The Divided Kingdom
by Molly Noble Bull
In my opinion, certain Bible facts are not clearly explained in Christian religious services today. Yet a lack of knowledge of these scriptures prevents Christians from fully understanding the Bible. One of these topics is known as the Divided Kingdom.
The Book of Genesis explains in chapters 22 to 50 that Abraham begot Isaac, and Isaac begot twin boys, Jacob and Esau. Of the two, God loved Jacob best.
Jacob fell in love with a lovely young woman named Rachel, and her father promised to give her to Jacob in marriage, if Jacob worked for him for seven years. Jacob agreed to these terms, but at the end of the seven years, Jacob was given Leah, Rachel’s older sister, instead. He had to work another seven years to get Rachel.
So Jacob had two wives, Rachel and Leah, and he also had some concubines. But he loved Rachel best. Therefore, it is not surprising that he loved Joseph more than his other sons because Joseph’s mother was Rachel, and he gave Joseph a coat of many colors. Later, Jacob and Rachel had a second son, Benjamin, but Rachel died in childbirth having Benjamin. His wives and concubines gave Jacob twelve sons plus Levi, and Levi headed the priestly tribe.
And God changed Jacob’s name to Israel. (See Genesis 32: 28.)
Each of Jacob/Israel’s sons headed a tribe—called the twelve tribes of Israel.
You might also want to read Jacob/Israel’s prophecy concerning his sons found in Genesis, chapter 49.
Jacob’s descendants were called the children of Israel—later called the Nation of Israel.
The Nation of Israel’s first king was Saul. But King David soon replaced Saul as King of Israel. When King David died, his son, Solomon, became King. But after King Solomon died, his son Rehoboam reigned as king.
During Rehoboam’s reign, the twelve tribes were divided—the result of a sort of civil war. (1 King 12: 1-43 and 1 Kings 13: 1-10) The southern tribes were made up of Judah, Benjamin and the Levites. Since Judah was the main tribe in this group of three, the southern tribes were called Judah, and their capitol was Jerusalem. Rehoboam remained king in the southern tribes, and later, the name was shorted from Judah to Jew or the Jews.
The tribe of Joseph was the main tribe of the ten northern tribes, and Jeroboam reigned as their king. In the Bible, the northern tribes are called Joseph, but they are also called Ephraim and Israel. Some from the northern tribes turned away from God and worshipped at Bethel instead of at the Temple at Jerusalem. (1 Kings 12: 16-33)
Both the tribes of Judah and the tribes of Israel were eventually captured by their enemies and led away into slavery. Israel was taken to Assyria, and Judah was taken to Babylon— modern day Iraq. The tribes of Judah (the Jews) were eventually released and allowed to return to Jerusalem to build the second Temple. But the ten northern tribes were never seen again—until fairly recently when some (but not all) were found. The recent discovery of some of the lost tribes is another reason we know that Jesus is coming soon. However, most of the ten tribes are still lost. Only God knows where the descendants of the northern tribes are located today.
Knowing the facts about the tribes of Judah and Joseph/Ephraim/Israel makes it easier to understand Ezekiel chapter 37 and other scripture verses.
Ezekiel 37: 15-17 says,
And the word of the Lord came again unto me, saying,
Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write on it For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write on it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for the House of Israel his companions.
And join them together into one stick, and they shall become one in thine hand.
Ezekiel 37: 20-22 says,
And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes.
Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land:
And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all.