1 Kings 12:32
And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like to the feast that is in Judah, and he offered on the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(32) In the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month . . .—The “feast that was in Judah,” to which this is said to be like, is clearly the Feast of Tabernacles, on the fifteenth day of the seventh month. The fixing of Jeroboam’s festival of dedication for the Temple at Bethel to this special day is characteristic. It at once challenged likeness to the Feast of Tabernacles, which was (see 1Kings 8:2) the occasion of Solomon’s dedication at Jerusalem, and yet took liberty to alter the date, and fix it in the month “which he had devised of his own heart,” thus assuming the right to set aside the letter of the old law, while professing still to observe the worship of Jehovah.

Offered—or (see margin) went up—upon the altar.—The expression seems to imply that he ventured on a still greater innovation by taking on himself both functions of the priestly office—to offer sacrifice and (see 1Kings 12:33) to burn incense. This is not, indeed, necessarily implied; for (see 1Kings 8:63) the sacrificer is often said to offer, when he evidently does so only through the priests. But Jeroboam had set aside the peculiar sanctity of the Levitical priesthood already; and so was very naturally prepared to crown this process by acting as head of the unauthorised priesthood which he had created. Perhaps he had witnessed the exclusive prominence of Solomon at the great dedication festival, and desired to imitate and outdo it.

1 Kings 12:32. Jeroboam ordained a feast on the eighth month, &c. — The feast of tabernacles; which by the law was to be celebrated on the fifteenth day of the seventh month. His chief intention in this change, no doubt, was to alienate the people from the rites observed at Jerusalem. “Some suppose, with Mr. Locke, that as this feast was appointed by God to be observed after the gathering in of the fruits, which might be sooner ripe about Jerusalem than in the northern parts of the country; so Jeroboam might pretend that the eighth month would be a better time for it than the seventh, because then they would everywhere be gathered.” Add to this, he might possibly have two other reasons for making this alteration: 1st, Lest he should seem directly to oppose the God of Israel, who had in a special manner commanded all the people to go up to Jerusalem on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, if he should require their attendance to celebrate the feast elsewhere at the same time: and, 2d, That by appointing his feast to be kept a month after that at Jerusalem was past, he might give those of the people of Judah an opportunity of attending it, whose curiosity might lead them so to do; and thereby might ensure the presence of a greater concourse of people to honour his institution. On the fifteenth day — And so forward till the seven days were ended. Like that in Judah — From whence he took his pattern, to show that he worshipped the same God, and professed the same religion, for substance, which they did, however he differed in circumstances. He offered upon the altar — With his own hands, as appears from 1 Kings 13:1-4, which he did to give the more countenance to his newly-devised solemnity. And it is no marvel, that he, who assumed a power to make priests, should undertake to do the priests’ work with his own hands. So he (Jeroboam) did in Beth-el — Sacrificing there also, as well as in Dan, to the calves that he had made — Or, to Jehovah, as he pretended, under the image of these calves. And he placed in Beth-el the priests of the high places — Having built a house or temple there also, as well as in Dan, and set up many altars in it where these priests officiated, as was done in other high places.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.A feast - Intended as a substitute for the Feast of tabernacles (marginal reference "c"). It may also have assumed the character of a feast of dedication, held at the same time, after the example of Solomon 1 Kings 8:2. His object in changing the month from the seventh to the eighth, and yet keeping the day of the month, is not clear. Perhaps it was on account of the later vintage of the more northern regions. It is remarkable that Josephus places the scene in the "seventh" month. He therefore, was not aware that the people of Israel kept the feast of tabernacles a month later than their brethren of Judah. The expression "he offered upon the altar" (see the margin and Exodus 20:26) shows that Jeroboam himself officiated as priest, and offered this sacrifice - at Bethel, not at Dan; where it is possible that the priests descended from Jonathan, the son of Gershom and grandson of Moses, undertook the services (Judges 18:30 note). 31. made priests of the lowest of the people—literally, "out of all the people," the Levites refusing to act. He himself assumed to himself the functions of the high priest, at least, at the great festival, probably from seeing the king of Egypt conjoin the royal and sacred offices, and deeming the office of the high priest too great to be vested in a subject. Either,

1. A feast of dedication, like that which was in Judah, at the dedication of the temple. Or rather,

2. The feast of tabernacles, as may be thought, 1. Because that began on the fifteenth day of the month, Leviticus 23:34.

2. Because he is not blamed for devising the feast, (which thereby seems to have been of God’s appointment,) but only for devising the month, 1 Kings 12:33; for keeping God’s feast, not in God’s time, which was the fifteenth day of the seventh month, and so onward, Leviticus 23:34; but on the fifteenth day of the eighth month. And this alteration he made, either,

1. To keep up the difference between his subjects and those of Judah, as by the differing manners, so by the distinct times of their worship. Or,

2. Lest he should seem directly to oppose the God of Israel, (who had in a special manner obliged all the people to go up to Jerusalem at that time, Deu 16:16) by requiring their attendance to celebrate the feast elsewhere at the same time. Or,

3. To engage as many persons as possibly he could to come to his feast; which they would more willingly do, when the feast at Jerusalem was past, and all the fruits of the earth were most perfectly gathered in.

On the fifteenth day of the month; and so onward till the seven days ended. He took his pattern thence, to show that he worshipped the same God, and professed the same religion for substance, which they did; howsoever he differed in circumstances, as here he did in the time.

He offered; either,

1. By his priests. Or rather,

2. By his own hands; as appears from 1 Kings 13:1,4; which he did, to give the more countenance to his new-devised solemnity. Nor is this strange; for he might plausibly think, that he who by his own authority had made others priests, might much more exercise a part of that office; at least, upon an extraordinary occasion; in which case he knew David himself had done some things, which otherwise he might not do.

So did he in Beth-el, i.e. he himself did offer there in like manner, as he now had done at Dan.

Unto the calves; for they were two, 1 Kings 12:29.

He placed in Beth-el the priests; as he had done at Dan, 1 Kings 12:31. And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah,.... The feast of tabernacles, which was on the fifteenth day of the seventh month; this was done chiefly for the sake of an alteration; though Abarbinel thinks, because the fruits of the land were not so soon ripe nor so soon gathered, in the northern parts of the land, as nearer Jerusalem, he judged this month the fittest for the feast of ingathering the fruits; and he might hope to get more people to come to his feast, when all were gathered in:

and he offered upon the altar (so he did in Bethel), sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: this he did by his priests, or rather he himself did it, see 1 Kings 13:4, this shows that Jeroboam made these calves for worship, and did sacrifice to them, at least as representations of God. Abarbinel, to make this agree with his hypothesis, gives this sense of the clause, that he did not sacrifice to the calves, but to God, because of them, that his kingdom, which they were a sign of, might be continued; and there being but one calf in a place, he could not be said to sacrifice to them both, but to God, because of both; or else he thinks this must be done after the people had turned aside to them, and not when Jeroboam made them. The clause in the parenthesis, "so he did in Bethel", intimates that he did the same in Bethel as in Dan, of which what is said before is spoken; that is, that he made an house of high places in Bethel also, made priests out of all the people, such as were not of the tribe of Levi, appointed the feast of the fifteenth day of the eighth month to be observed there also, and he himself offered on the altar there:

and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made: to officiate there.

And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the {o} fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made.

(o) Because he would bind the people's devotion to his idolatry even more, he made a new holy day, besides those that the Lord had appointed in the law.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
32. And Jeroboam ordained a feast] This was intended to be a set-off for the Feast of Tabernacles, of the celebration of which, in Jerusalem, Jeroboam had been so much in fear.

in the eighth month on the fifteenth day] The Feast of Tabernacles was on the fifteenth day of the seventh month (Leviticus 23:34). Jeroboam came as near as he could but chose a later month, perhaps induced to do so because the harvest-celebration kept at the Feast of Tabernacles could be very well placed later in the northern part of the land. Josephus (Ant. VIII. 8. 5) says, contrary to all other authorities, that Jeroboam’s feast was in the seventh month.

and he offered upon the altar] The verb sometimes means ‘to go up unto,’ and this is represented on the margin of A. V. The text and margin change places in R.V., because the sacrificing is spoken of in the words which immediately follow. Read, he went up unto, and so twice over in 1 Kings 12:33.

so did he in Beth-el] The king himself took part in the dedication of the southern high place. The more distant Dan perhaps was inaugurated by some of the newly-made priests. Thus Jeroboam in some degree imitated Solomon’s dedication of the Temple.Verse 32. - And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah [i.e., the Feast of Tabernacles, which was held on the 15th of the seventh month (cf. 1 Kings 8:2). This was the great feast of the year, and, as the feast of harvest or ingathering, the most joyous. See on 1 Kings 8:1. Had Jeroboam provided no counter attraction to this great festive gathering in Judah he might have found it a formidable temptation to his subjects. The reason usually given for the alteration of the time - in defiance of the law, which expressly fixed it in the seventh month (Leviticus 23:34, 39, 41) - is that the eighth would be more generally convenient in the north, where the harvest or vintage was a month later (Then., Keil), as affording more time for the ingathering. In favour of this view is the consideration that the Jews not unfrequently had to intercalate a month - a second Adar - into their year, because of the season being a late one. Some of the older commentators, e.g., Vatab., think this time was chosen as the anniversary of his secession, but this is pure conjecture, and such an association would be contrary to the genius of the Hebrew people. Keil maintains that Jeroboam's design was to "make the separation, in a religious point of view, as complete as possible." But we can hardly be expected to believe that he altered the month, for the sake of creating a distinction, but "retained the day of the month, the fifteenth, for the sake of the weak who took offence at his innovations" (Keil). The day was retained, as Bahr points out, because, the months being lunar, the fifteenth was the day of the full moon], and he offered [Heb. as marg., "and he went up," i.e., ascended the altar; LXX. ἀνέβη. (Keil contends that וַיַּעַל means "and he sacrificed," but this translation is without precedent. Ver. 33, "and he went up to burn incense is decisive as to the meaning.) the altar was always raised. It was probably approached by s slope, as Exodus 20:26 forbade steps, though it is by no means certain that they were not used even in Solomon's temple, and Jeroboam probably would have no scruples on such a minute point of ritual. It has been thought (Kitto, 4:147) that he was moved to officiate in person by the precedent of the Egyptian kings, who exercised priestly functions; but it is much more probable that he was guided by the example of Solomon at the dedication of the temple] upon [i.e., he stood upon the ledge or platform (called in the A.V. "compass," Exodus 27:5) in the middle of the altar] the altar. So did he in Bethel [i.e., the feast was held at one centre only, and at Bethel alone the king offered in person. But I venture to suggest that instead of כֵּן, "so did he," etc., we should read כִּי. The LXX. seem to have had this word before them - ἐπὶ τὸ θυσιαστήριον ο{ εποίησεν ἐν βαιθὴλ. And not only does this slight change bring the Hebrew into harmony with the LXX., but it also simplifies the construction. "He went up upon the altar which he made to sacrifice unto the calves which he made." The very tautology is instructive, as suggesting that altar, calves, and priests were all of Jeroboam's making, not of God's ordaining. The use of כּי as a relative ( = אֲשֶׁר) is strictly grammatical], sacrificing [marg., to sacrifice] unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel [Dan being already provided with its priesthood] the priests of the high places [i.e., of "the house of high places" (ver. 31). Or it may be a contemptuous designation of Jeroboam's irregular priests] which he had made. In order also to give internal strength to his kingdom, Jeroboam resolved to provide for his subjects a substitute for the sacrificial worship in the temple by establishing new sacra, and thus to take away all occasion for making festal journeys to Jerusalem, from which he apprehended, and that probably not without reason, a return of the people to the house of David and consequently further danger for his own life. "If this people go up to perform sacrifice in the house of Jehovah at Jerusalem, their heart will turn to their lord, king Rehoboam," etc.
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