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2 Kings

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Burke O. Long writes: "The Second Book of Kings is part of an editorial unit that begins with the book of Deuteronomy, includes Joshua, Judges, and 1 and 2 Samuel, and concludes with the books og Kings. In this final book, the ancient Deuteronomistic historian continues to evaluate his people's experience with the northern and southern monarchies after the death of Ahab (ca. 851 B.C.). The story moves through the destruction of the Northern Kingdom (ca. 722; 2 Kings 17) and comes to rest in the aftermath of Judah's and Jerusalem's demise in 587 (2 Kings 25)." (Harper's Bible Commentary, p. 323)

Peter F. Ellis identifies three propositions put forward by the author of the books of Kings (The Jerome Biblical Commentary, vol. 1, p. 180):

The first proposition follows: Catastrophe has overtaken Israel because of the infidelity of the kings to covenant and Temple, not because of any lack of covenant fidelity on God's part. This proposition is hammered into the consciousness of his readers by the author's judgments on the kings both of Israel and Judah. All, without exception of the northern kings and the majority of the southern, Davidic, kings (with a few notable exceptions), are adjudged unfaithful to covenant and Temple. The same proposition is even more clearly inculcated in the author's explanatory discourses in 1 Kgs 11 and 2 Kgs 17.

The second proposition may be stated thus: It was the Word of God through Moses that brought Israel into history at Sinai. It is the Word of God through his prophets, continuously intervening and infallibly fulfulled, that has shaped Israel's history through the centuries. This proposition is drilled into the consciousness of his readers by the author's use of sources from the prophetic school. From them he selects stories detailing prophetic predictions and their infallible fulfillment. A total of 45 different prophetic prediction-fulfillment stories are spread over the two books (25 in 1 Kgs; 20 in 2 Kgs), with 15 of the 22 chapters in 1 Kgs and 20 of the 25 chapters in 2 Kgs containing at least one prediction-fulfillment story. The cumulative effect of these stories is such that the reader cannot doubt that once the Word of the Lord has gone forth it will be fulfulled infallibly.

The third proposition may be stated as follows: The promise is made to David in 2 Sm 7, that his dynasty would be eternal, is a promise and a prediction that by its nature must be fulfilled, all things to the contrary notwithstanding. Because of the historical circumstances in the time of the author (the nation destroyed, the citizens in exile, the king deposed), he cannot point, as he does in the case of the other promise predictions he records, to the fulfillment of this promise. For all Israelites, however, as for himself, the fulfillment of this promise must be an aspect of faith.

Samuel Sandmel writes: "Accordingly, the Deuteronomists depict the monarchs as having had the choice of accepting Yahve's way or of rejecting it, and scarcely any generation appears to have been bereft of the possibility of prophetic guidance. So uniformly do the Deuteronomists tell us this that they are occasionally led into certain absurdities. Thus, they have before them a knowledge of the sweep of history, and they know which dynasties did not last, and they know that Israel was exiled in 722/721 and Judah in 586. In the light of their knowledge they portray prophets as predicting these events in advance. Yet they faced the anomaly of long reigns and wicked kings, and short ones by good kings—in their view a miscarriage of justice. They therefore appended to their disapproval of certain wicked kings a statement to justify the delay of the merited punishment. Solomon's misdeeds caused the division of the kingdom, but it was deferred until his son's time (1 Kings 11:11). Jeroboam ben Nebat caused Israel's subjection to Assyria, but an interval of another dynasty was to intervene (1 Kings 14:15ff.). The punishment for Ahab's misdeeds was deferred to the days of his son (1 Kings 21:28-30). The Babylonian exile was caused by Manasseh (II Kings 21:12ff.), even though it did not take place until the time of Manasseh's great-grandsons." (The Hebrew Scriptures, p. 470)

James King West writes: "Throughout the better part of the period of the dual monarchies, Israel had maintained its ascendancy over Judah. Under the Omrides the southern kings had been little more than vassals of Samaria. Judah, nevertheless, possessed the stability of the unchanging Davidic house. Whereas the northern kingdom produced no fewer than nineteen kings and nine dynasties during its two centuries of existence, Judah, for the same period, was governed by only eleven monarchs—all of them (except for the brief usurpation of Athaliah) descendants of David. For another century and a half after the fall of Samaria, Judah weathered the successive crises brought on by the Assyrians and Babylonians. Eight more successors of David were to rule in Jerusalem before Babylon finally destroyed the city (587 B.C.) and instituted the period of Babylonian captivity." (Introduction to the Old Testament, pp. 213-214)

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