The Word Made Fresh
1Jeroboam’s son Abijah became ill, 2and Jeroboam told his wife, “Disguise yourself so you won’t be recognized as my wife and go to Shiloh and find Ahijah the prophet. He’s the one who told me I would become the king of these people. Take ten bread loaves to him, along with some cakes and a jar of honey. He can tell you what will happen to the child.”
4She went to Shiloh to Ahijah’s house. Ahijah was an old man now and could no longer see clearly, 5but the LORD told him, “Jeroboam’s wife is coming to ask you about her son who is ill.” Then the LORD told him what to say to her.
When she arrived, she pretended to be someone else, 6but as soon as Ahijah heard her enter, he said, “Come in, wife of Jeroboam. Why pretend to be someone else? I am afraid I have bad news for you. 7Go back home and tell Jeroboam that the LORD God of Israel says this: ‘I raised you up from the people. I made you the leader of Israel. 8I took Israel away from the house of David and put it in your hands. But you are not like my servant David. He obeyed me and strove to obey me wholeheartedly and do only what was right in my eyes. 9But you have been more evil than all those who came before you. You have made other gods for yourself and cast idols as well. You have made me angry because you left me behind. 10So, I will bring evil on the house of Jeroboam. I will separate every man in Israel from him, slave and free, and I will destroy the house of Jeroboam like dried dung on the fire. 11The dogs will eat any follower of Jeroboam who die in the city, and the birds will eat any who die in the country.’
12“Go home,” Ahijah told her. “When you arrive at the city your child will die. 13Everyone in Israel will be in mourning, and they will bury him. He is the only one from Jeroboam’s family who will die peacefully, for in him the LORD found something pleasing among all of Jeroboam’s family. 14This very day the LORD will choose a king over Israel who will wipe out the house of Jeroboam. 15The LORD will shake Israel as a reed waves in the river. Israel will be uprooted out of this good land the LORD has given to their ancestors. The LORD is angry, and will scatter them beyond the Euphrates because they worship their idolatrous totem idols. 16The LORD will give Israel up because of the way Jeroboam led them to sin against the LORD.”
17Jeroboam’s wife left then and returned to Tirzah. As she entered the door of her house the child died. 18The people of Israel buried him and wept for him just as the LORD had said through the prophet Ahijah.
19The rest of Jeroboam’s rule, including the wars he fought, is recorded in the Book of the Acts of the Kings of Israel. 20He ruled Israel for twenty-two years and then slept with his fathers. His son Nadab succeeded him.
21Meanwhile, Rehoboam son of Solomon reigned in Judah. He came to the throne at the age of forty-one, and ruled for seventeen years from Jerusalem, the city the LORD had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel. His mother’s name was Naamah; she was an Ammonite. 22The people of Judah did evil in the LORD’s sight, and provoked the LORD with their sins, rousing the LORD’s anger even more than their ancestors had done. 23They built shrines and placed idols on the hilltops and under the green trees. 24There were male prostitutes in their pagan temples. They did every abominable thing that the people the LORD drove out before them had done.
25In the fifth year of Rehoboam’s reign, King Shishak of Egypt sacked Jerusalem. 26He hauled away the treasures in the LORD’s temple and in the king’s palace, including all the golden shields king Solomon had made. 27Rehoboam replaced them with bronze shields and kept them protected under the guards at the door of the palace. 28Whenever the king went into the LORD’s temple, the guards would bring the bronze shields and then return them to the guardroom.
29Now, the rest of the deeds of Rehoboam are written in the Book of the Acts of the Kings of Judah. 30Rehoboam and Jeroboam were constantly at war with each other. 31When Rehoboam died, he was buried with his ancestors in the city of David. His mother was Naamah the Ammonite. His son Abijam succeeded him.
1-3: In Israel there is a crisis in the king’s household. Jeroboam’s son Abijah falls ill. Jeroboam sends his wife to Ahijah, the Shilonite priest who had encouraged him to rebel against Solomon (see 11:29-39), to inquire about what will happen to his son. She disguises herself, though no explanation is given for this. The explanation is probably that Jeroboam knows that Ahijah is no longer a fan of his because he has established a rival cult.
4-5: She heads to Shiloh. Ahijah, meanwhile, has been prepared by the LORD to tell her a lot more than she has come to learn.
6-14: Ahijah recognizes her as soon as she walks in, though he is blind. He tells her that God is going to tear the kingdom away from her husband because 1) he has not been like David, 2) he has not done what was right, 3) he has done more evil than any before him, 4) he has made other gods for himself and cast images, and 5) he has turned his back on God. Verse 13 seems to mean that the child Abijah is the only male member of Jeroboam’s family who will be given an honorable burial.
15-16: Ahijah goes on to say that Jeroboam’s sins will eventually result in the destruction of Israel. That prophecy will come to pass in a couple of hundred years. The judgment of Ahijah is that Jeroboam has put them on that inevitable path because he created his own cult rather than allowing the northern tribes to continue to go to Jerusalem to worship God.
17-18: Jeroboam’s wife returns to Tirzah, the child dies and is buried and mourned by the whole country.
19-20: Jeroboam in his turn also dies after ruling for 22 years. Nothing is said of his burial or of the people mourning him.
21-24: Meanwhile, down south in Jerusalem, Rehoboam has been ruling Judah. He ruled for seventeen years. We learn here that, of all the seven hundred wives Solomon had, Rehoboam’s mother was an Ammonite girl. The Ammonites worshiped other gods (see 11:1-2), and God was not pleased with Solomon’s marriages. Rehoboam is therefore half Israelite and half Ammonite. We were not told that that was one reason the other tribes had rebelled, but you have to wonder if it wasn’t an issue. He has allowed the people to forsake the worship of God and to take part in the Canaanite fertility cults, complete with male prostitutes, which was especially abominable.
25-28: Shishak, Pharaoh of Egypt, has been eying Jerusalem since the time of Solomon. He had rendered some assistance to two of Solomon’s enemies: he had helped Hadad reclaim the kingdom of Edom (see 11:17-21); and he had provided Jeroboam a safe haven while Solomon was still ruling (see 11:40). Now that Rehoboam’s inept leadership has allowed the country to decline, Shishak seizes the opportunity to sack the capital city of Judah, Jerusalem. He carries off everything of value, but it appears to have been a raid and not an invasion, for no indication is given that the Egyptians occupy the country. When they leave, Rehoboam replaces some of the gold they had stolen with similar objects made of bronze.
29-31: Rehoboam dies after 17 years of rule at the age of 58. We learn now that there had been continuous war between him and Jeroboam of Israel. His son Abijam (not to be confused with his son Abijah who died) becomes king.
Rehoboam’s mother Naamah is mentioned twice – in verses 21 and 31. Part of the reason may be because she was a foreigner (an Ammonite), and the historians wanted everyone to know that Rehoboam’s failure as a king might be traced to that part of his parentage. Solomon simply had too many wives, didn’t he? It is also the case that from now on the Queen Mother will seem to have particular responsibilities and perhaps authority in the administrations that follow.
The crumbling of Israel continues, spurred on by blind ambition and lust for power. If you are not guided by prayer and by the desire to please God, you will inevitably wind up either losing everything, or passing the curse on to your children and risk their suffering for the mistakes you made. If you want to dig a little deeper, 2 Chronicles 12 and following contain more details about some of the kings and their reigns. But of course, we’ll get there a chapter at a time.