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Archive for March, 2015

God is not named even once in the book of Esther. And yet this story is really all about God and His sovereignty. This story relates how God took care of His people even in captivity. The Israelites were in captivity in Babylon because of their sin and rebellion in worshipping other gods while in the Promised Land. God punished them by allowing the Babylonians to carry them off out of the Promised Land and into captivity. But God did not forget them any more than He forgot His people when they were in captivity in Egypt 700 years before this.

God used Moses to lead His people out of the Egyptian captivity and into the Promised Land. He warned them that if they continued to sin against Him by worshipping other gods, they would be punished. He punished them by sending enemies to defeat them and carry them off into captivity.

God still loved His people and would preserve them in the land of Babylon. He would save them through the faithfulness of a woman this time – Esther. Later God would lead a remnant of the people back to the Promised Land during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah.

“Then let the young lady who pleases the king be queen in place of Vashti.” And the matter pleased the king, and he did accordingly. … A Jew named Mordecai… was bringing up Hadassah, that is Esther, his uncle’s daughter, for she had no father or mother. Now the young lady was beautiful of form and face, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter. (Esther 2:4-7)

So Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus to his royal palace in the tenth month which is the month Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign. The king loved Esther more than all the women, and she found favor and kindness with him more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. (Esther 2:16,17)

In last week’s story, King Ahasuerus had deposed his beautiful and virtuous queen Vashti. Eventually his anger over being rebuffed by this gracious woman subsided and he sought to get himself another wife. His advisors came up with a great idea, one sure to please this selfish, lecherous king. Let the king choose from among all of the beautiful virgins in the land by selecting the one that pleased him the most in the royal bed. King or not, this sin is horrible in the extreme. We must not underestimate the wickedness of the king’s actions.

esther's royal robesAnd so, King Ahasuerus chose Esther to be his queen. He apparently loved her very much. Perhaps Esther’s inner qualities of beauty stood out from among the rest of the women. She was certainly an obedient child in Mordecai’s care. Esther followed Mordecai’s command to keep her kindred a secret. If the king had known she was a Jew, he would not have been pleased.

Esther proved not only her faithfulness, but also her courage while she was queen. Soon after Esther became queen, Mordecai uncovered a plot to assassinate the king. He told Esther about it and she in turn told King Ahasuerus about the conspiracy. The incident was recorded in the king’s chronicles. At this time nothing was done to reward Mordecai.

During this time, the king’s highest official in the land was a wicked man named Haman. He hated the Jews and especially Mordecai. Mordecai refused to bow down when Haman passed by and this infuriated Haman.

To get revenge, Haman came up with a plan to exterminate all of the Jews throughout every place in the Babylonian kingdom. King Ahasuerus went along with Haman’s plot and the two of them set a specific date for the genocide.

Letters were sent throughout all of the land so the people would be ready to kill all of the Jews on the specified date. Mordecai learned about the plans and went to Esther immediately.

Esther was alarmed but she was not sure what she could do to help. If she tried to talk to King Ahasuerus without his permission, she could be killed.

Mordecai challenged her with these words –

Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this? (Esther 4:13,14)

Esther told Mordecai to have the Israelites fast and pray for three days and she and her maidsesther fasts and prays would do the same. She dared not approach the all-powerful king without the Lord’s protection. Here we see the hand of God in the background even though He is not mentioned by name. Esther and Mordecai had the faith to believe that God would preserve His people.

Taking her life into her hands, Esther approached the king. She had come up with a carefully devised plan that would save the king’s face while undoing the wicked Haman’s plot. She had several banquets designed to please the king. Haman was the only one invited. Haman was feeling mighty important and he even had a gallows constructed on which to hang his enemy Mordecai.

In the meantime, God intervened. One night the king couldn’t sleep and had his chronicles read to him. He found out about the plot to assassinate him and that somebody named Mordecai had saved his life. He asked his officials, “What had been done for Mordecai?”
“Nothing has been done for him,” they replied.

The king decided to honor Mordecai and asked Haman, “What is to be done for the man whom the king desires to honor?” Naturally Haman thought the king meant him and so he advised the king to honor the man who saved the king greatly. How mortified Haman was when it was Mordecai who was honored!

esther's banquetAt the second banquet the king asked Esther what he could do for her. She admitted that her people were the Jews and that there was a plot to have them annihilated. The king (who apparently did not remember that he was involved with Haman) was outraged and asked Esther what should be done. She asked that the tables be turned on the perpetrators. She denounced Haman as the enemy. Haman was hanged on the gallows he had built for Mordecai and all of Haman’s possessions and titles were given to Mordecai.

The king decreed that the Jews were allowed to defend themselves. They would be allowed to destroy any army that tried to fight them and the Jews would be allowed to take the plunder for themselves.

The Jews rid themselves of all of their enemies and rejoiced in their deliverance. They instituted the festival of Purim. It is still celebrated to this day.

God had made Esther queen in order to meet the challenge that Haman constructed. Esther showed wisdom, patience, and much courage to do her part. She relied on God for His help. When we find ourselves in strenuous circumstances we should remember that God might have reasons for the difficulties we face. We can follow Esther’s example of seeking God’s face with fasting and praying and then totally trusting Him to lead us to do His will.

 

 

 

 

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Now it took place in the days of Ahasuerus, the Ahasuerus who reigned from India to
Ethiopa over 127 provinces, in those days as King Ahasuerus sat on his royal throne which was at the citadel in Susa, in the third year of his reign he gave a banquet for all his princes and attendants, the army officers of Persia and Media, the nobles and the princes of his provinces being in his presence… And he displayed the riches of his royal glory and the splendor of his great majesty for many days, 180 days. When these days were completed, the king gave a banquet lasting seven days for all the people who were present at the citadel in Susa, from the greatest to the least, in the court of the garden of the kings’ palace. …

MHH_map_Persian-Empire_500-BC
Queen Vashti also gave a banquet for the women in the palace which belonged to King Ahasuerus. On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar and Carkas, the seven eunuchs who served in the presence of King Ahasuerus, to bring Queen Vashti before the king with her royal crown in order to display her beauty to the people and the princes, for she was beautiful. But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command delivered by the eunuchs. Then the king became very angry and his wrath burned within him.
(Esther 1:1-12)

Originally I was going to put Queen Vashti’s story with the stories of two other “evil” queens in the Old Testament. Vashti has generally been portrayed in a negative fashion and so my thought was to include her along with the other two “bad” queens, Jezebel (See post August, 2010) and Athalia (See post March, 2015).

Queen Vashti has been the poster woman for bad wives for many years. According to most sermons one hears, what happened to Vashti is a warning to all disobedient wives. After all, men have the right to expect their wives to obey no matter what.

So I was taught that Vashti was an arrogant, disobedient, ungrateful queen, but now I have studied the facts and I have a different opinion.

The bible says that King Ahasuerus wanted Queen Vashti to come into the court and display her beauty. At first, this doesn’t sound too bad.

However, historians tell us what went on at these Eastern banquets. The drunken friends of Ahasuerus were probably indulging in the pleasures of naked women for many days. The wine sodden Ahasuerus was insulting Queen Vashti by demanding that she appear, some say, wearing nothing but her crown.

Even if Vashti was not to appear naked in front of the king’s drunken friends there were other reasons for her to refuse.

  1. Queens usually appeared with the kings at festivals and sat beside them. However, if there was to be rioting and drinking, the queen was usually sent away and the king’s concubines participated instead. Perhaps Vashti refused to go to the king when his servants came to get her because the servants should have known that the queen was to be in seclusion while the orgy was going on. The queen did not have to lower herself to the position of the concubines or harlots at the banquet.
  2. Only the king had the right to gaze at his wife’s beauty. Vashti refused to debase herself by appearing in front of all the other drunken men. Though she knew she would anger the king, his command to her to appear offended her sense of propriety too much. Not only did the king’s demand lower her dignity as a queen, it was insulting to her as a modest woman.

Yes, wives are to obey their husbands generally. But wives do not need to obey if the husband Vashti refuses Ahasuerusis commanding sinful activity that goes against God’s laws. Ahasuerus was demanding his virtuous queen to be sinful. Vashti was very courageous to refuse her drunken husband’s command. In this case her disobedience is to be praised!

Vashti’s disobedience made the king very angry. His advisors came up with a plan that basically gave the king revenge on her. One of the king’s clever “yes-men” said to the king:

Queen Vashti has wronged not only the king but also all the princes and all the people who are in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus. For the queen’s conduct will become known to all the women causing them to look with contempt on their husbands by saying, “King Ahasuerus commanded Queen Vashti to be brought in to this presence, but she did not come.” This day the ladies of Persian and Media who have heard of the queen’s conduct will speak in the same way to all the king’s princes and there will be plenty of contempt and anger. (Esther 1:16-18)

This advice pleased the king of course. He acted immediately to protect husbands everywhere from disobedient wives. He sent letters throughout all of his provinces demanding that all women give honor to their husbands, great and small. This command is very humorous in light of the fact that Persian law already proclaimed that the husband was the master in his household. Husbandly rule in the household was already a well-established custom throughout the Eastern world.

Another aspect of this action that does not “ring true” is that immediately upon deposing Vashti, Ahahuerus was able to pick out another queen. The selection process for this queen would basically be a beauty contest. King Ahasuerus would test each and every virgin out in the royal bed. What a delightful solution for his dilemma.

That new queen of course would be Esther. I do not mean to take anything away from Esther’s obedience to her uncle and to God. She was faithful and God used her in His sovereign plan to rescue the Jews. Queen Vashti’s refusal to obey Ahasuerus was a part of God’s plan also. God used this situation to preserve His people while they were in exile for their own disobedience.

What can we learn from Queen Vashti? Should she be the poster child for disobedient wives? I don’t think so. Queen Vashti chose to risk the king’s anger rather than exhibit herself in a demeaning fashion and lose her modest dignity. Her own conscience was higher than the debauched demand of her husband. Along with her regal charm and beauty, her husband should have noticed that this woman was a woman of character. Ahasuerus sinned against Vashti. Queen Vashti had the courage of her convictions in the face of losing her position. She is to be admired for honoring the dignity of women’s modesty and for maintaining her self-respect.

Christian women today can follow Vashti’s example to honor the life that God has given them. Christian women can be careful about modesty and refuse to wear clothes that are immodest just because they are fashionable. Though women with high ideals may be ridiculed for their “old fashioned” values, women of courage who are after God’s heart will stand up to the ridicule and preserve God’s laws and their dignity.

We do not know if Vashti ever became a God-fearer, but her high idealism is an example for us even in this day of irresponsible moral values.

 

 

 

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Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Athaliah the granddaughter of Omri king of Israel. (2 Kings 8:26)

Athaliah was the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. She was born a princess in Israel (the Northern Kingdom). Her parents arranged a marriage for her with Jehoram, king of Judah (the Southern Kingdom). Jehoram was the son of the godly king Jehoshaphat who was the king of Judah at that time.

In those days countries often sealed alliances by arranging marriages between their royal children. But we have to wonder why Jehoshaphat made this arranged marriage between his son and the daughter of the evil Ahab and Jezebel. Didn’t he realize that the daughter of the wicked Jezebel might not be a good influence on his son?

And indeed, Jehoram did not honor God but followed the ways of the evil kings of Israel because “the daughter of Ahab (Athaliah) became his wife” (2Kings 8:18). Though this marriage between Jehoram and Athaliah was evil, God would still sovereignly protect David’s line in Judah as He promised. Though Jehoram only did evil in the sight of the Lord, God did not completely destroy him as he often did the kings and queens in the Northern Kingdom. This was because of God’s covenant with David.

Jehoram reigned eight years and then died. His son Ahaziah became king. But Ahaziah was assassinated after only reigning one year.

During these nine years that her husband Jehoram and son Ahaziah were reigning, Queen Athaliah’s mother Jezebel was still doing as much evil as she could up in the Northern Kingdom.

baal-worshipRecall that while Ahab was alive, he and Queen Jezebel tried to make Baal the god in Israel. They murdered many of God’s prophets and set up their own. Jezebel fought against Elijah because with the true God’s help, Elijah had made a mockery of the prophets of Baal. (See I Kings 18.) Eventually Ahab died. Elijah prophesied that Jezebel would die a horrible death, cursed of God. Elijah said, “The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.” (I Kings. 21:23) This would come to pass later.

There were several men who became king in the Northern Kingdom after Ahab’s death. One king was Jehu. Jehu fought and killed Ahaziah, who was after all Jezebel’s grandson through her daughter Athaliah. After defeating Ahaziah, Jehu went to Jezreel. Jezebel heard that he was coming and “painted her eyes and adorned her head and looked out the window. As Jehu entered he gate, she said, ‘Is it well, Zimri (a traitor who became king by killing the previous king. See below.), your master’s murderer?’”

Now was the time that Elijah’s prophecy would be fulfilled. Jehu asked two or three officials tojezebel thrown from wall throw Jezebel off of a high wall. “So they threw her down, and some of her blood was sprinkled on the wall and on the horses, and he trampled her under foot.” Jehu realized that Jezebel was after all a king’s daughter and should have a proper burial. He sent men to get her to bury her, “but they found nothing more of her than the skull and the feet and the palms of her hands.” (2 Kings 9:33-35) The dogs had eaten Jezebel’s corpse.

Surely, Athaliah must have known how her mother died. Why wasn’t this a warning to her not to defy God? She must have been a truly evil woman. In her case, you could say that the apple did not fall far from the tree.

When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she rose and destroyed all the royal offspring. But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah and stole him from among the king’s sons who were being put to death, and placed him and his nurse in the bedroom. So they hid him from Ahtaliah, and he was not put to death. So he was hidden with her in the house of the Lord six years, while Ahtaliah was reigning over the land. (2 Kings 11:1-3)

Why did Athaliah have all of the family of the king put to death? Why didn’t she just reign as a queen mother? It was common then as now for a regent to be appointed to advise a youthful monarch until he reached a certain age and could be crowned king. Athaliah had only to rule on behalf of her son until he was old enough to assume the throne. But this wicked woman chose to murder all of the royal heirs and assume absolute power for herself.

We should not be surprised that this woman who worshipped a god who demanded brutality and bloodshed in worship, would think nothing of committing murder herself. And, after all, how many kings in her home country of Israel (the Northern Kingdom) came to the throne by bloodshed? Baasha became king after he killed Nadab. Zimri became king when he killed Elah. Then Zimri killed all of Baasha’s male heirs. There is a pattern here.

Athaliah sought to make a kingdom for herself but she was not reckoning with Jehovah. God was still in control and would foil her plans as part of His great plan of redemption. That involved keeping His promise to David that one in his line would always sit on the throne. Unknown to Athaliah, one baby son, Joash was rescued by his aunt and hidden in safety.

In the seventh year of Athaliah’s reign, the priest Jehoiada decided it was time to bring Joash out of hiding and proclaim him king. Jehoiada gathered hundreds of guards and made them take an oath to protect Joash. Athaliah was very powerful, but if Joash could be crowned king and recognized by the people, her reign of terror would be over.

The priest gave to the captains of hundreds the spears and shields that had been King David’s, which were in the house of the Lord. The guards stood each with his weapons in his hand, from the right side of the house to the left side of the house, by the altar and by the house, around the king. Then he brought the king’s son out and put the crown on him and gave him the testimony; and they made him king and anointed him, and they clapped their hands and said, “Long live the king!” (2 Kings 11:10-12)

king joashAthaliah saw what was going on and ran to the house of the Lord. She noticed that Joash was standing there in the royal robes. People were blowing trumpets and shouting their acceptance of Joash as their king.

It didn’t take this shrewd woman long to see that another was put in her place. She tore her clothes and shouted, “Treason! Treason!”

Jehoiada commanded the guards to take her outside because he didn’t want her put to death in God’s house. The armed guards seized her and took her to the horse’s entrance of the king’s house. They put her to death there.

Athaliah’s wicked reign was over. The people rejoiced and showed God their thanks by going around the land and pulling down all of the altars to Baal that Athaliah had erected. They killed Mattan, Baal’s high priest.

Now, seven-year-old Joash was brought to the throne in the king’s house. He would honor God and reign for forty years doing “right in the sight of the Lord all his days in which Jehoiada the priest instructed him.” (2 Kings 12:2)

Though Athaliah had sought to destroy the descendants of Jehoram (and David) God had intervened and protected one small heir. This story is about a wicked woman, but much more it is a story of God’s sovereignty and His faithfulness to His covenant.

 

 

 

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Ahinoam: Saul’s Wife and First Queen of Israel

The name of Saul’s wife was Ahinoam the daughter of Ahimaaz. (I Samuel 14:50)

Ahinoam, the first queen in Israel was married to a less than faithful king – King Saul. (There was a second woman also named Ahinoam. She was one of the wives of King David. See below.)

As far as we know Ahinoam was Saul’s only wife. Saul was faithful to his wife if you don’t count concubines. (Recall that Rizpah was Saul’s concubine. See post on December 15, 2014).

Ahinoam bore Saul’s five sons and daughters including the noble Jonathan, David’s friend. There were two other sons, Ishui and Melchishua. Her daughters were Merab, who was promised to David as a reward for killing Goliath, and Michal.

Saul originally promised Merab to David but went back on his promise (I Samuel 17:25) and gave Merab to be the wife of someone else. He would later give Michal to David instead.

The story could have been really romantic, for Michal loved David. David tried to please Saul by accomplishing a hard task in order to win Michal’s hand, because she was after all a princess and he was only a shepherd.

Saul really hoped that the Philistines would kill David when he set out to get a dowry for his daughter. Saul asked for one hundred foreskins of the Philistines. David was happy to go and accomplish this task, and he outdid the bidding by bringing back two hundred foreskins. Now he felt like he was good enough to marry the king’s daughter.

David married Michal and became Ahinoam’s son-in-law.

As time went on Saul became jealous of David and tried to kill David and Michal. Saul eventually took Michal away from David and gave her to another man. (You can read more about Michal in the post on 9/12/2012.)

What were Ahinoam’s feelings while all of these things were happening? How sad for her to see her daughter leaving just because of her husband’s sins. Why did she just stand by as her husband treated women like bargaining chips to be used for his own political ends? Perhaps like so many women she did not defy her husband but helplessly watched from the sidelines.

She must have been a quiet woman going about her tasks humbly and faithfully. In those days queens and other noble women worked hard to take care of the poor in their neighborhoods. Ahinoam also had to see to the needs of the royal household. Truly she must have been a kind and gracious queen.

Unfortunately, like Jeroboam who came later in history, Saul also turned from God. God would cut off Saul’s house. Jonathan would die and eventually all of Saul’s offspring. How much sorrow came to this godly wife, mother, and queen as her menfolk perished?

Ahinoam is an example to us as a faithful wife and mother.

Ahinoam #2 – David’s Wife

David had also taken Ahinoam of Jezreel, and they both became his wives. (I Samuel 25:43)

As mentioned above, Saul tried to kill David when he realized that God was going to take the Ahinoamkingdom away from him and give it to David. While David was on the run from Saul he rescued two women from a wicked man named Nabal. God had killed Nabal and left his virtuous wife Abigail as a widow. (For more on Abigail see post 9/9/2010.) Abigail had been kind to David and so he rescued her and a woman named Ahinoam.

This Ahinoam is mentioned six times in the Old Testament as one of David’s wives. She and Abigail traveled with David the whole time he was on the run from Saul. When David eventually became king he would have eight wives altogether. Ahinoam would be the mother of David’s son Amnon. Later in life Amnon sinned grievously against his stepsister Tamar (See post 9/15/2014). Tamar’s brother Absalom had Amnon killed.

The wife of Jeroboam: First Queen of the Northern Kingdom

At that time Abijah the son of Jeroboam became sick. Jeroboam said to his wife, “Arise now, and disguise yourself so that they will not know that you are the wife of Jeroboam, and go to Shiloh; behold, Ahijah the prophet is there, who spoke concerning me that I would be king over this people. (I Kings 14:1,2)

Jeroboam was hoping that a prophet of God would assure him that his son would recover from a serious illness. He was too cowardly, or perhaps had an extremely guilty conscience, to jeroboam wife Ahijahgo see the prophet himself, so he sent his wife. Jeroboam had set up new places for the people to worship false gods. God had already sent a “man of God” earlier to warn Jeroboam, but Jeroboam continued in his evil ways. Jeroboam made priests to worship the idols and “this event became sin to the house of Jeroboam, even to blot it out and destroy it from off the face of the earth.” (I Kings 13:34) Jeroboam’s wife did all that her husband asked of her. She disguised herself and went to see Ahijah. The prophet Ahijah gave her a message to take back to Jeroboam. It was not good news. All males in Jeroboam’s house, including her son, would die.

Then Jeroboam’s wife arose and departed and came to Tirzah. As she was entering the threshold of the house, the child died. All Israel buried him and mourned for him, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke through His servant Ahijah the prophet.”   (I Kings 14:17,18)

This was sad news for the wife of Jeroboam, yet I believe that God blessed this faithful wife and mother by letting her child die a natural death and receive a proper burial. The prophet Ahijah said “All Israel shall mourn for him and bury him, for he alone of Jeroboam’s family will come to the grave, because in him something good was found toward the Lord God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam.” (I Kings 14:13) The other males in Jeroboam’s house would die violent deaths and they would not be buried. “Anyone belonging to Jeroboam who dies in the city the dogs will eat. And he who dies in the field the birds of he heavens will eat; for the Lord has spoken it.” (I Kings 14:11)

It was considered a curse in Israel to remain unburied. We will see this kind of curse again on an Israelite who was guilty of killing God’s prophets and doing as much evil as she could – Jezebel. Jezebel’s name became a byword for evil in Israel (Rev. 2:20). Jezebel was thrown off of a high wall. The king wanted to bury her, but when his men went to get her body all they found was her skull, hands, and feet. The dogs had eaten her up! This kind of death was a curse that God sent on evil people.

This horrible death was spared to Jeroboam and his wife’s son. It is very likely that the mother of Abijah had the comfort that her son was saved and would go to be with the Lord since God granted him a peaceful, honorable death. She herself would see her son in Heaven. She could do nothing with her wicked husband; it was too late. God would bless her for her own faithfulness.

And so all of these queens were faithful, obedient women. They all had tragedy in their lives. All would see their sons die. Queen Ahinoam, Saul’s wife, lost her son Jonathan. Queen Ahinoam, David’s wife, lost her son Amnon. Jeroboam’s queen lost her son Abijah. They remained faithful to the Lord in spite of so much sorrow and sacrifice.

 

 

 

 

 

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At that time Abijah the son of Jeroboam became sick. Jeroboam said to his wife, “Arise now, and disguise yourself so that they will not know that you are the wife of Jeroboam, and go to Shiloh; behold, Ahijah the prophet is there, who spoke concerning me that I would be king over this people. Take ten loaves with you, some cakes and a jar of honey, and go to him. He will tell you what will happen to the boy. Jeroboam’s wife did so, and arose and went to Shiloh, and came to the house of Ahijah. Now Ahijah could not see, for his eyes were dim because of his age. Now the Lord had said, to Ahijah, “Behold, the wife of Jeroboam is coming to inquire of you concerning her son, for he is sick. You shall say thus and thus to her, for it will be when she arrives that she will pretend to be another woman.”  (I Kings 14:1-5)

The Bible doesn’t give us this brave woman’s name, but we know who she is. We know that she was a queen, the wife of King Jeroboam. She was courageous, submissive to her husband, and a loving mother.

There are many things that we learn about this courageous woman by her actions. It seems that her faith in the only true God was stronger than her husband’s. First, here’s a little background to the story. It is necessary to see how the wife of Jeroboam ended up in her predicament.

In his old age King Solomon did some foolish things. He took many wives. He allowed his wives to practice their false religions. Solomon was actually led by his pagan wives to worship Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians, and Milcom, the “detestable idol of the Ammonites”. God was angry with Solomon and declared, “Because you have done this, and you have not kept My covenant and My statures, 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.” (I Kings 11 5-13)

After Solomon’s death, his son Rehoboam became king. Rehoboam angered the people with harsh rules. As prophesied, Jeroboam, one of Solomon’s servants, led a revolt. Ten tribes followed Jeroboam. Rehoboam assembled some soldiers to try and win back the ten tribes, but the Lord intervened. God said that the split of the nation of Israel into two kingdoms was part of His plan. Rehoboam went home, king of Judah and later included Benjamin. Jeroboam went to Shechem as king of ten tribes..

jeroboam golden calfJeroboam in the meantime was afraid that the Israelites from the northern tribes would want to go to Jerusalem to worship God in the temple. He feared that that would lead to their return to Rehoboam and the Southern Kingdom. So Jeroboam set up new places of worship in Bethel and Dan. He made golden calves for the people to worship. The foolish people did as they were led. Of course, this also made God angry.

God sent a “man of God” to warn Jeroboam, but Jeroboam continued in his evil ways. Jeroboam made priests to worship the idols and “this event became sin to the house of Jeroboam, even to blot it out and destroy it from off the face of the earth.” (I Kings 13:34) Unlike in the Southern Kingdom, where God promised a descendant on the throne of David perpetually whether the kings were good or bad, in the Northern Kingdom, God brought an end to the would-be dynasties of the evil kings. In fact, in the Northern Kingdom there would never be a king that would wholly follow Yahweh.

The very first king of the Northern Tribes, Jeroboam would also be the first to experience the end of his dynasty. It started when his son Abijah became sick. Jeroboam knew that the prophet of God had foretold ruin for him because of the his own egregious evil, idolatrous deeds. Jeroboam didn’t have the courage to face the prophet himself to ask for his son’s life to be spared, so he sent his wife.

Jeroboam’s wife was to disguise herself and take along a present. She immediately jeroboam wife Ahijahobeyed. We can only guess at her feelings. What was she expecting the prophet to tell her? How could she trust his words if he didn’t know who she was? Did she really believe that he was a man of God or not?

We don’t know what her thoughts were – they are not recorded for us. We only know that she obeyed her husband and then also obeyed the prophet. She sat through the message of the prophet who foretold the eventual ruin of the whole of the Northern Kingdom. While this prophet told her that God would make a “clean sweep” of the house of Jeroboam, and all males would die, she sat submissively not uttering a word that we know of. The prophet painted a terrible picture of destruction of Jeroboam’s house to her. God said, “Anyone belonging to Jeroboam who dies in the city the dogs will eat. And he who dies in the field the birds of the heavens will eat; for the Lord has spoken it.” (I Kings 14:11) In other words, they will not receive proper burials.

What a horrible picture. This woman must go back and tell her husband that not only would their child die but that all males of his house would die in horrible ways. Why didn’t she just take off and go back home to her family and leave Jeroboam to his just deserts?

Only the love of her son could compel her to go home and be with her child. And the prophet did give her one glimmer of hope – her son would die a natural death and receive a proper burial. Abijah would be spared the cruel death that the other males in Jeroboam’s house would suffer. He would receive an honorable burial and the people would mourn for their prince. This was because “in him (Abijah) something good was found toward the Lord God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam.” (I Kings 14:13) Abijah was the only one of the Israelites in the Northern Kingdom whom God could say had any good in him. How tragic.

Though she knew her son would die even as she arrived home, the faithful wife and mother obediently returned. Things did turn out as the prophet said.

The wife of Jeroboam is important in biblical history because of the prophecy that she received and then passed on to her husband and the people. God would uproot Jeroboam’s house and eventually the whole Northern Kingdom as He foretold. This judgment was against Jeroboam who had “done more evil than all who were before you, and have gone and made for yourself other gods and molten images to provoke Me to anger, and have cast Me behind your back.” (I Kings 14:9) Jeroboam’s son would have to die, but God gave Abijah a dignified death.

God rewarded this faithful mother and her son. Though the news was bad for Jeroboam and all of his descendants, God showed special care for Abijah. I believe that this was His way of blessing the wife of Jeroboam. The judgment was against her evil husband not her.

What can we learn from the wife of Jeroboam? Perhaps it is important to remember that even if we are married to a “less than stellar” man, we need to be faithful to God. Even if tragedy comes, as it did to her husband, God will comfort us with the knowledge that He is in control. There are worse things than persecution or death. The worst thing is to deny God as Jeroboam did.

 

 

 

 

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