Through the Bible in a Year: 2 Kings 21-25

This Week’s Readings

Monday, June 11: 2 Kings 1-5
Tuesday, June 12: 2 Kings 6-10
Wednesday, June 13: 2 Kings 11-15
Thursday, June 14: 2 Kings 16-20
Friday, June 14: 2 Kings 21-25

Next week we will read Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon.

The overall year’s plan is here.

Little Apology

Um … oops. I’m supposed to have a blog up this morning. I’ve been moving back into my home in Selmer, TN, and now I’m moving back into my job at the warehouse and my job as a homeschooling father. I just forgot and taught a "Life Prep" class last night instead of doing this blog.

I’ll put it up chapter by chapter as I get it done. I just give you what I think God is giving me to give, so I’m never sure how long one of these will take.

The Bible’s the more important read anyway, especially now that you’ve got some foundation in it.

Does anyone look up the references I give when I refer to other Scriptures in my commentary? Those are like the stitching that holds the Book together. Scripture’s commentary on Scripture can be really amazing if someone shows you the references.

2 Kings 21

Manasseh was very evil, and that is all that is recorded in this chapter. 2 Chronicles 33 reports, however, that he was captured by the Assyrians at one point, repented, and was restored to his throne, where he began to serve the Lord, getting rid of the idols in Jerusalem.

The prayer of Manasseh is famous, though I’m sure no one knows if it’s genuine or not. It was put at the end of 2 Chronicles in the Latin Vulgate by Jerome. You can read about the prayer of Manasseh and read a couple translations of it at EarlyJewishWritings.com.

The Latin Vulgate and the Canon

There’s lots of rumors about how the Protestant church became settled on the 66 books that make up our Bible and the Roman Catholic Church settled on the 73 that make up theirs. Many claim that the Synod of Hippo in A.D. 393 established the Canon. (Others claim that the Council of Nicea established the Canon in 325, but there’s not even a grain of truth to that story.)

The Synod of Hippo did give a list of books to be in the Bible, but they had no authority to enforce it. Augustine was the bishop of Hippo, and a few years after the synod, he wrote:

Prefer those [books] that are received by all the catholic churches to those which some do not receive. (On Christian Doctrine II.8.12)

Clearly, the bishop of Hippo did not think the Synod of Hippo settled anything concerning the books of the Bible.

In fact, the only council in history that authoritatively dictated what books should be in the Bible was the Council of Trent that began in 1546 and ran for a number of years. Their authority carried only to the Roman Catholic Church, not to the Eastern Orthodox Churches, which have never officially set a canon in a council.

So why do Protestants use the 66 books they use? It is because the Latin Vulgate, translated by Jerome in the early 5th century, was the only Bible translation used by western churches for nearly a thousand years. It had our 66 books in it, plus the extra 7 "apocryphal" books the Roman Catholics approved at the Council of Trent in the 16th century (but in an appendix). Custom has always been more powerful than law, and a thousand years of custom is what established our canon of 66 books.

Manasseh reigned 55 years. It has always been interesting to me that an evil king reigned longer than any other king. Perhaps it was because of his repentance at some point in his life. In fact, perhaps his repentance happened late in life. Peter tells us that God is patient, giving time for everyone possible to come to repentance because he wants everyone to be saved (2 Pet. 3:9).

2 Kings 22

There is no telling how long the book of the Law had been shut up in the temple. It seems likely that it was only since Hezekiah’s reign, since Hezekiah was a diligent follower of Yahweh. Further, Isaiah was a prophet during Hezekiah’s reign, and Isaiah makes some clear references to the Law:

To the Law and to the Testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. (Isaiah 8:20)

This is a rebellious people, lying children, who will not listen to the Law of the Lord. (Isaiah 30:9)

2 Kings 23

In this chapter we see that the repentance of Manasseh could only have been a mild one. God is still intending to judge Israel for Manasseh’s sins, and Josiah had to remove altars that had Manasseh had put in the court of the Lord (v. 12). Manasseh hadn’t removed them himself.

The Jeremiah that was the maternal grandfather of Jehoahaz was not Jeremiah the prophet. Jeremiah was prophesying during the reign of the sons of Josiah, and he mentions Jeremiah of Libnah as the grandfather of Jehoahaz, too (Jer. 52:1). Two different Jeremiah’s.

2 Kings 24

Jehoiachin came out of Jerusalem to surrender after being besieged by the Babylonians. In surrendering, he probably hoped to secure more favor from Nebuchadnezzar, perhaps even keeping his reign as Nebuchadnezzar’s vassal. It didn’t work, though the king of Babylon did not kill him. He was taken prisoner, and his uncle was installed in his place.

His uncle is also listed as the son of Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah because he was Johoahaz’ brother (and thus Jehoiakim’s brother, too).

Also, when it says that Jehoiachin was taken captive in the eighth year of "his" reign, it means Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. Jehoiachin only reigned three months. Historically, the timing is correct that this was the eighth year of Nebuchadenezzar’s reign, though for some of those years he was co-regent with his father.

2 Kings 25

This is the account of the final destruction of Jerusalem. When we get to the prophet Jeremiah there will be a more detail because he was there for all of it. His perspective of these events is very interesting. Verse 11 mentions "the deserters" who "deserted" to the king of Babylon. Jeremiah was encouraging everyone to desert, promising them in the name of the Lord that this would spare their lives and and that they would eventually return to Jerusalem. This made Zedekiah, who was in rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar, very angry.

More about that in a few weeks.

Zedekiah failed because the Lord was not with him. It’s not a good idea to take on other armies and great forces without God on your side.

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9 Responses to Through the Bible in a Year: 2 Kings 21-25

  1. Leaving aside for the moment what you say about Augustine and the councils, I’m not really sure I follow your logic at the end:

    “…the Latin Vulgate…was the only Bible translation used by western churches for nearly a thousand years. It had our 66 books in it, plus the extra 7 “apocryphal” books… a thousand years of custom is what established our canon of 66 books.”

    I’m confused. 66 + 7 = 73…so the Vulgate had seventy-three books in it…so how do we end up with the “custom…of 66”?

    • Shammah says:

      The Vulgate had the Apocrypha, the extra 7 books, in an appendix, as though it were “almost” Scripture, if you will. The Council of Trent didn’t raise them to Scripture status until 1546 or so. Martin Luther died that year. So the Reformers, who all read and were familiar with those other 7 books, would have read the Bible with those 7 books as an appendix, not really as part of Scripture.

      • They were in an appendix? That really doesn’t sound right. Where did you read that?

        (Also, I’m pretty sure I can find fathers and theologians prior to 1546 who referred to those books as “Scripture”)

        • The Catholic Encyclopedia says:

          “During this intermediate age the use of St. Jerome’s new version of the Old Testament (the Vulgate) became widespread in the Occident. With its text went Jerome’s prefaces disparaging the deuterocanonicals, and under the influence of his authority the West began to distrust these and to show the first symptoms of a current hostile to their canonicity.”

          That’s cut and pasted. The age in question is A.D. 500 to 700.

          I’m only familiar with primary literature through the 4th century, and not all the 4th century literature at that. I’m afraid I stopped at Augustine and Jerome, so I figured the Catholic Encyclopedia would be an inoffensive source to Catholics :-D.

          The quote above is here:

          http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03267a.htm

          Let me go find the other I read that is where my comment came from. Remember, though, that I’m not arguing that the Apocrypha should not be Scripture. I’m just commenting on how the Protestants and Catholics got their Bibles.

        • Okay, here’s the other comment. Same page, under “The Latin Church”:

          In the Latin Church, all through the Middle Ages we find evidence of hesitation about the character of the deuterocanonicals. … Few are found to unequivocally acknowledge their canonicity.

          What I know is that Augustine said the canon wasn’t set, that it was different in different churches, around 396 (if I remember when _On Christian Doctrine_ was written). No one has ever given me any proof that a council with authority set the canon other than the Council of Trent, and the Catholic Encyclopedia is my source for saying that it’s the only one that ever has.

      • There was an Appendix, but only the following books were in it:

        Prayer of Manasses
        3 Esdras
        4 Esdras

        In contrast, the Deuterocanonicals were in the Old Testament portion.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Books_of_the_Latin_Vulgate

        • The Catholic Encyclopedia explains that “Apocrypha” is the wrong word to use for those seven books. The reason your link has only those three listed as “Apocrypha” is because Jerome didn’t call the seven disputed books by that term. However, the Catholic Encyclopedia (I don’t know how trustworthy you consider them) says he put notes in the Vulgate saying they weren’t Scripture.

          By the way, I agree that you can find plenty of quotes from those books referred to as Scripture, especially from Ecclesiasticus, the Wisdom of Solomon, and Tobit. You can find 2nd century references to those books as Scripture. I’m just saying that the history I gave is accurate for why the Protestants have 66 books and the Catholics 73.

    • Shammah says:

      Let me add one more reply. The Catholic Encyclopedia’s article on the Apocrypha is where I read that even the Roman Catholic Church didn’t really regard the Apocrypha as Scripture during the middle ages.

      My comments are not an attack on the Apocrypha. I’m completely okay with a church counting the Apocrypha in the canon. I’m opposed to a set canon because I think there’s negative consequences to such a view of Scripture. I love the Eastern Orthodox perspective(s), where many of them can’t tell me what the official canon is, and they seem puzzled by the question. I think most of the major Orthodox groups use a Septuagint version of the Hebrew Scriptures that includes an apocrypha of more than 7 books and sometimes up to 15.

      • Shammah says:

        One more … by no set canon, I mean that each church ought to be able to establish their own canon, which is how it used to be, quite apparently all the way until the time of Augustine at least.

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