Miles to go...

I have miles to go... please pray each day for the next leg of my Biblical journey!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Day 25: A House Divided

1 Kings 11:9-13

New Living Translation (NLT)
Click to view full size chart: Img in Public Domain
The Lord was very angry with Solomon, for his heart had turned away from theLord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. 10 He had warned Solomon specifically about worshiping other gods, but Solomon did not listen to the Lord’s command. 11 So now the Lord said to him, “Since you have not kept my covenant and have disobeyed my decrees, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your servants. 12 But for the sake of your father, David, I will not do this while you are still alive. I will take the kingdom away from your son. 13 And even so, I will not take away the entire kingdom; I will let him be king of one tribe, for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, my chosen city.”

Now we're getting into one of the most difficult areas of Biblical history for me to follow. I thought about researching the Queen of Sheba and writing about her. I considered writing about Solomon's dedication of the temple, which I really found fascinating for the first time in my life. I considered giving a writing my thoughts about the stark contrast between Solomon's wisdom and his son's foolishness. I even gave a fleeting thought to describing an Asherah pole and what it was used for. But I knew none of that would help me get through the next several days as I chew through page after page, chapter after chapter, and even book after book (since it's repeated in both Kings and Chronicles) of all the different dynasties. 

So today is part one of the dissection of the kings. Wait, I suppose that didn't really sound right. LOL, I knew it wouldn't. Shock value, ya know? Seriously though, I've gotta try to understand when the various kings reigned, which ones were descended from David over in Judah, and which ones were over the rest of Israel... Which ones were the good guys, which were the bad guys, who was murdered and who died of Gangrene. I hope that I can make it interesting, because if I can't, I'm going to forever have premature senility when it comes to this stuff. Of course, that means this is going to be pretty darn long. I'll highlight the various kings according to the colors of the chart above; Pink for Israel and green for Judah. Hey, I didn't make the timeline image, I just borrowed it from the public domain!

So let's start with Solomon and go from there. Solomon screwed up in his old age. For someone so wise, he sure acted ignorant there at the end. He did exactly what God had told him not to do... He started appeasing all his wives, building them temples for their various gods, allowing shrine prostitutes all over the place, making sacrifices... and not just to any old gods, even though any of them would have been just as much cause for God's wrath, but he even worshiped some of the most detestable ones. Remember the god Molech, of the Ammonites, the one that God hated so badly because they even used human (child) sacrifices? Yeah, he was even bowing before that one. Really dumb.

So God told him that He was going to rip the kingdom into two segments after his son took the throne. His line of kings would get the smallest share, ruling only over Judah. God was going to give all the rest of Israel to the family of one of his servants, who turns out to be the son of Nebat, one of Solomon's officials. It was the prophet Ahijah who told Jeroboam the Ephraimite that he was going to be king over most of Israel after Solomon died. I guess God told Solomon who he was turning Israel over to, as well, because Solomon wanted to kill him, and the younger man fled for Egypt until the king's death.

So Rehoboam stepped up to the throne after his daddy died, and acted incredibly stupid. He made a lot of Israelites really mad when he made them work harder and pay more taxes. Only his own tribe, the tribe of Judah, stuck with him. He was 41 when he took the throne, and he ruled Judah for 17 years. Everyone else accepted Jeroboam as their king, and he reigned over Israel for 22 years. 

But Jeroboam didn't listen to God either. He had golden calves created to worship, and told the Israelites that the statues of the cows were now their gods, and that those hunks of gleaming metal had been responsible for bringing their forefathers out of Egypt. That sure didn't make God happy! So God ripped the kingdom from his hands and promised to utterly destroy the family dynasty. 

Now, after 17 or 18 years, Rehoboam died, leaving his son Abijam on the throne over Judah. Abijam's mom was Absalom's daughter, so after all this time, someone from that part of the family finally got to be king. It didn't last very long though. I don't know how he died, but he did, and his son Asa took over Judah during Jeroboam's 20th year over Israel.

Now Asa was a good guy. He was David's great-great-grandson, if I'm counting the generations right. (David-Absalom-Maacah-Abijam-Asa... yep, great-great grandson.) He deposed his mother from her position of Queen Mother because of her obscene Asherah pole, which he cut down and burned. He rid the land of the male and female prostitutes. He was faithful to God, and he ruled over Judah for 41 years. 

Meanwhile, Jeroboam died and his son Nadab became king of Israel. This was during Asa's second year. A year later, Baasha, the son of the prophet (Ahija) who had foretold of Jeroboam's family demise, came along and murdered Nadab (Jeroboam's son) and his whole family. He was a bad guy, though, and God promised to wipe out his family through someone else, just as he'd wiped out Jeroboam's family by his hand. (Is that clear as mud?) After 24 years, Baasha died and left the throne to his son, Elah.

When Elah became king of Israel, Asa had been king over Judah for 26 years. He (Elah) had a commander over half of his royal chariots named Zimri, and Zimri had his eye on the throne. So one day while they were in Tirzah, King Elah was getting drunker than a skunk at the home of Arza, who was the supervisor over the king's palace. In comes Zimri... I'm not sure if Arza was part of the scheme, or if he just let Zimri in because he didn't suspect anything unusual was up, but in any case, Zimri struck Elah down and killed him, then and there. He inserted himself as king, and then killed the entire royal family, including the smallest child. He even destroyed distant relatives, and friends of Elah. He wasn't leaving anything to chance. 

It didn't help him though. His kingship was short-lived. He ruled for a whopping seven days before the rest of the Israeli army got wind of it. They were a big taken aback. They didn't want Zimri, because he had committed treason by assassinating Elah, so they elected Omri, the commander of the army, as the new king. Omri and the army went to Tirzah, which was the capital city, and attacked. Zimri went into the citadel of the palace, set a fire, and died in the flames. I gather it was intentional suicide.

So now Omri was technically king, but half the people of Israel tried to make some guy named Tibni their king. They battled back and forth for a couple of years until finally Tibni was killed, and Omri's kingship was official. At this time, Asa had been ruling Judah for 31 years. Omri built a city on a hill that he purchased, and called the city Samaria. But he was a bad guy, too, and after 12 years (including the time before Timri was killed), he died, and his son Ahab became the next king.

Ahab ruled Israel during the last few years of Asa's reign and he stayed king for 22 years. But he was a bad guy, too. He did more to make God mad than any of the other kings. He married Jezebel, the Sidonian princess, he began to bow down and worship Baal, he built a temple and an altar to Baal in Samaria, and he set up an Asherah pole. During all this time, Heil,  guy from Bethel, tried to rebuild Jericho. His attempts cost the lives of all his family, just as God had long ago forewarned.

Shortly after Ahab became established as King over Israel, Asa, the king of Judah, died. His feet were severely diseased. Of course, we don't know what the disease was, but the only kind of foot disease I can think of that would be bad enough to kill someone is Gangrene. At his death, his son, Jehoshaphat, became the new king of Judah.

And that, folks, is as far as I've gotten. I'm glad, too, because my wrists need a break!

My oldest daughter and her family are arriving in town tomorrow, and staying for a week. I'm only mentioning this because I may take a few days off during this time from my studying. I'll try to keep the blog going every day, though, and would be very happy if any of my readers would volunteer to contribute! Just leave me a comment, or contact me through Facebook, Worthy, or by email. Otherwise, I'll fill in with material I've written in the past. Have a wonderful week!

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