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Deeper Commentary

1Ki 14:1 At that time Abijah the son of Jeroboam fell sick-
"Abijah" is 'father of Yah' but that effectively means 'worshipper of Yah', and his naming further indicates that Jeroboam was initially aware of Yahweh worship. He had the potential of being the Divinely blessed king of Israel, with the promises to David fulfilled through him (1 Kings 11:38). His twisting of Yahweh worship is therefore the more reprehensible. Abijah is not to be imagined as a little child; see on :13.

1Ki 14:2 Jeroboam said to his wife, Please get up and disguise yourself, that you won’t be recognized as the wife of Jeroboam. Go to Shiloh. Behold, there is Ahijah the prophet, who spoke concerning me that I should be king over this people-
This turning to Yahweh in time of need, rather than to other gods, indicates that he had a conscience toward Yahweh and after the healing of his withered hand by the prophet from Judah, he knew that Yahweh was really the only God who could heal. "Ahijah" is 'brother of Yah' but that effectively means 'worshipper of Yah'. It is very similar to "Abijah", and we wonder if Jeroboam initially believed Ahijah's prophecies of 1 Kings 11:38, and named his child after the prophet, as well as making a statement of his commitment to Yahweh worship. 

1Ki 14:3 Take with you ten loaves, cakes and a jar of honey, and go to him-
The possible death of the child would confirm the annulling of the promises about Jeroboam fulfilling the promises about the house of David. That had been made clear by the prophet from Judah in 1 Kings 13, and now at this same time (:1) the message was being confirmed by the death of Jeroboam's son Abijah, who symbolized his weak attempt at fulfilling the potential of the prophecies of Ahijah about him. We see internal corroboration of the record in the character presentation of Jeroboam; in 1 Kings 13:7 and also 1 Kings 14:3, Jeroboam thinks that prophets must be paid for their services.

He will tell you what will become of the child-
Again we sense Jeroboam's recognition of the power and truth of Yahweh and His prophets, although he preferred his own power and kingdom to His.

1Ki 14:4 Jeroboam’s wife did so, and arose, and went to Shiloh, and came to the house of Ahijah. Now Ahijah could not see; for his eyes were set by reason of his age-
His eyes were set" is the phrase used about Eli (1 Sam. 4:15), and he was also in Shiloh, at the sanctuary. The statistical chance of the phrase and town occurring together is too great to be chance. But as with our own lives, we cannot always attach meaning to event and coincidence. It could simply be that Ahijah was to meditate upon the similarities between himself and Eli and learn the lessons from Eli's failures and final rejection by God. Shiloh was in Ephraim, near Shechem, the capital of Jeroboam. It was a priestly city, but we wonder why Ahijah had not joined the other Levites in migrating to Judah. Perhaps old age had stopped him. We note from here and the prophet of Yahweh in Bethel of 1 Kings 13 that there were faithful prophets still in the ten tribes. Indeed by Elijah's time there were 7000 who were still faithful, and Obadiah hid 100 of Yahweh's prophets in a cave.  

1Ki 14:5 Yahweh said to Ahijah, The wife of Jeroboam is coming to inquire of you concerning her son; for he is sick. This is what you shall tell her; for it will be, when she comes in, that she will pretend to be another woman-
Jeroboam knew that Ahijah was likely to condemn him and his wife for the golden calves and other idolatry. We have an insight into human nature here. Jeroboam and his wife believed Ahijah had God's help and power to know the future for their child, and the power to heal him. But they thought they could deceive him, so that his blindness stopped him perceiving that she was not Jeroboam's wife. We may believe in God's knowledge of the future and His power; but yet disbelieve His ability to see us and know us right now for who we really are. This is why the tendency of some to focus upon Bible prophecy, God's knowledge of the future and power in future history, can become an obsession which somehow mutes our awareness of His knowledge of us personally right now.

1Ki 14:6 It was so, when Ahijah heard the sound of her feet, as she came in at the door, that he said, Come in, you wife of Jeroboam! Why do you pretend to be another? For I am sent to you with heavy news-
The woman came to Ahijah, having been sent by Jeroboam; but Ahijah was "sent" to him. This is part of a wider theme of God's word 'coming' to us, and God 'coming' to us, through His word. God Himself is spoken of as coming, descending etc. when He ‘preaches’ to humanity (e.g. Gen. 11:5; Ex. 19:20; Num. 11:25; 2 Sam. 22:10). In Jer. 39:16, the imprisoned Jeremiah is told to “go, tell Ebed-melech...” a word from the Lord about him. Jeremiah couldn’t have literally left prison to do so – but the idea is that a person encountering the Lord’s word has as it were experienced the Lord ‘going’ to him or her. And in this sense the message of the Lord Jesus (in its essence) could ‘go’ to persons without Him physically going anywhere or even existing consciously at the time (1 Pet. 3:19).

1Ki 14:7 Go, tell Jeroboam, ‘Thus says Yahweh, the God of Israel: Because I exalted you from among the people, and made you prince over My people Israel-
The "Because... therefore" judgment (:10) shows that those who are called to potentials are held responsible for their failure to realize them, and are judged accordingly. And we are all called to various potential good works (Eph. 2:10). Jeroboam had been the son of a prostitute (LXX) whom God exalted very far. But he used it for himself rather than God's service. "Exalted" is the same word used of how Jeroboam "lifted up his hand" against Solomon (1 Kings 11:26,27). But God exalted / lifted up Jeroboam, and ultimately he became king of the ten tribes. His revolt or lifting up his hand against Solomon was therefore of God.

Baasha was intended to learn from the path of Jeroboam, for he too was "exalted" (s.w. 1 Kings 16:2) from nothing to be prince over Israel. But Baasha like Jeroboam made the people sin. We are intended to learn from the life path of others. This is why we have Biblical history, and it is why God controls the encounters of those we meet in life.

1Ki 14:8 and tore the kingdom away from the house of David, and gave it you; and yet you have not been as My servant David who kept My commandments, and who followed Me with all his heart, to do only that which was right in My eyes-
The final comment upon Jeroboam is that he was not as God’s servant David (1 Kings 14:7-9). And yet he was set up with that potential possibility. Consider:

Jeroboam (1Kings 11) - David

Man of valour v. 28- As David 1 Sam. 16:18 RV;

Young man v. 28 - 1 Sam. 17:58

Ruler over all v. 28 - 1 Sam. 18:5

I will take you and you shall reign over Israel v. 37 - 2 Sam. 7:8

Build a house v. 38 - 2 Sam. 7:11

v. 40 - 1 Sam. 19:2,10

And it works the other way, too. Prophecies of doom can be turned round by our repentance. Nineveh avoiding certain destruction on account of their repentance is a clear example.

1Ki 14:9 but you have done evil above all who were before you, and have gone and made you other gods and molten images, to provoke Me to anger-
God can be grieved [s.w. 'provoke to anger']. He has emotions, and His potential foreknowledge doesn't mean that these feelings are not legitimate. They are presented as occurring in human time, as responses to human behaviour. This is the degree to which He has accommodated Himself to human time-space limits, in order to fully enter relationship and experience with us. As He can limit His omnipotence, so God can limit His omniscience, in order to feel and respond along with us. 

And have cast Me behind your back-
The same phrase is used in Neh. 9:26 of how Israel cast God's law behind their backs. "The word was God", attitudes to God's word are attitudes to Him. 

1Ki 14:10 therefore, behold, I will bring evil on the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam every male, he who is shut up and he who is left free in Israel, and will utterly sweep away the house of Jeroboam, as a man sweeps away dung, until it is all gone-
The preceding verses show that the extreme judgment pronounced was because of the great potentials God had enabled for Jeroboam (see 1 Kings 11:38). But he refused to realize them. We live in an age of great potentials. We are generally literate, mobile, with easy access to God's word; and many members of the body of Christ live in relative ease and luxury, free from persecution. The potentials for service are far higher for the average believer today than they were centuries ago. So this issue of judgment according to wasted potentials is so relevant to our age. "He who is shut up and he who is left free" is apparently an idiom referring to children still shut up at home, and those who are free to move about independently. The meaning would then be "young and old".

1Ki 14:11 He who dies of Jeroboam in the city shall the dogs eat; and he who dies in the field shall the birds of the sky eat: for Yahweh has spoken it’-
The next verse goes on to state that Jeroboam's child "in the city" was to die. But then the judgment that he would be eaten by dogs is not applied to him in :13. To not "come to the grave" (:13) meant being thrown onto the rubbish tip like Gehenna, and eaten by dogs. The Lord's New Testament references to Gehenna are another way of saying 'Those put there will not have a decent burial', which was the greatest fear of the Semitic mind.  

1Ki 14:12 Arise therefore, and go to your house. When your feet enter into the city, the child shall die-
See on :11. By returning home, she was bringing about the death of her child. There could have been here an appeal for repentance; if she had not returned to her home in Tirzah, thereby resigning her position as queen of the apostate kingdom, then she might have saved her child's life. See on :17.

1Ki 14:13 All Israel shall mourn for him, and bury him; for he only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave, because in him there is found some good thing toward Yahweh, the God of Israel, in the house of Jeroboam-
In Jeroboam's son "there was found some good thing"  toward God. If Jeroboam's son was righteous, it is likely that Jeroboam and / or his wife had a spiritual side to them. But they didn't live up to their potential. See on 1 Kings 11:38. The child was old enough to have some spirituality, and God recognized this. "All Israel" knew of him, so he was presumably not a small child. The word for "child" is used of Solomon when he became king (1 Kings 3:7). He must have been an unusual child to have "some good thing toward Yahweh", because he was surrounded by every possible influence away from the true God. It is stressed that the child died "in the city", as soon as his mother returned there. The judgment of :11 was that those who died in the city would be eaten by dogs, but this is here ameliorated, by grace.

1Ki 14:14 Moreover Yahweh will raise Him up a king over Israel, who shall cut off the house of Jeroboam. This is the day! What? Even now-
What God plans and purposes is effectively done at that moment of planning, so certain is His will and power. Therefore He speaks of those things which do not exist physically as if they do (Rom. 4:17). What will be, is now, from God's perspective. The Angel commented that God’s words of future prophecy are “true and faithful… they are come to pass” (Rev. 21:6 RV). They are as good as done as soon as they are uttered, so certain are they of fulfillment. Thus 1 Kings 14:14 AV: "The Lord shall raise him up a king… but what? Even now". The future reality could be spoken of as effectively "even now". This is the way to understand those passages which appear to teach that both Jesus and ourselves existed physically before our birth. God doesn't completely express Himself in our terms and language (although of course to some degree He does).

1Ki 14:15 Yahweh will strike Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water; and He will root up Israel out of this good land which He gave to their fathers, and will scatter them beyond the River, because they have made their Asherim, provoking Yahweh to anger-
As Egypt was a reed, so were Israel (1 Kings 14:15). As Pharaoh’s heart was plagued (Ex. 9:14), so was Israel’s (1 Kings 8:38); as Pharaoh-hophra was given into the hand of his enemies, so would Israel be (Jer. 44:30). She would be  “Condemned with the world...”. There is a major Biblical theme that when God's people lose faith, they are described and treated as the world. The uprooting of Israel was because they as a people had broken covenant (Dt. 29:28). But the same word is used in Jer. 18:7; if God says He will uproot a nation, then they can still repent and change the otherwise inevitable outcome. This is why there is a gap between the statement of judgment, and its fulfilment. The statement that God's people would no longer be uprooted (s.w. Am. 9:15) therefore means that the good news of the Kingdom is that God's people will no longer sin and have to be judged.

1Ki 14:16 He will give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, which he has sinned, and with which he has made Israel to sin-
The 'giving up' was to captivity, which is the context of :15. Yet the prophets repeatedly appealed for Israel's repentance, so that this outcome would not happen. But Ahijah here says that they were to go into captivity because of Jeroboam's sins. One way to reconcile this is to understand that there is a gap between God's statement of judgment, and His fulfilment of it. In that gap, repentance and prayer can change the execution of what has been stated. We all stand and live in such a gap, and it gives intensity to the need for prayer and repentant living.

1Ki 14:17 Jeroboam’s wife arose, and departed, and came to Tirzah. As she came to the threshold of the house, the child died-
We see grace interlaced throughout the judgments. Whoever of Jeroboam's children died in the city was to be eaten by dogs and not buried. But an exception was made for this child. The judgment had been that as soon as she entered the city, the child would die (:12). But God allowed her to walk from the city limits to her house before the child died. We wonder if this delay was a reflection of God's desperate hope for her repentance.

1Ki 14:18 All Israel buried him and mourned for him, according to the word of Yahweh, which He spoke by His servant Ahijah the prophet-
This fulfilment of :13 suggests Abijah was not a small child but was known in Israel.

1Ki 14:19 The rest of the acts of Jeroboam, how he warred and how he reigned, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel-
This is not necessarily the same as the "book of Chronicles" which we have in the Bible. However, 2 Chron. 13:3-20 describes the wars of Jeroboam with Judah, and how Judah captured cities from Jeroboam. 

1Ki 14:20 Jeroboam reigned for twenty two years: and he slept with his fathers, and Nadab his son reigned in his place-
Jeroboam named his sons Abijah [Abihu] and Nadab- the very names of Aaron's sons. It seems Jeroboam tried to model himself upon Aaron, and justify the building of the calves by interpreting what Aaron did as a positive, righteous thing (as some Jewish expositors do today). He overlooked the fact that Aaron was condemned for making the calf, and that Nadab and Abihu were slain for unacceptable worship (Lev. 10:1,2). We too can justify outright wrong behaviour in the name of superficial allusion to Scripture, willfully failing to see the similarities between our actions and those of men who were condemned for doing in essence the things which we seek to justify. Jeroboam allowed the ordinary people to be priests; in Ex. 32 we learn that the ordinary people offered the sacrifices to the golden calf, not the priests. Again, it seems that Jeroboam was trying to consciously mimic the golden calf apostasy. It is no accident that Josiah stamped his calves to powder, just as Moses did to the golden calf. Now why did Jeroboam so consciously lead Israel into the same apostasy which brought them as it were within a hairs breadth of national rejection in Ex. 32? Jeroboam wasn't ignorant. Perhaps he had gone down a path of contorted exposition which made out that Israel didn't really sin by worshipping the calf. Or perhaps he got so carried away with the idea that he was like Aaron, the priest, that he thought (like some modern Rabbis) that Aaron couldn't have done anything wrong, and therefore he consciously copied Aaron, as he did David, Solomon, Jacob and Samuel. Again, we see Jeroboam having a familiarity with Scripture, but not pausing to really meditate upon his actions or upon the real spirit of the word. We see him failing to analyze why Aaron acted as he did, failing to see that Aaron acted politically, failing to deeply analyze his own motives.  The character of Jeroboam shines through here.

1Ki 14:21 Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem-
1 Kings 14:21; 2 Chron. 12:13 says Rehoboam was 41 when he became king. But he was "young and tender hearted" (2 Chron. 13:7). The LXX addition at 1 Kings 12:24 says he was 16 when he began to reign. He was surrounded by young men who had grown up with him. I suggest on balance that he was indeed 41 and the "young men" were "young" in comparison to the older men present. The description "young and tender hearted" could simply be a purposeful repetition of the description of his father Solomon when he ascended the throne; or it could mean that he was a rather weak and child like man. 

The city which Yahweh had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, to put His name there: and his mother’s name was Naamah the Ammonitess-
The  criticism  of Solomon for marrying Gentile women also applies to  his  first  marriage  with  the daughter of Pharaoh; besides marrying  her,  he  married  the  others too, and the criticisms which  follow  are  spoken in the context of both these actions. Yet Solomon married Pharaoh's daughter in his early days, before he asked for wisdom. This is another indication that Solomon did not  start  off well and then go wrong; right from the beginning he  had this incredible dualism in his spirituality. The Talmud (Shabbath F, 56,2) records that “When Solomon married the daughter of Pharaoh she brought to him 1000 kinds of musical instruments, and taught him the chants to the various idols”. Even when Solomon was young, he evidently loved wine (Song 1:2,4)- which was later to be something he (temporarily) abandonned himself to. He had a child by an Ammonite girl one year before he became king (1 Kings 14:21)- so his relationships with foreign women cannot be put down to mere political alliances. If the Song of Solomon is about her rather than the Egyptian woman he married, one can only say that one early error, unrepentended of, paved the way for his later disasters with foreign women.

1Ki 14:22 Judah did that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh, and they provoked Him to jealousy with their sins which they committed, even worse than all that their fathers had done-
Jealousy is a lead feature within Yahweh's personality (Ex. 20:5; 34:14). It speaks specifically of the jealousy of a man concerning the faithfulness of his wife (Num. 5:14). God was the passionate lover and husband of His people, and it is inevitable therefore that the extent of that love would produce jealousy when they spurned Him and went after other men, the idols. At this point they only began to do this evil after Rehoboam had established his kingdom and felt strong (2 Chron. 12:1). Yahweh was no longer apparently needed by them, and so they turned to other gods. Maachah his beloved wife (2 Chron. 11:20-22) was an idolater (2 Chron. 15:16).     

1Ki 14:23 For they also built themselves high places, and pillars and Asherim on every high hill, and under every green tree-
Houses of worship were built on the high places as Jeroboam had done (1 Kings 12:31), and these became Jeroboam's answer to centralized worship on one building, the temple, in one place, Jerusalem. But Judah "also" did this, they were influenced by Jeroboam's style of worship.

1Ki 14:24 and there were also sodomites in the land: they did according to all the abominations of the nations which Yahweh drove out before the children of Israel-
These sodomites were associated with the idol shrines (1 Kings 14:23; 1 Kings 15:12). They may well have been Gentiles from Phoenicia, hence they were expelled from the land rather than killed (1 Kings 15:12). They may well have been involved with homosexual practices, but the Hebrew qadesh means literally a devoted person.     

1Ki 14:25 It happened in the fifth year of king Rehoboam-
This was after Rehoboam was established in his own strength; see on :22.

That Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem-
Shishak had given refuge to Jeroboam (1 Kings 11:40), so it could be that he urged Shishak to attack Judah once Rehoboam became established as king of Judah. "A monument of this king, the first of the 22nd dynasty, has been discovered at Karnak in Upper Egypt, recording his conquests and the names of certain towns which he had taken in Palestine". Inscriptions on the wall of the temple at Karnak list many conquered cities, including three of the "cities for defence" which Rehoboam had built, Shoco, Adoraim and Aijalon (2 Chron. 11:7-10). The list also includes many cities within the ten tribes, suggesting that if Jeroboam got Shishak to invade Judah, Shishak then turned against his one time protégé Jeroboam and invaded the ten tribes also.

1Ki 14:26 and he took away the treasures of the house of Yahweh, and the treasures of the king’s house; he took away all: and he took away all the shields of gold which Solomon had made-
 LXX mentions that David took golden spears from Hadadezer: “And the golden spears which David took from the hand of the servants of Adraazar king of Soba and carried to Jerusalem, he took them all”.  These would not have been used as real spears, but were part of the worship of the golden sun which was the main religion in Syria at the time. David would have been better destroying them, rather than bringing idol paraphernalia into Jerusalem. For it later contributed towards the freedom Judah felt to worship sun gods. These spears would have been taken at the time of 2 Sam. 8:7: "David took the shields of gold that were on the servants of Hadadezer, and brought them to Jerusalem". "Hadad" was the god of the sun, "Hadadezer" had not been 'helped by Hadad' as his name means, and so David brought these golden imitations of the sun to Yahweh's temple. It is perhaps questionable whether David should have brought idols into Jerusalem; we note that later Judah worshipped sun gods. David's actions here were not blessed, for the LXX adds “And Susakim [i.e. Shishak] king of Egypt took them, when he went up to Jerusalem in the days of Roboam the son of Solomon”. 

2 Chron. 12:5-8 recounts the temporary repentance of Rehoboam as a result of the challenge of the prophet Shemaiah at this time.

1Ki 14:27 King Rehoboam made in their place shields of brass, and committed them to the hands of the captains of the guard, who kept the door of the king’s house-
Gold being downgraded to brass reflects the decline of faith in Rehoboam, for gold is a symbol of faith (1 Pet. 1:7).

1Ki 14:28 It was so, that as often as the king went into the house of Yahweh, the guard bore them, and brought them back into the guard room-
This indicates that there was a very low level of security even in the Jerusalem temple. Rehoboam wished by all means to imitate the worship of his father Solomon, but it was on a pathetically lower level. Despite all his idolatry, he still entered the temple for public worship of Yahweh. This was Israel's recurrent problem, to worship both Yahweh and the idols.

1Ki 14:29 Now the rest of the acts of Rehoboam, and all that he did, aren’t they written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?-
This may not be a reference to the books we know as "Chronicles", but it is noteworthy that the parallel record in Chronicles is far more detailed at this point than what we are reading in Kings.

1Ki 14:30 There was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam continually-
This would indicate disobedience to the command to Rehoboam not to fight the ten tribes (1 Kings 12:24).

1Ki 14:31 Rehoboam slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David: and his mother’s name was Naamah the Ammonitess. Abijam his son reigned in his place
His mother's name is twice stressed (see on :21). The records of the kings so often mention their mothers, in reflection of the huge spiritual influence of a mother upon her children.