Q&A: The Northern and Southern Kingdoms

The Northern and Southern Kingdoms

Why did the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah split into two nations?

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If you go to Deuteronomy 17, Deuteronomy 17 gives some rules for the king, and basically it says three things. In Deuteronomy 17, it says that the king should not acquire many wives, and especially foreign wives, because they will turn his heart from the Lord. It says that he should not acquire for himself much gold and silver. And then finally, that he should not acquire many horses. And oddly enough, in particular, in Deuteronomy, it says, "and he especially should not go to Egypt and buy his horses." So, then we come to the book of Kings, and if we go to the book of 1 Kings, and — I believe it's in chapter 10 — we're getting kind of the summary of Solomon's reign. And what is the summary? Well, he acquired so much gold that it says that … they were making cups and plates out of gold, and silver was just considered as worthless because he had so much gold. And then it went to list all of the horses and the chariots that he had. And he had so many horses and chariots that he had to build cities, they had to build cities just to house the horses and chariots. And then it goes on to say, in particular, that he went and he traded with the Egyptians to get his horses. And then, of course, probably the most famous, or infamous part of Solomon's reign is that he married so many hundreds of foreign women, and it goes on to say that they turned his heart from obedience to Yahweh, or from following Yahweh, and they turned his heart towards other gods. And so, God sent a prophet in there, and God gave this message to the prophet, and he said, "Because Solomon has done this, I'm going to take the kingdom from him, and I'm going to give it to someone else."

Answer by Dr. Todd Borger

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary