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11 Having returned to Jerusalem, King Rehoboam assembled 180,000 warriors from the territories of Judah and Benjamin in the South, and he charged them to fight against Israel and to reunite both kingdoms under one king, Rehoboam. But the Eternal spoke to Shemaiah, the True God’s servant and prophet.

Eternal One: Tell Rehoboam, Solomon’s son and the new king of Judah, and all the Israelites living in Judah and Benjamin, what I am telling you: “I have decided to allow Israel to divide into two kingdoms. You will not fight against your Northern relatives and their king, Jeroboam. Return to your homes.”

The Southerners did as they were told, and Rehoboam began to fortify Judah from his capital in Jerusalem. He built Bethlehem, Etam, Tekoa, Beth-zur, Soco, Adullam, Gath, Mareshah, Ziph, Adoraim, Lachish, Azekah, 10 Zorah, Aijalon, and Hebron, all of which are walled cities in the territories of Judah and Benjamin. 11 He reinforced the fortresses, staffed the defenses with leaders, and stocked the storage houses with food, oil, and wine. 12 In all the cities, he provided shields and spears for the citizens to protect them in case of attack. With these provisions, Rehoboam protected the Southern Kingdom in the territories of Judah and Benjamin.

13-15 Meanwhile, Jeroboam and the ruling family in the Northern Kingdom prohibited the priests and Levites from performing their duties for the Eternal. Jeroboam appointed his own priests to serve the religious centers of the Northern Kingdom, which honored false gods in the forms of goats and calves. So the priests and Levites left their homes among the Northern tribes, moved to the Southern Kingdom and Jerusalem, and supported Rehoboam as their king. 16 Likewise, those Israelites living in the Northern Kingdom who were dedicated to the Eternal One, the only True God of Israel, also moved to Jerusalem to make sacrifices to the Eternal One, True God of their fathers. 17 Those who moved south strengthened the Southern Kingdom with their dedication to the True God and His chosen King Rehoboam (son of Solomon) for three years. These people were faithful to God and followed the example of our beloved kings David and Solomon for three years.

As his nation is growing and strengthening, so is Rehoboam’s family.

18 His first wife, Mahalath, the daughter of Jerimoth (son of David) and Abihail (daughter of Jesse’s son Eliab) 19 gave birth to three sons: Jeush, Shemariah, and Zaham. 20 Rehoboam’s second wife, Maacah (granddaughter of Absalom), had four sons: Abijah, Attai, Ziza, and Shelomith. 21 Rehoboam loved his second wife, Maacah, more than all his other 18 wives and 60 concubines, who gave him a total of 28 sons and 60 daughters. 22 Of those children, Rehoboam appointed Abijah (eldest son of his favorite wife Maacah) as the leader among his brothers and as the crown prince. 23 Rehoboam then wisely made some of his other sons governors of the territories and fortified cities in Judah and Benjamin. He ensured their contentment and loyalty, giving them food and selecting their wives.

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