Study Guide

2 Kings Summary

2 Kings Summary

2 Kings begins just where 1 Kings left off: Ahab is dead, and his house and his queen, Jezebel, are awaiting their destruction—which has been delayed for the present (although Ahab's son Ahaziah dies after falling through a lattice). Meanwhile, Elijah hands off the mantle of his prophetic role to Elisha, before departing for heaven in a whirlwind and a chariot made of fire.

Elisha launches a successful prophetic career, similar to that of his master. He brings a child back to life, makes iron float, magically purifies poisonous food, kills a pack of irritating children by sending bears after them—you know, normal prophet stuff. He also helps save Israel from the Aramean army, temporarily blinding them and then treating them to a feast before releasing them (aw—sweet, right?). He also helps end a famine that has been inflicting Samaria.

However, cool as the prophets are at this time, Israel and Judah both need to deal with a number of horrible kings—Jehoram and Ahaziah being but a couple of the culprits. Jehu, a soldier ordered to rebel by God, ends up dispatching both those guys. He also finishes Jezebel off: her eunuchs chuck her out a window, and then dogs eat her corpse (ew). But Jehu himself is an imperfect king of Israel, continuing to follow the "sins of Jeroboam" from 1 Kings. Judah gets a rather better king, Joash, to whom Elisha gives sage advice, and who helps vanquish some more of Judah's enemies.

The Beginning of the End? Or the End of the Beginning… Of the End… Of the Beginning?

Eventually, Assyria destroys the northern kingdom of Israel. Thanks to the persistence of Jeroboam's sins and other idolatries, the ten tribes are being scattered and moved to other places. Assyria attempts to destroy Judah as well, but thanks to God's intervention, the Assyrian army is slaughtered by an angel before they can enter Jerusalem. The righteous king, Hezekiah—who is supposed to be one of Judah's very best rulers—survives. Thanks again to God's help, he manages to tack another fifteen years onto his life and reign on after nearly dying.

Yet, again, bad follows good, and the wicked king Manasseh starts doing all sorts of idolatrous things again like sacrificing some of his own children in fire (presumably to Moloch). Despite the best efforts of the super-good teen king, Josiah, God's wrath is kindled against Judah. Whereas the Assyrians had crushed Israel, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon invades Judah as the story ends, destroying the country and sending the majority of people into exile in Babylon. Bad times.

  • Chapter 1

    Gettin' Toasty

    • With Ahab dead, his son Ahaziah starts to reign. However, he falls through the lattice in one of the upper rooms of his palace and gets seriously injured.
    • He sends messengers to ask the god Baal-zebub (or Beelzebub, the "Lord of the Flies") if he's going to live. But the messengers run into Elijah, who tells them there's no point in asking Baal-zebub when God has already proclaimed that Ahaziah will die.
    • Based on the messengers' description, the king knows it was Elijah who told them this. He sends fifty soldiers to apprehend or kill him. However, God kills all of them with a blast of fire from heaven.
    • Again, Ahaziah sends another group of fifty soldiers, but the same thing happens, with Elijah calling down fire from heaven.

    The Flame War Cools Down

    • Ahaziah sends another fifty soldiers, but when their captain begs to spare their lives this time, God tells Elijah to go along, promising to protect him.
    • Elijah goes with the soldiers to Ahaziah and repeats his prediction of imminent death, chiding him for consulting Baal-zebub instead of God.
    • And, guess what? Ahaziah dies, fulfilling Elijah's prophecy. His son, Joram, takes the throne.
  • Chapter 2

    Two Scoops of Spirit

    • God has decided to bring Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind. He tells his future successor and disciple, Elisha, that God is sending him to Bethel, and Elisha insists on coming along.
    • They meet a company of prophets in Bethel, who know that Elijah is going to be taken by God. After Elisha insists on going further, they meet a company of prophets in Jericho who predict the same thing.
    • Finally, they come to the Jordan with fifty men from the company of prophets. Elijah, like Moses, parts the river with his staff and passes over to the other side with Elisha.
    • Elisha asks Elijah for a double-share of his spirit. Elijah says this is tough, but if Elisha can see him going up to heaven, he'll receive the double-share.
    • The whirlwind comes down and a chariot of fire with horses of fire appears.
    • Elisha sees him ascend and then takes off his own clothes, tearing them in two. He puts on Elijah's cloak, which had fallen off (indicating he's the successor).
    • He takes his staff and parts the Jordan, demonstrating he's received his double-share of Elijah's spirit. Then he crosses back.

    No, Yogi—That's Not a Picnic Basket!

    • The other prophets see that Elijah's spirit is now in Elisha. They want to know if they can look for Elijah, thinking the whirlwind set him down elsewhere. Elisha says it's pointless, but they insist. So he says go ahead.
    • Later they return and Elisha—in an "I told you so" moment—says he told them they wouldn't find anything.
    • Elisha travels to a city where the people say the water is bad and impure. Elisha pours some salt in the town spring, saying God has healed it. From that day on, it's pure, Dasani-style water.
    • In a less benevolent miracle, Elisha encounters a crowd of boys who call him a "Baldhead" and mock him. He calls down a curse from God, and two she-bears come and maul and kill forty-two of the boys. Eesh.
    • Elisha continues on to Samaria by way of Mount Carmel.
  • Chapter 3

    A Little Mood Music, Thanks

    • Ahab's son, Joram, becomes the new king of Israel. He's still doing wicked deeds, following Jeroboam's sins, but he gets rid of the sacred stone to Baal his father had made.
    • The king of Moab gets tired of paying tribute (in the form of sheep) to Joram, so he revolts.
    • The king of Judah, Jehoshaphat, agrees to help Joram put down the rebellion.
    • They lead their joint-army through the desert of Moab, but run out of food and water.
    • Jehoshaphat asks if there are any prophets around these parts, and Joram says that Elisha's somewhere nearby. So they go pay him a visit.
    • Annoyed, Elisha tells Joram to go ask the pagan prophets about his parents, but Joram says no.
    • Elisha agrees to give advice but only, he says, because he respects Jehoshaphat.
    • He asks a harpist to come in and play. As the harpist plays, Elisha prophesies. Speaking through Elisha, God says that he'll fill the land with water in pools, so they and their animals can drink.
    • Then, he'll let them totally put down Moab's rebellion, destroying every major town and fort.

    Blood in the Water

    • In the morning, the land is filled with pools of water. The Moabites see the sun reflecting off the pools in the color of blood and they think the armies of Judah and Israel fought and killed each other in the night.
    • The Moabites attack, but are defeated when the Israelites get up, kill everybody, and ravage Moab. They also throw stones on the fields to cover and ruin them.
    • However, in a last-ditch attempt to save himself, the king of Moab sacrifices his first-born son on the wall of his city.
    • This causes either the wrath of the god Chemosh, or a kind of disgust and outrage, to infect the Israelites. They return back to their own lands.
  • Chapter 4

    Artisanal Olive Oil

    • The widow of a prophet is dealing with her husband's creditors, who are trying to take her children into slavery.
    • Elisha agrees to help her pay them off. She has nothing but a jar of olive oil, so Elisha tells her to collect many jars from her neighbors and keep filling them from the one, small jar.
    • Miraculously, she's able to fill a ton of jars. She pays off her debts and also lives off the profits with her children.

    Operation: Dead Kid

    • When Elisha travels through the land of Shunem, a woman helps feed and lodge him whenever he stops by.
    • She and her husband make a room especially for him. This pleases Elisha, so he decides to do something for the Shunnamite woman.
    • He tells his servant Gehazi to call her and he makes his offer of help. She says that she's never had a child. Elisha promises she'll have a son within a year (boom—just like that).
    • She does. Still, after the child grows up a bit, he gets a strange headache and then drops dead.
    • The Shunnamite woman lays the child on the bed that Elisha normally sleeps in and then goes to find Elisha.
    • God hides what's wrong from Elisha. He isn't sure what's going on, until the woman comes and grabs his feet begging him to bring her son back to life.
    • Elisha sends Gehazi on ahead to lay Elisha's staff on the boy's face, but this has no effect.
    • When Elisha arrives, he uses some sort of magical method of restoring the boy to life, lying on his body and matching up his eyes, mouth, and hands with the boy's. This brings the boy back to life. He wakes and sneezes seven times.
    • The woman bows to Elisha in gratitude and takes her son out of the room.

    When Gourds Go Bad

    • In the midst of a famine, Elisha goes to Gilgal and tells his servant to cook some food for the prophets there.
    • But one of the prophets accidentally picks some poisonous gourds to put in the stew.
    • When the prophets start to eat it, they yell out that it's poisonous. Elisha drops some flour in the pot, which magically removes the poison—and apparently even the people who already started eating are okay.
    • In another miracle, a man brings twenty loaves of bread to Elisha. Elisha says to feed it to the people. The man is baffled, but it manages to feed over a hundred people anyway. There's even some left over.
  • Chapter 5

    Prophetic Dermatology

    • A man named Naaman is the valiant commander of the King of Aram's army. God helps him in his victories and he's a good dude. One catch: he has leprosy.
    • A young Israelite woman who serves his wife tells Naaman that he should go find the prophet who lives in Samaria (Elisha) who can help him with his leprosy.
    • The King of Aram gives him permission to go find Elisha, sending along a letter to the King of Israel telling him what Naaman is doing in traveling through his country.
    • So Naaman leaves, bearing gifts for Elisha.
    • The King of Israel gets upset, thinking the King of Aram expects him to be responsible for curing Naaman. But Elisha tells the King of Israel to calm down—he'll help Naaman.

    The Ol' Seven Dip Cure

    • Elisha doesn't meet Naaman personally, but he sends messengers to tell him to dip himself in the Jordan seven times and he'll be healed.
    • At first, Naaman is annoyed. He says he wanted Elisha to come personally and wave his hands over him while calling on God, thus curing the leprosy. He also says that he doesn't understand why he needs to go in the Jordan when the water of other rivers is the same.
    • He walks away in a rage, but his servants follow, telling him he should take Elisha's advice. They talk sense, saying that what Elisha asked was a very easy thing.
    • So Naaman dips himself in the Jordan seven times and is healed completely.
    • He goes to Elisha and says that he now realizes that there is no god but God. He tries to offer Elisha a gift, but the prophet refuses.
    • Naaman says he'll worship no other gods from now on, but asks Elisha if it's okay if he still bows down in the temple of Rimmon when the King of Aram bows. Elisha says that God will forgive him for this.

    Con Man

    • However Gehazi (Elisha's servant) runs after Naaman and lies, telling him that Elisha said he wants two sets of clothes and a talent of silver for two prophets who just arrived.
    • Naaman gives him all that and an extra talent of silver.
    • But when Gehazi returns, Elisha says that he traveled with him in spirit and saw what he did.
    • Elisha says that Naaman's leprosy will now cling to Gehazi and his descendants from now on.
    • Sure enough, when Gehazi steps outside, his skin is now leprous (yipes).
  • Chapter 6

    Extreme Makeover: Prophetic Edition

    • The company of prophets tells Elisha they feel a bit cramped and would like a bigger place to live in. They want to gather logs at the Jordan to build new lodgings, and Elisha says "Go ahead."
    • So, they go and start chopping down trees, when one of the prophets accidentally drops his iron axe in the river. He feels bad because he borrowed the axe.
    • Elisha miraculously throws a stick in the river, which causes the iron axe to float back up to the surface.

    Blinded by the Light

    • The Arameans are at war with Israel. The King of Aram decides to set his camp at a certain place where he can ambush the Israelites.
    • Elisha prophetically warns the King of Israel not to pass by that place, successfully saving them. Then, he pulls the same prophetic miracle again.
    • The King of Aram asks his soldiers if one of them is a traitor, but they tell him that it must be the prophet Elisha.
    • So the King of Aram sends a huge army to track down Elisha. It surrounds the city where Elisha is staying.
    • When Elisha's servant gets up in the morning, he's terrified by the sight of the Aramean army. But Elisha tells him that they (Elisha and the servant) have more allies on their side.
    • Elisha asks God to open the servant's eyes and the servant suddenly sees that, on the mountain surrounding them, the fiery chariots and horses of the divine army are arrayed in massive numbers.
    • As the Arameans attempt to attack him, Elisha asks God to strike them blind. He does.
    • Elisha pretends to help them and leads the blind army to Samaria and to the King of Israel. When he restores their vision they realize where they are.
    • The King of Israel asks Elisha if he should kill them, but Elisha says no, that wouldn't be fair.
    • So they treat the Arameans to a great feast and then… let them go.

    Roasted Child, with a Side of Hashbrowns

    • King Ben Hadad of Aram launches a siege against Samaria, causing a famine.
    • As the King of Israel walks on the city wall, a woman cries out to him for aid. He says he can't help her, but asks what's wrong. The woman says that the famine has gotten so bad that she and a neighbor woman have eaten their own sons together.
    • The King of Israel tears his clothes and—somewhat irrationally—sends a man to find and kill Elisha.
    • Meanwhile, Elisha is sitting in a house with the city's elders. He tells them that an assassin is coming to kill him and they should shut the doors.
    • However, the king arrives before the assassin and starts asking Elisha why he should keep trusting in God and hoping things will turn out alright.
  • Chapter 7

    Discount Special on Barley

    • Elisha says that, by this time tomorrow, barley and meal will be sold for cheap prices at the city gates.
    • The King's captain asks Elisha how that could happen even if God created windows in the sky to drop food through. Elisha says it will, and the captain will see it, but won't eat from it.

    Trampled Underfoot 

    • Meanwhile, four leprous men sitting at the city walls decide they've got nothing to lose. They're going to try to eat at the Aramean camp, figuring that the worst that could happen is that they die and don't have to starve anymore.
    • But when they arrive at the Aramean camp, they discover that everyone's gone. God created an illusion, convincing the Arameans that they heard a great army coming to attack. So they ran away in terror.
    • The leprous men eat, drink, and take treasure from the Aramean camp. But they feel guilty for not telling everyone else. They decide to go back and tell everyone in the city.
    • The King believes the leprous men but thinks the Arameans are trying to trick him by pretending to abandon their camp. So he sends out to mounted scouts to determine what's going on.
    • The scouts head out and find the trail of debris the Arameans left as they fled.
    • So the people of the city all run out and loot the Aramean camp, selling grain for the prices Elisha had predicted.
    • However, the captain is trampled to death by a crowd of people running out in excitement—fulfilling Elisha's other prediction.
  • Chapter 8

    A Crazy Coincidence

    • Earlier in time, Elisha had advised his friend the Shunnamite woman (whose child he had resurrected from the dead) to escape the famine before it happened, to move to another place.
    • After seven years, the woman moves back to try to regain her home and land.
    • At the same time, Gehazi is telling the King of Israel (at his request) about the great things Elisha has done.
    • In the moment that he's describing how Elisha brought the Shunnamite woman's child back from the dead, she and the child walk into the king's court.
    • Gehazi is stunned and tells the king that these are the same people. The king, amazed, orders that the woman have all of her land and property restored to her.

    Elisha Gets Weepy

    • King Ben-Hadad is on his deathbed. He sends a man named Hazael to go ask Elisha if he'll recover.
    • Hazael brings gifts to Elisha and asks him the question. Elisha tells Hazael to tell the king that he'll recover, but says that he knows he won't.
    • Elisha stares at Hazael until Hazael feels ashamed. Then Elisha starts to weep.
    • When Hazael asks him why he's crying, Elisha says it's because he knows the horrible things Hazael will do to Israel when he becomes the ruler: killing young men and babies and pregnant women, burning their fortresses, and so on.
    • Hazael pretends that he isn't capable of this, but Elisha says that God has shown him that he'll be the new king of Aram.
    • Hazael returns to Aram and tells the king that he'll recover. But the next day, he dips the king's bedcover in water and smothers him with it until he dies.

    Just a Flesh Wound

    • Five years into King Joram's reign in Israel, Jehoshaphat's son Jehoram becomes the new king of Judah. He begins ruling at age 32 and rules for eight years.
    • He's married to Ahab's daughter and hence becomes a bad king. But God is still merciful towards Judah, because of his love for David.
    • During his reign, he has to deal with revolts by Edom and Libnah. The narrator of the story says the revolt of the Edomites still continues in his time.
    • After his death, his son Ahaziah succeeds him. He only rules for one year and begins when he's 22 years old. He's also a wicked king, given that he's Ahab's son-in-law.
    • He and the king of Israel, Ahab's son Joram, fight against Hazael (now the King of Aram). Joram gets wounded. Ahaziah visits him while he's recovering.
  • Chapter 9

    Secret Coronation

    • Elisha sends a member of the company of prophets to go find Jehoshaphat's son, Jehu. He's to secretly anoint Jehu with oil as the king of Israel, then flee.
    • The young prophet finds the commanders of the Israelite army and takes Jehu aside. He gives him the task of rebelling against Ahab's family and annihilating the entire house of Ahab, in addition to finally killing Jezebel.
    • When Jehu returns to the other commanders, he at first pretends the prophet was just some madman. But they make him tell them the truth, and he admits the prophet proclaimed him the new king.
    • The other commanders spread their cloaks on the ground for Jehu and blow a trumpet, agreeing that he's the true king.

    Treason for a Reason

    • Joram is recovering from his wounds in Jezreel, with Ahaziah present. Jehu begins to ride to Jezreel in secret.
    • Sentinels keep coming out when they see Jehu nearing the city, but Jehu gets them to join him.
    • Based on the mad way he's driving, the last sentinel tells Joram it appears to be Jehu.
    • Joram goes to confront Jehu in a chariot at the property of a guy named Naboth the Jezreelite.
    • Joram asks him if he wishes for peace, but Jehu says peace is meaningless as long as Jezebel continues her sorceries.
    • Joram yells "Treason!" and tries to drive away, but Jehu shoots him dead with an arrow through the back of his heart.
    • They take Joram's body and throw it out on Naboth's property, in accordance with an earlier prophecy made by God.
    • They also kill Ahaziah, shooting him with an arrow as he flees in a chariot. Ahaziah's men carry him back to be buried with his ancestors in Judah.

    High Class Alpo

    • When Jehu arrives at Jezreel, Jezebel paints her eyes and adorns her head and looks at her window.
    • She asks him if he intends peace (apparently pretty sure he doesn't). Jehu urges her eunuchs to help him. They throw her out the window, killing her.
    • Her blood splatters on the wall and Jehu's horses trample her.
    • Jehu goes into her house and eats and drinks. Then he orders his servants to bury her—but it turns out that dogs have already eaten every part of her except for her skull, feet, and the palms of her hands.
    • This fulfills the prophecy that Elijah had made in 1 Kings about the death of Jezebel.
  • Chapter 10

    Jehu's Killing Spree Continues

    • Jehu continues with his divinely-commissioned-yet-bloody work.
    • He writes letters to the people who attend Ahab's seventy remaining sons, telling them to fight for their masters.
    • But these officials and attendants have seen what Jehu has already done, so they say they'll concede to his orders.
    • Jehu tells them to kill Ahab's sons and bring their heads to him and Jezreel.
    • They comply, and Jehu tells the people that they remain innocent. It was Jehu who, fulfilling God's orders, committed rebellion and destroyed his master's house.
    • He proceeds to kill all of Ahab's remaining relatives, associates, leaders, and priests—utterly eliminating Ahab's house.
    • On the way to Samaria, Jehu meets forty-two of Ahaziah's relatives and has them all captured and slaughtered.
    • Jehu also teams up with another commander named Jehonadab to kill the remainder of Ahab's people in Samaria.

    Baal Falls

    • Jehu tells the people that Ahab has served Baal, but Jehu will serve him even better. He orders them to assemble all the priests and prophets and worshippers of Baal, saying that whoever is missing will die.
    • (But psst—he's secretly planning on massacring all the devotees of Baal.)
    • All the Baal fans gather together in Baal's temple. Jehu has them make sure that none of the worshippers of God are among them.
    • After he officiates over a few burnt sacrifices to Baal (just for show), he has eighty of his men come in and slaughter every worshipper of Baal. They then destroy the pillar of Baal and the temple itself, turning it into a latrine that would remain into the narrator's lifetime.

    Well, Nobody's Perfect

    • However, despite Jehu's righteousness in committing all of these, uh, mass murders, he doesn't fully walk-the-walk. He persists in the sins of Jeroboam, getting involved with golden calves and such.
    • Despite this, God still rewards him and promises him that his descendants will remain on the throne for another four generations.
    • Israel continues to deal with outside threats, which trim territory away from it. Hazael and the Arameans manage to take over territory from the Jordan eastward (places like Gilead and Bashan).
    • Jehu rules over Israel for twenty-eight years and then dies. His son Jehoahaz takes over.
  • Chapter 11

    Bringing Up Baby

    • When Ahaziah's mom Athaliah finds out that he's dead, she orders a killing spree of the rest of the royal family so that she'll be the only one with power.
    • Fortunately, the daughter of King Joram, Jehosheba, manages to hide Ahaziah's son Joash, saving him from the massacre of the other royal children.
    • Little Joash and his nurse survive the six-year reign of Athaliah in hiding.
    • In the seventh year, the priest Jehoiada summons a group of soldiers and has them make an oath in the Lord's Temple, swearing to defend Joash and divvying up their guard duties so that the child will have a permanent guard.
    • Jehoiada commands them to kill anyone who tries to break their ranks.
    • They do everything he tells them to do. Jehoiada provides them with swords and shields that once belonged to David.
    • Jehoiada anoints Joash king, crowning him, and the soldiers cheer.

    Outside

    • Athaliah sneaks into the temple and sees Joash being made king and the people rejoicing. She cries out "Treason!" and tears her clothes.
    • Jehoiada tells the soldiers to capture her and kill anyone who tries to follow her—but he doesn't want Athaliah killed in the temple.
    • So they drag her outside and kill her at the horses' entrance to the king's house.
    • Jehoiada makes a covenant between Joash and all the people to only be the Lord's, from now on.
    • So they go out and destroy Baal's temple and kill the head priest, Mattan.
    • Jehoiada has some soldiers guard God's temple. Some other soldiers and the people head to the king's house and Joash takes his place on the throne.
    • Everyone celebrates. Joash (also called Jehoash) is seven when he starts his reign.
  • Chapter 12

    Home Improvement

    • Joash starts reigning seven years into Jehu's reign and continues for forty years. He ends up being one of the somewhat rare good kings, since Jehoiada guides him.
    • However, he still doesn't end worship at the high places—which the narrator thinks needs to go.
    • Joash orders the priests to use the donations they collect at the Temple to make repairs on it.
    • By the twenty-third year of Joash's reign, they still haven't made repairs. So Joash tells them not to collect any more donations until they've made the repairs.
    • But the priests agree not to take donations or make the repairs.
    • Yet, Jehoiada takes a chest and puts a hole in it and sets it by the altar as a collection box.
    • When it fills up with money, the priests use it to finally repair the temple. They give it to carpenters, masons, stonecutters, and also use it to by wood and stone.
    • But they don't make any vessels of gold or anything like that for the Temple. The money that would've been used for that is used to help pay the workers.
    • The whole process goes smoothly and honestly. The priests are able to keep the money from "sin and guilt offerings" at the Temple for themselves.

    A Momentarily Successful Bribe

    • Meanwhile, the wicked King Hazael of Aram threatens to destroy Jerusalem. But Joash gives him all the gold from the treasuries of the temple, along with the votive gifts of his ancestors (the kings of Judah) and his own votive gifts.
    • Unfortunately, after forty years of rule, Joash's servants—Jozacar and Jehozabad— conspire and assassinate him.
    • Joash is buried with David and his other ancestors and is succeeded by his son, Amaziah.
  • Chapter 13

    Still Sinnin'

    • Twenty-three years into Joash's reign, Jehoahaz succeeds his father Jehu as the new king of Israel. Like his dad, he doesn't do what's right in the eyes of God. He still follows the sins of Jeroboam.
    • God gets angry. He lets first Hazael of Aram and later his son Ben-Hadad attack Israel.
    • But Jehoahaz pleads with God and God decides to have mercy on the Israelites. He gives them a savior (it doesn't say who) and liberates them from the clutches of the Arameans.
    • They continue to follow in the sins of Jeroboam anyway: there are a lot of sacred poles around.
    • Jehoahaz is left with a decimated army, however, having only fifty horsemen, ten chariots, and ten thousand footmen.
    • After he dies, his son Joash-Jehoash (not to be confused with the other, good Joash—so we'll call this one Jehoash) takes the throne.
    • Thirty-seven years into Joash of Judah's reign, Jehoash of Israel starts to reign.
    • Like his ancestors, he's a fan of the sins of Jeroboam. Hence, God is not a fan of Jehoash.
    • During his reign, Jehoash fights with Amaziah of Judah. When he dies, his son Jeroboam II sits on the throne of Israel.

    Straight Shot

    • When Elisha is about to die, Jehoash (still alive at this point too) comes to see him.
    • He salutes Elisha saying the same words Elisha said when he saw Elijah ascending to heaven. "The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!"
    • Elisha tells Jehoash to take a bow and arrow. Elisha places his hands on Jehoash's as he draws the bow and Jehoash fires the bow out the window.
    • Elisha says it's an arrow of victory over Aram. They will defeat that Aramean army at Aphek.
    • Elisha tells Jehoash to strike the ground with the arrows.
    • Jehoash strikes three times and stops, but Elisha gets mad at him.
    • He says Jehoash should've struck the ground five or six times. Now, he'll only strike the Arameans down three times.
    • Elisha dies. When they're putting him in his grave, raiding Moabites come by and the corpse of another man falls into Elisha's grave with him. Miraculously, this other dead man springs back to life.

    A Little Mercy

    • God has mercy on Israel. Remembering his covenant with their ancestors, he helps them defeat Aram.
    • Per Elisha's deathbed prediction, Jehoash takes cities that the Arameans had originally captured, defeating the King of Aram: Ben-Hadad.
  • Chapter 14

    Take it Easy on the Kids

    • In the second year of Jehoash's reign in Israel, Joash's son Amaziah starts to reign in Judah. He begins when he's twenty-five and keeps on for twenty-nine years.
    • Like his father, he's a good king. Still, he's not like David since he still permits sacrifices at the high places.
    • He has the conspirators who murdered his father killed, but he mercifully doesn't kill their children. He follows Moses, who said children shouldn't die for what their parents do (and vice versa).
    • He kills ten thousand Edomites and takes over Sela.

    An Ancient Rap Battle of Sorts

    • Amaziah sends messengers to Jehoash and challenges him to meet him face to face.
    • Jehoash responds saying that Amaziah is like a thornbush asking a cedar to give his daughter in marriage to his son—before the thornbush gets trampled by a wild animal from Lebanon (which is a country full of cedars).
    • Jehoash continues saying Amaziah is proud because he's defeated Edom. But he risks getting out of his depth by challenging Jehoash.
    • But Amaziah won't listen. They meet to face each other in battle at Beth-shemesh.
    • Israel crushes Judah, just like Jehoash said would happen.
    • Jehoash captures Amaziah, destroys a huge wall in Jerusalem, and steals tons of treasure from the Temple. Then he takes hostages and brings them back to Samaria.
    • Eventually, Jehoash dies and Jeroboam II succeeds him (psst: as was said earlier—the narrator is repeating this).

    Another Jeroboam

    • Amaziah ends up living fifteen years longer than Jehoash (apparently Amaziah was released from captivity at some point).
    • But conspirators kill Amaziah after chasing him from Jerusalem to Lachish.
    • Nonetheless, Amaziah's son Azariah becomes the new king. He helps to rebuild the city of Elath, which is apparently important or something.
    • In Israel, after Jehoash dies his son Jeroboam II takes over. He reigns forty-one years, but keeps on sinnin' like the first Jeroboam did—much to God's displeasure.
    • He helps restore Israel's border, thanks to a little prophecy from a prophet named Jonah.
    • Even though he's not perfect, Jeroboam II is an instrument used by God to take care of Israel and defend it at a time when it would've been weakened.
    • Jeroboam II restores Damascus and Hamath, which had been taken over by Judah.
    • Then he dies and his son Zechariah succeeds him.
  • Chapter 15

    Yet Another Conspiracy

    • Twenty-seven years into Jeroboam II's reign in Israel, King Azariah starts his reign in Judah. He's sixteen when he starts his reign and rules for fifty-two years.
    • He continues the righteousness of his father, but also doesn't take away the high places.
    • But Azariah is struck with leprosy and lives in seclusion. His son, Jotham, manages the daily business of the palace and court.
    • Once Azariah dies, Jotham succeeds him.
    • Thirty-eight years into Azariah's reign in Judah, Zechariah rules in Israel.
    • He continues with the sins of Jeroboam and ends up getting publicly killed by a conspiracy, orchestrated by this dude named Shallum.
    • This fulfills God's prediction that Jehu's descendants would sit on the throne until the fourth generation.

    Menahem Plays Dirty

    • Thirty-nine years into King Uzziah's (the same as Azzariah) reign in Judah, Shallum rules in Israel for just one month.
    • A guy named Menahem comes and kills Shallum and reigns in his place.
    • Menahem viciously sacks the land of Tiphsah, doing horrible things like killing and cutting open pregnant women.
    • Menahem's reign begins in the thirty-ninth year of Azariah's reign in Judah. He keeps doing evil and following Jeroboam's sins.
    • He successfully bribes King Pul of Assyria not to invade, taxing the rich at fifty shekels of silver a head in order to raise cash for the bribe.
    • When Menahem dies, his son Pekahiah takes over.

    Like, More Kings n' Stuff 

    • Pekahiah starts reigning in Israel during the fiftieth year of Azariah's reign.
    • He also acts evil, following Jeroboam's sins (like you couldn't have guessed, at this point). A conspiracy involving a group of fifty Gileadities led by a man named Pekah attacks Pekahiah in his palace and kills him.
    • In the fifty-second year of Azariah's reign in Judah, Pekah rules in Israel, holding power for twenty more years.
    • King Teglath-pileser of Assyria seizes huge amounts of territory from Pekah. At the end of his reign, a man named Hoshea leads a conspiracy and kills Pekah, taking over during Jotham's reign in Judah.
    • Jotham starts ruling Judah during the second year of Pekah's reign.
    • He rules for sixteen years and behaves righteously like his ancestors—although, again, the high places are still around.
    • Jotham helps rebuild the upper-gate of the Temple. But thanks to the mysterious will of God, he's also attacked by Pekah and King Rezin of Aram.
    • When Jotham dies, he's buried with his ancestors and his son Ahaz takes over.
  • Chapter 16

    Assyrians to the Rescue

    • Ahaz is, however, a bad king, breaking Judah's record of good kings up to this point.
    • He even goes so far as to sacrifice his son in fire (probably to the god Moloch) and worships at various unsavory, polytheistic locations: trees and hills and so on.
    • But King Rezin of Aram and King Pekah of Israel attack Judah, while the Edomites take over the city of Elath, kicking out the Judeans.
    • Ahaz looks to King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria to bail him out. He offers him all the gold and silver and other treasures from the Temple and asks him to come and rescue Judah.
    • King Tiglath-pileser listens. He comes and captures Damascus from Israel, taking its people captive before finally killing King Rezin.

    More Home Improvement

    • When King Ahaz goes to visit and thank King Tiglath-pileser in Damascus, he is impressed by the altar he sees there. He decides to make some alterations to the altar and the Temple back in Jerusalem.
    • He sends an exact model and plans of the altar to the head priest, Uriah, who makes the required changes.
    • When Ahaz returns, he makes offerings at the altar, and gives Uriah further instructions for how to go about making these offerings. He also takes the bronze altar that was originally dedicated to God and uses it as a secondary altar next to the new one. The new one will be for his own personal inquiries to the gods or to God (it's not clear which).
    • He makes other alterations: he puts the molten sea on a stone pediment instead of on its bronze oxen pedestal, removes the frames of the Temple's stands, and also closes up one of the Temple's portals and one of its outer entrances.
    • When he dies, his son Hezekiah succeeds him.
  • Chapter 17

    Comeuppance

    • Twelve years into Ahaz's reign in Judah, Hoshea starts up as king in Israel. He continues doing evil religious practices—presumably the "sins of Jeroboam"—but he apparently wasn't as bad as the kings who came before him.
    • He reigns for nine years and becomes a vassal of the King of Assyria. However, he betrays the King of Assyria by trying to create an alliance between Israel and Egypt and failing to pay his tribute to Assyria.
    • The King of Assyria is outraged. He imprisons Hoshea.
    • The Assyrian King invades Israel and takes over Samaria. He sends the people of Israel into exile, making them live in a city called Halah in the land of the Medes.

    A Brief Explanation 

    • The narrator gives his interpretation of these events:
    • This disaster happened because the people of Israel abandoned God, forgetting how he'd saved them during the Exodus.
    • They started to worship other gods and adopt foreign customs. They worshipped at high places, using sacred poles and pillars on hills and trees like the nations that God drove out of the land earlier.
    • They worshipped idols and failed to listen to all the prophets, who commanded them to do the right thing and obey God's commandments.
    • The people also made sacred images of two calves (related to the "Sins of Jeroboam"), worshipped Baal and the host of heaven (the stars and planets), sacrificed their children in fire, and practiced divination.
    • So, the narrator concludes, that's why the northern kingdom of Israel was destroyed and why the people were sent away. Only the tribe of Judah remained intact (down in Judah).
    • However, Judah didn't follow God's ways correctly either.
    • The narrator places the blame on "the sins of Jeroboam." They led Israel astray and ultimately caused the exile in Assyria which lasted until the narrator's day.

    Not Exactly Simba

    • The King of Assyria repopulates Samaria with other (non-Israelite) people from across the Assyrian Empire.
    • When the new denizens fail to worship God, however, God sends lions to attack them, killing some people.
    • When the King of Assyria finds out, he says they should send an Israelite priest out of exile to teach the people the laws of the god of the land (meaning the God of Israel).
    • They do. The priest comes and does his job, but the people there continue to worship numerous other gods, as well as Israel's God.
    • The narrator lists some of the peoples and their gods, including the Sepharvites who burn their children in sacrifice to the gods Adrammelech and Anammelech.
    • They continued to practice this sort of religious worship up to the narrator's day. They didn't listen to the rules God had laid down for the Israelites about not worshipping other deities.
  • Chapter 18

    Super King

    • In the third year of Hoshea's reign in Israel, Ahaz's son Hezekiah rules as king in Judah.
    • Unlike his father, Hezekiah is a good king. In fact, he's an uncommonly good king.
    • Beginning at age twenty-five, he reigns twenty-nine more years, during which time he removes the sacred poles, pillars, and high places.
    • He also destroys the bronze serpent Moses had used (in a good, divinely-sanctioned way) in Numbers to help save the Israelites from fiery, flying serpent attacks. The serpent was called Nehushtan.
    • None of the kings of Judah were like Hezekiah in righteousness and piety before or after him.
    • He keeps all God's commandments, follows the ways of Moses, rebels against Assyria, and fights the Philistines.

    Poolside Chillin'

    • In the fourth year of Hezekiah's reign, the King of Assyria, Shalmaneser (he finally gets a name in this chapter), besieges Samaria and destroys it.
    • In the sixth year of Hezekiah's reign, the Israelites of the northern kingdom are sent into exile as punishment for ignoring God's laws as given to Moses.
    • In the fourteenth year of Hezekiah's reign, Sennacherib, the new Assyrian King, decides to invade Judah. He captures all the fortified cities.
    • Hezekiah asks Sennacherib to lay off, saying that he'll take whatever penalty the Assyrians want him to pay.
    • Sennacherib wants Hezekiah to give him three hundred talents of silver and thirty of gold. Hezekiah agrees to pay up, stripping gold and treasure from the Temple.
    • But Sennacherib sends a massive army with his envoy, the Rabshakeh, to Jerusalem to collect the tribute.
    • They meet Eliakim, Shebnah, and Joah (Hezekiah's envoys) at a pool.

    An Unsavory Meal

    • The Rabshakeh boasts and mocks them, sending a message from Sennacherib.
    • He says that no one can resist the king. They shouldn't think that making an alliance with Egypt (which they've done) can help them.
    • He challenges them to find horsemen to saddle two thousand of the Assyrians' own horses and fight. Relying on the Lord won't help, he says, since the Lord commanded Sennacherib to attack.
    • The nervous trio of messengers ask the Rabshakeh to speak to them in Aramaic and not Hebrew so that the people in Jerusalem won't understand what is being said.
    • The Rabshakeh says that everyone—the people along with the king and the royalty—are doomed to eat their own excrement and drink their own urine when the Assyrians starve out the city. Um, ew.
    • He calls out to the people in Hebrew, saying that reliance on Hezekiah won't help them. They should surrender to the Assyrians and let them take them away to Assyria with them, which is a nice place. God, says the Rabshakeh, won't help them either. None of the other nations' gods could save people from the Assyrians.
    • The people and the three messengers say nothing in response (which is what Hezekiah told them to do) and the trio return to Hezekiah, tearing their clothes and telling him what the Rabshakeh said.
  • Chapter 19

    Pride before the Fall

    • Hezekiah is disturbed by his servants' news, tears his own clothes (man, doesn't anyone respect the threads around here?), dons sackcloth and ash, and heads into the Temple. He sends Shebna, Eliakim, and some priests to talk to the prophet Isaiah.
    • They ask Isaiah to say a prayer to God to save the people of Judah from the clutches of the Assyrians, hoping God will repay the Assyrians for mocking him.
    • Isaiah tells them not to worry and to tell Hezekiah that God will put a spirit into the King of Assyria, making him return to his own land.
    • The Rabshakeh returns to the King of Assyria, who is fighting in Lachish. The King of Assyria hears that the King of Ethiopia wants to fight him, now, but he tells Judah that God is wrong when he claims that Jerusalem won't fall to Assyria. Sennacherib isn't giving up that easy.
    • Sennacherib boasts about how many other gods he's defeated, saying that Judah's won't be an exception.

    Divine Smackdown

    • Hezekiah receives this message in letter-form. He then goes into the Temple and spreads out the letter before God.
    • He prays, asking God for salvation from Assyria. He says he knows that God is the Creator and distinct from the gods Assyria has already defeated. Hezekiah asks God to repay Sennacherib for mocking God.
    • Isaiah relays a reply from God, answering Hezekiah's prayer.
    • God says that Zion is like a virgin daughter scorning Assyria as a suitor, voting in favor of God.
    • God very poetically discusses Sennacherib's over-the-top boasts of power. He says that he (God) planned all this out and directed exactly what Sennacherib would do.
    • But since Sennacherib has raged against him—and since God knows every move Sennacherib makes—God will put a hook in his lip and send him back to Assyria, where he came from.
    • God promises Judah that they won't starve and will eat plentifully for the next few years. Sennacherib won't even be able to fire a single arrow against Jerusalem.
    • Thus, in the middle of the night, God's angel of destruction comes and kills one hundred and eighty-five thousand Assyrian soldiers, leaving the land around Jerusalem strewn with their dead bodies.
    • When Sennacherib returns home, defeated by God, his sons murder him in a conspiracy. (Out of the frying pan…)
  • Chapter 20

    "If I Could Turn Back Time"

    • When Hezekiah grows sick and near death, Isaiah comes to him and tells him that God says it's his time to die.
    • Hezekiah weeps and prays to God, asking him to remember Hezekiah's service and faithfulness.
    • God sends a message to Isaiah, saying that he'll add fifteen years onto Hezekiah's life. He will also keep him and the city out of the hands of the Assyrians, due to God's love for David and David's descendants.
    • On the third day, says God, Hezekiah will recover and go to the Temple.
    • Isaiah tells servants to apply figs to the infectious boil Hezekiah is suffering from, as well.
    • Hezekiah asks Isaiah what the sign will be that God is going to heal him. Isaiah asks if it's normal for the shadow on the sun-dial to move back ten intervals instead of moving forward. Hezekiah says (rightly) it isn't.
    • Isaiah cries out to God and God moves back the shadow on the sun-dial by ten intervals.

    Hey, Not My Problem

    • After Hezekiah has recovered, King Merodoch-baladan (say that three times fast) of Babylon sends envoys to Israel.
    • Hezekiah impresses these envoys, showing them all the wealth and spices and other signs of prosperity in his palace and in his realm.
    • Isaiah asks Hezekiah who these men are and where they're from. Hezekiah explains that they're from Babylon and he just showed them all of his riches and splendor.
    • Isaiah says that, after Hezekiah's death, all of these riches will be captured and taken to Babylon. Some of Hezekiah's descendants will even be taken as eunuchs to Babylon's court.
    • Hezekiah says he thinks this is actually fine, if God intends it, since he'll personally be dead by then.
    • Hezekiah did many things the narrator says he isn't going to talk about, like building a canal to bring water into the city.
    • When he dies, his son Manasseh succeeds him.
  • Chapter 21

    Bad to the Bone

    • Manasseh starts reigning over Judah at the age of twelve and continues for fifty-five years.
    • Unlike his father, he's a bad king. He rebuilds the high places that Hezekiah had demolished, builds altars to foreign gods in the Temple, and brings back the worship of sacred poles and of Baal.
    • He also sacrifices one of his sons in fire and consults with wizards and mediums.
    • He puts a carved image of the Asherah (a goddess considered to be a consort of God by some) in the Temple, further disobeying the laws against polytheism God gave to Moses.
    • Manasseh leads the people to do worse than the nations that preceded them in the region.

    God Does Some Dishwashing

    • God sends a message through the prophets, telling the people that he's going to punish the nations for all these sins into which Manasseh has been leading them.
    • Manasseh, says God, is worse than the Amorites who came before him.
    • The same evil fate Ahab brought on Israel, Manasseh is now bringing on Jerusalem. God will wipe the city clean like a dirty dish, emptying it and sending the remaining remnant into exile, into the hands of enemies.
    • In addition to idolatry, Manasseh also kills plenty of innocent people in Jerusalem.
    • When Amon dies, his son (also Amon) takes over and leads the people in the same wicked deeds. He starts reigning when he's twenty-two years old, and reigns for two years.
    • A group of conspirators kill Amon Jr., but the people kill the conspirators too and make Amon's other son Josiah their new king.
  • Chapter 22

    A Used Book

    • Josiah starts reigning as an eight-year-old boy and rules for thirty-one years.
    • Departing radically from the ways of his dad and granddad, Josiah becomes a great and righteous king, doing everything that David himself would have done.
    • In the eighteenth year of his reign, Josiah sends his secretary Shaphan to ask the priest Hilkiah to use the donations made at the Temple for repairs on it.
    • Hilkiah tells Shaphan that he's found "the book of the law" (probably a version of Deuteronomy), and gives it to Shaphan, who reads it.
    • Shaphan tells Josiah that they're paying the workers for the repairs. Then he reads him the book of the law they've discovered.
    • Josiah is distressed, realizing how far they've departed from the Laws of Moses. He tears his clothes.

    Chatting with Huldah

    • Believing that God's wrath is against them for not following these rules, Josiah sends Shaphan, Hilkiah, and a few others to ask God what they should do.
    • They go to a prophetess named Huldah (the wife of the son of the wardrobe keeper). She says that God will, indeed, visit his wrath on the people for their sins, just as the book of the law says he will.
    • But, she says, God will have mercy on Josiah, since he humbled himself before God and repented for the idolatrous sins he committed in ignorance. He'll die and be laid in his grave in peace. He won't see the destruction that's coming for Judah.
    • The messengers relay her words to the king.
  • Chapter 23

    Appetite for (Divine) Destruction

    • Josiah gathers together the elders of Judah and leads them, along with all the inhabitants of Judah and all the priests and prophets to the Temple.
    • Josiah promises God, in front of everyone, to fully follow the commandments God has provided for them, and he makes a covenant. All the people join in with the covenant.
    • Josiah quickly sets about destroying the polytheistic order of things. He takes all the vessels made for Baal, Asherah, and other deities out of the Temple. Then he burns them.
    • He deposes idolatrous priests who sacrificed to foreign gods at the high places. He burns the image of the Asherah, scattering its dust on the graves of the common people.
    • Josiah destroys the houses of male temple prostitutes, where women weaved for Asherah.
    • He destroys and defiles the high places, removing the priests from all Judah's towns.
    • However, the priests of the high places protest by eating unleavened bread instead of coming to Jerusalem and the Temple.
    • He defiles Topheth—which is where people used to sacrifice children to Moloch—and removes horses that were dedicated to the sun god. He burns the chariots dedicated to the sun, as well.
    • Josiah destroys more high places and altars that Ahaz and Manasseh had built. He destroys high places dedicated to the gods Astarte, Chemosh, and Milcom and cuts down sacred pillars and poles, defiling those sites with human bones.

    Breaking Down and Building Up

    • Josiah continues destroying stuff, like the altar and high place Jeroboam made at Bethel which caused Israel to sin. He cuts down a sacred pole there and defiles the altar by burning human bones from local tombs on it.
    • But Josiah makes sure that no one moves the bones of the man of God who predicted these things would happen, along with those of another prophet.
    • He destroys the high places in Samaria too and kills the priests of the high places on their altars, before polluting them by burning bones.
    • Still in the eighteenth year of his reign, Josiah orders—in accordance with the recently discovered law book—the celebration of Passover. It's the first time the holiday has been observed since the days of Moses. The judges and the kings (including David) apparently didn't know about it.
    • Josiah also gets rid of all the wizards and mediums. The narrator says that there were no kings before or after him who were like him.
    • Nonetheless, God is still going to destroy Judah and Jerusalem and send the people into exile.

    Neco—But Not the Wafers 

    • Pharaoh Neco of Egypt goes up to the King of Assyria. But when Josiah goes out to meet Pharaoh Neco at Megiddo, the Pharaoh kills him (or, has him killed).
    • Josiah's body is brought back by chariot and laid to rest in Jerusalem.
    • His son, Jehoahaz, becomes the new king at age twenty-three. He only reigns for three months, though it's enough time to return to the evil ways of his ancestors.
    • The Pharaoh keeps him confined in the city of Rimlah, apart from Jerusalem.
    • The Pharaoh makes another of Josiah's sons Eliakim the new king, then sends Jehoahaz to exile in Egypt, where he dies. Eliakim's name is changed to Jehoiakim.
    • Jehoiakim taxes the people in order to pay the Pharaoh tribute in silver and gold.
    • Jehoiakim starts reigning at age twenty-five and continues for eleven years.
    • Like his brother, he is also devoted to the wicked ways of his ancestors.
  • Chapter 24

    Nebuchadnezzar Arrives

    • King Nebuchadnezzar starts reigning on Babylon. Jehoiakim is his servant or vassal for three years, but then rebels against him.
    • God sends the Chaldeans and numerous other peoples allied with them all come to destroy Judah, in accordance with the prophecies of total destruction for Judah.
    • The narrator says this is mainly punishment for Manasseh's sins and all the innocent people he killed.
    • The Babylonians put down the Egyptians, making them a non-power.
    • When Jehoiakim dies, his son Jehoiachin succeeds him.
    • Jehoiachin starts reigning at age eighteen and stays in power three more months. He's another bad king, says the narrator.
    • In the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign, he besieges Jerusalem. Jehoiachin surrenders himself and the whole royal family into the captivity of the Babylonians.

    Exile from Mainstreet

    • Nebuchadnezzar loots Jerusalem, steals all the treasures of the Temple, and cuts the vessels dedicated to God into pieces.
    • He captures all the people of Jerusalem—warriors, smiths, and artisans so on—everyone except the poorest people.
    • He takes the entirety of the royal family and the royal house, along with all the officials and government people and the elite.
    • Nebuchadnezzar makes Mattaniah, Jehoiachin's brother, the new (puppet) king. He renames him Zedekiah.
    • Zedekiah reigns for eleven years, beginning at age twenty-one. He's yet another sinful king. It is under his reign that the final stages of the exile will happen.
    • Eventually, Zedekiah rebels against Nebuchadnezzar.
  • Chapter 25

    The Temple Falls

    • In the ninth year of his reign, Zedekiah rebels and Nebuchadnezzar besieges Jerusalem for two whole years.
    • The famine grows extremely severe in a short period of time
    • Zedekiah tries to escape at night with his soldiers, but he gets captured by the Babylonians (Chaldeans) before they make it very far.
    • The Chaldeans kill Zedekiah's sons before his eyes, stab his eyes out, and take him in chains to Babylon.
    • Nebuchadnezzar's captain of the bodyguard, Nebuzaradan, comes to Jerusalem and burns down the Temple, the King's palace, and all the houses of the city.
    • The Babylonian army tears down the city walls. Nebuzaradan takes all the remaining people to Babylon—except for the very poorest, who still remain to be vinedressers and do farmwork.

    Brunch with the King

    • The Chaldeans break the bronze pillars that were in the Temple and carry them to Babylon.
    • They completely loot all the remaining silver and gold from the Temple, stripping away all the treasures and bringing them to Babylon.
    • Nebuzaradan sends the two highest priests of the Temple and the three guardians of the Temple's threshold to Babylon, where Nebuchadnezzar has them put to death.
    • Shaphan's grandson, Gedaliah, becomes the new governor of Judah, which has been virtually emptied out and put in exile.
    • Gedaliah tells some of the remaining warriors of Judah to put down their weapons and live peacefully under Babylon's rule.
    • They do this for a while, but then a warrior named Ishmael leads ten men to kill Gedaliah.
    • The remaining people then run away to Egypt, afraid of what the Babylonians will do to them as punishment.
    • After thirty-seven years of exile and imprisonment, Jehoiachin is freed by King Evil-merodoch of Babylon. The king lets Jehoiachin eat at his own table in luxury and also gives him a generous, regular allowance.