My daily exploration of the Bible, taking it one chapter at a time. If I do it everyday, it'll take 1189 days.



Monday, October 31, 2005

1 Chronicles 11

David and his men

Summary:
David was made king by the people after Saul in Hebron. Then David took Jerusalem and Zion, making Joab his commander because he led the attack on Jerusalem.

He also had many heroes, including the Three who got him water from the enemy's camp, and others who killed many and won great battles, and beat lions. There were also the thirty mighty men.

Key verse:
9. And David became more and more powerful, because the Lord Almighty was with him.

My thoughts:
David was quite smart to set up thirty people as heroes. They would have brought pride to Israel, kind of like our All Blacks.

If you have read Samuel and Kings, you will notice that the narrative is largely identical. The Chronicler clearly used Samuel and Kings as a source.

Well, I just tried to check up blog at my hall, and it said that access is fordbidden. However it works on this computer, which is right next to it. Weird.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

1 Chronicles 10

Saul's death

Summary:
When the Philistines fought against Israel, they were winning, and Saul got hit with an arrow after his sons had been killed. He took his own life, rather than being killed by the Philistines. They took his body, and occupied Israel for a time. The people of Jabesh Gilead took his body back. Saul did evil in God's eyes, and was replaced by David.

Key verse:
13. Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord.

My thoughts:
Finally we are out of the genealogies, and into narrative.

From the beginning of the narrative we see a slightly different focus than that of the Samuel-Kings narratives. The story of Saul is almost non-existent, and the point of this chapter is simply a lead into David's reign. Chronicles was written in post-exilic Judah, when there was no Israel. The focus is on the line of David, which is unbroken through all Judah's history. This is partly in the hope of a restoration of David's line.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

1 Chronicles 9

The resettlers of Jerusalem

Summary:
After the exile, the first to come back to Jerusalem were generally Levites and priests. But also some other Israelites. There were Judahites (around 690), Benjamites (956), the priests (1760), Levites, gatekeepers and guards (212) who guarded the edges of the temple. The gatekeepers were descendants of those who David and Samuel had chosen. They also took care of and counted the temple's items.

Saul's line went - Jeiel, Ner, Kish, Saul. Then Jonathan and others.

Key verse:
13. They were able men, responsible for ministering in the house of God.

My thoughts:
So Chronicles is obviously written significantly after the restoration.

It's interesting here to get a glimpse of how small the initial new community was in Jerusalem. It really was a remnant.

Friday, October 28, 2005

1 Chronicles 8

The Benjamites

Summary:
There were a lot of descendants, and a lot of them lived in Jerusalem, and Saul and Jonathan were among them.

This guy Ulam had pretty brave archers for sons.

Key verse:
33. Ner was the father of Kish, Kish the father of Saul, and Saul the father of Jonathan

My thoughts:
The narrative of Chronicles begins briefly with Saul, so it is not surprising that his genealogy is being told here as we are beginning to get to the end of the genealogies.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

1 Chronicles 7

The others

Summary:
Issachar, Benjamin, Naphtali, the rest of Manasseh, Ephraim and Asher had a bunch of descendants, but generally less than the other tribes.

Joshua son of Nun was from Ephraim. Ephraim lost his two firstborn to original Gathites, and so had another son. They lived in and around Shechem and Bethel.

Key verse:
40. All these were descendants of Asher—heads of families, choice men, brave warriors and outstanding leaders.

My thoughts:
Father Abraham had many sons!!!! Many sons had Father Abraham!!!! I am one of them and so are you!!!! So let's all praise the Lord!!!! Right arm! Left arm! Right leg! Left leg! Nod yer head! Poke out yer tongue! Shake yer bum! Turn around! Sit down!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

1 Chronicles 6

The Levites and the priestly line

Summary:
The priests were the descendants of Levi. Aaron was the first high priest, followed by Eleazar and Phinehas, his son and grandson. Also in the line were Azariah (during the construction of Solomons temple), Amariah, Zadok, Hilkiah, and Jehozadak, who was taken to Babylon.

Levi had three direct sons, who were the clans of Levi - Merari, Gershon, and Kohath. Samuel was a Levite of Kohath. The musicians came from Kohath, inclusing Heman, and Asaph, to whom many Psalms are attributed.

The Levites did the work of the temple and tabernacle. They did not receive one inheritance in the land, but had many random towns, split between the clans.

Key verse:
49. Aaron and his descendants were the ones who presented offerings on the altar of burnt offering and on the altar of incense in connection with all that was done in the Most Holy Place, making atonement for Israel

My thoughts:
I think this is the longest chapter yet. 80 verses.

Anywho.

Yea, the Levites. They're pretty special. The priestly line is really quite special, and it follows directly from Aaron, and exists for centuries before the royal line exists. It is Israel's oldest institution. The Qumran community (from which we have the Dead Sea Scrolls) believed in two Messiah's, a royal Messiah in the line of David and a priestly Messiah in the line of Aaron (or Zadok even). You can see here a twofold view of Israel, a king and the priest. I believe Jesus is both king and priest. By Jesus' time, the high priest was much more significant to Judaism than the king, as the king was Roman appointed. Some of those who considered themselves priestly called themselves 'sons of Zadok' referring to the true line from Aaron.

I think studying the relationship between king and priest in ancient Israel might cause some interesting thought on the traditional role of church and state in modern society.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

1 Chronicles 5

Reubenites, Gadites, and Manassehites

Summary:
Reuben lost the firstborn rights to Joseph because he defiled his father's bed. He had a son Carmi (possibly the father of Achar). They had land to the east, and waged war against the Hagrite in Saul's time.

The Gadites lived next to them in Bashan and Gilead, as did the Manassehites. They were great warriors, but they followed other gods, so God sent these two and a half tribes into exile in Assyria. Before that, however, these two and a half tribes took over the Hagrites thanks to God, and took their livestock.

Key verse:
17. All these were entered in the genealogical records during the reigns of Jotham king of Judah and Jeroboam king of Israel.

My thoughts:
More good information on records here - we get the times when the records were entered.

These two and a half tribes were obviously close. They were the ones east of the Jordan.

Monday, October 24, 2005

1 Chronicles 4

Some more records

Summary:
Judah had a lot of descendants and clans, including those of Othniel, who were craftsmen, and Jabez, who prayed for blessing, and received it from God. It also included spouses and children of the Pharoah, and potters.

Simeon had many sons, and they settled. They did not become as numerous as Judah. They took over the land of tha Hamites.

Key verse:
33. These were their settlements. And they kept a genealogical record.

My thoughts:
You might've heard of the book - "The Prayer of Jabez". This is based on the character in this text called Jabez, who prayed for blessing, and received it. The whole book (I am told) is based on praying like Jabez did. I dunno. I'd rather pray like Jesus did. People are so focussed on what they can get out of stuff. Sometimes we have to remember that we are trying to find a very narrow road.

The most interesting part of this chapter is the explicit references to sources. Sometimes we see ancient writers as a bit stupid and arbitary in their information, however, in reality, they did use many generally reliable earlier sources and did the true work of a historian. Luke (the gospel-writer) is a good example of this.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

1 Chronicles 3

David's sons

Summary:
David's firstborn was Amnon, and he also had Absalom (with Maacah), Adonijah, Nathan and Solomon (of Bathsheba). He had a daughter, Tamar.

From Solomon, David's descendants followed along through the kings of Judah. In exile, Jehoiachin was the grandfather of Zerubbabel, and his lineage is traced for another six generations.

Key verse:
4. These six were born to David in Hebron, where he reigned seven years and six months. David reigned in Jerusalem thirty-three years

My thoughts:
I don't know if this is the same Zerubbabel who rebuilt the temple.

This lineage shows a Jewish desire to keep David's line, and set up a king from his descendants. That is why they are recording his lineage. This is obviously significant for Jesus' claim to be a son of David.

Given records exist for some generations after the restoration and return from exile, Chronicles was probably written well into the second temple period. So it was probably written after Kings, and drew from Kings. However it is not impossible that these lists here are later additions thanks to later knowledge of the genealogy.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

1 Chronicles 2

The royal line

Summary:
Just some key names.

The sons of Israel (Jacob) were Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Joseph, Benjamin, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher.

The royal line goes: Judah (who's son Er, God put to death, so Judah's daughter-in-law, Tamar became Judah's wife), Perez, Hezron, Ram, Amminadab, Nahshon, Salmon, Boaz, Obed, Jesse, and then David. David's oldest brother was called Eliab, and his sister was Abigail.

Achar, son of Carmi was the one who brought idols into the desert.

Caleb was a son of Hezron, who was the ancestor of Jair, who controlled many cities. Caleb fathered many cities, and a great grandson Hebron. Hezron had another significant son, Jerahmeel.

Key verse:
7. Achar, who brought trouble on Israel by violating the ban on taking devoted things

My thoughts:
There are a few common names here which can make it a bit confusing.

With Chronicle's focus on Judah, and Judah significance for keeping lineage from David (cf. Israel), it is not surprising that Chronicles makes a clear account of the lineage of David.

Friday, October 21, 2005

1 Chronicles 1

Adam to Jacob, and Esau's sons

Summary:
The lineage from Adam to Jacob goes Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah, Shem, Arphaxad, Shelah, Eber, Peleg, Reu, Serug, Nahor, Terah, Abram, Isaac, and Jacob.

Noah had three sons, Shem, Japheth (Gomer, Magog, Tarshish), Ham (Cush, Sheba, Canaan
all the Canaanites, Nimrod - a mighty warrior, the Philistines)

Ishmael was Abraham's other son. Midian and Medan were of Abraham through Keturah.

Esau (Edom) was Isaac's other son, father of Amalek. Edom had many kings before Israel did, starting with Bela, with Hadad, who defeated Moab, and also Hadad II. They also had chiefs.

Key verse:
19 .Two sons were born to Eber:One was named Peleg, because in his time the earth was divided

My thoughts:
We're into the genealogies. This goes for about eight chapters. Fun fun fun!!! I've tried to highlight some key names that it might be good to recognise. The Key verse is a bit weak, but it's just some random info about Peleg, a ancestor of Abraham. The point of these genealogies is simply a record of history and they are also important for the Jewish people because so much of who they are is tied to who they have come from.

I find the structure of the text to be bizarre. There is no introduction, and it just jumps into a list of names. It really comes across as just a list, with the title lost.

The best thing to do when reading genealogies is just to see how many names and peoples you recognise. If you've been reading the Bible with me so far, you should recognise more than you might expect. It is a bit of a hall of fame.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

2 Kings 25

Jerusalem sacked

Summary:
So Nebuchadnezzar laid seige to Jerusalem. It lasted over a year, but eventually, the soldiers of Jerusalem tried to flee, and Nebuchadnezzar womped them. Zedekiah was captured, his sons were killed before him, and his eyes were gouged out, and he was taken to Babylon.

Jerusalem was destroyed and all the people taken to Babylon, except the poorest who were left to work the land. He appointed a man Gedaliah over those who remained, but he was assassinated along with the Judaeans he was over. Then everyone left fled off to Egypt.

Years later, Jehoiachin was released, and was given an allowance and a seat at the king's table.

Key verse:
21. So Judah went into captivity, away from her land.

My thoughts:
So this is it. The first temple period of God's people is over, and we enter a truly defining phase for the Jewish people in Babylon. It could be said that their identity did not become cemented until their exile. This is the end of any real autonomy for a Jewish state until 1948. That's about two-and-a-half millenia.

So God's people are captives again, and they have lost the promised land after centuries of dwelling there.

And now, we get to go through all the history again in the form of 1 and 2 Chronicles. Yay!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

2 Kings 24

The last kings

Summary:
Jehoiakim became a vassal of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon for three years, then rebelled, and had to put up with raids from everyone. God had begun destroying Judah because of Manasseh. Nebuchadnezzar had taken Egypt.

Jehoiakim was succeeded by Jehoiachin. He reigned for three months. Nebuchadnezzar laid seige to Jerusalem, and took most of the people and riches away to Babylon including Jehoiachin. He set up Zedekiah as king in his place. Zedekiah reigned for eleven years, and rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar.

Key verse:
20. It was because of the Lord's anger that all this happened to Jerusalem and Judah, and in the end he thrust them from his presence.

My thoughts:
There's not long to go now. Israel has been gone for a century, and now Judah is following suit. We have a new character - Babylon, who become a significant symbol in Judaism and later in Christianity well after their time enslaved in Babylon.

And autonomy of Judah is now a myth. They are controlled by Babylon. Jerusalem has not yet been sacked, and there are still some Jews at Jerusalem, but that will all come soon enough.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

2 Kings 23

The covenant renewed

Summary:
Josiah called together everyone at the temple, and read the book of the covenant to them and renewed the covenant. They got rid of all the other forms of worship and worship of other gods. Like all of them. Seriously. Systematically. In Bethel. In Israel. All of them. He desecrated some altars with bones from tombs, but he spared the bones of the man of God who had prophesied against Bethel's altars.

Then they celebrated the Passover for the first time since the Judges.

Josiah was awesome, but God still decided to destroy Judah for the previous grievances against him. Josiah died in battle.

His son, Jehoahaz succeeded him for three months. By now, Judah was pretty much in Egypts control, and Jehoahaz was locked up as his brother Jehoiakim succeeded him. Jehoiakim reigned for 11 years. They both did evil.

Key verse:
22. Not since the days of the judges who led Israel, nor throughout the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah, had any such Passover been observed.

My thoughts:
The sheer description of all the things Josiah got rid of give us a picture of how bad things had become. We find out here that the passover had not even been celebrated for hundreds of years. It is for reasons like this that I think that Israel and Judaism as we know it did not really start until the reigns of Hezekiah and Josiah just before the exile. It appears that their faith was clearer closer to the time in the desert, but since then, it had become basically irrelevant except for the national significance of the temple. It becomes clearer, therefore, as to why God wanted to start again.

Monday, October 17, 2005

2 Kings 22

The Book of the Law

Summary:
Josiah became king at age eight, and ruled for 31 years. He did good. He got someone to go make sure that the temple got repaired with the money received at the temple doors. However, the high priest had found the book of the law, and sent it to the king. His secretary read it to him. When he heard it, he tore his clothes and was gutted because Judah had not kept to the law.

Josiah found out from a prophetess that God was bringing disaster on Judah for disobeying the law, but that he would be spared from it, because he had humbled himself from it when he heard the law.

Key verse:
19. Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people..., I have heard you

My thoughts:
Some have theorised that the Torah was, in fact, written/compiled by the high priest (Hilkiah), or those near him, and that the Torah did not really exist until it is 'found' in this narrative. This is obviously not what the narrative is saying, and I think that that options is unlikely. There are many mentions of a written law before this.

In case anyone was in doubt of the whether God used women in the old testament, we have here another practically unknown example of a godly prophetess.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

2 Kings 21

Manasseh and Amon

Summary:
Manasseh was evil and reigned for 55 years. He rebuilt many altars and poles to other gods. He worshipped Baal, and the stars. He even set up other altars in the temple, and shed much innocent blood. Because of him, God promised disaster on Jerusalem. Amon, his son, succeeded him.

Amon ruled for two years. He was assassinated in a conspiracy, and his son, Josiah, was set up as king.

Key verse:
13. I will wipe out Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down.

My thoughts:
I think I said before that Uzziah had the longest reign, but I was wrong. It seems Manasseh has the longest reign. But he's evil, so no-one likes him.

I just looked back, and I didn't say he had the longest reign, so I wasn't wrong.

So following such a excellent king like Hezekiah, we have about sixty years of evil rulers, however they are to be followed by someone of the same mold as Hezekiah - Josiah.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

2 Kings 20

Hezekiah's illness

Summary:
Hezekiah became ill, and Isaiah said that he would die. But Hezekiah prayed, and reminded God of how devoted he had been. So God told Isaiah to tell Hezekiah that God would add fifteen years to his life, and deliver his city from the Assyrians.

Hezekiah asked for a sign, so Isaiah asked Hezekiah whether he wanted the shadow on the steps to go forward ten steps, or backwards ten steps. Hezekiah said back, and so the shadow moved ten steps the wrong way.

Some messengers from Babylon came and Hezekiah showed them all his riches. Later, Isaiah told him that those same riches would be taken away to Babylon.

Hezekiah also made an aqueduct, and was succeeded by his son, Manasseh.

Key verse:
5. I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you.

My thoughts:
Sometimes the faith of these old testament prophets amazes me. Isaiah had guts to expect God to move the sun in order to fulfil Hezekiah's sign.

So Hezekiah got an extra 15 years. He deserves it. He's a good man.

Friday, October 14, 2005

2 Kings 19

God turns up

Summary:
Hezekiah was pretty freaked, and he sent a message to Isaiah, asking him to pray for the remnant who might survive Assyria's onslaught. But instead, Isaiah promised victory.

When the Assyrians found that the Cushites were coming to attack them, they sent another threatening message to Hezekiah, saying that no other gods had stopped Assyria. Hezekiah went to the temple and prayed to God, saying that what the Assyrians said was true, but that the gods of other nations were of wood and clay, and that Judah's God was God alone.

Hezekiah then received a message from Isaiah. It was prophecy against the Assyrian king, saying that he was against God and his city. Assyria's success was of God's ordination, but Judah will bear fruit and survive. God will defend Jerusalem.'

In the morning, God had killed most of the Assyrian army - they woke up to dead bodies. The Assyrian king was killed by his sons.

Key verse:
25. Have you not heard?
Long ago I ordained it.
In days of old I planned it;
now I have brought it to pass,
that you have turned fortified cities
into piles of stone.

My thoughts:
Here we are introduced to Isaiah - a very significant prophet. He is one of the few prophets whom we have a prophetic book from, as well as existing in the historical narrative. Isaiah is confident in God's power of all things, including Assyria.

I find the key verse for today very interesting. It shows the total control of God. Everything that happens - good or bad - is ultimately ordained by God for his purposes. Often in the present it is difficult to see God's purposes. That is why we must trust him and have faith.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

2 Kings 18

All Hail King Hezekiah!

Summary:
Hezekiah became king of Judah, and reigned for 29 years. He was better than all kings of Judah before or after him. He removed the high places. He did not serve Assyria, and he defeated the Philistines.

Assyria took some of the cities of Judah, and Hezekiah had to pay to get them back. When Assyria came against Jerusalem, they sent a message to Hezekiah, asking on who they depended. They mocked him for depending on Egypt, and for depending on God, 'whose high places Hezekiah removed'. The Assyrians offered Hezekiah a deal, but Hezekiah's men asked them to speak in Aramaic, not Hebrew, so that the people of Jerusalem wouldn't be able to understand.

But the Assyrian commander present then called out to the people in Jerusalem in Hebrew, telling them not to trust Hezekiah when he says that God would protect Jerusalem. He said that no other gods had protected their cities against the Assyrians. He urged them to hand themselves over peacefully. But the people were silent, just as they were asked to be.

Key verse:
32. Do not listen to Hezekiah, for he is misleading you when he says, 'The Lord will deliver us.'

My thoughts:
We can see the Assyrian misconception of how God is worshipped. Their misunderstanding is not surprising, seeing as a large amount of Judah seemed to be under the same misunderstanding. This was that God could be worshipped through sacrifices anywhere. At this stage, he can only be worshipped in the temple. When the people of Judah went to their high places, they often still thought they were worshipping God, not other gods, they were just worshipping him in an inapproriate way. This is why the Assyrians think God is against Hezekiah, because Hezekiah took down 'God's' high places.

The Assyrians, however, seem to be the first people group to treat Judah/Israel's God somewhat politically. Like the Roman Empire, the Assyrian Empire seems happy to entertain local cults.

We also get an insight into Jewish language at this stage. We know that by Jesus' time, most Jews spoke either Greek (thanks to Alexander and Hellenisation), or if they were particularly Hebraic and rebellious against Hellenism, they would speak Aramaic. Hebrew was not widely spoken, but was more an academic language for the study of scripture. However at this stage in the narrative of Kings, we see that the Jewish people could not understand Aramaic, but could, however, understand Hebrew.

Oh, and let's not forget the introduction of mighty king Hezekiah. He is a great king, who is dependent on God. The continuation of preserved Jewish spirituality throughout the exile is largely thanks to kings Hezekiah and Josiah, who firmly reestablished the tenets of the Jewish cult after a long first temple period of decay and confusion.

Hezekiah is in a bit of a pickle at the moment, with Assyria at his gates, but we will see that Hezekiah's faith is not in vain.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

2 Kings 17

Israel's downfall

Summary:
Hoshea was the last king of Israel. He reigned for 9 years, and was somewhat evil. When the king of Assyrian found out that Hoshea had stopped paying tribute to him, he attacked Israel. Within three years he had taken Samaria.

All of Israel were taken into exile in Assyria. The were destroyed because they had worshipped idols and other gods and had practiced divination for many years, against God's will. Only Judah remained, and even they committed many sins against God.

Foreigners came and lived in many people groups in Samaria and Israel. God killed many of them with lions, so they sent back and Israelite priest to teach them about God. So they worshipped God, and all their own gods, despite God demanding worship of himself alone.

Key verse:
15. They imitated the nations around them although the Lord had ordered them, "Do not do as they do," and they did the things the Lord had forbidden them to do.

My thoughts:
More than any other part of the text, we get a glimpse of the heart of the author in this chapter. This narrative goes all the way back - hundreds of years - back to the beginning of 1 Samuel. And here we see the author finally talking about some things around his own time. He speaks of the foreigners living in Samaria 'to this day', and you sense the human (yet inspired) interpretation of the cause of Israel's downfall.

The cause is simply. Israel did not keep up their part of the covenant, so God rejected his part.

Israel pretty much ceases now, unlike Judah, which returns and establishes a Judaistic lifestyle around the temple. Those living in Samaria by Jesus' time are seen as Gentiles or half-caste. Those know as Jews today would all, ultimately, be children of Judah.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

2 Kings 16

Evil King Ahaz

Summary:
Ahaz son of Jotham reigned for sixteen years, and went against God. He even sacrificed his own son.

Israel and Aram attacked him together with limited success, so Ahaz paid Assyria to help him. Ahaz went up to Damascus, which Assyrian had just taken over, and saw an altar there which he liked. He made sacrifices there, and also had one made for himself in Jerusalem near the temple. He took away many of the temple's sacred items.

His son, Hezekiah, succeeded him.

Key verse:
2. Unlike David his father, he did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord his God.

My thoughts:
Ahaz is strange amongst Judah's kings in that he is against the worship of God. He actively pursued other forms of worship.

It is somewhat ironic, then, that Hezekiah, one of the greatest kings of Judah/Israel, should come from Ahaz, who was so evil. It's almost as if Hezekiah is rebelling against the evil of his dad.

Monday, October 10, 2005

2 Kings 15

Seven kings

Summary:
Azariah (also called Uzziah) did good, but didn't remove the high places. He reigned 52 years in Judah, and had leprosy. He was succeeded by his son, Jotham.

Zechariah reigned in Israel for six months and did evil. He was taken over by a conspiracy of Shallum. He was the fourth in Jehu's dynasty, and the last.

Shallum reigned for a month, and did evil. During his reign, Menahem started attacking cities, and assassinated Shallum.

Menahem ruled for ten years and did evil. He had to pay the Assyrian's not to attack. His son Pekahiah succeeded him.

Pekahiah ruled for two years, and did evil. He was taken down by a conspiracy from Pekah

Pekah reigned for 20 years, and did evil. He lost land to the Assyrians, and taken taken over by Hoshea.

Jotham, son of Azariah, reigned for 16 years. He did good, and was succeeded by Ahaz.

Key verse:
12. So the word of the Lord spoken to Jehu was fulfilled: "Your descendants will sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation."

My thoughts:
The most obvious aspect of this chapter is the brevity and evil nature of the reigns of the kings of Israel in comparison to those of Judah. Uzziah (Azariah) reigns for a ridiculously long amount of time (not as long as Queen Elizabeth II though!)

Sunday, October 09, 2005

2 Kings 14

King Amaziah and Jeroboam II

Summary:
Amaziah succeeded his fath Joash as king of Judah. He was pretty good and reigned for 29 years. He defeated many Edomites, and then sent a message to Jehoash of Israel for them to meet. Jehoash said no, but Amaziah didn't listen, so Jehoash attacked.

Jehoash won, and destroyed much of Jerusalem, and stole the gold from the temple.

Amaziah faced some opposition in Judah, and was killed in Lachish. They put his son, Azariah, in power at the age of 16.

Jeroboam II reigned for 41 years and did evil. He restored some of Israel's boundaries, right up to Damascus. His son, Zechariah, succeeded him.

Key verse:
27. And since the Lord had not said he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven, he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam son of Jehoash.

My thoughts:
This is probably one of the biggest Israel/Judah wars. We can see here that despite Judah's greater faithfulness to God, Israel is still able to defeat them. We cannot expect true justice on this side of eternity.

Israel, at this stage is quite a large empire, with, presumably, quite a lot of power. I will not, however, last for too much longer.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

2 Kings 13

Elisha's bones

Summary:
Jehoahaz, son of Jehu became king in Samaria for 17 years. He did evil before God. During his reign, Israel was overpowered by Aram. When Jehoahaz called out to God, he delivered them from the Arameans, but Israel's army became tiny.

His son, Jehoash succeeded him, and he reigned for 16 years, and also did evil. His son Jeroboam II succeeded him.

Elisha was dying, and Jehoash came to him. Elisha got him to fire an arrow out of the window, to symbolise the victory over Aram. He told Jehoash to strike the ground with the arrows. He struck the ground three times, which symbolised three victories over Aram - not enough to rid Israel from Aram completely. Elisha died and was buried. Later, someone accidentally threw a dead body into Elisha's tomb, and that body came to live again.

Ben-Hadad succeeded Hazael, king of Aram, and Jehoash beat him three times, regaining Israel's towns.

Key verse:
21. When the body touched Elisha's bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet.

My thoughts:
With the death of Elisha, there is not much more to happen in Israel (as opposed to Judah), as far as God is concerned, until it's destruction later.

The power God placed on Elisha is shown in this great miracle of bringing back from the dead.

Friday, October 07, 2005

2 Kings 12

Joash repairs the temple

Summary:
Joash ruled for forty years at the same time as Jehu. He got together all the money he could, and told his priests to repair the temple. After twenty-three years, they had not done so, so he told them again. This time they paid hired workers to do it, and the temple was repaired. Joash, however, had to give the golden items to Hazael, king of Aram to avoid being conquered. Joash's son, Amaziah, succeeded him.

Key verse:
15. They did not require an accounting from those to whom they gave the money to pay the workers, because they acted with complete honesty.

My thoughts:
Joash was a good king, but he didn't seem to do a lot other than repair the temple.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

2 Kings 11

Judah's female ruler

Summary:
Ahaziah's mother, Athaliah, began to kill the entire royal family, but Jehosheba, King Joram's daughter, hid away a child Joash from Athaliah. Joash hid for six years, being nursed at the temple.

In the seventh yearm the high priest, Jehoiada, got soldiers together, and show them Joash. The soldiers then guarded the temple as Jehoiada proclaimed Joash as king, and gave him a copy of the covenant. When Athaliah heard of this, she came to the temple, and tore her clothes. He was killed in the palace grounds. Jehoiada re-established the covenant, and Joash became king at the age of seven.

Key verse:
17. Jehoiada then made a covenant between the Lord and the king and people that they would be the Lord's people.

My thoughts:
Athaliah is the only female ruler of all Judah and Israel. She is a queen, but she is not called it. This section of the text, however, means very little for women's rights, seeing as Athaliah is evil.

Judah still has lineage going back to David, and that is very important. Athaliah is a break from that, but the return of Joash is very significant. It's like when Aragorn becomes king in LotR - he is the rightful heir, and things are as they should be.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

2 Kings 10

Jehu goes on more of a rampage

Summary:
Jehu sent a letter the guardians of Ahab's descendants in Samaria, and told them to set up a king for Jehu to fight, however, they were afraid, and instead complied then with Jehu's second offer. They killed Ahab's seventy sons, and sent the heads off to Jezreel, where Jehu was. Jehu also killed those of Ahab's house who were in Jezreel.

On the way to Samaria, Jehu killed some relatives of Ahaziah. He got a new chariot companion called Jehonadab, and went to Samaria, where he continued to wipe out Ahab's house.

In Samaria, Jehu declared that he was Baal's greatest worshipper, and got all the prophets of Baal together in Baal's temple for a sacrifice. After the sacrfice, Jehu made sure there were none of God's prophet's inside, and he locked the doors, and have them all punished, and the temple destroyed. The ruins were used as a toilet.

God promised that Jehu's dynasty would last four generations, however Jehu did not stop the calf worship, and still sinned against God. He reigned 28 years, and his son, Jehoahaz, succeeded him.

Israel's borders began to decrease.

Key verse:
10. Know then, that not a word the Lord has spoken against the house of Ahab will fail. The Lord has done what he promised through his servant Elijah.

My thoughts:
The point of these rampages is the eradication of those from the establishment which allowed Israel to become a Baal-worshipping nation, and the destruction of the prophets. Jehu's acts now allowed God to be God of Israel, even if Israel only accepted this by name.

I have already stated my sympathy towards Ahab, and you will notice how I have separated Jehu's acts from the person of Ahab. The text does seems to show the focus of the sin on Ahab, however, I think it is better focussed on Jezebel.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

2 Kings 9

Jehu takes over

Summary:
God told Elisha to go and quickly anoint Jehu as king over Israel at Ramoth Gilead. He did this, telling him that he would destory Ahab's family and Jezebel. When he told his friends, they proclaimed him as king.


Jehu went to Jezreel where Ahaziah, king of Judah, and Joram, king of Israel, were recovering from fighting the Arameans. When they saw Jehu approaching they sent out two messengers to see if he came in peace, but instead, Jehu enlisted them to his cause. Ahaziah and Joram came to meet Jehu, and Jehu said that he did not come in peace because of the immorality of them. He shot Joram in the back, and threw his body into Nabaoth's plot of land. Ahaziah escaped with an injury, but died later, and he was buried.

Jehu then went to Jezebel, who had put on her make-up. Jezebel was in a tower up a window, and Jehu told Jezebel's servants to throw her off. She died and was trampled by horses. After a meal, Jehu told the servants to bury her, but they could only find her hands and skull, because the dogs had eaten the rest.

Key verse:
22. "How can there be peace," Jehu replied, "as long as all the idolatry and witchcraft of your mother Jezebel abound?"

My thoughts:
In keeping with the current focus on Israel, rather than Judah, Jehu is a king of Israel. For once it is Israel bringing Judah (and Israel) to justice, rather than the other way around. Jehu is pretty much the only 'good' king of Israel (as opposed to Judah), but even then, he is too violent to be really that good. But he does exact justice on how bad things had come since Ahab's reign.

Monday, October 03, 2005

2 Kings 8

Hazael's rise to power

Summary:
Elisha told the woman, whose son's life he had restored, to go away from Israel for seven years, because there was to be a famine. When she returned after seven years, she and her son went to the king to beg for her land back. Just as they got to the king, Gehazi, Elisha's servant, had been telling the king about how Elisha had raised a woman's son from death. When the king realised that that woman had entered his palace, he gave her her land back and gave her an income.

The king of Aram was ill, and sent his servant to Elisha to hear his fate. Elisha told the servant, Hazael, to tell the king that he would recover, even though he would actually die. After a staring match, Elisha wept because he knew Hazael would become king of Aram and harm Israel. Hazael went home and murdered the king of Aram, and became king.

During Joram's reign, Jehoram, son of Jehoshaphat, became king of Judah. He reigned eight years, and was evil. Edom rose up around him. His son Ahaziah succeeded him, and reigned for one year. His mother was Athaliah. He did evil, and he and Joram were at war with Hazael of Aram. Joram became wounded in one of the battles.

Key verse:
11. He stared at him with a fixed gaze until Hazael felt ashamed. Then the man of God began to weep.

My thoughts:
This is a bizarre and interesting interchange between Elisha and Hazael. Everything appears to indicate that Elisha simply stood and stared Hazael down. He didn't do anything, but he became convicted. It was not Elisha who convicted him, it was himself or God. He knew what he was about to do, and Elisha was silently judging him. Sometimes silent judgements are the worst.

However, all of this conviction did not stop Hazael from murdering Ben-Hadad. Sometimes we are so set in our ways that no amount of conviction will stop us.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

2 Kings 7

The seige lifted

Summary:
Elisha told the king that food would be bought cheaply the next day, but that the king's officer would not get any because of his doubt.

Four lepers went to the Aramean camp seeking mercy, only to find that they had fled, because God had caused them to hear great armies of chariots. After some looting, they felt they should tell the people of Samaria.

When the king heard this, he was suspicious, and so he sent horsemen to see if the Arameans were hiding. But they only found the clothes and items the Arameans had shed in their flight.

And so food was sold cheaply, but the king's officer was trampled to death when he opened Samaria's gates, and so he did not get any of the food.

Key verse:
2. "You will see it with your own eyes," answered Elisha, "but you will not eat any of it!"

My thoughts:
A story like this teaches me just how much God is in control. God had complete power over the Arameans, and he had complete power over the king's official. I makes me wonder why we get so worried all the time.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

2 Kings 6

Elisha's army

Summary:
The prophets made a place for themselves to live by the Jordan with Elisha's blessing. One man dropped a borrowed axhead into the Jordan, but Elisha threw a stick where it sank, and the axhead floated, and they retrieved it.

Later, God told Elisha where the Arameans had camped, and Elisha warned the king of Israel. The king of Aram heard that Elisha could know everything said in secret, so he sent an army to go kill him in Dothan. When they came close, Elisha's servant was understandably concerned. But Elisha said "Don't be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them." Then the servants eyes were opened, and he saw the armies of heaven on Elisha's side, with horses and chariots of fire. Elisha then struck them all with blindness, and led them into the centre of Samaria, saying that that was where the man whom they were seeking was.

So they were delivered into the hands of Israel's king, who fed them and sent them away at Elisha's advice, and Aram stopped their raids.

Later, Ben-Hadad, king of Aram, beseiged Samaria. There was such a shortage of food, that the people had began eating their children to survive. The king of Israel heard of this and tore his clothes, and sought Elisha, to kill him, because his God had caused the famine. Elisha knew that his head was being sought, and the king asked Elisha why he should wait for God any longer.

Key verse:
12. Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.

My thoughts:
The fact that Israel ate their own to survive is a fulfilment of a prophecy in thre Torah.

You get a real sense of the spiritual power surrounding Elisha in this narrative. God hears even the most secret things, and tell Elisha, and Israel's enemies are afraid. He is confronted with armies of flesh in blood, but he has the faith to know that those things are nothing to fear compared to God's great legions. It is an amazing thing when the spiritual becomes so tangible in a person's life. Elisha's wonders put Elijah's wonders to shame.