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Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary Keil & Delitzsch
- 1 Kings
by Karl Keil and Franz Delitzsch
The Books of Kings
Contents- and Character- Origin and Sources- of the Books of the Kings.
The books of the Kings, which were but one book originally like the books of Samuel, and which like the latter, were divided into two books by the Alexandrian translators (see the Introduction to the books of Samuel), contain, in accordance with their name ( מלכים ), the history of the Israelitish theocracy under the kings, from the accession of Solomon to the extinction of the monarchy on the overthrow of the kingdom of Judah, when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Chaldaeans and the people were carried away into exile in Babylon. they embrace a period of 455 years, from 1015 to 560 b.c., that is to say, to the reign of the Babylonian king Evil-merodach. And as every kingdom culminates in its king, and the government of the kings determines the fate of the kingdom, the contents of the books before us, which are named after the kings of Israel, consist for the most part of a history of those kings; inasmuch as, whilst on the one hand the reigns of the several kings form the historical and chronological framework for the description of the historical development of the people and kingdom, on the other hand the leading phases which the monarchy assumed furnish the basis of the three periods, into which the history of this epoch and the contents of our books are divided.
The first period (1015-975 b.c.) embraces the forty years of Solomon's reign over the undivided kingdom of the twelve tribes of Israel, when the Israelitish kingdom of God stood at the summit of its earthly power and glory; though towards the end of this period it began to decline inasmuch as the rebellion of Solomon against the Lord in the closing years of his reign prepared the way for the rebellion of the ten tribes against the house of David. - The second period commences with the division of the one kingdom into the two kingdoms, Israel (or the ten tribes) and Judah, and stretches over the whole period during which these two kingdoms existed side by side, terminating with the destruction of the kingdom of the ten tribes by the Assyrians, i.e., from 975 to 722 b.c. - The third period embraces the still remaining years of the continuance of the kingdom of Judah, until its eventual dissolution by the Chaldaeans and the carrying away of the people into exile in Babylon, viz., from 722 to 560 b.c.
The first part of our books (1 Kings 1-11) therefore contains a description of the reign of Solomon, ( a) in its commencement, viz., his ascent of the throne and the consolidation of his power (1 Kings 1 and 2); ( b) in the gradual development of the strength and glory of his government, by his marriage, his sacrifice and prayer at Gibeon, his judicial wisdom, and his court (1 Kings 3:1-5:14)-also by the building of the temple and royal palace and the dedication of the temple (1 Kings 5:15-9:9), by the erection of his other edifices and the introduction of navigation and commerce (1 Kings 9:10-28), by the spreading abroad of the fame of his wisdom, and by the increase of his wealth (1 Kings 10); and ( c) in its eventual decline in consequence of the sin into which the aged monarch fell through his polygamy and idolatry (1 Kings 11). The second part opens with an account of the falling away of the ten tribes from the royal family of David, and relates in a synchronistic narrative the history of the two kingdoms in the three stages of their development: viz., ( a) the early enmity between the two, from Jeroboam to Omri of Israel (1 Kings 12:1-16:28); ( b) the establishment of friendship and intermarriage between the two royal houses under Ahab and his sons, down to the destruction of the two kings Joram of Israel and Ahaziah of Judah by Jehu (1 Kings 16:29-2 Kings 10); ( c) the renewal of hostilities between the two kingdoms, from Jehu's ascent of the throne in Israel and Athaliah's usurpation of the throne in Judah to the overthrow of the kingdom of Israel in the sixth year of Hezekiah's reign in Judah (2 Kings 11-17). And, lastly, the third part contains the history of the kingdom of Judah from Hezekiah to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldaeans, and carries it down to the thirty-seventh year of the imprisonment of king Jehoiachin in exile (2 Kings 18-25).
Now, although the history of the kings, or the account of both the duration and character of their reigns, and also of their various enterprises, so far as they promoted or hindered the progress of the kingdom of God, forms the principal substance of these books, they do not consist of a mere chronicle of the deeds and fortunes of the several kings, but describe at the same time the ministry of the prophets in the two kingdoms, and that to some extent in so elaborate a manner, that whilst some have discovered in this a peculiarly “prophetico-didactic purpose” (Hävernick, De Wette, etc.), others regard it as an endeavour “to set forth the history of the Israelitish and Jewish kings in its relation to the demands, the doings, the proclamations, and the predictions of the prophets, from Solomon to the Babylonian exile” (Kern). But however unmistakable the prophetico-didactic character may be, which the books of Kings have in common with the whole of the historical writings of the Old Testament, a closer investigation of their character will show that there is no ground for the assertion that there is any prophetico-didactic purpose in the mode in which the history is written. For the account of the ministry of the prophets is introduced into the history of the kings as the spiritual leaven which pervaded the Israelitish monarchy from the beginning to the end, and stamped upon its development the character of the theocracy or divine rule in Israel. Jehovah, as the invisible but yet real King of the covenant nation, had created the peculiar instruments of His Spirit in the prophets who maintained His law and right before the kings, standing by their side to advise and direct, or to warn and punish, and, wherever it was necessary, proving their utterances to be words of God by signs and wonders which they did before the people. Thus the Lord directed the prophet Samuel to anoint Saul and David princes over His people, and the prophet Nathan to communicate to David the promise of the everlasting endurance of his throne (2 Sam 7). But when at a later period David sinned (2 Sam 11 and 24), it was the prophets Nathan and Gad who threatened him with punishment from God, and on his confession of sin and repentance announced the forgiveness and favour of God (2 Samuel 12:1-15; 2 Samuel 24:11-19). Through the medium of the prophet Nathan, Solomon was also appointed the successor of David upon the throne (2 Samuel 12:25), and not only anointed king, but installed in defiance of the machinations of Adonijah (1 Kings 1). But since the monarchy was transmitted from Solomon in a direct line through his descendants by virtue of the divine promise in 2 Sam 7, it is only in connection with important enterprises, or when the kingdom is involved in difficulties, that we find the prophets coming forward in after times to help or advise those kings who walked in the ways of the Lord; whereas under the idolatrous and godless rulers they offer, in the power of God, such energetic resistance to idolatry and to everything evil and ungodly, that princes and people are compelled to bow before them and succumb to their divine words. In this way the prophets accompanied the monarchy in all its course from Solomon to the Captivity as guardians of the rights of the God-King, and as interpreters of His counsel and will. Under Solomon, indeed, there was apparently a long period, during which prophecy fell into the background; since the Lord Himself not only appeared to this king in a dream at Gibeon shortly after he ascended the throne, but also appeared to him a second time after the dedication of the temple, and promised him the fulfilment of his prayers, and the glorification and eternal continuance of his kingdom, on condition of his faithful observance of the divine commands ( 1 Kings 3:5., 1 Kings 9:1.). But towards the end of his reign it rose up again in all the more threatening attitude, against the king who was then disposed to fall away from Jehovah. It was no doubt a prophet who announced to him the separation of ten parts of his kingdom (1 Kings 11:11.)-possibly the same Ahijah who promised Jeroboam the government over ten tribes (1 Kings 11:29.). But after the division of the kingdom, when Jeroboam proceeded, in order to fortify his throne, to make the political division into a religious one, and to this end exalted the image-worship into the state religion, the prophets continued to denounce this apostasy and proclaim to the sinful kings the destruction of their dynasties. And when at a still later period Ahab the son of Omri, and his wife Jezebel, endeavoured to make the Phoenician worship of Baal and Asherah into the national religion in Israel, Elijah the Tishbite, “the prophet as fire, whose words burned as a torch” (Ecclus. 48:1), came forward with the irresistible power of God and maintained a victorious conflict against the prophets and servants of Baal, warding off the utter apostasy of the nation by uniting the prophets into societies, in which the worship of God was maintained, and the godly in Israel were supplied with a substitute for that legal worship in the temple which was enjoyed by the godly in Judah. And in the kingdom of Judah also where were never wanting prophets to announce the judgments of the Lord to idolatrous kings, and to afford a vigorous support to the pious and God-fearing rulers in their endeavours to promote the religious life of the nation, and to exalt the public worship of God in the temple. But since the kingdom of Judah possessed the true sanctuary, with the legal worship and an influential body of priests and Levites; and since, moreover, the monarchy of the house of David was firmly established by divine promises resting upon that house, and among the kings who sat upon the throne, from Rehoboam onwards, there were many godly rulers who were distinguished for their lofty virtues as governors; the labours of the prophets did not assume the same prominent importance here as they did in the kingdom of the ten bribes, where they had to fight against idolatry from the beginning to the end.
This explains the fact that the ministry of the prophets assumes so prominent a position in the books of the Kings, whereas the history of the kings appears sometimes to fall into the background in comparison. Nevertheless the historical development of the monarchy, or, to express it more correctly, of the kingdom of God under the kings, forms the true subject-matter of our books. It was not a prophetico-didactic purpose, but the prophetico-historical point of view, which prevailed throughout the whole work, and determined the reception as well as the treatment of the historical materials. The progressive development of the kingdom was predicted and described by the Lord Himself in the promise communicated to David by the prophet Nathan: “And when thy days shall be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name; and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his Father, and he shall be my son, that if he go astray, I may chasten him with man's rod, and with stripes of the children of men; but my mercy will not depart from him, as I caused it to depart from Saul, whom I put away before thee. And thy house and thy kingdom shall be for ever before thee, thy throne will be established for ever” ( 2 Samuel 7:12-16). This thoroughly glorious promise forms the red thread which runs through the history of the kings from Solomon to the Babylonian captivity, and constitutes the leading idea in the record of this history in our books. The author's intention is to show in the history of the kings how the Lord fulfilled this gracious word, how He first of all chastised the seed of David for its transgressions, and then cast it off, though not for ever. To this end he shows in the history of Solomon, how, notwithstanding the usurpation of the throne attempted by Adonijah, Solomon received the whole of his father's kingdom, as the seed of David promised by the Lord, and established his power; how the Lord at the very beginning of his reign renewed to him at Gibeon the promise made to his father on the condition of his faithful observance of His law, and in answer to his prayer gave him not only a wise and understanding heart, but also riches and honour, so that his equal was not to be found among all the kings of the earth (1 Kings 1:1-5:14); how Solomon then carried out the work of building the temple, entrusted to him by his father according to the will of the Lord; and how, after it was finished, the Lord again assured him of the fulfilment of that promise (1 Kings 5:15-9:9); and, lastly, how Solomon, having attained to the highest earthly glory, through the completion of the rest of his buildings, through the great renown of his wisdom, which had reached to nations afar off, and through his great riches, acquired partly by marine commerce and trade, and partly from tributes and presents, forgot his God, who had bestowed this glory upon him, and in his old age was led astray into unfaithfulness towards the Lord through his numerous foreign wives, and had at last to listen to this sentence from God: “Because thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and give it to thy servant: notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it, for David thy father's said; but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son. Howbeit I will not rend away all thy kingdom; but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant's sake, and for Jerusalem's sake which I have chosen” (1 Kings 9:10-11:13). Thus, because God had promised to the seed of David the eternal possession of the throne (2 Samuel 7:12.), one portion of the kingdom was to be left to the son of Solomon, with the chosen city of Jerusalem, and his servant (Jeroboam, 1 Kings 11:26-40) was only to obtain dominion over ten tribes. The historical realization of this prophecy is shown in the history of the two divided kingdoms.
In the synchronistic account of these kingdoms, according to the principle already adopted in the book of Genesis, of disposing of the subordinate lines of the patriarchs before proceeding with the main line, the reigns of the kings of Israel are described before those of the contemporaneous kings of Judah, and to some extent in a more elaborate manner. The reason of this, however, is, that the history of the kingdom of Israel, in which one dynasty overthrew another, whilst all the rulers walked in the sin of Jeroboam, and Ahab even added the worship of Baal to that sin, supplied the author with more materials for the execution of his plan than that of the kingdom of Judah, which had a much quieter development under the rule of the house of David, and of which, therefore, there was less to relate. Apart from this, all the events of the kingdom of Judah which are of any importance in relation to the progress of the kingdom of God, are just as elaborately described as those connected with the kingdom of Israel; and the author does equal justice to both kingdoms, showing how the Lord manifested Himself equally to both, and bore with them with divine long-suffering and grace. But the proof of this necessarily assumed different forms, according to the different attitudes which they assumed towards the Lord. Jeroboam, the founder of the kingdom of Israel, when told that he would be king over the ten tribes, had received the promise that Jehovah would be with him, and build him a lasting house as He built for David, and give Israel to him, on condition that he would walk in the ways of God (1 Kings 11:37-38). This implied that his descendants would rule over Israel (of the ten tribes) so long as this kingdom should stand; for it was not to last for ever, but the separation would come to an end, and therefore he is not promised the everlasting continuance of his kingdom (see at 1 Kings 11:38). But Jeroboam did not fulfil this condition, nor did any of the rulers of Israel who succeeded him. Nevertheless the Lord had patience with the kings and tribes who were unfaithful to His law, and not only warned them continually by His prophets, and chastised them by threats of punishment and by the fulfilment of those threats upon the kings and all the people, but repeatedly manifested His favour towards them for the sake of His covenant with Abraham (2 Kings 13:23), to lead them to repentance-until the time of grace had expired, when the sinful kingdom fell and the ten tribes were carried away to Media and Assyria. - In the kingdom of David, on the contrary, the succession to the throne was promised to the house of David for all time: therefore, although the Lord caused those who were rebellious to be chastised by hostile nations, yet, for His servant David's sake, He left a light shining to the royal house, since He did not punish the kings who were addicted to idolatry with the extermination of their family (1 Kings 15:4; 2 Kings 8:19); and even when the wicked Athaliah destroyed all the royal seed, He caused Joash, the infant son of Ahaziah, to be saved and raised to the throne of his fathers (2 Kings 11). Consequently this kingdom was able to survive that of the ten tribes for an entire period, just because it possessed a firm political basis in the uninterrupted succession of the Davidic house, as it also possessed a spiritual basis of no less firmness in the temple which the Lord had sanctified as the place where His name was revealed. After it had been brought to the verge of destruction by the godless Ahaz, it received in Hezekiah a king who did what was right in the eyes of Jehovah, as his father David had done, and in the severe oppression which he suffered at the hands of the powerful army of the proud Sennacherib, took refuge in the Lord, who protected and saved Jerusalem, “for His own and His servant David's sake,” at the prayer of the pious king of Jerusalem ( 2 Kings 19:34; 2 Kings 20:6). But when at length, throughout the long reign of Manasseh the idolater, apostasy and moral corruption prevailed to such an extent in Judah also, that even the pious Josiah, with the reformation of religion which he carried out with the greatest zeal, could only put down the outward worship of idols, and was unable to effect any thorough conversion of the people to the Lord their God, and the Lord as the Holy One of Israel was obliged to declare His purpose of rejecting Judah from before His face on account of the sins of Manasseh, and to cause that purpose to be executed by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 23:26-27; 2 Kings 24:3-4); Jehoiachin was led away captive to Babylon, and under Zedekiah the kingdom was destroyed with the burning of Jerusalem and the temple. Yet the Lord did not suffer the light to be altogether extinguished to His servant David; but when Jehoiachin had pined in captivity at Babylon for thirty-seven years, expiating his own and his fathers' sins, he was liberated from his captivity by Nebuchadnezzar's son, and raised to honour once more (2 Kings 25:27-30). - The account of this joyful change in the condition of Jehoiachin, with which the books of the Kings close, forms so essential a part of their author's plan, that without this information the true conclusion to his work would be altogether wanting. For this event shed upon the dark night of the captivity the first ray of a better future, which was to dawn upon the seed of David, and with it upon the whole nation in its eventual redemption from Babylon, and was also a pledge of the certain fulfilment of the promise that the Lord would not for ever withdraw His favour from the seed of David.
(Note: Stähelin makes the following remark in his Einleitung (p.122): “ The books of the Kings form an antithesis to the history of David. As the latter shows how obedience to God and to the utterances of His prophets is rewarded, and how, even when Jehovah is obliged to punish, He makes known His grace again in answer to repentance; so do the books of the Kings, which relate the overthrow of both the Hebrew states, teach, through the history of these two kingdoms, how glorious promises are thrown back and dynasties fall in consequence of the conduct of individual men (compare 1 Kings 11:38 with 1 Kings 14:10, and still more with 2 Kings 21:10. and 2 Kings 23:27). The sins of one man like Manasseh are sufficient to neutralize all the promises that have been given to the house of David. ” There is no need to refute this erroneous statement, since it only rests upon a misinterpretation of 2 Kings 21:10., and completely misses the idea which runs through both books of the Kings; and, moreover, there is no contradiction between the manifestation of divine mercy towards penitent sinners and the punishment of men according to their deeds.)
Thus the books of the Kings bring down the history of the Old Testament kingdom of God, according to the divine plan of the kingdom indicated in 2 Sam 7, from the close of David's reign to the captivity; and the fact that in 1 Kings 1:1 they are formally attached to the books of Samuel is an indication that they are a continuation of those books. Nevertheless there is no doubt that they formed from the very first a separate work, the independence and internal unity of which are apparent from the uniformity of the treatment of the history as well as from the unity of the language. From beginning to end the author quotes from his original sources, for the most part with certain standing formulas; in all important events he gives the chronology carefully (1 Kings 6:1, 1 Kings 6:37-38; 1 Kings 7:1; 1 Kings 9:10; 1 Kings 11:42; 1 Kings 14:20-21, 1 Kings 14:25; 1 Kings 15:1-2, 1 Kings 15:9-10, etc.); he judges the conduct of the kings throughout according to the standard of the law of Moses (1 Kings 2:3; 1 Kings 3:14; 2 Kings 10:31; 2 Kings 11:12; 2 Kings 14:6; 2 Kings 17:37; 2 Kings 18:6; 2 Kings 21:8; 2 Kings 22:8., 2 Kings 23:3, 2 Kings 23:21, etc.); and he nearly always employs the same expressions when describing the commencement, the character, and the close of each reign, as well as the death and burial of the kings (compare 1 Kings 11:43; 1 Kings 14:20, 1 Kings 14:31; 1 Kings 15:8, 1 Kings 15:24; 1 Kings 22:51; 2 Kings 8:24; 2 Kings 13:9; 2 Kings 14:29; and for the characteristics of the several kings of Judah, 1 Kings 15:3, 1 Kings 15:11; 1 Kings 22:43; 2 Kings 12:3; 2 Kings 14:3; 2 Kings 15:3, etc.; and for those of the kings of Israel, 1 Kings 14:8; 1 Kings 15:26, 1 Kings 15:34; 1 Kings 16:19, 1 Kings 16:26, 1 Kings 16:30; 1 Kings 22:53; 2 Kings 3:2-3; 2 Kings 10:29, 2 Kings 10:31; 2 Kings 13:2, 2 Kings 13:11, etc.). And so, again, the language of the books remains uniform in every part of the work, if we except certain variations occasioned by the differences in the sources employed; since we find throughout isolated expressions and forms of a later date, and words traceable to the Assyrian and Chaldaean epoch, such as כּר for חמר in 1 Kings 5:11; צדנין in 1 Kings 11:33; רצין in 2 Kings 11:13; מדינות in 1 Kings 20:14-15, 1 Kings 20:17, 1 Kings 20:19; קבל in 2 Kings 15:10; החילים שׂרי in 1 Kings 15:20; 2 Kings 25:23, 2 Kings 25:26; טבּחים רב in 2 Kings 25:8; פּחה in 1 Kings 10:15; 1 Kings 20:24; 2 Kings 18:24; and many others, which do not occur in the earlier historical books. - The books of the Kings are essentially distinguished from the books of Samuel through these characteristic peculiarities; but not so much through the quotations which are so prominent in the historical narrative, for these are common to all the historical books of the Old Testament, and are only more conspicuous in these books, especially in the history of the kings of the two kingdoms, because in the case of all the kings, even of those in relation to whom there was nothing to record of any importance to the kingdom of God except the length and general characteristics of their reign, there are notices of the writings which contain further information concerning their reigns. - The unity of authorship is therefore generally admitted, since, as De Wette himself acknowledges, “you cannot anywhere clearly detect the interpolation or combination of different accounts.” The direct and indirect contradictions, however, which Thenius imagines that he has discovered, prove to be utterly fallacious on a closer inspection of the passages cited as proofs, and could only have been obtained through misinterpretations occasioned by erroneous assumptions. (See, on the other hand, my Lehrbuch der Einleitung in das A. T. p. 184ff.)
All that can be determined with certainty in relation to the origin of the books of Kings is, that they were composed in the second half of the Babylonian captivity, and before its close, since they bring the history down to that time, and yet contain no allusion to the deliverance of the people out of Babylon. The author was a prophet living in the Babylonian exile, though not the prophet Jeremiah, as the earlier theologians down to Hävernick have assumed from the notice in the Talmud ( Baba bathra, f. 15, 1): Jeremias scripsit librum suum et librum Regum et Threnos . For even apart from the fact that Jeremiah ended his days in Egypt, he could hardly have survived the last event recorded in our books, namely, the liberation of Jehoiachin from prison, and his exaltation to royal honours by Evil-merodach. For inasmuch as this event occurred sixty-six years after his call to be a prophet, in the thirteenth year of Josiah, he would have been eighty-six years old in the thirty-seventh year after Jehoiachin had been carried away into exile, even if he had commenced his prophetic career when only a young man of twenty years of age. Now, even if he had reached this great age, he would surely not have composed our books at a later period still. Moreover, all that has been adduced in support of this is seen to be inconclusive on closer inspection. The similarity in the linguistic character of our books and that of the writings of Jeremiah, the sombre view of history which is common to the two, the preference apparent in both for phrases taken from the Pentateuch, and the allusions to earlier prophecies-all these peculiarities may be explained, so far as they really exist, partly from the fact that they were written in the same age, since all the writers of the time of the captivity and afterwards cling very closely to the Pentateuch and frequently refer to the law of Moses, and partly also from the circumstance that, whilst Jeremiah was well acquainted with the original sources of our books, viz., the annals of the kingdom of Judah, the author of our books was also well acquainted with the prophecies of Jeremiah. But the relation between 2 Kings 24:18. and Jer is not of such a nature, that these two accounts of the destruction of Jerusalem and the carrying away of the remnant of the people could have emanated from the hand of Jeremiah; on the contrary, a closer inspection clearly shows that they are extracts from a more elaborate description of this catastrophe (see at 2 Kings 24:18.).
As sources from which the author has obtained his accounts, there are mentioned, for the history of Solomon, a שּׁלמה דּברי ספר , or book of the acts (affairs) of Solomon (1 Kings 11:41); for the history of the kings of Judah, יהוּדה למלכי הימים דּברי ספר , book of the daily occurrences of the kings of Judah (1 Kings 14:29; 1 Kings 15:7, 1 Kings 15:23; 1 Kings 22:46; 2 Kings 8:23; 2 Kings 12:20, etc.); and for that of the kings of Israel, ישׂראל למלכי הימים דּברי ספר , book of the daily occurrences of the kings of Israel (1 Kings 14:19; 1 Kings 15:31; 1 Kings 16:5, 1 Kings 16:14, 1 Kings 16:20, 1 Kings 16:27; 1 Kings 22:39; 2 Kings 1:18). These are quoted as writings in which more is written concerning the life, the deeds, and the particular undertakings, buildings and so forth, of the several kings. The two last-named works were evidently general annals of the kingdoms: not, indeed, the national archives of the two kingdoms, or official records made by the מזכּירים of the reigns and acts of the kings, as Jahn, Movers, Stähelin, and others suppose; but annals composed by prophets, and compiled partly from the public year-books of the kingdom or the national archives, and partly from prophetic monographs and collections of prophecies, which reached in the kingdom of Israel down to the time of Pekah (2 Kings 15:31), and in that of Judah to the time of Jehoiakim (2 Kings 24:5). Moreover, they were not written successively by different prophets, who followed one another, and so carried on the work in uninterrupted succession from the rise of the two kingdoms to the death of the two kings mentioned; but they had been worked out into a “ Book of the history of the times of the Kings ” for each of the two kingdoms, a short time before the overthrow of the kingdom of Judah, by collecting together the most important things that had been written both concerning the reigns of the several kings by annalists and other historians who were contemporaneous with the events, and also concerning the labours of the prophets, which were deeply interwoven with the course of public affairs, whether composed by themselves or by their contemporaries. And in this finished form they lay before the author of our work. This view of the annals of the kingdoms of Judah and Israel follows unquestionably from the agreement which exists between our books of the Kings and the second book of the Chronicles, in the accounts common to both, and which can only be explained from the fact that they were drawn from one and the same source. But in the Chronicles there are different writings of individual prophets quoted, beside the day-books of the kings of Judah and Israel; and it is expressly stated in relation to some of them that they were received into the annals of the kings (compare 2 Chronicles 20:34 and 2 Chronicles 32:32, and the Introduction to the books of the Chronicles). Moreover, there are no historical traces of public annalists to be found in the kingdom of the ten tribes, and their existence is by no means probable, on account of the constant change of dynasties. The fact, however, that the frequently recurring formula “to this day” ( 1 Kings 9:13; 1 Kings 10:12; 2 Kings 2:22; 2 Kings 10:27; 2 Kings 14:7; 2 Kings 16:6; 2 Kings 17:23, 2 Kings 17:34, 2 Kings 17:41; 2 Kings 20:17; 2 Kings 21:15) never refers to the time of the captivity, except in the passages enclosed in brackets, but always to the time of the existing kingdom of Judah, and that it cannot therefore have emanated from the author of our books of the Kings, but can only have been taken from the sources employed, is a proof that these annals of the kingdom were composed towards the close of the kingdom of Judah; and this is placed beyond all doubt, by the fact that this formula is also found in many passages of the books of the Chronicles (compare 1 Kings 8:8 with 2 Chronicles 5:9; 1 Kings 9:21 with 2 Chronicles 8:8; 1 Kings 12:19 with 2 Chronicles 10:19; and 2 Kings 8:22 with 2 Chronicles 21:10). - In a similar manner to this must we explain the origin of the שּׁלמה דּברי ספר , since three prophetic writings are quoted in 1 Chronicles 29:29 in connection with Solomon's reign, and their account agrees in all essential points with the account in the books of the Kings. Nevertheless this “history of Solomon” never formed a component part of the annals of the two kingdoms, and was certainly written much earlier. - The assumption that there were other sources still, is not only sustained by no historical evidence, but has no certain support in the character or contents of the writings before us. If the annals quoted were works composed by prophets, the elaborate accounts of the working of the prophets Elijah and Elisha might also have been included in them. - Again, in the constant allusion to these annals we have a sure pledge of the historical fidelity of the accounts that have been taken from them. If in his work the author followed writings which were composed by prophets, and also referred his readers to these writings, which were known and accessible to his contemporaries, for further information, he must have been conscious of the faithful and conscientious employment of them. And this natural conclusion is in harmony with the contents of our books. The life and actions of the kings are judged with unfettered candour and impartiality, according to the standard of the law of God; and there is no more concealment of the idolatry to which the highly renowned Solomon was led astray by his foreign wives, than of that which was right in the eyes of God, when performed by the kings of the ten tribes, which had fallen away from the house of David. Even in the case of the greatest prophet of all, namely Elijah, the weakness of his faith in being afraid of the vain threats of the wicked Jezebel is related just as openly as his courageous resistance, in the strength of the Lord, to Ahab and the prophets of Baal. - Compare my Einleitung in das Alte Test. §56-60, where adverse views are examined and the commentaries are also noticed.
The Book of 1 Kings
I. History Of Solomon's Reign - 1 Kings 1-11.
David had not only established the monarchy upon a firm basis, but had also exalted the Old Testament kingdom of God to such a height of power, that all the kingdoms round about wee obliged to bow before it. This kingdom was transmitted by divine appointment to his son Solomon, in whose reign Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand by the sea-shore, and dwelt in security, every man under his vine and under his fig-tree (1 Kings 4:20; 1 Kings 5:5). The history of this reign commences with the account of the manner in which Solomon had received the kingdom from his father, and had established his own rule by the fulfilment of his last will and by strict righteousness (1 Kings 1 and 2). Then follows in 1 Kings 3-10 the description of the glory of his kingdom, how the Lord, in answer to his prayer at Gibeon, not only gave him an understanding heart to judge his people, but also wisdom, riches, and honour, so that his equal was not to be found among the kings of the earth; and through his wise rule, more especially through the erection of the house of Jehovah and of a splendid royal palace, he developed the glory of the kingdom of God to such an extent that his fame penetrated to remote nations. The conclusion, in 1 Kings 11, consists of the account of Solomon's sin in his old age, viz., his falling into idolatry, whereby he brought about the decay of the kingdom, which manifested itself during the closing years of his reign in the rising up of opponents, and at his death in the falling away of ten tribes from his son Rehoboam. But notwithstanding this speedy decay, the glory of Solomon's kingdom is elaborately depicted on account of the typical significance which it possessed in relation to the kingdom of God. Just as, for example, the successful wars of David with all the enemies of Israel were a prelude to the eventual victory of the kingdom of God over all the kingdoms of this world; so was the peaceful rule of Solomon to shadow forth the glory and blessedness which awaited the people of God, after a period of strife and conflict, under the rule of Shiloh the Prince of peace, whom Jacob saw in spirit, and who would increase government and peace without end upon the throne of David and in his kingdom (Isaiah 9:5-6; Psalms 72:1).