New European Commentary


About | PDFs | Mobile formats | Word formats | Other languages | Contact Us | What is the Gospel? | Support the work | Carelinks Ministries | | The Real Christ | The Real Devil | "Bible Companion" Daily Bible reading plan

Deeper Commentary

2Ch 12:1 When the kingdom of Rehoboam was established and he had made himself strong, he forsook the law of Yahweh, and all Israel with him-
Yahweh was no longer apparently needed by them, and so they turned to other gods. Maachah his beloved second wife (2 Chron. 11:20-22) was an idolater (2 Chron. 15:16). The simple truth is that those who perceive how powerless they are... turn to God for strength. And those who refuse to are those who turn away from Him to idols.

2Ch 12:2 It happened in the fifth year of king Rehoboam, that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, because they had trespassed against Yahweh-
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.

2Ch 12:3 with twelve hundred chariots and sixty thousand horsemen. The people were without number who came with him out of Egypt: the Lubim, the Sukkiim and the Ethiopians-
Rehoboam's father Solomon had sold his soul to the Egyptians, and married the daughter of Pharaoh. But now Egypt turned against his son, just as the world does. We note that "hundred" and "thousand" are often used to denote military divisions, rather than literally 100 or 1000.

2Ch 12:4 He took the fortified cities which pertained to Judah and came to Jerusalem-
I noted on 2 Chron. 11:6,7 that Rehoboam's carefully fortified cities were all strategically positioned to defend the approaches to Jerusalem. But this was all human strength, and without God on his side it all came to nothing.

2Ch 12:5 Now Shemaiah the prophet came to Rehoboam and to the princes of Judah, who were gathered together to Jerusalem because of Shishak, and said to them, Thus says Yahweh, You have forsaken Me, therefore have I also left you in the hand of Shishak-
This may be now a quotation from the history written by Shemaiah about Rehoboam (2 Chron. 12:15). "Forsaken" is the same word as "left you". But 'You forsake Me, I'll forsake you' is not the conclusion we should take too easily. For God only forsook sinners after years of patience with them. And it is doubtful whether Rehoboam ever had much spirituality, as his father was Solomon and his mother an Ammonitess pagan. Yet he was generously counted as 'with Yahweh'.

2Ch 12:6 Then the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves; and they said, Yahweh is righteous-
Who God is, as expressed in His Name, is an imperative to prepare ourselves to meet Him in judgment. The confession of the Name is paralleled with repentance in 2 Chron. 6:24. There we read that if Israel sin and repent ''and confess Your name" they will be forgiven. But instead of ''confess Your name'' we expect ''confess their sins": the point being that to confess the name is effectively to confess sins. The name is the characteristics of Yahweh. The more we meditate upon them, the more we will naturally be lead to a confession of our sins, the deeper we will sense the gap between those principles and our own character. Likewise here, the statement that ''the Lord is righteous'' is effectively a confession of sin. And thus we are not to bear or take the Name of Yahweh called upon us at baptism in vain- the realty of the implications of the name are not to be lost upon us. But we note that Solomon had envisaged Israel sinning, repenting and being saved by reason of the temple. But here, humility was what was required. Solomon had been wrong in assuming that the temple would be a kind of mediatrix of forgiveness.

2Ch 12:7 When Yahweh saw that they humbled themselves, the word of Yahweh came to Shemaiah, saying, They have humbled themselves. I will not destroy them; but I will grant them some deliverance. My wrath shall not be poured out on Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak-
"Shemaiah", 'Yah has heard', gave them the message that He had heard their humility, as if that itself was reckoned as prayer. And indeed, character and situation are often effectively reckoned as prayer. We have the impression that God had intended the destruction of Jerusalem at this point; but He relented, in response to their repentance. Just as He did with Nineveh. There is a gap between His statement of judgment, and its fulfilment. During that gap, we can change the outcome by prayer and repentance.

"They have humbled themselves" could be an expression of pleasant surprise. Scripture repeatedly speaks as if God notices things and is then hurt or encouraged by what He sees (Jonah 3:10; Gen. 29:31; Ex. 3:4; Dt. 32:19; 2 Kings 14:26; 2 Chron. 12:7; Ez. 23:13; Is. 59:15 cp. Lk. 7:13). If He knew in advance what they were going to do, this language is hard for me to understand. But God is therefore hurt and 'surprised' at sin- He saw Israel as the firstripe grapes, but they were worshipping Baal even then (Hos. 9:9). Thus God can allow Himself to feel an element of surprise- and this was a shock to Jeremiah, who queried: "Why are You like a man who is caught by surprise...?" (Jer. 14:9).

The wrath of God can be turned away by the actions of those He is angry with (Num. 25:4; Dt. 13:15-17; Ezra 10:14; Jonah 3:7,10; 2 Chron. 12:7; Jer. 4:4; 21:12). And yet that wrath can also be turned away by the prayers of a third party (Ps. 106:23; Jer. 18:20; Job 42:7). This means that in some cases, our prayers for others can be counted as if they have repented. We can gain our brother for God’s Kingdom (Mt. 18:15), as Noah saved his own house by his faithful preparation (Heb. 11:7).

2Ch 12:8 Nevertheless they shall be his servants, that they may know My service, and the service of the kingdoms of the countries-
They were to perceive in their servitude to this man what servitude to Yahweh ought to be like. They were therefore to serve him "as unto the Lord", and Col. 3:23 taught Christian slaves to serve their masters as if they were serving the Lord Jesus. This, therefore, is an abiding theme in God's dealings with His people, and has enabled so many in positions of awful subservience to be able to live out their lives with the dignity of knowing that their lives are counted as serving God.  

2Ch 12:9 So Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, and took away the treasures of the house of Yahweh, and the treasures of the king’s house. He took it all away. He also took away 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”. 

Shishak is usually identified as Shoshenq I. But as always with Egyptology, there are other claims. Immanuel Velikovsky in Ages in Chaos has him as Thutmose III of the 18th dynasty; David Rohl as Ramesses II of the 19th dynasty, and Peter James as Ramesses III of the 20th dynasty.  

2Ch 12:10 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).

2Ch 12:11 It was so, that as often as the king entered into the house of Yahweh, the guard came and carried 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.

2Ch 12:12 When he humbled himself-
"Humbled himself" is the word also used for being "subdued under" military powers. When Israel didn't subdue themselves under God, they were subdued beneath their enemies. So it was a case of humility one way or the other. And the same logic applies to us. Flesh must be humbled, either by our willing choice in this life, or in the condemnation of the last day.

The wrath of Yahweh turned from him, so as not to destroy him altogether. Moreover, in Judah there were good things found-
Ps. 78:38; 85:3 seem to suggest God Himself controlled His anger, Himself turning that anger away, rather than being like a pagan deity whose anger was appeased by blood sacrifice. God turned from His anger due to Moses' intercession (Ex. 32:12 s.w.), but this is not to say that He cannot in any case turn away His anger, simply by His grace. Just as we may control our anger from within ourselves, or at other times we may do this because of the appeal of another to us, or because there is repentance from the one who provoked us. And there were times when this was the case with God (s.w. Num. 25:4; Josh. 7:26; 2 Chron. 12:12; 29:10; 30:8).

2Ch 12:13 So king Rehoboam strengthened himself in Jerusalem, and reigned. Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which Yahweh had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, to put His name there. His mother’s name was Naamah the Ammonitess-
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. 

2Ch 12:14 He did that which was evil, because he didn’t set his heart to seek Yahweh-
Constantly, the Bible stresses the importance of the heart, and of conscious 'setting' of the heart, of directing the thoughts toward God. And doing evil is the result of failing to do this.

2Ch 12:15 Now the acts of Rehoboam, first and last, aren’t they written in the histories of Shemaiah the prophet and of Iddo the seer, after the way of genealogies?-
The priests who wrote those records in Chronicles were writing down the result of their national self-examination. This was the record of their lessons from Chronicles. Each of the genealogies say something about the people they are concerned with; and thus 2 Chron. 12:15 RVmg. speaks of how the acts of Rehoboam are reflected in the reckoning of the genealogies.

There were wars between Rehoboam and Jeroboam continually-
This would indicate disobedience to the command to Rehoboam not to fight the ten tribes (1 Kings 12:24).

2Ch 12:16 Rehoboam slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David; and Abijah his son reigned in his place
The description of death as sleeping with fathers is clear evidence that death is seen as a sleep, unconsciousness, and not as the start of an immortal soul going to heaven or 'hell'. Good and bad, David and Solomon, are gathered together in death. The division between them will only therefore come at the resurrection of the dead, and the granting of immortality at the judgment seat of the Lord Jesus.