The Northern Kingdom of Israel
“But as for the children of Israel which dwelt in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them. Then king Rehoboam sent Adoram, who [was] over the tribute; and all Israel stoned him with stones, that he died. Therefore king Rehoboam made speed to get him up to his chariot, to flee to Jerusalem. So Israel rebelled against the house of David unto this day. And it came to pass, when all Israel heard that Jeroboam was come again, that they sent and called him unto the congregation, and made him king over all Israel”
– 1 Kings 12:17-20
The Old Testament – A Brief Overview
The Northern Kingdom (Israel)
The Northern Kingdom consisted of 10 of the tribes (excluding Judah and Benjamin). It lasted for about 210 years until it was destroyed by Assyria in 722 BC. Its capital was Samaria. Every king of Israel was evil. In the northern kingdom, there were 9 dynasties (family lines of kings) and 19 kings in all. An average of 11 years to a reign. 8 of these kings met death by violence.
The epitaph written over every one of its kings was:
1 Kings 15:34 and he did evil in the sight of the LORD and walked in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin by which he had made Israel to sin.
It was king Ahab who introduced Baal worship to them.
1 Kings 16:30-33 Now Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD, more than all who were before him. And it came to pass, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took as wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians; and he went and served Baal and worshipped him. Then he set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. And Ahab made a wooden image. Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him.
The last king was Hoshea (2 Kings 17). The petty wars of the past, wars with Syria and Edom, Ammon and Philistia, were now to give way to war on an ominous new scale.
A world empire was being gathered into the ruthless hands of the Assyrians. The ruthless and cruel Assyrians (under Sargon II) besieged Samaria for 3 years and finally, it fell, Israel was doomed. The Assyrians hauled them away into captivity (722 BC).
But the Lord always reminded them of why judgment came:
II Kings 17:7-23 For so it was that the children of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and they had feared other gods, and had walked in the statutes of the nations whom the LORD had cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made.
Also, the children of Israel secretly did against the LORD their God things that were not right, and they built for themselves high places in all their cities, from watchtower to fortified city. They set up for themselves sacred pillars and wooden images on every high hill and under every green tree. There they burned incense on all the high places, like the nations whom the LORD had carried away before them; and they did wicked things to provoke the LORD to anger, for they served idols, of which the LORD had said to them, “You shall not do this thing.”
Yet the LORD testified against Israel and against Judah, by all of His prophets, every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways, and keep My commandments and My statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by My servants the prophets.” Nevertheless, they would not hear, but stiffened their necks, like the necks of their fathers, who did not believe in the LORD their God. And they rejected His statutes and His covenant that He had made with their fathers, and His testimonies which He had testified against them; they followed idols, became idolaters, and went after the nations who were all around them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them that they should not do like them.
So they left all the commandments of the LORD their God, made for themselves a moulded image and two calves, made a wooden image and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal. And they caused their sons and daughters to pass through the fire, practised witchcraft and soothsaying, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger.
Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight; there was none left but the tribe of Judah alone. And the LORD rejected all the descendants of Israel, afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of plunderers until He had cast them from His sight. He tore Israel from the house of David, and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king. Then Jeroboam drove Israel from following the LORD and made them commit a great sin. For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they did not depart from them, until the LORD removed Israel out of His sight, as He had said by all His servants the prophets. So Israel was carried away from their own land to Assyria, as it is to this day.