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LIBERTY UNIVERSITY
JOHN W. RAWLINGS SCHOOL OF DIVINITY
Interpretive Commentary: Final Assignment
Submitted to Robert Graf,
in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the completion of
OBST 515 – B08
Old Testament Orientation I
by
Jayanna Arnold
July 4, 2021
Author
1 and 2 Kings starts where 2 Samuel leaves off, detailing the historical account of the
monarchy in and surrounding Israel and Judah. No author or authors is explicitly mentioned
throughout the text; rather, the author remains nameless but fully aware of the activity in
Israel/Judah, as well as their opposers/captors and God’s response to it all. Max Anders affirms
the claim that the author of the accounts remains unidentified, in his book Holman Old
Testament Commentary: 1 and 2 Kings. With that claim, he also asserts that the author may be a
prophet. He states, “The author was a prophet...writing on the basis of revelation, not just
research...It is also obvious that (he) had been highly influenced by the book of Deuteronomy.
He evaluated much of what transpired in light of the blessings and curses of that book.” The
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author also highlights the actions of kings, in reference to the commands of God, so the author
looks to be a man who knows the ways of God and His history with His people.
Audience
The audience of 2 Kings 18-20 are Jews. The message of the text is intended to teach of
the history of the Kingdom of Israel after it was divided. It also serves as a warning to Jews of
the consequences of disobedience and disloyalty. Anders stated, “Because the books of 1 and 2
Kings were intended to warn the people against perpetuating or repeating the sins that had
brought the people to its bondage in Babylon, certain themes are woven through both books.”
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Then, Peter Leithart, who wrote , also believed that 2 Kings serves as a corrective 1 and 2 Kings
message or warning to Jews, demonstrating the folly in trusting/ having faith in anything or
anyone but God. He stated, “The message of the prophets is ‘Israel has sinned; therefore, Israel
must die, and its only hope is to entrust itself to a God who will give it new life on the far side of
death…, which systematically dismantles Israel’s confidence in everything but the omnipotent
1 Max Anders, Holman Old Testament Commentary: 1 and 2 Kings (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing
Group, 2003), 18.
2 Ibid., 19.
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mercy and patience of God.”
Historical Setting
As previously mentioned, 1 and 2 Kings serve as a narrative following Israel/Juda and the
monarchy, following the split of the Kingdom of Israel. 2 Kings 17-20 takes place during the
reign of Hoshea, who became “King of Israel in Samaria” until the Lord’s removal of Israel and
her placement in exile in Assyria (2 Kings 17:1, 23, Anders places this major event as
NASB).
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722 BC, “when the nation of Israel was attacked and destroyed by Assyrian and vanished as a
nation from the stage of history.” After the fall of Israel, the narrative follows Hezekiah’s reign
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over Judah (2 Kings 18:1), who obviously reigned prior to the Babylonian exile (587 BC). So I
would place his reign between 720 BC and 691 BC, since he reigned for 29 years.
Literary Genre
The author of 2 Kings 17-20 provides a historical account of Israel and Judah’s
monarchy, including the names and nature of each king, the prophets, Israel and Judah’s enemies,
and God. More specifically, Iain W. Provan, in , categorizes 2 Kings as narrative 1 and 2 Kings
literature. He states, “The plot is concerned with the attempt that Israel makes (or more often,
does not make) under its monarchy to live as the people of God in the promised land and with
how God deals with the Israelites in their success and failure.” The accounts present something
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similar to a cycle. Even though, in the accounts, the kings change, the behaviors of Israel and
Judah do not. Rather, they continue to defy God up until He releases His judgement upon them.
3 Unless otherwise noted, all biblical passages referenced will be in the New American Standard Bible.
4 Max Anders, Holman Old Testament Commentary: 1 and 2 Kings (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing
Group, 2003), 18.
5 Iain W. Provan, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1993), 15.1 and 2 Kings
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Theological Motifs
The narrative of 2 Kings 17-20 emphasizes a theme that practically aligns with and
expounds on the commandment that the Lord reiterates to Israel, over and over. He made it clear
when He first delivered the people of Israel from Egypt that He desired for them to worship Him
and Him along: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the
house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3). Unfortunately, much
of the prophetic books record God’s judgement of the Jews for their idolatrous behavior. And,
they continued to violate the conditions of their commitment to only worship God. Then, as we
transition into Israel’s experience under the rule of kings, we see the Lord address her failure to
be faithful to God’s commands, again, which results in exile. 2 Kings 17 provides context for
Israel’s fall: “They rejected His statutes and His covenant...and went after the nations which the
Lord had commanded them not to do like them” (2 Kings 17:15). Ultimately, years of
disobedience, in Israel’s case and her kings, led to their exile. In addressing Israel, the author also
sets the tone for what may happen to Judah, as he/she states, “Also Judah did not keep the
commandments of the Lord their God but walked in the customs which Israel had introduced” (2
Kings 17:19). In contrast to recognizing and judging Israel/Judah’s disobedience, 2 Kings 18
highlights Hezekiah as a faithful king. He was a ruler who did what was right in the Lord’s
eyes”He did right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done” (2
Kings 18:3). Due to his faithfulness, I believe, is the basis for why the Lord gave him the victory
over the Philistines as well as Sennacherib of Assyria. It can even be attributed to God’s decision
to add 15 years to Hezekiah’s life in 2 Kings 20. Essentially, 2 Kings 17-20 draws the distinction
between God’s response to faithfulness versus His response to adultery/betrayal.
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Exegetical Outline
A. The End of Israel (2 Kings 17:1-41)
1. Hoshea’s Reign (1-5)
2. Israel Captive (6)
3. Israel’s Fall (7-23)
4. Foreigners in Israel (24-41)
B. Judah’s Independence (2 Kings 18:1-37)
1. Hezekiah’s Reign (1-6)
2. Hezekiah’s Victory (7-12)
3. Assyria’s Threat (13-37)
C. Hezekiah’s Victory (2 Kings 19:1-37)
1. Isaiah Encourages Hezekiah (1-7)
2. Sennacherib Defies God (8-13)
3. Hezekiah’s Prayer (14-19)
4. God’s Response (20-37)
D. Hezekiah’s End/ Reward of Faithfulness (2 Kings 20:1-21)
1. Hezekiah’s Sickness and Recovery (1-11)
2. Hezekiah Shows Babylon His Treasures(12-21)
The End of Israel (2 Kings 17:1-41)
Using the introductory formula, which is utilized throughout the rest of 2 Kings, the
author introduces Hosea, who reigns over Israel, in Samaria up until Israel's exile. Judging by the
language of the author, Hoshea is evil but not as evil as the kings before him: “He did evil in the
sight of the Lord, only not as the kings of Israel who preceded him” (2 Kings 17:2). In verses 2-
5, we learn that Hoshea is required to pay tribute to the king of Assyria but eventually chooses to
no longer do so. Having learned this, the king of Assyria has Hoshea arrested. He then invades
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the entire land, besieging Samaria for three years. Not much is known about Hoshea but
something that can be considered positive about his reign is defiance of what the king of Assyria
desires. Verse 6 outlines the consequence of Hoshea’s actions: “In the ninth year of Hoshea, the
king of Assyria captured Samaria and led the people of Israel into exile to Assyria.” While
Hoshea’s actions may have prompted the king of Assyria to besiege the land, God’s permission
of that can be attributed to the actions of Israel as a nation. In accordance with this claim, Anders
wrote, “Although 2 Kings focuses on the behavior of the nation's kings, the people also stood
under divine indictment. It is what the Israelites had done, not just their kings, that brought
divine retribution.” Verses 7-23 give context for what had ultimately brought Israel to its end.
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The author places all blame on the people of Israel for their fall. From verse 7-12, we see
the first half of God’s judgement against Israel, which is ultimately due to their fall away from
God, implying that they fell into idolatry and attempted to mix subjects for worship. They
blatantly disobeyed the first commandment, which is why the author began the passage with
“Now came about because the sons of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had this
brought them up from the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt; and
they had feared other gods” (2 Kings 17:7). They had strayed away from God and began to
exhibit the behavior of God-less nations. From there, the author lists out their sins, with
disloyalty at the center of them. The Israelites had “followed the [ ]customs of the nations whomc
the Lord had driven out from the sons of Israel,...they built for themselves high places in all their
towns...set up for themselves memorial stones...burned incense on all the high places, and served
idols” (2 Kings 17:7-12). Their behavior did not align with the covenant the Lord had made with
them, right after freeing them from their oppressors. Volkmar Fritz, author of 1 and 2 Kings:
Continental Commentaries, wrote, “With the worship of other deities Israel acts against the
6 Ibid., 297.
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exclusivity of Yahweh in the temple at Jerusalem as it was stip- ulated by the Deuteronomic-
Deuteronomistic theology.” As seen through the text, what makes Israel subject to such
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punishment is the fact that the people knew what the Lord expected from them. He expected
loyalty and for them to worship Him and Him alone. Yet, like they demonstrated in the
wilderness, God was not at the forefront of their worship. As such, this punishment was not
sudden. The Lord had been merciful, time and time again.
In verse 13, the author says, “Yet the Lord warned Israel and Judah through all His
prophets seer, saying, “Turn back from your evil ways and keep My and every
commandments...which I sent to you through My servants the prophets” (2 Kings 17:13).
However, as the author continues from verses 14-17, the people of Israel remained “stiff-necked”
and proceeded to follow the behavior of other nations. They disregarded the warnings from the
prophets and unfortunately provoked the anger of the Lord. Fritz added, “Yahweh punishes the
broken covenant by abolishing Israel’s sovereignty as a people at the hand of the Assyrians.”
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The author concludes this section, mentioning Israel going into exile. But prior to doing so, the
author highlights Judah as the remaining nation but does not dismiss Judah’s sin that mimics that
of Israel. The author says, “Judah did not keep the commandments of the Lord their God either,
but they followed the customs which Israel had introduced” (2 Kings 17:19) The judgement of
Judah seems to serve as a warning of what could happen if the nation were to continue her
behavior.
As this section covers the nature of Israel’s sin, verses 21-23 further specifies the root of
Israel’s disloyalty. The author points to the rebellion of not adhering to the ways of the house of
David. Rather, Jeroboam had led his kingdom into sin. In reference to Jeroboam’s sins, Marvin
7 Volkmar Fritz, (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 351.1 and 2 Kings: Continental Commentaries
8 Ibid., 352.
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Sweeney writes, in , “Jeroboam’s apostasy emerges as the basis for Israel’s sins I and II Kings
against YHWH, although the rejection of the house of David points to a political dimension as
well.”
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Then, the author ends the section with Israel’s end.
In verses 24-26, the author details that in place of the people of Israel, the king of Assyria
brought foreigners to dwell in the cities of Samaria. These foreigners were not interested in
worshipping the God of Israel nor did they fear God. So, the Lord sent lions to kill them, as they
did not honor Him in the land. The people then complained to the king of Assyria, and in
response to this, he sent one of the Israelite priests who was originally in exile to teach the
foreigners the customs of the land, mainly how to worship the Lord. Unfortunately, what
happened from there was no better than what they had been originally doing. From verse 29-33,
the foreigners treated God as if He was one of the local gods, who could be included in the idols
that other nations worshipped. They worshipped the Lord along with their other gods/idols they
created. What the nations did still defied the commandment of exclusive worship of God. Provan
noted, “The kind of worship of the LORD that is taught by the exiled Israelite priest is evidently
and predictably just as flawed as the worship that led to Israel’s exile in the first place...Mixed
worship is not true worship of the God who has from the beginning demanded Do not worship
any other gods.” Again, the inhabitants at that point did not abide by the covenantal law. Not
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only that, but generations after them followed those same customs. The author expounds on the
presence of idolatry in the years that followed, (34-41) noting that “their children likewise and
their grandchildren, just as their fathers did, they do to this day” (2 Kings 17:41). So, obviously
the continuation of idol worship points to the lack of God-fearing and fully devoted leadership.
Throughout the text, we deal with Hoshea who did evil in the sight of God, the king of Assyria
9 Marvin A. Sweeney, (Louisville, KY: Presbyterian Publishing Corporation, 2013), 395.I and II Kings
10 Iain W. Provan, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1993), 191. 1 and 2 Kings
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who was a direct enemy of Israel, and the Israelite priest who taught and accepted a perverse
form of worship. All of the previously mentioned were divided in their hearts and could not have
possibly led any nation to worship the One and only true God, in spirit and in truth.
Conclusion
Modern-day Christians, including myself, have sometimes found trouble in seeing where
we fit, in Old Testament narratives, and how we can apply their principles to our lives. However,
after reading 2 Kings 17-20, I was able to discern three points that can be applied to the lives of
Christians today. One of the points for application seems to be the most basic, but we tend to find
trouble in aligning with it. 2 Kings 17-20 is centered on worship as the key facet of faithfulness
to God. Worship goes beyond the act--lifting our hands during a church service or singing songs
to the Father. It is a lifestyle, a commitment to pursuing God’s Will and adhering to His statutes.
It is also the main indicator that distinguishes us from the majority, the world. We must be
careful to carry the posture of worship from inside the four walls of the church to the world,
where our behavior can be witnessed by others who need to do the same. Scripture says, “You
are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden...“Let your light shine before men
in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven”
(Matt. 5:14,16). Our devotion to the Lord should be consistent and apparent, not in an attempt to
impress others or perform, but to simply honor the Lord and demonstrate to others the power of
God at work in our lives
The second point of application deals with faithfulness, as well. God’s decision to grant
Hezekiah another 15 years, in 2 Kings 20 stresses the idea that faithfulness/obedience bears fruit.
The Lord said to Hezekiah, “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I am going
to heal you” (2 Kings 20:5). In Hezekiah’s prayer, He told the Lord to remember his obedience
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and the way he walked before the Lord, and as we see in the Lord’s response, his faithfulness
caused him to be favored by the Lord. As for modern day Christians, we need to remember that
the Lord watches us, for the condition of our hearts is reflected in what we do and say. We, too,
can be blessed as a result of our hearts’ commitment to God. Apostle Paul states, God “will repay
each person according to his deeds” (Romans 2:6). Again, what we do matters. Hezekiah’s life is
the perfect example of the rewards of faithfulness.
The third point of application reminds us of the faithfulness of God. In 2 Kings 19, the
king of Assyria attempted to deceive Hezekiah into thinking that Assyria was more powerful than
God. He underestimated God, but Hezekiah knew to pray rather than succumb to the threats. God
responded to the prayer by assuring Hezekiah that Assyria would not consume Judah; also, the
king of Assyria would not even enter Jerusalem. By the end of 2 Kings 19, the king of Assyria
died. In our own lives, this exact occurrence would probably seem extreme. So from this, we
could apply the truth of God’s nature to our lives. We could look at how He protected Judah, who
was deemed the underdog, and believe that He would do the same for us. We all have a
Sennacherib in our lives, whether it be someone at work, bills, debtors, stress, yet, regardless of
how overwhelming the pressure may seem, the Lord is much bigger and can give us the authority
to overcome our Sennacherib. It is written that, “You are from God, little children, and have
overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
Because we belong to God, we will always be protected.
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Bibliography
Anders, Max and Gary Inrig. Holman Old Testament Commentary - 1 and 2 King. Nashville, TN:
B&H Publishers, 2003.
Fritz, Volkmar. 1 & 2 Kings: A Continental Commentary. Minneapolis, MI: Fortress Press, 2003.
Leithart, Peter. Ada, MI: Brazos 1 and 2 Kings (Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible).
Press, 2006.
Provan, I.W. . Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1995. 1 and 2 Kings
Sweeney, Marvin. I & II Kings: A Commentary. Louisville, KY: Presbyterian Publishing
Corporation, 2007.
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