Jeroboam, an Ephraimite who had been a military leader in the army of Israel during Solomon’s reign, was rewarded for his accomplishments with a building project in the city of David. He was made an administrator over all the house of Joseph, that is, over the territorial districts of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, two of the most powerful tribes in Israel (see 1 Kings 11:26–28 ). Later, Ahijah, a prophet of that day, revealed to Jeroboam that he, Jeroboam, would become the ruler of the northern ten tribes (see 1 Kings 11:29–39 ).
Solomon, fearful of Jeroboam, sought his life. Jeroboam fled to Egypt, where he lived in exile until after Solomon’s death (see 1 Kings 11:40 ; 12:2–3 ). The people of the north called Jeroboam out of Egypt to lead their confrontation with Rehoboam, Solomon’s son (see 1 Kings 12 ).
As part of this rebellion, the northern people seceded from Judah and made Jeroboam their king. They became known as the kingdom of Israel, or the Northern Kingdom. This kingdom was often referred to as Ephraim, particularly by the prophets, because the tribe of Ephraim was a dominant power from the days of Joshua to the time of Jeroboam (see Numbers 13:3, 8 ; 14:6 ).
The capital of the Northern Kingdom was established first in Shechem and later in Samaria, both of which cities were located in the territory of the tribe of Ephraim. Sometimes the names of these cities were used to mean the whole of the Northern Kingdom. (See Isaiah 7:1–9 ; Jeremiah 7:15 ; 31:9 ; Ezekiel 37:16–19 ; Hosea 4:17 .)
With the power of kingship, Jeroboam established a state religion of idolatrous worship (see 1 Kings 12:25–33 ). The new nation never repented of this wickedness, which contributed to its downfall.
Twenty monarchs ruled the Northern Kingdom from its beginning until its destruction by the Assyrians. Five different family dynasties were set up in the Northern Kingdom, but all were short-lived, and all were ended by assassination or violence. Seven monarchs were murdered, and one committed suicide.
The scriptural record characterizes every ruler of the northern tribes as evil or wicked. Such prophets as Elijah, Elisha, Amos, and Hosea ministered in the Northern Kingdom during this period, calling on the kings and the people to repent. At the same time, the prophets of Judah, including Isaiah and Micah, also warned the people of the Northern Kingdom of their coming destruction if they did not repent.
The following list of the kings of Israel gives notes on their reigns and the prophets who were contemporary with them. The dates used are those generally accepted. They were adapted from Edwin R. Thiele, A Chronology of the Hebrew Kings. Other chronologies may vary slightly from the one used here. The chronologies of the kings of both kingdoms and the correspondence between the reigns of the monarchs and the ministries of the prophets is shown in Maps .
Dynasty of Jeroboam
Jeroboam I (931–909 B.C. ). See 1 Kings 12:25–14:20 . Introduced worship of idols. Corrupted the priestly offices for his new religion. The curse of idolatry remained with the Northern Kingdom until its fall (see 2 Kings 17:21–22 ).
Before Solomon’s death, Ahijah, the prophet from Shiloh, prophesied the coming division of the kingdom, stating that the Lord would give ten of the tribes to Jeroboam to rule over (see 1 Kings 11:28–40 ). Later, when Jeroboam became king, Ahijah prophesied that the king’s house would become extinct because Jeroboam encouraged idolatry (see 1 Kings 14:6–16 ).
Nadab (909–908 B.C. ). See 1 Kings 15:25–31 . Son of Jeroboam I. Assassinated by Baasha in a military revolt during an engagement with the Philistines.
Dynasty of Baasha
Baasha (908–886 B.C. ). See 1 Kings 15:32–16:7 . Executed all the descendants of Jeroboam. Defeated by Asa, king of Judah, and by the Syrians.
The prophets Havani and Jehu prophesied during his reign.
Elah (886–885 B.C. ). See 1 Kings 16:8–14 . Son of Baasha. Assassinated by Zimri, one of his high military officers, who assumed the throne.
Zimri (885 B.C. ). See 1 Kings 16:15–20 . Ruled only seven days. Executed all the descendants of Baasha. Besieged by Omri, chief officer of the military. Committed suicide to avoid being captured alive.
Tibni (885 B.C. ). See 1 Kings 16:21–22 . Led part of the people against Omri. Was defeated by Omri, who gained control of the entire Northern Kingdom.
Dynasty of Omri
Omri (885–874 B.C. ). See 1 Kings 16:23–28 . Moved the capital to Samaria. Conquered the land of Moab and placed it under tribute.
Ahab (874–853 B.C. ). See 1 Kings 16:29–22:40 . Son of Omri. Married the Zidonian princess Jezebel and worshiped the idols of pagan neighbors. Joined as an ally with Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, against the Syrians. Rejected the prophet Elijah. (During Ahab’s reign Elijah had the contest with the priests of Baal.) Finally entered an alliance with Syria against the invading Assyrians. Returned in league with Judah to fight Syria, who had rebelled against Israel. Was killed just as the battle was lost.
Ahaziah (853–852 B.C. ). See 1 Kings 22:51 through 2 Kings 1:18 . Son of Ahab. Opposed the revolt of Moab against Israel. Injured in a fall at the palace and sought blessing and direction of idol god.
The prophet Elijah’s prophecy of Ahaziah’s death was fulfilled. There were, evidently, numerous other prophets in the Northern Kingdom at the time. Jahaziel and Eliezer are two who are named (see 2 Chronicles 20:14, 37 ).
Joram/Jehoram (852–841 B.C. ). See 2 Kings 3:1–8:15 . Brother of Ahaziah. Forbade the worship of foreign gods but retained the idol worship instituted by Jeroboam. Joined in an alliance with Judah against Moab. Successfully held off Syrian attacks on the people of Israel. Was killed by Jehu in a bloody purge of the Omri dynasty.
Elisha received the mantle of the prophetic ministry from Elijah during this time (see 2 Kings 2:9–15 ).
Dynasty of Jehu
Jehu (841–814 B.C. ). See 2 Kings 9:1–10:36 . Anointed king over Israel by a young prophet who acted under the direction of Elisha. Killed King Joram and mortally wounded King Ahaziah of Judah, Israel’s ally. Destroyed the descendants of Ahab and the remnants of foreign idol worship. Since there is no record of his violent death, it is assumed he was one of the few to die of natural causes.
Jehoahaz (814–798 B.C. ). See 2 Kings 13:1–9 . Son of Jehu. Surrendered the kingdom of Israel to the Syrian conquerors and paid tribute to them. Saw much of the nation’s military power destroyed.
Elisha’s ministry of about fifty years, begun in Joram’s reign, continued through the reign of Jehoahaz’s son Jehoash. Some scholars believe Joel’s ministry was also about this time.
Jehoash (798–782 B.C. ). See 2 Kings 13:10–25 . Son of Jehoahaz. Continued paying tribute to Syria. Freed Israel from tributary status and defeated the Syrians three times when a change of leadership in Syria and conquest there by the Assyrians brought war again between Syria and Israel.
Jeroboam II (792–753 B.C. ). See 2 Kings 14:23–29 . Son of Jehoash. Maintained Israel’s independence from Syrian control. Took part of the kingdom of Judah.
The ministry of Amos, who called on the kingdom of Israel to repent or face destruction, began about this time.
Zachariah (753 B.C. ). See 2 Kings 15:8–12 . Son of Jeroboam II. Was the last king of the lengthy dynasty of Jehu. Assassinated by his successor after only six months on the throne.
The ministry of Hosea began about this time and continued until the fall of the Northern Kingdom in 721 B.C.
Shallum (752 B.C. ). See 2 Kings 15:13–15 . Assassinated by Menahem, his successor, after only one month as king.
Dynasty of Menahem
Menahem (752–742 B.C. ). See 2 Kings 15:16–22 . Brutally murdered the pregnant women in the cities that refused to support him as king. Controlled by the Assyrians under Pul (Tiglath-pileser IV), who placed Israel under heavy tribute.
Pekahiah (742–740 B.C. ). See 2 Kings 15:23–26 . Son of Menahem. Was assassinated by Pekah, a military leader. About this time Isaiah began his ministry in the kingdom of Judah, although much of what he said was directed at Israel as well.
Pekah (740–732 B.C. ). See 2 Kings 15:27–31 . Formed an alliance with Syria against Assyria. Threatened and, with Syria, finally attacked Judah but with limited success. Attacked by the Assyrians. Lost all of Galilee, whose inhabitants were exiled to Assyria. Was assassinated by Hoshea, his successor.
Hoshea (732–722 B.C. ). See 2 Kings 17:1–23 . Surrendered to the Assyrians and agreed to pay heavy tribute. Sought the aid of Egypt against the Assyrians to relieve the heavy burden. This intrigue resulted in a three year siege of the Northern Kingdom and the collapse of Israel. The Assyrians sent into exile most of the people of Israel.
The captivity of the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom eventually ended in their escape into the north countries and their becoming known as the lost tribes (see Enrichment D ).