Series 1: Chapter 7 - The Birthright or the Promise of Many Nations to Abraham
"When I would have healed Israel, then the iniquity of Ephraim was discovered, and the wickedness of Samaria, for they commit falsehood," (Hosea 7:1).
Here the names of Israel, Ephraim, and Samaria, are used interchangeably for the one kingdom. It bears the name Ephraim, because it is the Birthright kingdom; that of Samaria, because that was the name of their capital city; and the name of Israel, for the reason that when dying Jacob, whose name had been changed to Israel, in bestowing the Birthright upon Joseph's two sons, said: "Let my name be named on them."
When the blessing of Him that dwelt in the bush came upon Joseph, he who was separated from his brethren, it is declared that his glory was the ten thousands of Ephraim and the thousands of Manasseh. Thus he received, in so far as tribal honor or glory is concerned, a double portion. So, at the time of the division of the land by lot, under the leadership of Joshua, we find the declaration that "there was also a lot for the tribe of Manasseh, for he was the first horn of Joseph;" but that "they gave no part unto the Levites in the land, save cities to dwell in," and the reason given for it is, "For the children of Joseph were two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim," (Joshua 14:4).
The fact is that Jacob adopted the two sons of Joseph gave them tribal headship, and thus made thirteen tribes in Jacob. And since Judah, Benjamin, and Levi were the tribal heads of the kingdom of Judah, there were still ten tribes for the Birthright kingdom, and the Lord's promise to the king of Israel stood fast.
The history of the kingdom of Israel, as opposed to that of the Jews, is full of the sin of Jeroboam and of her kings who walked in this sin. This sin was, in a special sense, the sin of that nation. It pertained exclusively to them, because it was born, bred, lived, and died among them; for no other nation took up with it, not even their brethren of the kingdom of Judah. It was the standing sin of the nation; to them it ever stood as an open door through which other forms of idolatry might enter, and through which they did enter. For, although it is said of Omri, the sixth king of Israel, that he wrought evil in the sight of the Lord in following the sin of Jeroboam, and also that he did worse than all that were before him, the Lord is compelled to say of Ahab, the son of Omri, that he did worse than his father; for it was he who introduced the worship of Baal among the Israelites. Following the introduction of Baalism, other idolatries were quickly introduced among them, and soon the cup of Israel's iniquity was full to the brim; the result of which was that she was cast out of the land.
Israel was not only cast out of that land, their God-given heritage and which — if God be true — must yet become their everlasting home; but she was cast off by the Lord and divorced from him, because of her harlotry in forsaking him, her lawful husband, for the worship of idols.
Before giving the details of the casting out and the casting off, we deem it advisable to give a complete list of Israel's dynasties, together with a list of all the kings who reigned over Israel from the time when the kingdom was taken from Solomon and given to Jeroboam, his servant, until they were finally driven out of the land, and also to give what the Scripture saith concerning the idolatry of each of these her kings.
So we place below, the name and number of the king, the number of the dynasty, and the length of time which each of the kings reigned, and what is said concerning his idolatry.
1st King, Jeroboam. Reigned 22 years.
"And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David: if this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam, king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam, king of Judah, whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And he set the one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. And this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship," (1Kings 12:26-30).
2nd King, Nadab. Reigned 2 years.
"And he did evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of his father, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin," (1Kings 15:26).
3rd King, Baasha. Reigned 24 years.
"And he did evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin," (1Kings 15:34).
4th King, Elah. Reigned 2 years.
"For all the sins of Baasha (Jeroboamism), and the sins of Elah his son, by which they sinned, and by which they made Israel to sin, etc.," (1Kings 16:13).
5th King, Zimri. Reigned 1 week.
"And it came to pass, when Zimri saw that the city was taken, that he went into the palace of the king's house, and burnt the king's house over him with fire, and died, for his sins which he sinned in doing evil in the sight of the Lord, in walking in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin which he did to make Israel to sin," (1Kings 16:18, 19).
6th King, Omri. Reigned 12 years.
"But Omri wrought evil in the eyes of the Lord, and did worse than all that were before him. For he walked in all the way of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin, to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger with their vanities," (1Kings 16:25-26).
7th King, Ahab. Reigned 22 years.
"And Ahab, the son of Omri, did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him. And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshiped him. And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel than all the kings of Israel that were before him," (1Kings 11:30-33).
8th King, Ahaziah Reigned 2 years.
"And he did evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of his father, and in the way of his mother, and in the way of Jerohoam, the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin: for he served Baal, and worshiped him, and provoked to anger the Lord God of Israel, according to all that his father had done," (1Kings 22:52, 53).
9th King, Jehoram. Reigned 12 years.
"And he wrought evil in the sight of the Lord; but not like his father, and like his mother; for he put away the image of Baal that his father had made. Nevertheless he cleaved unto the sins of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, which made Israel to sin; he departed not therefrom," (2Kings 3:2, 3).
10th King, Jehu, Reigned 23 years.
"Howbeit from the sins of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, Jehu departed not from after them, to wit, the golden calves that were in Bethel and that were in Dan," (2Kings 10:29).
11th King, Jehoahaz, reigned 17 years.
"And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, and followed the sins of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, which made Israel to sin; he departed not therefrom," (2Kings 13:2).
12th King, Joash. Reigned 10 years.
"And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord; he departed not from all the sins of Jerohoam, the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin; but he walked therein," (2Kings 13:11).
13th King, Jeroboam, the 2d. (son of Joash). Reigned 41 years.
"And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord: he departed not from all the sins of Jerohoam, the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin," (2Kings 14:24).
14th King, Zachariah. Reigned 6 months.
"And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, as his father had done: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin," (2Kings 15:9).
15th King, Shallum. Reigned 1 month. (Sins of Shallum not recorded.)
16th King Menahem. Reigned 10 years.
"And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord: he departed not all of his days from the sins of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin," (2Kings 15:18).
17th King Pekahiah. Reigned 2 years.
"And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord: and he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin," (2Kings 15:24).
18th King, Pekah. Reigned 20 years.
"And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin," (2Kings 15:28).
19th King, Hoshea, Reigned 22 years.
"And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, but not as the kings of Israel that were before him," (2Kings 17:2).
After the introduction of Baalism and other idolatries, there were a few feeble attempts at reformation: but they were only a partial, as we may readily see. Take, for instance, the case of Jehoram to which we referred in the last chapter; how it is written that:
"He wrought evil in the sight of the Lord, but not like his father and mother, for he put away the image of Baal that his father had made, nevertheless he cleaved unto the sins of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, which made Israel to sin." (2Kings 3:2-3).
It was this slight and hypocritical attempt to purify the worship of the people which so displeased the Lord, and which made Elisha the prophet give that scathing rebuke to Jehoram in the presence of his kinsman kings. For if he knew enough concerning the Lord God of his race to have his conscience troubled over Baal, he had sufficient light to have made a clean sweep of the whole thing, but he did not do it. And the sequel proves that he did not succeed in destroying Baalism from among his people, for they were soon back to it, and even went so far as to offer their own sons and daughters in living sacrifice to the idol of Baal.
It was to this kingdom, the people of which are Israelites and not Jews, that the Lord sent Elijah the prophet to make the fire test as to whether he or Baal be God. And when the Lord answered by fire, which not only consumed the sacrifice but the stones of the altar, the water in the ditch, and the very dust under the altar, it was these people who shouted loud and long: "The Lord, he is God! The Lord, he is God!" But they never forsook Jeroboam-ism, and soon relapsed into the worship of Baal worse than ever.
Finally the Lord raised up Jehu, who destroyed all the house of Ahab, and became the king of Israel. He, upon his ascension,
"gathered the people together and said unto them, Ahab served Baal a little; Jehu shall serve him much. Now therefore call unto me all the prophets of Baal, all his priests; let none be wanting; for I have a great sacrifice to do for Baal; whosoever shall be wanting [lacking] he shall not live. But Jehu did it in subtlety, to the intent that he might destroy the worshipers of Baal," (2Kings 10:19).
His ruse worked like a charm; they all came, prophets, priests and all the worshipers, "so that there was not a man left that came not," and the house of Baal was full from one end to the other. Then he commanded his guards to destroy them, saying that the man who let one escape should pay the penalty with his own life. They did their work and did it well. So the record reads, "Thus Jehu did destroy Baal out of Israel." But, oh, note the very next words:
"Howbeit, from the sins of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, Jehu departed not from them, to wit, the golden calves that were in Bethel and that were in Dan," (2 Kings 10:29).
It was in regard to Israel, this same ten-tribed kingdom, that the Lord, through the prophet Hosea, said, "Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer," (Hosea 4:16) and of whom he said, "I will heal their backslidings, I will love them freely"; (Hosea 14:4) and whom he exhorted, saying: "O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God!" (Hosea 14:1). But they would not. And yet at that same time the Lord declared that the Jews did have power with him, and that they were among the faithful saints.
In the face of all these facts can there be any further question as to the real meaning of the expression, "Ephraim is joined to his idols" — Jeroboam's calves? Or need we be surprised, in the fact of these cold, hard facts, that the Lord should say, "Let him alone?"
No, surely no. The only surprise is that we should have been so stupid as to have tried to spiritualize Ephraim and his idols.
Since it is a well-known fact that the Jews also went into the worship of Baal, and that for this they were eventually carried away to Babylon, we deem it advisable that all may the more readily grasp other facts with which we shall yet deal, to give at this juncture a tabulated list of Judah's kings from the time God broke up the united kingdom — for you will remember that he said, "This is of me" — until the Jewish people went into the Babylonish captivity.
KINGDOM OF JUDAH (Dynasty a continuation of David's house.)
In this list we perceive that the same dynasty, which commenced when David was made king over the united tribes, continues throughout this entire list down to and including Zedekiah; while, in the previously given list of Israel's kings, you notice, there are no less than eight dynasties. The reason is obvious. Judah's kings are the God-given royal line, along which the swaying sceptre passed from father to son. For the Lord had promised this family that neither the sceptre nor a law-giver should depart from them until Shiloh should come. But such was not the case in the kingdom of Israel, hence feudalism prevailed among them.
Chapter 7 - The Birthright or the Promise of Many Nations to Abraham