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Who were the kings of Israel and Judah?

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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 monarchy disappeared. But success rapidly went to Saul’s head, and humility gave place to pride. He offered a 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, wounded in battle, he “took his own sword and fell on it” (1 Samuel 31:4).

David, although anointed as king when just a boy, did not ascend to the throne until after Saul’s death (2 Samuel 2:4). David was short of stature, ruddy, of beautiful countenance, handsome, and of immense physical strength and great personal attractiveness. He was a man of war, prudent in speech, brave, musical, and religious. God promised 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 directly in line for the succession, he was chosen by David and approved by God to be David’s successor (1 Chronicles 23:1). Solomon 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 it would be given to him. 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 is a list of the kings of Israel and Judah. The dates of their reigns are approximate, due to overlapping reigns, associated sovereignty, intervals of anarchy, and the Jewish practice of counting parts of years as full years. Portions of some reigns were concurrent. All the kings of Israel practiced idolatry; the worst served Baal. Many of the kings of Judah served idols; few served the Lord faithfully. Some bad kings were partly good; some good kings partly bad. The kings, the approximate dates of their reigns, and descriptions of their overall obedience to God are listed below:

KINGS OF ISRAEL: Jeroboam I, rebellious, 931—910 BC
Nadab, bad, 910—909 BC
Baasha, wicked, 909—886 BC
Elah, evil, 886—885 BC
Zimri, sinful, 885 BC
Tibni, iniquitous, 885—880 BC
Omri (overlap), extra bad, 885—874 BC
Ahab, the worst to that point, 874—853 BC
Ahaziah, disobedient, 853—852 BC
Joram/Jehoram, mostly rotten, 852—841 BC
Jehu, not good but better than the rest, 841—814 BC
Jehoahaz, noncompliant, 814—798 BC
Joash, wayward, 798—782 BC
Jeroboam II (overlap), badly behaved, 793—753 BC
Zechariah, abysmal, 753 BC
Shallum, full of vice, 752 BC
Menahem, horrible, 752—742 BC
Pekahiah, idolatrous, 742—740 BC
Pekah (overlap), awful, 752—732 BC
Hoshea, appalling, 732—722 BC

Rehoboam, mostly bad, 931—913 BC
Abijah, mostly perverted, 913—911 BC
Asa, good, 911—870 BC
Jehoshaphat (overlap), righteous, 873—848 BC
Jehoram/Joram (overlap), terrible, 853—841 BC
Ahaziah, bad, 841 BC
Athaliah (queen), devilish, 841—835 BC
Joash/Jehoash, mostly virtuous, 835—796 BC
Amaziah, mostly wholesome, 796—767 BC
Uzziah/Azariah (overlap), mostly respectable, 790—739 BC
Jotham (overlap), worthy, 750—731 BC
Ahaz, heinous, 735—715 BC
Hezekiah, the best, 715—686 BC
Manasseh, depraved until he repented at the end, 695—642 BC
Amon, treacherous, 642—640 BC
Josiah, great, 640—609 BC
Jehoahaz, dreadful, 609 BC
Jehoiakim, degenerate, 609—597 BC
Jehoiachin, frightful, 597 BC
Zedekiah, foolish, 597—586 BC

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This page last updated: January 4, 2022