1 Kings 12

A Kingdom Divided


Then Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel came to Shechem to make him king (1 Kings 12:1).

Rehoboam traveled about 30 miles (50 km) north to Shechem on the ridge route passing by Bethel and Shiloh. The important site of Shechem was located not far from the border between the two tribes of Joseph. This photograph provides a broad view of the area to the east. The Israelite tribes had already visited this area when they recited the blessings and the curses and again near the time of Joshua’s death (Josh 8:30-35; 24:1).


When Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard, he was living in Egypt, where he had fled from Solomon (1 Kings 12:2).

The pharaoh to whom Rehoboam fled was Shishak (Sheshonq I; 1 Kgs 11:40), whose capital was at the Delta city of Tanis. Only scattered remains are now visible at Tanis. The city necropolis, however, did produce the only three un-looted royal tombs to have been found in Egypt, those of Psusennes I (c. 1005 BC), Siamun (c. 968 BC), and Sheshonq II (c. 873 BC). The site was also home to a huge temple to the Egyptian god Amun, remains of which are visible in this photo.

Forced Labor

My father laid on you a heavy yoke, but I will add to your yoke (1 Kings 12:14).

First Kings 5:13-16 records that Solomon required forced labor from among the inhabitants of Israel. He sent 30,000 in shifts to Lebanon, and had an additional 70,000 transporters and 80,000 who cut stone. This relief shows men using ropes to haul a large stone statue; some of the workers are engaged in continually supplying rollers to place under the statue to ease its movement. This relief dates to the reign of Sennacherib.


Cattle Idols

So the king took counsel and made two calves of gold (1 Kings 12:28).

Both the Egyptians and the Canaanites worshipped gods in the form of cattle, which was unfortunately a practice adopted by the Israelites at times. This bronze statuette illustrates the veneration of the Apis bull in ancient Egypt. Although this particular example is several centuries later than the time of Jeroboam, it represent an extremely long tradition of worshipping, going back to at least the 1st Dynasty (circa 2600 BC).

Dan's High Place

He set up one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan (1 Kings 12:29).

The most impressive visible remains at the high place at Tel Dan are from the time of Jeroboam II (r. 793–753 BC). These include the foundation of a very large sacrificial altar in an enclosure, a wide set of stairs leading up to a large platform that once held a temple, and a series of auxiliary rooms on the western side. Each of these is preceded by an earlier version that goes back to the time of Jeroboam I (r. 931–910 BC).

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