1 Kings 12
King “J” of Israel
The people’s demand of the king1Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, went to Shechem in the northland so people in the northern tribes of Israel could meet him there to crown him king. 2Jeroboam son of Nebat heard about the coming ceremony. But he decided to stay in Egypt. He fled there earlier, while Solomon was alive and trying to kill him.
3Some of Israel’s leaders asked him to come, so he did. The group confronted Rehoboam with a demand: 4“Your father overworked and exploited us. Lighten up on us and we’ll do what you say.”
The king’s harsh answer5Rehoboam said, “Let me think about that. Give me three days, then come back and I’ll give you my answer.” So they left. 6Rehoboam met with older advisors who had worked for his father, Solomon. He asked them, “What should I tell these people?” 7They said, “Be gentle. Tell them what they need to hear. If you let them know you care about them, they’ll stay devoted to you for the rest of their lives.”
8Rehoboam didn’t like that advice, so he ignored it. He met with some of the young men he grew up with. They were part of his entourage of closer friends. 9He asked them, “What do you think I should tell these people who said my father overworked and exploited them?”
Solomon, the pinky finger king10The young advisors said, “Here’s what you should say: ‘Work? You call that work? You think my father was heavy-handed. Compared to my heavy hand, my father was a pinky finger. 11He gave you a lot of work. But I’ll give you more than ever. He beat you with ropes. Well, I’ll thread those ropes with chunks of sharp metal.’”
12As instructed, Jeroboam and the crowd of people went back to meet with Rehoboam on the third day. 13The king ignored advice from his older officials. He got harsh with the crowd. 14He took the advice of men his own age. He said what they told him to say: “Work? You call that work? My father gave you a lot of work. But I’ll give you more than ever. He beat you with ropes. Well, I’ll thread those ropes with chunks of metal.’”
15The LORD made sure the king talked sharply to the people. The LORD did this so Ahijah’s prediction  to Jeroboam several years earlier would come true.
People respond: David who?16When the people of Israel heard that, they were prepared with a response:
“What’s David to us?
Jesse’s son is nothing to us.
Israel, let’s go home.
David, mind your own business.” 
18King Rehoboam tried to conduct business as usual. He sent Adoniram, his official in charge of forced labor, to the north. He was supposed to bring back men he drafted for royal work projects. People up there stoned him to death. 19When Rehoboam got the news, he rushed to his chariot and raced back to the safety of Jerusalem’s city walls.
Jeroboam gets his kingdom20When news spread that Jeroboam had come back from Egypt, Israel’s leaders called him to a meeting and made him king over Israel.  All that was left of David’s family dynasty was the single tribe of Judah.
21Rehoboam, with help from Benjamin’s tribe, raised an army of 180,000  warriors. He was going to march them north and force the rebel tribes back into the Israelite union and restore the kingdom of Solomon’s son. 22A prophet stopped him: Shemaiah. God told the prophet: 23“I have a message I want you to give to Judah’s king, Rehoboam the son of Solomon, and to all the people in the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. 24Tell them, ‘This comes directly from the LORD. Do not go up north and fight your relatives in Israel. The nation split because I split it. Everyone, go home.’” So, they did.
King Jeroboam’s golden cattle25King Jeroboam built up Shechem  as his capital city, in the hills of Ephraim’s tribe. He did the same for the city of Peniel.
26Jeroboam said, “These tribes of Israel could very well reunite under a king from David’s family. 27If they continue their tradition of worshiping in Jerusalem, their hearts might draw them back to their legitimate king. If that happens, they’ll kill me first. And then King Rehoboam of Judah will welcome them back.”
28So, the king talked with his advisors about how to handle this problem. They agreed to create northern places for the people to worship. And they made two golden calves.  Jeroboam told the people, “Enough is enough. You’ve gone up to Jerusalem long enough. So, we’re bringing closer to home the gods who led you out of Egypt.”
29He put one golden calf in a shrine he set up at Bethel.  And he put another one in the far north, at Dan. 30The people of Israel worshiped at these shrines. It was a sinful thing to do. 32Jeroboam also built hilltop shrines throughout the land. And he appointed priests who were not from the tribe God had chosen for priests. God assigned men from the tribe of Levi—the Levites—to serve as priests for all the people.
33Jeroboam then created his own religious holiday, and then went to Bethel and burned incense to celebrate the day. He set the date late in the fall, on the fifteenth day of Bul, the eighth month on the Hebrew calendar. 
1 Kings 11:31.
The 10 northern tribes quoted an old saying that expressed their seething anger with Judah, the dominate tribe—the chosen tribe. A rebel in northern tribes had quoted these lines to King David, in hopes of convincing the northerners to separate from the union (2 Samuel 20:1). Instead, a northern woman arranged to separate the man from his head (2 Samuel 20:14-22). Their quote is the opposite of what the crowd said about David when Jesus, a descendant of David, rode a donkey into Jerusalem on what became Palm Sunday: “Save us, Son of David! Here comes the one God approved. Hallelujah to high heaven!” (Matthew 21:9).
Rehoboam’s kingdom of useable land shrunk to roughly a 40-mile square (65 km) plug of ground. He lost double that when the north walked away. And they took the fertile Jezreel Valley and the Galilee fields with them.
The meaning of Israel in the Bible is sometimes confusing. The word can mean all the Israelite ancestors of today’s Jewish people. Or it can mean all the Israelite tribes north of Judah—tribes later called the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. They got that name after Assyrian invaders from what is now northern Iraq defeated them and exiled them. They never came back in numbers large enough to resurrect the northern tribes and nation. They remained scattered.
Some manuscripts say 120,000. Some scholars say this number is symbolic of a strong fighting force, and not a literal body count.
Shechem was a sacred town located near the center of what became the nation of Israel. It’s roughly 60 miles (100 km) north of Jerusalem, about a three-day walk for folks in good health. It’s where God told Abraham, father of the Jewish people who were known in ancient times as Israelites, that he was giving this land to Abraham’s descendants. It’s also where Joshua convened a meeting with tribal leaders to renew their contract agreement with God and to again pledge their allegiance to God (Joshua 24).
Whoa Nellie. Did no one read the story of Aaron, the brother of Moses, creating a golden calf for the people to worship? A lot of people ended up dead because of it. Jeroboam seemed to know enough of the story to quote the people’s reaction to the idol: “Israel, this is your God, the one who brought you out of Egypt” (Exodus 32:4). He had just spent a few years in Egypt, and he may have chosen the calf for the same reason the Hebrews did. Egyptians worshiped calves and bulls for their power and strength. But some scholars speculate Aaron’s intention was not to build an idol of another god, but to build either a representation of the LORD, or perhaps something that would draw the LORD to the spot. Archaeologists have uncovered images of gods standing on the back of bulls. This apparently illustrated the god’s power—power enough to ride on the back of one of the strongest animals the people knew. So, some speculate Aaron built the golden calf as a pedestal, or a stage, on which the LORD would stand. There’s no indication that Jeroboam thought of anything other than saving his skin.
Bethel, today’s Beitin, is about 10 miles (15 km) north of Jerusalem—half a day’s walk. That’s where Jacob dreamed of a stairway to heaven and where God promised to “give this land that you’re resting on to you and your descendants” (Genesis 28:13.). He was father of the 12 sons whose families became the tribes of Israel. Bethel was also where Israelites later set up their tent worship center (Judges 20:27).
That puts the new festival in the month after the Festival of Temporary Shelters, as though piggybacking on something familiar to the people. The old festival is often called the Festival of Shelters or Festival of Booths—or Sukkot, among Jewish people today. This was the last harvest festival of the year. That’s when farmers harvested late-season crops such as grapes, figs, and olives (Exodus 23:16). The Hebrew word describing the festival, sukka, can mean tent, canopy, or temporary shelter. Moses said God wanted the Israelites to observe this festival by building temporary shelters and living in them for seven days “so you and your descendants will remember that the people of Israel I led out of Egyptian slavery once lived in shelters like this” (Leviticus 23:43).
- Sorry, there are currently no questions for this chapter.