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Reference: Kings, The Books Of

Easton

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 1Ch 2:55-28:1. 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., 2Ki 24:18-20 and Jer 52; 39:1-10; 40:7-41:10. There are also many undesigned coincidences between Jeremiah and Kings (2KI 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 (Mt 6:29; 12:42; Lu 4:25-26; 10:4; comp. 2Ki 4:29; Mr 1:6; comp. 2Ki 1:8; Mt 3:4, etc.).

The sources of the narrative are referred to (1) "the book of the acts of Solomon" (1Ki 11:41); (2) the "book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah" (1Ki 14:29; 15:7,23, etc.); (3) the "book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel" (2000'>1Ki 14:19; 2000'>15:31; 2000'>16:14,20,27, etc.).

The date of its composition was some time between B.C. 561, the date of the last chapter (2Ki 25), when Jehoiachin was released from captivity by Evil-merodach, and B.C. 538, the date of the decree of deliverance by Cyrus.

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Fausets

Title. In the Septuagint the books are called "the third and fourth of the Kingdoms," in Vulgate "the third and fourth book of Kings." Originally the two were one: Bomberg in his printed editions, 1518, 1549, divided them into two. Three periods are included. The first (1 Kings 1-11), 1015-975 B.C., Solomon's ascent of the throne, wisdom, consolidation of his power, erection of the temple, 40 years' reigning over the undivided twelve tribes; the time of Israel's glory, except that toward the close of his reign his polygamy and idolatry caused a decline, and God threatened the disruption of the kingdom (1 Kings 11). The second period, from the division into two kingdoms to the Assyrian captivity of the ten northern tribes, 975-722 B.C. The third period, from thence, in Hezekiah's reign, until Judah's captivity in Babylon, 722-560 B.C., down to the 37th year of Jehoiachin's exile and imprisonment. The second period (1Ki 12:1-2 Kings 10) comprises three stages:

(1) the enmity at first between Judah and Israel from Jeroboam to Omri, 1Ki 12:1-16:28;

(2) the intermarriage between the royal houses of Israel and of Judah, under Ahab, down to the destruction of both kings, Joram of Israel and Ahaziah of Judah, by Jehu, 1Ki 16:2-29 Kings 10;

(3) the renewal of hostilities, from Jehu's accession in Israel and Athaliah's usurpation in Judah to Israel's captivity in Hezekiah's sixth year, 1 Kings 11-17.

The book is not a mere chronicle of kings' deeds and fortunes, but of their reigns in their spiritual relation to Jehovah the true, though invisible, King of the theocracy; hence it is ranked in the canon among "the prophets." The prophets therefore as His ministers, guardians of His rights, and interpreters of His counsel and will, come prominently forward in the book to maintain His prerogative before the kings His viceroys, and to counsel, warn, and punish as He who spoke in them deemed necessary, confirming their word by miraculous signs. Thus, Samuel by His direction anointed Saul and David to reign over His people; Nathan announced God's promise that David's throne and seed should be forever (2 Samuel 7); then when he sinned Nathan remounted his punishment, and upon his repentance immediate forgiveness (2 Samuel 12); similarly, Gad (2 Samuel 24). Nathan announced Solomon's appointment as successor (2Sa 12:25; 1Ch 22:9); anointed and installed him instead of Adonijah, the older brother (1 Kings 1).

Thenceforth, David's seed having been established in Judah in conformity with God's promise (2 Samuel 7), the prophets' agency in Judah was restricted to critical times and special cases requiring the expression of Jehovah's will in the way of either reproof of declension or encouragement of faithfulness. But in Israel their agency was more continuous and prominent, because of the absence of Jehovah's ordinary ministers the priests and Levites, and because of the state idolatry of the calves, to which Ahab added Baal worship. Jehovah appeared to Solomon at Gibeon shortly after his accession, again after his dedication of the temple, finally by a prophet, probably Ahijah, after his declension (1Ki 3:5, etc.; 1Ki 9:1, etc.; 1Ki 11:11, etc., 1 Kings 29). Elijah "the prophet as fire, whose words burned as a torch" (Sir 48:1), as champion of Jehovah, defeated Baal's and Asherah's prophets at Carmel; and averted utter apostasy front northern Israel by banding God's prophets in schools where Jehovah's worship was maintained, and a substitute supplied for the legal temple worship enjoyed by the godly in Judah.

The choice and treatment of materials was determined by the grand theme of the book, namely, the progressive development of the kingdom of God historically, in conformity with the divine promise through Nathan to David which is its germ: "I will set up thy seed after thee, and I will establish his kingdom ... forever. I will be his Father and lie shall be My son; if he commit iniquity I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men; but My mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul" (2Sa 7:12-17). This is the guiding clue through the whole history. This book records its fulfillment, Jehovah prospering the pious kings of David's seed, chastising the backsliders, then casting away yet not for ever.

Notwithstanding Adonijah's attempt, Solomon is at the outset recorded as receiving David's kingdom as Jehovah had promised; he receives at Gibeon the renewal of the promise, on condition of faithfulness, and in answer to his prayer receives wisdom, and also riches and honour which he had not asked for; then after rearing the temple receives God's confirmation of the promise conditionally, "if there wilt walk before Me as David I will establish thy kingdom forever; but if ye (thou and thy people) shall at all turn from following Me ... then will I cut off Israel out of the land"; then in old age was sentenced for forsaking the covenant to have the kingdom rent from him and given to his servant; yet the grace unchangeably promised in 2 Samuel 7 mitigates the stroke, for David's sake the rending should take place not in Solomon's but in his son's days. Moreover one portion (Judah, also Benjamin, Simeon, and Dan in part Israel and Judah was reserved with Jerusalem for David's seed, and should not go with the other ten tribes to Jeroboam. (See ISRAEL; JUDAH.) )

The reigns of Israel's kings are more elaborately detailed, and previously to those of Judah, because Israel, with its crying evils requiring extraordinary prophetic interposition so frequently, furnished more materials for the theme of the book than Judah of which the development was more equable. All matters of important bearing on the kingdom of God in Judah are described fully. In both alike Jehovah appears as the gracious, long suffering God, yet the just punisher of the reprobate at last, but still for His covenant sake sparing and preserving a remnant, notwithstanding the idolatry of several even of Judah's kings (1Ki 15:4; 2Ki 8:19; 11:1-2). Jehovah promised, on condition of faithfulness, to Jeroboam too a sure house and the throne of Israel, but not for ever, only so long as the separate kingdom should last; for He added, "I will for this afflict the seed of David but not for ever" (1Ki 11:38-39).

Judah survived Israel's destruction because of its firm political basis in the continuous succession, of David's line, and its religious basis in the divinely appointed temple and Levitical priesthood. But Ahaz' impiety (though counteracted in part by godly Hezekiah) and especially Manasseh's awful blood. shedding and idolatry (the effects of which on the people the faithful Josiah could only undo externally) at last provoked God to give up Judah too to captivity; so Jehoiachin first and Zedekiah last were led away to Babylon, and Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed. The book, in happy consonance with its design, closes with Jehoiachin's elevation from the prison to the highest throne of the vassal kings at Babylon, an earnest of brighter days to the covenant people, the first ray of the dawn of God's returning favor, and of His restoring the Jews, and of His fulfilling His promise that the kingdom and seed of David shall be forever. Relationship to 1 and 2 Samuel. Characteristics. The opening "now" marks that the books of Kings continue the books of Samuel, carrying on the history of the development of the kingdom, as foretold in the fundamental promise (2 Samuel 7).

Nevertheless, the uniformity of the treatment of the history, and the unity of the language, mark that the work is independent of 1 and 2 Samuel. The author quotes from his original sources with standing formulas. He gives chronological notes: 1Ki 6:1 (the number 480 is a copyist's error, (See CHRONOLOGY; JUDGES.) ) 1Ki 6:37-38; 7:1; 9:10; 11:42; 14:20-21,25; 15:1-2,9-10. Moses' law is his standard for judging the kings (1Ki 2:3; 3:14; 2Ki 10:31; 11:12; 14:6; 17:37; 18:6; 21:8; 22:8; 23:3,21). He describes in the same phrase the beginning, character, and close of each reign (2000'>1Ki 11:43; 8/type/kj2000'>14:8,20,31; 15:3,8,11-24,26/type/kj2000'>26,34; 22:43,51,53; 16:19,26/type/kj2000'>26,30; 2Ki 3:2-3; 8:24; 9/type/kj2000'>10:29,31; 12:3; 13:2,9,11; 14:3,29; 15:3, etc.

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