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.
rather many of them (vs. 5-12);
(vs. 13-17); and,
when Rehoboam was come to
house of Judah and Benjamin an hundred and fourscore thousand
chosen men, which were warriors, to fight against
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
Jeroboam (ch.10:16) had flung
house.” Rehoboam, of course, does this very thing. For the first time,formally,
Benjamin is now introduced
as throwing in its lot with
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
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
(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
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
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.
unto Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of
Benjamin. There is difference of opinion as to who are intended in the
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
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
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
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:
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)
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 sight of the armies of
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:
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)
Ø Whence collected. From
which adhered to
Ø Its place of rendezvous.
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
of the army of
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
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
viewed, it was not wrong to aim at the conquest of
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.
Ø Through whom conveyed. “Shemaiah the man of God.” This prophet
to have belonged to
Ø To whom delivered. “Rehoboam… King
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
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
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
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
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.
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:
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:
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
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
officering them, provisioning them, and supplying to them and “every
several city” the necessary weapons of warfare and shields.
5 “And Rehoboam dwelt in
city, but of restoring and strengthening it.
(Genesis 35:16; 48:7), was one of the very oldest towns existent in
Jacob’s time. It was not called
tribes. It was six miles from
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
(Jerome’s ‘Pro-oemium in Amos,’ and his ‘Onomasticon’). It is absent
from the Hebrew catalogue of
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
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
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).
may be the Gathrimmon of Dan (Joshua 19:45). Otherwise it is
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
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
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
(Joshua 15:24,55. See also I Samuel 23:14-24; 26:2).
9 “And Adoraim, and
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
modern Um Lakis, that lies on
the road to
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
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,
15:54; 20:7); it was about twenty Roman miles south of
name was Kirjath-Arba. In Numbers 13:22 it is said that it was built “seven years
before Zoan in
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
Rehoboam became called by the name of
the priests and the Levites that were in all
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
service to the calves, or to forsake
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
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
(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
(Leviticus 17:7). For the calves (see I Kings 12:28).
after them out of all the tribes of
to seek the LORD God of
unto the LORD God of their fathers.” this shows a good example on the part
of the clergy, effectual, and followed by the people.
they strengthened the
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)
Ø Their object. To defend
the frontiers of the kingdom, against both
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.
On the southern frontier:
two hours south of
David and of Christ (I Samuel 16:1; Micah 5:1; Matthew 2:5,11),
now Beit-Lahm. Etam, a town probably between
present village Urtas, south of
is the spring called ‘Ain Atan. Tekoa, now Tekua, “on the summit
of a hill
covered with ancient ruins, two hours south of
(Keil). Beth-zur (Joshua 15:58), a town on the watershed, identified
modern Beth-sur, a ruin midway between Urtas and
§ On the western boundary towards the Philistines: Soco (Joshua
15:35), the present Shuweike in Wady Sumt, three hours and a half
that lay in the so-called Shephelah, or lowland, of
probably to be identified with the present Deir Dubban, two hours
north of Eleutheropolis.
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
the ‘Onomasticon,’ 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,
into Dora (Josephus, ‘
a village seven miles and
a half west of
olive-groves and corn-fields (Robinson).
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:
the city of
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,”
hill country of
the oldest towns of which we possess knowledge, having been
“built seven years before Zoan in
Ziph, probably in the hill country of
to be looked for in the present ruin Tall Ziph, an hour
quarter south-east of
(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
plain Merj-ibn-Omeir, four leagues west of
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).
Ø The priests and Levites out of all
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
in Dan and
two ox-images, or golden calves, in imitation, most likely, of the images
of Apis and Mnevis in
the notion of which doubtless was also borrowed from
(I Kings 12:28). These calves and other images of animals the
Chronicler calls she’erim (Hebrew), “devils” (Authorized Version),
“he-goats” or “satyrs” (Revised Version), after which the Israelites had
gone awhoring in
(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.
The pious worshippers of Jehovah out o/
o By their characters. “Such as set their hearts to seek the Lord God
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).
By their worship. They “came to
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
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
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).
Ø The worthlessness to a kingdom of fortresses without religion.
Ø The worthlessness to a person of religion without sincerity and
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
it presents a striking and suggestive spectacle to all time. It is an early
illustration of fidelity to conscience.
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.
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
the Lord God of
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:
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
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.
TO SHEPHERD ALL THE BETTER HIS LESSER FLOCK, HIS
REDUCED KINGDOM. This was witnessed to in three leading and typical
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
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,
grievous tale of it, were the woe of even
never quite unsound, and its perpetuity was never broken; while rottenness
was the very core of
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
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)
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
army of eunuchs Sayce, ‘
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.
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
the crown treasures and the strongest cities (Josephus, ‘
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.
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
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:
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);
in welcoming to
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.
"Excerpted text Copyright AGES Library, LLC. All rights reserved.
Materials are reproduced by permission."
This material can be found at:
If this exposition is helpful, please share with others.