Hope for the restoration of the Davidic kingdom in the light of the Davidic covenant in Chronicles
Chronicles was composed in the postexilic period when the Jews were without their own king and were living under the rule of the Persian Empire and the Greek dynasties of the Ptolemies and Seleucids.In view of the apparently eternal nature of the Davidic covenant (2 Sam 7:11b-16), this loss of sovereignty would have posed a difficult problem for the Jews. To be sure, Zerubbabel, grandson of Jehoiachin, penultimate king of the Davidic kingdom, was appointed as governor of Yehud by the Persian king Darius (Hag 1:1) and received YHWH’s promise of being his ‘signet ring’ (Hag 2:23); however, he could not and did not re-establish the kingdom of David. When the Jews lost their political leadership in the postexilic period, religious personnel appeared to play an increasingly important role as leaders of the Temple centered community. Along with Zerubbabel, Joshua, the high priest of the Jewish community that had returned from the exile, led the project of rebuilding the Temple (Hag 1:1; Ezra 3:2). The book of Chronicles reflects this Temple-centered community and deals in much detail with issues relating to the cultic personnel. The two main figures in Chronicles, David and Solomon, are presented respectively as the one who prepares (1 Chr 22; 28:1-29:20), and the one who completes (2 Chr 2:1-5:1) the Temple building project. Furthermore, the Chronicler evaluates the Judaic kings who reigned after Solomon in relation to their piety and their service in the Temple.5 Those who were considered ‘good’ kings worshipped God in the Temple according to the divine commandment, diligently repairing and restoring the Temple, whereas those who were considered ‘bad’ kings were negligent in their worship of YHWH and in their preservation of the Temple. In the context of this postexilic Temple-centred cultic society, the question may be asked: Does the Chronicler hope for the revival of the Davidic kingdom in view of the seemingly and eternally binding, unconditional Davidic covenant (2 Sam 7:12-16; 1 Chr 17:11-14), or is he satisfied with its replacement by the postexilic, Temple-centered cultic society?