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King Rehoboam Acts Foolishly

12 Rehoboam went to [a]Shechem, for all Israel had come to Shechem to make him king. Now when Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard about it, he was living in Egypt (for he was still in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon). So they sent word and called for him, and Jeroboam and all the assembly of Israel came and spoke to Rehoboam, saying, “Your father made our yoke (burden) heavy; so now lighten the hard labor and the heavy yoke your father imposed on us, and we will serve you.” Rehoboam replied to them, “Leave for three days, then come back to me [for my decision].” So the people left.

King Rehoboam consulted with the elders who had served and advised his father Solomon while he was still alive and said, “How do you advise me to answer this people?” They spoke to him, saying, “If you will be a servant to this people today, and will serve them and grant their request, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever.” But he [b]ignored the advice which the elders gave him and consulted the young men who grew up with him and served him. He said to them, “What do you advise that we answer this people who have said to me, ‘Lighten the yoke (burden) which your father put on us’?” 10 The young men who had grown up with him answered, “This is what you should say to this people who told you, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but as for you, make our yoke lighter’—say this to them: ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins [and my reign will be even more severe]. 11 And now, whereas my father loaded you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with [c]scorpions.’”

12 Jeroboam and all the people came back to Rehoboam on the third day, just as the king had instructed, saying, “Return to me on the third day.” 13 The king answered the people harshly and [d]ignored the advice which the elders had given him, 14 and spoke to them in accordance with the advice of the young men, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but as for me, I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.” 15 So the king did not listen to the people; for the situation was from the Lord, so that He might fulfill His word which He spoke through Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.(A)

The Kingdom Divided; Jeroboam Rules Israel

16 So when all [the ten northern tribes of] Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people replied to the king, saying,

“What portion do we have in David?
We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse;
To your tents, O Israel!
Look now after [e]your own house, David!”

Then Israel went back to their tents. 17 But as for the sons (descendants) of Israel who lived in the cities of Judah [including Benjamin], Rehoboam reigned over them. 18 Then King Rehoboam sent [f]Adoram, who was in charge of the forced labor [to represent him], and all Israel stoned him to death. And King Rehoboam quickly mounted his chariot to escape to Jerusalem. 19 So Israel (the ten northern tribes) has rebelled against the house (royal line) of David to this day (the date of this writing).

20 It came about when all Israel heard that Jeroboam had returned, that they sent word and called him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel. None followed the house of David except the tribe of Judah [including Benjamin].

21 Now when Rehoboam arrived in Jerusalem, he assembled all the [fighting men from the] house of Judah, with the tribe of Benjamin, 180,000 chosen warriors, to fight against the house of Israel to bring the kingdom back to Rehoboam the son of Solomon. 22 But the word of God came to Shemaiah the man of God, saying, 23 “Tell Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and all the house (fighting men) of Judah and Benjamin and the rest of the people, 24 ‘Thus says the Lord, “You shall not go up and fight against your brothers, the sons of Israel. Let every man return to his house, for this thing has come about from Me.”’” So they listened to the word of the Lord and returned to go home, in accordance with the word of the Lord.

Jeroboam’s Idolatry

25 Then Jeroboam built Shechem [as his royal city] in the hill country of Ephraim and lived there. He went out from there and rebuilt Penuel [as a stronghold]. 26 Jeroboam [doubted God’s promise to him and] said in his heart, “Now the kingdom will return to the house of David.(B) 27 If these people go up to the house of the Lord in Jerusalem to offer sacrifices, then their heart will turn to their lord, to Rehoboam king of Judah; and they will kill me and return to Rehoboam king of Judah.” 28 So the king took counsel [and followed bad advice] and made two [g]calves of gold. And he said to the people, “It is too much for you to go [all the way] up to Jerusalem; behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.” 29 He set the one [golden calf] in Bethel, and the other he put in [h]Dan. 30 Now this thing became a sin [for Israel]; because the people went to worship before the one [or the other of them] as far as Dan. 31 And Jeroboam also made houses on high places, and he made priests from [i]all people who were not of the sons (descendants) of Levi. 32 Jeroboam held a feast on the fifteenth day of the [j]eighth month, like the feast which is kept in Judah, and he went up to the altar; he did this in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves which he had made. And he stationed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made.(C) 33 So he went up to the altar which he had made in Bethel on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, in the month which he had devised in his own heart [in defiance of God’s commandments]; and he held a feast for the Israelites and he went up to the altar to burn [k]incense [in defiance of God’s law.]

Jeroboam Warned, Stricken

13 Now behold, there came a man of God from Judah to Bethel by the word (command) of the Lord, while Jeroboam was standing by the altar [which he had built] to burn incense. The man cried out against the [idolatrous] altar by the word of the Lord, “O altar, altar, thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, [l]Josiah by name; and on you shall he sacrifice [the bodies of] the priests of the high places who burn incense on you, and human bones shall be burned on you.’” And he gave a sign the same day, saying, “This is the sign which the Lord has spoken: ‘Behold, the altar shall be split apart and the ashes that are on it shall be poured out.’”(D) When the king heard the words which the man of God cried out against the altar in Bethel, Jeroboam put out his hand from the altar, saying, “Seize him!” And his hand which he had put out against him withered, so that he was unable to pull it back to himself. The altar also was split apart and the ashes were poured out from the altar in accordance with the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the Lord. The king answered and said to the man of God, “Please entreat [the favor of] the Lord your God and pray for me, that my hand may be restored to me.” So the man of God entreated the Lord, and the king’s hand was restored to him and became as it was before. And the king said to the man of God, “Come home with me and refresh yourself, and I will give you a reward.” But the man of God said to the king, “Even if you were to give me half your house (wealth), I would not go with you, nor would I eat bread or drink water in this place. For I was commanded by the word of the Lord, ‘You shall not eat bread or drink water, nor shall you return by the way you came.’” 10 So he went another way and did not return by the way that he came to Bethel.

The Disobedient Prophet

11 Now there was an old prophet living in Bethel; and his sons came and told him everything that the man of God had done that day in Bethel; they also told their father the words which he had spoken to the king. 12 Their father asked them, “Which way did he go?” For his sons had seen which way the man of God who came from Judah had gone. 13 He said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me.” So they saddled the donkey for him and he rode away on it, 14 and he went after the man of God. And he found him sitting under an oak (terebinth) tree, and he said to him, “Are you the man of God who came from Judah?” And he said, “I am.” 15 Then he said to him, “Come home with me and eat bread.” 16 He said, “I cannot return with you nor go in with you, nor will I eat bread or drink water with you in this place. 17 For I was told by the word of the Lord, ‘You shall not eat bread nor drink water there, nor shall you return by going the way that you came.’” 18 He answered him, “I too am a prophet, as you are; and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘Bring him back with you to your house, so that he may eat bread and drink water.’” But he lied to him. 19 So the man of God went back with him, and ate bread in his house and drank water.

20 Now it happened as they were sitting at the table, that the word of the Lord came to the prophet who had brought him back. 21 And he cried out to the man of God who had come from Judah, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Because you have disobeyed the word of the Lord and have not kept the commandment which the Lord your God commanded you, 22 but have come back and have eaten bread and drunk water in the place of which the Lord said to you, “You shall not eat bread nor drink water”; your body shall not come to the tomb of your fathers (ancestors).’” 23 After the prophet of the house had eaten bread and after he had drunk, he saddled the donkey for the prophet whom he had brought back. 24 Now when he had gone, a lion met him by the road and killed him, and his body was thrown in the road, with the donkey standing beside it; the lion was also standing beside the body. 25 And there were men passing by, and they saw the body thrown in the road, and the lion standing beside the body. So they came and told about it in the city [of Bethel] where the old prophet lived.

26 When the prophet who had brought him back from the road heard about it, he said, “It is the man of God who was disobedient to the word of the Lord; therefore the Lord has given him to the lion, which has torn him and killed him, in accordance with the word of the Lord which He spoke to him.” 27 And he said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me.” And they saddled it. 28 And he went and found the body thrown on the road, and the donkey and the lion standing beside the body; the lion [miraculously] had not eaten the body or attacked the donkey. 29 Then the prophet picked up the body of the man of God and laid it on the donkey and brought it back, and he came into the city (Bethel) of the old prophet to mourn and to bury him. 30 And he laid the body in his own grave, and they mourned over him, saying, “Alas, my brother!” 31 Then after he had buried him, he said to his sons, “When I am dead, bury me in the grave in which the man of God is buried; lay my bones beside his bones. 32 For the words which he cried out by the word of the Lord against the altar in Bethel and against all the houses of the high places which are in the cities of Samaria shall certainly come to pass.”

33 After this event, Jeroboam [still] did not turn from his evil way, but again made priests for the high places from among all the people. He ordained anyone who was willing, so that there would be priests for the high places. 34 And this thing (idol worship) became the sin of the house of Jeroboam to blot it out and eliminate it from the face of the earth.

Ahijah Prophesies against the King

14 At that time Abijah the son [and crown prince, heir] of Jeroboam became sick. Jeroboam said to his wife, “Please get up and disguise yourself, so that people will not know that you are Jeroboam’s wife, and go to Shiloh. Ahijah the prophet is there, the one who told me that I would be king over this people. Take with you ten loaves of bread, some cakes, and a bottle of honey, and go to him. He will tell you what will happen to the boy.”

Jeroboam’s wife did so. She got up and went [twenty miles] to Shiloh, and came to the house of Ahijah. Now Ahijah could not see, because his eyes were dim from old age. And the Lord said to Ahijah, “Behold, the [m]wife of Jeroboam is coming to inquire of you about her son, because he is sick. You shall say such and such to her, for when she arrives, she will pretend to be another woman.”

So when Ahijah heard the sound of her feet as she came in the doorway, he said, “Come in, wife of Jeroboam. Why do you pretend to be another woman? For I have been sent to you [by God] with a harsh message. Go, tell Jeroboam, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: “Because I exalted you from among the people and made you leader over My people Israel, and tore the kingdom away from the house of David and gave it to you—but you have not been like My servant David, who kept My commandments and followed Me with all his heart, to do only what was right in My eyes, but have done more evil than all [the [n]kings] who were before you; for you have gone and made for yourself other gods and molten images to provoke Me to anger, and have cast Me behind your back— 10 therefore behold, I am bringing evil on the house (royal line) of Jeroboam, and I will cut off (destroy) from Jeroboam every male, both bond and free, in Israel, and will utterly sweep away the house of Jeroboam as one sweeps away dung until it is all gone. 11 The dogs will eat [the carcass of] anyone belonging to Jeroboam who dies in the city, and the birds of the sky will eat [the carcass of] anyone who dies in the field, for the Lord has spoken it.”’(E) 12 Now as for you (Jeroboam’s wife), arise, go to your own house. When your feet enter the city, the child [Abijah] will die. 13 All Israel shall mourn for him and bury him, for he alone of Jeroboam’s family [o]will come to [be placed in] the grave, because in him there was found something good and pleasing toward the Lord, the God of Israel, in the house of Jeroboam. 14 Moreover, the Lord will raise up for Himself a king over Israel who will cut off the house (royal line) of Jeroboam this day and from now on.

15 “The Lord will strike Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water; and He will uproot Israel from this good land which He gave to their fathers, and He will scatter them beyond the [Euphrates] River, because they have made their [p]Asherim, provoking the Lord to anger. 16 He will give up Israel because of the sins of Jeroboam which he has committed, and with which he has made Israel sin [by leading them into idolatry].”

17 So Jeroboam’s wife arose and left and came to Tirzah [the king’s residence]. As she was entering the threshold of the house, the child [Abijah] died. 18 And all Israel buried him and mourned for him, in accordance with the word of the Lord which He spoke through His servant Ahijah the prophet.

19 Now as for the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, how he made war and how he reigned, behold, they are written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. 20 The time that Jeroboam reigned was twenty-two years, and he slept with his fathers [in death]; and Nadab his son reigned in his place.

Rehoboam Misleads Judah

21 Now Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city the Lord had chosen from all the tribes of Israel in which to put His Name (Presence). His mother’s name was Naamah the Ammonitess. 22 And [the people of] Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord. They provoked Him to [q]jealousy more than all that their fathers had done, with their sins which they had committed. 23 For they also built for themselves high places [to worship idols] and sacred pillars and Asherim [for the goddess Asherah]. These were on every high hill and under every luxuriant tree. 24 There were also male cult prostitutes in the land. They committed all the repulsive acts of the nations which the Lord dispossessed before the Israelites.

25 Now in the fifth year of King Rehoboam, Shishak king of Egypt [Jeroboam’s brother-in-law] came up against Jerusalem. 26 He took away the treasures of the house (temple) of the Lord and the treasures of the king’s house; he took away everything, he even took all the shields of gold which Solomon had made. 27 So King Rehoboam made bronze shields to replace them and handed them over to the captains of the palace guard who guarded the doorway of the king’s house. 28 And as often as the king went into the house of the Lord, the guards would carry them and bring them back into the guardroom.

29 Now as for the rest of the acts of Rehoboam, and everything that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? 30 There was also war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam continually. 31 And Rehoboam slept with his fathers [in death] and was buried with his fathers in the City of David. His mother’s name was Naamah the Ammonitess. Abijam (Abijah) his son became king in his place.


  1. 1 Kings 12:1 An important city located in the tribal territory of Ephraim, about thirty miles north of Jerusalem.
  2. 1 Kings 12:8 Lit forsook. Rehoboam’s decision was his own responsibility, but like Pharaoh in his dealings with Moses, Rehoboam was also led by the Lord to respond as he did so that the will of the Lord would be carried out (see v 15).
  3. 1 Kings 12:11 I.e. whips with sharp metal studs.
  4. 1 Kings 12:13 Lit forsook.
  5. 1 Kings 12:16 This verse indicates the decision of the ten northern tribes to break away from David’s dynasty and, in so doing, creating the divided kingdom—Israel in the north and Judah (David’s tribe) in the south.
  6. 1 Kings 12:18 Adoniram in 4:6; 5:14.
  7. 1 Kings 12:28 Cf the incident of the golden calf in the wilderness, and see note Ex 32:4. Jeroboam evidently was convinced that the Israelites would respond to calf idols just as their ancestors had (despite the consequences), and unfortunately he was right.
  8. 1 Kings 12:29 Northernmost city in Jeroboam’s kingdom.
  9. 1 Kings 12:31 Lit the extremities of the people.
  10. 1 Kings 12:32 Jeroboam chose the eighth month to worship idols in competition with the Feast of Booths in Jerusalem during the seventh month at the temple.
  11. 1 Kings 12:33 Or sacrifices.
  12. 1 Kings 13:2 Josiah became king about three hundred years later (2 Kin 23:15-20).
  13. 1 Kings 14:5 There is an insertion in the Septuagint, found in the Vatican manuscript after 1 Kin 12:24, in which Jeroboam’s wife is identified as Ano, the older sister of Tahpenes the wife of King Shishak of Egypt. When Jeroboam fled to Egypt to escape death at the hands of King Solomon, he went to King Shishak of Egypt and remained with him until the death of Solomon. Jeroboam asked permission of King Shishak to return to his own land, and the king told him, “Ask of me a request, and I will give it to you.” In reply, Jeroboam apparently asked for Ano.
  14. 1 Kings 14:9 I.e. Saul, David, and Solomon.
  15. 1 Kings 14:13 It was considered disgraceful, shameful and disgusting for a corpse to be left unburied and exposed to animals.
  16. 1 Kings 14:15 Idols of the goddess Asherah.
  17. 1 Kings 14:22 God does not tolerate the transfer of the honor and worship that is due Him to any other being or object.

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