GOVERNMENT 22 - Political Leaders: The kings of Judah and Israel

Elements from Landa Cope: God, the Bible & political justice

  • When reading about Israel’s golden times under David and partially under Solomon, we may think that God has made a mistake in the disapproving of a monarchy. It seems the monarchy has accomplished so much: Israel is the nation God promised them they would be in the wilderness, aren’t they?
  • The nation of Israel reached the zenith of its’ development politically and economically in Solomon’s day. If the Messiah had come at this point in history we would have had a very clear – and wrong – idea of how to disciple a nation politically.
  • We would focus our attention on a strong but benevolent sovereign leader that would develop the nation by giving direction and making the people do what is right.
  • Political power would be viewed as a top down institution and discipleship would be a “take over” strategy.
  • But Jesus did not come in 931 BC and Solomon is not the end of Israel’s history.
  • God is not finished making His point yet. We have 38 kings to go, 19 in Northern Israel and 19 in Southern Judah.
  • Israel wanted a King like all the other nations around them. In spite of God’s discouragement, they make the choice to move their system of governance from a federation of independent tribes to a sovereign monarchy.
  • For three generations of political leaders it looks as though God has made a mistake, because the nation prospers. But God has not been in error. When you move political power up you can have rapid development but decline can come even faster.
How a monarchy breaks the principles of Deuteronomy 1:13

Government is not elective

  • people have no power to decide > no power to replace bad leadership
  • bloodline decides … first-birth, father’s preference, high officers, intrigue
  • fosters exclusivity, spoiling, hinders healthy competition
  • fosters intra-family competition, intrigue, power-games, conspiracies, assassinations
  • if a leader is disastrous, there is no good path left to demote him, only violence
    Skilled, wise and reputed individuals?
  • leadership not by skill, wisdom, reputation, but birth … skill is accidental, at best
  • no meritocracy > bad leadership
  • luxury and exclusivity will spoil the upbringing of the new king
  • Intrigue and power-games seem to be more effective than good character


Government is not representative

  • Needs of the people are less heard, understood or addressed
  • More inefficiency, neglect, bad rule, discontentment, injustice, less security
  • feeling of powerlessness, less security, loss of hope, openness towards radical “solutions”, eventually rebellion
Rehoboam, King of Judah                                       931-913 BC                                          17 years                       age: 41-58
  • We are not told why or how Rehoboam is chosen from Solomon’s many sons to lead Israel but “Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had come to Shechem to make him king” (1 Kin 12:1). So far so good: there is consensus & no violence surrounding the succession. Rehoboam legitimately is the new king of Israel.
  • Jeroboam who had earlier been given a prophecy by prophet Ahijah that he will be king over 10 tribes of Israel, is called back from exile in Egypt to take the people’s labor disputes to the new King (1 Kin 12:2).
  • As God had predicted by Samuel, the monarchy quickly has become a burden and the people quite humbly ask for relief “Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke.” (1 Kin 12:4).
  • The new king Rehoboam asks his older advisers, who counsel him to listen to request and “if you will be a servant to this people today, they will be your servants forever” (1 Kin 12:7). They still reveal some understanding as to what government’s function is and its need for representation, but more in the line of the ‘benevolent tyrant’.
  • Rehoboam’s younger advisers, having grown up like Solomon in the bling of Solomon’s golden times and the success of the monarchy, advise a harsh, strong hand, threatening people into submission. The people have no voice, as far as these young advisers are concerned, the only safe way to rule is top-down leadership (1 Kin 12:10-11).
  • Rehoboam, obviously not having learned from his father’s wise days, listens to his younger advisers, rejects Israel’s request and arrogantly threatens to inflict an even heavier yoke of presumably both taxes and forced labor (1 Kin 12:14-15). Rehoboam will command … or will he?
  • “When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, they answered the king: “What share do we have in David, what part in Jesse’s son? To your tents, O Israel! 
Look after your own house, O David!” So the Israelites went home. But as for the Israelites who were living in the towns of Judah, Rehoboam still ruled over them.” (1 Kin 12:16-17). A taunt song, going back to the attempted rebellion of Benjaminite Sheba against David at the time of fleeing Absalom (2 Sam 20:1), is back in full force, this time in earnest, and shared by ‘all Israel’.
  • Feeling in no way heard nor represented, Israel rejects Rehoboam’s government.
  • The damage is done, irreversibly, the kingdom divides. Judah (with Simeon, probably Benjamin included) remains loyal to the house of David (1 Kin 12:17), the northern ten tribes secede, as God predicted as judgment to Solomon (1 Kin 11:11-13) and as promised to Jeroboam (1 Kin 11:31-32).
  • In his arrogance (still not taking the people serious) Rehoboam sends his forced labor task master Adoram. Israel stones him to death, though Rehoboam, manages to flee (1 Kin 12:18).
  • Rehoboam musters an army to fight Jeroboam and the Northern tribes, still operating off a ‘control’ and ‘top-down’ mindset. The prophet Shemaiah tells him not to fight this (civil) war as the division is brought about from God. Rehoboam is wise enough – or at least by now fearful enough – to desist (1 Kin 12:21-24).
  • Why would God split the very kingdom He has been promising to establish? What is the danger He is trying to avert? Would Israel have dissolved into total destruction even more rapidly if there had not been a division of power? Maybe God uses the threat of civil war to warn and shake up both nations, to call them back to himself.
  • With war a possibility, Rehoboam now fortifies many cities of Judah, strengthening, arming and stocking up fortresses (2 Chr 11:5-11).
  • After the manner of his father, he takes eighteen three wives and 60 concubines and has 28 sons and 60 daughters. He distributes his sons though all the districts of Judah and Benjamin and equips them with provisions and wives (2 Chr 11:18-23).
  • For three years Rehoboam “in the way of David and Solomon” (2 Chr 11:17). Jeroboam having founded Israel on the idolatrous calf-cult of Dan and Bethel, many God-fearing Levites and priests “those who had set their hearts to seek the LORD God” leave their lands in the North and move to the South. This mass exodus of faithful people strengthens the kingdom of Judah and the leadership of Rehoboam (2 Chr 11:13-17).
  • “When the rule of Rehoboam was established and he grew strong, he abandoned the law of the LORD, he and all Israel with him” (1 Chr 12:1). It seems Rehoboam, scared from the division and Adoram’s murder, shapes up and sees blessing because of the influence of the godly remnant from the North. But his heart isn’t changed and when feeling more safe, he lapses into idolatry, and many with him. Probably he was brought up with idolatry, his mother being the Ammonite Naamah (2 Chr 12:13). The summary in both Kings and Chronicles is “he did evil, for he did not seek the LORD” (2 Chr 12:14). He builds high places, pillars, sacred poles. Male temple prostitutes ply their trade. “They committed all the abomination of the nations that the LORD drove out before the people of Israel” (1 Kin 14:23-24, 2 Chr 12:5).
  • God in his grace gives Judah and its king a wake up call in Rehoboam’s fifth year, 2 years after his apostasy: For the first time in well over 40 years Judah is invaded. The Egyptian Pharaoh Shishak attacks Judah, conquers all the fortified cities, breaches Jerusalem and carries off treasures from the temple & palace (1 Kin 14:25-28, 2 Chr 12:4).
  • God, through prophet Shemaiah makes it abundantly clear what the problem is: “You abandoned me, so I have abandoned you to the hand of Shishak” (2 Chr 12:5).
  • In response the officers & the king sort of humble themselves, and God responds by granting “some deliverance … Nevertheless they shall be his servants, so that they may know the difference between serving me and serving the kingdom’s of other land.” (2 Chr 12:7-8). Whenever they actually cry out to God, he responds.
  • Rehoboam replaces the stolen gold shields of Solomon with bronze ones (1 Kin 14:27), an attempt at keeping up the appearances, but how deep did repentance go?
  • This theme of ransacking the temple (the symbol of the presence of God) and the palace will persist throughout Israel’s history. They compromise spiritually, they are compromised politically.
  • All the days of Rehoboam there are continual civil wars between Judah and Israel (1 Kin 14:38, 2 Chr 12:15).
Jeroboam, King of Israel                                         931-910 BC                                          22 years
  • Already during Solomon’s reign God raises up Jeroboam to drive the message home to idolatrous Solomon (1 Kin 11:11).
  • Jeroboam, son of Nebat, is of the tribe of Ephraim, is an industrious and able worker of Solomon, who gets promoted to oversee the forced labor of the house of Joseph. In this capacity he sees the suffering caused, and possibly also the callousness of officers in this job. Later the Northern tribes are happy to make him the spokesman for their labor issues (1 Kin 11:26-29, 12:3).
  • The prophet Ahijah meets Jeroboam and gives him the message that God will tear ten tribes away from Solomon’s house and give them to Jeroboam to be king over.
  • The promise, as always, is conditional: “If you do whatever I command you and walk in obedience to me and do what is right in my eyes by obeying my decrees and commands, as David my servant did, I will be with you. I will build you a dynasty as enduring as the one I built for David and will give Israel to you” (1 Kin 11:38).
  • Again, God has found the best man in Israel to lead his people and promised him blessing if he will follow God’s ways.
  • The promise to Jeroboam is stunning: “a dynasty as enduring as the one I built for David”. Even with David’s house chosen (2 Sam 7) God gives a similar promise to another person. Does this mean an ‘eternal kingdom’ also? Two lines for the Messiah to come from? … why not.
  • Solomon, in top-down government fashion tries to kill Jeroboam upon getting news of this (1 Kin 11:40). This is exactly like Saul, and exactly not like his father David. Jeroboam flees to Egypt.
  • Upon Solomon’s death he returns and is put forward by Israel to negotiate with Rehoboam (1 Kin 12:3). Rehoboam in his arrogance rejects the people’s legitimate plea and in response Israel rejects Rehoboam’s leadership over them.
  • The northern tribes cede and choose Jeroboam as their king (1 Kin 12:20).
  • God graciously protects Jeroboam from an immediate attack by Rehoboam through prophet Shemaiah’s word (1 Kin 12:24). This is essential for Jeroboam as he has had no time to organize himself nor to raise up an army (Israel presumably didn’t come armed to the meeting with Rehoboam).
  • Jeroboam builds Shechem as his capital, a good choice, the historic site of Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim (Jos 8:30-35) and also the place where Rehoboam’s claim got rejected and Jeroboam was made king. It’s also roughly the geographic middle of Israel (1 Kin 12:25).
  • Jeroboam thus has a fair start: He has the ordination & promise of God, a kingdom handed over to him on a platter with consensus of the people and initial protection by God’s intervention. A better start than David, this is.
  • But Jeroboam is worried that by Israelites going to Jerusalem three times a year for the prescribed festivals (Lev 23), they will revert to Rehoboam of the house of David.
  • Is this a realistic fear? Yes, in the sense that the two nations – though now politically separated – are still spiritually connected, and the spiritual center, Jerusalem, is in Judah, not Israel. But God has promised him the ten tribes, and it so happened, – all without bloodshed. Jeroboam now would need to stand on the word of God and have faith in God to fulfill it further.
  • But he doesn’t. Rather he takes advice and proceeds to split the two nations spiritually: He intentionally & proactively builds an ‘alternative worship’, a spiritual site complete with temple, altar, sacrifices, priests and yearly festivals … on the same dates as Jerusalem, of course. He carefully places the sites: one on the northern most tip (Dan) and one on the southern most tip (Bethel). Bethel is the last city in Israel on the way to Jerusalem, the location is deliberate (1 Kin 12:25-33).
  • At both shrines he places ‘calves’ (or bulls), maybe harking back to the golden calf of Exo 32, maybe just a typical fertility idol as in surrounding countries or maybe the idea of God being enthroned on the bull. Dan and Bethel are deliberately syncretistic: they claim to worship “the LORD God” at the calf shrine (Amo 4:4, 5:18-24).
  • Jeroboam thus deliberately founds Israel on idolatry. His scheme is ‘successful’ in the sense that the calf-worship indeed becomes the national cult of Israel and most never go back to worshiping God at Jerusalem.
  • But, of course, it sets Israel from the very beginning on a disastrous path of deception, syncretism and idolatry, from which it will never recover. Never once in Israel’s history even with all prophetic intervention are the calves removed. The calves, also called “sins of Jeroboam” will stay very prominent in the de-development of Israel from here on.
  • God’s answer is immediate, he send s a prophet to curse Jeroboam’s calf-altar and to give a prediction of its destruction by ‘one Josiah’ in the future (1 Kin 13:1-3).
  • Jeroboam, stretching out his arm to command to seize the prophet, the arm withers on the spot. Upon requesting prayer by the prophet, the arm heals (1 Kin 13:4-6)
  • God is using massive yet still gracious interventions to get through to Jeroboam (prophetic word, destruction, miraculous recovery), but he won’t ultimately listen. “If you obey” … he doesn’t. The conditional promise breaks, his dynasty lasts precisely 2 years after him (1 Kin 15:27-30).
  • God tries one more time: Jeroboam’s son falls ill. He has his wife disguise herself and go to the prophet Ahijah, who gave the prophecy of kingship (1 Kin 14:1-6).
  • Ahijah gives the word of God: “I raised you up … I tore the kingdom away from the house of David and gave it to you, but you have not been like my servant David, who kept my commands … You have done more evil than all who lived before you. You have made for yourself other gods, idols made of metal; you have provoked me to anger and thrust me behind your back” (1 Kin 14:7-9). Ahijah predicts the total destruction of the dynasty of Jeroboam (1 Kin 14:14), which fulfills within 2 years of his death. The child dies a normal death, as the only one in the family.
  • The best leader God could find for Israel has totally turned away from God. In one generation Israel has gone from greatness to the beginning of total destruction.
  • How could this happen? Because the king had the power to take them there! Though monarchy has developed Israel, it even more quickly destroys Israel.
  • There are continual wars between Israel and Judah (1 Kin 14:30). See below ‘Abijah’. “The LORD struck him down, and he died” (2 Chr 13:20).
Abijah, King of Judah                                               913-911 BC                                          3 years
  • Upon Rehoboam’s death, Abijam, the son of his third and favorite wife Maacah, daughter of Absalon, takes the kingship (1 Kin 15:1).
  • He commits all the sins of his father, yet for David’s sake God seeks to do his best with this King (1 Kin 15:3-5).
  • Again civil war breaks out between northern Israel and southern Judah, on a massive scale: Abijah goes to field with 400,000 troops and Jeroboam with 800,000.
  • Abijah challenges Israel about their apostasy and he claims “but as for us, the LORD is our God, and we have not abandoned him. We have priests ministering to the LORD who are descendants of Aaron … they offer to the LORD every morning … burnt offerings … do not fight against the LORD, the God of your ancestors; for you cannot succeed” (2 Chr 13:8-12). Is this at the time when Abijah is still ‘following God’ (not mentioned in Kings)? Or is this evidence of the confusing syncretism that also runs in Judah, they think they are in favor with God because they sacrifice (a local god to be satisfied like the other idols? Or is this simply a ‘demoralizing strategy’ and has little to do with truth?
  • Immediately before King Abijah gives a ‘reinterpretation of history’: Jeroboam is a scoundrel, God is on Rehoboam’s side, the kingdom only divided because Rehoboam was young and inexperienced (1 Kin 13:5-7). That is in blatant contrast to truth: It was God who tore part of the empire away from Rehoboam, it was God who called Jeroboam and gave him kingship. Abijah is clearly either deceived (this could have been the ‘standard opinion’ in Judah at his time), or he is shrewdly deceiving, using his to encourage his troops and demoralize Israelite troops.
  • Jeroboam uses the time of the speech to ambush Judah’s troops. When in panic, Judah cries out for God indeed (now), and God is his grace turns the war for hem. However unworthy, whenever people actually call on God he intervenes, even in spite of their king.
  • Yet overall this war becomes a drawn out and exhausting, affair “the war … continued all the days of his life” (1 Kin 15:6). Chronicles records a weakening of Jeroboam and a strengthening of Abijah (2 Chr 13:20).
  • Abijah takes 14 wives and has 22 sons and 16 daughters. The pattern of polygamy continues (2 Chr 13:21).
Nadab, King of Israel                                      910-909 BC                                           2 years
  • Nadab son of Jeroboam becomes King of Israel. Kings comments: “He did evil in the eyes of the Lord and walked in the ways of his father “which he had caused Israel to commit” (1 Kin 15:26-27).
  • Jeroboam has created institutionalized, official, national idolatry and it’s damaging impact is long-lasting, which is different from idolatry practiced by private citizens.
  • When Nadab and his Israelite troops are besieging the Philistine town Gibbethon, Baasha (of the tribe of Issachar) assassinates and succeeds him (1 Kin 15:27-28). Baasha also kills of Jeroboam’s entire family in fulfillment of God’s word by prophet Ahijah in 1 Kin 14:10-11 (1 Kin 15:29-30). Lawlessness and rebellion and counter-rebellion are starting. The red thread of violence is flowing.
Asa, King of Judah                                                   911- 870 BC                                         41 years
  • King Abijah of Judah has a godly son ascending to the throne, who “does what was right in the sight of the LORD, as his father David had done. He put away the male temple prostitutes out of the land, and removed all the idols that his ancestors had made. He also removed his (grand)mother Maacah from being queen mother because she had made an abominable image for Ashera … But the high places were not taken away” (1 Kin 15:11-14, 2 Chr 14:1-3, 16-7).
  • He brings votive gifts (himself and of his father) into the temple (1 Kin 15:15, 2 Chr 14:18). Asa calls Judah to seek the Lord, to keep the law (2 Chr 14:4) and in dependence on God fortifies and arms the cities of Judah (2 Chr 14:5-8).
  • When a vast Ethiopian army (one million troops) threatens invasion, Asa goes out to meet them and cries out to God (2 Chr 14:11). By God’s help the Ethiopian army is defeated and an abundance of plunder is won (2 Chr 14:12-15).
  • Upon return God sends him prophet Azariah: “Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The LORD is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you. 3 For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach and without the law. 4 But in their distress they turned to the LORD, the God of Israel, and sought him, and he was found by them. … take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded!” (2 Chr 15:2-7). It’s interesting that God sends a word after a resounding victory: to not be proud, to keep depending on God, to use the momentum of this victory for further reforms, personally and nationally.
  • How long is ‘for a long time’? Probably this includes Rehoboam’s 17 years (or 14 years, counted form the apostasy) and Abijah’s 3 years, so roughly 20 years.
  • Asa responds and cleanses the country of idols (though not of high places), repairs the altar, calls the nation to gather in Jerusalem, seek God and make a covenant by oath (2 Chr 8:15).
  • As a fruit there is joy and peace “All Judah rejoiced over the oath, for they had sworn with all their heart and had sought him with their whole desire, and he was found by them, and the LORD gave them rest all around” (2 Chr 14:15). This harkens back to high times under David and Solomon. Asa is the first of the reforming kings. God is faithful to bless.
  • In his later years Asa’s integrity wanes. In Asa’s 37th year, when King Baasha of Israel fortifies Ramah so as to control the road to Judah, Asa doesn’t depend on God as during the Ethiopian attack, but rather he chooses political maneuvers to protect himself: He robs the temple treasures to buy an alliance with King Ben-Hadad of Aram. Ben Hadad promptly attacks Israel from the north, conquering Israelite territory, causing Israel to withdraw from Ramah (2 Chr 16:1-6).
  • God challenges Asa’s behavior by the prophet Hanani: “Because you relied on the king of Aram and not on the LORD your God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped from your hand. Were not the Cushites and Libyans a mighty army with great numbers of chariots and horsemen? Yet when you relied on the LORD, he delivered them into your hand. For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war” (2 Chr 16:7-9).
  • Asa doesn’t repent, rather is enraged: He puts the prophet in stocks in prison and begins to “inflict cruelties” on some of the people. Asa is afflicted with a foot disease (maybe another way God tries to reach him) but does not seek God’s help in this and dies of his ailments.
  • Graciously Kings says “Asa war true to the LORD all his days” (1 Kin 15:14). Yet his political maneuvers starts (?) a long conflict between Israel and Aram and the precedent is set for ‘later smart alliances’, which will prove disastrous and draw the condemnation of prophets.
  • Asa is succeeded by his son Jehoshaphat, the only reforming king to have a son who is also a reforming king (Hezekiah and Josiah have godless sons).
Baasha, King of Israel                                              909-886 BC                                          24 years
  • Baasha, of the tribe of Issachar, is raised up by God to deal with the evil of Jeroboam’s dynasty and especially for establishing the calf-cult, fulfilling the prophecy spoken by prophet Ahijah (1 Kin 15:30).
  • Yet Baasha also “did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, walking in the way of Jeroboam and in the sin that he caused Israel to commit” (1 Kin 15:33).
  • God challenges him by the prophet Jehu, son of Hanani: “I lifted you up from the dust and made you leader of my people Israel, but you walked in the ways of Jeroboam and caused my people Israel to sin and to provoke me to anger by their sins. So I am about to consume Baasha and his house, and I will make your house like that of Jeroboam son of Nebat” (1 Kin 16:2-3). The avenger is as bad as the avenged. There is no righteous leadership to be found in Israel. Baasha doesn’t repent.
  • Baasha pressurizes Judah by fortifying Ramah to control the main road into Judah from the North. Judah responds by buying an alliance with Ben-Hadad of Aram, who promptly attacks Israel, conquering the tribal lands of Dan and Naphtali. Baasha then withdraws from Ramah. His capital is Tirzah (1 Kin 15:16-22).
Elah, King of Israel                                                    886-885 BC                                          2 years
  • Elah succeeds his father Baasha. While his troops are out, besieging the Philistine city of Gibbethon he is in his capital Tirzah, getting drunk in the house of Arza, the in-charge of the palace.
  • Baasha’s military commander Zimri, in charge over half his chariots, conspires against Elah and assassinates him and his house (1 Kin 16:8-14), fulfilling the prophecy spoken by prophet Jehu to his father Baasha (1 Kin 16:2-3).
Zimri, King of Israel                                                 885 BC                                                   7 days
  • Zimri is similar to Baasha in that he terminates the dynasty and house of the former kind, with the difference that is doesn’t say God raised him up. It seems his rebellion is simply a willful attempt at power.
  • Though in power only a week Kings comments that Zimri did “evil in the sight of the LORD, walking in the way of Jeroboam” (1 Kin 16:19).
  • When the army, still encamped near Gibethon hears that Zimri has assassinated Elah and declared himself king, they in turn declare Omri, the commander of the army king, and march on Tirzah, showing that Zimri has no support from anybody.
  • When the city is breached, Zimi retreats into the citadel of the royal palace and sets fire to it, killing himself. The political system of Israel is in free fall and violence is rampant.
Omri, King of Israel                                                   885-874 BC                                         12 years
  • It turns out the choosing of Omri as king did not have the consensus of even all the army (not to mention Israel in general). About half the army wants Tibni son of Ginath for king, and the other half supports Omri.
  • This results in another civil war “But Omri’s followers proved stronger than those of Tibni son of Ginath. So Tibni died and Omri became king” (1 Kin 16:21). The nation of Israel is almost splitting again, Omri gets the throne with some support, but mostly by military power (1 Kin 16:21-23).
  • Omri buys the hill of Samaria, builds and fortifies the city and makes it his capital. Samaria will remain capital as long as Israel lasts (1 Kin 16:24).
  • “Omri did what was evil in the wight of the LORD, he did more evil than all who were before him. For he walked in all the way of Jeroboam” (1 Kin 16:25-26).
  • He reigns 12 years and is succeeded by his son Ahab.
Ahab, King of Israel                                                  874-853 BC                                          22 years
  • Ahab brings no relief: “He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him. He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria. Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than did all the kings of Israel before him” (1 Kin 16:31-34).
  • Ahab adds to the evil of national calf-worship by importing foreign idolatry, most importantly Baal and Ashera cults. Again a disastrous marriage alliance will bring great destruction on Israel.
  • God raises up many and powerful prophets in Ahab’s day to speak to him and the nation: Elijah, Elisha and Micaiah. The worse the national condition the harder God tries to call the people back to Himself.
  • King Ben-Hadad or Aram pulls together thirty-two kings alliance and attacks Israel, conquers much area and besieges Samaria (1 Kin 20:1-12).
  • In this crisis a prophet promises Ahab victory. The specific instruction is to send the young provincial commanders, who with as little as 7’000 troops defeat the armies of the 32 king coalition, who are all drunk, thinking their victory assured (1 Kin 20:13-21).
  • God is reaching out to Ahab using him, though he is the worst king yet.
  • The prophet speaks again when the Aramean re-attack following spring: “This is what the LORD says: ‘Because the Arameans think the LORD is a god of the hills and not a god of the valleys, I will deliver this vast army into your hands, and you will know that I am the LORD” (1 Kin 20:26-28). God is educating both apostate Israel and idolatrous Aram.
  • Again it is vast army attacking, but they are defeated. Against God’s specific instruction to kill Ben-Hadad, Ahab spares him and agrees to a treaty in exchange for getting back conquered Israelite cities and trade rights in Damascus (1 Kin 20:31-34). Another prophet announces that for sparing Ben-Hadad’s life, Ahab’s life is forfeit (1 Kin 20:35-43).
  • Twice God gives an evil king military victory on behalf of Israel and His name. God is blessing the nation and their leader as best He can if they will listen to Him even in one area. Israel has deserted God, yet he has not deserted them.
  • Ahab then develops an urgent need for a vegetable garden. The piece of land coveted belongs to one Naboth, who is unwilling to sell. Ahab is annoyed.
  • His idolatrous Sidonian wife berates him over his concept of authority: “Do you now govern Israel? Get up and eat! Cheer up. I’ll get you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite” (1 Kin 21:7). She disciples him in lawless, unaccountable top-down leadership and conspires with some local leaders to have Naboth executed on false charges. Ahab gets his vegetable garden.
  • God sends Elijah to speak the verdict: “This is what the LORD says: Have you not murdered a man and seized his property?‘ Then say to him, ‘This is what the LORD says: In the place where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, dogs will lick up your blood—yes, yours!” (1 Kin 21:17-19).
  • In response Ahab actually repents: “When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly. Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite: “Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day, but I will bring it on his house in the days of his son” (1 Kin 21:27-29). God, who has no pride but loves mercy, hears him and responds: judgment will be delayed. God requires so little to extend His mercy and still they reject him.
Jehoshaphat, King of Judah                                   870-848 BC                                          25 years
  • Jeshosaphat succeeds his father Asa as King of Judah. “In everything he walked in the ways of his father Asa and did not stray from them, he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord” (1 Kin 22:43) Chronicles has “he did not seek the Baals, but sought the God of his father and walked in his commandments … therefore the LORD established the kingdom in his hand” (2 Chr 17:3-4).
  • Not seeking the Baals and not following Israel’s paganism, Jehoshaphat strengthens himself against Israel, fortifies cities, sets garrisons as far north as the cities of Ephraim that his father Asa had taken (2 Chr 17:1-3), builds storage cities, carries out great works and has a large standing army (2 Ch 17:13-19).
  • In the third year he starts reforming in earnest: He rids the country of some (though not all) high places and sacred poles (2 Chr 17:6, 20:33). He also sends officials and priests throughout Judah to teach them the Book of the Law (2 Chr 17:7-9).
  • God makes the fear of him fall on surrounding nations and Philistia pays him tribute (2 Chr 17:10-11).
  • King Jehoshaphat “goes out among he people, from Beer-sheba to the hill country of Ephraim, and brought them back to the LORD, the God of their ancestors” (2 Chr 19:4). A king, using his weight to influence people in a good direction. The influence of a king has limits, though “the people had not yet set their hearts upon the God of their ancestors” (2 Chr 20:35).
  • He reforms the legal system and appoints judges in all the cities, teaching them the fear of God and integrity, with words right from Deu 1:16-18 and Deu 16:18-20 (2 Chr 19:5-7).
  • Jehoshaphat is less wise (or careful to inquire of God) in his relations with Israel: he makes a peace with idolatry-promoter Ahab, and great future damage by marrying the crown prince of Judah, Jehoram, to Ahab and Jezebel’s daughter Athaliah (2 Kin 8:18, 2 Chr 21:16).
  • Jehoshaphat, for example, agrees blindly, even against the word of prophet Micaiah, to join Israel in a war against Aram. Micaiah has predicted Ahab’s death and defeat “I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, like sheep without a shepherd … these have no master” (1 Kin 22:17, 2 Chr 18:16).
  • Jehoshaphat agrees to wear royal robes to battle at Ahab’s request unlike Ahab himself (how stupid is that?) and promptly attracts the archers. Jehoshaphat cries out to God, who graciously saves his life, though not the battle. A random arrow wounds Ahab and he bleeds to death, fulfilling prophecies by Micaiah (1 Kin 22:17, 2 Chr 18:16) and by Elijah (1 Kin 21:19).
  • Upon returning the prophet Jehu rebukes Jehophaphat: “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD?” (2 Chr 19:2).
  • Jehoshaphat passes another test with flying colors, though: When the Moabites, Ammonites, Meunites and Edom make a joint attack on Judah Jehoshaphat leads Judah in seeking God turning to Him for help. All the men, women and children gather before the Lord to pray. The Spirit comes on the prophet Jahaziel who predicts a victory, one without fighting, too. The word fulfills by God setting an ambush and the enemy armies attacking each other while Judah sings praises (2 Chr 20:1-30).
  • Jehoshaphat again makes an alliance with King Ahaziah of Israel, son of Ahab. Together they construct a fleet of ships to trade gold with Ophir. God rebukes him through prophet Eliezer for aligning himself with wickedness and predicts the destruction of the fleet. The word is fulfilled and the ships are all destroyed by fire before ever sailing (2 Chr 20:35-37).
  • In the 18th year of his rule Jehoshaphat again goes to war to assist Israel, now ruled by Jehoram, son of Ahab, to put down a Moabite revolt. In this un-blessed venture the troops run out of water while journeying. Jehoshaphat seeks a word from a prophet, Elisha, who makes it clear he only seeks God for them because of his respect for Jehoshaphat. God graciously has Elisha predict a victory over Moab, and so it happens. (2 Kin 3:4-27).
  • Jehoshaphat does so well in personal devotion and reforms for the country, yet is stubbornly unwise in his attempts to ally himself with Israel. He leaves a strong Judah behind, yet also a legacy of destruction in a very ungodly daughter-in-law. He indicates his firstborn to receive kingship, though he is evil (2 Chr 21:1-4, 13).
Ahaziah, King of Israel                                             853-852 BC                                          2 years
  • Ahaziah, son of Ahab, becomes King of Israel in Jehoshaphat’s 17th year. He does evil in the eyes of the Lord, as his father Ahab and mother Jezebel, being idolatrous including the calf-cult (1 Kin 22:51-53).
  • When injured in a home accident, he sends messengers to seek the god of Ekron as to the fate of his injuries. God intercepts King Ahaziah’s messengers three times by Elijah and let’s Ahaziah know he will die of his injuries. Prophetic words always signify a repentance option (otherwise why announce rather than just executing it?), but Ahaziah does not take it. He dies as predicted (2 Kin 22:1-18).
Joram, King of Israel                                                852-841 BC                                         12 years
  • Ahaziah having no son, his brother Joram becomes king. “He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, but not as his father and mother had done. He got rid of the sacred stone of Baal that his father had made. Nevertheless he clung to the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit; he did not turn away from them” (2 Kin 3:2-3). He turns from the Baal cult, but not from the calf-cult.
  • Joram is helped by Jehoshaphat to put down a Moabite revolt (See above).
  • Later King Ben-Hadad besieges Samaria. Elisha is trapped in the city along with King Jehoram. The famine becomes so severe, Israel is reduced to cannibalism, similar to the pre-flood state at Noah’s time. Jehoram wants to kill Elisha, but is despondent when finally meeting him “This trouble is from the LORD! Why should I hope in the LORD any longer?” Elisha then predicts a victory within 24 hours, not met with much faith (2 Kin 6:24-7:2).
  • God causes the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots, and they flee wildly in utter confusion leaving behind all their supplies. The empty camp is discovered by four lepers and then looted by Israel. Again God blesses the unrighteous because they cried out to him.
  • Later though, God raises up Jehu to wipe out the house of Ahab and Joram is killed by his arrow (see below).
Jehoram, King of Judah                                          848-841 BC                                          8 years                             age: 32-40
  • Jehoram succeeds his father Jehoshaphat as King of Judah, as per his father’s will. He immediately kills his six brothers and some other officials to consolidate his grip on power (2 Chr 21:1-4). “Moreover he made high places in the hill country of Judah, and led the inhabitants of Jerusalem into unfaithfulness, and made Judah go astray” (2 Chr 21:11). It only takes one king to undo the good of the reforms of Asa and Jehophaphat.
  • “He walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as the hours of Ahab had done, for the daughter of Ahab was his wife” (2 Kin 8:18). Jehosaphat’s marriage alliance with Israel by his son has brought the evils of the Israel into Judah. Now violence is flowing in Judah as it has in Israel.
  • God tries to get his attention by Deuteronomy curses: Edom and Libnah revolt against Judah. Jehoram unsuccessfully tries to put down the revolt. The kingdom’s size diminishes (2 Kin 8:20-24, 2 Chr 21:8-10).
  • Elijah, prophet to Israel, sends Jehoram of Judah a letter denouncing his turning Judah towards idolatry and murdering his brothers. He predicts a plague on his people, family and possessions. Jeroham himself will die of a disease rotting his bowels (2 Chr 21:12-15).
  • The Philistines and Arabs invade and loot Judah and carry off Jehoram’s family, except his youngest son Ahaziah (2 Chr 21:16-17). Jehoram dies in great agony of the bowel disease as predicted. “His people made no fire in his honor … He departed with no one’s regret. They buried him in the city of David, but not in the tombs of the kings” (2 Chr 21:18-20). What a testimony about the son of a person like Jehoshaphat.
Ahaziah, King of Judah                                            841 BC                                                  1 year
  • Ahaziah, youngest son of Jehoram and Athalia, grandson to Ahab and Jezebel, is the sole surviving son after the invasion of Philistia and Arabs and is made king in place of his father by the inhabitants of Jerusalem (2 Chr 22:1-2).
  • “He also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab, for his mother was his counselor in doing wickedly … house of Ahab …were his counselors, to his ruin” (2 Chr 22:4-5).
  • At their advice and continuing his grandfather Jehoshaphat’s policy of supporting Israel militarily (in spite of prophetic opposition), he joins forces with Jehoram of Israel against the Arameans.
  • When God raises up a leader to wipe out the house of Ahab, Amaziah of Judah, who is with King Jehoram at that time is killed also. Chronicles records “it was ordained by God that the downfall of Ahaziah should come about through his going to visit Joram” (2 Kin 8:28-29, 9:27-29, 2 Chr 22:7-9).
Jehu, King of Israel                                                   841-814 BC                                         28 years
  • Jehu, son of Jehoshaphat, is a military commander of King Joram of Israel, encamped against the Arameans in Ramoth-Gilead.
  • The coup is initiated by a young prophet sent by Elisha, who goes to Ramoth Gilead, takes commander Jehu aside and anoints him with the words: “This is what the Lord says: I anoint you king over Israel … you shall strike down the house of your master Ahab … Jezebel … every male” Then the prophet, as instructed by a wise Elisha: “Then open the door and flee; don’t delay” (2 Kin 9:1-10).
  • What political drama! When Jehu returns to his fellow commanders and shares reluctantly what the “madman” prophet has said they immediately pledge their allegiance to him and proclaim him king.
  • Jehu rides in haste to Jezreel, where king Joram has retired to heal of battle wounds. Seeing his approach king Joram sends twice loyal companies. When challenged by Jehu, “How can there be peace … as long as all the idolatry and witchcraft of your mother Jezebel abound?” they switch loyalties and support Jehu (2 Kin 9:11-20).
  • Jehu then shoots King Joram in his chariot and his body is dumped on the field of Naboth the Jezreelite, the very plot of land that Jezebel stole for Ahab’s vegetable garden by having Naboth murdered, in fulfilling of the prophecy by Elijah in 1 Kin 21:19 (2 Kin 9:21-26).
  • Jehu’s troops also wound a fleeing King Ahaziah mortally.
  • Jezebel, hearing all this pains her eyes and waits for Jehu. He has her thrown out the window to her death. Before they can bury her, the dogs have eaten the corpse, as Elijah predicted in 1 Kin 21:23-24 (2 Kin 9:30-37).
  • With Joram, Ahaziah & Jezebel dead, Jehu continues God’s judgment of the house of Ahab by directing the execution of Ahab’s entire family and entourage of leaders, close friends and priests. Their reign of violence has reached its limits. The only deterrent to this pre-flood insanity seems to be the most drastic purging of both nations.
  • Jehu sends an ultimatum to the elders of Samaria either to fight him or join. They join him and execute all 70 sons of Ahab (2 Kin 10:1-11).
  • Jehu sets out for Samaria and on encountering King Ahaziah of Judah’s remaining family fleeing, he kills them all. Once again, God is using the most extreme of measures to stop the red thread of violence.
  • Arriving in Samaria, “he killed all who were left there of Ahab’s family; he destroyed them, according to the word of the LORD spoken to Elijah” (2 Kin 10:17).
  • Jehu then does his greatest purge: He assembles the people of Samaria and calls a solemn assembly of all the followers of Baal to worship and sacrifice.
  • Once they fill the temple wall to wall and start the ceremony, Jehu and his officers ambush and kill them, destroy the temple and make it into a latrine (2 Kin 10:18-31).
  • God says to Jehu “Because you have done well in accomplishing what is right in my eyes and have done to the house of Ahab all I had in mind to do, your descendants will sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation.” This will fulfill to the letter with Jehu having the longest lasting dynasty of Israel, with 5 generations of the throne. “Yet Jehu was not careful to keep the law of the LORD, the God of Israel, with all his heart. He did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam, which he had caused Israel to commit” (2 Kin 10:30-31).
  • In spite of the call, anointing, words of God fulfilling Jehu still worships the calves of Jeroboam! Then we read these somber words: “In those days the LORD began to reduce the size of Israel” (2 Kin 10:32).
  • There is less and less that God can do and fewer and fewer he can use to turn the tide of Israel’s and Judah’s self destruction. Like in the days of Noah, the condition of the people and their leaders is nearing the point where there is no remedy for their nation. Like the nations God destroyed in the land when they came, the tribes of Israel have become like an aggressive cancer, endangering all of life.
Athaliah, Queen of Judah                                       841-835 BC                                          7 years
  • King Ahaziah having been killed during Jehu’s revolt, as though things couldn’t get worse, his mother Athaliah, daughter of Ahab and Jezebel usurps the throne. In a cold bid for power she proceeds to assassinate what remains of the royal family, including Ahaziah’s children, that is, her own grand-children (2 Chr 22:10-12, 2 Kin 11:1-3)
  • But Joash one of Ahaziah’s children is saved by Ahaziah’s sister Jehoshaphat (Athalia’s daughter? A daughter by another wife of Jehoram?). She is married to the priest Jehoiada and they hide and raise the child in the temple till 7 years old (2 Chr 22:11-12, 2 Kin 11:2-3).
  • Athaliah is idolatrous and has already influenced her husband King Jehoram and her son King Amaziah to idolatry. She breaks into the temple and used all the dedicated things of the house of the LORD for the Baals (2 Chr 24:7).
  • In collaboration with the military leadership and palace guards, priest Jehoiada overthrows Athaliah and puts Joash, great-grandson of Jehoshaphat, on the throne. The people of Judah are ecstatic. As in the days of Samuel there is no better hope for Judah’s leadership than a child (2 Chr 23:1-11, 2 Kin 11:4-12).
  • Athaliah cries treason, but having no support among the people is caught and executed (2 Chr 23:12-15, 2 Kin 11:13-16).
Joash, King of Judah                                                835-796 BC                                         40 years                                  age: 7-47
  • The priest Jehoiada then leads the people in making a covenant between the Lord, the King and the people that they will be “the Lord’s people” (2 Chr 23:16-21). They proceed from there to tear down the temple of Baal and kill the priest of Baal (2 Chr 16-21, 2 Kin 11:17-21).
  • Joash is seven years old when he begins to reign over Israel. In his 40 years as King, Joash “did what is right in the eyes of the Lord all the days of the priest Jehoiada” Jehoiada guides and counsels him (2 Chr 24:1-3, 2 Kin 12:1-3).
  • Joash encourages the people to give and with their temple tax and offerings repairs the temple. An abundance of money is collected, and utensils for the temple are newly made. Burnt offerings are maintained, but he does not remove the high places and the people continued to worship there (2 Chr 24:8-14, 2 Kin 12:4-16).
  • After the priest Jehoiada’s death, King Joash listens to his officials who encourage him to abandon the worship of God and returns to serving sacred poles and idols (2 Chr 24:15-19).
  • God sends prophets, but they are not heard. Then the priest Zechariah, Jehoiada’s son, brings a word of God’s judgment in public. Joash has him stoned to death in spite of the goodness his father had shown him (2 Chr 24:20-22).
  • Within the year King Hazael of Aram attacks with a very small army but yet defeats and loots Judah and wounds Joash (2 Chr 24:23-24). Joash loots the temple as well as his own treasuries to pay off Hazael (2 Kin 12:17-18). Joash’s servants conspire against him and kill him in retribution for his killing of priest Zechariah (2 Chr 24:25-27).
Jehoahaz, King of Israel                                          814-798 BC                                         17 years                    1st gen from Jehu
  • Jehoahaz, son of Jehu, succeeds his father. “He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and followed in the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he caused Israel to sin” (2 Kin 13:1-2).
  • God gives him repeatedly into the hand of King Hazael of Aram and into the hand of King Ben-Hadad II of Aram, Hazael’s son.
  • “But Jehoahaz entreated the Lord, and the Lord heeded him; for he saw the oppression of Israel” (2 Kin 13:4). As in the days of the Judges, when Jehoahaz actually cries to God, he saves him. Israel defeats the superior Aramean army.
  • But the people persist with the calf-worship and sacred poles. Jehoahaz’s army is down to 50 horsemen, 10 chariots and an army of 10,000 foot soldiers (2 Kin 13:6-9).
Jehoash, King of Israel                                             798-782 BC                                        16 years                  2nd gen​ from Jehu
  • Jehoash succeeds his father Jehoahaz as King. “He also did what was evil in the sight of the LORD; he did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam” (2 Kin 13:10-11).
  • During Jehoash’s reign Judah goes to war to Edom with hired soldiers from Israel.
  • A prophet challenges them to release the Israelite soldiers so as to not align themselves with wickedness. King Amaziah of Judah does so and is victorious over Edom.
  • King Jehoash is offended, rejects King Amaziah’s peace initiative (2 Kin 14:8-10) and precipitates a civil war, attacking Judah, breaking down a section of Jerusalem’s wall and looting the treasures of both temple and palace (2 Kin 14:11-14).
Amaziah, King of Judah                                          796-767 BC                                          29 years                             age:25-54
  • After King Joash is killed in a conspiracy, his son Amaziah succeeds him.
  • “He did right in the eyes of the Lord, but not like his forefather David … But the high placed were not removed” (2 Kin 14:3-4, 2 Chr 25:1-2).
  • When the royal power is firmly in his hand he executes the officials that murdered his father but spares their sons according to the law of Moses (2 Kin 14:5-6, 2 Chr 25:3-4).
  • He fights and defeats the attacking Edomites after obeying the word of the Lord by a prophet not to use the hired troops of Israel, as God is not with Israel (2 Chr 25:5-10).
  • Following this great God-given victory (2 Chr 25:11-12) he brings back the gods of Edom and sets them up, worshiping them and making sacrifices to them. He rejects the rebuke of the Lord’s prophet and continues in his idolatry. The prophet predicts death (2 Chr 25:14-16).
  • In the meantime King Jehoash is offended, rejects King Amaziah’s peace initiative (2 Kin 14:8-10) and precipitates a civil war, attacking Judah, breaking down a section of Jerusalem’s wall and looting the treasures of both temple and palace (2 Kin 14:11-14, 2 Chr 25:17-19). Chronicles says “it was God’s doing in order to hand them over, because they had sought the gods of Edom” (2 Chr 25:20-24).
  • Amaziah is targeted by a conspiracy in Jerusalem. He flees but is assassinated Lachish.
Jeroboam, King of Israel                                         792-753 BC                                          41 Years                           3rd gen from Jehu
  • Jeroboam II succeeds his father King Jehoash of Israel.
  • “He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD; he did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam” (2 Kin 14:23-24).
  • In spite of Jeroboam II’s disregard for God “The LORD had seen how bitterly everyone in Israel, whether slave or free, was suffering; there was no one to help them. And since the LORD had not said he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven, he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam son of Jehoash” (1 Kin 14:26-27). Jeroboam restores the boundaries of Israel to almost Davidic size as predicted by prophet Jonah.
  • God’s grace at work in both the stability of the Jehu dynasty as well as the victories of Jeroboam. But good times with unrepentant hearts is dangerous: the people can easily forget grace and live in a false sense of security, as prophet Amos addresses.
Azariah=Uzziah, King of Judah                              790-739 BC                                          52 years                                age: 16-68
  • After the conspiracy against his father, “All the people of Judah took Azariah … and made him king to succeed his father Amaziah” (2 Kin 14:17-22). He is put on the throne by the will of the people.
  • “He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father Amaziah had done. He set himself to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God; and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him prosper” (2 Chr 26:4-5, 2 Kin 14:1-3).
  • However, he did not take away the high places and the people continued to worship and make sacrifices there (2 Kin 15:4).
  • God gives him military success against the Philistines, the Arabs and the Meunites. The Ammonites start paying tribute to him. His fame spreads “for he became very strong” (2 Chr 26:6-8).
  • Azariah fortifies the wall of Jerusalem, builds towers in the wilderness and hews out many cisterns. He has a passion for agriculture and develops the land and livestock.
  • He strengthens, trains and equips his troops and events skillful machines on the towers for shooting arrows and large stones (2 Chr 26:9-15).
  • “But when he had become strong he grew proud, to his destruction” (2 Chr 26:16). Like Saul before him, he begins to cross the boundaries of the role of the king and takes on the role of the priesthood, entering the temple to burn incense. The priests confront him and Azariah becomes enraged. Immediately God strikes him with leprosy and leaves the temple (2 Chr 26:16-20).
  • Azariah had leprosy the rest of his life and ran the affairs of Judah through his son Jotham. At his death, Jotham becomes King in Judah (2 Chr 26:21-22, 2 Kin 15:5-7).
Zechariah, King of Israel                                         753 BC                                                   6 months                        4th gen from Jehu
  • Zechariah succeeds his father Jeroboam II as King over Israel. He “did evil in the sight of the LORD … he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam” (1 Kin 15:8-9).
  • The promise of God to Jehu that 4 generations of his dynasty will sit on the throne has fulfilled (2 Kin 10:30-31) in spite of every generation being idolatrous.
  • Shallum, son of Jabesh, assassinates King Zechariah in public (2 Kin 15:10-12).
  • The violence continues to escalate and the pace quickens. This is now the final stage of the nation of Israel. God once more sends powerful and heart-rending ‘last calls’ to Israel by the prophets Hosea, Amos and Micah. They remain unheeded.
Shallum, King of Israel                                             752 BC                                                 1 month
  • It’s coup and counter-coup now: Shallum assassinates Zechariah to usurp power, but is himself assassinated one month later by Menahem son of Gadi (2 Kin 15:13-15).
Menahem, King of Israel                                         752-742 BC                                          10 years
  • Menahem usurps the throne by assassinating Shallum. “He did evil in the sight of the LORD; he did not depart all his days from any of the sins of Jeroboam” (2 Kin 15:18).
  • King Pul of Assyria comes against Israel. Menahem pays tribute to stay in power in Israel, taxing people in order to do so (2 Kin 15:18-20).
  • He sacked Tiphsah from Tirzah on, ripping open all the pregnant women in it (2 Kin 15:10). Extreme violence, staying in power at any price.
Pekahiah, King of Israel                                          742-740 BC                                          2 years
  • Menahem’s son Pekahiah succeeds him as King of Israel. Like his father “He did evil in the sight of the LORD; he did not depart all his days from any of the sins of Jeroboam” (2 Kin 15:24).
  • Pekahiah’s military captain, Pekah, and 50 Gileadites attack and assassinate him in the palace.
Pekah, King of Israel                                                752-732 BC                                          20 years
  • Pekah, son of Remaliah, usurps power after assassinating King Pekahiah.
  • “He did evil in the sight of the LORD; he did not depart all his days from any of the sins of Jeroboam” (2 Kin 15:28).
  • King Tiglath-Pileser of Assyria captures the northern parts of Israel and carries many into captivity.
  • During the reign of evil King Ahaz of Judah, God uses Pekah to bring judgment on Judah for their forsaking of the Lord: Pekah invades, causes heavy casualties and loots Judah (2 Chr 28:5-7).
  • When taking 100’000 captives of Judah, a righteous man named Oded, as well as some leaders of Ephraim intervene, appeal to conscience and secure the freedom of the captives (2 Chr 28:8-15). There is some godliness still. It would have taken courage to rebuke victorious troops coming home.
  • Hosea, son of Elah, conspires against and assassinates King Pekah.
Jotham, King of Judah                                            750-731 BC                                          16 years
  • King Azariah’s son Jotham, having co-reigned with him for years, becomes King of Judah after his father’s death (2 Chr 26:21-22, 2 Kin 15:5-7).
  • “He did what was right in the sight of the LORD just as Uzziah had done” (2 Kin 15:34) … “only he did not invade the temple” (2 Chr 27:2).
  • He didn’t remove the high places, though, and the people continued their corrupt practices (2 Kin 15:35, 2 Chr 27:2).
  • King Jotham rebuilds the upper gate of the temple, fortifies the wall of Ophel and strengthens Judah’s border defenses (2 Kin 15:35-36, 2 Chr 27:27:3-4).
  • He defeats the Ammonites and they pay tribute to him. “Jotham became strong because he ordered his ways before the LORD his God” … alternative translation: “because he walked steadfastly before his God” (2 Chr 27:6).
  • In his day God starts raising up the Arameans and Israel against Judah (2 Kin 15:37).
Ahaz, King of Judah                                                 731-715 BC                                           16 years                                   age: 20-36
  • Hoshea, son of Elah, assassinates Pekah and succeeds him as King of Israel, the last one. “He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, yet not like the kings of Israel who were before him” (2 Kin 17:1-2).
  • King Shalmaneser of Assyria comes up against him and he becomes a vassal, paying tribute. Later Hoshea rebels and seeks help from Egypt.
  • Assyria re-invades, lays siege to Samaria, take Hoshea prisoner, captures Samaria and takes the remaining Israelite population into captivity (2 Kin 17:5-6). This is the end of Israel as a nation.
Hoshea, King of Israel                                             732-722 BC                                             9 years
  • Ahaz succeeds his father Jotham as King of Judah, but he is not like his father:
  • “He did not do what was right in the sight of the LORD as David had but walked in the ways of the Kings of Israel. He even made cast images for the Baals, and he made offering in the valley of the son of Hinnom, and made his sons pass through fire, according to the abominable practices of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel. He sacrifices and made offerings on the high places, on the hills and under every green tree” (2 Chr 28:1-4, 2 Kin 16:1-4).
  • In response God hands Judah over to Israel who defeat them with a great slaughter and to Aram who defeat them and also take many captives (2 Chr 28:5-7, 2 Kin 16:5).
  • Also Edom and the Philistines invade and defeat Judah, taking many captives (2 Chr 28:16-18, 2 Kin 16:6).
  • Ahaz plunders temple, his palace and his officials to buy an alliance with King Pul of Assyria. Assyria promptly conquers Aram & Damascus, killing King Rezin, but also oppresses Judah (2 Chr 28:20, 2 Kin 16:7-9).
  • “In his times of trouble he becomes even more unfaithful to God … for he sacrificed to the gods of Damascus, which had defeated him, and said ‘Because the gods of the kings of Aram helped them, I will sacrifice to them so that they may help me.” But they were the ruin of him, and of all Israel” (2 Chr 28:22-23, 2 Kin 16:10-16). Wrong choices over wrong choices, deception over deception.
  • When Ahaz goes to meet King Assyria in Damascus, he is so impressed with the altar to their god, he has a similar altar made. He also begins to worship the gods of Aram, closes the doors of the temple and builds altars to other gods on every street corner in Jerusalem (2 Chr 28:22-27).
Summary for the nation of Israel
  • Israel lasted from 931-722 BC a mere 209 years
  • Israel has 19 kings in 9 dynasties portraying its instability
  • 3 dynasties are terminated by assassination of the entire family
  • the longest lasting dynasty is Jehu’s 5 generations
  • 8 of 19 kings (42%) die by assassinations
  • average reign per king is 10 ½ years
  • it is built on idolatry and is finally judged by God through Empire Assyria
  • God’s comment: “All this took place because the Israelites had sinned against the LORD … They worshiped other gods and followed the practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before them, as well as the practices that the kings of Israel had introduced.… The LORD warned Israel and Judah through all his prophets … But they would not listen … They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made … They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless. … they made for themselves … two idols cast in the shape of calves …Asherah pole … starry hosts … Baal … sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire … divination and sorcery … So the people of Israel were taken from their homeland into exile in Assyria, and they are still there” (2 Kin 17:7-23).
Hezekiah, King of Judah                                         715-686 BC                                          29 years
  • Hezekiah succeeds his father Ahaz as King of Judah. Unlike his father “He did what was right in the sight of the Lord, just as his father David had done. He removed the high places, broke down the pillars, and cut down the sacred pole. He broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it … He trusted in the LORD the God of Israel; so that there was no one like him among all the kings of Judah after him, or among those who were before him. … The LORD was with him wherever he went, he prospered … he undertook … to seek his God, he did with all his heart” (2 Kin 18:3-5, 2 Chr 29:2, 31:20-21). What a relief after Ahaz’ sale out to evil and idolatry.
  • In the 1st year of his reign Hezekiah re-opens the doors of the temple, repairs the house of God, assembles the Levites and priests to sanctify it and restores temple worship and regular sacrifices (2 Chr 29:3-35).
  • The Levites and priests get serious and Hezekiah and the people rejoice at the developments (2 Chr 29:36).
  • Hezekiah invites all of Judah and even the remaining people in Ephraim, Manasseh, Asher and Zebulun under Assyrian rule for a Passover celebration in Jerusalem. Only few in the North respond but Judah responds with “one heart” (2 Chr 30:12).
  • They all together celebrate the Passover with great joy, twice actually (2 Chr 30), and Hezekiah encourages and later reorganizes priesthood and Levites (2 Chr 31:11-19).
  • After the great Passover and the covenant made to follow God they go out to break the pillars, hew down sacred poles, pull down high places and altars throughout Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim and Manasseh (2 Chr 31:1). Tithe, first fruits and offerings are being given faithfully again (2 Ch 31:4-10).
  • Hezekiah rebels against Assyria and defeats the Philistines, all the way to Gaza (2 Kin 18:7-8).
  • In the 4th year of his reign, King Shalmaneser of Assyria attacks Israel and besieges Samaria in response to King Hosheah of Israel’s rebellion. In the 6th year of his reign, Assyria defeats, conquers and exiles Israel. The nation ceases to be (2 Kin 18:9-12).
  • Because of the growing Assyrian threat Hezekiah’s workers cut through rock to assure a safe supply of water for Jerusalem in case of siege (2 Kin 20:20-21). Later they will also stop up springs outside Jerusalem, strengthen walls and make more armaments (2 Chr 32:3-5).
  • “After these acts of faithfulness” (2 Chr 32:1) in the 14th year of his reign King Sennacherib of Assyria attacks Judah and captures 46 of its fortified cities. Hezekiah pays tribute, taking the treasures of both temple and palace, stripping even the gold overlaying the doorposts.
  • Sennacherib sends officials to demoralize the people of Judah, the last remaining unconquered city, by threatening siege, telling them of Assyria’s past conquest of greater cities, by offering them ‘their lives’ if they turn against Hezekiah and surrender to Assyria (2 Kin 18:13-35, 2 Chr 32:9-19).
  • Hezekiah tells the people to be silent and to trust God (2 Kin 18:36). Then he tears his clothes, puts on sackcloth and ashes, sends a message to prophet Isaiah and goes to the house of the Lord to pray a very realistic yet also faith-filled prayer.
  • Prophet Isaiah gives Hezekiah a promise of the LORD “Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have reviled me. I myself will put a spirit in him, so that he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land; I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land … I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth; I will turn you back on the way by which you came … He shall not come into this city … shoot an arrow … cast up a siege ramp” (2 Kin 19:6-7, 28-34).
  • That night an angel of the LORD strikes down 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in their camp, causing the remaining troops withdraw to Nineveh. As predicted Sennacherib is eventually assassinated by his own sons in 562 BC (2 Kin 19:35-37, 2 Chr 32:20-21).
  • Hezekiah falls ill and Isaiah says he will not recover. The King pleads with God to remember all his faithfulness and weeps bitterly. God sends the prophet back with the message that God will give him 15 more years and he is healed (2 Kin 20:1-11, 2 Chr 32:24-26).
  • Babylon sends envoys to congratulate for King Hezekiah’s recovery (and to form an alliance against Assyria). Hezekiah is friendly and shows them all his treasures (probably to prove his weight in an anti-Assyrian alliance).
  • The prophet Isaiah comes condemns his for it, predicting that this same Babylon will conquer Judah & Jerusalem and carry off all those treasures, though not in Hezekiah’s days. Hearing this Hezekiah is reassured and sees no need to repent (2 Kin 20:12-19, 2 Chr 32:25-26).
  • How good was it to plea for this life extension? Hezekiah will make a mistake and will only partially repent of it. Also he will make a son born in these 15 years the next King, who will turn out to be the worst king Judah ever had.
Manasseh, King of Judah                                       696-642 BC                                         55 years                                     age: 12-67
  • Manasseh succeeds his father Hezekiah as King of Judah at age 12. Manasseh was born during Hezekiah’s life extension. Was he the only son (a good reason to ask for the life extension)? Or a spoiled child of Hezekiah’s old age, preferred over other brothers? We do not know, but:
  • “He did evil in the sight of the LORD and followed the abominable practices of the nations God had driven out. For he rebuilt the high places … erected altars to Baal … made a sacred pole … worshiped all the host of heaven and served them … He built altars in the house of the LORD … He made his son pass through fire; he practiced soothsaying and augury, and dealt with mediums and with wizards … The carved image of Asherah that he had made he set in the house … Manasseh misled them to do more evil than the nations had done that the LORD destroyed before the people of Israel … Moreover, Manasseh also shed so much innocent blood that he filled Jerusalem from end to end” (2 Kin 21:2-9, 16, 2 Chr 33:1-9). Manasseh’s sale out to idolatry will put Judah in a state from which it will never recover.
  • God responds with a prediction of irreversible judgment: “I will stretch out over Jerusalem the measuring line used against Samaria and the plumb line used against the house of Ahab. I will wipe out Jerusalem … and give them into the hand of their enemies” (2 Kin 21:11-15). Neither Manasseh nor the people give heed (2 Chr 33:10).
  • God sends the Assyrians against Judah and they take Manasseh prisoner and deport him. In his distress Manasseh “humbles himself greatly” before God. God in his amazing grace hears his cry and makes a way for him to return to Jerusalem and be re-instituted as king! “Then Manasseh knew that the LORD indeed is God” (2 Chr 33:11-13).
  • Manasseh begins a campaign to rebuild the outer wall of Jerusalem, restore the altar of God and sacrifices, to rid the temple and Judah of foreign gods. “The people, however, still sacrificed at the high places, but only to the LORD their God” (2 Chr 33:14-17). The damage is far-reaching and not easily undone, syncretistic is the best Judah now still is.
Amon, King of Judah                                               642-640 BC                                          2 years                                       age: 22-24
  • Amon succeeds his father Manasseh as King of Israel at age 22. It seems he is either he is a late son of Manasseh, or he is not the first born. What is clear: he is not a worthy son. “He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, as his father Manasseh had done. Amon sacrificed to all the images that his father Manasseh had made … He did not humble himself before the LORD, as his father Manasseh had … but Among incurred more and more guilt” (2 Chr 33:22-23, 2 Kin 21:19-22).
  • His own officials assassinate him in the palace. But the people kill the assassins and put Josiah, Amon’s 8 year old son on the throne (2 Chr 33:24-25, 2 Kin 21:23-26).
Josiah, King of Judah                                              640-609 BC                                          31 years                                    age: 8-39
  • Once again the best that God can do for leadership is a child. Amon’s son, Josiah becomes king at age 8. “He did what was right in the sight of the LORD and walked in the ways of David” (2 Kin 22:2).
  • At the age of 16 Josiah begins to earnestly seek God.
  • At the age of 20 Josiah begins to purge Judah of all the high places Solomon had built, the Asherah poles and carved and cast images used for pagan worship.
  • At the age of 26 Josiah begins to restore and cleanse the temple. During this process the priests find the Book of Law. When reading it to Josiah, he tears his clothes and weeps and sends to inquire of God about what is written in the book of the prophetess Huldah, understanding that Judah has incurred guilt and wrath of God (2 Kin 22:11-14).
  • She answers “This is what the LORD says: I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people, according to everything written in the book … tell the king of Judah … Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the LORD … and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you … I will gather you to your fathers, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place” (2 Kin 22:15-20).
  • King Josiah then gathers all the people of Jerusalem, great and small, along with the elders of Judah, reads the entire law to them and leads them in making a covenant with the Lord to obey his commandments (2 Kin 23:1-3).
  • They cleanses the temple of pagan artifacts and depose pagan priest sacrificing at the high places, destroyed and defiled the high places themselves, including those sacrificing children. Josiah extends these reforms even into former Israel, tearing down the high places, including the one Jeroboam had built at Bethel, fulfilling a 200 year old prophecy by a prophet from Judah (1 Kin 13:1-3, 2 Kin 23:4-20).
  • King Josiah then celebrates the passover with all the people. “No such passover had been kept since the days of the judges … Nevertheless, the LORD did not turn away from the heat of his fierce anger, which burned against Judah because of all that Manasseh had done … So the LORD said, “I will remove Judah also from my presence as I removed Israel” (2 Kin 23:23-26). Personal obedience is still rewarded, but the nation as a whole is on the pathway to judgment.
  • When Pharaoh Neco of Egypt marches to assist Assyria in battle against Babylon Josiah goes out to confront him. Neco tells him to not provoke an unnecessary battle. Josiah doesn’t listen, engages in battle and is mortally wounded. Judah mourns for him, and the prophet Jeremiah writes a lamentation (2 Kin 23:28-30, 2 Chr 35:20-26).
Jehoahaz, king of Judah                                         609 BC                                                  3 months                                          age: 23
  • Jehoahaz (=Shallum) succeeds his godly father Josiah as king of Judah by the will of the people (2 Chr 36:1).
  • Yet “he did evil in the sight of the LORD just as his ancestors had done” (2 Kin 23:32).
  • Pharaoh Neco, returning victorious from the battle at Charchemish, deposes Jehoahaz and takes him captive to Egypt, making his brother Jehoiakim (=Eliakim) king in his stead. Jehoahaz dies in Egypt (2 Kin 23:31-34, 2 Chr 36:2-4).
Jehoiakim, King of Judah                                       609-598 BC                                          11 years                                      age: 25-36
  • Jehoiakim, son of Josiah, brother of Jehoahaz is put on the throne by Egypt.
  • In order to pay off the taxes imposed by Egypt, he hands over the treasures of (presumably) temple and palace, but has to additionally tax Judah to meet the demand (2 Kin 23:35).
  • “He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD” (2 Kin 23:37).
  • In 605 BC Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, invades Judah, exiles Judeans, makes Jehoiakim his vassal and plunders the temple and palace (2 Kin 24:1, 2 Chr 36:7-8).
  • After 3 years (in 602 BC) Jehoiakim rebels against Nebuchadnezzar. and God sends Babylonians, Arameans, Moabites and Ammonites “He sent them to destroy Judah, in accordance with the word of the LORD proclaimed by his servants the prophets. 3 Surely these things happened to Judah according to the LORD’s command, in order to remove them from his presence because of the sins of Manasseh… including the shedding of innocent blood … and the LORD was not willing to forgive” (2 Kin 24:2-4).
  • Babylon promptly re-invades the entire area (from Euphrates to the Wadi of Egypt, including Judah) and besieges Jerusalem. Jehoiachin dies during the siege.
Jehoiachin, King of Judah                                      597 BC                                                   3 months                                         age: 18
  • Jehoiachin (=Jeconiah, =Coniah) succeeds his father Jehoiakim as King of Judah during the siege. “He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD” (2 Kin 24:9).
  • Jehoiachin gives himself up to Nebuchadnezzar, who deports him, the queen mother, his servants, officers, palace officials, fighting men, artisans, smiths … all except the poorest people. Babylon again loots the treasures of temple and palace (2 Kin 24:10-16, 2 Chr 36:9-10). Not only has Judah lost its land but now it loses all its talent and leadership. The land is left to those who have been most oppressed by the wickedness of Judah, the poor!
Zedekiah, King of Judah                                          597-586 BC                                         11 years                                    age: 21-32
  • Nebuchadnezzar puts Jehoiachin’s uncle Zedekiah (=Mattaniah), son of Josiah, on the throne of Judah, as vassal to Babylon.
  • “He did evil in the sight of the LORD … He did not humble himself before the prophet Jeremiah who spoke from the mouth of the LORD … He stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the LORD … All the leading priests and the people also were exceedingly unfaithful, following all the abominations of the nations; and they polluted the house of the LORD” (2 Chr 36:12-14, 2 Kin 24:18-20). King, officers, priests and people alike are in total rejection of God’s law and word.
  • In its end stage (see Jeremiah) Judah is characterized by deep idolatry, persistent injustice and a completely corrupt leadership. When finally conquered, Judah is more lawless than Babylon. For the poor of Judah the conquest doesn’t make things any worse than they already are.
  • Against Jeremiah’s warnings Zedekiah rebels against Babylon, bringing on a third Babylonian invasion and gruesome siege to Jerusalem (2 Chr 36:13, 2 Kin 25:1-3).
  • The city is breached, Zedekiah, his family and some troops flee. They are captured and Nebuchadnezzar has Zedekiah’s sons are killed, and Zedekiah blinded and brought captive to Babylon (2 Kin 25:4-7).
  • Jerusalem and temple are breached, burned and razed to the ground. The remaining people and treasures are deported to Babylon, with only the poorest of the poor remaining for basic agriculture (2 Chr 36:15-21, 2 Kin 25:8-21).
Summary for the nation of Judah
  • Judah lasted from 931-586 BC a mere 345 years
  • Judah has 20 kings in only one dynasty by God’s grace
  • once almost the entire dynasty is terminated Athaliah
  • 4 of 23 kings (17%) die by assassination
  • 2 kings confirm their power by killing their brothers and others
  • average reign per king is 21 years
  • lapses repeatedly and increasingly into idolatry, judged by God through Babylon
  • God’s comment: “The LORD … sent word to them … again and again … But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the LORD was aroused … and there was no remedy. … God gave them all into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar. He carried to Babylon … the treasures of the LORD’s temple … of the king and his officials … They set fire to God’s temple and broke down the wall of Jerusalem; they burned all” (2 Chr 36:15-19).
  • Like Adam and the garden, Cain and his exile, the days of Noah and the sons of Jacob perpetrating genocide, the violence and destructiveness of both Israel and Judah has reached the point of no return. “There was no remedy.”
  • In mercy God takes away self-government and exiles them, though promising a return to the land and to Him. God is always faithful to himself, his ways and his people.
  • Within 70 years the Jews will be allowed to return to their land, rebuild the temple and the wall of Jerusalem. But the nation will never get back to the glory days of Solomon. It will remain under foreign powers, suffer occupation by Medo-Persia, Greece, the Ptolemies, Seleucids and finally their own corrupt Hasmonean dynasty.

What is God laboring to tell us with this long and tragic history? What is he instructing concerning political justice? What is he teaching about his ways for today’s nations?