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Israel Refuses to Follow Rehoboam

12 Rehoboam went to the city of Shechem. All the Israelites had gone there to make him king. Jeroboam heard about it. He was the son of Nebat. Jeroboam was still in Egypt at that time. He had gone there for safety. He wanted to get away from King Solomon. But now he returned from Egypt. So the people sent for Jeroboam. He and the whole community of Israel went to Rehoboam. They said to him, “Your father put a heavy load on our shoulders. But now make our hard work easier. Make the heavy load on us lighter. Then we’ll serve you.”

Rehoboam answered, “Go away for three days. Then come back to me.” So the people went away.

King Rehoboam asked the elders for advice. They had served his father Solomon while he was still living. Rehoboam asked them, “What advice can you give me? How should I answer these people?”

They replied, “Serve them today. Give them what they are asking for. Then they’ll always serve you.”

But Rehoboam didn’t accept the advice the elders gave him. Instead, he asked for advice from the young men. They had grown up with him and were now serving him. He asked them, “What’s your advice? How should I answer these people? They say to me, ‘Make the load your father put on our shoulders lighter.’ ”

10 The young men who had grown up with him gave their answer. They replied, “These people have said to you, ‘Your father put a heavy load on our shoulders. Make it lighter.’ Now tell them, ‘My little finger is stronger than my father’s legs. 11 My father put a heavy load on your shoulders. But I’ll make it even heavier. My father beat you with whips. But I’ll beat you with bigger whips.’ ”

12 Three days later Jeroboam and all the people returned to Rehoboam. That’s because the king had said, “Come back to me in three days.” 13 The king answered the people in a mean way. He didn’t accept the advice the elders had given him. 14 Instead, he followed the advice of the young men. He said, “My father put a heavy load on your shoulders. But I’ll make it even heavier. My father beat you with whips. But I’ll beat you with bigger whips.” 15 So the king didn’t listen to the people. That’s because the Lord had planned it that way. What he had said through Ahijah came true. Ahijah had spoken the Lord’s message to Jeroboam, the son of Nebat. Ahijah was from Shiloh.

16 All the Israelites saw that the king refused to listen to them. So they answered the king. They said,

“We don’t have any share in David’s royal family.
    We don’t have any share in Jesse’s son.
People of Israel, let’s go back to our homes.
    David’s royal family, take care of your own kingdom!”

So the Israelites went home. 17 But Rehoboam still ruled over the Israelites living in the towns of Judah.

18 Adoniram was in charge of those who were forced to work hard for King Rehoboam. The king sent him out among all the Israelites. But they killed Adoniram by throwing stones at him. King Rehoboam was able to get away in his chariot. He escaped to Jerusalem. 19 Israel has refused to follow the royal family of David to this day.

20 All the Israelites heard that Jeroboam had returned. They sent for him. They wanted him to meet with the whole community. Then they made him king over the entire nation of Israel. Only the tribe of Judah remained true to David’s royal family.

21 Rehoboam arrived in Jerusalem. He brought together 180,000 capable young men from Judah and the tribe of Benjamin. He had decided to go to war against Israel. Solomon’s son Rehoboam wanted his fighting men to get the kingdom of Israel back for him.

22 But a message from God came to Shemaiah. He was a man of God. God said to him, 23 “Speak to Solomon’s son Rehoboam, the king of Judah. Speak to all Judah and the tribe of Benjamin. Also speak to the rest of the people. Tell all of them, 24 ‘The Lord says, “Do not go up to fight against the Israelites. They are your relatives. I want every one of you to go back home. Things have happened exactly the way I planned them.” ’ ” So the fighting men obeyed the Lord’s message. They went home again, just as he had ordered.

Golden Calves at Bethel and Dan

25 Jeroboam built up the walls of Shechem. It was in the hill country of Ephraim. Jeroboam made Shechem his home. From there he went out and built up Peniel.

26 Jeroboam thought, “My kingdom still isn’t secure. It could very easily go back to the royal family of David. 27 Suppose the Israelites go up to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices at the Lord’s temple. If they do, they will again decide to follow Rehoboam as their master. Then they’ll kill me. They’ll return to King Rehoboam. He is king of Judah.”

28 So King Jeroboam asked for advice. Then he made two golden statues that looked like calves. He said to the people, “It’s too hard for you to go up to Jerusalem. Israel, here are your gods who brought you up out of Egypt.” 29 He set up one statue in Bethel. He set up the other one in Dan. 30 What Jeroboam did was sinful. And it caused Israel to sin. The people came to worship the statue at Bethel. They went all the way to Dan to worship the statue that was there.

31 Jeroboam built temples for worshiping gods on high places. He appointed all kinds of people as priests. They didn’t even have to be Levites. 32 He established a feast. It was on the 15th day of the eighth month. He wanted to make it like the Feast of Booths that was held in Judah. Jeroboam built an altar at Bethel. He offered sacrifices on it. He sacrificed to the calves he had made. He also put priests in Bethel. He did it at the high places he had made. 33 He offered sacrifices on the altar he had built at Bethel. It was on the 15th day of the eighth month. That’s the month he had chosen for it. So he established the feast for the Israelites. And he went up to the altar to sacrifice offerings.

Israel Rebels Against Rehoboam(A)

12 Rehoboam went to Shechem,(B) for all Israel had gone there to make him king. When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard this (he was still in Egypt, where he had fled(C) from King Solomon), he returned from[a] Egypt. So they sent for Jeroboam, and he and the whole assembly of Israel went to Rehoboam and said to him: “Your father put a heavy yoke(D) on us, but now lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you.”

Rehoboam answered, “Go away for three days and then come back to me.” So the people went away.

Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders(E) who had served his father Solomon during his lifetime. “How would you advise me to answer these people?” he asked.

They replied, “If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer,(F) they will always be your servants.”

But Rehoboam rejected(G) the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him. He asked them, “What is your advice? How should we answer these people who say to me, ‘Lighten the yoke your father put on us’?”

10 The young men who had grown up with him replied, “These people have said to you, ‘Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but make our yoke lighter.’ Now tell them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist. 11 My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.’”

12 Three days later Jeroboam and all the people returned to Rehoboam, as the king had said, “Come back to me in three days.” 13 The king answered the people harshly. Rejecting the advice given him by the elders, 14 he followed the advice of the young men and said, “My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged(H) you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.” 15 So the king did not listen to the people, for this turn of events was from the Lord,(I) to fulfill the word the Lord had spoken to Jeroboam son of Nebat through Ahijah(J) the Shilonite.

16 When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, they answered the king:

“What share(K) do we have in David,
    what part in Jesse’s son?
To your tents, Israel!(L)
    Look after your own house, David!”

So the Israelites went home.(M) 17 But as for the Israelites who were living in the towns of Judah,(N) Rehoboam still ruled over them.

18 King Rehoboam sent out Adoniram,[b](O) who was in charge of forced labor, but all Israel stoned him to death.(P) King Rehoboam, however, managed to get into his chariot and escape to Jerusalem. 19 So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David(Q) to this day.

20 When all the Israelites heard that Jeroboam had returned, they sent and called him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel. Only the tribe of Judah remained loyal to the house of David.(R)

21 When Rehoboam arrived in Jerusalem, he mustered all Judah and the tribe of Benjamin—a hundred and eighty thousand able young men—to go to war(S) against Israel and to regain the kingdom for Rehoboam son of Solomon.

22 But this word of God came to Shemaiah(T) the man of God:(U) 23 “Say to Rehoboam son of Solomon king of Judah, to all Judah and Benjamin, and to the rest of the people, 24 ‘This is what the Lord says: Do not go up to fight against your brothers, the Israelites. Go home, every one of you, for this is my doing.’” So they obeyed the word of the Lord and went home again, as the Lord had ordered.

Golden Calves at Bethel and Dan

25 Then Jeroboam fortified Shechem(V) in the hill country of Ephraim and lived there. From there he went out and built up Peniel.[c](W)

26 Jeroboam thought to himself, “The kingdom will now likely revert to the house of David. 27 If these people go up to offer sacrifices at the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem,(X) they will again give their allegiance to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah. They will kill me and return to King Rehoboam.”

28 After seeking advice, the king made two golden calves.(Y) He said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”(Z) 29 One he set up in Bethel,(AA) and the other in Dan.(AB) 30 And this thing became a sin;(AC) the people came to worship the one at Bethel and went as far as Dan to worship the other.[d]

31 Jeroboam built shrines(AD) on high places and appointed priests(AE) from all sorts of people, even though they were not Levites. 32 He instituted a festival on the fifteenth day of the eighth(AF) month, like the festival held in Judah, and offered sacrifices on the altar. This he did in Bethel,(AG) sacrificing to the calves he had made. And at Bethel he also installed priests at the high places he had made. 33 On the fifteenth day of the eighth month, a month of his own choosing, he offered sacrifices on the altar he had built at Bethel.(AH) So he instituted the festival for the Israelites and went up to the altar to make offerings.

Footnotes

  1. 1 Kings 12:2 Or he remained in
  2. 1 Kings 12:18 Some Septuagint manuscripts and Syriac (see also 4:6 and 5:14); Hebrew Adoram
  3. 1 Kings 12:25 Hebrew Penuel, a variant of Peniel
  4. 1 Kings 12:30 Probable reading of the original Hebrew text; Masoretic Text people went to the one as far as Dan

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