1 Kings 11:30
And Ahijah caught the new garment that was on him, and rent it in twelve pieces:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(30) Rent it in twelve pieces.—The use of symbolical acts is frequent in subsequent prophecy (especially see Jeremiah 13:1; Jeremiah 19:1; Jeremiah 27:2; Ezekiel 4, 5, Ezekiel 12:1-7; Ezekiel 24:3; Ezekiel 24:15), often alternating with symbolical visions and symbolical parables or allegories. The object is, of course, to arrest attention, and call out the inquiry (Ezekiel 24:19): “Wilt thou not tell us what these things are to us?” Ahijah’s rending of his own new garment is used, like Saul’s rending of Samuel’s mantle (1Samuel 15:27-28), to symbolise the rending away of the kingdom. (See 1Kings 11:11-13.)

1 Kings 11:30-32. And rent it in twelve pieces — An emblem of what he was to acquaint him with; or rather a prediction of it. For there were two ways, in those ancient times, of foretelling future events; one in express words, the other by signs and resemblances, many instances of which we have often after this of Ahijah. And will give ten tribes to thee — Hence it is generally called, the kingdom of the ten tribes. But he shall have one tribe — Besides his own. Or Benjamin and Judah may, be looked upon as but one tribe, both of them having a share in the city of Jerusalem, and lying near one another.

11:26-40 In telling the reason why God rent the kingdom from the house of Solomon, Ahijah warned Jeroboam to take heed of sinning away his preferment. Yet the house of David must be supported; out of it the Messiah would arise. Solomon sought to kill his successor. Had not he taught others, that whatever devices are in men's hearts, the counsel of the Lord shall stand? Yet he himself thinks to defeat that counsel. Jeroboam withdrew into Egypt, and was content to live in exile and obscurity for awhile, being sure of a kingdom at last. Shall not we be content, who have a better kingdom in reserve?The first instance of the "acted parable." Generally this mode was adopted upon express divine command (see Jeremiah 13:1-11; Ezekiel 3:1-3). A connection may be traced between the type selected and the words of the announcement to Solomon (1 Kings 11:11-13. Compare 1 Samuel 15:26-28). 29. clad—rather, "wrapped up." The meaning is, "Ahijah, the Shilonite, the prophet, went and took a fit station in the way; and, in order that he might not be known, he wrapped himself up, so as closely to conceal himself, in a new garment, a surtout, which he afterwards tore in twelve pieces." Notwithstanding this privacy, the story, and the prediction connected with it [1Ki 11:30-39], probably reached the king's ears; and Jeroboam became a marked man [1Ki 11:40]. His aspiring ambition, impatient for the death of Solomon, led him to form plots and conspiracies, in consequence of which he was compelled to flee to Egypt. Though chosen of God, he would not wait the course of God's providence, and therefore incurred the penalty of death by his criminal rebellion. The heavy exactions and compulsory labor (1Ki 11:28) which Solomon latterly imposed upon his subjects, when his foreign resources began to fail, had prepared the greater part of the kingdom for a revolt under so popular a demagogue as Jeroboam. No text from Poole on this verse.

And Ahijah caught the new garment that was on him,.... This looks as if it was Jeroboam's garment, having got a new one to appear before the king in; though the sense may be this, that the prophet took hold of his own garment that was upon himself:

and rent it in twelve pieces; as symbolical of the twelve tribes of Israel.

And Ahijah caught the new garment that was on him, and {p} rent it in twelve pieces:

(p) By these visible signs the prophets would more deeply print their message into the hearts of those to whom they were sent.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
30. and Ahijah caught] R.V. laid hold of. The word is frequently used of the taking prisoners captive.

Verse 30. - And Ahijah caught [This English word almost implies that it was Jeroboam's garment (cf. Genesis 39:12); but the original simply means "laid hold of."] the new garment that was on him, and rent [same word as in vers. 11, 12, 13] it in twelve pieces. [The first instance of an "acted parable" (Rawlinson).] 1 Kings 11:30At that time the prophet Ahijah met him in the field and disclosed to him the word of the Lord, that he should become king over Israel. ההיא בּעת: at that time, viz., the time when Jeroboam had become overseer over the heavy works, and not after he had already stirred up the rebellion. For the whole of the account in 1 Kings 11:29-39 forms part of the explanation of בּמּלך יד הרים which commences with 1 Kings 11:27, so that ההיא בּעת ויהי is closely connected with אתו ויּפקד in 1 Kings 11:28, and there is no such gap in the history as is supposed by Thenius, who builds upon this opinion most untenable conjectures as to the intertwining of different sources. At that time, as Jeroboam was one day going out of Jerusalem, the prophet Ahijah of Shilo (Seilun) met him by the way (בּדּרך), with a new upper garment wrapped around him; and when they were alone, he rent the new garment, that is to say, his own, not Jeroboam's, as Ewald (Gesch. iii. p. 388) erroneously supposes, into twelve pieces, and said to Jeroboam, "Take thee ten pieces, for Jehovah saith, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and give thee ten tribes; and one tribe shall remain to him (Solomon) for David's sake," etc. The new שׂלמה wen ehT . was probably only a large four-cornered cloth, which was thrown over the shoulders like the Heik of the Arabs, and enveloped the whole of the upper portion of the body (see my bibl. Archol. ii. pp. 36, 37). By the tearing of the new garment into twelve pieces, of which Jeroboam was to take ten for himself, the prophetic announcement was symbolized in a very emphatic manner. This symbolical action made the promise a completed fact. "As the garment as torn in pieces and lay before the eyes of Jeroboam, so had the division of the kingdom already taken place in the counsel of God" (O. v. Gerlach). There was something significant also in the circumstance that it was a new garment, which is stated twice, and indicates the newness, i.e., the still young and vigorous condition, of the kingdom (Thenius).

In the word of God explaining the action it is striking that Jeroboam was to receive ten tribes, and the one tribe was to remain to Solomon (1 Kings 11:31, 1 Kings 11:32, 1 Kings 11:35, 1 Kings 11:36, as in 1 Kings 11:13). The nation consisted of twelve tribes, and Ahijah had torn his garment into twelve pieces, of which Jeroboam was to take ten; so that there were two remaining. It is evident at once from this, that the numbers are intended to be understood symbolically and not arithmetically. Ten as the number of completeness and totality is placed in contrast with one, to indicate that all Israel was to be torn away from the house of David, as is stated in 1 Kings 12:20, "they made Jeroboam king over all Israel," and only one single fragment was to be left to the house of Solomon out of divine compassion. This one tribe, however, is not Benjamin, the one tribe beside Judah, as Hupfeld (on Psalm 80), C. a Lap., Mich., and others suppose, but, according to the distinct statement in 1 Kings 12:20, "the tribe of Judah only." Nevertheless Benjamin belonged to Judah; for, according to 1 Kings 12:21, Rehoboam gathered together the whole house of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin to fight against the house of Israel (which had fallen away), and to bring the kingdom again to himself. And so also in 2 Chronicles 11:3 and 2 Chronicles 11:23 Judah and Benjamin are reckoned as belonging to the kingdom of Rehoboam. This distinct prominence given to Benjamin by the side of Judah overthrows the explanation suggested by Seb. Schmidt and others, namely, that the description of the portion left to Rehoboam as one tribe is to be explained from the fact that Judah and Benjamin, on the border of which Jerusalem was situated, were regarded in a certain sense as one, and that the little Benjamin was hardly taken into consideration at all by the side of the great Judah. For if Ahijah had regarded Benjamin as one with Judah, he would not have torn his garment into twelve pieces, inasmuch as if Benjamin was to be merged in Judah, or was not to be counted along with it as a distinct tribe, the whole nation could only be reckoned as eleven tribes. Moreover the twelve tribes did not so divide themselves, that Jeroboam really received ten tribes and Rehoboam only one or only two. In reality there were three tribes that fell to the kingdom of Judah, and only nine to the kingdom of Israel, Ephraim and Manasseh being reckoned as two tribes, since the tribe of Levi was not counted in the political classification. The kingdom of Judah included, beside the tribe of Judah, both the tribe of Benjamin and also the tribe of Simeon, the territory of which, according to Joshua 19:1-9, was within the tribe-territory of Judah and completely surrounded by it, so that the Simeonites would have been obliged to emigrate and give up their tribe-land altogether, if they desired to attach themselves to the kingdom of Israel. But it cannot be inferred from 2 Chronicles 15:9 and 2 Chronicles 34:6 that an emigration of the whole tribe had taken place (see also at 1 Kings 12:17). On the other hand, whilst the northern border of the tribe of Benjamin, with the cities of Bethel, Ramah, and Jericho, fell to the kingdom of Jeroboam (1 Kings 12:29; 1 Kings 15:17, 1 Kings 15:21; 1 Kings 16:34), several of the cities of the tribe of Dan were included in the kingdom of Judah, namely, Ziklag, which Achish had presented to David, and also Zorea and Ajalon (2 Chronicles 11:10; 2 Chronicles 28:18), in which Judah obtained compensation for the cities of Benjamin of which it had been deprived.

(Note: On the other hand, the fact that in Psalm 80:2 Benjamin is placed between Ephraim and Manasseh is no proof that it belonged to the kingdom of Israel; for can this be inferred from the fact that Benjamin, as the tribe to which Saul belonged, at the earlier split among the tribes took the side of those which were opposed to David, and that at a still later period a rebellion originated with Benjamin. For in Psalm 80:2 the exposition is disputed, and the jealousy of Benjamin towards Judah appears to have become extinct with the dying out of the royal house of Saul. Again, the explanation suggested by Oehler (Herzog's Cycl.) of the repeated statement that the house of David was to receive only one tribe, namely, that there was not a single whole tribe belonging to the southern kingdom beside Judah, is by no means satisfactory. For it cannot be proved that any portion of the tribe of Simeon ever belonged to the kingdom of Israel, although the number ten was not complete without it. And it cannot be inferred from 2 Chronicles 15:9 that Simeonites had settled outside their tribe-territory. And, as a rule, single families or households that may have emigrated cannot be taken into consideration as having any bearing upon the question before us, since, according to the very same passage of the Chronicles, many members of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh had emigrated to the kingdom of Judah.)

Consequently there only remained nine tribes for the northern kingdom. For וגו עבדּי למען see at 1 Kings 11:13. For 1 Kings 11:33 compare 1 Kings 11:4-8. The plurals עזבוּני, ישׁתּחווּ, and הלכוּ are not open to critical objection, but are used in accordance with the fact, since Solomon did not practise idolatry alone, but many in the nation forsook the Lord along with him. צדנין, with a Chaldaic ending (see Ges. 87, 1, a.). In 1 Kings 11:34-36 there follows a more precise explanation: Solomon himself is not to lose the kingdom, but to remain prince all his life, and his son is to retain one tribe; both out of regard to David (vid., 1 Kings 11:12, 1 Kings 11:13). אשׁתנּוּ נשׂיא כּי, "but I will set him for prince," inasmuch as leaving him upon the throne was not merely a divine permission, but a divine act. "That there may be a light to my servant David always before me in Jerusalem." This phrase, which is repeated in 1 Kings 15:4; 2 Kings 8:19; 2 Chronicles 21:7, is to be explained from 2 Samuel 21:17, where David's regal rule is called the light which God's grace had kindled for Israel, and affirms that David was never to want a successor upon the throne.

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