Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
THE EGYPTIAN CONQUEST.
(a) SHISHAK’S INVASION OF JUDAH, AND THE PREACHING OF SHEMAIAH (2Chronicles 12:1-12).
The parallel in Kings is much briefer. (See 1Kings 14:25-28.)
And it came to pass, when Rehoboam had established the kingdom, and had strengthened himself, he forsook the law of the LORD, and all Israel with him.(1) When Rehoboam had established the kingdom.—Rather, when Rehoboam’s kingdom had been established. The construction is impersonal: when one had established Rehoboam’s kingdom. The narrative is resumed from 2Chronicles 11:17.
He forsook the law of the Lord—i.e., lapsed into idolatry. (See 1Kings 14:22-24, where the offence is more precisely described.)
All Israel.—The southern kingdom being regarded as the true Israel. (Comp. 2Chronicles 12:6.)
And it came to pass, that in the fifth year of king Rehoboam Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, because they had transgressed against the LORD,(2) And it came to pass.—See 1Kings 14:25, with which this verse literally coincides, except that the last clause, “because they had transgressed,” is added by the chronicler.
In the fifth year of king Rehoboam.—The order of events is thus given: For three years Rehoboam and his people continued faithful to the Lord (2Chronicles 11:17); in the fourth year they fell away; and in the fifth their apostacy was punished.
Shishak.—The Sesonchis of Manetho, and the sh-sh-nk of the hieroglyphs, was the first king of the 22nd dynasty. “His name,” says Ebers, “and those of his successors, Osorkon (Zerah) and Takelot, are Semitic, a fact which explains the Biblical notice that Solomon took a princess of this dynasty for his consort, and stood in close commercial relations with Egypt, as well as, on the other hand, that Hadad the Edomite received the sister of Tahpenes the queen to wife (1Kings 11:19). In the year 949 B.C. Shishak, at the instigation of Jeroboam, took the field against Rehoboam, besieged Jerusalem, captured it, and carried off a rich booty to Thebes. On a southern wall of the Temple of Karnak, all Palestinian towns which the Egyptians took in this expedition are enumerated” (Riehm’s Handwort. Bibl. Alterth., p. 333).
Because they had transgressed.—For they had been faithless to Jehovah. This is the chronicler’s own parenthetic explanation of the event, and expresses in one word his whole philosophy of Israelite history. Of course it is not meant that Shishak had any consciousness of the providential ground of his invasion of Judah.
With twelve hundred chariots, and threescore thousand horsemen: and the people were without number that came with him out of Egypt; the Lubims, the Sukkiims, and the Ethiopians.(3) With twelve hundred chariots.—The short account in Kings says nothing of the numbers or constituents of the invading host. The totals here assigned are probably round numbers founded on a rough estimate. The cavalry are exactly fifty times as many as the chariots. Thenius finds the numbers “not in credible.”
The Lubims, the Sukkiims, and the Ethi-opians.—Rather, Lybians, Sukkîyans, and Cushites (without the definite article). These were “the people”—i.e., the footmen. The Lybians and Cushites are mentioned together as auxiliaries of Egypt in Nahum 3:9. (Comp. 2Chronicles 16:8.) The Sukkîyans are unknown, but the LXX. and Vulg. render Troglodytes, or cave-dwellers, meaning, it would seem, the Ethiopian Troglodytes of the mountains on the western shore of the Arabian Gulf. (Comp. sukkô, “his lair,” Psalm 10:9.)
And he took the fenced cities which pertained to Judah, and came to Jerusalem.(4) He took the fenced cities.—Those very cities which Rehoboam had fortified as bulwarks against Egypt (2Chronicles 11:5-12). Fourteen names of cities have disappeared from the Karnak inscription, but Socho, Adoraim, and Ajalon, are still read there.
Came to (so far as to) Jerusalem.—Comp. Isaiah 36:1-2. The verse is not in Kings. Thenius (on 1Kings 14:26) says that the chronicler has here made use of “really historical notices.” It is self-evident.
Then came Shemaiah the prophet to Rehoboam, and to the princes of Judah, that were gathered together to Jerusalem because of Shishak, and said unto them, Thus saith the LORD, Ye have forsaken me, and therefore have I also left you in the hand of Shishak.(5) Then.—And.
Shemaiah the prophet.—The section relating to his mission and its results (2Chronicles 12:5-8) is peculiar to the chronicle.
The princes of Judah, that were gathered together to Jerusalem.—Repulsed by the Egyptian arms, they had fallen back upon Jerusalem, to defend the capital. While the invading host lay before the city, Shemaiah addressed the king and princes.
Ye have forsaken.—There is emphasis on the pronoun. Literally, Ye have forsaken me, and I also have forsaken you, in (into) the hand of Shishak. The phrase “to leave into the hand” of a foe occurs Nehemiah 9:28. (Comp. also 2Chronicles 15:2; 2Chronicles 24:20; and Deuteronomy 31:16-17.) Here the words amount to a menace of utter destruction. (Comp. Jonah 3:4.)
Whereupon the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves; and they said, The LORD is righteous.(6) Whereupon.—And.
And when the LORD saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the LORD came to Shemaiah, saying, They have humbled themselves; therefore I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance; and my wrath shall not be poured out upon Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak.(7) But I will grant them some deliverance.—Rather, and I will give them a few for a remnant. (Comp. 2Chronicles 12:12, “that he would not destroy him altogether.”) For the phrase “to give a remnant,” see Ezra 9:13. The word rendered “few” is kim‘at. (Comp. 1Chronicles 16:19 : Isaiah 1:9.) The pointing kim‘āt is peculiar to this passage.
My wrath shall not be poured out.—Or, pour itself out, wreak itself. The phrase denotes a judgment of extermination. (Comp. its use in 2Chronicles 34:25.)
By the hand of Shishak.—The destruction of Jerusalem was reserved for the hand of Nebuchadnezzar.
Nevertheless they shall be his servants; that they may know my service, and the service of the kingdoms of the countries.(8) Nevertheless they shall be.—For they shall become servants (i.e., tributaries) to him; scil., for a while.
That they may know (or, discern) my service, and the service of the kingdoms.—That they may learn by experience the difference between the easy yoke of their God, and the heavy burden of foreign tyranny, which was entailed upon them by deserting Him.
Kingdoms of the countries.—See 1Chronicles 29:30.
So Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, and took away the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king's house; he took all: he carried away also the shields of gold which Solomon had made.(9) So Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem.—The narrative is resumed after the parenthesis relating to Shemaiah by repeating the statement of 2Chronicles 12:2.
And took away the treasures of the house of the Lord.—See 1Kings 14:26, with which the rest of this verse is identical.
Instead of which king Rehoboam made shields of brass, and committed them to the hands of the chief of the guard, that kept the entrance of the king's house.(10) Instead of which king Rehoboam made.—See Note on 1Kings 14:27, with which this verse coincides.
Chief of the guard.—Literally, captains of the runners, or couriers.
And when the king entered into the house of the LORD, the guard came and fetched them, and brought them again into the guard chamber.(11) And when.—And as often as.
The guard came and fetched . . .—The runners came and bare them; and they (after the royal procession) restored them to the guard room of the runners. (See on 1Kings 14:28, which reads, “the runners used to bear them.”)
Solomon’s golden shields had been kept in “the house of the forest of Lebanon” (2Chronicles 9:16).
And when he humbled himself, the wrath of the LORD turned from him, that he would not destroy him altogether: and also in Judah things went well.(12) And when he humbled himself, the wrath of the Lord turned from him.—In fulfilment of the promise of 2Chronicles 12:7. This remark, the tone of which is in perfect accord with the chronicler’s conception of the real import of Shishak’s invasion, is wanting in Kings.
That he would not destroy him.—Literally, and not to destroy. The infinitive is used as in 2Chronicles 11:22.
Altogether.—Unto consumption, a phrase only found here and in Ezekiel 13:13.
Omit him. A general destruction of the country is meant.
And also in Judah things went well.—Moreover in Judah there were good things. Vulg., “siquidem et in Judah inventa sunt opera bona.” The fact that faithfulness to Jehovah was still to be found in Judah is alleged as an additional reason why the Lord spared the land. The same phrase, “good things,” recurs in a similar sense 2Chronicles 19:3.
So king Rehoboam strengthened himself in Jerusalem, and reigned: for Rehoboam was one and forty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the LORD had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, to put his name there. And his mother's name was Naamah an Ammonitess.(b) SUMMING UP OF THE REIGN (2Chronicles 12:13-16).
The Syriac and Arabic contain this section.
(13) So king Rehoboam strengthened himself.—After the withdrawal of Shishak. In other words, he regained strength after the crushing blow inflicted by the Egyptian invasion. (Comp. the same word in 2Chronicles 13:21; 2Chronicles 1:1.)
And reigned—i.e., reigned on for twelve years longer; for he reigned altogether seventeen years.
Rehoboam was one and forty . . . Naamah an Ammonitess.—Word for word as in 1Kings 14:21. (See the Notes there).
And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the LORD.(14) And he did evil.—Syriac adds “before the Lord.” The nature of his evil-doing is explained immediately: “for he directed not his heart to seek Jehovah.” This estimate of Rehoboam’s conduct seems to refer to the early years of his reign, which ended in the catastrophe of Shishak’s invasion. 1Kings 14:22, says, “And Judah did evil in the eyes of Jehovah “; and then goes on to tell of the acts of apostacy which brought that judgment upon the nation.
Concerning genealogies.—For registration (lehithyahēsh). On the authorities here named, see the Introduction. The important particulars about the reign which are not given in Kings, e.g., the fortification of the southern cities, the migration of the priests, and Rehoboam’s private relations, were probably drawn by the chronicler from these sources.
First and last.—The former and the latter. (See on, 2Chronicles 17:3.)
And there were wars.—And the wars of Rehoboam and Jeroboam [continued] all the days, i.e., throughout the reign. So 1Kings 14:30, “Now there had been war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all the days.” Reuss is wrong in regarding this as “a contradiction” of 2Chronicles 11:4. What Shemaiah forbade was a particular attempt to recover the obedience of the northern kingdom by force of arms. The permanent attitude of the rival kings could hardly be other than hostile, especially as Jeroboam appears to have instigated the Egyptian invasion of Judah; and this hostility must often have broken out into active injuries.
And Rehoboam slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David: and Abijah his son reigned in his stead.(16) And Rehoboam slept with his fathers.—Abridged from 1Kings 14:31, which see.
Abijah.—2Chronicles 11:22. Abijam, the spelling of Kings, is probably due to an accident of transcription.