About the Books of 1 Kings and 2 Kings
A Bible text and commentary on the book of 2 Kings. Written by Philip Smith. March 2009.
The Books of 1 Kings and 2 Kings used to be one book. That book continued the account of the events that happened to *Israel. The events happened after those in the Books of 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel. Some people translated 1 Kings and 2 Kings into Greek (the language that people spoke in Greece). They divided it into two books. They probably did that so that the text would fit into the scrolls. (Scrolls were very long pieces of paper. People wrote on them. Then they rolled them up.)
We do not know who wrote 1 Kings and 2 Kings. Many people think that the author was an unknown *prophet from Babylon. The author (or authors) used a lot of information from Isaiah, Jeremiah, 1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles. (Chronicles are lists of events. The events are in the order in which they happened. The Books of Chronicles in the Bible are also about *Israel’s and *Judah’s kings.) The author refers to some other books too, which are unknown today. He refers to the ‘book about Solomon’s acts’. The author also refers to the official records about *Israel’s kings and *Judah’s kings. And he uses collections of stories about the *prophets Elisha, Micaiah and Isaiah.
Contents and purpose
The Book of 2 Kings is a history of *Israel’s and *Judah’s kings. Until Solomon died, there was one nation called *Israel. But after his death, the nation divided into two *kingdoms. The southern *kingdom was called *Judah. The northern *kingdom was usually called *Israel.
The author of 2 Kings writes about the events in both of these *kingdoms in turn. The author writes much about the kings that affected the religion in each *kingdom. In 1 Kings, the author said a lot about the *prophet called Elijah. In 2 Kings, he says a lot about another *prophet called Elisha.
The author of 2 Kings believes that the people should obey the laws in the Book of Deuteronomy. The important question is whether they did so or not. His opinion about them depends on that.
· In the northern *kingdom called *Israel, all the kings refused to obey God’s law. They did not give honour to God at Jerusalem. They *worshipped false gods. These kings were evil men; and most people in that *kingdom imitated their behaviour.
· In the southern *kingdom called *Judah, the behaviour of the kings and the people varied. Some of them obeyed God’s law; but many did not.
In the end, the rulers of both *kingdoms became very evil. So God allowed their enemies to attack them and to defeat them. This happened because the kings and the people refused to obey God.
The author records all these events. His purpose is to remind people in future centuries about the importance of God’s law.
(The notes at the start of our Commentary on 1 Kings explain more about the books.)