Who is King Rehoboam in the Bible?

Solomon’s wisdom was a gift from God. Genetics had nothing to do with it, as his son Rehoboam soon found out after his father’s death. In one fell swoop, Rehoboam lost half of his kingdom.

Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
Updated Apr 16, 2024
Who is King Rehoboam in the Bible?

Rehoboam is a biblical figure known for being the son of Solomon and the grandson of David. Following Solomon's death, he became king of Judah around the 10th century BC. His reign is famously marked by his decision to reject the advice of older counselors and instead follow the harsher advice of younger advisors, leading to increased burdens on the people. 

This decision divided Israel's united monarchy into two kingdoms: the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah, with Rehoboam ruling over Judah. His story is detailed in the books of 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles in the Bible, highlighting themes of leadership, wisdom, and the consequences of one's choices.

Claim to fame: Rehoboam succeeded his wise and world-famous father, King Solomon.

Worst betrayal: Rehoboam forever split the united kingdom of Judah and Israel.

Rehoboam in the Bible

King Rehoboam, a biblical figure, was Solomon's son and succeeded him as the king of Judah, ruling for 17 years from 931 to 913 BC. His reign is notable for the unfortunate decision that led to the division of the United Kingdom of Israel into the northern and southern kingdoms. 

Rehoboam's harsh response to the northern tribes' plea for lighter taxes and labor—advised by his younger counselors to impose even harsher conditions—prompted a rebellion. Jeroboam, a former official under Solomon, led this rebellion. It resulted in ten tribes breaking away to form the northern kingdom of Israel under Jeroboam's rule, leaving Rehoboam with only Judah and a small part of Benjamin.

Rehoboam's reign was marked initially by attempts to consolidate his rule over the southern kingdom of Judah, strengthening it militarily and religiously. However, his later years saw a decline in religious and moral observance, leading to an invasion by Shishak, the king of Egypt, who plundered Jerusalem's treasures. 

Despite these challenges, there were periods when Rehoboam and the kingdom of Judah followed the ways of David and Solomon, which brought temporary security and prosperity. Rehoboam's story reflects the consequences of forsaking wise counsel and the importance of seeking God's guidance, as seen in the periods of stability when he adhered to divine and wise human advice. 

Bible Verses about Rehoboam

We read about Rehoboam’s ascension to King of Israel and Judah upon the death of his father Solomon, in 1 Kings 11:43 and 2 Chronicles 9:31. Most of Rehoboam’s story is told in 1 Kings 12 and 1 Kings 14:21-31 as well as in 2 Chronicles 10-12

He’s mentioned only two more times (in passing). First, in 2 Chronicles 13:7 (as Jeroboam’s enemy). Second, in Matthew 1:7 (as a forefather of Jesus Christ). 

Imagine what could have been written if Rehoboam had proved to be a wise son who wholeheartedly loved and obeyed the Lord God. If only…

Rehoboam’s Family Tree in the Bible

King David was his grandfather. King Solomon was his father. His mother was Naamah, an Ammonite.

Rabbinic tradition says Rehoboam’s mother, Naamah, was a righteous convert to Judaism and calls her one of “two doves.”

They say these “two doves” illustrate God’s providence in adding both a Moabitess and an Ammonite (descendants of Lot’s two daughters) to the Messiah’s lineage.

Unlike King Saul, David and Solomon couldn’t claim pure Jewish lineage. In turn, Rehoboam had less than 50% Jewish blood.

Like future successors, Rehoboam married Jewish women to reinforce the legitimacy of his royal bloodline.

His oldest son, Abijah (or Abijam), by his wife, Maacah, became king upon Rehoboam’s death.

Rehoboam’s First Years

Solomon married Naamah, and they had their first son, Rehoboam, roughly a year before Solomon became the monarch of Israel and Judah. Solomon reigned for 40 years.

While tradition says Naamah was righteous, the Bible makes it clear that Solomon was not. At first, Solomon appeared wholeheartedly devoted to the Lord God like his father David. It became apparent, however, that Solomon was half-hearted.

Eventually, because of his many foreign wives, Solomon turned away from the Lord, stooping so low as to worship despicable idols and build altars for them.

In other words, Rehoboam’s parents didn’t raise Rehoboam in the fear and admonition of the Lord. However, they aren’t to blame for what their son did as king.

Rehoboam’s Last Years

After Solomon’s death, Rehoboam became king. Because of Solomon’s wickedness, the united kingdom of Israel and Judah had already started to fall apart. Like many royals, Rehoboam may have been too cloistered to see what was happening.

Then again, a growing number of his subjects were ripe for revolt under Jeroboam, who was called back from exile to deliver their demands to the new king.

After hearing the demands of the northern half of the united kingdom, Rehoboam rejected the counsel of Solomon’s wise men and, instead, embraced what his peers proposed.

Shaking his pinky finger at Jeroboam and his men, Rehoboam rejected their demands and threatened stiffer taxation and worse. Only a fool wouldn’t be able to guess how that would go over.

In one fell swoop, Rehoboam lost half of his kingdom.

Thankfully, Rehoboam listened to a prophet of the Lord and didn’t pursue all-out civil war. Within five years, however, Rehoboam’s Kingdom of Judah was living in rebellion against the Lord. In turn, the Lord moved Egypt’s pharaoh to attack Judah.

In desperation, Rehoboam allowed the pharaoh to seize all the wealth from the royal palace and sacred temple (vast wealth accumulated by both David and Solomon). It’s highly doubtful this would have ever happened if Israel and Judah had not split in two.

In the end, Rehoboam died after reigning over the kingdom of Judah for 17 years. Worse? His son, Abijah, had a short reign of only three years. Such a terrible legacy.

Unlike Rehoboam, may you and I never listen to and heed foolish counsel, let alone forsake the Lord our God.

Lessons from Rehoboam's Story in the Bible

Solomon’s wisdom was a gift from God. Genetics had nothing to do with it, as his son Rehoboam soon found out after his father’s death.

Rehoboam’s first official act as king? Rejecting wise counsel!

Older is not always better. Younger generations are not necessarily more foolish. Yet Rehoboam listened to foolish counsel — mostly out of pride and selfishness.

It’s not enough to attempt to avoid foolish counsel if you don’t know what it is.

What does foolish counsel look like?

How does wise advice sound?

Rehoboam could have asked these questions before he made a decision that cost him the greater portion of his kingdom. And he could have found the answers in the many wise proverbs his father had penned for him.

Wisdom asks:

  • Does this plan call for a short-term sacrifice for a long-term benefit?
  • Will this plan benefit others?
  • Is this counsel peace-loving?
  • Does this advice appeal to my pride or to my generosity?            

In the light of these standards, the advice of the young men failed miserably. Rehoboam also failed the test when he listened to them and rejected the petition of the people and the counsel of wise advisors.

In the end, God’s will to take part of the kingdom from Solomon’s son was fulfilled. But that’s no excuse for Rehoboam’s blunder. We can always choose to do what is right.

And God can easily make His plan come to pass without our schemes and outright sins. When our sins bring about His will, it is only because our hearts are shown for what they really were in the first place.

Rehoboam had no heart for God. And without the fear of God, there is no beginning to wisdom. All that’s left is a mushy mind heeding foolish counsel and reaping terrible consequences.

Unlike Rehoboam, may you and I ignore the clamoring voices of bad advice. Instead, let’s listen only to those who direct you and me to heed God’s holy and living Word.

For further reading:

King Solomon in the Bible: His Story and Words of Wisdom

What Is the Meaning of Israel in the Bible?

11 Proven Ideas on Ensuring a God-Honoring Legacy

What Is the Wisdom of Solomon and Is it in the Bible?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Radachynskyi

headshot of David Sanford new 2020The late David Sanford’s book and Bible projects were published by Zondervan, Tyndale, Thomas Nelson, Doubleday, Barbour, and Amazon. His latest book was Life Map Devotional for Men published concurrently with his wife Renee’s book, Life Map Devotional for Women.


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