Books of Kings
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The Book of Kings in the Jewish Tanakh is a record of the history of Israel and then Israel and Judah from the 10th century BCE to roughly the 6th century delineated by addressing each King's reign from Solomon to the end of the Kings reigns and the conquest of the Babylonians. In the Tanakh, Kings (Alef and Bet, two scrolls) is part of the Former Prophets (Nevi'im Rishonim). In the Christian Bible, 1 Kings and 2 Kings are considered part of the Histories.
Dull fact: from the 4th-century Vulgate until Protestant reforms in 1517, the current 1 Kings and 2 Kings were known as 3 Kings and 4 Kings, while "our" 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel were 1 Kings and 2 Kings.
When David was on his death bed he shivered all the time. They piled blankets on him, but he was still cold. So finally they rounded up a virgin to crawl into his bed to give him heat, which she promptly did. But it was strictly business. The noble and kingly King David was a man with a very strong will, who never once took advantage of the situation.
"And the damsel was very fair, and cherished the king, and ministered to him: but the king knew her not."
Perhaps it was because his wife Bathsheba was nearby. What was wrong with her body heat? Wasn't she 98.6 degrees F? At any rate, it was perks like deathbed virgin heating pads that inspired men to become kings throughout history. David revived enough to make his final words a command for David and Bathsheba's son Solomon to whack Joab, because David was exceedingly wroth with Joab for whacking his son Absalom. Solomon had Joab whacked in the Temple of Yahweh.
Now it came to pass, when Solomon was elevated to the throne, God granted him one wish. Solomon could have asked for a chariot driven by lions and made of pure gold, or 72 virgin heating pads, but instead he asked for wisdom and discernment. God was pleased, and granted the request immediately:
"Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee."
That means Solomon was wiser than Jesus, even!
The Kings of Israel and Judah
The division of David & Solomon's united kingdom (for which there is no historical evidence) into the kingdoms of Israel and Judah were the result of a rash decision to raise taxes by Rehoboam. With the exception of a miracle performed by a prophet here and there, the narrative is Boolean: a king are either nice or naughty, then he dies ("And the useful things that he did, are they not recorded in Some Other Book?"), giving a boring but righteous text. The Booleanisms help with understanding why the even more boring oracles of the Minor Prophets were ever uttered. All dates given below are from Kenneth Anderson Kitchen, On the Reliability of the Old Testament.
1 KINGS (All dates are BCE.)
Solomon:971-931 Gets rid of opponents of his rule. Marries Pharaoh Siamun(not mentioned by name)'s daughter, so that Siamun destroys Gezer, a Canaanite/Philistine city, as dowry. Built the temple at Jerusalem. Built six chambered gates at Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer. Does not conquer Aram, taxes far too much for a mini-empire (but far too little for a proper empire! He would be considered a pauper compared to Shoshenq I's successor!), gets 666 talents of gold per year, (which is equivalent to 20,179 kilograms, and is equivalent to $750,557,905 on April 25, 2010). He also lost his monotheism during the latter part of his reign.
Rehoboam of Judah:931-915 Three days into his reign, Jeroboam declared Israel's independence from Judah because of a tax increase by Rehoboam. Rehoboam fortified Bethlehem, Etam, Tekoa, Beth Zur, Soco, Adullam, Gath, Mareshah, Ziph, Adoraim, Lachish, Azekah, Zorah, Aijalon and Hebron. Shoshenq I is only mentioned in the Bible as plundering Jerusalem, yet, Jerusalem is not even mentioned in Shoshenq I's own campaign list (although Aijalon, a fortified city of Rehoboam, is).
Jeroboam I of Israel:930-910 First king of Israel. Was attacked by Shoshenq I(Shishak) in 925, probably as punishment for not helping Egypt(for Shoshenq I united Egypt during the first half of his reign, and harbored Jeroboam I after Jeroboam fled from Solomon) Made golden calves at Bethel and Dan, which, in all probability, inspired the Golden Calf narrative.
Abjam of Judah:915-912 "Wicked". Fought against Jeroboam I.
Asa of Judah:912-871 "Good"
Nadab of Israel:910-909 Usurper.
Baasha of Israel:909-886 Usurper.
Elah of Israel:886-885 Successor to Baasha.
Zimri of Israel:885 Usurper.
Tibni of Israel:885-880? Usurper.
Omri of Israel:885-874 Winner. Second most "wicked" king of Israel.
Ahab of Israel:874-853 Prosperous reign. First biblical figure mentioned in a contemporary extra-biblical text. Most "wicked" king of Israel. Jericho is fortified by Hiel during his reign.
Jehoshaphat of Judah:871-849 Prosperous reign.
Ahaziah of Israel:853-852
Jehoram of Israel:852-841
Jehoram of Judah:849-842
Ahaziah of Judah:842-841 Killed by Jehu.
Athaliah of Judah:841-835 "Wicked" Queen. Was killed on the command of Jehoiada the priest.
Jehu of Israel:841-814 Succeeded at taking over Israel after over 50 years of fighting.
Jehoash of Judah:841/35-796 Was declared King with the help of Jehoiada the priest.
Jehoahaz of Israel:814-806
Jehoash of Israel:806-791
Amaziah of Judah:796-776 Conquered Edom.
Jeroboam II of Israel:791-750 Prosperous reign.
Uzziah/Azariah of Judah:787/76-736 Prosperous reign. Followed an expansionist foreign policy against Philista.
Zachariah of Israel:750 Killed by Shallum.
Jotham of Judah:750-734
Shallum of Israel:749 Usurper.
Menahem of Israel:749-739
Pekahiah of Israel:739-737
Pekah of Israel:737(Mistakenly, 751, see Jotham)-732
Ahaz of Judah:734-728 Was responsible for making Judah an Assyrian vassal.
Hoshea of Israel:732-722 Allied with Osorkon IV of Egypt, was besieged by Shalamanessar V of Assyria, and deposed by Sargon II of Assyria. After his deposition, Israel ceased to be a state.
Hezekiah:728-697 The second-holiest king of Judah who ever lived! Became sick, probably, actually in the fifteenth year of his reign, on October 10, 714 BCE. (The Deuteronomistic Historian places the sickness and the siege in the wrong order. The siege was in the twenty-seventh year of Hezekiah, not the fifteenth.) Was besieged by Sennacherib in 701 BCE, for refusing to pay tribute. Sennacherib describes the campaign in quite boasting (yet, painfully true) terms, while the Deuteronomistic Historian speaks only that Assyria did not destroy Jerusalem, and that that some of the Assyrian forces died of disease.
Manasseh:697-643 The most wicked king of Judah who ever lived! Why, he even cooperated with Assyria! He even put up an idol in the holy place!
Josiah:641-609 The holiest king of Judah who ever lived! Babylon took over Assyria during his reign, so he no longer had to worry about anything! Killed by Necho II of Egypt. Things fell apart after he died.
Jehoahaz:609, (July to October) Falls to Necho II
Jehoiakim:609-598 Rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon and died during Nebuchadnezzar first siege of Jerusalem
Jehoiachin:597, (January to March) Fell to Nebuchadnezzar II.
Zedekiah:597-586 Rebelled and fell to Nebuchadnezzar II.
Quotes and commentary
π and the Molten Sea
Of particular interest is 1 Kings 7:23: "And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about."
Most attribute this to either the measure of the cubit being variable or the measurements being imprecise - certainly the sums are correct to 1 significant figure, even if 1 s.f. is rather useless from an engineering perspective. Some special people believe this passage is very clear; God has the power to change the value of pi to exactly 3. By far, the best solution to this problem is the idea (without any support whatsoever) that the Judeans measured circumference by the inner edge and the diameter by the outer edge.
“”From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they said. “Get out of here, baldy!” 24 He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys. 25 And he went on to Mount Carmel and from there returned to Samari
|—The Holy Bible |
Having never been one to overreact, Elisha merely reacted as expected of a wise prophet under the guidance of a supernatural being: he used his bear magic to summon two female bears to the location. These bears then killed 42 of the children, mauling each one to death, ripping them to pieces (apparently there were still more who had gone out of town to yell at Elisha, who were mercifully spared and could thus rejoice at the splendid sight of their friends being ripped to shreds by bears).
Some argue that the bible is not a book of love and equality, but this is only because they do not know about bear magic.
- See the Wikipedia article on Books of Kings.
- Sometimes called a "source notice"; e.g 2 Kings 23:28 "Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?" [JPS 1917 translation]
- 2 Chronicles 29:1
- 2 Kings 19:1