Israel was split in two because King Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord. We read in 1 Kings 11:6-13, “Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and did not follow the LORD fully, as David his father had done. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable idol of Moab, on the mountain which is east of Jerusalem, and for Molech the detestable idol of the sons of Ammon. Thus also he did for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods. Now the LORD was angry with Solomon because his heart was turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he did not observe what the LORD had commanded. So the LORD said to Solomon, ‘Because you have done this, and you have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you, and will give it to your servant. Nevertheless I will not do it in your days for the sake of your father David, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son for the sake of My servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen’” (NASB).

Jeroboam was God’s choice to rule over the ten northern tribes. We read in 1 Kings 11:29-37, “It came about at that time, when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him on the road. Now Ahijah had clothed himself with a new cloak; and both of them were alone in the field. Then Ahijah took hold of the new cloak which was on him and tore it into twelve pieces. He said to Jeroboam, ‘Take for yourself ten pieces; for thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Behold, I will tear the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon and give you ten tribes (but he will have one tribe, for the sake of My servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen from all the tribes of Israel), because they have forsaken Me, and have worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of Moab, and Milcom the god of the sons of Ammon; and they have not walked in My ways, doing what is right in My sight and observing My statutes and My ordinances, as his father David did. Nevertheless I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand, but I will make him ruler all the days of his life, for the sake of My servant David whom I chose, who observed My commandments and My statutes; but I will take the kingdom from his son’s hand and give it to you, even ten tribes. But to his son I will give one tribe, that My servant David may have a lamp always before Me in Jerusalem, the city where I have chosen for Myself to put My name. I will take you, and you shall reign over whatever you desire, and you shall be king over Israel’” (NASB).

As mentioned in the first sentence, the root cause for the division of Israel into ten northern tribes and two southern tribes is that Solomon turned away from the Lord and followed other gods. However, the split came to fruition as a result of how Rehoboam answered the ten northern tribes. We read in 1 Kings 12:3-4, “And Jeroboam and all the congregation of Israel came, and spake unto Rehoboam, saying, Thy father made our yoke grievous: now therefore make thou the grievous service of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter, and we will serve thee.” In deciding how to respond, Rehoboam took the advice of the young men instead of the wiser old men. We read in 1 Kings 12:13-17, “And the king answered the people roughly, and forsook the old men’s counsel that they gave him; And spake to them after the counsel of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions. Wherefore the king hearkened not unto the people; for the cause was from the LORD, that he might perform his saying, which the LORD spake by Ahijah the Shilonite unto Jeroboam the son of Nebat. So when all Israel saw that the king hearkened not unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David. So Israel departed unto their tents. But as for the children of Israel which dwelt in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them.”

We know that there are a total of 12 tribes of Israel because the Scriptures tell us that this is true. The Lord Jesus tells His disciples in Matthew 19:28, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” 1 Kings 11:13,32,36, quoted above, speak of one tribe that would be kept in the line of David, Solomon, Rehoboam, etc. Adding the ten tribes that were given to Jeroboam with one tribe equals 11 tribes instead of 12. However, this problem is easily solved when we remember that God had already promised to David that the kingdom would be established forever after him. The Lord said to David through Nathan the prophet in 2 Samuel 7:16, “Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever” (NASB). Therefore, the tribe that David came from, Judah, would have been taken for granted. The Lord is speaking of the tribe of Benjamin when He says that He will give one tribe to Rehoboam in 1 Kings 11:13.

The tribes of Judah and Benjamin make up the southern kingdom. We read in 1 Kings 12:21-24, “And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah, with the tribe of Benjamin, an hundred and fourscore thousand chosen men, which were warriors, to fight against the house of Israel, to bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam the son of Solomon. But the word of God came unto Shemaiah the man of God, saying, Speak unto Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and unto all the house of Judah and Benjamin, and to the remnant of the people, saying, Thus saith the LORD, Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel: return every man to his house; for this thing is from me. They hearkened therefore to the word of the LORD, and returned to depart, according to the word of the LORD.”

It is sad that Israel was split into two kingdoms. However, there is good news for the future! When the Lord Jesus comes to reign over this earth, the ten tribes of Israel will be reunited with the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. We read in Ezekiel 37:21-22, “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.” What a God we have! Just as His purposes were carried out in dividing Israel, so His purposes will be carried with the REUNITING of Israel. Christ will reign over a reunited nation of Israel. All praise to our wonderful God!  (470.6)  (DJ)