The Motif of God’s Wrath in the Historiography of the Books of Kings
The motive of God’s wrath is crucial to understanding the historiography of the Books of Kings, especially the tragic end of Israel and Judah. In narrating the story about the post-Davidic monarchy, the biblical author shows how the wrath of YHWH brings about, first, the division of Solomon’s Kingdom (1Kings 11:9-13), and then the fall of the Northern Kingdom (2Kings 17:5-23), and of Jerusalem and Judah (2Kings 24–25). The theological interpretation of history in 1–2Kings relies on the interconnected paradigms of “crime and punishment” and “prophecy and fulfillment”. The strict link between the wrath of YHWH and the people's unfaithfulness to His covenant according to the principle of retribution completes the historiographical picture of 1–2Kings. In this manner the author of 1–2Kings interprets the tragic end of the monarchies of Israel and Judah as the result of a just God’s wrath, in response to the people’s sin of idolatry and abandonment of YHWH. By this logic, the motive of God’s wrath is used in 1–2Kings to rationalize the national tragedies and to defend God against any charges of injustice. This theological view of history, depicted in such a way, serves as a lesson and a warning to the post-exilic addressees of these scriptures.
Books of Kings; wrath of God; theology of history
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