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Rehoboam Of Israel And Judah

Rehoboam, from the Hebrew name pronounced reck-awb-awm, meaning an enlarged people, or he enlarges the people, was the son and successor of King Solomon of Israel. While Rehoboam was of the tribe of Judah, he, like his father Solomon and grandfather David, was king over all of the tribes of Israel. Of those three kings however, only Solomon ruled over a united kingdom through his entire reign (see The United Kingdom). David had reigned over Judah before all of Israel made him their king, while Rehoboam reigned over all of Israel before being left with only Judah.

"2:4 And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah." (2 Samuel 2:4 KJV; see The Civil War)

"12:16 So when all Israel saw that the king hearkened not unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David. So Israel departed unto their tents. 12:17 But as for the children of Israel which dwelt in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them." (1 Kings 12:16-17 KJV; see The Division Of Israel)

"I will add to your yoke: my father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions"

Unlike the struggle for the throne that both David and Solomon experienced, Rehoboam seems to have been relatively uncontested - despite the many other children that Solomon must have had from his 1,000 wives and concubines: "11:3 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart" (1 Kings 11:3 KJV). It was from that apostasy of Solomon ("his wives turned away his heart") that the LORD declared that the kingdom would be divided - in the time of Solomon's successor ("Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy father's sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son," see below in context). Much has been made of Rehoboam's foolish arrogance that caused the northern tribes of Israel to break away, but it would have happened, according to the Word of the LORD, regardless of how Rehoboam behaved.

The Tribes Of Israel

"11:9 And the LORD [see 'Before Abraham Was, I AM'] was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice, 11:10 And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the LORD commanded. 11:11 Wherefore the LORD said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant. 11:12 Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy father's sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son. 11:13 Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant's sake, and for Jerusalem's sake which I have chosen." (1 Kings 11:9-13 KJV)

And so it was that when Solomon died, Rehoboam made the political mistake (see Royal Democracy) that accomplished the Word of the LORD. It wasn't a matter of Rehoboam being innocent of circumstances; the people of the northern tribes at first accepted him as their king. It was Rehoboam's own free choice to behave like an arrogant tyrant that fulfilled the prophecy.

"12:1 And Rehoboam went to Shechem: for all Israel were come to Shechem to make him king. 12:2 And it came to pass, when Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who was yet in Egypt, heard of it, for he was fled from the presence of king Solomon, and Jeroboam dwelt in Egypt; 12:3 That they sent and called him. And Jeroboam and all the congregation of Israel came, and spake unto Rehoboam, saying, 12:4 Thy father made our yoke grievous: now therefore make thou the grievous service of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter, and we will serve thee.

12:5 And he said unto them, Depart yet for three days, then come again to me. And the people departed.

12:6 And king Rehoboam consulted with the old men, that stood before Solomon his father while he yet lived, and said, How do ye advise that I may answer this people?

12:7 And they spake unto him, saying, If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be thy servants for ever.

12:8 But he forsook the counsel of the old men, which they had given him, and consulted with the young men that were grown up with him, and which stood before him: 12:9 And he said unto them, What counsel give ye that we may answer this people, who have spoken to me, saying, Make the yoke which thy father did put upon us lighter?
12:10 And the young men that were grown up with him spake unto him, saying, Thus shalt thou speak unto this people that spake unto thee, saying, Thy father made our yoke heavy, but make thou it lighter unto us; thus shalt thou say unto them, My little finger shall be thicker than my father's loins. 12:11 And now whereas my father did lade you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke: my father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.

12:12 So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king had appointed, saying, Come to me again the third day. 12:13 And the king answered the people roughly, and forsook the old men's counsel that they gave him; 12:14 And spake to them after the counsel of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions. 12:15 Wherefore the king hearkened not unto the people; for the cause was from the LORD, that he might perform his saying, which the LORD spake by Ahijah the Shilonite unto Jeroboam the son of Nebat.

12:16 So when all Israel saw that the king hearkened not unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David. So Israel departed unto their tents.

12:17 But as for the children of Israel which dwelt in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them." (1 Kings 12:1-17 KJV)

Rehoboam then mustered his remaining army of Judah to go to war against the armies of Israel, thereby beginning another civil war of succession, as happened during the time of King David, but the LORD told Rehoboam that the division of the kingdom was His Will. Rehoboam had enough wisdom to heed the command, at least for the day.

"12:21 And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah, with the tribe of Benjamin, an hundred and fourscore thousand chosen men, which were warriors, to fight against the house of Israel, to bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam the son of Solomon.

12:22 But the word of God came unto Shemaiah the man of God, saying, 12:23 Speak unto Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and unto all the house of Judah and Benjamin, and to the remnant of the people, saying, 12:24 Thus saith the LORD, Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel: return every man to his house; for this thing is from me. They hearkened therefore to the word of the LORD, and returned to depart, according to the word of the LORD." (2 King 12:21-24 KJV)

Rehoboam's forty-one year rule over Judah was, overall, grossly corrupt. He "built them high places, and images, and groves, on every high hill, and under every green tree" and "there were also sodomites in the land: and they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the LORD cast out before the children of Israel." Rehoboam was also militarily weak; Shishak king of Egypt invaded the capital city of Jerusalem, whereby he looted the Temple and the royal palace. Despite the attacks from Egypt, Rehoboam ignored the command of the LORD and fought with Israel, under Jeroboam: "And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all their days."

"14:21 And Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty and one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the LORD did choose out of all the tribes of Israel, to put his name there. And his mother's name was Naamah an Ammonitess.

14:22 And Judah did evil in the sight of the LORD, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins which they had committed, above all that their fathers had done. 14:23 For they also built them high places, and images, and Groves, on every high hill, and under every green tree. 14:24 And there were also Sodomites in the land: and they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the LORD cast out before the children of Israel.

14:25 And it came to pass in the fifth year of king Rehoboam, that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem: 14:26 And he took away the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king's house; he even took away all: and he took away all the shields of gold which Solomon had made. 14:27 And king Rehoboam made in their stead brazen shields, and committed them unto the hands of the chief of the guard, which kept the door of the king's house. 14:28 And it was so, when the king went into the house of the LORD, that the guard bare them, and brought them back into the guard chamber.

14:29 Now the rest of the acts of Rehoboam, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? 14:30 And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all their days. 14:31 And Rehoboam slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David. And his mother's name was Naamah an Ammonitess. And Abijam his son reigned in his stead." (1 Kings 14:21-31 KJV)

Fact Finder: From which royal line is Jesus Christ descended, Israel or Judah?
See Israelite Dynasties


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