Jeroboam and the Grandfathers
To any of you of the tribe of Ephraim please take note of this story.
Solomon, the ancient king of Israel, turned his heart from the Lord. Therefore the Lord sought another. One day Jeroboam, an Ephraimite and a mighty man of valor was walking down the road with the prophet Ahijah, when Ahijah caught the new garment Jeroboam was wearing and tore it into twelve pieces. “Take thee ten pieces,” he said, “for thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, Behold I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee….And thou shalt reign according to all that thy soul desireth, and shalt be king over Israel. And it shall be, if thou wilt hearken unto all that I command thee… I will be with thee, and build thee a sure house.” If he would only keep the Lord’s commandments he would have his heart’s desire and rule Israel forever.
Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam who was thus forced into exile in Egypt. After Solomon’s death, his son, Rehoboam, became king and through a series of unwise political maneuvers lost the confidence of the ten northern tribes of Israel. “To your tents, O Israel,” they cried to Rehoboam, “now see to thine own house David.” And the ten northern tribes rejected the royal line of David and turned instead to Jeroboam, “and made him king over all Israel” From that day forward Israel was a divided nation.
Jeroboam suddenly had it all, and the ten-piece promise that it would be forever. However, the temple was in Jerusalem, and if the people wanted to worship in the House of the Lord they had to travel to Jerusalem—Rehoboam’s domain. Moreover the Priests and Levites would stay with the Temple therefore this most respected segment of society allied themselves with Rehoboam. And lastly, the great celebratory feasts of Israel were held in Jerusalem.
Jeroboam forgot the Lord’s ten-piece promise to him, and to keep his people home he ordained his own priests of the lowest of his people who were not of the tribe of Levi and worst of all he crafted two golden calves. “Behold thy Gods, O Israel, he cried, “Which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” Idolatry! The one calf he set up in Bethel and the other in Dan.
Jeroboam turned the hearts of the ten northern tribes of Israel away from the one true God, creating a rift that was never healed. Finally in 722 BC Assyria swept down from the north and carried Ephraim and the Ten Tribes of Israel into captivity where they were scattered and lost.
A short time ago I stood at Tel Dan on the exact spot where that golden calf had once been. I could see it all in my mind’s eye in those ruins. Powerful emotions swept over me. I felt sorrow and betrayal. It was here that Ephraim and Israel lost it all—their land, their faith, and their sacred identity, and they would remain a lost and scattered people for the next 2500 years until Moses restored the keys of the gathering to Joseph Smith. I took it personal for it was personal. Those ancients were our grandfathers of the tribe of Ephraim who on that profane spot betrayed their trust. Ephraim, my fellows, may it never happen again.