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The Access Bible New Revised Standard Bible, written and edited with first-time Bible readers in mind.

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1 Kings - Introduction

The book of 1 Kings continues the narrative * of 1–2 Samuel. It begins with the account of David's death and the (unexpected) succession of his son Solomon (chs. 1–11 ). The deuteronomistic * author/editor gives a theological explanation (Solomon's sin) for the subsequent division of the kingdom. The account then alternates between kings of Israel and Judah. The Israelite kings are all wicked and continue in the “sin of Jeroboam,” which the writer believes is the idolatry * at Bethel and other places of worship outside Jerusalem. Hence, one dynasty * after another falls. The kings of Judah fare slightly better, but this is mainly because of David's faithfulness and the LORD's promise to him of an enduring “house.” The central part of the book (chs. 12–16 ), therefore, is a little like a list of kings that has been expanded by anecdotes. The final chapters, however, are filled with the fantastic exploits of prophets, * especially of the legendary * Elijah as he confronts his archenemy, Jezebel, the wife of King Ahab.

As with 1–2 Samuel, the final version of 1 Kings was produced in the Exile, * the writer trying to account theologically for the events of Israel's history. The division of the kingdom is the result of Solomon's sin ( 11.32–37 ). The kingdom of Judah lasted longer and was more stable than the kingdom of Israel because of David's loyalty and the LORD's promise. The standard practice whereby the founder of a new dynasty would annihilate the male rivals of the old is also given a theological framework by the author of 1 Kings in a series of prophecies and fulfillments. The stories of the prophets, including most of the ones about Elijah, do not reflect deuteronomistic editing and may have been added later. More than preachers or even oracle * givers, these prophets are miracle-working “men of God” whose stories are comparable to the legends surrounding early Christian saints.

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