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The History of Jerusalem (part 2)

Introduction

Before the Israelites entered the land of Canaan, God warned them through Moses, "If you keep my laws I will give you life and prosperity, but if you forsake me I will also forsake you and bring calamity upon you" and you will not live long in the promised land. [1] After the reign of Solomon, Israel was divided into two kingdoms: the ten northern tribes as the kingdom of Israel, and the rest of the tribes as the kingdom of Judah with Jerusalem as capital. The fortunes of Jerusalem now depended largely on the succeeding kings and the way they led the nation.

King Solomon's legacy

Despite the fact that God had commanded the Israelites not to intermarry with the nations around them, Solomon married 700 foreign women of royal birth, built 'high places' for their gods and started following after these gods himself. As a result, God warned Solomon that He would tear most of the kingdom away from him, but for the sake of David his father, He would not do it during Solomon's lifetime, but when his son succeeded him. [2] God also prepared a king for the northern kingdom by sending Ahijah, the prophet of Shiloh, to Jeroboam. He was a trusted servant of Solomon and in charge of the labour force building the wall of Jerusalem. Ahijah told him that God would make him king of Israel, ruling over 10 tribes. [3]

Jerusalem under the kings of Judah

1. Rehoboam, son of Solomon, reigned for 17 years. He followed foolish advice so that Israel rebelled against him and appointed Jeroboam as their king. Rehoboam mustered the armies of Judah and Benjamin against Israel to regain the kingdom, but God told him through the prophet Shemaiah, "Do not go up to fight against your brothers.... for this is my doing." [4] He was obedient to the Lord for 3 years, but then started to do evil and to lead the whole house of Judah into worshipping other gods. In his 5th year the king of Egypt invaded Judah and ransacked Jerusalem. [5]

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2. Abijah, son of Rehoboam, reigned for 3 years. He was wicked like his father had been. However when Jeroboam, king of Israel, attacked him, he "relied upon the Lord" and achieved a great victory. [6]

3. Asa, son of Abijah, reigned for 41 years. He was a good king, serving the Lord wholeheartedly, and he instituted many reforms. When the Cushites attacked him, he relied on God who delivered him and granted him peace. However, when Israel threatened him in his 36th year, he forgot about God and made a treaty with Ben-Hadad, king of Aram. As a result, he had war until he died. [7]

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4. Jehoshaphat, son of Asa, reigned for 25 years. He sought the Lord in all things, and sent the priests and Levites throughout the land teaching the people the law of God. He also appointed impartial judges in all the major cities. He had a vast army and peace all round.. Unfortunately, he allied himself by marriage with Ahab, king of Israel. As Ahab was the most evil king Israel had ever had, [8] this had tragic consequences for his descendants. [9]

5. Jehoram, son of Jehoshaphat, reigned for 8 years. As soon as he was established as king, he murdered his brothers. He was married to Athaliah, daughter of king Ahab of Israel, and promoted Baal worship in Judah. He had constant war with the surrounding nations, and Jerusalem was ransacked by the Arabians and Philistines. He died of a vile disease. [10]

6. Ahaziah, son of Jehoram, reigned for 1 year. He followed the counsel of his evil mother. He was killed by an Israelite. [11]

7. Athaliah, mother of Ahaziah, reigned for 6 years. Her first act was to seek to destroy the whole royal family of Judah. Ahaziah's sister rescued his youngest son, still a baby, and hid him in the temple for 6 years. Her husband was the high priest, Jehoiada. [12]

8. Joash, son of Ahaziah, reigned for 40 years. When he was 7 years old his uncle, Jehoiada, called all Judah together and crowned him king. Athaliah was killed and the temple of Baal torn down. Then Jehoiada made a covenant with the people of Judah and they rededicated themselves to be the servants of the Lord. Led by Jehoiada, Joash restored the temple which Athaliah had broken down, and reinstituted the worship of God. After the death of Jehoiada, Joash was led astray by the officials of Judah and he allowed idol worship. He even had Zecheriah, the son of Jehoiada, stoned to death. Within a year the Arameans of Damascus invaded Judah and plundered Jerusalem. His own officials killed him. [13]

9. Amaziah, son of Joash, reigned for 29 years. He half-heartedly followed the Lord. He was victorious against the Edomites, but brought their idols home and set them up as his own gods. The Lord then sent the Israelites to punish him. They broke down the wall of Jerusalem and ransacked the temple. His own officials conspired against him and killed him. [14]

10. Uzziah, son of Amaziah, reigned for 52 years. He did right in God’s sight. As long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success in everything. He built up a powerful army and equipped it with the most modern weapons. He was victorious over the Philistines, Arabs and the Meunites. The Ammonites paid him tribute and his fame spread. He built towers in Jerusalem at the Corner Gate, the Valley Gate and at the angle of the wall. He promoted agriculture for he loved the soil. “But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall.” He entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense, something which only the priests were allowed to do. God struck him with leprosy, which he had until he died. [15]

11. Jotham, son of Uzziah, reigned for 16 years. “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord” and became very prosperous. He rebuilt the Upper Gate of the temple and did extensive work on the wall at the hill of Ophel. He also subdued the Ammonites. [16]

12. Ahaz, son of Jothan, reigned for 16 years. He re-instituted idol worship, therefore God handed him over to the kings of Aram and Israel. When the Edomites and Philistines also attacked him, he appealed to the king of Assyria for help. This only resulted in more trouble and he ended up having to pay a yearly tribute. [17]

13. Hezekia, son of Ahaz, reigned for 29 years. When he was crowned king, he immediately assembled the priests and Levites and ordered them to purify the temple of the Lord. He restored temple worship and ritual and rooted out idolatry. “He kept the commands the Lord had given Moses” and “he was successful in whatever he undertook.” He defeated the Philistines and rebelled against the king of Assyria. In his 6th year the northern kingdom of Israel was conquered by the king of Assyria and the inhabitants deported because they had violated God’s covenant. The Hezekiah decided to celebrate the Passover, and invited the remnant of Israel to come to Jerusalem for the feast, and to rededicate themselves to the Lord. In his 14th year, the king of Assyria invaded Judah and sent insulting letters to Hezekiah, demanding his surrender. The prophet Isaiah, however, reassured him and foretold that the king of Assyria would return to his own land without attacking Jerusalem. Hezekiah also fortified the wall of the city and built an underground water tunnel from the Gihon spring to the pool of Siloam, within the wall. [18]

14. Manasseh, son of Hezekiah, reigned for 55 years. He was the most wicked of all Judah’s kings, “following the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites.” He even built altars to his idols in the temple of the Lord. Because of Manasseh’s sin, God vowed to forsake His people and hand them over to their enemies. [19]

15. Amon, son of Manasseh, reigned for 2 years. He was as evil as his father had been, and his officials killed him in his palace. [20]

16. Josiah, son of Amon, reigned for 31 years. He was 8 years old when he became king, and started seeking the God of his father David when he was 16. Four years later he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of all the idol places of worship. When he was 26 years old, he turned his attention to repairing the temple of the Lord. While the high priest, Hilkiah, was in the sanctuary, he found the Book of the Law of God. He sent it to Josiah who realized that God’s anger had been aroused against Israel and Judah, because they had not kept the Law of the Lord. God assured him that his eyes would be spared the disaster that He was about to bring upon Jerusalem. Josiah then called all the people of Judah to the temple and read to them the whole Book of the Law. They rededicated themselves to the Lord and celebrated the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. [21]

17. Jehoahaz, son of Josiah, reigned for 3 months. The king of Egypt carried him off to his country, and appointed his brother as king. [22]

18. Jehoiakim, brother of Jehoahaz, reigned for 11 years. He continued idol worship and was subdued by the king of Babylon. When he rebelled he was bound in chains and carried off. [23]

19. Jehoiachin, son of Jehoiakim, reigned for 3 months before he too was taken to Babylon, along with the treasures of the temple. [24]

20. Zedekiah, uncle of Jehoiachin, reigned for 11 years. He also practised idol worship and refused to listen to Jeremiah the prophet. He rebelled against the king of Babylon, who fetched him in chains and destroyed Jerusalem. This was the apparent end of David’s kingdom. [25]

The fall of Jerusalem

The prophets Ezekiel and Jeremiah repeatedly warned the people of Jerusalem to return to the Lord, but they refused to listen. God sent His messengers to them because He had pity on His people and on His dwelling place, “but they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against his people and there was no remedy.” [26] Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came in 586 B.C. and put the people to the sword, sparing no one. He took all the articles from the temple of the Lord and set it on fire. He also burnt all the palaces and broke down the wall of Jerusalem. [27] He carried into exile to Babylon the remnant of the people and they became servants to him and his sons for 70 years, as had been prophesied by Jeremiah, “When 70 years are completed for Babylon” I “will bring you back from captivity.” [28]

References:

1. Deuteronomy 30:15-20

2. 1 Kings 11:1-13

3. 1 Kings 11:26-40

4. 2 Chronicles 11:1-4

5. 2 Chron 10-12; 1Kings 12-14

6. 2 Chron 13; 1 Kings 15:1-8

7. 2 Chron 14-16; 1 Kings 15:9-24

8. 1 Kings 16:29-33

9. 2 Chron 17-20; 1 Kings 22:41-50

10. 2 Chron 21; 2 Kings 8:16-24

11. 2 Chron 22:1-9; 2 Kings 8:25-29

12. 2 Chron 22:10-12; 2 Kings 11

13. 2 Chron 23-24; 2 Kings 12

14. 2 Chron 25; 2 Kings 14:1-22

15. 2 Chron 26; 2 Kings 15:1-7

16. 2 Chron 27; 2 Kings 15:32-38

17. 2 Chron 28; 2 Kings 16

18. 2 Chron 29-32; 2 Kings 18-20; Isaiah 36-39

19. 2 Chron 33:1-20; 2 Kings 21:1-18

20. 2 Chron 33:21-25; 2 Kings 21:19-25

21. 2 Chron 34-35; 2 Kings 22-23

22. 2 Chron 36:1-4; 2 Kings 23:30-34

23. 2 Chron 36:5-8; 2 Kings 23:34-24:7

24. 2 Chron 36:8-10; 2 Kings 24:6-17

25. 2 Chron 36:11-14; 2 Kings 24-25

26. 2 Chron 36:16

27. 2 Chron 36:15-28; 2 Kings 25

28. Jeremiah 29:10-14

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. Douglas, J.D. (ed) New Bible Dictionary, Leichester, England:

Inter-Varsity Press, 1962.

2. Halley, H. H. Halley’s Bible Handbook Michigan, U.S.A.:

Regency Reference Library, 1965.

3. Thompson, F.C. The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible (N.I.V.),

Michigan, U.S.A.: Zondervan Bible Publishers, 1983.

4. Unger, M.C. and Larsen, G.N. The Hodder Bible Handbook, London,

England: Hodder and Stoughton, 1984

All Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, International Bible Society, 1973, 1978

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Posted in: Bible by on May 16, 2010 @ 2:41 am

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