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

2 Kings - Introduction

The book of 2 Kings is the continuation of 1 Kings and the final biblical book of the Deuteronomistic * History (see the introduction to 1 Samuel). In some ways the hand of the deuteronomistic author appears more clearly in 2 Kings than in the previous books of the History, partly because the contents of the book are closer to the author's time than is the case with the previous books. Deuteronomistic editing is especially apparent in the evaluations of the kings. The kings of Israel are all condemned for perpetuating the sin of Jeroboam in the shrines he built at Dan and Bethel. Several of the kings of Judah, on the other hand, are viewed favorably, although most of them are accused of failing to do away with the “high places,” * shrines other than the Jerusalem Temple, * which is considered the only legitimate place for worship. The author obviously had access to a king list or perhaps royal annals for information about the kings. In addition, a significant portion of 2 Kings consists of stories about prophets. * There is reason to believe that many of these stories were inserted by a later writer or editor into the already completed Deuteronomistic History.

The Deuteronomistic History was composed in the Exile. * 2 Kings recounts the destruction of Jerusalem and the beginning of the Babylonian captivity. The author struggles to explain the cause for the Exile, blaming it on both Manasseh ( 21.10–15 ) and Zedekiah and his contemporaries ( 24.20 ). Curiously, no attempt is made to explain how the promise of an eternal Davidic dynasty * is to be understood in the light of the Exile. Indeed, the book ends on an ambiguous note. On the one hand, it offers no explicit hope for restoration. On the other hand, the final four verses mention the release from prison of Jehoiachin, the next-to-last king of Judah, and his elevation in the Babylonian court. They therefore hint at a possible restoration of the Davidic monarchy.

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