Books Of Kings

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The Books of Kings (Hebrew: Sefer Melachim ספר מלכים) is a part of Judaism's Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible. It was originally written in Hebrew, and it was later included by Christianity as part of the Old Testament.

Contents

Contents

It contains accounts of the kings of the ancient Kingdom of Israel and Kingdom of Judah.

They contain the annals of the Jewish commonwealth from the accession of Solomon till the subjugation of the kingdom by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians (apparently a period of about four hundred and fifty-three years). The Books of King synchronize with 1 Chronicles 28 - 2 Chronicles 36:21. While in the Chronicles greater prominence is given to the priestly or Levitical office, in the Kings greater prominence is given to the royal office. Kings appears to have been written considerably earlier than Chronicles, and as such is generally considered a more reliable historical source.

  • The story of Adonijah (1 Kings 1:1-2:46) - During his old age, David spends his nights with Abishag, a woman appointed for the purpose of keeping him warm. Adonijah, a son of David, gathers attendants and persuades Joab and Abiathar to support his claim to be David's heir. Opposed to this are Zadok, Benaiah, Nathan, and Shimei, as well as the army generals, who favour Solomon, another son of David. Adonijah invites his supporters, neutral court officials, and his other brothers excepting Solomon, to the Zoheleth stone. Nathan persuades Bathsheba, the mother of Solomon, to trick David into announcing that Solomon is his heir. After having done this, David has Solomon anointed as the next king. When Adonijah is told, he and his guests flee, and Adonijah seeks sanctuary at the Jerusalem altar. Begging not to be harmed by Solomon, Adonijah is only told that he won't be harmed if he is guiltless. Dying, David instructs Solomon to take revenge on Joab, a supporter of Adonijah, and Shimei, and to be kind to the sons of Barzillai. Adonijah approaches Bathsheba asking for a conciliatory gesture from Solomon, namely he asks for Abishag, but when Bathsheba asks Solomon about this, Solomon has Benaiah slaughter Adonijah. Abiathar, who had supported Adonijah, is then deposed from being head priest of the Jerusalem altar, and exiled to his homeland, and is replaced by Zadok. Joab, another of Adonijah's supporters, seeks sanctuary at the Jerusalem altar, but Solomon has Benaiah slaughter Joab at the altar itself. As for Shimei, Solomon orders him to remain in Jerusalem, but when Shimei later retrieves his servants who had fled to Gath, Solomon has Benaiah slaughter Shimei for leaving.
  • The Wisdom of Solomon (1 Kings 3:1-15 and 5:9-14) - After having cemented an alliance with Egypt by marrying the daughter of Pharaoh, Solomon went to Gibeon, to make sacrifices, as it was the most prominent of the high places at the time. Once Solomon has made the sacrifices, in a dream God appears to Solomon and grants him a wish, so Solomon asks for wisdom. Since Solomon asked wisely rather than asking for riches, his wish for wisdom is granted, and Solomon surpassed the Egyptians and Cedemites in wisdom, his fame spreading among the neighbouring nations. Solomon also uttered thousands of songs and proverbs.
    • Solomon's judgment (1 Kings 3:16-28) -Two whores come to Solomon and ask him to settle an argument between them as to who is the mother of a particular baby. Solomon asks for a sword to cut the baby in half, and the first whore tells him to give the baby to the other, so Solomon gives her the baby.
  • Solomon's officials (1 Kings 4:1-19, and 5:7-8) - An extensive list is given of the officials of Solomon's court. The commissaries, one for each month of the year, provide the food for Solomon and his guests, as well as for his horses, and the various locations are listed that they source the food from.
  • The story of the construction of the Temple of Solomon (1 Kings 5:15-7:51): Hiram of Tyre, a "friend" (that is, political ally) of David's, sends an embassy to Solomon, causing Solomon to propose to build a temple. Solomon and Hiram enter into a trade agreement so that Solomon can obtain the necessary raw materials. Solomon enlists several workers via conscription, and Solomon's men, those of Hiram, and the Gebalites (that is, from Biblos), prepare the temple, of which an extensive description is given. Solomon also builds a palace for himself, which is described as well. A bronze worker, somewhat confusingly also called Hiram (named Hiram-abi by Chronicles, i.e. Hiram is my father), is brought from Tyre to do Solomon's metal work. Two columns - named Jachin and Boaz - are built next to the temple door, and the temple is generally designed like those of Hadad in Tyre's vassal states.
  • The story of the moving the Ark to the Temple (1 Kings 8:1-9:9) - The elders of Israel, and the Israelite princes, come to Solomon for the moving of the ark from Zion. While the priests move the ark, a sacrifice is made which is so substantial that it cannot be counted. Finally, when the ark arrives in the Temple, and the priests that had been carrying it return outside, a dark cloud fills the temple, which Solomon says is where YHWH intends to dwell forever. Solomon then extracts a promise from YHWH to uphold the Davidic covenant, and to return to the aid of the people if they sin but later repent.
  • The story of Cabul (1 Kings 9:10-14) - After twenty years of giving Solomon the supplies that he wished for, Hiram is given twenty cities in Galilee by Solomon, which became known as Cabul, since Hiram wasn't satisfied with them.
  • An account of Solomon's building projects (1 Kings 9:15-25) - Solomon uses slave labour to build several cities for storing supplies. Amongst these is Gezer, which had previously existed but was burnt to the ground by Pharaoh, who returned it to Solomon's ownership as a dowry. For this building programme, Solomon enslaved every Canaanite still living in the land. Solomon also builds Millo as soon as Pharaoh's daughter moves from Zion to her newly built palace.
  • The story of the Queen of Sheba (1 Kings 10:1-10, and 1 Kings 10:13) - The Queen of Sheba visits Solomon and tests his wisdom, bringing with her a large retinue, and precious expensive things. Solomon's replies leave her breathless at his wisdom, and she is further impressed by his waiters, and banquet, and therefore gives Solomon some of her precious things. Before she returns to her homeland, Solomon gives her everything that she asks for, and other presents.
  • Solomon's wealth (1 Kings 4:20-5:6, 1 Kings 9:26-28, 1 Kings 10:11-12, and 1 Kings 10:14-29) - Solomon's empire stretched all the way from the Euphrates to Egypt (though quite how it got this big is not explained), and the many vassal states paid him tribute. He also had extravagant banquets every day, and owned thousands of horses. Solomon built a fleet in Ezion-Geber, near Elath, and Hiram staffs him with seamen, who collect a large amount of gold from Ophir and bring it to Solomon. Solomon uses the gold to make goblets and utensils and so forth, even creating a throne made from ivory and inlaid with gold. Hiram's fleet brings further expensive materials from Ophir besides the gold, such as ivory, silver (which, according to the text, at the time was worthless), and monkeys. In addition to the gold from Hiram's fleet, from merchants, and from the Arab kings, all the visitors to Solomon's court bring with them expensive tributes, hence Solomon grew richer than anyone else on earth. Solomon also traded horses.
  • Solomon's harem (1 Kings 11:1-13) - Apart from his Egyptian wife, Solomon also had over 700 wives and 300 concubines from nations that the Mizvot forbid intermarriage with. The wives make Solomon polytheistic, worshipping the gods of his wives, such as Astarte, Milcom, and Chemosh, even building high places to them opposite Jerusalem. So YHWH promises Solomon that a part of the kingdom will be removed and given to another during the reign of Solomon's descendants.
  • The story of Hadad (1 Kings 11:14-22 and 1 Kings 11:25b) - Hadad, the sole survivor of King David's , fled to Egypt. Having won favour with the Pharaoh, Hadad was given in marriage to the sister of Queen Tahpenes, the wife of Pharaoh. Hadad and his wife have a son, whom Pharaoh brings up as his own. Hadad later requests permission from Pharaoh to return to his own country, and he becomes king of Edom.
  • Rezon (1 Kings 11:23-25a) - A man named Rezon fled from Hadadezer, the king of Zobah, when King David defeats Hazadezer's army. Rezon gathered a group of men and took over as king of Damascus, seceding from Solomon's empire.
  • The story of Rehoboam (1 Kings 11:41-12:1, 1 Kings 12:3-19, 1 Kings 12:20b-24, and 14:21-31a) - When Solomon died, his son, Rehoboam, was proclaimed king at Shechem. The people appeal to Rehoboam to have their servitude lightened, and so he seeks the advice first of the elders and then of the youths. The elders suggest complying with the wishes, but Rehoboam decides to go with the advice of the youths, namely to enforces even heavier servitude. This results in rebellion, and when Rehoboam sends out Adoram, the man in charge of forced labour, the people stone Adoram to death. Rehoboam is forced to flee to Jerusalem as only Judah remains loyal to him, and there he plans an attack using the army of Benjamin and Judah against the forces of Israel. However, a man of God, named Shemiah, is told by God to tell Rehoboam not to fight, and when Rehoboam is told this, he complies. Later in his reign, Shishak, the Pharaoh, attacks, looting the temple and palace, leaving Rehoboam compelled to use bronze to replace the golden shields of Solomon that Shishak had taken.
  • The story of Jeroboam (1 Kings 11:26-40, 12:2, and 12:25-32) - The man in charge of the work force from the house of Joseph, Jeroboam, bumps into Ahijah, a prophet from Shiloh, when Jeroboam's task, the construction of Millo, is complete. Ahijah spontaneously tore his cloak into twelve parts and gave ten pieces to Jeroboam as a symbol of God's will, explaining that the division is owing to Solomon turning to heathen practices. Solomon subsequently tries to have Jeroboam killed for treason, but he escapes to the protection of the Egyptian Pharaoh, only returning when he hears that Solomon's son has succeeded him as king. When Israel rebels against Rehoboam, they appoint Jeroboam as their new king, and Jeroboam establishes Shechem as his capital and then moves to Penuel. However, Jeroboam perceives that a religion centralised at Jerusalem, particularly the annual pilgrimage to there, is a threat to independence, and so establishes cult centres at the very edges of his own kingdom, putting up golden calves at Bethel and at Dan, saying "here is your God". Jeroboam also appoints non-Levites to the priesthood.
  • The story of the fasting man of God (1 Kings 12:33-13:34) - At a rival ceremony in Bethel to the traditional one at Jerusalem, Jeroboam prepares to make a sacrifice. At that moment, a man of God (who is not named), prophesies to Jeroboam about a future destruction of the priests and worship at Bethel. Jeroboam orders that the man be seized, but his arm freezes and the altar collapses, so Jeroboam takes this as a sign and appeals to the man of God. The man of God restores Jeroboam's arm, but refuses Jeroboam's hospitality as the man of God was ordered to fast by God, and to return home immediately. An old prophet from Bethel (who is not named) follows the man of God, and offers his own hospitality, but it too is rejected. Then the old prophet states that God had told him to offer his hospitality, so the man of God accepts, but is killed by a lion as he had broken the fast. Then the old prophet mourns the man, buries him, and requests to be buried in the same grave.
  • The story of Abijah of Israel (1 Kings 14:1-20) - Jeroboam's son and heir, Abijah, becomes sick, so Jeroboam sends his wife, in disguise, to the prophet Ahijah, to ask what can be done. Ahijah replies that Jeroboam's Canaanite practices have condemned his dynasty to destruction, and Abijah is doomed from the moment the wife returns to the son. Duly, when the wife returns to Tirzah and enters her house, the son dies.
  • The story of Abijah of Judah (1 Kings 14:31b-15:8a) - After Rehoboam dies, Abijah (named as Abijam in Kings but Abijah in Chronicles), his son, succeeds him as king of Judah. Abijam appears to be the grandson (or otherwise a descendant) of Absalom by his mother's side. Abijam continued the war against Jeroboam to conquer Israel. A more full account of the war is given in Chronicles.
  • The story of Asa of Judah (1 Kings 15:8b-24a): Abijam's son, Asa, succeeds him as king of Judah, and he quickly deposed Maacah, his grandmother, from having any authority, as she supports the Canaanite religious practices. Asa also burns his grandmother's asherah. During Asa's reign there is a perpetual war between him and Baasha, the king of Israel, who Ben-hadad, king of Aram, was supporting. Asa bought Ben-hadad's loyalty by sending him what remained of the treasures of the temple and his palace, so Ben-hadad changes sides and attacks several cities, and the regions of the tribes of Dan and Naphtali. Baasha retreats to his capital rather than continue fortifying Raamah, so Asa dismantles the fortifications and uses them to build Geba. In his old age, Asa had infirm feet.
  • The story of Baasha (1 Kings 15:25-16:6a) - When Jeroboam died, his son, Nadab, took over as king of Israel. However, Baasha, the son of Ahijah, plots against Nadab, and while Nadab is besieging Gibbethon. Becoming king in Nadab's stead, Baasha then slaughters all the remaining relatives of Jeroboam. During Baasha's reign, there is a permanent war between Asa and Baasha, and although Ben-hadad originally supported Baasha, he changed to Asa's side, capturing several large areas of the land, and causing Baasha to retreat back to his capital, Tirzah. A prophet, named Jehu, is told by YHWH that Baasha's actions are to be condemned, so Jehu tells Baasha.
  • The story of Zimri (1 Kings 16:6b-20) - After the death of Baasa, he is succeeded by his son, Elah. However, one of his leading commanders, Zimri, plots against him, and while Elah is getting drunk, Zimri strikes him dead. Zimri then slaughters all the remaining relatives of Baasa and takes over the throne of Israel. The army, however, proclaim Omri, their general, as the king, and lay siege to Tirzah, where Zimri is located. Zimri decides to burn his palace to the ground, killing himself.
  • The story of Omri (1 Kings 16:15b-19, 16:21-28a) Having been proclaimed king by the army, Omri besieges Zimri, who then dies in a fire. Subsequently, only half of Israel support Omri, the other half supporting a man named Tibni, to be king. The civil war ends with Omri and his supporters as victor. Omri later constructs a new capital at Samaria, and moves there. Despite the many monumental achievements and constructions that are archaeologically attributed to the period normally identified for his reign, the Book of Kings neglects to mention any of these, preferring to portray Omri as an insignificant heretic that happened to become king and then, later, die.
  • The story of Elijah and the widow (1 Kings 17:1-24) God ordains that no rain shall fall while he is served by a man from Tishbe, named Elijah, or at least this is the case according to Elijah. Elijah is sent to a stream, and fed by ravens, day and night, but when the stream dries up, due to the lack of rain, he is sent on to a widow, who will wait on him. Demanding from the widow water and bread, Elijah is met with the response that there is not enough flour or oil. Elijah, however, promises that the flour and oil will last until the rains return, which comes true. The widow's son later grows sick, and stops breathing, so she accuses Elijah of making this happen. Elijah responds by laying out the son's body on his own bed, stretching himself over on the body three times, and then praying, whereupon the son comes back to life.
  • The story of Elijah and the prophets of Ba'al (1 Kings 16:28b-33, and 18:1-46) - After the death of Omri, his son, Ahab, becomes the king. Ahab marries Jezebel, and worships Hadad (often referred to by the epithet Ba'al - meaning lord), building a totem and temple to his worship. Jezebel slaughters the prophets of YHWH, though some are rescued by Obadiah, Ahab's vizier. Meanwhile, the famine grows bitter, and Elijah is sent by God to Ahab, with Obadiah joining him on his way. When Elijah and Ahab meet, they trade insults, with Elijah calling Ahab a sinner due to his religious practices, and Ahab calling Elijah the disturber of Israel. Elijah then challenges Hadad worship, demanding all of Israel attend mount Carmel. At Carmel, Elijah announces he will sacrifice a bull to YHWH, and he expects that the worshippers of Hadad will sacrifice a bull to Hadad, stating that the real god will respond. When there is no response from the sacrifice to Baal, which Elijah mercilessly mocks, he rebuilds the older altar to YHWH, makes the sacrifice, and a fire appears from heaven and consumes it. The people convert from worship of Hadad to that of YHWH en-masse, and Elijah has the throats of the prophets of Hadad slit at a river. A storm subsequently gathers, and Elijah and Ahab race to Jezreel, Elijah staying in front.
  • The story of Hiel and the rebuilding of Jericho (1 Kings 16:34) - During the reign of Ahab, a man named Hiel rebuilds Jericho from its ruins. However, his sons die during construction, fulfilling a prophecy that Joshua had made.
  • The story of Elijah's flight to Horeb (1 Kings 19:1-21) - After Ahab has told Jezebel what has happened, she seeks revenge against Elijah, who flees Beer-sheba, and goes into the desert. Elijah prays for death, but is ordered by an angel to eat and drink, so he walks for 40 days and nights to Horeb. On the mountain, there are a series of phenomona (that could easily be a dramatic description of a volcano), and then a faint whisper asking Elijah why he is present. After Elijah explains, he is ordered to go to anoint Hazael as the next king of Aram (Elisha does this as well), Jehu as king of Israel (Elisha does this as well), and Elisha as his own successor, and to demand that they slaughter everyone except those who devoutly worship YHWH. Elisha, a plowman, readily follows Elijah, even killing his oxen, and burning them as a sacrifice, having broken up his plowing equipment to use as fuel.
  • The story of the first siege of Samaria (1 Kings 20:1-21) - Ben-hadad, the king of Aram, lays siege to Samaria, and Ahab gives up his treasure, harem, and sons. Ben-hadad then further demands to be allowed to ransack Ahab's property, but the elders of Israel disuade Ahab from agreeing, angering Ben-hadad. A prophet arrives and tells Ahab that he will win, so Ahab gathers the army of Israel together, and they launch a surprise attack, causing the Aramaeans to flee.
  • The story of the battle of Aphek (1 Kings 20:22-43) - The servants of Ben-Hadad tell him to attack on the plains, as the God of Israel is one of mountains, so Ben-hadad does just this, going to Aphek, but the prophet returns and tells Ahab that he will win, so Ahab gathers his army, and strikes down the enemy. The aramaeans flee into the city of Aphek, but its walls collapse. The servants of Ben-hadad tell him that the kings of Israel are merciful, so they are sent to Ahab to beg for mercy, and Ahab grants it. Meanwhile, on the orders of YHWH, a prophet tells a companion to strike him, but the companion refuses, so the companion is killed by a lion. Once again the prophet tells a (different) companion to strike him, but this time the companion does so, and wounds him. The prophet pretends to the king that he was wounded in battle, and that he had been told to guard another man, on pain of death, but the other man escaped. The king of Israel consequently tells the prophet that he has condemned himself, but the prophet tells the king that the king has condemned himself, as the prophet had doomed Ben-hadad to destruction, and mercy wasn't approved by God.
  • The story of Naboth's vineyard (1 Kings 21:1-29) - A vineyard by the palace of Ahab is owned by a man named Naboth, but Ahab tries to buy it for a reasonable price and exchange of land, so that he can turn it into a vegetable garden. Naboth, however, refuses to give up his ancestral land, which angers Ahab, and causes Jezebel to arranges for Naboth to be falsely accused of blasphemy and treason, and for him to be stoned to death. Once Naboth has been killed, Jezebel tells Ahab, and he sets off for Naboth's vineyard, but meets Elijah there. Elijah prophecies that Ahab's dynasty will be eaten by dogs and by the birds. Ahab then tears his clothes, so Elijah is told by YHWH that Ahab's penitance has bought him time.
  • The story of the Battle of Ramoth-gilead (1 Kings 22:1-40a, and 22:54) - After a period of peace between Aram and Israel, Jehoshaphat of Judah approaches the king of Israel and enters a pact to help take back Ramoth-Gilead from Aram. Jehoshaphat asks for consultation with a prophet that is not one of the yes-men, the only one meeting this requirement being Micaiah (son of Imlah), who the (unidentified) king of Israel hates. Zedekiah (son of Chenaanah) made horns of iron to kill the king of Aram with. Despite the other prophets predicting success, Micaiah predicts total failure, so Zedekiah slaps him. The king of Israel orders Micaiah to be seized and put in prison until the king returns from the war, and then disguises himself to enter the battle. Conversely, the king of Aram orders his men to only attack the king of Israel, and though some mistake Jehoshaphat for the king, his battle cry makes them realise he is not. A randomly fired arrow, by fluke, hits the disguised king of Israel, and he eventually dies from blood loss as the battle rages around him. The king's body is washed at the pool of Samaria, and the blood on his chariot is licked up by the dogs, fulfilling Elijah's prophecy about Ahab.
  • The story of Jehoshaphat (1 Kings 15:24b and 1 Kings 22:41-51a): Jehoshaphat succeeds his father, Asa, as king of Judah. Although Jehoshaphat worships YHWH, he permits the high places to continue existing. Like Solomon, Jehoshaphat sent ships to Ophir for gold, but this time they were recked at Ezion-gezer.
  • The story of Ahaziah of Israel (1 Kings 22:40b, and 1 Kings 22:52-2 Kings 1:18) - Ahaziah, Ahab's son, succeeds him as king of Israel. Ahaziah falls through the lattice of his roof terrace, and so sends messengers to ask the god of Ekron that he worships, Hadad (referred to as Ba'al and Baalzebub, a satirical corruption of Baalzebul - prince Baal), if he would recover from the injury. Elijah is sent by an angel to intercept the messengers, and to tell them that Ahaziah is doomed. The men are duly informed by Elijah, and are sent back to Ahaziah. After hearing them describe Elijah, Ahaziah recognises that Elijah gave them the message, so he sends men to ask Elijah to visit him. Elijah then prophecies that the men will be killed by divine fire, and this duly occurs. Ahaziah again sends men to Elijah, and again Elijah prophecies, and the men are immediately killed by divine fire. The third time men are sent, their leader begs Elijah to listen, and an angel tells Elijah to go with them, so he does, and tells Ahaziah that he will die to his face, which comes true.
  • The story of the last days of Elijah (2 Kings 2:1-18) - Elisha and Elijah are on their way to Gilgal, but Elijah tells Elisha to remain, but Elisha insists on going with him. On reaching Bethel, the prophets there tell Elisha that God is due to take Elijah on that day, but Elisha insists he already knows. Elijah tells Elisha to remain, but Elisha again insists on going with him. And so they go to Jericho, where the same events occur. At the Jordan, Elijah rolls up his mantle and touches the waters, which duly part, and the two cross on dry land. A flaming chariot and horses then come and collect Elijah and take him to heaven. Elisha then picks up Elijah's mantle, which had fallen, strikes the waters of the Jordan, which part, and then crosses back over.
  • Stories of the minor miracles of Elisha (2 Kings 2:19-24, 2 Kings 4:1-7, 2 Kings 4:38-44, and 2 Kings 6:1-7) Once, the inhabitants of the city (not explicitly identified, but implicitly assumable to be Jericho) complain to Elisha about the poor state of the water and the land, so Elisha sprinkles salt on a spring to purify it, as it is "to this day". Elisha goes to Bethel, where a large number of small boys shout "baldy" at him, so Elisha curses them, and two bears come out of the forest and tear 42 of the boys to pieces. A widow of a member of the prophet's guild complains to Elisha that her husband's creditors want to enslave her children to pay his debts, so Elisha tells her to fill as many vessels as possible with the oil that she owns, and to sell it, and miraculously the small amount of oil fills all the containers that she is able to find. During a famine, Elisha has his servants make vegetable stew for the guild of prophets at Gilgal, but one of them adds wild gourds to the stew. When realising that they have been poisoned, the guild complains to Elisha, who adds grain to the pot, and serves it to the people instead, who suffer no ills. A man from Baal-Shalishah brings Elisha twenty loaves, and Elisha manages to feed a hundred people with them, miraculously dividing each loaf between five people, and there are some left-overs. The guild of prophets move to the Jordan to build themselves a larger home, and while doing so the head slips off an axe into the river, but Elisha throws a stick in and the iron axe head floats to the surface.
  • The story of Jehoram of Israel (2 Kings 1:17b and 2 Kings 3:1-27): - Due to Ahaziah (king of Israel) being childless, upon his death, his brother, Jehoram, succeeds him as king of Israel. Moab stops sending tribute to Israel once Jehoram takes over, and raises its army against Israel. Jehoram responds by makes a pact with Judah, and the combined forces of Israel, Judah, and Edom (a vassal of Judah), set out to attack Moab. However, the water supply dries up, and they consult Elisha for help. Elisha reluctantly agrees to assist them, and, going into a trance, prophecies water and victory. Vast quantities of water then come from the direction of Edom, filling the wells, and covering the ground. From a distance, the Moabites, mistaking the water for blood, think that Israel, Judah, and Edom, have attacked each other, so the Moabites seek out the spoils. When the Moabites reach the camp of Israel, the Israelites launch a surprise attack, vanquish the Moabites, and cast stones on their fields and block their springs. The Moabites are entrapped in a city, and is besieged, so the king, having failed to escape to get reinforcements, sacrifices his son to Chemosh. The sacrifice results in Israel being defeated. Jehoram later joins Ahaziah (king of Judah) in battle against Aram, but while recovering from the wounds inflicted in the battle is killed in a conspiracy, in which Ahaziah is also killed.
  • The story of Elisha and the Shunemite woman (2 Kings 4:8-37 and 8:1-6) - When Elisha visits Shunem, an influential woman asks him to dine with her, and consequently he dined with her each time he was in Shunem. The woman decides to prepare a room for him so that he can stay overnight, and so Elisha asks his servant how he can repay the woman. The servant tells Elisha that the woman is childless and her husband is old, so Elisha tells the woman that she will become pregnant, which comes true. Years later, while reaping the fields, the child, a boy, complains that his head hurts, and then abruptly dies. The mother sets off to find Elisha to tell him, and when Elisha is informed, he sends his servant to put the staff of Elisha on top of the boy. The boy remains dead, so Elisha himself goes to the boy, and twice lies on top of him, placing his hands in the boy's hands and his lips on the boy's lips, and the boy's body becomes warm. The third time he lies on the boy, the boy sneezes and awakens. Elisha later warns the woman, who has become a widow, of an approaching seven year famine, so she leaves the land. After the famine is over, the woman returns, and happens to pass the king at exactly the same moment that Elisha's servant is telling the king about the resurrection of the woman's son. The king consequently assigns an official to her, and orders that the woman's land be restored to her.
  • The story of Naaman (2 Kings 5:1-27) - Naaman, commander of Aram's forces, captured a girl from Israel during one of his campaigns. The girl tells Naaman, who suffers from leprosy, that Elisha can heal him. The king of Aram therefore sends Naaman to Elisha with letters of recommendation. Elisha orders Naaman to wash in the Jordan sevenfold, which angers Naaman, since there were closer rivers, but he is persuaded to wash in the Jordan anyway, and is cured. Naaman asks Elisha how he can be repayed, but all Elisha will accept is dedication to YHWH alone, which Naaman agrees to. Elisha's servant thinks this a bit too light, so he goes after Naaman and suggests he donate money and two festal garments, which Naaman does. However, when the servant returns to Elisha, Elisha is angry about his action and curses Gehazi with the leprosy that Naaman had had.
  • The story of the Battle of Dothan (2 Kings 6:8-23) Once upon a time (c.f. the Masoretic Text of 2 Kings 6:8), the (unidentified) king of Aram was at war with the (unidentified) king of Israel, but Elisha told the king of Israel all of the secret plans that the king of Aram had made, so undermining his tactics. The king of Aram is angered by this and so sends an army to kill Elisha at Dothan. Elisha is not worried by this turn of events, and shows his servant that he is defended by a mountainside full of chariots of fire and horses, that were hidden from the servant's view. Elisha, by a prayer, strikes the army of Aram blind, then leads them to Samaria, where he restores their sight. At Samaria, Elisha orders the king of Israel to be hospitable to the Aramaean army, and not to harm them. After a feast, the Aramaeans leave, and the Aramaeans never return again to Israel.
  • The story of the second siege of Samaria (2 Kings 6:24-7:20) Somewhat contradicting the previous sentence, Ben-hadad, king of Aram, lays siege to Samaria. The siege causes inflation, and a famine that is so severe that some people have started eating other people's children. The (unnamed) king of Israel blames YHWH for the tragedy, and refuses to trust YHWH anymore, but Elisha prophecies that the an assassin has been sent against the king of Israel, and also that the inflation will end, and reverse. Four lepers realise that staying neutral, or entering the famished Israelite city, is a no-win situation for them, so they decide to go to the king of Aram, since at least there is a chance of survival. The lepers discover that the Aramaeans had fled, having mistaken some sounds for a large army, and fearing that Israel had hired Hittite and borderland mercenaries. After helping themselves to the food and treasure, the lepers decide to tell the people of Samaria that the Aramaeans have gone. Although the king of Israel does not believe them, his servants check for themselves, and when it becomes known to the rest of the population, the Aramaean camp is plundered, ending the famine.
  • The story of the accession of Hazael (2 Kings 8:7-15) - When Ben-Hadad, king of Aram, lies sick, Elisha happens to be visiting Aram by chance. The king therefore sends Hazael to consult Elisha about the king's illness. Elisha is uneasy, prophecying that the king will not survive, and Hazael will become the new king and slaughter the Israelites. Hazael is shocked, and questions how he could become king (despite Elijah already having anointed him as the next king of Aram, some while ago), but when he returns, he lies to Ben-hadad and says that Elisha had prophecied a recovery. The next day, Hazael smothers the king to death with a water soaked cloth, and becomes king in his place.
  • The story of Jehoram of Judah (1 Kings 22:51b and 2 Kings 8:16-24a) - Jehoram, the son of Jehoshaphat, succeeds him as king of Judah. Jehoram makes a pact with Israel, marrying into their royal family, though this results in him following their religious practices rather than the more Yahwistic ones of his own father. Edom, previously on Judah's side, revolts, and so Jehoram battles them, but is surrounded. Jehoram manages to escape, but his army flees, and Edom gains its independence. The town of Libnah also revolts against Jehoram.
  • The story of Ahaziah/Jehoahaz of Judah (2 Kings 8:24b-29 and 2 Kings 9:27-29) When Jehoram (king of Judah) dies, his son, named as Ahaziah in Kings and as Jehoahaz in Chronicles (both names are equivalent, they are the same theophory as suffix and prefix respectively), rules over Judah in his place. Due to their family connection, Ahaziah supports Jehoram (king of Israel) at the battle of Ramoth-Gilead against Hazael, and later visits Jehoram while he is convalescing from his battle wounds. While visiting the convalescent, the forces of Jehu attack him and he flees, but is fatally wounded, and dies at Megiddo.
  • The story of Jehu (2 Kings 9:1-10:31) - Elisha sends a prophet to anoint Jehu, a son of Jehoshaphat, as the king (despite Elijah already having done this). Once the prophet does this, Jehu organises a conspiracy against Jehoram (king of Israel), who was recovering at Jezreel from wounds inflicted by Hazael. When Jehu's troops approach Joram, Joram sends messengers to meet Jehu, but as Jehu forbids them to return to Joram, Joram is forced to meet Jehu himself. They meet in the field of Naboth, and Jehu accuses Jehoram's mother, Jezebel, of fornication and witchcraft, so Jehoram flees shouting that this is treason. However, on his way back, Jehoram is shot dead by Jehu with an arrow, and his body is taken to the field of Naboth in order to fulfil a prophecy. Ahaziah, the king of Judah, sees this, and flees, but is mortally wounded by Jehu, and dies at Megiddo. Jehu heads to Jezreel, and when she learns of this, Jezebel puts on makeup, and calls down accusing him of murder, and asking if all is well. Jehu shouts out and persuades the palace eunuchs to defenestrate Jezebel, sending her to a gory death. Jehu challenges Israel to oppose him, but, frightened by him, they submit, and in accordance with his wishes, decapitate all the descendants of Ahab, sending Jehu the heads. Jehu also slaughters every descendant in Jezreel, and kills the kinsmen of Ahaziah (king of Judah) in a pit. Jehu then tricks the worshippers of Hadad (also known as Ba'al) by promising that he will worship Hadad, asking for them to gather at the temple of Hadad to make a sacrifice, evicting all the worshippers of YHWH from the temple, closing the doors, and then slaughtering everyone inside. The temple of Hadad is then destroyed, and turned into a toilet.
  • The story of Jehoahaz of Israel (2 Kings 10:32-35a, and 2 Kings 13:1-9a) During Jehu's reign, Hazael conquers Gilead. After Jehu dies, his son, Jehoahaz, becomes the new king, of the much reduced Israel. Under the yoke of Hazael, Jehoahaz appeals to YHWH, and a saviour is sent to free Israel from Hazael (at no point does it explain who this saviour is, or what they do to save Israel). Hazael's aggression has resulted in Jehoahaz's army being reduced to a pittance.
  • The story of Athaliah (2 Kings 11:1-20) - Athaliah, the mother of Ahaziah, on discovering the death of her son, sets out to kill the entire remaining royal family, and take the throne herself. However, her sister manages to hide Jehoash (sometimes abbreviated as Joash), the son of Ahaziah, in the temple of YHWH. Six years later, the priest summons the captain of the guards and Carian mercenaries, and shows them Jehoash. The priest has the guards and mercenaries surround the temple and defend it, while he publicly anoints Jehoash as king. Although Athaliah discovers this, and shouts that this is treason, the priest has Athaliah taken away and killed. The people then go and obliterate the temple of Hadad, and slaughter its priest.
  • The story of Jehoash of Judah (2 Kings 12:1-22a) - Jehoash becomes a king loyal to the worship of YHWH, though not insistent on centralised worship, and passes a law that the temple priests should get to keep the money offered at the temple, on the condition that they also take responsibility for carrying out repairs to it. While they keep the money, they fail to make repairs, so the king complains, and the priests choose to reject the money rather than be responsible for repairs. The money is put into a chest and when it becomes full, the contents are smelted together and used to pay for repairs, which a separate individual is given oversight of. Ironically, after Hazael successfully besieges Gath, when he mounts an attack on Jerusalem, Jehoash is forced to buy him off with the treasures from the temple. In a later conspiracy, Jehoash is killed by his own men.
  • The story of Jehoash of Israel (2 Kings 13:9b-13a, 2 Kings 13:13c-25 and 2 Kings 14:13-16a): Jehoash succeeds Jehoahaz, his father, as king of Israel. Jehoash goes to Elisha, who is dying, for help against Hazael. Elisha forces Jehoash to shoot an arrow through the window, and then prophecies that his doing so has ensured victory against Hazael. Elisha also makes Jehoash strike the ground with some arrows, and so Jehoash does so three times. Elisha states that this will ensure three victories, but by not striking the ground five or six times, has denied himself total outright victory. Elisha then dies, and is buried. While another funeral is taking place, Moabite raiders attack, so the mourners drop the body into Elisha's grave and flee, but when the body touches Elisha's, the man comes back to life. Hazael dies and is succeeded by the weaker Ben-Hadad, who is defeated thrice by Jehoash, fulfilling Elisha's promise. Jehoash is later forced to fight the aggressive king of Judah, but succeeds and captures him. Jehoash goes on to Jerusalem where part of the walls are torn down, and Jehoash takes the treasure of the palace and temple.
  • The story of Amaziah (2 Kings 12:1-22b, 2 Kings 14:1-14 and 2 Kings 14:17-21) - Amaziah, the son of Jehoash (the king of Judah), succeeds him as king of Judah. Amaziah slaughters those who killed his father, though is merciful enough to spare their descendants. Amaziah then goes on military campaigns, conquering the Edomites. Amaziah challenges Jehoash (the king of Israel), but Jehoash responds with a parable about the Thistle of Lebanon. Amaziah attacks anyway, and the two sides meet in battle, but Judah is defeated, and Amaziah is captured. Later, Amaziah, now free (without explanation), hears of a conspiracy against him, so flees to Lachish, but is pursued there and killed.
  • The story of Jeroboam (II) (2 Kings 13:13b and 14:23-29a) - Jeroboam becomes king of Israel after the death of Jehoash (the king of Israel), his father. Despite following Canaanite religion (for which the books of Kings, Chronicles, Hosea, Joel, Amos, and Jonah, condemn him), Jeroboam is otherwise a hero, as he manages to expand the boundaries of Israel as far as the Arabah, and defeats Aram, returning Hamath to Israelite control, as had been prophecied.
  • The story of Uzziah (2 Kings 14:22, 2 Kings 14:29b-15:7b, 2 Kings 15:32-36, and 2 Kings 15:38a) - The son of Amaziah, Uzziah (Kings mistakenly names him Azariah, which in Chronicles is instead the name of his high priest), succeeds him as king of Judah, and rebuilds Elath. However, Uzziah suffers from leprosy, so his son, Jotham, reigns as regent (Chronicles states that Uzziah was deposed by a rebellion of the priesthood, and was cursed with leprosy as a result, and sent to live with the lepers). The construction of a gate of the temple is attributed to Jotham's mother. Jotham formally becomes king when Uzziah actually dies.
  • The story of Menahem (2 Kings 15:8-22a) - Jeroboam is succeeded by Zechariah, his son, as king of Israel, but Zechariah is soon killed by Shallum, who reigns in his place. Menahem hears about the assassination, and sets off to kill Shallum, but is held up by the people of Tappuah. After finally reaching Shallum, and killing him, Menahem exacts revenge on the people of Tappuah by slaughtering their entire population. Now that Menahem has become king, the king of Assyria, Tiglath-Pileser (referred to in 15:16-22a as if a different individual named Pul, though this is actually just the throne name of Tiglath-pileser) invades and Menahem gives him money to employ him to strengthen Menahem's own reign over Judah, but Tiglath-pileser just leaves with the money (In an inscription, Tiglath-pileser describes this simply as him invading, forcing Menahem to become a vassal, and receiving tribute). Menahem taxes the population to raise the funds for the tribute.
  • The story of Pekah (2 Kings 15:22b-31 and 2 Kings 15:37) - When Menahem dies, his son, Pekahiah, succeeds him as king. However, Pekah, the adjutant to Pekahiah, conspires with the people from the eastern half of Israel, Gilead, and kills Pekahiah, becoming king in his place. Pekah enters into an alliance with Rezin, the king of Aram, to attack Judah. Supporting Judah, now a vassal of Assyria, Tiglath-Pileser invades Israel, capturing several cities, and deporting their populations. Hoshea conspires against Pekah, killing him and becoming king in his place (though an inscription by Tiglath-pileser states that he killed Pekah and placed Hoshea on the throne himself).
  • The story of Ahaz (2 Kings 15:38b-16:20a) - Ahaz becomes king of Judah when Jotham, his father, dies. The alliance between Aram and Israel besiege Ahaz, and Edom is able to recover Elath, so Ahaz responds by becomes a vassal of Tiglath-pileser, who is subjugating Israel. Tiglath-pileser then attacks Damascus (capital of Aram), killing Rezin, and deporting the inhabitants to another part of Assyria. Ahaz follows Canaanite religious practices, sacrificing at the high places and Asherah groves, and even immolating his son through the fire to Moloch. As a consequence, when Ahaz goes to Damascus to meet Tiglath-pileser, he is so impressed by the altar that he has a new altar made to the same design, and replaces the altar at the Jerusalem temple with it. Ahaz makes further alterations to the temple layout, even removing the throne emplacement, in deference to the Assyrian king.
  • The story of the Lost Ten Tribes (2 Kings 17:1-41 and 18:9-12) After taking control of what remained of Israel, Hoshea is forced to become a vassal of the Assyrians, due to aggressive behaviour by Shalmaneser V (unnumbered in the Bible). However, Hoshea resents this, and not only fails to send the annual tribute to Assyria, but also sends envoys to Sais, the Egyptian king, for help. In consequence, Shalmaneser occupies Israel and besieges Samaria for three years. Samaria falls to Sargon II (the new king of Assyria after Shalmaneser dies during the siege, though the Bible does not indicate this, and refers to him simply as the king of Assyria without acknowledging that this is not Shalmaneser), and the nine tribes of Israel are completely deported to other regions of the Assyrian empire, becoming the Lost Ten Tribes (tradition considers there to be ten lost tribes, though Israel contained only nine). The writer remarks that the exile of Israel is punishment for it following heathen practices. Sargon uses other Assyrian people to populate the now fairly empty Israel, and they worship their own gods, though Sargon sends a few Israelite priests back to teach the Israelite religion, which becomes regarded by the new population polytheistically.
  • The story of Hezekiah's reform (2 Kings 16:20b, and 2 Kings 18:1-6) The son of Ahaz, Hezekiah, succeeds him as king of Judah, and institutes a far reaching religious reform, centralising the religion to the temple at Jerusalem. In iconoclastic pursuit of the reform, Hezekiah destroyed the high places, pillars, and Asherah, as well as the Nehustan, which Moses himself is alleged to have created.
  • An account of the Assyrian Siege of Jerusalem (2 Kings 18:13-19:37) - Hezekiah rebels against Assyria and partially subjugates the land of the Philistines (2 Kings 18:8). However, Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, captures several cities in Judah, and so Hezekiah uses the temple funds, even breaking up the gold plated doors, to pay tribute to Sennacherib. Sennacherib sends messengers to Jerusalem to say that Hezekiah's ally Egypt is weak, that Hezekiah has offended Israel's God, and that Jerusalem couldn't even muster two thousand men to fight against the oncoming Assyrians (he makes his point by offering to supply the horses if Jerusalem can find the men). Sennacherib offers a the people a life of ease if they will submit, but the people of Judah respond with silence, as Hezekiah has ordered them. Sennacherib is briefly distracted by battling the Ethiopians that have launched an attack upon him, and so sends Hezekiah a letter reminding him that other nations' gods have not saved them from him. Apparently by way of preparation for any siege, Hezekiah constructs a conduit and pool providing water to Jerusalem. (Note: This pool is not mentioned in the account of the siege in 2 Kings, but may be referenced in 2 Kings 20:20b and 2 Chronicles 32:3-5.) Hezekiah sends messengers to Isaiah who prophecies that YHWH will protect Jerusalem for the sake of the promise made to David, and the Assyrians will not be able to besiege Jerusalem. That night an angel kills one hundred eighty-five thousand men of the Assyrian army, and the survivors return to Assyria. (There is an interesting interplay between this account and the Assyrian account which states that Hezekiah was "locked up like a caged bird", and paid tribute to Sennacherib--though the Assyrians put a good face on things, the desired end of a siege is usually to break into a city, not to keep the inhabitants pent up within it.) Fulfilling Isaiah's prophecy of divine retribution (or simply fulfilling the internal politics of Assyria), Sennacherib is killed by two of his own sons, and a third becomes king in his place.
  • The story of Hezekiah's shadow (2 Kings 20:1-20a, and 20:20c-21a): Isaiah visits Hezekiah on his deathbed to tell him to prepare for death, but when Hezekiah prays that his faithfulness will be remembered by YHWH, YHWH instructs Isaiah that 15 years have just been added to Hezekiah's life. Consequently, Isaiah gets a poultice to apply to Hezekiah's boil, and Hezekiah miraculously recovers. At Isaiah's instigation, YHWH causes the shadow on Ahaz's sundial (early translations into English instead have Hezekiah's shadow on Ahaz's steps) to suddenly and noticeably extend backwards by an extra ten measures. Merodach-Baladan, the son of the Babylonian king, sends get-well gifts to Hezekiah, and so, from politeness, Hezekiah shows the Merodach-baladan's messengers his treasures. Isaiah prophecies that having seen the treasure, Babylon's greed will cause them to invade and take it away, and deport the people at the same time.
  • The story of Manasseh (2 Kings 20:21b-21:23 and 21:25-26a) - Manasseh, son of Hezekiah, becomes the next king, and completely reverts Hezekiah's religious changes, which the writer blames for the later destruction of Judah by Babylon. The story of Manasseh is abridged at this point, though the Book of Chronicles records that Manasseh was taken prisoner by the Babylonians, and treated so badly that, when released, he was a reformed man. Many copies of the vulgate translation additionally record a Prayer Of Manasseh which supposedly records Manasseh's repentance. After his death, his penitance is shown to be in vain when his son, Amon, perpetuates the rejection of Hezekiah's reform, and refuses to repent. However, Amon becomes the victim of a conspiracy when he is killed by his own servants.
  • The story of Josiah 2 Kings 21:24, and 2 Kings 21:26b-23:30a - A counter-conspiracy results in Josiah, son of Amon, being placed on the throne of Judah. During his godly reign, Josiah institutes repairs of the temple, during which the chief priest, Hilkiah, discovers a book of the law. This newly discovered book is verified as genuine by the prophetess Huldah, and the penitent Josiah vows to enact all the newly discovered mitzvah within it (most scholars, both critical and apologetic, view the book as an early version of deuteronomy, for which reason, Josiah's reform is often referred to as the deuteronomic reform). According to the narrative, no king before Josiah was ever as devout or fulfilled all of the torah, and Josiah is particularly zealous about his iconoclasm. Necho II leads an Egyptian army to join that of Assyria in attacking Babylon, and Josiah rides out and meets Necho at the Battle of Megiddo, but is killed.
  • The story of Jehoiakim (2 Kings 23:30b-24:6a and 2 Kings 24:7) - The people appoint Jehoahaz, a son of Josiah, as the king in place of Josiah, but Necho imprisons Jehoahaz, and deports him. Necho appoints another son of Josiah as the new king, who duly changes his name to Jehoiakim. Jehoiakim taxes the land to give tribute to Necho, but the land is soon attacked by Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king. Easily defeated, Jehoiakim becomes the vassal of Babylon rather than Egypt, and the Babylonian empire reaches to the border of Egypt, so Egypt makes no further attempt to dominate the region. However, three years later, Jehoiakim rebels, and raiders from the surrounding nations are sent by Nebuchadnezzar to attack Judah. Though the account of Jehoiakim is somewhat abridged and goes no further in the Book of Kings, an account of his rebellion, Nebuchadnezzar's response, and Jehoiakim's violent death at the hands of his own people, is present in the Book of Jeremiah.
  • The story of Jeconiah (2 Kings 24:6b, 2 Kings 24:8-12, and 2 Kings 25:27-30) - Nebuchadnezzar appoints the son of Jehoiakim, namely Jeconiah, as the new king of Judah. Nebuchadnezzar attacks Jerusalem (for an unexplained reason) and besieges it, so Jehoniah and his court surrender and Jehoiachim is taken captive. Many decades later, Evil-Merodach, a later king of Babylon, releases Jehoaichin from prison, give him an allowance, and generally treats him favourably, for the rest of his days.
  • The story of Zedekiah (2 Kings 24:17-25:7) - Nebuchadnezzar appoints the uncle of Jehoiachim as the new king of Judah, who duly changes his name to Zedekiah (YHWH is Zedek / YHWH is righteous). However, Zedekiah rebels, and so Nebuchadnezzar besieges Jerusalem and breaches the city walls. Although Zedekiah flees, he is captured and taken to Nebuchadnezzar, who has the sons of Zedekiah killed in front of him, and then has Zedekiah's eyes put out so that it is the last thing he has seen. Zedekiah is then bound in chains and taken to Babylon.
  • The story of the Babylonian captivity (2 Kings 24:13-16 and 2 Kings 25:8-21) - After Jehoiachim's surrender, Nebuchadnezzar deports everyone of any worth to Babylon, including the army, the people of Jerusalem, nobles, and craftsmen, as well as the treasures of Jerusalem. Once Zedekiah's later rebellion is suppressed, Nebuchadnezzar sends Nebuzaradan to Jerusalem, where he burns down the temple, palace, houses, and walls, and deports the treasures of the temple, and the population (excepting some of the poor), to Babylon. The two highest priests of the temple, a scribe, a courtiers, five personal servants to Zedekiah, and 60 people remaining in Jerusalem, are taken to Nebuchadnezzar and killed.
  • The story of Gedaliah (2 Kings 25:22-26) - The few people remaining in Judah are put under the command of Gedaliah, who promises the commanders of the army of Judah that they will not be harmed as long as they remain loyal to Babylon. However, one of the commanders, of royal descent, conspires against Gedaliah, and has him killed, but the people are so afraid of what Nebuchadnezzar's reaction might be, that almost the entire population of Judah flee to Egypt.

Authorship

The authorship, or rather compilation, of these books is uncertain. The sources of the narrative are explicitly given as:

The "book of the acts of Solomon" (1 Kings 11:41)

The "book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah" (14:29; 15:7, 23, etc.)

The "book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel" (14:19; 15:31; 16:14, 20, 27, etc.).

The date of its composition was perhaps some time between 561 BC, the date of the last chapter (2 Kings 25), when Jehoiachin was released from captivity by Evil-merodach, and 538 BC, the date of the decree of deliverance by Cyrus the Great.

There are some portions that are almost identical to the Book of Jeremiah, for example, 2 Kings 24:18-25 and Jeremiah 52; 39:1-10; 40:7-41:10. There are also many undesigned coincidences between Jeremiah and Kings (2 Kings 21-23 and Jeremiah 7:15; Jeremiah 15:4; Jeremiah 19:3, etc.), and events recorded in Kings of which Jeremiah had personal knowledge. Because of this, traditionally Jeremiah was credited the author of the books of Kings.

However, the book(s) plainly acknowledge several source texts in several places, and it is hence self evidently a compilation from earlier sources rather than an original work. A superficial examination of the Books of Kings makes clear the fact that they are a compilation and not an original composition, and the compiler (usually referred to as the redactor) constantly cites certain of his sources. In the case of Solomon it is the book of the acts of Solomon (1 Kings 11:41); for the Northern Kingdom it is the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel, which is cited seventeen times, that is, for all the kings except Jehoram and Hoshea (e.g. 1 Kings 15:31); and for the kings of Judah it is the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah, which is cited fifteen times, that is, for all the kings except Ahaziah, Athaliah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah (e.g. 1 Kings 15:7). As well as the text's own admission, the idea of the text being composed from multiple earlier sources is also supported by textual criticism. Whether the editor had access to these chronicles, as they were deposited in the state archives, or simply to a history based upon them, can not with certainty be determined, though it is generally assumed that the latter was the case.

An early supposition was that Ezra, after the Babylonian captivity, compiled them from official court chronicles of David, Solomon, Nathan, Gad, and Iddo, and that he arranged them in the order in which they now exist. However, it is more usually said that Ezra was the compiler of the Books of Chronicles, an alternate history of the period of the kings, which was earlier in history treated as a single book together with the Book of Ezra and the Book of Nehemiah.

The majority of textual criticism is of the belief that, with the majority of Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, and Samuel, these works were originally compiled into a single text, the Deuteronomic history, by a single redactor, the Deuteronomist. The similarities between the text of Deuteronomy and that of the Book Of Jeremiah are so strong that many critical scholars view Jeremiah as the Deuteronomist, hence agreeing, in a round about sort of way, and for different reasons, with the traditional view concerning the authorship of Kings.


Object and method of work

It was not the purpose of the compiler to give a complete history of the period covered by his work; for he constantly refers to these sources for additional details. He mentions as a rule a few important events which are sufficient to illustrate the attitude of the king toward the Deuteronomic law, or some feature of it, such as the central sanctuary and the high places, and then proceeds to pronounce judgment upon him accordingly. Each reign is introduced with a regular formula; then follows a short excerpt from one of his sources; after which an estimate of the character of the monarch is given in stereotyped phraseology; and the whole concludes with a statement of the king's death and burial, according to a regular formula (for example, compare 1 Kings 15:1-9 with 1 Kings 15:25-32).

The standpoint of the judgments passed upon the various kings as well as the vocabulary of the compiler indicates that he lived after the reforms of Josiah (621 BC) had brought the Deuteronomic law into prominence. How much later than this the book in its present form was composed, may be inferred from the fact that it concludes with a notice of Jehoiachin's release from prison by Evil-merodach (Amil-Marduk) after the death of Nebuchadnezzar in 562. The book must have taken its present form, therefore, during the Exile, and probably in Babylonia. As no mention is made of the hopes of return which are set forth in Isaiah 40-55, the work was probably concluded before 550. Besides the concluding chapters there are allusions in the body of the work which imply an exilic date (e.g. 1 Kings 8:34, 1 Kings 9:39; 2 Kings 17:19-20, 2 Kings 23:26-27). To these may be added the expression beyond the river (1 Kings 5:4), used to designate the country west of the Euphrates, which implies that Babylonia was the home of the writer.


Time of redaction

On the other hand, there are indications which imply that the first redaction of Kings must have occurred before the downfall of the Judean monarchy. The phrase unto this day occurs in 1 Kings 8:8, 1 Kings 9:21, 1 Kings 12:19; 2 Kings 8:22, 2 Kings 16:6, where it seems to have been added by an editor who was condensing material from older annals, but described conditions still existing when he was writing. Again, in 1 Kings 9:36, 1 Kings 15:4, and 2 Kings 8:19, which come from the hand of a Deuteronomic editor, David has, and is to have, a lamp burning in Jerusalem; that is, the Davidic dynasty is still reigning. Finally, 1 Kings 8:29-31, 1 Kings 8:33, 1 Kings 8:35, 1 Kings 8:38, 1 Kings 8:42, 1 Kings 8:44, 1 Kings 8:48, 1 Kings 9:3, 1 Kings 11:36 imply that the Temple is still standing. There was accordingly a pre-exilic Book of Kings. The work in this earlier form must have been composed between 621 and 586. As the glamour of Josiah's reforms was strong upon the compiler, perhaps he wrote before 600. To this original work 2 Kings 24:10-25:30 was added in the Exile, and, perhaps, 2 Kings 23:31-24:9. In addition to the supplement which the exilic editor appended, a comparison of the Masoretic text with the Septuagint as represented in codices B and L shows that the Hebrew text was retouched by another hand after the exemplars which underlie the Alexandrine text had been made. Thus in B and L, 1 Kings 5:7 follows on 1 Kings 4:19; 1 Kings 6:12-14 is omitted; 1 Kings 9:26 follows on 1 Kings 9:14, so that the account of Solomon's dealings with Hiram is continuous, most of the omitted portion being inserted after 1 Kings 10:22. 2 Kings 21, the history of Naboth, precedes ch. 20, so that 20 and 22, which are excerpts from the same source, come together. Such discrepancies prove sufficient late editorial work to justify the assumption of two recensions.


Sources

In brief outline the sources of the books appear to have been these:

1 Kings 1-2 are extracted bodily from the a source now known as the court history of David, which largely also constitutes 2 Samuel 9-20. The redactor has added notes at 1 Kings 2:2-4 and 2:10-12. For the reign of Solomon the text names its source as the book of the acts of Solomon (11:41); but other sources were employed, and much was added by the redactor.

1 Kings 3 is a prophetic narrative of relatively early origin, worked over by the redactor, who added verses 2-3, and 14-15.

1 Kings 4:1-19 is presumably derived from the Chronicle of Solomon.

1 Kings 4:20-5:14 contains a small kernel of prophetic narrative which has been retouched by many hands, some of them later than the Septuagint.

The basis of 1 Kings 5:15-7:51 was apparently a document from the Temple archives; but this was freely expanded by the redactor, and 1 Kings 6:11-14 also by a later annotator.

1 Kings 8:1-13, the account of the dedication of the Temple, is from an old narrative, slightly expanded by later hands under the influence of the Priestly source of the Torah.

1 Kings 8:14-66 is in its present form the work of the redactor slightly retouched in the Exile.

1 Kings 9:1-9 is the work of the redactor, but whether before the Exile or during it is disputed.

1 Kings 9:10-10:29 consists of extracts from an old source, presumably the book of the acts of Solomon, pieced together and expanded by later editors. The order in the Masoretic text differs from that in the Septuagint.

1 Kings 11:1-13 is the work of the redactor;

1 Kings 11:14-22 is a confused account, perhaps based on two older narratives;

1 Kings 11:26-31 and 39-40 probably formed a part of a history of Jeroboam from which 1 Kings 12:1-20 and 1 Kings 14:1-18 were also taken. The extracts in chapter 11 have been set and retouched by later editors.

Narratives and epitomes

From chapter 12 of 1 Kings onward, both 1&2 Kings are characterized by an alternation of short notices which give epitomes of historical events, with longer narratives extracted from various sources. The following sections are short epitomes:

1 Kings 14:21-16:34

1 Kings 22:41-53

2 Kings 8:16-29

2 Kings 10:32-36

2 Kings 12:18-13:13

2 Kings 13:22-17:6

In some cases short extracts are even here made in full, as in 2 Kings 14:8-14 and 2 Kings 16:10-16.

The longer narratives, which are frequently retouched and expanded by the redactor, are as follows:

1 Kings 12:1-20, 1 Kings 14:1-18, from an older narrative of Jeroboam, to which 1 Kings 12:21-32 and 1 Kings 14:19-20 are additions

1 Kings 12:33-13:34, a comparatively late story of a prophet

1 Kings 17:1-19:21 and 1 Kings 21:1-29, an early prophetic narrative written in the Northern Kingdom (c.f. 1 Kings 19:3)

1 Kings 20:1-43 and 1 Kings 22:1-40, an early north-Israelitish history of the Syrian war in which Ahab lost his life

2 Kings 1:1-8:15 and 2 Kings 9:1-10:31, north-Israelitish narratives, not all from one hand, which are retouched here and there, as in 2 Kings 3:1-3, by the redactor

2 Kings 11:1-12:17, a Judean narrative of the overthrow of Athaliah and the accession of Joash

2 Kings 13:14-21 and 2 Kings 14:8-14, two excerpts from material written in the Northern Kingdom (c.f. 2 Kings 14:11)

2 Kings 17:7-23 is the redactor's commentary on the historical notice with which the chapter opens 2 Kings 17:24-41 is composite (c.f. 2 Kings 17:32, 2 Kings 17:34, and 2 Kings 17:41), probably written in the Exile and retouched after the time of Nehemiah

2 Kings 18:1-20:21 is compiled by the redactor from three sources, the redactor himself prefixing, inserting, and adding some material

2 Kings 21:1-26 is, throughout, the work of the redactor

2 Kings 22:1-23:25 is an extract from the Temple archives with slight editing

2 Kings 23:29-25:30, the appendix of the exilic editor, is based on Jeremiah 40:7-53:6. From Jeremiah, too, the exilic editor drew his information, which he presented in briefer form.

Numbering

The numbering of the Bible is usually considered to be fairly consistent throughout translations. However, most Hebrew versions, as well as the New American Bible, the official Roman Catholic translation, differ in the numbering of 1 Kings 4-5 from other translations such as the King James Version. One set of translations regards chapter 4 as ending at verse 20, while the other continues it for 14 verses that are placed at the start of chapter 5 in the first set. I.e.

1 Kings 5:1-14 in the first set is 1 Kings 4:21-34 in the second set

1 Kings 5:15-32 in the first set is 1 Kings 5:1-18 in the second set

1 Kings 4:21-34 does not exist in the first set, while 1 Kings 5:19-32 does not exist in the second set

This article will follow the numbering of the Hebrew versions and the NAB, i.e. where 1 Kings 4:21-34 does not exist, and 1 Kings 5 has 32 verses.


Peculiar textual features

Problems of dates

The chronology of Kings has several problematic areas. The duration of reigns for the kings of Judah does not correspond correctly to their supposed times of accession compared to the reigns of the kings of Israel. Assigning the number of years after Solomon that each king of Judah reigned, by comparing the figure for their predecessor and the length of their predecessor's reign, simply does not equal the figure that you would obtain by comparing the figures for the kings of Israel and which year the king of Judah began to rule compared to the reign of the contemporary king of Israel. The same issue, transposed, obviously applies to the kings of Israel, and hence there are multiple different chronologies proposed for the period.

There are also external difficulties for the dating. The king that the Book of Kings names as Ahaz is claimed within it to reign for only 16 years. However, some of the events during his reign are recorded elsewhere, and have an almost absolute consensus as to their dates, requiring Ahaz to have at least ruled between 735 BC and 715 BC, a period of 20 years.


Problems of names

The name Hadad and compounds of it occur at several locations within the text. Hadad is the name of the Canaanite deity that is often who the term Ba'al (which means lord) refers to. Consequently many kings from the region surrounding Israel and Judah would take throne names that were theophory in Hadad (or Ba'al), which has can lead to much confusion in the text, and some difficulty in identifying which people are the same individuals and which are different:

Hadadezer (Hadad+ezer) is an Assyrian king

Hadad is the name of a king of Edom

Ben-Hadad is the name of one or more kings of Aram. Although this name simply means son of Hadad it does not necessarily mean that Hadad was the name of the king's father, but simply that the king was a king (i.e. a son of Hadad - the god)

King Hadad is the name of a god (according to the text), i.e. Hadad

In addition, while Ba'al is usually used to refer to Hadad, the term Baalzebub also appears as the name of a deity. Ba'alzebub, meaning lord of the flies, is most likely to be a deliberate pun, by the anti-Hadad writer, on the term Ba'alzebul, meaning prince Ba'al, i.e. Hadad. Even more confusing is the fact that some passages refer to a single king of Assyria by two different names, whereas others refer simply to the king of Assyria in several places but are actually talking about 2 separate historically attested kings, not the same individual.

This problem is compounded in the names of Israelite and Judahite kings, where theophoric suffixes and prefixes exist in El and Yah/YHWH, namely Ja...., Jeho..., ....iah, ...el, and El..... It was common to drop the theophory in ordinary day to day life, so that, for example, Daniel becomes simply Dan. In some cases double theophory occurred, as for example in the name of the king of Judah that contemporary cuneiform inscriptions record as Jeconiah (Je+Con+Iah), which the Book of Jeremiah drops one of the theophories to make the name simply Choniah (Chon+Iah), while the Book of Kings moves both theophories next to each other making his name Jehoiachin (Jeho+Iah+chon). Similarly theophory was often flexible as to which end of names it occurred at for a single individual, so that the king of Judah which the Book of Kings of names as Ahaziah (Ahaz + iah) is named by the Book of Chronicles as Jehoahaz (Jeho + ahaz) - ultimately this is the same name as had by the later king referred to as Ahaz.


Organization

The two books of Kings comprise the fourth book in the second canonical division of Hebrew Scriptures: in the threefold division of the Tanach, these books are ranked among the Prophets. The present division into two books was first made by the Septuagint, which numbers them as the third and fourth books of "Kingdoms", the two books of Samuel being considered the first and second books of Kingdoms; this numbering was also followed in the Vulgate with 1-4 Kings, but most modern Christian Bibles have two books of Samuel and two of Kings.


In Christianity

The Books of Kings are frequently quoted or alluded to by (Matthew 6:29; Matthew 12:42; Luke 4:25-26, Luke 10:4; comp. 2 Kings 4:29; Mark 1:6; comp. 2 Kings 1:8; and Matthew 3:4, etc.).


The two books of Kings formed originally but one book in the Hebrew Scriptures. The present division into two books was first made by the LXX., which now, with the Vulgate, numbers them as the third and fourth books of Kings, the two books of Samuel being the first and second books of Kings.

They contain the annals of the Jewish commonwealth from the accession of Solomon till the subjugation of the kingdom by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians (apparently a period of about four hundred and fifty-three years). The books of Chronicles (q.v.) are more comprehensive in their contents than those of Kings. The latter synchronize with 1 Chronicles 28 - 2 Chronicles 36:21. While in the Chronicles greater prominence is given to the priestly or Levitical office, in the Kings greater prominence is given to the kingly.

The authorship of these books is uncertain. There are some portions of them and of Jeremiah that are almost identical, e.g., 2 Kings 24:18-25 and Jeremiah 52; Jeremiah 39:1-10; Jeremiah 40:7-41:10. There are also many undesigned coincidences between Jeremiah and Kings (2 Kings 21-23 and Jeremiah 7:15; Jeremiah 15:4; Jeremiah 19:3, etc.), and events recorded in Kings of which Jeremiah had personal knowledge. These facts countenance in some degree the tradition that Jeremiah was the author of the books of Kings. But the more probable supposition is that Ezra, after the Captivity, compiled them from documents written perhaps by David, Solomon, Nathan, Gad, and Iddo, and that he arranged them in the order in which they now exist.

In the threefold division of the Scriptures by the Jews, these books are ranked among the “Prophets.” They are frequently quoted or alluded to by our Lord and his apostles (Matthew 6:29; Matthew 12:42; Luke 4:25, Luke 4:26; Luke 10:4; compare 2 Kings 4:29; Mark 1:6; compare 2 Kings 1:8; Matthew 3:4, etc.).

The sources of the narrative are referred to

(1) “the book of the acts of Solomon” (1 Kings 11:41);

(2) the “book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah” (1 Kings 14:29; 1 Kings 15:7, 1 Kings 15:23, etc.);

(3) the “book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel” (1 Kings 14:19; 1 Kings 15:31; 1 Kings 16:14, 1 Kings 16:20, 1 Kings 16:27, etc.).

The date of its composition was some time between 561 BC, the date of the last chapter (2 Kings 25), when Jehoiachin was released from captivity by Evil-Merodach, and 538 BC, the date of the decree of deliverance by Cyrus.


I. Title.

The Hebrew title reads, מלכים, melākhīm, “kings,” the division into books being based on the Septuagint where the Books of Kings are numbered 3rd and 4th, the Books of Kingdoms (Βασιλείων, Basileíōn), the Books of Samuel being numbered respectively 1st and 2nd. The separation in the Hebrew into 2 Books of Kings dates to the rabbinic Bible of Daniel Bomberg (Venice, 1516-17), who adds in a footnote, “Here the non-Jews (i.e. Christians) begin the 4th Book of Kings.” The Hebrew Canon treats the 2 Books of Samuel as one book, and the 2 Books of Kings as one. Hence, both the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) read incorrectly, “The First Book of Kings,” even the use of the article being superfluous.

II. Scope.

The Books of Kings contain 47 chapters (I, 22 chs; II, 25 chs), and cover the period from the conspiracy of Adonijah and the accession of Solomon (975 BC) to the liberation of Jehoiachin after the beginning of the Exile (561 BC). The subject-matter may be grouped under certain heads, as the last days of David (1 Kings 1 through 2:11); Solomon and his times (1 Kings 2:12 through 1 Kings 11:43); the Northern Kingdom to the coming of Assyria (1 Kings 12:16 through 2 Kings 17:41) (937-722 BC), including 9 dynastic changes; the Southern Kingdom to the coming of Babylon (1 Kings 12:1 through 2 Kings 25:21, the annals of the two kingdoms being given as parallel records until the fall of Israel) (937-586 BC), during which time but one dynasty, that of David, occupied the throne; the period of exile to 561 BC (2 Kings 25:22-30). A simpler outline, that of Driver, would be:

  • (1) Solomon and his times (1 Kings 1 through 11);
  • (2) Israel and Judah to the fall of Israel (1 Kings 12 through 2 Kings 17); Judah to the fall of Jerusalem (586 BC), and the captivity to the liberation of Jehoiachin (561 BC) (2 Kings 18 through 25).

“Above all, there are three features in the history, which, in the mind of the author, are of prime importance as shown by the prominence he gives them in his narrative.

  • (1) The dynasty of David is invested with peculiar dignity. This had two aspects. It pointed back to the Divine election of the nation in the past, and gave the guaranty of indefinite national perpetuity in the future. The promise of the 'sure mercies of David' was a powerful uniting influence in the Exile.
  • (2) The Temple and its service, for which the writer had such special regard, contributed greatly to the phase of national character of subsequent times. With all the drawbacks and defacements of pure worship here was the stated regular performance of sacred rites, the development and regulation of priestly order and ritual law, which stamped themselves so firmly on later Judaism.
  • (3) Above all, this was the period of bloom of Old Testament prophecy. Though more is said of men like Elijah and Elisha, who have left no written words, we must not forget the desires of pre-exilic prophets, whose writings have come down to us - men who, against the opposition of rulers and the indifference of the people, testified to the moral foundation on which the nation was constituted, vindicated Divine righteousness, rebuked sin, and held up the ideal to which the nation was called.” - Robertson, Temple BD, 369 f.

III. Character of Books and Position in Hebrew Canon.

The Books of Kings contain much historical material, yet the historical is not their primary purpose. What in our English Bibles pass for historical books are in the Hebrew Canon prophetic books, the Books of Joshua, Judges, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings and 2 Kings being classed as the “Earlier Prophets.”

1. Purpose:

The chief aim of these books is didactic, the imparting of great moral lessons backed up by well-known illustrations from the nation's history and from the lives of its heroes and leaders. Accordingly, we have here a sort of historical archipelago, more continuous than in the Pentateuch, yet requiring much bridging over and conjecture in the details.

2. Character of Data:

The historical matter includes, in the case of the kings of Israel, the length of the reign and the death; in the case of the kings of Judah there are included also the age at the date of accession, the name of the mother, and mention of the burial. The beginnings of the reigns in each case are dated from a point in the reign of the contemporary ruler, e.g. 1 Kings 15:1 : “Now in the 18th year of king Jeroboam the son of Nebat began Abijam to reign over Judah.”


IV. Historical Value.

1. Treatment of Historical Data:

These books contain a large amount of authentic data, and, along with the other books of this group which constitute a contemporaneous narrative, Joshua, Judges, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, must be accorded high rank among ancient documents. To be sure the ethical and religious value is first and highest, nevertheless the historical facts must be reckoned at their true worth. Discrepancies and contradictions are to be explained by the subordination of historical details to the moral and religious purpose of the books, and to the diversity of sources whence these data are taken, that is, the compilers and editors of the Books of Kings as they now stand were working not for a consistent, continuous historical narrative, but for a great ethical and religious treatise. The historical material is only incidental and introduced by way of illustration and confirmation. For the oriental mind these historical examples rather than the rigor of modern logic constitute the unanswerable argument.

2. Chronology:

There cannot be as much said relative to the chronological value of the books. Thus, e.g., there is a question as to the date of the close of Ahaz' reign. According to 2 Kings 18:10, Samaria fell in the 6th year of Hezekiah's reign. The kings who followed Hezekiah aggregate 110 years; 586 plus 110 plus 29 (Hezekiah, 2 Kings 18:2) = 725. But in 2 Kings 18:13 we learn that Sennacherib's invasion came in the 14th year of Hezekiah's reign. Then 701 plus 14 = 715. With this last agrees the account of Hezekiah's sickness (2 Ki 20). In explanation of 2 Kings 18:13, however, it is urged by some that the writer has subtracted the 15 years of 2 Kings 20:6 from the 29 years of Hezekiah's reign. Again, e.g. in 1 Kings 6:1, we learn that Solomon began to build the temple 480 years “after the children of Israel were come out of the Land of Egypt” Septuagint here reads 440 years). This would make between Moses and David 12 generations of 40 years each. But counting the Exodus in the reign of Merenptah, 1225-1215 BC, and the beginning of the erection of the temple 975 BC, or after, we could not make out more than (1225-975) 250 years. Further, if the total length of reigns in Israel and Judah as recorded in the parallel accounts of Kings be added for the two kingdoms, the two amounts do not agree. And, again, it is not certain whether in their annals the Hebrews predated or post-dated the reigns of their kings, i.e. whether the year of a king's death was counted his last year and the first year of his successor's reign, or whether the following year was counted the first year of the succeeding king (compare Curtis in HDB, I, 400, 1, f; Martin EB, I, coll. 777 ff).

3. Value of Assyrian Records:

The Babylonians and Assyrians were more skilled and more careful chronologers, and it is by reference to their accounts of the same or of contemporary events that a sure footing is found. Hence, the value of such monuments as those of Shalmaneser IV and Sennacherib - and here mention should be made also of the Moabite Stone.

4. Plan:

The plan of the books is prevailingly chronological, although at times the material is arranged in groups (e.g. 2 Kings 2:1 through 2 Kings 8:15, the Elisha stories).


V. Composition.

1. Nature of the Books:

The Books of Kings are of the nature of a compilation. The compiler has furnished a framework into which he has arranged the historical matter drawn from other sources. There are chronological data, citations of authorities, judgments on the character and deeds of the several rulers, and moral and religious teachings drawn from the attitude of the rulers in matters of religion, especially toward heathen cults. The point of view is that of the prophets of the national party as one against foreign influence. “Both in point of view and in phraseology the compiler shows himself to be strongly influenced by Deuteronomy.” (The principal editor is styled RD, i.e. Deuteronomic Redactor.) The Deuteronomic law was the touchstone, and by his loyalty to, or apostasy from, that standard, each king stands approved or condemned. This influence also appears in passages where the editor takes liberties in the expansion and adaptation of material. There is marked recurrence of phrases occurring elsewhere chiefly or even wholly in Deuteronomy, or in books showing Deuteronomic influence (Burney in HBD, II, 859 f). In 2 Kings 17 we have a test of the nation on the same standards; compare also 1 Kings 2:3 f; 1 Kings 9:1-9; 2 Kings 14:6; Deuteronomy 24:16.

2. Sources:

In numerous instances the sources are indicated, as “the book of the acts of Solomon” (1 Kings 11:41), “the chronicles of the kings of Judah” (1 Kings 14:29), “the chronicles of the kings of Israel” (1 Kings 15:31). A score or more of these sources are mentioned by title in the several books of the Old Testament. Thus “the history of Samuel the seer,” “the history of Nathan the prophet.” “the history of Gad the seer” (1 Chronicles 29:29); “the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite,” “the visions of Iddo the seer concerning Jeroboam the son of Nebat” (2 Chronicles 9:29; compare 2 Chronicles 12:15; 2 Chronicles 13:22; 2 Chronicles 20:34; 2 Chronicles 32:32). Thus the “book of the kings of Israel” is mentioned 17 times (for all kings except Jehoram and Hoshea); the “book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah” is mentioned 15 times (for all except Ahaziah, Athaliah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiachin and Zedekiah). Whether the compiler had recourse to the archives themselves or to a work based on the archives is still a question.

3. Kent's Scheme:

Kent, Student's Old Testament (II, chart, and pp. ix-xxvi), gives the following scheme for showing the sources:

(1) Early stories about the Ark (circa 950 BC or earlier), Saul stories and David stories (950-900 BC) were united (circa 850 BC) to make early Judean Saul and David stories. With these last were combined (circa 600 BC) popular Judean David stories (circa 700 BC) later Ephraimite Samuel narratives (circa 650 BC), and very late popular prophetic traditions (650-600 BC) in a first edition of the Books of Samuel.

(2) Annals of Solomon (circa 950 BC), early temple records (950-900 BC), were united (circa 800 BC) with popular Solomon traditions (850-800 BC) in a “Book of the Acts of Solomon.” A Jeroboam history (900-850 BC), an Ahab history (circa 800 BC), and a Jehu history (circa 750 BC) were united with the annals of Israel (after 950 to circa 700 BC) in the “Chronicles of the Kings of Israel” (700 or after). Early Ephraimite Elisha narratives (800-750 BC), influenced by a Samaria cycle of Elisha stories (750-700 BC) and a Gilgal cycle of Elisha stories (700-650 BC), were joined about 600 BC with the “Book of the Acts of Solomon” and the “Chronicles of the Kings of Israel” in a “first edition of the Books of Kings.”

(3) The first edition of Samuel, the first edition of Kings and Isaiah stories (before 550 BC) were united (circa 550 BC) in a final revision of Samuel and Kings.

(4) From “annals of Judah” (before 900 to 650 BC or after), temple records (before 850 to after 650 BC), and a Hezekiah history (circa 650 BC), was drawn material for the “Chronicles of the kings of Judah” (circa 600 BC).

(5) From this last work and the final revision of Samuel and Kings was taken material for a “Midhrash of the Book of the kings of Israel and Judah” (circa 300 BC), and from this work, the final revision of Samuel and Kings, and a possible temple history (after 400) - itself from the final revision of Samuel and Kings - came the Books of Chronciles (circa 250 BC).

4. The Jahwist (Jahwist) and the Elohist (E):

The distinctions between the great documents of the Pentateuch do not appear so clearly here. The summary, “epitome”) is the work of a Jewish redactor; the longer narratives (e.g. 1 Kings 17 through 2 Kings 8; 2 Kings 13:14-21) “are written in a bright and chaste Hebrew style, though some of them exhibit slight peculiarities of diction, due, doubtless (in part), to their North Israelite origin” (E). The writers of these narratives are thought to have been prophets, in most cases from the Northern Kingdom.


VI. Date.

There are numerous data bearing on the date of Kings, and indications of different dates appear in the books. The closing verses bring down the history to the 37th year of the Captivity (2 Kings 25:27); yet the author, incorporating his materials, was apparently not careful to adjust the dates to his own time, as in 1 Kings 8:8; 1 Kings 12:19; 2 Kings 8:22; 2 Kings 16:6, which refer to conditions that passed away with the Exile. The work was probably composed before the fall of Jerusalem (586 BC), and was revised during or shortly after the Exile, and also supplemented by the addition of the account of the downfall of the Judean kingdom. There are traces of a post-exilic hand, as, e.g., the mention of “the cities of Samaria” (1 Kings 13:32), implying that Samaria was a province, which was not the case until after the Exile. The existence of altars over the land (1 Kings 19:10), and the sanctuary at Carmel, were illegal according to the Deuteronomic law, as also was the advice given to Elisha (2 Kings 3:19) to cut down the fruit trees in time of war; (Deuteronomy 20:19).


Literature.

K. Budde, Das Buch der Richter, Mohr, Leipzig; John Skinner, “Kings,” in New Century Bible, Frowde, New York; C.F. Burney, Notes on the Hebrew Text of the Books of Kings, Clarendon Press, Oxford; 1903; R. Kittel, Die Bucher der Konige, Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, Leipzig, 1900; I. Benzinger, Die Bucher der Konige, Mohr, 1899; C.F. Kent, Student's Old Testament, Scribner, 1905; S.R. Driver, Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament, Scribner, new revised edition, 1910; J.E. McFadyen, Introduction to the Old Testament, Armstrong, New York, 1906; Carl H. Cornill, Einleitung in die kanonischen Bucher Altes Testament, Mohr, 6th edition, 1908; A. F. Kirkpatrick, The Divine Library of the Old Testament, Macmillan, 1891.

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