Jeroboam became for the Jewish historians, the reason for Israel’s failure to abide by their “Covenant” with Yahweh. All the prophets were sent to chastise Jeroboam for abandoning Solomon’s abusage of Yahwehism; particularly, the moral and the priestly codes of the “Covenant.” Ultimately, Jeroboam would be blamed for the demise of Israel and Judah. Naturally, Jeroboam defied Judah’s interference.
Misleading the Messenger of God
Now there dwelt an old prophet in Bethlehem. And his sons came and told him all that the man of God had done that day in Bethel; the words also which he had spoken to the king, they told to their father. And their father said unto them, “Which way did he go?” And his sons showed him the way which the man of God who came from Judah had gone. And he said to his sons, “Saddle the ass for me.” So they saddled the ass for him and he mounted it. And he went after the man of God, and found him sitting under an oak; and he said to him, “Are you the man of god who came from Judah?” And he said, “I am.” then he said to him, “Come home with me and eat bread.” And he said, “ I may not return with you, or go in with you; neither will I eat bread nor drink water with you in this place; for it was said to me by the word of the LORD, ‘You shall neither eat bread nor drink water there, nor return by the way that you came.’” And he said to him, “I also am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD, saying, ‘Bring him back with you into your house that he may eat bread and drink water.’’ But he lied to him. So he went back with him, and ate bread in his house, and drank water.
And as they sat at the table, the word of the LORD came to the prophet who had brought him back’ and he cried to the man of God who came from Judah, ‘Thus says the LORD, Because you have disobeyed the word of the LORD, and have not kept the commandment which the LORD your God commanded you, but have come back, and have eaten bread and drunk water in the place of which he said to you, “Eat no bread, and drink no water”’ your body shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.’” And after he had eaten bread and drunk he saddled the as for the prophet whom he had brought back. And as he went away a lion met him on the road and killed him. And his body was thrown in the road, and the ass stood beside it; the lion also stood beside the body. And behold, men passed by and saw the body thrown in the road, and the lion standing by the body. And they came and told it in the city where the old prophet dwelt.
And when the prophet who had brought him back from the way heard of it, he said, “It is the man of God, who disobeyed the word of the LORD; therefore the LORD has given him to the lion, which has torn him and slain him, according to the word which the LORD spoke to him.” And he said to his sons, “Saddle the ass for me.” And they saddled it. And he went and found his body thrown in the road, and the ass and the lion standing beside the body. The lion had not eaten the body or torn the ass. And the prophet took up the body of the man of God and laid it upon the ass, and brought it back to the city, to mourn and to bury him. And he laid the body in his own grave; and they mourned over him, saying, “Alas, my brother!” And after he had buried him, he said to his sons, “When I die, bury me in the grave in which the man of God is buried; lay my bones beside his bones. For the saying which he cried by the word of the LORD against the altar in Bethel, and against all the houses of the high places which are in the cities of Samaria, shall surely come to pass.”
After this thing Jeroboam did not turn from his evil way, but made priests for the high places again from among all the people; any who would, he consecrated to be priests of the high places. And this thing became sin to the house of Jeroboam, so as to cut it off and to destroy it from the face of the earth (I Kings 13:11-34).
Singling out Jeroboam as Evil by Ahijah
At that time Abijah the son of Jeroboam fell sick. And Jeroboam said to his wife, “Arise and disguise yourself, that it be not known that you are the wife of Jeroboam, and go to Shiloh; behold, Ahijah the prophet is there, who said of me that I should be king over this people. Take with you ten loaves, some cakes, and a jar of honey, and go to him; he will tell you what shall happen to the child.”
Jeroboam’s wife did so; he arose, and went to Shiloh, and came to the house of Ahijah. Now Ahijah could not see, for his eyes were dim because of his age. And the LORD said to Ahijah, “Behold, the wife of Jeroboam is coming to inquire of you concerning her son; for he is sick. Thus and thus shall you say to her.” When she came, she pretended to be another woman. But when Ahijah heard the sound of her feet, as she came in at the door, he said, “Come in wife of Jeroboam; why do yo pretend to be another? For I am charged with heavy tidings to you. Go, tell Jeroboam, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: “Because I exalted you from among the people, and made you leader over my people Israel, and tore the kingdom away from the house of David and gave it to you; and yet you been like my servant David, who kept my commandments, and followed me with all his heart, doing only that which was right in my eyes, but you have done evil above all that were before you and have gone and made fro yourself other gods, and molten images, provoking me to anger, and have cast me behind your back; therefore behold, I will bring evil upon the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam every male both bond and free in Israel, and will utterly consume the house of Jeroboam, as a man burns up dung until it is all gone. Anyone belonging to Jeroboam who dies in the city the dogs shall eat; and anyone who dies in the open country the birds of the aid shall eat; for the LORD has spoken it.”’ Arise therefore, go to your house. When your feet enter the city, the child shall die. And all Israel shall mourn for him, and bury him; for he only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave, because in him there is found something pleasing to the LORD, the God of Israel, in the house of Jeroboam. Moreover the LORD will raise up for himself a king over Israel, who shall cut off the house of Jeroboam to day. And henceforth the LORD will smite Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water, and root up Israel out of this good land which he gave to their fathers, and scatter them beyond the Euphrates, because they have made their Asherim, provoking the LORD to anger. And he will give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, which he sinned and which he made Israel to sin.”
Then Jeroboam’s wife arose, and departed, and came to Tirzah. And as she came to the threshold of the house, the child died. And all Israel buried him and mourned for him, according to the word of the LORD, which he spoke by his servant Ahijah the prophet. Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, how he warred and how he reigned, behold, they are written in the Book of Chronicles of the kings of Israel. And the time that Jeroboam reigned was twenty-two years; and he slept with his fathers, and Nadab his sons reigned in his stead (I Kings 14:1-20).
Perpetuation of Baalism
All the kings of Israel were described as, “They did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of Jeroboam and in his sin which he made Israel to sin” (I Kings 15:34). First of all, the sin existed before Jeroboam made it acceptable to Israel, because Solomon had made it far too expensive. Second, the endeavor to be king began with David and his sons. After the reign of Nadab, Jeroboam’s son, kings in Israel were rapidly replaced by violence and death. Being king was the most unpredictable and insecure position.
Nadab the son of Jeroboam began to reign over Israel in the second year of Asa king of Judah; and he reigned over Israel two ears. He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father, and in his sins which he made Israel to sin.
Baasha the son of Ahijah, of the house of Issachar, conspired against him; and Baasha struck him down at Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines; for Nadab and all Israel were laying siege to Gibbethon. So Baasha killed him in the third year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned in his stead. And as soon as he was king, he killed all the house of Jeroboam; he left to the house of Jeroboam not one that breathed, until he had destroyed it, according to the word of the LORD which he spoke by his servant Ahijah the Shilonite; it was for the sins of Jeroboam which he sinned and which he made Israel to sin, and because of the anger of which he provoked the LORD, the God of Israel. Now the rest of the acts of Nadab, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? And there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days.
In the third year of Asa king of Judah, Baasha the son of Ahijah began to reign over all Israel at Tirzah, and reigned twenty-four years. He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of Jeroboam and in his sins which he made Israel to sin (I Kings 15:25-34).
And the word of the LORD came to Jehu the son of Hanani against Baasha, saying, ”Since I exalted you out of the dust and made you leader over my people Israel, and you have walked in the way of Jeroboam, and have made my people Israel to sin, provoking me to anger with their sins, behold, I will utterly sweep away Baasha and his house, and I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat. Anyone belonging to Baasha who dies in the city the dogs shall eat; and anyone of his who dies in the field the birds of the air shall eat.”
Now the rest of the acts of Baasha, and what he did, and his might, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the KIngs of Israel? And Baasha slept with his fathers, and was buried at Tirzah; and Elah his son reigned in his stead. Moreover the word of the LORD came by the prophet Jehu the son of Hanani against Baasha and his house, both because of all the evil that he did in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger with the work of his hands, and in being like the house of Jeroboam, and also because he destroyed it.
In the twenty-sixth year of Asa king of Judah, Elah the son of Baasha began to reign over Israel in Tirzah, and reigned two years. But his servant Zimri, commander of half his chariots, conspired against him. When he was at Tirzah, drinking himself drunk in the house of Arza, who was over the household in Tirzah, Zimri came in and struck him down and killed him, in the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned in his stead.
When he began to reign, as soon as he had seated himself on his throne, he killed all the house of Baasha; he did not leave him a single male of his kinsmen or his friends. Thus Zimri destroyed all the house of Baasha, according to the word of the LORD, which he spoke against Baasha by Jehu the prophet, for all the sins of Baasha and the sins of Elah his son which they sinned, and which they made Israel to sin, provoking the LORD God of Israel to anger with their idols. Now the rest of the acts of Elah, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of Chronicles of the KIngs of Israel?
In the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah Zimri reigned seven days in Tirzah. Now the troops were encamped against Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines, and the troops who were encamped heard it said, “Zimri has conspired, and he has killed the king”; therefore all Israel made Omri, the commander o the army, king over Israel that day in the camp. So Omri went up from Gibbethon, and all Israel with him, and they besieged Tirzah. And when Zimri saw that the city was taken, he went into the citadel of the king’s house, and burned the king’s house over him with fire, and died, because of his sins which he committed, doing evil in the sight of the LORD, walking in the way of Jeroboam, and for his sin which he committed, making Israel to sin. Now the rest of the acts of Zimri, and the conspiracy which he made, are they not written in the Book of Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?
Then the people of Israel were divided into two parts; half of the people followed Tibni the son of Ginath, to make him king, and half followed Omri. But the people who followed Omri overcame the people who followed Tibni the son of Ginath; so Tibni died, and Omri became king. In the thirty-first year of Asa king of Judah, Omri began to reign over Israel, and he reigned for twelve years; six years he reigned in Tirzah. He bought the hill of Samaria from Shemer for two talents of silver; and he fortified the hill, and called the name of the city which he built, Samaria, after the name of Shemer, the owner of the hill.
Omri did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and did more evil than all who were before him. For he walked in all the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and in the sins which he made Israel to sin, provoking the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger by their idols. Now the rest of the acts of Omri which he did, and the might that he showed, are the not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? And Omri slept with his fathers, and was buried in Samaria; and Ahab his son reigned in his stead.
In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab son of Omri began to reign over Israel, and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years. And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD more than all that were before him. And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, he took for wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshiped him. He erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he built in Samaria. And Ahab made an Asherah. Ahab did more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him. In his days Hiel of Bethel built Jericho; he laid its foundation at the cost of Abiram his first-born, and set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which spoke by Joshua the son of Nun (I Kings 16:1-34).
The Challenge of Elijah
The prophet Elijah was faithful to Yahweh and he was brave enough to face the leaders of Baal; namely, Ahab, and Jezebel. But his way of killing the Baal prophets made him no different from Jezebel, who was killing Yahweh’s prophets. The idea that a God who commanded: “Thou shalt not kill” would sanction such atrocities?
After many days the word of the Lord came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, “Go, show yourself to Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.” So Elijah went to show himself to Ahab. Now the famine was severe in Samaria. And Ahab called Obadiah, who was over the household. (Now Obadiah revered the LORD greatly; and when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the LORD, Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.) And Ahab said t Obadiah, “Go through the land to all the springs of water and to all the valleys perhaps we may find grass and save the horses and mules alive, and not lose some of the animals.” So they divided the land between them to pass through it; Ahab went in one direction by himself, and Obadiah went in another direction by himself.
And as Obadiah was on the way, behold, Elijah met him; and Obadiah recognized him, and fell on his face, and said, “Is it you, my lord Elijah?” And he answered him, It is I. Go, tell your lord, ‘Behold, Elijah is here.’” And he said, “Wherein have I sinned, that you would give your servant into the hand of Ahab, to kill me? As the LORD your God lives, there in no nation or kingdom whither my lord has not sent to seek you; and when they would say, ;He is not here,’ he would take an oath of the kingdom or nation, that they had not found you. And now you say, ‘Go, tell your lord, “Behold, Elijah is here.”’ And as soon as I have gone from you, the Spirit of the LORD will carry you whither I know not; and so, when I come and tell Ahab and he cannot find you, he will kill me, although I your servant have revered the LORD from my youth. Has it not been told my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the LORD, how I hid a hundred men of the LORD’S prophets by fifties in a cave, and fed them with bread and water? And now you say, ‘Go, tell your lord, “Behold Elijah is here”’’ and he will kill me.” And Elijah said, “As the LORD of hosts lives, before whom I stand, I will surely show myself to him today.” So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him; and Ahab went to meet Elijah.
When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel; but you have, and your father’s house, because you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD and followed the Baals. Now therefore send and gather all Israel to me at Mount Carmel, and the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”
So Ahab sent to all the people of Israel, and gathered the prophets together at Mount Carmel. And Elijah came near to all the people, and said, “How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word. Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men. Let two bulls be given to us; and let them choose one bull for themselves, and cut it in pieces and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it; and I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood, and put not fire to it. And you call on the name of your god and I will call on the name of the LORD; and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.” Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many; and call on the name of your god, but put no fire to it.” And they took the bull which was given them, and they prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying “O Baal, answer us!” But here was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped about the altar which they had made. And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is musing, or he had gone aside, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice; no one answered, no one heeded.
Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me”; and all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that had been thrown down; Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD came, saying, “Israel shall be your name”; and with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD. And he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed. And he put the wood in order, and ct the bull in pieces and laid it of the wood. And he said, “Fill four jars with water, and pour it on the burnt offering, and on the wood.” And he said, “Do it a second time”; and they did it a second time. And he said, “Do it a third time”; and they did it a third time. And the water ran round about the altar, and filled the trench also with water.
And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that thou, O LORD, art God, and that thou hast turned their hearts back.” Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt offering, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The LORD, he is God; the LORD, he is God.” And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal let not one of them escape.” And they seized the; and Elijah brought them down to the brook of Kishon, and killed them there.
And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of the rushing of rain.” So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and bowed himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees. And he said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” And he went up and looked and said, “There is nothing.” And he said, “Go again seven times.” And at the seventh time he said, “Behold, a little cloud like a man’s hand is rising out of the sea.” And he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you.’” And in a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode and went to Jezreel. And the hand of the LORD was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel (I Kings 18:1-46).