Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
At that time Abijah the son of Jeroboam fell sick.Chap. 1 Kings 14:1-20. Jeroboam’s inquiry concerning his sick child. The prophet’s answer. Close of Jeroboam’s reign (Not in Chronicles)
1. At that time] The order of the narrative shews that the writer of Kings connects the sickness of Jeroboam’s son with the events which have been narrated in the previous chapter in the nature of a divine judgement. The whole of this section 1–20 is omitted by the LXX. (Vat.)
And Jeroboam said to his wife, Arise, I pray thee, and disguise thyself, that thou be not known to be the wife of Jeroboam; and get thee to Shiloh: behold, there is Ahijah the prophet, which told me that I should be king over this people.2. and disguise thyself] She was to put on such a dress that no one would recognise her for the queen. Jeroboam no doubt felt that the prophets generally were against him, and that if it were known that he was the applicant, he would receive an unfavourable answer. Josephus describes the queen as putting aside her royal robe, and assuming the dress of a private person. Otherwise she could scarcely have gone abroad on her errand. Of course she was also to conceal her identity from Ahijah, but as he was not able to see, the dress would have mattered little on his account. In the LXX. (Alex.) it is said ‘they shall not know thee’, i.e. people generally.
Ahijah] On Ahijah and Shiloh see above on 1 Kings 11:29.
which told me that I should be king] R.V. ‘Which spake concerning me that I should be king’. This is somewhat nearer to the Hebrew, but the difficulty is in the word rendered ‘that I should be king’ which is a noun with a preposition לְמֶלֶךְ = ‘for a king’, where we should have expected rather the verbal form לִמְלךְ.
And take with thee ten loaves, and cracknels, and a cruse of honey, and go to him: he shall tell thee what shall become of the child.3. cracknels] The word so rendered is found only here and in Joshua 9:5, of the bread of the Gibeonites, which became mouldy. Some take the word there in the sense of crumbling, so dry that it crumbled into bits. In the present passage however it must mean a sort of cake, perhaps dry baked. The whole of the present which the queen was to take with her was such as a woman of humble position would bring. The traditional interpretation of the Talmud makes the word to mean small cakes about the size of half an egg. The LXX. (Alex.) adds as explanatory, that they were for the prophet’s children.
and a cruse] The word only occurs here and in Jeremiah 19:1; Jeremiah 19:10, where it is rendered ‘bottle’.
he shall tell thee what shall become of the child] It reveals to us a singular condition of mind, when we see the king confident in the prophet’s power of foretelling the future even in the case of an individual life, and yet thinking that the queen could go to him with her question and he not know who was making the inquiry.
And Jeroboam's wife did so, and arose, and went to Shiloh, and came to the house of Ahijah. But Ahijah could not see; for his eyes were set by reason of his age.4. for his eyes were set] The same expression is used of Eli, 1 Samuel 4:15. The idea is of one whose eye has lost its power so that the light no longer acts upon it to enlarge or contract the pupil.
And the LORD said unto Ahijah, Behold, the wife of Jeroboam cometh to ask a thing of thee for her son; for he is sick: thus and thus shalt thou say unto her: for it shall be, when she cometh in, that she shall feign herself to be another woman.5. to ask a thing of thee] The precise expression is not found again. The R.V. gives the rendering ‘to inquire’, which is most common for the verb, and regards the noun as expository, and so leaves it unrendered. The rendering of the A.V. misrepresents the mission. It was not to ask something for her son, but to inquire concerning him.
thus and thus shalt thou say] The writer, knowing that immediately he will record the conversation, abbreviates his story thus to avoid repeating twice the same words. The same expression is found in Jdg 18:4.
And it was so, when Ahijah heard the sound of her feet, as she came in at the door, that he said, Come in, thou wife of Jeroboam; why feignest thou thyself to be another? for I am sent to thee with heavy tidings.6. For I am sent to thee with heavy tidings] The LXX. (Alex.) rendering, which gives a word for word version of the Hebrew, will explain the italics of the A. V. καὶ ἐγὼ εἰμὶ ἀπόστολος πρός σε σκληρός.
Go, tell Jeroboam, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Forasmuch as I exalted thee from among the people, and made thee prince over my people Israel,
And rent the kingdom away from the house of David, and gave it thee: and yet thou hast not been as my servant David, who kept my commandments, and who followed me with all his heart, to do that only which was right in mine eyes;
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: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.
Therefore, behold, I will bring evil upon the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel, and will take away the remnant of the house of Jeroboam, as a man taketh away dung, till it be all gone.10. and will cut off] The entire family is to be exterminated. R.V. ‘will cut off from Jeroboam every man child’.
and him that is shut up and left in Israel] There is no conjunction at the beginning of this phrase, which is used to explain the comprehensiveness of what has gone before. The words are alliterative, and apparently proverbial, in the original. The R.V. has given the sense somewhat more fully: ‘him that is shut up and him that is left at large’. That is whether a man be young and so under wardship, or older, and free to go about as he pleases. Hence the expression amounts to ‘young and old’.
and will take away the remnant] The verb is one that is frequently used of exterminating wickedness and the wicked, but the word translated ‘remnant’ is only a preposition meaning ‘after’. The sense is ‘I will clear away after the house of Jeroboam’, i.e., not only that they shall be taken away, but all traces of their existence shall be removed. As the verb in the latter clause would be most naturally rendered by ‘sweep’, the R.V. has translated the whole passage ‘and will utterly sweep away the house of Jeroboam, as a man sweepeth away dung’, where ‘utterly’ gives the force of the literal rendering very well.
Him that dieth of Jeroboam in the city shall the dogs eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat: for the LORD hath spoken it.11. shall the dogs eat] It was this circumstance which rendered it so horrible to the Oriental mind to be cast out unburied. The dogs of an Eastern city were many and devoured all they found.
Arise thou therefore, get thee to thine own house: and when thy feet enter into the city, the child shall die.12. to thine own house] There is nothing in the text to represent ‘own’. It adds nothing to the sense, and may be omitted.
And all Israel shall mourn for him, and bury him: for he only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave, because in him there is found some good thing toward the LORD God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam.13. And all Israel shall mourn for him] Abijah, though called ‘a child’ in 1 Kings 14:3; 1 Kings 14:12; 1 Kings 14:17 must have been of such an age as to exhibit qualities that made him beloved of the people. The Hebrew word for ‘child’ in 1 Kings 14:3; 1 Kings 14:17 (not in 12) is the same which Solomon uses of himself in 1 Kings 3:7 above. See note there.
there is found some good thing toward the Lord] Out of this expression has grown the Jewish tradition that Abijah endeavoured, contrary to the wish of his father, to encourage the people to go up to Jerusalem to worship, and removed hindrances that had been put in the way of such journeys. This was his goodness toward the Lord.
Moreover the LORD shall raise him up a king over Israel, who shall cut off the house of Jeroboam that day: but what? even now.14. that day] i.e. On which the Lord hath appointed: the day when the new king shall arise.
but what? even now] This elliptic phrase seems to be best filled out somewhat thus. But what (am I saying? Why do I speak of that day? It will so soon come to pass that I may call it) even now.
For the LORD shall smite Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water, and he shall root up Israel out of this good land, which he gave to their fathers, and shall scatter them beyond the river, because they have made their groves, provoking the LORD to anger.15. as a reed is shaken] For this figure of entire instability, cf. Matthew 11:7 ‘a reed shaken with the wind’. And here the root is planted amid the water, which will make it more tottering still.
beyond the river] i.e. The River, par excellence, the Euphrates.
their groves] R.V. their Ashêrim. This is a plural form of the word Ashêrah, which is the name of a goddess worshipped with rites similar to those of Baal-worship. The plural probably denotes the wooden images of the goddess, which are mentioned as early as Exodus 34:13, and the worship of which was common in the time of the Judges (cf. 1 Kings 3:7), and then for some interval laid aside, but revived under the kings.
And he shall give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who did sin, and who made Israel to sin.16. and he shall give Israel up] i.e. Into the hands of their enemies.
who did sin, and who made Israel to sin] It is better with R.V. to take the relative as refering to ‘the sin.’ Render, which he hath sinned and wherewith he hath made Israel to sin.
And Jeroboam's wife arose, and departed, and came to Tirzah: and when she came to the threshold of the door, the child died;17. and came to Tirzah] This place has not been identified with certainty. It was an ancient city, mentioned first Joshua 12:24. Its beauty is celebrated in Song of Solomon 6:4. Jeroboam, as we see here, made it a royal residence, and it was so used, and by some kings as a place of burial, till Omri built Samaria. It was almost certainly on the west of Jordan, and probably not far from the present Nablous. The LXX. (Alex.) gives εἱς γῆν Σαριρά, on which see 1 Kings 12:2 additional note.
to the threshold of the door] The Hebrew (as R.V. gives) has ‘the threshold of the house.’
And they buried him; and all Israel mourned for him, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by the hand of his servant Ahijah the prophet.18. and they buried him] The R.V. transposes ‘all Israel,’ putting it before ‘buried,’ and thus the sentence assumes an English form. The Hebrew puts ‘all Israel’ at the end of the clause.
by the hand of] A common Hebrew form for the simple ‘by.’ Cf. 1 Kings 8:53 above.
And the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, how he warred, and how he reigned, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.19. how he warred] His war with Abijah king of Judah is spoken of in 2 Chronicles 13:3-20. The history in that place describes Jeroboam’s defeat, and the loss of five thousand of his men, and the capture of several Israelite cities by the king of Judah. The wars of Jeroboam with Rehoboam are alluded to below (1 Kings 15:6).
And the days which Jeroboam reigned were two and twenty years: and he slept with his fathers, and Nadab his son reigned in his stead.20. two and twenty years] So that Jeroboam’s death occurred in the second year of the reign of Asa, king of Judah. Cf. 1 Kings 15:9; 1 Kings 15:25. It appears from 2 Chronicles 13:20 to have been by some sudden visitation. ‘The Lord struck him, and he died.’
Nadab his son] We have only Abijah and Nadab mentioned of Jeroboam’s family, but perhaps we may infer from the language of 1 Kings 15:29, that these were not the whole of his children.
And Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty and one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the LORD did choose out of all the tribes of Israel, to put his name there. And his mother's name was Naamah an Ammonitess.21–24. The sinful reign of Rehoboam in Judah (2 Chronicles 12:13)
21. Rehoboam was forty and one years old] As Solomon’s reign lasted forty years (1 Kings 11:42), this son must have been born a year or more before his father came to the throne, and Solomon must have married this Ammonitish wife, Naamah, before Pharaoh’s daughter. The age of Rehoboam makes it strange that he should have been led by the counsels of young men rather than the elders, as we read in chap. 12, and appears to contradict the words of 2 Chronicles 13:7, where Rehoboam is described as ‘young and tender-hearted’ and not able to withstand the rebellion of Jeroboam. Hence the reading of a few MSS. in this passage, of 21 for 41 years, has been thought more probable, though it is not supported either by Josephus or by the narrative of Chronicles (2 Chronicles 12:13). May it not have been that the compilers used different documents and did not try to reconcile them?
the Lord did choose] R.V. ‘the Lord had chosen.’ The choice had been made long before.
his mother’s name] The high position and great influence of the queen-mother in Oriental courts accounts for the regular mention of the mother’s name in the history of each king’s reign. (See above on 1 Kings 11:19.) This Ammonitish princess must probably have been an idolatress, so that even in his father’s time, if the chronology of this verse be correct, the heart of Solomon went after strange women. The R.V. notes that the national designation of this princess has the article ‘the Ammonitess’, she was probably well known.
And Judah did evil in the sight of the LORD, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins which they had committed, above all that their fathers had done.22. did evil] R.V. did that which was evil. The Hebrew text is better represented by this fuller translation.
provoked him to jealousy] Jehovah had called himself a jealous God, when the Law was given on Sinai (Exodus 20:5).
which they had committed] The word ‘had’ is better omitted. The Hebrew has no power of marking such a pluperfect tense in verbal inflexions, and the context must be our guide to such a shade of meaning. Here it is not appropriate for the sins were still continuing. In the previous verse the English pluperfect appears preferable as a translation of the same Hebrew tense for the choice of God had been made long before the days of Rehoboam.
For they also built them high places, and images, and groves, on every high hill, and under every green tree.23. high places] We read constantly of ‘houses’ of the high places, and it is to these erections on some lofty hills that the ‘building’ here spoken of applies. See above, 1 Kings 12:31.
images] The R.V. renders by pillars, with ‘obelisks’ in the margin. And this appears more correct than A. V. There is nothing in the word itself to denote an image. The root signifies ‘to set up,’ and this noun is applied to the stones which Jacob set up (Genesis 28:18; Genesis 31:45; Genesis 35:14), and which Joshua set up (Joshua 4:9) when the people had passed over Jordan. Probably therefore the erections made in Judah were only large stones. The name is given also to the ‘obelisks’ which stood at the entrance of the Temple of the Sun in Heliopolis (Jeremiah 43:13).
and groves] R.V. Ashêrim. See above on 1 Kings 14:15.
And there were also sodomites in the land: and they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the LORD cast out before the children of Israel.24. which the Lord cast (R.V. drave) out] The change of R.V. brings the expression into harmony with nearly all the rest of the places where this verb occurs. The same alteration is needed in 1 Kings 21:26; 2 Kings 16:3; 2 Kings 17:8; 2 Kings 21:2, but has not been made in R.V.
And it came to pass in the fifth year of king Rehoboam, that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem:25–31. Shishak king of Egypt invades Judah. Death of Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 12:2-4; 2 Chronicles 12:9-16)
25. Shishak king of Egypt] See on 1 Kings 11:40. Shishak is there represented as giving a friendly reception to Jeroboam. It may have been at Jeroboam’s prompting that the invasion of Judah was undertaken by him within such a short time after Rehoboam’s accession. A monument of this king, the first of the 22nd dynasty, has been discovered at Karnak in Upper Egypt, recording his conquests and the names of certain towns which he had taken in Palestine.
And he took away the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king's house; he even took away all: and he took away all the shields of gold which Solomon had made.26. he even took away all] Instead of these words the LXX. gives: ‘and the golden shields which David took from the hands of the servants of Hadadezer king of Zobah and brought them to Jerusalem.’ On these captures of David see 2 Samuel 8:7.
On the shields of gold made by Solomon cf. 1 Kings 10:17. At the close of the verse the LXX. adds that Shishak ‘brought’ his booty ‘into Egypt.’
And king Rehoboam made in their stead brasen shields, and committed them unto the hands of the chief of the guard, which kept the door of the king's house.27. brasen shields] R.V. ‘shields of brass’ (or, rather, ‘bronze’) which is the form in 2 Chronicles 12:10, and which represents the original more precisely.
chief of the guard] The margin of A.V. gives Heb. runners. We see from this that the Cherethites (or Cretans) and Pelethites, of David and Solomon, had disappeared, and that Rehoboam had only native troops, and those much more meanly armed.
And it was so, when the king went into the house of the LORD, that the guard bare them, and brought them back into the guard chamber.28. And it was so, when] For ‘when’ the R.V. gives, as often as. The Hebrew word is not common. It occurs 1 Samuel 18:30; 2 Kings 4:8; in the latter place the A.V. gives ‘as oft as,’ and in the former the R.V., has changed ‘after’ into ‘as often as,’ with a great improvement to the sense.
Now the rest of the acts of Rehoboam, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all their days.30. all their days] R.V. continually: as the same words are rendered in a very similar passage about Saul and David in A.V. 1 Samuel 18:29.
And Rehoboam slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David. And his mother's name was Naamah an Ammonitess. And Abijam his son reigned in his stead.31. and his mother’s name—Ammonitess] These words, which are identical with the closing paragraph of 1 Kings 14:21 are omitted, by the LXX. (Vat.). Their occurrence twice so close together seems to shew that the compiler of 1 Kings was drawing from several sources, and that he copied 1 Kings 14:21-24 from one narrative just as they stood, and 1 Kings 14:25-31 from another, which both contained the same piece of information about Rehoboam’s mother. Here as in 1 Kings 14:21 we should render ‘the Ammonitess.’ In the long passage which the LXX. inserts after 1 Kings 14:24 of chap. 12. (see additional note thereon) she is called Ναανὰν θυγάτηρ Ἄνα υἱοῦ Ναὰς βασιλέως υἱῶν Ἀμμών. The king intended by these words is probably Hanun, the son of Nahash, of whom we hear something in 2 Samuel 10. If Hanun became reconciled to David after the events there related, the marriage of Solomon with his daughter might have been one item in their treaty of friendship. But the authority of the addition in the LXX. is not very great.
Abijam his son] Called in 2 Chronicles 12:16, and elsewhere, Abijah.