Old Testament History Books New Testament History Books New Testament Epistles Old Testament Poetry & Wisdom Old Testament  Old Testament Prophets Exodus & Conquest The Patriarchs The Beginnings Judges & Ruth The Monarchy A Divided Kingdom The Exile Israel’s Return The ‘Silent’ Years From the division to the time of Elisha From Jehoram of Judah to the fall of Jerusalem

A Divided Kingdom

[1Kings 12-2Kings 25; 2Chr 10-36]

Rehoboam and Jeroboam

[1Kings 12-14; 2Chr 10-12] When Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, goes to Schechem to be made king, Jeroboam and all the people ask him to reduce their taxes as a condition of them accepting him as king. Rehoboam asks the people to return in three days, during which time he first consults the old men, then the young men. He rejects the advice of the old men and accepts that of the younger, which is to increase the burden on Israel with harsher penalties. When the people return and hear Rehoboam’s reply, all Israel rebel against him, return to their homes and make Jeroboam their king. Following the murder of one of his men, Rehoboam flees to Jerusalem where Judah remains faithful to him. Rehoboam assembles an army to fight Israel but is forbidden to do so by God. Instead he fortifies several cities in Judah and Benjamin for his defence. Now Jeroboam creates a system of idolatrous worship, forbidding Levites and priests from carrying out their duties. Rehoboam’s position is strengthened when the Levites and priests, followed by others seeking to worship God, come to Jerusalem, and three years of peace follow. We are told Rehoboam is to have eighteen wives, sixty concubines, twenty- eight sons and sixty daughters. A man of God is sent to speak against Jeroboam’s altar and prophesies, providing a sign to confirm his authority, which include the drying up of Jeroboam’s hand. When his hand is restored by the prophet through prayer, Jeroboam offers him hospitality, but it is refused because God had charged him not to eat or drink there, and he leaves. An older prophet hears of this, goes after him, and through deceit brings him back to his own home for refreshment. Because of this disobedience, the younger prophet is later slain by a lion and buried in the older prophet’s sepulchre. Despite these events and the prophecy given, Jeroboam continues in his idolatrous ways, to which judgement will eventually come upon him. Rehoboam and all Judah begin to disregard God’s laws, and in the fifth year of his reign God permits Shishak, king of Egypt, to invade Judah, taking the fenced cities. God sends a prophet to tell Rehoboam and his princes the cause of the invasion, and they consequently humble themselves before God, but they are reduced to servitude and their riches taken by Shishak. Jeroboam’s son becomes ill, so he sends his wife in disguise to the prophet Ahijah to determine his future, but Ahijah prophesies the ruin of Jeroboam’s house. Jeroboam reigns for a total of twenty-two years in Israel. Rehoboam reigns for seventeen years in Jerusalem but has continuous conflicts with Jeroboam. He dies at the age of fifty- eight and is buried with David and Solomon.

Kings Abijam (Abijah) and Asa of Judah

[1 Kings 15:1-24; 2 Chr 13-16] [The name Abijam is primarily used in Kings and Abijah in Chronicles] Abijam succeeds Rehoboam and reigns for just three years. His character is more like that of his father than David. During his reign he has a victorious battle with Jeroboam. Asa succeeds Abijam and is of much better character with a heart towards God throughout his reign. He begins a process of reformation in Judah. An army of Ethiopians comes against him, but his trust in God gives him victory over them, after which he is encouraged by a prophet to continue with the work of reformation. He removes all the idols and restores dedicated things to the temple, although he fails to get rid of some of the other places where idols are worshipped. Peace follows until the thirty-sixth year of Judah when Baasha, now king of Israel, takes Ramah and begins to build it as a fortification. Asa makes a league with the king of Syria to create a diversion in Israel, causing Baasha to leave off building. Asa’s reliance on Syria rather than God provokes God’s wrath, and he is reproved through the prophet Hanani. This angers Asa, and so he imprisons Hanani and oppresses some of the people. Three years on, Asa has heavily diseased feet and dies two years later. He is buried in a sepulchre he had made for himself in the city of David.

Kings Nadab, Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Omri and Ahab of Israel

[1 Kings 15:25-16:34] Now Nadab had reigned for nearly two years before Baasha and was sinful, like his father before him. Baasha conspired against Nadab and killed him, then reigned in his place and destroyed the house of Jeroboam, fulfilling Ahijah’s prophesy. Following Baasha’s death, his son Elah reigns for two years, then is killed by Zimri, one of his captains, who then reigns for a mere seven days. The people are then divided between Tibni and Omri, Omri’s supporters prevailing and making him king, but Omri is worse than all the kings who preceded him. His son Ahab then reigns for twenty-two years and is more evil in God’s sight than all the kings before him. He marries Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal the Zidonianite king, and then serves Baal, building a house and altar to Baal in Samaria. Ahab also permits the rebuilding of Jericho, which had been forbidden by Joshua.

Elijah in the reign of Ahab of Israel

[1 Kings 17:1-22:40] Now Elijah the Tishbite, of whom nothing has been said up to this point, comes to Ahab and prophesies that it will not rain for three years. Elijah is then sent by God to the brook Cherith where he is fed by ravens, then to a widow at Zarephat where he, the widow and her son are sustained for a long time on a handful of meal and a little oil in a cruse. After some time the widow’s son falls sick and dies, but through Elijah’s prayer is restored to life. Elijah is directed by God to go to Ahab. On the way he meets Obadiah, whom he charges to tell Ahab where he is so that he might come to meet him. When they meet, Elijah tells Ahab to bring together all Israel and the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel. There he challenges them to prepare a sacrifice to Baal without fire, as he would to God, to see whose god would accept it. Following their failure to have their sacrifice accepted, and much mocking, Elijah prepares his sacrifice without fire, even soaking it all with water. It is then consumed by fire from God, proving to the people that Jehovah is the true God. He then has all Baal’s prophets slain. Rain then follows a few days later in response to Elijah’s prayer. Ahab rides to Jezreel, but Elijah, strengthened by God, runs the sixteen miles from Mount Carmel to Jezreel, arriving ahead of Ahab. At Jezreel, Ahab tells Jezebel of all that Elijah had done, with the consequence that Elijah has to flee following Jezebel’s threats to his life. After a day’s journey into the desert, God provides Elijah with food to sustain him for the forty-day journey to Mount Horeb, where God has directed him to go. At Mount Horeb, God instructs Elijah to anoint Hazael king over Syria, Jehu king over Israel, and Elisha to be prophet in his place. Elijah finds Elisha and throws his mantle over him, after which Elisha follows Elijah and becomes his servant. The king of Syria wages war against Samaria and lays siege to it, demanding Ahab’s wives, children and riches be delivered to him, to which the elders tell Ahab not to consent. A prophet comes to Ahab and directs him to go against the Syrian army, which he does and defeats them. However, the Syrian army returns a year later but is still defeated by the Israelites, despite them being heavily outnumbered. The king of Syria then pleads to Ahab and a covenant of peace is made between them. A prophet, first disguised as a wounded soldier, uses an analogy to show Ahab he has disobeyed God by covenanting with the king of Syria. Revealing himself, he prophesies Ahab’s death and the demise of his people. Ahab then returns to Samaria somewhat discouraged. In time, Ahab takes a liking to a vineyard belonging to Naboth, a Jezreelite, because of its proximity to his palace. He offers him another in its place or payment to its value. Naboth refuses and Ahab is saddened to the extent that he takes to his bed and doesn’t eat. Jezebel then concocts a plan by which Naboth is falsely convicted of blasphemy and put to death, allowing Ahab to take possession of the vineyard. Elijah is then sent to Ahab by God to pronounce judgements on him, Jezebel, and all his family. However, Ahab humbles himself and God consequently defers the punishments to his son’s days. Following three years of peace with the king of Syria, Ahab chooses to go to war against him to regain Ramothgilead, and persuades Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, to join forces with him. Ahab first takes advice from his four hundred prophets, but is not satisfied with this and a true prophet, Micaiah, is sent for. Micaiah implies by his words that Ahab will be killed and explains how he has been deceived by his prophets. Micaiah is struck on the cheek by Zedekiah, one of the false prophets, and is ordered by Ahab to be imprisoned. When they go into battle, Jehoshaphat is put in danger by wearing Ahab’s robes, but it is Ahab who is wounded and dies.

King Jehoshaphat of Judah

[1 Kings 22:41-50; 2 Chr 17-21:1] Jehoshaphat has been a good king in Judah, walking in the ways of the Lord, bringing about a reformation of their religion and arranging for instruction for his people in God’s law. Neighbouring nations show him respect, his kingdom is fortified and his army strengthened. But when Jehoshaphat returns from a battle at Ramothgilead, he is reproved by a prophet for aligning himself with the ungodly Ahab. After this reproach, he increases his acts of reformation, appoints judges throughout Judah, and appoints priests and Levites in Jerusalem for the same purpose, charging them to perform their duties faithfully. Having been told of an army coming against Judah, consisting of Moabites, Ammonites and others, Jehoshaphat proclaims a fast throughout Judah and prays before his people for God’s deliverance. They are immediately assured of victory by a prophet, bringing about much worship and praise. God causes their enemies to destroy one another, and the people of Judah are able to recover much spoil. Jehoshaphat and his people return to Jerusalem to rejoice and praise God for delivering them. Jehoshaphat later joins with Ahaziah, a wicked king of Israel, to build ships, but is reproved by a prophet. The ships are damaged and not able to be used. Apart from the two episodes with Ahab and Ahaziah, Jehoshaphat has been a godly king who reigned for twenty-five years in Jerusalem. He is buried with his fathers in the city of David, and is succeeded by his son Jehoram.

King Ahaziah of Israel

[1 Kings 22:51-2 Kings 1:18] After Jehoshaphat had reigned in Judah for seventeen years, and Moab rebelled against Israel following the death of Ahab, Ahaziah begins to reign in Israel. Ahaziah has a fall in his home, which causes him to become sick. He sends messengers to enquire of the god of Ekron to determine whether he will recover from the sickness. They are prevented from completing their task by Elijah, who tells them their king will die of the sickness for attempting to enquire of a heathen god. When Ahaziah perceives the man who stopped the messengers was Elijah, he twice sends a captain with fifty men to fetch him, but they are consumed by fire from heaven. Ahaziah then sends a third company of men, but this time God instructs Elijah to return with them, and so his message is given directly to Ahaziah who subsequently dies after reigning for just two years.

Elisha in the reign of Joram of Israel

[2Kings 2:1-8:15] Despite being asked not to, Elisha follows Elijah to several places until they cross the Jordan, Elijah having parted the waters with his mantle. Here Elijah asks Elisha what he can do for him, to which Elisha asks for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. Elijah is then taken to heaven by God and his authority passes to Elisha. He divides the Jordan and passes over on dry land, witnessed by the prophets from Jericho. Concerned that Elijah had come to some harm, the prophets persuade Elisha to allow fifty men to go and search for him, which they do in vain. The prophets then ask Elisha to heal the waters at Jericho, which he does before leaving and returning to Samaria via Bethel and Carmel. On the way to Bethel, Elisha is mocked by some youths who he then curses in God’s name, and forty-two of them are killed by bears. Concerning Moab’s rebellion, this takes place when Ahab’s son Joram reigns in Israel following Ahaziah’s death. Joram is an evil man in God’s sight, though not as bad as his father was. He gathers an army and enlists the help of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, and the king of Edom. After seven days’ journey towards the battle, the armies become distressed through lack of water, both for them and their cattle they have with them. Fearing defeat, they approach Elisha who, for the sake of Jehoshaphat only, is able to promise water will be available in the valley and that God would be with them in defeating the Moabites. Both these come to pass and, in defeat, the Moabite king shows his depravity by offering his son as a burnt offering. Elisha performs a number of miracles recorded over the following years: the multiplying of a poor widow’s pot of oil for payment of her husband’s debts; providing a son for a Shunammite woman who had been very hospitable to him, and later raising her son to life when he had died; the cleansing of a deadly pottage made of wild gourds; and his feeding of one hundred men with just twenty barley loaves. Elisha comes to hear of a Syrian Naaman who has leprosy. He had been sent to the king of Israel by the king of Syria to be cured. Elisha sends for Naaman and instructs him to dip himself in the Jordan seven times, but Naaman was expecting an instant cure and leaves in anger. However, his servants persuade him to do as Elisha had instructed, which he does and is cured. Naaman returns to Elisha to offer him a present, but it is refused. Then Elisha’s servant Gehazi goes after Naaman and lies to obtain the gifts for himself, for which he is punished with leprosy. Elisha is requested to go with some prophets’ disciples to Jordan where they will build a small community. Whilst cutting some wood, one loses his axe in the water and Elisha causes it to float, enabling it to be found. The king of Syria wars against Israel, but each time he counsels with his servants concerning where they might encamp, Elisha is able to forewarn the king of Israel. The king of Syria thinks he has a spy within his household, but he is told by his servants that Elisha is able to hear what he discusses in secret, so he sends an army to capture Elisha. When the Syrian army is encamped nearby, angels are among them, but they are not seen by Elisha’s servant until Elisha prays to God to reveal them to him. When the Syrian army comes to attack, they are smitten with blindness in answer to Elisha’s prayer, and led to Samaria before their sight is restored. Here they are given plenty to eat and drink before being sent back to Syria in peace. Syria ceases to war against Israel for some time. However, with the passing of time Syria goes to besiege Samaria resulting in a great famine, so great as to bring about a case of cannibalism. The king, hearing of this, blames Elisha. Intent on having his head he sends a messenger to him, but regrets the decision and prevents the execution. Elisha then prophesies there will be plenty of food available in Samaria from the next day. One of the king’s lords doesn’t believe this will happen and so is told by Elisha he would not benefit from it. That night four lepers enter the Syrian camp but find it deserted. This is because the Syrians had thought they heard the sounds of an invading force, and had fled, leaving their possessions and food. The lepers report this to the king’s household and the story is investigated and confirmed. The Syrian camp is consequently spoiled, providing plenty of food as Elisha had prophesied. The unbelieving lord is put in charge at the city gate but is trampled by the crowds. Consequently, he doesn’t partake of the food as told him by Elisha. Elisha speaks to the Shunammite woman (whose son he had restored to life) and tells her to go to sojourn in Philistine for seven years to avoid a great famine. After seven years she returns from Philistine asking the king for the return of her house and land. When the king hears from her about the great things Elisha had done, he restores her home and land to her, including all the fruit her land would have provided while she was away. Now Elisha is at Damascus when King Benhadad of Syria becomes sick and sends Hazeal, the captain of his guard, with presents to enquire whether he would be able to recover from his sickness. Elisha tells Hazael that Benhadad would be able to recover but will die anyway. Elisha weeps and tells Hazael that he will be king over Syria and exercise great cruelty in Israel. Hazael returns to Benhadad and tells him Elisha said he would recover, but the next day he takes a thick cloth dipped in water and smothers the king. Hazael then reigns over Syria.

Hierarchical Précis