1 Kings chapters 12-14
Hearing that Israel was making its way to Shechem to make Rehoboam king, Jeroboam returns hurriedly from his place of exile in Egypt with their king Shishak, for Solomon had sought to kill him. Cunningly, Jeroboam poses a plea to Rehoboam, on behalf of Israel, to be treated more leniently. Rehoboam considers his options and discusses it with his confiders. The elders, which had served his father Solomon, recommend that he should agree to be more lenient but the younger, his own peers, convince him otherwise.
And now whereas my father did lade you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke: my father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.
Israel, perturbed by Rehoboam’s response, reject any authority of Davidic rule over them and rebelled, calling upon Jeroboam to be their king (just as Ahijah the prophet had spoken). But the tribe of Judah (and Benjamin), centred on the city of Jerusalem, closed ranks with Rehoboam, who quickly assembled a force of 180,000 to march against Israel. But the Lord said not to go up and fight their brethren and so they desisted.
Meanwhile, concerned that Israel would go up to Jerusalem for sacrifice and thereby be turned against him, Jeroboam was busy building high altars – in Mount Ephraim in Shechem, and also in Penuel – and golden-calf idols in Beth-el and in Dan. And he also self-ordained a feast for the fifteenth day of the eighth month, preventing Israel attending the original feast of that same day in Jerusalem, making indiscriminate men priests to duly sacrifice calves upon the altar.
Jeroboam is rebuked, by a man of God out of Judah, but in a macabre twist, this man of God is inadvertently accursed when an elder prophet of Beth-el convinces him to return with him to sup, not knowing that the man of God had been divinely instructed:
For so was it charged me by the word of the LORD, saying, Eat no bread, nor drink water, nor turn again by the same way that thou camest. …
And when he was gone, a lion met him by the way, and slew him: and his carcase was cast in the way, and the ass stood by it, the lion also stood by the carcase. …
And the prophet took up the carcase of the man of God, and laid it upon the ass, and brought it back: and the old prophet came to the city, to mourn and to bury him. …
And it came to pass, after he had buried him, that he spake to his sons, saying, When I am dead, then bury me in the sepulchre wherein the man of God is buried; lay my bones beside his bones: For the saying which he cried by the word of the LORD against the altar in Bethel, and against all the houses of the high places which are in the cities of Samaria, shall surely come to pass.
But Jeroboam returned not from his evil way and this thing became a curse unto his house, even to cut off and to destroy from the face of the earth. When his son Abijah fell ill, he got his wife to approach Ahijah, in Jerusalem, in disguise. But the prophet was forewarned by God and he sent her packing with the Lord’s judgement and the child dies on the moment of her return to Tirzah.
Jeroboam dies after a 22-year reign, replaced by his son Nadab. Back in Judah, Rehoboam, the son of an Ammonitess (Naamah), who took reign from the age of 41 and held it for 17 years, also partook of idolatry and graven images.
And there were also sodomites in the land: and they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the LORD cast out before the children of Israel. And it came to pass in the fifth year of king Rehoboam, that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem:
The treasures of the temple were stolen, replaced by Rehoboam with brass. Rehoboam dies and he too is buried in the city of David. His son Abijam rules in his stead.