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Good ol' Ray and Jerry are the first rival kings of Judah and Israel. Though they're both wicked and lead their kingdoms to spiritual ruin, the similarities pretty much end there. Jerry is formerly one of Solomon's best and brightest officers who tried to steal the throne and got run outta town (11:26-40). Now, he's back to lead the people in rebellion against Ray, who's a completely incompetent king who tries to lay down the law and just ends up losing something like 83% of his tribes (12:8-19). True, his dad Solomon sort of dumped a kingdom ripe for disaster on him, but he sure could have handled it better.
The rivalry these two begin continues through their successors (most of whom are lousy, wicked kings who lead the people to worship idols) for the rest of 1st Kings. These chapters serve as a bridge between the stories of Solomon and Elijah, and show just how far Israel has fallen since the glory days of David and Solomon. As the kings (and subsequently the people) drift further and further from the Lord, a few minor prophets begin rising up to condemn their sinful reigns (see, for example, 13:1-10 and 14:1-18). These chapters let the tension build between Israel and the Lord, making the eventual confrontation between Elijah and J-hab that much more spectacular.