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    Q: #182. How old was Mary when she gave birth to Jesus?

By: Steve Shirley

    A: The best that anyone can do with this question is make a logical guess. The Bible does not speak of this, nor do historical writings. While the pictures we see today of Mary holding the baby Jesus often portray her as being in maybe her early 20's, it seems likely that she was significantly younger than this. This assumption is based only on the fact that Jewish females (and males) often married at an early age in Bible times. This age varied some, but it was generally in the very early teenage years (and even at 12).

     All we know for certain is that Mary was a virgin (Mt 1:23)(Lk 1:27)(Isa 7:14) and that she was engaged (betrothed) to Joseph when she was told that she would give birth to Jesus (Mt 1:18)(Lk 1:26-28).

     It is believed by some that Joseph was quite a bit older than Mary. However, this is only based on the fact that after the incident with Jesus at the Temple during Passover when He was 12 (Lk 2:41-50), we never hear from Joseph again in the Bible. He was not present at Jesus' crucifixion, and on the cross Jesus gave John the responsibility of caring for His mother Mary (Jn 19:25-26). (He did not give give His brothers this responsibility because they did not believe He was the Messiah (Jn 7:3-5). They did become believers after His resurrection.) Because he isn't mentioned, it is believed he probably had already died, and the reason given is that he died of old age. (It seems likely to me that he had died, but saying it was of old age seems a stretch.)

     It should also be noted that even today, Jewish custom still considers boys of 13 and girls of 12 old enough to be married under Jewish law. This is one of the rites of passage that are celebrated at a Jewish Bar Mitzvah (boy) or Bat Mitzvah (girl, although this ceremony itself is a relatively new custom.

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How many kings in Israel and Judah, how long did each rule, how many good/bad?
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    Q: #128. How many kings were there in Israel and Judah, how long did each rule, and how many were good/bad?

By: Steve Shirley

    A: In all, there were 42 kings (and one queen who ruled instead of a king). Saul was the first king, and he ruled over all of the 12 tribes of Israel for 40 years. After Saul's death, the kingdom became temporarily divided, with Saul's son Ishbosheth ruling 11 of the tribes for two years, while David ruled Judah. After Ishbosheth was assassinated, David became king over all 12 tribes. His son Solomon followed him as king, and also ruled over a unified kingdom of 12 tribes. Both David and Solomon ruled for 40 years each.

     After Solomon's reign ended, the kingdom divided into what became known as the Southern Kingdom (Judah and Benjamin: but simply called Judah) and the Northern Kingdom (the remaining 10 tribes: called Israel). This resulted in a string of 19 kings ruling over Israel and 19 kings (plus one queen) ruling over Judah. I will list them in order, with the number of years they ruled in parenthesis. 

Kings Of IsraelKings Of Judah
1. Jeroboam 1 (22 yrs)1. Rehoboam (17 yrs)
2. Nadab (2 yrs)2. Abijam (3 yrs)
3. Baasha (24 yrs)3. Asa (41 yrs)
4. Elah (2 yrs)4. Jehoshaphat (25 yrs)
5. Zimri (7 days)5. Jehoram (8 yrs)
6. Omri (12 yrs) ***6. Ahaziah (1 yr)
7. Ahab (22 yrs)7. Athaliah (Queen) (6 yrs)
8. Ahaziah (2 yrs)8. Joash (40 yrs)
9. Jehoram (Joram)(12 yrs)9. Amaziah (29 yrs)
10. Jehu (28 yrs)10. Azariah (Uzziah)(52 yrs)
11. Jehoahaz (17 yrs)11. Jotham (16 yrs)
12. Jehoash (16 yrs)12. Ahaz (16 yrs)
13. Jeroboam 2 (41 yrs)13. Hezekiah (29 yrs)
14. Zachariah (6 mos)14. Manasseh (55 yrs)
15. Shallum (1 mo)15. Amon (2 yrs)
16. Menahem (10 yrs)16. Josiah (31 yrs)
17. Pekhiah (2 yrs)17. Jehoahaz (3 mos)
18. Pekah (20 yrs)18. Jehoiakim (11 yrs)
19. Hoshea (9 yrs)19. Jehoiachin (3 mos)
20. Zedekiah (11 yrs)

*** Zimri killed King Elah, and became king (1 Kin 16:8-10). When the army of Israel found out what Zimri had done, they ("all Israel") made Omri, commander of the army, the new king (1 Kin 16:16). They attacked and overthrew the city of Tirzah where Zimri was, so Zimri killed himself (1 Kin 1:17-18). Afterwards, however, "half of the people followed Tibni... and half followed Omri" (1 Kin 16:21). There was war between them for about 4 years until Tibni died (we don't know how he died). Then, Omri was the sole ruler.

     Of the kings on this chart, the Bible says ALL of the kings of Israel were evil. Among the kings of Judah, 12 were evil and 8 were good (Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, Amaziah, Azariah, Jotham, Hezekiah, and Josiah).

     You can find a chart showing which of these kings were killed here.

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