King David

David was the greatest of the kings and the quintessential example of what a Jewish monarch should be. He ruled for 40 years (2884-2924), seven years in Hebron and 33 years in Jerusalem. David conquered Jerusalem in 2891 and made it the capital of the Jewish state, a status it has enjoyed since. Previously, Jerusalem was a non-Jewish Jebusite city.

Almost no one in Scripture suffered as much as David. From the day he was anointed king by Samuel, he knew only tribulation, persecution, and humiliation, yet he could still say, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” His Psalms have captivated the hearts of the Jewish people for all time, enjoying the greatest familiarity next to the Chumash. Every noble emotion utilized in the service of G‑d is encapsulated in the book ofPsalms.

As king, David received a promise from G‑d unique in the annals of mankind: the monarchy is his forever. No matter how corrupt his descendants become, they cannot lose it. In the future, the Messianic redeemer will be from David’s lineage. Although he is mentioned more than 1,000 times in Scripture – more than any other individual — Bible critics doubted his existence until recent excavations revealed pottery inscribed with his name. David died at the age of 70.

King Solomon

Solomon ruled from 2924-2964, his reign constituting the Golden Age of the Jewish people. Wealthy, powerful, numerous, and united, under Solomon the Jewish people controlled all of Eretz Israel and dominated many lands beyond. Nevertheless, the seeds of destruction were planted during Solomon’s reign. As the wisest of all men, he wrongly felt that the Torah’s laws regarding monarchy did not apply to him. Consequently, he amassed great wealth, acquired many horses, and married many women, all actions expressly prohibited by the Torah. Although his non-Jewish wives converted, they also introduced idolatrous practices that became entrenched in Jewish society. Despite the troubling aspects of his monarchy, Solomon has vast achievements to his credit. He built the First Temple in 2928; composed the Scriptural books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs; and instituted the rabbinic injunctions of netilas yadayim, the ritual washing of hands before a meal, and the Sabbath eruv. Solomon died at the age of 52.

Rehoboam and the Division of the Kingdom

Unfortunately, Rehoboam, Solomon’s son and successor, did not possess even a fraction of his father’s wisdom. When the people asked that he lighten their tax burden, he rejected the advice of his sages to acquiesce in their request, instead adopting the counsel of his youthful advisers to impose even harsher strictures. In response, the people revolted against Rehoboam’s rule and appointed Jeroboam, of the tribe of Ephraim, as their ruler. Thus the Jewish people split into two monarchies: the Northern Kingdom, known as the Kingdom of Israel, or the Ten Tribes; and the Southern Kingdom, encompassing the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi. The Ten Tribes controlled the more fertile areas of the north and most of Eretz Israel, while the Kingdom of Judah included the spiritual centers of Jerusalem and the Bais Hamikdash.


A brilliant scholar and eminent personality, Jeroboam’s character flaws caused him to create an irreversible rift among the Jewish people. Jeroboam realized that a threat to his legitimacy would arise when his people traveled to the Bais Hamikdash on holidays. According to Jewish law, only the Davidic king may be seated in the Temple Courtyard, thus demonstrating Jeroboam as an impostor. He therefore posted guards at the borders to prevent access to the Temple. To compound his break with Jerusalem, Jeroboam set up shrines at Dan and Bethel, placed golden images of calves in them, and proclaimed new holidays. Although his motives for instituting these changes were political and not religious, these shrines spearheaded a new idolatrous cult among the Ten Tribes, which eventually destroyed them spiritually. Even when G‑d offered him reward in Heaven second only to David’s, Jeroboam refused to repent, as he could not bear not being the best. His great potential squandered, he is held up as the prime example of “One who sins and leads many people astray.”