“In the twenty-third year of King Joash son of Ahaziah, of Judah, King Jehoahaz son of King Jehu began to reign over Israel in Samaria. He reigned seventeen years. He did what was evil in the sight of Yahweh. He followed the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, by which he caused Israel to sin. He did not depart from them.”
Since King Joash in Judah ruled for 40 years, there will be a lot of changes in Israel. Notice that the kings in Israel almost have the same names. Just like the problem with the names Jehoram and Ahaziah. You can go back to chapter 10 to learn about King Jehu his father. King Jehoahaz ruled for 17 years, not that long, near the end of the reign of King Joash in Judah, so that they both die in the early 8th century BCE. We are now about 100 years removed from Solomon so that the split between Judah and Israel seems permanent. King Jehoahaz followed the evil ways of the Israelite founder King Jeroboam.
“In the third year of King Asa of Judah, Baasha the son of Ahijah began to reign over all Israel at Tirzah. He reigned twenty-four years. He did what was evil in the sight of Yahweh. He walked in the way of Jeroboam and in the sin that he caused Israel to commit.”
We already saw King Baasha of Israel in his war with King Asa of Judah. He also came to the throne by killing King Nadab. Right away, you can figure that this guy Baasha is a violent sort of person. However, he did rule for 24 years so that his influence was important for the northern tribes. Most important, he was evil in the sight of Yahweh. He made Israel commit sins. Although he came into power to ostensibly combat the evil ways of Jeroboam and his son, he continued to practice their evil ways.
“Nadab son of Jeroboam began to reign over Israel in the second year of King Asa of Judah. He reigned over Israel two years. He did what was evil in the sight of Yahweh. He walked in the way of his father, and in his sin which he caused Israel to commit.”
King Nadab had a short 2 year reign. We shall see why right away. However, he was just as evil in the sight of Yahweh as his father Jeroboam. He made Israel commit sins. We are beginning to see a trend in the harsh evaluations of the kings of Israel.
“In the eighteenth year of King Jeroboam son of Nebat, Abijam began to reign over Judah. He reigned for three years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Maacah daughter of Abishalom. He walked in all the sins that his father did before him. His heart was not true to Yahweh his God, like the heart of his father David. Nevertheless for David’s sake Yahweh his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem, setting up his son after him, and establishing Jerusalem. Because David did what was right in the sight of Yahweh, and did not turn aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite. The war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam continued all the days of his life. The rest of the acts of Abijam, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Judah? There was war between Abijam and Jeroboam. Abijam slept with his ancestors. They buried him in the city of David. Then his son Asa succeeded him.”
Abijam only ruled for 3 years, a very short period of time compared to the others. Interesting enough, he has almost the same name as Jeroboam’s young son that died, Abijah. There is no indication of how or why he died. However, he followed his father’s bad footsteps. His mother was called Maacah, but a lot of people had that common name. There ever was a territory with that name. Her father is called Abishalom, but Chronicles will later change it to Absalom, the son of David, who revolted against him. This might be why there is a long explanation of how wonderful David was. David is referred to as his father, but Abijam is actually the great grandson of David, after Solomon and Rehoboam. However, he could be the grandson of David on his mother’s side. There was a continuous war with Jeroboam all his life, including under his own reign. Abijam was buried in Jerusalem. If anybody wanted to know more about him, there was the ever present “Book of the Annals of the Kings of Judah.”
“While Jeroboam was standing by the altar to offer incense, a man of God came out of Judah, by the order of Yahweh, to Bethel. He proclaimed against the altar by the order of Yahweh. He said. ‘O altar, altar, thus says Yahweh. A son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name. He shall sacrifice your priests of the high places who offer incense for you. Human bones shall be burned for you.’ He gave a sign the same day, saying. ‘This is the sign that Yahweh has spoken. The altar shall be torn down. The ashes that are on it shall be poured out.’ When the king heard what the man of God cried out against the altar at Bethel, Jeroboam stretched out his hand from the altar, saying. ‘Seize him.’ But the hand that he stretched out against him withered so that he could not draw it back to himself. The altar also was torn down. The ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign that the man of God had given by the order of Yahweh. The king said to the man of God. ‘Entreat now the favor of Yahweh your God. Pray for me, so that my hand may be restored to me.’ So the man of God entreated Yahweh. The king’s hand was restored to him. It became as it was before. The king said to the man of God. ‘Come home with me, and dine. I will give you a reward gift.’ The man of God said to the king. ‘If you give me half your kingdom, I will not go in with you. I will not eat food or drink water in this place. Thus I was commanded by Yahweh. You shall not eat food, or drink water, or return by the way that you came.’ So he went another way. He did not return by the way that he came to Bethel.”
While Jeroboam was sacrificing at the altar in Bethel, a man of God from Judah came up to him. He was both a man of God, thus a prophet, and from Judah, the land under King Rehoboam. This prophet made a proclamation, condemning the altar. Josiah from Judah would come and burn human bones on this altar. King Jeroboam stretched out his hand and ordered the man of God seized. However, the hand of Jeroboam withered up. In fact, the altar was torn down and ashes spread all over the place. Then Jeroboam asked the man of God for a favor. He wanted his hand restored. The man of God restored his hand. Then Jeroboam was happy and wanted to reward him by inviting him to dine with him. The man of God said that he had orders from Yahweh. ‘Do not eat or drink in that place.’ In fact, he was to return a different way than the way that he went there. The prophet, this man of God, left by a different way as he also refused to eat or drink with Jeroboam.
“Jeroboam son of Nebat, an Ephraimite of Zeredah, a servant of Solomon, whose mother’s name was Zeruah, a widow, rebelled against the king. The following was the reason he rebelled against the king. Solomon built the Millo, and closed up the gap in the wall of the city of David his father. The man Jeroboam was very able. When Solomon saw that the young man was industrious he put him in charge over all the forced labor of the house of Joseph.”
Jeroboam would lead a rebellion against Solomon now and after Solomon’s death. Jeroboam was a very able man who helped to build the Millo or fortress around the city of David. King Solomon put him in charge of the forced labor in the house of Joseph. Apparently there were Israelite slaves also as opposed to what was reported in chapter 9.