This article explores the question of why the history of Israel and Judah, according to
the books of Kings, ends in disaster (2 Kings 25). Although this question has been
intensely discussed, especially since Martin Noth’s Überlieferungsgeschichtliche
(1943), no entirely convincing solution has been offered. The argument suggests a new
explanation of the ending of Kings from the per-spective of its textual pragmatics. The
narrative of the finding of the “book of the torah” during Josiah’s reign (2 Kings 22–23) is
seen to refer readers emphatically to Deuteronomy. The laconically disastrous end of 2
Kings 24–25 proves the accuracy of Moses’ predictions of exile. Readers who wish to
know about the possibilities for Israel’s future are bound to reread Deuteronomy 29–30,
the only text in which Moses refers to the return to the promised land (Deut 30:1–10).
They are thereby taken into the dynamics of the Moab covenant (Deuteronomy 29–30).
Kings does not console its readers with a happy ending but forces them to turn to Moses’
rhetoric of blessing and curse and to make their decision between life and death (Deut