1 Kings 12

The Book of 1 Kings
Chapter 12

Chapter Overview:

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.
12:1Were come - Rehoboam did not call them thither, but went thither, because the Israelites prevented him, and had pitched uponthat place, rather than upon Jerusalem, because it was most convenientfor all, being in the center of the kingdom; and because that being in thepotent tribe of Ephraim, they supposed there they might use that freedomof 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 hisname, and he a fool! Is not sin an ill way of building up a family?
12:3They sent - When the people sent him word of Solomon's death, they also sent a summons for him to come to Shechem. That the presenceand countenance of a man of so great interest and reputation, might laythe greater obligation upon Rehoboam to grant them ease and relief.
12:4Grievous - 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 grosslyforsaken God, it is no wonder if he oppressed the people.
12:7This day - By complying with their desires, and condescending to them for a season, till thou art better established in thy throne. Theyuse this expression, fore - seeing that some would dissuade him from thiscourse, as below the majesty of a prince. And answer - Thy service is nothard, it is only a few good words, which it is as easy to give as bad ones.
12:8Young men - So called, comparatively to the old men: otherwise they were near forty years old.
12:10Shall 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.
12:15From the Lord - Who gave up Rehoboam to so foolish and fatal a mistake, and alienated the peoples affections from him; and orderedall circumstances by his wise providence to that end.
12:16In David - In David's family and son; we can expect no benefit or relief from him, and therefore we renounce all commerce withhim, and subjection to him. They named David, rather than Rehoboam;to signify, that they renounced not Rehoboam only, but all David'sfamily. Son of Jesse - So they call David in contempt; as if they hadsaid, Rehoboam hath no reason to carry himself with such pride andcontempt toward his people; for if we trace his original, it was as meanand obscure as any of ours. To your tents - Let us forsake him, and go toour own homes, there to consider, how to provide for ourselves.
12:17Judah - The tribe of Judah; with those parts of the tribes of Levi, and Simeon, and Benjamin, whose dwellings were within theconfines of Judah.
12:18Sent Adoram - Probably to pursue the counsel which he had resolved upon, to execute his office, and exact their tribute withrigour and violence, if need were.
12:19Rebelled - Their revolt was sinful, as they did not this in compliance with God's counsel, but to gratify their own passions.
12:20Was come - From Egypt; which was known to them before who met at Shechem, and now by all the people. Was none - That is, noentire tribe.
12:24From me - This event is from my counsel and providence, to punish Solomon's apostasy.
12:25Shechem - He repaired, and enlarged, and fortified it; for it had been ruined long since, Judges 9:45 . He might chuse it as a place bothauspicious, because here the foundation of his monarchy was laid; andcommodious, as being near the frontiers of his kingdom. Penuel - A placebeyond Jordan; to secure that part of his dominions.
12:26Said, &c. - Reasoned within himself. The phrase discovers the fountain of his error, that he did not consult with God, who had givenhim the kingdom; as in all reason, and justice, and gratitude he shouldhave done: nor believed God's promise, chap. 11:38 , but his owncarnal policy.
12:27Will turn - Which in itself might seem a prudent conjecture; for this would give Rehoboam, and the priests, and Levites, the sure andfaithful friends of David's house, many opportunities of alienatingtheir minds from him, and reducing them to their former allegiance.But considering God's providence, by which the hearts of all men, and theaffairs of all kingdoms are governed, and of which he had lately seen soeminent an instance; it was a foolish, as well as wicked course.
12:28Calves - In imitation of Aaron's golden calf, and of the Egyptians, from whom he was lately come. And this he the ratherpresumed to do, because he knew the people of Israel were generallyprone to idolatry: and that Solomon's example had exceedinglystrengthened those inclinations; and therefore they were prepared forsuch an attempt; especially, when his proposition tended to their ownease, and safety, and profit, which he knew was much dearer to them, as wellas to himself, than their religion. Too much - Too great a trouble andcharge, and neither necessary, nor safe for them, as things now stood.Behold thy gods - Not as if he thought to persuade the people, that thesecalves were that very God of Israel, who brought them out of Egypt:which was so monstrously absurd and ridiculous, that no Israelite in hisright 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; buthis meaning was, that these Images were visible representations, by which hedesigned to worship the true God of Israel, as appears, partly from thatparallel place, Exodus 32:4 , partly, because the priests and worshippersof the calves, are said to worship Jehovah; and upon that account, aredistinguished from those belonging to Baal, 18:21 , 22:6,7,and partly, from Jeroboam's design in this work, which was to quiet thepeoples minds, and remove their scruples about going to Jerusalem toworship their God in that place, as they were commanded: which he doth, bysignifying to them, that he did not intend any alteration in the substanceof their religion; nor to draw them from the worship of the true God, to theworship of any of those Baals, which were set up by Solomon; but toworship that self - same God whom they worshipped in Jerusalem, even thetrue 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 worshipGod by another visible sign, even that of the calves, in other places; andas for the change of the place, he might suggest to them, that God waspresent in all places, where men with honest minds called upon him; thatbefore 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 toJerusalem was dangerous to them at this time; and God would have mercy,rather than sacrifice.
12:29Beth-el, &c. - Which two places he chose for his peoples conveniency; Beth-el being in the southern, and Dan in the northernparts of his kingdom.
12:30A sin - That is, an occasion of great wickedness, not only of idolatry, which is called sin by way of eminency; nor only of theworship of the calves, wherein they pretended to worship the true God; butalso 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 mentionedexclusively, for they went also to Beth-el, ver. 32 ,33, but forother reasons, either because that of Dan was first made, the people inthose parts having been long leavened with idolatry, Judges 18:30 , or toshew the peoples readiness and zeal for idols; that those who lived in, ornear Beth-el, had not patience to stay 'till that calf was finished, butall of them were forward to go as far as Dan, which was in the utmostborders of the land, to worship an idol there; when it was thought too muchfor them to go to Jerusalem to worship God.
12:31An house - Houses, or chapels, besides the temples, which are built at Dan and Beth-el; he built also for his peoples betteraccommodation, lesser temples upon divers high places.Of the lowest - Which he might do, either,
  1. because the better sort refused it, or,
  2. 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, 2 Chronicles 11:13 ,14, or,
  3. 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.
12:32A feast - The feast of tabernacles. So he would keep God's feast, not in God's time, which was the fifteenth day of the seventhmonth, and so onward, Leviticus 23:34 , but on the fifteenth day of theeighth month. And this alteration he made, either,
  1. 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,
  2. 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,
  3. 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 inJudah - He took his pattern thence, to shew, that he worshipped the sameGod, and professed the same religion for substance, which they did:howsoever he differed in circumstances. He offered - Either,
  1. by his priests. Or, rather,
  2. by his own hands; as appears from chap. 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 ownauthority had made others priests might much more exercise a part of thatoffice; at least, upon an extraordinary occasion; in which case, he knewDavid 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 doneat Dan.
12:33Devised - Which he appointed without any warrant from God.