II Chronicles 11

 

 

The first four verses of this chapter would have been better placed as the

conclusion of the previous chapter. They correspond with I Kings 12:21-24;

and they tell how Rehoboam was restrained from making bad

worse, in a hopeless attempt to recover the seceding ten tribes, by war that

would have been as bloody as foredoomed to failure. “The word of the

Lord” to this intent came to the Prophet Shemaiah, and through him to

Rehoboam. The remaining verses of the chapter are new matter, and

belong to Chronicles alone.

 

  • They tell how Rehoboam set to work to fortify his towns, or

rather many of them (vs. 5-12);

  • how he received priests and others from the kingdom of the ten tribes

(vs. 13-17); and,

  • last and worst, of the wives and concubines he took (vs. 18-23).

 

1 “And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he gathered of the

house of Judah and Benjamin an hundred and fourscore thousand

chosen men, which were warriors, to fight against Israel, that he

might bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam.”  He gathered of the

house of Judah and Benjamin. The parallel (I Kings 12:21) says more

distinctly, “The house of Judah with the tribe of Benjamin.” They of

Jeroboam (ch.10:16) had flung it at Judah: “Now, David, see to thine own

house.” Rehoboam, of course, does this very thing. For the first time,formally,

Benjamin is now introduced as throwing in its lot with Judah, and the acted

prophecy of Ahijah is seen fulfilled; the chiefest of the tribes, and the tribe

that came of the youngest and most petted of old Jacob’s sons, are now

wedded to the end. The tribe of Benjamin lay hemmed in between Ephraim,

to which it had once much leaned, and to which (as Benjamin was the blood-

uncle of Ephraim) it was more closely related, and Judah, with which it had

once been at variance (II Samuel 2:12-32; 3:1-27; 20:1). But exactly on the

border-line of Judah and Benjamin rose the city Jerusalem and the temple

(Joshua 15:8; 18:16; Jeremiah 20:2); and, beyond doubt, this fact

had helped to bring about the much more friendly feeling, if not absolutely

close union, that now for some time had existed between these two tribes

in their contiguous allotments. (See map below)

 

        

                         (Taken from Wikipedia)

 

A hundred and four-score thousand chosen men, which were warriors.

According to Joab, in David’s time the men able to bear arms of Judah

alone were five hundred thousand (II Samuel 24:9). Compare the numbers

in the next reign (here, ch.13:3), and, later on still, in Jehoshaphat’s

(ch. 17:14-18). Both of these show that Abijah and Jehoshaphat respectively

had improved the time given to training much larger armies, whereas now

Rehoboam was taken by surprise.

 

2 “But the word of the LORD came to Shemaiah the man of God,

saying,”  Shemaiah the man of God. This is the first historical mention

(I Kings 12:21) of Shemaiah. The second is found here in ch. 12:5, 7, on

occasion of the invasion of Judah and Jerusalem by Shishak

King of Egypt; and the third, in the same chapter, v. 15, that he wrote a

book respecting the acts of Rehoboam. The expression, “man of God,”

owns to a somewhat unexplained history. It is first found in the added part

of Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 33:1), where it is applied to Moses. It

occurs once in Joshua (Joshua 14:6); twice in Judges (Judges 13:6, 8);

four times in Samuel (I Samuel 2:27; 9:6-8); twenty-nine times in

Kings; six times in Chronicles; once each in Ezra, Nehemiah and Jeremiah.

 

3 “Speak unto Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to

all Israel in Judah and Benjamin, saying,”  To all Israel in Judah and

Benjamin. There is difference of opinion as to who are intended in the

expression, “all Israel,” already confessedly ambiguous in two other

passages. When we consider the mention of Rehoboam personally in the

former clause of the verse, it would seem most probable that the meaning

is all the people of the nation, resident in the Judah and Benjamin allotments,

i.e. the nation called collectively Israel. This will include “the remnant”

spoken of in the parallel (I Kings 12:23, compared with 17).

 

4 “Thus saith the LORD, Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your

brethren: return every man to his house: for this thing is done of

me. And they obeyed the words of the LORD, and returned from

going against Jeroboam.”  This thing is from me; i.e. the punishing

disruption; not the precedent causes with the entirety of historical events;

this punishing and witnessing disruption is not to be “lightly healed.”

The man who did what caused it, the men who did what caused it, cannot

thus each undo what they have done — least of all undo it by the appeal

of war. They and theirs will have, long as life lasts, as lives last, to go

through the baptism of bitter suffering, and leave a heritage of the same

for others.

 

     Fighting against Brethren (vs. 1-4)

 

Rehoboam might have alleged some very strong reasons in defense of the

proposed war (v. 1). He might have pleaded that the tribes had no

constitutional or moral right to revolt and secede, and that their secession

would seriously and even fatally weaken Israel, and expose it to the mercy

of her powerful and unscrupulous neighbors. But the word of the Lord

came authoritatively to him, “Ye shall not go up,” etc., and the strife was

stayed. These words may teach or remind us of:

 

  • THE UNSEEMLINESS OF DOMESTIC STRIFE. It is not only such

murderous violence as darkened the history of the first human family, and

such bitter strife as that which too often divides brothers and sisters into

plaintiffs and defendants; it is also the unforgiven offence, or the

interminable dispute, which keeps their lives apart, or makes cold the

hearts that should be warm with love; and it is also the daily bickerings,

accusations, contentions, which come beneath the Divine displeasure. It is

not only the presence of strife, it is the absence of love; it is the want of

kindness, considerateness, charity, sweetness of look and of tone, which

gives dissatisfaction to Him who is ever saying, “As I have loved you, love

one another.”  (John 13:34)

 

  • THE PAINFUL INCONGRUITY OF CHURCH DISSENSIONS.

Apart from all ecclesiastical controversy, in regard to which there may be

honest difference of opinion and of action without any real bitterness of

heart, there is often found within the borders of the same Christian

community a difference which hardens into a dissension. It is here that the

strong, decisive command, against which is no appeal, should be heard,

“Ye shall not fight against your brethren.” We may not be able to define in

language the exact difference between allowable and honorable and even

commendable defense of the true and wise in Christian thought and method

on the one hand, and a reprehensible and unchristian dissension on the

other hand. But if “our eye be single” (Luke 11:34), and our Master’s cause

be dearer to our heart than our own preferences, we shall know where the

difference lies, and we shall heed the prohibition of the text, and the injunction

of the apostle, “Be at peace among yourselves” (I Thessalonians 5:13).

 

  • THE PECULIAR INIQUITY OF FRATRICIDAL WAR. How pitiful

the sight of the armies of Judah arrayed against the armies of Israel; the

children of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob seeking one another’s life,

shedding one another’s blood! The people of God turning their weapons

against each other, weakening the forces of righteousness, helping to

extinguish the light that was in the world. Well might the prophetic word

be uttered, “Ye shall not fight,” etc. The Divine Father of the human family

has, since then, looked down on many a sad and shameful fratricidal war

wars in which father and son, brother and brother, have met in deadly

contest on the battlefield; wars in which the hearts of those united by the

strongest bonds have been inflamed against one another by the fiercest

passions. Surely negotiation and concession should be carried to the very

last conceivable point before men “go up and fight against their brethren.”

But it may be said that the words point to:

 

  • THE WRONGNESS OF ALL WAR THAT IS ANYWISE AVOIDABLE.

And so, indeed, they do. For are we not all brethren? are we not all

members one of another”? Are we not, whatever our nationality

may be, children of the same heavenly Father, possessors of the same

spiritual nature, fellow-sufferers from the same great spiritual malady,

fellow-strugglers against the same spiritual foes, fellow-travelers to the

same solemn future? May we not all be the redeemed of the same Divine

Saviour, workers in the same holy fields of usefulness, occupants of the

same heavenly home? Is it well that we who are brethren, that we who,

beneath our superficial distinctions, are so closely and deeply united to one

another, that we should be planning one another’s destruction, be rejoicing

in one another’s discomfiture, be exercising our utmost art and putting

forth our utmost skill to shed one another’s blood? To all those who would

enter lightly or needlessly into war, comes the strong and solemn

prohibition, “Ye shall not fight against your brethren.”

 

 

A Warlike Expedition Hindered (vs. 1-4)

 

  • THE KING’S ARMY.

 

Ø      Whence collected. From Judah and Benjamin, or that portion of the

latter which adhered to Judah.

 

Ø      Its place of rendezvous. Jerusalem, the metropolis of the southern kingdom.

It was intended that the king’s forces should proceed from the capital.

 

Ø      The number of its force. A hundred and eighty thousand men — a

contingent of the army of Judah.

 

Ø      The character of its soldiers. “Chosen men, which were warriors;”

picked veterans, because of the importance and difficulty of the expedition

upon which they were about to be dispatched.

 

Ø      The work for which it was designed. “To fight against Israel— against

the ten or nine and a half northern tribes who had lately belonged to the

same empire with them, and were still of the same race.

 

Ø      The ultimate aim of the expedition. To reduce Israel to subjection.

Politically viewed, it was not wrong to aim at the conquest of Israel; only

Rehoboam would have done well had he sat down calmly and considered

whether he was able, with the help of one or two tribes at most, to

overcome ten, with a population vastly larger and equally inured to war

with those acknowledging his sway (Luke 14:32). Religiously

examined, it is not so certain Rehoboam was pursuing a legitimate aim,

seeing that under him, no less than under his father, the unbroken empire

had forsaken Jehovah and declined into idolatries, which declension,

besides, was the primal cause of the disruption that had taken place.

 

  • JEHOVAH’S PROHIBITION.

 

Ø      Through whom conveyed. Shemaiah the man of God.” This prophet

appears to have belonged to Judah (ch. 12:15), and resided in

Jerusalem; unlike Ahijah, whose home was in Ephraim (I Kings 11:29).

 

Ø      To whom delivered. Rehoboam… King of Judah, and to all Israel in

Judah and Benjamin.” The Divine message was no doubt spoken in the

palace to the king and his princes, and through them published to the

assembled warriors.

 

Ø      In what terms issued.

 

o        A prohibition: “Ye shall not go up” upon this expedition, “nor fight

against your brethren;

 

o        a command: “Return every man to his house;” and

 

o        a reason: “For this thing is done of me,” saith the Lord. Thus to

Rehoboam by Shemaiah, as to Jeroboam through Ahijah, was the

intimation given that the disruption of the kingdom exactly accorded

with the Divine purpose.

 

Ø      How received. In submission and with obedience. Whether this prompt

compliance with Heaven’s will was due, on the part of Rehoboam, his

princes, and his army, to religion, humanity, or worldly policy, is not said

by the Chronicler. They may have felt it would be dangerous to fight

against God; or been touched by the consideration that the Israelites were,

after all, their brethren; or calculated that prudence would be the better

part of valor, seeing it was not self-evident they would succeed in their

enterprise.

 

  • LESSONS.

 

Ø      The sinfulness of war, especially of civil war.

Ø      The paramount authority of God in civil and political, no less than in

private and religious, affairs.

Ø      The presence of God’s finger in all social and national movements, in

the establishment and overthrow of kings, in the permitting or hindering

(as His wisdom determines) of civil strife, etc.

Ø      The wisdom of obeying God.

 

 

Wrought of God (v. 4)

 

“For this thing is done of me.” How much has God to do with the events

and issues of our life? Speaking in the idiom of the ancient Hebrew writers,

we should say — EVERYTHING!   Speaking after our modern fashion, we

should say — Much; and so much that we are altogether wrong and foolish

if we do not take it into account. The words of the text, together with the

context, suggest:

 

  • THAT GOD DOES MANY THINGS WHICH, ANTECEDENTLY,

WE SHOULD NOT EXPECT HE WOULD DO. Who would have

expected, apart from His own warnings, that He would bring about the

rupture in the kingdom of Israel? How very preferable, in many ways, does

it seem to us that that little kingdom should remain united and strong

instead of becoming divided and weak! We should have thought that the

Divine wisdom would devise some other punishment for Solomon’s

vain-gloriousness and defection, for Rehoboam’s childish folly, than that

which the text tells us was wrought of Him; there might have been, we should

say, some personal humiliation or some temporary national calamity from

which it would soon have revived. But so it was not to be. And though it may

yet remain inexplicable, it is certain that this rending of the kingdom in twain

was “of God.” In the history of our race, in the course of Christianity, we

have witnessed or have read of the same thing. Sometimes it has been in

the fate of institutions. God has let some prosper that we should have

expected Him to bring to ruin, and others He has allowed to perish that we

should have expected his interposition to save. And many times it has been

the lives of men!  How often have we wondered that the bad and baneful life

has not been shortened, that the noble and valuable life has not been

spared! How difficult it has been to believe that this thing and that thing

were “done of him”! Yet we know that the guilty do not live one day

longer than He permits, and we know that “precious in the sight of the Lord

is the death of his saints.” (Psalm 116:15)  We believe, though we cannot see,

that God’s hand is on all the springs of human life, that He is directing

everything, and that those issues which at the time, or long after the time,

seemed strange and deplorable, will prove to have been kind and wise and just.

 

  • THAT THE GUILTY SHOULD ASCRIBE TO HIM THE ISSUES

OF THEIR FOLLY. Rehoboam’s senseless behavior at Shechem had

obviously much to do with the political disaster that followed. Yet Divine

righteousness had so much to do with it that God said, “This thing is done

of me.” Crime, vice, folly, sin, work out their issues in:

 

Ø      poverty,

Ø      shame,

Ø      sorrow,

Ø      death.

 

The moralist stands over the fallen culprit and says, not untruly, “You have

brought this upon yourself; it is your own guilty hand that has brought you

to the ground.” Yet, with equal truth, and perhaps with greater wisdom and

kindness, the prophet of the Lord comes to him and says, “This end of evil

is of God; He has brought it about; it is the mark of His Divine displeasure;

it is a summons to another and a better course.”  Conversely, we may add:

 

  • THAT THE GOOD SHOULD, AND DO, ATTRIBUTE TO HIM

THE RESULTS OF THEIR ENDEAVORS. If it is the action of God’s

righteous laws, and in that way the working of His hand, that sin ends in

misery and ruin, so is it on the other side. It is the outworking of Divine

beneficence, it is the result of His wisdom and goodness, it is the

consequence of His action, direct and indirect, that:

 

Ø      the fields are white unto the harvest,

Ø      the trees in the Master’s vineyard are bringing forth fruit,

Ø      the young people are growing up into wisdom and spiritual

 comeliness,

Ø      character is ripening for the heavenly garner, and, that

Ø      life is opening out into IMMORTALITY!

 

“This thing,” also, “is of Him.”

 

Vers. 5-12. These eight verses tell how Rehoboam, relieved of the

responsibility of attempting to reconquer the revolted, wisely betakes

himself to strengthening and defending what was left to him. He builds

fifteen “fenced cities,” or “cities for defense,” twelve of them south and

west of Jerusalem, for fear of Egypt; he fortifies certain strongholds,

officering them, provisioning them, and supplying to them and “every

several city” the necessary weapons of warfare and shields.

 

5 “And Rehoboam dwelt in Jerusalem, and built cities for defense in

Judah.” 6 “He built even Bethlehem, and Etam, and Tekoa,”

Bethlehem. This was a case not of actual new building of a

city, but of restoring and strengthening it. Bethlehem, originally Ephrath

(Genesis 35:16; 48:7), was one of the very oldest towns existent in

Jacob’s time. It was not called Bethlehem till long after the settlement of

the tribes. It was six miles from Jerusalem, on the east of the road to

Hebron. Etam. A place near Bethlehem (I Chronicles 4:3-4, not v. 32;

Septuagint of Joshua 15:60); possibly the resort of Samson after his

revenge on the Philistines (Judges 15:8, 11). It was not the Etam

mentioned as belonging to Simeon (I Chronicles 4:32). Tekoa.

According to Jerome, as also Eusebius, six Roman miles from Bethlehem,

and nine from Jerusalem, or else, possibly by another road, twelve

(Jerome’s ‘Pro-oemium in Amos,’ and his ‘Onomasticon’). It is absent

from the Hebrew catalogue of Judah towns (Joshua 15:49), but is in

the Septuagint Version of it. It was the place of the “wise woman” of

II Samuel 14:2.

 

7 “And Bethzur, and Shoco, and Adullam,  Beth-zur. About five miles

north of Hebron (see Joshua 15:58; I Chronicles 2:45; Nehemiah 3:16).

Shoco; properly, Socoh, in the Shefelah (Joshua 15:35). According to Jerome

and Eusebius, it was about nine miles from Eleutheropolis, on the road to

Jerusalem (see also I Samuel 17:1). Adullam. In the Shefelah (Joshua 15:35).  It

was an ancient place (Genesis 38:1, 12, 20; Joshua 12:15; Nehemiah 11:30).  See

also the familiar passages (I Samuel 22:1; II Samuel 23:13; I Chronicles 11:15).

 

8 “And Gath, and Mareshah, and Ziph,  Gath. Site still unknown. Some think

it may be the Gathrimmon of Dan (Joshua 19:45). Otherwise it is Gath of the

Philistines (Joshua 13:3; I Samuel 6:17), and of Goliath (I Samuel 17:4, 23).

I.L.P., in Dr. Smith’s ‘Bible Dictionary,’ 1:656, wishes to find it on a

hill now called Tel-es-Safleh, on one side of the Plain of Philistia, about ten

miles east of Ashdod and south — east of Ekron.  Other interesting references

are I Samuel 17:1, 52; 21:10; I Chronicles 18:1; here, ch. 26:6; I Kings 2:39;

II Kings  12:17; Amos 6:2. Mareshah. In the Shefelah (Joshua 15:44), now

Marash, a short distance south of Eleutheropolis. Zerah the Cushite came here

when he was invading Judaea (here, ch. 14:9. See also ch. 20:37; Micah 1:15).

It was taken by John Hyreanus, B.C. 110, and was demolished by the Parthians,

B.C. 39. Ziph. Probably the present Tel-Lif, a little south-east of Hebron

(Joshua 15:24,55.  See also I Samuel 23:14-24; 26:2).

 

9 “And Adoraim, and Lachish, and Azekah,”

Adoraim. This name is not found anywhere else. The meaning

of the word is “two heaps,” and very probably describes the physical

features of the site. It is probably the modern Dura. Its site is otherwise

unknown. Lachish (see Joshua 15:39; also 10:3; 12:11); probably the

modern Um Lakis, that lies on the road to Gaza. Other interesting

references are II Kings 14:19; 18:14-17; 19:8; Nehemiah 11:30; Micah 1:13.

Azekha (see Joshua 15:35; also 10:10); it was in the Shefelah (see also

I Samuel 17:1; Nehemiah 11:30; Jeremiah  34:7). The site of it is not identified.

 

10 “And Zorah, and Aijalon, and Hebron, which are in Judah and in

Benjamin fenced cities.” 11 “And he fortified the strong holds, and put

captains in them, and store of victual, and of oil and wine.”

Zorah. The people of Zorah, or Zoreah, were the Zareathites

of I Chronicles 2:53; it was the home of Manoah, and the native place

of Samson (see Joshua 15:33; 19:41. Other interesting references are

Judges 13:25; 16:31; 18:2-11; Nehemiah 11:29). It belonged to the

original allotment of Dan, and is constantly named in company with

Eshtaol. Aijalon. The modern Jalo; also originally belonged to allotment

of Dan (Joshua 10:12; 19:42; 21:24. Other interesting references are

Judges 1:35; I Samuel 14:31; I Kings 14:30; I Chronicles 6:66, 69, here,

ch. 28:18). Hebron. One of the most ancient of cities still lasting, rivaling in

this respect Damascus. It belonged to Judah and to its hill country (Joshua

15:54; 20:7); it was about twenty Roman miles south of Jerusalem. Its original

name was Kirjath-Arba. In Numbers 13:22 it is said that it was built “seven years

 before Zoan in Egypt,” but it is not said when Zoan was built. It now contains

about five thousand population, but scarcely a tithe of them Jews. Its long stretch

of history is full of incidents of interest, and is partially illustrated by the

references that follow:  Genesis 13:18; 23:2-19-20; 35:27; 37:14;

Numbers 13:22-23; Joshua 10:36; 14:6-15; 15:13-14; 21:11-13;

II Samuel 4:12; 5:5; Nehemiah 11:25.

 

12 “And in every several city he put shields and spears, and made them

exceeding strong, having Judah and Benjamin on his side.”

Having Judah and Benjamin on his side. The mention of both tribes just

serves to point for us the fact that Benjamin’s existence and value were not

absolutely ignored, but were for a short while quoted before the kingdom of

Rehoboam became called by the name of Judah simply.

 

13 “And the priests and the Levites that were in all Israel resorted to

him out of all their coasts.”  The emphasis thrown into the contents of

this verse is evident and agreeable; the ecclesiastical party acted worthily of

itself. The priests and Levites could not bring themselves to offer sacrifice

and service to the calves, or to forsake Jerusalem and the temple and the

true altar. No doubt a stirring, throbbing history underlay the few but

suggestive words which point here the conduct of the priests and Levites.

These would not content to stand shoulder to shoulder with priests made

not from the tribe of Levi (I Kings 12:31).

 

14 “For the Levites left their suburbs and their possession, and came to

Judah and Jerusalem: for Jeroboam and his sons had cast them off

from executing the priest’s office unto the LORD:”  Left their suburbs

(so Leviticus 25:34; Numbers 35:1, 3, 7; Joshua 14:4; 21:12). Jeroboam…

had east them off. This glimpse reveals to us, with exceeding probability,

that there had been some struggle on the solemn matter; we may readily

imagine that Jeroboam had either tried it on in vain with the true priests and

Levites, or had learned very conclusively beforehand that it would be vain

to try it on (ch. 13:9).

 

15 “And he ordained him priests for the high places, and for the devils,

and for the calves which he had made.” The high places; i.e. Dan and Bethel

(I Kings 12:28-33).  For the devils; i.e. for the “hairy ones” (שְׂעִירִים). Reference

is intended to the idolatrous worship of the “he-goats” by the Hebrews, after the

example of Egypt, and the reference here is either literal or derived

(Leviticus 17:7). For the calves (see I Kings 12:28).

 

16 “And after them out of all the tribes of Israel such as set their hearts

to seek the LORD God of Israel came to Jerusalem, to sacrifice

unto the LORD God of their fathers.”  this shows a good example on the part

of the clergy, effectual, and followed by the people.

 

17 “So they strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and made Rehoboam

the son of Solomon strong, three years: for three years they walked

in the way of David and Solomon.”  Strengthened… three years.

“Righteousness exalteth a nation, but, sin is a reproach to any people!

(Proverbs 14:34; Isaiah 33:6). The sad knell is sounded all too soon; see first

verse of the next chapter. Three years’ strength will soon become weakness

(without God), and three years’ goodness will save no soul.  (Rehoboam

reigned seventeen years, apparently three for the Lord and fourteen for the

devil.  Close to 18% of his life for God and over 82% for the devil!  I wonder

how the statistics of your and my lives stack up?  See Ezekiel 18:24 – CY – 2016)

 

 

The Strengthening of a Kingdom (vs. 5-17)

 

  • THE ERECTION OF FORTRESSES (vs. 5-12.)

 

Ø      Their object. To defend the frontiers of the kingdom, against both Israel

on the north and Egypt on the south, for which last special need existed,

considering the friendly relations which had subsisted between Jeroboam

and Shishak. Shishak’s invasion, which soon followed, showed

Rehoboam’s apprehensions not to have been baseless. Though wars are

seldom justifiable, it is never wrong or unwise on the part of a prudent

monarch to consult for the protection of his country and people.

 

2. Their names.

 

o        In the land of Judah.

 

§         On the southern frontier: Bethlehem, mentioned in Jacob’s time

(Genesis 35:19), two hours south of Jerusalem, the birthplace of

David and of Christ (I Samuel 16:1; Micah 5:1; Matthew 2:5,11),

now Beit-Lahm. Etam, a town probably between Bethlehem and

Tekoa, the present village Urtas, south of Bethlehem, near which

is the spring called ‘Ain Atan. Tekoa, now Tekua, “on the summit

of a hill covered with ancient ruins, two hours south of Bethlehem

(Keil). Beth-zur (Joshua 15:58), a town on the watershed, identified

with the modern Beth-sur, a ruin midway between Urtas and Hebron.

 

§         On the western boundary towards the Philistines: Soco (Joshua

15:35), the present Shuweike in Wady Sumt, three hours and a half

southwest from Jerusalem. Adullam (ibid.), a very old Canaanitish

town, that lay in the so-called Shephelah, or lowland, of Judah,

probably to be identified with the present Deir Dubban, two hours

north of Eleutheropolis. Gath one of the five chief towns of the

Philistines (Joshua 13:3), first subjected to the Israelites by David

(I Chronicles 18:1), and under Solomon ruled by its own king, who

paid tribute to the Israelitish throne (I  Kings 2:39); according to

theOnomasticon,’ situated five Roman miles from Eleutheropolis,

on the road to Diospolis; otherwise not yet identified, though

Conder looks for it in the direction of Tell-es-Safi. Mareshah

(Joshua 15:44), near to which Asa defeated the Ethiopian king

Zerah (ch. 14:9), according to Eusebius, lay two Roman miles

from, and in all probability is to be sought for in, the ruin Merash,

twenty-four minutes south of Beit Jibrin (Eleu-theropolis). Adoram,

shortened into Dora (Josephus, ‘Ant.,’ 14:5.3), is the present-day

Dura, a village seven miles and a half west of Hebron, surrounded

by olive-groves and corn-fields (Robinson). Lachish, in the lowland

of Judah (Joshua 15:39), is probably the present ruin Lakis, three

miles west-south-west from Beit Jibrin, situated “on a circular

height covered with ancient walls and marble fragments, and

overgrown with thistles and bushes” (Robinson, Ritter, Keil;

Pressel in Herzog, 8:157; Reihm, 1:876), though Conder prefers

to find it in Tell-el-hesy, near Egion.  Azekah (Joshua 15:35),

east of Ephes-dammim (I Samuel 17:1), has not been discovered.

 

§         On the border of the Edomites: Hebron, originally Kirjath-arba,

i.e. the city of Arba, “a great man among the Anakims (Joshua

14:15; 15:13; 21:11), afterwards a settlement of the patriarchs

(Genesis 23:2; 35:27), now called El-Khalil, “the friend of God,”

in the hill country of Judah, seven hours from Jerusalem, one of

the oldest towns of which we possess knowledge, having been

built seven years before Zoan in Egypt(Numbers 13:22).

Ziph, probably in the hill country of Judah (Joshua 15:55),

to be looked for in the present ruin Tall Ziph, an hour

and a quarter south-east of Hebron.

 

o        In the land of Benjamin, as a protection against the north. Zorah

(Joshua 15:33), not Samson’s birthplace (Judges 13:2), represented

by the ruin Sura, ten Roman miles from Eleutheropolis, on the road to

Nicopolis, but a place lying on a high peak of the northern slope of the

Wadi-Serar. Aijalon, the present village of Jalo, on the verge of the

plain Merj-ibn-Omeir, four leagues west of Gibeon. These last-named

towns belonged originally to Dan, but after the disruption of the

kingdom they appear to have fallen to the tribe of Benjamin.

 

Ø      The equipment of these strongholds. Captains were appointed,

provisions laid up, and shields and spears stored up in every city (v. 11).

 

  • THE REFORMATION OF RELIGION (vs. 13-17.)

 

Ø      The priests and Levites out of all Israel returned to the temple. The

occasion of this falling away from Jeroboam was that he and his sons had

practically renounced the religion of Jehovah, had set up “high places” of

his own in Dan and Bethel, where Jehovah was worshipped in the form of

two ox-images, or golden calves, in imitation, most likely, of the images

of Apis and Mnevis in Egypt, or of the “calf” made by Aaron in the

wilderness, the notion of which doubtless was also borrowed from Egypt

(I Kings 12:28). These calves and other images of animals the

Chronicler calls sheerim (Hebrew), “devils” (Authorized Version),

“he-goats” or “satyrs” (Revised Version), after which the Israelites had

gone awhoring in Egypt (Joshua 24:14), and even in the wilderness

(Leviticus 17:7; Amos 5:25-26). “In later times they appear to have

connected with it [this worship] notions of goblins, in the form of goats,

who haunted the wilderness and laid in wait for women” (Gerlach).

Jeroboam, then, having set up this rival form of worship, had no further

use for the regularly ordained priests and Levites, unless they would

conform to the new cultus; and because they would not, he cast them

out from their offices and would no more allow them “to sacrifice unto

the Lord.” It says a good deal for their conscientiousness and courage that,

rather than renounce what they believed to be the true religion, or worship

God otherwise than according to their consciences, they cheerfully

abandoned “their suburbs and possession” — in modern phraseology,

their residences and emoluments; Scottice, their manses and glebes. They

were the first nonconformists in the northern kingdom.

 

Ø      The pious worshippers of Jehovah out o/ all Israel returned to

Jerusalem. These are described:

 

o        By their characters. “Such as set their hearts to seek the Lord God

of Israel.” The essence of all religion is “to seek the Lord God of

Israel,” in whose favor is life, and whose “loving-kindness is better

than life” (Psalm 30:5; 63:3), the knowledge of whom is also

life eternal (John 17:2). Nor can God be sought unless with the heart

as distinguished from the mind, and with the whole as contrasted with

a divided heart (ch. 15:12; Psalm 119:2, 10; Jeremiah 29:13). And

even this is impossible without determination, energy, and

perseverance on the part of him who desires to be religious

(Psalm 9:1; II Kings 10:31 Acts 11:23).

 

o        By their worship. They “came to Jerusalem to sacrifice unto the

Lord God of their fathers.” True religion cannot subsist alongside

of false worship. A serious mistake it is to suppose that any form

of expression will suffice as an outlet for pious feeling. God must

be approached and served in the way and through the forms He has

Himself prescribed.

 

Ø      Rehoboam and his princes returned to the service of Jehovah.

 

o        Their reformation was probably sincere so far as it went. But

it did not go far enough. They did not abandon entirely the

idol-worship of Solomon, but conjoined with it the service of

Jehovah.

o        it was of short duration, lasting only three years (v. 17), i.e. so

long as the fright of invasion was on them, but disappearing

when all fear on that score was at an end (ch. 12:1).

 

  • LEARN:

 

Ø      The worthlessness to a kingdom of fortresses without religion.

Ø      The worthlessness to a person of religion without sincerity and

truth.

Ø      The worthlessness to a state of a king without GOD!

Ø      The worthlessness to either state or individual of goodness

that is not PERMANENT!

 

18 “And Rehoboam took him Mahalath the daughter of Jerimoth the

son of David to wife, and Abihail the daughter of Eliab the son ofJesse;”

The ‘Speaker’s Commentary’ opportunely suggests the probability that we may

be indebted here to Iddo’s “genealogies” (ch. 12:15). The word daughter here

is a correction of the Keri, the Chethiv having been “son,” This Jerimoth is the

seventh out of a list of eight men of the same name mentioned in the two books

of Chronicles. He is not given as one of the children of David’s proper wives in

either I Chronicles 3:1-8 or 14:4-7; Jerome says it was the Jewish tradition that he

was the son of a concubine of David. It is just possible that Jerimoth and

Ithream were two names of the same person. Abihail was second cousin

of Mahalath. It is not quite clear whether Abihail were wife of Jerimoth and

mother of Mahalath, or a second wife now mentioned of Rehoboam. The

contents of the next verse not differencing the children there mentioned,

and assigning her own to each wife of Rehoboam, if these were two wives

of his, favors the former supposition (our Hebrew text being “and she

bare,” not “which bare”). When it is said that Abthail was the daughter of

Eliab, the meaning probably is, as again in v. 20, granddaughter. (For

Eiiab, see I Samuel 16:6; 17:13; I Chronicles 2:13.)

 

 

Fidelity to Conscience (v. 13-18)

 

This migration of priests and people from the other tribes of Israel to Judah

and Jerusalem was a serious event in the history of the people of God, and

it presents a striking and suggestive spectacle to all time. It is an early

illustration of fidelity to conscience.

 

  • THE SEVERITY OF THE STRUGGLE. These servants of Jehovah,

priests and people, had to triumph over great obstacles in order to take the

step on which they decided. They had:

 

Ø      To set at naught the commandments of the king. This was a more

serious thing then than it would be now; it meant more rebelliousness in

action, and it involved more danger to the person.

 

Ø      To cut themselves adrift from old and sacred associations. They had to

forsake their neighbors and (many of them, no doubt) their relatives;

many had to leave their vocation or, at any rate, its exercise in familiar

spots and among old and early acquaintances; they had to make little of

those sentiments of which it is in our human heart to make much.

 

Ø      To sacrifice material advantages. Of the Levites we read that they “left

their suburbs and their possession” (v. 14); and we may be sure that

those who were not Levites, and who, consequently, would have a much

greater interest in the occupancy and holding of the land (Deuteronomy

10:9), made still greater sacrifices than they. The families must have gone

forth “not knowing the things that would befall them,” but knowing that

they would encounter serious loss and discomfort, and would miss much

which they had been accustomed to possess and to enjoy.

 

  • THE WISDOM OF THEIR CHOICE.

 

Ø      They pleased God. God would accept and honor their fidelity, which

was an act of faithfulness and obedience to Himself.

 

Ø      They retained their self-respect. This they would not have done if they

had conformed to the false rites which Jeroboam had instituted and on

which he was insisting; in that case they would have sunk far and fast

spiritually, and would soon have lost all hold upon the truth. For we cannot

dishonor the truth in the eyes of men and retain our own appreciation of it.

 

Ø      They took a course which ennobled them — a course by which they not

only became entitled to the honor of their countrymen, but by which they

committed themselves definitely to the service of God and confirmed their

own faith in Him. They did that for which their children and their children’s

children would “call them blessed” and noble.

 

Ø      They added materially to the strength of the kingdom which bore witness

to the truth (v. 17), and helped to make durable its godly institutions.

 

Ø      They became located where they could take part in the worship of God

according to the requirements of their own conscience. Setting their hearts

to seek the Lord God of Israel, they came where they could “sacrifice unto

the Lord God of their fathers” (v. 16). They lost much temporal, but they

gained much spiritual advantage. They sowed “not to the flesh, but to the

Spirit.” They left houses of brick behind them, but they came where they

could build up the house of a holy character, of a noble and useful life.

There are those in Christian lands who do not likewise, but otherwise. For

some temporal considerations they leave the home where there is

everything to illumine the mind and enlarge the spirit and enrich the soul,

and go where all this is ABSENT!   Doubtless the removal from one town to

another is an action in which many motives may and should have their

force, but let spiritual considerations have a great weight in the balance.

 

19 “Which bare him children; Jeush, and Shamariah, and Zaham.”

(See last note.) If previous verse speaks of two wives of

Rehoboam, of which wife (our Hebrew text being not “which bare,” but

and she bare”) were Jeush, Shamariah, and Zaham the children? or of

which respectively, if they express the children of both? As the words now

stand, it can only be supposed, with all lexicons, that Abihail is mother of

the three children on the two-wife supposition.

 

20 “And after her he took Maachah the daughter of Absalom; which

bare him Abijah, and Attai, and Ziza, and Shelomith.”

Maachah was the granddaughter of Absalom by his daughter

Tamar, wife of Uriel (ch. 13:2; I Kings 15:2).

 

21 “And Rehoboam loved Maachah the daughter of Absalom above all

his wives and his concubines: (for he took eighteen wives, and threescore

concubines; and begat twenty and eight sons, and threescore daughters.)”

Rehoboam was clearly wrong by Deuteronomy 17:17 (note Solomon’s Song 6:8).

 

22 “And Rehoboam made Abijah the son of Maachah the chief, to be

ruler among his brethren: for he thought to make him king.”

Cancel in this verse the italics “to be.” Rehoboam again offends against

the “Law” (see Deuteronomy 21:15-17). He cannot justly plead as a

precedent the instance of David and Solomon, as in I Chronicles 23:1;

for this was only justified by the express Divine ordinance, as in

ibid. v. 9, ch. 29:1.

 

23 “And he dealt wisely, and dispersed of all his children throughout

all the countries of Judah and Benjamin, unto every fenced city:

and he gave them victual in abundance. And he desired many wives.”

The wise dealing of Rehoboam, fourfold (weakening his children by division,

giving them each employment, giving them also abundance of victual, and —

as is probably the meaning, though not said so either here or in the Septuagint —

finding for them many wives), will not, though it were forty-fold, avail to cover

his “despising” of the “Law.”  Rather his wise dealing is an indication that

his conscience was not quite at ease, and that he knew he was wrong. Nothing

is so liable to blind judgment as personal affection.

 

 

The Discipline that Resulted in Obedience,

      Accompanied with Right and Earnest Endeavour

    (vs. 1-4, 5-17, 23)

 

The homiletic treatment of this chapter centers around two suggestions:

 

  • THE SIMPLE AND PROMPT OBEDIENCE OF REHOBOAM, IN

CERTAIN RESPECTS, TO THE DIVINE MESSAGE OF PROHIBITION.

Of which obedience on the part of Rehoboam we may notice:

 

Ø      That it compared favorably with the conduct of those who, being

bidden and encouraged in every way to go up to war, and to possess a

certain goodly land, refused; and, being commanded not to go up, insisted

on going (Deuteronomy 1:26, 43), to their discomfiture and defeat.

 

Ø      That the mere pride of war must have gone far to make such obedience

difficult.

 

Ø      That the pride of earnest desire to undo, if possible, his

own mischievous doing, and to restore a united nation, must have

contributed still further to the difficulty of that obedience.

 

Ø      And it is very possible that a sensitive shame in the presence of those

young counselors who had helped to mislead him, but who for certain

never offered to help bear the blame of the consequences, may have added

some contribution to the difficulty of obedience. Yet Rehoboam’s

obedience was apparently prompt and unquestioning. Terrible recent

experience had not been thrown away, but had so far gained some wisdom

for him. And the prophet’s distinct announcement that the Lord had

recognized and adopted the situation as one for his intervening and

overruling providence, must have lent consolation to a truly penitent

disposition, saved from remorse had there been tendency thereto, while in

no way palliating the sin of either king or people.

 

  • THE EARNEST AND RIGHT ENDEAVORS OF REHOBOAM

TO SHEPHERD ALL THE BETTER HIS LESSER FLOCK, HIS

REDUCED KINGDOM. This was witnessed to in three leading and typical

directions.

 

Ø      Rehoboam uses all the means of an outward kind that may strengthen

the things that remain.  (Revelation 3:2)  Cities, and fences, and strongholds,

and forts, and stores of food, and all armor are seen to and supplied.

 

Ø      It was of deeper significance that he received only too gladly, welcomed

out of a true faith then at least, all the priests and Levites who found

indeed that Israel was not the place and Jeroboam not the master for

them. To have the recognition of religion, the faith of religion, the presence

of the practical ministries and ministers of religion, is the salt of the earth,

the health of a people, the conserving of the soundness of civil society. Sin,

and a grievous tale of it, were the woe of even Judah; but its core was

never quite unsound, and its perpetuity was never broken; while rottenness

was the very core of Israel, and Jeroboam and their staff WAS TO

BE BROKEN ABSOLUTELY!

 

Ø      The true, the devout, the pious of the country, those who “set their

hearts to seek the Lord God, were likewise received and welcomed at the

true altar, at Jerusalem the city of the great King, with their sacrifices and

offerings, renewing in the steps of their priests and ministers. We can

imagine them pouring up to the city of their solemnities, like the regular

health-bringing waters of some tidal river for Judah, who often mourned

and was desolate and bereaved; but for themselves, to the drawing of fresh

spiritual life, deeper faith, added strength of hope, kindled joy and love, as

they offered their sacrifices, paid their vows, and frequented their temple.

People and king were strengthened, as thus “they walked in the way of

David and Solomon.” We could wish it were written without the ominous,

ill-sounding qualification of “three years.” These things are certainly very

observable of Rehoboam at this time, that a remarkable change had come

over, not the spirit of his dream, but of his real working life. We hear no

more of his young counselors. They had been found out, and now were no

longer clung to, even as “favorites” to whom royalty iniquitously insisted

on showing partiality. We recognize no further indications of the hectoring

and insolent spirit in which Rehoboam had allowed himself to answer the

not unreasonable representations of those who had addressed him on the

subject of lightening their acknowledged burdens. We learn of his desire

and the beginning of his preparation to attempt to recover the nevertheless

irrecoverable. He is divinely prohibited, and that, no doubt, to the saving of

greater harm. He acquiesces in the prohibition, and with intensified zeal

applies himself to the care of his diminished dominions. He would defend

them from outer assault; and they are also the resort and the refuge and the

religious home they should be, for all the upright in all the land. From our

sight in this one chapter Rehoboam vanishes, emulating steadily for three

years the best portions of the examples of his fathers David and Solomon.

Unhappily, the end was not yet.

 

 

A Royal Polygamist (vs. 18-23)

 

  • REHOBOAM’S WIVES.

 

Ø      The number of them. In all eighteen wives and sixty concubines.

Solomon had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred

concubines (I Kings 11:3). David even had more wives and concubines

than was good for him (II Samuel 3:2-5; 5:13; 12:8). Oriental monarchs

generally had well-filled harems. Rameses II. had a hundred and nineteen

children (sixty sons and fifty-nine daughters), “which gives ground for

supposing a great number of concubines, besides his lawful wives”

(Brugsch, vol. 2. p. 115). Polygamy was also permitted to, and practiced

by, the monarchs of Assyria, whose palaces accordingly were guarded by a

whole army of eunuchs Sayce, ‘Assyria, its Princes, Priests, and People,’ p.

129).

 

Ø      The chief of them.

 

o        Mahalath, the daughter of David’s son Jerimoth,” who was

probably a son of one of David’s concubines, as Jerimoth is

wanting in the list of David’s sons (I Chronicles 3:1-8); Abihail,

the daughter of Eliab, the son of Jesse” (ibid. ch. 2:13), is not a

second wife of Rehoboam’s (Septuagint) as the words “which bare”

(v. 19) and “after her” (v. 20) show, but Mahalath’s mother, who

was thus David’s niece, as Mahalath’s father was David’s grandson.

Mahalath was probably the first wedded of Rehoboam’s spouses.

 

o        Maachah, the daughter of Absalom.” Called also Micaiah, the

daughter of Uriel of Gibeah (ch. 13:2), or of Abishalom (I Kings

15:2), Maachah was probably the daughter of Tamar, whose

husband was the above Uriel or Abishalom, and whose father was

Absalom (II Samuel 14:27). If Mahalath was the first of Rehoboam’s

wives, Maachah was the favorite, probably on account of beauty and

fascinating manners inherited from her grandfather (ibid. v. 25; ch.

15:6).

 

  • REHOBOAM’S CHILDREN.

 

Ø      The number of his sons. Twenty-eight, among whom were:

 

o        the sons of Mahalath, nowhere else mentioned, Jeush, Shamariah,

and Zaham,” men not distinguished for their own sakes, and hardly

worthy of further notice for their father’s sake; and

 

o        the sons of Maachah, Abijah, or Abijam (I Kings 15:1), and

Attai, and Ziza, and Shelomith,” of whom only the first emerged

from obscurity.  Rehoboam’s daughters are not named, but only

numbered. In those days woman had not attained the place which

was her due, and which has since been assigned her by Christianity.

 

Ø      The favorite amongst his sons. Abijah. Though not the firstborn,

Rehoboam designated him as successor to the throne, no doubt to the

injury and displeasure of the firstborn; but in doing so, if he obeyed not the

Law (Deuteronomy 21:16), he at least followed the example of David,

who preferred Bathsheba’s son Solomon to the throne, instead of his

firstborn, Amnon the son of Ahinoam the Jezreelitess. He also made

Abijah ruler among his brethren, set him at their head, appointed him

as governor over them in the various state offices they held, and entrusted

to him the crown treasures and the strongest cities (Josephus, ‘Ant.,’ 8:10. 1).

 

Ø      The treatment of his other sons. He “dealt wisely” with them.

 

o        He dispersed them abroad among the different garrison cities, giving

them commands in these, so that by their separation from one

another and their occupation with military duties they might have

neither time nor opportunity to conspire with Jeroboam, or any

other monarch, against Abijah or himself.

 

o        He provided for them abundant maintenance, i.e. a living suitable to

their princely rank, so that no temptation to discontent might assail

them.  Rehoboam probably knew that if his sons had their bellies

well filled their souls would be at ease.

 

o        He sought for them many wives. Whether these were chosen out of

the different districts where the sons held commands, in order to

bring his sons into closer connection with the inhabitants of the

same (Ewald, ‘History of Israel,’ vol. 4. p. 47), the certainty is

that the practice of polygamy in which he encouraged them

would not tend to increase their warlike energy.

 

  • LESSONS:

 

Ø      The misery as well as sin of polygamy, leading as it does to divided

affections and unjustifiable partialities.

 

Ø      The duty of dealing wisely with children, but not after the fashion

of Rehoboam.

 

 

Spiritual Admixture (vs. 18-23)

 

After reading the first fourteen verses of the last chapter (ch. 10.), we hardly expect

to come across the words, concerning Rehoboam, and he dealt wisely (v. 23).

But this king, though he could certainly be very foolish, was not all folly; like

most men, he was a spiritual admixture. We look at:

 

  • THE SINGULAR SPIRITUAL ADMIXTURE WE FIND IN HIM. The

account we have of him is not a long one; it is contained in two or three

short chapters, but in these we count seven wise and four foolish actions.

We find him (see above)very wise:

 

Ø      in taking time and in consulting others before giving an important

decision on a critical occasion;

Ø      in hearkening to and heeding the Divine prohibition of war (v. 4);

Ø      in fortifying and storing the strongholds on the frontier (vs. 5-12);

Ø      in welcoming to Judah the priests and people whom Jeroboam

had driven away;

Ø      in choosing so many of his wives from the stock of David and in

dispersing his sons about his small kingdom, where they could not

quarrel among themselves, but be of some service to him; and

Ø      in “walking in the way of David” (v. 17);

 

 

We find him most foolish in:

 

Ø      heeding the counsel of the young men;

Ø      sending his minister that “was over the tribute” amongst those who

were complaining bitterly of their taxation (ch. 10:18); 

very foolish indeed in “desiring many wives” (v. 23) and in

establishing so large a harem (v. 21); and in

Ø      departing from “the way of David” after three years of obedience.

 

·         THE SPIRITUAL ADMIXTURE THERE IS IN US. We find that

good men have:

 

Ø      Those virtues and failings which seem to go together. They have, as we

say, “the faults of their virtues.”

 

o        With much strength and earnestness goes severity in the judgment

of other people;

o        with much meekness goes inactivity;

o        with much vivacity and picturesqueness of style goes laxity,

if not unveraciousness (untruthfulness);

o        with much good-naturedness goes carelessness, etc.

 

Ø      Failings which do not naturally accompany virtues. Of some good man

whose general integrity we cordially acknowledge, whose excellency and

usefulness (perhaps) we even admire, we have to admit reluctantly that he

is very vain, or very proud, or very blunt, or very careless; or we have to

confess that there is some other defect in his character, perhaps more than

one shortcoming. In truth, we have to confront the truths, viz.:

 

o        That Christian character is an admixture. It is good not unmarked

with evil; it is rectitude not without some occasional swerving to the

right hand or to the left; it is rather an earnest aspiration or an honest

and devout endeavor than a complete attainment; it is a battle that will

end in victory, but it is not (yet) the victory; it is a race, and not the

runner clasping the goal and receiving the prize.

 

o        That it behoves us to take heed how we judge. One failing does not

unchristianize a character; it is what is in the depth, and not what is

on the surface, that decides our position; the “spirit we are of”

(Luke 9:55), and not the proprieties of behavior.

 

o        That we do well to consider how much alloy is mixed with the

pure gold of our own character.

 

 

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