Saturday, September 7, 2013

2 Chronicles 21:1-24:27


Jehoshaphat is succeeded by his eldest son, Jehoram. Right out of the gate Jehoram is no good. First off he kills his 6 brothers thereby eliminating potential rivals. (The Chronicler didn't mention that Solomon, in 1Kings 2, had done much the same thing). He marries a daughter of Ahab whose name, we will later learn, is Athaliah. His reign is short: 8 years. Jehoram's reign brings bad consequences but, we are told, YHWH remains faithful to the unfaithful house of David. 

Under Jehoram Edom and Libnah rebel. The high places are rebuilt and the people engage in idolatry which, using a standard image from the Hebrew Scriptures, is called "prostitution."

All of this prompts Elijah, the prophet from the north, to send Jehoram a letter. YHWH, he writes, will strike Jehoram's family. The king himself will suffer a lingering bowel disease. Yuck. 

Elijah was a major player in the books of Kings. He gets scant press in Chronicles. The Chronicler isn't much interested in the northern kingdom. 

Philistines and Arabs become the tools of YHWH's vengeance. They attack and conquer Jerusalem. Jehoram's family is carried off, his sons killed. Only The youngest, Ahaziah, is left. Jehoram suffers bowel disease for 2 years. His bowels prolapse. He dies. No one mourns. 

Jehoram died at age 40. His son Ahaziah takes the throne. The Hebrew Bible says that Ahaziah was 42 when his reign began, two years older than his recently deceased father. The NIV helpfully corrects   Ahaziah's age to 22. This still makes Jehoram a young father but at least it's not impossible. 

Ahaziah's reign is even shorter than Jehoram's, just one year long. He listens to bad advisors. He makes an unwise alliance with the king of Israel. He is killed in Jehu's bloody reformation rampage. The Chronicler's account of Ahaziah's death differs significantly from the parallel account in 2 Kings 9. There he was struck down with an arrow while fleeing Samaria.  Here he is brought before Jehu and executed. 

After her son's death, Athaliah seizes the throne of Judah by killing off the royal family. Only The infant Joash, youngest scion of the Davidic line escapes. The priest Jehoiada hides the boy away in the temple for 6 years. 

When Joash is 7 years old, Jehoiada engineers a rebellion. He gathers his forces (including a cadre of Levites who aren't mentioned in 2 Kings) and, at a shift change at the temple, proclaims the boy king, restoring the Davidic line to the throne. The temple of Baal is destroyed. Proper worship is reestablished. The people rejoice. The city is at peace. 

Joash's 40 year reign gets off to a strong start.  In 2 Chronicles 24:7 we are told, somewhat belatedly, that Athaliah's wicked sons had desecrated and looted the temple. Joash begins a project to remodel the temple by reinstituting Moses' tax (Exodus 30:12-16, 38:25-26). After a slow start the money begins to pour  in because, hey, who doesn't love paying taxes? Work on the temple proceeds quickly and smoothly. 

The account of the temple renovation diverges significantly from the parallel in 2 Kings 12.

Jehoiada the priest dies at the godly old age of 130, not quite the longevity of the Patriarchs but not bad. After Jehoiada's death Joash goes wild and Judah goes to hell. Joash leads the people right back into their old idolatrous ways. YHWH sends prophets. Nobody listens. Jehoiada's son Zecahriah tries to call Joash to account. Joash has him killed. 

YHWH sends a small army of Arameans to invade Judah. Joash's larger forces are defeated. Divine retribution, anyone? Joash is left wounded but alive. A palace conspiracy finishes him off.  The once-good king comes to a bad end. 

Next: 2 Chronicles 25-27

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