nly three kings reigned over the united people of Israel. Then the Israelites divided into two countries: Judah, to the south, and Israel, to the north. The kings of Judah were descendants of David but the kings of Israel came from several different families and tribes.
Before the monarchy, the people of Israel were led by judges, leaders appointed by God who united the people against their enemies. But when Samuel, the last judge, was old, the Israelites demanded a king, to be like other peoples. So God chose Saul as king of Israel. But Saul disobeyed God and another man was chosen as his successor: David.
God promised that David would always have a king on the throne ( 2 Samuel 7: 16-17 ). But their descendants disobeyed God and lost the support of ten of the tribes of Israel. Thus, the kingdom was divided: the tribes of Judah and Benjamin formed the kingdom of Judah and remained loyal to the family of David, while the other tribes came together and formed the kingdom of Israel.
The kingdom of Judah had 19 kings and a queen over 340 years, while the kingdom of Israel had 19 kings over 200 years. Since the kings of Israel suffered blows and were deposed frequently, they had, on average, shorter reigns than the kings of Judah.
The kings of Israel and Judah, in chronological order
Kings of the united kingdom of Israel:
- Saul– Israel’s first king, disobeyed God and was rejected by Him as king
- Is-Bosete– Saul’s son, reigned over ten tribes for seven years, until he was murdered by a former ally
- David– appointed by God as Saul’s successor, reigned seven years over Judah and 37 over all Israel; God promised that he would always have a descendant on the throne
- Solomon– David’s son, was the richest and wisest king ever; he built the temple in Jerusalem
See here the story of Saul, Israel’s first king.
Kings of Israel:
- Jeroboam I– of the tribe of Ephraim, rebelled against Solomon, then led the revolt against Rehoboam, becoming king of ten of the tribes of Israel; did not follow God and promoted idolatry in Israel, so God promised to destroy his offspring
- Nadabe– son of Jeroboam, lasted only two years, then was murdered
- Baasa– of the Issachar tribe, killed the whole family of Jeroboam and took the throne; committed the same sins as Jeroboam
- Elah– son of Baasa, was also bad and was murdered after two years
- Zinri– murdered Elah and the whole family of Baasa; had the shortest reign, just seven days
- Omri– commander of the army, was proclaimed king after Elah was killed and defeated all rivals; he established Samaria as the capital of the kingdom of Israel
- Ahab– son of Omri, became famous for being bad and idolatrous and marrying Jezebel, who persecuted God’s prophets; a prophet predicted his death and the destruction of his family; Ahab died in battle against the king of Syria
- Ahaziah– son of Ahab, was bad as his parents and died after a fall
- Jorão– son of Ahaziah, was bad but not as bad as his father; died along with his cousin Ahaziah, king of Judah, murdered by Jehu
- Jehu– commander of the army, was chosen by God to destroy the family of Ahab; killed Jezebel, the descendants of Ahab and the prophets of Baal, but continued in idolatry
- Jehoacaz– son of Jehu, only sought God’s help when the country was under oppression by the king of Syria; God saved him but the army was very small
- Jehoás– son of Jehoacaz, was an idolater and had many problems with the king of Syria
- Jeroboam II– son of Jehoás, was an idolater but was used by God to end the oppression that the Israelites were suffering
- Zacarias– son of Jeroboam, it was bad and lasted only six months, then he was murdered by Salum
- Salum– conspired against Zacharias and took the throne for a month; then he was murdered
- Menaem– murdered Salum and became king; continued in the tradition of idolatry
- Pecaías– son of Menaém, it was bad and lasted a short time; was murdered by Peca
- Peca– army officer, conspired against Peca and became king; in his reign the king of Assyria conquered various parts of the kingdom of Israel; Peca also died murdered
- Hosea– Israel’s last king, was bad but not as bad as his predecessors; became a vassal of the king of Assyria but then rebelled and the Assyrians conquered Israel, deporting the Israelites
See also: the History of Israel – from Abraham to the present day.
Kings of Judah:
- Rehoboam– son of Solomon, was foolish and refused to lower heavy taxes; because of that ten tribes rejected it and the country was divided
- Abijah– son of Rehoboam, he was a bad king, who did not obey God
- Asa– son of Abias, had his heart turned to God; his reign was marked by wars with the kingdom of Israel
- Jehoshaphat– son of Asa, also obeyed God and sought to reduce idolatry in Judah
- Jehoram– son of Jehoshaphat, married Athab, daughter of Ahab, and was influenced by the evil kings of Israel, turning away from God
- Ahaziah– son of Jehoshaphat, was also a bad king; he and Joram, king of Israel, were murdered by an Israelite named Jehu
- Atalia– mother of Ahaziah, when he learned that his son was dead, killed all his grandchildren (except one, who escaped) and took the throne; after seven years she was deposed and murdered
- Joás– the only son of Ahaziah who survived his grandmother’s slaughter, Joás was proclaimed king at the age of seven, when Atalia was deposed; he obeyed God while the priest Joiada was alive but later turned aside
- Amazias– son of Joash, obeyed God but went to war against Israel and lost; died murdered by conspirators
- Azarias / Uzias– son of Amazias, obeyed God but later became proud and entered a part of the temple that was forbidden, so he got leprosy
- Jotham– son of Uzziah, obeyed God and made some repairs in the temple in Jerusalem
- Ahaz– son of Jotão, placed an idolatrous altar in the temple of God and even burned one of his sons as a sacrifice to an idol
- Hezekiah– son of Ahaz, was obedient to God and purified the temple; during their reign the Assyrians conquered Israel but God delivered the kingdom of Judah
- Manasseh– son of Hezekiah, had the longest reign of all; he was so bad that God promised to destroy Judah, but after a great defeat he repented and turned to God; even so, it did not end idolatry in the country
- Ammon– son of Manasseh, continued in his father’s sins and died murdered
- Josiah– son of Ammon, began to reign at the age of eight; in adulthood he restored the temple and promoted the worship of God, renewing the covenant between God and the Israelites; was the last king of Judah faithful to God
- Jeoacaz– Josiah’s son, was bad and reigned only three months; was deposed by the pharaoh of Egypt, who placed his brother on the throne
- Jehoiakim– son of Josiah, did not follow God and became a vassal of the king of Babylon; then rebelled and died while the Babylonian army besieged Jerusalem
- Joaquim– son of Jeoaquim, disobeyed God and lasted only three months; was taken captive to Babylon, where he spent the rest of his life
- Zedekiah– son of Josiah, was placed on the throne by the king of Babylon in the place of his nephew Joaquim; when the rebels rebelled, they attacked and destroyed Jerusalem, deporting the Jews; Zedekiah was captured and taken to Babylon; their children were murdered
After exile in Babylon
After the Jews were deported to Babylon, the region of Israel was dominated by several different kingdoms and empires. 70 years after the exile, the Jews returned to their land but not as an independent people and had no king.
During a short period between the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament, a family known as the Maccabees reigned over Israel, declaring independence. They were from a family of priests, not from the descendants of David, and their kingdom did not last long.
At the time Jesus was born, there was a king named Herod who ruled the region. But he was not a Jew. His power came from the emperor of Rome and his descendants on the throne were all vassals of the Roman emperors.
But God did not forget his promise to David. He sent Jesus as a descendant of David to be the savior of the world ( Luke 1: 32-33 ). Thus, David’s descendants stayed with a king on the throne forever, on the heavenly throne.