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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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This word does not always imply the same degree of power, nor the same degree of importance; nor does it imply the magnitude of the dominion or territory of these officers. In Scripture many persons are called kings, whom we should rather denominate chiefs or leaders; and many single towns, or, at most, together with their adjacent villages, are said to have had kings. Not aware of this lower sense of the word king, or unwilling to adopt it, many persons have been embarrassed by the following passage: "Moses commanded us a law,—he was king in Jeshurun," Deuteronomy 33:4-5 , or king among the Israelites; that is, he was the principal among the assembly of the superiors of the Israelites. Some refer this to Jehovah. Moses was the chief, the leader, the guide of his people, fulfilling the duties of a king; but he was not king in the same sense as David or Solomon was afterward. This remark reconciles the following observation: "These kings reigned in Edom, before there reigned any king over the children of Israel," Genesis 36:31 ; for Moses, though he was king in an inferior sense, did not reign, in the stronger sense, over the children of Israel, their constitution not being monarchical under him. Beside, we find in Joshua, that almost every town in Canaan had its king; and we know that the territories of these towns must have been very inconsiderable, Joshua 12:9-24 . Adonizedek, himself no very powerful king, mentions seventy kings whom he had subdued and mutilated.

KINGS, BOOKS OF. The first book of Kings commences with an account of the death of David, and contains a period of a hundred and twenty-six years, to the death of Jehoshaphat; and the second book of Kings continues the history of the kings of Israel and Judah through a period of three hundred years, to the destruction of the city and temple of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. These two books formed only one in the Hebrew canon, and they were probably compiled by Ezra from the records which were regularly kept, both in Jerusalem and Samaria, of all public transactions. These records appear to have been made by the contemporary prophets, and frequently derived their names from the kings whose history they contained. They are mentioned in many parts of Scripture; thus 1 Kings 11:41 , we read of the book of the Acts of Solomon, which is supposed to have been written by Nathan, Ahijah, and Iddo, 2 Chronicles 9:29 . We elsewhere read that Shemaiah the prophet, and Iddo the seer, wrote the Acts of Rehoboam, 2 Chronicles 12:15 ; that Jehu wrote the Acts of Jehoshaphat, 2 Chronicles 20:34 ; and Isaiah those of Uzziah and Hezekiah, 2 Chronicles 26:22 ; 2 Chronicles 32:32 . We may therefore conclude, that from these public records, and other authentic documents, were composed the two books of Kings; and the uniformity of their style favours the opinion of their being put into their present shape by the same person.

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Kings'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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