The Source Material (2 Kings 15:1-16:20)
Throughout this long list of Kings and their exploits, the text continually ends the story of each king with the words “now for the rest of the acts of so and so, are they not written in the book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel” or “Judah,” or some words to that effect. Each king is described differently, but the same pattern is used. The reader is always pointed to the archives for more information.
This naturally causes us to wonder about these official records. Do these books still exist? What else could we learn about these important leaders from history if we could get our hands on them? Unfortunately, all of these records are lost to the sands of time, but, it is likely that these are mentioned, not to point readers of the Bible to these other sources so we can learn more, rather, it is likely that these words were used to as an ancient form of footnoting, and this is useful to us even if the source documents are no longer available.
The author is stating that the events he is describing in these pages are verifiable historical facts, and he’s referencing source materials to prove them. In other words, these phrases provide authenticity rather than highlighting the stand-alone value of the extrabiblical sources cited. This understanding gives us faith and helps us realize how we should be reading our Bibles. We have faith that the information presented was painstakingly researched for accuracy, and we also realize that we aren’t being presented with fairy tales or an allegorical history that is meant to be taken symbolically. The events described are true, meant to be taken literally, and the author is showing his work to prove it. So while it’s unfortunate that we can’t curl up with the book of the annals of the kings of Judah and a cup of hot chocolate, there is still tremendous value in us being able to read about these references today, even if they aren’t around anymore.