1 Kings 12:21
And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah, with the tribe of Benjamin, an hundred and fourscore thousand chosen men, which were warriors, to fight against the house of Israel, to bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam the son of Solomon.
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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.The adhesion of Benjamin to Judah at this time comes upon us as a surprise. By blood Benjamin was far more closely connected with Ephraim than with Judah. All the traditions of Benjamin were antagonistic to Judah, and hitherto the weak tribe had been accustomed to lean constantly on its strong northern neighhour. But it would seem that, in the half-century which had elapsed since the revolt of Sheba, the son of Bichri 2 Samuel 20:1, the feelings of the Benjamites had undergone a complete change. This is best accounted for by the establishment of the religious and political capital at Jerusalem, on the border line of the two tribes Joshua 15:8; Joshua 18:16, from where it resulted that the new metropolis stood partly within the territory of either, and was in a certain sense common to both. One of the gates of Jerusalem was "the high gate of Benjamin" Jeremiah 20:2; and probably Benjamites formed a considerable part of the population. The whole tribe also, we may well believe, was sincerely attached to the temple worship, in which they could participate far more freely and more constantly than the members of remoter tribes, and to which the habits of forty years had now accustomed them.

On the number of the Israelites, see Exodus 12:37, notes; and 2 Samuel 24:9, notes. The number mentioned here is moderate, compared with the numbers given both previously and subsequently 2 Chronicles 13:3; 2 Chronicles 17:14-18.

1Ki 12:20-33. Jeroboam Made King over Them.

20-24. when all Israel heard that Jeroboam was come again—This verse closes the parenthetical narrative begun at 1Ki 12:2, and 1Ki 12:21-24 resume the history from 1Ki 12:1. Rehoboam determined to assert his authority by leading a large force into the disaffected provinces. But the revolt of the ten tribes was completed when the prophet Shemaiah ordered, in the Lord's name, an abandonment of any hostile measures against the revolutionists. The army, overawed by the divine prohibition, dispersed, and the king was obliged to submit.

With the tribe of Benjamin, i.e. that part of it which was next to Judah, and joined with them. See Poole "1 Kings 11:13".

Against the house of Israel, i.e. the families or tribes (for these words are promiscuously used one for the other) of Israel.

And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, From Shechem, which was forty miles (n) from Jerusalem:

he assembled all the house of Judah, with the tribe of Benjamin, an hundred and fourscore thousand chosen men, which were warriors, to fight against the house of Israel, to bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam the son of Solomon; which not only shows courage reassumed by Rehoboam, now safely home, but the hearty attachment of Judah and Benjamin to him, who raised presently so numerous an army in his favour; and had it not been that the Lord was against their going to battle with Israel, in all probability they might have gained their point, Jeroboam being scarcely settled in his kingdom, and having no forces raised.

(n) Reland. Palestin. Illustrat. tom. 2. p. 1007.

And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he {h} assembled all the house of Judah, with the tribe of Benjamin, an hundred and fourscore thousand chosen men, which were warriors, to fight against the house of Israel, to bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam the son of Solomon.

(h) For as yet he did not realize that the Lord had so appointed it.

21–24. Rehoboam prepares to make war on Israel but this is forbidden by the Prophet Shemaiah (2 Chronicles 11:1-4)

21. all the house of Judah, with the tribe of Benjamin] Called in 2 Chron. ‘the house of Judah and Benjamin.’ Thus Benjamin is shewn to have been, as it were, reckoned with Judah rather than as a separate tribe.

an hundred and fourscore thousand] The LXX. gives the number as 120,000. Though apparently enormous, neither number is excessive when we recall Joab’s numbering (2 Samuel 24:9), at which time the men of Judah were found to be 500,000. But subsistence for so large a population must have been very difficult to find in so small a state.

Verse 21. - And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah with [Heb. and] the tribe of Benjamin, [It is at first sight somewhat surprising that Benjamin, so long the rival of Judah, and which had so long resisted the rule of David, should on this occasion have detached itself from the leadership of Ephraim, its near and powerful neighbour, and a tribe, too, with which it had a sort of hereditary connexion. That a sort of jealousy existed at one time between the tribes of Benjamin and Judah, consequent, no doubt, on the transference of the sceptre from the house of Saul to that of David, is very evident. A thousand men of Benjamin constituted the following of the rebel Shimei, (2 Samuel 19:17). The rising of Sheba the Benjamite, again (2 Samuel 20:1), proves that the enmity and discontent were not even then subdued. But when the ten tribes fell away, Benjamin seems never to have faltered in its allegiance. The change is easily accounted for. It was the glory of Benjamin that Jerusalem, the joy of the whole earth, the civil and religious capital of the nation, was largely within its border. "The city of the Jebusite" was in the lot of Benjamin (Joshua 18:28). But it was also on the boundary line of Judah. This fact had, no doubt, brought the two tribes into close contact, and had given them interests in common, in fact had "riveted them together as by a cramp" (Blunt, pp. 167, 174, who traces "a gradual tendency of the ten tribes to become confederate under Ephraim," and a growing alliance and community of interests between Judah and Benjamin); and now Benjamin could not fail to see that separation from Judah would mean the loss of Jerusalem (which would be largely peopled by the men of Judah, David's tribe, and would be practically in their hands), while adhesion to Ephraim would not prevent the establishment of another sanctuary further north. The traditions of fifty years, consequently, and the common interest in the capital, prevailed over hereditary ties and ancient feuds, and decided Benjamin to cast in its lot with Judah;the more so, as the heads of this tribe may have felt, after once furnishing Israel with its king, as jealous of Ephraim as they had once been of Judah. It must not be forgotten, however, that some portions of Benjamin, including Bethel, Gilgal, and Jericho, were incorporated in the northern kingdom (Ewald) ], an hundred and fourscore thousand chosen men [the LXX. has ἑκατὸν καὶ ἐὶκοσι = 120,000, but the larger number need create no astonishment. At the time of David's census, the men of Judah numbered - if the figures can be depended on - 500,000, while Abijah could muster some 18 years afterwards an army of 400,000 (2 Chronicles 1 [lit., making war], to fight against the house of Israel, to bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam, the son of Solomon. [It is characteristic of Rehoboam that he proposes forthwith to subdue the rebellious tribes by force. Probably he had no idea to what extent the tribes would prove disloyal.] 1 Kings 12:21But after the return of Rehoboam to Jerusalem he was still desirous of bringing back the seceders by force of arms, and raised for that purpose an army of 180,000 men out of all Judah, the tribe of Benjamin, and the rest of the people, i.e., the Israelites dwelling in the cities of Judah, - a number which does not appear too large according to 2 Samuel 24:9. But the prophet Shemaiah, a prophet who is not mentioned again, received instructions from God to forbid the king to go to war with their brethren the Israelites, "for this thing was from the Lord." הזּה הדּבר, "this thing, i.e., his being deprived of the sovereignty over ten tribes, but not their rebellion" (Seb. Schmidt). For the fact itself, see the remark on 1 Kings 12:15. The king and the people hearkened to this word. ללכת ישׁוּבוּ, "they turned to go," i.e., they gave up the intended expedition and returned home. In 2 Chronicles 11:4 we have the explanatory phrase מלּכת ישׁוּבוּ.
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