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Rehoboam is found in the Old Testament

Rehoboam ("the people are enlarged by him") was the fourth and final King over the United Kingdom of Israel and the first king of the Southern Kingdom of Judah. He was the eldest son of King Solomon and Naamah and grandson to King David and Bathsheba (Bat Sheva), and father to his successor King Abijah. Rehoboam was famously known as being the final King of the United Israel, and was indirectly responsible for the separation of the Northern Twelve Tribes, and the southern Kingdom of Judah.

Division of the kingdom[]

When Solomon died, Rehoboam, as his heir, was to become king of Israel. Solomon had reigned over a vast and wealthy empire, giving Rehoboam the prospect of a grand and prestigious reign. However, because Solomon had turned his heart away from God, God told Solomon that he would take the kingdom from him.[1] Nevertheless, out of kindness to David, God told Solomon that this would not happen in his day, but in the day of his son.[2] Moreover, God would not take away the entire kingdom, but would leave Jerusalem and one tribe for Solomon's successor.[3] In fulfilment of these words, Jeroboam the son of Nebat, a servant of Solomon, lifted himself up against the king.[4]

So, when Solomon died, Rehoboam went to Shechem, where all Israel had come to make him king.[5] Hearing that Solomon had died, Jeroboam also returned to Israel, and the people called to him to lead in negotiating the covenant with Rehoboam.[6] Jeroboam and the people asked Rehoboam to promise to lighten the load of service that Solomon had placed on them,[7] and Rehoboam asked for three days to consider their request.[8] Rehoboam first took counsel with the men who had been Solomon's advisors. They advised him to agree to the people's request, so that the people would be loyal subjects of him. [9]Foolishly, Rehoboam rejected their advice and instead took counsel with the young men who had grown up with him, who advised him to make a show of strength and threaten the people with even harder service and harsher discipline.[10] Rehoboam followed the advice of the young men to disastrous results. When the people saw that the king refused to listen to them, they revolted and refused to acknowledge his kingship.[11] Attempting to quell the revolt, Rehoboam sent Adoram, who was in charge of the forced labour, to the people, but they stoned him to death. Seeing this, Rehoboam quickly fled to Jerusalem.[12] The people of Israel made Jeroboam king of Israel instead of Rehoboam, while Rehoboam reigned over the tribes of Judah, Benjamin (which was located near Jerusalem),[13] and Simeon (located within Judah).[14]

Determined to get the whole kingdom back, Rehoboam assembled an army of 180,000 to fight against the northern tribes.[15] But God sent a prophet named Shemaiah to tell Rehoboam not to fight against his relatives, and Rehoboam listened to the word of God and went home.[16] Nevertheless, war persisted with Jeroboam all his days.[17]

Good initial years[]

While Rehoboam was not an ideal king, Jeroboam was much worse. To prevent the Israelites from going to Rehoboam's kingdom to worship in the Temple in Jerusalem as God commanded, Jeroboam built two golden calves as idols and demanded that Israel worship them instead.[18] He removed the Levites, whom God had appointed to be the rightful priests, from their positions, and appointed his own priests to lead the idol worship.[19] So, the Levites who remained faithful to God fled from their lands to the north and came to Judah,[20] where they strengthened the kingdom and helped make Rehoboam secure.[21]

For three years, Rehoboam and the people followed God well, walking in the ways of David. Rehoboam also took steps to strengthen Judah's defenses. He built many fortied cities and fortresses to protect Judah, and organized a strong army with ample supplies.[22] At this time, the remnant of Solomon's riches was still present in Rehoboam's kingdom.

Rehoboam had many sons, but his favourite was Abijah, who he chose as his heir.[23] However, he did not neglect his other sons, finding wives for them and ensuring they had abundant provisions, and placing them in positions of authority in the various districts of Judah.[24]

Decline[]

Egyptian invasion[]

Despite this good start to his reign (not considering the division of the kingdom), when Rehoboam became strong turned aside from God's laws, and his people also turned away.[25] Because of this unfaithfulness, in the fifth year of his reign Pharaoh Shishak of Egypt came up and attacked Judah[26] and overwhelmed it, advancing all the way to Jerusalem.[27] In this midst of this invasion, the prophet Shemaiah came to Rehoboam and the leaders of Judah and told them, "Thus says the LORD, 'You abandoned me, so I abandoned you to the hand of Shishak.'"[28] Hearing this, Rehoboam repented, causing God to relent His judgement.[29] Nevertheless, while Shishak was stopped from conquering Jerusalem, Rehoboam had to give him treasures from the Temple and his own palace.[30] This squandered a lot of Jerusalem's wealth that Solomon had accumulated. Nevertheless, a remnant of it still remained, so conditions were still generally good in Judah.[31]

Idolatry[]

While Rehoboam was king, the people of Judah acted wickedly, and Rehoboam did not stop them. They built idols and forbidden high places[32] and engaged in cult prostitution.[33] In general, the people behaved wickedly like the surrounding nations.

Death and descendents[]

Rehoboam died at the age of 58; he had reigned 17 years as king of Judah.[34] When Rehoboam died, his son Abijah succeeded him as king.[35] In fulfilment of God's covenant to David, the House of David continued to reign in Judah.[36] As part of the royal line, Rehoboam was an ancestor of David's ultimate heir, Jesus.[37]

Verses[]

  1. 1 Kings 11:11 (Link)
  2. 1 Kings 11:12 (Link)
  3. 1 Kings 11:13 (Link)
  4. 1 Kings 11:26 (Link)
  5. 1 Kings 12:1 (Link)
  6. 1 Kings 12:3 (Link)
  7. 1 Kings 12:4 (Link)
  8. 1 Kings 12:5 (Link)
  9. 1 Kings 12:7 (Link)
  10. 1 Kings 12:11 (Link)
  11. 1 Kings 12:16 (Link)
  12. 1 Kings 12:18 (Link)
  13. 1 Kings 12:21 (Link)
  14. Josh. 19:1 (Link)
  15. 2 Chron. 11:1 (Link)
  16. 1 Kings 12:24 (Link)
  17. 2 Chron. 12:15 (Link)
  18. 1 Kings 12:28 (Link)
  19. 2 Chronicles 11:15 (Link)
  20. 1 Chron. 11:14 (Link)
  21. 1 Chron. 11:17 (Link)
  22. 1 Chron. 11:12 (Link)
  23. 2 Chron. 11:22 (Link)
  24. 2 Chron. 11:23 (Link)
  25. 2 Chron. 12:1 (Link)
  26. 2 Chron. 12:2 (Link)
  27. 2 Chron. 12:4 (Link)
  28. 2 Chron. 12:7 (Link)
  29. 2 Chron. 12:7 (Link)
  30. 2 Chron. 12:9 (Link)
  31. 2 Chron. 12:12 (Link)
  32. 1 Kings 14:23 (Link)
  33. 1 Kings 14:24 (Link)
  34. 2 Chron. 12:13 (Link)
  35. 2 Chron. 14:31 (Link)
  36. 2 Sam. 7:16 (Link)
  37. Matt. 1:7 (Link)
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