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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

1 Kings 14

 

 

Verse 1

1 Kings 14:1. At that time — Presently after the things related in the foregoing chapter, which, though apparently connected with the beginning of his reign, yet might possibly be done a good while after it, and so Ahijah the prophet be very old, as he is described to be, 1 Kings 14:4. It is probable this Abijah was Jeroboam’s eldest son.


Verse 2

1 Kings 14:2. Jeroboam said to his wife, Arise, &c. — “He most probably sent his wife to consult the prophet at Shiloh, because this was a secret not to be intrusted with any body else; a secret which, had it been divulged, might have endangered his whole government; because, if once his subjects came to understand that he himself had no confidence in the calves which he had set up, but in any matter of importance had recourse to true worshippers of God, it can hardly be conceived what an inducement this would have been for them to forsake these senseless idols, and to return to the worship of the God of Israel, whom they had imprudently forsaken. The queen then was the only person in whom he could have confidence. As a mother he knew she would be diligent in her inquiry; and as a wife faithful in her report.” — Dodd. Disguise thyself — Change thy habit and voice, and go like a private and obscure person. This caution proceeded, first, from the pride of his heart, which made him unwilling to confess his folly in worshipping such helpless idols, and to give glory to the God whom he had forsaken: secondly, from jealousy and suspicion, lest the Prophet Ahijah, (who he knew was greatly offended at him for the idolatry he had introduced,) if he knew her to be his wife, should either give her no answer, or make things worse than indeed they were.


Verse 3

1 Kings 14:3. Take with thee ten loaves, &c. — It was usual for those that went to inquire of a prophet to make him some present as a token of their respect for him, 1 Samuel 9:7. The present which she was here directed to take, was of such things as suited the disguise in which she was to go, and were calculated to make Ahijah think her a country woman rather than a queen. And go to him — To inquire the event of this sickness, as the following words imply. It would have been more pious to have inquired why God contended with him; to have desired the prophet to pray for him, and to have cast away his idols; then the child might have been restored to him, as his hand was: “but most people,” says Henry, “would rather be told their fortune, than told their faults, or their duty.”


Verse 4

1 Kings 14:4. But Ahijah could not see — He not only lived obscure and neglected in Shiloh, but was blind through age: yet he was still blessed with the visions of the Almighty; which require not bodily eyes; but are rather favoured by the want of them, the eyes of the mind being then most intent and least diverted. His eyes were set, &c. — Hebrew, קמו משׁיבו, kamu misheibo, stood for his hoariness — No longer performed their office, by reason of his great age. Perhaps the fibres and muscles by which the eyes and eye-lids are moved, were contracted and withered, the optic nerves become effete, or film or cataract was grown over his eyes.


Verse 6

1 Kings 14:6. Come in, thou wife of Jeroboam — He called her aloud by her name before she entered the house, doubtless to her great surprise, and thus not only showed that he knew her, notwithstanding the disguise in which she had come, but discovered to all about him who she was. By which discovery he both reproved their folly, who thought to conceal themselves from God, and withal gave her assurance of the truth and certainty of that message which he was to deliver, that she might give the greater credit to his words.


Verse 8

1 Kings 14:8. Thou hast not been as my servant David — Who, though he fell into some sins, yet, 1st, He constantly persevered in the true worship of God; from which thou art revolted; 2d, He heartily repented of, and turned from all his sins, whereas thou art obstinate and incorrigible.


Verse 9

1 Kings 14:9. But hast done evil above all that were before thee — Above all the judges and former kings of my people, none of whom set up images, and persuaded the people to worship them. For thou hast made thee other gods, and molten images — Namely, the golden calves: not as if they thought them to be other gods in a proper sense, but only representations of the true God; for it is apparent they still pretended to worship the God of their fathers; but because God rejected their whole worship, and, howsoever they accounted it, he reckoned it a manifest defection from him, and a betaking themselves to other gods, or devils, as they are called 2 Chronicles 11:15, whom alone they served and worshipped therein, whatsoever pretences they had to the contrary. To provoke — Whereby thou didst provoke me. For otherwise this was not Jeroboam’s design in it, but only to establish himself in the throne. And hast cast me behind thy back — Despised and forsaken me, and my commands, and my worship, as we do things which we cast behind our backs.


Verse 10-11

1 Kings 14:10-11. Will cut off him that is shut up — Those who had escaped the fury of their enemies invading them, either because they were shut up in caves, or castles, or strong towns: or, because they were left, overlooked, or neglected by them, or spared as poor, impotent, helpless creatures. But now, saith he, they shall be all searched out, and brought to destruction. As a man taketh away dung — Which they remove as a loathsome thing, out of their houses, and that thoroughly and universally. Shall the fowls of the air eat — So both sorts shall die and lie on the ground unburied.


Verse 12

1 Kings 14:12. When thy feet enter into the city — Or, rather, when thy feet have entered: that is, presently upon thy entrance into the city; when thou art gone but a little way in it, even as far as the threshold of the king’s door, (1 Kings 14:17,) the child shall die — And by this judge of the truth of the rest of my prophecy.


Verse 13

1 Kings 14:13. All Israel shall mourn for him — For the loss of so worthy and hopeful a person, and for the sad calamities which will follow his death, which possibly his moderation, and wisdom, and virtue, might have prevented. So they should mourn, not simply for him, but for their own loss in him. He only shall come to the grave — Shall have the honour of burial. In him is found some good — Pious intentions of taking away the calves, and of permitting or obliging his people to go up to Jerusalem to worship, if God gave him life and authority to do it, and of trusting God with his kingdom. In the house of Jeroboam — Which is added for his greater commendation; he was good in the midst of so many temptations and wicked examples; a good branch of a bad stock.


Verse 14

1 Kings 14:14. The Lord shall raise him up a king — This king was Baasha, 1 Kings 15:27. Who shall cut off the house of Jeroboam that day — When he is so raised up, in the very beginning of his reign. But what? — Do I say he shall raise, as if it were a thing to be done at a great distance of time? The man is now in being, if not in power, who shall do this: this judgment shall be shortly executed. Sometimes God makes quick work with sinners. He did so with the house of Jeroboam. It was not twenty-four years from his first elevation to the final extirpation of his family.


Verse 15-16

1 Kings 14:15-16. For the Lord shall smite Israel — For consenting to that idolatrous worship which Jeroboam set up. As a reed is shaken in the water — Hither and thither, with every wind. So shall the kingdom and people of Israel be always in an unquiet and unsettled state, tossed to and fro by foreign invasions and civil wars; by opposite kings and factions, and by the dissensions of the people. The emblem expresses very forcibly the ease with which God could punish the Israelites and overturn their state, notwithstanding all their greatness, even as easily as a reed is shaken with the wind. He shall root up Israel out of this good land — Which God began to do first by Tiglath-Pileser, king of Assyria, 2 Kings 15:29; and then finished it by Shalmaneser, 2 Kings 17:5-6, &c. And shall scatter them beyond the river — That is, Euphrates, so called by way of eminence, they being carried, as the forenamed places tell us, into the country of the Medes. Because they have made their groves — For the worship of their idols. God having before condemned the making and worshipping of the calves, by which they pretended to worship the true God; he now takes notice that they were not contented with the calves, but (as it is in the nature of idolatry, and all sin, to proceed from evil to worse) were many of them fallen into a worse kind of idolatry, even their worship of the heathenish Baals, which they commonly exercised in groves. Who made Israel to sin — By his invention, and making the occasion of their sin, the calves; by his example, encouraging those and only those that worshipped the calves; and by his authority requiring and compelling them to do it. This is mentioned as a monstrous aggravation of his wickedness, that he was not content to sin himself, but was a great author of drawing others into sin, and of corrupting and undoing the whole kingdom; which therefore God would never forgive him, but upon all occasions mentions him with this eternal brand of infamy upon him.


Verse 17

1 Kings 14:17. And come to Tirzah — An ancient and royal city, in a pleasant place, where the kings of Israel had a palace, whither Jeroboam was now removed from Shechem, either for his pleasure, or for his son’s recovery, by the healthfulness of the place. When she came to the threshold — Of the king’s house, which probably was upon or by the wall of the city, and near the gate.


Verse 18

1 Kings 14:18. All Israel mourned for him — And justly: not only for the loss of a hopeful prince, but because his death plucked up the flood-gates at which an inundation of judgments broke in. According to the word of the Lord by Ahijah — Thus by accomplishing the predictions of his prophet concerning the death and burial of the child, and the lamentation which the people made for him, God confirmed all the rest of his threatenings against the house of Jeroboam and the people of Israel.


Verse 19

1 Kings 14:19. Behold, they are written in the book of the Chronicles — Not that canonical book of Chronicles, for that was written long after this book; but a book of civil records, the annals, wherein all remarkable passages were recorded by the king’s command from day to day; out of which the sacred penman, by the direction of God’s spirit, took those passages which were most useful for God’s honour, and men’s edification.


Verse 20

1 Kings 14:20. Jeroboam reigned two and twenty years — So he lived till the second year of Asa, chap. 15. He slept with his fathers — He died as his fathers did, or perhaps the expression also implies, that he was buried with his ancestors. Their sepulchre, however, may appear too mean for a great king. It is probable that he died soon after his son: and we read, (2 Chronicles 13:20,) The Lord struck him; probably with some sudden and sore disease, which soon cut him off. He left his crown to Nadab his son, who lost it, and his life too, and the lives of all his family, within ten years after. The triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment, Job 20:5.


Verse 21

1 Kings 14:21. Rehoboam was forty and one years old when he began to reign Although many learned men are of opinion that there is an error in the text here in regard to the age of Rehoboam when he began to reign, and some think the reading should be twenty-one, while Houbigant, following the Seventy, reads sixteen years; yet as they do not seem to give sufficient reasons for the alteration, it is certainly safest to abide by the Hebrew text. According to this, he was born in the last year of David’s life, and certainly had his education, and the forming of his mind, in the best days of Solomon; and yet, with all the advantages he enjoyed, he was a weak and inconsiderate prince, who, instead of being a blessing, proved a curse to his kingdom. Probably Solomon’s defection, in the latter part of his life, did more to corrupt him than his prior wisdom and devotion had done to render him wise and virtuous. He reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city, &c. — Where he had opportunities in abundance to know his duty, had he but had a heart to practice it. His mother was Naamah an Ammonitess — She was probably the daughter of Shobi, the Ammonite, who was so kind to David in Absalom’s rebellion. And as there is reason to think Shobi had become a proselyte to the true religion, it is likely that gratitude, for his kindness moved David to take his daughter, though an Ammonitess, to be the wife of his son Solomon. It is very doubtful, however, whether ever she cordially embraced the religion of the Israelites, and as Solomon worshipped the gods of the Ammonites, among his other idols, it is not improbable that she was concerned in seducing him. None can imagine how lasting and how fatal the consequences may be, of being unequally yoked with an unbeliever.


Verse 22-23

1 Kings 14:22-23. Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord — In contempt and in defiance of him, and the tokens of his special presence. They provoked him to jealousy — By joining other gods together with him, as the adulterous wife provokes her husband by breaking the marriage covenant. They also built them high places — Followed the example of the Israelites, although they were better instructed, had the temple in their kingdom, and liberty of access to it, and the privilege of worshipping God in his own way; together with the counsels, sermons, and examples, of the priests and Levites, and the dreadful example of Israel’s horrid apostacy, to caution and terrify them. High places — Which were unlawful, and now especially when the temple was built, and ready to receive them, and unnecessary, and therefore in building them they expressed a greater contempt of God and his express command. Groves — Not only after the manner of the heathen and Israelites, but against a direct and particular prohibition. Under every green tree — The people were universally corrupted, which is prodigious, all things considered, and is a clear evidence of the greatness and depth of the original corruption of man’s nature.


Verse 24

1 Kings 14:24. There were also sodomites in the land — The kind of wickedness here referred to often attended idolatry, 1 Kings 15:12; 2 Kings 23:7; for among the heathen the most filthy things were practised in these shady, dark places, their groves: and such wickedness, it appears from the passages now quoted, existed at this time among the Israelites, who, out of devotion to some false god or other, prostituted their bodies, contrary to nature, to be abused in honour of those gods, in direct opposition to the law, Deuteronomy 23:17. They did according to all the abominations of the nations, &c. — They dishonoured God by the sin of idolatry, and therefore God left them to dishonour their own bodies in this abominable manner.


Verse 25

1 Kings 14:25. In the fifth year of King Rehoboam — Presently after his and his people’s apostacy, which was not till his fourth year; while apostate Israel enjoyed peace, and some kind of prosperity; of which difference two reasons may be given: first, Judah’s sins were committed against clearer light, and more powerful means and remedies of all sorts, and therefore deserved more severe and speedy judgments. Secondly, God discovered more love to Judah in chastising them speedily, that they might be humbled, reformed, and preserved, as it happened; and more anger against Israel, whom he spared to that total destruction which he intended to bring upon them. Shishak — He is thought to be Solomon’s brother-in-law; but how little such relations signify among princes, when their interest is concerned, all histories witness: besides, Rehoboam was not Solomon’s son by Pharaoh’s daughter, and so the relation was in a manner extinct. Came up — Either from a desire to enlarge his empire; or by Jeroboam’s instigation; or from a covetous desire of possessing those great treasures which David and Solomon had left; and, above all, by God’s providence disposing his heart to this expedition, for Rehoboam’s punishment.


Verse 26

1 Kings 14:26. And he took, &c. — Rehoboam, according to Josephus, delivered up the city to him without striking a stroke; which may seem strange, considering the great strength of it, and how much time it took Nebuchadnezzar and Titus to become masters of it. But it is probable that David and Solomon, in their building and altering the city, had more respect to state and magnificence than to its defence, as having no great cause to fear the invasion of any enemies: and it is certain that after the division between Judah and Israel, the kings of Judah added very much to the fortifications of it. Add to this, that this Shishak had a vast army, as we read 2 Chronicles 12:2, and so powerful, that as Herodotus, who calls him Sesostris, tells us, with it he conquered Asia. He took away the treasures of the Lord’s house — Within twenty-five years after it was finished, he plundered it, as also the king’s house, of all the wealth which they contained, and which had been amassed by David and Solomon. This, it is probable, had tempted Shishak to make this descent, and this Rehoboam lamely resigned to him, to prevent still worse consequences. Who that had seen the glory, the riches, the magnificence, the power of Solomon, would not have concluded, as the queen of Sheba seems to have done, that a long and lasting state of security and happiness was entailed on this people? But the Holy Scriptures inform us, that at the very time when every one was admiring and extolling Solomon’s glory and happiness, it was denounced unto him by the Lord himself, that if either he or his children should turn aside from following the Lord, and go after other gods, they should certainly and soon fall from their glory, and be a proverb and by-word among all people, 1 Kings 11:6, &c.; and that even that house, which was viewed by all the nations around as a prodigy of magnificence and strength, should be so reduced and brought to desolation, that every one that passed by should be astonished and hiss at it. Human foresight, doubtless, then perceived no likelihood of any such change taking place; but the event soon showed that its security and continuance depended on something more than human means.


Verse 27

1 Kings 14:27. Rehoboam made in their stead brazen shields — This was an emblem of the diminution of his glory. Sin makes the gold become dim: it changes the most fine gold, and turns it into brass. And committed them into the hands of the chief of the guard — Hebrew, שׂרי הרצים, saree haratsim, the rulers, or chiefs, of the runners, so called, because they ran, some before and others behind the king, and were what we now call a body-guard.


Verse 28

1 Kings 14:28. When the king went to the house of the Lord — It appears from this, that he had not quite forsaken the worship or God; but still, at least occasionally, attended at the temple: or, if he had forsaken it, the chastisement he had received by the instrumentality of the king of Egypt had done him some good, and brought him back to that worship.


Verse 29-30

1 Kings 14:29-30. Are they not written, &c. — A register was kept of the acts of the kings of Judah, as well as of those of the kings of Israel. And there was war, &c. — But how does this agree with 1 Kings 12:23, &c., where God forbids Rehoboam and his people to go up and fight against their brethren? We must observe, that though the Jews were forbidden to make war upon the Israelites, they were not forbidden to defend themselves, in case the Israelites should make war on them. “And considering that they were now become two rival nations, they might, upon the borders, be continually endeavouring to gain ground upon each other, and so run into frequent acts of hostility, without ever once engaging in a pitched battle.” — Dodd.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Kings 14:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/1-kings-14.html. 1857.

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