In our class on Kings, we often read that such and such a king was as evil as Jeroboam son of Nebat, and/or will suffer his fate. For example, after King Ahab’s wife Jezebel has Naboth killed, and Ahab takes possession of Naboth’s vineyard, the prophet Elijah says to Ahab:
Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will utterly sweep thee away, and will cut off from Ahab every manchild, and him that is shut up and him that is left at large in Israel. And I will make thy house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasa the son of Ahijah, for the provocation wherewith thou hast provoked Me, and hast made Israel to sin. [I Kgs 21:21-22].
In seeking to understand exactly what Jeroboam did that was so nefarious, one class member suggested that it might be related to the way in which King Ahab and Queen Jezebel tried to alienate Naboth from his vineyard, from the inheritance [nachalah] of his ancestors. For in this matter, Jezebel and Ahab are subject to the same curse and manner of death as Jeroboam.
Jeroboam enters our narrative as he raises up his hand against King Solomon [I Kgs 11:26] and runs to Egypt to escape being killed by Solomon. After Solomon’s death, Jeroboam is called back to be the leader of the opposition in the north to Solomon’s son and heir apparent, Rehoboam.
Rehoboam refuses to promise the northern tribes that he will remove from them the burden of taxation and forced labor imposed upon them by Solomon. When the northern tribes (called Israel) see that Rehoboam will not harken to them, they say to King Rehoboam (who is the representative of the house of David, son of Jesse):
‘What portion [chelek] have we in David? neither have we inheritance [nachalah] in the son of Jesse; to your tents, O Israel; now see to thine own house, David. [I Kgs 12:16]
And here we have the beginning of the division of the monarchy into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. Certainly Jeroboam will be remembered for more than one nefarious deed – we have not even mentioned his encouraging the people to bring the golden calves into their worship (join us on March 25th as we study Jeroboam and the calf worship). Yet it seems that there is a clear connection between Ahab who alienates Naboth from the inheritance [nachalah] of his ancestors, and Jeroboam whose leadership results in the northern tribes losing the inheritance [nachalah] of the house of David. We understand why Ahab therefore will suffer the same fate as Jeroboam.