Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Living Lessons from Dead Kings: Lesson 08 - “Compromise Comes Home to Roost” - 2 Chronicles 21-22


The article with this lesson is about how the author will use the pace he tells about different parts of the story to indicate what is important to him in the story.
2.  At this point the kingdom of Judah seems to have come under the strong influence of Israel culturally and religiously.  The unusually frequent references to the northern kingdom and kings is evidence of this.
6.  The faithfulness of God to keep his promise to David through this dark time can be highlighted with this question.  Do you or your men remember dark times in your life where God’s faithfulness was evident?
Digging deeper gives the men an opportunity to practice what they learned in the article.
1. While we tend to be a little less obvious in our culture, I suspect we can identify examples of taking a cheap utilitarian view of life.
2. I titled this lesson “Compromise Comes Home to Roost” to remind us that much of the tragedy in this lesson are a result of Jehoshaphat’s alliance with Ahab.  We should take some time to think about what kind of legacy we are giving our descendants. 
4. This question gives you the opportunity to discuss the original context of people in post-exile Judah reading this.  Then move toward applications for our time and culture.

Lesson 08 - “Compromise Comes Home to Roost” - 2 Chronicles 21-22
ID: Inductive Questions (Asking the text questions like who, what, where, when, why, & how?”)
CR: Cross References (Comparing Scripture to Scripture, understanding the vague by the clear.)
WS: Word Study (Understanding definition, theological meaning, and usages in other passages.)

The WORD: What does the Bible say?

Context: In this lesson we will explore some nearly catastrophic results of Jehoshaphat’s ill-advised alliance with Ahab as it plays out through the corrupting influence of Athaliah on Jehoram and Ahaziah.  We will wait to cover the revolt against Athaliah in the lesson on Joash.  This sad story unfolds in 2 Chronicles 21-22.  (2 Kings 8-9 & 11 include parallel accounts.)    

1.     ID:  (21:2-7)  What was the point of mentioning all of Jehoshaphat’s sons and what he had given them?  What did Jehoram do to establish himself as King?  How did God show His faithfulness in this dark time?

2.     ID:  (ch. 21-22)  How many mentions of or allusions to Ahab, Omri, or the northern kingdom of Israel are there in these two chapters?  What does that tell us about Judah at this time?

3.     ID:  (21:12-15)  What verses confirm the specific sins and consequences pronounced in Elijah’s letter?

4.     ID:  (22:6-9)  How / why did Ahaziah die?  Why did he die?

5.     CR:  Who was Athaliah?  How did she become the next ruler? (2 Kings 8:18, 26; 11:1-2, 20; 2 Chr. 21:6; 22:10-12; 23:15)  

6.     ID:  (22:10-12)  Who did God use to save and preserve the lineage of King David?

Digging deeper:  (See article with this lesson.)  The amount of dialogue or narration for an event can indicate its importance to the narrator.  What events or dialogue in these chapters are told in more detail?  Why do you think the chronicler emphasized those?  What is his point?

The WALK: What should I do?

1.     We shudder at the treacherous brutality of Athaliah as she ruthlessly killed children to advance her power and position.   Do we see anything similar in our world today?

2.     What influences would pull you toward evil?  How do you minimize their effect?

3.     Even though Jehoshaphat was a godly man himself, his relationship with Israel had a profound effect on his children, grandchildren, and country.  What are you doing that will have a significant impact on your descendents (for good or bad)?

4.     How would these chapters been an encouragement (and caution) to the post-exile Jews in Judah?  What encouragements do they have for us?

Hermeneutical Guidelines

The following hermeneutical guidelines can help exegetes recapture the "mode of perception that was second nature to the original audiences."9             

3.    Observe the Pace At Which the Story Unfolds

While tracking the plot, an interpreter should observe the pace at which a narrative unfolds. Literary scholars differentiate between "narration time" and "narrated time." Narration time refers to "objective time outside" the narrative, while narrated time refers to "literary time inside it."34 In other words narration time equals the time required for telling or reading the narrative, and narrated time consists of the time within a narrative. Narrated time is subject to gaps, delays, acceleration, and even movement in different directions.35

Apart from its role within the narrative itself, such as providing emphases or implying connections between separate incidents, narrated time can fulfill direct functions for the reader, such as creating suspense or determining attitudes…. Since the decision as to what to include and what to omit, what to convey rapidly and on what to dwell at length, is closely bound up with the importance of the various subjects, the character of time as it is shaped within the narrative will be of great value in any attempt to analyze and interpret the narrative.36

In the Judah-Tamar story verses 1–11 move rapidly to lay the groundwork for subsequent events.37

Genesis 38 begins with Judah fathering three sons, one after another, recorded in breathless pace. Here, as at other points in the episode, nothing is allowed to detract our focused attention from the primary, problematic subject of the proper channel for the seed…. In a triad of verbs that admits nothing adventitious, Judah sees, takes, lies with a woman; and she, responding appropriately, conceived, bears and…gives the son a name. Then, with no narrative indication of any events at all in the intervening time, we move ahead an entire generation to the inexplicable death…of Er, Judah's firstborn, after his marriage to Tamar.38

After Genesis 38:12 signals a sizable time gap ("Now after a considerable time," lit., "the days became many"), the action slows down as it enters the heart of the story. Verses 12–23 linger on Judah's sexual liaison with the disguised Tamar and his unsuccessful attempt to make payment. Then the action accelerates again in verse 24. While the quick pace in verses 1–11 presented background information, the return to a pace in verse 24 enables the narrative to proceed "quickly to its dramatic climax."39

Alter points out that verbs tend to dominate "biblical narration of the essential," and so, "at intervals we encounter sudden dense concentrations or unbroken chains of verbs, usually attached to a single subject, which indicate some particular intensity, rapidity, or a single-minded purposefulness of activity."40 For example Genesis 22:9–11 piles up action verbs, forcing the reader to agonize with Abraham as he builds the altar, arranges the wood, ties up his son Isaac, lays him on the altar, reaches out and takes the knife, and prepares to kill Isaac.

Earlier in Genesis 22 the narrator suspends the action as he relates God's instructions to Abraham. Four phrases slow down the narrated time. With each phrase, the tension builds as the specificity increases. God said, "Take your son…the only son you have…the one you love…Isaac" (Gen 22:2a, author's trans.).  (Continue reading this article in the next lesson or read it all at

[9] Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative, 62.

[34] Bar-Efrat, Narrative Art in the Bible, 143.

[35] Ibid., 142.

[36] Ibid., 142-43.

[37] Mathewson, "An Exegetical Study of Genesis 38," 376-81. "The real action in the Judah-Tamar story begins at vs. 12ff . But for the reader to understand this extremely odd occurrence the narrator must first acquaint him with a few conditions" (Gerhard von Rad, Genesis, trans. John H. Marks [London: SCM, 1961], 352).

[38] Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative, 6.

[39] Von Rad, Genesis, 355.

[40] Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative, 80.