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Books of Kings
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Books of Kings

The Books of Kings (Sefer Melachim in Hebrew) are two books of the Jewish Tanakh, adopted later by the later Christian's as a Bible (the Old Testament). They contain accounts of the kings of ancient Israel and Judah.

The two books of Kings comprise the fourth book in the second canonical division of Hebrew Scriptures: in the threefold division of the Tanach, these books are ranked among the Prophets. The present division into two books was first made by the Septuagint, which now, with the Vulgate, numbers them as the third and fourth books of Kings, the two books of Samuel being considered the first and second books of Kings.

They contain the annals of the Jewish commonwealth from the accession of Solomon till the subjugation of the kingdom by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians (apparently a period of about four hundred and fifty-three years). The books of Chronicles are more comprehensive in their contents than those of Kings. The latter synchronize with 1 Chronicles 28 - 2 Chronicles 36:21. While in the Chronicles greater prominence is given to the priestly or Levitical office, in the Kings greater prominence is given to the kingly office.

The authorship, or rather compilation, of these books is uncertain. The sources of the narrative are explicitly given as

  1. the "book of the acts of Solomon" (1 Kings 11:41)
  2. the "book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah" (14:29; 15:7, 23, etc.)
  3. the "book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel" (14:19; 15:31; 16:14, 20, 27, etc.).

There are some portions that are almost identical to the Book of Jeremiah, e.g., 2 Kings 24:18-25 and Jeremiah 52; 39:1-10; 40:7-41:10. There are also many undesigned coincidences between Jeremiah and Kings (2 Kings 21-23 and Jer. 7:15; 15:4; 19:3, etc.), and events recorded in Kings of which Jeremiah had personal knowledge. Because of this, traditionally Jeremiah was credited the author of the books of Kings. An alternative supposition is that Ezra, after the Babylonian captivity of Judah, compiled them from official court chronicles of David, Solomon, Nathan, Gad, and Iddo, and that he arranged them in the order in which they now exist.

The Books of Kings are frequently quoted or alluded to by (Matthew 6:29; 12:42; Luke 4:25, 26; 10:4; comp. 2 Kings 4:29; Mark 1:6; comp. 2 Kings 1:8; and Matthew 3:4, etc.).

The date of its composition was perhaps some time between 561 BC, the date of the last chapter (2 Kings 25), when Jehoiachin was released from captivity by Evil-merodach, and 538 BC, the date of the decree of deliverance by Cyrus the Great.

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This entry incorporates text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897, with some modernization.