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1 Kings 12

Rehoboam, king of Judah

1 Rehoboam went to Shechem, because all the Israelites had gone there to make him king. 2 Now Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, was still in Egypt. He had gone there when he ran away from King Solomon. But Jeroboam returned from Egypt when he heard about Rehoboam. 3 Then the Israelites sent a message to Jeroboam. They wanted him to come to them. And Jeroboam and all the Israelites went to Rehoboam. They said to Rehoboam, 4 ‘Your father caused us to work too much. Now, make it easier for us. If you make our work easier, we will be your servants.’ 5 Rehoboam answered them, ‘Go away for three days. Then come back to me.’ So the people went away.

6 Then King Rehoboam went to some older men. They had helped his father Solomon, when he was alive. ‘What answer should I give to these Israelites?’ he asked. 7 They said to him, ‘If you are like a servant to them today, they will always be your servants. If you speak kindly to them, they will always work for you.’ 8 But Rehoboam did not believe what these older men said. He talked about it to some younger men. They had always been with him and they were his servants. 9 He said to them, ‘What do you think that I should do? What answer should we give to the people who say this to me? “Make our work easier than your father made it.” ’ 10 These young men had always been with Rehoboam. The young men said, ‘Say this to the people who said these things to you. “Your father caused us to do work that was not easy. Now make our work easier.” Say to them, “My little finger is thicker than my father's body. 11 My father gave you work that was not easy. I will make it even less easy. My father hit you with whips, but I will hit you with snakes.” ’

12 Jeroboam and all the people returned to Rehoboam three days after that. That was because the king had said, ‘Return to me in three days.’ 13 The king spoke words that were not kind to the people. He did not say what the older men had wanted him to say. 14 He said what the young men had suggested. ‘My father gave you work that was not easy. I will make it even less easy. My father hit you with whips. I will hit you with snakes!’ 15 So the king did not do what the Israelites wanted him to do. Really, the LORD caused this to happen. He had said what would happen in his words to Jeroboam the son of Nebat. Ahijah who was from Shiloh told them to Jeroboam.

16 Then all the Israelites saw that the king would not listen to them. So they said to the king,

‘We do not want to be a part of David's country.

We do not want to belong to Jesse's son.

Israelites, go to your homes!

Now, David's son, you can rule your own people!’

So all the Israelites went home.

17 But Rehoboam still ruled the people that lived in the towns in Judah. 18 A man called Adoniram told the workers what they should do. Rehoboam sent him to do this. But the Israelites threw stones at him and he died. But Rehoboam, who was with him, got into his chariot. He was able to get to Jerusalem. 19 So the people that live in Israel have been against the family of David until now. 20 All the Israelites heard that Jeroboam had returned. They all met together and they asked Jeroboam to come to them. They made him king over all Israel. Only the tribe of Judah still remained with the house of David.

21 Rehoboam arrived back in Jerusalem. He brought all the people that lived in Judah and Benjamin together. There were 180,000 of them that could fight. Rehoboam wanted to start a war against Israel. He wanted to get back the tribes in the north of Israel for himself. He was Rehoboam the son of Solomon. 22 Then this word of God came to Shemaiah, a servant of God. 23 ‘Say this to Rehoboam the son of Solomon. Solomon was the king of Judah. Say it to everybody in Judah and in Benjamin. Say it also to everybody else. 24 This is what the LORD is saying. “Do not fight against the Israelites, your brothers. Go home, everybody. What is happening is what I want to happen.” ’ So they obeyed the word of the LORD. They went home again because the LORD said it.

Jeroboam, king of Israel

25 Then Jeroboam made Shechem into a strong city. He lived there, in the hills of Ephraim. Then he went to the city called Penuel and he made it stronger. 26 Jeroboam thought inside himself, ‘Now, almost certainly, the kingdom will go back to the family of David. 27 The people from the north will go to Jerusalem. They will offer sacrifices there in the temple of the LORD. They will become servants of their lord, Rehoboam. He is the king of Judah. They will kill me and they will go back to King Rehoboam.’ 28 Jeroboam asked some people what he should do. Then king Jeroboam made two young cows out of gold. He said to the people that he ruled, ‘It is too difficult for you to go up to Jerusalem. These young cows are your gods, people of Israel. They brought you up out of Egypt.’ 29 He put one young cow in Bethel and he put the other young cow in Dan. 30 But that became a sin. Some people went as far as Dan to worship the young cow that was there! 31 Jeroboam also built places on hills where people could worship gods. He made priests from many tribes. Many of them were not Levites. 32 Jeroboam started a special day on the 15th day of the 8th month. That was like the special day that they had in Judah. But he offered sacrifices in Bethel to the young cows that he had made. He also put priests into the places on hills where people could worship gods. 33 Jeroboam chose the 8th month in his own mind. On the 15th day of that month, he offered sacrifices on the altar that he had made at Bethel. So he started a special day for the Israelites. They went to the altar at Bethel or Dan to offer their sacrifices to their gods.

Notes about chapter 12

12:33Verse 4. ‘be your servants’ means ‘let you be our king’. Jeroboam went to Egypt (verse 2) because the work was not easy (1 Kings 11:26-29).
12:33Verses 4-14, ‘work that is not easy’ is ‘heavy weight’ in the Hebrew Bible.
12:33Verse 19. ‘the family of David’ means King Rehoboam and the people that he ruled in Judah.
12:33Verse 20. All the tribes in the north made Jeroboam king of Israel. Judah, and maybe Benjamin in the south, made Rehoboam their king.
12:33Verse 22. ‘Word of God’ is not only what God said. It is also a name for Christ, John 1:1. It helps us to remember that Christ is in the Old Testament. He did not only come at Christmas! This is very important.
12:33Verse 26. Maybe ‘the family of David’ means ‘David's sons will rule it’. ‘The kingdom’ means the north part that Jeroboam ruled.
12:33Verses 28-30. The Book of Deuteronomy said that each Israelite must go to Jerusalem three times in every year. Jeroboam made other places for them to go to instead. The places were Bethel and Dan. There were already temples in these places from a long time ago. It was easier for most Israelites to travel to Bethel (in the south) and to Dan (in the north).
12:33Verse 32. The special day in Judah was on the 15th day of the 7th month. Jeroboam wanted his special day to be like the one in Judah. But he wanted it to be different too! So he had it on the 15th day of the 8th month.