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“There is only one immutable Book, one pure-written « wisdom," speaking of God in words meant to teach menthe Bible !'
• Voice of the Holy Spirit, making known .
• Welcome, dear Book, in Thee Heaven's Manna lies.
“The mere ethical teaching of the Bible would alone stamp it as the greatest literary treasure of mankind.' GOETHE.
•The greatest and main abuse of Scripture is the wresting of it by men from its plain signification to prove somewhat entirely alien to its spirit.*
I. Title. The title of these books is fairly appropriate and adequately suggestive of the contents, for it is apparent, on the most cursory glance, that we have before us a connected account of the greater part of Israel's history under the monarchy. The two books form one whole, and were origin. ally undivided. The Septuagint translators, taking the two Books of Samuel, which also were originally one, as forming with the Books of Kings one continuous history, divided the whole into four parts, which they designated the First, Second, Third and Fourth Books of the Kingdoms. This division was followed by the Vulgate, who substituted Kings for Kingdoms; and thus it came about that, in the titles of our A.V., the First Book of Samuel is said to be commonly called the First Book of the Kings,' and so on, although the original distinctive names of Samuel and Kings have been restored.
11. General View of the Books. The books do not present a complete history of the kings. The first book begins while David is still reigning, and the narrative of the first two chapters runs on quite in the style of the Books of Samuel, and as a continuation of them. And it was this, no doubt, that led the Greek translators to regard the Books of Samuel and Kings as one connected series. Nevertheless there are peculi. arities in the literary style and in the mode of treating the materials and of viewing the subject which make it certain that the ‘Book of Kings' comes from other hands and belongs to another time than the Book of Samuel.' For example, the * Book of Samuel' makes no reference to the Babylonian Exile, nor even to the schism of the kingdoms, whereas it is evident that the writer of the ‘Book of Kings' has the separation of the kingdoms in his mind's eye from the beginning, and the nar. rative is continued down to the thirty-seventh year of the captivity of Jehoiachin.
The space of time thus covered is about 410 years, and it • divides itself naturally into three periods—the time of the un
divided monarchy under Solomon, the time of the divided kingdom till the fall of Samaria, and the time of the surviving kingdom of Judah till the Captivity by Nebuchadnezzar. The work itself, however, makes no distinction of these periods, but runs on in a continuous and somewhat stereotyped narrative. The separation of the book into two is quite arbitrary, and there is no break in the narrative at the end of what is now First Kings.
III. First Period : Solomon's Reign. This period is 'treated at greater length than any subsequent reign, its record occupying eleven chapters. Two of these, however, relate to
the circumstances that led to Solomon's accession to the throne * while his father David was alive, and the greater part of the remaining chapters is taken up with the account of the building of the Temple and of the royal palace. The substance of the section may be briefly stated. We are first told how the intrigue to set Adonijah, an elder brother of Solomon, on the throne was detected and thwarted by Nathan and Bathsheba, and how David, from his death-bed, gave orders for the public proclamation of us Solomon as king. The young king shows his statecraft in removing those who had been instrumental to the plot, and gains renown by the wisdom he displayed in deciding a difficult case that came before him for judgment. Then comes a description of the order and officials of the royal household, and of the arrangements made for the administration of the country and the supply of the king's table. Solomon's fame spread into all lands; in particular, Hiram, King of Tyre, who had been a friend of David, sent a friendly embassy, and a treaty was en. tered into, in terms of which Solomon was to receive timber and materials for his building operations in return for supplies of the produce of Palestine. This leads to a particular description of the preparations undertaken in Lebanon and at Jerusalem, and an account of the construction of the Temple and the royal palace. The buildings were completed after twenty years' labour, and formally dedicated.
In this section of the book there is little evidence of a literary plan, but we are made distinctly aware of the intention of the book and the point of view of the writer. That so much space is devoted to the description of the Temple, as compared with the few particulars relating to the king's palace, is not merely owing to the author's better acquaintance with the courts and furniture of the sacred house than with the interior of the royal residence, but to the fact that he regarded the erection of the . Temple as of prime importance for the history which he is writing. And that this is meant to be a sacred, and not merely a secular, history is further evinced by the fact that, along with the glowing accounts of the greatness and fame of Solomon,