Books of Kings in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE

LITERATURE I. Title. The Hebrew title reads, melakhim, "kings," the division into books being based on the Septuagint where the Books of Kings are numbered 3rd and 4th, the Books of Kingdoms (Basileion), 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.gs (stadia) from Jerusalem, which he named Absalom's Hand." In all probability this "pillar" was a rough upright stone--a matstsebhah--but its site is lost. The traditional Greek-Egyptian tomb of perhaps 100-200 years BC which has been hewn out of the rock on the eastern side of the Kidron valley is manifestly misnamed "Absalom's pillar," and the Kidron ravine (nachal) cannot be the King's Vale (`emeq). 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 Ki 1 through 2:11); Solomon and his times (1 Ki 2:12 through 11:43); the Northern Kingdom to the coming of Assyria (1 Ki 12:16 through 2 Ki 17:41) (937-722 BC), including 9 dynastic changes; the Southern Kingdom to the coming of Babylon (1 Ki 12:1 through 2 Ki 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 Ki 25:22-30). A simpler outline, that of Driver, would be: (1) Solomon and his times (1 Ki 1 through 11); (2) Israel and Judah to the fall of Israel (1 Ki 12 through 2 Ki 17); Judah to the fall of Jerusalem (586 BC), and the captivity to the liberation of Jehoiachin (561 BC) (2 Ki 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...

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