When all Israel saw that [King Rehoboam] would not listen to them, the people answered the king, "What share do we have in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. Each of you to your tents, O Israel! Look now to your own house, O David." So all Israel departed to their tents. But Rehoboam reigned over the people of Israel who were living in the cities of Judah. When King Rehoboam sent Hadoram, who was taskmaster over the forced labor, the people of Israel stoned him to death. King Rehoboam hurriedly mounted his chariot to flee to Jerusalem. So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day. (2 Chronicles 10:16-19, NRSV)
When all Israel saw that [King Rehoboam] would not hearken unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? and we have none inheritance in the son of Jesse: every man to your tents, O Israel: and Now David, see to thine own house. So all Israel went to their tents. But as for the children of Israel that dwelt in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them. Then king Rehoboam sent Hadoram that was over the tribute; and the children of Israel stoned him with stones, that he died. But king Rehoboam made speed to get him up to his chariot, to flee to Jerusalem. And Israel rebelled against the house of David unto this day. (2 Chronicles 10:16-19, KJV)
The northern tribes may have resented the favor shown to the tribe of David—they don't get no respect. Is secession really such a bad idea under these circumstances, especially when Rehoboam is working and taxing them to death? Poor Hadaram; nobody loves the tax man.
When Rehoboam came to Jerusalem, he assembled one hundred eighty thousand chosen troops of the house of Judah and Benjamin to fight against Israel, to restore the kingdom to Rehoboam. But the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah the man of God: Say to King Rehoboam of Judah, son of Solomon, and to all Israel in Judah and Benjamin, "Thus says the Lord: You shall not go up or fight against your kindred. Let everyone return home, for this thing is from me." So they heeded the word of the Lord and turned back from the expedition against Jeroboam. (2 Chronicles 11:1-4, NRSV)
When Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he gathered of the house of Judah and Benjamin an hundred and fourscore thousand chosen men, which were warriors, to fight against Israel, that he might bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam. But the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah the man of God, saying, Speak unto Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all Israel in Judah and Benjamin, saying, Thus saith the Lord, Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren: return every man to his house: for this thing is done of me. And they obeyed the words of the Lord, and returned from going against Jeroboam. (2 Chronicles 11:1-4, KJV)
This passage is the Chronicler's way of telling us that the division of the kingdom was God's plan all along. This is one of those rare instances when someone actually listened to a prophet.
There was war between Abijah and Jeroboam. Abijah engaged in battle, having an army of valiant warriors, four hundred thousand picked men; and Jeroboam drew up his line of battle against him with eight hundred thousand picked mighty warriors [… Abjiah] said, "Listen to me, Jeroboam and all Israel! Do you not know that the Lord God of Israel gave the kingship over Israel forever to David and his sons by a covenant of salt? […] See, God is with us at our head […] O Israelites, do not fight against the Lord, the God of your ancestors; for you cannot succeed." […] The Israelites fled before Judah, and God gave them into their hands. Abijah and his army defeated them with great slaughter; five hundred thousand picked men of Israel fell slain. Thus the Israelites were subdued at that time, and the people of Judah prevailed, because they relied on the Lord, the God of their ancestors. (2 Chronicles 13:2-5, 12, 16-18, NRSV)
There was war between Abijah and Jeroboam. And Abijah set the battle in array with an army of valiant men of war, even four hundred thousand chosen men: Jeroboam also set the battle in array against him with eight hundred thousand chosen men [… Abjiah] said, Hear me, thou Jeroboam, and all Israel; Ought ye not to know that the Lord God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David for ever, even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt? […] Behold, God himself is with us for our captain […] O children of Israel, fight ye not against the Lord God of your fathers; for ye shall not prosper […] The children of Israel fled before Judah: and God delivered them into their hand. And Abijah and his people slew them with a great slaughter: so there fell down slain of Israel five hundred thousand chosen men. Thus the children of Israel were brought under at that time, and the children of Judah prevailed, because they relied upon the Lord God of their fathers. (2 Chronicles 13:1-5, 12, 16-18, KJV)
We guess God reversed his "you shall not go up or fight against your kindred" stance from two chapters ago. Now it's pretty clear he sides with Judah. After all, they've got the House of David and the Temple in their territory.
Jehoshaphat had great riches and honor; and he made a marriage alliance with Ahab. After some years he went down to Ahab in Samaria. Ahab slaughtered an abundance of sheep and oxen for him and for the people who were with him, and induced him to go up against Ramoth-gilead. King Ahab of Israel said to King Jehoshaphat of Judah, "Will you go with me to Ramoth-gilead?" He answered him, "I am with you, my people are your people. We will be with you in the war." (2 Chronicles 18:1-3, NRSV)
Jehoshaphat had riches and honour in abundance, and joined affinity with Ahab. And after certain years he went down to Ahab to Samaria. And Ahab killed sheep and oxen for him in abundance, and for the people that he had with him, and persuaded him to go up with him to Ramothgilead. And Ahab king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat king of Judah, Wilt thou go with me to Ramothgilead? And he answered him, I am as thou art, and my people as thy people; and we will be with thee in the war. (2 Chronicles 18:1-3, KJV)
Israel and Judah are finally getting along. They're allies. Their kids have even gotten married. It's all good, right?
Jehu son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him and said to King Jehoshaphat, "Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? Because of this, wrath has gone out against you from the Lord." (2 Chronicles 19:2, NRSV)
Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord. (2 Chronicles 19:2, KJV)
It's not all good. Rehoboam's alliance with Ahab is trumped by God's nixing of the arrangement. God's angry at Rehoboam for forgiving the wickedness of the Northern Kingdom and letting the need for military alliances make him turn a blind eye to all the idolatry up north. But he's not punished this time because of the effort he makes to rid Judah of idolatry. We see God's compassion in the midst of all this punishment.
After this King Jehoshaphat of Judah joined with King Ahaziah of Israel, who did wickedly. He joined him in building ships to go to Tarshish; they built the ships in Ezion-geber. Then Eliezer son of Dodavahu of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, "Because you have joined with Ahaziah, the Lord will destroy what you have made." And the ships were wrecked and were not able to go to Tarshish. (2 Chronicles 20:35-37, NRSV)
After this did Jehoshaphat king of Judah join himself with Ahaziah king of Israel, who did very wickedly: And he joined himself with him to make ships to go to Tarshish: and they made the ships in Eziongaber. Then Eliezer the son of Dodavah of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, Because thou hast joined thyself with Ahaziah, the Lord hath broken thy works. And the ships were broken, that they were not able to go to Tarshish. (2 Chronicles 20:35-37, KJV)
Jehoshaphat isn't learning from experience. He repeats the ill-fated alliance with the Kingdom of Israel. This time God can't let it slide without consequences.
A letter came to him from the prophet Elijah, saying: "Thus says the Lord, the God of your father David: Because you have not walked in the ways of your father Jehoshaphat or in the ways of King Asa of Judah, but have walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and have led Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem into unfaithfulness, as the house of Ahab led Israel into unfaithfulness […] the Lord will bring a great plague on your people, your children, your wives, and all your possessions." (2 Chronicles 21:12-14, NRSV)
There came a writing to him from Elijah the prophet, saying, Thus saith the Lord God of David thy father, Because thou hast not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat thy father, nor in the ways of Asa king of Judah, But hast walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and hast made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to go a whoring, like to the whoredoms of the house of Ahab […] with a great plague will the Lord smite thy people, and thy children, and thy wives, and all thy goods. (2 Chronicles 21:12-14, KJV)
King Jehoram started following the idolatrous practices of the northern kingdom, likely because he married another daughter of King Ahab of Israel. Marriages to foreign women even caused trouble for Solomon, although we don't hear too much about it in 1 Chronicles. The Israelite daughters were especially bad influences, apparently.
Ahaziah was forty-two years old when he began to reign; he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Athaliah, a granddaughter of Omri. He also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab, for his mother was his counselor in doing wickedly. He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, as the house of Ahab had done; for after the death of his father they were his counselors, to his ruin. He even followed their advice, and went with Jehoram son of King Ahab of Israel to make war against King Hazael of Aram at Ramoth-gilead. (2 Chronicles 22:2-5, NRSV)
Forty and two years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother's name also was Athaliah the daughter of Omri. He also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab: for his mother was his counselor to do wickedly. Wherefore he did evil in the sight of the Lord like the house of Ahab: for they were his counselors after the death of his father to his destruction. He walked also after their counsel, and went with Jehoram the son of Ahab king of Israel to war against Hazael king of Syria at Ramothgilead. (2 Chronicles 22:2-5, KJV)
Remember that marriage pact between Jehoshaphat and Ahab? Here's where it all goes wrong. Ahab's daughter grew up in Israel, so naturally, she's wicked to her core. Now she's in Judah influencing the kings there to turn away from God. Ahab is the poster child for idolatry; his whole family's tainted.
King Joash of Israel went up; he and King Amaziah of Judah faced one another in battle at Beth-shemesh, which belongs to Judah. Judah was defeated by Israel; everyone fled home. King Joash of Israel captured King Amaziah of Judah, son of Joash, son of Ahaziah, at Beth-shemesh; he brought him to Jerusalem, and broke down the wall of Jerusalem from the Ephraim Gate to the Corner Gate, a distance of four hundred cubits. He seized all the gold and silver, and all the vessels that were found in the house of God, and Obed-edom with them; he seized also the treasuries of the king's house, also hostages; then he returned to Samaria. (2 Chronicles 25:21-24, NRSV)
Joash the king of Israel went up; and they saw one another in the face, both he and Amaziah king of Judah, at Bethshemesh, which belongeth to Judah. And Judah was put to the worse before Israel, and they fled every man to his tent. And Joash the king of Israel took Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Joash, the son of Jehoahaz, at Bethshemesh, and brought him to Jerusalem, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem from the gate of Ephraim to the corner gate, four hundred cubits. And he took all the gold and the silver, and all the vessels that were found in the house of God with Obededom, and the treasures of the king's house, the hostages also and returned to Samaria. (2 Chronicles 25:21-24, KJV)
It's explained in an earlier verse that it was God's doing to have Joash defeat Amaziah because of Amaziah's decision to build altars to pagan gods. You have to wonder about the appeal of these other gods to kings who've been given their throne by Yahweh and still can't stay away from Baal and company. Better parties, maybe?
They decreed to make a proclamation throughout all Israel, from Beer-sheba to Dan, that the people should come and keep the passover to the Lord the God of Israel, at Jerusalem; for they had not kept it in great numbers as prescribed. So couriers went throughout all Israel and Judah with letters from the king and his officials, as the king had commanded, saying, "O people of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, so that he may turn again to the remnant of you who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria […] For as you return to the Lord, your kindred and your children will find compassion with their captors, and return to this land. For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him." So the couriers went from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, and as far as Zebulun; but they laughed them to scorn, and mocked them. Only a few from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem. The hand of God was also on Judah to give them one heart to do what the king and the officials commanded by the word of the Lord. (2 Chronicles 30:5-6, 9-12, NRSV)
So they established a decree to make proclamation throughout all Israel, from Beersheba even to Dan, that they should come to keep the passover unto the Lord God of Israel at Jerusalem: for they had not done it of a long time in such sort as it was written. So the posts went with the letters from the king and his princes throughout all Israel and Judah, and according to the commandment of the king, saying, Ye children of Israel, turn again unto the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and he will return to the remnant of you, that are escaped out of the hand of the kings of Assyria […] For if ye turn again unto the Lord, your brethren and your children shall find compassion before them that lead them captive, so that they shall come again into this land: for the Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if ye return unto him. So the posts passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh even unto Zebulun: but they laughed them to scorn, and mocked them. Nevertheless divers of Asher and Manasseh and of Zebulun humbled themselves, and came to Jerusalem. Also in Judah the hand of God was to give them one heart to do the commandment of the king and of the princes, by the word of the Lord. (2 Chronicles 30:5-6, 9-12, KJV)
This is how far gone the Northern tribes are. Even after being sacked by Assyria, they refuse Hezekiah's peace offering and a chance to get right with God by observing the passover in Judah. To be fair, though, we did hear that Hezekiah's wife's matzah-ball soup was pretty awful.
"Therefore, O Lord, God of Israel, keep for your servant, my father David, that which you promised him, saying, 'There shall never fail you a successor before me to sit on the throne of Israel, if only your children keep to their way, to walk in my law as you have walked before me.' Therefore, O Lord, God of Israel, let your word be confirmed, which you promised to your servant David." (2 Chronicles 6:16-17, NRSV)
Therefore, O Lord God of Israel, keep with thy servant David my father that which thou hast promised him, saying, There shall not fail thee a man in my sight to sit upon the throne of Israel; yet so that thy children take heed to their way to walk in my law, as thou hast walked before me. Now then, O Lord God of Israel, let thy word be verified, which thou hast spoken unto thy servant David. (2 Chronicles 6:16-17, KJV)
Solomon reminds God of his promise about a Davidic dynasty, but he knows that this promise is conditional on the people remaining faithful to the commandments. It's common in the Bible for people to remind God about various agreements he made, even to quote his own words back to him. Solomon's statement is part of a pretty dramatic moment: God had just descended into the Temple in a cloud and Solomon addresses him in front of the entire congregation of Israel. In this case, the reminder of the promise seems for the benefit of the people. Solomon's saying that if they want him and the rest of David's descendants to be blessed, they'd better follow the laws. Plus, Solomon is publicly affirming that, as David's son, he's the legitimate ruler. Just in case anyone forgot.
As for you, if you walk before me, as your father David walked, doing according to all that I have commanded you and keeping my statutes and my ordinances, then I will establish your royal throne, as I made covenant with your father David saying, "You shall never lack a successor to rule over Israel." (2 Chronicles 7:17-18, NRSV)
As for thee, if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, and do according to all that I have commanded thee, and shalt observe my statutes and my judgments; Then will I establish the throne of thy kingdom, according as I have covenanted with David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man to be ruler in Israel. (2 Chronicles 7:17-18, KJV)
God comes right back at Solomon. He promises to keep the throne in the family—one of David's descendants will always be in charge in Israel. But is God prepared to stick with the family no matter how bad things get with these guys? It doesn't seem so. God makes it clear that Solomon needs to emulate his father and observe God's rules if he wants to establish the dynasty. Is God's assumption that any descendant of David is guaranteed to be faithful? Spoiler alert: DNA doesn't guarantee anything.
[Israel] answered the king, "What share do we have in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. Each of you to your tents, O Israel! Look now to your own house, O David." […] So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day. (2 Chronicles 10:16, 19, NRSV)
[Israel] answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? and we have none inheritance in the son of Jesse: every man to your tents, O Israel: and Now David, see to thine own house […] And Israel rebelled against the house of David unto this day. (2 Chronicles 10:16, 19, KJV)
The 10 northern tribes feel free to rebel because they don't feel like they have any kinship ties with David and his tribe of Judah. They realize that as long as they stay in the unified kingdom, they'll never have one of their own on the throne.
[King Abijah] said, "Listen to me, Jeroboam and all Israel! Do you not know that the Lord God of Israel gave the kingship over Israel forever to David and his sons by a covenant of salt? Yet Jeroboam son of Nebat, a servant of Solomon son of David, rose up and rebelled against his lord; and certain worthless scoundrels gathered around him and defied Rehoboam son of Solomon, when Rehoboam was young and irresolute and could not withstand them. And now you think that you can withstand the kingdom of the Lord in the hand of the sons of David?" (2 Chronicles 13:4-8, NRSV)
[King Abijah] said, Hear me, thou Jeroboam, and all Israel; Ought ye not to know that the Lord God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David for ever, even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt? Yet Jeroboam the son of Nebat, the servant of Solomon the son of David, is risen up, and hath rebelled against his lord. And there are gathered unto him vain men, the children of Belial, and have strengthened themselves against Rehoboam the son of Solomon, when Rehoboam was young and tenderhearted, and could not withstand them. And now ye think to withstand the kingdom of the Lord in the hand of the sons of David. (2 Chronicles 13:4-8, KJV)
Among the Northern Kingdom's other sins is their refusal to accept God's choice of kings. Even though we're given a reason for Jeroboam's rebellion (Rehoboam increasing the work burdens and generally acting like a heartless jerk), Jeroboam and his followers are still seen as scoundrels. Like it or not, covenant of salt is a covenant of salt. BTW, it's been suggested that since salt is a preservative, it symbolized the long-lasting nature of a covenant. (Source)
Have you not driven out the priests of the Lord, the descendants of Aaron, and the Levites, and made priests for yourselves like the peoples of other lands? […] But as for us, the Lord is our God, and we have not abandoned him. We have priests ministering to the Lord who are descendants of Aaron, and Levites for their service. (2 Chronicles 13:9-10, NRSV)
Have ye not cast out the priests of the Lord, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and have made you priests after the manner of the nations of other lands? […] But as for us, the Lord is our God, and we have not forsaken him; and the priests, which minister unto the Lord, are the sons of Aaron, and the Levites wait upon their business. (2 Chronicles 13:9-10, KJV)
The priests in Israel don't come from the right family either. According to Exodus, only Aaron's sons and grandsons (and so on) could serve as high priests. No substitutions. It's the same with the Levites. There were Temple-related activities that only Levites were permitted to do, and using non-Levites to do those things could lead to trouble. These were very rigid bloodline rules.
Jehoshaphat slept with his ancestors and was buried with his ancestors in the city of David; his son Jehoram succeeded him. He had brothers, the sons of Jehoshaphat: Azariah, Jehiel, Zechariah, Azariah, Michael, and Shephatiah; all these were the sons of King Jehoshaphat of Judah. Their father gave them many gifts, of silver, gold, and valuable possessions, together with fortified cities in Judah; but he gave the kingdom to Jehoram, because he was the firstborn. When Jehoram had ascended the throne of his father and was established, he put all his brothers to the sword, and also some of the officials of Israel. (2 Chronicles 21:1-4, NRSV)
Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David. And Jehoram his son reigned in his stead. And he had brethren the sons of Jehoshaphat, Azariah, and Jehiel, and Zechariah, and Azariah, and Michael, and Shephatiah: all these were the sons of Jehoshaphat king of Israel. And their father gave them great gifts of silver, and of gold, and of precious things, with fenced cities in Judah: but the kingdom gave he to Jehoram; because he was the firstborn. Now when Jehoram was risen up to the kingdom of his father, he strengthened himself, and slew all his brethren with the sword, and divers also of the princes of Israel. (2 Chronicles 21:1-4, KJV)
Apparently rules of family descent didn't mean you had to like your family. Once the requirement was fulfilled—i.e., a Davidic king was on the throne—the other brothers are dispatched. This obviously wasn't what Jehoshaphat had in mind because he made bequests to all his sons. The favored firstborn is a theme throughout the Bible, but it's just as often turned upside-down, like when Jacob stole the birthright from Isaac or when Joseph ended up as way more powerful than all his older brothers. Some of the Davidic kings are firstborns and others aren't, for a variety of reasons.
[King Jehoram] did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. Yet the Lord would not destroy the house of David because of the covenant that he had made with David, and since he had promised to give a lamp to him and to his descendants forever. (2 Chronicles 21:6-7, NRSV)
[King Jehoram] wrought that which was evil in the eyes of the Lord. Howbeit the Lord would not destroy the house of David, because of the covenant that he had made with David, and as he promised to give a light to him and to his sons for ever. (2 Chronicles 21:6-7, KJV)
Okay, so King Jehoram is bad, but not so bad that God breaks the promise he made with David's family. We'd guess God is having some serious buyer's remorse at this point. He allows Jehoram to continue ruling, but he's paying very close attention. What goes around will eventually come around.
Then the whole assembly made a covenant with the king in the house of God. Jehoiada said to them, "Here is the king's son! Let him reign, as the Lord promised concerning the sons of David" […] Then he brought out the king's son, put the crown on him. (2 Chronicles 23:3, 11, NRSV)
The congregation made a covenant with the king in the house of God. And he said unto them, Behold, the king's son shall reign, as the Lord hath said of the sons of David […] Then they brought out the king's son, and put upon him the crown. (2 Chronicles 23:3, 11, KJV)
When Queen Athaliah takes over, she's not only a murderous idol-worshipper, she also comes from the wrong family. Here, her plan to snuff out David's bloodline is foiled when it's revealed that the king's son still lives. The queen had tried to get rid of all the possible descendants of David, but it looks like she missed one. God will go to great lengths to keep his promises to this family.
O people of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel […] Do not be like your ancestors and your kindred, who were faithless to the Lord God of their ancestors, so that he made them a desolation, as you see. Do not now be stiff-necked as your ancestors were, but yield yourselves to the Lord and come to his sanctuary. (2 Chronicles 30:6-8, NRSV)
Ye children of Israel, turn again unto the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel […] be not ye like your fathers, and like your brethren, which trespassed against the Lord God of their fathers, who therefore gave them up to desolation, as ye see. Now be ye not stiffnecked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves unto the Lord, and enter into his sanctuary. (2 Chronicles 30:6-8, KJV)
Here, King Hezekiah asks the tribes from Israel to come back into the fold and appeals to their shared family history. Since everyone in Israel is descended from the same person—Abraham—that means they all share a common ancestry. These enemies are more alike than they think.
Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign; he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. He did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of his ancestor David; he did not turn aside to the right or to the left. For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was still a boy, he began to seek the God of his ancestor David. (2 Chronicles 34:1-3, NRSV)
Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem one and thirty years. And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of David his father, and declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left. For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father. (2 Chronicles 34:1-3, KJV)
Success means following in your forefather's footsteps. Kings that turned away from David and his faithful ways failed miserably. But monarchs who kept it in the family usually turned out all right. Sixteen generations later, Josiah still refers to David as his father and role model.
The house that I am about to build will be great, for our God is greater than other gods. But who is able to build him a house, since heaven, even highest heaven, cannot contain him? Who am I to build a house for him, except as a place to make offerings before him? (2 Chronicles 2:5-6, NRSV)
The house which I build is great: for great is our God above all gods. But who is able to build him an house, seeing the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain him? who am I then, that I should build him an house, save only to burn sacrifice before him? (2 Chronicles 2:5-6, KJV)
Solomon's in charge of building a home for God in Jerusalem and he recognizes the contrast between earthly buildings and the transcendent presence of God. He knows that it's just a place for sacrifices, not a real "house." He still goes all Ty Pennington, though.
Solomon made all the things that were in the house of God: the golden altar, the tables for the bread of the Presence, the lampstands and their lamps of pure gold to burn before the inner sanctuary, as prescribed; the flowers, the lamps, and the tongs, of purest gold; the snuffers, basins, ladles, and firepans, of pure gold. As for the entrance to the temple: the inner doors to the most holy place and the doors of the nave of the temple were of gold. Thus all the work that Solomon did for the house of the Lord was finished. Solomon brought in the things that his father David had dedicated, and stored the silver, the gold, and all the vessels in the treasuries of the house of God. (2 Chronicles 4:19-5:1, NRSV)
Solomon made all the vessels that were for the house of God, the golden altar also and the tables whereon the shewbread was set; Moreover the candlesticks with their lamps, that they should burn after the manner before the oracle, of pure gold; And the flowers, and the lamps, and the tongs, made he of gold, and that perfect gold; And the snuffers, and the basons, and the spoons, and the censers, of pure gold: and the entry of the house, the inner doors thereof for the most holy place, and the doors of the house of the temple, were of gold. Thus all the work that Solomon made for the house of the Lord was finished: and Solomon brought in all the things that David his father had dedicated; and the silver, and the gold, and all the instruments, put he among the treasures of the house of God. (2 Chronicles 4:19-5:1, KJV)
The description of God's new house—the Temple in Jerusalem—actually goes on for a couple chapters, but you get the idea. Only the best for the God of Israel. The point of all this luxury was to glorify God. It also solidified Solomon's status as a ruler blessed by God with wealth and power. Any visitor to the Temple would see that right away and treat Solomon accordingly.
Solomon said, "The Lord has said that he would reside in thick darkness. I have built you an exalted house, a place for you to reside in forever." […] " But will God indeed reside with mortals on earth? Even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, how much less this house that I have built! Regard your servant's prayer and his plea, O Lord my God, heeding the cry and the prayer that your servant prays to you. May your eyes be open day and night toward this house, the place where you promised to set your name, and may you heed the prayer that your servant prays toward this place. And hear the plea of your servant and of your people Israel, when they pray toward this place; may you hear from heaven your dwelling place; hear and forgive." (2 Chronicles 6:1-2, 18-21, NRSV)
Said Solomon, The Lord hath said that he would dwell in the thick darkness. But I have built an house of habitation for thee, and a place for thy dwelling for ever […] But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built! Have respect therefore to the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, O Lord my God, to hearken unto the cry and the prayer which thy servant prayeth before thee: That thine eyes may be open upon this house day and night, upon the place whereof thou hast said that thou wouldest put thy name there; to hearken unto the prayer which thy servant prayeth toward this place. Hearken therefore unto the supplications of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, which they shall make toward this place: hear thou from thy dwelling place, even from heaven; and when thou hearest, forgive. (2 Chronicles 6:1-2, 18-21, KJV)
Solomon again acknowledges that this Temple is only a symbolic home for God. But he hopes that God will pay attention to what goes on there, since is this is where the people will be communicating with him.
If they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you are angry with them and give them to an enemy, so that they are carried away captive to a land far or near; then if they come to their senses in the land to which they have been taken captive, and repent, and plead with you in the land of their captivity, saying, "We have sinned, and have done wrong; we have acted wickedly"; if they repent with all their heart and soul in the land of their captivity, to which they were taken captive, and pray toward their land, which you gave to their ancestors, the city that you have chosen, and the house that I have built for your name, then hear from heaven your dwelling place their prayer and their pleas, maintain their cause and forgive your people who have sinned against you. Now O my God, let your eyes be open and your ears attentive to prayer from this place. (2 Chronicles 6:36-40, NRSV)
If they sin against thee, (for there is no man which sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them over before their enemies, and they carry them away captives unto a land far off or near; Yet if they bethink themselves in the land whither they are carried captive, and turn and pray unto thee in the land of their captivity, saying, We have sinned, we have done amiss, and have dealt wickedly; If they return to thee with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, whither they have carried them captives, and pray toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, and toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house which I have built for thy name: Then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy dwelling place, their prayer and their supplications, and maintain their cause, and forgive thy people which have sinned against thee. Now my God, let, I beseech thee, thine eyes be open, and let thine ears be attent unto the prayer that is made in this place. (2 Chronicles 6:36-40, KJV)
Solomon foreshadows the Babylonian exile here when he asks God to keep looking out for the people if they ever happen to get kicked out of Israel but repent. Of course, at the time the Chronicler wrote this book, the exile had already happened and the exiles had returned. So this theme of Jerusalem as home had a lot of resonance for the people reading this account.
Then the LORD appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: "I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house so that my name may be there forever; my eyes and my heart will be there for all time." (2 Chronicles 7:12-16, NRSV)
The Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice. If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place. For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there for ever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually. (2 Chronicles 7:12-16, KJV)
God's signs the lease and moves in. Notice the language: "forever," "perpetually." This was probably very reassuring to a people just returned from exile.
But if you turn aside and forsake my statutes and my commandments that I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will pluck you up from the land that I have given you; and this house, which I have consecrated for my name, I will cast out of my sight, and will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples. And regarding this house, now exalted, everyone passing by will be astonished, and say, "Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and to this house?" Then they will say, "Because they abandoned the Lord the God of their ancestors who brought them out of the land of Egypt, and they adopted other gods, and worshiped them and served them; therefore he has brought all this calamity upon them." (2 Chronicles 7:19-22, NRSV)
But if ye turn away, and forsake my statutes and my commandments, which I have set before you, and shall go and serve other gods, and worship them; Then will I pluck them up by the roots out of my land which I have given them; and this house, which I have sanctified for my name, will I cast out of my sight, and will make it to be a proverb and a byword among all nations. And this house, which is high, shall be an astonishment to every one that passeth by it; so that he shall say, Why hath the Lord done thus unto this land, and unto this house? And it shall be answered, Because they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, which brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods, and worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath he brought all this evil upon them. (2 Chronicles 7:19-22, KJV)
Ah, but here's the catch. Yes, the people have built God a nice house and he'd like to remain there eternally, but he can take it all away. He's willing to leave Jerusalem if people disobey his commandments.
Did you not, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of your friend Abraham? They have lived in it, and in it have built you a sanctuary for your name, saying, "If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house, and before you, for your name is in this house, and cry to you in our distress, and you will hear and save." See Now the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, whom you would not let Israel invade when they came from the land of Egypt, and whom they avoided and did not destroy—they reward us by coming to drive us out of your possession that you have given us to inherit. (2 Chronicles 20:7-11, NRSV)
Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever? And they dwelt therein, and have built thee a sanctuary therein for thy name, saying, If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help. And Now behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and mount Seir, whom thou wouldest not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them, and destroyed them not; Behold, I say, how they reward us, to come to cast us out of thy possession, which thou hast given us to inherit. (2 Chronicles 20:7-11, KJV)
Jehoshaphat appeals to God to rescue Judah from the invaders who are trying to take back the land of Judah. He reminds God that he gave this land to Abraham's descendants forever and that Israel had built him this really nice Temple for just an occasion like this—to pray for deliverance. The king makes a pretty savvy argument here: don't do this for us, do it for yourself, since your house is here.
Some time afterward Joash decided to restore the house of the Lord. He assembled the priests and the Levites and said to them, "Go out to the cities of Judah and gather money from all Israel to repair the house of your God […] For the children of Athaliah, that wicked woman, had broken into the house of God, and had even used all the dedicated things of the house of the Lord for the Baals." (2 Chronicles 24:4-5, 7, NRSV)
It came to pass after this, that Joash was minded to repair the house of the Lord. And he gathered together the priests and the Levites, and said to them, Go out unto the cities of Judah, and gather of all Israel money to repair the house of your God […] For the sons of Athaliah, that wicked woman, had broken up the house of God; and also all the dedicated things of the house of the Lord did they bestow upon Baalim. (2 Chronicles 24:4-5, 7, KJV)
The way the king treats God's house—the Temple—says a lot about the way God will treat that king. Here, King Joash is repairing the damage that was done by Athaliah and company. Joash makes arrangements for everyone in Judah to contribute to the building fund. Making this a project for everyone probably cemented the idea of Jerusalem and the Temple being the national home. Everyone could take pride in the restored Temple. Kind of like you feel when you go to Washington, DC and think "my tax money paid for this." Well, your parents' tax money, anyway.
Ahaz gathered together the utensils of the house of God, and cut in pieces the utensils of the house of God. He shut up the doors of the house of the Lord and made himself altars in every corner of Jerusalem. In every city of Judah he made high places to make offerings to other gods, provoking to anger the Lord, the God of his ancestors. (2 Chronicles 28:24-25, NRSV)
Ahaz gathered together the vessels of the house of God, and cut in pieces the vessels of the house of God, and shut up the doors of the house of the Lord, and he made him altars in every corner of Jerusalem. And in every several city of Judah he made high places to burn incense unto other gods, and provoked to anger the Lord God of his fathers. (2 Chronicles 28:24-25, KJV)
Here's an example of what not to do. King Ahaz shuts down God's house, which means it's closed for business. No way prayers can be answered. Fortunately, his son Hezekiah reversed all this and reopened the Temple as soon as he got the throne. You can see that the Chronicler intended these verses to be pretty shocking. Cutting up the holy vessels in the Temple—the chutzpah!
The Lord, the God of their ancestors, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place; but they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words, and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord against his people became so great that there was no remedy. Therefore he brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their youths with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or young woman, the aged or the feeble; he gave them all into his hand. All the vessels of the house of God, large and small, and the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king and of his officials, all these he brought to Babylon. They burned the house of God, broke down the wall of Jerusalem, burned all its palaces with fire, and destroyed all its precious vessels. (2 Chronicles 36:15-19, NRSV)
The Lord God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place: But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, till there was no remedy. Therefore he brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age: he gave them all into his hand. And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king, and of his princes; all these he brought to Babylon. And they burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire, and destroyed all the goodly vessels thereof. (2 Chronicles 36:15-19, KJV)
What goes around has finally come around. Things got so bad in Jerusalem that God decided to abandon it and use the Babylonians to destroy the city and the Temple. This was the greatest national catastrophe imaginable. People were uprooted from their home and dragged off to Babylon. Exile becomes a central theme in Jewish history, as does the longing to return to the homeland. The Chronicler summarizes, in just a few verses, books and books of warnings by the important prophets of that time about the ultimate fate of Judah if the leaders don't get right with God.
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." (2 Chronicles 36:22-23, NRSV)
In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the Lord God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The Lord his God be with him, and let him go up. (2 Chronicles 36:22-23, KJV)
But wait, there's more! Exile wasn't the end of the story. Once the people realized the error of their ways, God allowed them to go home (courtesy of King Cyrus of Persia). This is the point of the Chronicler's story—if they want to stay home this time, they need to abandon their wicked ways.
King Huram of Tyre answered in a letter that he sent to Solomon, "Because the Lord loves his people he has made you king over them." (2 Chronicles 2:11, NRSV)
Huram the king of Tyre answered in writing, which he sent to Solomon, Because the Lord hath loved his people, he hath made thee king over them. (2 Chronicles 2:11, KJV)
Huram knows how to cement an alliance. Not only has he given Solomon materials and men to build the Temple, he tells him that his success is due to God's blessings.
Solomon went to Hamath-zobah, and captured it. He built Tadmor in the wilderness and all the storage towns that he built in Hamath. He also built Upper Beth-horon and Lower Beth-horon, fortified cities, with walls, gates, and bars, and Baalath, as well as all Solomon's storage towns, and all the towns for his chariots, the towns for his cavalry, and whatever Solomon desired to build, in Jerusalem, in Lebanon, and in all the land of his dominion. All the people who were left of the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, who were not of Israel, from their descendants who were still left in the land, whom the people of Israel had not destroyed—these Solomon conscripted for forced labor, as is still the case today. But of the people of Israel Solomon made no slaves for his work; they were soldiers, and his officers, the commanders of his chariotry and cavalry. (2 Chronicles 8:3-9, NRSV)
Solomon went to Hamathzobah, and prevailed against it. And he built Tadmor in the wilderness, and all the store cities, which he built in Hamath. Also he built Bethhoron the upper, and Bethhoron the nether, fenced cities, with walls, gates, and bars; And Baalath, and all the store cities that Solomon had, and all the chariot cities, and the cities of the horsemen, and all that Solomon desired to build in Jerusalem, and in Lebanon, and throughout all the land of his dominion. As for all the people that were left of the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which were not of Israel, But of their children, who were left after them in the land, whom the children of Israel consumed not, them did Solomon make to pay tribute until this day. But of the children of Israel did Solomon make no servants for his work; but they were men of war, and chief of his captains, and captains of his chariots and horsemen. (2 Chronicles 8:3-9, KJV)
Solomon increases defense spending and manages to find some low cost (or should we say "no cost") labor. The people of Israel get all the benefit and none of the hardship. Way to take care of your constituents… at the expense of foreigners. Compassionate treatment of conquered peoples was not the custom in those days. They were lucky not to be butchered on the spot.
When the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon, she came to Jerusalem to test him with hard questions, having a very great retinue and camels bearing spices and very much gold and precious stones. When she came to Solomon, she discussed with him all that was on her mind. Solomon answered all her questions; there was nothing hidden from Solomon that he could not explain to her. When the queen of Sheba had observed the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, the food of his table, the seating of his officials, and the attendance of his servants, and their clothing, his valets, and their clothing, and his burnt offerings that he offered at the house of the Lord, there was no more spirit left in her. So she said to the king, "The report was true that I heard in my own land of your accomplishments and of your wisdom, but I did not believe the reports until I came and my own eyes saw it. Not even half of the greatness of your wisdom had been told to me; you far surpass the report that I had heard. Happy are your people! Happy are these your servants, who continually attend you and hear your wisdom! Blessed be the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and set you on his throne as king for the Lord your God. Because your God loved Israel and would establish them forever, he has made you king over them, that you may execute justice and righteousness." Then she gave the king one hundred twenty talents of gold, a very great quantity of spices, and precious stones: there were no spices such as those that the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon. (2 Chronicles 9:1-9, NRSV)
When the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon, she came to prove Solomon with hard questions at Jerusalem, with a very great company, and camels that bare spices, and gold in abundance, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart. And Solomon told her all her questions: and there was nothing hid from Solomon which he told her not. And when the queen of Sheba had seen the wisdom of Solomon, and the house that he had built, And the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel; his cupbearers also and their apparel; and his ascent by which he went up into the house of the Lord; there was no more spirit in her. And she said to the king, It was a true report which I heard in mine own land of thine acts, and of thy wisdom: Howbeit I believed not their words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the one half of the greatness of thy wisdom was not told me: for thou exceedest the fame that I heard. Happy are thy men, and happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and hear thy wisdom. Blessed be the Lord thy God, which delighted in thee to set thee on his throne, to be king for the Lord thy God: because thy God loved Israel, to establish them for ever, therefore made he thee king over them, to do judgment and justice. And she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices great abundance, and precious stones: neither was there any such spice as the queen of Sheba gave king Solomon. (2 Chronicles 9:1-9, KJV)
The rich and sophisticated Queen travels from afar to meet this famously wise king. After he manages to answer all her hardest questions, she's so impressed she gives him even more riches. She also mentions the divine angle in all of Solomon's success. Sheba's visit may not have been a necessary political move (she lived pretty far away for Solomon to be a threat), but it's still always a good idea to impress those people who've managed to get God on their side. Wonder what all that "spice" referred to?
Jeroboam and all Israel came and said to Rehoboam, "Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke that he placed on us, and we will serve you." […] Then King Rehoboam took counsel with the older men who had attended his father Solomon while he was still alive, saying, "How do you advise me to answer this people?" They answered him, "If you will be kind to this people and please them, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever." But he rejected the advice that the older men gave him […] The young men who had grown up with him said to him, "Thus should you speak to the people who said to you, 'Your father made our yoke heavy, but you must lighten it for us'; tell them, 'My little finger is thicker than my father's loins. Now whereas my father laid on you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.'" So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day […] he spoke to them in accordance with the advice of the young men, "My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to it; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions." So the king did not listen to the people. (2 Chronicles 10:3-4, 6-8, 10-12, 14-15, NRSV)
Jeroboam and all Israel came and spake to Rehoboam, saying, Thy father made our yoke grievous: now therefore ease thou somewhat the grievous servitude of thy father, and his heavy yoke that he put upon us, and we will serve thee […] King Rehoboam took counsel with the old men that had stood before Solomon his father while he yet lived, saying, What counsel give ye me to return answer to this people? And they spake unto him, saying, If thou be kind to this people, and please them, and speak good words to them, they will be thy servants for ever. But he forsook the counsel which the old men gave him […] The young men that were brought up with him spake unto him, saying, Thus shalt thou answer the people that spake unto thee, saying, Thy father made our yoke heavy, but make thou it somewhat lighter for us; thus shalt thou say unto them, My little finger shall be thicker than my father's loins. For whereas my father put a heavy yoke upon you, I will put more to your yoke: my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions. So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam on the third day […] And answered them after the advice of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add thereto: my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions. So the king hearkened not unto the people. (2 Chronicles 10:3-15, KJV)
As soon as Rehoboam gets the throne, he decides to establish his reputation by coming down hard on the workers and taxpayers. When the people protest, he ignores the advice of his father's experienced advisers and makes things even harder for the people. Our guess is that Rehoboam's pretty insecure—he's got a hard act to follow. So he has to be a tyrant to convince the people to respect his authoritah.
In the thirty-sixth year of the reign of Asa, King Baasha of Israel went up against Judah, and built Ramah, to prevent anyone from going out or coming into the territory of King Asa of Judah. Then Asa took silver and gold from the treasures of the house of the Lord and the king's house, and sent them to King Ben-hadad of Aram, who resided in Damascus, saying, "Let there be an alliance between me and you, like that between my father and your father; I am sending to you silver and gold; go, break your alliance with King Baasha of Israel, so that he may withdraw from me." Ben-hadad listened to King Asa, and sent the commanders of his armies against the cities of Israel. They conquered Ijon, Dan, Abel-maim, and all the store-cities of Naphtali. When Baasha heard of it, he stopped building Ramah, and let his work cease. Then King Asa brought all Judah, and they carried away the stones of Ramah and its timber, with which Baasha had been building, and with them he built up Geba and Mizpah. (2 Chronicles 16:1-6, NRSV)
In the six and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah, and built Ramah, to the intent that he might let none go out or come in to Asa king of Judah. Then Asa brought out silver and gold out of the treasures of the house of the Lord and of the king's house, and sent to Benhadad king of Syria, that dwelt at Damascus, saying, There is a league between me and thee, as there was between my father and thy father: behold, I have sent thee silver and gold; go, break thy league with Baasha king of Israel, that he may depart from me. And Benhadad hearkened unto king Asa, and sent the captains of his armies against the cities of Israel; and they smote Ijon, and Dan, and Abelmaim, and all the store cities of Naphtali. And it came to pass, when Baasha heard it, that he left off building of Ramah, and let his work cease. Then Asa the king took all Judah; and they carried away the stones of Ramah, and the timber thereof, wherewith Baasha was building; and he built therewith Geba and Mizpah. (2 Chronicles 16:1-6, KJV)
Now this seems like some smart political maneuvering. King Baasha has basically blocked off roads going in and out of Judah. Asa realizes he can't defeat Israel alone, so he makes a strategic alliance with their neighbors in Aram. Lucky for him, Aram is willing to turn its back on one of its political allies. What he neglected to take into consideration was how God might feel about all this. Yahweh didn't appreciate that Asa relied on the King of Aram instead of him, so he made other nations attack Asa.
The fear of the Lord fell on all the kingdoms of the lands around Judah, and they did not make war against Jehoshaphat. Some of the Philistines brought Jehoshaphat presents, and silver for tribute; and the Arabs also brought him seven thousand seven hundred rams and seven thousand seven hundred male goats. Jehoshaphat grew steadily greater. (2 Chronicles 17:10-12, NRSV)
The fear of the Lord fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were round about Judah, so that they made no war against Jehoshaphat. Also some of the Philistines brought Jehoshaphat presents, and tribute silver; and the Arabians brought him flocks, seven thousand and seven hundred rams, and seven thousand and seven hundred he goats. And Jehoshaphat waxed great exceedingly. (2 Chronicles 17:10-12, KJV)
Even the Philistines, those constant thorns in Judah's side, paid tribute to Judah. In the preceding verses, we learn that Jehoshaphat had just finished a nationwide crash course in God's laws when he sent messengers all over Judah instructing the people about the laws of Moses. This evidently made a huge impression on the surrounding tribes. Politics and religion were always a single package in these stories. Today, that same mix can be pretty dangerous.
When Athaliah, Ahaziah's mother, saw that her son was dead, she set about to destroy all the royal family of the house of Judah. But Jehoshabeath, the king's daughter, took Joash son of Ahaziah, and stole him away from among the king's children who were about to be killed; she put him and his nurse in a bedroom. Thus Jehoshabeath, daughter of King Jehoram and wife of the priest Jehoiada—because she was a sister of Ahaziah—hid him from Athaliah, so that she did not kill him; he remained with them six years, hidden in the house of God, while Athaliah reigned over the land. (2 Chronicles 22:10-12, NRSV)
When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the seed royal of the house of Judah. But Jehoshabeath, the daughter of the king, took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him from among the king's sons that were slain, and put him and his nurse in a bedchamber. So Jehoshabeath, the daughter of king Jehoram, the wife of Jehoiada the priest (for she was the sister of Ahaziah), hid him from Athaliah, so that she slew him not. And he was with them hid in the house of God six years: and Athaliah reigned over the land. (2 Chronicles 22:10-12, KJV)
Like mother, like daughter. Athaliah inherited her mother Jezebel's murderous ways and slaughtered all her grandchildren who might inherit the throne. This put a descendant of the Kings of Israel in charge of the throne of Judah, which we know is not part of the plan. Unfortunately for her, she missed one of the boys. This lady makes Queen Cersei look like a Girl Scout.
But In the seventh year Jehoiada took courage, and entered into a compact with the commanders of the hundreds […] They went around through Judah and gathered the Levites from all the towns of Judah, and the heads of families of Israel, and they came to Jerusalem. Then the whole assembly made a covenant with the king in the house of God. Jehoiada said to them, "Here is the king's son! Let him reign, as the Lord promised concerning the sons of David. This is what you are to do […] The Levites shall surround the king, each with his weapons in his hand; and whoever enters the house shall be killed. Stay with the king in his comings and goings." […] Then he brought out the king's son, put the crown on him, and gave him the covenant; they proclaimed him king, and Jehoiada and his sons anointed him; and they shouted, "Long live the king!" (2 Chronicles 23:1-4, 7, 11, NRSV)
In the seventh year Jehoiada strengthened himself, and took the captains of hundreds […] They went about in Judah, and gathered the Levites out of all the cities of Judah, and the chief of the fathers of Israel, and they came to Jerusalem. And all the congregation made a covenant with the king in the house of God. And he said unto them, Behold, the king's son shall reign, as the Lord hath said of the sons of David. This is the thing that ye shall do […] the Levites shall compass the king round about, every man with his weapons in his hand; and whosoever else cometh into the house, he shall be put to death: but be ye with the king when he cometh in, and when he goeth out […] Then they brought out the king's son, and put upon him the crown, and gave him the testimony, and made him king. And Jehoiada and his sons anointed him, and said, God save the king. (2 Chronicles 23:1-4, 7, 11, KJV)
Remember that one baby that Queen Athaliah didn't manage to kill? Well, it turns out he's been hiding out just waiting to claim the throne of Judah with the help of Jehoiada the priest. Jehoiada's timing is perfect here. He waits 7 years and gradually builds up a collation of warriors willing to help him overthrow the queen and swear their allegiance to the new king. Seriously, this could totally be on an episode of Game of Thrones.
When Athaliah heard the noise of the people running and praising the king, she went into the house of the Lord to the people; and when she looked, there was the king standing by his pillar at the entrance, and the captains and the trumpeters beside the king, and all the people of the land rejoicing and blowing trumpets, and the singers with their musical instruments leading in the celebration. Athaliah tore her clothes, and cried, "Treason! Treason!" Then the priest Jehoiada brought out the captains who were set over the army, saying to them, "Bring her out between the ranks; anyone who follows her is to be put to the sword." For the priest said, "Do not put her to death in the house of the Lord." So they laid hands on her; she went into the entrance of the Horse Gate of the king's house, and there they put her to death. (2 Chronicles 23:12-15, NRSV)
When Athaliah heard the noise of the people running and praising the king, she came to the people into the house of the Lord: And she looked, and, behold, the king stood at his pillar at the entering in, and the princes and the trumpets by the king: and all the people of the land rejoiced, and sounded with trumpets, also the singers with instruments of musick, and such as taught to sing praise. Then Athaliah rent her clothes, and said, Treason, Treason. Then Jehoiada the priest brought out the captains of hundreds that were set over the host, and said unto them, Have her forth of the ranges: and whoso followeth her, let him be slain with the sword. For the priest said, Slay her not in the house of the Lord. So they laid hands on her; and when she was come to the entering of the horse gate by the king's house, they slew her there. (2 Chronicles 23:12-15, KJV)
If Athaliah had taken the political pulse in Judah she might have known something was up. As it was, she was so accustomed to having idol worship be the new normal that she was blindsided by the coup and saw Yahweh-worshippers as traitors.
Joash was seven years old when he began to reign; he reigned forty years in Jerusalem; his mother's name was Zibiah of Beer-sheba. Joash did what was right in the sight of the Lord all the days of the priest Jehoiada. Jehoiada got two wives for him, and he became the father of sons and daughters. (2 Chronicles 24:1-3, NRSV)
Joash was seven years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem. His mother's name also was Zibiah of Beersheba. And Joash did that which was right in the sight of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest. And Jehoiada took for him two wives; and he begat sons and daughters. (2 Chronicles 24:1-3, KJV)
King Joash's reign begins when he's 7 years old. Wait, what? Isn't that a little young? Jehoiada, who raised the kid and orchestrated his return to the throne, is probably pulling the strings. This is what's called a regent. This is a pretty common situation in dynasties, when the rulership is determined by royal DNA (and in this case, strictly Davidic DNA). In ancient times, when the lifespan of kings could be cut short by war or illness, heirs were often pretty young. But a child heir was still the rightful heir. As a regent, Jehoiada did the right thing. Lots of them were pretty self-serving, though.
"Thus says King Sennacherib of Assyria: On what are you relying, that you undergo the siege of Jerusalem? Is not Hezekiah misleading you, handing you over to die by famine and by thirst, when he tells you, 'The Lord our God will save us from the hand of the king of Assyria'? Was it not this same Hezekiah who took away his high places and his altars and commanded Judah and Jerusalem, saying, 'Before one altar you shall worship, and upon it you shall make your offerings'? Do you not know what I and my ancestors have done to all the peoples of other lands? Were the gods of the nations of those lands at all able to save their lands out of my hand? Who among all the gods of those nations that my ancestors utterly destroyed was able to save his people from my hand, that your God should be able to save you from my hand? Now therefore do not let Hezekiah deceive you or mislead you in this fashion, and do not believe him, for no god of any nation or kingdom has been able to save his people from my hand or from the hand of my ancestors. How much less will your God save you out of my hand!" (2 Chronicles 32:10-15, NRSV)
Thus saith Sennacherib king of Assyria, Whereon do ye trust, that ye abide in the siege in Jerusalem? Doth not Hezekiah persuade you to give over yourselves to die by famine and by thirst, saying, The Lord our God shall deliver us out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Hath not the same Hezekiah taken away his high places and his altars, and commanded Judah and Jerusalem, saying, Ye shall worship before one altar, and burn incense upon it? Know ye not what I and my fathers have done unto all the people of other lands? were the gods of the nations of those lands any ways able to deliver their lands out of mine hand? Who was there among all the gods of those nations that my fathers utterly destroyed, that could deliver his people out of mine hand, that your God should be able to deliver you out of mine hand? Now therefore let not Hezekiah deceive you, nor persuade you on this manner, neither yet believe him: for no god of any nation or kingdom was able to deliver his people out of mine hand, and out of the hand of my fathers: how much less shall your God deliver you out of mine hand? (2 Chronicles 32:10-15, KJV)
This is the speech that King Sennacherib of Assyria delivers to the people of Judah before attacking them. It's actually a really masterful political speech. King Hezekiah has assured the people that everything is good—God will help them, not to worry. But Sennacherib undercuts the king's argument with a pretty common sense line of reasoning. No god has ever defeated us—what makes you think your God is any different? We can see where this is heading even though he can't. The Chronicler throws in a little dramatic irony.
Solomon, and the whole assembly with him, went to the high place that was at Gibeon; for God's tent of meeting, which Moses the servant of the Lord had made in the wilderness, was there. (But David had brought the ark of God up from Kiriath-jearim to the place that David had prepared for it; for he had pitched a tent for it in Jerusalem.) Moreover the bronze altar that Bezalel son of Uri, son of Hur, had made, was there in front of the tabernacle of the Lord. And Solomon and the assembly inquired at it. Solomon went up there to the bronze altar before the Lord, which was at the tent of meeting, and offered a thousand burnt offerings on it. (2 Chronicles 1:3-6, NRSV)
Solomon, and all the congregation with him, went to the high place that was at Gibeon; for there was the tabernacle of the congregation of God, which Moses the servant of the Lord had made in the wilderness. But the ark of God had David brought up from Kirjathjearim to the place which David had prepared for it: for he had pitched a tent for it at Jerusalem. Moreover the brasen altar, that Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, had made, he put before the tabernacle of the Lord: and Solomon and the congregation sought unto it. And Solomon went up thither to the brasen altar before the Lord, which was at the tabernacle of the congregation, and offered a thousand burnt offerings upon it. (2 Chronicles 1:3-6, KJV)
One of Solomon's first orders of business is to make offerings to God. The Chronicler is careful to specify all the steps he takes to get to the proper place and do the proper thing according to the laws of Moses. Every little detail matters when you want to convince God that you're serious about worshipping him.
Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the ancestral houses of the people of Israel, in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion. And all the Israelites assembled before the king at the festival that is in the seventh month. And all the elders of Israel came, and the Levites carried the ark. So they brought up the ark, the tent of meeting, and all the holy vessels that were in the tent; the priests and the Levites brought them up. King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel, who had assembled before him, were before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and oxen that they could not be numbered or counted. Then the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the Lord to its place, in the inner sanctuary of the house, in the most holy place, underneath the wings of the cherubim. For the cherubim spread out their wings over the place of the ark, so that the cherubim made a covering above the ark and its poles. The poles were so long that the ends of the poles were seen from the holy place in front of the inner sanctuary; but they could not be seen from outside; they are there to this day. There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets that Moses put there at Horeb, where the Lord made a covenant with the people of Israel after they came out of Egypt. (2 Chronicles 5:2-10, NRSV)
Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the children of Israel, unto Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion. Wherefore all the men of Israel assembled themselves unto the king in the feast which was in the seventh month. And all the elders of Israel came; and the Levites took up the ark. And they brought up the ark, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and all the holy vessels that were in the tabernacle, these did the priests and the Levites bring up. Also king Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel that were assembled unto him before the ark, sacrificed sheep and oxen, which could not be told nor numbered for multitude. And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the Lord unto his place, to the oracle of the house, into the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims: For the cherubims spread forth their wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubims covered the ark and the staves thereof above. And they drew out the staves of the ark, that the ends of the staves were seen from the ark before the oracle; but they were not seen without. And there it is unto this day. There was nothing in the ark save the two tables which Moses put therein at Horeb, when the Lord made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of Egypt. (2 Chronicles 5:2-10, KJV)
After the Temple is all done, Solomon needs to bring in the final and most important thing—the Ark of the Covenant. This is the ultimate celebration of continuity; all the people saw the Ark and knew this was their shared history. This is why the Declaration of Independence and Constitution are on continuous display at the National Archives. It gives Shmoop goosebumps just thinking about it.
Solomon offered up burnt offerings to the Lord on the altar of the Lord that he had built in front of the vestibule, as the duty of each day required, offering according to the commandment of Moses for the sabbaths, the new moons, and the three annual festivals—the festival of unleavened bread, the festival of weeks, and the festival of booths. According to the ordinance of his father David, he appointed the divisions of the priests for their service, and the Levites for their offices of praise and ministry alongside the priests as the duty of each day required, and the gatekeepers in their divisions for the several gates; for so David the man of God had commanded. (2 Chronicles 8:12-14, NRSV)
Solomon offered burnt offerings unto the Lord on the altar of the Lord, which he had built before the porch, Even after a certain rate every day, offering according to the commandment of Moses, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts, three times in the year, even in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles. And he appointed, according to the order of David his father, the courses of the priests to their service, and the Levites to their charges, to praise and minister before the priests, as the duty of every day required: the porters also by their courses at every gate: for so had David the man of God commanded. (2 Chronicles 8:12-14, KJV)
These verses illustrate just how carefully Solomon was following all the ancient laws for festivals, Temple job assignments, sacrifices, etc. He probably grew up with these traditions, since David was faithful to them, so they were pretty familiar to him.
The priests and the Levites who were in all Israel presented themselves to him from all their territories. The Levites had left their common lands and their holdings and had come to Judah and Jerusalem, because Jeroboam and his sons had prevented them from serving as priests of the Lord, and had appointed his own priests for the high places, and for the goat-demons, and for the calves that he had made. Those who had set their hearts to seek the Lord God of Israel came after them from all the tribes of Israel to Jerusalem to sacrifice to the Lord, the God of their ancestors. They strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and for three years they made Rehoboam son of Solomon secure, for they walked for three years in the way of David and Solomon. (2 Chronicles 11:13-17, NRSV)
The priests and the Levites that were in all Israel resorted to him out of all their coasts. For the Levites left their suburbs and their possession, and came to Judah and Jerusalem: for Jeroboam and his sons had cast them off from executing the priest's office unto the Lord: And he ordained him priests for the high places, and for the devils, and for the calves which he had made. And after them out of all the tribes of Israel such as set their hearts to seek the Lord God of Israel came to Jerusalem, to sacrifice unto the Lord God of their fathers. So they strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and made Rehoboam the son of Solomon strong, three years: for three years they walked in the way of David and Solomon. (2 Chronicles 11:13-17, KJV)
Tradition says that only the descendants of Aaron could serve as priests, but the guys in the Northern Kingdom appointed their own priests and gave the Levites' jobs to other people. So the priests and Levites break ranks and swear allegiance to Judah. This only worked until Rehoboam started straying from God. Maybe he wanted to find out what those goat-demons were all about.
In the third year of his reign he sent his officials […] to teach in the cities of Judah […] They taught in Judah, having the book of the law of the Lord with them; they went around through all the cities of Judah and taught among the people. (2 Chronicles 17:7, 9, NRSV)
In the third year of his reign he sent to his princes […] to teach in the cities of Judah […] They taught in Judah, and had the book of the law of the Lord with them, and went about throughout all the cities of Judah, and taught the people. (2 Chronicles 17:7, 9, KJV)
The only thing more important than keeping traditions is passing them on. That's what makes them traditions, duh. King Jehoshaphat makes sure that his people are well-educated on Jewish laws and customs. Kind of a No Judean Left Behind policy.
Jehoiada made a covenant between himself and all the people and the king that they should be the Lord's people. Then all the people went to the house of Baal, and tore it down; his altars and his images they broke in pieces, and they killed Mattan, the priest of Baal, in front of the altars. Jehoiada assigned the care of the house of the Lord to the levitical priests whom David had organized to be in charge of the house of the Lord, to offer burnt offerings to the Lord, as it is written in the law of Moses, with rejoicing and with singing, according to the order of David. (2 Chronicles 23:16-18, NRSV)
Jehoiada made a covenant between him, and between all the people, and between the king, that they should be the Lord's people. Then all the people went to the house of Baal, and brake it down, and brake his altars and his images in pieces, and slew Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars. Also Jehoiada appointed the offices of the house of the Lord by the hand of the priests the Levites, whom David had distributed in the house of the Lord, to offer the burnt offerings of the Lord, as it is written in the law of Moses, with rejoicing and with singing, as it was ordained by David. (2 Chronicles 23:16-18, KJV)
The high priest Jehoiada restores order after he gets done deposing and disposing of the Baal-loving Queen Athaliah. He literally cleans house and sets things up the way David intended, including lots of music. You're probably getting a good idea by now about how all these traditions were established, trashed, re-established, and trashed again—all depending on who happened to be in power.
He did what was right in the sight of the Lord, yet not with a true heart. As soon as the royal power was firmly in his hand he killed his servants who had murdered his father the king. But he did not put their children to death, according to what is written in the law, in the book of Moses, where the Lord commanded, "The parents shall not be put to death for the children, or the children be put to death for the parents; but all shall be put to death for their own sins." (2 Chronicles 25:2-4, NRSV)
And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, but not with a perfect heart. Now it came to pass, when the kingdom was established to him, that he slew his servants that had killed the king his father. But he slew not their children, but did as it is written in the law in the book of Moses, where the Lord commanded, saying, The fathers shall not die for the children, neither shall the children die for the fathers, but every man shall die for his own sin. (2 Chronicles 25:2-4, KJV)
Here's an ancient law that keeps a bunch of innocent children from being slaughtered for the sins of their parents. Shmoop's glad that someone remembered it.
But when he had become strong he grew proud, to his destruction. For he was false to the Lord his God, and entered the temple of the Lord to make offering on the altar of incense. But the priest Azariah went in after him, with eighty priests of the Lord who were men of valor; they withstood King Uzziah, and said to him, "It is not for you, Uzziah, to make offering to the Lord, but for the priests the descendants of Aaron, who are consecrated to make offering. Go out of the sanctuary; for you have done wrong, and it will bring you no honor from the Lord God." Then Uzziah was angry. Now he had a censer in his hand to make offering, and when he became angry with the priests a leprous[h] disease broke out on his forehead, in the presence of the priests in the house of the Lord, by the altar of incense. (2 Chronicles 26:16-19, NRSV)
But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the Lord his God, and went into the temple of the Lord to burn incense upon the altar of incense. And Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the Lord, that were valiant men: And they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the Lord, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honour from the Lord God. Then Uzziah was wroth, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense: and while he was wroth with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the Lord, from beside the incense altar. (2 Chronicles 26:16-19, KJV)
King Uzziah either forgot or decided to disregard the law stating that only the priests can set foot in the Temple and start serving up offerings to God. God isn't too pleased with the breach of protocol, so he gives the king a case of leprosy. Uzziah should consider himself lucky. Other violations of protocol had resulted in much worse, like being killed on the spot, for example. Even the priests had to wear the right kind of clothes and take the right kind of baths before they were allowed to approach the altar. There were pages and pages of rules about this in Leviticus, so Uzziah really blew it.
In the time of his distress he became yet more faithless to the Lord—this same King Ahaz. For he sacrificed to the gods of Damascus, which had defeated him, and said, "Because the gods of the kings of Aram helped them, I will sacrifice to them so that they may help me." But they were the ruin of him, and of all Israel. Ahaz gathered together the utensils of the house of God, and cut in pieces the utensils of the house of God. He shut up the doors of the house of the Lord and made himself altars in every corner of Jerusalem. In every city of Judah he made high places to make offerings to other gods, provoking to anger the Lord, the God of his ancestors. (2 Chronicles 28:22-25, NRSV)
In the time of his distress did he trespass yet more against the Lord: this is that king Ahaz. For he sacrificed unto the gods of Damascus, which smote him: and he said, Because the gods of the kings of Syria help them, therefore will I sacrifice to them, that they may help me. But they were the ruin of him, and of all Israel. And Ahaz gathered together the vessels of the house of God, and cut in pieces the vessels of the house of God, and shut up the doors of the house of the Lord, and he made him altars in every corner of Jerusalem. And in every several city of Judah he made high places to burn incense unto other gods, and provoked to anger the Lord God of his fathers. (2 Chronicles 28:22-25, KJV)
If there's one tradition you do not want to ignore, it's the very first commandment. God was pretty clear on this one—"you shall have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:3). Disobeying this rule was a bad habit of many of the Kings of Judah and almost all the Kings of Israel. But Ahaz was fickle. He wasn't having any luck in battle so he figured he'd do what seemed to be working for his opponents.
The king stood in his place and made a covenant before the Lord, to follow the Lord, keeping his commandments, his decrees, and his statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant that were written in this book. Then he made all who were present in Jerusalem and in Benjamin pledge themselves to it. And the inhabitants of Jerusalem acted according to the covenant of God, the God of their ancestors. Josiah took away all the abominations from all the territory that belonged to the people of Israel, and made all who were in Israel worship the Lord their God. All his days they did not turn away from following the Lord the God of their ancestors. (2 Chronicles 34:31-33, NRSV)
The king stood in his place, and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep his commandments, and his testimonies, and his statutes, with all his heart, and with all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant which are written in this book. And he caused all that were present in Jerusalem and Benjamin to stand to it. And the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers. And Josiah took away all the abominations out of all the countries that pertained to the children of Israel, and made all that were present in Israel to serve, even to serve the Lord their God. And all his days they departed not from following the Lord, the God of their fathers. (2 Chronicles 34:31-33, KJV)
Josiah's high priest had just found a book of the laws of Moses while doing some renovations in the Temple. Josiah freaks out about what he just read. Scholars believe that the book the priest discovered was probably Deuteronomy, which contains, among a zillion laws, a list of terrible curses that will befall the nation that doesn't obey God's commandments. So Josiah wastes no time in getting with the program. The language here—"with all his heart, and with all his soul," is a direct quote from Deuteronomy 6:5. If you ever really need to scare someone to death, try those Deuteronomy curses: locusts, plagues, madness, blindness, and starvation, just for starters. No wonder Josiah was afraid.
Josiah kept a passover to the Lord in Jerusalem; they slaughtered the passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the first month. He appointed the priests to their offices and encouraged them in the service of the house of the Lord. He said to the Levites who taught all Israel and who were holy to the Lord, "Put the holy ark in the house that Solomon son of David, king of Israel, built; you need no longer carry it on your shoulders. Now serve the Lord your God and his people Israel. Make preparations by your ancestral houses by your divisions, following the written directions of King David of Israel and the written directions of his son Solomon. Take position in the holy place according to the groupings of the ancestral houses of your kindred the people, and let there be Levites for each division of an ancestral house. Slaughter the passover lamb, sanctify yourselves, and on behalf of your kindred make preparations, acting according to the word of the Lord by Moses." (2 Chronicles 35:1-6, NRSV)
Josiah kept a passover unto the Lord in Jerusalem: and they killed the passover on the fourteenth day of the first month. And he set the priests in their charges, and encouraged them to the service of the house of the Lord, And said unto the Levites that taught all Israel, which were holy unto the Lord, Put the holy ark in the house which Solomon the son of David king of Israel did build; it shall not be a burden upon your shoulders: serve now the Lord your God, and his people Israel, And prepare yourselves by the houses of your fathers, after your courses, according to the writing of David king of Israel, and according to the writing of Solomon his son. And stand in the holy place according to the divisions of the families of the fathers of your brethren the people, and after the division of the families of the Levites. So kill the passover, and sanctify yourselves, and prepare your brethren, that they may do according to the word of the Lord by the hand of Moses. (2 Chronicles 35:1-6, KJV)
Josiah continues the tradition of observing the passover sacrifice at the Temple in Jerusalem. Probably thinking of all those curses, he makes sure it's all done according to ancient custom.