When we place too much faith in national leadership, problems emerge. God may send his prophets to critique us, but will we listen?
Originally a single work, 1 and 2 Kings was first divided into two books by the Greek translators (second century B.C.), and English Bibles follow this pattern
All the books from Joshua to 2 Kings may be the work of one author or editor, who is using older writings and records to retell the whole story
We follow the parallel stories of both kingdoms, until the northern kingdom is defeated by the Assyrians with the capture of Samaria in 722 BC. After that we follow the history of Judah until Jerusalem is captured and destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 BC. The whole story covers a period of 500 years.
Most of Israel’s kings fail her. Even Solomon, who asks God for wisdom and builds the temple, makes foolish compromises with paganism
The kings of Israel, the Northern Kingdom, were invariably idolatrous, while the kings of Judah, the Southern Kingdom, were sometimes good and sometimes evil.
During this period, the challenge to remain faithful to God is upheld by the prophets—especially Elijah and his younger companion and successor, Elisha.
It records the continued history of the divided nation and reports the sad story of the decline of both north and south, which resulted in captivity for both
The Septuagint version of the Old Testament divided the Chronicles into two parts and called them the ‘Annals’. Roman Catholic versions of the Bible have called the Chronicles ‘Paralipomena’, meaning ‘Things which were left out’. This is because the Chronicles provide extra information which is missing from the books of Kings
We don’t know who wrote or edited the Chronicles. For convenience, the writer is called ‘the Chronicler’, and for a long time it was thought the writer might be Ezra.
Ezra would have been an expert in the long list of ancestors. He would also have understood the history of Israel in the light of God’s purpose for his people. However, the story continues after the time of Ezra, and is obviously the work of another person or group as well.
The same as is recorded in 1 and 2 Kings—from the reign of King Solomon (971–931) through all the kings of Judah to Zedekiah (597–586), the last king before the captivity in Babylon.
Though not a large building, it was magnificent, containing 120,000,000 ounces of gold and more than a billion ounces of silver. No wonder the wealth and glory of Solomon’s kingdom took away the breath of the Queen of Sheba when she visited him (10:5)! This Temple stood for about 375 years until it was destroyed by the Babylonians.
In spite of God’s repeated warnings from the mouths of His prophets, Israel and Judah chose to reject their Lord and to participate in the worship of foreign gods, in addition to committing the horrible practices that accompanied idolatry
The person or group who wrote the Chronicles (sometimes called ‘the Chronicler’) wants to show how God has dealt with his people throughout their history. The great kings and the temple may be long gone, but God’s promises and purpose for Israel still continue
It is compiled and written for the Israelites who have returned from exile, to remind them who they are. It may seem that Israel is a poor, small, weak nation on the fringes of the Persian empire. However, the reality is that God is still their king and he has a continuing calling and mission for his people.
In the Hebrew Bible, Ezra and Nehemiah were initially one book. English Bibles follow the Latin translator Jerome, who named the two parts Ezra and Nehemiah. Others have used the titles 1 and 2 Ezra.
Jewish tradition held that Ezra the priest composed the single work Ezra-Nehemiah.
The book describes two groups who returned, the first in 538 B.C. under the leadership of Zerubbabel, and the second in 457 under Ezra
The first group of returning exiles restored worship of the LORD, culminating in a rebuilt temple, but Ezra, who led the second group, reestablished Israelite community under Mosaic law, culminating in putting away mixed marriages.
The book describes two restorations from Babylonian captivity. First, more than 40,000 Israelites returned under Sheshbazzar (530s B.C.). Second, a smaller group accompanied Ezra, whose goal was to teach the people the law of Moses (about 458 B.C.).
The returnees therefore had to press their claim to ancient entitlements in the land against local opposition.
Intermarriage with pagan tribes has led to idolatry in the past, even for wise King Solomon himself. The book of Esther takes a more open view, that God can bless and use a marriage which takes place across a racial boundary. Moses himself had foreign wives
A contemporary of Ezra (of the preceding book) and of the prophet Malachi (who wrote the last book in the Old Testament), Nehemiah was a “cupbearer” to King Artaxerxes I (464–423) of Persia
Chapters 1–7 and 12:27–13:30 appear to be copied from “The Memoirs of Nehemiah”
From Nehemiah’s prayer for Israel until his second term as governor (about 446–430 B.C.)
The Lord hears prayer (1:4–6).
The message of the book of Nehemiah is that God’s work is never easy and never complete
At the end of the book of Nehemiah, we see a nation under a dictatorship of strict moral and religious rules. Nehemiah is proud that he has excluded foreigners and evicted his enemy Tobiah from the temple. He is pleased to have forced visiting traders to observe the sabbath rest. He has dealt severely with Jews who have foreign wives and children. But the regime does not convey the real nature and love of God; and it doesn’t work
Esther is a Jewish exile who became queen of Persia (ca. 480 BC).
The book is anonymous, but according to Jewish tradition the author was Mordecai. There is no reason he could not have composed the book, since he was an eyewitness to everything that occurred
This event happened during a ten-year portion (483–473) of the reign of King Ahasuerus (his Greek name was Xerxes I, 486–465) and between the time Zerubbabel led his group back to Palestine and Ezra led his
This book is famous because it does not directly mention God. Yet one cannot understand the story apart from God’s remarkable presence and providence with his people—however invisible he may seem to be at times
Purim is the springtime holiday established in Esth 9:18–32 in commemoration of the salvation of the Jews.
The author quotes the place in which the story is set (a provincial capital, Susa) and the date (the third year of the king’s reign). If this is a novel, it is based on many accurate facts
Everything that a man leans upon but God will be a dart that will certainly pierce his heart through and through.… He that leans only upon the bosom of Christ lives the highest, choicest, safest, and sweetest life.