1 Kings 11:14-43
God incited Hadad, a descendant of the king of Edom, into hostile actions against Solomon. Years earlier, when David devastated Edom, Joab, commander of the army, on his way to bury the dead, massacred all the men of Edom. Joab and his army stayed there for six months, making sure they had killed every man in Edom. Hadad, just a boy at the time, had escaped with some of the Edomites who had worked for his father. Their escape route took them through Midian to Paran. They picked up some men in Paran and went on to Egypt and to Pharaoh king of Egypt, who gave Hadad a house, food, and even land. Pharaoh liked him so well that he gave him the sister of his wife, Queen Tahpenes, in marriage. She bore Hadad a son named Genubath who was raised like one of the royal family. Genubath grew up in the palace with Pharaoh’s children.
While living in Egypt, Hadad heard that both David and Joab, commander of the army, were dead. He approached Pharaoh and said, “Send me off with your blessing—I want to return to my country.”
“But why?” said Pharaoh. “Why would you want to leave here? Hasn’t everything been to your liking?”
“Everything has been just fine,” said Hadad, “but I want to go home—give me a good send-off!”
Then God incited another adversary against Solomon, Rezon son of Eliada, who had deserted from his master, Hadadezer king of Zobah. After David’s slaughter of the Arameans, Rezon collected a band of outlaws and became their leader. They later settled in Damascus, where Rezon eventually took over as king. Like Hadad, Rezon was a thorn in Israel’s side all of Solomon’s life. He was king over Aram, and he hated Israel.
And then, the last straw: Jeroboam son of Nebat rebelled against the king. He was an Ephraimite from Zeredah, his mother a widow named Zeruah. He served in Solomon’s administration.
This is why he rebelled. Solomon had built the outer defense system (the Millo) and had restored the fortifications that were in disrepair from the time of his father David. Jeroboam stood out during the construction as strong and able. When Solomon observed what a good worker he was, he put the young man in charge of the entire workforce of the tribe of Joseph.
One day Jeroboam was walking down the road out of Jerusalem. Ahijah the prophet of Shiloh, wearing a brand-new cloak, met him. The two of them were alone on that remote stretch of road. Ahijah took off the new cloak that he was wearing and ripped it into twelve pieces.
Then he said to Jeroboam, “Take ten of these pieces for yourself; this is by order of the God of Israel: See what I’m doing—I’m ripping the kingdom out of Solomon’s hands and giving you ten of the tribes. In honor of my servant David and out of respect for Jerusalem, the city I especially chose, he will get one tribe. And here’s the reason: He faithlessly abandoned me and went off worshiping Ashtoreth goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh god of the Moabites, and Molech god of the Ammonites. He hasn’t lived the way I have shown him, hasn’t done what I have wanted, and hasn’t followed directions or obeyed orders as his father David did.
“Still, I won’t take the whole kingdom away from him. I’ll stick with him through his lifetime because of my servant David whom I chose and who did follow my directions and obey my orders. But after that I’ll remove the kingdom from his son’s control and give you ten tribes. I’ll leave one tribe to his son, to maintain a witness to my servant David in Jerusalem, the city I chose as a memorial to my Name.
“But I have taken you in hand. Rule to your heart’s content! You are to be the king of Israel. If you listen to what I tell you and live the way I show you and do what pleases me, following directions and obeying orders as my servant David did, I’ll stick with you no matter what. I’ll build you a kingdom as solid as the one I built for David. Israel will be yours! I am bringing pain and trouble on David’s descendants, but the trials won’t last forever.”
Solomon ordered the assassination of Jeroboam, but he got away to Egypt and found asylum there with King Shishak. He remained in exile there until Solomon died.
The rest of Solomon’s life and rule, his work and his wisdom, you can read for yourself in The Chronicles of Solomon. Solomon ruled in Jerusalem over all Israel for forty years. He died and was buried in the City of David his father. His son Rehoboam was the next king.
1 Kings 12:1-24
Rehoboam traveled to Shechem where all Israel had gathered to inaugurate him as king. Jeroboam had been in Egypt, where he had taken asylum from King Solomon; when he got the report of Solomon’s death he had come back.
Rehoboam assembled Jeroboam and all the people. They said to Rehoboam, “Your father made life hard for us—worked our fingers to the bone. Give us a break; lighten up on us and we’ll willingly serve you.”
“Give me three days to think it over, then come back,” Rehoboam said.
King Rehoboam talked it over with the elders who had advised his father when he was alive: “What’s your counsel? How do you suggest that I answer the people?”
They said, “If you will be a servant to this people, be considerate of their needs and respond with compassion, work things out with them, they’ll end up doing anything for you.”
But he rejected the counsel of the elders and asked the young men he’d grown up with who were now currying his favor, “What do you think? What should I say to these people who are saying, ‘Give us a break from your father’s harsh ways—lighten up on us’?”
The young turks he’d grown up with said, “These people who complain, ‘Your father was too hard on us; lighten up’—well, tell them this: ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist. If you think life under my father was hard, you haven’t seen the half of it. My father thrashed you with whips; I’ll beat you bloody with chains!’”
Three days later Jeroboam and the people showed up, just as Rehoboam had directed when he said, “Give me three days to think it over, then come back.” The king’s answer was harsh and rude. He spurned the counsel of the elders and went with the advice of the younger set, “If you think life under my father was hard, you haven’t seen the half of it. My father thrashed you with whips; I’ll beat you bloody with chains!”
Rehoboam turned a deaf ear to the people. God was behind all this, confirming the message that he had given to Jeroboam son of Nebat through Ahijah of Shiloh.
When all Israel realized that the king hadn’t listened to a word they’d said, they stood up to him and said,
Get lost, David!
We’ve had it with you, son of Jesse!
Let’s get out of here, Israel, and fast!
From now on, David, mind your own business.
And with that, they left. But Rehoboam continued to rule those who lived in the towns of Judah.
When King Rehoboam next sent out Adoniram, head of the workforce, the Israelites ganged up on him, pelted him with stones, and killed him. King Rehoboam jumped in his chariot and fled to Jerusalem as fast as he could. Israel has been in rebellion against the Davidic regime ever since.
Jeroboam of Israel
When the word was out that Jeroboam was back and available, the assembled people invited him and inaugurated him king over all Israel. The only tribe left to the Davidic dynasty was Judah.
When Rehoboam got back to Jerusalem, he called up the men of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin, a 180,000 of their best soldiers, to go to war against Israel and recover the kingdom for Rehoboam son of Solomon.
At this time the word of God came to Shemaiah, a man of God: “Tell this to Rehoboam son of Solomon king of Judah, along with everyone in Judah and Benjamin and anyone else who is around: This is God’s word: Don’t march out; don’t fight against your brothers the Israelites; go back home, every last one of you; I’m in charge here.” And they did it; they did what God said and went home.