Refusing the Old Men's Counsel.
1. Rehoboam went to Shechem—He was the
oldest, and perhaps the only son of Solomon, and had been, doubtless,
designated by his father heir to the throne, as Solomon had been by
David. The incident here related took place after the funeral obsequies
of the late king and the period for public mourning had past. When all
Israel came to make him king, it was not to exercise their old right of
election (1Sa 10:19-21), for, after God's promise of the
perpetual sovereignty to David's posterity, their duty was submission
to the authority of the rightful heir; but their object was, when
making him king, to renew the conditions and stipulations to which
their constitutional kings were subject (1Sa 10:25). To the omission of such rehearsing
which, under the peculiar circumstances in which Solomon was made king,
they were disposed to ascribe the absolutism of his government.
Shechem—This ancient, venerable, and
central town was the place of convocation; and it is evident, if not
from the appointment of that place, at least from the tenor of their
language, and the concerted presence of Jeroboam [1Ki 12:3], that the people were determined on
4. Thy father made our yoke grievous—The
splendor of Solomon's court and the magnitude of his undertakings being
such, that neither the tribute of dependent states, nor the presents of
foreign princes, nor the profits of his commercial enterprises, were
adequate to carry them on, he had been obliged, for obtaining the
necessary revenue, to begin a system of heavy taxation. The people
looked only to the burdens, not to the benefits they derived from
Solomon's peaceful and prosperous reign—and the evils from which
they demanded deliverance were civil oppressions, not idolatry, to
which they appear to have been indifferent or approving.
5-8. he said … Depart yet for three
days—It was prudent to take the people's demand into calm and
deliberate consideration. Whether, had the advice of the sage and
experienced counsellors been followed, any good result would have
followed, it is impossible to say. It would at least have removed all
pretext for the separation. [See on 2Ch 10:7.]
But he preferred the counsel of his young companions (not in age, for
they were all about forty-one, but inexperienced), who recommended
prompt and decisive measures to quell the malcontents.
11. whips … scorpions—The latter
[instruments], as contrasted with the former, are supposed to mean
thongs thickly set with sharp iron points, used in the castigation of
15-18. the king hearkened not unto the people, for
the cause was from the Lord—That was the overruling cause.
Rehoboam's weakness (Ec 2:18, 19) and inexperience in public affairs has
given rise to the probable conjecture, that, like many other princes in
the East, he had been kept secluded in the harem till the period of his
accession (Ec 4:14), his
father being either afraid of his aspiring to the sovereignty, like the
two sons of David, or, which is more probable, afraid of prematurely
exposing his imbecility. The king's haughty and violent answer to a
people already filled with a spirit of discontent and exasperation,
indicated so great an incapacity to appreciate the gravity of the
crisis, so utter a want of common sense, as to create a belief that he
was struck with judicial blindness. It was received with mingled scorn
and derision. The revolt was accomplished, and yet so quietly, that
Rehoboam remained in Shechem, fancying himself the sovereign of a
united kingdom, until his chief tax gatherer, who had been most
imprudently sent to treat with the people, had been stoned to death.
This opened his eyes, and he fled for security to Jerusalem.
1Ki 12:20-33. Jeroboam Made
King over Them.
20-24. when all Israel heard that Jeroboam was
come again—This verse closes the parenthetical narrative
begun at 1Ki 12:2, and 1Ki 12:21-24 resume the history from 1Ki 12:1. Rehoboam determined to assert his
authority by leading a large force into the disaffected provinces. But
the revolt of the ten tribes was completed when the prophet Shemaiah
ordered, in the Lord's name, an abandonment of any hostile measures
against the revolutionists. The army, overawed by the divine
prohibition, dispersed, and the king was obliged to submit.
25. Jeroboam built Shechem—destroyed by
Abimelech (Jud 9:1-49). It was rebuilt, and perhaps fortified,
by Jeroboam, as a royal residence.
built Penuel—a ruined city with a
8:9), east of Jordan, on the
north bank of the Jabbok. It was an object of importance to restore
this fortress (as it lay on the caravan road from Gilead to Damascus
and Palmyra) and to secure his frontier on that quarter.
26-32. Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the
kingdom return to the house of David—Having received the
kingdom from God, he should have relied on the divine protection. But
he did not. With a view to withdraw the people from the temple and
destroy the sacred associations connected with Jerusalem, he made
serious and unwarranted innovations on the religious observances of the
country, on pretext of saving the people the trouble and expense of a
distant journey. First, he erected two golden calves—the young
bulls, Apis and Mnevis, as symbols (in the Egyptian fashion) of the
true God, and the nearest, according to his fancy, to the figures of
the cherubim. The one was placed at Dan, in the northern part of his
kingdom; the other at Beth-el, the southern extremity, in sight of
Jerusalem, and in which place he probably thought God was as likely to
manifest Himself as at Jerusalem (Ge 32:1-32; 2Ki 2:2). The latter place was the most
frequented—for the words (1Ki 12:30) should be rendered, "the people even to
Dan went to worship before the one" (Jer 48:13; Am
4:4, 5; 5:5; Ho 5:8; 10:8).
The innovation was a sin because it was setting up the worship of God
by symbols and images and departing from the place where He had chosen
to put His name. Secondly, he changed the feast of tabernacles from the
fifteenth of the seventh to the fifteenth of the eighth month. The
ostensible reason might be, that the ingathering or harvest was later
in the northern parts of the kingdom; but the real reason was to
eradicate the old association with this, the most welcome and joyous
festival of the year.
31. made priests of the lowest of the
people—literally, "out of all the people," the Levites
refusing to act. He himself assumed to himself the functions of the
high priest, at least, at the great festival, probably from seeing the
king of Egypt conjoin the royal and sacred offices, and deeming the
office of the high priest too great to be vested in a subject.