|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 11. - And now whereas my father did lade you with [or, lay upon you] a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke: my father chastised you with whips [It is probable that the expression is not entirely figurative. It is quite possible that the levies of Amorites, Hittites (1 Kings 9:20), etc., had been kept at their toils by the lash], but I will chastise you with scorpions. ["The very words have stings" (Hall). It is generally held that there is here "no allusion whatever to the animal, but to some instrument of scourging - unless, indeed, the expression is a mere figure" (Dict. Bib. 3. p. 1161). Perhaps it is safer to understand it as a figure of speech, although the scorpion, unlike the serpent, is little like, or adapted to use as, a lash. Probably it was in the pain the whip caused that the resemblance lay (Romans 9:5). All the commentators mention that the later Romans used a whip called a "scorpio," and cite Isidore (Orig. 5, 27) in proof. Gesenius, Keil, al. understand "whips with barbed points, like the point of a scorpion's sting;" the Rabbins, Virgae spinis instructae; others, the thorny stem of the eggplant, by some called the "scorpion plant." Compare our use of the word "cat." "The yoke and whips go together, and are the signs of labouring service (Ecclus. 30:26, or 33:27)" Bahr.]
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And now, whereas my father did lade you with a heavy yoke,.... Which was putting words into his mouth, owning the charge and accusation brought against his father, as he did, 1 Kings 12:14, which was very unbecoming, if true; unless this is said according to the sense of the people:
I will add to your yoke; make it heavier, lay more taxes on them:
my father hath chastised you with whips; which was putting a lie into his mouth, and which he uttered, 1 Kings 12:14 for no instance of severity exercised on the people in general can be given during the whole reign of Solomon:
but I will chastise you with scorpions; treat them more roughly, and with greater rigour: whips may mean smaller ones, these horse whips, as in the Targum; which gave an acute pain, like the sting of scorpions, or made a wound like one. Ben Gersom says, these were rods with thorns on them, which pierced and gave much pain. Weemse (h) thinks these are alluded to by thorns in the sides, Numbers 33:55, for whipping with them was about the sides, and not along the back. Abarbinel calls them iron thorns, rods that had iron prongs or rowels to them, which tore the flesh extremely. Isidore (i) says, a rod that is smooth is called a rod, but, if knotty and prickled, it is rightly called a scorpion, because it makes a wound in the body arched or crooked. Pliny (k) ascribes the invention of this sort of scorpions to the Cretians.
(h) Christian Synagogue, paragraph 6. diatrib. 2. p. 190. (i) Origin. l. 5. c. 27. p. 39. (k) Nat. Hist. l. 7. c. 56.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
11. whips … scorpions—The latter [instruments], as contrasted with the former, are supposed to mean thongs thickly set with sharp iron points, used in the castigation of slaves.
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