Rehoboam Loses His Kingdom
12:1 Rehoboam traveled to Shechem, for all Israel had gathered in Shechem to make Rehoboam king. 12:2 When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard the news, he was still in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon and had been living ever since. 12:3 They sent for him, and Jeroboam and the whole Israelite assembly came and spoke to Rehoboam, saying, 12:4 “Your father made us work too hard. Now if you lighten the demands he made and don’t make us work as hard, we will serve you.” 12:5 He said to them, “Go away for three days, then return to me.” So the people went away.
12:6 King Rehoboam consulted with the older advisers who had served his father Solomon when he had been alive. He asked them, “How do you advise me to answer these people?” 12:7 They said to him, “Today if you show a willingness to help these people and grant their request, they will be your servants from this time forward.” 12:8 But Rehoboam rejected their advice and consulted the young advisers who served him, with whom he had grown up. 12:9 He asked them, “How do you advise me to respond to these people who said to me, ‘Lessen the demands your father placed on us’?” 12:10 The young advisers with whom Rehoboam had grown up said to him, “Say this to these people who have said to you, ‘Your father made us work hard, but now lighten our burden.’ Say this to them: ‘I am a lot harsher than my father! 12:11 My father imposed heavy demands on you; I will make them even heavier. My father punished you with ordinary whips; I will punish you with whips that really sting your flesh.’”
12:12 Jeroboam and all the people reported to Rehoboam on the third day, just as the king had ordered when he said, “Return to me on the third day.” 12:13 The king responded to the people harshly. He rejected the advice of the older men 12:14 and followed the advice of the younger ones. He said, “My father imposed heavy demands on you; I will make them even heavier. My father punished you with ordinary whips; I will punish you with whips that really sting your flesh.” 12:15 The king refused to listen to the people, because the LORD was instigating this turn of events so that he might bring to pass the prophetic announcement he had made through Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam son of Nebat.
12:16 When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, the people answered the king, “We have no portion in David, no share in the son of Jesse! Return to your homes, O Israel! Now, look after your own dynasty, O David!” So Israel returned to their homes. 12:17 (Rehoboam continued to rule over the Israelites who lived in the cities of Judah.) 12:18 King Rehoboam sent Adoniram, the supervisor of the work crews, out after them, but all Israel stoned him to death. King Rehoboam managed to jump into his chariot and escape to Jerusalem. 12:19 So Israel has been in rebellion against the Davidic dynasty to this very day. 12:20 When all Israel heard that Jeroboam had returned, they summoned him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel. No one except the tribe of Judah remained loyal to the Davidic dynasty.
12:21 When Rehoboam arrived in Jerusalem, he summoned 180,000 skilled warriors from all of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin to attack Israel and restore the kingdom to Rehoboam son of Solomon. 12:22 But God told Shemaiah the prophet, 12:23 “Say this to King Rehoboam son of Solomon of Judah, and to all Judah and Benjamin, as well as the rest of the people, 12:24 ‘The LORD says this: “Do not attack and make war with your brothers, the Israelites. Each of you go home, for I have caused this to happen.”’” They obeyed the LORD and went home as the LORD had ordered them to do.
Jeroboam Makes Golden Calves
12:25 Jeroboam built up Shechem in the Ephraimite hill country and lived there. From there he went out and built up Penuel. 12:26 Jeroboam then thought to himself: “Now the Davidic dynasty could regain the kingdom. 12:27 If these people go up to offer sacrifices in the LORD’s temple in Jerusalem, their loyalty could shift to their former master, King Rehoboam of Judah. They might kill me and return to King Rehoboam of Judah.” 12:28 After the king had consulted with his advisers, he made two golden calves. Then he said to the people, “It is too much trouble for you to go up to Jerusalem. Look, Israel, here are your gods who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” 12:29 He put one in Bethel and the other in Dan. 12:30 This caused Israel to sin; the people went to Bethel and Dan to worship the calves.
12:31 He built temples on the high places and appointed as priests people who were not Levites. 12:32 Jeroboam inaugurated a festival on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, like the festival celebrated in Judah. On the altar in Bethel he offered sacrifices to the calves he had made. In Bethel he also appointed priests for the high places he had made.
A Prophet from Judah Visits Bethel
12:33 On the fifteenth day of the eighth month (a date he had arbitrarily chosen) Jeroboam offered sacrifices on the altar he had made in Bethel. He inaugurated a festival for the Israelites and went up to the altar to offer sacrifices.