Mind Your Language #1
For elucidating on this topic I shall be focusing on the son of King Solomon who succeeded him as the King over Israel after his death. He was not mindful of his language, making some wrong assertions according to comments of Keil and Delitzsch which makes the people to pull out from his ruler-ship, he was unable to maintain the unifying kingdom that has been handed over to him by the people.
History of Rehoboam, Solomon’s Son
Son of King Solomon by Naaman, an Ammonites, one of his wives (1 Ki 14:31). After his father’s death around 931 0r 930 BC the representatives of the twelve tribes come together to crown him as their King, succeeding his father.
After the coronation, the people who have silently been groaning under his father’s heavy taxation contacted him to do something about the tax, but he would not listen to the counsels of the elders who probably were counselors to his late father as he opted for the counsels of those who grew up with him.
This makes the ten tribes to pull out of the kingdom forming the northern Kingdom while he was left with Judah, large part of Benjamin and Simeonites.
He attempted to take the northern kingdom back by sending Adoram who was in charge of the forced labor to the people of the northern Kingdom, but he was stoned to death by the people which makes King Rehoboam to flee to Jerusalem. (1 Ki 12:1-20; 2 Chro 10:1-19)
On getting to Jerusalem he decided to gather soldiers together to wage war against them, but this was stopped by Prophet Shemaiah. (1 Ki 12:21-24; 2 Chro 11:1-4)
However, the Kingdom again flourished when King Jeroboam started making priests for himself and erecting golden calves in the land, this action drove the Levites away from the Northern Kingdom to his Kingdom. But three years after this he also lapsed into idolatry. (1 Ki 14:21-24; 2 Chro 11:13-17; 21:1)
In the fifth year of his reign, Shishak king of Egypt invaded his kingdom, capturing some of the fortified cities, ultimately taking Jerusalem plundering the temple and palace (1 Ki 14:25-28; 2 Chro 12:2-12)
He had 18 wives and 60 concubines, 28 sons and 60 daughters (2 Chro 11:21) and was succeeded by Abijam his son.
Meaning of the Name
The Hebrew word for Rehoboam is “רחבעם”, Romanized form is rechab‛âm, (pronounced as rekh-ab-awm') meaning, people is enlarged, or divine kinsman has enlarged.
Understanding the Story
The people of Israel have been groaning under the leadership of King Solomon before his demise but they were unable to do something about this because God was yet supporting him because of the love and covenant he has with his father, David, because of the initial love he has shown towards his word and because he has stylishly eliminated those who could be used by the people to revolt against his leadership as being advised by his father. Thus, the people were afraid of raising a leg against his rulership lest they be silenced as he has silenced others ahead.
However, when King Solomon died, people rose up before he (King Rehoboam) becomes established on the throne to tell him of their grievances against his father’s rulership.
The People’s Request
What the people requested for was that he should reduce the tax on them, for their father in order to meet with his splendor, he has increased the tax imposed on the people. They do not want him to continue to take such tax from them again.
“Thy father made our yoke grievous: now therefore make thou the grievous service of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter, and we will serve thee.” (1 Ki 12:4)
After hearing them out he asks that he be given three days to consult with the members of the cabinet to know what would be done about the presented issue.
“And he said unto them, depart yet for three days, then come again to me. And the people departed.” (1 Ki 12:5)
The people consented with this reply and they departed his place hoping for a better response in the next 72 hours.
He at first met with the elders who probably would have been counselors to his father to ask them what should be done about the people’s request, before meeting with the Youths with whom he has grown up.
The sage from their wealth of experience told him what he should do if he really wants to enjoy his kingship.
“And king Rehoboam consulted with the old men, that stood before Solomon his father while he yet lived, and said, how do ye advise that I may answer this people?
“And they spake unto him, saying, if thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be thy servants for ever.” (1 Ki 12:6-7)
He was not comfortable with what the elders gave him, for he a king appealing to the conscience of his subjects that he would treat them well, he thought that should not be the way he would address them, that should not be done, a leader should be dictating, not be yielding to the demands of the people. Thus, he rejected the good counsel the elders gave him as he turned to those with whom he has grown up, the youths to ask for what they would say to him about what the people have presented.
“But he forsook the counsel of the old men, which they had given him, and consulted with the young men that were grown up with him, and which stood before him:” (1 Ki 12:8)
The youths may have not known what the counsel of the elders for him was and they may have known. It is likely that they have known because there is a way that information spreads around. The servants sent to them may brief them on the way of what the counsels of the elders were as it happened when King Ahab sent someone to call Micaiah to the palace.
“Then the king of Israel called an officer, and said, Hasten hither Micaiah the son of Imlah.
“And the messenger that was gone to call Micaiah spake unto him, saying, Behold now, the words of the prophets declare good unto the king with one mouth: let thy word, I pray thee, be like the word of one of them, and speak that which is good.” (1 Ki 22: 9 & 13)
Prophet Micaiah could have toed the path of other prophets having been briefed by the officer who has been sent to him, but he did not.
It is also possible that those people would have been briefed by the offices sent to call them of what the reactions and counsels of the elders were that they should know what they would say to the king, who of course was one of them until fate puts him at the position he is.
The youths on getting to the King gave him a contrary counsel, they do not see reason why he should toe another path from that of his father, they think he should maintain what his father has started and even step it higher.
“And he said unto them, what counsel give ye that we may answer this people, who have spoken to me, saying, make the yoke which thy father did put upon us lighter?
“And the young men that were grown up with him spake unto him, saying, Thus shalt thou speak unto this people that spake unto thee, saying, Thy father made our yoke heavy, but make thou it lighter unto us; thus shalt thou say unto them, My little finger shall be thicker than my father's loins.
“And now whereas my father did lade you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke: my father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.” (1 Ki 12: 9-11)
He appreciates them, entertained them as they leave the palace.
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