1 Kings 12:10
And the young men that were grown up with him spake unto him, saying, Thus shalt thou speak unto this people that spake unto thee, saying, Thy father made our yoke heavy, but make thou it lighter unto us; thus shalt thou say unto them, My little finger shall be thicker than my father's loins.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(10) Thus shalt thou speak.—The advice of the young men—the spoilt children of a magnificent and luxurious despotism, of which alone they had experience—is the language of the arrogant self-confidence, which mistakes obstinacy for vigour, and, blind to all signs of the times, supposes that what once was possible, and perhaps good for the national progress, must last for ever. It is couched in needlessly and absurdly offensive language; but it is, as all history shows—perhaps not least the history of our own Stuart dynasty—a not unfrequent policy in revolutionary times; holding that to yield in one point is to endanger the whole fabric of sovereign power; relying on the prestige of an authority proudly confident in itself; and trusting to cow by threats the classes long subject to despotic oppression, and despised accordingly by those who wield it. It can succeed only when the popular disaffection is superficial, or when a nation is wearied out with revolutionary fanaticism and failure.

1 Kings 12:10-11. My little finger shall be thicker, &c. — Or, rather, is thicker, and therefore stronger, and more able to crush you, if you proceed in these mutinous demands, than his loins — In which is the principal seat of strength. My father was young and weak, and had many enemies, when he first took the kingdom, but I am the undoubted heir, and I find the kingdom by his wise care, far better settled and fortified against all enemies, foreign or domestic, than he did. Or, they advise him, in these words, to threaten to lay burdens upon them as much heavier than his father’s, as the loins of a man are thicker than his little finger. I will add to your yoke — That is, I will make it heavier and stronger, both to punish your petulance, and to curb and restrain you from seditions attempts. My father chastised you with whips — Punished and made you smart when you transgressed his laws or resisted his authority; but I will chastise you with scorpions — With such whips as will sting you like scorpions. If you proceed in these courses, I will most severely punish you. What sort of instrument is here meant by scorpions, cannot now be perfectly determined; though some authors think that whips with rowels in them, or sharp thorns tied to them, are intended by the expression. Undoubtedly it was a scourge, called so from its cruelty.

12:1-15 The tribes complained not to Rehoboam of his father's idolatry, and revolt from God. That which was the greatest grievance, was none to them; so careless were they in matters of religion, if they might live at case, and pay no taxes. Factious spirits will never want something to complain of. And when we see the Scripture account of Solomon's reign; the peace, wealth, and prosperity Israel then enjoyed; we cannot doubt but that their charges were false, or far beyond the truth. Rehoboam answered the people according to the counsel of the young men. Never was man more blinded by pride, and desire of arbitrary power, than which nothing is more fatal. God's counsels were hereby fulfilled. He left Rehoboam to his own folly, and hid from his eyes the things which belonged to his peace, that the kingdom might be rent from him. God serves his own wise and righteous purposes by the imprudences and sins of men. Those that lose the kingdom of heaven, throw it away, as Rehoboam, by wilfulness and folly.My little finger ... - i. e., "You shall find my hand heavier on you than my father's - as much heavier as if my little finger were thicker than his loins." 5-8. he said … Depart yet for three days—It was prudent to take the people's demand into calm and deliberate consideration. Whether, had the advice of the sage and experienced counsellors been followed, any good result would have followed, it is impossible to say. It would at least have removed all pretext for the separation. [See on [312]2Ch 10:7.] But he preferred the counsel of his young companions (not in age, for they were all about forty-one, but inexperienced), who recommended prompt and decisive measures to quell the malcontents. Or rather, is thicker, and therefore stronger, and mere able to crush you, if you proceed in these mutinous demands,

than his loins, in which is the principal seat of strength. My father was young and weak, and had many enemies, when he first took the kingdom; but I am the undoubted heir; and I find the kingdom by his wise care far better settled and fortified against all enemies, foreign or domestic, than he did.

And the young men that were grown up with him, spake unto him, saying,.... Gave him the following advice:

thus shalt thou speak unto this people that spake unto thee, saying; as is said, 1 Kings 12:4.

thus shall thou say unto them, my little finger shall be thicker than my father's loins; or, "is thicker" (g) signifying that he had more strength and power than his father had, and that he would make them know it, and they should feel the weight of it, and instead of lessening he would increase their taxes; for also hereby was intimated, that his glory, grandeur, and magnificence, was greater than his father's, especially when he first came to the kingdom, and therefore required the same taxes, or greater, to support it; and perhaps reference may be had to the difference of their age, Solomon being a child, or a very young man, when he came to the throne; whereas Rehoboam was upwards of forty years of age, and capable of judging what was fit to be done, and not to be talked to and treated after this manner, nor to receive the kingdom upon a condition of the people's prescribing.

(g) "grossior est", V. L. Pagninus; "densior est", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.

And the young men that were grown up with him spake unto him, saying, Thus shalt thou speak unto this people that spake unto thee, saying, Thy father made our yoke heavy, but make thou it lighter unto us; thus shalt thou say unto them, My little finger shall be {d} thicker than my father's loins.

(d) I am much more able to keep you in subjection than my father was.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
10. my little finger shall be (R.V. is) thicker than my father’s loins] The italics of A.V. shew that the word ‘finger’ is explanatory, and not represented in the text. The LXX. gives ἡ μικρότης μου. There can however be no doubt that ‘my littleness’ is here correctly expounded by ‘my little finger,’ as the Vulgate, Josephus, the Syriac version and ancient Jewish commentators explain it.

Verse 10. - And the young men that were grown up with him spake unto him, saying, Thus shalt thou speak unto this people [There is a certain amount of contemptuousness in the expression (cf. St. John 7:49) ] that spake unto thee [The repetition, "speak, spake," is probably not undesigned. It suggests the idea of retaliation, or that it was a piece of presumption on their part to have spoken at all], saying, Thy father made our yoke heavy, but make thou it lighter unto us [lit., from upon us]; thus shalt thou say unto them [This iteration is expressive of determination and resentment. We may read between the lines, "I would make short work with them, and teach them a lesson they will not forget"], My little finger ["Finger" is not in the original, but the meaning is indisputable] shall be [or is, עָבָה, strictly, was thicker. The LXX. has simply παχυτέρα] thicker than my father's loins. [A figurative and perhaps proverbial expression. The sense is clear. "My hand shall be heavier than my father's, my force greater than his, my weakness even stronger than his strength." The counsel of the young men is full of flattery, which would be acceptable to a young king. 1 Kings 12:10But Rehoboam forsook this advice, and asked the younger ministers who had grown up with him. They advised him to overawe the people by harsh threats. "My little finger is stronger than my father's loins." קטי, from קטן, littleness, i.e., the little finger (for the form, see Ewald, 255, b.), - a figurative expression in the sense of, I possess much greater might than my father. "And now, my father laid a heavy yoke upon you, and I will still further add to your yoke (lay still more upon you): my father chastised you with whips, I will chastise you with scorpions." עקרבּים, scorpiones, are whips with barbed points like the point of a scorpion's sting.

(Note: The Rabbins give this explanation: virgae spinis instructae. Isidor. HisPal. Origg. v. c. 27, explains it in a similar manner: virga si est nodosa vel aculeata, scorpio vocatur. The Targ. and Syr., on the other hand, מרגגין, Syr. mārganā', i.e., the Greek μάραγνα, a whip. See the various explanations in Bochart, Hieroz. iii. p. 554f. ed. Ros.)

This advice was not only imprudent, "considering all the circumstances" (Seb. Schmidt), but it was unwise in itself, and could only accelerate the secession of the discontented. It was the language of a tyrant, and not of a ruler whom God had placed over His people. This is shown in 1 Kings 12:13, 1 Kings 12:14 : "The king answered the people harshly, and forsook the counsel of the old men," i.e., the counsellors who were rich in experience, and spoke according to the counsels of the young men, who flattered his ambition. It is very doubtful, indeed, whether the advice of the old men would have been followed by so favourable a result; it might probably have been so for the moment, but not for a permanency. For the king could not become the עגלים of the people, serve the people, without prejudicing the authority entrusted to him by God; though there is no doubt that if he had consented to such condescension, he would have deprived the discontented tribes of all pretext for rebellion, and not have shared in the sin of their secession.

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