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2 Chronicles 10-12
The splitting of Israel into The Southern Kingdom of "Judah" and The Northern Kingdom of "Israel" (the northern kingdom later became "the lost ten tribes of Israel" after The Galilee Captivity) was sure to happen (see the Fact Finder question below). It was accomplished by means of the arrogance of Solomon's son Rehoboam.
"Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had come to Shechem to make him king.
Rehoboam was faced with an ultimatum by the people of Israel, but not only did he refuse to lessen the heavy burden upon the people, he ignored "the counsel of the old men" (see The Senate) and proclaimed that he would make the people's hardship even worse, as "advised" by the cocky young fools of Rehoboam's peer group. It was the means that The Lord used to bring about what He declared would happen (see the Fact Finder question below).
"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 them harshly, and forsaking the counsel of the old men, King Rehoboam spoke to them according to the counsel of the young men, saying, "My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to it; 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 God that The Lord might fulfil His word, which he spoke by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat." (2 Chronicles 10:12-15 RSV)
The response to Rehoboam's arrogance was immediate - all of the tribes except Judah and Benjamin rejected the king (see Royal Democracy).
"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. Each of you to your tents, O Israel! Look now to your own house, David." So all Israel departed to their tents. But Rehoboam reigned over the people of Israel who dwelt in the cities of Judah." (2 Chronicles 10:16-17 RSV)
2 Chronicles Chapter 11
Rehoboam's response to the rebellion was to launch a military campaign to force the larger part of Israel to return to his rule. The Lord however commanded Rehoboam to do nothing because it was His will that the kingdom be divided. Fortunately for Rehoboam, he obeyed.
"When Rehoboam came to Jerusalem, he assembled the house of Judah, and Benjamin, a hundred and eighty thousand chosen warriors, to fight against Israel, to restore the kingdom to Rehoboam.
It did not take long before it became apparent that the new northern kingdom had also rejected the proper religious structure for Israel, as declared by The Lord. Unlike all of the other tribes of Israel, the Levites had no tribal territory of their own; they lived throughout the other tribes. When it became obvious that they were not welcome in "Israel," most of them moved south to "Judah" (hence the reason that there were, and are, relatively few Levites in the "lost ten tribes," the descendants of whom will be gathered, along with Judah, after Christ's return - see The Gathering of Israel and Judah).
"And the priests [see The Lines Of Eleazar and Ithamar] and the Levites that were in all Israel resorted to him from all places where they lived. For the Levites left their common lands and their holdings and came to Judah and Jerusalem, because Jeroboam and his sons cast them out from serving as priests of The Lord, and he appointed his own priests for the High Places, and for the satyrs [see Satyr], and for the calves which he had made [see Calf Worship]. And those who had set their hearts to seek The Lord God of Israel came after them from all the tribes of Israel to Jerusalem to sacrifice to The Lord, the God of their fathers. They strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and for three years they made Rehoboam the son of Solomon secure, for they walked for three years in the way of David and Solomon." (2 Chronicles 11:13-17 RSV)
"Rehoboam took as wife Mahalath the daughter of Jerimoth the son of David, and of Abihail the daughter of Eliab the son of Jesse; and she bore him sons, Jeush, Shemariah, and Zaham. After her he took Maacah the daughter of Absalom, who bore him Abijah, Attai, Ziza, and Shelomith. Rehoboam loved Maacah the daughter of Absalom above all his wives and concubines, he took eighteen wives and sixty concubines, and had twenty-eight sons and sixty daughters; and Rehoboam appointed Abijah the son of Maacah as chief prince among his brothers, for he intended to make him king. And he dealt wisely, and distributed some of his sons through all the districts of Judah and Benjamin, in all the fortified cities; and he gave them abundant provisions, and procured wives for them." (2 Chronicles 11:18-23 RSV)
2 Chronicles Chapter 12
The southern kingdom also became corrupt and unfaithful to The Lord, so He permitted an enemy army to threaten Judah.
"When the rule of Rehoboam was established and was strong, he forsook the law of The Lord, and all Israel with him. In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, because they had been unfaithful to The Lord, Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem with twelve hundred chariots and sixty thousand horsemen. And the people were without number who came with him from Egypt - Libyans, Sukkiim, and Ethiopians. And he took the fortified cities of Judah and came as far as Jerusalem." (2 Chronicles 12:1-4 RSV)
When Rehoboam and the people of Judah repented, The Lord granted them "some deliverance" - enough to save them for a while longer.
"When The Lord saw that they humbled themselves, the word of The Lord came to Shemaiah: "They have humbled themselves; I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance, and my wrath shall not be poured out upon Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak. Nevertheless they shall be servants to him, that they may know my service and the service of the kingdoms of the countries." (2 Chronicles 12:7-8 RSV)
The Lord nevertheless allowed Judah to experience the trouble that comes when The Lord is forsaken. Shishak looted parts of Jerusalem (some incorrectly believe that The Ark Of The Covenant was taken from Jerusalem to Egypt at that time - see Raiders Of The Lost Ark).
"So Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem; he took away the treasures of the house of The Lord and the treasures of the king's house; he took away everything. He also took away the shields of gold which Solomon had made; and King Rehoboam made in their stead shields of bronze, and committed them to the hands of the officers of the guard, who kept the door of the king's house. And as often as the king went into the house of The Lord, the guard came and bore them, and brought them back to the guardroom. And when he humbled himself the wrath of The Lord turned from him, so as not to make a complete destruction; moreover, conditions were good in Judah." (2 Chronicles 12:9-12 RSV)
Rehoboam "reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem" before he died and was succeeded by his son Abijah.
"So King Rehoboam established himself in Jerusalem and reigned. Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which The Lord had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel to put His name there. His mother's name was Naamah the Ammonitess.And he did evil, for he did not set his heart to seek The Lord.
Fact Finder: Why did The Lord break Israel into two kingdoms? What did Solomon do to cause it?