Rehoboam/Jeroboam Legacy

In looking at Rehoboam and Jeroboam and the mess they left there are some things I have wondered about and then there are some “shadows” of their behavior that really are just scary. One thing that I will not find an answer for just because it does not appear to be there is the tribe of Simeon (see Simeon – Where Did They Go?). In Genesis 49:5 Jacob “scattered them” in Israel. When the land was divided by Joshua Simeon’s portion was in the middle of Judah’s territory. What happened when the Ten Tribes went to Jeroboam? They are mentioned twice after the split but before the exile of Samaria – 2 Chronicles 15:9 and 34:6. In 15:9 some have settled with Judah after seeing that the Lord was with them; King Asa has a covenant renewing party in the third month on the fifteenth day of his reign.   The 34:6 reference is to Simeon’s towns that Josiah removes idols from. It would seem they may have left their allotted portion and then just settled wherever they could but the Genesis 49 prophecy did come to pass.

Another thing I noticed was in Ezra and Nehemiah only Levites and families from Judah and Benjamin are mentioned. Some of the lists are for people from a town but they were towns from those two portions. Most all of the tribes are mentioned in Ezekiel and Revelations when the land is again handed out or they are sealed in the last days. (See List of Tribes)

Musing on these two things will show you the love of God and that He does expect obedience to Him and the Word He gave us. His love for the Northern and Southern kingdoms was rooted in Abraham (2 Kings 13:23) and He kept having mercy on both kingdoms. 2 Kings 17: 7 – 23 summarizes it all and should be a warning for all who claim God.

In Matthew and Luke, we find two family trees that are for the tribe of Judah leading to Jesus. Matthew’s tree is for Joseph and Mary’s is found in Luke and the common factors are David and Zerubbabel. Bathsheba is in David’s line because of Solomon and by extension in Mary’s line because of Nathan (1 Chronicles 3:5); Solomon started Rehoboam’s problems but sin and the world certainly took its toll on the King’s of Judah.

The chroniclers of the two kingdoms judged the kings with very interesting phrases. Judah’s kings were judged against David and if they followed his ways OR did they do “right in the eyes of the Lord” or did they “walk in the ways of the kings of Israel.” Israel’s measure was “they did not turn from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat” and if they did “evil in the eyes of the Lord.”

The wars and battles between the kings of the two kingdoms are another legacy that still shadows the people of God today. True peace between the two really was out of the question. Jeroboam made the separation a matter of religion, add in a lot of pride and top it off with the forbidden pagan deities and war had to follow. But in all of that, the North seemed to be used by God to bring Judah to repentance or punish her for disobedience. Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 18 + 19 seemed to have a relationship with Israel but 19:2 clearly states what God thought about working with the enemy (people who did love Him). Having said that I also noticed that Father God sent two of the great prophets to Israel in order to get them to repent: Elisha and Elijah.

The Books of Kings and Chronicles are snapshots of the lives of the leaders of the people of God. Many of them are not real pretty. Closing the Temple, killing his children, ordaining anyone with the right price to be a leader of your church are just some of the sins they did. The people’s reaction to all of this is also recorded and is a lesson in its self. At times they were forced to follow God and at other times they rejoiced to see their leaders acting, as they should.   It would seem that the people followed their leader both in doing good and doing bad. But as you read the prophets it is easy to see that they just finally were going to do their own thing. Jeremiah and the women who made cakes to the “queen of heaven” show the degree that most of the people had sunk too. So where was the remnant? God always has a remnant! Did they have to go with the others or were they directed to flee and find safety? Were they the poor ones left in the Land? We know there were people in both Israel and Judah who still thought about God: they took care of prophets, wrote letters, wanted to hear about God and His plan for them and their families. We know these survived because there is still a Jewish nation/people!

Several of the kings of Judah did follow God and some of the kings of Israel at least showed an interest in the things of God. King Saul and kings Jeroboam and Jehu were offered a dynasty if only they would obey the Lord and follow His plan but these kings turned and did what they wanted to do. David had problems but the difference is he believed God AND acted on the promise by staying true to the Lord. So while Solomon’s kids were having varying success as king and Jeroboam’s family was eliminated quickly Nathan’s family was living in Bethlehem not knowing that the Christ would come through them.

A sad fact in our world today is that we still have leaders like Rehoboam and Jeroboam running things today. They may have a small church or a big one that really is not the question; do they have a heart to follow Jesus, a concern for people, and a plan to reach out to them with the Gospel?

 

 

Rehoboam/Jeroboam – Reflections

Rehoboam/Jeroboam

Historical figures, types and shadows of the Church, part of the Story, or two kings who Start of King's Timelinehad 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.

The Places of Rehoboam and Jeroboam

The Places of Rehoboam and Jeroboam

Israel and Judah

Shechem – (see the post The Tribes of Israel and Shechem) Why or if Rehoboam choose this place for his coronation is not mentioned in Scriptures but its history links it to Jacob (Genesis 34). It is also important in the start of the nation with Joshua because this is where the “Blessings and Curses” were recited (Deuteronomy 27:12 and Joshua 8:30). Shechem was also a city of refuge where people could find sanctuary if they were accused of murder and had not yet been tried (Numbers 35:9). It was also in Manasseh so for Rehoboam to pick this city would have had major unifying step to start his reign. But his poor judgment in accepting bad advice divided the kingdom. This is where Judah was elevated over his three older brothers and where his descendent split the nation of Israel.

Peniel or Penuel– This is the second city that Jeroboam “built up” or fortified in 1 Kings 12:25. The name means “face of God” and it is first mentioned with Jacob and his wrestling matching with the angel (Genesis 32: 30). This is when he was renamed Israel and met his brother the next day. The landmark that is mentioned is the Jabbok River on the east side of the Jordan in the Land of Gad. The area is also part of the story of Gideon and the city was punished for not helping him in a time of need. The Reader’s Digest Atlas of the Bible adds a twist to the why this city question. It is near the King’s Highway trade route and they hypothesize it was to control the trade (money). It is also in the Valley of Succoth and is more or less in a line with Shechem so it would form the southern boundary of the new nation. I can’t help but think that Jeroboam son of Nebat was still making a connection to Israel’s past and identifying with Jacob thus furthering his gods of gold as legitimate.

Shiloh – The name means tranquil. It was the first meeting place for the Israelites (Joshua 18) and is where the Ark of the Covenant was housed before the Temple was built so it was the major place of worship (Judges 18 and 1 Samuel 1). The prophet Ahijah lived there and this is where the wife of Jeroboam came to seek answers about her sick son (1 Kings 14). But this place was rejected by God because of Israel’s unfaithfulness and was desolate by the time of Jeremiah (chapter 26).

Bethel – The name means House of God and this is the place where Jacob saw the staircase to Heaven and God spoke with him (Genesis 12). It was part of the circuit that Samuel traveled when he judged Israel (1 Samuel 7). Jeroboam probably picked this because of how close it was to Jerusalem, was in the land belonging to Benjamin, and the connection to Jacob. The sin was so bad that in the prophet Amos’ day Bethel was condemned. FYI – The problem started with the first Jeroboam and Amos’ prophecies came during the second Jeroboam’s reign, Jeroboam son of Jehoash (2 Kings 14: 21).

Dan – (see the post Dan) The city and the tribe was considered the northern most part of Israel. So the saying from Dan to Beersheba meant from the north to the south. This area started wrong and never stopped. From Joshua 19:47 we see that they did not take control of their inheritance but instead went to Laish or Leshem. They killed everyone and set up their own priest and ignored God’s order of priest (Judges18: 30). Their priests were from Moses’ family not from Aaron’s. Note – this really is what Jeroboam son of Nebat did maybe that is why Dan is “lost” on so many of the Family List, they simply rejected what God had for them and did things their own way.

Egypt – The land of false gods and slavery, an enemy that did not quit until Babylon destroyed them. Yet almost without exception (Jonah is the only one I can think of) Israelites run back to Egypt. I know it is a spiritual picture of what not to do and of the sin we are to leave behind us. Jeroboam is a good example; Shishak gave him a place to hide but history indicates that when he invade Judah he kept going and subjected the Northern Kingdom also. The lesson here is RUN TO GOD NOT YOUR PAST.

Jerusalem/City of David – This is a name-dropper situation. Saying the City of David just made everything “look” better.

Built-up towns -2 Chronicles 11:6 -10.   Reader’s Digest Atlas of the Bible helps make sense of why these towns were picked by Rehoboam. This blocked the mountain passes from the south (Egypt) and set a defensive perimeter to the east and west of Judah. Looking at these marked off on a map this was a well thought out course of action the only place really not defended was to the north.

Map from:  http://www.bible-history.com/maps/israel_judah_kings.html 

Rehoboam

Rehoboam has had a lot of adjectives used to describe him and most of them are negative. This early case of affluenza (can’t believe I used that word) however is a clear case of genetics and learned behaviors. His legendary bad judgment is detailed in 1 Kings 12 and 2 Chronicles 10. He did listen to the man of God in 1 Kings 12:22 and so the word against Solomon in chapter 11 was accomplished. In 2 Chronicles 12: 12 – 14 the greatness of the Lord and His love for His people and the base problem of Rehoboam are shown. His heart was “not set” on seeking God but the Lord still saw some good in Judah, as shown by Rehoboam humbling himself. So the confusion created by Solomon is seen in his son – the Lord and other gods.

Kings – God Warned Them

Deuteronomy 17: 14-20 is God’s warning to the Israelites about kings and what they will do to their kingdoms. 1 Samuel 8 the warning is repeated and expanded as the people reject God’s rule and want to be like the world around them. Solomon did a good job in breaking most of the rules and Rehoboam just followed what his father modeled for him. If David did not break them he was stepping real close to the “line.” It is not recorded if any of the kings ever wrote their own copy of the law as it is written in Deuteronomy 17: 18.

“My little finger is thicker than my father’s wrist.” You wonder how many times Rehoboam rethought that statement? But that attitude took over forty years to develop and the apparent change started in Solomon’s rule. 1 Kings 4:20 and 9:22 paint a picture of valued countrymen living happily under the “early Solomon.” So you wonder what happened to get the complaint in 1 Kings 12:4 of a “heavy yoke” with “harsh labor.” The “rights” of the king warned about apparently had crept in and found a home in the family of Solomon. An example of worldly influence and affluenza (used it again) is seen in the gold shields of Solomon. The officer’s of Hadadezer of Damascus had gold shields that David took after conquering him (2 Samuel 8:7). We don’t know if David ever had his officers use them or had them made for his men. 1 Kings 10:16 details the practice carrying on under Solomon and the amount of gold used and where they were kept. It must have been a show when He went anywhere with his men sparking in the daylight with those expensive mirrors. Rehoboam also used them until Shishak of Egypt took them in 1 Kings 14:25. However not to stop the show he had bronze shields made in there place.

Genetics – Physical and Spiritual

“He acted wisely” (2 Chronicles 11:22) does herald the wisdom of Solomon that Rehoboam used when it came to his children and how he built up Judah. Rehoboam had the ability to be a good king and displayed it at times. Judah and Benjamin did thrive under his rule as shown by the increase in fighting men during his seventeen years as king; in 2 Chronicles 11:1 there were 180,000 men as compared to 400,000 when his son Abijah confronted Jeroboam in 13:3.

Spiritually God was still honoring David during Rehoboam’s life. Rehoboam did listen to Shemaiah and he apparently kept the burnt offerings and the Aaronic priesthood intact and working so as to honor God (2 Chronicles 13:10). Jeroboam’s treatment of the priests and Levites did exactly what he did not want to happen, Rehoboam was strengthened. In 11:17 it says this happened for three years but by the fifth year of Rehoboam’s reign he felt comfortable to go the way of Solomon and bring in all kinds of evil into Judah (1 Kings 14:22). God allowed Shishak king of Egypt (Sheshonk I, Shoshenq I, Susac, or Shishaq frequently found spellings) to conquer Judah and some of the literature suggest that he subdued Northern Israel and Jeroboam also (so much for fleeing to Egypt). 2 Chronicles 12 explains all of this and the leaders realized they were wrong and God was just in what happened.

Rehoboam seemed to be keeping the pattern of behavior that was started in Judges: prosper while honoring God, forget God and suffer, honor God again.

Rehoboam, David, and Politics

The study of Rehoboam has gone places I could not have seen when I started. Rehoboam and His Mom pushed this study back to David and his relations with the countries around Israel. I think it would be fair to say that David’s foreign policies were complicated. In 1 Samuel 22 David, the outlaw hides his parents with the king of Moab. Yet in 2 Samuel 8 Moab is defeated and David took care of business. In 8:12 a list of peoples he subdued is listed and the Ammonites are among them. In 2 Samuel 10: 2 David was going to “show kindness” to the Ammonites because Nahash their king had always been kind to him. The new King insults the delegation so Joab and the army is sent to settle the matter. This is the time period when David has Uriah the Hittite killed (by the Ammonites) and takes Bathsheba as a wife. It is ironic that Solomon is married to Naamah an Ammonite. David took care of problems not grudges. Jewish tradition holds Naamah was Nahash’s granddaughter. There is also a tradition that says Moabite and Ammonite women were not the problem in Deuteronomy 23:3 only the men that is why Ruth and Naamah could be included in David’s family tree. The story goes that it came as a revelation from Samuel the prophet (Jewish Encyclopedia). (See Rehoboam and Ammonites)

David had problems. Surrounding countries were attacking Israel, the Ziphites and others would have handed him over to King Saul, and he had to go hide with the enemy that did not trust him. His handling of Amnon and Tamar, Absalom, and Adonijah could also be labeled as bad but in one thing he stands out – he is known as a man after God’s heart.

So how would David be treated today?     Palace Picketed or Helped