Bible records in the times of Jehoshaphat
King David ruled over a united kingdom of Israel, made up of the 12 tribes that had entered “the Promised Land” – the land which is still called Israel today, although at that time it included extra areas now claimed by the Palestinians and Jordan.
After David’s death, his son Solomon became king and expanded the kingdom even further – but in his later life he was led away from worshipping God into idolatry. In response, God said that the kingdom would be split in two in the reign of his son. This happened when Solomon died and his son Rehoboam became king. A man called Jeroboam led a rebellion and the nation was split into two smaller nations: Israel, made up of ten tribes with Jeroboam as their king, and Judah, made up of two tribes with Rehoboam as their king.
From that time on until the destruction of Israel by Assyria, the two nations swung like a pendulum between open war and a troubled co-existence. It was during this time that Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah, and he followed in the godly footsteps of David his ancestor (2 Chronicles 17:3).
Yet Jehoshaphat had a problem: he was too tolerant. Throughout his reign over Judah he kept looking for partnerships and friendship with the kingdom of Israel, despite the fact that Israel was deeply idolatrous. He even made a marriage alliance with Ahab, king of Israel, arranging for Jehoshaphat’s son Jehoram to marry Ahab’s daughter Athaliah. This unholy alliance almost caused the complete destruction of the kingdom of Judah within 30 years.
This is also the setting for the work of the prophets Elijah and Elisha.