2 Chronicles - Introduction
Second Chronicles is a continuation of First Chronicles, and the two originally formed one book, as they still do in the traditional Hebrew text. (For an introduction to this work, see the Introduction to 1 Chronicles.)
The organization of 2 Chronicles falls into two major parts: the reign of Solomon (chs 1–9 ) and the kingdom of Judah (chs 10–36 ). In Chronicles the tenure of Solomon represents the apex of Israelite history, a time of unprecedented glory, prosperity, and peace. If David's reign was highly successful because David consolidated Israel's international position and prepared for the longawaited Temple, Solomon's reign was highly successful because he brought these plans to fruition. Accordingly, much space is devoted in chs 2–7 to the construction, furnishings, and dedication of this national edifice. As the home of the ark of the covenant and the tabernacle, the Temple represents the continuation and fulfillment of earlier Israelite religious institutions. For the Chronicler, the Temple is the divinely sanctioned place for both sacrifice and prayer ( 6.1–7.22 ), a view also present in the book of Kings.
The Chronicler's account of the divided monarchy differs in many respects from that found in 1 and 2 Kings, even though he draws heavily from Kings to write his own work. The writer excludes the independent history of the Northern Kingdom because he regards both the kingship and the sanctuaries of this new state as an affront to God ( 13.4–12 ). The choice not to recount the record of northern Israel also means that the stories of northern prophets such as Elijah and Elisha are not found in Chronicles. The author does add, however, much coverage to the Judahite kingdom, some of which reflects well on the reigns of major Judahite monarchs, such as Asa (chs 14–16 ), Jehoshaphat (chs 17–20 ), and Hezekiah (chs 29–32 ). Throughout his presentation, the Chronicler exhibits a concern for all Israelite tribes. The Chronicler criticizes the Northern Kingdom and its monarchs, but he still considers the northern tribes as Israelite and shows a sustained interest in their contacts with Judah. In the latter part of its history, Judah lost ground to its enemies and was exiled from its land to Babylon (586 BCE). A major concern of the Chronicler is not only to trace this decline, but also to commend the reforms aimed at reversing it. On the whole, he presents a more optimistic presentation of this period than do the authors of Kings. (See further the Introduction to 1 Chronicles, pp. 576–77 HB .)