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1 and 2 Kings

KINGS, 1 AND 2, BOOKS OF. These are named in English, as in Hebrew, by subject matter: They cover four centuries of Israelite kings, from David (his death in 930 b.c.) to Jehoiachin (in Babylon, after 561). They thus provide a sequel to the books of Samuel, which cover the reigns of Saul and David. The LXX actually entitles 1 and 2 Samuel “Books A and B of the Kingdoms” (Latin Vulgate and kjv subtitle: “I and II Books of the Kings”), so that 1 and 2 Kings become, correspondingly, “III and IV King(dom)s.” Like Samuel, Kings was written as a unit but was divided in two at the time of the LXX translation, about 200 b.c. In the original Hebrew canon (the Law, Prophets, and Writings), Kings preceded Isaiah-Malachi as the concluding volume of the “former prophets,” following Joshua, Judges, and Samuel. For though listed among the “historical books” in English (and Greek), these four works possess an essentially prophetic character (contrast the priestly volumes of Chronicles), employing the events of past history as a vehicle for contemporary preaching (cf. Dan.9.6). Thus, even as Isaiah scanned the future to motivate his people’s obedience (Isa.1.19-Isa.1.20), so the anonymous author of Kings drove home lessons, born of previous disasters, “because they had not obeyed the Lord their God” (2Kgs.18.12).

Bibliography: John Gray, I & II Kings: A Commentary, 1963; J. Robinson, The First Book of Kings, 1972, and The Second Book of Kings, 1976.——JBP