"When Rehoboam came to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah, and the tribe of Benjamin, a hundred and eighty thousand chosen warriors, to fight against the house of Israel, to restore the kingdom to Rehoboam the son of Solomon." (1 Kings 12:21 RSV)
Often, new students of Bible History will come across the above verse and wonder if it isn't some sort of typographical error. Jews at war with Israel? How could that be?
After the death of King Solomon, who succeeded his father King David, Solomon's son Rehoboam became king of all of The Tribes Of Israel, the The Children of Jacob. Solomon's Kingdom had been magnificent, but that required tremendous quantities of money and labor. The people under Solomon were heavily burdened.
Representatives of the people went to the new king with the message, "Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke upon us, and we will serve you." (1 Kings 12:4 RSV).
The elders advised the new king to grant the people's request so that a rebellion would be avoided, but Rehoboam's young friends advised him to make their burden even greater (1 Kings 12:6-11). Rehoboam's fateful choice was the latter: "My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions." (1 Kings 12:14)
Rehoboam's foolishness was used as a means to bring about God's punishment for Solomon's corruption in his later years: "So the king did not hearken to the people; for it was a turn of affairs brought about by The Lord that he might fulfill His word, which The Lord spoke by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat." (1 Kings 12:15 RSV)
The result was a split of the united kingdom of the 12 tribes of Israel (the Levites were distributed among all of the others) into 2 kingdoms - the 10 tribes of "Israel" under King Jeroboam with their capital up in Samaria (see Bible Places), and the tribes of Judah and Benjamin forming the kingdom of "Judah" under King Rehoboam at Jerusalem. From that time on, Israel and Judah were 2 completely separate and independent kingdoms (see Kings of Israel and Judah). While they were sometimes allied when faced with a common enemy, there were other times when wars were fought between them.
One of the most important keys to understanding Bible Prophecy is recognizing that although all Jews are Israelites, not all Israelites are Jews. This is an absolutely vital point because many of the end-time prophecies that speak of "Israel" are not referring solely to the modern-day Jewish people in Israel, or anywhere else.
There are hundreds of millions of people in the world today who are descended from the so-called "Lost 10 Tribes." Their identity has been obscured over the many centuries (the modern-day names of their countries do not plainly indicate their Israelite origin) but they are still Israelites, not Jews, most without realizing it. The modern state of Israel would not have come into being without them, and without the military power and economic wealth of at least two of them, it would not have survived to this day. They, just as much as, and together with, the people of Judah in the modern state of Israel, are in the "bull's eye" of prophecy.
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