Jeroboam II (Hebrew ירבעם השני, he pleads the people's cause) (vr. 836-r. 825-784 BC according to Ussher, or vr. 793-r.782-753 according to Thiele) was the thirteenth king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the third generation after Jehu in the House of Jehu. He was the definitive instrument of God's deliverance of that kingdom from Syrian harassment and had a grand and prosperous reign. However, because he never suppressed the golden-calf cult of his namesake Jeroboam I, God ultimately brought his kingdom to ruin. Indeed, Ussher infers that a twelve-year interregnum intervened between the death of Jeroboam II and the accession of his son Zachariah. (Thiele mentions no such interregnum in his system.)
Viceroyalty and Accession
Both Ussher and Thiele agree that Jeroboam began as viceroy in the reign of his father Joash. He held this position for twelve years, during which Joash fought three successful battles against the Syrians and dealt a devastating counterattack against Amaziah of Judah, who had attacked him without provocation. Both men infer this viceroyalty from these two statements:
- Amaziah outlived Joash by fifteen years, and
- Uzziah, Amaziah's son, began to reign "in the twenty and seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel."
The difference of twelve years is best reckoned as the years of Jeroboam's viceroyalty.
Here, however, Ussher and Thiele differ significantly (beyond, of course, the year of his viceroyalty). Ussher says that Jeroboam's viceroyalty and lone reign ran consecutively; Thiele says that they ran concurrently. In any case, the Bible says that Jeroboam II began to reign "in the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah." It further says that he reigned for forty-one years--but whether that forty-one years includes the twelve-year viceroyship, or began after it, remains in dispute between the Ussher and Thiele camps.
Wars with Syria
Jeroboam followed up on his father's campaigns against the Syrians, recaptured the city of Hamath, and thus recaptured the coast of Israel from Hamath to the shoreline. The prophet Jonah had predicted this. He even managed, however briefly, to capture the Syrian capital of Damascus.
The Catholic Encyclopedia states that an Assyrian ruler identified as Rammanirar III, laid Israel, Syria, and Phoenicia under a heavy tribute in 802 BC. This would not have had anything to do with Jeroboam II in the Thiele system, but only in Ussher's system. If this Rammanirar was in fact a contemporary of Jeroboam II, then he was probably King Ashur-Dan III, also known as "Pul" or "Anabaxares." Ussher explicitly identifies this particular Assyrian ruler as the contemporary of Jonah who received a visit from that prophet and led his nation into repentance. Ussher further states that this same ruler later invaded the Northern Kingdom when King Menahem was in command.
Prosperity and decline
No less than five named prophets were contemporaries of Jeroboam: Isaiah, Joel, Amos, Jonah, and Hosea. Of these, Jonah prophesied in Jeroboam's favor, and specifically that he would enjoy military victory over Syria. But Amos and Hosea both predicted ruin for the Northern Kingdom. Amos, in particular, predicted a dire judgment against another Amaziah, the priest of the golden-calf cult at Bethuel. Hosea predicted the eventual destruction of the kingdom and the carrying away of all its people into captivity.
Death, Interregnum, and Succession
The Bible says that Jeroboam ruled for forty-one years. Yet his son Zachariah is said to have succeeded him "in the thirty and eighth year of Azariah king of Judah." In the Ussher system, the 38th year of Uzziah did not fall until 772 BC, fully twelve years after Jeroboam's death. Ussher infers that an interregnum took place at this time, and cites Amos 7-8 as his authority for this.
In contrast, the Thiele system mentions no such interregnum. This, and Thiele's assumption of concurrency of Jeroboam's viceroyalty and lone reign, require that Uzziah started his reign, as viceroy in the reign of Amaziah, twenty-four years earlier in the history of the Southern Kingdom than a strict reading of Kings and Chronicles would suggest. For the history of the Northern Kingdom, this presents no obvious problem. The problem is in accounting for the reign of Uzziah.
Possible Egyptian Synchrony
In 1910, Harvard University professors G. A. Reisner, O. S. Fisher, and D. G. Lyon excavated what they believed to be the Northern Kingdom palace at Samaria. There they found sixty-three inscribed potsherds allegedly bearing inscriptions that mentioned Jeroboam II and speaking of the "seventeenth year" of the reign of some Northern king. Above the room that sheltered these potsherds was found a jar containing multiple references to Pharaoh Osorkon II.
The archaeologist Immanuel Velikovsky suggests from these findings that Pharaoh Osorkon II cannot have been a contemporary of Ahab, as conventionally assumed. Of all the kings of the Northern Kingdom, only Jeroboam II and Pekah reigned as long as, or longer than, seventeen years. (Pekah reigned for twenty years.) Furthermore, because the Osorkon jar was found at a higher level than were the potsherds, Velikovsky further concludes that Osorkon was later even than Jeroboam II. Pekah becomes the most likely candidate to be synchronized with Osorkon.
This identification is, however, tentative and constitutes only one piece of evidence among many.
- James Ussher, The Annals of the World, Larry Pierce, ed., Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2003 (ISBN 0890513600), pghh. 547, 551-2, 554, 556-8, 564
- Leon J. Wood, A Survey of Israel's History, rev. ed. David O'Brien, Grand Rapids, MI: Academie Books, 1986 (ISBN 031034770X), pp. 276-277
- Driscoll, James F. "Entry for Jeroboam." The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. VIII. New York. Robert Appleton Co., 1910. Retrieved June 8, 2007 from New Advent.
- Authors unknown. "King Jeroboam II - Biography." The Kings of Israel, hosted at http://www.geocities.com/ Retrieved June 8, 2007.
- II_Kings 14:17
- II_Kings 15:1 (KJV)
- II_Kings 14:23
- II_Kings 14:24-29
- Ussher, op. cit., pghh. pghh. 570, 573-6, 581
- Authors unknown. "Entry for Jeroboam." WebBible Encyclopedia. Retrieved June 8, 2007.
- Amos 7:10,12-13,17
- Hosea 1:1
- II_Kings 15:8 (KJV)
- Velikovsky, Immanuel. "Jeroboam II and Osorkon II." The Assyrian Conquest. Retrieved June 8, 2007.