Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
3. THE KINGS OF THE KINGDOM OF JUDAH FROM REHOBOAM TO ZEDEKIAH.—CH. 10–36
a. REHOBOAM. THE PROPHET SHEMAIAH.—CH. 10–12
α. Revolt of the Ten Tribes from the House of David: 2 Chronicles 10:1–11:4
2 Chronicles 10:1.And Rehoboam went to Shechem: for to Shechem was all Israel come to 2make him king. And when Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard it, and he in Egypt, whither he had fled from the presence of Solomon the king, then Jeroboam returned out of Egypt. 3And they sent and called him: and Jeroboam and all Israel came; and they spake to Rehoboam, saying, 4Thy father made our yoke grievous: and now ease thou the grievous service of thy father, and his heavy yoke that he put upon us, and we will serve thee. 5And he said unto them, Yet three days hence return unto me: and the people departed.
6And King Rehoboam took counsel with the elders that stood before Solomon his father when he was living, saying, How do you advise me to return answer to this people. 7And they spake unto him, saying, If thou be kind to this people, and please them, and speak good words to them, they 8will serve thee all thy days. And he forsook the counsel of the old men which they gave, and took counsel of the young men that grew up with him, who stood before him. 9And he said unto them, What do ye advise, that we may return answer to this people, who have spoken to me, saying, Ease thou the yoke which thy father put upon us? 10And the young men that grew up with him spake unto him, saying, Thus shalt thou say unto the people that spake unto thee, saying, Thy father made our yoke heavy, but do thou ease our yoke: thus shalt thou say to them, My little finger is thicker than my 11father’s thighs. And now my father laid a heavy yoke upon you, but I will add to your yoke: my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.
12And Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam on the third day, as the king had spoken, saying, Come again to me on the third day. 13And the king answered them roughly: and King Rehoboam forsook the counsel of 14the old men. And he spake to them after the counsel of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy,1 but I will add thereto: my father 15chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions. And the king hearkened not to the people; for the cause was of God, that the Lord might accomplish His word, which He spake by Ahijah of Shiloh to Jeroboam 16the son of Nebat. And all Israel saw2 that the king hearkened not unto them: the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse; every man to your tents, O Israel: now look to thy house, David. And all Israel went to his tents. 17And the children of Israel that dwelt in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned 18over them. And King Rehoboam sent Hadoram,3 who was over the socage; and the sons of Israel stoned him with stones, that he died: and King 19Rehoboam hastened to get up into his chariot to flee to Jerusalem. And Israel revolted from the house of David unto this day.
2 Chronicles 11:1And Rehoboam came to Jerusalem, and assembled the house of Judah and Benjamin, a hundred and eighty thousand chosen warriors, to fight with 2Israel, to bring back the kingdom to Rehoboam. And the word of the LORD came to Shemaiah the man of God, saying, 3Speak unto Rehoboam son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all Israel in Judah and Benjamin, saying, 4Thus saith the LORD, Ye shall not go up, nor fight with your brethren: return every man to his house; for this thing is come from me: and they hearkened to the words of the Lord, and returned from going against Jeroboam.
β. Reign of Rehoboam: 2 Chronicles 11:5–12:16
5And Rehoboam dwelt in Jerusalem, and built cities for defence in Judah. 6, 7And he built Bethlehem, and Etam, and Tekoa. And Beth-zur, and Socho, 8and Adullam. And Gath, and Mareshah, and Ziph. 9And Adoraim, and Lachish, and Azekah. 10And Zorah, and Ajalon, and Hebron, which are in Judah and Benjamin, fenced cities. 11And he fortified the strongholds, and put captains in them, and stores of food, and oil, and wine. 12And in every several city shields and spears, and made them very strong: and he had Judah and Benjamin.
13And the priests and the Levites that were in all Israel resorted to him out of all their border. 14For 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. 15And he ordained him priests for the high places, and for the he-goats, and for the calves which he made. 16And after them, out of all the tribes of Israel, such as set their heart to seek the LORD God of Israel, came to Jerusalem to sacrifice to the 17LORD God of their fathers. And they strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and upheld Rehoboam son of Solomon three years; for they walked three years in the way of David and Solomon.
18And Rehoboam took him to wife Mahalath, daughter4 of Jerimoth son of 19David, and of Abihail5 daughter of Eliab son of Jesse. And she bare him sons: Jeush, and Shemariah, and Zaham. 20And after her he took Maachah daughter of Absalom, and she bare him Abijah, and Attai, and Ziza, and Shelomith. 21And Rehoboam loved Maachah the daughter of Absalom more than all his wives and concubines: for he took eighteen wives and sixty6 concubines; and begat twenty and eight sons, and sixty daughters. 22And Rehoboam made Abijah son of Maachah the chief, to be ruler over his brethren: for he thought to make him king. 23And he dealt wisely, and distributed of all his sons in all the countries of Judah and Benjamin, unto all fenced cities; and gave them victual in abundance: and he desired for them many wives.
2 Chronicles 12:1.And it came to pass, when Rehoboam had established the kingdom, and strengthened himself, he forsook the law of the LORD, and all Israel with him. 2And it came to pass in the fifth year of King Rehoboam, that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, because they had transgressed against the LORD. 3With twelve hundred chariots, and sixty thousand riders: and the people were without number that came with him out of Egypt; Lubites, Succites, and Cushites. 4And he took the fenced cities which pertained 5to Judah, and came to Jerusalem. And Shemaiah the prophet came to Rehoboam, and the princes of Judah that were gathered into Jerusalem before Shishak, and said unto them, Thus saith the LORD, Ye have forsaken 6me, and I also have forsaken you in the hand of Shishak. And the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves, and said, The Lord is righteous. 7And when the LORD saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the LORD came to Shemaiah, saying, They have humbled themselves; I will not destroy them, but I will soon grant them deliverance; and my wrath shall 8not be poured out upon Jerusalem by Shishak. But they shall be his servants: that they may know my service, and the service of the kingdoms of the lands.
9And Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, and took the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king’s house; he took the whole; and he took the shields of gold which Solomon had made. 10And instead of them King Rehoboam made shields of brass, and committed them into the hand of the captains of the runners, who kept the entrance of the king’s house. 11And when the king entered into the house of the LORD, the runners came and carried them, and brought them again into the chamber of the runners. 12And when he humbled himself, the anger of the LORD turned from him, and he would not destroy him altogether: and in Judah also there were good things.
13And King Rehoboam strengthened himself in Jerusalem, and reigned; for Rehoboam was forty and one years old when he became king, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the LORD had chosen to put His name there out of all the tribes of Israel: and his mother’s name was Naamah the Ammonitess. 14And he did evil; for he did not direct his heart to seek the LORD.
15And the acts of Rehoboam, first and last, are they not written in the words of Shemaiah the prophet, and of Iddo the seer for the register? and the wars of Rehoboam and Jeroboam were continual. 16And Rehoboam slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David: and Abijah reigned in his stead.
PRELIMINARY REMARK.—The Chronist presents only the first section of the history of Rehoboam, relating to the revolt of the ten tribes and the division of the kingdom, in exact, mostly literal, agreement with the account of the books of Kings (comp. 2 Chronicles 10:1–11:4 with 1 Kings 12:1–24). The proper history of his reign he treats with considerable enlargement, by the addition of several statements, wanting in the parallel text, concerning his building of forts, reception of the priests and Levites from the northern kingdom, and his family affairs (2 Chronicles 11:5–23). He also reports at length the history of the invasion of Shishak, and the subjection of Rehoboam, and records the words spoken by the prophet Shemaiah at the divine command (2 Chronicles 12:1–12; comp. 1 Kings 14:25–28). He refers even to the notes of this Shemaiah as his source for this enlarged account (2 Chronicles 12:15).
1. The Revolt of the Ten Tribes: 2 Chronicles 10; comp. the explanations of Bähr on 1 Kings 12 Here we have only to remark some deviations from the text of Kings.
2 Chronicles 10:2.And when Jeroboam . . . and he in Egypt. 1 Kings: “and he was yet in Egypt” (עוֹדֶנּוּ our narrator omits, because he had related nothing of Jeroboam’s flight from Solomon into Egypt; comp. 1 Kings 11:26–40).
2 Chronicles 10:5. Yet three days (wait). 1 Kings: “Go (לְכוּ) yet three days.”
2 Chronicles 10:14. On the reading אָנִי אַכְבִּיד deviating from 1 Kings, see the Crit. Note.
2 Chronicles 10:15. For the cause was of God, literally, “for it was a decree (turning) of God.” Both נְסִבָּה and its parallel סִבָּה in 1 Kings are ά̔παξ λ.
2 Chronicles 10:16. And all Israel saw. If רָאוּ were to be cast out of the text, according to most ancient testimonies (see Crit. Note), it must be translated: “and all Israel (or ‘as to all Israel’), when the king hearkened not unto them, the people answered.”—What portion have we in David? What have we to do with the house of David ? it may take care of itself. See again the fourth line of the strophically - arranged speech.
2 Chronicles 10:18. On the probable identity of the taskmaster (Luther: “receiver of rents”) Adoram, or, as our author writes, Hadoram, with the Adoniram of 1 Kings 4:6, see Bähr on 1 Kings 12:18.
2 Chronicles 10:19. Unto this day; comp. 1 Chron. 4:41, 43, 5:26, and the remarks in the Introd. § 5, I. p. 16.
2. Prevention of the War of Rehoboam with Jeroboam by the Prophet Shemaiah: 2 Chronicles 11:1–4. This incident also, that belongs to the history of the revolt of the ten tribes, is recorded by our author in substantial agreement with the author of 1 Kings; comp. 1 Kings 12:21–24, and Bähr on the passage. Only to 1 Kings 12:20 (Jeroboam is raised by the ten tribes, in solemn assembly, to the throne of the northern kingdom) no parallel is found in our text, because the Chronist sedulously avoids all particulars concerning the history of the kingdom of Israel.
2 Chronicles 11:3. Speak unto Rehoboam . . . and to all Israel in Judah and Benjamin. Observe the peculiar depth, almost New Testament (reminding us of Gal. 6:16; Rom. 2:29, 4:12) depth of the sense which our author here attaches to the name “Israel.” It is otherwise, certainly, 2 Chronicles 11:1, and again 2 Chronicles 11:16a, where he specially designates the northern kingdom by “Israel”; yet in 2 Chronicles 11:16 follows immediately after the name Israel, again in that evangelical, deeper, and more universal sense; so 2 Chronicles 12:1.
2 Chronicles 11:4. For this thing is come from me, I have decreed the revolt of the disloyal tribes as a punishment for the disobedience of the house of David; comp. 2 Chronicles 10:15. The there mentioned revelation by Ahijah the prophet of Jeroboam is here confirmed by Shemaiah the prophet of Rehoboam.—And returned from going against Jeroboam. For this 1 Kings 12:24 has: “and turned home, according to the word of the Lord,” a deviation arising perhaps from a mere omission in writing. Our text has probably the original; for the twofold mention of the word of Jehovah shortly after one another is somewhat drawling, leading us to suspect a corruption of the text.
3. Building of Forts by Rehoboam: 2 Chronicles 11:5–12 (without parallel in Kings).—And built cities for defence in Judah,לְמָצוֹר, “for a fort.” Judah is here the name, not of the tribe (2 Chronicles 11:10), but of the whole southern kingdom; for a part of the fifteen forts now to be named lay in Benjamin.
2 Chronicles 11:6. And he built Bethlehem and Etam. That Bethlehem was a fort, for which it was fitted by its tolerably high situation on a rocky eminence, we learn only from this passage. On the here mentioned Etam, as different from the more southern one in the tribe of Simeon, see on 2 Chronicles 4:32. Tobler (Dritte Wanderung, etc., p. 89) has again pointed out our Etam in the Ain Attân, a side glen south-west of Urtâs, or Artâs, the well-known starting-point of Solomon’s aqueduct for Jerusalem. For Tekoa, now Tekua, a hilltop covered with ruins, two hours south of Bethlehem, see the Expl. on Josh. 15:59 and on Amos 1:1.
2 Chronicles 11:7. For Beth-zur (now Beit-Sur, between Urtâs and Hebron), comp. Fay on Josh. 15:58; for Socho (now Shuweike, three and a half hours south-west of Jerusalem) and Adullam (perhaps = Dula, six miles east of Beit-jibrin), see the same on Josh. 15:35.
2 Chronicles 11:8. Gath (comp. 1 Chron. 18:1; 1 Kings 2:39); its situation is not yet exactly ascertained; it is perhaps near Ascalon, where is now found a Wady el Gat, north of the ruins of this city (K. Furrer, Wanderungen, etc., 1865, p. 133); according to others (for example, C. Schick) = the conical hill Tel Safieh in the Shephelah west of Ascalon.—Mareshah = the later Marissa (between Hebron and Philistia) and the present Marash, a ruin twenty-four minutes south of Beit-jibrin or Eleutheropolis; comp. Fay on Josh. 15:44; and for Ziph (on the hills of Judah, one and a quarter hour south-east of Hebron), comp. the same on Josh. 15:24, 55.
2 Chronicles 11:9. Adoraim = the Idumæan city ” Α δωρα, 1 Macc. 13:20, or Δωρά, Josephus, Antiq.xiii. 15. 4, now Dura, two and a half hours west of Hebron (Robinson, iii. 209).—Lachish = Um Lakish, on the road from Gaza to Hebron; comp. on Josh. 10:3, 15:39.—Azekah, according to 1 Sam. 17:1, Josh. 10:10, not far from Socho, but not yet fully ascertained.
2 Chronicles 11:10. And Zorah and Ajalon, both originally (Josh. 19:41) cities belonging to the tribe of Dan, which afterwards, on the migration of the Danites to North Palestine (Judg. 18:1), were probably occupied by the Benjamites, and thenceforth reckoned to the tribe of Benjamin. For the situation of Zorah, see on 1 Chron. 2:53; for Ajalon (now Jalo), the expositors on Josh. 10:12. These two Benjamite cities are perhaps the most northerly of the fifteen cities fortified by Rehoboam. All the others, including Hebron, which closes the list (formerly Kiriath-arba, now el-Khalil, the ancient patriarchal city), lie south or south-west of Jerusalem, in the middle or south of the tribe of Judah. It follows, perhaps, from this position of the line of forts on the south border of the kingdom of Judah, and thus in the main directed toward Egypt, that Rehoboam began to establish them after the invasion of Shishak (Keil). So far as the arrangement of our section follows a material rather than a chronological principle of division, nothing seems to stand in the way of this assumption; but it can scarcely be reconciled with 2 Chronicles 7:4; see on this passage.
2 Chronicles 11:11. And he fortified the strongholds, put them in a good state of defence by nominating captains (נְגִידִים), properly, “princes, leaders”), provisioning them and (2 Chronicles 11:12) arming them properly.—And he had Judah and Benjamin. This notice, forming the close of the statement concerning the measures of Rehoboam for the security of his kingdom, leads directly to the following section, which describes the Levitical and priestly followers of Rehoboam as flowing not merely from Judah and Benjamin, but from the whole kingdom.
4. Adhesion of the Levites out of all Israel to the Kingdom of Rehoboam: 2 Chronicles 11:13–17—as is to be expected, a notice peculiar to the Chronist, to which, however, the author of 1 Kings affords an indirect confirmation, in so far as he twice refers to the institution of a new non-Levitical priest-hood on the part of Jeroboam, 1 Kings 12:31, 13:33 f.—And the priests and the Levites that were in all Israel resorted to him, “placed themselves before him to receive his commands, placed themselves at his disposal;” comp. הִתְיַצֵּבJob 1:6, 2:1; Zech. 6:5.
2 Chronicles 11:14. For the Levites left their suburbs, their commons or pasture grounds מִגְרָשִׁים as in 2 Chronicles 6:40 ff., 13: 2; Num. 35:2–8).—For Jeroboam and his sons had cast them off from executing the priest’s office. See the fuller account of the erection of the impure worship of Jehovah with a new non-Levitical priesthood in the kingdom of Jeroboam, 1 Kings 12:26–31. By the sons of Jeroboam our passage naturally means his successors, none of whom rejected the impure worship which he had introduced. They were also in so far his sons in a spiritual sense, although, with the exception of his immediate successor Nadab, they belonged to other dynasties.
2 Chronicles 11:15. And he ordained him priests. This ויעמד לו וגו׳ continues the proof begun with the second כִּי in 2 Chronicles 11:14.—For the high places (in Dan and Bethel, 1 Kings12:), and the he-goats, etc., the idols of the form of he-goats, after the pattern of the Egyptian Pan, to whom, though not Jeroboam himself, yet his later successors, sinking into a still grosser idolatry, offered sacrifice; comp. Lev. 17:7, whence the term שְׂעִירִים is taken. The calves named in the third place are the representatives of Jehovah under the form of a calf, as Jeroboam (after the example of Aaron, Ex. 32) had made them, 1 Kings 12:28, and as they retained their places of worship during the whole period of the northern kingdom in Dan, Bethel, and perhaps elsewhere. According to this state of things, the “calves” should properly have been named before the “he-goats.” That the author makes no note of the gradual sinking into grosser idolatry in the development of the northern kingdom, is explained by his theocratic zealous abhorrence of idolatry in general, the various forms and steps of which appear to him all equally bad.
2 Chronicles 11:16. And after them … such as set their heart, etc. On נָתַן לֵב, comp. 1 Chron. 22:19. What is here related of the emigration of theocratic pious Israelites from the other tribes to Judah and Benjamin is repeated afterwards under Asa (2 Chronicles 15:9) and Hezekiah (30:11). That, moreover, the time during which the reign of Rehoboam gathered and attracted the true worshippers of Jehovah in other tribes amounted only to three years, and afterwards made way for an inclination to foreign and idolatrous customs (on which that accession of pious Israelites from the neighbouring kingdom ceased), is manifest from 2 Chronicles 11:17; comp. with 2 Chronicles 12:1 ff.
5. Domestic Affairs of Rehoboam: 2 Chronicles 11:18–23; again without parallel in the books of Kings, and wanting also in the Syr. version of Chronicles (which arises merely from an oversight).—Mahalath, daughter of Jerimoth. The name of the father-in-law of Rehoboam is wanting in the list of the sons of David (1 Chron. 3:1–8). יְרִימוֹת might possibly be corrupted from יְתְרְעָם, or be a by-form of this name; it is easier to suppose that he was one of the many sons of David by the concubines.—And of Abihail daughter of Eliab son of Jesse. As necessary as the supply of the wanting וְ before אֲבִיחַיִל (see Crit. Note) is the taking of this name as the genitive, thus (contrary to the Sept. and Vulg., which rather make her a second wife of Rehoboam) as the name of the mother of Mahalath. For—1. 2 Chronicles 11:19 shows that only one wife of Rehoboam, the mother of the three there named otherwise unknown sons, should be named; 2. Along with the obscure father of Mahalath we expect the name of her mother, who is more celebrated, because she descends from Eliab the brother of David; 3. A daughter of Eliab the eldest brother of David (1 Chron. 2:13; 1 Sam. 17:13) could scarcely have been a wife of Rehoboam the grandson of David; even as granddaughter of Eliab (comp. 2 Chronicles 11:20), Abihail suited better in age a son of David than a son and successor of Solomon.
2 Chronicles 11:20. And after her he took Maachah daughter of Absalom. This second wife of Rehoboam is perhaps to be regarded, not strictly as the daughter, but the granddaughter of Absalom, the daughter of Tamar, the only daughter, and perhaps only child, of this unlucky prince; comp. 2 Sam. 14:27, 18:18, and Josephus, Antiq.viii. 10. 1, as well as 2 Chronicles 13:2 of our book.—And she bare him Abijah. Only this first-born of Maachah, whose name, moreover, is constantly written Abijam (אֲבִיָּם) in 1 Kings, is more particularly known to us as the successor of Rehoboam; the three younger sons, Attai, Ziza, and Shelomith, do not occur elsewhere.
2 Chronicles 11:21. For he took eighteen wives (נשׂא, as in 2 Chronicles 13:21) and sixty concubines. On account of the number of daughters immediately after given as sixty, it is not improbable that Josephus, who tells only of thirty concubines, deserves the preference; comp. Crit. Note.
2 Chronicles 11:22. To be ruler among his brethren; to this explanatory apposition to לָרֹאשׁ is added the following כִּי לְהַמְלִיכוֹ, as a further determination of that which the king meant by Abijah’s elevation to be chief. On the breviloquence here, comp. Ew. § 351, c.
2 Chronicles 11:23. And he dealt wisely, and distributed of all his sons in all the countries of Judah and Benjamin; he showed his prudence as sovereign and as father by appointing his numerous sons as captains in the several forts of his kingdom, employing them usefully, and separating them from one another, to prevent any attempts at rebellion among them.—And he desired for them many wives, made many marriages between them and the daughters of the land, both to make them contented and to make firmer connections between his house and the inhabitants of the land. The desiring or asking (שָׁאַל) of wives for his sons became him as their father and natural guardian: the author will scarcely charge him with an immoral, pimp-like gratification of the lusts of his sons.
6. The Invasion of Shishak: 2 Chronicles 12:1–12; comp. the briefer narrative of 1 Kings 14:25–28.—And it came to pass, when Rehoboam had established the kingdom, and strengthened himself, literally, “at the time of the establishing” (כְּהָכִין, inf. act. with indefinite subject), and on the strengthening of him or it (כְּחֶזְקָתוֹ, from the nom. verbaleחֶזְקָה, strengthening; comp. 26:16; Dan. 11:2).—He forsook the law of the Lord (by a partial falling into idolatry; comp. 1 Kings 14:22 ff.), and all Israel with him, all the inhabitants of the southern kingdom, who are here, somewhat to their shame, designated Israelites; comp. 2 Chronicles 12:6 and 2 Chronicles 11:3.
2 Chronicles 12:2. And it came to pass in the fifth year of King Rehoboam, thus soon but not immediately after his apostasy from the Lord. Concerning Shishak (= Sheshonk, Sesonchis, the first king of the 22d dynasty of Manetho), and the relievo proceeding from him, celebrating the present campaign against the Jews, and victory over Rehoboam, that probably exhibits Rehoboam himself among his captives, see Thenius on 1 Kings 11:40, and Bähr on 1 Kings 14:25.
2 Chronicles 12:3. With twelve hundred chariots, and sixty thousand riders. In 1 Kings these data concerning the strength of the Egyptian army are wanting, though they are by no means incredible. Of the auxiliaries of Shishak, the Lubites (לוּבִים) are certainly those Egyptian Libyans (the Libyœgyptii of the ancients) who are also named with the Egyptians in 2 Chronicles 16:8, Nah. 3:9, Dan. 11:43, and from whom the Lehabim of the Mosaic table of nations are perhaps not different; comp. Knobel on Gen. 10:13. The Succites (סֻכִּיִּים) are, according to the Sept. and Vulg., troglodytœ, cavedwellers, to which the Hebrew etymon seems to point, dwellers in holes of the earth, probably of Ethiopian origin, and inhabiting the mountains of Eastern Egypt. The Cushites are probably inhabitants of Ethiopia proper, that is, Abyssinia, as they are also named, Nah. 3:9, as allies of Egypt (along with “Put” and “Lubim”).
2 Chronicles 12:4. And he took the fenced cities which pertained to Judah; comp. 2 Chronicles 11:5 ff. These may not yet have been very strong, or their works proved insufficient against the military force of Egypt; comp. on 2 Chronicles 11:10.
2 Chronicles 12:5–8. The Prophetic Mission of Shemaiah, and the consequent Submission of the Jews and Mitigation of their Punishment,—a section quite wanting in 1 Kings.—But I will soon grant them deliverance. בִּמְעָט, properly, “for a little,” that is, in, a short time, soon; comp. Ezra 9:8 (rightly Berth., Keil, etc., against Kamph., who translates: “a small deliverance”).—And my wrath shall not be poured out upon Jerusalem by Shishak. No judgment of full extirpation shall overtake the capital; comp. 34:25.—That they may know my service and the service of the kings of the lands; that they may experience what a difference there is between the government of the Lord in the theocracy of Israel, and the so much more oppressive rule of heathen kings.—On 2 Chronicles 12:9–11, comp. Bähr’s remarks on 1 Kings 14:26–28.
2 Chronicles 12:12. And when he humbled himself, literally, “and in his self-humiliation.” On the following elliptical phrase: וְלֹא לְהַשְׁחִית, “and not to destroy” (did Jehovah’s wrath turn itself), comp. the like breviloquence in 2 Chronicles 11:12, and the passage there quoted from Ew.—And in Judah also there were good things. This was a further motive to the Lord to restrain his wrath, in addition to the first motive, consisting in the repentance of Rehoboam.
7. Close of the History of Rehoboam: 2 Chronicles 12:13–16 (comp. 1 Kings 14:21, 22, 29–31).—And King Rehoboam strengthened himself; comp. 2 Chronicles 1:1, 13:21; concerning the following note of age, which it seems necessary to change into twenty-one years, comp. Bähr on 1 Kings 14:21.—Naamah the Ammonitess, the daughter of the Ammonite King Nahash (1 Chron. 19:1), according to a probable note of the Sept. after 1 Kings 12:24.
2 Chronicles 12:14. For he did not direct his heart. For this phrase, comp. 2 Chronicles 19:3, 30:19; Ezra 7:10.
2 Chronicles 12:15. Are they not written in the words of Shemaiah the prophet. On this quotation, and especially on the obscure phrase “for the register” (לְהְתְיַחֵשׂ), see Introd. § 5, II.—And the wars of Rehoboam and Jeroboam, their smaller dealings and disputes, in which their continued hostile disposition showed itself; see Bähr on 1 Kings 14:30.
EVANGELICAL AND MORAL REFLECTIONS ON CH. 10–12
1. In the reign of Rehoboam, as the Chronist represents it, is signalized above all the tendency to keep the kingly ideal of David and Solomon pure from the dark stains of untheocratic opinion and destructive apostasy into idolatry. Some time after the beginning of his reign, this corrupt influence comes out distinctly and clearly, accompanied with divine punishments as its evil effect (2 Chronicles 12:1 ff.), though in the first three years Rehoboam and his subjects “walked in the way of David and Solomon” (2 Chronicles 11:17). Yet in the first half of the section, the account of the secession of the ten tribes under Jeroboam, several expressions betray the acquaintance of the author with the fact that corruption had begun already under Solomon. The polygamy and idolatry of this glorious king, and the consequent divine corrections and threatenings of punishment, he had not mentioned in his representation of the history of Solomon (comp. the Evangelical and Ethical Reflections on 2 Chronicles 1–9.). But now in Rehoboam there is express reference to that which had been prophesied on account of those errors of Solomon by Ahijah the Shilonite against him, and in favour of Jeroboam (2 Chronicles 10:15; comp. 1 Kings 11:29–39). And this part of our author’s narrative indicates that his religious and moral fall had already been productive of many immediate evils in his kingdom, that his government had become latterly quite a misgovernment (comp. 1 Kings 11:14 ff.), by the mention of the repeated request of the dissatisfied people: “lighten the heavy yoke which thy father laid on us” (2 Chronicles 10:4, 9, 10; comp. 2 Chronicles 12:15), and by the report of the words of the ten tribes betraying an already deepseated dissatisfaction with the previous government; “What portion have we in David ? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse” (2 Chronicles 12:16). Thus, according to our author, the ideal time of David and Solomon closes with this, that it presents at last the germs of a growing and grasping corruption, while that which had to be recorded concerning it is first introduced in the section belonging to Rehoboam, and therefore chiefly in the form of an appendix to the already concluded history of Solomon. Indeed, to our author, the evangelical result of the reign of Solomon is simply that which is brought forward in 1 Kings 11. “Along with a great outgrowth of public prosperity, we observe a gangrene commencing, that gnaws unceasingly, and destroys the religion of the people, the condition of their salvation, and this salvation itself. It becomes manifest that the peace, which a merely human ruler can give, bears in itself the germ of decay, that it brings with it temptations, which a lesser anointed of the Lord (like David or Solomon) cannot give the power to withstand. The result of the whole brilliant period is a Kyrie Eleison and an: O that Thou wouldst rend the heavens and come down!” (Hengstenberg, Gesch. des Reiches Gottes unter dem Alten Bunde, ii. 2, 146 f.)
2. Thus the Chronist partly only places Rehoboam, with respect to the beginning of his reign, in an unfavourable contrast with the brilliant reign of his father Solomon. In a certain respect (particularly with regard to the tendency to tyrannical cruelty and domineering pride; see 2 Chronicles 10:10, 14) he puts them on a par, and makes the son only gradually different from the father, by descending a step lower. So with regard to the further course of Rehoboam’s reign. At first Rehoboam continues the effort of his father, if not to enlarge, at least to establish the kingdom (comp. 2 Chronicles 11:5–12 with 1:14 ff., 8:1–10, 9:25–28). But certainly his fortifications are of no avail to ward off the war-storm bursting on the country from Egypt, no more than his defiant threat of a warlike attack could have hindered the dismemberment of the kingdom that still held together under his father (comp. 10:15 ff., 11:1 ff.). He likewise applied himself during the first three years of his reign to the theocratically pure and correct principles of government which were followed by his father, if not to the last yet during the greater part of his reign, with so much blessing to himself and his people. He thereby makes Jerusalem and the southern kingdom for a time the refuge and gathering-place of the pious worshippers of the Lord of priestly and non-priestly descent from the whole kingdom, and, so to speak, effects the transfer of the tribe of Levi to his sway, so far only as those of them who were scattered among all the tribes can find a settlement in Judah and Benjamin. But this attractive power in the sense of forming and consolidating a theocracy (2 Chronicles 11:13–17) did not last long. After three years, he “forsook the law of the Lord, and all Israel with him” (2 Chronicles 12:1). What Solomon was able to do during at least two-thirds of his reign of forty years, to maintain the “hearing heart” and the true wisdom with which the Lord had endowed him, this Rehoboam was scarcely able to do during a sixth part of his reign of seventeen years. In this also he resembles his father; but he behaves much worse, and seems to surpass him in a bad sense. Hence he has to endure much greater shame and humiliation; for if the Lord had only to threaten Solomon thus: “I will humble the seed of David, but not for ever” (1 Kings 11:39), this prophetic threat pronounced by Ahijah is now fulfilled in bitter earnest on him and his people (2 Chronicles 12:2 ff.); and what the prophetic interpreter says in behalf of a right understanding of the misfortune that had befallen them (2 Chronicles 12:7, 8) is certainly not altogether comfortless, but at the same time not unconditionally promising. The punishment shall be mild, not of long endurance; but for a time its bitterness shall be required, that they may understand what it is to prefer the rule of a heathen king to the mild sway of God.
3. There is something peculiar in the position which the Chronist gives to the family history of Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:18–23). He tells of his eighteen wives and sixty (or, if the number is to be reduced according to Josephus, thirty) concubines with objective candour, without adding a judgment unfavourable to the moral character of the king. While he passes with significant silence over the extravagant polygamy of the latter years of Solomon, to spare the great and wise king, and even thereby indicates the un-theocratic and immoral character of an immoderate harem, he seems to find the married life of Rehoboam not more offensive than that of David, of whom he expressly named at least seven lawful wives, and mentioned besides the possession of an indefinite number of concubines, without expressing any disapprobation. The manner also in which Rehoboam procured for his sons many wives from the daughters of the land (2 Chronicles 11:23), he adduces merely as a proof of his prudent dealing, not in the tone of serious blame or moral disapprobation. He places this statement also before the account of his fall into idolatry, without noticing in the way of censure the manifest connection of the two things, the polygamy of himself and his sons, and his giving way to the worship of foreign gods. He almost appears, indeed, as afterwards in the case of Abijah’s fourteen wives and thirty-eight children (2 Chronicles 13:21), to have regarded the taking of many wives and begetting of numerous children as something laudable, serving to multiply and perpetuate the house of David. This manner of thinking is characteristic of the strict theocrats of the later times, that form the transition to the Pharisaic orthodoxy of the New Testament epoch (comp. Introd. § 6). Because the law does not directly forbid polygamy, he readily allows on this point an almost unlimited compliance with the lusts of the flesh, while he censures with strictness the as it were only theocratic error of which the same king becomes guilty by falling into idolatry in the fourth year of his reign, as he had before shown his abhorrence of that still greater idolatrous error of the king and subjects of the northern kingdom in the strongest, indeed almost hyperbolical, terms (2 Chronicles 11:15). We meet here the same rather externally orthodox than morally strict tendency, which our author discovers also in many other points. It is the ethically imperfect and crude, not yet evangelically consecrated and glorified, stage of the legal standpoint of the Old Testament, which is expressed in this lax position of the Chronist with regard to the custom of polygamy. New Testament statements, such as those relating to Moses’ regard to the hard-heartedness of the Jews, to the killing power of the letter of the law, to the shadowy and not essential character, to the weakness and impotence of the law (Matt. 19:8; 2 Cor. 3:6; Rom. 8:3; Col. 2:17; Heb. 10:1, etc.), first receive their full light and deeper meaning by a phenomenon like this (comp. also John 1:17; Gal. 2:16 ff., 3:10 ff., 4:3, 9 ff.).
For אָבִי הִכְבִּיד, “my father made heavy” (so also 1 Kings 12:14), the best MSS. and some old prints (1 Soncin., Complut.): אָנִי אַכְבִּיד, “I will make heavy” your yoke, and will now add to it. Nordi, Berth., etc., give the latter reading the preference.
 רָאוּ is certainly wanting in most MSS., in the old translations (Sept., Vulg, Chald., though not Syr. and Arab.), and in the older polyglots, but can scarcely be spared.
For הֲדֹרָם 1 Kings 12:18 presents אֲדֹרָם (comp. 2 Sam. 20:24). So also Sept. cod. Al. in our passage, whereas cod Vat. writes ’Αδωνιράμ (comp. 1 Kings 4:6), probably correct as to the fact; see Exeg. Expl.
With the Keri, which alters בֵּן into בַּת, agree several MSS., as well as the Sept. and Vulg. (in the Syr. version the passage 2 Chronicles 11:18–23 is altogether wanting).
The ו before אביחיל is certainly wanting in all copies of the Hebrew text, but was read by the Sept., and cannot be dispensed with.
All the MSS. and versions certainly testify to the number sixty; but internal grounds of probability speak for the number, given by Josephus, Antiq. viii. 10. 1, of only thirty concubines; comp. the Exeg. Expl.
And Rehoboam went to Shechem: for to Shechem were all Israel come to make him king.