|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 31. - And he made an house of high places [See on 1 Kings 3:2, and cf. 2 Kings 17:29. It is often assumed (Keil, Rawlinson, al. after Josephus) that Jeroboam built two temples for his cherubim, and the statement of the text, that he built one, is explained on the ground that the historian contrasts the "house of high places" with the "house of the Lord." Ewald, too, after 2 Kings 17:29, 32, understands the words as plural. But is it not more probable that a chapel or sanctuary already existed at Dan, where an irregular priesthood had ministered for more than four hundred years? This verse would then refer exclusively to Jeroboam's procedure at Bethel (see next verse). There he built a temple and ordained a number of priests, but Dan had both already. We know that the Danite priests carried on the calf worship to the time of the captivity (Judges 18:30). This "house of high places" has grown in Ewald's pages into "a splendid temple in Canaanite style"], and made priests of the lowest of the people [Heb. מִקְצות "from the ends," i.e., from all classes, ex universe populo (Gesen.), and not, as the writer explains presently, from the tribe of Levi alone. Genesis 19:4, Judges 18:20, Ezekiel 33:2, prove this to be the correct interpretation of the word. Rawlinson, who remarks that "Jeroboam could have no motive for specially selecting persons of low condition," does not thereby dispose of the A.V. rendering, for the historian might mean that some of Jeroboam's priests were of the lowest stamp, because he could find no others, or because he was so little scrupulous as to take them. "Leaden priests are well fitted to golden deities" (Hall)], which were not of the sons of Levi. [Jeroboam would doubtless have been only too glad to have retained the services of the Levitical priests, but they went over in a body to Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:13). The statement of ver. 14, that, "Jeroboam and his sons" had "cast them out," suggests that they had refused to take part in his new cult and that thereupon he banished them, and, no doubt, confiscated their possessions. The idea of Stanley, that "following the precedent of the deposition of Abiathar by Solomon, he removed from their places the whole of the sacerdotal order," is a wild conjecture for which Scripture affords not the slightest warrant.]
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And he made an house of high places,.... Or "altars" (s), built a temple at Dan, and set up several altars in it for sacrifice, both for burnt offerings, and for incense, as at Jerusalem:
and made priests of the lowest of the people; this clause seems not so well rendered; for this would have been very unpopular, and brought his new form of worship into contempt, to make the dregs of the people priests, which was not only a very sacred office, but of great honour; it was usual in some nations for kings to be priests also (t), and Jeroboam himself exercised this office, 1 Kings 12:33 and therefore would never put the meanest of the people into it, but rather those of higher rank: the words may be literally rendered, "from the extremities" or "ends of the people" (u); meaning not merely from the extremist parts of his country, but rather out of the whole of the people; out of all sorts of them, out of any of them, without any distinction of tribe: for so it follows,
which were not of the sons of Levi; and as by this means he enriched himself, by taking the cities that belonged to the priests and Levites, which they were obliged to leave, and from whence he drove them, 2 Chronicles 11:14 so he pleased the people by laying open the priesthood common to them, and freeing them from the payment of tithes, and the like.
(s) "altarium", Vatablus. (t) Rex Anius, &c. Virgil. l. 3. Vid. Servium in ib. (u) "de extremitatibus populi", Vatablus, Piscator.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
31. made priests of the lowest of the people—literally, "out of all the people," the Levites refusing to act. He himself assumed to himself the functions of the high priest, at least, at the great festival, probably from seeing the king of Egypt conjoin the royal and sacred offices, and deeming the office of the high priest too great to be vested in a subject.
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