Brief Visual History
United Kingdom Split into Two Kingdoms in 925 B.C.
There were three kings of the United Kingdom (Saul, David and Solomon). When Solomon died, God chose to split the kingdom into two parts because of some of the idolatry that Solomon introduced to Israel through his wives. The kingdom was split in to 10 northern tribes (Israel/Ephraim) and 2 southern tribes (Judah). The Northern Kingdom was the greater part of the newly divided kingdom and they took the name, Israel, with them. In the Bible, you will see the following references to these two divided kingdoms
- North – Kingdom of Israel, House of Israel, Israel and Ephraim
- South – Kingdom of Judah, House of Judah, Judah
These two kingdoms existed alongside each other for about 200 years. They had times of peace and war between them. These two kingdoms also had times of peace and war with surrounding nations (Syria, Philistines, etc). God raised up the Assyrian empire to address the Northern Kingdom (Ephraim/Israel) and Assyria destroyed the Northern Kingdom in 722 B.C after besieging the the capital of the Northern Kingdom, Samaria, for 3.5 years.
In the ninth year (722 BC) of Hoshea (King of North/Israel), the King of Assyria (Shalmaneser V/Sargon II) captured Samaria, (Capital of North/Israel) and he carried the Israelites away to Assyria and placed them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.2 Kings 17:6
The attack on Samaria by the Northern Kingdom was not a complete surprise. The Northern Kingdom had been losing territory to Syria and Assyria progressively during its decline leading to its final demise.
The United Kingdom split in 925 BC. Within approximately 100 years, multiple prophets begin to predict the downfall of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. In the following timeline we can see an overview of the kings of the South (aka Judah). During the demise of the Northern Kingdom there were several good kings in the South including one of the most notable (Hezekiah).
It is worth noting that there were only 8 out of the 40 kings total kings (North and South) that were classified as good. David and Solomon were classified as good kings. The following picture is an overview which will be expanded upon later on to show how bad things became in the Northern Kingdom leading up to its demise.
Jeroboam II was classified as evil, but God acted graciously during his reign. Through Jonah, God made it clear that He would extend a little more grace during Jeroboam II’s reign, but not because Jeroboam was good. There is a reference in the following passage about Jonah (same Jonah who God sent to Nineveh in the book of Jonah) prophesying about Jeroboam being successful in his reign to restore the territory of Israel that had been taken. So, there was a measure of peace and security even though the Northern Kingdom was in bad place.
23 In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Jehoash king of Judah, Jeroboam (aka Jeroboam II) the son of Jehoash king of Israel began to reign in Samaria, reigning forty-one years. 24 But he did evil in the eyes of Yahweh; he did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat which he caused Israel to sin. 25 He restored the boundary of Israel from Lebo-Hamath up to the sea of the Arabah, according to the word of Yahweh, the God of Israel, which he spoke by the hand of his servant Jonah the son of Amittai the prophet, who was from Gath-Hepher. 26 For Yahweh saw that the misery of Israel was very bitter, whether bond or free, but there was no helper for Israel. 27 Yahweh did not decree to blot out the name of Israel from under the heavens, so he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Jehoash. 28 Now the remainder of the acts of Jeroboam, all that he did, his powerful deeds, how he fought, and how he restored Damascus and Hamath of Judah to Israel, are they not written on the scroll of the events of the days of the kings of Israel?2 Kings 14:23–28 (LEB)
Consider this for a moment. There had been no good kings in the Northern Kingdom for 13 kings. Yet, here with Jeroboam II God chooses to bless them and take care of them because of the hardship they are enduring. His care for them and restoring their fortunes was not an indication that they were doing well. It was a demonstration of His grace and love, but it should be understood that He is also faithful to discipline (i.e. punish) when His people stay off course too long and will not correct themselves or listen to His prophets.
Brutal and Wicked Northern Kings Near the End
After Jeroboam II, the leadership of the Northern Kingdom in its waning years was brutal and wicked. All the kings of the Northern Kingdom were classified as evil, but the last six were especially bad. There were four assassinations, much wickedness and even a period of war between the north and the south. Near the very end, Assyria began to bring the Northern Kingdom into the status of a vassal state requiring them to pay tribute (monies). During this ending phase, the Northern Kingdom resisted Assyria but this led to a 3.5 year siege of the Northern Kingdom’s capital (Samaria) which ended the Northern Kingdom permanently.
Prophets (aka God’s Witnesses) to the Northern Kingdom
During this closing window of time for the Northern Kingdom, God was faithful to send witnesses to speak specifically to the Northern Kingdom. Using the same timeline, here is a brief overview of the prophets to the Northern Kingdom. There are some prophets who spoke exclusively to the Northern Kingdom and some that spoke to both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms. As part of this whole study, we will look at the key things these prophets were speaking with a special focus on the items repeated across multiple prophets to gain a clearer perspective on God’s point of view.
- Prophets only to Northern Kingdom
- Prophets to Both Kingdoms with some speaking exclusively to the North
Even before these final prophets, God had sent Elijah and Elisha to the Northern Kingdom. We do not have books from Elijah and Elisha, but their deeds as prophets of God are recorded in the books of 1st & 2nd Kings and 1st & 2nd Chronicles.
We also have Jonah who was a prophet to Assyria (i.e. Nineveh). He was sent to Assyria before these prophets to the Northern Kingdom. Assyria ends up being the instrument God uses to judge and destroy the Northern Kingdom. We will look at what God says about Assyria and what they were as a kingdom. God uses this external enemy of Israel to punish them for their sins and wayward path away from God.
Summary of Conditions
In summary, here are some of the key conditions seen in the Northern Kingdom leading up to their destruction. Some of these items will be demonstrated throughout this study.
- Prosperity & Security still present under Jeroboam II
- Not for lack of sin
- Due to hard affliction for Israelites and God’s faithfulness, grace and patience
- After Jeroboam II, the Northern Kingdom leadership became very ugly
- Multiple assassinations, intrigues and infighting
- False religion rampant (i.e. spiritual fornication)
- False worship added from the start of the Northern Kingdom
- Ba’al and Astarte (Asherah) worship became worse over time
- Living in luxury at the expense of right relationships
- Oppressing the poor & needy
- Judicial injustices (with bribery and corruption)
- No one lacked guilt. All categories of people (commoners, religious leaders and governmental leaders) bore guilt