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Bible Commentaries
2 Chronicles 11

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary


Second Chronicles Chapter 11

2 Chronicles 11:1 "And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he gathered of the house of Judah and Benjamin an hundred and fourscore thousand chosen [men], which were warriors, to fight against Israel, that he might bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam."

The 180,000 men of war were those who were well-trained in war. Rehoboam was about to begin a civil war with his brethren, the Israelites. The prophecy of Ahijah had been fulfilled. Judah and Benjamin had sided against the other ten tribes.

2 Chronicles 11:2 "But the word of the LORD came to Shemaiah the man of God, saying,"

2 Chronicles 11:3 "Speak unto Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all Israel in Judah and Benjamin, saying,"

2 Chronicles 11:4 "Thus saith the LORD, Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren: return every man to his house: for this thing is done of me. And they obeyed the words of the LORD, and returned from going against Jeroboam."

Rehoboam had it in his mind to go and fight against Jeroboam and the ten tribes, but we see in this that the LORD stopped them. God stopped the battle by sending a message to both sides by Shemaiah, the man of God. After they had heard the message from God, all of the men went home to their own houses. God reminded all of these tribes that they were their brethren. They would not go against the will of God. There would be no war.

2 Chronicles 11:5 "And Rehoboam dwelt in Jerusalem, and built cities for defence in Judah."

2 Chronicles 11:6 "He built even Beth-lehem, and Etam, and Tekoa,"

2 Chronicles 11:7 "And Beth-zur, and Shoco, and Adullam,"

2 Chronicles 11:8 "And Gath, and Mareshah, and Ziph,"

2 Chronicles 11:9 "And Adoraim, and Lachish, and Azekah,"

2 Chronicles 11:10 "And Zorah, and Aijalon, and Hebron, which [are] in Judah and in Benjamin fenced cities."

All of these cities were surrounding Jerusalem. The enemy would have to pass through these cities, before they could get to Jerusalem. Out of the 15 cities of defense he built, 12 were south and west of Jerusalem to defend against any attack from Egypt. These cities were built with walls around them and fortified with weapons of defense. Bethlehem had been called Ephrath. It was one of the oldest cities in the area. It was re-built, instead of being built entirely. It is less than 5 miles out of Jerusalem. Many of these cities are still in existence today. All of Rehoboam’ s efforts were turned to Judah and Benjamin, since he did not have to fight a war.

2 Chronicles 11:11 "And he fortified the strong holds, and put captains in them, and store of victual, and of oil and wine."

He had prepared these cities to withstand a long battle, if necessary. The food, and oil, and wine would keep them from starving, if someone surrounded them. There were many chariots and horses that Solomon had gathered. They were a very well-equipped army.

2 Chronicles 11:12 "And in every several city [he put] shields and spears, and made them exceeding strong, having Judah and Benjamin on his side."

The weapons of war, that Solomon had gathered, still belonged to Rehoboam. Most of them had been located in and around Jerusalem. Judah and Benjamin would have been hard to separate, because Jerusalem was in the hands of Judah, and the immediate area around it belonged to Benjamin. Soon, both Judah and Benjamin would be spoken of as Judah.

2 Chronicles 11:13 "And the priests and the Levites that [were] in all Israel resorted to him out of all their coasts."

The priests were associated with the temple in Jerusalem. They could not separate themselves from the worship in the temple in Jerusalem, so they came to Judah and Benjamin. They could not accept the golden calves that were the symbol of worship in Israel.

2 Chronicles 11:14 "For the Levites left their suburbs and their possession, and came to Judah and Jerusalem: for Jeroboam and his sons had cast them off from executing the priest’s office unto the LORD:"

Jeroboam would not let them come to Jerusalem for worship. They just left, because they could not participate in the worship of the false gods that Jeroboam erected. The two golden calves were an abomination, as far as the priests and Levites were concerned.

2 Chronicles 11:15 "And he ordained him priests for the high places, and for the devils, and for the calves which he had made."

Jeroboam chose men of the tribes, who were not Levites, and anointed them to work in the places of worship.

2 Chronicles 11:16 "And after them out of all the tribes of Israel such as set their hearts to seek the LORD God of Israel came to Jerusalem, to sacrifice unto the LORD God of their fathers."

This is speaking of those who refused to be associated with the worship of false gods.

2 Chronicles 11:17 "So they strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and made Rehoboam the son of Solomon strong, three years: for three years they walked in the way of David and Solomon."

For three years, it seems that Rehoboam and the people followed the way of the LORD and prospered. They tried to live as David and Solomon had taught them in the beginning.

2 Chronicles 11:18 "And Rehoboam took him Mahalath the daughter of Jerimoth the son of David to wife, [and] Abihail the daughter of Eliab the son of Jesse;"

Mahalath was the first of 18 wives of Rehoboam. Mahalath was the granddaughter of David, then. Abihail was the niece of David.

2 Chronicles 11:19 "Which bare him children; Jeush, and Shamariah, and Zaham."

Most scholars give these three children to Abihail. It is possible, however that some could belong to Mahalath. Since it is not extremely important which they belong to, we will go on. 2 Chronicles 11:20 "And after her he took Maachah the daughter of Absalom; which bare him Abijah, and Attai, and Ziza, and Shelomith." Maachah was, probably, the grand-daughter of Absalom by his daughter, Tamar.

2 Chronicles 11:21 "And Rehoboam loved Maachah the daughter of Absalom above all his wives and his concubines: (for he took eighteen wives, and threescore concubines; and begat twenty and eight sons, and threescore daughters.)"

We see that Rehoboam had 18 wives. He had 60 concubines. From these wives and concubines, he had 28 sons and 60 daughters. It is interesting that he loved Maachah above all these other ladies. The following Scripture speaks against having many wives. Deuteronomy 17:17 "Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold."

2 Chronicles 11:22 "And Rehoboam made Abijah the son of Maachah the chief, [to be] ruler among his brethren: for [he thought] to make him king."

This is very similar to David choosing Solomon, of all of his brothers, to rule in his stead. David had several sons older than Solomon. He loved Bathsheba more than his other wives and made her son king in his stead. Rehoboam made Abijah king in his stead, because he loved Maachah more than the other wives.

2 Chronicles 11:23 "And he dealt wisely, and dispersed of all his children throughout all the countries of Judah and Benjamin, unto every fenced city: and he gave them victual in abundance. And he desired many wives."

This dispersing of his children in the cities was so the cities would stay loyal to him. By providing separate places for his children, there would be less jealousy between each other, as well. He was very rich from Solomon’s wealth, so he provided abundantly for them all.

2 Chronicles 11 Questions

1. How many men of war did Rehoboam gather in Jerusalem?

2. What tribes were they from?

3. What prophecy had been fulfilled?

4. A Word of prophecy came for these people from what man of God?

5. What was the prophecy?

6. What effect did that have on Rehoboam’s plans?

7. What did God remind all of these tribes of?

8. Where did Rehoboam live?

9. Name the cities he built for defense.

10. How many cities were there?

11. Where were most of them built?

12. What was an earlier name for Bethlehem?

13. What did he put in the cities?

14. What were the weapons of war?

15. Soon, Benjamin and Judah would be spoken of as ________.

16. What did the priests and the Levites do?

17. Who did Jeroboam choose for priests?

18. 2 Chronicles 11:16 is speaking of whom?

19. What happened to the kingdom of Judah?

20. How many years did Rehoboam do right in God’s sight?

21. Who was Rehoboam’s first wife?

22. How many wives did he have?

23. How many concubines did he have?

24. How many sons were born to him?

25. How many daughters did he have?

26. Quote Deuteronomy 17:17.

27. Which of Rehoboam’s sons did he make chief?

28. Where did his families live?

Verses 1-4

2Ch 11:1-4

2 Chronicles 11:1-4



"And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he assembled the house of Judah and Benjamin, a hundred and fourscore thousand chosen men, that were warriors, to fight against Israel, to bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam. But the word of Jehovah came to Shemaiah the man of God, saying, Speak unto Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and unto all Israel in Judah and Benjamin, saying, Thus saith Jehovah, Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren: return every man to his house; for this thing is of me. So they hearkened unto the words of Jehovah, and refrained from going against Jeroboam."

It was impossible for Rehoboam to recover from the stupid blunder he had already made. If he had proceeded against Jeroboam, the strong probability is that Jeroboam would have defeated him and brought an even greater disaster upon Rehoboam and Jerusalem. See the parallel account in 1 Kings 12:21-24.


The Chronicler accepted the renunciation of Northern Israel regarding their having "no inheritance in the son of Jesse" (2 Chronicles 10:16), and proceeded to ignore the northern kingdom altogether, except where their history involved Judah. He turned his attention to recording the progression of the southern kingdom’s rulers, in some instances, giving a more complete report than we found in Kings. Examples of this are in this chapter.

E.M. Zerr:

2 Chronicles 11:1. It seems that Rehoboam had not yet learned his lesson. The disastrous experience of his treasurer should have made him know that the 10 tribes were lost to him. He did not realize it though, and made preparations for war with a view of forcing the tribes back under his rule.

2 Chronicles 11:2-4. Man of God was one of the special names for a prophet. Instead of speaking directly to Rehoboam, God spoke to him by this prophet. (Hebrews 1:1.) The division of the nation into separate kingdoms was ordained by the Lord as a punishment for the sin of idolatry, according to the prediction of Ahijah. (1 Kings 11:30-35.)

Verses 5-12

2Ch 11:5-12

2 Chronicles 11:5-12

"And Rehoboam dwelt in Jerusalem, and built cities for defense in Judah. He built Bethlehem, and Elam, and Tekoa, and Beth-zur, and Soco, and Adumllum, and Gath, and Mareshah, and Ziph, and Adoraim, and Lachish, and Azekah, and Zorah, and Aijalon and Hebron, which are in Judah and in Benjamin, fortified cities. And he fortified the strongholds, and put captains in them, and stores of victuals, and oil and wine. And in every city he put shields and spears, and made them exceeding strong. And Judah and Benjamin belonged to him."

These verses and through 2 Chronicles 11:17, below, are parallel to 1 Kings 12:25-33, where one will find most of our comments. These preparations which Rehoboam made against possible invasion of the greatly weakened southern Israel were a prophecy of the beleaguered nation’s future history. A divided Israel would be unable to dominate the Mid-east as did David and Solomon.

E.M. Zerr:

2 Chronicles 11:5-10. Built the cities denotes the remodeling work that was done. Rehoboam improved and fortified these cities which had already existed. Fenced cities means walled cities, one of the items of fortification.

2 Chronicles 11:11. Strong holds is from METSURAH, and Strong defines it, "a hemming in, i. e. a mound or a rampart, fortification." These were places adapted for defense by their natural setting. Rehoboam made them stronger and stationed soldiers in them, who were supported by a store of provisions.

2 Chronicles 11:12. Having Judah and Benjamin on My side. By providing each city with strong weapons he made sure his standing with Judah and Benjamin.

Verses 13-17

2Ch 11:13-17

2 Chronicles 11:13-17


"And the priests and the Levites that were in all Israel resorted to him out of all their border. For the Levites left their suburbs and their possession, and came to Judah and Jerusalem: for Jeroboam and his sons cast them off, that they should not execute the priest’s office unto Jehovah; and he appointed him priests for the high places, and for the he-goats, and for the calves which he had made. And after them, out of all the tribes of Israel, such as set their hearts to seek Jehovah, the God of Israel, came to Jerusalem to sacrifice unto Jehovah, the God of their fathers. So they strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and made Rehoboam the son of Solomon strong, three years; for they walked three years in the way of David and Solomon."

There is important new information here. Jeroboam’s "casting off" of the Levites, his images of the he-goats, and the fact of the Levites losing their possessions in order to live in Judah are not mentioned in Kings. Thus the Chronicler makes it clear enough that there was absolutely nothing whatever honorable or legitimate in the sinful worship Jeroboam installed in Israel. "The priests and Levites who were deposed could still have kept their lands, but they relinquished them in order to live in Judah where they could carry on their calling. They were accompanied by laymen who shared their disillusionment."

Moses told us what this worship of the he-goats was like, when he forbade it to Israel. "They shall no more sacrifice their sacrifices unto the goats, after which they play the harlot" (Leviticus 17:7). There can be little doubt that the golden calves set up by Jeroboam were also used in the same licentious manner.

"They strengthened ... Judah ... three years" (2 Chronicles 11:17). These are ominous words, for they indicate a drastic change afterward. The change came in the fourth year, for in the fifth year, Rehoboam and all Israel forsook the God of Israel; and God’s punishment quickly fell upon them in the invasion of Shishak, recorded in the next chapter.

E.M. Zerr:

2 Chronicles 11:13-14. This is the first account we have of the side the Levites took in the division of the tribes. In the original record we have the two and the ten tribes only mentioned. This passage informs us that the Levites pulled off with the 10 tribes. Jeroboam rejected them and they went back to the kingdom of Judah. We cannot feel too favorably toward them for returning to the right place, for if Jeroboam had accepted their service, we have no evidence that they would have rejected his offer. However, we are pleased that they went back, for that gave the kingdom of Judah, the one with the capital at Jerusalem, the lawful priesthood.

2 Chronicles 11:15. The priests whom Jeroboam ordained were to act for him in three classes of service, named in this verse; high places, the devils, and the calves. The first is commented on at 1 Kings 3:2. The third refers to the idols described in 1 Kings 12:28. The second does not have the meaning usually conveyed by that word. It is from SAIR and Strong defines it, "shaggy; as noun, a he-goat; by analogy a faun." It has been translated in the King James version by devil 2 times, goat 23, he goat 1, kid 28, satyr 2. It thus has a somewhat indefinite significance as applied to the priests under Jeroboam. When these priests acted in the sacrificing of these goats, the dominant idea Jeroboam had was to adore the animals sacrificed instead of the true God for whose sake he was pretending to offer them.

2 Chronicles 11:16. Them is the pronoun for the Levites in 2 Chronicles 11:13. When they went back in a body to Jerusalem, it had an influence on many individuals in the other tribes, who refused to go to the calves at Bethel or Dan, but went instead to the place which God had ordained for the national worship, which was at Jerusalem.

2 Chronicles 11:17. The effect of this returning of the Levites and other individuals was a strengthening of Rehoboam. For three years he served God faithfully and was a powerful ruler and God was for him; but he relaxed in his devotion. This is recorded in 1 Kings 14:22-24, also in the chapter following the one we are now studying.

Verses 18-23

2Ch 11:18-23

2 Chronicles 11:18-23


"And Rehoboam took him a wife, Mahalath the daughter of Jerimoth the son of David, and of Abihail the daughter of Eliab the son of Jesse; and she bare him sons: Jeush, and Shemariah, and Zaham. And after her he took Maacah the daughter of Absalom; and she bare him Abijah, and Attai, and Zizi, and Shelomith. And Rehoboam loved Maacah the daughter of Absalom above all his wives and his concubines (for he took eighteen wives and threescore concubines), and begat twenty and eight sons and threescore daughters. And Rehoboam appointed Abijah the son of Maacah to be chief, even the prince among his brethren; for he was minded to make him king. And he dealt wisely, and dispersed of all his sons throughout all the lands of Judah and Benjamin, unto every fortified city: and he gave them victuals in abundance. And he sought for them many wives."

There is no parallel passage with this in Kings; and we are thankful for this intimate glimpse of what life must have been like in the harems of Jewish kings. One may only imagine the intrigues, jealousies, outright hatreds, and bitter rivalries that resulted from a large compound filled with a total of seventy-eight women competing with each other for their husband’s affections, and secretly hating the king for his partiality, first to one, and then to another.

There was no spiritual compatibility whatever with such an arrangement as that revealed here; and by the Chronicler’s placement of this paragraph just prior to the mention of Rehoboam’s shameful apostasy, he might indeed have considered this as contributory to that apostasy. Indeed, it could hardly have been otherwise.

E.M. Zerr:

2 Chronicles 11:18-21. The account of these several wives which Rehoboam took is not given as a criticism. Plurality of wives was suffered at that time and Rehoboam was not any worse than the others. But his numerous offspring helped him to be strong in the execution of his office. Loved Maachah above is like the case of Solomon who really loved the daughter of Pharaoh. A man can love only one woman as a husband is expected to love his wife. But they took a plurality of women for the purposes of mere fleshly gratification, and for advantages in the social and political world.

2 Chronicles 11:22. The rule of succession was for the oldest son to be king after his father. But Rehoboam loved his wife Maachah and that caused him to feel partial toward her son Abijah. Accordingly, he prepared for the succession by making him his chief among the brethren, having a rule over them under his father.

2 Chronicles 11:23. This wise distribution of his children among the provinces of his kingdom is what was meant by my comments on 2 Chronicles 11:18-21. And because there was such an advantage in having many of his own flesh and blood offspring to be stationed in places of importance, he desired many wives.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 2 Chronicles 11". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/2-chronicles-11.html.
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