The Chronicler's Jehoshaphat

Ray Dillard *

Trinity Journal 7.1 (1986): 17-22.
[Reproduced by permission]

* Westminster Theological Seminary

One feature of the Chronicler's historiography that has become increasingly clear in the last decade of research has been his penchant for patterning portions of his account after earlier events. The building of the temple recapitulates themes from the construction of the tabernacle; the relationship of Solomon and Huramabi is made to parallel that of Bezalel and Oholiab.[1] R. Braun has shown that the Chronicler's portrayal of Solomon was in part shaped by his treatment of David;[2] H. G. M. Williamson has argued convincingly that the succession of David and Solomon was modeled on the earlier succession account covering the transition of power from Moses to Joshua.[3] The author's handling of Hezekiah is similary influenced by his prior portraits of David and Solomon.[4] H. G. M. Williamson has also convincingly demonstrated that the Chronicler shaped his account of the reign of Ahaz (2 Chr 28) in such a way as to show that the depths of apostasy that had characterized the North during the reign of Jeroboam at the time of the schism had also characterized the South under Ahaz.[5] In each of these cases an earlier incident or narrative is chosen almost as a "type scene"[6] for some subsequent account. One thesis of this article is that the Chronicler has used the Asa narratives as a model for his account of Jehoshaphat.


When one compares the handling of Jehoshaphat in Kings and Chronicles, the disparity of length in the two accounts is immediately apparent. Though the deuteronomic historian notes his accession in 1 Kgs 15:24, the larger context in Kings is more concerned with the northern kingdom (1 Kgs 15:25–16:34), and particularly with the reign of Ahab as the backdrop for the ministry of Elijah (1 Kgs 17–21). The deuteronomic historian gives only the briefest account of Jehoshaphat's reign, most of which is the largely formulaic language of the introduction and conclusion (1 Kgs 22:41–50). Though the battle for Ramoth-gilead is found in both accounts (1 Kgs 22:1–40; 2 Chr 18:1–19:3), in Kings the context makes the primary function of that narrative to account for the death of Ahab, but in Chronicles the same account is put to quite different use. The Chronicler's use of the Micaiah narrative will be the second focus of this paper.

I. Asa as a Model for Jehoshaphat

In contrast to Kings, the Chronicler devotes considerable attention to Jehoshaphat (2 Chr 17–20), devoting nearly as much attention to his reign as to that of Hezekiah (2 Chr 29–32) and giving him an unqualified endorsement (22:9; contrast 20:33). The Chronicler had also considerably expanded his account of the preceding reign of Asa, and his Asa narrative appears to have served as a paradigm for his account of Jehosphaphat. The following parallels should be noted:

(1) Both accounts concern pious kings whose reigns could be outlined as follows: (a) reform, building programs, and large armies (2 Chron 14:2–8; 17:1–19); (b) battle report (14:9–15; 18:1–19:3); (c) reform (15:1–19; 19:4–11); (d) battle report (16:1–9; 20:1–30); (e) transgression and death (16:10–14; 20:31–21:1).

In addition to the similarity of outline for the two accounts, Asa's second battle and Jehoshaphat's first both involve the northern kingdom, once as an enemy (16:1–9) and once as an ally (18:1–19:3); in both of these cases the kings of Judah are condemned for their wrongdoing. Similarly Asa's second reform and Jehoshaphat's first both include references to teaching priests and to travel between cities (15:3, 5; 17:8–9). The reform accounts in both reigns are thought by many scholars to be duplicates of the same event: Asa's suppression of heterodox worship (14:2–15) may have been one aspect of the reforms endorsed by Azariah the prophet (15:1–19); Jehoshaphat's teaching mission (17:7–9) may have been the reflex of a larger judicial reform (19:4–11).

(2) Both kings are said to have suppressed the high places (14:2–5; 17:6) and not to have done so (15:17; 20:33).[7]


(3) Both enjoy the rewards of their piety in building programs (14:7; 17:2, 12), peace (14:1; 17:10), large armies (14:8; 17:12–19). God was with both (15:9; 17:3), and the fear of Yahweh was on the nations (14:14; 17:10; 20:29) during their reigns.

(4) Prophets indict both for their entangling foreign alliances (16:7–9; 19:1–3; cf. 20:35–37).[8]

(5) The Chronicler may be indicating his intention to parallel the accounts of Asa and Jehoshaphat by his twice comparing Jehoshaphat to his father (2 Chron 17:3;[9] 20:32 // 1 Kgs 22:43);[10] Asa and Jehoshaphat are explicitly paired together as a standard of comparison against Jehoram in 2 Chron 21:12.

One must not underestimate, however, the differences between the Chronicler's narrative of Asa and Jehoshaphat. Williamson[11] finds a marked contrast with the Chronicler's account of Asa in the lack of a rigid chronological framework for the reign of Jehoshaphat. Though there are two battle reports for each king, the sequence is reversed: Asa begins with a victory during a period of fidelity, but ends with an alliance that provoked prophetic rebuke.[12] The reverse is true for Jehoshaphat: he is compromised by his alliance with Ahab (19:1–3), but his next battle (2 Chr 20) is more like Asa's first.


Though the Chronicler has devoted much more space to this king than did the deuteronomic historian, one should not overstate the contrast between the two histories. Most of the account in Kings is cited nearly verbatim by the Chronicler (1 Kgs 22:1–35 // 2 Chr 18:2–34; 1 Kgs 22:41–46, 49// 2 Chr 20:31–36). Of those portions unique to Chronicles, many were probably stimulated as elaborations on themes alluded to in the deuteronomic account, suggesting a greater influence for the author's Kings Vorlage than might be apparent simply from noting verbatim parallels. The following issues mentioned in Kings may have precipitated the Chronicler's elaboration: the issue of the high places (1 Kgs 22:43; cf. 2 Chr 17:3–6), the comparison with Asa (1 Kgs 22:43; 2 Chr 17:3; 20:32), peace with Israel (1 Kgs 22:44; cf. 2 Chr 17:1; 18:1), his military exploits (1 Kgs 22:45), particularly with reference to Edom (1 Kgs 22:47; 2 Chr 20).

The basic compositional influence for the Chronicler's record of Jehoshaphat is the same as for his accounts of other reigns-his theology of immediate retribution.[13] Fidelity and obedience are rewarded with building programs, wealth and honor, peace and victory, but infidelity is greeted with swift rebuke (19:1–3) and punishment (20:37).

II. The Micaiah Narrative in Chronicles (2 Chr 18:1-19:3)

The appearance of Micaiah before Ahab and Jehoshaphat is the only extended prophetic narrative in Chronicles; its inclusion in these books is all the more surprising in light of the author's comparative disinterest in the affairs of the northern kingdom. Commentators have commonly attributed its inclusion to the Chronicler's desire to portray a true prophet or to continue a positive portrayal of Jehoshaphat's fidelity to the Lord (18:4); neither of these reasons is compelling in light of the numerous other prophetic narratives the Chronicler omitted from his Vorlage and in light of the author's verdict on the entire incident (19:1–3).

In so far as we attempt to read the author's mind, his modifications at the beginning and end of the story (18:1; 19:1–3) probably provide the key to his inclusion of this narrative. If it is correct that the Chronicler has consciously sought to model Jehoshaphat in the image of his father Asa, as argued in the first part of this paper, since Asa had received a prophet's condemnation for his involvement in a foreign alliance (16:1–9), the inclusion of this incident perfects the parallel between the two kings. The Chronicler makes it clear that this is his interest by inserting into his Vorlage at the outset the note that Jehoshaphat had "allied himself by marriage with Ahab" (18:1). This small modification sets the stage for what is much more explicit in the concluding paragraph of the narrative (19:1–3). The notices with which both historians conclude their accounts give the moral of their narratives: the deuteronomic historian ends his account by emphasizing the fulfillment of the prophetic word in the death of Ahab (1 Kgs 22:36–39), an emphasis important throughout the deuteronomic history (Deut 18:14–22).[14]


Chronicles does not show much interest in the affairs of the northern kingdom, and the author does not report all the prophecies speaking of Ahab's death;[15] the moral of the story in Kings (1 Kgs 22:36–40) would then be somewhat irrelevant when placed in the context of the Chronicler's history. The Chronicler omits this notice from his Vorlage and replaces it with a moral equally important to him, that righteous kings must trust Yahweh and avoid entangling foreign alliances (19:1–3; cf. 16:1–9; 20:35–37; 25:6–8; 28:16–23). We have in effect two sermons from the same text, each of the histories putting the same narrative to different purposes. The concluding notice of such parallel narratives is also diagnostic of the author's intent, for example, in the accounts of David's census:[16] the Chronicler, who is so reluctant to report any wrongdoing on the part of David, includes the census narrative in order to account for the acquisition of the temple site (1 Chr 21:29–22:1; 2 Chr 3:1), information not included in the deuteronomic account (2 Sam 24).

The discussion of the Micaiah narrative has focused on its literary history prior to attaining its canonical form in 1 Kgs 22.[17] The major issues have concerned (1) the identification of its form critical genre (political narrative, prophetic narrative, battle report), (2) the isolation of sources, (3) the sequence and nature of the redaction of the earlier materials, (4) the question of whether Ahab was always the "king of Israel" in the original narrative, and (5) the contribution of this account to the debate about false vs. true prophecy.[18] Both Wiirthwein and de Vries isolate two separate sources combined with each other in a complex history of redaction, though the methodology and results of both are most tenuous and hypercritical.[19] De Vries provides a history of research in the pericope.[20]

In a sense, however, all the traditional critical tools are irrelevant at this point for the Chronicles: the Chronicler himself would have been ignorant of any literary history for the narrative and would have received it in roughly


its present form in 1 Kgs 22; speculation about its literary history is more properly the province of a commentary or study on Kings. The Chronicler, however, does represent one more step in the redactional process and has taken a previous unit of tradition into the service of his own interests.[21]


[1] I have pointed out the ways in which the author has paralleled Solomon and Huram-abi with Bezalel and Oholiab in an earlier article, "The Chronicler's Solomon," WTJ 43 (1980) 289-300. See also S. Abramsky, "The Chronicler's View of King Solomon," Erlsr 16 (1982) 3-14. The parallels drawn between the builders of the two sanctuaries are only one part of the Chronicler's effort to portray the construction of the temple as a second tabernacle. For example, the Chronicler emphasizes the divine origin of the plans (1 Chr 28:19 // Exod 31:18; 25:9, 40), the generosity of the people (1 Chr 29:19 // Exod 36:37), and use of plunder in the construction (1 Chr 18:7-11; 26:26-28 // Exod 3:21-22; 11:23; 12:35-36; 25:3; cf. Isa 60:47, 10-14).

[2] R. Braun, Solomonic Apologetic in Chronicles," JBL 92 (1973) 503-16.

[3] H. G. M. Williamson, "The Accession of Solomon in the Books of Chronicles," VT 26 (1976) 351-61.

[4] F. Moriarty, "The Chronicler's Account of Hezekiahs Reform," CBQ 27 (1965) 399-406; M. Throntveit, "The Significance of the Royal Speeches and Prayers for the Structure and Theology of the Chronicler" (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Union Theological Seminary in Virginia, 1982) 155-60.

[5] H. G. M. Williamson, Israel in the Books of Chronicles (Cambridge: University Press, 1977) 114-18; 1 and 2 Chronicles (NCB; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982) 343-49.

[6] I am borrowing and perhaps slightly skewing the terminology of Robert Alter ("How Convention Helps us Read: the Case of the Bible's Annunciation Type-Scenes," Prooftexts 3 [1983] 115-30; "Biblical Type-Scenes and the Uses of Convention," CriticalInquiry 5 [1978] 355-68). The frequency with which these modeled recapitulations are found in Chronicles argues that such patterned historiography is a part of that distinct and intricate code adopted by the Chronicler from the recognized conventions of narrative literatrue operating in his own culture, i.e., they are one part of that repertoire of devices that constitute his narrative grammar. The parallels drawn by the Chronicler are shrewdly developed, artfully staged, subtly arranged artifices (Alter, "Annunciation Type-Scenes," 116) that draw a significant analogy between aspects of two different narratives: these "perceptible artful devices" (Alter, 117) deploy episodes or narratives so that the author's themes are clearly enunciated or heightened.

[7] Such flagrant "contradictions" occurring twice in sequential accounts deserve a better explanation than an ad hoc appeal to careless or forgetful later redactors. The fact that the Chronicler repeats the statements made of Asa regarding the high places is eloquent testimony that both seemingly contradictory statements were original with Chronicles and were included in the account of Jehoshaphat to perfect the parallel between the two kings. The two statements must then have cohered in the mind of the original author, and it is not hard to provide scenarios by which the statements can be harmonized. The statements that both kings did and did not remove the high places would most naturally apply to quite different periods in their reigns and could best be understood as indicative of the resilience of the indigenous pagan cults that plagued Judahs history rather than as some editorial lapse.

[8] For the Chronicler foreign alliances contradicted exclusive reliance on God; this theme had great relevance for his post-exilic audience. See R. Dillard, "Reward and Punishment in Chronicles: the Theology of Immediate Retribution," WTJ 46 (1984) 164-72.

[9] The textual difficulty with 2 Chr 17:3 is important in this regard. The MT compares Asa with his father David. However, a few Hebrew mss. and LXX omit the word "David" from this verse. The Chronicler does not divide the reign of David into periods of good vs. evil as is done in the dueteronomic history; to the contrary he idealizes David in such a way that his rule is virtually sinless, so that it would contradict the author's own portrayal of David to contrast his "earlier ways" (|) with a later period of his life. Omitting the word "David", the immediate antecedent would be Asa, for whom the Chronicler does present a chronological schema dividing the earlier good years from the later evil ones. Furthermore Jehoshaphat is specifically compared to Asa in the parallel history and later in the Chronicler's own narrative (1 Kgs 22:43 // 2 Chr 20:32). Since David is so often a standard of comparison, it is easy to see why a scribe might gloss the text with his name at this point; none of the typical types of scribal errors would readily account for its omission in the LXX.

[10] The Chronicler nowhere else explicity compares a king with his father twice. He does compare Rehoboam to David and Solomon (2 Chr 11:17), Uzziah to Amaziah (26:4), and Jotham to Uzziah (27:2), and he explicitly contrasts Manasseh to Hezekiah (33:3). Though the deuteronomic historian had compared Amaziah to his fatherJoash (2 Kgs 14:3), the Chronicler omits this from his account (2 Chr 25).

[11] 1 and 2 Chronicles 278.

[12] The omission of such chronological notes could reflect deliberate "dischronologization" of Jehoshaphat's reign by the Chronicler to facilitate his drawing parallels with Asa. This solution would require taking the chronological notes in connection with Asa all the more carefully; see R. Dillard, "The Reign of Asa (2 Chronicles 14-16): an Example of the Chronicler's Theological Method," JETS 23 (1980) 207-18; W. Rudolph, "Der Aufbau der Asa-Geschichte," VT2 (1952) 367-71.

[13] See Dillard, "Reward and Punishment".

[14] See the convenient summary in G. von Rad, "The Deuteronomic Theology of History in I and II Kings," The Problem of the Hexateuch and Other Essays (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1966), 208-12.

[15] Of course 2 Chr 18 reports the fulfillment of Micaiah's prophecy, but not of 1 Kgs 20:42 or 21:19-29. 1 Kgs 22:26-40 appears to allude to 1 Kgs 21:19; though many of the details change due to Ahab's repentance (1 Kgs 21:27-29), the dogs still lick up his blood. The image of dogs licking up the blood or devouring a corpse is common in Kings, particularly as a formulaic judgment on the end of a dynasty (1 Kgs 14:11; 16:4; 21:19-23, 24; 22:38; 2 Kgs 9:10, 36); it does not occur in Chronicles.

[16] R. Dillard, "David's Census: Perspectives on 2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21," Through Christs Word (ed. R. Godfrey and J. Boyd; Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1985) 94-107.

[17] E. Würthwein, "Zur Komposition von 1 Reg 22:1-38," Das ferne und nace Wort (ed. F. Maass; BZAW 105; Berlin: Toppelmann, 1967); H. Seebass, "Zur 1 Reg 22:35-38," VT 21 (1971) 380-432; S. de Vries, Prophet Against Prophet (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978).

[18] J. Crenshaw, Prophetic Conflict (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1971) 83-5.

[19] Da Vries provides an extensive and quite speculative reconstruction of the redaction history of the narrative in 1 Kgs 22, but he does not analyse as a redaction critical stage the one clear case where the sources are evident and not speculative, i.e., the Chronicler's own redacting of the earlier narrative. Supposing for a moment that we had only the version of the Micaiah narrative found in 2 Chr 18:1-19:3, would any practitioner of redaction criticism have been able to reconstruct an earlier stage for this narrative placing it in a context similar to the one it has in Kings? Such an exercise constitutes a clear warning of the vagaries and subjectivity that can attach to redaction critical agruments based on hypothetical or reconstructed sources.

[20] Prophet 47.

[21] In addition to his changing the moral of the narrative by modifying the beginning and end of the account from what was found in his Vorlage, the Chronicler had introduced a few other more or less minor changes. Jehoshaphat's status is enhanced while Ahab's is attenuated (2 Chr 18:2 vs. 1 Kgs 22:3). The Chronicler also specifies the nature of Jehoshaphat's crying out as prayer during the battle (18:31 // 1 Kgs 22:32; however, the inclusion of the phrase "and God saved him" in Lucianic texts of Bas suggests that the phrase was probably already found in the Chronicler's Vorlage of 1 Kgs 22:32. See the discussion of the textual evidence in de Vries, Prophet 13-18.

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