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Books of Kings

The Books of Kings are two books of the Christian Bible Old Testament and Jewish Tanach. They contain accounts of the kings of ancient Israel.

Two books of Kings were originally one book in the Hebrew Scriptures. The present division into two books was first made by the Septuagint, which now, with the Vulgate, numbers them as the third and fourth books of Kings, the two books of Samuel being the first and second books of Kings.

They contain the annals of the Jewish commonwealth from the accession of Solomon till the subjugation of the kingdom by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians (apparently a period of about four hundred and fifty-three years). The books of Chronicles are more comprehensive in their contents than those of Kings. The latter synchronize with 1 Chronicles 28 - 2 Chronicles 36:21. While in the Chronicles greater prominence is given to the priestly or Levitical office, in the Kings greater prominence is given to the kingly.

The authorship of these books is uncertain. There are some portions of them and of the Book of Jeremiah that are almost identical, e.g., 2 Kings 24:18-25 and Jeremiah 52; 39:1-10; 40:7-41:10. There are also many undesigned coincidences between Jeremiah and Kings (2 Kings 21-23 and Jer. 7:15; 15:4; 19:3, etc.), and events recorded in Kings of which Jeremiah had personal knowledge. Because of this many have traditionally thought that Jeremiah was the author of the books of Kings. An alternative supposition is that Ezra, after the Captivity, compiled them from documents written perhaps by David, Solomon, Nathan, Gad, and Iddo[?], and that he arranged them in the order in which they now exist.

In the threefold division of the Scriptures in the Jewish Tanach, these books are ranked among the "Prophets." They are frequently quoted or alluded to by Jesus and his apostles (Matthew 6:29; 12:42; Luke 4:25, 26; 10:4; comp. 2 Kings 4:29; Mark 1:6; comp. 2 Kings 1:8; Matthew 3:4, etc.).

The sources of the narrative are referred to as

  1. "the book of the acts of Solomon" (1 Kings 11:41)
  2. the "book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah" (14:29; 15:7, 23, etc.)
  3. the "book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel" (14:19; 15:31; 16:14, 20, 27, etc.).

The date of its composition was perhaps some time between B.C. 561[?], the date of the last chapter (2 Kings 25), when Jehoiachin[?] was released from captivity by Evil-merodach, and B.C. 538, the date of the decree of deliverance by Cyrus the Great.


Initial text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897 -- Please update as needed



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