Rehoboam traveled to Shechem where all Israel had gathered to inaugurate him as king.
Jeroboam had been in Egypt, where he had taken asylum from King Solomon; when he got the report of Solomon's death he had come back.
Rehoboam assembled Jeroboam and all the people. They said to Rehoboam,
"Your father made life hard for us - worked our fingers to the bone. Give us a break; lighten up on us and we'll willingly serve you."
"Give me three days to think it over, then come back," Rehoboam said.
King Rehoboam talked it over with the elders who had advised his father when he was alive: "What's your counsel? How do you suggest that I answer the people?"
They said, "If you will be a servant to this people, be considerate of their needs and respond with compassion, work things out with them, they'll end up doing anything for you."
But he rejected the counsel of the elders and asked the young men he'd grown up with who were now currying his favor,
"What do you think? What should I say to these people who are saying, 'Give us a break from your father's harsh ways - lighten up on us'?"
The young turks he'd grown up with said, "These people who complain, 'Your father was too hard on us; lighten up' - well, tell them this: 'My little finger is thicker than my father's waist.
If you think life under my father was hard, you haven't seen the half of it. My father thrashed you with whips; I'll beat you bloody with chains!'"
Three days later Jeroboam and the people showed up, just as Rehoboam had directed when he said, "Give me three days to think it over, then come back."
The king's answer was harsh and rude. He spurned the counsel of the elders
and went with the advice of the younger set, "If you think life under my father was hard, you haven't seen the half of it. My father thrashed you with whips; I'll beat you bloody with chains!"
Rehoboam turned a deaf ear to the people. God was behind all this, confirming the message that he had given to Jeroboam son of Nebat through Ahijah of Shiloh.
When all Israel realized that the king hadn't listened to a word they'd said, they stood up to him and said, Get lost, David! We've had it with you, son of Jesse! Let's get out of here, Israel, and fast! From now on, David, mind your own business.
But Rehoboam continued to rule those who lived in the towns of Judah.
When King Rehoboam next sent out Adoniram, head of the workforce, the Israelites ganged up on him, pelted him with stones, and killed him. King Rehoboam jumped in his chariot and fled to Jerusalem as fast as he could.
Israel has been in rebellion against the Davidic regime ever since. Jeroboam of Israel
When the word was out that Jeroboam was back and available, the assembled people invited him and inaugurated him king over all Israel. The only tribe left to the Davidic dynasty was Judah.
When Rehoboam got back to Jerusalem, he called up the men of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin, a hundred and eighty thousand of their best soldiers, to go to war against Israel and recover the kingdom for Rehoboam son of Solomon.
At this time the word of God came to Shemaiah, a man of God:
"Tell this to Rehoboam son of Solomon king of Judah, along with everyone in Judah and Benjamin and anyone else who is around:
This is God's word: Don't march out; don't fight against your brothers the Israelites; go back home, every last one of you; I'm in charge here." And they did it; they did what God said and went home.
Jeroboam made a fort at Shechem in the hills of Ephraim, and made that his headquarters. He also built a fort at Penuel.
But then Jeroboam thought, "It won't be long before the kingdom is reunited under David.
As soon as these people resume worship at The Temple of God in Jerusalem, they'll start thinking of Rehoboam king of Judah as their ruler. They'll then kill me and go back to King Rehoboam."
So the king came up with a plan: He made two golden calves. Then he announced, "It's too much trouble for you to go to Jerusalem to worship. Look at these - the gods who brought you out of Egypt!"
He put one calf in Bethel; the other he placed in Dan.
This was blatant sin. Think of it - people traveling all the way to Dan to worship a calf!
And that wasn't the end of it. Jeroboam built forbidden shrines all over the place and recruited priests from wherever he could find them, regardless of whether they were fit for the job or not.
To top it off, he created a holy New Year festival to be held on the fifteenth day of the eighth month to replace the one in Judah, complete with worship offered on the Altar at Bethel and sacrificing before the calves he had set up there. He staffed Bethel with priests from the local shrines he had made.
This was strictly his own idea to compete with the feast in Judah; and he carried it off with flair, a festival exclusively for Israel, Jeroboam himself leading the worship at the Altar.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)