2 Chronicles 11 (NLT)
We are in Chronicles — so we will hear the best interpretation of events on the family of David. We also see a closer focus on the Lord.
1When Rehoboam arrived at Jerusalem, he mobilized the men of Judah and Benjamin—180,000 select troops—to fight against Israel and to restore the kingdom to himself.
2 But the Lord said to Shemaiah, the man of God, 3 “Say to Rehoboam son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all the Israelites in Judah and Benjamin: 4 ‘This is what the Lord says: Do not fight against your relatives. Go back home, for what has happened is my doing!’” So they obeyed the message of the Lord and did not fight against Jeroboam.
This seems amazing to me! Here is Rehoboam, having just lost the majority of his kingdom and subjects, with thousands of troops ready to fight and win it all back, and this guy whom we have not heard of before shows up and says, “God says to let it go” — and Rehoboam lets it go.
How willing am I to listen to Jesus? How willing am I to give up my plans when I receive opposite counsel from the Lord?
HERE is “I heard the voice of Jesus say” — with a bit of an Irish lilt.
Rehoboam Fortifies Judah
Stung by the civil war that more than halved his kingdom, Rehoboam set his focus on security, building a series of fortified cities for defense.
5 Rehoboam remained in Jerusalem and fortified various towns for the defense of Judah. 6 He built up Bethlehem, Etam, Tekoa, 7 Beth-zur, Soco, Adullam, 8 Gath, Mareshah, Ziph, 9 Adoraim, Lachish, Azekah, 10 Zorah, Aijalon, and Hebron. These became the fortified towns of Judah and Benjamin. 11 Rehoboam strengthened their defenses and stationed commanders in them, and he stored supplies of food, olive oil, and wine. 12He also put shields and spears in these towns as a further safety measure. So only Judah and Benjamin remained under his control.
13 But all the priests and Levites living among the northern tribes of Israel sided with Rehoboam. 14 The Levites even abandoned their pasturelands and property and moved to Judah and Jerusalem, because Jeroboam and his sons would not allow them to serve the Lord as priests.
Spiritually speaking, Israel was struck twice – by the ungodly religion of Jeroboam and by the departure of the godly and faithful. There were few godly people left in the northern kingdom.
“Viewed even as a stroke of policy, this ejection of the Lord’s priests and Levites was a blunder. They went over in a body, almost, to Jeroboam’s rival, and thereby ‘strengthened the kingdom of Judah.'”
15 Jeroboam appointed his own priests to serve at the pagan shrines, where they worshiped the goat and calf idols he had made.
16 From all the tribes of Israel, those who sincerely wanted to worship the Lord, the God of Israel, followed the Levites to Jerusalem, where they could offer sacrifices to the Lord, the God of their ancestors. 17 This strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and for three years they supported Rehoboam son of Solomon, for during those years they faithfully followed in the footsteps of David and Solomon.
So for a short time, Rehoboam was faithful to the Lord, aided by the priests and Levites and other people who moved out of the Northern Kingdom in order to resist the institution of idolatry that Jeroboam had chosen.
18 Rehoboam married his cousin Mahalath, the daughter of David’s son Jerimoth and of Abihail, the daughter of Eliab son of Jesse. 19Mahalath had three sons—Jeush, Shemariah, and Zaham.
20 Later Rehoboam married another cousin, Maacah, the daughter of Absalom. Maacah gave birth to Abijah, Attai, Ziza, and Shelomith. 21 Rehoboam loved Maacah more than any of his other wives and concubines. In all, he had eighteen wives and sixty concubines, and they gave birth to twenty-eight sons and sixty daughters.
Rehoboam obviously did not learn from his father Solomon’s error. Though he had far fewer wives and concubines (he was probably less able to support as many), he still had a heart that broke the command of Deuteronomy 17:17– “He (the king) must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray.”
22 Rehoboam appointed Maacah’s son Abijah as leader among the princes, making it clear that he would be the next king. 23 Rehoboam also wisely gave responsibilities to his other sons and stationed some of them in the fortified towns throughout the land of Judah and Benjamin. He provided them with generous provisions, and he found many wives for them.
Rehoboam imitated his father’s practice of delegation of royal authority by means of district governors (cf. 1 Kings 4:7-19) but made these appointments from among his own sons. This policy prevented infighting among prospective successors to the throne, solidified the king’s position, guarded against coup attempts, ensured an heir for the continuation of the dynasty (since housing the princes in one location would have made it easier for a usurper to execute all rivals), and extended the influence of the royal family to outlying districts.
–note from The Archaeological Study Bible
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.