1 & 2 KINGS
GENERAL FACTS ABOUT THE BOOKS OF KINGS
Originally there were not two books of Kings but only one. It was the Septuagint translation that gave us our two-fold division. The two books of Kings deal with the history of Israel from the beginning of Solomon’s reign until shortly after the Captivity in Babylon. Solomon’s reign began about 972 B.C. and the Babylonian Captivity began about 587 B.C. That means that the two books of Kings cover a period of the Jews’ history of about 400 years. As the name of the books of Kings shows, the two books tell mostly about the various kings that ruled in Israel and Judah. We are told which kings were good and which ones were evil in God’s eyes. Events in the lives of the great prophets Elijah and Elisha are also related.
The 400 years covered by Kings can be divided into three parts. These three parts give us our general outline for the books.
- The Reign of Solomon: 972-933 B.C. (I Kings 1-11)
- The Divided Kingdoms of Israel and Judah: 933-722 B.C. (1 Kings 12-22 thru
2 Kings 1-17)
- The History of Judah from Hezekiah to the Captivity: 726-587 B.C. (2 Kings 18-25) 1 Kings has 22 chapters. 2 Kings has 25 chapters.
We do not know the author of the books of Kings. Jewish tradition says that the Prophet Jeremiah wrote them.
PURPOSE OF THE BOOKS
The books of Kings are recorded by the Holy Spirit to show that the fall of Israel and Judah was caused by their own unfaithfulness and to show that God was still faithful to his promise to David in 2 Samuel 7:16 “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.” God would preserve David’s line so that the everlasting Messiah would come from him.
A BRIEF SURVEY OF THE CONTENTS OF KINGS
The Reign of Solomon (I Kings 1-11)
Solomon, David’s son by Bathsheba, is made king. He has great wisdom, power and wealth. These were “golden years” in the history of Israel. Solomon builds a magnificent temple to the Lord at Jerusalem. Even after God’s great blessings on Solomon and even after God’s solemn warnings to him to remain faithful to Him, Solomon fell into polygamy and idolatry.
After a 40 year reign that started well and ended with Solomon still in his sin, Solomon died.
The Divided Kingdoms of Israel and Judah (1 Kings 12 – 2 Kings 17)
After the death of Solomon, 10 of the tribes revolt against the rule of Solomon’s son, Rehoboam. Now the land is no longer united under one king but becomes a divided kingdom. In the north is the Kingdom of Israel or Northern Kingdom. In the south is the Kingdom of Judah. The 10 tribes of the Kingdom of Israel are ruled by Jeroboam and a succession of wicked kings. The tribe of Judah and part of Benjamin are ruled by Rehoboam and a succession of kings, some good and some bad.
The Kingdom of Israel exists from 933 B.C. to 722 B.C. The king of Assyria in 722 B.C. utterly defeats the Kingdom of Israel and carries the people away into his land of Assyria. Those 10 northern tribes are lost to history from that point on. Their destruction by Assyria is a clear reminder that God is in full control of history and that wickedness does not go unpunished. 2 Kings 17:7 makes this clear. It says: “All this took place because the Israelites sinned against the Lord their God … They worshipped other gods.” The king of Assyria brought in other people to repopulate the area that the 10 tribes had left. This area is often called Samaria.
The History of Judah from Hezekiah to the Captivity (2 Kings 18-25)
The Kingdom of Judah is allowed to last for another 130 years. During the reign of good king Hezehiah, the king of Assyria threatens to destroy Judah. But God destroys the Assyrian army and Judah is saved. But in 587 B.C. the king of Babylon destroys Jerusalem, the capital of the Kingdom of Judah, and carries away the people of Judah into captivity in Babylon. Solomon’s magnificent temple is destroyed and 70 years of foreign captivity begin.
A LIST OF THE KINGS OF ISRAEL AND JUDAH WITH THEIR APPROXIMATE DATES
All dates are B.C.
A. United Kingdom
Solomon 972-933 (931)
B. Kingdom of Israel
Jeroboam I 931-910
Jeroboam II 793-753
C. Kingdom of Judah
KEY DATES TO MEMORIZE
Be sure to remember the date 722 B.C. as the date when the Kingdom of Israel and its capital city of Samaria were defeated by Assyria and its people carried away and lost forever. Remember the date 587 B.C. as the date when the Kingdom of Judah and its capital city of Jerusalem were defeated by the Babylonians and carried into 70 years of captivity.
KEY CHAPTER NUMBERS FOR IMPORTANT EVENTS
Solomon asks for Wisdom 3
Solomon Builds the Temple 6
Israel Rebels and Divided Kingdom Begins 12
Elijah Fed by Ravens17
Assyrians Defeat Kingdom of Israel 17
The Fall of Jerusalem by Hands of Babylon 25
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