Jeroboam

The first king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel.

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Jeroboam's basic policy was to separate Israel completely from Judah. For that reason, he played down the importance of Solomon's Temple and instead revived the old sanctuaries at Beth-el, in the south of his country, and at Dan, in the north, setting up golden calves in them. He expelled the priestly Levites, who were loyal to the kingdom of Judah, and recruited in their stead priests from the common people, whom he personally appointed and ordained.

There was constant war between the kingdoms of Israel and Judah during his reign. Jeroboam established a religious holiday on the 15th day of the eighth month. On that day, he would go to Beth-el and sacrifice on the altar to the golden calf. On one of those occasions, a prophet of the tribe of Judah saw Jeroboam burning incense in the altar and prophesied that one day a king by the name of Josiah would destroy that altar.

Jeroboam pointed with his arm to the man and ordered his men to seize him. His arm became paralyzed, and he could not move it. The altar broke down, and its ashes were spilled.

Distraught, the king asked the prophet to pray to God to heal his arm. The prophet did so, and the king was again able to move his arm. Grateful, Jeroboam asked the prophet to come to the palace, have some refreshment, and receive a gift. The prophet refused and left Beth-el.

Sometime later, Abijah, the young son of Jeroboam, became very ill. The king sent his wife in disguise to Shiloh to consult with the prophet Ahijah, who was now old and blind, to ask whether the child would recover.

Despite his blindness and the queen's disguise, the old prophet recognized her and told her that the child would die as soon as she returned to Tirzah, as God's punishment for having sinned and worshiped idols. Ahijah added that Jeroboam's descendants would die and be eaten by dogs and birds. Iddo, the seer, also had visions about Jeroboam, which he wrote in a book that has not survived to modern times.

Jeroboam died after reigning for 22 years and was succeeded by his son Nadab, who was overthrown and killed by Baasha two years later.

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David Mandel studied at the University of Pennsylvania under Bible scholar Moshe Greenberg, and moved to Israel in 1970, where he founded Computronic Corporation, an Israeli software development company that specializes in biblical software.