In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Jeroboam

  • Introduction
  • Two Jeroboams or One Jeroboam?
  • Early Reception History

Biblical Studies Jeroboam
Kristin Weingart
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 July 2023
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195393361-0319


“Jeroboam” is the name of two kings of Israel. According to the Book of Kings, Jeroboam I was the first king and founder of the first, albeit short lived, dynasty in Northern Israel after the division of the united Davidic-Solomonic kingdom (1Kings 11–14). Jeroboam II was the fourth of the five kings of the Jehu dynasty (Nimshides). His reign is portrayed in 2Kings 14:23–29 and also alluded to in the books of Amos and Hoshea.

Jeroboam I

According to the Book of Kings (1Kings 11–14), Jeroboam ben Nebat was appointed by Solomon as an overseer of forced laborers. A prophetic oracle promised his ascension to the throne as the ruler of ten of the twelve tribes of Israel. He was installed as king by the northern tribes after a foolish Rehoboam acted imprudently toward them and they consequentially seceded from Davidic rule. Jeroboam resided in Pnuel and Tirzah. To make his kingdom religiously independent of Jerusalem, Jeroboam established cultic sites in Bethel and Dan to worship YHWH. He provided these royal sanctuaries with calf(/bull) statues and a new priesthood. Another prophetic oracle (this time to his wife) prepared his downfall; his dynasty was not to last, and it ended with the rule of his son Nadab. In the Book of Kings, Jeroboam serves as the prototype of a sinful king; the “sin of Jeroboam” becomes proverbial for idolatry and apostasy as well as forfeiting Davidic rule. Every later king of Northern Israel is measured by his stance toward Jeroboam’s cultic innovations which are also cited as one of the main reasons for the fall of the Northern Kingdom (2Kings 17:21–23). Jeroboam I is usually dated 926–907 BCE. Scholarly debates focus on the literary history of the Jeroboam account in 1Kings 11–14 and its historicity. The question is intertwined with the discussion about the historicity of a unified monarchy and a subsequent division of the kingdom. The latter is increasingly seen as a literary projection without much connection to the historic reality in the tenth century BCE. Other central questions related to Jeroboam are the assessment of the cultic installations and policies ascribed to him as well as his role as a paradigm within the Deuteronomistic perspective on the history of Israel.

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