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2 Kings

Ahab was killed in battle by the Arameans of Damascus and was succeeded by his son Ahaziah, who reigned nearly two years over the kingdom of Israel beginning in 850 BCE.

And Ahaziah had been brought up by his parents Ahab and Jezebel to serve and worship only Baal. He died with no heir, and his brother Joram succeeded him as king in 849 BCE.

Joram was wounded in battle against the Arameans at Ramah, and retired to Jezreel to recuperate.

Then in 842 BCE, Elisha, who succeeded Elijah as the greatest prophet in Israel, anointed Jehu, lieutenant of Joram and son of Jerhoshaphat, as king over Israel. Elisha commissioned him to destroy the entire house of Ahab.

And Jehu formed a conspiracy against Joram, and drove his chariot to Jezreel where Joram lay ill from his wounds, and there he slew Joram and his ally Ahaziah king of Judah.

And when Jehu drew near to the gate of Jezreel to slay Jezebel, he saw the woman standing on the rampart of the wall, together with a number of court eunuchs. Jehu told them to throw her off the wall, and when they did, Jehu rode over her body with his horse to ensure she was dead. And dogs ate the remnants of her body, so that no one could ever point to a tomb and say, "There lies Jezebel."

And the heads of seventy sons of Ahab was sent to Jehu in baskets.

Then Jehu slew Ahab's supporters, friends, and the priests of Baal, as well as forty-two kinsmen of King Ahaziah of Judah. And Jehu rooted out the worship of Baal from Israel, but he did not destroy the golden calves at Bethel and Dan.

During Jehu's reign of twenty-eight years, Hazael king of Damascus captured all the lands of Israel east of the Jordan River. And when Jehu died in 815 BCE, Jehoahaz his son succeeded him to the throne to rule over Israel from Samaria for seventeen years.

But Jehoahaz also did nothing about the golden calves at Bethel and Dan. He was defeated by the Arameans, and much of Israel was occupied until the end of the his reign. At one point, the kingdom's power was reduced to fifty horsemen, ten chariots, and ten thousand foot soldiers.

His son Joash succeeded Jehoahaz after his death in 801 BCE, and Joash ruled Israel for sixteen years.

Joash defeated the Arameans in three separate battles, and won back for Israel the cities of the Transjordan that had been lost. And when Joash died in 786 BCE he was succeeded by his son Jeroboam II, who ruled Israel for forty-one years.

Under Jeroboam II's long reign the Northern Kingdom reached the pinnacle of its wealth and power and territorial extent. The population of Israel exceeded 350,000 and the border of the nation extended from the river Orontes to the Mediterranean Sea. For a time, it was the leading power of the region.

Then in 746 BCE Zechariah succeeded Jeroboam II and ruled for only six months before he was assassinated by Shallum. This ended the dynasty of Jehu after four generations of his descendants, fulfilling a prophetic blessing that was given to Jehu after his deeds rooting out the seed of Ahab.

Shallum the Usurper, who was allied with Damascus, ruled Israel for only one month before he was killed by Menahem, a general of the army of Israel in 745 BCE.

Menahem greatly strengthened the kingdom, but he was cruel, putting down revolts without mercy, and he was forced to pay heavy tribute to the Assyrian Empire. Uncharacteristically, he died a natural death, and Pekahiah son of Menahem succeeded his father to the throne in 738 BCE.

Pekahiah reigned less than two years before he was killed in 737 BCE by Captain Pekah, son of Remaliah, his military adjutant, in the citadel of the royal palace at Samaria, aided by fifty men of Gilead.

Isaiah made note of an alliance between King Pekah and King Rezin of Aram that threatened King Ahaz of Judah. But this was the time the Assyrians made their bid for great power. Under Pekah's reign the kingdom of Israel was reduced to solely the lands of Ephraim and parts of Manasseh. Then in 732 BCE King Pekah was slain by Hoshea, son of Elah.

In the fourth year of his reign, Hoshea was summoned to the court of Shalmaneser to explain his failure to pay the 1,000 talents of tribute required of him. He was imprisoned, and the Assyrians attacked Israel from 727-725 BCE. The province of Samaria became, for all intents and purposes, a vassal of Damascus governed by military officers.

In 721 the Assyrian army was withdrawn to secure the succession of Sargon II after the death of Shalmaneser.

In 720 Sargon II occupied all of Israel and deported the people to the east, where they soon lost their identity forever as separate tribes through intermarriage with the Medeans.

In Judah, Hezekiah refused to serve the Assyrian king Sennacherib the son of Sargon II, the Assyrian king who destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel. Sennacherib therefore laid seige to Jerusalem and forced Hezekiah to pay a tribute of thirty talents of gold, eight hundred talents of silver, gems, antimony, and many jewels. Also paid in tribute was carnelian, couches and chairs inlaid with ivory, elephant hides and tusks, ebony, boxwood, and other rich treasures, along with Hezekiah's daughters, his wives, his musicians, men and women. All of these things were taken by King Sennacherib to Ninevah.

Later, to prepare Jerusalem in the event of another seige, Hezekiah constructed an aqueduct to bring fresh water into the Pool of Siloam inside the city.

When he died in 687, Hezekiah was succeeded by his son Manasseh.

Manasseh was twelve years old when he ascended to the throne. He rebuilt the high places that his father had destroyed, and set up altars to Baal. He set up an idol of Asherah in the temple of Yahweh. He went to war against Egypt with his vassal lord, Ashurbanipal, the last strong king of Assyria.

When Manessah died in 642 BCE, after the longest reign in the history of Judah, his son Amon succeeded him as king.

Amon was twenty-two years old when he began to reign. Amon continued to pay tribute to Assyria and worship its gods.

He was slain in 640 BCE by his own subjects who conspired against him and they installed his son Josiah king in his stead.

Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign. During his reign, the high priest, Hilkiah, reported to the king that he "found" a book hidden in the temple which restated the precepts of the law. This book later became the fifth book of the Torah, known as Deuteronomy.

Josiah used the occasion of the finding of the book to call the people to renew their covanant to God. And Josiah commanded all the religious items made for Baal, Asherah, and other gods to be burned outside the city. He tore down the apartments of the prostitutes in the cult of Asherah. He also destroyed the altar to the golden calf built in Beth-El by King Rehoboam.

When Pharaoh Neco went toward the River Euphrates to link up with the Assyrians in 609 BCE, Josiah went out to confront him, but he was slain at the plains of Megiddo. And his son Jehoahaz succeeded him.

Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he began to reign, and he reigned only three months in Jerusalem. Pharaoh Neco took him captive at Riblah in the land of Hamath, and demanded a tribute of much silver and gold. Jehoahaz died in captivity in Egypt, the first king of Judah to die in exile.

Neco then appointed Eliakim, another son of Josiah, as king of Judah. Eliakim changed his name to Jehoiakim. And Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he began to reign over Judah in 609 BCE.

After his defeat at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar and serving as his vassal for three years, Jehoiakim revolted against Babylon. But Johoiakim died before the combined armies of Chaldeans, Arameans, Moabites and Ammonites could reach Jerusalem. He was succeeded by his son Jeconiah.

Jeconiah was eighteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned only three months in Jerusalem.

During his reign, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, personally laid seige to Jerusalem. Jeconiah surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar in 597 BCE and was taken captive to Babylon.

Nebuchadnezzar took all the treasures of the temple of Yahweh and deported the army, the craftsmen, and all the leading citizens of Jerusalem. Only the very poor remained behind to till the land. Nebuchadnezzar appointed Mattaniah, the uncle of Jeconiah, as king and changed his name to Zedekiah.

Zedekiah was twenty-one years of age when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon. Then Nebuchadnezzar and his whole army advanced against Jerusalem and laid seige to it.

King Zedekiah attempted to escape the city but he was captured in 587 BCE and brought before Nebuchadnezzar. The sons of Zedekiah were slain before his eyes, and then Zedekiah was blinded, bound in chains, and taken to Babylon.

The Babylonians burned the temple of Yahweh and the palace of the king and every house in Jerusalem. The walls of the city were torn down and the surviving people of the city were taken into exile in Babylon. From that day forward the kingdom of Judah ceased to exist.

In exile, the scribes and priests maintained a continuous tribal identity for the House of Judah by meticulously maintaining the written genealogies and histories of the people.

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