The Empires of the Bible from the Confusion of Tongues to the Babylonian Captivity



WHEN Rehoboam was compelled to acknowledge the permanent division of the kingdom, he set himself to fortifying and strengthening his own dominion of Judah and Benjamin. He built fifteen fortresses: “Beth-lehem, and Etam, and Tekoa, and Beth-zur, and Shoco, and Adullam, and Gath, and Mareshah, and Ziph, and Adoraim, and Lachish, and Azekah, and Zorah, and Aijalon, and Hebron, which are in Judah and in Benjamin fenced cities. And he fortified the strongholds, and put captains in them, and store of victual, and of oil and wine. And in every several city he put shields and spears, and made them exceeding strong, having Judah and Benjamin on his side.” 1 EB 200.1

2. Jeroboam’s apostasy now worked consequences of another kind. Not only was he obliged by it to take priests and ministers from the worst of the people, but when he had done this, the best elements of his kingdom, those who sincerely honored God, left his dominion and went over to that of Rehoboam. For to Rehoboam the priests and the Levites that were in all Israel resorted out of all their coasts. “For the Levites left their suburbs and their possession, and came to Judah and Jerusalem.... And after them out of all the tribes of Israel such as set their hearts to seek the Lord God of Israel came to Jerusalem, to sacrifice unto the Lord God of their fathers. So they strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and made Rehoboam the son of Solomon strong, three years: for three years they walked in the way of David and Solomon.” 2 EB 200.2

3. But in his fourth year Rehoboam apostatized and followed the way of Solomon in his latter days. “And Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord, and they provoked Him to jealousy with their sins which they had committed, above all that their fathers had done. For they also built them high places, and images, and groves [Asherim], on every high hill, and under every green tree. 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.” 3 EB 200.3

4. Shishak, king of Egypt, in the fifth year of the reign of Rehoboam, invaded Judah with a force of “twelve hundred chariots, and threescore thousand horsemen: and the people were without number that came with him out of Egypt; the Lubims, the Sukkiims, and the Ethiopians. And he took the fenced cities which pertained to Judah, and came to Jerusalem. Then came Shemaiah the prophet to Rehoboam, and to the princes of Judah, that were gathered together to Jerusalem because of Shishak, and said unto them, Thus saith the Lord, Ye have forsaken me, and therefore have I also left you in the hand of Shishak. Whereupon the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves; and they said, The Lord is righteous. EB 201.1

5. “And when the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah, saying, They have humbled themselves; therefore I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance; and my wrath shall not be poured out upon Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak. Nevertheless they shall be his servants; that they may know my service, and the service of the kingdoms of the countries. So Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, and took away the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king’s house; he took all: he carried away also the shields of gold which Solomon had made.” 4 EB 201.2

6. Shishak inscribed upon “a great bas-relief at Karnak” “the names of one hundred and thirty-three cities of the kingdom of Judah taken by the Egyptian army. The greater part of the names are mentioned in Scripture.... The capital is not mentioned on the monument by its ordinary name Jerusalem, but it is recognized under the title Jehudah Malek—‘Royalty of Judah.’”—Lenormant. 5 EB 201.3

7. Rehoboam reigned seventeen years, 975-958, and was succeeded by his son. EB 202.1

8. Abijah reigned three years, 958-955 B. C. And there was war between Abijah and Jeroboam, and Israel was defeated with great loss. “And Abijah pursued after Jeroboam, and took cities from him, Beth-el with the towns thereof, and Jeshanah with the towns thereof, and Ephraim with the towns thereof. Neither did Jeroboam recover strength again in the days of Abijah.” 6 EB 202.2

9. Asa was the son of Abijah and reigned nearly forty-one years, 955-914 B. C. He brought back the kingdom from the idolatry that Rehoboam had established, to the worship of the Lord. The first ten years of his reign were entirely years of peace, in which he strengthened his kingdom by building fortresses and towers. He organized an army of five hundred and eighty thousand men, and “all these were mighty men of valor.” Then Zerah, the Ethiopian, with an army of a million men and three hundred chariots, invaded Judah. Asa met him at Mareshah, in the valley of Zephathah: “And Asa cried unto the Lord his God, and said, Lord, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O Lord our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O Lord, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee. So the Lord smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah and the Ethiopians fled. And Asa and the people that were with him pursued them unto Gerar: and the Ethiopians were overthrown, that they could not recover themselves; for they were destroyed before the Lord, and before His host.” 7 EB 202.3

10. Asa next carried to completion the reformation from the apostasy of Rehoboam. He succeeded in turning back to the worship of the Lord even Beth-el and the other cities which Abijah had taken from Jeroboam. And when it was seen how God was with him, “they fell to him out of Israel in abundance.” 8 This accession to him from the people of Israel, was helped also by the course of things in the kingdom of Israel itself. EB 202.4