SPLIT OF ISRAEL AND JUDAH AFTER SOLOMON

In 1 Kings 9:4-5 we find that if Solomon would keep Yahweh’s commandments and do as he had commanded, then Yahweh would establish the “. . .throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, . .”  There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel.”  Well obviously that did not happen and here is the continuation of the story. 

After Solomon’s death the Houses of Judah and Israel split never to be rejoined again.  We need to examine the underlying reasons for this.

Solomon started to build his temple  1 Kings 6:1.  The King of Tyre contributed (1 Kings 9:11) cedar trees, fir trees, and gold.  Hiram was a member of the tribe of Naphtali. 1 Kings 7:1   After the temple was completed (1 Kings 7:40) Solomon gave 20 cites (1 Kings 9:11) in Galilee to the King of Tyre as payment. 

The cites that Solomon gave to the King of Tyre most probably constituted the present day area of Samaria.  No cities of Judah were given.  Apparently there was disquiet among the northern tribes in the northern kingdom was over the cost of the temple and restlessness over being ruled by Solomon.  The land split had to further inflame this contentionousness. 

 

Samaria is a name for the mountainous, central region of the ancient Levant, based on the borders of the biblical Northern Kingdom of Israel and especially the Israelite tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh.  The name "Samaria" derives from the ancient city of Samaria, the capital of the Kingdom of Israel.  In modern times, the territory is generally and almost universally known as part of the West Bank.

Jeroboam, an Ephrathite, was Solomon’s servant. 1 Ki 11:26. Yahweh had chastised Solomon and said that the Kingdom would be given to Solomon’s servant 1 Ki 11:11.   Solomon made Jeroboam the ruler over the House of Joseph (Israel) 1 Ki 11:28 and ultimately the ruler of the 10 tribes (1Ki 11:31).

Separation

Rehoboam was, according to the Hebrew Bible, initially king of the United Monarchy of Israel but after the ten northern tribes of Israel rebelled in 932/931 BC to form the independent Kingdom of Israel he was king of the Kingdom of Judah, or southern kingdom.

Jeroboam and the people rebelled, with the ten northern tribes breaking away and forming a separate kingdom.  The new breakaway kingdom continued to be called Kingdom of Israel, and was also known as Samaria, Ephraim or the northern Kingdom.  Rehoboam was left with the realm that was called Kingdom of Judah.

Jeroboam was the first king of the northern Israelite Kingdom of Israel after the revolt of the ten northern Israelite tribes against Rehoboam that put an end to the United Monarchy.

Jeroboam reigned for 22 years. William F. Albright has dated his reign from 922 to 901 BC, while Edwin R. Thiele offers the dates 931 to 910 BC.

Jeroboam was the son of Nebat, (a member of the Tribe of Ephraim of Zereda)
.  His mother was named Zeruah, 1 Kings 11:26).   He had at least two sons—Abijam and Nadab, who succeeded him on the throne.

While still a young man, King Solomon made Jeroboam superintendent over his tribesmen in the building of the fortress Mello in Jerusalem and of other public works.  Jeroboam naturally became conversant with the widespread discontent caused by the extravagances which marked the reign of Solomon.

Influenced by the words of the prophet Ahijah (1 Kings 11:29–39), Jeroboam began to form conspiracies with the view of becoming king of the ten northern tribes; but these were discovered, and he fled to Egypt, where he remained under the protection of pharaoh Shishak until the death of Solomon.  After Solomon’s death he returned and was made leader of the delegation sent to ask the new king Rehoboam to lighten the burdens which his father had placed upon them.  No sooner had Rehoboam imprudently rejected their petition than ten of the tribes withdrew their allegiance from the house of David and proclaimed Jeroboam their king, only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin remaining faithful to Rehoboam.

Jeroboam rebuilt and fortified Shechem as the capital of his kingdom and at once adopted means to perpetuate the division with the southern Kingdom of Judah.  Fearing that pilgrimages to the temple in Jerusalem prescribed by the Law might be an occasion for the people of the Northern Kingdom to go back to their old allegiance, he determined to provide for them places of worship within their own boundaries and set up two golden calves to be worshipped, one in Bethel and the other in Dan.  Thus he became distinguished as the man "who made Israel to sin". This policy was followed by all the succeeding kings of Israel.

According to 1 Kings 13:1–6, while Jeroboam was engaged in offering incense at Bethel, a "man of God" warned him that "a son named Josiah will be born to the house of David" who would destroy the altar (referring to King Josiah of Judah who would rule approximately three hundred years later). Attempting to arrest the prophet for his bold words of defiance, Jeroboam's hand was "dried up", and the altar before which he stood was rent asunder.  At his urgent entreaty his "hand was restored him again" (1 Kings 13:1–6, compare 2 Kings 23:13–16); but the miracle made no abiding impression on him.  This "man of God" who warned Jeroboam has been equated with a seer named Iddo.

Continuing War with Judah

Jeroboam was in constant "war with the House of Judah".  While the southern kingdom made no serious effort to militarily regain power over the north, there was a long-lasting boundary dispute, fighting over which lasted during the reigns of several kings on both sides before being finally settled.

In the eighteenth year of Jeroboam's reign, Abijah (also known as Abijam), Rehoboam's son, became king of Judah.  During his short reign of three years, Abijah went to considerable lengths to bring the Kingdom of Israel back under his control.  He waged a major battle against Jeroboam in the mountains of Ephraim.  Biblical sources credit Abijah with having a force of 400,000 and Jeroboam having 800,000.  The Biblical sources mention that Abijah addressed the armies of Israel, urging them to submit and to let the Kingdom of Israel be whole again,  but his plea fell on deaf ears. Abijah then rallied his own troops with a phrase which has since become famous: "God is with us as our leader." As per the Bible his elite warriors fended off a pincer movement to rout Jeroboam's troops—killing 500,000 of them.

Jeroboam was crippled by this severe defeat to Abijah and posed little threat to the Kingdom of Judah for the rest of his reign.  He also lost the towns of Bethel, Jeshanah, and Ephron, with their surrounding villages.  Bethel was an important center for Jeroboam's Golden Calf cult (which used non-Levites as priests),  located on Israel's southern border, which had been allocated to the Tribe of Benjamin by Joshua, as was Ephron, which is believed to be the Ophrah that was allocated to the Tribe of Benjamin by Joshua.

Rehoboam

Rehoboam was, according to the Hebrew Bible, initially king of the United Monarchy of Israel.  He was king of the Kingdom of Judah, or southern kingdom.  He was a son of Solomon and a grandson of David.  His mother was Naamah the Ammonite.  As a result of an Egyptian incursion to control the Philistine coast, the Kingdom of Judah became a vassal state of Egypt.

Solomon's wisdom and power were not sufficient to prevent the rebellion of several of his border cities. Damascus under Rezon secured its independence of Solomon; and Jeroboam, a superintendent of works, his ambition stirred by the words of the prophet Ahijah (I Kings 9:29-40), fled to Egypt.  Thus before the death of Solomon the apparently unified kingdom of David began to disintegrate.  With Damascus independent and a powerful man of Ephraim, the most prominent of the Ten Tribes, awaiting his opportunity, the future of Solomon's kingdom became dubious.

Conventional Bible chronology dates the start of Rehoboam's reign to the mid 10th century BC.  His reign is described in 1 Kings 12 and 14:21-31 and in 2 Chronicles 10-12 In the Hebrew Bible, Rehoboam was 41 years old when he ascended the throne.

Coronation and Succession

The assembly for the coronation of Solomon's successor, Rehoboam, was called at Shechem, the one sacredly historic city within the territory of the Ten Tribes.  Before the coronation took place the assembly requested certain reforms in the policy followed by Rehoboam's father, Solomon. The reforms requested would materially reduce the royal exchequer and hence its power to continue the magnificence of Solomon's court.  The older men counseled Rehoboam at least to speak to the people in a civil manner (it is not clear whether they counseled him to accept the demands).  However, the new king sought the advice from the people he had grown up with, who advised the king to show no weakness to the people, and to tax them even more, which Rehoboam did.

He proclaimed to the people:

"Whereas my father laid upon you a heavy yoke, so shall I add tenfold thereto. Whereas my father chastised (tortured) you with whips, so shall I chastise you with scorpions.  For my littlest finger is thicker than my father's loins; and your backs, which bent like reeds at my father's touch, shall break like straws at my own touch."  2 Chr. 10:11

Although the ostensible reason was the heavy burden laid upon Israel because of Solomon's great outlay for buildings and for luxury of all kinds, the other reasons include the historical opposition between the north and the south.  The two sections had acted independently until David, by his victories, succeeded in uniting all the tribes, though the Ephraimic jealousy was ever ready to develop into open revolt.  Religious considerations were also operative. The building of the Temple was a severe blow for the various sanctuaries scattered through the land, and the priests of the high places probably supported the revolt.  Josephus (Ant., VIII., viii.) makes the rebels exclaim: " We leave to Rehoboam the Temple his father built."

Jeroboam and the people rebelled, with the ten northern tribes breaking away and forming a separate kingdom. The new breakaway kingdom continued to be called Kingdom of Israel, and was also known as Samaria, Ephraim or the northern Kingdom.  The realm Rehoboam was left with was called Kingdom of Judah.

Biblical narrative

Conventional Bible chronology dates the start of Rehoboam's reign to the mid 10th century BC. His reign is described in 1 Kings 12 and 14:21-31 and in 2 Chronicles 10-12 In the Hebrew Bible, Rehoboam was 41 years old when he ascended the throne.[1]

The assembly for the coronation of Solomon's successor, Rehoboam, was called at Shechem, the one sacredly historic city within the territory of the Ten Tribes. Before the coronation took place the assembly requested certain reforms in the policy followed by Rehoboam's father, Solomon. The reforms requested would materially reduce the royal exchequer and hence its power to continue the magnificence of Solomon's court.

Although the ostensible reason was the heavy burden laid upon  Israel because of Solomon's great outlay for buildings and for luxury of all kinds; other reasons include the historical opposition between the north and the south.  The two sections had acted independently until David, by his victories, succeeded in uniting all the tribes, though the Ephraimitic jealousy was ever ready to develop into open revolt.  Religious considerations were also operative.  The building of the Temple was a severe blow for the various sanctuaries scattered through the land, and the priests of the high places probably supported the revolt. Josephus (Ant., VIII., viii. ) makes the rebels exclaim: "  We leave to Rehoboam the Temple his father built."

Jeroboam and the people rebelled, with the ten northern tribes breaking away and forming a separate kingdom. The new breakaway kingdom continued to be called Kingdom of Israel, and was also known as Samaria, Ephraim or the northern Kingdom.  The realm Rehoboam was left with was called the Kingdom of Judah.

Scott Vaught  

Russell Walker

www.christdescendedfromjoseph.com