This chapter begins the fourth and last great division of the work once called in its unity, "The Chronicles." This fourth and last division, therefore, will see us to the end of our 2 Chronicles 36:1-23; where we find, by an historical anticipation of above fifty years, the memorable proclamation of Cyrus, which authorized the return of the captive Jews, and sanctioned the rebuilding of the temple. This stretch of history, divided in our Authorized Version into twenty-seven chapters, covers, therefore, a period of about four hundred and fifty years; it ignores almost totally the career of Israel, and, in clearest accord with its post-captive and prophetic objects, abides uninterruptedly by that of the sacred dynasty of Judah. The kings are in number twenty, beginning with Rehoboam, ending with Zedekiah, of whom, however, the last four can be credited with but little semblance of independent authority, for they were the alternate vassals of the rival and antagonistic powers of Egypt and Assyria. The longest reigns of the twenty were those of Manasseh; of Uzziah or Azariah; of Asa; of Jehoash; of Josiah; of Hezekiah; of Amaziah (twenty-nine years, b.c.838-809); of Jehoshaphat; and of Rehoboam. The last of the mournful procession was Zedekiah, who was mocked with the title for eleven years. In the dates of this chronology, though slight differences are found, there is little room for variation when once the initial and, in consequence, final dates are fixed. The line of succession is hereditary throughout, and almost entirely of strict lineal descent, i.e. from father to son, if we except, first, the interruption caused by the Queen Athaliah, mother of her predecessor Ahaziah; secondly, Joash, her grandson and successor, who was son of Ahaziah; thirdly, Jehoiachim (so named by the King of Egypt, but formerly named Eliakim), who was brother of his predecessor Jehoahaz; and, fourthly, Zedekiah (or Mattaniah), who was the paternal uncle (2 Kings 24:17) of his predecessor Jehoiachin, and who was put on the throne by Nebuchadnezzar, against whom he in due time rose in rebellion, and by whom he was sent captive to Babylon, after seeing his sons slain, and having thereupon his own eyes put out. After him them was no more a king in Judah. It will be obvious that, if the years marking the duration of the succeeding reigns be summed up, we shall obtain too large a result, as they often or always overlapped one another, and, of course, did not fall into exact years. The initial date we take as b.c. 979, and the final date at the end of Zedekiah's eleven years, culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem, as b.c. 587. Some chronologies quote these dates, however, b.c. 975-588. Side by side with these preliminary notes respecting Judah, it may be stated that the initial and final dates for the separate kingdom of the ten tribes, Israel, with their nineteen kings, were b.c. 979 (975) to the date of Samaria taken, b.c. 719, or (as some would date the overthrow of Israel) b.c. 722 or 721. It need scarcely be said that, if forty years are added for the reign of Solomon, and forty years for that of David, we shall be conducted to the date of either b.c. 1059 or 1055 as the beginning of the Davidic royal line, and may count the duration of that royal line as numbering about 472 years. An interesting table, showing some slight differences of date, may be found in pp. 53, 54 of the second edition of Conder's 'Handbook to the Bible.'
The verses of this chapter, nineteen in number, correspond with those of 1 Kings 12:1-19. They so correspond as to convince us that both writers took from one original, or, at any rate, one former source. But they are particularly instructive also in another direction. Our 1 Kings 12:2 and 1 Kings 12:3 are in order, and quite intelligible. 1 Kings 12:2 and 1 Kings 12:3 of the parallel are not so, and convince us either that the carelessness of copyists was more than usual (even when our Authorized Version "of it" is cancelled) or, which is a by far less acceptable supposition, that the carelessness of the compiler or writer was great. Though these two lengths of nineteen verses each so closely correspond as to show both indebted to one former source, they also evince clearly that neither writer absolutely bound himself by the exact words of his pattern, but took the meaning, and slightly altered, so to say, grammar and syntax of sentences.
2 Chronicles 10:1
This verse would have been far better placed last in the previous chapter, but now, left without note of time, it purports to tell us that (whereas by the last clause of the previous chapter "Rehoboam reigned in his" father Solomon's "stead," and had been presumably accepted as his heir and successor in Jerusalem and all Judaea) Rehoboam, now somewhat later on, repairs to Shechem (the ancient capital, and the prized position of the high-spirited tribe of Ephraim) to receive some final recognition as king from "all Israel." Rehoboam. Solomon's son by Naaraah; an Ammonite princess (1 Kings 14:21, 1 Kings 14:31). Eurydemus may be considered as a close reproduction in Greek of the Hebrew name Rehoboam. To his son Abijah, by his favourite wife Maachah, who was the third of the wives that belonged to the house of Jesse, he bequeathed the kingdom. Wanting any positive Scripture statement of the matter of Rehoboam going to Shechem, we believe the explanation given above is the most probable, and that it was not any designed stroke of policy, with the view of conciliating or flattering Ephraim. Though no formal statement of it be made here, yet it is quite intelligible that the opinions, feelings, and readiness to express them on the part of Ephraim and "Israel" were well enough known, and had to be reckoned for. Shechem. For many reasons one of the most interesting geographical names in all the Old Testament. It was the ancient capital, as Shiloh, near to it, was the ancient seat of the national worship. It was situate in Ephraim, with Ebal to the immediate north, and Gerizim to the immediate south. Its upper slopelands (its position on which is possibly the origin of the name, שֶׁכֶם, "a shoulder" commanded a view of the Mediterranean. It was the half-way resting-place, at the end of the second day's journey, for travellers from Galilee to Jerusalem, and hence bore the name in later times, it is thought, of Mabertha, or Mabartha ( מַעֲבַרְתָּא), Pliny's Mamortha. Vespasian subsequently named it Neapolis, the modern Nablous. The Authorized Version synonyms of Shechem appear as Sichem, Sychem, Sychar (John 4:5, John 4:20). In post-Captivity times, a new temple on Gerizim was the cathedral of Samaritan worship, which was levelled by John Hyrcanus, B.C. 129. Jacob's well is a hall: mile south-east, and Joseph's tomb two miles east (Joshua 24:32). Almost every one of the references to Shechem are of great interest on one account or another, and to turn to each of them in order is to read the Scripture narrative of the place. The leading references are subjoined (Genesis 12:6; Genesis 33:18, Genesis 33:19; Genesis 34:1-31.; Genesis 35:1-4; Genesis 37:12, Genesis 37:28; Genesis 43:22; Genesis 49:5-7; Deuteronomy 27:11; Joshua 9:1-27 :33-35; Joshua 20:7; Joshua 21:20, Joshua 21:21; Joshua 24:1, Joshua 24:25, Joshua 24:32; 9:7, 9:22, 9:34-45; 21:1; 2 Kings 17:5, 2 Kings 17:6, 2 Kings 17:24; 2 Kings 18:9; 1 Chronicles 6:67; 1 Chronicles 7:28; Ezra 4:2; Jeremiah 41:5; John 4:5; Acts 7:16; Acts 8:5). The article "Shechem," by Dr. Hackett, in Dr. Smith's 'Bible Dictionary,' vol. 3. pp. 1234-1240, is of exceptional interest. All Israel. No doubt this expression may mean even here the assemblage of the federated twelve tribes. Considering the immediate recurrence of the expression in verse 3, it must be, however, that the Jeroboam party of the ten tribes (headed by the strong and self-conscious Ephraimites) are especially in view; in point of fact, of course, all the twelve tribes were represented in the gathering of verse 1. There can be no division of opinion about this, though the meeting be represented as one demanded or occasioned by the attitude of Israel, in the lesser comprehension of the name.
2 Chronicles 10:2, 2 Chronicles 10:3
In these verses the compiler brings up lost time. He has not mentioned before the name of Jeroboam, just as he has not mentioned the lustful sins of Solomon that led to idolatry, and these sequel idolatries of his, that heralded the shattering of his kingdom immediately on his decease. So we are now told all in one how Jeroboam, in his refuge-retreat in Egypt (1 Kings 11:26-40), "heard" of Solomon's demise, and apparently (see first clause of our third verse) heard of it in this wise, that "they," i.e. the "all Israel" (of our first verse) "had sent and called him" Probably the growing sense of discontent and the rankling in those tribes that were not closely breathing the atmosphere of Jerusalem and the one home county, because of their burdens and taxation, and possibly also Ephraim's ancient and famed rivalry, knew instinctively that this hour of Solomon's death was the hour, if any, of their redemption. The lacunae in the history speak for themselves; for though the tribes, after the long seething of their com-plainings and sufferings, needed but short time for deliberation, Solomon's death must have been an accomplished fact before they (whoever the "they" were) sent to Egypt to Jeroboam; and that sending and his returning or otherwise, at any rate his hearing and consequent returning, must have taken time. Considering all this, it is remarkable that no note of time is found. But had only our first verse been placed as the last of the foregoing chapter, the ambiguity would have been less. For the strange variations on the history of Jeroboam (a name, together with that of Rehoboam, new to Solomon's time, meaning "many-peopled," while Rehoboam signifies "increaser of people"), as found in the Hebrew texts, and additions to it, see the Septuagint Version, 1 Kings 11:43; 1 Kings 12:24; and A. P. Stanley's article, "Jeroboam," in Dr. Smith's 'Bible Dictionary,' 1. 979, 980; and comp. again 1 Kings 11:26-40; 1 Kings 12:25; 1 Kings 14:13, 1 Kings 14:17, 1 Kings 14:18. Stanley's faith in the Septuagint notwithstanding, its variations and additions are not reconcileable enough with either the Hebrew text or themselves to command anything like unfeigned acceptance. One thing may be considered to come out without much obscurity or uncertainty—that Jeroboam was the acknowledged rather than tacit leader of an opposition that was tacit at present rather than acknowledged; nor is it at all improbable, under all the circumstances, that the Rehoboam party in, knowing well how the ground really lay, were as content to let the coronation, so to call it, at Shechem linger awhile for Jeroboam's return, as Jeroboam's opposition party out desired and perhaps compelled the delay. Of course, Jeroboam knew well, none better than he, as of old the overseer of the forced labour and taxation of Ephraim (1 Kings 11:28; 1 Kings 9:15), how grievous the service and how heavy the yoke to his people, even when he had acquitted himself as the most "industrious" of taskmasters.
2 Chronicles 10:4
The grievous servitude … heavy yoke. These may, for conciseness' sake, be supposed to correspond with the naturally enough hated "forced labour" (1 Kings 4:6, 1 Kings 4:7; 1 Kings 5:13-16; 1 Kings 11:27, 1 Kings 11:28) and the burdensome "taxes" (1 Kings 4:19-28) which had not failed to become more odious to the people as familiarity with them grew. The refreshing New Testament contrast to all this (Matthew 11:28-30) will occur to every memory.
2 Chronicles 10:5
This first reply of Rehoboam was not necessarily inauspicious. Yet sometimes, as it proved now, the caution that takes time to consider heralds fatal mistake. This is when either a generous, instinctive impulse, asking an instantaneous obedience, is chilled by some self-regard; or yet worse, when the offended Spirit is restrained, and no inner guiding voice is heard, as Saul found, to his ruin.
2 Chronicles 10:6
The old men who had stood before Solomon his father while he yet lived. The first practical step now taken by Rehoboam, if he delay at all, is the right and far from inauspicious step. O si sic omnia that followed after! The "old men" here spoken of, and not before distinctly spoken of, need not necessarily be regarded as professional advisers of Solomon, nor as a privy council of slate; they may designate those of like age with him, or but little his juniors, and with whom he had chiefly associated for his own society.
2 Chronicles 10:7, 2 Chronicles 10:8
Rehoboam was now (1 Kings 14:21; 2 Chronicles 12:13; but cf. 2 Chronicles 13:7) forty-one years of age; he was just too old to find any excuse for inability to gauge either the experience, and value of it, of the "old," or the inexperience, and foolishness of it, of the immature human heart. According to the modern phrase, he was just ripe to have known and bethought himself of this. But all rashly Rehoboam casts the die. The sound judgment, real knowledge, opportune and practical advice of the "old men," uttered evidently off so kind a tongue, should have been indeed now "as good as an inheritance; yea, better too". The reading of the parallel is well worthy to be noted (1 Kings 11:7), with its manifestly pleasantly and skilfully worded antithesis, "If thou this day will be a servant to this people … then they will be thy servants for ever." Our words, however, have their own exquisite beauty about them, If thou wilt be kind to this people, and please them, and speak good words to them. One might fancy that Saul, and David, and Solomon, and angels themselves bended over the scene, and looked and listened and longed for wisdom and love and right to prevail. The young men that had grown up with him. While this expression throws light as above on that which speaks of Rehoboam's old men counsellors, it wakens the question how men of forty-one years of age can be called "young," as Rehoboam was not living in patriarchal aged times. And the question is emphasized by the language applied to Rehoboam in 2 Chronicles 13:7, where he is described as "young and tenderhearted," and unable, for want of strength of character and of knowledge, to "withstand vain men" (as he surely shows too clearly now). It has been suggested ('Speaker's Commentary,' 2.562, Note C) that כא (21) should be read for מא (41) in the two passages quoted above (1 Kings 14:21; 2 Chronicles 12:13). The suggestion seems good, and it is certainly reasonable for the requirements of both matter and manner.
2 Chronicles 10:10, 2 Chronicles 10:11
Language perhaps never spoke more clearly what was in man. And it spoke in this ease the mad infatuation of insolent temerity itself.
2 Chronicles 10:12
It may be worth observing that the history is silent of what of hope and fear or other thought and feeling transpired with Jeroboam and his party these three critical days of suspense, as also it was so silent as to what transpired with them during the three days, three weeks, three months, before the first interview with Rehoboam at Shechem.
2 Chronicles 10:13
Roughly; i.e. Rehoboam had not "heard the instruction of a father," and had been an ill pupil indeed of him who wrote and taught, "A soft answer tumeth away wrath" (Proverbs 15:1).
2 Chronicles 10:15
So the king hearkened not … for the cause was of God … his word, which he spake by … Ahijah (see, as before, 1 Kings 11:29-31, also 9-39). Rehoboam hearkened not, as Pharaoh hearkened not, but hardened his heart. The Divine word foretold, as the Divine mind foreknew, the inevitable course of the stream, that took its source in and from Solomon's faithless heart and life. Solomon "being dead yet" bears his full share of the responsibility of what Rehoboam was, and shortly came to show he was. Everything must fall out as God foretells it shall fall out, not because "the cause is from him" in this sense that he has made it, but in the sense that he has pronounced it, through knowing it with an absolute knowledge. It were but a thing to be expected also, that just in the measure that the Bible is the Word of God, it shall exhibit and pronounce plainly the phenomena of his own ultimate fiats, rather than linger to track or describe the uncertainties of human morality or conduct. Let but that result appear, which God has with his sure and abiding Word declared, and the practical attitude and language of Scripture are that it is vain to fight against it; for the thing is of God. It was known of him and said of him. And it carries its punishment or its recompense in it, as of him. It will be noticed, again, how our compiler refers to the incident of Ahijah, as though he had recorded it, which he had not done.
2 Chronicles 10:16
What portion have we in David? (see 2 Samuel 20:1). To your tents, O Israel; i.e. there is nothing more to be done here; all may as well go home. The use, and especially repeated use, of the names, David, Jesse, David, plainly speaks tribe rivalry, if not jealousy.
2 Chronicles 10:17
To the tribe of Judah the family of David belonged. There was less inclination on this ground, to begin with, among them to go to the length of revolting. Though they too are pressed with burden and taxation, yet royal expenditure, residence, magnificence, are all near them, and are some solarium doubtless to them. God said that this tribe and (as is abundantly evident from Ahijah's forcibly dramatic parable of the rent garment) Benjamin also should be saved to Rehoboam and for ever to David's line, and again it is evident that he works in the midst of human event, and moral cause and effect. Israel would not have revolted but that Jeroboam was of Ephraim, and Judah would not have remained steadfast but that, with other determining influences also, to Judah belonged Rehoboam and Solomon and David.
2 Chronicles 10:18
Hadoram that was over the tribute … stoned him … Rehoboam made speed … to flee. Hadoram was perhaps the same as Adoniram, son of Abda (1 Kings 4:6; 1 Kings 5:14), but on the arbitrament of age this is less likely, and certainly it is very unlikely that he was one with Hadoram of 2 Samuel 20:24. Rehoboam must be supposed to have sent Hadoram either to make some "tribute" summons, or try some arrangement respecting it, or respecting conciliatory steps. The reception he met warns Rehoboam to make the quickest escape possible, and no doubt opens his eyes fully to what he has done. It was the remanet of his delusive self-confidence to send this collector of taxes to those who had begged some remission of taxation.
2 Chronicles 10:19
Unto this day. So our compiler of Captivity and post-Captivity date transcribes the literal words of his copy.
2 Chronicles 10:1-19
A notable and very mournful instance of lacking wisdom through not asking of God.
The compiler of the Chronicles, in the pursuit of the special objects which he had in view, feels that he need lose no time in details, or in parts of the whole history, which were to be found elsewhere, but which were less important to his own object. The fifteenth verse of this chapter supplies us with an instance of this, its reference to Ahijah the Shilonite finding full explanation in the fuller parallel (1 Kings 11:29-40). Our own familiarity with the mournful history and mournful needlessness of the schism, and the method in which it was brought about, which is the subject of this chapter, seems to lose for us nothing of that same mournfulness. Men may make use of the contents of this portion of the history of Israel (as of other portions of Holy Scripture, which seem to trench on the unfathomable depth of the doctrine of God's election and fore-ordination) to find their (ever very easily found) theoretic difficulties, as unconcealedly suggested by the words of the above-quoted fifteenth verse. But it remains the same, that the election and the fore-ordaining of One who foreknows, and whose word of prophecy is as sure as the word of any other being after the event, are altogether different phenomena, different facts from what they otherwise should seem to be. Still, the central mystery must needs remain, before which we wonder, exercise faith, and silently adore, or we should not be creatures in the presence of the Creator. The history of this crisis of the nation highly favoured reminds us—
I. OF THE SURE WORD OF GOD. The forewarning, "Thou shalt surely die," was not more truly fulfilled than the forewarning made now, not a century and a quarter ago, that the nation that would have an earthly king would come to find, not its gain therein, but its loss. The dicta of revealed religion are great, simple, and eternal for man. And from instances on a universal scale, and then on a national scale, are we, as individuals, mercifully, most forcibly, and most graciously admonished.
II. THE ERRING UNCERTAINTY FIRST, AND THEN THE CERTAIN ERRINGNESS OF THE MAN WHO FAILS TO MAKE GOD AND RIGHT, DUTY AND TRUTH, HIS SWORN GUIDE. High place, high office, high responsibility,—these give the prominence which is needed to enforce the example of such truth. The deviation is not more real than in the humblest, lowliest life, but it is more conspicuous. Let us note, as circumstances bearing on the case, what follows.
1. Rehoboam must have had some forewarning of the place to which he was to come. Solomon's was not a sudden death, nor his son's a sudden, unexpected accession.
2. Rehoboam must have had some acquaintance with the severity of the oppression and servitude of the people as a whole, and probably some anticipation of the likelihood of the representations, which in fact they made to him, of their experiences.
3. These representations, and the manner in which they were brought before Rehoboam, were far from unreasonable.
4. Rehoboam, to all appearance, is disposed to begin by acting wisely. He will wait three days before replying. He will utilize that interval by asking the advice of the experienced. He asks it; it is given, and given rightly.
5. There can be little doubt that it was at this point that self and self-will showed themselves in Rehoboam. Perhaps he had already heard, already knew, the feeling and the reckless bias of the younger men—for it is significantly said they were of those who had been brought up with him, and who were his chief associates now—or otherwise, if his own inclination and will were strong enough of themselves, he did not lean to the judgment of the old men, and hoped for different advice from the younger men, though it were but the merest prop to his own wish. He asks their advice, and is flattered and is glad that it leaps with the thought of his own brave and bravado spirit! In this show of right-doing, in this superficial wisdom, so different from that special wisdom noted in his father, one fatal defect existed. He asked the advice of the old. That it might not be said he asked the advice of one class alone, he asked the advice of the young also. But he did not ask the advice of God, he did not pray for the direction of God. And his foot slipped; he stumbled and fell, and that fall was great. Two things were wrong with even his earthly wisdom. To ask the advice of the young at all was a mistake, and to a great extent even a contradiction in terms. For inevitably they were wanting in the experience which was necessary to draw upon for advice. To ask the advice of the young, after having asked and received that of the aged, was a greater mistake. It looked like a sham and a delusion, and a self-deception, and a craving after serf-deception; and such it was. It was an affront to common sense, an insult to his own conscience, and a sop thrown to self—that enemy which is often, very often, a man's worst, very worst enemy! Rehoboam asked advice of those persons who he knew wouldn't be above giving the advice which he wanted. So be, indeed, easily got what he wanted. So it may be said again God permitted him to have what he saw he was bent on having, as he permitted the people and nation to have, some hundred and twenty years before, the king they were bent on having. But he lived to rue the day, and rueing it still ever, he died. An unreasonable, a cruel, and a brutally insolent answer alienated once and for ever the hearts, service, and lives of the larger part of the people from their king; but a king who had disentitled himself. A very few days and he was a fugitive (2 Chronicles 10:18), though to his own capital—that capital one lamentably dismembered in its provinces. So stumble and. so fall, sooner or later, those who set at naught kindness, justice, God, to serve self, folly, and time present.
III. THE INFINITE RISK OF MISCHIEF IRREPARABLE THAT LURKS IN THE INTEMPERATE SIN, THE INTEMPERATE TEMPER, OR, PUT GENERALLY, THE INTEMPERATE ACTION, OF MEN IN AUTHORITY, BY REASON OF THE EASY EXCUSE FOR SCHISM, THE FACILE THOUGH SUPERFICIAL DEFENCE OF IT, THEREBY OFFERED TO THE VERY LIPS OF THOSE WHO ARE, OR OUGHT TO BE, UNDER THEIR AUTHORITY, AND WHO OTHERWISE WOULD HAVE REMAINED IN HAPPY UNQUESTIONING SUBORDINATION TO THAT AUTHORITY. The illustration and instance of this here is patent and glaring. The disaster was enormous. The long-trailed consequences were mournful, melancholy, miserable. The fault and sin of the ten tribes or their representatives are undeniable. Their sweet reasonableness of yesterday and three days ago is, unfortunately, not simply blown to the winds or evaporated into thin air—worse by far, it is converted into a determined breaking loose from some of the holiest bonds wherewith it is the mercy of Heaven to bind on earth. The kingdom of God is one; the Church of God is one; the people of God are one. Disguise it as laxity of creed may, disguise it as laxity of practice may, disguise it as the great ancient or even greater modern cleavages of apostasy may, the calamity is of the nature of an avalanche alike of faith and of good works, and ever buries beneath its disastrous debris, not bodies but souls innumerable, and of immeasurable worth. Hence the golden calves, instead of the One only Object of worship, without image or likeness. Hence Bethel and Dan, instead of Jerusalem without compare. Hence priests of the lowest life, i.e. without the credentials of devotion, love, Divine call and appointment. Hence, instead of the one altar, many, but these rended, their ashes poured out to the ground, and incense a rejected abomination, and all the long-drawn sequel of woe untraceable by human eye, irremediable by human power. Does not the world take more loss from the dissensions of the Church than all the Church takes from the united enmities of the world?
HOMILIES BY W. CLARKSON
2 Chronicles 10:1-4
Two young men.
These two young men, Rehoboam and Jeroboam—for we may regard them as such, though the former was forty years old when he began to reign—may be viewed together, as they were brought together, and may furnish us with some useful suggestions for the guidance of our life. We have them—
I. STARTING FROM DIFFERENT ENDS OF THE SOCIAL SCALE. Rehoboam born in the palace, born to the purple, surrounded with every luxury, accustomed to the utmost deference, expecting the greatest things. Jeroboam commencing his career almost at the bottom of the scale, losing his father when quite young, obliged to work hard to sustain his widowed mother, obtaining employment as a workman in connection with one of King Solomon's works, with "no prospects" in life.
II. MEETING MIDWAY IN THEIR CAREER. When they looked one another in the face at Shechem, what was it that each saw in the other? Probably the king's son saw in the son of Nebat a man who was clothed in presumption, who had forgotten his position, who was entertaining a daring and criminal purpose in his heart. And probably Jeroboam saw in the enthroned monarch a man who was unfitted for his post, unequal to the strain that would be put upon his powers, a feeble man who would prove an easy prey to his own designs. No kindly feeling, we may be sure, shone in the eyes of either prince or subject as they confronted one another that day at Shechem.
III. CHALLENGED TO MAKE A CHOICE ON A CRITICAL OCCASION. Rehoboam was now called upon to decide definitely what policy he would pursue in his administration—whether that of leniency and popularity, or that of stringency and force; whether he would "rule by love or fear." Jeroboam had, at this point in his life, to decide whether he would adopt the safe policy of continuing in retreat, or the bold and venturesome one of heading a national revolt, and being either crushed beneath the feet of authority or raised to the height of a successful revolution.
IV. DISAPPOINTING THE HOPES OF THEIR BEST FRIENDS. Singularly enough, the names of both these men signified "enlarger or multiplier of the people;" they pointed, probably, to the hopes of their parents concerning them. But though they both occupied the throne, and one of them rose to a much higher position than could have been anticipated at his birth, both men failed in the sight of God and in the estimate of the wise. The one by his folly estranged and lost the greater part of his kingdom; the other led Israel into shameful and ruinous apostasy.
1. Be not much affected by social position; very great advantages in this respect will not carry us far along the path of true success; without character their value will soon expire. On the other hand, great disadvantages may be overcome by industry, energy, patience, virtue.
2. Be prepared to make the decisive choice, whenever the critical moment may come. We cannot be sure when this will arrive, but there will come an hour—there may come more hours than one—when a decision has to be taken by us on which the gravest consequences, to ourselves or to others, will depend. Shall we then be equal to the occasion? Shall we be prepared to speak the wise word, to choose the right course, to take the step that will lead upward and not downward? This will depend on the character that we shall have been forming before that time comes. If we shall have been neglecting our opportunity and misusing our privileges, we shall then be found wanting; but if we shall have been gathering wisdom at every open source, we shall be able to speak, to act, to decide as God would have us do, as we shall afterwards thank God we did.
3. Aspire to fulfil the best hopes and prophecies of younger days. We may have a name, a reputation, to uphold. Our parents and teachers may be looking for good and even great things from us. Let us be earnest and eager to live such a life, that not only shall there be no painful discrepancy between the hope and the reality, but that there shall be a happy and satisfying correspondence between the two.—C.
2 Chronicles 10:4-14
The legacy of brilliance, etc.
We have here—
I. THE LEGACY OF BRILLIANCE. "Thy father made our yoke grievous" (2 Chronicles 10:4). No man ever had a nobler opportunity than Solomon had. His father handed to him a united nation, a country whose enemies were subdued, the kindly and helpful shadow of a great name and a beloved disposition and an illustrious career. He was endowed by God with great talent and surpassing wealth. He had before him an object of honourable ambition, which would be acceptable to Heaven and gratifying to his subjects. But, instead of pursuing the path of usefulness and the prize of a people's gratitude, he aimed at overwhelming splendour. And what did he gain by his pursuit? Forty years of selfish gratification, not undimmed by many cares, disappointments, difficulties, in his home (or harem) and in his court; and when he died he left a kingdom less compact, a dynasty less secure than he found when he took the reins of government from his father David. All his brilliance ended in a popular sense of injury, in a general consciousness that the people had been weighted with needlessly heavy burdens, with a store of suppressed popular discontent ready to burst out and blaze forth at the first opportunity. Brilliance is a very fascinating thing, whether it be on the throne or in parliamentary government, or in the courts of law, or in business, or in the school. But what is its end? To what issues does it lead? Usually it conducts to poverty, to serious error, to discomfiture, often to a catastrophe. But, where brilliance breaks down and is ruined, steady and conscientious faithfulness, under the guidance of heavenly wisdom, will succeed—will lead on to a real enrichment, to a lasting safety, to an honour that may be accepted and enjoyed.
II. THE WISDOM OF CONTEMPLATION AND CONSULTATION. "He said … Come again unto me after three days And he took counsel" (2 Chronicles 10:5, 2 Chronicles 10:6). It is, indeed, true that no good ultimately came of this delay and this consultation. But that was because Rehoboam consulted the wrong men. He did well in asking for time and in appealing to others at this critical juncture. Supposing that this demand took him by surprise, nothing would have been more foolish than to have given a reply offhand. A remonstrance is very likely to excite anger in the first instance, and no wise man will come to an important decision when he is out of temper. It is in the hour of complete self-control that we should settle grave matters affecting our destiny. Moreover, we do well to take the judgment of others. It was due to the nation that his father's wise statesmen should be asked for their advice in a great national crisis. It was due to himself that his inexperience should secure the inestimable advantage of their ripe sagacity. It is always due to ourselves that we get the additional light which can be gained from an impartial judgment. No man can possibly look at his own affairs in a perfectly pure atmosphere; no man can take an entirely unbiassed view of his own temporal interests. Men who look from outside see what we cannot possibly see, and their counsel is sure to be worth our consideration. "The physician who prescribes for himself, or the lawyer who advises himself, has a fool for his patient or for his client." This saying will hold good in every department of human action. Take time for thought, and invite the frank and full counsel of your true friends.
III. OUR TRUE COUNSELLORS. These are:
1. They who have had an opportunity of knowing. The young men whom Rehoboam consulted could have given him very good advice on some subjects, on those that belonged to their period of life—athletics, fashions, etc.; but of statesmanship what could they tell? We should take care to consult those who know, who have learned in the best schools.
2. They who give us frank rather than palatable counsel; who will tell us what they believe to be for the best, rather than that which will humour our own fancies.
3. They whose counsel makes for peace rather than for strife. There are times when the wisest will be for war, but in nine cases out of ten the true Christian advocate will urge conciliation and concord.—C.
2 Chronicles 10:18
Ignominy, its source and its avoidance.
For the son of Solomon and the grandson of David to meet the tribes of Israel in solemn assembly, and, after holding conference with them, to have his officer and ambassador scornfully stoned to death, and then to betake himself to his chariot with all speed and flee to Jerusalem,—this was a pitiable illustration of human ignominy. We Almost pity the abject prince for his misery as much as we blame him for his folly.
I. THE SOURCE OF IGNOMINY. What is it that brings men down to such dishonour? It is:
1. When they assume a position to which they are not entitled; when they take a higher place than they can fairly claim, and the "more honourable man" comes in to supplant them, and they "begin with shame to take the lower place" (Luke 14:9). An assumption of social or literary or ecclesiastical superiority, unwarranted by the facts, must sooner or later end in an ignominious surrender.
2. When they undertake a task for which they are unfitted. The son of Gideon wisely shrank from the act of execution for which his immaturity rendered him unfitted. "As the man is, so is his strength," said he. Youth must not undertake the task of manhood, nor ignorance that of learning, nor inexperience that of trained and proved ability, nor mental feebleness that of intellectual vigour, nor moral frailty that of spiritual strength. Else it will sustain an ignominious fall.
3. When they adopt a course which should have been scrupulously avoided. What could have been the result of such insensate folly as that of which Rehoboam had just been guilty but this ignominious flight? When his far stronger father had incensed the citizens by heavy and burdensome taxation, what a ruinous mistake it was for him to declare that he would go even further than Solomon himself had gone in this direction! To take a course which conflicts with men's natural rights, or which kindles their just indignation, or which wounds their keen susceptibilities, is to invite dishonour to our door; it is to robe our own shoulders with the mantle of shame.
4. When we credit ourself with a character which we have not gained; when we assume that we are in spirit and in principle what in truth we are not, that we have moral qualities which we really do not possess;—in this case, the dishonour that awaits us may come either in this world or the next.
II. THE AVOIDANCE OF IGNOMINY. If we would not be put to shame by our fellow-men or by the Divine Judge, we must do these things:
1. Study until we know ourselves; examine our hearts until we know what is in them—what is the spirit we are of, what are the principles at the root of our behaviour.
2. Be content with the position and the work which our heavenly Father has assigned us (see Psalms 84:10; Psalms 131:1).
3. Make continual and earnest supplication that God will reveal us to ourselves (Psalms 19:12; Psalms 139:23, Psalms 139:24). Then, instead of an ignominious retreat, our path will be that of the just, shining more and more; we shall advance from honour to honour; God himself will crown us with his Divine commendation.—C.
HOMILIES BY T. WHITELAW
2 Chronicles 10:1
The coronation of a king.
I. THE PERSON OF THE MONARCH. Rehoboam, the man "who enlarges the people," a name upon which his subsequent history was a satire.
1. The child of a heathen mother. This was Naamah, the Ammonitess (2 Chronicles 12:13; 1 Kings 14:31), a daughter of the last Ammonite king, Hanun, the son of Nahash (1 Chronicles 19:1, etc.). Rehoboam probably suffered in character and constitution from his taint of heathen blood.
2. The son of a distinguished father. Judged at the worst, Solomon was a great king, no less renowned for administrative faculty than for wisdom and wealth. The first two, it is clear, do not pass from sire to son by the law of heredity. A man may bequeath money to his son, but he is helpless in the matter of intellectual wealth. A king may hand on crown and throne to his descendant, but he cannot communicate capacity to rule.
3. The heir of an extensive empire. The sovereignty of the undivided kingdom and of all the tributary princes fell into his hands on his father's decease.
II. THE SCENE OF THE CORONATION. Shechem.
1. A spot of rare beauty. Eighteen hours distant from Jerusalem, and situated at the foot of Mount Gerizim, in the mountain range of Ephraim ( 9:7)—the modern Nablous, near the site of the ancient Shechem, "is the most beautiful, perhaps it might be said the only very beautiful spot in Central Palestine".
2. A scene of inspiring memories. Patriarchs had pitched tents and erected altars there (Genesis 12:6, Genesis 12:7; Genesis 33:18-20). Thither Joshua had convened the princes and elders, the heads and representatives of the people, when the conquest of Canaan had been completed, and made a covenant with them, setting them a statute and ordinance—so practically constituting Shechem the first capital of the ]and (Joshua 24:1, Joshua 24:25). There Joseph's bodes were consigned to a sepulchre in the parcel of ground which Jacob had bought of Hamor for a hundred pieces of silver (Joshua 24:32). There, on the two mountains which overlooked the valley, Gerizim and Ebal, had been placed the blessing and the curse as commanded by Jehovah (Deuteronomy 11:29, Deuteronomy 11:30; Joshua 8:31, Joshua 8:33). There also the first attempt, though unsuccessful, at king-making had been made ( 9:1).
3. A locality unauthorized for coronations. Stanley speaks of it as having been the custom, even after the erection of Jerusalem into the capital, to inaugurate new reigns at Shechem, citing as a modern parallel "the long continuance of Rheims, the ancient metropolitan city of France, as the scene of the French coronations''; but, as Rehoboam's is the only coronation that took place at Shechem (in addition to the above-mentioned crowning of Abimelech), one example, or even two, can hardly be said to constitute a custom. The proper place for carrying out such a second coronation as the northern tribes contemplated was Jerusalem, the metropolis of the entire kingdom, just as when they had acknowledged David's sovereignty (2 Samuel 5:1) they came to Hebron, at that time the capital of Judah. Besides, Rehoboam had already been crowned at Jerusalem, and in that act the northern tribes should have taken part. That they stood aloof and claimed for themselves a right of either acquiescing in or repudiating the sovereignty of Rehoboam shows, if not that they still had a right of free election to the crown, at least that their fusion with Judah was not so complete as, after seventy-three years, it might have been. Their intention, probably, was to acknowledge Rehoboam as king, but at the same time to assert their freedom by insisting on his compliance with certain demands and conditions. Hence they abstained from the national gathering at Jerusalem, and summoned Rehoboam to a new assembly at Shechem to receive their fealty as if they were a separate empire. "It was a significant hint to Rehoboam, if he had properly understood it" (Ewald).
III. THE GIVERS OF THE CROWN. All Israel The ten tribes as distinguished from Judah and Benjamin, which had already taken the oath of allegiance to the son of Solomon (2 Chronicles 9:31). The northern tribes, from the time of David's accession to the throne of Saul (2 Samuel 2:4), when they adhered to the sceptre of Ishbosheth, Saul's son (2 Samuel 2:10), had asserted a semi-national independence; this again, after having lain in abeyance for the greater part of a century, suddenly flamed up, and gave ominous outlook of trouble to the young prince.
1. Kings' crowns oftentimes conceal thorns.
2. Those thrones are stablest which rest on the free choice and affection of subjects.
3. Those peoples are best ruled whose sovereigns by their lives show they have been enthroned by God.—W.
2 Chronicles 10:2
The recall of an exile.
I. THE EXILE'S STORY.
1. His name. Jeroboam, "whose people are many;" the son of Nebat. His father was an Ephrathite of Zareda, in Ephraim; his mother a widow (1 Kings 11:26)—which may mean either that he had been born in unlawful wedlock (LXX.), or that his father had died while he was young, leaving him to be brought up by his widowed mother (Josephus).
2. His character. Courageous and industrious, "a mighty man of valour" ( 6:12; 11:1), and a man that did work (Proverbs 22:29)—two qualities befitting youth, and almost certain to bring temporal success in their train; two qualities that should never be absent from Christians, who are specially commanded to "add to their faith virtue, or courage" (2 Peter 1:5), and to "be not slothful in business" (Romans 12:10).
3. His promotion. Just when Jeroboam came to manhood, Solomon was engaged in building Millo, and closing up the breach in the city of David (1 Kings 9:15). For these purposes Solomon raised a levy of workmen, not of the Hittites, Amorites, etc. (2 Chronicles 8:7), but of Israelites, who worked by courses of ten thousand a month (1 Kings 5:13; 1 Kings 9:15); or imposed certain burdens in connection with those works which required to be borne by the Israelites. Discerning Jeroboam to be a capable youth, of spirit and energy, Solomon appointed him overseer or governor of all those Israelites employed in or about the works who belonged to the house of Joseph, i.e. who were Ephraimites.
4. His incipient rebellion. Serving in this office, he began to commune with his own thoughts about raising a revolt. Either as an Ephraimite he felt humiliated at being obliged to work in the capital of Judah, or being a youth of aspiring mind he was not content with the elevation suddenly thrust upon him, and wished to climb higher; but in any case, when the "mood" was on him, an incident occurred which, chiming in as it did with his own aspirations, pricked the sides of his intent, and bore him onwards in his dangerous career of ambition. That incident was his meeting with Ahijah the Shilonite, who told him that Jehovah intended to wrest ten tribes from the Davidic kingdom and give them to him, Jeroboam (1 Kings 11:29). A perilous communication for a youth like Jeroboam to carry about with him! Josephus states that it prompted him "to persuade the people to forsake Solomon, to make a disturbance, and to bring the government over to himself" ('Ant.,' 2 Chronicles 8:7.8).
5. His precipitate flight. His treason having come to the king's knowledge, he was obliged to save himself from well-merited execution by suddenly withdrawing from the land, and seeking refuge in Egypt under the sceptre of Shishak (see on 2 Chronicles 12:2).
II. THE EXILE'S RETURN.
1. Its date. When Solomon was dead. A king's life is sometimes a kingdom's best bulwark against revolution. So long as Solomon lived, insurrection under Jeroboam was impracticable. Yet a king's life may be the greatest barrier to the progress of a good work. Moses could not return to Egypt to resume his emancipation work until Rameses II. was dead (Exodus 2:23). Joseph could not return from Egypt with Mary and Jesus until Herod was dead (Matthew 2:19).
2. Its occasion. The invitation of the northern tribes (2 Chronicles 10:3). This, addressed to Jeroboam while at the court of Shishak (1 Kings 12:2; Josephus, ' Ant.,' 1 Kings 8:8. 1), was probably the medium through which he learnt of Solomon's decease. Not necessary to hold. that it was only despatched to Jeroboam after the tribes had assembled at Shechem (Bahr), since it may easily have been sent immediately on Solomon's death, between which event and the gathering at Shechem twelve months intervened. Jeroboam, however, is commonly supposed (Bertheau, Bahr) to have returned from Egypt ex proprio motu, and to have been residing with his wife and child at Zareda or Sarira, when summoned to Shechem. The suggestion (Keil) is probably correct that two invitations were addressed to Jeroboam—the first while he was yet in Egypt, to return to his native land; the second while he lingered at Zareda, to come to Shechem.
3. Its object. Whether of his own accord, or in obedience to the summons of the tribes, Jeroboam returned from Egypt; his ulterior aim, there can be little question, was to further his own ambitious projects.
1. The value to a young man of energy and talent.
2. The danger as well as sin of harbouring ambitious thoughts.
3. The hatefulness of treachery.
4. The possibility of a wicked man's schemes furthering God's designs.—W.
2 Chronicles 10:3-19
The loss of a kingdom.
I. A REASONABLE REQUEST PREFERRED, (2 Chronicles 10:3, 2 Chronicles 10:4.)
1. A public grievance stated. The northern tribes, through Jeroboam, complained to Rehoboam that Solomon had made their yoke grievous. Whether this was tree or not has been much debated.
2. A measure of relief demanded. "Make the heavy yoke of thy father lighter." Not only was this reasonable, but it should, have been a point in their favour, that they sought redress for their grievance by the peaceful method of conference rather than by immediately resorting to the sword. Instead, however, of granting their request, Rehoboam temporized, put them off, asked for three days to consider the matter, promising at the end of that time to give them a definite and final answer. Never before had there been in Israel's history such a critical "three days," unless, perhaps, "the three days'" start on leaving Egypt (Exodus 8:27, Exodus 8:28), or the three days' preparation for the conquest (Joshua 1:11). The issue of this "three days'" deliberation on the part of Rehoboam was momentous. According as it should be should likewise be the after-course of history, not for Israel alone, but for the world, Almost always dangerous, delay was in this case disastrous.
II. A GOOD COUNSEL REJECTED. (2 Chronicles 10:6-8.)
1. The king's aged advisers. It argued some sense on the part of Rehoboam that he first solicited advice from the experienced statesmen of the kingdom, and the privy councillors of his late father—perhaps for a moment he was of opinion that "days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom" (Job 32:7); it proved him possessed of little sense that he closed his ears against their prudent suggestions (Proverbs 23:9).
2. The king's best course. "The accumulated wisdom of the Solomonic era recommended concession, The old councillors gave just such advice as might have been found in the Book of Proverbs" (Stanley). They advised acquiescence in the popular demand. They urged the king to win the people by kindness. The beautiful antithesis of the Book of Kings, "If thou wilt be a servant unto this people, and wilt save them … then they will be thy servants for ever" (1 Kings 12:7), is here awanting, but the sentiment is the same. The aged senators believed that kindness held the key to the human heart, and that "a soft answer turneth away wrath" (Proverbs 15:1; Proverbs 25:15) as much in nations as in individuals; they knew that one must often stoop to conquer, and that he who would be served by others should ever exhibit a readiness to serve others (Matthew 7:12); nay, that the true function of a king is to serve his people—a thought happily expressed by the Ich dien of the Prince of Wales's crest.
3. The king's consummate folly. "He forsook the counsel of the old men." Had he not been a fool, for whom wisdom is too high (Proverbs 24:7), in whose eyes his own way is always right (Proverbs 12:15), and who, as a consequence, walketh in darkness (Ecclesiastes 2:14), he might have discerned that the situation was critical, that rebellion was in the air, and that the old experienced statesmen of the last reign were the only pilots competent to steer the ship of state through the breakers. Unlike the men of Issachar, who were men that had "understanding of the times to know what Israel ought to do" (1 Chronicles 12:32), Rehoboam was "a strong ass" (Genesis 49:14), impatient of control and incapable of guiding either himself or others. Some men never see the right thing to do until it is too late.
III. AN EVIL POLICY ADOPTED. (Verses 9-11.)
1. Its proposers. "The young men that were grown up with him"—either the statesmen of the new reign whom Rehoboam had appointed from among his own companions, or young courtiers who had danced attendance on his person while heir-apparent to the crown, and now clung to the steps of the throne in the hope of preferment. Though afterwards spoken of as young (2 Chronicles 13:7), Rehoboam was at this time over forty years of age.
2. Its proposals. Not concession, but coercion, should be the order of the day. Their complaints should be silenced, not removed. Their appeal for lighter service should be answered by a heavier yoke. For Solomon's whips they should have Rehoboam's scorpions. Other rulers besides Rehoboam have tried to still the complaints of their subjects by more and heavier oppression; e.g. Pharaoh (Exodus 5:15-19), and the Stuarts of England, not to mention others.
3. Its pursuance. Rehoboam hearkened to the counsel of the young men, and at the close of the stipulated three days answered Jeroboam and his co-deputies "roughly," in the terms put into his mouth by his hot-headed advisers. "It was the speech of a despotic tyrant, not of a shepherd and ruler appointed by God over his people" (Keil). It undid in a moment the work of centuries. It shattered the kingdom which David's sword and Solomon's wisdom had built.
IV. A DIVINE COUNSEL FULFILLED. (Verse 15.)
1. The Divine purpose. The division of the kingdom. Foretold by Ahijah (1 Kings 11:31), the hour had struck for its accomplishment. Jehovah doeth according to his will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth (Daniel 4:35). Yet all the free actions of men have their places in his world-embracing plan. Man's actions may seem contingent; God's purposes are not. What he determines he can effect.
2. The Divine instrumentality. The foolishness of Rehoboam. Not that Rehoboam was under any internal or supernatural compulsion to act as he did any more than were Pharaoh (Exodus 14:4; Romans 9:17) and Judas (Matthew 26:25) to act as they did. Simply, Jehovah decreed to permit Rehoboam's folly as a means of furthering his own designs. Divine sovereignty and human freedom not contradictory, though mysterious.
V. A NATIONAL REVOLT CONSUMMATED. (Verses 16, 17.)
1. With popular enthusiasm. "All Israel," with the exception of those members of the northern kingdom who dwelt in Judaean cities, joined in the cry, "What portion have we in David," etc.? The unanimity of the movement showed that it was not without ground.
2. With fierce indignation. The cry which had once before been heard in Israel (2 Samuel 20:1) expressed the people's sense of wrong in being cast off by Rehoboam, treated no longer as free subjects, but as conquered slaves. It proclaimed the deep-seated contempt they now cherished for the son of Jesse, as they now designate the dynasty of David.
3. With implacable resentment. "Struck by the king's words as by an iron hammer, and grieved at them," the people rejected his friendly overtures for reconciliation conveyed through Hadoram. If this was the son of David's tribute officer (2 Samuel 20:24), he must have been at this time an old man about eighty. Hence he was probably the Adoniram, son of Abda, who was over the levy (1 Kings 4:6). Though not likely that he advanced towards the people with a small force as if to enforce submission (Bertheau, Ewald), but rather that he approached them alone (Josephus), a more unfortunate selection of one to act as ambassador could scarcely have been made. Most likely one of the older counsellors who recommended moderation, Hadoram was yet the man who was "over the tribute," i.e. was the tax-collector of Rehoboam, and as such could hardly fail to be obnoxious to the angry multitude. Regarding him as an enemy, they sprang upon him with murderous fury: "they stoned him with stones till he died," thus inflicting on him a death usually reserved for traitors and blasphemers. This was the one dark spot which marked what would otherwise have been a bloodless revolution.
4. With final decision. The murder of his plenipotentiary convinced Rehoboam that the opportunity for parley was over, that fair speeches would no longer suffice to quell the insurrection, and that the revolt of Israel was an accomplished, most likely a permanent, fact. Mounting his chariot in haste, and with alarm for his safety, the king who had come to Shechem to obtain a crown returned to Jerusalem, having lost a kingdom.
1. The danger of oppression (Ecclesiastes 7:7).
2. "In the multitude of counsellors is safety" (Proverbs 11:14), only when all are wise (Proverbs 12:5), and he who is counselled is not a fool (Proverbs 12:15).
3. He that hesitates is lost—exemplified in the case of Rehoboam.
4. The rashness of youth—shown in the second company of the king's advisers.
5. Quem dens vult perdere prius dementat.
6. "Better is a wise child than a foolish king" (Ecclesiastes 4:13).
7. Good men often suffer for the sins of others, and even lose their lives when working for the good of others—illustrated in Hadoram.
8. Wicked men would often like to flee from the sight, and much more from the consequences, of their own wickedness.—W.
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Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 10". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany