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1 Kings

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Andrew E. Hill writes: "Given the available evidence, we do best to assign the books of Kings to an anonymous compiler-author of the sixth century B.C. Whether he was a prophet or not is uncertain, but he understood the covenantal nature of Israel's relationship to Yahweh and its implications for Hebrew history. The book was probably composed in Palestine sometime between the fall of Jerusalem (587/586 B.C.) and the decree of King Cyrus of Persia that permitted the Hebrews to return to their homeland (539 B.C.). It is possible that the book was composed in two stages. Most of the history of Hebrew kingship could have been completed between the fall of Jerusalem and the Babylonian reprisal for the assassination of the governor Gedaliah (a third deportation in 582 or 581 B.C., which was described in the first historical appendix, 2 Kings 25:22-26 and Jer. 52:30). The final edition of the work may have been published sometime after the release of King Jehoiachim from prison in Babylon by Nebuchadrezzar's successor, Evil-Merodach (ca. 562/561 B.C., reported in the second historical appendix, 2 Kings 25:27-30). A date of 550 B.C. appears reasonable for the completed Kings record." (A Survey of the Old Testament, p. 204)

Peter F. Ellis writes: "The book was written for the Jews who had witnessed the catastrophe of 587 and for their children whose faith was wavering. It was intended to instruct and encourage them, to elicit from them acts of repentance for their past sins, and to renew their hopes for the future. It was written, in short, to answer the distressing questions raised by the events of 587. Thus, the author instructs the exiles by demonstrating that Israel through her kings had been unfaithful to the covenant, and that God, far from being unfaithful to his part of the covenant, had remained faithful with erring Israel long after Isreal's infidelity had released him from any covenant bonds. He writes, therefore, to convince his people that they and not God have been unfaithful. The author's purpose, however, is not only to instruct but also to encourage. Thus, he returns repeatedly to the promise of perpetuity made to the Davidic dynasty and to the eternal bond between the dynasty, the Temple, and Jerusalem. These promises have never been annulled and it is upon their fulfillment that Israel must place her hopes for the future." (The Jerome Biblical Commentary, vol. 1, p. 179)

The work mentions the "Book of the Acts of Solomon" (1 Kings 11.41), the "Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah" (1 Kings 14:29 and elsewhere), and the "Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel" (1 Kings 14:19 and elsewhere). J. Alberto Soggin writes: "It is obvious that there is no reference here to the book of Chronicles, which the Hebrew Bible places among the Writings, and which the LXX puts after Kings. There is no reason to suppose, as some writers have in the past, that the Pentateuchal sources J and E appear, at least up to I Kings 12; in fact there is no continuous element in the scattered quotations that we have. The one certain thing is that the Deuteronomists, whose work is generally recognized here, even by those who do not accept a continuous Dtr, have worked (as we have said in the previous section) on what are almost certainly official sources, on which they have made an interpretative commentary. The only fragment of any length which survives from these ancient sources is I Kings 4.7-19, which describes the administrative system introduced by Solomon (or perhaps already by David) in the north. But the Deuteronomistic revision is substantial as early as chs. 6-8, which narrate how the temple came to be built, even if there is no reason to doubt the historicity of the facts related. In any case, the first part of the narrative is extremely favourable to Solomon, at some points amounting to adulation, while in the second part it is strongly critical. It notes the progressive degeneration and decadence of the kingdom, seeing religious syncretism as the primary cause but not concealing other causes: unpopular fiscal policy and even harsher forms of tyrrany." (Introduction to the Old Testament, pp. 202-203)

James King West writes: "The parallel history of the two kingdoms (Israel and Judah) is written after the fashion of a man walking, advancing first one foot and then the other. The writer carries forward the story of one kingdom for a number of years, then turns to the other kingdom and traces its history up to and beyond that point, then returns to the former, and so on. Each monarch is accordingly dated by the regnal years of his royal counterpart in the sister kingdom. Stereotyped opening and closing formulas mark the descriptions of each reign. The opening formula includes (1) the date of the king's accession as synchronized with the reign of the rival monarch, (2) the duration of his administration, and (3) the historian's judgment on his reign. For the southern kings there are additional notations regarding (4) the king's age at his accession and (5) the identification of the queen mother. The closing formula consists of (1) a reference to further sources of information about the king, (2) a notice of his death and burial, and (3) the name of his successor." (Introduction to the Old Testament, pp. 196-197)

Jay G. Williams writes: "The criterion [wherein 'the high places were not taken away'] reflects the influence of Deuteronomy, for of all the books of the law only Deuteronomy emphasizes the importance of one central shrine for all Israel. One might also give a pragmatic justification for this seemingly rather peculiar standard of judgment. The existence of several places of sacrifice symbolized, in effect, the political and religious disunity of Israel and Judah. This lack of unity was one of the primary factors which led to the downfall of both. Although the authors show some sympathy for Israel's initial revolt against Rehoboam (I Kings 12:1-24), they place full responsibility for the continuation of the schism upon the northern kings. This book, unlike Joshua and Judges, is written, then, from a Judaen point of view. The authors attempt to explain the reasons for the decline and fall of the Davidic-Solomonic Empire and find them in the twin sins of disunity and idolatry." (Understanding the Old Testament, p. 179)

Samuel Sandmel writes: "Yet the Dueteronomist proceeds to pass a negative judgment on Solomon. He loved many foreign women, even of the proscribed nations. His wives numbered seven hundred and his concubines three hundred. Influenced by these wives, Solomon built altars to their deities, provoking Yahve's wrath, so that kingship was to be taken away from his descendants (11:1-13). Yahve stirred up two foreign adversaries—Hadad, an Edomite (14-22), and Rezon of Damascus (23-5)—and one domestic one, Jeroboam ben Nebat. A prophet Ahijah, encountered Jeroboam, who was to usurp the kingship. Ahijah rent Jeroboam's garment into twelve pieces, giving ten of them to Jeroboam as a symbol of his destiny to reign over ten of the tribes of Israel (26-46). Solomon reigned for forty years and then passed away (41-3)." (The Hebrew Scriptures, pp. 455-456)

P. Kyle McCarter, Jr., writes: "In the final analysis, however, the basic source for the history of this period is the biblical record itself. Because of its long and complex literary history, it must be used very cautiously for historical reconstruction, but when critically interpreted, it provides a fairly clear picture of the sequence of events. Solomon's economic successes were not sufficient to eliminate the regional factionalism that had troubled David's reign (cf. 2 Sam. 20:1-22). When Solomon died in about 930 B.C., the northern tribes refused to accept the rule of his son, Rehoboam, and made Jeroboam, an Ephraimite officer in Solomon's labor force, their king (1 Kings 12). The now independent kingdoms of Israel and Judah endured a period of weakness and intermittent civil war that lasted until the reign of Omri (ca. 876-869 B.C.), who seems to have stabilized Israel and established a rapprochement with Judah." (Harper's Bible Commentary, p. 305)

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