Because this section covers a long period of Israel’s history, we cannot cover it in any kind of detail. I can only give you a brief summary of the contents of each book.
This section covers the history of Israel from the conquest of the Promised Land to the fall of Jerusalem and the rescue of the Jews through the intervention of Queen Esther in Persia.
- JOSHUA – The conquest of Canaan and the settlement of the land.
After the death of Moses, Joshua led the people of God across the Jordan River into the Promised Land. After renewing the covenant with God by the circumcision of all the males who were descendants of those who left Egypt, they successfully conquered the city of Jericho and moved on to Ai, where they suffered defeat because of Achan’s disobedience.
They conquered Ai on their second attack, split the land in two, conquered the cities of the south, moved north and subdued the cities there, after which Joshua divided the land among the tribes and sent them to settle in their territories and mop up the remaining resistance from the Canaanites.
- JUDGES – A cycle of anarchy, harassment by surrounding nations and rescue by military leaders raised up by God.
After Joshua’s death there was no strong leader to keep the people committed to obedience to God. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. Because they failed to drive out the remaining pockets of Canaanite resistance, they fell into idolatry, and God punished them by allowing their enemies to harass them.
God raised up “judges”, military leaders who led them in battle against their enemies. This continued as a cycle of war and peace as long as they continued to tolerate the Canaanites among them and worship their gods.
- 1 SAMUEL – Samuel, the last judge, Saul, the first king, Saul’s failure, David anointed, Saul’s pursuit of David, Saul’s death.
God raised up Samuel, a strong leader who united the nation under God and led them as long as he lived. Because his sons were worthless men, the Israelites asked for a king to lead them. Samuel was reluctant but God granted their request and instructed Samuel to anoint Saul as Israel’s first king.
Saul started well but failed to carry out God’s instructions to destroy the Amalekites. . He was rejected in favour of David who was still a young boy when he was anointed king.
After his defeat of Goliath, David lived at the palace until Saul’s murderous jealousy drove him into exile. Saul pursued him relentlessly for at least thirteen years. Saul lost touch with God, sought help from dead Samuel through a spirit medium. Samuel prophesied his death in battle the next day. He and his sons, including Jonathan, David’s friend, died in battle against the Philistines on Mount Gilboa.
David mourned their deaths.
- 2 SAMUEL – David becomes king over Judah, Saul’s surviving son, Ishbosheth killed, David anointed king over all Israel, David’s reign, sin and consequences.
After Saul’s death and at God’s instruction, David went to Hebron and was crowned king of Judah from where he reigned for seven and a half years.
During that time Ishbosheth, Saul’s remaining son, was crowned king of Israel by Abner, Saul’s general, while Judah remained loyal to David. The war between the house of Saul and the house of David lasted a long time. Ishbosheth was finally murdered and David was invited by the ten northern tribes to become king over Israel as well…
David was a military ruler, a poet and a worshipper. He loved God passionately and his reign became the model for all the kings that followed him. He conquered and subdued the surrounding nations, established the perpetual worship of God in the Temple and gathered the materials to build the Temple in Jerusalem.
Because he was a man of war, God did not permit him to build the temple. His son, Solomon, was appointed to do that. David’s sin with Bathsheba brought serious consequences to his family. Rebuked by the prophet Nathan, he acknowledged his guilt but he did not escape the consequences. There was murder and conflict in his family up to the time of his death.
David’s son, Absalom was killed by Joab, David’s general, because he attempted a coup against his father. Another son, Adonijah, attempted to take the throne but Bathsheba intervened, reminding David of his promise that her son, Solomon would succeed him as king. David had Solomon crowned king before he died.
- 1 KINGS – David’s death, Solomon’s reign, Rehoboam’s foolishness, division of the kingdom, Jeroboam crowned king of Israel, parallel history of Judah and Israel from Rehoboam and Jeroboam to Jehoshaphat, king of Judah and Ahaziah, king of Israel. Ministry of Elijah.
David’s death ushered in the glorious reign of Solomon which started well and ended in disaster. Because of his request for wisdom, he became the wisest man who ever lived. However, because he did not practise wisdom, disobeyed God’s specific commands to kings not to get horses and military hardware from Egypt, not to accumulate wealth and not to marry foreign women, his kingdom would be divided after his death. He forsook the Lord and worshipped the idols of his foreign wives.
After his death and because of the foolishness of his successor, his son Rehoboam, the kingdom split once again, this time permanently. Jerobaom took the ten northern tribes away from Rehoboam, and promptly set them on a course of idol worship that brought the judgment of God on them. The northern kingdom was unstable, frequently changing dynasties and being ruled by ungodly kings who led the people into idolatry and disaster.
Rehoboam was followed by a series of both godly and ungodly kings, descendants of David some of whom followed his illustrious example.
After the split of the kingdoms, the history of Israel and Judah is told in parallel records, south and north. Because of the wickedness of the kings of Israel, God raised up the fiery prophet, Elijah, to deal with their idolatry and call them back to the worship of God.
Ahab was a particularly wicked king who strengthened his alliance with a foreign nation by marrying Jezebel, daughter of the king of Phoenicia. Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel, and God proved through fire that He was God.
- 2 KINGS – Elijah taken up to heaven, ministry of Elisha, parallel history of kings of Israel from Ahaziah to Hoshea and the fall of Samaria and the kings of Judah from Jehoram to Zedekiah, the fall of Jerusalem and exile to Babylon and the release of Jehioachin in Babylon.
The prophet Elisha followed Elijah after he was taken up into heaven, doing even more miracles than Elijah. Not even miracles brought the people of the northern kingdom of Israel back to God.
2 Kings follows the course of the two kingdoms, with the kingdom of Israel, and Samaria, its capital, falling to the Assyrians in 721BC and Judah, and its capital, Jerusalem, falling to the Babylonians in 586BC.
God’s Word lays the blame for the destruction of Jerusalem and the captivity in Babylon to the wickedness of Hezekiah’s son, Manasseh, who did more evil than any of the wicked kings of Israel (2 Kings 24:3,4).
- 1 CHRONICLES – Historical record from Adam to Abraham, clans of Jacob’s sons, Saul’s genealogy, judgment on Saul, history of David, focussing on the temple and worship, preparations for building the temple, David’s death.
1 Chronicles traces the genealogy of the human race from Adam to Abraham; from Abraham to Jacob; and then from Judah to David (Ch 1&2). Chapter 3 zeroes in on David, first on his sons, and then on his royal line from Solomon to Zedekiah and from the exile to the time of writing. Chapters 4-7 give the genealogies of the other eleven tribes. Chapter 8 traces King Saul’s genealogy from Benjamin to Kish, Saul’s father and from Kish through Saul and his sons.
Chapter 9 traces the genealogy of the returned exiles and ends with a repeat of Saul’s genealogy. Chapter 10 is a repeat of the record of the death of Saul and his sons on Mount Gilboa in battle against the Philistines.
From chapter 11 to chapter 29, the chronicler focuses on King David from the beginning of his reign over all Israel to his death. The record includes the exploits of his mighty men, the defeat of his enemies, his administration, the return of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem and the organization of worship in preparation for the Temple which his son, Solomon was to build.
Before he died, he appointed Solomon as his successor and charged him to build the Temple with the materials he had gathered; gold, silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone.
- 2 CHRONICLES – Solomon’s reign with special emphasis on the temple. Rehoboam’s reign, Israel rebels and breaks away, Jeroboam leads Israel, reigns of Abijah, Asa and Jehoshaphat of Judah, Ahab of Israel, Jehoram, Ahaziah, Joash, Amaziah, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehioakm, Jehoiachin and Zedekiah. Fall of Jerusalem. Cyrus of Persia’s decree to release the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple.
2 Chronicles records the history of the southern kingdom of Judah from the
beginning of the reign of Solomon to the fall of Jerusalem, the exile and the
decree of Cyrus of Persia to permit the people of Judah to return to their land and to rebuild the temple.
Ezra – Ezra leads the first wave of Jews returning to Judah. Rebuilding starts but is interrupted by opposition, finally completed; Ezra’s reforms.
Nehemiah – Returns to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls. Revival under Ezra; Nehemiah’s reforms.
Esther-Esther becomes queen, rescues the Jews from a plot by Haman the Agagite to exterminate the Jews in retaliation for Mordecai’s refusal to honour him.
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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