This second major unit of the book of Kings deals with the period in Israel's history beginning with the division of the kingdom into the two distinct nations of Judah and Israel and ending with the eventual destruction of Israel at the hands of the Assyrians (c. 931-721 b.c.). The events of the split itself are recounted in 12:1-24. The remaining chapters trace the journeys of each nation, interchanging sections dealing first with the kings of one nation and then with the other.
Interspersed throughout the entire unit are selected prophetic speeches as well as various stories describing the actions of the prophets. Particularly noteworthy of these are the two major blocks of material dealing with Elijah (1Ki 17:1-2Ki 2:18) and Elisha (2Ki 2:19-8:29). At first glance these sections appear to be out of place or at least unreasonably extended. But the importance of the prophetic word to the Deuteronomistic perspective must always be kept in mind. Apart from these sections we find isolated stories and repeated references to the role of the prophets in the affairs of the kings. Here, however, we receive a particularized or in-depth view of prophetic activity. In effect, the editor pauses to focus on a relatively brief period of the entire story before resuming the more rapid pace.
The overall unit comes to a close with an account describing the fall and subsequent repopulating of the northern kingdom of Israel (2Ki 17:1-6, 24-41). Coupled with this description is a theological statement explaining why such a dreadful event ever took place (17:7-23).
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