The First Book of the Kings

Chapter 12

The Israelites, assembled at Shechem to crown Rehoboam, by Jeroboam make an appeal of relaxation to him, 1-5. Rehoboam, refusing the old men's counsel, answers them roughly, 6-15. Ten tribes revolt, kill Adoram, and make Rehoboam flee, 16-20. Rehoboam, raising an army, is forbidden by Shemaiah, 21-24. Jeroboam strengthens himself by cities, 25; and by the idolatry of the two calves, 26-33.

1 And Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had come to Shechem to make him king. 2 And it came to pass, when Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who was still in Egypt, heard of it (for he had fled from the presence of king Solomon, and Jeroboam dwelt in Egypt), 3 That they sent and called him. And Jeroboam and all the congregation of Israel came and spoke to Rehoboam, saying, 4 "Your father made our yoke grievous. Now therefore, lighten the grievous service of your father and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, and we will serve you." 5 And he said to them, "Depart for three days, then come back to me." And the people departed.

6 And king Rehoboam consulted with the old men who stood before Solomon his father while he still lived and said, "How do you advise that I may answer this people?" 7 And they spoke to him, saying, "If you will be a servant to this people this day and serve them, answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever." 8 But he forsook the counsel of the old men which they had given him and consulted with the young men who had grown up with him, and who stood before him. 9 And he said to them, "What counsel do you give that we may answer this people who have spoken to me, saying, 'Make the yoke which your father put upon us lighter'?" 10 And the young men who had grown up with him spoke to him, saying, "Thus shall you speak to this people who spoke to you, saying, 'Your father made our yoke heavy, but make it lighter for us.' Thus you shall say to them: 'My little finger shall be thicker than my father's loins. 11 And now whereas my father burdened you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father has chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.'"

12 So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king had appointed, saying, "Come to me again the third day." 13 And the king answered the people roughly and forsook the old men's counsel that they gave him, 14 And spoke to them after the counsel of the young men, saying, "My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke. My father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions." 15 Therefore, the king did not listen to the people, for the cause was from the LORD that he might perform his saying which the LORD spoke by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.

16 So when all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, saying, "What portion do we have in David? We do not have inheritance in the son of Jesse. To your tents, O Israel. Now see to your own house, David." So Israel departed to their tents.

17 But as for the children of Israel who dwelt in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them. 18 Then king Rehoboam sent Adoram, who was over the tribute. And all Israel stoned him with stones so that he died. Therefore, king Rehoboam made speed to enter his chariot to flee to Jerusalem. 19 So Israel rebelled against the house of David to this day.

20 And it came to pass when all Israel heard that Jeroboam had come back, that they sent and called him to the congregation and made him king over all Israel. There was none who followed the house of David, but the tribe of Judah only.

21 And when Rehoboam had come to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah with the tribe of Benjamin, one hundred and eighty thousand chosen men who were warriors, to fight against the house of Israel to bring the kingdom back to Rehoboam the son of Solomon. 22 But the word of God came to Shemaiah the man of God, saying, 23 "Speak to Rehoboam the son of Solomon king of Judah, to all the house of Judah and Benjamin, and to the remnant of the people, saying, 24 'Thus says the LORD: "You shall not go up, nor fight against your brothers the children of Israel. Everyone return to his house, for this thing is from me."'" They listened therefore to the word of the LORD and returned to depart, according to the word of the LORD.

25 Then Jeroboam built Shechem on mount Ephraim and dwelt in it, and went out from there and built Penuel. 26 And Jeroboam said in his heart, "Now the kingdom shall return to the house of David. 27 If this people goes up to perform sacrifice in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people shall turn back to their lord, even to Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me and return to Rehoboam king of Judah." 28 Upon this the king took counsel and made two calves of gold, and said to them, "It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Behold your gods, O Israel, which brought you out of the land of Egypt." 29 And he set one in Beth-el and the other he placed in Dan. 30 And this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one, even to Dan. 31 And he made a house of high places and made priests of the lowest of the people, who were not of the sons of Levi. 32 And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. Thus he did in Beth-el, sacrificing to the calves that he had made. And he placed in Beth-el the priests of the high places which he had made. 33 So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Beth-el the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart. And he ordained a feast to the children of Israel and he offered upon the altar and burned incense.


Matthew Henry Commentary - 1st Kings, Chapter 12[➚]


[v.2] - "he had fled from the presence of king Solomon" - 1st Kings 11:40.

[v.15] - "his saying, which the LORD spoke by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam" - Reference, 1st Kings 11:29-39.

[v.20] - "but the tribe of Judah only" - Reference, 1st Kings 11:13.

[v.31] - "who were not of the sons of Levi" - The priesthood was to be held solely by the Levites. This was commanded in God's law as told in Numbers 3:5-10. In fact, one of the books of the law is titled appropriately to show this very point. From Matthew Henry's Commentary: "We call the book Leviticus, from the Septuagint, because it contains the laws and ordinances of the levitical priesthood (as it is called, Hebrews 7:11), and the ministrations of it. The Levites were principally charged with these institutions, both to do their part and to teach the people theirs." See also, Numbers 18:1-7. Also note that Deuteronomy 18:1 (there are many other instances) calls the Levites, the priests.