2 Chronicles 9-12 The Message Bible

The Queen of Sheba Visits Solomon

9 1  The queen of Sheba heard of Solomon's reputation and came to Jerusalem to put his reputation to the test, asking all the tough questions. She made a showy entrance - an impressive retinue of attendants and camels loaded with perfume and much gold and precious stones. She emptied her heart to Solomon, talking over everything she cared about. 2  And Solomon answered everything she put to him - nothing stumped him. 3  When the queen of Sheba experienced for herself Solomon's wisdom and saw with her own eyes the palace he had built, 4  the meals that were served, the impressive array of court officials, the sharply dressed waiters, the cupbearers, and then the elaborate worship extravagant with Whole-Burnt-Offerings at The Temple of God, it all took her breath away. 5  She said to the king, "It's all true! Your reputation for accomplishment and wisdom that reached all the way to my country is confirmed. 6  I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it for myself; they didn't exaggerate! Such wisdom and elegance - far more than I could ever have imagined. 7  Lucky the men and women who work for you, getting to be around you every day and hear your wise words firsthand! 8  And blessed be your God who has taken such a liking to you, making you king. Clearly, God's love for Israel is behind this, making you king to keep a just order and nurture a God-pleasing people." 9  She then gave the king four and a half tons of gold and sack after sack of spices and precious stones. There hasn't been a cargo of spices like the shipload the queen of Sheba brought to King Solomon. 10  The ships of Hiram also imported gold from Ophir along with fragrant sandalwood and expensive gems. 11  The king used the sandalwood for fine cabinetry in The Temple of God and the royal palace, and for making harps and dulcimers for the musicians. Nothing like that shipment of sandalwood has been seen since. 12  King Solomon, for his part, gave the queen of Sheba all her heart's desire - everything she asked for. She took away more than she brought. Satisfied, she returned home with her train of servants.

Solomon's Riches and Fame

13  Solomon received twenty-five tons of gold annually. 14  This was above and beyond the taxes and profit on trade with merchants and traders. All kings of Arabia and various and assorted governors also brought silver and gold to Solomon. 15  King Solomon crafted 200 body-length shields of hammered gold - about fifteen pounds of gold to each shield 16  - and about 300 small shields about half that size. He stored the shields in the House of the Forest of Lebanon. 17  The king made a massive throne of ivory with a veneer of gold. 18  The throne had six steps leading up to it with an attached footstool of gold. The armrests on each side were flanked by lions. 19  Lions, twelve of them, were placed at either end of the six steps. There was no throne like it in any other kingdom. 20  King Solomon's chalices and tankards were made of gold, and all the dinnerware and serving utensils in the House of the Forest of Lebanon were pure gold. Nothing was made of silver; silver was considered common and cheap in the time of Solomon. 21  The king's ships, manned by Hiram's sailors, made a round trip to Tarshish every three years, returning with a cargo of gold, silver, and ivory, apes and peacocks. 22  King Solomon was richer and wiser than all the kings of the earth - he surpassed them all. 23  Kings came from all over the world to be with Solomon and get in on the wisdom God had given him. 24  Everyone who came brought gifts - artifacts of gold and silver, fashionable robes and gowns, the latest in weapons, exotic spices, horses, and mules - parades of visitors, year after year. 25  Solomon collected horses and chariots. He had 4,000 stalls for horses and chariots, and 12,000 horsemen in barracks in the chariot-cities and in Jerusalem. 26  He ruled over all the kings from the River Euphrates in the east, throughout the Philistine country, and as far west as the border of Egypt. 27  The king made silver as common as rocks and cedar as common as the fig trees in the lowland hills. 28  He carried on a brisk horse-trading business with Egypt and other places.

The Death of Solomon

29  The rest of Solomon's life and rule, from start to finish, one can read in the records of Nathan the prophet, the prophecy of Ahijah of Shiloh, and in the visions of Iddo the seer concerning Jeroboam son of Nebat. 30  Solomon ruled in Jerusalem over all Israel for forty years. 31  Solomon died and was buried in the City of David his father. His son Rehoboam was the next king.

Israel's Revolt

10 1  Rehoboam traveled to Shechem where all Israel had gathered to inaugurate him as king. 2  Jeroboam was then in Egypt, where he had taken asylum from King Solomon; when he got the report of Solomon's death, he came back. 3  Summoned by Israel, Jeroboam and all Israel went to Rehoboam and said, 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," said Rehoboam, "three days to think it over; then come back." So the people left. 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  Rehoboam continued to rule only 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 escaped to Jerusalem as fast as he could. 19  Israel has been in rebellion against the Davidic dynasty ever since.

11 1  When Rehoboam got back to Jerusalem he called up the men of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, 180,000 of their best soldiers, to go to war against Israel and recover the kingdom. 2  At the same time the word of God came to Shemaiah, a holy man, 3  "Tell this to Rehoboam son of Solomon, king of Judah, along with all the Israelites in Judah and Benjamin, 4  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.

The Prosperity of Rehoboam

5  Rehoboam continued to live in Jerusalem but built up a defense system for Judah all around: 6  in Bethlehem, Etam, Tekoa, 7  Beth Zur, Soco, Adullam, 8  Gath, Mareshah, Ziph, 9  Adoraim, Lachish, Azekah, 10  Zorah, Aijalon, and Hebron - a line of defense protecting Judah and Benjamin. 11  He beefed up the fortifications, appointed commanders, and put in supplies of food, olive oil, and wine. 12  He installed arms - large shields and spears - in all the forts, making them very strong. So Judah and Benjamin were secure for the time.

13  The priests and Levites from all over Israel came and made themselves available to Rehoboam. 14  The Levites left their pastures and properties and moved to Judah and Jerusalem because Jeroboam and his sons had dismissed them from the priesthood of God 15  and replaced them with his own priests to preside over the worship centers at which he had installed goat and calf demon-idols. 16  Everyone from all the tribes of Israel who determined to seek the God of Israel migrated with the priests and Levites to Jerusalem to worship there, sacrificing to the God of their ancestors. 17  That gave a tremendous boost to the kingdom of Judah. They stuck with Rehoboam son of Solomon for three years, loyal to the ways of David and Solomon for this period. 18  Rehoboam married Mahalath daughter of Jerimoth, David's son, and Abihail daughter of Eliab, Jesse's son. 19  Mahalath bore him Jeush, Shemariah, and Zaham. 20  Then he married Maacah, Absalom's daughter, and she bore him Abijah, Attai, Ziza, and Shelomith. 21  Maacah was Rehoboam's favorite wife; he loved her more than all his other wives and concubines put together (and he had a lot - eighteen wives and sixty concubines who produced twenty-eight sons and sixty daughters!). 22  Rehoboam designated Abijah son of Maacah as the "first son" and leader of the brothers - he intended to make him the next king. 23  He was shrewd in deploying his sons in all the fortress cities that made up his defense system in Judah and Benjamin; he kept them happy with much food and many wives.

Shishak's Invasion of Judah

12 1  By the time Rehoboam had secured his kingdom and was strong again, he, and all Israel with him, had virtually abandoned God and his ways. 2  In Rehoboam's fifth year, because he and the people were unfaithful to God, Shishak king of Egypt invaded as far as Jerusalem. 3  He came with 1,200 chariots and 60,000 cavalry, and soldiers from all over - the Egyptian army included Libyans, Sukkites, and Ethiopians. 4  They took the fortress cities of Judah and advanced as far as Jerusalem itself. 5  Then the prophet Shemaiah, accompanied by the leaders of Judah who had retreated to Jerusalem before Shishak, came to Rehoboam and said, "God's word: You abandoned me; now I abandon you to Shishak." 6  The leaders of Israel and the king were repentant and said, "God is right." 7  When God saw that they were humbly repentant, the word of God came to Shemaiah: "Because they are humble, I'll not destroy them - I'll give them a break; I won't use Shishak to express my wrath against Jerusalem. 8  What I will do, though, is make them Shishak's subjects - they'll learn the difference between serving me and serving human kings." 9  Then Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem. He plundered the treasury of The Temple of God and the treasury of the royal palace - he took everything he could lay his hands on. He even took the gold shields that Solomon had made. 10  King Rehoboam replaced the gold shields with bronze shields and gave them to the guards who were posted at the entrance to the royal palace. 11  Whenever the king went to God's Temple, the guards went with him carrying the shields, but they always returned them to the guardroom. 12  Because Rehoboam was repentant, God's anger was blunted, so he wasn't totally destroyed. The picture wasn't entirely bleak - there were some good things going on in Judah.

13  King Rehoboam regrouped and reestablished his rule in Jerusalem. He was forty-one years old when he became king and continued as king for seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city God chose out of all the tribes of Israel as the special presence of his Name. His mother was Naamah from Ammon. 14  But the final verdict on Rehoboam was that he was a bad king - God was not important to him; his heart neither cared for nor sought after God. 15  The history of Rehoboam, from start to finish, is written in the memoirs of Shemaiah the prophet and Iddo the seer that contain the family trees. There was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam the whole time. 16  Rehoboam died and was buried with his ancestors in the City of David. His son Abijah ruled after him.

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