Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
Rehoboam's Reign - 2 Chronicles 11-12
When the ten tribes had renounced their allegiance to Rehoboam the son of Solomon, and had made Jeroboam their king (Kg1 12:20), Rehoboam wished to compel them by force of arms again to submit to him, and made for this purpose a levy of all the men capable of bearing arms in Judah and Benjamin. But the prophet Shemaiah commanded him, in the name of the Lord, to desist from making war upon the Israelites, they being brethren, and Rehoboam abandoned his purpose (Ch2 11:1-4, cf. Kg1 12:21-24), and began to establish his dominion over Judah and Benjamin. His kingdom, moreover, was increased in power by the immigration of the priests and Levites, whom Jeroboam had expelled from the priesthood, and also of many God-fearing Israelites out of the ten tribes, to Judah (Ch2 11:13-17). Rehoboam also set his family affairs in order, by nominating from among his many sons, whom his wives had borne to him, Abijah to be his successor on the throne, and making provision for the others in different parts of the country (Ch2 11:18-23). But when he had established his royal authority, he forsook the law of Jahve, and was punished for it by the inroad of the Egyptian king Shishak, who marched through his land with a numerous host, took Jerusalem, and plundered the palace and the temple (Ch2 12:1-11), but without wholly ruining Judah; and Rehoboam was king until his death, and his son succeeded him on the throne (Ch2 11:12-16).
The order in which these events are narrated is not chronological; they are rather grouped together according to their similarities. As Rehoboam began even in the third year of his reign to forsake the law of God, and King Shishak made war upon Judah as early as in his fifth year, the building of the fortresses may have been begun in the first three or four years, but cannot have been ended then; still less can the sons of Rehoboam have been provided for in the time before Shishak's inroad.
2 Chronicles 11:1
Rehoboam's attitude to the ten rebel tribes. Cf. Kg1 12:21-24. - Rehoboam's purpose, to subdue these tribes by force of arms, and bring them again under his dominion, and the abandonment of this purpose in consequence of the command of the prophet Shemaiah, belong in a certain measure to the history of the revolt of the ten tribes from the house of David; for the revolt only became an accomplished fact when the prophet Shemaiah proclaimed in the name of the Lord that the matter was from the Lord. Ch2 11:3. Of Jahve was the thing done; He had ordained the revolt as a chastisement of the seed of David for walking no more in His ways. Solomon had, by allowing himself to be seduced by his many foreign wives into departing from the Lord, exposed himself to the divine displeasure, and his successor Rehoboam increased the guilt by his impolitic treatment of the tribes dissatisfied with Solomon's rule, and had, if not brought about the revolt, yet hastened it; but yet the conduct of these tribes was not thereby justified. Their demand that the burdens laid upon them by Solomon should be lightened, flowed from impure and godless motives, and at bottom had its root in discontent with the theocratic rule of the house of David (see on Kg1 12:21.). The expression, "to all Israel in Judah and Benjamin," is deeper than "the whole house of Judah and Benjamin and the remnant of the people," i.e., those belonging to the other tribes who were dwelling in the tribal domains of Judah and Benjamin (Kg1 12:23); for it characterizes all who had remained true to the house of David as Israel, i.e., those who walked in the footsteps of their progenitor Israel (Jacob).
2 Chronicles 11:5
Rehoboam's measures for the fortifying of his kingdom. - To defend his kingdom against hostile attacks, Rehoboam built cities for defence in Judah. The sing. למצור is used, because the building of cities served for the defence of the kingdom. Judah is the name of the kingdom, for the fifteen fenced cities enumerated in the following verses were situated in the tribal domains of both Benjamin and Judah.
In Judah lay Bethlehem, a small city mentioned as early as in Jacob's time (Gen 35:19), two hours south of Jerusalem, the birthplace of David and of Christ (Mic 5:1; Mat 2:5, Mat 2:11), now Beit-Lahm; see on Jos 15:59. Etam is not the place bearing the same name which is spoken of in Ch1 4:32 and Jdg 15:8, and mentioned in the Talmud as the place where, near Solomon's Pools, the aqueduct which supplied Jerusalem with water commenced (cf. Robins. Pal. sub voce; Tobler, Topogr. v. Jerus. ii. S. 84ff., 855ff.);
(Note: For further information as to the commencement of this aqueduct, see the masterly dissertation of Dr. Herm. Zschokke, "Die versiegelte Quelle Salomo's," in the Tbingen Theol. Quartalschr. 1867, H. 3, S. 426ff.)
nor is it to be looked for, as Robins. loc. cit., and New Bibl. Researches, maintains, in the present village Urts (Arts), for it has been identified by Tobl., dritte Wand. S. 89, with Ain Attn, a valley south-west from Arts. Not only does the name Attn correspond more than Arts with Etam, but from it the water is conducted to Jerusalem, while according to Tobler's thorough conviction it could not have been brought from Arts. Tekoa, now Tekua, on the summit of a hill covered with ancient ruins, two hours south of Bethlehem; see on Jos 15:59.
Beth-zur was situated where the ruin Beth-Sur now stands, midway between Urts and Hebron; see on Jos 15:58. Shoko, the present Shuweike in Wady Sumt, 3 1/2 hours south-west from Jerusalem; see on Jos 15:35. Adullam, in Jos 15:35 included among the cities of the hill country, reckoned part of the lowland (Shephelah), i.e., the slope of the hills, has not yet been discovered. Tobler, dritte Wand. S. 151, conjectures that it is identical with the present Dula, about eight miles to the east of Beit-Jibrin; but this can hardly be correct (see against it, Arnold in Herzog's Realenc. xiv. S. 723. It is much more probable that its site was that of the present Deir Dubban, two hours to the north of Beit-Jibrin; see on Jos 12:15.
Gath, a royal city of the Philistines, which was first made subject to the Israelites by David (Ch1 18:1), and was under Solomon the seat of its own king, who was subject to the Israelite king (Kg1 2:39), has not yet been certainly discovered; see on Jos 13:3.
(Note: C. Schick, Reise in das Philisterland (in "Ausland" 1867, Nr. 7, S. 162), identifies Gath with the present Tel Safieh, "an isolated conical hill in the plain, like a sentinel of a watchtower or fortress, and on that account there was so much struggling for its possession." On the other hand, Konr. Furrer, Wanderungen durch Palstina, Zrich 1865, thinks, S. 133, that he has found the true situation of Gath in the Wady el Gat, northward of the ruins of Askalon.)
Mareshah, the city Marissa, on the road from Hebron to the land of the Philistines, was at a later time very important, and is not represented by the ruin Marash, twenty-four minutes to the south of Beit-Jibrin (Eleutheropolis); see on Jos 15:44, and Tobl. dritte Wand. S. 129, 142f. Ziph is probably the Ziph mentioned in Jos 15:55, in the hill country of Judah, of which ruins yet remain on the hill Ziph, about an hour and a quarter south-east of Hebron; see on Jos 15:55. C. v. Raumer thinks, on the contrary, Pal. S. 222, Anm. 249, that our Ziph, as it is mentioned along with Mareshah and other cities of the lowland, cannot be identified with either of the Ziphs mentioned in Jos 15:24 and Jos 15:55, but is probably Achzib in the lowland mentioned along with Mareshah, Jos 15:44; but this is very improbable.
Adoraim (Ἂδωραΐ́μ in Joseph. Antt. viii. 10. 1), met with in 1 Macc. 13:20 as an Idumean city, Ἄδωρα, and so also frequently in Josephus, was taken by Hyrcanus, and rebuilt by Gabinius (Jos. Antt. xiii. 15. 4, and xiv. 5. 3) under the name Δῶρα, and often spoken of along with Marissa (s. Reland, Palaest. p. 547). Robinson (Pal. sub voce) has identified it with the present Dra, a village about 7 1/2 miles to the westward of Hebron. Lachish, situated in the lowland of Judah, as we learn from Jos 15:39, is probably the present Um Lakis, on the road from Gaza to Beit-Jibrin and Hebron, to the left hand, seven hours to the west of Beit-Jibrin, on a circular height covered with ancient walls and marble fragments, and overgrown with thistles and bushes; see on Jos 10:3, and Pressel in Herz.'s Realenc. viii. S. 157f. Azekah, situated in the neighbourhood of Shoco (Ch2 11:7), and, according to Sa1 17:1, in an oblique direction near Ephes-dammim, i.e., Damm, one hour east to the south of Beit-Nettif,
(Note: Compare the interesting note of Breytenbach (Reybb. des heil. Landes, i. 134) in Tobler, dritte Wand. S. 463: "Thence (from Azekah) three miles is the city Zochot-Jude, not far from Nobah, where David slew Goliath.")
has not been re-discovered; see on Jos 10:10.
Zorah, Samson's birthplace, is represented by the ruin Sura, at the south-west end of the ridge, which encloses the Wady es Surar on the north; see on Jos 15:33. To the north of that again lay Ajalon, now the village Jlo, on the verge of the plain Merj ibn Omeir, four leagues to the west of Gibeon; see on Jos 10:12 and Jos 19:42. Finally, Hebron, the ancient city of the patriarchs, now called el Khalil (The friend of God, i.e., Abraham); see on Gen 23:2. All these fenced cities lay in the tribal domain of Judah, with the exception of Zorah and Ajalon, which were assigned to the tribe of Dan (Jos 19:41.). These two were probably afterwards, in the time of the judges, when a part of the Danites emigrated from Zorah and Eshtaol to the north of Palestine (Jdg 18:1), taken possession of by Benjamites, and were afterwards reckoned to the land of Benjamin, and are here named as cities which Rehoboam fortified in Benjamin. If we glance for a moment at the geographical position of the whole fifteen cities, we see that they lay partly to the south of Jerusalem, on the road which went by Hebron to Beersheba and Egypt, partly on the western slopes of the hill country of Judah, on the road by Beit-Jibrin to Gaza, while only a few lay to the north of this road towards the Philistine plain, and there were none to the north to defend the kingdom against invasions from that side. "Rehoboam seems, therefore, to have had much more apprehension of an attack from the south and west, i.e., from the Egyptians, than of a war with the northern kingdom" (Berth.). Hence we may conclude that Rehoboam fortified these cities only after the inroad of the Egyptian king Shishak.
"And he made strong the fortresses, and put captains in them," etc.; i.e., he increased their strength by placing them in a thoroughly efficient condition to defend themselves against attacks, appointing commandants (נגידים), provisioning them, and (Ch2 11:12) laying up stores of all kinds of arms. In this way he made them exceedingly strong. The last clause, Ch2 11:12, "And there were to him Judah and Benjamin," corresponds to the statement, Ch2 10:19, that Israel revolted from the house of David, and forms the conclusion of the account (vv. 1-17a) of that which Rehoboam did to establish his power and consolidate his kingdom. There follows hereupon, in
2 Chronicles 11:13
Ch2 11:13-17, the account of the internal spiritual strengthening of the kingdom of Judah by the migration of the priests and Levites, and many pious worshippers of Jahve out of all the tribes, to the kingdom of Judah.
The priests and Levites in all Israel went over to him out of their whole domain. על התיצּב, to present oneself before any one, to await his commands, cf. Zac 6:5; Job 1:6; Job 2:1; here in the signification to place oneself at another's disposal, i.e., to go over to one. The suffix in גּבוּלם refers to "all Israel." For - this was the motive of their migration, Ch2 11:14 -the Levites (in the wider signification of the word, including the priests) forsook their territory and their possessions, i.e., the cities assigned to them, with the pasture lands for their cattle (Num 35:1-8), scil. in the domain of the ten tribes; "for Jeroboam and his sons had driven them out from the priesthood of Jahve." To prevent his subjects from visiting the temple at Jerusalem, which he feared might ultimately cause the people to return to the house of David, Jeroboam had erected his own places of worship for his kingdom in Bethel and Dan, where Jahve was worshipped in the ox images (the golden calves), and had appointed, not the Levites, but men from the body of the people, to be priests in these so-called sanctuaries (Kg1 12:26-31), consecrated by himself. By these innovations not only the priests and Levites, who would not recognise this unlawful image-worship, were compelled to migrate to Judah and Jerusalem, but also the pious worshippers of the Lord, who would not renounce the temple worship which had been consecrated by God Himself. All Jeroboam's successors held firmly by this calf-worship introduced by him, and consequently the driving out of the priests and Levites is here said to have been the act of Jeroboam and his sons. By his sons are meant Jeroboam's successors on the throne, without respect to the fact that of Jeroboam's own sons only Nadab reached the throne, and that his dynasty terminated with him; for in this matter all the kings of Israel walked in the footsteps of Jeroboam.
And had ordained him priests for the high places. ויּעמד־לו is a continuation of הזניחם כּי, Ch2 11:14. בּמות are the places of worship which were erected by Jeroboam for the image-worship, called in Kg1 12:31 בּמות בּית; see on that passage. The gods worshipped in these houses in high places the author of the Chronicle calls שׂעירים from their nature, and עגלים from their form. The word שׂעירים is taken from Lev 17:7, and signifies demons, so named from the Egyptian idolatry, in which the worship of goats, of Pan (Mendes), who was always represented in the form of a goat, occupied a prominent place; see on Lev 17:7. For further details as to the עגלים, see on Kg1 12:28.
אחריהם, after them, i.e., following after the priests and Levites. With את־לבבם הנּתנים, who turned their hearts thereto, cf. Ch1 22:19. They went to Jerusalem to sacrifice there; i.e., as we learn from the context, not merely to offer sacrifices, but also to remain in the kingdom of Judah.
These immigrants - priests, Levites, and pious worshippers of Jahve-made the kingdom of Judah strong, by strengthening the religious foundation on which the kingdom was founded, and made Rehoboam strong three years, so that they (king and people) walked in the way of David and Solomon. The strengthening lasted only three years-only while the opposition to Jeroboam's action in the matter of religion was kept alive by the emigration of the pious people from the ten tribes. What occurred after these three years is narrated only in 2 Chron 12. - Here there follows, in
2 Chronicles 11:18
Ch2 11:18-23, information as to Rehoboam's family relationships. - Ch2 11:18. Instead of בּן we must read, with the Keri, many MSS, lxx, and Vulg., בּת: Mahalath the daughter of Jerimoth, the son of David. Among the sons of David (Ch1 3:1-8) no Jerimoth is found. If this name be not another form of יתרעם, Ch1 3:3, Jerimoth must have been a son of one of David's concubines. Before the name אביחיל, ו must have been dropped out, and is to be supplied; so that Mahalath's father and mother are both named: the daughter of Jerimoth the son of David, and Abihail the daughter of Eliab the son of Jesse, i.e., David's eldest brother (Ch1 2:13; Sa1 17:13). For Abihail cannot be held to be a second wife of Rehoboam, because Ch2 11:19, "and she bore," and Ch2 11:20, "and after her," show that in Ch2 11:18 only one wife is named. She bare him three sons, whose names occur only here (Ch2 11:19).
2 Chronicles 11:20
Maachah the daughter, i.e., the granddaughter, of Absalom; for she cannot have been Absalom's daughter, because Absalom, according to Sa2 14:27, had only one daughter, Tamar by name, who must have been fifty years old at Solomon's death. According to Sa2 18:18, Absalom left no son; Maachah therefore can only be a daughter of Tamar, who, according to Ch2 13:2, was married to Uriel of Gibeah: see on Kg1 15:2. Abijah, the oldest son of Maachah, whom his father nominated his successor (Ch2 11:22 and Ch2 12:16), is called in the book of Kings constantly Abijam, the original form of the name, which was afterwards weakened into Abijah.
2 Chronicles 11:21
Only these wives with their children are mentioned by name, though besides these Rehoboam had a number of wives, 18 wives and 60 (according to Josephus, 30) concubines, who bore him twenty-eight sons and sixty daughters. Rehoboam trod in his father's footsteps in this not quite praise-worthy point. The eldest son of Maachah he made head (לראשׁ), i.e., prince, among his brethren; להמליכו כּי, for to make him king, scil. was his intention. The infin. with ל is here used in the swiftness of speech in loose connection to state with what further purpose he had appointed him נגיד; cf. Ew. 351, c, at the end.
2 Chronicles 11:23
And he did wisely, and dispersed of all his sons in all the countries of Judah and Benjamin, i.e., dispersed all his sons so, that they were placed in all parts of Judah and Benjamin in the fenced cities, and he gave them victual in abundance, and he sought (for them) a multitude of wives. שׁאל, to ask for, for the father brought about the marriage of his sons. He therefore took care that his sons, by being thus scattered in the fenced cities of the country as their governors, were separated from each other, but also that they received the necessary means for living in a way befitting their princely rank, in the shape of an abundant maintenance and a considerable number of wives. They were thus kept in a state of contentment, so that they might not make any attempt to gain the crown, which he had reserved for Abijah; and in this lay the wisdom of his conduct.