Israel and Judah fight each other

1 Kings 15:1-8   Rehoboam is succeeded by his son Abijah as King of Judah (from c.914 to c.912BC). Throughout his reign, Judah is at war with Israel.

1 Kings 15:9-16   Abijah’s son Asa becomes King of Judah in c.912BC. He burns the idols and cuts down the ‘Asherah poles’. He is constantly at war with Israel.

1 Kings 15:17-34   Jeroboam’s son, Nadab, is killed by Baasha who becomes King of Israel in c.910BC. Baasha fortifies Ramah (c.5 miles / 8 km north of Jerusalem, the capital of Judah) (see Map 50) to protect himself from the people of Judah. King Asa of Judah then forges an alliance with Ben-Hadad, the King of Aram (based at Damascus in Syria), who conquers the northern parts of Israel around Dan and Kinnereth (the Sea of Galilee). So King Baasha of Israel abandons Ramah and retreats north to Tirzah, where he builds a new capital in the hill country of Ephraim north east of Shechem.

The people of Judah occupy the land immediately north of Jerusalem, and use the stone and timber from Ramah to fortify Geba and Mizpah (see Map 54). In fulfilment of Ahijah’s prophesy (see 1 Kings 14:10), Baasha destroys the whole of Jeroboam’s family. 

 

Elementary school at Al-Jiftlik (Guillaume Paumier)

Elementary school at Al-Jiftlik near the site of Tirzah  (Guillaume Paumier)

 

Tirzah

Tirzah (meaning ‘she is my delight’) was a city in the central hills of Samaria, north east of Shechem. It was originally a Canaanite city-state whose king was killed when the Israelites conquered Canaan in c.1406 BC (see Joshua 12:24).

In the poetry of Solomon, the lover’s partner is said to be “as beautiful as the city of Tirzah” (Song of Solomon 6:4). After the collapse of the United Monarchy of Israel and Judah on the death of King Solomon in c.931 BC, his son Jeroboam built a royal residence at Tirzah (see 1 Kings 14:17). King Baasha moved the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel to Tirzah in c.910 BC.

Tirzah continued to flourish during the reigns of Baasha, Elah and Zimri (see 1 Kings 15:33, 16:6, 8, 15 & 23), but Omri virtually destroyed the city when deposing Zimri in c.886BC, and transferred the capital to Samaria in c.881 BC (see 1 Kings 16:24). Later, Menahem used Tirzah as a base from which to attack and assassinate King Shallum of Israel at Samaria in 740BC (see 2 Kings 15:13-14). Tirzah was finally destroyed by King Shalmaneser V of Assyria in 523BC (see 2 Kings 17:5).

The site of Tirzah has been identified as Tell el-Farah (North) near modern-day Al-Jiftlik in the Wadi Farah between Shechem (modern-day Nablus) and Adam (in the Jordan Valley). Excavations have revealed remains of houses and streets from the time when Tirzah was capital of Israel. Clear signs of the destruction by Omri, and the subsequent abandonment of the city, are accompanied by evidence of re-building during the reign of Jeroboam II (782-741 BC). Opulent stone dwellings surrounded by lowly hovels reflect the social inequalities of the day condemned by the prophet Amos (see Amos 5:11-13).

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