|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
12:1-15 The tribes complained not to Rehoboam of his father's idolatry, and revolt from God. That which was the greatest grievance, was none to them; so careless were they in matters of religion, if they might live at case, and pay no taxes. Factious spirits will never want something to complain of. And when we see the Scripture account of Solomon's reign; the peace, wealth, and prosperity Israel then enjoyed; we cannot doubt but that their charges were false, or far beyond the truth. Rehoboam answered the people according to the counsel of the young men. Never was man more blinded by pride, and desire of arbitrary power, than which nothing is more fatal. God's counsels were hereby fulfilled. He left Rehoboam to his own folly, and hid from his eyes the things which belonged to his peace, that the kingdom might be rent from him. God serves his own wise and righteous purposes by the imprudences and sins of men. Those that lose the kingdom of heaven, throw it away, as Rehoboam, by wilfulness and folly.
Verse 1. - And Rehoboam [see on 1 Kings 11:26, and compare the name Αὐρύδημος. The name possibly indicates Solomon's ambitious hopes respecting him. The irony of history alone emphasizes it. Ecclesiastes 2:18, 19 would seem to show that Solomon himself had misgivings as to his son's abilities. "As the greatest persons cannot give themselves children, so the wisest cannot give their children wisdom" (Hall). His mother was Naamah, an Ammonitess (1 Kings 14:31). It would appear from 1 Kings 14:21, and 2 Chronicles 12:13, that he was 41 years of age at his accession. But this is, to say the least, doubtful. For
(1) he is described in 2 Chronicles 13:7 as being "young (נַעַר) and tender hearted."
(2) The LXX. addition to 1 Kings 12:24 says he was sixteen; υἱὸς ω}ν ἑκκαίδεκα ἐτῶν ἐν τῶ βασιλεύειν αὐτὸν.
(3) It is hardly probable that Solomon, who was himself "young and tender" at his father's death, should then have had a son a year old.
(4) Rehoboam's counsellors, who had "grown up with him," and were therefore of the same age as himself, are called "lads" (יְלָדִים, LXX. παισάρια). To these reasons Rawlinson adds a fifth, viz. "that it is hardly likely that David would have permitted his son to marry an Ammonitess, which of course he must have done, if Rehoboam was born in his lifetime. But it should be remembered that David had himself married a foreign princess, Maachah, daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur (1 Chronicles 3:2). There is greater force in the remark that Solomon's marriages with Ammonite and Moabite women belong apparently to a later period of his life (1 Kings 11:1). Altogether the evidence seems to point to a corruption of the text of 1 Kings 14:21, etc., and it has been suggested that "forty-one" is there an error of transcription for "twenty-one," a mistake easily made, if, as is extremely probable, the ancient Hebrews, like the later, used the letters of the alphabet as numerals. Twenty-one would then be כא; forty-one מא] went to [This journey was probably made soon after a prior coronation at Jerusalem. According to the LXX. addition, it was at least a year after his accession] Shechem [An old gathering place of the northern tribes (Joshua 24:1). Its position, in the very centre of Palestine, fitted it for this purpose. ("Shechem may be considered the natural capital of Palestine," Conder, p. 16.) But it was perhaps primarily selected because it was the capital of Ephraim, not because it was a "national sanctuary of Israel" (Wordsworth), a title to which it has but little claim. It had once before furnished Ephraim with a king (Judges 9:2). We learn from Joshua 20:7 that it was "in Mount Ephraim;" from Judges 9:7 that it was under Mount Gerizim. To its position the place was, no doubt, indebted for its name. It is often said to be doubtful whether the place was named after Shechem, the son of Hamor (Genesis 33:18), or whether this prince took his name from the place. The latter is, no doubt, the correct view. For Shechem means strictly, not, as it is often translated, the "shoulder," but dorsi pars superior, or perhaps the space between the shoulder blades (as is proved by Job 31:22, "Let my shoulder fall," משִּׁכְמָה). Hence the word is found only in the singular (see Gesen., Thessalonians 3. p. 1407). Now any one who has seen the vale of Shechem (Nablus) will hardly doubt that its name is due to its resemblance to this part of the body (compare "Ezion-geber," 1 Kings 9:26). The town lies in a valley between the two ridges of Ebal and Gerizim; cf. Jos., Ant. 4:08. 44. "The feet of these mountains where they rise from the town [to the height of 1000 feet] are not more than 500 yards apart." It is consequently one of the most striking and beautiful spots in Palestine, and the more so as its perennial supply of water clothes it with perpetual verdure. For its history see Genesis 12:6; Genesis 33:18; Genesis 34; Genesis 48:22; Deuteronomy 27:4-12; Joshua 20:7; Joshua 21:20; Joshua 24:1, 25, 32; Judges 9; etc. In the New Testament it has been supposed to appear under the form Sychar (John 4:5), and this variation has been universally accounted for as a paronomasia, ֶשקֶר meaning "a lie." But the recent survey has given us good reasons for identifying the place last named with 'Askar, a little village on the slope of Ebal, half a mile from Jacob's well and a little over a mile from Nablus (Condor, pp. 40, 41) ]: for [This word suggests that Rehoboam had not "selected the capital of Ephraim to be the scene" of his coronation (Rawl.) but that he went thither because the northern tribes claimed this concession. They demanded apparently that he should meet them to receive their homage in the territory of Ephraim. It was a recognition of the importance of the tribe, and there they could the better urge their demands] all Israel [That is, not the twelve tribes (Ewald), but the ten, or their representatives. The name of Israel was already identified with the ten, or rather eleven, tribes (see 2 Samuel 2:9, 10, 17, 28). It is highly probable that the comparative isolation of Judah from the rest of the tribes (see Dict. Bib. vol. 1. p. 1157) had led to this result. Indeed, this fact - that the term "Israel" was used of the whole nation, exclusive of the tribe of Judah - shows in a very significant way the alienation of Judah from the rest] were come to Shoehorn to make him king. [It would certainly seem from these words as if the ten tribes had then no settled idea of revolting. Kimchi sees in the very selection of Shechem a proof that they were only "seeking an opportunity for transferring the government to Jeroboam." Similarly Keil. But the glories of Solomon's reign and the traditions of the house of David would surely make them hesitate, even if they had heard of the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite (1 Kings 11:29), before they wantonly broke away from Rehoboam. And the text says expressly that they had assembled to "make him king," i.e., to accept him as such, to anoint him (1 Chronicles 12:38 compared with 2 Samuel 2:4; 2 Samuel 5:8 shows that הִמְלִיך is synonymous with מָשַׁך לְמֶלֶך, Keil), after the example of Saul (1 Samuel 2:15), David (2 Samuel 2:4; 2 Samuel 5:3), and Solomon (ch. 1:39; 1 Chronicles 29:22). No doubt, as the context shows, they intended to stipulate for an alleviation of burdens, etc., and their selection of Shechem as the place where they would render their allegiance was a "significant hint" (Ewald. "The very place puts Israel in mind of a rebellion," Bp. Hall) to Rehoboam. Their putting forward Jeroboam as their spokesman -presuming for the present that the received text of ver. 3 is to be retained, as to which, however, see below - was a further hint, or rather a plain indication, that they did not mean to be trifled with. It is not a proof, however, as Keil maintains, that they had already determined to make the latter king, for they distinctly said to Rehoboam (ver. 4), "Grant our petition and we will serve thee." (Ewald, who says "they had the fullest intentions of confirming his power as king if their wishes were granted," points out how this fact makes against the received text, according to which they had already summoned Jeroboam from Egypt.) It is clear from this and the passages cited above that the Jewish people at this period of their history were accustomed, not indeed to choose their king, but to confirm him in his office by public acclamation.]
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Rehoboam went to Shechem,.... After the death and internment of his father:
for all Israel were come to Shechem to make him king: as was pretended, though in reality it was to seek occasion against him, and make Jeroboam king; it is very probable they knew of the prophecy of Ahijah, and therefore would not go to Jerusalem, but to Shechem, a city in the tribe of Ephraim, of which Jeroboam was, and where he had sowed the seeds of sedition when ruler there; and this place they chose, partly because they could more freely speak what they had in their minds, and partly for the safety of Jeroboam they had sent for on this occasion; so that Rehoboam went thither not of choice, but of necessity. The Jews (c) observe that this place was very ominous; here Dinah was ravished, Joseph was sold, Abimelech exercised tyranny, and here now the kingdom was divided.
(c) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 102. 1.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
1Ki 12:1-5. Refusing the Old Men's Counsel.
1. Rehoboam went to Shechem—He was the oldest, and perhaps the only son of Solomon, and had been, doubtless, designated by his father heir to the throne, as Solomon had been by David. The incident here related took place after the funeral obsequies of the late king and the period for public mourning had past. When all Israel came to make him king, it was not to exercise their old right of election (1Sa 10:19-21), for, after God's promise of the perpetual sovereignty to David's posterity, their duty was submission to the authority of the rightful heir; but their object was, when making him king, to renew the conditions and stipulations to which their constitutional kings were subject (1Sa 10:25). To the omission of such rehearsing which, under the peculiar circumstances in which Solomon was made king, they were disposed to ascribe the absolutism of his government.
Shechem—This ancient, venerable, and central town was the place of convocation; and it is evident, if not from the appointment of that place, at least from the tenor of their language, and the concerted presence of Jeroboam [1Ki 12:3], that the people were determined on revolt.
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