The main purpose of the Historical Books is not to give “scientific history”, but “theological history”.
Two very important aspects of this theological history demand more emphasis: the importance of the Covenant (“I will be your God and you will be my people” = God’s promise) but there is a big IF… namely, if you are faithful to the Covenant.
The Historical Books are not only the story that God will always fulfil his promise, but very explicitly that the rulers, be they judges or kings, were most of the time not faithful to the Covenant. There is a similarity of the narratives for all the judges (the Twelve Judges) insofar as they all began well, but ended badly.
This is also true of the Story of the Kings. The people, who asked Samuel for a king, wanted “to be like the other nations”, which they were not; they were the People of the Covenant, and should have been relying on God for protection and not on a king.
All kings, except three (e.g. Josiah) after Solomon were bad. Indeed, it was Solomon’s foolish way of ruling that led to the split of the United Kingdom into Israel (North) and Judah (South) in 931 BCE. Yet God still remained faithful to his Covenant and brought it to fulfilment despite these unfaithful and sinful kings.
The Historical Books are, therefore, telling the story of how their infidelity led to one disaster after another, the Fall of Samaria in 722/1 and the Fall of Jerusalem (587/6). These books are subdivided into two main historical collections and some other books:
The Deuteronomic History is made up by what the Jewish list calls “Former Prophets”. (Deuteronomistic History is a modern theoretical construct holding that behind the present forms of the books of Deuteronomy and Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings, there was a single literary work).
The Chronicler’s History comes from the hands of a Levite or Priest and is not just a retelling, but more a rereading and even a reinterpretation from their point of view. Priests are allotted a much more important place in history than in the Book of Kings.
A third part of this group is made up of:
The final part contains five deutero-canonical books:
Download the introduction to the Historical Books.