In the last part of our study we looked at some of the earliest mentions of kings in the Bible who followed Nimrod, the first said to have had a kingdom (Genesis 10:8-12). We learned about those early kings because of their connection to Abram and his nephew Lot (Genesis 14).

God promised Abraham and Sarah that “kings shall come from you” (Genesis 17). God repeated that promise to Abraham and Sarah’s grandson Jacob whose sons would become the 12 tribes of Israel.

“I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body.”

Genesis 35:11

As we read through the writings of Moses we do not find mention of any kings who came from Abraham and Sarah. However, Moses did prophesy about a future king for Israel –

“When you come to the land which the Lord your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me,’ you shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother.”

Deuteronomy 17:14-15

As we read through the entirety of the prophecy of the future kings in Deuteronomy 17, we see just how true it became later in the life of the Jewish nation.

The Kings of Israel

Here is a list of the kings who came from Abraham and Sarah. After we finish listing the kings who came from Abraham and Sarah (and Jacob), we will see what we can learn about the crowns and thrones of those Jewish kings. [Dates of kings’ reigns approximate]

United Kingdom

  • King Saul — 1051-1011 BC
  • King David — 1011-971 BC
  • King Solomon — 971-931 BC

Divided Kingdom – Northern (Israel)

  1. King Jeroboam — 931-910 BC
  2. King Nadab — 910-909 BC
  3. King Baasha — 909-886 BC
  4. King Elah — 886-885 BC
  5. King Zimri — 885 BC (7 days)
  6. King Omri — 885-874 BC
  7. King Ahab — 874-853 BC
  8. King Ahaziah — 853-852 BC
  9. King Joram — 852-841 BC
  10. King Jehu — 841-814 BC
  11. King Jehoahaz — 814-798 BC
  12. King Jehoash — 798-782 BC
  13. King Jeroboam II — 793-753 BC (co-regent with his father)
  14. King Zechariah — 753 BC
  15. King Shallum — 752 BC (one month)
  16. King Menahem — 752-742 BC
  17. King Pekahiah — 742-740 BC
  18. King Pekay — 752-732 BC
  19. King Hoshea — 732-722 BC

The Northern Kingdom of Israel ended after the King of Assyria defeated the Jews in Samaria and carried the people away to Assyria and placed them in Halah and by the Habor, the River of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. This happened in the ninth year of King Hoshea’s rule. You can read about the end of the Northern Kingdom in 2 Kings 17. The King of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Ava Hamath and Sepharvaim and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel.

Divided Kingdom – Southern (Judah)

  1. King Rehoboam — 931-913 BC
  2. King Abijah — 913-911 BC
  3. King Asa — 911-870 BC
  4. King Jehoshaphat — 873-848 BC (co-regent with his father)
  5. King Jehoram — 853-841 BC (co-regent with his father)
  6. King Ahaziah — 841 BC
  7. Queen Athaliah — 841-835 BC (daughter of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel of Israel .. married to King Jehoram)
  8. King Joash — 835-796 BC
  9. King Amaziah — 796-767 BC
  10. King Uzziah — 792-740 BC
  11. King Jotham — 750-732 BC (co-regent with his father)
  12. King Ahaz — 735-716 BC (co-regent with his father)
  13. King Hezekiah — 716-687 BC
  14. King Manasseh — 697-643 BC (co-regent with his father)
  15. King Amon — 643-641 BC
  16. King Josiah — 641-609 BC
  17. King Jehoahaz — 609 BC (three months)
  18. King Jehoiakim — 609–598 BC
  19. King Jehoiachin — 598-597 BC
  20. King Zedekiah — 597-586 BC

The Southern Kingdom of Judah ended after King Nebuchadnezzar defeated Judah and removed the people of Judah to Babylon. That was a little more than 150 years after the defeat of the Northern Kingdom. You can read about the end of the Southern Kingdom in 2 Kings 25. King Nebuchadnezzar did not move non-Jewish people into Judah. Instead, he left the land uninhabited (for the most part). A small number of Jews moved back to Judah to rebuild Jerusalem and some of the cities of Judah about 70 years after the exile began.

Crowns and Thrones of Israel

The people of Israel said they wanted a king “like all the nations” (1 Samuel 8:5). They were not satisfied to have God as their King. They wanted to be like the nations around them, which tells us a lot about how they viewed the position of a king. Even after Samuel told the people what life would be like with an earthly king ruling over them, they still wanted a human king –

“Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, ‘No, but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”

1 Samuel 8:19-20

God’s response to Samuel was simple and direct – “Heed their voice, and make them a king.”

What Samuel told the people about what it would mean to be ruled by a human king tells us something about how kings ruled in those ancient times –

“This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you:

  • He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. 
  • He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 
  • He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. 
  • And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. 
  • He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. 
  • And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work.
  • He will take a tenth of your sheep.
  • And you will be his servants. 
  • And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the Lord will not hear you in that day.” 1 Samuel 8:11-18

Kings had complete control over their people. They often ruled selfishly and cruelly. God wanted to spare His people from human kings, but Israel wanted to be like other nations.

Israel’s experience with kings ruling over them began centuries before asking Samuel for a king. They had lived under the cruel kingship of Egyptian pharaohs. They knew that the pharaohs wore crowns and sat on thrones. After living in Canaan for many years and dealing with nations around them, they knew that pagan kings wore crowns and sat on thrones. They also had the example of Aaron and other high priests of Israel who wore “the holy crown on the turban” (Exodus 29:6). The “holy crown” was a plate made of pure gold with this engraving – ‘HOLINESS TO THE LORD.’ Aaron and the high priests who followed him were to wear the crown “always be on his forehead, that they may be accepted before the Lord” (Exodus 28:38). The purpose of that was “that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things which the children of Israel hallow in all their holy gifts.”

King Saul

Saul was Israel’s first human king. He was the son of Kish of the tribe of Benjamin. We know from descriptions in 1 Samuel that Saul was handsome and tall. We know what Saul wore when he went out to battle –

“So Saul clothed David with his armor, and he put a bronze helmet on his head; he also clothed him with a coat of mail. David fastened his sword to his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them.

1 Samuel 17:38-39

King Saul also wore a robe –

“And David arose and secretly cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. Now it happened afterward that David’s heart troubled him because he had cut Saul’s robe.”

1 Samuel 24:4-5

We know that King Saul wore a crown because a man brought it to David after Saul was killed –

“And I took the crown that was on his head and the bracelet that was on his arm, and have brought them here to my lord.”

2 Samuel 1:10

Though Saul may have sat on a throne-style seat, it is not mentioned in the Bible. We see in 1 Samuel 20 that when Saul sat down for the New Moon Festival he “sat on his seat, as at other times, on a seat by the wall” (1 Samuel 20:25). Saul had a particular seat for special occasions, which may have served as a throne or place of rule.

King David

David became King of Judah after Saul’s death. Ishbosheth, who was a son of Saul, became King of Israel. While Ishbosheth was a puppet king, David was a ruling king. Ishbosheth was murdered by two brothers who were captains of the king’s troops. David became king of a unified Israel (all tribes) soon after that.

David had already been given Saul’s crown (1 Samuel 24:4-5), so he may have worn that when he became King of a unified Israel. He was king of Judah in Hebron for seven years and six months, then ruled over Israel and Judah in Jerusalem for 33 years (2 Samuel 5:4-5). He began his rule at the age of 30 and ruled for a total of 40 years.

David determined that Jerusalem would be his capital city, so he led his new unified army to fight against the Jebusites who lived there. David’s army defeated the Jebusites and Jerusalem became known as the City of David (2 Samuel 5:9).

One interesting story about David and crowns is found in 2 Samuel 12. Joab fought against Rabbah of the people of Ammon. Joab, who was one of David’s generals, wanted David to be involved in taking the city so it would be called after the king’s name. David went to Rabbah and joined with Joab and others in fighting against the enemy. They took Rabbah, the capital city of the Ammonites, and the crown of the enemy king was placed on David’s head. It weighed about a hundred pounds (talent of gold with precious stones). That was typical of what conquering kings did in ancient times. The crown of the conquered king would be placed on the head of the conquering king to demonstrate complete victory and dominance.

The Hebrew word for throne is כִּסֵּ֣א (kissê) and means “seat of honor, seat of authority, throne.” It was used for both the actual seat and for the larger idea of a king’s rule. Here’s an example of each –

Physical Seat of Kingdom Rule

“And the king took an oath and said, ‘As the Lord lives, who has redeemed my life from every distress, just as I swore to you by the Lord God of Israel, saying, ‘Assuredly Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he shall sit on my throne in my place,’ so I certainly will do this day.” 1 Kings 1:29-30 

1 Kings 1:13

Larger Idea of Kingdom Rule

“May God do so to Abner, and more also, if I do not do for David as the Lord has sworn to him— to transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul, and set up the throne of David over Israel and over Judah, from Dan to Beersheba.”

2 Samuel 3:9-10

 King Solomon

Solomon became King of Israel and Judah just before his father, King David, died. “Then Solomon sat on the throne of his father David; and his kingdom was firmly established” (1 Kings 2:12). This is how David charged Solomon for the role he would play as the new king of the unified tribes –

“I go the way of all the earth; be strong, therefore, and prove yourself a man. And keep the charge of the Lord your God: to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His judgments, and His testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn; that the Lord may fulfill His word which He spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons take heed to their way, to walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul,’ He said, ‘you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.”

1 Kings 2:2-4

Solomon began several building projects including the Holy Temple. He also built other buildings that were part of his ruling position as King of Israel. One of the buildings contained his throne –

“Then he made a hall for the throne, the Hall of Judgment, where he might judge; and it was paneled with cedar from floor to ceiling.”

1 Kings 7:7

Solomon became very well known for his wisdom as a judge and much of that judgment was done from his throne. He was also extremely wealthy and spared no expense on his throne –

“Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with pure gold. The throne had six steps, and the top of the throne was round at the back; there were armrests on either side of the place of the seat, and two lions stood beside the armrests. Twelve lions stood there, one on each side of the six steps; nothing like this had been made for any other kingdom.”

1 Kings 10:18-20

Next Time

Solomon was the last king of a unified Israel, but it’s important to note that God promised King David that his throne would be an eternal throne. “When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom” (2 Samuel 7:12). The covenant God made with David did not stop with Solomon or any of the kings of Israel or Judah. The promise God made was much bigger than a small crown on a human sitting on a small throne in Jerusalem. We’ll learn more about that promise as we continue our special study – Crowns and Thrones: The Majesty of Our God.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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