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Israel, Division of the Kingdoms of

Problems for Israel began during the time that King David ruled the land. It all started when he committed adultery with Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba, before killing him. In 2 Samuel 12:10 God told David that the sword wasn’t going to depart from his house because of this sin. Even though the punishments by God were carried out during David’s reign; Solomon and his grandson Rehoboam had experienced some of these problems as well. All three rulers were indirectly responsible for the division that was to come upon Israel.  The Division of the Kingdoms is placed on the Bible Timeline Chart at 975 BC.

Solomon’s Sin and Rehoboam’s Trouble

God warned Solomon not turn from being obedient to his commands. Solomon allowed his heart to be changed by his many different wives and concubines. As a result of his actions, God had decided to split the kingdom in half. This prophecy wasn’t going to take place in Solomon’s lifetime because of God’s promise to David. God’s judgment had fallen on Israel during the rule of his son Rehoboam. Once King Solomon had died King Rehoboam took the throne and people despised his rule.

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Map of the United Kingdom of Israel, around the time of David and Saul (11th century B.C. Vassal states and defeated kingdoms in red.)

The Kingdom Splits

Many of the tribes of Israel didn’t like Rehoboam’s policies because they thought they were worse than some of his father’s. Though Solomon was a highly honored ruler, he did burden the people with labor and taxes. As a result of these actions, the people wanted Rehoboam to take a different approach to rule. But he refused and decided to make things harder on the people. His actions caused ten of the tribes of Israel to break away and form their kingdom.

Jeroboam and the people responded to Rehoboam by stating that they will no longer live under his rule. All of the people of Israel departed to their houses except for the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.

Jeroboam and the Ten Tribes

The Israelites made Jeroboam their king. The Israelite kingdom consisted of the tribes of Reuben, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Ephraim, Manasseh and Levi. Once Jeroboam was in power, he began to worship two golden calves. As a result of this act, God said that he handled leading Israel back into sin. As a result of this sin, many of the kings after Jeroboam didn’t rule very long or very well because they worshipped the calves, and God judged them for their disobedience.

The Strife of Two Kingdoms

Rehoboam and Jeroboam were going to go to war initially, but God had advised the king not to fight against his brothers at this particular time in history. They both still ruled Israel and Judah and built up their armies. They eventually fought battles against one another that lasted for many years.

The significance of this split can still be seen today because the current Israeli state consists of people who are not all Jews. This is because the ten tribes that were conquered by Assyria never returned from their captivity. One day God will reunite the whole nation again. Ezekiel 37:15-17 explains how this will take place.

Biblical References

  •  2 Samuel 12:10 God told David that the sword wasn’t going to depart from his house because of his sin with Bathsheba.
  • 1 Kings 9: 6-7 God warns Solomon about being obedient to his commands.
  • 1 Kings 11: 11-13 God decided to split the Kingdom in half because of his disobedience with his many foreign wives.
  • 1 Kings 12: 1-24 Rehoboam refuses to listen to the people’s demands when he becomes king and as a result of his actions he causes the kingdom to Israel to split in half. He rules the southern kingdom of Judah.
  • 1 Kings 12: 25-33 Northern Israel is ruled by Jeroboam and he starts the Golden Calf cult that will harm the Israelites relationship with God for many years.
  • 1 Kings 12: 20-24 Rehoboam and Jeroboam initiates an ongoing war between Israel and Judah.