As long as Solomon worshipped Jehovah, there was peace in Israel. But Solomon married many women from other lands, and these wives worshipped idols. Little by little, Solomon changed, and he began to worship idols too. Jehovah was angry. He told Solomon: ‘Israel will be ripped away from your family and divided in two. I will give the large part to one of your servants, and your family will rule only the small part.’
Jehovah made his decision clear in another way too. One of Solomon’s servants, Jeroboam, was traveling on the road when he met Ahijah the prophet. Ahijah ripped his own robe into 12 pieces and told Jeroboam: ‘Jehovah will take the kingdom of Israel away from Solomon’s family and divide it in two. Take ten of these pieces because you will be king over ten tribes.’ King Solomon heard about this and wanted to kill Jeroboam! So Jeroboam ran away to Egypt. In time, Solomon died and his son Rehoboam became king. Then Jeroboam felt that it was safe to return to Israel.
The elders of Israel told Rehoboam: ‘If you treat the people well, they will be loyal to you.’ But Rehoboam’s younger friends said: ‘You need to be harsh with the people! Make them work even harder!’ Rehoboam followed his young friends’ advice. He was cruel to the people, and they rebelled. They made Jeroboam king of the ten tribes, which became known as the kingdom of Israel. The other two tribes became known as the kingdom of Judah, and they stayed loyal to Rehoboam. The 12 tribes of Israel were now divided.
Jeroboam did not want his people to go to worship in Jerusalem, which was in Rehoboam’s kingdom. Do you know why? Jeroboam was afraid that they would turn on him and support Rehoboam. So he made two golden calves and told his people: ‘Jerusalem is too far away. You can worship here.’ The people began to worship the golden calves and to forget Jehovah again.
“Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers. For what fellowship do righteousness and lawlessness have? . . . Or what does a believer share in common with an unbeliever?”—2 Corinthians 6:14, 15
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