1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Jeroboam
JEROBOAM (Heb. yārobʽām, apparently “Am [‘the clan,’ here perhaps a divine name] contends”; LXX. ιεροβοαμ), the name of two kings in the Bible.
1. The first king of (north) Israel after the disruption (see Solomon). According to the traditions of his early life (1 Kings xi. 26 sqq. and LXX.), he was an Ephraimite who for his ability was placed over the forced levy of Ephraim and Manasseh. Having subsequently incurred Solomon’s suspicions he fled to Shishak, king of Egypt, and remained with him until Rehoboam’s accession. When the latter came to be made king at Shechem, the old religious centre (see Abimelech), hopes were entertained that a more lenient policy would be introduced. But Rehoboam refused to depart from Solomon’s despotic rule, and was tactless enough to send Adoniram, the overseer of the corvée. He was stoned to death, and Rehoboam realizing the temper of the people fled to Jerusalem and prepared for war. Jeroboam became the recognized leader of the northern tribes. Conflicts occurred (1 Kings xiv. 30), but no details are preserved except the late story of Rehoboam’s son Abijah in 2 Chron. xiii. Jeroboam’s chief achievement was the fortification of Shechem (his new capital) and of Penuel in east Jordan. To counteract the influence of Jerusalem he established golden calves at Dan and Bethel, an act which to later ages was as gross a piece of wickedness as his rebellion against the legitimate dynasty of Judah. No notice has survived of Shishak’s invasion of Israel (see Rehoboam), and after a reign of twenty-two years Jeroboam was succeeded by Nadab, whose violent death two years later brought the whole house of Jeroboam to an end.
The history of the separation of Judah and Israel in the 10th century B.C. was written from a strong religious standpoint at a date considerably later than the event itself. The visit of Ahijah to Shiloh (xi. 29–39), to announce symbolically the rending of the kingdom, replaces some account of a rebellion in which Jeroboam “lifted up his hand” (v. 27) against Solomon. To such an account, not to the incident of Ahijah and the cloak, his flight (v. 40) is the natural sequel. The story of Ahijah’s prophecy against Jeroboam (ch. xiv.) is not in the original LXX., but another version of the same narrative appears at xii. 24 (LXX.), in which there is no reference to a previous promise to Jeroboam through Ahijah, but the prophet is introduced as a new character. Further, in this version (xii. 24) the incident of the tearing of the cloak is related of Shemaiah and placed at the convention of Shechem. Shemaiah is the prophet who counselled Rehoboam to refrain from war (xii. 21–24); the injunction is opposed to xiv. 30, but appears to be intended to explain Rehoboam’s failure to overcome north Israel. (See W. R. Smith, Old Test. in Jewish Church (2nd ed.), 117 sqq.; Winckler, Alte Test. Untersuch. 12 sqq., and J. Skinner, Century Bible: Kings, pp. 443 sqq.)
2. Jeroboam, son of Joash (2) a contemporary of Azariah king of Judah. He was one of the greatest of the kings of Israel. He succeeded in breaking the power of Damascus, which had long been devastating his land, and extended his kingdom from Hamath on the Orontes to the Dead Sea. The brief summary of his achievements preserved in 2 Kings xiv. 23 sqq. may be supplemented by the original writings of Amos and Hosea. There appears to be an allusion in Amos vi. 13 to the recovery of Ashteroth-Karnaim and Lodebar in E. Jordan, and the conquest of Moab (Isa. xv. seq.) is often ascribed to this reign. After a period of prosperity, internal disturbances broke out and the northern kingdom hastened to its fall. Jeroboam was succeeded by his son Zechariah, who after six months was killed at Ibleam (so read in 2 Kings xv. 10; cp. ix. 27, murder of Ahaziah) by Shallum the son of Jabesh—i.e. possibly of Jabesh-Gilead—who a month later fell to Menahem (q.v.). (S. A. C.)
See, further, Jews §§ 7, 9 and §§ 12, 13.
- On the variant traditions in the Hebrew text and the Septuagint, see the commentaries on Kings.
- See also Jonah. In 2 Kings xiv. 28, “Hamath, which had belonged to Judah” (R.V.) is incorrect; Winckler (Keilinschrift. u. Alte Test., 2nd ed., 262) suspects a reference to Israel’s overlordship in Judah; Burney (Heb. Text of Kings) reads: “how he fought with Damascus and how he turned away the wrath of Yahweh from Israel”; see also Ency. Bib. col. 2406 n. 4, and the commentaries.