1 Kings 12
Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition
The Northern Tribes Secede
12 Rehobo′am went to Shechem,[a] for all Israel had come to Shechem to make him king. 2 And when Jerobo′am the son of Nebat heard of it (for he was still in Egypt, whither he had fled from King Solomon), then Jerobo′am returned from[b] Egypt. 3 And they sent and called him; and Jerobo′am and all the assembly of Israel came and said to Rehobo′am, 4 “Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke upon us, and we will serve you.” 5 He said to them, “Depart for three days, then come again to me.” So the people went away.
6 Then King Rehobo′am took counsel with the old men, who had stood before Solomon his father while he was yet alive, saying, “How do you advise me to answer this people?” 7 And they said to him, “If you will be a servant to this people today and serve them, and speak good words to them when you answer them, then they will be your servants for ever.” 8 But he forsook the counsel which the old men gave him, and took counsel with the young men who had grown up with him and stood before him. 9 And he said to them, “What do you advise that we answer this people who have said to me, ‘Lighten the yoke that your father put upon us’?” 10 And the young men who had grown up with him said to him, “Thus shall you speak to this people who said to you, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but do you lighten it for us’; thus shall you say to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins. 11 And now, whereas my father laid upon you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.’”
12 So Jerobo′am and all the people came to Rehobo′am the third day, as the king said, “Come to me again the third day.” 13 And the king answered the people harshly, and forsaking the counsel which the old men had given him, 14 he spoke to them according to the counsel of the young men, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.” 15 So the king did not hearken to the people; for it was a turn of affairs brought about by the Lord that he might fulfil his word, which the Lord spoke by Ahi′jah the Shi′lonite to Jerobo′am the son of Nebat.
16 And when all Israel saw that the king did not hearken to them, the people answered the king,
“What portion have we in David?
We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse.
To your tents, O Israel!
Look now to your own house, David.”
First Dynasty: Jeroboam Reigns over Israel
So Israel departed to their tents. 17 But Rehobo′am reigned over the people of Israel who dwelt in the cities of Judah. 18 Then King Rehobo′am sent Ador′am, who was taskmaster over the forced labor, and all Israel stoned him to death with stones. And King Rehobo′am made haste to mount his chariot, to flee to Jerusalem. 19 So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day. 20 And when all Israel heard that Jerobo′am had returned, they sent and called him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel. There was none that followed the house of David, but the tribe of Judah only.
21 When Rehobo′am came to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah, and the tribe of Benjamin, a hundred and eighty thousand chosen warriors, to fight against the house of Israel, to restore the kingdom to Rehobo′am the son of Solomon. 22 But the word of God came to Shemai′ah the man of God: 23 “Say to Rehobo′am the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all the house of Judah and Benjamin, and to the rest of the people, 24 ‘Thus says the Lord, You shall not go up or fight against your kinsmen the people of Israel. Return every man to his home, for this thing is from me.’” So they hearkened to the word of the Lord, and went home again, according to the word of the Lord.
Jeroboam’s Golden Calves
25 Then Jerobo′am built Shechem in the hill country of E′phraim, and dwelt there; and he went out from there and built Penu′el. 26 And Jerobo′am said in his heart, “Now the kingdom will turn back to the house of David; 27 if this people go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will turn again to their lord, to Rehobo′am king of Judah, and they will kill me and return to Rehobo′am king of Judah.” 28 So the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold. And he said to the people, “You have gone up to Jerusalem long enough. Behold your gods,[c] O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.” 29 And he set one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. 30 And this thing became a sin, for the people went to the one at Bethel and to the other as far as Dan.[d] 31 He also made houses on high places, and appointed priests from among all the people, who were not of the Levites. 32 And Jerobo′am appointed a feast on the fifteenth day of the eighth month like the feast that was in Judah, and he offered sacrifices upon the altar; so he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves that he had made. And he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places that he had made. 33 He went up to the altar which he had made in Bethel on the fifteenth day in the eighth month, in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and he ordained a feast for the people of Israel, and went up to the altar to burn incense.
- 12.1 Shechem was the old religious center of the northern tribes. The alliance between these and Judah was never very strong, even during the united monarchy.
- 1 Kings 12:2 Gk Vg Compare 2 Chron 10.2: Heb dwelt in
- 12.28 Behold your gods: Jeroboam seems to have had no intention of introducing false gods. These were to be images of Yahweh. But in doing this he debased the whole idea of true worship and made it more like pagan religion, to which it was bound to lead in the end; cf. 16.31. Judah, with all its advantages of temple and dynasty, was no better at this time, but reforms were instituted at intervals.
- 1 Kings 12:30 Gk: Heb went to the one as far as Dan