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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 14

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

2. Jeroboam’s evil reign in Israel 12:25-14:20

Jeroboam was the first of 20 kings who ruled the Northern Kingdom during its 209-year history. He reigned for 22 years (931-910 B.C.). Not one of the kings of Israel, the Northern Kingdom, turned the people to a serious recommitment to the Mosaic Covenant. Consequently the writer judged all of them evil.

Verses 1-18

The prophecy of judgment on Jeroboam’s dynasty 14:1-18

Whereas the prophecy of the young prophet from Judah dealt with Jeroboam’s religious cult, this one predicted the fate of the king’s descendants. Compare Samuel’s prediction concerning unfaithful Saul’s descendants (1 Samuel 13).

Jeroboam probably sent his wife to see Ahijah because that prophet had previously given a favorable prophecy to him (1 Kings 11:29-39). He probably hoped his gift (1 Kings 14:3) would win the prophet’s favor as Jeroboam had won the favor of the old prophet of Bethel. Ahijah’s ability to recognize the queen should have convinced her that what he said was from the Lord. Yahweh was still the God of Israel (1 Kings 14:7), even though Jeroboam refused to acknowledge Him as such. David’s viewing himself as Yahweh’s servant, keeping His commandments, and following Him with all his heart (1 Kings 14:8), contrast with Jeroboam’s views and practices.

Jeroboam was extremely evil (1 Kings 14:9) because he set up a new cult. In judgment, God would cut off Jeroboam’s descendants so he would not have a continuing dynasty. This is what the Lord had done to Eli and Saul for their similar disregard of God. Jeroboam’s descendants would not even enjoy burial. Wild animals would eat them, a terrible disgrace in the minds of ancient Semites (1 Kings 14:11; cf. 1 Kings 16:4; 1 Kings 21:24; Deuteronomy 28:26). [Note: Patterson and Austel, p. 123.] The sign that this would happen would be the death of Jeroboam’s sick child (1 Kings 14:12). His death at this time was really a divine blessing in view of what he would have experienced had he lived (1 Kings 14:13). The king God raised up (1 Kings 14:14) was Baasha (1 Kings 15:27-29). God compared Jeroboam’s Israel to a shaky reed planted in unstable water (1 Kings 14:15), like the papyrus reeds Jeroboam had seen in Egypt when he lived there. God handed Israel over to captivity eventually, but only temporarily (1 Kings 14:16).

Evidently Jeroboam had moved his capital from Shechem to Tirzah (modern Tell el-Far’ah), seven miles to the northeast, and was living there (1 Kings 14:17). [Note: See "Tirzah: An Early Capital of Israel," Buried History 22:1 (March 1986):14-24.]

Verses 19-20

Jeroboam’s death 14:19-20

The writer wrote that the reigns of 18 of Israel’s 20 kings stood recorded in "The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel" (all except those of Tibni and Hoshea). This document is different from the canonical books of 1 and 2 Chronicles and is not extant.

Jeroboam was a strong leader. He separated Israel from Judah and reigned a long time. Nevertheless his lack of commitment to Yahweh resulted in him and Israel experiencing discipline from the Lord. During his reign, Israel lost control of the area around Damascus that subsequently became an independent Aramean state. Ironically it was this area that produced enemies of Israel for many years. The Philistines also recovered some of their territory and became stronger (cf. 1 Kings 15:27). Moreover Israel appears to have lost control over Moab about this time. [Note: See The Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia, 1975 ed., s.v. "Moab, Moabite," by Arnold C. Schultz.] Judah, Israel, and Edom invaded Moab right after King Ahab of Israel died (2 Kings 3:21-27). King Abijah of Judah also defeated Jeroboam in battle (2 Chronicles 13:13-20). All of these losses are evidences of God’s punishment for apostasy.

Verses 21-31

3. Rehoboam’s evil reign in Judah 14:21-31

"The narrator introduces a new format and style at this point that enables him to state the essence of a king’s reign with an economy of words. The introduction and conclusion of the account of each reign conform to a fixed pattern with only slight variations. The following information is regularly given in the introduction to the reigns of the kings of Judah: (1) date of beginning of reign, (2) age at beginning of reign (not noted consistently at first), (3) length and place of reign, (4) name of the queen mother, and (5) a theological evaluation. The pattern for the Israelite kings is the same except that their ages and the names of their mothers are not given. The reign of each king, both Judahite and Israelite, is normally concluded in this manner: (1) summary of reign and referral to the royal annals for additional information, (2) notice of death and place of burial, and (3) name of successor." [Note: Rice, p. 125. See also Wiseman, pp. 46-52.]

Rehoboam succeeded Solomon and reigned over Judah for 17 years (931-913 B.C.). Jerusalem was the only capital the Southern Kingdom ever had. In contrast to Israel’s capitals, Jerusalem was God’s chosen center for national life politically and religiously (1 Kings 14:21). Rehoboam permitted the re-establishment of pagan worship as it had existed in Israel before Joshua conquered the land (1 Kings 14:23-24). [Note: See Helmer Ringgren, Religions of the Ancient Near East, pp. 158-69.] Perhaps the king’s Ammonite mother was responsible for some of this.

"Essentially, the religion of Canaan was based on the assumption that the forces of nature are expressions of divine presence and activity and that the only way one could survive and prosper was to identify the gods responsible for each phenomenon and by proper ritual encourage them to bring to bear their respective powers. This is the mythological approach to reality. Ritual involves human enactments, particularly by cultic personnel such as priests, of the activity of the gods as described in the myths." [Note: Merrill, Kingdom of . . ., p. 159.]

Asherah (1 Kings 14:23) was the mother goddess of the Canaanite pantheon. However, the word Asherah (pl. Asherim) also described a cult object: a tree, a grove of trees, or a pole. [Note: John Day, "Asherah in the Hebrew Bible and Northwest Semitic Literature," Journal of Biblical Literature 105:3 (September 1986):385-408.]

Pharaoh Shishak (Shoshenq I, 945-924 B.C.) was the king who had given Jeroboam refuge (1 Kings 11:40). He was a very powerful and effective ruler. [Note: I. E. S. Edwards, "Egypt: From the Twenty-second to the Twenty-fourth Dynasty," in Cambridge Ancient History 3:1:539-49.] The campaign that brought him into Judah netted him 156 cities in Judah, Israel, Edom, and Philistia. [Note: Benjamin Mazar, "The campaign of Pharaoh Shishak to Palestine," Vetus Testamentum Supplements 4 (1957):57-66.] His invasion diminished much of the glory of the temple and of Yahweh (1 Kings 14:26-28). Shishak’s offensive was the first serious attack against Judah by any foreign power since Saul’s days.

The writer footnoted "The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah" when he wrote of 14 of those kings (1 Kings 14:29). Again, this document is not our 1 and 2 Chronicles. The war that kept flaring up between Rehoboam and Jeroboam (1 Kings 14:30) was a consequence of their turning away from Yahweh. Rebellion against God brought war, but submission would have resulted in peace.

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Kings 14". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/1-kings-14.html. 2012.
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