I made a timeline of all the kings of Israel and/or Judah mentioned in the Bible.
- There are some edge cases here, people I decided to include even though they may not exactly really be kings. Like Athaliah, who was the only queen who reigned over either of these kingdoms. And Jesus, who some people insisted on calling the king of Israel or the king of the Jews, despite the fact that neither he nor the people he was supposed to be king over agreed with that idea.
- I am only including kings of the Hebrew nations, not kings of other nations that happened to have power over the Hebrews at some point.
- The Bible states that God was king of Israel around the time of the death of Moses. Several times during the days of the judges, though, it says Israel had no king. I guess God must have abdicated at some point. But only temporarily, since by the time the Israelites start trying to get Samuel to appoint a king over them, God insists that he’s their king again. But he also says they’ve rejected him as their king at that time, so God is no longer king after that.
- The first human king of Israel in the Bible is actually not Saul, but Abimelek.
- Who’s this Joshua guy? Another little-known king? Several prophecies in the Bible mention a “Branch”, a righteous king descended from David who would bring God’s people together again. According to the book of Zechariah, that person was the high priest Joshua son of Jozadak.
- For the first seven years of his reign, David was only the king of Judah, which is kinda weird since that was supposedly before there even was a separate kingdom of Judah!
- Two of David’s sons (not Solomon) declared themselves king while David was still alive, but they were stopped so quickly, the Bible doesn’t even say how long they “reigned”.
- Manasseh had the longest reign of the kings shown here, 55 years.
- Joash became king the youngest, when he was just seven.
- Rehoboam became king the oldest, when he was 41.
- Dates shown here are rounded to the nearest five years. Some of these dates may not match the dates you’ll see elsewhere. That may be partly due to errors on my part, but I expect it’s mostly because different people are using different versions of the Bible, and because the Bible itself isn’t particularly consistent in the first place.
- When the Bible gives conflicting information on when something happened, here I just use whichever date fits better with the dates of surrounding events.
- If you examine the implied dates in the Bible, you’ll find that there are a few gaps where the kingdom of Israel had no king. For example, Jeroboam II of Israel dies 41 years after the 15th year of Amaziah of Judah. Since Amaziah’s reign was 29 years, that would be the 27th year of his successor, Azariah of Judah. But Jeroboam’s successor Zechariah doesn’t become king till the 38th year of Azariah. So that’s about an 11 year gap with no king of Israel. You’d think that would be worth mentioning, but the Bible never explicitly mentions that they were without a king for any significant amount of time, nor explains why the heir would take so long to become king.
- There are also a couple of overlaps, where the kingdom of Israel seems to have had two kings at the same time. For example, Omri was king of Israel till 12 years after the 31st year of Asa of Judah, but Ahab became king of Israel in the 38th year of Asa, which would be about 5 years before the end of Omri’s reign. Jehoahaz and Jehoash also overlap slightly. Again, the Bible doesn’t even explicitly acknowledge this odd situation, let alone explain why one kingdom would need two kings.
- I’ve color-coded the kings so you can see which ones the Bible says were good or evil. These are the Bible’s morality judgments, not mine. Based on what the Bible says they actually did, I wouldn’t call God, David, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Jehu, Joash, Amaziah, Hezekiah, Josiah, or Jesus “good”.
- Solomon is probably the most surprising morality judgment you’ll see here. Why is he labeled as evil? There are two passages in the Bible that judge Solomon’s morality. The first one says he was good, mostly, at first. The second one says he turned out evil and abandoned God. I’d say the second statement is stronger. And the Bible does say that if you turn evil, God doesn’t care how righteous you used to be.
- Including all the edge cases that may not have exactly been kings, the kingdoms of Israel and Judah had a total of 49 monarchs according to the Bible. 10 kings of all of Israel including Judah, 19 kings of just the northern kingdom of Israel, and 20 who were only monarchs of the southern kingdom of Judah. There were 13 kings the Bible calls good, 33 monarchs it says were evil, and 3 more that it doesn’t judge. Only one king of the northern kingdom of Israel is labeled as “good” (and he was actually a mass murderer).