Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Kings 12:31

And he made houses on high places, and made priests from among all the people who were not of the sons of Levi.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Beth-El;   Calf;   Church and State;   High Places;   Jeroboam;   Minister, Christian;   Priest;   Religion;   Rulers;   Statecraft;   Temple;   Thompson Chain Reference - False;   High Places;   Idol;   Idolatrous;   Idolatry;   Leaders;   Places;   Priests;   Religious;   Temples, Idolatrous;   Worship, False;   Worship, True and False;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Calves of Jeroboam;   High Places;   Rebellion against God;   Sins, National;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Rehoboam;   Shechem;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Bethel;   Israel;   Jeroboam;   Jerusalem;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Ethics;   King, Kingship;   Kings, First and Second, Theology of;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Bethel;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Aholah;   Old Testament;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Bethel;   Golden Calf;   High Place;   Idol;   Jeroboam;   Transportation and Travel;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Calf, Golden;   High Place, Sanctuary;   Israel;   Rehoboam,;   Solomon;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Bethel ;   Calf, Golden;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Beth-aven;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Idolatry,;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Jeroboam;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Kingdom of Israel;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Altar;   Apostasy;   Calf, Golden;   High Place;   Priests and Levites;   Temple;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Bethel;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - High Place;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

A house of high places - A temple of temples; he had many high places in the land, and to imitate the temple at Jerusalem, he made one chief over all the rest, where he established a priesthood of his own ordination. Probably a place of separate appointment, where different idols were set up and worshipped; so it was a sort of pantheon.

Made priests of the lowest of the people - He took the people indifferently as they came, and made them priests, till he had enough, without troubling himself whether they were of the family of Aaron or the house of Levi, or not. Any priests would do well enough for such gods. But those whom he took seem to have been worthless, good-for-nothing fellows, who had neither piety nor good sense. Probably the sons of Levi had grace enough to refuse to sanction this new priesthood and idolatrous worship.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:31". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-kings-12.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

He made an house of high places - i. e., “He built a temple, or sanctuary, at each of the two cities where the calves were set up.” The writer uses the expression “house of high places” in contempt, meaning that the buildings were not real temples, or houses of God, like that at Jerusalem, but only on a par with the temples upon high places which had long existed in various parts of the land.

Made priests of the lowest of the people - More correctly, “from all ranks of the people.” That the Levites did not accept Jeroboam‘s innovations, and transfer their services to his two sanctuaries, must have been the consequence of their faithful attachment to the true worship of Yahweh. In all probability Jeroboam confiscated the Levitical lands within his dominions for the benefit of the new priestly order 2 Chronicles 11:13-14.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:31". "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

And he made an house of high places,.... Or "altars"F19במות "altarium", Vatablus. , built a temple at Dan, and set up several altars in it for sacrifice, both for burnt offerings, and for incense, as at Jerusalem:

and made priests of the lowest of the people; this clause seems not so well rendered; for this would have been very unpopular, and brought his new form of worship into contempt, to make the dregs of the people priests, which was not only a very sacred office, but of great honour; it was usual in some nations for kings to be priests alsoF20Rex Anius, &c. Virgil. l. 3. Vid. Servium in ib. , and Jeroboam himself exercised this office, 1 Kings 12:33 and therefore would never put the meanest of the people into it, but rather those of higher rank: the words may be literally rendered, "from the extremities" or "ends of the people"F21מקצות העם "de extremitatibus populi", Vatablus, Piscator. ; meaning not merely from the extremist parts of his country, but rather out of the whole of the people; out of all sorts of them, out of any of them, without any distinction of tribe: for so it follows,

which were not of the sons of Levi; and as by this means he enriched himself, by taking the cities that belonged to the priests and Levites, which they were obliged to leave, and from whence he drove them, 2 Chronicles 11:14 so he pleased the people by laying open the priesthood common to them, and freeing them from the payment of tithes, and the like.

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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.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:31". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-kings-12.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

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

(n) That is, a temple, where altars were built for idolatry.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:31". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/1-kings-12.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

made priests of the lowest of the people — literally, “out of all the people,” the Levites refusing to act. He himself assumed to himself the functions of the high priest, at least, at the great festival, probably from seeing the king of Egypt conjoin the royal and sacred offices, and deeming the office of the high priest too great to be vested in a subject.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:31". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/1-kings-12.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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

An house — Houses, or chapels, besides the temples, which are built at Dan and Beth-el; he built also for his peoples better accommodation, lesser temples upon divers high places.

Of the lowest — Which he might do, either, 1. because the better sort refused it, or, 2. because such would be satisfied with mean allowances; and so he could put into his own purse a great part of the revenues of the Levites, which doubtless he seized upon when they forsook him, and went to Jerusalem, 2 Chronicles 11:13,14, or, 3. because mean persons would depend upon his favour, and therefore be pliable to his humour, and firm to his interest, but the words in the Hebrew properly signify, from the ends of the people; which may be translated thus, out of all the people; promiscuously out of every tribe. Which exposition seems to be confirmed by the following words, added to explain these, which were not of the sons of Levi; though they were not of the tribe of Levi. And that indeed was Jeroboam's sin; not that he chose mean persons, for some of the Levites were such; and his sin had not been less, if he had chosen the noblest and greatest persons; as we see in the example of Uzziah. But that he chose men of other tribes, contrary to God's appointment, which restrained that office to that tribe.

Levi — To whom that office was confined by God's express command.

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Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:31". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/1-kings-12.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

1 Kings 12:31 And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi.

Ver. 31. And he made a house.] A mock temple, a pantheon, a place to hold his mawmets and monuments of idolatry.

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

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

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:31". 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 12:31. He—made priests of the lowest of the people, &c.— Out of the bulk of the people, &c. See Genesis 47:2. Ezekiel 33:2. Of certain families which were not of the tribe of Levi. Houbigant.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:31". 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

An house of high places, or, an house (i.e. houses, or chapels) in the high places. Besides the famous houses, or temples, which he built at Dan and Beth-el, he built also, for his people’s better accommodation, lesser temples upon divers high places, which were esteemed sacred and venerable, because their pious ancestors had served God in them; and thereby Jeroboam might not seem to bring in a new religion, but only to revive the old.

Made priests of the lowest of the people; which he might do, either,

1. Because the better sort refused it, as an office below their quality. Or,

2. Because such would be satisfied with mean allowances; and so he could put into his own purse a great part of the rich possessions and revenues of the Levites, which doubtless he seized upon when they forsook him, and went to Jerusalem, 2 Chronicles 11:13,14, which also was very necessary for his present and pressing occasions; the rather, because he durst not yet lay grievous taxes upon that people, who had newly cast off Rehoboam for that very reason. Or,

3. Because mean persons would depend upon his favour, and therefore be very pliable to his humour, and firm to his interest, and zealous to promote the worship of the calves. But the words in the Hebrew properly signify from the ends of the people; which is and may be translated thus, out of all the people; promiscuously out of every tribe; which exposition seems to be confirmed by the following words, which are added to explain these,

which were not of the sons of Levi; though they were not of the tribe of Levi. And that indeed was Jeroboam’s sin; not that he chose mean persons, for some of the Levites were such; and his sin had not been less, if he had chosen the noblest and greatest persons, as we see in the example of Uzziah, 2 Chronicles 26:18,19; but that he chose men of other tribes, contrary to God’s appointment, which restrained that office to that tribe.

Not of the sons of Levi; to whom that office was confined by God’s express command; but he gave the priesthood promiscuously to any person of any other tribe.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:31". 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

31.House of high places — That is, a house at the two high places just mentioned — Beth-el and Dan. At each of these high places he built houses suitable to the worship that was to be established at them. So the houses of high places (1 Kings 13:32; 2 Kings 17:29; 2 Kings 17:32; 2 Kings 23:19) are the temples for worship built at the high places.

Made priests of the lowest of the people — Rather, from the whole of the people; that is, the entire mass of the population without reference to tribes. The priesthood had hitherto been hereditary, and confined to the tribe of Levi; but Jeroboam annulled this Divine arrangement, probably because the Levites refused to give their sanction to the new forms of worship, and thus obliged him to do this or have no priests at all. מקצות העם, literally, from the ends of the people, never has reference to the moral character or social position of the people, but to their numerical or territorial extent. The sin of Jeroboam in this was not that he selected for priests persons of low birth or infamous character, but persons taken indiscriminately from the entire population.

Not of the sons of Levi — These probably opposed the king’s new devices and unauthorized innovations; and when he proceeded to make priests from the whole people, they “left their possessions,” and with “such as set their hearts to seek the Lord God of Israel, came to Jerusalem,” and by their piety and numbers they greatly “strengthened the kingdom of Judah.” See 2 Chronicles 11:13-17.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:31". "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 12:31. And he made a house of high places — That is, saith Abarbinel, he made a house or temple at Dan, wherein there was not one altar only, as there was at Jerusalem, but a great many altars or high places, probably complaining of it as an inconvenience, that in the temple at Jerusalem there was but one. The multiplying of altars passed with some as a piece of devotion; but God, by the prophet, puts another construction upon it, Hosea 8:11, Ephraim has made many altars to sin. And made priests of the lowest of the people — “And the lowest of the people,” says Henry, “were good enough, and too good, to be priests to his calves.” They who understand the words in this sense suppose he did this, either, 1st, Because the better sort refused the office as below their quality; or, 2d, Because such would be satisfied with mean allowances or small wages; and so he could put into his own purse a great part of the revenues of the Levites, which doubtless he seized upon when they forsook him and went to Jerusalem, (2 Chronicles 11:13;) or, 3d, Because mean persons would depend upon his favour, and therefore be pliable to his humour and firm to his interest. But it must be observed here, that the words מקצות העם, meketsoth hagnam, properly signify, from the ends of the people, and may be rendered, out of all the people, that is, promiscuously out of every tribe: an exposition which Bochart hath justified by a great many examples, showing that the same words are used in this sense in divers other places. Indeed, this exposition seems to be confirmed by the following clause, added to explain these words, which were not of the sons of Levi —

Though they were not of the tribe of Levi, to whom the office of the priesthood was confined by God’s express command. So that Jeroboam’s sin, as to this particular, was not that he chose mean persons, for many of the Levites were such; and his sin would not have been the less if he had chosen the noblest and greatest persons; as we see in the example of Uzziah: but in that he chose men of other tribes, contrary to God’s appointment, which restrained that office to that tribe. Thus, as he transferred the kingdom from the house of David, so he transferred the priesthood from the family of Aaron; and left it open, that any body might be admitted to that honourable employment; which was a very popular thing, and ingratiated him, no doubt, with the people.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:31". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/1-kings-12.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Places, to other idols or devils, (2 Paralipomenon xi. 15.; Haydock) not merely at Bethel, chap. xiii. --- Lowest. Such places were fittest for him. (Worthington) --- Hebrew, "extremity:" others understand people of reputation: but it seems he took any whosoever would (chap. xiii. 33.) accept the office, without confining himself to the Levites. (Calmet) --- Indeed most of them were banished, as refractory; (2 Paralipomenon xi. 13.) though some were so weak as to take part with him; (Ezechiel lxiv. 10.) probably the descendants of Micha, Judges xviii. 31. (Haydock) --- They were not punished with instant death, like Core, though their crime seemed greater. (Salien)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:31". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/1-kings-12.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

house = a temple. Not merely "high places".

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:31". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/1-kings-12.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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

He made an house of high places, [ beeyt (Hebrew #1004) baamowt (Hebrew #1116)] - a chapel, or fane of heights; i:e., on a bill (cf. 1 Kings 13:32; 2 Kings 17:29), for worshipping Yahweh, including the appointment of priests to officiate in the celebration of the rites which were performed in these sanctuaries. Some of these, if not all of them, were tents or tabernacles, decorated wyth embroidered curtains (2 Kings 23:7).

Made priests of the lowest of the people, [ koh

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:31". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/1-kings-12.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi.
an house
13:24,32; Deuteronomy 24:15; Ezekiel 16:25; Hosea 12:11
priests
13:33; Numbers 3:10; 2 Kings 17:32; 2 Chronicles 11:14,15; 13:9; Ezekiel 44:6-8
Reciprocal: Judges 17:5 - consecrated;  Judges 17:12 - his priest;  2 Kings 17:27 - one of the priests;  2 Kings 23:19 - the houses;  Psalm 78:58 - with;  Hosea 8:14 - and buildeth;  Amos 7:10 - the priest

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 Kings 12:31". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/1-kings-12.html.