Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges.
General Editor:—J. J. S. PEROWNE, D.D.
Bishop of Worcester.
THE SECOND BOOK
WITH INTRODUCTION AND NOTES
THE REV. J. RAWSON LUMBY, D.D.
NORRISIAN PROFESSOR OF DIVINITY.
EDITED FOR THE SYNDICS OF THE UNIVERSITY PRESS.
AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS.
[All Rights reserved.]
BY THE GENERAL EDITOR
The General Editor of The Cambridge Bible for Schools thinks it right to say that he does not hold himself responsible either for the interpretation of particular passages which the Editors of the several Books have adopted, or for any opinion on points of doctrine that they may have expressed. In the New Testament more especially questions arise of the deepest theological import, on which the ablest and most conscientious interpreters have differed and always will differ. His aim has been in all such cases to leave each Contributor to the unfettered exercise of his own judgment, only taking care that mere controversy should as far as possible be avoided. He has contented himself chiefly with a careful revision of the notes, with pointing out omissions, with suggesting occasionally a reconsideration of some question, or a fuller treatment of difficult passages, and the like.
Beyond this he has not attempted to interfere, feeling it better that each Commentary should have its own individual character, and being convinced that freshness and variety of treatment are more than a compensation for any lack of uniformity in the Series.
i. Title and Divisions, Date, Author, Canonicity and Sources of the Books of Kings
ii. Hebrew Text and Versions
iii. Summary of the contents of the Books of Kings
iv. Historical survey of the Books of Kings
v. Character of the Books of Kings, and their relation to the other books of the Old Testament
II. Chronological Table
The Holy Land
The Kingdom of Israel
Assyria, Armenia and Syria
*** The Text adopted in this Edition is that of Dr Scrivener’s Cambridge Paragraph Bible. A few variations from the ordinary Text, chiefly in the spelling of certain words, and in the use of italics, will be noticed. For the principles adopted by Dr Scrivener as regards the printing of the Text see his Introduction to the Paragraph Bible, published by the Cambridge University Press.
i. Title and Divisions, Date, Author, Canonicity and Sources of the Books of Kings
(a) What we name 1 and 2 Kings was anciently only one book, called by the Jews ‘the Book of Kings.’ It was broken into two parts by the Greek translators of the Septuagint, who did the same by the book of Samuel and the book of Chronicles, which also at first were both single books. The division between 1 and 2 Kings is made in the middle of the short reign of Ahaziah, king of Israel, a severance which would never have been made by the compiler. Having made two parts out of Samuel, and two out of the Kings, the Greek translators named the four portions thus formed, the first, second, third and fourth books of the kingdoms, or, of the kings. The Latin versions followed the divisions, but not the names, of the Greek. The two portions of Samuel, they called 1 and 2 Samuel, and our books 1 and 2 Kings. Jerome though he knew that each of these pairs was but one book, did not attempt to change titles which had been so long accepted. And the whole of the Western Church has followed the Vulgate.
 On this see Jerome’s preface to the Books of Samuel and Kings.
The Jews did not for many centuries adopt the division which had thus become current among Christians. They were led to do so at last for readiness of reference in the frequently recurring controversies between the Christians and themselves. The earliest adoption by the Jews of the Christian chapters in the Old Testament has generally been attributed to Rabbi Isaac Nathan, who began a Concordance in 1437. But in the Cambridge University Library there is a Hebrew MS., of at least a century earlier date, in which the Christian divisions are marked all the way through. Into printed Hebrew Bibles they were introduced by Daniel Bomberg in 1518.
 No. 13. See Catalogue of Heb. MSS. by Dr Schiller-Szinessy, p. 17.
(b) To the date of the compilation of the Book of Kings we are guided by the latest events that are mentioned in it. The last chapter (2 Kings 25) concludes with the 37th year of Jehoiachin’s captivity, when Evil-Merodach released him from prison. This happened b.c. 562. But this last chapter and a few verses 18–20 of chapter 24 are identical with chapter 52 of the prophecy of Jeremiah. There however the closing words of chapter 51 ‘Thus far are the words of Jeremiah’ plainly shew that what follows was added by one who thought it no integral part of the prophecy, but added it to complete the historical notices found in other parts of that book, and added it most likely from this book of Kings. We may therefore conclude that this book was compiled after b.c. 562. But the compiler has no word, even of hope, to record concerning the final deliverance of the nation from captivity. That deliverance commenced with the decree of Cyrus, b.c. 536, though the final migrations did not take place till the days of Nehemiah nearly a century later, b.c. 445. Had he known of any movement in the direction of a return, the compiler of Kings would surely have made mention of it. He is cheered, apparently, at the close of his work, by the clemency shewn to Jehoiachin. He would hardly have passed over any agitation for the national redemption without a word of notice. The book was therefore finished before b.c. 536, and its date lies between that year and b.c. 561.
(c) Who the compiler was we have no means of deciding. The Jewish tradition ascribes it to Jeremiah. But this is exceedingly improbable. The closing events recorded took place in Babylon. But at the overthrow of Jerusalem, Jeremiah was carried by the anti-Babylonian faction into Egypt (Jeremiah 43:6-7) and after his arrival there we know not what befel him. His outspoken prediction, however, of evils to come on Egypt and on those who sought shelter there was not likely to go unpunished by the Jews who had brought him with them. Jewish writings speak of his escape to Babylon. But the statement is merely an opinion in support of the current tradition. Nothing whatever is known of his fate, and there is no ground whatever, beyond tradition, for supposing him to have been the compiler of the Kings.
 T. B. Baba Bathra 15 a.
 Seder Olam Rabba 20.
(d) In the Hebrew Bible the book stands as part of the division called by the Jews ‘the Earlier Prophets.’ From the Jews it was received into the Christian Canon, and there has never been any question about its acceptance.
(e) The compiler specifies three sources from which his narrative is drawn:
(1) The Book of the acts of Solomon (1 Kings 11:41) as the authority for Solomon’s reigns.
(2) The Book of the Chronicles of the kings of Judah, mentioned fifteen times: for the acts of Rehoboam (1 Kings 14:29); of Abijam (1 Kings 15:7); of Asa (1 Kings 15:23); of Jehoshaphat (1 Kings 22:45); of Joram (2 Kings 8:23); of Joash (2 Kings 12:19); of Amaziah (2 Kings 14:18); of Azariah (2 Kings 15:6); of Jotham (2 Kings 15:36); of Ahaz (2 Kings 16:19); of Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:20); of Manasseh (2 Kings 21:17); of Amon (2 Kings 21:25); of Josiah (2 Kings 23:28) and of Jehoiakim (2 Kings 24:5).
(3) The Book of the Chronicles of the kings of Israel, quoted seventeen times: in the history of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat (1 Kings 14:19); of Nadab (1 Kings 15:31); of Baasha (1 Kings 16:5); of Elah (1 Kings 16:14); of Zimri (1 Kings 16:20); of Omri (1 Kings 16:27); of Ahab (1 Kings 22:39); of Ahaziah (2 Kings 1:18); of Jehu (2 Kings 10:34); of Jehoahaz (2 Kings 13:8); of Joash (2 Kings 13:12); of Jeroboam ii. (2 Kings 14:28); of Zachariah (2 Kings 15:11); of Shallum (2 Kings 15:15); of Menahem (2 Kings 15:21); of Pekahiah (2 Kings 15:26); and of Pekah (2 Kings 15:31).
We have but to turn to the Books of Chronicles to find out the character of the writings to which these three general titles are given. The Chronicler adheres so closely to the language of Kings throughout the history of Solomon, that a comparison at once convinces us that he drew his narrative from the same documents as the earlier compiler. But he (2 Chronicles 9:29) describes his authorities as ‘the Book’ (R.V. history) ‘of Nathan the prophet, the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and the visions of Iddo the seer.’
We find here the key to the origin and character of all the three sources of information accessible to the compiler of Kings. ‘The Book of the acts of Solomon’ comprised three works written by prophets contemporary with Solomon, and which, embracing the whole period of his reign, were naturally soon gathered into one treatise, and called by one collective name. The prophetic spirit and the religious drift of all we read in the history is thus accounted for. In the notes it has been remarked that the whole purpose of the narrative is to picture Solomon’s life a success, and the building of the Temple as acceptable, in so far only as the one was led in the fear of Jehovah, and the other stood as a token of obedience to the divine will; and that when Solomon’s decline began, it is God who is represented as raising up the adversaries against him. A record of such a character is the composition of no mere historiographer, but bears on the face of it the imprint of prophetic hands.
When we turn to the second authority which the compiler quotes, ‘the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah’ and compare with it the works cited by the Chronicler, the same conclusion is arrived at. ‘The Book’ (R.V. histories) ‘of Shemaiah the prophet and Iddo the seer’ are quoted by him (2 Chronicles 12:15) as containing the events of the reign of Rehoboam, and his narrative, drawn from thence, is practically identical with the record in Kings. The same may be said concerning Abijam’s reign, for which the Chronicler refers (2 Chronicles 13:22) to ‘the story’ (R.V. commentary) ‘of the prophet Iddo.’ The authority which he gives for Jehoshaphat’s reign (2 Chronicles 20:34) is ‘the Book’ (R.V. history) ‘of Jehu, the son of Hanani.’ And after this reference a sentence follows, translated in R.V. thus: ‘which is inserted in the Book of the kings of Israel.’ This is precisely the explanation to which all the evidence tends. The prophets wrote their several books, and as time went on they were taken up, and included in the large collection which at last acquired the title ‘the Book of the Chronicles of the kings of Israel (or Judah).’ We find it noticed further (2 Chronicles 26:22) that Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz was the writer of the history of Azariah (Uzziah), and also (2 Chronicles 32:32) of the acts and good deeds of Hezekiah. But here again it is stated expressly that ‘the vision of Isaiah’ is included in ‘the Book of the kings of Judah and Israel.’ Once more concerning Hezekiah’s son, Manasseh, the Chronicler tells us that his acts are to be found partly ‘in the Book of the kings of Israel’ (2 Chronicles 33:18) and in the following verse, that other things concerning him are written ‘in the history of Hozai’ as the R.V. renders, but the LXX., which the A.V. follows, translated ‘among the sayings of the seers.’
 The A. V. gave for this clause ‘who is mentioned in the Book of the kings of Israel,’ but on the margin was added the literal rendering of the Hebrew ‘was made to ascend,’ which when applied to the book and not to the person intimates what is now expressed in R. V.
With regard to the other kings, whose history is recorded in Chronicles, the writer is content with referring to ‘the Book of the kings of Judah and Israel,’ as he does (2 Chronicles 16:11) for Asa, and (2 Chronicles 25:28) for Amaziah, and (2 Chronicles 28:26) for Ahaz; or, with the names of the kingdoms in reverse order, to ‘the Book of the kings of Israel and Judah,’ as (2 Chronicles 27:7) for Jotham, (2 Chronicles 35:27) for Josiah, and (2 Chronicles 36:8) for Jehoiakim. In one case, that of Joash, (2 Chronicles 24:27) he merely calls his authority ‘the story’ (R.V. commentary) ‘of the book of the kings.’ The three modes of reference last mentioned seem to indicate that before the Chronicler undertook his work, the process of combination had gone on so far as to convert all these separate ‘commentaries,’ ‘histories,’ ‘visions,’ and ‘stories’ into one comprehensive work which could be cited indifferently as ‘the Book of the kings of Judah and Israel,’ or, ‘of Israel and Judah,’ or simply as ‘the Book of the kings.’
Of the kings of Israel, except in one or two places where their acts are interwoven with, and affect the history of, the kingdom of Judah, the Chronicler makes no mention. We may safely conclude, however, from the way in which he so often speaks of the ‘Book of the kings of Israel and Judah,’ that he had before him their annals also, though it was foreign to his purpose to record much of them. And the whole history of both kingdoms had been put together on the same plan, and out of like materials, these materials being the writings of the prophets who flourished during the several reigns. We need not then be surprised to find large sections of ‘the Book of kings’ devoted to the lives of the great prophets Elijah and Elisha, and to the history of Micaiah’s appearance before Ahab. The writings of the prophets were not exhausted by the history of the two kingdoms, and no theme would more commend itself to the prophetic scribe than the mighty works of those two champions, who stood forth, at a time when the house of Ahab had led Israel into heathen idolatry, to make known in Israel’s darkest days, by action and speech, that Jehovah had still ‘a prophet in Israel.’
It will be seen, then, that the ‘Book of Kings’ must consist in great part of the writings of those who were contemporary with the events of which they wrote, and that we cannot treat the book as a work of the date when the Compiler lived. And being gathered in the main from prophetic histories, there will naturally be a similarity of motive pervading the whole. To the Compiler we may ascribe those portions which compose the framework of each particular reign, i.e. the accounts of the accession and parentage, and of the death and character of the several kings, in which there is exhibited hardly any variation of form; but the date of all which is not of this character must be judged of from internal evidence. The uniform setting of the whole work is important to be noticed as it is a proof of the unity of the composition. To its present form the work has been brought all by the same hand.
 It is precisely in these portions that the chronological difficulties present themselves. Some of the smaller inconsistences (cf. 2 Kings 8:25 with 2 Kings 9:29) may have arisen because the Compiler made use of several authorities, in which the numbers were not quite in accord, but which, from the Jewish mode of reckoning in such matters, would not appear conflicting. More serious discrepancies (cf. 2 Kings 15:30 with 33) must be attributed to later hands. We cannot suppose that the two verses just referred to were allowed to stand as they now do by the original Compiler of the book.
ii. Hebrew Text and Versions
It is much to be deplored that we possess no MSS. of the Hebrew Bible of a date earlier than the 10th century of the Christian era. Thus more than a thousand years intervene between the close of the Old Testament Canon and the writing of our oldest copy. It would be marvellous if during so long a period the fallibility of scribes had not, here and there, suffered mistakes to find their way into the text. But the conditions under which it was transmitted were undoubtedly very favourable to its correct preservation. During many centuries the consonants only were written down, the knowledge of the vowels, that were to be read with them, being preserved by tradition. This caused correct reading to be a large part of a Jew’s education, and to insure the retention of the proper vowels, it was permitted to any one in the synagogue to interrupt the reader if he introduced a change. Thus the whole people were made conservators of the sacred text.
 See note on 2 Kings 18:10.
It was only when the Jewish nation became dispersed, and the safeguards, which had been sufficient and available among a small and united people, were found to be inoperative, that the Jewish scribes, who were the guardians of the correct tradition (Massorah, as it was called), began to add vowel signs to the consonants, that the people in their dispersion might all preserve the sacred words as they had been handed down for generations. We cannot fix the date when the vowel points were added, but the work was certainly not completed before the death of Jerome, a.d. 420; and probably not for a century or two later. This form of the text is the same in all our Hebrew MSS., and as it exhibits the traditional reading, it is often spoken of as the Massoretic (i.e. traditional) text. When once such an authoritative text was put forth, none would be more anxious than the Jews themselves to destroy all copies of a different kind. Hence comes, in part at least, the absence of very early MSS.
The way in which the vowel points were introduced appears to have been somewhat of this kind. It was a gradual process. At the commencement some copy of the consonantal text was selected as the standard, perhaps because it was beautifully written. To this standard all future copies were made to conform. The vowels were probably first attached to the books of the Law, and to those portions of the Prophets, which, like the Law, were read in the public services. In process of time the system of vocalization was extended to every part of the text. But it was found that in the standard text adopted there were many places where the consonants written down were not those which tradition required to be read. That the consonants of the accepted text might not on this account be modified, the Massoretes adopted the plan of putting, in such places, the consonants of traditional reading on the margin. These marginal notes they marked by a word (Keri) signifying Read thus, and in contradistinction the standard text is termed the Kethib, i.e. written. For an instance see notes on 2 Kings 14:13.
The absence of any early MSS. gives their value to the ancient versions. They were made at a time anterior to the fixing of the Massoretic text, and therefore help us to judge of the correctness of the Hebrew which has been preserved to us. Three of these are deserving of special mention.
(1) The Septuagint. This is a Greek version made in Alexandria at various times during the third and second centuries before Christ. It owes its name to an ill-founded tradition that it was made by 72 (Septuaginta = 70, the nearest round number) persons sent to Alexandria from Jerusalem at the request of Ptolemy Philadelphus. A comparison of the various parts shews that it was neither made all at one time, nor all by the same translators; but some time before the birth of Christ in consequence of the wide prevalence of the Greek language this version had largely taken the place of the Hebrew text. From it by far the largest part of the quotations in the New Testament are made: it was used by such writers as Philo and Josephus, by the Greek Fathers, and from it were made the various Latin translations which existed before the Vulgate. There exists, as will be seen from the notes, two principal recensions of the Septuagint, one preserved in the Alexandrine MS., which is in the British Museum, and another at the Vatican. The former of these has been largely brought into harmony with the present Hebrew text, and from this cause its value for critical purposes is not so great. The Vatican MS. varies considerably by additions and omissions, and also in arrangement, from the Massoretic text and seems here and there to represent a somewhat different Hebrew. In the books of Kings the help which we derive from the Septuagint is not so great as in some other books (e.g. Samuel) but it will be seen from the notes that certain alterations in the Hebrew text are suggested by it, a few of which for example, in the account of the building of the Temple, are clearly necessary to be made. One long addition has been specially described in the notes (see p. 145) but it deals with a matter which does not concern the correct reading of the text The history also of which it treats, refers much more to what happened in the days of David than of Solomon, so that all but a very few words in it seem to be out of place where it is inserted.
(2) The Targum (or interpretation) ascribed to Jonathan Ben-Uzziel. This is a Chaldee paraphrase reduced to writing about the fourth century after Christ. For correction of the text it is not so valuable as for the traditional interpretations which it preserves. It was for a long period forbidden to put Targums into writing, and a story is told that when, as Herod’s temple was in building, a written Targum on the book of Job was shewn, an outcry was made that it should be buried beneath the foundation-stones that it might not come into any one’s possession. But Targums exist on nearly the whole of the Bible, though many are of very late date, and only one, that named of Onkelos, on the Pentateuch, is of earlier time than the Targum of Jonathan on the Prophets.
 Targum is from the same root from which dragoman, = an interpreter, is derived.
(3) The Vulgate. This name is now given to the Latin version of the Bible made by Jerome of which the Old Testament portion was translated not from the Septuagint but directly from the Hebrew. After preparing, at the request of Pope Damasus, a revision of the Latin version of the New Testament, Jerome took up his residence, from a.d. 387 till his death in a.d. 420, at Bethlehem. There he studied the Hebrew Scriptures, with the guidance of the best Jewish scholars then living in the Holy Land and produced at various times a new Latin translation. Of this Samuel and Kings first appeared. Hence the version which he made is a very precious guide on points of traditional interpretation, and it is also very important as evidence that since Jerome’s day the original Text has suffered no alteration worth noticing. We can see from his renderings that the vowel points now inserted were not always the same as were accepted by Jerome’s teachers, but in the matter of consonants his Hebrew was substantially just the same as ours.
 Vulgata versio, was used before Jerome’s time, and by Jerome himself, for the current Latin Version in use. It is a rendering of the Greek ἡ κοινὴ ἔκδοσις which was a name given to the current text of the Septuagint. But after Jerome’s Version took the place of all others in the Western Church the name Vulgate was confined to it.
 The preface which Jerome wrote for these books is generally known as the Prologus Galeatus, and gives a full and interesting account of the Hebrew Canon, with the arrangement of the books, and the reasons for such arrangement.
iii. Summary of the contents of the Book (1 and 2 Kings)
A. Closing days of the life of David (1 Kings 1:1 to 1 Kings 2:11)
i. Contest for the succession
(a) Adonijah in David’s sickness usurps the kingdom. 1 Kings 1:1-10.
(b) Appeal of Bathsheba and Nathan. 1 Kings 1:11-18.
(c) Solomon is anointed, as the succession is in dispute. 1 Kings 1:28-41.
(d) Alarm of the usurper and his adherents. 1 Kings 1:42-53.
Evil is still raised up out of David’s house; the sword shall never depart. (2 Samuel 12:10-11.)
ii. David’s dying charge
(a) To Solomon himself. 1 Kings 2:1-4.
(b) Concerning Joab, Barzillai, and Shimei. 1 Kings 2:5-9.
(c) Death of David. 1 Kings 2:10-11.
The spirit of his charge is of the Law, not of the Gospel. ‘Of Thy goodness slay mine enemies.’ (Psalm 143:12.)
B. King Solomon in all his glory (1 Kings 2:12 to 1 Kings 10:29)
i. Removal of his adversaries
(a) Adonijah asking Abishag to wife is put to death. 1 Kings 2:12-25.
(b) Abiathar is thrust out of the priesthood. 1 Kings 2:26-27.
(c) Joab is slain at the altar. 1 Kings 2:28-35.
(d) Shimei transgresses and is not spared. 1 Kings 2:36-46.
‘The wrath of a king is as messengers of death.’ (Proverbs 16:14.) Thus, in the spirit of his age, did Solomon shew himself a man.
ii. His piety and wisdom
(a) Gibeon the great high place, no Temple or royal house yet built. 1 Kings 3:1-4.
(b) Solomon’s dream, and his prayer for Wis 3:5-15.
(c) God’s wisdom in him manifest by his judgement on the harlots. 1 Kings 3:16-27.
He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. (2 Samuel 23:3.)
iii. Solomon’s magnificence and fame
(a) The princes which he had. 1 Kings 4:1-6.
(b) His commissariat officers. 1 Kings 4:7-19.
(c) Joy and abundance of his reign. 1 Kings 4:20-25.
(d) His chariots, horses, and their maintenance. 1 Kings 4:26-28.
(e) His understanding and excellent wisdom. 1 Kings 4:29-34.
(f) Hiram, the king of Tyre, seeks his friendship, and grants timber for the Temple. 1 Kings 5:1-10.
(g) Solomon’s league with Hiram. 1 Kings 5:11-12.
(h) Solomon’s levy of labourers to work in Lebanon. 1 Kings 5:13-18.
‘There shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.’ (1 Kings 3:13.) A promise richly fulfilled.
iv. Solomon’s Temple
(a) Dimensions of the building. 1 Kings 6:1-4.
(b) The chambers that enclosed it round about. 1 Kings 6:5-10.
(c) God’s promise to dwell there. 1 Kings 6:11-13.
(d) The Holy place and the Oracle. 1 Kings 6:14-22.
(e) The cherubim. 1 Kings 6:23-28.
(f) Adornment of the walls, the floor and the doors. 1 Kings 6:29-33.
(g) The inner court. 1 Kings 6:36.
(h) The building finished in seven years. 1 Kings 6:37-38.
‘He shall build a house for My name … I will be his father and he shall be My son. (2 Samuel 7:13-14.)
v. His royal palace
(a) The house of the forest of Lebanon. 1 Kings 7:1-5.
(b) The porch of pillars. 1 Kings 7:6.
(c) The porch of the throne. 1 Kings 7:7.
(d) The house of Pharaoh’s daughter. 1 Kings 7:8.
(e) Excellence of the work, and the court round about it. 1 Kings 7:9-12.
Note the brief mention of what was built for the king’s own use. Stonework and cedar here, but the gold, and what is richest, for the house of the Lord.
vi. Works of Hiram, the Tyrian founder
(a) He casts the pillars, Jachin and Boaz. 1 Kings 7:13-20.
(b) The molten sea. 1 Kings 7:23-26.
(c) The bases and the lavers to stand upon them. 1 Kings 7:27-39.
(d) Summary of Hiram’s work for the exterior. 1 Kings 7:40-47.
(e) The vessels of gold for the Holy place. 1 Kings 7:48-51.
Art becomes the handmaid of true religion. ‘The house that is to be builded for the Lord must be exceeding magnifical.’ (1 Chronicles 22:5.)
vii. The feast of the Dedication
(a) Assembly of Israel. They bring up the ark, and the Temple is filled with the cloud of Glory. 1 Kings 8:1-11.
(b) Solomon’s address and thanksgiving. 1 Kings 8:12-21.
(c) God’s constant regard invoked. 1 Kings 8:22-29.
(d) When an oath is made at the altar. 1 Kings 8:31-32.
(e) In times of defeat, of drought, of plague, pestilence and famine. 1 Kings 8:33-40.
(f) For strangers who come to worship there. 1 Kings 8:41-43.
(g) In time of war, and in the day of captivity. 1 Kings 8:44-53.
(h) Solomon blesseth the assembly. 1 Kings 8:54-61.
(i) The sacrifices, the feasting and the dismissal of the people. 1 Kings 8:62-66.
(k) God’s second appearance to Solomon. Promises and warnings. 1 Kings 9:1-9.
‘Beautiful for situation is … the city of the great King. God is known in her palaces for a refuge.’ (Psalm 48:2-3.) This knowledge was the source of Israel’s greatness under Solomon.
viii. Solomon’s power, wealth and fame
(a) Solomon’s gift of cities to Hiram. 1 Kings 9:10-14.
(b) The levy of forced labour from Canaanites and Israelites. 1 Kings 9:15-23.
(c) Pharaoh’s daughter brought to her own house. 1 Kings 9:24.
(d) Solomon’s observance of the appointed feasts. 1 Kings 9:25.
(e) Fleet of Solomon and Hiram. 1 Kings 9:26-28.
(f) Visit of the queen of Sheba, her wonder, praise and large gifts. 1 Kings 10:1-13.
(g) Solomon’s revenue, and wide fame. 1 Kings 10:14-25.
(h) His chariots and horsemen, and traffic with Egypt. 1 Kings 10:26-29.
‘Because of Thy Temple at Jerusalem, kings shall bring presents unto Thee.’ (Psalm 68:29.) Mark how it is in conjunction with the king’s worship, according to God’s law, that this prosperity is showered upon him.
C. Solomon is turned away from the Lord, and his prosperity is broken (1 Kings 11:1-21.)
God’s face is set against Solomon
(a) The anger of God against Solomon, whose heart the strange wives turned away. 1 Kings 11:1-13.
(b) God raises up one adversary, Hadad the Edomite. 1 Kings 11:14-21.
(c) A second adversary, Rezon the son of Eliada. 1 Kings 11:23-25.
(d) A third out of Israel, Jeroboam the son of Nebat. 1 Kings 11:26-28.
(e) Ahijah’s prophecy and promise to Jeroboam. 1 Kings 11:29-39.
(f) Solomon would have killed Jeroboam. 1 Kings 11:40.
(g) Death of Solomon. 1 Kings 11:41-43.
‘The Lord shall stir up jealousy like a man of war. They shall be turned back, they shall be greatly ashamed, that say to the molten images, Ye are our Gods.’ (Isaiah 42:13-17.)
D. The divided kingdoms, Israel and Judah (1 Kings 12:1 -1 Kings 18:12)
i. Prelude to the separation
(a) Petition made to Rehoboam at Shechem. 1 Kings 12:1-5.
(b) He follows evil counsel. 1 Kings 12:6-15.
(c) Revolt of Israel. Jeroboam chosen for king. 1 Kings 12:16-20.
(d) Rehoboam forbidden to fight against Israel. 1 Kings 12:21-21.
God’s hand is manifest in the whole story. ‘God is the judge, He putteth down one and lifteth up another.’ (Psalm 75:7.)
ii. ISRAEL. The son of Nebat who made Israel to sin
(a) Jeroboam’s policy; the golden calves, the feast devised of his own heart. 1 Kings 12:25-33.
(b) A man of God from Judah to Israel. His message. 1 Kings 13:1-10.
(c) His disobedience and its punishment. 1 Kings 13:11-25.
(d) Jeroboam persists in his evil way. 1 Kings 13:33-34.
(e) Sends to Ahijah concerning the sickness of his son. 1 Kings 14:1-6.
(f) The prophet’s message. The truth thereof confirmed by its partial fulfilment. 1 Kings 14:7-18.
(g) Death of Jeroboam. 1 Kings 14:19-20.
Commandments spurned bring their punishment. ‘To obey is better than sacrifice. Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.’ (1 Samuel 15:22-23.)
iii. JUDAH. The lamp preserved for David’s sake
(a) Evil in Judah under Rehoboam. 1 Kings 14:21-24.
(b) Shishak plunders the Temple and the king’s house. 1 Kings 14:25-28.
(c) Death of Rehoboam. 1 Kings 14:29-29.
(d) Abijam walks in the sins of his father. 1 Kings 15:1-8.
(e) Asa’s heart perfect with the Lord. 1 Kings 15:9-15.
(f) Growing weak in trust he makes a league with Benhadad. 1 Kings 15:16-22.
(g) Asa’s death. 1 Kings 15:23-24.
The spoiled Temple is a fit emblem of the falling away of David’s line. God delights in the material house only when true worship is paid in it.
iv. ISRAEL. The way of Jeroboam. The kings
(a) Nadab is slain by Baasha. 1 Kings 15:25-31.
(b) Baasha king. 1 Kings 15:32-34.
(c) The word of the Lord unto Baasha by the mouth of Jehu. 1 Kings 16:1-7.
(d) Elah, son of Baasha, slain by Zimri. 1 Kings 16:8-14.
(e) Zimri’s seven days’ reign, and traitor’s end. 1 Kings 16:15-20.
(f) Omri, after a conflict, obtains the throne and builds Samaria. 1 Kings 16:21-28.
(g) Ahab exceeds the wickedness of all who went before him. 1 Kings 16:29-34.
‘Through the wrath of the Lord the land is darkened … no man shall spare his brother.’ (Isaiah 9:19.) Yet note in Israel the ‘pride and stoutness of heart,’ which the prophet rebukes, as shewn in their grand projects of building. (Isaiah 9:10.) ‘For the transgression of a land many are the princes thereof.’ (Proverbs 28:2.)
v. Elijah. The prophet in Israel
(a) The famine foretold. Elijah hides at Cherith and in Sarepta. 1 Kings 17:1-16.
(b) The widow’s son dies and is restored. 1 Kings 17:17-24.
(c) Elijah in the presence of Ahab. 1 Kings 18:1-16.
(d) The challenge. God against Baal. 1 Kings 18:17-29.
(e) The Lord He is God. Baal’s priests are slain. 1 Kings 18:30-37.
(f) Promise of rain. 1 Kings 18:41-46.
(g) Flight of Elijah to Horeb. 1 Kings 19:1-8.
(h) God’s revelations to him there. 1 Kings 19:9-18.
(i) The calling of Elisha. 1 Kings 19:19-21.
The bravest of God’s heroes, yet broken in heart at last. He longed to do so much, but learnt at length how God works. ‘I, the Lord, will hasten it in his time.’ (Isaiah 60:22.)
vi. Syrian invasion of Israel
(a) Arrogant claims of Benhadad. 1 Kings 20:1-12.
(b) Victory promised and given to Ahab. 1 Kings 20:13-21.
(c) A new attack defeated in like manner. 1 Kings 20:22-30.
(d) Benhadad as cringeing as before he was haughty. 1 Kings 20:31-34.
(e) Ahab weakly spares the man whom God had doomed. 1 Kings 20:35-43.
Jehovah, longsuffering, does not cast off his rebellious people, nor let them fall into any hands, but those of his special instruments. ‘I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.’ (Malachi 3:6.)
vii. Naboth is stoned and is dead
(a) Naboth the Jezreelite refuses to part with his vineyard. 1 Kings 21:1-4.
(b) Jezebel compasses the death of Naboth. 1 Kings 21:5-16.
(c) Ahab taking possession hears God’s doom from Elijah. 1 Kings 21:17-24.
(d) Some signs of repentance gain Ahab a respite. 1 Kings 21:25-26.
The evil examples on the throne have their fruit in other places. ‘If a ruler hearken to lies, all his servants are wicked.’ (Proverbs 29:12.)
viii. Judah and Israel in alliance
(a) Jehoshaphat goes with Ahab to Ramoth-gilead. 1 Kings 22:1-20.
(b) Ahab’s ignoble end, according to the word of Elijah. 1 Kings 22:29-40.
(c) Jehoshaphat’s reign over Judah. 1 Kings 22:41-50.
(d) Ahaziah follows Ahab, on his throne and in his sins. 1 Kings 22:51 – 2 Kings 1:18.
(e) Elijah taken away. His spirit rests on Elisha. 2 Kings 2:1-18.
(f) Elisha heals the waters at Jericho, and curses the youths at Beth-el. 2 Kings 2:19-25.
(g) Israel and Judah war against Edom. 2 Kings 3:1-27.
Note the evil influence of this alliance on Jehoshaphat. He asks for a prophet of the Lord, in the first expedition at the outset, but then he neglects his words; to the second war he goes, and only thinks of the Lord’s prophet, when he is in deep peril. Joined with Ahab in policy, he is made his equal in penalty. ‘In his son’s days’ God brought evil upon his house.
ix. Elisha. ‘He did wonders in his life’
(a) Elisha multiplieth the widow’s oil. 2 Kings 4:1-7.
(b) He promises a son to the Shunammite, and restores him to life again. 2 Kings 4:8-37.
(c) He heals the pottage at Gilgal, and satisfies a hundred men with twenty loaves. 2 Kings 4:38-44.
(d) Naaman is healed. Gehazi becomes leprous. 2 Kings 5:1-27.
(e) Elisha causeth an axe-head to swim. 2 Kings 6:1-7.
(f) He revealeth the plans of the Syrian king, and smites the Syrian troops with blindness. 2 Kings 6:8-23.
(g) Siege of Samaria. In the famine Elisha foretells a sudden plenty, which cometh to pass. 2 Kings 6:24 to 2 Kings 7:20.
(h) The Shunammite’s land restored for Elisha’s sake. 2 Kings 8:1-6.
(i) Elisha foretells Ben-hadad’s death, and Hazael’s cruelty. 2 Kings 8:7-15.
Elijah at his death appeared to have achieved but little, yet Jehovah’s ‘seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which had not bowed unto Baal’ (1 Kings 19:18) were found in many places, and gave some hope to the labours of Elisha. But as a whole, ‘Ephraim was joined to idols.’ (Hosea 4:17.)
x. Fruits of the alliance between Judah and Israel
(a) Jehoram king of Judah walks in the ways of the house of Ahab. 2 Kings 8:16-24.
(b) Ahaziah, his son by Athaliah the daughter of Ahab, follows the same path. 2 Kings 8:25-27.
(c) Another war with Syria. 2 Kings 8:28-29.
(d) Jehu anointed at Ramoth Gilead. 2 Kings 9:1-14.
(e) Jehu slays both the kings, and Jezebel also. 2 Kings 9:15-37.
The law had spoken in vain to Jehoshaphat, and now the penalty is strictly carried out. ‘Thou shalt not make marriages with them: thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following Me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you and destroy thee suddenly.’ (Deuteronomy 7:3-4.)
xi. ISRAEL. Jehu on the throne
(a) Ahab’s sons put to death. 2 Kings 10:1-11.
(b) Jehu’s zeal against the Baalites. 2 Kings 10:12-28.
(c) The zeal stops short in its course. 2 Kings 10:29-31.
(d) Israel begins to be cut short. Death of Jehu. 2 Kings 10:32-36.
‘My zeal for the Lord’ was Jehu’s boast. He forgot that he was only the scourge of God. ‘For he saith, By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I am prudent.’ (Isaiah 10:13.)
xii. JUDAH. Athaliah and Joash
(a) Athaliah murders all the royal family except Joash. 2 Kings 11:1-3.
(b) Jehoiada plans to kill her and set Joash on the throne. 2 Kings 11:4-21.
(c) Joash restores the dilapidated temple. 2 Kings 12:1-16.
(d) Hazael’s expedition against Jerusalem bought off. 2 Kings 12:17-18.
(e) Joash is murdered by his servants. 2 Kings 12:19-21.
‘A man that is laden with the blood of any person shall flee unto the pit; let no man stay him.’ (Proverbs 28:17 R.V.)
xiii. ISRAEL. The house of Jehu
(a) Jehoahaz reigns ill, and is delivered into the hands of the Syrians. 2 Kings 13:1-3.
(b) A saviour promised on his repentance. 2 Kings 13:4-9.
(c) Jehoash succeeds and is an evil ruler. 2 Kings 13:10-13.
(d) Elisha on his death bed visited by Jehoash. 2 Kings 13:14-19.
(e) Death of Elisha. Victories of Jehoash over Syria. 2 Kings 13:20-25.
‘The Lord hath sent you all his servants the prophets, rising early and sending them; but ye have not hearkened, nor inclined your ear to hear.’ (Jeremiah 25:4.)
xiv. JUDAH. Amaziah meddling to his hurt
(a) Amaziah reigns, and takes vengeance on his father’s murderers. 2 Kings 14:1-6.
(b) He conquers the Edomites. 2 Kings 14:7.
(c) His proud challenge to Jehoash and his defeat at Bethshemesh. 2 Kings 14:8-16.
(d) He is driven from Jerusalem by a conspiracy, and slain at Lachish. 2 Kings 14:17-20.
(e) Azariah’s accession. 2 Kings 14:21-22.
The moderation of Amaziah was praiseworthy at first and in accord with God’s law, but vanity led him astray. ‘A man’s pride shall bring him low.’ (Proverbs 29:23.)
xv. ISRAEL. Third and fourth generations of Jehu’s house
(a) Jeroboam II. follows in the ways of Jeroboam I. 2 Kings 14:23-24.
(b) God has pity upon Israel. 2 Kings 14:25-27.
(c) Wars and victories of Jeroboam. 2 Kings 14:28.
(d) Zechariah, Jeroboam’s son, succeeds. 2 Kings 14:29.
(e) Azariah reigns in Judah and is smitten with leprosy. 2 Kings 15:1-7.
(f) Zechariah slain by Shallum brings Jehu’s house to an end. 2 Kings 15:8-12.
The zeal of Jehu’s descendants was even less than his own. Yet God seemed waiting to the very end to enlarge His promise, to increase His grace. But ‘their iniquities have turned away these things, and their sins have withholden good things from them.’ (Jeremiah 5:25.)
xvi. ISRAEL and JUDAH. The Syro-Ephraimite war
(a) Shallum, king of Israel, slain by Menahem. 2 Kings 15:13-15.
(b) Menahem becomes a vassal of Assyria. 2 Kings 15:16-22.
(c) Pekahiah, king of Israel, slain by Pekah. 2 Kings 15:23-26.
(d) Pekah’s kingdom attacked by Tiglath-pileser: Pekah slain by Hoshea. 2 Kings 15:27-31.
(e) Jotham, king of Judah. Pekah and Rezin, king of Samaria, plot against him. 2 Kings 15:32-38.
(f) Syro-Ephraimite war against Ahaz, who purchases the aid of Tiglath-pileser. 2 Kings 16:1-9.
(g) Ahaz is entangled with Syrian idolatry. His death. 2 Kings 16:10-20.
Sorely needed was the prophet’s message. ‘Violence and spoil is heard in her; before me continually is grief and wounds. Be thou instructed, O Jerusalem, lest My soul depart from thee; lest I make thee desolate, a land not inhabited.’ (Jeremiah 6:7-8.)
xvii. ISRAEL. Last days of the ten tribes
(a) Hoshea attacked and taken prisoner by Shalmaneser. 2 Kings 17:1-4.
(b) The people carried captive for their many sins. 2 Kings 17:5-23.
(c) Samaria colonized by the Assyrians. 2 Kings 17:24.
(d) The colonists learn something of the worship of Jehovah. 2 Kings 17:25-28.
(e) But they worship still their own idols also. 2 Kings 17:29-41.
(f) Hezekiah, king of Judah. Second notice of the captivity of Israel. 2 Kings 17:1-12.
‘If they will not obey, I will utterly pluck up and destroy that nation’ (Jeremiah 12:17). As a people the ten tribes appear no more.
E. The two tribes (2 Kings 18:13 to 2 Kings 25:30)
(a) Sennacherib, king of Assyria, invades Judæa, and is bought off for a brief period. 2 Kings 18:13-16.
(b) Defiant message of the Assyrian. 2 Kings 18:17-37.
(c) Hezekiah sends his ministers to Isaiah the prophet. 2 Kings 19:1-7.
(d) A second message of defiance. 2 Kings 19:8-13.
(e) Hezekiah’s prayer. 2 Kings 19:14-19.
(f) The answer of Jehovah by his prophet. 2 Kings 19:20-34.
(g) Assyrian overthrow. 2 Kings 19:35-37.
(h) Hezekiah’s sickness and recovery. 2 Kings 20:1-11.
(i) His ostentation and the rebuke thereof. 2 Kings 20:12-19.
(k) Death of Hezekiah. 2 Kings 20:20-21.
Hezekiah, a marvel of God’s grace. ‘A clean thing out of an unclean.’ (Job 14:4.) Who but God doeth this?
ii. Manasseh and Amon
(a) Manasseh reigns and undoes all that Hezekiah had done. 2 Kings 21:1-10.
(b) The doom of the land is sealed because of his sin. 2 Kings 21:11-18.
(c) Amon follows in his father’s steps. 2 Kings 21:19-22.
(d) He is slain by a conspiracy of his servants. 2 Kings 21:23-26.
Manasseh’s repentance avails for himself, but not for the nation he has led so far astray. Yet ‘God looketh upon men, and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which is right and it profited me not; He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light. Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with man.’ (Job 33:27-29.)
But again of the perverse ‘He striketh them as wicked men in the open sight of others; because they turned back from Him, and would not consider any of His ways.’ (Job 34:25-27.)
(a) Josiah succeeding repairs the temple. 2 Kings 22:1-7.
(b) Finding of the book of the Law and the effect thereof. 2 Kings 22:8-11.
(c) Huldah the prophetess consulted. Her answer. 2 Kings 22:12-20.
(d) Josiah destroys idolatry out of the land and defiles the altar at Beth-el. 2 Kings 23:1-20.
(e) Keeps a solemn passover, and banishes superstitious rites. 2 Kings 23:21-28.
(f) He is wounded at Megiddo and dies. 2 Kings 23:29-30.
‘The remembrance of Josiah is like the composition of the perfume that is made by the art of the apothecary: it is sweet as honey in all mouths and as music at a banquet of wine.’ (Eccles. 49:1)
iv. The falling away. ‘The Lord could not pardon’
(a) Jehoahaz succeeds and is made prisoner by the Egyptians. 2 Kings 23:31-33.
(b) Jehoiakim set up by the Egyptians. 2 Kings 23:34-37.
(c) He submits to Nebuchadnezzar, but soon revolts and is punished. 2 Kings 24:1-7.
(d) Jehoiachin’s brief reign. The beginning of the Captivity. 2 Kings 24:8-16.
(e) Zedekiah reigns and rebels against Babylon. 2 Kings 24:17-20.
(f) Siege and capture of Jerusalem, and of her last king. 2 Kings 25:1-8.
(g) Burning of the city and deportation of spoil and captives. 2 Kings 25:9-21.
(h) Gedaliah the governor of the residue being slain by Ishmael the people flee to Egypt. 2 Kings 25:22-26.
(i) Kindly treatment of Jehoiachin by Evil-merodach. 2 Kings 25:27-30.
And so was brought to pass what Jeremiah had foretold, and enforced by an example constantly present before those to whom the prophet’s message was all in vain (Jeremiah 7:12-16) ‘Go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh … and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. And now because ye have done all these works … therefore will I do unto this house which is called by My name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers as I have done to Shiloh … Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to Me: for I will not hear thee.’
iv. Historical Survey of the Book of Kings
With the exception of two reigns, this book embraces the whole regal period of Israelite history. The reign of Saul, the first king, had been almost an utter failure, that of David in many points was a signal success. The work of the compiler of Kings commences at David’s deathbed, but he opens his history without introduction, clearly designing it to be a continuation of the books of Samuel. Solomon was anointed and enthroned before the death of his father because of an attempt, that was made by another brother, to seize the succession for himself, in defiance of a promise (1 Kings 1:13) which David had given to Bathsheba that Solomon should reign after him. The new king had not been long crowned before he received the dying charge of his father, and when the fierce measures against certain individuals, which David counselled, had been carried into effect, Solomon became, as his name implies (1 Chronicles 22:9) a man of peace. In strong contrast to the warlike times of David, is the recital of Hadad’s apparently unopposed return to the throne of Edom, and of the establishment of Rezon as king in Damascus (1 Kings 11).
Yet though he engaged but little in war, Solomon introduced in many ways a new and splendid era for his people. In literature and science he was instructed beyond the most learned men of the time; in commerce he established relations not only with Tyre, and the Hittite and Syrian kingdoms close at hand, but with Arabia, Egypt and perhaps with India through his fleet on the Red Sea, while ships of his were also sailing along with those of Phœnicia to the various countries on the Mediterranean. In art he called to his aid the best architectural skill which Tyre and Sidon could supply, while the internal organization of the land was made in its character as complete as possible to supply the magnificence and luxury of a court the fame of which drew the queen of distant Sheba to Jerusalem, where she found the reality to overpass every report that had been made to her concerning it. Hence we need not be surprised that among his wives Solomon numbered, beside the daughter of Pharaoh, princesses from all the nations round about; nor is it to be wondered at, when they beheld the lavish expenditure which had been bestowed on the temple, that they asked and obtained from the king that some, if not with equal, magnificence should be exhibited in honour of the divinities of the lands from whence they had come. Solomon was rich and manifestly fond of state. So there arose outside the city on the hill, afterwards known in consequence as the Mount of Offence, temples to Ashtoreth, whose worship his Zidonian artizans may have made well known to Israel, as well as to those other gods whom the writer of Kings terms ‘the abominations’ of Moab and of Ammon.
To meet the outlay needed for his buildings, and for the costly service of his court Solomon made heavy exactions from his people both in money and in forced labour. Hence his reign though glorious had been burdensome. Yet for David’s son, a monarch of such wide extended fame, burdens were for a long time patiently endured, but when Solomon’s son succeeded his father a cry went up from the whole land ‘Make our heavy burdens lighter.’ Rehoboam was headstrong and, following foolish advice, spake not of relaxation but of greater severity, and in consequence of his words ten out of the twelve tribes fell away from David’s house, and made them a king of their own. Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, the man whom they set up, was one who had been employed by Solomon to superintend the taskwork of his forced labourers. He seems to have sympathised with the murmurs which that service evoked and in some way or other to have sided with those who desired to be delivered from it. He also was encouraged by one of the prophets (1 Kings 11:31) to take part with those who were the adversaries of Solomon. Hence before Solomon’s death Jeroboam had been forced to flee into Egypt, but he appears to have returned about the time of that event, and to have been welcomed and accepted by the revolting tribes as their fittest leader. A separate kingdom was established with its capital at Shechem, and the new king, that his people might not be won over to Rehoboam by going up to Jerusalem to worship in the temple, instituted two shrines in his own dominions, where he set up golden calves and persuaded the people to accept them as symbols of the Jehovah who had brought them out of Egypt. For this he is constantly branded by the writer of Kings as ‘the son of Nebat who made Israel to sin.’
Rehoboam failed to win back his revolted subjects, but Jeroboam’s action, in fortifying Penuel on the other side of the Jordan, seems to shew that he did not feel altogether secure on his throne, and would prepare for himself a stronghold in the mountainous region of Gilead. The reign of Rehoboam was in other respects not prosperous. The king of Egypt, Shishak, invaded the land (1 Kings 14:25), and plundered the temple of much of its wealth, while Jeroboam with the forces of the northern kingdom harassed Judah exceedingly (1 Kings 14:30). These attacks were successfully repelled by Abijam (2 Chronicles 13:19), Rehoboam’s son, while Asa his grandson so strengthened his army as to be able to resist not only the northern power but also an invasion of the Ethiopians, who appear to have meditated an invasion of Judah similar to that of Shishak in the previous generation (2 Chronicles 14:12).
Meanwhile in Israel Nadab, the son of Jeroboam, had turned his arms against the Philistines (1 Kings 15:27), but in the course of the war was slain by one of his own people, Baasha; who also made himself king, and did to death all that belonged to Jeroboam. This fate had been proclaimed beforehand by the mouth of the same prophet (Ahijah) who had encouraged the founder of the new kingdom in his first revolt against Solomon. Kings in Israel succeeded one another with great rapidity, the throne being nearly always reached, as in Baasha’s case, through the blood of a predecessor. In the reign of Omri, the sixth king, however, the power and influence of the ten tribes increased, and so great a mark did this sovereign make in the affairs of the neighbouring nations that in the Assyrian records the kingdom of Israel is continually spoken of as ‘the house of Omri.’ Omri built him a new capital, which he named Samaria, a name which ultimately came to be applied to the whole kingdom. From the Moabite stone we learn about the conflicts between him and his neighbour Mesha, the king of Moab, and the victory seems for a while to have been on the side of Israel, though the conquests of Omri and his son Ahab were all retaken by Moab in the days of Ahaziah, Ahab’s son and successor. We find, too, that Omri was not always victorious against the Syrians, as after one defeat (1 Kings 20:34) the Syrian monarch made streets for himself in the new-built city of Samaria.
The son of Omri seems to have gone beyond his father in his desire to adorn the land with magnificent buildings. He was the Solomon of the northern kingdom, both in his architectural tastes and in his connexion with Phœnicia. He had for wife a daughter of the king of Zidon; hence he could attract to his country workmen of the greatest skill of that period, and we can picture to ourselves how gorgeous the fabrics must have been that are alluded to by the historian as ‘the ivory house which he made and the many cities that he built.’ By the wish of Jezebel his wife he reared up a grand temple to Baal, and at her instigation became a fervent devotee of the Phœnician divinities, so that it is said of him ‘there was none like unto Ahab which did sell himself to work wickedness.’
The Syrians were to him most troublesome neighbours. Twice did Benhadad come against Samaria, and though he was repelled there, we find the Syrian forces in possession of Ramoth-gilead at the close of Ahab’s reign. But the largest part of the history during the reign of Ahab is devoted to the work of the prophet Elijah. Into the midst of the excessive wickedness God sends the most wondrous of His prophets. He comes upon the scene most abruptly, and in the name of Jehovah announces ‘there shall not be dew nor rain but according to my word.’ Every part of Elijah’s life bears out the description of the writer of Ecclesiasticus (Sir 48:1). He was ‘as fire and his word burned like a lamp.’ By a demonstration of the vanity of Baal-worship and of the truth of his own mission, he on one occasion for the moment carried the people with him and made them his agents in the slaughter of the idolatrous priesthood. But the evil appeared even then too deep-rooted for remedy, and the sentence of Jehovah was given, ‘him that dieth of Ahab in the city the dogs shall eat, and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat.’ ‘The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.’ A sentence most terrible, but carried out to the very letter.
Ahab came to his death in the battle of Ramoth-gilead. Resolved to recover that city from the Syrians, he invited Jehoshaphat, who had succeeded his father Asa as king of Judah, to go with him to the war, for there was now peace and alliance between the two kingdoms. Jehoshaphat consented in most liberal wise, but the whole undertaking was disastrous. The troops of Israel and Judah fled like shepherdless sheep, and Ahab was wounded so fatally that he died the same day. He left many children, but his immediate successor was crippled by a fall, and in his brief two years’ reign Moab regained its freedom, nor could any effort be made to drive the Syrians from the trans-jordanic portion of Israel.
It is not unlikely that the magnificence of the house of Ahab proved attractive to Jehoshaphat, and probably the connexion of Ahab with the Phœnician power made his alliance one to be courted by the smaller kingdom. So it came to pass that a son of Jehoshaphat took to wife a daughter of Ahab, and Israel and Judah were completely at one. When therefore Jehoram, another son of Ahab, followed his brother on the throne of Israel, there was once more an alliance for war purposes between the two monarchs. Jehoram would fain subdue the revolted Moabites, and the king of Judah accompanies the son, as he had before accompanied the father, to battle, and likewise compels the Edomite monarch, who was at this time a vassal of Judah, to give the troops a passage through his country, and to contribute his help against Moab. The expedition, during which Elisha foretold a sudden supply of water to the thirsty army, was in the end attended with no success.
The northern enemy of Israel, the Syrians, must have been withheld in some way from their inroads upon Israel at the period when Jehoram found himself able to collect his troops and march southward against Moab, but the time of peace did not last long. We hear first of irregular bands of marauders sent by Syria to scour the country, whose plans however were thwarted now and again by information given to the Israelite king by the prophet Elisha. But at last Benhadad gathered his hosts together and investing Samaria reduced the population to the verge of starvation, so that the most revolting means were resorted to for maintaining life. The siege was however abandoned. A panic seized the Syrian troops, and when the Israelites heard of it and ventured forth they found the enemy’s camp deserted and spoil of all kinds left in confusion. So plenty took the place of hunger. The Syrian king Benhadad, no long time after, was murdered as he lay on his sick bed by Hazael, one of his officers, who made himself king of Syria, and in the future wrought much evil upon Israel. We know that already in Jehoram’s reign the assaults of Hazael had commenced, for the army of Israel was holding Ramoth-gilead against him when the judgement pronounced a generation before upon the house of Ahab received its complete fulfilment.
At the death of Elijah Ahab’s family were still reigning, and to the outward view not much had been accomplished by the prophet’s life. But the fruit of his work made itself felt in the days of Elisha. Schools of the prophets were multiplied, the seven thousand, of whom God spake (1 Kings 19:18) who had not bowed the knee to Baal, were made manifest in many places, and Elijah’s words were remembered by some who appeared little likely to have borne them in mind. When the prophet foretold the doom of Ahab as he stood in the portion of the newly murdered Naboth, there was in the retinue of the king one Jehu the son of Nimshi, an officer of the Israelite army, who after Ahab’s death came to be in chief command while Jehoram was holding Ramoth-gilead. Jehoram had gone from Ramoth to Jezreel because of a wound he had received, and in his absence Elisha despatched one of the sons of the prophets to give to Jehu a divine commission for the execution of utter destruction on the house of his master. Jehu had treasured up the saying of Elijah, and both he and his comrades were no unwilling instruments to carry out the sentence. Riding at once to Jezreel, they not only put to death Jehoram, but also Ahaziah, Jehoshaphat’s son, the king of Judah who had come to visit his kinsman the king of Israel. Jehoram’s dead body was left in Naboth’s vineyard, while from a window in Jezreel, Jezebel was thrown down and trampled to death under the feet of Jehu’s horses. By some questionable strokes of policy he succeeded in destroying all the children of Ahab, and in cutting off at one blow all who were given up to the worship of Baal. The Phœnician rites were abolished in Israel and never appeared again.
The name of Jehu is found in the Assyrian inscriptions more than once, and it is a sign of the great influence of the previous dynasty, that as Samaria for a long time was known to the Assyrians as the ‘house of Omri,’ so Jehu figures as ‘the son of Omri.’ It is not clear what Jehu’s relations with Assyria were, but we gather from the Scripture story (2 Kings 10:32) that they were not of such a nature as to help him to ward off the hosts of his nearer neighbours the Syrians. ‘Hazael smote them in all the coasts of Israel’ and from the prophecy of Amos (1 and 2) we see that Moab and Ammon were in league with Syria, so that Jehu was beset on every side. Nor was the case of his successor any better (2 Kings 13:3). ‘The Lord delivered Israel into the hand of Hazael, and into the hand of Benhadad the son of Hazael, all their days,’ and the army of Jehoahaz was reduced at this time to the most insignificant dimensions (2 Kings 13:7). But the closing days of this king and the reign of his son and successor were of such a character as to gain the favour of God and the approval of His prophet, for Elisha on his death bed was visited by Jehoash, and promised him a succession of victories over his enemies. Encouraged no doubt by the prophet’s words the king took up arms, and was able to drive the Syrian hosts out of the lands on the west of the Jordan, while in the days of Jeroboam II, the son and successor of Jehoash, the eastern districts of Gilead and Bashan were also recovered, and the dominion of Israel extended ‘from the entering in of Hamath unto the sea of the Arabah,’ a result which we are told had been foreseen and spoken of by the prophet Jonah, who flourished in these times.
But the whole nation was corrupt, and the luxury introduced by these conquests increased the evil. The picture of the life in Samaria at this period is painted for us by the prophet Amos, and as we read the description of the wanton excesses and sensual self-indulgence we are in no wonder that judgement came quickly upon the whole land. God was preparing his rod, the Assyrian, and even before the external blows fell, internal violence was working out the ruin of the nation. Zechariah, the son of Jeroboam II, was murdered after a short reign, and thus the four generations promised to Jehu’s dynasty were brought to a violent end. The murderer Shallum was himself slain within a month, and the reign of his successor, Menahem, marked the annals of Israel with atrocities unknown before. It was in his day that the Assyrian power first came against the land. Pul, the king of Assyria, who must previously have reduced the power of Syria, which lay between, drew near to attack Israel (2 Kings 15:19), and Menahem compounded for the possession of his crown by becoming the vassal of Assyria, and by the payment of an enormous tribute which he exacted from the people of the land, and the amount of which demonstrates the wealthy condition of Israel even in this age of disorder and misrule. Pekahiah succeeded his father, but two years only passed away, before he was dethroned and slain by Pekah one of his captains. In the reign of this king we begin to discern clearly how the dominion of Assyria was spreading, and bringing into subjection all the neighbouring kingdoms.
Turning back to notice the kingdom of Judah, we find that when Ahaziah was slain by Jehu, Athaliah the queen, the daughter of Ahab, put all the seed royal to death, with the exception of one infant boy, who escaped and was kept in safety under the protection of the high priest. After a reign of six years, vengeance fell upon the bloodstained queen, and the seven years old child, Joash, was put upon the throne of David, and held his seat for forty years. But, like the northern kingdom, Judah was constantly feeling the pressure of Syrian inroads. The armies of Damascus came in the days of Joash, and overran the country of the Philistines, capturing the city of Gath (2 Kings 12:17). Jerusalem lay temptingly near at hand, and Hazael set his face to go up thither, but the treasures of the temple and the king’s house were drawn upon once more, the enemy retired, and we hear of no further troubles from war in this long reign, though for some reason his own people conspired against Joash, and did not let him die a natural death. Amaziah, the son of Joash, must also have been free from inroads on the north, for he was able, after punishing the murderers of his father, to lead his army southward and win great victories over the Edomites. Elated thereby, he sent a foolish challenge to Jehoash of Israel, and refusing good counsel, engaged in war with him, and was defeated in a battle at Beth-shemesh, and the future of his life is not very clearly set forth in the Bible narrative. We read how the king of Israel brake down the northern walls of Jerusalem, and brought the king of Judah as a captive into his own capital, but whether he was put again on the throne, or his son was made regent during the rest of the father’s lifetime, is a question which is involved in some obscurity.
But in spite of these losses to Israel, his son Azariah (Uzziah) must have been able to continue his father’s conquests in Idumæa, for we find him restoring Elath (2 Kings 14:22), and thus opening once more the door of commerce to Judah by the way of the Red Sea, so that at this period Judah and Israel alike must have advanced to a high degree of material prosperity. Yet towards the end of his life king Azariah was smitten with leprosy for going into the temple and usurping the priest’s duty of offering incense at the altar. The reign of his son Jotham was the time when an alliance was formed between Israel and Syria to crush the house of David and to put a creature of their own upon the throne of Judah, but Jotham was dead before these plans could be carried out. It is in the history of this Syro-Ephraimite war that Isaiah’s prophetic ministry comes most markedly before us, and in connexion with which was uttered that wondrous prophecy of the Virgin-born son (Isaiah 7:14), of which only the fulness of time beheld the complete fulfilment. The influence of the prophet was not however strong enough with king Ahaz to persuade him to trust wholly in Jehovah. Help was sought from Tiglath Pileser, and Israel’s king became the tributary of Assyria. Damascus was taken and overthrown, and her king put to death, while as their manner was the conquerors carried away the Syrian population and settled them in a distant land. Pekah must have speedily ceased to harass Judah, probably deterred by the fate which had befallen his northern ally at the hands of the Assyrian king. Yet his death was not unbloody, for ‘Hoshea the son of Elah smote him and slew him and reigned in his stead.’ In the days of Pekah, Assyria had captured a large number of the cities in the tribe of Naphthali, in the north of Israel. It may be that Hoshea discovered that if he could bring about Pekah’s death, he would have the Assyrians on his side and be made king of Israel. For so it came to pass, but the alliance was only a short one if it were made. Tiglath Pileser was succeeded by Shalmaneser, and in a very short time the Israelite monarch, who should have been faithful to those who appear to have set him on the throne, was found to be intriguing with Egypt, and for this offence there was no pardon. The capital city was besieged and taken by Assyria after three years, during which time Shalmaneser died and was followed by Sargon. The inhabitants of the ten tribes were deported, while strange people from other lands were put in their place that the country might not be untenanted. Thus was brought about the end of the northern kingdom and the people of the ten tribes, with the exception of a few who returned with the captivity of Judah in the time of Cyrus, were lost from henceforth, in their intermixture with the nations whither they were carried away.
We have now to follow the history of Judah alone, from the sixth year of Hezekiah, the son of Ahaz. This king instituted great religious reforms at the outset of his reign, but was sorely troubled by the inroads of Assyria. Greed of conquest was leading the armies of Nineveh nearer and nearer to the confines of Egypt, and urging them to absorb into their dominion all the countries which lay in the midst. Sennacherib had succeeded Sargon, and he came with his forces against the country of the Philistines, and while engaged in the siege of Lachish sent threats to Hezekiah that Jerusalem should next be assailed. The king of Judah bought, as he thought, a respite at a large price. But in spite of the tribute, from some reason or other, Sennacherib felt that Jerusalem was too strong a position to be left unsubdued in his rear while he marched toward Egypt. Hence his ambassadors came again with insulting blasphemies against the God of Judah, and taunting boasts against the feebleness of Hezekiah. But for His own sake and for His servant David’s sake Jerusalem was at this time delivered. A spirit of panic came over the Assyrians, and a great part of their army was destroyed by a pestilence. Sennacherib in consequence withdrew, and soon after was slain by two of his own sons.
At this time we begin to hear of that Chaldæan power, which in the end prevailed against Assyria, and was the agent in the final overthrow of Jerusalem. Babylon was beginning to rise against Nineveh, and, as we may conclude, with a wish to get help in such a struggle, the Chaldæan ruler turned his thoughts to Judah. The envoys of Berodach-baladan—for he was at this time king of Babylon—came professedly to congratulate Hezekiah on his recovery from a severe disease, but really to sound him in reference to a war in common against the armies of Nineveh. Hezekiah was disposed to listen to their proposals, and made a great display of all his treasures and his military resources. For this, God’s anger was pronounced against him by Isaiah, and he was told that the days should come when all his descendants and all that he possessed should be made a booty by these very Babylonians before whom he had been thus ostentatious. A portion of this prophecy was literally fulfilled in the next reign, for Manasseh the son of Hezekiah was taken prisoner and carried away to Babylon (2 Chronicles 33:11), and thus began the first stage of Judah’s subjection. Manasseh is handed down to us as an unprecedently wicked monarch, and Amon his son followed in his steps.
Under Josiah there was a time of much reformation and a hope of better days. He did more than any previous king to bring about purity of religious worship, and destroyed the magnificent temples which Solomon had erected on the Mount of Offence and which hitherto had been spared, probably because they stood far outside the city and were structures of much architectural beauty. Josiah was manifestly under the protection of Assyria, for when the king of Egypt, Pharaohnecoh, had come by sea to Palestine, and was about to begin his march against the Assyrians, Josiah went northward in pursuit of him and was slain in a battle at Megiddo. This Egyptian expedition was for a brief time successful, but soon all that had belonged to Egypt down to the very confines of their own land fell into the hands of the Babylonians (2 Kings 24:7). In the place of Josiah, the people of Judah set up his son Jehoahaz. He was however allowed only a three months’ reign, for Pharaoh made him prisoner and put his brother Jehoiakim into his place, no doubt making him swear subjection to Egypt, and imposing as large a tribute as he could exact.
Judah became now an object of attack by Babylon, and Nebuchadnezzar sent not only some Chaldæans to ravage the land but incited all the neighbouring tribes to join in the attack on the ally of Egypt. Jehoiakim reigned eleven years in this turmoil, his son and successor Jehoiachin but three months. For Egypt was now utterly broken, and the new king judged it to be his best policy to go forth and submit and make peace with Nebuchadnezzar if he might. His fate was a protracted captivity in Babylon, and along with him were carried away many of the distinguished people of the land, and among them went the prophet Ezekiel. A third son of Josiah, Zedekiah, was placed on the throne of Judah as Nebuchadnezzar’s vassal, but after a time thought himself strong enough to rebel. This provoked the final blow. The Chaldæans besieged and took the city, burned the temple and all the chief buildings, and carried all but the poorest of the people into captivity. Over this remnant they placed a governor Gedaliah, but he was soon assassinated, thereupon the people fled away into Egypt in terror of what the Babylonians would do as vengeance for the murder of their officer. It was by these fugitives that Jeremiah was taken down to Egypt, and the after-fate of that prophet is wholly unknown.
One final word the writer of Kings records, an omen perhaps he thought it of a coming relief for the whole captive nation. In the thirty-seventh year of Jehoiachin’s captivity a new king of Babylon, Evil-merodach, came to the throne, and lifted up the long imprisoned king of Judah, and raised him to a place of honour among the vassals whom he kept around him.
v. Character of the Book of Kings and its Relation to other books of the Old Testament
The Book of Kings was clearly meant to be a continuation of the Books of Samuel. The writer alludes continually in the life of Solomon to the promises which had been made by God to David and which are mentioned in the second of those books. A son was to succeed David whose kingdom should be established of the Lord, who should build a house for the name of Jehovah, to whom God would be a father, and from whom the mercy of the Lord should not depart (2 Samuel 7). To shew that this prophecy was fulfilled is the object of the Compiler of the Book of Kings, and whatever does not conduce thereto is passed over with but little notice. There elapsed, no doubt, a considerable time between the plague in Jerusalem, with which the Books of Samuel conclude, and the feeble age of David described in the opening paragraph of this Book. But to give historical events in their full and complete order is no part of our writer’s aim. We can see this from every portion of his work. He opens his narrative with so much, and no more, of the story of David’s closing life as serves to introduce the accession of Solomon, while to the history of that monarch, in whom the promises made to David had so conspicuous a fulfilment, he devotes about one quarter of his whole work. Solomon’s glory and prosperity are set forth in the early chapters, and he is exhibited as the king whom God had set up over Israel to do judgement and justice. While he walked in this way it was well with him; but on his decline therefrom, chastisements divinely sent came heavy upon him and upon his son. Yet God would preserve a lamp unto David, and over and over again we are reminded that this promise was not forgotten (1 Kings 11:36; 1 Kings 15:4; 2 Kings 8:19).
After the revolt of the ten tribes, and when a forbidden form of worship had been adopted in the northern kingdom, the history follows Israel in her long line of wicked princes till sin has brought destruction, while the fortunes of David’s house are traced in such wise as to keep prominently before us the ever-preserved succession; and in the closing sentences of the Book we are told of one of the royal line still remaining, to whom, though he is still a prisoner in Babylon, mercy and kindness is shewn by the successor of that monarch who had led him away captive. ‘What God hath promised to the house of David He has thus fulfilled’ is the theme of the Book, and except where political and military affairs illustrate his subject the Compiler concerns himself very little with them. From a comparison with the Chronicles, we find that he has omitted whole sections of such history which lay ready to his hand.
Besides this exposition of the fulfilment of God’s promises to David, the writer introduces very few other subjects with any detail, save the histories of Elijah and Elisha. These synchronise with the darkest period of the history of the ten tribes, when Baal-worship had been superadded to the worship of the calves, and they seem to be specially dealt on that it may be made manifest how great was God’s long-suffering to Israel, and that His promise to Jeroboam, made in as large terms as that to David (1 Kings 11:38), was only rendered void by a determined persistence in evil doing.
The Book of Kings, then, is not a history properly so called, but a selection from the historical documents of the nation made with a definite purpose. That the Compiler makes his extracts most faithfully we have many indications, notably that frequently-occurring phrase, ‘unto this day,’ a phrase true enough when the original documents from which our Compiler drew were written, but altogether inexact in b.c. 562, and only preserved because of the entire faithfulness to his copy of him who made the extracts. And the indications of such faithfulness are of the utmost importance when we come to estimate other characteristics of the Book.
The most important question of this kind which arises concerns the relation of the Book of Kings to the Pentateuch. In seeking to give an answer to such a question we have to remark how thoroughly, in nearly every chapter, the thread and tissue of the narrative is interwoven with the thoughts and phraseology of the Books of Moses. Such a chapter as that which contains Solomon’s dedication prayer is largely expressed in the words of Numbers, Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Had that chapter stood alone it might have been ascribed to some later writer familiar with the language of the Mosaic books, and if those books or a large portion of them were of late composition, the dedication prayer might also be set down as of late date. But it is not one single chapter which reechoes the Mosaic diction, resemblances of a like kind exist throughout in considerable abundance. And it is hard to believe that the Compiler of Kings, taking in hand documents which existed long before his day, some as far back as the time of Solomon himself, changed their whole character by introducing language, which, according to some, was not existent before the days of king Josiah. The work is not of such a patchwork character.
We cannot read the long address of David to Solomon to ‘be strong and keep the charge of the Lord, and to walk in his ways, &c.’ (1 Kings 2:2-3), or Solomon’s injunction concerning Joab’s death ‘that it should take away the innocent blood’ (1 Kings 2:31), or the same king’s description of his people, ‘one which God had chosen, a great people that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude’ (2 Kings 3:8), without feeling that the thoughts and language of Numbers, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy were very familiar to writers of these chapters, chapters which are due in all probability in their substance not to the Compiler of the Books of Kings, but to Nathan the seer, Ahijah the Shilonite and Iddo the seer, quoted (2 Chronicles 9:29) as the several authorities for the records of Solomon’s reign.
Again in such a history as that of the trial and execution of Naboth, the whole narrative carries us back to the laws, manners and customs which have their rise in the Books of Moses. So too do the frequent phrases which occur of such a kind as that ‘the eyes and heart of God shall be perpetually upon His house’; that offending Israel ‘shall be a proverb and a byword among all people, so that men shall say, Why hath the Lord done thus unto this land’; that Israel shall not intermarry with the heathen, ‘Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in to you for surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.’ Again that proverbial phrase occurring several times over ‘him that is shut up and left in Israel’ has its source in Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 32:36), whence also comes the phrase ‘to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger with their vanities.’ Allusions to the feast of the new moon (2 Kings 4:23); to the meal offerings in the temple (2 Kings 3:20); to the money of the guilt offerings and of the sin offerings as something which by the law belonged to the priests (2 Kings 12:16), all bring to mind the words of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers, where these regulations are recorded. So too with the recital of the idolatrous practices of Ahaz (2 Kings 16). It is entirely couched in the expressions which are found in the book of Deuteronomy, while that solemn enumeration (2 Kings 17) of those offences for which the northern kingdom was destroyed abounds with the phrases which are to be met with in Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy. If the faithfulness of the Compiler is to be accepted as equally displayed throughout his whole work, and there is no reason why it should not be, the records from which he drew had been written by those to whom the language found in our present Books of Moses was abundantly familiar. That such a position may be accepted it is not necessary to suppose that those Books existed exactly as we have them, in the days of David and Solomon, Jehoshaphat and Hezekiah, but that there did exist something very analogous thereto, something which the redactors after the Captivity without difficulty cast into the present form.
These considerations are of much importance when we come to enquire concerning the character of that Book of the Law which we are told was found by Hilkiah in the house of the Lord while the restoration of the temple was in progress in the reign of Josiah. That the book which was found was simply the Book of Deuteronomy, an opinion held by many, is a view which appears somewhat untenable. It is spoken of as ‘the Book of the Law’ or ‘this Book of the covenant,’ a phrase used always to designate the Books of Moses as a whole, but not a portion of them or any single book by itself. Deuteronomy was included in what was found, for the threats which are written in that book are expressly cited as making a deep impression upon the mind of Josiah, but Exodus must also have been included, for nowhere else are there found those complete and precise directions for the passover, which Josiah must have had before him when he arranged for its celebration in all its primitive order.
Josiah expressed no surprise when he was told that ‘the Book of the Law’ had been found, and the language of Huldah, when she was applied to, is that of one who was quite conscious of the existence of such a book. The name may have been applied at different times in the history of Israel to a collection varying in bulk, and perhaps in some portions of its form, but it was the name which was applied from the first to the laws of the people as a whole, and not to a single portion. There had existed long before Josiah’s day something which had passed under the name of ‘the Law of the Lord.’ Its directions were given to the people by the priests, and we need not assume that the number of copies which existed was very great. But copies did exist or Huldah would not have spoken as she did, and it is an evidence that Hilkiah’s book was not an invention of the priestly body in Josiah’s day, that no voice is raised to dispute what is read from it, no word is uttered that points to it as something hitherto unknown. In the days of Hezekiah there cannot fail to have existed a copy to which that reforming king could refer, though his passover-celebration seems to have been less complete than that of Josiah, and it is likely that the men of Hezekiah (Proverbs 25:1) who gathered the Proverbs of Solomon were also employed in making copies of the Law as it then existed. But in the evil days which followed Hezekiah’s reign, there was inducement enough offered for those who had a knowledge of such a book to cast it away, and the temple and its services were so far abolished or neglected as to account very naturally for the disappearance of a copy which had been laid up in the house of the Lord. Josiah may never have heard more than the directions which the priests gave concerning the worship of Jehovah in the temple, and an exact recital of the words of the covenant of God with Israel may have been entirely strange to him. What Hilkiah brought to him was an authoritative record of what hitherto he had received as tradition. The tradition had been incomplete. When the king learns the Law in greater fulness, he trembles with dread lest the curses therein denounced should fall upon him and his land because of inadequacy of the service which they had been rendering.
‘The Book of the Law,’ or ‘the Book of the Covenant’ was an ancient name and not an invention of Josiah’s time. The contents of that which was so called need not be supposed to have been always the same, but to have been increased in amount by the ordinances which developed from the most primitive code. What was discovered at this time was a copy of that which passed by the name ‘Book of the Law’ in the days of Hezekiah or even later, and the abundance of the quotations from the Books of Moses, and the great likeness to the language of those Books in the phraseology of our present Book of Kings, are evidence as good as can be desired of the existence of what we now know as Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, in some form or other all through the times of the kingdom.
Solomon king over the whole nation, 1015–975
Shishak plunders Jerusalem (1 Kings 14:25-26)
Jeroboam builds Penuel (1 Kings 12:25)
Abijam (18th year of Jeroboam) 1 Kings 15:1; 2 Chronicles 13:1 957
Asa (20th year of Jeroboam) 1 Kings 15:9 955
Nadab (2nd year of Asa) 1 Kings 15:25 2
Baasha (3rd year of Asa) 1 Kings 15:28 24
War with Zerah the Ethiopian (2 Chronicles 14:9)
War against Judah (2 Chronicles 16:1)
Asa’s alliance with Benhadad I. (1 Kings 15:18)
Elah (26th year of Asa) 1 Kings 16:8 2
Zimri (27th year of Asa) 1 Kings 16:10 7 dys.
War between Omri and Tibni 4 years (1 Kings 16:21)
 The duration of this war, about 4 years, must be included in the 12 years of Omri’s reign (1 Kings 16:23). Otherwise Ahab’s accession could not be in the 38th year of Asa.
Omri unopposed (31st year of Asa) 1 Kings 16:23Victories over the Moabites.
Omri builds Samaria (1 Kings 16:24)
Samaria invaded by the Syrians (1 Kings 20:34)
Ahab (38th year of Asa) 1 Kings 16:29Ahab marries Jezebel, princess of Zidon (1 Kings 16:31)
Jehoshaphat (4th year of Ahab) 1 Kings 22:41 914
Benhadad II. attacks Samaria twice and is defeated (1 Kings 20:29)
Battle at Ramoth-Gilead. Ahab slain (1 Kings 22:37)
Philistines and Arabians tributary to Judah (2 Chronicles 17:11)
Ahaziah (17th year of Jehoshaphat) 1 Kings 22:51Moab regains its lost territory
 This appears to be the time to which the conquests recorded on the Moabite stone are to be referred. The places had been won by Israel in the reign of Omri.
Jehoram (18th year of Jehoshaphat) 2 Kings 3:1 There are 3 statements concerning the commencement of the reign of Jehoram king of Israel. He is said (2 Kings 1:17) to have begun to reign in the second year of Joram, king of Judah; then (2 Kings 8:16) in the fifth year before Joram; and thirdly, as noted above in the Table, in the 18th year of Jehoshaphat. On the attempts to bring these 3 dates into accord, see the notes on the several verses.
War against Mesha king of Moab (2 Kings 3:4-27)
Joram (5th year of Jehoram) 2 Kings 8:6Revolt of Edom and Libnah (2 Kings 8:22)
Judah ravaged by Philistines and Arabians (2 Chronicles 21:17)
Ahaziah (12th year of Jehoram) 2 Kings 8:25 In 2 Kings 9:29, the date is given as the 11th year of Jehoram. But such a variation may be accounted for by the Jewish mode of reckoning regnal years.
Defence of Ramoth-Gilead (2 Kings 9:14)
Ahaziah slain by Jehu
Jehoram slain by Jehu
 The period embraced between the accession of Jeroboam and the death of Jehoram is 91 years (975–884). That the totals of years ascribed to the kings amounts to a larger number than this is due to the counting of one and the same year as the final year of one reign and the initial year of the next. These totals are 95 for Judah and 98 for Israel. The total for Israel is greater than that for Judah because of the greater number of the accessions and the consequently greater number of the double reckonings. But if the three reigns reckoned as 2 years each in Israel, be counted, as they really were, for only one year each, the totals on both sides become the same.
Athaliah (2 Kings 11:3)
The temple desecrated (2 Chronicles 24:7)
Jehu (2 Kings 10:36)
Joash (7th year of Jehu) 2 Kings 11:4; 2 Kings 12:1 878
Israel smitten by Syria (2 Kings 10:32)
Hazael threatens Jerusalem (2 Kings 12:17)
Jehoahaz (23rd year of Joash) 2 Kings 13:1Continued oppression of the Syrians (2 Kings 13:22)
 From the 23rd year of Joash to the 37th year makes the reign of Jehcahaz to be little more than 14 years. While the length of the reign of Jehoash, from the 37th year of Joash to the 15th of Amaziah, would be somewhat more than 16 years. If we take the excess in one case to supplement the defect in the other the total time will be not far from correct.
Jehoash (37th year of Joash) 2 Kings 13:10 16
Amaziah (2nd year of Jehoash) 2 Kings 14:1 Amaziah lived 15 years after the death of Jehoash (2 Kings 14:17).
Edom smitten by Judah (2 Kings 14:7)
Defeat of Amaziah at Bethshemesh (2 Kings 14:13)
Death of Elisha (2 Kings 13:14)
Some territory recovered from Syria (2 Kings 13:25)
Jeroboam 2. (15th year of Amaziah) 2 Kings 14:23 41
 Between the 15th year of Amaziah who reigned 29 years and the 38th of Azariah must be a period of about 52 or 53 years. Either the 41 years of text is wrong, or there was some interregnum of 11 or 12 years.
Azariah (27th [?] year of Jeroboam) 2 Kings 15:1-2 There is some error in this date. For Amaziah began to reign in the 2nd year of Jehoash. Jehoash reigned 16 years. So he lived about 14 years contemporary with Amaziah. The latter lived 15 years after the death of Jehoash. Thus his whole reign was 29 years. Now in the 15th year of Amaziah began Jeroboam 2. to reign. Hence Amaziah must have died, and Azariah succeeded in the 14th or 15th year of Jeroboam.
Jeroboam recovers Damascus and Hamath (2 Kings 14:25)
Zechariah (38th year of Azariah) 2 Kings 15:8 ½
Shallum (39th year of Azariah) 2 Kings 15:13 1½
Menahem (39th year of Azariah) 2 Kings 15:17Pul, king of Assyria, comes against Israel
Menahem becomes vassal of Assyria (2 Kings 15:19)
Azariah towards the close of his reign is a leper
Pekahiah (50th year of Azariah) 2 Kings 15:23 2
Pekah (52nd year of Azariah) 2 Kings 15:27 201
 0 From the 52nd year of Azariah to the 12th year of Ahaz we have 28 years at least for the reigns of Jotham and part of Ahaz. The reign of Pekah must therefore have been longer than 20 years if Hoshea immediately succeeded him. That there is some error in connexion with the dates of Pekah and Jotham is apparent from 2 Kings 15:30-32.
Jotham (2nd year of Pekah) 2 Kings 15:32-33 758
Ahaz (17th year of Pekah) 2 Kings 16:1Ahaz seeks help from Assyria (2 Kings 16:7)
Pekah and Rezin king of Damascus attack Jerusalem
Pekah’s kingdom attacked by Tiglathpileser
Hoshea (12th year of Ahaz) 2 Kings 17:1Shalmaneser attacks Israel
Hoshea treats with So king of Egypt
Second attack of Shalmaneser
Hezekiah (3rd year of Hoshea) 2 Kings 18:1Reformation of Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:4)
Sargon succeeds Shalmaneser Samaria taken (6th year of Hezekiah) 2 Kings 18:10
 1 The period from the accession of Jehu to the captivity of the 10 tribes embraces 163 years. The total of the regnal years of the kings of Judah amounts to 165, a difference easily introduced by the counting the same year twice over at the end of a reign and the beginning of another. But the regnal years assigned to the kings of Israel are little more than 143. Thus it is clear that about 20 years must be added, and this accords with the necessity seen above of giving 12 years more between Jeroboam 2. and Zechariah , , 8 years more between Pekah and Hoshea.
Samaria taken in the 6th year of king Hezekiah
Sennacherib invades Judah
Destruction of the Assyrian army
Babylonian embassy to Jerusalem
Manasseh (2 Kings 21:1)
Manasseh carried captive to Babylon (2 Chronicles 33:11)
Amon (2 Kings 21:19)
Josiah (2 Kings 22:1)
Restoration of the temple
Finding of the book of the Law
Abolition of all idolatry
Great celebration of the Passover
Pharaoh-necoh comes against Assyria
Josiah slain at Megiddo
Jehoahaz (2 Kings 23:31)
Pharaoh-necoh carries Jehoahaz captive (2 Kings 23:33)
Jehoiakim (2 Kings 23:36)
Jehoiakim tributary to Egypt (2 Kings 23:35)
Afterwards tributary to Assyria (2 Kings 24:1)
Judah attacked by Chaldæans, Syrians, Moabites and Ammonites
Jehoiachin (2 Kings 24:8)
Egyptians driven back by the Babylonians (2 Kings 24:7)
Jehoiachin taken captive to Babylon (2 Kings 24:12)
Zedekiah (2 Kings 24:18)
Jerusalem besieged by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 25:1)
Capture and destruction of Jerusalem
Gedaliah appointed governor (2 Kings 25:22)
The residue of the Jews flee unto Egypt (2 Kings 25:26)
Jehoiachin kindly treated by Evil-Merodach