Study Guide

2 Chronicles What's Up With the Ending?

What's Up With the Ending?

2 Chronicles ends with a quick description of the destruction in Jerusalem, mentions the Babylonian exile, and then moves on to give us this nice rosy little wrap-up:

In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, in fulfillment of the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord stirred up the spirit of King Cyrus of Persia so that he sent a herald throughout all his kingdom and also declared in a written edict: "Thus says King Cyrus of Persia: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the Lord his God be with him! Let him go up." (36:22-23)

It's pretty significant that the Chronicler yadda-yaddas the Babylonian period in Jewish history. The people don't want to relive the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and 70 years in exile. They've learned their lesson and they're ready to move forward. The author cites Jeremiah's prophecy that the exiles would be gathered up and returned to Judah. As far as the historical accuracy of this final passage, it's up for debate. Even though many authors in the Bible praise Cyrus for ending the exile in Babylon, there's no evidence outside of Jewish writings that he actually did this with one sweeping edict. And it's also surprising that a non-Jewish king would credit Yahweh for his victories or want to build a house for him. The Persian Empire was pretty tolerant of different religions and Cyrus himself might have asked for help from all kinds of different gods, but he definitely wasn't the worshipper of Yahweh that this passage makes him out to be. In his own records, Cyrus credits the god Marduk for his success.

One last thing about this ending: if you read ahead (or behind, in the Hebrew Bible order of books), you might notice that this last passage in 2 Chronicles looks pretty familiar. It's identical to the very first verses in the Book of Ezra, which tells all about the return to Judah and the rebuilding of the Temple. More on that in our "Theological Point of View" section.