Events in the Reigns of Kings of Judah and Israel

This table shows the major events in the reigns of the Kings (and sole queen) of Judah and Israel. Events of international significance are set in italics.

The bible takes a very blunt view in assessing the characters of the various kings as either good or bad, dependent entirely on their relationship with God (and therefore, the way the Hebrew faith was worked out in the countries they ruled) rather than taking account of political achievements etc. It is apparent that the character of the king always had a strong influence on the character of the country.

Kings of ... Events
Judah Israel
1. Rehoboam
(bad)
  925 BC: Shishak of Egypt attacks Jerusalem.

Solomon's son inherited the throne, but rejected the advice of Solomon's counsellors, and treated the people harshly when they sent Jeroboam to negotiate for better treatment, hence the rebellion. Shemiah prophesied that Rehoboam should not fight Jeroboam.

Rehoboam adopted pagan religion wholesale. Pharoah Shishak attacked Jerusalem and took all the temple treasure.

  1. Jeroboam
(bad)
Jeroboam was an official in Solomon's government when Ahijah prophesied that he would rule ten tribes, promising an enduring dynasty if he would be faithful to God.

Instead, when he became king, he set up golden calves at Bethel and Dan, and appointed priests from all the tribes. The "man of God from Judah" prophesied that King Josiah would one day bring an end to pagan worship, and Ahijah prophesied an imminent end to Jeroboam's line.

2. Abijah
(bad)
  Continual war between Judah and Israel.
3. Asa
(good)
  Reformation: Asa destroyed the artifacts of pagan religion, right down to the removal of the Queen Mother, who had made an Asherah pole.

Continual war with Israel: in response, Asa sent the recently-restored gold and silver from the temple to Ben-Hadad of Aram, persuading him to break his treaty with Israel and align with Judah instead.

  2. Nadab
(bad)
Killed after two years by Baasha, while the Israelite army was besieging a Philistine town.
  3. Baasha
(bad)
Slaughtered all of Jeroboam's relations, in accordance with Abijah's prophecy. Jehu prophesied that the same thing would happen to Baasha's family.
  4. Elah
(bad)
Killed after two years by Zimri, an official in charge of half Israel's chariots, while Elah was drunk.
  5. Zimri
(bad)
Slaughtered all of Baasha's relations, in accordance with Jehu's prophecy. (Those Israelite kings really knew how to party.)

Within a week of becoming king, Israel rebelled against him. Committed suicide by burning the palace down around him.

  6. Omri
(bad)
Became king despite Tibni's challenge. Half way through his reign, bought the hill of Samaria, built a city there and established it as the new capital of the Northern kingdom. Took Israel to new depths of depravity.
  7. Ahab
(bad)
A yet worse king than has father Omri, Ahab was led into Baal worship by his Phoenician wife Jezebel. God's response was to send Elijah, who predicted or perhaps even caused three and a half years' drought, which ended after his successful duel with the priests of Baal on Mount Carmel. Elijah then recruited and trained his successor, Elisha.

Ben-Hadad of Aram attacked Samaria. Ahab conceded to his first set of demands, but not a subsequent set. Israel won the ensuing battle, and a subsequent one a year later.

After having Naboth killed so he can seize his vineyard, Ahab is confronted once again by Elijah, and finally repents, postponing the disaster that God had planned for Israel.

4. Jehoshaphat
(good)
  A good king who compromised by allying himself with Ahab to fight the Arameans at Ramoth Gilead. Despite many false prophets predicting success in the battle, Micaiah correctly predicted that Ahab would be killed.
  8. Ahaziah
(bad)
Fell through a lattice roof, and injured himself. Sent messengers to consult Baal-Zebub to see if he would recover, but Elijah met them, and correctly predicted his death.

Around this time, Elijah was taken up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha succeeded him, and pulled a great trick involving a bear and forty-two youths.

  9. Joram
(slightly better)
After Ahab's death, Moab revolted against Israel, but with Elisha's help, a joint force of Israel, Judah and Edom put down the revolt. Elisha's other exploits included: the widow's oil, the Shunammite's son, the poisoned stew, the feeding of the hundred, the healing of Naaman, the floating axe head, and the blinding of the Arameans.

The Arameans returned to besiege Samaria. At the height of the famine, four lepers discovered that the Aramean camp had been deserted in accordance with Elisha's prophecy.

5. Jehoram
(bad)
  Edom's successful revolt against Judah.
6. Ahaziah
(bad)
  With Jehoram's help, fought against Hazael king of Aram.
  10. Jehu
(OK)
Elijah had been told by God to anoint Jehu king over Israel, but he had passed the responsibility on to Elisha, who in turn passed it on to an unnamed man from the company of prophets. As soon as he'd been anointed, the army proclaimed him king, and he embarked on a programme of wholesale slaughter: first he killed King Joram of Israel, then King Ahaziah of Judah, then Jezebel the Queen Mother, then all seventy of Ahab's descendents (in accordance with Elijah's prophecy), then some relatives of Ahaziah, and finally, all the prophets of Baal. But although he purified Israel to some extent, he did not discontinue the worship of the golden calves.
7. Athaliah
(bad)
  The mother of Ahaziah, hearing of his death, proclaimed herself queen in his stead, and put to death every remaining member of the royal family in order to strengthen her own position. Ahaziah's infant son Joash was hidden by his nurse, and lived in the temple for six years, thereby preserving David's royal line.
8. Joash
(good)
  Placed on the throne by Jehoida the high priest, in a well-planned rebellion against Athaliah. In the early years of his reign, Jehoida influenced him, and he repaired the temple. But after Jehoida's death, Joash ignored God, and had Jehoida's son executed. After this, Hazael and the Arameans attacked again, and Joash appeased them by giving them the newly-restored temple treasures. Finally, he was assassinated in revenge for the killing of Jehoida's son.
  11. Jehoahaz
(bad)
In response to continuing oppression from Hazael, this godless man turned to God, who heard his cry and delivered Israel when the army was down to its last ten chariots.
  12. Jehoash
(bad)
Continuing war with Judah and Aram. Elisha, on his death bed, predicted three victories over Aram, which were duly won.
9. Amaziah
(good)
  Executed the conspirators responsible for his father's death. Stupidly challenged resurgent Israel to a completely unnecessary war (men!) and lost, resulting in substantial damage to Jerusalem.
  13. Jeroboam II
(bad)
Mostly harmless.
10. Uzziah
(good)
  (Also known as Azariah.) Suffered from leprosy towards the end of his reign, so his son Jotham was effectively reigning in his place at the end of his life.
  14. Zechariah
(bad)
Killed by Shallum after six months.
  15. Shallum
(bad)
Killed by Menahem after six months.
  16. Menahem
(bad)
Tiglath-Pileser of Assyria invaded the land, but Menahem bribed to withdraw with 37 tons of silver, raised via emergency taxation.
  17. Pekahiah
(bad)
Killed by Pekah after two years. These guys.
  18. Pekah
(bad)
Tiglath-Pileser returned, this time conquering large portions of Israel's territory and deporting many people to Assyria. Pekah was killed by Hoshea after twenty years.
11. Jotham
(good)
  Some conflict with both Israel and Aram.
12. Ahaz
(bad)
  732 BC: Fall of Damascus (capital of Aram) to Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria.

Under military pressure from the Israel/Aram alliance, Ahaz sent the gold and silver from the temple to Tiglath-Pileser of Assyria, asking for his aid, which came in the form of Assyria's conquering Damascus. This marked the effective end of Aram as a threat to Israel and Judah, but Assyria was at least as threatening a replacement.

  19. Hoshea
(bad)
722 BC: Fall of Samaria to Shalmaneser of Assyria.

Hoshea was the last king of Israel. At this point, Israel was subject to Assyria, but Hoshea rebelled by sending envoys to Egypt and refusing to pay tribute to Assyria, so Shalmaneser invaded Israel, besieged Samaria for three years, conquered it and imprisoned Hoshea, exiling the Israelites to Assyria and resettling Samaria.

13. Hezekiah
(good)
  Ahaz had subjected Judah to Assyria because of the joint threat of Israel and Aram. With that threat gone, Hezekiah tried to re-establish Judah as an independent state. In response, Sennacherib of Assyria invaded Judah. Hezekiah tried to appease him with the temple gold, but the Assyrians besieged Jerusalem anyway. Isaiah prophesied that the siege would fail; and that night the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp (2 Kings 19:35) which pretty much vindicated Isaiah's prediction.

Hezekiah was healed of a fatal illness, and lived a further fifteen years; but in that time fathered Manasseh, who was to be one of the very worst kings. Hezekiah also sowed the seeds of Judah's final fate by entertaining Babylonian envoys and showing them the treasury.

14. Manasseh
(bad)
  Desecrated the temple so badly that prophets proclaimed him worse than the Amorites whom the Israelites had originally driven out of the land. He repented towards the end of his life.
15. Amon
(bad)
  Such an evil king that his own officials assassinated him, and made his son king in his place.
16. Josiah
(good)
  612 BC: Nineveh falls to Babylon, in accordance with Nahum's prophecy.

The last good king, only eight years old at the start of his reign. At the age of 26, he instigated repairs for the temple, in the course of which the book of the law was rediscovered, precipitating a reaffirmation of the covenant and wide-ranging reforms.

Died in the must stupid of circumstances: the Assyrian empire was crumbling, and the Egyptians marched through Judah to aid the remaining Assyrians against the Babylonians. Josiah insisted on fighting the Egyptians - against the Pharoah's will - and was killed in battle.

17. Jehoahaz
(bad)
  Reigned for only three months before the Egyptians, having invaded in the wake of Josiah's death, deported him, replacing him with his brother Eliakim who they renamed Jehoahaz.
18. Jehoiakim
(bad)
  605 BC: First Babylonian invasion.

During his reign, Babylon wiped out the Egyptian empire, taking over most of its subject states including Judah. When Jehoiakim rebelled against Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar attacked and conquered Jerusalem, imprisoning Jehoiakim and taking hostages including Daniel and his friends to Babylon.

19. Jehoiachin
(bad)
  597 BC: second Babylonian invasion. Many Jews, including Ezekiel, exiled to Babylon.

Frankly, I get the impression that he never had a clue what was happening. When Nebuchadnezzar invaded again, he was deported to Babylon, where he was at least treated well. His uncle Mattaniah was made king in his place, and his name changed to Zedekiah.

20. Zedekiah
(bad)
  587 BC: Final fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Subsequent invasion of remains by Edom.

Zedekiah, learning little from his predecessors and nothing from the prophet Jeremiah, rebelled against Babylon. The response this time was the total destruction of Jerusalem and deportation of all the remaining people except for some of the very poorest, who were left behind to work the land.

    539 BC: Babylon falls to the Medes.

537 BC: Cyrus of Persia sends the first batch of exiles back from captivity with Zerubabel; the rebuilding of the temple begins.

(Esther)   478 AD: The Jews' enemies in Persia destroyed.

Esther becomes Xerxes' queen. Her cousin Mordecai discovers a plot against the king and saves his life, for which he goes unrewarded. When, later, he refuses to worship an official called Haman, Haman's revenge is a plot to wipe out all the Jews throughout the Persian empire. Encouraged by Mordecai, Esther resolves to plead for her people with the king. But in the mean time, the king remembers Mordecai and honours him; so that when Esther presents her request, the King grants it and has Haman executed; and the Jews are authorised to fight and kill the enemies who attempt to wipe them out.

(Ezra)   458 BC: the return of the second group of exiles with Ezra.

The altar is rebuilt and sacrifices offered; then the foundation of the new temple is laid before opposition from the new inhabitants of the land inhibits further progress. But fifteen years later, the new Persian king, Darius, gives his support to the Israelites, and encouraged by the prophecy of Haggai and Zechariah, they finish rebuilding the temple.

Sixty years later, Ezra leads another group of exiles back to Jerusalem. He deals with the problem of intermarriage with the people of the land, and consequent idolatry.

(Nehemiah)   445 BC: the return of the third group of exiles with Nehemiah.

On hearing news of the state of Jerusalem, Nehemiah prays that God will restore it. God hears, and the Persian king Artaxerxes sends Nehemiah back to Jerusalem with instructions to rebuild Jerusalem's walls, which is achieved in just fifty-two days despite the opposition of Sanballat and Tobiah, and the apathy and inconsistency of the Jews. At the people's request, Ezra reads the law, resulting in a renewal of the covenant.

A final thought. How is it that so many of Judah's good kings failed to raise their sons such that they too were good kings? Jehoshaphat, Jotham, Hezekiah and Josiah all failed in this way.

Joseph Walton <walton.100@osu.edu> has produced a more comprehensive version of this table, including all of this information and more. You can download it as an Excel spreadsheet here.