The political schism
1 Rehoboam went to She chem because all Israel had gathered there to make him king. 2 When Jeroboam, son of Nebat, heard of this in Egypt where he had fled from King Solomon and where he still remained, he returned from Egypt. 3 They called for him, and he came with all the assembly of Israel.
3 The people of Israel went to Rehoboam with this demand, 4 “Your father made our yoke heavy. So now lighten the heavy yoke and the hard labor your father imposed on us and we will serve you.” 5 Reho boam an swered them, “Leave now but come back on the third day.” And so the people went their way.
6 King Rehoboam sought advice from the elderly counselors who served his father Solomon while he was still alive, and he asked them, “How would you advise me to answer this people?” 7 To this they replied, “If you attend to this people today making yourself their servant and speak to them with good words, they will serve you forever.” 8 But Rehoboam disregarded the advice of the old counselors and asked the opinion of the greenhorns who had grown up with him and were in his ser vice. 9 He asked them, “What do you say we should answer this people who tell me: ‘Lighten the yoke which your father imposed on us’?” 10 The greenhorns who had grown up with him answered, “Since these people said to you, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you should now lighten it for us,’ tell them this: ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist. 11 My father laid a heavy yoke on you, but I will make it heavier yet. My father chastised you with whips, but I will fix iron points to the lashes.”
12 On the third day, Jeroboam together with the people went back to Rehoboam just as the king said, for he had said to them, “Come back on the third day.” 13 Ignoring the advice given him by the elderly counselors, 14 the king answered the people harshly in the way the greenhorns had advised him. He said, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will make it even heavier. My father chastised you with whips, but I will fix iron points to the lashes.” 15 The king did not listen to the people. It was, indeed, Yahweh who brought about this fateful event, fulfilling the word he had spoken to Jeroboam, son of Nebat, through Ahijah the Shilonite.
16 All Israel realized that the king refused to listen to them, and they answered the same way, “What have we to do with David? Is the son of Jesse from our tribes? Let the son of David deal with his own and you, people of Israel, go back to your homes!” And so the Israelites left for their homes. 17 Only the Israelites who dwelt in the cities of Judah let Rehoboam reign over them.
18 Rehoboam sent Adoram, task-master of the forced labor, but the Israelites stoned him to death and King Rehoboam had to mount his chariot and flee to Jerusalem. 19 So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to the present time.
20 As Jeroboam had returned and was with them at the assembly, having been called by them, they made him king of Israel. And so, with the exception of the tribe of Judah, no one followed the house of David.
21 When Rehoboam came to Jerusa lem, he called together all the people of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin, numbering a hundred and eighty thousand select warriors, to fight against the people of Israel in a bid to restore the king ship of Rehoboam, son of Solomon. 22 But the word of God was directed to Shemaiah, the man of God, 23 “Give Rehoboam, son of Solomon, king of Judah, and all the people of Judah and Benjamin, and the rest of the people, this mes sage from Yahweh: 24 You shall not go up to fight against your kinsmen, the Israelites. Let everyone return to his home for I am the author of this.” When they heard this word they went back home according to what Yahweh had ordered.
25 Jeroboam fortified Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim and lived there. Then, he set out to fortify Penuel.
The religious division
26 Jeroboam thought, “The kingdom could return to the house of David. 27 Should this people go up to offer sacrifices in Yahweh’s House in Jerusa lem, their heart would turn again to their mas ter, Rehoboam king of Judah. They would kill me and go back to him.”
28 And so the king sought advice and made two golden calves. Then he said to the people, “You have been going up to Jerusalem long enough. Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.” 29 He put one of these in Bethel, the other in Dan. 30 And so Jeroboam made the people sin; the people went as far as Dan to accompany one of them.
31 Jeroboam also built temples on high places, appointing priests who were not from the Levites. 32 Jero boam also appointed a feast on the fifteenth day of the eighth month in imitation of the feast in Judah, and he himself offered sacrifices on the altar. This he did in Bethel and sacrificed to the calves that he had made; there he placed priests for the high places he had made. 33 On the fifteenth day of the eighth month, the month which he had arbitrarily chosen, he ordained a feast for the Israelites and went up to the altar to burn incense.