SAMUEL THROUGH CHRONICLES

Thus the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out to meet the Philistines in battle and camped beside Ebenezer while the Philistines camped in Aphek.

And the Philistines drew up in battle array to meet Israel. When the battle spread, Israel was defeated before the Philistines who killed about four thousand men on the battlefield. (1 Samuel 4:1-2).

The Philistines had become the dominate force along the Mediterranean coastline in the latter days of the Judges. For years there had been discord between the Philistines in the lowlands and the Israelites who lived in the hills.

Indeed, the reason that the Israelites lived in the hills is because the Philistines had iron chariots and this gave them greater mobility in the lowlands and made them masters of the coastal areas (Judges 1:19). But now, for the first time, the Israelites fight a pitched battle against the Philistines. The result is disastrous.

The place of this battle was known as Ebenezer. The name "Ebenezer" is a compound made up of the joining of two words.

a. Eben is the word for "stone."

b. Ezar is the verb, "to help."

It therefore means "the stone of help." Unfortunately, there was no help for the people of Israel on that day.

When the people came into the camp, the elders of Israel said, "Why has the Lord defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us take to ourselves from Shiloh the ark of the covenant of the Lord, that it may come among us and deliver us from the power of our enemies."

So the people sent to Shiloh and from there they carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts who sits above the cherubim; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. (1 Samuel 4:3-4).

In light of their defeat, the Israelites determine to bring the ark of the covenant with them into their next battle against the Philistines. They are thinking of it as a good like charm (they had been watching too many Harrison Ford movies). The second battle is another defeat for Israel.

First Battle of Ebenezer

4,000 Israelites killed

Second Battle of Ebenezer

30,000 Israelites killed

The ark is taken

Hophni & Phinehas are killed

When Eli the judge of Israel hears the news that the ark has been taken, he falls backward off his seat, breaks his neck and dies "for he was old and heavy" (Judges 4:18). Eli illustrates the tragedy of a lack of church discipline. He allowed his sons to remain in the priesthood and did not seek to have them removed, in spite of the fact of their continuing sin.

The wife of Phinehas hears the news. She is pregnant and the shock of this tragedy brings on the labor pains. As she dies in childbirth, the women try to console her, telling her that she has given birth to a son. But with her dying breath, she names the child "Ichabod."

And she called the boy Ichabod, saying, "The glory has departed from Israel," because the ark of God was taken and because of her father-in-law and her husband.

And she said, "The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God was taken." (1 Samuel 4:21-22).

Although the ark is ultimately returned, this great defeat of Israel pointed out their need for the strong leadership of a king.

 

SAUL

From the days in the wilderness, God had told the Israelites that one day they would have a king (Deuteronomy 17:14-17). And yet, it had been understood up to this point that GOD was their king. When the Israelites had offered the kingship to Gideon, he had refused, insisting that "the Lord shall rule over you" (Judges 8:23). That all changes when the people of Israel ask Samuel for a king.

Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah; 5 and they said to him, "Behold, you have grown old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations." (1 Samuel 8:4-5).

In verse 1, Samuel had appointed his sons to be judges over Israel. Now the elders ask Samuel to appoint a king to judge them. There are several things which ought to be mentioned in defense of Israelís request for a king:

  1. The request was initiated because of the ungodly successors to Samuel. In verse 20 they shall add that they are seeking one who would fight their battles.
  2. Instead of seeking a king on their own, they sought the right man from the spokesman of the Lord.
  3. God had told the Israelites that one day they would have a king (Deuteronomy 17:14-17). Nevertheless, their request was perceived as a rejection, not only of Samuel and his sons, but even of the Lord who tells Samuel that "they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them" (8:7). One of the problems with a king was that many of the surrounding nations considered their kings to be gods.

The Lord issues a warning of what it will mean for the Israelites to have a king to reign over them.

They have come and asked the Lord for a king. Before it is all over, they will come and ask God to take their king back (8:18). There is a lesson here. It is that you be careful what you pray for. You might get it.

The career of Saul is set forth in three acts, each of which consists of several parallel scenes.

Act 1

Act 2

Act 3

Scene 1

Saul meets Samuel and is anointed by him (9-10)

Saul meets Samuel and is condemned by him (15).

Saul meets Samuel and his death is foretold (28).

Scene 2

Success in battle with the help of God (11).

Success in battle with the help of David (17-18).

Failure in battle and suicide (31).

Scene 3

Saulís failure before Samuel and Jonathan (13-14).

Saulís failure before David (19-26).

1. The Anointing of Saul.

Saul comes on the scene, not seeking a kingdom or a throne, but looking for some lost donkeys. As they are about to give up on their quest, Saulís servant suggests that they go and inquire from the local Seer about the missing donkeys.

They discuss this plan. Saul is reluctant because they have no gift to give to the Seer. But the servant has a quarter of a shekel of silver. This was not a coin, for coinage would not be invented until the 7th century B.C. This was a weight.

Meanwhile, the Lord had revealed to Samuel that a man was coming from the tribe of Benjamin who would be anointed as the deliverer of the Israelites. Thus, when Saul arrives at the gate of the city, he is met by Samuel who informs him that the donkeys have been found and then proceeds to invite him as the guest of honor to a special dinner.

Then Samuel took the flask of oil, poured it on his head, kissed him and said, "Has not the Lord anointed you a ruler over His inheritance?" (1 Samuel 10:1).

Thus Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near, and the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot.

Then he brought the tribe of Benjamin near by its families, and the Matrite family was taken. And Saul the son of Kish was taken; but when they looked for him, he could not be found.

Therefore he inquired further of the Lord, "Has the man come here yet?" So the Lord said, "Behold, he is hiding himself by the baggage."

So they ran and took him from there, and when he stood among the people, he was taller than any of the people from his shoulders upward.

And Samuel said to all the people, "Do you see him whom the Lord has chosen? Surely there is no one like him among all the people." So all the people shouted and said, "Long live the king!" (1 Samuel 10:20-24).

There is a touch of irony here. When we first saw Saul, he was being sent to look for missing donkeys. Now it is Saul who is missing and the people go looking for him. They find him hiding by the baggage.

2. The Nature of Saulís Kingship.

And Saul also went to his house at Gibeah; and the valiant men whose hearts God had touched went with him.

But certain worthless men said, "How can this one deliver us?" And they despised him and did not bring him any present. But he kept silent. (1 Samuel 10:26-27).

What happened after Saul had been proclaimed the first king of Israel? Did he move into the royal palace? He did not. There was no royal palace into which he could move.

When the celebration was over, there was nothing else for him to do but to return home. When next we see him, he will be at the south end of a northbound team of oxen.

Israel at this time was nothing more than a scattered and disunited collection of tribes. This was not a unified nation. You couldnít even get them to agree on what to eat for lunch. And they also did not agree that Saul should be their new king, no matter what Samuel had told them. But this changed dramatically when Saul led the Israelites to victory in battle.

3. Saul and the Ammonites.

Now Nahash the Ammonite came up and besieged Jabesh-gilead; and all the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, "Make a covenant with us and we will serve you."

But Nahash the Ammonite said to them, "I will make it with you on this condition, that I will gouge out the right eye of every one of you, thus I will make it a reproach on all Israel."

And the elders of Jabesh said to him, "Let us alone for seven days, that we may send messengers throughout the territory of Israel. Then, if there is no one to deliver us, we will come out to you." (1 Samuel 11:1-3).

There was bad blood between the Ammonites and the Israelites. The Ammonites were descendants of Lot through his incestuous relationship with one of his daughters (the name Ammon means "my father"). They occupied the territory north of the Arnon River and east of the Dead Sea.

Now they were back. The city which they were now attacking was Jabesh-gilead. By strange coincidence, this is the same city which had been destroyed by the Israelites for not joining in the punitive attack against the tribe of Benjamin following the incident at Gibeah in which a Leviteís concubine was raped and then dismembered (Judges 19-21).

The city had since been rebuilt and re-inhabited. It is now being attacked, not by Israel, but by Ammon. And because of her past history, it seems doubtful that anyone will come to her aid. Except for a man from the tribe of Benjamin - Saulís tribe. And specifically, a man of Gibeah - Saulís city.

Judges 19-21

1 Samuel 11

Takes place when Israel had no king.

Becomes the confirming event of Saulís kingship.

Gibeah becomes a city destined to be destroyed for her sins.

Gibeah becomes the city from which salvation goes forth.

Jabesh-gilead refuses to join in Israelís call for punishment against wicked Gibeah.

Jabesh-gilead is besieged and asks for help from Israel.

Benjamin becomes the object of attack.

Benjamin becomes the leader in this holy war.

Then the Spirit of God came upon Saul mightily when he heard these words, and he became very angry.

And he took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces, and sent them throughout the territory of Israel by the hand of messengers, saying, "Whoever does not come out after Saul and after Samuel, so shall it be done to his oxen." Then the dread of the Lord fell on the people, and they came out as one man.

And he numbered them in Bezek; and the sons of Israel were 300,000, and the men of Judah 30,000. (1 Samuel 11:6-8).

Just as the Israelites had been called to arms against Gibeah by the cutting up of the body of the murdered concubine, so this time two oxen are cut up and their pieces sent throughout the land as a call to arms.

Gibeah which was formerly in need of the heavy hand of punishment has now become the rallying point of salvation for Godís people. Saul's leadership is recognized as he leads the tribes of Israel out in victory.

4. Coronation at Gilgal.

Then Samuel said to the people, "Come and let us go to Gilgal and renew the kingdom there."

So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the Lord in Gilgal. There they also offered sacrifices of peace offerings before the Lord; and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly. (1 Samuel 11:14-15).

Gilgal was located on the western bank of the Jordan River. It was here that Joshua and the Israelites first camped after crossing the Jordan River. They had built a monument here of 12 memorial stones. And it was here that the Israelites had renewed the covenant, circumcising all of the men in the camp.

This was a place of...

Gilgal will be the scene both of Saulís coronation, his rebuke and his ultimate rejection as king.

5. Saul's Downward Spiral.

Saul is the story of a great beginning. But the spiritual life is not limited to beginnings. It is not a sprint. It is, instead, a marathon. Saul had made an excellent beginning. This young man who had come on the scene looking for lost donkeys had instead found himself as the redeemer of Israel and her first king. The tragedy of his story is told in chapters 13-15.

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Jonathanís victory over the Philistines at Geba

Jonathanís victory over the Philistine garrison at Michmash

Saulís victory over the Amalekites

Saul disobeys the law by offering sacrifices

Saul makes an oath of hunger which Jonathan inadvertently disobeys

Saul disobeys God by sparing the life of Agag, king of the Amalekites.

The section comes to a climax when Samuel refuses the company of Saul. When Saul reaches out to detain the prophet, he inadvertently tears his cloak. Samuel retorts, "The Lord has torn the kingdom from you today, and has given it to your neighbor" (1 Samuel 15:28).

David's rise to fame comes on the heels of his famous confrontation with the Philistine warrior Goliath. In a short time, Saul is becoming jealous over David's fame. David eventually becomes a fugitive and is forced to flee and even lives for a time among the Philistines.

Throughout this period, we are continually impressed with David's nobility as contrasted with Saul's continuing jealousy.

  1. Saul and the Witch of Endor.

So the Philistines gathered together and came and camped in Shunem; and Saul gathered all Israel together and they camped in Gilboa. (1 Samuel 28:5).

Shunem is located in the Valley of Jezreel at the southern foot of Mount Moreh, nine miles east-northeast of Megiddo. Mount Gilboa is 10 miles to the south on the southeastern edge of the Valley of Jezreel.

Instead of coming up the narrow mountain passes as they had in the past, the Philistines now moved across the wide open plains of Jezreel. Here they could maneuver their chariot corps to full effect. If this military operation was successful, it would result in splitting the land in two.

When Saul saw the camp of the Philistines, he was afraid and his heart trembled greatly.

When Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by prophets. (1 Samuel 28:6-7).

Saul had every reason to fear. The Philistines were big and they had the best in military weaponry and there were a lot of them.

Then Saul said to his servants, "Seek for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her." And his servants said to him, "Behold, there is a woman who is a medium at En-dor." (1 Samuel 28:7).

The Hebrew word for Medium is ĎOb. This is a Hittite loan-word. It originally was used to describe a pit and spoke of the place of departed spirits. It came to be used both of the spirits of the dead as well as of those who were supposedly able to contact those spirits.

The Mosaic Law strictly forbade Godís people from consulting mediums. The penalty for such actions was death.

"Now a man or a woman who is a medium or a spiritist shall surely be put to death. They shall be stoned with stones, their blood guiltiness is upon them." (Leviticus 20:27).

In accordance with Godís law, Saul had ordered that mediums and spiritists be driven from the land. And yet, he now seeks to consult with one. He is directed by his servants to the town of En-dor, located on the northern slope of Little Hermon.

To arrive at Endor from Mount Gilboa would have involved a long 8-mile detour around the Philistine forces. Saul took this route under the cover of night, perhaps for several reasons.

The woman of Endor at first refuses to participate. It is not until Saul takes a solemn oath invoking the name of the Lord that she agrees to participate.

Then the woman said, "Whom shall I bring up for you?" And he said, "Bring up Samuel for me."

When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice; and the woman spoke to Saul, saying, "Why have you deceived me? For you are Saul."

And the king said to her, "Do not be afraid; but what do you see?" And the woman said to Saul, "I see a divine being [Elohim] coming up out of the earth."

And he said to her, "What is his form?" And she said, "An old man is coming up, and he is wrapped with a robe." And Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground and did homage. (1 Samuel 28:11-14).

This passage has troubled theologians for hundreds of years. There have been three alternate interpretations offered for this passage.

    1. This was truly Samuel speaking from the grave. This interpretation takes the passage naturally when it says that "the woman saw Samuel" (28:12).
    2. This was a demonic manifestation pretending to be Samuel. This view was held by Augustine.
    3. This was a trick of the woman.

This is perhaps supported by the Septuagint which uses a term in this passage which is also used of ventriloquists.

The reason for the varied interpretations is because people do not care for the implications of what happened - that a seance was actually able to bring back Samuel from the dead. However, this need not be considered as normative. Just because Samuel actually appeared to the medium in this instance does not give credibility to all such mediums.

Indeed, if there is a lesson here, it is that Godís people ought to trust in the Lord rather than in other types of spiritual phenomenon. We ought not to delve into horoscopes or fortune telling or Ouija boards, for such activity is following in the footsteps of Saul.

Evidently, only the woman saw the form of Samuel, for Saul asked in verse 14, "What is his form?" and did not realize that it was Samuel until she had given a description of the prophet.

Notice what it was about the description which identified the visionary arrival as Samuel. It was the fact that he was an old man who was "wrapped with a robe" (28:14).

Saul remembered that robe. He could not help but remember how Samuel had predicted the loss of the kingdom and had turned to go and how he, Saul, had grabbed the robe of Samuel and had torn it. He had been told that in just such a manner the kingdom would be torn from his grasp.

And Samuel said, "Why then do you ask me, since the Lord has departed from you and has become your adversary?

"And the Lord has done accordingly as He spoke through me; for the Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, to David.

"As you did not obey the Lord and did not execute His fierce wrath of Amalek, so the Lord has done this thing to you this day.

Moreover the Lord will also give over Israel along with you into the hands of the Philistines, therefore tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. Indeed the Lord will give over the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines!" (1 Samuel 28:16-19).

While in the past the Lord had delivered Israel FROM the Philistine threat on more than one occasion, now Israel would be delivered by God INTO the hands of the Philistines (verse 19). The words of the prophecy are fulfilled in the battle of the following day.

 

DAVID

And David brought up his men who were with him, each with his household; and they lived in the cities of Hebron. 4 Then the men of Judah came and there anointed David king over the house of Judah" (2 Samuel 2:3-4a).

Davidí kingship is not immediately recognized by all Israel. For the first seven years of his reign, his authority is known only over the tribe of Judah as he uses Hebron as his base of operations.

This was the burial place of the patriarchs.

As such, this was the most prestigious city in all of the land of Judah. David had already been anointed by Samuel. Now he is anointed by the men of Judah.

Davidís First Anointing

Davidís Second Anointing

Anointed by Samuel.

Anointed by the men of Judah.

Private anointing.

Public anointing.

Signified a promise of future kingship.

Signified a present recognition of kingship.

David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned forty years.

At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty-three years over all Israel and Judah. (2 Samuel 5:4-5).

It has been theorized by modern scholars that the 40 year reigns ascribed to Moses, to Eli, to David and to Solomon are merely to be understood as a long, undetermined number of years. But this passage gives a breakdown of what comprised those forty years.

 

SOLOMON

The name "Solomon" is taken from the Hebrew word shalom, meaning "peace." What David had won through warfare, Solomon attempted to hold together through peace. His reign is described in the Bible as being a time of peace and prosperity for Israel.

  1. A Time of Peace.
  2. The reign of Solomon saw a remarkable period of peace in that portion of the ancient world.

    a. Assyria was in a state of decline as it wrestled with internal strife and was further weakened with battles against Aram.

    b. Egypt also suffered the effects of a general decline, never again reaching her former dominance as a world power.

    c. Solomon entered into a prosperous alliance with King Hiram of Tyre. The Phoenicians were the masters of the Mediterranean Sea.

  3. The Extent of Solomonís Rule.
  4. Now Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the River to the land of the Philistines and to the border of Egypt; they brought tribute and served Solomon all the days of his life. (1 Kings 4:21).

    "The River" refers to the Euphrates. It was commonplace among ancient empires that when the old king died, the subject nations would withhold tribute and challenge the new king in rebellion. This necessitated repeated punitive expeditions to reinforce the former kingís terms and to prove the ability of the new king to enforce his will. Solomon did not have to do this. Instead, God gave to him a peaceful reign.

  5. The Prosperity of Solomonís Reign.
  6. So Judah and Israel lived in safety, every man under his vine and his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon. (1 Kings 4:25).

    It was not only Solomon who amassed riches. The people of Israel in his day also enjoyed a great amount of prosperity. The statement that "every man under his vine and his fig tree" became a favorite catch phrase used by the prophets to indicate the ideal conditions prevailing in Messiah's kingdom (Micah 4:4; Zechariah 3:10). The fact that a man could enjoy the fruit of the vine and the fig tree meant that there was a complete absence of warfare and it ensuing economic disruption.

  7. Solomonís Temple.
  8. Construction of the Temple began on the fourth year of Solomonís reign (1 Kings 6:1). The building project took seven years and was climaxed with the dedication of the Temple.

    Now when Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the Temple.

    And the priests could not enter into the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord filled the Lordís house. (2 Chronicles 7:1-2).

    In the same way that the Lord had moved into the Tabernacle in the days of Moses, so now His presence was manifested in the Temple.

    There are no remains of Solomonís Temple. It was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C. A second temple was rebuilt on this same spot, but that was destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70. Today there stands on that same site the Dome of the Rock, a Muslim shrine.

    The completion of the Temple was to mark a high point in the career of Solomon. The later years of his reign were to see a turning away from the Lord.

    Contrasting Elements in Solomonís Career

    His Early Years

    His Later Years

    Political Realm

    Nation unified and Solomon exalted on the international scene

    Tribes rebellious and loss of influence in Egypt, Edom and Syria.

    Economic Realm

    People willing to donate time and money. Silver "as common as stones."

    Heavy taxes and forced labor becomes burdensome.

    Social Realm

    Focus on building the Temple.

    Focus upon other building projects of Solomon.

    Spiritual Realm

    Dedication to the Lord.

    Other gods are worshiped.

    Military Realm

    Israelite military is exclusively infantry (cavalry not permitted under Mosaic Law).

    Large chariot corps developed.

  9. Solomon's Sin.

Solomon kept the unity of his kingdom in a state of peace. He did this by entering into alliances with the surrounding kingdoms. These alliances were traditionally sealed by marriage. The problem is that the wives brought with them their foreign gods and it was not long before idolatry had entered the land. Because of this, the Lord sent a prophet with a message. The message was that ten of the twelve tribes would be taken from the descendants of Solomon and given to Jeroboam.

Then Ahijah took hold of the new cloak which was on him, and tore it into twelve pieces.

And he said to Jeroboam, "Take for yourself ten pieces; for thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ĎBehold, I will tear the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon and give you ten tribes.í" (1 Kings 11:30-31).

This action was reminiscent of the time that Saul had pleaded with Samuel and inadvertently ripped his cloak. Samuel had told him that in a similar way the kingdom would be ripped from his grasp and given to David. Now we see that the kingdom was to be ripped from the descendants of Solomon and given to another.

 

THE DIVIDED KINGDOM

Following the death of Solomon, the ten northern tribes of Israel split off to become an independent nation. They chose Jeroboam as their new king.

  1. Jeroboam as King over Israel.

Then Jeroboam built Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim, and lived there. And he went out from there and built Penuel. (1 Kings 12:25).

Shechem was already an ancient city, nearly a thousand years old dating back before the days of Jacob. Jeroboam built up this city and made it his initial capital. Later he built a secondary palace at Penuel, the place where Jacob had wrestled with the angel on the Jabbok River.

These two sites were located amidst the center of the Northern Kingdom and were designed to unify the people under his rule. To further cement this unity, Jeroboam determined to change the manner of worship in Israel.

26 Jeroboam said in his heart, "Now the kingdom will return to the house of David. 27 "If this people go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will return to their lord, even to Rehoboam king of Judah; and they will kill me and return to Rehoboam king of Judah."

28 So the king consulted, and made two golden calves, and he said to them, "It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem; behold your gods, O Israel, that brought you up from the land of Egypt." 29 He set one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. (1 Kings 12:26-29).

Jeroboam was now the king of the Northern Kingdom. But he was a king with a problem. The law of the Lord mandated that all Israelites make a pilgrimage three times a year to worship the Lord in His Temple. And here lay the problem. The Temple was in Jerusalem. And Jerusalem was in Judah.

And this land was under the domain of Rehoboam. This state of affairs would give Rehoboam ample opportunity to wage a propaganda campaign which could ultimately result in Jeroboam being removed and the Kingdom being reunited.

Jeroboam came up with an alternative plan of worship. It was a plan which appealed to convenience. The plan was for two centers of worship to be set up within the Northern Kingdom. They would be located at the extreme northern and southern borders of the kingdom.

a. Bethel ("House of God").

This was the place where Jacob had his vision of a ladder reaching to heaven (Genesis 28:11-19). It was located a mere 12 miles north of Jerusalem and sat atop a bare mountaintop.

b. Dan.

The tribe of Dan had originally been given an allotment of land between Judah, Ephraim and Benjamin. This had proven to be uncomfortably close to the Philistines and in the days of the judges they migrated northward to the area north of the Sea of Galilee on the slopes of Mount Hermon (Judges 18). Capturing the Canaanite city of Laish, they renamed it Dan and made it their religious center with their own Levitical priesthood descended from Moses (Judges 18:30).

At each of these two locations there was erected a golden calf. Perhaps it was reasoned that such a means of worship had been instituted by Aaron at Mount Sinai. In actuality, both Aaron and Jeroboam had borrowed this calf worship from Egypt where the sacred cow was the symbol of the goddess Hathor.

Many of the Hebrews who remained faithful to the teachings of the Law fled to the south to where they could worship in peace. Included in this exodus were many of the Levites. As this strong core of faithful moved out, the Northern Kingdom would find itself subject to apostasy and eventual ruin.

  1. The Kings of the Divided Kingdom.
  2. SOUTHERN KINGDOM OF JUDAH

    CATEGORY

    NORTHERN KINGDOM OF ISRAEL

    19 Kings, 1 Queen

    Kings

    19 Kings

    Jerusalem

    Capital

    Samaria

    1 Dynasty

    Dynasties

    5 Dynasties and several independent kings.

    Judah & Benjamin

    Tribes

    10 Northern Tribes.

    Most were unstable; some were good & some were bad.

    Character

    of the

    Kings

    All were bad, but only Ahab and Ahaziah were Baal worshipers.

    By Babylon in 586 B.C.

    Conquered

    By Assyria in 721 B.C.

    Returned to the land.

    Afterward

    No return.

  3. Samaria.

One of the more notable kings of Israel was Omri (885-874 B.C.) who seems to have had both the military expertise as well as the support of the army it taking the throne from the preceding dynasty.

He bought the hill Samaria from Shemer for two talents of silver; and he built on the hill, and named the city which he built Samaria, after the name of Shemer, the owner of the hill. (1 Kings 16:24).

Samaria was to become the new capital city of Israel. It was located on a large oval hilltop, 300 feet above the surrounding plain. From the top of the hill the Mediterranean Sea is visible to the west. It lay 6Ĺ miles northwest of Shechem and along the major north-south highway.

The summit of the hill was leveled and enclosed with a double wall with towers and bastions. In later years, the city would spread downward from the summit. The city held large cisterns of water since there was no natural spring of water on the site.

 

AHAB & JEZEBEL AND THE MINISTRY OF ELIJAH

Ahab, the son of Omri and successor to his throne, entered into an alliance with the Phoenicians, sealing it by taking a Phoenician princess to be his wife. This alliance would have long-lasting repercussions in Israel.

  1. Baal Worship.
  2. It is because of this Phoenician influence that Ahab soon finds himself engaged, not only in idolatry, but in the worshiping of Baal, the god of the Phoenicians. He is confronted by Elijah, but he does not repent before the Lord.

    Up to this time, the Israelites had been guilty of attempting to worship Yahweh in an improper manner - through the use of idols which had been established at Bethel and at Dan. But now they turn away completely from any attempt to worship the Lord and turned instead to a false god.

  3. Elijah and Elisha ministered and prophesied during this period, calling the people to repentance and bolding confronting the king of his sins.
  4. Alliance with Judah.
  5. Ahab entered into an alliance with Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, sealing it with the marriage of their children. In this way, Athaliah, the daughter of Jezebel came to be the queen of Judah. The resulting union led to a time when the descendants of David were nearly rendered extinct.

  6. The Fall of Samaria and the Northern Kingdom of Israel.

The Assyrians had always been a threat to the region and they laid siege to the capital city of Samaria and, after a siege of three years, took it in 721 B.C. The city was burned to the ground and the surviving population was deported.

In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and carried Israel away into exile to Assyria. and settled them in Halah and Habor, on the river of Gozarx and in the cities of the Medes. (2 Kings 17:6).

The area that had once been the Northern Kingdom of Israel was eventually resettled with refugees from other Assyrian conquests. These refugees intermarried with the few remaining Hebrew survivors. The resulting half-breeds became known as Samaritans.

The author of the book of Kings summarizes the reason for the fall of the Northern Kingdom.

Now this came about, because the sons of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up from the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and their had feared other gods 8 and walked in the customs of the nations whom the Lord had driven out before the sons of Israel, and in the customs of the kings of Israel which they had introduced. (2 Kings 17:7-8).

Israel had turned away from God. This seems surprising when we consider that she had seen great miracles. Time and time again, the Lord had miraculously intervened in history to save His people from destruction. If any nation on earth could testify to the power of God, it was Israel.

Nor was she without warnings. Prophets continually warned of the coming judgment if Israel did not turn from her evil ways.

But all to no avail.

The people of Israel had hardened their hearts to the teachings of God. Warnings which might have pierced their hearts now bounced off their callused souls.

This is a warning to believers today. We must never allow the teachings of the Bible to pass through our minds without allowing them to change our lives. Otherwise, if we permit these teachings to hit against our hearts but not to change our lives, we develop spiritual calluses.

 

HEZEKIAH'S REFORMATION

Hezekiah (715-686 B.C.) was 25 years old when he came to the throne. The prophet Isaiah had already been ministering for 35 years. With the advent of Hezekiah, a great revival began.

  1. Religious reform.
  2. Hezekiah began his reign by destroying all of the Canaanite idols and then repairing the Temple of God.

  3. Envoys from Merodach-baladan.
  4. Merodach-baladan had managed to snatch Babylon and hold it from the Assyrians. Looking for allies against Assyria, he sent envoys to Hezekiah, king of Judah. In a moment of pride, Hezekiah foolishly showed these envoys all of the treasures of the temple. As a result, the word got out of the great wealth that was stored up in Jerusalem.

  5. Revolt against Assyria.
  6. When Assyria was drawn into an extended conflict with Merodach-baladan, Hezekiah was persuaded to join Egypt; in a revolt. The cities of Philistia also joined in, along with Tyre and Sidon.

    In 701 B.C. Sennacherib conducted a massive campaign against this western alliance. The Phoenician cities each submitted or were destroyed. The Egyptians were routed and Judah was left to face Sennacherib alone.

    Hezekiah offered to pay any tribute in return for peace. Sennacherib set the price at 300 talents of silver and 30 talents of gold (in that day even a single talent was considered to be a fortune).

    And Hezekiah gave him all the silver which was found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasuries of the kingís house.

    At that time Hezekiah cut off the gold from the doors of the temple of the Lord, and from the doorposts which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria. (2 Kings 18:15-16).

    Instead of keeping his agreement, Sennacherib changed his mind and decided to try to take Jerusalem.

  7. Hezekiahís Tunnel and the Siloam Inscription.
  8. Now the rest of the acts of Hezekiah and all his might, and how he made the pool and the conduit, and brought water into the city, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah" (2 Kings 20:20).

    Now when Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib had come, and that he intended to make war on Jerusalem, 3 he decided with his officers and his warriors to cut off the supply of water from the springs which were outside the city, and they helped him. (2 Chronicles 32:2-3).

    Hezekiah ordered a tunnel to be cut through the mountain on which Jerusalem rests. This tunnel served to bring water from the Gihon Spring down into the city. The tunnel can still be seen today. It winds its way 1900 feet under the city of Jerusalem.

    This tunnel was explored by Edward Robinson when he arrived in Jerusalem in April of 1838. He made the first scientific study of this amazing engineering feat. The conduit, cut from solid rock in a rather circuitous route, was 1,750 feet long, with an average width of 2 feet, and an average height of six feet. Because the workmenís chisel marks changed directions at about the half-way point, Robinson speculated that two crews had dug the tunnel, starting at opposite ends, finally meeting in the middle. His theory was later confirmed.

    In 1880 a boy was wading in the pool of Siloam and entered Hezekiahís Tunnel. Nineteen feet inside the entrance, he noticed marks on the wall of the tunnel. It was an inscription. It was later cut out and taken by the Turkish government to the Ottoman Museum in Constantinople. It related how a team cut through each end of the mountain to some together at a point in the middle.

    "The boring through is completed. And this is the story of the boring through: while yet they plied the drill, each toward his fellow, and while yet there were three cubits to be bored through, there was heard the voice of one calling unto another, for there was a crevice in the rock on the right hand. And on the day of the boring through the stone cutters struck, each to meet his fellow, drill upon drill; and the water flowed from the source to the pool for a thousand and two hundred cubits, and a hundred cubits was the height of the rock above the heads of the stone cutters."

    While the Biblical narrative recounts Hezekiahís part in the construction, this inscription tells the same story from the point of view of the workers who dug the tunnel.

  9. Jerusalem delivered.

This time, Hezekiah turned to the Lord for help and was promised deliverance. In a single night, the Assyrian army was overthrown.

Then it happened that night that the angel of the Lord went out, and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians; and when men rose early in the morning, behold, all of them were dead.

So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and returned home, and lived at Nineveh. (2 Kings 19:35-36).

The palace of Sennacherib was discovered in 1847 by the English archaeologist Austen Henry Layard at Kuyunjik. A total of 71 rooms were uncovered. Many of the walls were lined with sculptured slabs. One of Sennacheribís campaigns is described on the Taylor Prism, a clay octagonal cylinder which today resides in the British Museum (an even better copy is on a prism at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago). It contains the following:

"As for Hezekiah, the Jew, who did not submit to my yoke, 46 of his strong walled cities, as well as the small cities in their neighborhood, which were without number, by escalade and bringing up siege engines... Himself, like a caged bird, I shut up in Jerusalem, his royal city. Earthworks I threw up against him. The one coming out of his city gate I turned back to his misery."

It is interesting to note Sennacheribís description of this campaign. He brags about how he had besieged the city of Jerusalem, closing up Hezekiah as a bird in a cage, but makes no mention of the outcome of the battle.

 

REFORMATION UNDER JOSIAH

Josiah (640-609 B.C.) was only an 8 year old boy when he came to the throne. Even as a boy, he served Yahweh and began to bring a revival to Judah.

  1. Religious reform.
  2. As he grew older, Josiah began a program of reforms, breaking down the idols and executing the Canaanite priests. Then he began the work of rebuilding the Temple.

    While the Temple was being restored, a copy of the Scriptures was located. It was brought to Josiah and read to him.

    Moreover, Shaphan the scribe told the king saying, "Hilkiah the priest has given me a book." And Shaphan read it in the presence of the king.
    And it came about when the king heard the words of the hook of the law, that he tore his clothes. (2 Kings 22:10-11).

    When Josiah heard the terms of the covenant of Yahweh read, he was struck with the realization that Judah had transgressed that covenant.

    Accordingly, he now led the nation in a prayer of repentance. For this, he was informed by the prophetess Huldah that the nation would not be judged in his lifetime.

  3. Fall of Assyria.
  4. The final years of Josiahís reign saw a great number of changes on the international scene. Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, fell to the combined assault of the Medes and the Chaldeans in 612 B.C.

    A remnant of Assyrians escaped to Carchemish where they allied themselves to the Egyptians in an attempt to hold off the Medes and the Chaldeans.

  5. Battle of Megiddo.

When Pharaoh Echo, the king of Egypt, began to march through Palestine toward Carchemish, Josiah tried to intercept him at Megiddo.

After all this, when Josiah had set the temple in order, Neco king of Egypt came up to make war at Carchemish on the Euphrates, and Josiah went out to engage him.

But Neco sent messengers to him, saying, "What have we to do with each other, O King of Judah? I am not coming against you today but against the house with which I am at war, and God has ordered me to hurry. Stop for your own sake from interfering with God who is with me, that He may not destroy you."

However, Josiah would not turn away from him, hut disguised himself in order to make war with him; nor did he listen to the words of Neco from the mouth of God, but came to make war on the plain of Megiddo. (2 Chronicles 35:20-22).

In spite of the warning of Necho that he had been sent by God, Josiah met him in battle in the Valley of Megiddo. In the heat of the battle, Josiah was shot by a stray arrow and he ultimately died from his injury.

 

NEBUCHADNEZZAR AND THE FALL OF JERUSALEM

Nebuchadnezzar met the Assyrian-Egyptian Alliance at Carchemish in 605 B.C. From here he came southward to Jerusalem. The prophet Jeremiah warned the people of Judah not to resist Nebuchadnezzar, but they refused to listen and the city of Jerusalem was taken on three successive occasions.

605 B.C.

Hostages taken from among the nobility including Daniel and his three friends

597 B.C.

A total of 10,000 of the craftsmen are taken along with Ezekiel

586 B.C.

The Temple is destroyed and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem are taken into captivity

 


About the Author
Return to the John Stevenson Bible Study Page
Have a Comment?