A Divided Kingdom

The division of the tribes

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 Jereboam their king. Following the murder of one of his men, Rehoboam flees to Jerusalem where Judah remains faithful to him.

Kings of Israel

[1Kings 12-2Kings 17; 2Chr 10-12]

King Jeroboam

[1Kings 12:25-14:20] Following the division of the Kingdom, Jeroboam creates a system of idolatrous worship, forbidding Levites and priests from carrying out their duties. Consequently, Levites and priests, followed by others from all tribes seeking to worship God, go to Jerusalem. It is by this migration of people that the twelve tribes of Israel are preserved. A man of God is sent to speak against Jereboam’s altar and prophesies, providing a sign to confirm his authority, which included 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. 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.

Kings Nadab, Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Tibni, Omri and Ahab

[1Kings 15:25-22:40] 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 making him king, but Omri is worse than all the kings that 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 reigns of Ahab and Joram (Jehoram)

[1Kings 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, the governor of Ahab’s house, 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 then 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 Jesreelite, because of its proximity to his palace, and 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 went into battle, Jehoshaphat is put in danger by wearing Ahab’s robes, but it is Ahab that is wounded and dies .

King Ahaziah

[1Kings 22:51- 2Kings 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 that 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 2:19-8:15] 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 toward 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; of 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, and had been sent to the king of Israel by the king of Syria to be cured. He 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 come to attack, they are smitten with blindness in answer to Elisha’s prayer, and are 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, and intent on having his head 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, and consequently 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 of 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 Benhadad, king of Syria, becomes sick and sends Hazeal, the captain of his guard, with presents to enquire whether he would have been 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. Elisha had become known as the prophet of Israel, an office he held for around sixty years. It is thought that Obadiah might also have prophesied during Joram’s reign, but simply focusing on Edom.

King Jehu

[2Kings 9-10] One of the prophets’ sons is sent by Elisha to anoint Jehu as king of Israel, and to order him to kill and destroy the whole house of Ahab. Jehu acquaints his captains with the instruction and sets out for Jezreel where he slays Joram, king of Israel, Ahaziah, king of Judah, then Jezebel, whose fate is that dogs should eat her flesh as foretold by the Lord. Jehu writes letters to the rulers of Jezreel, the elders, and those who brought up Ahab’s sons, telling them to select a king from amongst his sons. But knowing the dangers of doing such a thing, they refuse, but with full submission to Jehu. He then sends a second letter ordering them to slay Ahab’s seventy sons, which they do and deliver their heads to Jezreel as instructed. Jehu then goes to Samaria where he comes across the brethren of Ahaziah, king of Judah, at the shearing house where he has his guards take them captive and slay them. When leaving the shearing house, Jehu meets Jehonadab and invites him to join him and be a witness to his zeal for God. He then enters Samaria where he slays all those remaining connected with Ahab’s household and then, after contriving to bring them together, all the worshippers of Baal. The images of Baal are also destroyed, but Jehu does nothing about the golden calves in Bethel through which the people of Dan worship God. Because of his work in rooting out the evil of Baal, God tells Jehu, through a prophet, that his sons would rule over Israel for four generations. But Jehu’s heart is not completely with God and Hazeal, king of Syria, afflicts all those in the coasts of Israel, as foretold by Elisha. Jehu reigns over Israel from Samaria for twenty eight years and is buried in Samaria.

Kings Jehoahaz and Jehoash (also called Joash)

[2Kings 13] In the twenty third year of Joash king of Judah’s reign, Jehoahaz, the son of Jehu king of Israel, begins to reign. Jehoahaz is a wicked king, bringing the wrath of God upon Israel through the oppression of the Syrians. Jehoahaz dies after reigning seventeen years and is buried in Samaria, where Omri and the kings he descended from him were buried. Jehoahaz’s son Joash now reigns in Israel. He is another wicked king, as was his father before him. During his reign he challenged by Amaziah, king of Judah, and a battle follows in which Amaziah is defeated. Treasure is taken from the temple and the king’s house before Joash returns to Samaria with some hostages [2Kings 14:8-14] . Now Elisha has fallen sick and King Jehoash of Israel comes and weeps over him, at which time Elisha foretells Jehoash’s limited victories over the Syrians. Elisha then dies of his sickness. Jehoash later defeats the Syrians three times to recover cities previously taken by them during his father’s reign. Jehoash reigns for sixteen years and is buried in Samaria. It is during Jehoash’s reign (thought to be the latter part of his reign) that Jonah was called to prophesy to Ninevah and bring about their repentance.

King Jeroboam II

[2Kings 14:23-29] Jeroboam, the son of Jehoash king of Israel and the second king to have that name, begins his reign when Amaziah had been reigning for fifteen years. He is yet another evil king in God’s eyes, like those before him and like the first Jeroboam. Nevertheless, God uses Jerobaom to restore lands bordering Syria that had previously been taken by Israel’s enemies. This was prophesied by Jonah, though not recorded in his book. It’s possibly around this time, during Jeroboam’s reign, that the prophet Jonah reluctantly warns the Ninevites to repent. Amos, who was neither a priest nor a trained prophet, also prophesied during the reign of Jeroboam II, citing judgements on surrounding nations and Israel, and prophesying Israel’s final restoration. After Amos, Hosea began to prophesy during the reign of Jeroboam II and through to King Hoshea. His theme was based on the relationship between God and His people, as Groom and bride.

Kings Zechariah, Shallum, Menahem, Pekahiah and Pekah

[2Kings 15:8-31] Zechariah succeeds his father Jeroboam as king of Israel. He too is an ungodly king and only reigns for six months before Shallum, son of Jabesh, conspires against him, kills him and reigns in his place. Shallum only lasts a single month as king in Samaria as Menahem, the son of Gadi, comes to Samaria and kills him, then reigns in his place. There are people from his own city and those nearby that do not accept Menahem as king, so he deals harshly with them, including the barbaric slaughter of all pregnant women. The Assyrians rise against Israel, but their king is bribed by Menahem with some of his own money and money from the wealthy men of Israel. The bribe is accepted by the king of Assyria and they leave Israel. Menahem reigns for ten years in Samaria before his death. His son Pekahiah succeeds him but he is another godless king and reigns just two years before one of his captains, Pekah, conspires against him, assassinates him and takes over the kingship. Pekah reigns over Israel for twenty years as another godless king. During his reign, the Assyrians invade much of Israel and take captive around half of the Israelites. Hoshea then conspires against Pekah, kills him, and reigns in his place.

Hoshea, last king of Israel when Israel is exiled

[2Kings 17] Hoshea is the last king of Israel, not a God fearing man, but said to be not as bad as his predecessors. The king of Assyria rises against Hoshea, prevails and makes Hoshea his tributary. In time, Hoshea turns to the king of Egypt for help, but the king of Assyria becomes aware of the conspiracy when Hoshea stops paying him taxes. He invades Israel and lays siege to Samaria for three years, imprisoning Hoshea. After three years, all the Israelites are taken captive and are resettled in various cities in Assyria and Medes, ending Hoshea’s nine year reign. And so it is, after many years of gross sins and idolatry from the first Jerobaom’s reign, God allows Israel to be taken away captive by Assyria who then resettle people from other countries in the land.
Hierarchical Précis
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 Northern Kings Israel Southern Kings Judah