Solomon's son by the Ammonite Naamah (1 Kings 14:21; 1 Kings 14:13; 1 Kings 11:43; 2 Chronicles 12:13). Succeeded his father in his 41st year. In 2 Chronicles 13:7 "young and tender hearted" means inexperienced (for he was not young in years then) and faint-hearted, not energetic in making a stand against those who insolently rose against him. In his reign Ephraim's gathering jealousy of a rival (Judges 8:1; Judges 12:1) came to a crisis, the steps to which were the severance of Israel under Ishbosheth (2 Samuel 2) from Judah under David; the removal of the political capital from Shechem, and the seat of national worship from Shiloh to Jerusalem; and finally Solomon's heavy taxation for great national and monarchical buildings, and Rehoboam's injudicious reply to the petition for lightening the burden. The maschil (Psalm 78) of Asaph is a warning to Ephraim not to incur a fresh judgment by rebelling against God's appointment which transferred Ephraim's prerogative, for its sins, to Judah; he delicately avoids wounding Ephraim's sensitiveness by not naming revolt as likely (compare 2 Samuel 20:2).
He leaves the application to themselves. Rehoboam selected Shechem as his place of coronation, probably to conciliate Ephraim. But Ephraim's reason for desiring Shechem for the place of coronation was their intention to rebel; so they made Jeroboam the spokesman of their complaints. (See JEROBOAM.) It would have saved Rehoboam the loss of the majority of his kingdom, had he heeded his father's wise old counselors (Proverbs 27:10), and shown the same conciliatory spirit in reply to Israel's embassy; but he forgot his father's proverb (Proverbs 15:1). In the three days' interval between their mission and his reply he preferred the counsel of the inexperienced young men, his compeers, who had been reared in the time of Solomon's degeneracy, "my father chastised you with whips, I will chastise you with scorpions," i.e. scourges armed with sharp points. Solomon in Ecclesiastes 2:19 expresses his misgiving as to Rehoboam, "who knoweth whether the man after me shall be a wise man or a fool?" His folly was overruled by Jehovah to perform His prophecy by Ahijar unto Jeroboam. (See AHIJAR; JEROBOAM.)
With the same watchword of revolt as under Sheba (2 Samuel 19:43; 2 Samuel 20:1), Israel forsook Rehoboam (1 Kings 12:16), "what portion have we in David? To your tents, O Israel." They then stoned Adoram who was over the tribute, Rehoboam retained, besides Judah, Levi, Simeon, Dan, and parts of Benjamin. (See ADORAM; ISRAEL.) Rehoboam with 180,000 sought to regain Israel; but Jehovah by Shemaiah forbade it (1 Kings 12:21-24). Still a state of war between the two kingdoms lasted all his reign (1 Kings 14:30). Rehoboam built fortresses round on the S. side of Jerusalem, apprehending most danger from the quarter of Egypt (2 Chronicles 11:1; 2 Chronicles 11:12-13; 2 Chronicles 11:16-17). Moreover, the calf worship in northern Israel drove the Levites and many pious Israelites to the southern kingdom where Jehovah's pure worship was maintained.
Thus, Rehoboam became strengthened in his kingdom, but after three years' faithfulness and consequent prosperity from God the tendency to apostasy inherited from his mother Naamah the Ammonitess, and her bad early training, led him to connive at, and like Solomon join in, the abominations of idolatry, the "high places, standing images, and groves on every high hill and under every green tree" (1 Kings 14:22-24). Rehoboam "forsook the law of Jehovah, and all Israel with him." So God sent Shishak, Jeroboam's ally, with 1,200 chariots and 60,000 horsemen, to punish him, in the fifth year of his reign (1 Kings 11:40; 1 Kings 14:25-28; 2 Chronicles 12:2-4, etc.). (See JEROBOAM.) Shemaiah explained the cause from Jehovah; "ye have forsaken Me, therefore have I also left you in the hand of Shishak" (Shishak was first of the 22nd or Bubastite dynasty; whereas his predecessor, the Pharaoh whose daughter Solomon married, was the last of the 22nd or Tanite dynasty). Rehoboam and the princes thereupon humbly accepted their punishment, and justified Jehovah (James 4:10; Exodus 9:27; Psalm 51:4; Leviticus 26:41-42).
Therefore, the Lord "granted them some deliverance," at the same time that He gave them up to Shishak's service, who took the Jews' fenced cities and came to Jerusalem, that they might know to their sorrow its contrast to "His service" (Deuteronomy 28:47-48; Isaiah 47:13; 1 John 5:3; Hosea 2:7). So Shishak took away the temple and the palace treasures, and the golden shields (200 larger and 300 smaller, 1 Kings 10:16-17), for which Rehoboam substituted brazen shields, to be borne by the bodyguard before him in state processions, characteristic of his vanity which comforted itself with a sham after losing the reality; but the Lord did not let Shishak destroy Rehoboam altogether, for He saw, amidst abounding evil, with His tender compassion, some "good things in Judah."
Shishak's success against the kingdom of Judah (malchi Judah) is found commemorated outside of the Karnak temple, the very features of the Jews being characteristically represented. Rehoboam reigned for 17 years; his acts were recorded in the book of Shemaiah the prophet, and of Iddo the seer concerning genealogies. His doing evil is traced to his "not preparing (fixing) his heart to seek Jehovah." His polygamy ("desiring many wives," 2 Chronicles 11:23) is another blot on his character. Besides Mahalath and Maacbah, granddaughters of David, and Abihail descended from Jesse, he had 18 wives and 60 concubines; his sons, with worldly wisdom, he dispersed through the fenced cities as their governors, and made Abijah, son of his favorite wife Maachah, his successor on the throne.
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