Rehoboam succeeds and Jeroboam returns out of Egypt, ver. 1, 2.
The peoples petition to Rehoboam, and his answer, ver. 3 - 15.
Ten tribes revolt and make Jeroboam king, ver. 16 - 20.
God forbids Rehoboam to make war upon them, ver. 21 - 24.
Jeroboam sets up two golden calves, ver. 25 - 33.
1: Were come - Rehoboam did not call them thither, but went
thither, because the Israelites prevented him, and had pitched upon
that place, rather than upon Jerusalem, because it was most convenient
for all, being in the center of the kingdom; and because that being in the
potent tribe of Ephraim, they supposed there they might use that freedom
of speech, which they resolved to use, to get there grievances redressed.
So out of a thousand wives and concubines, he had but one son to bear his
name, and he a fool! Is not sin an ill way of building up a family?
3: They sent - When the people sent him word of Solomon's death,
they also sent a summons for him to come to Shechem. That the presence
and countenance of a man of so great interest and reputation, might lay
the greater obligation upon Rehoboam to grant them ease and relief.
4: Grievous - By heavy taxes and impositions, not only for the temple
and his magnificent buildings, but for the expenses of his numerous court,
and of so many wives and concubines. And Solomon having so grossly
forsaken God, it is no wonder if he oppressed the people.
7: This day - By complying with their desires, and condescending to
them for a season, till thou art better established in thy throne. They
use this expression, fore - seeing that some would dissuade him from this
course, as below the majesty of a prince. And answer - Thy service is not
hard, it is only a few good words, which it is as easy to give as bad ones.
8: Young men - So called, comparatively to the old men: otherwise
they were near forty years old.
10: Shall be thicker - Or rather, is thicker, and therefore stronger,
and more able to crush you, if you proceed in these mutinous demands,
than his loins, in which is the principal seat of strength.
15: From the Lord - Who gave up Rehoboam to so foolish and fatal
a mistake, and alienated the peoples affections from him; and ordered
all circumstances by his wise providence to that end.
16: In David - In David's family and son; we can expect no
benefit or relief from him, and therefore we renounce all commerce with
him, and subjection to him. They named David, rather than Rehoboam;
to signify, that they renounced not Rehoboam only, but all David's
family. Son of Jesse - So they call David in contempt; as if they had
said, Rehoboam hath no reason to carry himself with such pride and
contempt toward his people; for if we trace his original, it was as mean
and obscure as any of ours. To your tents - Let us forsake him, and go to
our own homes, there to consider, how to provide for ourselves.
17: Judah - The tribe of Judah; with those parts of the tribes of
Levi, and Simeon, and Benjamin, whose dwellings were within the
confines of Judah.
18: Sent Adoram - Probably to pursue the counsel which he had
resolved upon, to execute his office, and exact their tribute with
rigour and violence, if need were.
19: Rebelled - Their revolt was sinful, as they did not this in
compliance with God's counsel, but to gratify their own passions.
20: Was come - From Egypt; which was known to them before who
met at Shechem, and now by all the people. Was none - That is, no
24: From me - This event is from my counsel and providence,
to punish Solomon's apostasy.
25: Shechem - He repaired, and enlarged, and fortified it; for it had
been ruined long since, (Jdg 9:45). He might chuse it as a place both
auspicious, because here the foundation of his monarchy was laid; and
commodious, as being near the frontiers of his kingdom. Penuel - A place
beyond Jordan; to secure that part of his dominions.
26: Said, &c. - Reasoned within himself. The phrase discovers the
fountain of his error, that he did not consult with God, who had given
him the kingdom; as in all reason, and justice, and gratitude he should
have done: nor believed God's promise, (1Ki 11:38), but his own
27: Will turn - Which in itself might seem a prudent conjecture; for
this would give Rehoboam, and the priests, and Levites, the sure and
faithful friends of David's house, many opportunities of alienating
their minds from him, and reducing them to their former allegiance.
But considering God's providence, by which the hearts of all men, and the
affairs of all kingdoms are governed, and of which he had lately seen so
eminent an instance; it was a foolish, as well as wicked course.
28: Calves - In imitation of Aaron's golden calf, and of the
Egyptians, from whom he was lately come. And this he the rather
presumed to do, because he knew the people of Israel were generally
prone to idolatry: and that Solomon's example had exceedingly
strengthened those inclinations; and therefore they were prepared for
such an attempt; especially, when his proposition tended to their own
ease, and safety, and profit, which he knew was much dearer to them, as well
as to himself, than their religion. Too much - Too great a trouble and
charge, and neither necessary, nor safe for them, as things now stood.
Behold thy gods - Not as if he thought to persuade the people, that these
calves were that very God of Israel, who brought them out of Egypt:
which was so monstrously absurd and ridiculous, that no Israelite in his
right wits could believe it, and had been so far from satisfying his people,
that this would have made him both hateful, and contemptible to them; but
his meaning was, that these Images were visible representations, by which he
designed to worship the true God of Israel, as appears, partly from that
parallel place, (Ex 32:4), partly, because the priests and worshippers
of the calves, are said to worship Jehovah; and upon that account, are
distinguished from those belonging to Baal, (1Ki 18:21,22:6,7),
and partly, from Jeroboam's design in this work, which was to quiet the
peoples minds, and remove their scruples about going to Jerusalem to
worship their God in that place, as they were commanded: which he doth, by
signifying to them, that he did not intend any alteration in the substance
of their religion; nor to draw them from the worship of the true God, to the
worship of any of those Baals, which were set up by Solomon; but to
worship that self - same God whom they worshipped in Jerusalem, even the
true God, who brought them out of Egypt; only to vary a circumstance:
and that as they worshipped God at Jerusalem, before one visible sign,
even the ark, and the sacred cherubim there; so his subjects should worship
God by another visible sign, even that of the calves, in other places; and
as for the change of the place, he might suggest to them, that God was
present in all places, where men with honest minds called upon him; that
before the temple was built, the best of kings, and prophets, and people,
did pray, and sacrifice to God in divers high places, without any scruple.
And that God would dispense with them also in that matter; because going to
Jerusalem was dangerous to them at this time; and God would have mercy,
rather than sacrifice.
29: Beth - el, &c. - Which two places he chose for his peoples
conveniency; Beth - el being in the southern, and Dan in the northern
parts of his kingdom.
30: A sin - That is, an occasion of great wickedness, not only of
idolatry, which is called sin by way of eminency; nor only of the
worship of the calves, wherein they pretended to worship the true God; but
also of the worship of Baal, and of the utter desertion of the true God;
and of all sorts of impiety. To Dan - Which is not here mentioned
exclusively, for they went also to Beth - el, ver.(1Ki 12:32-33), but for
other reasons, either because that of Dan was first made, the people in
those parts having been long leavened with idolatry, (Jdg 18:30), or to
shew the peoples readiness and zeal for idols; that those who lived in, or
near Beth - el, had not patience to stay 'till that calf was finished, but
all of them were forward to go as far as Dan, which was in the utmost
borders of the land, to worship an idol there; when it was thought too much
for them to go to Jerusalem to worship God.
31: An house - Houses, or chapels, besides the temples, which are
built at Dan and Beth - el; he built also for his peoples better
accommodation, lesser temples upon divers high places.
Of the lowest - Which he might do, either,
because the better sort refused it, or,
because such would be satisfied with mean allowances; and so he
could put into his own purse a great part of the revenues of the
Levites, which doubtless he seized upon when they forsook him,
and went to Jerusalem, (2Ch 11:13-14), or,
because mean persons would depend upon his favour, and therefore be
pliable to his humour, and firm to his interest, but the words in the
Hebrew properly signify, from the ends of the people; which
may be translated thus, out of all the people; promiscuously out
of every tribe. Which exposition seems to be confirmed by the
following words, added to explain these, which were not of the
sons of Levi; though they were not of the tribe of Levi.
And that indeed was Jeroboam's sin; not that he chose mean
persons, for some of the Levites were such; and his sin had not
been less, if he had chosen the noblest and greatest persons; as we
see in the example of Uzziah. But that he chose men of other
tribes, contrary to God's appointment, which restrained that office
to that tribe.
Levi - To whom that office was confined by God's express command.
32: A feast - The feast of tabernacles. So he would keep God's
feast, not in God's time, which was the fifteenth day of the seventh
month, and so onward, (Le 23:34), but on the fifteenth day of the
eighth month. And this alteration he made, either,
to keep up the difference between his subjects, and those of
Judah as by the differing manners, so by the distinct times of
their worship. Or,
lest he should seem directly to oppose the God of Israel,
(who had in a special manner obliged all the people to go up to
Jerusalem at that time,) by requiring their attendance to
celebrate the feast elsewhere, at the same time. Or,
to engage as many persons as possibly he could, to come to his feast;
which they would more willingly do when the feast at Jerusalem
was past and all the fruits of the earth were perfectly gathered in.
Fifteenth day - And so onward till the seven days ended. Like that in
Judah - He took his pattern thence, to shew, that he worshipped the same
God, and professed the same religion for substance, which they did:
howsoever he differed in circumstances. He offered - Either,
by his priests. Or, rather,
by his own hands; as appears from (1Ki 13:1,4), which he did,
to give the more countenance to his new - devised solemnity.
Nor is this strange; for he might plausibly think, that he who by his own
authority had made others priests might much more exercise a part of that
office; at least, upon an extraordinary occasion; in which case, he knew
David himself had done some things, which otherwise he might not do.
So he did - He himself did offer there in like manner, as he now had done
33: Devised - Which he appointed without any warrant from God.