2 Chronicles 26:33, The Ending of the Hebrew Bible

“This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: “‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Anyone of his people among you–may the LORD his God be with him, and let him go up.'”

//It’s fascinating to note the difference between the Jewish ordering of the Old Testament and the Christian ordering. The Hebrew Bible ends with the book of Chronicles. King Cyrus of Persia, you may note, was considered by one of the authors of the book of Isaiah to be the Messiah, the Jewish savior: This is what the Lord says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor. “Messiah” means “anointed.” Thus, the final verse of the Bible is a wrap-up; the Messiah has arrived, and the Jews are called to return to their nation and rebuild it as God intends.

Of course, this won’t do for Christians. In the Christian reordering of the Bible, the final book is Malachi, and the final verses read like this:

“See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”

This, of course, leads smoothly into the New Testament, when John the Baptist (Elijah redivivus) introduces the true Messiah, and the day of the Lord.


  1. The point, however, of the arrangement of the Hebrew Bible is thought to be the change od elation ship between Israel and God. In the beginning, God speaks to humans directly, and even walks with them directly. The further the HB goes, the more “transcendent” God gets. At the end, God only speaks through intermediaries, such as the Temple priesthood. This was important, as, by the Council of Jamnia, the Temple had ben destroyed, and God was speaking through synagogue worship.

  2. And yet Jews continued to dream of the age when God would return and dwell with them face-to-face? Elaborate for me, your perspective sounds interesting!

    The Christian claim (at least according to some of the New Testament) is that that day had arrived. God came back.

  3. In his book, God: A Biography, Jack Miles introduces this distinction between the order of books in the Tanakh and the LXX, and the difference it makes in one’s reading and thinking about God and Scripture. He uses the Hebrew order, with God falling silent after he speaks to Job out of the whirlwind. It was a fascinating read and, in the end, the order of books surely makes a difference.

    Have you read Miles’ book?

    (by the way, I found your site through goodreads.com)

  4. First of all, I agree with Trevor; the Miles’ book is fascinating. Secondly, both the Christian and Jewish perspective have God coming back in the future. In neither (especially in Judaism after the destruction of “the Second Temple) was the arrival of the Messiah seen as “the Great Day of the Lord,” but it’s inauguration. The major difference is Christians believe the Messiah has come and Israel still sets an empty chair for Elijah at Passover.

  5. Well, after two endorsements, I guess I need to read Miles’ book! I’ve put it on the read list, thanks!

    John, I think it took some time for Christians to separate the Messiah’s arrival from the beginning of the promised age, with God’s arrival. Yes, a time of painful inauguration was expected (what Paul called the birth pangs) but there was no consensus between Christians about what stage they were living in as they wrote.

  6. Re: You last paragraph – I appreciate your perspective and would ask for more, as I have always thought the initial Christians thought they were living in the to-be-very-short interregnum between when Christ ascended until he would come again to usher in the End of Days.

  7. From 2 Thess: Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.

    From 2 Timothy: Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some.

    Given the “realized eschatology” of John’s Gospel and hints of such in books like Ephesians (“Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you”) these differences in opinion don’t surprise me.

  8. I see, and you may be right. For me, this is the early Church dealing with what would later be called heresy.

  9. Rhyan Bonine

    The mention of the Hebrew Bible ending, along with the quote from 2 Chronicles 26:33, would be incorrect. The correct reference would be 2 Chronicles 36:33.Furthermore the chapter 26 in 2 Chronicles ends at verse 23.

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