1 Kings 12
New English Translation
Rehoboam Loses His Kingdom
12 Rehoboam traveled to Shechem, for all Israel had gathered in[a] Shechem to make Rehoboam[b] king. 2 [c] When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard the news, he was still in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon and had been living ever since.[d] 3 They sent for him,[e] and Jeroboam and the whole Israelite assembly came and spoke to Rehoboam, saying, 4 “Your father made us work too hard.[f] Now if you lighten the demands he made and don’t make us work as hard, we will serve you.”[g] 5 He said to them, “Go away for three days, then return to me.” So the people went away.
6 King Rehoboam consulted with the older advisers who had served[h] his father Solomon when he had been alive. He asked them,[i] “How do you advise me to answer these people?” 7 They said to him, “Today if you will be a servant to these people and grant their request,[j] speaking kind words to them,[k] they will be your servants from this time forward.”[l] 8 But Rehoboam rejected their advice and consulted the young advisers who served him, with whom he had grown up.[m] 9 He asked them, “How do you advise me[n] to respond to these people who said to me, ‘Lessen the demands your father placed on us’?”[o] 10 The young advisers with whom Rehoboam[p] had grown up said to him, “Say this to these people who have said to you, ‘Your father made us work hard, but now lighten our burden.’[q] Say this to them: ‘I am a lot harsher than my father![r] 11 My father imposed heavy demands on you; I will make them even heavier.[s] My father punished you with ordinary whips; I will punish you with whips that really sting your flesh.’”[t]
12 Jeroboam and all the people reported[u] to Rehoboam on the third day, just as the king had ordered when he said, “Return to me on the third day.” 13 The king responded to the people harshly. He rejected the advice of the older men 14 and followed[v] the advice of the younger ones. He said, “My father imposed heavy demands on you; I will make them even heavier.[w] My father punished you with ordinary whips; I will punish you with whips that really sting your flesh.”[x] 15 The king refused to listen to the people, because the Lord was instigating this turn of events[y] so that he might bring to pass the prophetic announcement he had made[z] through Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam son of Nebat.
16 When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, the people answered the king, “We have no portion in David, no share in the son of Jesse![aa] Return to your homes, O Israel![ab] Now, look after your own dynasty, O David!”[ac] So Israel returned to their homes.[ad] 17 (Rehoboam continued to rule over the Israelites who lived in the cities of Judah.) 18 King Rehoboam sent Adoniram,[ae] the supervisor of the work crews,[af] out after them, but all Israel stoned him to death. King Rehoboam managed to jump into his chariot and escape to Jerusalem. 19 So Israel has been in rebellion against the Davidic dynasty to this very day. 20 When all Israel heard that Jeroboam had returned, they summoned him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel. No one except the tribe of Judah remained loyal to the Davidic dynasty.[ag]
21 When Rehoboam arrived in Jerusalem, he summoned 180,000 skilled warriors from all Judah and the tribe of Benjamin[ah] to attack Israel and restore the kingdom to Rehoboam son of Solomon. 22 But God told Shemaiah the prophet,[ai] 23 “Say this to King Rehoboam son of Solomon of Judah, and to all Judah and Benjamin, as well as the rest of the people, 24 ‘This is what the Lord has said: “Do not attack and make war with your brothers, the Israelites. Each of you go home. Indeed this thing has happened because of me.”’” So they obeyed the Lord’s message. They went home in keeping with the Lord’s message.
Jeroboam Makes Golden Calves
25 [aj] Jeroboam built up Shechem in the Ephraimite hill country and lived there. From there he went out and built up Penuel. 26 Jeroboam then thought to himself:[ak] “Now the Davidic dynasty could regain the kingdom.[al] 27 If these people go up to offer sacrifices in the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem, their loyalty could shift to their former master,[am] King Rehoboam of Judah. They might kill me and return to King Rehoboam of Judah.” 28 After the king had consulted with his advisers,[an] he made two golden calves. Then he said to the people,[ao] “It is too much trouble for you to go up to Jerusalem. Look, Israel, here are your gods who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” 29 He put one in Bethel and the other in Dan. 30 This caused Israel to sin;[ap] the people went to Bethel and Dan to worship the calves.[aq]
31 He built temples[ar] on the high places and appointed as priests common people who were not Levites. 32 Jeroboam inaugurated a festival on the fifteenth day of the eighth month,[as] like the festival celebrated in Judah.[at] On the altar in Bethel he offered sacrifices to the calves he had made.[au] In Bethel he also appointed priests for the high places he had made.
A Prophet from Judah Visits Bethel
33 On the fifteenth day of the eighth month (a date he had arbitrarily chosen)[av] Jeroboam[aw] offered sacrifices on the altar he had made in Bethel. He inaugurated a festival for the Israelites and went up to the altar to offer sacrifices.
- 1 Kings 12:1 tn Heb “come [to].”
- 1 Kings 12:1 tn Heb “him”; the referent (Rehoboam) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- 1 Kings 12:2 tc Verse 2 is not included in the Old Greek translation. See the note on 11:43.
- 1 Kings 12:2 tn Heb “and Jeroboam lived in Egypt.” The parallel text in 2 Chr 10:2 reads, “and Jeroboam returned from Egypt.” In a purely consonantal text the forms “and he lived” and “and he returned” are identical (וישׁב).
- 1 Kings 12:3 tn Heb “They sent and called for him.”
- 1 Kings 12:4 tn Heb “made our yoke burdensome.”
- 1 Kings 12:4 tn Heb “but you, now, lighten the burdensome work of your father and the heavy yoke which he placed on us, and we will serve you.” In the Hebrew text the prefixed verbal form with vav (וְנַעַבְדֶךָ, [venaʿavdekha] “and we will serve you”) following the imperative (הָקֵל [haqel], “lighten”) indicates purpose (or result). The conditional sentence used in the translation above is an attempt to bring out the logical relationship between these forms.
- 1 Kings 12:6 tn Heb “stood before.”
- 1 Kings 12:6 tn Heb “saying.”
- 1 Kings 12:7 tn Heb “and serve them and answer them,” understood as “serve them in how you answer them,” hence “grant their request.”
- 1 Kings 12:7 tn Heb “and speak to them good words.”
- 1 Kings 12:7 tn Heb “all the days.” The Hebrew phrase contrasts what he is asked to do “today” (literally “the day”) with the benefit for “all the days.”
- 1 Kings 12:8 tn Heb “He rejected the advice of the elders which they advised and he consulted the young men with whom he had grown up, who stood before him.” The referent (Rehoboam) of the initial pronoun (“he”) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- 1 Kings 12:9 tn In the Hebrew text the verb “we will respond” is plural, although it can be understood as an editorial “we.” The ancient versions have the singular here.
- 1 Kings 12:9 tn Heb “Lighten the yoke which your father placed on us.”
- 1 Kings 12:10 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Rehoboam) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- 1 Kings 12:10 tn Heb “Your father made our yoke heavy, but make it lighter upon us.”
- 1 Kings 12:10 tn Heb “My little one is thicker than my father’s hips.” The referent of “my little one” is not clear. The traditional view is that it refers to the little finger. As the following statement makes clear, Rehoboam’s point is that he is more harsh and demanding than his father.
- 1 Kings 12:11 tn Heb “and now my father placed upon you a heavy yoke, but I will add to your yoke.”
- 1 Kings 12:11 tn Heb “My father punished you with whips, but I will punish you with scorpions.” “Scorpions” might allude to some type of torture using poisonous insects, but more likely it refers to a type of whip that inflicts an especially biting, painful wound. Cf. CEV “whips with pieces of sharp metal.”
- 1 Kings 12:12 tn Heb “came.”
- 1 Kings 12:14 tn Heb “and spoke to them according to.”
- 1 Kings 12:14 tn Heb “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke.”
- 1 Kings 12:14 tn Heb “My father punished you with whips, but I will punish you with scorpions.” See the note on the same phrase in v. 11.
- 1 Kings 12:15 tn Heb “because this turn of events was from the Lord.”
- 1 Kings 12:15 tn Heb “so that he might bring to pass his word which the Lord spoke.”
- 1 Kings 12:16 sn We have no portion in David; no share in the son of Jesse. Their point seems to be that they have no familial relationship with David that brings them any benefits or places upon them any obligations. They are being treated like outsiders.
- 1 Kings 12:16 tn Heb “to your tents, Israel.” The word “return” is supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.
- 1 Kings 12:16 tn Heb “Now see your house, David.”
- 1 Kings 12:16 tn Heb “went to their tents.”
- 1 Kings 12:18 tc The MT has “Adoram” here, but the Old Greek translation and Syriac Peshitta have “Adoniram.” Cf. 1 Kgs 4:6.
- 1 Kings 12:18 sn The work crews. See the note on this expression in 4:6.
- 1 Kings 12:20 tn Heb “there was no one [following] after the house of David except the tribe of Judah, it alone.”
- 1 Kings 12:21 tn Heb “he summoned all the house of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin, 180,000 chosen men, accomplished in war.”
- 1 Kings 12:22 tn Heb “and the word of God came to Shemaiah the man of God, saying.”
- 1 Kings 12:25 tc The Old Greek translation has here a lengthy section consisting of twenty-three verses that are not found in the MT.
- 1 Kings 12:26 tn Heb “said in his heart.”
- 1 Kings 12:26 tn Heb “Now the kingdom could return to the house of David.” The imperfect verbal form translated “could return” is understood as having a potential force here. Perhaps this is not strong enough; another option is “will return.”
- 1 Kings 12:27 tn Heb “the heart of these people could return to their master.”
- 1 Kings 12:28 tn The words “with his advisers” are supplied in the translation for clarification.
- 1 Kings 12:28 tn Heb “to them.”
- 1 Kings 12:30 tn Heb “and this thing became a sin.”
- 1 Kings 12:30 tc The MT reads “and the people went before the one to Dan.” It is likely that some words have been accidentally omitted and that the text originally said, “and the people went before the one at Bethel and before the one at Dan.”
- 1 Kings 12:31 tn The Hebrew text has the singular, but the plural is preferable here (see 1 Kgs 13:32). The Old Greek translation and the Vulgate have the plural.
- 1 Kings 12:32 sn The eighth month would correspond to October-November in modern reckoning.
- 1 Kings 12:32 sn The festival celebrated in Judah probably refers to the Feast of Tabernacles (i.e., Booths or Temporary Shelters), held in the seventh month (September-October). See also 1 Kgs 8:2.
- 1 Kings 12:32 tn Heb “and he offered up [sacrifices] on the altar; he did this in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves which he had made.”
- 1 Kings 12:33 tn Heb “which he had chosen by himself.”
- 1 Kings 12:33 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Jeroboam) has been specified in the translation for clarity.