From Solomon to the Destruction of Jerusalem

 •  10 min. read  •  grade level: 10
The chronology of the time of the kings of Judah and Israel is not altogether devoid of difficulties. Anyone who sits down for the first time to make a list of the kings after the division of the kingdom, placing each king at then appointed year of the contemporary sovereign, and giving to each the right length of reign, will be surprised to find that they will not agree. Still, the difficulties gradually lessen as they are patiently encountered.
It is necessary, of course, to remember that the Jews reckoned parts of years at the beginning and end of the reigns as complete years. This is proved, if proof is needed, by the reigns of Ahaziah and Joram (1 Kings 22:5151Ahaziah the son of Ahab began to reign over Israel in Samaria the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and reigned two years over Israel. (1 Kings 22:51); 2 Kings 1:1717So he died according to the word of the Lord which Elijah had spoken. And Jehoram reigned in his stead in the second year of Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah; because he had no son. (2 Kings 1:17)). Ahaziah is said to begin to reign in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat, and to reign two years; and yet his successor is said to begin to reign in the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat, proving that Ahaziah’s reign of two years could have been only one year and a part of another, or indeed it may have been a few months only of each year. It is proved also in the saying that our Lord was three days and three nights in the tomb, when the actual time was an entire day of twenty-four hours and a part of two other days. Thus, when Scripture says that a king reigned twenty years, it may be right to reckon it only as eighteen entire years, or it may be as nineteen years, or it may be as the full twenty.
It has been thought, too, that Jeroboam, in devising of his own heart (1 Kings 12:3333So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Beth-el the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense. (1 Kings 12:33)) times differing from Judah, also altered the beginning of the year by which the reign of the kings of Israel is reckoned; and this is probable, for the reigns in some instances seem to be a year out, and this would meet the difficulty.
Still, the making due allowance for all these different modes of reckoning will not, in some places, meet the difficulty.
Thus, if we start with Jehoshaphat, he is said to reign twenty-five years.
Ahaziah begins to reign in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat, and reigns two years.
Now, in the ordinary mode of reckoning it falls thus —
17th year is
1st year
18th year is
1st year
19th year is
2nd year
20th year is
3rd year
21st year is
4th year
22nd year is
5th year
23rd year is
6th year
24th year is
7th year
25th year is
8th year
1st year is
9th year
But Jehoram, son of Jehoshaphat, begins to reign in the fifth year of Jehoram, king of Israel, and not in the ninth year as above. And if we suppose that Jehoshaphat’s reign was only twenty-three entire years, this would only bring it to Jehoram’s seventh year. And Jehoram, king of Israel, is said to begin to reign in the second year of Jehoram, son of Jehoshaphat, which is not at all according to the above.
And further, 2 Kings 8:1616And in the fifth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel, Jehoshaphat being then king of Judah, Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah began to reign. (2 Kings 8:16) tells us that Jehoshaphat was still king of Judah when Jehoram, his son, began to reign in the fifth year of Jehoram, king of Israel.
Confused as all this may appear at first sight, it can be made to agree with all the passages, as follows:
914 Jehoshaphat begins to reign in the fourth year of Ahab (1 Kings 22:4141And Jehoshaphat the son of Asa began to reign over Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel. (1 Kings 22:41)), and reigns twenty-three complete years.
And the rest follows correctly, as may be seen in the chronological table.
Similar cases to this occur in other places, which may be made to agree in two ways: either by making the kings to be co-regents, or by placing an interregnum between two kings.
It may seem to be an objection to there being interregnums because Scripture is entirely silent as to them, and as to what occurred during the periods they occupy. But we need not be surprised at this when we observe that some of the entire reigns of the kings occupy only a few verses, and in these interregnums there may have been nothing which the Spirit of God thought well to record.
But there is one passage of Scripture which seems to determine the point, a passage that gives an important inclusive period, and which agrees decidedly better with the interregnums being adopted, if we can rightly interpret the passage.
At first sight this might seem to point out the duration of each kingdom after the division; but this cannot be the meaning of it, for Israel, as a separate nation, existed a much less time than Judah. But it must be noted that in Ezekiel the term “Israel” is often used to denote the nation as a whole, and “Judah” as Judah in distinction.
Thus, from the division of the kingdom in B.C. 975 to the destruction of Jerusalem in 588, we have 388 entire years, or the 390 current years of the above passage, by admitting the commonly adopted interregnums.
The forty years in the above passage is not so easily made out. It was Judah as a separate kingdom that existed the 390 years, and therefore the forty years cannot refer to the duration of that kingdom. It may refer to the period of Manasseh’s reign before his reformation. It is pointed out as the crowning sin of Judah, and for which they were sent into captivity. He not only set up idolatry, but actually brought it into the house of the Lord. And God says, “Because Manasseh, king of Judah, hath done these abominations, and hath done wickedly above all that the Amorites did;... therefore... I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down” (2 Kings 21:1111Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done these abominations, and hath done wickedly above all that the Amorites did, which were before him, and hath made Judah also to sin with his idols: (2 Kings 21:11)-I3).
Now, Ezekiel had to lie forty days, a day for a year, to “bear the iniquity of the house of Judah;” and the reign of Manasseh in all is fifty-five years, so that he may have reigned forty years before his captivity and reformation, and the former part of his reign was emphatically the “iniquity of the house of Judah.”
We therefore feel justified in placing an interregnum of eleven years after Jeroboam II in Israel; and an interval of anarchy of nine years after Hoshea killed Pekah before he began to reign.
Thus from the division of the kingdom to the destruction of Jerusalem is 390 current years or 388 entire years, from B.C. 975 to 588 inclusive. The details will be seen in the tables.
There are a few passages that now call for our attention.
2 Kings 15:3030And Hoshea the son of Elah made a conspiracy against Pekah the son of Remaliah, and smote him, and slew him, and reigned in his stead, in the twentieth year of Jotham the son of Uzziah. (2 Kings 15:30) states that Hoshea killed Pekah in the twentieth year of Jotham. But Jotham reigned only sixteen years, according to verse 33. This difficulty may be met by supposing that, though Jotham reigned only sixteen years, he did not die then; so that, although his son succeeded to the throne at the end of the sixteen years, the time might also be reckoned as the reign of the father while he lived. If this were so, verse 38 would still be true, that “Jotham slept with his fathers,... and Ahaz, his son, reigned in his stead.”
Isaiah 7:88For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin; and within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken, that it be not a people. (Isaiah 7:8). It is here declared that from the time of the alliance of Pekah, king of Israel, with Rezin, king of Damascus, to invade Judah, in sixty-five years Ephraim as a people shall be broken in pieces.
Ephraim is here doubtless put for Israel generally, and this conspiracy would be about B.C. 742. But the taking of Samaria was in 721, which was only twenty-one years afterward. Now, though Samaria was taken thus early, and Israel ceased to exist as a kingdom, the mass of the people being taken captive, yet many may have been left, and Ephraim being “broken that it be not a people,” may refer to when Esarhaddon planted a colony of foreigners in Samaria (2 Kings 17:2424And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof. (2 Kings 17:24); Ezra 4:2,102Then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esar-haddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither. (Ezra 4:2)
10And the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Asnappar brought over, and set in the cities of Samaria, and the rest that are on this side the river, and at such a time. (Ezra 4:10)
). This would be in B.C. 678, which is just sixty-five years from 742.
The dates of Ezekiel are mostly reckoned from the captivity in 599, when Jehoiachin was carried away, and not from the first captivity, in 606. This is proved by Ezekiel 40:11In the five and twentieth year of our captivity, in the beginning of the year, in the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after that the city was smitten, in the selfsame day the hand of the Lord was upon me, and brought me thither. (Ezekiel 40:1), which speaks of the twenty-fifth year of the captivity as being fourteen years after the city was smitten. Thus, the twenty-fifth year from 599 is 574; and fourteen years from 588, when Jerusalem was destroyed, is 574 also.
Ezekiel 33:2121And it came to pass in the twelfth year of our captivity, in the tenth month, in the fifth day of the month, that one that had escaped out of Jerusalem came unto me, saying, The city is smitten. (Ezekiel 33:21). In the twelfth year of their captivity one came and told the prophet that Jerusalem was smitten. The twelfth year of their captivity would be 588, and this is the year of the destruction of the city.
It is generally thought that this thirty years is reckoned from the passover of Josiah (in his eighteenth year, 624) when the book was read, and the threat of captivity was reiterated (2 Kings 22:16,1716Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah hath read: 17Because they have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore my wrath shall be kindled against this place, and shall not be quenched. (2 Kings 22:16‑17)). But it is difficult to account for why this circumstance should be fixed on as a period to date from. Is it not much more probable that this date is reckoned from the founding of the Babylonian kingdom by Nabopolassar; that is, that it would be the common date of the kingdom in which they then were? It was founded in 625, and their year 30 would be 595, and this would be the fifth year of Jehoiachin’s captivity.
Jerermiah 32:1 The tenth year of Zedekiah was the eighteenth of Nebuchadnezzar (589).
The links of events in this period are — Israel is in peace and great prosperity under Solomon. The temple is finished and dedicated, and the glory of the Lord fills the house. But failure again comes in, and Solomon falls into idolatry. In consequence of this, at his death, the kingdom is rent in twain, forming the separate kingdoms of Judah and Israel. Both kingdoms fail, and certain prophets are sent to them; but their repeated sins at length bring down upon them the judgment of God. Samaria is taken, and Israel carried away captive. Then Judah is carried away, and Jerusalem and the temple are destroyed. Thus the kingdom of Israel, as a nation, is swept away.