Week Seventeen Reading Assignment:
2 Chronicles 2 - 2 Chronicles 24
"Let your Scriptures be my chaste delight... O Lord, perfect me and reveal those pages to me! See, your voice is my joy; your voice surpasses all abundance of pleasures... May the inner secrets of your words be laid open to me when I knock. This I beg by our Lord Jesus Christ... in whom are hidden all the treasurers of wisdom and knowledge. These are the treasures I seek in your books."
This Week's Teaching Video: Alphabetizing Old Testament History N & O
The Latter Prophets in Context
When we look at the Table of Contents in our Bibles, we see two broad divisions: The Old Testament (39 books) followed by the New Testament (27 books). The 39 Old Testament books are generally thought of in three major sections: 17 history books (Genesis through Esther), 5 writings or poetry books (Job through Song of Solomon), and 17 prophets (Isaiah through Malachi).
We have also observed along the way that the Hebrew Bible features the same 39 books as our Old Testament, but in somewhat different order and categories. Several of the books that we call "history" are understood in the Hebrew Bible as "former prophets." Meanwhile, most of those 17 books at the end of the Old Testament that we call "prophets" are understood in the Hebrew Bible as the "latter prophets."
Because they have their own individual books, and because we do not read them at the same time that we're reading the history books, those latter prophets are sometimes divorced from the history in our minds. That is , we don't think of them being part of the larger story. But in our reading of 2 Chronicles this week, we should note that this is where they come in. It is during the eras reported this week and next where those prophets belong.
We won't be reading the books of those "latter prophets" until several months from now. For the moment, however, suffice it to say that they all come during the "N," "O," and "P" portions of our Alphabetized Old Testament History. Or, more specifically, they come during the times of the Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian Empires.
The Divided Monarchy: "N"
After the death of Solomon, the twelve tribes of Israel divide into two separate kingdoms: the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. The reading from that point on toggles back and forth between the two kingdoms and their various kings.
The new era is known as the "divided monarchy" (as opposed to the "united monarchy" when all twelve tribes were ruled by a single king -- first Saul, then David, and finally Solomon). Roughly the first two centuries of the divided monar-chy comprise the "M" period in our alphabetized Old Testament history.
Then, around 740 BC, the Assyrian Empire begins to emerge on the horizon of biblical history. Assyria had been on the ascendancy prior to that time, but the mid-to-late 8th century is when it begins to impact the people of Israel and Judah. We have labeled the Assyrian era "N" in our Alphabetized Old Testament History, for "N" stands for Assyria's capital city, Nineveh.
The charts below reflect the order of the kings in each kingdom during the "N" period, as well as the probable years of their reigns. The other symbols are meant to give a quick analysis of what kinds of kings they were. A down arrow indicates some negative thing said about that particular king in the text, while a star indicates some positive thing.
Scholars debate the exact dates of certain kings, and the biblical record is not always entirely clear. The dates employed here represent the chronology published by the American Bible Society in the Good News Bible (c) 1976.