Rehoboam went to Shechem, where all Israel had gathered to make him king.
When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard of Solomon's death, he returned from Egypt, for he had fled to Egypt to escape from King Solomon.
References for 1 Kings 12:2
The leaders of Israel sent for Jeroboam, and the whole assembly of Israel went to speak with Rehoboam.
"Your father was a hard master," they said. "Lighten the harsh labor demands and heavy taxes that your father imposed on us. Then we will be your loyal subjects."
Rehoboam replied, "Give me three days to think this over. Then come back for my answer." So the people went away.
Then King Rehoboam went to discuss the matter with the older men who had counseled his father, Solomon. "What is your advice?" he asked. "How should I answer these people?"
The older counselors replied, "If you are willing to serve the people today and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your loyal subjects."
But Rehoboam rejected the advice of the elders and instead asked the opinion of the young men who had grown up with him and who were now his advisers.
"What is your advice?" he asked them. "How should I answer these people who want me to lighten the burdens imposed by my father?"
The young men replied, "This is what you should tell those complainers: 'My little finger is thicker than my father's waist -- if you think he was hard on you, just wait and see what I'll be like!
Yes, my father was harsh on you, but I'll be even harsher! My father used whips on you, but I'll use scorpions!'"
Three days later, Jeroboam and all the people returned to hear Rehoboam's decision, just as the king had requested.
But Rehoboam spoke harshly to them, for he rejected the advice of the older counselors
and followed the counsel of his younger advisers. He told the people, "My father was harsh on you, but I'll be even harsher! My father used whips on you, but I'll use scorpions!"
So the king paid no attention to the people's demands. This turn of events was the will of the LORD, for it fulfilled the LORD's message to Jeroboam son of Nebat through the prophet Ahijah from Shiloh.
When all Israel realized that the king had rejected their request, they shouted, "Down with David and his dynasty! We have no share in Jesse's son! Let's go home, Israel! Look out for your own house, O David!" So the people of Israel returned home.
But Rehoboam continued to rule over the Israelites who lived in the towns of Judah.
King Rehoboam sent Adoniram, who was in charge of the labor force, to restore order, but all Israel stoned him to death. When this news reached King Rehoboam, he quickly jumped into his chariot and fled to Jerusalem.
References for 1 Kings 12:18
The northern tribes of Israel have refused to be ruled by a descendant of David to this day.
When the people of Israel learned of Jeroboam's return from Egypt, they called an assembly and made him king over all Israel. So only the tribe of Judah remained loyal to the family of David.
When Rehoboam arrived at Jerusalem, he mobilized the armies of Judah and Benjamin -- 180,000 select troops -- to fight against the army of Israel and to restore the kingdom to himself.
But God said to Shemaiah, the man of God,
"Say to Rehoboam son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all the people of Judah and Benjamin,
'This is what the LORD says: Do not fight against your relatives, the Israelites. Go back home, for what has happened is my doing!'" So they obeyed the message of the LORD and went home, as the LORD had commanded.
Jeroboam then built up the city of Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim, and it became his capital. Later he went and built up the town of Peniel.
References for 1 Kings 12:25
Jeroboam thought to himself, "Unless I am careful, the kingdom will return to the dynasty of David.
When they go to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices at the Temple of the LORD, they will again give their allegiance to King Rehoboam of Judah. They will kill me and make him their king instead."
So on the advice of his counselors, the king made two gold calves. He said to the people, "It is too much trouble for you to worship in Jerusalem. O Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of Egypt!"
He placed these calf idols at the southern and northern ends of Israel -- in Bethel and in Dan.
This became a great sin, for the people worshiped them, traveling even as far as Dan.
Jeroboam built shrines at the pagan high places and ordained priests from the rank and file of the people -- those who were not from the priestly tribe of Levi.
Jeroboam also instituted a religious festival in Bethel, held on a day in midautumn, similar to the annual Festival of Shelters in Judah. There at Bethel he himself offered sacrifices to the calves he had made. And it was at Bethel that he appointed priests for the pagan shrines he had made.
References for 1 Kings 12:32
So on the appointed day in midautumn, a day that he himself had designated, Jeroboam offered sacrifices on the altar at Bethel. He instituted a religious festival for Israel, and he went up to the altar to burn incense.