David is old and bed-ridden, and his son Adonijah proclaims himself king with the help of David’s commander Joab and the priest, Abiathar. Hearing this news, David instructs the prophet Nathan to anoint David’s son, Solomon, as king. The people rally behind Solomon in a grand procession to the royal throne. Before dying, David charges Solomon to remain faithful to God and his laws. Solomon solidifies his claim to the throne by killing Joab, Adonijah, and the remaining dissenters from David’s reign. He also makes an alliance with Egypt by marrying the pharaoh’s daughter.
Because Solomon carefully obeys God’s laws, God appears to him in a dream and offers to grant the new king one wish. Solomon asks for wisdom to govern with justice and to know the difference between right and wrong. God is so impressed with Solomon’s humble request that he promises Solomon the additional gifts of wealth and long life. As a result, Solomon lives in great opulence and his empire stretches from Egypt to the Euphrates River. He earns international fame for his wise sayings and scientific knowledge.
With his vast resources, Solomon builds an elaborate temple to God as well as a palace for himself in Jerusalem. Construction begins exactly four hundred and eighty years after Israel’s exodus from Egypt. Solomon conscripts thousands of laborers for the work and imports materials from neighboring countries. The Temple is lined with gold and features large, hand-sculpted angels and pillars. Solomon places the Ark of the Covenant inside, and all of Israel gathers for the dedication. After sacrificing herds of animals on the altar, Solomon prays for God’s blessing on the Temple. God appears to Solomon and promises to dwell in the Temple so long as Solomon and the Israelites are obedient to his laws. If they are not, God will remove his presence from the Temple, destroying both the temple and the nation.
Solomon’s success continues until he marries many foreign women. They influence him to worship and erect altars to foreign deities. God is infuriated and tells Solomon that he will dismember the kingdom. God will tear away all of the tribes from Solomon’s kingdom except for one, Judah. God allows the tribe of Judah to remain since Solomon is David’s son. Following God’s declaration, a prophet meets one of Solomon’s officials, Jeroboam, with a cloak torn into twelve pieces, representing the twelve tribes of Israel. The prophet hands Jeroboam ten of the twelve pieces and explains that God has chosen him to rule these selected tribes as Israel’s new king.
Solomon dies, and his son Rehoboam assumes the throne. Led by Jeroboam, the people gather before the young king to request that Rehoboam treat them more kindly than Solomon did during his reign. Rehoboam is headstrong and refuses, threatening to punish and enslave the people. The Israelites unite in rebellion, cursing the tribe of Judah and eluding Rehoboam’s attempts to forcefully subdue them. They head north, where they crown Jeroboam king of Israel in the city of Shechem. Israel splits into two kingdoms: the kingdom of Israel in the north, and the kingdom of Judah in the south.
To distinguish the new, separate kingdom of Israel from the old kingdom in Jerusalem, Jeroboam erects altars and shrines to golden calves throughout the northern land. The Israelites worship the idols, and the Levite priests, formerly devoted to God, serve them as well. One day, Jeroboam’s son is ill, and his wife approaches a prophet to seek guidance. The prophet warns that Jeroboam’s household will be destroyed and that Israel will eventually lose control of the promised land because of Jeroboam’s abhorrent practices. One generation later, Jeroboam’s entire family is slaughtered when another Israelite takes the throne by force.
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