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Civil War

12 Jeroboam son of Nebat was still in Egypt where he had run away from Solomon. When he heard about Solomon’s death, he returned to his city, Zeredah, in the hills of Ephraim.[a]

Rehoboam and all the Israelites went to Shechem to make him the king. The people said to Rehoboam, “Your father forced us to work very hard. Now, make it easier for us. Stop the heavy work that your father forced us to do and we will serve you.”

Rehoboam answered, “Come back to me in three days, and I will answer you.” So the people left.

There were some older men who had helped Solomon make decisions when he was alive. So King Rehoboam asked these men what he should do. He said, “How do you think I should answer the people?”

They answered, “If you are like a servant to them today, they will sincerely serve you. If you speak kindly to them, they will always work for you.”

But Rehoboam did not listen to the advice from the older men. He asked the young men who were his friends. Rehoboam asked them, “The people said, ‘Give us easier work than your father gave us.’ How do you think I should answer them? What should I tell them?”

10 Then the young men who grew up with him answered, “Those people came to you and said, ‘Your father forced us to work very hard. Now make our work easier.’ So you should tell them, ‘My little finger is stronger than my father’s whole body. 11 My father forced you to work hard, but I will make you work much harder! My father punished you with whips, but I will punish you with whips that have sharp metal tips.’”

12 Three days later, Jeroboam and all the people came back as Rehoboam had said. 13 King Rehoboam did not listen to the advice from the older men, and he was rude to the people. 14 He did what his friends told him to do and said, “My father forced you to work hard, but I will make you work much harder! My father punished you with whips, but I will punish you with whips that have sharp metal tips.” 15 So the king did not do what the people wanted. The Lord caused this to happen. He did this in order to keep the promise he made to Jeroboam son of Nebat when he sent the prophet Ahijah from Shiloh to speak to him.

16 The Israelites saw that the new king refused to listen to them, so they said to him,

“We are not part of David’s family are we?
    We don’t get any of Jesse’s land, do we?
So, people of Israel, let’s go home
    and let David’s son rule his own people!”

So the Israelites went home. 17 But Rehoboam still ruled over the Israelites who lived in the cities of Judah.

18 A man named Adoniram was one of the men who directed the workers. King Rehoboam sent Adoniram to talk to the people, but the Israelites threw stones at him until he died. King Rehoboam ran to his chariot and escaped to Jerusalem. 19 So Israel rebelled against the family of David, and this is how things are even today.

20 When all the Israelites heard that Jeroboam had come back, they called him to a meeting and made him king over all Israel. The tribe of Judah was the only tribe that continued to follow the family of David.

21 Rehoboam went back to Jerusalem and gathered together an army of 180,000 men from the families of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin. Rehoboam wanted to go fight against the Israelites and take back his kingdom. 22 But God spoke to a prophet named Shemaiah. He said, 23 “Talk to Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to men of Judah and Benjamin. 24 Say to them, ‘The Lord says that you must not go to war against your brothers. Everyone, go home! I made all this happen.’” So all the men in Rehoboam’s army obeyed the Lord. They went home, just as the Lord had commanded.

25 Jeroboam rebuilt the city of Shechem, in the hill country of Ephraim, and lived there. Later he went to the city of Penuel[b] and rebuilt it.

26-27 Jeroboam said to himself, “If the people keep going to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices at the Lord’s Temple, someday they will want to be ruled by their old masters. They will want to be ruled by King Rehoboam of Judah. And then they will kill me.” 28 So the king asked his advisors what to do. They gave him their advice, and King Jeroboam made two golden calves. He said to the people, “You don’t have to go to Jerusalem to worship anymore. Israel, these are the gods that brought you out of Egypt.[c] 29 King Jeroboam put one golden calf in Bethel and the other one in the city of Dan.[d] 30 What a terrible sin this was, because the Israelites started going to the cities of Dan and Bethel[e] to worship the calves.

31 Jeroboam also built temples at the high places and chose priests from among the different tribes of Israel. (He did not choose priests only from the tribe of Levi.) 32 Then King Jeroboam started a new festival that was like the festival[f] in Judah, but it was on the 15th day of the eighth month. At this time the king offered sacrifices on the altar at Bethel. He and the priests he chose offered the sacrifices to the calves that he had set up at the high places he had made. 33 So King Jeroboam chose his own time for a festival for the Israelites, the 15th day of the eighth month. And during that time he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the altar he had built at Bethel.

God Speaks Against Bethel

13 The Lord commanded a man of God from Judah to go to the city of Bethel. King Jeroboam was standing at the altar offering incense when the man of God arrived. The Lord had commanded the man of God to speak against the altar. He said,

“Altar, the Lord says to you: ‘David’s family will have a son. His name will be Josiah. The priests of the high places are now burning incense on you, but Josiah will offer the priests on you and burn human bones on you, so you can never be used again!’”

The man of God gave proof to the people that this would happen. He said, “This is the proof that the Lord told me about. He said, ‘This altar will break apart, and the ashes on it will fall onto the ground.’”

When King Jeroboam heard the message from the man of God about the altar in Bethel, he took his hand off the altar and pointed at the man. He said, “Arrest that man!” But when the king said this, his arm became paralyzed. He could not move it. Then the altar broke into pieces, and all its ashes fell onto the ground. This proved that what the man of God had said came from the Lord. Then King Jeroboam said to the man of God, “Please pray to the Lord your God for me. Ask him to heal my arm.”

So the man of God prayed to the Lord, and the king’s arm was healed, as it was before. Then the king said to the man of God, “Please come home with me. Come and eat with me. I will give you a gift.”

But the man of God said to the king, “I will not go home with you, even if you give me half of your kingdom! I will not eat or drink anything in this place. The Lord commanded me not to eat or drink anything here. He also commanded me not to go back the same way I came.” 10 So he took a different road home. He did not go back the same way he came to Bethel.

11 There was an old prophet living in Bethel. His sons came and told him what the man of God did in Bethel and what he said to King Jeroboam. 12 The old prophet said, “Which way did he go when he left?” So the sons showed their father which road the man of God from Judah had taken. 13 The old prophet told his sons to saddle his donkey. They put the saddle on the donkey, and the prophet left.

14 The old prophet went after the man of God. He found him sitting under an oak tree and asked him, “Are you the man of God who just came from Judah?”

The man of God answered, “Yes, I am.”

15 So the old prophet said, “Please come home and eat with me.”

16 But the man of God said, “I cannot go home with you. I cannot eat or drink anything in this place. 17 The Lord said to me, ‘You must not eat or drink anything in that place, and you must go back on a different road.’”

18 The old prophet lied to him and said, “But I am a prophet like you. And an angel from the Lord came to me and told me to bring you home and give you something to eat and drink.”

19 So the man of God went to the old prophet’s house and ate and drank with him. 20 While they were sitting at the table, the Lord spoke to the old prophet, 21 and the old prophet spoke to the man of God from Judah. He said, “The Lord said that you did not obey him! You did not do what he commanded. 22 He told you not to eat or drink anything in this place, but you came back here and ate and drank. So your body will not be buried in your family grave.”

23 The man of God finished eating and drinking. Then the old prophet saddled the man’s donkey for him and the man left. 24 On the way home, a lion attacked and killed the man of God. His body was lying on the road while the lion stood next to it. The donkey stood nearby. 25 Some people came walking by and saw the body and the lion standing by it. They went into the city where the old prophet lived and told people what they had seen on the road.

26 The old prophet heard the story and said, “This is the man of God who did not obey the Lord’s command, so the Lord sent a lion to attack him. The lion has killed him, just as the Lord said would happen.” 27 Then the prophet told his sons to saddle his donkey, and they did so. 28 The old prophet went to find the body lying on the road. The donkey and the lion were still standing near it. The lion had not eaten the body or hurt the donkey.

29 The old prophet put the body on his donkey and carried it back to the city to cry for him and bury him. 30 The old prophet buried the man in his own family grave. The old prophet cried for him and said, “Oh, my brother, I am sorry for you.” 31 So the old prophet buried the body. Then he said to his sons, “When I die, bury me in this same grave. Put my bones next to his. 32 The Lord used him to speak against the altar at Bethel and against the high places in the other towns in Samaria. And what he said will certainly happen.”

33 King Jeroboam did not change. He continued doing evil. He continued to choose people from different tribes to serve as priests[g] at the high places. Whoever wanted to be a priest was allowed to be one. 34 This is the sin that caused the ruin and destruction of his kingdom.

Jeroboam’s Son Dies

14 At that time Jeroboam’s son Abijah became very sick. Jeroboam said to his wife, “Go to Shiloh and see the prophet Ahijah. He is the one who said that I would become king of Israel. Dress yourself so that people will not know that you are my wife. Give the prophet ten loaves of bread, some cakes, and a jar of honey. Then ask him what will happen to our son, and he will tell you.”

So the king’s wife did what he said. She went to the home of Ahijah the prophet in Shiloh. Ahijah was very old and had become blind. But the Lord said to him, “Jeroboam’s wife is coming to ask you about her son because he is sick. I will tell you what to say to her.”

When she came to Ahijah’s house, she pretended to be someone else. But when Ahijah heard her coming to the door, he said, “Come in! I know who you are. You are Jeroboam’s wife. Why are you pretending to be someone else? I have some bad news for you. Go back and tell Jeroboam that this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Jeroboam, I chose you from among all the Israelites. I made you the ruler of my people. David’s family was ruling the kingdom of Israel, but I took the kingdom away from them and gave it to you. But you are not like my servant David. He always obeyed my commands and followed me with his whole heart. He did only what I accepted. But you have sinned worse than anyone who ruled before you. You stopped following me and made other gods for yourself. You made those statues to make me angry. 10 So Jeroboam, I will bring troubles to your family. I will kill all the men in your family. I will destroy your family completely, like fire burning up dung. 11 Anyone from your family who dies in the city will be eaten by dogs. And anyone from your family who dies in the fields will be eaten by birds. The Lord has spoken.’”

12 Then Ahijah said, “Now, go home. Your son will die as soon as you enter the city. 13 All Israel will cry for him. They will bury him, but he is the only one from Jeroboam’s family who will be buried. This is because he is the only one in Jeroboam’s family who pleased the Lord, the God of Israel. 14 Soon, the Lord will put a new king over Israel who will destroy Jeroboam’s family. 15 Then the Lord will punish Israel. The Israelites will be so full of fear that they will shake like tall grass in the water. He will pull Israel up from this good land that he gave their ancestors. He will scatter them to the other side of the Euphrates River. The Lord will do this because the people made him angry when they built sacred poles.[h] 16 He will let the Israelites be defeated because Jeroboam sinned, and then he made the Israelites sin.”

17 Jeroboam’s wife went back to Tirzah. As soon as she stepped into the house, the boy died. 18 They buried him and all the people of Israel cried for him. This happened just as the Lord said it would through his servant, the prophet Ahijah.

19 The rest of what King Jeroboam did is written in the book, The History of the Kings of Israel. It includes the wars he fought and the way he ruled. 20 Jeroboam ruled as king for 22 years. Then he died and was buried with his ancestors.[i] His son Nadab became the new king after him.

Rehoboam, King of Judah

21 Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, was 41 years old when he became king of Judah. Rehoboam ruled 17 years in Jerusalem, the city the Lord chose for his own. He chose this city from all the other tribes of Israel. Rehoboam’s mother was Naamah. She was an Ammonite.

22 The people of Judah did things that the Lord considered evil. They made him angry with all their sins—more than any of their ancestors had done. 23 They built high places, memorial stones, and sacred poles.[j] They built them on every high hill and under every green tree. 24 There were also men who served other gods by selling their bodies for sex.[k] So the people of Judah were worse than the people who had lived in the land before them. And the Lord took the land away from those people to give it to the Israelites.

25 In the fifth year that Rehoboam was king, King Shishak of Egypt came to attack Jerusalem. 26 He took the treasures from the Lord’s Temple and from the king’s palace. He even took the gold shields that David had taken from the officers of King Hadadezer of Aram and put on the walls of Jerusalem.[l] 27 King Rehoboam made more shields to put in their places, but they were made from bronze. He gave them to the guards on duty at the palace gates. 28 Every time the king went to the Lord’s Temple, the guards took out the shields and went with him. After they were finished, they put the shields back on the wall in the guardroom.

29 The rest of what King Rehoboam did is written in the book, The History of the Kings of Judah. 30 Rehoboam and Jeroboam were always fighting against each other.

31 Rehoboam died[m] and was buried with his ancestors in the City of David. (His mother was Naamah. She was an Ammonite.) Rehoboam’s son Abijah became the next king after him.


  1. 1 Kings 12:1 to his city … Ephraim This is from the ancient Greek version.
  2. 1 Kings 12:25 Penuel Or “Peniel.”
  3. 1 Kings 12:28 Israel … out of Egypt This is exactly the same thing that Aaron said at the time he made the golden calf in the desert. See Ex. 32:4.
  4. 1 Kings 12:29 Bethel, Dan Bethel was a city in the southern part of Israel, near Judah. Dan was in the northern part of Israel.
  5. 1 Kings 12:30 and Bethel This is from the ancient Greek version.
  6. 1 Kings 12:32 the festival Probably the Festival of Shelters. See “Festival of Shelters” in the Word List.
  7. 1 Kings 13:33 people … priests The Law taught that only people from the tribe of Levi could become priests.
  8. 1 Kings 14:15 sacred poles People used these things to worship false gods.
  9. 1 Kings 14:20 died … ancestors Literally, “slept with his ancestors.”
  10. 1 Kings 14:23 high places, memorial stones, and sacred poles People used these things to worship false gods.
  11. 1 Kings 14:24 men … for sex Sexual sins like this were a part of the way people worshiped the Canaanite gods.
  12. 1 Kings 14:26 He even took … Jerusalem This is from the ancient Greek version. The standard Hebrew text has “He even took the gold shields that Solomon had made.”
  13. 1 Kings 14:31 died Literally, “slept with his ancestors.”

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