Israel’s kings – a summary

By Bridges for Peace Staff
Courtesy of Bridges for Peace

United Monarchy

Saul "Asked" (pre-1004 BCE)
A handsome and humble Benjamite whom the prophet Samuel anointed as Israel's first king. Saul came into his own when he rallied the nation to defend Jabesh. He united the tribes for the first time since Joshua and scored impressive victories over the Philistines and other enemies pressing on Israel's borders. Early achievements were overshadowed by his personal torment and demonic insanity, his clashes with Samuel and his love/hate relationship with David.

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By Bridges for Peace Staff
Courtesy of Bridges for Peace

United Monarchy

Saul “Asked” (pre-1004 BCE)
A handsome and humble Benjamite whom the prophet Samuel anointed as Israel’s first king. Saul came into his own when he rallied the nation to defend Jabesh. He united the tribes for the first time since Joshua and scored impressive victories over the Philistines and other enemies pressing on Israel’s borders. Early achievements were overshadowed by his personal torment and demonic insanity, his clashes with Samuel and his love/hate relationship with David. After a reign of twenty years, he killed himself after being wounded in the battle of Gilboa (1 Samuel 9-31; 2 Samuel; 1 Chronicles 5:10; 8:33; 9:39; 10; 15:29; 26:28).

David “Beloved” (1004-965 BCE)
Anointed king by Samuel when he was a young shepherd boy, David came to the throne at age thirty, after years of running from Saul. A charismatic and brilliant leader, he made Israel a major power. He conquered Jerusalem and made it the national capital, secured territory between Dan and the Brook of Egypt that included the major trade routes, strengthened his borders with treaties and vassal states, and gave Israel an army. His later years were saddened by an attempted coup by his son Absalom, famine, pestilence and other problems. Before he died he made Solomon, his son by Bathsheba, his successor (1 Samuel 16-31; 1 Kings 1-2).

Solomon “His Peace” (965-928 BCE)
Famed for his wisdom, Solomon built on the foundations laid by David, organizing the kingdom for tax and administrative purposes, developing commerce and shipping, launching a lavish building program to embellish the kingdom, and establishing an extravagant court life. Although his subjects were proud of him, his splendid court and building projects drained much of the new wealth, and he fell under foreign influence through his many wives and their gods. Toward the end of his reign, there was discontent over taxation and forced labor, as well as unrest at the borders of the kingdom, and the united kingdom failed to survive after his death (1 Kings 2-11).

Kings of Judah (928-586 BCE)

Rehoboam “Enlarger of the People” (928-911 BCE)
Son of Solomon, Rehoboam was unable to hold his father’s kingdom together and ruled only in Judah. He wasted Judah in wars with Israel. When Pharaoh Shishek I invaded, Rehoboam lost his Red Sea outlet and had to pay heavy tribute to save Jerusalem. He built fifteen border fortifications, leaving only the north open in hopes of reconciliation with Israel. As did his father Solomon, he became snared in idolatry through his many foreign wives (1 Kings 11-12; 2 Chronicles 9-13).

Abijam “Father of the Sea” (911-908 BCE)
Attempted to conquer Israel but advanced only a few miles to Bethel (1 Kings 14:31; 15:1-8; 2 Chronicles 11:20, 22; 12:16; 13).

Asa “Physician” (908-867 BCE)
Israel tried to invade Judah, and Asa asked help of Ben-Hadad of Aram-Damascus, who attacked Israel. As soon as Israel withdrew, Asa fortified the border between them. Later he repelled an invasion by Zerah the Ethiopian. Asa was a religious reformer who tried to stamp out idolatry, but was accused of relying too heavily on doctors instead of on God for curing his own ills (1 Kings 15, 16; 2 Chronicles 14-17; Jeremiah 41:9).

Jehoshaphat “God is Judge” (867-846 BCE)
Toured the kingdom to institute religious and judicial reform, strengthened fortifications and army, revived commerce. Renewed friendship with Israel by marrying his son to their royal family and by joining in common wars. Defeated Moab by sending the choir in front of the army. Alliance with Israel brought God’s judgment (1 Kings 15:24; 22; 2 Kings 1:177; 3; 8; 12:18; 2 Chronicles 17:21).

Jehoram “God is High” (846-843 BCE)
Jeshoshaphat bequeathed shares of his wealth to seven sons, but gave the kingdom to Jehoram, the first-born. Jehoram killed his six brothers to make his rule secure. Fell into idolatry after marrying daughter of Ahab and Jezebel of Israel to seal relationship between the two nations. Lost Edom. His family, except for his youngest son, Ahaziah, was wiped out in a Philistine invasion that reached Jerusalem. Prophet Elijah wrote to him of God’s displeasure with his actions. The Bible says he died of bowel disease. Since he was not mourned or buried in royal tombs, he may have been murdered, poisoned perhaps (2 Kings 1:17; 8, 12; 2 Chronicles 21-22).

Ahaziah “God Holds, Possesses” (843 BCE)
Trying to aid Israel’s war with Aram-Damascus, listened to evil counsel of his wicked mother, Athaliah. Ahaziah was caught in Jehu’s coup and was killed as part of Jehu’s program to wipe out Jezebel’s descendents (2 Kings 8; 11:1-2; 12:18; 2 Chronicles 22).

Athaliah “God has Constrained” (842-836 BCE)
Daughter of Jezebel, she was the only queen either kingdom ever had. Promoted worship of Baal. She seized power after her son Ahaziah’s death by massacring heirs to the throne – only Ahaziah’s infant son, Joash, escaped when he was hidden in the Temple by the priest Jehoiada. When he was seven, Joash was crowned king in the Temple under armed guard. Athaliah, hearing the singing and trumpeting, dashed in, yelling, “Treason, treason.” She was dragged from the Temple and killed (2 Kings 8:26; 11:1-20; 2 Chronicles 22-23).

Joash “God-Fired” (836-798 BCE)
Although he had been saved and enthroned by Jehoiada, the priest, and restored the Temple, Joash allowed idol worship after death of Jehoiada. Ultimately came under God’s judgment for murder of Zechariah, son of the priest. Joash lost the Temple treasures when King Hazael of Aram-Damascus threatened Jerusalem. He was killed by own officers (2 Kings 11-13; 2 Chronicles 22:11, 24).

Amaziah “God has Courage” (798-769 BCE)
Amaziah, age 25, took a census to conscript an army. In a successful war against Edomites he recovered trade routes to the Gulf of Aqaba. Then he erred by challenging Israel. He was defeated by King Joash of Israel, who destroyed part of Jerusalem’s walls and took hostages and spoils. Amaziah turned from following the Lord and his people killed him at the fortress of Lachish (2 Kings 12 – 15; 2 Chronicles 24:27; 25; 26:1).

Uzziah “God is Strong” (769-758 BCE)
Taking the throne at sixteen, Uzziah made Judah more prosperous than it had been since Solomon. He repaired relations with Israel and reorganized Judah’s army to reconquer all lost territory. Uzziah recovered Edom and repaired the port of Ezion-geber, annexed Philistine cities on the coast, and built fortifications along highways and borders. Jerusalem was refortified and became a busy commercial center. But after Uzziah developed leprosy he lived in seclusion in the palace, having his son Jotham execute his orders. Because of his leprosy, he was not buried in the royal tomb (2 Kings 14:21-22; 15:1-8; 2 Chronicles 26; Amos 1:1).

Jotham “God is Perfect” (758-733 BCE)
Well trained by his father, Jotham maintained Judah’s prosperity and military advantage. The Bible says he did right in the sight of the Lord but the people continued acting corruptly. (2 Kings 15:5, 7, 30-38; 2 Chronicles 26:21-23; 27).

Ahaz “He Holds” (733-727 BCE)
A weak king who inherited the throne at age 20. Ahaz indulged in pagan cults that involved child sacrifice and burned his son as an offering. He was unable to control Edom or the Philistine coast, both of which broke away. When he was invaded by a coalition of Israel and Aram-damascus, appealed to Tiglat-pileser, saying “I am thy servant.” The Assyrians obliged by crushing Damascus and most of Israel, but in return Ahaz had to pay Tiglat-pileser heavy tribute. He too was denied burial in the royal tombs (2 Kings 15:38; 16:1-20; 23:12; 2 Chronicles 27:9; 28:1-27; 29:19; Isaiah 7:1-12, 14-28).

Hezekiah “God is Strength” (727-698 BCE)
Judah was no more than an Assyrian vassal when able Hezekiah came to the throne at age 25. As Assyrian power was declining, he risked restoring Israelite worship in Jerusalem and inviting the people of Israel to participate, acts that gave him strong backing from the prophet Isaiah. Knowing war was inevitable, Hezekiah produced large numbers of weapons, constructed storehouses for staples, and improved the capacity of Jerusalem’s water supply to withstand siege. Against Isaiah’s advice, he joined an anti-Assyrian coalition that resulted in the destruction of Lachish and heavy tribute being imposed on Jerusalem. Despite a siege, Jerusalem was spared (2 Kings 16:20; 18-20; 2 Chronicles 28:27-32; Isaiah 36-39; Jeremiah 26:18-19).

Manasseh “Causing Forgetfulness” (698-642 BCE)
Made king at age 12, he is noted for the restoration of pagan cults, continued tribute to Assyria and generally being one of Judah’s worst kings. However, later in life he called on God in distress, repented and ordered the people to worship God. Rebuilt the wall of City of David. (2 Kings 20-21; 2 Chronicles 32:33; 33; Jeremiah 15:4).

Amon “Skilled” (641-640 BCE)
Continued idolatrous practices. Was assassinated by his own officers (2 Kings 21:18-26; 2 Chronicles 33:20-25).

Josiah “Founded of God” (639-609 BCE)
Became king at age 8, instituted religious reform after finding book of the law. Listened to prophetess Huldah. Celebrated Passover. Killed in battle when he foolishly tried to prevent Egyptian army from crossing his land to get to Assyria. (2 Kings 21:24-26; 22-23; 2 Chronicles 33:25-35).

Jehoahaz “God Seized” (609 BCE)
Tried to be king after his father’s death, but Pharaoh Necho II sent him in chains to Egypt, where he died (2 Kings 23:30-40; 2 Chronicles 36:1-4).

Jehoiakim “God will Raise” (608-598 BCE)
His name was Eliakim, but it was changed by Pharaoh Necho, who appointed him puppet ruler of Judah. Jeremiah said he deserved the burial of an ass because he built himself a palace when his people were heavily taxed to pay Egyptian tribute. In 605 BCE, Babylonia won Judah from Egypt. After three years of their rule, Jehoiakim rebelled and then promptly died, leaving his son to cope with Babylonian revenge (2 Kings 23:34-37; 24:1-6; 2 Chronicle 36:4-8; Jeremiah 22:18-24; 26:21-23; 36; 46:2; Dan. 1:1-2).

Jehoichin “God will Establish” (597 BCE)
Came to throne just as Nebuchadnezzer arrived at Jerusalem, after a three-month siege was taken captive to Babylon. Judah kept hoping for his return. After 37 years in prison, he was freed, but never returned to Jerusalem (2 Kings 24:6-17; 25:27-30; 2 Chronicles 36:8-9; Est. 2:6; Jeremiah 24:1; 52:31-34).

Zedekiah “God is Righteous” (597-586 BCE)
Appointed to throne by Nebuchadnezzar, who changed his name from Mattaniah, Zedekiah ruled under a handicap: his subjects considered Jehoiachin their king. Moreover, the land was desolate, and most skilled laborers had been deported to Babylon. Nevertheless, he rebuilt Jerusalem’s defenses and saved the city from the Edomites. He then conspired against Babylon so that Nebuchadnezzar laid siege and destroyed Jerusalem. Zedekiah was taken in chains to Nebuchadnezzar, who forced him to watch the execution of his sons and then blinded him and sent him in chains to Babylon, where he died. (2 Kings 24; 2 Chronicles 36:11-20; 34:37-39; 52; Ezekiel 17:15-20).

Kings of Israel (928-723 BCE)

Jeroboam “The People will Contend” (928-907 BCE)
Son of Nebat of Ephraim who served Solomon, Jeroboam was promised rule of ten tribes by prophet Ahijah as God’s judgment on Solomon for idolatry. After an unsuccessful plot to overthrow Solomon, he had taken asylum with Pharaoh Shishek I. He returned to rule Israel on Solomon’s death, built a new capital at Tirzah, and was condemned for setting up gold calves at new structures in Bethel and Dan to keep his people from worshipping in Jerusalem. He reigned only four years before Pharaoh Shishek overran Israel. Border wars with Judah began (1 Kings 11:26-40; 12-15; 2 Kings 3:3; 9:9; 10:29; 13:2; 14:24; 17:21; 23:15; 2 Chronicles 10; 13:1-10).

Nadab “Liberal, Willing” (907-906 BCE)
Continued battles with Judah over borders and idolatrous practices of his father. While he was warring with Philistines, Baasha killed him and seized the throne. (1 Kings 15-16; 21:22; 2 Kings 9:9; Jeremiah 41:9).

Baasha “Offensiveness” (906-883 BCE)
Unsuccessfully invaded Judah and was, in turn, invaded by Damascus. Lost much of Galilee and continued idolatry. (1 Kings 15-16; 21:22; 2 Kings 9:9; Jeremiah 41;9).

Elah “Oak” (883-882 BCE)
Ruled only until he was murdered by Zimri, one of his officers, while “drinking himself drunk.” (1 Kings 16:8-10).

Zimri “Musical” (882 BCE)
Ruled seven days. The army, angered by his treason, proclaimed Omri king and surrounded the capital. Zimri set fire to the palace and let it collapse on him. (1 Kings 16:9-20).

Omri “Heaping” (882-871 BCE)
From a human viewpoint, Omri was an effective king. He made peace with Judah and won back Moab and other lost territories. To cement ties with Tyre, he married his son Ahab to Jezebel, daughter of the king of Tyre. She introduced Baal worship to Israel. Because of this Omri was denounced by the prophets. However he brought peace and prosperity to the northern kingdom and established a strategically located new capital, Samaria, to guard the Via Maris and to rival Jerusalem. Omri died after only 12 years on the throne but he so impressed contemporary leaders that Israel was afterward known as the Land of Omri. (1 Kings 16:21).

Ahab “Father’s brother” (871-852 BCE)
Continued his father’s policies, politically effective, spiritually decadent. Completed construction in Samaria, rebuilt Jericho. Jezebel’s promotion of Phoenician cults brought the wrath of the prophet Elijah upon him. Ben-Hadad of Aram-Damascus launched two attacks that Ahab repelled, but Ahab was criticized for sparing Ben-Hadad’s life. Meanwhile, Moab revolted. Ahab was killed in final battle against Ben-Hadad. (1 Kings 16-22; 2 Chronicles 18).

Ahaziah “God Holds, Possesses” (852-851 BCE)
Son of Ahab and Jezebel. His first act as king was to injure himself falling from a second story. He lived only long enough to fail twice: he tried to kill Elijah, who had predicted his death; and he tried to start a navy, which apparently sank (1 Kings 22:51; 2 Kings 1; 2 Chronicles 20:35-37).

Jehoram “God is High” (851-842 BCE)
Also a son of Ahab and Jezebel. Made an abortive attempt to recover Moab. Samaria was besieged by Arameans but survived. In a new Aramean battle he was wounded, and while he recuperated turned the army over to his general, Jehu. Elisha commanded a revolt against Jehoram, anointing Jehu as king and urging him to kill the descendants of Jezebel, including Jehoram (2 Kings 3; 8:28-29; 9; 2 Chr. 22:5-7).

Jehu “God is He” (842-814 BCE)
Founder of the longest-lived dynasty in Israel. Son of Jehoshaphat. Killed the house of Ahab, including the wicked Jezebel, but allowed worship of God to be linked with Baal worship. Ignored crumbling economy and foreign alliances. Lost territory east of Jordan to Damascus. Black Obelisk depicts his submission to Shalmaneser III of Assyria (1 Kings 19:16-17; 2 Kings 9-10; 15:12; 2 Chr. 22:7-9; 25:17; Hos. 1:4).

Jehoahaz “God Seized” (814-800 BCE)
His spiritual and political behavior caused the Northern Kingdom to lose even more territory. Syrians under Hazael and Ben-Hadad took heavy toll. Near the end of his life, Jehoahaz prayed for help (2 Kings 10:35; 13:1-10; 22-25; 14;1,8; 2 Chronicles 25:17, 25).

Jehoash “God-Fired” (800-784 BCE)
His father’s prayer answered as war with Syria turned in Israel’s favor. Recovered territory lost by his father. Attacked by Amaziah of Judah, so Jehoash punished Jerusalem by breaching the walls and taking captives and treasures (2 Kings 13:9-25; 14:1-27; 2 Chronicles 25:17-25).

Jeroboam II “The People will Contend” (784-748 BCE)
A strong ruler, made peace with Judah and recovered territory. (cf. Jonah’s prophecy: 2 Kings 14:25). Freedom from foreign attack brought prosperity, also extremes of wealth and poverty, empty religious ritual and false security, condemned by the prophet Amos (2 Kings 13:13; 14:16-29; 15:1-8; Amos 1:1; 7:9-11).

Zechariah “God is Remembered” (748-747 BCE)
Reigned six months before being assassinated by Shallum (2 Kings 14:29; 15:8-9).

Shallum “Retribution” (748-747 BCE)
Leader of conspiracy that overthrew dynasty of Jehu, fulfilling prophecy of 2 Kings 10:30. Reigned a month, murdered by Menahem (2 Kings 15:10-15).

Menahem “Comforter” (747/6 – 737/6)
Military governor of Tirzah, old capital of Israel. Proclaimed king after killing Shallum, he suppressed rebellion with great cruelty. Became more unpopular by imposing heavy taxation to pay tribute to Tiglat-pileser to keep Assyrian forces out. Last king to be succeeded by his son (2 Kings 15:14-22).

Pekahiah “God Watches” (737/6 – 735/4)
Continued collecting tribute for Assyria until murdered by one of his army officers in second year of his reign (2 Kings 15:22-26).

Pekah “Watchfulness” (735/4 – 733/2)
Seized throne after murdering Pekahiah at Samaria. Allied with Rezin of Syria, tried to get Judah to join coalition against Assyria. Isaiah advised Uzziah against this course. When Judah refused, Pekah attacked Judah and carried off captives. Judah called on Assyria for aid, and Tiglat-pileser responded by conquering all of Israel and deporting much of its population to Assyria leaving Pekah only the hill country of Samaria. Pekah was murdered by Hoshea. (2 Kings 15:25-32, 37; 16:1-5; 2 Chronicles 28:6; Isaiah 7:1).

Hoshea “Deliverer” (733/2 – 724/3)
Puppet king who collected tribute for Assyria until Tiglat-pileser died. Then he tried to rebel, expecting support from Egypt. This brought Shalmaneser V of Assyria down to capture Samaria and deport its population, ending the kingdom of Israel. (2 Kings 15:30; 17:1-6; 18:1, 9-10).

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The PLO was instituted in 1964 three years before the six day war in June 1967 when Israel, in a war of self-defense, recovered the so-called “West Bank”, now seen and proclaimed by nearly everybody as the quintessence crux of the Middle East problem.
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The New Testament Basis for the Restoration of Israel

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Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.