3 Kings xii.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. King, or to acknowledge his right, provided he would grant their request. The discontented assembled at Sichem, rather than at Jerusalem, as they would be under less restraint. (Calmet) — They appointed Jeroboam to prefer their petition. (Menochius) — Roboam was probably the only son whom Solomon had by his wives. (Calmet) — We read of two daughters, Japheth and Basemath, chap. iv. 11., and 15. (Haydock) — Naama, the Ammonite, was the mother of Robaom, who, though 40 years old, was devoid of good sense, 2 Paralipomenon xiii. 7., Ecclesiastes ii. 18., and Ecclesiasticus xlvii. 27. (Calmet)

Ver. 2. Hearing of. Hebrew, “It (the assembly) and Jeroboam dwelt in Egypt.” (Haydock) — But in 2 Paralipomenon x. 2., we find he returned. It is probable that both texts agreed in the days of St. Jerome; as the same letters, if read in a different manner, may have both meanings. (Calmet) — Septuagint have also “returned.” (Haydock)

Ver. 4. Yoke, of personal service, (Calmet) first to build the temple, and afterwards to erect palaces, fortify cities, &c. The works of Mello gave the greatest discontent. (Haydock)

Ver. 6. Old man. Banaias and Jahiel. (St. Jerome, Trad.)

Ver. 7. They said. Hebrew, “he said.” The transcribers, probably not understanding what they wrote, frequently make singular for plural verbs. So ver. 21, “They came,” instead of he came. Some manuscripts and the ancient versions are correct. (Kennicott) — Yield. Hebrew, “serve.” By the submission of one day he might have acquired the kingdom. Great attention is requisite at first. Tacitus (Hist. iv.) represents Vespasian, Novo principatu suspensum, & vultus quoque ac sermones omnium circumspectantem.

Ver. 8. Him. They were young, compared with the former, though they might be 40 years old. (Menochius) — It was frequently the custom in the eastern courts, to educate young noblemen along with the heir to the crown. Such formed the captains of Alexander, (1 Machabees i. 7,) and the warriors of Sesostris, whose father ordered all the male children who were born on the same day in his dominions, to be brought to court, to be educated with his son. (Diodorus i.) — The Persian nobility were brought up at the gate of the prince, that they might learn temperance and the art of governing. (Xenophon, Cyrop. i.) — The endeavours of Solomon were frustrated by the evil disposition of his son, and of those about his person.

Ver. 10. Finger is not expressed in Hebrew or Septuagint, but the Syriac and Josephus agree with the Vulgate. In Paralipomenon, we read loins, instead of back. Hebrew and Septuagint, my little (Protestants supply finger). Septuagint, “my littleness,” mikrotes; but in Paralipomenon finger is added. (Haydock) — Chaldean, “my weakness is stronger than my father’s strength.” The loins denote strength. Roboam did not use these boastings and insolent expressions: but he adopted their spirit. (Calmet) — He insinuates that he was twice as old as his father when he began to reign, (Pineda vii. 24,) or he uses a proverbial exaggeration. (Delrio. adag. 202.) (Menochius)

Ver. 11. Scorpions. Chaldean, “thorns.” Hebrew has both significations. Like a tyrant, Roboam threatens to beat the people with sharp thorns. (Menochius)

Ver. 15. Turned. Hebrew, “for the cause (revolution) was from the Lord, (Calmet) that he might verify his word.” (Haydock) — God permitted the king to act impudently, and disposed things in such a manner, that the prediction took effect. (Calmet) — Indeed, the prophet had only spoken, because things would happen. (Haydock) — “There are two sorts of persecutors, those who blame, and those who flatter: the tongue of the flatterer persecutes more than the hand of him who kills.” (St. Augustine in Psalm lxix.) (Du Hamel) — Roboam fell a prey to his evil counsellors. (Haydock) — That, (ver. 16.) denotes the sequel, not the final cause, as chap. xiv. 9. (Worthington)

Ver. 16. Look to. Chaldean, “rule over thy own tribe.” They imitate those who give a bill of divorce. (Calmet) — Herein they were not excusable, no more than those who persecuted God’s people, though he permitted their wickedness, to chastise the guilty. (Menochius) — Seba had formerly withdrawn the people from David in the same manner, 2 Kings xx. 1. (Haydock) — Abulensis thinks that as God had chosen Jeroboam, and his rival acted tryannically, the people did right. (Tirinus)

Ver. 17. Them, as well as over many, who came into his territory, that they might practise the true religion, without restraint. (Haydock) (Chap. xi. 13.) — The kings of Juda afterwards made various conquests, chap. xiii. 19. Hence they were able to contend with the other tribes (Calmet) with advantage. (Haydock) — Even at first, Roboam put himself at the head of 180,000 chosen men, ver. 21. Abia had an army of 400,000, and Asa near 600,000; while Josaphat had 1,160,000 soldiers, 2 Paralipomenon xiii. 3., and xiv. 8., and xvii. 14.

Ver. 18. Aduram. One of the same name had occupied this post under David, 2 Kings xx. 24. (Calmet) — Some suppose that this is the same with Adoniram, chap. iv. 6. Roboam impudently sent him to appease the people, (Salien) or haughtily to demand the usual tribute; unless the king abandoned him to the fury of the populace, as an object of their horror. The people have often been appeased by the death of rapacious ministers. — Haste. Hebrew, “he strengthened himself,” or obstinately persisted in his resolution of reducing the people by force; and thus those, who might now have been easily reclaimed, were driven to choose another king, and the evil became irremediable. (Calmet)

Ver. 20. Again, from Egypt, ver. 2. (Haydock) — He had not been present, it seems, at the second assembly; or, at least, he had retired as soon as Roboam had given his decision. But the people having stoned Aduram, and thus rendered a reconciliation very difficult, Jeroboam was invited to accept the crown. (Calmet) — As this was conformable to his utmost desires and the prophet’s declaration, he made no demur, chap. xi. 37. (Haydock) Only. Benjamin was a small tribe, and so intermixed with the tribe of Juda, (the very city of Jerusalem being partly in Juda, partly in Benjamin) that they are here counted but as one tribe. (Challoner) — Perhaps Benjamin at first hesitated; but, considering the greater danger to which it would be exposed, embraced the party of Roboam, ver. 21. (Salien)

Ver. 21. Fourscore.[Eighty.] Septuagint, “twenty.” (Du Hamel) — But the Alexandrian copy agrees with the Hebrew. (Haydock)

Ver. 24. Them. This shews the great authority of Semeias. He wrote the history of Roboam, 2 Paralipomenon xii. 15. He also foretold the irruption of Sesac, to punish the house of Israel; but not to destroy it. (Calmet) — The obedience of Roboam deserves applause; though it would have been a vain attempt to resist God, who was resolved to punish his family. (Menochius) — God must have touched the hearts of the leaders, to convince them that he spoke by the mouth of Semeias. (Salien) — The Vatican Septuagint here subjoins almost the whole history of Jeroboam, improperly. (Haydock) See chap. xiv.

Ver. 25. Built, or “had built,” while Roboam was preparing for his invasion. (Salien) — Sichem and Phanuel had been ruined by Abimelech, and by Gedeon, Judges viii. 17., and ix. 45. (Calmet) — By means of these fortresses, he secured both sides of the Jordan. (Haydock) — Jeroboam afterwards fixed his residence at Thirsa, where the court was kept, till Amri built Samaria.

Ver. 27. Him. Jeroboam chose to follow the dictates of human policy, rather than to depend on the express declaration of God, who had given him the kingdom. It was natural that the people should have a predilection for the house of David; (Calmet) and he might fear that the priests would prevail upon them to return to their old master, as they dwelt about Jerusalem. (Salien)

Ver. 28. Device. Wicked policy, to make religion subservient to the state. (Worthington) — Jeroboam was right in judging, (Haydock) that it is one of the strongest foundations of government, (Calmet) and therefore he would have a peculiar religion for his subjects. (Haydock) — Strange blindness, caused by ambition! As if God could not have maintained him on the throne. The sequel evinces how delusive were his wicked projects. (Calmet) — Calves. It is likely, by making his gods in this form, he mimicked the Egyptians, among whom he had sojourned, who worshipped their Apis and their Osiris under the form of a bullock. (Challoner) (St. Jerome in Osee iv. 15., and v., &c.) — The Greeks commonly style these idols, heifers, as more contemptible than bulls: (Tirinus) and some Fathers style them, “calf-heads.” (Lactantius iv. 10.) Monceau pretends that they resembled the cherubim, and were intended to represent the true God; thus endeavouring to excuse the Israelites from idolatry, on this occasion, as well as when they came out of Egypt, Exodus xxxii. 4. But his arguments are weak, and Jeroboam is constantly condemned as a most wicked and idolatrous prince, chap. xiv. 9., 4 Kings xxiii. 15., and Osee viii. 5., and x. 5. (Calmet) — Egypt. The same had been said by Aaron. (Menochius)

Ver. 29. Bethel and Dan. Bethel was a city of the tribe of Ephraim, in the southern parts of the dominions of Jeroboam, about six leagues from Jerusalem: Dan was in the extremity of his dominions, to the north, on the confines of Syria. (Challoner) — The Israelites did not hesitate to travel so far, ver. 30. (Calmet) — Those who lived nearer Bethel, went thither along with their king. (Salien) — The latter city was assigned to Benjamin, Josue xviii. 22. (Menochius) — But probably many of the subjects of Jeroboam dwelt in it; so that it was the most southern city of his dominions. It had been consecrated by Jacob, (Genesis xxviii. 19.) and was a famous place of devotion, 1 Kings x. 3. Septuagint (Alexandrian) and St. Cyril (in Osee, p. 5.) read Galgal. Dan had been long before infected with idolatry, Judges xviii. 30.

Ver. 30. Sin, almost irreparable, which brought on the ruin of the ten tribes. Though the calves were taken away along with them into captivity, the people did not return to the service of the Lord: but the greatest part imitated the conduct of the pagans, with whom they mixed; while some few returned with the tribe of Juda, and made a part of that kingdom. The Samaritans, who were sent to inhabit their country, were not of the race of Jacob. (Calmet)

Ver. 31. Places, to other idols or devils, (2 Paralipomenon xi. 15.; Haydock) not merely at Bethel, chap. xiii. — Lowest. Such places were fittest for him. (Worthington) — Hebrew, “extremity:” others understand people of reputation: but it seems he took any whosoever would (chap. xiii. 33.) accept the office, without confining himself to the Levites. (Calmet) — Indeed most of them were banished, as refractory; (2 Paralipomenon xi. 13.) though some were so weak as to take part with him; (Ezechiel xliv. 10.) probably the descendants of Micha, Judges xviii. 31. (Haydock) — They were not punished with instant death, like Core, though their crime seemed greater. (Salien)

Ver. 32. Day. God had prescribed the seventh month, (Calmet) and this wicked prince purposely made choice of another, that the observance of the days appointed might be obliterated. Thus the Jacobins, in France, decreed that the tenth day should be the day of rest, instead of Sunday. (Haydock) — Religious assemblies tend greatly to promote the spirit of concord and peace.

Ver. 33. To: literally, “up on,” (super) as at the end of the verse. (Haydock) — The altars were very high and large. (Calmet) — Month. Septuagint add, “on the festival which,” &c. (Menochius) — Heart. Hebrew reads millibod, (pręter) instead of molbu, (ex corde suo.) Some manuscripts retain the latter word, as it is printed also in the marginal keri. Leusden tells us, we are by no means to say it is the truer reading, because then the text must be allowed to be corrupted; but it only explains what is meant by pręter, “besides.” A marvellous explanation! and perhaps it is only to be paralleled by ei explained by non. (Kennicott) — Jeroboam has a mind to do honour to his new worship, and unites in his own person the sacerdotal and regal dignity, as the Roman emperors did. (Calmet) — Incense. Septuagint, “to sacrifice.” (Haydock) — From this period, many learned men date the 390 years of the iniquity of Israel, Ezechiel iv. 5. (Du Hamel)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

Roboam, following the counsel of young men, alienateth from him the minds of the people. They make Jeroboam king over ten tribes: he setteth up idolatry.

1 And *Roboam went to Sichem: for thither were all Israel come together to make him king.

2 But Jeroboam, the son of Nabat, who was yet in Egypt, a fugitive from the face of king Solomon, hearing of his death, returned out of Egypt.

3 And they sent and called him: and Jeroboam came, and all the multitude of Israel, and they spoke to Roboam, saying:

4 Thy father laid a grievous yoke upon us: now, therefore, do thou take off a little of the grievous service of thy father, and of his most heavy yoke, which he put upon us, and we will serve thee.

5 And he said to them: Go till the third day, and come to me again. And when the people was gone,

6 King Roboam took counsel with the old men, that stood before Solomon, his father, while he yet lived, and he said: What counsel do you give me, that I may answer this people?

7 They said to him: If thou wilt yield to this people to-day, and condescend to them, and grant their petition, and wilt speak gentle words to them, they will be thy servants always.

8 But he left the counsel of the old men, which they had given him, and consulted with the young men, that had been brought up with him, and stood before him.

9 And he said to them: What counsel do you give me, that I may answer this people, who have said to me: Make the yoke, which thy father put upon us, lighter?

10 And the young men that had been brought up with him, said: Thus shalt thou speak to this people, who have spoken to thee, saying: Thy father made our yoke heavy, do thou ease us. Thou shalt say to them: My little finger is thicker than the back of my father.

11 And now my father put a heavy yoke upon you, but I will add to your yoke: my father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions.

12 So Jeroboam, and all the people, came to Roboam the third day, as the king had appointed, saying: Come to me again the third day.

13 And the king answered the people roughly, leaving the counsel of the old men, which they had given him,

14 And he spoke to them according to the counsel of the young men, saying: My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke: My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions.

15 And the king condescended not to the people: for the Lord was turned away from him, to make good his word, *which he had spoken in the hand of Ahias, the Silonite, to Jeroboam, the son of Nabat.

16 Then the people, seeing that the king would not hearken to them, answered him, saying : What portion have we in David? or what inheritance in the son of Isai? Go home to thy dwellings, O Israel: now, David, look to thy own house. So Israel departed to their dwellings.

17 But as for all the children of Israel that dwelt in the cities of Juda, Roboam reigned over them.

18 Then king Roboam sent Aduram, who was over the tribute: and all Israel stoned him, and he died. Wherefore king Roboam made haste to get him up into his chariot, and he fled to Jerusalem:

19 And Israel revolted from the house of David, unto this day.

20 And it came to pass when all Israel heard that Jeroboam was come again, that they gathered an assembly, and sent and called him, and made him king over all Israel, and there was none that followed the house of David but the tribe of Juda only.

21 And Roboam came to Jerusalem, and gathered together all the house of Juda, and the tribe of Benjamin, a hundred fourscore thousand chosen men for war, to fight against the house of Israel, and to bring the kingdom again under Roboam, the son of Solomon.

22 *But the word of the Lord came to Semeias, the man of God, saying:

23 Speak to Roboam, the son of Solomon, the king of Juda, and to all the house of Juda, and Benjamin, and the rest of the people, saying:

24 Thus saith the Lord: You shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren, the children of Israel: let every man return to his house, for this thing is from me. They hearkened to the word of the Lord, and returned from their journey, as the Lord had commanded them.

25 And Jeroboam built Sichem in Mount Ephraim, and dwelt there, and going out from thence, he built Phanuel.

26 And Jeroboam said in his heart: Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David,

27 If this people go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem: and the heart of this people will turn to their lord Roboam, the king of Juda, and they will kill me, and return to him.

28 *And finding out a device, he made two golden calves, and said to them: Go ye up no more to Jerusalem: **Behold thy gods, O Israel, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt.

29 And he set the one in Bethel, and the other in Dan:

30 And this thing became an occasion of sin: for the people went to adore the calf as far as Dan.

31 And he made temples in the high places,* and priests of the lowest of the people, who were not of the sons of Levi.

32 And he appointed a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, after the manner of the feast that was celebrated in Juda. And going up to the altar, he did in like manner in Bethel, to sacrifice to the calves, which he had made: and he placed in Bethel priests of the high places, which he had made.

33 And he went up to the altar, which he had built in Bethel, on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, which he had devised of his own heart: and he ordained a feast to the children of Israel, and went up on the altar to burn incense.



1: Year of the World 3029.; 2 Paralipomenon x. 1.

15: 3 Kings xi. 31.; Year of the World 3030, Year before Christ 974.

22: 2 Paralipomenon xi. 2.

28: Tobias i. 5. — ** Exodus xxxii. 8.

31: 2 Paralipomenon xi. 15.