1 Kings 14-16
The books of Kings provide an account of the two separate and independent kingdoms of the Israelites that formed from the united kingdom (see The United Kingdom) after the death of King Solomon (see The Division Of Israel) - Israel (see The Northern Kingdom) and Judah (see The Southern Kingdom; see also Kings of Israel and Judah and Israelite Dynasties).
Jeroboam, the first king of Israel quickly led the new kingdom of "Israel" into apostasy. When his son Abijah became seriously ill, Jeroboam had his wife disguise herself and inquire to the prophet Ahijah (a totally illogical act). The prophet, even though blind with age, foretold the death of Jeroboam's son Abijah, the destruction of Jeroboam's royal line, and the future destruction and captivity of the northern of Israel (see also The Galilee Captivity) - all because of Jeroboam's unfaithfulness to The Lord.
"At that time Abijah the son of Jeroboam fell sick. And Jeroboam said to his wife, "Arise, and disguise yourself, that it be not known that you are the wife of Jeroboam, and go to Shiloh; behold, Ahijah the prophet is there, who said of me that I should be king over this people." (1 Kings 14:1-2 RSV)
The southern kingdom of Judah under Rehoboam was no less corrupt to The Lord than Israel. As a result, The Lord allowed Judah's enemies to become strong again, such as King Shishak of Egypt who looted Jerusalem (the movie "Raider's of The Lost Ark" is based upon the incorrect assumption that Shishak took The Ark Of The Covenant to Egypt at that time - see the Fact Finder question below). All the while, Israel and Judah were at war with each other i.e. "there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam continually."
"And Judah did what was evil in the sight of The Lord, and they provoked Him to jealousy with their sins which they committed, more than all that their fathers had done. For they also built for themselves high places, and pillars, and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree; and there were also male cult prostitutes [see Sodomites] in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations which The Lord drove out before the people of Israel.
1 Kings Chapter 15
Abijam succeeded his father Rehoboam as king of Judah. Abijam's three year reign also saw constant war with Israel, with very heavy losses e.g. "Abijah and his people slew them with a great slaughter; so there fell slain of Israel five hundred thousand picked men." (2 Chronicles 13:17 RSV). Like most of the other kings, "he walked in all the sins which his father did before him; and his heart was not wholly true to The Lord his God, as the heart of David his father."
"Now in the eighteenth year of King Jeroboam the son of Nebat, Abijam began to reign over Judah. He reigned for three years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Maacah the daughter of Abishalom.
King Asa of Judah was the son of Abijah and grandson of Rehoboam; he also experienced constant war with Israel. Asa bought himself an ally against Israel, Syria, with "all the silver and the gold that were left in the treasures of the house of The Lord and the treasures of the king's house." Asa was succeeded by his son Jehoshaphat.
"In the twentieth year of Jeroboam king of Israel Asa began to reign over Judah" (1 Kings 15:9 RSV)
Nadab was the son and successor of King Jeroboam of Israel. Nadab reigned two years before being assassinated (see also Assassins) by Baasha who then "killed all the house of Jeroboam; he left to the house of Jeroboam not one that breathed, until he had destroyed it, according to the word of The Lord which he spoke by his servant Ahijah the Shilonite."
"Nadab the son of Jeroboam began to reign over Israel in the second year of Asa king of Judah; and he reigned over Israel two years. He did what was evil in the sight of The Lord, and walked in the way of his father, and in his sin which he made Israel to sin.After annihilating the royal line of Jeroboam, Baasha assumed the throne and began the second royal dynasty of the northern kingdom of Israel (see Israelite Dynasties). Tirzah was made the capital of his kingdom and it is there that Baasha was buried after his reign of twenty four years.
"In the third year of Asa king of Judah, Baasha the son of Ahijah began to reign over all Israel at Tirzah, and reigned twenty-four years. He did what was evil in the sight of The Lord, and walked in the way of Jeroboam and in his sin which he made Israel to sin." (1 Kings 15:33-34 RSV)
1 Kings Chapter 16
Baasha's idolatry brought about the end of his short royal line. Like many others, Baasha learned, the hard way, that what The Lord makes ("I exalted you out of the dust and made you leader over My people Israel"), He will also break ("I will utterly sweep away Baasha and his house") if it becomes corrupt.
"And the word of The Lord [see also YHVH, Adonai, Jehovah, LORD] came to Jehu the son of Hanani against Baasha, saying, "Since I exalted you out of the dust and made you leader over My people Israel, and you have walked in the way of Jeroboam, and have made My people Israel to sin, provoking Me to anger with their sins, behold, I will utterly sweep away Baasha and his house, and I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat. Any one belonging to Baasha who dies in the city the dogs shall eat; and any one of his who dies in the field the birds of the air shall eat."
Elah was the son and successor of Baasha of Israel. He was assassinated, while in a drunken stupor, by his military officer Zimri, who then proclaimed himself king and "destroyed all the house of Baasha, according to the word of The Lord, which He spoke against Baasha by Jehu the prophet."
"In the twenty-sixth year of Asa king of Judah, Elah the son of Baasha began to reign over Israel in Tirzah, and reigned two years.
Zimri reigned only seven days. After hearing of Zimri's assassination of the king, the larger part of the army "elected" (see also Royal Democracy) Omri as king. Omri's forces laid siege to Tirzah, where Zimri set fire to the royal palace and died.
"In the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, Zimri reigned seven days in Tirzah. Now the troops were encamped against Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines, and the troops who were encamped heard it said, "Zimri has conspired, and he has killed the king"; therefore all Israel made Omri, the commander of the army, king over Israel that day in the camp. So Omri went up from Gibbethon, and all Israel with him, and they besieged Tirzah. And when Zimri saw that the city was taken, he went into the citadel of the king's house, and burned the king's house over him with fire, and died, because of his sins which he committed, doing evil in the sight of The Lord, walking in the way of Jeroboam, and for his sin which he committed, making Israel to sin." (1 Kings 16:15-19 RSV)
Omri's defeat of Zimri was easy, however Omri spent the next four years struggling against Tibni for the throne before achieving victory. Omri reigned for six years at Tirza before establishing a new capital city for the northern kingdom of Israel at Samaria. Despite his political success, "Omri did what was evil in the sight of The Lord, and did more evil than all who were before him."
"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 overcame the people who followed Tibni the son of Ginath; so Tibni died, and Omri became king.
"In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab the son of Omri began to reign over Israel, and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years. And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of The Lord more than all that were before him. And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, he took for wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal [see also Baal-zebub and Beelzebub], and worshiped him. He erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he built in Samaria. And Ahab made an Asherah. Ahab did more to provoke The Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him.
Fact Finder: Why was it not possible for King Shishak of Egypt, or anyone else, to have taken The Ark of The Covenant away from Jerusalem?