|jer-o-bo'-am (he that opposes the people, whose people are many, the people contend)
RELATED: Abijah, Damascus, Hamath, Idols, Kingdom of Israel, Rehoboam, Shechem, Solomon, Tirzah
Easton's Bible Dictionary
increase of the people.
(1) The son of Nebat ( 1 Kings 11:26 - 39 ), "an Ephrathite," the first king of
the ten tribes, over whom he reigned twenty-two years (B.C. 976-945). 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., of the bands of forced labourers.
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 Shishak I. On the death of Solomon, the ten tribes, having
revolted, sent to invite him to become their king. The conduct of Rehoboam favoured
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 Jehovah, 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.
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 , 13:9 ; 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 ).
(2) Jeroboam II., the son and successor of Jehoash, and the fourteenth king of
Israel, over which he ruled for forty-one years, B.C. 825-784 ( 2 Kings 14:23
). He followed the example of the first Jeroboam in keeping up the worship of
the golden calves ( 2 Kings 14:24 ). His reign was contemporary with those of
Amaziah ( 2 Kings 14:23 ) and Uzziah ( 2 Kings 15:1 ), kings of Judah. He was
victorious over the Syrians ( 2 Kings 13:4 ; 14:26 , 14:27 ), and extended Israel
to its former limits, from "the entering of Hamath to the sea of the plain" (
2 Kings 14:25 ; Amos 6:14 ). His reign of forty-one years was the most prosperous
that Israel had ever known as yet. With all this outward prosperity, however,
iniquity widely prevailed in the land ( Amos 2:6 - 8 ; 4:1 ; 6:6 ; Hosea 4:12
- 14 ). The prophets ( Hosea 1:1 ), ( Joel 3:16 ; Amos 1:1 , 1:2 ), and Jonah
( 2 Kings 14:25 ) lived during his reign. He died, and was buried with his ancestors
( 2 Kings 14:29 ). He was succeeded by his son Zachariah (q.v.).
His name occurs in Scripture only in 2 Kings 13:13 ; 2 Kings 14:16 , 14:23 , 14:27
, 14:28 , 14:29 ; 15:1 , 15:8 ; 1 Chronicles 5:17 ; Hosea 1:1 ; Amos 1:1 ; 7:9
, 7:10 , 7:11 . In all other passages it is Jeroboam the son of Nebat that is
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
he that opposes the people
Smith's Bible Dictionary
(whose people are many).
(1) The first king of the divided kingdom of Israel, B.C. 975-954, was the son
of an Ephraimite of the name of Nebat. He was raised by Solomon to the rank of
superintendent over the taxes and labors exacted from the tribe of Ephraim. (
1 Kings 11:28 ) he made the most of his position, and at last was perceived by
Solomon to be aiming at the monarchy. He was leaving Jerusalem, when he was met
by Ahijah the prophet, who gave him the assurance that, on condition of obedience
to his laws, God would establish for him a kingdom and dynasty equal to that of
David. ( 1 Kings 11:29 - 40 ) The attempts of Solomon to cut short Jeroboams designs
occasioned his flight into Egypt. There he remained until Solomons death. After
a years longer stay in Egypt, during which Jeroboam married Ano, the elder sister
of the Egyptian queen Tahpenes, he returned to Shechem, where took place the conference
with Rehoboam [REHOBOAM], and the final revolt which ended in the elevation of
Jeroboam to the throne of the northern kingdom.
Now occurred the fatal error of his policy. Fearing that the yearly pilgrimages
to Jerusalem would undo all the work which he effected, he took the bold step
of rending the religious unity of the nation, which was as yet unimpaired, asunder.
He caused two golden figures of Mnevis, the sacred calf, to be made and set up
at the two extremities of his kingdom, one at Dan and the other at Bethel. It
was while dedicating the altar at Bethel that a prophet from Judah suddenly appeared,
who denounced the altar, and foretold its desecration by Josiah, and violent overthrow.
The king, stretching out his hand to arrest the prophet, felt it withered and
paralyzed, and only at the prophets prayer saw it restored, and acknowledged his
divine mission. Jeroboam was at constant war with the house of Judah, but the
only act distinctly recorded is a battle with Abijah, son of Rehoboam, in which
he was defeated. The calamity was severely felt; he never recovered the blow,
and soon after died, in the 22d year of his reign, ( 2 Chronicles 13:20 ) and
was buried in his ancestral sepulchre. ( 1 Kings 14:20 )
(2) Jeroboam II., the son of Joash, the fourth of the dynasty of Jehu. (B.C. 825-784.)
The most prosperous of the kings of Israel. He repelled the Syrian invaders, took
their capital city Damascus, ( 2 Kings 14:28 ) and recovered the whole of the
ancient dominion from Hamah to the Dead Sea. ch ( 2 Kings 14:25 ) Ammon and Moab
were reconquered, and the transjordanic tribes were restored to their territory,
( 2 Kings 13:5 ; 1 Chronicles 5:17 - 22 ) but it was merely an outward restoration.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
jer-o-bo'-am (yarobh`am; Septuagint Hieroboam, usually
assumed to have been derived from riyb and `am, and signifying "the people contend,"
or, "he pleads the people's cause"):
The name was borne by two kings of Israel.
I. Jeroboam I
Jeroboam I, son of Nebat, an Ephraimite, and of Zeruah, a widow (1 Kings 11:26
- 40). He was the first king of Israel after the disruption of the kingdom, and
he reigned 22 years (937-915 BC).
The history of Jeroboam is contained in 1 Kings 11:26 - 40 ; 12:1 - 14:20 ; 2
Chronicles 10:1 - 11:4 ; 11:14 - 16 ; 12:15 ; 13:3 - 20 , and in an insertion
in the Septuagint after 1 Kings 12:24 (a-z). This insertion covers about the same
ground as the Massoretic Text, and the Septuagint elsewhere, with some additions
and variations. The fact that it calls Jeroboam's mother a porne (harlot), and
his wife the Egyptian princess Ano (compare 1 Kings 11); that Jeroboam is punished
by the death of his son before he has done any wrong; that the episode with the
prophet's mantle does not occur until the meeting at Shechem; that Jeroboam is
not proclaimed king at all--all this proves the passage inferior to the Massoretic
Text. No doubt it is a fragment of some historical work, which, after the manner
of the later Midrash, has combined history and tradition, making rather free use
of the historical kernel.
2. His Rise and Revolt:
Jeroboam, as a highly gifted and valorous young Ephraimite, comes to the notice
of Solomon early in his reign (1 Kings 11:28; compare 9:15 , 24). Having noticed
his ability, the king made him overseer of the fortifications and public work
at Jerusalem, and placed him over the levy from the house of Joseph. The fact
that the latter term may stand for the whole of the ten tribes (compare Amos 5:6
; 6:6 ; Obadiah 1:18) indicates the importance of the position, which, however,
he used to plot against the king. No doubt he had the support of the people in
his designs. Prejudices of long standing (2 Samuel 19:40 ; 20) were augmented
when Israelite interests were made subservient to Judah and to the king, while
enforced labor and burdensome taxation filled the people's hearts h bitterness
and jealousy. Jeroboam, the son of a widow, would be the first to feel the gall
of oppression and to give voice to the suffering of the people. In addition, he
had the approval of the prophet Ahijah of the old sanctuary of Shiloh, who, by
tearing his new mantle into twelve pieces and giving ten of them to Jeroboam,
informed him that he was to become king of the ten tribes. Josephus says (Ant.,
VIII, vii, 8) that Jeroboam was elevated by the words of the prophet, "and being
a young man of warm temper, and ambitious of greatness, he could not be quiet,"
but tried to get the government into his hands at once. For the time, the plot
failed, and Jeroboam fled to Egypt where he was received and kindly treated by
Shishak, the successor to the father-in-law of Solomon.
3. The Revolt of the Ten Tribes:
The genial and imposing personality of Solomon had been able to stem the tide
of discontent excited by his oppressive regime, which at his death burst all restraints.
Nevertheless, the northern tribes, at a popular assembly held at Shechem, solemnly
promised to serve Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, who had already been proclaimed
king at Jerusalem, on condition that he would lighten the burdens that so unjustly
rested upon them. Instead of receiving the magna charta which they expected, the
king, in a spirit of despotism, gave them a rough answer, and Josephus says "the
people were struck by his words, as it were, by an iron hammer" (Ant., VIII, viii,
3). But despotism lost the day. The rough answer of the king was met by the Marseillaise
of the people:
| "What portion have we in David?
Neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse:
To your tents. O Israel:
Now see to thine own house, David"
(1 Kings 12:16).
Seeing the turn affairs had taken, but still unwilling to make any concessions,
Rehoboam sent Adoram, who had been over the levy for many years (1 Kings 5:14
; 12:18), and who no doubt had quelled dissatisfaction before, to force the people
to submission, possibly by the very methods he had threatened to employ (1 Kings
12:14). However, the attempt failed. The aged Adoram was stoned to death, while
Rehoboam was obliged to flee ignominiously back to Jerusalem, king only of Judah
(1 Kings 12:20). Thus, the great work of David for a united kingdom was shattered
by inferiors, who put personal ambitions above great ideals.
4. The Election:
As soon as Jeroboam heard that Solomon was dead, he returned from his forced exile
in Egypt and took up his residence in his native town, Zeredah, in the hill country
of Ephraim Septuagint 1 Kings 12:20). The northern tribes, having rejected the
house of David, now turned to the leader, and perhaps instigator of the revolution.
Jeroboam was sent for and raised to the throne by the choice and approval of the
popular assembly. Divinely set apart for his task, and having the approval of
the people, Jeroboam nevertheless failed to rise to the greatness of his opportunities,
and his kingdom degenerated into a mere military monarchy, never stronger than
the ruler who chanced to occupy the throne. In trying to avoid the Scylla that
threatened its freedom and faith (1 Kings 11:33), the nation steered into the
Charybdis of revolution and anarchy in which it finally perished.
5. Political Events:
Immediately upon his accession, Jeroboam fortified Shechem, the largest city in
Central Israel, and made it his capital. Later he fortified Penuel in the East
Jordan country. According to 1 Kings 14:17, Tirzah was the capital during the
latter part of his reign. About Jeroboam's external relations very little is known
beyond the fact that there was war between him and Rehoboam constantly (1 Kings
14:30). In 2 Chronicles 13:2 - 20 we read of an inglorious war with Abijah of
Judah. When Shishak invaded Judah (1 Kings 14:25), he did not spare Israel, as
appears from his inscription on the temple at Karnak, where a list of the towns
captured by him is given. These belong to Northern Israel as well as to Judah,
showing that Shishak exacted tribute there, even if he used violence only in Judah.
The fact that Jeroboam successfully managed a revolution but failed to establish
a dynasty shows that his strength lay in the power of his personality more than
in the soundness of his principles.
6. His Religious Policy:
Despite the success of the revolution politically, Jeroboam descried in the halo
surrounding the temple and its ritual a danger which threatened the permanency
of his kingdom. He justifiably dreaded a reaction in favor of the house of David,
should the people make repeated religious pilgrimages to Jerusalem after the first
passion of the rebellion had spent itself. He therefore resolved to establish
national sanctuaries in Israel. Accordingly, he fixed on Bethel, which from time
immemorial was one of the chief sanctuaries of the land (Genesis 28:19 ; 35:1
; Hosea 12:4), and Dan, also a holy place since the conquest, as the chief centers
of worship for Israel. Jeroboam now made "two calves of gold" as symbols of the
strength and creative power of Yahweh, and set them up in the sanctuaries at Bethel
and Dan, where altars and other sacred objects already existed. It appears that
many of the priests still in the land were opposed to his image-worship (2 Chronicles
11:13). Accordingly, he found it necessary to institute a new, non-Levitical priesthood
(1 Kings 13:33). A new and popular festival on the model of the feasts at Jerusalem
was also established. Jeroboam's policy might have been considered as a clever
political move, had it not contained the dangerous ppeal to the lower instincts
of the masses, that led them into the immoralities of heathenism and hastened
the destruction of the nation. Jeroboam sacrificed the higher interests of religion
to politics. This was the "sin of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, wherewith he made
Israel to sin" (1 Kings 12:30 ; 16:26).
7. Hostility of the Prophets:
It may be that many of the prophets sanctioned Jeroboam's religious policy. Whatever
the attitude of the majority may have been, there was no doubt a party who strenuously
opposed the image-worship.
(1) The Anonymous Prophet.
On the very day on which Jeroboam inaugurated the worship at the sanctuary at
Bethel "a man of God out of Judah" appeared at Bethel and publicly denounced the
service. The import of his message was that the royal altar should some day be
desecrated by a ruler from the house of David. The prophet was saved from the
wrath of the king only by a miracle. "The altar also was rent, and the ashes poured
out from the altar." This narrative of 1 Kings 13 is usually assumed to belong
to a later time, but whatever the date of compilation, the general historicity
of the account is little affected by it.
(2) The Prophet Ahijah.
At a later date, when Jeroboam had realized his ambition, but not the ideal which
the prophet had set before him, Ahijah predicted the consequences of his evil
policy. Jeroboam's eldest son had fallen sick. He thought of Ahijah, now old and
blind, and sent the queen in disguise to learn the issue of the sickness. The
prophet bade her to announce to Jeroboam that the house of Jeroboam should be
extirpated root and branch; that the people whom he had seduced to idolatry should
be uprooted from the land and transported beyond the river; and, severest of all,
that her son should die.
8. His Death:
Jeroboam died, in the 22nd year of his reign, having "bequeathed to posterity
the reputation of an apostate and a succession of endless revolutions."
S. K. Mosiman
II. Jeroboam II
Jeroboam II (2 Kings 14:23 - 29), son of Joash and 13th king of Israel; 4th sovereign
of the dynasty of Jehu. He reigned 41 years. His accession may be placed circa
798 BC (some date lower).
1. His Warlike Policy:
Jeroboam came into power on the crest of the wave of prosperity that followed
the crushing of the supremacy of Damascus by his father. By his great victory
at Aphek, followed by others, Joash had regained the territory lost to Israel
in the reigns of Jehu and Jehoahaz (2 Kings 13:17 , 25). This satisfied Joash,
or his death prevented further hostilities. Jeroboam, however, then a young man,
resolved on a war of retaliation against Damascus, and on further conquests. The
condition of the eastern world favored his projects, for Assyria was at the time
engaged, under Shalmaneser III and Assurdan III, in a life-and-death struggle
with Armenia. Syria being weakened, Jeroboam determined on a bold attempt to conquer
and annex the whole kingdom of which Damascus was the capital. The steps of the
campaign by which this was accomplished are unknown to us. The result only is
recorded, that not only the intermediate territory fell into Jeroboam's hands,
but that Damascus itself was captured (2 Kings 14:28). Hamath was taken, and thus
were restored the eastern boundaries of the kingdom, as they were in the time
of David (1 Chronicles 13:5). From the time of Joshua "the entrance of Hamath"
(Joshua 13:5), a narrow pass leading into the valley of the Lebanons, had been
the accepted northern boundary of the promised land. This involved the subjection
of Moab and Ammon, probably already tributaries of Damascus.
2. New Social Conditions:
Jeroboam's long reign of over 40 years gave time for the collected tribute of
this greatly increased territory to flow into the coffers of Samaria, and the
exactions would be ruthlessly enforced. The prophet Amos, a contemporary of Jeroboam
in his later years, dwells on the cruelties inflicted on the trans-Jordanic tribes
by Hazael, who "threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron" (Amos 1:3).
All this would be remembered now, and wealth to which the Northern Kingdom had
been unaccustomed flowed in to its treasuries. The hovels of unburned brick in
which the citizens had lived were replaced by "houses of hewn stone" (Amos 5:11).
The ivory house which Ahab built in Samaria (1 Kings 22:39; decorations only are
meant) was imitated, and there were many "great houses" (Amos 3:15). The sovereign
had both a winter and a summer palace. The description of a banqueting scene within
one of these palatial abodes is lifelike in its portraiture. The guests stretched
themselves upon the silken cushions of the couches, eating the flesh of lambs
and stall-fed calves, drinking wine from huge bowls, singing idle songs to the
sound of viols, themselves perfumed and anointed with oil (Amos 6:4 - 6). Meanwhile,
they were not grieved for the affliction of Joseph, and cared nothing for the
wrongdoing of which the country was full. Side by side with this luxury, the poor
of the land were in the utmost distress. A case in which a man was sold into slavery
for the price of a pair of shoes seems to have come to the prophet's knowledge,
and is twice referred to by him (Amos 2:6 ; 8:6).
3. Growth of Ceremonial Worship:
With all this, and as part of the social organization, religion of a kind flourished.
Ritual took the place of righteousness; and in a memorable passage, Amos denounces
the substitution of the one for the other (Amos 5:21). The worship took place
in the sanctuaries of the golden calves, where the votaries prostrated themselves
before the altar clothed in garments taken in cruel pledge, and drank sacrificial
wine bought with the money of those who were fined for non-attendance there (Amos
2:8). There we are subsidiary temples and altars at Gilgal and Beersheba (Amos
4:4 ; 5:5 ; 8:14). Both of these places had associations with the early history
of the nation, and would be attended by worshippers from Judah as well as from
4. Mission to Amos:
Toward the close of his reign, it would appear that Jeroboam had determined upon
adding greater splendor and dignity to the central shrine, in correspondence with
the increased wealth of the nation. Amos, about the same time, received a commission
to go to Bethel and testify against the whole proceedings there. He was to pronounce
that these sanctuaries should be laid waste, and that Yahweh would raise the sword
against the house of Jeroboam. (Amos 7:9). On hearing his denunciation, made probably
as he stood beside the altar, Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent a messenger
to the king at Samaria, to tell him of the "conspiracy" of Amos, and that the
land was not able to bear all his words. The messenger bore the report that Amos
had declared "Jeroboam shall die by the sword," which Amos had not done. When
the messenger had gone, priest and prophet had a heated controversy, and new threatenings
were uttered (Amos 7:10 - 17).
5. Prophecy of Jonah:
The large extension of territory acquired for Israel by Jeroboam is declared to
have been the realization of a prophecy uttered earlier by Jonah, the son of Amittai
(2 Kings 14:25)--the same whose mission to Nineveh forms the subject of the Book
of Jonah (Jonah 1:1). It is also indicated that the relief which had now come
was the only alternative to the utter extinction of Israel. But Yahweh sent Israel
a "saviour" (2 Kings 13:5), associated by some with the Assyrian king Ramman-nirari
III, who crushed Damascus, an left Syria an easy prey, first to Jehoash, then
to Jeroboam. (see JEHOASH), but whom the historian seems to connect with Jeroboam
himself (2 Kings 14:26 , 27).
Jeroboam was succeeded on his death by his weak son Zechariah (2 Kings 14:29).
W. Shaw Caldecott
bible commentary, bible history, bible reference, bible study, damascus, define, first king of the kingdom of israel, golden calves, jeroboam I, jeroboam II, most prosperous king, paralyzed hand, prophecy of jonah, revolt of the ten tribes