I Kin. 12:1-24; II Chron. 10:1-11:4
The Kingdom of Israel was fragile, but united under the leadership of King Saul. Different tribes operated under independent loyalties to themselves. They briefly divided at the death of Saul with the tribes of Judah and Simeon (Simeon having been combined with Judah) accepting David as their king and the other ten tribes remaining loyal to Ishbosheth, Saul’s son until his assassination. After reuniting under David, Israel remained united until after the death of Solomon.
As Solomon’s son, Rehoboam ascended to the throne, Jeroboam was notified in Egypt of the change of government. He along with Israel requested that Rehoboam lighten the grievous burdens that had been placed upon them by Solomon. With his lack of wisdom and abundance of pride, the new king rejected the advice of his father’s elders to deal kindly with the people. He heeded the advice of his young friends who encouraged him to drastically increase their burdens instead of reducing them.
Rehoboam unwittingly fulfilled the prophecy of the prophet, Ahijah. It was God’s plan to divide the kingdom because of Solomon’s disobedience. Judah along with Benjamin remained with Rehoboam in Jerusalem and that southern kingdom became known as Judah. The remaining northern tribes became known as Israel under Jeroboam as their king.
In order to bring the rebellious tribes back, Rehoboam assembled an army to attack Israel. God sent word to him by Shemaiah to refrain from war and for every man to return to his house. Rehoboam wisely obeyed God’s instruction in that matter.