REHOBOAM


REHOBOAM (Heb. רְחַבְעָם; "the [divine] kinsman has been generous" or "the people has expanded"), king of Judah for 17 years (c. 928–911 B.C.E.); son of Solomon by Naamah the Ammonitess (I Kings 14:21; II Chron. 12:13). Rehoboam's name is connected with one of the most important events in the early history of Israel, namely, the division of David's united monarchy into two separate kingdoms (see *Israel; *Jeroboam son of Nebat). On Solomon's death, Rehoboam went to Shechem, "for all Israel had come to Shechem to acclaim him as king" (I Kings 12:1; II Chron. 10:1). The words "all Israel" here evidently refer to only the northern tribes, since Rehoboam seems to have been accepted by Judah as a matter of course (I Kings 11:43; II Chron. 9:31). As a precondition for accepting him as king, the representatives of Israel made the following demand of Rehoboam: "Lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke upon us, and we will serve you" (I Kings 12:4; II Chron. 10:4; see *Solomon). Rehoboam asked the people to wait three days for his reply, and first consulted "the old men, who had served his father Solomon while he was alive" (I Kings 12:6). They advised him to accede to the people's request, thereby ensuring himself their loyalty "for ever" (12:7). But the king rejected the elders' counsel, preferring to be guided by the "young men who had grown up with him" (12:8); who counseled a hard line. He is reported to have used the words: "Whereas my father laid upon you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions" (12:8–14). He also was swayed by the vulgarism of his advisers, who told him to tell the people, "My little one [i.e., my penis] is thicker than my father's loins." The people replied: "What portion have we in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. To your tents, O Israel! Look now to your own house, David" (12:16). The Israelites chose as their king Jeroboam son of Nebat, who had previously returned from Egypt (12:3, 20).

Naturally, Rehoboam did not recognize the legality of the split and provocatively sent *Adoram "who was taskmaster over the *corvee" in order to assert his rule, but the people stoned Adoram to death (I Kings 12:18). Rehoboam was forced to flee to Jerusalem and then to wage a prolonged war against Jeroboam, in a vain effort to reunite Israel with Judah (I Kings 12:21; 15:6; I Chron. 11:1; 12:15). The split in the kingdom and the prolonged fighting between Rehoboam and Jeroboam weakened the Israelites, and at the same time encouraged their neighbors not only to throw off Israelite rule and proclaim their absolute independence (see *Aram, *Ammon, *Moab, *Edom, and *Philistines), but even to attempt to enlarge their own territories at the expense of Israel and Judah. As a defensive measure, Rehoboam ringed his kingdom with a system of forts (II Chron. 11:5–12). On the west he fortified Aijalon, Zorah, Azekah, Soco, Gath, Mareshah, and Lachish; on the south, Lachish, Adoraim, and Ziph; and on the east, Ziph, Hebron, Beth-Zur, Tekoa, Etam, and Beth-Lehem. Possibly Rehoboam refrained from fortifying his border with the kingdom of Israel as an expression of his refusal to accept the split. Although the list of the fortified cities built by Rehoboam appears in the Bible before the account of Pharaoh *Shishak's invasion of Palestine, most scholars are of the opinion that Rehoboam carried out the work of fortification only after the Egyptian campaign. According to the two versions found in the Bible, the campaign took place in the fifth year of Rehoboam's reign (I Kings 14:25; II Chron. 12:2). The Egyptian king advanced into Judah with a large army, took the fortified cities "and came as far as Jerusalem" (II Chron. 12:3–4). Shishak carried off the Temple treasures, including the gold shields, and the treasures of the king's house. From the Egyptian list of places and cities captured by Shishak, it is clear that the campaign was not only directed against Judah but also, and mainly, against the kingdom of Israel (see *Jeroboam son of Nebat). Jerusalem is not mentioned in the list (at least, not in the extant sections of it), from which it may be deduced that Shishak did not conquer the city, but only passed threateningly close to it (cf. 12:7–8). Rehoboam went out to the north of Jerusalem to meet Shishak and paid tribute to him, thereby saving the city from conquest. Shishak's campaign led to the destruction of many of the cities of Judah, particularly those in the Negev, including Ezion-Geber on the coast of the Red Sea. Fortunately for Judah and Israel and the other little states of the region, however, Egypt lacked the unity and strength to maintain a permanent suzerainty over them.

See *Abijah.

[Bustanay Oded]

In the Aggadah

David praised God for having permitted Ammonite and Moabite women in marriage, since this allowed him (a descendant of Ruth, a Moabite woman) and Rehoboam (the son of Naamah, an Ammonite woman) to enter into the assembly of Israel (Yev. 77a). The treasures which the Jews removed from Egypt (Ex. 12:36) were retained, until Shishak, the king of Egypt, took them away from Rehoboam (Pes. 119a). All the curses with which David cursed Joab (II Sam. 3:29) were fulfilled in David's own descendants, Rehoboam being afflicted with a gonorrheal flux (Sanh. 48b). The rabbis, emphasizing the message to be derived from Rehoboam's failure, declared that the king is the servant of the people and not their ruler (Hor. 10a–b).

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Bright, Hist, 209–14; Malamat, in: JNES, 22 (1963), 247–53; Evans, in: JNES, 25 (1966), 273–9; Tadmor, in: Journal of World History, 9 (1968), 12–17. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: C. Evans, in: ABD, 5:661–64; N. Na'aman, in: L. Handy (ed.), The Age of Solomon (1997), 57–61; M. Cogan, I Kings (AB; 2001), 345–56; A. Rainey and R. Notley, The Sacred Bridge (2006), 185–89. IN THE AGGADAH: Ginzberg, Legends, S.V. index.


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.