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2 Chronicles 11


(LXX versing)
Rehobaom Reigns Over Judah and Builds Cities The Beginning of the Reign of Rehoboam Shemaiah's Prophecy
11:1-4 11:1-4 11:1-4 11:1-4 11:1-4
Rehoboam Fortifies the Cities Rehoboam Fortifies the Cities
11:5-12 11:5-12 11:5-12 11:5-12 11:5-12
Priests and Levites Move to Judah Priests and Levites Come to Judah The Priests and Levites Migrate to Judah
11:13 11:13-17 11:13-17 11:13-17 11:13-17
Jeroboam Appoints False Priests
Rehoboam's Family The Family of Rehoboam Rehoboam's Family Rehoboam's Family
11:18-23 11:18-23 11:18-23 11:18-23 11:18-23

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Bible Interpretation Seminar")


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

  1. First paragraph
  2. Second paragraph
  3. Etc.


1Now when Rehoboam had come to Jerusalem, he assembled the house of Judah and Benjamin, 180,000 chosen men who were warriors, to fight against Israel to restore the kingdom to Rehoboam. 2But the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah the man of God, saying, 3"Speak to Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all Israel in Judah and Benjamin, saying, 4'Thus says the Lord, "You shall not go up or fight against your relatives; return every man to his house, for this thing is from Me."'" So they listened to the words of the Lord and returned from going against Jeroboam.

11:1 Rehoboam (see NIDOTTE, vol. 4, pp. 1127-1129) was going to restore his kingdom by military action against the northern tribes.

Having to flee in his chariot must have been a terrible embarrassment (cf. 2 Chr. 10:18).

"180,000" The issue involved in all large numbers in the OT is the semantic range of the word "thousand."

Questioning the numbers is not a matter of not believing the Bible. It is a matter of the original, inspired, ANE author's intent.

  1. use of round numbers
  2. use of symbolic numbers
  3. metaphorical use of large number to communicate importance
  4. possible scribal error; the numbering system was difficult to read; each letter of the alphabet stood for a number, to increase the number by ten, a mark was placed over the letter

For more information, see

  2. Edwin R. Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings
  3. John J. David, Biblical Numerology



11:2 "the word of the Lord" This refers to a prophetic revelation. At this period of Israel's history, the word of a prophet replaced the use of the Urim and Thummim of the High Priest.

"Shemaiah the man of God" This prophet is mentioned in 2 Chr. 12:5-8,15.

For the phrase "man of God" see note at 2 Chr. 8:14.

11:3 "to all Israel in Judah and Benjamin" The word "Israel" can be understood in several ways (see note at 2 Chr. 12:1).

  1. descendants of Jacob (i.e., covenant people)
  2. Judah is the true Israel
  3. northern tribal families living in the southern kingdom

Simeon is not mentioned because this tribe became part of Judah early.

11:4 This verse has one IMPERATIVE and possibly two IMPERFECTS used in a JUSSIVE sense.

  1. you shall not go up ‒ BDB 748, KB 828, Qal IMPERFECT
  2. you shall not fight against ‒ BDB 535, KB 526, Niphal IMPERFECT
  3. return every man to his house ‒ BDB 996, KB 1427, Qal IMPERATIVE

"for this thing is from Me" The prophecy related to the splitting of the kingdom is in 1 Kgs. 11:26-40. It was because of Solomon's idolatry in his old age. This is alluded to in 2 Chr. 10:15. God is in control of history but human choices have consequences (i.e., Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28).

5Rehoboam lived in Jerusalem and built cities for defense in Judah. 6Thus he built Bethlehem, Etam, Tekoa, 7Beth-zur, Soco, Adullam, 8Gath, Mareshah, Ziph, 9Adoraim, Lachish, Azekah, 10Zorah, Aijalon and Hebron, which are fortified cities in Judah and in Benjamin. 11He also strengthened the fortresses and put officers in them and stores of food, oil and wine. 12He put shields and spears in every city and strengthened them greatly. So he held Judah and Benjamin.

11:5-12 Rehoboam was worried about Jeroboam I's ally, Egypt (cf. 2 Chr. 12:9,13). He was preparing for siege warfare.

  1. food, oil, wine, 2 Chr. 11:11
  2. shields, spears, 2 Chr. 11:12

The information in 2 Chr. 11:5-23 is unique to Chronicles. It must be from another written, unnamed source.

11:8 "Gath" Since Gath was one of the five major city-states of the Philistines, it is possible this should be "Moresheth Gath," which was in western Judah and the home of the prophet Micah (cf. Mic. 1:14).

11:13-17 The tribe of Levi (i.e., priests and Levites) supported Judah because of (1) the Davidic seed and (2) the temple. They left the Levitical cities which were located north of Judah. See notes at Joshua 21.

14For the Levites left their pasture lands and their property and came to Judah and Jerusalem, for Jeroboam and his sons had excluded them from serving as priests to the Lord. 15He set up priests of his own for the high places, for the satyrs and for the calves which he had made. 16Those from all the tribes of Israel who set their hearts on seeking the Lord God of Israel followed them to Jerusalem, to sacrifice to the Lord God of their fathers. 17They strengthened the kingdom of Judah and supported Rehoboam the son of Solomon for three years, for they walked in the way of David and Solomon for three years.

11:14 "for Jeroboam and his sons had excluded them from serving as priests" He wanted to start two new temple sites, one at Bethel (just north of Jerusalem) and one in Dan (a city in the far north of Canaan). See the parallel in 1 Kgs. 12:26-33.

11:15 The Chronicler's disgust at Jeroboam's actions can be seen in how he characterizes the worship of the northern tribe.

  1. He set up priests of his own (not from the tribe of Levi as Moses required).
  2. They served at "high places," which were notorious fertility worship sites (cf. 1 Kgs. 12:30).
  3. He asserts the worship was of "satyrs" (BDB 972 III, KB 1341 III).
  4. He asserts the worship of the two golden calves (i.e., symbol of fertility, cf 1 Kgs. 12:28-33; 2 Kgs. 10:29; 17:16; 2 Chr. 13:8).


11:16 Some from the north rejected the idolatry of Jeroboam I and faithfully came to Jerusalem to worship and sacrifice.

The beautiful phrase, "who set their heart on seeking the Lord God of Israel" denotes

  1. the right attitude
  2. the right place
  3. the right priests
  4. the right procedures

See note at 2 Chr. 7:14; and NIDOTTE, vol. 1, p. 723, (vi), (b).

11:17 "for three years" Rehoboam was obedient to God's revelations to David, Solomon, and Moses for this period of time only. This temporary obedience becomes a terrible pattern.

  1. Asa ‒ 2 Chr. 16:7-10
  2. Joash ‒ 2 Chr. 24:1-24
  3. Amaziah ‒ 2 Chr. 25:14-24
  4. Uzziah ‒ 2 Chr. 26:16-21

"they walked in the way of David and Solomon" This means he was obedient to God's revealed will but only for a period of three years.

18Then Rehoboam took as a wife Mahalath the daughter of Jerimoth the son of David and of Abihail the daughter of Eliab the son of Jesse, 19and she bore him sons: Jeush, Shemariah and Zaham. 20After her he took Maacah the daughter of Absalom, and she bore him Abijah, Attai, Ziza and Shelomith. 21Rehoboam loved Maacah the daughter of Absalom more than all his other wives and concubines. For he had taken eighteen wives and sixty concubines and fathered twenty-eight sons and sixty daughters. 22Rehoboam appointed Abijah the son of Maacah as head and leader among his brothers, for he intended to make him king. 23He acted wisely and distributed some of his sons through all the territories of Judah and Benjamin to all the fortified cities, and he gave them food in abundance. And he sought many wives for them.

11:18-23 These verses denote the palace intrigue (i.e., many wives, favorite wife, many from royal line).

  1. Mahalath ‒ David's granddaughter
  2. Abihail ‒ Jesse's granddaughter
  3. Maacah ‒ Absalom's daughter (possibly granddaughter, i.e., Josephus, Antiq. 8.10.1.)

It is never stated where the Chronicler got this information, probably another written source.

11:18 "Jerimoth the son of David" Since this is not one of David's sons mentioned in other texts, he may have been the son of a concubine (Barnes Notes, p. 386).

11:21 "concubines" These were legal, but second level, wives whose children did not inherit. See NIDOTTE, vol. 3, p. 618.

11:22 Rehoboam wanted the first son of his favorite wife to be king. He was not the first or oldest son. Abijah succeeded his father (cf. 1 Chronicles 13).

11:23 This "acted wisely" is connected to Rehoboam spreading out the royal princes into the fortified cities throughout the country. He tried to placate his other sons by giving them

  1. their own city
  2. large amounts of royal food
  3. many wives

"he sought many wives for them" The MT can be understood in two very different ways.

  1. This was one of the ways Rehoboam tried to keep all the royal princes happy (see note above).
  2. It refers to his wives pulling him into idolatry, just as Solomon's foreign wives did to him (i.e., more, young wives for himself).

The phrase "he acted wisely" then must be understood as

  1. supporting #1 above or
  2. sarcasm


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

  1. Do the differences in the large numbers between Samuel/Kings vs. Chronicles affect the trustworthiness of Scripture?
  2. Why is Rehoboam initially presented as faithful to YHWH (i.e., 2 Chr. 11:1-4,17) and blessed by YHWH (i.e., fortified cities and many children) but not mentioned in Kings?
  3. Describe the sins of Jeroboam I mentioned in 2 Chr. 11:14-15.
  4. What is the theological emphasis of 2 Chr. 11:16?

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