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Monarchy and Religious Institution in Israel under Jeroboam I
Wesley Irwin Toews
Publication Date
January 1997


“The goal of the present inquiry is to probe behind the biblical reporting and evaluating to discover what significance Jeroboam’s kingship may have had for the course of religion in the Israelite State. One must investigate whether and to what extent Jeroboam introduced innovative features into the religion in Israel that might have been perceived by his contemporaries as un-Yahwistic and un-Israelite, or whether the reality of the situation in Jeroboam’s time has actually been obscured by prejudiced reporting and evaluating by the Judahite authors who edited and shaped the traditions into their present form. Thus, an important task for the following pages will be to search out evidence of when and why various perceptions of Jeroboam arose. Did Jeroboam’s contemporaries perceive him as one who pushed aside their ancient and revered traditions in favor of new religious practices, or did they perceive him as one who supported those ancient traditions? When and on what grounds did the unequivocal denunciation of Jeroboam arise?

The following inquiry is organized into six chapters. The first chapter enters into a preliminary inquiry concerning one central aspect of the religion in Israel before the time of Jeroboam. It inquires about the identity of the deities revered in earliest Israel. This preparatory step is essential if, at a later point, one wishes to inquire whether Jeroboam maintained or abandoned the ancient traditions. … The second chapter will seek, on a text-critical, form-critical, and traditio-historical basis, to analyze the primary texts which pertain to Jeroboam as a preparatory step for the use of these materials as evidence. … The main tasks of this monograph will be taken up in the third and fourth chapters. Chapter three will inquire regarding the purpose and significance of Jeroboam’s various initiatives, always keeping in view the question of whether and to what extent Jeroboam introduced innovative policies that marked significant departures from Israelite religious traditions. Proceeding on the assumption that significant departures from tradition would have provoked opposition among Jeroboam’s contemporaries, the fourth chapter will investigate those biblical texts that might be interpreted to show evidence of such. In this way it can offer somewhat of a check on the conclusions of the chapter that precedes it. The fifth chapter will draw together conclusions on the basis of the investigation presented in the third and fourth chapters. The sixth and final chapter will carry forward with an inquiry into why Jeroboam’s cult and, specifically, the calf images which he installed, finally met with such categorical rejection by authors such as Hosea and the DtrH.”
—from the introduction