Son of Solomon by Naamah the Ammonitess (I Kings xiv. 21), and his successor on the throne in Jerusalem. Solomon's administrative policy had fostered dangerous principles. His ambition for the magnificence and fame of his capital, Jerusalem, had led him to inaugurate a system of levies and taxes that proved burdensome and galling to his subjects. His attempt to form domestic alliances with his numerous neighbors (I Kings xi. 1-4) filled his court with foreign customs and religions, and in later generations produced unfortunate results. Solomon's wisdom and power were not sufficient to prevent the rebellion of several of his border cities. Damascus under Rezon secured its independence of Solomon; and Jeroboam, a superintendent of works, his ambition stirred by the words of the prophet Ahijah (I Kings xi. 29-40), fled to Egypt. Thus before the death of Solomon the apparently unified kingdom of David began to disintegrate. With Damascus independent and a powerful man of Ephraim, the most prominent of the Ten Tribes, awaiting his opportunity, the future of Solomon's kingdom became dubious.Coronation Council.
The assembly for the coronation of Solomon's successor, Rehoboam, was called at Shechem, the one sacredly historic city within the territory of the Ten Tribes. The fact that it met here was a recognition of the prominence of those tribes in the government of Israel. It seems that Jeroboam (I Kingsxii. 2, 3, 20) either was present at the assembly or was in close touch with the leaders. Before the coronation took place the assembly requested certain reforms in the policy followed by Rehoboam's father, Solomon. Rehoboam was forty-one years of age (I Kings xiv. 21), but he was not ready at once to modify a policy that had yielded him and his court associates such large privileges of luxury and ease. The reforms requested would materially reduce the royal exchequer and hence its power to continue the magnificence of Solomon's court. Rehoboam was advised by the old men, who had seen the evils of his father's course, to yield to the people's request; but his own companions, accustomed to the pleasures of the brilliant court of Solomon, advised him rather to increase his revenues.Intervention of the Prophet Shemaiah.
This precipitated a rebellion. The Ten Tribes, never wholly unified with Judah since Saul's reign, and particularly that of his son (II Sam. ii. 8-10), violently withdrew and said, "Now see to thine own house, David" (I Kings xii. 16). Outraged by this action, Rehoboam resolved to enforce his rights and collect his revenues. But the collector, Adoram, was stoned to death, and the proud would-be king was compelled to flee to Jerusalem, where without ceremony he seems to have assumed the crown over Judah and the few peoples who lived adjacent to its boundaries. Israel, the Ten Tribes so called, made Jeroboam its king. Rehoboam's ambition was not yet subdued, and he collected an immense army of 180,000 men to put down the revolt. But before this body of troops could be put in motion, the prophet Shemaiah delivered a message of the Lord, commanding Rehoboam to desist from war, "for this thing is of me" (I Kings xii. 24). The haughty young ruler oboyed. The records (I Kings xiv. 22-24) declare that his people became infatuated with idolatry, and that the strange worships introduced under Solomon's policy took root in the land. Indeed, so thoroughly did the people become imbued with heathen idol-worship that "they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the Lord drove out before the children of Israel" (R. V.).
In the fifth year of Rehoboam's reign Shishak, King of Egypt, went up and pillaged Jerusalem (See Shishak). The most valuable part of the booty was the golden shields Solomon had made for the royal body-guard. Rehoboam replaced these with shields of brass. The feeling of enmity and jealousy between the two kingdoms was bitter all the days of Rehoboam. Nothing is said of any battles fought between them during Rehoboam's life, but the expression "there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam continually" presents the spirit of retaliation animating both kingdoms. The disruption was a fact that carried its results throughout the existence of the kingdoms of Israel, and it became a frequent theme of prophetic discourse. Judah henceforth stood practically alone.
Rehoboam was the son of an Ammonite woman; and when David praised God because it was permissible to marry Ammonites and Moabites, he held the child upon his knees, giving thanks for himself as well as for Rehoboam, since this permission was of advantage to them both (Yeb. 77a). Rehoboam was stricken with a running sore as a punishment for the curse which David had invoked upon Joab (II Sam. iii. 29) when he prayed that Joab's house might forever be afflicted with leprosy and running sores (Sanh. 48b). All the treasures which Israel had brought from Egypt were kept until the Egyptian king Shishak (I Kings xiv. 25, 26) took them from Rehoboam (Pes. 119a).