Story of the Chosen People - Helene Guerber

The Two Kingdoms

The Chosen People were divided forever. While ten tribes formed the kingdom of Israel, and called Jeroboam their king, the other two formed the kingdom of Judah, and were faithful to Rehoboam.

The adherents of Rehoboam of course went on worshiping in the beautiful new temple which Solomon had built; but those of Jeroboam were not allowed to do so. It seems that this king feared that his subjects, in going up there to sacrifice, might again promise to obey their royal race; so he forbade their worshiping in Jerusalem at all.

To make up to them for this, Jeroboam set up golden calves at Bethel and Dan, although God had forbidden it. He bade the people adore them, and he himself offered up sacrifices and burnt offerings to them. This disobedience was soon and severely punished, as you will see a little farther on.

Although Rehoboam had lost ten tribes at the very outset, the first years of his reign were quite happy, because he tried to be good. But later on he ceased to lead a good life, and allowed his people to fall back into idolatry; and then he was punished sorely. The King of Egypt, an ally of Israel, came into the kingdom of Rehoboam with a large army, took all the strongholds of Judah, and even entered Jerusalem.

The enemy robbed the temple and the palace, and carried off the golden shields which Hiram had made for Solomonís bodyguard, and which were hung all around the kingís dwelling. Only a prompt and thorough repentance saved Rehoboam and the people from being carried off into captivity in Egypt at this time.

Besides that, the King of Judah was forced to pay a heavy tribute to the conquerors, but he soon began to repair his losses. The golden shields, among other things, were replaced by like pieces of armor in brass, which, although far less costly, shone quite as brightly as if they had been made of the more precious metal.

Unfortunately, however, neither Rehoboam nor his subjects were faithful for any length of time, and after a reign of seventeen years, this king died and was succeeded by his son Abijah. The new monarch went on waging a petty warfare against the King of Israel. He relied upon the Lord, put down idolatry, and tried to be good, and, therefore, he was rewarded by a victory, and was allowed to become master of three of Jeroboamís towns.

But the virtue of Abijah was not to last long either. He too soon fell into evil ways, and followed the bad example which his father Rehoboam had given him; so his reign was cut short, and Asa, his son, ruled in his stead. At this time the land was in a very promising state, and Asa soon became so strong that the King of Israel feared to attack him, and left him in peace for ten long years.

While Judah had been governed by three kings, Rehoboam, Abijah, and Asa, Israel had been under the sway of the same monarch, Jeroboam. This ruler had established his capital at Shechem, and had been promised that his kingdom would endure if he obeyed the law of God. But this he did not do, for he led his people into idolatry by setting up golden calves at Dan and Bethel.

A prophet came to reprove Jeroboam, and when the king bade his guards seize and put the insolent man to death, none of them dared obey him. As the guards would not lay hands upon the prophet, Jeroboam himself tried to do so; but the arm which he stretched out fell helpless and withered to his side, and an earthquake overthrew the heathen altar which he had just built.

These wonders so frightened the king that he now begged the prophet to pray that his hand might be cured. Then, when this request had been granted, and the arm was well again, Jeroboam humbly asked the Lordís messenger to come into his house and take food.

False Prophet


The prophet had been forbidden to eat or drink there, so he refused the invitation, and started for home. On the way thither, however, he was met by a false prophet, who told him that an angel had come to bid him take food. The true prophet, who was very hungry, now went to the false prophetís house; but even while he was eating and drinking there he heard the Lordís voice rebuking him for his disobedience.

He was soon punished for listening to the false prophetís lies, for on his homeward journey he was attacked by a lion, which sprang out of a thicket and killed him.