Rehoboam 12 1Rehoboam traveled to Shechem where all Israel had gathered to inaugurate him as king. 2Jeroboam had been in Egypt, where he had taken asylum from King Solomon; when he got the report of Solomon’s death he had come back. 3Rehoboam assembled Jeroboam and all the people. They said to Rehoboam, 4“Your father made life hard for us—worked our fingers to the bone. Give us a break; lighten up on us and we’ll willingly serve you.” 5“Give me three days to think it over, then come back,” Rehoboam said. 6King Rehoboam talked it over with the elders who had advised his father when he was alive: “What’s your counsel? How do you suggest that I answer the people?” 7They said, “If you will be a servant to this people, be considerate of their needs and respond with compassion, work things out with them, they’ll end up doing anything for you.” 8But he rejected the counsel of the elders and asked the young men he’d grown up with who were now currying his favor, 9“What do you think? What should I say to these people who are saying, ‘Give us a break from your father’s harsh ways—lighten up on us’?” 10The young turks he’d grown up with said, “These people who complain, ‘Your father was too hard on us; lighten up’—well, tell them this: ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist. 11If you think life under my father was hard, you haven’t seen the half of it. My father thrashed you with whips; I’ll beat you bloody with chains!’ ” 12Three days later Jeroboam and the people showed up, just as Rehoboam had directed when he said, “Give me three days to think it over, then come back.” 13The king’s answer was harsh and rude. He spurned the counsel of the elders 14and went with the advice of the younger set, “If you think life under my father was hard, you haven’t seen the half of it. My father thrashed you with whips; I’ll beat you bloody with chains!” 15Rehoboam turned a deaf ear to the people. God was behind all this, confirming the message that he had given to Jeroboam son of Nebat through Ahijah of Shiloh. 16When all Israel realized that the king hadn’t listened to a word they’d said, they stood up to him and said, Get lost, David! We’ve had it with you, son of Jesse! Let’s get out of here, Israel, and fast! From now on, David, mind your own business. And with that, they left. 17But Rehoboam continued to rule those who lived in the towns of Judah. 18When King Rehoboam next sent out Adoniram, head of the workforce, the Israelites ganged up on him, pelted him with stones, and killed him. King Rehoboam jumped in his chariot and fled to Jerusalem as fast as he could. 19Israel has been in rebellion against the Davidic regime ever since. Jeroboam of Israel 20When the word was out that Jeroboam was back and available, the assembled people invited him and inaugurated him king over all Israel. The only tribe left to the Davidic dynasty was Judah. 21When Rehoboam got back to Jerusalem, he called up the men of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin, a 180,000 of their best soldiers, to go to war against Israel and recover the kingdom for Rehoboam son of Solomon. 22At this time the word of God came to Shemaiah, a man of God: 23“Tell this to Rehoboam son of Solomon king of Judah, along with everyone in Judah and Benjamin and anyone else who is around: 24This is God’s word: Don’t march out; don’t fight against your brothers the Israelites; go back home, every last one of you; I’m in charge here.” And they did it; they did what God said and went home. 25Jeroboam made a fort at Shechem in the hills of Ephraim, and made that his headquarters. He also built a fort at Penuel. 26But then Jeroboam thought, “It won’t be long before the kingdom is reunited under David. 27As soon as these people resume worship at The Temple of God in Jerusalem, they’ll start thinking of Rehoboam king of Judah as their ruler. They’ll then kill me and go back to King Rehoboam.” 28So the king came up with a plan: He made two golden calves. Then he announced, “It’s too much trouble for you to go to Jerusalem to worship. Look at these—the gods who brought you out of Egypt!” 29He put one calf in Bethel; the other he placed in Dan. 30This was blatant sin. Think of it—people traveling all the way to Dan to worship a calf! 31And that wasn’t the end of it. Jeroboam built forbidden shrines all over the place and recruited priests from wherever he could find them, regardless of whether they were fit for the job or not. 32To top it off, he created a holy New Year festival to be held on the fifteenth day of the eighth month to replace the one in Judah, complete with worship offered on the Altar at Bethel and sacrificing before the calves he had set up there. He staffed Bethel with priests from the local shrines he had made. 33This was strictly his own idea to compete with the feast in Judah; and he carried it off with flair, a festival exclusively for Israel, Jeroboam himself leading the worship at the Altar.
The Message® / © 2002 Eugene H. Peterson About