Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Kings 12:28

So the king consulted, and made two golden calves, and he said to them, "It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem; behold your gods, O Israel, that brought you up from the land of Egypt."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Beth-El;   Calf;   Church and State;   Dan;   Jeroboam;   Religion;   Rulers;   Statecraft;   Thompson Chain Reference - Calves, Jeroboam's;   Counsel;   Evil;   False;   Golden Calves;   Idolatry;   Images;   Worship, False;   Worship, True and False;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Calves of Jeroboam;   Idolatry;   Offence;   Rebellion against God;   Sins, National;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Calf;   Dan;   Rehoboam;   Shechem;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Bethel;   Dan;   Idol, idolatry;   Israel;   Jeroboam;   Jerusalem;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Ethics;   Idol, Idolatry;   King, Kingship;   Kings, First and Second, Theology of;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Aven;   Bethel;   Bullock;   Calf;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Aholah;   Calf Worship;   Degrees, Songs of;   Heifer;   Israel;   Old Testament;   Pentateuch;   Shechem (1);   Holman Bible Dictionary - Bull;   Calves, Golden;   Cattle;   False Worship;   Golden Calf;   High Place;   Idol;   Jeroboam;   Kings, 1 and 2;   Transportation and Travel;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Aaron;   Calf, Golden;   God;   Israel;   Priests and Levites;   Rehoboam,;   Solomon;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Calf, Golden;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Beth-aven;   Calf;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Israel kingdom of;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Idolatry,;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Jeroboam;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Kingdom of Israel;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Altar;   Apostasy;   Ark of the Covenant;   Calf, Golden;   Dan (2);   Gods;   Gold;   Take;   Temple;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Bethel;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Calf-Worship;   Temple of Solomon;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Made two calves of gold - He invented a political religion, instituted feasts in his own times different from those appointed by the Lord, gave the people certain objects of devotion, and pretended to think it would be both inconvenient and oppressive to them to have to go up to Jerusalem to worship. This was not the last time that religion was made a state engine to serve political purposes. It is strange that in pointing out his calves to the people, he should use the same words that Aaron used when he made the golden calf in the wilderness, when they must have heard what terrible judgments fell upon their forefathers for this idolatry.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:28". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-kings-12.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

The “calves of gold” were probably representations of the cherubic form, imitations of the two cherubim which guarded the ark of the covenant in the holy of holies. But being unauthorized copies, set up in places which God had not chosen, and without any divine sanction, the sacred writers call them “calves.” They were not mere human figures with wings, but had at any rate the head of a calf or ox. (Hence, some attribute this calf-worship entirely to Assyrian and Phoenician influence.) Jeroboam, in setting them up, was probably not so much influenced by the Apis-worship of Egypt, as:

(1) by a conviction that the Israelites could not be brought to attach themselves to any worship which did not present them with sensible objects to venerate;

(2) by the circumstance that he did not possess any of the old objects of reverence, which had been concentrated at Jerusalem; and

(3) by the fact that he could plead for his “calves” the authority of so great a name as Aaron (marginal reference).

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:28". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-kings-12.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Whereupon the king took counsel,.... Of some of his principal men, that had as little religion as himself, and were only concerned for the civil state; and the result of their consultation was as follows:

and made two calves of gold; in imitation of that which was made by Aaron, and encouraged by his example and success; and having been in Egypt some time, he might have learned the calf or ox worship there, and might take his pattern from thence, and have two as they had; the one they called Apis, which was worshipped at Memphis, and another called Mnevis, worshipped at Hierapolis, as many learned men have observed; these were she calves, according to the Septuagint and JosephusF17Ut supra, (Antiqu. l. 8. c. 8.) sect. 4. :

and said unto them; not his counsellors, but the people of the land:

it is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem; pretending he sought their ease, by contriving a method to prevent their long fatiguing journeys, to go up with their sacrifices, firstfruits, &c. and the JewsF18Schulchan Aruch, par. 1. c. 580. sect. 2. say the firstfruits ceased from going up to Jerusalem on the twenty third of Sivan, which answers to part of May and part of June, on which day they kept a fast on that account:

behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt; using the same words Aaron did on a like occasion; not that he thought these were really gods, and had divinity in them; nor could he hope or expect that the people would believe they had; but that these were representations of the true God, who had brought them out of Egypt; and that it might as well be supposed that God would cause his Shechinah to dwell in them as between the cherubim over the ark.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:28". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-kings-12.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves [of] gold, and said unto them, m It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

(m) So crafty are carnal persuasions of princes, when they will make a religion serve their appetite.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:28". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/1-kings-12.html. 1599-1645.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

Calves — In imitation of Aaron's golden calf, and of the Egyptians, from whom he was lately come. And this he the rather presumed to do, because he knew the people of Israel were generally prone to idolatry: and that Solomon's example had exceedingly strengthened those inclinations; and therefore they were prepared for such an attempt; especially, when his proposition tended to their own ease, and safety, and profit, which he knew was much dearer to them, as well as to himself, than their religion.

Too much — Too great a trouble and charge, and neither necessary, nor safe for them, as things now stood.

Behold thy gods — Not as if he thought to persuade the people, that these calves were that very God of Israel, who brought them out of Egypt: which was so monstrously absurd and ridiculous, that no Israelite in his right wits could believe it, and had been so far from satisfying his people, that this would have made him both hateful, and contemptible to them; but his meaning was, that these Images were visible representations, by which he designed to worship the true God of Israel, as appears, partly from that parallel place, Exodus 32:4, partly, because the priests and worshippers of the calves, are said to worship Jehovah; and upon that account, are distinguished from those belonging to Baal, 1 Kings 18:21; 22:6,7, and partly, from Jeroboam's design in this work, which was to quiet the peoples minds, and remove their scruples about going to Jerusalem to worship their God in that place, as they were commanded: which he doth, by signifying to them, that he did not intend any alteration in the substance of their religion; nor to draw them from the worship of the true God, to the worship of any of those Baals, which were set up by Solomon; but to worship that self-same God whom they worshipped in Jerusalem, even the true God, who brought them out of Egypt; only to vary a circumstance: and that as they worshipped God at Jerusalem, before one visible sign, even the ark, and the sacred cherubim there; so his subjects should worship God by another visible sign, even that of the calves, in other places; and as for the change of the place, he might suggest to them, that God was present in all places, where men with honest minds called upon him; that before the temple was built, the best of kings, and prophets, and people, did pray, and sacrifice to God in divers high places, without any scruple. And that God would dispense with them also in that matter; because going to Jerusalem was dangerous to them at this time; and God would have mercy, rather than sacrifice.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:28". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/1-kings-12.html. 1765.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

AN EASY RELIGION

‘It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem.’

1 Kings 12:28

These were the words of Jeroboam, to whose name is attached the awful record, ‘who made Israel to sin.’ Doubtless his scheme as a piece of policy appeared admirable; nothing seemed more fatal to his new state than that the people should go up to Jerusalem and give their allegiance to Rehoboam, King of Judah. But in truth this policy resulted in failure and disaster. And who can be surprised at the result?

This is an appeal made to the people’s sense of ease and comfort. These long pilgrimages were burdensome, and therefore was it said, ‘It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem.’ What is there, then, that you cannot have here? Still for us there is Jerusalem here on earth, where the soul may be brought into true union with God; still is there a place where God will come to the soul if only the soul will come to God; and still is there the tempter, who says it is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem.

And so it comes to pass that the means whereby we obtained peace are laid aside, or changed, or modified—the study of our Bible, prayer, Holy Communion.

I. The study of our Bible.—Oh! it is too much to go up to Jerusalem. The Bible is hard to read and understand. ‘It is too hard for you,’ says the tempter, ‘to make its pages all your own. You have not the leisure, the mental capacity.’ So it may be, and the very word ‘Bible-student’ seems an old-fashioned word, and books which touch lighly on the subject are substituted. That is the theological study of the many in the present day. It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Oh! how can true peace be thus found? Oh! how can men’s souls touch Jehovah’s? The wells of salvation from which we might draw all that we require are neglected, because it is hard work to draw the same, and from brooks we may lap with our hands as we halt on our journey.

II. It is too much to go up to Jerusalem in the spirit of prayer.—You are so busy, so tired, that you cannot give much time to prayer. Just some brief form which you commit to memory. ‘That will do,’ says the tempter; and the Lord’s Prayer and our short petition for what we want is all that some offer up. Oh! how do we fulfil the command, ‘Pray without ceasing’? Souls that must die if they be not united to God, how can true union be thus sustained? It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem, and attain the peace which comes from union with God before the mercy seat. If work is so hard and so pressing that we have no time to pray, then the great God has given us such work to do as will crush us down. Can that be? Nay.

III. And at Holy Communion.—Is it not true that hundreds stay away from this Jerusalem? It makes too great demand upon you; if you become a communicant, your whole life must be changed. Thus, though the many hear the sermon preached, only the few come to the altar. It is too much for the others to go to Jerusalem.

We know this is so; we see it around us. But the many go forth again into our clattering streets, into their comfortable homes, where loving faces greet them, into society, with its pleasant life and easy goal, and the spiritual fades and the masterful present rises again, and hearts that were touched with a desire to reach the true Jerusalem, the hearts that felt it was worth living, and Oh! worth dying for, once more hear the voice of the text, ‘It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem.’

Brethren, the golden city is a reality over all those worldly forces which press so strongly upon us, and will reign over all. We are living, but we are dying; and it is now for us in time to gain such an insight into that which makes for our hereafter and for the day of God’s presence and the new Jerusalem.

Canon Kelly.

Illustrations

(1) ‘Thus God’s service became a matter of personal convenience and social enjoyment, rather than a religious obligation and a spiritual privilege; and it was not long before the sanctuary at Dan, the farthest removed from Jerusalem and all of its hallowed associations, became the fashionable resort of the multitude.

To be sure, all this did away with the great altar and its sacrifice for sin, with the laver at its side, and the need of “renewing by the Holy Ghost” in order to enter into God’s service. It ignored all need of “the bread” and “the light” and “the intercession,” taught by the tables of shewbread and the candlesticks and the altar of incense; and it had no place for an ark, wherein was kept the law, and which was covered by a mercy seat, and whereat forgiveness was obtained because an atonement had been made. None of these things were needed in the new theology of Jeroboam.’

(2) ‘Jeroboamism did not die with Jeroboam. For more than two hundred years after its originator was buried it was fostered by each of his successors, and essentially the same epitaph as his own fitly belonged on the tombstone of each. It is seed which takes very kindly to the soil of human nature in all ages, and among all people. It is springing up even in our own day, and its beauty is greatly admired. The same kind of intellectual, worldly-wise, but religious men are busy scattering the seed more and more widely.’

(SECOND OUTLINE)

I. Jerusalem shall no longer be the centre of worship for the Ten Tribes, but they shall sacrifice at the shrines of two golden calves, placed in convenient positions, so as to make religion easy, and save people the trouble of a journey.—Thus gradually the danger of their desiring to rejoin Judah and Benjamin will die out. Such was the clever policy of Jeroboam. Having lived in Egypt he was acquainted with the worship of Apis, the sacred Bull of Memphis. The dedication festival of the Golden Calf in Bethel was to be a red-letter day in the life of the usurper, and would create an enthusiasm for the new king—so it was vainly thought—which would make his throne secure.

II. Nothing shall be neglected which may render the ritual worthy of the occasion.—It is the grand inauguration of the new religion; it is the high day of idolatry; it is the installation of a fresh Church as well as being a political celebration. It is the crowning of the hopes of the adventurer, as well as a precaution for the security of his crown. It is the climax of his plans, and the realisation of his earlier dreams. Imagine Jeroboam’s feelings on the morning of the day. Would he not say to himself something like this? ‘At last I grasp success. After to-day there will be no more wavering in my followers. I have provided new gods for the crowd; I have appointed new clergy of a low type who will be completely under my thumb; I have altered the dates of festivals, so as to break entirely with the past; I have established myself as head of Church and State; behold in me the union of King and Archbishop.

‘Then how wisely I have selected Bethel as the scene of to-day’s function. It has around it a holy atmosphere. It breathes religion. Here Abraham builded an altar in the olden times; here Jacob saw the vision of the ladder and the angels; here Samuel came annually to offer sacrifice; here Deborah lived, who gave freedom to her oppressed people. So that historical and religious memories cluster round Beth-el; indeed the very name—the House of God—seems to sanction it as a centre of religious worship. The service there will be a kind of set-off to the dedication of Solomon’s Temple; and all will be well.’ Such may have been the musings of Jeroboam, as he arrayed himself in royal and priestly garments, ready for the grand ceremony.

III. Beware of a religion which appeals to your love of ease.—Jeroboam knew what he was doing when he said, ‘It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem.’ The golden calf is accessible and will save you trouble and expense. Men like religion made easy and which is kind to their vices. It is not too much to go by train to the theatre, the dance, the cricket match, the football match, or the golf links, but to walk a quarter of a mile to church is ‘too much for you.’ Very often also as men grow rich they learn the worship of the golden calf. An income of £200 attends church, but an income of £2000 stays away. Men need God’s help till they grow rich and then they feel independent of Him. The passbook from the bank and the shares and stocks in the paper are more studied than the Bible; and the summer-house in the garden is the shrine of a little quiet Mammon-worship while the wife and children ‘have gone up to Jerusalem.’ London bows down to the golden calf and carefully observes the ritual of money-making.

Rev. C. H. Grundy.

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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:28". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/1-kings-12.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

1 Kings 12:28 Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves [of] gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

Ver. 28. Whereupon the king took counsel,] viz., Of his politicians, who are none of the best patriots, because they make religion serve policy, which is the way to ruin all, as is to be seen in the histories of Constantius, Heraclius, Michael Paleologus (who first made the Greek Church acknowledge the Pope’s supremacy), Caesar Borgia, our Richard III, Henry IV of France, and many others. Jeroboam graviorem duxit iacturam regionis quam religionis; atque si omnino religio violanda sit, existimat regni causa violandam.

And made two calves.] He had sojourned in Egypt, where he had seen calf worship, in honour of Apis, and haply joined in it to please Shishak, whose daughter he is also said by some to have married, as thinking to strengthen himself against Rehoboam by that affinity. (a)

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

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:28". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-kings-12.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

1 Kings 12:28. And made two calves of gold, &c.— The text is very plain respecting the reasons why Jeroboam set up these calves; and there can be no room to doubt that they were of the same kind with the calf set up by Aaron, concerning which we have spoken at large in our note on Exodus 32:4 to which we refer, subjoining what Bishop Warburton has said upon the subject: "The fondness which the Israelites had for the superstitions of Egypt, has been frequently before demonstrated. Nor did their fondness for Egypt at all abate, when they came under the iron rod of their [absolute] kings, the magistrate whom they so rebelliously demanded, and who, as they pretended, was to set all things right. On the contrary, this folly grew still more inflamed, and instead of one calf they would have two, 1 Kings 12:29 which Ezekiel hints at where he says, yet she multiplied her whoredoms, in calling to remembrance the days of her youth, wherein she played the harlot in the land of Egypt, Ezekiel 23:19. And so favourite a superstition were the calves of Bethel and Dan, that they still kept their ground against all those general reformations which divers of their better kings had made to purge the land of Israel from idolatry. It is true, their extreme fondness for Egyptian superstition was not the only cause of this inveterate adherence to the calves. There were two others. They flattered themselves that this specific idolatry was not altogether so gross an affront to the God of their fathers as many of the rest. Others of their idolatries consisted in worshipping strange gods in conjunction with the God of Israel; this of the calves, only in worshipping the God of Israel in an idolatrous manner; as appears from the history of their erection, 1 Kings 12:26-29. It is too much for you, says he, 1 Kings 12:28 to go up to Jerusalem. Who were the men disposed to go up? None, surely, but the worshippers of the God of Israel: consequently, the calves here offered, to save them a journey, must needs be given as the representative of that God; and, if these were so, then certainly the calf in Horeb was intended for the same purpose; since, at their several consecrations, the very same title was proclaimed of all three. Behold thy gods, O Israel, who brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. The other cause of the perpetual adherence of the kingdom of Israel to their golden calves, was, their being erected for a prevention of re-union with the kingdom of Judah. If this people (says this politic contriver, 1 Kings 12:27.) go up to do sacrifice in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn, &c. The succeeding kings therefore, we may be sure, were as careful in preserving them, as he was in putting them up: so that, good or bad, the character common to them all was, that he departed not from the sin of Jeroboam, the sin of Nebat, who made Israel to sin; namely, in worshipping the calves in Dan and Beth-el. And those of them who appeared most zealous for the law of God, and utterly exterminated the idolatry of Baal, yet connived, at least, at this political worship of the calves; 2 Kings 10:28; 2 Kings 10:36. A farther reason for Jeroboam's adopting this symbol in preference to others, will appear from observing that it was peculiar to the Egyptians, and that he had sojourned in Egypt as a refugee during the latter part of the reign of Solomon." See chap. 1 Kings 11:40. Exodus 32; Exodus 4 and Div. Leg. vol. 3: p. 328.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:28". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/1-kings-12.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Made two calves of gold, in imitation of Aaron’s golden calf, and of the Egyptians, from whom he was lately come. And this he the rather presumed to do, because he knew the people of Israel were generally very prone to superstition and idolatry, as their whole history showeth; and that Solomon’s example and countenance given to false worships had exceedingly strengthened those inclinations; and therefore they were in a great measure prepared for such an attempt; especially when his proposition tended to their own case, and safety, and profit, which he knew was much dearer to them, as well as to himself, than their religion.

It is too much for you; too great a trouble and charge, and neither necessary nor safe for them, as things now stood.

Behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt; not as if he did himself believe, or thought to persuade the people to believe, that these calves were properly and truly that very God of Israel who brought them out of Egypt; (which was so monstrously absurd and ridiculous, that no Israelite in his right wits could believe it;) and had been so far from attaining his end, and satisfying his people, that this would have made him both hateful and contemptible to them: but his meaning was, that these images were visible representations, in and by which he designed to worship the true God of Israel; as appears, partly, from that parallel place, Exodus 32:4, See Poole "Exodus 32:4"; partly, because the priests and worshippers of the calves are said to worship Jehovah, and, upon that account, are distinguished from those belonging to Baal, 1 Kings 18:21 22:6,7; and partly, from Jeroboam’s design in this work, which was to quiet the people’s minds, and remove their scruples about going to Jerusalem to worship their God in that place, as they were commanded; which he doth, by signifying to them that he did not intend any alteration in the substance of their religion, nor to draw them from the worship of the true God to the worship of Ashtoreth, or Milcom, or any of those Baals which were set up by Solomon; but to worship that selfsame God whom they worshipped in Jerusalem, even the true God, and the God of their fathers, who brought them out of Egypt, but only to vary a circumstance; and that as they worshipped God at Jerusalem by and before one visible sign, even the ark, and the sacred cherubims there; so his subjects should worship God by another visible sign, even that of the calves, in other places: and as for the change of the place, he might suggest to them that God was present in all places where men with honest minds did call upon him; that before the temple was built, the best of kings, and prophets, and people did pray and sacrifice to God in divers high places, without any scruple, notwithstanding that restraint of God to one place, Deuteronomy 12:5, &c.; that God would dispense with them also in that matter, because going to Jerusalem was very dangerous to them at this time, and God would have mercy rather than sacrifice; and God had been pleased to dispense with his own ordinances in cases of necessity or great inconvenience, as he did with circumcision for forty years in the wilderness.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:28". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/1-kings-12.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

28.Took counsel — But not of God. Compare Isaiah 30:1.

Two calves of gold — Jeroboam’s residence in Egypt had made him familiar with the calf-worship so largely practised there, and this, doubtless, had much to do with the erection of these golden shrines: besides, the people had already become accustomed to the sight of the figures of oxen in their religions ceremonial by their presence as supporters of the molten sea at the temple of Jerusalem. And as it had now become needful to provide some substitute for the ark and its cherubim, it was natural to adopt the semblance of an animal with whose presence they were already familiarized. These calves were not set up to be worshipped as idols, any more than were the ark and other sacred shrines at Jerusalem, but were designed to be symbols of Jehovah. They were made, like the golden calf at Sinai, of wood or other material overlaid with gold, and probably resembled the Egyptian Mne, or Mnevis, which was worshipped at On, or the bull Apis, whose form was similar.

It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem — An appeal to the fleshly love of ease. He has nothing against the worship at Jerusalem; that is all right for those that dwell there; but he assumes to show his people an easier and better way. There have never been wanting those who are very ready to take the easiest apparent road to heaven, nor have there been wanting ministers to point it out.

Behold thy gods — Rather, Behold thy God. He would no more establish polytheism than would Aaron. He quotes the very words of Aaron, (see Exodus 32:4,) as if to say, This is no new religion, no new system of worship; but was used of old by our fathers under the sanction of Aaron.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:28". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/1-kings-12.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

1 Kings 12:28. The king took counsel, and made two calves — In imitation of Aaron’s golden calf, and of the worship of the Egyptians, from whose country he had lately come. These calves were of the same matter with Aaron’s, and made for the same reason: his because Moses, the minister of God and medium of divine communication, was absent, and these because the holy city, where the temple, altar, and priests of God were, was distant, and could not be visited with safety. It is not improbable but, as some learned men have conjectured, it was in imitation of the Egyptians that he made two calves, and was not content with forming one. For they had a couple of oxen which they worshipped, namely, Apis at Memphis, the metropolis of the upper Egypt, and Mnevis at Hierapolis, which was the chief city of the lower. Jeroboam probably the rather presumed to make these images, because he knew the people of Israel were generally prone to idolatry; and that Solomon’s example had exceedingly strengthened those inclinations; and therefore that they were prepared for such an attempt, especially when his proposition tended to their own ease, and safety, and profit, which he knew was much dearer to them, as well as to himself, than their religion. It is too much for you to go to Jerusalem — Too great a trouble and charge, and neither necessary nor safe as things now stand. Behold thy gods, O Israel! — Not as if he thought to persuade the people that these calves were that very God of Israel who brought them out of Egypt: which was so monstrously absurd and ridiculous, that no Israelite in his right senses could have believed it, and to have intimated it would have been so far from satisfying the people, that it would have made him both hateful and contemptible to them; but his meaning was, that these images were visible representations, by which he designed to worship the true God of Israel. This appears, partly from that parallel place, Exodus 32:4; partly, because the priests and worshippers of the calves are said to worship Jehovah, and upon that account are distinguished from those belonging to Baal, 1 Kings 18:21; 1 Kings 22:6-7; and partly, from Jeroboam’s design in this work, which was, to quiet the people’s minds, and remove their scruples about going to Jerusalem to worship their God in that place, as they were commanded. This he endeavoured to do by signifying to them that he did not intend any alteration in the substance of their religion, nor to draw them from the worship of the true God, to the worship of any of those Baals which were set up by Solomon; but to worship that self-same God whom they worshipped in Jerusalem, even the true God who brought them out of Egypt: only to vary a circumstance; and that, as they worshipped God at Jerusalem, before one visible sign, even the ark and the sacred cherubim there, so his subjects should worship God by another visible sign, even that of the calves, in other places. And as for the change of the place, he might suggest to them that God was present in all places, where men with honest minds called upon him; that before the temple was built, the best of kings, and prophets, and people, did pray and sacrifice to God, in divers high places, without any scruple: and that God would dispense with them also in that matter: because going to Jerusalem was dangerous to them at this time, and God would have mercy rather than sacrifice.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:28". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/1-kings-12.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

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

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:28". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/1-kings-12.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

took counsel: "but not of Jehovah" (Isaiah 30:1).

behold. Figure of speech Asterismos. App-6. Compare Exodus 32:4. Hosea 8:5, Hosea 8:6; Hosea 10:5.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:28". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/1-kings-12.html. 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(28) Calves of gold.—The choice of this symbol of the Divine Nature—turning, as the Psalmist says with indignant scorn, “the glory of God into the similitude of a calf that eateth hay” (Psalms 106:20)—was probably due to a combination of causes. First, the very repetition of Aaron’s words (Exodus 32:8) indicates that it was a revival of that ancient idolatry in the wilderness. Probably, like it, it was suggested by the animal worship of Egypt, with which Jeroboam had been recently familiar, and which (as is well known) varied from mere symbolism to gross creature worship. Next, the bull, as the emblem of Ephraim, would naturally become a religious cognisance of the new kingdom. Lastly, there is some reason to believe that the figure of the cherubim was that of winged bulls, and the form of the ox was undoubtedly used in the Temple, as for example, under the brazen sea. It has been thought that the “calves” were reproductions of the sacred cherubim,—made, however, symbols, not of the natural powers obeying the Divine word, but of the Deity itself.

It is, of course, to be understood that this idolatry, against which the prohibition of many sanctuaries was meant to guard, was a breach, not of the First Commandment, but of the Second—that making of “a similitude” of the true God, so emphatically forbidden again and again in the Law. (See, for example, Deuteronomy 4:15-18.) Like all such veneration of images, it probably degenerated. From looking on the image as a mere symbol it would come to attach to it a local presence of the Deity and an intrinsic sacredness; and so would lead on, perhaps to a veiled polytheism, certainly to a superstitious and carnal conception of the Godhead.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:28". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/1-kings-12.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
took counsel
8,9; Exodus 1:10; Isaiah 30:1
two calves of gold
He invented a political religion, and instituted feasts in his own times, different from those appointed by Jehovah; gave the people certain objects of adoration, and pretended to think that it would be both inconvenient and oppressive to them to go up to Jerusalem to worship. These calves were doubtless of the same kind as the calf which was set up by Aaron; and it is remarkable, that in pointing them out to the people he should use the same words that Aaron used on that occasion, when they must have heard what terrible judgments fell upon their forefathers for this idolatry. Solomon's idolatry, however, had prepared the people for Jeroboam's abominations.
Exodus 20:4; Deuteronomy 4:14-18; 2 Kings 10:29; 17:16; 2 Chronicles 11:15; Hosea 8:4-7; 10:5,6
It is too much
Isaiah 30:10; 2 Peter 2:19
behold
Exodus 32:4,8
Reciprocal: Leviticus 13:29 - GeneralDeuteronomy 12:13 - General1 Kings 14:9 - hast done;  1 Kings 15:26 - walked;  1 Kings 15:34 - walked;  1 Kings 16:19 - in his;  1 Kings 22:52 - and in the way;  2 Kings 2:23 - Bethel;  2 Kings 3:3 - General2 Kings 14:24 - he departed;  2 Kings 16:3 - he walked;  2 Kings 17:8 - walked;  2 Kings 17:21 - Jeroboam drave;  2 Kings 23:15 - the altar;  2 Chronicles 11:14 - Jeroboam;  2 Chronicles 13:8 - with you golden;  2 Chronicles 15:3 - a long;  2 Chronicles 17:4 - not after;  2 Chronicles 25:7 - for the Lord;  Job 34:30 - GeneralIsaiah 31:7 - for a sin;  Isaiah 44:10 - GeneralIsaiah 46:6 - lavish;  Jeremiah 48:13 - as the;  Ezekiel 16:15 - and playedst;  Ezekiel 23:8 - whoredoms;  Ezekiel 48:1 - Dan;  Daniel 3:1 - made;  Hosea 4:15 - Bethaven;  Hosea 10:8 - the sin;  Amos 8:14 - sin

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:28". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/1-kings-12.html.