Rehoboam and Jeroboam 2 Chronicles 11
2 Chronicles 11:1-12 NLTse (1) When Rehoboam arrived at Jerusalem, he mobilized the men of Judah and Benjamin–180,000 select troops–to fight against Israel and to restore the kingdom to himself. (2) But the LORD said to Shemaiah, the man of God, (3) “Say to Rehoboam son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all the Israelites in Judah and Benjamin: (4) ‘This is what the LORD says: Do not fight against your relatives. Go back home, for what has happened is my doing!'” So they obeyed the message of the LORD and did not fight against Jeroboam. (5) Rehoboam remained in Jerusalem and fortified various towns for the defense of Judah. (6) He built up Bethlehem, Etam, Tekoa, (7) Beth-zur, Soco, Adullam, (8) Gath, Mareshah, Ziph, (9) Adoraim, Lachish, Azekah, (10) Zorah, Aijalon, and Hebron. These became the fortified towns of Judah and Benjamin. (11) Rehoboam strengthened their defenses and stationed commanders in them, and he stored supplies of food, olive oil, and wine. (12) He also put shields and spears in these towns as a further safety measure. So only Judah and Benjamin remained under his control.
I decided to skip a few chapters to get to the next chapter dealing with the temple, in this case the priesthood. 2 Chronicles chapter 9 covered Solomon’s death. The chapter is filled with Solomon’s major achievements, including details about his temple and throne. That chapter also covers some details about the queen of Sheba’s visit.
Take a look at 2 Chronicles chapter 9. It seems unusual for the life of one of the most popular Bible characters to be summed up by a story about meeting another woman, and the wealth he was able to accumulate. I would expect to see a more spiritually sided story about treasures stored in Heaven. What about people Solomon was able to reach, and help change? Where are the stories about kings and nations Solomon was able to introduce to God? It seems the final chapter on Solomon’s life was focused on his riches, and how those vast treasures attracted people. Maybe that is why some TV preachers have to spend all that money on elaborate settings, backgrounds, and churches to attract the right audiences. Are they taking a page out of Solomon’s life.
Imagine for a moment, a God who blessed Solomon with all those riches, then came to this world, and left it, without the shirt on His back. What a contrast to learn from. Now think for a moment about how Solomon could have used all those riches to make a difference in this world.
When was the last time we saw an American president sit down to discuss how God influenced their lives. When was the last time we saw a president tell America how God had a hand in decisions he made that shaped this world? Why don’t we hear stories like that? It seems to me, if we elected the best minds in this country to guide and lead this nation, they should be able to find a way of showing how God made a difference in their lives, and influenced decisions they made, without offending people. After all, wasn’t this nation originally designed to be led by a God fearing government? According to what we refer to as the Declaration of Independence it was.
“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”
What changed this country? When this country was first formed, God was at the center. Our first president gave God credit for some of the most unlikely military victories he was a major part of. Some of our earliest elected representatives didn’t have a problem with mentioning God.
Ezra Stiles (1727–1795), the Calvinist president of Yale College, was curious about Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790) and his faith. In 1790, he asked the nation’s senior statesman if he would commit his religious beliefs to paper. Franklin agreed. He was nearing the end of his life – he died six weeks later – and possibly believed this was as good a time as any to summarize the religious creed by which he lived.
“Here is my Creed,” Franklin wrote to Stiles. “I believe in one God, Creator of the Universe. That He governs it by His Providence. That he ought to be worshiped. That the most acceptable Service we render to him, is doing Good to his other Children. That the Soul of Man is immortal, and will be treated with Justice in another Life respecting its Conduct in this … As for Jesus of Nazareth … I think the system of Morals and Religion as he left them to us, the best the World ever saw … but I have … some Doubts to his Divinity; though’ it is a Question I do not dogmatism upon, having never studied it, and think it is needless to busy myself with it now, where I expect soon an Opportunity of knowing the Truth with less Trouble.” (Religion And Early Politics: Benjamin Franklin and His Religious Beliefs)
“It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.”
– George Washington (US History Quotes About God and the Bible)
The rights of the colonists as Christians…may be best understood by reading and carefully studying the institutes of the Great Law Giver and Head of the Christian Church, which are to be found clearly written and promulgated in the New Testament.
– Samuel Adams (US History Quotes About God and the Bible)
“Whilst we assert for ourselves a freedom to embrace, to profess, and to observe the religion which we believe to be of divine origin, we cannot deny an equal freedom to those whose minds have not yet yielded to the evidence which has convinced us. If this freedom be abused, it is an offense against God, not against man: To God therefore, not to men, must an account of it be rendered.” James Madison, Memorial and Remonstrance
We claim to be a more advanced society than previous generations, but can’t seem to find solutions to problems the founding fathers of this nation looked square in the eyes and confronted. Not with a wisdom of their own making, but with divine guidance. What happened to those days?
Solomon not only failed to reach out to other kings and nations, he failed to produce a son able to coop with issues. In one generation Israel went from a united God fearing nation, to a nation split by high taxes, and a kingdom only concerned with increasing revenue.
Rehoboam had opportunists to solve problems Solomon left him to deal with, but the king made a decision after consulting his advisers. Rehoboam didn’t like the first answer he received, so he chose a new group of advisers more to his liking. That was a mistake God had to deal with.
God chose Jeroboam to lead the ten northern tribes known as Israel. Solomon’s son Rehoboam was left with the remaining two tribes in the south. If money can’t solve your problems, maybe a strong military can. Rehoboam decided on a troop build up to not only protect his nation, but to restore it. But God sent a prophet to Rehoboam, putting an end to those plans for a time.
Rehoboam may have listened to God when the message was blunt and to the point, but not his father’s advisers when they confirmed God’s message. That left the message open to a private interpretation. Rehoboam went on a spending spree building up defenses and his military power. It seems like an oxymoron to loose the majority of your nation over money issues, then go on a spending spree. What do we learn from that lesson?
Choosing One Evil Over Another
2 Chronicles 11:13-17 NLTse (13) But all the priests and Levites living among the northern tribes of Israel sided with Rehoboam. (14) The Levites even abandoned their pasturelands and property and moved to Judah and Jerusalem, because Jeroboam and his sons would not allow them to serve the LORD as priests. (15) Jeroboam appointed his own priests to serve at the pagan shrines, where they worshiped the goat and calf idols he had made. (16) From all the tribes of Israel, those who sincerely wanted to worship the LORD, the God of Israel, followed the Levites to Jerusalem, where they could offer sacrifices to the LORD, the God of their ancestors. (17) This strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and for three years they supported Rehoboam son of Solomon, for during those years they faithfully followed in the footsteps of David and Solomon.
It seems people didn’t have much of a choice. They could either follow Jeroboam and the Egyptian forms of worship he brought back with him, or the tax tyrant in the southern kingdom. Taxes couldn’t have been much better in the north where Jeroboam was busy fortifying his own cities, building an army, appointing priests, and building new temples. That also cost money, that was raised through taxation.
The first people to move were the priests and Levites. That shows us, they did have some influence over the people. After they moved, others followed. Why didn’t they use their influence for good while the nation was still united? Why did it take a major event for those leaders to make a move? Of course, political changes were drastic at the time. They didn’t have much of a choice other than to move. But look at what it took for God to get them to wake up and do something.
Where are the stories about what those priests did for the kingdom? We don’t have a complete collection of everything everyone did in Israel before the nation was divided, but we should have a few records showing how some people helped shape the nation, if it was important enough to catch the attention of the author, and God.
For a time, people followed the footsteps left by David and Solomon, even though Solomon’s son seemed to stray. That shows how people are able to put up a religious front when their true god is self. Who was Rehoboam looking out for when he decided to raise taxes beyond what the people were able to bear? Solomon did little or nothing with the riches he had to extend God’s influence over this world. What did Rehoboam want more money for?
2 Chronicles 11:18-23 NLTse (18) Rehoboam married his cousin Mahalath, the daughter of David’s son Jerimoth and of Abihail, the daughter of Eliab son of Jesse. (19) Mahalath had three sons–Jeush, Shemariah, and Zaham. (20) Later Rehoboam married another cousin, Maacah, the daughter of Absalom. Maacah gave birth to Abijah, Attai, Ziza, and Shelomith. (21) Rehoboam loved Maacah more than any of his other wives and concubines. In all, he had eighteen wives and sixty concubines, and they gave birth to twenty-eight sons and sixty daughters. (22) Rehoboam appointed Maacah’s son Abijah as leader among the princes, making it clear that he would be the next king. (23) Rehoboam also wisely gave responsibilities to his other sons and stationed some of them in the fortified towns throughout the land of Judah and Benjamin. He provided them with generous provisions, and he found many wives for them.
Rehoboam seemed to like to keep things in the family. Not only the wives he married, but control of the kingdom. Were his sons the only people Rehoboam could trust? What kind of union does that show us? After collecting all that money, Rehoboam had to find a way of keeping it in the family. Why pay a stranger to do a job when you can hire family?
The entire scenario may seem perfectly normal to some people, and totally strange to other people. It all depends on how you look at it. Is government supposed to be run like a business? Some businesses are family owned, and very successful. Why not governments? It seems like people felt secure by keeping government control in the family. One king died, some committee chose one of the king’s sons to take the throne. Some countries went as far as writing rules for who would be next in line to take a throne. Other people think family run regimes are a bad idea. It all depends on where people come from.
Family run governments tend to be more popular in nations willing to allow the government to establish the national religion. We see that throughout scripture. This chapter is a story about people making a choice, not so much about politics, but religion. People chose between Rehoboam and Jeroboam based on their religious views. Not that people agreed with all their views, but on the religion they felt more aligned with their own ideas about God.
We don’t know if people agreed with Rehoboam’s choice in wives, or how many people agree with multiple wives. It seemed like a tradition with kings and important people, but how did the majority of the community view it?
What about housing a host of prostitutes with government funds? What do you think people thought about that? Was the average taxpayer okay with seeing the king pay for sex, and house prostitutes? What would people say about that today?
We see more than religion in this story. We see how we need to examine a number of details to see a small glimpse of what was happening. In this book I want to stick with subjects related to the temple. The situation and decision of those priests who woke up to find themselves in a foreign country are the main focus. At this time we don’t have a lot of information, but if we studied the history of the northern nation of Israel, we’d see how that exodus of priests effected that nation and its direction. We’ll cover a few of those details in later chapters.