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the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14
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Bible Commentaries
2 Chronicles

Carroll's Interpretation of the English BibleCarroll's Biblical Interpretation

- 2 Chronicles

by B.H. Carroll

GENERAL INTRODUCTION

GENERAL HELPS

It is well to name some general helps available and valuable to every ordinary student of the English Bible whose literary attainments are limited. For university graduates and riper scholars a much more extended bibliography would be appropriate. The helps here named should be in every preacher’s library.


1. Wood’s Hebrew Monarchy. This, in some respects, is a better textbook than Crockett’s Harmony, because it places beside the texts the parallel passage from the Prophets and other books, giving a broader view of the subject, but it is an English book and has to be imported from England, and so costs a great deal more than Crockett’s, which is a splendid book. If I were a young preacher, I certainly would send for Wood’s Hebrew Monarchy and master it.


2. Edersheim’s "History of Israel." This is the best general help. It is scholarly, conservative, and spiritual. The edition published in about nine small volumes, is easily handled, and volumes V and VI are the ones to use in this study.


3. Stanley’s "Jewish Church." This is a very lively discussion of this history. It follows mainly Ewald’s History of Israel, and hence, to a considerable extent, is poisoned with the German radical criticism. It is not nearly so conservative or safe as Edersheim. It would perhaps be better to leave it out, if the reader’s general knowledge is not pretty well extended.


4. Geikie’s "Hour with the Bible," in six volumes. Volume IV is the one for this study. The chief value of this book is its intimate acquaintance with the archeology of the surrounding nations. Geikie is a radical critic, and I do not class him at all with Edersheim, but I get a good deal of benefit from the book.


5. Hengstenberg’s "History of the Kingdom of God in the Old Testament," in two volumes. Volume II is the one to study as collateral help. Hengstenberg was the chaplain of the emperor of Germany, a prominent teacher in the Theological Department of the Berlin University, and is one of the few Germans who did not go wild on radical criticism. I became so much attached to him that I ordered all of his books. He has a commentary on four or five of the prophets and on the Psalms, and he has a magnificent discussion on the Christology of the Old Testament. But his work bearing on this study is in the second volume of his history of the kingdom of God in the Old Testament.


6. People’s Bible History. This is a very modern work, edited by the great Northern Baptist preacher, George C. Lorimer. William E. Gladstone wrote the introduction to the book. It gives a brief and valuable discussion of all the periods of Bible history. About one of the poorest of them is the one written by a Methodist preacher on this part here. I do not mean to say that this is bad – it is good – but it is about the poorest among a great many great documents.

COMMENTARIES
Now a word about commentaries. The Cambridge Bible is good on both Kings and Chronicles. That commentary is published in very small, handy volumes. Some of the volumes of the Cambridge commentary are utterly poisoned by radical criticism, but the volumes on Kings and Chronicles are both good.


Sometimes, but not nearly so often, I recommend a volume of the "Expositor’s Bible," but I cannot do it on this period. That is written by Canon Farrar of England, and while he has written some splendid New Testament books – such as the Life of Christ and the Life of Paul – yet, we may skip anything on the Old Testament written by Farrar and never lose anything; he is a semi-infidel on the Old Testament. So I never refer to the "Expositor’s Bible" for help on this section of the Bible.


There is a little commentary that I particularly recommend. It is so brief, so clear, so scholarly, and withal so conservative that I advise the reader to consult it. It is Murphy on Chronicles. I especially commend this one.


On this period the reader may profitably consult other commentaries. Not in every particular, but in general, I recommend the following: Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown. It is about the briefest commentary on the whole Bible I ever saw, but very critical, scholarly, and generally very sound. Second, the Bible (or Speaker’s) Commentary, generally very good. Third, the Pulpit Commentary, which is very voluminous, and certain volumes of it better than others, but on the whole it is a very valuable commentary for a preacher to have, particularly the homiletical part of it. Fourth, one that I never leave out, is the Comprehensive Commentary, the basis of which is Matthew Henry. That is an old commentary, edited by a Baptist, named Jenkins. These old commentaries are generally far more spiritual than the modern commentaries. They are, of course, not up-to-date in some things, but we get the heart of the matter in them, and that is the main thing, because an irreverent commentary however scholarly, hurts spirituality. Not so, Matthew Henry.

HISTORIES
Now, having mentioned the general helps and the commentaries, I will mention the histories that have been favorites of mine. First, I mention Rollins’ Ancient History on this period. For instance, Egypt, Phoenicia, Assyria, Babylon. Rollins looks at history from the standpoint of God and God’s government of the nations.


The second general history, and I will mention only one other, is not so old as Rollins’ history. It is written by a conservative critic, George Rawlinson on "The Five Great Monarchies of the Ancient World" and all of them touching the kingdom of God. Those five are Chaldea, Assyria, Babylonia, Media, and Persia, besides special histories of Egypt, Phoenicia, and Parthia.

PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS
I repeat here some observations given in our study on the Hebrew monarchy. They bear particularly on the part of the history supplied by Chronicles. There are certain peculiarities of Chronicles which distinguish it, not only from the books of Samuel and Kings, but from all the other books before the destruction of the monarchy. I wish to make these matters plain for the object of this introduction is simply to show how to study.


First, the book of Kings was written by contemporary historians concerning the current events of the theocratic Jewish monarchy in which the civil and religious powers were united. It was necessary, therefore, for Kings to give the history of both the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom, of the ten tribes and the Kingdom of Judah, and also to set forth the work of the prophets in both kingdoms. Chronicles was written, or rather compiled, by Ezra, long after most of the events narrated therein, and from the viewpoint of a spiritual, rather than of a worldly kingdom, seeing that the worldly monarchy was ended forever. The viewpoint in Chronicles is very different from the viewpoint in Kings; before one word of Chronicles was written, or rather compiled, the monarchy was gone, never to be restored. Unless therefore, the kingdom idea is to be abandoned altogether, this new history must stress the spiritual idea of the kingdom, and hence prepare the way for the Messiah’s spiritual kingdom to succeed David’s. From the viewpoint of Chronicles the state ruler is a foreigner, a Persian, later to be a Greek, and still later, a Roman. Hence, it is on a line with the kingdom idea of the prophets on the exilian and the postexilian periods, particularly Daniel.


Chronicles has little to say of the Northern Kingdom, in fact, it does not touch it at all except at the few points of special contact with the Southern Kingdom. So we do not look to Chronicles to learn about the history of the ten tribes. Chronicles does not stress the ten tribes in their losing, but it does stress every return from the ten tribes of Judah. We will notice that as one of the greatest peculiarities of the book. The object is to show that the ten tribes were not lost; a remnant was saved and returned to Judah.


Now, as the theocratic, worldly monarchy is dead forever, the book of Chronicles is needed to commence at the beginning of time and trace, through the Davidic line, the true conception of the Messiah’s approaching kingdom. Hence, Chronicles commences with Adam, just as if there were no other history at all. Its first nine chapters are devoted to giving the genealogy down to David, then it gives at length the glorious reigns of David and Solomon, with which we do not have anything to do in this discussion. Only the last part of it is devoted to the history of Judah after the ten tribes had revolted and that is the part we have for consideration in this discussion.


Hence, the book of Chronicles largely supplements all past history of the Jews by the introduction of very new matter. In Chronicles are found twenty whole chapters and twenty-four parts of chapters that are not found anywhere else in the Bible. To be exact, I give the parts of the book that cannot be found anywhere else:


1 Chronicles 2:18-55; 1 Chronicles 3:19-24; 1 Chronicles 9:1-44; 1 Chronicles 11:41-47; 1 Chronicles 12:1-40; 1 Chronicles 15:1-26; 1 Chronicles 16:1-43; 1 Chronicles 22:1-19; 1 Chronicles 23:1-32; 1 Chronicles 24:1-31; 1 Chronicles 25:1-31; 1 Chronicles 26:1-32; 1 Chronicles 27:1-34; 1 Chronicles 28:1-21; 1 Chronicles 29:1-30.


2 Chronicles 6:40-42; 2 Chronicles 11:5-23; 2 Chronicles 12:4-8; 2 Chronicles 13:3-21; 2 Chronicles 14:3-15; 2 Chronicles 15:1-15; 2 Chronicles 16:7-10; 2 Chronicles 17:1-19; 2 Chronicles 18:1-34; 2 Chronicles 19:1-11; 2 Chronicles 20:1-30; 2 Chronicles 21:2-4; 2 Chronicles 11:1-23; 2 Chronicles 12:1-16; 2 Chronicles 13:1-22; 2 Chronicles 14:1-15; 2 Chronicles 15:1-19; 2 Chronicles 16:1-14; 2 Chronicles 17:1-19; 2 Chronicles 18:1-34; 2 Chronicles 19:1-11; 2 Chronicles 24:15-22; 2 Chronicles 25:5-10; 2 Chronicles 25:12-16; 2 Chronicles 26:5-20; 2 Chronicles 27:4-6; 2 Chronicles 28:5-25; 2 Chronicles 29:3-36; 2 Chronicles 30:1-27; 2 Chronicles 31:1-21; 2 Chronicles 32:22-23; 2 Chronicles 32:26-31; 2 Chronicles 33:11-19; 2 Chronicles 34:3-7; 2 Chronicles 35:2-17; 2 Chronicles 35:25; 2 Chronicles 36:11-23.


These passages show the differences in matter between Chronicles and all previous Old Testament histories. When we study a book we ought to know the object in view, and how it is distinguished from other books. On the way to a convention once I happened to refer to this enormous supplementary character of the book of Chronicles, and a preacher present stated that he knew I was mistaken, and I told him that if he had ever taught it as I bad, word by word, he would not challenge my statement.

SOURCES
I have referred to the book of Chronicles as a compilation by Ezra long after most of the history had passed away. Now a very important matter to determine is, What were Ezra’s sources of material for compiling this book? Of course, he had before him all the canonical books written before his time – every book written from Genesis to the end of Kings – historical, poetical, and prophetic. Ezra was living when the Old Testament ended, and indeed according to good tradition he put together the whole of the Old Testament in the form we now have it. The end of Chronicles is the beginning of Ezra and Nehemiah. But if twenty complete chapters and twenty-four parts of chapters are found nowhere else, what is his source for this considerable supplementary matter? The compiler himself refers, for the events of David’s reign, to records by Samuel, Nathan, and Gad. For the reign of Solomon he refers to records by Nathan, the prophecy of Abijah and the visions of Iddo, the Seer. For the other reigns he refers to records by Iddo, Shemaiah, Jehu the son of Hanani, Isaiah, and others. So the radical critics never made a greater mistake in their lives than when they supposed that the Jewish nation was not abundantly supplied with contempory records. No other nation in the world ever had such a systematic preservation of contemporaneous literature as the Jews.

CAUSES OF THE DIVISION
I must speak somewhat of the causes which led to the disruption of the kingdom. The kingdom was established in Saul, who reigned forty years; then followed David, forty years and Solomon, forty years. There was a period of 120 years of the united kingdom, all of which we discussed in the period of Hebrew monarchy.


The most glorious reign of any monarch known to history was the reign of Solomon. It filled the vision of the world. Its empire extended from a branch of the Nile to the Euphrates. The nations of the world sent their princes and their wise men to look upon his glory and to hear his wisdom. He had the sea commerce of the world in two directions: First, from Joppa, Tyre, and Sidon on the Mediterranean coast, and he traded even with the British Isles; and then from Eziongeber, a port on the Arabian Gulf, his fleets went to the far east. From Egypt on the Nile to the Euphrates there were two great caravan routes, passing through Damascus and from Tyre another caravan route extending across into Arabia. Jerusalem was made the center and entrepot of these mighty tides of commerce by land and sea. And yet, in a few days after he died, the kingdom went to pieces.


We are to study this divided kingdom, and before we take up the history of the divided kingdom, I will point out some of the causes remote and near, that brought about so great a collapse in so short a time. There are no accidents in history; no man can put his finger on any historic name or event and tell just where it started. He does not know how far back he will have to go, nor can he tell just where it will stop. But the philosophy of history consists in seeing the reasons of things. I emphasize as the first cause the long-standing jealousy between the two great tribes, Ephraim and Judah. When Jacob went to bless Joseph’s children, though he was blind, he crossed his hands in order to get his right hand on the head of Ephraim, the younger son, and in his blessing on the tribes, at the end of Genesis, we find a forecast of the power of the children of Joseph. And when Moses gives his blessing, at the end of Deuteronomy, he forecasts Judah and Ephraim. And in the history of the judges we see the pride of Ephraim continually coming to the front. In Saul’s time, Ephraim supported Saul after God rejected him, and supported his son, Ishbosheth, after God had committed the kingdom to David. Ephraim prevented the consolidation of the kingdom under David for quite a while, but it finally came into line. Now, that long-standing Jealousy between Ephraim and Judah finally fruited into the division of the kingdom.


Second, the reluctance of the northern tribes to give up their holy places after Jerusalem was made, by David, the capital of the whole country. For instance, there was Shechem, a holy place in Abraham’s time, and the schools of the prophets, most of them at least, were located in the territory of the ten tribes. Gibeon, where Solomon worshiped, was in the territory of the ten tribes; Shiloh, where the ark rested so long was there. When a capital was selected which lay mostly in the tribes of Benjamin and partly in the tribe of Judah, this being the central site (the Temple was built there), it discounted all the other holy places, and those who had been accustomed to other places had a jealousy of Jerusalem.


Third, the memory of previous rebellions against the house of David still lived. Sheba’s rebellion was evidently alive, for we will see in the next chapter that the seceding tribes adopt the very divisive war cry of Sheba. When Absalom rebelled the ten tribes sided with him. These are all remote causes. Now I will give you some nearer causes, and we commence with Solomon. In the first place, Solomon departed from the Mosaic Law of the Kingdom given in Deuteronomy 17:14-20. We can never understand the Jewish monarchy unless we fix on our hearts that paragraph in Deuteronomy which gives the law of the Kingdom: "He shall not multiply wives," and Solomon had about a thousand in all, wives and concubines, a pretty big violation there. "He shall not multiply horses," and yet we read the account of the palatial residences of Solomon’s horses and chariots. "He shall not inter-marry with Canaanites." Look at the list of some of Solomon’s wives. "He shall have a copy of the Pentateuch [the law] made and keep it by him and read it and meditate on it every day." Look at the number of times he violated that Pentateuch.


The second offensive thing that Solomon did was to enforce labor, that is, he drafted the population for labor and with enforced labor and very onerous taxes he erected many imposing public structures apart from the Temple. His own palace it took thirteen years to build. Then the enormous food supply for his court table and his laborers was a grievous tax. A summons had to go out all over the land: "You must furnish so many oxen," etc., and it tells the number of oxen they ate at Solomon’s table every day. The people liked public improvements, but when those improvements were all put up in one end of the country, at Jerusalem mainly, these other places felt that they were taxed out of house and home to build up another part of the country.


Third, there was a cosmopolitan atmosphere about the court of Solomon, which gendered a foreign spirit, alien to the simplicity of the isolated mission of Israel. Then, Solomon erected places of worship for his heathen wives and in Jerusalem at that. And judgment was pronounced on him for it. God foretold him through a prophet that the kingdom would be divided, but not in his day, and that he would lose ten of the tribes. Now, we come to the last observation that I want to make on the causes. Let the reader get first, a mental map, and then a mental history of the nations surrounding Solomon’s kingdom. They have a great deal to do with the division of the kingdom.


Then let us look at Egypt first. Solomon tried to secure peace with Egypt by marrying a daughter of Pharaoh. But a new Pharaoh, Shishak, of a different dynasty, becomes king of Egypt, and every man in Solomon’s kingdom that gets disgruntled flees to Egypt, and that king nourishes them, just as the kings of France would receive the house of the banished Stuarts and take care of them, all the time prepared to use them in an invasion of England. We cannot understand this period unless we know Egypt.


Then on the Mediterranean coast was Phoenicia, Tyre, and Sidon. The darkest hour for religion in the history of the world since the flood comes from Phoenician influence) as we :shall see a little later. Then, just north, is Syria, coming into power in this period, and we will trace the rise of Syria. Then south was Edom, the children of Esau, and then Midian, the children of Abraham by Keturah; then the Ishmaelites, the children of Abraham by Hagar; then the descendants of Lot’s incest with his daughters, the Ammonites and the Moabites, on the southwest.


Now, with that circle of enemies, always ready to take advantage, it is very important that the kingdom stand together, for if it ever divides we will see in a moment that Judah has to fortify itself south and west to protect against Egypt and Philistia. When the Northern Kingdom is mad at Judah it makes friends with Egypt, and Judah will rally itself with Syria. So each kingdom will be ready to persuade the outside enemy of the other to step on its tail in case of war.

QUESTIONS

1. What general helps commended?

2. What commentaries?

3. What histories?

4. Distinguish between Kings & Chronicles, bringing out clearly the peculiarities of Chronicles as to viewpoints, beginning and supplementary matter.

5. What are the sources of material for Chronicles, particularly for the supplementary matter?

6. How long had the monarchy lasted before the division, and what reigns?

7. Give a summary of Solomon’s kingdom as to its glory, extent, caravan trade, and commerce.

8. Enumerate the causes, remote and near, of the sudden collapse and division of the kingdom.

9. What the contiguous nations contributing to the danger of Solomon’s kingdom and necessitating union in order to safety and what the special danger from each?

 
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