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1 & 2 Kings - An Overview

"The writing of history, by its very nature, requires a selection of details, the imposition of a pattern of organization, and the expression of the historianís point of view."

  1. Those who want to uncover "what really happened" see a barrier
  2. Those so feel that the truth of the text is in the telling see a real need to analyze the authorís narrative strategies

Signs of Structure

  1. References to other works to show he has chosen to tell part of the events
  2. Each king is judged either good or bad "in the sight of God"
  3. All of the Northern kings are categorically viewed as evil
  4. The author is not really interested in the political and social motivations of the kings.

The Deuteronomy Connection

  1. These History books follow the choices and consequences of Israel based upon the covenant Moses presented to the nation before they entered the Promised Land.
    1. Joshua
    2. Judges
    3. Samuel
    4. Kings
  2. Key issue: Israelís presence in the land derives from it's covenantal relationship with God. (See Deut. 28)
    1. Serving God vs. Idolatry

The Structure of the Book

The History of the Monarchy

  • 1 Kings 1-11 United Monarchy, primarily the reign of Solomon
  • 1 Kings 12-2 Kings 17 Synchronistic history of divided Israel
  • 2 Kings 18-25 The gradual failure of Judah leading to captivity

The Major Themes of the Book in Chiastic Structure

A. Solomon/United Monarchy (1 Kings 1:1-11:25)

B. Jeroboam/Rehoboam: divided kingdom (1 Kings 11:26-14:31)

C. Kings of Israel/Judah (1 Kings 15:1-16:22)

Rise and fall of Baal (1 Kings 16:23-2 Kings 12)

Cí. Kings of Judah/Israel (2 Kings 13-16)

Bí. Fall of Northern Kingdom (2 Kings 17)

Aí. Kingdom of Judah (2 Kings 18-25

Characterization and Moral Judgment

Look for the following clues to determine a characterís spiritual virtue

  1. From what point of view is the story being told?
  2. What key words are being used to tell the story?
  3. Watch for implicit linkage of sin with historical misfortune
  4. Unique characterization of Ahab
    1. He and his father are more wicked that all before them
    2. But he was obedient to Elijahís commands!
    3. Note his willing capitulation to whoever confronts him
    4. Weakness to bear false witness
    5. His indifference to justice and judgment
    6. His repentance is suspect due to his inconstancy
    7. His is opportunistic and finally forced to choose between two mutually exclusive claims to the truth. He chooses badly and dies for it.

The Role of Solomon

The account of Solomonís life is far lengthier that that of any other king mentioned in
1 & 2 Kings.

  • He is the prototypical figure in both a positive and a negative sense.
    • Chapter 1 Solomon is passive
    • Chapter 2 Solomon is active
    • Chapters 3-17 Solomon receives praise but little drama just list of actions

There are Three Major Themes that begin with Solomon that continue throughout the book.

  • Will the king be loyal to the covenant with God?
  • What is the kingís (the peopleís by extension) concern for the Temple?
  • What is the concern for Godís prophets and the messages they give?

Material gleaned from George Savran, "1 & 2 Kings", The Literary Guide to the Bible, pp. 146-164.

The Wisdom of Solomon
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