1 Kings 12 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)

1 Kings 12
Pulpit Commentary
And Rehoboam went to Shechem: for all Israel were come to Shechem to make him king.
Verse 1. - And Rehoboam [see on 1 Kings 11:26, and compare the name Αὐρύδημος. The name possibly indicates Solomon's ambitious hopes respecting him. The irony of history alone emphasizes it. Ecclesiastes 2:18, 19 would seem to show that Solomon himself had misgivings as to his son's abilities. "As the greatest persons cannot give themselves children, so the wisest cannot give their children wisdom" (Hall). His mother was Naamah, an Ammonitess (1 Kings 14:31). It would appear from 1 Kings 14:21, and 2 Chronicles 12:13, that he was 41 years of age at his accession. But this is, to say the least, doubtful. For

(1) he is described in 2 Chronicles 13:7 as being "young (נַעַר) and tender hearted."

(2) The LXX. addition to 1 Kings 12:24 says he was sixteen; υἱὸς ω}ν ἑκκαίδεκα ἐτῶν ἐν τῶ βασιλεύειν αὐτὸν.

(3) It is hardly probable that Solomon, who was himself "young and tender" at his father's death, should then have had a son a year old.

(4) Rehoboam's counsellors, who had "grown up with him," and were therefore of the same age as himself, are called "lads" (יְלָדִים, LXX. παισάρια). To these reasons Rawlinson adds a fifth, viz. "that it is hardly likely that David would have permitted his son to marry an Ammonitess, which of course he must have done, if Rehoboam was born in his lifetime. But it should be remembered that David had himself married a foreign princess, Maachah, daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur (1 Chronicles 3:2). There is greater force in the remark that Solomon's marriages with Ammonite and Moabite women belong apparently to a later period of his life (1 Kings 11:1). Altogether the evidence seems to point to a corruption of the text of 1 Kings 14:21, etc., and it has been suggested that "forty-one" is there an error of transcription for "twenty-one," a mistake easily made, if, as is extremely probable, the ancient Hebrews, like the later, used the letters of the alphabet as numerals. Twenty-one would then be כא; forty-one מא] went to [This journey was probably made soon after a prior coronation at Jerusalem. According to the LXX. addition, it was at least a year after his accession] Shechem [An old gathering place of the northern tribes (Joshua 24:1). Its position, in the very centre of Palestine, fitted it for this purpose. ("Shechem may be considered the natural capital of Palestine," Conder, p. 16.) But it was perhaps primarily selected because it was the capital of Ephraim, not because it was a "national sanctuary of Israel" (Wordsworth), a title to which it has but little claim. It had once before furnished Ephraim with a king (Judges 9:2). We learn from Joshua 20:7 that it was "in Mount Ephraim;" from Judges 9:7 that it was under Mount Gerizim. To its position the place was, no doubt, indebted for its name. It is often said to be doubtful whether the place was named after Shechem, the son of Hamor (Genesis 33:18), or whether this prince took his name from the place. The latter is, no doubt, the correct view. For Shechem means strictly, not, as it is often translated, the "shoulder," but dorsi pars superior, or perhaps the space between the shoulder blades (as is proved by Job 31:22, "Let my shoulder fall," משִּׁכְמָה). Hence the word is found only in the singular (see Gesen., Thessalonians 3. p. 1407). Now any one who has seen the vale of Shechem (Nablus) will hardly doubt that its name is due to its resemblance to this part of the body (compare "Ezion-geber," 1 Kings 9:26). The town lies in a valley between the two ridges of Ebal and Gerizim; cf. Jos., Ant. 4:08. 44. "The feet of these mountains where they rise from the town [to the height of 1000 feet] are not more than 500 yards apart." It is consequently one of the most striking and beautiful spots in Palestine, and the more so as its perennial supply of water clothes it with perpetual verdure. For its history see Genesis 12:6; Genesis 33:18; Genesis 34; Genesis 48:22; Deuteronomy 27:4-12; Joshua 20:7; Joshua 21:20; Joshua 24:1, 25, 32; Judges 9; etc. In the New Testament it has been supposed to appear under the form Sychar (John 4:5), and this variation has been universally accounted for as a paronomasia, ֶשקֶר meaning "a lie." But the recent survey has given us good reasons for identifying the place last named with 'Askar, a little village on the slope of Ebal, half a mile from Jacob's well and a little over a mile from Nablus (Condor, pp. 40, 41) ]: for [This word suggests that Rehoboam had not "selected the capital of Ephraim to be the scene" of his coronation (Rawl.) but that he went thither because the northern tribes claimed this concession. They demanded apparently that he should meet them to receive their homage in the territory of Ephraim. It was a recognition of the importance of the tribe, and there they could the better urge their demands] all Israel [That is, not the twelve tribes (Ewald), but the ten, or their representatives. The name of Israel was already identified with the ten, or rather eleven, tribes (see 2 Samuel 2:9, 10, 17, 28). It is highly probable that the comparative isolation of Judah from the rest of the tribes (see Dict. Bib. vol. 1. p. 1157) had led to this result. Indeed, this fact - that the term "Israel" was used of the whole nation, exclusive of the tribe of Judah - shows in a very significant way the alienation of Judah from the rest] were come to Shoehorn to make him king. [It would certainly seem from these words as if the ten tribes had then no settled idea of revolting. Kimchi sees in the very selection of Shechem a proof that they were only "seeking an opportunity for transferring the government to Jeroboam." Similarly Keil. But the glories of Solomon's reign and the traditions of the house of David would surely make them hesitate, even if they had heard of the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite (1 Kings 11:29), before they wantonly broke away from Rehoboam. And the text says expressly that they had assembled to "make him king," i.e., to accept him as such, to anoint him (1 Chronicles 12:38 compared with 2 Samuel 2:4; 2 Samuel 5:8 shows that הִמְלִיך is synonymous with מָשַׁך לְמֶלֶך, Keil), after the example of Saul (1 Samuel 2:15), David (2 Samuel 2:4; 2 Samuel 5:3), and Solomon (ch. 1:39; 1 Chronicles 29:22). No doubt, as the context shows, they intended to stipulate for an alleviation of burdens, etc., and their selection of Shechem as the place where they would render their allegiance was a "significant hint" (Ewald. "The very place puts Israel in mind of a rebellion," Bp. Hall) to Rehoboam. Their putting forward Jeroboam as their spokesman -presuming for the present that the received text of ver. 3 is to be retained, as to which, however, see below - was a further hint, or rather a plain indication, that they did not mean to be trifled with. It is not a proof, however, as Keil maintains, that they had already determined to make the latter king, for they distinctly said to Rehoboam (ver. 4), "Grant our petition and we will serve thee." (Ewald, who says "they had the fullest intentions of confirming his power as king if their wishes were granted," points out how this fact makes against the received text, according to which they had already summoned Jeroboam from Egypt.) It is clear from this and the passages cited above that the Jewish people at this period of their history were accustomed, not indeed to choose their king, but to confirm him in his office by public acclamation.]
And it came to pass, when Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who was yet in Egypt, heard of it, (for he was fled from the presence of king Solomon, and Jeroboam dwelt in Egypt;)
Verse 2. - And it came to pass, when Jeroboam the son of Nebat [see on 1 Kings 11:26], who was yet in Egypt [The usual, and indeed the necessary, interpretation, if we retain our present Hebrew text, is that these words refer, not as the context would lead us to suppose, to the time indicated in vers. 1, 3, etc., but to the time of Solomon's death. But see below], heard of it [The words "of it," though not in the original, are a fair and legitimate interpretation of its meaning. Whether they are retained or not, the natural and grammatical interpretation is that it was the visit to Shechem, just before mentioned, of which Jeroboam heard. But according to our received text, Jeroboam was one of the deputation which met king Rehoboam at Shechem. It has been found necessary, consequently, to understand the words of the death of Solomon, which has been related in 1 Kings 11:43. So the Vulgate, Audita morte ejus. Similarly the LXX. Cod. Vat. inserts the substance of this verse as part of 1 Kings 11:43. (The Cod. Alex. follows the Hebrew.) But this interpretation is surely strained and unnatural] (for he was fled from the presence of king Solomon, and Jeroboam dwelt in Egypt;) [The parallel passage in 2 Chronicles 10. has here, "And Jeroboam returned from Egypt" (ויַָּשבָ יר ממצ instead of וַיֵּשֶׁב יר במצ). And as some copies of the LXX. have καὶ ἐπέστρεψεν Ἱερο βοὰμ ἐξ Αἰγύπτου and the Vulgate has "Reversus est de Aegypto," Dathe, Bahr, al. would adopt this reading here. It is true it involves but a slight change, and it may simplify the construction. But no change is really required, Bahr's objection, that in the text, as it stands, we have an unmeaning repetition, "He was still in Egypt... and Jeroboam dwelt in Egypt," loses all its force if we understand Jeroboam to have continued his residence in Egypt (as the LXX. says he did) after hearing of Solomon's death. until summoned by the tribes to be their leader. In any case the repetition accords with Hebrew usage.]
That they sent and called him. And Jeroboam and all the congregation of Israel came, and spake unto Rehoboam, saying,
Verse 3. - That [Heb. and] they sent and called him. And Jeroboam and all the congregation of Israel came [It has been held that this verse is largely an interpolation. The LXX. Cod. Vat. has simply, "And the people spake unto king Rehoboam, saying." Of more importance, however, is the fact that it is at direct variance with ver. 20, which places the appearance of Jeroboam on the scene after the revolt of the tribes. Indeed, these two verses can only be brought into agreement by the questionable device of understanding the "all Israel" of ver. 20 very differently from the same expression in ver. 1. If, however, we follow in this instance the LXX., which omits the name of Jeroboam both here and in ver. 12 (and which thereby implies that he was not one of the deputation to Rehoboam, but, as ver. 2 states, was at that time still in Egypt), the difficulty vanishes. Ver. 20 then becomes the natural and logical continuation of vers. 2, 3. "And Jeroboam dwelt in Egypt. And they sent and called him [to the country.]... And when all Israel heard that Jeroboam was come again [at their summons] they sent and called him unto the congregation," etc. And in favour of the omission of Jeroboam's name is the fact that the Hebrew text, both in ver. 3 and in ver. 12, betrays some little confusion. In ver. 3, the Cethib has וַיָּבֹאוּ and וַיָּבֹוּ in ver. 12, whereas the Keri has וַיָּבֹא in both cases. The words look, that is to say, as if a singular nominative had been subsequently introduced], and spake unto Rehoboam, saying.
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.
Verse 4. - Thy father made our yoke [see for the literal sense of the word, Numbers 19:2; Deuteronomy 21:3, etc.; for its tropical use, Leviticus 26:13; Deuteronomy 28:48, etc.] grievous [Heb. heavy. Was this complaint a just one? It is one which occasions us some surprise, as the reign of Solomon had not only been glorious, but the people had apparently enjoyed the greatest plenty and prosperity (1 Kings 4:20, 25; cf. 8:66). Bishop Hall, Bahr, and other writers, consequently, who see in the fact that the ten tribes had chosen Jeroboam for their mouthpiece a settled determination on their part to revolt, affirm that their grievances were purely factitious. But we must not forget that, despite the unbroken peace (see Hall, "Contempl." 2:136) and general prosperity and affluence, the people had had one burden at least to bear which is always galling and vexatious, the burden of a conscription. It is by no means certain, though it is constantly assumed, and is not in itself improbable, that the taxes and imposts had been heavy, the passages alleged in support of that view (1 Kings 10:15, 25; 1 Kings 12:4, LXX.) being quite inconclusive. But while we have no right to speak of the, enormous exactions of the late king" (Stanley), we may be perfectly sure that such an establishment as his (1 Kings 4:22, 26) and such undertakings (1 Kings 6:14, 22; 1 Kings 3:1; 1 Kings 7; 1 Kings 9:26, 17, 18) would be extremely costly, and that their cost was not altogether defrayed by the presents of subject princes (1 Kings 4:21; cf. 10:10, 14), the profits of the king's merchants (1 Kings 10:28), or the imports of the fleet (1 Kings 5:21 [1 Kings 5:7]). But the people had certainly had to pay a more odious tribute, that of forced labour, of servile work (1 Kings 4:6, Hebr.; 5:14 [1 Kings 4:34]; cf. 1 Kings 9:21. מַס is almost always used of a tribute rendered by labour, Gesen.) It is quite true that Solomon was not the first to institute this; that David had exacted it before him (2 Samuel 20:24); that the burden was one with which all subjects of the old-world monarchies, especially in the East, were familiar; and that in this case it had been imposed with peculiar considerateness (1 Kings 5:14). But it is none the less certain, when we consider the magnitude of Solomon's undertakings, and the number of men necessarily employed in executing them, that it must have involved some hardships and created much dissatisfaction; such results are inevitable in all conscriptions. "Forced labour has been amongst the causes leading to insurrection in many ages and countries. It alienated the people of Rome from the last Tarquin; it helped to bring about the French Revolution; and it was for many years one of the principal grievances of the Russian serfs" (Rawlinson). But we may find instances of its working perhaps as more Eastern, more closely illustrative of the text amongst the Fellahin of Egypt. "According to Pliny, 360,000 men had to work 20 years long at one pyramid" (Bahr). In the construction of the great Mahmoudieh canal, by Mehemet All, over 300,000 labourers were employed. They worked under the lash, and such were the fatigues and hardships of their life that many thousands died in the space of a few months (cf., too, Exodus 1:11 sqq.; Exodus 2:23]: now therefore make thou the grievous [Heb. hard, heavy] service of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter [lit., "lighten somewhat from," etc.], and we will serve thee. [Their stipulations seem reasonable enough. Bahr, who says, "We cannot admit the complaint of too hard tribute work to be well founded," and Keil, who maintains that "there cannot have been any well-grounded occasion for complaint," surely forget that both the aged counsellors (ver. 7) and also the writer of this book (vers. 13-15) manifest some degree of sympathy with the complainants.]
And he said unto them, Depart yet for three days, then come again to me. And the people departed.
Verse 5. - And he said unto them, Depart yet for three days [so as to afford time for counsel and deliberation. It has been assumed that both the old and young advisers of Rehoboam had been taken by him, as part of his retinue, to Shechem (Bahr). But it is quite as likely that some of them were summoned from Jerusalem to advise him, and that the three days' delay was in order to give time for their attendance. It is a long day's journey (12 hours) from Nablus to Jerusalem. Three days, consequently, would just afford sufficient time for the purpose] then come again to me, And the people departed. [The peaceable departure, like the respect-tiff demand, contradicts the idea of a settled purpose to rebel.]
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?
Verse 6. - And king Rehoboam consulted with the old men [According to Bahr," the זְקֵנִים are not old people, but the elders." No doubt the word is constantly used, as in the expressions, "elders of Israel," "elders of the city," etc. (cf. πρεσβυτέροι, senatores (from senex), aldermen = elder men), without any reference to age; but this is not the case here, as the strong contrast with "young men" (vers. 8, 13, 14) proves] that stood before [see on 1 Kings 1:2] Solomon his father [among them, perhaps, were some of the "princes" of 1 Kings 4:2 sqq.] 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.
Verse 7. - And they spake unto him, saying, If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them [Keil questions the propriety and expediency of this advice. He says, "The king could not become the עֶבֶד of the people without prejudicing the authority entrusted to him by God." But they do not propose that he should become their servant, except for one clay, and then only in the sense of making reasonable concessions. What they mean is this: "If thou wilt brook for once to accede to their terms instead of dictating thine own," etc. The form of their answer was probably suggested by the temper of the king. They saw what was passing in his mind, viz., that he would fain play the autocrat, and that he resented it exceedingly that his subjects, just as he had begun to taste the sweets of royalty, should presume to parley with him; and they say in effect, "You think that they are reversing your relations, that they are making you, their sovereign, their servant. Be it so. It is but for one day. Then they will be your slaves forever"], and answer them [i.e., favourably; grant their request; cf. Psalm 22:22; Psalm 65:6], and speak good words to them, then will they be thy servants forever. ["Thy servants," in opposition to "a servant" above; "forever" in opposition to "this day."]
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:
Verse 8. - But he forsook the counsel of the old men which they had given [Heb. counselled] him ["We can easily imagine that their proposal was not very agreeable to the rash and imperious young king, in whose veins Ammonite blood flowed" (Bahr) ], and consulted with the young men [see on ver. 1. "The very change argues weakness.. Green wood is ever shrinking" (Hall)] that were grown up with him [possibly his companions in the harem], and which stood before him [i.e., as his courtiers and counsellors (cf. ver. 6). The old men were the counsellors of Solomon; the young men alone are spoken of as the ministers of Rehoboam.
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?
Verse 9. - And he said unto them, What counsel give ye [emphatic in the original] that we [it is noticeable how Rehoboam identifies these young men with himself. He employs a different expression when addressing the old men (ver. 6). The A.V. perhaps gives its force by the translation, "that I may answer," etc.; lit., "to answer"] 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.
Verse 10. - And the young men that were grown up with him spake unto him, saying, Thus shalt thou speak unto this people [There is a certain amount of contemptuousness in the expression (cf. St. John 7:49) ] that spake unto thee [The repetition, "speak, spake," is probably not undesigned. It suggests the idea of retaliation, or that it was a piece of presumption on their part to have spoken at all], saying, Thy father made our yoke heavy, but make thou it lighter unto us [lit., from upon us]; thus shalt thou say unto them [This iteration is expressive of determination and resentment. We may read between the lines, "I would make short work with them, and teach them a lesson they will not forget"], My little finger ["Finger" is not in the original, but the meaning is indisputable] shall be [or is, עָבָה, strictly, was thicker. The LXX. has simply παχυτέρα] thicker than my father's loins. [A figurative and perhaps proverbial expression. The sense is clear. "My hand shall be heavier than my father's, my force greater than his, my weakness even stronger than his strength." The counsel of the young men is full of flattery, which would be acceptable to a young king.
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.
Verse 11. - And now whereas my father did lade you with [or, lay upon you] a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke: my father chastised you with whips [It is probable that the expression is not entirely figurative. It is quite possible that the levies of Amorites, Hittites (1 Kings 9:20), etc., had been kept at their toils by the lash], but I will chastise you with scorpions. ["The very words have stings" (Hall). It is generally held that there is here "no allusion whatever to the animal, but to some instrument of scourging - unless, indeed, the expression is a mere figure" (Dict. Bib. 3. p. 1161). Perhaps it is safer to understand it as a figure of speech, although the scorpion, unlike the serpent, is little like, or adapted to use as, a lash. Probably it was in the pain the whip caused that the resemblance lay (Romans 9:5). All the commentators mention that the later Romans used a whip called a "scorpio," and cite Isidore (Orig. 5, 27) in proof. Gesenius, Keil, al. understand "whips with barbed points, like the point of a scorpion's sting;" the Rabbins, Virgae spinis instructae; others, the thorny stem of the eggplant, by some called the "scorpion plant." Compare our use of the word "cat." "The yoke and whips go together, and are the signs of labouring service (Ecclus. 30:26, or 33:27)" Bahr.]
So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king had appointed, saying, Come to me again the third day.
Verse 12. - So Jeroboam and [LXX. omits] all the people came to Rehoboam the third day ["Three days' expectation had warmed these smoking Israelites" (Hall) ], as the king had appointed, saying, Come to me again the third day.
And the king answered the people roughly, and forsook the old men's counsel that they gave him;
Verse 13. - And the king answered the people [the omission of Jeroboam's name, though perhaps it cannot he pressed in argument, is noticeable] roughly, and forsook the old men's counsel that they gave him.
And spake to them after the counsel of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.
Verse 14. - And spake to them after the counsel of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.
Wherefore the king hearkened not unto the people; for the cause was from the LORD, that he might perform his saying, which the LORD spake by Ahijah the Shilonite unto Jeroboam the son of Nebat.
Verse 15. - Wherefore the king hearkened not unto the people, for the cause [or course of events; lit., turn] was from the Lord ["Quem Deus vult perdere, prius dementat." God did not inspire Rehoboam's proud and despotic reply, but used it for the accomplishment of His purpose, the partition of the kingdom (cf. Exodus 14:4; Matthew 26:24). God makes the wrath of man to praise Him], that [Heb. in order that] he might perform his saying, which the Lord spake by [Heb. in the hand of; cf. 1 Kings 14:18; 1 Kings 2:25, note] Ahijah the Shilonite [see on 1 Kings 11:11] unto Jeroboam the son of Nebat.
So when all Israel saw that the king hearkened not unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David. So Israel departed unto their tents.
Verse 16. - So when all Israel saw that the king hearkened not unto them, the people answered [Heb. brought back word to; probably after some consultation amongst themselves] the king, saying, What portion have we in David? [Same expression as 2 Samuel 20:1. The words, interpreted by this passage and 2 Samuel 19:43, mean, "Since we have no kindness or fairness from David's seed, what is his house to us? Why render homage to his son? We receive nought from him, why yield aught to him?"] neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse [i.e., "his tribe is not ours; his interests are not ours." Bahr sees in the expression "son of Jesse" "an allusion to David's humbler descent," but surely without reason. It is simply a periphrasis for the sake of the parallelism. The rhythm almost elevates the words to the rank of poetry]: to your tents, O Israel [lit., thy tents, Or dwellings; i.e., "Disperse to your homes (see 1 Kings 8:66; and cf. 2 Samuel 18:17; 2 Samuel 19:8; 2 Samuel 20:1), and prepare for war." לֺאהֶל, which means primarily a "tent," has for its secondary meaning, "habitation," "home." This cry - the Marseillaise of Israel - probably had its origin at a time when the people dwelt in tents, viz., in the march through the desert (see Joshua 22:4; Numbers 1:52; Numbers 9:18; Numbers 16:26) ]. Now see to thine own house, David [i.e., let the seed of David henceforth reign over the tribe of Judah, if it can. It shall govern the other tribes no longer. "It is not a threat of war, but a warning against interference" (Rawlinson). רָאָה has the meaning of "look after," "care for." "David, the tribe father, is mentioned in place of his family" (Keil) ]. So Israel departed unto their [lit., his] tents [see note on ch. 8:66].
But as for the children of Israel which dwelt in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them.
Verse 17. - But as for the children of Israel which dwelt In the cities of Judah [i.e., "the Israelites proper or members of other tribes, who happened to be settled within the limits of the land of Judah" (cf. ver. 23). A number of Simeonites were (Rawlinson) certainly among them (Joshua 19:1-9). The term "children of Israel" is henceforward to be understood in its restricted sense (see on ver. 1). It cannot include the men of Judah], Rehoboam reigned over them.
Then king Rehoboam sent Adoram, who was over the tribute; and all Israel stoned him with stones, that he died. Therefore king Rehoboam made speed to get him up to his chariot, to flee to Jerusalem.
Verse 18. - Then king Rehoboam sent Adoram, who was over the tribute [Probably the same officer as the Adoniram of ch. 1 Kings 4:6. For "Adoram," the LXX. and other versions read "Adoniram" here. It is curious that a person of the same name, Adoram (LXX. Adoniram), was over David's levy (2 Samuel 20:24). That there was a relationship, and that the office had descended from father to son, can hardly be doubted, but whether two persons or three are indicated it is impossible to say. It is of course just possible, though hardly likely that one and the same person (Ewald) can have been superintendent of servile work under David, Solomon, and Rehoboam. It is generally assumed that the young king sent this officer "to treat with the rebels and to appease them, as Josephus expressly says" (Bahr). It seems quite as likely that he was sent to coerce them, or to collect the taxes, as a summary way of showing that the king meant to enforce his rights and was not moved by their words. For it is hardly probable that such a proud and headstrong prince as Rehoboam would stoop, especially after the confident threats which he had just uttered, to parley with rebels. Such a man, guided by such counsellors, and inflated with a sense of his own power and importance, would naturally think of force rather than of conciliation or concessions. He would be for trying his whips of scorpions. And if conciliation had been his object, it is hardly likely that he would have employed Adoram, the superintendent of the levy, a man who would naturally be obnoxious to the people, to effect it. Moreover the sequel - Adoram's tragical end - also favours the supposition that he was sent, not "to arrange some alleviation of their burdens" (Rawlinson), but to carry out the high-handed policy Of the king]; and all Israel stoned him with stones ["With one exception, this was a bloodless revolution" (Stanley). It has been remarked that the practice of stoning is first heard of in the stony desert (Arabia Petraea). But in reality it is older than the date of the Exodus, as Exodus 8:26 shows. And it is an obvious and ready and summary way of despatching obnoxious persons (cf. Exodus 17:4; 1 Samuel 30:6; 1 Kings 21:10). It is to this day a favourite method of the East for testifying hatred and intolerance], that he died. Therefore king Rehoboam made speed [So the LXX., ἔφθασεν. The Hebrew literally means, as margin, "strengthened himeself." But the A.V. gives the practical force of the word. He bestirred himself; he lost no time; the death of Adoram showed him the danger of a moment's delay. "He saw those stones were thrown at him in his Adoram" (Hall).] to get him up to his chariot, to flee to Jerusalem.
So Israel rebelled against the house of David unto this day.
Verse 19. - So Israel rebelled [lit., fell away (marg.) The common secondary meaning of the word is to transgress. Its use here may perhaps suggest that their rebellion was not without sin] against the house of David unto this day (see on 1 Kings 8:8)].
And it came to pass, when all Israel heard that Jeroboam was come again, that they sent and called him unto the congregation, and made him king over all Israel: there was none that followed the house of David, but the tribe of Judah only.
Verse 20. - And it came to pass, when all Israel heard that Jeroboam was come again [These words are hardly consistent with the idea that Jeroboam had been from the first the spokesman of "all Israel" in their interviews with Rehoboam. If, however, the received text of vers. 8, 12 is retained (see on ver. 3), then we must understand the "all Israel" in ver. 1 of the representatives of the different tribes, and here, of the entire nation who had heard from its representatives, on their return to their homes (ver. 16), of the presence of Jeroboam in the country], that they sent and called him unto the congregation [Where and when this gathering was held we are not informed. Probably it was at Shechem, and soon after Rehoboam's flight. After the open and irreparable breach which they had made (ver. 18), the leaders of the tribes would naturally assemble at once to concert measures for their defence and future government], and made him king [by anointing. Note on ver. 1] over all Israel [This public and formal consecration of Jeroboam completed the secession of the northern tribes. Was this secession sinful? Bahr, Keil, and others, who start from the assumption that secession was determined upon even before Rehoboam came to Shechem, and that the complaints of the people respecting the grievous service to which they had been subjected by Solomon were groundless, naturally conclude that it was altogether treasonable and unjustifiable. But is this conclusion borne out by the facts? We may readily admit that the schism was not accomplished without sin: we cannot but allow that Israel acted with undue precipitation, and that Rehoboam, who was "young and tenderhearted," was entitled, for David's and Solomon's sake, as well as his own, to greater forbearance and consideration, and it is almost certain that both the "envy of Ephraim" and the ambition of Jeroboam largely influenced the result. At the same time, it is to be remembered that the division of the kingdom was ordained of God, and that the people had just cause of complaint, if not, indeed, sufficient warrant for resistance, in the arbitrary and insolent rejection of their petition by the young king. No law of God requires men to yield themselves up without a struggle to such cruel and abject slavery as Rehoboam threatened these men with. They judged - and who shall say unreasonably? - from his words that they had only tyranny and cruelty to expect at his hands, and what wonder if they stood on their defence? They are only to be blamed because they did more. But lawful resistance not uncommonly ripens into unlawful rebellion]: there was none that followed the house of David, but the tribe of Judah only. [This general statement is qualified immediately afterwards (ver. 21). The tribe of Benjamin, "the smallest of the tribes of Israel" (1 Samuel 9:21), "little Benjamin" (Psalm 68:27), is here omitted as of comparatively small account. Exact precision has never characterized Oriental writers. There is no suspicion of untruth: it is the genius of the people to

"disdain the lore,
Of nicely calculated less and more."
It may be added here that Edom remained under the sway of Judah until the reign of Jehoram (2 Kings 8:20), just as Moab and other portions of Solomon's empire for a considerable period formed part of the new kingdom of Israel (2 Kings 1:1; 2 Kings 3:4, 5).]
And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah, with the tribe of Benjamin, an hundred and fourscore thousand chosen men, which were warriors, to fight against the house of Israel, to bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam the son of Solomon.
Verse 21. - And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah with [Heb. and] the tribe of Benjamin, [It is at first sight somewhat surprising that Benjamin, so long the rival of Judah, and which had so long resisted the rule of David, should on this occasion have detached itself from the leadership of Ephraim, its near and powerful neighbour, and a tribe, too, with which it had a sort of hereditary connexion. That a sort of jealousy existed at one time between the tribes of Benjamin and Judah, consequent, no doubt, on the transference of the sceptre from the house of Saul to that of David, is very evident. A thousand men of Benjamin constituted the following of the rebel Shimei, (2 Samuel 19:17). The rising of Sheba the Benjamite, again (2 Samuel 20:1), proves that the enmity and discontent were not even then subdued. But when the ten tribes fell away, Benjamin seems never to have faltered in its allegiance. The change is easily accounted for. It was the glory of Benjamin that Jerusalem, the joy of the whole earth, the civil and religious capital of the nation, was largely within its border. "The city of the Jebusite" was in the lot of Benjamin (Joshua 18:28). But it was also on the boundary line of Judah. This fact had, no doubt, brought the two tribes into close contact, and had given them interests in common, in fact had "riveted them together as by a cramp" (Blunt, pp. 167, 174, who traces "a gradual tendency of the ten tribes to become confederate under Ephraim," and a growing alliance and community of interests between Judah and Benjamin); and now Benjamin could not fail to see that separation from Judah would mean the loss of Jerusalem (which would be largely peopled by the men of Judah, David's tribe, and would be practically in their hands), while adhesion to Ephraim would not prevent the establishment of another sanctuary further north. The traditions of fifty years, consequently, and the common interest in the capital, prevailed over hereditary ties and ancient feuds, and decided Benjamin to cast in its lot with Judah;the more so, as the heads of this tribe may have felt, after once furnishing Israel with its king, as jealous of Ephraim as they had once been of Judah. It must not be forgotten, however, that some portions of Benjamin, including Bethel, Gilgal, and Jericho, were incorporated in the northern kingdom (Ewald) ], an hundred and fourscore thousand chosen men [the LXX. has ἑκατὸν καὶ ἐὶκοσι = 120,000, but the larger number need create no astonishment. At the time of David's census, the men of Judah numbered - if the figures can be depended on - 500,000, while Abijah could muster some 18 years afterwards an army of 400,000 (2 Chronicles 1 [lit., making war], to fight against the house of Israel, to bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam, the son of Solomon. [It is characteristic of Rehoboam that he proposes forthwith to subdue the rebellious tribes by force. Probably he had no idea to what extent the tribes would prove disloyal.]
But the word of God came unto Shemaiah the man of God, saying,
Verse 22. - But the word of God came unto Shemaiah [This part of the history is probably derived from the "book" which this prophet wrote (2 Chronicles 12:15). When Keil describes him as "a prophet who is not mentioned again," he has surely overlooked 2 Chronicles 12:7, 8, where we find him prophesying with reference to the army of Shishak], the man of God [a common expression in the books of Kings. It rarely occurs in the other Scriptures. This designation is not altogether synonymous with "prophet." It is used, for example, of angels (Judges 13:6, 8), of Moses (Deuteronomy 33:1), and of David (2 Chronicles 8:14), and would embrace any minister or servant of God, while נָבִיא is restricted to the teaching order. There were false prophets, but no false men of God. It is also worth considering whether the name of prophet may not have been practically restricted to, or bestowed by preference on, those who had received a prophetic training, the "sons of the prophets" who had been taught in the schools. Cf. 1 Samuel 10:5-12; 1 Samuel 19:20; Amos 7:14], saying.
Speak unto Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and unto all the house of Judah and Benjamin, and to the remnant of the people, saying,
Verse 23. - Speak unto Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and unto all the house of Judah and Benjamin; and to the remnant of the people ["the children of Israel" mentioned in ver. 17, where see note], saying.
Thus saith the LORD, Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel: return every man to his house; for this thing is from me. They hearkened therefore to the word of the LORD, and returned to depart, according to the word of the LORD.
Verse 24. - Thus saith the Lord, Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren [a timely reminder of the unity of the race, notwithstanding the division of the kingdom] the children of Israel: return every man to his house: for this thing [i.e., the division, rupture] is [lit., was] from me. [A prophet of Judah now confirms what a prophet of Israel had already announced]. They hearkened therefore unto the word of the Lord, and returned [not "because they probably saw that a war with the numerically greater, and just now bitterly excited, ten tribes would bring them into a worse condition still" (Bahr), but because of the "word of the Lord." It was the remonstrance of the prophet alone restrained them. They knew their numerical inferiority before, but they nevertheless mustered for battle] to depart [a common Hebraism. The phrase in 2 Chronicles 11:4, יָשׁוּבוּ מִלֶּכֶת "they returned from going," was probably designed as an explanation], according to the word of the Lord. At this point the Vat. LXX. inserts along addition, which differs from, and indeed contradicts, the Hebrew text in some important particulars. Rehoboam is represented as 16 years of age (Hebrews 40), as reigning 12 years (Hebrews 17); his mother is Naanan (Heb. Naamah), and is the daughter of Ana, son of Nahash, king of Ammon. Jeroboam is described as son of Sarira, a harlot. He is appointed by Solomon superintendent of the levy of Ephraim, and builds for him a city Sarira, and also completes the circumvallation of Jerusalem. He has 300 chariots and aims at royalty. Solomon seeking to slay him, he flees to Shishak, king of Egypt, who treats him with distinction, giving him the sister of his own wife in marriage. Here his son Abijah is born, when Rehoboam has been, something like a year upon the throne. After his birth, Jeroboam asks a second time to be released: he returns to his own country, takes up his abode at Sarira, fortifies it, and gathers the tribe of Ephraim round him. Here Abijah falls sick, and the visit to the prophet, narrated in chap. 14, takes place. The child dies; there is general mourning, after which Jeroboam goes to Shechem, and collects the tribes. Here the prophet Shemaiah (not Ahijah) tears a new garment in twelve pieces, gives him ten, and promises him the dominion over ten tribes. After which follow the events of vers. 5-24 of this chapter. The great circumstantiality of this narrative has led some scholars - Dean Stanley among them - to prefer it before the Hebrew version. But its details will not bear careful examination, and there is little doubt that it is a compilation of later date. Its untrustworthiness has been well shown among others by Rawlinson, Speaker's Commentary in loc. But he omits to notice what is perhaps its strongest condemnation, viz., that this LXX. addition is in conflict with the LXX. (and Hebrews) text of chap. 11. The account of Jeroboam's marriage with the sister of the queen, e.g., is manifestly a variation of the history of Hadad (ch. 11. ver. 19; see also ver. 22). Nor does it harmonize with the preceding history of this chapter, as given by the LXX.

CHAPTER 12:25-33. THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE KINGDOM OF ISRAEL, AND THE SCHISM IN THE CHURCH. - The historian, after describing the great rebellion of the Jewish people, proceeds, in the rest of this chapter, to relate the measures which the new king took to secure his position. These were both external and internal. The external means were the erection of fortresses; the internal, the provision of new sanctuaries, priests, and ordinances.
Then Jeroboam built Shechem in mount Ephraim, and dwelt therein; and went out from thence, and built Penuel.
Verse 25. - Then Jeroboam built [i.e., rebuilt or fortified, בָּנָה naturally has both meanings] Shechem [see on ver. 1 and on 1 Kings 14:1] in Mount Ephraim [The Har-Ephraim, or mountain district of Ephraim (in Joshua 11:16 called the "Mountain of Israel;" cf. Joshua 17:15-18; Judges 4:5; Judges 10:1; 1 Samuel 1:1), is "the central mass of the hills of Palestine, nearly equidistant from the northern and southern boundary of the whole country" (Stanley, S. and P., p. 229), and the richest and most beautiful part of the land. "The tower of Sichem had been burnt down by Abimelech and the tower of Penuel had been destroyed by Gideon, Judges 8:17" (Keil). The city of Shechem had been destroyed at the same time as the tower, but had no doubt been rebuilt, at least in part, otherwise it could hardly have been selected for Rehoboam's coronation. It was naturally Jeroboam's first care to strengthen his position by fortitying his capital, and the more so as this city would be particularly obnoxious to Rehoboam as the scene of the revolution; but why he should at the same time have rebuilt Penuel - Ewald thinks the seat of government was placed here - is not at first eight so obvious, as it lay beyond the Jordan (Genesis 32:22, 30; Genesis 33:17) and was therefore presumably outside the circle of hostilities, should such arise. Probably it was because this was the gate to his Trans-Jordanic territory. A tower commanding the fords of the Jordan would secure Reuben, Gad, etc., against invasion from Judah. It is also not unlikely that Jeroboam. who was the great castle builder of that age, had some fears of "hostile attacks from the north and northeast" (Keil), or thought of "the caravan road which led over Gilead to Damascus" (Wordsworth), and of which he would wish, for the sake of his revenue, to retain the control], and dwelt therein [He made it his first residence and capital]; and went out from thence [i.e., when he had secured one fortified city. He could hardly be certain as yet which side some of the tribes would take. It is also possible that some of the workmen who had built Shechem were afterwards employed on the fortification of Penuel], and built Penuel. [Bahr says, "There is no doubt that he built these fortifications by tribute labour, like Solomon." But is this quite so certain? The people after the revolt would naturally conclude that Rehoboam, of whose proud temper they had had such proof, would want to wreak his vengeance on the city which had rejected him, and the instinct of self-defence would lead them at once to rebuild their walls. And the newborn kingdom would also earnestly desire to possess a suitable capital. Thus their self-interest and enthusiasm alike would obviate the necessity for a conscription.]
And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David:
Verse 26. - And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David [It needed much less prescience than Jeroboam seems to have possessed to perceive that fortresses and armies would be of no avail for the defence of his realm, so long as Jerusalem remained the one sanctuary of the land. He clearly foresaw that if the people went up thither, as in time past, three times a year, to keep the feasts, the religious sentiment would in time reassert itself and sweep him and his new dynasty away. With one religion, one sanctuary, one priesthood, there could not long be two kingdoms. People who had so much in common would, sooner or later, complete the unity of their national life under a common sovereign. And we find, indeed, that so powerful were the attractions of the temple, and the religious system of which it was the centre, that "the priests and Levites that were in all Israel," together with the more devout laity, fell away to Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:13, 16), while the speech of Abijah on Mount Zemaraim (2 Chronicles 13:11), proves that others as well as Jeroboam were well aware that the old religion and the new kingdom could hardly coexist.]
If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah.
Verse 27. - If this people go up to do sacrifice [Heb. sacrifices] in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem [as the law of Moses ordained (Deuteronomy 12:11, 14; Deuteronomy 16:6, 11)], then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord [The Syriac omits this word. The LXX. has πρὸς Κύριον κὰι κύριον αὐτῶν], even unto Rehoboam king of Judah [When Wordsworth remarks that Jeroboam "here acknowledges Rehoboam as the 'lord' of the people," he surely forgets that these are not the actual words of Jeroboam, but the thoughts which the historian supposes him to have had (ver. 26) ], and they shall kill me [as they would do, if they wished to return to Rehoboam's rule. Their first offering would be the head of the usurper, 2 Samuel 20:20, 21; cf. 2 Samuel 4:7], and go again [lit., turn again, same word as above] to Rehoboam king of Judah.
Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
Verse 28. - Whereupon the king took counsel ["With his counsellors, or the heads of the nation who had helped him to the throne" (Keil). Bahr understands, "he reflected about it alone" (et excogitato consilio, Vulgate), alleging that so important a circumstance as the concurrence of the heads of the people in changing the system of worship would not have been passed over in silence. But while the text does not perhaps imply any formal deliberation with the elders, it is reasonable to suppose that Jeroboam, who owed his position to popular election, and who was far too sagacious not to follow the example of Rehoboam (vers. 6, 9), would summon others to advise him as to this critical and momentous step. Wordsworth refers to Isaiah 30:1, and says that "Jeroboam is the image and pattern of Machiavellian politicians." "Next to Ahithophel, I do not find that Israel yielded a craftier head than Jeroboam's" (Hall)], and made two calves [It is generally held that these were in imitation of, or were suggested by, the "golden calf" of Aaron (Exodus 32:2), and the close resemblance of Jeroboam's words (below), in inaugurating this new cultus, to Aaron's have been thought to prove it. But surely it has been overlooked that Jeroboam could hardly be so shortsighted and unwise as deliberately to reintroduce a worship which had provoked the "fierce wrath" (ver. 12) of God, and had nearly resulted in the extermination of the Jewish race. For of course neither Jeroboam nor his people could have forgotten the stern condemnation which Aaron's calf worship had received. The molten image ground to powder, the ashes mixed in the drink of the people, the slaughter of three thousand worshippers, etc., would assuredly have lived in the memories of the nation. A more impolitic step, consequently - one more certain to precipitate his ruin, by driving the whole nation into the arms of Judah - Jeroboam could not have taken, than to attempt any revival or imitation of the forbidden cultus of the desert. And it is as little likely that the worship of the calves was derived from the worship of Apis, as practised at Memphis, or of "Mnevis, the sacred calf of Heliopolis" (Stanley), though with both of these Jeroboam had recently been in contact. It would have been but a sorry recommendation in the eyes of Israel that the first act of the new king should be to introduce the hateful idolatry of Egypt into the land; and every consideration tends to show that the calf worship was not, and was not intended to be, idolatry, such as the worship of Egypt undoubtedly was. It is always carefully distinguished from idol worship by the historians and prophets. And the idea which Jeroboam wished to give his subjects was clearly this that, so far from introducing new gods or new sanctuaries, he was merely accommodating the old worship to the new state of things. He evidently felt that what he and his house had most to fear was, not the armies of Rehoboam but the ritual and religious associations of Jerusalem. His object, if he were wise, must therefore be to provide a substitute, a counterfeit worship. "I will give you," he virtually says, "at Bethel and Dan, old sanctuaries of our race long before Jerusalem usurped their place, those visible emblems of the heavenly powers such as are now found only in the temple. You too shall possess those mysterious forms which symbolize the Invisible, but you shall have them nearer home and easier of access." There can be little doubt, consequently, that the "calves" were imitations of the colossal cherubim of Solomon's temple, in which the ox or calf was probably the forma praecipua (1 Kings 6:23).] of gold [Hardly of solid gold. Possibly cf. wood covered with gold plates, i.e., similar to the cherubim (1 Kings 6:23-28); probably of molten brass (see 1 Kings 14:9, and cf. Psalm 106:19), overlaid with gold; such images, in fact, as are described in Isaiah 40:19], and said unto them, It is too much for you [This translation, pace Keil, cannot be maintained. Nor can it be said that "the exact meaning of the original is doubtful" (Rawlinson), for a study of the passages where this phrase, רַב־לָכֶם occurs (see, e.g., Deuteronomy 1:6; Deuteronomy 2:3; Deuteronomy 3:26; and cf. Genesis 45:28; Exodus 9:28; 2 Samuel 24:16; 1 Kings 19:4) will convince the reader that it must be rendered here, "It is enough" - i.e., "you have gone long enough to a city which only owes its present position to the ambition of the tribe of Judah, and which is a standing testimony to your own inferiority; henceforth, desist." We have an exact parallel in Ezekiel 44:6; where the Authorized Version renders, "Let it suffice you." The LXX. supports this view by rendering ἱκανόυσθω ὑμῖν throughout. Vulgate, nolite ultra ascendere, etc.] to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods [rather "god," for Jeroboam had no idea of introducing polytheism. It is true he made two calves because of his two sanctuaries, but each was designed to represent the same object - the one God of Israel. The word is translated, gods" in Exodus 32:1, 4, 8, 23, 31; but as the reference is in every case to the one calf, it should be translated "god" there also. In Nehemiah's citation of the words (Nehemiah 9:18), the word is unmistakably singular. "This is thy god," etc. The words are not "exactly the same as the people used when setting up the golden calf" (Bahr). Jeroboam says, "Behold," etc.], O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. [It is at first sight somewhat difficult to resist the view, which is generally entertained, that Jeroboam, of set purpose, cited the ipsissima verba of the Israelites in the desert (Exodus 32:4). But a little reflection will show that it is much more difficult to believe that a monarch, circumstanced as Jeroboam was, could at the very outset of his career have acted in the teeth of history, and have committed the gross blunder, not to say wanton outrage, of deliberately connecting his new cult with the calf worship of the desert. He can hardly have dared, that is, to say, "This is no new religion, for this very form of worship our fathers used formerly in the desert, under the guidance of Aaron himself" (Seb. Schmidt, followed by Keil, al.) unless both he and his people alike - which is inconceivable - were ignorant of their nation's history recorded in Exodus 32:19-35. It has been argued by some that this action of Jeroboam and the ready compliance of the ten tribes, prove that the Pentateuch cannot then have been written. But, as Hengstenberg (cited by Wordsworth) rejoins, the same argument would lead to the conclusion that the Bible could not have been written in the dark ages, or, we might add, even at the present day. He can hardly have claimed, that is to say, to be reintroducing the calf worship, which God had so emphatically reprobated, unless he designed an open defiance of the Most High, and wished to shock all the religious instincts and convictions of his people. It is much more natural, consequently, to suppose, considering the very frequent recurrence, though sometimes in slightly different shapes, of the formula "the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt" (Exodus 20:2; Exodus 29:45, 46; Leviticus 19:36; Leviticus 23:43; Leviticus 25:38; Leviticus 26:13, 45; Numbers 15:41; Numbers 16:13; Numbers 20:16; Deuteronomy 5:6, 15; Deuteronomy 6:12; Deuteronomy 8:14; Deuteronomy 9:26; Joshua 24:6, 17; Judges 6:8; 1 Samuel 8:8; 1 Samuel 10:18; 1 Kings 8:21, etc.) that the correspondence is accidental, the more so as Jeroboam does not quote the exact words, and that he has used a phrase which was constantly in their ears, insisting thereby that his calves were emblems of the God of their race, the God whose great glory it was that He had taken their nation out of the midst of another nation, etc. (Deuteronomy 4:34), and delivered them from a thraldom with which, perhaps, the tyranny of Rehoboam is indirectly compared. Or it there was any reference to the golden calf, it must have been depreciatory, as if to say," That was rank idolatry, and as such it was punished. That calf was an image of Apis. My calves are cherubic symbols, symbols such as He has Himself appointed, of the Great Deliverer of our race. Behold thy God, which really brought thee up," etc.]
And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan.
Verse 29. - And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Daniel [Two considerations seem to have influenced Jeroboam in his choice of these sites. First, both these places were in some sort sanctuaries already. Bethel was already a makom, or holy place, in the days of Abraham; was consecrated by the visions and altar of Jacob (Genesis 28:11-19; Genesis 31:13; Genesis 35:1, 7, 15), and by the ark having been there (Judges 20:26-28, Hebrews; cf. Jos., Ant., 5:02.10). And though Dan (Joshua 19:47; Judges 18:29; Judges 20:1) can hardly have had as sacred a character as the "house of God and the gate of heaven" (Genesis 28:17) had, still it had its shrine and its schismatic priesthood. A grandson of Moses (Judges 18:13, true reading) had ministered there, and his sons were the priests of Dan still. Secondly, these localities would suit the convenience of his subjects, being respectively at the southern and northern extremities of the kingdom. And this, no doubt, was one reason why Dan was chosen in preference to other places, such as Shiloh, which, though more sacred, were less conveniently situated. A sanctuary at Dan would save the northern tribes many tedious journeys. It should be remarked that Bethel properly belonged to Benjamin (Joshua 18:13, 22), though it was also on the border of Ephraim; and it has been suggested that it was Jeroboam's selection of this place as a seat of the calf worship decided the tribe of Benjamin to follow the lead of Judah. But the narrative seems to imply that their choice had been made at an earlier period (ver. 21), and the city would seem to have been long in the possession of the house of Joseph (Judges 1:22). It is now known as Beitin, and is one of the most naked and dreary spots in Palestine. "The place seems, as it were, turned to stone; and we can well imagine that the patriarch found nothing softer than a stone for his pillow." Conder, p. 252, who suggests that from the time of Abraham Bethel was a מָקום, a sacred place merely (Genesis 28:11), and distinct from the adjoining city of Luz (ver. 19).]
And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan.
Verse 30. - And this thing became a sin [It was in itself sinful, for it both set at nought the express prohibition of the Decalogue (Exodus 20:4), and also disregarded the one sanctuary of God's choice (Deuteronomy 12:5). And it led to other sins, e.g., the intrusion of a schismatic and irregular priesthood, and the performance of unauthorized rites, and to "an ever-deepening corruption of the national faith" (Ewald). Cf. Hosea 8:5; Hosea 13:2. But the meaning is, it became an occasion of sin to the people ("Quod fuit postea causa gravissimi peccati" - Vatab.) Jeroboam "made Israel to sin" (1 Kings 14:16; 1 Kings 15:26, etc.) It is difficult to conceive, in the face of these and similar words, how any one can seriously maintain that "the church of Israel was the national church" (Stanley, 2:264) ]: for the people went to worship before the one even unto Dan. [The people frequented both sanctuaries; why, then, is that at Dan especially mentioned? Some (Rawlinson, e.g.) have suggested that the text is here corrupt, and that we should read, "before the one to Bethel, and before the other to Dan." According to others, "the one" (הָאֶחַד) refers to the double הָאֶחַד ("the one," "the other"); cf. ver. 29. They would interpret, that is, "the people went to both, even to the distant Dan" (Bahr, Thenius). Keil would force the text and understand, "the people, even unto Dan," i.e., the people throughout the whole kingdom. Similarly, Wordsworth. Ewald understands "before the one" to mean כְּזֶחַד i.e., "as one," sc. man. On the whole it is better to take the words as they stand, literally. It is quite conceivable that, at first, the people resorted almost exclusively to the Danite sanctuary. Having been for long years a seat of worship, and having probably its "house of high places," or temple (see below), already built, it would naturally be in a position to receive worshippers some time before Bethel was prepared for that purpose. Jeroboam's offering in person at Bethel (ver. 32) which marks the inauguration of his new ritual there, may have been partly designed to attract worshippers to a shrine, which, as being nearer Jerusalem, or for some other reason, was neglected. But the verse is patient of another interpretation. It may intend to convey that the rebellious tribes, in their defiant disregard of the old order of things, the order now represented by a hostile kingdom, went en masse to the opposite point of the compass, even to the unhallowed and hitherto despised sanctuary of the Danites. The LXX. (Vat.) addition here is noticeable, "And they forsook the house of the Lord."]
And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi.
Verse 31. - And he made an house of high places [See on 1 Kings 3:2, and cf. 2 Kings 17:29. It is often assumed (Keil, Rawlinson, al. after Josephus) that Jeroboam built two temples for his cherubim, and the statement of the text, that he built one, is explained on the ground that the historian contrasts the "house of high places" with the "house of the Lord." Ewald, too, after 2 Kings 17:29, 32, understands the words as plural. But is it not more probable that a chapel or sanctuary already existed at Dan, where an irregular priesthood had ministered for more than four hundred years? This verse would then refer exclusively to Jeroboam's procedure at Bethel (see next verse). There he built a temple and ordained a number of priests, but Dan had both already. We know that the Danite priests carried on the calf worship to the time of the captivity (Judges 18:30). This "house of high places" has grown in Ewald's pages into "a splendid temple in Canaanite style"], and made priests of the lowest of the people [Heb. מִקְצות "from the ends," i.e., from all classes, ex universe populo (Gesen.), and not, as the writer explains presently, from the tribe of Levi alone. Genesis 19:4, Judges 18:20, Ezekiel 33:2, prove this to be the correct interpretation of the word. Rawlinson, who remarks that "Jeroboam could have no motive for specially selecting persons of low condition," does not thereby dispose of the A.V. rendering, for the historian might mean that some of Jeroboam's priests were of the lowest stamp, because he could find no others, or because he was so little scrupulous as to take them. "Leaden priests are well fitted to golden deities" (Hall)], which were not of the sons of Levi. [Jeroboam would doubtless have been only too glad to have retained the services of the Levitical priests, but they went over in a body to Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:13). The statement of ver. 14, that, "Jeroboam and his sons" had "cast them out," suggests that they had refused to take part in his new cult and that thereupon he banished them, and, no doubt, confiscated their possessions. The idea of Stanley, that "following the precedent of the deposition of Abiathar by Solomon, he removed from their places the whole of the sacerdotal order," is a wild conjecture for which Scripture affords not the slightest warrant.]
And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made.
Verse 32. - And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah [i.e., the Feast of Tabernacles, which was held on the 15th of the seventh month (cf. 1 Kings 8:2). This was the great feast of the year, and, as the feast of harvest or ingathering, the most joyous. See on 1 Kings 8:1. Had Jeroboam provided no counter attraction to this great festive gathering in Judah he might have found it a formidable temptation to his subjects. The reason usually given for the alteration of the time - in defiance of the law, which expressly fixed it in the seventh month (Leviticus 23:34, 39, 41) - is that the eighth would be more generally convenient in the north, where the harvest or vintage was a month later (Then., Keil), as affording more time for the ingathering. In favour of this view is the consideration that the Jews not unfrequently had to intercalate a month - a second Adar - into their year, because of the season being a late one. Some of the older commentators, e.g., Vatab., think this time was chosen as the anniversary of his secession, but this is pure conjecture, and such an association would be contrary to the genius of the Hebrew people. Keil maintains that Jeroboam's design was to "make the separation, in a religious point of view, as complete as possible." But we can hardly be expected to believe that he altered the month, for the sake of creating a distinction, but "retained the day of the month, the fifteenth, for the sake of the weak who took offence at his innovations" (Keil). The day was retained, as Bahr points out, because, the months being lunar, the fifteenth was the day of the full moon], and he offered [Heb. as marg., "and he went up," i.e., ascended the altar; LXX. ἀνέβη. (Keil contends that וַיַּעַל means "and he sacrificed," but this translation is without precedent. Ver. 33, "and he went up to burn incense is decisive as to the meaning.) the altar was always raised. It was probably approached by s slope, as Exodus 20:26 forbade steps, though it is by no means certain that they were not used even in Solomon's temple, and Jeroboam probably would have no scruples on such a minute point of ritual. It has been thought (Kitto, 4:147) that he was moved to officiate in person by the precedent of the Egyptian kings, who exercised priestly functions; but it is much more probable that he was guided by the example of Solomon at the dedication of the temple] upon [i.e., he stood upon the ledge or platform (called in the A.V. "compass," Exodus 27:5) in the middle of the altar] the altar. So did he in Bethel [i.e., the feast was held at one centre only, and at Bethel alone the king offered in person. But I venture to suggest that instead of כֵּן, "so did he," etc., we should read כִּי. The LXX. seem to have had this word before them - ἐπὶ τὸ θυσιαστήριον ο{ εποίησεν ἐν βαιθὴλ. And not only does this slight change bring the Hebrew into harmony with the LXX., but it also simplifies the construction. "He went up upon the altar which he made to sacrifice unto the calves which he made." The very tautology is instructive, as suggesting that altar, calves, and priests were all of Jeroboam's making, not of God's ordaining. The use of כּי as a relative ( = אֲשֶׁר) is strictly grammatical], sacrificing [marg., to sacrifice] unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel [Dan being already provided with its priesthood] the priests of the high places [i.e., of "the house of high places" (ver. 31). Or it may be a contemptuous designation of Jeroboam's irregular priests] which he had made.
So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.
Verse 33. - So he offered [Heb. went up, as before. This verse is really the introduction to the history of the next chapter] upon the altar which he had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised [Josephus (Ant. 7:08. 5) seems unaware that this new feast was kept at a different date from the true Feast of Tabernacles. But these words are decisive] of his own heart [The Cethib has מִלְּבֹּד by which Maurer and Keil understand מִלְּבַד ("seoreum." But qu.) But the Keri מִלּבּו is every way to be preferred, So LXX., ἀπὸ καρδίας αὑτοῦ. Similarly, Nehemiah 6:8]; and ordered [rather, kept, celebrated] a feast unto [Heb. for] the children of Israel: and he offered [went up] upon the altar, and burnt incense [Heb. to burn, etc. The context seems to imply that it was not incense, or not incense only, but the sacrifice, or sacrificial parts of the victim, that the king burned. See on 1 Kings 13:3 (דֶּשֶׁן). And this meaning is justified by Leviticus 1:9, 17; 1 Samuel 2:16; Amos 4:5, where the same word is used. It cannot be denied, however, that the word is generally used of incense, and it is very probable that both this and sacrifices were offered by Jeroboam on the same altar (cf. 1 Kings 11:8). We may perhaps see in Jeroboam's ministering in person, not only the design to invest the new ordinance with exceptional interest and splendour, but also the idea of encouraging his new priests to enter on their unauthorized functions with. out fear. The history, or even the traditions, of Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10.) and of Korah and his company (Numbers 16:40), and the threatenings of the law (Numbers 18:7, 22, cf. 2 Chronicles 26:20), may well have made them hesitate. To allay their fears the king undertakes to offer the first of the sacrifices. And that their fears of a Divine interposition were not groundless the sequel shows.]

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