THE LEADERSHIP FAILURE OF REHOBOAM RESULTS IN THE JUDGMENT OF SHISHAK’S INVASION WHICH IS MITIGATED BY HUMBLE REPENTANCE BUT STILL PAINFUL IN ITS OUTCOME
Andrew Hill: Pharaoh Shishak or Sheshonq I was the founder of the Twenty-Second Dynasty, and he reunified Upper and Lower Egypt. He ruled from 945–924 B.C., and his campaign into Palestine takes place during the fifth year of Rehoboam (925 B.C.). His own account of the campaign is inscribed on the walls of the temple of Karnak, according to which he sweeps through Judah and Israel as far north as the Valley of Jezreel and Megiddo, capturing more than 150 towns and villages along the way.
The Chronicler understands Shishak’s invasion of Judah as punishment for sin, in that Rehoboam and all Israel have “abandoned the law of the LORD” (12:1). By “all Israel” the Chronicler means all the Israelites living in Judah (the “true” Israel), whether from northern or southern Hebrew tribal stock. The Chronicler assigns this breach of Judah’s faithfulness to Yahweh and the Egyptian raid into Palestine a cause-and-effect relationship, a clear indication of his acknowledgment of the God of the Hebrews as the sovereign Lord of history (12:2).
J.A. Thompson: The invasion of Shishak was, in the eyes of the Chronicler, retribution for Rehoboam’s sin (11:14–16). Against such a foe Rehoboam’s defenses were only a partial match. The account here in 2 Chronicles 12 is parallel to 1 Kgs 14:21–28 but owes something to a source that preserved some details of Shishak’s invasion and the prophecy of Shemaiah (vv. 3–8, 12). It shows a concern for Judah’s abandonment of the law of the Lord. The passage makes use of terms that are characteristic of the Chronicler’s theology of divine retribution, namely, “forsake” or “abandon” (vv. 1, 5), “be unfaithful” (v. 2), and “humble oneself” (vv. 6–7, 12). The Shishak incident provided a model of the sort of thing that could happen again.
Martin Selman: Rehoboam’s unfaithfulness has two interesting analogies elsewhere in Chronicles. Firstly, the combination of his unfaithfulness (v. 2) with a failure to obey God’s word (v. 1) or to seek God’s will (v. 14), effectively makes him a second Saul (cf. 1 Ch. 10:13-14). Secondly, his pride in his own strength anticipates Uzziah’s downfall (2 Ch. 26:16). Both parallels strengthen the typical nature of Rehoboam’s sins.
Mark Boda: To his Persian-period audience, this story would have had heightened relevance. On the one hand, it encouraged repentance; on the other hand, it explained the purpose behind the despoiling and domination they had experienced by foreign rulers. The prophet’s statement revealed that foreign domination was not an eternal condition but has didactic purposes to teach Israel the advantage of serving their gracious God.
Geoffrey Kirkland: We’ll see 3 most essential reminders for us in our lives as we walk with God as learn about Rehoboam’s Sin, God’s Holiness, Sin’s Consequences, and God’s Abundant Mercy.
1. Humbly Cling to Scripture (vv1)
2. Frequently Consider Sin’s Consequences (vv2-12)
3. Vigilantly Guard Your Heart (vv13-16)
I. (:1-4) APOSTASY UNDER REHOBOAM RESULTED IN SHISHAK’S FORCEFUL INVASION AS DIVINE JUDGMENT
A. (:1) Apostasy Can Develop in Times of Security and Complacency –
The Environment for Shishak’s Invasion
“It took place when the kingdom of Rehoboam was established and strong
that he and all Israel with him forsook the law of the LORD.”
Raymond Dillard: The Chronicler’s hand in reshaping the account in Kings is transparent here. Kings makes no judgment regarding the reasons for Shishak’s attack, but for the Chronicler defeat and humiliation in warfare are the consequence of divine judgment. “Abandon, forsake” and “be rebellious” are key vehicles for the Chronicler’s theology of retribution. The author does not spell out the precise nature of this abandoning and infidelity; presumably the transgressions are those described in 1 Kgs 14:22–24; cf. 12:14. The Chronicler will later suggest an additional reason for Rehoboam’s political failures, his youth and immaturity (13:7). . .
Here (12:1) “all Israel” refers to the Southern Kingdom, but also as including citizenry from the other tribes (11:13–17). The “law of Yahweh” implies a canonical corpus, at least equivalent to the Pentateuch by the Chronicler’s own time; cf. 17:9; 6:16.
Andrew Hill: The reason for the lapse in Judah’s loyalty to Yahweh after three years of walking faithfully in the ways of David and Solomon is unclear (cf. 11:17). The phrase “he had become strong” (12:1) suggests that pride and self-reliance have replaced Rehoboam’s dependence on God. Perhaps Rehoboam has taken his initiatives to fortify the cities guarding Jerusalem too seriously (cf. 11:5–12), trusting in his own defensive measures rather than on God.
Iain Duguid: A Hebrew phrase using the noun khezqah (“strength, being strong”) occurs in Chronicles only here and concerning Uzziah (2 Chron. 26:16), and tragically in both instances “strong” is followed by “unfaithful to the Lord.” It appears that Rehoboam had come to rely on his “strong” fortresses (11:11–12), and he and the people forgot that the “strength” of a supporting population was in their faithful worship at the temple (11:17; cf. 1 Kings 14:23–24).
J.A. Thompson: The verb “abandon” (‘āzab) is theologically significant. Externally Rehoboam and his nation suffered defeat at the hands of Shishak, a foreign enemy (cf. 7:19–22; 21:10; 24:24; 28:6; 29:6, 8–9; 34:25). But the real punishment was that God had abandoned Rehoboam. Abandoning God is the exact opposite of “seeking” God.
B. (:2-3) Apostasy Makes a People Vulnerable to Powerful Enemies –
The Explanation for Shishak’s Invasion and the Enumeration of His Forces
“And it came about in King Rehoboam’s fifth year, because they had been unfaithful to the LORD, that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem
3 with 1,200 chariots and 60,000 horsemen. And the people who came with him from Egypt were without number: the Lubim, the Sukkiim, and the Ethiopians.”
John MacArthur: Ca. 926 B.C. Presumably, Rehoboam’s 3 years of blessing preceded a fourth year of spiritual rebellion, which God judged in his fifth year with judgment at the hand of the Egyptians.
Andrew Hill: The Chronicler’s inclusion of the “Sukkites” among the allies of Shishak attests to the antiquity of the sources for the report of Shishak’s campaign, since these Libyan warriors from the oases of the western desert are known primarily from Egyptian records of the thirteenth and twelfth centuries B.C.
Matthew Henry: God quickly brought troubles upon them, to awaken them, and recover them to repentance, before their hearts were hardened. It was but in the fourth year of Rehoboam that they began to corrupt themselves, and in the fifth year the king of Egypt came up against them with a vast army, took the fenced cities of Judah, and came against Jerusalem, 2 Chron. 12:2, 3, 4. This great calamity coming upon them so soon after they began to desert the worship of God, by a hand they had little reason to suspect (having had a great deal of friendly correspondence with Egypt in the last reign), and coming with so much violence that all the fenced cities of Judah, which Rehoboam had lately fortified and garrisoned and on which he relied much for the safety of his kingdom, fell immediately into the hands of the enemy, without making any resistance, plainly showed that it was from the Lord, because they had transgressed against him.
C. (:4) Apostasy Leaves Us Defenseless –
The Extent of Shishak’s Invasion
1. Inroads: Captured the Fortified Cities of Judah
“And he captured the fortified cities of Judah”
Human attempts at defense and fortification proved futile in the face of God’s agency for judgment
2. Terminus: Came as far as Jerusalem
“and came as far as Jerusalem.”
Limited only by Divine Providence in protecting God’s holy city from utter devastation.
II. (:5-8) ACCEPTANCE OF HUMBLE REPENTANCE ONLY MITIGATES BUT DOES NOT ELIMINATE THE PAINFUL CONSEQUENCES OF SIN
A. (:5) Prophetic Indictment Justifying God’s Judgment
“Then Shemaiah the prophet came to Rehoboam and the princes of Judah who had gathered at Jerusalem because of Shishak, and he said to them, ‘Thus says the LORD, You have forsaken Me, so I also have forsaken you to Shishak.’”
Raymond Dillard: The formula “you have abandoned me; I have abandoned you” or an approximate equivalent appears in similar speech materials in 1 Chr 28:9; 2 Chr 15:2; 24:20 and demonstrates the hand of the author in the presentation of speeches. The outworking of the programmatic statement that “if my people . . . will humble themselves . . .” (7:14) is vividly portrayed in this narrative; Yahweh does take account of the humility and penitence of king and people and lessens the consequences of Shishak’s attack.
Peter Wallace: It would be wrong to say: “If you feel like God has abandoned you then God has abandoned you!” Your feelings do not provide sufficient evidence to explain what God is doing! But one possibility for your feeling that God has abandoned you is that you have abandoned God.
B. (:6) Humble Confession of Sin and of God’s Righteous Judgment
“So the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said,
‘The LORD is righteous.’”
Andrew Hill: Shemaiah the prophet (12:5) is known as a “man of God” (11:2) and earlier warned Rehoboam not to wage war against the northern tribes of Israel after the split of Solomon’s kingdom (11:4). He now brings a message of both judgment (12:5) and mercy to Rehoboam and the leaders of Judah (12:7–8). The principle that God “abandons” those who “abandon” him is candidly presented and basic to the Chronicler’s theology (cf. 1 Chron. 28:9, 20; 2 Chron. 15:2; 24:20). The response by Rehoboam and the leaders of Judah that “the LORD is just” (2 Chron. 12:6) is essentially a confession of sin—an acknowledgment that God is in the right (cf. Dan. 9:14). God accepts this confession as an act of “humbling oneself” (2 Chron. 12:6–7), a form of repentance that brings the sinner back to God.
C. (:7-8) Divine Mitigation of the Extent of Judgment
“And when the LORD saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the LORD came to Shemaiah, saying, ‘They have humbled themselves so I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some measure of deliverance, and My wrath shall not be poured out on Jerusalem by means of Shishak. 8 But they will become his slaves so that they may learn the difference between My service and the service of the kingdoms of the countries.’”
Andrew Hill: God mercifully decrees that Judah will experience a “qualified” deliverance from Shishak (12:7b), but they will not escape the consequences of their disobedience—they will “become subject to him [i.e., Shishak]” for a time (12:8). The so-called “school of hard knocks” is a trying way to learn that it is better to serve the Lord than to be subjects of a foreign king (12:8). At times God uses whatever means are necessary to teach his people important lessons about the nature of his covenant relationship with them (in this case “fearing” God and not Shishak, 12:5).
John MacArthur: A fitting punishment arose to remind the Jews of their heritage in relationship to Egypt. This was the first major military encounter with Egypt since the Exodus had ended hundreds of years of slavery there. A taste of being enslaved again to a people from whom God had given liberation was bitter. The message was crystal clear – if the Jews would forsake the true worship of God, they would also lose His protective hand of blessing. It was much better to serve God than to have to serve “kingdoms of the countries.”
Iain Duguid: Instead of expected destruction, the taking of Jerusalem, we see gracious mitigation in “some deliverance [“a little escape”]” (cf. 12:12); they will, however, continue to serve Shishak. The reality that “they [will] know my service and the service of the kingdoms of the countries [“lands”]” makes the immediate situation an example of others to come, particularly after the exile, when the people are secure in Jerusalem with its temple but remain as “servants” of the Persian Empire. That service, however, does not lessen their responsibility in the larger, overarching “service” of God. The wording points to God’s using foreign rulers as means through which the people learn more what it means to serve God (cf. Ezra 9:8–9).
Frederick Mabie: In the aftermath of this covenantal unfaithfulness and God’s judgment, the covenant functionary role of the prophet is reflected in Shemaiah’s proclamation of the sin of the people and the resulting divine judgment (v. 5; cf. Johnstone, 2:41-43). The king and the leaders of Israel respond to the prophet’s indictment in a way anticipated in Solomon’s temple-dedication prayer in 6:24-25 (12:6; also cf. v. 12). While Jerusalem is not destroyed (v. 7), the temple and palace treasuries are ravaged (see v. 9) and the southern kingdom will now be under the hegemony of Egypt as a continuation of the consequence of abandoning God and his Word.
Peter Wallace: vv. 6-8 — If You Will Humble Yourselves, You Will Be Delivered from Destruction (not necessarily from the consequences of sin).
What does it mean to humble yourself? There may be outward signs of humility (fasting, tearing clothes, sackcloth and ashes – are all outward signs) – but the Chronicler isn’t interested in that. He wants to focus on the one thing that is essential to humility: what you say to him. The princes and the king say, “The LORD is righteous.” They are not merely stating a general theological truth (although it is always true!). (Yahweh is always righteous!) They are saying that in this case, the LORD is righteous. They are acknowledging that God is just – and that he has passed just judgment in this case.
III. (:9-12) APPEASEMENT OF GOD’S WRATH BY HUMBLY SUBMITTING TO THE PAINFUL CONSEQUENCES OF SIN
A. (:9) Plundering of Jerusalem’s Treasures
“So Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, and took the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king’s palace. He took everything; he even took the golden shields which Solomon had made.”
Andrew Hill: The report of the “treasures” of the Jerusalem temple and royal palace “carried off” by Shishak suggests the loot is given as tribute to “buy off” Shishak rather than taken as booty through war (12:9–11). It is even possible that an unhealthy fixation on these “treasures” may have been connected to Rehoboam’s unfaithfulness (since Israel’s kings were not to accumulate large amounts of silver and gold, cf. Deut 17:17). Beyond the fact that Judah is a diminished nation politically and economically after Shishak’s invasion, the reference to the confiscation of Solomon’s gold shields, subsequently replaced by bronze replicas, emphasizes the loss of Israel’s splendor (cf. 1 Kings 10:16–17; 2 Chron. 9:15–16).
Peter Wallace: vv. 9-12 — Rehoboam and the Age of Bronze.
The Chronicler has emphasized the wealth and splendor of Solomon’s day – a golden age, where silver was as common as stone. Now, all of that is gone. The service of God was golden. But now Egypt plunders Israel. When Israel came up out of Egypt, they had plundered the Egyptians taking much gold and silver, because after the ten plagues, the Egyptians were willing to pay anything to get rid of the Israelites! Now, several hundred years later, Egypt plunders Israel – taking back (with interest!) what they had given. The basic principle here is that while repentance may deliver you from destruction, it does not necessarily deliver you from the consequences of your sin.
B. (:10-11) Positioning of Replacement Bronze Shields
“Then King Rehoboam made shields of bronze in their place, and committed them to the care of the commanders of the guard who guarded the door of the king’s house. 11 And it happened as often as the king entered the house of the LORD, the guards came and carried them and then brought them back into the guards’ room.”
August Konkel: The gold shields served a ritual function. They were carried by the guard accompanying the king when he moved from the palace to the temple. Royal processionals lost much of their splendor with the bronze shields, but these were safely stored in the huge armory Solomon had built.
J. Barton Payne: They wished to emphasize how far Rehoboam fell in a mere few years. He had inherited an empire; five years later, master of a small state, he could protect his capital itself only by denuding his palace of its treasures. Solomon’s court had despised silver; his son’s court had to be content with bronze!
G. Campbell Morgan: The picture of Rehoboam’s substitution of brass for gold is unutterably pathetic. Yet how often do the people of Jehovah masquerade amid imitations because they have lost the things of pure gold through unfaithfulness and sin.
C. (:12) Petitioning the Mercy of God to Mitigate the Judgment
“And when he humbled himself, the anger of the LORD turned away from him, so as not to destroy him completely; and also conditions were good in Judah.”
Raymond Dillard: The Chronicler reiterates his conclusion that it was by humbling himself before the Lord that Rehoboam escaped (12:7), but he also adds the note that there was “some good” in Judah. The good is left undefined—it may have been the very acts of contrition themselves, the many faithful in the kingdom, the residual benefit of God’s promises to David, or simply the favor shown to his people Israel.
Andrew Hill: The ambiguous phrase “there was some good in Judah” seems to look back to those three years when Rehoboam and Judah imitated the faithfulness of David and Solomon (esp. 11:13–17). . .
The word “humbled himself” (Niphal of knʿ, 12:12) means to forsake one’s pride and yield in self-denying loyalty to God. This action appeases God’s wrath and spares Rehoboam and Judah from total destruction. God delivers on his promise to respond with forgiveness and healing to those who humble themselves before him in prayer (7:14). The message of “humbling oneself” before God and receiving forgiveness and healing remains pertinent for the Chronicler and his audience. This will become the gist of John the Baptist’s preaching (cf. Luke 3:2–9).
IV. (:13-16) SUMMARY ACCOUNT OF REHOBOAM’S REIGN
A. (:13a) Completion of Rehoboam’s Reign
“So King Rehoboam strengthened himself in Jerusalem, and reigned.”
B. (:13b) Age and Duration of Rehoboam’s Reign
“Now Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the LORD had chosen from all the tribes of Israel, to put His name there.”
Martin Selman: The statement that God had chosen Jerusalem (cf. 1 Kgs 14:21), and mention of God’s Name are linked by the temple (cf. 2 Chr. 6:5-6, 34, 38; 7:12, 16; 33:7). They may also provide a backcloth to Rehoboam’s humility, for the temple existed to encourage humble repentance (cf. 2 Chr. 7:14).
C. (:13c) Mother of Rehoboam
“And his mother’s name was Naamah the Ammonitess.”
D. (:14) Moral Characterization of Rehoboam’s Reign
“And he did evil because he did not set his heart to seek the LORD.”
Geoffrey Kirkland: We learn 4 things from v.14:
1. the REVIEW — he did evil…
2. the REASON — because…
3. the ROOT — he did not set his heart…
4. the RESOLVE — to seek the LORD
J.A. Thompson: The evil associated with his reign is explained in the parallel account in 1 Kgs 14:22–24 to be idolatry, but there it is attributed to the whole nation of Judah. The Chronicler focuses only on the sins of Rehoboam. He had not set his heart on seeking the Lord. Despite his early good impression (11:5–23) he finally was judged in unfavorable terms (see 13:5–7).
Frederick Mabie: As anticipated in Solomon’s temple-dedication prayer, God abounds in mercy and forgiveness when his people seek him in humility and contrition. This is a theme stressed over and again by the Chronicler, no doubt for the instruction and encouragement of the postexilic community still reeling from the sting of drastic divine judgment. Although there is some “good” to be found in Judah (cf. 11:2-4, 16-17; 12:5-7), Rehoboam is nonetheless described at the beginning of chapter 12 as abandoning God’s covenantal law (cf. v. 1), and he is summarized at the end of the chapter as doing evil because he did not set his heart on the Lord (v. 14).
Peter Wallace: There is only one thing that God requires of us. You can say it a lot of different ways – but it is really just one thing. Set your heart to seek the LORD. (the idea of “set your heart” has to do with “firmly establishing” your heart; this is the word used to describe how God has firmly established the heavens and the earth). The point here is that this must be your fixed and determined purpose. This is not something that you can “try” for a few weeks to see if it works. It must be your settled conviction – the one thing that drives you in everything else – To seek the LORD.
E. (:15a) Recorded Deeds of Rehoboam’s Reign
“Now the acts of Rehoboam, from first to last, are they not written in the records of Shemaiah the prophet and of Iddo the seer, according to genealogical enrollment?”
F. (:15b) Defining Characteristic of Rehoboam’s Reign
“And there were wars between Rehoboam and Jeroboam continually.”
G. (:16a) Death and Burial of Rehoboam
“And Rehoboam slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David;”
H. (:16b) Succession by Rehoboam’s Son Abijah
“and his son Abijah became king in his place.”