Solomon was the son of David and Bathsheba. He became king towards the end of his father David’s life. He started out well and God provided him with renowned wisdom, as well as riches and honour. Many of the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon are attributed to Solomon and he built a magnificent temple for God. However, as time went on, his weakness for women was his downfall as his many wives took his heart away from God.
His son Rehoboam had a very bad start to his reign. The people revolted because of heavy taxes and the kingdom was split. A man named Jeroboam became king of ten tribes which became known as Israel and Rehoboam was left with the remaining which became known as Judah. However, Jeroboam, fearing that the people would switch loyalties if they went to Jerusalem in Judah to worship at the Temple, built an idol and established idol worship in Israel.
Not one of the kings of Israel were in any way faithful to God. Idol worship in Israel was rampant and although there were prophets for example, Elijah and Elisha sent by God to try to bring the people back to Him, they mostly refused to listen. One time Elijah took the people to Mount Carmel. He had two altars built one for Baal and one for the God of Israel. The many prophets of Baal, ran around the altar, cutting themselves and crying for Baal to hear them and send fire down to burn up their offering. Elijah had the altar for God soaked with water, but after praying to God, fire came down and not only burned up the offering, but burned up all the water and the stones as well. The people were impressed for a little while but sadly it didn’t last.
There were some good kings in Judah, who led the people back to God, mixed up with several bad ones, who led the people back to idol worship. God sent prophets to Judah too such as Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. One of Judah’s good kings, became king at age eight and led the kingdom in a huge revolution to rid it of idol worship. By the time he was 18, he had refurbished the Temple and restored worship there. He led the people in a huge celebration of Passover.
Israel gradually declined and eventually fell to the Assyrians. The Assyrians removed the people from the land and replaced them with people from other conquered areas.
Judah lasted a little longer. But was finally conquered by Babylon and many of the people were taken captive to Babylon, such as Daniel. During their captivity, many of the people began to appreciate their heritage and kept it alive. Daniel was a young person taken to Babylon and chosen to learn the language and learning of the Chaldeans. However, throughout his life he remained faithful to the God of his people and was even thrown into a den of lions for praying to his God instead of the King although God closed the lions mouth and he was taken up unharmed.
Seventy years later, the people of Judah were allowed to return to their land and rebuild Jerusalem and their Temple. From this point on, they were no longer idol worshippers, but for the most part took pride in their ethnicity and religion.
You can read about the kings of Israel and Judah in 1 and 2 Kings.
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