1 Kings 12:29
And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan.
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(29) Bethel and Dan, chosen as the frontier towns of the kingdom, had, however, associations of their own, which lent themselves naturally to Jeroboam’s design. Bethel—preserving in its name the memory of Jacob’s vision, and of his consecration of the place as a sanctuary (Genesis 28:19; Genesis 35:14-15)—had been (see Judges 20:18; Judges 20:26; Judges 20:31; Judges 21:2; 1Samuel 7:16) a place of religious assembly, and, possibly, of occasional sojourn of the Ark. At Dan, it is not unlikely that the use of the local sanctuary, set up at the conquest of the city by the Danites, still lingered; and from the notice in Judges 18:30, that the posterity of Jonathan, the grandson of Moses, were priests till “the day of the captivity of the land,” it seems as if these priests of this old worship became naturally the appointed ministers of the new.

1 Kings 12:29. He set the one in Beth-el, &c. — Which two places he chose for the people’s convenience, Beth-el being in the southern, and Daniel in the northern part of his kingdom. Add to this, that as Bethel was in every body’s opinion a sacred place, having been consecrated by God’s appearing there more than once to Jacob; so Dan had been famous for the teraphim of Micah, unto which there had been great resort for a long time, Jdg 18:30. For such reasons as these it is likely he waived his royal city, which was Shechem, and chose these two places for the worship of the Divine Majesty, whom he pretended he did not forsake, but worshipped by these symbols of his presence.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.In the first place, Jeroboam consulted the convenience of his subjects, who would thus in no case have very far to go in order to reach one or the other sanctuary. Further, he avoided the danger of reminding them continually that they had no ark - a danger which would have been imminent, had the two cherubs been placed together in one shrine.

He selected Bethel (in the south) for one of his seats of worship, on account of its pre-eminent sanctity. (See the marginal reference; Judges 20:26-28; 1 Samuel 7:16.)

The north of Palestine did not furnish a spot possessing an equally sacred character, but still Dan had to some extent the character of a "holy city" (marginal reference).

26-32. Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David—Having received the kingdom from God, he should have relied on the divine protection. But he did not. With a view to withdraw the people from the temple and destroy the sacred associations connected with Jerusalem, he made serious and unwarranted innovations on the religious observances of the country, on pretext of saving the people the trouble and expense of a distant journey. First, he erected two golden calves—the young bulls, Apis and Mnevis, as symbols (in the Egyptian fashion) of the true God, and the nearest, according to his fancy, to the figures of the cherubim. The one was placed at Dan, in the northern part of his kingdom; the other at Beth-el, the southern extremity, in sight of Jerusalem, and in which place he probably thought God was as likely to manifest Himself as at Jerusalem (Ge 32:1-32; 2Ki 2:2). The latter place was the most frequented—for the words (1Ki 12:30) should be rendered, "the people even to Dan went to worship before the one" (Jer 48:13; Am 4:4, 5; 5:5; Ho 5:8; 10:8). The innovation was a sin because it was setting up the worship of God by symbols and images and departing from the place where He had chosen to put His name. Secondly, he changed the feast of tabernacles from the fifteenth of the seventh to the fifteenth of the eighth month. The ostensible reason might be, that the ingathering or harvest was later in the northern parts of the kingdom; but the real reason was to eradicate the old association with this, the most welcome and joyous festival of the year. Which two places he chose for his people’s conveniency;

Beth-el being in the southern, and

Dan in the northern parts of his kingdom. And he set the one in Bethel,.... In the southern part of the land, on the border of Ephraim and Benjamin; and the rather he chose this place, because its name signifies the house of God, and had been a sacred place, where Jacob more than once enjoyed the divine Presence:

and the other put he in Dan: in the northern part of the land, for the convenience of the inhabitants of those parts; and the rather, since it had been a place resorted to in former times, because of the teraphim of Micah there.

And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan.
29. in Beth-el] The well-known city in the extreme south of the tribe of Ephraim, and so just on the southern border of the new kingdom of Israel.

in Dan] The town, formerly called Laish, in the very north of Palestine, and always mentioned as a limit of the land in the phrase ‘from Dan to Beersheba.’ It was so remote from the influence of the rest of the nation that its inhabitants lived ‘after the manner of the Zidonians.’ They were, that is, sea-faring people, rather than shepherds and husbandmen like the rest of their brethren. The places chosen by Jeroboam were at either limit of his kingdom, and had been associated with religious worship in ancient times. See Jdg 18:30; Jdg 20:18; Jdg 20:26; 1 Samuel 10:3.Verse 29. - And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Daniel [Two considerations seem to have influenced Jeroboam in his choice of these sites. First, both these places were in some sort sanctuaries already. Bethel was already a makom, or holy place, in the days of Abraham; was consecrated by the visions and altar of Jacob (Genesis 28:11-19; Genesis 31:13; Genesis 35:1, 7, 15), and by the ark having been there (Judges 20:26-28, Hebrews; cf. Jos., Ant., 5:02.10). And though Dan (Joshua 19:47; Judges 18:29; Judges 20:1) can hardly have had as sacred a character as the "house of God and the gate of heaven" (Genesis 28:17) had, still it had its shrine and its schismatic priesthood. A grandson of Moses (Judges 18:13, true reading) had ministered there, and his sons were the priests of Dan still. Secondly, these localities would suit the convenience of his subjects, being respectively at the southern and northern extremities of the kingdom. And this, no doubt, was one reason why Dan was chosen in preference to other places, such as Shiloh, which, though more sacred, were less conveniently situated. A sanctuary at Dan would save the northern tribes many tedious journeys. It should be remarked that Bethel properly belonged to Benjamin (Joshua 18:13, 22), though it was also on the border of Ephraim; and it has been suggested that it was Jeroboam's selection of this place as a seat of the calf worship decided the tribe of Benjamin to follow the lead of Judah. But the narrative seems to imply that their choice had been made at an earlier period (ver. 21), and the city would seem to have been long in the possession of the house of Joseph (Judges 1:22). It is now known as Beitin, and is one of the most naked and dreary spots in Palestine. "The place seems, as it were, turned to stone; and we can well imagine that the patriarch found nothing softer than a stone for his pillow." Conder, p. 252, who suggests that from the time of Abraham Bethel was a מָקום, a sacred place merely (Genesis 28:11), and distinct from the adjoining city of Luz (ver. 19).] But 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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