Jerobo'äm (Heb. Yarobam', י רָבעָם, increase of the people; Sept. Ι᾿εροβοάμ, Josephus ῾Ιεροβόαμος), the name of two of the kings of the separate kingdom of Israel.
1. The son of Nebat (by which title he is usually distinguished in the record of his infamy) by a woman named Zeruah, of the tribe of Ephraim (1Ki 11:26). He was the founder of the schismatical northern kingdom, consisting of the ten tribes, over which he reigned twenty-two (current) years, B.C. 973-951. At the time he first appears in the sacred history his mother was a widow and he had already been noticed by Solomon as a clever and active young man and appointed one of the superintendents of the works which that magnificent king was carrying on at Jerusalem, having special charge of the services required of the leading tribe of Ephraim (1Ki 11:26-28; comp. Josephus, Ant. 8, 7, 7). B.C. 1010- 998. This appointment, the reward of his merits, might have satisfied his ambition had not the declaration of the prophet Ahijah given him higher hopes. When informed that, by the divine appointment, he was to become king over the ten tribes about to be rent from the house of David, he was not content to wait patiently for the death of Solomon, but began to form plots and conspiracies, the discovery of which constrained him to flee to Egypt to escape condign punishment, B.C. cir. 980. The king of that country was but too ready to encourage one whose success must necessarily weaken the kingdom which had become great and formidable under David and Solomon, and which had already pushed its frontier to the Red Sea (1Ki 11:29-40).
When Solomon died, the ten tribes sent to call Jeroboam from Egypt; and he appears to have headed the deputation that came before the son of Solomon with a demand of new securities for the rights which the measures of the late king had compromised. It may somewhat excuse the harsh answer of Rehoboam that the demand was urged by a body of men headed by one whose pretensions were so well known and so odious to the house of David. It cannot be denied that, in making their applications thus offensively, they struck the first blow, although it is possible that they, in the first instance, intended to use the presence of Jeroboam for no other purpose than to frighten the king into compliance. The imprudent answer of Rehoboam rendered a revolution inevitable, and Jeroboam was then called to reign over the ten tribes by the style of "King of Israel" (1
Kings 12:1-20). Autumn, B.C. 973. SEE REHOBOAM. (For the general course of his conduct on the throne, SEE ISRAEL, KINGDOM OF.) The leading object of his policy was to widen the breach between the two kingdoms, and to rend asunder those common interests among all the descendants of Jacob, which it was one great object of the law to combine and interlace. To this end he scrupled not to sacrifice the most sacred and inviolable interests and obligations of the covenant people by forbidding his subjects to resort to the one temple and altar of Jehovah at Jerusalem and by establishing shrines at Dan and Beth-el — the extremities of his kingdom — where "golden calves" were set up as the symbols of Jehovah, to which the people were enjoined to resort and bring their offerings. SEE CALF, GOLDEN. The pontificate of the new establishment he united to his crown, in imitation of the Egyptian kings (1Ki 12:26-33). He was officiating in that capacity at Bethel, offering incense, when a prophet (Josephus, Ant. 8, 8, 5, calls him Jadon, i.e. probably Iddo; compare Ant. 8, 15, 4; Jerome, Quoest. Hebr. on 2Ch 10:4) appeared, and in the name of the Lord announced a coming time, as yet far off, in which a king of the house of David, Josiah by name, should burn upon that unholy altar the bones of its ministers. He was then preparing to verify, by a commissioned prodigy, the truth of the oracle he had delivered, when the king attempted to arrest him, but was smitten with palsy in the arm he stretched forth. At the same time the threatened prodigy took place — the altar was rent asunder, and the ashes strewed far around. Awestruck at this twofold miracle, the king begged the prophet to intercede with God for the restoration of his hand, which was accordingly healed (1Ki 13:1-6). B.C. 973. This measure had, however, no abiding effect. The policy on which he acted lay too deep in what he deemed the vital interests of his separate kingdom to be even thus abandoned; and the force of the considerations which determined his conduct may in part be appreciated from the fact that no subsequent king of Israel, however well disposed in other respects even ventured to lay a finger on this schismatical establishment (1Ki 13:33-34). Hence "the sin of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, wherewith he sinned and made Israel to sin," became a standing phrase in describing that iniquity from which no king of Israel departed. SEE IDOLATRY.
The contumacy of Jeroboam eventually brought upon him the doom which he probably dreaded beyond all others — the speedy extinction of the dynasty which he had taken so much pains and incurred so much guilt to establish on firm foundations. His son Abijah being sick, he sent his wife, disguised, to consult the prophet Ahijah, who had predicted that he should be king of Israel. The prophet, although he had become blind with age, knew the queen, and saluted her with, "Come in, thou wife of Jeroboam, for I am sent to thee with heavy tidings." These were not merely that the son should die for that was intended in mercy to one who alone, of all the house of Jeroboam, had remained faithful to his God, and was the only one who should obtain an honored grave but that his race should be violently and utterly extinguished: "I will take away the remnant of the house of Jeroboam as a man taketh away dung, till it be all gone" (1Ki 14:1-18). The son died as soon as the mother crossed the threshold on her return; and, as the death of Jeroboam himself is the next event recorded, it would seem that he did not long survive his son (1Ki 14:20). B.C. early in 951. (See Kitto's Daily Bible Illustrations, ad loc.)
"Jeroboam was at constant war with the house of Judah, but the only act distinctly recorded is a battle with Abijah, son of Rehoboam, in which, in spite of a skilful ambush made by Jeroboam, and of much superior force, he was defeated and for the time lost three important cities Beth-el. Jeshanah, and Ephraim. The Targum on Ru 4:20 mentions Jeroboam having stationed guards on the roads which guards had been slain by the people of Netophah; but what is here alluded to, or when it took place, we have at present no clue to." The Sept. has a long addition to the Biblical account (at 1Ki 12:24), evidently taken from some apocryphal source. Josephus simply follows the Hebrew text. (See Cassel, King Jeroboam, Erfurt, 1857.)
2. The son and successor of Jehoash, and the fourteenth king of Israel for a period of forty-one years, B.C. 823-782 (2Ki 14:23). He followed the example of the first Jeroboam in keeping up the idolatry of the golden calves (2Ki 14:24). Nevertheless, the Lord had pity upon Israel (2Ki 14:26), the time of its ruin had not yet come, and this reign was long and flourishing, being contemporary with those of Amaziah (2Ki 14:23) and Uzziah (2Ki 15:1) over Judah. Jeroboam brought to a successful result the wars which his father had undertaken, and was always victorious over the Syrians (comp. 2Ki 13:4; 2Ki 14:26-27). He even took their chief cities of Damascus (2Ki 14:28; Am 1:3-5) and Hamnath, which had formerly been subject to the sceptre of David, and restored to the realm of Israel the ancient eastern limits from Lebanon to the Dead Sea (2Ki 14:25; Am 6:14). Ammon and Moab were reconquered (Am 1:13; Am 2:1-3); the Transjordanic tribes were restored to their territory (2Ki 13:5; 1Ch 5:17-22). But it was merely an outward restoration. The sanctuary at Beth-el was kept up in royal state (Am 7:13), while drunkenness, licentiousness, and oppression prevailed in the country (Am 2:6-8; Am 4:1; Am 6:6; Ho 4:12-14; Ho 1:2), and idolatry was united with the worship of Jehovah (Ho 4:13; Ho 13:6). During this reign lived the prophets Hosea (Ho 1:1), Joel (comp. Joe 3:16 with Am 1:12), Amos (Am 1:1), and Jonah (2Ki 14:25). In Am 7:11, Amaziah, the high priest of Bethel, in reporting what he called the conspiracy of Amos against Jeroboam, represents the prophet as declaring that Jeroboam should die by the sword; and some would regard this as a prophecy that had failed of its fulfilment, as there is no evidence that his death was other than natural, for he was buried with his ancestors in state (2Ki 14:29), although the interregnum of eleven years which intervened before the accession of his son Zechariah (2Ki 14:23, comp. with 15:8) argues some political disorder at the time of his death (see the Studien und Kritiken, 1847, 3, 648). But the probability rather is that the high priest, who displayed the true spirit of a persecutor, gave an unduly specific and offensive turn to the words of Amos, in order to inflame Jeroboam the more against him. The only passages of Scripture where his name occurs are 2Ki 13:13; 2Ki 14:16,23,27-29; 2Ki 15:1,8; 1Ch 5:17; Ho 1:1; Am 1:1; Am 7:9-11; in all others the former Jeroboam is intended. SEE ISRAEL, KINGDOM OF.