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Israel, Wars with

 The Consequences of Disobedience

Israel was greatly protected by God, but through disobedience, they experience many wars and hardships. This event is recorded on the Bible Timeline Chart between 1004 BC and 904 BC. It all started with exogamy or marriage outside of the ethnic group. This was generally frowned upon and even expressly forbidden in Israel in the ancient times (Deuteronomy 7:3-4). The patriarchs such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob practiced endogamy, marriage within the group. They even went as far as marrying their own close relatives.

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The law against intermarriage with other ethnic groups that surround Israel was laid out to prevent them from worshiping other gods and ensure Israel’s fidelity to Yahweh. Israel was not chosen because of any special attributes it might have, but simply because of God’s love (Deuteronomy 7:7-11). This covenant was made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, so the people must keep it or there will be consequences as shown in the Books of Judges and Kings.

Israel_War
“Solomon sinned by acquiring many foreign wives. Solomon’s descent into idolatry, Willem de Poorter, Rijksmuseum.”

The command to unconditionally obey the Lord was also passed by David to his son in 1 Kings 2:1-4, but Solomon was led astray because of his marriage to foreign women. It was said that he married 700 wives of royal birth (which included an Egyptian princess) and had 300 concubines. They led him to worship and build shrines to other gods in the Canaanite pantheon such as Chemosh, Ashtoreth (Astarte), and Molech (Moloch). The consequences of this particular disobedience were reaped by Solomon’s descendants firsthand.

God warned Solomon to turn away from worshiping other gods but the warning fell on deaf ears. As a result, God promised to tear the kingdom away from Solomon’s son and give a portion of it instead to one of Solomon’s own servants. God still honored his covenant with David by leaving a piece of the kingdom to Solomon’s son where his dynasty reigned over the years.

Jeroboam, King of Israel and Rehoboam, King of Judah (1 Kings 11:26 to 1 Kings 14)

Similar to Kings before him, Jeroboam was appointed ruler over Israel through a prophecy. Jeroboam worked for Solomon as a foreman on one of his building projects. However, a meeting with the prophet Ahijah would change his life forever. After tearing his new cloak, the prophet gave Jeroboam 10 pieces of the scraps which symbolized the ten tribes of Israel, thus fulfilling God’s warning to Solomon before he died. Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam after this prophecy and Jeroboam fled to Egypt afterward.

Solomon died years later and his son Rehoboam now held the throne. As the person who threatened his life was now dead, Jeroboam was compelled to come back to Israel and fulfill the prophecy. Meanwhile, Rehoboam was not doing very well as king either. Solomon’s extensive building projects required heavy labor from the people he employed and at Rehoboam’s ascension as king, they petitioned the newly-crowned ruler to lighten their load.

Instead of following his father’s advisers who told him to grant the request of his people, Rehoboam followed the counsel of his friends and rejected the pleas of his own people. This sowed the seeds of discord in his own house resulting in a rebellion, fulfilling God’s warning and Ahijah’s prophecy. The 10 tribes which broke away from the House of David then elected to make Jeroboam as their king.

Descent into Civil War

Rehoboam mobilized an army of 180,000 men from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin (1 Kings 12:21) but was thwarted when the prophet Shemaiah told them not to fight their own brothers. Rehoboam’s counterpart in the northern kingdom was also busy making himself gold calves to prevent the people from worshiping in Jerusalem.

Jeroboam had made Shechem the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel and had the gold calves installed in Dan at the northern end of Israel and South in Bethel. In his insecurity, he committed a list of sins that may have surpassed or equaled Solomon in his worship of other gods.

Ahijah prophesied Jeroboam’s downfall in 1 Kings 14:1-19 while Rehoboam and the people of Judah were also busy making themselves Asherah poles and sacred pillars. The Egyptian pharaoh Sheshonq I (the Biblical Shishak) raided Jerusalem during Rehoboam’s reign. There were also constant wars between the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah during both kings’ time. Jeroboam outlived two kings of Judah and the few remaining years of his reign overlapped the reign of King Asa of Judah (1 Kings 15:1 and v 9). Wars between the two kingdoms continued until the reign of Baasha of Israel and Asa of Judah.

References:
Picture By Willem de Poorterhttp://www.rijksmuseum.nl/collectie/SK-A-757, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34249416
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