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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the BibleSpurgeon's Verse Expositions

Book Overview - 2 Kings

by Arend Remmers

1. Author and Time of Writing

The two books of Kings originally formed one book only in the Hebrew Bible. The translators of the Septuagint introduced the separation into two books and this separation was made also in the Vulgate. In the Hebrew manuscripts of the OT the division into two books first appeared in the 15th century. It was first used in a Hebrew print of the Bible by Daniel Bomberg. The two books of Kings are called the 3rd and 4th book of Kings in the Septuagint as well as the Vulgate.

The author of the two books is not mentioned. According to Jewish tradition in the Talmud the author was the prophet Jeremiah. It is remarkable to see the text of 2 Kings 24:18-20 nearly repeated word by word in Jeremiah 52.

Strikingly Jeremiah's name does not appear in the descriptions of the lives of king Jehoiakim and Zedekiah, whereas Isaiah and other prophets who lived before this time are mentioned.

In various places reference is made to books, which contain more about the life of the king in question on which the writer may have based his accounts on. Reference is made for example to the book of the Acts of Solomon (1 Kings 11:41), then several times to the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel (1 Kings 14:19; 2 Kings 15:31) and to the book of the chronicles of the Kings of Judah (1 Kings 14:29; 2 Kings 24:5). Besides that the record of the life of Hezekiah or Isaiah 36; Isaiah 37; Isaiah 38; Isaiah 39 is to a large extent rendered in 2 Kings 18; 2 Kings 19; 2 Kings 20. The author of the books of Kings was able to use these "references" under the guidance of the Holy Spirit while writing his godly inspired work.

The events recorded in the two books of Kings embrace the time of the last days of David (around 970 BC) down to the 37th year of Jehoiachin's captivity in Babel (around 561 BC). This period covers around 400 years. The composition of the books of Kings therefore can at the earliest have been written or concluded during the Babylonian captivity.

2. Purpose of Writing

The two books of Kings form the chronological sequence of the history of the people of Israel in Canaan in the sequence Joshua, Judges, First and Second Samuel. The description of the kingdoms in Israel (which was started in the books of Samuel) is carried on to the Babylonian captivity. The books of Kings tell us more about the ten tribes (Israel) while the second book of Chronicles tells us more about the history of the two tribes (Judah).

After David's death Solomon (hebr. "peace") is the new king in Israel. He is a type of Christ, who is the true king of peace. Together David and Solomon portray Christ in His rejection and in the following glorious reign of peace. After the death of Solomon the kingdom of Israel is divided into two parts. In the north of Palestine arises the ten-tribe-kingdom (Israel) under Jeroboam and in the southern part remain the two tribes Judah and Benjamin with the capital Jerusalem (Judah) under the reign of Rehoboam, son of Solomon.

The history of the 19 kings each over Israel and Judah (without queen Athalja) is the report of the second decline of the people of God. After Israel's salvation out of Egypt and its introduction into Canaan under Moses, Aaron and Joshua, the people declined the more and more from God despite of priesthood and the office of judges. By introducing the kingdom under David God made a new beginning with His people but after a short time the decline started again. The first period ended with the people's rejection of Jehovah (1 Samuel 8:7) and in the second period Israel had to be rejected of God (2 Chronicles 36:16).

God repeatedly sent prophets to the people who tried to bring them back to the Lord. Amongst the prophets Elijah, Elisha and Isaiah ought to be mentioned especially. Elijah was the prophet of judgment and eight miracles are reported of him. Elisha was the prophet of grace and 16 miracles are reported. Isaiah was the prophet of the Messiah. The expression "man of God" appears over 50 times in the books of Kings. This is why the two books bear especially a prophetic character while the books of Chronicles have a priestly character.

God's judgment on all 19 kings of the northern ten - tribe - kingdom was "he did evil in the sight of the Lord". Amongst the kings of Judah a few were faithful to Jehovah, especially Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah and Josiah. The revivals among the people of God led by these kings may be compared to the revivals in Christendom (e.g. reformation in the 18th/19th century).

3. Peculiarities

a) Stone of Moabites (2 Kings 3)

In 1868 the German missionary Klein found a stone in Dibon (a town in Moab, East-Jordan land) with the inscription of Mesa, king of Moabites (compare 2 Kings 3). On this stone Mesa recorded in ancient Hebrew letters his disputes with King Jehoram of Israel. This stone dating to the time 840 BC is probably the most ancient extra biblical written testimony for the absolute correctitude of the Old Testament accounts on historical facts. (This stone can now be seen in the Louvre, Paris.)

b) The Kings of Israel and Judah after the Division of the Kingdoms

Kings of Israel Time of Reign BC Kings of Judah Time of Reign BC Other Kingdoms
Jeroboam I. 931-910 Rehoboam 931-913 Shishak (Egypt),around 924
Nadab 910-909 Abijam or Abijah 913-911
Baasha 909-886 Asa 911-870 Benhadad I. (Syria),around 900
Elah 886-885
Zimri 885
Omri 885-874
Ahab 874-853 Jehoshaphat* 872-848
Ahaziah 853-852 Shalmaneser III. (Assyria) 859-824
Jehoram 852-841 Jehoram 848-841
Jehu 841-814 Ahaziah 841
Athaliah 841-835
Jehoahaz 814-798 Joash or Jehoash 835-796
Jehoash or Joash 798-782 Amaziah 796-767 Benhadad II. (Syria)796-770
Jeroboam II.* 793-753 Azariah* or Uzziah 791-740
Zachariah 753-752
Shallum 752
Menahem 752-742 Jotham* 750-732 (751-735) Tiglath-Pileser III. (Assyria)745-727
Pekahiah 742-740
Pekah* 740-732 (752-732) Ahaz 735-716 (742-726) Shalmaneser V. (Assyria) 727-722
Hoshea 732-722 Hezekiah 716-687 (728-697) Sargon II. (Assyria) 722-705
Israel carried into Assyrian captivity 722/721 Manasseh* 697-642 Sennacherib (Assyria) 704-681
Amon 642-640 Esarhaddon (Assyria) 680-669
Josiah 640-609
Jehoahaz 609 Nebuchadnezzar (Babylon)605-562
Jehoiakim 609-598 First Captivity to Babylon 605
Jehoiachin 598-597 Second Captivity to Babylon 597
Zedekiah 597-586 Third Captivity to Babylon 586
Jerusalem taken and destroyed 586

* =Co-regent with predecessor or successor

( ) = The years in brackets give alternative calculations.

c) Origin of the Samaritans (2 Kings 17)

After bringing the ten tribes of Israel into Assyrian captivity in the year 722 BC the King of Assyria brought foreign people into Israel and let them live in the towns of Samaria (2 Kings 17:24 f). They apparently mixed with the remaining Israelites and remained faithful to their idol worship. By order of the Assyrian king one of the captured priests of Israel was brought back to point the heathen resettler to Jehovah.

But they would not give up their own idols but retained the character of a mixed people ('mixed multitude', Exodus 12:38). Later the Samaritans built an own sanctuary on Mount Gerizim and took over the Pentateuch as binding Holy Scripture.

After the Babylonian Captivity the Samaritans would have liked to help rebuilding the temple but the Jews refused their help (Ezra 4:2-3). The refusal and enmity between Jews and Samaritans is also apparent in the gospels of the NT.

Until the very day about 400 "Samaritans" remain living around Nablus (actual Arabic name for the old Shechem).

4. Overview of Contents

2 Kings 1-17

Chapter 1 Elijah and Ahaziah
Chapter 2 Elijah's Rapture
Chapter 3 Jehoram's War against Moab
Chapter 4 Four Miracles of Elisha
Chapter 5 Elisha heals Naaman's Leprosy
Chapter 6-7 The Syrians' War against Israel
Chapter 8 Elisha and Hazael
Chapter 9-10 Jehu's Reign
Chapter 11 Athaliah's Reign in Judah
Chapter 12 Joash' Reign in Judah
Chapter 13 Reign of Jehoahaz and Jehoash (Joash) in Israel
Chapter 14 Amaziah's Reign in Judah and Reign of Jeroboam II. in Israel
Chapter 15 Azariah's (Uzziah's) and Jotham's Reign in Judah Reign of Zachariah, Shallum, Menahem, Pekahiah and Pekah in Israel
Chapter 16 Ahaz' Reign in Judah
Chapter 17 Hoshea's Reign and End of Kingdom of Israel

III. 2 Kings 18-25 : The Kingdom of Judah until Babylonian Exile

Chapter 18-19 Hezekiah's Reign and Siege by the Assyrians
Chapter 20 Hezekiah's Illness and Death
Chapter 21 Manasseh's and Amon's Reign
Chapter 22 Josiah's Reign and Discovery of the Law in the Temple
Chapter 23 Joshia cleans the Land of Idolatry
Chapter 24 The last Kings of Judah are subdued by Babylon
Chapter 25 Jerusalem taken and destroyed

The Divided Kingdom (Israel and Judah)

(The names of places on this map are given in the German spelling -

however, most of those should be recognisable..., perhaps except for:

Totes Meer = Dead Sea, and Mittelmeer = Mediterranian).

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