Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament2 CHRONICLES 11
THE FIRST THREE YEARS OF REHOBOAM'S REIGN;
REHOBOAM PREPARES FOR WAR
And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he assembled the house of Judah and Benjamin, a hundred and fourscore thousand chosen men, that were warriors, to fight against Israel, to bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam. But the word of Jehovah came to Shemaiah the man of God, saying, Speak unto Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all Israel in Judah and Benjamin, saying, Thus saith Jehovah, Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren: return every man to his house; for this thing is of me. So they hearkened unto the words of Jehovah, and returned from going against Jeroboam.
It was impossible for Rehoboam to recover from the stupid blunder he had already made. If he had proceeded against Jeroboam, the strong probability is that Jeroboam would have defeated him and brought an even greater disaster upon Rehoboam and Jerusalem. See the parallel account in 1 Kings 12:21-24.
REHOBOAM'S BUILDING PROGRAM
The Chronicler accepted the renunciation of Northern Israel regarding their having "no inheritance in the son of Jesse" (10:16), and proceeded to ignore the northern kingdom altogether, except where their history involved Judah. He turned his attention to recording the progression of the southern kingdom's rulers, in some instances, giving a more complete report than we found in Kings. Examples of this are in this chapter.
And Rehoboam dwelt in Jerusalem, and built cities for defence in Judah. He built Beth-lehem, and Etam, and Tekoa, And Beth-zur, and Soco, and Adullam, and Gath, and Mareshah, and Ziph, and Adoraim, and Lachish, and Azekah, and Zorah, and Aijalon, and Hebron, which are in Judah and in Benjamin, fortified cities. And he fortified the strongholds, and put captains in them, and stores of victuals, and oil and wine. And in every city [he put] shields and spears, and made them exceeding strong. And Judah and Benjamin belonged to him.
These verses and through 2 Chr. 11:17, below, are parallel to 1 Kings 12:25-33, where one will find most of our comments. These preparations which Rehoboam made against possible invasion of the greatly weakened southern Israel were a prophecy of the beleaguered nation's future history. A divided Israel would be unable to dominate the Mid-east as did David and Solomon.
THE TRUE WORSHIPPERS OF GOD MIGRATE TO JERUSALEM
And the priests and the Levites that were in all Israel resorted to him out of all their border. For the Levites left their suburbs and their possession, and came to Judah and Jerusalem: for Jeroboam and his sons cast them off, that they should not execute the priest's office unto Jehovah; and he appointed him priests for the high places, and for the he-goats, and for the calves which he had made. And after them, out of all the tribes of Israel, such as set their hearts to seek Jehovah, the God of Israel, came to Jerusalem to sacrifice unto Jehovah, the God of their fathers. So they strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and made Rehoboam the son of Solomon strong, three years; for they walked three years in the way of David and Solomon.
There is important new information here. Jeroboam's "casting off" of the Levites, his images of the he-goats, and the fact of the Levites losing their possessions in order to live in Judah are not mentioned in Kings. Thus the Chronicler makes it clear enough that there was absolutely nothing whatever honorable or legitimate in the sinful worship Jeroboam installed in Israel. "The priests and Levites who were deposed could still have kept their lands, but they relinquished them in order to live in Judah where they could carry on their calling. They were accompanied by laymen who shared their disillusionment."F1
Moses told us what this worship of the he-goats was like, when he forbade it to Israel. "They shall no more sacrifice their sacrifices unto the goats, after which they play the harlot" (Leviticus 17:7). There can be little doubt that the golden calves set up by Jeroboam were also used in the same licentious manner.
They strengthened. Judah ... three years
(2 Chronicles 11:17). These are ominous words, for they indicate a drastic change afterward. The change came in the fourth year, for in the fifth year, Rehoboam and all Israel forsook the God of Israel; and God's punishment quickly fell upon them in the invasion of Shishak, recorded in the next chapter.
REHOBOAM'S SIXTY CONCUBINES AND EIGHTEEN WIVES
And Rehoboam took him a wife, Mahalath the daughter of Jerimoth the son of David, [and of] Abihail the daughter of Eliab the son of Jesse; and she bare him sons: Jeush, and Shemariah, and Zaham. And after her he took Maacah the daughter of Absalom; and she bare him Abijah, and Attai, and Ziza, and Shelomith. And Rehoboam loved Maacah the daughter of Absalom above all his wives and his concubines: (for he took eighteen wives, and threescore concubines, and begat twenty and eight sons and threescore daughters.) And Rehoboam appointed Abijah the son of Maacah to be chief, [even] the prince among his brethren; for [he was minded] to make him king. And he dealt wisely, and dispersed of all his sons throughout all the lands of Judah and Benjamin, unto every fortified city: and he gave them victuals in abundance. And he sought [for them] many wives.
There is no parallel passage with this in Kings; and we are thankful for this intimate glimpse of what life must have been like in the harems of Jewish kings. One may only imagine the intrigues, jealousies, outright hatreds, and bitter rivalries that resulted from a large compound filled with a total of seventy-eight women competing with each other for their husband's affections, and secretly hating the king for his partiality, first to one, and then to another.
There was no spiritual compatibility whatever with such an arrangement as that revealed here; and by the Chronicler's placement of this paragraph just prior to the mention of Rehoboam's shameful apostasy, he might indeed have considered this as contributory to that apostasy. Indeed, it could hardly have been otherwise.
Footnotes for 2 Chronicles 11
1: Broadman Bible Commentary, Vol. 3, p. 378.