1 Kings 12:11
And now whereas my father did lade you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke: my father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) The scorpion is probably (like the Roman fiagellum) a whip, the lash of which is loaded with weights and sharp points.

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.Scorpions - By this word some understand whips having leaden balls at the ends of their lashes with hooks projecting from them; others the thorny stem of the eggplant, or "the scorpion plant." But it seems best to regard the expression as a figure of speech. 11. whips … scorpions—The latter [instruments], as contrasted with the former, are supposed to mean thongs thickly set with sharp iron points, used in the castigation of slaves. I will add to your yoke, i.e. make it heavier and stronger, both to punish your petulancy, and to curb and restrain you from seditious attempts.

With scorpions, i.e. with such whips as will sting you like scorpions: if you proceed in these courses, I will most severely punish you for it.

And now, whereas my father did lade you with a heavy yoke,.... Which was putting words into his mouth, owning the charge and accusation brought against his father, as he did, 1 Kings 12:14, which was very unbecoming, if true; unless this is said according to the sense of the people:

I will add to your yoke; make it heavier, lay more taxes on them:

my father hath chastised you with whips; which was putting a lie into his mouth, and which he uttered, 1 Kings 12:14 for no instance of severity exercised on the people in general can be given during the whole reign of Solomon:

but I will chastise you with scorpions; treat them more roughly, and with greater rigour: whips may mean smaller ones, these horse whips, as in the Targum; which gave an acute pain, like the sting of scorpions, or made a wound like one. Ben Gersom says, these were rods with thorns on them, which pierced and gave much pain. Weemse (h) thinks these are alluded to by thorns in the sides, Numbers 33:55, for whipping with them was about the sides, and not along the back. Abarbinel calls them iron thorns, rods that had iron prongs or rowels to them, which tore the flesh extremely. Isidore (i) says, a rod that is smooth is called a rod, but, if knotty and prickled, it is rightly called a scorpion, because it makes a wound in the body arched or crooked. Pliny (k) ascribes the invention of this sort of scorpions to the Cretians.

(h) Christian Synagogue, paragraph 6. diatrib. 2. p. 190. (i) Origin. l. 5. c. 27. p. 39. (k) Nat. Hist. l. 7. c. 56.

And now whereas my father did lade you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke: my father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
11. with whips] We have no record of such an act on the part of Solomon, and it may be the phrase is only metaphorical, to express a light degree of chastisement in comparison of what they might hereafter expect. But scourging men to urge them in compulsory labour is not unknown in despotic countries.

with scorpions] Most likely, if the words are to be taken literally, some sort of lash on which metal points were fixed so that each blow might wound like a scorpion’s sting.

Verse 11. - And now whereas my father did lade you with [or, lay upon you] a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke: my father chastised you with whips [It is probable that the expression is not entirely figurative. It is quite possible that the levies of Amorites, Hittites (1 Kings 9:20), etc., had been kept at their toils by the lash], but I will chastise you with scorpions. ["The very words have stings" (Hall). It is generally held that there is here "no allusion whatever to the animal, but to some instrument of scourging - unless, indeed, the expression is a mere figure" (Dict. Bib. 3. p. 1161). Perhaps it is safer to understand it as a figure of speech, although the scorpion, unlike the serpent, is little like, or adapted to use as, a lash. Probably it was in the pain the whip caused that the resemblance lay (Romans 9:5). All the commentators mention that the later Romans used a whip called a "scorpio," and cite Isidore (Orig. 5, 27) in proof. Gesenius, Keil, al. understand "whips with barbed points, like the point of a scorpion's sting;" the Rabbins, Virgae spinis instructae; others, the thorny stem of the eggplant, by some called the "scorpion plant." Compare our use of the word "cat." "The yoke and whips go together, and are the signs of labouring service (Ecclus. 30:26, or 33:27)" Bahr.] 1 Kings 12:11But 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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