1 Kings 12

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Rehoboam's Folly

1 1Rehoboam went to 2Shechem, for all Israel had come to Shechem to make him king.
2 And as soon as 3Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard of it (for 4he was still in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), then Jeroboam returned from[a] Egypt.
3 And they sent and called him, and Jeroboam and all the assembly of Israel came and said to Rehoboam,
4 5"Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke on us, and we will serve you."
5 He said to them, 6"Go away for three days, then come again to me." So the people went away.
6 Then King Rehoboam took counsel with the old men, who had stood before Solomon his father while he was yet alive, saying, "How do you advise me to answer this people?"
7 And they said to him, "If you will be a servant to this people today and serve them, and speak good words to them when you answer them, then they will be your servants forever."
8 But he abandoned the counsel that the old men gave him and took counsel with the young men who had grown up with him and stood before him.
9 And he said to them, "What do you advise that we answer this people who have said to me, 'Lighten the yoke that your father put on us'?"
10 And the young men who had grown up with him said to him, "Thus shall you speak to this people who said to you, 'Your father made our yoke heavy, but you lighten it for us,' thus shall you say to them, 'My little finger is thicker than my father's thighs.
11 And now, whereas 7my father laid on you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.'"
12 So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king said, 8"Come to me again the third day."
13 And the king answered the people harshly, and forsaking the counsel that the old men had given him,
14 he spoke to them according to the counsel of the young men, saying, 9"My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions."
15 So the king did not listen to the people, for 10it was a turn of affairs brought about by the LORD that he might fulfill his word, which 11the LORD spoke by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.

The Kingdom Divided

16 And when all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, "What portion do we have in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. 12To your tents, O Israel! Look now to your own house, David." So Israel went to their tents.
17 But Rehoboam reigned over 13the people of Israel who lived in the cities of Judah.
18 Then King Rehoboam sent 14Adoram, who was taskmaster over the forced labor, and all Israel stoned him to death with stones. And King Rehoboam hurried to mount his chariot to flee to Jerusalem.
19 15So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day.
20 And when all Israel heard that Jeroboam had returned, they sent and called him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel. There was none that followed the house of David but 16the tribe of Judah only.
21 17When Rehoboam came to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin, 180,000 chosen warriors, to fight against the house of Israel, to restore the kingdom to Rehoboam the son of Solomon.
22 But the word of God came to 18Shemaiah the man of God:
23 "Say to Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all the house of Judah and Benjamin, and to the 19rest of the people,
24 'Thus says the LORD, You shall not go up or fight against your relatives the people of Israel. Every man return to his home, 20for this thing is from me.'" So they listened to the word of the LORD and went home again, according to the word of the LORD.

Jeroboam's Golden Calves

25 Then Jeroboam 21built Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim and lived there. And he went out from there and 22built Penuel.
26 And Jeroboam said in his heart, "Now the kingdom will turn back to the house of David.
27 If this people 23go up to offer sacrifices in the temple of the LORD at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will turn again to their lord, to Rehoboam king of Judah, and they will kill me and return to Rehoboam king of Judah."
28 So the king took counsel and 24made two calves of gold. And he said to the people, "You have gone up to Jerusalem long enough. 25Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt."
29 And he set one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan.
30 Then 26this thing became a sin, for the people went as far as Dan to be before one.[b]
31 He also made 27temples on high places and 28appointed priests from among all the people, who were not of the Levites.
32 And Jeroboam appointed a feast on the fifteenth day of the eighth month like 29the feast that was in Judah, and he offered sacrifices on the altar. So he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves that he made. And he placed in Bethel 30the priests of the high places that he had made.
33 He went up to the altar that he had made in Bethel on the fifteenth day in the eighth month, in the month that he had devised from his own heart. And he instituted a feast for the people of Israel and went up to the altar 31to make offerings.

1 Kings 12 Commentary

Chapter 12

Rehoboam's accession, The people's petition, His rough answer. (1-15) Ten tribes revolt. (16-24) Jeroboam's idolatry. (25-33)

Verses 1-15 The tribes complained not to Rehoboam of his father's idolatry, and revolt from God. That which was the greatest grievance, was none to them; so careless were they in matters of religion, if they might live at case, and pay no taxes. Factious spirits will never want something to complain of. And when we see the Scripture account of Solomon's reign; the peace, wealth, and prosperity Israel then enjoyed; we cannot doubt but that their charges were false, or far beyond the truth. Rehoboam answered the people according to the counsel of the young men. Never was man more blinded by pride, and desire of arbitrary power, than which nothing is more fatal. God's counsels were hereby fulfilled. He left Rehoboam to his own folly, and hid from his eyes the things which belonged to his peace, that the kingdom might be rent from him. God serves his own wise and righteous purposes by the imprudences and sins of men. Those that lose the kingdom of heaven, throw it away, as Rehoboam, by wilfulness and folly.

Verses 16-24 The people speak unbecomingly of David. How soon are good men, and their good services to the public, forgotten ! These considerations should reconcile us to our losses and troubles, that God is the Author of them, and our brethren the instruments: let us not meditate revenge. Rehoboam and his people hearkened to the word of the Lord. When we know God's mind, we must submit, how much soever it crosses our own mind. If we secure the favour of God, not all the universe can hurt us.

Verses 25-33 Jeroboam distrusted the providence of God; he would contrive ways and means, and sinful ones too, for his own safety. A practical disbelief of God's all-sufficiency is at the bottom of all our departures from him. Though it is probable he meant his worship for Jehovah the God of Israel, it was contrary to the Divine law, and dishonourable to the Divine majesty to be thus represented. The people might be less shocked at worshipping the God of Israel under an image, than if they had at once been asked to worship Baal; but it made way for that idolatry. Blessed Lord, give us grace to reverence thy temple, thine ordinances, thine house of prayer, thy sabbaths, and never more, like Jeroboam, to set up in our hearts any idol of abomination. Be thou to us every thing precious; do thou reign and rule in our hearts, the hope of glory.

Cross References 31

  • 1. For ver. 1-19, see 2 Chronicles 10:1-19
  • 2. [Judges 9:6]
  • 3. 1 Kings 11:26
  • 4. 1 Kings 11:40
  • 5. 1 Kings 4:7, 22; 1 Kings 9:15; See 1 Samuel 8:11-18
  • 6. ver. 12
  • 7. [See ver. 4 above]
  • 8. ver. 5
  • 9. [See ver. 4 above]
  • 10. ver. 24
  • 11. 1 Kings 11:11, 31
  • 12. See 2 Samuel 20:1
  • 13. 1 Kings 11:13, 36
  • 14. 1 Kings 4:6; 1 Kings 5:14
  • 15. 2 Kings 17:21
  • 16. 1 Kings 11:13, 32, 36
  • 17. For ver. 21-24, see 2 Chronicles 11:1-4
  • 18. 2 Chr. 12:5, 7, 15
  • 19. [ver. 17]
  • 20. ver. 15
  • 21. [Judges 9:45]
  • 22. [Judges 8:17]
  • 23. Deuteronomy 12:5, 6
  • 24. 2 Kings 10:29; 2 Kings 17:16; 2 Chronicles 11:15; 2 Chronicles 13:8; Hosea 8:5, 6; Hosea 10:5; Hosea 13:2; [1 Kings 14:9]
  • 25. [Exodus 32:4, 8]
  • 26. 1 Kings 13:34; 2 Kings 17:21
  • 27. 1 Kings 13:32
  • 28. 1 Kings 13:33; 2 Kings 17:32; 2 Chronicles 11:14, 15; 2 Chronicles 13:9
  • 29. Leviticus 23:33, 34; Numbers 29:12
  • 30. 1 Kings 13:2; [Amos 7:13]
  • 31. 1 Kings 13:1

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Septuagint, Vulgate (compare 2 Chronicles 10:2); Hebrew lived in
  • [b]. Septuagint went to the one at Bethel and to the other as far as Dan

Chapter Summary


This chapter relates Rehoboam's going to Shechem to be made king, and Jeroboam's return from Egypt, 1Ki 12:1,2, the people's request to Rehoboam to be eased of their taxes, as the condition of making him king, 1Ki 12:3,4, his answer to them, after three days, having had the advice both of the old and young men, which latter he followed, and gave in a rough answer, 1Ki 12:5-15, upon which ten tribes revolted from him, and two abode by him, 1Ki 12:16-20, wherefore he meditated a war against the ten tribes, but was forbid by the Lord to engage in it, 1Ki 12:21-24 and Jeroboam, in order to establish his kingdom, and preserve the people from a revolt to the house of David, because of the temple worship at Jerusalem, devised a scheme of idolatrous worship in his own territories, 1Ki 12:25-33.

1 Kings 12 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.