Israel rebels against Rehoboam
1Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had gone there to make him king. 2When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard this (he was still in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), he returned from#12:2 Or he remained in Egypt. 3So they sent for Jeroboam, and he and the whole assembly of Israel went to Rehoboam and said to him: 4‘Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labour and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you.’
5Rehoboam answered, ‘Go away for three days and then come back to me.’ So the people went away.
6Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who had served his father Solomon during his lifetime. ‘How would you advise me to answer these people?’ he asked.
7They replied, ‘If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favourable answer, they will always be your servants.’
8But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him. 9He asked them, ‘What is your advice? How should we answer these people who say to me, “Lighten the yoke your father put on us”?’
10The young men who had grown up with him replied, ‘These people have said to you, “Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but make our yoke lighter.” Now tell them, “My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist. 11My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.” ’
12Three days later Jeroboam and all the people returned to Rehoboam, as the king had said, ‘Come back to me in three days.’ 13The king answered the people harshly. Rejecting the advice given him by the elders, 14he followed the advice of the young men and said, ‘My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.’ 15So the king did not listen to the people, for this turn of events was from the Lord, to fulfil the word the Lord had spoken to Jeroboam son of Nebat through Ahijah the Shilonite.
16When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, they answered the king:
‘What share do we have in David,
what part in Jesse’s son?
To your tents, Israel!
Look after your own house, David!’
So the Israelites went home. 17But as for the Israelites who were living in the towns of Judah, Rehoboam still ruled over them.
18King Rehoboam sent out Adoniram,#12:18 Some Septuagint manuscripts and Syriac (see also 4:6 and 5:14); Hebrew Adoram who was in charge of forced labour, but all Israel stoned him to death. King Rehoboam, however, managed to get into his chariot and escape to Jerusalem. 19So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day.
20When all the Israelites heard that Jeroboam had returned, they sent and called him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel. Only the tribe of Judah remained loyal to the house of David.
21When Rehoboam arrived in Jerusalem, he mustered all Judah and the tribe of Benjamin – a hundred and eighty thousand able young men – to go to war against Israel and to regain the kingdom for Rehoboam son of Solomon.
22But this word of God came to Shemaiah the man of God: 23‘Say to Rehoboam son of Solomon king of Judah, to all Judah and Benjamin, and to the rest of the people, 24“This is what the Lord says: do not go up to fight against your brothers, the Israelites. Go home, every one of you, for this is my doing.” ’ So they obeyed the word of the Lord and went home again, as the Lord had ordered.
Golden calves at Bethel and Dan
25Then Jeroboam fortified Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim and lived there. From there he went out and built up Peniel.#12:25 Hebrew Penuel, a variant of Peniel
26Jeroboam thought to himself, ‘The kingdom is now likely to revert to the house of David. 27If these people go up to offer sacrifices at the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem, they will again give their allegiance to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah. They will kill me and return to King Rehoboam.’
28After seeking advice, the king made two golden calves. He said to the people, ‘It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’ 29One he set up in Bethel, and the other in Dan. 30And this thing became a sin; the people came to worship the one at Bethel and went as far as Dan to worship the other.#12:30 Probable reading of the original Hebrew text; Masoretic Text people went to the one as far as Dan
31Jeroboam built shrines on high places and appointed priests from all sorts of people, even though they were not Levites. 32He instituted a festival on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, like the festival held in Judah, and offered sacrifices on the altar. This he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves he had made. And at Bethel he also installed priests at the high places he had made. 33On the fifteenth day of the eighth month, a month of his own choosing, he offered sacrifices on the altar he had built at Bethel. So he instituted the festival for the Israelites and went up to the altar to make offerings.