|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
12:25-33 Jeroboam distrusted the providence of God; he would contrive ways and means, and sinful ones too, for his own safety. A practical disbelief of God's all-sufficiency is at the bottom of all our departures from him. Though it is probable he meant his worship for Jehovah the God of Israel, it was contrary to the Divine law, and dishonourable to the Divine majesty to be thus represented. The people might be less shocked at worshipping the God of Israel under an image, than if they had at once been asked to worship Baal; but it made way for that idolatry. Blessed Lord, give us grace to reverence thy temple, thine ordinances, thine house of prayer, thy sabbaths, and never more, like Jeroboam, to set up in our hearts any idol of abomination. Be thou to us every thing precious; do thou reign and rule in our hearts, the hope of glory.
Verse 29. - And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Daniel [Two considerations seem to have influenced Jeroboam in his choice of these sites. First, both these places were in some sort sanctuaries already. Bethel was already a makom, or holy place, in the days of Abraham; was consecrated by the visions and altar of Jacob (Genesis 28:11-19; Genesis 31:13; Genesis 35:1, 7, 15), and by the ark having been there (Judges 20:26-28, Hebrews; cf. Jos., Ant., 5:02.10). And though Dan (Joshua 19:47; Judges 18:29; Judges 20:1) can hardly have had as sacred a character as the "house of God and the gate of heaven" (Genesis 28:17) had, still it had its shrine and its schismatic priesthood. A grandson of Moses (Judges 18:13, true reading) had ministered there, and his sons were the priests of Dan still. Secondly, these localities would suit the convenience of his subjects, being respectively at the southern and northern extremities of the kingdom. And this, no doubt, was one reason why Dan was chosen in preference to other places, such as Shiloh, which, though more sacred, were less conveniently situated. A sanctuary at Dan would save the northern tribes many tedious journeys. It should be remarked that Bethel properly belonged to Benjamin (Joshua 18:13, 22), though it was also on the border of Ephraim; and it has been suggested that it was Jeroboam's selection of this place as a seat of the calf worship decided the tribe of Benjamin to follow the lead of Judah. But the narrative seems to imply that their choice had been made at an earlier period (ver. 21), and the city would seem to have been long in the possession of the house of Joseph (Judges 1:22). It is now known as Beitin, and is one of the most naked and dreary spots in Palestine. "The place seems, as it were, turned to stone; and we can well imagine that the patriarch found nothing softer than a stone for his pillow." Conder, p. 252, who suggests that from the time of Abraham Bethel was a מָקום, a sacred place merely (Genesis 28:11), and distinct from the adjoining city of Luz (ver. 19).]
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And he set the one in Bethel,.... In the southern part of the land, on the border of Ephraim and Benjamin; and the rather he chose this place, because its name signifies the house of God, and had been a sacred place, where Jacob more than once enjoyed the divine Presence:
and the other put he in Dan: in the northern part of the land, for the convenience of the inhabitants of those parts; and the rather, since it had been a place resorted to in former times, because of the teraphim of Micah there.
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