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Bible Commentaries

Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

1 Kings 14

Verse 1

At that time - The phrase here connects the narrative which follows with Jeroboam’s persistence in his evil courses. The event related is the first judgment upon him for his obduracy, the beginning of the cutting off of his house from the face of the earth.

Abijah - We see by this name that Jeroboam did not intend to desert the worship of Yahweh, since its signification is “Yahweh is my father,” or “Yahweh is my desire” Job 34:36.

Verse 2

Disguise thyself - Jeroboam fears that even Ahijah the Shilonite, who in some sort made him king, will scarcely give his queen a favorable answer. The king’s conscience tells him that he has not performed the conditions on which he was promised “a sure house” 1 Kings 11:38.

Verse 3

See the marginal reference The presents here were selected for the purpose of deception, being such as a poor country person would have been likely to bring. Jeroboam counted also on Ahijah’s blindness 1 Kings 14:4 as favoring his plan of deception (compare Genesis 27:1, Genesis 27:22).

Cracknels - See the margin. The Hebrew word is thought to mean a kind of cake which crumbled easily.

Verse 5

Feign herself to be another woman - literally, “she shall make herself strange,” i. e., “she shall come in disguised.” So 1 Kings 14:6.

Verse 6

For I am sent to thee - Rather, “I also am sent to thee.” As thou hast a message to me from thy husband, so have I a message to thee from the Lord.

Verse 7

As Jeroboam’s appointment to the kingdom had been formally announced to him by the prophet Ahijah, so the same prophet is commissioned to acquaint him with his forfeiture of it. Compare 1 Samuel 15:26-28.

Verse 9

Above all that were before thee - i. e., above all previous rulers of the people, whether Judges or kings. Hereto none of the rulers of Israel had set up the idolatrous worship of ephod, teraphim, and the like Judges 18:17, as a substitute for the true religion, or sought to impose an idolatrous system on the nation. Gideon’s ephod “became a snare” contrary to his intention Judges 8:27. Solomon’s high places were private - built for the use of his wives, and not designed to attract the people. Jeroboam was the first ruler who set himself to turn the Israelites away from the true worship, and established a poor counterfeit of it, which he strove to make, and succeeded in making, the religion of the great mass of his subjects.

And hast cast me behind thy back - A very strong and very rare expression, occurring again only in Ezekiel 23:35; where it is said of the Jews generally, shortly before the captivity. The expressions in the marginal references are similar but less fearful.

Verse 10

All the males of the family of Jeroboam were put to death by Baasha 1 Kings 15:28-29. The phrase “will cut off,” etc., appears to have been a common expression among the Jews from the time of David 1 Samuel 25:22 to that of Jehu 2 Kings 9:8, but scarcely either before or after. We may suspect that, where the author of Kings uses it, he found it in the documents which he consulted.

Him that is shut up and left in Israel - See the marginal reference note.

And will take away the remnant ... - The idea is, that the whole family is to be cleared away at once, as men clear away ordure or any vile refuse.

Verse 11

The dogs are the chief scavengers of Oriental cities (compare Psalms 59:6, Psalms 59:14). And the vulture is the chief scavenger in the country districts, assisted sometimes by kites and crows (see Job 39:27-30, where the vulture, not the eagle, is intended). Vultures are very abundant in Palestine.

Verse 13

The child was evidently a prince of some promise. It is probable that he was heir to the throne.

Verse 14

The Hebrew text of this verse appears to be defective in this place. No satisfactory sense can be obtained from it. The true meaning of the original passage is possibly: “Yahweh shall raise up a king who will destroy the house of Jeroboam on the day that he is raised up. What do I say? He will destroy it even now.”

Verse 15

The general prophecy of Moses Deuteronomy 29:28, that the disobedient Israelites would be rooted up out of their land, and cast into another land, is here for the first time repeated, and is definitively applied to the ten tribes, which are to be removed “beyond the river” (the Euphrates, 1 Kings 4:21, 1 Kings 4:24), and “scattered.” On the fulfillment of this prophecy, and especially on the “scattering” of the ten tribes, see 2 Kings 17:6 note.

Groves - See Exodus 34:13 note. The grove or, “asherah”-) worship, adopted from the Canaanite nations, appears to have died away after the fierce onslaught which Gideon made upon it Judges 6:25-31. It now revived, and became one of the most popular of the idolatries both in Israel and Judah (1 Kings 14:23, and compare the marginal references).

Verse 17

Jeroboam had by this time removed from Shechem, and established a new capital in Tirzah, one of the old Canaanite towns Joshua 12:24 - a town of great reputation for beauty, counted in that respect on a par with Jerusalem Song of Solomon 6:4. Tirzah is perhaps to be identified with “Telluzah,” a place in the mountains about 9 miles distant from Shechem (Nablous) (or with Teiasir - Conder). It may have been the palatial residence of the kings rather than the actual capital of the country. It remained the capital until Omri built Samaria 1 Kings 16:23-24. Toward the close of the kingdom it appears again as the city of Menahem, who murdered Shallum and succeeded him 2 Kings 15:14.

The threshold of the door - literally,” the threshold of the house.” Compare the prophecy 1 Kings 14:12. The child actually died as she crossed the threshold of the palace. Probably the palace, like that of Sargon at Khorsabad, lay at the outer edge of the town.

Verse 19

The wars of Jeroboam may be divided into:

(1) his wars with Rehoboam (see 1 Kings 14:25, 1 Kings 14:30); and

(2) his war with Abijam (see the marginal reference).

The book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel - (of Judah, 1 Kings 14:29). See the Introduction.

Verse 21

On the age of Rehoboam at his accession, see 1 Kings 12:8 note. The 17 years of his reign must have been complete, or a little more than complete, if Abijam ascended the throne in the “eighteenth” year of Jeroboam 1 Kings 15:1.

Verse 22

This defection of Judah did not take place until Rehoboam’s fourth year (marginal reference).

They provoked him to jealousy - Compare Exodus 20:5; and on the force of the metaphor involved in the word, see Exodus 34:15 note.

Verse 23

The words “they also” are emphatic. Not only did the Israelites make themselves high places 1Ki 12:31; 1 Kings 13:32, but the people of Judah also. The “high places,” which are said to have been “built,” were probably small shrines or tabernacles hung with bright-colored tapestry Ezekiel 16:16, like the “sacred tent” of the Carthaginians.

The “images” were rather “pillars” (Genesis 28:18 note).

Groves - See 1 Kings 14:15, note. The “groves,” it will be observed, were “built” on high hills and “under green trees.”

Under every green tree - i. e., under all those remarkable trees which, standing singly about the land, were landmarks to their respective neighborhoods, and places of resort to travelers, who gladly rested under their shade Deuteronomy 12:2.

Verse 24

Sodomites - literally, ” (men) consecrated.” The men in question were in fact “consecrated” to the mother of the gods, the famous “Dea Syra,” whose priests, or rather devotees, they were considered to be. The nature of the ancient idolatries is best understood by recollecting that persons of this degraded class practiced their abominable trade under a religious sanction.

Verse 25

The examination of the famous inscription of Shishak at Karnak has resulted in the proof that the expedition commemorated was directed against Palestine, and has further thrown a good deal of light on the relations of the two kingdoms at the period. Of the fifteen fenced cities fortified by Rehoboam in the early part of his reign 2 Chronicles 11:5-12, three, Shoco, Adoraim, and Aijalon are distinctly mentioned among Shishak’s conquests. Other towns of Judah or Benjamin also occur. Further, a considerable number of the captured cities are in the territory of Jeroboam: these cities “are either Canaanite or Levitical.” Hence, we gather, that, during the four years which immediately followed the separation of the kingdoms, Rehoboam retained a powerful hold on the dominions of his rival, many Canaanite and Levitical towns acknowledging his sovereignty, and maintaining themselves against Jeroboam, who probably called in Shishak mainly to assist him in compelling these cities to submission. The campaign was completely successful.

Verse 26

The circumstances of Shishak’s invasion, related here with extreme brevity, are given with some fulness by the author of Chronicles (marginal reference). It is still a question whether the submission of the Jewish king is or is not expressly recorded in the Karnak inscription. Midway in the list of cities and tribes occurs the entry “YUDeH-MALK” which it has been proposed to translate “Judah, king.” Others regard it as the name of a Palestinian town not otherwise known to us.

Verse 28

It appears from this verse that Rehoboam, notwithstanding that he encouraged, and perhaps secretly practiced, idolatry (1 Kings 14:22-24, compare 1Ki 15:3, 1 Kings 15:12; 2 Chronicles 12:1), maintained a public profession of faith in Yahweh, and attended in state the temple services. Compare the conduct of Solomon, 1 Kings 9:25.

Verse 31

Slept with his fathers and was buried ... - Compare 1 Kings 11:43. The expression is a sort of formula, and is used with respect to all the kings of Judah, except two or three. The writer probably regards the fact, which he records so carefully, as a continuation of God’s mercy to David.

His mother’s name ... - The mention of the queen-mother so regularly in the account of the kings of Judah is thought to indicate that she had an important position in the state. There are, however, only two instances where such a person seems to have exercised any power 1 Kings 15:13; 2 Kings 11:1-20.

Abijam - Abijah (see the marginal reference) was probably his real name, while Abijam is a form due to the religious feeling of the Jews, who would not allow the word JAH to be retained as an element in the name of so bad a king. Instances of a similar feeling are the change of Bethel” into Beth-aven in Hosea 1 Kings 4:15, and perhaps of Jehoahaz into Ahaz (2 Kings 15:38 note).

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Kings 14". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/1-kings-14.html. 1870.