1 Kings 11:31
And he said to Jeroboam, Take thee ten pieces: for thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(31, 39) Take thee ten pieces.—The message delivered by Ahijah first repeats exactly the former warning to Solomon (1Kings 11:9-13), marking, by the two reserved pieces of the garment, the duality of the “one tribe” reserved for the house of David; next, it conveys to Jeroboam a promise like that given to David (so far as it was a temporal promise), “to build thee a sure house, as I built for David,” on condition of the obedience which David, with all his weakness and sin, had shown, and from which Solomon, in spite of all his wisdom, had fallen away; and lastly, declares, in accordance with the famous declaration of 2Samuel 7:14-16, that sin in the house of David should bring with it severe chastisement, but not final rejection. In estimating the “sin of Jeroboam,” the existence of this promise of security and blessing to his kingdom must be always taken into consideration.

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. Take thee ten pieces; whence the kingdom of Israel is oft called the kingdom of the ten tribes; by which expression it may seem that David’s posterity should have one tribe reserved out of the kingdom of Israel besides that of Judah, which because of its greatness and eminency, is commonly distinguished from Israel, and that not only after the division of the two kingdoms, but even before it, as 1 Samuel 11:8 2 Samuel 5:5.

And he said to Jeroboam, take thee ten pieces,.... Of the twelve, an emblem of the ten tribes he was to have:

for thus saith the Lord God of Israel, behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon; that is, out of his family:

and will give ten tribes unto thee; to rule over.

And he said to Jeroboam, Take thee ten pieces: for thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
31. Take thee ten pieces] With this symbolical action of Ahijah may be compared the ‘horns of iron’ which Zedekiah made (1 Kings 22:11) to express most significantly the way in which he prophesied that Ahab should repulse the Syrians.

out of the hand of Solomon] i.e. Of his immediate successor, as is explained in 1 Kings 11:34.

Verse 31. - And he said to Jeroboam, Take thee ten pieces: for thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes [Keil insists that "ten" is here mentioned merely as the number of completeness; that, in fact, it is to be understood symbolically and not arithmetically. He further states that in point of fact the kingdom of Jeroboam only consisted of nine tribes, that of Simeon being practically surrounded by the territory of Judah, and so becoming incorporated in the southern kingdom. But surely, if that had been the idea in the prophet's mind, it would have been better expressed had he torn off one piece from the garment and given the rest, undivided, to Jeroboam (Bahr). And the reference to the number of the tribes is unmistakable. As to Simeon, we have no means of knowing what part that tribe, if it still existed, took at the division of the kingdom. See on 1 Kings 19:3. Its members had long been scattered (Genesis 49:7), and it gradually dwindled away, and has already disappeared from the history. But even if it had a corporate existence and did follow the lead of Judah, still that is not con. clusive on the question, for we know not only that the historian uses round numbers, but also that we are not to look for exact statements, as the next verse proves] to thee. 1 Kings 11:31At 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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