Two books of the Old Testament (also known and First and Second Kings)
Kings, THIRD AND FOURTH BOOKS OF.—The historical book called in the Hebrew Melakhim, i.e. Kings, is in the Vulgate, in imitation of the Septuagint, styled the Third and Fourth Book of Kings. This designation is justified, inasmuch as the historical narration contained in I and II Kings is herein continued, and, especially, because the history of David's life, begun in I and II, is here concluded. It is, on the other hand, an independent work, distinct from the Books of Samuel (i.e. I and II Kings) in its origin and its style, as well as by reason of the purpose it has in view. Its division into two books—at an awkward place, just in the middle of the history of Ochozias did not exist in early times, and has only been introduced later into the Hebrew editions from the Septuagint and the Vulgate. A division into three parts would be more in keeping with the contents. The first part (III Kings, 1-xi), beginning with David's enactments concerning the succession to the throne and his last instructions, comprises the history of Solomon: his God-given wisdom, the building of the temple and royal palace, the splendor of his reign, his great fall on account of which God announced to him the breaking up of his realm. The second part (III Kings, xii-IV Kings, xvii) gives an historical survey of the kindred Kingdoms of Juda arid Israel: Jeroboam's falling away from God arid worship of the golden calf, the continuous wars between the succeeding kings of Israel and Juda up to Achab, the endeavors on the part of Elias to bring back to God the people misled by Achab, the destructive alliances between the house of Achab and the house of David, the miracles, prophecies, and, activity of Eliseus, the destruction of the race of Achab by Jehu, Athalia's abortive attempt to destroy the house of David, the further line of contemporaneous kings of Juda and Israel until the end of the last-named kingdom, with an epilogue setting forth the causes of the fall of the latter. The third part (IV Kings, xviii-xxv) treats of the history of the Kingdom of Juda after the reign of Ezechias: his miraculous deliverance from the power of the Assyrians, his boastful conniving with the Babylonians, which gave rise to the Babylonian Captivity and Exile, the historical account of the reign of Manasses, whose sins evoked the pronouncement of the ruin of Juda, of Josias, who restored the temple, renewed the covenant with God, and endeavored to stamp out idolatry, of the last kings up to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, with a short postscript concerning the Judeans who had remained behind, and the delivery of King Joachim from his imprisonment. The Books of Kings were not completed in their present form before the middle of the Exile. Indeed IV Kings, xxv, 27-30, relates that Joachim was released from bondage (562), and admitted to the court of Babylon for "all the days of his life".
According to the Babylonian Talmud (Baba bathra, fol. 15, 1), the Prophet Jeremias is the author. Not a few among both older and more recent exegetes consider this probable. It is indeed remarkable that Jeremias's activity is not alluded to—his name not even being mentioned—although he stood in close relation to the events of the last few years, while everything other prophets (e.g. Elias, Eliseus, Isaias) did for kings and people is carefully noted. In case Jeremias was the author, we have to accept the explanation that he did not consider it suitable to relate here what he had set forth at length in his prophecy. Furthermore, Jer., lii, the narrative of the events in which Jeremias's predictions were fulfilled, is taken almost verbatim from IV Kings, xxiv, 18-xxv 30. The compiler of the Prophecy of Jeremias felt justified in doing this, inasmuch as, in his opinion, the Books of Kings were by the same author. There is an undoubted resemblance in language and style between this historical book and the Prophecy of Jeremias. The same expressions occur in both writings (compare, for instance, III Kings, ii, 4, with Jer., xxxiii, 17; III Kings, ix, 8, with Jer., xviii, 16, and xix, 8, also Lam., ii, 15; IV Kings, xxi, 12, with Jer., xix, 3; IV Kings, xxi, 13, 14, with Jer., xxx, 16, and xxii, 17, also Lam., ii, 8). If Jeremias be indeed the author, it must be accepted as probable that he wrote the book not long before, or shortly after, the fall of Jerusalem (587 B.C.); the last verses (xxv, 27-30) have possibly been added by a different hand. The style, especially in the second chapter, is entirely different from that of the Books of Samuel (I and II Kings). The well-developed and comprehensive presentation of those books differs noticeably from the dry and chronicle-like reports about most of the kings. Besides, the Books of Samuel never refer to those lost books which served as sources and which contained fuller particulars, while the Books of Kings are full of such references. In the latter books the chronology is very clearly set down; for instance, as long as the two kingdoms exist simultaneously, in considering the history of one king, the year in which the contemporary king of the other kingdom acceded to the throne and the length of his reign are both indicated. Such notices are entirely absent from the Books of Samuel. From them it is even impossible to discover how long Samuel and Saul governed. Moreover, the historian of III and IV Kings himself passes judgment on every king of Israel and of Juda as to whether he did right or wrong in the eyes of God; whereas the Books of Samuel simply give the judgments of other historians or leave it to the reader to judge for himself.
The Books of Kings cover a period of about four centuries, from the time of the last years of David until the fall of Jerusalem. They do not give the complete history of Israel during this period; such was not the purpose of the writer. He omits many important events or barely alludes to them. For the political history of the two kingdoms, the military exploits of the kings, their public achievements, he constantly refers to three other writings which, at that time, were still in existence. By these references he wishes to indicate that he does not intend to relate everything which may be found in those sources. Whoever wanted information concerning the wars, the treaties, and public acts was to consult the writings, referred to. In the Book of Kings, as is shown by its contents, another matter predominates, namely, the relation of each king to revealed religion. For this reason, the narrator judges the conduct of each king, treats more extensively the history of those kings who fostered or brought religion to a flourishing state (such as Solomon, Ezechias, Josias), or who had, on the contrary, wrought it great harm (Jeroboam I, Achab, and Joram); and therefore he relates particularly what the prophets did to bring back the kings and people to the observance of the laws of religion and to spur them on. The object the writer had in view he indicates very clearly in the epilogue which follows the story of the fall of Israel (IV Kings, xvii, 7 sqq.). With emphasis he points out the cause: "They worshipped strange gods... and they hearkened not [to the warnings of the prophets]... and they rejected the covenant that he [God] made with their fathers... And the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them from his sight, and there remained only the tribe of Juda. But neither did Juda itself keep the commandments of the Lord their God: but they walked in the errors of Israel. And the Lord cast off all the seed of Israel." III Kings, ii, 3, 4; ix, 3-9; xi, 11, 33-39; xiv, 7-11; xvi, 12 sqq.; IV Kings, x, 30-33; xiii, 3; xxi, 11-16; xxii, 15-17; xxiv, 3-20, bring out the same idea. In this manner the writer teaches that the unlawful cult offered in the high places and the idolatry practiced both by kings and people in spite of the admonitions of the prophets were the cause of the downfall of Israel and of Juda. Still this is not the entire purpose of the work. The repeated calling to mind of the promises of the God Who had pledged a permanent reign to David, the acknowledgment of the mercy of the God Who, on account of David, Ezechias, and Josias, had suspended the judgment pronounced upon Juda—all this served to revive the hope and confidence of the remnant of the people. From this they were to learn that God, just in His wrath, was also merciful in His promises to David and would be faithful to His promise of sending the Messias, whose kingdom should endure. Not inappropriately this whole work may be called an historical elucidation and explanation of Nathan's oracle (II Kings, vii, 12-16).
The writings upon which the Books of Kings are based and to which they refer more than thirty times are: the "book of the words of the days of Solomon" (III Kings, xi, 41), the "book of the words of the days [A. V., book of the chronicles] of the kings of Israel" (xiv, 19; etc.), and the "book of the words of the days of the kings of Juda" (xiv, 29; etc.). In the opinion of many, these "chronicles" are the official annals kept by the chancellors of the different kings. However, it is by no means certain that the office designated by the Hebrew word mazkir signifies chancellor (Vulg. a commentariis); still less certain is it that it was part of the duty of the chancellor, who belonged to the king's household, to keep these annals. It is true that David (II Kings, viii, 16), Solomon (III Kings, iv, 3), Ezechias (IV Kings, xviii, 18), and Josias (II Par., xxxiv, 8) counted among their officials a mazkir, but whether the other kings of Juda and of Israel employed such an officer we find nowhere indicated. Even if it were historically certain that so-called yearbooks were kept in the two kingdoms by the chancellors, and had been preserved in Israel in spite of so many revolutions and regicides, there remains still the question whether these are really the "chronicles" which serve as a basis for the Books of Kings. The chronicles of other peoples, as far as they have been preserved in cuneiform characters and otherwise, contain exclusively that which contributes to the glory of the kings, their deeds of arms, the edifices they built, etc. Our historical work, however, also relates the sins, prevarications, and other atrocities of the kings, which were not likely to be recorded in the yearbooks by court officials during the lifetime of their kings. According to IV Kings, xxi, 17, "The acts of Manasses. and his sin which he sinned, are they not written in the book of the words of the days [A. V. book of the chronicles—II Kings, xxi, 17] of the kings of Juda?"
We may endeavor to determine the nature of these sources in another way. By comparing the accounts in the Books of Kings and those in II Par., one is immediately struck by two things: With frequent verbal similarity, both works carefully indicate the sources which have been consulted. The history of Solomon's reign, III Kings, i-xi, is told in II Par., i-ix, in almost the same manner, and while III Kings, xi, 41, refers to the "book of the words of the days of Solomon", II Par., ix, 29, refers in the same formula ("The rest of", etc.) to "the words of Nathan the prophet, and the books of Ahias the Silonite, and the vision of Addo the seer". The history of Roboam the author of the Books of Kings takes from the "book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah" (A. V. I Kings, xiv, 29). The writer of II Par., x-xii, gives an account of the same which in contents and form is almost identical, and refers to "the books of Semeias the prophet, and of Addo the seer" (II Par., xii, 15). The same holds for the history of the following kings of Juda. After an account, often in almost the same words, now elaborate and then again more concise, we find in the Book of Kings the "book of the chronicles" and in II Par. the "prophetic writings" given as sources. It must be added that, while in the life story of four of the seven kings in II Par., reference to the source is omitted, these are also absent in the Books of Kings. Is it then not probable that it is one and the same source whence both writers have gathered their information? The "book of the chronicles" quoted in III and IV Kings the writer of II Par. designates by the then usual appellation, "the book of the kings of Juda and Israel". The prophetic writings referred to by this writer are divisions of the last-named book. This the writer states explicitly (II Par., xx, 34) of "the words [or the writings] of Jehu the son of Hanani" (his source for the history of Josaphat): they are "digested into the books of the kings of Israel [and Juda]"; also (II Par., xxxii, 32—Vulg.) of "the vision of Isaias, son of Amos": it is embodied in "the book of the kings of Juda and Israel". Consequently, the source utilized by both writers is nothing else but the collection of the writings left behind by the successive prophets.
That the author of the Book of Kings has thoroughly consulted his sources, is constantly evident. Thus he is able to describe the labors and miracles of Elias and Eliseus with such minuteness and in so fresh and vivid a manner as to make it plain that the original narrator was an eyewitness. This is why he consults the sources and refers the reader to them in his account of the life of almost every king; not a few expressions have been taken over verbally (cf. III Kings, viii, 8; ix, 21; xii, 19; IV Kings, xiv, 7, etc.). The authenticity of his history is further strengthened by its agreement with the accounts of II Par. The difficulties which appear at the superficial perusal of these Sacred Writings vanish after an attentive study, what seemed contradictory proving to be an amplification or else entirely new matter. In many places the historical reliability of the Books of Kings is confirmed by what the prophetic writings of Isaias, Jeremias, Osee, Amos, Micheas, and Sophonias report concerning the same events, either by direct mention or by allusion. Even profane historians of antiquity, Berosus, Manetho, and Menander, are quoted by Flavius Josephus and Eusebius as witnesses to the reliability of our book of sacred history. Especially notable in this respect are the inscriptions concerning the Oriental races discovered during the last century.
CHRONOLOGY OF THE KINGS.—Since the deciphering of the Assyro-Babylonian inscriptions, the chronology of the period of Kings before 730 B.C. has become untenable. We give here the points of chronological contact between the Assyro-Babylonian history and Sacred Scripture, as also those of Egyptian history.
A. From Assyrian Inscriptions.
(I) 854 B.C. Salmanasar II, in the summer of his sixth year, vanquishes Benadad of Syria (III Kings, xx, 1), the predecessor of Hazael, with other kings, among them Achab of Israel, in the battle of Karkar.
(2) 842 B.C. Salmanasar II, in his eighteenth year, receives tribute from Jehu.
(3) 738 B.C. Theglathphalasar III (Phul, IV Kings, xv, 19) receives, in his eighth year, tribute from Manahem.
(4) 733-2 B.C. War between Theglathphalasar and Rasin of Syria; siege of Damascus. "Joachaz of Juda", i.e. Achaz, brings presents from Theglathphalasar. Conquest of Israelitish territory by Theglathphalasar.
(5) 731-0 (?) B.C. "Pakacha", i.e. Phacee (Hebr. Pekach), is killed, and "Ausi", i.e. Osee, is set over Israel by Theglathphalasar.
(6) 722-1 B.C. Samaria is taken possession of, in the early part of Sargon's reign, by the Assyrians.
B. From Scripture.—
(I) Towards the end of Solomon's reign, Jeroboam I fled into Egypt to Sesac. In the fifth year of the reign of Roboam, Jerusalem was plundered by the same Sesac (III Kings, xi, 40; xiv, 25). Sesac I probably reigned about 940-19 B.C.
(2) In, or shortly before, the fifteenth year of Asa's reign, "Zara the Ethiopian" (Hebr. Zerach) declared war against Asa [II Par. (A. V. II Chron.), xiv, 9; cf. xv, 10 sqq.]. Some commentators think that Zara was a king of Egypt, namely, Osorkon I or II. The first was the successor of Sesac I. The second cannot be placed chronologically.
(3) Benadad II (III Kings, xx, 1), the contemporary of Salmanasar II, was contemporary with Achab and Joram of Israel. Joram died during the reign of Benadad's successor, Hazael. According to Assyrian sources Benadad was, in 846, still King of Syria.
(4) Hazael, who, according to Assyrian inscriptions, was already ruling in 842, was contemporary with Jehu, Joas of Juda, and Joachaz of Israel (IV Kings, xiii, 22). In 803, Ramman-nirari III conquered Damascus under the Syrian King Mari, who was possibly the Biblical Benadad (III), contemporary of Joas of Israel (ibid., v. 25).
(5) Manahem honors Phul, King of the Assyrians, with presents (IV Kings, xv, 19-20). That Phul is identical with Theglathphalasar III is apparent enough from the fact that, in the year 729, according to Assyrian inscriptions, Tukultiapalisarra, and Babylonian inscriptions Pulu, becomes King of Babylon, and that this same king, according to the same sources, died in 727.
(6) Phacee and Rasin, King of Syria, besiege Achaz at Jerusalem (IV Kings, xvi, 5). Achaz calls Theglathphalasar to his assistance (ibid., v. 8).
(7) Damascus is taken by Theglathphalasar, and Rasin is killed (IV Kings, xvi, 9). Achaz visits Theglathphalasar at Damascus (ibid., v. 10).
(8) Theglathphalasar, during the reign of Phacee, takes possession of Israel's territory. Phacee is conspired against and slain by Osee, and the latter becomes king (IV Kings, xv, 29, 30).
(9) Salmanasar beleaguers Samaria, which, in the third year of the siege, the sixth of Ezechias, and the ninth of Osee, is taken by the Assyrians (IV Kings, xvii, 5, 6; xviii, 10, 11). Salmanasar reigned from January, 726, to January, 721. Sua (or Seve), mentioned in IV Kings, xvii, 4, as "king of Egypt", is not identified with certainty. Some think him to be Sabaka, whose chronology, as also that of Theraca (IV Kings, xix, 9), has not been determined. Under Sargon of Assyria is mentioned, in the year 707, one Sib'u, or Sib'e, as "prince [turtan, or sultan] of Musri".
(10) Ezechias received, in or shortly after his fourteenth year, an embassy from Merodach-Baladan (D. V. Berodach Baladan), who was King of Babylon from 721 to 710, and again, for 9 months, in 703. See IV Kings, xx, 1, 6, 12.
(11) Sennacherib of Assyria besieged Ezechias at Jerusalem. The date given for this event, "in the fourteenth year of King Ezechias" (IV Kings, xviii, 13; and Is., xxxvi, 1) is either misplaced or incorrect. The event took place, according to IV Kings, xx, 6, after the recovery of Ezechias in his fourteenth year (i.e. fifteen years before his death), and after the arrival of the Babylonian embassy.
(12) Death of Josias in a combat with Nechao, King of Egypt (IV Kings, xxiii, 29). Nechao (Necho II) ascended the throne in 610.
(13) Battle near Carchemish (Charcamis, Karchemis) between Nechao and Nabuchodonosor of Babylon in the fourth year of Joakim (Jer., xlvi, 2; cf. xxv, 1; and IV Kings, xxiv, 1). According to the account of Berosus in Flavius Josephus, Nabuchodonosor, after having slaughtered the Egyptian army near Carchemish, marched on to Syria and Palestine in order to invade Egypt. Arrived at the confines of this country, he received the news of the death of his father, Nabopolassar. Returning to Babel to assume his administration, he confided the Jewish, Phoenician, and Syrian prisoners of war to the chiefs of his army. In consequence of this Juda also rose in revolt against him (cf. II Par., xxxvi, 6; and Dan., i, 1). Nabopolassar died in the beginning of the summer of 605 B.C. The fourth year of Joakim is, in Jer., xxv, 1, designated as the first year of Nabuchodonosor, and, according to v. 3 of the same, was the twenty-third after the thirteenth year of Josias.
(14) Nabuchodonosor takes Joachin (Jechonias) as a prisoner to Babylon, according to Jer., lii, 28, in the seventh, according to IV Kings, xxiv, 12, in the eighth, year of his reign. Chapter lii, 28-34, in Jeremias, follows the Babylonian manner of dating (post-dating), whereas the other texts count the initial year of any reign as the first. According to Babylonian dating, the first year of Nabuchodonosor was 604, but, according to Israelitish dating, it was 605. Jer., lii, 31, "In the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Joachin, king of Juda, in the twelfth month, the five and twentieth day of the month, Evilmerodach king of Babylon, in the first year of his reign [i.e. 562 B.C.], lifted up the head of Joachin, king of Juda, and brought him forth out of prison" (incorporated in IV Kings, xxv, 27), evidently follows Babylonian dating. All these datings point to 598 as the year when Joachin was carried away.
(15) In his eighth year, or the beginning of his ninth year, Sedecias revolted against Nabuchodonosor and called to his assistance Egypt, namely, the newly elevated Pharao Hophra (D. V. Ephree), who ascended the throne in 589 (probably the first half of the year)—IV Kings, xxiv, 20 (cf. xxv, 1); Jer., xxxvii, 4 (A. V. xxxvii, 5); xliv, 30; Ezech., xvii, 15.
(16) The siege of Jerusalem began in the tenth month of the ninth year of Sedecias (IV Kings, xxv, 1; Jer., xxxix, 1; lii, 4). According to Jer., xxxii, 1, the tenth year of Sedecias coincides with the eighteenth of Nabuchodonosor. Jerusalem was taken in the eleventh year of Sedecias, the nineteenth year of Nabuchodonosor, in the fourth month (IV Kings, xxv, 8; Jer., lii, 12). According to Babylonian chronology, this was the eighteenth year of Nabuchodonosor (Jer., lii, 29).
(17) The fourth month of the eleventh year of Sedecias falls in the nineteenth year (Israelitish chronology) of Nabuchodonosor. From this it appears that the fourth month (Thammuz) of the first year of Sedecias falls in the ninth year of Nabuchodonosor. As Joachin's abduction took place in the eighth year of Nabuchodonosor, it is very probable that Sedecias became king in this, the eighth, year.
From the present uncertainty as to the dates of accession it follows that the precise year B.C. in which any king began his reign cannot, in most cases, be determined. The inexactness is increased by the fact that the duration of any one reign is given in round numbers of years, so that, in the absence of any determining data, it is impossible to know whether the time is too long or too short by a fraction of a year. We have, therefore, to consider the dates B.C. here given as—within a year, earlier or later—more or less inaccurate. Dates marked with an asterisk (*) may, however, be regarded as reasonably exact.
The inaccuracies in the chronology of the Bible are attributable to various causes. In many cases they are due to would-be "corrections" on the part of the copyists, who did not understand certain passages or sought to bring certain dates into agreement with an error of long standing. Thus the discrepancy of twenty years excess in the reign of Azarias has also been carried through the synchronisms of the Israelitish kings, Zacharias, etc. The synchronistic comparisons between Joatham, Achaz, and Ezechias, on the one hand, and Phacee and Osee, on the other, form a very inaccurate combination, brought into the Bible by the speculations of successive copyists and commentators.
The statement, tolerably accurate chronologically, concerning the beginning of Osee's reign, "in the twentieth year of Joatham" (IV Kings, xv, 30), who, be it noted, only reigned sixteen years (v. 33), seems to have originated with some one who did not wish to mention the godless Achaz. The twenty years of the reign of Phacee, in whose second year Joatham became king, stand in relation to the twentieth year of Joatham like cause and effect. The synchronisms of Ezechias with Osee got into the Bible through the undoubtedly genuine "twelfth year of Achaz", during which Osee became an independent king, by means of the following arithmetical calculation:—
Phacee became king in the 52nd year of Azarias. Achaz became king in the 17th year of Phacee. Osee became king in the 12th year of Achaz. Total 81 years to Osee.
Azarias reigned 52 years Joatham reigned 16 years Achaz reigned 16 years Total 84 years to Ezechias.
Subtract 81 years to Osee
There remain 3 years of Osee till Ezechias became king.
That the reverse is not the case, that is, that the twelfth year of Achaz is not the result of a calculation, is shown by the fact that the other possible calculations would produce the fourth, and not the twelfth, year of Achaz. The other reckonings are as follows:
52 years of Azarias 52 years of Azarias.
20 years Phacee 16 years of Joatham.
Total 72 years to Osee 68 years to Achaz.
Less 68 years to Achaz
There remain 4 years of Achaz when Osee becomes king.
The year 68 of Azarias = 17 Phacee = 16 Joatham = 0 Achaz.
Add 4 years to each:
The year 72 of Azarias = 21 Phacee = 20 Joatham = 4 Achaz =1 Osee.
From this it appears that not the "twelfth year of Achaz", but the "twentieth year of Joatham", is reckoned. The calculation was correct in regard to Osee's beginning as vassal of Assyria. But some one else confused this with the declaration of independence of Osee in the twelfth year of Achaz, and thus arrived at the "third year of Osee" before the beginning of Ezechias, whence resulted further synchronistic statements between Osee and Ezechias. That these synchronisms are not historical, but must have been introduced into the Bible by a "speculator", is proved by what follows:
(I) That which is added, II Par., xxx, 5-9, 11, 25; and xxxi, 1, about the first year of Ezechias, was not possible while a king ruled in the kingdom of the Ten Tribes.
(2) If Ezechias became king six or seven years before the capture of Samaria, consequently in 728-7, then his reign of twenty-nine years must have ended in 699-8, and his recovery must have taken place fifteen years before, about 713. On this occasion the promise is made to Ezechias that he and his city Jerusalem shall be delivered "out of the hand of the king of the Assyrians" (IV Kings, xx, 6). This king was Sennacherib, who ascended the throne only in 705, while this event, according to Assyrian sources, took place not earlier than 701. There is no ground for assuming that strained relations existed between Ezechias and Sargon (722-705), who, nevertheless, just about 713, was engaged with the Philistines, and in 711 conquered Azotus (cf. Is., xx, 1). The cause of serious animosity between Ezechias and Assyria was evidently the embassy of Merodach-Baladan, who had no relations whatever with the King of Juda, and who did not send to him a magnificent embassy to congratulate him on his recovery without some ulterior motive. We cannot but regard this as an expression of the unfriendly attitude towards the Assyrians which was favored by Ezechias. This is the light in which we can understand the war of the Assyrian against Juda. But cause and effect must be connected according to time. As to the year 713 or shortly afterwards (for the delivery of Ezechias), there can, then, be no discussion. The year 703 is probably correct; Merodach-Baladan had then regained the throne of Babylon, and Sennacherib already ruled in Assyria. Thus the recovery of Ezechias would have taken place in about 704. While this would be his fourteenth year, 718-7 would then be his first, which calculation also agrees with other data. Cf. Winckler, "Alttest. linters.", 135.
(3) If Ezechias became king in 728-7, then Achaz could not have reigned more than seven or eight years, and in this case the father would at most have been only seven years older than the son (cf. what follows). For a joint reign of Ezechias and Achaz is out of the question, and the supposition that Ezechias was not his son is, in view of IV Kings, xviii, 1, and II Par., xxviii, 27, without sufficient basis. Neither can another interpretation of the word son, accepted a number of times in the Books of Kings by Herzog, be considered a fortunate hypothesis.
By the anticipation of the twenty-nine years' reign, of Ezechias there resulted a shortage of ten years which has probably been made up by lengthening the reign of Manasses by ten years.
The year 730 as the beginning of Osee's reign is, according to Biblical statistics, reasonably certain. For in his sixth or seventh year, and in the twelfth year of Achaz, he rose against Salmanasar (IV Kings, xviii, 9; cf. xvii, 4), and in his ninth year Samaria was taken. The year 722-1 being the ninth, 730 is consequently the first. The Assyrian account of the death of Phacee and the nomination of Osee is usually placed by Assyriologists at about 734-732, since Theglathphalasar was not in Palestine again after 732. This reason is, however, not convincing. The course of events after 735-4 is probably as follows. The anti-Assyrian party in Palestine, of which Rasin of Damascus was the head and moving spirit, organized an up-rising and endeavored to draw the other nations into it. Hence the alliance between Rasin and Phacee against Juda, which declined to participate in the uprising, and their endeavor, on the death of Joatham, to keep his son Achaz from the throne. Achaz appealed to Theglathphalasar for assistance. The latter immediately made for his object, namely, the subjection of Syria and the conquest of Damascus, without neglecting to occupy also the surrounding districts which belonged to Israel. Cf. IV Kings, xvi, 7-9; and xv, 29. After the fall of Damascus in the summer of 732, Tyre and Israel must have been conquered, but, when winter approached, Theglathphalasar turned all further operations over to his rabsak (whom he, according to his own inscriptions, dispatched against Tyre), and retired to Ninive. The territory of Israel was taken possession of, perhaps partly while the monarch was still in command; but, before Samaria could be taken, Osee, supported by the Assyrian party, had executed his stroke and caused Phacee to fall. Various circumstances assign the subjection of Tyre, Israel, and Ascalon to 731-30, and the appointment of Osee as Assyrian vassal king over Israel need not be placed before 730. (Cf. Winckler, op. cit., 132, sqq.)
The chronology of the kings of Juda, as approximately determined above, has still to be compared with their ages at the commencement of their respective reigns—given in Holy Scripture for most of them. If we assume that, in the co-regencies which we have considered, the age at the beginning of the co-administration is indicated, we arrive at about the following dates of birth:—
David 1042 Achaz, s. (753 or) 758Roboam (grandson) 973 Ezechias, s. 742Josaphat (great-g.s.) 909 Manasses, s. 700 Joram, s. 881 Amon, s. 665Ochozias, s. 864 Josias, s. 649Joas, s. 843 Joachaz, s. 633Amasias, s. 821 Joakim, b. 634Azarias, s. 783 Joachin, s. (606 or) 616Joatham, s. 774 Sedecias, s. of Josias 619
The variants 42, 20, and 8, in connection with Ochozias, Achaz, and Joachin, must be considered as erroneous.
The year 774 in connection with Joatham is impossible, because his father was born in 783. In order to avoid other difficulties, we shall, in connection with Joatham, write 15 instead of 25 (years old when he began to reign). The year of his birth thus becomes 764. By this Achaz, who is supposed to have been born in 758 (or 753), reaches into the same period, however. Let us here also write 15 instead of 25. Now Achaz is born in 748. But, in this case, Ezechias cannot have been born in 742. If we again change the 25 years, in the case of Ezechias, to 15, then the year of his birth becomes 732. (If we suppose the reign of Ezechias to begin in 728-7, there is no way of accounting for Ezechias as the son of Achaz.) The confusion in the duration of the various reigns of the period was responsible for the increase in the different life-times. The change from the singular 'eser (ten) to the plural 'esrim (twenty) was but a step.
More errors need not be supposed in the enumerative statement of the various ages. In the above list only the following changes have to be made: Joatham 764; Achaz, 748; Ezechias, 732.
D. A. W. H. SLOET