Melachim I Fifteen: So Many Kings

“And in the eighteenth year of King Jeroboam, the son of Nabat, Abijam ruled over Judah (Kings I 15:1).” The timelines of two kings reigning at the same time is confusing, but this part indicates to me that at the time when Jeroboam had been ruling for eighteen years, Rehoboam died and Abijam replaced him. He rules in Jerusalem for three years, and for some reason we are given his mother’s name. This is a rarity in Tanakh, when maternal lineages are only given for very specific reasons. His mother’s name is Maachah, which was also the name of one of David’s wives, but it’s not indicated if one is meant to allude to or mirror the other. Regardless, Rehoboam’s heir inherits the sins of his father, and is not fully faithful to God. Just as there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam, there was war between Abijam and Jeroboam.

Our account of this reign is brief. “And Abijam slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David, and Asa his son reigned in his stead (Kings I 15:8).” We are again given the timeline of the kings of Judah in relation to Jeroboam, who is still king of Israel. Asa rules for 41 years. His mother is somehow also Maachah. Does this mean this is his maternal genealogy, and this is alluding to which of David’s lines he came from? I’m sure the commentators have a field day with this. I decided to look it up, and it looks like she was Absalom’s daughter, who then married Rehoboam and was the mother and grandmother of his respective heirs. In this way, it looks like Absalom’s descendants did eventually inherit the throne, and it makes sense why it was important to note the mother’s name at this point.

Asa turns out to be a good king. “And he abolished the adulterers from the land, and he removed the idols that his fathers had made (Kings I 15:12).” Asa is loyal to God, and he brings treasures back to the Temple. At some point during his reign, Jeroboam dies, and Basha becomes king of Israel. The war between the two kingdoms continues. Asa takes the silver and gold from the Temple treasuries and sends it to his allies to beg for help. As his allies prepare to do battle with Basha, Basha retreats. Repeatedly throughout this chapter and the last one we hear about the book of Chronicles of the kings of Judah. This is a historical text that has been lost over time, but it seems that it includes many of the details of the battles and lives of these various kings.

Asa dies, and his son Jehoshaphat inherits the throne. Nadav, Jeroboam’s son, also reigns, but only for two years. Basha kills him, and that’s how he takes over the throne. He destroys Jeroboam’s house upon gaining the throne, and continues to war with Judah. Eventually, though, Basha sins against God too, and is punished for his own actions. All of these kings seem weak and fickle, and not at all like the impressive, beloved kings of united Israel. It’s sad to see how quickly the kingdom disintegrates, and it’s only going to get worse.

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