Old Testament Overview Lecture

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					EMMTC – Psalms & Historical Books

Lecture 4

1&2 KINGS (&PROPHETS)
I THE ACCESSION OF SOLOMON

Solomon is clearly the greatest of the Kings of Israel as a ruler and monarch, and he was rated as such by generations of Israelites before and after the time of Christ. Jesus, however, had a slightly different angle on it ... "Yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these."
Matthew 6:29

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THE STRUGGLE FOR SUCCESSION David is old, decrepit and weak; but he has one last controlling authority - that of declaring his successor. Adonijah's claim Adonijah, the brother of Solomon (Adonijah's mother was Haggith, Solomon's mother was Bathsheba) thinks that his father will accept his accession as a "fait accompli", having gathered the support of the military (Joab) and the priesthood (Abiathar). The intervention of Nathan and Bathsheba Key army officers, and Nathan the prophet, were not party to Adonijah's claim. They call on Bathsheba to influence David to declare Solomon his successor. The power struggle Note that the power struggle is military (between Joab and his officers) and also between elements of the priesthood (between Abiathar - the last priest of the house of Eli, and Zadok). There is no prophet mentioned other than Nathan.

1 K 1:28-53 SOLOMON IS ANOINTED KING AT GIHON Note that Solomon is anointed at the spring of Gihon (the water supply to Jerusalem) outside of the city and to the east of it. The rebellion by Adonijah founders; and Solomon is generous to Adonijah at first. Task: Who are the key supporters of Solomon and Adonijah, and what are their roles? What kind of support does Solomon have that Adonijah does not? What is the significance of this? Can you spot elements of “Messianic Kingship” in this? 1 K 2:1-12 DAVID'S DEATH AND FINAL INSTRUCTIONS TO SOLOMON David offers guidance to Solomon: vv1-4 David repeats the covenant promise of God made to him. It is a shortened version of the covenant with Moses, and also the "Davidic" covenant. vv 5-9 Vengeance on Joab & Shimei After all Joab's faithfulness as a warrior, David sees his "retaliating in time of peace for blood that had been shed in war" as sin requiring like treatment. He curses Shimei, the last survivor of the house of Saul. Perhaps David sees these two as the last major threat to the succession of his son Solomon. 1 K 2:13-46 THE FINAL BLOODBATH OF SUCCESSION Adonijah asks, through Bathsheba, for Abishag as a wife. Solomon is incensed and has him killed. Abiathar is banished (fulfilling the prophesy against Eli, 1 Sam 2) and Zadok is established as High Priest. Young officers, at Solomon's behest kill Joab. Shimei is held under a form of house arrest in Jerusalem, but is killed when he ignores the conditions of his sentence. All remaining opposition is now crushed. 1K3 THE WISDOM OF SOLOMON vv1-2 A uncomplimentary comment on the beginning of Solomon's reign Note this indicates two things, firstly, Solomon's fundamental problem - marrying foreign women for political purposes, and secondly, the still diverse practices of religious observance in the kingdom (sacrifices at high places – i.e. Baal). We will see these problems arise later. vv3-15 The prayer of Solomon for wisdom, and its first fulfilment We all know of the request of Solomon for wisdom, but not everyone is clear about how it came about. Note, despite Solomon‟s stated love of the LORD, he was, in common with the people, worshipping other gods at high places – Gibeon, a local „high places‟ favoured by the king. After the
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prayer, Solomon is depicted as doing the wisest thing he could possibly do; he abandons Gibeon and its non-Levitical system of offerings (thousands of burnt offerings) and goes to Jerusalem and offers subsequent worship and sacrifice there. Vv16-28 An example of earthly wisdom I would argue that the compiler of 1 Kings presents the story of the two prostitutes as an example of earthly wisdom which won him human favour. This is described after his winning divine favour by worshipping at Jerusalem. 1 K 4:1-33 A DESCRIPTION OF SOLOMON'S RULE This stylised description of life under Solomon sounds brilliant, but later passages will dent the happy note sounded. Perhaps this is describing how it was at the beginning of his realm, before the temple was built. We think of the building of the temple as a magnificent achievement, but read on to discover some uncomfortable truths. If the compiler of this record was living at the time of the exile when the temple had been destroyed, was he saying that life without the temple building could be just as good?

II

THE BUILDING OF THE TEMPLE
PREPARATIONS, COMPROMISE AND OPPRESSION It is most significant that the beginning of the story of the building of the temple is one of religious compromise and oppression. The compromise is clear in the use of Hiram for the creation of the Temple. Archaeological evidence shows that the first Temple was a small version of what was common for the nations of those days. As for the conscription, it is an insult to Israel to be put to forced labour after the Exodus experience (Deut 20:11). Solomon has no qualms. It identifies two problems of Solomon's reign, through which God nevertheless works. vv1-12 King Hiram, trade and the Temple King Hiram was a Phoenician king, based at Tyre to the north of Israel. His kingdoms worshipped Astarte and Baal. Solomon was quite happy to form trade agreements with Hiram, the result being that the wood and technical know-how for the building of the temple was distinctly non-Israelite. vv13-18 Forced labour In the building of the temple, it was the Israelites who endured the forced labour, and did all the hard work. A compelling description of Israel‟s oppression.

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DETAILS OF THE TEMPLE BUILDING Chapter six contains details of the temple building, with a further promise of God's blessing on Israel as a consequence of the building. The details are grand, but not enormous even by the standards of the day. The sense of grandeur is provided by the expense, furnishing details, and labour required for the project. THE BUILDING PROJECTS OF SOLOMON It is quite clear from this chapter that Solomon's interest in building was more extensive than the temple. His own house took twice as long to build as the temple! Most of the chapter is devoted to describing the gifts of the craftsman Hiram (not to be confused with Hiram the King of Tyre) THE CONSECRATION OF THE TEMPLE This is a major event in the life of the people of Israel. 1 Kings 8 is full of various important features: Covenant & promise, messianic kingship etc. vv1-13 The Ark is brought to the Temple The ark is placed in the holy of holies (a totally enclosed room with no external light). A cloud fills the temple; this is God's “presence”. Vv14-21 Solomon's speech Solomon gives his reasons for building the temple; the fulfilment of the promise given to David that his son would do this. Note the description of the "Covenant" which is the Ark. vv22-53 Solomon's prayer This prayer of dedication is a classic statement of Hebrew faith. Many themes are found in the prayer: God's sovereignty, the inadequacy of human worship, confession and the forgiveness of sins, the need for fertility and productivity of the land, the importance of success in battle, the importance of collective repentance. vv54-66 Solomon's blessing The event of the temple dedication is climaxed by a formal blessing of the people by Solomon, and a great feast to celebrate the achievement, and the beneficence of the king.

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III THE REIGN OF SOLOMON
1K9 QUESTIONS ABOUT SOLOMON’S REIGN Despite the glory of the consecration of the Temple, the writers continue to be critical of Solomon, in particular his marriages and his commercial activities. Both of these are not separate from religious implications, as they might be today vv1-9 The ever present judgement of God after the great celebratory events of the dedication of the temple, God's warning to the people about obedience, and the consequences of disobedience, is given. Disobedience will bring military defeat and the destruction of the temple. The passage sounds in some respects like a prophecy of what is to come - or is it the statement of an editor of the text who, with godly wisdom, knows full well that this will be the consequence of disobedience? Vv10-14 The giving of land to Hiram It is quite amazing that Solomon feels at liberty to give land away. The story is told, I reckon, with some disapproval. It is even more ironic because Hiram does not like the land anyway! vv15-28 Solomon's commercial activities Here is a long list of the commercial growth of Israel. In this passage, it is stated that Solomon did not use the Israelites as slave labour. Does this passage come from another source, or is the contradiction to both 1 Kings 5:1318, and the later passage 1 Kings 12:1-19 intended to point us to the coming split of the kingdom over precisely this issue?. 1 K 10 The visit of the Queen of Sheba The famous story of the visit to Jerusalem of the queen of Sheba presents in almost parable form the idea of all the world coming to Jerusalem to see the glories of God's people, shown in Solomon: wealth, wisdom, riches. This is the stuff of which dreams and apocalyptic literature are made. The story keeps us in suspense over the issue of his marriages. Elsewhere Solomon seems to marry at will (1Kings 11:1-8), but he does not marry this „princess‟. Perhaps she had nothing to offer him as he was not in need of riches … (?) SOLOMON’S ERROS AND HIS DEATH vv1-8 Solomon's errors in marriage Whilst Solomon's errors may have started with a desire for women, this led him into other problems. Having married women of other religions, he is happy for them to be provided for in respect of their own gods. In the end, he worships some of these gods himself. Scholars argue about the identity of some of these, but among them are included: Astarte - a Sidonian god of fertility, love and war Milcom - an Ammonite "Baal", god of fertility and storm Chemosh - a Moabite deity worshipped in a similar way to YHWH Molech - an Ammonite god worshipped through child sacrifice WHY BE CONCERNED ABOUT WHO SOLOMON SHOULD MARRY? – YOU SHOULD BE IF YOU ARE CONCERNED ABOUT DAVID’S LINE! vv14-25 The enemies of Solomon As with any king who is successful in a worldly way, Solomon has many enemies. Some of them are lying low in Egypt, waiting their chance to attack the kingdom. vv26-43 Jeroboam, son of Nebat - and prophetic intervention - Ahijah A strange story tells of a young man, Jeroboam, born in the court of Solomon, and placed over the forced labour of the people of Israel. One day, he is approached by a prophet of God AHIJAH, who offers to him ten tribes of Israel on the same covenant basis that David and Solomon stood. But does Solomon seek Jeroboam's life because he was a trouble maker over the forced labour issue, or because the words of the prophet became known? Certainly, God is seen as acting quickly because of the sins of Solomon. vv41-43 Solomon dies with not much of an epitaph, either good or bad, Solomon's death is recorded. It is as if all has been said already, and the text does not at this point indicate any favour of God. His son Rehoboam succeeds him, but we are not told who his mother is (of the many possible ones). Remember the story of the accession of Solomon? Perhaps Rehoboam has been groomed for this. It certainly appears so.

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IV REHOBOAM AND JEROBOAM - SPLIT KINGDOMS
1 K 12 THE NORTHERN TRIBES BREAK AWAY FROM JERUSALEM vv1-19 The kingdom splits apart In a dramatic story of intrigue, Rehoboam tries to establish himself in his father's succession, and only succeeds in alienating the Israelites, who are fed up with forced labour. vv20-24 Prophetic intervention - Shemaiah. Jeroboam is proclaimed king by those disaffected by Rehoboam, effectively, the people of the ten northern tribes of Israel. Rehoboam considers going out to war against Jeroboam, to try and unify the kingdom. He is warned against this by a prophet, Shemaiah. What has happened is God‟s doing!! vv25-33 Jeroboam's sin – the Golden Calves! Jeroboam has been offered the same covenant as David and Solomon (1Kings 11:38). But he believes that to worship YHWH will lead to confusion in the minds of the people, and leave them tied to Jerusalem. To start a new kingdom, he starts a new religion and builds two golden calves (These are your gods who brought you out of Egypt! v 28) 1 K 13 PROPHECY – THE MAN OF GOD FROM JUDAH Here is a strange story of an anonymous man of God from Judah, who prophesies against Jeroboam and the Northern Kingdom. However, he goes against what God has told him in one small way and dies.

TASK: Read 1 Kings 13. Why did the first prophet die? and what is this saying about the nature of Prophecy? Why does God deceive? Is this a fair description of what God is doing? This is an important story which reminds us of the significance of the prophets. The absolute obedience to the Lord required by the prophet is, perhaps, contrasted with the waywardness of the Kings. 1 K 14,15,16 JEROBOAM AND THE FOLLOWING KINGS OF ISRAEL & JUDAH for 50 years 14:1-20 The end of Jeroboam The story of the end is pathetic. His son/heir is sick, and he sends his wife to the prophet Ahijah to ascertain what will happen. Ahijah declares a curse on the House of Jeroboam, because he has chosen to disregard the God of David. His son/heir dies. See the importance of the prophet to the whole story of Kingship and accession. 14:21-31 The end of Rehoboam The king of Judah reigns for seventeen years. His sins are identified as allowing the people of Judah to worship other gods, and "build high places, pillars and sacred poles", and installing male and female temple prostitutes. The King of Egypt plunders Judah and the temple (!), and Rehoboam replaces the stolen temple ware with less than glorious replacements. A NOTE ABOUT PROPHETS We should see that prophets crop up frequently in the story of Samuel and Kings at the point of crisis in Israel and Judah, and when there is a transfer of kingly power. 1. Prophets are always around and used sparingly by God The impression we have is that the prophets are there, waiting to be used. For example, the "bands of prophets" mentioned in Saul's time, and the story above. Perhaps these "wise men" were used by the people for advice in the normal affairs of life, and had a role in the local sanctuaries; but they are used sparingly by God for important matters. You could ask as to why God does not use them more? - are they God's last resort? 2. Prophets come from everyday life. Prophets come from the everyday life of the people of Israel. In the stories of Kingship, it is as if they "pop up" with earthly integrity in the middle of David's court intrigue, King Jeroboam's sin, or the power struggles of accession (Solomon). Prophets can come from any tribe of Israel – they are not tied down as any particular category of people. 3. Prophets conserve messianic kingship Their role, time and time again, is to speak and act on behalf of God, to keep the leadership of the people of Israel on course. Israel and Judah's kings are, through them, measured by God's standard. 15:1-24 The kings of Judah - Abijam and Asa These two kings follow after Rehoboam, Abijam identified as bad, and Asa as good, the judgement being made purely on theological grounds, as evidenced by deeds. D:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\2343a070-06e4-448a-a672-c4be605ab8b1.doc Ashby 08/12/2009 Page 4

15:25-16:31 The kings of Israel - Nadab, Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Omri and Ahab. In the new kingdom of Israel, there is no such thing as a simple generational succession to the throne. Elah was the son of Baasha, and Ahab the son of Omri, but apart from that, each succession was a coup of some kind. The stories are provided to set the scene for what follows, and they conclude with the marriage of Ahab to Jezebel, and the full scale introduction of Baal worship to Israel. It is worth noting that up to the time of Elah, the capital of Israel was often not stated, except that Jeroboam clearly used Shechem as a capital. It is Omri who creates the capital in Samaria. He was a „great‟ king commercially and militarily (note the dog-fight with Tibni) and was clearly intent on creating an impression with a new capital – Tirza being inadequate. 16:31-34 Ahab, Jezebel and the Worship of Baal This short passage sets up the story for what happens next. What is happening in the southern Kingdom is unacceptable to God. Now if the King is corrupt and not listening to God, who has to act? a prophet. A rather important one comes next …

V THE LIFE OF ELIJAH AND CONFRONTATION WITH THE PROPHETS OF BAAL
1 K 17 ELIJAH, GOD'S MESSENGER. Elijah was a prophet, a man with a message from God. He confronted King Ahab with God's word fearlessly at a time when the King, for political reasons, attempted to allow Israel to worship foreign gods. His marriage with Jezebel from Tyre was a form of political alliance to ensure the stability of the Kingdom, but Jezebel brought her gods with her, and this angered many people. Note that what Elijah does is what any prophet should do – that is, to confront the King in the name of God. At this point in time, however, it is critical. vv1-7 The life and work of the prophet Elijah – an introduction, and drought. Elijah lived during the time of king Ahab who ruled the Northern kingdom of Israel from 869-850 BC. He came from Tishbe in north Gilead, which was on the edge of the desert. He seems to have worn rough clothes and identified himself a style of life similar to the tribes of Israel in the desert, many years before. This style of life is copied by John the Baptist in Jesus' day. This story emphasises the prophets dependency on God. Remember that Elijah is to confront the supposed gods of nature and agricultural fertility. He must first learn dependency on God for food and water. This is a parable of spiritual sustenance to us. vv8-24 The widow of Zarephath Told without any sense of hype, Elijah follows the Lord‟s instructions and performs a miracle of resurrection! This is the first such story in the Bible and should cause us to „sit bolt upright‟. Several things could be said relating to the overalk context of our story: The Kings are failing in their duty to the people, but a prophet following God’s will does not. b) If the Kings of Israel and Judah take lightly the accession of David’s line, then a prophet who can raise a child to life might ‘fit the bill’. c) Drought is a theme of the stories of Elijah – drought was undoubtedly real, but it is symbolic of spiritual drought. ELIJAH AND THE PROPHETS OF BAAL a) vv 1-6 Religion and the fertility of the land It was supposed to be the job of Baal, Jezebel's god, to bring fertility to the land. This was popular belief and seen as important by king Ahab, because Israel was in the grip of drought. Elijah 's task was to declare to Ahab that God was the Lord of All, including the weather, and hence fertility. vv 7-19 Fear and Oppression in Israel The story of Elijah‟s meetings with Obadiah, the god-fearing palace official of the King serves to heighten the tension of the story, highlighting the fear and oppression in the land vv20-40 Elijah challenges the prophets of Baal. On the high ridge of mount Carmel, an altar erected to Yahweh had been taken over for the worship of Baal. He alone challenges 450 prophets of Baal, and 400 prophets of Asherah (Baal's consort) to call down fire to burn up a sacrifice (lightning before the storm that would bring much needed rain?) The whole story of Elijah‟s triumph is filled with caustic comment and ridicule of the prophets of Baal (if the problem was rain – where did Elijah get the water from, on top of a mountain, D:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\2343a070-06e4-448a-a672-c4be605ab8b1.doc Ashby 08/12/2009 Page 5

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to fill the trenches three times over!) He performs this victory on the Baal worshippers „turf‟, Mount Carmel, the supposed most fertile part of northern Israel. He also acts alone, with other god-fearers very much in the background, if not non-existent. vv 40-46 Elijah triumphs, the country has rain! After much ecstasy and self mutilation, the prophets of Baal and Asherah are exhausted. A simple prayer from Elijah brings the right response from God, despite gallons of precious water being thrown on the altar. This is a sign to Ahab that God is in control. Even Elijah still has strength! 1 K 19 ELIJAH IN THE WILDERNESS OF BEERSHEBA, and MOUNT HOREB. vv 1-10 Elijah’s fear After the extraordinary success of the encounter with the prophets of Baal and Ashtaroth, Elijah is spiritually empty and overtaken by fear. It is strange that having defeated all the Baal prophets, he is now afraid of Jezebel. These verses tell a story of the Lord shepherding Elijah through despondency. Horeb, the mountain of God, of course, is the place where one expects to meet God, and perhaps receive new commandments! vv 11-14 Elijah is petrified! He expects to meet God in the dramatic of the fire and the earthquake and the storm. But this time God meets him the silence. Here lies the prophet's strength. God, however, has to remind him that although he has used him, he is not alone, and has other resources. It is important to note that the silence is in fact a terrifying silence rather than the popular „still small voice of calm‟. The word used is „thin silence‟ or „sheer terror‟ (as in Job 4:16 – the only other place in the OT that the word appears). vv 15-18 Elijah – get on with your job! Note also that after the extraordinary experience on Horeb, Elijah is commanded to get on with what a prophet does – that is, to make and destroy kings and bring God‟s message to them. There is no escape from this prophetic task. Remember the earlier prophet who did not wholly do what the Lord required, and died as a consequence. vv 19-21 The Prophetic accession A very important passage of scripture is this. If the accession of Kings is a sub-plot to the text, then here we have a pointer, perhaps we must, from now on, have more interest in the prophetic succession than the kingly one – that is, in terms of the authority of God amongst his people.

VI THE FINAL YEARS OF AHAB AND NABOTH'S VINEYARD - THE LORD IS JUST
1 K 20 THE SIGNIFICANCE OF AHAB The most important King of Israel after the time of Solomon and the subsequent split of the Kingdom was Ahab. From a worldly point of view, it could be said that Omri and Asa were more significant. Ahab's contention with Elijah is the important thing though. It is as if the writers of 1 Kings wish us to see an important lesson in his story. Ahab at war with the Arameans Ahab, after battle with Benhadad and the Arameans enters into a political alliance with him. The extreme actions of an unknown prophet remind him that he has not done what God requires of him. 1 K 21 NABOTH’S VINEYARD Elijah‟s message is about justice as well as right religion. The story of Naboth's vineyard is the second key event in Elijah's life and work. It demonstrates that God is a God of Justice in human affairs, as well as a jealous God in a religious sense. In this way, Elijah's prophecy is like that of Isaiah, Amos, Samuel, amongst others. vv 1-16 The story Ahab wants to extend his garden. He can't buy out Naboth to get his vineyard because the land belongs to God, and must be passed to Naboth's future generations. Ahab, as King was not allowed to seize land at will. His wife Jezebel was not bothered by this Israelite notion. Where she came from, a king could do what he liked. She had Naboth killed, confiscated the land and gave it to the king. vv 17-29 Elijah’s response. Elijah confronts the king and denounces his actions and that of Jezebel. The King is not above God. Note that despite his rebellion, Ahab's repentance is accepted by God, and the curse pronounced by Elijah is delayed as a consequence. Ahab contravenes the sacredness of the land by acquiring land for himself. By submitting to Jezebels temptation, he 1 2 3 places himself above God breaks the laws of holiness Submits the land to Baal worship.
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Elijah, prophecies the end of the Kingdom of Israel, and the line of Ahab. God, however, has mercy on Ahab due to his repentance and allows the penalty to come after him. 1 K 22 THE END OF AHAB Final stories of the end of Ahab. The king is still confused by prophetic advice, but here, a picture is presented of true and false prophecy. vv 1-28 Zedekiah and Micaiah Note the prophecy of Micaiah, and the word about lying spirits that come to the King. See also the contention between prophets as Zedekiah confronts Micaiah and hits him. It is as if anyone can claim to be a prophet, and their actions are integrally related to their calling. Ultimately, time will tell whether a prophet is of God or not. vv 19-53 Defeat and Death of Ahab Ahab dies in battle and is succeeded by his son Ahaziah. At this point in time, the kings of the north are unremittingly described as evil, but the kings of Judah get better press. This is surprising given the comments in vv43-46 concerning the worship of god‟s at high places and also the male temple prostitutes in the temple. It makes you wonder what has really been going on!

VII THE PROPHETIC SUCCESSION: ELIJAH TO ELISHAH
The first chapters of 2 Kings forms a conclusion to the story of Elijah and Ahab. But the story is not complete. In the only example of prophetic succession recorded in the Old Testament, Elisha is commissioned to continue Elijah's work. Elijah dealt with Ahab; Elisha will deal with the "house of Ahab" until its end. Ahab and Jezebel are the epitome of what is not messianic kingship (after the example of David and Solomon). The rise of prophecy is linked, through the stories of Elijah and Elisha, to the fall of messianic kingship in Israel. The stories of these two are in many ways as dramatic as any in the Old Testament, and as widely ranging as those of Saul, David or Solomon. 2K1 ELIJAH AND AHAZIAH Ahab has gone, but the old Elijah is still around, knowing he will not be for much longer. At the end of Ahab's reign, Ahaziah becomes King of Israel. He continued the practice of worshipping foreign gods, and, when in personal difficulty (he fell from a roof) asked the ageing prophet what would happen to him. The messengers from Ahaziah are consumed by fire from heaven called down by Elijah. In the end, the third set of messengers plea for mercy in fear of their lives, and deliver an uncompromising message to Ahaziah. This is a nasty story, but demonstrates the fear and holiness of God. Azariah's end is seen as the fulfilment of Elijah's prophecy 1 Kings 21:29. Ahab's chosen succession fails, but Elijah's succession is guaranteed ... ELIJAH HANDS OVER TO ELISHA The prophetic succession is effected by God's choice. The story of Elisha's call as a disciple of Elijah is in 1 Kings 19:19-21. This story concentrates on the validity of the succession. Task: What elements of Messianic Kingship are being hinted at in this story? 2 K 2:1-12 Elijah ascends to heaven It is characteristic of the story of Elijah that he should "go" in this way. Note that the message of Elijah's coming departure is relayed to his successor Elisha by a "band of prophets" (v3). This story is the reason why so many Jews in Jesus' day expected Elijah to come again. As a prophet who had not "died", he would surely come to anoint them coming "Messiah". Elisha requests a double portion of Elijah's spirit, follows his master to the end (in contrast the sons of the kings who try to grab power before their time, e.g. Adonijah from David). 2 K 2:13-25 The succession of Elisha Elisha performs even more astonishing miracles than his master. They are designed to silence any questioning of his prophetic authority. Note the band of prophets to which he belongs. Note the contrast between the way that the group of prophets in 2 Kings 2 observe the heavenly blessings of God, whereas the group of Kings representatives in 2 Kings 1, just previously, get consumed by fire!

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VIII THE MIRACLES AND STORIES OF ELISHA
2 K 3-6 THE MIRACLES OF ELISHA Chapters 3-13 of 2 Kings are a long sequence of stories about Elisha. They contrast strongly with previous stories of the kings of Israel and Judah. From now on, Elisha is the centre of attention, and the stories of the kings serve to illustrate what is being said about God's authority exercised through the prophet. 2 K 3 Military success for Israel and Judah prophesied by Elisha The kings of Israel, Judah and Edom go out to fight Moab for petty reasons. Elisha prophesies success, which happens. Note Elisha's need for music in order to prophesy (v 15!), and the strange ending to the story - the child sacrifice of the king of Moab's son. 2 K 4:1-7 Elisha and the widow's oil. (See 1 Kings 17:14-16) A common theme of the miracles of Elisha is that they are more spectacular that those of Elijah. They also prefigure those of Christ. Would those who heard Jesus tell the story of the 10 wise and 10 foolish virgins recall that the prophet Elisha had provided the widow with enough oil for all their needs! Jesus calls the people of his day to not presume on God's provision - the oil can run out if you do. 2 K 4:8-37 Elisha, the Shunamite woman and her son. This story is more dramatic than its equivalent in the life of Elijah (1 K 17:17-24). Note the raising from dead of a firstborn son by Elisha, in comparison to the child sacrifice of Moab in the previous chapter - a point often lost in lectionary use of this passage. God is a God of life and not death. 2 K 4:38-44 Feeding miracles of Elisha The first story is of Elisha saving a band of prophets from food poisoning, the second is of Elijah providing food for large numbers of people miraculously. Echoes of this in Christ's ministry again! 2 K 5 The healing of Naaman The theme of Elisha's ministry continues with healing ministry, note that the leader is not Israelite. This demonstrates God‟s authority over other nations and their leadership, a theme that will become important later on in the story. Note, however, that the story concludes with a description of the reverse of healing. Gehazi catches leprosy after sinning. Gehazi is clearly not to be the successor of Elisha. 2 K 6:1-7 The miracle of the Axe head A quaint story about Elisha making an axe head float. Note the importance of the band of prophets again. A good "support group". Task: Make a list of the miracles and stories of Jesus which you are reminded of by the stories you have just read concerning Elijah 2K7–8 ELISHA AND THE WARS WITH SYRIA 2 K 6:8-7:20 Elisha "controls" the war with Syria This lengthy section deals with war against Syria (the Arameans) in Elisha's time. Elisha does not simple intervene in the story, he is the real judge and defender of the people of Israel. The king (Joram) appears more as a puppet. 2 K 6:8-23 Elisha leads the Syrian army astray In this episode, where, yet again, Elisha is very much in control, we have the famous story of Elisha encouraging his servant to see the army of God arrayed against the Syrians, rather than the weakness of Israel. 2 K 6:24-7:2 The Syrian King besieges Samaria The desperate state of Samaria under siege is illustrated by a horrific story of cannibalism (vv 28-30). Elisha, acting as God's agent, announces the end of the siege. 2 K 7:3-20 The siege is lifted miraculously The end of the siege comes mysteriously as the Syrian army flees Samaria without good reason one night. Elisha's words are proved again. 2 K 8:1-6 The fame of Elisha A story is included here to indicate the fame of Elisha. Elisha does not figure in the story, but dominates it, and the king. 2 K 8:7-15 The death of the King of Syria Elisha is shown in this story as having influence over the nations, not just Israel. He foresees the treachery of Hazael, who murders Benhadad the King of Syria. 2 K 8:16-29 Further wars Various kings of Israel and Judah in succession; their collusion and their wars. The stories emphasise evil in the Israelite house of Ahab, and the way that this enters by marriage into the Judaean line.
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2 K 9 – 13

ELISHA AND THE PURGE OF THE HOUSE OF AHAB 2 K9:1-13 A new King is anointed who will purge Israel and Judah Elisha acts by sending one of the prophets from his band to anoint Jehu King. It is done in a treasonable way, yet highly effective. We discover why Jehu has been anointed next. 2 K 9:14-29 Jehu begins the purge of Ahab's house In the revolt that follows, Jehu disposes of King Joram of Israel, and King Ahaziah of Judah. 2 K9:30-37 The purge continues as Jezebel is killed by Jehu Jezebel, the wife of Ahab (remember the stories of Elijah in which these two figure) and the mother of Joram, were a major influence in the worship of Baal in Israel. She is dispatched by Jehu. 2 K 10 Jehu completes the purge of Ahab's house Some really gory stories of slaughter and intrigue. First, Ahab's seventy sons are dealt with, and then worshippers and priests of Baal. Chapter ten ends with the death of Jehu after a long reign. He was a good king of Israel! 2 K 11 After the purging of Israel, the purging of Judah! During his reign, Jehu dispatched Ahaziah, king of Judah. Ahaziah's mother, Athaliah (a niece of Ahab) claims the throne of Judah. The priest Jehoida secretly raises the rightful heir to the throne, Joash, and proclaims him king. In the resulting mayhem, Athaliah is killed, and the priest Jehoida institutes a religious renewal in Jerusalem. We have a new good king in Judah! 2 K 12 The reforms of King Joash of Judah. In his time, the temple is repaired, and the threat from the Syrian empire is held at bay 2 K 13 The end of Elisha's life The entire sequence of momentous events that have been described were set in motion by Elisha's actions in having Jehu anointed king. At the end of his life, he sees the Israelite kings falling back to their old ways of sin, and he dies prophesying only limited success for the Israelites over their enemy Syria.

IX THE HISTORY OF ISRAEL AND JUDAH UNTIL THE ASSYRIAN CONQUEST
2 K 14-17 BAD AND GOOD KINGS OF ISRAEL AND JUDAH These four chapters contain a sequence of descriptions of the kings of Israel, who are repeatedly described as "bad", and occasional reference to the kings of Judah, who are mostly "good". The "high places" Note that one of the most frequent references in these chapters is to the continued existence of "high places", tolerated even by the kings that are described as "good". The point is clear, even after the religiously significant events of the downfall of Ahab's house and the purge effected by Jehu, the high places remain as evidence of the compromise of faith in YHWH. This is the necessary backdrop of what happens next, the destruction of the northern kingdom. 2 K 17 THE ASSYRIAN CONQUEST OF THE NORTHERN KINGDOM This section of 2 Kings ends with the conquest of Israel by the now grown and extended Syrian empire. This passage contains a chilling description of the repeated sins of Israel which are behind the failure; but it is not simply the matter of idolatry. Israel has not heeded the prophetic word which it has been given. The nations settle in Israel After the conquest, other peoples come and settle in Israel. After the land is ravaged by lions, the new rulers believe this is because the "god of the land" is not being honoured. A priest is sent back to teach people to worship YHWH, but they continue to worship other gods as well. If this is not irony, then what is!

X THE HISTORY OF JUDAH UNTIL THE BABYLONIAN CONQUEST
2 K 18-25 SUCCESS AND FAILURE – THE JUDEAN KINGS. The three main kings of Judah in this last period of the history of Judah before Babylon, are Hezekiah, Manasseh, and Josiah. They are "good", "bad" and "good" respectively.

2 K 19 Hezekiah and Isaiah In the face of a threat to Judea and Jerusalem from king Sennecharib of Assyria, Hezekiah humbles himself, and seeks the advice of Isaiah. Isaiah prophecies the failure of the Assyrian threat, in words that are not unlike those of his writings. Note that Hezekiah entertains spies from the new and dangerous Babylon, thinking D:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\2343a070-06e4-448a-a672-c4be605ab8b1.doc Ashby 08/12/2009 Page 9

he will win favour with them (ch 20). This is also recorded in Isaiah 39 and is regarded by the writers as highly significant. 2 K 21 Manasseh Despite the godliness of Hezekiah, his son reversed the trend. It is clear that even despite the verdict of the OT, Manasseh's reign was stormy and unpleasant. In this chapter, we have hints of the destruction that is to come on Judah. Be careful to read this section of scripture together with its counterpart in Chronicles, as Manasseh there is described as the model King who repents. There are theological reasons why Kings presents the story in a negative light, and the same for Chronicles – see notes on Chronicles. 2 K 22,23 The reforms of Josiah It is finally under Josiah that the most major reform of Judea takes place. The "book of the law" is found in the temple, as repair work is carried out. It is elsewhere described as the "book of the covenant" (Deuteronomy?) As a result of this, Josiah destroys the High places and centralises the worship of God further with a Passover celebration at Jerusalem. There is an underlying assumption that if God‟s people keep on reforming, then the past will not matter and the Lord will protect them. Note: we know from the story, and the writer of the story here knows that this is not the case. Of course reform is important and has helpful things to say to us, but the Lord watches the wider picture. 2 K 23:26-30 The reforms are not enough Even Josiah's reforms are not enough to avert the consequences of the sin of the people of Judah. 2 K 24,25 The fall of Judah to Babylon After the death of Josiah, the fall of Judah is quick enough. The messy story of defeat and ignominy ends the long story of the earthly line of David. The last King of David‟s direct line is Jehoiakim. His uncle Zedekiah is placed on the throne in subservience to Babylon for the period 597 – 586 BC. This is the time when Jeremiah is stuck in Jerusalem (dealing with Zedekiah). When he is killed by the Babylonians, due to rebellion, Gedeliah is appointed governor. He lasts little longer, killed by Ishmael, a leader of a band with some relationship to the kingship. The story ends with Jehoiakim being given a good time in Babylon by his captors!!

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