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Bible: What Does 1 Kings 11-13 Teach Us About Rehoboam and Jeroboam?

Updated on September 15, 2016

The Divided Kingdom


Disobeying the Commandments for Kings

Besides multiplying gold and horses for himself, Solomon also takes an exorbitant number of foreign wives, thereby completely disregarding Yahweh's commandment about intermarriage (vv. 1-3a; cf. Deut. 7:3; 17:17).

Surely enough, these pagan women cause him to compromise godly standards as he grows older (vv. 3b-4).

The king not only becomes cold toward Yahweh, but also builds "worship centers" for his wives' various abominations (vv. 5-8).

Despite experiencing two personal, divine visitations and hearing express commands against such vile actions, Solomon breaks the covenant (vv. 9-10).

The LORD, therefore, resolves to ''tear" all but one tribe of the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon's son and give the rest to his servant (vv. 11-13).

[Although, for David's sake, Solomon does not forfeit his reign during his lifetime, God does not allow him to rule peacefully again].

A survivor of a Joabian purge of Edomite males, Hadad, becomes one of the king's adversaries at this time (vv. 14-17).

Finding favor with Pharaoh, he marries this ruler's sister-in-law and fathers a son (vv. 18-20).

When Solomon succeeds David, Hadad petitions his benefactor to return to Edom (presumably at Yahweh's direction to harass the new king of Israel) [v. 21; see v. 14].

Nothing, not even Pharaoh's entreaty, can keep him in Egypt (v. 22).

[Rezon, a Syrian defector from Hadadezer (see 2 Sam. 8:3-5), also annoys Solomon, conducting raids into Israel during his reign (vv. 23-25)].

Ahijah and Jeroboam


After Solomon appoints the industrious Jeroboam to an important overseer post, the prophet Ahijah meets with this latter young man in a field outside Jerusalem (vv. 26-29).

As an object lesson, the seer tears his new garment into twelve pieces.

Then he informs Jeroboam what his actions signify:

God will give ten of the tribes of Israel to him, but reserve only one for Solomon's son (and that for David and Jerusalem's sake), because the king has forsaken the LORD for other gods (vv. 30-36).

Yahweh gives Jeroboam the same promise that he gave Solomon: "If you obey the commandments, I will build you an enduring house" (vv. 37-38).

When the king hears about this message, he seeks to murder Jeroboam.

The young man flees to Egypt until Solomon himself dies (vv. 39-40).

With the acts and wisdom of Solomon duly recorded, the king's forty-year reign in Israel now ends with death and burial, and Rehoboam his son takes his place on the throne (vv. 41-43).



Rival Worship Centers

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1 Kings 12

Jeroboam travels from Egypt to Shechem, where he and all Israel plead with Rehoboam to make their work load easier than it had been under Solomon's "yoke" (vv. 1-5).

To decide the proper course, Rehoboam wisely seeks counsel from the elders (vv. 6-7).

His wisdom, however, stops there, for he rejects their sound advice, apparently not liking the idea of serving the people (v. 8a).

Instead, the new king accepts the foolish ideas of his peers--counsel that amounted to instituting far harsher service (vv. 8b-11).

When Rehoboam arrogantly proclaims these new demands (in fulfillment of Ahijah's prophecy [v. 15; see I Kings 11:29)],

Israel rejects his kingship and departs to its tents (vv. 12-16; cf. 2 Sam. 20:1 for Sheba's rebellious call to desert David).

Attempting to collect taxes from Israel meets with even fiercer opposition, for the people stone to death Rehoboam's "IRS agent" (vv. 17-18a).

Jerusalem is the king's only refuge as Israel selects Jeroboam as its ruler (vv. 18b-20).

In Jerusalem, Rehoboam immediately attempts to wrest back control from Israel, assembling a mighty army of men from Benjamin and Judah (v. 21).

However, when a mightier word comes from God's prophet Shemaiah to "cease and desist," the king and his forces obey it and return home (vv. 22-24).

Jeroboam first secures his own dwelling in Shechem, and builds another stronghold in Penuel (v. 25).

Then to dissuade Israelites from returning to the house of David during times of sacrifice, he makes two golden calves, setting up one in Bethel (south) and another in Dan (north) [vv. 26-29].

Not only does Jeroboam cause the people to worship idols and sacrifice in a place other than Jerusalem, he appoints a counterfeit priesthood and makes a substitute feast day (vv. 30-33).

Price of Disobedience

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I Kings 13

The LORD takes action against Jeroboam, sending a "man of God" to him from Judah (v. 1).

As the king is about to offer incense at Bethel's altar, he hears this man prophesy that Josiah, David's son, would one day "sacrifice" apostate priests on it (v. 2; cf. 2 Kings 23).

Not only does the prophet declare this act of judgment, but he also announces that an immediate sign—the splitting apart of the altar—would take place as proof that his message is authoritative (v. 3).

Angered by the seer's words, Jeroboam orders his arrest (v. 4a).

However, before the king's men can carry out this command, God withers Jeroboam's outstretched hand (v. 4b), and the prophet's sign occurs (v. 5).

Realizing afresh his mortal peril, Jeroboam quickly changes his tone.

He first pleads for physical restoration, and then tries to appease God's messenger with a reward (as though he were the one who restored him!).

Even then, the king does not turn to the LORD (vv. 6-7).

Knowing sinful human nature as He does, God tells His man beforehand to reject any such false offer of reconciliation and return to Judah by a different way (vv. 8-10).

On his way home, the man of God meets an old prophet who had heard from his sons that the former had taken a stand against Jeroboam in Bethel (vv. 11-14).

Hungry for fellowship, and despite learning that the LORD had not allowed the man of God to eat or drink with anyone on his mission, the prophet fabricates a story and convinces his brother preacher to stay awhile with him (vv. 15-19).

Even as they sit at the table, the prophet receives revelation that his friend had truly disobeyed the LORD and would not make it home alive (vv. 20-22).

[Perhaps if the man of God had not finished his supper (v. 23), but had simply asked God for mercy and then left immediately, the LORD would have spared his life].

On the road again, the man of God encounters a lion who promptly "executes" him.

Amazingly, the animal does not devour him or his donkey (vv. 24, 28); instead, both beasts merely stand guard over the corpse until the prophet hears about his friend's death, and is able to retrieve the body and bury him in his own tomb (vv. 24-30).

So much respect has the prophet for the dead one (and his prophecy) that he admonishes his sons to bury him with the man of God when his time comes (vv. 31-32).

Even after his encounter with the man of God, Jeroboam does not change his ways; in fact, he becomes even more corrupt spiritually, granting priesthood privileges to whomever desired them, regardless of family (v. 33).

This sin, the text says, causes God to exterminate Jeroboam's house (v. 34).

© 2013 glynch1


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