Lesson 1 of 5
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Summary of 2 Kings


Second Kings continues the story where 1 Kings left off. Chapters 1-2 complete the presentation of Elijah’s prophetic ministry. Chapters 3-9 depict the ministry of Elijah’s successor, Elisha. Chapters 9-10 relate the defeat of Baal that occurred in Jehu’s purge and the end of the Omride dynasty. Athaliah’s seizure of the Judean throne and the restoration of Davidic rule under Joash are recounted in chapters 11-12. The rest of 2 Kings details the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel to Assyria in chapters 13-17, followed by the fall of the southern kingdom of Judah to Babylon in chapters 18-25 despite the righteous reigns of Hezekiah (chapters 18-20) and Josiah (chapters 22-23).


Second Kings uses the history of the kings of Judah and Israel to explain the destruction of Jerusalem to those experiencing exile in Babylon in the hopes that they might gain a new self-understanding. It is a story of the monarchy’s failure and deserved judgment. But it is also a story of God’s unrelenting commitment to his people through divine words of hope, judgment, summons, and warning, as God seeks to maintain God’s covenantal relationship with the people. We, too, need to hear that a patient and merciful God awaits our response and listens to our prayers.


Second Kings is the twelfth book in the Old Testament, immediately after 1 Kings and before 1 Chronicles.


Ancient tradition identifies Jeremiah as the author of 1 and 2 Kings. Today, many scholars believe that 1 and 2 Kings are the concluding part of the Deuteronomistic History and that various older traditions have been gathered together and edited by a nameless exilic editor or editors.


The final event recorded in 2 Kings occurred in 561 B.C.E. Since the return from Babylon (538 B.C.E.) is not recorded, one assumes that–as part of the Deuteronomistic History–2 Kings reached its final form sometime between these dates during the Babylonian exile.


Second Kings is a continuation of 1 Kings that seeks to answer the questions of God’s people living in Babylonian exile by presenting an interpretation of the history of Israel and Judah through the lens of the theological tenets of the book of Deuteronomy. It suggests that their plight was not due to the failure of God’s promise to David. Rather, their own failure regarding such matters as worship outside the central sanctuary, idolatry, and other covenant violations brought about their destruction at the hands of Assyria and Babylon.


Second Kings looks like a history of Judah, the southern kingdom, and Israel, the northern kingdom. While important historical information is presented, some of it is at odds with the presentation found in 1 and 2 Chronicles. Both Chronicles and Kings should be read as theological, rather than historical, presentations of the years of the monarchy. Kings is designed to demonstrate the reasons for the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel in 722/721 B.C.E. and Judah’s exile to Babylon in 587/586 B.C.E.