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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 12

Haydock's Catholic Bible CommentaryHaydock's Catholic Commentary

Verse 1

King, or to acknowledge his right, provided he would grant their request. The discontented assembled at Sichem, rather than at Jerusalem, as they would be under less restraint. (Calmet) --- They appointed Jeroboam to prefer their petition. (Menochius) --- Roboam was probably the only son whom Solomon had by his wives. (Calmet) --- We read of two daughters, Japheth and Basemath, chap. iv. 11., and 15. (Haydock) --- Naama, the Ammonite, was the mother of Robaom, who, though 40 years old, was devoid of good sense, 2 Paralipomenon xiii. 7., Ecclesiastes ii. 18., and Ecclesiasticus xlvii. 27. (Calmet)

Verse 2

Hearing of. Hebrew, "It (the assembly) and Jeroboam dwelt in Egypt." (Haydock) --- But in 2 Paralipomenon x. 2., we find he returned. It is probable that both texts agreed in the days of St. Jerome; as the same letters, if read in a different manner, may have both meanings. (Calmet) --- Septuagint have also "returned." (Haydock)

Verse 4

Yoke, of personal service, (Calmet) first to build the temple, and afterwards to erect palaces, fortify cities, &c. The works of Mello gave the greatest discontent. (Haydock)

Verse 6

Old man. Banaias and Jahiel. (St. Jerome, Trad.)

Verse 7

They said. Hebrew, "he said." The transcribers, probably not understanding what they wrote, frequently make singular for plural verbs. So ver. 21, "They came," instead of he came. Some manuscripts and the ancient versions are correct. (Kennicott) --- Yield. Hebrew, "serve." By the submission of one day he might have acquired the kingdom. Great attention is requisite at first. Tacitus (Hist. iv.) represents Vespasian, Novo principatu suspensum, & vultus quoque ac sermones omnium circumspectantem.

Verse 8

Him. They were young, compared with the former, though they might be 40 years old. (Menochius) --- It was frequently the custom in the eastern courts, to educate young noblemen along with the heir to the crown. Such formed the captains of Alexander, (1 Machabees i. 7,) and the warriors of Sesostris, whose father ordered all the male children who were born on the same day in his dominions, to be brought to court, to be educated with his son. (Diodorus i.) --- The Persian nobility were brought up at the gate of the prince, that they might learn temperance and the art of governing. (Xenophon, Cyrop. i.) --- The endeavours of Solomon were frustrated by the evil disposition of his son, and of those about his person.

Verse 10

Finger is not expressed in Hebrew or Septuagint, but the Syriac and Josephus agree with the Vulgate. In Paralipomenon, we read loins, instead of back. Hebrew and Septuagint, my little (Protestants supply finger). Septuagint, "my littleness," Greek: mikrotes; but in Paralipomenon finger is added. (Haydock) --- Chaldean, "my weakness is stronger than my father’s strength." The loins denote strength. Roboam did not use these boastings and insolent expressions: but he adopted their spirit. (Calmet) --- He insinuates that he was twice as old as his father when he began to reign, (Pineda vii. 24,) or he uses a proverbial exaggeration. (Delrio. adag. 202.) (Menochius)

Verse 11

Scorpions. Chaldean, "thorns." Hebrew has both significations. Like a tyrant, Roboam threatens to beat the people with sharp thorns. (Menochius)

Verse 15

Turned. Hebrew, "for the cause (revolution) was from the Lord, (Calmet) that he might verify his word." (Haydock) --- God permitted the king to act impudently, and disposed things in such a manner, that the prediction took effect. (Calmet) --- Indeed, the prophet had only spoken, because things would happen. (Haydock) --- "There are two sorts of persecutors, those who blame, and those who flatter: the tongue of the flatterers persecutes more than the hand of him who kills." (St. Augustine in Psalm lxix.) (Du Hamel) --- Roboam fell a prey to his evil counsellors. (Haydock) --- That, (ver. 16.) denotes the sequel, not the final cause, as chap. xiv. 9. (Worthington)

Verse 16

Look to. Chaldean, "rule over thy own tribe." They imitate those who give a bill of divorce. (Calmet) --- Herein they were not excusable, no more than those who persecuted God’s people, though he permitted their wickedness, to chastise the guilty. (Menochius) --- Seba had formerly withdrawn the people from David in the same manner, 2 Kings xx. 1. (Haydock) --- Abulensis thinks that as God had chosen Jeroboam, and his rival acted tryannically, the people did right. (Tirinus)

Verse 17

Them, as well as over many, who came into his territory, that they might practise the true religion, without restraint. (Haydock) (Chap. xi. 13.) --- The kings of Juda afterwards made various conquests, chap. xiii. 19. Hence they were able to contend with the other tribes (Calmet) with advantage. (Haydock) --- Even at first, Roboam put himself at the head of 180,000 chosen men, ver. 21. Abia had an army of 400,000, and Asa near 600,000; while Josaphat had 1,160,000 soldiers, 2 Paralipomenon xiii. 3., and xiv. 8., and xvii. 14.

Verse 18

Aduram. One of the same name had occupied this post under David, 2 Kings xx. 24. (Calmet) --- Some suppose that this is the same with Adoniram, chap. iv. 6. Roboam impudently sent him to appease the people, (Salien) or haughtily to demand the usual tribute; unless the king abandoned him to the fury of the populace, as an object of their horror. The people have often been appeased by the death of rapacious ministers. --- Haste. Hebrew, "he strengthened himself," or obstinately persisted in his resolution of reducing the people by force; and thus those, who might now have been easily reclaimed, were driven to choose another king, and the evil became irremediable. (Calmet)

Verse 20

Again, from Egypt, ver. 2. (Haydock) --- He had not been present, it seems, at the second assembly; or, at least, he had retired as soon as Roboam had given his decision. But the people having stoned Aduram, and thus rendered a reconciliation very difficult, Jeroboam was invited to accept the crown. (Calmet) --- As this was conformable to his utmost desires and the prophet’s declaration, he made no demur, chap. xi. 37. (Haydock) Only. Benjamin was a small tribe, and so intermixed with the tribe of Juda, (the very city of Jerusalem being partly in Juda, partly in Benjamin) that hey are here counted but as one tribe. (Challoner) --- Perhaps Benjamin at first hesitated; but, considering the greater danger to which it would be exposed, embraced the party of Roboam, ver. 21. (Salien)

Verse 21

Fourscore. [Eighty.] Septuagint, "twenty." (Du Hamel) --- But the Alexandrian copy agrees with the Hebrew. (Haydock)

Verse 24

Them. This shews the great authority of Semeias. He wrote the history of Roboam, 2 Paralipomenon xii. 15. He also foretold the irruption of Sesac, to punish the house of Israel; but not to destroy it. (Calmet) --- The obedience of Roboam deserves applause; though it would have been a vain attempt to resist God, who was resolved to punish his family. (Menochius) --- God must have touched the hearts of the leaders, to convince them that he spoke by the mouth of Semeias. (Salien) --- The Vatican Septuagint here subjoins almost the whole history of Jeroboam, improperly. (Haydock) See chap. xiv.

Verse 25

Built, or "had built," while Roboam was preparing for his invasion. (Salien) --- Sichem and Phanuel had been ruined by Abimelech, and by Gedeon, Judges viii. 17., and ix. 45. (Calmet) --- By means of these fortresses, he secured both sides of the Jordan. (Haydock) --- Jeroboam afterwards fixed his residence at Thirsa, where the court was kept, till Amri built Samaria.

Verse 27

Him. Jeroboam chose to follow the dictates of human policy, rather than to depend on the express declaration of God, who had given him the kingdom. It was natural that the people should have a predilection for the house of David; (Calmet) and he might fear that the priests would prevail upon them to return to their old master, as they dwelt about Jerusalem. (Salien)

Verse 28

Device. Wicked policy, to make religion subservient to the state. (Worthington) --- Jeroboam was right in judging, (Haydock) that it is one of the strongest foundations of government, (Calmet) and therefore he would have a peculiar religion for his subjects. (Haydock) --- Strange blindness, caused by ambition! As if God could not have maintained him on the throne. The sequel evinces how delusive were his wicked projects. (Calmet) --- Calves. It is likely, by making his gods in this form, he mimicked the Egyptians, among whom he had sojourned, who worshipped their Apis and their Osiris under the form of a bullock. (Challoner) (St. Jerome in Osee iv. 15., and v., &c.) --- The Greeks commonly style these idols, heifers, are more contemptible than bulls: (Tirinus) and some Fathers style them, "calf-heads." (Lactantius iv. 10.) Monceau pretends that they resembled the cherubim, and were intended to represent the true God; thus endeavouring to excuse the Israelites from idolatry, on this occasion, as well as when they came out of Egypt, Exodus xxxii. 4. But his arguments are weak, and Jeroboam is constantly condemned as a most wicked and idolatrous prince, chap. xiv. 9., 4 Kings xxiii. 15., and Osee viii. 5., and x. 5. (Calmet) --- Egypt. The same had been said by Aaron. (Menochius)

Verse 29

Bethel and Dan. Bethel was a city of the tribe of Ephraim, in the southern parts of the dominions of Jeroboam, about six leagues from Jerusalem: Dan was in the extremity of his dominions, to the north, on the confines of Syria. (Challoner) --- The Israelites did not hesitate to travel so far, ver. 30. (Calmet) --- Those who lived nearer Bethel, went thither along with their king. (Salien) --- The latter city was assigned to Benjamin, Josue xviii. 22. (Menochius) --- But probably many of the subjects of Jeroboam dwelt in it; so that it was the most southern city of his dominions. It had been consecrated by Jacob, (Genesis xxviii. 19.) and was a famous place of devotion, 1 Kings x. 3. Septuagint (Alexandrian) and St. Cyril (in Osee, p. 5.) read Galgal. Dan had been long before infected with idolatry, Judges xviii. 30.

Verse 30

Sin, almost irreparable, which brought on the ruin of the ten tribes. Though the calves were taken away along with them into captivity, the people did not return to the service of the Lord: but the greatest part imitated the conduct of the pagans, with whom they mixed; while some few returned with the tribe of Juda, and made a part of that kingdom. The Samaritans, who were sent to inhabit their country, were not of the race of Jacob. (Calmet)

Verse 31

Places, to other idols or devils, (2 Paralipomenon xi. 15.; Haydock) not merely at Bethel, chap. xiii. --- Lowest. Such places were fittest for him. (Worthington) --- Hebrew, "extremity:" others understand people of reputation: but it seems he took any whosoever would (chap. xiii. 33.) accept the office, without confining himself to the Levites. (Calmet) --- Indeed most of them were banished, as refractory; (2 Paralipomenon xi. 13.) though some were so weak as to take part with him; (Ezechiel lxiv. 10.) probably the descendants of Micha, Judges xviii. 31. (Haydock) --- They were not punished with instant death, like Core, though their crime seemed greater. (Salien)

Verse 32

Day. God had prescribed the seventh month, (Calmet) and this wicked prince purposely made choice of another, that the observance of the days appointed might be obliterated. Thus the Jacobins, in France, decreed that the tenth day should be the day of rest, instead of Sunday. (Haydock) --- Religious assemblies tend greatly to promote the spirit of concord and peace.

Verse 33

To: literally, "up on," (super) as at the end of the verse. (Haydock) --- The altars were very high and large. (Calmet) --- Month. Septuagint add, "on the festival which," &c. (Menochius) --- Heart. Hebrew reads millibod, (præter) instead of molbu, (ex corde suo.) Some manuscripts retain the latter word, as it is printed also in the marginal keri. Leusden tells us, we are by no means to say it is the truer reading, because then the text must be allowed to be corrupted; but it only explains what is meant by præter, "besides." A marvellous explanation! and perhaps it is only to be paralleled by ei explained by non. (Kennicott) --- Jeroboam has a mind to do honour to his new worship, and unites in his own person the sacerdotal and regal dignity, as the Roman emperors did. (Calmet) --- Incense. Septuagint, "to sacrifice." (Haydock) --- From this period, many learned men date the 390 years of the iniquity of Israel, Ezechiel iv. 5. (Du Hamel)

Verse 43


Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12". "Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hcc/1-kings-12.html. 1859.
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