First Kings carries the narrative of the history of the monarchy from the last days of David (c. 965 B.C.) to the death of Ahab (c. 853 B.C.). Among the highlights of this turbulent century are the economic grandeur and spiritual decadence of Solomon’s reign, the division of the kingdom by Rehoboam and Jeroboam, and the exploits of Elijah climaxed by his victory over the prophets of Baal in the contest on Mt. Carmel. Always a fertile source of preaching materials, I Kings at present deserves even closer attention in view of the increased light shed on its pages by archeological discoveries, historical research, and sociological insights.

Date, Authorship, Composition

The earliest date for the completion of the books of Kings is set by the description of Jehoiachin’s release about 560 B.C. (2 Kings 25:27–30). However, the bulk of the material was probably compiled and edited in the last years of the Southern Kingdom which fell in 587–586 B.C.

The highly stylized presentation of the history and the uniform theological outlook throughout the books seem to reflect the hand of a single compiler. The emphases on the ministry of Elijah, Elisha, and other prophets, along with the general prophetic tone of the editor, has caused many ancients and some moderns to single out Jeremiah as the compiler. Exact identification is impossible, but it is safe to say, with Driver, that the author was a “man like-minded with Jeremiah, and almost certainly a contemporary who lived and wrote under the same influences.” The impact of Deuteronomy on the compilers of Judges, I and II Samuel, and I and II Kings has often been pointed out. One can acknowledge that the former prophets bear the stamp of men influenced by the speeches of Deuteronomy without ...

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