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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 12

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

And Rehoboam went to Shechem: for all Israel were come to Shechem to make him king.

And Rehoboam went to Shechem. — It was an oversight in Solomon, that he had not before his death made his son king - as David had done him, for preventing of troubles; as also in Rehoboam, that he being the undoubted heir of the kingdom - settled by God upon Solomon and his heirs 2 Samuel 7:12-13 - expected the consent of the people, whom he knew to be seditiously inclined, and yielded to meet them at Shechem, a city of Ephraim, that turbulent tribe, where Jeroboam was so powerful. But God, who infatuateth those he meaneth to punish, had a holy hand in all.

Verse 2

And it came to pass, when Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who was yet in Egypt, heard [of it], (for he was fled from the presence of king Solomon, and Jeroboam dwelt in Egypt;)

For he was fled, — viz., For safeguard of his life, as man is ζωον φιλοζωον , a life loving creature. See on 1 Kings 11:40 .

Verse 3

That they sent and called him. And Jeroboam and all the congregation of Israel came, and spake unto Rehoboam, saying,

That they sent and called him. — This was the act of the multitude, that shallow brained, but great and many headed beast. Jeroboam they picked as one that had been a prime officer amongst them; one that had suffered banishment for speaking freely for them, that was a mighty man of valour, 1 Kings 11:28 and that had God’s promise of the kingdom by the prophet Ahijah, who was also of the same tribe.

And Rehoboam and all the congregation. — An importable subsidy in Henry VIII’s time, procured by Cardinal Wolsey, was, by the Commons, denied to be paid. Speed. Suffolk rose up in arms making Poverty their captain, as here the aggrieved Israelites did Jeroboam, one that was born of himself, and of whom it might be said, as it was once of Caligula, Non meliorem unquam servum fuisse, nec deteriorem dominum, that there was not a better servant than he, nor a worse lord.

Verse 4

Thy father made our yoke grievous: now therefore make thou the grievous service of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter, and we will serve thee.

Thy father made our yoke grievous. — We are sensible how our necks were pinched and galled by means of thy father’s works and wars; the hard services and great taxes put upon us for the maintenance of his royalty, and great retinue of strange women especially; which charge they could not bear, but their idolatry they could well enough brook. Worldly men are only sensible of worldly damages: Mundi divitias magis amant quam Christi delicias.

Make thou his heavy yoke lighter.Alleva iugum. These malcontented Mεμψιμοιροι had had a fine time, a golden age under Solomon’s government, but never found the worth, till they felt the want of it. Bona a tergo sunt formosissima, blessings are most beautiful behind.

Verse 5

And he said unto them, Depart yet [for] three days, then come again to me. And the people departed.

Depart yet for three days. — This was foolishly done, saith Pellican and Martyr, to give them three days’ respite; because in this time they might consult about a defection, whatsoever answer he should make. If he had pacified their wrath by a soft answer at present, as his father counselleth, Proverbs 15:1 he had hit it.

Regnorum sub rege novo mitissima sors est. ” - Lucan.

Verse 6

And king Rehoboam consulted with the old men, that stood before Solomon his father while he yet lived, and said, How do ye advise that I may answer this people?

And king Rehoboam consulted with the old men. — This was right; for "with the ancient is wisdom, and in length of days is understanding," Job 12:12 Cautius dimicant veterani milites.

Vulneribus didicit miles habere rectum.

Those who have bought their wit, will walk more warily, and advise more solidly.

Verse 7

And they spake unto him, saying, If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be thy servants for ever.

If thou wilt be a servant to this people this day. — Lenity and moderation in a prince is very prevalent with the people, as to win their affections at first, so to hold them in obedience ever after. The advice of an ancient French counseller to his sovereign at his departure from court, hath been elsewhere related. Being wished to lay down some general rules for government, he took a paper, and wrote on the top of it ‘moderation,’ in the middle of the leaf ‘moderation,’ and at the bottom ‘moderation.’

Then they will serve thee for ever. — Thou mayest afterwards use them at thy pleasure. Thus these politicians, according to that of the poet,

Nil pudet assuetos sceptris.

England was once called the Pope’s ass; and his officer John Florentinus was nicknamed Ferentinus for bearing away so much money from the English, of whom he received no less sums of curses than of coin, saith the chronicler. Speed.

Verse 8

But he forsook the counsel of the old men, which they had given him, and consulted with the young men that were grown up with him, [and] which stood before him:

But he forsook the counsel of the old men. — With whom he consulted only for fashion’s sake - as Xerxes did when he went against Greece, Val. Max. - resolved beforehand to stand upon his pantofles, and not at all to stoop to the people. He had those about him, doubtless, that would tell him - as some court parasites did our king John, when he had yielded to the requests of his barons for the subjects’ liberty Daniel. - that now he was "a king without a kingdom, a lord without a dominion, and a subject to his subjects."

And consulted with the young men. — So did our king Richard II, to his utter ruin. So did Xerxes despise the grave counsel of his uncle Artabanus; and was wholly led by young Mardonius, to the loss of all. Herodot., lib. vii. The like is reported of Dionysius, king of Sicily; Croesus, king of Lydia; Nero, emperor of Rome; Sueton. James, that reigned in Scotland in Edward IV’s time; Daniel. and Lautrer, of whom it is reported that he lost the kingdom of Naples from the French king his master, and all that he had in Italy, because he would not ask nor follow the advice of them that were wiser than himself. Sir R. Berk., Sum. Bon.

Verse 9

And he said unto them, What counsel give ye that we may answer this people, who have spoken to me, saying, Make the yoke which thy father did put upon us lighter?

Make the yoke. — He mentioneth not the people’s promise - "and we will serve thee" 1 Kings 12:4 - as not serving to his purpose.

Verse 10

And the young men that were grown up with him spake unto him, saying, Thus shalt thou speak unto this people that spake unto thee, saying, Thy father made our yoke heavy, but make thou [it] lighter unto us; thus shalt thou say unto them, My little [finger] shall be thicker than my father’s loins.

And the going men that were grown up with him. — And so knew how to humour him; as,

Agmen adulantum media procedit in aula.

My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s loins,i.e., Multo fortior sum patre meo. Vatab. I have as much and more absolute power over your persons and goods than ever my father had; and can force you according to my will. He was a youth when he was crowned, and consented to anything: but I am forty years of age, and will not be made such a child of. The rashness, therefore, of your present demands, I will chastise with rigour, … Now, what was it but pride, boldness, and folly, that made this silly man thus to vaunt himself, and say, My little finger, …? How truly he spoke it, that one thing sufficiently showeth, that the golden shields used to be borne before his father, were taken away from Rehoboam, and brazen shields put in their places! Hic nimirum fuit vanae illius gloriationis exitus, saith one. This was the issue of these vain vauntings.

Verse 11

And now whereas my father did lade you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke: my father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.

I will chastise you with scorpionsa That is, With briers and thorns; as Gideon taught the men of Penuel: or, With torturing whips that sting like a scorpion; such as the Spaniards brought great store of, as it is said, in 1588; not sparing to sing of Queen Elizabeth and her England,

Tu quae suevisti Romanas temnere leges,

Hispano disces subdere colla iugo. ”

a Flagris aculeatis. - Vatab.

Verse 12

So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king had appointed, saying, Come to me again the third day.

Come to me again the third day. — See 1 Kings 12:5 .

Verse 13

And the king answered the people roughly, and forsook the old men’s counsel that they gave him;

And the king answered the people roughly. — But to his great loss; for he lost those ten tribes with a churlish breath, whom he would, and might not, recover with blood: being so much more wilful than his father, as less wise; all head and no heart.

Verse 14

And spake to them after the counsel of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father [also] chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.

And spake to them after the counsel of the young men. — This was egregious folly. Green wood is ever shrinking and warping: whereas the well seasoned holdeth a constant firmness.

But I will chastise you with scorpions.Vox haec dignior est carnifice quam rege. See 1 Kings 12:11 .

Verse 15

Wherefore the king hearkened not unto the people; for the cause was from the LORD, that he might perform his saying, which the LORD spake by Ahijah the Shilonite unto Jeroboam the son of Nebat.

For the cause. — Heb., Circuit or turning about; for here was a "wheel within a wheel," as Ezekiel 1:16 .

Was from the Lord. — Who useth to order the disorders of the world to his own purposes: as having an overruling providence, and a powerful hand in all occurrents.

Verse 16

So when all Israel saw that the king hearkened not unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? neither [have we] inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David. So Israel departed unto their tents.

The people answered the king, saying — Here that proverb is exemplified, "Grievous words stir up wrath." Proverbs 15:1 Rehoboam found also that strife is far easier stirred than stinted: and that the people is a most dangerous and heady water when once it is out.

What portion have we in David? — So soon are all his good turns done for them, and their fathers afore them, forgotten. Perraro grati reperiuntur. This absurd language they had learned of Saul the castaway and Sheba the traitor.

To your tents, O Israel. — Away to your own homes and houses: for why should we enslave ourselves to such a tyrant?

Now see to thine own house, David. — See to thine own affairs, and we will see to ours: and provide us of a king that will better deport himself toward us than this fatuellus.

So Israel departed unto their tents. — To Ohalehem and to Elohehem, their tents and their gods, resolving never to subject themselves to Rehoboam, or any of his posterity. Broughton on Daniel.

Verse 17

But [as for] the children of Israel which dwelt in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them.

But as for the children of Israel. — Not the men of Judah only, but the Simeonites that were mingled among them, the Benjamites that were joined unto them, the Levites and other convenae that set their hearts to seek the Lord in his holy temple. 2 Chronicles 11:16 ; 2 Chronicles 15:9

Verse 18

Then king Rehoboam sent Adoram, who [was] over the tribute; and all Israel stoned him with stones, that he died. Therefore king Rehoboam made speed to get him up to his chariot, to flee to Jerusalem.

Sent Adoram, who was over the tribute. — But the sight of such an officer, he might well think, would enrage them rather. Herein therefore Rehoboam was also ill-advised: he should have considered that the rebellious multitude more regard commotioners than commissioners, and are more guided by rage than by right: flocking together, as clouds cluster against a storm, whilst violence and obstinacy, like two untamed horses, draw their desires in a blindfold career.

To flee to Jerusalem. — Whither he returned lighter now by a crown than when he went forth: yet in better condition than was once our Henry VI, when deposed by Edward IV; he was not only bereft of all, but also sent again prisoner to the Tower the same day that he had a year before been carried through the city of London, as it were, in triumph, and had heard the shouts of the commons in every street crying, God save King Henry. Speed.

Verse 19

So Israel rebelled against the house of David unto this day.

So Israel rebelled. — Rebellion it was in them, and no better: though nothing was therein done, but by the determinate counsel of God, and as he had foretold.

Against the house of David. — Ill accidents ever attend such princes, as being absolute in power, - so they will needs have it, - will be too resolute in will and dissolute in life.

Verse 20

And it came to pass, when all Israel heard that Jeroboam was come again, that they sent and called him unto the congregation, and made him king over all Israel: there was none that followed the house of David, but the tribe of Judah only.

And made him king. — See Hosea 8:4 . See Trapp on " Hosea 8:4 "

But the tribe of Judah only. — See on 1 Kings 12:17 . This tribe only followed the house of David ex animo, heartily and of free choice; the other ex occasione, occasionally, for religion’s sake, or otherwise.

Verse 21

And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah, with the tribe of Benjamin, an hundred and fourscore thousand chosen men, which were warriors, to fight against the house of Israel, to bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam the son of Solomon.

To fight against the house of Israel. — But this was not the way now; since the counsel of the Lord, that must stand. Rehoboam should rather have taken up such a motto, as afterwards Otho II. Emperor of Germany did, Pacem cum hominibus, cum vitiis bellum; Let us quarrel with our friends, [Sic. (?) Faults.] and not with our fellow creatures.

Verse 22

But the word of God came unto Shemaiah the man of God, saying,

But the word of God came. — God is said to have come to Balaam, to Laban, and to other profane wretches; but his "word" came only to "his holy prophets, which have been since the world began."

Verse 23

Speak unto Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and unto all the house of Judah and Benjamin, and to the remnant of the people, saying,

Speak unto Rehoboam. — Spare not to speak unto him, and lay my charge upon him to desist and disband his forces.

Verse 24

Thus saith the LORD, Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel: return every man to his house; for this thing is from me. They hearkened therefore to the word of the LORD, and returned to depart, according to the word of the LORD.

They hearkened therefore. — This was much; but yet no more than hath been done here in Albion at the command of one of their Bardi, which were a kind of poets or priests among our heathen ancestors

Verse 25

Then Jeroboam built Shechem in mount Ephraim, and dwelt therein; and went out from thence, and built Penuel.

Then Jeroboam built Shechem. — Shechem had been ruined and sowed with salt, Judges 9:45 it had been rebuilt, 1 Kings 12:1 but now made a royal city, as being in meditullio regni, in the middle of the kingdom: as Constantinople, for its situation, is said to be a city fatally founded, to command a great part of the world. Turk. Hist.

And built Penuel. — Beyond Jordan, to be a bulwark there.

Verse 26

And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David:

And Jeroboam said in his heart. — His kingdom was not without cares, his throne without thorns: for help in which case, he consulteth with carnal reason, and thereby "consulteth shame and ruin to his house, and sinneth against his own soul." Zephaniah 2:10

Verse 27

If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, [even] unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah.

If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house. — The temple, that proper place of God’s true, doth accidentally become an occasion, through men’s corruption, of setting up of false, worship: so doth, at this day, the holy eucharist, of disunion and dissension; Hinc bellum illud Sacramentarium.

Verse 28

Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves [of] gold, and said unto them, 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.

Whereupon the king took counsel, — viz., Of his politicians, who are none of the best patriots, because they make religion serve policy, which is the way to ruin all, as is to be seen in the histories of Constantius, Heraclius, Michael Paleologus (who first made the Greek Church acknowledge the Pope’s supremacy), Caesar Borgia, our Richard III, Henry IV of France, and many others. Jeroboam graviorem duxit iacturam regionis quam religionis; atque si omnino religio violanda sit, existimat regni causa violandam.

And made two calves. — He had sojourned in Egypt, where he had seen calf worship, in honour of Apis, and haply joined in it to please Shishak, whose daughter he is also said by some to have married, as thinking to strengthen himself against Rehoboam by that affinity. Ibique uxore accepta ex stirpe regia. - Sulp. Sever.

It is too much for you. — Behold a more compendious way of worship: Colite Deum, ut par est; Religiosum oportet esse, sed non religentem: provide for your own ease and better accommodation.

Verse 29

And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan.

And he set the one in Bethel. — At both ends of the land.

Verse 30

And this thing became a sin: for the people went [to worship] before the one, [even] unto Dan.

For the people went to worship. — At both places. Jeroboam’s calves were no sooner up, than Israel is down on their knees. It is no marvel, saith one, if his subjects are brutish who hath made a calf his god.

Verse 31

And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi.

And he made a house. — A mock temple, a pantheon, a place to hold his mawmets and monuments of idolatry.

And made priests, … — Leaden priests are well fitted to golden deities: such are those greasy hedge priests among the Papists.

Which were not of the sons of Levi. — The Levites he had turned out of their places, and enriched himself with their spoils. 2 Chronicles 11:14

Verse 32

And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that [is] in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made.

Like unto the feast, — viz., The feast of tabernacles, but not in the same month. Satan Dei simia:

Simia quam similis turpissima bestia nobis! ” - Ennius.

Verse 33

So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, [even] in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.

So he offered upon the altar. — As he usurped the kingdom, so now he invadeth the high priesthood: Josephus. as did likewise Uzziah. 2 Chronicles 26:16 Julius Caesar wrote to his mother, Hodie videbis me aut Pontificem aut exulem. Today you will see me as Pontiff or exileed. Sueton. Charles V also sought once to make himself Pope, that he might get both the swords into his own hand. Ambition rideth without reins.

Which he had devised of his own heart. — Hence this new day is called the day of the king, by the prophet Hosea, who doth often thunder against this idolatry. Sed surdo fabulam.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/1-kings-12.html. 1865-1868.
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