The Books of Kings
Kings 2:11 - And the days that David reigned over Israel
[were] forty years: seven years reigned he in Hebron, and thirty
and three years reigned he in Jerusalem.
1 Kings 2:12 - Then sat Solomon upon the throne of David his father; and his kingdom was established greatly.
1 Kings 8:27 - But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?
1 Kings 8;6 - And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the LORD unto his place, into the oracle of the house, to the most holy [place, even] under the wings of the cherubims.
The Old Testament - A Brief Overview
Bible Survey - Kings
Hebrew Name - Melechim "kings"
Greek Name - basilia (Greek form of the Hebrew)
Author - Jeremiah (According to Tradition)
Date - From 1015-562 BC Approximately
Theme of 1 Kings - The division of the kingdom
Theme of 2 Kings - The history of Israel and Judah
Types and Shadows - In Kings Jesus is the peaceful King
Ark Relief at Capernaum Synagogue
The ancient Ark of the covenant of Israel is one the most famous items in all of antiquity. There is no trace of the Ark of the covenant, yet it is memorialized by this Scripture block at the synagogue of Capernaum, created in Greco-Roman style. In the Bible the Ark of the Covenant was captured by the Philistines, and later returned because of sudden plagues that happened upon their lands. Through the valley of sorek it was taken back to Israel to Beth-shemesh.
Summary of The Books of Kings
The books of Kings were originally one book in the ancient Hebrew manuscripts, and the writers of the Septuagint divided them. They were called the Third and Fourth Books of Kingdoms, although in the Hebrew manuscript the title was called Kings, exactly the same as we have in our English Bible. The books of Kings follow the books of Samuel chronologically.
The time period extends from the anointing of King Solomon (1015 BC) throughout the history of Israel and Judah all the way to the death of Jehoiachin after he was freed from Babylonian imprisonment (561 BC). The book of 1 Kings begins with Solomon, and not David or Saul because the books of Samuel cover their lives. Under King Solomon the dominion of Israel extended from the Euphrates River all the way to the Mediterranean Sea and down to the Egyptian border (1 Kings 4:21). At the end of each the kingdoms of Israel and Judah the remaining kings were not seeking God and became a sad remnant who were puppets of either Egypt or Assyria or Babylon until they were finally uprooted and taken away. The beginning of all of their problems happened after the death of Solomon when his sons Rehoboam and Jeroboam divided the kingdom, 10 of the tribes went with Jeroboam to the north (Israel), and 2 of the tribes remained with Rehoboam in the south (Judah). All 19 of Israel's Kings followed the heathen nations and were idol worshipers and evil, leading Israel into sin bringing upon themselves the wrath of God. They were destroyed and taken captive to Assyria in 722 BC. In the southern kingdom of Judah 8 out of their 20 Kings sought the Lord and the rest forsook him also bring the wrath of God when the Babylonian captivity took place under King Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC.
It is difficult to give a precise chronology of the books of Kings. According to Hebrew tradition Jeremiah was the author, and wrote shortly after the events have taken place. The Books of Chronicles record the events of the same time period from a different perspective.
The books of Kings may be arranged with this quick outline:
Outline of the Books of Kings
I. The Reign of Solomon (1 Kings 1:1 -14:43)
1) The last days of David (1 Kings 1:1-2:11). Adonijah usurps David's throne, but flees after the anointing of Solomon. David dies and is buried in Jerusalem.
2) Solomon's formal accession to the throne and the early days of his reign (1 Kings 2:12-46).
3) Solomon's request for wisdom and his sagacious decision concerning the disputed child (1 Kings 3).
4) A description of Solomon's power, wealth, and wisdom (1 Kings 4). In this section we learn that Solomon wrote over 3,000 proverbs and 105 songs. For a further discussion of this, see the introduction to Proverbs.
5) The erection of Solomon's temple (1 Kings 5-8).
6) A further description of the splendor of Solomon's kingdom (1 Kings 9-10). After mentioning the stables, the navy and the great riches of the kingdom, the narrative records the visit of the queen of Sheba, who was so impressed by the scene that she remarked, "Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it; and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which heard" (1 Kings 10:7).
7) Solomon's wives and apostasy (1 Kings 11). One cannot read this chapter seriously without being saddened. In his search for wealth and pleasure, Solomon contracted a large number of foreign wives—many, no doubt, for political reasons. These women brought their foreign deities with them and eventually Solomon's heart was turned away from the Lord "and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father" (1 Kings 11:4). Whether or not Solomon was "the preacher" of Ecclesiastes cannot be proved beyond doubt. If he was, however, surely the situation to which this chapter bears witness would lead him to the statement of cynicism and despair: "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity, saith the preacher" (Ecclesiastes 1:2).
II. The Divided Kingdom (1 Kings 12:1-2 Kings 17:41)
1) The division of the kingdom (1 Kings 12). After Solomon's death, his son Rehoboam became king. Instead of lightening the heavy tax burden which Solomon's extravagances had forced on the people, Rehoboam decided to increase it. Disgruntled, the ten northern tribes chose Jeroboam as their leader and seceded from the union with the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. In order to keep his people from returning to worship in Jerusalem, where they might be influenced to stand with Rehoboam, the king of the North instituted the worship of the golden calf. This act of political expediency was the major factor in Israel's ultimate humiliation.
2) The remainder of Jeroboam's reign (1 Kings 13:1-14-20). This section includes a rebuke to Jeroboam by a man of God which contains an amazing prophecy concerning the reformation of Josiah (v. 2), which was not to be fulfilled for over 300 years (2 Kings 23:15-18).
3) Rehoboam, Abijam and Asa, kings of Judah (1 Kings 14:21-15:24).
4) Kings of Israel from Nadab to Omri (1 Kings 14:25-16:28).
5) Ahab, Jezebel and Elijah (1 Kings 16:29-22:40). These three individuals stand out as among the more memorable in all the history of Israel, the first two for their consummate wickedness and the latter for his fiery zeal and courageous efforts in the service of God. 1 Kings 17 tells of the feeding of Elijah by the ravens and his boarding at the house of the widow of Zarephath during the three and a half year drought which was on the land. 1 Kings 18 informs us that Jezebel's wickedness prompted her to subsidize Baal worship and a cult of heathen prophets, while she strove to exterminate the prophets of God (verse 13). Also contained in this chapter is the magnificent story of Elijah's "duel" with the prophets of Baal atop Mt. Carmel. 1 Kings 19 records the anger of Jezebel at Elijah's having slain her prophets and her threat upon his life. Elijah is reduced to desperation, but is comforted by the "still, small voice" (verses 11, 12). 1 Kings 20-22 relate other incidents concerning Ahab, including his brutal treatment of Naboth and his death at the hands of the Syrians.
6) Jehoshaphat of Judah (1 Kings 22:41-50).
7) Ahaziah of Israel (1 Kings 22:51-2 Kings 1:18).
8) Elijah's translation and the imparting of his spirit to Elisha (2 Kings 2).
9) Jehoram of Israel (2 Kings 3).
10) The ministry of Elisha the prophet (2 Kings 4-7). Elisha's ministry was characterized by a considerable number of miracles, including the resurrection from the dead of the son of the Shunammite woman, the healing of Naaman's leprosy, and the floating axe head. Ch. 8 records the strange phenomenon of a prophet's anointing the head of a foreign king to punish the prophet's own people. Instructions to this effect had been given to Elijah (I Kings 19:15).
11) Jehoram and Ahaziah of Judah (2 Kings 8:16-29).
12) Jehu, king of Israel (2 Kings 9-10). Having been anointed by Elisha to punish the house of Ahab for its great wickedness, Jehu set about his task with a frightening zeal. Everything which is known of him can be characterized by the statement in 2 Kings 9:20:"he driveth furiously."
13) Miscellaneous kings of Israel and Judah (2 Kings 11-16). During his period Israel reached a period of great prosperity under Jeroboam II, regaining many of the areas which she had previously lost.
14) The captivity of Israel by Assyria in 722 BC (2 Kings 17). The last king of Israel was Hoshea. He, like the nineteen kings before him, was guilty of idolatrous worship. Finally, after repeated efforts by the prophets to turn the people from their idols, God allowed the ten tribes of Israel to be carried out of their homeland.
III. The Kingdom of Judah Alone (2 Kings 18-25)
This section contains an account of the last nine kings of Judah and the fall of Jerusalem. Also see the introduction to the books of Chronicles. Although the books of Kings contain a great deal of historical material, history is not their primary concern. In the Hebrew canon, they are classified, along with Joshua, Judges and the books of Samuel, as "The Prophets." The message is more spiritual than political. The writers of these books have written their history with a focus on devotion to God, the factual information is mentioned for illustration and confirmation. Examining the writings of the prophets is important when researching history, especially Isaiah and Jeremiah. An intimate acquaintance with these prophets is essential for a clear grasp of the meaning of these books.
Quick Reference Maps - 1 Kings
The Period of the Kings
The Empire of David and Solomon
The Kingdom of David
Solomon's Temple Illustration
Chart - The House of the LORD
Ophir and Tarshish
Israel and Judah During the Time of Rehoboam
Zaraphath and Mount Carmel
1 Kings Resources
More About the Book of
More About the Book of 2 Kings
1 Kings in the Picture Study Bible
2 Kings in the Picture Study Bible
Timeline of the Ancient World
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