Kingship: 931-910 BC
Age: There is no mention of age but Jeroboam reigned for a total of 22 years
Contemporaries: King Rehoboam, King Abijah, King Asa
Son: King Nadab
Found in scripture: 1 Kings 11-15, 2 Chronicles 10-11
It should be noted to start that there are two King Jeroboam’s in the Bible. This is about the first King Jeroboam who followed after Solomon and was the first king of the northern kingdom of Israel. The other King Jeroboam is sometimes referred to as Jeroboam II. He ruled the southern kingdom of Judah approximately 150 years later.
In 1 Kings 11, it is prophesied that Jeroboam would be king following Solomon. Specifically, Ahijah the prophet informed Jeroboam that the nation of Israel would be split and that he would rule over ten tribes. For David’s sake his descendants would continue to rule in Jerusalem but because of Solomon’s idolatry and sin, the kingdom would be torn in two.
The Lord went on to say through the prophet that if Jeroboam followed Him and walked in His ways, He would establish Jeroboam’s kingdom as a dynasty as enduring as the one given to David.
Needless to say, when word of this reached Solomon, it didn’t go well and Jeroboam was forced to flee for his life. Following Solomon’s death, his son Rehoboam becomes king but the people rebel against him and instead rally behind Jeroboam who had returned from exile. See the article on the split of Israel and Judah for the full details concerning this.
King Jeroboam makes a crucial mistake early on in his kingship. Because the temple remains in the southern kingdom of Judah, he is afraid that the people will return to the nation if they continue to worship in Jerusalem. So instead he constructs golden calves on high places in the cities Dan and Bethel. Because he did this, it led to his downfall and his family line was destroyed.
1 Kings 14 records a prophecy against Jeroboam. When his son became sick, he sent his wife in disguise to the prophet Ahijah who then was old and had lost his sight. Nevertheless the Lord instructed him. He declared that not only would Jeroboam’s son die the moment that his mother returned home, but all of his household would be destroyed. Even then, the Lord was raising up the one who would take over and destroy his household.
Jeroboam dies and his son Nadab takes over the throne from him. It is not long that the prophecy concerning Jeroboam’s family comes true though. In only Nadab’s second year as king, he is killed by Baasha. Baasha then becomes king and systematically goes about killing all of Jeroboam’s family in accordance with prophecy.
In the end, Jeroboam’s life had so much promise as the Lord had selected him to become king and had made him a promise to bless him if he acted righteously. Instead Jeroboam led the people into idolatry. Throughout the book of Kings Jeroboam is held up as a negative example and those who did evil were said to walk in the ways of Jeroboam. His legacy is not a good one in the end.