1. Book of Kings

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Nevi'im (prophets) of the Tanakh
Front prophets
Rear prophets
Old Testament history books

Names indented after the ÖVBE
: Deuterocanonical (Catholic and Orthodox) or Apocrypha (Protestant)

The 1st Book of Kings (abbreviated 1 Kings ) is a book of the (Jewish) Tanach and the (Christian) Old Testament . In the Eastern Churches it is called Third Book of Kingdoms . Originally, in the eventful history of its creation with its multiple revisions, the 1st and 2nd book of kings (2 kings) form a unit , so only one biblical book. When describing the genesis and its theological content, it makes sense to look at the two books together.

The book tells the story of the elderly King David and his son Solomon, who succeeded him to the throne of Israel, as a wise judge who passed “ Solomon's judgments ”, brought prosperity to the kingdom and a long, 40-year period of peace ( Shalom - Solomon / Peace) and built the first temple for Israel on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem . After Solomon's death, the kingdom that had existed since David was divided into a northern kingdom (Israel) and a southern kingdom (Judah). Kings come and go, the prophets Elijah and Elisha appear. The first book of kings ends - somewhat abruptly - with Ahaziah , the son of Ahab , becoming king over Israel and, like his father, serving the god Baal and not YHWH .

Division and designation of the Book of Kings

The conclusion of 2 Kings (25: 27-30 ELB ) suggests that the two books of kings are only one book. This is also evidenced by the caesura (after 1 Kings 22.54  ELB ) at the end of Book 1, which is not justified by the narrative, since here the story of Ahaziah of Israel is divided into two parts (1 Kings 22.52-54 ELB and 2 Kings 1.1–18  ELB ) is interrupted.

This division of the book of kings can be found for the first time in the 3rd / 2nd century BC among the translators of the Septuagint (LXX), where, as with the Book of Samuel , it was motivated by the size of the scrolls . The fact that the books of kings originally formed a unit is proven by the information on the number of biblical books in Flavius ​​Josephus (Ap. 1,8) and in the Babylonian Talmud (BB 14b). The division of the Septuagint was later in the Vulgate and in the 15./16. It was incorporated into the Hebrew Bible in the 19th century .

In the LXX, the Samuel and Kings books (1 Sam, 2 Sam, 1 Kings and 2 Kings) are referred to as the four books of the royal rule (or kingdom) (1st to 4th book). This name was adopted by the Eastern Christian churches and also by the Vulgate.

Classification of the book in the biblical canon

The Hebrew Tanakh counts the books of kings among the books of prophets ( Nevi'im ), while in the Christian canon of the Old Testament it is classified in the books of history. The Tanach differentiates between the “front” and the “rear” prophets. He counts the books Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings among the front prophets, the rear prophets are the books Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel as well as the prophets of the Dodecapropheton .

First of all, the Book of Joshua deals with the conquest of the Twelve Tribes of Israel . This is followed by the time of the judges and then the time of kings, which for Israel and Judah in the year 587 BC. BC ends with the Babylonian exile in the catastrophe. The time of the monarchy in Israel or Judah, which is described in the Samuel and Kings books, lasts about 400 years, starting with the kings Saul (around 1020 BC), David and Solomon . In 926 BC The empire is divided into northern and southern empires (Israel and Judah), and 722 BC. The northern kingdom goes under. The kingdom of Judah lasted until King Jehoiachin , who died in 587 BC. Chr. Including the upper class must go into exile.


The three main sections

The books of kings begin in the first part with the elderly King David, whose son Solomon follows him on the throne. After Solomon's death, the second main part tells the story of the separate kingdoms. In the third part the story of the kings of Judah (southern kingdom with Jerusalem) is dealt with, which ends (in 2 Kings 25.30  ELB ) with the pardon of Jehoiachins.

Each of the three main parts contains a frame and key words or leitmotifs that structure the book.

1. History of Solomon (1 Kings 1,1 ELB - 11.43 ELB )
Framing: King David was old ... (1 Kings 1,1 ELB ); Solomon slept with his fathers (1 Kings 11:43 )
Leitmotifs: Anointing of Solomon; Solomon sat on his throne; rule was firmly in his hand.
2. History of the separate kingdoms (1 Kings 12.1 ELB - 2 Kings 17.41 ELB )
Framing: Rehoboam is to become king over Israel; What the fathers did, the children do too
Leitmotifs: The sin of Jeroboam I ; The cult of heights
3. History of the kings of Judah (2 Kings 18.1 ELB - 25.30 ELB )
Framing: Hezekiah became king of Judah; Jehoiachin is pardoned.
Leitmotifs: He did what pleases the Lord; He did what displeased the Lord.

The parts relating to the undivided kingdom and the kingdom of Judah show strong parallels to the first half of the 2nd Chronicle , but in terms of content they are noticeably more critical.


1. Story of Solomon (1 Kings 1,1-11,43)

chapter Heading according to the Elberfeld Bible
1.1-10 ELB Adonija's attempt to become king
1.11 to 40 ELB Solomon's anointing as king
1.41 to 53 ELB Adonija's submission
2.1-12 ELB David's last will and death
2.13-46 ELB Solomon's judgment on Adonija, Abiatar , Joab and Shimei
3.1-15 ELB Solomon's Marriage - His Prayer for Wisdom - God's Promise
3.16-28 ELB Solomon's Wise Judgment - Solomon's Judgment
4.1-20 ELB Solomon's officials and servants
5.1-14 ELB Solomon's power and wisdom
5.15-32 ELB Solomon's contract with Hiram - preparations for building a temple
6.1-37 ELB Solomon's temple building
7.1-12 ELB Solomon's palaces
7.13-51 ELB Temple furnishings
8.1-66 ELB Temple consecration - Solomon's address, prayer and festival offering
9.1-9 tbsp God's answer to Solomon's prayer
9.10-28 ELB Solomon's gift to Hiram - Solomon's forced laborers, fortresses, storage cities and shipping
10.1-13 ELB The Queen of Sheba at Solomon
10.14-29 ELB Solomon's wealth
11.1-13 ELB Solomon's polygamy and idolatry
11: 14-43 ELB Solomon's adversary and death

2. History of the separate kingdoms (1 Kings 12: 1 - 2 Kings 17.41)

chapter Heading according to the Elberfeld Bible
12.1-25 ELB Rehoboam's folly -  division of the kingdom - Jeroboam
12.26-33 ELB Jeroboam's idolatry
13.1-34 ELB Prophecy against Jeroboam by the man of God from Judah - disobedience and death of the prophet
14.1-20 ELB Ahijah's threat of judgment against Jeroboam and his end
14.21-31 ELB Rehoboam of Judah
15.1-8 tbsp Abijah of Judah
15.9-24 ELB Asa of Judah
15.25 to 32 ELB Nadab of Israel
15.33 ELB -16.7 ELB Basha of Israel
16.8-20 ELB Ela of Israel and the Simris conspiracy - Simri's end
16.21-28 ELB Omri of Israel
16.29 ELB -17.1 ELB Ahab of Israel - His idolatry and Elijah's threat of judgment
17.2-24 ELB Elijah at the river Krit and in Zarpat
18.1-20 ELB Elias meeting with Obadja and Ahab
18.21-46 ELB Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel
19.1-18 ELB Elias flees from Jezebel and meets God at Horeb
19.19-21 ELB Elisha's calling
20.1-30a ELB Ahab's victories over Aram - covenant with the king of Aram
20.30b-43 ELB Ahab's covenant with the King of the Aramaeans - God's threat of judgment
21.1-29 ELB Ahab's act of violence against Nabot - Elijah's speech and Ahab's penance
22.1-28 ELB Ahab and Jehoshaphat's war intentions - prophecy of Micah ( 2 Chr 18,1-27  ELB )
22.29-51 ELB Ahab and Jehoshaphat's common war - Jehoshaphat's salvation and Ahab's death
22.52-54 ELB Ahaziah of Israel
  The continuation of this structure can be found in the article: 2. Book of Kings

The royal representations

The representation of the Israelite and Judean kings has a stereotypical framework that is a characteristic of the type of historiography in the books of kings. This framework is set as a narrative framework around the descriptions of the individual deeds of the kings. Neither with King Saul nor with King David there are already elements of such a frame , but with Solomon (1 Kings 11.41ff. ELB ) the end is framed. Where there are more detailed accounts of the lives of kings ( Jeroboam I , Jehu ), elements of the narrative structure may be missing. In the case of the Judean Queen Atalja , the framework structure is completely absent, which indicates that she is denied the legality of her rule.

Frame of the royal representation (after Zenger, introduction)
Kings of Judas Kings of Israel
Introduction - Synchronic dating - Age at accession to the throne - Duration of reign - Name of the queen's mother - Religious judgment Introduction - Synchronic Dating - Length of Government - Religious Assessment
Conclusion - sources - note of death - burial (place) - successor Conclusion - sources - death note - successor

The representations of the prophets

The different prophets in the book of kings are the admonishers sent by YHWH , who announce to the kings the downfall of their rule and the country. The representation of their appearance or their effect are subject to a certain stereotype, the four design elements of which are word event formula / messenger formula (1), reason (2), threat (3) and fulfillment (4). With the appearance of the prophets theological (see below main points of theology) the functioning of the divine word in history is shown.

In addition to Elijah and Elisha (see below), the following prophets are mentioned in the king books:


Mention in the book of kings: 1 Kings 17-19 ELB ; 21 ELB and 2 Kings 1,1-17  ELB ; also in other biblical books (see article: Elijah ).

The northern prophet Elijah was active during the time of kings Ahab and Ahaziah , i.e. between 870 and 850 BC. He is one of the traveling prophets who are neither associated with a sanctuary nor lived in a community of prophets. There are four stories with a historical background:

  1. The story of drought and rain,
  2. of God's judgment on Mount Carmel ,
  3. of the judicial murder of Nabot and
  4. of the attempted introduction of absolute kingship.

The story of the oracle questioning shows that Elijah did not get through to the royal family with his views .

Elijah defended the basic elements of the YHWH belief: the recognition of YHWH's sole claim to power, the preservation of the rights of the subject (against the king) and the demand to turn to YHWH for health and life concerns. In order to keep faith and the state viable and at the same time to avoid syncretism , he introduces new elements for the faith of the people of Israel:
  1. It is not the god Baal who grants rain and fertility to the land, but YHWH.
  2. Man does not meet God here (anymore) in armed conflicts (Lord of Hosts / YHWH Zebaot / Holy War ) and also not in terrifying natural phenomena (storm, earthquake, fire), but in silence ( contemplation / meditation ).
Theophany on the God's mountain Horeb (1 Kings 19.11-13)
“The Lord said: Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord! And behold, the Lord will pass by. And a great and strong wind, which tore the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces, came before the LORD; but the Lord was not in the wind. But after the wind came an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake came a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a quiet, gentle rustle. When Elijah heard this, he covered his face with his cloak and went out and stepped into the entrance of the cave. ”( Quoted from the Luther Bible 1 Kings 19: 11-13 LUT )


Tradition in the book of kings: 1 Kings 19: 19-21 ELB , 2 KingsELB ; 3.4-27 ELB ; 4.1 ELB -8.15 ELB and 13.14-21 ELB ; Also to be considered is 2 Kings 9 : 1-10  ELB - Jehu's Revolution .

In contrast to Elijah, the northern kingdom prophet Elisha gathered a community of prophets around him, with whom he lived mostly in one place. He was very close to the king and had political influence, which he could use, for example, to help those in need.


There are numerous indications that the Book of Kings went through different stages of creation. The Christian exegetes, however, disagree as to how the formation of the book of kings actually took place.

Some researchers advocate a layered model, according to which the book has been revised in several, chronologically separated layers. Others prefer a block model that aims to identify different editorial blocks in the Bible text. Still others try to combine both models or reject both models.

A temporal classification seems difficult. Years for a first, second and third edition of the book or parts thereof are, for example, 580 (after 586), 550 and 500 BC. Chr. Indicated. The assumed times vary depending on the origin thesis.

A rough classification that can be given as the time frame for the creation of the Book of Kings is the time of exile and the decades after.

Historical context

The stories, narratives etc. of the 1st Book of Kings are historically between the years 960 BC. BC and 840 BC Classify. It should be noted that historians rarely have access to non-biblical comparative material as a source for dating the reigns of kings, for example. The only source material is often the Bible. The editors of the King's Book, whose creation around 550 BC It is to be assumed that it was concerned, this is to be observed, primarily with religious messages and little with the laying down of historical truths. Figures about the age and government data of kings should therefore be viewed critically.

David and Solomon

Reconstruction of the Temple of Solomon ( Paul Volz , Die Biblischen Altert leads, 1914)

See also: Great Davidic-Solomon Empire

  • David : King of United Israel (1008–965 BC)
  • King Solomon : According to biblical traditions, Solomon ruled from approx. 965 BC. Until approx. 926 BC He was the son of King David and his concubine Bathsheba . He succeeded in maintaining and modernizing the great empire created by his father in essential points. To this end, he divided the empire into twelve administrative districts ("Gaue"). His reign is seen in the Bible as a time of legendary peace and prosperity . On tensions and the division of the empire after Solomon's death in 926 BC In addition to the old tensions between the northern and southern tribes, it was mainly Solomon's policy of intransigence towards the Israelites that contributed to the situation . So he not only obliged the subjugated tribes to labor , but also his own people. Whether Solomon is really a historical person or what actually took place as reported from the biblical traditions is still disputed in research. Some theologians read the traditions critically, as do some historians or archaeologists.
  • The Temple of Solomon : The first permanent temple (Solomonischer Tempel), built by Solomon since construction began in 957 BC. Chr. - consecration 951 BC Erected on Mount Moria in Jerusalem with the help of Phoenician builders, was a stone building 60 cubits long, 20 cubits wide and 30 cubits high, surrounded on three sides by side rooms, which, on three floors one above the other, for the preservation of the treasures and Equipment of the temple served.
  • The Queen of Sheba is generally believed to be more of a legendary than a historical figure. She is said to have made a trip to Jerusalem in the 10th century BC, the oldest written record of which can be found in the Bible .

Kings of the Northern Kingdom of Israel

(For a complete list of the 20 Northern Kingdom kings, see: List of the Kings of Israel )

  • 1. Jeroboam I ben Nebat (* 926 BC; † 907 BC) 22 years, 2 years overlap with Nadab
  • 2. his son Nadab (2 years, 1 year overlap with Bascha)
  • 3. Bascha (Baesa) (Hebrew for “ Baal hears”) His reign is not clearly dated. Albright continued his reign between 900 BC. BC and 877 BC Chr. Thiele , however, assumes the period 909 BC. BC to 886 BC Chr. From.
  • 4. his son Ela (2 years, 1 year overlap with Omri and Tibni)
  • 5. Zimbabwe (7 days)
  • 6. Tibni (approx. 4 years; counter-king to Omri)

Omrids :

  • 7. Omri ( Hebrew עָמְרִי) - His rule goes back to the year 876 BC. Chr.-869 BC BC (Albright) or 885 BC Chr.-874 BC Chr. (Thiele) dated.
  • 8. his son Ahab ( Hebrew אַחְאָב, German: "Brother of the Father") was from about 875 BC. BC to 852 BC King of the northern kingdom of Israel . He was killed in the war against the Arameans . (22 years, 2 years overlapping with Ahaziah, 1 year with Joram, 853 BC involved in the Battle of Karkar , Ahab)
  • 9. Ahaziah his son was king of Israel . His reign lasted two years and is dated to 850 BC. Chr.-849 BC BC (Albright) or 852 BC Chr.-851 BC Chr. (Thiele) dated.

Kings (Davidids) of the southern kingdom of Judah

(For a complete list of the 20 kings of Judah see: List of kings of Israel )

  • 1. Rehoboam was from 926 BC. BC to 910 BC The first king of the kingdom of Judah . His father was King Solomon , his mother the Ammonite Naama . After Solomon's death, he failed to preserve the great empire founded by King David . Except for his own tribe of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin , all the tribes fell away from the Davidic royal house and chose Jeroboam as king of the northern kingdom of Israel .
  • 2. Abija (3 years, 1 year overlap with Asa)
  • 3. Asa ( Hebrew אָסָא) ruled for 41 years (from 913 to 873 BC). (1 year overlap with Joschafat)
  • 4. Joschafat (25 years, 4 years overlapping with Joram)
  • 5. Joram (8 years, 1 year overlapping with Ahaziah) his reign is dated to 849 BC. Chr.-842 BC BC (Albright) or 848 BC Chr.-841 BC Dated.
  • 6. Ahaziah (also called Jehoahas) was king of Judah ; his reign, which lasted only a few months, is dated to the year 842 BC. BC or 841 BC Dated.

Priorities of theology

The book of kings is theologically about the unity and purity of the YHWH faith. All non-Yahweh influences are to be kept away from the YHWH cult, and the god YHWH may only be worshiped in the Jerusalem temple. For the deuronomistic editors of the book of kings, this is also the standard for the kings of Israel and Judas. Since these, in addition to YHWH, also address other deities (the names Baal and Asherah stand as a cipher ), they are mostly rejected.

Both the northern kingdom of Israel with its sanctuaries in Bet El and Dan (the "sin of Jeroboam"), as well as the southern kingdom of Judah, which besides Jerusalem also has places of worship at the high-altitude sanctuaries, are doomed.

Judgment consequently breaks in on both realms and they perish. For the southern kingdom, however, there is hope that is based on the behavior of the ideal kings David , Hezekiah and Joschiah . Although they could not avert the judgment for Judah, however, through their loyalty to Jerusalem as the only place of worship, they could avert the ultimate downfall.

The prophets appear as reminders sent by YHWH to show the king and people the right path. They have miraculous powers, and their word comes true, even as they foretell catastrophe par excellence with the fall of the kingdom and state of Israel and Judah.




  • Volkmar Fritz : The first book of kings (= Zurich Bible Commentaries 10.1). Zurich 1996.
  • Volkmar Fritz: The second book of kings (= Zurich Bible Commentaries 10.2). Zurich 1998.
  • Georg Hentschel : 1 Kings. (= The New Real Bible. Commentary on the Old Testament with the standard translation 10) Echter, Würzburg 1984, ISBN 3-429-00904-9 .
  • Georg Hentschel: 2 kings. (= The New Real Bible. Commentary on the Old Testament with the standard translation 11) Echter, Würzburg 1985, ISBN 3-429-00909-X .
  • Ernst Würthwein : The Books of Kings. 1. Kings 1–16. (= The Old Testament German 11.1). Göttingen ² 1985 (1st edition 1977), ISBN 3-525-51148-5 .
  • Ernst Würthwein: The Books of Kings. 1st Kings 17 to 2nd Kings 25 (= The Old Testament German 11.2) Göttingen 1984.
  • James A. Montgomery, Henry Snyder Gehman: A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Books of the Kings. In: The International Critical Commentary. Edinburgh 1951.
  • Martin Noth : Kings. Biblical Commentary, Old Testament. Vol. IX / 1. Neukirchen 1968.
  • J. Gray: I and II Kings. The Old Testament Library. 3. Edition. London 1977.
  • J. Robinson: The First Book of Kings. The Cambridge Bible Commentary on the New English Bible, Cambridge 1972.
  • M. Rehm: The books of kings. Real bible. The old testament. Würzburg 1979/1982.
  • M. Cogan, H. Tadmor: I and II Kings. The Anchor Bible, Vol. 10/11. New York 1988.
  • TR Hobbs: 2 Kings. Word Biblical Commentary Vol. 13. Waco 1985.

History of Israel

  • Antonius HJ Gunneweg: History of Israel. From the beginnings to Bar Kochba and from Theodor Herzl to the present (= Theological Science, Vol. 2). 6th edition. Stuttgart etc. 1989, ISBN 3-17-010511-6 .
  • Herbert Donner : History of the people of Israel and its neighbors in outline 1 . (= ATD supplementary series 4/1). 2nd Edition. Göttingen 1995, ISBN 3-525-51679-7 .
  • Herbert Donner: History of the people of Israel and its neighbors in outline 2 . (= ATD supplementary series 4/2). 2nd Edition. Göttingen 1995, ISBN 3-525-51680-0 .
  • Walter Dietrich: The early days of kings in Israel. 10th century BC Chr. (= Biblical Encyclopedia, Vol. 3). Stuttgart etc. 1997.
  • Manfred Oeming : The kingdoms of Israel and Judah in the 9th century BC Chr. (= Biblical Encyclopedia, Vol. 4). Stuttgart etc. 1997, ISBN 3-17-012333-5 .


  • Susanne Otto: Jehu, Elia and Elisa. The story of the Jehu revolution and the composition of the Elijah-Elisha stories . (= Contributions to the science of the Old and New Testament, vol. 152). Stuttgart etc. 2001, ISBN 978-3-17-016764-3 .
  • Rainer Albertz : Elia. A fiery fighter for God. (= Biblical figures 13). Leipzig 2006.

People / important

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ After Herbert Niehr: Zenger, introduction