Useful Bible Studies > 1 Kings Commentary > chapter 12
Originally, it may have seemed that only the tribe of Judah would remain loyal to Rehoboam. The tribes were the family groups in Israel; Judah, from which Rehoboam’s family came, was the largest of Israel’s 12 tribes. However, when Rehoboam ordered his army to gather for war, men from Benjamin, the smallest tribe, also came.
Rehoboam wanted to fight against the 10 tribes of northern and central Israel. Those tribes had refused to accept his authority; they had appointed Jeroboam to be their king instead of Rehoboam. Rehoboam hoped to regain control over the whole of Israel in the war that he was starting. He intended with this vast army from Judah and Benjamin to make a fierce attack against the rest of Israel. However, although there would be a constant state of war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam (2 Chronicles 12:15), this first attack did not happen.
The reason was the message from God that Shemaiah the prophet (holy man) received. He warned Rehoboam and the people that God had permitted the 10 tribes to form a separate nation (11:29-39). Therefore, God would not support the armies of Judah and Benjamin if they attacked first. Instead, Shemaiah told the soldiers simply to return home. Rehoboam was an evil man (2 Chronicles 12:14) and Judah’s people had not been loyal to God. However, he and his soldiers were humble enough to obey what God’s prophet had told them.
Next part: Jeroboam orders new defences at Shechem and Peniel (1 Kings 12:25)
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