Scriptures

2 Chronicles 10

Introduction

The death of Solomon ended the greatest period in the history of Israel, the United Kingdom. This was followed by the Divided Kingdom which lasted 388 years.

At Solomon’s death, his son Rehoboam ascended the throne. His subjects had long chafed under the heavy taxation of Solomon. Led by Jeroboam, a general of Solomon’s, they asked Rehoboam to lighten their load.

Rehoboam foolishly replied, ‘My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke.’ 1 Kings 12:14. The people were so angry with this reply that ten of the twelve tribes revolted against Rehoboam and crowned Jeroboam as their king. Jeroboam’s kingdom became known as the northern kingdom or Israel.

Only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin remained with Rehoboam in the southern kingdom or Judah. (The little tribe of Benjamin was so small it was virtually swallowed up by the tribe of Judah.) 2 Kings and the last part of 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles tell the complete story of the Divided Kingdom.

The Northern Kingdom Of Israel

The story of the northern kingdom is not a happy one. During its 253 years of history it had one bad ruler after another, not a single one of its 19 kings actually being ‘good’. Nine dynasties or families of kings reigned during this time.

Several kings were murdered and their places were taken by usurpers. Jeroboam was so afraid that the people would go back to Jerusalem in Judah to worship and desire Rehoboam for their king that he set up two golden calves at Dan and Bethel for them to worship.

So angered was God at his action that He sent Ahijah to him predict the downfall of Jeroboam’s house and the doom of Israel. The prophet declared, ‘The Lord shall smite Israel and he shall root up Israel out of this good land and shall scatter them beyond the river.’ 2 Kings 14:15.

After Jeroboam’s death, idolatry became even more rampant than before, and under Ahab, the seventh king, worship of the idol god Baal was introduced. During its first eighty years the northern kingdom was almost continuously at war with Judah.

The ascension of Ahab to the throne sank Israel to its lowest depths. Ahab married a foreign woman, Jezebel, daughter of the king of Tyre. She brought along her idols and soon abolished the worship of Jehovah in Israel.

It is doubtful that a more evil, unscrupulous woman is described in the entire Bible and Ahab was so spineless that he yielded to his wife’s evil designs. God sent the prophet Elijah to cry out again this idolatry.

Elijah conducted a contest with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, and when they were proved false he had them slain. This intensified the determination of Jezebel to kill Elijah, but she never succeeded in her attempt.

Perhaps the best of all the kings of Israel was Jehu who succeeded Ahab’s son as king. With a ruthless determination he had Jezebel killed and Baal worship abolished. But his zeal ran out and he never did away with the golden calves set up by Jeroboam. Of most of the kings who followed Jehu it is said they ‘departed not from the sins of Jeroboam.’

Israel’s political strength reached its greatest height since Solomon under Jeroboam II, but idolatry again grew worse. God carried out His promise made by Ahijah to punish and scatter Israel. In 722 B.C. the powerful Assyrian king carried the people of Israel into Assyria. They never returned. From this point the story of the Jews is that of the Kingdom of Judah.

The Southern Kingdom Of Judah

Judah was smaller and weaker than Israel. Yet, through its 388 years of history it remained much closer to God.

Several kings were very good and on the whole the bad were not as evil as those of Israel. All were of the family of David. Judah began to decline under Rehoboam, but during the reigns of good kings Asa and Jehoshaphat a great revival swept the land.

In the following years Judah borrowed the religion of Baal from Israel. It remained for King Hezekiah to completely root out idolatry. He and his great-grandson Josiah were the two best kings to rule Judah.

But Hezekiah’s son, Manasseh, was as evil as Hezekiah was good. In his fifty-five year reign he introduced every form of idol worship he could think of and even burned his own children with fire as a religious rite. This caused God to promise through the prophets that Judah would be sorely punished for its idolatry.

After Josiah became king he set out to bring the people back to God. When the lost book of the law was found in the temple, Josiah instituted such a religious revival as his people had never seen.

Following Josiah’s death, Judah descended rapidly. All the remaining kings were bad and weak. Judah was soon made a ‘satellite’ of Babylon, and when the kings dared to rebel, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 606 B.C. carried most of the people into captivity as the Assyrians had done with Israel over 100 years before.

Zedekiah, the last king of Judah, governed a few that remained, but in 587 B.C. he too and most of the rest were also carried into Babylon. This punishment of God taught the Jews a lesson. Never again did they return to idolatry.

‘Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had gone there to make him king. When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard this (he was in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), he returned from Egypt. So they sent for Jeroboam, and he and all Israel went to Rehoboam and said to him: “Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labour and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you.” Rehoboam answered, “Come back to me in three days.” So the people went away.’ 2 Chronicles 10:1-5

Israel Rebels Against Rehoboam

Rehoboam goes to Shechem which was north of Jerusalem to meet with the people so that he can be made king. Jeroboam probably remembers what Ahijah the prophet told him concerning him reigning over ten tribes, 1 Kings 11:29-33, and so, he had earlier ran away to Egypt because Solomon had tried to kill him, 1 Kings 11:40, comes with a request that Rehoboam lightens the harsh labour and heavy yoke from his people that Solomon had put on the people, 1 Kings 12:1-5.

Solomon’s taxes were just too much for the people and so the northern tribes had every right to make this request because most of the money from taxes came from the northern tribes and most of it was spent in the south in Judah and Jerusalem.

‘Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who had served his father Solomon during his lifetime. “How would you advise me to answer these people?” he asked. They replied, “If you will be kind to these people and please them and give them a favourable answer, they will always be your servants.” But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him. He asked them, “What is your advice? How should we answer these people who say to me, ‘Lighten the yoke your father put on us’?” The young men who had grown up with him replied, “The people have said to you, ‘Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but make our yoke lighter.’ Now tell them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist. My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.’” Three days later Jeroboam and all the people returned to Rehoboam, as the king had said, “Come back to me in three days.” The king answered them harshly. Rejecting the advice of the elders, he followed the advice of the young men and said, “My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.” So the king did not listen to the people, for this turn of events was from God, to fulfil the word the LORD had spoken to Jeroboam son of Nebat through Ahijah the Shilonite. When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, they answered the king: “What share do we have in David, what part in Jesse’s son? To your tents, Israel! Look after your own house, David!” So all the Israelites went home. But as for the Israelites who were living in the towns of Judah, Rehoboam still ruled over them. King Rehoboam sent out Adoniram, who was in charge of forced labour, but the Israelites stoned him to death. King Rehoboam, however, managed to get into his chariot and escape to Jerusalem. So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day.’ 2 Chronicles 10:6-19

Rehoboam speaks to the elders, these were the men who stood before Solomon when he was alive and reigned as king, and it appears that Solomon never listened to their complaints. It appears that Solomon was a bit of a dictator who refused to listen to the counsel of the elders.

The young men appear to be very dictatorial in their attitude toward the people, no doubt they were like this because they were spoiled by the king whilst living in the king’s court. In other words, they didn’t want to give up their lavish lifestyles.

We can see from Rehoboam’s decision that he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and rule as a dictator, so that he can continue to live in luxury as king.

As always, with this type of leadership, the rich get richer and the poor pay more taxes which results in them becoming poorer. It’s very clear that all Rehoboam is interested in is looking after himself, he didn’t care about anyone else.

When Israel saw that the Rehoboam refused to listen to them, that ask, ‘what share do we have in David, what part of Jesse’s son?’ They were basically saying, if the northern tribes were to be burdened with a heavy taxation that would only go to David’s house in the south, then the northern tribes would feel that they could no longer be loyal to any descendant of David who was king, 1 Kings 12:16-20.

There were a number of devout Israelites who emigrated to Judah so that they could remain under the rule of Rehoboam but also so that they can worship God in the manner in which God wanted to be worshipped in Jerusalem, 2 Chronicles 11:16.

Adoniram was probably the same officer we read of in 1 Kings 4:6, and some believe that he might have been either a son or grandson of David’s Adoniram.

Rehoboam tried to regain his reign in the northern tribes by sending Adoniram, so that he could put them into forced labour, however he was stoned to death. By doing this, the northern tribes sent a clear message to Rehoboam that they were rebelling against him and they have now officially split from Judah and Rehoboam.

Go To 2 Chronicles 11

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds."

James 1:2

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