Saturday, November 7, 2015

Ancient politics in Israel: Rehoboam, Son of Solomon and War

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                  
Pharaoh at the time of Solomon's son, King Rehoboam, 933 BCE

King Solomon, son of King David, was a king of peace and reigned for 40 years. The main way he kept peace was by marrying the daughters of heads of state of surrounding nations.  It is said he had 1,000 wives and concubines.  He ruled over all the kings from the Euphrates River to the land of the Philistines, up to the border of Egypt. The land was made up of about 9,400 square miles.  Texas, one of the 50 USA states, is made of 268,820 square miles for comparison to what is considered "large."  That's why George Bush said that Israel today could fit onto his ranch.   Solomon  had horses exported to him from Egypt and other lands.   He didn't have to defend his empire as his father had.  As he aged, he expected more out of his people for his grandiose projects.

However,  his son Rehoboam by his wife, Naamah, an Ammonite, (people who worshiped fertility gods, mainly Milkom,  from Transjordan, Semitic, related to Israelites) was met with war early on in his reign. He wasn't able to defend his property.

Solomon (961-920 BCE) took the reins of kingship before King David (1010-970 BCE) , his father had died.
Rehoboam didn't keep Israel united, wound up with the southern half of Israel
  Rehoboam (933 -917 BCE) must have done the same thing.   When Solomon died, the kingdom of Israel split apart and Rehoboam became king of the southern half, named Judah since the tribe of Judah lived there.  At the age of 41, he reigned for 17 years in Jerusalem. He was made king in Shechem (today's Nablus under Muslim control).   He had refused to accede to a popular demand for relief from taxation because he listened to his peers that he grew up with instead of his father's advisors.  .  The kingdom had split in two shortly after his acceptance of the kingship because of that refusal. The southern half, Judah, was comprised of about only 3,400 square miles.   Three out of the 12 tribes had remained loyal to him;  Judah, Simeon and most of Benjamin.  They kept Jerusalem as their capital.  The rest of Israel, the northern part, was taken over and ruled by Jeroboam (933-912 BCE).
Jeroboam was from the tribe of Ephriam, and Ephraim had been the younger son of Joseph, son of Jacob and Rachel. "Asenath or Asenith or Osnat was an Egyptian woman whom Pharaoh gave to Joseph to be his wife.  She was the Egyptian Priest of On's daughter,  Poti-Phera.  " Pharaoh was so impressed by Joseph's shrewd intelligence that he employs him to re-organize grain supplies for Egypt.   Joseph was so successful that, among other favours, Pharaoh arranges that Joseph marry a high-born Egyptian woman called Asenath.  Her father was the priest of the sun god, Ra, it is thought.   
  During King Solomon's rule he was a superintendent of forced labor, but later was the leader of their revolt against the burden on the people by the king.  He had to take refuge in Egypt for a while because of his revolutionary movement.  The northern tribes declared their independence when the request for lower taxes and forced labor was refused.    The forced labor was for building projects that Solomon had wanted done, and the higher taxes helped to pay for them.  Since Jeroboam was the leader of the revolution, he became their king.  He may have brought a better life for his people, but they had no reins on them, and they returned to ancient ways of Canaanites since rules were lax.
Solomon's Temple
Too bad King David wasn't around at the time, because in the 5th year of  Rehoboam as king, about in 929 BCE, Egypt's King Shishak AKA Pharoah Sheshonq took advantage of the situation.  Shishak of Egypt marched against Jerusalem, now in the hands of the tribe of Judah. He attacked with 1200 chariots, 60,000 horsemen and countless people who came with him from Egypt; Lubim, Sukkeim and Ethiopians.   He took away the treasures of the Temple and the treasures of the king's palace.  He took everything.  He also took all the golden shields that Solomon had made.  But he didn't take over the land.  That he didn't want, only the riches.  He was nothing but a thief.

Egyptians recorded the Pharoah's attack on the walls of the Temple of Karnak, but he didn't mention Jerusalem among the places he conquered.  Yet the Bible, our Tankkh, recorded the event in I Kings 14:25. Egypt did bother to record Sheshonq's rule and wrote that it was between 945 and 925 BCE.

Egyptian pharaohs were not modest about their accomplishments and always wrote about it.  Sheshonq had built a great colonaded forecourt to the temple of Amun in Karnak and included the famous Bubastite Portal.  On it stands Sheshonq who is supported by Amun and other gods as he smites his enemies in Asia, who are tied up in the depiction below him.  Each prisoner features a name-ring with a toponym, identifying a place that Sheshonq conquered or destroyed.   Jerusalem didn't make the cut.  Evidently he felt he wasn't that proud of his attack on Jerusalem, then.  Evidently he didn't take prisoners, so there was nothing to brag about.  He didn't conquer Jerusalem, but was a thief in the night only.
King Rehoboam had to have copper shields made to take the place of the golden ones. They were given to the captains of the runners who guarded the entrance to the king's palace.  When the king came to the Temple, the runners would carry them and later return them to the chamber of the runners.

Rehoboam couldn't control the people very well and they did things against the laws of Moses.  They were more sinful than their ancestors had been.  They built high places and pillars and Asherah-trees on every lofty hill and under every leafy tree.  This was a slip going along with Canaanite ritual that was pagan, showing they were around and still an influence on the Hebrews.   They were into prostitution, and were doing things that people did of people previously inhabiting the land.

Jeroboam's northern Israelites weren't any better.  The north and the south fought against each other. Five years after he took office as king, , 60 towns in his protection were ravaged by an Egyptian invasion.  He tried to combat the popularity of the Temple in Jerusalem so he committed the gravest of sins.
Bronze bull found, possibly covered with gold leaf originally
He set up new shrines at Bethel and Dan with a similar cult that centered around the symbols of golden calves.  What he had done was revert back to the customs at the time when Moses climbed Mt. Sinai to receive the 10 commandments and the people left on the ground became antsy and started worshipping the Golden Calf they had made.  "The story about the Golden Calf is no longer in its original simple form. It is notable, however, that Aaron proclaimed a 'festival to the Lord' to be held in front of the Golden Calf. This seems to have some connection with the story in I Kings 12:26-30 about Jeroboam making the Golden Calves, for he uses exactly the same phrase that is given to Aaron in Exodus: “Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.”   "Jeroboam became the prime example of someone who “sinned and caused the masses to sin (I Kings 14:16)”[4]. Everyone’s sin was “accredited” to him. As a result he lost his share in the World to Come, the Talmud says."  

 Rehoboam died and was buried in Jerusalem.    Abijah, his son, reigned in his place. (917-915). His mother was Micaiah, daughter of Uriel of Gilbeah.

Several hundred years later, the Assyrians will attack Israel and capture the best men as slaves for their lands.

G-d had given Moses (1391-1271 BCE) rules to follow that were so advanced for the culture, even though the family had started off with Abraham in the 2nd millennium of about 1948 BCE with monotheism. Put the population in a polytheistic culture and it drew them in.  It was hard to fight against.  Aaron had a moment of weakness and so did the kings after Solomon.
White House, USA
Knesset in Israel
 When you have a great leader, be appreciative of it.  They are scarcer than hen's teeth.    Being it is us, the people of the United States who elects a president, or Israelis in Israel who elect their prime minister, be wise about it.  Research each man.  What should a list of skills be to satisfy the job?  What should they know?  Look at the total picture; home and abroad responsibilities.  It just happens to be the highest and hardest position in the country.  Kings David and Solomon were wise beyond their years, and remembered to this day.

The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia
Tanakh (Bible)

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