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The Books of Kings (also known as [The Book of] Kings in Hebrew: Sefer Melachim מלכים) is a part of Judaism's Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible. It was originally written in Hebrew, and it was later included by Christianity as part of the Old Testament.
It contains accounts of the kings of the ancient Kingdom of Israel and Kingdom of Judah.
They contain the annals of the Jewish commonwealth from the accession of Solomon till the subjugation of the kingdom by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians (apparently a period of about four hundred and fifty-three years). The books of Chronicles are more comprehensive in their contents than those of Kings. The latter synchronize with 1 Chronicles 28 - 2 Chronicles 36:21. While in the Chronicles greater prominence is given to the priestly or Levitical office, in the Kings greater prominence is given to the royal office.
The authorship, or rather compilation, of these books is uncertain. The sources of the narrative are explicitly given as:
- The "book of the acts of Solomon" (1 Kings 11:41)
- The "book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah" (14:29; 15:7, 23, etc.)
- The "book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel" (14:19; 15:31; 16:14, 20, 27, etc.).
The date of its composition was perhaps some time between 561 BC, the date of the last chapter (2 Kings 25), when Jehoiachin was released from captivity by Evil-merodach, and 538 BC, the date of the decree of deliverance by Cyrus the Great.
Similarities with other Biblical books
There are some portions that are almost identical to the Book of Jeremiah, e.g., 2 Kings 24:18-25 and Jeremiah 52; 39:1-10; 40:7-41:10. There are also many undesigned coincidences between Jeremiah and Kings (2 Kings 21-23 and Jer. 7:15; 15:4; 19:3, etc.), and events recorded in Kings of which Jeremiah had personal knowledge. Because of this, traditionally Jeremiah was credited the author of the books of Kings. An alternative supposition is that Ezra, after the Babylonian captivity, compiled them from official court chronicles of David, Solomon, Nathan, Gad, and Iddo, and that he arranged them in the order in which they now exist.
The two books of Kings comprise the fourth book in the second canonical division of Hebrew Scriptures: in the threefold division of the Tanach, these books are ranked among the Prophets. The present division into two books was first made by the Septuagint, which numbers them as the third and fourth books of "Kingdoms", the two books of Samuel being considered the first and second books of Kingdoms; this numbering was also followed in the Vulgate with 1-4 Kings, but most modern Christian Bibles have two books of Samuel and two of Kings.
The Books of Kings are frequently quoted or alluded to by (Matthew 6:29; 12:42; Luke 4:25, 26; 10:4; comp. 2 Kings 4:29; Mark 1:6; comp. 2 Kings 1:8; and Matthew 3:4, etc.).
Online translations of the Books of Kings:
- Jewish translations:
- 1 Kings at Mechon-Mamre (http://www.mechon-mamre.org/e/et/et09a01.htm) (Jewish Publication Society translation)
- 2 Kings at Mechon-Mamre (http://www.mechon-mamre.org/e/et/et09b01.htm) (Jewish Publication Society translation)
- Melachim I - Kings I (Judaica Press) (http://www.chabad.org/library/archive/LibraryArchive2.asp?AID=15753) translation with Rashi's commentary at Chabad.org
- Melachim II - Kings II (Judaica Press) (http://www.chabad.org/library/archive/LibraryArchive2.asp?AID=15754) translation with Rashi's commentary at Chabad.org
- Christian translations:
- 1 Kings at Bible Gateway (http://www.biblegateway.com/bible?language=English&Version=NIV&passage=1Kings) (various versions)
- 2 Kings at Bible Gateway (http://www.biblegateway.com/bible?language=English&Version=NIV&passage=2Kings) (various versions)
- Books of Kings article (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=226&letter=K&search=Kings) (Jewish Encyclopedia)