Lange Commentary - 1 Kings

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Lange Commentary - 1 Kings

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Verse Commentaries:






Ministerial Counsellor At Carlsruhe.

Translated, Enlarged, And Edited,




Rector Of Trinity Church, New Haven, Conn.



W. G. SUMNER, B. A.,

Rector Of The Church Of The Redeemer, Morristown, N. J.



The Commentary on the Books of the Kings, published in 1868, was prepared by the Rev. Dr. Bähr, of Carlsruhe, who has been long favorably known as the learned author of the Symbolism of Mosaic Worship (Symbolik des Mosaischen Cultus, Heidelberg, 1837–39, 2 vols., now undergoing a thorough revision), a Commentary on Colossians, a treatise on the Temple of Solomon (1848), and other works.

The translation from the German, with additions, was executed by the Rev. Dr. Harwood, of New Haven, Conn., who assumed the First Book, and by the Rev. W. G. Sumner, of Morristown, N. J., who is responsible for the last chapter of the First and the whole of the Second Book. The textual revision and original grammatical notes on the First Book must be credited to the Rev. Dr. Frederic Gardiner, Professor in the Berkeley Divinity School, Middletown, Connecticut.

In regard to the principles by which he has been governed in his work, Dr. Bähr says, in his preface:—

“In accordance with the wisely-chosen aim and plan of the Bible-Work of which this volume forms a part, I have taken especial pains to maintain a strict discrimination between the three sections into which the expository matter is divided. In the first section, the Exegetical and Critical, I have collected all which seemed essential to the explanation of the original text, and to the determination, both of the sense of the words and of their grammatical connection.… As a matter of course, both the other sections are based on the Exegetical. Nothing can properly be made the subject of theological discussion or homiletical treatment which does not rest on a firm exegetical foundation. I have, therefore, omitted from the Homiletical section all which, however edifying it might be, in itself considered, had no foundation in the text when this was correctly understood. I have taken the liberty of giving to the second division of the exposition [Doctrinal and Ethical], a wider, though more exact, title than that which it bears in the other volumes of the Bible-Work. The specific, and, in fact, exclusive contents of the historical books is history, not doctrine or dogma; and this history is, moreover, soteriological, that is, it is the history of the redemptive plan of God; the history of the divine revelation, purpose, and providence; the history of the kingdom of God.”

Hence Dr. Bähr gives to this section the title: Heilsgeschichtliche und Ethische Grundgedanken, i.e.: Chief Points (in the section of text last preceding) which bear upon the Development of God’s Plan of Salvation, or have Ethical Importance. In consequence of the impossibility of embodying this idea completely in a concise and convenient English title, the translators, while fully appreciating and coinciding in the author’s intention, have retained the title which is used for the corresponding section of the other volumes, only substituting Historical for Doctrinal.

In regard to the Chronology, Dr. Bähr continues:—

“I have adopted a somewhat different method from any yet followed in the treatment of this subject. I start from certain dates which are generally accepted, and which may be fixed with the greatest certainty, and then, by grouping the biblical data into periods which are comprised between these fixed dates, I seek to solve this difficult problem (See Pt. II. pp. 86, 180, 283).”

Mr. Sumner has added a brief Appendix on this subject, together with a Chronological Table of the period covered by the Books of the Kings. In Part II. pp. 161, 174, 189, 220, 237, 284 will be found a series of notes on contemporaneous history, so far as it illustrates the references in the text. These notes are based on the results of the latest Assyrian and Egyptian researches.


New York, Bible House, April, 1872.




§ 1.

Name, Date Of Composition, And Author

The name îìáéí , which belongs to our books in the Canon of the Old Testament, designates (if not imposed by the author himself), briefly and appropriately, the distinguishing contents of this historical work, in contrast with other writings belonging to the same class, the ðáéàéí øàùåðéí , i.e., prophetœ priores. It contains, not so much the history of the theocracy in general, whereto “the succession of the kings serves only as the visible thread” (Hävernick), as the history of the Israelitish monarchy from its ripest bloom on to its destruction, in so far as this history constitutes generally an independent portion of the history of the people Israel. The division of our work into two books is not original—it occurs first in the Septuagint. There it is regarded as an immediate continuation of the book ùîåàì (Samuel), which precedes it in the Canon, and is itself divided into two books, and these four are then designated as Books of the Kings ( âáóéëåßùí á . â . ã . ä .), (comp. Origen in Eusebius, Hist. Eccles. vi. 25). This is retained in the Vulgate (comp. Hieron. prolog. galeat.), and came thence, through the printer Dan. Bomberg, in Venice, in the beginning of the sixteenth century, into the editions of the Hebrew Bible. This entire division and designation is just as arbitrary as it is defective. How unfit it is, is shown especially in our own work, the first book of which does not conclude with a paragraph founded in the history itself, but breaks off with a brief account of the reign of king Ahaziah.

The date of its composition is furnished from the conclusion of the work itself, where it is stated that king Jehoiachin was carried away to Babylon in the year 599 bc., and was held there a prisoner for thirty-seven years—to the year 562—and obtained his freedom from Evil-merodach, the successor of Nebuchadnezzar (2Ki_25:27-30). The composition, consequently, cannot be set down before the year 562. But it does not admit of supposition that it took place after the return from the Babylonish exile in the year 536; for the author concludes with the deliverance of Jehoiachin as a joyful, hopeful event, and does not utter a syllable about the still more important and joyous matter—the return of the whole people—which is first mentioned in Ezra 1. The composition, therefore, is to be assigned to the period between 562 and 536, i.e., during the second half of the exile. But we cannot determine whether it was during the brief reign (two years) of Evil-merodach, or after Jehoiachin’s death.

In the Bible itself there is no intimation about the person of the author. The Jewish tradition names Jeremiah. The Talmud says (Baba bathra, f. xv. 1): Jeremias scripsit librum suum et librum regum et threnos. Some of the older theologians, and Hävernick also, have agreed with this statement; but it is refuted alone from the duration of Jeremiah’s life. He began his career as prophet (Jer_1:2) in the thirteenth year of the reign of king Josiah, and must have been then at least from twenty to twenty-two years old; but since now our books could not have been written before the year 562, he must have composed them when he was at least from eighty-six to eighty-eight years old, which appears all the more incredible since the composition presupposes the employing and the arranging of different older written sources. To this must be added that Jeremiah, after the destruction of Jerusalem, went to Egypt (Jer_43:6), and there spent the last years of his life in continuous, grievous conflicts. It cannot, however, be denied, that in the places especially where the author does not report directly from written sources of information, but inserts his own remarks, as in 2 Kings 17 sq., his mode of thinking and of expression resembles that of Jeremiah, from which, however, nothing more can be concluded than that the author had been entrusted with the writings of this prophet—was, perhaps, his scholar. Bleek suggests, indeed, Baruch, who apparently had charge of collecting and editing the book of Jeremiah, and added to it the 52d chapter, which is consonant with 2 Kings 25. But in that case, since Baruch went to Egypt with Jeremiah (see on the place), we must suppose that our history was composed there, which is, in the highest degree, improbable. It can scarcely be doubted, rather, that the author wrote in Babylon. If this be not, with some, susceptible of proof, owing to 1Ki_5:4, where Palestine is described as lying on the other side of the Euphrates, it is, nevertheless, so much the more certain that the author did not write his work for the little band which fled to Egypt, and was there fallen into idolatry and discord, but for the kernel of the whole people then in exile (see below, § 5). While Jeremiah announces the ruin of his corrupted fellow-countrymen in Egypt (Jer_44:11 sq.), our author concludes with the deliverance of Jehoiachin promising a better day, and gives, at the same time, details which could have been known only to a contemporary living in the exile; but not then to one who was in distant Egypt. There is an absence of all reference to Egyptian situations and relations, which assuredly would not have been the case had the author and his readers lived in Egypt. After all, we must give up the attempt to designate any particular person as the author. He must have stood high in reputation, anyhow, as is conclusive from the reception of his work into the Canon.

[The prevailing opinion amongst the English seems to be, after Calmet, in favor of Ezra. See Bp. Patrick, Home, &c. I except Prideaux.—E. H.]



The author himself states the sources of his historical work, extending over a period of 453 years, viz.:

1) ñֵôֶø ãִּáְøִé ùְׁìֹîֹä 1Ki_11:41.

2) ñֵôֶø ãִּáְøֵé äַéָּîִéí ìְîַìְáֵé éְäåּãָä 1Ki_14:29; 1Ki_15:7; 1Ki_15:22; 1Ki_22:46; 2Ki_8:23; 2Ki_12:20; 2Ki_14:18; 2Ki_15:6; 2Ki_15:15; 2Ki_15:36; 2Ki_16:19; 2Ki_20:20; 2Ki_21:17; 2Ki_21:25; 2Ki_23:28; 2Ki_24:5.

3) ñֵôֶø ãִּáְøֵé äַéָּîִéí ìְîַìְáֵé åִùְׂøָàֵí 1Ki_14:19; 1Ki_15:31; 1Ki_16:5; 1Ki_16:14; 1Ki_16:20; 1Ki_16:27; 1Ki_22:39; 2Ki_1:18; 2Ki_10:34; 2Ki_13:8; 2Ki_13:12; 2Ki_14:28; 2Ki_15:11; 2Ki_15:15; 2Ki_15:21; 2Ki_15:26; 2Ki_15:31.

Besides these three documentary sources, none else is cited in our books. And since the author refers only to the first, and not to the second or third, for the history of Solomon, and for the history of the kings of Judah only to the second, and for the history of the kings of Israel only to the third, it follows that each one of them was an independent, separate work. The reference is always made with the formula: “The rest of the acts of the king … and what he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah (of Israel)?” Thence it follows still farther, that the three documents contained more than the author has incorporated into his work, and were more complete; and that not only were they in existence at the time our books were composed, but they were in the hands, if not of all, of many, nevertheless, and were circulated generally. For if they were only submitted to his inspection, he could not have appealed to them and referred his readers to them. In many respects it is well to bear this in mind.

We obtain now a completer explanation of these documents themselves, through comparison with the citations in the Chronicles, which refers to its own sources with a similar formula. A whole series of paragraphs in our books is repeated word for word in the Chronicles. In this case there is no reference to one of our three documents, but to the writings of given individuals, as their source. So, first of all, with the history of Solomon, in which the following sections are consonant with each other, viz.: 2Ch_6:1-40 with 1Ki_8:12-50; 2Ch_7:7-22 with 1Ki_8:64 to 1Ki_9:9; 2Ch_8:2 to the ; 2Ch_8:10 th and; 2Ch_8:17 with 1Ki_9:17-23, and 1Ki_9:26; 2Ch_9:1-28 with 1Ki_10:1-28, etc. Here the Chronicles does not, like our author, refer to “the book of the history of Solomon,” but to the “ ãִּáְøֵé of Nathan the prophet, and ðְáæּàָä of the [prophet] Ahijah the Shilonite, and the çֲæåֹú of Iddo the Seer” (2Ch_9:29). Consequently the book of the “acts” of Solomon must either have consisted of these three prophetic writings, or at least must have contained essential portions of them. So also in respect of our second document, the book of the “acts” of the kings of Judah. The account of Rehoboam in 2Ch_10:1-19 is fully consonant with that in 1Ki_12:1-19, that also in 2Ch_11:1-4 with that in 1Ki_12:20-24, that still farther in 2Ch_12:13 sq. with that in 1Ki_14:21 sq.; but the source is not, as in 1Ki_14:29, called the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah, but “ ãִּáְøֵé of Shemaiah the prophet and of Iddo the Seer” (2Ch_12:15). In the history of king Abijam, the very much abbreviated account in 1Ki_15:1-8 refers for what is more extended, to the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah. The Chronicles, on the other hand, which gives the more extended narrative, refers to the “ îִãְøַùׁ of the prophet Iddo” (2Ch_13:22). Such, too, is the case in the history of the kings Uzziah and Manasseh. Our author, in both instances, appeals to the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah (2Ki_15:6; 2Ki_21:17), (but) the chronicler, in the case of the former, to the “ áָּúַá of Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz” (2Ch_26:22), and in that of the latter to the “ ãִáְøֵé çåֹæַé ” (2Ch_33:18-19). From all these references, it follows plainly that the book of the kings of Judah consisted of the historical writings of different prophets or seers. Still more decisively and unanswerably do the following places confirm this. In the history of king Jehoshaphat, 1Ki_22:2-35 coincides with 2Ch_18:2-34. As usual, our author here refers to the book of the kings of Judah; but the chronicler to the ãִáְøֵé of Jehu the son of Hanani, àֲùֶׂø äֹòֲìָä òַìÎñֵôֶø îַìְáֵé éִùְּׂøָàֵì , i.e., which are inserted, received into, etc. (2Ch_20:34). So also for the history of Hezekiah, our author appeals again simply to the book of the kings of Judah (2Ki_20:20); but the chronicler to the çָæåֹï of Isaiah, the son of Amoz, òַìÎñֵôֶø of the kings of Judah (2Ch_32:32). Hence it happens that the purely historical sections in Isaiah, chapters 36 to 39, and in Jeremiah, chapter 52, are reproduced in 2Ki_18:30 to 2Ki_20:19, and in 2Ki_24:18 to 2Ki_25:30, since they were certainly regarded as having come from the prophets. But our author, at least in the history of Hezekiah, refers, not to the book of the prophet Isaiah, but to the book of the kings of Judah (2Ki_20:20).—After all, if the three documents forming the foundation of our books were not the production of one author, but each of them was made up of the writings of different, and, in fact, prophetic authors, who had recorded the history of their own times, they were historical compilations (comp. Bleek, Einleitung in das Alte Testament, sec. 157 sq.; Bertheau, Die Bücher der Chron. Einl., § 3).

That prophets generally were the historians of the Israelitish people, is universally acknowledged (Knobel, Der Prophet. der Hebr., i. s. 58 sq.), and has its reason in the nature and destiny of this nation. “In order to recognize Jehovah in the directing of His people, and to explain and gather up all the particular facts in the connection of the theocratic guidance, the Spirit of God was the subjective condition. The history was not to be estimated as an aggregate of facts to be gathered by inquiry, and to be set forth with talent, but as a revelation of Jehovah in continuous acts, to understand which, properly, the Spirit of God seemed essential as Organ, just as much as for the comprehension of particular, immediate signs, facts (Geschichte), and oracles of Jehovah” (Winer, R.- W.-B., i. s. 412, Not. 2). The secular historian does not know Hebrew antiquity. The historical books of the Old Testament carry the collective name in the Canon ðְáִéàִéí , and are distinguished from the books strictly prophetical only in this, that the adjective øàùåðéí , priores, is applied to them, and to the latter àçøåðéí , posteriores. But if in any age history would have been written by prophets, this most certainly would have happened when prophecy was in the period of its bloom, and this was in the time of the monarchy (comp. Bleek). The prophets did not write the history of Israel as private persons, but as servants of Jehovah, as “men of God.” They are the historiographers of the kingdom of God, of the theocracy, and their narrative has for the people of God an official character, which imparts to their historical, not less than to their strictly prophetical, writings, authority and value in the judgment of the people. Were it not so, our author and the chronicler could not have appealed to them so constantly.

If the three documentary sources of our books consisted, as has been stated above, of several prophetical isolated pieces, the question then arises, when and by whom were the latter collected and combined into each of the three ñôøéí . In the lack of all specific accounts, this admits only of a conjectural reply. If it were the business of the prophets to write the history of Israel as God’s people, and to exhibit in it the threads of divine guidance and revelation, it must, of necessity, have occurred to them that their narrative would not only be continued always, but, also, that the historical material already in hand would be preserved and secured for future generations. This may have been attended to in the smaller prophetical circles, especially in the so-called schools of the prophets. It is hence highly improbable that, as Keil pretends, “just before the fall of the kingdom of Judah,” the isolated pieces which had been composed within the period of some centuries, which were scattered about here and there, should have been collected and made up into one whole; for the time immediately preceding the fall of the kingdom was a time of utter disorder, which was least of all fit for such an undertaking, apart from the consideration that the kingdom of Israel perished 130 years sooner, and its history was contained in a special work (Sammelwerk), viz., in the third documentary source. More can be said for the supposition that the compilation was not completed at once, in a given time, but gradually, and that the latter isolated pieces were added to the earlier, which would have been entirely natural and easily done. Since our author, as we have remarked above, carefully distinguishes the three documents in his citations, adduces each one separately, and never, in any one of the thirty-four places, confounds the second with the third, we are justified in the opinion that in his day, the three documentary sources were distinct works. In the time of the chronicler the second and third may have been formed into one whole, since he frequently refers to the book of the kings of Judah and Israel (2Ch_16:11; 2Ch_25:26; 2Ch_28:26; 2Ch_32:32; 2Ch_27:7; 2Ch_35:27; 2Ch_36:8); once, also, simply to the book of the Kings (2Ch_24:27). We cannot deduce anything from this with entire certainty, however, for the Chronicles, although it often names prophetical individual works, does not, in this respect, observe the accuracy of our books, as, e.g., when in the case of Jehoshaphat and Manasseh, kings of Judah, it refers to the “book of the kings of Israel” (2Ch_20:34; 2Ch_33:18), where we must assume either an exchange or an omission of the words “and Judah.”

Our author, in his use of the three documents, does not give a uniformly continuous extract from them. Sometimes, indeed, in accordance with the special design of his work (see below, § 5), he quotes entire sections literally, as is clear from sections in Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Chronicles, which are duplicates of each other. Sometimes he abbreviates them very much, as, e.g., is shown by a comparison of 1Ki_15:1-8 with 2Ch_13:1-22. If he have not prepared the historical material furnished him in an independent way, special remarks, insertions, and transitions may, nevertheless, have originated with him. But it is very hazardous to attempt to determine this accurately. Of one section only, viz., 2Ki_17:7-23, can we claim with certainty that it is the author’s own.

The sections upon the life and activity of the two great prophets, Elijah and Elisha, form no small portion of our books. In these we miss the usual appeal to one of the three documentary sources. Those which relate to Elijah bear certainly an unmistakably peculiar mark (comp., e.g., 1 Kings 17 with the preceding chapter); but it does not at all follow that they belong to another than the third document, for this, like the other two, was a collection of isolated pieces of different authors. For since those two prophets were felt so powerfully in the history of the monarchy, and they exerted generally, upon the development of the Old Testament theocracy, an influence vastly greater than that of many a king, a narrative devoted to them would scarcely have been wanting in the compilation. Besides, we cannot conceive why our author, who usually adduces his sources so carefully, and refers to them even in the most insignificant portions of the history of the kings, should have been silent, in the most weighty history of the two prophets, as to whether he had derived the same from another source than that he was constantly making use of (comp. Bleek, a. a. O., s. 371). If then of any one portion of our books, of this it is certain and self-evident, that it is the production of a prophet. If prophets have written the history of the kings, how much more their own!

What has thus far been submitted respecting the documentary sources of our books, differs more or less from the view now current. Almost universally, by the cited ñôøéí are understood “public annual registers” or “ annals,” which were kept by some royal official, and deposited in the state archives. Besides these chief sources, the author (it is thought) has used others still, viz., prophetic writings. According to Delitzsch (in Drechsler, Der Proph. Jesaja, ii. 2, s. 253, and Commentar über den Proph. Jesaja, s. ix.), the historical composition was both annalistic and prophetic. “The aims of the two are distinct. The aim of the prophetic is to exhibit the inner divine connections of the outward event which the annalistic registers.”.…“With David began the official writing of annals, which resulted in those historical works out of which the authors of the book of the Kings and of the Chronicles have chiefly, if not immediately, drawn. We behold David as the supreme chief of the kingdom, exercising the highest authority on all sides, and we find several offices created wholly by him. Under these is included that of the îַæְáִּéø , i.e., as the Septuagint, frequently explaining, translates, ὑðïìíçìáôüãñáöïò , or (2Sa_8:16) ἐðὶ ôῶí ὑðïìíçìÜôùí (Hieron., genuinely Roman, a commentariis).… The îַæְáִּéø was required to keep the annals of the kingdom. His office is different from that of the ñåֹôֵø or chancellor. It was the duty of the ñåֹôֵø (chancellor) to issue the public documents, and of the îַæְáִּéø (recorder) to preserve them and to incorporate them into the proper connection of the history of the kingdom. Throughout the ancient East both offices existed generally. Reference to the annals begins at 1Ch_27:24 with the ãִּáְøֵé äַéָּîִéí of David, and is continued in ñֵôֶé ãּáøé ùְׁìֹîֹä 1Ki_11:41.… If we regard the state annals as a completed work, it falls, naturally into four portions. The first two treated of the history of the kingdom in its unity, the last two were annals of the kings of Judah and of Israel—the history of the dissevered kingdom. The original of the state archives was destroyed doubtless when the Chaldæans burned Jerusalem. But excerpted copies of it were preserved, and the histories of the reign of David and of Solomon, rich especially in annalistic particulars in the historical books in our possession, show that diligence was devoted conspicuously to the circulation of copies of the annals of these sovereigns, and that they probably appeared in separate tractates.” Ewald also (Gesch. Israels, iii. s. 180, 338) maintains that amongst the highest royal functionaries named in 2Sa_8:16, and 1Ki_4:3, the îַæְáִּéø was “he whose business it was to record all weighty incidents concerning the royal house and kingdom, and who, at the close of a reign, gave publicly a résumé of the history of it.” He was also “court-historiographer.” David created this “court-office,” and it was never afterwards “given up.” Besides the “public annals” prescribed by David, there were also in the kingdom of Israel “numerous and continuous prophetico-historical summaries,” which were fused subsequently into one work, which again was “perhaps retouched and partially enlarged, yet much more sensibly abbreviated.” Our author is the “latest elaborator,” and “the fifth.” We remark, against these very plausible assumption, the following:

(a) There is not a single passage of the Old Testament to show that the îַæְáִּéø was the writer of the court and kingdom records; that he drew up “protocolled” and “original” archives that were deposited among the “state archives.” He never appears the least in the light of a historiographer or annalist when mentioned, or when his function is alluded to, but as a civil officer (comp. 2Ki_18:18; 2Ki_18:37; 2Ch_34:8 : comp. Winer, R.-W.-B., ii. s. 309). Thenius justly remarks, on 1Ki_4:3, the maskir “received his name from his office as ìíÞìùí , whose duty it was to bring to the king’s remembrance the state affairs to be settled, and about which he was consulted.” Had David “newly” founded the office of a court and state scribe, David’s own history would have been the first to have been written by this official; but 1Ch_29:29 says of this very history, that it is “written” òַìÎãִּáְøֵé of Samuel the seer, and in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the book of Gad the seer.” Neither could “the book of the acts of Solomon” (1Ki_11:41) have been written by the maskir, for the Chronicles, that has so many parallel sections with this history (see above), says that these acts were written in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the ðְáåּàַú of Ahijah the Shilonite, and in the çֲæåֹú of Iddo the seer” (2Ch_9:29). If the office of maskir existed at all in the kingdom of Judah under the kings of David’s house, there is not the least trace of it in the separated kingdom of Israel. Here the dynasty was changed nine times, and each was completely cut off by the new ruler. Was then the history of each king written by the maskir of his successor (granting that there was such an official), and preserved among the state archives? Would, for instance, a Jehu, who so unmercifully destroyed the whole house of Ahab (2Ki_10:11-14) have the history of that house written by a royal official, or have preserved the already-existing annals among the archives of his kingdom? Would a Jezebel have suffered the court-historian to have written yearly accounts of all her shameful acts? Lastly, the assertion that the ñåֹôֵø had to prepare the public documents, and the îַæְáִּéø to preserve them, is a pure invention, without any support from a single passage.

(b) That there was a ñֵôֶé ãִּáְøֵé äַéָּîִéí of the Medeo-Persian kings (Est_10:2), even supposing that archives drawn up by a court-scribe were meant, can never prove that the office of a court-scribe was instituted by David 600 years before, and that this office continued without interruption from that time on in both kingdoms during their separation. But even suppose that there were such archives kept in Israel as well as in Judah, and deposited in the archive-building, yet it must be considered that our author wrote in the latter half of the Babylonian captivity, consequently at a time when the residences of Samaria and Jerusalem had been for a long while destroyed, and when also, as is admitted, the annals that had been preserved in the archive-building no longer existed. The supposition that the Assyrians and Chaldæans kept the archives of conquered dynasties in their capitals, and allowed those exiles who had acquired the favor of the conqueror to make use of them (Stähelin, Einl. in’s Alte Testament, s. 129), is as unfounded as it is arbitrary. At the destruction of Jerusalem, not only the royal palace, but also “all the great houses were burned” (2Ki_25:9). And how could our author refer his readers to writings that either did not exist then, or at least were not within the range of all? But the assertion that excerpted extracts from the originals of the state archives had been preserved, rests on the presupposition that “the annals of each dynasty were made public when it became extinct,”—a presupposition which is again without the shadow of support, and which, though helping out a difficulty, is a purely arbitrary notion.

(c) Least of all can the contents of the book of Kings be adduced to prove that the “archives of the kingdom” were the principal authorities for it. The history of the reigns of each of the nineteen kings of Israel begins with the expression: “He did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.” The same expression occurs with regard to twelve of the twenty kings of Judah, and it expresses the general character of their rule. It is even told at length how deeply even the greatest and most glorious king, Solomon, fell. The “sin of Jeroboam, who made Israel to sin,” is represented as the source of all the evils of the kingdom; the conspiracies and murders of a Baasha, a Shallum, a Menahem; the wicked deeds of an Ahab, a Jezebel, and Manasseh, are told unsparingly; and, finally, the chronicler says of king Jehoiakim of Judah: “his abominations which he did, and that which was found in him, behold they are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah” (2Ch_36:8). How can we then suppose that all this and much more like it was protocolled by the “court-historiographer” with the knowledge and in the service of the king; that it was recorded in official archives of the kingdom, and then made public? No court-officials could have written books of such contents, none but free-souled prophets who were perfectly independent of the court. Ewald adduces, as unmistakable “remains” of the official archives (a. a. O., s. 182), the sections that refer to Solomon’s officers, over his household, and his buildings. But we cannot perceive why these sections only should have been written by a court-official. A man who stood so near Solomon as the prophet Nathan, who, according to 2Ch_9:29, wrote a history of that king, could and must know well what officials and how many he had, how he managed his kingdom and court, and how the temple and palace built by him were constructed. The accounts of the building of the tabernacle are much fuller than those of the temple, and yet are certainly not written by secular officials. There is, in fact, nothing in these books that a ðָáִéà may not have known and written; and it is indeed astonishing that, notwithstanding all this, people should still insist on the supposed “archives of the kingdom,” and obstinately object to the prophetic origin of the three documentary sources.

(d) Because there is so much matter that could not possibly have been in the official annals, they have been driven to a wholly unfounded supposition, viz., that the author used other authorities also, which are not named. But this is disproved by the fact that the three authorities used were not official annals at all. The author refers to the sources whence he drew his facts about thirty times, and he refers to them even when he wrote of those kings that only reigned a short time; but he does not once quote any other work. Now, as the greater part of the contents of our books could not possibly have been taken from court-annals, it would be inexplicable that the author should never have named his other authorities. The conclusion that, because everything could not have been found in the archives, the author drew from other sources, is therefore false. We should be much more justified in the inverse conclusion, that because everything may have been contained in the historico-prophetical works of Samuel (and the author only quotes these), they alone, and not such as he never names, were his authoritïes.

Thenius has put forward a view regarding the sources of the books of the Kings (Comm. über die Bücher der Könige, Einleit. § 3) which differs from the view we have just discussed, and also from our own. He asserts that there are three “different component parts:” namely, the “properly historical,” the “traditional,” and these passages that were “really written by the elaborator.” There were, he thinks, two different sources of the historical parts, and, in fact, “a larger work,” which fell into two halves according to the two kingdoms, and “when the official yearly records of both kingdoms were used, may have been principally composed of what was written regarding the influence of the prophets that had so much weight in public affairs; written partly by the prophets themselves, and partly by others of their time, or recorded soon after.” There was then an “extract from this larger work,” which he supposes our author to have “found,” and to which the “summary accounts contained in our books,” and the invariable form of quotation, belong. The traditional portions are in part separate “descriptions drawn from tradition,” and in part are peculiarly “a book composed by and for the prophets—a sort of prophet-mirror, the chief design of which was to impress on the pupils of the prophets the necessity for the most implicit obedience to the divine exhortations.” Whilst all the sections that enter into detail are taken from the first-named “larger work,” the narratives of the prophets, as the history of Elijah and Elisha, were taken from the “prophet-mirror.” Thenius has tried to determine precisely to which of these different component parts the separate sections and verses of our books belong. Against this view we advance the following:

(a) The author’s own statements refute the supposition that one larger work, forming a whole in itself, was his chief authority. The chronicler who wrote much later, refers indeed often to the “book of the acts of the kings of Judah and Israel;” but our author does not do so in one of the thirty-four passages where he quotes his authorities, but he always either names the book of the kings of Judah or that of the kings of Israel. Thus he had two separate, independent books before him, for the very nature of the case required that the history of the two separated kingdoms should be separately designated. But even granted that the three ñôøéí , so accurately distinguished from each other, were only one larger work, we should then have to ask when it was written, what author wrote it, and from what sources it was derived. As in 2Ki_24:5 only the book of the Kings of Judah is quoted, the former could not have been written till after the time of Jehoiakim; but against this there are the above-mentioned references made by the chronicler to the separate writings of earlier prophets and seers. The author of the “larger work” (whoever he might have been) is supposed to have used the “official yearly records of both kingdoms;” but the grand question is, whether there were any such records, and particularly in the kingdom of Israel. But if the three ñôøéí are taken to mean the larger work, the official yearly records cannot be meant at the same time; thus no reference can have been made to them.

(b) That our author should have used an extract from the larger work as well as the work itself, is an extraordinary assertion, which no one thought of making till now. He certainly needed no such extract, as, being in possession of the larger work, he could have made an extract himself, and could get nothing from any such, made by another, that was not to be found in the work itself. But if he had, as proved, two separate ñôøéí before him, the book of the kings of Judah and that of the kings of Israel, there must have been two extracts, one having been made in each kingdom, and this no one can or will accept. The attempt to determine accurately what belongs to the larger work, what was taken from the extract, and what was the author’s own, is, to say the least, very adventurous, and rests alone upon a purely subjective judgment, i.e., is more or less arbitrary. Why, for instance, should not the brief summary statements made in 1 Kings 15. about some kings, be taken from the extended authority cited, which is also quoted in every case, but be borrowed from the supposed extract? Why should the sentence in 1Ki_14:21, “in the city which the Lord did choose out of all the tribes of Israel to put His name there,” not belong to the authority used, but have been inserted by the author himself? Why should the same be the case with 1Ki_15:4-5 ?

(c) The distinction between “truly historical” and “traditional” component parts, each of which is said to have its peculiar sources, is founded on the presupposition that every account in which a miracle, or the fulfilment of a prophecy, in fact anything out of the ordinary course of history, is recorded, cannot be historical, but is “legendary.” But those narratives are so closely connected with such as are admitted to be “truly historical,” that they can only be forcibly separated from the context and laid to a separate “traditional” documentary source. Why, for instance, should the sections 1Ki_10:1-13; 1Ki_11:1-13 not be historical, but the first be derived from a written and the latter from oral tradition? Why should 1Ki_20:1-34 belong to the supposed larger historical work, and 1Ki_20:35-43, on the contrary, to the so-called prophet-mirror; in the same way 2Ki_3:4-27 to the former, and 2Ki_6:24 to 2Ki_7:20 to the latter? Why should everything in the great section 2Ki_18:13 to 2Ki_20:19 (Isai. 36:39) be historical, and only the midway verses of 2Ki_19:35-37 (Isa_37:36-38) have been taken from another and a traditional source?

(d) There is nowhere the slightest trace in the Bible of a particular book that was used as “a prophet-mirror.” If the author cites one of his three authorities in writing of kings of whom there was but little to say (1Ki_16:15; 2Ki_15:13), he would certainly not have omitted to give his authority, if he had one, in the important and deeply-interesting history of the great prophets. Apart from this, too, the supposition of such “a book, compiled for pupils of the prophets,” is contrary to the sense and spirit of Hebrew antiquity. The old prophets felt themselves indeed called on to record the history of Jehovah’s people; but it never entered their minds to compile a book of instruction or examples for their pupils, in order to lead them to “the most implicit obedience.” Modern times, indeed, require instruction for the performance of the spiritual office, &c.; but antiquity had no such books. If the three documentary sources were, as we have proved, collections made from writings that were contemporary with or made soon after the ðáéàéí who lived during the events, all the sections that are said to belong to the supposed prophet-mirror might easily have been drawn from them.


Unity And Independence

If any book of the Old Testament forms a complete and independent whole, the books of Kings, which afterwards and erroneously were divided into two books, are such, notwithstanding their character as compilations. This is apparent in their beginning and conclusion, which are the limits of a certain period of the Old Testament history. They begin with the reign of the most glorious king, for whom the building of the temple was reserved, and they end with the ruin of the whole kingdom, and the destruction of that temple. It is plain from 1Ki_6:1 that a former period of the history of Israel terminates with the building of the temple, and a new one begins: “In the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month Zif, which is the second month, he began to build the house of the Lord.” Why a new period began with the building of the temple by Solomon, is shown in the following passages: 2Sa_7:8-16; 1Ki_5:3-4; 1Ch_17:7-12; 1Ch_22:8-11. The period from the exodus from Egypt to Solomon was the time of wandering (of the “Tabernacle”), of war, and of disturbance; even David was the “man of war.” With Solomon, the “man of quiet and peace,” the period of full and quiet possession of the promised land, and the period marked by Jehovah’s “house,” began. With Solomon, also, the “house” of David, i.e., David’s dynasty, to whom the kingdom was promised forever, first really began (2Sa_7:13; 1Ch_17:14). This period continues then till the ruin of David’s house, which is also the ruin of Jehovah’s house, and with this Our books conclude (2 Kings 25).

The unity and independence of these books is shown, not only in their style, but in their contents also. Even De Wette confesses (Einl., s. 239): “a certain unity is manifest in matter, style, and manner of exposition, from beginning to end;” and Thenius says (a. a. O., s. 1): “There are remarks scattered up and down the whole that are all written in one spirit, and are found in no other historical book, as in the books of the Kings (certainly not in the books of Samuel).” A peculiar style and method of historical writings prevails, and such as we find nowhere else. The time of the beginning of each reign and its duration are first stated in the history of each king, then his general character is given, next an account, more or less full, of his acts, after that the date of his death and burial, and finally mention is made of the authorities used. Some forms of expression are indeed employed (in the extracts) which do not belong to the time of their composition, but to a later period (Stähelin, Krit. Untersuch, s. 150 sq.); but they only prove “that the author not only often quoted his authorities, but used them with some freedom” (Thenius).

The arbitrary designation of the books of Samuel as the first and second books of the Kings by the Sept. and the Vulgate (see § 1) may have occasioned the assertion of recent critics, like Eichhorn and Jahn, that both works are by the same author, and properly belong together. Ewald goes still farther; according to him, the books of Judges, Ruth, Samuel, and Kings, are, in their present form, one connected whole, by one author, whom he asserts was the last of five consecutive elaborators on the existing authorities. But all that distinguishes our books from the other historical ones of the Old Testament so clearly, applies to the books of Samuel also. Here all the chronological data that are so carefully repeated with each king, in our books, are completely wanting, as are also the usual expressions descriptive of character and mission. The narrative is much more minute, simply strung together without always preserving chronological order; as, for instance, the entire section 2 Samuel 21-24, which is a sequel to David’s history. The first two chapters of our books have been especially adduced, as an unmistakable continuation of 2Sa_20:26, and showing the same author’s style of narration. These chapters, however, are inseparably and closely connected with the three following; they form the indispensable introduction to Solomon’s accession, and are, on the other hand, separated from 2Sa_20:26 by the supplement in 2 Samuel 21-24. But the similarity of the style is easily explained by the consideration that they were all derived from a common source (1Ch_29:29). The similarity of some narratives and modes of expression has also been alleged; but it is difficult to perceive what likeness Ewald can find between Abiathar’s banishment (1Ki_2:26) and the rejection of Eli’s house (1Sa_2:35); between the elevation of Jehu to be king (2 Kings 9 sq.) and that of Saul (1 Samuel 9 sq.). It is just so with 1Ki_4:1-6, and 2Sa_8:15-18; there the chief officers of Solomon are given, and here those of David also; but neither the offices themselves, their order, nor the persons, are the same. Neither do the following passages: 1Ki_2:11 comp. with 2Sa_5:5, and 1Ki_2:4; 1Ki_5:17-18; 1Ki_8:18; 1Ki_8:25 comp. with 2Sa_7:12-16, prove the identity of the author; they only show, what is already clear, that our author knew the books of Samuel, which were written before his time. Least of all should the phraseology in 1Sa_25:22 and 1Ki_14:16; 1Ki_16:11; 1Ki_21:21; 2 Kings 9, 8 be adduced as proof that the author is the same. It is very natural “that an Israelite who was no doubt intimately acquainted with the documents of his people, should often involuntarily use expressions from memory” (Thenius).



The question of the credibility of these books concerns not so much themselves as the authorities from which they were compiled. But as these were, as § 2 shows, composed by prophets who were contemporaries of the events described, they are at least as much to be relied on as the pretended annals written by court-historiographers, and therefore accredited. The constant citation of the original documents presupposes that they were accounted regular historical authorities, not only by the author himself, but also by his readers, and the whole people; in fact, by reference to them he guards against every suspicion of relating fiction or doubtful facts. That he carefully and conscientiously chose his matter, is shown especially by all those sections which are parallel with others in Isaiah, Jeremiah, or the Chronicles, though not borrowed from them, but taken from the common source now no longer extant. The accuracy of the dates, which is the basis of historical writing, is evidence of the credibility of the narrative. But besides this there are many precise, genealogical, geographical, and statistical remarks, as well as numerous characteristic traits of individuals, which could not be fictitious, and bear the unmistakable impress of truth. An historical book would scarcely have been placed in the Canon and among the ðáéàéí , if it had not been universally esteemed as the true history after the original documents were lost.

While Eichhorn (Einl. § 486) recognized the “perfect credibility” of our books, recent critics have only partially and conditionally admitted it. They assert that these books contain “myths” as well as authentic information (De Wette); stories, therefore, which are only the clothing of religious ideas and doctrines, and having no real historical foundation: or else they say that whole sections, especially those relating to the lives and deeds of the prophets, have a “fabulous character” (Thenius); that they are not without historical foundation and substance indeed, but yet are more or less colored and embellished. No books, however, are more free than these, from myths. They do not deal with a prehistoric time, but with a comparatively late historical period, and their design is to give history, and nothing but history, not religious ideas or doctrines in the dress of fictitious history. The history they relate is indeed, in its nature as a part of the history of God’s people, of a religious kind, but is not on that account fiction, but is history in the truest and fullest sense of the word. The idea of mythical ingredients has very rightly been abandoned of late, but a fabulous character has been the more insisted on. Proceeding from negative-dogmatic presuppositions, they endeavor to prove, as already remarked above, § 2, that every miracle and every prophecy belongs to the province of fable. But miracles form (comp. for instance 1 Kings 18.) the very central point of this history, which is indisputably true in all other respects, and admitted to be such; they must therefore fall or stand along with it. In fact, what is stated to be fabulous in these books is so interwoven with what is admitted as historical, that they can only be arbitrarily separated; and every attempt to decide where history ceases and fable begins, appears arbitrary and vain. To set forth the miraculous in the history of the old covenant as unhistorical, is to deny that there was a divine revelation in it; it is rooted in the election of Israel, from among all people of the earth, to be a peculiar people (Exo_19:3-6), i.e., the guardians of the knowledge of the one God and His revelations. This election is, as Martensen aptly terms it (Dogmatic, s. 363), the “fundamental miracle which no criticism can explain away,” because it is a world-historical fact. The prophets stood alone in Israel, as Israel did among all nations of the earth; all their great and extraordinary deeds and announcements were inseparably connected with their peculiar vocation. They themselves were a greater miracle than all the miracles they performed, as Christ was himself the greatest miracle, and all his wonderful deeds were rooted in the miracle of His own person and mission. Neither were the deeds of the prophets mere wonderful sights caused by divine power, but “signs” ( àåֹä ), that pointed to higher things, and real evidences of the øåּçַ of Jehovah, working through the prophets. That which has been adduced against passages in our books, which do not harmonize with, or which are in direct contradiction with, each other, and tell against its complete credibility, does not amount to much. We refer, also, in this respect, to the commentary upon the passages in question.


Object And Character

As the book was written during the second half of the captivity, and the prophetic writer himself was living among the exiles (§ 1), it is plain that the work must bear the stamp of such extraordinary times and especially refer to them. It was not the author’s object to write a historical work that should enrich the Hebrew literature; but he had rather a peculiar object in view, and one that bore upon the times he lived in. No time was so fitting as that of the captivity, to hold before the captive and deeply-humbled people the mirror of their history from the most prosperous period of the kingdom under Solomon to its fall. Such a history would necessarily show them the ways by which their God led them, as well as their great guilt and their fall; and also convince them that the only way to deliverance and freedom, was that sincere penitence and conversion to the Lord their God, and firm adherence to the broken covenant and the promises therewith connected. It was the object of the author to awaken and strengthen this conviction. Now the three prophetico-historical collections that he used, were accessible also to others, otherwise he could not have referred his readers to them so constantly. But it seems, from the formula with which he does so, that they were very minute and voluminous, which must have made their general circulation in the time of the captivity very difficult, or almost impossible. Hence the author undertook to make extracts from them, choosing those events that served the object he had in view. It is very clear that such an historical work was much needed at that particular time.

The style of the history exactly corresponds with the design. The work is anything but a string of historical facts without any plan; on the contrary, the author proceeds from a fixed principle, to which he adheres to the end, through the choice as well as arrangement of the historical matter, and so firmly, that his work bears the character of a pragmatic historical composition more than any other historical book of Scripture. This principle is the fundamental idea of the entire old covenant—the election of Israel from all nations to be a peculiar people (Exo_19:3-6); the fundamental law of this election, i.e., the covenant, declares: “I am the Lord thy God which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt (i.e., made thee an independent people). Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, nor any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them, for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments” (Exo_20:2-6). This supreme commandment of the covenant lies at the root of the author’s historical view and representation. According as the historical facts are directly or indirectly connected with it, he relates them more or less in detail; what is utterly disconnected with it he passes over entirely. To him idolatry and image-worship are the sin of all sins, because they destroyed what alone made Israel a peculiar and independent people, chosen from among all nations, and also destroyed its world-historical destiny. All evil, even the ruin of the entire kingdom, was the natural consequence of contempt and transgression of that chief and fundamental law, as, inversely, all good and every blessing followed adherence to the same. The author himself alludes to this fundamental idea in the long reflections which he makes after the ruin of the kingdom, 2Ki_17:7 sq., and it appears here and there throughout the whole work. David is a pattern for all the kings of God’s people, not because he was morally free from blame, but because he held to this fundamental law in every situation, and never departed from it one iota; the promise was therefore given him: “Thine house and thy kingdom shall be established forever before thee; thy throne shall be established forever” (2Sa_7:16; comp. 1Ki_8:25; 1Ki_9:5; 1Ki_11:36; 1Ki_11:39; 2Ki_8:19). This is the reason also that he is so often alluded to in the words: “as his father David,” or “he walked in the ways of his father David” (1Ki_3:3; 1Ki_3:14; 1Ki_9:4; 1Ki_11:4; 1Ki_11:6; 1Ki_11:33; 1Ki_11:38; 1Ki_14:8; 1Ki_15:5; 1Ki_15:11; 2Ki_14:3; 2Ki_16:2; 2Ki_18:3; 2Ki_22:2), or: “for David thy father’s sake” (1Ki_11:12-13; 1Ki_11:32; 1Ki_11:34; 1Ki_15:3; 2Ki_8:19; 2Ki_19:34; 2Ki_20:6). David, when dying, exhorts his successor with the most impressive words, above all, to hold fast to the fundamental law (1Ki_2:3 sq.). But when Solomon permitted idolatrous worship in the latter part of his reign, the kingdom was rent from him, &ldqu