“Then Jeroboam son of Nebat
Led Israel into sin.
He started Ephraim
On its sinful ways.
Their sins increased
More and more,
Until they were exiled
From their land.
They sought out
Every kind of wickedness,
Until vengeance came upon them.”
Interesting enough, Sirach talked about the king who led the Israelite northern kingdom, who was not in the Davidic line of kings. Sirach was very harsh in his judgment about the northern rebels. Their kingdom was in fact called Israel, while the southern kingdom was called Judah. Jeroboam the son of Nebat was from Ephraim, just north of Judah and Benjamin. He actually had worked for Solomon in his administration, as indicated in 1 Kings, chapters 11-14. A prophet told Jeroboam that he would be king. After a meeting with Rehoboam, Jeroboam set up a new kingdom at Shechem. His great sin was that he did not want the people to go to Jerusalem to worship. Thus he setup his own worship places. This false worship led to the downfall of the northern Kingdom of Israel (721 BCE) before that of the Kingdom of Judah (587 BCE). The wickedness of this kingdom deserved the vengeance that came to it.
“I, Tobit, walked in the ways of truth and righteousness all the days of my life. I performed many acts of charity to my kindred and my people who had gone with me in exile to Nineveh in the land of the Assyrians. When I was in my own country, in the land of Israel, while I was still a young man, the whole tribe of my ancestor Naphtali deserted the house of David and Jerusalem. This city had been chosen from among all the tribes of Israel. All the tribes of Israel should sacrifice there. The temple was the dwelling of God that had been consecrated and established for all generations forever. All my kindred and our ancestral house of Naphtali sacrificed to the calf that King Jeroboam of Israel had erected in Dan and on the mountains of Galilee.”
After the preceding 3rd person introduction of Tobit, this now is a 1st person singular account of what happened. Tobit explained that he was a man of truth and righteousness. He was kind to his associates who were exiled in Nineveh, which was the northern capital of Assyria, east of the Tigris River. When Tobit was in his own country as a young man, the tribe of Naphtali deserted the house of David and Jerusalem. Naphtali was, in fact, 1 of the sons of Jacob, 1 or the 12 tribes of Israel. Asher, Naphtali, and Dan were the northern most tribes of Israel. They were a long way from Jerusalem. As explained in 1 Kings, chapters 12 and 13, King Jeroboam (931-910 BCE), the first king of Israel, set up a golden calf in the territory of Dan and Bethel so that people could worship there instead of Jerusalem. Tobit on the other hand worshiped in Jerusalem.
“Now the acts of King Rehoboam, from first to last, are they not written in the chronicles of the prophet Shemaiah and of the seer Iddo, recorded by genealogy? There were continual wars between King Rehoboam and King Jeroboam. King Rehoboam slept with his ancestors. He was buried in the city of David. His son Abijah succeeded him.”
Once again, this is loosely based on 1 Kings, chapter 14. Instead of the reference to the lost book, “The Book of the Annals or Chronicles of the Kings of Judah,” here there is a reference to “Chronicles of the prophet Shemaiah” and “The Genealogies of the seer Iddo.” Both of these books are lost, but there is no reference to the book of I Kings, which clearly was used as a reference point. Once again, it may have been the local royal scribes keeping records. King Rehoboam and King Jeroboam are almost synchronized in their reigns. They spent most of their life fighting and warring against each other. Remember that Yahweh had told King Rehoboam not to war with King Jeroboam at the beginning of this rule. Somehow that admonition has gone by the wayside. King Rehoboam seems to have died before King Jeroboam. His son Abijah took over as the king of Judah.