5.70 2 Kings -- the Decline Continues
2 Kings continues the account of the downward spiral of Israel and Judah. The events of 2 Kings spanned a period of about 300 years, from around 870 to 560 BC. During this time, there was frequent conflict with Aram, and later Assyria and Babylon. Judah experienced a temporary revival under Josiah. But clearly, the small Jewish kingdoms were overmatched by the large northern and eastern empires that were expanding westward. And if that were not enough, Egypt decided to go on the march northward. This period of prolonged conflict produced the majority of the prophetic books of the Bible, as the faithful few attempted to harmonize the covenant promises to Israel with contemporary defeat and subjection. The reality was that the Israelites were losing both their homeland and their freedom, and that they were destined to a time of servitude in another Egypt.
This is the devastation that Solomon started. He could not have averted the rise of the eastern empires, but he began the process of the internal disintegration of the united monarchy: through inter-marriage with foreign women, tolerance of Canaanite idols, oppression of the northern tribes to enrich Judah and glorify Jerusalem. And though the prophets spoke valiantly, and often paid with their lives, and some of the kings of Judah held true to the God of Israel, "all the king's horses and all the king's men could not put Humpty together again."