Solomon, after "a thousand burnt offerings" (probably literally a 1.000… when sacrificing animals you should never be too parsimonious), asks god for wisdom to be able to rule all his people. God, pleased that he did not ask for wealth, grants him both. Solomon starts the "let's build our god a house" project, as seen before in Kings. Slightly different from Kings, the dimensions of the temple are given here as 32x9 m - 4 m longer, but who cares. The mysterious "sea" of brass (see XXII) turns out to be a ritual bath for the priests - a bowl of some 4,6 m in diameter and 2,3 m deep supported on 12 brass oxen (rather lavish, but then it's for the priests so it's OK… reminds me of a German bishop who recently had his bathroom modified for some 3 million euros. He also drove a very slick sports car. Guess where the money was coming from).
Side note: 12 oxen (staring in four directions, North West South East). Compare: 12 months, 12 zodiacal signs, 12 apostles (and one sun or "son", I might add). Notice anything?
Anyway. When the work is done, the ark is solemnly carried in - but not before slaughtering animals "which could not be told nor numbered for multitude", obviously. These guys *really* enjoy killing. They put down the ark, "and there it is unto this day" (highly interesting, as we will later see that several years later the whole building got ransacked. Whatever). Cue music! Cymbals, psalters and an astonishing 120 trumpets (imagine the unholy racket) herald in the glory of god filling his new abode (snugly filling her up, there's not even room for the priests anymore). After the obligatory speech of Solomon (along the lines of "OK, we built it. Now you protect us. Thanks. BTW, you're awesome"), more animal sacrifice - the 22.000 oxen & 120.000 sheep mentioned in Kings.
Interesting enough, the end of Solomon is omitted here; he just dies peacefully after a long and prosperous reign. No mention whatsoever of his 700 wives, 300 concubines and worshiping evil goddesses. How boring. His son Rehoboam takes over, inheriting his father's taste in wives (18 wives & 60 concubines, resulting in 28 sons & 60 daughters). Once more, let me point out that it was expedient to reproduce as much as possible; life expectancy was low (on average, 30 years), and let's not forget those ever favorite pastimes of war and murder. More adventures of Rehoboam in "the book of Shemaia the prophet" or the book of "Iddo the seer concerning genealogies". That sounds like another riveting read, sadly lost in time. We fast-forward, as we've seen all this before: Abijah - Jeroboam - Asa (funny detail: when old, he "was diseased in his feet", but instead of praying, he has the temerity of asking physicians! Smart guy) - Azariah - Jehoshaphat (son of Asa, who rules in Judah during king Ahab's reign in Jerusalem). His son Jeroham takes one of Ahab's daughters for a wife, and for good measure, slays all of his brethren. As he is an evil little twerp, god punishes him with a great plague: "And thou shalt have great sickness by disease of thy bowels, until thy bowels fall out by reason of the sickness day by day". Gotta hand it to the old man - he can be quite inventive in his punishments. Son Ahaziah (of the Duck Bros.) takes over. Mathematics (or possibly biology) for beginners: Jeroham was 32 when he became king and 40 when he died. His *youngest* son Ahaziah is then made king at… 42 years of age! Salient detail: all of Jerohams sons, except the youngest, Jehoahaz, were killed before. You tell me. It's possible our scribe got confused as well, as there was a Jehoram king of Judah and another Jehoram son of Ahab, king of Jerusalem. Who furthermore had a son called Ahaziah. Can you still follow it?
Another small variation: it's not the 7 year old Joash who kills his evil grandmother Athaliah here, but the priest Jehoiada (I preferred Joash… sounds a lot more "biblical"). As we saw before, he's a good kid, repairing the damage done to the house of god after interminable skirmishes, but sadly, his own servants conspire against him and kill him (because he had a prophet killed who turned out to be a son of Jehoiada. Oops). His son Amaziah takes over (and I can't resist making your head spin some more by mentioning that at that time there is also a king in Israel called Joash), but is slaughtered as well, for worshiping strange gods this time (why don't people ever learn… IS today is still slaughtering people for worshiping the wrong gods. Humans are destined to remain vile & stupid, it seems). His son Uzziah does slightly better - initially, but when he's strong and rich, he gets a bit too reckless and burns incense on the incense altar of god. No big deal, you might think, but only priests are allowed to do that! What if just anyone could converse with god? Ridiculous. His reward: instant leprosy. That'll teach him. After the rather boring king Jotham we get Ahaz, another bad one (as mentioned before: completely fucking random) who closes down god's house. His son Hezekiah later puts a lot of work into having the house repaired & cleansed, with a big party at the official opening (with copious amounts of animals slaughtered, need I say it). Under his inspired leadership the people prosper. A threat of Assyrian warriors is swiftly warded off, aided by god.
Sadly, his son Manasseh is another bad one (surprise surprise!), so god delivers him into Assyrian captivity. Humbled, Manasseh prays - god relents & sends him home. From then on, Manasseh's a good boy, but alas! His son Amon… evil! Luckily, after 2 years he's slaughtered by his own servants (I would definitely recommend changing employment agencies; too many servants turn out to be scheming homicidal maniacs). In comes Josiah (who's only 8, but then, his father died at 24), another nice one. When repairing the temple (once again…), workmen find "a book of the law of the lord given by Moses". Josiah is sad - all those wonderful laws god gave them, and his forefathers never obeyed them! (as you'll remember, there were hundreds of weird laws - no wonder the book was conveniently misplaced). But then - god never complained either; he probably already forgot all about it (remember that law against wearing clothing of mixed materials? I mean, come on).
When Josiah dies (in a skirmish with an Egyptian king), he is mourned nationwide and the prophet Jeremiah creates some beautiful lamentations for him (we'll get there eventually - Jeremiah is book 24). After a short rule, his son Jehoahaz is vanquished by the Egyptians, who put his evil brother Eliakim (or Jehoiakim) on the throne of both Judah and Jerusalem, a sort of puppet king I suppose. After some years, he is captured by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and his 8 year old son Jehoiachin rules for 3 months. Can you believe it, he's an evil little critter as well, so Nebuchadnezzar swiftly captures the nasty tyke & puts his brother Zedekiah (who is just as evil) on the throne. Pretty inane, right. God (who was strangely silent most of the time - probably on a holiday) sends over Chaldean warriors - everybody in the country is killed or captured & enslaved and the house of god is plundered & destroyed (does that mean he's homeless now?). For 70 years the land is desolate, until Cyrus king of Persia, inspired by god, decides to rebuild it.