Story One

 •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 8
WHEN the strong rule of King Sŏĺ o-mon was ended by his death, and his weak son, Rē-ho-bṓ am, followed him as king, all the people of Ĭś̝ ra-el rose as one man against the heavy burdens which Sŏĺ o-mon had laid upon the land. They would not allow Rē-ho-bṓ am to be crowned king in Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm, but made him come to Shḗ chem, in the tribe-land of Ḗ phră-ĭm, and in the center of the country. The people sent for Jĕr-o-bṓ am, who was in Ḗ ġy̆pt, and he became their leader. They said to Rē-ho-bṓ am, "Your father, Sŏĺ o-mon, laid upon us heavy burdens of taxes and of work. If you will promise to take away our load, and make the taxes and the work lighter, then we will receive you as king, and will serve you.”
"Give me three days," said Rē-ho-bṓ am, "and then I will tell you what I will do.”
So Jĕr-o-bṓ am and the people waited for three days, while Rē-ho-bṓ am talked with the rulers and with his friends. Rē-ho-bṓ am first called together the old men who had stood before the throne of Sŏĺ o-mon and had helped him in his rule. He said to these men, "What answer shall I give to this people, who ask to have their burdens made light?”
And these old men said to King Rē-ho-bṓ am, ".If you will be wise to-day, and yield to the people, and speak good words to them, then they will submit to you, and will serve you always. Tell them that you will take off the heavy burdens, and that you will rule the land in kindness.”
But Rē-ho-bó am would not heed the advice of these wise old men. He talked with the young princes who had grown up with him in the palace, and who cared nothing for the people or their troubles and he said to these young men, "The people are asking to have their heavy burdens taken away. What shall I say to them?”
And the young nobles said to Rē-ho-bṓ am, "Say to the people this, `My father made your burdens heavy, but I will make them heavier still. My father beat you with whips, but I will sting you with scorpions. My little finger shall be thicker than my father's waist.'”
On the third day Jĕr-o-bō am and all the people came to Rē-ho-bṓ am for his answer. And the foolish young king did not follow the good advice of the old men who knew the people and their needs. He did as the haughty young princes told him to do, and spoke harshly to the people, and said, "My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to it, and make it heavier. You will find my little finger thicker than my father's waist. My father struck you with whips, but I will sting you with scorpions." Then the people of Ĭś̝ ra-el were very angry against the king. They said, "Why should we submit any longer to the house of Dā́ vid? Let us leave the family of Dā́ vid, and choose a king of our own. To your tents, O Ĭś̝ ra-el! Now, Rē-ho-bṓ am, son of Dā́ vid, care for your own house!”
Thus in one day ten of the twelve tribes of Ĭś̝ ra-el broke away forever from the rule of King Rē-ho-bṓ am and the house of Dā́ vid. They made Jĕr-o-bṓ am, of the tribe of Ḗ phră-ĭm, their king. In his kingdom was all the land northward from Bĕth́=el to Dăn, and also all the tribes on the east of the river Jordan. His kingdom being the larger, was called Ĭś̝ ra-el; but it was also called "the kingdom of the Ten Tribes," and because Ḗ phră,-ĭm Was its leading tribe, it was often spoken of as "the land of Ḗphră-ĭm.”
When Rē-ho-bṓ am saw that he had lost his kingdom, he made haste to save his life by fleeing away from Shḗ chem. He rode in his chariot quickly to Jē̇-rṳ-sā̇́ lĕm, where the people were his friends; and there he ruled as king, but only over the tribe of Jū́ dah and as much of Bĕń ja-mĭn as was south of Bĕth́=el. The tribe of Sĭḿ e-on had once lived on the south of Jū́ dah, but some of its people were lost among the people of Jū́ dah, and others among the Arabs of the desert, so that it was no longer a separate tribe.
Rē-ho-bṓ am ruled over the mountain country on the west of the Dead Sea, but he had no control over the Phĭ-lĭś tĭne cities on the plain beside the Great Sea. So the kingdom of Jū́ dah, as it was called, was less than one-third the size of the kingdom of Ĭś̝ ra-el, or the Ten Tribes.
Dā́ vid had conquered, and Sŏĺ o-mon had ruled, not only the land of Ĭś̝ ra-el, but sy̆ŕ ĭ-ȧ on the north of Ĭś̝ ra-el, reaching up to the great river Eū-phrā́ tēs̝, and Ammon by the desert on the east, and Mṓ ab on the east of the Dead Sea, and Ḗ dom on the south. When the kingdom was divided, all the empire of Sŏĺ o-mon was broken up. The Sy̆ŕ ĭ-ans̝ formed a kingdom of their own, having Dā̇-măś cus as its chief city. The Ăḿ mon-ītes, the Mṓ ab-ītes, and the Ḗ dom-ītes, all had their own kings, though the king of Mṓ ab was for a time partly under the king of Ĭś̝ ra-el, and the king of Ḗ dom partly under the king of Jū́ dah. So the great and strong empire founded by Dā́ vid, and held by Sŏĺ o-mon, fell apart, and became six small, struggling states.
Yet all this was by the will of the Lord, who did not wish Ĭś̝ ra-el to become a great nation, but a good people. The Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes were growing rich, and were living for the world, while God desired them to be his people, and to worship him only. So, when Rē-he-bṓ am undertook to gather an army to fight the Ten Tribes, and to bring them under his rule, God sent a prophet to Rē-he-bṓ am, who said to him, "Thus saith the Lord, Ye shall not go up and fight against your brothers, the children of Ĭś̝ ra-el. Return every man to his house; for it is God's will that there should be two kingdoms.”
And the men of Jū́ dah obeyed the word of the Lord, and left the Ten Tribes to have their own kingdom and their own king.