King Rehoboam - Biography

Chart of the Kings King Rehoboam - Biography God's Judgment Regarding King Rehoboam
Previous King: Solomon   Next King: Abijam


The Coronation Disaster
Rehoboam's Apostasy and God's Judgment


King Rehoboam's legacy is one of loss — loss of half the kingdom, loss of integrity, loss of national sovereignty.

Loss of half the kingdom — During Rehoboam's first week in office, his grandiose ideas and failure to read the political climate resulted in a rebellion, in which 10 of Israel's 12 tribes seceded, forming the nation known from then on as Israel. Rehoboam's two tribes assumed the name of Rehoboam's tribe, Judah.

Loss of integrity — Rehoboam, like his father King Solomon, abandoned the LORD and sponsored idol cults and the sins associated with them.

Loss of national sovereignty — As punishment, the LORD declared that he would not aid them against the invasion being planned by Shishak, king of Egypt. However, king and people repented, and so God stopped Egypt from destroying Judah. However, Judah became a vassal nation under Egypt's supervision.

Where to read Rehoboam's story: 1 Kings 12:1-24, 14:21-31; 2 Chronicles 10 - 12

The Coronation Disaster

Upon the death of King Solomon, his son Rehoboam assumed the throne. When the nation's local leaders gathered for Rehoboam's coronation, they retained Jeroboam, a man respected for his leadership skills, to represent them in a collective bargaining session with the new king. Solomon had placed an oppressive burden of taxes on the public in order to pay for his massive palaces and public works. The people wanted relief. Rehoboam said he would consider the matter and reply in three days.

The experienced cabinet members of Solomon's staff advised Rehoboam to submit to their demand; this action would assure their loyalty throughout his entire reign. The political trainees of Rehoboam's generation, however, having grown up among palaces, temples, parks, and public works of unsurpassed excellence, couldn't resign themselves to living less luxuriously than the previous generation. They wanted to construct even more excellent works, and recommended Rehoboam raise taxes to pay for their ambitions. Rehoboam agreed.

When Rehoboam presented this decision to Jeroboam and the local leaders, they stated their intention to secede from the union, and they quit the coronation. Rehoboam ignored their decision, and at the scheduled time, accompanied his tax collector on his duties as usual. However, the rebel tribes, united in their refusal, stoned the tax collector. Rehoboam himself narrowly escaped.

Still in denial, Rehoboam refused to recognize the independent nation, viewing it as an internal rebellion to be managed by police action. He assembled an army for this purpose from the two tribes — Judah and Benjamin — that remained loyal to him. Jeroboam, now named king of the 10 tribes in rebellion, prepared armies for defense. But just as civil war was ready to begin, the LORD sent the prophet Shemaiah to Rehoboam with the message that he must go home and not fight this war. God had arranged the split of the nation because of King Solomon's sins. So war was averted.

Both Rehoboam and Jeroboam, however, built extensive fortifications along their border; and wars were fought continually during their reigns.

The 10 tribes under Jeroboam retained the historical name of the nation, “Israel”. The two tribes under Rehoboam assumed the name “Judah,” the name of Rehoboam's tribe.

Source: 1 Kings 12:1-24; 2 Chronicles 10 - 11

Rehoboam's Apostasy and God's Judgment

All this time, King Rehoboam was faithful to the LORD. But after three years, the fortifications were complete, and Rehoboam relaxed both his military efforts and his morals. With the aid of his wife Maachah, an Asherah worshipper, he built pagan shrines, ignoring the LORD's prohibition. These cults involved the people in many sinful practices, including most notably male prostitution.

After two years of apostasy, Shishak king of Egypt launched an invasion force against Judah. The LORD sent the prophet Shemaiah to announce he would not defend Judah; because of their apostasy, he was abandoning them to their fate. Hearing this, Rehoboam and the local leaders agreed that they deserved this punishment from God. Seeing their contrition, the LORD changed his mind; he would not allow them to be destroyed. He would, however, allow Egypt to dominate Judah.

Egypt subdued Judah, and Shishak confiscated everything of value in Rehoboam's palace and Solomon's temple. Rehoboam replaced these with cheap imitations, and even these were kept under lock and key, being brought into view only when the king was present.

Rehoboam's repentance, however, was short lived. The remainder of his 17 years are summarized in the statement “he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the LORD” (2 Chronicles 12:14).

Source: 1 Kings 14:21-31; 2 Chronicles 11:17, 12:1-16

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