Kings First and Second Books of
Kings, First and Second Books of, originally only one book in the Hebrew canon, form in the LXX and the Vulgate the third and fourth books of Kings (the books of Samuel being the first and second). It must be remembered that the division between the books of Kings and Samuel is equally artificial, and that in point of fact the historical books commencing with Judges and ending with 2 Kings present the appearance of one work, giving a continuous history of Israel from the time of Joshua to the death of Jehoiachin. The books of Kings contain the history from David’s death and Solomon’s accession to the destruction of the kingdom of Judah and the desolation of Jerusalem, with a supplemental notice of an event that occurred after an interval of twenty-six years—viz., the liberation of Jehoiachin from his prison at Babylon—and a still further extension to Jehoiachin’s death, the time of which is not known, but which was probably not long after his liberation. The history therefore comprehends the whole time of the Israelitish monarchy, exclusive of the reigns of Saul and David. As regards the affairs of foreign nations and the relation of Israel to them, the historical notices in these books, though in the earlier times scanty, are most valuable, and in striking accord with the latest additions to our knowledge of contemporary profane history. A most important aid to a right understanding of the history in these books, and to the filling up of its outline, is to be found in the prophets, and especially in Isaiah and Jeremiah.
Time when written.—They were undoubtedly written during the period of the captivity, probably after the twenty-sixth year. Authorship.—As regards the authorship of the books, but little difficulty presents itself. The Jewish tradition which ascribes them to Jeremiah is borne out by the strongest internal evidence, in addition to that of the language. Sources of information.—There was a regular series of state annals for both the kingdom of Judah and that of Israel, which embraced the whole time comprehended in the books of Kings, or at least to the end of the reign of Jehoiakim. 2 Kings 24:5. These annals are constantly cited by name as “the book of the acts of Solomon,” 1 Kings 11:41; and after Solomon “the book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah” or “Israel,” e.g., 1 Kings 14:29; 15:7; 16:5, 14, 20; 2 Kings 10:34; 24:5, etc.; and it is manifest that the author of Kings had them both before him while he drew up his history, in which the reigns of the two kingdoms are harmonized and these annals constantly appealed to. But in addition to these national annals, there were also extant, at the time that the books of Kings were compiled, separate works of the several prophets who had lived in Judah and Israel. Authority.—Their canonical authority having never been disputed, it is needless to bring forward the testimonies to their authenticity which may be found in Josephus, Eusebius, Jerome, Augustine, etc. They are reckoned among the prophets, in the threefold division of the Holy Scriptures; a position in accordance with the supposition that they were compiled by Jeremiah, and contain the narratives of the different prophets in succession. They are frequently cited by our Lord and by the apostles.