The books of Kings.
Counted among the prophets.
None on site.
CCEL: 1 Kings and
2 Kings (Hebrew only).
Swete LXX (Greek only).
Gateway (English only).
1 Kings (Hebrew and English).
2 Kings (Hebrew and English).
(Latin Vulgate only).
Zhubert (Greek and English).
(Latin Vulgate only).
Kata Pi BHS:
1 Kings (Hebrew and English).
Kata Pi LXX:
2 Kings (Hebrew and English).
3 Kingdoms (Greek and English).
4 Kingdoms (Greek and English).
1 Kings (polyglot).
2 Kings (polyglot).
1 and 2 Kings at the OT Gateway.
1 and 2 Kings in the Jewish Encyclopedia.
EJW (Peter Kirby).
1 and 2 Kings at Kata Pi (Oesterly and Robinson).
1 Kings and
2 Kings from the Plymouth Brethren.
Introduction to 1 and 2 Kings (David Malick).
Outline of 1 and 2 Kings (David Malick).
New Light on Hezekiah’s Second Prophetic Story
The books of Kings are counted as historical books in our English
Bibles, but in the Jewish scriptures
they are ranked among the former prophets.
The books were originally written in Hebrew, but the ancient Greek
translation known as the Septuagint
(abbreviated LXX) is also a very important witness to the text. These
books in the LXX bear the titles of 3 and 4 Kingdoms (and 1 and 2 Samuel
bear the titles of 1 and 2 Kingdoms).
Peter Kirby (Early Jewish Writings).
Peter Kirby surveys scholars writing on the book of 1 Kings:
Andrew E. Hill writes: "Given the available evidence, we do best to assign
the books of Kings to an anonymous compiler-author of the sixth century B.C.
Whether he was a prophet or not is uncertain, but he understood the covenantal
nature of Israel's relationship to Yahweh and its implications for Hebrew history.
The book was probably composed in Palestine sometime between the fall of Jerusalem
(587/586 B.C.) and the decree of King Cyrus of Persia that permitted the Hebrews
to return to their homeland (539 B.C.). It is possible that the book was composed
in two stages. Most of the history of Hebrew kingship could have been completed
between the fall of Jerusalem and the Babylonian reprisal for the assassination
of the governor Gedaliah (a third deportation in 582 or 581 B.C., which was
described in the first historical appendix, 2 Kings 25:22-26 and Jer. 52:30).
The final edition of the work may have been published sometime after the release
of King Jehoiachim from prison in Babylon by Nebuchadrezzar's successor, Evil-Merodach
(ca. 562/561 B.C., reported in the second historical appendix, 2 Kings 25:27-30).
A date of 550 B.C. appears reasonable for the completed Kings record."
(A Survey of the Old Testament, p. 204)
Peter F. Ellis writes: "The book was written for the Jews who had witnessed
the catastrophe of 587 and for their children whose faith was wavering. It was
intended to instruct and encourage them, to elicit from them acts of repentance
for their past sins, and to renew their hopes for the future. It was written,
in short, to answer the distressing questions raised by the events of 587. Thus,
the author instructs the exiles by demonstrating that Israel through her kings
had been unfaithful to the covenant, and that God, far from being unfaithful
to his part of the covenant, had remained faithful with erring Israel long after
Isreal's infidelity had released him from any covenant bonds. He writes, therefore,
to convince his people that they and not God have been unfaithful. The author's
purpose, however, is not only to instruct but also to encourage. Thus, he returns
repeatedly to the promise of perpetuity made to the Davidic dynasty and to the
eternal bond between the dynasty, the Temple, and Jerusalem. These promises
have never been annulled and it is upon their fulfillment that Israel must place
her hopes for the future." (The Jerome Biblical Commentary, vol.
1, p. 179)
The work mentions the "Book of the Acts of Solomon" (1 Kings 11.41),
the "Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah" (1 Kings 14:29
and elsewhere), and the "Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel"
(1 Kings 14:19 and elsewhere). J. Alberto Soggin writes: "It is obvious
that there is no reference here to the book of Chronicles, which the Hebrew
Bible places among the Writings, and which the LXX puts after Kings. There is
no reason to suppose, as some writers have in the past, that the Pentateuchal
sources J and E appear, at least up to I Kings 12; in fact there is no continuous
element in the scattered quotations that we have. The one certain thing is that
the Deuteronomists, whose work is generally recognized here, even by those who
do not accept a continuous Dtr, have worked (as we have said in the previous
section) on what are almost certainly official sources, on which they have made
an interpretative commentary. The only fragment of any length which survives
from these ancient sources is I Kings 4.7-19, which describes the administrative
system introduced by Solomon (or perhaps already by David) in the north. But
the Deuteronomistic revision is substantial as early as chs. 6-8, which narrate
how the temple came to be built, even if there is no reason to doubt the historicity
of the facts related. In any case, the first part of the narrative is extremely
favourable to Solomon, at some points amounting to adulation, while in the second
part it is strongly critical. It notes the progressive degeneration and decadence
of the kingdom, seeing religious syncretism as the primary cause but not concealing
other causes: unpopular fiscal policy and even harsher forms of tyrrany."
(Introduction to the Old Testament, pp. 202-203)
James King West writes: "The parallel history of the two kingdoms (Israel
and Judah) is written after the fashion of a man walking, advancing first one
foot and then the other. The writer carries forward the story of one kingdom
for a number of years, then turns to the other kingdom and traces its history
up to and beyond that point, then returns to the former, and so on. Each monarch
is accordingly dated by the regnal years of his royal counterpart in the sister
kingdom. Stereotyped opening and closing formulas mark the descriptions of each
reign. The opening formula includes (1) the date of the king's accession as
synchronized with the reign of the rival monarch, (2) the duration of his administration,
and (3) the historian's judgment on his reign. For the southern kings there
are additional notations regarding (4) the king's age at his accession and (5)
the identification of the queen mother. The closing formula consists of (1)
a reference to further sources of information about the king, (2) a notice of
his death and burial, and (3) the name of his successor." (Introduction
to the Old Testament, pp. 196-197)
Jay G. Williams writes: "The criterion [wherein 'the high places were
not taken away'] reflects the influence of Deuteronomy, for of all the books
of the law only Deuteronomy emphasizes the importance of one central shrine
for all Israel. One might also give a pragmatic justification for this seemingly
rather peculiar standard of judgment. The existence of several places of sacrifice
symbolized, in effect, the political and religious disunity of Israel and Judah.
This lack of unity was one of the primary factors which led to the downfall
of both. Although the authors show some sympathy for Israel's initial revolt
against Rehoboam (I Kings 12:1-24), they place full responsibility for the continuation
of the schism upon the northern kings. This book, unlike Joshua and Judges,
is written, then, from a Judaen point of view. The authors attempt to explain
the reasons for the decline and fall of the Davidic-Solomonic Empire and find
them in the twin sins of disunity and idolatry." (Understanding the
Old Testament, p. 179)
Samuel Sandmel writes: "Yet the Dueteronomist proceeds to pass a negative
judgment on Solomon. He loved many foreign women, even of the proscribed nations.
His wives numbered seven hundred and his concubines three hundred. Influenced
by these wives, Solomon built altars to their deities, provoking Yahve's wrath,
so that kingship was to be taken away from his descendants (11:1-13). Yahve
stirred up two foreign adversariesHadad, an Edomite (14-22), and Rezon
of Damascus (23-5)and one domestic one, Jeroboam ben Nebat. A prophet
Ahijah, encountered Jeroboam, who was to usurp the kingship. Ahijah rent Jeroboam's
garment into twelve pieces, giving ten of them to Jeroboam as a symbol of his
destiny to reign over ten of the tribes of Israel (26-46). Solomon reigned for
forty years and then passed away (41-3)." (The Hebrew Scriptures,
P. Kyle McCarter, Jr., writes: "In the final analysis, however, the basic
source for the history of this period is the biblical record itself. Because
of its long and complex literary history, it must be used very cautiously for
historical reconstruction, but when critically interpreted, it provides a fairly
clear picture of the sequence of events. Solomon's economic successes were not
sufficient to eliminate the regional factionalism that had troubled David's
reign (cf. 2 Sam. 20:1-22). When Solomon died in about 930 B.C., the northern
tribes refused to accept the rule of his son, Rehoboam, and made Jeroboam, an
Ephraimite officer in Solomon's labor force, their king (1 Kings 12). The now
independent kingdoms of Israel and Judah endured a period of weakness and intermittent
civil war that lasted until the reign of Omri (ca. 876-869 B.C.), who seems
to have stabilized Israel and established a rapprochement with Judah."
(Harper's Bible Commentary, p. 305)
Peter Kirby also surveys scholars writing on the book of 2 Kings:
Burke O. Long writes: "The Second Book of Kings is part of an editorial
unit that begins with the book of Deuteronomy, includes Joshua, Judges, and
1 and 2 Samuel, and concludes with the books og Kings. In this final book, the
ancient Deuteronomistic historian continues to evaluate his people's experience
with the northern and southern monarchies after the death of Ahab (ca. 851 B.C.).
The story moves through the destruction of the Northern Kingdom (ca. 722; 2
Kings 17) and comes to rest in the aftermath of Judah's and Jerusalem's demise
in 587 (2 Kings 25)." (Harper's Bible Commentary, p. 323)
Peter F. Ellis identifies three propositions put forward by the author of the
books of Kings (The Jerome Biblical Commentary, vol. 1, p. 180):
The first proposition follows: Catastrophe has overtaken Israel because of
the infidelity of the kings to covenant and Temple, not because of any lack
of covenant fidelity on God's part. This proposition is hammered into the
consciousness of his readers by the author's judgments on the kings both of
Israel and Judah. All, without exception of the northern kings and the majority
of the southern, Davidic, kings (with a few notable exceptions), are adjudged
unfaithful to covenant and Temple. The same proposition is even more clearly
inculcated in the author's explanatory discourses in 1 Kgs 11 and 2 Kgs 17.
The second proposition may be stated thus: It was the Word of God through
Moses that brought Israel into history at Sinai. It is the Word of God through
his prophets, continuously intervening and infallibly fulfulled, that has
shaped Israel's history through the centuries. This proposition is drilled
into the consciousness of his readers by the author's use of sources from
the prophetic school. From them he selects stories detailing prophetic predictions
and their infallible fulfillment. A total of 45 different prophetic prediction-fulfillment
stories are spread over the two books (25 in 1 Kgs; 20 in 2 Kgs), with 15
of the 22 chapters in 1 Kgs and 20 of the 25 chapters in 2 Kgs containing
at least one prediction-fulfillment story. The cumulative effect of these
stories is such that the reader cannot doubt that once the Word of the Lord
has gone forth it will be fulfulled infallibly.
The third proposition may be stated as follows: The promise is made to David
in 2 Sm 7, that his dynasty would be eternal, is a promise and a prediction
that by its nature must be fulfilled, all things to the contrary notwithstanding.
Because of the historical circumstances in the time of the author (the nation
destroyed, the citizens in exile, the king deposed), he cannot point, as he
does in the case of the other promise predictions he records, to the fulfillment
of this promise. For all Israelites, however, as for himself, the fulfillment
of this promise must be an aspect of faith.
Samuel Sandmel writes: "Accordingly, the Deuteronomists depict the monarchs
as having had the choice of accepting Yahve's way or of rejecting it, and scarcely
any generation appears to have been bereft of the possibility of prophetic guidance.
So uniformly do the Deuteronomists tell us this that they are occasionally led
into certain absurdities. Thus, they have before them a knowledge of the sweep
of history, and they know which dynasties did not last, and they know that Israel
was exiled in 722/721 and Judah in 586. In the light of their knowledge they
portray prophets as predicting these events in advance. Yet they faced the anomaly
of long reigns and wicked kings, and short ones by good kingsin their
view a miscarriage of justice. They therefore appended to their disapproval
of certain wicked kings a statement to justify the delay of the merited punishment.
Solomon's misdeeds caused the division of the kingdom, but it was deferred until
his son's time (1 Kings 11:11). Jeroboam ben Nebat caused Israel's subjection
to Assyria, but an interval of another dynasty was to intervene (1 Kings 14:15ff.).
The punishment for Ahab's misdeeds was deferred to the days of his son (1 Kings
21:28-30). The Babylonian exile was caused by Manasseh (II Kings 21:12ff.),
even though it did not take place until the time of Manasseh's great-grandsons."
(The Hebrew Scriptures, p. 470)
James King West writes: "Throughout the better part of the period of the
dual monarchies, Israel had maintained its ascendancy over Judah. Under the
Omrides the southern kings had been little more than vassals of Samaria. Judah,
nevertheless, possessed the stability of the unchanging Davidic house. Whereas
the northern kingdom produced no fewer than nineteen kings and nine dynasties
during its two centuries of existence, Judah, for the same period, was governed
by only eleven monarchsall of them (except for the brief usurpation of
Athaliah) descendants of David. For another century and a half after the fall
of Samaria, Judah weathered the successive crises brought on by the Assyrians
and Babylonians. Eight more successors of David were to rule in Jerusalem before
Babylon finally destroyed the city (587 B.C.) and instituted the period of Babylonian
captivity." (Introduction to the Old Testament, pp. 213-214)