I Kin. 14:21-15:8; II Chron. 11:5-14:1
At forty-one years of age, Rehoboam began his reign as king of Judah. The priests and Levites who had been replaced in their positions by Jeroboam in Israel joined with Rehoboam. Other Israelites who were displeased with Jeroboam defected to Judah in order to worship as God had commanded. After the first three years of fortifying his kingdom, he wandered farther from the Lord. He made idols and places of worship other than God’s house in Jerusalem and appointed other priests. His sins were even greater and more widespread than those of his father, Solomon.
King Rehoboam had a very large family. He had eighteen wives and sixty concubines. His children numbered twenty-eight sons and sixty daughters. He appointed Abijah to be the chief leader of his brothers and dispersed his sons throughout the land. Abijah was being groomed to eventually succeed his father to the throne.
God was highly displeased with the sins of Rehoboam and Judah. After five years He allowed Shishak, king of Egypt to invade Judah. That invasion and the words of the prophet, Shemaiah humbled the king causing the Lord to allow partial deliverance from total destruction by Egypt. Shishak’s invasion was costly to Judah. He removed the treasures from the temple and the king’s house including the golden shields that Solomon had made. Rehoboam replaced the golden shields with less costly bronze shields.
In addition to the war with Egypt, Rehoboam was continually faced with battles with Jeroboam and the Israelites.
After seventeen years of a sinful reign, Rehoboam died and was succeeded by his son, Abijah.
Abijam, whose name is also called Abijah, began his reign as king of Judah during the eighteenth year of Jeroboam’s reign in Israel. He was a son of Rehoboam and maternal great-great grandson of David. Abijah’s three-year reign continued in the sins of his father. However, he did allow the priests to perform their duties as the people worshipped God.
There had been continual warfare between Jeroboam’s Israel and Judah. In his final battle with Jeroboam, Abijah gathered an army of four hundred thousand valiant warriors against eight hundred thousand choice men of Israel. Prior to the battle Abijah called out to Jeroboam in an attempt to persuade him to return to the true worship of God. He pointed out the importance of maintaining God’s commands. As the king of Judah was attempting to unify the two kingdoms, Jeroboam positioned an ambush in the rear of Judah’s army in addition to his forces to the front.
Even though Abijah had sinned against God, it was His plan to preserve the lineage of Judah for the coming Messiah. Seeing the ambush behind him, Abijah cried out to the Lord and the priests sounded the trumpets. God allowed Judah to slaughter five hundred thousand of Israel’s choice men. Jeroboam was defeated and died soon afterward.
Abijah died and his son, Asa became king of Judah.