Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
And Rehoboam went to Shechem: for all Israel were come to Shechem to make him king.III. THE DIVIDED KINGDOM
1. Rehoboam and the Revolt of the Ten Tribes
1. The revolt of the northern tribes (1Kings 12:1-20)
2. The threatening war averted (1Kings 12:21-24)
3. Jeroboam’s wicked schemes (1Kings 12:25-33)
Rehoboam (enlarger of the people) is the only son of Solomon mentioned in the Bible (1Chronicles 3:10). Ecclesiastes 2:18-19; Ecclesiastes 4:13-16 seem to give a hint that his father was fearful about his reign in his stead. In 2Chronicles 10:13 we find the history of Rehoboam more fully, which we follow in the annotations of that book. He was the son of the Ammonitess Naamah. During the first three years he was outwardly faithful, but after that he drifted like his father into idolatry and its moral evils (1Kings 14:23-24; 2Chronicles 11:13-17). He forsook the law of the Lord and the people followed him (2Chronicles 12:1). The polygamous tendency of his father and grandfather were also indulged by him (2Chronicles 11:21). Jeroboam who had fled into Egypt (11:40) was recalled and the history of the revolt follows. Jeroboam was made king over the ten tribes, while Rehoboam reigned over Judah. What took place was from the Lord “that He might perform His saying, which the LORD spake by Ahijah the Shilonite unto Jeroboam the son of Nebat” (12:15). The disruption of the kingdom had taken place. Up to the deportation of the ten tribes under Shalmaneser (722 B.C.) covers 253 years. During that time thirteen kings reigned over Judah and twenty over the ten tribes; there were also two periods of lawlessness. The apostasy of the ten-tribe kingdom was complete; none of their kings served the Lord. Under Ahab and his two sons Ahaziah and Joram the Baal worship became universal. It was different with the kings of Judah. A number of them were God-fearing (Asa, Jehoshaphat, Uzziah, Jotham, Hezekiah and Josiah). Others were wicked blasphemers as we shall see from their history. It is also noteworthy that the reign of the wicked kings was shorter than the reign of those who feared the Lord.
After the stoning of Adoram, Rehoboam’s collector, Rehoboam fled to Jerusalem and gathered an army from Judah and Benjamin to fight against Israel to bring back the kingdom to the son of Solomon. Shemaiah (heard of Jehovah), a man of God, brought the message from the Lord not to fight against Israel. They were obedient and the war was averted. Many Israelites, who were true to Jehovah, as well as all the priests and Levites remained in the Kingdom of Judah. (As failure had come in, prophecy at once reappears. Shemaiah must have been a very courageous man to stand in face of a gathered army of 180,000 men, an angry king and an angry people and declare a message which must have been decidedly unwelcome. And one cannot but admire the gracious submission of king and people.)
Jeroboam made Shechem his capital. He also built the ancient Penuel (the face of God, Genesis 32:30; Judges 8:8), but he did not meet the Lord there like Jacob. Then the step was done which precipitated idolatry. To protect his kingdom and keep the people back from the true worship of Jehovah, he placed, with the consent of the people, in Dan and Beth-el on the northern and southern boundaries of his kingdom, two calves of gold. Thus with an unspeakable blasphemy he said: “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem; behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” The lowest class of the people were chosen as priests. Then he also offered sacrifices unto the calves that he had made. All was devised of his own heart and God’s Word was completely set aside. It corresponds to the great apostasy of Romanism with its wicked, blasphemous rites.