1 Kings 12:16
So when all Israel saw that the king listened not to them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to your own house, David. So Israel departed to their tents.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) To your tents.—This war-cry was not new. It had been heard once before, during the conflict between Judah and Israel after the rebellion of Absalom, when it was silenced instantly by the relentless promptitude of Joab (2Samuel 20:1). Only the last ironical line is added, “See to thine own house, David” (which the LXX. explains as “Feed, as a shepherd, thine own house, David”). There is perhaps a sarcastic allusion to God’s promise to establish the house of David: “Be a king, but only in thine own house!”

1 Kings 12:16. So when all Israel saw that the king hearkened not unto them, &c. — Here we see the divine threatening to Solomon by Ahijah beginning to take effect, and the important event of rending the kingdom of the ten tribes from the house of David, foretold by that prophet, on the point of being fulfilled. The people show themselves bold and resolute in the cause they had undertaken, and highly resent the provocation which Rehoboam had given them, concluding that a government, which in the beginning was so haughty, would be intolerably grievous in the progress of it. What portion have we in David? — In David’s family and son; we can expect no benefit or relief from him, and therefore we renounce all commerce with him, and subjection to him. They named David rather than Rehoboam, to signify that they renounced not Rehoboam only, but all David’s family. Song of Solomon of Jesse — So they call David in contempt; as if they had said, Rehoboam hath no reason to carry himself with such pride and contempt toward his people; for if we trace his original, it was as mean and obscure as ours. To your tents, O Israel — Let us forsake him and go to our own homes, there to consider how to provide for ourselves. Now see to thine own house, David — Look to thine own affairs, and content thyself with reigning over the house of Judah; for thou shalt no longer rule over us. Thus they break out into actual and open rebellion against the family of David, to which they were under the greatest obligations: for surely no nation ever owed more to a prince, than the Israelites did to him. But how soon were all his benefits forgotten by this ungrateful people! ungrateful, not only to God, but to their best temporal benefactors. It is true their jealousy for their liberty and property well became them as a free people; but the rashness of their resolution is much to be blamed: for, in time, and by prudent management, they might have settled matters with Rehoboam to mutual satisfaction. Had they inquired who gave him this advice, and taken a course to remove those evil counsellors from about him, the rupture might have been prevented. It is no marvel, however, that Israel fell away from the house of David, when the house of David fell from God, and from the great ends of their advancement, which was, to be ministers of God to the people for good.12:16-24 The people speak unbecomingly of David. How soon are good men, and their good services to the public, forgotten ! These considerations should reconcile us to our losses and troubles, that God is the Author of them, and our brethren the instruments: let us not meditate revenge. Rehoboam and his people hearkened to the word of the Lord. When we know God's mind, we must submit, how much soever it crosses our own mind. If we secure the favour of God, not all the universe can hurt us.See the marginal reference. The words breathe unmistakeably the spirit of tribal jealousy and dislike (1 Kings 11:40 note).

Now see to thine own house, David - i. e., "Henceforth, house of David, look after thine own tribe, Judah, only." It is not a threat of war, but a warning against interference.

15-18. the king hearkened not unto the people, for the cause was from the Lord—That was the overruling cause. Rehoboam's weakness (Ec 2:18, 19) and inexperience in public affairs has given rise to the probable conjecture, that, like many other princes in the East, he had been kept secluded in the harem till the period of his accession (Ec 4:14), his father being either afraid of his aspiring to the sovereignty, like the two sons of David, or, which is more probable, afraid of prematurely exposing his imbecility. The king's haughty and violent answer to a people already filled with a spirit of discontent and exasperation, indicated so great an incapacity to appreciate the gravity of the crisis, so utter a want of common sense, as to create a belief that he was struck with judicial blindness. It was received with mingled scorn and derision. The revolt was accomplished, and yet so quietly, that Rehoboam remained in Shechem, fancying himself the sovereign of a united kingdom, until his chief tax gatherer, who had been most imprudently sent to treat with the people, had been stoned to death. This opened his eyes, and he fled for security to Jerusalem. What portion have we in David, i.e. in David’s family and son? we can expect no benefit or relief from him, and therefore we renounce all commerce with him, and subjection to him. See 2 Samuel 20:1. They named David rather than Rehoboam, to signify, that they did renounce, not Rehoboam only, but all David’s family.

The son of Jesse; so they call David in contempt: q. d. Rehoboam hath no reason to carry himself with such pride and contempt toward his people, for if we trace his original, it was as mean and obscure as many of ours. And since he abuseth his power, let us reduce him to his former obscurity.

To your tents, O Israel, i.e. let us all forsake him, and go to our own homes. there to consider, and then to meet and conclude how to provide otherwise for ourselves. Now see to thine own use, David, i.e. govern thy own family; for thou shalt no longer rule over us. Thus they brake out into actual rebellion against him, whom God had made their lawful sovereign; wherein, though they fulfilled God’s counsel, yet they violated his authority and command. And they do again make an opprobrious mention of David, whom they should not have named without honour. So when all Israel saw that the king hearkened not unto them,.... To grant their requests:

the people answered the king, saying, what portion have we in David? or in his posterity, which are not of our tribes, nor are we obliged to have a king of that family; nor can we expect any benefit or advantage from thence, as may be easily concluded from the rough answer of Rehoboam:

neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse; so they called David by way of contempt; which was great ingratitude, when he had done such great things for them, and he and his son Solomon had raised them to the pitch of wealth and glory they now enjoyed; these were seditious expressions, and seem to be borrowed from a seditious person in the times of David, 2 Samuel 20:1.

to your tents, O Israel; signifying it was high time to depart from Rehoboam, and to have nothing to say to him, or do with him, but retire to their habitations, to consider whom to set as king over them:

now see to thine own house, David; thou son or grandson of David; not his own house and family, and mind his domestic affairs, nor the house of the sanctuary in his tribe, as many of the Jewish writers interpret it; but rather the tribe of Judah, of which he was, and would have him consider to what a narrow compass his kingdom would be brought, who was just now blustering and boasting of his grandeur as a king:

so Israel departed unto their tents; to their cities, as the Targum, and their habitations there, without recognizing Rehoboam as their king, or swearing allegiance, or giving homage to him as such.

So when all Israel saw that the king hearkened not unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in {f} David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David. So Israel departed unto their tents.

(f) Though their cause was good, yet it was hard for the people to control their desires, as these vile words declare.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16–20. Revolt of the ten tribes (Cf. 2 Chronicles 10:16-19)

16. all Israel saw that the king hearkened not] Josephus says ‘they were struck by his words as by an iron rod and grieved as though the words of the king had been actually put into execution.’

What portion have we in David?] Very similar words were used (2 Samuel 20:1) by Sheba the Benjamite when he strove to rouse the people against David. The tribe of Judah was more closely connected with the house of Jesse, because his home was at Bethlehem.

To your tents, O Israel] i.e. Disperse to your homes, that you may take steps for protecting yourselves, and arranging for resistance to the threatened severity.

see to thine own house] As though the tribe to which he belonged was now all that would be left to him. The LXX. reads βόσκε τὸν οἷκόν σου, as though their text had been רעה =‘to feed’ and not as in the Massoretic text ראה=to see.Verse 16. - So when all Israel saw that the king hearkened not unto them, the people answered [Heb. brought back word to; probably after some consultation amongst themselves] the king, saying, What portion have we in David? [Same expression as 2 Samuel 20:1. The words, interpreted by this passage and 2 Samuel 19:43, mean, "Since we have no kindness or fairness from David's seed, what is his house to us? Why render homage to his son? We receive nought from him, why yield aught to him?"] neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse [i.e., "his tribe is not ours; his interests are not ours." Bahr sees in the expression "son of Jesse" "an allusion to David's humbler descent," but surely without reason. It is simply a periphrasis for the sake of the parallelism. The rhythm almost elevates the words to the rank of poetry]: to your tents, O Israel [lit., thy tents, Or dwellings; i.e., "Disperse to your homes (see 1 Kings 8:66; and cf. 2 Samuel 18:17; 2 Samuel 19:8; 2 Samuel 20:1), and prepare for war." לֺאהֶל, which means primarily a "tent," has for its secondary meaning, "habitation," "home." This cry - the Marseillaise of Israel - probably had its origin at a time when the people dwelt in tents, viz., in the march through the desert (see Joshua 22:4; Numbers 1:52; Numbers 9:18; Numbers 16:26) ]. Now see to thine own house, David [i.e., let the seed of David henceforth reign over the tribe of Judah, if it can. It shall govern the other tribes no longer. "It is not a threat of war, but a warning against interference" (Rawlinson). רָאָה has the meaning of "look after," "care for." "David, the tribe father, is mentioned in place of his family" (Keil) ]. So Israel departed unto their [lit., his] tents [see note on ch. 8:66]. But Rehoboam forsook this advice, and asked the younger ministers who had grown up with him. They advised him to overawe the people by harsh threats. "My little finger is stronger than my father's loins." קטי, from קטן, littleness, i.e., the little finger (for the form, see Ewald, 255, b.), - a figurative expression in the sense of, I possess much greater might than my father. "And now, my father laid a heavy yoke upon you, and I will still further add to your yoke (lay still more upon you): my father chastised you with whips, I will chastise you with scorpions." עקרבּים, scorpiones, are whips with barbed points like the point of a scorpion's sting.

(Note: The Rabbins give this explanation: virgae spinis instructae. Isidor. HisPal. Origg. v. c. 27, explains it in a similar manner: virga si est nodosa vel aculeata, scorpio vocatur. The Targ. and Syr., on the other hand, מרגגין, Syr. mārganā', i.e., the Greek μάραγνα, a whip. See the various explanations in Bochart, Hieroz. iii. p. 554f. ed. Ros.)

This advice was not only imprudent, "considering all the circumstances" (Seb. Schmidt), but it was unwise in itself, and could only accelerate the secession of the discontented. It was the language of a tyrant, and not of a ruler whom God had placed over His people. This is shown in 1 Kings 12:13, 1 Kings 12:14 : "The king answered the people harshly, and forsook the counsel of the old men," i.e., the counsellors who were rich in experience, and spoke according to the counsels of the young men, who flattered his ambition. It is very doubtful, indeed, whether the advice of the old men would have been followed by so favourable a result; it might probably have been so for the moment, but not for a permanency. For the king could not become the עגלים of the people, serve the people, without prejudicing the authority entrusted to him by God; though there is no doubt that if he had consented to such condescension, he would have deprived the discontented tribes of all pretext for rebellion, and not have shared in the sin of their secession.

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