Rehoboam

REHOBOAM (rē'hō-bō'ăm, Heb. rehav‘ām). A son of Solomon, and his successor on the throne of Israel. His mother was Naamah, an Ammonitess (1Kgs.14.21). He was born about 975 b.c. and was forty-one when he began to reign. He chose Shechem as the site of his inauguration. Solomon’s wild extravagances and his vain ambition to make Israel the world power of his day led him to set up a tremendously expensive capital and a very elaborate harem. The importation of so many pagan women for his harem resulted in a spiritual debacle in Israel. The luxuries of his palace and the expenses of his diplomatic corps and of his vast building program resulted in burdensome taxation. The northern tribes turned for leadership to Jeroboam, to whom God had revealed that he was to rule ten of the tribes (1Kgs.11.26-1Kgs.11.40). When the coronation had been set, Jeroboam was called home from Egypt, and through him an appeal was made to Rehoboam for easier taxes. The latter, however, heeding the advice of young men, refused to heed the appeal, with the result that Israel rebelled against him. When Adoram was sent to collect the tribute, he was killed, and Rehoboam fled to Jerusalem (1Kgs.12.16-1Kgs.12.19). Jeroboam was then made king of the ten tribes. Rehoboam raised an army from Judah and Benjamin, but was forbidden by God to attack (1Kgs.12.20-1Kgs.12.24). Jeroboam then fortified Shechem and Peniel, instituted pagan rites, and waged a relentless struggle against Rehoboam (1Kgs.12.25-1Kgs.12.28; 1Kgs.14.29-1Kgs.14.30).

Rehoboam set to work to make his realm strong. Pagan high places were set up and shrines throughout the land allowed abominable practices to be observed among the people (1Kgs.14.22-1Kgs.14.24). After being dissuaded from attacking Israel, Rehoboam began to strengthen his land. He fortified Bethlehem, Gath, Lachish, Hebron, and other cities and made them ready to endure a siege by enemy forces. He gave refuge to priests and Levites whom Jeroboam had driven from Israel, and they brought wisdom and strength to his realm (2Chr.11.5-2Chr.11.17). The fortified cities were captured by King Shishak of Egypt. It is possible that Shishak’s invasion resulted from Jeroboam’s influence in Egypt, where he had fled to escape Solomon’s wrath (1Kgs.11.40). Inscriptions in the temple at Karnak name 180 towns captured by Shishak, many of them in the northern kingdom.

Rehoboam seems to have inherited his father’s love for luxury and show, for he gathered a substantial harem and reared a large family (2Chr.11.18-2Chr.11.23). He had eighteen wives and sixty concubines (thirty according to Josephus, Antiq. 5.8.1; 10.1). He was not content with fortifying his land but spent large sums on ornate places of worship. He made Abijah, his son, his successor.


b

REHOBOAM re ə bō’ əm (רְחַבְעָ֥ם; LXX ̔Ροβοάμ, G4850, Matt 1:7; the people (or, family) is extended (W. F. Albright, AJSL 38 [1922], 140; also Noth, Israelitische Personennamen, p. 193, after considering the interpretation he enlarges the people [cf. Gen 26:22]; Montgomery, p. 248, suggests welcoming the people; Late Heb. raḥab, liberal). The first king of Judah after the Division; 1 Kings 11:43-12:27; 14:21-15:6; 2 Chronicles 9:31-12:16.

Family.

A son of Solomon, born to him before his accession (1 Kings 11:42; 14:21). His mother was Naamah, an Ammonite princess. Among his wives Mahalath was of David’s family by both parents; but he subsequently preferred Maacah daughter of Abishalom, and nominated her eldest son Abijah as his successor. Following his father’s example, he maintained a large harem, and placed his sons in command of fortified towns (2 Chron 11:18ff.).

Chronology.

Rehoboam succeeded his father at the age of forty-one and reigned for seventeen years until his death. E. Thiele gives the dates as 931/0 to 914/3, on the basis of his analysis of the data in Kings, and working back from the battle of Qarqar in 853 b.c. (fixed by Assyrian records; see Chronology of the Old Testament). Some check on this is afforded by Shishak’s invasion in the fifth year of Rehoboam; the Egyp. evidence consists of an inscr. and reliefs on the Bubastite gate of the temple of Amun at Karnak, built in Shishak’s twenty-first year (ANET 242f.). The unfinished state of these reliefs, and the apparent failure of Egypt to follow up her advantage politically, indicate that the campaign took place toward the end of Shishak’s reign; and it is not mentioned in any earlier monument (Albright, BASOR 130). Interest accordingly centers on Shishak’s dates; Albright accepts a possible range from 937 to 930 for his accession, and arrives at a date for the invasion around 918, with a tolerance of five years either way. This agrees with his conclusion in an earlier article (BASOR 100), relying on the synchronism in 2 Chronicles 16:1 (see Asa), and on a theory that some of the figures and synchronisms given for Zimri, Omri, and Ahab are secondary (see Omri, Zimri); he places Rehoboam’s accession in 922 b.c. Gardiner however gives Shishak’s reign as about 945-925 b.c. (Egypt of the Pharaohs, 448), which tends to justify Thiele’s conclusions.

Rowton (BASOR 119) supports a later date from Phoen. evidence, linking the foundation of Carthage in the seventh year of Pygmalion (for which the classical writer Timaeus gives a date equivalent to 814 b.c.) with the twelfth year of Hiram, which would then be 959 b.c.; according to Josephus, this was Solomon’s fourth year, in which the Temple was founded. His fortieth would thus be 923 b.c. The basic evidence is not substantial and Rowton concedes that this is only a cross-check. Liver, taking the date 825 b.c. for the founding of Carthage (after Pompeius Trogus) recovers 931/0 for the division. See also Finegan pp. 115, 197, and Thiele, Vet Test 4, 187ff.

Revolt of Israel

Situation.

Rehoboam came to the throne at a time of stress, due to the following factors: (i) heavy state expenditure, particularly on the court and standing army, financed partly by taxation which prob. fell most severely on the agricultural N. This conclusion may be drawn on a priori grounds, and from the data in 1 Kings 4 on Solomon’s organization of districts (Aharoni, pp. 277-280).

(ii) Forced labor was a standing complaint; notwithstanding a disclaimer in 1 Kings 9:22, which may be taken to mean that there was no permanent loss of status for Israelites, it is clear from Adoniram’s position and unpopularity (4:6; 12:18) that the precedent of the corvee for building the Temple (5:13ff.) was too regularly followed. (iii) Despite Solomon’s large standing army, he had lost control of the Damascus area, and the Syrians were raiding N of Israel (1 Kings 11:25). (iv) The lax attitude to foreign religions was inviting divine judgment, expressed in Ahijah’s words to Jeroboam (1 Kings 11:29ff.). Jeroboam’s position, and doubtless the prophecy itself, were known to Solomon and to Israel generally (12:3).

Confrontation.

A national assembly was called at Shechem to confirm Rehoboam’s accession. This apparently was not done for Solomon (the only exact precedent, since David’s coronation began a fresh dynasty); such was the difference in the political atmosphere. It was not yet established that there was a hereditary right of accession apart from the wishes of the people, though there was a natural tendency to de facto hereditary sucession, which might be called a presumptive right, even with the sons of Gideon and Saul. Myers (on 2 Chron 10) notes that no question was ever made of Rehoboam’s succession in Judah, and the cry of revolt (1 Kings 12:16) was “We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse,” i.e., asserting tribal separatism. However, the assembly was not in itself mutinous, as Kittel (Geschichte des Volkes Israels II, 219f.) seems to imply; otherwise the king would surely have taken military precautions.

The “assembly”—that is, the elders representing the people—demanded relief from the burdens imposed by Solomon, intimating that this would be a condition of allegiance. Rehoboam was faced with a choice: in principle, should his authority be constitutional or absolute? His older advisers (Solomon’s council of state) recommended that he make concessions and win the people; but he took the advice of his contemporaries, to make it clear that he would tolerate no challenge to his authority. The identity of these two groups was considered in a discussion (BA 28, 34ff.) of a paper by A. Malamat, who sees the young men as mainly of the royal family and of military rank; G. Evans is less sure of their official status.

Rehoboam accordingly answered the assembly with the famous phrase: “My father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions” (prob., loaded scourges). The assembly thereupon repudiated the Davidic dynasty, raising the now traditional cry of dissolution: “To your tents, Israel!” It was not seriously proposed to restore the premonarchic order; the state needed a king, and Jeroboam was apparently consecrated at the same convention. The point was that Israel still claimed a freedom to which her king owed respect.

Aftermath.

Adoniram, who controlled the labor force and was therefore directly concerned with public order, was sent to quell the riot; but he was stoned to death, and Rehoboam himself escaped to Jerusalem. There he summoned the militia of Judah and Benjamin to try to reduce Israel by force, but the prophet Shemaiah forbade the expedition publicly in the name of the Lord; so the assembly dispersed. A state of hostilities ensued (1 Kings 14:30; 2 Chron 12:15); this is not incompatible with the avoidance of a pitched battle (cf. ASA, 4b); indeed it helps to explain the major clash under Abijah, who clearly invaded Israel (perhaps under provocation) and cherished some hope of restoring the Davidic kingdom there.

Shishak’s expedition.

The attempt of Shishak (Sheshonq I) to reassert Egyp. authority in Pal. is described (so far as it affected Judah) in 1 Kings 14:25-28 and 2 Chronicles 12:1-12, and represented on the wall of the temple of Amun at Karnak; it occurred in Rehoboam’s fifth year (see B above). A number of correlations have been obtained between the Karnak inscr. and place names occurring in the Bible, but the inscr. was not properly understood until B. Mazar suggested reading alternate lines in opposite directions (boustrophedon). This put the recognizable names in a sequence which indicated that Shishak, after detaching a force to invade the Negev, came into the hills by Gibeon (N of Jerusalem), crossed into the Jordan Valley, and went through the Vale of Jezreel and back by the coast road. Archeological evidence illustrates his trail of devastation at Gezer, Beth Shemesh (if this was the Egyp. rbt), and Megiddo (Kenyon).

Doubtless Shishak’s main concern was to assert suzerainty over Jeroboam, who had been a refugee at his court; also, Solomon had been Egypt’s ally by marriage. The inscrs. speak of “northern rebels and aggressors of the Mitanni.” Although Shishak was not so concerned with the hill state of Judah, Jerusalem might well have expected to suffer the same fate as the cities of the plain. Mazar (IEJ 2) observes that while the account in Kings relates primarily to the replacement of the gold shields by bronze, and to the origin of the custom of carrying them in procession, Chronicles (typically) deals with the episode in the context of Shemaiah’s prophecy. The king and his people, having left the service of the Lord, would now know what it was to be at the mercy of a tyrant (2 Chron 12:8). It was a case of “the king’s heart...is in the hand of the Lord” (Prov 21:1). The common source of Kings and Chronicles gives the impression that Shishak actually entered or sent officers into the city; Aharoni (p. 287) thinks that an embassy met him at Gibeon, since the next place mentioned in his inscr. is Zemaraim, to the N. These suggestions are not incompatible.

Defense.

Two lines of evidence suggest that Shishak’s Negev force established a buffer state under Egyp. control in the valley of Gerar: (1) the character of the forces attacking Judah about thirty years later (see nodetitle); and (2) the list of hill towns fortified by Rehoboam against Philistine, Egyptian, and perhaps Edomite threats (Myers, 2 Chron 10). Junge’s view, that they were fortified by Josiah, is controlled by his theory that the Chronicler continually projects the Josianic situation into the more remote past. Alt inclines to accept the Chronicler’s account, and also sees in the Levitical towns of Judah a line of frontier forts. Even on this basis, the southern border was now withdrawn to the hills.

On his northern frontier, Rehoboam did not consider himself to be on the defensive.

Religious policy.

Rehoboam claimed to be loyal to the Lord and to His Temple; this is attested by his replacing the shields given to Shishak with replicas for the traditional ceremonies; by Abijah’s speech in 2 Chronicles 13; and, indirectly, by Jeroboam’s need to set up counter attractions to the Jerusalem Temple. Many Levites moved into Judah as a result (2 Chron 11:13ff.).

The Chronicler records, however (11:17, 12:1), that after three years, when he felt established, Rehoboam abandoned the teaching of the Lord; and Shemaiah declared Shishak’s invasion to be God’s answering judgment. The king and court accepted the rebuke, but with half-hearted repentance. The episode of the invasion is introduced in Kings by a description of the backsliding, not of the king specifically, but of the people as a whole. It may be that Rehoboam was not strong-minded enough to stem the popular tide; and it should not be forgotten that Solomon had opened the door wide to foreign practices.

Bibliography

Beyer, Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palestina Vereins 54 (1931), 113-134; E. Junge, Wiederaufbau, BWANT 4/23 (1937); J. Simons, Handbook of Egyp. Topography Lists (1937), 89, 178; E. Thiele, JNES 3 (1944), 137-186; W. F. Albright, BASOR 100 (1945), 16-20; M. Rowton, BASOR 119 (1950), 20ff.; J. Montgomery, Kings (ICC, 1951); B. Mazar, IEJ 2 (1952), 82-88; J. Liver, IEJ 3 (1953), 113-122; W. F. Albright, BASOR 130 (1953), 4-8; A. Alt, Kleine Schriften II (1953), 116ff., 306ff.; E. Thiele, Vet Test 4 (1954), 187ff.; J. Pritchard, ANET2 (1955), 242f.; F. Cross, G. Wright, JBL 75 (1956), 216f.; W. F. Albright, BASOR 141 (1956), 26ff.; B. Mazar, Vet Test Suppl. 4 (1957), 57-66; G. Wright, BASOR 155 (1959), 28; K. M. Kenyon, Archaeology in the Holy Land (1960), 273ff.; Y. Aharoni, IEJ 10 (1960), 23-36, 97-111; A. Malamat, JNES 22 (1963), 247ff.; J. Finegan, Handbook of Biblical Chronology (1964), ss. 188, 305; J. Gray, Kings (1964); E. Thiele, Mysterious Numbers2 (1965); J. Myers, Chronicles (1965); A. Malamat, BA 28 (1965), 34-65; J. Gronbaek, Vet Test 15 (1965), 421-436; Y. Aharoni, Land of the Bible (1966), 283-293; G. Evans, JNES 25 (1966), 273-279.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(rechabh`am, "the people is enlarged," or perhaps "Am is wide" Rhoboam; "Roboam," Mt 1:7 the King James Version):

1. The Disruption of the Kingdom

2. Underlying Causes of Disruption

3. Shemaiah Forbids Civil War

4. Rehoboam’s Prosperity

5. Shishak’s Invasion

6. His Death

The son and successor of Solomon, the last king to claim the throne of old Israel and the first king of Judah after the division of the kingdom. He was born circa 978 BC. His mother was Naamah, an Ammonitess. The account of his reign is contained in 1Ki 14:21-31; 2Ch 10-12. The incidents leading to the disruption of the kingdom are told in 1Ki 11:43-12:24; 2Ch 9:31-11:4.

1. The Disruption of the Kingdom:

Rehoboam was 41 years old (2Ch 12:13) when he began to reign Septuagint 1Ki 12:24 a says 16 years). He ascended the throne at Jerusalem immediately upon his father’s death with apparently no opposition. North Israel, however, was dissatisfied, and the people demanded that the king meet them in popular assembly at Shechem, the leading city of Northern Israel. True, Israel was no longer, if ever, an elective monarchy. Nevertheless, the people claimed a constitutional privilege, based perhaps on the transaction of Samuel in the election of Saul (1Sa 10:25), to be a party to the conditions under which they would serve a new king and he become their ruler: David, in making Solomon his successor, had ignored this wise provision, and the people, having lost such a privilege by default, naturally deemed their negligence the cause of Solomon’s burdensome taxes and forced labor. Consequently, they would be more jealous of their rights for the future, and Rehoboam accordingly would have to accede to their demand. Having come together at Shechem, the people agreed to accept Rehoboam as their king on condition that he would lighten the grievous service and burdensome taxes of his father. Rehoboam asked for three days’ time in which to consider the request. Against the advice of men of riper judgment, who assured him that he might win the people by becoming their servant, he chose the counsel of the younger men, who were of his own age, to rule by sternness rather than by kindness, and returned the people a rough answer, saying: "My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke: my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions" (1Ki 12:14). Rehoboam, however, misjudged the temper of the people, as well as his own ability. The people, led by Jeroboam, a leader more able than himself, were ready for rebellion, and so force lost the day where kindness might have won. The threat of the king was met by the Marseillaise of the people: "What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David" (1Ki 12:16). Thus the ten tribes dethroned Rehoboam, and elected Jeroboam, their champion and spokesman, their king (see Jeroboam). Rehoboam, believing in his ability to carry out his threat (1Ki 12:14), sent Adoram, his taskmaster, who no doubt had quelled other disturbances, to subdue the populace, which, insulted by indignities and enraged by Rehoboam’s renewed insolence, stoned his messenger to death. Realizing, for the first time, the seriousness of the revolt, Rehoboam fled ignominiously back to Jerusalem, king only of Judah and of the adjacent territory of the tribe of Benjamin. The mistake of Rehoboam, was the common mistake of despots. He presumed too much on privilege not earned by service, and on power for which he was not willing to render adequate compensation.

2. Underlying Causes of Disruption:

It is a mistake, however, to see in the disruption the shattering of a kingdom that had long been a harmonious whole. From the earliest times the confederation of tribes was imperfectly cemented. They seldom united against their common foe. No mention is made of Judah in the list of tribes who fought with Deborah against Sisera. A chain of cities held by the Canaanites, stretching across the country from East to West, kept the North and the South apart. Different physical characteristics produced different types of life in the two sections. Old jealousies repeatedly fanned into new flame intensified the divisions due to natural and artificial causes. David labored hard to break down the old antagonisms, but even in his reign Israel rebelled twice. Northern Israel had produced many of the strongest leaders of the nation, and it was not easy for them to submit to a ruler from the Judean dynasty. Solomon, following David’s policy of unification, drew the tribes closely together through the centralization of worship at Jerusalem and through the general splendor of his reign, but he, more than any other, finally widened the gulf between the North and the South, through his unjust discriminations, his heavy taxes, his forced labor and the general extravagances of his reign. The religion of Yahweh was the only bond capable of holding the nation together. The apostasy of Solomon severed this bond. The prophets, with their profound knowledge of religious and political values, saw less danger to the true worship of Yahweh in a divided kingdom than in a united nation ruled over by Rehoboam, who had neither political sagacity nor an adequate conception of the greatness of the religion of Yahweh. Accordingly, Ahijah openly encouraged the revolution, while Shemaiah gave it passive support.

3. Shemaiah Forbids Civil War:

Immediately upon his return to Jerusalem, Rehoboam collected a large army of 180,000 men (reduced to 120,000 in the Septuagint’s Codex Vaticanus), for the purpose of making war against Israel. The expedition, however, was forbidden by Shemaiah the prophet on the ground that they should not fight against their brethren, and that the division of the kingdom was from God. Notwithstanding the prohibition, we are informed that "there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam continually" (1Ki 14:30; 2Ch 12:15).

4. Rehoboam’s Prosperity:

Rehoboam next occupied himself in strengthening the territory which still remained to him by fortifying a number of cities (2Ch 11:5-12). These cities were on the roads to Egypt, or on the western hills of the Judean Shephelah, and were doubtless fortifled as a protection against Egypt. According to 2Ch 11:13-17, Rehoboam’s prosperity was augmented by an immigration of priests and Levites from Israel, who came to Jerusalem because of their opposition to the idolatrous worship instituted by Jeroboam. All who were loyal to Yahweh in the Northern Kingdom are represented as following the example of the priests and Levites in going to Jerusalem, not simply to sacrifice, but to reside there permanently, thus strengthening Rehoboam’s kingdom. In view of the fact that Rehoboam added to the innovations of his father, erected pillars of Baal in Jerusalem long before they were common in Northern Israel, and that he permitted other heathen abominations and immoralities, it seems that the true worship of Yahweh received little encouragement from the king himself. As a further evidence of his prosperity, Chronicles gives an account of Rehoboam’s family. Evidently he was of luxurious habit and followed his father in the possession of a considerable harem (2Ch 11:18-23). He is said to have had 18 wives and 60 concubines, (2Ch 11:21; the Septuagint’s Codex Vaticanus and Josephus, Ant, VIII, x, 1 give "30 concubines").

5. Shishak’s Invasion:

One of the direct results of the disruption of the kingdom was the invasion of Palestine by Shishak, king of Egypt, in the 5th year of Rehoboam. Shishak is Sheshonk. I, the first king of the XXIId or Bubastite Dynasty. He is the same ruler who granted hospitality to Jeroboam when he was obliged to flee from Solomon (1Ki 11:40). The Septuagint (1Ki 12:24 e) informs us that Jeroboam married Ano, the sister of Shishak’s wife, thus becoming brother-in-law to the king of Egypt. It is therefore easy to suppose that Jeroboam, finding himself in straits in holding his own against his rival, Rehoboam, called in the aid of his former protector. The results of this invasion, however, are inscribed on the temple at Karnak in Upper Egypt, where a list of some 180 (Curtis, "Chronicles," ICC) towns captured by Shishak is given. These belong to Northern Israel as well as Judah, showing that Shishak exacted tribute there as well as in Judah, which seems scarcely reconcilable with the view that he invaded Palestine as Jeroboam’s ally. However, the king of Israel, imploring the aid of Shishak against his rival, thereby made himself vassal to Egypt. This would suffice to make his towns figure at Karnak among the cities subjected in the course of the campaign. The Chronicler saw in Shishak an instrument in the hand of God for the punishment of R. and the people for the national apostasy. According to 2Ch 12:3, Shishak had a force of 1,200 chariots and 60,000 horsemen to which Josephus adds 400,000 foot-soldiers, composed of Lubim, Sukkum and Ethiopians. No resistance appears to have been offered to the advance of the invading army. Not even Jerusalem seems to have stood a siege. The palace and the temple were robbed of all their treasures, including the shields of gold which Solomon had made. For these Rehoboam later substituted shields of brass (2Ch 12:9,10).

6. His Death:

Rehoboam died at the age of fifty-eight, after having reigned in Jerusalem for 17 years. His son Abijah became his successor. He was buried in Jerusalem. Josephus says that in disposition he was a proud and foolish man, and that he "despised the worship of God, till the people themselves imitated his wicked actions" (Ant., VIII, x, 2).