Second Kings is about truth versus falsehood, played out on an international scale. The book opens with the Prophet Elijah being taken to heaven in a chariot of fire and Elisha succeeding him (2 Kgs 2; compare 1 Kgs 19:19–21). The stories of these prophets are intertwined with accounts of the kings of Israel and Judah. Both kingdoms are heading toward disaster. In the northern kingdom of Israel, the kings persistently support idolatry. The southern kingdom of Judah fares only slightly better. Two kings—Hezekiah and Josiah—try to turn the people from idolatry (2 Kgs 18:3–6; 23:1–25), but their reforms are short lived (21:2–9; 23:32, 37).
—Faithlife Study Bible, Lexham Press
Best Commentaries on 2 Kings
Paul R. House, New American Commentary (NAC), B&H, 1995, 410 pp.
Few biblical books are as neglected by the Church as 1 & 2 Kings. There are several reasons for this situation. First, some preachers find it difficult to construct sermons from Old Testament texts. Also, misconceptions about Old Testament history exist, like its supposedly boring and has a nontheological nature. This causes laypersons to question the books' value for devotional readings. Also commentaries on these books often explain chronological and compositional matters without exploring the books' theological and literary richness. These barriers are overcome with this commentary.
- Level: Intermediate
- Type: Expository
Iain W. Provan, Understanding the Bible (UtB), Baker, 2012, 320 pp.
In contrast to literary and historical skepticism about the accounts of Israel and Judah in the divided kingdom, Provan examines 1 & 2 Kings as a unified and historical narrative. He helps the reader see that these books provide insight into the kings and prophets—and teach about God and his ways.
- Level: Basic
- Type: Expository
Donald J. Wiseman, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (TOTC), InterVarsity Press, 1993, 339 pp.Iain W. Provan, Understanding the Bible (UtB), Baker, 2012, 320 pp.
The book of Kings is a unique source for understanding the history of Israel from the last days of the united kingdom under David to the eventual fall of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Presenting Israel's national history from a divine viewpoint, these narratives measure the kings of Israel and Judah not by the mark they leave on secular history but by their "doing what is right in the Lord's sight." Embedded in this story are enduring lessons of the ways of God with his people in every age.
- Level: Basic
- Type: Devotional
T. R. Hobbs, Word Biblical Commentary (WBC), Thomas Nelson, 1985, 387 pp.
Experience the tragic drama of 2 Kings as you follow the long descent of Israel and Judah to the destruction of Jerusalem and Babylonian exile. T. R. Hobbs argues that 2 Kings was intended to review the past but also to point to the promised return to the promised land. He examines the historical context, textual witnesses, theological themes, and literary techniques of the author of 2 Kings. Hobbs outlines the implications of the prophetic witness in post-monarchy Judah and examines the source materials for this dramatic historical book. Organized for easy reference, Word Biblical commentaries make an ideal Bible study companion whether you are studying a single passage or a complete biblical book.
- Level: Advanced
- Type: Technical
Dale Ralph Davis, Focus on the Bible, Christian Focus, 2002, 352 pp.
Second Kings provides a fast-paced narrative of insight into the history of Israel under its monarchy. This book is a continuation of the narrative begun in 1 Samuel and continued through 2 Samuel and 1 Kings. Ralph finishes it off with a captivating and rewarding journey through 2 Kings. Illuminating, accessible, and laced with his unique sense of humor, Davis' practical devotional expository applies events to the contemporary reader providing parallels to alert us in the twenty-first century.
- Level: Intermediate
- Type: Expository
Best Books on 2 Kings
The Old Testament tells the story of a particular nation, ancient Israel, from its origins to its collapse in the face of foreign invaders. But what sort of story is this? How does it fit in with the findings of archaeological explorations of ancient Syro-Palestine? Joshua to Kings picks up the aspects of Israel’s story as told in the books from Joshua to 2 Kings, that of an actual historical society and that of a literary presentation of a nation, told from a religious perspective. By exploring the contents of these biblical texts, the student is led into the use of basic tools for biblical study, such as historical criticism, narrative criticism, and ideological criticism, to engage in a structured manner with the task of reading and interpreting biblical texts in a twentieth-century world.Learn more
Linville argues that a new approach to the book of Kings is needed because of the failings of the usual historical–critical methods. He adopts a holistic approach, which sees the book as a Persian-era text intended to articulate politically and religiously significant symbols within the book’s monarchic history. These express the producer’s reactions to important issues of Jewish identity in the continuing Diaspora and in Jerusalem. In the story of the schisms and apostasies of Israel’s defunct monarchies, both the Diaspora and cultural pluralism are legitimized. Rival versions of Israelite heritage are reconciled under an overarching sense of a greater Israelite history and identity.Learn more
Into the Hands of the Living God is Lyle Eslinger's second study of Deuteronomistic literature. This book is devoted to studies of key texts (Joshua 1–9; Judges 1–2; 1 Samuel 12; 1 Kings 8; 2 Kings 17) or concepts (the success/failure of the conquest; the exile and theodicy) in these narratives. Eslinger's readings are unorthodox and challenging, both for readers from the communities of faith and for critical scholarship. The Deuteronomistic narratives are far from being a vindication of the ways of God at Israel's expense. Rather, in these narratives God, no less than Israel's leaders, has his hands soiled in the machinations that end in Babylon. The Deuteronomistic history offers a dispassionate analysis of the problems, some unavoidable, that predetermined the failure of the covenant relationship. The collection of carefully worked out close readings of the biblical text in this volume provides a new critical vantage point from which one can reassess conventional historical-critical readings of these colorful books.Learn more
The thesis that the books of Deuteronomy to 2 Kings have undergone a redaction that made them into a Deuteronomistic History has become a widely accepted idea in Old Testament scholarship since Martin Noth proposed it in 1943. But there is no consensus when this history was edited: under Josiah (622 BCE), during the exile (c. 560 BCE) or even later? And what was the intention of its redactors? Can we rely on the so-called Deuteronomistic History for the reconstruction of Israelite history? Or should we give up the thesis of a Deuteronomic redaction of the Former Prophets? This volume explores these and many other questions about this key topic in Old Testament scholarship.Learn more
Reinhard Kratz provides an introduction to the narrative works of the Old Testament, explaining their sources and the nature of their composition. In his textual criticism he relies on certain basic assumptions: a distinction between priestly and non-priestly text in the Pentateuch, the special position of Deuteronomy, a Deuteronomistic revision in the books of Joshua to Kings, and the literary dependence of Chronicles on the books of Samuel and Kings. Kratz expects his readers to “look at the texts of the Old Testament” as they read the material presented in his book, especially as he describes the content of biblical passages.Learn more
Best Courses on 2 Kings
Learn what Samuel and Kings say through their own words and through the lens of their original contexts, and discover how they shape discipleship today. This two-course Kings of Israel Bundle will not only enrich your understanding of the Historical Books, it will also improve your exegetical skills. From the birth of Samuel to the exiles of Israel and Judah, these courses explore the textual and theological issues in these historical books.Learn more
Mobile Ed: BI205 Old Testament Exegesis: Understanding and Applying the Old Testament (15 hour course)
Embark on a journey of Old Testament Hebrew exegesis with Jason DeRouchie. The books of the Old Testament were the only Scriptures Jesus had. It was books like Genesis, Deuteronomy, Isaiah, and Psalms that shaped Jesus’ upbringing and that guided his life in ministry as the Jewish Messiah. It was these Scriptures that Jesus identified as God’s Word and that he considered to be authoritative; it was these Scriptures he believed called people to know and believe in God and guarded them against doctrinal error and hell. This course will give you the tools you need to access meaning in the Old Testament, then apply it to your life. It will help you to grow in reading God’s living Word for depth and not just distance.Learn more
Join David W. Baker on a whirlwind tour to explore the Old Testament from many different angles and how it relates to ancient Near Eastern literature. From creation accounts and stories of destruction to Wisdom Literature, discover different biblical literary genres that have parallels in ancient Near Eastern literature. Explore extrabiblical historical texts that mention key events and figures from the Old Testament. Understand how Israel fits into and is impacted by its ancient Near Eastern environment but also how it is separate and unique, mainly on a theological level but also by its distinct worldview.Learn more
In an age of international travel and migration, we’re familiar with people who look, sound, eat, and believe differently than we do. To become friends, it’s helpful to understand where they come from and how they do things differently, or the same, as we do. In the same way it is necessary to understand someone who comes from a different place than we do, how much more necessary is it to understand someone who is from not only a different geographical place but also a different time than we are? The Old Testament starts at the beginning of the world. This course will undertake the task of crossing the bridges of geography, climate, time, and a landscape unknown to us: ancient Israel. Throughout the course, David W. Baker will address aspects of life from our own culture and time, as well as family structure and societal systems from ancient Israelite life. As you learn more about the social world of the Old Testament, you will be struck not only by our differences but also our common humanity and that we share the same dreams, hopes, and fears as they did.Learn more
In this course, ancient-language expert Dr. Michael Heiser gives a thorough background of the Hebrew Bible’s writing, composition, canonicity, and transmission through the ages. This course also surveys text criticism—what are Hebrew scholars today doing with these ancient manuscripts? How does their work affect English translations of the Bible? By understanding criticism, your personal Bible study will be richer, even with little knowledge of the Hebrew language.Learn more