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Question: "Who were the kings of Israel and Judah?"

Answer:
In the period that preceded the monarchy, Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit (Judges 21:25). God raised up Samuel to lead the people (1 Samuel 3:4). All of Israel knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the Lord (1 Samuel 3:20). Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life, and when he was old he made his sons judges over Israel (1 Samuel 8:1). Israel rejected the sons, refused to obey Samuel and demanded a king (1 Samuel 8:19–20). When Samuel reported their request to God, the Lord answered, “Listen to them and give them a king” (1 Samuel 8:22).

Saul was the first king. He was of the tribe of Benjamin, which, in the days of the judges, had almost been annihilated. Tall, handsome and humble, Saul began his reign with a brilliant victory over the Ammonites. Any misgivings about the new “kingdom” disappeared. But success rapidly went to his head, and humility gave place to pride. He offered sacrifice, which was the exclusive function of priests, showing his presumed self-importance. He deliberately disobeyed God, causing God to tell Samuel, “I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions” (1 Samuel 15:10). Saul reigned unsuccessfully from 1049 BC to 1009 BC, then he “took his own sword and fell on it” (1 Samuel 31:4).

David, although anointed as king when just a boy, did not “take the throne” until after Saul’s death (2 Samuel 2:4). David was short of stature, ruddy, of beautiful countenance, handsome, of immense physical strength and great personal attractiveness. He was a man of war, prudent in speech, very brave, very musical and very religious. His most recognized “claim to fame” was God’s promise that David’s family should reign forever. “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse [David’s father] and from his roots a Branch [Jesus] will bear fruit” (Isaiah 11:1). After Saul’s death, David was made king over Judah, and seven years later he was made king over all Israel. He was 30 years old when he became king and reigned from 1009 BC to 969 BC.

Solomon became king in 971 BC, possibly two years before his father David died, and reigned until 931 BC Solomon was born of Bathsheba, and, though not in line for the succession, he was chosen by David and approved by God to be David’s successor (1 Chronicles 23:1). Solomon had inherited the throne of the most powerful kingdom then existing. It was an era of peace and prosperity with vast business enterprises and literary attainments. God told Solomon to ask what he would, and Solomon asked for wisdom to govern his people. That pleased God, who richly rewarded him with wealth, wisdom, power and the important task of building the temple (1 Chronicles 28:2–6).

After the death of Solomon, the kingdom was divided. Ten tribes formed the Northern Kingdom, called Israel; Judah and Benjamin formed the Southern Kingdom, called Judah. The date of the division of the kingdom is approximately 931 BC. The following dates are approximate, due to overlapping reigns, associated sovereignty, intervals of anarchy and parts of years referred to as full years. Some of the reigns were, in part, concurrent. All the kings of Israel practiced idolatry; the worst served Baal. Many of the kings of Judah served idols; few served Jehovah faithfully. Some bad kings were partly good; some good kings partly bad. The kings, the approximate dates of their reigns and their dispositions are listed below:

KINGS OF ISRAEL: Jeroboam I, bad, 930—909 BC
Nadab, bad, 909—908 BC
Baasha, bad, 908—886 BC
Elah, bad, 886—885 BC
Zimri, bad, 885 BC
Tibni, bad, 885—880 BC
Omri (overlap), extra bad, 885—874 BC
Ahab, the worst, 874—853 BC
Ahaziah, bad, 853—852 BC
Joram/Jehoram, bad mostly, 852—841 BC
Jehu, not good but better than the rest, 841—814 BC
Jehoahaz, bad, 814—798 BC
Joash, bad, 798—782 BC
Jeroboam II (overlap), bad, 793—753 BC
Zechariah, bad, 753 BC
Shallum, bad, 752 BC
Menahem, bad, 752—742 BC
Pekahiah, bad, 742—740 BC
Pekah (overlap), bad, 752—732 BC
Hoshea, bad, 732—722 BC

KINGS OF JUDAH:
Rehoboam, bad mostly, 933—916 BC
Abijah, bad mostly, 915—913 BC
Asa, GOOD, 912—872 BC
Jehoshaphat (overlap), GOOD, 874—850 BC
Jehoram/Joram, bad, 850—843 BC
Ahaziah, bad, 843 BC
Athaliah (queen), devilish, 843—837 BC
Joash/Jehoash, good mostly, 843—803 BC
Amaziah, good mostly, 803—775 BC
Uzziah/Azariah (overlap), GOOD mostly, 787—735 BC
Jotham (overlap), GOOD, 749—734 BC
Ahaz, wicked, 741—726 BC
Hezekiah, THE BEST, 726—697 BC
Manasseh, the worst, 697—642 BC
Amon, the worst, 641—640 BC
Josiah, THE BEST, 639—608 BC
Jehoahaz, bad, 608 BC
Jehoiakim, wicked, 608—597 BC
Jehoiachin, bad, 597 BC
Zedekiah, bad, 597—586 BC

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