12 1 Rehoboam traveled to Shechem where all Israel had gathered to inaugurate him as king. 2 Jeroboam had been in Egypt, where he had taken asylum from King Solomon; when he got the report of Solomon's death he had come back. 3 Rehoboam assembled Jeroboam and all the people. They said to Rehoboam, 4 "Your father made life hard for us - worked our fingers to the bone. Give us a break; lighten up on us and we'll willingly serve you." 5 "Give me three days to think it over, then come back," Rehoboam said. 6 King Rehoboam talked it over with the elders who had advised his father when he was alive: "What's your counsel? How do you suggest that I answer the people?" 7 They said, "If you will be a servant to this people, be considerate of their needs and respond with compassion, work things out with them, they'll end up doing anything for you." 8 But he rejected the counsel of the elders and asked the young men he'd grown up with who were now currying his favor, 9 "What do you think? What should I say to these people who are saying, 'Give us a break from your father's harsh ways - lighten up on us'?" 10 The young turks he'd grown up with said, "These people who complain, 'Your father was too hard on us; lighten up' - well, tell them this: 'My little finger is thicker than my father's waist. 11 If you think life under my father was hard, you haven't seen the half of it. My father thrashed you with whips; I'll beat you bloody with chains!'" 12 Three days later Jeroboam and the people showed up, just as Rehoboam had directed when he said, "Give me three days to think it over, then come back." 13 The king's answer was harsh and rude. He spurned the counsel of the elders 14 and went with the advice of the younger set, "If you think life under my father was hard, you haven't seen the half of it. My father thrashed you with whips; I'll beat you bloody with chains!" 15 Rehoboam turned a deaf ear to the people. God was behind all this, confirming the message that he had given to Jeroboam son of Nebat through Ahijah of Shiloh.
16 When all Israel realized that the king hadn't listened to a word they'd said, they stood up to him and said, Get lost, David! We've had it with you, son of Jesse! Let's get out of here, Israel, and fast! From now on, David, mind your own business. 17 But Rehoboam continued to rule those who lived in the towns of Judah. 18 When King Rehoboam next sent out Adoniram, head of the workforce, the Israelites ganged up on him, pelted him with stones, and killed him. King Rehoboam jumped in his chariot and fled to Jerusalem as fast as he could. 19 Israel has been in rebellion against the Davidic regime ever since. Jeroboam of Israel 20 When the word was out that Jeroboam was back and available, the assembled people invited him and inaugurated him king over all Israel. The only tribe left to the Davidic dynasty was Judah. 21 When Rehoboam got back to Jerusalem, he called up the men of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin, a hundred and eighty thousand of their best soldiers, to go to war against Israel and recover the kingdom for Rehoboam son of Solomon. 22 At this time the word of God came to Shemaiah, a man of God: 23 "Tell this to Rehoboam son of Solomon king of Judah, along with everyone in Judah and Benjamin and anyone else who is around: 24 This is God's word: Don't march out; don't fight against your brothers the Israelites; go back home, every last one of you; I'm in charge here." And they did it; they did what God said and went home.
Jeroboam Leads Israel into Sin
25 Jeroboam made a fort at Shechem in the hills of Ephraim, and made that his headquarters. He also built a fort at Penuel. 26 But then Jeroboam thought, "It won't be long before the kingdom is reunited under David. 27 As soon as these people resume worship at The Temple of God in Jerusalem, they'll start thinking of Rehoboam king of Judah as their ruler. They'll then kill me and go back to King Rehoboam." 28 So the king came up with a plan: He made two golden calves. Then he announced, "It's too much trouble for you to go to Jerusalem to worship. Look at these - the gods who brought you out of Egypt!" 29 He put one calf in Bethel; the other he placed in Dan. 30 This was blatant sin. Think of it - people traveling all the way to Dan to worship a calf! 31 And that wasn't the end of it. Jeroboam built forbidden shrines all over the place and recruited priests from wherever he could find them, regardless of whether they were fit for the job or not. 32 To top it off, he created a holy New Year festival to be held on the fifteenth day of the eighth month to replace the one in Judah, complete with worship offered on the Altar at Bethel and sacrificing before the calves he had set up there. He staffed Bethel with priests from the local shrines he had made. 33 This was strictly his own idea to compete with the feast in Judah; and he carried it off with flair, a festival exclusively for Israel, Jeroboam himself leading the worship at the Altar.
The Prophet of Judah Warns Jeroboam
13 1 And then this happened: Just as Jeroboam was at the Altar, about to make an offering, a holy man came from Judah by God's command 2 and preached (these were God's orders) to the Altar: "Altar, Altar! God's message! 'A son will be born into David's family named Josiah. The priests from the shrines who are making offerings on you, he will sacrifice - on you! Human bones burned on you!'" 3 At the same time he announced a sign: "This is the proof God gives - the Altar will split into pieces and the holy offerings spill into the dirt." 4 When the king heard the message the holy man preached against the Altar at Bethel, he reached out to grab him, yelling, "Arrest him!" But his arm was paralyzed and hung useless. 5 At the same time the Altar broke apart and the holy offerings all spilled into the dirt - the very sign the holy man had announced by God's command. 6 The king pleaded with the holy man, "Help me! Pray to your God for the healing of my arm." The holy man prayed for him and the king's arm was healed - as good as new! 7 Then the king invited the holy man, "Join me for a meal; I have a gift for you." 8 The holy man told the king, "Not on your life! You couldn't pay me enough to get me to sit down with you at a meal in this place. 9 I'm here under God's orders, and he commanded, 'Don't eat a crumb, don't drink a drop, and don't go back the way you came.'" 10 Then he left by a different road than the one on which he had walked to Bethel.
11 There was an old prophet who lived in Bethel. His sons came and told him the story of what the holy man had done that day in Bethel, told him everything that had happened and what the holy man had said to the king. 12 Their father said, "Which way did he go?" His sons pointed out the road that the holy man from Judah had taken. 13 He told his sons, "Saddle my donkey." When they had saddled it, he got on 14 and rode after the holy man. He found him sitting under an oak tree. He asked him, "Are you the holy man who came from Judah?" "Yes, I am," he said. 15 "Well, come home with me and have a meal." 16 "Sorry, I can't do that," the holy man said. "I can neither go back with you nor eat with you in this country. 17 I'm under strict orders from God: 'Don't eat a crumb; don't drink a drop; and don't come back the way you came.'" 18 But he said, "I am also a prophet, just like you. And an angel came to me with a message from God: 'Bring him home with you, and give him a good meal!'" But the man was lying. 19 So the holy man went home with him and they had a meal together. 20 There they were, sitting at the table together, when the word of God came to the prophet who had brought him back. 21 He confronted the holy man who had come from Judah: "God's word to you: You disobeyed God's command; you didn't keep the strict orders your God gave you; 22 you came back and sat down to a good meal in the very place God told you, 'Don't eat a crumb; don't drink a drop.' For that you're going to die far from home and not be buried in your ancestral tomb."
23 When the meal was over, the prophet who had brought him back saddled his donkey for him. 24 Down the road a way, a lion met him and killed him. His corpse lay crumpled on the road, the lion on one side and the donkey on the other. 25 Some passersby saw the corpse in a heap on the road, with the lion standing guard beside it. They went to the village where the old prophet lived and told what they had seen. 26 When the prophet who had gotten him off track heard it, he said, "It's the holy man who disobeyed God's strict orders. God turned him over to the lion who knocked him around and killed him, just as God had told him." 27 The prophet told his sons, "Saddle my donkey." They did it. 28 He rode out and found the corpse in a heap in the road, with the lion and the donkey standing there. The lion hadn't bothered either the corpse or the donkey. 29 The old prophet loaded the corpse of the holy man on his donkey and returned it to his own town to give it a decent burial. 30 He placed the body in his own tomb. The people mourned, saying, "A sad day, brother!" 31 After the funeral, the prophet said to his sons, "When I die, bury me in the same tomb where the holy man is buried, my bones alongside his bones. 32 The message that he preached by God's command against the Altar at Bethel and against all the sex-and-religion shrines in the towns of Samaria will come true." 33 After this happened, Jeroboam kept right on doing evil, recruiting priests for the forbidden shrines indiscriminately - anyone who wanted to could be a priest at one of the local shrines. 34 This was the root sin of Jeroboam's government. And it was this that ruined him.
Ahijah's Prophecy against Jeroboam
14 1 At about this time Jeroboam's son Abijah came down sick. 2 Jeroboam said to his wife, "Do something. Disguise yourself so no one will know you are the queen and go to Shiloh. Ahijah the prophet lives there, the same Ahijah who told me I'd be king over this people. 3 Take along ten loaves of bread, some sweet rolls, and a jug of honey. Make a visit to him and he'll tell you what's going on with our boy." 4 Jeroboam's wife did as she was told; she went straight to Shiloh and to Ahijah's house. Ahijah was an old man at this time, and blind, 5 but God had warned Ahijah, "Jeroboam's wife is on her way to consult with you regarding her sick son; tell her this and this and this." 6 Ahijah heard her come through the door and said, "Welcome, wife of Jeroboam! But why the deception? I've got bad news for you.
7 Go and deliver this message I received firsthand from God, the God of Israel, to Jeroboam: I raised you up from obscurity and made you the leader of my people Israel. 8 I ripped the kingdom from the hands of David's family and gave it to you, but you weren't at all like my servant David who did what I told him and lived from his undivided heart, pleasing me. 9 Instead you've set a new record in works of evil by making alien gods - tin gods! Pushing me aside and turning your back - you've made me mighty angry. 10 "And I'll not put up with it: I'm bringing doom on the household of Jeroboam, killing the lot of them right down to the last male wretch in Israel, whether slave or free. They've become nothing but garbage and I'm getting rid of them. 11 The ones who die in the city will be eaten by stray dogs; the ones who die out in the country will be eaten by carrion crows. God's decree! 12 "And that's it. Go on home - the minute you step foot in town, the boy will die. 13 Everyone will come to his burial, mourning his death. He is the only one in Jeroboam's family who will get a decent burial; he's the only one for whom God, the God of Israel, has a good word to say. 14 "Then God will appoint a king over Israel who will wipe out Jeroboam's family, wipe them right off the map - doomsday for Jeroboam! 15 He will hit Israel hard, as a storm slaps reeds about; he'll pull them up by the roots from this good land of their inheritance, weeding them out, and then scatter them to the four winds. And why? Because they made God so angry with Asherah sex-and-religion shrines. 16 He'll wash his hands of Israel because of Jeroboam's sins, which have led Israel into a life of sin." 17 Jeroboam's wife left and went home to Tirzah. The moment she stepped through the door, the boy died. 18 They buried him and everyone mourned his death, just as God had said through his servant the prophet Ahijah. 19 The rest of Jeroboam's life, the wars he fought and the way he ruled, is written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. 20 He ruled for twenty-two years. He died and was buried with his ancestors. Nadab his son was king after him.
The Reign of Rehoboam
21 Rehoboam son of Solomon was king in Judah. He was forty-one years old when he took the throne and was king for seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city God selected from all the tribes of Israel for the worship of his Name. Rehoboam's mother was Naamah, an Ammonite. 22 Judah was openly wicked before God, making him very angry. They set new records in sin, surpassing anything their ancestors had done. 23 They built Asherah sex-and-religion shrines and set up sacred stones all over the place - on hills, under trees, wherever you looked. 24 Worse, they had male sacred prostitutes, polluting the country outrageously - all the stuff that God had gotten rid of when he brought Israel into the land. 25 In the fifth year of King Rehoboam's rule, Shishak king of Egypt made war against Jerusalem. 26 He plundered The Temple of God and the royal palace of their treasures, cleaned them out - even the gold shields that Solomon had made. 27 King Rehoboam replaced them with bronze shields and outfitted the royal palace guards with them. 28 Whenever the king went to God's Temple, the guards carried the shields but always returned them to the guardroom. 29 The rest of Rehoboam's life, what he said and did, is all written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah. 30 There was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam the whole time. 31 Rehoboam died and was buried with his ancestors in the City of David. His mother was Naamah, an Ammonite. His son Abijah ruled after him.