Jeroboam II, King of Israel, and Uzziah, King of Judah -- By: Bryant G. Wood

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 13:4 (Fall 2000)
Article: Jeroboam II, King of Israel, and Uzziah, King of Judah
Author: Bryant G. Wood


Jeroboam II, King of Israel, and Uzziah, King of Judah

Bryant G. Wood

Jeroboam II

Jeroboam II ruled Israel (the Northern Kingdom) for 41 years in the first half of the eighth century BC, ca. 793–753. As was the case with the other kings of Israel,

he did evil in the eyes of the Lord and did not turn away from any of the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit (2 Kgs 14:24).

Jeroboam son of Nebat was the first king to rule the breakaway Northern Kingdom following the death of Solomon. He established calf worship at the two religious centers of Dan and Bethel.

The relatively long reign of Jeroboam II is summarized in only 7 verses of Scripture, 2 Kings 14:23–29. The prophet Jonah predicted that the boundaries of Israel would be restored during his reign and this was fulfilled. Jeroboam maintained his independence from Aram to the north, ruling the area from Lebo Hamath to the Dead Sea. Hamath was a city state in central Syria, with its capital at ancient Hamath, modern Hama.

There is one reference to Jeroboam II outside the Bible—the famous “Shema’ Seal.” This seal, made of jasper, was discovered in excavations at Megiddo in 1904. Unfortunately, it was sent to the Turkish Sultan in Istanbul and has since disappeared. Before it was sent off, a bronze cast was made which is now at the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem. The seal measured 3.7 cm x 2.7 cm (1.5 in x 1.1 in) and was elliptical in shape. In the center was a roaring lion with tensed muscular legs and raised tail. Above the lion was the name of the seal owner and below it his title.

(Belonging) to Shema’ servant (of) Jeroboam

The style of the letters is that of the early eighth century BC (Lemaire 1995: 52, n. 4). This is the earliest of a raft of seals and seal impressions that record the names of Biblical figures. With such a large and beautifully-made seal, Shema’ was evidently a high official in the administration of Jeroboam II. Since Shema’ is not mentioned in the Bible, we do not know what his duties were.

Uzziah

Uzziah, called Azariah in 2 Kings 14:21 and 15:1–7, had the second-longest reign of all of the kings of Israel and Judah. He ruled Judah for 52 years, ca. 792–740 BC, being surpassed only by Manasseh who sat on the throne of Judah for 55 years a century later. Uzziah’s reign is recorded in 2 Kings 15:1–7 and 2 Chronicles 26.

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