The Word Made Fresh
1When Rehoboam returned to Jerusalem he summoned one hundred eighty thousand crack troops from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin to attack Israel and restore the whole kingdom to him. 2But this word from the LORD came to Shemaiah the man of God: 3“Tell king Rehoboam of Judah, son of Solomon, and all the Israelites in the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, 4that the LORD says you shall not go against your relatives. Let all the people go home, for this thing is from me.” The people listened to the word of the LORD and gave up the plans to attack Jeroboam.
5Rehoboam resided in Jerusalem. He built up defensive outposts in Judah: 6Bethlehem, Etam, Tekoa, 7Beth-Zur, Soco, Adullam, 8Gath, Mareshah, Ziph, 9Adoraim, Lachish, Azekah, 10Zorah, Aijalon, and Hebron. He fortified them in the territory of Judah and Benjamin. 11He strengthened them and placed commanders there with troops and stores of food and oil and wine. 12He stocked them with large shields and spears and made them strong so that he could hold on to Judah and Benjamin.
13The priests and Levites from all over Israel continued to report to Rehoboam for their duties. 14Levites left their lands and holdings and came to Judah and Jerusalem because Jeroboam and his people wouldn’t allow them to serve as the LORD’s priests. 15He had appointed his own priests for the hilltop shrines to serve the goat demons and calves he had made. 16Others whose hearts led them to seek the LORD God of Israel came with the Levites from the other tribes of Israel to sacrifice to the LORD, the God of their ancestors, in Jerusalem. 17They strengthened the kingdom of Judah and made Rehoboam son of Solomon secure for three years for they lived according to the rule of David and Solomon.
18Rehoboam married Mahalath daughter of Jerimoth son of David and Abihail daughter of Eliab son of Jesse. 19She gave birth to his sons, Jeush, Shemariah, and Zaham. 20Then he married Maacah daughter of Absalom, and she bore Abijah, Attai, Ziza, and Shelomith. 21He loved Maacah more than his other wives, eighteen in all, and more than his sixty concubines. He became the father of twenty-eight sons and sixty daughters.
22Rehoboam appointed Abijah son of Maacah as first prince among his sons, intending for him to ascend to the throne. 23He was wise to appoint his sons to government positions through all the districts of Judah and Benjamin in all the fortified cities. He gave them plenty of provisions, and found many wives for them.
(See 1 Kings 12:21-24)
1-4: Rehoboam musters an army to try to subdue Israel (the northern tribes) by force but is advised by Shemaiah the man of God that the division of the kingdom is God’s doing. Rehoboam sends his troops home.
5-12: Rehoboam gets busy fortifying his territory in the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. He turns a number of cities into fortresses as a line of defense. (This also gives Jeroboam time to secure his rule over the northern tribes and raise an army of his own.)
13-17: The priests and Levites in the north abandon Jeroboam and his administration and come to Jerusalem in support of Rehoboam. Jeroboam has instituted a rival cult in Samaria, so his citizens won’t have to go to Jerusalem for the festivals.
18-23: Rehoboam marries within the royal family but has children by many concubines. He wisely gives some of his sons their own responsibilities around the country which serves the double purpose of training them to be useful and getting them out of Jerusalem. He finds wives for them and keeps them happy as well as busy. He has learned from his ancestors that the old saying, “idle hands are the devil’s workshop,” is twice as applicable to the royal family.
Rehoboam’s reign actually starts out promisingly. Before Jeroboam has time to organize and militarize the northern tribes, Rehoboam moves quickly to fortify his remaining territory. Since Jeroboam set up pagan shrines in the north, priests and Levites migrate to the territories of Judah and Benjamin in order to maintain their service in the temple in Jerusalem. So far Rehoboam’s rule seems to be going quite well except for his stupid comment about his little finger being heavier than his father’s waist. But who was he? His mother was one of the pagan women his father Solomon had courted and married. Would his faithfulness to the God of Israel remain strong? Tune in tomorrow to find out.