History of the House of Israel
the House of Judah
Chart of the Kings of Judah and Israel
David, King of Judah & Israel, 1011-971BC
Solomon, king of Judah & Israel, 971-931BC
House of Judah House of Israel
Rehoboam, 931-915BC Jeroboam, 931-910BC
Abijam, 913-910BC Nadab, 910-909BC
Asa, 910-869BC Baasha, 909-886BC
Jehoshaphat, 875-847BC Ahab, 874-853BC
Jehoram (+Athaliah), 853-841 Jehoram, 852-841
Ahaziah, 841-840BC Jehu, 841-814BC
Joash (Jehoash), 835-796BC Jehoahaz, 814-798BC
Amaziah, 797-767BC Jehoash, 798-782BC
Uzziah, 767-750BC JeroboamII,782-753
Jotham, 750-735BC Zechariah, 753-752
745 BC, Shalmananeser III captures 3.5 tribes of Israel,
Reuben, Naphtali, half tribe Manasseh
Ahaz, 735-715BC Hoshea, 731-723BC
721BC, Sargon II conquers Samaria in a 3 year siege,
27,290 Ephraimites taken captive from Samaria, end
of the ten tribed House of Israel in Palestine
Hezekiah, 715-686BC [co-regency 729-716BC]
Josiah, 640/639 to 609BC
Jehoiakim 609/608 to 598BC
Jeconiah, 598-597BC (3 months)
Zedekiah, 597 to 587/586BC
Nebuchadnezzar II conquers Judah and Jerusalem, takes
all but a few Jews captive to Babylon, 587/586BC
Jeremiah set free, Baruch, Zedekiah’s daughters under his care. Taken captive by renegade Jews to Egypt. Disappears historically.
History of the House of Israel and House of Judah
Beginning of the Phoenician-Israelite Maritime Alliance
Under King Solomon, there was an alliance between the 12 tribed nation of Israel and Hiram, king of Tyre, great ruler of the Phoenician maritime shipping empire. This is seen in 2nd Chronicles 9:21, which states, “For the king’s ships [Solomon had a merchant marine and navy, allied with the Phoenician merchant marine and navy!] went to Tarshish [a seaport on the western, or Atlantic side of Spain] with the servants of Hiram. Once every three years the merchant ships came bringing gold, silver, ivory, apes, and monkeys.” It takes three years for sailing vessels to circumnavigate the globe. It is obvious from this short verse, that Solomon’s ships, united with Hiram’s and Hiram’s sailors coming along with the Israelite merchant ships to “show them the ropes”, were sailing around the world, mining gold and silver from various places. This is pre-Columbus circumnavigation of the world’s oceans! Verses 13-21 show this wasn’t a small amount of gold and silver being mined, processed and shipped back to Israel, Tyre and Sidon. 2nd Chronicles 9:13-21, “The weight of gold that came to Solomon yearly was six hundred and sixty six talents of gold, [a talent either being 120lbs or 180lbs, depending on which source you go to] besides what the traveling and traders brought. And all the kings of Arabia and governors of the country brought gold and silver to Solomon. And King Solomon made two hundred large shields of hammered gold; six hundred shekels of hammered gold went into each shield. He also made three hundred shields of hammered gold; three hundred shekels of gold went into each shield. The king put them in the House of the Forest of Lebanon. Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with pure gold. The throne had six steps, with a footstool of gold, which were fastened to the throne; there were armrests on either side of the place of the seat, and two lions stood beside the armrests. Twelve lions stood there, one on each side of the six steps; nothing like this had been made for any other kingdom. All King Solomon’s drinking vessels were gold, and all the vessels of the House of the Forest of Lebanon were pure gold. Not one was silver, for this was accounted as nothing in the days of Solomon. For the king’s ships went to Tarshish with the servants of Hiram. Once every three years the merchant ships came, bringing gold, silver, ivory, apes, and monkeys.” My personal guess was that Hiram and the Phoenicians had mastered “plank on frame” shipbuilding. They being master carpenters and stonemasons would probably have discovered and mastered this art, which was then lost to shipwrights until the 1400s AD. This would have made it possible to make large sturdy ships of high quality that could circumnavigate the globe with no problems, which obviously they were doing, if you believe what is written in the Bible in these verses. Let’s look at the following quote from H. de B. Gibbons, M.A., MACMILLAN AND CO…1891, chap. II, selected parts from pp. 7-8:
The Phenicians. Their discovery of Spain.---These Phenicians were the smallest and yet the richest nation in antiquity. They inhabited only a narrow strip of coast-line along the north of Palestine and Syria, between Mount Lebanon and the sea, but in the dim ages before Greeks and Romans arose upon the world’s stage they were the masters of the Mediterranean. Their two great cities, Sidon and Tyre, were flourishing centres of commerce and manufactures when the Israelites came out of Egypt [1446-1406BC], and their ships and sailors were the finest in the ancient world. Indeed, from their position the Phenicians [Phoenicians] had every opportunity of making good ships, for the mountains of Lebanon immediately behind them afforded an abundant supply of valuable timber, especially cedar and fir, and in the ships thus built their sailors made their way along the coast first to Cyprus, then to the islands of the Aegean Sea and Greece in the north, and to Egypt and Africa in the south, and so along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea till they came at last to Spain, which in those early times was the richest known country in minerals, especially silver. The discovery of Spain and its silver was to the Phenicians what the discovery of Peru was to the Spaniards in more modern times. It gave them at once immense wealth, and they proceeded to develop the country assiduously. They had discovered it apparently about 1050 B.C., and here they founded Gades (or Cadiz) and Tartessus, which is probably the same as the Hebrew Tarshish. Besides silver they got from Spain tin, lead, iron, and even gold, as well as abundance of corn, wine, oil, wax, fruit, and fine wool.
So this Phoenician empire is the very empire king Solomon united his new navy with, and created a joint merchant marine-navy with the Phoenician empire. After a hundred years, the Phoenician language started to exhibit Hebrew letters in it as the crews of their combined merchant marine and navy became more amalgamated. Discovered linguistic inscriptions prove this out. Another important item to notice, is the identification of Gades and Tarshish. On a map between pages 8 and 9 in Gibbons’ book, he shows the location of Taresssus, or Tarshish and Gades on the Atlantic coastal side of Spain, just north of Gibraltar. Remember that, for this will be useful later in this study.
What caused the demise and division of Solomon’s united Israelite empire?
But Solomon had a problem. He had married 700 wives and had 300 concubines (now that would be a problem for any man). Most of them were political marriages of convenience to the daughters of the kings of neighboring pagan nations, the first wife being the daughter of Pharaoh, an Egyptian princess. He built pagan temples for all his wives. 1st Kings 11:1-4, “But King Solomon loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharaoh; women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites---from the nations of whom the LORD had said to the children of Israel, ‘You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.’ Solomon clung to these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart. For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David.” Quite a relationship, alliance as you will, was building up between Hiram king of Tyre and Solomon. 1st Kings 9:10-14, “Now it happened at the end of twenty years, when Solomon had built the two houses, the house of the LORD, and the king’s house (Hiram the king of Tyre had supplied Solomon with cedar and cypress and gold, as much as he desired), that King Solomon then gave Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee. Then Hiram went from Tyre to see the cities which Solomon had given him, but they did not please him. So he said, ‘What kind of cities are these which you have given me, my brother?’ And he called them the land of Cabul, as they are to this day. Then Hiram sent the king one hundred and twenty talents of gold.” The “talent” was about 120 pounds (troy). This obviously looks like a payment for these cities, and even though Hiram appeared not to like them, a lively fishing trade has always existed in and around the Sea of Galilee, and he was paying a pretty penny for them. If these cities really became part of this forming alliance between the Phoenician maritime-naval empire and Israel, these cities would have supplied a ready force of manpower for the combined Phoenician-Israelite maritime ships and navy. This would be where that maritime-naval force really received the ability to expand as a powerful maritime sea-power, which the Bible shows brought great wealth into Israel during Solomon’s reign. This Hiram could give Solomon 120 talents of gold, and 120 x 120 = 14,400 lbs of gold. If a ton weighs out at 2,000 lbs, 14,400 divided by 2,000 = 7.2 tons of gold! This wasn’t a gift from Solomon to Hiram, it was a business deal, and if these cities really did come under Hiram’s control, they obviously gave him a ready supply of sailors who were Israelite. This would provide the foundation for the Israelite-Phoenician maritime and naval alliance, a huge combined Israelite-Phoenician fleet. Where did Hiram get all this gold? He already had mining colonies across the Mediterranean Sea, some in Spain, which could now be manned with Israelites as well, and these operations began under Solomon’s reign. So we see that Hiram, and those coming after him, owned land in the upper portions of Israel, which became the upper part of the region the ten tribes of Israel lived in. It is the ten tribes, the House of Israel starting under Jeroboam, who would inherit this extremely valuable maritime shipping and naval alliance with Tyre and Sidon, the two major capital city-states of the Phoenician Maritime Empire. But this would lead to problems for them as we shall see. Solomon’s many wives led him into the practice of worshipping other gods, which led to the LORD telling Solomon his descendants would no longer rule over 10 of the 12 tribes of Israel. 1 Kings 11:11-13, “Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, ‘Because you have done this, and have not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to your servant. [And his servant, or chief ruler under him, was Jeroboam] Nevertheless I will not do it in your days, for the sake of your father David; I will tear it out of the hand of your son. However I will not tear away the whole kingdom; I will give one tribe to your son for the sake of my servant David, and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen.’” That one tribe would be the tribe of Benjamin, which was very strong militarily. This would enable this Southern Kingdom of Judah the military ability to protect itself and survive in wars that would follow between the northern House of Israel and themselves, the southern House of Judah. This very alliance with Hiram and Phoenicia would lead to the same problems for the 10 northern tribes of Israel that Solomon encountered by marrying all those foreign pagan wives, and then lead to their eventual destruction as a nation. Also during the time of David and Solomon, the Assyrian and Hittite Empires were subjugated and had become vassal states, paying tribute to Israel, which would lead to future problems with Assyria, a very proud warrior empire.
Solomon dies 931BC, Rehoboam his son reigns (931-915BC)---Jeroboam and northern ten tribes of Israel break off from Judah and the kingship of the line of David
Solomon’s son was Rehoboam. God had told Solomon that due to all the pagan wives he had, who turned him from the worship of the True God, he would wrest all but one tribe from his royal line. In the beginning of Rehoboam’s reign (2nd Chronicles 10) God kept his word and caused a rebellion to occur with ten of the 12 tribes of Israel under Jeroboam, a previous servant of Solomon (verses 1-18). As we see from what is said in these verses, Jeroboam, obviously a high level official under Solomon, didn’t like Solomon’s heavy-handed way of dealing with people---especially in his taxation practices. And obviously due to Jeroboam’s criticism of Solomon’s methods in later life, he was forced to flee to Egypt (see 1st Kings 11:26-40 for the rest of the story). 2nd Chronicles 10:1-18, “And Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had gone to Shechem to make him king. So it happened, when Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard it (he was in Egypt, where he had fled from the presence of King Solomon), that Jeroboam and all Israel came and spoke to Rehoboam, saying, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy; now therefore, lighten the burdensome service of your father and his heavy yoke which he put on us, and we will serve you.’ So he said to them, ‘Come back to me after three days.’ And the people departed. Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who stood before his father Solomon while he still lived, saying, ‘How do you advise me to answer these people?’ And they spoke to him, saying, ‘If you are kind to these people, and please them, and speak good words to them, they will be your servants forever.’ But he rejected the advice which the elders had given him, and consulted the young men who had grown up with him, who stood before him. And he said to them, ‘What advice do you give? How should we answer this people who have spoken to me, saying, ‘Lighten the yoke which your father put on us’?’ Then the young men who had grown up with him spoke to him, saying, ‘Thus you should speak to the people who have spoken to you, saying, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you make it lighter on us’---thus you shall say to them: ‘My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s waist! And now, whereas my father put a heavy yoke on you, I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scourges!’” [“scourges with points or barbs, lit. scorpions] So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam on the third day, as the king had directed, saying, ‘Come back to me the third day.’ Then the king answered them roughly. King Rehoboam rejected the advice of the elders, and he spoke to them according to the advice of the young men, saying, ‘My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to it; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scourges [Hebrew: scorpions]!’ So the king did not listen to the people; for the turn of events was from God, that the LORD might fulfill his word, which he had spoken by the hand of Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat. Now when all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, saying: ‘What share have we in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. Every man to your tents, O Israel! Now see to your own house, O David!’ So all Israel departed to their tents. But Rehoboam reigned over the children of Israel who dwelt in the cities of Judah. Then king Rehoboam sent Hadoram, who was in charge of revenue; but the children of Israel stoned him with stones, and he died. Therefore king Rehoboam mounted his chariot in haste to flee to Jerusalem. So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day.” Thus 10 of the 12 tribes of Israel broke off from the nation, creating two nations now, the northern House of Israel (composed of ten tribes), and the House of Judah (containing the remaining two tribes, Judah and the southern half of Benjamin). This is quite similar to how the United States was born out of a tax revolt against the British in 1776. Now we come to Rehoboam’s son Abijah. His father is dead and he is reigning.
Shishak between 930 and 924BC raids Jerusalem and all in the temple
For those who have seen Raiders of the Lost Ark, starring Harrison Ford, the movie has some base in historic fact. It may be that the ark really was taken to Egypt if the Levitical priesthood were not able to “hide it” before this event, which took place in Rehoboam’s reign. The Egyptian pharaoh known as Shoshenq I, identified in the Bible as Shishak in 1st Kings 14:25, reigned from 945BC to 924BC. Here is what 1st Kings 14:25-26 has to say, “It happened in the fifth year of king Rehoboam that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem. And he took away the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king’s house, he took away everything. He also took away all the gold shields which Solomon had made. Then king Rehoboam made bronze shields in their place, and committed them to the hands of the captains of the guard, who guarded the doorway of the king’s house.” According to Sir Alan Gardiner’s Egypt of the Pharaohs, this Shishak, Shoshenq I, being one of the later Pharaohs which had come from Libyan descent and ruled over the Egyptians, ruled from the city of Tanis, on the northwestern quadrant of the Nile Delta. Tanis has been inundated by floodwaters repeatedly, burying much of the ancient city in silt and mud. As a result of this, not all of the archeological treasures in the city have been found, according to Gardiner. The Ark of the Covenant could be in Tanis, or it may not be. We’ll find out later.
Israel under Jeroboam starts a massive civil war against the House of Judah (913BC)
Jeroboam is still reigning over the northern ten tribes, now called the House of Israel, and at the very end of his reign he decides to start a civil war with Abijah [also written Abijam] and the House of Judah to the south. In 2nd Chronicles 13:1-20 the number of combatants between the two sides was a whapping 1,200,000 soldiers, 800,000 Israelites under Jeroboam and 400,000 Jewish soldiers under Abijah. We will see as we read that Jeroboam suffered a huge loss, loosing 500,000 of his 800,000 soldiers, seriously weakening the northern House of Israel militarily. This would end up creating a sort of power vacuum in all the nations around who were either allied with Israel’s ten tribes, or those who were their enemies. 2nd Chronicles 13:1-20, “In the eighteenth year of king Jeroboam, Abijah became king over Judah. He reigned three years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Michaiah the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah. And there was war between Abijah and Jeroboam. Abijah set the battle in order with an army of valiant warriors, four hundred thousand choice men. Jeroboam also drew up in battle formation against him with eight hundred thousand choice men, mighty men of valor.” Now that, folks is 1,200,000 combatants. A lot of Bible critics like to say those numbers are way too large, but fail to realize these were agrarian nations that could feed large populations. We think nothing of it when we have cities having over a million people living in them, but can’t image nations back then having large populations. Let’s see what happens. “Then Abijah stood on Mount Zemaraim, which is in the mountains of Ephraim, and said, ‘Hear me, Jeroboam and all Israel: Should you not know that the LORD God of Israel gave the dominion over Israel to David forever, to him and his sons, by a covenant of salt? Yet Jeroboam the son of Nebat, the servant of Solomon the son of David, rose up and rebelled against his lord. Then worthless rogues gathered to him, and strengthened themselves against Rehoboam the son of Solomon, when Rehoboam was young and inexperienced and could not withstand them. And now you think to withstand the kingdom of the LORD, which is in the hand of the sons of David; and you are a great multitude, and with you are the gold calves which Jeroboam made for you as gods. Have you not cast out the priests of the LORD, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and made for yourselves priests, like the peoples of other lands, so that whoever comes to consecrate himself with a young bull and seven rams may be a priest of things that are not gods? But as for us, the LORD is our God, and we have not forsaken him; and the priests who minister to the LORD are the sons of Aaron, and the Levites attend to their duties. And they burn to the LORD every morning and every evening burnt sacrifices and sweet incense; they also set the showbread in order on the pure gold table, and the lampstand of gold with its lamps to burn every evening; for we keep the command of the LORD our God, but you have forsaken him. Now look, God himself is with us as our head, and his priests with sounding trumpets to sound the alarm against you. O children of Israel, do not fight against the LORD God of your fathers, for you shall not prosper!’ But Jeroboam caused an ambush to go around behind them; so they were in front of Judah, and the ambush was behind them. And when Judah looked around, to their surprise the battle line was at both front and rear; and they cried out to the LORD, and the priests sounded the trumpets. Then as the men of Judah shouted, it happened that God struck Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah. And the children of Israel fled before Judah, and God delivered them into their hand. THEN ABIJAH AND HIS PEOPLE STRUCK THEM WITH A GREAT SLAUGHTER; SO THAT FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND FELL SLAIN. Thus the children of Israel were subdued at that time; and the children of Judah prevailed, because they relied on the LORD God of their fathers. And Abijah pursued Jeroboam and took cities from him: Bethel with its villages, Jeshanah with its villages, and Ephrain with its villages. SO JEROBOAM DID NOT RECOVER STRENGTH AGAIN IN THE DAYS OF ABIJAH; AND THE LORD STRUCK HIM, AND HE DIED.” In King David’s time, Israel, all 12 tribes, was able to muster 1,600,000 soldiers. So these figures for combined combatants of 1,200,000 is not unrealistic, 800,000 for the ten northern tribes of the House of Israel, and 400,000 for the combined forces of Judah and Benjamin. This occurred in 913 BC. Solomon had died in 930 BC. Rehoboam reigned for 17 years, so this would be the first year of Abijah’s reign. Poor Abijah’s barely on the throne and old Jeroboam attacks him and Judah with an 800,000 man army, odds 2-to-1 against Abijah and Judah. But the victory God gave to Abijah and Judah had a huge ripple effect in the surrounding nations and empires. Under kings David and Solomon, the combined, unified nation of Israel held military sway over all the nations in the Middle East, including the Assyrian Empire, which had become so weakened it had become a vassal state. 2nd Chronicles 15:5-6 reflects the results of this power vacuum created by Israel’s massive defeat at the hands of Abijah and Judah, carrying all the way into the reign of Asa, Abijah’s son. It states, “And in those times there was no peace to the one who went out, nor to the one who came in, but great turmoil was on all the inhabitants of the lands. So nation was destroyed by nation, and city by city, for God troubled them with every adversity” (2nd Chronicles 15:5-6). Now what would have caused this? Who would be taking advantage of this power-vacuum and causing trouble? Let’s look at a quote from the Encyclopedia Americana which describes this period of time as seen in Assyrian history:
“…Assyria was reduced to dire straits [from 935-912BC], and the poverty of its people is vividly described in the inscriptions of Assur-dan II and his son Adad-nirarii (911-891) were chiefly concerned with restoration of Assyrian strength by procuring cavalry horses…”
There is a distinct and direct reversal of military influence seen here between the northern ten tribes, the House of Israel, and the Assyrian Empire. Right after 913BC when Israel was seriously militarily weakened, the Assyrian Empire is able to start rebuilding its military strength. That alone would start to cause political and military instability within the Middle East north of Israel itself. This Assyrian influence and strengthening will continue until a point is reached where they succeed in conquering the northern kingdom, leading at the very least, one third of Israel’s population captive a little less than 200 years later.
What was the sin of Jeroboam?
What was that sin, the sin of Jeroboam? He essentially created a paganized imitation for God’s Holy Days and sacrificial system. As we will see later, it wasn’t as evil as Baalism, which Israel would later absorb from their Sidonian and Tyrian naval and maritime allies. More on that later. 1st Kings 12:25-33, “Then Jeroboam built Shechem in the mountains of Ephraim, and dwelt there. Also he went out from there and built Penuel. And Jeroboam said in his heart, ‘Now the kingdom may return to the house of David: If these people go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will turn back to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah.’ Therefore the king asked advice, made two calves of gold, and said to the people, ‘It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt!’ And he set up one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. Now this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one as far as Dan. He made shrines on the high places, and made priests from every class of people, who were not of the sons of Levi. Jeroboam ordained a feast on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, like the feast that was in Judah, and offered sacrifices on the altar. So he did at Bethel, sacrificing to the calves that he made. And at Bethel he installed the priests of the high places which he had made. So he made offerings on the altar which he had made at Bethel on the fifteenth day of the eighth month which he had devised in his own heart. And he ordained a feast for the children of Israel, and offered sacrifices on the altar and burned incense.” God sent a prophet who gave a very interesting prophecy, which would be fulfilled 242 years later, when King Josiah became king of Judah and carried out the curse of this prophecy. Let’s read it, because it will tie right in with the ending of this synopsis of Kings and Chronicles. 1st Kings 13:1-3, “And behold, a man of God went from Judah to Bethel by the word of the LORD, and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense. Then he cried out against the altar by the word of the LORD, and said, ‘O altar, altar! Thus says the LORD: Behold a child, Josiah by name, shall be born to the house of David; and on you he shall sacrifice the priests of the high places who burn incense on you, and men’s bones shall be burned on you.’ And he gave a sign which the LORD has spoken: Surely the altar shall split apart, and the ashes on it shall be poured out.’” Jeroboam, angry, stretched out his hand saying ‘Arrest him!’, but his hand became leprous. Then the altar did split apart pouring out its ashes. Jeroboam sought healing from the prophet, who pleaded to the LORD for his healing, which he did (verses 4-6).
Nadab, Baasha, and Elah kings of Israel (910-885BC)
After the death of Jeroboam his son Nadab became king over Israel (in the second year of king Asa of Judah), but he only had a short reign of two years. He was killed in a conspiracy by Baasha at Gibbethon, and this Baasha reigned over Israel in place of Nadab. Baasha then killed the entire house of Jeroboam (1st Kings 15:25-29). Remember, this is a weakened Israel. But also remember, when Jeroboam caused the ten tribes to break off from Rehoboam and Judah, Jeroboam and the Israelites both inherited and maintained their strong alliance with the Phoenician naval and shipping empire city-states of Tyre and Sidon. This would prove to be the major cause of Israel’s downfall, as Israel and her leaders absorbed Sidonian and Tyrian Baal worship. More on this later. Baasha continued to rule for 24 years over Israel. Then in the 20th year of Asa, king of Judah, Elah the son of Baasha took over the reigns in Israel as king after the death of Baasha, and he reigned two years in Tirzah. But he was killed in a conspiracy by Zimri, commander of half his chariots. Zimri killed the household of Baasha after he started to reign. 1st Kings 15:25-33, “Now Nadab the son of Jeroboam became king over Israel in the second year of Asa king of Judah, and he reigned over Israel two years. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father, and in his sin by which he made Israel sin. Then Baasha the son of Ahijah, of the house of Issachar, conspired against him. And Baasha killed him at Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines, while Nadab and all Israel laid siege to Gibbethon. Baasha killed him in the third year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned in his place. And it was so, when he became king, that he killed all the house of Jeroboam. He did not leave to Jeroboam anyone that breathed, until he had destroyed him, according to the word of the LORD which he had spoken by his servant Ahijah the Shilonite, because of the sins of Jeroboam, which he had sinned and by which he had made Israel sin, because he had provoked the LORD God of Israel to anger. 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 became king over all Israel in Tirzah, and reigned twenty-four years. He did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin which he had made Israel sin.”
End of Baasha’s line, Elah (886-885BC)
Baasha’s son, Elah, is overthrown and killed by Zimri, ending the short-lived line of Baasha. Now things get interesting in the northern Kingdom of Israel. Remember when God through Jeroboam split off the ten tribes of Israel, so they became a kingdom of their own? Well this northern kingdom, made up of ten tribes of Israel, inherited this rich and prosperous alliance with the Phoenician maritime shipping empire. This alliance is about to grow. But first a man named Omri, a successful military general in Israel’s army must become king of the House of Israel. This is how this came to pass. 1st Kings 16:8-13, “In the twenty-sixth year of Asa king of Judah, Elah the son of Baasha became king over Israel, and reigned two years in Tirzah. Now his servant Zimri, commander of half his chariots, conspired against him as he was in Tirzah drinking himself drunk in the house of Arza, steward of his house in Tirzah. And Zimri went in and struck him and killed him in the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned in his place. Then it came to pass, when he began to reign, as soon as he was seated on his throne, that he killed all the household of Baasha; he did not leave him one male, neither relatives nor of his friends. Thus Zimri destroyed all the household 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, by which they had sinned and by which they had made Israel sin, in provoking the LORD God of Israel to anger with their idols.”
Omri, king of Israel (885-874BC)
Omri was the commanding general of Israel’s forces. In Asa king of Judah’s 27th year Omri encamps around Tirzah, Zimri sets fire to the palace he’s living in with himself in it and died. Zimri had only had a chance to rule for 7 days when the commanding general of Israel’s entire army steps in and encircles the city Zimri is in. Zimri commits suicide by burning the palace he’s in down around himself. Omri is now king over Israel, and he reigns 12 years. But in these 12 short years, he makes quite the impression on the growing Assyrian Empire. His first major act was to buy the hill of Samaria off of a guy named Shemer for two talents of silver. This was not done on a whim. Omri had been the commanding general of Israel’s army. Israel’s capital city of Samaria which he was building was built on a highly defensible hill. The siege of Samaria by the Assyrians 157 years later would last three long years before the Assyrians succeeded in breaching its walls and conquering it. Was his choice by God’s design? 1st Kings 16:15-28, “In the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, Zimri had reigned in Tirzah seven days. And the people were encamped against Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines. Now the people who were encamped heard it said ‘Zimri has conspired and also has killed the king.’ So all Israel made Omri, the commander of the army, king over Israel that day in the camp. Then Omri and all Israel with him went up from Gibbethon, and they besieged Tirzah. And it happened, when Zimri saw that the city was taken, that he went into the citadel of the king’s house and burned the king’s house down upon himself with fire, and died, because of the sins which he had committed in doing evil in the sight of the LORD, in walking in the way of Jeroboam, and in the sin which he had committed to make Israel sin. Now the rest of the acts of Zimri, and the treason he committed, are they not written in the book of the 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 prevailed over the people who followed Tibni the son of Ginath. So Tibni died and Omri reigned. In the thirty-first year of Asa king of Judah, Omri became king over Israel, and reigned twelve years. Six years he reigned in Tirzah. And he bought the hill of Samaria from Shemer for two talents of silver; then he built on the hill, and called the name of the city which he built Samaria, after the name of Shemer, owner of the hill. Omri did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and did worse than all who were before him. For he walked in all the ways of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and in his sin by which he made Israel sin, provoking the LORD God of Israel to anger with their idols. Now the rest of the acts of Omri which he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? So Omri rested with his fathers and was buried in Samaria. Then Ahab his son reigned in his place.” Now here is an interesting fact taken out of the cuneiform annals of Assyria. King Omri made such an impression on the Assyrians, that 100 years after his dynasty had fallen Israel was still called “the House of Omri” in their cuneiform texts, as Werner Keller relates in his book The Bible as History. And Harper’s Bile Dictionary has this to say about Omri:
“The name ‘Omri’ became an established term in Assyrian documents to indicate the Israelite kings even after the death of Omri and his descendants…Assyrian annalists continue to refer to Israel as the ‘land of (the house of) Omri’ for a hundred years after the end of his dynasty.”
Herbert Hannay wrote:
“The great mass of the…Hebrew race consisted of the Israelites, or House of Isaac, who are also…called the House of Omri (Beth Omri), the Assyrian equivalent for which was Bit-Khumri…”
Later on in this study we will see how this potentially identifies colonies composed of these ten tribes, as they spread westward, at first as mere colonizing and trade ventures, later as the Assyrian Empire is driving them to seek safety and freedom elsewhere other than in the land of Palestine. [To see the Assyrian king Omri made such an impression on, log onto: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashurnasirpal_II] Obviously, Omri acted militarily to protect Israel from this nasty dude, but also his Phoenician allies of Tyre and Sidon.
Line of Kings of Israel from Jeroboam I to Ahab
Jeroboam I, (ruled 22 years) 931-910BC
Nadab son of Jeroboam (ruled 2 years) 910-909BC
Baasha (ruled 24 years) 909-886BC
Elah son of Baasha (ruled 2 years) 886-885BC
Zimri (ruled 7 days) 885BC
Tibni/Omri (ruled 12 years) 885-880BC
Ahab son of Omri (ruled 22 years) 874-853BC
(married Jezebel, daughter of the king of Sidon)
[All dating cited from Edwin R. Thiele]
From the beginning of Jeroboam I’s reign to the end of Ahab’s reign was 84 years, encompassing 7 kings.
King Ahab, son of Omri rules in Israel
“In the 38th year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab the son of Omri became king over Israel…” (1st Kings 16:29) Israel, remember, had close ties and a trade & naval alliance with the Phoenician empire, composed mainly of the two city-states of Tyre and Sidon. You may be thinking, ‘What significance can two city-states have on Israel? Most of their empire was a sea-going empire, composed of multiple hundreds, maybe thousands of ships, both of Tyre and Sidon, and of Israel itself. This alliance, don’t forget goes back to Solomon, and only grew stronger with age, right down to Ahab’s time, when we see Ahab taking a Sidonian king’s daughter as his queen (remember, Solomon had a fleet of his own and Hiram supplied some of his sailors for it [2nd Chronicles 9:21]). Let’s read the whole account. 1st Kings 16:29-34, “In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab [the Assyrians called him Ahabbu in their cuneiform, so the Assyrians bear record of him, as well as his father, Khumri] the son of Omri became king over Israel; and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years. Now Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD, more than all who were before him. And it came to pass, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians; and he went and served Baal in the temple of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. And Ahab made a wooden image. Ahab did more to provoke the LORD 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 it’s foundation with Abiram his firstborn [he actually sacrificed his firstborn and placed his body under one of the gateposts], and with his youngest son Segub he set up its gates, according to the word of the LORD, which he had spoken through Joshua the son of Nun.” Now in case you don’t catch the significance of these verses, let’s examine them a bit. First point, the marriage between Ahab and a Sidonian princess, daughter of the king of Sidon, was a marriage to further cement the trade-naval alliance between Ahab and the Phoenician maritime empire, whose main capital city-states were Tyre and Sidon. Secondly, why was God so upset by this politically inspired marriage? Well, it for one, brought Baal-worship directly into Israel, and this false god was far worse than the counterfeit worship Jeroboam had set up with his golden calves. Let’s see why. Israel back in Numbers 33:50-56 was told to destroy practitioners of this religion. Why? God promised to do to Israel what Israel was told to do to the pagan inhabitants of the land of Palestine in the time of Joshua, if they ever followed in their practices. Now lets see what Baal worship was all about. Carthage was a Phoenician city-state founded in the same century Ahab lived in. Israelites as part of the Phoenician maritime Empire (now composed of Israel, Tyre and Sidon, one huge naval/maritime seagoing force) obviously played a part in the founding of Carthage, called in Hebrew Kirjath-Hadeschath, or New Town, as opposed to their old town, Tyre. Now let’s read a quote from wikipedia.org about Carthage and Baal worship, for as their colony worshipped, so did Tyre and Sidon, and now Israel under Ahab and Jezebel. “Carthage was notorious to its neighbors for child sacrifice…Some of the sources suggest that babies were roasted to death on a heated bronze statue. According to Diodorus Siculus, “There was in their city a bronze image of Cronus extending its hands, palms up and sloping toward the ground, so that each of the children when placed thereon rolled down and fell into a sort of gaping pit filled with fire…Sites within Carthage and other Phoenician centers reveal the remains of infants and children in large numbers; some historians interpret this as evidence for frequent and prominent child sacrifice to the god Ba’al Hammon.” [see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_sacrifice ] Nowadays the modern equivalent to Baal worship would be abortion and sex offending predators who prey on children. Child pornography of all kinds, especially films, videos on and off the internet, is programming thousands of these people into this hideous lifestyle, which is responsible for the growing number of child abductions, rapes and subsequent murders to hide their crime. Some of these poor children end up on these videos. In mid to late term abortions, the unborn children can feel themselves being torn apart during the abortion process. So I must ask you, how is our modern counterpart to Baal worship any less evil than the ancient form? We’re not so civilized in our present-day society now, are we?
For an example of how many babies are dying each year log onto this link. Regardless of whether it’s the number is declining or not, murder of innocents is murder nonetheless. <http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/01/10/abortion-rate-stalls-years-decline/?cmpid=cmty_email_U.S._Abortion_Rate_Stalls_After_Years_of_Decline>
American temple of Baal Discovered
Recently I toured an archaeological site named America’s Stonehenge (105 Haverhill Road, Salem, New Hampshire), and based on what I observed as well as an engraved tablet which, translated by the late Dr. Barry Fell, reads “To Baal of the Canaanites (Phoenicians), this in dedication”, written in Iberian Punic, and came to the conclusion that this is the site of an ancient Phoenician-Israelite astronomical temple of Baal. I took as many pictures as I could, but it really didn’t sink in as to what I was looking at until I read the Tour Guide pamphlet which explained the setup. I found in the site that there was a sacrificial table, with a chiseled drain channel carved into it around the outside perimeter of this 4.5 ton slab of stone. Beneath this “sacrificial table” was a speaking tube. Words spoken through this stone-lined tube would exit under the “Sacrificial Table.” This speaking tube leads to a secret chamber, which when someone spoke into it from the secret chamber would give the impression that the table was talking. My guess, a priest of Baal was hidden in this secret chamber, where he could observe everything being done on the Sacrificial Table through a small opening. He would then speak through this speaking tube, deceiving the other Baal worshippers into thinking Baal was actually speaking and calling the shots during the human sacrifice. The blood would be caught in the circular channel running around the outside perimeter of this 4.5 ton stone slab of a sacrificial table. During excavation of the site this small tunnel or speaking tube was found blocked at both ends with small stones. The site carbon-dated to around 995BC give or take 180 years. If it actually dated somewhat less that 995BC, anywhere from 180 years or less, this site could have been built anywhere from the time of kings David and Solomon down to king Ahab and queen Jezebel of the northern House of Israel, when the Phoenician-Israelite maritime navy was colonizing and mining distant lands wherever they could. From the evidence below they had reached inland from our New England coast. The setup of their astronomical Calendrical observatory was for religious purposes, a part of Baal worship. A small Phoenician sea-anchor made of granite was found at the bottom of Canobie Lake in New Hampshire as well, about the size and weight that would successfully anchor a boat of about 30 feet in length (I’m a sailor, and observed its weight). If the Phoenician-Israelite maritime merchant marine and navy had reached the American continent, they certainly had colonies for trade all over the European, English and Irish coastlines. [see http://www.stonehengeusa.com for museum facts and driving directions. For a deeper study into the Phoenician-Celtic presence in America order America BC by Barry Fell, on http://www.amazon.com]
Elijah comes on the scene in Israel, the northern kingdom (858BC)
Things are getting so bad in Israel that God sends in his prophet, Elijah, during the reign of Ahab and Jezebel. 1st Kings 17:1-7, “And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, ‘As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.’ Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, ‘Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.’ So he went and did according to the word of the LORD, for he went and stayed by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook. And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.” Now lets see how far this drought and resultant crop failure had gotten by the time the brook dried up on Elijah. Verses 8-12, “Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, ‘Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there.” So Elijah is sent to a suburb of Sidon, one of the two major city-states of the Phoenician maritime empire, somewhat north of Israel. “See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you. So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, indeed a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, ‘Please bring me a little water in a cup, that I may drink.’ And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, ‘Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.’ So she said, ‘As the LORD your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.’” The drought was so bad, that starvation conditions had reached north into Zidon and it’s suburbs. How long did this drought last? Long enough to kill all harvests for three years, so no food grew anywhere. Israel was an agricultural nation, able to support large populations, and an 800,000 man army at times. Now let’s see how long this drought lasted. 1st Kings 18:1, “And it came to pass after many days that the word of the LORD came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, ‘Go, present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the earth.’” Three years without rain, can you imagine what that would do to a farming nation? The beginnings of Carthage (Kirjath-Hadeschath) were founded during the reign of Ahab. Why? God sent Elijah to Israel, Elijah brings three years of severe drought to Israel and the surrounding northern nations of Tyre and Sidon. Israel, usually a food exporter, now becomes a food importer. Large numbers of God-worshippers move south to Judah, and large numbers of Baal-worshippers move to Kirjath-Hadeschath (Carthage), as starvation grips the northern kingdom of Israel. Their choice, move or starve. I found this quote in an old out-of-print book titled “The History of Commerce in Europe” by H. de B. Gibbons, M.A., MACMILLAN AND CO…1891.
“Rise of Carthage.---But in course of time the Phoenician power declined considerably amid the warfare and confusion caused in Asia and in the Babylonian Empire by the invasion of Sargon the Tartar (710BC) and previous wars in the eighth century BC. Many of the merchant princes of Tyre emigrated to Carthage…Carthage or Kirjath-Hadeschath *1 as its own people called it, was founded on a peninsula in a little bay on the Gulf of Tunis, which formed a splendid natural harbour. The land round about was fertile, being well watered by the river Barajas (Mejerda), and producing corn, wine, and oil in abundance. *1. Kirjath means town and Hadeschath means new, being called so to distinguish it from the “old town,” Tyre. Kirjath is a prefix frequently found in Biblical names (Kirjath Jearim). The foundation is said to have taken place about a century before that of Rome, which would make it about 850 B.C. The city very soon gained great wealth and maritime power, conquered Sicily, the north-west coast of Africa, and the Balearic Islands, and thus gained complete possession of the western half of the Mediterranean. [selected paragraphs from chapter 2, pp. 9-10]
I might add, that Kirjath-Hadeschath is Hebrew, not Phoenician. The drought in Israel didn’t effect Judah under Jehoshaphat, who could support a 1,600,000 man army. God-obedient Judah had rain, northern Israel didn’t. Due to the duel role of needing to import large amounts of food and relocate large numbers of Israelites and Phoenicians to Kirjath-Hadeschath, the navies of Tyre, Sidon and Israel, i.e. the Phoenician-Israelite fleet must have been at their largest, at the peak of their power and influence. Much of the North African colonies of this Phoenician alliance (including Israel) had been founded in the time of 1100 to 800 BC, and as Mr. Gibbons revealed, Kirjath Hadeschath was founded at least by 850BC, the very time of Ahab, king of Israel, and the city grew very quickly from there. I wonder why? Could it possibly have been because of the three year drought we just read about next? Growing conditions were excellent in Kirjath Hadeschath.
Elijah brings an end to the drought, and brings about a revival in Israel towards worship of the true God
1st Kings 18:17-40, 41-46, “Then it happened, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said to him, ‘Is that you, O troubler of Israel?’ And he answered, ‘I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD and have followed the Baals. Now therefore, send and gather all Israel to me on Mount Carmel, the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.’ So Ahab sent for all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together on Mount Carmel. And Elijah came to all the people, and said, ‘How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, follow him. But the people answered him not a word. Then Elijah said to the people, ‘I alone am left a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men. Therefore let them give us two bulls; and let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it. Then you call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD; and the God who answers by fire, he is God.’ So all the people answered and said, ‘It is well spoken.’ Now Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, ‘Choose one bull for yourselves and prepare it first, for you are many; and call on the name of your god, but put not fire under it.’ So they took the bull which was given them, and they prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even till noon, saying ‘O Baal, hear us!’ But there was no voice; no one answered. Then they leaped about the altar which they had made. And so it was, at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, ‘Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened.’ So they cried aloud, and cut themselves, as was their custom, with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out on them. [The Israelite audience was getting quite a show here, probably finding all this quite amusing by now.] And when midday was past, they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice. But there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention. Then Elijah said to all the people, ‘Come near to me.’ So all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that was broken down. And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, ‘Israel shall be your name.’ Then with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD; and he made a trench around the altar large enough to hold two seahs of seed. And he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood, and said, ‘Fill four waterpots with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice and on the wood.’ Then he said, ‘Do it a second time; and he said, ‘Do it a third time.’ So the water ran all around the altar; and he also filled the trench with water. And it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, ‘LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that you are the LORD God, and that you have turned their hearts back to you again.’ Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. Now 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! Do not let one of them escape!’ So they seized them, and Elijah brought them down to the Brook Kishon and executed them there.”
The Drought Ends
“Then Elijah said to Ahab, ‘Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain.’ So Ahab went up to eat and drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel, then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees, and said to his servant, ‘Go up now, look toward the sea.’ So he went up and looked, and said, ‘There is nothing.’ And seven times he said, ‘Go again.’ Then it came to pass the seventh time, that he said, ‘There is a cloud, as small as a man’s hand, rising out of the sea!’ So he said, ‘Go up, say to Ahab, Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.’ Now it happened in the meantime that the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was heavy rain. So Ahab rode away and went to Jezreel. Then the hand of the LORD came upon Elijah, and he girded up his loins and ran ahead of Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.” i.e, Elijah outran a chariot! This was the high point of Elijah’s ministry up to now. The prophets of Baal, all 450 of them, along with the 400 prophets of Asherah had first been put to shame, and then killed. The people of Israel who had managed to survive in drought-stricken Israel without fleeing south into Judah (as hundreds of thousands did), or fleeing by ship to Kirjath-Hadeschath (Carthage), were gathered on Mount Carmel to be eye-witnesses to this awesome miracle of the LORD God of Israel, as he brought fire down from heaven and consumed Elijah’s water-soaked offering, devouring bull, wood, and the very stones of the altar itself, along with all the surrounding dirt, in one massive fireball. From then on, the people of Israel knew who God was, who the true prophet of God was, and that Baal was a false god with no power. God was from here on out working with many of the people of Israel, in spite of their evil Baal-worshipping leadership. Taking the long view, God was preparing the northern ten-tribe House of Israel for survival after the Assyrian conquest and captivity of those who remained in Israel at that time. That was the long view of God’s purpose. But Elijah didn’t have that long view. He’d been through a lot, all but 100 of the true servants of the prophets of God had been slain by Jezebel before this event, with only 100 servants of the prophets being saved alive in a cave by a faithful servant of the Lord who was one of Ahab’s servants. Believers show up in the most unexpected places. It is historically reported that members of the household staff and Roman guard of the evil Roman emperor Nero were early Christians. The apostle Paul mentioned them in some of his letters. But let’s see Elijah’s short view of the situation, and then see the LORD patiently explain some of the long view to his special servant Elijah.
Elijah has a psychological melt-down, the LORD names his replacement
1st Kings 19:1-18, “And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets [of Baal] with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, ‘So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.’ And when he saw that , he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. [About 100 miles from Mt Carmel to Beersheba] But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, ‘It is enough! Now, LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!’” In ministry, have you ever felt that way? You’d given it your all, but the opposition just keeps coming on, and on, and on. What you’re doing just doesn’t seem to be making a dent, a difference at all for the LORD. Have you ever felt that way? I have. And we haven’t even come close to stacking up to the stature and kind of servant of the LORD Elijah was. Psychologists that have analyzed this passage have said that Elijah was displaying the classic symptoms of clinical depression. Some say it’s a sin to be depressed, or for one to go into a state of depression, that it demonstrates a lack of faith. But the LORD in no way criticized Elijah. He straightened him out on a few points, showing him the long-term benefits of what his ministry was going to do for Israel as a whole. And he actually gave him a co-servant to work along side of him, one who would ultimately be his replacement. That is more like the LORD heard Elijah’s plea and answered it in a favorable manner. He was one man, doing a powerful but one-man ministry, and he was worn out. I know, I’ve felt that way, and I have prayed a similar request, for a partner for this work, a life-partner and co-pilot (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/memphisbelle.htm). I’ve been in Elijah’s shoes, so to speak, in a tiny little insignificant way, and have been in the depths of clinical depression due to the circumstances of doing this ministry all alone amongst nonbelievers. I’m no Elijah, but that doesn’t mean we can’t at times be in his shoes, where the LORD is doing a work through us, and we appear to be undermanned, under supplied, underpaid, living in adverse conditions, you name it. Let’s see how the LORD handles this situation for Elijah. He certainly hadn’t deserted Elijah, as we’ll see. “Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, ‘Arise and eat.’ Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. [The first angel-food cake! Sorry, couldn’t resist.] So he ate and drank, and lay down again. And the angel of the LORD came back the second time, and touched him, and said, ‘Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.’ So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God. And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ So he said, ‘I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken your covenant, torn down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.’”
God’s Revelation to Elijah
“Then he said, ‘Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD.’ And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” Next we find Elijah gives the LORD the same old answer he’s been giving all along, kind of like a broken record. But this answer is Elijah’s sincere perspective, from his own point of view. It wasn’t exactly the LORD’s point of view though, so the LORD must tune up Elijah’s perspective, to make it God’s perspective, the long view. He doesn’t show Elijah how this is going to help Israel 176 years down the road, during the first six years of Israel’s last king, Hoshea. That is the real long view, which this study is meant to show. It also should show us that right now in the present we don’t really have a clue as to how important each and every one of our ministries are going to be when all is said and done, and God’s Plan of Salvation is finished. Let’s continue with the LORD’s lesson to Elijah. “And he said, ‘I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken your covenant, torn down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.’ Then the LORD said to him: ‘Go, return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus [obviously passing through Moab east of the Jordan, bypassing both Judah and Israel]; and when you arrive, anoint Hazael as king over Syria. Also you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel. And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place. It shall be that whosoever escapes the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill; and whoever escapes the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill. Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” So you see, the bigger picture is revealed to Elijah, that he was not the only one in all Israel who had remained faithful, there were seven thousand other faithful worshippers of the LORD. A clean-up process is taking place in Israel, getting rid of the Baal worshippers. Elijah started with all the priests of Baal and Asherah who were under evil Jezebel, probably most of them who were in Israel. But she would replace them, you just know she would. But the people had also been dramatically shown who the real God was. It was a start, which Elijah had made. He had made a good dent in the problem, a good start in bringing about Israel’s spiritual healing. Elisha is to become Elijah’s replacement, but not right away. He would be his servant at first, “learning the ropes”, and then Elijah would be allowed to retire from active service, as we shall see. Verses 19-21, “So he departed from there, and found Elisha the son of Shephat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he was with the twelfth. Then Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle on him. And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah, and said, ‘Please let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.’ And he said to him, ‘Go back again, for what have I done to you?’ So Elisha turned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen and slaughtered them and boiled their flesh, using the oxen’s equipment, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and followed Elijah, and became his servant.”
Israel’s land forces depleted under Ahab
Just to show you how depleted Israel’s land forces had become (not their maritime forces, the numbers of ships during the drought could have swelled to their highest number, keeping grain coming back into Israel, and allowing those Baal-worshippers who wished to flee from the parched land to do so), but just after Elisha was anointed by Elijah there is this war about to begin between the king of Syria, Ben Hadad, and Ahab’s forces. God promises to deliver Ahab. But it mentions the number of soldiers Ahab was able to muster. 1st Kings 20:15, “Then he mustered the young leaders of the provinces, and there were two hundred and thirty-two; and after them he mustered all the people, all the children of Israel---seven thousand.” Now that’s down from the period of Jeroboam, when Jeroboam was able to muster 800,000 to fight king Abijah, son of Rehoboam of Judah. Israel had lost 500,000 in that battle, but still had 300,000 left. Now 62 years later Ahab can only seem to muster 7,000. Where did all those soldiers go? Let’s look into the kingdom of Judah to the south and see what’s happening.