1 Kings 14:9
But hast done evil above all that were before thee: for thou hast gone and made thee other gods, and molten images, to provoke me to anger, and hast cast me behind thy back:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) But hast done evil above all that were before thee.—The language is strong, in the face of the many instances of the worship of false gods in the days of the Judges, and the recent apostasy of Solomon—to say nothing of the idolatry of the golden calf in the wilderness, and the setting up of the idolatrous sanctuaries in olden times at Ophrah and at Dan (Judges 8:27; Judges 18:30-31). The guilt, indeed, of Jeroboam’s act was enhanced by the presumptuous contempt of the special promise of God, given on the sole condition of obedience. In respect of this, perhaps, he is said below—in an expression seldom used elsewhere—to have “cast God Himself behind his back.” But probably the reference is mainly to the unprecedented effect of the sin, coming at a critical point in the history of Israel, and from that time onward poisoning the springs of national faith and worship. Other idolatries came and passed away: this continued, and at all times “made Israel to sin.”

Other gods and molten images.—See in 1Kings 11:28 the repetition of the older declaration in the wilderness, “These be thy gods, O Israel.” Jeroboam would have justified the use of the calves as simply emblems of the true God; Ahijah rejects the plea, holding these molten images, expressly forbidden in the Law, to be really objects of worship—“other gods,”—as, indeed, all experience shows that such forbidden emblems eventually tend to become. Moreover, from 1Kings 14:15 it appears that the foul worship of the Asherah (“groves”) associated itself with the idolatry of Jeroboam.

1 Kings 14:9. But hast done evil above all that were before thee — Above all the judges and former kings of my people, none of whom set up images, and persuaded the people to worship them. For thou hast made thee other gods, and molten images — Namely, the golden calves: not as if they thought them to be other gods in a proper sense, but only representations of the true God; for it is apparent they still pretended to worship the God of their fathers; but because God rejected their whole worship, and, howsoever they accounted it, he reckoned it a manifest defection from him, and a betaking themselves to other gods, or devils, as they are called 2 Chronicles 11:15, whom alone they served and worshipped therein, whatsoever pretences they had to the contrary. To provoke — Whereby thou didst provoke me. For otherwise this was not Jeroboam’s design in it, but only to establish himself in the throne. And hast cast me behind thy back — Despised and forsaken me, and my commands, and my worship, as we do things which we cast behind our backs.

14:7-20 Whether we keep an account of God's mercies to us or not, he does; and he will set them in order before us, if we are ungrateful, to our greater confusion. Ahijah foretells the speedy death of the child then sick, in mercy to him. He only in the house of Jeroboam had affection for the true worship of God, and disliked the worship of the calves. To show the power and sovereignty of his grace, God saves some out of the worst families, in whom there is some good thing towards the Lord God of Israel. The righteous are removed from the evil to come in this world, to the good to come in a better world. It is often a bad sign for a family, when the best in it are buried out of it. Yet their death never can be a loss to themselves. It was a present affliction to the family and kingdom, by which both ought to have been instructed. God also tells the judgments which should come upon the people of Israel, for conforming to the worship Jeroboam established. After they left the house of David, the government never continued long in one family, but one undermined and destroyed another. Families and kingdoms are ruined by sin. If great men do wickedly, they draw many others, both into the guilt and punishment. The condemnation of those will be severest, who must answer, not only for their own sins, but for sins others have been drawn into, and kept in, by them.Above all that were before thee - i. e., above all previous rulers of the people, whether Judges or kings. Hereto none of the rulers of Israel had set up the idolatrous worship of ephod, teraphim, and the like Judges 18:17, as a substitute for the true religion, or sought to impose an idolatrous system on the nation. Gideon's ephod "became a snare" contrary to his intention Judges 8:27. Solomon's high places were private - built for the use of his wives, and not designed to attract the people. Jeroboam was the first ruler who set himself to turn the Israelites away from the true worship, and established a poor counterfeit of it, which he strove to make, and succeeded in making, the religion of the great mass of his subjects.

And hast cast me behind thy back - A very strong and very rare expression, occurring again only in Ezekiel 23:35; where it is said of the Jews generally, shortly before the captivity. The expressions in the marginal references are similar but less fearful.

8. thou hast not been as my servant David—David, though he fell into grievous sins, repented and always maintained the pure worship of God as enjoined by the law. Above all that were before thee; above all the former kings of my people, as Saul, and Solomon, and Rehoboam.

Other gods, and molten images, or other gods, to wit, (for so and oft signifies among the Hebrews, as hath been formerly noted,)

molten images, namely, the golden calves; which he calls others gods, not as if the Israelites esteemed the calves made of their own gold to be gods indeed, which it is incredible should find belief with any man in his wits, especially with the whole body of the Israelites, who knew that the ark and cherubims, though made by God’s special direction, were not gods, but only pledges of God’s presence, &c.; nor as if they thought them to be

other gods in a strict and proper sense; for it is apparent that they still pretended to worship the God of their fathers, as the Jews at Jerusalem did, though in a differing manner: but only because God rejected their whole worship; and howsoever they called or accounted it, he reckoned it a manifest defection from him, and a betaking of themselves to other gods, or devils, as they are called, 2 Chronicles 11:15, by whose instigation they were led to such idolatrous practices, and whom alone they served and worshipped therein, whatsoever pretences they had to the contrary.

To provoke me to anger, i.e. whereby thou didst provoke me; for otherwise this was not Jeroboam’s design in it, but only to establish himself in the throne.

Cast me behind thy back; despised, and disregarded, and forsaken me, and my commands, and my worship, as we do things which we cast behind our backs.

But hast done evil above all that were before thee,.... Not only above David, but above Saul, who never gave into idolatry, yea, even above Solomon, who, though he connived at idolatry, and might be guilty of it in some instances, yet did not attempt to draw his people into it; and if this was the latter end of Jeroboam's reign, which is probable, Rehoboam and Abijam might be both dead; and though they were blameworthy in some things, yet not so bad as Jeroboam; though perhaps this may respect only such who had been kings of Israel before him:

for thou hast gone and made thee other gods, and molten images, to provoke me to anger; the two calves of gold; for however he might colour things over, and pretend he did not look upon these as gods, but as representations of God, and that he did not worship them, but God by them, yet the Lord considered it as idolatry, than which nothing is more provoking to him:

and hast cast me behind thy back; as unworthy of his regard; or my worship, as the Targum, which he neglected, and showed no concern for.

But hast done evil above all that were before thee: for thou hast gone and made thee other gods, and {i} molten images, to provoke me to anger, and hast cast me behind thy back:

(i) That is, two calves.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
9. but hast done evil above all that were before thee] This must refer not only to the kings who had preceded Jeroboam, but to the cases of idolatry in the earlier days, e.g. of the Judges. There had been no such instance of sin in the lives of David or of Saul, and Solomon’s transgression had been the building of temples and the setting up of images for his strange wives, who were already idolaters.

for thou hast gone] R.V. ‘and thou hast gone’. The conjunction is the simple copulative.

other gods] So certain was the making of an image, even if it was to represent Jehovah, to lead to the introduction of false worship, that God speaks of it as already effected.

and hast cast me behind thy back] An expression indicative of the extremest contempt. It is used Nehemiah 9:26 of the whole national sin which led to the captivity, and in Ezekiel 23:35, where the prophet is describing the apostasy of Aholibah.

Verse 9. - But hast done evil above all that were before thee [perhaps preceding kings are not meant, so much as judges - judices et duces Israelis (Le Clerc). Kings, however, are not excluded. Both Saul and Solomon had sinned (1 Samuel passim; 1 Kings 11:5, 6), though neither had set up an organized idolism and "made Israel to sin"]: for thou hast gone and made thee other gods [in defiance of the decalogue (Exodus 20:4). Jeroboam, no doubt, insisted that his calves were not idols, but cherubic symbols. But God does not recognize this distinction. Practically they were "other gods," and so they are here called derisively], and molten images [the word is used of the golden calf, Exodus 32:4, 8. See also Exodus 34:17; Deuteronomy 9:12; Judges 17:3, 4. The "other gods" and the "molten images" are but two names for the same thing, viz., the calves of Bethel and Dan], to provoke me to anger [This was the result, not, of course, the object of Jeroboam's idolatrous worship], and hast cast me [The order of the Hebrew stamps the "me" as emphatic, "and ME hast thou cast, etc.] behind thy back [This strong expression only occurs here and in Ezekiel 23:35. It forcibly expresses Jeroboam's, contemptuous disregard of God's revealed will. In Psalm 50:17; Nehemiah 9:26, we have somewhat similar phrases]: 1 Kings 14:9The saying was as follows: "Therefore, because thou hast exalted thyself from the people, and I have made thee prince over my people Israel (cf., 1 Kings 11:31), ... but thou hast not been as my servant David, who kept my commandments...(cf., 1 Kings 11:34), and hast done worse than all who were before thee (judices nimirum et duces Israelis - Cler.), and hast gone and hast made thyself other gods (contrary to the express command in Exodus 20:2-3), ... and hast cast me behind thy back: therefore I bring misfortune upon the house of Jeroboam," etc. The expression, to cast God behind the back, which only occurs here and in Ezekiel 23:35, denotes the most scornful contempt of God, the strict opposite of "keeping God before the eyes and in the heart." בּקיר משׁתּין, every male person; see at 1 Samuel 25:22. A synonymous expression is ועזוּב עצוּר, the fettered (i.e., probably the married) and the free (or single); see at Deuteronomy 32:36. "In Israel," i.e., in the kingdom of the ten tribes. The threat is strengthened by the clause in 1 Kings 14:10, "and I will sweep out after the house of Jeroboam, as one sweepeth out dung, even to the end," which expresses shameful and utter extermination; and this threat is still further strengthened in 1 Kings 14:11 by the threat added from Deuteronomy 28:26, that of those cut off not one is to come to the grave, but their bodies are to be devoured by the dogs and birds of prey, - the worst disgrace that could befall the dead. Instead of wild beasts (Deuteronomy 28:26) the dogs are mentioned here, because in the East they wander out in the streets without owners, and are so wild and ravenous that they even devour corpses (vid., Harmar, Beobachtungen, i. p. 198). לירבעם with ל of relationship, equivalent to of those related to Jeroboam. It is the same in 1 Kings 14:13.
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