1 Kings 12

King Rehoboam

1 Rehoboam went to Shechem, because all the Israelites had gone there to make him king. 2 At this time, Nebat's son Jeroboam was still in Egypt. He had been living there since he ran away from King Solomon. When he heard the news about Rehoboam, he returned home. 3 The Israelites sent a message to Jeroboam to meet with them. Then Jeroboam and the whole group of Israelites went to speak to Rehoboam. They said to him, 4 ‘Your father caused us to work too hard. Please make the work easier for us. If you do that, we will serve you as our king.’ 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 talk to the older advisors who had served his father Solomon. He asked them, ‘What answer should I give to these people?’ 7 The old men said to him, ‘If you agree to help these people today, they will always serve you as their king. So do what they are asking you to do.’

8 But Rehoboam did not agree with their advice. Instead he talked to some younger men. They had been his friends since they were young and now they were his advisors. 9 He asked them, ‘What do you think that I should say to these people? They want me to make their work easier.’

10 Rehoboam's young advisors said, ‘Those people said to you, “Your father made us work too hard. Please make our work easier.” You should tell them, “Even my little finger is thicker than my father's whole body! 11 My father made you work hard. I will make you work even harder! My father punished you with little whips. I will punish you with whips that bite your skin!” ’

12 Jeroboam and all the people returned to Rehoboam after three days. That was because the king had said, ‘Return to me in three days.’

13 King Rehoboam spoke cruel words to the people. He did not agree to say what the older men had told him to say. 14 Instead, he did what the young men had suggested. He said to the people, ‘My father gave you work that was too hard for you. I will make it even worse! My father punished you with little whips. I will punish you with whips that bite!’

15 So the king did not agree to do what the people wanted him to do. It was the Lord who caused this to happen. He had already given his message about this to Nebat's son Jeroboam. The prophet Ahijah who came from Shiloh had spoken the Lord's message to Jeroboam.

16 All the Israelites realized that the king refused to listen to them. So they said to the king,

‘We can no longer serve the family of Jesse's son, David!

Israelites, go back to your homes!

You descendant of David, take care of your own family!’

So the Israelites went to their homes.

17 But Rehoboam continued to rule over the Israelites who lived in the towns of Judah.

12:17Rehoboam was now king over only two Israelite tribes, Judah and Benjamin. This was the kingdom in the south. Jeroboam became king over the other 10 tribes in the north.

18 King Rehoboam sent a man called Adoniram to talk to the Israelite people. Adoniram had authority over the men who had to work for Rehoboam. But the Israelites threw stones at Adoniram and they killed him. So King Rehoboam quickly got into his chariot and he escaped to Jerusalem. 19 Since that time, the tribes in the north of Israel have not accepted the authority of King David's descendants.

20 All the Israelites heard that Jeroboam had returned from Egypt. So they asked him to come to a meeting of the people. They decided to make him king over all Israel. Only the tribe of Judah still served David's descendant as their king.

21 Rehoboam arrived back in Jerusalem. He brought together all the men from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin who knew how to fight. There were 180,000 of them. Solomon's son Rehoboam wanted to attack the Israelite tribes so that he could rule them again as king. 22 But God told the prophet Shemaiah, 23 ‘Say this to Solomon's son Rehoboam, the king of Judah. Say it to all the people of Judah and Benjamin, and to all the other people. 24 This is what the Lord says: “Do not attack your brothers, the Israelites. Do not fight against them. Instead, you must all go home. I, the Lord, have decided that this must happen.” ’

So they obeyed the Lord's message. They went back to their homes, as the Lord had commanded them to do.

King Jeroboam

25 Jeroboam made Shechem into a strong city. He lived there, in the hill country of Ephraim. He also went to make Penuel a strong city.

26 Jeroboam thought, ‘I do not want the people of my kingdom to accept David's descendants as king again. 27 The people that I rule will go to the Lord's temple in Jerusalem to offer sacrifices there. Then they may decide to serve Rehoboam, king of Judah, who was their master before. They might kill me and then go back to serve King Rehoboam.’

28 So King Jeroboam talked to his advisors. He used gold to make images of two young cows. He said to the people, ‘It is too difficult for you to go to Jerusalem to worship the Lord, as you have done before. So I have made these gold cows for you instead. Look at them, Israelite people! These are your gods that rescued you and brought you out from Egypt.’

29 Jeroboam put one gold cow in Bethel. He put the other gold cow in Dan. 30 But that caused the Israelite people to do a very bad thing. They went to Bethel and to Dan to worship the gold cows.

12:29The 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. It was easier for most Israelites to travel to Bethel (in the south) and to Dan (in the north).

31 Jeroboam also built places on hills for people to worship. He chose men who were not from Levi's tribe to be priests. 32 He decided to have a festival on the 15th day of the eighth month each year. He wanted it to be like the festival that they had in Judah. He offered sacrifices on the altar in Bethel to the gold cows that he had made. He also chose priests to serve at the places that he built for people to worship.

12:32The festival in Judah was probably the Feast of Huts.

33 On the 15th day of the eighth month, Jeroboam offered sacrifices on the altar that he had made at Bethel. That was the special day that he himself had decided to choose as a festival for the Israelites. On that day, he burned incense on the altar.