Solomon’s son Rehoboam becomes king, but makes huge mistakes. The life under Solomon had become hard labor – so much so that it seemed not much different from the slavery to Pharoah. So the people come to Rehoboam asking him to lighten their load. He foolishly listens to the counsel of the young men who had grown up with him, and ends up telling the people who had complained that he would make things harder for them (verses 13-14). This also reminds of Pharoah’s response to Moses and Aaron in Exodus 5:1-21.
This leads to the division of the kingdom (verse 16). Rehoboam tries to recover using his taskmaster, Adoram, but he is stoned to death and Rehoboam flees to Jerusalem. Rehoboam assembles Judah and the tribe of Benjamin to try to regain the rest of the kingdom, but God sends word through Shemaiah for all the people not to fight against their relatives because “this thing is from me.” So war is averted, and the people return to their homes.
But Jeroboam was fearful because the temple was in Jerusalem that people would return there to worship, and their hearts would be swayed to serve the house of David – Rehoboam. So he fashioned golden calves and worship places at Dan and Bethel, telling the people (just as Aaron did in Exodus 32:4) “Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt” (verse 28). He also appointed priests who were not Levites. This idol worship would be their downfall, and lead to their later exile, as the their minds had already begun to confuse the one true God with the rites of idol worship. Many perversely saw themselves as worshiping Jehovah through these idols! He even instituted his own feast in verse 33.
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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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