And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he gathered of the house of Judah and Benjamin an hundred and fourscore thousand chosen men, which were warriors, to fight against Israel, that he might bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam.
But the word of the LORD came to Shemaiah the man of God, saying,
Speak unto Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all Israel in Judah and Benjamin, saying,2 Chronicles 11:3. Speak unto Rehoboam the son of Solomon — Intimating that this was determined for the sin of Solomon, and therefore could not be reversed. But for all explanation of this paragraph, see notes on 1 Kings 12:21-24.
Thus saith the LORD, Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren: return every man to his house: for this thing is done of me. And they obeyed the words of the LORD, and returned from going against Jeroboam.
And Rehoboam dwelt in Jerusalem, and built cities for defence in Judah.2 Chronicles 11:5. Rehoboam built cities for defence in Judah — That is, repaired, enlarged, and fortified them: for these cities, or divers of them, were built before, as appears from Joshua 10:10; Joshua 12:15; Joshua 15:24; Joshua 15:33-58; Joshua 19:42.
He built even Bethlehem, and Etam, and Tekoa,
And Bethzur, and Shoco, and Adullam,
And Gath, and Mareshah, and Ziph,
And Adoraim, and Lachish, and Azekah,
And Zorah, and Aijalon, and Hebron, which are in Judah and in Benjamin fenced cities.
And he fortified the strong holds, and put captains in them, and store of victual, and of oil and wine.
And in every several city he put shields and spears, and made them exceeding strong, having Judah and Benjamin on his side.
And the priests and the Levites that were in all Israel resorted to him out of all their coasts.2 Chronicles 11:13. The priests and Levites resorted to him out of all their coasts — So the tribe of Levi was added to the tribe of Judah; though not the cities, in general, wherein they dwelt, which they were forced to leave when they would not conform to the idolatrous worship which Jeroboam had set up. The tribe of Simeon, likewise, was so intermixed with Judah, that, in all probability, many cities thereof, if not all, became one body with it, which made Judah a very powerful kingdom.
For the Levites left their suburbs and their possession, and came to Judah and Jerusalem: for Jeroboam and his sons had cast them off from executing the priest's office unto the LORD:2 Chronicles 11:14. For Jeroboam and his sons cast them off — They would not suffer them to instruct the Israelites in the worship of God, nor to go up to Jerusalem to worship in their courses: and these priests would not join with them in the worship of the calves, as they were commanded by Jeroboam to do; and therefore they willingly forsook all their patrimonies and possessions for God’s sake. No secular advantages whatsoever should detain us there, where we are in danger of making shipwreck of faith and a good conscience. It was a mercy to these priests and Levites that they had a place of refuge to flee to; and that, when Jeroboam cast them off, there were those so near that would receive and bid them welcome; and that they were not forced to flee into the lands of the heathen. And it was an evidence that they loved their work better than their maintenance, in that they left their suburbs and possessions in the country, where they might have lived at ease upon their own property, because they were restrained from serving God there, and in that, casting themselves upon God’s providence, and the charity of their brethren, they came where they might have the full enjoyment of God’s ordinances, according to his own institution. They judged that poverty, in the way of duty, was to be chosen, rather than plenty, in the way of sin; and that it was better to live upon alms, or die in a prison, with a good conscience, than roll in wealth and pleasure with a prostituted one. At the same time, it was the wisdom and praise of Rehoboam and his people, that they bid them welcome, though they probably incommoded themselves to make room for them. Conscientious refugees bring a blessing along with them to the countries that entertain them, as they leave a curse behind them with those that expel them.
And he ordained him priests for the high places, and for the devils, and for the calves which he had made.2 Chronicles 11:15. For the high places, and for devils — Or, for the high places, both for devils, (the Baals, or false gods, which divers of his people worshipped, whom he encouraged to do so, giving them liberty to do any thing but to serve God at Jerusalem,) and for the calves — So he erected two sorts of high places, some for Baal, and some for the true God, whom he pretended to worship in and by the calves.
And after them out of all the tribes of Israel such as set their hearts to seek the LORD God of Israel came to Jerusalem, to sacrifice unto the LORD God of their fathers.2 Chronicles 11:16. And after them such as set their hearts to seek the Lord God of Israel — All the devout, pious Israelites, of every tribe, followed the priests and Levites: all who feared and loved God in sincerity and truth, and were determined to serve him. All such left the inheritances of their fathers, and went and took houses in or near Jerusalem, that they might have free access to the altar and temple of God, and be out of the way of the temptation to worship the calves. Thus the best of the Israelites united themselves to the tribe of Judah, and would have great influence in preserving that tribe from the idolatry into which the ten tribes were fallen. “That is best for us,” says Henry, “which is best for our souls; and in all our choices, advantages for religion must take place of all outward conveniences. Where God’s faithful priests are, his faithful people should be. If Jeroboam cast off God’s ministers, every true-born Israelite will think himself obliged to own them, and stand by them.” Reader, when the ark removes, do you remove and go after it.
So they strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and made Rehoboam the son of Solomon strong, three years: for three years they walked in the way of David and Solomon.2 Chronicles 11:17. So they strengthened the kingdom of Judah — Not only by the addition of so many persons to it, who probably brought what they could of their property with them, but by their piety and prayers they procured a blessing upon the kingdom which was a sanctuary to them, Zechariah 12:5. It is the interest of any nation to protect and encourage religion and religious people, and adds, more than any thing, to its strength. They made him and his people strong three years — For so long they walked in the way of David and Solomon — Their good way; but when they forsook that, and so threw themselves out of God’s favour and protection, the best friends they had could no longer help to strengthen them. This honourable mention of Solomon, as a pattern of piety, is a considerable evidence of his true repentance before his death.
And Rehoboam took him Mahalath the daughter of Jerimoth the son of David to wife, and Abihail the daughter of Eliab the son of Jesse;
Which bare him children; Jeush, and Shamariah, and Zaham.
And after her he took Maachah the daughter of Absalom; which bare him Abijah, and Attai, and Ziza, and Shelomith.
And Rehoboam loved Maachah the daughter of Absalom above all his wives and his concubines: (for he took eighteen wives, and threescore concubines; and begat twenty and eight sons, and threescore daughters.)
And Rehoboam made Abijah the son of Maachah the chief, to be ruler among his brethren: for he thought to make him king.2 Chronicles 11:22. Rehoboam made Abijah ruler among his brethren — He declared him his successor, and gave him the dominion over his brethren.
And he dealt wisely, and dispersed of all his children throughout all the countries of Judah and Benjamin, unto every fenced city: and he gave them victual in abundance. And he desired many wives.2 Chronicles 11:23. He dealt wisely, and dispersed his children, &c. — Either, 1st, Lest his other sons should, after his death, unite together against Abijah; or rather, 2d, Because he could repose confidence in them, for the preservation of the public peace and safety, and could trust them with the fenced cities, which he took care to have well victualled, that they might be a defence to the country in case of an invasion. Thus he that dealt foolishly at first, dealt wisely afterward in his affairs.