painting, Queen of Sheba in the Temple of Solomon

Studying 2 Chronicles 7 12-22 – again

We are studying 2 Chronicles 7:12-22 this week – God’s answer to Solomon’s dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem. “Solomon’s Temple,” or the First Temple. This concludes the Chronicler’s account of Solomon’s construction and dedication of that centrally important building.

We studied this text almost five years ago, and notes on the text are here from March 2018. I didn’t see much to add to those!

Except this. The distribution of conditional and unconditional statements (see vv 13, 14, 17, 19) is clearer and less ambiguous in English than it is in Hebrew, especially in vv 13 and 14. The language of conditionality is marked clearly in vv 17 and 19 – that is, if Solomon will walk before God’s’ face the way David did, that will entail one outcome. If, on the other hand, you-all turn and worship and serve other Gods, then matters will be different. Those are markedly conditional promises.

Noteworthy, too: the promise or threat in v19 is addressed to you plural, not to Solomon singularly.

The instruction in vv13 and 14, however, is just not as clear. Everything might really be prediction: Look here, this is going to happen. I, God, will bring drought and locusts and plague. And they, the people, will humble themselves and pray and seek me and turn. And I will forgive. Although that forgiveness has a definite conditional feel: I, God, will forgive, assuming – IF– they do all that.

It may also be noteworthy that ritual sacrifice is not one of the explicit conditions. We might assume it would be, since this is a temple – a house of sacrifice. We might assume that the turning demanded will involve the performance of sacrifice. But God’s conditional language doesn’t say that. Prayer, yes. Turning, yes. Giving up wickedness, yes. Bringing thousands of rams and ten thousands of rivers of olive oil, no.

One more thing: not one verse from 2 Chronicles is in the Revised Common Lectionary. This is an entire book we wouldn’t know was in the Bible if all we knew were the Lectionary. Bible Content Examinees, be warned.

Some questions on the text are here.

Image: “The Queen of Sheba before the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalsm,” Salomon de Bray, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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