Definitions

Jeroboam

Jeroboam

[jer-uh-boh-uhm]

Jeroboam (yarobh`am; Hieroboam in the Septuagint; commonly held to have been derived from riyb and `am, and signifying "the people contend," or, "he pleads the people's cause" - alternatively translated to mean "his people are many" or "he increases the people"; or even "he that opposes the people") He was the first king of the break-away ten tribes or Northern Kingdom of Israel, over whom he reigned twenty-two years. William F. Albright has dated his reign to 922 BC-901 BC, while Edwin R. Thiele offers the dates 931 BC-910 BC. He was the son of a widow of Zereda, and while still young was promoted by Solomon to be chief superintendent of the "burnden", i.e. the bands of forced laborers.

Background

According to 1 Kings 11:26-39, Jeroboam was born the son of Nebat an Ephraimite of Zereda whose mother's name was Zeruah (who later became a widow, and could have been leperous as her name translates).

Influenced by the words of the prophet Ahijah, he began to form conspiracies with the view of becoming king of the ten tribes; but these having been discovered, he fled to Egypt (1 Kings 11:29-40), where he remained for a length of time under the protection of Shoshenq I. On the death of Solomon, the ten tribes, having revolted, sent to invite him to become their king. The conduct of Rehoboam favored the designs of Jeroboam, and he was accordingly proclaimed "king of Israel" (1 Kings 12:1-20). He rebuilt and fortified Shechem as the capital of his kingdom. He at once adopted means to perpetuate the division thus made between the two parts of the kingdom, and erected at Dan and Bethel, the two extremities of his kingdom, "golden calves," which he set up as symbols of God, enjoining the people not any more to go up to worship at Jerusalem, but to bring their offerings to the shrines he had erected. Thus he became distinguished as the man "who made Israel to sin." This policy was followed by all the succeeding kings of Israel.

According to 1 Kings 13:1-6, 9, while he was engaged in offering incense at Bethel, a prophet from Judah appeared before him with a warning message from the Lord. Attempting to arrest the prophet for his bold words of defiance, his hand was "dried up," and the altar before which he stood was rent asunder. At his urgent entreaty his "hand was restored him again" (1 Kings 13:1-6, 9; compare 2 Kings 23:15); but the miracle made no abiding impression on him. His reign was one of constant war with the house of Judah. He died soon after his son Abijah (1 Kings 14:1-18).

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Sources

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