Two Kingdoms and Twelve Tribes


In his later years Solomon deteriorated. He imposed heavy taxes upon the people, some of which went to support extravagance and wickedness. After his death the people asked his son Rehoboam (heir to the throne) if he would give them relief. Rehoboam chose to follow the counsel of his young friends rather than that of old and experienced advisors. He answered the people harshly saying he would impose greater burdens on them. Therefore, many of the people rebelled against him. Jeroboam, of the tribe of Ephraim, led the revolt.  (KJV 2 Chronicles 10; 1 Kings 11-12) 

            It had been prophesied that Solomon's kingdom would be divided because of wickedness. There was a jealous struggle for preeminence between the tribes of Judah and Ephraim. Rehoboam's poor leadership, combined with other conditions, re­sulted in a division of the kingdom.   

            The southern kingdom was known as Judah, and Jerusalem was the capital city. The northern kingdom was known as Israel. Shechem was the first center of power in the north, but Samaria eventually became the capital (about 975 B.C.).

     The southern kingdom consisted mainly of the tribe of Judah, and was ruled by descendants of Judah and David, starting with Rehoboam. Most of the small tribe of Benjamin eventually joined the kingdom of Judah.  Many of the Priests and Levites aligned with Judah because the temple was in Jerusalem.

            Ephraim was the dominant tribe in the northern kingdom which included the balance of the House of Israel. The northern kingdom was first ruled by Jeroboam. Jeroboam led his people into sin and even appointed some of the worst of the people to be priests and officers. (KJV I Kings 12, 13)

            The northern kingdom became very wicked. Because of wickedness, war, and famine, a number of people moved to (or became part of) the southern kingdom, including many legitimate priests and some members of the tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon. (KJV 2 Chronicles 15:9) 

            Eventually the kingdom of Israel was conquered by the Assyrians, and many of the people were carried away captive (about 721 B.C.). They were ultimately released but they went into the "north countries" instead of returning to their homeland. At this point they vanish from the biblical record. They have been referred to as the lost tribes of Israel, and have become known as The Lost Ten Tribes. (3 Nephi 16:1-3; 17:4)

There were also eras of great wickedness in the kingdom of Judah, especially just before the Babylonian captivity (which was about 587 to 530 B.C.) and during the period between the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Kingdom of Judah was often subjugated by foreign powers, but the people of Judah were prominent in the Jerusalem area until after the time of Christ. There were few members of tribes other than Judah in the Jerusalem area by New Testament times. However, the apostle Paul identified himself as a Benjamite. (KJV Rom. 11:1)


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