"Increase of the people." The son of Nebat,1 "an Ephrathite," the first king of the ten tribes, over whom he reigned twenty-two years. He was the son of a widow of Zereda, and while still young was promoted by Solomon to be chief superintendent of the "burnden", i.e., of the bands of forced laborers. Influenced by the words of the prophet Ahijah, he began to form conspiracies with the view of becoming king of the ten tribes; but these having been discovered, he fled to Egypt,2 where he remained for a length of time under the protection of Shishak I. There he married Ano, the elder sister of the Egyptian queen Tahpenes.
On the death of Solomon, the ten tribes, having revolted, sent to invite him to become their king. The conduct of Rehoboam favored the designs of Jeroboam, and he was accordingly proclaimed "king of Israel."3 He rebuilt and fortified Shechem as the capital of his kingdom. He at once adopted means to perpetuate the division thus made between the two parts of the kingdom, and erected at Dan and Bethel, the two extremities of his kingdom, "golden calves,"4 which he set up as symbols of Yahweh, enjoining the people not any more to go up to worship at Jerusalem, but to bring their offerings to the shrines he had erected. Thus he became distinguished as the man "who made Israel to sin." This policy was followed by all the succeeding kings of Israel.
While he was engaged in offering incense at Bethel, a prophet from Judah appeared before him with a warning message from the Lord. Attempting to arrest the prophet for his bold words of defiance, his hand was "dried up," and the altar before which he stood was rent asunder. At his urgent entreaty his "hand was restored him again;"5 but the miracle made no abiding impression on him.
Jeroboam was at constant war with the house of Judah, but the only act distinctly recorded is a battle with Abijah, son of Rehoboam, in which he was defeated. The calamity was severely felt; he never recovered the blow, and soon after died,6 and was buried in his ancestral sepulcher.7
Jeroboam's reign is variously given from 931 to 910 BCE and 922 to 901 BCE.
- 1 Kings 11:26–39.
- 1 Kings 11:29-40.
- 1 Kings 12:1-20.
- 2 Kings 10:29.
- 1 Kings 13:1-6, 9; comp. 2 Kings 23:15.
- 2 Chron. 13:20.
- 1 Kings 14:20.
- Easton, M.G. (1897). Easton's Bible Dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers.
This article incorporates text from Easton’s Bible Dictionary (1897) by M.G. Easton, which is in the public domain.