Melachim I Twelve: Jeroboam and Rehoboam

So Solomon is dead and his son Rehoboam is being crowned king. “And it was when Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard of this when he was yet in Egypt where he had fled from the presence of King Solomon, and Jeroboam had settled in Egypt (Kings I 12:2).” Once again there’s a division regarding who is the rightful king of Israel. Jeroboam comes back up from Egypt, and he and his followers confront Rehoboam. They tell him that Solomon made their lives hard, but if he is more light handed with his power, they’ll serve him. His counselors agree with this, saying that it’ll make the people loyal to him if he is gentle with them.

“But he disregarded the counsel of the elders who advised him, and he took counsel with the young men who had grown up with him and who were attending him (Kings I 12:8).” The young men, who are clearly less wise, tell him to add to the burdens that his father placed on the people. This obviously won’t go well, as any dictator who’s been overthrown could probably attest to.

“And all of Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, and they replied to the king saying, ‘What share do we have in David? And no heritage in Jesse’s son. To your homes, O Israel! Now see your house, David,’ and the Israelites went to their homes (Kings I 12:16).” So the Israelites who live in Judah have Rehoboam as their ruler, but not happily. He attempts to tax the people and his tax collector gets stoned. If nothing else, we can see that the people aren’t afraid to be dramatic. “So Israel revolted against the House of David until this day (Kings I 12:19).” Judah remains loyal to Rehoboam, but the rest of the tribes crown Jeroboam as their king.

There’s a new prophet named Shemiah, and God tells him to go to Rehoboam. “Thus said the Lord, ‘You shall not go up and you shall not war with your brothers, the children of Israel; return each man to his home for this thing has been brought about by Me.’ And they heeded the word of the Lord, and they returned to go, in accordance with the word of the Lord (Kings I 12:24).” Rehoboam is outside of Jerusalem, and he’s scared to return. So he makes golden calves, which is always a bad call, and has the people start sacrificing in Beth El and Dan instead of in the Temple. He makes his own priests, and the people sin with him, which to me seems to foreshadow some massive destruction on the horizon.

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