By the time Rehoboam became king, the northern tribes had grown weary of Solomon’s oppressive forced labor policy (see 1 Kings 5:13–18; 12:4). They asked Rehoboam to lighten their burden; but rather than following the wise counsel of the elders who had served under Solomon, Rehoboam listened to his young peers and pledged to intensify the burden of labor (see 1 Kings 12:6–14). This prompted the ten northern tribes to secede (see 1 Kings 12:16). Their new leader was Jeroboam, himself a former overseer of forced labor for the “tribes of Joseph,” the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh (see 1 Kings 11:28).
In a final effort to resolve the crisis, Rehoboam dispatched Adoniram, the official in charge of forced labor, to broker a settlement. Adoniram was experienced in these matters, having served as national overseer of forced labor under both David (see 2 Samuel 20:24) and Solomon (see 1 Kings 5:14). Tragically, Adoniram was stoned to death, and Rehoboam himself had to flee in his chariot to avoid a similar fate (see 1 Kings 12:18).
The seal of a later overseer of forced labor has appeared on the antiquities market. One side was for personal use, while the other designated his official title. Side A reads “(Belonging) to Pelayahu (son of) Mattityahu,” while Side B specifies “(Belonging) to Pelayahu over(seer of) the forced labor.”
Pelayahu (“Yahweh [the LORD] is wondrous”) is not mentioned in the Bible. His function as an administrator “over the forced labor,” however, uses exactly the same terminology found in the Old Testament with regard to Adoniram and Jeroboam. The seal therefore serves as external verification for the administrative policies of the early monarchy as described in the Bible.
Adapted from the Archaeological Study Bible