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BOOK IV.

LESSON 1.

THE SEPARATION OF THE KINGDOMS.

B.C. 975.- 1 KINGS xi. 43-xii. 19.

AND Solomon slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David his father : and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead.

And Rehoboam went to Shechem: for all Israel were come to Shechem to make him king.

And it came to pass, when Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who was yet in Egypt, heard of it, (for he was fled from the presence of king Solomon, and Jeroboam dwelt in Egypt;)

That they sent and called him. And Jeroboam and all the congregation of Israel came, and spake unto Rehoboam, saying,

Thy father made our yoke grievous : now therefore make thou the grievous service of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter, and we will serve thee.

And he said unto them, Depart yet for three days, then come again to me. And the people departed.

And king Rehoboam consulted with the old men, that .stood before Solomon his father while he yet lived, and said, How do ye advise that I may answer this people?

And they spake unto him, saying, If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be thy servants for ever.

But he forsook the counsel of the old men, which they had given him, and consulted with the young men that were grown up with him, and which stood before him :

And he said unto them, What counsel give ye that we may answer this people, who have spoken to me, saying, Make the yoke which thy father did put upon us lighter ?

And the young men that were grown up with him spake unto him, saying, Thus shalt thou speak unto this people that spake •unto thee, saying, Thy father made our yoke heavy, but make thou it lighter unto us ; thus shalt thou say unto them, My little finger shall be thicker than my father's loins.

And now whereas my father did lade you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke : my father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions

So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king had appointed, saying, Come to me again the third day.

And the king answered the people roughly, and forsook the old men's counsel that they gave him ;

And spake to them after the counsel of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke : my father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.

Wherefore the king hearkened not unto the people ; for the cause was from the LORD, that he might perform his saying, which the LORD spake by Ahijah the Shilonite unto Jeroboam the son of Nebat.

So when all Israel saw that the king hearkened not unto them, the people answered the king, saying,

What portion have we in David ?
Neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse :
To your tents, O Israel :

Now see to thine own house, David.
So Israel departed unto their tents.

But as for the children of Israel which dwelt in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them.

Then king Rehoboam sent Adoram, who was over the tribute ; and all Israel stoned him with stones, that he died. Therefore king Rehoboam made speed to get him up to his chariot, to flee to Jerusalem.

So Israel rebelled against the house of David unto this day.

COMMENT.-Solomon reigned forty years, like his father and Saul, so that the kingdom lasted in its unity one hundred and twenty years, but he only lived sixty. When a young father he had written his Proverbs addressed to his son, who seems to have been his only son ; but in his last book he seems to have found out that Rehoboam was of a weak, childish character, and he laments, “Woe to thee, Oland, when thy king is a child !” seeing, indeed, that Rehoboam would be a child all his life, for he was forty years old at the time of his father's death. The hand of Solomon had been a stern one over his son as well as his people. The example of his brothers had probably shown him that “he that spareth the rod hateth his son,” and perhaps he went to the opposite extreme, for Rehoboam came forth at forty rash and inexperienced, yet, whereas fools are confident where the wise are cautious, with none of that deep sense of awe and responsibility with which Solomon at twenty had come to the charge of this great people.

He went to Shechem to receive the welcome of the tribes that looked on Ephraim as their chief, and possibly also to swear to the law as written on Joshua's table on the mountain-side. Thither came the elders and officers of Israel with a petition that the new king would deal more gently with them than his father had done, exact less tribute and service, and be less strict in visiting failures. Rehoboam turned to his counsellors. The elderly men, who might remember Sheba’s revolt, saw that the Ephraimites were in a dangerous mood, and advised him to speak them fair ; but the younger men, who had come round to flatter the new king, advised him to threaten and frighten them. Rehoboam, whom the son of Sirach calls “the foolishness of the people," attended to them, and in a proverbial form answered that his least displeasure should be weightier than his father's wrath and indignation : if his father “chastised them with whips, he should chastise them with scorpions." The high-spirited people would not brook such an answer, and set up their old war-song, the same as Sheba's had been. Rehoboam sent Adoram, the officer who collected the tribute, to appease the tumult, but he was received with a shower of stones, which killed him, and the king was forced to flee in his chariot to Jerusalem, with no tribe still adhering to him save Judah and Benjamin ! Thus his folly brought about the fulfilment of the doom pronounced on his father.

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And it came to pass, when all Israel heard that Jeroboam was come again, that they sent and called him unto the congregation, and made him king over all Israel : there was none that followed the house of David, but the tribe of Judah only.

And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah, with the tribe of Benjamin, an hundred and fourscore thousand chosen men, which were warriors, to fight against the house of Israel, to bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam the son of Solomon.

But the word of God came unto Shemaiah the man of God, saying,

Speak unto Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and unto all the house of Judah and Benjamin, and to the remnant of the people, saying,

Thus saith the LORD, Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel : return every man to his house ; for this thing is from me. They hearkened therefore to the word of the LORD, and returned to depart, according to the word of the LORD.

Then Jeroboam built Shechem in Mount Ephraim, and dwelt therein; and went out from thence, and built Penuel.

And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David :

If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah.

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.

And he set the one in Beth-el, and the other put he in Dan.

And this thing became a sin : for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan.

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.

And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Beth-el, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made : and he placed in Beth-el 'the priests of the high places which he had made.

So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Beth-el the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart : and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.

And, behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of the LORD unto Beth-el : and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense.

And he cried against the altar in the word of the LORD, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the LORD ; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men's bones shall be burnt upon thee.

And he gave a sign the same day, saying. This is the sign which the LORD hath spoken ; Behold, the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out.

And it came to pass, when king Jeroboam heard the saying of the man of God, which had cried against the altar in Beth-el, that he put forth his hand from the altar, saying, Lay hold on him. And his hand, which he put forth against him, dried up, so that he could not pull it in again to him.

The altar also was rent, and the ashes poured ont from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the LORD.

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