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Posts Tagged ‘Chronicles’

The two histories of Israel focus upon the kings of Judah and Israel, lending special attention to questions of royal conduct. Did this or that king do what is just and right in the sight of YHWH? Or did he not?

The verdicts pronounced on this score are concise. No doubt each one summarizes in a simple sentence moral complexities whose nuance and detail would fill libraries. (more…)

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It seems at first odd that a history of Israel that reserves an exalted space for good-hearted monarchs should clear a circle also for the rogue prophet who strides into the king’s courts to denounce his behavior. This scenario represents the narrative version of the more abstract declaration that Israel must not have kings like those of all the other nations.

Israel, and then the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah, are summoned to a new kind of kingship whereby the royal figure maintains a respectful subservience to YHWH’s instruction, whether this is delivered in the ‘law of Moses’ or by the words of a prophet. The dynamic this establishes sets up some of the more dramatic moments of the Bible’s twin histories of Israel. (more…)

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Asa’s own political machinations come under the disapproving gaze of the prophet Hanani, who again takes up the language of leaning or relying. By persuading the king of Aram to open a northern front against the Asa’s Israelite nemesis, the Judahite king successfully wards off pressure from that quarter.

Yet YHWH’s prophet, for all the apparent success of this stratagem, is not amused. (more…)

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The story of the Judahite kings Abijah and Asa is perforated with observations about two human endeavors towards YHWH: leaning upon him and seeking him.

Neither one of these activities is transparent to the modern reader. (more…)

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It is a good day in Jerusalem when the priests cannot stand. It means that YHWH has appeared in force.

If any biblical text places supreme confidence in the potency of organized worship, it is the twin books of Chronicles. The microscopic detail of this  book’s passion for genealogical and cultic order is fascinating for those whose temperament aligns with its idiosyncrasy, offputting for others. (more…)

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YHWH’s promises to David are so lavish that they often accrue the adjective ‘unconditional’. Declared primarily in the Bible’s two great histories of Israel (Deuteronomy-2 Kings and Chronicles-Nehemiah) and then reflected upon in the Psalms and Prophets, YHWH commits himself to David’s ‘house’ in seemingly open-ended manner. (more…)

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The Books of Chronicles are most like the Psalms in their focus upon Israel realizing her destiny in the context of worship. It would be easy to push this observation to reductionistic ends. The topic of worship seems almost to shove people rudely against that wall, often with their lustiest cooperation. This oversimplification and the obsession that ensues is perhaps testimony to the power of the worship idea that inadvertently fuels such passion. (more…)

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It is a moving thing to observe the heart of a people turning to a leader-in-waiting or gathering to him in force after events have lined up behind him. Such is the story of David’s rise to sovereignty over the whole of Israel and Judah. The story is studded with vignettes about heroes, heroism, and the remarkable loyalty that bound an increasing number of rebels, outcasts, and—eventually—societal pillars to the fate and person of this David. (more…)

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A genealogy like the extensive one that occupies the opening chapters of the Books of Chronicles is a black hole of tribal memory. Like those astronomical oddities, the recitation of the carefully archived names evokes an incalculably dense matrix of human experience. There are hundreds of them. Each lived, loved, ached, rejoiced, ate, defecated, hoped, despaired, died. Each was to some greater or lesser degree mourned by those who survived him. (more…)

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It is these days considered a naive question to read ancient documents and ask ‘what really happened’. We are instructed that ‘actual events’ are inaccessible behind the interpretive curtain that necessarily separates all tellers of tales from the space-and-time events they describe. Further, what are ‘space-and-time’ events, and does it even make sense to speak of them apart from the ubiquitous interpretive lens?

There may come a time when such epistemological resignation begins to look absurd. In the meantime, readers unenlightened by this doctrine continue to wonder what really happened, say, on the day that the Moabites and Ammonites came in war against King Jehoshaphat’s Judah. Vastly outnumbered and with no tactical hope in the world, Jehoshaphat and his people ‘seek the Lord’, as though military survival could possibly be achieved by means of such a religious initiative. (more…)

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