1 Kings 12:30
And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan.
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(30) Even unto Dan.—It has been thought that there is here a corruption of the text, and that words referring to Bethel have fallen out. But there is no sign of such variation in the LXX. (which only adds, in some MSS., “and deserted the house of the Lord”) or other versions. The reason of the mention of Dan only is probably that there the old sanctuary remained, and the priesthood was ready: hence, in this case, “the people went to worship” at once. The verses which follow describe the erection of a temple and the creation of a priesthood at Bethel, necessary before the inauguration of the new worship at what naturally became the more prominent and magnificent sanctuary. This temple is called a “house of high places,” partly perhaps from its actual position, partly to connect it with the use of “the high places” condemned in the Law. Indeed, as we have no notice of any time spent in building it, it is possible that some old “high place” was restored for the purpose.

1 Kings 12:30. This thing became a sin — An occasion of great wickedness, not only of idolatry, which is called sin by way of eminence; nor only of the worship of the calves, wherein they pretended to worship the true God; but also of the worship of Baal, and of the utter desertion of the true God, and of all sorts of impiety. The people went to worship before the one even unto Dan — Which is not here mentioned exclusively, for they went also to Beth-el, (1 Kings 12:32-33;) but for other reasons, either because that of Dan was first made, the people in those parts having been long leavened with idolatry, or to show the people’s readiness and zeal for idols; that those who lived in or near Beth-el, had not patience to stay till that calf was finished, but all of them were forward to go as far as Dan, which was in the utmost borders of the land, to worship an idol there; when it was thought too much for them to go to Jerusalem to worship God in the manner he had prescribed. The reader will easily observe here, as we have already intimated, that the sin of Jeroboam and the people did not consist in worshipping strange and false gods, but in setting up images, or representations of the true God, and worshipping him under the similitude of a corporeal form, which he had himself expressly forbidden, (Exodus 20:4,) and had severely punished in the case of Aaron; so that the people did not offend through ignorance, because their sacred records informed them of the terrible punishment which God had inflicted before for the like offence, whereby he made it evident how displeasing it was to him.

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.This thing became a sin - i. e., this act of Jeroboam's became an occasion of sin to the people. The author perhaps wrote the following words thus: "The people went to worship before the one to Bethel and before the other to Dan." 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. A sin, i.e. a cause or occasion of great wickedness among that people; not only of idolatry, which is called sin by way of eminency; nor only of the worship of the calves, wherein they pretended to worship the true God; but also of the worship of Baal, and of the utter desertion of the true God, and of all sorts of impiety and abominable sins, as is manifest from the history of that kingdom; in which there was not one good king, and very few of the people who were not guilty of heinous crimes, as the prophets witness.

The people went to worship: the king’s counsel and example seduced them, though it did not excuse their sin; and they willingly walked after this his wicked commandment, Hosea 5:11.

Unto Dan; which is not here mentioned exclusively, for that they went also to Beth-el is evident from 1 Kings 12:32,33, but for other reasons; either because that of Dan was first made, or best frequented, the people in those parts having been long leavened with idolatry; see Judges 18:30; or to show the people’s readiness to comply with the king’s command, and their zeal for idols; that those who lived in or near Beth-el had not patience to stay till that calf was finished, but all of them were forward to go as far as Dan, which was in the utmost borders of the land, to worship an idol there, when it was thought too much for them to go to Jerusalem to worship God.

And this thing became a sin,.... The cause and occasion of the sin of idolatry; it led them by degrees to leave off the worship of God, and to worship these calves as gods:

for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan; which was the furthest off, such was their great zeal for idolatrous worship; or they went thither before that at Bethel was set up; and even they at Bethel would go as far as Dan to worship, such was their veneration for both the calves. Abarbinel is of opinion that these calves were not made by Jeroboam for idolatrous uses, only the altar later mentioned; and that he never worshipped before them, nor sacrificed to them, nor even built the altar before them; but that these were set up as signs, and in memory of his kingdom, like the pillars in Solomon's temple; that he chose the calf or ox as emblems of his family, the family of Joseph, Deuteronomy 33:17 two to represent Ephraim and Manasseh; golden ones, to denote the majesty and perpetuity of his kingdom; and he set these, the one at Bethel, at the entrance of it, and the other at Dan, at the further borders of it; and that he did not call those gods, but the only true God, as he that brought Israel out of Egypt; only signified by that expression, that he was everywhere, there as well as at Jerusalem; but that the Israelites, who were taken with sensible objects, on visiting these out of curiosity, it became a snare to them, and they fell into the worship of them; just as Gideon's ephod, and Moses' brasen serpent, were unto them.

And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan.
30. And this thing became a sin] Being in contradiction of the second commandment.

for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan] It appears as though by these words it was intended to shew how fully the people were led astray. To far-off Dan even did they go. This had been associated with worship aforetime, though it was idolatrous. Jdg 18:30. There was no need to point out that they went to Bethel. That had been a place of worship before, and in consequence had sacred associations. Of course they were not hard to persuade to go there. But Jeroboam’s device was successful in respect of the other shrine also.

The LXX. adds to this verse ‘and they neglected the house of the Lord.’

Verse 30. - And this thing became a sin [It was in itself sinful, for it both set at nought the express prohibition of the Decalogue (Exodus 20:4), and also disregarded the one sanctuary of God's choice (Deuteronomy 12:5). And it led to other sins, e.g., the intrusion of a schismatic and irregular priesthood, and the performance of unauthorized rites, and to "an ever-deepening corruption of the national faith" (Ewald). Cf. Hosea 8:5; Hosea 13:2. But the meaning is, it became an occasion of sin to the people ("Quod fuit postea causa gravissimi peccati" - Vatab.) Jeroboam "made Israel to sin" (1 Kings 14:16; 1 Kings 15:26, etc.) It is difficult to conceive, in the face of these and similar words, how any one can seriously maintain that "the church of Israel was the national church" (Stanley, 2:264) ]: for the people went to worship before the one even unto Dan. [The people frequented both sanctuaries; why, then, is that at Dan especially mentioned? Some (Rawlinson, e.g.) have suggested that the text is here corrupt, and that we should read, "before the one to Bethel, and before the other to Dan." According to others, "the one" (הָאֶחַד) refers to the double הָאֶחַד ("the one," "the other"); cf. ver. 29. They would interpret, that is, "the people went to both, even to the distant Dan" (Bahr, Thenius). Keil would force the text and understand, "the people, even unto Dan," i.e., the people throughout the whole kingdom. Similarly, Wordsworth. Ewald understands "before the one" to mean כְּזֶחַד i.e., "as one," sc. man. On the whole it is better to take the words as they stand, literally. It is quite conceivable that, at first, the people resorted almost exclusively to the Danite sanctuary. Having been for long years a seat of worship, and having probably its "house of high places," or temple (see below), already built, it would naturally be in a position to receive worshippers some time before Bethel was prepared for that purpose. Jeroboam's offering in person at Bethel (ver. 32) which marks the inauguration of his new ritual there, may have been partly designed to attract worshippers to a shrine, which, as being nearer Jerusalem, or for some other reason, was neglected. But the verse is patient of another interpretation. It may intend to convey that the rebellious tribes, in their defiant disregard of the old order of things, the order now represented by a hostile kingdom, went en masse to the opposite point of the compass, even to the unhallowed and hitherto despised sanctuary of the Danites. The LXX. (Vat.) addition here is noticeable, "And they forsook the house of the Lord."] 1 Kings 12:30But this institution became a sin to Jeroboam, because it violated the fundamental law of the Old Testament religion, since this not only prohibited all worship of Jehovah under images and symbols (Exodus 20:4), but had not even left the choice of the place of worship to the people themselves (Deuteronomy 12:5.). "And the people went before the one to Dan." The expression "to Dan" can only be suitably explained by connecting it with העם: the people even to Dan, i.e., the people throughout the whole kingdom even to Dan. The southern boundary as the terminus a quo is not mentioned; not because it was for a long time in dispute, but because it was already given in the allusion to Bethel. האחד is neither the golden calf at Dan nor (as I formerly thought) that at Bethel, but is to be interpreted according to the receding את־האחד ואת־האחד: one of the two, or actually both the one and the other (Thenius). The sin of which Jeroboam was guilty consisted in the fact that he no longer allowed the people to go to the house of the Lord in Jerusalem, but induced or compelled them to worship Jehovah before one or the other of the calves which he had set up, or _(as it is expressed in 1 Kings 12:31) made a house of high places, בּמות בּית (see at 1 Kings 3:2), instead of the house of God, which the Lord had sanctified as the place of worship by filling it with His gracious presence. The singular בּית ב may be accounted for from the antithesis to יהוה בּית, upon which it rests. There was no necessity to say expressly that there was a house of high places at Bethel and Dan, i.e., in two places, because it followed as a matter of course that the golden calves could not stand in the open air, but were placed in a temple, by which the sacrificial altar stood. These places of worship were houses of high places, Bamoth, because the ark of the covenant was wanting, and therewith the gracious presence of God, the Shechinah, for which no symbol invented by men could be a substitute. Moreover Jeroboam made "priests from the mass of the people, who were not of the sons of Levi." העם מקצות, i.e., not of the poorest of the people (Luther and others), but from the last of the people onwards, that is to say, from the whole of the people any one without distinction even to the very last, instead of the priests chosen by God out of the tribe of Levi. For this meaning of מקצות see Genesis 19:4 and Ezekiel 33:2, also Lud. de Dieu on this passage. This innovation on the part of Jeroboam appears very surprising, if we consider how the Ephraimite Micah (Judges 17:10.) rejoiced that he had obtained a Levite to act as priest for his image-worship, and can only be explained from the fact that the Levites did not consent to act as priests in the worship before the golden calves, but set their faces against it, and therefore, as is stated in 2 Chronicles 11:13-14, were obliged to leave their district towns and possessions and emigrate into the kingdom of Judah.
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