The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Third Book of Kings
This Roboam betook himself to Sichem; at Sichem the whole of Israel had assembled to crown him king.
But meanwhile Jeroboam, son of Nabat, who had fled to Egypt to be out of king Solomon’s reach, had come back home upon hearing the news of his death;
and he, too, was summoned to meet them. He, and all Israel with him, came to make a request of Roboam;
Thy father, they said, made us bear a bitter yoke. That cruel sway of his, that hard yoke, do thou mitigate, and we will be thy servants on that condition.
Give me two days, said he, and then come back to hear my answer. So, when the people had left him,
king Roboam asked advice first of the older men that had been courtiers in the life-time of his father, king Solomon; what answer should he make to the people?
Why, they told him, if thou dost defer to them and do their will, granting this request of theirs and speaking graciously to them, they will never cease giving thee loyal service.
But he left their advice unheeded, and took counsel instead with the younger men who had grown up with him;
How think you, he asked, I should make answer to the people’s request, that I would lighten the yoke my father laid on them?
And these, men of his own upbringing, gave him advice in their turn. Do they complain that thy father laid a heavy yoke on them, and ask for relief? Then tell them there is more strength in thy little finger than in all the breadth of thy father’s back;
if his yoke fell heavy on them, thine shall be heavier still; if thy father’s weapon was the lash, thine shall be the scorpion.✻
So the third day came, and Jeroboam, with all the people at his back, kept the tryst which the king had made with them for the third day following.
And the king, instead of heeding the advice which the older men had given, spoke to the people harshly,
with such words as the younger men had prescribed to him. If my father’s yoke fell heavy on you, he told them, mine shall be heavier still; if his weapon was the lash, mine shall be the scorpion.
Thus the king refused to fall in with his people’s will; the Lord had left him to his own devices, in fulfilment of the promise Ahias the Silonite made, in his name, to Jeroboam son of Nabat.
And when the people found that the king would not listen to them, they were quick with their answer. David is none of ours, they cried; not for us the son of Jesse; go back, men of Israel, to your homes! Let David look to the affairs of his own tribe! And with that, the people dispersed to their homes;
none but the Israelites living in the cities of Juda would acknowledge Roboam as king.
And now, when Adoram, who had charge of the levy, came to them in the king’s name, the Israelites stoned him to death; whereupon Roboam mounted his chariot and betook himself, with all speed, to Jerusalem.
From that day to this, the men of Israel have refused allegiance to the dynasty of David.
Hearing of Jeroboam’s return, they met and summoned him to be present; and so they made him king of all Israel, leaving none to take part with David’s line except the one tribe of Juda.
Roboam, indeed, upon reaching Jerusalem, mustered the whole tribe of Juda, including Benjamin, a hundred and eighty thousand choice warriors, to make war on the men of Israel; their cry was that Roboam, Solomon’s heir, must be restored to his kingdom.
But the Lord sent word to the prophet Semeias,
Here is a message for Roboam, son of Solomon, king of Juda, and for the men of Juda and Benjamin, the loyal remnant of the people.
You are not to march out, the Lord says, and make war upon the sons of Israel, your own brethren; go home, every man of you; all this is my doing. So they obeyed the Lord’s will, and gave up their journey at his bidding.
As for Jeroboam, he fortified Sichem, in the hill-country of Ephraim, to be his capital; then he went on to fortify Phanuel.
And it came into his mind, The kingdom will go back to the dynasty of David
if these subjects of mine are allowed to go and sacrifice in the Lord’s house at Jerusalem. Their loyalties will go out again to their old master, king Roboam of Juda; they will kill me, and return to his allegiance.
And this was the plan he devised; he made two golden calves, and said to the men of Israel, Here are your gods; the same gods that rescued you from the land of Egypt; no need to make pilgrimage to Jerusalem any more.
One of the calves he set up at Bethel, and the other at Dan.
Here was great sin caused; all the way to Dan men would go on pilgrimage, to worship a calf.
Jeroboam made shrines, too, on the hill-tops, and chose men to be priests here and there and everywhere among the people, men that were not of Levi’s race.
And he appointed a feast-day of his own, on the fifteenth day of the month, to match the feast-day kept in Juda, but it was in the eighth month. He too, in Bethel, would mount the steps of the altar and do sacrifice, but to calf-gods of his own making. And at Bethel he established the priests that served the hill-shrines he had made.
On the fifteenth day, then, of the eighth month, his self-devised feast-day for the sons of Israel, Jeroboam went up to the altar he had built in Bethel, and began, standing there, to offer incense.
The Holy Bible