THE SECOND BOOK OF CHRONICLES
The Second Book of Chronicles takes up the history of the monarchy where the First Book leaves off. It begins with the account of the reign of Solomon (chaps. 1–9) from the special viewpoint of the Chronicler. The portrait of Solomon is an idealized one; he appears as second only to David. Solomon’s building of the Temple and the magnificence of his court are described in detail while the serious defects of his reign as cited in 1 Kings are simply not mentioned. This procedure is in keeping with the Chronicler’s purpose of stressing the supreme importance of the Temple and its worship. He wishes to impress on his readers the splendor of God’s dwelling and the magnificence of the liturgy of sacrifice, prayer, and praise offered there. Judah’s kings are judged by their attitude toward the Temple and its cult. To this ideal of one people, united in the worship of the one true God at the Temple of Jerusalem founded by David and Solomon, the restored community is to conform.
In treating the period of divided monarchy (chaps. 10–36), the Chronicler gives practically all his attention to the kingdom of Judah. His virtual omission of the northern Israelite kings is significant. In his view, the northern tribes of Israel were guilty of religious schism as long as they worshiped the Lord in a place other than the Temple of Jerusalem. The Chronicler makes no mention of the important sanctuaries of Yhwh at Dan and Bethel—as though they had never existed. Nevertheless, he retains the ancient ideal of “all Israel” (a phrase occurring forty-one times in Chronicles) as the people of God. This unity, however, can exist only if the worship of “the whole congregation of Israel” takes place exclusively in the Jerusalem Temple. This requirement explains the Chronicler’s praise of Kings Hezekiah and Josiah for striving, after the fall of Samaria, to unite the remnants of the northern tribes of Israel with the kingdom of Judah. Nevertheless, after Josiah’s death, Judah quickly careens toward its demise at the hands of the Babylonians. That catastrophe is reversed by the edict of Cyrus allowing a return to Jerusalem and rebuilding of the Temple. Thus 2 Chronicles ends.
The Second Book of Chronicles can be divided into two major segments as follows:
I. The Reign of Solomon (1:1–9:31)
II. The Post-Solomonic Monarchy of Judah (10:1–36:23)