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Jeroboam (also known as Jeroboam son of Nebat, or Jeroboam I) was the first king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, headquartered in Samaria. Originally, Jeroboam managed the entire labor force of the Tribe of Joseph for King Solomon, before becoming a political threat to Solomon; made into a rival to punish Solomon's adultery. Concerning Jeroboam was a prophecy that he would one day rule ten twelfths of Israel, which came to fruition after Solomon's son, Rehoboam angered the Israelites into an open rebellion. Once Jeroboam was King he practiced evil against God and would permanently mark a pattern for all future Israelite kings.

Biography

Early Life

Jeroboam was born to a man named Nebat and his wife Zeruah. Zeruah was probably a leper, because her name called her this. He grew up in the town of Zeredah, located in the Tribe of Ephraim. At one point (likely in Jeroboam's very young years), Jeroboam's father died and his mother was widowed.[1].

Despite the death of his father, Jeroboam would be traditionally referred to as "the son of Nebat". Jeroboam was named "the people contend", which was probably given to him as he was king or a Labor Manager. It could have been given to him in infancy or growing up indicate popularity or even infamy amongst people who knew him.

Laborer of Solomon

As a young man, Jeroboam was conscripted along with thousands of other Israelites to work on Solomon's numerous and colossal construction projects; particularly on the Millo- an outer terrace to complete the walls surrounding Jerusalem. Jeroboam was a very hardworking, capable efficient laborer on the millo , so much that King Solomon noticed him. For Jeroboam's hard work and capabilities, he promoted to managing the labor force over the entire Tribe of Joseph (for he was from the half tribe of Ephraim) for Solomon's projects[2]. He was among 550 other Israelites who had the position of overseer over other laborers- in Jeroboam's case some of his relatives[3].While Jeroboam had a high position amongst Solomon's labor force, he disliked the tediousness of the work[4].

Refugee of Egypt

At one point Jeroboam left Jerusalem, maybe because he had completed a construction project and probably headed towards home (the Tribe of Ephraim). On the road, Jeroboam was met by Israel's prophet at the time- Ahijah the Shilonite who was alone with him in the wilderness. Jeroboam was given ten pieces of ripped cloth by Ahijah as a symbol of Jeroboam's future Kingship over ten of twelve tribes of Israel; not including Judah and Benjamin. Ahijah also promised Jeroboam a prosperous kingdom if he obeyed God.[5] Sometime before Solomon's death another prophet named Iddo also had some visions about Jeroboam, the nature of which are unknown[6]. The prophecies concerning Jeroboam may have become widely known in the nation during this time[7].

Then Jeroboam begun a rebellion against Solomon[8] and the King may have learned of the prophecy Jeroboam's life was in imminent danger and so he fled to Egypt as a refugee, which was under the rulership of King Shishak[9]. Jeroboam remained in Egypt (potentially for several years or longer) until he heard of Solomon's death. He learned this when heard the news that Solomon's son, Rehoboam was in Shechem for his upcoming coronation. [10]

Gaining His Throne

Jeroboam traveled to Shechem to join the crowd present for the coronation of Rehoboam. During the coronation Jeroboam spoke out along with the crowd against the difficult labor of Solomon[4]. His pleas were not distinctive, as the majority of people did not know Jeroboam was in Israel[7]. Rehoboam asked the people three days to consider lightening the amount of work for the Israelites. After the three days, Jeroboam and all the people congregated before Rehoboam. To their dismay, Rehoboam decided to increase the workload, driving the Israelites into angry rebellion for some time. Eventually news became widespread that Jeroboam had returned from his exile in Egypt. Eager to remove their vile king, the Israelites illegally instated Jeroboam as their king[7].

As soon as Rehoboam learned that Israel had betrayed him he mustered his army of the loyal Judahites to attack Jeroboam, However, Shemaiah, a prophet of God told Rehoboam that Jeroboam's rise to King was God's will, so the attack was called off.[11]

The Calf Cult

A New Religion

One of the first acts of the new King of Israel to was to build up the village of Shechem. Shechem was located in Ephraim, Jeroboam's home tribe and he decided to live there.

Legacy

Verses

  1. 1 Kings 11:26 (Link)
  2. 1 Kings 11:27-28 (Link)
  3. 1 Kings 9:15, 23 (Link)
  4. 4.0 4.1 1 Kings 12:3-4, 2 Chr 10:3-4
  5. 1 Kings 11:29-39 (Link)
  6. 2 Chr 9:29 (Link)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 1 Kings 12:20
  8. 1 Kings 11:27 (Link)
  9. 1 Kings 11:40 (Link)
  10. 1 Kings 12:2, 2 Chr 10:2 (Link)
  11. 1 Kings 12:21-24 Chr 11:1-4 (Link)

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