1 Kings 12:1
Solomon is dead. The Israelites gather in Jerusalem to crown their new king, Rehoboam, but before doing so, they have a question for him. Will he be as harsh to them as his father Solomon had been? Apparently Solomon was not very well liked by his people. Though he had ruled in a time of peace and plenty, he had worked his people raw and taken much of the wealth for himself. Rehoboam asked the Israelites to give him three days time to decide his answer. That right there should have pretty much answered it.
In the interim, Jeroboam discovers that Solomon has died and returns to Israel from his hidey hole in Egypt. Rehoboam consults Solomon’s advisers about the Israelites’ question; they tell him to be kind to the people, and they will forever be his servants in return. But Reho doesn’t like that answer, so he asks his friends instead. They tell him to be an asshole and work the people harder than even his father had. Being an idiot, Reho decides to go with the second suggestion. When Reho tells the people, “My father made your yoke heavy: I will make your yoke heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions,” the people didn’t react very well. Reno escaped, but the Israelites stoned Reho’s forced labor advisor to death on the spot.
When the Israelites find that Jeroboam has returned, they made him king over Israel instead Reho. For fairly obvious reasons. Except for the tribe of Judah. As promised, Reho got to keep that tribe. Of course, that doesn’t satisfy Reho, and he begins to gather an army to fight the rest of the Israelites and regain his title. Luckily, before he can start on his campaign, God tells the people not to war with one another, for Reho losing the kinship is His doing. So everyone just settles down and the war never happens. Which is close to amazing.
Pretty much as soon as the turmoil dies dow, Jeroboam decides to do something completely asinine. He fears that because the temple is in Jerusalem, his people will go there to worship God, and they will turn their allegiance back to Reho. So he makes golden calves and creates shrines to them. This, obviously, is a sin and really stupid considering God just made him the king over Israel.
As you can guess, this ends well for no one. God sends a prophet to Jeroboam to let him know that God is going to ruin his calf shrine. And then God does, like right after the prophet tells Jeroboam. Then the prophet goes on his way. God had told the prophet not to stop to eat or drink at anyone’s house, but another prophet tricks the first prophet into doing so. I don’t know why. And the first prophet ends up dead in the road, killed by a lion. The other prophet who had tricked him into eating and drinking at his house found out and felt really shitty for lying and getting the other prophet killed. He went and collected the body and buried it, requesting that he be buried with the man he had gotten killed. Pointless story? Absolutely.
Jeroboam doesn’t learn his lesson. He makes more shrines and begins appointing all kinds of people to the priesthood. And then his son gets really sick. He sends the boy and his mother to the prophet who had told Jeroboam that he would be king. The prophet told the boy’s mother that the boy would die (he does). And also Jeroboam is going to lose the kingship, his whole line while be killed, and birds are going to pick their eyes out and stuff. Long story short, it does not look good for Jeroboam. But then he gets to rule for a like 22 years and dies naturally. One of his many others sons, Nadab becomes the new king.
Meanwhile, Rehoboam is also sucking at being a king. His people (the tribe of Judah) are also worshipping other gods and setting up altars to them. There were even *gasp* male shrine prostitutes. Jero and Reho boams war with each other constantly. But they both suck and no one wins. While they’re at it, Jerusalem is attacked by the king of Egypt, who wins and carries off the treasure in Solomon’s temple and palace. Afterward, Reho has to settle for bronze shields instead of the gold ones Solomon had made for the temple in his time. Times were tough, ya’ll. And then Reho dies, and his son Abijah takes the throne.
Reho’s son, Abijah, does pretty much nothing throughout his reign. Or he might have. Every time the Bible recounts what a king of Israel has done, it ends with something like this: “As for the other events of Abijah’s reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah?” I don’t know, Bible, you tell me. Are they? I’m assuming so. Unfortunately, the annals of the kings of Israel and Judah have both been lost, so no one really knows. Anyway, Abijah was as awful a ruler as Rehoboam bad been, and then he dies. His son, Asa succeeded him.
Asa, unlike his father and grandfather, walked in the ways of the Lord. He got rid of the male sharing prostitutes, the altars and other stuff that had been set up to honor other gods. He also warred with Israel throughout his reign, going as far as to buy the help of foreigners to help and defend himself against the armies of Israel. Then he dies, and his son Jehoshaphat is made king of Judah. We’ll come back to this.
Ok, now back to Nadab, the king of Israel. Like is father, Jeroboam, Nadab did evil in the eyes of the Lord, worshipping other gods and stuff. The people of Israel followed his lead. This made God really angry. Baasha, son of a prophet plotted against Nadab. While the Israelite army was besieging a Philistine town, Baasha killed Nadab and was crowned the king of Israel. Baasha celebrated his kingship by killing everyone related to Nadab, which was the Lord’s wish.
Baasha was no better than Nadab, unfortunately. He also did evil in the eyes of the Lord. God sent a prophet to Baasha, telling him how super dead he was gonna be and how dogs would eat the carcasses of his family. It didn’t really happen. Baasha lived out his life, died naturally, and his son, Elah, succeeded him.
Elah, on the other hand, did have a very short reign. He reigned for only two years before Zimri, one of his chariot commanders, plotted against him. Zimri killed Elah in his own palace and then killed every male relative of Elah’s. Zimri reigned for only seven days. The army had crowned their commander, Omri, as the new king of Israel. When Zimri heard this news, he burnt the palace down around himself in protest. Also killing himself. In protest.
Apparently, Omri had detractors; Israel was split into two factions, one behind Omri and other behind a man named Tibni. But Omri’s followers were stronger, and Tibni was killed, securing Omri the crown. Omri was a worse king than the ones before him, and he did evil in the eyes of the Lord. When he died, his son Ahab took over the throne.
Ahab was a bigger douche than everyone else combined. He worshipped other gods, built alters, and even married Jezebel, a foreigner and worshipper of Baal. God decided to send a messenger, Elijah, to Ahab. Elijah told Ahab that there would be drought in Israel unless Elijah said otherwise. Then Elijah went and hid by a brook that God had told him about, where ravens would feed him.
Eventually, Elijah’s stream dried up, so God told him to go to the house a widow, who would feed him. So he did, and God provided food so that Elijah, the widow and the widow’s son would have enough to eat throughout the drought. After staying there for quite some time, the widow’s son became sick. The widow asked why Elijah had brought such a curse to her. Elijah felt bad, took the child up to his room and begged God to return the child to health. God heard Elijah and did as he asked. After this, the widow was comforted that Elijah was a man of God and not a curse on her house.
Back in Ahab’s palace, things were not going well at all. His wife, Jezebel was methodically killing off God’s prophets, the drought had not stopped and the city was out of water. Ahab summoned his advisor Obadiah to go out with him and search for water. They parted ways, Obadiah looking one way and Ahab the other. On his way, Obadiah met Elijah. Obadiah was not happy. He was afraid that Ahab would kill him for bringing back Elijah. And Obadiah had been faithful to God, hiding prophets from Jezebel and giving them sustenance.
Luckily for Obadiah, Ahab did not kill him for bringing back Elijah. Not that he was happy to see Elijah or anything; he immediately blamed the drought on Elijah, to which Elijah pointed out that God had been the cause, not him. Then Elijah suggested to Ahab that he bring all of his people together to decide once and for all who the true god was. Elijah claims to be the last prophet of God (I don’t know what happened to all of those that Obadiah supposedly saved), and he set up two altars. A dead animal was placed on each altar but not lit on fire. Then Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to a duel; each side would try to summon their god to to the altar, who should then set it on fire. Baal’s prophets tried all day, dancing and begging Baal to show himself to them. Elijah taunted them constantly, saying stuff like “Maybe he’s sleeping.” Elijah is a bruh kind of guy. But no matter what the prophets of Baal did, they could not summon their god. It took Elijah, of course, like five seconds to summon God. The fire of the Lord burnt up the sacrifice, and suddenly the Israelites realized that they had fucked up really badly.
The Israelites all agreed that God was the true god, and they would never ever stray again. I’m guessing this lasts less than a decade. Still, God showed mercy, and it finally rained in Israel. Then, Elijah led the Israelites in “slaughtering” Baal’s failed prophets.
Ahab, meanwhile, fled home to Jezebel. When he got there, he told her what Elijah had done. At which point, Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah telling him that she was gonna kill him real dead. So Elijah fled. His journey was way far, so he decided to give up and die under a tree instead. But an angel of God come to Elijah and gave him food, which strengthened him and he finished his journey. When Elijah got to where he was going, the word of God came to him. Go back, He said. Find a guy named Elisha (yeah, Elisha’s a dude) and anoint him prophet. Oh yeah, and kill everybody who served Baal, which is all but like 7,000 of my people. God also wanted some kings anointed, but I’ll bring those guys up if and only if anything comes of this later.
When Elijah came through, Elisha was plowing with his oxen. He wanted to go with Elijah, so he killed his oxen and burnt the yoke. Extreme? Maybe. Back at Ahab’s palace, some random king was besieging his capitol city. The foreign king demanded that Ahab hand over all of his gold and riches and also his wives and children. To which Ahab said, ok. But then the foreign king demanded that Ahab let him search the palace and take anything he wanted, and that was too far for Ahab. His kids, ok, but not his other random shit. So the foreign king attacked. But God decided that He to wanted Ahab to win. No idea why. And Ahab won. The foreign king was all, They only won because they have a hill god, and we attacked them in the hills. We need to attack them in a valley, where their hill god will have no power. Obviously, that didn’t work out well for the foreign king. His army was defeated, and he was taken hostage and forced to make a treaty with Ahab.
Unfortunately for Ahab, God really wanted that foreign king dead, which Ahab had not done for Him. So of course, death threats had to be made. But it comes to not. God seems to like idle threats. Instead, Ahab decides that he wants some guy’s vineyard, but the guy won’t give it to him, because it was his inheritance. So Ahab pouts like that prince in The Emperor’s New Groove until Jezebel notices. When she finds out why he’s pouting, Jezebel basically calls him a pansy and takes matters into her own hands. She basically has some guys accuse the vineyard owner of cursing the Lord’s name, so that the people stone him. Afterward, when Ahab finds out, he’s pumped and goes immediately to play in his new vineyard. While there, Elijah comes up, calls Ahab a murdered, and makes the same old threats about everyone in his family dying and being eaten by dogs. At this, Ahab fasts and pouts some more. God takes pity on Ahab and decides to punish his heir instead of him.
Remember Jehoshaphat? The last king of Judah that we read about? He and Ahab decide to quit trying to kill each other, come together and go kill someone else instead. The two kings consult a bunch of prophets, who all tell the kings that they will be successful in battle. But one prophet says that Ahab will die; God made the other prophets lie, because He really wants Ahab dead. You would think God could do that on His own, but…? Ahab ignores the naysayer and goes into battle anyway. He dies, of course. Like a little shit too. He made Jehoshaphat wear royal robes, while he wore regular garments, knowing that the other king really wanted him dead and would be looking for those robes. At first, Ahab’s plan worked, but the foreign army quickly realized that Jehoshaphat was not whom they were after. Ahab was killed by some random dude’s arrow. And dogs licked up his blood. So, I guess God’s threats weren’t completely idle, just slow in coming. Ahaziah succeeded Ahab as king.
Jehoshaphat, as you might remember, was a good king, walking in the ways of the Lord. He did not, however, completely rid Judah of altars to foreign gods. He was (for an Israeli king) mostly peaceful. He built some ships, but they all sank before they got anywhere. Then he died, and his son Jehoram took the throne. What all did he do? Only those damn lost books could tell us.
Ahaziah, Ahab’s son and king of Israel, was Jezebel’s son. So he was evil. Really evil. We’ll come back to him, next time, in 2 Kings. Sorry this was so fucking long. I feel like a just ran a marathon. The end.