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Icons of the Bible: Jeroboam & Rehoboam - A Kingdom Divided

Updated: Sep 3, 2023

Icons of the Bible: Jeroboam & Rehoboam - A Kingdom Divided
Icons of the Bible: Jeroboam & Rehoboam - A Kingdom Divided

Icons of the Bible

What is the Story of Rehoboam and Jeroboam?

"Rehoboam and Jeroboam were both kings reigning in Israel’s divided kingdom. Rehoboam was one of Solomon’s sons and king of Judah in the south (1 Kings 11:43). Jeroboam was one of Solomon’s former officials, an Ephraimite, and king of Israel in the north (1 Kings 11:26).

While Solomon was still alive and Jeroboam was working for him, a prophet named Ahijah told Jeroboam that God would take ten of the twelve tribes of Israel away from Solomon’s son Rehoboam and give them to Jeroboam (1 Kings 11:29–31). This judgment against Solomon’s house came because they had forsaken God and worshiped idols (verse 33). Along with the announcement that Jeroboam would be king, God gave him a conditional promise: “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” (verse 38). When Solomon heard that God had chosen Jeroboam to rule, the king tried to kill Jeroboam, who fled to Egypt (verse 40).

After Solomon died, his son Rehoboam became king, and Jeroboam returned from Egypt (1 Kings 12:1–2). But Rehoboam was a vain and foolish man. Jeroboam, a “mighty man of valor,” warned Rehoboam not to make the same mistake his father had made by taxing them heavily to finance a luxurious lifestyle (verses 3–4). Rehoboam defied the advice to lighten the yoke of oppression: “My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions!” (1 Kings 12:14).." from the article: What is the story of Rehoboam and Jeroboam?

painting of Rehoboam and jeroboam
Rehoboam and Jeroboam

The Divided Kingdom

"The strains that existed in the Jewish kingdom became evident even during the lifetime of King Solomon.

The Jewish people, by nature, are very difficult to unite. They are fiercely independent and independent-minded. The unity that existed during the reigns of Kings Saul, David and Solomon was not artificial, but it depended upon the grandeur of the leader’s personality. Ordinary leaders are incapable of holding the Jewish people together. Unfortunately, the Sauls, Davids and Solomons of the world are rare. That is why most of the time the Jewish people do not find themselves united.

By Solomon’s time, the Jewish people had defeated their enemies, built the Temple, developed a burgeoning economy, become the center of the civilized world and achieved peace. They had reached the zenith. The problem with reaching the top is that the only way to go is down.

It only took a few years after the death of Solomon (I Kings 11:43) for the Jewish kingdom to divide and become two irrevocably separate kingdoms. The ten northern tribes made their own government and were called Israel with their capital the city of Samaria. The two southern tribes, Judah and Benjamin, remained loyal to the House of David centered in Jerusalem. They became known and the kingdom of Judea (from whence the word “Jew” was eventually derived).

This division continued for approximately160 years until the Assyrians defeated the kingdom of Israel, sending it into exile. That left only the kingdom of Judea, which itself existed just another 160 years until the Babylonians conquered them and drove them into exile.


The event that Jewish Tradition marks as the beginning of the end for the Jewish kingdom was Solomon’s marriage to the daughter of Pharaoh. That single act undermined him in his role as leader.

There was a brilliant young scholar at the time by the name of Jeroboam ben Nebat. He would become one of Judaism’s greatest villains and the man singly responsible for sealing the tragic fate of the kingdom. In truth, he was an extraordinarily gifted, superior person with an abundance of charisma, as well as a great organizer and, above all, a magnificent scholar.[1]

How could such a person fail so miserably?

The force which drove all his actions – indeed, his life – was not a desire to better king and country but the pursuit of power. That was the fuel that burned in his engine.

Why did Jeroboam deserve to be king, the Talmud asks? Because he was not afraid to chastise Solomon. Why did he come to such an evil end, the Talmud asks? Because he did it publicly, for his own self-aggrandizement, in a way to show up Solomon.[2]

That was the beginning of his undoing.." from the article: The Divided Kingdom

map of judah and israel
The Divided Kingdom

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