Division of the Kingdom
After David's strong leadership, Solomon was in a secure position as king of a great kingdom. However, he broke the covenant (Deut 17:16-17) and as judgement, God announced the division of Israel into two distinct kingdoms (1 Kg 11:9-13).
“Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, ‘Since this has been your mind and you have not kept my
covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and give
it to your servant. Yet for the sake of your father David I will not do it in your lifetime; I will tear it out of the hand of your son. I will not, however, tear away the entire kingdom; I will give one tribe to your son, for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen’.”
This is a summary of the history of kings of the northern kingdom of Israel.
In contrast to Judah, where there was a single dynasty of kings, which ultimately lead down to Jesus,
there were nine different dynastic families of kings of Israel. Some of these lasted for several generations, and many only lasted a single generation before being assassinated.
I. The house of Jeroboam (2 generations)
1. Jeroboam I (931-910) (1 Kg 11:26 - 14:20)
Jeroboam was an Ephraimite from a modest background. He was an industrious worker, noticed by Solomon and given oversight of Joseph's working contingent at the construction of the Millo.
Ahijah the prophet appointed him as king with a enacted message of a garment torn into twelve pieces,
ten of which were given to Jeroboam. A covenant was made: if Jeroboam obeyed the Lord, he would be
made a sure house. Solomon sought to kill Jeroboam, who fled to Shishak of Egypt (Sheshonk: 945-924),
the powerful founder of the 22nd dynasty, who eventually attacked Rehoboam of Judah (11:26-40).
After Solomon's death, Jeroboam came back and gathered an assembly at Shechem (12:1-3) to meet
Rehoboam, the son of Solomon. Rehoboam took the counsel of the young people, causing a separation
which God had predicted (12:6-20). Adoram was the taskmaster sent to put Israel to work was killed,
provoking Rehoboam to assemble 180,000 soldiers to retaliate. Shemaiah the prophet stopped them
Jeroboam declared religious independence from Jerusalem, setting one calf in Bethel and one in Dan
(12:25-33). A man of God from Judah prophesied at Bethel that the priests and the altar would be
destroyed by Josiah. Jeroboam's hand was paralysed and the altar torn down. God graciously restored
his hand (13:1-10).
The prophet Ahijah was consulted regarding Jeroboam's son's sickness and his future. Ahijah pronounced
God's judgement: the end of the dynasty, the child would die and the land deported beyond the Euphrates
Jeroboam was ordained by God, he had the opportunity to prosper, but through his rebellious insecurity, he set a pattern which was never to leave the Northern Kingdom: idolatry. God knew it and announced the Assyrian deportation 200 years before its fulfilment.
2. Nadab (910 - 909) (1 Kg 15:33-34)
Nadab was the younger son of Jeroboam. Calf worship continued. He was assassinated at Gibbethon in
Philistia after ruling for under two years.
II. The house of Baasha (2 generations)
3. Baasha (909 - 886) (1 Kg 16:1-4)
Baasha was from the tribe of Issachar. He killed King Nadab during the seige of Gibbethon. There was
constant war between Asa of Judah and Baasha of Israel (15:33 - 16:7). Around 900 BC, Baasha made
an alliance with King Benhadad of Syria. Benhadad broke it after Asa's gift to make him an ally of Judah.
Benhadad attacked and conquered several cities of Northern Israel, including Naphtali (15:19-20). The
hostilities were provoked by Baasha, who started to build Ramah in Benjamin (15:17), which held a
strategic position blocking the south-north traffic. After victories by Benhadad, Baasha stopped the
The prophet Jehu predicted that Baasha was exalted by God but was disobedient, so his dynasty would
be destroyed (16:1-4).
4. Elah (886 - 885) (1 Kg 16:8-10)
Elah, the son of Baasha reigned in Tirzah. He sent his army to beseige Gibbethon to continue what was
interrupted by Nadab's death. He was assassinated while drunk in Tirzah after under two years as king.
III. The house of Zimri (1 generation)
5. Zimri (885 - 5 days) (1 Kg 16:11-20)
Zimri was King Elah's commander of charioteers. He killed the king and all his family. When the news
reached Gibbethon, Omri, the army commander was made king by Israel. He marched to Tirzah, besieged it and took it. Zimri committed suicide by burning himself alive.
After his death there was four years of civil war, from the 27th to the 31st year of Asa of Judah (16:15-23). Israel was divided between Tibni and Omri, who finally took over and killed Tibni.
IV. The house of Omri (4 generations)
6. Omri (885 - 874) (1 Kg 16:21-28)
Omri reigned for six years in Tirzah and for six years in Samaria, which he had built. He was more evil than those before him. After two dynasties in two years, Omri brought stability which would last three generations. Assyrian clay tablets from 100 years later referred to Israel as 'The Land of Omri'.
Omri conquered Moab. The Moabite Stone, found by the Arnon in 1898, was written by King Mesha (2 Kg 3:4), states that Omri had conquered Moab in the days of Mesha's father. He made alliance with Phoenicia by his son Ahab marrying Jezebel, the Phoenician princess who was to bring so much evil to Israel.
He constructed the city of Samaria, situated on a hill 25 miles east from the Mediterranean and 42 miles north of Jerusalem, an ideal location to control trade routes. The hill, 300 feet above valleys of vineyards and olive orchards, was an easily defended observation point. Omri's palace was 175m by 88m (584 by 292 feet). It had open courts with rooms around them, a larger one was (16m by 8m (56 by 26 feet). The buildings were of yellow limestone, built with Phoenician precision, quarried on site.
7. Ahab (874 - 853) (1 Kg 16:24 - 22:40)
Ahab and his wife Jezebel are the most notorious couple of all the monarchy for their evil behaviour. They introduced Baal worship to Israel. In the book of Kings, much of their reign was devoted to the conflict between Jezebel and Elijah and God's fight against idolatry.
Jezebel was the daughter of the Sidonian king Ethbaal. She tried to stop the worship of Yahweh and
replace it with Baal worship. She killed all the prophets (18:13), manipulated Ahab to do her will,
enticing him to sin with taking Naboth's vineyard (21:25).
Ahab served and worshipped Baal, building it an altar and a house in Samaria and made an Asherah
(16:29-34). He also built cities and an ivory house (22:39).
As his power was so strong, God called a strong prophet: Elijah the Tishbite (ch 17-19). In the famine ordained by God (17:1), Elijah was fed first by ravens, then by a widow. Her son being resurrected,
finally provoked faith in the widow (17:24). After meeting with Obadiah, the loyal high official, Elijah
went and challenged Ahab and his prophets on Mount Carmel (18:1-19). The confrontation revealed God
as Almighty God and Baal as a dumb idol. Elijah killed all the prophets of Baal (18:30-40).
After Jezebel's death threat, Elijah fled as far as Beer-sheba in self-pity (19:1-3). A revelation of God's grace on Mount Sinai, was not in the earthquake, wind or fire, but in the still small voice. Elijah was commissioned for a new task, a promise that justice will prevail. There will be three means of
judgement: Jehu, Hazael of Syria and Elisha (19:15-18). Elisha was called, by killing his oxen, he makes
an irrevocable call to prophetic ministry in a dangerous time (19:19-21).
In 849, Benhadad, together with a coalition of 32 kings, besieged Samaria, demanding tribute from Ahab. God gave miraculous deliverance with the purpose of revealing himself to Ahab (20:1-21).
In the spring of 850 BC, Benhadad gathered a large army at Aphek in Bashan against Ahab, who made a
covenant with him for political reasons. The Assyrian ruler, Shalmaneser III was a threat to them both.
Militarily, the alliance was good, as together they defeated Assyria in a battle at Qarqar. Because Ahab
spared Benhadad, God announced through a prophet, doom on Ahab's life (20:23-41).
In 853, Ahab sought an alliance with Jehoshaphat of Judah to reconquer Ramoth-Gilead from Benhadad.
400 lying prophets approved. Micaiah did not and predicted defeat. Ahab, in spite of camouflaging
himself was killed, while the compromising Jehoshaphat was spared by the Lord (22:1-40).
8. Ahaziah (853 - 852) (1 Kg 22:51-53 & 2 Kg 1:1-17)
Ahaziah was as evil as his father, Ahab. When he fell through a lattice and was sick, he inquired of
Baalzebub, the god of Ekron (Philistia). God sent Elijah to him to judge. Two companies of fifty men
were consumed by God's fire as they tried to lay hold of Elijah. The third company was more reasonable
and were spared. Elijah pronounced that Ahaziah would not leave his sick bed and would die (2 Kg 1:1-
Ahaziah also made an alliance with Jehoshaphat to build ships at Ezion-geber to go to Tarshish. There
was a prophecy against the project and ships were wrecked (2 Chr 20:35-37).9. Jehoram (852 - 841) (2 Kg ch 3 - 8).
Jehoram put away the pillar of Baal, but still worshipped at the shrines at Bethel and Dan. Elisha was
God's prophet during the reign of Jehoram. Elijah's ministry was predominately to demonstrate God's
holiness and power. Elisha, his pupil, revealed God's grace. God reached out to Israel, in spite of the
unrighteous kingship. While some were acts of judgement (Gehazi made leprous), most were restorative,
affecting individual groups of people. Naaman was the best example, who certainly had been involved
in the Syrian raids against Israel.
Both of these oral prophets have left an important message to us today. Firstly, God will vindicate his name even in the darkest time of history. Secondly, he will not stop extending his healing and caring
action because of man's sinfulness.The first military account during the reign of Jehoram was similar to Ahab's last battle. In alliance with Jehoshaphat, they went to war against Moab, joined by Edom as King Mesha had refused to any more
pay tribute to Jehoram. After water was miraculously provided through Elisha, the coalition defeated
Moab. Mesha sacrificed his son, which caused Israel to withdraw (2 Kg 3).
The next encounter was with Benhadad, who wrote a letter on behalf of Naaman (2 Kg 5:1-7).
Then came another war against Benhadad, when Elisha disclosed the position of the Syrian camp (2 Kg
6:8-10). At Dotham, 10 miles north of Samaria, the Syrian armies were stricken with blindness. They
were led to Samaria, had their needs provided for on God's command, and then were sent back (2 Kg
Benhadad besieged Samaria, causing famine and cannibalism. Elisha prophesied imminent deliverance.
The Syrian camp was found deserted after they heard the sound of a great army (2 Kg 6:24 - ch 7).
About 841, Elisha predicted that Hazael would be the successor of the sick Benhadad, who died the next
day. He also announced more persecutions from Hazael on Israel (2 Kg 8:7-15). Soon after, Jehoram
allied with Ahaziah against Hazael. Jehoram was wounded at Ramoth-Gilead, and brought back to
Jezreel, another kingly city (2 Kg 9:28-29). At Ramoth, Jehu was anointed king by a prophet sent by
Elisha, and was called to destroy the house of Ahab (2 Kg 9:1-13).
V. The house of Jehu (5 generations)
10. Jehu (841 - 814) (2 Kg ch 9 - 10)
Jehu began his reign by being zealous for God. Ahaziah and Jezebel were slain (2 Kg 9:14-37). Ahab's seventy sons were beheaded, the remainder of Ahab's house in Jezreel, 42 kinsmen of Ahab, and the remainder of the house in Samaria were slain (2 Kg 10). The prophets of Baal, the worshippers and the priests were assembled and killed by eighty people and the house of Baal was demolished.
During Jehu's reign, Hazael conquered the Transjordan. Archaeology tells of a coalition between Hazael
and Jehu against Shalmaneser III of Assyria. They were defeated in 841 and the Assyrians required a
heavy tribute from Jehu (Black obelisk in British Museum).11. Jehoahaz (814 - 798) (2 Kg 13:1-9).
Jehoahaz was continually defeated first by Hazael, and then from 801 by Benhadad II. He had 10,000
foot soldiers left. His repentance brought relief to the nation. The saviour was the Assyrian seige of
Damascus by Adad-nirari III from 810 - 783. Heavy tribute was paid.
12. Jehoash (798 - 782) (2 Kg 13:10-25)
Around 800 to 795, Jehoash defeated Benhadad II three times, as predicted by Elisha, with the arrow of
victory. He reconquered territory lost by his father Jehoahaz. Amaziah of Judah challenged Jehoash at
Beth-Shemesh and lost. The wall of Jerusalem was partially destroyed, the treasuries were despoiled and
hostages taken, all ordained by God (2 Chr 25:20).
13. Jeroboam II (793 - 753) (2 Kg 14:23-29)
Jeroboam restored the land to the same boundaries as in the days of David and Solomon (14:25). He also
had control over Damascus, as ordained by God and spoken through the prophet Jonah (14:27).
During Jeroboam's reign, Assyria had a succession of weak leaders. The peace brought economic
prosperity and trade with Phoenicia.
Hosea and Amos condemned the north for abandoning God and oppressing the poor. Ivory was used to build mansions. Some administrative documents have been found. Great quantities of oil was bought at low price from the farmers (Amos 6:6). These economic as well as the moral iniquities caused the decline of Israel.
14. Zechariah (753 - 6 months) (2 Kg 15:8-12)
Zechariah only reigned six months before being killed by Shallum, ending five generations of Jehu's
VI. The house of Shallum (1 generation)
15. Shallum (752 - 1 month) (2 Kg 15:17-22)
Shallum reigned for only one month before being slain in Samaria.
VII. The house of Menahem (2 generations)
16. Menahem (752 - 742) (2 Kg 15:17-22)
At the time of Shallum's assassination, he sacked Tappuah, 6 miles south-west of Shechem and even
killed pregnant women. During his reign, Tiglath-pileser III (called Pul - 15:17) became one of the
strongest rulers of Assyria. He strengthened the empire after 3 weak rulers. He annexed Babylonia,
Urarku in the north, as well as the lands west of the Euphrates, including Syria and Israel. He was the
first Assyrian ruler to deport prisoners. In his campaign in 743, a heavy tribute was given by Menahem:
1000 talents of silver (34 tonnes).
17. Pekahiah (742 - 740) (2 Kg 15:23-26)
Pekahiah, the son of Menahem was slain in Samaria by his captain, Pekah, who they seized the throne.
VII. The house of Pekah (1 generation)
18. Pekah (740 - 732) (2 Kg 15:27-31)
The Book of Kings indicates that he ruled for twenty years (2 Kg 15:27), which would start his reign in 752, the year of Menahem's accession. However, he may have ruled for the first twelve years in Gilead, as he overthrew Pekah (15:25). Also Menahem, when he gave tribute to Tiglath-pileser, is said to have done so 'to confirm his hold of royal power', just as if it were threatened (15:19). After this, Pekah would not have dared to attack Menahem as it would have caused Assyrian hostility.
Pekah made an alliance with Rezin of Syria (750 - 732) against Ahab of Judah (2 Chr 16:5, Is 7:1) and
came to Jerusalem to beseige it (Is 7:1) as ordained by God (2 Chr 28:5,9). The coalition could not
conquer Ahaz (2 Kg 16:5), although 2 Chr 28:5-14 describes an invasion, that Rezin took many captives
and Pekah slew 120,000 soldiers and took 200,000 prisoners as well as possessions. This is explained
in 2 Chr 28:8-15, the prophet Obed stopped Pekah from enslaving his compatriots. Judah was sent back
home so was technically not conquered.
At the same time, Edom attacked Ahaz, which prompted Ahaz to ask Tiglath-pileser III for assistance.
After being given a present from the treasuries, the Assyrians came, marched up against Damascus and
killed Rezin (2 Kg 16:6-9, 2 Chr 28:16-17).
According to the Assyrian records, Tiglath-pileser's campaign of 734-732 took him to Philistia, which
he subdued, then on to Israel by 733, destroying cities in Galilee and Naphtali. People were deported to
Assyria, as was his custom. After Israel, the Assyrians continued up to Damascus, which they took in
732. Rezin was killed, thus ending the nation which was often used by God to judge Israel. Damascus
became an Assyrian province (2 Kg 16:9-10). Pekah was spared by Tiglath-pileser.
IX. The house of Hoshea (1 generation)
19. Hoshea (732 - 722) (2 Kg ch 17)
By this time, Israel had become a small vassal state paying regular tribute to Assyria, who had occupied the whole of Galilee and the Transjordan.
Hoshea rebelled and made an alliance with So, the weak king of Egypt. When Assyria came to suppress
the revolt, Hoshea tried to give them tribute again. It did not work and he was put in prison, the land was invaded and Samaria was besieged for three years (17:1-5). Unable to withstand, Samaria fell and its
inhabitants were deported to Assyria and further east in the land of Media (17:6).
In the year of the conquest of Samaria, Sargon II began to rule in Assyria. There are discussions whether he or Shalmaneser took Samaria, the indication in the Bible being that it was Shalmaneser (v3). The conquest of Samaria marks the end of Israel as a kingdom. In the same way as Damascus, it became an
Assyrian province. People from Babylon were brought to replace the Israelites, bringing their gods into
the land. The obvious result was syncretism (v 24-41), and the people became the Samaritans.