1 Kings 12:1
And Rehoboam went to Shechem: for all Israel were come to Shechem to make him king.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(1) All Israel were come to Shechem to make him king.—In the case of David, we find that, when he was made king over Israel, “he made a league” with the elders of Israel (2Samuel 5:3), apparently implying a less absolute royalty than that to which he had been anointed, without conditions, over the house of Judah (2Samuel 2:4); and in his restoration after the death of Absalom, there appears to be some recognition of a right of distinct action on the part of the men of Israel in relation to the kingdom (2Samuel 19:9-10; 2Samuel 19:41-43; 2Samuel 20:1-2). Even in the coronation of Solomon, we find distinction made between royalty “over all Israel and over Judah.” (See 1Kings 1:35; and comp. 1Kings 4:1.) Accordingly, Rehoboam seems to succeed without question to the throne of Judah, but to need to be “made king” by the rest of Israel, with apparently some right on their part to require conditions before acceptance. It is significant, however, that this ceremonial is fixed, not at Jerusalem, but at Shechem, the chief city of Ephraim, of ancient dignity, even from patriarchal times, as of singular beauty and fertility of position, which became, as a matter of course, the capital of the northern kingdom after the disruption. Perhaps, in this arrangement, which seems to have had no precedent, there was some omen of revolution.

1 Kings

HOW TO SPLIT A KINGDOM

1 Kings 12:1 - 1 Kings 12:17
.

The separation of the kingdom of Solomon into two weak and hostile states is, in one aspect, a wretched story of folly and selfishness wrecking a nation, and, in another, a solemn instance of divine retribution working its designs by men’s sins. The greater part of this account deals with it in the former aspect, and shows the despicable motives of the men in whose hands was the nation’s fate; but one sentence {1 Kings 12:15} draws back the curtain for a moment, and shows us the true cause. There is something very striking in that one flash, which reveals the enthroned God, working through the ignoble strife which makes up the rest of the story. This double aspect of the disruption of the kingdom is the main truth about it which the narrative impresses on us.

As to the mere details of the incident, as a political revolution, they are in four stages. First come the terms of allegiance offered to the new king. Rehoboam goes to Shechem, because ‘Israel was gone’ there. The choice of the place is suspicious; for it was in the tribe of Ephraim, and had been for a time the centre of national life; and its selection at once indicated discontent with the preponderance of Jerusalem, and a wish to assert the importance of the central tribes. No doubt, the choice of the latter city for the capital had caused heart-burning, even during David’s time.

Adopting the reading of the Revised Version, we see another suspicious sign in the recall of Jeroboam, and his selection as spokesman; for he had been in rebellion against Solomon {1 Kings 11:26}, and therefore an exile. Probably he had now been the instigator of the discontent of which he became the mouthpiece; and, in any case, his appearance as the leader was all but a declaration of war. His former occupation as superintendent of the forced labour exacted from his own tribe taught him where the shoe pinched, and the weight of the yoke would not be lessened in his representations.

No doubt, the luxury and splendour of Solomon’s brilliant reign had an under side of oppression, even though forced labour was not exacted from Israelites {1 Kings 9:22}; but probably the severity was exaggerated in these complaints, which were plainly the pretext for a revolt of which tribal jealousy was the main cause, and Jeroboam’s ambition the spark that set light to the train. Certainly there was ignoring of the benefits of the peaceful reign, which had brought security and commerce. But there was enough truth in the complaint to make it plausible and effective for catching the people. Had they a right to suspend their allegiance on compliance with their terms?

Israel was neither a despotism, nor simply a constitutional monarchy. God appointed the kings, and had ordained the Davidic house to the throne; and therefore this making terms was, in effect, asserting independence of God’s will. Jeroboam was scheming for a crown. The people were shaking off their submission to God. It is very doubtful if concession would have conciliated them. There is nothing elevated, not to say religious, in their motives or acts.

Then comes Rehoboam on the scene. The one sensible thing that he did was to take three days to think. Whether or no his little finger was thicker than his father’s loins, his head was not half so wise. Ecclesiastes, speaking in Solomon’s name, reckons it a great evil that he must leave his labour to his successor; ‘and who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool?’ Certainly Rehoboam had little ‘wisdom’ either of the higher or lower kind. It was the lower kind which the old counsellors of his father gave him,-that wisdom which is mere cunning directed to selfish ends, and careless of honour or truth. ‘Flatter them to-day, speak them fair, promise what you do not mean to keep, and then, when you are firm in the saddle, let them feel bit and spur.’ That was all these grey-headed men had learned. If that was what passed for ‘wisdom’ in Solomon’s later days, we need not wonder at revolt.

To act on such motives is bad enough, but to put them into plain words, and offer them as the rule of a king’s conduct, is a depth of cynical contempt for truth and kingly honour that indicates only too clearly how rotten the state of Israel was. Have we never seen candidates for Parliament and the like on one side of the water, and for Congress, Senate, or Presidency on the other, who have gone to school to the old men at Shechem? The prizes of politicians are often still won by this stale device. The young counsellors differ only in the means of gaining the object. Neither set has the least glimmer of the responsibility of the office, nor ever thinks that God has any say in choosing the king. Naked, undisguised selfishness animates both; only, as becomes their several ages, the one set recommends crawling and the other bluster. Think of Saul hiding among the staff, David going back to his sheep after he was anointed, Solomon praying for wisdom to guide this people, and measure the depth of descent to this ignoble scramble for the sweets of royalty!

According to 1 Kings 14:21, Rehoboam was forty-one at this time, so his contemporaries could not have been very young. But possibly the number in the present text is an error for twenty-one, which would agree better with the tone of the reference to age here, and with the rash counsel. Note the recurrence, both in Rehoboam’s question in 1 Kings 12:9 and in the young advisers’ answer in 1 Kings 12:10, of the obnoxious speech of the people. That may be accidental, but it sounds as if both he and they were keeping their anger warm by repeating the offensive complaint.

The Revised Version reads, ‘My little finger is thicker,’ etc., and so makes the sentence not a threat, but the foundation of the following threat in an arrogant and empty assertion of greater power. The fool always thinks himself wiser than the wise dead; the ‘living dog’ fancies that his yelp is louder than the roar of ‘the dead lion.’ What can be done with a Rehoboam who brags that he is better than Solomon?

The threat which follows is inconceivably foolish; and all the more so because it probably did not represent any definite intention, and certainly was backed by no force adequate to carry it out. Passion and offended dignity are the worst guides for conduct. Threats are always mistakes. A sieve of oats, not a whip, attracts a horse to the halter. If Rehoboam had wished to split the kingdom, he could have found no better wedge than this blustering promise of tyranny.

Next in this miserable story of imbecility and arrogance comes the answer to the assembly. Shechem had seen many an eventful hour, but never one heavier with important issues than that on which the united Israel met for the last time, and there, in the rich valley with Ebal and Gerizim towering above them, heard the fateful answer of this braggart. A dozen rash words brought about four hundred years of strife, weakness, and final destruction. And neither the foolish speaker nor any man in that crowd dreamed of the unnumbered evils to flow from that hour. Since issues are so far beyond our sight, how careful it becomes us to be of motives! Angry counsels are always blunders. No nation can prosper when moderate complaints are met by threats, and ‘spirited conduct,’ asserting dignity, is a sign of weakness, not of strength. For nations and individuals that is true.

Here the historian draws back the curtain. On earth stand the insolent king and the now mutinous people, each driving at their ends, and neither free of sin in their selfishness. A stormy scene of passion, without thought of God, rages below, and above sits the Lord, working His great purpose by men’s sin. That divine control does not in the least affect the freedom or the guilt of the actors. Rehoboam’s disregard of the people’s terms was ‘a thing brought about of the Lord,’ but it was Rehoboam’s sin none the less. That which, looked at from the mere human side, is the sinful result of the free play of wrong motives, is, when regarded from the divine side, the determinate counsel of God. The greatest crime in the world’s history was at the same time the accomplishment of God’s most merciful purpose. Calvary is the highest example of the truth, which embraces all lesser instances of the wrath of man, which He makes to praise Him and effect His deep designs.

Again, the rending of the kingdom was the punishment of sin, especially Solomon’s sin of idolatry, which was closely connected with the extravagant expenditure that occasioned the separation. So the so-called natural consequences of transgression constitute its temporal punishment in part, and behind all these our eyes should be clear-sighted enough to behold the operative will of God. This one piercing beam of light, cast on that scene of insolence and rebellion, lights up all history, and gives the principle on which it must be interpreted, if it is not to be misread.

Again, the punishment of sin, whether that of a community or of a single person, is sin. The separation was sin, on both sides; it led to much more. It was the consequence of previous departure. So ever the worst result of any sin is that it opens the door, like a thief who has crept in through a window, to a band of brethren.

Lastly, we have the fierce rejoinder to the empty boast of Rehoboam, and the definitive disruption of the nation. Jeroboam must have fanned the flame skilfully, or it would not have burst out so quickly. There is no hesitation, nor any regret. The ominous cry, which had been heard before, in Sheba’s abortive revolt, answers Rehoboam with instantaneous and full-throated defiance. Rancorous tribal hatred is audible in it. Long pent up jealousy and dislike of the dynasty of David has got breath at last: ‘To your tents, O Israel! now see to thine own house, David!’

That roar from a thousand voices meant a good deal more than the cowed king’s vain threats did. The angry men who raised it, and were the tools of a crafty conspirator, the frightened courtiers and king who heard it, were alike in their entire oblivion of their true Lord and Monarch. ‘God was not in all their thoughts.’ An enterprise begun in disregard of Him is fated to failure. The only sure foundations of a nation are the fear of the Lord and obedience to His will. If politics have not a religious basis, the Lord will blow upon them, and they will be as stubble.

1 Kings 12:1. Rehoboam went to Shechem — With a view to be there declared Solomon’s successor by the people, and made king. It does not appear that he called the people thither, but went thither because they had prevented him, and pitched upon that place rather than upon Jerusalem, because it was most convenient for all, being in the centre of the kingdom; and because, as it was in the potent tribe of Ephraim, they supposed they might there more securely propose their grievances, which they were resolved to do, and use a greater freedom of speech than they could at Jerusalem, where the family of David was more powerful, more numerous, and better supported. And it is not improbable but Jeroboam had a hand in this, and that it was partly at least by his management, or that of some of his friends, who durst not, perhaps, venture themselves at Jerusalem, that this city was made choice of as a place of general convention. The glory of the kingdom of Israel was in its height and perfection in Solomon’s reign. It was long in coming to it, but it soon declined and began to sink and wither under Rehoboam his successor, as we find in this chapter, in which we see the kingdom divided, and thereby weakened, and made little in comparison of what it had been. Solomon probably supposed that by taking to himself seven hundred wives that were princesses, he should greatly strengthen his power, and enlarge his kingdom; and that from them and his three hundred concubines he should have a numerous progeny to perpetuate that power and dominion, in all its extent, to the latest generations. But if so, he was sadly disappointed: of these thousand women, it appears, he had but one son, and he a fool! and two daughters, mentioned 1 Kings 4:11; 1 Kings 4:15, to bear up his name, and continue his race. “Sin,” says Henry, “is an ill way of building up a family.”

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.The first step taken by the new king was a most judicious one. If anything could have removed the disaffection of the Ephraimites, and caused them to submit to the ascendancy of Judah, it would have been the honor done to their capital by its selection as the scene of the coronation. Shechem (now Nablous) lay on the flank of Mount Gerizim, directly opposite to Mount Ebal, in a position second to none in all Palestine. Though Abimelech had destroyed the place Judges 9:45, it had probably soon risen again, and was once more a chief city, or perhaps "the" chief city, of Ephraim. Its central position made it a convenient place for the general assembly of the tribes, as it had been in the days of Joshua Jos 8:30-35; 24:1-28; and this would furnish an additional reason for its selection. CHAPTER 12

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.The Israelites seek to Rehoboam for relaxation, 1 Kings 12:1-5. He refusing the old men’s counsel, by the advice of the young men answereth them roughly, 1 Kings 12:6-15; for which ten tribes revolt; kill Adoram; and make Rehoboam to flee, 1 Kings 12:16-20. He raising an army is forbidden by Shemaiah, 1 Kings 12:21-24. Jeroboam, king of Israel, strengtheneth himself by cities, and by the idolatry of the two calves, 1 Kings 12:25-33.

Rehoboam did not call them thither, but went thither, because the Israelites prevented him, and had generally pitched upon that place rather than upon Jerusalem; partly, because it was most convenient for all, as being in the centre of the whole kingdom; partly, because that being in the potent tribe of Ephraim, they supposed there they might use that freedom of speech which they resolved to use to get their grievances redressed; and partly, by the secret direction of Jeroboam, or his friends, who would not trust themselves in Jerusalem, and thought Shechem a fitter place to execute their design. To make him king; to confirm him in the kingdom, which they generally-intended to do; he being the undoubted heir of the crown, and the only son which Solomon had from so vast a number of wives.

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.

And Rehoboam went to Shechem: for all Israel were come to Shechem to make him king.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Ch. 1 Kings 12:1-15. Rehoboam’s accession. Request of his subjects and the king’s Answer (2 Chronicles 10:1-15)

1. And Rehoboam went to Shechem] The parallel passage in 2 Chronicles 11:1-15 is almost identical with what is given here. It is clear from the narrative that, though Rehoboam was acknowledged as the rightful successor to his father, there was a desire among the people to modify the character of the government. David had ruled as a conqueror, and the fame and wealth and great undertakings of Solomon had gratified the people and made them submit to many severities in his reign. Rehoboam had none of the recommendations of his father or grandfather, and the influential persons in the nation availed themselves of the solemn enthronization at Shechem to put forward their desires. It may well be that they had arranged for the ceremony to take place at a distance from Jerusalem, and in one of the principal towns of the north that their proposals might be strongly supported, and that the king might feel how important it was for him to conciliate such a party as they were. If Rehoboam had already been acknowledged as king in Jerusalem, the southern tribes would be less powerfully represented in this meeting at Shechem, and prestige of the grand buildings of Jerusalem and all the splendour which spake of Rehoboam’s house would be absent.

Shechem, first mentioned as Sichem in Genesis 12:6, was a city of considerable antiquity, in the hill country of Ephraim, and of such strength and importance that Jeroboam (see 1 Kings 12:25 below) fortified and strengthened it to be the royal city of the ten tribes, immediately after the revolt. Its name, which signifies shoulder or ridge, indicates its position among the hills, and Josephus tells us that it was between Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim. It has been identified with the modern Nablous (formerly Neapolis), and there seems no reason to question the identification.

for all Israel were come to Shechem] We have seen before that there was a distinction, even while the kingdom was all one, between ‘the men of Israel’ and ‘the men of Judah’ (see 2 Samuel 19:40-43). It seems not improbable that the arrangement for this gathering at Shechem was a sort of protest by the men of the north against the southern tribes who, because Jerusalem, with the temple and the royal dwellings, was in their part of the land, may have claimed to be the ruling portion of the nation. Hence a solemn ceremonial held elsewhere in connexion with the accession of the new king would be thought a good means of checking this assumption, even if there had been no further motive for the choice of Shechem. And Rehoboam was obliged to go there, if he would not at once provoke a civil war.

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.] 1 Kings 12:1Secession of the Ten Tribes (cf., 2 Chronicles 10:1-11:4). - 1 Kings 12:1-4. Rehoboam went to Shechem, because all Israel had come thither to make him king. "All Israel," according to what follows (cf., 1 Kings 12:20, 1 Kings 12:21), was the ten tribes beside Judah and Benjamin. The right of making king the prince whom God had chosen, i.e., of anointing him and doing homage to him (compare 1 Chronicles 12:38, where המליך alternates with למלך משׁך, (2 Samuel 2:4; 2 Samuel 5:3), was an old traditional right in Israel, and the tribes had exercised it not only in the case of Saul and David (1 Samuel 11:15; 2 Samuel 2:4; 2 Samuel 5:3), but in that of Solomon also (1 Chronicles 29:22). The ten tribes of Israel made use of this right on Rehoboam's ascent of the throne; but instead of coming to Jerusalem, the residence of the king and capital of the kingdom, as they ought to have done, and doing homage there to the legitimate successor of Solomon, they had gone to Sichem, the present Nabulus (see at Genesis 12:6 and Genesis 33:18), the place where the ancient national gatherings were held in the tribe of Ephraim (Joshua 24:1), and where Abimelech the son of Gideon had offered himself as king in the time of the Judges (Judges 9:1.). On the choice of Sichem as the place for doing homage Kimchi has quite correctly observed, that "they sought an opportunity for transferring the government to Jeroboam, and therefore were unwilling to come to Jerusalem, but came to Sichem, which belonged to Ephraim, whilst Jeroboam was an Ephraimite." If there could be any further doubt on the matter, it would be removed by the fact that they had sent for Jeroboam the son of Nebat to come from Egypt, whither he had fled from Solomon (1 Kings 11:40), and attend this meeting, and that Jeroboam took the lead in the meeting, and no doubt suggested to those assembled the demand which they should lay before Rehoboam (1 Kings 12:4).

(Note: "This pretext was no doubt furnished to the people by Jeroboam, who, because he had formerly been placed above Ephraim as superintendent of the works, could most craftily suggest calumnies, from the things which he knew better than others." - (Seb. Schmidt.)

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