This book is titled "4 Kingdoms" in the Greek Bible.
The second book of Kings describes times of rapid change; not only the political turmoil of the collapse of the northern kingdom and later exile of the south, but also the introduction of money in place of bartering[2 p.78]. Archaeological evidence shows that the earliest coins were fairly shapeless lumps of metal marked with an official stamp (like a Hall-Mark) indicating that they had been checked for being of the right weight, substance, and purity.
As the kings became weaker, the prophets became the focus of historical attention. This book describes events in the life of the prophets Elijah and his successor Elisha, who put God's point of view despite physical threats, and their words were confirmed by many miracles. But their warnings were mostly ignored, and at the end of the book Jerusalem is besieged by the Babylonians.
According to Nehemiah 8:17, the full Law was not followed throughout the period covered by this book.
See Old Testament regarding authorship. The book contains apparent inconsistencies (2 Kings 17:34 appears to contradict 33 and 41) and repetitions (2 Kings 17:1–6 = 2 Kings 18:9–12), which lead scholars to doubt whether it is the work of a single author, despite the consistent style. But the meaning of chapter 17 is clear: the people started worshipping YHWH without stopping worshipping other gods, with disastrous results.
The author presents a mixture of history (probably from existing sources) and his interpretation (e.g. 2 Kings 17:7f).
© David Billin 2002–2021