1 Kings 12-14
Contemporary English Version
Some of the People Rebel against Rehoboam
12 Rehoboam went to Shechem where everyone was waiting to crown him king.
2 Jeroboam son of Nebat heard what was happening, and he stayed in Egypt,[a] where he had gone to hide from Solomon. 3 But the people from the northern tribes of Israel sent for him. Then together they went to Rehoboam and said, 4 “Your father Solomon forced us to work very hard. But if you make our work easier, we will serve you and do whatever you ask.”
5 “Give me three days to think about it,” Rehoboam replied, “then come back for my answer.” So the people left.
6 Rehoboam went to some leaders who had been his father’s senior officials, and he asked them, “What should I tell these people?”
7 They answered, “If you want them to serve and obey you, then you should do what they ask today. Tell them you will make their work easier.”
8 But Rehoboam refused their advice and went to the younger men who had grown up with him and were now his officials. 9 He asked, “What do you think I should say to these people who asked me to make their work easier?”
10 His younger advisors said:
Here’s what we think you should say to them: “Compared to me, my father was weak.[b] 11 He made you work hard, but I’ll make you work even harder. He punished you with whips, but I’ll use whips with pieces of sharp metal!”
12 Three days later, Jeroboam and the others came back. 13 Rehoboam ignored the advice of the older advisors. 14 He spoke bluntly and told them exactly what his own advisors had suggested: “My father made you work hard, but I’ll make you work even harder. He punished you with whips, but I’ll use whips with pieces of sharp metal!”
15-19 When the people realized that Rehoboam would not listen to them, they shouted: “We don’t have to be loyal to David’s family. We can do what we want. Come on, people of Israel, let’s go home! Rehoboam can rule his own people.”
Adoniram[c] was in charge of the forced labor, and Rehoboam sent him to talk to the people. But they stoned him to death. Then Rehoboam ran to his chariot and hurried back to Jerusalem.
So the people from the northern tribes of Israel went home, leaving Rehoboam to rule only the people from the towns in Judah. Ever since that day, the people of Israel have opposed David’s family in Judah. All of this happened just as the Lord’s prophet Ahijah had told Jeroboam.
20 When the Israelites heard that Jeroboam was back, they called everyone together. Then they sent for Jeroboam and made him king of Israel. Only the people from the tribe of Judah[d] remained loyal to David’s family.
Shemaiah Warns Rehoboam
21 After Rehoboam returned to Jerusalem, he decided to attack Israel and take control of the whole country. So he called together one hundred eighty thousand soldiers from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.
22 Meanwhile, God told Shemaiah the prophet 23 to give Rehoboam and everyone from Judah and Benjamin this warning: 24 “Don’t go to war against the people from Israel—they are your relatives. Go home! I am the Lord, and I made these things happen.”
Rehoboam and his army obeyed the Lord and went home.
Jeroboam Makes Religious Changes
25 Jeroboam rebuilt Shechem in Ephraim and made it a stronger town, then he moved there. He also fortified the town of Penuel.
26-27 One day, Jeroboam started thinking, “Everyone in Israel still goes to the temple in Jerusalem to offer sacrifices to the Lord. What if they become loyal to David’s family again? They will kill me and accept Rehoboam as their king.”
28 Jeroboam asked for advice and then made two gold statues of calves. He showed them to the people and said, “Listen everyone! You won’t have to go to Jerusalem to worship anymore. Here are your gods[e] who rescued you from Egypt.” 29-30 Then he put one of the gold calves in the town of Bethel. He put the other one in the town of Dan, and the crowd walked out in front as the calf was taken there.[f] What Jeroboam did was a terrible sin.
31 Jeroboam built small places of worship at the shrines[g] and appointed men who were not from the tribe of Levi to serve as priests. 32-33 He also decided to start a new festival for the Israelites on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, just like the one in Judah.[h] On that day, Jeroboam went to Bethel and offered sacrifices on the altar to the gold calf he had put there. Then he assigned the priests their duties.
A Prophet Condemns the Altar at Bethel
13 1-2 One day, Jeroboam was standing at the altar in Bethel, ready to make an offering. Suddenly one of God’s prophets[i] arrived from Judah and shouted:
The Lord sent me with a message about this altar. A child named Josiah will be born into David’s family. He will sacrifice on this altar the priests who make offerings here, and human bones will be burned on it.
3 You will know that the Lord has said these things when the altar splits in half, and the ashes on it fall to the ground.
4 Jeroboam pointed at the prophet and shouted, “Grab him!” But right away, Jeroboam’s hand became stiff, and he could not move it. 5 The altar split in half, and the ashes fell to the ground, just as the prophet had warned.
6 “Please pray to the Lord your God and ask him to heal my hand,” Jeroboam begged.
The prophet prayed, and Jeroboam’s hand was healed.
7 “Come home with me and eat something,” Jeroboam said. “I want to give you a gift for what you have done.”
8 “No, I wouldn’t go with you, even if you offered me half of your kingdom. I won’t eat or drink here either. 9 The Lord said I can’t eat or drink anything and that I can’t go home the same way I came.” 10 Then he started home down a different road.
An Old Prophet from Bethel
11 At that time an old prophet lived in Bethel, and one of his sons told him what the prophet from Judah had said and done.
12 “Show me which way he went,” the old prophet said, and his sons pointed out the road. 13 “Put a saddle on my donkey,” he told them. After they did, he got on the donkey 14 and rode off to look for the prophet from Judah.
The old prophet found him sitting under an oak tree and asked, “Are you the prophet from Judah?”
“Yes, I am.”
15 “Come home with me,” the old prophet said, “and have something to eat.”
16 “I can’t go back with you,” the prophet replied, “and I can’t eat or drink anything with you. 17 The Lord warned me not to eat or drink or to go home the same way I came.”
18 The old prophet said, “I’m a prophet too. One of the Lord’s angels told me to take you to my house and give you something to eat and drink.”
The prophet from Judah did not know that the old prophet was lying, 19 so he went home with him and ate and drank.
20 During the meal the Lord gave the old prophet 21 a message for the prophet from Judah:
Listen to the Lord’s message. You have disobeyed the Lord your God. 22 He told you not to eat or drink anything here, but you came home and ate with me. And so, when you die, your body won’t be buried in your family tomb.
23 After the meal the old prophet got a donkey ready, 24 and the prophet from Judah left. Along the way, a lion attacked and killed him, and the donkey and the lion stood there beside his dead body.
25 Some people walked by and saw the body with the lion standing there. They ran into Bethel, telling everyone what they had seen.
26 When the old prophet heard the news, he said, “That must be the prophet from Judah. The Lord warned him, but he disobeyed. So the Lord sent a lion to kill him.”
27 The old prophet told his sons to saddle his donkey, and when it was ready, 28 he left. He found the body lying on the road, with the donkey and lion standing there. The lion had not eaten the body or attacked the donkey. 29 The old prophet picked up the body, put it on his own donkey, and took it back to Bethel, so he could bury it and mourn for the prophet from Judah.
30 He buried the body in his own family tomb and cried for the prophet. 31 He said to his sons, “When I die, bury my body next to this prophet. 32 I’m sure that everything he said about the altar in Bethel and the shrines in Samaria will happen.”
33 But Jeroboam kept on doing evil things. He appointed men to be priests at the local shrines, even if they were not Levites. In fact, anyone who wanted to be a priest could be one. 34 This sinful thing led to the downfall of his kingdom.
Jeroboam’s Son Dies
14 About the same time, Abijah son of Jeroboam got sick. 2-3 Jeroboam told his wife:
Disguise yourself so no one will know you’re my wife, then go to Shiloh, where the prophet Ahijah lives. Take him ten loaves of bread, some small cakes, and honey, and ask him what will happen to our son. He can tell you, because he’s the one who told me I would become king.
4 She got ready and left for Ahijah’s house in Shiloh.
Ahijah was now old and blind, 5 but the Lord told him, “Jeroboam’s wife is coming to ask about her son. I will tell you what to say to her.”
Jeroboam’s wife came to Ahijah’s house, pretending to be someone else. 6 But when Ahijah heard her walking up to the door, he said:
Come in! I know you’re Jeroboam’s wife—why are you pretending to be someone else? I have some bad news for you. 7 Give your husband this message from the Lord God of Israel: “Jeroboam, you know that I, the Lord, chose you over anyone else to be the leader of my people Israel. 8 I even took David’s kingdom away from his family and gave it to you. But you are not like my servant David. He always obeyed me and did what was right.
9 “You have made me very angry by rejecting me and making idols out of gold. Jeroboam, you have done more evil things than any king before you.
10 “Because of this, I will destroy your family by killing every man and boy in it, whether slave or free. I will wipe out your family, just as fire burns up trash. 11 Dogs will eat the bodies of your relatives who die in town, and vultures will eat the bodies of those who die in the country. I, the Lord, have spoken and will not change my mind!”
12 That’s the Lord’s message to your husband. As for you, go back home, and right after you get there, your son will die. 13 Everyone in Israel will mourn at his funeral. But he will be the last one from Jeroboam’s family to receive a proper burial, because he’s the only one the Lord God of Israel is pleased with.
14 The Lord will soon choose a new king of Israel, who will destroy Jeroboam’s family. And I mean very soon.[j] 15 The people of Israel have made the Lord angry by setting up sacred poles[k] for worshiping the goddess Asherah. So the Lord will punish them until they shake like grass in a stream. He will take them out of the land he gave to their ancestors, then scatter them as far away as the Euphrates River. 16 Jeroboam sinned and caused the Israelites to sin. Now the Lord will desert Israel.
17 Jeroboam’s wife left and went back home to the town of Tirzah. As soon as she set foot in her house, her son died. 18 Everyone in Israel came and mourned at his funeral, just as the Lord’s servant Ahijah had said.
19 Everything else Jeroboam did while he was king, including the battles he won, is written in The History of the Kings of Israel. 20 He was king of Israel for twenty-two years, then he died, and his son Nadab became king.
King Rehoboam of Judah
21 Rehoboam son of Solomon was forty-one years old when he became king of Judah, and he ruled seventeen years from Jerusalem, the city where the Lord had chosen to be worshiped. His mother Naamah was from Ammon.
22 The people of Judah disobeyed the Lord and made him even angrier than their ancestors had. 23 They also built their own local shrines[l] and stone images of foreign gods, and they set up sacred poles[m] for worshiping the goddess Asherah on every hill and in the shade of large trees. 24 Even worse, they allowed prostitutes[n] at the shrines, and followed the disgusting customs of the foreign nations that the Lord had forced out of Canaan.
25 After Rehoboam had been king for four years, King Shishak of Egypt attacked Jerusalem. 26 He took everything of value from the temple and the palace, including Solomon’s gold shields.
27 Rehoboam had bronze shields made to replace the gold ones, and he ordered the guards at the city gates to keep them safe. 28 Whenever Rehoboam went to the Lord’s temple, the guards carried the shields. But they always took them back to the guardroom as soon as he was finished.
29 Everything else Rehoboam did while he was king is written in The History of the Kings of Judah. 30 He and Jeroboam were constantly at war. 31 Rehoboam’s mother Naamah was from Ammon, but when Rehoboam died, he was buried beside his ancestors in Jerusalem.[o] His son Abijam then became king.
- 12.2 he stayed in Egypt: Hebrew; two ancient translations “he returned from Egypt” (see also 2 Chronicles 10.2).
- 12.10 Compared. . . weak: Hebrew “My little finger is bigger than my father’s waist.”
- 12.15-19 Adoniram: Two ancient translations (see also 4.6 and 5.14); Hebrew “Adoram.”
- 12.20 Israelites. . . Israel. . . Judah: From this time on, “Israel” usually refers to the northern kingdom, and “Israelites” refers to the people who lived there. The southern kingdom is called “Judah.”
- 12.28 Here are your gods: Or “Here is your God.”
- 12.29,30 the crowd. . . taken there: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
- 12.31 shrines: See the note at 3.2.
- 12.32,33 the one in Judah: This probably refers to the Festival of Shelters.
- 13.1,2 one of God’s prophets: Hebrew “a man of God.”
- 14.14 And I mean very soon: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
- 14.15 sacred poles: Or “trees,” used as symbols of Asherah, the goddess of fertility.
- 14.23 local shrines: See the note at 3.2.
- 14.23 sacred poles: See the note at 14.15.
- 14.24 prostitutes: Men and women sometimes served at the local shrines as prostitutes in the worship of Canaanite gods, but the Lord had forbidden the people of Israel to worship in this way (see Deuteronomy 23.17,18).
- 14.31 Jerusalem: See the note at 2.10,11.