2 Kings

Theme: Apostasy and Exile; Key Verses: 2 Kings 17:22-23; 2 Kings 23:27

History of 2 Kings Period

  • The events in 2 Kings begin where 1 Kings ended: with Ahaziah (Israel, 853-852 BC) and Jehoshaphat (Judah, 872-847 BC). The historical narrative ends with Jehoiachin released from prison by Evil-Merodach, king of Babylon, in 560 BC.
  • Solomon’s death (c. 931 BC) ushered in civil war in Israel. His son, Rehoboam, became king. Jeroboam, one of Solomon’s strong and brave men and also Solomon’s chief of labor for the Northern Tribes, led a rebellion against Rehoboam. The result was that Jeroboam became king of Israel or the Northern Kingdom. Rehoboam, became king of the Southern Tribes, Judah and Benjamin.
  • The history of Israel and Judah following Solomon’s death was dominated by evil: evil kings, evil worldview, evil religion, rejection of God’s prophets, and loss of God’s word.
  • Elijah (1 Kings 17 through 2 Kings 2) and Elisha (1 Kings 19 and 2 Kings 2 through 13) sought to stem the tide of apostasy. They served well, but were unable to prevent the decline to exile that was to follow.
  • King Hezekiah (reign 715-686 BC; 1 Kings 18-20) and King Josiah (r. 640-609 BC; 1 Kings 22-23) were the two kings out of the entire history who served the Lord and attempted to reform the life of Judah. They had temporary success.
  • The Northern Kingdom (Samaria was the capital) ended when the Assyrian army defeated Israel in 722 BC. Assyria’s kings at the time were Shalmanesser V (r. 927-722 BC, and the son of Tiglath-pileser III) and Sargon II (r. 722-705 BC).
  • Assyria had a policy of uprooting conquered peoples and resettling them in various parts of her own kingdom and settling foreigners in the conquered lands: thus Israel was scattered and foreigners brought into Israel’s land. Israel’s fate was brought on because of her sin, idolatry, and worldview (2 Kings 17.1-8).
  • The Southern Kingdom ended in 586 BC when the Babylonian army finally destroyed Judah. Babylon’s king was Nebuchadnezzar (r. 604-562 BC). He invaded Judah three times: 605, 597, and 588-586 BC.
  • In 605 Nebuchadnezzar defeated the Jews and took captives to Babylon—Daniel and his three friends are the most well-known. He placed Jehoiakim (r. 605-602 BC) as his vassal king (Daniel 1.1-7; 2 Kings 24.1-9). Jehoiakim died in 602 BC and Jehoiachin (r. 602-597 BC) replaced him (2 Kings 24.1, 6).
  • In 597 BC, Jehoiachin rebelled and Nebuchadnezzar again invaded and took more captives—Jehoiachin and Ezekiel were included (2 Kings 24.10-20; Ezekiel 1.1.-3). Nebuchadnezzar made Zedekiah (r. 597-586 BC) Johoiachin’s uncle, governor over Judah
  • Then in 588-586 BC, after another rebellion—this time by by Zedekiah—Nebuchadnezzar defeated Jerusalem (July 18, 586), burned the temple and Jerusalem (August 15-18, 586). Nebuchadnezzar killed Zedekiah’s sons, blinded him, and took him to Babylon.
  • Nebuchadnezzar made Gedaliah governor and exiled many Jews (2 Kings 25.1-24), but a remnant in Judah. According to Jeremiah 40-44, Jeremiah was allowed to stay in the land. He went to Mizpah to see Gedeliah. Soon the remaining Jewish forces gathered at Mizpah. Gedeliah urged the people to remain in the land and submit to Babylon.
  • Ishmael led a revolt. He assassinated Gedeliah two months later (October 9, 586 BC?). The Jews were afraid that Babylon would strike again, so fled to Egypt (2 Kings 25. 25-26).
  • Jeremiah gives more details. Johanan, one of the field commanders left in Judah, led a military force that retook Ishmael’s captive Judeans (Jeremiah 41.11). Against the advice of Jeremiah and out of fear of Babylon, Azariah and Johanan took Jeremiah and the people to Egypt.
  • More of this story later.
  • Many evangelicals consider Jeremiah the most likely author of most of 1 and 2 Kings, though there are differences in style between Jeremiah’s known writings and Kings.
  • Jeremiah did have the qualifications to write these particular books: priestly origin, prophetic ministry, access to kings and others in authority, and he was closely involved in the activities of Judah until the Babylonians destroyed her.

History—Author of 1-2 Kings

  • Whoever the author, he was one who had access to the historical records and history of Israel and Judah, and he wrote during the last days Judah.
    • The Book of the Acts of Solomon (1 Kings 11.41).
    • The Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel (1 Kings 14.19-15.31, 17 times).
    • The Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah (1 Kings 14.29-2 Kings 24.5, 15 times).
    • Biographies of David, Elijah, Elisha.

Theme of 2 Kings: Apostasy and Exile

  • Israel and Judah’s unbelieving and rebellious spiritual life brought on the tragic moral, political, economic, social, and further spiritual collapse of God’s people. The apostasy, idolatry, warfare, intrigue, and eventual exile of both Israel and Judah happened because the kings and people continually refused to listen to and obey God’s word through His prophets. Yet, two kings, Hezekiah and Josiah were faithful to the Lord, Who through them protected and blessed Judah.

Key Verses: 2 Kings 17.22-23 and 23.27

  • 2 Kings 17:22 The sons of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they did not depart from them 23, until the Lord removed Israel from His sight, as He spoke through all His servants the prophets. So Israel was carried away into exile from their own land to Assyria until this day.

Key Verses: 2 Kings 23.27

  • 2 Kings 23:27 The Lord said, “I will remove Judah also from My sight, as I have removed Israel. And I will cast off Jerusalem, this city which I have chosen, and the temple of which I said, ‘My name shall be there.’ “

Overview Outline of 2 Kings

  • Apostasy and wars lead to Assyria exiling the Northern Kingdom (2 Kings 1-17).
  • Apostasy and wars lead to Babylon destroying the temple, Jerusalem, and exiling the Southern Kingdom (2 Kings 18-25).

Chapter Titles: Apostasy and wars lead to Assyria defeating and exiling the Northern Kingdom, 1-17

  • Chapter 1: Ahaziah (I, 853-852 BC), Elijah, and fire
  • Chapter 2: Elijah’s whirlwind. Mantle on Elisha
  • Chapter 3: Jehoram (I, 852-841), war against Moab (Moabite Stone)
  • Chapter 4: Oil, Shunammite, Stew, Bread
  • Chapter 5: Naaman, leprosy, and lessons
  • Chapter 6: Chariots of fire
  • Chapter 7: Flour and Barley for a shekel
  • Chapter 8: Hazael, King of Aram; Jehoram (J, 848-841); Ahaziah (J, 841)
  • Chapter 9: Jehu (I, 841-814) kills Joram, Ahaziah, Jezebel
  • Chapter 10: Jehu (I, 841-814) destroys Ahab’s family and Baal worship
  • Chapter 11: Athaliah (J, 841-835). Young Joash made king of Judah
  • Chapter 12: Joash (J, 835-796) repaired temple
  • Chapter 13: Kings Jehoahaz (I) and Jehoash (I). Elisha dies
  • Chapter 14: King Jehoash (I) defeats King Amaziah (J). Azariah (J). Jereboam II (I)
  • Chapter 15: Many kings (790-731). Assyria strikes
  • Chapter 16: Ahaz (J, 731-715) of the virgin prophecy copies the altar at Damascus
  • Chapter 17: Assyria (722) exiles the Northern Kingdom
  • Chapter Titles: Apostasy and wars lead to Babylon destroying the temple, Jerusalem, and exiling the Southern Kingdom, 18-25
  • Chapter 18: Sennacherib of Assyria challenges King Hezekiah (J, 715-686)
  • Chapter 19: Hezekiah (J) asks Isaiah. Angel of the Lord slays 185,000 Assyrians.
  • Chapter 20: Hezekiah (J) cured, treasures, dies
  • Chapter 21: Manasseh (J, 695-642) super wicked. Amon (J, 642-640).
  • Chapter 22: Josiah (J, 640-609) finds Law
  • Chapter 23: Josiah’s reforms. Jehoahaz (J, 609). Jehoiakim (J, 609-597).
  • Chapter 24: Nebuchadnezzar defeats Jehoiakim in 605 and Jehoiachin in 597
  • Chapter 25: Nebuchadnessar destroys Jerusalem, exiles people, appoints Gedeliah

Trace the Theme of 2 Kings

  • The author begins with Elijah (2 Kings 1-2) and Elisha’s (2 Kings 2-13) ministry and continues by alternating between the kings of Israel and Judah—almost all were evil.
  • Chapter 17 records the northern kingdom, Israel, taken into exile by Shalmaneser V (r. 727-722 BC) and Sargon II (r. 722-705 BC) of Assyria.
  • Beginning with chapter 18, Sennacherib challenges Hezekiah, King of Judah. Hezekiah follows the Lord and the Lord spares Judah.
  • Josiah, of Judah, is the other good king (22). With his death in 609 BC (23), Babylon is positioned to execute God’s judgment upon the southern kingdom, Judah. Nebuchadnezzar is Babylon’s king (r. 605-562 BC).
  • Now both Judah and Israel experience the fifth cycle of discipline that God promised through Moses in Leviticus 26.27-33 and Jeremiah recorded in 50.17.
  • Almost every king in each kingdom rejected the Lord, God’s word, and the prophets’ messages. If they did listen to the prophet, it was for their own personal and human gain.
  • The two notable exceptions were Hezekiah (2 Kings 18-20) and Josiah (2 Kings 20-23). They instituted reforms and tried to give godly leadership.

Key People in 2 Kings: Elijah

  • Elijah the prophet (see the Elijah study) served during Ahab’s reign. He prophesied to Ahab about the coming drought, went to the brook Cherith, spent time at Zarephath, challenged the prophets of Baal, went to Beersheba and then into the wilderness where he slept under the Juniper tree, then went to a cave on Mt Sinai (Horeb) where the Lord corrected his attitude, passed his ministry to Elisha, confronted Ahab about the theft and murder of Naboth, and went to heaven in a whirlwind (1 Kings 17-19; 21; 2 Kings 1-2).

Key People in 2 Kings: Elisha

  • Elisha was a prophet to Israel (NK) from about 850-800 BC. He succeeded Elijah, and served during the reigns of Ahab, Joram, Jehu, Jehoahaz, Jehoash (Joash). His ministry involved the political, religious,military, social, and personal: kings, common folk, armies, false prophets, miracles, and challenge to idolatry.
  • He saw Elijah taken to heaven in the chariot and two horses of fire carried by the whirlwind (2 Kings 2.11-12). At that time he picked up Elijah’s mantle (trdaadderet, mantle, garment, cloak). The mantle was a sign that Elijah’s spirit or same kind of ministry rested now on Elisha (2.13-14).
  • The Lord worked through Elisha for many different people and events: he fixed Jericho’s bad water (2.19-22); sent bears after the mocking young men (2.23-25); provided water for the armies of Judah, Israel, and Edom (3.13-20); defeated Moab (3.21-26); secured oil for a prophet’s widow (4.1-7); predicted a son for the Shunammite woman (4.16-17) and then later resuscitated the Shunammite woman’s dead son (4.18-37).
  • Elisha gave an antidote for a toxic stew (4.38-44); healed Naaman’s leprosy (5); passed leprosy to Gehazi because Gehazi was greedy for Naaman’s reward (5.20-27); found the lost axe head (6.1-7); told Israel’s king of the king of Aram’s plans for attack (6.8-12); the Lord protected Elisha from the Aramean bands and blinded them (6.13-19).
  • Elisha then instructed Israel’s king to set a feast for the Aramean bands (6.20-24). supplied plunder from the Arameans during a famine (7); restored the Shunammite woman’s land (8.1-6); predicted Ben-hadad’s death and Hazael’s treachery (8.7-15); predicted Joash’s victory over the Arameans (13.14-19); even after his death from an illness, Elisha impressed Israel with God’s power (13.20-21).
  • We learn what God can accomplish through His chosen man who will believe Him. In a time of great apostasy and continued evil and sin in the nation of Israel, God showed His power and kept His word available.

Key People in 2 Kings: Man of God

  • The man of God. 36 times. Refers to Elijah in 2 Kings 1.9-12 and to Elisha in 2 Kings 4.7; 5.8 and many others. Second Kings 23.16-17 refers to an anonymous prophet who lived during the reign King Jeroboam of Israel (931-910 BC).

Key People in 2 Kings: Gehazi

  • Gehazi was Elisha’s servant. He served as a messenger (2 Kings 4.8-37), a protector (4.27), and helper (8.1-6). He became greedy after Elisha healed Naaman of leprosy when he sought a personal reward from Naaman. Elisha punished Gehazi for that by giving Gehazi leprosy (5.20-27). His leprosy was apparently the kind that did not require isolation.

Key People in 2 Kings: Hezekiah

  • King Hezekiah (728-686 BC, 2 Kings 18-20) was Ahaz’s (Jehoahaz, 732-715 BC) son. He was one of the godly kings of Judah. Hezekiah cleaned and repaired the temple and destroyed the idolatrous worship centers (2 Kings 18.3-6). He threw off Assyrian’s yoke which he had inherited from his father (18.7) and successfully fought the Philistines (18.8). Sennacherib twice invaded Judah. The second time (701 BC), The Lord fought for Judah and destroyed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers (19.35).
  • Following this victory, Isaiah told Hezekiah that he would soon die. Hezekiah prayed to the Lord and the Lord gave him 15 more years (20.1-7). The Lord gave him a miraculous sign that this would be true—the shadow on the staircase went back ten steps (20.8-11).
  • Soon after this, Hezekiah foolishly showed Merodach-baladan, king of Babylon, the temple treasures, for which Isaiah scolded him. Isaiah told Hezekiah that in the near future Babylon would come and take the temple treasures to Babylon (20.12-18). Hezekiah placidly accepted this because it would not happen until after his time.
  • Hezekiah is also famous for the construction of the 1777 foot long underground water tunnel that carried water from the Gihon springs outside the city (which he stopped up and covered over) into Jerusalem. Along with the water tunnel he built the Siloam reservoir to hold the water (20.20).
  • The Siloam Inscription in Hezekiah’s Water Tunnel “[…when] (the tunnel) was driven through.  And this was the way in which it was cut through:  While […] (were) still […] axe(s), each man toward his fellow, and while there were still three cubits to be cut through, [there was heard] the voice of a man calling to his fellows, for there was an overlap in the rock on the right [and on the left].  And when the tunnel was driven through, the quarrymen hewed (the rock), each man toward his fellow, axe against axe; and the water flowed from the spring toward the reservoir for 1200 cubits, and the height of the rock above the head(s) of the quarrymen was 100 cubits.”

Key People in 2 Kings: Josiah

  • Josiah (2 Kings 22-23, r. 640-609 BC) was the last king prominent King of Judah before the great destruction. Pharaoh Neco of Egypt imprisoned his son Jehoahaz at Riblah in 609 BC and the Babylonians invaded and attacked the following kings. Those invasions began in 605 BC and eventuated in the destruction of Jerusalem, the temple, and the exile of the people to Babylon in 586 BC.
  • He purged Jerusalem and Judah of idols, idol high places (for worship), pagan priests, mediums, and spiritists. At the age of eight years he began his reign. In the eighteenth year of his reign be began repairing the temple. During construction Hilkiah the high priest found the book of the Law (Moses’ writing). Shaphan the scribe read to Law to Josiah. He was appalled at the the apostasy of the people from God’s word.
  • Because of his honest acceptance of God’s word, the Lord would spare him of divine judgment, but His judgments would come upon the next generation (2 Kings 23.25-28). This was fulfilled through the Babylonians from 605 BC to 586 BC. Josiah foolishly went to fight against the Egyptians in 609 BC; Pharaoh Neco killed Josiah.

Key Doctrines

  • Apostasy is the departure or regression from previously believed truth. Israel experienced national and individual apostasy by kings (pick your favorite king), priests, and common people.
  • God at times blesses individuals and groups who are associated with healthy believers, but this was only temporary. He blessed Judah in association with Hezekiah and Josiah. Hezekiah’s son, Manasseh, was the worst of kings. After Josiah died, God judged Israel through Babylon.
  • God uses prepared people, like Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hezekiah, and Josiah. The preparation comes from positive or faith responses to God and His word.
  • Spiritual solutions are more important than political solutions. The advice of Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, and Jeremiah demonstrated this.

Lessons For Us Today

  • Protection from apostasy begins with one’s faith response to God and His word. The kings, priests, and people of the divided kingdom rejected God and His word. Jude addressed this under eight principles.
  • All lasting solutions to national problems (political, economic, social, security, religious) begin with the right spiritual solutions which come from God and revealed in His word.
  • Spiritual and national and leaders determine the kind of life and length of life of a People. We ought to pray for both.
  • The people and ideas that we spend our time and energy with will eventually influence and control us—for good or for bad.
  • Just as the prophets taught God’s word to the people for their blessing, so today pastors and teachers, teachers, and evangelists teach God’s word to people for blessing. Take advantage of our local church’s ministry, by listening, learning, participating, and serving. This is where we get primary spiritual preparation.

Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 1 Corinthians 10.12