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The Untold Story of the Kingdom of Judah

(D4) The story that was Told of the Kings of Israel and Judah

Prof. Oded Lipschits

The editorial framework of the Book of Kings is based on synchronisms – the matching of time periods between the reigns of the kings of Israel and the reigns of the kings of Judah. Synchronizing the history of the kings is done using opening formulae and closing formulae for each king. Through this synchronicity and the use of the opening and closing formulae, the descriptions of the history of the kings of Israel and Judah are interwoven, a result of the Deuteronomistic editing work, through which the editors shaped the history according to their worldview.
In this chapter of the podcast, we will try to find out: what did the Deuteronomistic author-editors know about the historical reality they described in their text? What were their origins? The assumption presented in this chapter is that the skeleton of the Book of Kings is based on lists of the kings of Israel and lists of the kings of Judah, which included most of the information presented in the opening and closing verses. The repeated references in the closing formulae that exist on almost all the kings imply that it contained additional information: the Book of Chronicles of the Kings of Israel and the Book of Chronicles of the Kings of Judah. However, this quotation formula is used as a literary mechanism, through which the Deuteronomistic historiographer claims that they are basing their writings on archival lists, and that the very little information they tell about most of the kings and most of history is intended to support their ideological line and strengthen it, but it is not all the information that exists about the histories of the kings.
Another important and central source that was used by the Deuteronomistic historiographers is the prophetic stories, which focus on a description of the life of the prophet, their companions, and their work on social and religious levels. The stories of the prophets have a legendary character, they were probably written by groups of admirers and those who wanted to preserve the memory of the legendary prophet and they include stories of local (and not national) miracles. These stories came into the hands of the Deuteronomist, and they learned through them about the ancient history, especially that of the Kingdom of Israel, and incorporated them into their composition as their own language. It seems that, apart from the stories of the prophets, they had almost no other sources about the earlier periods of the Kingdom of Israel, therefore – the main part of the book of 1 Kings describes the history of the kingdom of Israel, but the description is limited to the matter of the stories of the prophets as shaped through the social-cultic concepts of the Deuteronomist.

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