Kings, The Books of

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 Chr. 28-2 Chr. 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 Jer. 52; 39:1-10; 40:7-41:10. There
are also many undesigned coincidences between Jeremiah and Kings
(2 Kings 21-23 and Jer. 7:15; 15:4; 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 (Matt. 6:29;
12:42; Luke 4:25, 26; 10:4; compare 2 Kings 4:29; Mark 1:6; compare
2 Kings 1:8; Matt. 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" (14:29; 15:7, 23, etc.); (3)
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 some time between B.C. 561,
the date of the last chapter (2 Kings 25), when Jehoiachin was
released from captivity by Evil-merodach, and B.C. 538, the date
of the decree of deliverance by Cyrus.