Some people are known for their kindness or goodness. Names that come to my mind are Harriet Tubman, William Wilberforce, and Corrie ten Boom. More often it seems, people like Hitler, Stalin, and bin Laden are remembered for their evil. Jeroboam, son of Nebat is remembered throughout Israel’s history as the pattern for kings who do evil. In our reading today, Jereboam is referenced four times as a comparison to a new king who maintains Israel’s idolatrous practices. Unfortunately, it is no surprise to find Jehoash names his own son Jeroboam.
Jeroboam the second is like the first, and so the name Jeroboam is further defamed. For Jews and Christians this name is still associated with evil and only the cruelest of parents would name their child Jeroboam. More to the point of the reading, we note that the kings of Israel (that is, the northern kingdom) have become so accustomed to evil that they imagine good to be evil, and evil to be good. At the time of Jeroboam II’s birth, Israel’s royals view the first Jeroboam positively. This name choice is enough to see the desperate confusion of Israel in that day.