Chronicles: Pace

April 16, 2011

I Chronicles 11-II Chronicles 9 covers 80 years of kingly reign, split evenly between two kings.  That’s nearly approaching glacial speeds.  II Chronicles 10-28 on the other hand flies by.  12 kings, 270 years, 19 chapters.  That’s fast.  Kings are filling up chapters or even parts of chapters as the story speeds by.  We’ve already seen how willing the Chroniclers is to shape the story using whatever narrative tools he deems necessary.

So, what intention is expressed in the quick pace of this section?

  • It allows Israel to build a reputation of sin.  Only one of the 12 kings in this period rules without a stain on his record.
  • It sets Israel firmly on the path to judgement.  We’ve known it all along, its just becoming more certain along the way.
  • Perhaps most important of all, the quick pace puts distance between God’s promises to David/Solomon and the current narrative situation, allowing doubt to creep in.  With all this mess, could God really still honor his promises?  Would he really heal us if we turn to him?  Will he still send his king to rule?
As the book progresses, the Chronicler speeds up the pace as a major movement toward the book’s final climax.

Chronicles: Solomon’s Covenant

April 14, 2011

I Kings 9:1-9 lays out God’s response to Solomon’s build and dedicating of the Temple:

After Solomon finished building the LORD’s temple, the royal palace, and all the other construction projects he had planned, the LORD appeared to Solomon a second time, in the same way he had appeared to him at Gibeon. The LORD said to him, “I have answered your prayer and your request for help that you made to me. I have consecratedthis temple you built by making it my permanent home; I will be constantly present there. You must serve me with integrity and sincerity, just as your father David did. Do everything I commanded and obey my rules and regulations. Then I will allow your dynasty to rule over Israel permanently, just as I promised your father David, ‘You will notfail to have a successor on the throne of Israel.

“But if you or your sons ever turn away from me, fail to obey the regulations and rules I instructed you to keep, and decide to serve and worship other gods, then I will remove Israel from the land I have given them, I will abandon this temple I have consecratedwith my presence, and Israel will be mocked and ridiculed among all the nations.  This temple will become a heap of ruins; everyone who passes by it will be shocked and will hiss out their scorn, saying, ‘Why did the LORD do this to this land and this temple?’ Others will then answer, ‘Because they abandoned the LORD their God, who led their ancestors out of Egypt. They embraced other gods whom they worshiped and served. That is why the LORD has brought all this disaster down on them.’”

Good old Solomonic covenant right.  So, Chronicles just repeats the same thing right?  No.  Ooooooh, no my friends!  Here’s the Chronicler’s take:

After Solomon finished building the LORD’s temple and the royal palace, and accomplished all his plans for the LORD’s temple and his royal palace, the LORDappeared to Solomon at night and said to him: “I have answered your prayer and chosenthis place to be my temple where sacrifices are to be made.  When I close up the sky so that it doesn’t rain, or command locusts to devour the land’s vegetation, or send a plague among my people, if my people, who belong to me, humble themselves, pray,seek to please me, and repudiate their sinful practices, then I will respond from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.  Now I will be attentive and responsive to the prayers offered in this place. Now I have chosen and consecrated this temple bymaking it my permanent home; I will be constantly present there.  You must serveme as your father David did. Do everything I commanded and obey my rules and regulations.  Then I will establish your dynasty, just as I promised your father David, ‘You will not fail to have a successor ruling over Israel.’

“But if you people ever turn away from me, fail to obey the regulations and rules I instructed you to keep, and decide to serve and worship other gods, then I will remove you from my land I have given you, I will abandon this temple I haveconsecrated with my presence, and I will make you an object of mockery and ridicule among all the nations.  As for this temple, which was once majestic, everyone who passes by it will be shocked and say, ‘Why did the LORD do this to this land and this temple?’ Others will then answer, ‘Because they abandoned the LORD God of their ancestors, who led them out of Egypt. They embraced other gods whom they worshiped and served. That is why he brought all this disaster down on them.’”

Whereas Solomon’s covenant makes sense of exile in Kings, it more precisely clarifies how the post-judgment people are to make their way back to God (in bold above)–a very pertinent bit of information for the inferred audience of Chronicles.


Chronicles: David/Solomon

April 13, 2011

Think about David.  What do you think of?  Goliath?  “Saul killed his thousands, David his ten thousands”?  Saul chasing David?  David and Jonathan?  David’s adultery with Bathsheba and subsequent murder of Uriah?  Tamar’s rape?  Absolom’s rebellion?  David the old man who can’t keep himself warm?  David’s psalms?  Adonijah’s attempt to usurp Solomon?  If that’s what you think when you think “David”, then you’re not thinking Chronicles.

Think about Solomon.  What do you think of?  700 wives?  300 concubines?  Solomon the idolater whose heart is drawn away? Solomon the worshipper of Astarte, Milcom and Chemosh?  Solomon the king beset by enemies from Edom and Syria?  Solomon the one whose sin caused God to tear ten tribes away from David’s line?  If that’s what you think when you think “Solomon”, then you’re not thinking Chronicles.

Chronicles spends very little effort portraying either David as the great warrior or Solomon as the great breaker of Deuteronomy’s description of Israel’s ideal king (Dt. 17).  Alternately, the identities of both kings are almost completely related to the Temple.

  • David becomes king and captures the Holy City (I Ch 11-12)
  • David moves the Ark to Jerusalem (I Ch 13-15)
  • David leads in worship (I Ch 16)
  • David wants to build God a house (I Ch 17)
  • David consolidates the kingdom, amasses wealth.  Result: collecting necessary gold, silver, bronze, etc. for building the Temple (I Ch 18-20)
  • Sin in the census leads David to purchase the Temple site (I Ch 21-22:1)
  • David commissions Solomon to build the temple and prepares everything (I Ch 22-27)
  • Solomon made king, people contribute, David celebrates and dies (I Ch 28-29)

Temple, temple, temple.  The idea spends basically his whole self consumed with leading the people in worship and preparing for the building of God’s house (Remember the questions supplied by Chronicles genealogy).

Similarly, Solomon is not the horrible guy we’ve come to know from I Kings.  Take a look:

  • God gives Solomon wisdom (II Ch 1)
  • Solomon builds the temple (II Ch 2-4)
  • Solomon leads the people in worship, dedicates the Temple, God responds by fire (II Ch 5-7:10)
  • God’s responds to Solomon (II Ch 7:11-22)
  • Solomon spends the rest of his reign amassing wealth and gaining worldwide acclaim (II Ch 8-9)

Yes, Chronicles mentions some of Solomon’s sin (horses and gold; leaving out the wives and idolatry), but for the most part, Solomon is a positive example.

Again, the Chronicler is not bent on showing us how sinful the kings are (thus justifying exile), but answering the question of what God’s coming king will be like.

 


Chronicles to Luke/Matthew

December 22, 2009

We were discussing in Old Testament History and Poetry class the other day the genealogy of Chronicles and how the chronicler sets up the genealogy to help clarify his view of history: the chronicles genealogy starts at Adam and rushes to David, gets to David and slows down, and then continues on. The chronicler’s genealogy emphasizes the importance of David in all of history, that the genealogy of Israel is rushing towards that one man, and from him all history revolves itself. It is not Moses, or Abraham, or Israel(Jacob) but David. Which got me to thinking about genealogies.

In Matthew and Luke are two different genealogies, and scholars have commented on how they prove Jesus right to the Davidic throne and legitimizes Jesus family line. But what if, like Chronicles does, it also points out Jesus importance in all of history. In Matthew especially we see the book beginning with genealogy (a genealogy following the genealogies of Chronicles if the OT is taken in TaNaK order), rushing from Abraham, stopping at David, picking up again to Exile, then up to Jesus. And after that, the book slows down and tells us the story of Jesus, what he has done, who he is, his death and resurrection. And Luke begins with Jesus, and traces itself backwards to Adam, not even bothering to stop, as Matthew did, at David or Abraham, but continues to Adam, as if laying out that from Adam all history has been moving to the time when Jesus would come, which when he does the book of Luke slows down, explaining Christ, and then after his death, much like Chronicles does, goes on to further explain the acts of the apostles in Acts, sort of like a 2 Chronicles in the NT.

So what do you think? Could the genealogies not only legitimize Jesus but also act as an explanation of what all of history has been moving towards, the focal point on which everything was coming to, and is now moving from? Could Luke and Matthew use the genealogy to rearrange history?

Cameron


Good job, Rehoboam

June 12, 2008

So I noticed a little something the other day in 2 Chronicles the other day that was fun. And interesting. It is the fact that I have A.D.D. Just kidding. I didn’t notice that.

So there is this king, Rehoboam, who comes after David and Solomon, sort of (it could be said that Absalom was the next king, but he really didn’t ascend all the way) and unlike David and Solomon, Rehoboam doesn’t do too well. He isn’t terrible by any means, but he’s not that hot either. But what I want to talk about is probably the defining act of Rehoboam: if there is anything to remember about him it is that this king was the cause of the splitting of Israel into the southern and northern tribes. This is 2 Chronicles 10:

10:1 Rehoboam traveled to Shechem, for all Israel had gathered in Shechem to make Rehoboam king. 10:2 When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard the news, he was still in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon. Jeroboam returned from Egypt. 10:3 They sent for him and Jeroboam and all Israel came and spoke to Rehoboam, saying, 10:4 “Your father made us work too hard! Now if you lighten the demands he made and don’t make us work as hard, we will serve you.” 10:5 He said to them, “Go away for three days, then return to me.” So the people went away. 10:6 King Rehoboam consulted with the older advisers who had served his father Solomon when he had been alive. He asked them, “How do you advise me to answer these people?” 10:7 They said to him, “If you are fair to these people, grant their request, and are cordial to them, they will be your servants from this time forward.” 10:8 But Rehoboam rejected their advice and consulted the young advisers who served him, with whom he had grown up. 10:9 He asked them, “How do you advise me to respond to these people who said to me, ‘Lessen the demands your father placed on us’?” 10:10 The young advisers with whom Rehoboam had grown up said to him, “Say this to these people who have said to you, ‘Your father made us work hard, but now lighten our burden’ – say this to them: ‘I am a lot harsher than my father! 10:11 My father imposed heavy demands on you; I will make them even heavier. My father punished you with ordinary whips; I will punish you with whips that really sting your flesh.’” 10:12 Jeroboam and all the people reported to Rehoboam on the third day, just as the king had ordered when he said, “Return to me on the third day.” 10:13 The king responded to the people harshly. He rejected the advice of the older men 10:14 and followed the advice of the younger ones. He said, “My father imposed heavy demands on you; I will make them even heavier. My father punished you with ordinary whips; I will punish you with whips that really sting your flesh.”

After this Jeroboam leads the northern tribes to rebel against the king and they create the northern Kingdom of Israel. Good job, Rehoboam. Those young guys were really good with their advice.

But I bring this up though because of another person who does do a good job. Let’s see who that is.

 11:28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 11:29 Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 11:30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.”

This little quote comes from Matthew 11 and is spoken by none other than… Jesus! And interesting is that Matthew includes in the geneaology of Jesus, Matthew 1:7 “Solomon the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa.” An interesting juxtaposition as Rehoboam is saying come to me and I will make your burdens heavy, and Jesus is saying come to me and I will make your burden light. Jesus, coming from the line of kings who weren’t always the best and who actually were willing to force harsher weights on their people, is reversing that and doing what would have been wise, to lighten the load.

And to finish it, a few verses after the 2 Chronicles quote is:

10:16 When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, the people answered the king, “We have no portion in David – no share in the son of Jesse! Return to your homes, O Israel! Now, look after your own dynasty, O David!”

Now I’m saying this is explicitely what is going on, but it seems like Jesus, in reversing the ruling of Rehoboam, is now including the people into the portion of David, the share of the son of Jesse. Jesus is once again including the people and bringing them back to Him. Where once the kings pushed the people out of the inheritance of David, now the King is bringing them back in, saying that they have a place in the dynasty.

I thought it was pretty cool.


Time-traveling Jehoshaphat!

June 2, 2008

It seems that there are many times in the Bible where the story is telling events as they come along in a chronological order, or the author might be stepping back and revisiting events to prove something, or point something out, or because he’s crazy. You pick which one you want.

So we have an event here in 2 Chronicles that spans chapters 17 through 20 that is quite long and involving, so I will only pick out a few things that I find interesting. The event that I want to point out mostly though is the sending out of judges and the Book of the Law into the people, to teach them the fear of the Lord. Now this event either happens twice, or it is merely repeated twice here:

17:7 In the third year of his reign he sent his officials Ben-Hail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel, and Micaiah to teach in the cities of Judah. 17:8 They were accompanied by the Levites Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah, and Tob-Adonijah, and by the priests Elishama and Jehoram. 17:9 They taught throughout Judah, taking with them the scroll of the law of the Lord. They traveled to all the cities of Judah and taught the people.

And:

19:4 Jehoshaphat lived in Jerusalem. He went out among the people from Beer Sheba to the hill country of Ephraim and encouraged them to follow the Lord God of their ancestors. 19:5 He appointed judges throughout the land and in each of the fortified cities of Judah. 19:6 He told the judges, “Be careful what you do, for you are not judging for men, but for the Lord, who will be with you when you make judicial decisions. 19:7 Respect the Lord and make careful decisions, for the Lord our God disapproves of injustice, partiality, and bribery.”19:8 In Jerusalem Jehoshaphat appointed some Levites, priests, and Israelite family leaders to judge on behalf of the Lord and to settle disputes among the residents of Jerusalem. 19:9 He commanded them: “Carry out your duties with respect for the Lord, with honesty, and with pure motives. 19:10 Whenever your countrymen who live in the cities bring a case before you (whether it involves a violent crime or other matters related to the law, commandments, rules, and regulations), warn them that they must not sin against the Lord. If you fail to do so, God will be angry with you and your colleagues; but if you obey, you will be free of guilt. 19:11 You will report to Amariah the chief priest in all matters pertaining to the Lord’s law, and to Zebadiah son of Ishmael, the leader of the family of Judah, in all matters pertaining to the king. The Levites will serve as officials before you. Confidently carry out your duties! May the Lord be with those who do well!”

 A little information might be needed though as we look at what happens between these two “events” stated. Chapter 17 starts out the story of Jehoshaphat and how he walked in the way of the Lord and sent out the judges and priests to teach the ways of the Lord. He was greatly blessed for doing this and the fear of the Lord falls upon the other nations surrounding Judah (since Israel and Judah had by this time split). Then Ahab, the Israelite king who hunted down a great white whale named Moby Dick, gives one of his daughters to Jehoshaphat in marriage and a few years later Ahab and Jehoshaphat come together to do battle against the Arameans. This whole event also has some really interesting things going on as a prophet prophesies against the kings, we have a scene in heaven with the Lord talking to the angels, then back down to the kings again, some people get slapped, a king gets shot and dies, and Jehoshaphat returns to Judah defeated; sounds like alot. So we then have chapter 19 where the event of the sending out the judges and priests to teach the Book of the Law to the people is talked about again. A little more detail is given this time and Jehoshaphat actually states what the judges are to do. Now the question arises though whether this is a retelling of the sending of the judges, or another time when the judges are sent. Does Jehoshaphat do it twice? Or is the author attempting to show us something else?

An interesting thing too is that in chapter 20 Jehoshaphat goes out to war once again, but this time the people of Judah come before the Lord and ask Him what to do about the people attacking them. And this time they actually do what God tells them to do.

So it goes like this: the judges are sent out, Jehoshaphat goes to war and loses because he didn’t listen to the prophet of the Lord. The judges are sent out, Jehoshaphat goes out to war and wins because he listens to the prophet of the Lord. But is each sending of the judges a different time, or the same? And what might the author be telling us by doing this?