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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
2 Kings

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4
Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8
Chapter 9 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13
Chapter 14 Chapter 15 Chapter 16 Chapter 17
Chapter 18 Chapter 19 Chapter 20 Chapter 21
Chapter 22 Chapter 23 Chapter 24 Chapter 25

Book Overview - 2 Kings

by Gary H. Everett

THE BOOK OF 2KINGS

The ancient Jews viewed the four books of Joshua ,, Judges , Samuel and Kings as a collective group of historical books called the "Former Prophets." They record the history of Israel from the time of the Conquest until the Babylonian Captivity. It is generally agreed that the final compiling and editing of the Old Testament took place during the time of Ezra the scribe, soon after the Jews returned from Babylonian Captivity. A. A. Anderson suggests that the subsequent division of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles into two books each probably took place during the period when the Alexandrian Jews translated the Hebrew Bible into Greek, which took place several centuries before Christ, noting that the LXX collected Samuel and Kings into one unit under the common title Kingdoms or Reigns, which was divided into four books. (T. R. Hobbs suggests these divisions are "somewhat arbitrary," being based upon the amount of text that cound fit upon the standard size of an ancient scroll. 46]) However, Anderson notes that the Samuel scroll of Qumran, which is among the Dead Sea scrolls, suggests that the book of Samuel formed a single unit in these sacred Hebrew texts in Palestine. 47] Anderson believes the Masoretic text testifies to a period prior to the two-division of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles with its Masoretic note at 1 Samuel 28:24 notes the half way point of 1-2Samuel. 48] Ralph Klein says the Hebrew bible first introduced these divisions "with the First Rabbinic Bible of 1517." 49] These divisions later became standard in the Hebrew bible as well as the English bible.

46] T. R. Hobbs, 2 Kings , in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD- Romans , vol 13, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word Inc, 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), xix.

47] A. A. Anderson, 2 Samuel , in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD- Romans , vol 11 , eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word Inc, 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), xxv.

48] Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, eds. A. Alt, O. Eifelt, P. Kahle, and R. Kittle (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelstiftung, c 1967-77), 1 Samuel 28:24.

49] Ralph Klein says, "This division between 1,2Samuel was introduced into the Hebrew Bible with the First Rabbinic Bible of 1517. Subsequent to its use in the Second Rabbinic Bible of 1524/1525 the division into two books has become standard." See Ralph W. Klein, 1 Samuel , in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD- Romans , vol 10, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word Inc, 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), xxv.

Perhaps under the influence of the LXX, which serves as the earliest witness, the early Church appears to have adopted the two-fold divisions of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles. Although the books of 1,2Samuel are properly one book, as are 1and 2Kings, 1,2Chronicles, the English Bible follows these two-fold divisions from the Vulgate, which followed the LXX. We can refer to the early Church fathers to see how this came about. Eusebius (A.D 260 to 340) gives us the testimony of Melito (A.D. d. c 190), bishop of the parish in Sardis, who said that when he went to land of Palestine he found that the four books of Samuel and Kings were called 1, 2, 3, and 4Kings and that Chronicles was divided into two books.

"Accordingly when I went East and came to the place where these things were preached and done, I learned accurately the books of the Old Testament, and send them to thee as written below. Their names are as follows: Of Moses, five books: Genesis ,, Exodus ,, Numbers ,, Leviticus , Deuteronomy; Jesus Nave, Judges , Ruth; of Kings, four books; of Chronicles, two; the Psalm of David, the Proverbs of Song of Solomon , Wisdom also, Ecclesiastes ,, Song of Solomon , Job; of Prophets, Isaiah , Jeremiah; of the twelve prophets, one book; Daniel ,, Ezekiel , Esdras. From which also I have made the extracts, dividing them into six books." Such are the words of Melito." (Ecclesiastical History 42614) 50]

50] Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, trans. Arthur C. McGiffert under the title The Church History of Eusebius, in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, A New Series, vol 1, eds. Henry Wace and Philip Schaff (Oxford: Parker and Company, c 1890, 1905), 206.

Eusebius also records the testimony of Origen (A.D 185 to 254), who tells us that 1,2Samuel was handed down by the Jews as one book entitled "Samuel," that 1,2Kings was one book entitled "The Kingdom of David," and that 1,2Chronicles was one book entitle "Records of Days."

"When expounding the first Psalm , he gives a catalogue of the sacred Scriptures of the Old Testament as follows: "It should be stated that the canonical books, as the Hebrews have handed them down, are twenty-two; corresponding with the number of their letters." Farther on he says: "The twenty-two books of the Hebrews are the following: That which is called by us Genesis , but by the Hebrews , from the beginning of the book, Bresith, which means, "In the beginning"; Exodus , Welesmoth, that Isaiah , "These are the names"; Leviticus , Wikra, "And he called"; Numbers , Ammesphekodeim; Deuteronomy , Eleaddebareim, "These are the words"; Jesus, the son of Nave, Josoue ben Noun; Judges and Ruth , among them in one book, Saphateim; the First and Second of Kings, among them one, Samouel, that Isaiah , "The called of God"; the Third and Fourth of Kings in one, Wammelch David, that Isaiah , "The kingdom of David"; of the Chronicles, the First and Second in one, Dabreiamein, that Isaiah , "Records of days"; Esdras, First and Second in one, Ezra , that Isaiah , "An assistant"; the book of Psalm , Spharthelleim; the Proverbs of Song of Solomon , Me-loth; Ecclesiastes , Koelth; the Song of Songs (not, as some suppose, Songs of Songs), Sir Hassirim; Isaiah , Jessia; Jeremiah , with Lamentations and the epistle in one, Jeremia; Daniel , Daniel; Ezekiel , Jezekiel; Job , Job; Esther , Esther. And besides these there are the Maccabees, which are entitled Sarbeth Sabanaiel. He gives these in the above-mentioned work." (Ecclesiastical History ) 51]

51] Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, trans. Arthur C. McGiffert under the title The Church History of Eusebius, in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, A New Series, vol 1, eds. Henry Wace and Philip Schaff (Oxford: Parker and Company, c 1890, 1905), 272.

Athanasius (A.D 296 to 373), bishop of Alexandria, also tells us that the Jews handed down their canon with 1,2Samuel being reckoned as one book, 1,2Kings as one book and 1,2Chronicles as one.

"There are, then, of the Old Testament, twenty-two books in number; for, as I have heard, it is handed down that this is the number of the letters among the Hebrews; their respective order and names being as follows. The first is Genesis , then Exodus , next Leviticus , after that Numbers , and then Deuteronomy. Following these there is Joshua , the son of Nun, then Judges , then Ruth. And again, after these four books of Kings, the first and second being reckoned as one book, and so likewise the third and fourth as one book. And again, the first and second of the Chronicles are reckoned as one book. Again Ezra , the first and second are similarly one book. After these there is the book of Psalm , then the Proverbs , next Ecclesiastes , and the Song of Songs. Job follows, then the Prophets, the twelve being reckoned as one book. Then Isaiah , one book, then Jeremiah with Baruch ,, Lamentations , and the epistle, one book; afterwards, Ezekiel and Daniel , each one book. Thus far constitutes the Old Testament." (Easter Letter No 39 for A.D 367, 4) 52]

52] Athanasius, Festal Letters, trans. Archibald Robertson, in Select Writings and Letters of Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, A New Series, vol 4, eds. Henry Wace and Philip Schaff (Oxford: Parker and Company, c 1891), 552.

Jerome (A.D 342-420) divided Samuel and Kings into four books entitled "1, 2, 3,4Kings" in the Latin Vulgate. 53]

53] Henry B. Swete, An Introduction to Old Testament in Greek (Cambridge: University Press, 1902), 214.

Thus, it appears that sometime between the writing of the LXX and the early Church, the books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles were divided. For study purposes these historical books 1, 2 Samuel , 1, 2 Kings , 1, 2Chronicles will be treated without these divisions.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, October 14th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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