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Books of Kings

General Information

The two books of Kings, labeled 1 - 2 Kings in the Hebrew and English versions of the Bible, but 3 - 4 Kings in the Greek and Latin, are so designated because of their contents. They follow and are a continuation of the books of Samuel (1 - 2 Kings in Greek and Latin) and narrate the history of Israel and Judah from Solomon's accession to the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile of Judah in 587 BC.

The Books of Kings give a detailed account of Solomon's wisdom and wealth and the building of the Tem ple dedication prayer, as well as the long explanation for the fall of Israel. The compiler(s) did use earlier sources, however.

These include lost works called the Acts of Solomon, the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah, and the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel; some official lists; an account of the temple construction; and a summary of the official annals of both Israel and Judah. The compiler(s) also incorporated a number of early prophetic legends, including the Elijah - Elisha cycles. The original work dates from c.615 BC, but it was updated and reedited c.550 BC.

J J M Roberts

F M Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic (1973); J Gray, 1 - 2 Kings: A Commentary (1970); L B Hinton, First and Second Kings (1988); C Miller, Commentary on First and Second Kings (1991).

Books of Kings

Brief Outline

  1. Solomon's reigh (1Kings 1-11)
  2. Kings of Israel and Judah (1Kings 12-2Kings 18)
  3. Kings of Judah to the Exile (2Kings 18-25)


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