SEEKING HELP FOR HIS AILING SON, JEROBOAM IS CONDEMNED AS AN EVIL RULER FOR HIS RELIGIOUS EXPEDIENCY
The serious illness of his son (and potential heir to the throne in Israel) drove Jeroboam to seek assistance from God through the prophet Ahijah. Instead of any type of positive message, Jeroboam’s wife (with her deception exposed) received a wide-ranging proclamation of deserved condemnation and judgment. The death of their son served as the sign that God will fulfil the remainder of His promised judgments to wipe out the line of Jeroboam. Still there is no evidence of any remorse or repentance on the part of Jeroboam. He becomes the pattern for the wickedness of the kings of the N. Kingdom.
L. M. Grant: Though God had sought to reach Jeroboam’s conscience by the message and actions of the man of God, this produced no effect. So God used another means, by the severe illness of Jeroboam’s son. Jeroboam wanted help for the boy, and could only think of Ahijah the prophet who had told him he would be king. But his conscience so troubled him that in telling his wife to go to Ahijah, he ordered her to disguise herself (v.2). Jeroboam was totally insensible of the sovereign omniscience of God. He wanted information from God and thought he could fool God into giving him the information without knowing to whom he was giving it!
Wiersbe: He prayed for healing for his arm, and now he asked the prophet Ahijah to heal his son, the crown prince and heir to the throne. It’s obvious that physical blessings were more important to him than spiritual blessings. Like many nominal believers and careless church members today, the only time Jeroboam wanted help from God’s servant was when he was in trouble.
August Konkel: In spite of his divine calling and privileged position as a successor to Solomon, Jeroboam is remembered as the king who brought destruction to himself and to his land. Though Israel has a long history with many wicked kings, the prophetic historians view the fall of Israel as the responsibility of Jeroboam. This king violated three fundamental theological propositions of the kingdom of God: The promise of God belonged to the Davidic dynasty (cf. 12:26–27); only the temple could represent the divine presence (12:28–29); the worship of God was to take place in Jerusalem (12:30–33). Ahijah condemns Jeroboam on each of these three counts.28 Jeroboam’s dynasty ends because he established other symbols of worship so the people would not go to Jerusalem (14:9–11). The prophetic interpretation of Israel’s history is that Jeroboam has fundamentally undermined loyalty to God and is thus responsible for the nation’s destruction.
Mordechai Cogan: The reign of Jeroboam has thus come full circle and is brought to a close; its rise was prefigured by a prophecy (11:29–39), and its downfall was likewise predicted by a word of YHWH (14:7–16).
I. (:1-5) ATTEMPT AT DECEPTION
A. (:1-3) Burdened Sovereign Seeks to Manipulate the Prophet of God
1. (:1) Jeroboam Concerned for His Legacy
“At that time Abijah the son of Jeroboam became sick.”
2. (:2-3) Jeroboam Counsels His Wife to Deceive the Prophet Ahijah
“And Jeroboam said to his wife, ‘Arise now, and disguise yourself so that they may not know that you are the wife of Jeroboam, and go to Shiloh; behold, Ahijah the prophet is there, who spoke concerning me that I would be king over this people. 3 And take ten loaves with you, some cakes and a jar of honey, and go to him. He will tell you what will happen to the boy.’”
MacArthur: “disguise yourself” – Probably for the avoidance of recognition by the people. Jeroboam did not want his subjects to know that he was consulting a prophet of the Lord.
Constable: “Abijah” means “My Father Is the LORD.” Jeroboam probably sent his wife to see Ahijah because that prophet had previously given a favorable prophecy to him (11:29-39). He probably hoped his gift (v. 3) would win the prophet’s favor as Jeroboam had won the favor of the old prophet of Bethel.
Donald Wiseman: Normally high dignitaries would take a substantial gift (cf. 2 Kgs 5:5, 15; 8:8), but the ordinary person brought only a small ‘audience-gift’.
Rich Cathers: cracknels – niqqud – crumbled thing, thing easily crumbled, crumbs; apparently a kind of hard biscuit or cake
B. (:4-5) Blind Seer Enlightened by the Lord
1. (:4a) Plan to Deceive the Prophet Carried Out
“And Jeroboam’s wife did so, and arose and went to Shiloh,
and came to the house of Ahijah.”
Jonathan Spurlock: Jeroboam was living Tirzah, most likely in the central part of Ephraim’s territory, at the time. The distance between Tirzah and Shiloh, Ahijah’s home, is not certain but a guess would be about a complete day’s journey between the pair. Some maps of the area also give a suggestion of a rugged or hilly type of terrain which might have made travel even more difficult.
2. (:4b) Problem Compounded by the Blindness of the Prophet
“Now Ahijah could not see, for his eyes were dim because of his age.”
Paradox of a blind seer – but no blindness with the all-seeing Lord
3. (:5) Perception Enlightened by Divine Revelation
“Now the LORD had said to Ahijah, ‘Behold, the wife of Jeroboam is coming to inquire of you concerning her son, for he is sick. You shall say thus and thus to her, for it will be when she arrives that she will pretend to be another woman.’”
Dale Ralph Davis: Ahijah had admonished Jeroboam to function according to the David-standard (11:37–38), but he had not done so; Jeroboam had determined that neo-bovinism would do more for royal stability than covenant orthodoxy. Hence his bull cult (12:25–33). He likely knew Ahijah would hold a ‘jaundiced’ view of his religious innovations. He therefore dare not approach Ahijah directly, nor must his wife in any recognizable form. That would be sure to bring a bad word from the prophet. But if the royal wife appeared simply as an anxious Israelite mother seeking a word from God regarding her stricken son, why, the prophet might well be prone to give her a ‘good’ word. Certainly a gift (fee for services?, v. 3) wouldn’t hurt. In fact, the situation was better than Jeroboam dared hope, for Ahijah could scarcely see a thing anymore (v. 4b)!
Here is the king, then, with his magical view of the word of Yahweh. If he can only weasel a positive pronouncement out of the prophet, his son will surely recover. Even a manipulated word will be a certain word.
II. (:6-14) ADJUDICATION OF JEROBOAM’S LEGACY
A. (:6) Exposure of the Deception
“And it came about when Ahijah heard the sound of her feet coming in the doorway, that he said, ‘Come in, wife of Jeroboam, why do you pretend to be another woman? For I am sent to you with a harsh message.’”
We are going to deal with truth and harsh reality here; you can’t pretend to be somebody you are not
B. (:7-8a) Background of Privileged Exaltation
“Go, say to Jeroboam, ‘Thus says the LORD God of Israel,’”
1. (:7a) Privileged to be Chosen King
“Because I exalted you from among the people”
2. (:7b) Privileged with Leadership Responsibility over God’s Elect
“and made you leader over My people Israel,”
3. (:8a) Privileged in Contrast to Discipline Against the House of David
“and tore the kingdom away from the house of David
and gave it to you—“
C. (:8b-9) Indictment for Religious Expediency
1. (:8b) You are No King David
“yet you have not been like My servant David, who kept My commandments and who followed Me with all his heart, to do only that which was right in My sight;”
2. (:9a) You Excel in Evil
“you also have done more evil than all who were before you,”
MacArthur: He had installed a paganized system of worship for the entire population of the northern kingdom (cf. 16:25, 30; 2Ki 21:11).
3. (:9b) Your Idolatry Ticks Me Off
“and have gone and made for yourself other gods and molten images to provoke Me to anger,”
4. (:9c) You Have Rejected Me
“and have cast Me behind your back—“
D. (:10-11) Harsh Judgments to Eliminate Your Legacy
1. (:10a) General Summary: Calamity on Your House
“therefore behold, I am bringing calamity
on the house of Jeroboam,”
2. (:10b) Specific Judgment: Killing Every Male Descendent
“and will cut off from Jeroboam every male person,
both bond and free in Israel,”
William Barnes: Lit., “him who urinates against a wall”
3. (:10c) End Result: Elimination of Your House
“and I will make a clean sweep of the house of Jeroboam,
as one sweeps away dung until it is all gone.”
Victor Yap: God’s disdain, denigration and dismissal of Jeroboam was far worse than Jeroboam’s disapproval, denial and defiance of God. The king will sink to new low. Dung is mentioned for the first time and only time in the Old Testament (v 10). Dogs (plural) are unclean animals. Burning (v 10), scattering (v 15) and “stirred up/provoked” (v 15) are in the intensive piel form (translated with a “surely”).
There was no king as rotten and evil as Jeroboam in the eyes of God during the period of the Kings because he continued, rallied and perpetuated sin besides sinning personally, like no one else before or after.
4. (:11) Ultimate Humiliation: Desecration of the Dead Bodies
“Anyone belonging to Jeroboam who dies in the city the dogs will eat. And he who dies in the field the birds of the heavens will eat; for the LORD has spoken it.”
Dale Ralph Davis: All three threats are fulfilled:
Vv. 17–18 Death of son
15:25–30 Destruction of dynasty
2 Kings 17:21–23 Removal from land
Ahijah has been talking from verses 6–16. His prophecy dominates the chapter. And once you see that his word of judgment embraces son, dynasty, and nation, and climaxes in 2 Kings 17, you realize that Ahijah’s 1 Kings 14 prophecy is a programmatic piece that controls the whole history of the northern kingdom. That’s what the writer(s) of 1–2 Kings intended.
E. (:12-13) Sign = Immediate Death of Your Child
“Now you arise, go to your house. When your feet enter the city the child will die. 13 And all Israel shall mourn for him and bury him, for he alone of Jeroboam’s family shall come to the grave, because in him something good was found toward the LORD God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam.”
Wiersbe: Abijah would die, have a dignified burial, and be mourned by the people. The one son of wicked Jeroboam who could have ruled justly would be taken from them, not because he was wicked but because he was good and God wanted to spare him the suffering that lay ahead of the kingdom (Isa. 57:1). As he looked ahead (v. 14), Ahijah then saw Nadab, Jeroboam’s son and heir, reign for two years and then be assassinated by Baasha, a man from the tribe of Issachar (15:25-31). Baasha would not only kill Nadab, but he would exterminate the family of Jeroboam, in fulfillment of Ahijah’s prophecy (15:29).
F. (:14) Succession Plan = King Who Will Liquidate the Legacy of Jeroboam
“Moreover, the LORD will raise up for Himself a king over Israel
who shall cut off the house of Jeroboam this day and from now on.”
Iain Provan: This is the day! What? Yes, even now: A better translation is: “This is the day! What more can there be now?” It is a strange line, but it evidently functions to lead us from a description of what will happen in the short term (beginning on the same day, cf. v. 17), which might be thought bad enough, to a description of what will happen in the longer term, which is catastrophic. Surely there can be no news worse than the news about son and house—but there is (vv. 15–16)!
III. (:15-16) ACCUMULATION OF IMAGES OF CALAMITY AND DESTRUCTION
A. (:15a) Strike
“For the LORD will strike Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water;”
Mordechai Cogan: Up until this point, the focus of Ahijah’s prophecy has been the personal misconduct of Jeroboam for which he will be punished; now the sinful ways of the entire nation will bring about their scattering beyond the Euphrates. A similar double indictment is found in the concluding peroration on Israel’s downfall in 2 Kgs 17:7–23, but in that passage, national responsibility (vv. 7–17) outweighs the blotted record of Jeroboam (v. 21).
B. (:15b) Uproot
“and He will uproot Israel from this good land
which He gave to their fathers,”
C. (:15c) Scatter
“and will scatter them beyond the Euphrates River,
because they have made their Asherim, provoking the LORD to anger.”
MacArthur: Ahijah announced God’s stern judgment on Israel for joining Jeroboam’s apostasy. Struck by the Lord, Israel would sway like a reed in a rushing river, a biblical metaphor for political instability (cf. Mt. 11:7; Lk 7:24). One day, the Lord would uproot Israel from Palestinian soil and scatter it in exile E of the Euphrates. The fulfillment of this prophecy is recorded in 2Ki 17:23.
D. (:16) Give Up
“And He will give up Israel on account of the sins of Jeroboam,
which he committed and with which he made Israel to sin.”
IV. (:17-18) ASSURANCE OF CERTAIN FULFILMENT OF PROPHETIC JUDGMENTS = CONSUMMATION OF THE SIGN
A. (:17a) Wife Returns Home
“Then Jeroboam’s wife arose and departed and came to Tirzah.”
Constable: Evidently Jeroboam had moved his capital from Shechem to Tirzah (modern Tell el-Far’ah), seven miles to the northeast, and was living there (v. 17).
B. (:17b) Child Immediately Dies
“As she was entering the threshold of the house, the child died.”
C. (:18) Word of God Fulfilled
“And all Israel buried him and mourned for him, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke through His servant Ahijah the prophet.”
(:19-20) EPILOGUE = END OF JEROBOAM’S REIGN
A. (:19) Recorded Deeds
“Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, how he made war and how he reigned, behold, they are written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel.”
B. (:20a) Length of Reign
“And the time that Jeroboam reigned was twenty-two years;”
C. (:20b) Death
“and he slept with his fathers,”
D. (:20c) Succession
“and Nadab his son reigned in his place.”
Rich Cathers: There is a measure of God’s “longsuffering” here. Even though there has been a warning of judgment, God is being patient and giving the nation a chance to repent. But they still will continue in their sin.
Iain Provan: The boy duly dies as Jeroboam’s wife returns to her house in Tirzah, to which Jeroboam has apparently moved his court. Like the splitting of the altar in 13:5, the fulfillment of this immediate prophecy functions as a sign that everything else will also come to pass. We cannot regard the succession of Nadab, then, as anything other than temporary; for we know that Jeroboam’s house is doomed, just as surely as we know that David’s is secure.