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CRITICAL NOTES.] Rehoboam forbidden to war (2 Chronicles 11:1-4). This section a repetition in abbreviated form of 1 Kings 12:21-24. Remainder of chapter new matter. Rehoboam fortifies many towns (2 Chronicles 11:5-12); receives accessions from Israel (2 Chronicles 11:13-17); and takes many wives and concubines (2 Chronicles 11:18-23).
2 Chronicles 11:1-4.—The forbidden war. Fight to crush the rebellion. Fourscore thousand about one-third of Judah’s number under Joab’s levy (2 Samuel 24:9). Shem. (1 Kings 12:22-24); all Israel in Judah and Benjamin now united together.
2 Chronicles 11:5-12.—Defensive measures. Jerusalem, a judicious step, unlike northern kings, who shifted their capital. Built, repaired and fortified; fifteen given. Beth., Et., and Tek. near together, a little south of Jericho, on way to Hebron. 2 Chronicles 11:7. Beth-zur, a strong position about five miles north of Hebron, on route between that place and Jerusalem. It played an important part in the wars of the Maccabees (1Ma. 4:29-61; 1Ma. 6:7-26, &c.) [Speak. Com.]. Shoca, now Sumeikeh, three-and-a-half hours south-west of Jerusalem. Adul (Joshua 15:35). 2 Chronicles 11:8. Gath. Exact site not known. Mares. (Joshua 15:44). Its importance appears in the invasion of Zerah (ch. 2 Chronicles 14:9); and from 1Ma. 5:66; 2Ma. 12:35. Modern name Marash. Ziph. Two of this name in Judah (Joshua 15:24-55). This famous in David’s history (1 Samuel 23:14-24; 1 Samuel 26:2-25). Exact site appears to be the modern Til Zif, about three miles south of Hebron [Speak. Com.]. 2 Chronicles 11:9. Ador., Adora or Dora, now Dora, west of Hebron (Joshua 15:24). Lackish, now Um-Lakish. Azekah (Joshua 10:10). 2 Chronicles 11:10. Zor. (1 Chronicles 2:53), now Surah; and Aij., now Yalo, further north than other cities here mentioned. Both in territory originally assigned to Dan (Joshua 19:41-42), but afterwards absorbed into Judah [Speak. Com]. Judah and Benjamin, now the designation of southern kingdom (cf. 2 Chronicles 11:12; 2 Chronicles 11:23). 2 Chronicles 11:11. Oil, odoriferous; wine, sweet, used by ancient Jews and modern Arabs; healthy and useful in hot climates (cf. Psalms 104:15).
2 Chronicles 11:13-17.—Accessions. Left, ejected from their office because they would not minister to Jeroboam’s calves, who appointed priests not Levites. Suburbs (cf. Numbers 35:1-8). High places, i.e., Dan and Bethel (cf. 1 Kings 12:28-33); a kind of contemptuous description as not equal to temple at Jerusalem, only on a level with those in other parts. 2 Chronicles 11:15. Devils, a term sometimes used for idols in general (Leviticus 17:7); here applied distinctively to the goat-deities, which were probably worshipped chiefly in the northern parts of the kingdom, where the heathen Canaanites still abounded [Jamieson]. 2 Chronicles 11:17. Strengthened by numbers and moral tone of excellent subjects; but sad change noted in king next chapter.
2 Chronicles 11:18-23. Rehoboam’s wives and children. Jerimoth not given among legitimate sons of David, hence son of concubine. Read David and of Abihail. Mother as well as father of Mah. is given. Daughter of E., probably “grand-daughter,” since an actual daughter of E. must have been too old to be a fit wife for Rehoboam. 2 Chronicles 11:20. Daughter, grand-daughter of Abs. (cf. ch. 2 Chronicles 13:2). 2 Chronicles 11:21. Threescore (cf. Song of Solomon 6:8 and 2 Chronicles 13:21). 2 Chronicles 11:22. Chief, though not eldest of his sons. Affection for M. led him to violate the law. Wisely, prudently with calculation (Exodus 1:10). Many wives. Rehoboam careful to please his sons by making them governors of fortresses, and “sought for them a multitude of wives” (marg.); perhaps from cities over which they were set. In Persia and Turkey, younger princes, until lately, were shut up in the harem during their father’s lifetime; and to prevent competition, were blinded or killed when their brother ascended the throne. In former country the old practice of dispersion through the country, like Rehoboam, has been again revived [Jamieson].
THE RESTRAINTS OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE.—2 Chronicles 11:1-4
Events concerning kingdom of Judah chiefly given after revolt of ten tribes. Rehoboam determined to enter disaffected provinces; but divine decree gone forth, the army overawed, dispersed, and the king obliged to submit.
I. Restraints unmistakably clear. “The word came to Shem.,” and was spoken “unto Rehoboam.” Prophets gave no uncertain sound in either kingdom. Divine interposition most clear. No visions, no voices now; but around and in us as we fight in life, a power above the wiles and schemes of men, secret, invisible influences, deep impressions, and mysterious thoughts, amounting almost to divine revelations, to check or prompt. “Thou shalt not go up.”
II. Restraints merciful in design. “Nor fight against your brethren.” Nations and tribes bound by natural ties; man-kinned (mankind) should help each other. “Quarrel with your faults and not with our fellow-men,” was the motto of Otho II., Emperor of Germany. “Man’s inhumanity to man” is great. If Alexanders, Cæsars, and Napoleons were not restrained, the world would become a pandemonium. God careful of human life and human weal, prevents disgrace, mischief, and bloodshed. Men seek to destroy peace, injure reputation and property. “Revenge is wild justice,” says Bacon. “Say not thou I will recompense evil; but wait on the Lord and he shall save thee.”
III. Restraints timely made. God times events and interpositions; permits much show and great progress, as in Jeroboam’s preparations. Why restrained when army assembled, everything ready and about to march with every prospect of success? Has God been consulted? Education, preparations, and enterprises of no avail, if not for him. A thousand forces may be enlisted, simply to be sent home again! We may form our programme, set an object in view, adapt our means and arrange time to attain it. Just when attainment near, lo! deprivation, disappointment. “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.”
IV. Restraints implicitly heeded. The prophet represented God. The event could not be changed. “They hearkened,” disbanded, and went home. Another power beside Judah and Israel must be recognised. Folly to resist, to fight against God! Motives, arguments, to acquiesce in arrangements of Providence are unanswerable. “Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth,” but “woe unto him that striveth with his Maker.”
DEFENSIVE MEASURES.—2 Chronicles 11:5-12
Rehoboam forbidden to aggress, undertakes to defend the frontiers of his kingdom. “He built cities for defence.” The verb denotes fortification of cities; “partly,” says Hengstenberg, “because in the case of a city already in existence, the building must necessarily have been restricted to the fortification of it, and partly because the term city, in its fullest extent, involves the idea of fortification.”
I. He protected against great dangers.
1. From the attack of Israel. Disruption of tribal unity brought danger and enemies within. Israel restless and allied with Egypt.
2. From Egyptian bondage. From this quarter greatest danger. Out of fifteen cities all but three, on southern or western frontier. “And now, for the first time since the Exodus, Judah was once more threatened with an Egyptian bondage” [Stanley].
II. He displayed great Wisdom
1. In retaining the capital. “Rehoboam dwelt in Jerusalem” (2 Chronicles 11:5). Unlike kings of Israel, who shifted their capital from place to place for convenience and policy, he perceived importance of retaining hold on the city of David. This central fortress surrounded by a chain of fortresses, in part to carry out the designs of his father, in part to increase his strength.
2. In fortifying the kingdom. Reduced by secession, he sought to keep what he possessed. He rebuilt, garrisoned, and provided with arms and stores to stand a siege. If we cannot attack, we can perhaps build; if not recover lost privileges, we may defend what we have. “That good thing (goodly deposit) which was committed unto thee, keep (guard, cf. 1 Timothy 6:20) by the Holy Ghost, which dwelleth in us” (2 Timothy 1:14).
III. He illustrated great principles. Under these measures are hidden powerful principles in human life.
1. The power of conscience. Accused of doing wrong, he now fears further mischief. A guilty conscience gives timidity, creates a panic, and expects retaliation when “no man pursueth.” “Suspicion always haunts the guilty mind.”
2. The tendency to aggressive war. Jeroboam took similar precautions to Rehoboam (1 Kings 12:25). Kings ambitious and plunge into war. “He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife.” Who can tell the strifes and wars thus created?
“Towns turned to ashes, fanes involved in fire!
These deeds the guilt of rash ambition tell.”
2. Lack of faith in God. This leads to self-sufficiency, mischievous enterprises and failure. In personal salvation and national deliverances, weak is an arm of flesh. “Some remember (trust, glory in remembrance of) chariots, and some remember horses, but we will remember the name of the Lord our God” (Psalms 20:7).
CONSCIENTIOUS SCRUPLES.—2 Chronicles 11:13-17
Jeroboam, afraid of reunion of the tribes, took measures to make separation final. He introduced calf-worship in Bethel and Dan, two distinct places at opposite ends of his kingdom. He selected priests from the lowest of the people, thus weakened his kingdom and caused many worthy men to migrate to Judah, who, faithfully attached to the worship of Jehovah, could not conscientiously bow to idols.
I. In refusing to worship idols. They remembered the injunction, “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor worship them.” Daniel’s companions were steadfast.
II. In braving the results of their conduct. The wrath of the king, and the ridicule of the tribes; ejection from their office, persecution and exile. “The emperor commands thee to do sacrifice,” said the Proconsul to Cyprian; “therefore consult for thy welfare.” “I am a Christian,” was the heroic reply; “and I cannot sacrifice to your gods; do, therefore, what you are commanded; as for me, in so just a cause there needs no consultation.”
III. In seeking to worship God according to conscience. They desired a purer worship and sought a more convenient place; left their suburbs and their possessions, and came to Judah and Jerusalem. (Pilgrim Fathers.) In the conduct of these priests and people we have—
1. A conscience to acknowledge. Some in authority do not recognise it. Conscience the vicegerent of God, omnipotent, can never be crushed. Kings may control movements of body, but never alter convictions of soul. Neither fraud nor force can make good men disobey behests of conscience.
2. A precedent to follow. Men may urge customs of the people and fashions of the nation; expediency and personal obligations to superiors; the dangers of singularity and terrible penalty of our choice, but we must be faithful: “Dare to do right.” “We ought to obey God rather than men.”
THE STRENGTH AND ATTRACTION OF A KINGDOM.—2 Chronicles 11:3; 2 Chronicles 11:13-17
I. In the unity of its Subjects. By blood Benjamin more closely related to Ephraim than Judah. All traditions of Benjamin antagonistic to Judah. Now estrangement and feud ceased. Religious and political capital established on border line. Two tribes unite, and prepare for defence. Danger unites all ranks together. (Elizabeth and Spanish Armada.)
II. In the purity of its worship. Benjamin attached to temple worship. Priests and Levites migrated in large numbers to the southern kingdom for purer worship and safety. Recognition of God greater security than armies and fleets; moral vigour more attractive than extensive trade.
III. In the righteousness of its rule. Wise to strengthen cities and defend forts; better to consolidate the throne in rectitude. Numbers give physical strength, but just concessions and righteous laws support and safeguard the nation. Jeroboam’s kingdom weakened, Rehoboam’s strengthened.
THE FAMILY AND DOMESTIC POLICY OF REHOBOAM.—2 Chronicles 11:18-23
Danger past, indulgence began. The domestic policy of Rehoboam might be worldly wise, but it was sinful.
I. The family was founded in disobedience to God. The royal harem inferior to his father’s, equally in violation of the law.
1. In multiplying wives. (a) For himself; (b) For his sons. Wives not strangers, but daughters of Israel, and of family of David, yet forbidden. “Neither shall he multiply wives to himself.”
2. In choice of a favourite son. He set aside eldest son, preferred Abijah in fondness for his mother. Solomon had divine warrant, but in destining youngest for kingdom the king violated the law (Deuteronomy 21:15-16). “They have set up kings, but not by me; they have made princes, and I knew it not.”
II. The family was governed by worldly policy. “He dealt wisely”—i.e., with deep and calculating policy (Exodus 1:10). “Rehoboam’s wisdom was shown—
1. In dispersing his other sons instead of allowing them to remain together in Jerusalem, where they might have joined in a plot against Abijah, as Adonijah and his brothers did against Solomon (1 Kings 1:5-10).
2. In giving his sons positions which might well content them, and prevent them from being jealous of Abijah” [Speak. Com.]. Rivalry prevented, public peace and safety secured, not by worldly sagacity and bestowment of patronage. Trust in God and loyalty to his commands the best policy.
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
2 Chronicles 11:13-16. The duty of Protestants. This will lead me to set before you—I. The conduct of Protestants in that day.
1. In it they bore testimony against the reigning abominations;
2. They steadfastly adhered to the service of their God;
3. They renounced all for conscience sake. II. Our duty as Protestants at the present day.
1. We should realise our own religious principles;
2. We should show their superior efficacy to sanctify the heart and life. Address those
(1) Who are conforming to this world; and
(2) Those who are like the Israelites, setting their hearts fully to seek the Lord their God [C. Simeon].
2 Chronicles 11:16.
1. God the object of search. The sublimest and most needful in creation. The foundation of all religion and strength.
2. The search sincere. Heart, all the heart thrown into it.
3. The search steadfast. The heart fixed, determined, purposed. No hesitancy, wandering, and half-heartedness. “Qui tradiderunt cor suum, who delivered up their hearts to seek the Lord; to run any hazard rather than violate conscience. Such were the English exiles in Queen Mary’s days, from whom Stephen Gardiner vowed so to stop sending of all supplies that for very hunger they should eat their own nails, and then feed on their fingers’ ends; but ‘threatened folk live long,’ and before these banished men were brought to that bill of fare, the Bishop was eaten up of worms” [Trapp].
These verses describe the condition of the northern kingdom in Jeroboam’s time.
1. Disgraced by calf-worship.
2. Lacking the principal thing. Seats of worship, no true sanctuaries, for the ark, the symbol of God’s presence wanting. Not “the house of God,” but “a house of high places.”
3. Weakened by emigration. Innovations drove the best from the country. The king went from bad to worse.
2 Chronicles 11:17. Three years, &c. Temporary Religion. This a brief description of the spirit of his reign. I. Period of profession. By apostasy of ten tribes, and the belief that the thing proceeded from God as a punishment for Solomon’s idolatry, the king brought to reflection and obedience. This only temporary. When kingdom sufficiently fortified, and he thought himself secure, he forsook the law of Jehovah, and all Israel with him (ch. 2 Chronicles 12:1). Many fall away, some before, and others after three years of profession. “Ye did run well, who did hinder?” II. The period of apostasy. In prosperity or security. When no dangers nigh. In heart unfaithful, though external worship undisturbed (ch. 2 Chronicles 29:28). High places, monumental stones and idols, disfigured the land. Apostasy more grievous than before. The first three years walked in the way of David; in the fourth year, decline which neutralised all advantages of immigration, and in the fifth year punishment by invasion and success of Shishak (2 Chronicles 12:2). Such the course of life!
2 Chronicles 11:18-22. A Family Record. In which we find—
1. Kindred mixed together. All three wives of David’s family, and his own kindred.
2. Partiality displayed. “Rehoboam loved Maachah” (2 Chronicles 11:22) for beauty or conformity to his wicked practices.
3. Numbers in abundance. “Eighteen wives and threescore concubines, and begat twenty-and-eight sons and threescore daughters.” The family a divine institution, should be the best of kingdoms and a type of heaven.
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 11
2 Chronicles 11:1-5. Ye shall not go. Little can we at the beginning of an action guess at God’s intention at the conclusion [Bishop Hall]. It is one of the greatest praises of God’s wisdom that he can turn the evil of men to his own glory [Ibid.].
2 Chronicles 11:13-15. Worship cast off. Whatever is morally wrong cannot be politically right [Burke]. We never do evil so thoroughly and cordially as when we are led to it by a false principle of conscience [Pascal].
“Not thou, O Lord, from us, but we
Withdraw ourselves from thee”
2 Chronicles 11:14-16. Left, &c. The good men in a kingdom counteract the tendency to anarchy and disruption. “Righteousness exalteth a nation.” The guarantee of a nation’s progress and stability is to be found, not in the invincibility of its armies, not in the vastness of its commerce, not in the genius, the learning, or the wealth of its citizens, but in the sound morality and religious sentiment of the people [Dr. Thomas].
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 11". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30