Why the Kingdom of Israel Split

Why did Israel split into two separate kingdoms? What happened in the north? We explore this important chapter for Israel, Judah, and Israelite history.

Marie-Claire De Villiers
By Marie-Claire De Villiers
Edited by Joel Taylor

Published December 29, 2021.

In ancient times, the Kingdom of Israel was a larger area than it is today and was united under one king by the name of Solomon. Although conflict between tribes was often brewing, it was a single nation. However, as punishment for his sin and idol worship, God created a split in the nation of Israel, into two separate kingdoms. At his death, King Solomon admitted his weakness.

The Split of the Kingdom of Israel

In ancient Israelite history, the main split took place around 975 BC, after the death of King Solomon. The southern kingdom, which accepted Rehoboam (King Solomon's son) as their king, was called Judah and encompassed the capital of Jerusalem. The northern kingdom became known as Israel or sometimes Ephraim, under Jeroboam, with its principal city at Shechem in Samaria.

Causes of Israel's Split

King Solomon indulged in numerous pagan wives and idolatry (the worship of false idols), which angered God. His death, along with the protests caused by the high taxes imposed by him and his son Rehoboam (who then took the throne), was the impetus for a split, which weakened both groups of people. The group of tribes known as the Ten Tribes separated and took up the northern part of Israel under King Jeroboam.

The Kingdom of Israel Today

Israel and Judah co-existed and fought with each other for around two centuries until, eventually, only Judah (the southern area) was left intact. In 1948, this southern area (which used to be known as Judah) was declared the State of Israel. In the northern part and surroundings, there are still many ongoing and difficult conflicts.

Many people believe that a time of complete peace and reconciliation is on its way. By showing the way through loving-kindness and graceful forgiveness, we can be part of this and move forward towards a world of harmony while showing faith and trust in God.