2 Chronicles 8-11
More on Solomon
8 1-6 At the end of twenty years, Solomon had quite a list of accomplishments. He had:
built The Temple of God and his own palace;
rebuilt the cities that Hiram had given him and colonized them with Israelites;
marched on Hamath Zobah and took it;
fortified Tadmor in the desert and all the store-cities he had founded in Hamath;
built the fortress cities Upper Beth Horon and Lower Beth Horon, complete with walls, gates, and bars;
built Baalath and store-cities;
built chariot-cities for his horses.
Solomon built impulsively and extravagantly—whenever a whim took him. And in Jerusalem, in Lebanon—wherever he fancied.
7-10 The remnants from the original inhabitants of the land (Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, Jebusites—all non-Israelites), survivors of the holy wars, were rounded up by Solomon for his gangs of slave labor. The policy is in effect today. But true Israelites were not treated this way; they were used in his army and administration—government leaders and commanders of his chariots and charioteers. They were also the project managers responsible for Solomon’s building operations—250 in all in charge of the workforce.
11 Solomon brought Pharaoh’s daughter from the City of David to a house built especially for her, “Because,” he said, “my wife cannot live in the house of David king of Israel, for the areas in which the Chest of God has entered are sacred.”
12-13 Then Solomon offered Whole-Burnt-Offerings to God on the Altar of God that he had built in front of The Temple porch. He kept to the regular schedule of worship set down by Moses: Sabbaths, New Moons, and the three annual feasts of Unraised Bread (Passover), Weeks (Pentecost), and Booths.
14-15 He followed the practice of his father David in setting up groups of priests carrying out the work of worship, with the Levites assigned to lead the sacred music for praising God and to assist the priests in the daily worship; he assigned security guards to be on duty at each gate—that’s what David the man of God had ordered. The king’s directions to the priests and Levites and financial stewards were kept right down to the fine print—no innovations—including the treasuries.
16 All that Solomon set out to do, from the groundbreaking of The Temple of God to its finish, was now complete.
17-18 Then Solomon went to Ezion Geber and Elath on the coast of Edom. Hiram sent him ships and with them veteran sailors. Joined by Solomon’s men they sailed to Ophir (in east Africa), loaded on fifteen tons of gold, and brought it back to King Solomon.
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9 1-4 The queen of Sheba heard of Solomon’s reputation and came to Jerusalem to put his reputation to the test, asking all the tough questions. She made a showy entrance—an impressive retinue of attendants and camels loaded with perfume and much gold and precious stones. She emptied her heart to Solomon, talking over everything she cared about. And Solomon answered everything she put to him—nothing stumped him. When the queen of Sheba experienced for herself Solomon’s wisdom and saw with her own eyes the palace he had built, the meals that were served, the impressive array of court officials, the sharply dressed waiters, the cupbearers, and then the elaborate worship extravagant with Whole-Burnt-Offerings at The Temple of God, it all took her breath away.
5-8 She said to the king, “It’s all true! Your reputation for accomplishment and wisdom that reached all the way to my country is confirmed. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it for myself; they didn’t exaggerate! Such wisdom and elegance—far more than I could ever have imagined. Lucky the men and women who work for you, getting to be around you every day and hear your wise words firsthand! And blessed be your God who has taken such a liking to you, making you king. Clearly, God’s love for Israel is behind this, making you king to keep a just order and nurture a God-pleasing people.”
9-11 She then gave the king four and a half tons of gold and sack after sack of spices and precious stones. There hasn’t been a cargo of spices like the shipload the queen of Sheba brought to King Solomon. The ships of Hiram also imported gold from Ophir along with fragrant sandalwood and expensive gems. The king used the sandalwood for fine cabinetry in The Temple of God and the royal palace, and for making harps and dulcimers for the musicians. Nothing like that shipment of sandalwood has been seen since.
12 King Solomon, for his part, gave the queen of Sheba all her heart’s desire—everything she asked for. She took away more than she brought. Satisfied, she returned home with her train of servants.
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13-14 Solomon received twenty-five tons of gold annually. This was above and beyond the taxes and profit on trade with merchants and traders. All kings of Arabia and various and assorted governors also brought silver and gold to Solomon.
15-16 King Solomon crafted two hundred body-length shields of hammered gold—about fifteen pounds of gold to each shield—and about three hundred small shields about half that size. He stored the shields in the House of the Forest of Lebanon.
17-19 The king made a massive throne of ivory with a veneer of gold. The throne had six steps leading up to it with an attached footstool of gold. The armrests on each side were flanked by lions. Lions, twelve of them, were placed at either end of the six steps. There was no throne like it in any other kingdom.
20 King Solomon’s chalices and tankards were made of gold, and all the dinnerware and serving utensils in the House of the Forest of Lebanon were pure gold. Nothing was made of silver; silver was considered common and cheap in the time of Solomon.
21 The king’s ships, manned by Hiram’s sailors, made a round trip to Tarshish every three years, returning with a cargo of gold, silver, and ivory, apes and peacocks.
22-24 King Solomon was richer and wiser than all the kings of the earth—he surpassed them all. Kings came from all over the world to be with Solomon and get in on the wisdom God had given him. Everyone who came brought gifts—artifacts of gold and silver, fashionable robes and gowns, the latest in weapons, exotic spices, horses, and mules—parades of visitors, year after year.
25-28 Solomon collected horses and chariots. He had four thousand stalls for horses and chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen in barracks in the chariot-cities and in Jerusalem. He ruled over all the kings from the River Euphrates in the east, throughout the Philistine country, and as far west as the border of Egypt. The king made silver as common as rocks and cedar as common as the fig trees in the lowland hills. He carried on a brisk horse-trading business with Egypt and other places.
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29-31 The rest of Solomon’s life and rule, from start to finish, one can read in the records of Nathan the prophet, the prophecy of Ahijah of Shiloh, and in the visions of Iddo the seer concerning Jeroboam son of Nebat. Solomon ruled in Jerusalem over all Israel for forty years. Solomon died and was buried in the City of David his father. His son Rehoboam was the next king.
10 1-2 Rehoboam traveled to Shechem where all Israel had gathered to inaugurate him as king. Jeroboam was then in Egypt, where he had taken asylum from King Solomon; when he got the report of Solomon’s death, he came back.
3-4 Summoned by Israel, Jeroboam and all Israel went to Rehoboam and said, “Your father made life hard for us—worked our fingers to the bone. Give us a break; lighten up on us and we’ll willingly serve you.”
5 “Give me,” said Rehoboam, “three days to think it over; then come back.” So the people left.
6 King Rehoboam talked it over with the elders who had advised his father when he was alive: “What’s your counsel? How do you suggest that I answer the people?”
7 They said, “If you will be a servant to this people, be considerate of their needs and respond with compassion, work things out with them, they’ll end up doing anything for you.”
8-9 But he rejected the counsel of the elders and asked the young men he’d grown up with who were now currying his favor, “What do you think? What should I say to these people who are saying, ‘Give us a break from your father’s harsh ways—lighten up on us’?”
10-11 The young turks he’d grown up with said, “These people who complain, ‘Your father was too hard on us; lighten up’—well, tell them this: ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist. If you think life under my father was hard, you haven’t seen the half of it. My father thrashed you with whips; I’ll beat you bloody with chains!’”
12-14 Three days later Jeroboam and the people showed up, just as Rehoboam had directed when he said, “Give me three days to think it over; then come back.” The king’s answer was harsh and rude. He spurned the counsel of the elders and went with the advice of the younger set: “If you think life under my father was hard, you haven’t seen the half of it: my father thrashed you with whips; I’ll beat you bloody with chains!”
15 Rehoboam turned a deaf ear to the people. God was behind all this, confirming the message that he had given to Jeroboam son of Nebat through Ahijah of Shiloh.
16-17 When all Israel realized that the king hadn’t listened to a word they’d said, they stood up to him and said,
Get lost, David!
We’ve had it with you, son of Jesse!
Let’s get out of here, Israel, and fast!
From now on, David, mind your own business.
And with that they left. Rehoboam continued to rule only those who lived in the towns of Judah.
18-19 When King Rehoboam next sent out Adoniram, head of the workforce, the Israelites ganged up on him, pelted him with stones, and killed him. King Rehoboam jumped in his chariot and escaped to Jerusalem as fast as he could. Israel has been in rebellion against the Davidic dynasty ever since.
11 When Rehoboam got back to Jerusalem he called up the men of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, 180,000 of their best soldiers, to go to war against Israel and recover the kingdom.
2-4 At the same time the word of God came to Shemaiah, a holy man, “Tell this to Rehoboam son of Solomon, king of Judah, along with all the Israelites in Judah and Benjamin, This is God’s word: Don’t march out; don’t fight against your brothers the Israelites. Go back home, every last one of you; I’m in charge here.” And they did it; they did what God said and went home.
5-12 Rehoboam continued to live in Jerusalem but built up a defense system for Judah all around: in Bethlehem, Etam, Tekoa, Beth Zur, Soco, Adullam, Gath, Mareshah, Ziph, Adoraim, Lachish, Azekah, Zorah, Aijalon, and Hebron—a line of defense protecting Judah and Benjamin. He beefed up the fortifications, appointed commanders, and put in supplies of food, olive oil, and wine. He installed arms—large shields and spears—in all the forts, making them very strong. So Judah and Benjamin were secure for the time.
13-17 The priests and Levites from all over Israel came and made themselves available to Rehoboam. The Levites left their pastures and properties and moved to Judah and Jerusalem because Jeroboam and his sons had dismissed them from the priesthood of God and replaced them with his own priests to preside over the worship centers at which he had installed goat and calf demon-idols. Everyone from all the tribes of Israel who determined to seek the God of Israel migrated with the priests and Levites to Jerusalem to worship there, sacrificing to the God of their ancestors. That gave a tremendous boost to the kingdom of Judah. They stuck with Rehoboam son of Solomon for three years, loyal to the ways of David and Solomon for this period.
18-21 Rehoboam married Mahalath daughter of Jerimoth, David’s son, and Abihail daughter of Eliab, Jesse’s son. Mahalath bore him Jeush, Shemariah, and Zaham. Then he married Maacah, Absalom’s daughter, and she bore him Abijah, Attai, Ziza, and Shelomith. Maacah was Rehoboam’s favorite wife; he loved her more than all his other wives and concubines put together (and he had a lot—eighteen wives and sixty concubines who produced twenty-eight sons and sixty daughters!).
22-23 Rehoboam designated Abijah son of Maacah as the “first son” and leader of the brothers—he intended to make him the next king. He was shrewd in deploying his sons in all the fortress cities that made up his defense system in Judah and Benjamin; he kept them happy with much food and many wives.