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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical

2 Kings

- 2 Kings

by Johann Peter Lange



1. The chronology of the history contained in the Books of the Kings presents difficulties which have never yet been conquered. There are data in the text which are contradictory. The only means of forming any chronology at all is to sacrifice some of the statements, and the text does not offer sufficient critical grounds upon which to decide which ones are correct. The usual method has been to fill out and reconcile conflicting texts by inventing interregna and joint governments, or to guess arbitrarily which datum was to be sacrificed. It is evident that this is only another way of admitting our inability to solve the problem satisfactorily by the means which we as yet possess. All the schemes which we form must be regarded as tentative. We need to arrive at some hypothetical chronology as a stepping-stone to further investigation, but we must frankly admit, while taking this course, that the knots are neither untied nor cut, but only marked for further study by our arbitrary guesses and our fabricated interregna.
2. Bähr says in his Preface (at the end) that he has “followed a method, in regard to the Chronology, which differs somewhat from the ordinary one.” It consists in adopting certain dates which have been fixed with the greatest certainty, and reckoning from these, by periods, through the intervening reigns (see Pt. II. p. 86 and the translator’s note there). It is evident that this method has no independent value. The chronologers who have undertaken this task have gone minutely over the separate texts, and have managed to bridge over the difficulties by one or another hypothesis. All the uncertainty which inheres in these hypotheses must inhere also in their completed schemes. If there were a consensus in their results, it would not, therefore, produce any certainty; it would merely prove that those who have confined themselves to the biblical data, and have stepped aver the difficulties by various hypotheses, reach conclusions which vary only within certain moderate limits. However, there is, in fact, no consensus among the authorities. It is fallacious, therefore, to regard these dates, which are only an average between the results of various independent scholars, as possessing any certainty. Furthermore, it seems to be labor thrown away to pore over the data for the intervening details of the chronology. The consensus in regard to one date is not greater than that in regard to any other in the whole list. If we borrow one date from the average, why not borrow the whole list in the same way? In fact, in the present state of this subject, there might be much wisdom in so doing. The general scheme about which the authorities seem to cluster is the one at which Bähr arrives. His method only borrows the results of certain independent scholars, and then travels back for a certain distance on the road by which they reached those results. In the following pages I have collected the dates upon which he fixes, and arranged them in a table. This scheme is substantially that of Usher, for, of all who have studied this subject, confining themselves to the biblical data, no one has succeeded in going much beyond what he, the first thorough student of it, established. I have also added to the table a sort of outline of the history, of the synchronisms with the contemporaneous history of other nations, and of the varying religious condition of the two Israelitish kingdoms. The data enclosed in brackets are those which are not mentioned in the text of the Bible.

3. For the final solution of the problems which present themselves we must look to the synchronisms with contemporaneous history. The deciphering of the Egyptian hieroglyphics and of the Assyrian cuneiform inscriptions has furnished us with material which promises to make a solution ultimately possible. This promise is so good that it seems unprofitable to repeat the labor of comparing and reconciling the biblical data, a labor which has already been so often performed and with such meager results. We have above (Pt. II. p. 162) an instance of the amount of light which we may hope for from these sources. If Oppert is right in his interpretation of the data in the Assyrian inscriptions which bear upon the reign of Pekah (and no one but a trained Assyrian scholar is competent to dispute his conclusions), then one of the most perplexing of these chronological problems is solved. It is true that the Assyrian scholars are not in accord as to all their results, and it is also true that many of the best living scholars (the Germans especially) are skeptical in regard to the whole system of interpretation of the cuneiform, and also that the scholars who have thus far prosecuted this subject have not always followed the independent unbiased method which would recommend their results, but, in spite of all this, the progress in this department is undeniable. Every step verifies and confirms what has gone before; the original Assyrian grammatical and lexical works multiply in an enormous ratio the rate of progress; and the results acquire such certainty as compels assent.

4. In the Athenœum of May 18th, 1867, Sir H. Rawlinson announced the discovery that two fragments in the British Museum were parts of the same stone, and that together they furnished a canon for the most important part of Assyrian history. The Assyrians had a system of naming the years after eponymous magistrates, and the canon contains a list of them, by which the chronology may be reckoned with certainty. It also contains mention of an eclipse of the sun which occurred on the 30th of the month Sivan, in the 9th year of king Asshur-edil-ilani II., and which furnishes a definite starting-point, if it can be identified. Rawlinson identifies it with the eclipse of June 15th, 763. Oppert, however, identifies it with the eclipse of the 13th of June. 889. He also says that an eclipse of the sun is several times referred to in the inscriptions of Asshur-nazir-pal as having occurred on the day of that monarch’s accession. This he identifies with an eclipse which took place on July 2d, 930. This eclipse is not mentioned by Rawlinson, but, if Oppert is correct in regard to it, it goes far to support his identification of the other one. The difference of 46 years in regard to the first of these eclipses, marks their respective chronologies down to the date of Tiglath Pileser II. (747 or 745). The gap is closed up in Oppert’s scheme by inserting Pul between the first destruction of Assyria by the Medes and Chaldeans in 789 (an event which Rawlinson does not credit at all, but which Hincks accepted) and the accession of Tiglath Pileser II. Thus their lists compare, at this point, as follows (the names in the two lists refer to the same persons, though they are transcribed differently):—


Sir. H. Rawlinson.

(Lenormant’s Manual).

(Prof. Rawlinson’s Manual).

Asshur-edil-ilani II.


Eclipse 13th June


Asshur-likhish (the Sardanapalus of the Greeks)


Destruction of Nineveh


Pul (a Chaldean)



771 Asshur-danin-il II.


763 15th June, Eclipse


753 Asshur-likh-khush

Tiglath Pileser II.



745 Tiglath Pileser II.

but he reckoned from


Shalmaneser VI.1

727 Shalmaneser IV.*

In favor of Rawlinson is the fact that Pul is not mentioned in any inscription yet found or in the canon, and that Oppert is obliged to assume that the succession of eponymous magistrates was interrupted during his reign, and that, as he was a Chaldean, the account was kept, after the Chaldean fashion, by the years of his reign. In favor of Oppert’s scheme is (a) the fact that it makes a chronology which is in accord with the biblical chronology, while Rawlinson would shorten the period of the Israelitish monarchy (see note 5 on the Chronological Table); (b) the fact that there was certainly a break in the succession at Tiglath Pileser’s accession (Rawlinson says that he was a usurper); (c) the fact that the Era of Nabonassar of Babylon begins at 747, which is in excellent harmony with the hypothesis that, at the death of Pul, Chaldea was unable to maintain dominion over Assyria, but found itself separate and independent, so that a new era was founded. It had not been independent for centuries before this, and it was resubjugated by Sargon in 709. (d) This combination is supported by the words: “Pul, king of Assyria,” 2 Kings 15:19. (e) It is supported by the Greek story of Sardanapalus.—It is evident that we have here a clue which promises ultimately to unravel the intricacies and contradictions of the biblical chronology.

Opposite the reign of Pekah will be found marked that solution of the contradiction in the data concerning his reign which Oppert claims to have obtained from the inscriptions. See above, p. 162 of Part II. of the Comm.

5. The other important series of synchronisms is that with Egyptian history. Here also scholars have given the most diligent labor to the scientific investigation of the evidence which bears on the biblical chronology. A fundamental question here meets us, whether the dynasties of Manetho are all consecutive, or whether some of them were parallel and contemporaneous with others. If reckoned as successive, the period which they cover reaches back to more than 5,000 years before Christ. Very many scholars, appalled at the magnitude of this period, have inferred that the dynasties must, many of them, have been contemporaneous. Lepsius adopts this view, and in his Königsbuch der Alten Aegypter he has reconstructed with admirable skill and diligence the entire list of Manetho’s dynasties. Prof. Rawlinson adopts the same view, avowedly following the English Egyptologers. He carries it further than Lepsius, and, in fact, the weakness of the theory is that it may be carried as far as any one finds necessary in order to reduce the period of Egyptian history to what he considers a reasonable length. It is especially suspicious that the shortening is accomplished by putting many of the most ancient dynasties contemporaneous with one another, that is, the dynasties which fall at the time of which we know least. In Rawlinson’s scheme (Manual, p. 77) six of Manetho’s dynasties are put as contemporaneous in the period from 2100 to 2000. In the more modern period of the history, where we know that there were many rulers in different parts of Egypt at the same time, we find that Manetho only recognized one. The especial importance of this for us, at present, is that the synchronisms fall in such a way as to require a shortening of the period of the Israelitish monarchy. Lepsius carries out the calculation of the Israelitish chronology in consistency with his scheme for that of Egypt, and fixes the chief dates as follows (Königsbuch, ss. 102, 3, and 4): Division of the kingdom, 953; Accession of Athaliah and Jehu, 861; Fall of Samaria, 693; Destruction of Jerusalem, 586.

6. It will be seen from this and from what was said about Rawlinson’s dates for Assyrian history that the chronologers may be divided into two classes or schools, the defenders of the “long period” for the Israelitish monarchy (chiefly those who rely on such a scheme as they are able to form from the biblical data), and the defenders of the “short period” (Assyrian and Egyptian scholars, who rely on the data furnished by the monuments).
7. The “short period” has always been strong from the fact that both the Assyrian and Egyptian chronologies seemed to demand it, but it will be noticed that, whatever date we may assign to the great eclipse, the Assyrian authorities fix the Fall of Samaria certainly in 721, and set aside Lepsius’ date as impossible. All the shortening therefore must come before that date, but the synchronism with Tirhaka is one of the most important in the Egyptian scheme. Therefore the Assyrian and Egyptian chronologies are not in accord in the shortening which they require.
8. Others, however, discard the notion of contemporaneous dynasties, and reckon the dynasties as successive. This is carried out in Lenormant’s Manual, and it brings the synchronisms into accord with the “long period” which he adopts for the Israelitish monarchy, and also with the Assyrian chronology, which he borrows chiefly from Oppert, and which has been described above.—Evidently we may hope that from this quarter also confirmatory evidence will come, and that all will converge to a reliable result. Our task here has been to give a succinct account of the present state of the question.—W. G. S.


of the

Period From The Division Of The Kingdom To The Compilation Of The Book Of Kings

Dates adopted in this Comm.

Kings of Judah.

Age at Accession.

Year of Contemp.

Duration of Reign.

Kings of Israel.

Age at Accession.

Year of Contemp.

Duration of Reign.

Synchronisms, &c.










Jehovah-calf-worship in Israel.










Fifth of Rehoboam. Shishak, king of Egypt, invades Judah. (Sheshonk I., 1st king XXIII. Dyn.)










Hostility between Judah and Israel.




















War between Judah and Israel.




















Tirzah capital of Northern kingdom.










Fifteen of Asa. He defeated Zerah, “the Ethiopian,”2 at Zephathah.










Supremacy of Jehovah-religion in Judah.










Baasha attacks Asa.—Later forms alliance with Benhadad I.,3 king of Syria.










Heathen idolatry in Israel.
















Zimri [omri, Tibni].



7 d’ys

Civil war in Israel for your years.4










923 Omri founded Samaria and made it is capital. War between Israel and Syria.




















Political and religious reforms in Judah. Peace and prosperity.










Ethbaal in Tyre.5 Elijah.










Phœnician idolatry (sensual and materialistic nature-worship) introduces into Israel by Jezebel.










902 and 901. War between Israel and Syria. Success of Israel and alliance with Syria. Benhadad II.6










898. Renewed war between Israel and Syria.7










Revolt of Moab against Israel.







2 Jehoram.8 18 Jahosh.9



Elisha. Slight and temporary reaction against Phœnician worship in Israel.










Judah, Israel, and Edom is alliance against Mesha, king of Moab.10










Moab, Ammon, and the Edomites of Mt. Seir invade Judah, but quarrel and kill each other near Engedi.










Jehoram introduces Phœnician idolatry into Judah; murders his six brothers and others.










Edomites revolt successfully against Judah. The priest-city Libnah revolts.










Arabs and Philistines invade Judah. Siege of Samaria by Benhadad and miraculous deliverance.










Hazael in Syria.




1211 12






Progress of Phœnician idolatry in Judah. Israel at war with Syria (siege of Ramoth).










Revolution in Israel. Massacre of Ahab’s family. Religious reformation. Phœnician idolatry abolished.










Massacre of Ahaziah’s family, and supremacy of Phœnician idolatry in Judah.










Hazael conquers territory of Israel east of the Jordan. Shalmaneser13 takes tribute of Jehu, 883.










Restoration of the line of David and religious reformation. Phœnician idolatry abolished in Judah.










Limited revival of Phœnician idolatry in Israel.










Hazael continues to attack Israel. Time of depression and weakness. Israel overrun by the Syrians.










Phœnician idolatry tolerated in Judah.










Hazael takes Gath and threatens Jerusalem.










Benhadad III. in Syria.










Israel successful against the Syrians—recovery of lost cities.










Phœnician idolatry once more abolished in Judah.










Amaziah made a successful expedition against the Edomites and took Sela (Petra).










War between Israel and Judah. Amaziah prisoner of Joash. Israelites plunder the temple.
















Jeroboam II



41 read 52

Time of strength and prosperity in Israel. Territory from Damascus to the Dead Sea recovered.










Luxury, folly, and vice in Israel. Amos.


Azariah Or Uzziah.


27 (?)






Time of peace and prosperity in Judah. Supremacy of the Jehovah-religion.










[789. First destruction of Nineveh by the Medes and Chaldeans (?)]










Elath taken from the Edomites, Gath and Ashdod from the Philistines; Ammonites and Arabs of Gurbaal tributary.









6 mos










1 mo.











Pul15 takes tribute from Menahem.



















20 read 30





















[747. Era of Nabonassar of Babylon.]










[744. Tiglath Pileser II. in Assyria until 727.] [New rise of the Assyrian power.]










[74:2. Tig. Pil. in Syria; Rezin, Pekah, and Ashariah son of Tabeal, confederated against Ahaz.]










[742. Pekah dethroned. Menahem II.16 set up by Tig. Pil. and tributary to him.]










Assyrio-Chaldean star-worship introduced into Israel and Judah.17










[734. Rezin and Pekah unite and revolt. Pekah regained the throne.]










732. Campaign of Rezin and Pekah against Ahaz of Judah. 732. Damascus taken.










731. Forced migration of Syrians and Israelites.










[730. Tiglath Pileser took Gaza, Ashdod, Dumah in Arabia, and probably went to Jerusalem.18 At the end of the same year he held a court of his vassals at Damascus, at which Pekah and Ahaz were present.19]







20 Jotham.20 12 Ahaz.21



[730. Pekah in alliance with Methon of Tyre revolts against Assyria. On the approach of the Assyrians, Pekah is slain by Hoshea, who submits to pay tribute.]










Phœnician idolatry and Moloch-worship encouraged in Judah. Political and religious degradation in Israel.










Luxury and corruption in Judah. The temple of Jehovah closed.










[Shalmaneser22 in Assyria, 727–722.]










[725. Sabacon I.,23 the first king of the XXVth Ethiopian Dyn. in Egypt.]










Reformation in Judah. Revival of the Jehovah-worship. Passover renewed.


4 oF Hezekiah.




6 of Hoshea.




724. Hoshea, in reliance upon So,24 revolts against Assyria. Shalmaneser besieges Samaria. [722–704. Sargon25 in Assyria.]


6 Of Hezekiah = Fall Of Samaria = 9 Of Hoshea.








[719 or 718. Sargon’s campaign in Phœnicia. Battle of Raphia, in which he defeats the Egyptians.]










[718–14. Siege of Tyre by Sargon for five years without success.]










[715 (about). New revolt of Samaria, Damascus, and Hamath subdued by Sargon.]










[710 (about). Sargon’s campaign against Ashdod.26] [710–704. Sargon occupied in building at Dur-Sharyukin.27]










[709. Sargon defeats Merodach Baladan at Dur Yakin28 and reduces Chaldea to subjection.]










[704–681. Sennacherib in Assyria.]










[701. Sennacherib in Phœnicia.29] [Wins battle of Eltekon30 against the Egyptians (Sabacon II.).]










700. Sennacherib in Judah.31 Judah tributary to Assyria. Sennacherib’s army destroyed.










[699. Babylon in revolt against Assyria under Merodach Baladan.] Merodach Baladan sends messengers to seek an alliance with Hezekiah.32










[697–682. Sennacherib in constant war with Babylon, which revolts again and again.]










Supremacy of the heathen religions in Judah. Persecution of Jehovah-worshippers.










[681–667. Esarhaddon in Assyria.]










c. 680. Manasseh captive in Babylon.33 [Manasseh tributary.]










[c. 675. Esarhaddon conquers Egypt.]










[667–647. Asshurbanipal in Assyria.34]










[657. Phraortes establishes Median Empire.]










[647–625. Asshuredililani III. in Assyria.]33










[Between 650 and 640 Psammetichus becomes independent king of Egypt.]33










[Cyaxares in Media.]










Revival of Jehovah-worship.










[625–606. Saracus in Assyria.] [Nabopolassar in Babylon until 604.]35










[625. First attack of Medes and Babylonians on Nineveh. Scythian invasion.]










622. Repair of the Temple. Discovery of the Book of the Law. Great Reformation. Passover celebrated.














3 mos






610. Battle of Megiddo. Josiah slain. 609. Jehoahaz taken captive to Egypt.


Eliakim or Jehoiakim.








Judah tributary to Egypt. Heathenism in the ascendant.










[607. Nebuchadnezzar associated with his father as king of Babylon.]34










[606. Nineveh taken by the Medes and Babylonians.]34










605. Battle of Carchemish. Nebuchadnezzar defeats Necho.










[604. Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon until 561.]










602. Nebuchadnezzar invades Judah.




3 mos






599. Nebuchadnezzar again in Judah. Beginning of the Captivity.


Mattaniah or Zedekiah.








595. Confederated plan of revolt with Phœnicia, Ammon, and Moab.34










594. Zedekiah’s visit to Babylon.36










Hophra (Uahprahet) in Egypt.










590. Revolt of Judah. Babylonians besiege Jerusalem.


Destruction of Jerusalem








587. Gedaliah killed by Ishmael.










[561. Evil Merodach in Babylon.] Jehioachin released from prison.

c. 550

Compilation of the “Book of the Kings.”











[1]The same person, but different mode of counting.

[2]This king, who was formerly identified with Uaserken I. (the Osorkon of the Greeks), who was king of Egypt, is now known to be Azerch-Amen, an Ethiopian conqueror, who overran Egypt during the reign of Uaserken, and was not arrested until he was on the point of entering Palestine. See Lenormant, B. II. chap. 4 sec. 2, note; and B. IV. chap. 4 sec. 2.

[3]See Exeg. notes on 1 Kings 11:23; 1 Kings 15:18.

[4]The date given for Omri’s accession (925) is the “31st of Asa,” but, as Ahab followed in the “38th of Asa,” Omri’s 12 years’ reign must be reckoned from 929, when he was first called to the throne. This would give four years for his contest with Tibni for the crown.

[5]See Exeg. on 1 Kings 16:31. He put an end to a period of anarchy and founded a dynasty 937 B.C. Asshurnazirpal says, on an obelisk now in the Brit. Mus., that he took tribute of Tyre, Sidon, etc., in 916. (Lenormant, B. VI. chap. 3 sec. 2, 6.

[6]Shalmaneser IV. (II. R.) mentions, on a stele found near the source of the Tigris and now in the Brit. Mus., Benhadad and “10,000 of the men of Ahab of Israel” among the forces whom he defeated at Karkar in 900, the year after this alliance was formed. (Lenormant, B. II. chap. iv. sec. 3; and B. IV. chap. 2 sec. 4.) Rawlinson, in the Manual, says that Shalmaneser II. was contemporary with Ahab, but gives as the date of Shalmaneser’s reign 858–823 (see p. 42), and for Ahab’s reign 918–897 (p. 66). In the “Five Great Monarchies” (1 ed.) Vol. II. p. 362 note, this notice is quoted as “Ainab of Samhala,” not yet having been distinctly recognized. Sir H. Rawlinson, after the discovery of the Canon, fixed the data of this battle as 853. See the Appendix on the Chron. § 4.

[7]We should infer from 1 Kings 22:3, that Ramoth had not been given up to the Israelites, as, perhaps, was stipulated in the treaty of alliance three years before.

1 Kings 1:17; 1 Kings 1:17.

2 Kings 3:1; 2 Kings 3:1.

[10]This is probably the Mesha of the Moabite stone. See the Comm., Part II. p. 31.

2 Kings 8:25; 2 Kings 8:25.

2 Kings 9:29; 2 Kings 9:29.

[13]This Shalmaneser (IVth, according to Lenormant; IId, according to Rawlinson) is the same mentioned above in note 5. He reigned from 905 to 870 (Len.). Among his campaigns and exploits mentioned on the “black obelisk” (Brit. Mus.), the same mentioned in note 5, we find it stated that, in 883, he received tribute of “Jehu, son of Omri” (the change of dynasty not being known or not being remembered), and, on the same obelisk, Jehu is represented, in one of the basreliefs, as prostrating himself before Shalmaneser. He probably entered into tributary relations to Shalm. in order to get protection against Hazael. (Lenormant I., 166, 381. Rawlinson, Five Gt. Mon. [2d ed.] II., 105 and 106.) This is the distress which fell upon Jehu and kept him from that energetic development of Israel which we should have expected of him. See Pt. II. pp. 114 and 115.

[14]Rawlinson (Manual, p. 67) gives for Menahem’s reign 772–762. On p. 44 he says that Tiglath Pileser II. took tribute of Menahem in 743. It is another case of the inconsistency mentioned above in note 5. See also the foot-note p. 161 of Part II. It is agreed that Tig. Pil. II. is stated in the insciptions to have taken tribute of Menahem of Israel. Oppert, by combining this with the other data, arrives at the construction mentioned on p. 162, and which is placed in the column of remarks opposite the reign of Pekah.

[15]Pul is called, in 2 Kings 15:19, “king of Assyria,” but he is not mentioned in the inscriptions or the Canon. See in regard to him, p. 162 of Part II.

[16]See note 15.

[17]See Exeg. on 2 Kings 16:3; 2 Kings 17:16; 2 Kings 23:12.

[18]Cf. 2 Chronicles 28:20.

[19]Cf. 2 Kings 16:10.

2 Kings 15:30; 2 Kings 15:30.

2 Kings 17:1; 2 Kings 17:1.

[22]See the Supplementary Note, p. 189.

[23]See p. 189.

[24]See Exeg. on 2 Kings 17:4, and p. 189.

[25]See p. 189. The Assyrian form of the name is Sharyukin.

[26]Cf. Isaiah 20:1.

[27]I.e. Castle of Sharyukin or Sargon. It is the modern Khorsabad.

[28]See Supp. Note on Chap. 20.

[29]See p. 220.

[30]See p. 220.

[31]See p. 220.

[32]This date is in dispute. We are told that Hezekiah reigned 29 years (2 Kings 18:2), that Sennacherib’s invasion fell in his 14th year (2 Kings 18:13), and that he lived 15 years afterwards (2 Kings 20:6). These data are consistent with each other, but the second would make Sennacherib’s invasion fall in 713. This is irreconcilable with Assyrian data, which seem to be beyond question. All the explanations or conjectures offered sacrifice the statements of the biblical text. They cannot be regarded as solutions of the difficulty. It should be noticed, therefore, that the dates given to this and other events connected with it are not those which the biblical text would give. See Supp. Note after Exeg. on Chap. 20.

[33]Cf. 2 Chronicles 33:11. Supp. Note on Chap. 21.

[34]See Supp. Note on Chap. 21. Rawlinson (Five Great Mon. II. 52) gives Asshur-banipal’s reign 668–626, and that of his son, whom he calls Asshur-emid-ilin, 626–625.

[35]I give here the dates of Lenormant. On the question at issue and the conflicting authorities, see p. 284 sq.

Jeremiah 51:59; Jeremiah 51:59.