Useful Bible Studies > 1 Kings Commentary > chapter 12

The religion of Jeroboam

1 Kings 12:31-33

Jeroboam had set up idols, images for the purposes of religion, at Bethel and Dan. He now began to persuade the people whom he ruled to follow this new religion.

God had directed Moses that Israel’s priests must come from the tribe (family group) of Levi (Numbers chapter 17). The priests were from the family of Aaron, Moses’ brother; the other members of that tribe had special duties in the work of God (Numbers 3:1-37).

However, Jeroboam permitted people from any of Israel’s tribes to serve as the priests of his new religion (see 2 Chronicles 13:9). These new priests served at his shrines, in other words, at the buildings that he made for his idols.

Similarly, God had directed Moses about the dates of Israel’s sacred holidays (Leviticus chapter 23). One of these, called the Feast of Tabernacles, was at the end of the harvest. It seems that Jeroboam moved the date a month later. That may have been more convenient for the people in northern Israel, where the harvests are later than elsewhere. However, it may have been because the people wanted to drink alcohol at their holiday. It takes time for the sugars in fresh wine to turn into alcohol.

Many people in northern and central Israel would not accept these changes in their religion. So, they left their homes and they went to live in Judah under the rule of Rehoboam, Solomon’s son. Especially, this included the people from the tribe of Levi and the priests from that tribe. They continued to move into Judah for the next 3 years and, during that time, Rehoboam remained loyal to the real God (2 Chronicles 11:13-17).

Next part: A message from God against wrong religion (1 Kings 13:1)


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