Long, Successful Reign

Under Jeroboam II Israel enjoyed one of its most happy periods of political and economic security. The prophet Jonah, who had anointed Jeroboam's great-grandfather Jehu, was still alive at that time, and he predicted many good years under the reign of the new king. Indeed, Jeroboam II was a most able ruler. During his forty years as king over Israel he recovered every piece of land that had ever been lost by his predecessors. He subdued the king of Moab and captured parts of Syria proper, including Damascus, the capital. At first Jeroboam likewise maintained the stern control over his neighbor, the king of Judah, which his father had exerted; he also held members of the royal family of Judah as hostages. Later, however, he realized that friendship and mutual assistance between the two related kingdoms were much better insurance for their existence in troubled times than force and enmity. He not only helped repair some of the damage his father had done to Judah, but he also gave part of the land he had taken from Syria to the king of Judah.

Economic Boom

Hand in hand with the happy political situation under Jeroboam II, went an economic prosperity which found expression in an extremely wealthy and luxurious life of the population. Friendly relations with the Phoenicians, who were the greatest merchants and seafaring people of those days, brought rare things of beauty and luxury into Israel. This unusual prosperity, however, was accompanied by an unprecedented collapse of moral standards. It was an age of corruption in which wealth and power ruled the day. During this age there appeared in Israel great prophets who deplored the wickedness of the people and appealed for a return to the laws of justice and morality of the Torah. However the people went their own way. Idolatry spread all over the country. The people built many altars on mountains, to serve Baal and Ashtarte, and they even sacrificed their children to the abominable cult of Moloch. They viewed with contempt the teachings of the Torah and the holy commandments.

Again and again G‑d sent His prophets to the people to admonish them to better their evil ways and return to G‑d. Yet their admonitions were unheeded. The prophets themselves were ridiculed, and the people indulged more and more in their life of depravity and luxury.