The Bible is without parallel in its uncompromising, three-dimensional, warts-and-all portraits of its patriarchs, kings, and prophets. Sadly, the histories the kings of Israel and Judah hold little interest for many Christians, apart from those of David, Solomon, and a few of the ‘better’ kings whose lives are recorded in the books of Kings and Chronicles.
A. J. Monty White’s brief, readable, and engaging review of some of Israel’s worst royals helps to plug the gap in the literature relating to the kings of Israel. Drawing on biography, history, linguistics, archaeology, and the Bible itself, he provides neglected and overlooked details, demonstrating that Kings and Chronicles, far from being myth and legend, are sober history. For example, we find that Omri (one of Israel’s worst monarchs, whose reign the Bible dismisses in six verses of 1 Kings), was possibly a powerful non-Israelite mercenary about whom more is known from archaeology than from the Bible.
The author helps Bible readers make some sense of the complex and confusing chronologies of Kings and Chronicles. He explains who the ‘rogues’ were, what made them so bad, and the consequences of their evil. Under the short and oppressive reign of Queen Athalia, for example, the kingdom of Judah sank so low that the house of David almost disappeared, threatening to bring an end to the Messianic hope.
Endnotes direct the reader to print and online sources, and the book concludes with a Messianic focus on great David’s greater Son. Rogues in Royal Robes should be on the shelves of all who want to understand the Bible better.
Curry Rivel, Somerset