Historical figures, types and shadows of the Church, part of the Story, or two kings who had problems; these and more could apply to the men found in 1 Kings 11:26 – 1 Kings 15:10. The story of Rehoboam as David’s descendant and king of Judah is found in 2 Chronicles 9:29 – 2 Chronicles 14:1. The reason these two are worded the same in many places is because they were taken from a common source (what ever it was) but written for different audiences. Possible sources may be from the pens of people involved in the story such as Iddo the Seer or even the chronicles of the kingdom.
As a writer it was fun to image the conflicts and possible twist that could make this story a bestseller. The probability that they knew and worked together during Solomon’s lifetime may have set the stage for a lot of what happened in the story. When Rehoboam saw the fugitive, Jeroboam, at his inauguration it might have tipped the scale to his bad decision and been some of the fuel for the continual warfare.
Their names are very similar in meaning: Rehoboam is “the people will/have enlarge or expand”; Jeroboam “the people will contend or increase.” In the Book of Kings there are two Jeroboams, both are bad and not related. (see Bethel in The Places of Rehoboam and Jeroboam) Both of these men have a son named Abijah or worshipper of Jah. Jeroboam’s died and had a decent burial because God found something good in him; Rehoboam’s son became king of Judah and confronted Jeroboam in battle. (That may have fed the warfare also.)
Getting advice on something is normally good but these two clearly are in their own league. Rehoboam sought counsel on how to answer the people and did what he wanted to do while Jeroboam apparently never listened to the prophet about doing the right thing in the eyes of the Lord.
Josephus in his writings The Antiquities of the Jews in Book Eight chapters 8, 9, and 10 tell the story of these two men. Most of it is just a retelling of what is found in the Bible but Chapter Nine was about the “man of God from Judah.” Josephus identifies him as Jadon The Prophet and adds some interesting plot twist to the Biblical story. The “old prophet” is portrayed as a very wicked man who may have helped Jeroboam in the evil he did by “killing/lying to” Jadon and then discrediting what he had said to Jeroboam. If you are studying this time period it maybe worth the effort to read it; if nothing else it would liven up the story.
These are links to the blogs in the series.