Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
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.III. THE HISTORY OF THE KINGS OF JUDAH:EVENTS LEADING UP TO THE CAPTIVITY
1. Decline and Apostasy under Rehoboam, Abijah and Asa
CHAPTER 11 Rehoboam’s Reign
1. The forbidden war (2Chronicles 11:1-4)
2. The national defence (2Chronicles 11:5-12)
3. Jeroboam’s wickedness and Rehoboam’s strength (2Chronicles 11:13-17)
4. Rehoboam’s family (2Chronicles 11:18-23)
The provocation to go to war with the tribes which had revolted was great. Rehoboam was ready to start the civil war. He gathered 180,000 men of Judah and Benjamin to fight against Israel and to restore the tribes to his kingdom. Shemaiah, the man of God, the prophet in Judah, received a message from the LORD, which he faithfully delivered. “Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren; return every man to his house, for this thing is done of me.” It required courage to deliver such a message in the midst of the great preparations for war. Rehoboam and the people obeyed and did not go to war. They must have realized that if they disobeyed they would have fought against God. And the LORD also blessed the king and his people for believing the Word and being obedient. He always blesses when there is obedience. He built and fortified fifteen cities. “He fortified the strongholds, and put captains in them and store of victuals and of oil and wine.” In several places he put shields and spears. Thus he made ready for a possible invasion from the side of Egypt, for Jeroboam, his rival, had been there. Rehoboam’s fears were well founded, as we shall find in the next chapter.
Then there was a great exodus of priests and Levites from the domain of Jeroboam. As we learned from 1Kings 12:25-33, Jeroboam established a wicked worship, setting up two golden calves at Beth-el and Dan. The priests he made were taken, not from the sons of Levi, but from the lowest of the people (1Kings 12:31). The true priest and Levites who had remained with him were cast off from executing their holy and God-given office. He also had priests “for the devils.” The Hebrew word translated “devils” means “hairy ones” and “goats.” In Egypt the sacred goat was worshipped and Jeroboam’s worship was patterned. The priests and Levites who were driven away by Jeroboam strengthened the Kingdom of Judah. They had a wholesome influence upon the otherwise weak son of Solomon. “They made Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, strong.” They all walked in the way of David and Solomon for three years. Most likely fear had much to do with it. We read nothing of turning to the LORD and seeking His face.
His family record is given. Mahalath is mentioned as his wife, a daughter of Jerimoth, probably the son of one of David’s concubines (1Chronicles 3:9). Then he took Maacah, a granddaughter of Absalom. According to Josephus, Maacah’s mother was Tamar, the daughter of Absalom (2Samuel 14:27). He had many wives and concubines. The polygamous tendencies of his father and grandfather were thus indulged by him, and in all probability his apostasy started from this sin. But he acted wisely and dispersed all his children throughout the whole country. Having twenty-eight sons and many more daughters, there were great possibilities of conspiracies, which he avoided by scattering them in different directions.