BL - 31 Historical Books

Important Instruction :  Dear . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  It is strictly prohibited reproducing this study material in any form such as Xerox, retyping, scanning etc. without prior written permission from CALS.
According to Joshua 24 : 26, the author of this book is Joshua.  However, some scholars suggest this book was written and compiled by one who was the eyewitness of the events recorded in Joshua because the personal pronouns “We” and “us” are used in Joshua 5 : 1, 6.  Some other scholars say that it was written by Joshua, later edited by another editor who was an eyewitness or contemporary to Joshua.
  This book covers about 25 years of history between 1400 – 1375 BC under the leadership of Joshua.  He led the people of Israel after the death of Moses.  Hence it was probably compiled about 1375 BC.
  The very purpose of writing this book was to record the history of Israel so that the later generations might know their own history.  However, as an inspired writing, it has a definite purpose of revealing the plan salvation of God through progressive revelation (Jn. 4 : 22).
Historical Background
Joshua was a warrier who worked with Moses and who fought the battles of Israel.  After the death of Moses, the great leader of Israel, Joshua was charged to lead Israel into the promised land.  He led the people of Israel to the promised land.  His victories are recorded in this book.  Moreover, how Joshua divided the land to each tribes is also recorded in this book.
  1. Commission of Joshua 1 : 1-9
  2. Command of Joshua 1 : 10-18
III.     Competence of Joshua 2 : 1-24
  1. Crossing Jordan and entering Promised Land 3 : 1 – 5 : 15
  2. Destruction of Jericho 6 : 1 – 27
  3. Defeat at Ai and Deliverance 7 : 1 – 8 : 35
VII.   The treaty with Gibeon 9 : 1-27
VIII.  The campaign in South Canaan 10 : 1-43
  1. The conquest of Northern Canaan 11 : 1 – 12 : 31
X.      Consignment of the Land 13 : 1 – 21 : 45
XI.     Departure of Tribes possessed the east side. Ch. 22
XII.   Joshua’s concluding Remarks 23 – 24
I.       Commission of Joshua 1 : 1 – 9
Moses led the people of Israel for forty years.  After his death, Joshua was given commission  to lead the people of Israel and to divide the land to each tribe of Israel.  The Lord said to Joshua to read and meditate the scripture so that he could be a victorious leader.  Yes.  It is true the scripture of the Bible is the true source of victory in our lives.  When the Lord gave scripture to guide them, the pillar of fire and cloud was no longer needed to guide them.  So the pillar of fire disappeared.
  1. Command of Joshua 1 : 10 – 18
After accepting the leadership, Joshua commanded the leaders to instruct the people so that they could prepare within three days to cross, the river Jordan.  He also encouraged them “to be strong and courageous” (v: 18)
III.    Competence of Joshua 2 : 1-24
Joshua sent twelve spies to spy the land of Jericho.  They went to the house of Rahab.  The King of Jericho was reported about the arrival of spies.  So he enquired it with Rahab.  But she hid the matter and told lie.  Lying is never justifiable in the Bible.  However, it is understandable, she lied because of her immaturity.  So, the spies escaped.  Rahab believed the God of Israel although her life was morally not correct.
  1. Crossing Jordan and entering Promised Land 3 : 1 – 5 : 15
  Now Joshua arranged the order of people and entering Promised Land to each tribe to cross Jordan.  The Ark of the covenant led the people of Israel instead of the pillar of fire.  The peole must follow the Ark of the covenant.  There was to be a distance of about 3000 feet (2000 cubits àOne cubit = 1.5 feet) between it and the Israelites.  This distance must be maintained when the ark stopped in the midst of river and continued across the river.  This distance of separation also reminded the people of God’s holiness and their sinfulness. 
                   On the day of crossing the priest beared the ark instead of Kohathites.  As  soon as the priest’s feet touched waters of Jordan, the waters would be cut off and stand further upstream in a leap.  The dry condition of the riverbed and the timing of the water stoppage demand a miracle.  In order to remember how God helped them to cross Jordan, each tribe took a stone from where the priest stood to set up a memorial when Israelites escaped (4 : 8).  Then Joshua set up a second memorial stones at the river where the priests stood (4 : 9).  Hence two memorials were set up for one great miracle of God’s power.
                   After crossing Jordan, they circumcised their younger generation.  The circumcision was temporarily suspended for forty years when they were in wilderness.  Probably it was due to their failure to obey the law.  However, they had obeyed after 40 years when Joshua said.  After that they celebrated the first Passover at Gilgal after crossing Jordan.  They ate the food of the produce of  promised land.  The manna stopped after they ate the produce of the land.
                   When Joshua was at Jericho, “the commander of the army of the Lord” appeared to Joshua.  The commander   of the army of the Lord is probably a visible manifestation of pre-incarnate Christ.  As an act of obedience and humility before the Lord Joshua removed his sandal off his foot. (5 : 13 – 15),
  1. Destruction of Jericho 6 : 1 – 27
Jericho was an ancient strong city (Num. 22 : 1).  The people of Israel marched around Jericho in complete silence (except for the trumpets blowing) once each day for six days.  On the seventh day, Israelites circled Jericho seven times.  After completing 7th round, the fort fell flat.  Israelites destroyed the entire city and the people except Rahab’s family.  Rahab by God’s grace was the great – grandmother of David (Mt. 1 : 5).  The things from this city must be devoted to God as first fruits devoted to God (v : 19 ; Lev. 23 : 10).  Then Joshua cursed the city (v : 26, 27).  This curse came to fulfillment after 500 years in the death of Abiram , son of Hiel of Bethel (1 King. 16 : 34).
  1. Defeat at Ai and Deliverance 7 : 1 – 8 : 35
Joshua pronounced a ban on the spoils of Jericho (6 :18 ; Deut. 2 : 34, 35).  But Achan disobeyed and stolen things from Jericho.  It was a sin and became the cause of defeat.  Joshua started to investigate who was the cause of defeat.  Through this lengthy process, Achan had adequate time to voluntarily surrender himself, but he kept silent until it was too late for mercy.  Finally the Lord showed Achan.  Then he confessed, “ I saw . . .  I coveted . . .  I took . . . “ (7 : 20, 21).  Then people stoned him to death.  Thus sin was cleansed from the camp.  Then Joshua again led the battle.  This time the Lord gave victory over Ai.
VII.   The treaty with Gibeon 9 : 1-27
By hearing the victories of Israel, the Gibeonites, a people group of Canaan were afraid.  Hence they cunningly made a deceptive plan to make treating with Israel.  Some the Gibeonites dressed as if they were envoys of a far country (4 – 7) and they asked Joshua to make covenant with them.  Joshua unknowingly believed their word and made covenant with them.  According to Deut 7 : 1-4 and 20 : 10-18, Israel could not make treaty with any of the Cannanians living in the land, but Israel could make treaties with countries outside of Canaan.  Joshua made treaty with the Gibenonites by believing their deceptive words.  (v: 14, 15).  After these days, Joshua came to know, the Gibeonites were neighbours and they had deceived them.  However, Joshua respected his treaty with the Gibeonites but he made them slave (v: 23, 24).  This treaty was a failure in the leadership of Joshua.
VIII.  The campaign in South Canaan 10 : 1-43
Having heared the treaty between the Gibeonites and the Israelites, the King of Jerusalem (Adoni zedek) made a great army with his neighbouring Kings of Amorites to fight with Joshua.  The battle was so great.  Joshua commanded the sun and the moon to stop their course.  As he said, the Lord honoured his faith and stopped the sun and the moon till Israel defeat their attackers.  Then Joshua killed all these kings as a warning to other kings of Canaan.
Note : Their victories were recorded in the book of Jasher (10 : 13 ;        2 Sam. 1 : 18).  This book was an ancient book of poetry which recorded about Israel’s heros of war.
  1. The conquest of Northern Canaan 11 : 1 – 12 : 31
After the defeat of southern kings by Israelites, the northern kings made still a strong alliance to attack the Israelites.  This time also, Joshua defeated all northern kings by the help of God.  The list of kings is dealt in chapter 12.
X.      Consignment of the Land 13 : 1 – 21 : 45
After approximately seven years of fighting for the control of Canaan, the major Cannanite cities were destroyed and Israel was the new ruling power in Palestinian area.  However, not all of the Cananites were destroyed, just then main centres of power.  Much work yet remained for the individual tribes of Israel as they began the final phase of the conquest, which was the possession of the land.  However, the boundries of the inheritance of each tribe were delineated by Joshua.  These boundaries did not describe actual territories then possessed, but areas which were to be claimed and conquered by faith.  Failure to do this is alluded to in 15 : 63 ; 16 : 10 ; 17 : 11,12.  This failure caused Israel much grief later in her history.
The inheritance of the Trans Jordan Tribes was allotted (13 : 7 – 33; Num. 32 : Deut. 3 : 12 – 17).  However, these areas were not completely conquered until at least David’s time and may not have been conquered them. (Absalom was the son of a Geshurite princess and David. Absolom fled to Geshur when he killed Ammon.  (II Sam. 13 : 37).  The tribe of Levi received no territory in a concentrated place – only cities scattered through out Israel (Jos. 21). Joshua 13 : 33 describes Levi’s inheritance as the Lord God of Israel.
Caleb came before Joshua to claim his inheritance.  Moses had promised an inheritance in Canaan because of his faithfulness.  Now, after thirty – eight years of wandering (Deut. 2 : 14) plus seven years of warfare, Caleb was ready to claim his portion of the land.  He was physically and spiritually fit to take Hebron even though it was the house of giants.  Caleb is called the kenezite because his father, Jephunneh (a non – Israelite) married a daughter of Hur of the clan of Chelubai in the tribe of Judah (1 Chro. 2 : 9, 18, 19, 50).  By this means he became an Israelite.  The tribe of Judah captured and burned the suburbs of Jerusalem, the citadel itself remained untouched and unconquered until David’s time.  16 : 1 – 17 : 18 describes the inheritance allotted to Manasseh.  The tribes of Joseph demanded more land greedily.  Joshua firmly refused them, suggesting two means of getting more land within their own territory.  They could clear the mountains of the forest, or they could attack and defeat the Cannanites who lived in the low lands.
The inheritance divided to other tribes are recorded in the following two chapters (18 : 1 – 19 : 57).  Chapter 21 describes cities of Refuge and the cities granted to the Levites.  The cities of refuge were given to provide conveneient places where man slayers could flee to save their lives if they accidently killed a person.  A manslayer would flee to a city of refuge, present his case before the elders of that city and be admitted.  Later on, the slayer was tried at the spot of the slaying by the people in that area.  If he were acquitted, he would go back to the city of refuge until the death of the high priest, when there would be a change in the priestly administration.  The cities given to the Levites included the cities of refuge.  There were 48 cities given to them, scattered throughout Israel.  This fulfilled Jacob’s prophecy (Gen. 49 : 5, 7).
The Israelites did not subdue the Canaanites when the inheritance was divided.  It was God’s purpose for Israel to subdue the Canaanites gradually. (Ex. 23 : 29, 30 ; Deut. 7 : 22-24).  So, many Canaanites still lived in various towns throughtout Palestine.  Israel’s failure to root out these Canaanites in due time was the cause of the apostacy in the time of Judges.
XI.    Departure of Tribes possessed the east side of Jordan (Ch. 22)
Two and half tribes of Issue (Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh) divided the land which was at the eastern side of Jordan.  The failure of the Trans-Jordan tribes was in their initial unwillingness to aid their brethren in conquering the promised Land west of the Jordan (Num. 32 : 1-7) and in their lack of faith in God’s way of maintaining unity, the three yearly gatherings at Shiloh (Ex. 23 : 17).  However they later helped to their brethren to possess their land.  Hence Joshua commanded them for their faithfulness for helping their brethren (1 – 4).  The warriers of the 2 ½ tribes left for their homes, but when they came to the Jordan, they built an altar, probably identical to the altar in Shiloh; to state their right to workship the Lord in Shiloh with the other tribes in the future.  The 9 ½ tribes west of Jordan were furious and were ready to wage war against the 2 ½ tribes.  Before waging war, they asked the reason for the altar (15 – 20 ; Num. 25).  The 2 ½ tribes replied them that the altar was simply to be a witness to the union of the tribes on both sides of the Jordan.  The Trans-Jordan tribes later forgot their unity with their western brethren in the war of Deborah against the Canaanites (Jud. 5 : 15 – 17).
XII.   Joshua’s concluding Remarks 23 – 24
Near the end of Joshua’s life, he gathered the leaders of Israel together and urged them to be loyal to the covenant.  The Mosaic covenant was not an eternal covenant.  It had to be renewed periodically and the Israelites were to present themselves and their gifts once a year before the Lord to pay tribute (24 : 1 ; Deut. 16 : 16).  He also warned them of the consequences of sin (23 : 12 – 16).  Then Joshua declared his commitment as well as his family to workship the Lord (24 : 15).   After Joshua’s death Israel continued to serve God for the remainder of the lives of the elders, who served with Joshua.
Historical Background
                   The book of Judges continues the history of Israel following the death of Joshua.  After Joshua, people of Israel were led by the leaders, who were called “Judges”, because there was no king in Israel in those days (Jud. 17 : 6).  When people of Israel were oppressed by neighburing countries, God raised leaders (Judges) to deliver them from the hands of oppressors.  Though God delivered them again and again, Israel repeatedly failed to honour God by following their sinful deeds.  Their spiritual and moral lives were led by their own will and wish, not according to God’s word (17 : 6).
Authorship and Date
                   The author of Judges is not known for certain, but tradition claims Samuel as the writer.  Internal evidence indicates it was written after Israel had received a King who brought some order to the nation (17 : 6 ; 18 : 1 ; 19 : 1 ; 21 : 25).  However, it was written before David had conquered Jerusalem (1 : 21 ; 2 Sam. 5 : 6 – 12).  Therefore it was probably written near the end of the eleventh century (BC) during Saul’s reign or in the early part David’s reign.   Although Samuel’s name is not mentioned in the book of Judges, he is considered to have been the last priestly judge of Israel.  This book covers about 400 years of history beginning from the death of Joshua to the period of Samson.
                   The very purpose of this book is to record and to present the history of Israel to the later generation. It also records the spiritual and moral decline of people when they disregard the principles taught in the word of God. It also records how God dealt graciously with the people of Israel, when they turn to the Lord with faith for help.  God is revealed in this book as the real ruler of Israel, the only ture theocratic nation.
Failure of Israel to conquer the Land. (1 : 1 – 36)
Failure to consider the Law of God (2 : 1 – 3 : 4)
Period of Othniel (3 : 5 – 11)
Period of Ehod (3 : 12 – 30)
Period of Shamgar( 3 : 31)
Period of Deborah and Barak (4 : 1 – 5 : 31)
Period of Gideon (6 : 1 – 8 : 35)
Attempts of Abimelech (9 : 1 – 57)
Period of Tola (10 : 1 – 2)
Period of Jair (10 : 3 – 5)
Period of Japhthah (10 :  6 – 12 : 7)
Period of Ibzan (12 : 8 – 10)
Period of Elon (12 : 11, 12)
Period of Abdon (12 : 13-15)
Period of Samson (13 : 1 – 16 : 31)
Idolatry in Israel (17 : 1 – 18 : 31)
Immorality in Israel (19 : 1 – 21 : 25)
Failure of Israel to conquer the Land. (1 : 1 – 36)
The book of Judges begins the history of Israel, where the book of Joshua ended.  Under the able leadership of Joshua, Israel conquered the main parts of promised land.  However, there were still many parts of land to be conquered.  This was a failure in the part of Israel  (Ex. Jerusalem was conquered and burned at the beginning of Judah’s and Simeon’s conquest of their land, but they soon lost control of it to the Jebusites, who remained there until David conquered them over 300 years later and made Jerusalem his capital city (v: 7, 8, 21).
Failure to consider the Law of God (2 : 1 – 3 : 4)
The Angel of the Lord is described the Lord Himself (6 : 11 – 18 ; Ex. 3 : 2 – 6; 23 : 20-23; Josh. 5 : 14).  The Lord came “from Gilgal to Bochim”.  Gilgal was the first headquarters of Israel in Canaan, it was there the Israelites dedicated themselves (Josh. 5 : 2 – 10) and it was then the tabernacle was located until it was moved to Shiloh.  Since the Angel of the Lord went from Gilgal to Bochim to meet with Israel there is some reason to believe that the tabernacle was now removed from Gilgal to Shiloh (at or near Bochim).  The Lord pointed the Israelites of their failure (2 : 2), because they began to worship idols (2 : 13).  Due to this reason, the Lord delivered them into the hand of oppressors and plunders (2 : 14 – 15).  However, the Lord graciously raised judges to lead and to deliver the Israelites from their oppressors whenever they repented for their sin (2 : 16).  But again they forgot God and did evil after the death of Judges (2 : 16 – 19).  Hence, the Lord allowed the oppressors to oppress the Israelites.  However, whenever they again repented, the Lord helped them by raising another judge (leader to deliver Israel from the hand of oppressors).  This cycle of Israel’s sin, failure, repentance, and Lord’s deliverance continued to the entire period of Judges.
Period of Othniel (3 : 5 – 11)
Israel “served other gods” (v : 6), because the Israelites intermarried with the heathen.  “Groves” refers to “asheroth” meaning pillars.  It was a high place where worship of Ashtaroth or Ashtarte was conducted.  Due to their sin, God allowed king of Mesopotamia to oppress the Israelites for eight years,  when they called God for help,  He raised Othniel, a proven warrior (1 : 3).  He delivered the Israelites from the Mesopotomians and led them.  Israel enjoyed peace for forty years.
Period of Ehud (3 : 12 – 30)
When the Israelite sinned again, they were oppressed by the Moabites along with the Ammorites and the Amalekites  for 18 years.   Then the Israelites called God.  Hence God raised Ehud, a Benjamite to deliver Israel from its oppressors. Ehud defeated the Moabites and led Israel.  Israel enjoyed, peace for eighty years continually.
Period of Shamgar( 3 : 31)
During eighty years of peace, Shamgar led Israel and protected the Isralites from the attack of the Palestinians.
Period of Deborah and Barak (4 : 1 – 5 : 31)
Once again as a result of Israels’s sin, the Lord sold them into bondage (4 : 1 – 2) of the Canaanites for 20 years.  Then Israel looked God for deliverance.  Hence God raised Deborah, a prophetess and Barak to deliver Israel from the Canaanites.  These two leaders of Israel believed that the Lord would enable their poorly equipped army to defeat Jabin’s mighty 900 chariots of iron.  The Lord did this by causing a heavy rain to flood the plain of Esdraelon.  Normally, the Kishon River which is located in the plain of Esdraelon is scarecely more than a rivulet (4 : 7) but the Lord made it turn into a raging torrent (5 : 21). This storm made the 900 chariots of iron useless.  Beside Deborah and Barak, the Lord also used woman, Jael, to bring deliverance to Israel (4 : 18 – 21).  Israel enjoyed peace for 40 years.
Note-1 :  God used Deborah because some tribes feared to fight against enemies(5 : 15-17).  God uses women’s leadership only when men fail to do God’s plans and purposes.  Deborah, as a prophetess, preached God’s word, prepared military and soldiers, planned strategy to attack, encouraged people and praised God for victory.
Note-2 :  The works of Deborah and Barak are given twice.  In chapter 4, it is given in prose and in chapter 5, it is given in poetry.  These are not contradictory accounts as critics says, but rather, they are supplementary.
Period of Gideon (6 : 1 – 8 : 35)
After the victory of Deborah and Barak and peace for 40 years, Israel again did sin by worshiping idols.  Hence, God allowed the Medianites to oppress the Israelites (6 : 1).  The Midianites were decendants of Abraham through his wife Keturah (Gen. 25 : 1-2).  They were against the Israelites and oppressed them for 6 / 7 years.  By this time God first sent an unnamed prophet who said why they were suffering (6 : 10).  Then the Lord appeared to Gideon as the Angel of the Lord.  The Lord called him to save the Israelites from the Midianites (6 : 14).  In order to remove his fear, God promised him twice that”surely I will be with thee (6 : 12, 16).  Having assured by God through miracles, Gideon first went and destroyed the idol which his father possessed (6 : 25-32).  When the villagers wanted to kill Gideon, his father came to his aid.
By this time, the Medianits came against Israel at the valley of Jezreel.  He called the Israelites to fight against their enemy.  32,000 volunteer soldiers responded to his call.  But the Lord did an unusual thing to Gideon.  Hence, in two steps, he reduced Gideon’s army from 32000 to 300 (7 : 1-6).  The small size of Gideon’s army and the unusual method of conquest served to heighten the fact that the victory belonged to the Lord (7 : 2, 14).  Israel enjoyed peace for 40 years.
Israel wanted to make him king.  He refused to be their king (8:22,23).  However, he deviated away from his commitment later. He acted more like a king than a judge.  He maned one of his sons “Abimeleck” which means “my father is king (8:31).  The same Abimelack reigned not as judge but as a king for a short time after his father’s death.
VIII.  Attempts of Abimelech (9 : 1 – 57)
Abimelech was a son of Gideon (6 : 32).  He killed his brothers and made himself king over Israel in Shechem (9 : 4).  However one of his brothers, Jotham escaped and pronounced curse over Abimelech by a parable (9 : 8-20). Abimelech could not probably ruled the entire Israel but only over Shechem, for three years.  Then, understanding between Abimelech and the Shechimites was destroyed by an evil spirit (9 :23).  This caused war between their two groups.  Finally, he was killed by a woman by throwing a millstone on him.  The curse of Jotham had come upon both the Shechemites and Abimelech (9 : 55-57).
Note :  Evil spirit, sent by God (9 : 23).  This verse indicates God is the ruler of spirits.  He could use evil spirits whenever He wants to do his purpose (1 Sam. 16 : 14).  God uses good angels as well as evil spirits to achieve his plans.
  1. Period of Tola (10 : 1-2)
Tola defended Israel from further disintegration caused by the poor rule of Abimelech.  The Lord was gracious to give Israel a good judge for 23 years to straighten out the problems caused by the wicked King that they had chosen.
  1. Period of Jair (10 : 3-5)
After Tola, Jair   arose a judge over Israel.  Probably he was rich.  He led the Israelites peacefully for twenty – two years.
  1. Period of Jephthah (10 : 6 – 12 : 7)
After the death of Jair, Israel again did evil in the sight of God by worshiping idols.  Hence God handed them over to the Ammonites and to the Philistines for eighteen years (10 : 6 – 8).  Then   they cried,  repented and called God for   help (10 : 8 – 18).  Hence God gave Jephthah to deliver them from their oppressors.  Although it was God’s plan, the leaders of Gilead elected Jephthah as a leader (10 : 17 – 11 : 11).
After accepting leadership, he first sent the messengers unto the king of Ammonites to discuss about the dispute over land so that they could avoid war.  Jephthah sent messengers to the king of Ammonites explaining that his claim was false.  Jephthah gave the following reasons to prove the disputed land was really possession of Israel.
  1. He had a false claim because it was the Amorites who lost their land to the Israelites, not the Ammonites (11 : 13, 22).
  2. The Lord gave them this land (11 : 23-24). It was a religious reason.
  • Moab never tried to regain this land on the pretext that this Ammonite was using (11 : 25). It was a political reason.
  1. Three hundred years had passed since Israel possessed the land that the Ammonites now claimed (11 : 26).
After leaving all these reasons, Israelites, the king of Ammonites refused to accept the right of Israelites over the land.  Hence, Jepthah had to prepare for war.  Before going for war, he made a vow which was not necessary.  The Lord gave victory in the war against the Ammonites.  Now, he had to offer the vow.  Jepthah judged Israel for six years.  Although his rule was for a short period, it was so effective.
          Views over Jepthah’s Vow
Did Jepthah mean that he would offer up a human being as a burnt offering if that was the first thing that greeted him when he returned from victory?  It does not seem likely.  Human sacrifice was an abomination to God and was forbidden (Lev. 18 : 21 ; 20 : 1-5 ; Dt. 12 : 29-32; 18 : 9-12).  No father could put his authority much less an innocent child (Deut. 21 : 18-21 ; 2 Sam. 14 : 24, 25).  It is doubtful that he offered his daughter as a burnt offering, even though some like the Jewish historian  Josephus held that he did.  However, Jepthah, it seems, followed the rule of Leviticus 27 when it was his daughter that appeared first to welcome him back in victory.  He did not redeem her with money which he could have done according to the law, he simply gave her to the Lord to be a virgin to serve in the Tabernacle at Shiloh.  She served in the Tabernacle throughtout the remaining part of her life without marriage.  The daughters of Israel lamented the marvelous humility and submission that Jepthah’s daughter showed when she gave up marriage to serve the Lord in His Tabernacle and by so doing fulfilled her father’s vow.  (She was probably the only living sacrifice of Old Testament – Rom. 12 : 1-2; Ps. 141 : 2).
XII.   Period of Ibzan (12 : 8 – 10)
Ibzan of Bethleham was probably a wealthy man as it seems from his large family.  This Bethlehem refers either Bethlahem in Judah or Bethlahem in Zebulun (Josh. 19 : 15).  He judged Israel for seven years after Jephthah .  More details are not given about his period.
XIII.  Period of Elon (12 : 11, 12)
Elon was a Zebulunite.  He judged Israel for ten years following the death of Ibzan.  Nothing more is said about him in scripture.
XIV.  Period of Abdon (12 : 13 – 15)
Abdon was from the village (Pirathon) of Ephraim.  Pirathon was situated about 87 miles south west of Shechem.  He was also very rich and good family status.  He judged Israel for eight years.
  1. Period of Samson (13 : 1 – 16 : 31)
After the death of Abdon, Israel went again in Idolatry.  Hence God allowed the Philistians to oppress Israel.  The Philistians were Greek in origin and culture.  They had invaded Egypt, but were driven out by Ramses III about 1200 BC.  Then they invaded and settled in Canaan along the Mediterranean coast.
God raised a man from the tribe of Dan.  His name was Samson and his birth itself was announced prophetically because his mother was barren.  When the Angel of the Lord informed his mother about Samson’s birth,  he also informed her that he should be a Nazirite (13 : 1 – 7).
Note :  Samson was to be a life – long Nazirite (Nazarite) from his mother’s womb to his death.  Special rules were required of those who were Nazarites (Num. 6 : 3-6).  Most Nazarites were such for a month to six months, but Samson was dedicated to God for life.  Outward regulations were given to represent an inward dedication.  Those who were Nazarites had a high and holy privilege, but also a heavy and high responsibility.  It seems that Samuel and John the Baptist were the only other Nazarites for life.  Nazarites could marry if they wanted.  But they should not commit adultery or marry a non-Israelite (14 : 3) or be a polygamist.
                   When Samson was grown God began using him by strengthening physically through the special empowerment of the Spirit of God.  God used Samson in a different way from other judges.  They collected warriors to fight against their oppressors but Samson alone with having no army attacked the Philistians and defeated them in different ways many times.
Unfortunately he was very weak morally.  He violated his Nazarite vow when he touched the dead body of the lion to get honey (14 : 9; Num. 6 : 6).  But he hid it from his parents although he gave them honey.  Then he married a Philistinian woman, and had feast for seven days.  He could have drunken wine in the feast because it was the way of the Philistines in arranging feast.  He probably married following the customs of the Philistines, instead of the Israelites.  In the feast he put a riddle.  The Philistinians could not answer it.  So they threatened his wife.  His wife plead Samson for the answer.  Samson refused but finally he said the answer of the riddle to her.  She told it to those Philistian.  Hence, Samson had to pay what he said.  He paid by killing some Philistines in Ashkelon.  Then he went his house.  So his Philistine wife was married to another.
After this many times he escaped from the Philistines.  However, he was finally caught by the Philistines, when he was at the house of a prostitute named Delilah.  He was caught there and taken to Gaza (16 : 21).  He was tortured severely by the Philistines.  Hence he cried unto the Lord for the strength.  His prayer was simple “Remember me” (16 : 28- 30 ; I Sam. 1 : 11; Lk. 23 : 42).  God heared his plea and enabled him with strength again.  This was done through God’s mercy according to his request.  More were killed in his death than in his life.  He judged Israel for 20 years.
XVI.  Idolatry in Israel (17 : 1 – 18 : 31)
                   These chapters explain how Israel disregarded God and God’s law.  Instead of following God’s word, “every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Jud. 17 : 6 ; 21 : 25).  Ten commandments teach the Israelites that they should not worship any gods or idols.  But Israel went away from following God after the death of Joshua.   These three chapters clearly presents how Israel worshipped idols.
Micah was an Ephraimite. He bought an idol and made one of his sons as a priest to that idol.  Later he appointed a levite as a priest.  However the same idol and the priest were taken by the Danites to their inheritance. This event shows each tribe and every individual family like Micah worshipped idols.
XVII.          Immorality in Israel (19 : 1 – 21 : 25)
Not only idolatry was practiced in Israel, but immorality such as homosexuality, was also common among some sub-tribes  of Israel.  Due to this kind of immorality and sexual abuse, a levite’s wife was dead.  This incident happened at Gibeah.  The Levite cut his wife into twelve pieces and sent each piece to twelve tribes.  Hence, every one wanted to punish the people of Gibeah. The tribe of Benjamin wanted to protect the people of Gibeah because the people of Gibeah were the Binjamites.  This became a cause for inter-tribal fight.  At this inter-tribal war, the Benjamite were finally destroyed except 600 men of this Benjamite.  Later this 400 men married from Jabesh – gilead (21 : 8).  Other 200 men married from Shiloh.  By this act of marriage, the tribe of Benjamin was saved from extinction.
The last verse of this book clearly shows the social and spiritual condition of Israel: Every one did what was right in his own eyes instead of doing what God’s word said(21 : 25).
Historical Background
                   Ruth might have lived during the time when Gideon was judge of Israel.  It is a family affair, written as a beautiful story of godly living.  The event of Ruth begins with despair, but ends with delight.  It begins with three funerals, but it ends with a wedding and the birth of a child.  The significance of this child is essential to the reconstruction of messianic line in the Old Testament. The genological facts in the book of Ruth are employed by both Mathew and Luke (Mt. 1 : 3-6; Lk. 3 : 32-33).
                   Although the author of the book is unknown, the reference to David within its pages (4 : 22) suggests that it might have been written during the reign of David.  However, some scholars suggest it might have been written by Samuel. (Probable date is between 1150 and 900 BC). 
                   The book of Ruth reveals the sovereignity of God by which God controls history and events of the world.
  1. Ruth’s Decision (1 : 1 – 22)
  2. Ruth’s Diligence (2 : 1 – 23)
III.     Ruth’s Decision (3 : 1-18)
  1. Ruth’s Delight (4 : 1-22)
Study Notes
  1. Ruth’s Decision ( 1 : 1 – 22)
This event happened when judges judged (ruled) Israel.  It was the time when every one walked in his own way instead of walking on God’s ways (Jud. 17 : 6 ; 21 : 25).  At that time, there was a famine in Israel.  Probabley God used this famine either to punish Israel which went away from God or to test the faith of them.  This famine was so severe in Bethlehem. (Bethlehem means “house of bread”).  Instead of remaining in Bethlahem with faith in God, Elimelech went to Moab, which was located on the east side of the Dead Sea.  Moab was then untouched by famines.  Instead of waiting for God’s deliverance in Bethlahem (House of bread) he went to Moab.
          Elimelech    means          “my God is King”
          Naomi         means “pleasant or sweet one”
          Mahlon       means “sickly one” (Ruth’s husband)
          Chilion        means “pining or failing”
After going to Moab, sons of Elimelech married women of Moab.  Although Deut. 23 : 3 mentions that a child born of Moabite background was not to be admitted to the congregation of Israel until the tenth generation, marriage with the Moabite was not prohibited.  (Deut. 7 : 1 – 3) only prohibited the Israelites intermarriage with the seven Canaanite nations).  Hence they married the Moab women.
                   Orpah means “Fawn”
                   Ruth   means “Friend”
Unfortunately, Naom’s survived her husband and her two sons.  Then she lived with her daughter’s-in-law.  Totally they lived for ten years in Moab (1 : 4).  By this time, Naomi heard that God had blessed Bethlehem with bread (1 : 6).  Hence she decided to go back to Bethlehem after sending her daughters-in-law to their parents.  Orpah went back to her house as said by her mother-in-law.  But Ruth decided to go with her mother-in-law, and to follow the God of Israel (1 : 16, 17).  God honoured her faith.
  1. Ruth’s Deligence (2 : 1 – 23)
After coming to Bethlehem, Ruth and Naomi had no sources for living.  Hence, Ruth decided to go to field and to glean food grain because it was a time of harvest.  Not all farmers would allow gleaners in their field, even though it was commanded in the law of Moses (v: 22 ; Lev. 19 : 9 ; 23 : 22 ; Deut. 24 : 19).  Prayerfully Ruth went to a field to glean barley.  Fortunately, that field belongs to Boaz.   He treated Ruth well.  Later Ruth found from her mother-in-law that he was their relative (Kinsman).
                   In the Jewish custom, the Kinsman has responsibility as following:
  1. To provide on heir for a deceased brother’s (or near relatives) property: this was called a levirate marriage (Deut. 25 : 5).
  2. To redeem the property of a brother and, if necessary, to redeem a brother and any of his family that may have volunteered to be slaves to pay for their debts (Lev. 25 : 25, 48).
  • To avenge the blood of the brother that was murdered if the killer was found and returened over to him (Deut. 19 : 11-13).
                   Boaz was kinsman to Ruth’s family.
Note :  Spiritually the kinsman redeemer was symbolic of God’s work of redemption.  Jesus Christ is the kinsman – redeemer of lost men (Gal. 4 : 4; Heb. 2 : 16, 17; Rom. 8 : 23, 35 – 39; Gal. 3 : 13 ; 1 Pet. 1 : 18-20; Eph. 1 : 7, 11, 14).
III.    Ruth’s Decision (3 : 1 – 18)
Naomi taught Ruth the customs of Israel and guided her how she must behave before Boaz.  Ruth did everything as her mother-in-law taught. She said to Boaz that he was kinsman. (Goel – in Hebrew term).  However Boaz was an honourable man; he also wanted to follow the Jewish custom.  Hence He said that there was another man who was very closer to Naomi’s family.  If that man had refused to marry Ruth, he would then marry her. Ruth returned home and told Naomi what Boaz had said to her.
Note :  The act of spreading a corner of a man’s skirt over a woman was a sign of marriage in the jewish custom.  It was a symbol of finding security from the man.  No sexual contact was made by Boaz.  The bold plan of Naomi would have been an immoral thing for Ruth to do under normal circumstances but she was following the law of kinsman-redeemer.  It was very lawful for her to do what she did.
  1. Ruth’s delight (4 : 1 – 22)
Boaz went to the gate of house.  The gate was the place of business or meeting people in Old Testament times.  As Boaz expected the close relative (immediate kinsman) of Naomi came.  Boaz said the matter of Ruth.  However, the close relative of Naomi refused the deal (4 : 6).  Hence “that man took of his sandal and gave it to the other” (4 : 7).  The act of removing one’s shoe and handing it  over to other was considered in Israel that the right of redemption had been handed over to another person.  The sandal was used for this symbolic act because this possession of any property was done by walking over the soil of the land just purchased.  Therefore when his land was sold, the shoe of the owner was given to the new owner as a symbolic act that the land was legally transferred to the new owner.  Hence, in the presence of witnesses, Boaz said he would buy the land from Naomi as well as he would marry Ruth (4 : 8 – 11).  A son was born to Boaz and Ruth. They named him “Obed”.  This Obed later became father of Jesse and grandfather of David (4 : 22).
Note :  This book ends with the name David (4 : 18 – 22).  Hence this book might have been written during the reign of David.  Moreover, it gives additional notes on an Old Jewish customs (4 : 7).  This means it would have been written about 150 years later from the actual event happened.
                   The author of this book is uncertain.  However, scholars believe that Samuel provided the needed information (1 : 1 – 25 : 1) and others started writing.  Anyhow the book was written in its complete form only after the death of Samuel.
                   The book was completely written in its present form probably after the division of Israel in 931 BC, because the references to the city of Ziklag as a city of Judah (27 : 6).  But there is no mention of the fall of Samariah in 722 BC.  Analizing these two facts, it was written between 931 BC and 722 BC.  This book covers a period of about 140 years of history beginning with the birth  of Samuel (c. 1150 BC) and ending with the death of Saul, the first king of Israel (c 1010 BC).
Historical Background
                   This historical setting of this related with Judges.  Although the book of Judges does not mention Samual as a Judge, he was considered as the last Judge of Israel.  He was a unique leader: a priestly Judge as well as priestly prophet.  With him, the period of Judge’s ministry ended but the period of writing prophetical ministry began.  Towards the mid of Judges period, the leadership of Israel was corruptive (Ex: Eli’s two sons).  Israel was in one of her darkest periods.  Her moral life was at a low ebb.  The last five chapters of Judges reveal immorality and idolatry among the Israelites.  As a result, Israel’s political freedom was being taken away by the Philistines.  They already had conquered the coastal plains and some inland cities (Beth – Shean) and controlled the hill country near the coast (Shephelah).  At this time, they also threatened to conquer the rest of Palestine.  The book of First Samuel deals the troubles and wars between the Israelites and the Philistines.  It also deals the history of three men: Samuel (1-7), Saul (8-15) and David (16 – 31).
Outline of First Samuel
  1. Birth and Growth of Samuel (1 : 1 – 3 : 21).
  2. The Ark of God captured by the Philistines (4 : 1 – 22)
  • The Ark sent by the Philistines back to Israel (5 : 1 – 6 : 21)
  1. Ministry of Samuel after Eli (7 : 1 – 17)
  2. Israel’s Demand for a King (8 : 1 – 22)
  3. Saul chosen and Anointed as a King (9 : 1 – 10 : 27)
  • Victory of Saul (11 : 1 – 15)
  • Proclamation of Samuel (12 : 1 – 25)
  1. Saul’s Disobedience (13 : 1 – 15 : 35)
  2. Selection of David (16 : 1 – 23)
  3. Slaying of Goliath (17 : 1 – 58)
  • David’s Service to Saul (18 : 1 – 19 : 24)
  • David’s life of Wanderings (20 : 1 – 30 : 31)
  • Death of Saul (31 : 1 – 13)
Study Notes
  1. Birth and Early Life of Samuel (1 : 1 – 3 : 21)
Elkanah lived in the mountains of Ephraim (Ramathaim – Zophim).  Elkanah means “God possesses”. He was a Levite of the Kohathite clan (2 Chro. 6 : 22, 23).  He was called ephrathite because he lived in the area belonging to Ephraim.  Levites were usually referred to by the tribal area in which they lived.  Though he lived only 12 miles away from Shiloh he went up only once a year to Shiloh (Tabernacle situated), instead of the three times commanded (Deut. 16 : 16). Probably he avoided going to Shiloh because of the wickedness of Eli’s sons,  however, he was a good man.  Although he married another woman, he did not divorce his first wife (Hanna – means Charm) for not having children.  He loved Hannah, but his second wife Penninah (meaning – corals) used abusive words against Hannah and made her to weep.  Elkanah’s words could not comfort Hannah.  Hence, she went to the Tabernacle and made a vow to God that she would offer the child to God and that no razor would come upon his head if God had given.  Her prayer was simple, sincere, seeking God’s favour.  God honoured and answered her simple prayer by giving a son (Samuel – meaning heard of God).  When she had weaned him, she went the Tabernacle to offer him for God’s services.   When she offered Samuel to God, she praised God with a song (2 : 1 – 10).
Samuel grew in Tabernacle under the guidance of Eli  (2 : 18 ; 3 : 1)  However, sons of Eli were so wicked (2 : 11-17).   Eli could not control them (2 : 22 – 25). Hence God sent a man (Prophet) to Eli and that man prophecied against Eli’s household (2 : 27 – 36).
Samuel grew and ministered to the Lord with Eli at the Tabernacle.  One day the Lord called Samuel four times in audible voice at early morning when he was sleeping the room near Tabernacle.  The phrase “did not know the Lord” (3 : 7) can mean (i) that Samuel was not yet a matured man but young boy, did not know God in an intelligent and worshipful way (cf 2 : 12) or (ii) that Samuel was not acquainted with God’s special manner of revelation.
Under Eli’s guidance, Samuel responded God properly, God revealed him what He would do with Eli’s family.  Samuel’s ministry is explained in a nutshell in chapter 3 : 19 – 21.  Although his name is not mentioned in the book of Judges, he without any doubt, was considered as the last Judge of Israel.  His ministry was threefold: functioned as Judge, Priest and Prophet.  He was the last judge and the first prophet of prophetic era in Israel.  Moreover, Samuel’s ministry had three major successful areas as following
  • The Lord established his message and made his message certain (3 : 19).
  • Samuel began to have wide influence (3 : 20). No other judge had a ministry that included the whole land.
  • Samuel became the recognized source of God’s instruction (3 : 21).
Notes on Nazarite :  The Nazarite vow was a vow of special devotion to God.  This vow had three parts (Num. 6 : 1-21).
  • They abstained from any product of the vine. Such separation symbolized separation from pleasure (worldly or moral) an order to better serve God.
  • They avoided ceremonial uncleaness caused by contact with a corpse. Such separation implied separation from the corruptions and the cares of the world.
  • They did not cut their hair all the time of the vow. The uncut hair expressed a special consecration to God – a dedication as thorough as the high priest’s. (The word for the crown of the high priest, “nezer”, was related to the Nazarite, Nazir.  This vow was usually taken only for a limited time, but three did it for life.  The other two lifetimes Nazarites were Samson and John the Baptist.
  1. The Ark of God Captured by the Philistines(4 : 1 – 22)
The Philistines arrived in Palestine (Canaan) about 1250 BC.  They attacked Egypt in 1175 BC (Rames III) but they were defeated.  Hence they settled on the coast of Palestine.  They gained control of five major cities (Ashdod, Ashkelon, Ekron, Gath and Gaza).  They attacked Israel from the time of Jephethah (1100 BC).  Samson harassed the Philistines and hindered their expansion for a while, but they recovered and continued to extend their control of land through many wars with Israel.  The war mentioned in Chapter 4 is also one of such a war.
This war was also so severe.  For the victory, Israel trusted the presence of the Ark of God instead of trusting God.  Finally, Israel was badly defeated and sons of Eli died in battle.  The Ark of God was captured by the Philistines.  By hearing the capture of the Ark of God Eli was dead.  Phinehas wife (Eli’s son)gave birth to a son, it brought no joy to her because of the death of her husband, father-in-law and capture of the Ark of God.  Hence she expressed her despair by naming her son “Ichabod”. Ichabod means “No glory” or “glory departed”.  Eli judged Israel for forty years. (4 : 18)
III.    The Ark Sent Back by the Philistines to Israel (5 : 1 – 6 : 20)
The Philistines captured the Ark of God because Israel could not defend it.  However, the Lord, Himself defended the Ark of God.  He afflicted the Philistines as well as their god Dagon.  Dagon was a grain god of the Philistines.  Dagon fell before the Ark of God.  The Philistines suffered from boils for seven months.  Wherever the Philistines sent the Ark of God, the people of that town were afflicted by God.  Finally they sent back the Ark of God back to Israel.
This ark was kept in the city of Kirjath – Jearim, which was part of the patrimony of Judah.  The ark was in that city until David brought it to Jerusalem (2 Sam. 7; 1 Chro. 13).
  1. Ministry of Samuel After Eli (7 : 1 – 17)
The Canaanites believed Baal and Ashtaroth.  Baal was a god, thought controller of rain and Ashtaroth was a god for growth and fertility.  When the Israelites possessed Canaan, they knew little about farming.  They learnt from the Canaanites about farming and were taught by the Canaanites that if they wanted a good crop, they would have to go to the local shrine and worship Baal (the rain god) and Ashtaroth.  The Israelites desires for a bountiful harvest attracted them towards gods of the Canaanites.  Hence, they started worshiping these gods instead of worshiping Jehovah.  They continued for 400 years during the period of Judges.  Although they turned to Jehovah in part, they did not turn fully.
Samuel now appealed to the Israelites to turn to Jehovah only (7 : 3, 4).  People turned to God, and they sacrified to Jehovah at Mizpah.  Since they turned to God, He gave victory over Philistines.
          Samuel’s Leadership : Samuel became the open and universally     acknowledged leader of Israel.  He was Israel’s leader, spiritually,           politically and militarily.  Under his leadership, Israel reconqured the       areas lost to the Philistines by continuing to rely on the Lord.
  1. Israel’s Demand for King (8 : 1 – 26)
Samuel made his sons as judges when he became old.  However, they were not as perfect as Samuel. They were corrupt.  Hence, the elders of Israel asked Samuel to appoint a king for Israel.  It pained Samuel but he prayed to God.  God said to him, “Heed the voice of the people . . .  they have not rejected you but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them” (2 : 7, 8). 
Israel rejected God’s rule.  God ruled the nation of Israel through Spiritual leaders began from Moses and continued through Judges.  These spiritual leaders guided Israel spiritually made decisions politically, and led Israel’s army militarily.  This system of rule was Gods plan for Israel. He reigned Israel through their spiritual leaders (This system of God’s direct rule over Israel  is known as Theocracy).  That is why, when Israel rejected their spiritual leader Samuel, God said to Samuel, that they have rejected Him.  Israel wanted Monarchy instead of Theocracy.  They wanted king’s rule instead of God’s rule.  Although Israel’s request grieved God as well as Samuel, God asked Samuel to appoint a king for Israel as they had asked.  This was a great turning point in the history of Israel.
  1. Saul Chosen and Anointed as King (9 : 1 – 10 : 27)
Kish was a Benjamite.  His son was Saul.  Saul was obedient to his father and he went to searching for the lost donkeys.  Saul’s servant suggested him to inquire Samuel, a prophet.  Although Samuel was famous, Saul did not know him.  Probably Saul’s lack of knowledge about Samuel suggests that he did not have proper interest in God and godly things.
However, God had already told Samuel about Saul, and instructed him to anoint Saul as king over Israel.  The anointing of Saul had three implications (i) Samuel set apart Saul for God’s Service.  This anointing was an honor, but it also involved responsibility (2 Sam. 15 : 17).  (ii) God, not Samuel, initiated the anointing.  (iii) Divine power accompanied the anointing.  The spirit of God came upon Saul, giving him the ability to be king. 
Note : When Saul disobeyed, this theocratic anointing was taken back and God    rejected him to be king.  Samuel anointed Saul as king at Mizpah.  He also recorded this anointing and appointing of King and law of king (10 : 25).  However, some did not wholeheartedly accept Saul as King.
Note : Prophets in Ch. 10 : 5, 10 were the men who were probably trained by Samuel.  These prophets did not tell any predictive prophecy, but obviously they praised God by singing praises with musical instruments.  Hence they could be rightly called “Praising Prophets”.  Samuel was the first prophet, who trained “praising Prophets”.
VII.   Victory of Saul (11 : 1 – 15)
Nahash, the Ammonite planned to attact the Jebosh – gileadites.  However, he gave seven days.  The Jabesh- Gileadites asked the help of other Israelites including Saul.  Saul assembled all Israel and led the battle and defeated the Ammonites.  Saul’s victory began here, since he depended God.  After defeating the Ammonites, Samuel called the people and Saul to Gilgal and officially anointed Saul as the king over Israel. Gilgal had an important historical meaning for Israel because it commemorated the entrance of Israel into Palestine.  To renew the kingdom meant to re-establish the kingdom on its spiritual foundations.
VIII.  Proclamation of Samuel (12 : 1 – 25)
Samuel asked about his integrity before the king (anointed) and the people.  They testified of his integrity.  Then Samuel briefed the history of Israel to people their bondage and deliverance and delivered his farewell speech with advice.  He proved his prophetic office by doing immediate miracle of rain (16 – 18).  He advised them “to fear the Lord, to serve Him in truth and consider how great things He has done for you” (24).
Note : (v.11) Jerubbaal is Gideon.  Bedan probably refers to Barak.
  1. Saul’s Disobedience (13 : 1-15 : 35)
During Saul’s reign, there were wars between the Israelites and the Philistines (14 : 52).  In the early period of his reign, one of such battle was at Michmash (13 : 1-7).  Before going for the battle, the people of Israel used to offer sacrifices to seek God’s guidance through the priests.  But Saul the King offered sacrifices instead of Samuel, the priest then.  By this act, Saul violated the law (13 : 14,.b).  It became sin.  Samuel rebuked Saul for this and said that God would anoint a new king “after His own heart” (13 : 14).  Saul failed as a leader of Israel because he failed as a follower of the Lord.  Hence God did not answer for his prayer (14 : 37).
After many years Samuel again came to Saul and said to him that Saul was to destroy the Amalakies utterly.  Amalek, had harrased Israel at the time of the Exodus (Ex. 17 : 10 – 16) and was still doing it (15 : 33). Now they were to be destroyed.  However, Saul deliberately sinned regarding this command too.  Saul spared again, the king of Amalekites and he allowed the people to take the best animals as spoil (15 : 8, 9).  God grieved for Saul’s act of disobedience.  God sent Samuel to Saul to say his sin.  Saul “confessed” his sin but he was not sorry for his sin, because he gave an excuse “I feared the people and obeyed their voice” (15 : 24; cf Prov. 29 : 25).  Saul obeyed people instead of obeying God.  Yet Saul’s concern was the honor of the people (15 : 30), not the honor of the Lord.  Samuel showed honor to Saul as King that day so that the law and order would be maintained until a new king was designated.  Samuel killed the king of Amalekites.  Samuel then left Saul and never saw him again until the day of Saul.  According to God’s plan for Israel the duty of
  • The Priest was to perform sacrifices according to the law.
  • The Prophet was to preach the law to the people.
  • The King was to protect the law.
Saul, as king failed to protect the law and keep the law of God in his life and before the people.
Note : “It repenteth me” (15 : 11) – The repentance here refers to God’s emotions and actions but not to His character  His nature does not change.  When men change their deeds, God must change how He responds to man.  A change of man from obedience to disobedience grieves God and brings sorrow to His heart, so God must change His dealing with man.
  1. Selection of David (16 : 1-23)
Samuel was mourning for Saul.  God said him to stop mourning and to anoint a new king.  Samuel asked “How can I go?”.  The Lord answered to him to make a sacrifice.  The Lord’s answer has caused some people to charge God with deception.  Several considerations show that He was not deceptive.
  • Samuel was going to sacrifice at Bethlehem. He probably had the practice of going to various places to sacrifice, since the tabernacle had been destroyed. Such a journey would not be unusual.
  • Saul had no right to know of Samuel’s mission. Saul was legally no longer God’s king (though he was still ruling).  Concealment of Samuel’s primary aim was no sin.
  • David’s anointing needed to be completely private. None of David’s family (except possibly his father) knew the reason for the anointing.  David needed time to be prepared to become king.  The private anointing insured that he would not be thrust on the throne before he was ready.  Thus David was anointed privately and secretly.
Note : Anointing with oil indicated that a man was set apart to do a special work for God and symbolized the Holy Spirit who would empower him to do that work.  Anointing as king was known as the “theocratic anointing” (16:13).
16 : 14 – 23 :  Theocratic anointing was taken away from Saul.  Hence an evil spirit terrified him.  God allowed this spirit to accomplish His purpose in the following ways.
  • This spirit would chasten and show Israel the ultimate effect of choosing a king like the world.
  • The spirit would chasten and show Saul the effects of his sin and    this would give him another reason for repentance.
  • This spirit would show David his need of the Holy Spirit’s   Without anointing,  David would be in as much      difficulty     as Saul.
When Saul was tormented by the evil spirit, David was invited to palace by the recommendation of a servant of Saul to play music.  David came and played music and the evil spirit departed.  David coming into palace was a plan of God so that he can be trained to be the next king.  The songs of David may have been some of the Psalms. These songs were effective and soothed Saul.
  1. Slaying of Goliath (17 : 1 – 58)
David was not one of Saul’s permanent servants at this time. So he went to house from palace.  At this time there was a battle between Israel and the Philistines.  David’s brothers went for war.  David went to see his brothers at the battle field.  There Goliath came out as champion for the Philistines.  In ancient times, occasionally champions from each side would be chosen to represent them in a contest to determine the victor of the battle.  Goliath, according to that ancient custom, called a champion from Israel to fight with him since all faced, David alone killed Goliath and saved Israel in that battle.  David became very popular.
XII.  David’s Service to Saul (18 : 1 – 19 : 24)
After David killed  Goliath, Saul promoted and appointed David as one of his permanent servant.  David did everything wisely.  Women also singing praises to David Saul envied David for their praises. (18 : 6 – 9).  Hence Saul tried to kill David. Saul’s last ten to fifteen years were consumed with this murderous passion.  However David escaped from Saul’s plan.  David fled to Samuel in Ramah, where he led a school of prophet.  Samuel counselled and encouraged him.  During this time, Saul three times sent people to capture David. Those who went to capture David, were overpowered by the spirit and prophesied, praised and glorified God. Finally Saul also went and prophesied.  He removed his royal garment and fell down.  People mockingly said “Is Saul a prophet?”.
  • David’s Life of Wanderings (20 : 1 – 30 : 31)
Since Saul continually pursued to kill David, he escaped to Nob. (Probably the present Mount Scopus near Jerusalem) and met Ahimelech, the priest.  There he ate (21 : 3 – 6).  Doeg, a servant of Saul reported about the whereabout of David (22 : 2-10).  Hence, David went to Gath, in Philistia.  In Gath he acted as madman before the king Achish and escaped (21 : 10 – 15) to the cave Adullam(22 : 1-2).  David’s family and many opponents of Saul joined with David.  The prophet Gad also added himself to David’s company (22 : 5).  Since Doeg reported about David, Saul killed Ahimelech and Priests.  But Abiathar, a son of Ahimalech escaped and joined, with David (22 : 18-23).  Saul continued his pursue to kill David.  During these period, David had a few chances to kill Saul.  But he was honest that he would not kill the Lord’s anointed king Saul (24 : 3-7).  David faced continual persecution from Saul.  David’s reaction to all this persecution is recorded in Psalm 7 and 54.  (1 Sam. 26 : 1-25).  At one point, Achish, king of Philistines invited David to fight with them against Saul (28 : 1-2).  However, the leaders of Philistine did not agree with Achish, so he sent back David. God spared David from fighting against his own people (29 : 1-11).  Both armies (Philistines and Israel) were preparing for  the battle.  At this juncture Saul went to consult medium (witchcraft 28 : 3-25).  Noting helped Saul.  His end was nearing.
         Views concerning Samuel’s Appearance (28 : 11-19)
  1. A demon or satan impersonated Samuel because satan is father of     
  2. Samuel’s appearance was only psychological.
  • Samuel’s appearance was a fake.
  1. God actually caused Samuel’s appearance (cf:1 Chr. 10 : 13). However, some object this fourth view, because
  • God’s word prohibits consulting medium. Hence He would never contradict His own word (Deut. 18 : 10-12).
  • God has no obligation to do the will of a witch.
  • It was not necessary to God for using a deadman to reveal His plan (Luke 16 : 31). He could have used a living prophet then to reveal His plan to Saul.
Concluding Remarks of the above Views
                   This passage (1 Sam. 28 :  11 – 19) is one of the difficult passage to interpret.  However many scholars suggest the first view since satan as a lier impersonated Samuel.  As Saul himself fearfully expected an ill fate – probably death at battle.  Satan understood and told about his death.  The statement “tomorrow you and your sons will be with me (v:19)”.  Probably means Saul shall be added after death in the company of satan, the rebelled one.  Moreover, “your sons” – as said, all sons of Saul did not die (Ex. Ishbosheth.  2 Sam. 2 : 8-10).  How could the message be partially true, if Samuel had truly appeared.
  • Death of Saul (31 : 1-13)
The battle was so fierce and Israel was defeated. Saul was badly wounded (ancient versons translate he was wounded in the abdomen).  The wound was severe enough to prevent Saul’s escape.  Saul asked his armorbearer to kill him, since he feared the torture of the Philistines.  The armorbearer refused because he was afraid of killing the Lord’s anointed Saul then fell on his own sword; but the deed was not completely successful (it appears that an Amalekite finally killed Saul, if he told David the truth (2 Sam. 1 : 10).  Men of Jebesh gilead went by night and rescued the body of Saul because Saul once rescued them from the Ammonites early in his reign. They burned the body of Saul and then buried the bones later David removed those bones and reburied Saul’s bones in the sepulcher of Saul’s father (2 Sam. 21 : 12 – 14).
Author and Date
                   The two books in English that now make up 1 and 2 Samuel were one book in the Hebrew Bibe , called “The Book of Samuel.  Probably, it is called either because Samuel began to write the first book or because he anointed the two kings who were prominent in these books (1st  Samuel – Saul; 2nd   Samuel – David).  However, the true author is unknown.  Some scholars suggest 2nd Samuel was written by Abiathor, the priest or by some one in the court of David.  It was written between 931 – 722 BC.  This book deals with the reign of David and his life.
Outline of Second Samuel
  1. David’s Response to Saul’s Death – 1 : 1-27
  2. Judah’s coronation of David – 2 : 1-32
  • Abner’s Conspiracy against Ishbosheth – 3 : 1 – 4 : 12
  1. David Kingship Establishment – 5 : 1-25
  2. God’s ark, Established – 6 : 1 – 23
  3. God’s covenant with David – 7 : 1 – 8 : 18
  • David Kindness to others – 9 : 1 – 10 : 19
  • David’s sin and its consequence 11 : 1 – 14 : 33
  1. Absalom’s conspiracy – 15 : 1 – 18 : 33
  2. David Regaining Control of Israel – 19 : 1 – 21 : 22
  3. David’s Final Years of Ruling – 22 : 1 – 24 : 25
  1. David’s Response to Saul’s Death – 1 : 1 – 27
David was sorrowful for the death of Saul and his son Jonathan, a true friend of David.  Since the Amalekite himself confessed that he killed Saul, (the Lord’s anointed – v:14). David ordered his young man to kill the Amalekite. (Amalekite had harassed Israel during the time of her wilderness journey from Egypt.  (Deut. 25 : 17; Jud. 3 : 13; 6 : 3.  God asked to Saul to punish the Amalekite, but he spared. I Sam. 15 : 4).  David lamented for Saul and Jonathan (1 : 17-27).
  1. Judah’s Coronation of David – 2 : 1 – 32.
The death of Israel’s first king Saul left the nation in complete disarray.  They were without decisive leadership. At this juncture, people of Judah wanted to make David their king.  Hence David sought the wisdom of the Lord through Abiathar, the Priest (1 Sam. 22 : 20 ; 23 : 9)  concerning his next move.  The answer from the Lord was for David to assume the kingship of Hebron, the Chief city of Judah.  From Hebron, David ruled Judah for 7 ½ years.  However, other tribes, under the leadership of Abner, the  Commander – in – chief of Saul’s army, established   Ishboshath as king of Israel (8-11).  Hence there were fightings between Abner’s forces and Judah, under Joab, the commander of David’s army.  In this battle Joab’s brother Asahel was killed by Abner.  But finally, David’s men overpowered Abner’s men.  However, there was a ceasefire made between Abner and Joab.  So they turned to their respective camps and places.  But the civil war continued nearly seven years (13 : 1).
III.    Abner’s Conspiracy against Ishbosheth – 3 : 1 – 4 : 12
Although Ishbosheth was king for northern tribes, Abner was the real power among them.  Abner laid claim to one of the wives of Saul which in effect was a veiled claim to the throne of Ishbosheth.  This event brought division between them.  Hence Abner decided to shift his loyalty to David.  Under one condition that bringing Michal, David’s first wife, Abner agreed and brought her to David. He also began instructing all the local governors and city leaders to support David (3 : 21).  However, Joab, killed Abner by a plot, taking vengeance for killing his brother Asahael.  David had not part in this plot.  So David lamented for Abner, a great warrior of Israel (3 : 22 – 39).  David remorse over this deed was sincere and the people all took it as such (3 : 36, 37).  (This incident identifies Joab as a cruel hard-hearted man, and the narrative of the rest of David’s life will bear this out).  Without Abner’s advice and support, Ishboshath was virtually powerless to rule.  Later Ishbosheth was murdered by his two captains (4 : 2-7).  But David did not accept their deed and kill the murderers of Ishbosheth.  Thus David won the favour of the Northern tribes.
  1. David’s Kingship Established in Israel – 5 : 1 – 25
David reigned as king, first over Judah for 7 ½ years and then over all Israel for 33 years.  after the death of Ishbosheth, whole Israel accepted David as their king.  Then he made Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  He defeated the Philistines during this time.
  1. God’s Ark Established – 6 : 1 – 23
The Ark of God had rested in a private place in Kirjath – jearim for about seventy years.  Saul had no concern for it. Since the Ark was at north and the priests were scattered, the worship was sporadic. Hence, David’s primary concern was for restoring the ark to its central place.  He joyfully prepared to bring the ark to Jerusalem (Psalms 132 was probably composed for using on this occasion).  However, they did not follow the procedure of carrying the ark (Ex. 25 : 14, 15, Num. 4 : 5, 6, 15).  The ark should be carried by staves across the shoulders of the priests; not on the cart.  Moreover Uzzah touched it irreverently.  “No one, not even the sons of Kohath who were to bear the ark on staves were to touch the ark, lest they die (Num. 4 : 15). The death of Uzzah made the crowd as well as David in a confused state.  Hence, David, instead of bringing it to Jerusalem, kept it in the house of Obed-edom.  God blessed  Obed-edom’s house.    Hearing the blessing on Obed-edom’s house,  David again brought it to Jerusalem, reverently (Psalm 24 was composed at this occasion).
Note : Michal was no great lover of Jehovah, as her father was.  So, she despised David.
  1. God’s Covenant with David – 7 : 1 – 29
After becoming the King of whole Israel, David planned and consulted with Nathan, the prophet to construct a permanent temple to accommodate the ark of God.  Nathan encouraged him.  But God did not allow him to build the temple and said that his son would build it.  However, God was pleased with David’s desire so God blessed him in a special way by making a covenant with David. This covenant is known as Davidic covenant. This covenant included three aspects.
  • His dynasty would ensure for ever (7 : 12, 16).
  • His throne would be established for ever (7 :13, 16; cf. Lk. 1 : 31).
  • His kingdom would exist for ever (7 : 13, 16; cf. Luk. 1 : 33).
All of these promised blessings were fulfilled in the Messiah Jesus Christ (Ps. 89 ; Is. 9 : 1-7).  David praised God for this blessing.  God gave greater victories to David (8 : 1-18).  David had a good cabinet of qualified leaders.
Nathan                  :         Spiritual  counselor and minister of court
Joab                      :         commander of the Army
Benaiah                :         Commander of the mercenaries
                                      (the Cherethites and Pelethites)
Jehoshaphet          :         Record keeper and court historian
Seraiah                  :         Scribe – Court lawyer / correspondent of
                                      Diplomatic communiqués.
Adoram                :         Minister of the tribute laborers.
Zodok, Abiathar   :         High Priests
Jonathan               :         Counselor (David’s uncle)
Husai & Ahithophel:      counselors / Advisors
Jehiel                    :         Governor of David’s children
VII.   David Kindness to others – 9 : 1 – 10 : 19
As David was a great worrier, he was also a great man of kindness and compassion.  He helped to many people.  He enquired and found Mephibosheth, a lame son of Jonathan the good friend of David.  Like that, David wanted to help Hanun, the king of Ammon and son of Nahash.  Nahash was enemy of Saul, and helped David (1 Sam. 11 : 1)  But Hamun and his counselors misunderstood David’s kind heart and did disrespect to David’s servants.  Hence David instead of helping had to fight against them.  David defeated Hanun and his Syrian allies.  This was David’s last great battlefield victory. His trials against external enemies come to an end at this point, and future battles are fought in his own heart and within his own family.
VIII.  David’s sin and its Consequence – 11 : 1 – 14 : 33
David had arrived at the point where the business of the kingdom was under control.  He had capable, trustworthy, leadership for his well-organized armies in the field.  But another battle began in David’s heart that battle was lust of flesh.  Although David won battles against other nations, he was defeated in the battle of sin.  He committed sin by doing adultery with Bathsheba.  In order to cover his sin, David cunningly killed her husband Uriah, a faithful servant.  Although David covered his sin from man, God exposed it by Nathan.  Nathan told a story and pointed David’s sin to him (12 : 1 – 12).  David repented and confessed his sin.  Agony of sin and his sincere recorded in his words in Psalms 32 and Psalm 51.  Since David repented God blessed him again by giving another victory in a battle (12 : 29). However, God also punished David by the death of child, born to Bathsheba.  Henceforth they were to be storms and times of darkness in his personal life and in his kingdom (ch. 13, 14).
Note : David life was a warning to all (1 cor. 10 : 12).  David may have been a good example to kings, but he was a poor model to parents.
Ammon was the son of Ahinoam, the Jezrealites (2 Sam. 3 : 2) and as the first – born son, he stood between Absalom and the throne.  He killed Ammon for two purpose: First, taking vengeance for the cruel act of Amon against Tamar, sister of Absolom (ch. 13) and second clearing the way to become king of Israel (ch. 14).  After killing Ammon, Absalom fled for safely to the kingdom of his grandfather (father of his mother) Talmai of Geshur, for three years. After three years, he retured to Israel and lived two years with the permission of David.  However, it made 5 years to Absolom to meet David in the palace after killing Ammon.
  1. Absalom’s Conspiracy – 15 : 1 – 18 : 33
After returning to Israel, Absolom gathered some people to him by speaking to them sympathetically.  He wished the throne.  He launched his insurrection from Hebron.  He chose Hebron because it was the place where David himself had been crowned king (15 : 7 – 12). Due to this coup, David had to flee from Jerusalem. David’s flight was due to his sin and prophecy of Nathan (12 : 10 – 12).  David went away from Jerusalem and hid himself.  During this period David wrote and sang many Psalms (Psalms 3, 4, 41, 55, 61, 62, 63.  David prayed for God’s guidance 15 : 31).  God providentially answered his prayer and delivered him and made him king over Jerusalem again.  However, Absalom was killed.  David mourned for Absalom, although Absalom was against him. (Psalms 38, 40 were probably written during this events). 
          Absalom’s Pillar (18 : 18) : Absalom’s three sons (14 : 27) apparently died in infancy, and    perhaps his wife as well.  Rather than multiply to himself other wives to      bear him sons as was the prevailing custom, he chose to perpetuate his   name by building a pillar.
  1. David Regaining Control of Israel – 19 : 1 – 21 : 22
After the death of Absaloam, the Northern tribes were eager to invite David and re-establishes him as king, but Judah was hesitant because the people of Judah joined with Absalom.  However, finally all  tribes called David and made him king again.  David came to Jerusalem again.
  1. David’s Final years of Ruling – 22 : 1 – 24 : 25
David praised God for delivering him from his enemies in chapter 22.  The short Psalm called “the last words of David” (chapter 23 : 1-7) was the last Psalm or prophetic utterance of David. It was written in the sunset years of his life during a period of peace when the words of his soul were healing.  This Psalm relates to Nathan’s prophecy to David in II sam. 7 :11 – 17.  Chapter 23 : 8 – 39 lists the warriers and leaders of David.  Those leaders hailed from various towns and clans, and many even came from foreign States (Hittites, Ammonites, Moabites, Gibeonites and One Syrian).  Chapter 24 records David’s numbering of people.  The question that arises in this verse is “Why would God move David to do some thing wrong?”.  The answer lies in comparing this account with the paralled account in 1 Chro. 21 : 1 – 6, where satan is identified as having invited David to number the people.  Obviously God could not be angry with David if He had induced him to number the people.  God does not entice men to sin. The answer; satan incited and God refused to prevent it from happening.
What was the nature of the sin? David’s attitude seems to be the problems.  This census of capable, fighting men was apparently ordered out of pride and vanity or out of desire for adventurism; enlargement of the kingdom and boarder influence. Joab tried to dissuade David from his decision of numbering the people.  But David persisted his plan to number the people.  Hence, God punished David.  God punished David because David instead of trusting God inclined to trust his men.
Why Did David choose pestilence?  Consider the possibility that in famine and in warfare, a man can adapt, scheme work and by virtue of his wits increases his chance of survival and perhaps even his lot.  In disease one is powerless to do anything but wait for the scourage to run its course.  David may have desired to submit himself into God’s hands and wait upon Him for mercy and hope in Him for deliverance.  Perhaps the plague erupted at the borders of the nation simultaneously and was advancing across the land toward Jerusalem when the Lord stopped the angel of destruction in response to David plea.
Note : The God who changes not, neverthless allows his dealing with men to be moderated by their conduct.  As man changes, God’s dealing with him changes.  Thus David was able to rescue Jerusalem through repentance and fervent prayer.  David offered no excuse he implicated no others; and he took all the blame.  True repentance readily acknowledges its own culpability as David did.  Perhaps he even took the blame for leading the nation astray and attributed total innocence to them as sheep who tend to follow their leader with no thought of their own.
David bought the land of a Araunah the Jebusite and sacrificed to God (24 : 18-25).
Historical Background
                   I Kings records the history of Israel after the period of David. The book of 1 Kings records the Zenith of Israel’s glory in the first eleven chapters and then traces the tragic decline of the nation as a divided kingdom in chapters 12 – 22.
Author and Date
                   It is believed that Ezra was the author of I Kings. He wrote it after he rededicated the temple.
Outline of 1st  Kings
  1. The Enthronment of Solomon (1 : 1 – 2 : 46)
  2. The Eminence of Solomon (3 : 1 – 4 : 34)
III.     The Efforts of Solomon in Building Temple (5 : 1 – 8 : 66)
  1. The Administration of Solomon (9 : 1 – 10 : 29)
  2. The Apostacy of Solomon (11 : 1 – 43)
  3. The Division of the Kingdom (12 : 1 – 24)
VII.   The Declension of Jeroboam (12 : 25 – 14 : 20)
VIII.  The Dynasty of Rehoboam (14 : 21 – 15 : 24)
  1. The Degeneration of Israel (15 : 25 – 16 : 34)
  2. The Ministry of Elijah (17 : 1 – 22 : 40)
  3. the Reign of Jehoshaphat (22 : 41 – 53)
  1. The Enthronment of Solomon (1 : 1 – 2 : 46)
When David became very old in age (71 years), he nominated Solomon as his successor.  Through many wars David enlarged the kingdom of Israel.  At his old age, one of his sons Adonijah tried to become the king.  However, Solomon was enthroned as king of Israel.  He was the third king of Israel.  People accepted Solomon’s kingship.  So Adonijah could not become king.  As the theocratice king of Israel, Solomon assumed the responsibility of protecting and enforcing the law of Moses in Israel.  Solomon instead of killing his opponents at once he became king, he wanted to pardon them but with certain conditions.  Later they (Adonijah, Joab) were killed because they did not comply with the conditions.
  1. The Eminence of Solomon (3 : 1 – 4 : 34)
After establishing his throne by punishing his challengers and opponents, Solomon went to the worship centre in Gibeon and offered sacrifices to the Lord Jehovah.  Then, He asked for wisdom to rule the nation.  His request of asking wisdom pleased God.  Hence, God granted wisdom and also granted wealth and long life.  His wisdom in dispensing justice is explained by the event, how he judged those two women, who claimed for the same son (3 : 16 – 28).  His wisdom was also displayed by the administrative measures, he had taken in his kingdom (4 : 1 – 19).  Moreover, he was wise enough in the fields of biology, botany, zoology, and agriculture (4 : 33).  These two chapters explains (3, 4) about his wisdom.
III.    The Efforts of Solomon in Building Temple (5 : 1 – 8 : 66)
Hiram, the king of Tyre ruled it about 34 years.  Hiram was a friend of David and he supplied labor and material to David for the building of his house (2 Sam. 5 : 11) and supplied some material for temple which David intended (1 Chro. 22 : 4). By using those materials, Solomon began the construction of the Temple.
The inside measurements of the new temple were exactly double those of the old tabernacle (Ex. 26 : 16, 18), that is, about 90 feet long and 30 feet wide and about 45 feet high.  There was a porch across the entire front of the building, 30 feet wide and 15 feet deep.  The construction of this temple was accomplished in silence, a significant departure from normal building activity.  The probable reason was to preserve the attitude of reverence and respect of both the observer and worker that this was no ordinary building, it was the house of the Lord.  Some of the foundation stones were 30 feet long and 7.5 feet high and weighed over 100 tons. They were prepared and marked in the quarry before being delivered to the site.  The interior of the temple was completely covered with cedar so that no stone-work was visible in the interior.  Within the temple the cedar was overlaid with gold so that the effect would have been most spectacular.  The time consumed in building the temple was 7 years and six months.  After building the temple, the temple furnishings were made, while the palace of Solomon was build (ch. 7).
After completing the temple’s construction, Solomon dedicated the temple for the service of the Lord.  As soon as the priests had finished their work of setting the ark in its place, the presence of the Lord manifested itself in the appearance of the glory cloud (Shekinah).  This supernatural cloud filled the temple and not only indicated that the Lord was present, but it also demonstrated His approval on the preceedings.  At the dedication, Solomon delivered a sermon and prayed.  Solomon prayed for his family (8 : 22 – 30), for forgiveness of sins (8 : 31 – 40), for forgiveness (8 : 41-43) and for the future (8 : 44 – 53).  As soon as Solomon had finished praying, fire fell from the glorycloud (shekinah) (2 Chro. 7 : 1) and devoured the sacrifices already laid upon the altar.  The celebration was totally for 14 days (8 : 62 – 66).
  1. The Administration of Solomon (9 : 1 – 10 : 29)
The Lord appeared to Solomon second time after He blessed him in the first time (3 : 5 – 15).  The second appearance occured 24 years later and the Lord gave  Solomon a two-fold message : One of encouragement and one of warning. The first part (9 : 3 – 5) of the Lord’s message to Solomon spoke of His goodness as an encouragement to him for the difficult years ahead.  The second part (9 : 6-9) of the Lord’s message to Solomon – Spoke of His severity as a warning to him for the difficult years ahead.
The remaining part of this chapter (9) explains how he administered his kingdom (9 : 10-28).  He also officiated the feasts (Unleavend Bread; weeks; Tabernacle), although the priests performed the rituals and offered sacrifices.  He also did sea trade (9 : 26-28).
The Queen of Sheba tested Solomon’s wisdom and presented gifts to Solomon as appreciation ( (10 : 1-13; Mt. 12 : 42).  Solomon had great wealth (10 : 14-29).
  1. The Apostacy of Solomon (11 : 1-43)
Solomon married a daughter of Pharaoh (3 :   ) as his first foreign wife.  He also married many others.  They led Solomon to heathen worship.  The events recorded in the chapter occurred in his 55th year of life. (He had ascended the throne at the age of 18 or 20 and died at about 58 or 60 years of age).  Although Solomon did heathen  worship, he never became a total God-denier.  Solomon drew the anger of the Lord due to his apostacy.  God raised up adversaries to oppose Solomon (11 : 14-40).  Hadad of Edom and Rezon of Damascus were opponents at the border area.  Jeroboam, a servant of Solomon also opposed Solomon.  The prophet Ahijah predicted about division of the kingdom after Solomon.  Hence Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam.  So Jeroboam escaped to Egypt.  Solomon died at the age of 58 or 60.
  1. The Division of the Kingdom (12 : 1 – 24)
Judah was the largest of the Tribes and had been the lead tribe in the procession through the wilderness.  Ephraim was a smaller tribe.  Judah and Ephraim had a long history of animosity.
After the death of Solomon, the people went to Rehoboam, the king and son of Solomon and asked to reduce the heavy taxes which his father taxed on them.  But Rehoboam refused to reduce the taxes.  Hence the northern tribes under the leadership of Jeroboam, who returned from Egypt rebelled against Rehoboam and formed their northern kingdom.
Judah and Benjamin tribes remained loyal to Solomon’s successor.  The division of kingdom was according to the prophecy of Ahijah (1 King 11 : 31).  Rehoboam wanted to suppress the rebellion of northern tribes.  The prophet Shemaiah asked them not to war against their brethren.  So, they did not fight against the northern tribes.  Hence, the division of the Kingdom was formalized.
Note : This division of the kingdom was an important historical turning point in the history of Israel.  The divided northern ten tribes formed their kingdom.  It was called Israel or Northern kingdom later.  The two southern tribes continued their rule from Jerusalem.  This southern kingdom was called the kingdom of Judah.
VII.   The Declension of Jeroboam (12 : 25 – 14 : 20)
After division, Jeroboam established two capitals: one in Shechem and another in Penuel which was across the Jordan. He apparently set up another government seat at Tirzah in the north sometimes later (14 : 17; 15 : 33).
After establishing political capitals, he also wanted to build religious capital instead of Jerusalem, so that people would not go to Jerusalem to worship.  Hence, Jeroboam made two golden calves after the model of Aaron at Sinai (Ex. 32) and presented them to the people as visual aids for their worship of Jehovah.  He established those idols one at Bethel and another at Dan (12 : 26-30).  This became sin for him as well as Israel.  He appointed own priests for those worship centres.  Eventually he himself acted as high priest (13 : 1 , 33, 34).
Chapter 13 also explain how Northern tribes declined in all areas such as politically, religiously and spiritually.  Their spiritual declension was recorded by the raise of false prophets (13 : 1-32).  An old prophet  told lie and became the first false prophet of Israel as recorded.  Although he lied, God used him temporarily to warn the young prophet.  Thus Northern Israel became corrupt politically, religiously, morally, spiritually and prophetically.  Jeroboam ruled totally 22 years.  His son Nadab became king of Israel.
VIII.  The Dynasty of Rehoboam (14 : 21 – 15 : 24)
Rehoboam, a son of Solomon became the first king of southern kingdom (Judah).  He also gradually drifted away from God, and Judah as well (14 : 22, 23).  Rehoboam ruled for 17 years (14 : 21 – 31).
Abijam, the son of Rehoboam became the second king of Judah, and he ruled from Jerusalem. He ruled for 3 years (15 : 1-8).  There was war between Jeroboam of Israel and Abijam.
Asa, the son Abijam became the third  king of Judah (15 : 9-24).  He reigned 41 years in Jerusalem.  Asa was the first of eight good kings of Judah.  Hanani was the prophet during the reign of Asa (2 Cho. 14 – 16).
  1. The Degeneration of Israel (15 : 25 – 16 : 34)
Nadab was the king after his father Jeroboam died.  He ruled for two years and was slain by the treacherous Baasha (15 : 25-31).
Baasha, was a despot who fulfilled the prophecy of Ahijah against the house of Jeroboam.  However, through the prophet Jehu, God announced same treatment was in store for Baasha and his house (15 : 32 – 16 : 7)  Heruled for 24 years.
Elab became the fourth king of Israel.  He ruled two years.  he was killed by one of his military captain Zimri (16: 8-10).
Zimri became the fifth king of Israel (Northern kingdom).  He killed all the household of Baasha as prophecied by Jehu (16 : 1-14).  He ruled only seven days. He could not rule because people supported Omri.  They beseiged Tirzah, so Zimri committed suicide by burning the palace (16 : 11-20).
Tibni made himself a ruler of Israel (because some supported him instead of Omri (16 : 21-22).  Finally all accepted Omri as King.  Omri was the sixth accepted ruler of Israel.  He build the city Samaria and made it as his capital (16 : 23 – 28).  He ruled for 12 years.
Ahab, son of Omri became the seventh king of Northern Israel.  He was a very wicked king.  He married Jezebel, a princess of Phoenicia.  She brought Baal worship in Israel.  He ruled for 22 years.  Elijah and Elisha were the prophets and contemporary to Ahab.
  1. The Ministry of Elijah (17 : 1 – 22 : 40).
Elijah was a prophet during this period.  He did many miracles.  After Moses, God did great many miracles through Elijah.  Not only Elijah performed miracles, but also preached God’s word and rebuked the idolatory in Israel.  Hence, Ahab, the ruler of Israel and his wife Jezebel hated him, and wanted to kill him.  Elijah escaped to neighbouring borders.  He was so disappointed but God fed him through ravans and encouraged him through angels as well.  Even great man of God like Elijah could burn- out psychologically.  God encouraged him and gave him a mission to anoint kings over Israel as well as Syria.
Elijah trained many prophets in the school of prophets.  They were known as the sons of prophet.  The sons of prophets were trained to explain the law of Moses, given to Israel already and to write the history of Israel.  Sons of prophets often lived together in the school of prophets. Elisha was also trained in the school of prophets.  During the ministry of Elijah, there was a great spiritual awakening in Israel.
Although these prophets warned Ahab – many times for his wickedness – his wickedness was increasing.  He did injustice to Naboth and acquired his vineyard.  However, Ahab sometimes listened to the unnamed prophet of God and got victory (20 : 13-21).  God used some other prophets also to give his message to Ahab (20 : 28-42).  They gave God’s message to Ahab in dramatic form (Prophecy through dramatic approach) about Ahab’s agreement with the Syrians.  Because God wanted to defeat the Syrians completely, but Ahab made an agreement with Benehadad, the Syrian King. The prophets said to Ahad that since he made agreement with Ben-hadad, you would be killed instead of Ben-Hadad.
As predicted after three years of peace, Ahab tried to recover Ramoth – Gilead, which Ben-Hadad had not returned as he had agreed to.  So Ahab wanted to make war against Syria.
Prophet Micaiah, son of Imlah was also a good prophet, who stood fearlessly against the four hundred false prophets of Ahab by publically denouncing them (22 : 22 – 26).
Ahab, king of Israel and Jehoshephat jointly went to war with Syria.  In this war Ahab was killed.  His death vindicated Micaiah and fulfilled the prophecy of 22 : 16, 17.  After the death of Ahab his son Ahaziah became the king of Israel (22 : 10).
  1. The Reign of Jehoshaphat (22 : 41 – 53)
                   When Ahab ruled Israel, in his fourth year, Jehoshaphat, son of         Asa became the king of Judah in Jerusalem.  He ruled for twenty five      years in Jerusalem. He was the fourth king of Judah. 
Historical Background
                   II Kings picks up where I Kings ends and continues to trace this process of deterioration through the kings of Israel and Judah.  In I Kings we noted the moral decadence that began with Solomon.  This decline resulted in division of the kingdom into two kingdoms under Rehoboam and Jerohoam, and the decline continued until both Kingdom were punished by God with captivity.  Israel (Northern Kingdom of 10 tribes) falls captive to Assyria in Chapter 17 and Judah (Southern kingdom of 2 tribes) to Babylon in chapter 24.
Author & Date
                   It was probably written by Ezra after he returned from the Babylonian captivity.
Outline & Study Notes of II Kings
  1. Ahaziah’s Rule Over Israel (1 : 1-18)
After Ahab, his son Ahaziah became the king of Israel (1 King 22 : 51-53). He ruled from Samaria, the capital of Northern kingdom.  He was an idol worshiper.  God warned him through the prophet Elijah.  So the King sent soldiers to arrest Elijah.  But when Elijah had commanded fire come down and killed them.  This event happened twice.  Third time, the captain of soldiers bowed and handled himself before Elijah.  Hence the life of third captain of soldier was spared and Elijah as God said went with him to meet the King of Israel. As Elijah said the King of Israel died.
  1. Translation of Elijah (2 : 1-25)
After many years of great ministry in Northern kingdom, Elijah was translated to heaven, without facing death.  Elijah’s power was granted to Elisha, the successor of Elijah.  As Elijah did, Elisha also did many miracles.  During this period, Not only people of Israel did not give respect to God and his prophets,  even the children of Israel disrespected prophet Elijah (2 : 23-25).
III.    Jehoram’s Rule Over Israel (3 : 1 – 27)
After Ahaziah’s death, Jehoram began to rule as king of Israel.  He was also known as Joram.  He was the son of Ahab and the brother of Ahaziah.  Joram ruled for 12 years.
During his rule also, Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah made an alliance with Israel to war with Moab.  Jehosaphat made a similar alliance with Ahab just a few years earlier, and almost lost his life (1 King 22 : 29-33).  For doing that he was rebuked by the prophet Jehu (2 Chro. 19 : 1-2).  Again Jehosaphat was doing the same mistake by alligning with Jehoram, the King of Israel.  Elisha rebuked Jehoshaphat for his alliance with Jehoram (3 : 13-15) and the king of Edom. However, Elisha as the Lord said guided them.  They obeyed to Elisha’s guidance and got victory over Moab.
  1. Miracles Performed by Elisha (4 : 1 – 8 : 15)
These chapters records the variety of miracles which are done by Elisha with the power of God.  He helped the widow for paying debt (4 : 1-7), Restoration of the son of Shunammite (4 : 8-37), Removing poison from the pottage (4 : 38-41) and multiplication of food (4: 42 – 44) and healing of Naaman (5 : 1-27)
The miracles of Naaman’s healing pictures beautifully the power of saving faith.  As the general of Syrian army he had probably led the armies of Syria against Israel (5 : 2).  However for his sick, finally he came to Israel for help.  Although, he was hesitant, he finally obeyed and got healing.  As a result, he promised to worship the God of Elisha exclusively.  His request to take two mule loads of earth back to Damascus with him showed his ignorance of Jehovah and how to worship Him properly.  However it did demonstrate his sincereity and Elisha apparently agreed to his request.
Elisha restored the lost Iron Axe-head (6 : 1 – 7), predicting the defeat of Syrians (6 : 8 – 7 : 20), Protection of innocent women ( 8 : 1-6).  Predictions about kings of Syria (Ben-Hadal and Hazael 8 : 7-15).
  1. Joram, the Fifth King of Judah (8 : 16 – 24)
This Joram was son of Jehoshaphat.  He became a co-ruler of Judah with his father Jehoshaphat.  Joram, the King of Judah ruled for eight years in Jerusalem.  He married Athaliah, a daughter of Ahab.  He was a wicked king in Judah.  He lived in the wickedness of Israel’s kings.  During his rule, Edom rebelled against Judah.  He was the fifth King of Judah. 
Note : Please do not compare and be confused with this Joram, king of Judah with the other Joram (Jehoram), the king of Israel.
  1. Ahaziah, the Sixth King of Judah (8 : 25 – 29)
After the death of Joram, the king of Judah, Ahaziah became king over Judah in Jerusalem.  Ahaziah ruled only one year.  He was also a bad king of Judah.  He was the sixth king of Judah.
VII.   Jehu becoming the King in Israel (chap. 9 – 10)
Elisha initiated the anointing of Jehu, as the king of Israel.  Jehu   killed the king Joram (Jehoram) of Israel (9 : 14-26).  He also killed Ahaziah, the king of Judah (9 : 27-27).  Then he killed Queen Jezebael (9 : 30-37).  He also killed all the sons of Ahab (10 : 1-11), Azhaziah’s brothers (10 : 12-14) the supporters of Ahab (10 : 15-17), and Baal worshipers (10 : 18 – 28).  Although Jehu had great zeal for Jehovah at the beginning of his rule, he later had lack of faith in God.  For his faith, God promised him that he and his sons would rule Israel for one hundred years.  Since he turned from the Lord, God later punished through Hazel (10 : 29-36).  Jehu totally ruled for 28 years in Samaria.
VIII.  Athaliah’s rule (Seventh Ruler) in Judah (11 : 1-3)
When Ahaziah was killed by Jehu, Athaliah usurped the throne of Judah.  She killed all the sons of Ahaziah.  But Joash, a son of Ahaziah was protected.  She was a wicked queen, and worshiper of Baal.  Her attempt to kill all the sons is probably Satan’s plan thwart destroy the promise of being on the throne, given to David (11 : 13-16; 2 Chro. 23 : 12-15). She was the seventh ruler.
  1. Joash becoming the Eighth King of Judah (11 : 4 – 12 : 21).
Joash (Jehoash) was protected by God from Athaliah’s purge.  He was the only offspring of David, left alive during her illegal rule.  Jehoiada, the priest was the spiritual counsellor of king Joash.  He repaired the temple.  He collected fund for the temple by placing a chest (like a Hundi).
After the death of Jehoiada, the priest, Joash, the King was influenced by idolatrous, and sinned against the Lord.  The Lord sent prophet Zachariah the son of Jehoiada to call for repentance but Joash ordered to kill him by stonning.  God judged Joash for his unfaithfulness.  Hazad, the King of Syria attempted to attack but went away since Joash presented him much money and wealth.  Finally Joash was killed by his own servants.  Joash  was the eighth king of Judah.
  1. Jehoahaz, the Ruler of Israel (13 : 1-9)
Jehoahaz ruled for 17 years (814 – 798 BC).  He was also an idol worshipper.
  1. Jehoash (Joash), the Ruler of Israel (13 : 10 – 25)
Jehoash ruled Israel for 16 years (798 – 782 BC).  He also lacked faith towards God of Israel.  During his rule Elisha died. (14 : 8-16; 2 Chro. 25 : 17 – 24).
XII.   Amaziah, the Nineth King of Judah (14 : 1 – 22)
Amaziah ruled 29 years (796 – 767 BC) but 23 of those years were as a co-regent with his son Uzziah.  Amaziah was the son of Joash (11 : 1 – 12 : 21; 2 Chro. 25 : 1 – 28).
XIII.  Jeroboam – II, becoming the ruler of Israel (14 : 23-29)
          Jeroboam –II ruled Israel for 41 years, the longest and most prosperous reign of Israel’s Kings (793 – 753 BC).  The first eleven years of his reign were as a co-regent with his father Jehoash.  Jonah and Amos prophesied during his rule (Amos 1 : 1).
XIV.  Azariah, the tenth King of Judah (15 : 1 – 7)
Azariah was also called Uzziah (14 : 21-22 ; 2 Chro. 26 : 1-23).  He ruled totally for 52 years including his co-ruling of 23 years with his father Amaziah.  He ruled from 790 – 738 BC. The last eleven years, he was a leper.  So in those eleven years his son Jotham was his co-regent.  Azariah (Uzziah) was a good king.  He was influenced by a prophet named Zechariah (not the author of the Old Testament book Zechariah).  He sought the Lord as the prophet Zechariah guided him (2 Chro. 26 : 1-23).  However, he disobeyed the Lord and got leprocy when he tried to do the work of priests by violating the law (2 Choro. 26 : 16 – 21).  Prophet Isaiah began his ministry during Uzziah rule (Is. 6).
  1. Zechariah, the Ruler of Israel (15 : 8 – 12)
Zechariah ruled for six months only (753 BC).  He was the fouth ruler of Israel in Jehu dynasty in Israel, (10 : 30).  When Zechariah was killed, Jehu’s Dynasty come to the end.
XVI.  Shallum, the Ruler of Israel (15 : 13-15)
Shallum killed Zechariah and became ruler of Israel, but he ruled only one month (752 BC).  It was of lawlessness and bloodshed in Israel (Hosea 4 : 1-2).  As Shallum usurped the power in Israel, he was killed by Menahem.
XVII.          Menahem, the Ruler of Israel (15 : 16-22)
Menahem killed Shallum and became ruler of Israel.  He ruled for10 years (752 – 742 BC).  He failed to correct Israel’s corrupt worship and so he was not able to please the Lord (Amos 4 : 4).  He became vassal to Assyrian king Pul (Tiglath – Pileser III).
XVIII.Pekahiah, the Ruler of Israel (15 : 23-26)
Pekahiah was the son of Menahem.  He ruled only for two years (742 – 740 BC)  He had no control over Trans-Jordan area. His army officer in the Trans-Jordan region, Pekah killed him in the palace and took over his throne.
XIX.  Pekah, the ruler of Israel (15 : 27 – 31)
Pekah became the ninteenth ruler of Israel.  He ruled for 20 years in Trans-Jordan (752 – 732) but he only ruled Israel as a whole nation for eight years (740 – 732 BC).  Pekah and Rezin (King of Syria) were allies against Assyria.  They tried to persuade the co-regent kings of Judah, Jotham and Ahaz to join them but Ahaz refused.  So they attacked Judah and took captives.  God sent a prophet named Odad and warned Pekah.  Hence they left the captives    (2 Chro. 28 : 5 – 15).
  1. Jotham, the eleventh King of Judah (15 : 32 – 38)
Jotham reigned for a total of 16 years were as a co – regent with his father Azariah (Uzziah). How ever, he was also a co – regent with his son Ahaz for 4 years (735 – 731BC) and this would harmonize with 15:30, which states that Hosea, king of Israel, ascended his throne in the twentieth year of Jotham. For all practical purpose Jotham had resigned from the duties of king and had given his throne over to his son Ahaz, four years earlier, but in a technical sense, he was still king of Judah until he died. (II Chro 27 : 1 –  9)
XXI. Ahaz, the Tewelth King of Judah (16 : 1 – 20)
Ahaz reigned for 16 years after the death of his father Jotham, with whom he ruled for 4 years. Those 4 years are not added to his reign by the scribes.  Altogether he ruled for twenty years (735 – 715 BC).Ahaz was wicked king and pro – Assyrian. He paid tribute to Assyria heavily.  The Lord tried to help him through the prophet Isaiah, but he piously refused (Is. 7 : 10-12 , II Chro. 28 : 1 – 27).
XXII.          Hoshea, the Last Ruler of Israel and Fall of Samaria (17 : 1-41)
Hoshea was the last ruler of Israel.  He represented the ninth and final dynasty.  In its relatively brief history (about 200 years) of Northern kingdom of ten tribes, it had 20 Kings of 9 dynasties.  All of them were wicked.
Hoshea ruled for 10 years (732 – 722 BC).  He paid tribute to Assyria during the rule of Shalmaneser V (727 – 722 BC).  Later he formed an alliance with Egypt to oppose Assyria.  However, the next ruler after Shalmaneser, Sargon II (722 – 705 BC) seized Samaria and captured its people.  Thus the northern kingdom of Israel (10 tribes of northern Israel) fell in 722 BC.  The people of Israel were departed to Assyria and other parts of the Asyrian Empire.  Likewise Assyrians lived in Israel and mingled in marriage with those Israelites, who were left in Israel.  The Northern kingdom was totally fell and lost its power, glory, rule, people etc.  It was a punishment of God to the people of Israel, who worshipped idols (Baal) instead of the Lord God.
XXIII. Hezekiah, the thirteenth King of Judah (18 : 1 – 20 : 21)
Hezekiah became the king after Ahaz.  He ruled for 29 years in Jerusalem (715 – 686 BC).  He was an important king of Judah.  He was generally a good king.  Isaiah also ministred when Hezekiah ruled in Judah.  When Assyria tried to attack Judah after it defeated Israel (Samaria), Hezekiah prayed to God.  For his faith God delivered Hezekiah and Judah from Assyrian attack of Sennacherib      (18 : 13 – 19 : 37).
Hezekiah never tolerated idol worship.  He destroyed the brazen serpent that Moses had used in the wilderness 700 years earlier (Num. 21 : 8 – 9 ; Jn. 3 : 14-15 ; 2 King. 18 : 4-6).  God healed Hezekiah because of his prayer and faith in God.  When he was healed the Ambassadors from Babylon came to see and to greet him. At that time, Hezekiah showed the treasures of Jerusalem temple.
Isaiah rebuked Hezekiah for this act of showing treasures of Jerusalem to a heathen people.  Isaiah also predicted this would bring Lord’s judgement on Jerusalem and Babylon would invade Judah. (Is. 36 – 39 ; 2 Chro. 29 : 1- 32 : 33).
XXIV. Manasseh, the fourteenth King of Judah (21 : 1 – 18)
Although Hezekiah was good, his son Manasseh was a wicked king. He ruled for 55 years (695 – 642 BC).  He was a coregent with Hezekiah for 10 years (695 – 686 BC). Since he worshipped idols. God punished him through the Assyrians (2 Ch. 33 : 1 – 20).  They caught him and took him to Babylon.  There he repented.  So God delivered him and made him to return to Jerusalem (2 Chro. 33 : 14, 16, James 2 : 18).  After returning he removed the idol worshipping centres from Jerusalem.
XXV.          Amon, the fifteenth King of Judah (21 : 19 – 26)
Amon ruled for two years (642 – 640 BC). He was wicked and an idol worshipper.  He was killed by his servants.
XXVI. Josiah, the Sixteenth King of Judah (22 : 1 – 23 : 30)
After the death of  Amon, people made Josiah as king of Judah.  He ruled for 31 years (640 – 609  BC). He was a good king of Judah.  He repaired the temple of Jerusalem and asked the people to keep the law of Moses and pass over (2 Chro. 34 : 1 – 35 : 27).  Hilkiah was the high priest and Huldah was a prophetess during his rule.  He  destroyed idol worshipping centres in Judah.  He also destroyed the altar built by Jeroboam – 1, as a fulfillment of prophecy which was  predicted by a man of God some 300 years ago (1 King. 13 : 2).
Probably Daniel and his friend were very young (or children) and were touched by the faith and reformation of Josiah.
Joshiah died in a battle against Pharaoh.  Nechoh, who was on his way to help the Assyrians at Charchemish in a battle against the Babylonians (2 Chro. 35 : 20 -25).  The loss of life of Josiah was a great loss for Judah.
XXVII. Jehoahaz, the Seventeenth King of Judah (23 : 31 – 34)
Johoahez became king.  He ruled only three months (609 BC). He was removed by Pharaoh –  Nechoh when he returned from his battle at Charchemish, and was carried off to Egypt (2 Chro. 36 : 4).  He was wicked.
XXVIII. Jehoiakim, the Eighteenth king of Judah (23 : 34 – 24 : 6)
After removing Jehoahaz, Pharaoh – Nechoh placed Jehoiakim, on the throne of Judah.  Jehoiakim was another son of Josiah and a brother of Jehoahaz.  Pharah-nechoh taxed heavily on Judah.
Jehoiakim (Eliakim) was a wicked king.  Jehoakim killed Urijah, the prophet (Jer. 26 :20-23) and tried to kill Jeremiah (Jer. 26 : 24 ; 36 : 19, 26).  He ruled for eleven years (609 – 598 BC) (2 Chr. 36 : 1- 8).  During his period, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon came to Judah after he defeated Egyptian army in Charchemiah. Jehoiakim became a vassal king to Babylon for three years and surrendered to Babylon (605 BC).
Although Jehoiakim surrendered Nebuchadnezzar did not take him to Babylon, because Nebuchadnezzar rushed to Babylon to secure his throne after the death of his father.  However, Nebuchadnezzar took some captives in 605 BC.  This was the first deportation.  But Nebuchadnezzar made Jehoiakim as his servant in Judah.  This was his position for three years.  Then he rebelled against Babylon in 602 BC, by refusing to pay tribute.  To punish Jehoiakim, Nebuchadnezzar planned to attack Jerusalem again.  But, before his arrival Jehoiakim died in 598 BC.
XXIX. Jehoiachin, the Ninteenth Kingh of Judah ( 24 : 7 – 16)
After death of Jehoakim (at the end of  598 BC) his son Jehoiachin (Jeconiah) became king.  He ruled for three months (597 BC). At this time, Nebuchadnezzar came second time to Jerusalem to punish for the rebellion (of Jehoiakim in 602 BC).  Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem and took many captives including princes, the king and king’s family. This was the second deportation (597 BC).  Ezekiel, the prophet went captive in this second deportation.
Jehoiachin was in prison for 36 years.  Then in 37th year of his prison, Evilmarodach (Amel Marduk) became king at Babylon in 561 BC,  He released Jehoiachin from prison and allowed him to live in Babylon itself (25 : 27-30).
Note : Jeremiah was the prophet during this period of Jehoiachin.
XXX. Zedekiah, the twentieth ruler of Judah (24 : 17 – 25 : 21)
Zedekiah (Mattaniah) was appointed by Nebuchadnezzar to be his puppet king in Jerusalem.  This appointment came when he promised by an oath not to rebel against him (2 Chr. 36 : 13 ; Ezk. 17 : 11-21).   Zedekiah was the third son of Josiah to sit on the throne of Judah (other sons of Josiah on throne: Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim).  He ruled eleven years in Jerusalem.  However, Zedekiah broke his oath, he had given to Nebuchadnezzar and rebelled against him.  This was second rebellion done by Judah against Babylon, and got the support of  Egypt.  Jeremiah warned Zedekiah but he refused to listen for he believed the false prophet Hananiah. (Jer. 27 : 1 – 28: 17 ; 37 : 6-10).
Hence, Nebuchadnezzar came third time in 588 BC to Judah and besieged Jerusalem for a 2 years in order to punish for its rebellion.  At this time Egypt marched against Nebuchadnezzar.  So he lifted his besiege temporarily and attacked Egypt.  Judah thought Nebuchadnezzar would not come again.  But Jeremiah said Nebuchadnezzar would   come after dealing with Egypt.  The people of Judah did not believe Jeremiah (Jer. 37 : 6-10).
As Jeremiah said, Nebuchadnazzar came again and defeated and destroyed Jerusalem in 586 BC (25 : 3-7). This was the third attack of Babylon and they took some captives.  Nebuchadnezzar killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, then he plucked Zedekiah’s eyes and took him to Babylon.  So Zedikiah went to Babylon but he could not see Babylon.  This was an accurate fulfillment of prophecies of Jeremiah and Ezekiel (Jer. 34 : 3-7 ; Ezk. 12 : 12-13).
Nebuchadnezzar burned the city, important buildings including the temple.  The majority of people were deported to Babylon. This was the third deportation to Babylon (586 BC). Temple treasures were taken to Babylon.
XXXI. Gedeliah, the Governor of Judah (25 :22 – 26)
Nebuchadnezzar appointed Gedeliah as the Governor of Jerusalem to administer the poor people in Judah (Nebuchadnezzar freed Jeremiah from the prison in which Zedekiah imprisoned him).  Gedeliah set up his capital in Mispah, about 8 km. north west of Jerusalem.  Jeremiah went to Mispah to live with Gedeliah to support him in his ministry as a minister (Jer. 40 : 1- 6).
However, Gedeliah was killed after seven months by rebellious Ishmael.  Due to this murder of Gedeliah, people again feared that Babylon might come and punish them.  So they wanted to go to Egypt, when they asked Jeremiah about their plan to go to Egypt, Jeremiah said to them not to go to Egypt.  But they did not listen to him and went to Egypt.  Thus the whole land of Judah was emptied of all her people (Jer. 42 : 1 – 44 : 30).
          Note :  Since they did not keep the law especially Sabatical Years,     God   punished the people and land.
XXXII. The Release of Jehoiachin in Babylon (25 : 27 – 30)
Jehoiachin was released from prison after 36 years of imprisonment in Babylon by Evil-Marodach.  However, Jehoiachin was not allowed to come to Jerusalem.  He lived in Babylon as a freed man.
Note :  During the last years of Judah’s fall (597 – 586 BC) Jeremiah was the prophet of God in Jerusalem  when he saw the fall of Jerusalem, he lamented for it.  His lamentations are recorded in the book of Lamentations.
I and II Chronicles once existed as a single book but the Greek translation the Septuagint (150 BC) divided it into two books.  This book was placed last in the Hebrew Bible and it was for this reason that Christ (Lk. 11 : 51) spoke of all the martyrs from Abel (Gen. 4) to Zechariah (II Chr. 24).  The title of the book literally meant ‘the affairs of the days’.
Whereas the history books of Samuel and kings provide a political history of Israel and Judah, Chronicles concentrates on the religious history of Judah, centring especially upon the theme of the temple.
Authorship and Date
                   Although the author of the book was not recorded, Hebrew tradition and internal evidences indicate that Ezra penned this book around 450 – 420 BC.
Primary Readers of the Books
                   It was written for those repatriated Jews who had voluntarily emigrated from a fairly prosperous and comfortable lifestyle in Babylon and who were at that time living in and around Jerusalem.  They were busily engaged in building up the city of their fathers (Jerusalem) and were gradually re-establishing roots in their homeland.
The Purpose of the Books
  1. It was written to record the religious heritage of Judah for the sake of the repatriates who were basically ignorant of the history of the temple and forms of worship.
  1. It was written to record the line of David, which was to bringforth the Messiah.
  1. It was written to establish the significance of the temple as a symbol of unity of the nation.
The Values of the Books
                   Based on the purpose of these books, the following values which the books have:
  1. Historical Value : It brings out the history of Judah in relation to Davidic line.  It helps to establish the Messiah as rightful heir to the throne of David.
  1. Religious Value : It helps to understand the importance of temple and its role in uniting the nation.
  1. Scriptural Value : The books are accepted as inspired in the Canon of Old Testament.
  1. Theological Value : It helps to develop the theology of Old Testament, to understand God’s dealing with Israel and to reveal Jesus Christ as the Messiah of Israel in the line of David.
  1. Political Value : It helps us to know how the kings of Judah ruled and how their leadership helped the nation to be strong or affected the nation to be weak politically.
  1. Prophetical Value : It helps to understand the ministry of prophets in relation with their respective kings and the fulfillment of prophecies in Jerusalem (Judah).
  1. Moral Value : It helps us to understand the moral standard of Judah and to know how the nation was blessed for its high moral and spiritual values and how the nation was punished for its moral and spiritual failures of the leaders of Judah.
                   It records the history briefly from Adam to Abraham and elaborately from Abraham to David.  This book helps us to understand how the nation of Israel was formed from the call of Abraham and how the nation was established strongly and enlarged widely during the rule of David. Hence the book gives more concentrated and detailed account of David, his forefathers, his rule, his achievements, his preparations for the temple and his failures.  I Chronicle is a supplementary and roughly parallel to I and II Samuel.  However, it is by no means a repetition.  Rather, it is a look at the same period of   history from a totally unique point of view: a Divine view point rather than a human view point.
Note : A simple out line of I Chronicle is given below.  For more understanding you are asked to read both I and II Samuel along with II Chronicles in the Bible.
Outline of I Chronicles
  1. Genealogies from Adam to David (1 : 1 – 9 : 44)
  2. The Death of Saul (10 : 1 – 14)
  • The Accession of David (11 : 1 – 12 : 40)
  1. David and the Ark of God (13 : 1 – 17 : 27)
  2. David’s Wars (18 : 1 – 20 : 8)
  3. David’s Census and God’s Punishment ( 21 : 1 – 30)
  • David’s Preparation for the Temple (22 : 1 – 29 : 21)
  • The death of David (29 : 22 – 30)
                   II Chronicles records the history from Solomon to the fall of Jerusalem to Babylon.  It records how God was faithful in keeping his promise to David regarding the throne of David and how Judah was unfaithful to God in keeping the law of God.  As a result of its unfaithfulness, God punished Judah in order to purify the nation from its moral and spiritual corruption.  It records the history of Judah from 971 BC to 586 BC.
Note :  A simple outline of II Chronicles is given here. Fore more understanding read I and II Kings in the Bible along with II Chronicles.
Outline of II Chronicles
  1. Solomon, the fantastic King (1 : 1 – 9 : 31)
  2. Rehoboam, the Foolish King (10 : 1 – 12 : 16) (931 – 913 BC)
  • Abijah, the Fearless king (13 : 1 – 22) (913 – 911 BC)
  1. Asa, the faulty king (14 : 1 – 16 : 14) (911 – 870 BC)
  2. Jehoshaphat, the Fearing King (17 : 1 – 20 : 37) (873 – 848 BC)
  3. Jehoram, the Friendless King (21 : 1 – 20) (848 – 841 BC)
  • Ahaziah, the Foul-hearted King (22 : 1 – 9) (841 BC)
  • Athaliah, the Fanatic Queen (22 : 10 – 23 : 15) (841 – 835 BC)
  1. Joash, the forgetful king (23 : 16 – 24 : 27) (835 – 796 BC)
  2. Amaziah, the Fickle King (25 : 1 – 28) (796 – 767 BC)
  3. Azariah / Uzziah, the Forceful King (26 : 1 – 23) (790 – 739 BC)
  • Jotham, the Finest King (27 : 1 – 9) (750 – 731 BC)
  • Ahaz, the Filthy King (28 : 1 – 27) (731 – 715 BC)
  • Hezekiah, the Fruitful King (29 : 1 – 32 : 33) (715 – 686 BC)
  1. Manasseh, the Fiendish King (33 : 1 – 20) (695 – 642 BC)
  • Amon, the Foolhardy King (33 : 21 – 25) (642 – 640 BC)
  • Josiah, the Faithful King (34 : 1 – 35 : 27) (640 – 609 BC)
XVIII.Jehoahaz, the Forsaken King (36 : 1-4) (609 BC)
     XIX.  Jehoiakim, the Flippant King (36 : 5 – 8) (609 – 597 BC)
  1. Jehoiachin, the Feeble king (36 : 9 – 10) (597 BC)
     XXI.  Zadekiah, the Final King (36 : 11 – 23) (597 – 586 BC)
Historical Background of the Book
                   Since Judah was sinful before God, Jeremiah prophesied that Judah would go into captivity for seventy years   in Babylon. (Jer. 25 : 11-15).  As Jeremiah predicted Babylon destroyed Jerusalem and took captives to Babylon in 586 BC.  After 70 years of captivity in Babylon, the Jews returned from Babylon in three groups: First group of remnant returned from Babylon under the leadership of Zerubabbel  following the decree of Cyrus in 538 BC, and reached Jerusalem in 536 BC and built the temple; second group of remnant returned under the leadership of Ezra in 458 – 456 BC and led the revival in Judah; The third group of remnant returned under the leadership of Nehemiah who repaired the walls of Jerusalem.  During this period, Ezra wrote this book.
Authorship and Date
                   Ezra is the principle character of the book.  Ezra wrote this book about 450 BC.  The first six chapters record the events that happened about 65 – 85 years earlier (538 – 515 BC).  Chapters 7 – 10 record the events that occurred in his own life.
  1. Historically to relate the history of the Jews who returned from their seventy years of captivity in Babylon to Jerusalem including their subsequent rebuilding of the temple.
  1. Spiritually
  2. a) To reveal God’s overruling providence, regardless of human failure, to accomplish His own purpose with His chosen people.
  3. b) To reveal that years not dedicated to the Lord are costly (3 : 10 – 13).
Historical Summary of Political Events
  1. Rise and Fall of the Babylonian Empire.
  1. Nebuchadnezzar (605 – 562 BC). He was the general who besieged Jerusalem and took the first captives (Dan. 1 : 1, 10 ; 2 Chro. 36 : 6).  It was at this time (605 BC) that his father, Nabopolassar, died and Nebuchadnezzar  hurried home to assume the kingship of Babylon.  He was the great head of gold in Daniel’s image (Dan. 2 : 31 ff).
  1. Amel – Marduh (Evil Merodach; 562 – 560 BC; 2 Kings 24 : 27). He was the son of Nebuchadnezzar.
  1. Neriglissar (560 – 556 BC. Jer. 39 : 3 ; Nergal Sharezar). He was the son-in-law of Nebuchadnezzar who assassinated Amel – Marduck and usurped the throne of Babylon.
  1. Labashi – Mardik (556 BC). He was the son of Neriglissar, who ruled only a few weeks.
  1. Nebonidus (556 – 539 BC) was another son-in-law of Nebuchadnezzar whose mother worshipped the moon god in Haran. He was not well liked by the native Babylonians, because he neglected the Babylonian religion (Marduk).  In-fact, he pursued commercial interests southeast of Edom (Tiema) and developed trade routes between the Persian Gulf and Egypt.  It was during this time that he left his son, Belshazzar, in Babylon as “king-in-effect” (Dani. 5 : 1)
  1. Belshazzar (553 – 539 BC). He was the king-in effect in Babylon when it fell to Cyrus in 539 BC.  Daniel’s account indicates Belshazzar was a wicked and irresponsible king (Dan. 5 : 1 ff).
  1. Rise of the Medo-Persian Empire
  1. Median Kings
  1. Cyaxares (625 – 585 BC).  He liberated the Medes from the Barbarian Scythian people, conquered Ashur (614 BC), and extended the empire to India.Ecbatana was made his capital.
  1. Astyages (585 – 550 BC) A corrupt king who was extremely jealous of his position. His cruelty was exposed when he butchered and served as food the son of the palace steward, Harpagus.
  1. Persian Kings
(i) Cyrus, the Great (550 – 530 BC)
  1. He was the grandson of Astyages and became king of Anshan (559 BC). In 550 BC, he rebelled against his grandfather, Astyages and with the aid of Harpagus, the Astyages’ alienated general, defeated the Medes  and formed the dual Medo-Persian empire.  He then became “King of all Asia”.  He then proceeded to capture northern Mesopotamia and Syria, and Sardis (King Croessus).  Cyrus appointed Gubaru, Darius the Mede, as Satrap over the entire fortile crescent.  Daniel was one of their commissioners that Gubaru appointed as subordinates (Dan. 6).
  1. Cyrus’ armies entered Babylon on 12 October 539 BC, at which time Belshazzar was killed (Dan. 5 : 30).  Later 29 October 539 BC, Cyrus entered Babylon and was viewed as a liberator by the majority of the people.  This resulted in a new power in the near East, the Medo-Persians empire, providentially raised up by God to accomplish His purpose.
  1. ii) Cambyses-II (530 – 522 BC) – A son of Cyrus who defeated Egypt in 525BC.  He killed his brother, Smerdis, who was a threat to his position.  He committed suicide in 522 BC.
iii)     Pseudo – Smerdis (522 BC) –  An Egyptian who claimed and pretended to be the ture Smerdis. He usurped the throne.
  1. iv) Darius-I – (Hystaspes – 522 – 485 BC) – A distant cousin of Cambyses, who reunified the Persian Empire. He attempted to conquer Greece but was defeated at the battle of Marathan (490 BC). The Persian Empire reached its high point  under his reign.  He died in 486 BC preparing to invade Greece.
  1. Xerxes (485 – 464 BC) – The eldest son of Darius.  He dealt harshly with the Egyptian rebellion and placed his brother, Akhaimemesh, over it.  Xerxes is the Ahasuerus of Esther.  He built a double bridge across the Hellespot and invaded Greece to occupy Athens (480 BC).  However, later that year, he saw his navy defeated at the famed battle of Salamis.  The Persian kingdom deteriorated after his rule.
  1. Artexerxes-I (464 – 423 BC) – The son of Xerxes. He allowed Ezra to return (458 BC. Ezra 7 – 10).  He chose to entrust his military to generals and was content to enjoy palace luxury.
Chronological Representation for Ezra
 BC     605        597      586       539      538      536      520      515               458       444
                  1            2            3            4           5           6            7           8          9        10           11            
Notes :
  1. First deportation under Nebuchadnezzar
(605 BC; 2 Chro. 36 : 6; Dan. 1 : 1)
  1. Second deportation under Nebuchadnezzar
(597 BC ; 2 Kings 24 : 10 ff)
  1. Third deportation and distruction of Jerusalem
(586 BC, 2 Kings 25 : 1 – 21)
  1. Cyrus defeated Babylon and became the dominant power as the Medo – Persian Emperor (539 BC; Dan. 5)
  1. Cyrus’ decree to let the Jewish Captives return to their native land
(538 BC; Cyrus cylinder; Ezra 1 : 1)
The captives returned under the leadership of Zerubabbel (Ezra 2 :    1-2)
  1. Foundation completed for reconstruction of temple
(536 BC; Ezra 3 : 8-10)
Work was stopped on temple reconstruction when opposition came (Ezra 4)
  1. The ministries of Haggai and Zachariah began and the temple work resumed (520 BC; Ezra 5 : 1, Haggai, Zachariah)
  2. The temple completed (515 BC ; Ezra 6 : 15)
  3. The events of the book of Esther
  4. Ezra came to Jerusalem with second remnant and led the people in revival (458 – 456 BC ; Ezra 7 – 10)
  5. Nehmiah came to Jerusalem with a third remnant and completed the walls of the city. He also brought reformation to the people in Jerusalem (444 – 432 BC). Malachi Prophesies about the time of Nehemiah.
Outline of Ezra
  1. Characteristic of Ruling (1 : 1 – 2 : 70)
  2. Reconstruction of the Temple (3 : 1 – 6 : 22)
  3. Arrival of Ezra with remnants (7 : 1 – 8 : 36)
  4. Revival under Ezra’s leadership (9 : 1 – 10 : 44)
Study Notes
  1. Charcteristics of the Ruling (1 : 1 – 2 : 70)
          As Jeremiah predicted, Judah’ returned from its Babylon captivity after 70 years (Jer. 25 : 11-14 ; 29 : 11 – 12 ; Years 605 – 536).  The captivity came to the end when Cyrus, the Emperor made a decree for the return of the Jews in 538 BC.  The Emperor Cyrus was prophesied by the prophet Isaiah about 200 years ago. (Is. 44 : 28 – 45 : 5).  (This does not necessarily mean Cyurus was saved but Cyrus’ action were directed by God for His own divine purposes) (Pro. 21 : 1).
          Cyrus acted of his own free will not realizing he was fulfilling God’s plan.  The Cyrus Cylinder, a historical record of Cyrus’ accomplishment indicates that Cyrus allowed all captives to return to their home land not just the Jews.
          Based on Cyrus decree, the Jews returned from Babylon to Jerusalem. Under the leadership of Zerubabbel (1 : 11 – Sheshbazzar was the Babylonian name for Zerubabbel – Ezra 3 : 8 ; 5 : 2, 16 ; Zech. 4 : 9).  The name list of those returned from Babylon to Jerusalem is given in chapter 2 : 1 – 70.  This group of remnants was the First return of remnant.  Based on the decree of Cyrus in 538 BC, they returned to Jerusalem.
  1. Reconstruction of the Temple (3 : 1 – 6 : 22)
          The altar was immediately erected by a unified group of remnants (537 BC).  They offered sacrifices to God (3 : 1 – 7).  After celebrating their feast of Tabernacle, they began to rebuild the temple of Jerusalem.  The foundation of Temple was completed in 537 BC and officially closed the 70 years of Captivity (Jer. 25 : 11, 12).  The construction work was led by Zerubabbel and supervised by the Levites.
Note :  When they completed the work they sang praises unto God ( 3 : 9 – 13)
Note :  The original age for Levite service was 30 years (Num. 4 : 43) but David lowered this age to 20 years (1 Chro. 23 : 24).  Solomon’s temple had the aid of 24,000 Levities (1 Chro. 23 : 4) but only 341 returned from exile to help in the reconstruction (Ezra 2 : 40 – 42).
          The events recorded in chapters 4 – 6 occur between 535 – 515 BC.
Chapter 4 :  When the reconstruction works began, the Samaritans wanted to join in the work.  The Samaritans were mixed people group of Israel and Gentiles.  The Samaritans were anti-Jews in general.  Hence Zerubabbel did not include them in their work force.  So they tried to halt the work of the temple.  Through letters, the Samaritans and other opponents persuaded the Persian Kings to order a cessation of the Jewish work.  The King of Persia without verifying the history and the decree of Cyrus wrote a ready letter to Rehum, a government official in Jerusalem to stop the work of Temple.  As soon as they got king’s reply, they stopped the work (4 : 6 – 24).  The work was stopped for a few years (15 years).
Chapter 5 : Since reconstruction work of the temple close, God raised the prophets in Jerusalem to encourage the people to resume the work.  Haggai and Zachariah began to preach to the people and to motivate them to begin again the rebuilding of the temple. (Hag. 1 : 1, 13).  Haggai’s ministry began in 520 BC.  Within three weeks of his preaching; people began the Temple work again (Hag. 1 : 1, 14, 15).  This indicates the power of preaching God’s word (5 : 2). As it was earlier, the opponents wrote a letter to King Darius.
Chapter 6 : Since the opponents complained about the reconstruction works of the Temple, the King Darius verified the records of history and found the decree of Cyrus, the Great. Then records mentioned the permission granted by Cyrus to reconstruct the Temple.  Hence, Darius again wrote a letter to the Governor (Tatnai) not to stop the work of Temple in Jerusalem.  After receiving the reply from the king Darius, Tatnai obeyed to King (6 : 13).  So the Jews could complete the work of Temple.  The temple work was resumed in September 520 BC (5 : 2) and was completed on March 515 BC.  The Jews dedicated the temple for God.
6 : 22 –  King of Assyria does not really refer to the Assyrian king but to king of Persia, since favour came from Persia.  Perhaps ‘Assyria’ was proverbial term for foreign ruler or it refers to Darius, who was also ruler of Assyria.
  1. Arrival of Ezra with Remnants ( 7 : 1 – 8 : 36)
The events of chapter 7 happened about 57 years following the completition of the temple in 515 BC (Ezra 6).  So we understand that Ezra returned in 458 BC exactly after 57 years of Temple reconstruction.  Ezra returned when Artaxerxes was the king of Persia (464 – 423 BC).  The king Artaxarxes gave a letter to Ezra about his commission.  The king gave his offering to Ezra to offer in the temple for the King.
After receiving the letter of kings and the gifts of king and people, Ezra and his group of remnants fasted and prayed by the river of Ahava (8 : 15).  After 4 months of journey (900 miles), Ezra and his team of remnants reached Jerusalem.  Ezra was very good servant of God as a scribe.  Three qualities are mentioned about him as follows:
  • A desire to know God’s word.
  • A desire to obey God’s word.
  • A desire to teach God’s word ( 7 : 10, 11)
  1. Revival under Ezra’s Leadership (9 : 1 – 10 : 44)
          After several months of Ezra’s arrival, it was reported to him, that some Jews had intermarriage with gentiles. Intermarriage of God’s people with  ungoldly people was sin.  Hence, he prayed.  He comfessed the sins of people, although he did not personally commit such sin.  As a result, people confessed their sins. People gathered in 457 BC.  Ezra wanted purge the people from sin; many supported his effort, but only four men opposed (10 : 15).  Finally pagan wives were separated from the Jewish man, who were ignorantly married pagans (10 :18 – 19).  They offered trespass  offering as confessing their sin.
                   Nehemiah (Much of it is written in the first person. 1 : 1 – 7 ; 12 : 27 – 13 : 31).
Historical Background (Read the introductional sections of the books of Ezra and Esther)
                   Nehemiah was the cup – bearer to king Artaxerxes-I.  He was responsible to test the king’s wine to make sure it was free from poison.  He was also responsible for guarding the King’s quarters.  Because of the great responsibility of this position, only a man of wisdom and discretion was chosen to fill it.  Hence, the cupbearer, if he were faithfully devoted to the king, could greatly influence the king’s decisions.
                   Following Ezra’s revival (Ezra 9), the people attempted to rebuild the walls.  However, the Samaritans opposed this work, successfully hindered it and even destroyed what had been built (1 : 3; Ezra 4 : 23).
                   The pathetic situation in Jerusalem caused Nehemiah great mourning and with permission from Artaxerxes-I, he went to Jerusalem about twelve years after Ezra had journeyed then.
                   He can be characterized as a man of spiritual integrity.  He stood for  true spiritual principles and opposed wickedness, and for this was highly trusted and esteemed by king Artaxerxes-I.  His concern for the Jews was a godly heartfelt desire for the progress of God’s work (1 : 4 ff) not merely the protection and promotion of a race as Esther and Mordecai seemed to have.  He was convinced of the importance of trusting and following God, even amid severe opposition (4 : 20 ; 6 : 3, 9 ff).
Simple Outline of the Book Nehemiah
  1. Rebuilding the wall (1-6)
  2. Reinstructing the people (7-8)
  3. Revival of the people in Jerusalem (9-13)
Study Notes of Nehemiah
  1. Rebuilding the wall of Jerualem (1-6)
Nehemiah was cupbeared to the king Artaxerxes-I in the palace of Sushan (Sushan is in present day Iran).  Some Jews, probably Nehemiah’s own brethren reported him in 445 BC about the condition of walls in Jerusalem.  Nehemiah was so sorry on knowing the condition of Jerusalem.  Although the temple was rebuilt by Zerubabbel, the wall of the city was unrepaired.  In those days, a city with no walls or gates was really no city at all.  Hence Nehemiah was concened about its walls.  Out of his sorrow, he prayed to God (1 : 1 – 11).
God began to work through the king.  King Artaxerxes noticed the Sadness of Nehemiah, and asked him the reason.   When Nehemiah said about the condition of Jerusalem, the king granted him leave for short term, but later it was extended so Nehemiah stayed in Jerusalem for twelve years (5 : 14).  The king not only granted permission but also gave letter to Nehemiah.  Then Nehemiah journeyed and reached Jerusalem in 444 BC (Nehemiah arrived Jerusalem after 12 years of Ezra’s arrival).  With Nehemiah, the third group of remnant came to Jerusalem .  After arriving Jerusalem, Nehemiah surveyed the city and walls of Jerusalem.  Then he encouraged and called the people to rebuild the walls.  By hearing the news of rebuilding of walls, the enemies of Jews opposed the work.
Sanballat and Tobiah were the leaders of opponants (4 : 1 – 5). When they opposed also, Nehemiah did not yield to their pressure but continued the work of the wall with prayer.  Since the Jews did not stop the work, the enemies planned to attack the Jews, especially to kill Nehemiah.  Nehemiah prepared the Jews for battle.  So they were building the walls, and at the same time they were fully equipped with weapons to defend them, if their enemies attacked.  So the enemies could not succeed in their plan.
Not only Nehemiah faced problem from the enemies, but also he faced problem from their own Jews.  The poor Jews were oppressed by the rich Jews by charging high interest rate.  Hence, the poor Jews could not come for the work.  The work was delayed. When Nehemiah knew the reason, he assembled the wealthy and rebuked them.  They were speechless, realizing their sin.  Nehemiah showed his own example how he sacrificed his legal rights of having wealth for the sake of God’s work.  Then the riches agreed not to burden any more the poor Jews (5 : 10 – 13).  When the work resumed, the enemies again attempted a plot on Nehemiah’s life.  They also used a false prophet (Shemaiah).  But Nehemiah was wise enough to their deceitful ways and realized his presence in Jerusalem (6 : 1 – 14).  All their plots failed.  The reconstruction of wall of Jerusalem was completed. They constructed the walls with eight gates (3 : 1 – 32).
  1. Reinstructing the people (7 – 8)
Chapter 7 records how Nehemiah selected leaders who were responsible for protecting the walls.  He chose two men, who had demonstrated their dedication to God by their deeds.  Leadership should be delegated only to those who have proved themselves.  Chapter 8 records how people were instructed in the word of God by Ezra.This work was jointly done by both Ezra and Nehemiah after completion of the wall.  Ezra preached because he was the priest and scribe. When the scripture was read and explained, people cried.  Ezra encouraged them not to cry but to rejoice (8 : 10), because the walls are completed and because it was a holy day.  Due to the teaching of God’s word, there was a great revival among the people in Jerusalem.
  1. Revival of the People in Jerusalem (9 – 13)
Due to the reading and teaching of God’s word by Ezra, there was a great revival.  The people confessed their sins and failure (9 :1-38).  Moreover, people remembered God’s call and God’s covenant with Israel.  The people agreed to pay temple tax (10 : 31-33).  They made a covenant with God as following (10 : 28 – 31)
  • No marriages with the heathen
  • No commerse on the Sabath day
  • Observance of the seventh year.
Chapter 11 records how people were settled in Jerusalem in the city.  Their list is given in 11 : 1 – 12 : 22.  After settling the people, they dedicated the wall (12 : 27) and rejoiced.
Ezra and Nehemiah divided the people into two great companies.  Ezra led one group and Nehemiah the other (12 : 38 – 39).  Both groups then went around the city in opposite directions beginning at the southwest side of the city, and they met in the temple area where a great celebration was made.  Men were then appointed over the various services in the temple in order that the services might be maintained as they were in king David’s day (12 : 45, 46).  The joy of this celebration was heared at a great distance from the city (43).
Chapter 13 –  Nehemiah left Jerusalem to return to king Artaxerxes in 432 BC; after he had been governor of the city for twelve years (5 : 14 ; 13 : 6).  In his absence, he appointed his brother, Hanam and Hananiah, the ruler of the Palau (Fortress) to be in charge of Jerusalem (7 : 2).  He remained with the king Artaxerxes for a number of years, but then he once more obtained permission to return to Jerusalem before 423 BC, the year when Artaxerxes died.
When Nehemiah again returned (nearly 423 BC) from Persia, he found the city in a very backsliden state, even though he had been away for only a few years (9 years at most).
The people joined themselves with Ammonites and Moabites.  They were told to separate themselves from the pagans according to the law (Deut. 23 : 3 – 6).  When they heard this they separated themselves from all pagans. So, Nehemiah corrected this evil social system (13 : 1 – 3, 23 – 31).  Then Nehemiah went to the temple and found the things of Tobiah in the temple.  So, he immediately cast them out and cleansed the temple rooms.  Then he restored them to their rightful use.  This way, he corrected the spiritual system.
Then he found that many levites had left the temple service and worked in fields, because they did not get the portion of tithes.  Nehemiah corrected this problem by putting them back in the temple (v:10) and by appointing four faithful treasurers over the treasuries (v : 13). So that the levites might get their portion on time (13 : 23 – 31).
              Finally, Nehemiah prayed to God (v : 31.b).
Historical Background
              The events of this book occurred in the reign of Ahasuerus (485 – 464 BC).  The events themselves happened between 483 – 473 BC.  History has confirmed that this is the same person as Xerxes (For Further information on the other Persian kings, read the notes on Ezra).
Xerxes (485 – 464 BC)
              Xerxes was the eldest son of Darius.  He dealt harshly with the Egyptian rebellion and placed his brother Akhaimemesh over Egypt.  Xerxes is the Ahasuerus of Esther.  He built a double bridge across the Hellespot and invaded Greece to occupy  Athens (480 BC).  However, later that year, he saw his navy defeated at the famed battle of Salamis.  The Persian kingdom deteriorated rapidely after his rule.
BC 550
538 Zerubabbel retuned to Jerusalem
536 Temple Foundation laid
520 Hagtgai & Zechariah
515 Temple completed
Events of Esther (483 – 473 BC)
Xerxes (Ahasuerus)
458 Ezra retuned Jerusalem
446 Nehemiah returned Jerusalem
              Authorship is unknown.  But most likely a Jew who personally knew Ahasuerus.  The book apparently was written shortly after the close of Ahasuerus’ reign (10 : 2 – 3).  However, some believe, it was probably penned by Ezra.
              The all pervading theme of the book is the revelation of God’s providence, in all areas of life, to accomplish His purposes.  The writer was well aware of God’s sovereign control of all the events (4 :14).  As you study each event, remember these are not chance happening but God’s providential workings.
              Martin Luther denounced this book and did not want it included in the canon of scripture because it was too heathen and because God’s name was not mentioned in it.  Yet, this was the intended purpose of the author for we do not see God in our external daily lives, but He is invisibly present accomplishing His purpose.
  1. It demonstrates God’s providential working over His people even in the most trivial matters in order to accomplish His purposes.
  1. It relates an accurate historical account concerning the feast of purim. (9 : 26 – 32).
Outline of Esther
  1. The crowning of Esther (1 : 1 – 2 : 23)
  2. The condemnation and Plot against the Jews ( 3 : 1 – 4 : 17)
  • The Exaltation of Mordecai (5 : 1 – 6 : 14)
IV.The Humiliation of Haman (7 : 1 – 10)
  1. The Encouragement for the Jews (8 : 1 – 9 : 17)
  2. The Feast of Purim Established (9 : 18 – 10 : 3)
Study Notes on Esther
  1. The Crowning of Esther (1 : 1 – 2 : 23)
          Ahasuerus, the king of Persia arranged a feast for his officers. This feast lasted for 7 days when the king arranged feast the queen Vashti arranged feast for ladies.  On the seventy day, the king wanted to show his queen to his officers.  So he called Vasti.  But Vasti refused to come to the public, probably either fearing degradation or unwillingness to display her beauty to others except her husband. Her refusal to obey the king brought anger to king because he was inebriated with wine.  The king demoted Vasthi from being the queen.
Note :  It is important to know that the king did not divorced her but disqualified and demoted from being the queen of Persia. 
After demoting, Vasthi, the process of selecting the new queen began.  After a long process for four years, Esther was chosen as the new queen of Persia in 479/478 BC.  (Esther’s Hebrew name was Hadassah meaning “myrtle”).  She did not reveal her nationality to anyone as instructed by Mordecai; her uncle.
                   After Esther became the queen, Mordecai used to visit the palace sometimes.  In one of such visits, he came to know a plot to kill the king Ahasuerus.  Mordecai reported this plot to Esther.  In enquiry, the report was proven, and the plotters were punished by the king.  However, the king did not honour Mordecai at that time.
  1. The Condemnation and Plot against the Jews (3 : 1 – 4 : 17)
          The events of these chapter occurred in 474 BC, four year after Esther’s coronation.  Haman was promoted to a high position.  Hence, every servants of king paid homage to him.  But Mordecai refused to do so.  It is not clear why he refused to bow down before Haman.  Probably, Mordecai refused to bow down before Haman due to either He did not want to bow down before a man as Daniel’s friends had refused to worship the image of Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 3) or he knew already Haman’s hatred towards the Jews or He doubted Haman was a secret conspirator against the king in the previous plot (Esther 2 : 19 – 23).
          Mordecai’s refusal to bow down before him brought a great anger in Haman.  In order to revenge Mordecai, Haman wanted to kill all the Jews in Persia. He also got the permission of the King with the promise that he would pay a great amount to king’s treasury.
          By hearing this conspiracy, there was a great trouble among the Jews.  Mordecai also greatly mourned because  of Haman’s decree.  By seeing, Mordecai’s mourning condition, Esther asked the reason.   Mordecai explained everything and asked for her help.  He also warned her, if  she refused to help the Jews, the help might come from other source (Probably he meant the source was God).  Esther promised her help.  However, she asked the Jews to fast and she also fasted for three days.
  • The Exaltation of Mordecai ( 5 : 1 – 6 : 14)
          After three days, Esther went to the court. The king accepted her and her request.  So, she arranged a feast and invitied Haman.  He was happy.  But he was unhappy to see Mordecai not respecting him. He consulted with his wife.  According to her counsel he arranged a gallows to hang Mordecai.
          Invisible God overruled and stirred king’s heart to verify the records.  He found that Mordecai was not rewarded for informing the plot against the king.  So, he planned to reward Mordecai. But Haman assumed that king  was  going to reward him (Pro. 11 : 2 ; 16 : 18 ; 18 : 12).  Apparently, Ahasuerus knew nothing of the hatred Haman had for Mordacai.  The king ordered to honour Mordecai.  Haman was shameful.
  1. The Humiliation of Haman (7 : 1 – 10)
          Again Haman sought counsel of his wife and friends.  But, it was no use.   At this time Esther arranged her second banquet.  In this banquet, Esther exposed Haman’s evil plans against the Jews.  So the king punished Haman.
  1. The Encouragement to the Jews (8 : 1 – 9 : 32)
          The king gave the properties of Haman to Esther. Then king permitted Mordecai to write a counter decree so that the Jews would be protected from the previous decree which Haman wrote.  By this second decree the Jews were providentially delivered.  So, all the Jews feasted for their deliverance.
  1. The Feast of Purim Established (9 : 17 – 10 : 3)
          The feast was called Purim,  after pur-the casting of lots.   The date of the Jews destruction had been determined by casting lots (3 : 7) but was divinely overruled by the sovereign God.  The feast is still celebrated by the faithful Jews today in Israel.
                   Although God’s name is not mentioned in this book of Esther, God providentially preserved his people.  Invisible God invisibly worked on delivering his people to work out his sovereign purpose.
Students Assignment
  1. Write the historical background and Date of the book of Joshua.
  2. Write the historical background of the book of Judges.
  3. Write the historical background of Ruth.
  4. Write the historical background of the book of First Samuel.
  5. Write the authorship and date of Second Samuel.
  6. Write the historical background of First Kings.
  7. Write the historical background of Second Kings.
  8. Write the historical background of Ezra.
  9. Write the historical background of Nehemiah.
  10. Write the historical background of Esther.
Note : Send your assignment to the Director, CALS.  Please write your name and Register Number on your assignment papers.