Clarence E. Mason's "OLD
The History of Israel: Part
6b of 9
THE DIVIDED KINGDOM:
THE NORTHERN KINGDOM
TO THE TIME OF OMRI (Period 1, Northern), and
THE SOUTHERN KINGDOM
THROUGH THE TIME OF JEHOSHAPHAT (Period 1, Southern)
E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of
- DIVIDED KINGDOM (I)
- THE NORTHERN KINGDOM TO
THE TIME OF OMRI (Period 1, Northern)
- Jeroboam I (22 years)
Solomon’s reign, although it brought great wealth to Israel, was
also a time of great taxation. Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, refused to
promise a reduction of taxes. Jeroboam returned from exile in Egypt,
and led the revolt. He was a self-made man with real ability; he carefully
laid the foundation of the new nation. He is the only important king
in the first period of Israelite history, a period of 50 years which
saw the northern kingdom established. (During the Divided Kingdom
(henceforth abbreviated D.K.), the term “Israel” refers to the northern
kingdom alone; although both before and after the D.K. the term usually
refers to the whole Hebrew people.
In judging Israelite (and some Judean) kings, it is customary to state
their religious positions, G standing for good, E for evil. In respect
to evil, Scripture differentiates between the sin of Jeroboam ben
Nebat, and that of Ahab (1 Ki. 12:26-33; 16:31-33). Jeroboam’s sin
consisted in trying to represent Jehovah the God of Israel by an image,
a breech of the second commandment. Since God refuses such worship,
Jeroboam’s cult was idolatrous. Ahab’s sin (via Jezebel, his Phoenician
queen) was the importation of a false god, the Tyrian baal—one of
the Canaanite deities (see note, p. 30). This revival of Canaanite
worship in Israel was met and defeated by the vigorous campaigns of
Elijah and Elisha. Ahab’s sin is considered worse than Jeroboam’s.
- Nadab ben Jeroboam
(2 years); unimportant. (The word “ben” means “son of.”)
- Baasha (24 years);
an usurper. Note his cruelty.
- Elah ben Baasha (2
- Zimri (7 days);
After a reign of one week, Omri contested the throne and Zimri committed
suicide. A three or four year struggle between Omri and Tibni followed.
- THE SOUTHERN KINGDOM THROUGH
THE TIME OF JEHOSHAPHAT (Period 1, Southern)
- Rehoboam (17 years)
Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, was not a capable statesman. His lack
of political foresight cost him the better part of his kingdom. After
Jeroboam I’s revolt, only Judah and Benjamin, together with most of
the Levites, remained loyal to the Davidic regime in Jerusalem. Although
Judah (as the southern kingdom was called because of the dominant
Judah tribe) had Jerusalem, the temple, and the Davidic dynasty, it
was small and usually weak when compared with Israel.
Rehoboam attempted to bring back the ten revolting tribes by force,
a policy followed by his immediate successors, but was unsuccessful.
Indeed, he was greatly weakened by the plundering of Jerusalem by
Shishak, a Libyan soldier who had usurped the throne of Egypt. Shishak
records this raid on one of the walls of the great temple at Karnak
on the Nile and there also claims to have raided Israelite cities
as well. Egypt was at this time in its final decline. The burial chamber
of Shishak was discovered in northern Egypt in 1938. It showed faint
glory when compared with the great Pharaohs of earlier days.
- Abijah (3 years)
Continued his father’s policy of war with Israel.
- Asa (41 years)
A good king, he instituted many reforms and even was able to persuade
some Israelites (no doubt a pious remnant) to come over to Judah to
keep the Feast of Weeks and make a covenant with the Judeans. He was
not able, however, to persuade the people to cease worshiping the
Lord at their own high places. Indeed, this was almost never accomplished
by any king (SRB, p. 408, n. 1). Asa fortified his cities, no doubt
especially the cities on his northern border, for he also fought
intermittently with Israel.
Note Asa’s reliance on Syrian help against Israel (2 Chr. 16:1-10).
This precedent of getting help from one foreign nation against an
enemy nation (instead of trusting God) was widely followed during
the whole D.K. period. It was always condemned by God and helped to
lead to Judah’s downfall.
- Jehoshaphat (25 years)
Another good king. His reign of revival brings to an end the first
period of Judean history—the first decline (under Rehoboam, Abijah)
and revival (Asa, Jehoshaphat). Note that “decline” and “revival”
refer to the spiritual life of the nation, although often political
revival followed spiritual awakening (2 Chr. 7:14).
Jehoshaphat’s reign was one of revival and of great prosperity. His
greatest mistake was his league with Ahab. Jehoshaphat and Ahab of
Israel inaugurated a new policy—that of peace and cooperation between
Judah and Israel—and sealed this policy by the marriage of Ahab’s
daughter Athaliah to Jehoshaphat’s son Jehoram. The unfortunate effects
of this union, and also of Jehoshaphat’s constant cooperation with
wicked Ahab, will be noted later. Jehoshaphat tried to revive the
Ezion-geber operations which Solomon had used so successfully, but
failed in the attempt.
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