Ahijah’s Second Prophecy to Jeroboam
When Jeroboam’s son became ill, he sought out Ahijah, the prophet of God who had foretold Jeroboam’s rise to power. This shows that Jeroboam still knew which religious system was true even as he continued to maintain a false one. By an intended ruse Jeroboam sought to discover what would become of the child. But Ahijah was told by God what was happening and what he should say. Ahijah made it plain that Jeroboam had behaved wickedly and foolishly, and that not only would the child die but also the whole household of Jeroboam would be destroyed and, ultimately, the whole nation of Israel would be cast out of the land—demonstrating, as so many other examples do, that the consequences of sin are often far-reaching.
Rehoboam Fortifies His Kingdom
When Rehoboam returned to Jerusalem he did so as a petty monarch of a much smaller and largely powerless kingdom. He was immediately aware of his vulnerability. There was an unfriendly Israel on the north, a powerful former ally to the south (Egypt) who was now closely allied to Israel’s king, a number of hostile former vassal states to the south and east, and the resurgent Philistines on the west. And Rehoboam no longer had a worldwide trading empire. The future looked rather bleak.
Immediately he began to fortify his kingdom. He established a line of fortified towns along borders, securing water supplies and travel routes. The kingdom of Judah was basically transformed into a small fortress, though its king no doubt still trembled at the thought of attack. Had Egypt attacked, Judah could have been easily defeated. Had Israel attacked, the ferocious fight would have likely ended in Rehoboam’s defeat. Had the Philistines, Moabites, Ammonites or Edomites attacked, there could have been years of instability and constant dangers.
Rehoboam did have the foresight to deal wisely with his sons. Like his father Solomon before him, Rehoboam had acquired many wives and concubines. Whatever enjoyment he may have found in this situation was short-lived, though, when a crop of 28 sons matured. With such a large pool of potential heirs, nominating one was sure to antagonize the rest. To reduce the potential for intrigue and infighting, some of his sons were appointed to positions of authority in the fortified cities, while others remained in Jerusalem. In this way, Rehoboam could put some of the danger farther from the capital while keeping a close eye on those who remained nearby. To further control his sons, he sought many wives for them, thereby keeping them occupied with domestic concerns, distracted by sexual pursuits and enamored with the life of a mini-sheik (many wives being a sign of prosperity and social standing). When one stops to consider what Rehoboam was forced to do in trying to control the consequences of his own unrestrained desires, it is really quite sad.