Jehovah’s Word Is Alive
Highlights From the Book of Second Chronicles
AS THE Bible book of Second Chronicles opens, Solomon is ruling as king over Israel. The book ends with these words of Persian King Cyrus to the exiled Jews in Babylonia: “[Jehovah] himself has commissioned me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all his people, Jehovah his God be with him. So let him go up [to Jerusalem].” (2 Chronicles 36:23) Completed by the priest Ezra in 460 B.C.E., the book covers 500 years—from 1037 B.C.E. to 537 B.C.E.
Cyrus’ decree makes it possible for the Jews to return to Jerusalem and reestablish Jehovah’s worship there. However, the long years of Babylonian captivity have taken their toll. The returned exiles lack knowledge of their national history. Second Chronicles provides them with a vivid summary of events under kings of the royal line of David. The narrative is also of interest to us because it highlights the blessings that come from obedience to the true God and the consequences of disobedience to him.
A KING BUILDS A HOUSE TO JEHOVAH
Jehovah gives King Solomon the request of his heart—wisdom and knowledge—along with riches and honor. The king builds a magnificent house to Jehovah in Jerusalem, and the people are “joyful and feeling good at heart.” (2 Chronicles 7:10) Solomon comes to be “greater than all the other kings of the earth in riches and wisdom.”—2 Chronicles 9:22.
After ruling over Israel for 40 years, Solomon ‘lies down with his forefathers, and Rehoboam his son begins to rule in his place.’ (2 Chronicles 9:31) Ezra does not record Solomon’s deviation from true worship. The only negative points mentioned about the king are his unwise acquisition of many horses from Egypt and his marriage to the daughter of Pharaoh. The chronicler thus presents the account from a positive standpoint.
Scriptural Questions Answered:
2:14—Why is the lineage of the craftsman described here different from the one found at 1 Kings 7:14? First Kings refers to the craftsman’s mother as “a widowed woman from the tribe of Naphtali” because she had married a man of that tribe. She herself, though, was from the tribe of Dan. After her husband’s death, she married a man of Tyre, and the artisan was an offspring of that marriage.
2:18; 8:10—These verses state that the number of deputies serving as overseers and as foremen over the labor force was 3,600 plus 250, whereas according to 1 Kings 5:16; 9:23, they numbered 3,300 plus 550. Why do the numbers differ? The difference seems to be in the way the deputies are classified. It may be that Second Chronicles differentiates between 3,600 non-Israelites and 250 Israelite deputies, while First Kings distinguishes 3,300 foremen from 550 chief supervisors of higher rank. In any case, the total number of those serving as deputies was 3,850.
4:2-4—Why was the representation of bulls used in the construction of the base of the molten sea? In the Scriptures, bulls are a symbol of strength. (Ezekiel 1:10; Revelation 4:6, 7) The choice of bulls as a representation was fitting because the 12 copper bulls supported the huge “sea,” which weighed some 30 tons. The making of bulls for this purpose did not in any way violate the second commandment, which prohibited the making of objects for worship.—Exodus 20:4, 5.
4:5—What was the total capacity of the molten sea? When filled, the sea could hold three thousand bath measures, or about 17,400 gallons [66,000 L]. The normal level, however, was probably about two thirds of its capacity. First Kings 7:26 states: “Two thousand bath measures [11,600 gallons [44,000 L]] were what [the sea] would contain.”
5:4, 5, 10—What furniture from the original tabernacle became part of Solomon’s temple? The only item from the original tent of meeting that was kept in Solomon’s temple was the Ark. After the construction of the temple, the tabernacle was taken from Gibeon to Jerusalem and was apparently stored there.—2 Chronicles 1:3, 4.
Lessons for Us:
1:11, 12. Solomon’s request showed Jehovah that gaining wisdom and knowledge was close to the king’s heart. Our prayers to God indeed reveal what is close to our heart. We are wise to analyze their content.
6:4. Heartfelt appreciation for Jehovah’s loving-kindness and goodness should move us to bless Jehovah—that is, praise him with affection and gratitude.
6:18-21. Though God cannot be contained in any building, the temple was to serve as the center of Jehovah’s worship. Today, Kingdom Halls of Jehovah’s Witnesses are centers of true worship in the community.
SUCCESSION OF KINGS IN THE LINE OF DAVID
The united kingdom of Israel is divided in two—the northern ten-tribe kingdom and the southern two-tribe kingdom of Judah and Benjamin. The priests and the Levites in all Israel place loyalty to the Kingdom covenant above nationalism and take their stand with Solomon’s son Rehoboam. In a little over 30 years after its completion, the temple is robbed of its treasures.
Of the 19 kings who follow Rehoboam, 5 are faithful, 3 start out well but become unfaithful, and one turns around from his wrong course. The rest of the rulers do what is bad in Jehovah’s eyes.* The activities of the five kings who place their confidence in Jehovah are emphasized. The accounts of Hezekiah reviving temple services and Josiah arranging for a great Passover must have been of great encouragement to the Jews interested in reestablishing Jehovah’s worship in Jerusalem.
Scriptural Questions Answered:
13:5—What is meant by the expression “a covenant of salt”? Because of its preserving properties, salt became a symbol of permanence and immutability. “A covenant of salt,” then, denotes a binding agreement.
14:2-5; 15:17—Did King Asa remove all “the high places”? Apparently, he did not. It may be that Asa removed only the high places associated with the worship of false gods but not those where people worshipped Jehovah. It could also be that high places were built again in the latter part of Asa’s reign. These his son Jehoshaphat removed. Actually, the high places did not disappear completely, even during Jehoshaphat’s reign.—2 Chronicles 17:5, 6; 20:31-33.
15:9; 34:6—What was the standing of the tribe of Simeon with respect to the division of the kingdom of Israel? Having received as an inheritance various enclaves in Judah, the tribe of Simeon was geographically within the kingdom of Judah and Benjamin. (Joshua 19:1) Religiously and politically, however, the tribe aligned itself with the northern kingdom. (1 Kings 11:30-33; 12:20-24) Hence, Simeon was counted with the ten-tribe kingdom.
16:13, 14—Was Asa cremated? No, the “extraordinarily great funeral burning” refers, not to the cremation of Asa, but to the burning of spices.—Footnote.
35:3—From where did Josiah have the holy Ark brought into the temple? Whether the Ark was removed earlier by one of the wicked kings or was relocated by Josiah for safekeeping during the extensive repair work of the temple, the Bible does not say. The only historical reference to the Ark after Solomon’s day is when Josiah brought it into the temple.
Lessons for Us:
16:1-5, 7; 18:1-3, 28-32; 21:4-6; 22:10-12; 28:16-22. Alliances with foreigners or nonbelievers have tragic consequences. We are wise to avoid any unnecessary involvement with the world.—John 17:14, 16; James 4:4.
16:7-12; 26:16-21; 32:25, 26. Haughtiness caused King Asa to behave badly during the last years of his life. A haughty spirit led to Uzziah’s downfall. Hezekiah acted unwisely and perhaps proudly when he showed Babylonian emissaries his treasury. (Isaiah 39:1-7) “Pride is before a crash,” warns the Bible, “and a haughty spirit before stumbling.”—Proverbs 16:18.
16:9. Jehovah helps those whose heart is complete toward him, and he is eager to use his power in their behalf.
19:1-3. Jehovah looks for the good in us even when we give him reasons to be angry with us.
20:17. To “see the salvation of Jehovah,” we need to “take [our] position” in active support of God’s Kingdom. Rather than take matters into our own hands, we must “stand still,” placing our implicit trust in Jehovah.
24:17-19; 25:14. Idolatry proved to be a snare for Jehoash and his son Amaziah. Today, idolatry can be equally seductive, particularly when it comes in the subtle form of covetousness or nationalism.—Colossians 3:5; Revelation 13:4.
33:2-9, 12, 13, 15, 16. A person shows true repentance by abandoning a wrong course and putting forth a determined effort to do what is right. On the basis of genuine repentance, even a person who has acted as wickedly as King Manasseh can receive Jehovah’s mercy.
34:1-3. Any negative circumstances of childhood need not prevent us from coming to know God and serving him. A positive influence Josiah may have had during his early years could have come from his repentant grandfather, Manasseh. Whatever positive influences Josiah might have had eventually produced fine results. So it can be with us.
36:15-17. Jehovah is compassionate and patient. However, his compassion and patience are not limitless. People must respond favorably to the Kingdom-preaching work if they are to survive when Jehovah brings an end to this wicked system of things.
Moved to Action by a Book
“Josiah removed all the detestable things out of all the lands that belonged to the sons of Israel,” states 2 Chronicles 34:33, “and he had all who were found in Israel take up service, to serve Jehovah their God.” What moved Josiah to do this? When Shaphan the secretary brought the newly discovered book of Jehovah’s Law to King Josiah, the king had it read aloud. So touched was Josiah by what he heard that he zealously promoted pure worship throughout his life.
Reading God’s Word and meditating on what we read can affect us profoundly. Does not reflecting on the account of the kings in the Davidic line encourage us to imitate the examples of those who made Jehovah their confidence and avoid the conduct of those who did not? Second Chronicles stimulates us to give our exclusive devotion to the true God and remain faithful to him. Its message certainly is alive and exerts power.—Hebrews 4:12.
For questions pertaining to the inauguration of the temple and other lessons from Solomon’s prayer on that occasion, see The Watchtower, July 1, 2005, pages 28-31.
For a chronological list of Judah’s kings, see The Watchtower, August 1, 2005, page 12.
[Picture on page 18]
Do you know why bulls were a fitting representation in the base of the molten sea?
[Pictures on page 21]
Though he had limited help as a child, Josiah grew up to be faithful to Jehovah