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The Access Bible New Revised Standard Bible, written and edited with first-time Bible readers in mind.

Reading Guide

When recounting a story of Israel's past, the Chronicler skillfully weaves personal encounters and community responses. A characteristic narrative is the account of the reign of Judah's King Asa (2 Chr 14–16 ). It opens with the land having “rest,” in part because Asa “did what was good and right” in God's view and “commanded Judah to seek the LORD” (2 Chr 14.4 ). He orders his people to build fortifications around the urban areas since “the land is still ours because we have sought the LORD our God…and he has given us peace on every side” (2 Chr 14.7 ). This sense of security is challenged by Zerah the “Ethiopian,” who comes with a million-man army to attack Judah. Asa offers a simple petition for help, and “the LORD defeated the Ethiopians” (2 Chr 14.12 ). Fresh from this great victory, the Chronicler has an otherwise unattested prophet * confront the king in a decisive way. This is similar to the style of the Greek historian Herodotus, who uses the figures of various wise counselors to present a ruler with a choice to follow wisdom or pride. In Asa's case, it is “Azariah the son of Oded” who gives voice to the central theological theme of the Chronicler: “The LORD is with you, while you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you abandon him, he will abandon you” (2 Chr 15.2 ). Taking heart from the prophet's message, Asa convenes all his subjects (Judah and Benjamin) as well as those faithful from the northern kingdom who had joined with Judah (2 Chr 15.9–10 ). After sacrificing to God, the assembled populace “entered into covenant * to seek the LORD, the God of their ancestors, with all their heart and with all their soul” (v. 12 ), an echo of Israel's basic credo of Deut 6.4–5 . To emphasize the seriousness of this act, the Chronicler adds that whoever did not join with the covenant “should be put to death” (v. 13 ). Not wanting to close on a negative note, the Chronicler portrays the community enthusiastically embracing this arrangement: “All Judah rejoiced over the oath; for they had sworn with all their heart, and had sought him with their whole desire, and he was found by them, and the LORD gave them rest all around” (v. 15 ). This is a paradigm that the Chronicler uses frequently: the king being presented with the need to “seek” God and then the community actively and joyously embracing God.

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