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ENTERED, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1872, by

SCRIBNER, ARMSTRONG & CO., In the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

JOHN F. Trow, PRINTER AND BOOKBINDIA, 305–213 East rath St.,



The Commentary on the Books of the Kings, published in 1868, was prepared by the Rev. Dr. Bähr, of Carlsruhe, who has been long favorably known as the learned author of the Symbolism of Mosaic Worship (Symbolik des Mosaischen Cultus, Heidelberg, 1837–39, 2 vols., now undergoing a thorough revision), a Commentary on Colossians, a treatise on the Temple of Solomon (1848), and other works.

The translation from the German, with additions, was executed by the Rev. Dr. HARWOOD, of New Haven, Conn., who assumed the First Book, and by the Rev. W. G. SUMNER, Professor in Yale College, who is responsible for the last chapter of the First, and the whole of the Second Book. The textual revision and original grammatical notes on the First Book must be credited to the Rev. Dr. FREDERIC GARDINER, Professor in the Berkeley Divinity School, Middletown, Conn.

In regard to the principles by which he has been governed in his work, Dr. Bähr says, in his preface :

“In accordance with the wisely-chosen aim and plan of the BIBLE-WORK of which this volume forms a part, I have taken especial pains to maintain a strict discrimination between the three sections into which the expository matter is divided. In the first section, the Exegetical and Critical, I have collected all which seemed essential to the explanation of the original text, and to the determination, both of the sense of the words and of their grammatical connection .... As a matter of course, both the other sections are based on the E.cegetical. Nothing can properly be made thic subject of theological discussion or homiletical treatment which does not rest on a firm exegetical foundation. I have, therefore, omitted from the Homiletical section all which, however edifying it might be, in itself considered, had no foundation in the text when this was correctly understood. I have taken the liberty of giving to the second division of the exposition [Doctrinal and Ethical], a wider, though moru exact, title than that which it bears in the other volumes of the BIBLE-WORK The specific, and, in fact, exclusive contents of the historical books is history, not doctrine or dogma; and this history is, moreover, soteriological, that is, it is the history of the redemptive plan of God; the history of the divine revelation, pur pose, and providence; the history of the kingdom of God."


Hence Dr. Bähr gives to this section the title: Heilsgeschichtliche und Ethische Grundgedanken, i.e.: Chief Points in the section of text last preceding) which bear upon the Development of God's Plan of Salvation, or have Ethical Importance. In consequence of the impossibility of embodying this idea completely in a concise and convenient English title, the translators, while fully appreciating and coinciding in the author's intention, have retained the title which is used for the corresponding section of the other volumes, only substituting Historical for Doctrinal.

In regard to the Chronology, Dr. Bähr continues :

“I have adopted a somewhat different method from any yet followed in the treatment of this subject. I start from certain dates which are generally accepted; and which may be fixed with the greatest certainty, and then, by grouping the biblical data into periods which are comprised between these fixed dates, I seek to solve this difficult problem (See Pt. II. pp. 86, 180, 283).”

Professor Sumner has added a brief Appendix on this subject, together with a Chronological Table of the period covered by the Books of the Kings. In Part II. pp. 161, 174, 189, 220, 237, 284 will be found a series of notes on contemporaneous history, so far as it illustrates the references in the text. These notes are based on the results of the latest Assyrian and Egyptian researches.






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The name Disse, which belongs to our books in the Canon of the Old Testament, desigDates (if not imposed by the author himself), briefly and appropriately, the distinguishing contents of this historical work, in contrast with other writings belonging to the same class, the D'IVAT D'X'39, i. e., prophetæ priores. It contains, not so much the history of the theocracy in general, whereto “ the succession of the kings serves only as the visible thread” (Hāvernick), as the history of the Israelitish monarchy from its ripest bloom on to its destruction, in so far as this history constitutes generally an independent portion of the history of the people Israel. The division of our work into two books is not original—it occurs first in the Septuagint. There it is regarded as an immediate continuation of the book Sempu (Samuel), which precedes it in the Canon, and is itself divided into two books, and these four are then designated as Books of the Kings (Bartheluv a. B. 7. 8.), (comp. Origen in Eusebius, Hist. Eccles. vi. 25). This is retained in the Vulgate (comp. Hieron. prolog. galeat.), and came thence, through the printer Dan. Bomberg, in Venice, in the beginning of the sixteenth century, into the editions of the Hebrew Bible. This entire division and designation is just as arbitrary as it is defective. How unfit it is, is shown especially in our own work, the first book of which does not conclude with a paragraph founded in the history itself, but breaks off with a brief account of the reign of king Ahaziah.

The date of its composition is furnished from the conclusion of the work itself, where it is stated that king Jehoiachin was carried away to Babylon in the year 599 B. C., and was held there a prisoner for thirty-seven years—to the year 562—and obtained his freedom from Evilmerodach, the successor of Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings xxv. 27-30). The composition, consequently, cannot be set down before the year 562. But it does not admit of supposition that it took place after the return from the Babylonish exile in the year 536 ; for the author concludes with the deliverance of Jehoiachin as a joyful, hopeful event, and does not utter a syllable about the still more important and joyous matter—the return of the whole people—which is first mentioned in Ezra i. The composition, therefore, is to be assigned to the period between 562 and 536, i. e., during the second half of the exile. But we cannot determine whether it was during the brief reign (two years) of Evil-merodach, or after Jehoiachin's death.

In the Bible itself there is no intimation about the person of the author. The Jewish tradition names Jeremiah. The Talmud says (Baba bathra, f.xv. 1): Jeremias scripsit librum suum et librum regum et threnos. Some of the older theologians, and Hävernick also, have agreed

with this statement; but it is refuted alone from the duration of Jeremiah's life. He began his career as prophet (Jer. i. 2) in the thirteenth year of the reign of king Josiah, and must have been then at least from twenty to twenty-two years old; but since now our books could not have been written before the year 562, he must have composed them when he was at least from eighty-six to eighty-eight years old, which appears all the more incredible since the composition presupposes the employing and the arranging of different older written sources To this must be added that Jeremiah, after the destruction of Jerusalem, went to Egypt (Jer. xliii. 6), and there spent the last years of his life in continuous, grievous conflicts Tt cannot, however, be denied, that in the places especially where the autbor does not report directly from written sources of information, but inserts his own remarks, an in 2 Kings xvii. 8q., his mode of thinking and of expression resembles that of Jeremiah, from which, however, nothing more can be concluded than that the author had been entrusted with the writings of this prophet-was, perhaps, his scholar. Bleek suggests, indeed, Baruch, who apparently had charge of collecting and editing the book of Jeremiah, and added to it the 52d chapter, which is consonant with 2 Kings xxv. But in that case, since Baruch went to Egypt with Jeremiah (see on the place), we must suppose that our history was composed there, which is, in the highest degree, improbable. It can scarcely be doubted, rather, that the author wrote in Babylon. If this be not, with some, susceptible of proof, owing to 1 Kings v. 4, where Palestine is described as lying on the other side of the Euphrates, it is, nevertheless, so much the more certain that the author did not write his work for the little band which fled to Egypt, and was there fallen into idolatry and discord, but for the kernel of the whole people then in exile (see below, $ 5). While Jeremiah announces the ruin of his corrupted fellow-countrymen in Egypt (Jer. xliv. 11 sq.), our author concludes with the deliverance of Jehoiachin promising a better day, and gives, at the same time, details which could have been known only to a contemporary living in the exile; but not then to one who was in distant Egypt. There is an absence of all reference to Egyptian situations and relations, which assuredly would not have been the case had the author and his readers lived in Egypt. After all, we must give up the attempt to designate any particular person as the author. He must have stood high in reputation, anyhow, as is conclusive from the reception of his work into the Canon.

[The prevailing opinion amongst the English seems to be, after Calmet, in favor of Ezra. See Bp. Patrick, Horne, &c. I except Prideaux.-E. H.]

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The author himself states the sources of his historical work, extending over a period of 453 years, viz.:

1) nians 237 D 1 Kings xi. 41. 2) 7727 35 dipin 727 790 1 Kings xiv. 29 ; xv. 7, 22; xxii, 46 ; 2 Kings viii, 23 ; xii.

20; xiv. 18; xv. 6, 15, 36 ; xvi. 19; XX. 20; xxi. 17, 25; xxiii. 28: xxiv. 5. 3) Senim abos Dann 777 70 1 Kings xiv. 19; xv. 31; xvi. 5, 14, 20, 27; xxii. 39;

2 Kings i. 18; x. 34 ; xiii. 8, 12; xiv. 28; xv. 11, 15, 21, 26, 31. Besides these three documentary sources, none else is cited in our books. And since the author refers only to the first, and not to the second or third, for the history of Solomon, and for the history of the kings of Judah only to the second, and for the history of the kings of Israel only to the third, it follows that each one of them was an independent, separate work. The reference is always made with the formula: “ The rest of the acts of the king ... and what he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah (of Israel)?” Thence it follows still farther, that the three documents contained more than the author has incorporated into his work, and were more complete ; and that not only were they in existence at the time our books were composed, but they were in the hands, if not of all,

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