Story of the Chosen People - Helene Guerber

Seven Kings of Israel

In spite of all the warnings which he had received, Jeroboam went on in his evil ways. Another punishment, therefore, soon befell him; for he lost his favorite son, the only good member of his family, and the one upon whom rested his greatest hopes.

Then, after a reign of twenty-two years, Jeroboam himself died, leaving the kingdom of Israel to be ruled by his son Nadab.

But as this new ruler led a bad life, he was killed two years later by one of his own captains during a war with the Philistines.

To get the crown, this captain, whose name was Baasha, killed all the other members of the royal family. Thus, by a wholesale murder, he became the third king of Israel, and during his reign of twenty-four years, he followed all the evil ways of the kings who went before him.

He was reproved for his sins and idolatries by a prophet of the Lord, and was punished by a war with Judah, and one with the King of Syria, who marched into his kingdom and took several of his cities.

Baasha’s son Elah was murdered at the end of two years by Zimri, the commander of his chariots, who also killed all the other members of the royal family But Zimri himself died, a victim of the hatred of his rival, Omri, just seven days after he had come to the throne.

Omri, the sixth king of Israel, is especially noted because, during his short reign of twelve years, he built the city of Samaria, which became the capital of his kingdom. When he died, he left the throne to his son Ahab, the best known of all the kings of Israel.

In the meanwhile, Asa had reigned quietly over Judah, and, as his "heart was perfect with the Lord all his days," he was allowed to rule forty-one years. During this time Asa rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, and gathered together a large and well-trained army. As soon as he was all ready, he proudly refused to pay tribute to the Egyptians, although they had forced the people of Judah to make a yearly payment ever since they had entered Jerusalem during the reign of Rehoboam.

The armies of Judah and of Egypt met on the southern border of Palestine, where Asa, in answer to his fervent prayer, was rewarded by a great victory over his foes. When he came back to his capital in triumph, with all the spoil he had won, the people’s hearts were full of thanksgiving and joy; so God seized this favorable moment to make a solemn appeal to them through a prophet.

This holy man bade the king and people to be strong, heart and hand, in seeking God, and told them not to worship idols. They were so strongly moved by this speech that they sent away all the idols from their land, and purified their altars. Next they assembled in such large numbers for the worship of the Lord that Baasha, who was then King of Israel, was frightened, and decided to march against them before they could come and attack him.

When Asa heard that the King of Israel was coming to fight him, he quite forgot that he needed no other helper than God, and sought the alliance of the King of Syria. This he managed to get by giving him in exchange all the temple treasures. But a prophet soon came to reprove Asa for this lack of faith in God’s help. The prophet told the king that as he had sought the help of a stranger, instead of trusting the Lord, he would have war all the rest of his life.

Asa was so angry when he heard this prophecy that he had the prophet put into prison and persecuted. But he could not forget the words which this unfortunate man had spoken.

Then, too, the prophecy was soon fulfilled, and Asa’s last years were made very unhappy by constant warfare and much sickness. He died in the forty-first year of his reign, after having lived long enough to see the first seven kings of Israel.