v 19. And to this day the northern tribes of Israel have refused to be ruled by a descendant of David.
The Hebrew people were faced with two men vying to become King. It was Rehoboam, one of Solomon’s sons, who had the proper credentials. We find him travelling to Shechem for a public coronation – or so he thought. Meanwhile Jeroboam, one of Solomon’s senior workers, who we read about yesterday, had also turned up after a time of exile in Egypt. A prophet of the time, Ahijah, had foretold Jeroboam’s rule over ten tribes, (1 Kings 11:31) ‘this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I am about to tear the kingdom from the hand of Solomon, and I will give ten of the tribes to you!’
So how are the people to decide on their next king?
A simple – and extremely up-to-date – solution is proposed. The people say in effect, who will offer us the most advantageous tax arrangements. Rehoboam offers an increase in taxes – work harder and give the government more is his proposal, suggested by the young guns who want to enjoy a better lifestyle under Rehoboam. Rehoboam sets out his stall: ‘But Rehoboam spoke harshly to the people, for he rejected the advice of the older counsellors and followed the counsel of his younger advisers. He told the people, “My father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions!”’ (v 13) ‘Pay more taxes’ is hardly a welcome and endearing election manifesto. Hence the people rebelled and looked to Jeroboam for leadership. You can read the protest chant in v 16.
‘“Down with the dynasty of David! We have no interest in the son of Jesse.
Back to your homes, O Israel! Look out for your own house, O David!”
And so the Kingdom is divided; Jeroboam is to rule 10 tribes in the north, while Rehoboam is left only with the tribe of Judah, and the capital city Jerusalem.