoboam assumed the throne of Judah at age 41 and ruled for 17 years (13). Not surprisingly, Solomon’s successor was the son of a pagan woman, Naamah an Ammonitess. Verse 14 says, “he did evil, because he did not prepare his heart to seek the LORD.” During all the days of their administrations, Rehoboam and Jeroboam were constantly at war (15). When Rehoboam died and was buried in the City of David, his son Abijah [1 Kings 14:31 says Abijam] reigned in his place (16). We are told that Shemaiah the prophet and Iddo the seer recorded the events and genealogies of the king.
2 Chronicles Chapter 13
For a change, 2 Chronicles actually goes into greater detail about the life of one of Judah’s monarchs than the book of 1 Kings does. As in 1 Kings 15:1, we’re told Rehoboam’s son, Abijah [1 Kings calls him Abijam], assumed the throne of Judah in the eighteenth year of Jeroboam’s administration and ruled only three years in Jerusalem (2 Chron. 13:1-2). His mother, we are told, “was Michaiah the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah” (v. 2). Yet 2 Chronicles 11:20-22 and 1 Kings 15:2 tell us she was Maachah, granddaughter of Absalom. Very likely the name Michaiah is some sort of spelling variation of the woman’s name, and her father is identified in this passage, whereas her grandfather was previously named to show that Rehoboam married a close relative.
Taking up the conflict begun by his father against Jeroboam, Abijah mustered 400,000 men of Judah and Benjamin to fight Jeroboam’s 800,000 (2 Chron. 13: 3). Before the battle was joined, Abijah stood on one of the mountains in Ephraim and gave the soldiers a history lesson (v. 4). He reminded them of the covenant YHWH had made with David, but left out the part about the consequences for Sololmon’s apostasy (5). He called the Israelites who sided with Jeroboam “worthless rogues” and asserted that they took advantage of Rehoboam when he “was young and inexperienced and could not withstand them” (6-7). I’ll give him the “inexperienced” part, but anyone who calls a 41-year-old “young” is stretching things quite a bit! Yet that is how old 1 Kings 14:21 tells us Rehoboam was when he took the throne of Judah.
He claimed that, while the northern tribes outnumbered the Judean army, all they had to back them up was their golden calf idols and the commoners who had been made priests, simply by bringing a sacrifice of a bull and seven rams to consecrate themselves (2 Chron. 13:8-9). Judah, on the other hand, had stayed true to YHWH their God and the Levitical priesthood He had established, while their relatives had forsaken Him (vv. 10-11). Since God was on Judah’s side, he advised his neighbors not to fight against Him, “for you shall not prosper” (12).
While Abijah was presenting this speech, Jeroboam’s men circled around behind Judah’s army to ambush them (13). Seeing themselves surrounded, Abijah’s men cried out to YHWH for help, while the priests sounded their trumpets (14). When the men of Judah shouted, “God struck Jeroboam and all Israel” (15). By the time the battle was ended, Jeroboam had lost 500,000 men, so the Israelites were subdued by the Judeans “because they relied on the LORD God of their fathers” (16-18). Abijah was able to take control of Bethel, Jeshanah and Ephron, with their surrounding villages (19).
As a result of this defeat, Jeroboam never did recover his military might during the administration of Abijah. In fact verse 20 says, “the LORD struck him, and he died.”
Abijah, meanwhile, “grew mighty, married fourteen wives, and begot twenty-two sons and sixteen daughters” (21). That’s a lot to accomplish in just three years! Ezra remarked that more about Abijah could be found “written in the annuls of the prophet Iddo” (22).
2 Chronicles Chapter 14
I am not sure why the person who came up with our chapters and verses chose to insert a break here, because the first verse of Chapter 14 really is a continuation of the last verse in the previous chapter. When Abijah died and was buried in the City of David, his son, Asa, took his place (2 Chron. 14:1). During the first part of Asa’s administration, all was quiet for ten years.
Unlike his father and grandfather, Asa was a man of faith, who “did what was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God” (v. 2). He removed all the altars for foreign gods, broke down their sacred pillars and cut down the wooden images (3). Commanding his people to seek YHWH their God and keep His commandments, the king also tore down the high places and incense altars from the cities of Judah (4-5). When that was done, he built more fortified cities in his territory during the time of rest the Lord granted his kingdom (6-7).
He had a standing army of 300,000 men of Judah “who carried shields and spears,” plus an additional 280,000 Benjaminites “who carried shields and drew bows”—for a total of 580,000 men (8). A fellow named Zerah from Ethiopia invaded with an army of a million men and 300 chariots, penetrating as far as Mareshah in the southern part of Judah (9). When Asa went to face off against the multitude in a valley near Mareshah, he prayed:
“LORD, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. O LORD, you are our God; do not let man prevail against you.” (2 Chron 14:11, NIV)
In response, the Lord struck the Ethiopians and they fled before the Judeans (v. 12). Not only did Asa and his men defeat and despoil the Ethiopians, but they also attacked and plundered Gerar and its surrounding villages [in the Philistine territory along Judah’s border with Egypt] before returning to Jerusalem in triumph (13-15).
2 Chronicles Chapter 15
About that time, “the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded,” who carried a message to Asa and his returning army (2 Chron. 15:1). He assured them that YHWH was with them, so long as they stayed true to Him, but He’d forsake them if they abandoned Him (v. 2). Probably referring to the time of the judges, the prophet reminded the men of Benjamin and Judah, “For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach and without the law. But in their distress they turned to the LORD, the God of Israel, and sought him, and he was found by them” (3-4). It used to be that it was not safe to leave one’s hometown, since nations and city-states fought against them during the trouble God allowed (5-6). “And now, you men of Judah, be strong and courageous, for your work will be rewarded” (2 Chron. 15:7, NLT).
With this message, Asa was encouraged to do still more spiritual house-cleaning in Judah and Benjamin (v. 8). He got rid of every idol he could find in all the territory under his control, and restored the altar at the temple.
In the third month of the fifteenth year of his reign, Asa gathered everyone from his kingdom at Jerusalem, and was joined by faithful men who defected from Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon (9-10). They slaughtered 700 bulls and 7,000 sheep from the spoils of war, and then made “a covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul” (11-12). Anyone who failed to do so faced the death penalty—regardless of gender or socioeconomic status (13). In their joy and excitement, the men shouted their oath to the accompaniment of trumpets and ram’s horns (14-15). What an amazing thing that must’ve been to behold!
Asa deposed his grandmother, Maachah, from being queen mother, because she practiced idolatry, and then he burned her obscene wooden idol outside the city (16). I wonder if this means he had the woman killed. Oddly enough, verse 17 is almost a direct quote of 1 Kings 15:14, which says Asa didn’t remove the high places in Judah, yet we were told in 2 Chronicles 15:3 & 5 that he had. The chapter concludes by telling us, “He brought into the temple of God the silver and gold and the articles that he and his father had dedicated. There was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of Asa’s reign” (2 Chron. 15:18-19, NIV).
2 Chronicles Chapter 16
In Asa’s 36th year as king of Judah, Baasha built up the city of Ramah not far from the border between the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel (2 Chron. 16:1). This fortress was right along the main trade route to Judah, effectively cutting the kingdom off from the nations to the north. Rather than petitioning the Lord, as he had done in the past, Asa took the silver and gold he had not long before deposited at the temple and sent it as a present to Ben-Hadad, king of Syria in Damascus (v. 2). He asked the Syrian king to make a treaty with him and break off his agreement with Baasha king of Israel, “so that he will withdraw from me” (3). The Syrian king was all too happy to take the treasure and attack the territory of Naphtali in the center of the northern kingdom (4). As intended, this stopped Baasha’s blockade of Judah (5).
Asa called every able-bodied man in Judah to come help tear down Ramah and use the stones and timber to reinforce Geba and Mizpah of Benjamin, on his side of the border between the two kingdoms (6). God was not at all pleased with this, so He sent the prophet Hanani to confront the king, saying, “Because you have relied on the king of Syria, and have not relied on the LORD your God, therefore the army of the king of Syria has escaped from your hand” (7). He reminded Asa of how huge the Ethiopian army had been, “Yet, because you relied on the LORD, He delivered them into your hand” (8). Then the prophet made a profound and beautiful statement: “The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” (2 Chron. 16:9, NLT). As a consequence of his reliance on man instead of God, Asa’s kingdom was doomed to experience war through the rest of his administration. This didn’t sit well at all with the king, so he had Hanani locked up in jail. The incident put him in such a foul mood, he also mistreated some of his other subjects (10).
From the 39th year of his reign until his death two years later, Asa suffered a degenerative disease in his feet. Even though it was serious enough to take the king’s life, “he did not ask for help from the Lord, but only from the doctors” (2 Chron. 16:12-13, NCV). When he died, his subjects buried him in the City of David, laying him out on a bed of fragrant oils and spices, and then built a big bonfire in his honor (14). Nevertheless, it is sad that a man who began so well ended his reign so poorly!
2 Chronicles Chapter 17
When Jehoshaphat, Asa’s son took the throne, he immediately fortified Judah’s holdings—including the cities his father had captured in the territory of Ephraim (2 Chron. 17:1-2). Verses 3-4 tell us YHWH was with Jehoshaphat, because he behaved in the way his father had in Asa’s early days, serving the Lord instead of the Baals. God firmly established the kingdom in his hands and his people honored him with gifts (5).
It appears that during the latter part of his father’s reign, the people may have reverted to some of their pagan habits of worship, since Jehoshaphat had to remove the high places and wooden idols again (6). He sent a team of leaders to the cities of Judah to educate the people about God’s Law (7-9).
As a result, the Lord put the fear of YHWH on the surrounding nations, so that no one dared to attack Judah during Jehoshaphat’s reign (10). Even the Philistines brought him silver and gold, while the Arabians gave him flocks of goats and sheep (11).
The king grew increasingly powerful—building new fortresses and storage cities, acquiring property and enlisting military men (12-13). From the tribe of Judah he had 300,000 troops under the command of Adnah; another captain Jehohanan had 280,000; Amasiah volunteered with 200,000 men (14-16). Of the tribe of Benjamin, there were 200,000 archers with Eliada and another 180,000 troops under the command of Jehozabad (17-18). All of these together totaled 1,160,000 soldiers—besides those that were stationed at the fortified cities (19). That’s pretty amazing for a country smaller than Connecticut!
2 Chronicles Chapter 18
Unlike 1 Kings, 2 Chronicles does not dwell on the wickedness of Ahab king of Israel, nor upon the consequences God brought on him and his family. My guess is that we hear about him in this chapter, only because of his relationship to Jehoshaphat.
Verse 1 tells us, at the height of Jehoshaphat’s reign, he made an alliance with Ahab through marriage. Years later, he went to visit the king of Israel, and Ahab slaughtered a bunch of sheep and oxen for Jehoshaphat and his guests, hoping to persuade the king of Judah to go with him into battle to reclaim Ramoth Gilead (2 Chron. 18:2-3). Jehoshaphat agreed, saying, “I am as you are, my people as your people; we will be with you in the war” (3)—in other words, ‘Since we’re family, my army and I are at your disposal.’
Being a man of faith, Jehoshaphat first wanted to consult with the Lord before going into battle (4). So Ahab gathered his 400 false prophets, who all declared that the king should go to Ramoth and that he would be successful (5). Jehoshaphat realized these were not prophets of YHWH, so he asked, “Is there not still a prophet of the LORD here, that we may inquire of Him?” (6). Ahab grudgingly admitted there was one available, “…but I hate him. He never prophesies anything but bad news for me! His name is Micaiah son of Imlah” (2 Chron. 18:7, NLT).
While the king sent someone to fetch Micaiah, one of the false prophets named Zedekiah came forward with horns made of iron, claiming that YHWH said, “With these you shall gore the Syrians until they are destroyed” (vv. 8-10). All the rest of the prophets chimed in with similar admonitions (11). On the way to the kings’ presence, the guard told Micaiah everyone was saying encouraging things to Ahab and so should he (12). Micaiah answered with an oath, “…whatever my God says, that I will speak” (13).
When he appeared before Ahab and Jehoshaphat, Michaiah at first repeated what all the false prophets were saying (14). Ahab knew that was not characteristic of the son of Imlah, so he ordered him to tell the truth (15). Then Michaiah declared, “I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd. And the LORD said, ‘These have no master. Let each return to his house in peace’” (16). That was more along the lines of what Ahab was used to hearing. He said to Jehoshaphat, “Did I not tell you he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil?” (17).
Then Micaiah described a scene in heaven not unlike the appearance of the two kings sitting before him. YHWH was enthroned in heaven, surrounded by angels and demons (18). He asked, “Who will persuade Ahab king of Israel to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?” (19). The spirits proposed several things, but then one in particular offered to “go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets” (20-21). The Lord was sure this plan would succeed and authorized the demon to carry it out, so that Ahab would be persuaded to go to his death. This is the third incident in scripture where the Lord actually assigned an evil spirit to a person or group to punish disobedience (See also Judges 9:23-24 & 1 Sam. 16:14).
When Zedekiah realized Micaiah was suggesting that he was under the influence of a deceiving spirit, he came and smacked the prophet on the jaw, saying, “Which way did the spirit from the LORD go from me to speak to you?” (22-23). Michaiah replied that he’d find out the day he went into an inner room to hide (24).
Ahab had Micaiah placed in the custody of the king’s son and the mayor of the city, with instructions to feed the prophet on bread and water until he returned (25-26). Micaiah was so confident of his message from YHWH, he said, “If you ever return in peace, the LORD has not spoken by me,” and warned everyone to pay attention (27).
The prophet’s message must’ve rattled Ahab a bit, for he proposed on the day of battle that Jehoshaphat go out in full regalia, while Ahab disguised himself as a regular soldier (28-29). It would’ve been a good plan, since the Syrian king had ordered his chariot captains to focus their attack on Ahab alone (30). When they saw Jehoshaphat, they assumed he was their man—until he cried out to YHWH, “and God diverted them from him” (31-32).
Ahab’s scheme didn’t stop God from carrying out His plan against him. An archer shooting at random, ‘happened’ to strike Ahab at a joint in his armor, seriously wounding the king (33). While Ahab withdrew to a safe vantage point, he slowly bled to death, as the battle raged on before him. Then at sunset he died (34). One wonders what became of Micaiah after his prophecy was fulfilled concerning Ahab and how and when his word against Zedekiah came true.
2 Chronicles Chapter 19
When Jehoshaphat returned safely to his home in Jerusalem, God sent Jehu the son of Hanani the seer to confront him: “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD?” (2 Chron. 19:1-2). YHWH was mad at Jehoshaphat for hanging out with Ahab. Quite likely the only reason God spared the king of Judah from destruction was because he had done his best to follow the Lord and had gotten rid of the wooden idols in his country (v. 3).
He stepped up his efforts to bring his subjects back to faith in God, traveling all over his kingdom and appointing judges in all the major cities (4-5). As sort of an oath of office, Jehoshaphat charged these leaders:
“Consider carefully what you do, because you are not judging for man but for the LORD, who is with you whenever you give a verdict. Now let the fear of the LORD be upon you. Judge carefully, for with the LORD our God there is no injustice or partiality or bribery.” (2 Chron. 19:6-7, NIV)
In Jerusalem, he set up a sort of Supreme Court, consisting of leading priests and Levites (8). These he admonished to serve with “the fear of the LORD, faithfully and with a loyal heart” (9). The king’s hope was that everyone would conduct themselves in accordance with God’s law, so they would not bring wrath on themselves (10). Jehoshaphat deputized Amariah the chief priest as the highest authority regarding matters of religion, while a Judean chief by the name of Zebadiah was the go-to person regarding matters of State (11a). He assured the leaders, “Behave courageously, and the LORD will be with the good” (11b).
2 Chronicles Chapter 20
Sometime thereafter, the Moabites, Ammonites and Meunites joined forces to fight against Judah (2 Chron. 20:1). When Jehoshaphat heard about the invasion coming from the east, he was afraid and sought YHWH, calling a fast throughout the kingdom and assembling everyone together in the holy city (vv. 2-4).
In the courtyard in front of the temple, the king prayed publicly, acknowledging God as ruler of the nations, against whose might and power no one can stand (5-6). He recalled how the Lord drove out the inhabitants of the land before Israel, “and gave it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever” (7). He reminded God of His promise to Solomon to inhabit the temple in Jerusalem and hear every prayer directed toward it in times of crisis (8-9). Now here were the people God had not allowed Israel to attack when they took the land of Canaan, “rewarding us by coming to throw us out of Your possession which You have given us to inherit” (11). He asked God to judge the armies coming against them. In an expression of utter humility and dependence, this mighty king admitted to God, “For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You” (12). Men, women and children stood with the king in agreement to this prayer (13).
Immediately, the Lord responded by giving one of the Levite musicians a message for the king and all those assembled: “Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (14-15). He told them to go out and said where the enemy would march the next day (16). As Moses had long ago said to Israel at the Red Sea, so the Lord promised Judah, “’You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the LORD, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!” (17). Jehoshaphat and everyone present bowed with their faces to the ground in gratitude to YHWH for this message, and then the Levites led everyone in songs of worship (18-19).
The next morning, Judah set out as ordered. Jehoshaphat encouraged everyone to believe in YHWH and His prophets, so they would be successful (20). After consulting with the people, the king assigned a choir to lead the troops with songs of praise (21). As they approached the camp of the invaders, singing their songs, “the LORD set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated” (22). The Ammonites and Moabites first fought against the Edomites, and then they turned against each other, until there was not a survivor to be found (23-24).
For three days the Hebrews were stripping the dead and carting away the spoil (25). On the fourth day, everyone assembled in a valley to praise God for this victory, so the place was called “the Valley of Berachah,” which means “blessing” (26). With stringed instruments, harps and trumpets, the people of Judah returned to the temple rejoicing over what YHWH had done to their enemies (27-28). After the surrounding nations heard what happened, they were terrified to attack Jehoshaphat, so his kingdom enjoyed peace and quiet (29-30).
At age 35 Jehoshaphat became king and ruled for 25 years in Jerusalem (31). He did the good things his father Asa had done; nevertheless, the high places were not removed, since not everyone in Judah was serious about following YHWH (32-33). Jehu the son of Hanani is credited as the source of most of the information about Jehoshaphat’s administration, as well as the Book of the Kings of Israel (34).
In verses 35-36, we’re told of Jehoshaphat’s alliance with Ahaziah, the wicked successor of Ahab, and their plans to send ships to Tarshish for gold. A man named Eliezer prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, “Because you have made an alliance with Ahaziah, the LORD will destroy what you have made” (2 Chron. 20:37, NIV). So the ships were wrecked before they ever set sail.
2 Chronicles Chapter 21
After Jehoshaphat died and was buried in the City of David, his son Jehoram reigned in his place (2 Chron. 21:1). While he was still alive, the king had wisely designated Jehoram as his successor, but had given his six brothers gifts of gold, silver and the governance of several important cities (vv. 2-3). But when Jehoram was firmly established in the kingdom, he had all his brothers and other members of the royal family murdered (4).
Jehoram was 32 years of age when he assumed the throne and ruled a mere eight years in Jerusalem, due to his wickedness (5). Married to a daughter of Ahab, he committed some of the same atrocities as Israel in the land of Judah (6). Only because of His promise to David did YHWH restrain Himself from wiping out the royal family (7).
During Jehoram’s administration, the Edomites rebelled against Judah and appointed their own king (8). When he attempted to quash the uprising, the Edomites surrounded his army, so they barely escaped (9). Libnah, a city in southwest Judah, also revolted, because Jehoram “had forsaken the LORD God of his fathers” (10).
As if all this was not enough, Jehoram reintroduced the kind of idolatry the people had previously practiced on the high places in Judah, causing them to commit spiritual harlotry against YHWH (11). Therefore, Elijah the prophet sent Jehoram a letter saying,
This is what the LORD, the God of your ancestor David, says: You have not followed the good example of your father, Jehoshaphat, or your grandfather King Asa of Judah. Instead, you have been as evil as the kings of Israel. You have led the people of Jerusalem and Judah to worship idols, just as King Ahab did in Israel. And you have even killed your own brothers, men who were better than you. So now the LORD is about to strike you, your people, your children, your wives, and all that is yours with a heavy blow. You yourself will be stricken with a severe intestinal disease until it causes your bowels to come out. (2 Chron. 21:12-15, NLT)
Not only that, but “the LORD stirred up against Jehoram the spirit of the Philistines and the Arabians who were near the Ethiopians. And they came up into Judah and invaded it,” hauling off all the king’s treasures, his sons and his wives, except the youngest boy, Jehoahaz (16-17).
As Elijah had prophesied, the Lord struck King Jehoram with an incurable intestinal disease, with which he suffered intense pain for two years, until his bowels did indeed fall out (18-19). According to modern medical professionals, the disease described in this passage was most likely colorectal carcinoma—a form of intestinal cancer—resulting in a prolapse of the bowel [See PubMed.gov for a more complete explanation].
When Jehoram died, no one was sad to see him go, and they did not light a funeral pyre in his honor, as they had previous kings (19-20). Moreover, although he was buried in the City of David, he was not interred in the royal tombs.
2 Chronicles Chapter 22
When Jehoram died, “the inhabitants of Jerusalem made Ahaziah his youngest son king in his place, for the raiders who came with the Arabians into the camp had killed all the older sons” (2 Chron. 22:1). Now, according to 2 Chronicles 21:17, the lad’s name was Jehoahaz. But, if you look at the meaning of these two names, you see there’s really not a serious discrepancy: Jehoahaz means “YHWH has seized;” while Ahaziah means “YHWH holds/possesses.” My guess is that the latter name was applied to the young man when he was given his father’s throne.
Verse 2 says Ahaziah was 42 years old when he became king in Israel, and he reigned for one year in Jerusalem. That’s impossible, considering his dad was only 40 when he died! If you compare 2 Kings 8:26, you find the correct age of the young man was 22. Apparently Ezra, or some scribe copying this document later, made an error when recording the king’s age.
His mother, Athaliah the granddaughter of Omri king of Israel, “advised him to do wickedly,” so Ahaziah displeased YHWH like the rest of the family of Ahab (3-4). Following the advice of the house of Ahab, Ahaziah went to war with Joram, king of Israel, against Hazael of Syria (5). At the battle in Ramoth Gilead, Joram was wounded, so he went to Jezreel to recuperate (6). Ahaziah went to see his uncle, and was caught in the middle of Jehu’s coup against the house of Ahab (7).
Here’s how Ezra says it all played out:
While Jehu was executing judgment on the house of Ahab, he found the princes of Judah and the sons of Ahaziah’s relatives, who had been attending Ahaziah, and he killed them. He then went in search of Ahaziah, and his men captured him while he was hiding in Samaria. He was brought to Jehu and put to death. They buried him, for they said, “He was a son of Jehoshaphat, who sought the LORD with all his heart.” So there was no one in the house of Ahaziah powerful enough to retain the kingdom. (2 Chron. 22:8-9, NIV)
2 Kings 9:27-28 tell us Ahaziah was wounded during his flight from Jezreel and made it as far as the fortress at Megiddo, where he died and was taken in his chariot back to Jerusalem for burial. At any rate, he was probably the only descendant of Ahab who received a proper burial after Jehu’s attack.
“Now when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the royal heirs of the house of Judah” (2 Chron. 22:10). What self-respecting woman would slaughter her own grandchildren? Only one related to the witch Jezebel, who was controlled by every imaginable demon! Fortunately, the wicked queen was not able to get her hands on all of the king’s children, for Jehoshabeath [2 Kings 11:2 calls her Jehosheba], Azariah’s sister, managed to sneak the infant son of her brother out and hide him and his nurse in a bedroom (2 Chron. 22:11).
Now, it just so happened that Jehoshabeath was the wife of Jehoiada the priest. So for six years the youngest son of Ahaziah was raised in one of the apartments at the temple complex, while the self-made queen ruled the land (v. 12).
2 Chronicles Chapter 23
In the seventh year, Jehoiada the priest decided to make his move against the usurper. He made a covenant with five of the military captains and had them gather all the Levites and other leading men of Judah (2 Chron. 23:1-2). When they were all assembled, the priest made an agreement with them to place a rightful heir—a descendant of David—on the throne (v. 3). Although this passage does not mention it, at some point the man of God must’ve told them about or shown them Prince Joash, as we read in 2 Kings 11:4.
Next, Jehoiada made arrangements for all of them to remain on duty to guard the prince, while he was introduced to the general population (2 Chron. 23:4-7). The priest armed the men with weapons and shields which had belonged to King David and his men (vv. 8-9). When everyone was in place, the priest and his sons brought out Joash, put a crown on his head, gave the boy a copy of the Law, and made him king (10-11). Then the priests shouted, “Long live the king!”
Athaliah heard the commotion and came out to see what was going on (12). When she spotted the lad near the pillar at the temple where monarchs were traditionally crowned, heard the trumpets sound and the singers with their instruments praising God, while everyone celebrated, she tore her robes and cried, “Treason!” (13). Jehoiada promptly ordered his officers to arrest the woman and take her outside the temple complex to execute her (14). So she was seized and killed at one of the gates to the king’s palace (15).
With Athaliah out of the way, Jehoiada was able to reestablish the proper worship system at the temple of YHWH, putting priests and Levites in place to oversee the temple and its services, and appointing temple guards to keep the unclean from entering the complex (18-19). Having made a covenant with all present to be YHWH’s people, he led them to the temple of Baal to destroy it, its priest and all its trappings (16-17).
When this was done, the boy-king was escorted to the palace and placed upon the throne of his father (20). Then “all the people of the land rejoiced; and the city was quiet,” because Athaliah was dead and a rightful ruler from the line of David was in place (21).
2 Chronicles Chapter 24
Joash was a mere seven years old when he was made king of Judah, and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem, doing what was right in God’s sight all the years that his uncle Jehoiada was alive to instruct him (2 Chronicles 24:1-2). Jehoiada selected two wives for him, and Joash fathered sons and daughters (v. 3). I can’t imagine he got into the baby-making business right away, still being a mere child himself! But he was probably not too old, since his son was 25 when he took the throne 40 years later.
One of Joash’s first concerns was with the renovation of the temple. Having lived there for the first several years of his life, I’m sure the young man was well aware of the run-down condition of the Lord’s house. Verse 7 also informs us that the sons of Athaliah “had broken into the house of God” and used the holy things in their service to Baal. Therefore, the king ordered all the priests and Levites to take up a collection to pay for repairs (4-5).
When this was not done quickly, Joash called the religious leaders to task and asked why they had not gathered the money from the people, “according to the commandment of Moses the servant of the LORD and of the assembly of Israel, [as they had done] for the tabernacle of witness” (6). By order of the king, the priests made a chest with a hole in it and set it outside the gate to the temple complex (8). Once the renovation project was made public, donations started pouring in from enthusiastic worshipers (9-10). Whenever the chest was full enough, the Levites brought it to the king’s official, who emptied it, and passed the money along to the king and priest, who gave it to the workers who repaired the temple (11-12). Finally, the house of YHWH was restored to its original condition, and the remaining funds were used to make new utensils for the service of the temple (13-14).
All would’ve been well, were it not for the fact that Jehoiada died—at age 130 (15). Because he had played such an important role in the government of Judah and the temple of YHWH, the priest was buried with the kings in the City of David (16). No sooner was the old sage placed in his tomb, than the leading men of Judah came and flattered the king, causing him to turn from worshiping the Lord to serving wooden idols (17-18).
God sent prophets to testify to the leaders of Judah regarding their sin, but they were ignored (19).
Then the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, who stood above the people, and said to them, “Thus says God: ‘Why do you transgress the commandments of the LORD, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the LORD, He also has forsaken you.’” (20).
Naturally, this didn’t sit well with the men in charge, “But they plotted against him, and by order of the king they stoned him to death in the courtyard of the LORD’s temple” (2 Chron 24:21, NIV). Here was one of the children of the man who protected Joash from his murderous grandmother and helped him take the throne, and he repaid him by having the fellow murdered. As Zechariah was dying at the very temple where Joash had been sheltered by his father, he cried, “The LORD look on it, and repay!” (v. 22).
That spring, the army of Syria invaded Judah and Jerusalem, killed the leaders and carried off the spoil to Damascus (23). 2 Kings 12:17-18 says that the kings took all the treasures from the palace and the temple and bought the Syrian king off. Even though the Judean army was larger than the Syrian forces, YHWH enabled them to defeat Judah as punishment for the nation’s apostasy (2 Chron. 24:24).
Joash’s rule came to an abrupt end, when two of his servants conspired to kill him, while he was recuperating from injuries received in battle (25). Interestingly enough, the men who assasinated Joash were sons of Ammonite and Moabite women, who were seeking to avenge the murder of Zechariah (26). We’re told that Joash was buried in the City of David, but not with the other kings. How interesting that his advisor, Jehoiada the priest, was given a royal burial, but Joash was not. After his father’s death, Joash’s son Amaziah reigned in his place (27).
2 Chronicles Chapter 25
Amaziah was 25 when he took the throne, and he reigned 29 years in Jerusalem (2 Chron. 25:1). He behaved himself reasonably well in God’s sight, “but not with a loyal heart” (v. 2). When Amaziah was well established as king, he executed the servants who had assassinated Joash, but not their children, in compliance with the Law of God from Deuteronomy 24:16—“The fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall the children be put to death for their fathers; but a person shall die for his own sin” (2 Chron. 25:3-4).
Amaziah took a census of all the men aged twenty and above, and found there were 300,000 warriors in Judah and Benjamin (5). He also hired 100,000 mercenaries from Israel, but changed his mind, after a man of God said he would not be successful if they came with him (6-8). When Amaziah was concerned about the 7,500 pounds of silver he had paid the Israelites, the prophet assured him, “The LORD is able to give you much more than this” (9). When the king dismissed the hired soldiers, they were terribly bitter about it, even though they still had their money (10)!
He and the Judean army marched to the Valley of Salt, where they killed 10,000 Edomites in battle and captured another 10,000, whom they threw off a cliff (11-12). The disgruntled Israelites, meanwhile, raided some cities in northern Judah, killing 3,000 and taking their spoil (13). Had Amaziah done what was right, God probably would’ve honored him and let him avenge this outrage. But the foolish king brought back some of the idols of Edom, set them up in his own town and worshiped them (14).
The prophet YHWH sent to confront him was brilliant. He asked, “Why have you worshiped gods who could not even save their own people from you?” (2 Chron 25:15, NLT).
The king compounded the trouble he was in by retorting, “Since when have I asked your advice? Be quiet now before I have you killed!” (v. 16, NLT). The prophet knew then that Amaziah was doomed, since he was unwilling to listen to godly counsel.
Probably wishing to avenge the pillaging of his cities and feeling pretty confident of himself after his defeat of Edom, Amaziah challenged King Joash of Israel to fight him (17). Joash told a little parable about a thistle wanting to marry the daughter of a cedar tree, but then being trampled by a wild animal (18). He told his challenger to enjoy the victory over Edom, but stay out of Israel’s business or suffer the consequences (19). Since YHWH wanted to punish Amaziah and his people for worshiping the idols of Edom, the Judean king didn’t listen, and his army was soundly defeated (20-22). Joash captured Amaziah, took him to Jerusalem, knocked down about 600 feet of the wall of the city, pillaged the gold and silver from the palace and temple, and then took some hostages with him to Samaria (23-24).
Amaziah survived Joash by 15 years (25). After his apostasy, a conspiracy was formed against him, so the king fled to Lachish, where he was killed (27). The king’s body was brought back on horses to the City of David, where he was buried with the other noblemen of Judah (28).
2 Chronicles Chapter 26
This chapter traces the career of Judah’s longest reigning monarch. Called Azariah in 2 Kings 15:1-7, he is referred to as Uzziah by both Ezra and Isaiah. 2 Chronicles 26:1 tells us, “Now all the people of Judah took Uzziah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king instead of his father Amaziah.” He reigned for 52 years in Jerusalem, doing what was right in God’s sight, as his father had done (vv. 3-4). During the days of a man by the name of Zechariah, Uzziah sought the Lord and prospered (5). We are not told whether Zechariah was a prophet, priest or counselor—only that he “had understanding in the visions [or fear] of God.”
In verses 2 & 6-15, we learn about all the achievements of Uzziah during those years:
- “He built Elath and restored it to Judah” (2).
- He conquered Gath, Jabneh and Ashdod, tearing down their walls and building Judean settlements among the Philistines (6).
- In addition to the Philistines, Uzziah was also helped by God to defeat the Arabians in Gur Baal and the Meunites (7).
- The Ammonites brought tribute to Uzziah, and his fame extended to Egypt (8).
- He built watchtowers in Jerusalem and in the wilderness and reinforced the walls of Jerusalem (9-10).
- Uzziah had many wells dug to water his abundant livestock, farms and vineyards, “for he loved the soil” (10).
- He had 2,600 military captains in charge of 307,500 soldiers, who served in rotation (11-13).
- The king equipped his army with “shields, spears, helmets, body armor, bows, and slings to cast stones” (14).
- And on the towers in Jerusalem were ingenious machines, “invented by skillful men…to shoot arrows and large stones” (15).
“His fame spread far and wide, for he was greatly helped until he became powerful” (2 Chron. 26:15, NIV). Unfortunately, at the height of his success, Uzziah did a very foolish thing. He decided it wasn’t enough for him just to serve as Judah’s king, he also wanted to be the priest.
It was not uncommon in those days for monarchs to be both the king and the high priest of a nation. Jezebel’s father, Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians is a good example (See 2 Kings 16:31). Not only was he the priest of Baal, but he took the throne of Tyre as well.
Uzziah went into the temple, took a censor, and began to burn incense before YHWH—something that, according to Mosaic Law, only the Aaronic priests were allowed to do (2 Chron. 26:16). Azariah the high priest and eighty other brave members of the priesthood followed the king into the sanctuary and confronted the king, saying,
“It is not right for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD. That is for the priests, the descendants of Aaron, who have been consecrated to burn incense. Leave the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful; and you will not be honored by the LORD God.” (2 Chron 26:18, NIV)
Uzziah was angry that they would dare oppose him and started arguing with the priests. All of a sudden, leprosy broke out on his forehead. In that moment, both Uzziah and the priests knew it was God’s judgment against the king for trying to usurp the role of the priests (19-20).
From that day on, the king was a leper, separated from the house of YHWH and his own family (21). While Uzziah lived apart from everyone else, his son Jotham served as judge and administrator over the kingdom. Verse 22 says the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz chronicled the king’s life. When Uzziah died, he was buried in the plot of ground which belonged to the kings, but not in the tomb with the rest of them, since he was a leper. “Then Jotham his son reigned in his place” (23).
2 Chronicles Chapter 27
Jotham was 25 years old when he became king, and reigned for 16 years in Jerusalem (2 Chron. 27:1). He did all the good things his father Uzziah had, but he was smart enough not to enter the temple (v. 2). Verse 3 says “the people acted corruptly”—referring to their persistent use of the high places, as mentioned in 2 Kings 15:35. Jotham continued his father’s construction work, building both the Upper Gate of temple and the wall of Ophel, as well as cities and fortresses in the mountains and forests of Judah (2 Chron. 27:4-5). After he defeated the Ammonites, gave him “an annual tribute of 7,500 pounds of silver, 50,000 bushels of wheat, and 50,000 bushels of barley” for three consecutive years (2 Chron 27:5, NLT). Because of his loyalty, YHWH blessed the king with military might and success (v. 6). When he died, his son Ahaz ruled in his place (9).
2 Chronicles Chapter 28
Ahaz was 20 years old when he became king, and reigned 16 years in Jerusalem (2 Chron. 28:1). He was not a good king, but worshiped Baal like the kings of Israel (v. 2). He even went so far as to offer his own children as burnt offerings, like the pagan nations God had driven out of the land of Israel (3). This wicked king offered sacrifices and burned incense at every pagan shrine, on every high hill and under every green tree (4).
Therefore, YHWH allowed the king of Aram to defeat Ahaz and carry away large numbers of his citizens to Damascus (5). The Israelites also inflicted 120,000 casualties on the Judean army in a single day, “because they had abandoned the LORD, the God of their ancestors” (2 Chron. 28:5-6, NLT). The king’s son, his palace administrator and his second-in-command were killed by an Ephraimite warrior named Zicri (v. 7).
When the Israelites captured 200,000 women and children and carried them off with the plunder from Judah to Samaria, the Lord intervened by sending a prophet named Oded to intercept them (8-9). He told Israel the only reason they were able to defeat Judah was because God was mad at them. They had attacked and killed their distant relatives with such brutality that they were on the verge of incurring a greater punishment should they enslave all of these captives, as well (9-11). Several of the leaders concurred: “You must not bring those prisoners here,” they said, “or we will be guilty before the LORD. Do you intend to add to our sin and guilt?” (2 Chron. 28:13, NIV). The Judean prisoners were clothed and shod with items from the plunder. Then they were given food, drink and medical attention, before being transported on donkeys to Jericho (vv. 14-15).
King Ahaz of Judah asked the king of Assyria for help against his enemies, after both the Edomites and the Philistines attacked Judah (16-18). Verse 19 tells us YHWH humbled Judah, “because Ahaz their king led the people of Judah to sin, and he was unfaithful to the Lord” (2 Chron 28:19, NCV). Instead of helping him, King Tiglath-Pileser oppressed Ahaz, who then gathered treasures from the temple, the palace, and his officials to give to the king of Assyria as tribute (20-21).
When this was no help to him, Ahaz added to his offenses against God by sacrificing to the idols of Damascus who had defeated him (22). His thinking was that, since these gods had helped his enemies, they might help him, as well (23). But scripture tells us “they were the ruin of him and of all Israel.” The king chopped up the utensils from the Temple of YHWH and barred the doors, so no one could worship Him (23). He set up altars to pagan gods on every street corner in Jerusalem and shrines for these false gods in all the towns of Judah—completely infuriating the one true God (24-25). Apparently, he managed to alienate his subjects, as well, since King Ahaz was not buried in the royal cemetery in Jerusalem when he died (27). Ahaz was succeeded by his son Hezekiah as the next king.
2 Chronicles Chapter 29
Hezekiah became king at age 25 and reigned 29 years in Jerusalem (2 Chron. 29:1). A conscientious follower of YHWH, one of his first acts as king was to reopen the temple and make repairs (vv. 2-3). He gave the priests and Levites a pep talk to sanctify themselves and clean out the Lord’s house (4 & 11). He pointed to the unfaithfulness of their ancestors as the source of their current trouble (5-9). His intention was to make a covenant with the Lord, in order to turn away His wrath (10).
Verses 12-15 list the names of several leading priests and Levites, who “gathered their brethren, sanctified themselves, and went according to the commandment of the king, at the words of the LORD, to cleanse the house of the LORD.” All the garbage they found in the temple was disposed of at the Brook Kidron (16). They started at the inner sanctuary on the first day of the first month, and by the eighth day of the month, they came to the vestibule of the temple. They finished sanctifying the building by the 16th day of the month, and then reported to King Hezekiah (16-17). The priests said, “We have cleansed all the house of the LORD, the altar of burnt offerings with all its articles, and the table of the showbread with all its articles” (18). They had even managed to reclaim the articles that King Ahaz had cast aside during his administration (19).
Next, Hezekiah rounded up all the leaders at the temple, where they slaughtered seven each of bulls, rams, lambs and goats as sin offerings on behalf of the kingdom, for the sanctuary, and for all Judah and Israel (20-24). He stationed the Levites with musical instruments at the temple to lead worship during the sacrifices, “according to the commandment of David, of Gad the king’s seer, and of Nathan the prophet” (25-28). When the offerings were completed, the king and everyone present bowed and worshiped, and “sang songs with gladness” (29-30).
When Hezekiah gave the invitation, everyone brought their own sacrifices and offerings, as well (31). All together, those willing brought a total of 70 bulls, 100 rams, and 200 lambs; there were also another 600 bulls and 3,000 sheep consecrated (32-33). Unfortunately, there were not enough priests ceremonially prepared to skin all the burnt offerings, so the Levites had to help them until the rest of the priests had sanctified themselves (34). Once all of this was accomplished, Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced at what God had managed to bring together so quickly (35-36).
2 Chronicles Chapter 30
Hezekiah sent invitations to all Israel and Judah to come to Jerusalem to observe the Passover (2 Chron. 30:1). Since the temple was still being consecrated and there were not enough priests ready to handle the Passover sacrifices at the usual time, the leaders all agreed to observe this important festival on the alternate date in the second month, instead (vv. 2-5; c.f.—Num. 9:1-11). The content of the message sent from one end of the former territory of Israel and Judah was this:
“Children of Israel, return to the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel; then He will return to the remnant of you who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. And do not be like your fathers and your brethren, who trespassed against the LORD God of their fathers, so that He gave them up to desolation, as you see. Now do not be stiff-necked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the LORD; and enter His sanctuary, which He has sanctified forever, and serve the LORD your God, that the fierceness of His wrath may turn away from you.” (2 Chron. 30:6-8)
Hezekiah suggested that if the Israelites still living in the northern territories were to return to the YHWH, things might go better for their relatives who had been carried off to foreign lands, and they might be able to return to their homeland sooner (v. 9).
Most of the Israelites in the northern territory laughed when they heard this (10). However, a few from the tribes of Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun “humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem” (11). The Lord gave the people of Judah the desire to obey their leaders and YHWH, as well (12).
A huge group of people gathered at the appointed time in Jerusalem (13). Before the festivities began, they all got rid of the pagan altars in the city and tossed them into Brook Kidron (14). Apparently the zeal of the common fold put the priests and Levites to shame, so they sanctified themselves, and brought the burnt offerings and sacrificial animals to the house of the LORD and followed the rituals prescribed in the books of Moses (15-16).
Because not everyone was ceremonially clean (especially those from the northern territories), the Levites had to slaughter the Passover lambs for those unable to do so, to sanctify them to the LORD (17-18). Hezekiah prayed for these visitors, “May the good LORD provide atonement for everyone who prepares his heart to seek God, the LORD God of his fathers, though he is not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary” (18-19). YHWH graciously “listened to Hezekiah and healed the people” (20).
Everyone had a great time during the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread (21). The Levites and priests praised the Lord with singing and musical instruments; they taught the people from the Law of God. Everyone enjoyed good food, made peace offerings and confessed their sins (21-22). What a blessing to be encouraged by the nation’s highest leader to worship the Lord our God! It was such a wonderful celebration, everyone agreed to extend the festival another week (23). Hezekiah himself supplied 1,000 head of beef and 7,000 sheep to make it all happen; while the other leaders contributed the same number of bulls and 10,000 sheep (24).
Verse 25 tells us, “The whole assembly of Judah rejoiced, also the priests and Levites, all the assembly that came from Israel, the sojourners who came from the land of Israel, and those who dwelt in Judah.” Sadly, the following verse informs us there had never been such a joyful observance of the Passover, since the days of King Solomon (26). At the conclusion of it all, the priests and Levites blessed everyone, and the Lord heard and honored their prayers (27).
2 Chronicles Chapter 31
Having received instructions from the priests regarding what was acceptable and unacceptable behavior in the sight of YHWH their God (2 Chron. 30:21), the people realized they needed to get rid of all the junk they had been using to worship false gods. So they spread out across Judah and Israel, smashing all the sacred pillars, cutting down wooden idols and demolishing the high places and pagan altars (2 Chron. 31:1).
Hezekiah appointed the priests and Levites to serve at the temple according to the schedule of divisions previously prescribed by YHWH (v. 2). The morning and evening sacrifices were reinstituted, along with the other monthly and festal sacrifices; with the king making allowances to cover them out of his own possessions (3). The tithes were again put in place, so the priests and Levites could focus on their religious duties, rather than going out and working the fields to make a living (4).
Here’s something you rarely see happen: When the people were told to bring their firstfruits and tithes to the temple, they brought in way more than was needed by the priests at that time (5-6). During the four months following the big Passover celebration, so much was heaped up at the temple, that the priests had to find space in the temple store rooms to put it all (11)! Hezekiah and the leaders rejoiced at the sight of these heaps, and blessed both YHWH and His people (8). Azariah, the chief priest, explained that since the giving started, the priests not only had plenty to eat, but God had also blessed both the givers and the recipients with a huge surplus (9-10).
Verses 12-15 name the Levites in charge of maintaining the stores of crops and other offerings brought to the temple and to distribute them to eligible families. Verses 16-19 tell us what families benefited from this daily allotment.
Hezekiak was reputed for doing “good and right and true before the LORD his God” in such a whole-hearted manner that the Lord prospered him (20-21).
2 Chronicles Chapter 32
Sometimes, even the good guys go through tough times. 2 Chronicles 32:1 says, “After these deeds of faithfulness, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and entered Judah; he encamped against the fortified cities, thinking to win them over to himself.”
When Hezekiah heard that Sennacherib was on his way to make war against Jerusalem, he took action right away. The Judean king got his leaders to help him stop up the springs which were outside the city to keep the Assyrians from getting easy fresh water (vv. 2-4). Furthermore, Hezekiah reinforced the city walls and added another layer outside; he built watch towers, made weapons and shields and appointed military leaders over the army (5-6).
Then encouraging his troops, Hezekiah said,
“Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed before the king of Assyria, nor before all the multitude that is with him; for there are more with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people were strengthened by the words of Hezekiah king of Judah. (7-8).
While Sennacherib laid siege against Lachish [a fortified city southwest of Jerusalem] the Assyrian king sent his servants to Jerusalem to intimidate King Hezekiah (9). In Sennacherib’s name, his envoys said, “In what do you trust, that you remain under siege in Jerusalem?” (10). They accused Hezekiah of misleading the people by promising that YHWH would look after them (11). Yet in the minds of the pagans, Hezekiah had taken away God’s altars and probably diminished the people’s worship of Him, when he had the high places of Judah and Jerusalem torn down and restricted them to worshiping in Jerusalem alone (12).
Comparing YHWH God of Israel to the idols of other nations, the king of Assyria boasted,
“Do you not know what I and my fathers have done to all the peoples of other lands? Were the gods of the nations of those lands in any way able to deliver their lands out of my hand? Who was there among all the gods of those nations that my fathers utterly destroyed that could deliver his people from my hand, that your God should be able to deliver you from my hand?” (13-14).
They urged the Hebrews not to let Hezekiah deceive them and spoke against the LORD God and His servant Hezekiah (15-16). Sennacharib had even gone so far as to write letters bad-mouthing the LORD God of Israel, saying, “As the gods of the nations of other lands have not delivered their people from my hand, so the God of Hezekiah will not deliver His people from my hand.” Then the envoys shouted in Hebrew to the people of Jerusalem who were on the wall, to frighten and intimidate them, so that they would surrender (18).
King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah prayed for their people (20). YHWH took action by sending an angel, “who annihilated all the fighting men and the leaders and officers in the camp of the Assyrian king. So he withdrew to his own land in disgrace” (2 Chron. 32:21b, NIV). When Sennacharib was in the temple of his pagan deity, “some of his own offspring struck him down with the sword there,” just as YHWH had foretold through Isaiah the prophet (c.f.—2 Chron. 32:21c, 2 Kings 19:6-7 & Is. 37:6-7). After God so obviously delivered the king of Judah and Jerusalem, many people brought gifts to YHWH and Hezekiah, and foreign nations respected the Hebrew nation during his administration (2 Chron. 32:22-23).
Hezekiah faced yet another test soon after—this time in the form of some deadly disease. Verse 24 says simply that “Hezekiah was sick and near death, and he prayed to the LORD; and He spoke to him and gave him a sign.”
However, the parallel passages in 2 Kings 20:1-11 and Isaiah 38:1-8 tell us that Isaiah told Hezekiah the sickness would be fatal. The king “turned his face toward the wall,” and reminded the Lord of his zeal for Him. The word of YHWH came to Isaiah, before he had left the palace. The prophet asked the king to designate what sign would convince him the Lord would fulfill His promise to heal the king and add 15 years to his life. When Hezekiah chose for YHWH to make the shadow of the sundial recede ten steps down the stairway of Ahaz, the Lord performed a miracle in his behalf.
2 Chronicles 32:25-26 tells us:
But Hezekiah’s heart was proud and he did not respond to the kindness shown him; therefore the LORD’s wrath was on him and on Judah and Jerusalem. Then Hezekiah repented of the pride of his heart, as did the people of Jerusalem; therefore the LORD’s wrath did not come upon them during the days of Hezekiah (NIV).
Over his lifetime, Hezekiah accumulated great riches, honor and real estate. He built treasuries for his silver, gold, jewels, spices, shields, and other valuables, as well as barns for the produce of his land and abundant livestock (vv. 27-29). He diverted the water from the Upper Gihon by constructing a tunnel to the west side of the City of David (30). Everything King Hezekiah set out to do prospered.
Regarding the ambassadors from Babylon, who were sent to inquire about the miracle with the sundial, we are told this was a test in which YHWH withdrew temporarily from the king, “that He might know all that was in his heart” (31). As mentioned in the passages above, Hezekiah failed this test, proudly exhibiting all his wealth and achievements to the envoys, who carried the account to the king of Babylon, motivating a future invasion of Judah and Jerusalem.
Verse 32 informs us that Hezekiah’s character and history were recorded not only in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel, but also in the prophecy of Isaiah. When Hezekiah died, “they buried him in the upper tombs of the sons of David; and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem honored him at his death. Then Manasseh his son reigned in his place” (33).
2 Chronicles Chapter 33
Following one of the better kings of Judah, we next read the history of the nation’s very worst monarch. Born just a few years into Hezekiah’s 15-year life extension, Manasseh assumed the throne at the age of twelve and remained in power for a whopping 55 years (2 Chronicles 33:1). He was so bad, Manasseh was guilty of the same abominations that incited YHWH to drive out the Canaanites before the children of Israel (v. 2).
From verses 3-8 here’s the run-down of what Manasseh did:
- Rebuilt the high places his father had torn down
- Erected altars for the Baals
- Made wooden idols
- Worshiped all the host of heaven, even erecting altars for them in the courtyard of the temple of YHWH
- Built pagan altars in the house of the LORD
- Sacrificed his own children in the Valley of Ben Hinnom
- Practiced soothsaying [fortune-telling], witchcraft and sorcery
- Consulted mediums and spiritists
- Set up a sacred pillar to Ashteroth in the temple
Verse 9 tells us “Manasseh seduced Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel.” Imagine a king of Judah who was worse than the worst of the pagan peoples in the world at that time!
When YHWH tried to warn the king and his people, but was ignored, He “brought upon them the captains of the army of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze fetters, and carried him off to Babylon” (10-11). Although the parallel passage of 2 Kings 21:1-18 does not mention this incident, 2 Chronicles 23:12 says it was enough to get Manasseh’s attention. While imprisoned, the king of Judah “implored the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers” YHWH responded favorably to Manasseh’s prayer and brought him back home to his rightful throne. “Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God” (13).
Upon his return to Jerusalem, Manasseh built a very high wall outside the City of David (14)—most likely to prevent any future military defeat. Then he stationed military leaders in all the fortified cities of Judah. More astonishing was that Manasseh took away all the foreign gods and pagan altars he had built in and around Jerusalem (15). After repairing the altar of the LORD, Manasseh offered sacrifices on it to YHWH and commanded his subjects to serve the LORD (16). Old habits die hard, so “the people still sacrificed on the high places, but only to the LORD their God” (17).
Verse 18-19 informs us that there was a record of Manasseh’s administration—including his prayer to God, and the words of the prophet that confronted him in YHWH’s name were recorded in the book of the kings of Israel and the writings of some fellow by the name of Hozai. When Manasseh died, he was buried in his own house, rather than the tombs of his ancestors (20). Then his son Amon reigned in his place.
Amon came to the throne at age 22, and reigned just two years in Jerusalem (21). He was as bad as his father had been in the early years of his administration, but unlike Manasseh, Amon did not humble himself before the LORD, becoming increasingly worse (22-24). He was so corrupt that his own servants conspired against him and killed him in his own house (25)! His subjects executed all the king’s conspirators, and then made his son Josiah king instead.
2 Chronicles Chapter 34
Josiah was a mere boy of eight when he became king, and reigned 31 years in Jerusalem (2 Chron. 34:1). Unlike his father, the lad did what was right, and walked unwaveringly in the ways of his ancestor David (v. 2). Just eight years into his administration, while Josiah was a youth of 16, “he began to seek the God of his father David” (3). Four years later, he began an aggressive campaign to purge Judah and Jerusalem of all the pagan worship sites and paraphernalia his father and other kings had erected:
- Pagan altars were broken down in his presence (4).
- Idols of various kings were pulverized and their dust scattered on the graves of those who had sacrificed to them (5).
- The bones of pagan priests were burned on their own altars.
- Not only the territory of Judah was cleansed, but also the cities of Manasseh, Ephraim, Simeon and Naphtali (6-7).
In the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign, he sent several trusted men to see to the repairs of the house of the LORD his God (8). When they delivered the money that had been collected by the Levites from the Israelites for this purpose to Hilkiah the high priest, he gave it to the foremen who oversaw the repairs on the temple, who gave it to the workmen who performed the renovations (9-10). These, in turn, gave it to the craftsmen and builders to buy stone and timber to repair the walls, floors and ceilings, which the kings of Judah had destroyed (11). Everyone worked faithfully under the supervision of leading Levites who normally played instruments, were scribes, officers or gatekeepers (12-13).
Hilkiah the priest reported at this time that he had “found the Book of the Law of the LORD given by Moses” somewhere in the temple (14-15). When Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan the scribe, he carried the book to the king, gave a progress report regarding the repairs on the temple and the allocation of the money; and then he read the scroll to the king (16-18).
When tender-hearted Josiah heard the words of the Law, he tore his clothes in grief and shame (19). Then the king sent five of his most trusted men to “inquire of the LORD for me, and for those who are left in Israel and Judah, concerning the words of the book that is found; for great is the wrath of the LORD that is poured out on us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD, to do according to all that is written in this book.” (20-21).
The men went to see Huldah the prophetess, whose husband was in charge of the king’s wardrobe (22). Her reply from the Lord was that YHWH would indeed
“…bring calamity on this place and on its inhabitants, all the curses that are written in the book which they have read before the king of Judah, because they have forsaken Me and burned incense to other gods, that they might provoke Me to anger with all the works of their hands. Therefore My wrath will be poured out on this place, and not be quenched” (23-25).
But regarding King Josiah, she said,
“…because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before God when you heard His words against this place and against its inhabitants, and…tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you…. Surely I will gather you…to your grave in peace; and your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place and its inhabitants” (26-28).
Thankfully, Josiah didn’t take the “Well, at least it won’t happen in my life-time,” mentality of his great-grandfather, Hezekiah. He assembled all the leaders and people of Judah and Jerusalem and read the book of the Law to them (29-30) Then, according to verse 31—at perhaps the very spot where he had been coronated—the king stood and made a covenant before YHWH to…
- follow the LORD
- keep His commandments, His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and soul
- perform the words of the covenant that were written in this book
Josiah then compelled everyone else present to make a commitment, “so the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers” (32). What a great legacy he left from that point on:
“Thus Josiah removed all the abominations from all the country that belonged to the children of Israel, and made all who were present in Israel diligently serve the LORD their God. All his days they did not depart from following the LORD God of their fathers” (33).
2 Chronicles Chapter 35
“Now Josiah kept a Passover to the LORD in Jerusalem, and they slaughtered the Passover lambs on the fourteenth day of the first month” (2 Chron. 35:1). One of the things mentioned several times in the first five books of the Bible is the how, when and why of celebrating this most important festival in Israel. After hearing God’s word and carrying out the part about cleansing the land from idolatry, Josiah made sure he and his people did all they were instructed in the Law to observe the Passover.
He also set the priests and Levites to work, according to the instructions laid out by his ancestor, King David (vv. 2-5). Josiah ordered these men to consecrate themselves, so that they would be able to slaughter the Passover offerings for the people (6).
King Josiah himself provided the lambs and young goats as sacrificial animals for everyone present—a whopping 30,000, plus 3,000 cattle (7). The other leaders contributed 2,600 from the flock, and 300 cattle (8). Some leading Levites gave 5,000 sheep and goats, plus 500 cattle (9).
The priests and Levites slaughtered the animals, roasted and cooked the food and distributed it among the people like a well-oiled machine all day and into the night (10-14). The musicians sang, and the gatekeepers stayed at their posts, with the Levites bringing them their Passover meal (15). For the prescribed week, they kept the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (16-17). Verses 18-19 tell us, “There had been no Passover kept in Israel like that since the days of Samuel the prophet; and none of the kings of Israel had kept such a Passover as Josiah kept…” in his 18th year as king.
After all this, Necho king of Egypt came to fight against Carchemish by the Euphrates (20). For some reason, King Josiah felt threatened and went to fight the Egyptians. Necho sent this message to Josiah:
“What do you want with me, king of Judah? I have no quarrel with you today! I only want to fight the nation with which I am at war. And God has told me to hurry! Do not interfere with God, who is with me, or he will destroy you” (2 Chron. 35:21, NLT).
Sadly Josiah paid no attention to this warning from God through the foreign king, but disguised himself to go out and fight Necho in the Valley of Megiddo (v. 22). During the battle, the archers shot King Josiah and wounded him severely (23). Although he was rushed in a chariot to Jerusalem, he died of his wounds and was buried in one of the tombs of his ancestors (24). All Judah and Jerusalem mourned for this God-fearing king, and Jeremiah wrote a lament for Josiah, which was somehow preserved even until the time of Ezra the priest (25). The rest of his noble deeds were recorded in the book of The Kings of Israel and Judah (26-27).
2 Chronicles Chapter 36
“Then the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, and made him king in his father’s place in Jerusalem” (2 Chron. 36:1). Jehoahaz, Josiah’s fourth son, was also referred to as Shallum by 1 Chronicles 3:15 and Jeremiah 22:10-12. Why the people chose the king’s youngest heir to replace him is not explained in Scripture. He was 23 years old when he became king, and lasted only three months in Jerusalem before Necho came and deposed him (2 Chron. 36:2-3). After imposing a tribute of 7,500 pounds of silver and 75 pounds of gold, the king of Egypt made Jehoahaz’s elder brother Eliakim [Josiah’s second-born] king over Judah and Jerusalem, changing his name to Jehoiakim (v. 4). Then Necho took the deposed monarch off to Egypt, where—according to 2 Kings 23:34—Jehoahaz died in captivity.
Jehoiakim was 25 when he became king; his evil administration over Jerusalem and Judah lasted eleven years (5). Then Nebuchadnezzar came and hauled Jehoiakim off to Babylon in bronze chains (6). The pagan king also carried off some of the articles from the temple of YHWH and put them in his temple at Babylon (7). When Jehoiakim was removed, his son Jehoiachin reigned in his place (8).
In Jehoiachin we have yet another boy-king, who was placed on the throne at Jerusalem at the tender age of eight, where he reigned a mere three months and ten days, also doing evil in God’s sight (9). King Nebuchadnezzar was apparently dissatisfied with Jehoiachin, as well, since verse 10 tells us he “summoned him and took him to Babylon, with the costly articles from the house of the LORD, and made Zedekiah, Jehoiakim’s brother, king over Judah and Jerusalem.”
According to verse 11, Zedekiah, Josiah’s third son, was 21 years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. I am not sure how this could be possible, considering 1 Chronicles 3:15 makes him older than Shallum/Jehoahaz, who was 23 when he was coronated, and then over eleven years elapsed from that time until Zedekiah was made king in place of the son of their older brother Jehoiakim. I am inclined to believe that one of the following scenarios explains this discrepancy:
- The birth-order of the sons of Josiah, given in 1 Chronicles 3:15 is inaccurate, most likely having been recorded by Ezra the scribe about a century after the fact.
- The age of Zedekiah should have been somewhere in his mid-thirties.
- The ages of the other brothers is off.
- The length of Jehoiakim’s administration was less than eleven years.
We are told that Zedekiah was another evil king—especially in that he “did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke the word of the LORD” (2 Chron 36:12, NIV). He broke his solemn oath of allegiance, when he rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar (v. 13).
Not only was King Zedekiah bad, but all the other leaders of the priests and the people committed increasingly more sin—even behaving as badly as the nations God had displaced for them—and defiled the temple of YHWH (14). Even thought their compassionate God sent frequent warnings through the prophets, these corrupt leaders “mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, till there was no remedy” (15-16).
That’s why God finally brought against Judah the Chaldean army, “who killed their young men with the sword in…their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, on the aged or the weak…” (17). Nebuchadnezzar had every item of value carried off from the temple, the palace and the homes of all the noblemen of Jerusalem to Babylon (18). Everything else they burned to the ground (19). As prophesied in Jeremiah 25:1-14, the survivors were “carried away to Babylon, where they became servants to [King Nebuchadnezzar] and his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia,” allowing the land of Israel to enjoy seventy years’ worth of missed Sabbaths (2 Chron. 36:20-21).
2 Chronicles ends with the same words with which the historical book of Ezra begins [further evidence to support the priest’s authorship/editorial work]: “In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm…” (2 Chron 36:22, NIV). King Cyrus believed that YHWH had given him all the kingdoms of the earth and appointed him to commission the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem (v. 23). Therefore, 70 years after the first wave of deportees were carried off to Babylon, the conqueror of the Chaldeans invited God’s people to return to undertake the work.
If one were to sum up the theme of this volume of history, I think it could be found in 2 Chronicles 16:9 “…the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.” In every generation, God is looking for someone who will give their heart to Him and allow Him to work through them. Just as he strengthened Hezekiah, when he faced the Assyrian hordes, and Josiah, when he attempted to rid the land of idols, so God is looking to use each of us mightily to bring about change in our world, if we will let Him. Even the person who has been a rebel, like Manasseh, God can transform and make the bad things of their lives into something good.
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