JEROBOAM is the name of two kings of Israel.
1. Jeroboam I. was the first king of the northern tribes after the division. His first appearance in history is as head of the forced labourers levied by Solomon. This was perhaps because he was hereditary chief in Ephraim, but we must also suppose that he attracted the attention of Solomon by his ability and energy. At the same time he resented the tyranny of the prince whom he served, and plotted to overthrow it. The design came to the knowledge of Solomon, and Jeroboam fled to Egypt. On the king's death he returned, and although he did not appear on the scene when the northern tribes made their demand of Rehoboam, he was probably actively enlisted in the movement. When the refusal of Rehoboam threw the tribes into revolt, Jeroboam appeared as leader, and was made king (1Ki 11:26 ff., 1Ki 12:1 to 1Ki 14:20). Jeroboam was a warlike prince, and hostilities with Judah continued throughout his reign. His country was plundered by the Egyptians at the time of their invasion of Judah. It is not clearly made out whether his fortification of Shechem and Penuei was suggested by the experiences of this campaign or not. His religious measures have received the reprobation of the Biblical writers, but they were intended by Jeroboam to please the God of Israel. He embellished the ancestral sanctuaries of Bethel and Dan with golden bulls, in continuance of early Israelite custom. It is fair to assume also that he had precedent for celebrating the autumn festival in the eighth instead of the seventh month.
2. Jeroboam II. was the grandson of Jehu. In his time Israel was able to assert its ancient vigour against its hereditary enemy Syria, and recover its lost territory. This was due to the attacks of the Assyrians upon the northern border of Damascus (2Ki 14:23-29). The temporary prosperity of Israel was accompanied by social and moral degeneracy, as is set forth distinctly by Amos and Hosea.
H. P. Smith.