Northwest of Eden # 10 – MONARCHICAL KINGDOM (II Sam., Chron., Kings.)

The Spirit directed Samuel to anoint Saul from the tribe of Benjamin as the first king over Israel.  The installation of kings would not decrease the internal struggle between the Hebrew God and the gods of the Canaanites.  The cost to maintain a monarchy would weaken the nation even more and become an easier prey for her enemies.  Saul, however, began to rule with the help of Samuel and he freed Israel of their oppressors.  Samuel retired and Saul became the oppressor over his own people.  He defended his throne for forty-two years instead of the nation.  To do so, he kept a standing army of three thousand men.  When the Philistines grew stronger, the people no longer rallied to his support as they did in the beginning.  He also exhausted his means by hunting after David whom he regarded as his contender and mortal enemy.  Saul also acted as his own priest by sacrificing to Yahweh and he made promises that almost cost his son’s Benjamin life.  Instead of seeking council from Yahweh’s followers, he turned to a witch at Endor.  The Philistines defeated Saul’s army and he fell on his own sword.  Saul had lost his kingship to David long before his own fall.  When David was in his service, Saul’s kingdom and his health prospered.  David had endeared himself to the people by slaying Goliath and leading a victorious army. 
Samuel had the dangerous task of anointing, in secret, David as the future king of Israel, long before Saul fell to his own devices.  Upon the death of Saul, the tribe of Judah made David their King and Judaism was born.  The other tribes remained with the house of Saul and there was enmity between the two kingdoms for seven and one half years.  David’s behavior, during this time, was cunning but nevertheless it was humane.  Friends and enemies saw in him a spirit that could reunite the nation and bring her back to the God of their fathers.  It was David’s reconciling attitude that brought back the tribes, and they defeated the Philistines.  They also subdued the Jebusites and turned Jerusalem into the capital with a steady home for the Ark of the Covenant.  David made many mistakes, but like a cat, he always landed back on his feet.  In the eyes of the Yahweh historian, David was a man after the heart of God.  The good he did outweighed his moral inadequacies.  Also, David was not too proud to admit his failures and he was willing to face the consequences. He was a Yahweh faithful and intended to build a huge Temple to house his Lord’s Laws and memorials.  Time and finances caused him to pass the task on to his successor Solomon. 
Solomon was not anointed, but promised to Bathsheba with whom David had committed adultery.  The act led to revolts and death among his sons and Solomon was left with putting the pieces together.  He sentenced all of his father’s enemies and began to carry out his father’s dream.  Solomon’s wise deeds and sayings do not agree with the way he managed his life and his state.  His sayings are a reflection of what he ought to have been, and not of what he was.  To fulfill his own desires and his father’s wishes, he used foreigners that did not worship Yahweh with Israelite sacrifices to build his residence, a Temple to Yahweh, and dwellings and shrines for the gods of his many women.  In addition to being a polygamist, he became a polytheist.  He kept the peace by being in bed with the women of different gods.  He supplemented his income with trade and mining operations, but not sufficiently enough to ease the financial burden on his people.  His son Rehoboam had loftier ideas than his father.  When he was set on increasing taxation, ten tribes formed their own union and became Israel.  A prophet of Yahweh stopped king Rehoboam from engaging the North militarily.  Samuel’s prediction that their economy could not sustain a monarchy and a theocracy had become a reality.  The house of David was left with the tribe of Judah and part of Benjamin and with an enormous debt.  To the North, Jeroboam, an Ephraimite, became king over Israel and to keep the people from going to Jerusalem, he set up two Golden Calves in Bethel and Dan. Solomon also ended Yahweh worship and he even influenced some of the kings in Judah to become sporadic about Yahweh and his laws.  Even when the king returned to Yahweh, the people hung on to their localized Baal and caused further divisions amongst themselves, weakening two kingdoms. 
Israel, to the North, turned violent among the contenders for the throne.  Baasha killed the household of Jeroboam.  In like manner, Zimri wiped out Baasha’s family.  Within seven days, Omri eliminated Zimri and he was the father of the notorious Ahab, husband of Jezebel, a Sidonian princess and founder of Samaria, the capital of Israel.  During this time Elijah, Elisha, Micaiah and others took on the Baal religion and even assisted that these kings that did evil in the eyes of the Hebrew God against foreign invaders.  Ahab needed Elijah’s help when Ben-Hadad of Aram attacked Samaria but failed three times.  Ahab of Israel asked Jehoshaphat of Judah to assist him in enlarging his territory.  All the Baal prophets predicted victory except the Yahweh prophet Micaiah.  He informed Ahab that he would not continue as king over Israel and Jehoshaphat returned to Jerusalem as a more ardent Yahweh reformer.  In Israel Ahaziah and Joram, Ahab’s sons continued to spend their income on Baal sacrifices, including their children.  Elisha sent one of his men to anoint Jehu as king over Israel.  He destroyed the house of Ahab, including Jezebel and reintroduced Yahwehism in Israel.  Jehu also killed Ahaziah king of Judah.  Athaliah, mother of Ahaziah and daughter of Ahab and Jezebel set herself up as queen over Judah by annihilating the loyal house, except the child Joash.  She began to force Baalism on Judah.  Jehoida, the leading priest, secured enough Yahweh faithful and Joash was reinstated as king of Judah.  With Jehoida at his side, Judah returned to almost total Yahweh loyalty.  Under the next four kings of Judah, Yahwehism again declined and with Ahaz the faith in Baalism was back in Judah, even children were once more being offered to the god of fire.
In Israel to the North, the sons of Jahu did follow their father but returned to Baal worship and sacrifices.  Shallum eliminated the house of Jehu and the next three kings terminated each other.  Hoshea was the last king of Israel.  Shalmaneser of Assyria resettled the conquered land with people from other parts of the world.  They became the Samaritans and they worshipped a mountain.  The prophets of Yahweh, Isaiah, Amos and Hosea could not turn the tide of Baalism.  Judah, under Ahaz, with her allegiance to the gods of Damascus became a vassal to Assyria and was not taken into captivity.  At this time, Assyria had outmatched her strength and Hezekiah reversed his father’s policies and reinstated Yahwehism to the degree it was under king David.  He made the mistake of showing his treasure and holy relics to the Babylonian envoys.  His son Manasseh and grandson Amon reverted to Baal.  The eight-year old Josiah, with the help of Hilkiah the priest and the uncovering of the law, led to more return to Yahweh.  These swings between Yahweh and Baal were costly and Judah had to submit willingly to her enemies.  Josiah was killed when Neco of Egypt invaded the land and plundered it.  Neco’s plundering aroused Nebuchadnezzer of Babylon.  He came to collect and ended up the taking the upper class into captivity.  The last two kings Jehoahas and Jehoiakim tried to please the invaders by accepting their gods, but to no avail.  The Babylonians left Zedekiah in charge.  His rebellion ended the existence of Jerusalem.  In the eyes of the prophets Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Micah, Zephaniah and the historians, both nations were being punished for their disloyalty to Yahweh.