Melachim I Fourteen: The Deaths of Rehoboam and Jeroboam

“At this time Abijah, the son of Jeroboam, fell sick (Kings I 14:1).” Jeroboam is worried, but for some reason he doesn’t want to draw attention to the situation. So instead of going for help himself, he has his wife disguise herself and go to a prophet in Shiloh. He tells her to bring gifts to him, and he’ll tell her what will happen to their son. “And Jeroboam’s wife did so, and she arose and went to Shiloh and came to the house of Ahijah; Ahijah could not see for his eyes were still because of his advanced age (Kings I 14:4).” This follows a pattern in Tanakh where people can’t physically see, but either are or aren’t deceived depending on the situation. Isaac, for example, was conned into thinking that Jacob was Esau. This time, God tells Ahijah in advance that it’s Jeroboam’s wife coming, and tells him what to say.

“And it was as Ahijah heard the sound of her footsteps into the doorway, that he said, ‘Come in, Jeroboam’s wife. Why are you disguised? I am sent to you to tell you harsh tidings (Kings I 14:6).'” God is punishing Jeroboam for his lack of loyalty by means of his son, and all of his future offspring. He is going to kill all of them, and there’s no way to stop it. This, like all instances when the sons are punished for the sins of the father, seems deeply unjust to me. The child shouldn’t be punished for the evil deeds that someone else committed, with him being totally helpless to save himself. All of Israel will mourn the boy, specifically because he’s the only one of Jeroboam’s family that has done good towards God. This makes his death even harder to swallow.

In addition to the personal destruction of Jeroboam’s house, the people as a whole are going to be punished also. “And the Lord shall smite Israel as a reed sways in the water, and He will uproot Israel from this good land that He has given to your fathers and He will scatter them on the other side of the river because they have made their trees of idol worship which anger the Lord (Kings I 14:15).” The exile will be as a result of this interlude in history, which shows just how bad Jeroboam became, and what influence he had over the people. His son dies as soon as his wife returns home, and the people eulogize him. Soon after, Jeroboam dies too, and his son Nadav inherits the throne. At the same time, Rehoboam over in Judah reigns seventeen years from his seat in Jerusalem. The people of Judah anger God also, by worshipping idols and committing abominations.

“And it came to pass in the fifth year of king Rehoboam, that Shishak, the king of Egypt, came up against Jerusalem (Kings I 14:25).” Shishak ransacks the Temple and the king’s palace, and takes all of Solomon’s treasures. Rehoboam and Jeroboam feuded throughout their respective reigns, and by the end of this chapter both of them are dead, and their sons take over their thrones. Will this lead to a more peaceful era for the Israelites? Or will the sons once again inherit the sins of the father?

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