two kingdoms

The Hebrew people existed as one state only during the reigns of Saul, David and Solomon. Following Solomon's death the chieftains of the northern tribes asked his son, Rehoboam, to reduce the heavy burden of taxation that Solomon's splendid imperial state had required. Rehoboam not only refused but indicated his intention to continue to copy the style of surrounding nations' kings. The Northerners chose general Jeroboam as king and the ten tribes in the north who broke away retained the name Israel. This left David's descendants ruling the tribe of Judah and others living in the south.

Each of the two kingdoms had its own kind of faithfulness to "Israel's" traditions, and introduced their own variety of syncretism. In Judah the ideology of David's descendent as the "Lord's anointed" (Messiah) risked shaping her religion in ways that mimicked the models of divine and semi-divine kingship of Egypt and Phoenicia. In Israel, the more fertile land, Adonai was often confused with the Canaanite fertility god Baal. Indeed this process seems to have begun and been encouraged by Jeroboam's early attempt to rival Jerusalem's temple. He set up sanctuaries at Dan and Bethel where Adonai was represented by "golden" images of a young bull.

(Compare Canaanite images.)

This page is part of the Hypertext Bible Commentary - Amos,

© Tim Bulkeley, 1996-2005, Tim Bulkeley. All rights reserved.