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2002 11 11
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Chapter 12


1 Rehoboam went to Shechem, where all Israel had come to proclaim him king.


Jeroboam, son of Nebat, who was still in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon, returned from Egypt as soon as he learned this.


They said to Rehoboam:


"Your father put on us a heavy yoke. If you now lighten the harsh service and the heavy yoke your father imposed on us, we will serve you."


"Come back to me in three days," he answered them. When the people had departed,


King Rehoboam consulted the elders who had been in his father's service while he was alive, and asked, "What answer do you advise me to give this people?"


They replied, "If today you will be the servant of this people and submit to them, giving them a favorable answer, they will be your servants forever."


But he ignored the advice the elders had given him, and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were in his service.


He said to them, "What answer do you advise me to give this people, who have asked me to lighten the yoke my father imposed on them?"


The young men who had grown up with him replied, "This is what you must say to this people who have asked you to lighten the yoke your father put on them: 'My little finger is thicker than my father's body.


Whereas my father put a heavy yoke on you, I will make it heavier. My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions.'"


On the third day all Israel came back to King Rehoboam, as he had instructed them to do.


Ignoring the advice the elders had given him, the king gave the people a harsh answer.


He said to them, as the young men had advised: "My father put on you a heavy yoke, but I will make it heavier. My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions."


The king did not listen to the people, for the LORD brought this about to fulfill the prophecy he had uttered to Jeroboam, son of Nebat, through Ahijah the Shilonite.


2 When all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king: "What share have we in David? We have no heritage in the son of Jesse. To your tents, O Israel! Now look to your own house, David."So Israel went off to their tents,


but Rehoboam reigned over the Israelites who lived in the cities of Judah.


King Rehoboam then sent out Adoram, superintendent of the forced labor, but all Israel stoned him to death. Rehoboam managed to mount his chariot to flee to Jerusalem,


and Israel went into rebellion against David's house to this day.


When all Israel heard that Jeroboam had returned, they summoned him to an assembly and made him king over all Israel. None remained loyal to David's house except the tribe of Judah alone.


On his arrival in Jersusalem, Rehoboam gathered together all the house of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin - one hundred and eighty thousand seasoned warriors - to fight against the house of Israel, to restore the kingdom to Rehoboam, son of Solomon.


However, the LORD spoke to Shemaiah, a man of God:


"Say to Rehoboam, son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to the house of Judah and to Benjamin, and to the rest of the people:


'Thus says the LORD: You must not march out to fight against your brother Israelites. Let every man return home, for I have brought this about.'" They accepted this message of the LORD and gave up the expedition accordingly.


Jeroboam built up Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim and lived there. Then he left it and built up Penuel.


3 Jeroboam thought to himself: "The kingdom will return to David's house.


If now this people go up to offer sacrifices in the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem, the hearts of this people will return to their master, Rehoboam, king of Judah, and they will kill me."


After taking counsel, the king made two calves of gold and said to the people: "You have been going up to Jerusalem long enough. Here is your God, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt."


4 And he put one in Bethel, the other in Dan.


This led to sin, because the people frequented these calves in Bethel and in Dan.


He also built temples on the high places and made priests from among the people who were not Levites.


Jeroboam established a feast in the eighth month on the fifteenth day of the month to duplicate in Bethel the pilgrimage feast of Judah, with sacrifices to the calves he had made; and he stationed in Bethel priests of the high places he had built.


Jeroboam ascended the altar he built in Bethel on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, the month in which he arbitrarily chose to establish a feast for the Israelites; he was going to offer sacrifice.



1 [1] Shechem: chief city of the northern tribes, where a covenant of fidelity had previously been made between the Lord and his people and a stone of witness had been erected in memory of the event ( Joshua 24:25-27).

2 [16] What share have we in David: even in David's time the northern tribes seemed ready to withdraw from Judah ( 2 Sam 20:1). The unreasonable attitude of Rehoboam toward them intensified the discontent caused by the oppression of Solomon ( 1 Kings 12:4) and thus precipitated the establishment of a rival monarchy ( 1 Kings 12:20).

3 [26-32] Jeroboam feared reunification of the divided kingdom through worship in the single temple in Jerusalem. To prevent this he encouraged shrines on the high places, and appointed false priests to supplement those of levitical descent. The golden bullocks he installed in two of his sanctuaries, though probably intended as bearers of the invisible Divine Majesty, quickly became occasions for idolatry. Thus Jeroboam caused Israel to sin, and sealed his doom and that of his royal house ( 1 Kings 13:34; 14:7-14).

4 [29] Bethel and Dan: at the southern and northern boundaries of the separate kingdom of Israel, where sanctuaries had existed in the past ( Genesis 12:8; 13:3; 18:10-22; 25:1-16; Judges 18:1-31).

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