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1 Kings

Updated
Dec 31, 2022 12:28 AM
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Old TestamentHistoryNevi'im
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24
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Like with the Book of Samuel, 1 Kings and

were originally one book, known as the Book of Kings. In the original Hebrew text, the Book of Kings is included with the former prophets, however it is grouped with the historical books in the Bible. The Book of Kings spans 400 years of Israel's history. It begins with the glorious reign of Solomon and ends with the Israelites in Babylonian captivity. This book takes us on a parallel journey through the history of both sets of kings, those in the northern kingdom ("Israel") and those in the southern kingdom ("Judah"). It is in 1 and 2 Kings that we meet the prophets Elijah and Elisha, as well.

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Table of Contents

Authorship

Like most books of the Bible, the author of Kings is unknown. Most believe that the book is a compilation of records, with some scholars believing priestly writers to be responsible and others attributing it to prophets.

The complaint of a priestly writer being responsible is where in the northern kingdom, which had turned away from God, was there a suitable priest to keep track of the history?[1]

I understand the unlikelihood of a God-fearing priest present in the northern kingdom, however I don't think this rules out the possibility of a priestly author. Even in the midst of Sodom and Gomorrah, God found Lot and in the midst of the whole earth, God found Noah; this is evidence that even in dismal situations there's always at least one person shining for God. Perhaps there was at least one priest in the north that had not lost his way. Further, we've seen countless examples of God using non-believers to fulfill his purpose. It is quite possible that the person was in sin but God blessed them to keep accurate records simply because He wanted us to have those records. We can't say for sure one way or the other whether this was the case in the authorship of Kings.

Scholars conclude that if the compilation is priestly, Ezra was the final editor, but if the compilation was written by prophets, either Jeremiah or Ezekiel would have been the final editor.[1] Some lean heavier toward Jeremiah due to the similarities between 2 Kings 24-25 and Jeremiah 52.[2]

Dating the Book

1 Kings begins with the death of David in 970 BC and 2 Kings ends with the release of King Jehoiachin from prison in 560 BC. The book is a compilation of records detailing the history of Israel during this time. While it is impossible to identify when each record was written, we know that final compilation could not have been completed before the release of Jehoaichin in 560 BC, since that event is covered in the text. However, 2 Kings does not discuss the return of the Jews to their land, which occurred in 536 BC. This is too major of an event to exclude had the book been compiled after the fact. Thus, it is assumed that the text must have been completed before the return in 536 BC. This gives us an estimated date of completion between 560 and 536 BC.

Themes

The Book of Kings focuses on the kings of Israel (hence the name of the book) and the prophets the serve during each king's reign. In this set of books, we learn the role of each of office, as well as, a bit about revival.

Kings

Through the Davidic covenant, kings were seen as the moral representative of the nation. Blessings and punishments flowed based on the kings action. This pattern continued through the king Azariah (or Uzziah).

Prophets

Prophets were not all the same. Some were miracle workers like Elisha, but others were simply delivering information like Gad or Micah. Kings establishes them before we dive into their writings found later in the Bible.

Revival

Revivals of the kings happened on an individual level and occasionally had a few effects on society as a whole, but the effects never lasted. The nation always returned to idolatry.

Chapter by Chapter Breakdown

Important People

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This section is still under construction.

Kings Discussed in 1 Kings

United Israel

Solomon

Judah (Southern Kingdom)

Rehoboam

Abijah

Asa

Jehosaphat

Israel (Northern Kingdom)

Jeroboam I

Nadab

Baasha

Elaah

Zimri

Omri

Ahab

Ahaziah

References & Footnotes

  1. William MacDonald. Believer's Bible Commentary, pg 350. 1995
  2. David Malick. "An Introduction to the Books of First and Second Kings". Bible.org. June 30, 2004