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Rehoboam raises an array, purposing to reduce the ten tribes; but is prevented by Shemaiah the prophet, 2 Chronicles 11:1-4. He builds several cities of defense, and fortifies others, 2 Chronicles 11:5-12. The priests and Levites being turned out by Jeroboam, come to Rehoboam, 2 Chronicles 11:13, 2 Chronicles 11:14. Jeroboam‘s gross idolatry, 2 Chronicles 11:15. The pious of the land join with Judah, and strengthen the kingdom of Rehoboam, 2 Chronicles 11:16, 2 Chronicles 11:17. His wives, concubines, and numerous issue, 2 Chronicles 11:18-21. He places his own sons for governors in the different provinces, 2 Chronicles 11:22, 2 Chronicles 11:23.
Gathered of the house of Judah - See this account 1 Kings 12:21-24 (note), and the notes there.
And built cities for defense in Judah - He was obliged to strengthen his frontiers against the encroachments of the men of Israel; and Jeroboam did the same thing on his part to prevent the inroads of Judah. See 1 Kings 12:25.
Store of victual - In these places he laid up stores of provisions, not only to enable them to endure a siege; but also that they might be able, from their situation, to supply desolate places.
The Levites left their suburbs - They and the priests were expelled from their offices by Jeroboam, lest they should turn the hearts of the people to the true God, and then they would revolt to Judah, 1 Kings 12:26; and therefore he established a new worship, and made new gods.
And he ordained him priests - for the devils - שעירים (seirim), the hairy ones; probably goats: for as the golden calves, or oxen, were in imitation of the Egyptian ox-god, Apis; so they no doubt paid Divine honors to the goat, which we know was an object of religious veneration in Egypt.
Such as set their hearts to seek the Lord - All the truly pious joined him out of every tribe, and the whole tribe of Levi, being deprived of their functions, joined him also. Thus he had Judah, Benjamin, and Levi, and probably a part of Simeon; for he had Etam, which was in that tribe, and the truly religious out of all the other tribes, for they could not bear Jeroboam‘s idolatry.
For three years they walked in the way of David - During this time he prospered; but for fourteen years after this he and the people were unfaithful to the Lord, except at such intervals as the hand of God‘s judgments was upon them.
Took him Mahalath - By marrying thus in the family of David, he strengthened his right to the Jewish throne.
Maachah the daughter of Absalom - See the note on 1 Kings 15:10. She is called Michaiah, the daughter of Uriel, 2 Chronicles 13:2. For this the Targum gives the following reason: “Abijah reigned three years in Jerusalem; and his mother‘s name was Michaiah, daughter of Uriel of Gibeatha. She is the same as Michah, the daughter of Absalom; but, because she was an upright woman, her name was changed into the more excellent name Michaiah, and her fathers name into that of Uriel of Gibeatha, that the name of Absalom might not be remembered.
Eighteen wives and threescore concubines - Bad enough, but not so abandoned as his father. Of these marriages and concubinage the issue was twenty-eight sons and sixty daughters; eighty-eight children in the whole, to the education of the whole of whom he could pay but little attention. Numerous families are often neglected; and children by different women, must be yet in a worse state.
Made Abijah - the chief - Abijah certainly was not the first-born of Rehoboam; but as he loved Maachah more than any of his wives, so he preferred her son, probably through his mother‘s influence. In Deuteronomy 21:16, this sort of preference is forbidden; but Rehoboam had a sort of precedent in the preference shown by David to Solomon.
He dealt wisely - It was true policy to disperse his own sons through the different provinces who were not likely to form any league with Jeroboam against their father.
He desired many wives - He was much addicted to women; yet we do not find that he formed any heathenish alliances of this nature. And as no particulars are given, we do not know how far he indulged himself in this propensity. He probably strengthened his political connections by these means.