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INTRODUCTION TO FIRST KINGS This, and the following book, properly are but one book, divided into two parts, and went with the Jews under the common name of Kings. This, in the Syriac version, is called the Book of Kings; and in the Arabic version, the Book of Solomon, the Son of David the Prophet, because it begins with his reign upon the death of his father; and, in the Vulgate Latin version, the Third Book of Kings, the two preceding books of Samuel being sometimes called the First and Second Books of Kings, they containing the reigns of Saul and David; and in the Septuagint version both this and the following book are called Kingdoms, because they treat of the kingdom of Israel and Judah, after the division in the times of Rehoboam, son of Solomon, and of the several kings of them; as of Solomon before the division, so afterwards of the kings of Judah; Rehoboam, Abijam, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Jehoram, Ahaziah, Jehoash, Amaziah, Uzziah or Azariah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon, Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah; and of the kings of Israel, Jeroboam, Nadab, Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Omri, Ahab, Ahaziah, Jehu, Jehoahaz, Jehoash, Jeroboam the son of Joash, Zachariah, Shallum, Menahem, Pekahiah, Pekah, and Hoshea; so that these books may, with great propriety, be called the books or histories of the kings in the two kingdoms of Judah and Israel: who they were written by, is not easy to say; some think they were written by piecemeal by the prophets that lived in the several reigns successively, as Nathan, Ahijah the Shilonite, Iddo, Isaiah, and Jeremiah, and afterwards put together by an inspired writer. The Jews commonly say f1 , that Jeremiah wrote the book of the Kings, by which they mean this, and the following book; though very probably they were written by Ezra, since the history in them is carried down to the liberty granted to Jehoiachin in Babylon; but that Ezra was the writer of all the preceding historical books, and even of the Pentateuch, cannot be admitted, which is the conceit of Spinosa f2 ; part of whose tract is just now republished by somebody, word for word, under a title as in the margin f3 ; but that Ezra was not the writer of the Pentateuch is clear, since he refers to it as written by Moses, and as the rule of religion and worship in his times, ( Ezra 3:2-4 6:18); and it is certain these writings were in being in the times of Josiah, Amaziah, Joash, yea, of David, and even of Joshua, ( 2 Chronicles 34:14 25:4 23:18 Kings 2:3 Joshua 8:34); and as for the book of Joshua, that also was written long before Ezra’s time; it must be written long before the times of David, before the Jebusites were expelled from Jerusalem, since the writer of it says, that they dwelt there in his days, ( Joshua 15:63); the book of Judges must be written before the times of Samuel and David, since the former refers to the annals of it, ( 1 Samuel 12:9,10); and the latter alludes to some passages in it, ( Psalm 68:7,8); (see Judges 5:4,5); and a speech of Joab’s, ( 2 Samuel 11:21), shows it to be an history then extant: to which may be added, that in it Jerusalem is called Jebus, ( Judges 19:10,11); which it never was, after it was taken by David out of the hands of the Jebusites, ( 2 Samuel 5:6); the book of Ruth very probably was written by Samuel; had it been of a later date, or written by Ezra, the genealogy with which it concludes, would doubtless have been carried further than to David: the Book of Samuel, and particularly the song of Hannah in it, were written in all probability before the penning of the hundred thirteenth psalm, ( <19B301> Psalm 113:1-9), in which some expressions seem to be taken from it wherefore, though the two books of Kings may be allowed to be written or compiled by Ezra, the ten preceding ones cannot be assigned to him: however, there is no room to doubt of the divine authority of these two books, when the honour our Lord has done them is observed, by quoting or referring to several histories in them; as to the account of the queen of Sheba coming to hear the wisdom of Solomon; of the famine in the times of Elijah; and of that prophet being sent to the widow of Sarepta, and of the cleansing of Naaman the Syrian in the times of Elisha, ( Matthew 12:42 Luke 4:25-28) from ( 1 Kings 17:1-10) ( 2 Kings 5:10-14); to which may be added, the quotations and references made by the apostles to passages in them, as by the Apostle Paul in ( Romans 11:2-4) from ( 1 Kings 19:14,18); where this book is expressly called the Scripture; and by the Apostle James, ( James 5:17,18); who manifestly refers to ( 1 Kings 17:1-24); and there are various things in this part of Scripture, which are confirmed by the testimonies of Heathen writers, as will be observed in the exposition of it.
The use of these books is to carry on the history of the Jewish nation, to show the state of the church of God in those times, and his providential care of it amidst all the changes and vicissitudes in the state; and, above all, to transmit to us the true genealogy of the Messiah, which serves to confirm the Evangelist Matthew’s account of it.