Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
3 Kings (1 Kings) 14:1
Reign of Jeroboam. - Vv. 1-18. Ahijah's prophecy against Jeroboam and the kingdom of Israel. - As Jeroboam did not desist from his idolatry notwithstanding the threatened punishment, the Lord visited him with the illness of his son, and directed the prophet Ahijah, to whom his wife had gone to ask counsel concerning the result of the illness, to predict to him not only the cutting off of his house and the death of his sick son, but also the thrusting away of Israel out of the land of its fathers beyond the Euphrates, and in confirmation of this threat caused the sick son to die when the returning mother crossed the threshold of her house again.
When his son fell sick, Jeroboam said to his wife: Disguise thyself, that thou mayest not be known as the wife of Jeroboam, and go to Shiloh to the prophet Ahijah, who told me that I should be king over this people; he will tell thee how it will fare with the boy. השׁתּנּה, from שׁנה, to alter one's self, i.e., to disguise one's self. She was to go to Shiloh disguised, so as not to be recognised, to deceive the old prophet, because otherwise Jeroboam did not promise himself any favourable answer, as he had contemptuously neglected Ahijah's admonition (Kg1 11:38-39). But he turned to this prophet because he had spoken concerning him למלך, to be king, i.e., that he would become king, over this people. למלך stands for מלך להיות, with which the infinitive esse can be omitted (vid., Ewald, 336, b.). As this prophecy, which was so favourable to Jeroboam, had come to pass (Kg1 11:29-30), he hoped that he might also obtain from Ahijah a divine revelation concerning the result of his son's illness, provided that he did not know who it was who came to seek counsel concerning her sick son. To complete the deception, she was to take with her as a present for the prophet (cf., Sa1 9:8) "ten loaves and crumbs" and a jar with honey, i.e., a trifling gift such as a simple citizen's wife might take. According to the early versions and the context, a kind of plain cake, κολλυρίδα (lxx), crustulam (Vulg.). It is different in Jos 9:5.
Ahijah could no longer see, because his eyes were blinded with age. עיניו קמוּ as in Sa1 4:15, an expression applied to the black cataract, amaurosis. It was therefore all the less possible for him to recognise in a natural manner the woman who was coming to him. But before her arrival the Lord had not only revealed to him her coming and her object, but had also told him what he was to say to her if she should disguise herself when she came. וכזה כּזה; see at Jdg 18:4, וגו כבאהּ ויהי, "let it be if she comes and disguises herself;" i.e., if when she comes she should disguise herself.
When Ahijah heard the sound of her feet entering the door (the participle בּאה, according to the number and gender, refers to the אשּׁה implied in רגליה, vid., Ewald, 317, c.), he addressed her by her name, charged her with her disguise of herself, and told her that he was entrusted with a hard saying to her. קשׁה (cf., Kg1 12:13) is equivalent to קשׁה חזוּת; for the construction, compare Ewald, 284, c.
The saying was as follows: "Therefore, because thou hast exalted thyself from the people, and I have made thee prince over my people Israel (cf., Kg1 11:31), ... but thou hast not been as my servant David, who kept my commandments...(cf., Kg1 11:34), and hast done worse than all who were before thee (judices nimirum et duces Israelis - Cler.), and hast gone and hast made thyself other gods (contrary to the express command in Exo 20:2-3), ... and hast cast me behind thy back: therefore I bring misfortune upon the house of Jeroboam," etc. The expression, to cast God behind the back, which only occurs here and in Eze 23:35, denotes the most scornful contempt of God, the strict opposite of "keeping God before the eyes and in the heart." בּקיר משׁתּין, every male person; see at Sa1 25:22. A synonymous expression is ועזוּב עצוּר, the fettered (i.e., probably the married) and the free (or single); see at Deu 32:36. "In Israel," i.e., in the kingdom of the ten tribes. The threat is strengthened by the clause in Kg1 14:10, "and I will sweep out after the house of Jeroboam, as one sweepeth out dung, even to the end," which expresses shameful and utter extermination; and this threat is still further strengthened in Kg1 14:11 by the threat added from Deu 28:26, that of those cut off not one is to come to the grave, but their bodies are to be devoured by the dogs and birds of prey, - the worst disgrace that could befall the dead. Instead of wild beasts (Deu 28:26) the dogs are mentioned here, because in the East they wander out in the streets without owners, and are so wild and ravenous that they even devour corpses (vid., Harmar, Beobachtungen, i. p. 198). לירבעם with ל of relationship, equivalent to of those related to Jeroboam. It is the same in Kg1 14:13.
After this announcement of the judgment upon the house of Jeroboam, Ahijah gave the wife information concerning her sick son. He would die as soon as she entered the city, and of all the male members of the house of Jeroboam he only would receive the honour of a proper burial, because in him there was some good thing towards Jehovah found. Ewald (247, b.) regards the form בּבאה as standing for בּבאהּ, and refers the suffix to the following word העיר (vid., Ewald, 309, c.). But as this use of the suffix would be very harsh, the question arises whether בּאה is not to be regarded as a feminine form of the infinitive, after the analogy of דּעה in Exo 2:4 and לדה in Kg2 19:3, etc. From the fulfilment of this declaration in Kg1 14:17, Kg1 14:18 Jeroboam was to learn that the threatened destruction of his royal house would also be just as certainly fulfilled. The sick son appears to have been the heir-presumptive to the throne. This may be inferred partly from the lamentation of all Israel at his death (Kg1 14:18), and partly from what follows here in the next verse. אליהוה means in his relation to Jehovah.
"Jehovah will raise Himself up a king over Israel, who will cut off the house of Jeroboam this day; but what (sc., do I say)? even now," sc., has He raised him up. This appears to be the simplest explanation of the last words of the verse, of which very various interpretations have been given. יד is placed before היּום, to give it the stronger emphasis, as in Exo 32:1 (compare Jos 9:12-13, and Ewald, 293, b.; and for עתּה גּם compare Delitzsch on Job, i. p. 290, transl.).
But in order that not only Jeroboam, but also the people who had joined in his idolatry, might perceive the severity of the divine judgment, Ahijah also announced to the nation its banishment into exile beyond the Euphrates. "Jehovah will smite Israel, as the reed shakes in the water," is an abbreviated phrase for: Jehovah will smite Israel in such a manner that it will sway to and fro like a reed in the water moved by a strong wind, which has not a sufficiently firm hold to resist the violence of the storm. "And will thrust them out of the good land," etc., as Moses threatened the transgressors of the law (Deu 29:27), "and scatter them beyond the river (Euphrates)," i.e., banish them among the heathen, from whom God brought out and chose their forefather (Jos 24:3), "because they have made themselves Ashera-idols, to provoke Jehovah." אשׁרים is used for idols generally, among which the golden calves are reckoned. ויתּן, that He may deliver up Israel, on account of the idolatrous forms of worship introduced by Jeroboam. For the fulfilment see Kg2 15:29; Kg2 17:23, and Kg2 18:11. - In Kg1 14:17, Kg1 14:18 the exact fulfilment of Ahijah's announcement concerning the death of Jeroboam's sick son is described. According to Kg1 14:17, Jeroboam was then residing at Thirza, whereas he had at first resided at Shechem (Kg1 12:25). Thirza is probably the present Talluza, on the north of Shechem (see at Jos 12:24).
End of Jeroboam's reign. Of the wars, which were described in the annals of the kings, the war with Abijam of Judah is the only one of which we have any account (Ch2 13:2.). See also the Comm. on Kg1 14:30. He was followed on the throne by his son Nadab.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 14:21
Reign of Rehoboam in Judah (compare 2 Chron 11:5-12:16). - Kg1 14:21. Rehoboam, who ascended the throne at the age of forty-one, was born a year before the accession of Solomon (see at Kg1 2:24). In the description of Jerusalem as the city chosen by the Lord (cf., Kg1 11:36) there is implied not so much an indirect condemnation of the falling away of the ten tribes, as the striking contrast to the idolatry of Rehoboam referred to in Kg1 14:23. The name of his mother is mentioned (here and in Kg1 14:31), not because she seduced the king to idolatry (Ephr. Syr.), but generally on account of the great influence which the queen-mother appears to have had both upon the king personally and upon his government, as we may infer from the fact that the mother's name is given in the case of every king of Judah (vid., Kg1 15:2, Kg1 15:13; Kg1 22:42, etc.).
The general characteristics of Rehoboam's reign are supplied and more minutely defined in the account in the Chronicles. According to 2 Chron 11:5-12:1, he appears to have been brought to reflection by the announcement of the prophet, that the falling away of the ten tribes had come from the Lord as a punishment for Solomon's idolatry (Kg1 12:23-24; Ch2 11:2-4); and in the first years of his reign to have followed the law of God with earnestness, and to have been occupied in the establishment of his government partly by the fortification of different cities (Ch2 11:5-12), and partly by setting in order his domestic affairs, placing his numerous sons, who were born of his many wives and concubines, in the fortified cities of the land, and thus providing for them, and naming Abijam as his successor (Ch2 11:18-22); while his kingdom was still further strengthened by the priests, Levites, and pious Israelites who emigrated to Judah and Jerusalem from the ten tribes (Ch2 11:13-17). But this good beginning only lasted three years (Ch2 11:17). When he thought that he had sufficiently fortified his kingdom, he forsook the law of the Lord, and all Israel (i.e., all the covenant nation) with him (Ch2 12:1). "Judah did that which was displeasing in the sight of the Lord; they provoked Him to jealousy more than all that their fathers (sc., under the Judges) had done with their sins." קנּא, to provoke to jealousy (Num 5:14), is to be explained, when it refers to God, from the fact that the relation in which God stood to His people was regarded under the figure of a marriage, in which Jehovah appears as the husband of the nation, who is angry at the unfaithfulness of his wife, i.e., at the idolatry of the nation. Compare the remarks on קנּא אל in the Comm. on Exo 20:5.
They also (the Judaeans as well as the Israelites) built themselves bamoth, altars of high places (see at Kg1 3:3), monuments and Ashera-idols. מצּבות are not actual images of gods, but stones set up as memorials (Gen 31:13; Gen 35:20; Exo 24:4), more especially stone monuments set up in commemoration of a divine revelation (Gen 28:18, Gen 28:22; Gen 35:14). Like the bamoth, in connection with which they generally occur, they were originally dedicated to Jehovah; but even under the law they were forbidden, partly as places of divine worship of human invention which easily degenerated into idolatry, but chiefly because the Canaanites had erected such monuments to Baal by the side of his altars (Exo 23:24; Exo 34:13; Deu 7:5, etc.), whereby the worship of Jehovah was unconsciously identified with the worship of Baal, even when the mazzeboth were not at first erected to the Canaanitish Baal. As the מצּבות of the Canaanites were dedicated to Baal, so were the אשׁרים to Astarte, the female nature-deity of those tribes. אשׁרה, however, does not mean a grove (see the Comm. on Deu 16:21), but an idol of the Canaanitish nature-goddess, generally most likely a lofty wooden pillar, though sometimes perhaps a straight trunk of a tree, the branches and crown of which were lopped off, and which was planted upon heights and in other places by the side of the altars of Baal. The name אשׁרה was transferred from the idol to the goddess of nature (Kg1 15:13; Kg1 18:19; Kg2 21:7, etc.), and was used of the image or column of the Phoenician Astarte (Kg1 16:33; Kg2 13:6; Kg2 17:16, etc.), just as אשׁרות in Jdg 3:7 alternates with עשׁתּרות in Jdg 2:13. These idols the Israelites (? Judaeans - Tr.) appear to have also associated with the worship of Jehovah; for the external worship of Jehovah was still maintained in the temple, and was performed by Rehoboam himself with princely pomp (Kg1 14:28). "On every high hill," etc.; see at Deu 12:2.
"There were also prostitutes in the land." קדּשׁ is used collectively as a generic name, including both male and female hierodylae, and is exchanged for the plural in Kg1 15:12. The male קדשׁים had emasculated themselves in religious frenzy in honour of the Canaanitish goddess of nature, and were called Galli by the Romans. They were Canaanites, who had found their way into the land of Judah when idolatry gained the upper hand (as indicated by וגם). "They appear here as strangers among the Israelites, and are those notorious Cinaedi more especially of the imperial age of Rome who travelled about in all directions, begging for the Syrian goddess, and even in the time of Augustine went about asking for alms in the streets of Carthage as a remnant of the Phoenician worship (de civ. Dei, vii. 26)." - Movers, p. 679. On the female קדשׁות see the Comm. on Gen 38:21 and Deu 23:18.
This sinking into heathen abominations was soon followed by the punishment, that Judah was given up to the power of the heathen.
King Shishak of Egypt invaded the land with a powerful army, conquered all the fortified cities, penetrated to Jerusalem, and would probably have put an end to the kingdom of Judah, if God had not had compassion upon him, and saved him from destruction, in consequence of the humiliation of the king and of the chiefs of the nation, caused by the admonition of the prophet Shemaiah, so that after the conquest of Jerusalem Shishak contented himself with withdrawing, taking with him the treasures of the temple and of the royal palace. Compare the fuller account of this expedition in Ch2 12:2-9. Shishak (שׁישׁק) was the first king of the twenty-second (or Bubastitic) dynasty, called Sesonchis in Jul. Afric., Sesonchosis in Eusebius, and upon the monuments on which Champollion first deciphered his name, Sheshonk or Sheshenk. Shishak has celebrated his expedition against Judah by a bas-relief on the outer wall of the pillar-hall erected by him in the first palace at Karnak, in which more than 130 figures are led in cords by Ammon and the goddess Muth with their hands bound upon their backs. The lower portion of the figures of this long row of prisoners is covered by escutcheons, the border of which being provided with battlements, shows that the prisoners are symbols of conquered cities. About a hundred of these escutcheons are still legible, and in the names upon them a large number of the names of cities in the kingdom of Judah have been deciphered with tolerable certainty.
(Note: Compare Max Duncker, Gesch. des Alterthums, Bd. i. p. 909, ed. 3, and for the different copies of this bas-relief in the more recent works upon Egypt, Reutschi in Herzog's Cycl. (art. Rehoboam). The latest attempts at deciphering are those by Brugsch, Geogr. Inschriften in den gypt. Denkmltern, ii. p. 56ff., and O. Blau, Sisaqs Zug gegen Juda aus dem Denkmale bei Karnak erlutert, in the Deutsch. morgenl. Ztschr. xv. p. 233ff. Champollion's interpretation of one of these escutcheons, in his Prcis du systme hierogl. p. 204, viz., Juda hammalek, "the king of Judah," has been rejected by Lepsius and Brugsch as philologically inadmissible. Brugsch writes the name thus: Judh malk or Joud-hamalok, and identifies Judh with Jehudijeh, which Robinson (Pal. iii. p. 45) supposes to be the ancient Jehud (Jos 19:45). This Jehud in the tribe of Dan, Blau (p. 238) therefore also finds in the name; and it will not mislead any one that this city is reckoned as belonging to the tribe of Dan, since in the very same chapter (Jos 19:42) Ajalon is assigned to Dan, though it was nevertheless a fortress of Rehoboam (Ch2 11:10). But Blau has not given any explanation of the addition malk or malok, whereas Gust. Roesch takes it to be מלך, and supposes it to mean "Jehud of the king, namely, of Rehoboam or of Judah, on account of its being situated in Dan, which belonged to the northern kingdom." But this is certainly incorrect. For where could the Egyptians have obtained this exact knowledge of the relation in which the tribes of the nation of Israel stood to one another?)
Shishak was probably bent chiefly upon the conquest and plundering of the cities. But from Jerusalem, beside other treasures of the temple and palace, he also carried off the golden shields that had been made by Solomon (Kg1 10:16), in the place of which Rehoboam had copper ones made for his body-guard. The guard, רצים, runners, are still further described as המּלך בּית פּתח בּית ה השּׁמרים, "who kept the door of the king's house," i.e., supplied the sentinels for the gate of the royal palace.
Whenever the king went into the house of Jehovah, the runners carried these shields; from which we may see that the king was accustomed to go to the temple with solemn pomp. These shields were not kept in the state-house of the forest of Lebanon (Kg1 10:17) as the golden shields were, but in the guard-chamber (תּא; see at Eze 40:7) of the runners.
Further particulars are given in 2 Chron 11 and 12 concerning the rest of the acts of Rehoboam. "There was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam the whole time (of their reign)." As nothing is said about any open war between them, and the prophet Shemaiah prohibited the attack which Rehoboam was about to make upon the tribes who had fallen away (Kg1 11:23.), מלחמה can only denote the hostile feelings and attitude of the two rulers towards one another.
Death and burial of Rehoboam: as in the case of Solomon (Kg1 11:43). The name of the queen-mother has already been given in Kg1 14:21, and the repetition of it here may be explained on the supposition that in the original sources employed by the author of our books it stood in this position. The son and successor of Rehoboam upon the throne is called Abijam (אביּם) in the account before us; whereas in the Chronicles he is always called Abijah (אביּה, Ch2 12:16; Ch2 13:1, etc., or אביּהוּ, Ch2 13:21). אביּם, i.e., father of the sea, is unquestionably the older form of the name, which was reduced to אביּה, and then identified with the formation from אבי and יה = יהוּ (from יהוה).