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Jeroboam II

JEROBOAM II, son of *Joash, king of Israel (789–748 B.C.E.; see *Chronology). He was the greatest ruler of the dynasty of Jehu. It seems that his father associated him in the kingship in the last two years of his reign and that these years are included in the 41 regnal years ascribed to Jeroboam. During those two years, his father probably entrusted him with the command of the Israelite armies in their wars against *Aram-Damascus. Aram-Damascus's decline in power after the campaigns of kings Adad-Nirari III and Shalmaneser IV, the kings of Assyria, into northern and central Syria enabled Joash and his son Jeroboam not only to capture for Israel those territories which had been conquered from her near the end of the reign of Jehu and during the reign of Jehoahaz, but also to gain supremacy over non-Israelite territories which had probably come under the rule of Aram close to the time of Solomon's death. The biblical tradition relates about his war against Aram-Damascus that Jeroboam "restored the border of Israel from Lebo-Hamath unto the sea of the Arabah [i.e., the Dead Sea] in accordance with the word of the YHWH, the god of Israel … YHWH … delivered [Israel] through Jeroboam the son of Joash" (II Kings 14:25–27). Jeroboam's expansion as far as Hamath in central Syria would have required Assyrian acquiescence (Cogan and Tadmor, 163.) His victories reestablished the territorial limits attributed to *Solomon. (It is not impossible that Jeroboam's victories inspired the exaggerated claims made for Solomon). These expansionist wars probably took place in the early and middle years of Jeroboam's reign (Cogan and Tadmor, 164).

According to one opinion, the relations between Jeroboam and his other neighbors were not orderly. There is no evidence that the strained relations with Tyre, following Jehu's liquidation of the revolt of the Omri dynasty, which was allied to the kings of Tyre by marriage, ever improved. Moreover, there was no economic incentive for the renewal of relations between Tyre and Israel (see *Ahab, *Jehoshaphat, *Solomon). In addition, the relations between Israel and Judah had been complicated ever since Joash's victory over King *Amaziah of Judah on the battlefield and the destruction of a section of Jerusalem's fortifications after his victory. In the meantime Judah had gained in strength during the reign of *Uzziah, especially during the period of *Jotham's regency. It also seems that Judah conquered Rabbath Ammon and even gained control over the southern part of the King's Highway in Transjordan by which commerce was led from southern Arabia to Syria and Mesopotamia. *Pekah son of Remaliah, who was a Gileadite and governor of Transjordan under Jeroboam, had gained control of Transjordan as early as in the reign of Jeroboam. This division of Israel was desired by Aram and Judah, and they probably incited Pekah in this direction. According to other opinions, there were peaceful relations between Israel and Judah – hence the prosperity of Judah and the beginning of its political and military importance. Some argue that extensive cooperation between the two kingdoms can also be proved from the combined census carried out on the territory east of the Jordan (I Chron. 5:17). But while not chronologically impossible, the Chronicles passage is historically dubious (Japhet, 137–38). It would seem that the signs of prosperity increased with the influence over these widespread territories. The king distributed the lands among his loyal friends and favorites, and this probably spawned a wealthy class of landowners in Transjordan and other places against whom the prophet *Amos protested. According to the testimony of Amaziah the priest in Amos 7:11 (cf. Amos 7:9), the prophet prophesied (inaccurately, it turns out) that Jeroboam would die by the sword. The Book of Amos gives us an insight into the social and economic conditions during the reign of Jeroboam.

From the limited information given in the Bible, it seems that Jeroboam II was a gifted commander and an able organizer who succeeded in elevating the kingdom of Israel to a last climax before its fall. In the tradition of the Judahite redactors of the northern sources preserved in the Bible, Jeroboam is adjudged a king who "departed not from all the sins that Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, made Israel to sin" (II Kings 14:24). However, his loyalty to YHWH can be deduced not only from the name of his son Zechariah (Heb. "Remembered by YHWH") but also from the prophecies of "the prophet Jonah son of Amittai of Gath-Hepher" (ibid., 14:25), who encouraged Jeroboam in his wars and prophesied his victory. It is unfortunate that these prophecies are not preserved. A stamp seal depicting a lion and reading lšm ʿ ʿ bd yrb ʿ m, "Property of Shema, servant of Jeroboam," was found at Megiddo (Cogan and Tadmor, pl. 12a).


Bright, Hist, 238–9, 244–5, 252–3; E.R. Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings (1951), 69, 288ff; M. Vogelstein, Jerobeam II (1945); M. Noth, Geschichte Israels (19563), 227–8; Kittel, Gesch, 2 (1922), 346–7; E. Auerbach, Wüste und gelobtes Land, 2 (1936), 86ff.; Haran, in: VT, 17 (1967), 266–97. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB; 1988); S. Japhet, I & II Chronicles (1993); K. Whitelam, in: ABD, 3:75–76.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.