1 Kings 12
The northern tribes of Israel rebel against King Rehoboam
Some of the people rebel against Rehoboam
(2 Chronicles 10.1-19)
1Rehoboam went to Shechem where everyone was waiting to crown him king.
2Jeroboam son of Nebat heard what was happening, and he stayed in Egypt,#12.2 he stayed in Egypt: Hebrew; two ancient translations “he returned from Egypt” (see also 2 Chronicles 10.2). where he had gone to hide from Solomon. 3But the people from the northern tribes of Israel sent for him. Then together they went to Rehoboam and said, 4“Your father Solomon forced us to work very hard. But if you make our work easier, we will serve you and do whatever you ask.”
5“Give me three days to think about it,” Rehoboam replied, “then come back for my answer.” So the people left.
6Rehoboam went to some leaders who had been his father's senior officials, and he asked them, “What should I tell these people?”
7They answered, “If you want them to serve and obey you, then you should do what they ask today. Tell them you will make their work easier.”
8But Rehoboam refused their advice and went to the younger men who had grown up with him and were now his officials. 9He asked, “What do you think I should say to these people who asked me to make their work easier?”
10His younger advisers said:
Here's what we think you should say to them: “Compared to me, my father was weak.#12.10 Compared…weak: Hebrew “My little finger is bigger than my father's waist.” 11He made you work hard, but I'll make you work even harder. He punished you with whips, but I'll use whips with pieces of sharp metal!”
12Three days later, Jeroboam and the others came back. 13Rehoboam ignored the advice of the older advisers. 14He spoke bluntly and told them exactly what his own advisers had suggested: “My father made you work hard, but I'll make you work even harder. He punished you with whips, but I'll use whips with pieces of sharp metal!”
15-19When the people realized that Rehoboam would not listen to them, they shouted: “We don't have to be loyal to David's family. We can do what we want. Come on, people of Israel, let's go home! Rehoboam can rule his own people.”#2 S 20.1.
Adoniram#12.15-19 Adoniram: Two ancient translations (see also 4.6 and 5.14); Hebrew “Adoram”. was in charge of the forced labour, and Rehoboam sent him to talk to the people. But they stoned him to death. Then Rehoboam ran to his chariot and hurried back to Jerusalem.
So the people from the northern tribes of Israel went home, leaving Rehoboam to rule only the people from the towns in Judah. Ever since that day, the people of Israel have opposed David's family in Judah. All this happened just as the LORD's prophet Ahijah had told Jeroboam.
20When the Israelites heard that Jeroboam was back, they called everyone together. Then they sent for Jeroboam and made him king of Israel. Only the people from the tribe of Judah#12.20 Israelites…Israel…Judah: From this time on, “Israel” usually refers to the northern kingdom, and “Israelites” refers to the people who lived there. The southern kingdom is called “Judah”. remained loyal to David's family.
Shemaiah warns Rehoboam
(2 Chronicles 11.1-4)
21After Rehoboam returned to Jerusalem, he decided to attack Israel and take control of the whole country. So he called together one hundred and eighty thousand soldiers from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.
22Meanwhile, God told Shemaiah the prophet 23to give Rehoboam and everyone from Judah and Benjamin this warning: 24“Don't go to war against the people from Israel—they are your relatives. Go home! I am the LORD, and I made these things happen.”
Rehoboam and his army obeyed the LORD and went home.
King Jeroboam of Israel makes two gold statues of calves
25Jeroboam rebuilt Shechem in Ephraim and made it a stronger town, then he moved there. He also fortified the town of Penuel.
26-27One day, Jeroboam started thinking, “Everyone in Israel still goes to the temple in Jerusalem to offer sacrifices to the LORD. What if they become loyal to David's family again? They will kill me and accept Rehoboam as their king.”
28Jeroboam asked for advice and then made two gold statues of calves. He showed them to the people and said, “Listen everyone! You won't have to go to Jerusalem to worship any more. Here are your gods#12.28 Here are your gods: Or “Here is your God”. who rescued you from Egypt.”#Ex 32.4. 29-30Then he put one of the gold calves in the town of Bethel. He put the other one in the town of Dan, and the crowd walked out in front as the calf was taken there.#12.29,30 the crowd…taken there: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text. What Jeroboam did was a terrible sin.
31Jeroboam built small places of worship at the shrines#12.31 shrines: See the note at 3.2. and appointed men who were not from the tribe of Levi to serve as priests. 32-33He also decided to start a new festival for the Israelites on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, just like the one in Judah.#12.32,33 the one in Judah: This probably refers to the Festival of Shelters. On that day, Jeroboam went to Bethel and offered sacrifices on the altar to the gold calf he had put there. Then he assigned the priests their duties.#Lv 23.33,34.