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Reading Notes on the Books of Kings
(I) The Kingdom Under Solomon (1 Kgs 1:1-11:43)
A The last days of David and the anointing of Solomon (1:1-2:46)
1 Solomon anointed (1:1-53)B Solomon’s accomplishments (3-8)
a David in old age (1:1-4)2 Solomon established (2:1-46)
1:1-4, 15; 2:27, 21-22 Comforted/ nursed by Abishag.b Adonijah’s plot to attempt a coup (1:5-10)
c A plan for Solomon’s accession for fear of Adonijah’s plan (1:11-37)
(i) Nathan tells Bathsheba of Adonijah’s plot (1:11-14), (ii) Bathsheba tells David of Adonijah’s plot (1:15-21), (iii) Nathan tells David of Adonijah’s plot (1:22-27), (ii) David reiterates to Bathsheba his vow that Solomon will sit on the throne (1:28-31), (iii) David commissions Nathan the prophet and Zadok the priest to anoint Solomon as king at Gihon (1:32-37)d Solomon anointed at Gihon (1:38-40)
e Adonijah and co. learn of Solomon’s anointing and depart in fear (1:41-49)
f Adonijah ask for and receives mercy (1:50-53)
a David charged Solomon to obey law (2:1-4), to settle old scores (2:5-9);
David’s death (2:10-11)
b Solomon’s kingdom established (2:12-46)
vision at Gibeon (3)C Solomon’s downfall (9-11)
4:20-28 This passage appears to be intentionally written to reflect the language of the Abrahamic covenant. Esp. compare Gen 15:18; Josh 1:3-4.
vision at Gibeon (9)
(II) The Two Kingdoms of Israel and Judah (1 Kgs 12-2 Kgs 17)
(III) The Kingdom of Judah from Hezekiah to the Exile (18:1-25:30)
A Hezekiah (18:1-20:21)
B Manasseh (21:1-18)
C Amon (21:19-26)
D Josiah (22:1-23:30)
E Jehoahaz exiled to Egypt (23:31-35)
F Jehoiakim and the first Babylonian invasion (23:36-24:7)
G Jehoiachin and the second Babylonian invasion (24:8-17)
H Zedekiah (24:18-20)
I The fall of Jerusalem and the Babylonian exile of Judah (25:1-21)
25:1-22 = Jer. 39:1-10 = Jer. 52:4-27.J Brief (puppet) governorship of Gedaliah and removal of remnant to Egypt (25:22-26)
K Elevation of Jehoiachin in Babylon (25:27-30)
I The Kingdom Under Solomon (1 Kgs 1:1-11:43)
II The Two Kingdoms of Israel and Judah (1 Kgs 12-2 Kgs 17)
III Judah from Hezekiah to the Exile (18:1-25:30)
The storymakers of the book of Kings uses several literary strategies to create narrative unity and interrelationship between its several parts. Some of these distinctive features may come from the editors or redactors and others from the sources. Three of the sources are cited in the text: “the book of the annals of Solomon” (1 Kgs 11:41); “the book of the annals of the kings of Israel” (14:19, etc.); “the book of the annals of the kings of Judah” (14:29, etc.).
(I) The rule of Solomon begins during the life of David, the first two chapters completing the narration of 2 Sam 11-20, with 2 Sam 21-24 providing a set of stories to close the book of Samuel in the text’s present form. The story of Solomon’s rule is narrated thematically presenting an idealized version of the good days in 1 Kgs 3-10 then his moral failures collected together in chapter 11. 1 Kgs 11 is dischronological, however, presenting situations that go across Solomon’s reign.
(II) The story of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah move syncretistically back and forth between the two, dating each subsequent king in relation to the other kingdom. This method creates unsolvable chronological difficulties in places (2 Kgs 1:17 with 31 and 1 Kgs 22:51; and compare 2 Kgs 8:25 with 9:29) and yet causes the stories of the two kingdoms to be interrelated and bound together (see chronological tables below). The stories of the southern and northern kingdoms have distinct characteristics likely due in some measure to the sources used.
First, the southern kingdom had a single dynasty, the house of David, with David providing the standard for the narrator’s relative moral judgments of the kings (see, e.g., 1 Kgs 9:4; 11:4, 6, 33, 38; 14:8; 15:3, 5, 11; 2 Kgs 16:2; 18:3; 22:2). And, the Davidic covenant is often understood as having far-reaching consequences (see, e.g., 1 Kgs 8:20, 25; 11:12-13, 32, 36; 15:4; 2 Kgs 8:19; 19:34; 20:6). Also, the mother of each king is listed.
Second, the stories of the northern kingdom have several different kinds of characteristics. The first four dynasties of the northern kingdom of Israel include prophetic predictions regarding the rise of fall of the respective dynasties. The sequential stories of Israel’s kings are also interrupted several times by stories about Elijah and Elisha which are outside of the narrative sequence proper. Both of these latter features are noted in the outline below. The Elijah and Elisha stories are the most prominent of the storymakers’ focus on prophets and prophetesses (see, e.g., Ahijah, 1 Kgs 11:29-40; 14:5-18; Shemaiah, 12:22-24; Micaiah, 22:8-28; Jonah, 2 Kgs 14:25; Isaiah, 19:1-7, 20-34; Huldah, 22:14-20; as well as various other unnamed prophets). The most significant distinctive is the repeated note concerning each king following in the sinful ways of Jeroboam, even while the kingdom had a series of different dynasties. These notes eventually lead to the narrator’s important summary interpretation of the fall of the northern kingdom, especially blaming the kings for maintaining the worship centers in Bethel and Dan established by Jeroboam (2 Kgs 17). The only two who are not said to sin in accord with Jeroboam are Tibni, apparently because his faction was not legitimate, and Shallum, possibly because his reign was so short, about a month, that he did not even have time for this sin. The narrator’s repetitious use of the comparison to Jeroboam’s sin seems constant and rhythmic, more frequent than positive comparisons to David in the stories of Judah’s kings. It is one of the few things that seems to always be there in the book of Kings: of Jeroboam (1 Kgs 14:16); Nadab (15:26); Baasha (15:34; 16: 2, 7); Elah (16:13); Zimri (16:19); Tibni (n/a see above); Omri (16:25); Ahab (16:31); Ahaziah (22:52); Jehoram/Joram (2 Kgs 3:3); Jehu (10:29, 31); Jehoahaz (13:2); Jehoash/Joash (13:11); Jeroboam II (14:24); Zecharaiah (15:9); Shallum (n/a see above); Menahem (15:18); Pekahiah (15:24); and Pekah (15:28). The pattern is broken, or at least softened with Hoshea—“He did evil in the sight of the Lord, yet not like kings of Israel who were before him” (17:2 NRSV). Is this ambiguity, in defining the sinfulness of the last northern king, meant to create space for hope regarding the northern tribes? The nature of Jeroboam’s sin is important. He rebelled in line with the sin of the golden calf—the wording is identical. Thus, Jeroboam’s sin, and the sin of Israel from first to last was the same old sin the people had always struggled with, the first and second commandments (see 1 Kgs 12:26-30; Exod 32:4-6). This was precisely the problem Joshua warned them about in his final speech (Josh 24).
Israel’s favorite sin is the concluding word of the theological interpretation for the fall of Samaria (see 2 Kgs 17:20-23; cf. 1 Kgs 14:15-16).
Because Kings concludes with Jehoiachin’s release from prison (25:27-30), some have concluded that it was written after this time, perhaps directly after this event. Yet, in several places in Kings uses the phrase “to this day” to refer to certain things that were still to have been in existence (e.g., 1 Kgs 8:8; 9:20-21; 12:19; 2 Kgs 8:22). Such statements have led others to conclude that much of Kings was composed by someone in Judah before the people were exiled (during the reign of Josiah), the events relating to the final years of the kingdom and the exile added later. However, one need not adopt a two-edition theory simply because of the “to this day” phrases. Chronicles, which is a much later post-exilic writing still retains the “to this day” wording (2 Chron 5:9) that was used in the Chronicler’s source (i.e., probably 1 Kgs 8:8).
Two challenges are the relationships between the dynasties of the northern and southern kingdoms in 2 Kgs 9-11 (see diagram), and the relationships of the last kings of Judah (see diagram).
 McKenzie notes that prophets give divine word for the establishment and downfall of the first several dynasties of the northern kingdom, see 1 Kgs 14:7-16 with 15:27-30; and 16:1-4 with 16:11-13; and 21:1-24; and 2 Kgs 9:6-10 with 9:25-26, 36-37; 10:10, 17 ( “The Divided Kingdom in the Deuteronomistic History and in Scholarship upon It,” 61, in Römer).
 See Steven L. McKenzie, “The Divided Kingdom in the Deuteronomistic History and in Scholarship upon It,” 138-39, in Römer.
Also see bibliography on the narratives.
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