Observation 1, 2 King
I. NAME OF THE BOOK
A. Like I & II Samuel and I & II Chronicles, I & II Kings were originally one book in Hebrew. It was called Melakim or Kings. It got this designation from the fact that it covers the history of the kings of Judah and Israel.
B. Like I & II Samuel and I & II Chronicles, I & II Kings was first divided into two books by the LXX. Apparently, this was done because of the length of these books. They simply would not fit on one parchment scroll because of the weight and bulk of the leather. The first Hebrew text to divide the book did not appear until a.d. 1448.
C. The title of these two books has been:
1. in Hebrew – "Kings"
2. in LXX – III & IV Kingdoms
3. in Vulgate – III & IV Kings (I & II Samuel were I & II Kingdoms and Kings)
A. These books are part of the second division of the Hebrew canon called "the Prophets."
B. The section is divided into two parts:
1. the former prophets which includes Joshua – Kings, except Ruth,
2. the latter prophets which includes Isaiah – Malachi, except Daniel and Lamentations.
C. The list of books in the Hebrew OT may have been affected by Hebrew mysticism. There are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet. By combining several books there are 22 books:
1. Judges and Ruth
5. Ezra – Nehemiah
6. Jeremiah and Lamentations
7. the twelve Minor Prophets
A. These books are basically historical narrative with frequent quotes from:
1. court records
B. When one compares the three books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, differing types of historical narratives emerge:
1. Samuel is basically biographical. It focuses on the main characters of:
2. Kings is basically a compilation of:
a. the royal court records:
(1) "the book of the Chronicles of Solomon," I Kgs. 11:41
(2) "the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah," I Kgs. 14:29; 15:7,23
(3) "the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel," I Kgs. 14:19; 15:31.
b. prophetic material:
(3) Isaiah (chap. 36-39)
(4) the evidence for prophetic and historical records can be clearly seen in Chronicles:
(a) I Chronicles 29:29
(b) II Chronicles 9:29
(c) II Chronicles 12:15
(d) II Chronicles 13:22
(e) II Chronicles 26:22
3. Chronicles is basically a selective theologically positive presentation of the kings of:
a. the United Monarchy.
b. the Kings of Judah.
A. The Bible is silent about the authorship of I & II Kings as it is on most of the books in the former prophets.
B. Baba Bathra 15a says Jeremiah wrote his book, the book of Kings and Lamentations:
1. This is possible because the ending of II Kings, 24:18-25:30, is very similar in Hebrew to Jeremiah 52.
2. It is obvious the author was an eyewitness of the fall of Jerusalem.
C. In reality these books are the work of a compiler not an author.
D. It must also be noted that the compiler used several sources:
1. The first source was previous revelation (i.e., Scripture). He often quotes or makes allusion to Deuteronomy and some of the prophets.
2. There are several written sources specifically named:
a. "The book of the Acts of Solomon," I Kgs. 11:41
b. "The book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah," I Kgs. 14:29; 15:7,23
c. "The book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel," I Kgs. 14:19; 15:31
d. There is also the mention in I Chr. 29:29 of the written accounts of the prophets: Samuel, Nathan, and Gad. This shows that oral traditions were being written down.
E. There are some editorial additions in I & II Kings or the compiler is quoting the phrase "to this day" from his sources:
1. I Kings 8:8
2. I Kings 9:21
3. I Kings 12:19
4. II Kings 8:22
A. The events of the book cover a time:
1. from the death of David and the beginning of Solomon's reign:
a. Bright – 961 b.c.
b. Harrison – 971/970 b.c.
c. Young – 973 b.c.
d. NIV – 970 b.c.
2. to the reign of the Babylonian king Evil Merodach, also known as Amel-Marduk, 562-560 b.c. (Bright)
3. but the book of II Kings does not mention the Medo-Persian King Cyrus "the Great," whose army destroyed the city of Babylon in 539 b.c.
B. The book was written or compiled sometime during or shortly after the Babylonian Exile.
C. The length of the years of the reigns of the Kings when added together are too long to fit into the time frame of the books. There have been several supposed solutions:
1. The numbers listed do not take into account co-reigns.
2. There were two calendars used:
a. The sacred calendar began in the fall.
b. The religious calendar began in the spring.
3. When numbers of Kings and Chronicles are compared, it is obvious that some scribal errors have occurred.
VI. SOURCES CORROBORATING THE HISTORICAL SETTING
A. Archaeological Evidence:
1. The Mesha Stele, also known as the Moabite Stone, records the rebellion of Mesha, King of Moab, against Israel just after King Omri (876-869 b.c., Bright; 874/3 b.c., Harrison [cf. II Kgs 3:4]).
2. The Black Obelisk of the Assyrian King, Shalmaneser III (859-824 b.c., Bright & Harrison):
a. The Battle of Qarqar in 853 b.c. took place on the Orontes River. The information from the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III names Ahab the Israelite and attributes to him a powerful military force (along with Syria, cf. I Kgs. 22:1). This battle is not recorded in the OT.
b. It shows Israel's next King, Jehu (842-815 b.c., Bright [cf. II Kings 9-10]), paying tribute and allegiance to Assyria. This is also not recorded in the OT.
3. A jasper seal found at Megiddo from the time of Jeroboam II (786-746 b.c., Bright; 782-753 b.c., Harrison) names Jeroboam.
4. The Khorsabad Annals describe the reign and fall of Samaria to Sargon II (722-705 b.c.) in 722 b.c. (cf. II Kgs. 17).
5. Sennacherib's account of the siege of Jerusalem in 701 b.c. during Hezekiah's reign (715-687 b.c., Bright [cf. II Kgs. 18:13-19:37, Isaiah 36-39]).
6. By using the corroborated dates (Assyrian documents and OT) of:
a. the Battle of Qarqar (Shalmaneser III against Israel and Syria) 853 b.c.
b. the solar eclipse (Assyrian Eponym list Ishdi-Sagale 763 b.c.)
c. the paying of tribute by Jehu to Shalmaneser III (841 b.c.)
the dates of the events in Kings can be confirmed.
B. For a Brief Historical Survey of the Powers of Mesopotamia (using dates based primarily on John Bright's A History of Israel, p. 462ff.) see Special Topic: Kings of Mesopotamia.
For a good discussion of the dating problems, procedures and presuppositions see The Expositors Bible Commentary, vol. 4 pp. 10-17.
VII. LITERARY UNITS (Context)
A. There is an obvious pattern of information which the author gives on each king of the north and south. Usually the information on the Kings of Judah is fuller (taken from Dr. Huey's SWBTS class notes):
1. the date of the reign of kings is coordinated with his opposite pair in the north or south
2. name of the king
3. name of his father
4. his age at accession
5. the length of his reign; of Israel
6. the place of residence
7. name of his mother
8. some information about his reign
9. a summary statement about his life
10. an account of his death and burial
11. often #4 & #7 are omitted for the Kings
B. There are several different ways to briefly outline this lengthy historical material:
1. by main characters:
a. David/Solomon e. Hezekiah/Isaiah
b. Rehoboam/Jeroboam I f. Josiah/Pharaoh Necco
c. Ahab (Jezebel)/Elijah g. Jehoiakim/Jehoiachin/Nebuchadnezzar
2. by the nations involved:
a. the United Monarchy
C. For detailed outline see:
1. E. J. Young, An Introduction to the Old Testament, pp.190-200
2. R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, pp.720-721
3. NIV Study Bible, pp. 468-469
VIII. MAIN TRUTHS
A. This is not a western history but an ancient near eastern theological history:
1. All kings of the north are condemned because of the golden calves set up by Jeroboam I to represent YHWH.
2. The two strongest northern leaders, Omri and Jeroboam II, are dealt with in a brief fashion and none of their political and military achievements are mentioned.
3. The two southern kings who are given the most extensive treatment are Hezekiah and Josiah. They are extolled because of their fidelity to the Mosaic Covenant and their attempted spiritual reform.
4. The only other king that receives extensive treatment is Manasseh, Hezekiah's son. But this is because he is exactly opposite of his father and takes the nation into great sin.
B. Kings continues the theme of Samuel. They form a single history of the period. The rise of propheticism over the priesthood is continued. The non-writing prophets of Elijah and Elisha take up fully one-third of I & II Kings!
C. Kings shows the progressive deviation of the People of God from the Mosaic Covenant. This ultimately issues in the fall of Samaria (722 b.c.) and the fall of Jerusalem (586 b.c.). This was not due to the weakness of YHWH but the sin of the people and their leaders! Covenant fidelity was the chief issue. YHWH was faithful! Solomon, Judah, and Israel were not!
IX. TERMS AND/OR PHRASES AND PERSONS TO BRIEFLY DEFINE
A. I KINGS:
1. Terms and Phrases:
a. "as the Lord lives," 1:29 (NASB & NIV)
b. "ride on my own mule," 1:33 (NASB & NIV)
c. "took hold of the horns of the altar," 1:50; 2:28 (NASB & NIV)
d. Jachin and Boaz, 7:21 (NASB & NIV)
e. "spread out his hands," 8:22 (NASB & NIV)
f. "my little finger is thicker than my father's loins," 12:10 (NIV, ". . .thicker than my father's waist")
g. golden calves, 12:28 (NASB & NIV)
h. "leaped about the altar...cut themselves," 18:26,28 (NIV, "danced...and slashed. ..")
i. "the time of the evening sacrifice," 18:36 (NIV, "at the time of sacrifice")
j. "a sound of gently blowing," 19:12 (NIV, "a gentle whisper")
2. Persons to Briefly Identify:
a. Abishag, 1:3
b. Shimei, 2:8
c. Hiram, 5:1, 7:13
d. Queen of Sheba, 10:10
e. Ashtoreth, 11:5
f. Molech, 11:7
g. Shishak, 11:40
h. Omri, 16:16
i. Naboth, 21:1
j. Micaiah, 22:24
B. II KINGS
1. Terms and Phrases:
a. "chariot and horses of fire," 2:11; 6:17 (NASB & NIV)
b. "he did evil in the sight of the Lord," 3:2 (NIV, ". . .eyes of. . .")
c. "gird up your loins," 4:29 (NIV, "tuck your cloak into your belt")
d. "a kab of dove's dung," 6:25 (NIV, "a cab of seed pods")
e. "the bronze serpent that Moses made," (nehshtan) 18:4 (NASB & NIV)
f. "he made the pool and the conduit," 20:20 (NIV, ". . .a tunnel")
g. "the host of heaven," 21:3 (NIV, "starry hosts")
h. "the Book of the Law," 22:8 (NASB & NIV)
i. Topheth, 23:10 (NASB & NIV)
j. "the bronze sea," 25:13 (NASB & NIV)
2. Persons to Briefly Identify:
a. Gehazi, 4:11
b. Naaman, 5:1
c. Athaliah, 11:1, 3
d. Pul, 15:19
e. Sennacherib, 18:13
f. Manasseh, 21:1
g. Huldah, 22:14
h. Neco, 23:29
i. Jehoiachin, 24:8
j. Seraiah, 25:18
k. Gedaliah, 25:22
X. MAP LOCATIONS (by number)
A. I Kings:
1. En-rogel, 1:9 (Jerusalem)
2. Gihon, 1:33 (Jerusalem)
3. Anathoth, 2:26
4. the brook of Egypt, 8:65 (NIV, "the wadi of Egypt")
5. Megiddo, 9:15
6. Ezion-geber, 9:26
7. Shechem, 12:1
8. Penuel, 12:25
9. the brook of Kidron, 15:13 (NIV, "Kidron Valley")
10. Chinneroth, 15:20 (NIV, "Kinnereth")
11. Samaria, 16:24
12. Mt. Carmel, 18:20
13. the brook of Kishon, 18:40 (NIV, "Kishon Valley")
14. Jezreel, 18:45
B. II Kings:
1. Ekron, 1:2
2. the Abanah and Pharpar Rivers, 5:12
3. Dothan, 6:13
4. Sela, 14:7
5. Elath, 14:22
6. Lachish, 18:14
7. valley of the sons of Hinnom, 23:10 (NIV, ". . .of Ben Hinnom")
8. Megiddo, 23:30
9. Riblah, 25:6
XI. STUDENT CONTENT QUESTIONS
A. I KINGS:
1. List some of the reasons why there was so much turmoil in David's family.
2. Why did Solomon have so many wives? How did they affect him in his old age?
3. Why is so much space and detail given to the Temple?
4. Why did the United Monarchy break up?
5. Describe Ba'al/Asherah worship.
6. What are the theological implications of 22:18-23?
B. II KINGS:
1. Explain the implications of 5:15-18.
2. Explain the implications of 19:19.
3. List the strengths of Hezekiah and the sins of Manasseh.
4. To what does the phrase (22:8), "I have found the book of the Law," refer?
5. Was YHWH's Covenant conditional or unconditional?
XII. For audio and video Bible studies on I and II Kings see www.freebiblecommentary.org , Old Testament Studies
KINGS OF THE DIVIDED KINGDOM
For a good discussion on the problems of dating see E. R. Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings.