O.T. Handout 27: Deity concept, Hezekiah, Uzziah,
Divided Kingdom, king’s rules, Shemaiah, Jereboam, Rehoboam, Jehoshaphat, List of kings of Israel, Judah
En Gedi, 2 Chronicles July 2014
It is important to understand that development of the concept of Deity did not just come upon the Hebrews, the Israelites in the desert, or even the Jews later on. It evolved through its prophets as they preached to the generations of their time. It evolved through successive teachers. And this continued with the preachings of Jesus Christ.
Remember that Melchizedek taught Abraham that the Lord was the source of all truth, stability and constancy. He taught his people to repent and love God. (Alma 13:17-18). Moses was the great organizer. He selected the best in the religions and mores of Egypt and Palestine, associated them with the teachings of Melchizedek, and organized the Hebrew ceremonial system of worship. When he died, these traditions rapidly deteriorated.
Joshua tried to hold the tribesmen to true concept of an everlasting god, but was not successful. It took Samuel the prophet to teach that God-Yahweh – is unchanging, forever the same, perfect and divine. Isaiah and those who followed him added to the character of God as a Deliverer through service. As we pay attention to the specifics and depth of the way these successive prophets taught the Israelites, we learn that their understanding of the character of the Lord evolved from a tribal god to one who is merciful to bless and save – loving Father of mankind.
The Hebrews had been preached the great choice between good and evil – a god not beneficent nor loving. They were the chosen People. How were they to build an understanding and love for Deity without a correct understanding of Him? Their disappointment was more racial than religious.
After the death of Solomon there was a civil war and Israel divided north and south. The north was called Israel and the south was called Judah. Each has a line of kings ruling from their royal palaces. The kings of the northern kingdom of Israel were all wicked. The kings of the southern kingdom of Judah were both wicked and good. Some of the great kings like Hezekiah and Uzziah came from the southern kingdom of Judah. The later king of Assyria reigned from the 9th century BC until the fall of Assyria in 612 BC.
Before Israel had even entered the promised land, Moses prophetically counseled them about establishing kings to rule over them. The instructions were clear: if the people ever chose to have a king, they must select someone who met certain criteria.
A king had to be—
1. One chosen by the Lord.
2. A member of the house of Israel and not a Gentile.
3. One who did not seek to “multiply horses” (make extensive preparations for aggressive warfare).
4. One who would not lead Israel back to Egypt (back to their worldly ways).
5. One who would not multiply wives and wealth unto himself.
6. One who followed the law of God in ruling the people.
7. One who kept the statutes of God (see Deuteronomy 17:14–20; Mosiah 23:8; 29:13).
Remember Rehoboam of Israel was one of Solomon’s sons and as successor he laid a heavier yoke on the people (1Kgs 12:4-11). (Solomon had about 1000 wives, concubines. Only one son bore his name). His reasoning was that his father had spent great amounts for buildings and luxuries, including the continuation of war with the Ephraimites.
Scriptural accounts are that Rehoboam readied for war with 180,000 men against Jeroboam but was advised to refrain by Shemaiah= God heard (1Kgs 12:22-24). Israel and Judah were in a state of war throughout the 17 year reign of Rehoboam. He was in Shechem when he was made king. The city had a rich history: Abraham worshipped there (Gen 12:6). Jacob built an altar and bought land there (Gen 33:18-20), Joseph was buried there (Joshua 24:32) and it was the geographic center of the northern tribes.
Jereboam (1Kgs 11:26-40) was an Ephraimite who became the first king of the northern Israelite Kingdom of Israel after the 10 tribes revolted against Rehoboam of Judah.
He had fled under the rule of Rehoboam, but now returned and demanded constitutional rule, which was refused. Jeroboam rebuilt and fortified Shechem as his capital. He began to separate from Kingdom of Judah, putting an end to the United Monarchy. He reigned 22 years in Israel. He set up golden calves to worship, a policy that was followed by the succeeding kings of Israel, but the prophecies of doom concerning the fall of both the House of Jeroboam and the northern kingdom as a whole were carried out. Judah had just been conquered and turned into a vassal of Egypt, while Israel stood between the Egyptian and Mesopotamian empires. The northern kingdom of Israel flourished over several centuries. It grew richer, following the pattern of constitutional and religious development.
The tribe of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin, the smallest and weakest tribe, as well as the closest territorial neighbor to the capital, Jerusalem, supported Rehoboam and together formed the kingdom of Judah (1 Kings 12:21–24; 2 Chron 11:1–4,12,23). Through the years that followed, many members of other tribes migrated to the Southern Kingdom and became a part of the nation of Judah. Specific mention is made of Levi (2 Chron 11:13–17), Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon ( 2 Chron 15:9).
Of the twenty rulers who reigned over Judah from the death of Solomon to the fall of Jerusalem and the Jews’ captivity and exile at the hands of the Babylonians, twelve are characterized in the scriptural record as evil or wicked. Only four advanced their nation economically and religiously. As in the north, numerous prophets were called to cry repentance to Judah, including Micaiah, Isaiah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Lehi, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.
First Kings 12:17 has particular interest for students of the Book of Mormon. This passage helps to explain why such men as Lehi and Nephi, who were descendants of Manasseh (Alma 10:3), and the family of Ishmael, who were descendants of Ephraim (1 Nephi 7:2), were living in the land of Jerusalem several generations after Rehoboam. Laban, a record-keeper for the tribe of Joseph, also lived in Jerusalem at the time of Lehi and Ishmael (1 Nephi 3:2–4). This matter is explained more fully in 2 Chronicles 11:13–17 and 15:9 than in 1 Kings.
The books of Chronicles were originally one book written to the post-exilic (after the Exile) to provide an accurate historical record and help the Jews recognize their heritage.
En Gedi belonged to Judah (Jos 15:62) while under Israelite occupation. David, seeking to avoid Saul, hid in one of its caves. It was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzer in 582 b.c. Later it was rebuilt for the Hasmoneans, then destroyed again. Bar Kochba, leader of the Jewish uprising in A.D. 135 that restored the Temple, used En Gedi as a hideout.
Strengthened himself against Israel: Jehoshaphat (yeho sha phat), David’s keeper of state chronicles, recognized that the northern kingdom was a danger to Judah militarily, politically, and especially spiritually. He therefore strengthened the defenses against this threat and specifically did not according to the acts of Israel. This was no small accomplishment. In those days kings and kingdoms were fragile and under constant threat. Yet if the descendants of David would seek God first,
All Judah gave presents to Jehoshaphat, and he had riches and honor in abundance: Because Jehoshaphat trusted God, God lifted him up and exalted him as a king. As his heart took delight in the ways of the LORD, the LORD gave him the desires of his heart (Psalms 37:4).
The people of Moab with the people of Ammon, and others with them besides the Ammonites, came to battle against Jehoshaphat of Judah. This threat to Jehoshaphat and his kingdom happened after his return to seeking God following his near death when he allied himself with king Ahab of Israel. His nation fasted and asked help from Lord.
This is a recurring theme in 2 Chronicles: the leaders who seek the LORD. We can expect God to do great things when His people, and especially the leaders of His people, seek the Him. Others who sought the LORD in 2 Chronicles include:
• The faithful remnant of Israel
• (2 Chron 11:16)
• The people of Judah under king Asa
• (2 Chron 14:4, 15:12-13)
• Jehoshaphat in the early part of his reign
• (2 Chron 19:3)
• King Hezekiah (2 Chron 31:21)
• King Josiah (2 Chron 34:3)
• Compare: Alma 44:6,, Alma 2:14, Mormon 8:8, Ether
15:15, Alma 62:351,41.
The Kings of Israel (all wicked)
Jeroboam I (933-911) twenty-two years
Nadab (911-910) two years
Baasha (910-887) twenty-four years
Elah (887-886) two years
Zimri (886) seven days
Omri (886-875) twelve years
Ahab (875-854) twenty-two years
Ahaziah (855-854) two years
Jehoram (Joram) (854-843) twelve years
Jehu (843-816) twenty-eight years
Jehoahaz (820-804) seventeen years
Jehoash (Joash) (806-790) sixteen years
Jeroboam II (790-749) forty-one years
Zechariah’ (748) six months
Shallum (748) one month
Menahem (748-738) ten years
Pekahiah (738-736) two years
Pekah (748-730) twenty years
Hoshea (730-721) nine years
The Kings of Judah (8 were good)
Rehoboam (933-916) seventeen years
Abijam (915-913) three years
Asa (Good) (912-872) forty-one years
Jehoshaphat (Good) (874-850) twenty-five years
Jehoram (850-843) eight years
Ahaziah (843) one year
Athaliah (843-837) six years
Joash (Good) (843-803) forty years
Amaziah (Good) (803-775) 29 years
Azariah (Uzziah) (Good) (787-735) fifty-two years
Jotham (Good) (749-734) sixteen years
Ahaz (741-726) sixteen years
Hezekiah (Good) (726-697) 29 years
Manasseh (697-642) fifty-five years
Amon (641-640) two years
Josiah (Good) (639-608) thirty-one years
Jehoahaz (608) three months
Jehoiachim (608-597) eleven years
Jehoiachin (597) three months
Zedekiah (597-586) eleven years
THE KINGS OF ISRAEL AND JUDAH
The Books of First and Second Kings in the Bible reveal the history of Israel and Judah from the time of David all the way to the Babylonian captivity. When David’s son Solomon died the history of both kingdoms began, but there is something quite remarkable when you compare the lives of the kings in each kingdom. Their attitudes of worship, the way they ran the government, and the reflection of them upon the people that served them.
The Kingdom of Judah descended from the line of King David according to the calling and choosing of Almighty God. Each of the 21 kings was a son of his father from David to the captivity in Babylon, which was a period that lasted for 510 years. During the entire reign of the kings of Judah there was not one revolt, this is very peculiar in any kingdom in world history. This was far from true when looking at the kingdom of Israel in the North who followed their first King Jeroboam into depraved idolatry. Many of their kings were originally usurpers who rebelled against their king, and the tribe of which they belonged was not a big importance to them. There were 19 kings during their 311 years, from Jeroboam to the Assyrian captivity in 722 BC.
I Kings reveals 126 years of history and II Kings reveals 311 years of history. 2 Chronicles contains the same information as I and II Kings except for the fact that in Kings the history of Israel and Judah are melded together. 2 Chronicles there was only the house of David and the kings of Judah, with the whole history of the Kings of Israel removed. The only time a northern kingdom of Israel king is mentioned is when that historyintersects with one of the kings of Judah. The book of 2 Chronicles gives an account of the family and line of David and the subject is made very big. This is of great benefit because it allows us to see God’s faithfulness to his promises to David, and how David’s descendents were faithful in preserving the line of David. This allowed the promise of the Messiah to gain solid ground in the history of redemption.
When tracing the history of the kings of Judah it is easy to observe that every King who followed the Lord had great prosperity in his kingdom. On the other hand if a king arose who did not follow the Lord the kingdom suffered greatly, the people did not prosper, and once their sins reached an obvious climax great tragedy would happen.
The LORD spoke a very true Word in 1 Samuel 2:30, “Them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.” 2 Kings 17:22-23
“For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them; Until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day.”
The Jewish religion of the Old Testament was born in Babylon during the captivity. The Hebrews concluded that if they were to prevail, they must convert the gentiles; they had to become the chosen servants of God. The leaders preached that the Jews would be a chosen people, not due to special indulgences from God, but because they would perform the special service of carrying the truth of one God to all people. But when the Babylonian captivity ended, the Jewish people returned to their rituals. Without losing the concept of the Universal Father, the Hebrews fell into spiritual retrogression. Jewish theology refused to expand. Judaism persists today by virtue of its strong institutions and deep love of justice, wisdom, truth, and righteousness.
One reason ancient Israel developed into a monarchic state may have come from the persistent threat of the Philistines. These Sea Peoples arrived on the southern coasts of Canaan at about the same time Israel began to emerge as a people living in the villages of the central highlands. They were a significant, enduring threat requiring a more organized approach than what a judge could provide.
Another reason Israel shifted from a kinship based society to a monarchic state may have been a rapid increase in population in the highland villages, making a subsistence economy increasingly hard to maintain. Pooling resources across villages and trading with cities in the plains would help address the food needs of this increased population, also requiring greater organizational structures.
If we use Genesis as our predictor text, we’d expect kingship to emerge from Ephraim, chosen son of Joseph, first son of Rachel, wife whom Jacob loved. Book of Genesis closes with Joseph’s death and election of Ephraim. Later traditions suggest kingship will first emerge in northern territory of Ephraim.
With the advent of monarch, new bases of power emerge that operate independently from older tribal systems.
The ancient Near East as a whole understood kingship as a political institution closely tied to the divine realm. The Sumerian King List, a cuneiform text dating to the early 2nd millennium BC declares kingship itself was an institution “lowered from heaven.” In the “Epic of Gilgamesh” the ancient Mesopotamian king Gilgamesh was said to be “two-thirds god and one-third human.”
One way in which the Near Eastern kings publically expressed their closeness to the divine realm was through building temples to their sponsoring deities. David, after being anointed king of Israel, brought the Ark of the Covenant, the footstool of the Israelite god, to his capital city in Jerusalem. His son, Solomon built a temple to house the Ark, placing the “footstool “within it.