Kings / Melachem; Book Two Kingdoms of Judea and Israel.
25 Chapters chronicling the deterioration and destruction of the two splinter kingdoms -- remnants of the Great State of Israel established by Kings David and Solomon. The Assyrians conquer Israel, and soon afterwards, Judea falls under the sword of the Babelonians. (The year 3340 - Creation count, or 591 BC).
The motif of 'crime and punishment' is repeated throughout the book, where the 'crime' is abandoning the God of Israel in favor of the local celebrities idols, and the punishment is a bitter defeat by a neighboring king. Albeit, many sinners kings rule for many years and die peacefully, and some better kings suffer painfully. The 'punishment formula' remains obscure.
18 verses. King Achazia fell badly and was bed ridden. He then sent messengers to a philistine idol to learn his survivial chances. The prophet Aliyahu intercepted the messengers, told them to return to the king, to admonish him for ignoring God and turning to the idols. He was also announcing his punishment -- not to get up from his sickness bed. The king sends a 50 strong military force to fetch the prophet, but Aliyahu commands a divine fire to devour the soldiers. He repeats the fire on a second expedition. The commander of the third begs for his life, and Eliyahu accompanies him back to the king telling him in person the anger of God for his turning to the idols, then letting him know that he would never get up from his present sickness. Indeed so happened, and since he had no sons he was replaced by Yehoram, who became the new king of Israel. At the same time Yehoram the son of Yehoshafat ruled Judea.
25 verses. An extraordinary, and unique Biblical story: Elyahu, a mortal, is snatched up by horses and chariots of fire, after he performs a read-see like miracle: parting the water of the Jordan river. Elyhsa asks, and apparently is granted twice the Elyahu spirituality. Yet, when some kids hassle newly minted Elysha, he curses them and two bears devour 42 kids.
The king of Israel, Yehorm, asks the King of Yehuda, Yehoshafat to join forces against Moav. They consult Elisha, the pupil of Eliyahu and encouraged they move smartly and defeat Moav conclusively, 27 verses.
The Prophet Elisha performs miracles: First: an indebted widow of one of his disciples comes for help, since her creditors threaten to confiscate her children as slaves. The prophet then instructs her to borrow containers from her neighbors, and pour into them from a small oil decanter she has at home. Miraculously the oil lasts to fill all the containers that her children have rushed to bring forth. Elija then instructs her to sell the oil, pay off the creditors, and live on the rest. Reminiscent of the miracle of Hanucka. No 'feasible' explanation to this miracle, so it stays for what it is. Next, this chapter describes a well placed woman, where Elija likes to rest and refresh in his trips. She provides him with a comfort addict when he comes. She declines any requests by him for help, saying, I am well sitting in my community. But Elija realizes she has no children, and that her husband is old. He then promises her to bear a child a year ahead. She says: humor me not! But Elija asserts his seriousness, and indeed a child is born, and one day he feels ill, goes home, and passes out, or dies. His mother takes him to the addicts, rushes to fetch Elija, and says: "I asked you not to kid me with your gifts!" Elija rushes to her home, secludes himself with the dead child, lays on him, nose to nose, and then the child sneezes and comes back to life. This miracle may be explained by the boy only passing out, not dying. Two more special deeds by Elija involving people and food are described at the end of this 44 verses chapter.
27 verses. Naaman, The military chief of Babylon was well respected because God gave him the power to grant Babylon recent victories, but he developed a bad skin rush, and his king was eager to cure him. It so happened that an Israeli young girl who heard about Elijah was eventually captured by the Babylons for slavers, and served under Naaman's wife. She intimated to her that the prophet Elijah in Israel is a healer, and the word got to the king, who right away prepared a list of gifts and send them with emissaries to his counter person, the king, in Israel. The king in Israel panicked since he would not know how to cure the general, and suspected it was some sort of a trap. Prophet Elijah heard about it, and told the king: "send the general to me, so he knows that Israel has the right God". Naaman came, and Elijah told him to wade in the Jordan river, seven times. Naaman who expected some super magic thought he is being ridiculed, but then he did as told, and got cured on the spot. He then said that he would only worship God of Israel from now on, and offered all those gifts to Elijah, who turned them down. But one of his servants, Gechazee, ran after Naaman, and smeared him with a story to get some of those gifts. Elijah heard about it, and punished the servant to assume the disease of the cured gentile officer.
33 Verses. Elishah's pupils prevail on him to build a nicer quarters, and he joins them to a work day by the Jordan river. An iron hacking tool falls into the water. The pupil who lost it cries out: it's borrowed!. Elijah causes the iron tool to float -- a miracle. Elijah uses his psychic power to alert the King of Israel on the movements of the Aramites. The Aramaites suspect a mole, and finally conclude that Elijah is the source. They send an armed detachment to fetch Elijah to the king of Aram. Elijah blinds them when they arrive to his residence, and leads them to the capital city, Shomron, where they are a minority, but by Elijah command, are well treated, and returned home -- no more bother from Aram, for a while. Eventually Aram is ruled by another king, Ben-Hadad who besieges Israel's captial, and starves the Shomronites. Then king hears a woman complaining that she and her buddy decided to eat their own children, and they ate the telling woman's child, but then the other woman refused to sacrifice her child. The king is so shocked by the tale, he tears off his clothes, plunges into dirt and uses Elijah as a scapegoat, ordering his capture.
20 verses. Elishah tells the king of Israel that tomorrow wheat and oat will be plentiful. It sound an empty boast because apparently Israel was under siege by the surrounding Aramites, and food was scarce. A military deputy sneakered and wiseguyed Elijah who got angry and promised that the deputy will not enjoy this plenty. The following night a community of hungry lepers decided they have nothing to lose by turning to the besiegers, the Aramites to ask for food and shelter. They did so, and found the Aramites' camp empty. It so happened that God created military noises around them. The Aramites were convinced that the king of Israel got himslef mercenaries about to hit on the Aramits. They left everything and escaped. The lepers rushed to tell the kind (after some personal looting), and although the king was suspicious that this is trap, he eventually was convinced that a miracle happened. The Aramits left their supplies behind in their speedy retreat, and indeed wheat and oat became cheap and plentiful. A fata accident took the life of the deputy that angered Elijah.
29 verses. Three main stories: 1. Elisha advises the woman whose son he revived (he likes her) to move out of Israel since a famine is about to strike. She takes residence among the philistines, and returns after a few years, finding her house and fields taken. She cries to the king -- exactly on the occasion where the King of Israel listens to the great miracles performed by Elisha. Elisha pupil who tell these Elisha stories points to the yelling lady as the one saved by Elisha. The king is touched, and orders her property restored. 2. The ruler of the Aramites, Ben-Hadad fell ill, and finding out that Elisha is in town, sends his son loaded with gifts and goodies to get the prophet say: would he recover or die? Elisha answers: death! Hazael, the king's son, lies to his father with the opposite message. The king, overjoyed takes a bath, and falls off dead. Beforehand Hazael saw Elisha crying and inquired why. Elisha answered: because I can see the horrible conquest and killings you will exercise over my people. Hazael is taken aback -- who would do such a thing? But the prophet knows what he is talking about. 3. a description of the corruptions of the contemporaries kings of Israel and Judea.
37 verses. The prophet Elisha instructs a pupil to stealthy anoint an obscure officer in Israel's Army Yehoo, the son of Yehoshafat, the son of Nimshi. When his soldiers find out, they pronounce him king, and he leads them towards the convalescence place for Yoram, the evil king, like his father Achav, and under the tutelage of his mother Eizevel. When the king sees the soldiers march towards him from afar, he sends messengers to query: are you peaceful? Yehoo responds to every messenger: "What is peace for you, turn around and the join the march!" And they all do, come on and Yehoo personally arrows the king to death, and also kills king Achaziahu from Jerusalem. Approaching the castle where the queen mother Izevel sits, he bids her servants to drop her to her death, and they too obey. When they attempt to bury her later they find only stark remains, devoured she was by wild animals as the prophets admonished!
36 verses. Ascending to poower King Yehoo demands and gets the literal heads of the descendants of King Achav, some 70 people, then catches 42 relatives of KIng Achaziahu and butchers them too. He then tricks the Baal worshippers to gather in one place, and kills them all, destroying their temples, and thereby carrying out Eliyahoo' prophecy. God is very pleased and promises Yehoo four generations of kingdom but Yehoo leaves some idolatry in his kingdom, and God strenghtens the enemies around. King Yehoo rules 28 years.
20 verses. When Yehoo kills Achazyahu, the king of Judea, his mother Atalya murders his children, and claims the throne. But Yehosheva, Achazyahu's sister manages to hide one son, Yoash. And after six years of rule, Yehoyada, an officer mounts a mutiny, kills queen Atalya, puts Yoash the child as new king, and wages war against idolatry, bringing about an era of calm.
22 Verses. King Yehoash is God fearing, but idolatry still prevails. He contends with the priests about housekeeping, and is killed by two slaves, replaced by his son Amatzia. When Hazael, the king of Aran defeats Gat, he then aims at Jerusalem. Yehoash gathers the gold and the jewlery from his palace, and offers it to Hazael, who then leaves Jerusalem be.
25 verses. Yehochaz, the son of King Yehu, slipped up to idolatry, and God punished him and Israel with a defeat by Aram. King Yehochaz then got religion, prayed to God, and God forgave, and turned up his military fortunes. God delivered as rescuer, which is not identified, and remains a mystery. Yehochaz son, Yoash was a sinner too, but no punishment is mentioned. Time came for the prophet Elisha to depart, and king Yoash came to cry and beg his respects -- so he was not wholeheatedly a sinner, perhaps that is why God has not punished him. Elisha ordered the king into a symbolic act with a bow and arrows, indicating that the King will defeat the threat of the Aramites. The chapter also tells a bizarre story: some Moavites dealt with a dying person apparently, and were frightened by an approaching enemy, and hurriedly has tossed the dying man, from all places into Elisha's grave. No sooner has the dying man touched Elisha' rotting bones than he revived miraculously, and walked away.
Its curious what was there so luring in idolatry that attracted the Israelites time and again, ignoring the history of being punished every time they spinned off into irritating God.
29 verses. Amatziahu king of Yehuda was faithful to God but he did not thoroughly clean the idol worshipping from the land. he triumphed over the Edomites, then challenged Israel. Yehoash, King of Israel warned Amatziahu not be high headed after his victory over Edom (comparing Yehuda to a shrub challenging a large cedar to marriage, only to be trodden over by a passing animal). Yehuda persists, the two brother nations fight. Yehuda is defeated and the Israelites take the jewelry, valuables, and artwork from the temple in Jerusalem. King Amatziahu kept his throne, and was overthrown and assiassinated many years thereafter. In Israel, Yerovam, the son of King Yehoash, sinned in not worshipping God, but stayed on the throne for 41 years, and even expanded the land.
38 verses. In Judea, King Azarya, was long lasting, (52 years), faithful to God, like his father Amatzia, but weak -- the country was replete with idolatry. God afflicted him with leprosy so that the daily governing was carried out by his son, Yotam, who succeeded him into a 16 years rule. Yotam was God fearing, but he too allowed for the idolatry rituals to prevail. King Yotam died in his palace. In Israel, Zecharyahu, the son Yerovam was a sinner to God. He was unseated and killed, and the same fate awaited to the new king, after only one month, unseated and killed by Menachem the son of Gadi. Menachem was a sinner much the same, but ruled for ten years. He paid heavy protection fee to the Assyrians to fend off their taking over Shomron, the capital of Israel. Menachem died in the palace, and his son Pekachya took over, but was presently assassinated by Pekach the son of Remalyahu, his 'trusted' officer. Pekach was again, a sinner to God, who ruled for 20 years. He lost parts of Israel to the Assyrians (to king Tiglat Pilesser). Pekach was eventually assassinated by his successor Hoshea the son of Ella.
20 verses. Achaz the son of King Yotam rules over Judea for 16 years, sinner that he was. He was challenged by Retzin the king of Aram, and by his "brother" kind Pekach of Israel. Achaz petitioned Tiglat Pilesser the king of Assyria, who saved him. In gratitude, king Achaz modified the rituals of sacrifice in Jerusalem to emulate what he saw in Damascus, and to placate his benefactor. Achaz died peacefully in his palace, passing the throne to his son, Hizkiyahu.
41 verses. Hoshea the son of Ela, king of Israel, was subjugated by Shalmanesser the king of Assyria. He rebelled after nine years, and lost his bid. The Assysrians uprooted the people of Israel to far away provinces of Chelach, Chavor, the river Gozan, and the cities of Madai. Some foreigners were settled in Israel land in their place, but were plagued by lions. The chapter repeats the litany of the many kings of Israel who worshipped the idols like the pagans around them, and enraged God to punish them so harshly.
37 verses: King Hizkiyahu, the son of Achaz and Avi the daughter of Zecharya (the prophet?), is faithful to God. At that time the Assyrians captures the cities of Israel, and defeat all other nations states around. King Hizkiyahu is scared, and offers gift for the Assyrians to move off Jerusalem. They take the expensive gold gifts, and then shout to the people of Jerusalem in their language (Yehoodit) to incite them against the king and to submit to expulsion to a rich territory decided by the king of the Assyrians. The people are kept foot, but the fate of Jerusalem stands in the balance
37 verses. Sancheriv, the Assyrian king demands surrender from Judeah. King Hizkiyahu is shaken, and consults with the prophet Yeshayahu who tells him to reject the demand and trust in God. The Assyrian king tries to scare king Hizkiyahu saying: look what happened to all the other small nations around you. They each trusted their god, and they are all defeated by me. The king replies -- their's are idols, mine id God Allmighty. The Assyrian amass a big military force to destroy Jerusalem, but a God's anger comes by, and kills the assembling soldiers, 185,000 of them. Sancheriv tries to escape, but is killed by two of his people.
Judea's King Hizkiyahu was gravely ill when the prophet Ishayahu visited him, ordering him to write his final will, part with his family and get ready to die. The king was very shocked and saddened, and cried bitterly to God. God accommodated the king's prayer, and ordered the prophet to return to the king, to deliver the revised sentence: 15 more years of rule. The king was skeptic, so Yeshayahu performed a miracle turning the shadow clock backwards. When the Merodach Baladan the son of Baladan heard that King Hizkiyahu is ill he sent goodwill messengers with gifts, and king Hizkiyahu showed them the treasured in his palace. Came prophet Yeshayahu and declared that all that was shown to the Babelonians will be pillaged by them, and his children will be enslaved in the Babylonian palace. King Hizkiyahu reacted: not too bad, since I personally will be spared all that, it would happen after my time. I embrace God's decision since peace and tranquility will reign in my kingdom. And so it was.
26 verses. An agonizing account of King Menashe the idol worshipper, and his son who follows suit. God is mighty angry at Menashe and resolves to wipe out Jerusalem in response.
King Yehoshiahu is informed about a book of prophecy spelling out God's anger over past transgressions, and a decision to bring ruin and pain on Judea. The king is thoroughly alarmed and consults a woman prophet, Hulda, who assures him that the pain and punishment will take place after his time. He would be spared because he is God fearing. 20 verses.
37 verses. Judea King Yehoshiahu sees the light, and in a grand sweep, clears the Temple and the land from the vestiges of idolatry, and leads his people to the good word and the holy commandment of the Bible. A grand gesture of conviction like never before. Alas, God is still angry for the balance of the offense, so claims the chronicler, and so he explains the fact that when King Yehoshiahu came forth to meet Pharoh who passed in Megido (north of Judea), Pharoh had him killed. He was carried lifeless to be buried in Jerusalem, and his son Yehochaz has taken over -- returning to idolatry. The Engyptians who dominated Judea were unhappy with King Yehochaz, had removed him, and exiled him to Egypt where he died. The Egyptians put another son of Yoheshiahu, Elyakim (God will rebuild!) as king, but changed his name to Yehoyachim.
19 verses: Yehoyakim, the king of Yehuda (Son of Yehoshiahu) was under the rule of Nevuchadnetzar the king of Babylon, but after three years he rebelled. Babylon reacted forcefully, and re-subdued Yehuda, took King Yehoyakim to exile in Babylon together with the industrious citizens of Yehudah, leaving only the base, low level people behind. Nevuchadnetsar then installed the uncle of King Yehoyakim as puppet king, and renamed him Tsidkiyahu. King Yehoyakim angered God. He executed innocent people, and that grievous act was met with God refusal to forgive, and the severe punishment came forth. The installed king Tsidkiyahu was also disrespectful of God's teaching, and he took the bold move -- to rebel against Babylon!
Nevuchadnessar, king of Babylon, is angry at the continuous rebellion of tiny Yehuda, after having captured its king Yehoyachin and exiled him to Babylon, so he comes on with his full military force and lays siege over stubborn Jerusalem. It appears from the text that it was a 10 years siege until the Jews starving broke out of the city, and were immediately overpowered. The stubborn king Tsidkiyahu tried to flee Jerusalem, but his soldiers fled, and abandoned he was captured and mock tried. King Tsidiyahu was greatly humiliated and tortured: his sons were murdered to his sight, and then they blinded him, and shackled he was brought in great humility to Babylon. Some times later, the master of culinary affairs of Babylon was dispatched to Jerusalem for a thorough plunder of city and the rich temple so proudly constructed and decorated by King Solomon. All the gold and the beauty was torn off, and lugged and carried north to Babylon. The temple itself was burned to the ground, and the city walls were broken off. The conquerors then put to exile the more leadership prone, leaving weaker population behind, and installing a Jewish puppet authority, Gedalyahu. But Gedalyahu was not acceptable to some remaining Jews and they assassinated him then fled to Egypt, quite a few of them. For some strange reason the successor to Nevuchadnezar, by the name of Evil Merodach, King of Babylon has resurrected the prisoner king Yehoyachim from his jail cell, to a place of honor to live thus the rest of his life.
Both Yehoyachim and Tisdikiyahu were disrespectful of God's teaching, and hence were good for the horrible punishment they were afflicted with. And so it came to be that the First Temple built by King Solomon under divine instructions was smitten, destroyed and burnt to the ground by stronger armies from the North, and the best of the Israelites were driven to exile. The glorious kingdom of Kings David and Solomon was going astray, and off road, for centuries, and through stubbornness to prefer the local idols and the cheap celebration of Israel's neighbors, unGodly and base as they were -- the character of Israel has been corrupted, and their mishandling of their affairs has ended up with this nearly complete and nearly deadly catastrophe to the heritage of Abraham armed with God's promise such as it was.
The end of the Kingdom of Jehuda.