A Queen’s Son Dies

Photograph only, not actual picture.

Reference: 1 Kings 14:1-18

Heart of the Story: When Abijah, the eldest son of King Jeroboam became severely ill, Queen Ano disguised herself and asked the prophet Ahijah what would happen to her son. (Comment: Don’t be confused by the close spelling of Prince Abijah and the prophet Ahijah’ names).

Story Line: Like so many women, even royal women, in the Bible, the name of the first Queen of the Northern Kingdom (Israel) and Jeroboam I’s wife wasn’t recorded; however, a foot note in Amplified Bible provided information on her. When Jeroboam fled to Egypt after Solomon tried to kill him, he entered Pharaoh Shishak’s court. Shishak gave his sister-in-law, Ano, to Jeroboam in marriage. Jeroboam and Ano ruled Israel from Tizrah, a town in the tribal lands of Manassah. Abijah was their first son and scheduled to become ruler after Jeroboam.

Ano was a proud woman, she was a member of the Egypt royal family and queen of Israel; yet, she loved her eldest son Ahijah. At Jeroboam’s request, Ano disguised herself as a peasant woman and traveled 20 miles to Shiloh to ask God’s prophet (Ahijah) the outcome of Abijah’s illness. As a peasant, Ano traveled on a donkey with maybe one attendant instead of on a horse as part of a royal convoy. Ano took 10 loaves to bread, some cakes and a jar of honey as an offering to the prophet. This offering was an offering from a poor woman rather than from a queen.

When Ano entered his house, Ahijah identified her and knew what she wanted. He told her that when she set foot in Tizrah, Abijah would die. There is no record that Ano pleaded with the prophet for her son’s life or that she tried to bribe him in some way. Perhaps Ano did both of these things; or perhaps she recognized that the prophet’s words were immutable.

Analysis of the Relationships: Likely when Ano was sent to God’s prophet to inquire about the fate of her son, she had no faith in the old blind prophet at Shiloh; but, Ano was desperate. She wanted to know the outcome of Abijah’s illness and get help for him. Perhaps she even wanted Jeroboam to send to Egypt, the center for medical knowledge in the early Middle East, for a physician.

After leaving the prophet’s home at Shiloh, Ano felt tremendous agony and ambivalence. She wanted to be with her sick and dying son; but the minute she returned to the royal city, Abijah would die. What was she to do? Perhaps as Egyptian-born royalty, Queen Ano decided to do her duty. As Jeroboam directed, Ano returned to Jeroboam with the prophet’s words.

When Ano returned to Tizrah and Abijah died, Ano may have comforted herself with the belief that her husband’s actions, not her return, caused Abijah’s death. Perhaps she was thankful she had another son, Nadab. Because she believed in the gods of Egypt not the God of the Israelites, she may have concluded that the prophet’s words and the death of Abijah were a coincidence. Whatever Ano believed, she would have mourned the death of her first born son.

Neither King Jeroboam nor Queen Ano worshipped God; however, perhaps Jeroboam worshipped God in his early years of exile in Egypt. In Hebrew, Abijah meant “my (divine) father is the Lord.” Although many Egyptians consider pharaoh a god, the divine father referred to in Abijah’s name was likely God. Despite his parent’s beliefs and behavior, Abijah had a relationship with the true God. God said that Abijah was the only one of Jeroboam’s house who had anything good in them. For this reason God allowed Abijah to die and be buried, although all other descendants of Jeroboam remain unburied when they died.

Reflection: Ano was Egyptian royalty and queen of Israel. Despite her titles, she couldn’t keep her son alive. Can Christian mothers intervene with God for the lives of their sons?

Copyright: June 2014, Carolyn Adams Roth

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