1 Kings 11:29
And it came to pass at that time when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him in the way; and he had clad himself with a new garment; and they two were alone in the field:
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1 Kings 11:29. When Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem — Probably to execute his charge. The Prophet Ahijah found him — Met with him as he was going along. “Ahijah was a native of Shiloh, and one of those who wrote the annals of King Solomon’s reign, 2 Chronicles 9:29. And he is thought to have been the person who spake twice to Solomon from God, once while he was building the temple, (1 Kings 6:12,) and again when he fell into his irregularities,” 1 Kings 11:11. They two were alone in the field — Having gone aside for private conference; for otherwise Jeroboam’s servants, (it being most likely he had servants attending him,) if they heard not the words, might have seen the action of rending his coat, and thus the matter might have come to Solomon’s ears.

11:26-40 In telling the reason why God rent the kingdom from the house of Solomon, Ahijah warned Jeroboam to take heed of sinning away his preferment. Yet the house of David must be supported; out of it the Messiah would arise. Solomon sought to kill his successor. Had not he taught others, that whatever devices are in men's hearts, the counsel of the Lord shall stand? Yet he himself thinks to defeat that counsel. Jeroboam withdrew into Egypt, and was content to live in exile and obscurity for awhile, being sure of a kingdom at last. Shall not we be content, who have a better kingdom in reserve?At that time - Probably after Jeroboam's return from Egypt (see 1 Kings 11:40).

The Shilonite - An inhabitant of Shiloh in Mount Ephraim, the earliest and most sacred of the Hebrew sanctuaries (Joshua 18:10; Judges 18:31; 1 Samuel 4:3, etc.)

29. clad—rather, "wrapped up." The meaning is, "Ahijah, the Shilonite, the prophet, went and took a fit station in the way; and, in order that he might not be known, he wrapped himself up, so as closely to conceal himself, in a new garment, a surtout, which he afterwards tore in twelve pieces." Notwithstanding this privacy, the story, and the prediction connected with it [1Ki 11:30-39], probably reached the king's ears; and Jeroboam became a marked man [1Ki 11:40]. His aspiring ambition, impatient for the death of Solomon, led him to form plots and conspiracies, in consequence of which he was compelled to flee to Egypt. Though chosen of God, he would not wait the course of God's providence, and therefore incurred the penalty of death by his criminal rebellion. The heavy exactions and compulsory labor (1Ki 11:28) which Solomon latterly imposed upon his subjects, when his foreign resources began to fail, had prepared the greater part of the kingdom for a revolt under so popular a demagogue as Jeroboam. When Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem; upon some occasion, possibly to execute his charge.

They two were alone in the field; having gone aside thither for some private conference; for otherwise it is most likely that he had servants attending upon him, who, though they heard not the words, yet might see the action, and the rending of Jeroboam’s coat; and thus it came to Solomon’s ears, who being so acute and wise, could easily understand the thing by what he heard of the action, especially when a prophet did it.

And it came to pass at that time, when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem,.... Either to enter upon his new office: or having been with Solomon to pay in the revenues, and to make up his accounts with him was going back to the country to do the duty of his office:

that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him in the way; not accidentally, but purposely was in the way to meet him, and converse with him; this prophet was of the city of Shiloh, and where was now his abode, see 1 Kings 14:2.

and he had clad himself with a new garment; not Jeroboam, but the prophet, and that by the direction of the Lord, for the following purpose:

and they two were alone in the field: it is possible Jeroboam might have some servants with him; but Ahijah desiring some private conversation with him, he sent them onwards, or bid them stay at some distance; who yet might be capable of observing what was done, though not of hearing what was said; or otherwise how should Solomon come to the knowledge of it? 1 Kings 11:40.

And it came to pass at that time when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him in the way; and he had clad himself with a new garment; and they two were alone in the field:
29. at that time] i.e. While the building-works at the Millo and the completion of the wall was in progress.

Ahijah the Shilonite] This prophet, whose home was in Shiloh (see 1 Kings 14:2), is mentioned in connexion with this prophecy to Jeroboam and again when Jeroboam has become king, and sends his wife to inquire of the prophet about the issue of his child’s sickness. A writing of his is spoken of in 2 Chronicles 9:29 as ‘the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite’. This may have contained other prophecies beside those which have been preserved to us. He was evidently a person of much importance and influence during this and the following reign.

found him in the way] Here the LXX. adds ‘and he drew him aside out of the way’: an addition which may have been made to explain how it came to pass, as is said immediately, that ‘they two were alone in the field.’

and he had clad himself] i.e. Ahijah had done so. The R.V. following the LXX. inserts the proper name in italics to make the sense clearer in the English.

Verse 29. - And it came to pass at that time [a general expression = "when he was thus employed"] when [Heb. that] Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem that [Heb. and], the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite [i.e., of Shiloh, as is expressed 1 Kings 14:2-4, where see notes. He too, therefore, was an Ephraimite (Joshua 16:5). This portion of the history is probably derived from his writings (2 Chronicles 9:29). We may be pretty sure that Nathan was now dead] found him in the way; and he [i.e., Ahijah. Ewald understands Jeroboam to be meant, and would see in the new garment his "splendid robe of office"] had clad himself with a new garment [שַׂלְמָה same word as שְׂמְלָה such transpositions of letters being common. The simlah was the outer garment (Genesis 9:23; 1 Samuel 21:10, etc.), which served at night as a covering (Deuteronomy 22:17). It was probably identical in shape, etc., with the camel's-hair burnous, or abba, worn by the Arabs at the present day (cf. Conder, pp. 318, 342), and being almost a square would lend itself well to division into twelve parts]; and they two were alone in the field [i.e., open country.] 1 Kings 11:29At that time the prophet Ahijah met him in the field and disclosed to him the word of the Lord, that he should become king over Israel. ההיא בּעת: at that time, viz., the time when Jeroboam had become overseer over the heavy works, and not after he had already stirred up the rebellion. For the whole of the account in 1 Kings 11:29-39 forms part of the explanation of בּמּלך יד הרים which commences with 1 Kings 11:27, so that ההיא בּעת ויהי is closely connected with אתו ויּפקד in 1 Kings 11:28, and there is no such gap in the history as is supposed by Thenius, who builds upon this opinion most untenable conjectures as to the intertwining of different sources. At that time, as Jeroboam was one day going out of Jerusalem, the prophet Ahijah of Shilo (Seilun) met him by the way (בּדּרך), with a new upper garment wrapped around him; and when they were alone, he rent the new garment, that is to say, his own, not Jeroboam's, as Ewald (Gesch. iii. p. 388) erroneously supposes, into twelve pieces, and said to Jeroboam, "Take thee ten pieces, for Jehovah saith, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and give thee ten tribes; and one tribe shall remain to him (Solomon) for David's sake," etc. The new שׂלמה wen ehT . was probably only a large four-cornered cloth, which was thrown over the shoulders like the Heik of the Arabs, and enveloped the whole of the upper portion of the body (see my bibl. Archol. ii. pp. 36, 37). By the tearing of the new garment into twelve pieces, of which Jeroboam was to take ten for himself, the prophetic announcement was symbolized in a very emphatic manner. This symbolical action made the promise a completed fact. "As the garment as torn in pieces and lay before the eyes of Jeroboam, so had the division of the kingdom already taken place in the counsel of God" (O. v. Gerlach). There was something significant also in the circumstance that it was a new garment, which is stated twice, and indicates the newness, i.e., the still young and vigorous condition, of the kingdom (Thenius).

In the word of God explaining the action it is striking that Jeroboam was to receive ten tribes, and the one tribe was to remain to Solomon (1 Kings 11:31, 1 Kings 11:32, 1 Kings 11:35, 1 Kings 11:36, as in 1 Kings 11:13). The nation consisted of twelve tribes, and Ahijah had torn his garment into twelve pieces, of which Jeroboam was to take ten; so that there were two remaining. It is evident at once from this, that the numbers are intended to be understood symbolically and not arithmetically. Ten as the number of completeness and totality is placed in contrast with one, to indicate that all Israel was to be torn away from the house of David, as is stated in 1 Kings 12:20, "they made Jeroboam king over all Israel," and only one single fragment was to be left to the house of Solomon out of divine compassion. This one tribe, however, is not Benjamin, the one tribe beside Judah, as Hupfeld (on Psalm 80), C. a Lap., Mich., and others suppose, but, according to the distinct statement in 1 Kings 12:20, "the tribe of Judah only." Nevertheless Benjamin belonged to Judah; for, according to 1 Kings 12:21, Rehoboam gathered together the whole house of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin to fight against the house of Israel (which had fallen away), and to bring the kingdom again to himself. And so also in 2 Chronicles 11:3 and 2 Chronicles 11:23 Judah and Benjamin are reckoned as belonging to the kingdom of Rehoboam. This distinct prominence given to Benjamin by the side of Judah overthrows the explanation suggested by Seb. Schmidt and others, namely, that the description of the portion left to Rehoboam as one tribe is to be explained from the fact that Judah and Benjamin, on the border of which Jerusalem was situated, were regarded in a certain sense as one, and that the little Benjamin was hardly taken into consideration at all by the side of the great Judah. For if Ahijah had regarded Benjamin as one with Judah, he would not have torn his garment into twelve pieces, inasmuch as if Benjamin was to be merged in Judah, or was not to be counted along with it as a distinct tribe, the whole nation could only be reckoned as eleven tribes. Moreover the twelve tribes did not so divide themselves, that Jeroboam really received ten tribes and Rehoboam only one or only two. In reality there were three tribes that fell to the kingdom of Judah, and only nine to the kingdom of Israel, Ephraim and Manasseh being reckoned as two tribes, since the tribe of Levi was not counted in the political classification. The kingdom of Judah included, beside the tribe of Judah, both the tribe of Benjamin and also the tribe of Simeon, the territory of which, according to Joshua 19:1-9, was within the tribe-territory of Judah and completely surrounded by it, so that the Simeonites would have been obliged to emigrate and give up their tribe-land altogether, if they desired to attach themselves to the kingdom of Israel. But it cannot be inferred from 2 Chronicles 15:9 and 2 Chronicles 34:6 that an emigration of the whole tribe had taken place (see also at 1 Kings 12:17). On the other hand, whilst the northern border of the tribe of Benjamin, with the cities of Bethel, Ramah, and Jericho, fell to the kingdom of Jeroboam (1 Kings 12:29; 1 Kings 15:17, 1 Kings 15:21; 1 Kings 16:34), several of the cities of the tribe of Dan were included in the kingdom of Judah, namely, Ziklag, which Achish had presented to David, and also Zorea and Ajalon (2 Chronicles 11:10; 2 Chronicles 28:18), in which Judah obtained compensation for the cities of Benjamin of which it had been deprived.

(Note: On the other hand, the fact that in Psalm 80:2 Benjamin is placed between Ephraim and Manasseh is no proof that it belonged to the kingdom of Israel; for can this be inferred from the fact that Benjamin, as the tribe to which Saul belonged, at the earlier split among the tribes took the side of those which were opposed to David, and that at a still later period a rebellion originated with Benjamin. For in Psalm 80:2 the exposition is disputed, and the jealousy of Benjamin towards Judah appears to have become extinct with the dying out of the royal house of Saul. Again, the explanation suggested by Oehler (Herzog's Cycl.) of the repeated statement that the house of David was to receive only one tribe, namely, that there was not a single whole tribe belonging to the southern kingdom beside Judah, is by no means satisfactory. For it cannot be proved that any portion of the tribe of Simeon ever belonged to the kingdom of Israel, although the number ten was not complete without it. And it cannot be inferred from 2 Chronicles 15:9 that Simeonites had settled outside their tribe-territory. And, as a rule, single families or households that may have emigrated cannot be taken into consideration as having any bearing upon the question before us, since, according to the very same passage of the Chronicles, many members of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh had emigrated to the kingdom of Judah.)

Consequently there only remained nine tribes for the northern kingdom. For וגו עבדּי למען see at 1 Kings 11:13. For 1 Kings 11:33 compare 1 Kings 11:4-8. The plurals עזבוּני, ישׁתּחווּ, and הלכוּ are not open to critical objection, but are used in accordance with the fact, since Solomon did not practise idolatry alone, but many in the nation forsook the Lord along with him. צדנין, with a Chaldaic ending (see Ges. 87, 1, a.). In 1 Kings 11:34-36 there follows a more precise explanation: Solomon himself is not to lose the kingdom, but to remain prince all his life, and his son is to retain one tribe; both out of regard to David (vid., 1 Kings 11:12, 1 Kings 11:13). אשׁתנּוּ נשׂיא כּי, "but I will set him for prince," inasmuch as leaving him upon the throne was not merely a divine permission, but a divine act. "That there may be a light to my servant David always before me in Jerusalem." This phrase, which is repeated in 1 Kings 15:4; 2 Kings 8:19; 2 Chronicles 21:7, is to be explained from 2 Samuel 21:17, where David's regal rule is called the light which God's grace had kindled for Israel, and affirms that David was never to want a successor upon the throne.

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