Israel Turns Against Rehoboam
1Rehoboam went to Shechem, where all the Israelites had gone to make him king. 2Jeroboam son of Nebat was still in Egypt, where he had gone to escape from Solomon. When Jeroboam heard about Rehoboam being made king, he was living in Egypt. 3After the people sent for him, he and the people went to Rehoboam and said to him, 4“Your father forced us to work very hard. Now, make it easier for us, and don’t make us work as hard as he did. Then we will serve you.”
5Rehoboam answered, “Go away for three days, and then come back to me.” So the people left.
6King Rehoboam asked the elders who had advised Solomon during his lifetime, “How do you think I should answer these people?”
7They said, “You should be like a servant to them today. If you serve them and give them a kind answer, they will serve you always.”
8But Rehoboam rejected this advice. Instead, he asked the young men who had grown up with him and who served as his advisers. 9Rehoboam asked them, “What is your advice? How should we answer these people who said, ‘Don’t make us work as hard as your father did’?”
10The young men who had grown up with him answered, “Those people said to you, ‘Your father forced us to work very hard. Now make our work easier.’ You should tell them, ‘My little finger is bigger than my father’s legs. 11He forced you to work hard, but I will make you work even harder. My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with whips that have sharp points.’ ”
12Rehoboam had told the people, “Come back to me in three days.” So after three days Jeroboam and all the people returned to Rehoboam. 13King Rehoboam spoke cruel words to them, because he had rejected the advice the elders had given him. 14He followed the advice of the young men and said to the people, “My father forced you to work hard, but I will make you work even harder. My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with whips that have sharp points.” 15So the king did not listen to the people. The Lord caused this to happen to keep the promise he had made to Jeroboam son of Nebat through Ahijah, a prophet from Shiloh.
16When all the Israelites saw that the new king refused to listen to them, they said to the king,
“We have no share in David!
We have no part in the son of Jesse!
People of Israel, let’s go to our own homes!
Let David’s son rule his own people!”
So the Israelites went home. 17But Rehoboam still ruled over the Israelites who lived in the towns of Judah.
18Adoniram was in charge of the forced labor. When Rehoboam sent him to the people of Israel, they threw stones at him until he died. But King Rehoboam ran to his chariot and escaped to Jerusalem. 19Since then, Israel has been against the family of David.
20When all the Israelites heard that Jeroboam had returned, they called him to a meeting and made him king over all Israel. Only the tribe of Judah continued to follow the family of David.
21When Rehoboam arrived in Jerusalem, he gathered one hundred eighty thousand of the best soldiers from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. As son of Solomon, Rehoboam wanted to fight the people of Israel to take back his kingdom.
22But God spoke his word to Shemaiah, a man of God, saying, 23“Speak to Solomon’s son Rehoboam, the king of Judah, and to all the people of Judah and Benjamin and the rest of the people. Say to them, 24‘The Lord says you must not go to war against your brothers, the Israelites. Every one of you should go home, because I made all these things happen.’ ” So they obeyed the Lord’s command and went home as the Lord had commanded.
25Then Jeroboam made Shechem in the mountains of Ephraim a very strong city, and he lived there. He also went to the city of Peniel and made it stronger.
Jeroboam Builds Golden Calves
26Jeroboam said to himself, “The kingdom will probably go back to David’s family. 27If the people continue going to the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem to offer sacrifices, they will want to be ruled again by Rehoboam. Then they will kill me and follow Rehoboam king of Judah.”
28King Jeroboam asked for advice. Then he made two golden calves. “It is too long a journey for you to go to Jerusalem to worship,” he said to the people. “Israel, here are your gods who brought you out of Egypt.” 29Jeroboam put one golden calf in the city of Bethel and the other in the city of Dan. 30This became a very great sin, because the people traveled as far as Dan to worship the calf there.
31Jeroboam built temples on the places of worship. He also chose priests from all the people, not just from the tribe of Levi. 32And he started a new festival on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, just like the festival in Judah. During that time the king offered sacrifices on the altar, along with sacrifices to the calves in Bethel he had made. He also chose priests in Bethel to serve at the places of worship he had made. 33So Jeroboam chose his own time for a festival for the Israelites—the fifteenth day of the eighth month. During that time he offered sacrifices on the altar he had built in Bethel. He set up a festival for the Israelites and offered sacrifices on the altar.