Though David was imperfect, he was always striving to do what was right by God. No one can perfectly do everything that another being wants, but he tried and he did it with love and what seemed like admiration in his heart. His successors, on the other hand, couldn’t quite keep it together. Some did love God and some tried to follow him for a while, but none were stayed with God, they strayed. The next few chapters focus on these successors.
Note: the names of the mother’s are mentioned for the first two, but this trend dies out.
This entire chapter is dedicated to recounting the wealth of Solomon. First the wealth of his wisdom is discussed when the Queen of Sheba comes to talk to him and praises him and his God for all of it, then it discusses all the things that are made of gold.
Eventually, Solomon seems to have stopped listening to his wisdom and started listening to his wives. While this could be seen as disparaging toward the women, I don’t see it that way. He makes the decision to marry women that do not believe what he does and then he starts building stuff for their gods. This is not the women doing anything inherently wrong nor do are they called out for being particularly subversive or manipulative, it’s just Solomon deciding to do these things. I also know that this sort of passage could be seen as women being the folly of men, but seriously, were there not perfectly lovely Israeli women?
I’m sure there were. I’m sure there must have been plenty to choose from. But no, Solomon goes after foreign women and it looks like he did this because he could.
Given of all this, God sets about raising others to oppose Solomon, but promises that the kingdom won’t break under Solomon’s reign, out of respect for David, but that it’ll happen later. Not only does He raise opponents out of the local kingdoms, but one from within that will take ten of the tribes. Solomon’s offspring will only get to keep one. I had to look up what happens to the twelfth one. Apparently one was just not included, it was Benjamin.
The chapter ends with his death and the ascension of his son, Rehoboam, to the throne.
Rehoboam is faced with a big problem on his very first day. The people come to him and ask that their “yoke” be lightened because it was heavy under his father. He asks a counsel of two groups at different times and settles on the harsher of the two. While this is messed up, the part of the whole thing that caught my attention was a bit further down when this passage comes in:
So the king did not listen to the people, for it was a turn of affairs brought about by the LORD that he might fulfill his word, which the LORD spoke by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.
It’s another section that kinda makes me wonder about the whole “free will” thing. I’ve yet to see it mentioned that we really have it and this is not the first time when someone’s will is questionably altered by God in order to make things go His way.
The full split between Judah and the rest of Israel happens here, with only Judah still following “the house of David”. He tries to start some trouble and go into battle over it, but God sends word through a prophet to tell the people to go home and not fight, and they all just do. They go home.
Then the other king, Jeroboam, sets about worshiping golden calves again and generally turning against God.
A “man of God” was sent to Jeroboam to correct him in his ways, but he’s rebuked at first. Then Jeroboam gets a bit of a sign that this man really does speak for God and he asks for a reprieve, which he gets. Afterward, he offers the man food and drink, which is refused. The rest of the chapter focuses on the mishaps of this man of God along the way, as he is tricked into disobeying God and pays the price for it. The man who tricked him is remorseful and has him buried. There’s a strange thing about a lion and a donkey too.
It is noted at the end that Jeroboam continues with his wrongness.
This begins with Jeroboam, and that his son is sick. He asks his wife, who remains otherwise nameless, to go and see a man in Judah to ask about what should be done. There is some subterfuge, but she is informed that Jeroboam and his whole family is set to be cutoff from Israel for all the wrong doing he has caused. God had raised him up to be a king like David and yet he did whatever he wanted without concern for God. The wife was told that the son she was there to inquire over was going to die as soon as she got back but basically that his death was because he was the only one who had anything about him that was “pleasing” to Him. I’m not really sure how that makes sense when all the others are going to be killed for this transgression either except perhaps that this is a more peaceful and painless death than the others will endure. Not sure.
There’s a note that the rest of Jeroboam’s story about how he reigned is in the “Chronicles of the Kings of Israel” which are different from the book of Chronicles in the Old Testament. He dies after reigning for 22 years and was succeeded by his son, Nadab.
Meanwhile in Judah, Rehoboam is doing almost the exact same thing. Interestingly, his mother is mentioned and named here. She was Naamah the Ammonite. I find it a little suspect that the new king had a non-Israelite mother.
There is a question as to whether the exploits of Rehoboam is in a similar Chronicles of the Kings of Judah.
The mother is mentioned again by name at the end and then it mentions that Abijam was the son who succeeded him. But that’s where the trend ends.
David is mentioned again as the reason for God sticking by one of his descendants, but there’s an interesting note in it:
because David did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and did not turn aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.
You remember Uriah the Hittite? That’s the guy he sent to the front lines and had everyone step back away from to make sure he died on account of David impregnating his wife? The one who also happens to be the grandmother of this particular descendant. Yep.
Anyway, Abijam wars with Jeroboam, which appears to have started with his father, Rehoboam. He eventually passes on as well and the same question is asked as had been in the passage concerning his father.
The rest of the acts of Abijam and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?
This sounds like it should be First or Second Chronicles, which are Old Testament books that come after this one, but it’s not. It is listed on Wikipedia to be one of the lost books and the study section of the Bible I’m using agrees. But the author of the book is either not sure or being sarcastic in the middle of this book. It’s a little … I don’t know, strange. But this is the Bible and strange isn’t abnormal.
After this the rest of this chapter and chapter sixteen mainly highlight the names of the succeeding kings for Israel and Judah, whether inherited or overthrown. There’s a bit of a mix.
Judah: Aja (who does follow God and attempts to repeal some stuff before passing) and Jehoshaphat
Israel: Nadab, Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Omri (briefly disputed by Tibni, who he defeats), and Ahab (who built Jericho and invoked the curse set upon whoever did so from way back in Joshua 6:26)
Some notes on these chapters:
- the questioning of whether the rest of the acts and deeds of each king are written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah or Israel repeats with the passing of each king
- the text does show the relation of the kings in time as the rule of the Israel kings are given as “in the ## year of Name king of Judah/Israel”. I thought it was interesting and that it would be helpful to understand what was going on in both areas
- Samaria is built in these chapters (16), I never knew it was an Israelite city