Starting with the sons of Rehoboam and Jeroboam, we'll see the kingdoms further division and their relationships with the Lord. This is briefer summary, since I have recently covered these chapters.
I Kings 15
One unusual little quirk I discovered in my first reading of this several weeks ago is that the author (probably Ezra) always dates a new king based on the reign of the other nation. So, Judah kings always get their starting date set by the number of years the king of Israel has been on the throne. Added to that, Judah and Israel count the years that a king has been on the throne differently from one another.
This can lead to Kings and Chronicle accounts looking contradictory; but the math works out if you account for the other nation's method of counting.
This begins now as Judah's King, Abijam (Rehoboam's son) comes into power during the 18th year of Israel's king's reign (Jeroboam.)
Verse 2 tells us that he only reigned three years. We also are reminded that his mother was Maach, who was Rehoboam's favorite wife, making Abijam his favorite son, chosen above those older than he.
He brought with him all the sins his father had committed before him and was not wholly devoted to God.
Verse 4 tells us, that despite Rehoboam and Abijam's personal choices, for David's sake, the Lord gave him a lamp in Jerusalem to raise up his son after him and establish Jerusalem; because David did right in the sight of the Lord (except Uriah).
Then the standard summary begins by reiterating that war was continuous between Rehoboam and Jeroboam, explains there was war between Jeroboam and Abijam. Abijam was buried in the city of David. His son Asa took the throne next.
In Jeroboam's 20th year (Israel), Asa becomes king after Abijah (Judah). He reigns 41 years. That's usually a good sign.
And Asa did what was right in the site of the Lord, like David his father.I Kings 15:11
He started by putting away the idols, perverse cults, and deposing his grandmother as "queen" because of her wicked Asherah worship. He also started returning the dedicated things to the House of the Lord. He failed to tear down the high places; but is still credited with being wholly devoted to the Lord.
Asa gets in a war with the king of Israel, Baasha, and Baasha barricades Asa in. Sadly, Asa didn't trust the Lord with this, he trusted himself and money. He cleared out the treasury and sent it to the King of Aram in Damascus asking him the a.) break his treaty with Israel and b.) attack Israel. So the King of Aram obliged and sent armies to attack multiple fronts in Israel. Israel abandoned it barricade on Judah and went to defend itself.
Shortly it starts in the king's summary, but does hint at Asa's city building and his diseased feet; which we'll learn more about in the II Chronicles version. It also notes that Jehoshaphat, his son, reigned in his place.
Verse 25 shifts to Israel and the succession following Jeroboam. His son, Nadab, became king in Asa's (Judah) second year. He only reigned two years. He walked in sin, as his father had, and he caused Israel to sin.
Interestingly, the one to strike him down and take his throne was the son of Ahijah, the prophet God had used to tell Jeroboam of his overthrow of Rehoboam and the same prophet who prophesized to Jeroboam's wife the destruction of Jeroboam's family. Ahijah's son, Baasha... whom we have already met above...killed Nadab while they were at war, laying siege to another city. (I am now questioning this conclusion. Although they are both named Ahijah, one is "Ahijah of the house of Issachar" and the prophet is "Ahijah, the Shilonite")
Baasha proceeds to slay the entire family of Jereboam, fulfilling the prophesy by Ahijah because of all of the evil of the family and their provocation of the Lord.
Verse 32 introduces Baasha, but his story goes in chapter 16, so I'll just hit the highlights here and go in depth when I come back for chapter 16. There was war between Asa and Baasha al of their days; Bassha became king in Asa's 3rd year of reign; He ruled from Tirzah; he reigned 24 years; he did evil in the site of the Lord in the same ways as Jeroboam and caused Israel to sin.
II Chronicles 13
Back to Abijah from the perspective of the post-captivity author (Ezra).
In Jeroboam's (Israel) 18th year of reign, Abijah (Judah) takes the throne. He reigned three years and there was war with Jeroboam.
Abijah amasses 400,000 chosen men against Jeroboam's 800,000 valiant men. Abijah gives a speech pointing out that God's covenant was with the line of David and Jeroboam took advantage when Rehoboam was young and weak. Then he points out the scoundrels surrounding Jeroboam and the fact that Jeroboam brought his two calf idols. He even mentions the false priests.
The he describes how they still follow and serve the Lord, including the daily rituals.
All of this to say...
Now Behold, God is with us at our head and His priests with the signal trumpets to sound the alarm against you. Oh Sons of Israel, do not fight against the Lord God of your fathers, for you will not succeed.II Chronicles 13:12
Meanwhile Jeroboam was setting an ambush behind Judah, so they were now flanked front and rear. And Jeroboam's men attacked.
Judah cried to the Lord, the real priests blew the trumpet, they raised a war cry and then the Lord routed Jeroboam and Israel.
Judah had a part to play; but their part was crying out to the Lord and proceeding in faith. The battle belonged to the Lord.
Israel fled, but the Lord gave them into Judah's hands and Israel lost 500,000 valiant warriors in the retreating battles.
Israel was "subdued and Judah conquered because of their faith in the Lord. Judah also captured several cities from Israel. Jeroboam was weakened and eventually, the Lord struck him and he died.
Abijah became powerful, had many wives and children.
II Chronicles 14
Then Abijah died, was buried in the city of David, and his son, Asa, became king.
Verse 1 tells us that the land remained undisturbed for 10 years!
He started off strong. Removing high places, Asherim, altars, and most importantly- commanding Judah to seek God and follow His commandments. He led them back to God, as the king was supposed to do.
Because the Lord gave the rest in the land, he used the time to build fortified cities. verse 7
And they prospered.
Then the King of Ethiopia (not modern Ethiopia) came up against Asa's 580,000 men with a million men.
Asa prayed to the Lord.
The routed the Ethiopians and sent them running. Judah pursed and won much plunder.
II Chronicles 15
The First 35 Years
Then a prophet came to Asa and assured Asa:
...the Lord is with you when you are with Him. And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.II Chronicles 15:2
The prophet went on to remind Asa of life during the time of the Judges when everyone did what they wanted, but ended up with no priest and separate from God. They did seek Him and He did let them find Him; but there was still trouble.
Asa was highly motivated by this prophesy and did even more purging of the idols further out from the kingdom. He also called an assemble of Judah, Benjamin, and of the Transjordan tribes who defected when they saw that God was with Judah. He did a massive sacrifice out of the plunder they captured and set a new covenant between the people and God- assigning death to any who would not seek the Lord.
They rejoiced in the Lord and has peace on every side. He also removed his grandmother from the position of queen because of her Asherim worship.
II Chronicles 16
Asa Loses His Way
This is when the king of Israel, Baasha, fortified Ramah and blockaded Asa. And for whatever reason, Asa forgot the power of prayer and of turning his troubles over to the Lord and he broke out a bunch of silver from his treasury and used that to try and save himself. He bribed the king of Aram to break their treaty with Israel and attack Israel from the north, so Israel would retreat, using those resource to defend themselves.
Israel retreated and Judah used the time to dismantle the Ramah fortifications to build up their own cities.
The Lord sent a seer to Asa to rebuke him for trusting the king of Aram over trusting the Lord, reminding him what a work the Lord had done against the Ethiopian.
For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.II Chronicles 16:9
Things are about to get worse for Asa, but I just want to take a moment to reflect on this. Why? Why do we ever let go of the Lord. Asa defeated and was greatly enriched in the battle against the Ethiopians. Did he forget? Was the previous experience a fluke? I ask, not in judgement, but in trembling because I have seen the Lord save me so many times and I still forget sometimes and seek my answers, first, in the world.
Just stop and reread that quote-verse above. If you have time, read it a thousand times. God wants to support us if our heart is completely His.
The trouble is, and what I fear, and what Asa should have kept in mind, is that the clock restarts everyday. And that's a good thing in bad times, but cuts the other way in good times.
Blessed am I that I am kept by the Holy Spirit. Because in and of myself, I'm sure I would fall.
Returning to the text, in verse 10, instead of repenting and realizing what a mistake he made, Asa decided to go the other way. He became enraged at the seer for delivering God's message and put him in prison. It mentions that he oppressed other people at that time as well.
Starting in verse 11 begins the king summary the author does at the nd of each king's life. This one is quite different.
- It gives the standard line about the rest of his act being recorded elsewhere
- in his 39th year of reign his feet become diseased
- he still refuses to seek the Lord
- he dies in his 41st year of reign
- While he is buried in the city of David, he carves out his own tomb, instead of being buried with David and the fathers.
- they mention the various spices and such buried with him
It's almost like he was rebelling until the very end.
What a sad end to an inspiring story.
I Kings 16
Baasha's reign started in Asa's 3rd year (Judah) and Baasha reigned 24 years.
He did evil in the sight of the Lord and caused Israel to do evil.
So the Lord sent a prophet with a message that should have sounded familiar to Baasha- basically- because you have acted like Jeroboam, you and your family will face the same consequences as he.
Then we get the standard king's summary- died, buried in Tirzah, son became king.
Took the throne in the 26th year of Asa (Judah) and only reigned 2 years. He followed in his's father's sins.
He was drunk and one of his top commanders, Zimri, came in and assassinated him- then took over as king.
Once Zimri was in as king, he slayed all of the household of Baasha, just as the Lord promised via Jehu the prophet's prophesy.
He only reigned 7 days because when the rest of Israel heard of the assassination, they made Omri king and marched on Tirzah against Zimri. Rather than being slayed by others, Zimri chose to burn the king's citadel down around him and committed suicide.
Verses 19-20 show that he did evil just like the rest of those following Jeroboam's line.
With a messy succession battle going on the kingdom was divided between following Omri and another man named Tibni. Omri prevailed and Tibni died.
He took the throne in Asa's (Judah) 31st year. He reigned 6 years in Tirzah. Then he bought a hill named Samaria from someone known as Shemer. And around that he built his new capital.
Omri acted more wickedly than all who came before him, causing Israel to sin, provoking the Lord's anger.
Then he died and was buried in Samaria.
Ahab, his son, became king in his place.
Intro to Ahab
Starting in verse 29, he took the throne in the 38th year of Asa (Judah). He reigned 22 years.
And did evil in the sight of the Lord more than all before him.
He married Jezebel, daughter of the king of Sidon.
He switched his religion fully over to hers, becoming a Baal worshipper. He built a temple for Baal and an altar in Samaria.
He also built the Asherah.
He provoked the Lord more than all before him.
Verse 34 is a bit of a footnote of a man who tried to rebuild Jericho and lost two sons, fulfilling God's curse to anyone who try to rebuild it.