930 - 913 B.C.
Beginning of the Battles
1Kings 11 - 12
When King Solomon was old, the many foreign wives he collected led his heart away from fully worshipping God toward the worship of many vile false gods (1Kings 11:1 - 10). God declared the punishment for such sins would be to split the united kingdom of Israel into two pieces after his death (verses 11 - 13).
When Rehoboam, Solomon's son, takes the throne in 930, he refuses to lower the incredibly high taxes levied by his father (1Kings 12). Ten of the tribes rebel and form their own separate nation. The newly formed Kingdom of Israel is headed by King Jeroboam. Rehoboam is left with only governing the Jews (Judah, Benjamin and the priestly tribe of Levi) known as the Kingdom of Judah.
Rehoboam initially raises a Jewish army of 180,000 warriors (1Kings 12:21) to bring the rebellious tribes back under his reign. His plans are thwarted, however, when a prophet named Shemaiah makes a public proclamation that the splitting of the united kingdom is God's will and therefore they must not attack their brethren (1Kings 12:22 - 24).
Even though Rehoboam does not launch a full-scale attack, the Bible states in several places that a state of war existed between the Jews and Israel during his entire reign.
And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all their days (1Kings 14:30, see also 15:6 and 2Chronicles 12:15).
While there is no Biblical record that an all-out aggressive war took place, many smaller battles and border conflicts occurred between Jeroboam and Rehoboam.
913 - 910
Surprise Defeat of Israel!
2Chronicles 13, 1Kings 15:7
Abijah assumes the throne over Judah when he father Rehoboam dies in 913. His ascension, however, does not stop the ongoing simmering hostilities the kingdom has with Israel's King Jeroboam (1Kings 15:7). These hostilities will continue during Abijah's entire reign of three years.
In Abijah's first year of rule, he gathers 400,000 fighting men and journeys to Israelite territory near Mount Zemaraim. When he arrives, in the valley below him, lies Jeroboam's forces numbering 800,000. Abijah, shouting from the mount, criticizes his enemy and accuses him of causing Israel to split.
Jeroboam, during Abijah's taunts, commands some of his forces to sneak behind the Jews. He then has them launch an ambush from behind Judah's camp, completing surprising Abijah's military and forcing them to fight on two fronts.
The Jews begin to panic and cry out to the Lord for help. God not only hears their desperate cries he comes to the rescue! Abijah not only routes the far superior numbers of Jeroboam's military, he causes Israel to sustain a mind blowing 500,000 casualties (2Chronicles 13:17). He also takes control of several border cities including Bethel (verse 19).
908 - 886
Desperation of the Jews
1Kings 15:16 - 22, 2Chronicles 16:1 - 6
The Bible reveals that a state of civil war continued to exist during the reigns of King Baasha of Israel and Judah's King Asa (1Kings 15:16), both of which were the third rulers of their kingdoms. Baasha ruled from 908 to 886 while Asa ruled from 910 to 869.
King Asa, in 895, with God's help repels an invading force at Mareshah (roughly 25 to 30 miles (40 to 48 kilometers) southwest of Jerusalem). His astonishing victory (2Chronicles 14:8 - 13), against an army that is almost double his, attracts the attention of those living in the land. They begin to migrate south, "for they fell to him (Asa) out of Israel in great numbers, when they saw that the Lord his God was with him" (2Chronicles 15:9).
Baasha, in response to his subjects leaving his kingdom, attacks Asa and takes the city of Ramah located in Benjamite territory (Joshua 18:25, 1Kings 15:17). He then begins to fortify the border town, which is only 6 miles (9.6 kilometers) north of Jerusalem, so that no one can leave or enter the kingdom of the Jews (2Chronicles 16:1).
Asa's desperate response to the taking and fortification of Ramah is to contact Syrian King Ben-Hadad living in Damascus. He quickly sends him any gold and silver he can find along with a message begging Ben-Hadad to break his defense treaty with Baasha and make one with him.
Ben-Hadad accepts Asa's bribe and subsequently attacks several cities in the northern part of Israel. He conquers the cities of Dan, Abel Bethmaacah, Ijon and others within the general territory of Naphtali. These attacks divert Baasha's attention away from Ramah and he stops fortifying the city.
Asa, seizing on an opportunity, makes a proclamation commanding all Jews come to Ramah (1Kings 15:22). Once in the city, the people reclaim the stones and other materials used to fortify it and take them to strengthen Geba and Mizpah.
Judah's Foolish Challenge!
2Kings 14:5 - 14
Judah's King Amaziah, feeling confident and cocky after killing 10,000 Edomites in the valley of salt, challenges King Jehoash of Israel to battle him. Jehoash's warning (2Kings 14:9 - 10) that any war with him would result in the Jews being severely beaten is rejected.
Israel, striking first, attacks Beth-shemesh (roughly 15 miles or 24 kilometers west of Jerusalem) and overwhelms the Jews. Jehoash not only breaks down a large chunk of Jerusalem's wall, he also takes all the silver and gold he can find in Amaziah's treasury and at the temple (2Kings 12:18, 14:13 - 14). Adding to the misery, he captures an unknown number of people, along with King Amaziah himself, and takes them to Samaria.
The Bible reveals that God allowed Amaziah to be militarily humiliated as punishment for bringing back idols from Edom and worshipping them as gods (see 2Chronicles 25:14 - 16, 20).
Asking the Pagans for Help
2Kings 15:37, 16:5 - 9, Isaiah 7:1 - 9
Israel's King Pekah, desiring to enter into a war with the Jews, solicits the help of Aram's (Syria's) King Rezin. Together, they attack King Ahaz in Jerusalem but are unable to dislodge him from the city.
Ahaz, still fearful of the alliance against him, appeals to Assyria's King Tiglath-pileser for help. Along with sending Assyria as much gold and silver as he can find in the city, he pleads with the still ascending world empire to rescue him.
I (Ahaz) am your servant and your son. March up and save me from the power of the king of Aram (Syria) and of the king of Israel, who are rising up against me (2Kings 16:7, HCSB).
Ahaz's appeal to stop future battles works. In 732 B.C., the Assyrians (the same people who will conquer Samaria and take Israel captive in 723) save the Jews by marching on Damascus, conquering the city, and executing Rezin.