The books of First and Second Kings record the history of Israel from the death of David to the fall of Jerusalem and the end of Hebrew national independence. Some scholars argue for a single author/redactor of Kings, while others ascribe the book to the Deuteronomistic school of writing. The authors of this text assert that the book was probably written between the fall of Jerusalem and the decree of Cyrus, perhaps in two stages. Many archeological findings have been unearthed which lend support to the biblical account.
The book surveys the history of Israel from the united empire under Solomon to the split of the monarchy under Rehoboam and records the political and religious occurrences of the divided kingdoms until their end. The Israelite kingdom suffered from great political instability and spiritual apostasy. By comparison, the southern kingdom of Judah enjoyed relative political and spiritual stability and lasted about 150 years longer. The greater success of the southern kingdom is tied to the legitimacy of the Davidic dynasty, through which God intended to establish eternal kingship in Israel.
Kings functions as a record of the covenantal failures of the Israelite kings and priests, who led the people into spiritual apostasy. Prophets functioned as divinely appointed messengers to guide the conscience of those in power. Disobedience resulted in the judgment of God on the entire nation. In contrast, obedience invited God’s blessing. The narratives reveal the dynamic interaction between God’s sovereign stewardship of the covenant and the reality of freedom and accountability in the recipients of the covenant. Kings thus functions as both a word of exhortation and of warning to the audience.
First and Second Chronicles were originally a single book ascribed (in Jewish tradition) to Ezra. Modern scholarship has largely rejected Ezra as author, and simply asserted an unknown, but probably priestly, chronicler drawing from a multitude of sources during the postexilic period. Along with Ezra-Nehemiah, Chronicles is probably one of last books of the OT canon to be written.
Chronicles covers roughly the same period covered by Samuel and Kings. The chronicler writes this work as a “theology of hope,” looking forward to future restoration in the midst of present distress. The freedom exercised by the chronicler over his sources has led scholars to question the accuracy of this book more than any other in the OT. Confessional scholars have asserted that the audience’s thorough knowledge of Israelite history allowed the chronicler to select his material based on his theological emphases. His message focuses on the role of the united monarchy under David and Solomon in establishing and maintaining the temple in Jerusalem. He explains that Israel has brought the covenant curses upon herself by her disobedience and that Israel could only be restored by imitating the model of the faithful Jerusalem of the past.
colophon: an addendum or postscriipt attached to a manuscriipt, sometimes containing facts relative to its writing
typology: one aspect of biblical interpretation that establishes a correspondence between Old Testament events, persons, objects, and/or ideas (“types”) and their New Testament counterparts (“antetypes”) by way of foreshadowing or prototype
dynastic succession: royal authority legitimized by heredity; rulers come from the same line of descent
monarchy: system of government in which a single rule (monarch) has complete authority over the affairs of the nation
united monarchy: period of time during which Israel and Judah were ruled by the same king
divided monarchy: period of time during which Israel and Judah were ruled by different kings
Baal – Canaanite and Mesopotamian god of fertility, rain, and lightning/thunder
Kingship—good and evil.
The prophetic voice as the royal conscience.
Worship—Yahwism vs. Baalism.
Covenant blessings (repentance and restoration) and curses (judgment and exile).
The retelling of the past to inspire hope in the present.
The reigns of David and Solomon idealized.
The centrality of worship.
The validation of the priests and Levites as community leaders
Discussion Forum Question: READ 1 Kings 18:17 – 19:3
Please respond to the following questions in 150 – 250 words:
Given what Baal was the god of (See above), what does it say to you that Elijah challenged the Baal prophets to a battle of the gods that involved calling lightning down from the heavens? What did you make of Elijah’s taunting of the Baal prophets?
What does this passage communicate to you about the relationship between the prophets and the monarchy (King Ahab and Queen Jezebel representing the latter and Elijah the former)? Why do you think Elijah fled following such a big victory against the Baal prophets?
How does this relate to you?
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