In the time of Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, a clear-cut and permanent division of the Kingdom came. It was not chance, nor Rehohoam, nor the agitators in Israel; it was God who did it! I Kings 12: 24 “Thus saith the Lord, Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel: return every man to his house, for this thing is from Me.”
Five years previously God had taken the first step, when He sent Ahijah to Jeroboam to say, “Behold, I will rend the Kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee”: and again, “But I will take the Kingdom out of his son’s hand, and will give it unto thee, even ten tribes.” (1 Kings 11: 31,35) This strange announcement was before Solomon’s death!
Seeing that the twelve tribes were permanently divided at God’s orders, we should consider which house of the two did the great promises of blessing go?
The blessing of Jacob as he lay dying will give us all this: and Moses’ blessing to the twelve tribes confirms the statement of Jacob. (Genesis 49 & Deuteronomy 33)
Before the division actually occurred, Ahijah the prophet went at God’s command to Jeroboam, a man of
Ephraim; he announced to him that God would make him King over Ten Tribes. (1 Kings 11: 31), “And he said to Jeroboam, take thee ten pieces; for thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, Behold, I will rend the Kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give Ten Tribes to thee.” Notice, “I will rend the Kingdom out of the hand of Solomon,” and verse 35 confirms this ” But I will take the Kingdom out of his son’s hand, and will give it thee, Even Ten Tribes.”
In both these passages the Ten Tribes are called “The KINGDOM”!
This is very significant, and it is done at God’s command! God was also about to authorize a portion of the nation, the Ten Tribes, to take and to use this distinctive and birthright name of Israel.
The Name Israel
When the division took place, this great name “Israel,” the God-given name, which God frequently used when speaking of Himself (calling Himself the God of Israel), went at God’s command to the Ten Tribes.
Please notice verse 36: “And unto his son” (Solomon’s son, Rehohoam) “will I give ONE Tribe!”
Verse 37: “And I will take thee” (Jeroboam) and thou shall reign according to all that thy soul desireth, and shalt be King over “Israel””
Verse 38: “And will give “Israel” unto THEE” (Jeroboam).
Do you notice the contrast – ONE TRIBE to Rehoboam and “ISRAEL,” with all that meant, to Jeroboam?
2 King’s 17: 18: “Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel” (the Ten Tribes), “and removed them out of His sight: there was none left but the Tribe of Judah only.”
Verse 21, however, is clearer still: “For He” (God) “rent ISRAEL from the house of David.”
And 2 Chron. 10: 19, in recording the same incident, says, “And ISRAEL rebelled against the house of David unto this day.”
So to the Ten Tribes went the KINGDOM and the wonderful name “ISRAEL.” The patriarch Israel, as he lay dying, passed on the name to Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. (Genesis 48: 16) Of these Ephraim was chief.
We have seen that the Ten Tribes received the Kingdom and the name, so that, now, which tribe received the birthright? Scripture tells us this very plainly in 1 Chron. 5: 1-2. Speaking of Reuben, it says: “Forasmuch as he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph”; and the next verse says, . . “but the birthright was Joseph’s.”
So, to the Ten Tribes went the Kingdom, the name, the rights of Israel and the birthright-and with these went THE BLESSING.
Rehoboam, the rightful heir to the kingly line, was only allowed to be king over one tribe, that is, JUDAH, and finally two, when Benjamin was loaned to him. Jeroboam, who was merely a servant of Solomon, was given the kingship over “ISRAEL”!
Why did God ordain that Israel should be divided at all?
If we examine the promises of God to Jacob, and through Jacob to his sons, as to what should come upon them in the latter days, you will find why God did it. It was because God had a different future marked out in the latter days for the two peoples which could only be fulfilled in separation. In other words, Judah remained “His sanctuary” and Israel, His dominion, must become “A nation and a company of nations.” “Truly his younger brother” (Ephraim) “shall be greater than he.” (Genesis 48: 19) “His branches” (Joseph’s) “shall run over the wall.” (Genesis 49: 22). And so, even out of Israel’s division, her sin and banishment, God is quietly, unobtrusively, yet, effectually, fulfilling every jot and tittle of those otherwise impossible predictions. Thus, also, He provides for Himself a separated people to be His witnesses, His servants, His messengers, His world evangelizers. Israel was the son hidden, to go into his Father’s vineyard, and who refused, but after long rebellion eventually repented and went. (Slightly abridged)