In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section First and Second Kings

  • Introduction
  • Annotated Bible Translations
  • Essay Collections
  • Bibliographies
  • Chronology
  • Literary Approaches

Biblical Studies First and Second Kings
Gary N. Knoppers, Jonathan S. Greer
  • LAST REVIEWED: 13 September 2010
  • LAST MODIFIED: 13 September 2010
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195393361-0071


The biblical books of 1 and 2 Kings provide a theological history of the monarchy from the 10th to the early 6th century BCE. There are three major periods depicted: the united monarchy, covering the time from just before the death of David until the division of the kingdom following Solomon’s death (c. 960–931 BCE); the divided monarchy of Israel (in the north) and Judah (in the south), covering the time from the division up to the Assyrian exile of the northern kingdom (c. 931–720 BCE); and the remaining kingdom of Judah, covering the time of the Assyrian exile up to the Babylonian exile of the Judahite kingdom (586 BCE). The books were originally a single work (“Kings”) but were divided into 3–4 Kingdoms in the Septuagint (with 1–2 Samuel as 1–2 Kingdoms). Eventually, this division was also introduced into the Hebrew text during the medieval period. In the Jewish canon, the books are included among the Former Prophets (Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings) and in the Christian canons they form part of the Historical Books (basically, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Samuel, 1–2 Kings, 1–2 Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah, with Judith, Tobit, and 1–2 Maccabees in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox canons). Modern study of Kings is facilitated by the use of a number of helpful overviews, textual analyses, commentaries, ancient Near Eastern comparative studies, and specialized treatments.

General Overviews

More detailed overviews may be found in larger multivolume works (Holloway 1992, Ball 1986) and in some single-volume works (Walsh and Begg 1990, Howard 2007, McConville 2005). Concise overviews may be found in various one-volume works, including McKane 1993 and Nelson 2000. The books of Kings are central to any discussion of the Deuteronomistic history; see Sources and Redaction.

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