Southern Kingdom

Following the death of Solomon, the nation of Israel split.  Solomon’s son Rehoboam acted with a heavy hand toward the people and many left to follow Jeroboam.  Rehoboam was left with the southern kingdom and David’s throne to reign from.

The southern kingdom is also known as the kingdom of Judah.  Judah was not only the largest tribe, it was the tribe of David so that made it the ruling tribe as well.  At times the tribe of Benjamin is overlooked even though it also was a part of the southern kingdom.  There are several places that only mention the tribe of Judah as a part of the kingdom but this was only because Benjamin was fairly small and ultimately not noteworthy in relation to Judah.  At some point half of the tribe of Manasseh also joins with the kingdom of Judah.

Unlike the northern kingdom, the southern kingdom has a mix of both good and bad kings. The best of this group was King Hezekiah.  He is the best overall king next to David.  Unfortunately, his son Manasseh is the worst king of Judah and he also reigns the longest at 55 years.  Manasseh is actually imprisoned for a period of time in Babylon where he appears to repent because God restores him to the throne and he tears down the idols that he had built.

While the northern kingdom fell in 722 BC, the southern kingdom continued to survive for around another 150 years.  Eventually it too falls however.  The southern kingdom is destroyed in three phases.  Beginning in 605 BC King Nebuchadnezzar attacks Jerusalem.  This first time he carries away a part of the royal family including Daniel.  A second attack follows in 597 BC.  Finally a rebellion is discovered and Nebuchadnezzar returns to the city in 586 BC.  This time he leaves nothing as he flattens the city to the ground, destroys the temple, and deports all but the poorest people to Babylon.

2 Chronicles closes by noting that the Jews would be in exile for 70 years as punishment because they had failed to celebrate the Sabbath years that God had commanded and so the land would rest to make up for the years that it had been ignored.

Northern Kingdom

Following the death of King Solomon, the nation of Israel split.  God had foretold that this would occur and that Jeroboam would lead the northern kingdom when it happened.  From a human perspective though, the split occurred because of the heavy handed approach of Solomon’s son Rehoboam.  The people rebelled and ten tribes split from the House of David and crowned Jeroboam king.

God had made a conditional promise that if Jeroboam followed the Lord, He would make his kingly line and everlasting one like David’s.  Unfortunately for Jeroboam, he fell into idolatry and God destroyed his line and descendants.

The northern kingdom is also commonly referred to as the kingdom of Israel – which isn’t to be confused with the nation of Israel which had split in two.  Prophetically the kingdom is sometimes called Ephraim because this was the largest tribe in the northern kingdom.  It is also sometimes called Samaria because this was its capital city for much of the time.

The northern kingdom is marked by ungodly kings.  There are nineteen kings in total and none of them could be considered good.  Many of the kings are assassinated – and then their assassins are usually killed.  Unlike the southern kingdom which always had a descendant of David as king, there are five separate “dynasties” in the northern kingdom.  Dynasties in this case simply means that a son follows his father on the throne.  The longest dynasty in the northern kingdom only amounts to four generations.

The most noteworthy king of the northern kingdom is also its worst.  King Ahab was downright despicable but probably surpassed in wickedness by his wife Jezebel.  He was confronted by the prophet Elijah and on Mount Carmel there is an epic showdown between Elijah and the prophets of Baal whom Jezebel personally took care of.  Of course Elijah won when God responded by fire and the prophets of Baal were killed.  Jezebel vowed revenge but she and Ahab were the ones who met a wretched end.

Things didn’t end well for the northern kingdom either.  After around 200 years, the Assyrians came and wiped them out in 722 BC.  Rather than carry the people away, the Assyrians simply moved other people into the land as well.  They intermarried with the Israelites and soon the people were no longer an Israelite culture.  This new culture – half Israelite, half Assyrian – was still around during Jesus’ day.  They were then known as the Samaritans.  Because the Jews considered them to be half-breeds, they were despised by “pure blood” Jews.

Coregent

A coregent is a dual kingship.  This was common in ancient times and even in modern day monarchies and dictatorships.  When a king became old and feeble his oldest son would often take over the throne.  The son would have the authority and power of king but his father still was king as well and he held authority.

A modern day example of a coregent is found in Cuba.  When Fidel Castro became ill, his brother Raul took the presidency with his brother’s authority.  While Raul is president, Fidel still remains in the picture and his wishes also need to be taken into consideration.

A coregency sometimes makes biblical timelines difficult.  Often the reigns of kings overlap and it is hard to determine when one kingship ends and another begins.

In Daniel 5 King Belshazzar sees a hand appear and write a message on the wall.  He offers the third highest position in all of the land to the person who could translate the message.  Why the third highest?  Because even though he was king, he was really only second highest.  His father was still living but was in bad health and was away at a hot spring.  He was a coregent.