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Barnes' Notes on the Bible
1And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he gathered of the house of Judah and Benjamin an hundred and fourscore thousand chosen men, which were warriors, to fight against Israel, that he might bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam.
2But the word of the LORD came to Shemaiah the man of God, saying,
3Speak unto Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all Israel in Judah and Benjamin, saying,
4Thus saith the LORD, Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren: return every man to his house: for this thing is done of me. And they obeyed the words of the LORD, and returned from going against Jeroboam.
5And Rehoboam dwelt in Jerusalem, and built cities for defence in Judah.
Rehoboam was between two dangers: on the north he might be attacked by Jeroboam, on the south by Jeroboam's ally, Egypt. From this side was the greater peril, and therefore out of the 15 cities fortified, all but three were on the southern or western frontier, where Egypt would be most likely to attack.
6He built even Bethlehem, and Etam, and Tekoa,
See Joshua 15 and notes at Joshua 15:33-36, notes; Joshua 15:48-51, notes; Joshua 15:58-59, notes.
For Adullam see 1 Samuel 22:1 note. It was in the near neighborhood of Socoh Joshua 15:35; but its site cannot be actually fixed. It was a place of great antiquity Genesis 38:1.
7And Bethzur, and Shoco, and Adullam,
8And Gath, and Mareshah, and Ziph,
For Gath, see Joshua 13:3 note. Its native king, Achish 1 Kings 2:39, is to he regarded, not as an independent monarch, but as one of the many vassal-kings over whom Solomon reigned 2 Chronicles 9:23. For Mareshah, see Joshua 15:44, for Ziph, Joshua 15:55.
9And Adoraim, and Lachish, and Azekah,
The site of Adoraim is uncertain. For Lachish, see Joshua 10:3; Azekah, Joshua 10:10; Zorah, Joshua 15:33; Aijalon, Joshua 10:12; Hebron, Joshua 14:15. No one of the cities was really within the limits of the tribe of Benjamin. The writer uses the phrase "Judah and Benjamin" merely as the common designation of the southern kingdom (compare 2 Chronicles 11:12 and 2 Chronicles 11:23).
10And Zorah, and Aijalon, and Hebron, which are in Judah and in Benjamin fenced cities.
11And he fortified the strong holds, and put captains in them, and store of victual, and of oil and wine.
12And in every several city he put shields and spears, and made them exceeding strong, having Judah and Benjamin on his side.
13And the priests and the Levites that were in all Israel resorted to him out of all their coasts.
14For the Levites left their suburbs and their possession, and came to Judah and Jerusalem: for Jeroboam and his sons had cast them off from executing the priest's office unto the LORD:
Jeroboam probably confiscated the Levitical lands for the benefit of this new priesthood. Under these circumstances the priests and Levites emigrated in large numbers to the southern kingdom; an act which was followed by a general emigration of the more pious Israelites 2 Chronicles 11:16.
15And he ordained him priests for the high places, and for the devils, and for the calves which he had made.
The high places - i. e., the two sanctuaries at Dan and Bethel.
For the devils - literally, "for the goats:" probably the word is used (as in Leviticus 17:7) for objects of idolatrous worship generally.
16And after them out of all the tribes of Israel such as set their hearts to seek the LORD God of Israel came to Jerusalem, to sacrifice unto the LORD God of their fathers.
17So they strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and made Rehoboam the son of Solomon strong, three years: for three years they walked in the way of David and Solomon.
Three years - i. e., during the first three years of Rehoboam's reign. In the fourth year an apostasy took place, which neutralized all the advantages of the immigration (marginal reference). In the fifth the apostasy was punished by the invasion and success of Shishak 2 Chronicles 12:2.
18And Rehoboam took him Mahalath the daughter of Jerimoth the son of David to wife, and Abihail the daughter of Eliab the son of Jesse;
This is probably an extract from the "genealogies" of Iddo 2 Chronicles 12:15.
As Jerimoth is not mentioned among the legitimate sons of David 1 Chronicles 3:1-8; 1 Chronicles 14:4-7, he must have been the child of a concubine.
Abihail was probably the "grand-daughter," not "daughter," of Eliab 1 Samuel 16:6; 1 Samuel 17:13; 1 Chronicles 2:13.
19Which bare him children; Jeush, and Shamariah, and Zaham.
20And after her he took Maachah the daughter of Absalom; which bare him Abijah, and Attai, and Ziza, and Shelomith.
Maachah the daughter of Absalom - Rather, "grand-daughter" (see the 1 Kings 15:2 note).
21And Rehoboam loved Maachah the daughter of Absalom above all his wives and his concubines: (for he took eighteen wives, and threescore concubines; and begat twenty and eight sons, and threescore daughters.)
22And Rehoboam made Abijah the son of Maachah the chief, to be ruler among his brethren: for he thought to make him king.
Jeush was probably the oldest of Rehoboam's sons, and should naturally and according to the provisions of the Law Deuteronomy 21:15-17 have been his heir. But Rehoboam's affection for Maachah led him to transgress the Law.
23And he dealt wisely, and dispersed of all his children throughout all the countries of Judah and Benjamin, unto every fenced city: and he gave them victual in abundance. And he desired many wives.
Rehoboam's wisdom was shown:
(1) In dispersing his other sons instead of allowing them to remain together in Jerusalem, where they might have joined in a plot against Abijah, as Adonijah and his brothers had done against Solomon 1 Kings 1:5-10;
(2) In giving his sons positions which might well content them and prevent them from being jealous of Abijah.
He desired many wives - (Compare 2 Chronicles 11:21). Some prefer to connect the words with the preceding words. If so, they denote another point in which Rehoboam was careful to please his sons.