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Kings, Book of


KINGS, BOOK OF , biblical book divided into two roughly equal parts, beginning with an account of the end of *David's reign, Solomon's succession and reign, and the disruption of the kingdom at his death, and continuing with the parallel histories of the kingdoms of Judah and Israel until the end of the latter in 723 b.c.e. and of the former in 586 b.c.e. The last event mentioned is the alleviation of the lot of King *Jehoiachin on the accession of *Evil-Merodach to the throne in Babylon in 561 b.c.e. (See Table: Book of Kings- Contents.) Kings is the fourth part of the Former Prophets, its connection with the preceding book – that of Samuel – being indicated by the fact that i Kings 1–2 brings the life of David to a close. The Jewish classification of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings as "the Former Prophets" accurately indicates that the work, though using historical sources, is not secular or objective history but a theological interpretation of Israel's past. Since M. Noth's Ueberlieferungsgeschichtliche Studien (1943, 19572), it has been designated "the Deuteronomistic History." For fuller details of the period see *History.

First Part

The account of Solomon's accession (i Kings 1–2:46) bridges the reigns of David and Solomon. David had risen to the throne through talent and cunning. He was aided by the convenient deaths of Saul, Jonathan, Abner, and *Ish-Bosheth. Solomon was aided by the talent and cunning of his mother and the prophet *Nathan (Cogan). On his own he brought about, the demotion of *Abiathar (2:26–27), the elimination of Joab (2:28–35) and Shimei (2:36–46a), and the death of *Adonijah (2:13–25).

The account of Solomon's reign (3:1–11:43) is composed of miscellaneous matter from the public archives, royal annals, and possibly a Solomon saga. A source explicitly cited is "the Acts of Solomon" (11:41), but it is not known whether this refers to annals or a saga.

The section begins (3:1–15) with the account of Solomon's dream at *Gibeon, in which God offered him a gift, and his choice of wisdom (ḥokhmah), probably meaning primarily practical administrative ability. This is to emphasize Solomon's special endowment, to rule according to the tradition of charismatic authority in Israel, thus supplementing the tradition of the Davidic covenant in authenticating dynastic succession. The authentication of novel measures by a dream-oracle at a shrine is attested in Egypt (so S. Hermann, in: Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift der Karl Marx Universitaet Leipzig, 3 (1953–54), 51–62). This may have been incorporated in a Solomon saga, particularly since wealth and political preeminence were associated with wisdom (3:13), in what may be a secondary development of the original tradition of 3:1–15, like the story of the judgment of Solomon between the two harlots (3:16–28). The popular character of this story is indicated by Gressmann's citation of 22 versions of the same theme from various parts of the world.

The account of Solomon's reign in 4:1–10:29 amplifies the theme of the wisdom of the king. The nature of the subject matter and the sources drawn upon varies according to the interpretation of Solomon's "wisdom" as administrative or academic, some sections interpreting it as the former, others as the latter.

The greatness of Solomon's administration is described

I Kings 1:1–11:43 The Monarchy under David and Solomon.
1:1–2:46The end of David's reign and Solomon's accession.
3:1–10:29The reign of Solomon.
11:1–43The troubles of Solomon's reign and its end.
I Kings 12:1–II Kings 17:41 The Divided Kingdom.
12:1–24The disruption of the Kingdom.
12.25–32Significant events of the reign of Jeroboam I of Israel.
12:33–14:18A prophetic tradition of the reign of Jeroboam.
14:19–16:34Synchronistic history of Israel and Judah.
17:1–II Kings 10:31The reign of Ahab and the fall of the House of Omri.
10:32–17:41Synchronistic history of Israel and Judah.
II Kings 18:1–25:21 Judah alone.
18:1–20:21The reign of Hezekiah.
21:1–26The reigns of Manasseh and Amon.
22:1–23:30The reign and reformation of Josiah.
23:31–35The reign and removal of Jehoahaz.
23:36–25:21The end of the Kingdom of Judah.
II Kings 25:22–30 Appendixes.
25:22–26The Mizpah incident.
25:27–30The captive King Jehoiachin.

as a consequence of his administrative wisdom in the lists of ministers of state (4:1–6) and of fiscal officials and their districts (4:7–19) and the note on the provisions they supplied for the palace (5:7–8 [4:27–28]), which significantly follows 4:19 in the Septuagint. The fact that the aim of these passages is to illustrate the greatness of his administrative wisdom, suggests that 4:20–5:6, describing Solomon's realm "beyond the river" (i.e., west of the *Euphrates), from Tiphsah, the ford of the Euphrates, to Gaza (5:4), together with the specification of the quantities of daily provisions for the palace (5:2–3 [4:22–23]) and the obviously exaggerated note of 40,000 horses (5:6 [4:26], cf. 12,000 in 10:26 and the much more realistic 4,000 in ii Chron. 9:25) are less reliable accretions. The note of his agreement with *Hiram of Tyre (in 9:11–14, excluding the popular etymology of Cabul in verses 12–13), and the explanation of Solomon's corvée (9:15a, 20–23) and the public works in the kingdom and in Jerusalem for which it was levied (9:15b–19) also belong to the account of Solomon's administration. This material was probably derived from archives, but was freely composed in retrospect. The note on the occupation of the palace which Solomon had built for Pharaoh's daughter and the building of the milloʾ (Millo; 9:24), possibly the terrace- and buttress-work on the steep east slope of Jerusalem (so K.M. Kenyon), and the statement concerning the naval enterprises from Ezion-Geber (9:26–28) also derive from state archives.

The incident of the Queen of *Sheba is part of the legend of Solomon's academic wisdom and his magnificence (10:1b, 3–13). To this source, possibly a Solomon saga, may be assigned 5:9–14 [4:29–32], which states that Solomon's wisdom surpassed that of all the men of the East and of Egypt, and was expressed in 3,000 proverbs and 1,005 songs (5:12 [4:32]) and a mass of encyclopedic lore or sayings concerning natural phenomena (5:13 [4:33]). This is not strange inasmuch as ancient Near Eastern kings prided themselves on their wisdom. *Hammurapi claims to have mastered all wisdom as does Ashurbanipal a millennium later.

The theme that occupies the bulk of the account of Solomon's reign is the building of the *Temple, which also marks a period in the Deuteronomistic history as a whole, signifying the culmination of God's grace to Israel and of his confirmation of the Davidic dynasty, foreshadowed in the elaboration of *Nathan's oracle on the Davidic covenant in ii Samuel 7:4ff. Together with the account of the building of the Temple (i Kings 6) and its furnishings (7:13ff.) there are notes on the construction of the palace and public buildings that were connected with it (7:1–12). The marked contrast between the detail in which the Temple and its fittings are described and the vagueness regarding the palace complex suggests that the writer was more familiar with, or more interested in, the Temple, and was probably a priest. Noting that the focus of attention is on measurements (6:2, 3, 6a, 10a, 16a, 17a, 20a, 23b, 24–26), materials (6:7, 9b, 10b, 15, 16a, 20b, 21b, 23a, 31a, 32a, 33, 34a, 35b, 36), and technique (7:9b, 10b, 29a, 32b, 35b, 36), rather than on the more generally interesting and important details concerning the site, orientation, foundations, thickness of walls, method of roofing, and general appearance, and noting also that this material is largely arranged according to materials used, Noth (Koenige, Biblischer Kommentar, 1964– ) suggests that the account of the Temple in i Kings 6 was based on the oral tradition of instructions to the various craftsmen, which was eventually included in the annals of Solomon's reign in the general form in which the Deuteronomistic historian has included it in i Kings 6 and 7. This suggestion would account for the obviously incomplete source-material and the many technical terms that, it is conjectured, have been often misunderstood by the compiler and later glossators, and would account for the fact that the statement concerning the foundation and actual building of the Temple comes at the end (6:37–38), after which 6:1 has been adapted by the compiler as an introduction. The account of the furnishing of the Temple (7:13–50) shows a similar construction. The source which we have assumed for this material may have been incorporated in a priestly history of the Temple, which included notes, rather out of proportion to the context, concerning matters intimately touching the Temple, i.e., war indemnities from the Temple treasure by Rehoboam (14:26–28), Asa (15:18), Jehoash (ii Kings 12:19 [18]), Amaziah (ii Kings 14:14), and Hezekiah (ii Kings 18:15) and the spoilation of the Temple by the Babylonians (ii Kings 24:13; 25:13–17). The special notice given to Joash's reform of Temple finance (ii Kings 12:4–16) and the cultic innovations of *Ahaz (ii Kings 16:10–18) may belong to such a Temple history. The obscurity of much information in the source and the interest in the Temple may have occasioned later accretions.

The compiler has concentrated Solomon's troubles in the end of his account of his reign, though actually the insubordination of Edom (i Kings 11:21) and Damascus (11:25) was earlier. This arrangement exemplifies his theme of the operation of the word of God in the history of Israel through blessing and curse (cf. Deuteronomy 28:1–14 and 15ff.). Thus Solomon's marriages with alien women and his toleration of alien cults are noted with censure, and his political troubles, external and internal (11:14–40), are described as a consequence of this behavior. In this section verses 1–13 are the compiler's resumé, while verses 14–40, the account of the escape and insurrection of Hadad of Edom (14–22; 25b, reading Edom for mt Aram after lxx and Pesh.) and of the rise of Rezon of Damascus (23–25a), are quite free from Deuteronomistic language and comment and were evidently based upon a reliable historical source which was not modified. There is apparently a conflation of two accounts of Hadad's rising, one of which briefly records his refuge in Egypt and his eventual return with Egyptian support, and the other, his refuge with supporters in Midian (al-Ḥismā) in the early days of his exile. The latter might have been drawn from Edomite annals available to a Judean writer during the reign of Jehoshaphat (co-regent, 870–867 b.c.e., king, 867–846 b.c.e.), when Edom was subject to Judah (22:48). The account of the aborted revolt of Jeroboam (11:26–40), prefaced by a note on his origins, probably comes ultimately from the annals of Israel. However, the digression on the role of *Ahijah the prophet of Shiloh in support of Jeroboam (29–32) may be from a prophetic legend, like the story of Ahijah's encounter with Jeroboam's wife (14:1–18). Then follows the compiler's expansion of Ahijah's oracle, elaborating on the defection of the northern tribes as retribution for Solomon's religious laxity (11:33–9). Since the permanence of the Davidic house is assumed in this section (36), it must be part of the compilation in its first stage before the collapse of the monarchy in 586 b.c.e.

The section ends with the standard editorial obituary (41–43), with which the compiler punctuates his work. The decisive phase in the history of Israel signalized by the building and dedication of the Temple complex (8:1–21, 62–66) is marked, like all such crises in the Deuteronomic history, by a formal address, here the prayer of Solomon (8:22–61), which is both retrospective and anticipatory. The main lines along which the tradition of the dedication at the great autumn festival is described are doubtless reliable. This section possibly stems from a priestly history in somewhat free narrative. The prayer of Solomon, however, exhibits traces of the pre-Exilic compiler in its phraseology, in the characteristic theological notions of the divine presence in "the Name" (e.g., 16, 18, 19, 20, 29), of God's transcendence (e.g., 27, 30, 32, 34, 36, 39, 43, 45, 49), and the somewhat mechanical doctrine of sin and retribution (e.g., 34, 46, 47). In references to exile there are probably also evidences of the hand which finished the work after 586 b.c.e. until the definitive redaction around 550 b.c.e.

Second Part

In the second part of Kings (i Kings 12:1–ii Kings 17:41), the compiler is mainly concerned with the calamities of the Northern Kingdom as an illustration of the operation of the word of God in the curse which was a consequence of the tolerance of the ancient calf cult and various deviations from the sole worship of Yahweh. He consistently refers to this in his obituaries and particularly in his lengthy treatment of the reign of Ahab and his house (i Kings 16:29–ii Kings 10:31). This matter is kept in historical perspective in the synchronistic history of Israel and Judah, especially in i Kings 14:19–16:34 and ii Kings 10:32–17:41, with its notices of the accession and death of the various kings with synchronistic chronology. The compiler has drawn this matter selectively from the annalistic sources, the chronicles of the kings of Israel and Judah, to which he repeatedly refers for fuller information on secular history, a sure indication that the nature of his work is a theological interpretation of the history.

The disruption of the kingdom is communicated in a self-contained narrative concerning the rejection of Rehoboam at Shechem (i Kings 12:1, 3b–19 and possibly 20), with practically no editorial comment except verse 15, which connects the event with the prophecy of Ahijah (11:30ff.). The sequel, after an editorial accretion on the suspension of civil war between Rehoboam and the Northern tribes (21–24) and an annalistic note on Jeroboam's fortifications (25), continues with a resume of his organization and staffing of the cult at Beth-El (26–32), followed by a prophetic denunciation of the Beth-El cult in 12:33–13:10. Significant differences in detail in 13:2–3a; 43 and 12:24 between the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint are important for an understanding of the details of Jeroboam's return from Egypt, where Septuagint may have preserved the genuine Israelite tradition.

The account of the reign of Jeroboam in 12:33–14:18 rests on prophetic traditions of varying worth. The denunciation of the cult at Beth-El by a prophet from Judah (12:33–13:10), in which the reference to Josiah's reformation in 13:2 is a later insertion, is part of an ancient prophetic legend, which forms a unity with the story of the death of that prophet because of his unintentional disobedience to his prophetic commission (11–32; so Fichtner, Klopfenstein, Noth). This passage has secondary elements both in the embellishment of prophetic legend by the miraculous (e.g., 4ff.) and in the editorial comment (e.g., 2, 32). The denunciation of Jeroboam and his house (14:1–18), occasioned by his wife's enquiry of Ahijah about their sick son, is an important source for the history of Israel being part of the prophetic adaptation of generally historical narratives (e.g., 16:1–4; 20:1–43; 21:1–19; 22:1–38, ii Kings 9:1–10:28) to express severe criticism of the monarchy in Israel. (It is likely that Ahijah as a Shilonite would have hoped, mistakenly, that in Jeroboam he had found a leader who would restore Shiloh to its ancient cultic prominence.) In i Kings 20:1–43 and 22:1–38 it was probably this prophetic reworking of historical data which introduced Ahab as the king of Israel, the account of whose violent death in verse 37 is apparently contradicted by Ahab's obituary in 22:40.

The rule of the dynasty of Omri from Ahab's succession in Jehu's revolt (i Kings 17:1–ii Kings 10:31) is treated at disproportionate length because of the prophetic traditions of *Elijah and *Elisha and their relevance to the criticism of the liberal religious policy of this dynasty, which probably reflected a contemporary crisis, on which the Deuteronomistic compiler animadverts at length in pursuance of his general theme, the operation of the word of God in the history of Israel. The material is of various character and historical worth.

Certain passages, e.g., i Kings 18 (the ordeal on Carmel), 19 (Elijah at Horeb), 21 (Naboth's vineyard), ii Kings 8:7–15 (Elisha and the coup d'état of Hazael) and 9:1ff. (Elisha and the coup d'état of Jehu), show a sound sense of history and are generally reliable, their critical attitude to the monarchy indicating prophetic authority. The traditions of this type concerning Elijah may rest on the authority of Elisha at the beginning of the eighth century b.c.e., while those concerning Elisha and possibly ii Kings 6:24–7:20 (Elisha in the siege of Samaria) and 13:14–19 (Elisha's encouragement of the king on his deathbed) may rest on the authority of a responsible prophetic circle associated with Elisha, probably in Samaria.

Of less historical value are traditions of Elijah and Elisha of a more personal nature that are not primarily related to historical crises, in which miracles abound, e.g., i Kings 17 (Elijah fed in famine), ii Kings 1 (Elijah calls down fire upon the emissaries of Ahaziah), ii Kings 2:19–22 (Elisha and the water of Jericho); 2:23–25 (Elisha and the rude boys of Beth-El); 4:1–7 (Elisha and the widow's oil); 4:8–37 (Elisha and the Shunammite's son); 4:38–41 (death in the pot); 4:42–44 (Elisha and the multiplication of food); 6:1–7 (Elisha and the floating axe); 6:8–23 (Elisha and the blinding of the Syrians); and perhaps 5 (the healing of Naaman). This matter may owe its inclusion in the Deuteronomistic history to its popularity and its association with Elijah and Elisha; but the compiler, having decided to draw on it, may have used it to emphasize the control over nature exerted by the prophet of yhwh in opposition to the prophet of Baal, as in the ordeal on Carmel in i Kings 18 (so L. Bronnen, The Stories of Elijah and Elisha, 1968).

In the sections devoted to the reign of Ahab and his successors there are rather full historical narratives, e.g., i Kings 20 (the Syrian attack on Samaria with a prophetic anecdote) and 22 (the death of the King of Israel at *Ramoth-Gilead), ii Kings 3:4ff. (the Moabite campaign of Jehoram), ii Kings 6:24–7:20 (the famine in Samaria and the defeat of Benhadad), ii Kings 9:1–10:27 (*Jehu's coup d'état) and ii Kings 13:14–19 (the last meeting of Elisha and King Joash). In these sections the prophet is the central figure, except in the passages concerning the revolt of Jehu, although even this section is introduced by the anointing of Jehu by an emissary of Elisha as the agent of the doom that was proclaimed by Elijah on the house of Ahab. The critical attitude of the prophet to the house of Omri and the phraseology of the oracle of doom on Ahab recalls the prophet Jehu's oracle against Baasha (i Kings 16:1–4), and may belong to the same prophetic adaptation of historical narrative (so Noth, Könige). This source accorded so well with the theme of the Deuteronomic compiler that it needed little adaptation.

In the synchronistic history the general annalistic style, which reflects archival sources, is varied by fuller historical narrative dealing with Athaliah's usurpation of the throne and her suppression of the rise of Joash (ii Kings 11) and Joash's reform of Temple finance (ii Kings 12:4–16). Certain discrepancies in the former in form and substance suggest a compilation of two sources, a priestly tradition (11:1–12, 18b–20) and a popular one (13–18a). The treatment reflects the compiler's interest in the Temple and his sense of the political and religious crisis precipitated by Athaliah. The excursus on Ahaz' innovations in the Temple (ii Kings 16:10–18) reflects the same interest in the Temple on the part of the compiler. With the fall of Samaria in 723 b.c.e. (ii Kings 17) the synchronistic history of Israel and Judah comes to an end. The account of the end of the Kingdom of Israel is based on both Israelite and Judean annals, with comment by the compiler in verses 18 and 21–23, and by the redactor in 7–17 and 19–20, emphasizing the principle of sin and retribution in the history of Israel, familiar in the Deuteronomistic history. There is also an addendum on the Assyrian resettlement of Beth-El (24–28) with expansion on the religion of the province of Samaria (29–33; 34–40 and 41).

Third Part

The third part of Kings, concerning Judah alone, is much more full and detailed, but still limited by the theological nature of the compilation. Thus, despite the significant role played by *Hezekiah in stimulating resistance to Assyria for most of the first 14 years of his reign, the compiler proceeds, after a statement concerning his religious reforms (ii Kings 18:3–6), almost directly to the Assyrian campaign in his 14th year (18:13–19:37). Here, after a short statement on the beginning and end of the campaign (18:13–16), the narrative suddenly expands, describing embassies from *Sennacherib's field headquarters to demand Hezekiah's surrender (19:1–5, 14–19), the encouraging oracles of Isaiah (19:6–7, 20–34; verses 21–31 being secondary), and the fulfillment of the oracle in 19:6–7, in 19:35–37. This is followed by passages from prophetic tradition concerning Isaiah's relations with Hezekiah during the period of his illness (20:1–11) and the Babylonian delegation (20:12–19). Here 18:13, 17–20:19 is closely, if not completely, parallel to Isaiah 36:39. ii Kings 18:17–19:37 evidently consists of two parallel versions of the same incident, 18:17–19:9a, 36–37 and 19:9b–35. These, unlike the annalistic note in 18:13–16, cannot be categorized as history, but are rather popular anecdotal traditions centering on the prophet Isaiah and "the good king Hezekiah" and the theme of God's vindication of his honor and inviolability of his seat on Zion. The prophetic story is probably from the periphery of the tradition of Isaiah, though the actual oracles (19:20, 21–28, 29–31, 32–33, 34) may well be genuine. Assyrian documents concerning the siege of Babylon around 731 b.c.e. support the historicity of the account of the approach of the Assyrian delegation in 18:17–19:7, 36 (so B.S. Childs, Isaiah and the Assyrian Crisis, 1967). The second version (19:9b–35), which summarizes the arguments of the Assyrian envoys in 18:17–19:36 from a theological standpoint and emphasizes Hezekiah's piety in prayer (19:15–19) and Isaiah's assurance that he has been heard, in support of which oracles are cited (21–28, 29–31, 32–33, 34), is an edifying tale concerning the good king Hezekiah. The episode closes with a midrash concerning the oracles (35) and a historical comment on the oracle dealing with Sennacherib's withdrawal and violent death in his homeland (37).

Hezekiah's traditional piety is further dealt with by the compiler in the two oracles of Isaiah delivered during the period of the king's sickness, 20:1–11, composed of verses 1–7, with the simple reassuring oracle (5–6), and the sign of the receding shadow (9–11), which may be a secondary development in prophetic tradition of some saying or token which was more rationally intelligible.

The account of Hezekiah's reign closes with Isaiah's rebuking him for his too cordial welcome of the Babylonian delegates (20:12–19). This may be from an account based on a historical tradition. The incident owes its prominence and perhaps its position, probably out of its real chronological context, to the forthcoming Babylonian Exile. The reigns of Manasseh and Amon (21:1–26) are largely summarized in narrative style by the compiler and the redactor in anticipation of the decline and fall of Judah.

The account of Josiah's reign and reformation (22:1–23:30) comes within 25 years of what we believe to be the completion of the first stage of the compilation of the Deuteronomistic history, so that this may well be a free narrative from the compiler himself of matters in which he had been personally involved or which he might have heard from eyewitnesses. This section is composed of historical narrative from the compiler describing the finding of the lawbook, the covenant and the great Passover (22:3–23:3, 21–25), and the reforms of Josiah (23:4–20), which is based on the annals of Judah. Both have received redactional supplements in the response of the prophetess Huldah (22:16–20), in the elaboration of the incident of the desecration of Bethel (23:16–20), and in the note on the rejection of Jerusalem (23:16–27).

From the death of Josiah until the revolt against Babylon in the reign of Jehoiakim (23:30–24:1) the compiler used the annals of Judah which he freely glossed, the whole being further glossed by the later redactor, who continued in the style and tenor of the pre-Exilic compiler until the fall of Jerusalem in 586 and the deportation under *Nebuchadnezzar (25:21), the work ending with two appendices in historical narrative. The appendix concerning the Mizpah incident and its sequel (25:22–26) is the summary of a fuller historical account in Jeremiah 40:7–41:18, and the one concerning the alleviation of the lot of the captive Jehoiachin (25:27–30) seems to betray the hand of the redactor in Babylon, since it reveals intimate knowledge of local conditions there, illustrated by fiscal dockets from the palace of Nebuchadnezzar concerning rations to Jehoiachin.

Compilation and Redaction

The extant Books of Kings must postdate the accession of Evil-Merodach to the throne of Babylon in 561 b.c.e. (ii Kings 25:27–30). Hoelscher (Gunkel-Eucharisterion, 1 (1923), 158ff.) proposed a date around 500, but it is unlikely that there would have been no mention of the fall of Babylon in 539 b.c.e. and the new prospect for the Jews under Cyrus the Great. Traces of a later hand after this date detected by Noth and Jepsen (Die Quellen des Koenigsbuches, 1953) are associated with the Priestly interest, as in the final compilation of the Pentateuch. It is to be questioned, however, if this amounted to a full-scale redaction of the Deuteronomistic history. At any rate, the Priestly element is certainly at a minimum in Kings. There remains the probability that the main redaction was made around 550 b.c.e. and it has been held (e.g., by M. Noth) that the whole compilation dates from then. There is a certain amount of evidence, however, for a pre-Exilic compilation before this definite Exilic redaction. This is indicated by the persistence throughout Kings of the promise of the permanence of the Davidic dynasty according to the divine covenant with David and by the fact that such references to the final disaster and Exile as do occur (e.g., i Kings 9:6–9; ii Kings 17:19–20; 23:26–27) are obvious intrusions in the context.

Among the views concerning the compilation and subsequent redaction of Kings, Jepsen (op. cit.) contends for a compilation written by a Priestly compiler about the end of the Kingdom of Judah based on the synchronistic chronicle of Israel and Judah to which were added excerpts from the annals of both kingdoms and an Exilic redaction, incorporating especially prophetic traditions together with traditions from Solomon's reign and the Davidic succession story (i Kings 1–2). This according to Jepsen was the definitive Deuteronomistic redaction, the theology of which was normative for the whole work. Like Noth, Jepsen maintains that there were later adjustments, which he terms "the levitical redaction," which we have seen reason to limit. Contending for the first stage of the main compilation before the Exile and a subsequent continuation of the work till a final redaction around 550, Fohrer (Introduction to the Old Testament (1968), 248) marks the break before the death of King Josiah in 609, since ii Kings 23:30 is apparently contrary to the report of the prophecy of Huldah that Josiah will be gathered to his grave "in peace." This, however, may refer to the state of the kingdom rather than to the personal circumstances of Josiah's death. Evidence of a break in the compilation might be detected in the confused and scanty notice of the end of Jehoiakim's reign in 598 (ii Kings 23:36–37) and in the revolt against Babylon (24:1–7), and of the short reign of Jehoiachin in the Babylonian siege in 597 (24:8, 10–12; 24:15). The work could have been continued, perhaps by different hands though in the same style, until a final redaction of the whole soon after 561, which inserted references to the Exile into the earlier compilation. Some scholars have argued for an initial redaction as early as Hezekiah. F. Cross and R. Nelson argue that under Josiah a first pre-exilic Deuteronomistic edition of Kings was produced, which then underwent an exilic/post-exilic redaction. The question has not yet been resolved.

Aims and Purposes

Appreciation of the purpose of Kings depends upon the recognition that it belongs to the Deuteronomistic history as an illustration of the operation of the word of God in the history of Israel, adumbrated in *Deuteronomy 28. After the collapse of the Northern Kingdom and the subsequent deportation, with a similar fate imminent in Judah and realized after 586, doubts of God's purpose for Israel according to the Covenant assurances must have been current. Those are fairly rebutted in the Deuteronomistic history by recalling the consequences of Israel's endorsement of the covenantal obligations under solemn adjuration (Deut. 27:15–26), which are amplified in the final harangue to the assembly of the Covenant community in Deuteronomy 28. For the author of the Deuteronomistic history, as for Deutero-Isaiah, the great disasters, which seemed to some to dissolve the Covenant-association, far from impugning the purpose of God, betokened the consistency and firmness of His purpose. Moreover, in the framework of Judges and in Solomon's prayer at the dedication of the Temple the renewal of God's grace to the contrite is emphasized, and from His consistency in grace as well as in judgment new hope is drawn. To construe the national disasters as consistent with the positive purpose of God as declared in the sacrament of the Covenant, to rally the people in contrition to fidelity to the fundamental religious and ethical demands of the Covenant, and to quicken a sober hope on the basis of the traditional experience of renewed grace was the purpose of the Deuteronomistic historian.


R. Kittel, Die Buecher der Koenige (1900); C.F. Burney, Notes on the Hebrew Text of the Books of Kings (1903); A. Sanda, Die Buecher der Koenige (1911–12); H. Gressmann, Koenige (1921); O. Eissfeldt, Koenige, ed. by E. Kautzsch (1922–234); I.W. Slotki, Kings i and ii (Soncino Bible; 1950); J.A. Montgomery, Kings (icc, 1951); D.N. Freedman and F.M.Cross, in: jnes, 12 (1953), 56–58; A. Malamat, in: vt, 5 (1955), 1ff.; A. Jepsen, Die Quellen des Koenigsbuches (19562); M. Noth, Ueberlieferungsgeschichtliche Studien (19572); idem, Koenige (1964); H.W. Wolff, in: zaw, 63 (1961), 171–86; J. Mauchline, i and ii Kings (1962; Peake's Commentary on the Bible), 338–56; G. Fohrer, Elia (Ger., 19682); J. Gray, i and ii Kings: a Commentary (19702); Kaufmann Y., Toledot, 2 (1960), 335–62. add. bibliography: F. Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic (1973); R. Nelson, The Double Redaction of the Deuteronomistic History (1981); idem, First and Second Kings (1987); L. Rost, The Succession to the Throne of David (1982; translation of 1926 German original); M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, ii Kings (ab; 1988); S. Holloway, in: abd, 4:69–83; G. Keys, The Wages of Sin: The Reappraisal of the "Succession Narrative" (1996); C. Begg, in: dbi, 2:25–28; M. Cogan, iKings (ab; 2000).

[John Gray]

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