Family of Solomon Age of Rehoboam His Character Religious History of Israel and Judah The Assembly at Shechem Jeroboams Return from Egypt Rehoboams Answer to the Deputies in Shechem Revolt of the Ten Tribes The Reigns of Rehoboam and of Jeroboam Invasion of Judah by Shishak Church and State in Israel Rehoboams Attempt to Recover Rule over the Ten Tribes His Family History Religious Decline in Israel, and its Consequences.
(1 KINGS 12; 14:21-23; 2 CHRONICLES 10-12)
STRANGE as it may seem, despite the multifarious marriages of the king, his alliances with neighboring nations, and his immense wealth, "the house of Solomon" was far from strong at the time of his decease. It may have been that Solomon left other sons besides Rehoboam, though it is strange that we find no notice of them, nor, indeed, of any child, except a casual remark about two of Solomon's daughters (1 Kings 4:11, 15). If other children survived him, their position must have been far less influential than that of the sons of David, nor does Rehoboam's succession appear to have been ever contested by any member of the family.
Rehoboam, or rather Rechavam ("he who enlargeth the people"), must have been very young at his accession. This we gather from the expression by which they "who had grown up with him" are described, and from the manner in which his son and successor, Abijah, characterized the commencement of his reign (2 Chronicles 13:7). There seems, therefore, considerable probability attaching to the suggestion, that the notice of his age at his accession - forty-one (1 Kings 14:21; 2 Chronicles 12:13) - is the mistake of a copyist, who in transcribing the figures misread the two letters ak - twenty-one - for am - forty-one. This supposition is strengthened by the fact that Rehoboam was not the son of the Egyptian princess, who seems to have been Solomon's first wife, but of Naamah, an Ammonitess;* and we know that it was only after his religious decline (1 Kings 11:1) that Solomon entered upon alliances with "strange women," among whom Ammonitesses are specially mentioned.**
* The LXX notice that she was the granddaughter of Nahash, king of Ammon.
** It is hardly credible that Solomon should have contracted such an alliance before his accession to the throne, which, of course, would be implied if Rehoboam was forty-one years old at the time of his father's death. The Rabbis find a parallel to the marriage of Solomon with Naamah in that of Ruth with Boaz (Jalkut, vol. ii., p. 32 a).
Of the character of Rehoboam we know sufficient to form an accurate estimate. David had taken care to commit the upbringing of his son and successor to the prophet Nathan; and, so far as we can judge, the early surroundings of Solomon were such as not only to keep him from intimacy with light or evil associates, but to train him in earnest piety. But when Rehoboam was born, King Solomon had already entered upon the fatal path which led to the ruin of his race; and the prince was brought up, like any other Eastern in similar circumstances, with the young nobles of a court which had learned foreign modes of thinking and foreign manners. The relation between the aristocracy and the people, between the king and his subjects, had changed from the primitive and God-sanctioned to that of ordinary Eastern despotism; and the notions which Rehoboam and his young friends entertained, appeared only too clearly in the first act of the king's reign. In general, we gather that Rehoboam was vain, weak, and impulsive; ready to give up under the influence of fear what he had desired and attempted when he deemed himself secure. Firm religious principles he had not, and his inclinations led him not only towards idolatry, but to a form of it peculiarly dissolute in its character (1 Kings 14:23, 24; 2 Chronicles 11:f17; 12:1). During the first three years of his reign he remained, indeed, faithful to the religion of his fathers, either through the influence of the Levites who had gathered around him from all Israel - though even in this case his motives might be rather political than conscientious - or else under the impression of the outward consequences of his first great mistake. But this mood soon passed away, and when the state-reasons for his early adherence to the worship of Jehovah had ceased to be cogent, or he felt himself secure on his throne, he yielded, as we have seen, to his real inclinations in the matter.
Here, at the outset of the separate history of the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, it may be well to take a general view of the relation of these two divisions of the Jewish people to Jehovah, their King. That the sin of Israel was much deeper, and their apostasy from God much sooner and more fully developed than in the case of Judah, appears from the circumstance, that the Divine judgment in the banishment of the people from their land overtook Israel 123 years earlier than Judah. Yet at first sight it seems almost strange that such should have been the case.
Altogether, the period of the separate existence of the two kingdoms (to the deportation of the ten tribes under Shalmaneser, about 722 B.C.)extended over 253 years. During that time, thirteen monarchs reigned over Judah, and twenty over Israel - besides two periods of probable interregnum, or rather of anarchy in Israel. The religious history of the ten tribes during these two and a half centuries may be written in very brief compass. Of all the kings of Israel it is uniformly said, that they "walked in the ways of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat," except of Ahab and his two sons (Ahaziah and Joram), under whose reigns the worship of Baal became the established religion of the country. It follows, that there was not a single king in Israel who really served the LORD or worshipped in His Temple. On the other hand, there were at least five kings in Judah distinguished for their piety (Asa, Jehoshaphat, Uzziah, Jotham, and Hezekiah), while of the other eight, two (Joash and Amaziah) continued for a considerable, and a third (Rehoboam) for a short period their profession of the religion of their fathers. Four of the other five kings acquired, indeed, a terrible notoriety for daring blasphemy. Abijam, the son and successor of Rehoboam, adopted all the practices of his father during the last fourteen years of that monarch's reign. During the reign of Joram the worship of Baal was introduced into Judah; and we know with what terrible consistency it was continued under Ahaziah and Athaliah, the measure of iniquity being filled by Ahaz, who ascended the throne twenty years before the deportation of the ten tribes, when the doors of the Sanctuary were actually closed, and an idol-altar set up in the Temple court. But, despite all this, idolatry never struck its roots deeply among the people, and this for three reasons. There was, first, the continued influence for good of the Temple at Jerusalem; and in this we see at least one providential reason for the existence of a central Sanctuary, and for the stringency of the Law which confined all worship to its courts. Secondly, the idolatrous kings of Judah were always succeeded by monarchs distinguished for piety, who swept away the rites of their predecessors; while, lastly and most remarkably, the reign of the idolatrous kings was uniformly brief as compared with that of the God-fearing rulers. Thus, on a review of the whole period, we find that, of the 253 years between the accession of Rehoboam and the deportation of the ten tribes, 200 passed under the rule of monarchs who maintained the religion of Jehovah, while only during 53 years His worship was more or less discarded by the kings of Judah.*
* We arrive at this result by the following computation: - Years of public idolatry under Rehoboam, 14; under Abijah, 3; under Joram, 6; under Ahaziah, 1; under Athaliah, 6; under Ahaz, 16; or in all 46 years, to which we add 7, for the later idolatrous reigns of Joash and Amaziah. See Keil, Bibl. Commentar, vol. iii., pp. 137, 138.
We repeat, it were a mistake to ascribe the separation of the ten tribes entirely to the harsh and foolish refusal of Rehoboam to redress the grievances of the people. This only set the spark to the inflammable material which had long been accumulating. We have seen how dissatisfaction had spread, especially in the northern parts of the kingdom, during the later part of Solomon's reign; how, indeed, a rising seems to have been actually attempted by Jeroboam, though for the time it failed. We have also called attention to the deep-seated tribal jealousy between Ephraim and Judah, which ever and again broke into open hostility Judges 8:1-3; 12:1-6; 2 Samuel 2:9; 19:42, 43). This, indeed, may be described as the ultimate (secondary) cause of the separation of the two kingdoms. And, if proof were required that the rebellion against Rehoboam was only the outcome of previously existing tendencies, we would find it even in the circumstance that the language used by the representatives of Israel, when renouncing the rule of Rehoboam, was exactly the same as that of Sheba when he raised against David the standard of what would be represented as the ancient federal Republic of Israel (2 Samuel 20:1 comp. with 1 Kings 12:16). Still more wrongful would it be to account for the conduct either of Israel or of Jeroboam, or even to attempt vindicating it, on the ground of the prophecy of Ahijah (1 Kings 11:29-39). The latter foretold an event in history, and explained the reason of what, in view of the promises to David, would otherwise have been unaccountable. But such prediction and announcement of judgment - even if known to the tribes - warranted neither their rebellion nor the usurpation of Jeroboam. It is, indeed, true that, as the Old Testament considers all events as directly connected with God, its fundamental principle being: Jehovah reigneth - and that not merely in a pseudo-spiritual, but in the fullest sense - this, as all other things that come to man, is ultimately traced up to the living God. So was the resistance of Pharaoh, and so are the sword, the pestilence, and the famine. For, all things are of Him, Who sendeth blessings upon His people, and taketh vengeance of their inventions; Who equally ruleth in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; Who maketh the wrath of man as well as the worship of His people to praise Him; Who always doeth marvelously, whether He accomplish His purposes by direct interposition from heaven, or, as much more frequently, through a chain of natural causation, of which He holds the first, and man the last, link. This grand truth, as fully expressed and applied in the sublime language of Psalm 147, is the sheet-anchor of faith by which it rides out the storms of this world. Ever to look up straight to God, to turn from events and secondary causations to Jehovah as the living God and the reigning King, is that denial of things seen and affirmation of things unseen, which constitute the victory of faith over the world.
On the death of his father, Rehoboam seems to have at once, and without opposition, assumed the reins of government. His enthronement at Jerusalem implied the homage of Judah and its neighbor-tribe Benjamin. According to ancient custom, the representatives of the more distant tribes should have assembled at the residence of the king, when in a great popular assembly the royal dignity would be solemnly conferred, and public homage rendered to the new monarch (comp. 1 Samuel 11:15; 2 Samuel 2:4; 5:3; 1 Chronicles 29:22). But, instead of repairing to Jerusalem, the representatives of the ten tribes gathered at Shechem, the ancient capital of Ephraim, where important popular assemblies had previously been held (Joshua 8:30-35; 24:1-28), and the first claimant of royalty in Israel, Abimelech, had set up his throne (Judges 9:1-23). Only one meaning could attach to their choice of this place.*
* Jewish commentators expressly account for the gathering of the ten tribes at Shechem on the ground of their intention to make Jeroboam their king.
They had indeed come to make Rehoboam king, but only with full concessions to their tribal claims. All that they now required was an energetic leader. Such an one was to hand in the person of Jeroboam, who in the reign of King Solomon had headed the popular movement. After the failure of his attempt, he had fled into Egypt, and been welcomed by Shishak. The weak (21st Tanite) dynasty, with which King Solomon had formed a matrimonial alliance, had been replaced by the vigorous and martial rule of Shishak (probably about fifteen years before the death of Solomon). The rising kingdom of Palestine - allied as it was with the preceding dynasty - was too close, and probably too threatening a neighbor not to be attentively watched by Shishak. It was obviously his policy to encourage Jeroboam, and to support any movement which might divide the southern from the northern tribes, and thus give Egypt the supremacy over both. In point of fact, five years later Shishak led an expedition against Rehoboam, probably not so much for the purpose of humbling Judah as of strengthening the new kingdom of Israel.
The sacred text leaves it doubtful whether, after hearing of the accession of Rehoboam, Jeroboam continued in Egypt until sent for by the representatives of the ten tribes, or returned to Ephraim of his own accord.* In any case, he was not in Shechem when the assembly of the Israelitish deputies met there, but was expressly sent for to conduct negotiations on their behalf.**
* The LXX version has here several additions about the mother of Jeroboam, his stay in Egypt, his conduct after his return, etc. This is not the place to discuss them in detail, but they may safely be rejected as legendary, and, indeed, quite in the spirit of later Jewish tradition.
** Probably Jeroboam returned of his own account, but did not go to Shechem until he was sent for by the deputies of Israel. This accords with the two versions. There is no need further to discuss here the reading, or rather the proper punctuation of 1 Kings 12:2, 3.
It was a mark of weakness on the part of Rehoboam to have gone to Shechem at all; and it must have encouraged the deputies in their demands. Moderate as these sound, they seem to imply not only a lightening of the "heavy" burden of forced labor and taxation, but of the "grievous yoke" of what they regarded as a despotism, which prevented their free movements. It is on this supposition alone that we can fully account for the reply which Rehoboam ultimately gave them. The king took three days to consider the demand. First, he consulted Solomon's old advisers, who strongly urged a policy of at least temporary compliance. The advice was evidently ungrateful, and the king - as Absalom of old, and most weak men in analogous circumstances - next turned to another set of counselors. They were his young companions - as the text throughout contemptuously designates them: "the children (the boys) who had grown up with him." With their notions of the royal supremacy, they seem to have imagined that such dating attempts at independence arose from doubt of the king's power and courage, and would be best repressed if sternly met by an overawing assertion of authority. Rehoboam was not to discuss their demands, but to tell them that they would find they had to deal with a monarch far more powerful and far more strict than his father had been. To put it in the vain-glorious language of the Eastern "boy-counselors," he was to say to them, "My little finger is bigger than my father's hips. And now my father did lade upon you a heavy yoke, and I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips [those of ordinary slaves], but I will chastise you with [so-called] 'scorpions'"* - or whips armed with hooks, such as were probably used upon criminals or recalcitrants.
* So literally.
Grossly foolish as this advice was, Rehoboam followed it - the sacred writer remarking, in order to account for such an occurrence: "for the turn (of events) was from Jehovah, that He might perform His word which Jehovah spake by the hand of Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat."*
* So literally.
The effect was, indeed, immediate. To the shout of Sheba's ancient war-cry of rebellion the assembly renounced their allegiance to the house of David, and the deputies returned to their homes. Rehoboam perceived his fatal error, when it was too late to retrieve its consequences. Even his attempt in that direction was a mistake. The king sent Adoram,* the superintendent of the tribute and of forced labor** - the two forming apparently one department of the king's dues - to arrange, if possible, matters with the rebellious tribes. But this seemed only like trifling with their grievances, and a fresh insult. The presence of the hated official called forth such feelings, that he was stoned, and Rehoboam himself narrowly escaped*** the same fate by flight to Jerusalem.
* As three persons of that name are mentioned (2 Samuel 20:24; 1 Kings 5:6; 12:18) who must have lived at different times, may not "Adoram" be the appellation of the office?
** The one Hebrew word means both - and probably the two belonged to the same department of royal dues.
*** This is implied in ver. 18; see the marginal rendering.
The rebellion of the ten tribes was soon followed by their formation into an independent kingdom. When, on their return from Shechem, the deputies made known the presence of Jeroboam, the tribes sent for him, and in a popular assembly appointed him king over all Israel. Still, it must not be thought that the whole land was absolutely subject to him. When thinking of monarchy in Palestine, it is always necessary to bear in mind the long-established and great municipal fights and liberties which made every city with its district, under its Elders, almost an independent state within the state. Accordingly, we find it chronicled as a note worthy fact (1 Kings 12:17), that King Rehoboam reigned over those Israelites who were settled in Judean towns - either wholly inhabiting, or forming the majority in them; while it is marked as a wise measure on the part of Rehoboam, that he distributed "his children throughout all the countries (districts) of Judah and Benjamin unto every fenced city" no doubt, with the view of making sure of their allegiance. It seems to have been otherwise within the domains of Jeroboam. From 2 Chronicles 11:13-16 we learn that, on the substitution by Jeroboam and his successors of the worship of the golden calves for the service of Jehovah, the old religion was disestablished, and the Levites deprived of their ecclesiastical revenues, the new priesthood which took their place being probably supported by the dues of their office, and, if we may judge from the history of Ahab (1 Kings 18:19), by direct assistance from the royal treasury. In consequence of these changes, many of the Levites seem to have settled in Judaea, followed perhaps by more or less extensive migrations of the pious laity, varying according to the difficulties put in the way of resorting to the great festivals in Jerusalem. It would, however, be a mistake to infer the entire exodus of the pious laity or of the Levites.* But even if such had been the case, the feeling in the ancient Levitical cities would for some time have continued sufficiently strong to refuse allegiance to Jeroboam.
* In point of fact, 2 Chronicles 11:16 does not necessarily imply any settlement of the pious laity in Judah; and even the evidence for that of the priests and Levites is not quite convincing (see the next chapter).
And here a remarkable document throws unexpected light upon our history. On the wall of the great Egyptian Temple of Karnak, Shishak has left a record of his victorious expedition against Judah. Among the conquests there named 133 have been deciphered - although only partially identified - while 14 are now illegible. The names ascertained have been arranged into three groups* - those of Judean cities (the smallness of their number being accounted for by the erasures just mentioned); those of Arab tribes, south of Palestine; and those of Levitical and Canaanite cities within the territory of the new kingdom of Israel. It is the latter which here alone claim our attention.
* Compare Mr. Poole's admirable article on "Shishak," in Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, vol. Iii. pp. 1287-1295.
Any conquest of cities within the territory of Jeroboam might surprise us, since the expedition of Shishak was against Judah, and not against Israel - indeed, rather in alliance with Jeroboam and in support of his new kingdom. Another remarkable circumstance is, that these Israelitish conquests of Shishak are all of Levitical or else of ancient Canaanite cities, and that they are of towns in all parts of the territory of the ten tribes, and at considerable distances from one another, there being, however, no mention of the taking of the intervening cities. All these facts point to the conclusion, to which we have already been directed on quite independent grounds, that the Levitical and ancient Canaanite cities within the territory of Jeroboam did not acknowledge his rule. This is why they were attacked and conquered by Shishak on his expedition against Judah, as virtually subject to the house of David, and hence constituting an element not only of rebellion but of danger within the new kingdom of Israel. Before quitting this subject, these two remarks may be allowed, how wonderfully, and we may add, unexpectedly, documents of secular history - apparently accidentally discovered - confirm and illustrate the narratives of the Bible; and how wise, politically and religiously, how suited to the national life, were the institutions of the Old Testament, even when to our notions they seem most strange, as in the case of Levitical cities throughout the land. For, these cities, besides serving other most important purposes, formed also the strongest bond of political union, and at the same time the most powerful means of preserving throughout the country the unity of the faith in the unity of the central worship of Jehovah at Jerusalem. Thus national union and religious purity were bound up together, and helped to preserve each other.
But to return. On the elevation of Jeroboam to the new throne of Israel, Rehoboam made one more attempt to recover the lost parts of David's kingdom. He assembled an army of 180,000 men* from Judah and Benjamin - the latter tribe having apparently become almost unified with Judah since the establishment of the political and religious capital in Jerusalem, through which ran the boundary-line between Judah and Benjamin. But the expedition was at its outset arrested by Divine direction through the prophet Shemaiah.**
* The LXX has 120,000, but the number in the Hebrew text is moderate (comp. 2 Samuel 24:9).
** From 2 Chronicles 12:15 we learn that Shemaiah wrote a history of the reign of Rehoboam.
This abandonment of an expedition and dispersion of a host simply upon the word of a prophet, are quite as remarkable as the courage of that prophet in facing an army in such circumstances, and his boldness in so fully declaring as a message from Jehovah what must have been a most unwelcome announcement alike to king and people. Both these considerations are very important in forming an estimate, not only of the religious and political state of the time, and their mutual inter-relations, but of the character of, "Prophetism" in Israel. The expedition once abandoned was not again renewed, although throughout the reign of Rehoboam there were constant incursions and border-raids - probably chiefly of a predatory character - on the part of Judah and of Israel (1 Kings 14:30). The remaining notices of Rehoboam's reign concern the internal and external relations of Judah, as well as the sad religious change which passed over the country after the first three years of his rule. They are recorded, either solely or with much fuller details, in the Book of Chronicles (2 Chronicles 11:4 to 12:16). The first measure referred to is the building of fifteen fortresses, of which thirteen were in the land of Judah - Hebron forming, as it were, the center of theme and only two (Zorah and Aijalon) within the later possession of Benjamin.*
* Originally they belonged to Dan (Joshua 19:41, 42), but see 1 Chronicles 6:66-69.
They served as a continuous chain of forts south of Jerusalem, and to defend the western approaches into the country. The northern boundary was left wholly unprotected. From this it would appear that Rehoboam chiefly dreaded an incursion from Egypt, though it does not by any means follow that these fortresses were only built after the campaign of Shishak, which took place five years after the accession of Solomon's son.
The next notice concerns the family relations of Rehoboam. It appears that he had eighteen wives and sixty concubines (thirty, according to Josephus, Ant. 8. 10, 11), following in this respect the evil example of Solomon. Of his wives only two* are named, his cousin Mahalath, the daughter of Jerimoth, a son of David (either the same as Ithream, 1 Chronicles 3:3, or the son of one of David's concubines, 1 Chronicles 3:9), and of Abihail, the daughter of Eliab, David's eldest brother; and Maachah, the daughter, or rather, evidently, the granddaughter of Absalom,** through his only child, Tamar (2 Samuel 14:27; 18:18; comp. Jos. Ant. 8. 10, 11), who had married Uriel of Gibeah (2 Chronicles 13:2).
* Some commentators have regarded Abihail (2 Chronicles 11:18) as the name of a third wife, and accordingly represented her, not as a daughter but as a granddaughter of Eliab. But even if this were not contrary to the plain meaning of vers. 18, 19, a granddaughter of Eliab would have been too old for the wife of Rehoboam.
** This appears clearly from 2 Chronicles 13:2. At the death of Solomon the daughter of Absalom would be about fifty years of age. In 2 Chronicles 13:2 the name is misspelled Michaiah.
Maachah, named after her paternal great-grandmother (the mother of Absalom, 1 Chronicles 3:2), was the favorite of the king, and her eldest son, Abijah, made "chief among his brethren," with succession to the throne. As already noticed, Rehoboam took care to locate his other sons in the different districts of his territory, giving them ample means for sustaining their rank, and forming numerous and influential alliances for them.* Altogether Rehoboam had twenty-eight sons and sixty daughters.
* Our Authorized Version renders 2 Chronicles 11:23: "he desired many wives," which seems to imply that Rehoboam sought them for himself. But this is not the case. The original has it, that he "demanded (or sought)" these alliances for his sons, evidently to strengthen his connection with the noble families of the land.
From these general notices, which must be regarded as referring not to any single period, but to the whole reign of Rehoboam, we pass to what, as regards the Scripture narrative, is the most important event in this history. The fact itself is told in fullest detail in the Book of Kings (1 Kings 14:22- 24); its punishment at the hand of God in the Book of Chronicles (2 Chronicles 12:2, 12).
After the first three years of Rehoboam's reign a great change seems to have come over the religious aspect of the country. Rehoboam and Judah did not, indeed, openly renounce the worship of Jehovah. On the contrary, we find that the king continued to attend the house of the LORD in royal state, and that after the incursion of Shishak there was even a partial religious revival* (2 Chronicles 12:11, 12).
* It must not be thought that there was a formal renunciation in Judah of the worship of Jehovah; but, side by side with it other services were carried on, which Holy Scripture rightly describes as so inconsistent with it as to amount to idolatry.
Still the general character of this period was, that "Rehoboam forsook the law of Jehovah, and all Israel with him," that "he did evil in that he did not set his heart on seeking Jehovah" (2 Chronicles 12:1, 14, lit.), and, lastly, that "Judah did the evil in the sight of Jehovah, and provoked Him to jealousy (viewing the relation between the LORD and Israel as one of marriage, Numbers 5:14) - more than anything which their fathers had done by their sins which they sinned" (1 Kings 14:22). These sins consisted in building Bamoth, or "high places," i.e., altars on every high hill, and setting up in every grove Mazzeboth, or memorial-stones and pillars dedicated to Baal, and Asherim, or trunks of trees dedicated to Astarte (with all the vileness which their service implied).*
* The Bamoth would be on the heights, the Baal-and Astarte-worship in the groves.
This idolatry was, indeed, not new in Israel - though it had probably not been practiced to the same extent. But in addition to this we now read of persons "consecrated" to the Syrian goddess, with the nameless abominations connected therewith. This form of heathen pollution was of purely Canaanite origin. As indicating the influence of the Canaanites upon Judah, it may perhaps be regarded as another evidence of the connection subsisting between Rehoboam and the ancient Canaanite cities within the territory of Israel.
The Divine punishment was not long withheld. Once more it came in the course of natural causation, through the political motives which influenced Shishak, and led him to support Jeroboam. In the fifth year of Rehoboam's reign Shishak marched a large army of Egyptians, Lybians, Sukkiim, ("tent-dwellers"? Arabs?), and Ethiopians, with 1,200 chariots"* and 60,000 horsemen, into Judaea, and, after taking the fenced cities along his route, advanced upon Jerusalem, where Rehoboam and his army were gathered.
* This number is thoroughly consistent with such notices as Exodus 14:7; 1 Kings 10:26, and other well-ascertained historical instances.
Once more the prophet Shemaiah averted a contest, which could only have ended in disaster. On showing them that the national danger, though apparently arising from political causes, was really due to their sin against Jehovah (2 Chronicles 12:2); and that it was needless to fight, since, as they had been God-forsaking, they were now God-forsaken (ver. 5) the king and his princes humbled themselves. Thereupon the LORD intimated through His prophet, that He would "grant them deliverance for a little while," on condition of their submitting to Shishak. The reason for this, "that they may know My service, and the service of the kingdoms of the countries," as well as the terms by which the promised deliverance was qualified, contained the most solemn warning of the ultimate consequences of apostasy. Yet the Divine forbearance continued other 370 years before the threatened judgment burst upon the nation. But at this time Jerusalem was spared. Voluntary submission having been made, Shishak entered the city, and contented himself with carrying away the treasures of the Temple and of the Palace, including among the latter the famous golden shields used by Solomon's body-guard on state occasions,* for which Rehoboam now substituted shields of brass.**
* These were kept in the guard-house, or "house of the runners," who kept watch at the entrance of the king's house - and not, as before - in the house of the forest of Lebanon (1 Kings 10:17).
** And yet the Rabbis speak of the reign of Rehoboam as one of the five brilliant periods (those of David, Solomon, Rehoboam, Asa, and Abijah, Shem. R. 15). The Rabbinical notices are collated in the Nachalath Shim., p. 61, cols. c and d. There is a curious legend (Pes. 119, a), that Joseph gathered in Egypt all the gold and silver of the world, and that the children of Israel brought it up with them from Egypt. On the capture of Jerusalem, Shishak is said to have taken it, and the possession of this treasure is then traced through various wars to Rome, where it is said now to be.
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