Thursday, August 29, 2013

CLXX - II Chronicles 10-12 - A Divided Nation

Chapter 10  -  Be Careful Who You Listen To

We have studied this in a bit more detail in I Kings, but this is an interesting twist of events.  After forty years as king of Israel, Solomon died.  He named his son Rehoboam as his successor.  {Before I continue with this first verse, allow me to give some pretext as found in I Kings.  There was an "man of good standing" named Jeroboam.  He was from the tribe of Ephraim.  Solomon had recognized the talents of this young man and appointed him as overseer of the king's labor forces from Ephraim and Manasseh.  Then one day as Jeroboam was leaving Jerusalem, the prophet Ahijah approached him.  Ahijah tore his garment into twelve pieces in front of Jeroboam, and instructed him to take ten of them.  This was the prophecy of the divided nation.  (This story can be read in I Kings 11.)  The twelve pieces represented the twelve tribes of Israel and the ten represented the ten tribes over which Jeroboam would be king.  The remaining two would be Judah and Benjamin, over which Rehoboam would be king, maintaining the royal line of David on the throne in Jerusalem.  Solomon had heard about Jeroboam's meeting with Ahijah and sought to kill Jeroboam.  Therefore Jeroboam ran off to Egypt.  Solomon took any prophecy seriously and considered this a threat to his son's kingdom.  When Jeroboam heard that Solomon had died, he returned to Israel from Egypt.  Somehow, all of Israel was aware of his return.}

In verse 1 we begin to see that Rehoboam showed some promise.  His first order of business was to unify his kingdom, therefore he sought to get the blessings from leaders of all the tribes.  This is a wise first step.  He traveled to Shechem, which was a central location for all of the tribes of Israel, where he was to meet with the leaders.  He chose to go them, rather than use an official summons to bring them to him.  This was wise also.  As you will read in this opening passage, the elders, using Jeroboam as their spokesman, wanted their workload reduced.  {As I read into this closely, Rehoboam is not the only one at fault in this meeting.  His father had sought to kill Jeroboam, and it was Jeroboam who was speaking in behalf of all the tribal leaders.  Therefore, I believe this to have given the appearance of antagonism from the beginning of the meeting.}  After hearing their demands, Rehoboam did another wise thing.  He said he wanted three days to consider it.  It is always good to seek wise council, which always takes time.  In the verses following he consulted with his father's councilors, who advised him to consent to their demands in order to gain their support.  But then Rehoboam also consulted his younger friends who gave him the opposite advice which was to increase the workload, establishing his authority as king and as one who would not negotiate terms.  {There was nothing wrong with Rehoboam consulting with the younger councilors.  We should seek wise
council everywhere, but he just made a terrible choice between the two recommendations.}  When the three days were up, Rehoboam announced his decision to increase their workload, and he did it with antagonizing words.  The leaders of the ten northern tribes rejected him and his kingship immediately.  The kingdom was officially divided.  Israel as God had intended it did not exist any more.

Chapter 11

.Verses 1-4  -  When the ten tribes declared their independence from Jerusalem, Rehoboam sought to reunite the nation by military force.  {Think about how difficult this would be.  Just looking at the map would convince one that it would be almost impossible.  Rehoboam should have re-approached them from a diplomacy standpoint.  But that would have taken humility, a characteristics rarely found in kings of nations.  Even in modern times, hearing a national leader admitting he/she is wrong is rare indeed.}  But God stopped Rehoboam from taking military action by speaking to him through a man of God named Shemaiah.  At least Rehoboam had sense enough not to disobey the direct word of God, and called off the military assault.

In verses 5-17 we see how Rehoboam concedes that he is king only of Judah and Benjamin.  He proceeds to build his military and his government with that fact in mind.  And it appears he did it very well.  Also noteworthy is the fact that the Levites collectively decided to align themselves with Rehoboam (perhaps because the Temple was in Jerusalem).  I believe this decision by the Levites was to prove the most influencial event for the future of both kingdoms, as the presence of the Levite priests was always to be with the kings of Judah, rather than with the kings of Israel.  This was certain to keep Judah and its leaders aware of the commands and statutes of the Lord.

The remaining verses in this chapter speak of Rehoboam's family.  There are some familiar names mentioned, most notably Absalom, the rebellious son of David.  Rehoboam married Absalom's daughter Maakah. Although Rehoboam had many wives and concubines, he loved Maakah more than the others.  His love for her was probably the chief influence of him naming her son Abijah as the successor to the throne.  This last passage in this chapter also tells how Rehoboam wisely disperses his sons throughout the kingdom for representation and training.

Chapter 12

This chapter wraps up Rehoboam's reign in Judah, and tells of Pharaoh Shishak's attack on Jerusalem.  The Scripture is very clear in stating that Rehoboam had become strong, but had abandoned the Law of God.  God then allowed Egypt's king Shishak to invade Judah and bring it under Egypt's rule.  Shishak's victory was decisive, indicated by the fact that he took everything of value in Jersusalem, even the gold shields David had made for the Temple guards.  (Rehobaom eventually replaced them with bronze shields.)  Because Rehoboam had humbled himself, confessing of his own wrong-doing, God then showed mercy on Judah and gave them peace from the Egyptians.  Rehoboam reigned in Jerusalem a total of seventeen years.  It states in verse 15 that there was constant war between Israel and Judah.  {It seems to me that if Israel would have tried to help Judah against foreign invaders, Egypt would never have been able to do as they did in Jerusalem.  These Israelite cousins should have stood together against outside forces, as all families should, regardless of their differences.}

Nelxt Post  -  Kings of Judah

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