Friday Bible Blogging Archive

Friday, October 11, 2013

Friday Bible Blogging - 2 Chronicles 21 to 2 Chronicles 30

This entry is part of a series. For a listing of all entries in the series, go to the Index. Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV).

BibleToday marks a mini milestone in this series - it's 1 year anniversary. My first post, Friday Bible Blogging - Introduction and Picking a Translation was posted on October 12th, 2012. Today is October 11th, 2013 - just one day short of a full year. I've covered 397 verses as of today, which is a bit short of my original goal of averaging 10 verses per week, but not too bad. At least I've stuck with it and stayed pretty consistent.

Chapters 21 through 30 of 2 Chronicles continue on with the narrative. Like I wrote last week, it's now a little more than just a summary of what was in Kings. At least there's a bit of new information, but it's still largely repetitious and subsequently a bit boring.

2 Chronicles, Chapter 21

Jehoshaphat's story was pretty much finished in the previous chapter, but the first verse of this chapter was where it was finally noted that he died. His son Jehoram succeeded him. Jehoram was a bad king, "He walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done; for the daughter of Ahab was his wife. He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord." He'd even killed all his brothers and a few court officials when he took the throne to eliminate any chance of competition. And actually, while Jehoram was presented as a bad king in Kings, he's presented even worse here. Interestingly, Elisha was left out of the account in Chronicles.

This chapter was basically a detailed accounting of Jehoram's transgressions, and the ways he was punished for it. This included Edom revolting, being invaded by Philistines, Arabs, and Ethiopians (or Cushites), and a rather unpleasant bowl disease, "After all this the Lord struck him in his bowels with an incurable disease. In course of time, at the end of two years, his bowels came out because of the disease, and he died in great agony."

When Jehoram died, the people didn't honor him at all, "He departed with no one's regret."

An interesting aspect from this chapter was that Elijah delivered a prophecy to Jehoram through a letter. Prophecies had always been spoken in Kings. According to the New Oxford Annotated Bible (NOAB), it "reflects the increasing significance of a written book-culture in the Chronicler's time".

2 Chronicles, Chapter 22

Following Jehoram's death, his son Ahaziah ruled briefly - about a year. He was also a bad king, but was assassinated by Jehu before he could do too many terrible things. Somewhat brutally, the reason for Ahaziah's death was because Jehu " was executing judgement on the house of Ahab". In other words, he was killed not for his own sins, but those of his grandfather. But since his other grandfather was the noble Jehoshaphat, he was at least given a proper burial.

In the end of the chapter, Ahaziah's mother, Athalia, took the throne. Just like in Kings, she was presented negatively, attempting to kill all of David's descendants. But her sister, Jehoshabeath, managed to save one boy, Joash, keeping David's line from being completely eradicated.

2 Chronicles, Chapter 23

Chapter 23 covered the retelling of the story of a group of loyalists led by the priest, Jehoida, revolting against Athalia, bringing Joash to power (who was still just a boy), and killing Athaliah. Jehoida renewed the covenant between the people and the Lord, and all of the non-Jewish religious paraphernalia was torn down and destroyed, along with killing the priest of Baal, Mattan.

If I stop and try to envision all this as real, it really does seem quite tumultuous and barbaric. Just imagine if a group of evangelical Christians took over the government in this country, and went around destroying every church & temple that wasn't their particular religion and killing all those priests - Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Catholics, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, etc. Calling it unnecessarily violent is an understatement. But, unfortunately, this story doesn't sound unrealistic - I can easily imagine an episode like this happening in ancient Judah.

2 Chronicles, Chapter 24

Chapter 24 covered the actual reign of Joash. Following the Chronicler's more typical motif, Joash began as a good king, and then later in his reign abandoned the Lord. The first part of his reign, when he was still good, was under the influence of the priest, Jehoiada. He had the temple repaired along with its furnishings.

But once Jehoiada died, "They abandoned the house of the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and served the sacred poles and the idols." God sent prophets to try to bring them back to faithfulness, but they wouldn't listen. Gode even "took possession of Zechariah son of the priest Jehoiada", and used him to deliver a speech, but Joash had Zechariah killed.

Because of Joash and Judah's unfaithfulness, The army of Aram invaded and Joash was wounded. While he lay recovering on his bed, he was killed by his servants in revenge for the death of Zechariah.

2 Chronicles, Chapter 25

Amaziah was next in line. His story was similar - starting off good, then turning to other gods. After first killing the murderers of his father, he assembled a force to attack Seir. He had actually hired warriors from Israel, but "a man of God came to him and said, 'O king, do not let the army of Israel go with you, for the Lord is not with Israel...' " I find this interesting on two fronts - first that God's chosen people were so thoroughly abandoned and disdained by God. I suspect this is the Chronicler's prejudice against Israel. The other was the idea that I discussed last week, that God doesn't want people trying their best to use Earthly means to accomplish what needs to be done, but to instead rely solely on faith.

After defeating Seir, Amaziah brought back their gods and set them up to worship them. This really is unbelievable as presented here. After just having won a battle thanks to the Lord's support, why would Amaziah immediately abandon the Lord for these new gods?

As punishment, Judah was defeated by Israel in battle, Jerusalem was plundered, and Ahaziah was captured, but he wasn't killed. And here I lose the story a bit, but it appears that Ahaziah must have been released by the king of Israel. However, there was still a group in Jerusalem faithful to God. Amaziah fled to Lachish, but they tracked him down and killed him.

2 Chronicles, Chapter 26

With Amaziah dead, his son Uzziah was made king. His coverage was more extensive here than it was in Kings, and the NOAB noted that while some of it may have come from other sources, some of it was probably created by the Chronicler.

His reign followed the same motif of going from good to bad, but his bad aspect wasn't really all that bad. In the first part of his reign, he was victorious in wars with various neighbors of Judah, including the Philistines. He established new cities in some of the conquered territory. He built cisterns and other public works, and just in general had a good reign.

However, "when he had become strong he grew proud, to his destruction." He went into the temple and tried to "to make offering on the altar of incense". But he wasn't a priest, so it wasn't his place to do so. He was struck with a leprous disease on his forehead. "King Uzziah was leprous to the day of his death, and being leprous lived in a separate house, for he was excluded from the house of the Lord." Because of his exile, his son Jotham ruled in his place, and then assumed the throne once Uzziah died.

2 Chronicles, Chapter 27

Jotham received very short coverage. Chapter 27 is only 9 verses long. He had a good reign, continuing on in his father's tradition, minus the ill-fated attempt at being a priest. There's not even any mention of him turning away from the Lord.

2 Chronicles, Chapter 28

Ahaz became king after Jotham died. His reign started off bad:

he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel. He even made cast images for the Baals; 3and he made offerings in the valley of the son of Hinnom, and made his sons pass through fire, according to the abominable practices of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel. 4He sacrificed and made offerings on the high places, on the hills, and under every green tree.

Note that 'passing through fire' may be a reference to human sacrifice.

Most of the chapter was a detailing of military defeats Judah suffered because of Ahaz. One of these defeats was to Israel, who took many Judeans captive. However, the Lord sent a prophet, Obed, to tell the Israelites not to make slaves of the Judeans, and so the captives were released. This is odd. Look back to Chapter 25, and God's attitude toward Israel. But here he is in this chapter giving them victory over Judah (albeit, mostly because of Judah's sins), and sending a prophet to speak to them directly. And the Israelites actually listened to the prophet, so apparently they hadn't completely abandoned their faith in the Lord.

This also drives home something I haven't discussed as much recently - collective punishment. All of Judah was being punished for Ahaz's crimes.

2 Chronicles, Chapter 29

After Ahaz died, Hezekiah became king, and he received fairly extensive coverage in Chronicles - four chapters worth. The focus was different than Kings. While the earlier book focused on the invasion by Sennacherib, this book focused more on the restoration of the temple and religious practices. Like his coverage of Uzziah, the Chronicler appears to have invented some details in this story.

Chapter 29 was mostly about re-opening and repairing the temple, re-instituting the priests and Levites, restoring all the furnishings, etc. Of course, there were the requisite sacrifices, "seven bulls, seven rams, seven lambs, and seven male goats for a sin-offering" to sanctify the altar, and "seventy bulls, one hundred rams, and two hundred lambs" for burnt offerings, along with " six hundred bulls and three thousand sheep" for consecration offerings. It must have been a bloody affair.

2 Chronicles, Chapter 30

Chapter 30 contained the story of Hezekiah re-instituting the Passover celebration. Apparently, there hadn't been a large scale Passover since the time of David and Solomon. Hezekiah sent letters to all of Judah and Israel, but only a handful of Israelites joined the festival. The use of letters is again noteworthy, signaling the importance of the written word to the Chronicler. And again, there were more sacrifices and dashing of blood.

There was a passage here that seemed out of character for the vengeful God I've become used to. Many of the people hadn't cleansed themselves properly before eating the Passover meal. In previous books, I'd expect a harsh punishment from God for not following proper protocol, but here he didn't seem to be too mad. "But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, 'The good Lord pardon all who set their hearts to seek God, the Lord the God of their ancestors, even though not in accordance with the sanctuary's rules of cleanness.' The Lord heard Hezekiah, and healed the people."

Another interesting passage was how Hezekiah used letters to spread word of the Passover celebration, again showing the importance of the written word to the Chronicler. The NOAB had an interesting footnote on this, "The distribution of royal declarations by missives was common in the Persian period. The Persian empire was renowned for its international postal system."


I don't have any particularly new thoughts to add here that I haven't already written about Chronicles. I can say that I'm actually a little excited that next week is my last Chronicles entry. I'll be done with it, and can finally move on to something new and hopefully a little more interesting.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Friday Bible Blogging - 2 Chronicles 11 to 2 Chronicles 20

This entry is part of a series. For a listing of all entries in the series, go to the Index. Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV).

BibleChapters 11 through 20 of 2 Chronicles pick up shortly after the time of Solomon, and continue on with several of the kings of Judah. As I mentioned last week, the Chronicler didn't consider the Israelite kings to be legitimate, and so didn't discuss them much, other than in how they affected Judah. One change in these chapters compared to previous chapters of Chronicles - there's now actually a bit more detail than there was in Kings for the monarchs that actually are covered. This extra information is mostly brief descriptions of the blessings the kings received, following the Chroniclers motif of faithful to God - blessings, unfaithful to God - punishment.

I'll be honest - this is getting tedious. It was bad enough reading about all these monarchs the first time around. Reading about them again, even with the little bit of extra information, is pretty boring.

2 Chronicles, Chapter 11

Chapter 11 contained the details of the positive aspects Rehoboam's reign, from an intended campaign against Israel that God called off, to a list of his wives and sons.

In describing Jeroboam's revisions to Israeli religious customs, there was a mention of something interesting that wasn't included in Kings - priests for the "goat-demons".

2 Chronicles, Chapter 12

Once Rehoboam became powerful, he turned away from God. So, this chapter contained the details of the negative aspects of his reign, particularly an invasion by Egypt and the subsequent plundering of Judah's treasures. At the end of the chapter, Rehoboam "slept with his ancestors and was buried in the city of David".

2 Chronicles, Chapter 13

This chapter gave a completely different account of Abijah than Kings. While in 1 Kings 15, when Abijah was described, it was "He committed all the sins that his father did before him; his heart was not true to the Lord his God, like the heart of his father David," here in 2 Chronicles, Abijah was described defending the Lord.

The New Oxford Annotated Bible (NOAB) noted a textual issue in this chapter concerning the name of Abijah's mother. According to the NOAB, "The Hebrew gives Abijah's mother a Yahwistic name (meaning "Who is like the Lord"), whereas the ancient versions name her "Maacah" in conformity with 1 Kings 15.2 and 2 Chr 11.20."

To me, the most interesting part of this chapter was how the battle played out between Abijah of Judah and Jeroboam of Israel. God actually fought for Judah, "when the people of Judah shouted, God defeated Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah." After that, Abijah's men went in for the requisite slaughter.

2 Chronicles, Chapter 14

Chapter 14 begins the story of Abijah's son, Asa. As noted in the NOAB, the coverage devoted to Asa is much more extensive here in Chronicles than it was in kings. The first half of the chapter was devoted to Asa's public works and his removal of religious installations that weren't devoted to Yahweh. The second half dealt with a battle between Judah and a group whose name depends on the translation - either Ehtiopians, Nubians, or Cushites. Again, there's mention of direct intervention by God in the battle, "So the Lord defeated the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah, and the Ethiopians fled." And of course, the Judeans pursued and slaughtered the remnants of that army, and then went on to plunder the surrounding cities.

2 Chronicles, Chapter 15

Chapter 15 continued on with the good period of Asa's reign - a prophecy from Azariah son of Oded, and Asa and the people of Judah subsequently committing themselves to the Lord. It stated that "King Asa even removed his mother Maacah from being queen mother because she had made an abominable image for Asherah."

There was one verse I found interesting in the context of the people in the modern age who disparage Islam as being violent towards infidels, while implying that the Judeo/Christian tradition is peaceful. Consider verses 12 and 13, "They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, with all their heart and with all their soul. Whoever would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, should be put to death, whether young or old, man or woman."

2 Chronicles, Chapter 16

This is where Asa's reign went downhill. King Baasha of Israel "went up against Judah, and built Ramah, to prevent anyone from going out or coming into the territory of King Asa of Judah." To defend Judah, Asa formed an alliance with King Ben-hadad of Aram. Now, to you and me, that might seem like a reasonable thing to do - becoming a temporary ally of a country to defend yourself against a common enemy. As the old saying goes, God helps those who help themselves. But, that saying isn't actually anywhere in the Bible, and that's not actually the type of thing Yahweh likes. Because of Asa's impertinence in not having complete faith Yahweh, God sent a prophet to condemn him, "You have done foolishly in this; for from now on you will have wars." Asa was further punished with a disease in his feet that lasted until his death (I wonder if feet was still being used as a euphemism for genitals in the Chronicler's time).

2 Chronicles, Chapter 17

As was the case with Asa, the Chronicler has devoted much more coverage to Jehoshaphat than what was in Kings. According to the NOAB, there's debate among scholars on whether this extra information comes from other source material, or whether the Chronicler just made it up from whole cloth. Interestingly, despite there being more material devoted to Jehoshaphat, the prophet, Elijah, is complete absent from the account in Chronicles.

This chapter was devoted to the good aspects of Jehoshaphat's reign - remaining faithful to God, sending out officials to teach the people the ways of the Lord, public works, receiving gifts from other nations, etc. Actually, the NOAB notes that the part about sending out officials to teach "having the book of the law of the Lord with them" may have post-exilic, after the first temple had been sacked and the Torah became much more important.

2 Chronicles, Chapter 18

This chapter contained the story of Jehoshaphat joining forces with Ahab, and the prophecy from Micaiah son of Imlah. All of Ahab's prophets save Micaiah foretold of victory in battle, but Micaiah gave a different story. I still find his prophecy to be very interesting - he saw the Lord sitting around with the rest of the host of heaven, trying to think of a way to mislead Ahab so that he would go into battle and be defeated. Finally, a spirit came forward and offered to go be "a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets". Yahweh apparently liked the idea, and sent the spirit to give the prophets false visions and lead Ahab to his doom. This is just such a strange story. It definitely doesn't present Yahweh as all-knowing, since he's brainstorming with his host to try to figure out a solution to his problem. And he's not particularly nice or honest, either. But then you also have to wonder how Micaiah was able to get the correct prophecy when all the other prophets were mislead. Did Yahweh give him alone the correct vision? Or did Micaiah have some power that allowed him to see even God's secrets? In other words, it seems that Yahweh isn't omnipotent and the source of all power in the universe, but just a powerful being himself, and that there are other sources of magic power, such as Micaiah's vision.

Anyway, like in Kings, Ahab and Jehoshaphat led their forces into battle, with Ahab disguised to try to protect himself, but Ahab still wound up mortally wounded by a stray arrow.

2 Chronicles, Chapter 19

Jehoshaphat escaped the battle and returned safely home, but he was immediately reprimanded by God through a seer, Jehu, for even joining up with Israel, "Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? Because of this, wrath has gone out against you from the Lord." However, after that reprimand, no punishment came. The rest of the chapter dealt with further reforms under Jehoshaphat, appointed judges and priests throughout the land.

2 Chronicles, Chapter 20

An alliance of Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites came to attack Judah. Jehoshaphat proclaimed a fast throughout Judah, and the nation assembled to "seek help from the Lord". Jehoshaphat issued a prayer to God while "all Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children." A prophet, Jahaziel, delivered God's reassurance and instructions - the people of Judah were merely to assemble, but then let God do the fighting. And it came to pass, "When Judah came to the watch-tower of the wilderness, they looked towards the multitude; they were corpses lying on the ground; no one had escaped." Since there was noone left to kill, the Judeans simply plundered what they could.

Jehoshaphat made one more mistake before his death - he worked with the new king of Israel, Ahaziah, to build ships for trade. And again, Yahweh was upset, " 'Because you have joined with Ahaziah, the Lord will destroy what you have made.' And the ships were wrecked and were not able to go to Tarshish."


A thought occured to me while reading these chapters. Many modern day Christians ascribe to the Sola scriptura doctrine - that the Bible contains all the knowledge you need to form the basis of your Christianity. These Christians think of the Bible as a coherent work. If some information is missing in one book, it's available in another. But imagine yourself in the time period in between when Kings was written and when Chronicles was written. Since Chronicles contains information that wasn't in Kings, you wouldn't have had that future information. Your scriptures would have been incomplete. Why would God have provided incomplete scriptures?

The main thing I noticed in these chapters was the pattern I mentioned up in the introduction, where a king do good and be faithful to God and subsequently be rewarded, and then turn from God and be punished.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday Bible Blogging - 2 Chronicles 1 to 2 Chronicles 10

This entry is part of a series. For a listing of all entries in the series, go to the Index. Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV).

BibleAs I've written previously, 1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles were originally one book, and were only separated for convenience to make the manuscripts easier to handle. So, 2 Chronicles continues on in much the same way as 1 Chronicles. The first 9 chapters of 2 Chronicles summarize the reign of Solomon, and chapter 10 begins the summary of his son, Rehoboam. As the New Oxford Annotated Bible (NOAB) pointed out, the Chronicler (i.e. the person who compiled the book) felt the Israelite kings were illegitimate, so unlike the previous books of Kings, the history of 2 Chronicles focuses on the Judean kings.

And as I've written previously, since Chronicles is so similar to Kings, my summaries here will be brief.

2 Chronicles, Chapter 1

While Solomon was mentioned in the last chapter of 1 Chronicles, this is where his story begins in earnest. It includes him gathering all of Israel to make sacrifices to God at the "high place" of Gibeon, the dream he had while there where he asked for the gift of wisdom, and a bit of a description of how wealthy Judah was under his reign.

2 Chronicles, Chapter 2

This chapter began the start of the temple construction, "Solomon decided to build a temple for the name of the Lord, and a royal palace for himself." It included the trading with King Huram of Tyre for certain building materials (in Kings, it was spelled Hiram), getting a skilled artisan from Tyre, and Solomon taking "a census of all the aliens who were residing in the land of Israel" to force them into labor. Chronicles only had non-Israelites as forced labor, in contrast to Kings where Israelites were also forced to help on the temple construction.

2 Chronicles, Chapter 3

Solomon began the actual construction of the temple. Measurements were given for the temple, which matched those from Kings other than the height - 120 cubits here vs. xx cubits in Kings. The temple consisted of three rooms or chambers - the holy of holies in the very back that only certain priests could enter, a larger nave in the middle that wasn't as restricted, and a small vestibule in the front. The NOAB noted that this 'tripartite' design was relatively common in the ancient near east, and can be found in archaeological remains. On the more interesting side, this shows where the temple design evolved from. From the skeptical side, this calls into question why a divinely inspired temple designed by God himself would have merely copied surrounding temples.

This chapter also contained details of decorations and furnishings of the temple.

2 Chronicles, Chapter 4

This chapter contained more detail of the decorations and furnishings of the temple, including the large "cast sea" that rested on twelve oxen. It included the detail that "The sea was for the priests to wash in," which wasn't included in Kings. According to the NOAB, this was another instance of the Chronicler inventing an origin/justification for a practice that existed in his time.

2 Chronicles, Chapter 5

With the temple completed, Solomon had the ark of the covenant moved to its new home, along with sacrifices and celebrations. The final verses of the chapter noted, "the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God." The Chronicler really is showing an active involved God.

If I stop and take a step back, I realized how inured I'm becoming to sacrifice in the Bible. Consider verse 6, "King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel, who had assembled before him, were before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and oxen that they could not be numbered or counted." Think about the bloodshed and slaughter that would be involved in killing so many animals. But there's so much of this type of thing that I just read over this sentence hardly noticing it, and it wasn't until I reviewed the chapter again that it struck me how barbaric it was.

2 Chronicles, Chapter 6

This was mainly one long prayer to God, very closely following 1 Kings 8, some sections verbatim (at least in the translation).

2 Chronicles, Chapter 7

When Solomon had finished with the prayer, there was again a miracle by god that wasn't mentioned in the older version of the story, " fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt-offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the temple." Then there was more sacrificing, consecrating, and a seven day long festival.

God came to Solomon and in a bit of a long passage promised to take care of his chosen people so long as they remained faithful to him and followed his statutes.

2 Chronicles, Chapter 8

This chapter gave short snippets summarizing portions of Solomon's reign - building cities, capturing other cities, taking Pharaoh's daughter for a wife, more sacrifices, organizing the priests, etc.

2 Chronicles, Chapter 9

Chapter 9 contained the story of the visit from the Queen of Sheba. It was largely similar to the account in 1 Kings 10. There was a bit more praising Solomon, such as, " Thus King Solomon excelled all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom." And in the last verse, "Solomon slept with his ancestors and was buried in the city of his father David; and his son Rehoboam succeeded him."

2 Chronicles, Chapter 10

Jeroboam's reign began, repeating the story of the elders coming to him to "lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke that he placed on us," and Jeroboam's subsequent refusal to do so, "My little finger is thicker than my father's loins. Now, whereas my father laid on you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions." This led to the breakup of the united kingdom, with most of Israel following Rehoboam, and Jeroboam leading the tribe of Judah, "So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day."


As I've noted previously, the Chronicler has idealized David and Solomon, removing details that portray them in a bad light, and adding some details that make them look better. But with that in mind, it is interesting that in some respects, the portrayal of Solomon in 2 Chronicles is more believable than that in 1 Kings. In that older book, Solomon's reputation and people's reaction to him was so over the top that it wasn't believable at all. Chronicles didn't play up Solomon's reputation nor his wisdom as extravagantly as Kings.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday Bible Blogging - 1 Chronicles 21 to 1 Chronicles 29

This entry is part of a series. For a listing of all entries in the series, go to the Index. Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV).

BibleChapters 21 through 29 are the final chapters of 1 Chronicles, finishing up the summary of David's rule and transitioning to Solomon's. In keeping with the manner that the Chronicler has idealized David and Solomon, these chapters completely omit all the fighting between David, his sons, and Solomon. There was no revolt by Absalom, no seizing the throne by Adonijah, and no retribution by Solomon against Adonijah. These chapters were split roughly evenly between narrative and lists.

1 Chronicles, Chapter 21

Chapter 21 contains the story of David performing a census, and then God punishing all of Israel because of it. While 2 Samuel 24 didn't give any reason for God's wrath for this action, the chronicler at least tried to give some justification - Satan told David to do it. However, even this is a translation issue, as the New Oxford Annotated Bible indicates that 'an adversary' would have been a better translation than 'Satan'. And this explanation still doesn't explain why God punished Israel for David's action. And the way David was able to head off God's full punishment by intercepting the angel of the Lord and sacrificing some animals in front of him is still odd. And as one final note, God didn't act subtly in this story - no working in mysterious ways. When David offered his sacrifices, "he answered him with fire from heaven on the altar of burnt-offering."

1 Chronicles, Chapter 22

David chose the very location where he'd made those sacrifices as the future location for the temple. In a bit of a difference from previous books, he began stock piling materials for the temple to give to Solomon. This chapter also gave an explanation of why David wasn't fit to build the temple while Solomon was, "you shall not build a house to my name, because you have shed so much blood in my sight on the earth," while Solomon was to be "a man of peace".

1 Chronicles, Chapter 23

The chapter started with a short verse where David appointed Solomon king over Israel, but then moved immediately into lists - how many Levites there were, who was to have what duties, heads of tribes and their sons, etc. Concerning the division of priestly duties described in this chapter, the NOAB had the following interesting notes, "Although attributed to David's initiative, this development, unattested in preexilic texts, is known only in the Second Temple period. It persists to the Roman period (see Lk 1.5). Thus, here the Chronicler is legitimating worship as he knew it by attributing it to David."

1 Chronicles, Chapter 24

More lists of people, their sons, how the lots fell, and their duties.

1 Chronicles, Chapter 25

More of the same.

1 Chronicles, Chapter 26

And more.

1 Chronicles, Chapter 27

And still more.

1 Chronicles, Chapter 28

This chapter began with David giving a speech to all the officials of Israel explaining that Solomon was going to build the temple. Then he addressed Solomon, gave him advice to stay faithful to God, and then gave him detailed plans for the temple, inspired by God, "All this, in writing at the Lord's direction, he made clear to me--the plan of all the works." Then it was a few more instructions on the duties of the priests.

1 Chronicles, Chapter 29

David gave another speech, this time requesting donations for the upcoming temple. And the people donated willingly. Then there was another speech by David, basically a prayer of praise and thanksgiving. Finally, Solomon was crowned king. However, as I mentioned up in my introduction to this entry, the transition was peaceful with the fighting mentioned in other books, "...and also all the sons of King David, pledged their allegiance to King Solomon."

The end of the chapter dealt with David's death - listing the length of his reign, and mentioning other books with details of David, not all of which have made it into the Bible - "the records of the seer Samuel, and in the records of the prophet Nathan, and in the records of the seer Gad".


My impressions of 1 Chronicles remain largely the same as what I've written the past couple weeks. It's a rather brief summary of the history of Israel, pulling from previous sources, including a few books that made it into what is now the Bible. It contains a few contradictions to those earlier Biblical books, along with some supplemental material not included in those books. Perhaps some of the supplemental material is from the other sources, but much of it appears to be the Chroniclers theology shining through, and in so doing creating an idealized vision of David and Solomon. And while the summaries of the narrative portions aren't too bad, the lists and genealogies are rather tedious. It is interesting from a record-keeping standpoint, but not much fun to read.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday Bible Blogging - 1 Chronicles 11 to 1 Chronicles 20

This entry is part of a series. For a listing of all entries in the series, go to the Index. Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV).

BibleChapters 11 through 20 of 1 Chronicles are much less focused on genealogy than the first ten chapters. Rather, these chapters are the beginning of a summary of David's reign, which will be continued in later chapters.

As I stated last week, there are numerous discrepancies between the history given in Chronicles and the history given in earlier books. When it comes to David, many of these discrepancies come down to presenting David in a better light. In particular, many of the stories that reveal negative portions of David's character have been omitted. Also as I wrote last week, since there are so many discrepancies, I don't plan to discuss them all. I'll just list a few examples.

It's interesting that 1 Chronicles isn't exactly chronological. The genealogies I discussed last week went through the Babylonian exile, but then in Chapter 10 it was back in time to Saul. Granted, that particular break in chronology is really due to a break in sections - switching from a simple listing of genealogy to a more in-depth narrative. However, even once the narrative got started, there was still a bit of jumping around. For example, Chapter 9 described the death of Saul, but then Chapter 12 was back to David still in conflict with Saul, "The following are those who came to David at Ziklag, while he could not move about freely because of Saul son of Kish..."

Since so much of what's in these chapters is merely summarizing what came before, I won't go into much detail in my review of each chapter.

1 Chronicles, Chapter 11

Chapter 11 started off with the crowning of David as King over Israel. As the New Oxford Annotated Bible (NOAB) pointed out, this was one of the discrepancies with 2 Samuel. In 1 Chronicles, David was immediately crowned king over all of Israel, whereas in 2 Samuel, he first became king over just Judah, then Benjamin, and then had to struggle to gain control over the northern tribes.

After mentioning the conquering of Jerusalem, the rest of the chapter was a listing of key people in David's army - chiefs, warriors, several a "doer of great deeds" - along with a brief mention of the exploits of a handful of them.

1 Chronicles, Chapter 12

Chapter 12 also consisted mostly of lists - men that joined David and troop counts. There were a few brief details about what some of these people did, along with a short song from Amasai, chief of the Thirty.

1 Chronicles, Chapter 13

This chapter contained the story of when David first attempted to bring the ark back to Jerusalem, including the death of Uzzah and David's subsequent decision to leave the ark with Obed-edom. This story still strikes me for how unreasonable it makes God appear. Just to refresh your memory, while the ark was being transported, the oxen shook the wagon it was on, so Uzzah put out his hand to catch the ark and keep it from falling. But the ark was sacred, and wasn't supposed to be touched by human hands. So, even though Uzzah was merely trying to keep the ark from being damaged, "The anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; he struck him down because he put out his hand to the ark; and he died there before God."

1 Chronicles, Chapter 14

There was more summary from previous books - from King Hiram of Tyre sending David gifts to build his palace, to David fighting a couple battles against the Philistines. I was struck by how literal God's aid was in this instance. David could actually hear the heavenly host marching above them to go out to battle, "When you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then go out to battle; for God has gone out before you to strike down the army of the Philistines."

1 Chronicles, Chapter 15

David had his house built. Then he went to recover the ark, and again, there were lists of all the people involved in this endeavor, from the priests, to "the singers to play on musical instruments". There was a brief mention of Michal at the end of the chapter, but not the in-depth account from 2 Samuel 6.

1 Chronicles, Chapter 16

The chapter started off finishing up the account of the ark, then listing all the people involved with its care. Next came a long song of praise and thanksgiving from David to the Lord. The chapter closed with yet another list of people involved in care of the ark.

1 Chronicles, Chapter 17

Chapter 17 was a summary of when David decided to build a temple to God, but God had the prophet, Nathan, deliver the message that that job was going to fall to David's son. This also included David's thanksgiving prayer to God, and the promise from God to create an everlasting house of David.

1 Chronicles, Chapter 18

This chapter was a summary of several of the battles David fought.

1 Chronicles, Chapter 19

The chapter began with the episode with Hanun, who became king of the Ammonites when his father, King Nahash died. This was the one where David sent emissaries to him, but Hanun was convinced they were spies, so shaved their beards and cut their robes and sent them back in disgrace. And of course, the proper response to a slightly worse version of playground bullying is to gather your army and start a war to kill thousands of soldiers who didn't actually participate in the initial bullying. This is what happened, and David was victorious.

1 Chronicles, Chapter 20

This was a rather short chapter, but there are two interesting aspects worth discussing here. The first part of the chapter dealt with the conquering of Rabbah. If you remember from 2 Samuel 11, David stayed behind from this campaign, and while he was back in Jerusalem, he had his affair with Bathsheba, recalled her husband from battle to try to get him to sleep with her so there wouldn't be any suspicion when she turned up pregnant, and then told his commander, Joab, to make sure that the husband died in battle. Since this story made David look especially bad, it was dropped entirely from Chronicles.

The other interesting aspect had to do with Elhanan. If you recall, 2 Samuel 21 described how Elhanan had killed Goliath, contradicting the story from earlier in the book where David had done it. The most likely explanation is that in the earliest version of the story, Elhanan was the hero, but then later, the story was transferred to David. Well, the Chronicler had to tidy up loose ends and fix the contradiction, while at the same time making David look good, so he changed the story such that Elhanan killed Goliath's brother, Lahmi.


After the first 10 chapters of 1 Chronicles, these subsequent chapters were much better. They were still a little heavy into lists, but at least there was a bit of narrative to interest the reader, even if it is abbreviated compared to earlier books.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Selling Out