1 Chronicles 9 – Leaders in Jerusalem
A. Leaders in Jerusalem at the return from exile.
1. (1-2) Summary of the genealogies.
So all Israel was recorded by genealogies, and indeed, they were inscribed in the book of the kings of Israel. But Judah was carried away captive to Babylon because of their unfaithfulness. And the first inhabitants who dwelt in their possessions in their cities were Israelites, priests, Levites, and the Nethinim.
a. So all Israel was recorded: The first eight chapters of 1 Chronicles list these genealogical records. These records were inscribed in the book of the kings of Israel, but these are not the same books we know today as 1 or 2 Kings.
i. “Not in that sacred and canonical book so called, but (as hath been oft observed before) in the public records, wherein there was an account of that kingdom, and of several families in it, according to their genealogies.” (Poole)
b. But Judah was carried away captive to Babylon because of their unfaithfulness: In one sentence, the Chronicler reminds us that it was not the clash of empires or the intrigues of the geopolitical scene that doomed the kingdom of Judah. It was their unfaithfulness to God. If they had remained faithful, God would have protected them amid the rise and fall of a hundred powerful empires.
c. And the first inhabitants who dwelt in their possessions in their cities were Israelites: The Chronicler completely skips over the 70 years of captivity between verses 1 and 2. His interest is not only in the past (demonstrated by 8 previous chapters of genealogies) but also in the present and in the future. The Israelites were back in the land.
i. “All this means that Chronicles has taken the history of Israel a stage further than 1 and 2 Kings. Although 2 Kings ends on a note of genuine hope (2 Kings 25:27-30), it is restrained and Israel is still in exile. But now winter is over, and these lists are a definite sign that spring has begun to arrive.” (Selman)
ii. No longer was there a kingdom of Judah and another kingdom of Israel; now they were allIsraelites. “Called here by the general name of Israelites, which was given to them before that unhappy division of the two kingdoms, and now is restored to them when the Israelites are united with the Jews in one and the same commonwealth, so that all the names and signs of their former division might be blotted out.” (Poole)
d. Who dwelt in their possessions: The idea is that the people of the tribes of Israel came back to their ancestral lands, promised to them by God and first possessed in the days of Moses and Joshua.
i. In their possessions: “‘Their ancestral land’ (NEB; their own property, NIV) is a term rarely found in Chronicles (only 1 Chronicles 7:28; 2 Chronicles 11:14; 31:1). Its occurrence here evokes its frequent use in of Moses (e.g. Leviticus 25:10ff, Numbers 27:4) and Joshua. ” (Selman)
ii. God kept the land empty for them during the exile. “A wonderful providence of God it was, that as the land kept her Sabbaths for those seventy years, so the country should be all that while kept empty, till the return of the natives.” (Trapp)
e. Priests, Levites, and the Nethinim: These were three categories of workers at the temple, who had the work of restoring the temple and its worship in the days of Ezra.
· Priests were the descendants of Aaron who had the right to offer sacrifice and take care of the Holy Place in the temple.
· Levites were the much broader class of religious workers, who served in many ways: practical, artistic, and spiritual.
· The Nethinim were special servants given to the temple.
i. “The ‘temple servants’ were literally ‘given ones.’ They might consist of captives who had been spared but enslaved to temple service. Early Hebrew examples include the certain Midianite women (Numbers 31:35, 47) or the people of Gibeon (Joshua 9:22-23), but their organization as a class is credited to David (Ezra 8:20).” (Payne)
2. (3-9) Leading post-exilic citizens of Jerusalem.
Now in Jerusalem the children of Judah dwelt, and some of the children of Benjamin, and of the children of Ephraim and Manasseh: Uthai the son of Ammihud, the son of Omri, the son of Imri, the son of Bani, of the descendants of Perez, the son of Judah. Of the Shilonites: Asaiah the firstborn and his sons. Of the sons of Zerah: Jeuel, and their brethren; six hundred and ninety. Of the sons of Benjamin: Sallu the son of Meshullam, the son of Hodaviah, the son of Hassenuah; Ibneiah the son of Jeroham; Elah the son of Uzzi, the son of Michri; Meshullam the son of Shephatiah, the son of Reuel, the son of Ibnijah; and their brethren, according to their generations; nine hundred and fifty-six. All these men were heads of a father’s house in their fathers’ houses.
a. Now in Jerusalem the children of Judah dwelt: This begins a list (1 Chronicles 9:2-17) that is in some ways similar to a list in Nehemiah 11 and in some ways different. Biblical researchers debate if the lists are more similar or more different, and the exact points of connection and difference can be difficult to assess.
B. Other post-exilic leaders in Jerusalem.
1. (10-13) Leaders among the priests.
Of the priests: Jedaiah, Jehoiarib, and Jachin; Azariah the son of Hilkiah, the son of Meshullam, the son of Zadok, the son of Meraioth, the son of Ahitub, the officer over the house of God; Adaiah the son of Jeroham, the son of Pashur, the son of Malchijah; Maasai the son of Adiel, the son of Jahzerah, the son of Meshullam, the son of Meshillemith, the son of Immer; and their brethren, heads of their fathers’ houses; one thousand seven hundred and sixty. They were very able men for the work of the service of the house of God.
a. They were very able men: This same phrase is translated mighty men of valor in many other Old Testament passages (Joshua 1:14, Judges 6:12, 1 Samuel 16:18, and many others). It shows that when it came to doing the work of the service of the house of God, it takes a man of strength and courage, the same qualities that are needed in a warrior.
i. “The phrase ‘very able men’ means ‘mighty men of valour’ and is so rendered in this historic connection in Nehemiah (11:14). The description is usually employed with reference to military men, and that makes its use here the more arresting.” (Morgan)
2. (14-16) Leaders among the Levites.
Of the Levites: Shemaiah the son of Hasshub, the son of Azrikam, the son of Hashabiah, of the sons of Merari; Bakbakkar, Heresh, Galal, and Mattaniah the son of Micah, the son of Zichri, the son of Asaph; Obadiah the son of Shemaiah, the son of Galal, the son of Jeduthun; and Berechiah the son of Asa, the son of Elkanah, who lived in the villages of the Netophathites.
3. (17-34) Levite gatekeepers and temple workers.
And the gatekeepers were Shallum, Akkub, Talmon, Ahiman, and their brethren. Shallum was the chief. Until then they had been gatekeepers for the camps of the children of Levi at the King’s Gate on the east. Shallum the son of Kore, the son of Ebiasaph, the son of Korah, and his brethren, from his father’s house, the Korahites, were in charge of the work of the service, gatekeepers of the tabernacle. Their fathers had been keepers of the entrance to the camp of the LORD. And Phinehas the son of Eleazar had been the officer over them in time past; the LORD was with him. Zechariah the son of Meshelemiah was keeper of the door of the tabernacle of meeting. All those chosen as gatekeepers were two hundred and twelve. They were recorded by their genealogy, in their villages. David and Samuel the seer had appointed them to their trusted office. So they and their children were in charge of the gates of the house of the LORD, the house of the tabernacle, by assignment. The gatekeepers were assigned to the four directions: the east, west, north, and south. And their brethren in their villages had to come with them from time to time for seven days. For in this trusted office were four chief gatekeepers; they were Levites. And they had charge over the chambers and treasuries of the house of God. And they lodged all around the house of God because they had the responsibility, and they were in charge of opening it every morning. Now some of them were in charge of the serving vessels, for they brought them in and took them out by count. Some of them were appointed over the furnishings and over all the implements of the sanctuary, and over the fine flour and the wine and the oil and the incense and the spices. And some of the sons of the priests made the ointment of the spices. Mattithiah of the Levites, the firstborn of Shallum the Korahite, had the trusted office over the things that were baked in the pans. And some of their brethren of the sons of the Kohathites were in charge of preparing the showbread for every Sabbath. These are the singers, heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites, who lodged in the chambers, and were free from other duties; for they were employed in that work day and night. These heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites were heads throughout their generations. They dwelt at Jerusalem.
a. And the gatekeepers were: This describes the re-institution of the organization of the temple work and workers in the early days of the second temple. They were anxious to organize things in the same manner as King David did originally.
i. It also denotes that there was definite organization and division of labor among the Levites. “When the morning broke, it called to duty first the porters who opened the House of God; and then, after due ablution, each band of white-robed Levites began its special service. There was no running to and fro in disorder, no intrusion on one another’s office, no clashing in duty, no jealousy of each other’s ministry. It was enough to know that each had been appointed to his task, and was asked to be faithful to it. The right ordering of the whole depended on the punctuality, fidelity, and conscientiousness of each.” (Meyer)
ii. “Since both Meshelemiah and Zechariah served under David (1 Chronicles 26:8-11), this ‘Tent of Meeting’ would seem to refer to the curtained form of God’s house erected prior to Solomon’s permanent temple.” (Payne)
b. Phinehas the son of Eleazar had been the officer over them in time past; the LORD was with him: The Chronicler remembered the faithful work of Phinehas in the days of Moses (Numbers 25:7-13), and linked his faithfulness to the work of the gatekeepers in the days of Ezra.
i. “The fact that the LORD was with him [Phinehas] indicates that the Lord was also with those gatekeepers of the Chronicler’s day who followed in the same living tradition of divine service.” (Selman)
4. (35-44) The ancestors and descendants of King Saul.
Jeiel the father of Gibeon, whose wife’s name was Maacah, dwelt at Gibeon. His firstborn son was Abdon, then Zur, Kish, Baal, Ner, Nadab, Gedor, Ahio, Zechariah, and Mikloth. And Mikloth begot Shimeam. They also dwelt alongside their relatives in Jerusalem, with their brethren. Ner begot Kish, Kish begot Saul, and Saul begot Jonathan, Malchishua, Abinadab, and Esh-Baal. The son of Jonathan was Merib-Baal, and Merib-Baal begot Micah. The sons of Micah were Pithon, Melech, Tahrea, and Ahaz. And Ahaz begot Jarah; Jarah begot Alemeth, Azmaveth, and Zimri; and Zimri begot Moza; Moza begot Binea, Rephaiah his son, Eleasah his son, and Azel his son. And Azel had six sons whose names were these: Azrikam, Bocheru, Ishmael, Sheariah, Obadiah, and Hanan; these were the sons of Azel.
a. Kish begot Saul, and Saul begot Jonathan: For emphasis, some of the genealogy of the line of Saul (both before him and after him) is listed. This was to emphasize the fact that God did not wipe out the line of Saul, and that his descendants lived to the days of Ezra and the return from exile.
i. “Since the genealogy continues for twelve generations after Saul, the fact that his dynasty crashed and his kingship was transferred to David did not remove his family’s place in Israelite history. They too had lived in Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 9:38), and though we do not know whether this continued after the exile, even for them there were signs of hope.” (Selman)
1 Chronicles 4 through 8 – The Tribes of Israel and their Descendants
“How barren to us is this register, both of incident and interest! And yet, as barren rocks and sandy deserts make integral and necessary parts of the globe; so do these genealogical tables make necessary parts of the history of providence and grace in the maintenance of truth, and the establishment of the church of Christ. Therefore, no one that fears God will either despise or lightly esteem them.” (Adam Clarke)
“Here tribes, and individual men, are seen as gaining importance and value in proportion as they co-operated in the purpose of God.” (G. Campbell Morgan)
A. The tribes comprising the later kingdom of Judah.
1. (4:1-23) The descendants of Judah.
The sons of Judah were Perez, Hezron, Carmi, Hur, and Shobal. And Reaiah the son of Shobal begot Jahath, and Jahath begot Ahumai and Lahad. These were the families of the Zorathites. These were the sons of the father of Etam: Jezreel, Ishma, and Idbash; and the name of their sister was Hazelelponi; and Penuel was the father of Gedor, and Ezer was the father of Hushah. These were the sons of Hur, the firstborn of Ephrathah the father of Bethlehem. And Ashhur the father of Tekoa had two wives, Helah and Naarah. Naarah bore him Ahuzzam, Hepher, Temeni, and Haahashtari. These were the sons of Naarah. The sons of Helah were Zereth, Zohar, and Ethnan; and Koz begot Anub, Zobebah, and the families of Aharhel the son of Harum. Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested. Chelub the brother of Shuhah begot Mehir, who was the father of Eshton. And Eshton begot Beth-Rapha, Paseah, and Tehinnah the father of Ir-Nahash. These were the men of Rechah. The sons of Kenaz were Othniel and Seraiah. The sons of Othniel were Hathath, and Meonothai who begot Ophrah. Seraiah begot Joab the father of Ge Harashim, for they were craftsmen. The sons of Caleb the son of Jephunneh were Iru, Elah, and Naam. The son of Elah was Kenaz. The sons of Jehallelel were Ziph, Ziphah, Tiria, and Asarel. The sons of Ezrah were Jether, Mered, Epher, and Jalon. And Mered’s wife bore Miriam, Shammai, and Ishbah the father of Eshtemoa. (His wife Jehudijah bore Jered the father of Gedor, Heber the father of Sochoh, and Jekuthiel the father of Zanoah.) And these were the sons of Bithiah the daughter of Pharaoh, whom Mered took. The sons of Hodiah’s wife, the sister of Naham, were the fathers of Keilah the Garmite and of Eshtemoa the Maachathite. And the sons of Shimon were Amnon, Rinnah, Ben-Hanan, and Tilon. And the sons of Ishi were Zoheth and Ben-Zoheth. The sons of Shelah the son of Judah were Er the father of Lecah, Laadah the father of Mareshah, and the families of the house of the linen workers of the house of Ashbea; also Jokim, the men of Chozeba, and Joash; Saraph, who ruled in Moab, and Jashubi-Lehem. Now the records are ancient. These were the potters and those who dwell at Netaim and Gederah; there they dwelt with the king for his work.
a. The sons of Judah were: Since the focus of these genealogies is the dynastic line of David, it makes sense that the tribe of Judah is listed first.
i. “Ezra expected his readers to recognize (from 2:5, 18, 50) that the five descendants of Judah, from Perez to Shobal, were not brothers but successive generations. ‘Carmi’ must therefore be a scribal error for Caleb.” (Payne)
b. Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers: This man Jabez is one of the more interesting briefly-mentioned people of the Old Testament. We only know of him from this text, and from the town of scribes that may have been named after him or associated with him (1 Chronicles 2:55).
i. “While through these genealogies, and indeed through all the history, we are occupied with those connected with government and the procession of events leading to universal issues, it is refreshing to be halted by the story of one man who took his need directly to God and obtained the answer of God’s grace.” (Morgan)
ii. “On these accounts he was more honourable than his brethren. He was of the same stock and the same lineage; he had neither nobility of birth, nor was distinguished by earthly titles; in all these respects he was on a level with his brethren: but God tells us that he was more honourable than them all; and why? because he prayed, because he served his Maker, and because he lived to do good among men; therefore he received the honour that cometh from God.” (Clarke)
c. His mother called his name Jabez: This name is associated with pain or sorrow. For some reason, probably surrounding the circumstances of his birth, his mother named him this. Because of the strong importance of the idea of a name in ancient Hebrew culture, this idea of pain was connected to Jabez – perhaps especially in his growing up.
d. And Jabez called on the God of Israel: Jabez was honored, and we know little more of him than that he was a man of prayer and that his prayer was answered. One way to gain honor in the kingdom of God is through prayer, instead of through ambition and achievement. Jabez had four basic requests in his prayer.
i. First, Jabez prayed to be blessed indeed. There are many who are blessed, but they are not blessed indeed. That is, they have something that is in one sense a blessing (such as family, salvation, wealth, fame, health, security), but yet because of fundamental dissatisfaction in their life, they are not blessed indeed.
· Even worse, sometimes blessings turn out to be a curse to us in that we make an idol of the blessing. In this, we see the great wisdom of Jabez’s prayer.
· In the same way, many things that are outwardly curses end up being blessings indeed to us.
ii. Jabez prayed for enlarged territory. Virtually all older commentators agree with Matthew Poole that Jabez called on the God of Israel “when he was undertaking some great and dangerous service,” in particular the conquest of the land of Canaan. Therefore, when he prayed “enlarge my territory,” it was to “drive out these wicked and cursed Canaanties, whom thou hast commanded us to root out, and therefore I justly beg and expect thy blessing in the execution of thy command.” (Poole)
· Adam Clarke quotes a Chaldean translation of this prayer, with the line: and enlarge my borders with disciples. This, together with the scribal city associated with his name, indicates (but does not prove) that Jabez’s desire for more territory was not only to displace the wicked but also to advance the cause of godliness through the multiplication of disciples.
iii. Jabez asked that the hand of God would be with him. “The ‘hand of the Lord’ is a biblical term for God’s power and presence in the lives of His people (see Joshua 4:24 and Isaiah 59:1).” (Wilkinson)
· The phrase the hand of the LORD is used many times in the Old Testament, and often in a negative sense – that is, in the sense of God’s hand being against someone in judgment. Here Jabez prayed that the hand of the LORD would be with him.
· In Psalm 77:10, the Psalmist wrote: I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High. Here Jabez prayed in advance for something to remember later – to see the hand of God with him now.
iv. Jabez asked to be kept from evil and that he would not cause pain. Some other translations render this with the idea that the pain Jabez did not want to cause was his own. “He used this expression in allusion to his name, which signifies grief; Lord, let me not have that grief which my name implies, and which my sin deserves.” (Poole)
· In this Jabez recognized the evil in this world, no doubt because he had lived through much pain in his life.
· In this Jabez recognized that he needed God to keep him from evil.
· In this Jabez recognized that the hand of God could transform the evil and pain of his life.
e. So God granted him what he requested: This, of course, is the measure of effective prayer – that it is answered from heaven (allowing that “No” or “Wait” can also be an answer). Yet when we are close to the heart of God and pray for the things important to Him and His kingdom, we expect that our prayers will be granted (1 John 5:14).
i. “If we take up the character and conduct of Jabez in the view given by the Chaldee, we shall not only see him as a pious and careful man, deeply interested in behalf of himself and his family, but we shall see him as a benevolent man, labouring for the welfare of others, and especially for the religious instruction of youth. He founded schools, in which the young and rising generation were taught useful knowledge, and especially the knowledge of God. He had disciples, which were divided into three classes, who distinguished themselves by their fervour in the worship of God, by their docility in obediently hearing and treasuring up the advices and instructions of their teachers, and by their deep piety to God in bringing forth the fruits of the Spirit. The spirit of prophecy, that is, of prayer and supplication, rested upon them.” (Clarke)
ii. “Reader, imitate the conduct of this worthy Israelite that thou mayest be a partaker of his blessings.” (Clarke)
f. And these were the sons of Bithiah the daughter of Pharaoh, whom Mered took: “The wife of Mered here intended is Bithiah (v. 18). Her identification as a daughter of Pharaoh would locate this event during the early part of Israel’s sojourn in Egypt (before 1800 B.C.), the union probably being made possible because of Joseph’s prominence.” (Payne)
g. These were the potters and those who dwell at Netaim and Gederah; there they dwelt with the king for his work: Since the broad focus of these chapters is to point to the tribe of Judah and especially to the family of David, these men receive special mention because they worked for the king and lived with the king. Charles Spurgeon preached a wonderful sermon on this verse, with four points under the title With the King for His Work!
i. Our King has many kinds of servants. He has soldiers, watchmen, heralds, scribes, musicians, house servants, gardeners, servants for the children. We should therefore value the different servants and understand and value our own place of service.
ii. All who live with our King must work. “They did not live on the king’s bounty and dwell on the king’s country estates to do nothing, but they dwelt there for his work. I do not know whether all that call my Master ‘Lord’ have caught this idea. I have thought that some of our church members imagine that the cause of Christ was a coach, and that they were to ride on it, and that they would prefer the box seat.” (Spurgeon)
iii. Those that work for the King ought to live with Him. “Now, those that live with Jesus Christ have a sort of secret alphabet between themselves and him. Oftentimes when a Christian man does the right thing.… Do you know why he had that knack? He lived with his Master, so he knew what you knew not. He knew the meaning of his Master’s eye, and it guided him.” (Spurgeon)
iv. We are working for the King. “And after you have received Christ then you shall go forth and serve him. Put out an empty hand and receive Christ into it by a little faith, and then go and serve him, and the Lord bless you henceforth and for ever.” (Spurgeon)
2. (4:24-43) The descendants of Simeon.
The sons of Simeon were Nemuel, Jamin, Jarib, Zerah, and Shaul, Shallum his son, Mibsam his son, and Mishma his son. And the sons of Mishma were Hamuel his son, Zacchur his son, and Shimei his son. Shimei had sixteen sons and six daughters; but his brothers did not have many children, nor did any of their families multiply as much as the children of Judah. They dwelt at Beersheba, Moladah, Hazar Shual, Bilhah, Ezem, Tolad, Bethuel, Hormah, Ziklag, Beth Marcaboth, Hazar Susim, Beth Biri, and at Shaaraim. These were their cities until the reign of David. And their villages were Etam, Ain, Rimmon, Tochen, and Ashan; five cities; and all the villages that were around these cities as far as Baal. These were their dwelling places, and they maintained their genealogy: Meshobab, Jamlech, and Joshah the son of Amaziah; Joel, and Jehu the son of Joshibiah, the son of Seraiah, the son of Asiel; Elioenai, Jaakobah, Jeshohaiah, Asaiah, Adiel, Jesimiel, and Benaiah; Ziza the son of Shiphi, the son of Allon, the son of Jedaiah, the son of Shimri, the son of Shemaiah; these mentioned by name were leaders in their families, and their father’s house increased greatly. So they went to the entrance of Gedor, as far as the east side of the valley, to seek pasture for their flocks. And they found rich, good pasture, and the land was broad, quiet, and peaceful; for some Hamites formerly lived there. These recorded by name came in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah; and they attacked their tents and the Meunites who were found there, and utterly destroyed them, as it is to this day. So they dwelt in their place, because there was pasture for their flocks there. Now some of them, five hundred men of the sons of Simeon, went to Mount Seir, having as their captains Pelatiah, Neariah, Rephaiah, and Uzziel, the sons of Ishi. And they defeated the rest of the Amalekites who had escaped. They have dwelt there to this day.
a. The sons of Simeon…. these were the dwelling places:Simeon and Levi, two of the sons of Jacob, massacred the men of the city of Shechem (Genesis 34:24-30, 49:5-7) and were therefore cursed to be scattered. Therefore, the tribe of Simeon did not have a province to call their own, only these cities, villages, and dwelling places.
i. “Simeon was granted lands in Palestine only within the arid southwestern portions of Judah (Joshua 19:1-9; cf. 15:26, 28-32); and it campaigned cooperatively with Judah in their conquest (Judges 1:3).” (Payne)
ii. “For after the division of Solomon’s kingdom in 930 B.C., elements of Simeon either moved to the north or at least adopted its religious practices (cf. the inclusion of Beersheba along with the shrines of Ephraim that are condemned in Amos 5:5).… Other Simeonites carried on in a seminomadic life in isolated areas that they could occupy, such as those noted at the close of this chapter.” (Payne)
iii. “This genealogy is very different from that given in Genesis 46:10, and Numbers 26:12. This may be occasioned by the same person having several names, one list taking one name, another list some other, and so on: to reconcile is impossible; to attempt it, useless.” (Clarke)
b. But his brothers did not have many children, nor did any of their families multiply as much as the children of Judah: The census data both at the beginning and the end of the Book of Numbers indicates that the population of the tribe of Simeon decreased radically during the wilderness years of the exodus. They were among the largest tribes at the beginning and among the smallest tribes at the end.
i. “Of this tribe was that shameless fornicator, Zimri (Numbers 25), as also Judas Iscariot, as Jerome affirmeth.” (Trapp)
B. The tribes of Israel settling east of the Jordan River.
1. (5:1-10) The descendants of Reuben.
Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel; he was indeed the firstborn, but because he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph, the son of Israel, so that the genealogy is not listed according to the birthright; yet Judah prevailed over his brothers, and from him came a ruler, although the birthright was Joseph’s; the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel were Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi. The sons of Joel were Shemaiah his son, Gog his son, Shimei his son, Micah his son, Reaiah his son, Baal his son, and Beerah his son, whom Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria carried into captivity. He was leader of the Reubenites. And his brethren by their families, when the genealogy of their generations was registered: the chief, Jeiel, and Zechariah, and Bela the son of Azaz, the son of Shema, the son of Joel, who dwelt in Aroer, as far as Nebo and Baal Meon. Eastward they settled as far as the entrance of the wilderness this side of the River Euphrates, because their cattle had multiplied in the land of Gilead. Now in the days of Saul they made war with the Hagrites, who fell by their hand; and they dwelt in their tents throughout the entire area east of Gilead.
a. Reuben the firstborn of Israel; he was indeed the firstborn, but because he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given: This answers the question, “If Reuben was the first-born son, why is he not listed first?” It was because of the sin described in this verse, which disqualified Reuben from being first among the sons of Israel.
b. Now in the days of Saul they made war with the Hagrites: “The Hagarites were tribes of Nomade, or Scenite, Arabs; people who lived in tents, without any fixed dwellings, and whose property consisted in cattle. The descendants of Reuben extirpated these Hagarites, seized on their property and their tents, and dwelt in their place.” (Clarke)
2. (5:11-22) The descendants of Gad.
And the children of Gad dwelt next to them in the land of Bashan as far as Salcah: Joel was the chief, Shapham the next, then Jaanai and Shaphat in Bashan, and their brethren of their father’s house: Michael, Meshullam, Sheba, Jorai, Jachan, Zia, and Eber; seven in all. These were the children of Abihail the son of Huri, the son of Jaroah, the son of Gilead, the son of Michael, the son of Jeshishai, the son of Jahdo, the son of Buz; Ahi the son of Abdiel, the son of Guni, was chief of their father’s house. And the Gadites dwelt in Gilead, in Bashan and in its villages, and in all the common-lands of Sharon within their borders. All these were registered by genealogies in the days of Jotham king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam king of Israel. The sons of Reuben, the Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh had forty-four thousand seven hundred and sixty valiant men, men able to bear shield and sword, to shoot with the bow, and skillful in war, who went to war. They made war with the Hagrites, Jetur, Naphish, and Nodab. And they were helped against them, and the Hagrites were delivered into their hand, and all who were with them, for they cried out to God in the battle. He heeded their prayer, because they put their trust in Him. Then they took away their livestock; fifty thousand of their camels, two hundred and fifty thousand of their sheep, and two thousand of their donkeys; also one hundred thousand of their men; for many fell dead, because the war was God’s. And they dwelt in their place until the captivity.
a. For they cried out to God in the battle: As these men of Gad did what God called them to do, they trusted in Him in the midst of the battle. Because they put their trust in Him, God delivered them in the battle.
i. Trapp on for they cried to God in the battle: “So did Jabez (chapter 4); Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20); the thundering legion; the late king of Sweden, whose prayer before the great battle of Lutzen – where he fell, – was, ‘Jesus vouchsafe this day to be my strong helper; and give me courage to fight for the honour of thy name.’ In prayer alone he held the surest piece of his whole armour.”
b. Also one hundred thousand of their men; for many fell dead, because the war was God’s: This describes the unique wars of judgment God called Israel to bring against the Canaanites when they came into the Promised Land.
i. “This was a war of extermination as to the political state of the people, which nothing could justify but a special direction of God; and this he could never give against any, unless the cup of their iniquity had been full. The Hagrites were full of idolatry: see 1 Chronicles 5:25.” (Clarke)
3. (5:23-26) The descendants of the eastern tribe of Manasseh.
So the children of the half-tribe of Manasseh dwelt in the land. Their numbers increased from Bashan to Baal Hermon, that is, to Senir, or Mount Hermon. These were the heads of their fathers’ houses: Epher, Ishi, Eliel, Azriel, Jeremiah, Hodaviah, and Jahdiel. They were mighty men of valor, famous men, and heads of their fathers’ houses. And they were unfaithful to the God of their fathers, and played the harlot after the gods of the peoples of the land, whom God had destroyed before them. So the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, that is, Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria. He carried the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh into captivity. He took them to Halah, Habor, Hara, and the river of Gozan to this day.
a. They were mighty men of valor, famous men, and heads of their fathers’ houses: These original settlers of the eastern tribe of Manasseh were godly and bold men. Their desire to settle east of the Jordan River did not reflect an ungodly desire on their part.
b. And they were unfaithful to the God of their fathers, and played the harlot after the gods of the peoples of the land: Despite the good start for the eastern tribe of Manasseh, this is how they ended up. Their distance from the people of Israel in general and the spiritual life of the nation, in particular, seemed to weaken their devotion to God and strengthen their attraction to the gods of the peoples of the land.
i. “The remaining verses of chapter 5 describe an early, joint military campaign (vv. 18-22, elaborating v. 10) – in which God rewarded their faith and their prayers with a great victory over the Ishmaelites – and their later deportation to Assyria (vv. 25-26), as the result of collective apostasy.” (Payne)
C. The tribe of Levi.
1. (6:1-30) The descendants of Levi.
The sons of Levi were Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. The sons of Kohath were Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. The children of Amram were Aaron, Moses, and Miriam. And the sons of Aaron were Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. Eleazar begot Phinehas, and Phinehas begot Abishua; Abishua begot Bukki, and Bukki begot Uzzi; Uzzi begot Zerahiah, and Zerahiah begot Meraioth; Meraioth begot Amariah, and Amariah begot Ahitub; Ahitub begot Zadok, and Zadok begot Ahimaaz; Ahimaaz begot Azariah, and Azariah begot Johanan; Johanan begot Azariah (it was he who ministered as priest in the temple that Solomon built in Jerusalem); Azariah begot Amariah, and Amariah begot Ahitub; Ahitub begot Zadok, and Zadok begot Shallum; Shallum begot Hilkiah, and Hilkiah begot Azariah; Azariah begot Seraiah, and Seraiah begot Jehozadak. Jehozadak went into captivity when the LORD carried Judah and Jerusalem into captivity by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar. The sons of Levi were Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. These are the names of the sons of Gershon: Libni and Shimei. The sons of Kohath were Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. The sons of Merari were Mahli and Mushi. Now these are the families of the Levites according to their fathers: Of Gershon were Libni his son, Jahath his son, Zimmah his son, Joah his son, Iddo his son, Zerah his son, and Jeatherai his son. The sons of Kohath were Amminadab his son, Korah his son, Assir his son, Elkanah his son, Ebiasaph his son, Assir his son, Tahath his son, Uriel his son, Uzziah his son, and Shaul his son. The sons of Elkanah were Amasai and Ahimoth. As for Elkanah, the sons of Elkanah were Zophai his son, Nahath his son, Eliab his son, Jeroham his son, and Elkanah his son. The sons of Samuel were Joel the firstborn, and Abijah the second. The sons of Merari were Mahli, Libni his son, Shimei his son, Uzzah his son, Shimea his son, Haggiah his son, and Asaiah his son.
a. The sons of Levi were: This chapter describes the descendants of Levi and of Aaron. The entire tribe of Levi had a special place in Israel, given over to the service of God generally. Within the tribe of Levi was a special priestly family descended from Aaron. All priests were therefore Levites, but not all Levites were priests.
i. “It has been well remarked that the genealogy of Levi is given here more ample and correct than that of any of the others. And this is perhaps an additional proof that the author was a priest, felt much for the priesthood, and took care to give the genealogy of the Levitical and [priestly] families, from the most correct tables; for with such tables we may presume he was intimately acquainted.” (Clarke)
ii. As previously seen, Simeon and Levi were both cursed to be scattered because of their massacre of the men of Shechem (Genesis 34:24-30, 49:5-7). God did in fact both divide the tribes of Simeon and Levi and scatter them among Israel. Yet the way it happened for each tribe was different. The tribe of Simeon, because of their lack of faithfulness, was effectively dissolved as a tribe, and was absorbed into the tribal area of Judah. The tribe of Levi was also scattered, but because of the faithfulness of this tribe during the rebellion of the golden calf (Exodus 32:26-28), the tribe was scattered as a blessing throughout the whole nation of Israel. Both were scattered, but one as a blessing and the other as a curse.
b. In the temple that Solomon built in Jerusalem: “So called to distinguish it from the second temple, which was built or in building when these books were written.” (Poole)
c. When the LORD carried Judah and Jerusalem into captivity by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar: According to pattern, the inspired historian saw the hand of God even in the great tragedy that still afflicted Judah at the time of writing Chronicles. It was not the Babylonian Empire that carried Judah and Jerusalem into captivity, but it was the LORD.
2. (6:31-48) The musicians for the House of the LORD.
Now these are the men whom David appointed over the service of song in the house of the LORD, after the ark came to rest. They were ministering with music before the dwelling place of the tabernacle of meeting, until Solomon had built the house of the LORD in Jerusalem, and they served in their office according to their order. And these are the ones who ministered with their sons: Of the sons of the Kohathites were Heman the singer, the son of Joel, the son of Samuel, the son of Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Eliel, the son of Toah, the son of Zuph, the son of Elkanah, the son of Mahath, the son of Amasai, the son of Elkanah, the son of Joel, the son of Azariah, the son of Zephaniah, the son of Tahath, the son of Assir, the son of Ebiasaph, the son of Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, the son of Israel. And his brother Asaph, who stood at his right hand, was Asaph the son of Berachiah, the son of Shimea, the son of Michael, the son of Baaseiah, the son of Malchijah, the son of Ethni, the son of Zerah, the son of Adaiah, the son of Ethan, the son of Zimmah, the son of Shimei, the son of Jahath, the son of Gershon, the son of Levi. Their brethren, the sons of Merari, on the left hand, were Ethan the son of Kishi, the son of Abdi, the son of Malluch, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Amaziah, the son of Hilkiah, the son of Amzi, the son of Bani, the son of Shamer, the son of Mahli, the son of Mushi, the son of Merari, the son of Levi. And their brethren, the Levites, were appointed to every kind of service of the tabernacle of the house of God.
a. Whom David appointed over the service of song in the house of the LORD, after the ark came to rest: The dramatic entry of the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem is described in both 2 Samuel 6 and 1 Chronicles 15-16.
i. The fact that David appointed these men over the service of song shows that the musical worship of God is important, it is worthy of attention, and should be organized. In fact, it is specifically said they served in their office according to their order.
ii. It could perhaps be said that the artistic temperament resists organization, and it is certainly possible to be too ordered and too rigid, refusing to allow proper flexibility in the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, organization and order remain part of a good music ministry.
iii. They were ministering with music: Their ministry was music. It was sacred service before the LORD, worthy of their dedication and hard work.
b. Heman the singer: This man is mentioned several times in connection with temple worship in the days of David and Solomon (1 Chronicles 15:17-19, 16:41-42, 25:1-7, 2 Chronicles 5:12-13). He was an important part of the ceremonies connected with bringing the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem and the dedication of the temple.
i. Psalm 88 is attributed to Heman: A Song. A Psalm of the sons of Korah. To the Chief Musician. Set to “Mahalath Leannoth.” A Contemplation [Maschil] of Heman the Ezrahite.
ii. Psalm 88 shows us a man well acquainted with sorrow and trouble: For my soul is full of troubles (88:3)…. I am like a man who has no strength (88:4)…. Your wrath lies heavy upon me (88:7). Some of the sweetest songs come from the heaviest sorrow.
iii. Psalm 88 also shows us a man who could take his grief to the LORD: But to You I have cried out, O LORD, and in the morning my prayer comes before You (88:13). It is not a confident or triumphant psalm, but the undercurrent of trust and refuge in God runs through the song of sorrow.
c. And his brother Asaph, who stood at his right hand: Partnered with Heman the singer was Asaph, making for one of the great worship-leading combinations in history.
i. This is the first mention of Asaph in the Bible; the Asaph listed in 2 Kings 18:18 and 18:37 is a different man. Asaph was a man of wide and long-lasting influence among God’s people.
· 1 Chronicles 15:17-19 mentions Asaph as a fellow singer with Heman and Ethan.
· 1 Chronicles 16:5 describes Asaph as the chief at the ceremony bringing the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem.
· 1 Chronicles 16:7 says that David delivered a psalm to Asaph and his brethren at that ceremony. Apparently, David wrote the psalm and Asaph and his brethren performed it.
· 1 Chronicles 16:37 says that Asaph was left with the responsibility to daily minister before the ark of the covenant when it was brought into Jerusalem in David’s time.
· 1 Chronicles 25:6 says that Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman served in music under the authority of King David.
· 2 Chronicles 20:14 and 29:13 indicate that the influence of Asaph lasted far beyond his death, in that future worship leaders and musicians were known as the sons of Asaph, even to the days of Ezra (Ezra 2:41, 3:10; Nehemiah 7:44, 11:17 and 22).
ii. 12 Psalms are attributed to Asaph (Psalm 50 and Psalms 73 through 83).
d. Appointed to every kind of service of the tabernacle of the house of God: The Levites served God in almost every conceivable way, both practical and spiritual. Every kind of service is important and precious to God.
3. (6:49-53) The family of Aaron.
But Aaron and his sons offered sacrifices on the altar of burnt offering and on the altar of incense, for all the work of the Most Holy Place, and to make atonement for Israel, according to all that Moses the servant of God had commanded. Now these are the sons of Aaron: Eleazar his son, Phinehas his son, Abishua his son, Bukki his son, Uzzi his son, Zerahiah his son, Meraioth his son, Amariah his son, Ahitub his son, Zadok his son, and Ahimaaz his son.
a. But Aaron and his sons offered sacrifices on the altar: The priesthood descended from Aaron and Aaron only. He, his sons, and their descendants were the only ones authorized to offer sacrifices on the altar.
b. And to make atonement for Israel: Only an authorized priest could make atonement. Though Jesus was not descended from Aaron, He was nevertheless an authorized priest according to the order of Melchizedek, not Aaron (Hebrews 7).
c. Now these are the sons of Aaron: Not listed are the two disobedient sons of Aaron (Nadab and Abihu) who were judged for bringing a strange fire of corrupt worship to the altar (Leviticus 10).
4. (6:54-81) The cities and common-lands of the Levites.
Now these are their dwelling places throughout their settlements in their territory, for they were given by lot to the sons of Aaron, of the family of the Kohathites: They gave them Hebron in the land of Judah, with its surrounding common-lands. But the fields of the city and its villages they gave to Caleb the son of Jephunneh. And to the sons of Aaron they gave one of the cities of refuge, Hebron; also Libnah with its common-lands, Jattir, Eshtemoa with its common-lands, Hilen with its common-lands, Debir with its common-lands, Ashan with its common-lands, and Beth Shemesh with its common-lands. And from the tribe of Benjamin: Geba with its common-lands, Alemeth with its common-lands, and Anathoth with its common-lands. All their cities among their families were thirteen. To the rest of the family of the tribe of the Kohathites they gave by lot ten cities from half the tribe of Manasseh. And to the sons of Gershon, throughout their families, they gave thirteen cities from the tribe of Issachar, from the tribe of Asher, from the tribe of Naphtali, and from the tribe of Manasseh in Bashan. To the sons of Merari, throughout their families, they gave twelve cities from the tribe of Reuben, from the tribe of Gad, and from the tribe of Zebulun. So the children of Israel gave these cities with their common-lands to the Levites. And they gave by lot from the tribe of the children of Judah, from the tribe of the children of Simeon, and from the tribe of the children of Benjamin these cities which are called by their names. Now some of the families of the sons of Kohath were given cities as their territory from the tribe of Ephraim. And they gave them one of the cities of refuge, Shechem with its common-lands, in the mountains of Ephraim, also Gezer with its common-lands, Jokmeam with its common-lands, Beth Horon with its common-lands, Aijalon with its common-lands, and Gath Rimmon with its common-lands. And from the half-tribe of Manasseh: Aner with its common-lands and Bileam with its common-lands, for the rest of the family of the sons of Kohath. From the family of the half-tribe of Manasseh the sons of Gershon were given Golan in Bashan with its common-lands and Ashtaroth with its common-lands. And from the tribe of Issachar: Kedesh with its common-lands, Daberath with its common-lands, Ramoth with its common-lands, and Anem with its common-lands. And from the tribe of Asher: Mashal with its common-lands, Abdon with its common-lands, Hukok with its common-lands, and Rehob with its common-lands. And from the tribe of Naphtali: Kedesh in Galilee with its common-lands, Hammon with its common-lands, and Kirjathaim with its common-lands. From the tribe of Zebulun the rest of the children of Merari were given Rimmon with its common-lands and Tabor with its common-lands. And on the other side of the Jordan, across from Jericho, on the east side of the Jordan, they were given from the tribe of Reuben: Bezer in the wilderness with its common-lands, Jahzah with its common-lands, Kedemoth with its common-lands, and Mephaath with its common-lands. And from the tribe of Gad: Ramoth in Gilead with its common-lands, Mahanaim with its common-lands, Heshbon with its common-lands, and Jazer with its common-lands.
a. Now these are their dwelling places throughout their settlements: According to Numbers 18:20-24, the tribe of Levi had no province of land as the other tribes did. Their inheritance was the LORD Himself and the tithes that the people of God brought to them.
b. They gave them Hebron in the land of Judah, with its surrounding common-lands: After this pattern, the Levites were “sprinkled” throughout the land of Israel by giving them cities in the different tribal provinces, cities together with surrounding common-lands (Numbers 35:1-8).
D. The other tribes of Israel.
1. (7:1-5) The descendants of Issachar.
The sons of Issachar were Tola, Puah, Jashub, and Shimron; four in all. The sons of Tola were Uzzi, Rephaiah, Jeriel, Jahmai, Jibsam, and Shemuel, heads of their father’s house. The sons of Tola were mighty men of valor in their generations; their number in the days of David was twenty-two thousand six hundred. The son of Uzzi was Izrahiah, and the sons of Izrahiah were Michael, Obadiah, Joel, and Ishiah. All five of them were chief men. And with them, by their generations, according to their fathers’ houses, were thirty-six thousand troops ready for war; for they had many wives and sons. Now their brethren among all the families of Issachar were mighty men of valor, listed by their genealogies, eighty-seven thousand in all.
a. Thirty-six thousand troops ready for war: “For Israhiah and his four sons, even with ‘many wives,’ to have ‘36,000’ warriors seems unlikely, as does the total (vv. 2-5) of 145,600 for just one tribe of the Twelve. This appears to be the first of nine passages in Chronicles where elep (‘thousand’) might be better interpreted as allup (‘chief’).” (Payne)
2. (7:6-12) The descendants of Benjamin.
The sons of Benjamin were Bela, Becher, and Jediael; three in all. The sons of Bela were Ezbon, Uzzi, Uzziel, Jerimoth, and Iri; five in all. They were heads of their fathers’ houses, and they were listed by their genealogies, twenty-two thousand and thirty-four mighty men of valor. The sons of Becher were Zemirah, Joash, Eliezer, Elioenai, Omri, Jerimoth, Abijah, Anathoth, and Alemeth. All these are the sons of Becher. And they were recorded by genealogy according to their generations, heads of their fathers’ houses, twenty thousand two hundred mighty men of valor. The son of Jediael was Bilhan, and the sons of Bilhan were Jeush, Benjamin, Ehud, Chenaanah, Zethan, Tharshish, and Ahishahar. All these sons of Jediael were heads of their fathers’ houses; there were seventeen thousand two hundred mighty men of valor fit to go out for war and battle. Shuppim and Huppim were the sons of Ir, and Hushim was the son of Aher.
a. Ehud: This was the famous leader for Israel noted in Judges 3:12-30.
b. The son of Aher: Many believe that is better rendered the sons of Aher and is a veiled reference to the tribe of Dan, who is not otherwise mentioned in this genealogy.
i. “The sons of Aher; but divers take the Hebrew word aher for a common, not proper name, and render the words this, another son, or the son of another family or tribe, to wit, of Dan, as may be gathered.” (Poole)
ii. There are at least four things that support the idea that this is a veiled reference to the tribe of Dan:
· In Genesis 46:23 Hushim is mentioned as the son of Dan.
· The next verse in 1 Chronicles (7:13) mentions the sons of Bilhah, who was mother to both Dan and Naphtali, also mentioned in that verse.
· Otherwise, the genealogy of Dan is left out.
· Hebrew writers sometimes used the word another (aher) to describe “an abominable thing which the writer disdained to mention; whence they call a swine, which to them was a very unclean and loathsome creature, another thing.”
iii. “And it must be remembered that the tribe of Dan had made themselves and their memory infamous and detestable by that gross idolatry, which began first and continued longest in that tribe, Judges 18.” (Poole)
3. (7:13) The descendants of Naphtali.
The sons of Naphtali were Jahziel, Guni, Jezer, and Shallum, the sons of Bilhah.
4. (7:14-19) The descendants of the Western Tribe of Manasseh.
The descendants of Manasseh: his Syrian concubine bore him Machir the father of Gilead, the father of Asriel. Machir took as his wife the sister of Huppim and Shuppim, whose name was Maachah. The name of Gilead’s grandson was Zelophehad, but Zelophehad begot only daughters. (Maachah the wife of Machir bore a son, and she called his name Peresh. The name of his brother was Sheresh, and his sons were Ulam and Rakem. The son of Ulam was Bedan.) These were the descendants of Gilead the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh. His sister Hammoleketh bore Ishhod, Abiezer, and Mahlah. And the sons of Shemida were Ahian, Shechem, Likhi, and Aniam.
a. But Zelophehad begot only daughters: Zelophehad is the one mentioned in Numbers 26:33, 27:1-11 and 36:1-12 when the question came to Moses about female inheritance rights.
5. (7:20-29) The descendants of Ephraim.
The sons of Ephraim were Shuthelah, Bered his son, Tahath his son, Eladah his son, Tahath his son, Zabad his son, Shuthelah his son, and Ezer and Elead. The men of Gath who were born in that land killed them because they came down to take away their cattle. Then Ephraim their father mourned many days, and his brethren came to comfort him. And when he went in to his wife, she conceived and bore a son; and he called his name Beriah, because tragedy had come upon his house. Now his daughter was Sheerah, who built Lower and Upper Beth Horon and Uzzen Sheerah; and Rephah was his son, as well as Resheph, and Telah his son, Tahan his son, Laadan his son, Ammihud his son, Elishama his son, Nun his son, and Joshua his son. Now their possessions and dwelling places were Bethel and its towns: to the east Naaran, to the west Gezer and its towns, and Shechem and its towns, as far as Ayyah and its towns; and by the borders of the children of Manasseh were Beth Shean and its towns, Taanach and its towns, Megiddo and its towns, Dor and its towns. In these dwelt the children of Joseph, the son of Israel.
a. The sons of Ephraim: “The Ephraimites were famous for their wealth, power, and prowess; but withal they are noted for insolent, proud, and quarrelsome.” (Trapp)
6. (7:30-40) The descendants of Asher.
The sons of Asher were Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi, Beriah, and their sister Serah. The sons of Beriah were Heber and Malchiel, who was the father of Birzaith. And Heber begot Japhlet, Shomer, Hotham, and their sister Shua. The sons of Japhlet were Pasach, Bimhal, and Ashvath. These were the children of Japhlet. The sons of Shemer were Ahi, Rohgah, Jehubbah, and Aram. And the sons of his brother Helem were Zophah, Imna, Shelesh, and Amal. The sons of Zophah were Suah, Harnepher, Shual, Beri, Imrah, Bezer, Hod, Shamma, Shilshah, Jithran, and Beera. The sons of Jether were Jephunneh, Pispah, and Ara. The sons of Ulla were Arah, Haniel, and Rizia. All these were the children of Asher, heads of their fathers’ houses, choice men, mighty men of valor, chief leaders. And they were recorded by genealogies among the army fit for battle; their number was twenty-six thousand.
a. Their sister Serah…. their sister Shua: “The rabbins say that the daughters of Asher were very beautiful, and were all matched with kings or priests.” (Clarke)
7. (8:1-40) The descendants of Benjamin.
Now Benjamin begot Bela his firstborn, Ashbel the second, Aharah the third, Nohah the fourth, and Rapha the fifth. The sons of Bela were Addar, Gera, Abihud, Abishua, Naaman, Ahoah, Gera, Shephuphan, and Huram. These are the sons of Ehud, who were the heads of the fathers’ houses of the inhabitants of Geba, and who forced them to move to Manahath: Naaman, Ahijah, and Gera who forced them to move. He begot Uzza and Ahihud. Also Shaharaim had children in the country of Moab, after he had sent away Hushim and Baara his wives. By Hodesh his wife he begot Jobab, Zibia, Mesha, Malcam, Jeuz, Sachiah, and Mirmah. These were his sons, heads of their fathers’ houses. And by Hushim he begot Abitub and Elpaal. The sons of Elpaal were Eber, Misham, and Shemed, who built Ono and Lod with its towns; and Beriah and Shema, who were heads of their fathers’ houses of the inhabitants of Aijalon, who drove out the inhabitants of Gath. Ahio, Shashak, Jeremoth, Zebadiah, Arad, Eder, Michael, Ispah, and Joha were the sons of Beriah. Zebadiah, Meshullam, Hizki, Heber, Ishmerai, Jizliah, and Jobab were the sons of Elpaal. Jakim, Zichri, Zabdi, Elienai, Zillethai, Eliel, Adaiah, Beraiah, and Shimrath were the sons of Shimei. Ishpan, Eber, Eliel, Abdon, Zichri, Hanan, Hananiah, Elam, Antothijah, Iphdeiah, and Penuel were the sons of Shashak. Shamsherai, Shehariah, Athaliah, Jaareshiah, Elijah, and Zichri were the sons of Jeroham. These were heads of the fathers’ houses by their generations, chief men. These dwelt in Jerusalem. Now the father of Gibeon, whose wife’s name was Maacah, dwelt at Gibeon. And his firstborn son was Abdon, then Zur, Kish, Baal, Nadab, Gedor, Ahio, Zecher, and Mikloth, who begot Shimeah. They also dwelt alongside their relatives in Jerusalem, with their brethren. Ner begot Kish, Kish begot Saul, and Saul begot Jonathan, Malchishua, Abinadab, and Esh-Baal. The son of Jonathan was Merib-Baal, and Merib-Baal begot Micah. The sons of Micah were Pithon, Melech, Tarea, and Ahaz. And Ahaz begot Jehoaddah; Jehoaddah begot Alemeth, Azmaveth, and Zimri; and Zimri begot Moza. Moza begot Binea, Raphah his son, Eleasah his son, and Azel his son. Azel had six sons whose names were these: Azrikam, Bocheru, Ishmael, Sheariah, Obadiah, and Hanan. All these were the sons of Azel. And the sons of Eshek his brother were Ulam his firstborn, Jeush the second, and Eliphelet the third. The sons of Ulam were mighty men of valor; archers. They had many sons and grandsons, one hundred and fifty in all. These were all sons of Benjamin.
a. Now Benjamin: The tribe was already mentioned in 1 Chronicles 7:6-12, but is given more attention here. One reason for this is because most of these settlements were in the area of Jerusalem, which was the main area that the returning exiles came to in the days when Chronicles was written.
i. “Chronicles elaborates this material, not simply because of the significance of King Saul and his family, as it continued a dozen generations after him, but primarily because of the importance of Benjamin as a tribe, which ranked second only to Judah in postexilic society.” (Payne)
b. Ner begot Kish, Kish begot Saul: “This Ner is also called Abiel (1 Samuel 9:1). The Hebrews tell us that his proper name was Abiel; and that he was called Ner – that is, a lamp or torch – because he outshone in holiness.”
c. The son of Jonathan was Merib-Baal: “The same as Mephi-bosheth; for, as the Israelites detested Baal, which signifies lord, they changed it into bosheth, which signifies shame or reproach.” (Clarke)
d. Azel had six sons whose names were these: “Of the six sons of Azel, mentioned 1 Chronicles 8:38, R.S. Jarchi says that their allegorical expositions were sufficient to load thirteen thousand camels! No doubt these were reputed to be deeply learned men. There was a time when the allegorizers and metaphor-men ranked very high among theologians, even in our own enlightened and critical country. At present they are almost totally out of fashion. May they never recover their footing! But what a shameful hyperbole is that of Jarchi! The writings of six men a load for thirteen thousand camels!” (Clarke)
e. The sons of Ulam were mighty men of valor; archers: Archers is in “Hebrew, that tread the bow; for the bows of steel, which these used, required great strength to bend them; which therefore they did by treading the bow with their feet, and pulling the string with both their hands.” (Poole)
1 Chronicles 3 – The Royal Line of David and the House of Jesse
A. The descendants of David.
1. (1-3) The wives of David and their sons.
Now these were the sons of David who were born to him in Hebron: The firstborn was Amnon, by Ahinoam the Jezreelitess; the second, Daniel, by Abigail the Carmelitess; the third, Absalom the son of Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur; the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; the fifth, Shephatiah, by Abital; the sixth, Ithream, by his wife Eglah.
a. Now these were the sons of David: David had several wives and seven are listed in this chapter; Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, Abigail the Carmelitess, Maacah, Haggith, Abital, Eglah, and Bathshua (1 Chronicles 3:5). These were in addition to his concubines (2 Samuel 5:13).
i. Daniel: “In 2 Samuel 3:3, this person is called Chileab; he probably had two names. The Targum says, ‘The second, Daniel, who was also called Chileab, because he was in every respect like to his father.” (Clarke)
b. Eglah: Most suppose that this is another name for Michal, the daughter of Saul.
2. (4-9) Sons born to David in Jerusalem.
These six were born to him in Hebron. There he reigned seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty-three years. And these were born to him in Jerusalem: Shimea, Shobab, Nathan, and Solomon; four by Bathshua the daughter of Ammiel. Also there were Ibhar, Elishama, Eliphelet, Nogah, Nepheg, Japhia, Elishama, Eliada, and Eliphelet; nine in all. These were all the sons of David, besides the sons of the concubines, and Tamar their sister.
a. And in Jerusalem he reigned thirty-three years: The reign of David can be divided into these two parts; before he made Jerusalem his capital city and after.
b. Bathshua: Most suppose that this is another name for Bathsheba.
i. “Bathshua is probably an alternative pronunciation for Bathsheba, perhaps influenced by 1 Chronicles 2:3, though Solomon is described unexpectedly as her fourth son (cf. 2 Samuel 12:24-25).” (Selman)
B. The royal line of Judah after David.
1. (10-16) The line of David until the time of Judah’s exile.
Solomon’s son was Rehoboam; Abijah was his son, Asa his son, Jehoshaphat his son, Joram his son, Ahaziah his son, Joash his son, Amaziah his son, Azariah his son, Jotham his son, Ahaz his son, Hezekiah his son, Manasseh his son, Amon his son, and Josiah his son. The sons of Josiah were Johanan the firstborn, the second Jehoiakim, the third Zedekiah, and the fourth Shallum. The sons of Jehoiakim were Jeconiah his son and Zedekiah his son.
a. Solomon’s son was Rehoboam: This section traces the descent of the line of David from Solomon to the time after the exile, when Chronicles seems to have been written.
i. “All the Davidic kings are here, and only Athaliah, Ahab’s daughter (cf. 2 Kings 11) is missing.” (Selman)
ii. “Josiah’s firstborn son, Johanan, is not mentioned elsewhere and may have died young.” (Payne)
iii. Selman on Shallum, Jehoiakim, and Zedekiah: “The information here cannot be reconciled with what is said about their ages in 2 Kings 23:31, 36; 24:18, and it is easiest to assume some scribal error in connection with the numbers.”
2. (17-24) The line of David after the time of Judah’s exile.
And the sons of Jeconiah were Assir, Shealtiel his son, and Malchiram, Pedaiah, Shenazzar, Jecamiah, Hoshama, and Nedabiah. The sons of Pedaiah were Zerubbabel and Shimei. The sons of Zerubbabel were Meshullam, Hananiah, Shelomith their sister, and Hashubah, Ohel, Berechiah, Hasadiah, and Jushab-Hesed; five in all. The sons of Hananiah were Pelatiah and Jeshaiah, the sons of Rephaiah, the sons of Arnan, the sons of Obadiah, and the sons of Shechaniah. The son of Shechaniah was Shemaiah. The sons of Shemaiah were Hattush, Igal, Bariah, Neariah, and Shaphat; six in all. The sons of Neariah were Elioenai, Hezekiah, and Azrikam; three in all. The sons of Elioenai were Hodaviah, Eliashib, Pelaiah, Akkub, Johanan, Delaiah, and Anani; seven in all.
a. And the sons of Jeconiah: These were the descendants of the line of David born after the fall of Judah. They carried on the royal line of David.
i. “Jeremiah has said (Jeremiah 22:24-30) that Jeconiah, or, as he calls him, Coniah, should be childless; but this must refer to his posterity being deprived of the throne, and indeed thus the prophet interprets it himself: For no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling anymore in Judah.” (Clarke)
ii. “Through this multitude of largely unknown names, the Chronicler points out that God’s election purposes were still at work despite the vicissitudes of Judah’s history (e.g. 1 Chronicles 2:3,7) and the exile (e.g. 1 Chronicles 3:17-24).” (Selman)
1 Chronicles 2 – Descendants of Abraham and Judah
A. Descendants of Abraham.
1. (1-2) The descendants of Abraham through Israel.
These were the sons of Israel: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Joseph, Benjamin, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher.
a. These were the sons of Israel: The line of the patriarchs began with Abraham, and was passed down to Isaac (and not Ishmael) and then to Jacob/Israel (and not to Esau). Yet with the sons of Israel, all the sons were chosen as inheritors of the covenant.
b. Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Joseph, Benjamin, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher: These twelve sons of Israel actually became 13 tribes of Israel, because two tribes came from Joseph (Manasseh and Ephraim).
i. “The order of names follows Genesis 35:23-26, with one exception. Dan is expected after Benjamin, and no convincing reason has been put forward for the change (cf. also Exodus 1:2-4). A different order is used in the following chapters.” (Selman)
2. (3-17) The descendants of Judah to the family of Jesse, the father of David.
The sons of Judah were Er, Onan, and Shelah. These three were born to him by the daughter of Shua, the Canaanitess. Er, the firstborn of Judah, was wicked in the sight of the LORD; so He killed him. And Tamar, his daughter-in-law, bore him Perez and Zerah. All the sons of Judah were five. The sons of Perez were Hezron and Hamul. The sons of Zerah were Zimri, Ethan, Heman, Calcol, and Dara; five of them in all. The son of Carmi was Achar, the troubler of Israel, who transgressed in the accursed thing. The son of Ethan was Azariah. Also the sons of Hezron who were born to him were Jerahmeel, Ram, and Chelubai. Ram begot Amminadab, and Amminadab begot Nahshon, leader of the children of Judah; Nahshon begot Salma, and Salma begot Boaz; Boaz begot Obed, and Obed begot Jesse; Jesse begot Eliab his firstborn, Abinadab the second, Shimea the third, Nethanel the fourth, Raddai the fifth, Ozem the sixth, and David the seventh. Now their sisters were Zeruiah and Abigail. And the sons of Zeruiah were Abishai, Joab, and Asahel; three. Abigail bore Amasa; and the father of Amasa was Jether the Ishmaelite.
a. The sons of Judah: There were twelve sons of Israel, and thirteen tribes from those twelve sons. Yet the tribe of Judah received first attention from the Chronicler.
i. “Judah heads the tribal genealogies, and receives more extensive treatment than any other tribe. The reason for this special prominence is to be found in the central position of David’s line (1 Chronicles 2:10-17; 3:1-24).” (Selman)
ii. “But while our Chronicler lists all twelve of the sons of Israel-Jacob, his attention quickly focuses on Judah (1 Chronicles 2:3), the description of whose tribe occupies the next two and one-half chapters.” (Payne)
b. Er, the firstborn of Judah, was wicked in the sight of the LORD; so He killed him: This listing of the line of Judah also includes those with a darker testimony of life, including Er, Onan, Tamar, and Achar (also known as Achan in Joshua 7:24-26).
i. “Achan was also guilty of ‘unfaithfulness’, a key term in Chronicles.… This word has the nuance of depriving God of his due, and is Chronicles’ favourite explanation for the disaster of the exile.” (Selman)
c. Jesse begot…David the seventh: This section of genealogy deals with the line of Judah to David, the founder of the Davidic dynasty that ruled over Israel and Judah.
i. Abishai, Joab, Asahel, and Amasa: “The genealogies of these four warriors, made famous under their half-uncle David (cf. 2 Samuel 2:18-19; 19:13), are not drawn from 2 Samuel 2:18 and 17:25; but apart from this later passage, we would not have known that their mothers, Zeruiah and Abigail, were step-daughters of Jesse, born to David’s mother by her presumably earlier marriage to Nahash.” (Payne)
B. Other descendants of the tribe of Judah.
1. (18-24) The family of Hezron, a grandson of Judah.
Caleb the son of Hezron had children by Azubah, his wife, and by Jerioth. Now these were her sons: Jesher, Shobab, and Ardon. When Azubah died, Caleb took Ephrath as his wife, who bore him Hur. And Hur begot Uri, and Uri begot Bezalel. Now afterward Hezron went in to the daughter of Machir the father of Gilead, whom he married when he was sixty years old; and she bore him Segub. Segub begot Jair, who had twenty-three cities in the land of Gilead. (Geshur and Syria took from them the towns of Jair, with Kenath and its towns; sixty towns.) All these belonged to the sons of Machir the father of Gilead. After Hezron died in Caleb Ephrathah, Hezron’s wife Abijah bore him Ashhur the father of Tekoa.
a. Caleb the son of Hezron: This traces a side-line in the tribe of Judah, separate from the line that culminated in David.
i. “In practice, the otherwise unknown Caleb son of Hezron is probably distinct from Caleb, a Kenizzite and son of Jephunneh, who is frequently said to have ‘followed the LORD wholeheartedly’ (e.g. Numbers 14:24; 32:12; Joshua 14:6, 13-14).” (Selman) Caleb the Kenizzite seems to be mentioned in 1 Chronicles 4:15-16.
b. Jesher, Shobab, and Ardon: These obscure names connected with the tribe of Judah are listed for an important general reason. Most of the returning exiles in the general time Chronicles was written were connected to the tribe of Judah.
i. “The land that was occupied by the Jews who had returned from the Babylonian exile consisted primarily of the tribal territories of Judah and Benjamin. Also, the people who make up Ezra’s community were largely from these same two tribes (Ezra 1:5; 10:9).” (Payne)
2. (25-41) The family of Jerahmeel, a great-grandson of Judah.
The sons of Jerahmeel, the firstborn of Hezron, were Ram, the firstborn, and Bunah, Oren, Ozem, and Ahijah. Jerahmeel had another wife, whose name was Atarah; she was the mother of Onam. The sons of Ram, the firstborn of Jerahmeel, were Maaz, Jamin, and Eker. The sons of Onam were Shammai and Jada. The sons of Shammai were Nadab and Abishur. And the name of the wife of Abishur was Abihail, and she bore him Ahban and Molid. The sons of Nadab were Seled and Appaim; Seled died without children. The son of Appaim was Ishi, the son of Ishi was Sheshan, and Sheshan’s son was Ahlai. The sons of Jada, the brother of Shammai, were Jether and Jonathan; Jether died without children. The sons of Jonathan were Peleth and Zaza. These were the sons of Jerahmeel. Now Sheshan had no sons, only daughters. And Sheshan had an Egyptian servant whose name was Jarha. Sheshan gave his daughter to Jarha his servant as wife, and she bore him Attai. Attai begot Nathan, and Nathan begot Zabad; Zabad begot Ephlal, and Ephlal begot Obed; Obed begot Jehu, and Jehu begot Azariah; Azariah begot Helez, and Helez begot Eleasah; Eleasah begot Sismai, and Sismai begot Shallum; Shallum begot Jekamiah, and Jekamiah begot Elishama.
a. The sons of Jerahmeel: This traces a side-line in the tribe of Judah, separate from the line that culminated in David.
3. (42-55) The family of Caleb, a great-grandson of Judah.
The descendants of Caleb the brother of Jerahmeel were Mesha, his firstborn, who was the father of Ziph, and the sons of Mareshah the father of Hebron. The sons of Hebron were Korah, Tappuah, Rekem, and Shema. Shema begot Raham the father of Jorkoam, and Rekem begot Shammai. And the son of Shammai was Maon, and Maon was the father of Beth Zur. Ephah, Caleb’s concubine, bore Haran, Moza, and Gazez; and Haran begot Gazez. And the sons of Jahdai were Regem, Jotham, Geshan, Pelet, Ephah, and Shaaph. Maachah, Caleb’s concubine, bore Sheber and Tirhanah. She also bore Shaaph the father of Madmannah, Sheva the father of Machbenah and the father of Gibea. And the daughter of Caleb was Achsah. These were the descendants of Caleb: The sons of Hur, the firstborn of Ephrathah, were Shobal the father of Kirjath Jearim, Salma the father of Bethlehem, and Hareph the father of Beth Gader. And Shobal the father of Kirjath Jearim had descendants: Haroeh, and half of the families of Manuhoth. The families of Kirjath Jearim were the Ithrites, the Puthites, the Shumathites, and the Mishraites. From these came the Zorathites and the Eshtaolites. The sons of Salma were Bethlehem, the Netophathites, Atroth Beth Joab, half of the Manahethites, and the Zorites. And the families of the scribes who dwelt at Jabez were the Tirathites, the Shimeathites, and the Suchathites. These were the Kenites who came from Hammath, the father of the house of Rechab.
a. The descendants of Caleb: This traces another side-line in the tribe of Judah, separate from the line that culminated in David.
i. “Caleb’s ‘daughter’ Acsah was only a distant descendant of Caleb the son of Hezron, though she was an immediate daughter of Caleb the son of Jephunneh, the faithful spy (listed in 1 Chronicles 4:15). She is remembered as the bride of Othniel, the first of the judges (Judges 3:9-11), having been promised to him for his conquest of Debir (Joshua 15:15-19; Judges 1:11-15).” (Payne)
b. These are the Kenites: “The Kenites were originally a foreign people (Genesis 15:19), some of whom, by marriage or adoption, became incorporated into the tribe of Judah.” (Payne)
1 Chronicles 1 – From Adam to Abraham
A. From Adam to Abraham.
1. (1-4) From Adam to the Sons of Noah.
Adam, Seth, Enosh, Cainan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
a. Adam, Seth, Enosh: The opening verse of the Books of Chronicles indicates something of their focus. We know that Adam and Eve actually had three sons by name (Genesis 4:1-2, 4:25) plus many other unnamed sons and daughters (Genesis 5:4). Yet in this first verse we read nothing of Cain or Abel; only of Seth. This indicates that the Chronicler was inspired by God to make a selective genealogy for a specific purpose.
i. The Books of 1 and 2 Chronicles were originally one book, and focus historically on King David and his dynasty after him. The actual history begins with the death of Saul, but the stage is set with these genealogical tables. The story continues until the return of the exiles from the Babylonian captivity, leading many to think that the Books were written by Ezra or at least in his time.
ii. “Since Chronicles appears to be the work of an individual writer, who was a Levitical leader, some identification with Ezra the priest and scribe (Ezra 7:1-6) appears possible from the outset.” (Payne)
iii. We can imagine the importance of these genealogical lists for the returning exiles. The message of the continuity of God’s work through the generations was important for them, as well as helping them to affirm their own place in that flow of God’s work through the ages.
iv. “The principal design of the writer appears to have been this: to point out, from the public registers, which were still preserved, what had been the state of the different families previously to the captivity, that at their return they might enter in and repossess their respective inheritances. He enters particularly into the functions, genealogies, families, and orders of the priests and Levites; and this was peculiarly necessary after the return from the captivity, to the end that the worship of God might be conducted in the same way as before, and by the proper legitimate persons.” (Clarke)
v. “These books of the CHRONICLES are not the same which are so called, 1 Kings 14:19, and elsewhere, (because some passages said to be there mentioned are not found here,) but other books, and written by other persons, and for other ends.” (Poole)
vi. “It was not in fact until the fourth century A.D. that Jerome, the famous Bible translator, first applied the term ‘Chronicle’ to these books.… The mediating influence came from Luther, whose German title, Die Chronika, passed into English with Bible translations proliferated during the Reformation period.” (Selman)
b. Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: This father and his three sons – each survivors of the flood – became the basis for the nations in the post-flood world.
i. The span from Adam to Noah and his sons is common to all humanity. This first chapter is “A summary of the ‘generations’ of Genesis, from Adam to Edom/Esau, shows that all the nations were God’s creation and therefore part of his special purpose for Israel.” (Selman)
2. (5-7) The descendants of Japheth, the son of Noah.
The sons of Japheth were Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras. The sons of Gomer were Ashkenaz, Diphath, and Togarmah. The sons of Javan were Elishah, Tarshishah, Kittim, and Rodanim.
a. The sons of Japheth: It is commonly supposed that “The seven sons of Japheth founded the people of Europe and northern Asia. ” (Payne)
· From Javan came Greek Ionia.
· From Gomer came the ancient Cimmerians of the Russian plains.
· From Madai came the Medes and Persians of Iran.
· From Tubal and Meshech came the inhabitants of the Turkish plateau.
b. Kittim, and Rodanim: These are respectively the islands of Cyprus and Rhodes.
3. (8-16) The descendants of Ham, the son of Noah.
The sons of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan. The sons of Cush were Seba, Havilah, Sabta, Raama, and Sabtecha. The sons of Raama were Sheba and Dedan. Cush begot Nimrod; he began to be a mighty one on the earth. Mizraim begot Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim, Pathrusim, Casluhim (from whom came the Philistines and the Caphtorim). Canaan begot Sidon, his firstborn, and Heth; the Jebusite, the Amorite, and the Girgashite; the Hivite, the Arkite, and the Sinite; the Arvadite, the Zemarite, and the Hamathite.
a. Ham: The descendants of Ham are the peoples who populated Africa and the Far East.
b. Cush: Apparently, this family divided into two branches early. Some founded Babylon (notably, Nimrod) and others founded Ethiopia.
i. Clarke cites an early Jewish Targum regarding Nimrod, who began to be a mighty one on the earth: “He began to be bold in sin, a murderer of the innocent, and a rebel before the Lord.”
c. Mizraim: This is another way the Bible refers to Egypt. Put refers to Libya, the region of North Africa west of Egypt. Canaan refers to the peoples who originally settled the land we today think of as Israel and its surrounding regions.
i. From whom came the Philistines: “The Hamitic Philistines were ‘sea peoples’ before settling in Palestine, coming from the Casluhim, who were of Egyptian origin but are related to the Minoan culture of Caphtor (Crete) and the southern coast of Asia Minor.” (Payne)
4. (17-27) The descendants of Shem, the son of Noah.
The sons of Shem were Elam, Asshur, Arphaxad, Lud, Aram, Uz, Hul, Gether, and Meshech. Arphaxad begot Shelah, and Shelah begot Eber. To Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided; and his brother’s name was Joktan. Joktan begot Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, Ebal, Abimael, Sheba, Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab. All these were the sons of Joktan. Shem, Arphaxad, Shelah, Eber, Peleg, Reu, Serug, Nahor, Terah, and Abram, who is Abraham.
a. The sons of Shem: From Shem came Elam, who was an ancestor to the Persian peoples; Asshur, who was the father of the Assyrians; Lud was father to the Lydians who lived for a time in Asia Minor; and Aram was father to the Arameans, who we also know as the Syrians. Arphaxad was the ancestor to Abram and the Hebrews.
i. Significantly, the Chronicler included the nations that held Israel in exile (such as the Persians). As the Chronicler recorded this sweeping panorama of all the nations as having a part in God’s plan, it assured Israel that they were still part of the LORD’s plan and so were the nations that held them in exile.
b. Uz: Later, a region in Arabia was named after this son of Aram. Job came from the land of Uz (Job 1:1).
i. “Uz gave the name of the home of the patriarch Job (Job 1:1), who may thus have been an early Edomite descendant of Esau (cf. Lamentations 4:21).” (Payne)
ii. Some think that Jobab is another name for Job, but their names are actually quite different in the Hebrew. “Supposed by some to be the same as Job, whose book forms a part of the canon of Scripture. But in their names there is no similarity.” (Clarke)
c. And Shelah begot Eber: “The name Eber forms the root of ‘Hebrew’; but this patriarch was the ancestor not only of Abraham (v. 27), but also of a number of other unsettled people, know in ancient history as Habiru or Apiru.” (Payne)
d. Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided: This seems to refer to the dividing of the nations at the tower of Babel described in Genesis 11:1-9.
B. The sons of Abraham and their descendants to David.
1. (28) The sons of Abraham.
The sons of Abraham were Isaac and Ishmael.
a. Isaac: This was the son of promise and the covenant, whose birth was announced in Genesis 17 and 18 and whose life is recorded in Genesis 21-27.
b. Ishmael: This was the son born of Hagar, blessed as a son of Abraham but not an heir to the promise or the covenant (Genesis 16 and Genesis 21).
2. (29-31) The descendants of Abraham through Ishmael.
These are their genealogies: The firstborn of Ishmael was Nebajoth; then Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah. These were the sons of Ishmael.
a. These were the sons of Ishmael: God promised to make a great nation through Ishmael (Genesis 21:18). These descendants were the beginning of the fulfillment of that promise, ultimately fulfilled in the Arabic peoples.
3. (32-33) The descendants of Abraham through Keturah.
Now the sons born to Keturah, Abraham’s concubine, were Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. The sons of Jokshan were Sheba and Dedan. The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah.
a. All these were the children of Keturah: This was the second wife of Abraham, taken after the death of Sarah (Genesis 25:1-4).
4. (34-42) The descendants of Abraham through Issac’s son Esau.
And Abraham begot Isaac. The sons of Isaac were Esau and Israel. The sons of Esau were Eliphaz, Reuel, Jeush, Jaalam, and Korah. And the sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zephi, Gatam, and Kenaz; and by Timna, Amalek. The sons of Reuel were Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah. The sons of Seir were Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, Dishon, Ezer, and Dishan. And the sons of Lotan were Hori and Homam; Lotan’s sister was Timna. The sons of Shobal were Alian, Manahath, Ebal, Shephi, and Onam. The sons of Zibeon were Ajah and Anah. The son of Anah was Dishon. The sons of Dishon were Hamran, Eshban, Ithran, and Cheran. The sons of Ezer were Bilhan, Zaavan, and Jaakan. The sons of Dishan were Uz and Aran.
a. The sons of Isaac were Esau and Israel: Of these two sons, only Israel was chosen as the son of the promise and the heir of the covenant of Abraham. Nevertheless, the sons of Esau were still important to God and had a place in His eternal plan.
5. (43-54) The Kings and Chiefs of Edom
Now these were the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before a king reigned over the children of Israel: Bela the son of Beor, and the name of his city was Dinhabah. And when Bela died, Jobab the son of Zerah of Bozrah reigned in his place. When Jobab died, Husham of the land of the Temanites reigned in his place. And when Husham died, Hadad the son of Bedad, who attacked Midian in the field of Moab, reigned in his place. The name of his city was Avith. When Hadad died, Samlah of Masrekah reigned in his place. And when Samlah died, Saul of Rehoboth-by-the-River reigned in his place. When Saul died, Baal-Hanan the son of Achbor reigned in his place. And when Baal-Hanan died, Hadad reigned in his place; and the name of his city was Pai. His wife’s name was Mehetabel the daughter of Matred, the daughter of Mezahab. Hadad died also. And the chiefs of Edom were Chief Timnah, Chief Aliah, Chief Jetheth, Chief Aholibamah, Chief Elah, Chief Pinon, Chief Kenaz, Chief Teman, Chief Mibzar, Chief Magdiel, and Chief Iram. These were the chiefs of Edom.
a. These were the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before a king reigned over the children of Israel: It seems that the kings of Edom came into power before the kings of Israel. In this, the Chronicler reminds the reader that God’s ways have their own timing and wisdom; a timing and wisdom which is sometimes apparent and sometimes not.
i. This list of the kings of Edom shows that Esau was indeed a blessed man (Genesis 33:8-16, Genesis 36), though he was rejected as the inheritor of the covenant of Abraham.
b. Bela. … Jobab.… Zerah.… Husham: The steady repetition of the names may seem to be an irrelevant blur to the modern reader, but they have an important place in God’s plan of the ages. If nothing else, they demonstrate the reality of prior generations and our connection to both them and God’s broader plan – just as a walk through a graveyard can speak the same things to us.
i. “This is an ancient graveyard. The names of past generations who were born and died, who loved and suffered, who stormed and fought through the world, are engraven on these solid slabs. But there is no inscription to record their worth or demerit. Just names, and nothing more.” (Meyer)
c. These were the chiefs of Edom: The chapter closes without a mention of the name of God in the entire chapter. Yet, as the Chronicler mentions these men as quoting from the sacred history of Genesis, God is the unspoken main character in the entire sweeping drama.
i. “This chapter has therefore become a panoramic view of God’s dealings with humanity in both creation and redemption. God’s name does not actually appear, of course, but his activity is visible everywhere to the discerning reader.” (Selman)
ii. We see God almost everywhere in this chapter:
· We see God calling out for Adam, hiding in his shame.
· We see God blessing the birth of Seth, providing a son to replace both the one murdered and the murderer.
· We see God walking with Enoch.
· We see God calling to Noah and shutting the door of the ark.
· We see God speaking to the sons of Noah and making His covenant with them.
· We see God as the Most High, dividing an inheritance to the nations (Deuteronomy 32:8).
· We see God dividing the earth at the tower of Babel in the days of Peleg.
· We see God choosing a Babylonian, from an idol-worshipping family, named Abraham.
· We see God stopping the sacrificial knife held over a surrendered Isaac.
· We see God orchestrating the choice of Israel over his brother Esau, despite all fleshly efforts of man to do otherwise.
· We see God blessing Esau and his descendants, as He promised to do.
2 Chronicles 36 – The Fall of Jerusalem
A. The last four kings of Judah.
1. (1-4) The short reign of King Jehoahaz.
Then the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, and made him king in his father’s place in Jerusalem. Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. Now the king of Egypt deposed him at Jerusalem; and he imposed on the land a tribute of one hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold. Then the king of Egypt made Jehoahaz’s brother Eliakim king over Judah and Jerusalem, and changed his name to Jehoiakim. And Necho took Jehoahaz his brother and carried him off to Egypt.
a. Then the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, and made him king in his father’s place: This son of Josiah was made king by will of the people. The name Jehoahaz means “the LORD has seized,” and was possibly a throne name for this son of Josiah. His given name seems to have been Shallum (Jeremiah 22:11, 1 Chronicles 3:15).
i. “The regular succession to the throne of Judah ceased with the lamented Josiah. Jehoahaz was not the eldest son of the late king. Johanan and Jehoiakim were both older than he (1 Chronicles 3:15). He was made king by popular choice: it was the preference of the multitude, not the appointment of God.” (Knapp)
ii. “It seems that after Necho had discomfited Josiah, he proceeded immediately against Charchemish, and in the interim, Josiah dying of his wounds, the people made his son king.” (Clarke)
iii. “His name is omitted from among those of our Lord’s ancestors in Matthew 1…which may imply that God did not recognize Jehoahaz, the people’s choice, as being in a true sense the successor.” (Knapp)
iv. 2 Kings 23:32 tells us, he did evil in the sight of the LORD. The reforms of King Josiah were wonderful, but they were not a long-lasting revival. His own son Jehoahaz did not follow in his godly ways.
b. Necho took Jehoahaz his brother and carried him off to Egypt: After the defeat of King Josiah in battle, Pharaoh was able to dominate Judah and make it effectively a vassal kingdom and a buffer against the growing Babylonian Empire. He imposed on the land a tribute and put on the throne of Judah a puppet king, a brother of Jehoahaz (Eliakim, renamed Jehoiakim).
2. (5-8) The reign and captivity of Jehoiakim.
Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD his God. Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against him, and bound him in bronze fetters to carry him off to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar also carried off some of the articles from the house of the LORD to Babylon, and put them in his temple at Babylon. Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim, the abominations which he did, and what was found against him, indeed they are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah. Then Jehoiachin his son reigned in his place.
a. Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king: Jehoiakim was nothing more than a puppet king presiding over a vassal kingdom under the Egyptians. He imposed heavy taxes on the people and paid the money to the Egyptians, as required (2 Kings 23:35).
i. “Necho had placed him there as a viceroy, simply to raise and collect his taxes.” (Clarke)
ii. “Yet at the same time Jehoiakim was wasting resources on the construction of a new palace by forced labour (Jeremiah 22:13-19).” (Wiseman)
b. He did evil in the sight of the LORD: Jehoiakim, like his brother Jehoahaz, did not follow the godly example of his father Josiah.
i. Jeremiah 36:22-24 describes the great ungodliness of Jehoiakim – how he even burned a scroll of God’s word. In response to this, Jeremiah received this message from God: And you shall say to Jehoiakim king of Judah, “Thus says the LORD: ‘You have burned this scroll, saying, “Why have you written in it that the king of Babylon will certainly come and destroy this land, and cause man and beast to cease from here?”‘ Therefore thus says the LORD concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah: ‘He shall have no one to sit on the throne of David, and his dead body shall be cast out to the heat of the day and the frost of the night.’” (Jeremiah 36:29-30)
ii. “To all his former evils he added this, that he slew Urijah the prophet (Jeremiah 26:20, 23).” (Trapp)
c. Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up: Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Babylonian Empire, was concerned with Judah because of its strategic position in relation to the empires of Egypt and Assyria. Therefore it was important to him to conquer Judah and make it a subject kingdom, securely loyal to Babylon.
i. Nebuchadnezzar came against Jerusalem because the Pharaoh of Egypt invaded Babylon. In response the young prince Nebuchadnezzar defeated the Egyptians at Carchemish, and then he pursued their fleeing army all the way down to the Sinai. Along the way (or on the way back), he subdued Jerusalem, which had been loyal to the Pharaoh of Egypt.
ii. This happened in 605 B.C. and it was the first (but not the last) encounter between Nebuchadnezzar and Jehoiakim. There would be two later invasions (597 and 587 B.C.).
iii. This specific attack is documented by the Babylonian Chronicles, a collection of tablets discovered as early as 1887, held in the British Museum. In them, Nebuchadnezzar’s 605 B.C. presence in Judah is documented and clarified. When the Babylonian chronicles were finally published in 1956, they gave us first-rate, detailed political and military information about the first 10 years of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. L.W. King prepared these tablets in 1919; he then died, and they were neglected for four decades.
iv. Excavations also document the victory of Nebuchadnezzar over the Egyptians at Carchemish in May or June of 605 B.C. Archaeologists found evidence of battle, vast quantities of arrowheads, layers of ash, and a shield of a Greek mercenary fighting for the Egyptians.
v. This campaign of Nebuchadnezzar was interrupted suddenly when he heard of his father’s death and raced back to Babylon to secure his succession to the throne. He traveled about 500 miles in two weeks – remarkable speed for travel in that day. Nebuchadnezzar only had the time to take a few choice captives (such as Daniel), a few treasures and a promise of submission from Jehoiakim.
d. Bound him in bronze fetters to carry him off to Babylon: According to 2 Kings 24:1-7 this happened because Jehoiakim rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar. God did not bless this rebellion because though Jehoiakim was a patriot of the kingdom of Judah, he was not a man submitted to God. These sins were among those things that were found against him.
i. 2 Chronicles 36:6 tells us that Nebuchadnezzar intended to take Jehoiakim to Babylon, bound in bronze fetters. Yet Jeremiah 22:19 tells us that he would be disgracefully buried outside of Jerusalem.
ii. “The closing formulae make no reference to the burial of Jehoiakim, whose death occurred about December 598 before the first capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. 2 Chronicles 36:7 implies that he was taken to Babylon, but Jeremiah 22:19 tells how he was thrown unmourned outside Jerusalem, perhaps by a pro-Babylonian group who gave him the unceremonial burial of ‘an ass’.” (Wiseman)
iii. “2 Chronicles 36:6 states that Nebuchadnezzar ‘bound him in fetters, to carry him to Babylon.’ It does not say he was taken there. He may have been released after promising subjection to his conqueror.” (Knapp)
3. (9-10) The reign of Jehoiachin and his recall to Babylon.
Jehoiachin was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months and ten days. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD. At the turn of the year King Nebuchadnezzar summoned him and took him to Babylon, with the costly articles from the house of the LORD, and made Zedekiah, Jehoiakim’s brother, king over Judah and Jerusalem.
a. Jehoiachin was eight years old when he became king: 2 Kings 24:8 tells us that Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king. The difference between these two accounts is probably due to the error of a copyist in Chronicles.
i. “2 Chronicles 36:9 makes him eight years old at the beginning of his reign.… But some Hebrew MSS., Syriac, and Arabic, read ‘eighteen’ in Chronicles’ so ‘eight’ must be an error of transcription.” (Knapp)
ii. Jehoiachin “Was probably the throne-name of Jeconiah, abbreviated also to Coniah.” (Wiseman)
b. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD: He carried on in the tradition of the wicked kings of Judah.
i. “Jeremiah said of Jehoiakim, (Jehoiachin’s father) ‘He shall have none to sit upon the throne of David’ (Jeremiah 36:30). The word ‘sit’ here means to ‘firmly sit,’ or ‘dwell’; and Jehoiachin’s short three months’ reign was not that surely. And Zedekiah, Jehoiachin’s successor, was Jehoiakim’s brother, not his son.” (Knapp)
ii. “That he was a grievous offender against God, we learn from Jeremiah 22:24, which the reader may consult; and in the man’s punishment, see his crimes.” (Clarke)
c. King Nebuchadnezzar summoned him and took him to Babylon:The previous king of Judah (Jehoiakim) led a rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar. Now the king of Babylon came with his armies against Jerusalem, and Jehoiachin hoped to appease Nebuchadnezzar by submitting himself, his family, and his leaders to the Babylonian king.God allowed Jehoiachin to be taken as a bound captive back to Babylon.
i. “His presence in Babylon is attested by tablets listing oil and barley supplies to him, his family and five sons in 592-569 B.C. and naming him as ‘Yaukin king of the Judeans.’” (Wiseman)
d. With costly articles from the house of the LORD: On this second attack against Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar took whatever valuables remained in the temple or in the royal palaces of Jerusalem.
i. “The fall of Jerusalem didn’t come about in one cataclysmic battle; it occurred in stages.” (Dilday)
· Nebuchadnezzar’s initial subjugation of the city about 605 B.C.
· The destruction by Nebuchadnezzar’s marauding bands, 601 to 598 B.C.
· The siege and fall of Jerusalem under Nebuchadnezzar’s main army on 16 March, 597 B.C.
· Nebuchadnezzar’s return to completely destroy and depopulate Jerusalem in the summer of 586 B.C.
4. (11-14) The reign of Zedekiah and his rebellion against Babylon.
Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. He did evil in the sight of the LORD his God, and did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke from the mouth of the LORD. And he also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear an oath by God; but he stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the LORD God of Israel. Moreover all the leaders of the priests and the people transgressed more and more, according to all the abominations of the nations, and defiled the house of the LORD which He had consecrated in Jerusalem.
a. Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king: Since Nebuchadnezzar had completely humbled Judah, he put a king on the throne whom he thought would submit to Babylon. He chose this uncle of Jehoiachin, who was also a brother to Jehoiakim.
i. “This king (597-587 B.C.) inherited a much reduced Judah, for the Negeb was lost (Jeremiah 13:18-19) and the land weakened by the loss of its experienced personnel. There were both a pro-Egyptian element and false prophets among the survivors (Jeremiah 28-29; 38:5).” (Wiseman)
ii. 2 Kings 24:17 tells us that the name of Zedekiah was originally Mattaniah. The name Zedekiah means, The Lord is Righteous. The righteous judgment of God would soon be seen against Judah.
b. He did evil in the sight of the LORD: His evil was especially shown in that he did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet. Instead of listening to Jeremiah or other messengers of God he instead mocked and disregarded the message.
i. “Zedekiah first disregarded Jeremiah’s messages (Jeremiah 34:1-10); he came in time to direct his inquiries to this same prophet (Jeremiah 21); and he finally pled with him for help (Jeremiah 37). But at no point did he sincerely submit to the requirements of the Lord that Jeremiah transmitted to him.” (Payne)
c. He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar: Jeremiah tells us that there were many false prophets in those days who preached a message of victory and triumph to Zedekiah, and he believed them instead of Jeremiah and other godly prophets like him. Therefore, he rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar.
i. For example, Jeremiah 32:1-5 tells us that Jeremiah clearly told Zedekiah that he would not succeed in his rebellion against Babylon. Zedekiah arrested Jeremiah and imprisoned him for this, but the prophet steadfastly stayed faithful to the message God gave him.
ii. “Through acts of infidelity toward his imperial master, he unwisely touched off the final revolt that brought down the vengeance of the Babylonians on Judah and Jerusalem; and thus both the state and the city were destroyed.” (Payne)
d. Moreover all the leaders of the priests and the people transgressed more and more: These last kings of Judah were all wicked and deserving of judgment, but they were not alone in their sin and rejection of God. The leaders, the priests, and the people also transgressed more and more, pushing both God and Nebuchadnezzar to the limit.
B. The fall of Jerusalem and the Babylonian exile.
1. (15-16) The rejection of the message and the messengers.
And the LORD God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, till there was no remedy.
a. The LORD God of their fathers sent warnings to them: God, great in mercy to His people, sent many warnings but these warnings were rejected. The greatness of His compassion towards His people is shown by the expression rising up early and sending them.
i. “What a touching and graphic phrase! How did God yearn over that sinful and rebellious city! Like a man who has had a sleepless night of anxiety for his friend or child, and rises with the dawn to send a servant on a message of inquiry, or a message of love. How eager is God for men’s salvation.” (Meyer)
b. They mocked…despised…scoffed: This tragic triple rejection of God’s message and messengers sealed the doom of Judah. They rejected the message until there was no remedy and nothing could turn back the judgment of God.
i. “Three complaints are made in particular, that they were unfaithful, defiled the temple, and laughed at the prophets. All three are frequent themes throughout Chronicles, and it is as if the entire message of Chronicles were being summed up.” (Selman)
ii. “Till there was no remedy; because the people would not repent, and God would not pardon them.” (Poole)
iii. “Men’s sins put thunderbolts into God’s hands.” (Trapp)
iv. “The cataclysm which has been threatened since Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28:9, 13, 25; 29:8, 10; 30:8) has been held back only because of the faith and repentance of individual leaders (cf. 2 Chronicles 29:10; 30:8-9; 32:25-26; 33:6; 34:21, 25). Now there is no remedy, a chilling phrase meaning literally ‘no healing’. It implies the cancellation of God’s promise to heal his land and that therefore even prayer will be utterly useless.” (Selman)
2. (17-19) Jerusalem is despoiled and given over to destruction.
Therefore He brought against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, on the aged or the weak; He gave them all into his hand.And all the articles from the house of God, great and small, the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king and of his leaders, all these he took to Babylon. Then they burned the house of God, broke down the wall of Jerusalem, burned all its palaces with fire, and destroyed all its precious possessions.
a. He brought against them the king of the Chaldeans: Having rejected the message and the messengers of His compassion (2 Chronicles 36:15), God turned Judah over to a leader and a people who had no compassion upon their people.
i. “The end comes remarkably swiftly, like a bird of prey suddenly swooping down after circling repeatedly over its victim.… The final collapse under Zedekiah is therefore merely the final stage in a process that has long been inevitable.” (Selman)
b. He gave them all into his hand.… all the articles from the house of God.… all its palaces…all its precious possessions: The emphasis is on the complete nature of the destruction the Babylonians brought to Jerusalem and its people. Nothing was spared and all was destroyed.
i. “The over-all impression is of unrelieved destruction. ‘All, every’ is used fivefold in verses 17-19, which together with young and old, large and small, and finally (literally), ‘to destruction’ confirms that there was no respite, no escape.” (Selman)
c. Then they burned the house of God: This was the end of Solomon’s great temple. Solomon’s great temple was now a ruin. It would stay a ruin for many years until it was rebuilt in a humble form by the returning exiles in the days of Ezra.
i. “The Talmud declares that when the Babylonians entered the temple, they held a two-day feast there to desecrate it; then, on the third day, they set fire to the building. The Talmud adds that the fire burned throughout that day and the next.” (Dilday)
ii. “Thus the temple was destroyed in the eleventh year of Zedekiah, the nineteenth of Nebuchadnezzar, the first of the XLVIIIth Olympiad, in the one hundred and sixtieth current year of the era of Nabonassar, four hundred and twenty-four years three months and eight days from the time in which Solomon laid its foundation stone.” (Clarke)
d. Broke down the wall of Jerusalem: The walls of Jerusalem – the physical security of the city – were now destroyed. Jerusalem was no longer a place of safety and security. The walls would remain a ruin until they were rebuilt by the returning exiles in the days of Nehemiah.
i. “THUS, ends the history of a people the most fickle, the most ungrateful, and perhaps on the whole the most sinful, that ever existed on the face of the earth. But what a display does all this give of the power, justice, mercy, and long-suffering of the Lord! There was no people like this people, and no God like their God.” (Clarke)
ii. “In the end, the exile came not because Israel sinned, but because they spurned God’s offers of reconciliation.” (Selman)
3. (20-21) The seventy-year Babylonian captivity.
And those who escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon, where they became servants to him and his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths. As long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.
a. Those who escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon: This was the third major wave of captivity, taking the remaining people except for the poor of the land (2 Kings 25:12).
i. “Of the prominent men of Jerusalem, only Jeremiah and Gedaliah were left behind (2 Kings 25:22; cf. Jeremiah 39:11-14). Jeremiah’s stand on the Babylonian issue was doubtless well-known.” (Dilday)
b. Where they became servants to him and his sons: One fulfillment of this was the taking of Daniel and his companions into captivity. Daniel was one of the king’s descendants taken into the palace of the king of Babylon (Daniel 1:1-4).
i. “The exiles came ‘to Babylon’ where ‘they became servants’; and yet, after an initial period of discouragement (Psalm 137) and oppressive service (cf. Isaiah 14:2-3), at least some Jews gained favor and status (2 Kings 25:27-30; Daniel 1:19; 2:49; 6:3).” (Payne)
c. Until the rule of the kingdom of Persia: The Persians (together with the Medes) conquered the Babylonians in 539 B.C. and the Jewish people were only allowed to return to their native lands after the Persians came to power.
i. The ancient Greek historian Herodotus relates that the Persian King Cyrus conquered Babylon by diverting the flow of the Euphrates into a nearby swamp. This lowered the level of the river so his troops marched through the water and under the river-gates. They still would not have been able to enter had not the bronze gates of the inner walls been left inexplicably unlocked. This was exactly what God predicted in Isaiah 44:28-45:7 and Jeremiah 51:57-58. God opened the gates of the city of Babylon for Cyrus, and put it in writing 200 years before it happened.
d. To fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths: God had commanded Israel to observe a Sabbath for the land, allowing it to rest every seven years (Exodus 23:10-11). The people of Judah had denied the land its Sabbaths over a period of some 490 years, meaning that they “owed” the land 70 Sabbaths, and to fulfill seventy years God took the years back during the Babylonian exile.
i. This was promised to a disobedient Israel hundreds of years before: Then the land shall enjoy its sabbaths as long as it lies desolate and you are in your enemies’ land; then the land shall rest and enjoy its sabbaths. As long as it lies desolate it shall rest; for the time it did not rest on your sabbaths when you dwelt in it. (Leviticus 26:34-35)
ii. Jeremiah spoke of the 70 years of exile in two places: Jeremiah 25:11-13 and Jeremiah 29:10.
4. (22-23) Cyrus allows the Jewish people to return to Jerusalem.
Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying, Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the LORD God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. Who is among you of all His people? May the LORD his God be with him, and let him go up!
a. Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia: God gave the Persian king a sense of urgency about this, and the relief from exile was granted the very first year of his reign as the LORD stirred up his spirit.
i. Cyrus made a decree giving Ezra and the Babylonian captives the right to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple in 538 B.C. (Ezra 1:1-4 and Ezra 5:13-17).
ii. “Cyrus’s policy of cooperating with local religions and of encouraging the return of exiles has received explicit archaeological confirmation from the inscriptions of the king himself (cf. especially the famous ‘Cyrus Cylinder’).” (Payne)
b. All the kingdoms of the earth the LORD God of heaven has given me: This remarkable recognition of God’s hand upon his life may be connected with the remarkable prophecies regarding Cyrus in Isaiah 44:28-45:4.
c. He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem: The command of Cyrus not only allowed the return of the exiled people, but also a rebuilding of the destroyed temple.
i. “‘To build him a house’ is a deliberate echo of the central promise of the Davidic covenant (cf. 1 Chronicles 17:11-12; 22:10; 28:6; 2 Chronicles 6:9-10). Cyrus of course is thinking only of the house in Jerusalem, but in the Chronicler’s thought this phrase is inevitably connected with both houses of the Davidic covenant, the dynasty as well as the temple.” (Selman)
d. Who is among you of all His people? May the LORD his God be with him, and let him go up! The Books of 1 and 2 Chronicles end with this wonderful and remarkable encouragement to return and rebuild Jerusalem. This was the necessary and helpful encouragement to the first readers of Chronicles, letting them see their connection with God’s broader plan of the ages.
i. Sadly, only a small percentage decided to return from exile; but those who did needed the encouragement to know they were making a valuable contribution to God’s work.
ii. “Unlike the Book of Kings, with its central message of stern moral judgments, Chronicles exists essentially as a book of hope, grounded on the grace of our sovereign Lord.… [Chronicles shows that] History is a process, not of disintegration, but of sifting, of selection, and of development.” (Payne)
iii. “In the end, therefore, the end is also a fresh start. God’s promises continue through the exile, on through his own generation and into the future.” (Selman)
2 Chronicles 34 – Josiah and the Book of the Law
A. The beginnings of Josiah’s reforms.
1. (1-2) A summary of the reign of Josiah, the son of Amon.
Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the ways of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.
a. Josiah was eight years old when he became king: Unusually, this young boy came to the throne at eight years of age. This was because of the assassination of his father.
i. “At last, after more than three hundred years, the prophecy of ‘the man of God out of Judah’ is fulfilled (1 Kings 13:2).” (Knapp)
b. He did what was right in the sight of the LORD: This was true of Josiah at this young age, but it is really more intended as a general description of his reign rather than a description of him at eight years of age.
2. (3-7) Josiah against idolatry in Judah and the former kingdom of Israel.
For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David; and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images. They broke down the altars of the Baals in his presence, and the incense altars which were above them he cut down; and the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images he broke in pieces, and made dust of them and scattered it on the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. He also burned the bones of the priests on their altars, and cleansed Judah and Jerusalem. And so he did in the cities of Manasseh, Ephraim, and Simeon, as far as Naphtali and all around, with axes. When he had broken down the altars and the wooden images, had beaten the carved images into powder, and cut down all the incense altars throughout all the land of Israel, he returned to Jerusalem.
a. He began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images: The worship of this great variety of idols was entrenched after the reign of Amon. The late reforms of Manasseh helped against this trend, but since the short but wicked reign of Amon, there was much idolatry in the land.
i. The variety of idols described shows how deep idolatry was in Judah. There were idols dedicated to Baal and to Asherah (2 Kings 23:4) and to all the host of heaven (2 Kings 23:5) in the very temple itself (2 Kings 23:4). From the 2 Kings account, it seems that Josiah began the cleansing reforms at the center and worked outwards.
ii. “‘Seeking’ in Chronicles describes the habit of looking to God in every situation, and also the attitude which God looks for in those who pray (2 Chronicles 7:14; 30:19).” (Selman)
iii. In the twelfth year: Payne connects this with “a particular time of chaos that occurred throughout the ancient Near East and that was precipitated by an invasion from the north of barbaric, nomadic horsemen known as the Scythians (628-626 B.C.).… Their incursions wrought terror among complacent Jews (Jeremiah 6:22-24; Zephaniah 1:12).”
iv. “Five or six several words are here used, to show how he mawled them, and made mortar of them, as we say; such was his holy indignation, zeal, and revenge.” (Trapp)
b. He also burned the bones of the priests on their altars: Josiah did this both to carry out the prescribed punishment of idolatrous priests in Israel and to defile these pagan altars.
i. Josiah’s reforms did not only remove sinful things, but also the sinful people that promoted and permitted these sinful things. The idols that filled the temple did not get there or stay there on their own – there were priests who were responsible for these sinful practices.
ii. Any thorough reformation cannot only deal with sinful things; it must also deal with sinful people. If sinful people are not dealt with, they will quickly bring back the sinful things that were righteously removed.
c. And so he did in the cities of Manasseh, Ephraim, and Simeon.… throughout all the land of Israel: Since the kingdom of Israel had been conquered by the Assyrian Empire and was in the process of being depopulated as a result of exile, Josiah could extend his reforms there also.
i. “Even unto Naphtali; which was in the utmost and northern borders of the kingdom of Israel. For it must be remembered that the ten tribes were now gone into captivity; and those who were come in their stead were weak and few, and not able to withstand the power of Josiah.” (Poole)
3. (8-13) The restoration of the temple.
In the eighteenth year of his reign, when he had purged the land and the temple, he sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, Maaseiah the governor of the city, and Joah the son of Joahaz the recorder, to repair the house of the LORD his God. When they came to Hilkiah the high priest, they delivered the money that was brought into the house of God, which the Levites who kept the doors had gathered from the hand of Manasseh and Ephraim, from all the remnant of Israel, from all Judah and Benjamin, and which they had brought back to Jerusalem. Then they put it in the hand of the foremen who had the oversight of the house of the LORD; and they gave it to the workmen who worked in the house of the LORD, to repair and restore the house. They gave it to the craftsmen and builders to buy hewn stone and timber for beams, and to floor the houses which the kings of Judah had destroyed. And the men did the work faithfully. Their overseers were Jahath and Obadiah the Levites, of the sons of Merari, and Zechariah and Meshullam, of the sons of the Kohathites, to supervise. Others of the Levites, all of whom were skillful with instruments of music, were over the burden bearers and were overseers of all who did work in any kind of service. And some of the Levites were scribes, officers, and gatekeepers.
a. In the eighteenth year of his reign: After his energetic campaign to cleanse the land of Judah and Israel of idolatry, then Josiah put his efforts towards restoring the neglected temple, much as his predecessor Hezekiah had done (2 Chronicles 29).
i. “The Chronicler (2 Chronicles 34-35) appears to present a two-stage sequence of events: (i) the purification of religious practices in Judah, Jerusalem and Naphtali in Josiah’s twelfth year, and (ii) a continuing reformation stimulated by the discovery of the Book of the Law in the eighteenth year. But this may be a presentation to fit in with the Chronicler’s particular emphases.” (Wiseman)
ii. “If Josiah had not yet seen a copy of this book, (which is not impossible,) yet there was so much of the law left in the minds and memories of the people, as might easily persuade and direct him to all that he did till this time.” (Poole)
iii. It is possible that Josiah was motivated to rebuild the temple after hearing (or remembering) that this was what King Jehoash did many years before (2 Kings 12).
b. Then they put it in the hand of the foremen who had oversight of the house of the LORD: Josiah understood that the work of repair and rebuilding the temple needed organization and funding. He paid attention to both of these needs when he gave Hilkiah oversight over this restoration work of the temple. As a result, the men did the work faithfully.
i. According to Jeremiah 1:1-2, the prophet Jeremiah was the son of this particular priest Hilkiah. Jeremiah began his ministry during the reign of King Josiah.
4. (14-17) The discovery of the Book of the Law.
Now when they brought out the money that was brought into the house of the LORD, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the LORD given by Moses. Then Hilkiah answered and said to Shaphan the scribe, “I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan. So Shaphan carried the book to the king, bringing the king word, saying, “All that was committed to your servants they are doing. And they have gathered the money that was found in the house of the LORD, and have delivered it into the hand of the overseers and the workmen.”
a. Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the LORD: According to Deuteronomy 31:24-27, there was to be a copy of this Book of the Law beside the ark of the covenant, beginning in the days of Moses. The word of God was with Israel, but it was greatly neglected in those days.
i. “‘The Book,’ however, seems to have become misplaced during the apostate administrations of the previous kings, Manasseh and Amon, under whom the ark had been moved about (2 Chronicles 35:3).” (Payne)
ii. “Hilkiah’s personal announcement, ‘I have found the Book of the Law’, stands out sharply.… Secretary Shaphan confirms that the find took place in the context of the workers’ faithfulness.” (Selman)
iii. “Though a close connection between Josiah’s scroll and Deuteronomy had been accepted for a long time, the implications of this for the origins of Deuteronomy are much more uncertain, since neither Kings or Chronicles provides direct evidence for the thesis, advocated repeatedly since 1805, that the scroll was composed as part of a Deuteronomic reform movement.” (Selman)
iv. “Was this the autograph of Moses? It is very probable that it was; for in the parallel place, 2 Chronicles 34:14, it is said to be the book of the law of the Lord by Moses. It is supposed to be that part of Deuteronomy, (Deuteronomy 28-30, and 31,) which contains the renewing of the covenant in the plains of Moab, and which contains the most terrible invectives against the corrupters of God’s word and worship.” (Clarke)
b. Shaphan carried the book to the king: Here the word of God spreads. It had been forgotten and regarded as nothing more than an old, dusty book. Now it was found, read, and spread. We should expect some measure of spiritual revival and renewal to follow.
i. Throughout the history of God’s people, when the word of God is recovered and spread, then spiritual revival follows. It can begin as simply as it did in the days of Josiah, with one man finding and reading and believing and spreading the Book.
ii. Another example of this in history is the story of Peter Waldo and his followers, sometimes known as Waldenses. Waldo was a rich merchant who gave up his business to radically follow Jesus. He hired two priests to translate the New Testament into the common language and using this, he began to teach others. He taught in the streets or wherever he could find someone to listen. Many common people came to hear him and started to radically follow Jesus Christ. He taught them the text of the New Testament in the common language and was rebuked by church officials for doing so. He ignored the rebuke and continued to teach, eventually sending his followers out two by two into villages and market places, to teach and explain the scriptures. The scriptures were memorized by the Waldenses, and it was not unusual for their ministers to memorize the entire New Testament and large sections of the Old Testament. The word of God – when found, read, believed, and spread – has this kind of transforming power.
5. (18-21) King Josiah hears the word of God.
Then Shaphan the scribe told the king, saying, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read it before the king. Thus it happened, when the king heard the words of the Law, that he tore his clothes. Then the king commanded Hilkiah, Ahikam the son of Shaphan, Abdon the son of Micah, Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah a servant of the king, saying, “Go, inquire of the LORD for me, and for those who are left in Israel and Judah, concerning the words of the book that is found; for great is the wrath of the LORD that is poured out on us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD, to do according to all that is written in this book.”
a. When the king heard the words of the Law: The hearing of God’s word did a spiritual work in King Josiah. It was not merely the transmission of information; the hearing of God’s word had an impact of spiritual power on Josiah.
i. “A medieval Archbishop of Canterbury…assumed that Josiah listened to the whole book at one sitting: ‘What a contrast to our present-day kings and magnates! If once a year they hear the word of God preached, they find it nauseating and leave the church before the end of the sermon’.” (Selman)
b. He tore his clothes: The tearing of clothing was a traditional expression of horror and astonishment. In the strongest way possible, Josiah showed his grief on his own account and on account of the nation. This was an expression of deep conviction of sin, and a good thing.
i. Revival and spiritual awakening are marked by such expressions of the conviction of sin. Dr. J. Edwin Orr, in The Second Evangelical Awakening in Britain, recounted some examples from the great movement that impacted Britain and the world in 1859-1861.
ii. This conviction of sin is the special work of the Holy Spirit, even as Jesus said in John 16:8: “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin.”
c. Go, inquire of the LORD for me: It wasn’t that King Josiah knew nothing of God or how to seek Him. It was that he was so under the conviction of sin that he did not know what to do next.
d. For great is the wrath of the LORD that is poured out on us: Josiah knew that the kingdom of Judah deserved judgment from God. He could not hear the word of God and respond to the Spirit of God without seriously confronting the sin of his kingdom.
6. (22-28) God speaks to King Josiah.
So Hilkiah and those the king had appointed went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tokhath, the son of Hasrah, keeper of the wardrobe. (She dwelt in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter.) And they spoke to her to that effect. Then she answered them, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel, ‘Tell the man who sent you to Me, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, I will bring calamity on this place and on its inhabitants, all the curses that are written in the book which they have read before the king of Judah, because they have forsaken Me and burned incense to other gods, that they might provoke Me to anger with all the works of their hands. Therefore My wrath will be poured out on this place, and not be quenched.’”’ But as for the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD, in this manner you shall speak to him, ‘Thus says the LORD God of Israel: “Concerning the words which you have heard; because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before God when you heard His words against this place and against its inhabitants, and you humbled yourself before Me, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you,” says the LORD. Surely I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace; and your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place and its inhabitants.”’” So they brought back word to the king.
a. Huldah the prophetess: We know little of this woman other than this mention here (and the similar account recorded in 2 Kings 22:14). With the apparent approval of King Josiah, Hilkiah the priest consulted this woman for spiritual guidance. It wasn’t because of her own wisdom and spirituality, but that she was recognized as a prophetess and could reveal the heart and mind of God.
i. There were certainly other prophets in Judah. “Though the contemporary prophet Jeremiah is not mentioned, he commended Josiah (Jeremiah 22:15-16) and the prophet Zephaniah (Zephaniah 1:1) was at work in this reign.” (Wiseman) Yet for some reason – perhaps spiritual, perhaps practical – they chose to consult Huldah the prophetess.
ii. “We find from this, and we have many facts in all ages to corroborate it, that a pontiff, a pope, a bishop, or a priest, may, in some cases, not possess the true knowledge of God; and that a simple woman, possessing the life of God in her soul, may have more knowledge of the divine testimonies than many of those whose office it is to explain and enforce them.” (Clarke)
b. I will bring calamity on this place and on its inhabitants: Josiah knew that Judah deserved judgment, and that judgment would indeed come. Judah and its leaders had acted against the LORD for too long, and would not genuinely repent so as to avoid eventual judgment.
c. All the curses that are written in the book: God’s word was true, even in its promises of judgment. God’s faithfulness is demonstrated as much by His judgment upon the wicked as it is by His mercy upon the repentant.
i. “Josiah went on with the work of reformation, even when he knew that nationally it was foredoomed to failure.… She distinctly told him that there would be no true repentance on the part of the people, and therefore that judgment was inevitable. It was then that the heroic strength of Josiah manifested itself, in that he went on with his work.… No pathway of service is more difficult than that of bearing witness to God, in word and in work, in the midst of conditions which are unresponsive.” (Morgan)
d. Because your heart was tender: Josiah’s heart was tender in two ways. First, it was tender to the word of God and was able to receive the convicting voice of the Holy Spirit. Second, it was tender to the message of judgment from Huldah in the previous verses.
i. You humbled yourself before God when you heard His words: “Have you ever noticed the difference between being humble and being humbled? Many persons are humbled who are not humble at all.… It is a voluntary humiliation of soul which is inculcated by the example of Josiah, and may the Spirit of God make us willing in the day of his power, that we may willingly humble ourselves before God.” (Spurgeon)
e. You shall be gathered to your grave in peace: Though Josiah died in battle, there are at least three ways that this was true.
· He died before the great spiritual disaster and exile came to Judah.
· He was gathered to the spirits of his fathers, who were in peace.
· He died in God’s favor, though by the hand of an enemy.
i. “Though Josiah died in violent circumstances (2 Chronicles 35:20-24), this does not invalidate God’s promise which really means that the exile would not take place during Josiah’s lifetime.” (Selman)
f. Your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place: This was God’s mercy to Josiah. His own godliness and tender heart could not stop the eventual judgment of God, but it could delay it. Inevitable judgment is sometimes delayed because of the tender hearts of the people of God.
i. God delayed judgment even in the case of Ahab, who responded to a word of warning with a kind of repentance (1 Kings 21:25-29).
B. The honest repentance of King Josiah and the people of Judah.
1. (29-30) Josiah reads the word of God to the leaders of Judah.
Then the king sent and gathered all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. The king went up to the house of the LORD, with all the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem; the priests and the Levites, and all the people, great and small. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant which had been found in the house of the LORD.
a. The king sent and gathered all the elders of Judah: Josiah heard the promise of both eventual judgment and the immediate delay of judgment. He did not respond with indifference or simple contentment that he would not see the judgment in his day. He wanted to get the kingdom right with God, and he knew that he could not do it all by himself – he needed all the elders of Judah to join in broken repentance with him.
b. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book: The king did this himself. He was so concerned that the nation would hear the word of God that he read it to them himself.
i. “It is especially interesting that he regards the written form of God’s word as superior to inherited tradition and is willing to pay the cost of correcting his priorities.” (Selman)
2. (31-33) The covenant is renewed.
Then the king stood in his place and made a covenant before the LORD, to follow the LORD, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant that were written in this book. And he made all who were present in Jerusalem and Benjamin take a stand. So the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers. Thus Josiah removed all the abominations from all the country that belonged to the children of Israel, and made all who were present in Israel diligently serve the LORD their God. All his days they did not depart from following the LORD God of their fathers.
a. The king stood in his place and made a covenant before the LORD, to follow the LORD: King Josiah stood before the people and publicly declared his commitment to obey the word of God to the very best of his ability (with all his heart and all his soul).
i. “[He] made a covenant is literally ‘[he] cut a covenant,’ which goes back to the practice of cutting the carcass of an animal and separating the parts so the contracting parties could seal their agreement by walking between them (cf. Genesis 15:17; Jeremiah 34:18).” (Dilday)
b. And he made all who were present…take a stand: It wasn’t enough for the king himself to do it and to offer his example to the people. They had to follow by taking a stand for the covenant themselves. This showed that the work of God’s Spirit went beyond the king and the leaders and extended to the people also.
i. “It is likely that he caused them all to arise when he read the terms of the covenant, and thus testify their approbation of the covenant itself, and their resolution to observe it faithfully and perseveringly.” (Clarke)
ii. “The ceremony compares with the basic Mizpah covenant (Genesis 31:43-55; 1 Samuel 7:5-12) and the renewal of the covenant at Shechem (Joshua 24), both of which marked turning points in Jewish history.” (Wiseman)
c. All his days they did not depart from following the LORD God of their fathers: The work of King Josiah had a lasting effect among the people of Judah. They stayed faithful to God during his reign.
2 Chronicles 33 – The Reigns of Manasseh and Amon
A. The reign of Manasseh, son of Hezekiah.
1. (1-2) A summary of the reign of Manasseh, a 55-year rule of evil.
Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. But he did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel.
a. Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king: This means that he was born in the last fifteen years of Hezekiah’s life, the additional fifteen years that Hezekiah prayed for (2 Kings 20:6). Those additional fifteen years brought Judah one of its worst kings.
i. “Had this good king been able to foresee the wickedness of his unworthy son, he would doubtless have no desire to recover from his sickness. Better by far die childless than beget a son such as Manasseh proved to be.” (Knapp)
b. And he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem: This was both a remarkably long and a remarkably evil reign. A long career or longevity is not necessarily evidence of the blessing and approval of God.
i. “He was a son of David, but he was the very reverse of that king, who was always faithful in his loyalty to the one and only God of Israel. David’s blood was in his veins, but David’s ways were not in his heart. He was a wild, degenerate shoot of a noble vine.” (Spurgeon)
c. According to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had cast out before: Manasseh imitated the sins of both the Canaanites and the Israelites of the northern kingdom (2 Kings 16:3). Since God brought judgment on these groups for their sin, casting them out of their land, then similar judgment against an unrepentant Judah should be expected.
2. (3-9) The specific sins of Manasseh.
For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down; he raised up altars for the Baals, and made wooden images; and he worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. He also built altars in the house of the LORD, of which the LORD had said, “In Jerusalem shall My name be forever.” And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. Also he caused his sons to pass through the fire in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom; he practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft and sorcery, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger. He even set a carved image, the idol which he had made, in the house of God, of which God had said to David and to Solomon his son, “In this house and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put My name forever; and I will not again remove the foot of Israel from the land which I have appointed for your fathers; only if they are careful to do all that I have commanded them, according to the whole law and the statutes and the ordinances by the hand of Moses.” So Manasseh seduced Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel.
a. He rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down: Manasseh opposed the reforms of his father Hezekiah and he brought Judah back into terrible idolatry.
i. This shows us that repentance and reform and revival are not permanent standing conditions. What is accomplished at one time can be opposed and turned back at another time.
b. He raised up altars for the Baals, and made wooden images: Manasseh did not want to imitate his godly father. Instead, he imitated one of the very worst kings of Israel: Ahab. He embraced the same state-sponsored worship of Baal and Asherah (honored with a carved image) that marked the reign of Ahab.
c. He also built altars in the house of the LORD: It was bad enough for Manasseh to allow this idol worship into Judah. Worse, he corrupted the worship of the true God at the temple, and made the temple a place of idol altars, including those dedicated to his cult of astrological worship (he built altars for all the host of heaven).
d. He built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD: Manasseh did not only bring back old forms of idolatry; he also brought new forms of idolatry to Judah. At this time the Babylonian Empire was rising in influence, and they had a special attraction to astrological worship. Manasseh probably imitated this.
i. “The king’s apostate worship of ‘the starry host’ had evil precedents going as far back as the time of Moses (Deuteronomy 4:19; Acts 7:42), but such practices were a particular sin of Assyro-Babylonians, with their addiction to astrology.” (Payne)
ii. “But this Manasseh sought out for himself unusual and outlandish sins. Bad as Ahab was, he had not worshipped the host of heaven. That was an Assyrian worship, and this man must need import from Assyria and Babylonia worship that was quite new.” (Spurgeon)
e. He caused his sons to pass through the fire: Manasseh sacrificed his own sons to the Canaanite god Molech, who was worshipped with the burning of children.
f. Practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft and sorcery, and consulted mediums and spiritists: Manasseh invited direct Satanic influence by his approval and introduction of these occult arts.
i. “The Hebrew word for ‘spiritists’ is yiddeoni, by etymology, ‘a knowing one.’ It referred originally to ghosts, who were supposed to possess superhuman knowledge; but it came to be applied to those who claimed power to summon them forth, i.e., to witches.” (Payne)
g. He even set a carved image, the idol which he had made, in the house of God: The Chronicler seems too polite to say it, but 2 Kings 21:7 tells us that this idol was Asherah, the Canaanite goddess of fertility. This god was worshipped through ritual prostitution. This means that Manasseh made the temple into an idolatrous brothel, dedicated to Asherah.
i. “From the whole it is evident that Asherah was no other than Venus; the nature of whose worship is plain enough from the mention of whoremongers and prostitutes.” (Clarke)
ii. “Manasseh repeated these sins and exaggerated them each time. After one forbidden idol had been enshrined, he set up another yet more foul, and after building altars in the courts of the temple, he ventured further…. Thus he piled up his transgressions and multiplied his provocations.” (Spurgeon)
h. Manasseh seduced Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD had destroyed: 2 Kings 21:9 tells us what the attitude of the people was: they paid no attention. This described the basic attitude of the people of Judah during the 55-year reign of Manasseh. They paid no attention to the generous promises of God, promising protection to His obedient people. In addition, they were willingly seduced by Manasseh’s wickedness and were attracted to do more evil.
i. “He did all he could to pervert the national character, and totally destroy the worship of the true God; and he succeeded.” (Clarke)
ii. “How superficial had been the nation’s compliance with Hezekiah’s reforms! Without a strong spiritual leader, the sinful people quickly turned to their own evil machinations. The judgment of God could not be far away.” (Patterson and Austel)
iii. This was a transformation of the culture from something generally honoring God to a culture that glorified idolatry and immorality. In general we can say this happened because the people wanted it to happen. They didn’t care about the direction of their culture.
B. Manasseh’s repentance.
1. (10-11) God chastises Manasseh.
And the LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they would not listen. Therefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the army of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze fetters, and carried him off to Babylon.
a. And the LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people: This was the great mercy of God. He was under no obligation to warn or correct them; God would have been completely justified in exercising judgment immediately. Instead, the LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people.
i. 2 Kings 21:10-15 tells more about these specific warnings of the prophets.
b. But they would not listen: Despite God’s gracious warnings, neither the king nor the people would listen. God found more compelling ways to speak to the rulers and people of Judah.
i. 2 Kings 21:16 tells us of the terrible extent of Manasseh’s sin: Moreover Manasseh shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another, besides his sin by which he made Judah sin, in doing evil in the sight of the LORD.
ii. “We cannot vouch for the tradition that the prophet Isaiah was put to death by him by being sawn in sunder, but terrible as is the legend, it is not at all improbable.” (Spurgeon)
c. Therefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the army of the king of Assyria: God allowed Manasseh to be taken and carried away as a captive, after the pattern of his own sinful bondage.
i. “God sent him into the dungeon to repent; as he did David into the depths, and Jonah into the whale’s belly to pray. Adversity hath whipt many a soul to heaven, which otherwise prosperity had coached to hell.” (Trapp)
ii. “No mention is made of Manasseh’s exile in Assyrian sources, even though Manasseh appears in the annals of Esarhaddon (680-669 B.C.) and Ahsurbanipal (668-626 B.C.) as a rather unwilling vassal forced to provide supplies for Assyria’s building and military enterprises. It is quite possible that he rebelled against these impositions at some point.” (Selman)
iii. “Manasseh’s presence in Babylon is not surprising, since Assyria had had a long interest in Babylon, which was under the direct control for the whole of Esarhaddon’s reign and after Shamash-shum-unkin’s demise.” (Selman)
2. (12-13) The remarkable repentance of Manasseh.
Now when he was in affliction, he implored the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed to Him; and He received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God.
a. When he was in affliction, he implored the LORD his God: Manasseh was not the first one (and not the last) to turn back to God after a severe season of affliction. It has been said that God speaks to us in our pleasures and he shouts to us in our pains. Manasseh finally listened to God’s shouting through affliction.
i. “The Assyrians were notoriously a fierce people, and Manasseh, having provoked them, felt all the degradation, scorn, and cruelty which anger could invent. He who had trusted idols was made a slave to an idolatrous people; he who had shed blood very much was now in daily jeopardy of the shedding of his own; he who had insulted the Lord must now be continually insulted himself.” (Spurgeon)
b. And humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers: The word humbled reminds us that the essence of Manasseh’s sin was pride. The phrase God of his fathers reminds us that Manasseh returned to the godly heritage he received from his father Hezekiah.
i. This is a wonderful example of the principle, Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6). Manasseh was raised by a godly father, yet he lived in defiance of his father’s faith for most of his life. Nevertheless, at the end of his days he truly repented and served God.
c. He received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom: God graciously restored the late-repenting Manasseh. This gracious response to Manasseh was the final step in his return to the LORD (Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God).
i. “He was convinced by his own experience of God’s power, justice, and goodness, that Jehovah alone was the true God, and not those idols which he had worshipped, by which he had received great hurt, and no good.” (Poole)
ii. “Manasseh’s repentance was evidently the chief subject in the mind of the chronicler, and while his sins are painted faithfully and revealed in all their hideousness, all becomes but background which flings into relief Manasseh’s genuine penitence and the ready and gracious response to God.” (Morgan)
iii. In his sermon, The Old Testament “Prodigal,” Spurgeon imagined what it would be like for the remnant of believers in Jerusalem to hear that Manasseh was returning from Babylon. They had a brief pause in the persecution they had suffered from the evil king, and at least a slow-down in the official promotion of idolatry. Now to hear he was coming back must have driven them to their knees, asking God to have mercy on them once again. Imagine their surprise when they found that King Manasseh returned a repentant, converted man!
iv. “Oh! I do not wonder at Manasseh’s sin one half so much as I wonder at God’s mercy.” (Spurgeon)
3. (14-17) The late deeds of Manasseh.
After this he built a wall outside the City of David on the west side of Gihon, in the valley, as far as the entrance of the Fish Gate; and it enclosed Ophel, and he raised it to a very great height. Then he put military captains in all the fortified cities of Judah. He took away the foreign gods and the idol from the house of the LORD, and all the altars that he had built in the mount of the house of the LORD and in Jerusalem; and he cast them out of the city. He also repaired the altar of the LORD, sacrificed peace offerings and thank offerings on it, and commanded Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel. Nevertheless the people still sacrificed on the high places, but only to the LORD their God.
a. After this he built a wall: Before he was humbled and repentant, Manasseh didn’t care very much for the defense of Judah and Jerusalem. Now, with a more godly perspective, he cared deeply about the security of God’s people and the kingdom of Judah.
i. “This was probably a weak place that he fortified; or a part of the wall which the Assyrians had broken down, which he now rebuilt.” (Clarke)
b. He took away the foreign gods and the idol from the house of the LORD: Before he was humbled and repentant, Manasseh promoted the worship of idols. Now, he destroyed idols and promoted the worship of the true God of Israel alone; he even commanded Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel.
i. “Manasseh’s religious reforms represented a direct reversal of earlier policies (vv. 2-9), since each of the items removed in verse 15 is mentioned in verses 3, 7.” (Selman)
ii. “Turn to Him with brokenness of soul, and He will not only forgive, but bring you out again; and give you, as He did Manasseh, an opportunity of undoing some of those evil things which have marred your past.” (Meyer)
c. Nevertheless the people still sacrificed on the high places, but only to the LORD their God: This reminds us of the distinction between two different kinds of high places. Some were altars to pagan idols; others were unauthorized altars to the true God. Manasseh stopped all the pagan worship in Judah, but unauthorized (that is, outside the temple) worship of the God of Israel continued.
i. “Half a century of paganism could not be counteracted by half-a-dozen years of reform.” (Payne)
ii. “While repentance of personal sin brings ready forgiveness, the influence of the sin is terribly likely to abide.” (Morgan)
4. (18-20) Manasseh’s death and burial.
Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh, his prayer to his God, and the words of the seers who spoke to him in the name of the LORD God of Israel, indeed they are written in the book of the kings of Israel. Also his prayer and how God received his entreaty, and all his sin and trespass, and the sites where he built high places and set up wooden images and carved images, before he was humbled, indeed they are written among the sayings of Hozai. So Manasseh rested with his fathers, and they buried him in his own house. Then his son Amon reigned in his place.
a. The rest of the acts of Manasseh: The Chronicler must refer to documents that have more information than the 2 Kings text. 2 Kings does not mention the repentance of Manasseh, and does not tell us anything about his reign substantially different than what we read in 2 Chronicles.
i. “Manasseh illustrates one of the central themes of Chronicles, that God can fulfill his promise of restoration in 2 Chronicles 7:12-16 to the repentant even in the most extreme circumstances.” (Selman)
ii. “As for despair, it is damnable. While the story of Manasseh stands on record, no mortal hath a just excuse to perish in despair; no one is justified in saying, ‘God will never forgive me.’ Read over again the history of Manasseh; see to what lengths of sin he went, to what extravagant heights of evil he climbed; and then say to yourself, ‘Did sovereign mercy reach him? Then it can also reach me.’” (Spurgeon)
b. So Manasseh rested with his fathers: Manasseh was a remarkably bad and evil king, yet at the end of his days he truly repented and served God. In this way, we can say that it was very true that Manasseh rested with his fathers.
i. “Manasseh’s conversion helps to explain a longstanding problem in Kings, namely, why the exile did not fall in Manasseh’s reign if his sins were really so serious.” (Selman)
ii. Yet, his repentance was too late to change the nation. “The widespread revolts during the reign of Ashurbanipal, which occurred from 652-648 B.C., may provide the occasion for Manasseh’s summons to Babylon and imprisonment. If so, his subsequent release and reform were apparently far too late to have much of an effect on the obdurately backslidden people.” (Patterson and Austel)
iii. It was also not soon enough to change the destiny of the kingdom. “Years later, when Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians, the writer would blame Judah’s punishment on the sins of Manasseh (2 Kings 24:3-4).” (Dilday)
iv. Manasseh “more than any other single person was responsible for the final destruction of the kingdom of Judah (2 Kings 23:26; 24:3; Jeremiah 15:4).” (Payne)
C. The reign of Amon, son of Manasseh.
1. (21-23) A two-year, evil reign
Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned two years in Jerusalem. But he did evil in the sight of the LORD, as his father Manasseh had done; for Amon sacrificed to all the carved images which his father Manasseh had made, and served them. And he did not humble himself before the LORD, as his father Manasseh had humbled himself; but Amon trespassed more and more.
a. He reigned two years in Jerusalem: This unusually short reign is an indication that the blessing of God was not upon the reign of Amon.
b. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, as his father Manasseh had done.… he did not humble himself before the LORD, as his father Manasseh had: Amon sinned as Manasseh had sinned, without having the repentance that Manasseh had. It is likely that one of the greatest sorrows to the repentant Manasseh was that his sons, and others who were influenced by his sin, did not also repent.
i. “There is not one bright spot in this king’s character to relieve the darkness of his life’s brief record.” (Knapp)
ii. “Glycas saith that Amon hardened himself in sin by his father’s example, who took his swing in sin, and yet at length repented. So, thought he, will I do; wherefore he was soon sent out of the world for his presumption, dying in his sins, as 2 Chronicles 33:23.” (Trapp)
iii. “Manasseh and Amon in their contrasting ways show that a fatalistic attitude in the face of God’s judgment is quite unjustified.” (Selman)
2. (24-25) The assassination of Amon.
Then his servants conspired against him, and killed him in his own house. But the people of the land executed all those who had conspired against King Amon. Then the people of the land made his son Josiah king in his place.
a. His servants conspired against him, and killed him in his own house: This story of conspiracy and assassination seems to belong among the kings of Israel, not Judah. Yet when the kings and people of Judah began to imitate the sins of their conquered northern neighbors, they slipped into the same chaos and anarchy that marked the last period of Israel’s history.
i. “Although the Scriptures give no reason for the conspiracy, its cause may lie within the tangled web of revolts that Asurbanipal suppressed from 642-639 and that caused him to turn his attention to the west.… Amon’s death may thus reflect a power struggle between those who wished to remain loyal to the Assyrian crown and those who aspired to link Judah’s fortunes to the rising star of Psammetik I (664-609) of Egypt’s Twenty-Sixth Dynasty.” (Patterson and Austel)
b. But the people of the land executed all those who had conspired against King Amon: This was a hopeful sign. Up to this point, the people of Judah had largely tolerated some 57 years of utterly wicked kings who led the nation in evil. Now it seems that they wanted righteousness and justice instead of the evil they had lived with for so long.
i. In some way, it could be said that the people of Judah had these wicked kings for more than 50 years because that is what they wanted. God gave them the leaders they wanted and deserved. Now, as the people of the kingdom turned towards godliness, God gave them a better king.
c. Then the people of the land made his son Josiah king in his place: Though king Amon was assassinated, God did not yet allow Judah to slip into the same pit of anarchy that Israel had sunk into. Because of the righteous action of the people of the land, there was no change of dynasty, and the rightful heir to the throne of David became king.
i. “The only positive contribution Amon made to the history of Judah was to produce one of the best kings to reign on the throne of Jerusalem.” (Dilday)
2 Chronicles 32 – God Protects Jerusalem
A. God protects Jerusalem from the Assyrians.
1. (1) Sennacherib’s attack.
After these deeds of faithfulness, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and entered Judah; he encamped against the fortified cities, thinking to win them over to himself.
a. After these deeds of faithfulness: Our tendency is to think that when we are genuinely faithful to God we will be immune from attack. The experience of Hezekiah and countless other men and women of God tell us otherwise.
i. “It would seem to be a strange answer of God to the faithfulness of His child, that a strong foe should at the moment invade the kingdom; and yet how often the experience of the people of God is of this nature.” (Morgan)
ii. Adam Clarke had another perspective: “God did not permit the pious prince to be disturbed till he had completed the reformation which he had begun.”
b. Sennacherib king of Assyria came and entered Judah: This was part of his larger campaign in the region, including the conquest of the northern tribes organized as the kingdom of Israel.
i. We might say that the Chronicler is not telling us the complete story here. He does not include what we learn from 2 Kings 18:13-16, that Hezekiah unwisely and unsuccessfully tried to satisfy Sennacherib with gold and treasures from the temple. It didn’t work, and after conquering nearly all the fortified cities of Judah, the king of Assyria prepared to set a siege against Jerusalem.
ii. “He clearly expects the reader to be familiar with 2 Kings 18-20, but, whereas the Chronicler normally adapts sections of earlier Scripture, here everything has been amplified and summarized in order to concentrate on the theme of Yahweh’s supremacy.” (Selman)
2. (2-8) Hezekiah prepares against the coming attack and siege of the Assyrians.
And when Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib had come, and that his purpose was to make war against Jerusalem, he consulted with his leaders and commanders to stop the water from the springs which were outside the city; and they helped him. Thus many people gathered together who stopped all the springs and the brook that ran through the land, saying, “Why should the kings of Assyria come and find much water?” And he strengthened himself, built up all the wall that was broken, raised it up to the towers, and built another wall outside; also he repaired the Millo in the City of David, and made weapons and shields in abundance. Then he set military captains over the people, gathered them together to him in the open square of the city gate, and gave them encouragement, saying, “Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed before the king of Assyria, nor before all the multitude that is with him; for there are more with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people were strengthened by the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.
a. To stop the water from the springs outside the city: This was done in preparation for the coming siege, and possibly in connection with the tunnel that Hezekiah directed to be cut to keep the water supply secure within the city (2 Chronicles 32:30).
i. “Jerusalem’s water supply was vulnerable to any attack, since it was totally dependent on two springs, Gihon in the Kidron valley and En-Rogel two miles to the south.” (Selman)
ii. “No doubt the Assyrian army suffered much through this, as a Christian army did eighteen hundred years after this. When the crusaders came, in a. D. 1099, to besiege Jerusalem, the people of the city stopped up the wells, so that the Christian army was reduced to the greatest necessities and distress.” (Clarke)
b. He strengthened himself, built up all the wall that was broken, raised it up to the towers: This and the other preparations reflect how serious the threat was and how diligent Hezekiah was to defend Jerusalem and Judah.
i. “Part of a wall which could well be Hezekiah’s has been uncovered on the western hill. At seven metres thick, it is the thickest Iron Age wall known in Palestine, and was presumably designed to withstand powerful Assyrian battering rams.” (Selman)
c. Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed: Hezekiah understood that the defense of Israel did not depend only on walls and towers and shields and water supplies; it also depended on the strength, courage, and determination of their soldiers.
i. For there are more with us than with him: “We have more power than they have. (These words he quotes from the prophet Elisha, 2 Kings 6:16.) This was soon proved to be true by the slaughter made by the angel of the Lord in the Assyrian camp.” (Clarke)
ii. But with us is the LORD our God: “The import of ‘Immanuel,’ by which name Christ now began to be known amongst them.” (Trapp)
3. (9-19) Sennacherib’s propaganda campaign.
After this Sennacherib king of Assyria sent his servants to Jerusalem (but he and all the forces with him laid siege against Lachish), to Hezekiah king of Judah, and to all Judah who were in Jerusalem, saying, “Thus says Sennacherib king of Assyria: ‘In what do you trust, that you remain under siege in Jerusalem? Does not Hezekiah persuade you to give yourselves over to die by famine and by thirst, saying, “The LORD our God will deliver us from the hand of the king of Assyria”? Has not the same Hezekiah taken away His high places and His altars, and commanded Judah and Jerusalem, saying, “You shall worship before one altar and burn incense on it”? Do you not know what I and my fathers have done to all the peoples of other lands? Were the gods of the nations of those lands in any way able to deliver their lands out of my hand? Who was there among all the gods of those nations that my fathers utterly destroyed that could deliver his people from my hand, that your God should be able to deliver you from my hand? Now therefore, do not let Hezekiah deceive you or persuade you like this, and do not believe him; for no god of any nation or kingdom was able to deliver his people from my hand or the hand of my fathers. How much less will your God deliver you from my hand?’” Furthermore, his servants spoke against the LORD God and against His servant Hezekiah. He also wrote letters to revile the LORD God of Israel, and to speak against Him, saying, “As the gods of the nations of other lands have not delivered their people from my hand, so the God of Hezekiah will not deliver His people from my hand.” Then they called out with a loud voice in Hebrew to the people of Jerusalem who were on the wall, to frighten them and trouble them, that they might take the city. And they spoke against the God of Jerusalem, as against the gods of the people of the earth; the work of men’s hands.
a. Sennacherib king of Assyria sent his servants to Jerusalem: While the bulk of his army was busy at Lachish, Sennacherib sent some men to Jerusalem to prepare for the siege, especially with psychological combat.
i. The mention of Lachish is important historically. Lachish was thirty miles south-west of Jerusalem. Archaeologists have discovered a pit there with the remains of about 1,500 casualties of Sennacherib’s attack. In the British Museum, you can see the Assyrian carving depicting their siege of the city of Lachish, which was an important fortress city of Judah.
ii. “An interesting wall relief taken from the excavation of Sennacherib’s royal palace in Nineveh is preserved in the British Museum. It portrays the Assyrian king on a portable throne in his military camp outside Lachish. Prisoners of war are marching by on foot, and all the booty from the city is being displayed on ox-wagons.” (Dilday)
b. In what do you trust, that you remain under siege in Jerusalem? These servants of Sennacherib (known as the Tartan, the Rabsaris, and the Rabshakeh in 2 Kings 18:17) tried to shake the trust Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem had in the LORD.
i. We might wish that Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, and that this is what the Assyrians mocked. Instead, Hezekiah put his hope in an alliance with Egypt, and the Assyrians wanted him to lose confidence in that alliance.
ii. It was a great temptation for Hezekiah during this time to make a defensive alliance with Egypt, which seemed to be the only nation strong enough to protect Judah against the mighty Assyrians. As a prophet, Isaiah did everything he could to discourage Hezekiah and the leaders of Judah from putting their trust in Egypt (Isaiah 19:11-17, 20:1-6, 30:1-7). The LORD wanted Judah to trust Him instead of Egypt.
c. Has not the same Hezekiah taken away His high places and His altars: The Assyrian accuser knew that King Hezekiah had implemented broad reforms in Judah, including the removal of the high places (2 Kings 18:3-4). Yet in the Assyrian’s thinking, Hezekiah’s reforms had really displeased God, so he should not expect help from the LORD God of Israel. The Assyrian would say, “Look at all the places there used to be where people would worship the LORD God of Israel. Now, since Hezekiah came in, there is only one place. More is always better, so the LORD God of Israel must be pretty sore at Hezekiah!”
i. The enemy of our souls has an amazing way of discouraging our obedience. If Hezekiah was not careful, this argument of the Assyrian would start to make sense, when really it was demonic logic through and through.
ii. “The theological misunderstanding shown by the field commander at this point argues for the authenticity of the speech, which many critics have dubbed a free creation by the author of the narrative.” (Grogan, Isaiah Commentary)
d. Do you not know what I and my fathers have done to all the peoples of other lands? The Assyrian’s speech was intended to destroy their trust in God. His message was simple and brilliant in its Satanic logic: “The gods of other nations have not been able to protect them against us. Your God is just like one of them, and can’t protect you either.”
i. For anyone who had the spiritual understanding to see it, Judah could have started planning the victory party right then, when the Assyrian wrote so the God of Hezekiah will not deliver His people from my hand. It was one thing to speak against Judah, its people and leaders. It was another thing altogether to mock the LORD God of Israel this way, and count Him as “just another god.”
4. (20-23) Hezekiah’s prayer and victory.
Now because of this King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah, the son of Amoz, prayed and cried out to heaven. Then the LORD sent an angel who cut down every mighty man of valor, leader, and captain in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned shamefaced to his own land. And when he had gone into the temple of his god, some of his own offspring struck him down with the sword there. Thus the LORD saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib the king of Assyria, and from the hand of all others, and guided them on every side. And many brought gifts to the LORD at Jerusalem, and presents to Hezekiah king of Judah, so that he was exalted in the sight of all nations thereafter.
a. King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah, the son of Amoz, prayed and cried out to heaven: We learn more about this powerful and beautiful prayer in 2 Kings 19:1-5. Hezekiah and Isaiah went into the House of the LORD and prayed humbly and passionately, and God heard from heaven.
i. “It was the indignity done to Jehovah that stirred these two holy men to the heart.… Oh that we were possessed with a similar zeal for God, so that we might look at sin as it affects Him, and lament over the awful wrongs which are continually being perpetrated against his holy, loving nature! What an argument this would give us in prayer!” (Meyer)
ii. Isaiah the prophet brought assurance of the answer to this prayer to Hezekiah in 2 Kings 19:6-7.
b. And the LORD sent an angel who cut down every mighty man of valor: With a simple and powerful strike, God destroyed this mighty army in one night. 185,000 died at the hand of the angel of the LORD (2 Kings 19:35). Against all odds, and against every expectation except the expectation of faith, the Assyrian army was turned back without having even shot an arrow into Jerusalem. The unstoppable was stopped, the undefeated was defeated.
i. The prophet Hosea made this same prediction: Yet I will have mercy on the house of Judah, will save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword or battle, by horses or horsemen. (Hosea 1:7)
ii. “Herodotus, the Greek historian, recorded that one night Sennacherib’s army camp was infested with mice (or rats) that destroyed the arrows and shield-thongs of the soldiers. He probably got this tradition from Egyptian sources, and it could well be a somewhat garbled version of the event recorded here.” (Grogan)
iii. Some have speculated that there was a natural means that the angel used. “This has been thought to be a bacillary dysentery which had a three-day incubation period.” (Wiseman)
iv. “There was never a more conspicuous and glorious deliverance than when the angel of God wrought for Israel against Assyria. ” (Meyer)
v. “This event ranks, in fact, with Israel’s crossing of the Red Sea as one of the two greatest examples of the Lord’s intervention to save his people.” (Payne)
c. So he returned shamefaced to his own land: The shame seems to have left his face rather quickly. After this retreat from Judah, Sennacherib commissioned a record, which is preserved in the spectacular Annals of Sennacherib (the Taylor Prism), which can be seen in the British Museum. It shows how full of pride Sennacherib’s heart still was, even if he could not claim he conquered Jerusalem.
i. “I attacked Hezekiah of Judah who had not subjected himself to me, and took forty-six fortresses, forts and small cities. I carried away captive 200,150 people, big and small, both male and female, a multitude of horses, young bulls, asses, camels, and oxen. Hezekiah himself I locked up in Jerusalem like a bird in its cage. I put up banks against the city. I separated his cities whose inhabitants I had taken prisoners from his realm and gave them to Mitiniti, king of Ashdod, Padi, king of Ekron, and Zilbel, king of Gaza and thus diminished his country. And I added another tax to the one imposed on him earlier.” (Cited in Bultema, commentary on Isaiah)
ii. “The Biblical account concludes with the much debated statement that the Assyrian army was struck down in some way during the night with considerable loss of life, following which the siege was called off.… The Assyrian Annals tacitly agree with the Biblical version by making no claim that Jerusalem was taken, only describing tribute from Hezekiah.” (T.C. Mitchell, The Bible in the British Museum)
iii. “God spared Sennacherib, not in mercy, but in wrath, reserving to him a more dreadful and shameful death by the hands of his own children.” (Poole)
d. And when he had gone into the temple of his god, some of his own offspring struck him down with the sword there: Some 20 years after he returned, his own sons killed him. Perhaps Sennacherib thought he had escaped the judgment of God, but he hadn’t. He met the bitter end of death at the end of swords held by his own sons.
i. An old Jewish legend – and nothing more than a legend – says how it was that Sennacherib’s sons came to kill him. Sennacherib was troubled at how God seemed to bless the Jews so much, and tried to find out why. Someone told him it was because Abraham had loved God so much that he was willing to sacrifice his son to the LORD. Sennacherib thought he would be even more favored by God, and decided to kill two of his sons in sacrifice to the LORD, becoming even more blessed than Abraham and his descendants. But his two sons learned of the plan, and killed him before he could kill them, thus fulfilling the word of the LORD.
ii. He was exalted in the sight of all nations thereafter: “They saw that God was his friend, and would undertake for him; and they did not wish to have such a man for their enemy.” (Clarke)
B. The remainder of Hezekiah’s reign.
1. (24-26) Hezekiah is humbled and God relents.
In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death, and he prayed to the LORD; and He spoke to him and gave him a sign. But Hezekiah did not repay according to the favor shown him, for his heart was lifted up; therefore wrath was looming over him and over Judah and Jerusalem. Then Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the LORD did not come upon them in the days of Hezekiah.
a. In those days: This happened at the time of the Assyrian invasion of Judah because Jerusalem had not been delivered from the Assyrian threat yet (2 Kings 20:6). The events of this chapter are also recorded in Isaiah 38.
i. “Interpreters agree that the events described in chapters 38 and 39 preceded the invasion of 701 B.C….. Many date these events in 703 B.C., but the evidence more strongly suggests a date of about 712 B.C.” (Wolf, commentary on Isaiah)
b. Was sick and near death: We are not told how Hezekiah became sick. It may have been through something obvious to all, or it may have been through something known only to God. However Hezekiah became sick, it was certainly permitted by the LORD.
c. He spoke to him and gave him a sign: This sign – the sign of the retreating sundial – is recorded in 2 Kings 20:8-11.
d. Hezekiah did not repay according to the favor shown him: Sadly, Hezekiah did not receive this miracle with the gratitude that he should have. Yet he did humble himself for the pride of his heart, and was saved a greater judgment.
i. “All which probably raised in him too great an opinion of himself, as if these things were done, if not by his power, yet, at least, for his piety and virtues. And instead of walking humbly with God, and giving the glory all entirely to him, he took the honour to himself, and vain-gloriously showed his riches and precious treasures to the Babylonish ambassadors.” (Poole)
2. (27-33) The summation of the reign of Hezekiah.
Hezekiah had very great riches and honor. And he made himself treasuries for silver, for gold, for precious stones, for spices, for shields, and for all kinds of desirable items; storehouses for the harvest of grain, wine, and oil; and stalls for all kinds of livestock, and folds for flocks. Moreover he provided cities for himself, and possessions of flocks and herds in abundance; for God had given him very much property. This same Hezekiah also stopped the water outlet of Upper Gihon, and brought the water by tunnel to the west side of the City of David. Hezekiah prospered in all his works. However, regarding the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, whom they sent to him to inquire about the wonder that was done in the land, God withdrew from him, in order to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart. Now the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and his goodness, indeed they are written in the vision of Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, and in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel. So Hezekiah rested with his fathers, and they buried him in the upper tombs of the sons of David; and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem honored him at his death. Then Manasseh his son reigned in his place.
a. Hezekiah had very great riches and honor.… God had given him very much property: Hezekiah often generously used these great riches for good (2 Chronicles 31:3), but sometimes he managed his and the kingdom’s wealth foolishly (2 Kings 20:12-21).
b. Brought the water by tunnel to the west side of the City of David: This tunnel was an amazing engineering feat. He built an aqueduct to insure fresh water inside the city walls even during sieges. It was more than 650 yards long through solid rock, begun on each end and meeting in the middle. It can still be seen today and it empties into the pool of Siloam.
i. “This tunnel, found in 1880, was cut for 643 metres to cover a direct distance of 332 metres to enable the defenders to fetch water within the protective walls even during a siege.” (Wiseman)
ii. “An inscription in cursive Hebrew of the early eighth century B.C. details the work: ‘When (the tunnel) was driven through while (the quarrymen were swinging their) axes, each man towards the other and, while there was still 3 cubits to be cut through (there was heard) the voice of a man calling to his fellow, for there was a crevice (?) on the right…and when the tunnel was (finally) driven through, the quarrymen hewed each towards the others, axe against axe. Then the waters flowed from the Spring to the Pool for 1,200 cubits and the height of the rock above the head(s) of the quarrymen was 100 cubits.’” (Wiseman)
c. However, regarding the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon: This unfortunate chapter in the life of Hezekiah is recorded in 2 Kings 20:12-21. He was flattered by the visit of the ambassadors from this up-and-coming world power, and showed them the riches of the kingdom – riches which they later took by siege and war.
i. “It was not spiritual pride, as with his great-grandfather Uzziah; but worldly pride – ‘the pride of life,’ we might say. It was his precious things, his armor, his treasures, his house, his dominion, etc., that he showed the ambassadors from Babylon.” (Knapp)
ii. In this case Hezekiah faced – and failed under – a temptation common to many, especially those in ministry – the temptation of success. Many men who stand strong against the temptations of failure and weakness fail under the temptations of success and strength.
d. So Hezekiah rested with his fathers: There is no doubt that Hezekiah started out as a godly king, and overall his reign was one of outstanding godliness. Yet his beginning was much better than his end; Hezekiah did not finish well. God gave Hezekiah the gift of 15 more years of life (2 Kings 20:6), but the added years did not make him a better or a more godly man.
i. Time or age doesn’t necessarily make us any better. Consider that time does nothing but pass away. We sometimes say, “time will tell,” “time will heal,” or “time will bring out the potential in me.” But time will do nothing of the sort! Time will only come and go. It is only how we use time that matters. Hezekiah didn’t make good use of the extra time the LORD gave him.
ii. “Hezekiah was buried on the sloping hill where the tombs of David’s descendants were cut (2 Chronicles 32:33). This was because the royal Iron Age burial caves north of the city were full by this time and hereafter no Judean king was buried in the rock-hewn caves there.” (Wiseman)
iii. “Notwithstanding the lapses of the latter days, the reign was most remarkable, especially when it is remembered how fearful was the condition into which the nation had come at this time.” (Morgan)
2 Chronicles 31 – Provision for the Priests
A. The aftermath of Hezekiah’s Passover.
1. (1) The work against idolatry.
Now when all this was finished, all Israel who were present went out to the cities of Judah and broke the sacred pillars in pieces, cut down the wooden images, and threw down the high places and the altars; from all Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh; until they had utterly destroyed them all. Then all the children of Israel returned to their own cities, every man to his possession.
a. All Israel who were present went out to the cities of Judah and broke the sacred pillars: After the glorious double-length Passover celebration, the people renounced all idolatry in the strongest terms possible.
i. “Hezekiah’s previous emphasis on removing the paraphernalia of idol worship (cf. 2 Chronicles 29:15-19; 30:14; also 2 Kings 18:22) now became a popular movement.” (Selman)
b. From all Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh: This shows how broad the work was, including not only the kingdom of Judah but also substantial portions of the territory of the northern tribes.
i. This reformation “was not only carried on through Judah, but they carried it into Israel; whether through a transport of religious zeal, or whether with the consent of Hoshea the Israelitish king, we cannot tell.” (Clarke)
2. (2-3) The restoration and support of the regular priestly work.
And Hezekiah appointed the divisions of the priests and the Levites according to their divisions, each man according to his service, the priests and Levites for burnt offerings and peace offerings, to serve, to give thanks, and to praise in the gates of the camp of the LORD. The king also appointed a portion of his possessions for the burnt offerings: for the morning and evening burnt offerings, the burnt offerings for the Sabbaths and the New Moons and the set feasts, as it is written in the Law of the LORD.
a. And Hezekiah appointed the divisions of the priests and the Levites according to their divisions: Hezekiah did not allow the recent Passover celebration to be a one-time event. He followed up by the organization and institution of the regular priestly service.
i. “The Hebrew for Hezekiah’s assigning the priests to divisions is definite: he ‘appointed THE divisions of the priests.’ He reestablished the twenty-four rotating courses that had been set up by David (1 Chronicles 25) to insure orderly worship.” (Payne)
b. For burnt offerings…to serve…to give thanks…and to praise in the gates: This shows some of the duties of the priests and the Levites. Their work included the administration of the sacrifices, general service, and worship.
i. In the gates of the camp of the LORD: “Of the temple, fitly compared to a camp, for the watch and the ward there kept by the priests, and for the convention of the people thither, as to their rendezvous, to pray, which is the chief service of our spiritual warfare.” (Trapp)
c. The king also appointed a portion of his possessions: King Hezekiah was so committed to the restoration of the proper priestly service that he personally supported their work with a portion of his possessions.
3. (4-5) The tithe is commanded and brought.
Moreover he commanded the people who dwelt in Jerusalem to contribute support for the priests and the Levites, that they might devote themselves to the Law of the LORD. As soon as the commandment was circulated, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of grain and wine, oil and honey, and of all the produce of the field; and they brought in abundantly the tithe of everything.
a. Moreover he commanded the people who dwelt in Jerusalem to contribute support for the priests and the Levites: King Hezekiah did not present this as an option for the people of Judah. They were commanded to fulfill their obligations under the Law of Moses to support the priesthood through their tithes (Numbers 18:21-24).
i. As God said in Numbers 18:21, I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel. God commanded the tithes (a giving of ten percent of one’s income) be given to the Levites for their support. This establishes the principle that the tithes belong to God (He said I have given, so they are His to give), but He gave them to the Levites.
ii. When an Israelite failed to give their tithe, they were not robbing the Levite – though the money ended up with them. They were robbing God (Malachi 3:8-10), because God received the tithe from the giver, and He gave it to the Levite.
iii. Some today think the tithe, since it went to support the Levites (who were, in a sense, government workers in ancient Israel), is covered by government taxes of today, and that the free-will giving mentioned in the Old Testament answers to the New Testament emphasis on giving. We can say that the New Testament nowhere specifically commands tithing, but it certainly does speak of it in a positive light, if it is done with a right heart (Luke 11:42).
iv. It is also important to understand that tithing is not a principle dependent on the Mosaic Law; as Hebrews 7:5-9 explains, tithing was practiced and honored by God before the Law of Moses.
v. What the New Testament does speak with great clarity on is the principle of giving; that giving should be regular, planned, proportional, and private (1 Corinthians 16:1-4); that it must be generous, freely given, and cheerful (2 Corinthians 9).
vi. Since the New Testament doesn’t emphasize tithing, it need not be strictly applied by Christians (though some Christians do argue against tithing on the basis of self-interest); but since giving is to be proportional, we should be giving some percentage – and ten percent is a good benchmark – and starting place! For some to give ten percent is nowhere near enough; for others, at their present time, five percent may be a massive step of faith.
vii. If our question is, “How little can I give and still be pleasing to God?” our heart isn’t in the right place at all. We should have the attitude of some early Christians, who essentially said: “We’re not under the tithe – we can give more!” Giving and financial management is a spiritual issue, not just a financial one (Luke 16:11).
b. That they might devote themselves to the Law of the LORD: This reminds us of another duty of the Levites, beyond what was mentioned in 2 Chronicles 31:2 – the study and teaching of the Law of the LORD. The support of the Levites through the tithes of the people enabled this.
i. This is much the same principle as what Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 5:17-18: Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”
c. As soon as the commandment was circulated…they brought in abundantly the tithe of everything: The response of the people was impressive. Instead of thinking of reasons why this command did not apply to them or excuses to relieve themselves of the obligation, they brought in abundantly the tithe of everything.
i. “The firstfruits were the priests prerogative (Numbers 18:12-13), but the tithe, whether of crops and fruit or the herds was presented to the Levites (Numbers 18:21; cf. Leviticus 27:30-33).” (Selman)
B. The distribution and blessing of the tithe.
1. (6-10) The reception of the tithes.
And the children of Israel and Judah, who dwelt in the cities of Judah, brought the tithe of oxen and sheep; also the tithe of holy things which were consecrated to the LORD their God they laid in heaps. In the third month they began laying them in heaps, and they finished in the seventh month. And when Hezekiah and the leaders came and saw the heaps, they blessed the LORD and His people Israel. Then Hezekiah questioned the priests and the Levites concerning the heaps. And Azariah the chief priest, from the house of Zadok, answered him and said, “Since the people began to bring the offerings into the house of the LORD, we have had enough to eat and have plenty left, for the LORD has blessed His people; and what is left is this great abundance.”
a. In the third month they began laying them in heaps: The giving of tithes was so abundant that it took four months to simply receive all the gifts. No wonder Hezekiah and the leaders blessed the LORD and His people Israel when they saw the evidence of generous giving.
i. “They blessed the Lord; both for giving such plentiful provisions to his land in this year, and for giving his people such liberal and pious hearts towards this good work.” (Poole)
ii. Their happiness was not only because it meant that there would be plenty for the priests and Levites, it also showed that the Spirit of God was working powerfully in the people of Israel.
iii. The tithe of holy things: “The tithe of the holy or dedicated things probably refers to gifts made by the Levites to the priest from what they themselves had received.” (Selman)
b. Since the people began to bring the offerings into the house of the LORD, we have had enough to eat and have plenty left: The priests and Levites had long been neglected, and now they had plenty.
2. (11-19) The administration of the tithes.
Now Hezekiah commanded them to prepare rooms in the house of the LORD, and they prepared them. Then they faithfully brought in the offerings, the tithes, and the dedicated things; Cononiah the Levite had charge of them, and Shimei his brother was the next. Jehiel, Azaziah, Nahath, Asahel, Jerimoth, Jozabad, Eliel, Ismachiah, Mahath, and Benaiah were overseers under the hand of Cononiah and Shimei his brother, at the commandment of Hezekiah the king and Azariah the ruler of the house of God. Kore the son of Imnah the Levite, the keeper of the East Gate, was over the freewill offerings to God, to distribute the offerings of the LORD and the most holy things. And under him were Eden, Miniamin, Jeshua, Shemaiah, Amariah, and Shecaniah, his faithful assistants in the cities of the priests, to distribute allotments to their brethren by divisions, to the great as well as the small. Besides those males from three years old and up who were written in the genealogy, they distributed to everyone who entered the house of the LORD his daily portion for the work of his service, by his division, and to the priests who were written in the genealogy according to their father’s house, and to the Levites from twenty years old and up according to their work, by their divisions, and to all who were written in the genealogy; their little ones and their wives, their sons and daughters, the whole company of them; for in their faithfulness they sanctified themselves in holiness. Also for the sons of Aaron the priests, who were in the fields of the common-lands of their cities, in every single city, there were men who were designated by name to distribute portions to all the males among the priests and to all who were listed by genealogies among the Levites.
a. Hezekiah commanded them to prepare rooms in the house of the LORD: King Hezekiah was wise enough to know that it was important to properly manage the generous gifts of God’s people. They were concerned to do everything faithfully, out of respect to both God and His people who generously gave.
b. Cononiah the Levite had charge of them: Hezekiah put faithful men in positions of responsibility and accountability over these tithes. The king knew that faithful administration is promoted when people are accountable as overseers.
i. “Good planning and the implementation of adequate supporting structures provide a framework in which wholehearted and meaningful worship can take place. Hezekiah therefore prepared storerooms to receive the gifts, and various officials were appointed to collect and distribute them.” (Selman)
c. They distributed to everyone who entered the house of the LORD his daily portion for the work of his service: The tithes were used to support those who did the work of ministry to the LORD and His people (and of course, to support their families as well).
i. “This is alleged as a reason why their wives and children were provided for out of the holy things, because they sequestered themselves from worldly affairs, by which they might otherwise have provided for their families, and entirely devoted themselves to holy administrations.” (Poole)
ii. “Moses had ordered that the Levites should not begin their labour till they were thirty years of age: but David changed this order, and obliged them to begin at twenty.” (Clarke)
3. (20-21) Hezekiah’s godliness and prosperity.
Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah, and he did what was good and right and true before the LORD his God. And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, in the law and in the commandment, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart. So he prospered.
a. He did what was good and right and true before the LORD his God: Hezekiah’s godliness was exemplary among the kings of Judah. His concern was not primarily for political power or prestige, but for what was good and right and true before the LORD. Additionally, when he did something he did it with all his heart.
i. “Hezekiah finished his task because he sought God wholeheartedly. In this, he complied with David’s advice (cf. 1 Chronicles 22:19; 28:9) and followed the pattern of other kings (cf. 2 Chronicles 15:17; 22:9; cf. 2 Chronicles 11:16; 19:3).” (Selman)
ii. “In every respect he was a thoroughly excellent man, saw his duty to God and to his people, and performed it with becoming zeal and diligence. May God ever send such kings to the nations of the world; and may the people who are blessed with such be duly obedient to them, and thankful to the God who sends them!” (Clarke)
b. So he prospered: His prosperity was evidence of the blessing of God, especially in connection with his own generosity and wise stewardship.
i. “These words reveal his purpose, his method, and the result; and form a revelation of abiding value to all who are called upon to perform Divine service in any form. His purpose was ‘to seek his God’; and the expression is exactly equivalent to that with which we are familiar: ‘Seek ye first His kingdom.’ His method was that of complete devotion, ‘with all his heart.’ The result was that of prosperity, that is, of success in the very work which was attempted.” (Morgan)
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