2Ch 11:1-17. Rehoboam,
Raising an Army to Subdue Israel, Is Forbidden by Shemaiah.
1-4. Rehoboam … gathered of the house of
Judah and Benjamin … to fight against Israel—(See 1Ki
5-11. built cities for defence in
Judah—This is evidently used as the name of the southern
kingdom. Rehoboam, having now a bitter enemy in Israel, deemed it
prudent to lose no time in fortifying several cities that lay along the
frontier of his kingdom. Jeroboam, on his side, took a similar
precaution (1Ki 12:25).
Of the fifteen cities named, Aijalon, now Yalo, and Zorah, now Surah,
between Jerusalem and Jabneh [Robinson],
lay within the province of Benjamin. Gath, though a Philistine city,
had been subject to Solomon. And Etham, which was on the border of
Simeon, now incorporated with the kingdom of Israel, was fortified to
repel danger from that quarter. These fortresses Rehoboam placed under
able commanders and stocked them with provisions and military stores,
sufficient, if necessary, to stand a siege. In the crippled state of
his kingdom, he seems to have been afraid lest it might be made the
prey of some powerful neighbors.
13-17. the priests and the Levites …
resorted to him out of all their coasts—This was an accession
of moral power, for the maintenance of the true religion is the best
support and safeguard of any nation; and as it was peculiarly the grand
source of the strength and prosperity of the Hebrew monarchy, the great
numbers of good and pious people who sought an asylum within the
territories of Judah contributed greatly to consolidate the throne of
Rehoboam. The cause of so extensive an emigration from the kingdom of
Israel was the deep and daring policy of Jeroboam, who set himself to
break the national unity by entirely abolishing, within his dominions,
the religious institutions of Judaism. He dreaded an eventual reunion
of the tribes if the people continued to repair thrice a year to
worship in Jerusalem as they were obliged by law to do. Accordingly, on
pretense that the distance of that city was too great for multitudes of
his subjects, he fixed upon two more convenient places, where he
established a new mode of worshipping God under gross and prohibited
symbols [1Ki 12:26-33]. The priests and Levites, refusing to
take part in the idolatrous ceremonies, were ejected from their living
11:13, 14]. Along with them a
large body of the people who faithfully adhered to the instituted
worship of God, offended and shocked by the impious innovations,
departed from the kingdom.
15. he ordained him priests—The persons
he appointed to the priesthood were low and worthless creatures (1Ki 12:31;
13:33); any were consecrated
who brought a bullock and seven rams (2Ch 13:9; Ex 29:37).
for the high places—Those favorite
places of religious worship were encouraged throughout the country.
for the devils—a term sometimes used
for idols in general (Le 17:7). But
here it is applied distinctively to the goat deities, which were
probably worshipped chiefly in the northern parts of his kingdom, where
the heathen Canaanites still abounded.
for the calves which he had
made—figures of the ox gods Apis and Mnevis, with which
Jeroboam's residence in Egypt had familiarized him. (See on 1Ki 12:26).
17. they strengthened the kingdom of
Judah—The innovating measures of Jeroboam were not introduced
all at once. But as they were developed, the secession of the most
excellent of his subjects began, and continuing to increase for three
years, lowered the tone of religion in his kingdom, while it
proportionally quickened its life and extended its influence in that of
2Ch 11:18-23. His Wives and
18. Rehoboam took Mahalath—The names of
her father and mother are given. Jerimoth, the father, must have been
the son of one of David's concubines (1Ch 3:9). Abihail was, of course, his cousin,
previous to their marriage.
20. after her he took Maachah …
daughter—that is, granddaughter (2Sa 14:27) of Absalom, Tamar being, according to
Josephus, her mother. (Compare 2Sa 18:18).
21. he took eighteen wives, and threescore
concubines—This royal harem, though far smaller than his
father's, was equally in violation of the law, which forbade a king to
"multiply wives unto himself" [De 17:17].
22. made Abijah … chief … ruler among
his brethren—This preference seems to have been given to
Abijah solely from the king's doting fondness for his mother and
through her influence over him. It is plainly implied that Abijah was
not the oldest of the family. In destining a younger son for the
kingdom, without a divine warrant, as in Solomon's case, Rehoboam acted
in violation of the law (De 21:15).
23. he dealt wisely—that is, with deep
and calculating policy (Ex 1:10).
and dispersed of all his children … unto
every fenced city—The circumstance of twenty-eight sons of
the king being made governors of fortresses would, in our quarter of
the world, produce jealousy and dissatisfaction. But Eastern monarchs
ensure peace and tranquillity to their kingdom by bestowing government
offices on their sons and grandsons. They obtain an independent
provision, and being kept apart, are not likely to cabal in their
father's lifetime. Rehoboam acted thus, and his sagacity will appear
still greater if the wives he desired for them belonged to the cities
where each son was located. These connections would bind them more
closely to their respective places. In the modern countries of the
East, particularly Persia and Turkey, younger princes were, till very
lately, shut up in the harem during their father's lifetime; and, to
prevent competition, they were blinded or killed when their brother
ascended the throne. In the former country the old practice of
dispersing them through the country as Rehoboam did, has been again