The Old Testament Kings of Israel
Dates after each signify the date of death, all BC
1. Saul, 1007 (united kingdom): Military pressure on Israel forced the people to demand a king to defend them. The prophet Samuel consolidated worship, and a king was necessary to oversee this new centralization, finalized by Solomon. Commerce increased. Pride in his own military prowess brought about his suicide.
2. David, 993 (united kingdom): Supported by Samuel against Saul. Made king after the latter’s suicide. Sought to unify the tribes of Israel. Continued to centralize worship. Took advantage of increasing commerce. Kingdom grew into an empire.
3. Solomon, 938 (united kingdom): Son of David, dynastic succession introduced. Israel became worldly. Stamped out opposition and eliminated the tribal system. Huge building projects created need for forced labor. Introduced some pagan practices. Substantial trading empire developed. Empire based on “flimsy foundations of commerce” (Myers, 1966).
Kings of Israel: 993-722 BC.
1 Ishbaal, 993. Only surviving son of Saul. Made king by Abner, one of Saul’s generals, and hence he was the pick of the military forces. Short reign of two years. (1 Sam c 2)
2. Jeroboam, 910 Developed pagan traditions of Solomon. 1 Kings shows his condemnation by the prophets for this activity, specifically, of reintroducing the worship of the golden calf. Solomon had attempted to murder him at one point as a threat to his power, though he escaped to the protection of the Egyptians (1 Kings 11). Major military builder.
3. Nadab, 909, Son of Jeroboam, another military leader who suffered through a revolt of his army. (1 Kings 14)
4. Baasah, 886, another military figure, reported in 1 Kings 15 to have been the leader of the military revolt against Nadab and was proclaimed king by the Military, Roman style.
5. Elah, 885, Very short reign, again, like Nadab, was murdered through a military conspiracy as shown 1n 1 Kings 16. He was the son of Baasah
6. Zimri, 885 Only a rule of several days. Leader of the military conspiracy that killed Elah, and in the process, murdered the entire family of Baasah so as to eliminate their potent power base as recorded in 1 Kings 16. Himself murdered in yet another conspiracy that elected Omri.
7. Omri, 874 Inherited a deeply divided kingdom. He knew Israel needed unity and stability after the quick succession of kings noted above. 1 Kings 16 tells of his great success, where he defeated the Moab people, something explained in many extra-biblical sources as well. He made a clear alliance with the wealthy trading cities of Phonecia, considered dangerous due to their hardened pagan practices. (1 Kings 16)
8. Ahab, 853, son of Omri, married to a Phoenician princess, the infamous Jezebel. Another long reign of over 20 years, which helped to stabilize Israel. Condemned by Elijah for his paganism and bloodthirstiness as recorded in 1 Kings 22)
9. Ahaziah, 852, the son of Ahab and Jezebel as recorded in 1 Kings 22. He was a military failure, and the empire built up by his predecessors was slowly dismantled, including the Moabites. Scripture records that he worshiped the price of Demons Baalzebub (2 Kings 1).
10. Jehoram, 841Another son of Ahab, brother of Ahaziah. Attempted to reconquer Moab.
11. Jehu, 813, murdered Jehoram, eliminated members of Ahab’s family. Ahab had converted to Phoenician paganism, and hence these killings were justified. His killings were mandated by Elisha who anointed him king so as to cleanse Israel of pagan worship. He also killed the priests of Baal (2 Kings 9 and 10).
12. Jehoahaz, 797 Son of Jehu, undid the religious reforms of his father, though his own personal religious life wavered. Popular superstition retained the worship of both Assyrian and Phoenician gods. Punished by major victories by the armies of Syria. (2 Kings 13)
13. Jeoash, 782 Son of Jehoahaz, (2 Kings 13), undid the losses of his father, and threw back the Syrian forces. Sinned by warring with Judah and looting the temple at Jerusalem.
14. Jeroboam II, 747 Condemned by the prophet Amos for the growing class disparities of his reign (though these had been growing for some time). Very long reign, though little in terms of detail is related in 2 Kings 15.
15. Zechariah, 747 Extremely short reign. Murdered by Shallum.
16. Shallum, 747 Another very short reign. Murdered after a few weeks by Menahem.
17. Menahem, 742 A clear pagan, sought to pay off enemies rather than fight them, which led to the results that Israel’s enemies saw the instability on the throne as an invitation. Slowly, Israel became the property of the pagan empires,. 10 Year reign as mentioned in 2 Kings 15.
18. Pekahiah, 740 Another pagan, murdered by his successor Pekah.
19. Pekah, 731A major military figure that saw military victory as guaranteed by the continuation of pagan worship. He saw the increasing dependence of of Israel on Assyria as an embarrassment and hence, the murder of Pekahiah in 740. Murderd by the last king of Israel, Hoshea as related in 2 Kings 15.
20. Hoshea, 722 Military leader defeated by the Assyrian king of fame, Shalamanser. Israel largely destroyed after this including population transfers and wholesale massacres. Israel had creased to exist. (Cf. 2 Kings 15-17)
After this, Samaria fell to the Assyrians (722 BC). End of the Israelite Line
Kings of Judah 993-587 BC
1. David, 993 mentioned above. Included here because he made Jerusalem the capital of Israel, which became, after the separation the capital of Judah.
2. Rehoboam, 914 Followed in the footsteps of his father, Solomon. Continued forced labor and huge building projects. Assaulted by the Egyptians (according to the prophets, for converting to paganism) and Jerusalem, the capital of Judah, overthrown, and the temple desecrated. (1 Kings 12)
3. Abijah, 912 Defeated Israel and its pagan king, Jeroboam, mentioned above (1 Kings 15).
4. Asa, 871Son of Abijah, strong Israelite traditionalist and rejected paganism, possible out of the example of his father’s defeat of Jeroboam. Important period of peace: Judah’s economy recovered from the wars, and fortifications were built. Defeated Israel yet again, but was attacked by the true Israelites for using the Syrian armies as help. (2 Chronicles 14)
5. Jehoshaphat, 848 Son of Asa. Very long reign where he continued to destroy the pagan shrines throughout the land. Created temporary alliance with Ahab of Israel to fight Syria (which was more to the prophetic teaching). Considered one of the saints of the monarchist period in Israel (2 Chronicles 17ff).
6. Jehoram, 841 Departed from the religious policy of his father, in that he reintroduced paganism into Judah, likely as a part of his marriage to the daughter of Ahab of Israel. As a result of this, the Philistines attacked and defeated the kingdom and desecrated the temple as related in 2 Kings 8.
7. Ahaziah, 841Created alliances with the kings of Israel against the Syrians. Wavered in his religious policy. He was murdered in the plots against the kin of Ahab as mentioned above as he was Ahab’s grandson. (2 Chronicles 22, in part)
8. Athaliah, 835 The only Queen of Israel or Judah, though she had a bloody path to power. She was a pagan. She had killed all the sons and grandsons of Ahaziah, but a grandson was preserved and eventually proclaimed rightful king of Judah. She was murdered in the resulting attempt to stop this seizure of power as related in 2 Kings 8.
9. Joash, 796 He is the sole surviving grandson of Ahaziah. Most of the time, he was a supporter fo the traditional Israelite religion, though he wavered near the end of his life. In 2 Chronicles it is reported that he attempted, without success, to buy off the king of Syria to save his own skin. For this, he was murdered.
10. Amaziah, 767 Son of Joash, and when he took power, he used his office to take revenge on those who had harmed his father. Furthermore, he raised a large army to fight the Edomites. This army was disbanded since it was made up of pagans from Israel. He was rewarded for this obedience by a huge victory over Edom, but it seems he reverted to paganism soon after as related in 2 Chronicles 25.
11. Uzziah, 739 He was apparently elected by the people to rule, as he was son of Amaziah. The bible records this as an extremely long and prosperous reign where Judah developed the attributes of a commercial empire and a country that was advanced in technology and other elements of prosperity. Unfortunately, in 2 Chronicles, it is reported that he sought to take over the (albeit traditional) religious worship for himself (similar to Saul) and he was struck down as a result.
12. Jotham, 734 became regent for his father after he was stuck by leprosy as a result of his arrogance of censing the temple himself. According to 2 Chronicles 27, he basically followed the policy of his father, and continued the “state-building” projects he inherited. He, given the size of his army and the cash he had at his disposal, defeated the Amonites and became powerful due to his religious orthodoxy.
13. Ahaz, 728 Son of Jotham, developed the pagan religion of Judah and, according to 2 Chronicles 28, also sacrificed his own children to Baal, as was the pagan custom at the time. The reign of Ahaz was identical to the time of Pekah in Israel, and the latter lost a large number of troops and citizens to the Israelites. Ahaz was convinced that the pagan worship of Syria was the source of their strength, and thus became more and more fanatically devoted to the Baals and gods of the Syrian peoples. His reign is considered a disaster and an undoing of all the victories of Uzziah and Jotham. Judah was unraveling.
14. Hezekiah, 699 Given the above, this king sought to return to the orthodoxy of Uzziah. In 2 Kings it is reported that this reign saw a reformation of worship to bring it back to orthodoxy and for it to be centralized under the king, as had been the case in Israel. This was the time of the fall of Israelite kingdom, and, as the bible writes, there were many from this kingdom who were settled in the (relatively) safe Israelite haven of Judah. Sought to play Egypt off against Assyria, in an alliance which in Old Testament times never works out well. Alliances at the time assumed that the contracting parties would adopt some fo the religious practices of another, and hence, alliances as such with pagan powers were doomed from the start. In a brilliant move, just prior to an invasion of Assyria, he built a tunnel that would connect Jerusalem with its water supply independent of its public aqueducts. This meant that the city could hold out for longer than normal, as reported in 2 Kings 18ff. Such a policy forced the Assyrians to make a truce, which created a huge boost in prestige for Hezekiah.
15. Manasseh, 643 Restored pagan worship. 2 Kings says that he began a reign of terror over the supporters of his father. His reign was for almost 55 years, but in it, he sought to rebuild the Baalian temples, including within the Jerusalem temple itself. Really, according to 2 Chronicles 33, there was not a pagan practice he did not engage in, including child sacrifice similar to that of Ahaz. The Assyrians, sensing unrest in Judah, launched a successful invasion. After this, he restored the ancient rites of the temple and died in honor.
16. Amon, 640 Ignored his father’s reformation near his death, and continued to worship Baal. Eventually murdered, and his 8 year old son took over.
17. Josiah, 609 One of the most famed of the Judahite kings, and a great religious reformer. It was a reign of peace given the primary enemies of Israel/Judah were in a process of mutual disintegration and unrest (Noth, 1960). He destroyed the temples, and the lucrative prostitution rings they controlled, and destroyed their priests and shrines. He sought major reforms and repairs to the temple, and increased taxes to this end. In 2 Kings 23, there is recorded an attempt to retake Israel and reunite the two kingdoms, long separated. Under the energetic Pharaoh Necho II, the Egyptians launched a major invasion of the entire Levantine Coast. The Egyptians, it seems, were desirous of knocking Babylonia out of great power politics once and for all, and, as a result, Josiah fought with (but did not make an alliance with) the Assyrians in an attempt to have all three major powers–Babylonia, Assyria and Egypt, fight themselves to exhaustion. Josiah was killed at the famed Battle of Meggido as related in 2 Kings 23.
18. Jehoahaz, 609 After the defeat of Josiah, Egypt called the shots in Judah. Jehoahaz was the son of Josiah, but only reigned for a few weeks, and was removed by the Egyptians as related in 2 Chronicles 36.
19. Jehoiakim, 597 Installed by the Egyptians, who had an interest in keeping Judah weak and unstable. BY this time, Judah was little more than a battleground between an resurgent Babylonia and Egypt. This is another short reign ended by the Babylonian answer to Necho II, the famed Nebuchadnezzar, who threw the Egyptians out of Judah and massacred the court of the hapless Jehoiakim.
20. Zedekiah, 587 Another son of Josiah and contemporary with the prophet Jeremiah, this king was appointed by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar and was never accepted because of this. Jeremiah was convinced that Judah was doomed, and counseled the king to keep loyal to the Babylonians who were, at the time, basically invincible. He was ignored and an abortative rebellion broke out, which ended in disaster. The temple was destroyed and the family of Zedekiah was murdered. The Babylonians, after the rebellion, simply absorbed the small region and thus ended the Judahite line.
Fall of Judah to the Babylonians (587 BC) end of the Judahite line.
Old Testament used almost exclusively, especially Kings and Chronicles, Douay-Rheims Version.
A few secondary sources used to check facts:
Noth, Martin. The History of Israel. Harper and Row, 1960.
Hermann, Sigfried, The History of Israel in Old Testament Times. Fortress, 1981.
Meyers, Jacob. Invitation to the Old Testament. Doubleday, 1966.
One Internet Source: “Kings of Judah and Israel.” Clarion Call. 2005 (clarion-call.org)