Jeroboam son of Nebat was still in Egypt where he had run away from Solomon. When he heard about Solomon’s death, he returned to his city, Zeredah, in the hills of Ephraim.*
Rehoboam and all the Israelites went to Shechem to make him the king. The people said to Rehoboam, 4 “Your father forced us to work very hard. Now, make it easier for us. Stop the heavy work that your father forced us to do and we will serve you.”
5 Rehoboam answered, “Come back to me in three days, and I will answer you.” So the people left.
6 There were some older men who had helped Solomon make decisions when he was alive. So King Rehoboam asked these men what he should do. He said, “How do you think I should answer the people?”
7 They answered, “If you are like a servant to them today, they will sincerely serve you. If you speak kindly to them, they will always work for you.”
8 But Rehoboam did not listen to the advice from the older men. He asked the young men who were his friends. 9 Rehoboam asked them, “The people said, ‘Give us easier work than your father gave us.’ How do you think I should answer them? What should I tell them?”
10 Then the young men who grew up with him answered, “Those people came to you and said, ‘Your father forced us to work very hard. Now make our work easier.’ So you should tell them, ‘My little finger is stronger than my father’s whole body. 11 My father forced you to work hard, but I will make you work much harder! My father punished you with whips, but I will punish you with whips that have sharp metal tips.’ ”
12 Three days later, Jeroboam and all the people came back as Rehoboam had said. 13 King Rehoboam did not listen to the advice from the older men, and he was rude to the people. 14 He did what his friends told him to do and said, “My father forced you to work hard, but I will make you work much harder! My father punished you with whips, but I will punish you with whips that have sharp metal tips.” 15 So the king did not do what the people wanted. The LORD caused this to happen. He did this in order to keep the promise he made to Jeroboam son of Nebat when he sent the prophet Ahijah from Shiloh to speak to him.
16 The Israelites saw that the new king refused to listen to them, so they said to him,
“We are not part of David’s family are we?
We don’t get any of Jesse’s land, do we?
So, people of Israel, let’s go home
and let David’s son rule his own people!”
So the Israelites went home. 17 But Rehoboam still ruled over the Israelites who lived in the cities of Judah.
18 A man named Adoniram was one of the men who directed the workers. King Rehoboam sent Adoniram to talk to the people, but the Israelites threw stones at him until he died. King Rehoboam ran to his chariot and escaped to Jerusalem. 19 So Israel rebelled against the family of David, and this is how things are even today.
20 When all the Israelites heard that Jeroboam had come back, they called him to a meeting and made him king over all Israel. The tribe of Judah was the only tribe that continued to follow the family of David.
21 Rehoboam went back to Jerusalem and gathered together an army of 180,000 men from the families of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin. Rehoboam wanted to go fight against the Israelites and take back his kingdom. 22 But God spoke to a prophet named Shemaiah. He said, 23 “Talk to Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to men of Judah and Benjamin. 24 Say to them, ‘The LORD says that you must not go to war against your brothers. Everyone, go home! I made all this happen.’ ” So all the men in Rehoboam’s army obeyed the LORD. They went home, just as the LORD had commanded.
Jeroboam rebuilt the city of Shechem, in the hill country of Ephraim, and lived there. Later he went to the city of Penuel†
and rebuilt it.
Jeroboam said to himself, “If the people keep going to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices at the LORD’S Temple, someday they will want to be ruled by their old masters. They will want to be ruled by King Rehoboam of Judah. And then they will kill me.” 28
So the king asked his advisors what to do. They gave him their advice, and King Jeroboam made two golden calves. He said to the people, “You don’t have to go to Jerusalem to worship anymore. Israel, these are the gods that brought you out of Egypt.”‡ 29
King Jeroboam put one golden calf in Bethel and the other one in the city of Dan.§ 30
What a terrible sin this was, because the Israelites started going to the cities of Dan and Bethel*
to worship the calves.
Jeroboam also built temples at the high places and chose priests from among the different tribes of Israel. (He did not choose priests only from the tribe of Levi.) 32
Then King Jeroboam started a new festival that was like the festival†
in Judah, but it was on the 15th day of the eighth month. At this time the king offered sacrifices on the altar at Bethel. He and the priests he chose offered the sacrifices to the calves that he had set up at the high places he had made. 33
So King Jeroboam chose his own time for a festival for the Israelites, the 15th day of the eighth month. And during that time he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the altar he had built at Bethel.