How the Israelites Became Two Kingdoms

As Solomon grew older, he started worshiping the false gods that his foreign wives worshiped. God became angry with him and decided to take the kingdom away from Solomon's son. However, because of his promise to David, he would let Solomon's son be king over part of the people.

Now Solomon had an official who was in charge of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. The young man's name was Jeroboam. One day as Jeroboam was traveling away from Jerusalem, the prophet Ahijah met him. Ahijah took off the new robe he was wearing and tore it into twelve pieces. Then he told Jeroboam, "Take ten pieces for yourself, because this is what God says: "I am going to take the kingdom away from Solomon, and I will give you ten tribes. If you do what I say like David did, I will always be with you. You will be king and your children will be after you." But when Solomon heard what the prophet Ahijah had told Jeroboam, he tried to kill Jeroboam. But Jeroboam escaped to the land of Egypt and stayed there until Solomon died.

After Solomon had ruled for forty years, he died and was buried in Jerusalem. His son Rehoboam became king after him. Now Jeroboam returned to Israel after Solomon died. The people of the northern tribes gathered to make Rehoboam king at the city of Shechem. But first they came to Rehoboam, and said, "Your father Solomon treated us bad and put heavy burdens on us. If you will make these burdens lighter, we will serve you." Rehoboam answered, "Come back in three days and I will give you my answer." So they left.

Then Rehoboam asked the old men who had served his father what should he do. They said, "If you want to serve this people well, tell them yes and they will always serve you." But Rehoboam did not like this answer, so he also asked the young men that he had grown up with what he should do. They said, "Tell the people, 'My little finger is thicker than my father's waist! My father put heavy burdens on you; I will make them even heavier. He beat you with whips; I will beat you with scorpions.'"

When the people came back at the end of three days, Rehoboam answered them like his young friends had said. But the people did not like the answer. And they said, "What do we have to do with David's family. Let's go home." When the people stoned one of Rehoboam's officials to death, he fled back to Jerusalem. The tribes in the north appointed Jeroboam as their king. Only the tribe of Judah and part of the tribe of Benjamin stayed loyal to Rehoboam. So the Israelites were divided into two nations. The nation in the north under Jeroboam was called Israel. The nation in the south under Rehoboam was called Judah.

When Jeroboam realized that the Israelites in his kingdom would go to the southern kingdom to offer sacrifices to God in the temple at Jerusalem, he became worried. He thought that they might again want Rehoboam to be their king. So he made two calves out of gold and set them up in the cities of bethel in the south of his nation and Dan in the north. Then he told the people, "These are your gods who brought you out of Egypt. Do not go to Jerusalem to worship; come here instead." So the people worshiped the idols that he had made. But God was very displeased. He sent a prophet to Jeroboam to tell him to quit worshiping idols, but Jeroboam would not repent, so he became known as the king who made Israel sin.

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