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(a) The author's own statements refute the supposition that one larger work, forming a whole in itself, was his chief authority. The chronicler who wrote much later, refers indeed often to the “ book of the acts of the kings of Judah and Israel ; ” but our author does not do so in one of the thirty-four passages where he quotes his authorities, but he always either names the book of the kings of Judah or that of the kings of Israel. Thus he had two separate, independent books before him, for the very nature of the case required that the history of the two separated kingdoms should be separately designated. But even granted that the three ind, so accurately distinguished from each other, were only one larger work, we should then have to ask when it was written, what author wrote it, and from what sources it was derived. As in 2 Kings xxiv. 5 only the book of the Kings of Judah is quoted, the former could not have been written till after the time of Jehoiakim; but against this there are the above-mentioned references made by the chronicler to the separate writings of earlier prophets and seers. The author of the “ larger work” (whoever he might have been) is supposed to have used the official yearly records of both kingdoms;" but the grand question is, whether there were any such records, and particularly in the kingdom of Israel. But if the three Dined are taken to mean the larger work, the official yearly records cannot be meant at the same time; thus no reference can have been made to them.
() That our author should have used an extract from the larger work as well as the work itself, is an extraordinary assertion, which no one thought of making till now. He certainly needed no such extract, as, being in possession of the larger work, he could have made an extract himself, and could get nothing from any such, made by another, that was not to be found in the work itself. But if he had, as proved, two separate D'nod before him, the book of the kings of Judah and that of the kings of Israel, there must have been two extracts, one having been made in each kingdom, and this no one can or will accept. The attempt to determine accurately what belongs to the larger work, what was taken from the extract, and what was the author's own, is, to say the least, very adventurous, and rests alone upon a purely subjective judgment, i. e., is more or less arbitrary. Why, for instance, should not the brief summary statements made in 1 Kings xv. about some kings, be taken from the extended authority cited, which is also quoted in every case, but be borrowed from the supposed extract? Why should the sentence in 1 Kings xiv. 21,“ in the city which the Lord did choose out of all the tribes of Israel to put His name there,” not belong to the authority used, but have been inserted by the author himself? Why should the same be the case with chap. xv. 4, 5 ?
(©) The distinction between “truly historical” and “traditional ” component parts, each of which is said to have its peculiar sources, is founded on the presupposition that every account in which a miracle, or the fulfilment of a prophecy, in fact anything out of the ordinary course of history, is recorded, cannot be historical, but is “legendary.” But those narratives are so closely connected with such as are admitted to be “truly historical,” that they can only be forcibly separated from the context and laid to a separate “traditional” documentary source. Why, for instance, should the sections 1 Kings x. 1-13 and xi, 1–13 not be historical, but the first be derived from a written and the latter from oral tradition? Why should 1 Kings xx. 1–34 belong to the supposed larger historical work, and vers. 35 to 43, on the contrary, to the so-called prophet-mirror; in the same way 2 Kings iii. 4-27 to the former, and 2 Kings vi. 24-vii. 20 to the latter? Why should everything in the great section 2 Kings xviii. 13-xx. 19 (Isai. xxxvi. 39) be historical, and only the midway verses of 2 Kings xix. 35-37 (Isai. xxxvii. 36–38) have been taken from another and a traditional source ?
(d) There is nowhere the slightest trace in the Bible of a particular book that was used
a prophet-mirror.” If the author cites one of his three authorities in writing of kings of whom there was but little to say (1 Kings xvi. 15; 2 Kings xv. 13), he would certainly not have omitted to give his authority, if he had one, in the important and deeply-interesting history of the great prophets. Apart from this, too, the supposition of such “ a book, compiled for pupils of the prophets,” is contrary to the sense and spirit of Hebrew antiquity. The old prophets felt themselves indeed called on to record the history of Jehovali's people; but
it never entered their minds to compile a book of instruction or examples for their pupils, in order to lead them to “the most implicit obedience.” Modern times, indeed, require instruction for the performance of the spiritual office, &c. ; but antiquity had no such books. If the three documentary sources were, as we have proved, coliections made from writings that were contemporary with or made soon after the a'x') who lived during the events, all the gections that are said to belong to the supposed prophet-mirror might easily have been drawn from them.
UNITY AND INDEPENDENCE.
If any book of the Old Testament forms a complete and independent whole, the books of Kings, which afterwards and erroneously were divided into two books, are such, notwith standing their character as compilations. This is apparent in their beginning and conclusion, which are the limits of a certain period of the Old Testament history. They begin with the reign of the most glorious king, for whom the building of the temple was reserved, and they end with the ruin of the whole kingdom, and the destruction of that temple. It is plain from 1 Kings vi. 1 that a former period of the history of Israel terminates with the building of the temple, and a new one begins : “In the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month Zif, which is the second month, he began to build the house of the Lord.” Why a new period began with the building of the temple by Solomon, is shown in the following passages : 2 Sam. vii. 8–16; 1 Kings v. 3, 4; 1 Chron. xvii. 7-12; xxii. 8-11. The period from the exodus from Egypt to Solomon was the time of wandering (of the “Tabernacle"), of war, and of disturbance; even David was the “man of war." With Solomon, the “man of quiet and peace,” the period of full and quiet possession of the promised land, and the period marked by Jehovah's “house," began. With Solomon, also, the “house” of David, i. e., David's dynasty, to whom the kingdom was promised forever, first really began (2 Sam vii. 13; 1 Chron. xvii. 14). This period continues then fill the ruin of David's house, which is also the ruin of Jehovah's house, and with this our books conclude (2 Kings xxv).
The unity and independence of these books is shown, not only in their style, but in their contents also. Even De Wette confesses (Einl., 8. 239): '“a certain unity is manifest in matter, style, and manner of exposition, from beginning to end ;” and Thenius says (a. a. 0., 8. 1): “There are remarks scattered up and down the whole that are all written in one spirit, and are found in no other historical book, as in the books of the Kings (certainly not in the books of Samuel).” A peculiar style and method of historical writings prevails, and such as we find nowhere else. The time of the beginning of each reign and its duration are first stated in the history of each king, then his general character is given, next an account, more or less full, of his acts, after that the date of his death and burial, and finally mention is made of the authorities used. Some forms of expression are indeed employed (in the extracts) which do not belong to the time of their composition, but to a later period (Stähelin, Krit. Untersuch, 8. 150 sq.); but they only prove “that the author not only often quoted his authorities, but used them with some freedom" (Thenius).
The arbitrary designation of the books of Samuel as the first and second books of the Kings by the Sept. and the Vulgate (see $ 1) may have occasioned the assertion of recent critics, like Eichhorn and Jahn, that both works are by the same author, and properly belong together. Ewald goes still farther; according to him, the books of Judges, Ruth, Samuel, and Kings, are, in their present form, one connected whole, by one author, whom he asserts was the last of five consecutive elaborators on the existing authorities. But all that distinguishes our books from the other historical ones of the Old Testament so clearly, applies to the books of Samuel also. Here all the chronological data that are so carefully repeated with each king, in our books, are completely wanting, as are also the usual expressions descriptive of char
acter and mission. The narrative is much more minute, simply strung together without always preserving chronological order; as, for instance, the entire section 2 Sam. xxi.-xxiv, which is a sequel to David's history. The first two chapters of our books have been especially adduced, as an unmistakable continuation of 2 Sam. xx. 26, and showing the same author's style of narration. These chapters, however, are inseparably and closely connected with the three following; they form the indispensable introduction to Solomon's accession, and arc, on the other hand, separated from 2 Sam. xx. 26 by the supplement in 2 Sam. xxi.xxiv. But the similarity of the style is easily explained by the consideration that they were all derived from a common source (1 Chron, xxix, 29). The similarity of some narratives and modes of expression has also been alleged; but it is difficult to perceive what likeness Ewald can find between Abiathar's banishment (1 Kings ii. 26) and the rejection of Eli's house (1 Sam. ii. 35); between the elevation of Jehu to be king (2 Kings ix. 89.) and that of Saul (1 Sam. ix. sq.). It is just so with 1 Kings iv. 1-6, and 2 Sam. viii. 15 to 18; there the chief officers of Solomon are given, and here those of David also ; but neither the offices themselves, their order, nor the persons, are the same. Neither do the following passages : 1 Kings ii. 11 comp. with 2 Sam. v. 5, and 1 Kings ii. 4; v. 17 to 19; viii. 18, 23 comp. with 2 Sam. vii. 12-16, prove the identity of the author; they only show, what is already clear, that our author knew the books of Samuel, which were written before his time. Least of all should the phraseology in 1 Sam. xxv. 22 and 1 Kings xiv. 16; xvi, 11 ; xxi. 21; 2 Kings ix, 8 be adduced as proof that the author is the same. It is very natural “that an Israelite who was no doubt intimately acquainted with the documents of his people, should often involuntarily use expressions from memory” (Thenius).
The question of the credibility of these books concerns not so much themselves as the authorities from which they were compiled. But as these were, as $ 2 shows, composed by prophets who were contemporaries of the events described, they are at least as much to be relied on as the pretended annals written by court-historiographers, and therefore accredited. The constant citation of the original documents presupposes that they were accounted regular historical authorities, not only by the author himself, but also by his readers, and the whole people; in fact, by reference to them he guards against every suspicion of relating fiction or doubtful facts. That he carefully and conscientiously chose his matter, is shown especially by all those sections which are parallel with others in Isaiah, Jeremiah, or the Chronicles, though not borrowed from them, but taken from the common source now no longer extant. The accuracy of the dates, which is the basis of historical writing, is evidence of the credibility of the narrative. But besides this there are many precise, genealogical, geographical, and statistical remarks, as well as numerous characteristic traits of individuals, which could not be fictitious, and bear the unmistakable impress of truth. An historical book would scarcely have been placed in the Canon and among the Dix?], if it had not been universally esteemed as the true history after the original documents were lost.
While Eichhorn (Einl. § 486) recognized the “perfect credibility” of our books, recent critics have only partially and conditionally admitted it. They assert that these books contain“ myths” as well as authentic information (De Wette); stories, therefore, which are only the clothing of religious ideas and doctrines, and having no real historical foundation : or else they say that whole sections, especially those relating to the lives and deeds of the prophets, have a “ fabulous character” (Thenius); that they are not without historical foundation and substance indeed, but yet are more or less colored and embellished. No books, however, are more free than these, from myths. They do not deal with a prehistoric time, but with a comparatively late historical period, and their design is to give history, and nothing but history, not religious ideas or doctrines in the dress of fictitious history. The history they relate is indeed, in its nature as a part of the history of God's people, of a religious kind, but is not on
that account fiction, but is history in the truest and fullest sense of the word. The idea of mythical ingredients has very rightly been abandoned of late, but a fabulous character has been the more insisted on. Proceeding from negative-dogmatic presuppositions, they endeavor to prove, as already remarked above, $ 2, that every miracle and every prophecy belongs to the province of fable. But miracles form (comp. for instance 1 Kings xviii.) the very central point of this history, which is indisputably true in all other respects, and admitted to be such; they must therefore fall or stand along with it. In fact, what is stated to be fabulous in these books is so interwoven with what is admitted as historical, that they can only be arbitrarily separated; and every attempt to decide where history ceases and fable begins, appears arbitrary and vain. To set forth the miraculous in the history of the old covenant as unhistorical, is to deny that there was a divine revelation in it; it is rooted in the election of Israel, from among all people of the earth, to be a peculiar people (Ex. xix. 3–6), i. e., the guardians of the knowledge of the one God and His revelations. This election is, as Martensen aptly terms it (Dogmatic, 8. 363), the “fundamental miracle which no criticism can explain away,” because it is a world-historical fact. The prophets stood alone in Israel, as Israel did among all nations of the earth; all their great and extraordinary deeds and announcements were inseparably connected with their peculiar vocation. They themselves were a greater miracle than all the miracles they performed, as Christ was himself the greatest miracle, and all his wonderful deeds were rooted in the miracle of His own person and mission. Neither were the deeds of the prophets mere wonderful sights caused by divine power, but “signs” (nix), that pointed to higher things, and real evidences of the man of Jehovah, working through the prophets. That which has been adduced against passages in our books, which do not harmonize with, or which are in direct contradiction with, each other, and tell against its complete credibility, does not amount to much. We refer, also, in this respect, to the commentary upon the passages in question.
OBJECT AND CHARACTER.
As the book was written during the second half of the captivity, and the prophetic writer himself was living among the exiles ($ 1), it is plain that the work must bear the stamp of such extraordinary times and especially refer to them. It was not the author's object to write a historical work that should enrich the Hebrew literature; but he had rather a peculiar object in view, and one that bore upon the times he lived in. No time was so fitting as that of the captivity, to hold before the captive and deeply-humbled people the mirror of their history from the most prosperous period of the kingdom under Solomon to its fall. Such a history would necessarily show them the ways by which their God led them, as well as their great guilt and their fall; and also convince them that the only way to deliverance and freedom, was that sincere penitence and conversion to the Lord their God, and firm adherence to the broken covenant and the promises therewith connected. It was the object of the author to awaken and strengthen this conviction. Now the three prophetico-historical collections that he used, were accessible also to others, otherwise he could not have referred his readers to them so constantly. But it seems, from the formula with which he does so, that they were very minute and voluminous, which must have made their general circulation in the time of the captivity very difficult, or almost impossible. Hence the author undertook to make extracts from them, choosing those events that served the object he had in view. It is very clear that such an historical work was much needed at that particular time.
The style of the history exactly corresponds with the design. The work is anything but a string of historical facts without any plan; on the contrary, the author proceeds from a fixed principle, to which he adheres to the end, through the choice as well as arrangement of the historical matter, and so firmly, that his work bears the character of a pragmatic historical com. position more than any other historical book of Scripture. This principle is the fundamental idea of the entire old covenant-the election of Israel from all nations to be a peculiar people
(Ex. xix. 3–6); the fundamental law of this election, i.e., the covenant, declares: “I am the Lord thy God which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt (i. e., made thee an independent people). Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, nor any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them, for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments” (Ex. xx. 2–6). This supreme commandment of the covenant lies at the root of the author's historical view and representation. According as the historical facts are directly or indirectly connected with it, he relates them more or less in detail; what is utterly disconnected with it he passes over entirely. To him idolatry and image-worship are the sin of all sins, because they destroyed what alone made Israel a peculiar and independent people, chosen from among all nations, and also destroyed its world-historical destiny. All evil, even the ruin of the entire kingdom, was the natural consequence of contempt and transgression of that chief and fundamental law, as; inversely, all good and every blessing followed adherence to the same. The author himself alludes to this fundamental idea in the long reflections which he makes after the ruin of the kingdom, 2 Kings xvii. 7 sq., and it appears here and there throughout the whole work. David is a pattern for all the kings of God's people, not because he was morally free from blame, but because he held to this fundamental law in every situation, and never departed from it one iota ; the promise was therefore given him: “Thine house and thy kingdom shall be established forever before thee; thy throne shall be established forever” (2 Sam. vii. 16; comp. 1 Kings viii. 25; ix, 5; xi. 36, 39; 2 Kings viii. 19). This is the reason also that he is so often alluded to in the words : " as his father David,” or “he walked in the ways of his father David” (1 Kings iii. 3, 14; ix. 4; xi, 4, 6, 33, 38; xiv. 8; xv. 5, 11; 2 Kings xiv. 3 ; xvi. 2; xviii. 3 ; xxii. 2), or : "for David thy father's sake” (1 Kings xi, 12, 13, 32, 34; xv. 3; 2 Kings viii. 19; xix. 34 ; xx. 6). David, when dying, exhorts his successor with the most impressive words, above all, to hold fast to the fundamental law (1 Kings ii. 3 82.). But when Solomon permitted idolatrous worship in the latter part of his reign, the kingdom was rent from him, " because he had not kept Jehovah's covenant” (1 Kings xi. 9–13). Disregard of the covenant was the cause of the partition of the kingdom, and, in so far, the germ of its destruction. From the time of the partition, the account of every single king of Judah and of Israel begins with the general characteristic: “He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord” (1 Kings xv. 11; xxii. 43; 2 Kings xii 3; xiv. 3; xv. 3, 34; xviii. 3; xxii. 2), or : “He did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord” (1 Kings xv. 26, 34; xvi. 19, 25, 30; xxii. 53; 2 Kings iii. 2 ; viii. 18, 27; xiii. 2, 11; xiv. 24; xv. 9, 18, 24, 28; xvi. 2; xvii. 2; xxi. 2, 20; xxiii. 32, 37; xxiy. 9, 19). This does not say whether a king lived morally and virtuously, but whether he kept the covenant and first fundamental commandment faithfully; that was the chief thing, and determined the character of his whole reign. The author applies this unfailing test to the conduct of all the kings, as well as of the whole people (1 Kings xiv. 22; 2 Kings xvii. 7, 19). But there is something more. That the kingdom should always remember its duty, not to swerve to the right or left from the fundamental law (Deut. xvii. 19, 20), the prophetic institution came into being, the mission of which was to watch over the keeping of the covenant, to warn against all manner of apostasy, and whensoever it appeared, to exhort, to threaten, and promise. The history of the activity of the prophets is therefore intimately connected with that of the kings, and is, in fact, a part which serves to complete the same. The author could not then avoid bringing the history of the most influential prophets into his history of the kings; had he not done so he would have been guilty of a great omission. And when he, though himself of the tribe of Judah, principally describes, after the captivity, the history of the kingdom of Israel, the reason is no doubt this: that the kingdom, from the beginning of its existence, had completely broken the chief covenant-commandment, and persisted in so doing; and therefore that the contest for it and for theocracy generally was carried on by the prophets principally, until the entire people of the ten tribes was undone forever.