AskDefine | Define Rehoboam

Extensive Definition

Rehoboam (Hebrew:רחבעם Rehav'am) was a king of the ancient Kingdom of Judah, succeeding his father Solomon. His grandfather was David. He was the third king of the House of David and the first of the Kingdom of Judah. His mother was Naamah "the Ammonitess." His name means he who enlarges the people.

Early reign

Rehoboam's reign has been dated to 922 BC-915 BC by William F. Albright and 931 BC-913 BC by E. R. Thiele.
He was forty-one years old when he ascended the throne, and he reigned seventeen years. Under his father, Solomon, the people were taxed heavily to pay for all the building projects undertaken during that reign. Solomon's act of building a place over the Millo, formerly an open area providing convenient access to the Temple for those coming from the north, may have been perceived as apathy for the tribes of the north. Therefore, there was great unease immediately after the death of Solomon-- people were afraid that he would pursue a high-taxation, (supposedly) pro-southern policy like his father. Solomon had also accumulated several prominent enemies during his later reign, notably Hadad, the Egyptian-backed heir to the Edomite throne; Rezon, the son of an Aramean army captain, now the de facto ruler of Damascus; and Jeroboam, a rising young Ephraimite who, encouraged by the prophet Ahijah, was increasingly outspoken against Solomonic policy.
The nation demanded that the coronation ceremony be held at Shechem, a decidedly pro-northern stronghold, to crown Rehoboam. The weak Rehoboam complied, and the people immediately demanded relief from heavy tax burdens. Rehoboam asked and was granted three days to receive counsel before announcing his decision to the masses. The elder counselors formerly of Solomon's kingship advised that he lower taxes to gain favor among the people, while the younger counselors, cronies of the new king, exhorted that he raise taxes to express his authority. Rehoboam sided with the young counselors and said to the people, "my father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions."
The northerners retracted their recognition of the legitimacy of the rule of the House of David and declared independence. Jeroboam was appointed as king over them, and their breakaway state became known as the Kingdom of Israel.


Rehoboam did not take the northerners seriously, and he dispatched Adoram (possibly identical with the Adoniram of Solomon's reign), the chief tax collector, to collect taxes from the north. Adoram was stoned, and Rehoboam, who had apparently followed him throughout his journey, had to flee in haste to Jerusalem.
Rehoboam returned to Jerusalem and organized a sizeable army to suppress what he still saw as a rebellion against the crown. Its size is given as 180,000 men by I Kings and by II Chronicles. Shemaiah the prophet proclaimed that it was God's will that the United Monarchy be divided, and Rehoboam immediately abandoned his plans. Nevertheless, Rehoboam skirmished against the forces of Jeroboam I throughout the remainder of his reign. A vast majority of the Levites left the Kingdom of Israel for the Kingdom of Judah because they were being recruited as pagan priests by Jeroboam I.
In the fifth year of Rehoboam's reign, Pharaoh Shishak and his allies, including the Ethiopians, invaded. The entire Kingdom of Judah (as opposed to the Kingdom of Israel, made up of all except tribes Judah and Benjamin, in the north) was looted, even the Temple and the royal palace, and the decorative gold shields made by Solomon were taken. Rehoboam replaced them with bronze ones. A remarkable memorial of this invasion has been discovered at Karnak, in Upper Egypt, in certain sculptures on the walls of a small temple there. These sculptures represent the king, Shishak, holding in his hand a train of prisoners and other figures, with the names of the captured towns of Judah, the towns which Rehoboam had fortified.
Rehoboam fortified the heart of the kingdom, and thus most of the approaches to Jerusalem were flanked by major fortresses. However, the ascents from the Judean Desert in the east and from the Kingdom of Israel in the north were not covered by the defensive works. The Judean Desert was a ground to which enemies were to be lured and ambushed, and the Judah-Israel border was not guarded because Rehoboam did not recognize the Kingdom of Israel as an independenent state.


Rehoboam's eighteen wives and sixty cocubines bore him eighty-eight children, but he had the insight to prevent court power struggles by appointing his numerous children to important posts across the country, predominantly away from the capital. He died and was buried beside his ancestors in Jerusalem. He was succeeded by his son Abijah.


  • I Kings 11-12
  • II Chronicles 10-12
  • Battles of the Bible, 1978
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Rehoboam in Hebrew: רחבעם
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Rehoboam in Yiddish: רחבעם
Rehoboam in Chinese: 羅波安
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