The Kingdom Divides
Just the gist (for small children and others with tiny attention spans):
The kingdom of Israel split in two. The ten northern tribes banded together under a guy named Jeroboam, became idolators, worshiped at high places and were now called Israel. (High places were locations at high elevation where people would go to worship, usually, pagan gods). The tribe of Judah and Benjamin stayed with Solomon’s son Rohoboam, remained with the true God, worshiped at the temple and were now called Judah.
For those that can handle just a bit more:
Solomon’s son, Rohoboam, was a bit of a doody head. Once his father died, the people complained that Solomon had been a slave driver to them. “Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke upon us and we will serve you.” (1 Kings 12: 4) Which is Bible talk for: “Hey Rohoboam, could you, maybe, ease up on us just a bit?”
Rohoboam asked the old wise dudes that used to counsel his father how they thought he should handle it. “Be the servant of the people and serve them and they will serve you,” they said, sounding very wise-y. Rohoboam didn’t like the sound of that advice so he went to the young, dumb dudes that he hung out and partied with on weekends and asked how they thought he should handle it. Their advice was bad. It was so very bad. The first thing they told him to say is definitely not Christmas talk (1 Kings 12: just before line 11) and the last thing they told him to say was, “My father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.” His father Solomon chose wisdom. Rohoboam, chose not-wisdom. He went before the people of his kingdom who had asked him to just chill out a little with the taskmastering and responded, “Nay, people of Israel. In fact, I’m going to make things worse.”
The people’s response to his response was to split his kingdom in two. The ten northern tribes teamed up and became Israel. Their kings were not from the line of Judah. Their first king, Jereboam, was the former servant of King Solomon. Fortunately, God had put Jeroboam, who was a pretty good dude, into place to lead the northern tribes. Unfortunately, Jeroboam became paranoid about losing his new God-given kingdom. He didn’t want anyone going to the southern kingdom to worship at the temple and having their hearts turned back to worshipping the Davidic king so he made not one, but two golden calves and told his people it was the calves that brought them out of Egypt. (1 Kings 12:25-33) He turned the hearts of his people to idolatry, a big no-no in the eyes of God.
The tribe of Judah and Benjamin stayed with Rohoboam and they became known as Judah. They remained faithful to kings from the line of David and their hearts abided with God and His temple. Off and on.