Useful Bible Studies > 1 Kings Commentary > chapter 11

Ahijah tears his coat into 12 pieces

1 Kings 11:30-31

In the Bible, we often read about people who tore their own clothes. They did it because they were deeply sad, often after someone’s death (for example 2 Samuel 1:11). However, although they tore their clothes, they did not tear them apart. Rather, they continued to wear those clothes in that state; after some time, they would mend the clothes.

So, when Ahijah tore his new coat in pieces, that was an extraordinary thing to do. He did it as a prophet, a holy man who had received a message from God about the future. He was expressing the fact that something very terrible would soon happen in Israel.

Israel was a nation of 12 tribes, family groups that each came from the family of one of Jacob’s sons. So, all its people were relatives, but each of the tribes had its own region in Israel. During almost all of the rule of Israel’s first three kings, the nation remained united. However, whenever the tribes separated from each other, there were wars and great troubles in Israel (2 Samuel 2:8 to 3:19 and chapter 20).

In front of Jeroboam, Ahijah tore his coat into 12 pieces. He then told Jeroboam to collect 10 of the pieces. Then Ahijah declared God’s message. God was appointing Jeroboam to be king over 10 of the 12 tribes. That was an extraordinary message. Jeroboam did not come from a family of kings or rulers. He was just a young man to whom Solomon had given authority to direct a very large group of workmen.

Next part: God would give one tribe to Solomon's son to rule (1 Kings 11:32)


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