The Second Book of Chronicles - Introduction
The Second Book of Chronicles takes up the history of the monarchy where the First Book breaks off. It begins with the account of the reign of Solomon from the special viewpoint of the Chronicler. The portrait of Solomon is an idealized one; he appears as second only to David. The great achievement of the building of the temple and the magnificence of Solomon's court are described in detail while the serious defects of his reign are passed over without comment. All this 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 would have to conform.
In treating the period of divided monarchy, the Chronicler gives practically all his attention to the kingdom of Judah. His omission of the northern Israelite kings is significant. In his view, the northern tribes of Israel were in religious schism as long as they worshiped Yahweh in a place other than the temple of Jerusalem. The Chronicler makes no mention of the important sanctuaries of Yahweh at Dan and Bethel—as though they had never existed. Nevertheless he retains the ancient ideal of “all Israel” (a phrase occuring forty-one times in Chronicles) as the people of God. The condition he places for a united people is that “the whole congregation of Israel” worship the Lord only in his temple at Jerusalem. This explains his praise of Kings Hezekiah and Josiah for striving, after the fall of Samaria, to unite the remnants of the northern tribes of Israel into the kingdom of Judah.
At the end of the fifth century B.C., during the Chronicler's own time, “the people of the land” were the descendants of the people of all the tribes (including Judah) who had not gone into exile. These had become intermingled with aliens and had evolved a religion of Yahweh very different from the Judaism that developed during the Babylonian exile. Thus, religious and political cooperation between the returned exiles and these “people of the land” was out of the question for the Chronicler. This he clearly shows in the last part of his work, the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah.
The Second Book of Chronicles is divided as follows:
I:The Reign of Solomon ( 1, 1–9, 31 ).
II:he Monarchy before Hezekiah ( 10, 1–27, 9 ).
III:Reforms of Hezekiah and Josiah ( 28, 1–36, 1 ).
IV:End of the Kingdom ( 36, 2–23 ).