How a Savior Became a Villain
Jeroboam and the Exodus
Jeroboam son of Nebat, who waves the banner of revolt in David’s court and founds the Kingdom of Israel, was the most despised figure in the eyes of the Judahite-Davidic historiographer who was the redactor of the book of Kings. Every king from the Israelite kingdom received an unfavorable judgment from the pen of that redactor, who never missed a chance to mention how this or that king’s behavior was like that of Jeroboam. Take, for instance, what he wrote about King Omri: “Omri did what was displeasing to the LORD…. He followed all the ways of Jeroboam son of Nebat and the sins which he committed and caused Israel to commit, vexing the LORD, the God of Israel” (1 Kings 16:25–26). Even regarding Zimri — Omri’s predecessor on the throne who managed to rule barely seven days before burning down the royal palace with himself inside — it is written that he died “because of the sins which he committed and caused Israel to commit, doing what was displeasing to the LORD and following the ways of Jeroboam” (v. 19).
In his closing remarks following the demise of the Kingdom of Israel, the redactor refers to Jeroboam’s rebellion as the original sin that left the kingdom with meager prospects: “For Israel broke away from the House of David, and they made Jeroboam son of Nebat king. Jeroboam caused Israel to stray from the LORD and to commit great sin, and the Israelites persisted in all the sins which Jeroboam had committed; they did not depart from them. In the end, the LORD removed