The Book of Chronicles

The final book of the Bible recounts the nation's history, but what it emphasizes and de-emphasizes is telling.

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"God saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from Sennacherib the king of Assyria, and from all others, and gave them rest all around. Many brought tribute to God to Jerusalem, as well as presents for Hezekiah king of Judah, who was elevated in the sight of the nations after this" (II Chronicles 32:22-23).

Religious reforms are thus the cause of Jerusalem's salvation. This interpretation of political events is common in Chronicles: political success is the result of extirpating idolatry, obeying God's Torah and His prophets, and honoring His Temple. We find similar interpretations in Chronicles' narrative of the war of Rehoboam and Jeroboam in II Chronicles 13 and in its narrative of King Jehoshaphat's war in II Chronicles 20.  Chronicles also offers a new perspective on how religious and cultic acts are to be done, emphasizing the use of music in the Temple service (I Chronicles 15:19; II Chronicles 5:12, 29:25) and speaking of  sacrifices being done "with joy" (II Chronicles 23:18; 30:21).

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Shawn Zelig Aster is Assistant Professor of Bible at Yeshiva University.