The Composition of Genesis - II Kings (A Chronology)


The Composition of the "historical" narrative of Genesis - II Kings, was a supplementary process which began with a number of unconnected compositions, likely written in the eighth century B.C.E.

These were:

The Book of E, which chronicled the life of five Israelite heroes: Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and Balaam (Genesis - Numbers).

The Book of the Covenant - the first law code found in Exodus 21-24.

The Northern book of Judges, which is the story of seven pre-monarchic heroes (Judges - I Samuel).

The Legends of the Ark of the Covenant - which details the journey of this object of reverence in I and II Samuel until it settles in Jerusalem in II Samuel 6.

The Prophetic Narratives - composed in two parts - the first, the stories of Elijah which take place during Ahab the Israelite Kingís reign and the second, the stories of Elishah a second prophet which take place during the time of Jehu. Elijah is a worker of miracles, whereas Elisha helps the nation in the time of war.


J (the Yahwist) was responsible for the first major amalgamation, in the late eighth or early seventh century - incorporating and supplementing the book of E, the book of the covenant, and the Northern book of Judges he composed a historical work from the creation of the world until the crowning of King David.

Another more minor process, which may have occurred at about the same time, was the connection forged between the two parts of the prophetic narratives. This editor turns Elisha into Elijahís disciple, makes sure that their stories mirror each other (by adding episodes in which Elishaís miracles mirrors Elijahís and vice versa), and finally sculpts the joint narrative into a prophetic crusade against Baal worship in Israel.

At this point in the history of composition a series of authors begin to add to Jís magnum opus:

1. The first of these authors is D1 or the First Deuteronomist. D1 is responsible for bringing in the Deuteronomistic law code (Deuteronomy 12-26) emphasizing centralization of cult in Jerusalem, and for his cycles of sin and punishment, found most notably in Judges. He also adds an abbreviated history of the Judean monarchs after David, concentrating on whether the king followed the cultic laws as described in the law code.

2. As a reaction to J and Dís emphasis on centralization of cult in Jerusalem an Anti Centralization Source, adds an opposing point of view emphasizing Israelís ties to many cultic centers. He also initiates the composition of II Samuel 5 - I Kings 2 (The Succession Narrative) which takes a very ironic stance to monarchy in general, showing how power corrupts.
This source also brings in the legends of the ark of the covenant, mentioned above.

3. A Pro Davidic source responds to the Anti Centralization sourceís attack against the Davidic monarchy and emphasizes its validity and divine origin.

4. The Priestly Source imposes its order and hierarchy on Jís historical narrative and also adds many sacrificial laws - mainly in the Pentateuch (in Leviticus - Numbers). Its final touch is its minute plan of Solomonís temple in I Kings, which echoes the construction of the Tabernacle in Exodus.


The final authors seek to consolidate this work into a complete and coherent history of Judah and Israel, beginning with the creation of the world and ending with the exile in 586 B.C.E:

1. D2 or the Second Deuteronomistic Source, adds hortatory (sermons) to D1ís original narrative introduction at the beginning of Deuteronomy, and otherwise supplements D1ís work - obviously coming from the same theological school. His main addition to the history of Judah and Israel is adding the non-Judean perspective following the split between the north and the south after the reign of Solomon which was ignored by D1 (and successive authors). He thus adds a parallel summary of the Northern Israelean monarchs, and brings in the prophetic narratives of Elijah and Elisha which take place in Northern Israel during the time of the Northern Israelean monarchy.

2. H is a democratizer of ideas espoused mainly by the Priestly author (above) and is apparent especially in Pís law codes (but also in Dtrís). He also adds his mark to the catalogue of tribal allotments in the book of Joshua (originally composed by P) and the construction of the Solomonic temple.

3. The Bridger adds interesting mythic elements (some Israelite and some foreign) to the books of Genesis-Joshua and ties tradition cycles together - note especially the bones of Joseph which are supposed to buried in Canaan, mentioned in Genesis Exodus and at the end of Joshua.

4. The Final Prophetic Amalgamator is deeply concerned with prophecy and its fulfillment, and the prestige of the prophetic profession in the books of Kings and thus makes sure that prophecies are uttered and fulfilled throughout the monarchic period.
Source Divisions by Tzemah Yoreh, 2010. All rights reserved.
For Questions, Comments and Suggestions Please email:
Source Divisions by Tzemah Yoreh, 2010. All rights reserved.
For Questions, Comments and Suggestions Please email:
For Questions, Comments and Suggestions Please email: