Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1-4. Rehoboam . . . gathered of the house of Judah and Benjamin . . .
to fight against Israel--(See
5-11. built cities for defence in Judah--This is evidently used as
the name of the southern kingdom. Rehoboam, having now a bitter enemy
in Israel, deemed it prudent to lose no time in fortifying several
cities that lay along the frontier of his kingdom. Jeroboam, on his
side, took a similar precaution
Of the fifteen cities named, Aijalon, now Yalo, and Zorah, now Surah,
between Jerusalem and Jabneh [ROBINSON], lay
within the province of Benjamin. Gath, though a Philistine city, had
been subject to Solomon. And Etham, which was on the border of Simeon,
now incorporated with the kingdom of Israel, was fortified to repel
danger from that quarter. These fortresses Rehoboam placed under able
commanders and stocked them with provisions and military stores,
sufficient, if necessary, to stand a siege. In the crippled state of
his kingdom, he seems to have been afraid lest it might be made the
prey of some powerful neighbors.
13-17. the priests and the Levites . . . resorted to him out of all
their coasts--This was an accession of moral power, for the maintenance
of the true religion is the best support and safeguard of any nation;
and as it was peculiarly the grand source of the strength and
prosperity of the Hebrew monarchy, the great numbers of good and pious
people who sought an asylum within the territories of Judah contributed
greatly to consolidate the throne of Rehoboam. The cause of so
extensive an emigration from the kingdom of Israel was the deep and
daring policy of Jeroboam, who set himself to break the national unity
by entirely abolishing, within his dominions, the religious
institutions of Judaism. He dreaded an eventual reunion of the tribes
if the people continued to repair thrice a year to worship in Jerusalem
as they were obliged by law to do. Accordingly, on pretense that the
distance of that city was too great for multitudes of his subjects, he
fixed upon two more convenient places, where he established a new mode
of worshipping God under gross and prohibited symbols
The priests and Levites, refusing to take part in the idolatrous
ceremonies, were ejected from their living
[2Ch 11:13, 14].
Along with them a large body of the people who faithfully adhered to
the instituted worship of God, offended and shocked by the impious
innovations, departed from the kingdom.
15. he ordained him priests--The persons he appointed to the
priesthood were low and worthless creatures
(1Ki 12:31; 13:33);
any were consecrated who brought a bullock and seven rams
for the high places--Those favorite places of religious worship were
encouraged throughout the country.
for the devils--a term sometimes used for idols in general
But here it is applied distinctively to the goat deities, which were
probably worshipped chiefly in the northern parts of his kingdom, where
the heathen Canaanites still abounded.
for the calves which he had made--figures of the ox gods Apis and
Mnevis, with which Jeroboam's residence in Egypt had familiarized him.
17. they strengthened the kingdom of Judah--The innovating measures
of Jeroboam were not introduced all at once. But as they were
developed, the secession of the most excellent of his subjects began,
and continuing to increase for three years, lowered the tone of
religion in his kingdom, while it proportionally quickened its life and
extended its influence in that of Judah.
18. Rehoboam took Mahalath--The names of her father and mother are
given. Jerimoth, the father, must have been the son of one of David's
Abihail was, of course, his cousin, previous to their marriage.
20. after her he took Maachah . . . daughter--that is, granddaughter
of Absalom, Tamar being, according to JOSEPHUS,
her mother. (Compare
21. he took eighteen wives, and threescore concubines--This royal
harem, though far smaller than his father's, was equally in violation
of the law, which forbade a king to "multiply wives unto himself"
22. made Abijah . . . chief . . . ruler among
his brethren--This preference seems to have been given to Abijah
solely from the king's doting fondness for his mother and through her
influence over him. It is plainly implied that Abijah was not the
oldest of the family. In destining a younger son for the kingdom,
without a divine warrant, as in Solomon's case, Rehoboam acted in
violation of the law
23. he dealt wisely--that is, with deep and calculating policy
and dispersed of all his children . . . unto every fenced city--The
circumstance of twenty-eight sons of the king being made governors of
fortresses would, in our quarter of the world, produce jealousy and
dissatisfaction. But Eastern monarchs ensure peace and tranquillity to
their kingdom by bestowing government offices on their sons and
grandsons. They obtain an independent provision, and being kept apart,
are not likely to cabal in their father's lifetime. Rehoboam acted
thus, and his sagacity will appear still greater if the wives he
desired for them belonged to the cities where each son was located.
These connections would bind them more closely to their respective
places. In the modern countries of the East, particularly Persia and
Turkey, younger princes were, till very lately, shut up in the harem
during their father's lifetime; and, to prevent competition, they were
blinded or killed when their brother ascended the throne. In the former
country the old practice of dispersing them through the country as
Rehoboam did, has been again revived.