Handbook of 2 Kings
The Divided Kingdom
Last 130 Years of Northern Kingdom
Last 250 Years of Southern Kingdom
Captivity of Israel by Assyria
Captivity of Judah by Babylon
II Kings is a continuation of I Kings, beginning about 80 years after the Division of the Kingdom, and carrying parallel accounts of the two kingdoms on for about 130 years, to the Fall of the Northern Kingdom; and then proceeding with the further history of the Southern Kingdom for another 120 years, to its Fall. The book covers the last 12 kings of the Northern Kingdom, and the last 16 kings of the Southern Kingdom (see under I Kings 12); a period, in all, of about 250 years, approximately 850-600 B.C.
The Northern Kingdom, called Israel, fell (721 B.C.) at the hands of the Assyrians, whose capital was Nineveh (see under chapter 17).
The Southern Kingdom, called Judah, fell, 600 B.C., at the hands of the Babylonians, whose capital was Babylon (see under chapter 25).
Elijah and Elisha were prophets sent of God, in an effort to save the Northern Kingdom. Their ministry together lasted about 75 years in the middle period of the Northern Kingdom, about 875-800 B.C., through the reigns of 6 kings, Ahab, Ahaziah, Joram, Jehu, Jehoahaz, Joash.
Account of his reign starts back in I Kings 22:51. Reigned 2 years, Co-regent with his father Ahab, and wicked like him. We have here another of Elijah's "fire" miracles (9-14).
Elijah was a native of Gilead, the land of Jephthah. A child of the wild loneliness of mountain ravines, he wore a cloak of sheep skin or coarse camel hair, with his own thick long hair hanging down his back. His mission was to drive Baalism out of Israel. His ministry may have lasted about 25 years through the reigns of the wicked Ahab and Ahaziah. He had some hard and rough and very disagreeable work to do. He thought he had failed. And though intimate with God in measure that has been given to few men, yet how utterly human he was, like us; and he asked God to take his life. But God did not think he had failed. His work done, God sent a deputation of Angelic chariots to bear him away in triumph to heaven.
Elijah had recently been in Mt. Horeb, where Moses had given the law. Now, conscious that the time of his departure had come, he headed straight for the land of Moses' burial, Mt. Nebo (Deuteronomy 34:1), as if he wanted to be with Moses in death. We surmise that he was not long in finding Moses, and that they straightway became heavenly pals, and that they found their greatest joy in looking forward to the coming of their Greater Pal, whit whom they made a brief earthly appearance (Matthew 17:3).
Elijah, had been a prophet of "fire." He had called down "fire" from heaven on Mt. Carmel, and he had called down "fire" to destroy the officers of Ahaziah. Now he is borne away to heaven in "chariots of fire." Only one other, Enoch, was taken to God without having to pass through the experience of death (Genesis 5:24). Possibly the translation of these two men may have been intended of God to be a sort of dim forecast of the Rapture of the Church, in that glad day when Angel chariots shall sweep in and swing low to gather us up to welcome the Returning Saviour.
Elisha. 2 Kings 2 to 13
Elijah, under instruction from God, had anointed Elisha to be his successor (1 Kings 19: 16-21); and had taken him in training. As Elijah went away to heaven, his mantle fell on Elisha, and Elisha began immediately to work miracles, as Elijah had done.
Waters of the Jordan were divided, for Elisha, as just before they had divided for Elijah (2:8, 14). The spring at Jericho was healed (2:21). 42 idolatrous lads at Bethel were torn by bears (2:24). God, not Elisha, sent the bear. Bethel was a seat of Baal worship. The lads' taunt, presumably, was at Elisha's God.
God had hinted Elijah that fire and sword methods were not the methods by which God's real work would be accomplished (1 Kings 19:12). Nevertheless the fire and sword work went on. Baalism could understand no other language. Elisha anointed Jehu to exterminate official Baalism (1 Kings 19:16, 17; 2 Kings 9:1-10). And Jehu dis, with a vengeance (chapters 9, 10).
Reigned 12 years. He was killed by Jehu (9:24). In his reign, the king of Moab, who had paid tribute to Ahab, rebelled (3:4-6).
ARCHAEOLOGICAL NOTE: The Moabite Stone. Chapter 3 is an account of Jehoram's effort to re-subdue Moab. "Mesha, king of Moab," named in 3:4, made his own record of this rebellion. That record has been found. It is called the "Moabite Stone." Found (1868) in Moab, at Dibon, 20 miles east of the Dead Sea, by F.A. Klein, a German missionary. It is a bluish basalt stone, 4 feet high, 2 feet wide, 14 inches thick, with an inscription of Mesha. While the Berlin Museum was negotiating for it, the French Consulate at Jerusalem offered to pay a large sum for it.
The next year Arabs, by lighting a fire around it, and pouring cold water over it, broke it in pieces, to carry away as charms. Later the French secured the pieces, and, by putting them together, saved the inscription. It is now in the Louvre Museum.
It reads: "I, Mesha, king of Moab, made this monument to Chemosh (god of Moab) to commemorate deliverance from Israel. My father reigned over Moab 30 years, and I reigned after my father. Omri, king of Israel, oppressed Moab many days, and his con (Ahab) after him. But I warred against the king of Israel, and drove him out, and took his cities, Medeba, Ataroth, Nebo, and Jahaz, which he built while he waged war against me. I destroyed his cities, and devoted the spoil to Chemosh, and the women and girls to Ashtar. I built Qorhah with prisoners from Israel."
Elisha had begun his ministry with miracles, as told in chapter 2. Miracles upon miracles follows. Widow's Oil Increased. Shunammite's Son Raised from the Dead. Poisonous Pottage Healed. Loaves of Bread Multiplied. Naaman's Leprosy Healed. Axe Head Made to Swim. Samaria Delivered by Elisha's Invisible Chariots. Syrians
Routed by Horses and Chariots of God (7:6). Nearly, all that is recorded of Elisha, is about his miracles. Most of Elisha's miracles were deeds of kindness and mercy.
Jesus took Elisha's healing of Naaman, as predictive that He himself would also be sent to Other nations (Luke 4:25-27).
To succeed Ben-hadad as king of Syria. A prophet of Israel anointed a foreign king to punish the prophet's own nation. God had instructed that this be done (I Kings 19:15); in punishing Israel for their frightful sins (10:32, 33).
ARCHAEOLOGICAL NOTE: Ben-hadad and Hazael (8:7-15).
An inscription of Shalmaneser king of Assyria says: "I fought with Ben-hadad. I accomplished his defeat. Hazael, son of a nobody, seized his throne."
Elisha began his ministry in the reign of Jehoram (3:1, 11), probably about 850 B.C., continuing through the reigns of Jehu and Jehoahaz, dying in the reign of Joash (13:14- 20), about 800 B.C.
He was a farmer boy, of Abel-meholah, in the upper Jordan valley (I Kings 9:16, 19). He got his prophetic training from Elijah (l Kings 19:21; II Kings 3:11). He and Elijah were very different. Elijah was like the tempest and earthquake; Elisha, like the still small voice. Elijah was flint-like; Elisha, gentle, gracious, diplomatic. Elijah was a man of the wilderness, with a cloak of camel's hair; Elisha lived in cities, dressed like other people. Yet Elijah's mantle fell on Elisha ( I Kings 19: 19; II Kings 2: 13 ) .
They are enumerated in chapters 2, 4, 5, 6, 7. Among them was one of the Bible's Seven recorded Resurrections, the Seven being: Elijah: the Widow's Son (I Kings 17). Elisha: Shunammite's Son (II Kings 4). Jesus: Jairus' Daughter (Mark 5); Widow of Nain's Son (Luke 7); Lazarus (John 11). Peter; Dorcas (Acts 9). Paul: Eutychus (Acts 20).
These seven do not include the Resurrection of Jesus, capstone of them all, and which was accomplished without human instrumentality; nor the strange incident of Elisha's bones (ll Kings 13:21).
Elisha's Seminary Work
Samuel, it seems from 1 Samuel 19:20, had started a school of prophets at Ramah. Elisha had such schools at Bethel, Jericho, Gilgal end other places (II Kings 2:3 , 5; 4:38; 6:1). Beside these, he seems to have resided at Carmel, Shunem, Dothan and Samaria (II Kings 2:25; 4:10, 25; 6:13, 32). He must have been a sort of pastor-prophet-teacher. Also adviser to the king. His advice was always acted on. He did not approve all that the kings did, but in times of crisis he came to their rescue.
Elisha, in the Northern Kingdom, may have been contemporary with Joel, in the Southern Kingdom. He may have been teacher of Jonah and Amos, for they were boys at the time.
Elijah and Elisha, as a pair, in their personal lives and in public work, seem to have been a prototype, a fore-picture-in-action, of John the Baptist and Jesus, as a pair. John is called Elijah (Matthew 11:14); and Jesus' ministry of kindness was en extensive expansion of Elisha's ministry of the same nature. An illustration that men of utterly different types may work together for the same ends.
Chapter 8:16-24. Joram, king of Judah. (See on II Chronicles 21.)
Chapter 8:25-29. Ahaziah, king of Judah. (See on II Chronicles 22.)
Reigned 28 years. An officer of the bodyguard of Ahab. He was anointed by Elisha to be king, to cut off the house of Ahab, and to eradicate Baalism. He proceeded immediately and furiously to his bloody work. Jehu was fitted for it. He was intrepid, relentless, pitiless. Perhaps nothing else could have done it. He slew Joram king of Israel, Jezebel, Ahaziah king of Judah (son-in-law of Ahab), Ahab's 70 sons, the brothers of Ahaziah, all the friends and partisans of Ahab's house, all the priests of Baal, and all the worshipers of Ball; and destroyed the temple and pillars of Baal. Though Jehu eradicated Baal worship, he "departed not from the sins of Jereboam, and took no heed to walk in the law of God."
If we wonder at God's use of an agent like Jehu, let us remember that Baalism was unspeakably vile. God sometimes uses men and nations who are far from what they ought to be to execute His judgments on the wicked.
While Jehu was occupied with his bloody revolution within Israel, Hazael king of Syria took away Gilead and Bashan, Israel's realm east of the Jordan (10:32, 33). Jehu also had his troubles with Assyria, whose power was rising with ominous rapidity.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL NOTE: Jehu. At Calah , near Niniveth, Layard (1845-49) found, in ruins of the palace of Shalmaneser a block of black stone, 7 feet high, covered with reliefs and inscriptions, depicting his exploits. It is called the "Black Obelisk." Now in British Museum. In second line from top is a figure with marked Jewish features kneeling at the feet of the king, and above it this inscription:
"The tribute of Jehu, son (successor) of Omri, silver, gold, bowls of gold, chalices of gold, cups of gold, vases of gold, lead, sceptre for the king spear-shafts, I have received."
ARCHAEOLOGICAL NOTE: Jezabel. Jezabel "painted her eyes" (9:30). An Expedition sponsored by Harvard University, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, British School of Archaeology, and Palestine Exploration Fund (1908-10, 1931-), found, in Samaria, in the ruins of Ahab's "ivory house," saucers, small stone boxes, in which Jezebel mixed her cosmetics. They had a number of small holes to contain the various colors: kohl for black; turquoise fro green; ochre for red; and a central depression for mixing. They still traces of red.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL NOTE: Megiddo. In Megiddo, in the stratum of Ahab and Jezebel's time, jars were found containing remains of children that had been sacrificed to Baal, illustrating the horrible nature of Baal worship.
Megiddo was the famous battlefield, Armageddon, which gives its name to the Great Final Battle of the Ages" (Revelation 16:16). It was situated on the south side of the Plain of Esdraelon, 10 miles southwest of Nazareth, at the entrance to a pass across the Carmel mountain range, on the main highway between Asia and Africa. key position
between the Euphrates and the Nile, meeting place of armies from the East and from the West. Thothmes III, who made Egypt a world-empire, said, "Megiddo is worth a thousand cities.". It was at Megiddo, in the First World War, the General Allenby (1918) broke the power of the Turkish army. More blood has been shed around this hill than any other spot on earth, it is said.
He Oriental Institute of Chicago University, with aid of the Palestine Government (1924), acquired control of the hill, and from that time has been systematically removing layer after layer, recording and preserving everything historical.
Chapter 11. Athaliah, queen of Judah. (See on II Chronicles 22.)
Chapter 12. Jehoash, king of Judah (See on II Chronicles 24.)
Chapter 13:1-9. Jehoahaz, king of Israel. 820-804 B.C. Reigned 17 years. Under him Israel was brought very low by the Syrians.
Chapter 13:10-25. Jehoash (Joash), king of Israel. 806-790 B.C. Reigned 16 years. Warred with Syria, and retook cities which his father had lost. Warred with Judah and plundered Jerusalem.
Chapter 14:1-22. Amaziah' king of Judah. (See on II Chronicles 25.)
Reigned 41 years. Continued the wars of his father Joash against Syria, and, with the help of Jonah the prophet (25) brought the Northern Kingdom to its greatest extent. The idolatry and abominable social conditions of Jeroboam's reign called forth the ministry of the prophets Amos and Hosea.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL NOTE: A Seal of Jeroboam's Servant. At Megiddo, Schumacher (1903-05) found, in the layer of ruins belonging to Jeroboam's time, a beautiful jasper seal, bearing the inscription, "Belonging to Shema the Servant of Jeroboam." It was placed in the royal treasury of the Sultan of Turkey.
Chapter 15:I-7. Azariah, king of Judah. (See on II Chronicles 26.)
Chapter 15:8-12. Zechariah, king of Israel. 748 B.C. 6 months.
Chapter 15:13-15. Shallum, king of Israel. 748 B.C. 1 month.
Chapter. 15:16-22. Menahem, king of Israel. 748-718 B.C. Reigned 10 years. Cold-blooded and brutal, he assassinated his predecessor.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL NOTE: Menahem. His Tribute to Pul, king of Assyria
(19, 20). In one of Pul's inscriptions he says: "Tribute of Menahem of Samaria . . . I received." Pul's inscriptions name: "Uzziah," "Ahaz," "Pekah" and "Hoshea."
Chapter 15:23-26. Pekahiah, king of Israel 718-716 B.C. Reigned 2 years. Like Zechariah and Shallum, he was assassinated.
Reigned 20 years. A powerful military officer, who, it is thought, had be.en co-regent with Menahem and Pekahiah. In alliance with Syria, he attacked Judah appealed to Assyria for help. Then came the king of Assyria, and conquered both Israel and Syria, and carried away the inhabitants of North and East Israel. This was the Galilee Captivity (734- B.C.). Samaria alone was left, in the Northern Kingdom. Told more fully in II Chronicles and Isaiah 7.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL NOTE: Captivity of North Israel. By Tiglath-pileser (29). Tiglath-pileser's own inscription says: "The people of the land of Omri I deported to Assyria, with their property."
Chapter 15:32-38. Jotham, king of Judah. (See on II Chronicles 27.)
Chapter 16. Ahaz, king of Judah. (See on II Chronicles 28.)
Captivity of Israel, by Assyria, 721 B.C.
Chapter 17.. Hoshea, 730-721 B.C., last king of Israel. Reigned 9 years. He paid tribute to the king of Assyria, but made a secret alliance with the king of Egypt. Them came the Assyrians, and administered the final death-blow to the Northern Kingdom. Samaria fell, and its people followed the rest of Israel into Captivity. The prophets at that time were Hosea, Isaiah and Micah. The Northern Kingdom had lasted about 200 years. Every one of its 19 kings had walked in the sins of Jeroboam its founder. God had sent prophet after prophet, and judgment after judgment, in an effort to turn the nation back from its sins. But in vain. Israel was joined to its idols. There was no remedy, and the wrath of God arose and removed Israel out of the land.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL NOTE: Hoshea. "Hoshea slew Pakah, and reigned in his stead" (15:30). "Hosea brought tribute to the king of Assyria" (17:3)
An inscription of Tiglath-pileser says: "Pekah their king they had overthrown. I placed Hosea over them. From him I received 10 talents of gold and 100 talents of silver.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL NOTE: Captivity of Israel. "The king of Assyria besieged Samaria 3 years ... and took it ... and carried Israel away ... and brought men from Babylon . . . and placed them in the cities of Samaria" (17:.5, 6, 24).
An inscription of Sargon says: "In my first year, I captured Samaria. I took captive 22.290 people. People of other lands, who never paid tribute, I settle in Samaria."
It was by the Assyrian Empire that the Kingdom of Israel was destroyed. In recent years annals of Assyrian kings have been found in which they themselves had their own exploits recorded. In these annals names of ten Hebrew kings occur: Omri, Ahab, Jehu, Menahem, Pekah, Hoshea, Uzziah, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh. Many statements
are found which confirm Biblical statements. Nineveh its capital.
Assyrian policy was to deport conquered peoples to other lands, to destroy their sense of nationalism and make them more easily subject. Assyrians were great warriors. Most nations then were robber nations. Assyrians seem to have been about the worst of them all. They builded their state on the loot of other peoples. They practiced cruelty. They skinned their prisoners alive, or cut off their hands, feet, noses, ears, or put out their eyes, or pulled out their tongues, and made mounds of human skulls, all to inspire terror.
Assyria was founded, previous to 2000 B.C., by colonists from Babylon, and for many centuries was subject to, or in conflict with Babylon. About 1300 B.C. Shalmaneser I, threw off the yoke of Babylon, and ruled the whole Euphrates Valley. Then Assyria declined. Tiglath-pileser I (1120-1100), made Assyria again a great kingdom. Then another period of decline. Then followed the brilliant epoch of 300 years in which Assyria was a World-Empire, under the following kings:
Chapters 18 to 25 tell of the remaining 9 kings of Judah, Hezekiah to Zedekiah. (For notes on these kings see on II Chronicles 29 to 36).
Captivity of Judah, by Babylon, 606 B.C.
Chapter 25. Zedekiah (597-586 B.C.), last king of Judah. The Captivity of Judah was accomplished in four installments.
606 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jehoiakim, and took temple treasures, and seed royal, including Daniel, to Babylon (II Chronicles 36:6-7. Daniel l:l-3).
597 a.c. Nebuchadnezzar came again, and took the rest of the treasures, and king Jehoiachin, and 10,000 of the princes, officers and chief men, and carried them to Babylon (II Kings 24:14-16).
586 B.C. The Babylonians came again, and burned Jerusalem, broke down its walls, put our the eyes of king Zedekiah, and carried him in chains to Babylon, with 812 captives, leaving only a remnant of the poorest class of people in the land (II Kings 25:8-12; Jeremiah 52:28-30). The summary is less in Jeremiah than in Kings, probably including only the more important. It took the Babylonians a year and a half to subdue Jerusalem. They besieged it in the 9th year of Zedekiah, 10th month, 10th day. Ir fell in the 11th year, 4rh month, 9th day. A month later, the city was burned, on the 7th day of the 5th month.
Thus Nebuchadnezzar was 20 years in destroying Jerusalem. He could have clone it at first, if he had wished to' Bur he only wanted tribute. Then, too, Daniel, whom he took to Babylon at the beginning of the 20 years. soon became Nebuchadnezzar's friend and adviser; and may have had a restraining influence on him: till Judah's persistence in making alliance with Egypt forced Nebuchadnezzar
to wipe Jerusalem off the map.
581 B.C. 5 years after the 'burning of Jerusalem, the Babylonians again came and took 745 more captives (Jeremiah 52:30), even after a considerable group, including Jeremiah, had fled to Egypt (Jeremiah 43). The Fall of Jerusalem brought forth the ministry of the three great prophets. Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel.
The Captivity of Judah by Babylon had been predicted 100 years before by Isaiah and Micah (Isaiah 39:6; Micah 4:10) Now that it was accomplished Jeremiah predicted that it would last 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11, 12).
This was the end of David's earthly kingdom. It had lasted 400 years. It revived, in a spiritual sense, with the arrival of Christ, to be consummated in glory at His Return.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL NOTE: Nebuchadnezzar' His Burning of the Cities of Judah (25:9; Jeremiah 34:7).In Lachish, Bethel, Kiriathsepher, and Beth-shemesh, there have been found layers of ashes from destructive fires that occurred about 600 B.C. These were Nebuchadnezzar's fires. In Lachish and at Beth-shemesh the fires had
swept the cities so suddenly that underneath the great layers of debris and ashes and charcoal there were found: in Lachish, temple treasures, altar, censer, bowls, and bones of sacrifice; and in Beth-shemesh, stores of food supplies, lentils, raisins, olives.
The Old Babylonia Empire
The New Babylonia Empire
(606-536 B.C.). Sometimes called the Neo-Babylonian Empire. This was the Empire that broke the power of Assyria, and, in its westward sweep, destroyed JUDAH, and conquered Egypt. Its kings were: