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1 Kings 11-13

Supplemental notes for the Daily Bible Study Bible Reading Plan

by Wayne Blank

1 Kings Chapter 11

Solomon had been one of the wisest men that had ever lived, one of the wisest men of God that had ever lived because Solomon's wisdom was a gift from God ("Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you" 1 Kings 3:12 RSV). Along with his wisdom, his united kingdom (see Israelite Monarchy - The United Kingdom) was blessed with secure peace and great prosperity. But Solomon had been warned, by The Lord, that what He gives, He can also take away if someone chooses to disobey Him. The Lord had warned Solomon against "political" marriages; Solomon not only chose to ignore the warning, but ignored it to an outlandish extreme: "He had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines."

Solomon

"Now King Solomon loved many foreign women: the daughter of Pharaoh, and Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which The Lord had said to the people of Israel, "You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods"; Solomon clung to these in love. He had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart." (1 Kings 11:1-3 RSV)

Politicians and diplomats can compromise and make deals. The Word of God cannot be compromised. God's Truth is the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Solomon's "diplomatic" acceptance of paganism would result in the fall of his united kingdom (see Israelite Monarchy - The Division Of Israel).

"For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods; and his heart was not wholly true to The Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of The Lord, and did not wholly follow The Lord, as David his father had done. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem. And so he did for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods." (1 Kings 11:4-8 RSV)

The Lord informed Solomon that most of his kingdom would be taken away from him in due time; only Judah would remain, not for Solomon's sake, but for the coming Messiah who would be born from the royal line of King David (see Israelite Dynasties).

"And The Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from The Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he did not keep what The Lord commanded. Therefore The Lord said to Solomon, "Since this has been your mind and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant. Yet for the sake of David your father I will not do it in your days, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. However I will not tear away all the kingdom; but I will give one tribe to your son, for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen." (1 Kings 11:9-13 RSV)

Jeroboam, of the tribe of Ephraim, was an upper-level servant of Solomon, an overseer of workers. The prophet Ahijah was given to inform Jeroboam that he was going to be king of ten of the tribes of Israel.

"And at that time, when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him on the road. Now Ahijah had clad himself with a new garment; and the two of them were alone in the open country. Then Ahijah laid hold of the new garment that was on him, and tore it into twelve pieces. And he said to Jeroboam, "Take for yourself ten pieces; for thus says The Lord, the God of Israel, 'Behold, I am about to tear the kingdom from the hand of Solomon, and will give you ten tribes" (1 Kings 11:29-31 RSV)

Before his death, Solomon sought to kill Jeroboam, but it was too late. The Lord told Solomon what was coming i.e. "I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant" (1 Kings 11:11 RSV). Solomon died after a forty year reign and was succeeded by his son Rehoboam.

"Solomon sought therefore to kill Jeroboam; but Jeroboam arose, and fled into Egypt, to Shishak king of Egypt, and was in Egypt until the death of Solomon.

Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, and all that he did, and his wisdom, are they not written in the book of the acts of Solomon? And the time that Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel was forty years. And Solomon slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David his father; and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead." (1 Kings 11:40-43 RSV)

1 Kings Chapter 12

After Solomon's death, the people of Israel asked for relief from the heavy burden that Solomon had placed upon them. It was more of an ultimatum than a request; Jeroboam had returned from Egypt and was immediately available to become king of his part of a divided kingdom if Rehoboam refused to "lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke upon us."

Rehoboam

"Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had come to Shechem to make him king. And when Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard of it, for he was still in Egypt, whither he had fled from King Solomon, then Jeroboam returned from Egypt. And they sent and called him; and Jeroboam and all the assembly of Israel came and said to Rehoboam, "Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke upon us, and we will serve you." (1 Kings 12:1-4 RSV)

Rehoboam arrogantly refused the ultimatum, thereby fulfilling the prophecy of the division of Israel that The Lord delivered to Solomon.

"So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king said, "Come to me again the third day."And the king answered the people harshly, and forsaking the counsel which the old men had given him, he spoke to them according to the counsel of the young men, saying, "My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions." So the king did not hearken to the people; for it was a turn of affairs brought about by The Lord that he might fulfil his word, which The Lord spoke by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.

And when all Israel saw that the king did not hearken to them, the people answered the king, "What portion have we in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. To your tents, O Israel! Look now to your own house, David." So Israel departed to their tents.

But Rehoboam reigned over the people of Israel who dwelt in the cities of Judah." (1 Kings 12:12-17 RSV)

Rehoboam then set out to reclaim the breakaway tribes by military force, but The Lord warned Rehoboam that the division was His will. Jeroboam would be king over The Northern Kingdom of "Israel" while Rehoboam would be the king over The Southern Kingdom of "Judah" (see also Kings of Israel and Judah).

"When Rehoboam came to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah, and the tribe of Benjamin, a hundred and eighty thousand chosen warriors, to fight against the house of Israel, to restore the kingdom to Rehoboam the son of Solomon.

But the word of God came to Shemaiah the man of God: "Say to Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all the house of Judah and Benjamin, and to the rest of the people, 'Thus says The Lord, You shall not go up or fight against your kinsmen the people of Israel. Return every man to his home, for this thing is from me.'" So they hearkened to the word of The Lord, and went home again, according to the word of The Lord." (1 Kings 12:21-24 RSV)

Jeroboam had a new kingdom, but it was very soon the same old thing when it came to unfaithfulness to The Lord. Jeroboam set up his own "holy places" and appointed his own "Levites" who were not Levites at all.

"Then Jeroboam built Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim, and dwelt there; and he went out from there and built Penuel.

And Jeroboam said in his heart, "Now the kingdom will turn back to the house of David; if this people go up to offer sacrifices in the house 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."

So the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold. And he said to the people, "You have gone up to Jerusalem long enough. Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt." And he set one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. And this thing became a sin, for the people went to the one at Bethel and to the other as far as Dan.

He also made houses on high places, and appointed priests from among all the people, who were not of the Levites. And Jeroboam appointed a feast on the fifteenth day of the eighth month like the feast that was in Judah, and he offered sacrifices upon the altar; so he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves that he had made. And he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places that he had made." (1 Kings 12:25-32 RSV)

1 Kings Chapter 13

The Lord sent a prophet (see also Prophets) from Judah to warn Jeroboam what was going to happen to him, just as happened to Solomon, because of apostasy. The prophecy also included the name of a specific king, Josiah (see Josiah's Reforms) - long before Josiah was even born (see Kings of Israel and Judah).

A Fallen Temple

"And behold, a man of God came out of Judah by the word of The Lord to Bethel. Jeroboam was standing by the altar to burn incense. And the man cried against the altar by the word of The Lord, and said, "O altar, altar, thus says The Lord: 'Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name; and he shall sacrifice upon you the priests of the high places who burn incense upon you, and men's bones shall be burned upon you.'" And he gave a sign the same day, saying, "This is the sign that The Lord has spoken: 'Behold, the altar shall be torn down, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out.'"

And when the king heard the saying of the man of God, which he cried against the altar at Bethel, Jeroboam stretched out his hand from the altar, saying, "Lay hold of him." And his hand, which he stretched out against him, dried up, so that he could not draw it back to himself. The altar also was torn down, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of The Lord." (1 Kings 13:1-5 RSV)

Jeroboam didn't listen; the kingdom of "Israel" ("the lost ten tribes") was on track to their own destruction almost right from the establishment of the northern kingdom (see also The Galilee Captivity).

"After this thing Jeroboam did not turn from his evil way, but made priests for the high places again from among all the people; any who would, he consecrated to be priests of the high places. And this thing became sin to the house of Jeroboam, so as to cut it off and to destroy it from the face of the earth." (1 Kings 13:33-34 RSV)

Fact Finder: Bible History shows us how and when Israel and Judah split. How and when does Prophecy tell us that Israel and Judah will be united again?
See The Gathering of Israel and Judah; also Israelite Monarchy - The Messiah


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