Today we return to the narrative of 2 Chronicles, where the chronicler records the reign of Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, under whom the kingdom split. The account here does not vary much from the account in 1 Kings. However, it is of note that the chronicler does not include the coronation of Jeroboam in the Northern Kingdom (see 1 Kings 12:20). We will see that all the deeds of the northern kings are completely excluded by the chronicler. Remember, the Northern Kingdom is of no concern to the chronicler or the returning remnant.
In 11:13-17, we see a detail that was excluded from the book of 1 Kings. Upon the split of the kingdom, the Levites left their cities in the northern kingdom, as did all the priests, and they moved to Judah. What’s more, all of the “true believers” left Israel and moved to Judah. All of God’s true people were now in Judah so they could worship in Jerusalem. The chronicler is showing that the Northern Kingdom had totally apostatized and was cut off from God. Based on Jesus’s exchange with the Samaritan woman in John 4:19-22, we see that the chronicler is correct.
Also note in verse 17 that Rehoboam and Judah walked in the way of David and Solomon for three years, meaning he walked in a manner pleasing to God. The narrative of Solomon’s life in 2 Chronicles would bear this out. However, the account of his falling away in 1 Kings would not, which is why the chronicler left out the details of his sin. This is not so for Rehoboam. In 1 Kings 21:29, we are told that “the rest of the acts of Rehoboam” are contained in the “book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah.”1 Now we see the rest of those acts.
In verses 18-23, we see that Rehoboam shared his father’s weakness for women, though he did not go quite as far (v. 21). We also see that he sought to keep the royal line as pure as possible, since he married his cousins (v. 18, 20). Also, he wanted to make the son of his favored wife king after him (v. 22), even though he was not the oldest (Jeush was – see v. 19). This means Abijah is not the lawful heir. Additionally, Rehoboam passed on the polygamy to his sons, procuring “a multitude of wives” (the literal Hebrew) for them (v. 23).
Chapter 12 begins with the statement that Rehoboam abandoned the law of YHWH, and all Israel with him (12:1). We will see that the chronicler will sometimes refer to Judah as “Israel.” Then we get a more detailed account of Egypt’s attack on Jerusalem (see 1 Kings 14:25-28). We are told of the vast army and the allies of Shishak (v. 3). Excluded from the Kings account is the prophet Shemiah coming to the king and his sons to tell them why Egypt was coming against them (v. 5) and their subsequent repentance (v. 6). We also see that God relents and delivers them (v. 7), but he will leave them under the rule of Egypt (v. 8). This is important for the chronicler, because he is showing his readers that God will deliver the humble and repentant (the remnant), but that it does not exclude subservience to foreign powers. This is genius on the part of the chronicler given the situation the remnant found themselves in (under Persian rule).
We see more of this in verse 12. Despite the foreign rule, as long as Judah was repentant, “conditions were good.” In verse 13, we see a reminder that God chose to dwell in Jerusalem (which the remnant was coming back to rebuild!) and that despite the foreign rule, Judah was able to function as a sovereign people. In verse 14, we have a warning against turning back to sin. Inverse 15, the chronicler throws in the fact that the northern and southern kingdoms were now enemies. The chapter ends with the death of Rehoboam (v. 16).
1 As the book of Chronicles was clearly written well after the book of Kings (in the Hebrew Scriptures, they are each one book, there is no “first” and “second”), it would seem that these references in Kings to the book of Chronicles were added way after the book of Kings was originally written.