Jeroboam's Royal Drama 9780199601875, 9780199601882

Among the most challenging biblical figures to understand is Jeroboam son of Nebat, the first monarch of northern Israel

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English Pages x, 167 p. ; [191] Year 2012.

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Table of contents :
Title Page
Copyright Page
Prologue: Jeroboam and the Legitimacy of Rebellion
1. Ideologies of Kingship: Mechanisms of Power and the Reigns of Saul, David, and Solomon
2. Souls of Revolt: Solomon’s Adversaries and the Flashback to Jeroboam
3. Politics of Rebellion: The Schism of Shechem and the Resistance to Imperialism
4. Objects of Control: Golden Calves 2.0 and the Distribution of Power
5. Play–Within–A–Play: The Altar and the Allegory of 1 Kings 13
6. Focus on the Family: The Royal Disguise of Israel’s Queen
Epilogue: The Future of Jeroboam’s Memory
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Biblical Refigurations Jeroboam’s Royal Drama

BIBLICAL REFIGURATIONS General Editors: James Crossley and Francesca Stavrakopoulou This innovative series offers new perspectives on the textual, cultural, and interpretative contexts of particular biblical characters, inviting readers to take a fresh look at the methodologies of Biblical Studies. Individual volumes employ different critical methods including social–scientific criticism, critical theory, historical criticism, reception history, postcolonialism, and gender studies, while subjects include both prominent and lesser known figures from the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. Published Titles Include: Jeremy Schipper Disability and Isaiah’s Suffering Servant


Jeroboam’s Royal Drama KEITH BODNER

Great Clarendon Street, Oxford OX2 6DP Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University’s objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide in Oxford New York Auckland Cape Town Dar es Salaam Hong Kong Karachi Kuala Lumpur Madrid Melbourne Mexico City Nairobi New Delhi Shanghai Taipei Toronto With offices in Argentina Austria Brazil Chile Czech Republic France Greece Guatemala Hungary Italy Japan Poland Portugal Singapore South Korea Switzerland Thailand Turkey Ukraine Vietnam Oxford is a registered trade mark of Oxford University Press in the UK and in certain other countries Published in the United States by Oxford University Press Inc., New York © Keith Bodner 2012 The moral rights of the author have been asserted Database right Oxford University Press (maker) First published 2012 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of Oxford University Press, or as expressly permitted by law, or under terms agreed with the appropriate reprographics rights organization. Enquiries concerning reproduction outside the scope of the above should be sent to the Rights Department, Oxford University Press, at the address above You must not circulate this book in any other binding or cover and you must impose the same condition on any acquirer British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

Data available Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data Library of Congress Control Number: 2011942647 Typeset by SPI Publisher Services, Pondicherry, India Printed in Great Britain on acid–free paper by MPG Books Group, Bodmin and King’s Lynn ISBN 978–0–19–960187–5 (Hbk) 978–0–19–960188–2 (Pbk) 1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2

Contents Acknowledgements Abbreviations Prologue: Jeroboam and the Legitimacy of Rebellion 1. Ideologies of Kingship: Mechanisms of Power and the Reigns of Saul, David, and Solomon 2. Souls of Revolt: Solomon’s Adversaries and the Flashback to Jeroboam 3. Politics of Rebellion: The Schism of Shechem and the Resistance to Imperialism 4. Objects of Control: Golden Calves 2.0 and the Distribution of Power 5. Play–Within–A–Play: The Altar and the Allegory of 1 Kings 13 6. Focus on the Family: The Royal Disguise of Israel’s Queen Epilogue: The Future of Jeroboam’s Memory Bibliography Index

Acknowledgements Twenty–four hours ago, I was hot. Now, I’m a cautionary tale. Jerry Maguire Many biblical kings, like some sports agents in the modern era, have suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. I am grateful to Mark Leuchter for first challenging my thinking about Jeroboam, and explaining how scholars have tended to focus almost exclusively on the negative appraisals and far less on the narrative consecution of Jeroboam’s career. Without the prompting of Francesca Stavrakopoulou I would never have taken arms against the sea of Jeroboamic troubles, and I deeply appreciate the opportunity. The sage counsel of Tom Perridge guided the book to publication, and the Oxford University Press team deserve the warmest thanks. Seth Crowell, whose conviviality is a model for every Vice– President, was kind enough to provide a sabbatical leave and a room with a view. John Stackhouse and Tim Larson visited Crandall University at opportune moments during the writing of this book, and I am glad for their conversations. Numerous colleagues discussed germane elements, read portions, or provided timely encouragement, including Jeremy Schipper, Jacob Wright, Marina Hofman, Sara Locke, Brian Stockford, Lynn Kay, Ralph Wood, Phil Donnelly, Louis Stulman, Glen Taylor, Christine Mitchell, John McLaughlin, Nathan MacDonald, Ellen White, Mark Jelley, Robin Gallaher Branch, George Sweetman, Leigh Trevaskis, Mark Moore, and Brian Aucker. Many more debts have been incurred—both at home and abroad—so I apologize for the omissions. My own dynastic house—what we lack in royalty is compensated with energy—resemble the elders who stood before Solomon, and likewise recommend servant leadership as the best way to avoid a schism, lest I quickly become a cautionary tale myself. Evelyn, Victoria, and Jeff each allowed me to bring my notebook to volleyball practices, trips to the shopping mall, and sold–out hockey games. Similar to an aged prophet, they

have a collective knack for piercing my disguises. The queen of our palace, Dr. Coreen Bodner, is our fire and our rose, and a gilt–edged gift of divine grace. Keith Bodner All Hallows’ Eve, 2010 (with due remembrance of Mrs. Jeroboam’s costume in 1 Kings 14)

Abbreviations AB

Anchor Bible


Anchor Bible Dictionary. Edited by D. N. Freedman. 6 vols. New York, 1992


Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture


American Journal of Theology


Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament. Edited by J. B. Prichard. 3d edn. Princeton, 1969


The Aramaic Bible


Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research


Biblical Interpretation A Journal of Contemporary Approaches


Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester


Beiträge zur Wissenschaft vom Alten und Neuen Testament


Biblische Zeitschrift


Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft


Catholic Biblical Quarterly


Catholic Biblical Quarterly Monograph Series


Coniectanae biblica Old Testament Series


The Context of Scripture. Edited by W. W. Hallo. 3 vols. Leiden, 1997–


Evangelische Theologie


Forschungen zum Alten Testament


Harvard Semitic Studies


International Critical Commentary


The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. Edited by G. A. Buttrick. 4 vols. Nashville, 1962


Journal of the Ancient Near Eastern Society


Journal of the American Oriental Society


Journal of Biblical Literature


Journal of Hebrew Scriptures


Journal for the Study of Judaism


Journal for the Study of the Old Testament


Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series


King James Version


Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies


The New Interpreter’s Bible


New International Commentary on the Old Testament


New International Version


Novum Testamentum


Novem Testamentum Supplements


New Revised Standard Version


Old Testament Essays


Old Testament Library


Perspectives in Religious Studies


Revue d’assyriologie et d’archeologie orientale


Religion and the Arts


Review and Expositor


Revue de Qumran


Revue d’histoire et de philosophie religieuses


State Archives of Assyria


Society of Biblical Literature Dissertation Series


Society of Biblical Literature Symposium Series


Scandinavian Journal of the Old Testament


Scottish Journal of Theology


Vetus Testamentum


Vetus Testamentum Supplements


Word Biblical Commentary


Zeitschrift fur die altestamentliche Wissenschaft

Prologue Jeroboam and the Legitimacy of Rebellion

One of the most misunderstood figures in the Hebrew Bible is Jeroboam son of Nebat, the Israelite monarch whose story occupies the central portion of 1 Kings. Jeroboam is usually vilified in the popular imagination, and to be sure, his twenty-two year reign is fraught with controversy and ultimately becomes the negative standard by which all other northern potentates are measured. However, a close reading of the Jeroboam narrative in 1 Kings 11–14 reveals a literary achievement of great subtlety and a highly complex characterization. Instead of a flat representation of a prototypical evil king, Jeroboam’s portrait is far more nuanced than is often realized and yields a host of surprises for the engaged reader. Among other things, careful attention to Jeroboam’s story results in a reappraisal of exalted figures such as David and Solomon, and raises challenging questions around issues such as power and leadership. Against the grain of a considerable body of conventional interpretation that tends to idealize biblical characters, my study locates the arrival of Jeroboam’s kingship as a direct response to scandalous activity within the Solomonic empire. Consequently, the spectacular rise and precipitous fall of Jeroboam merits detailed attention, since few individuals were promised so much only to lose it for reasons that seem either banal or inscrutable. For the contemporary reader who is acquainted with the dangers of compromise and corruption in the political arena, the Jeroboam narrative is a worthy object of study. Not only is Jeroboam an intriguing literary character, but it is through the lens of this figure that a range of issues in the biblical text can be explored, especially the notions of conflict, rebellion, power and power relations. Furthermore, 1 Kings 11–14 affords a unique opportunity in that a range of literary techniques are on display in a relatively compact textual sequence. Even though the Jeroboam narrative is much shorter than the preceding accounts of Saul, David, and Solomon, there is more than

meets the eye in a first reading. The diverse array of narrative devices—such as telescoped interior discourse, intertextuality, temporal sequencing, ironic reversal, structural analogy, spatial settings, and deliberate ambiguity—can be appreciated by both biblical specialists and literary theorists, as well as any reader with a literary sensibility and who seeks a nuanced analysis of this phase of Israel’s royal saga.

A biblical blockbuster The reading public has long been fascinated by stories of individuals who rise to great heights only to experience a spectacular demise. Whether in the fields of art, literature, athletics, politics, or the financial world, there is a seemingly insatiable appetite for such narratives, and a considerable industry devoted to their production. Some of the most enduring stories are those of fallen kings, toppled from lofty thrones by hubris or mysterious caprice. Biblical audiences seem to be no exception in this regard, as the monarchic history of ancient Israel is littered with memorable crashes. Among the many stories of Israel’s kings, one stands out in this regard: the account of Jeroboam in 1 Kings 11–14. The story of Jeroboam has all the ingredients of a best-selling novel or Hollywood screenplay. An industrious and successful young man—perhaps even raised by a single mother—is promoted by a famous king to a position of high responsibility. During a clandestine encounter in an obscure location, a shadowy prophet appoints him as a legitimate usurper of the king due to widespread corrosion, with promises of a lasting dynasty over a vast portion of the kingdom if he stays the course of obedience. Somehow the incumbent king learns of this threat and tries to kill his protégé, but the young man survives the assassination attempt and flees for safety to a foreign land. Meanwhile, the king dies and his middle–aged son is poised to assume the throne, but a combination of political incompetence and divine intervention pave the way for a change in regime. The former fugitive is invited back from exile as a special observer at the biggest election in the nation’s history, and in a matter of days is acclaimed king by a new and eager constituency. As a populist politician the new king appears poised for a triumphant career, but before long his sweeping reforms and aggressive initiatives come under a cloud of judgment. Further warning signs go unheeded, until the new king’s

young prince is struck with a deadly illness. His desperate queen dons a disguise in order to divine the boy’s fate from the same soothsayer who first appointed the new king, but this austere prophetic figure only announces the end of what could have been an eternal dynasty, and forecasts doom for the prince and the rest of the royal house. How does a career that begins with such astonishing promise end in utter catastrophe? Such is the subject of this book, as the Jeroboam narrative is read in order to discover, if possible, some of the reasons for this intriguing character’s calamitous fall. Jeroboam was given a promise almost equivalent to that of David—a kingly seat and lasting dynasty—yet the whole regal enterprise disintegrates like a sandcastle in the rising tide. Jeroboam’s story has a great deal to offer the student of literature and the theorist of political power. How is it that Jeroboam—appointed as a legitimate rebel to replace Solomon—becomes just as maleficent (albeit in different ways) as his predecessor? In this book I am interested in exploring how the Jeroboam narrative works as a piece of literature and how it contributes to the intellectual and political history of ancient Israel (including the institution of kingship and the dynamics of power in national life). Jeroboam is presented as a highly conflicted character and therefore refracts—sometimes allegorically—the conflicts of the nation. Utilizing various tools of biblical interpretation, I intend to access the power profile in the Jeroboam story, and inquire as to why he is portrayed this way on the narrative canvas.

State of play It is rather surprising—given the plethora of literary studies in the past three decades and focus on techniques of characterization—that Jeroboam’s rise and fall has not received more attention, and that the first leader of the northern kingdom is an understudied figure. Still, in the past two decades there have been a number of works that make acute contributions to the study of the Jeroboam story. In some ways the recent history of interpreting Jeroboam mirrors the changing winds of reading habits in biblical scholarship, with its variety of approaches and more eclectic trends for analyzing the texts of the Hebrew Bible.1 In this next section of the introduction I will highlight three representative works that feature three different genres of academic writing: a commentary (Burke Long), a

scholarly article (Robert Cohn), and a dissertation–turned–monograph (Roland Boer). I will of course refer to numerous other scholars throughout the book, but these three provide a convenient starting place and something of a point of departure as well. A survey of biblical research over the past fifty years reveals that the interpretive landscape has radically altered. Whereas historical–critical studies enjoyed a virtual monopoly on the discipline through much of the twentieth century, the same can no longer be asserted today. The rise of methodological pluralism has led to a plethora of new lines of inquiry, with the prior hegemony of historical criticism having been dislodged. In a number of respects The Forms of Old Testament Literature (FOTL) commentary series itself exemplifies this movement.2 Having been around for a number of decades, the series was birthed as a child of modernity, but in later volumes one notices some slight growing pains. Burke Long’s commentaries on 1 & 2 Kings capture some of this transition. If more recent FOTL volumes have drifted away from historical–critical certainties—and the two commentaries on Samuel by Antony Campbell certainly admit as much in the respective introductions—one could argue that this drift was in some respects anticipated by Long. It is as though Long perceived the limitations of form–criticism as defined by a previous generation, and probed new reading strategies and brought a more self–conscious literary sensibility to the text. On the whole Long’s commentary charts a new course for studies in 1 Kings; more specifically, with respect to the Jeroboam narrative (which he understands as an integrated component of the larger text) Long has a number of local observations that are eminently suggestive. Consider two examples, both from 1 Kings 11 at the outset of the Jeroboam story. First, when considering the “rise of the adversaries” immediately following Solomon’s death in 1 Kings 11:14–25, the reader is presented with the accounts of Hadad and Rezon. The audience knows that a “servant” will take over a sizeable portion of the kingdom based on the divine pronouncement to Solomon in 11:11, but the precise identity of this fortunate servant is unknown. After the paired accounts of Hadad and Rezon, Long asks, “Is Hadad the servant who is to receive ten parts of the kingdom? Or Rezon? Or someone yet unnamed? How is this darkness to become visible?”3 Second, when reflecting on the entire scene where the reader is first acquainted with Jeroboam in 11:26–40, Long sees a deeper foreshadowing function and larger

contribution of Jeroboam’s introduction: “The events [of 11:26–40] are also proleptic of the whole subsequent history of monarchy. It will be a story of division and strife and adversarial relations between north and south, scion of David and the successors to Jeroboam to whom the dynastic promise was passed in this moment. It is a powerful legitimation both of Solomon’s failures and Jeroboam’s sudden success.”4 These kinds of questions and observations punctuate Long’s commentary, and thus furnish some useful preliminaries for the present inquiry. While it is quite possible that the venerable academic journal Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft (ZAW) was not always the first port of call for those emerging postmodern readers of the mid–1980s, an article by Robert Cohn entitled “Literary Technique in the Jeroboam Narrative” has nonetheless proven highly influential for subsequent studies of 1 Kings 11– 14. Cohn applies a literary approach to the story, while fully in dialogue with regnant historical and redaction–critical methods. He begins by noting that Jeroboam is actually allocated a fair amount of narrative space, a necessity because of the “problem” Jeroboam epitomizes: “For he presents a difficult theological problem for the Judahite historian who included his ‘biography’ in Kings. Although Jeroboam had successfully supplanted the reign of the Davidic dynasty over the northern tribes, his kingdom ultimately failed. The author,” and this is a key point for Cohn, “must explain both why God allowed Jeroboam to inherit the greatest part of the kingdom promised to the descendants of David, but also why Jeroboam’s dynasty and his kingdom, having been so favored, came to ruin.”5 After outlining the overall structure of the Jeroboam story, Cohn proceeds with a short analysis of each pericope, almost invariably showing how each of the parts (from Ahijah’s oracle to the disguise of Jeroboam’s wife) fit together. While conceding that the various parts manifest clear signs of “composite authorship,” Cohn maintains that “the traditions have been arranged in a roughly chiastic shape through which the author justifies both the rise and fall of Jeroboam by depicting his transformation from God’s chosen instrument to his despised enemy.”6 Writing in the wake of Robert Alter’s influential book The Art of Biblical Narrative, Cohn’s article makes a worthy contribution to our understanding of the story. The smart money would wager that considerably more biblical scholars heard of the name Frederic Jameson after the appearance of Roland Boer’s book, Jameson and Jeroboam. A left–leaning political and literary theorist,

Jameson’s voluminous output includes the study of narrative, its production, and the control of interpretation—ideas that Boer seeks to apply to the Jeroboam story. Included in Boer’s book is a valuable survey of past scholarship on 1 Kings 11–14. Far from condescending, Boer looks for insights from a range of reading strategies (including textual criticism and historical studies) and not just those more congenial to the direction of his own predilections (such as deconstructionism, liberation theology, and Marxist readings). He successfully demonstrates, as he puts it, that the Jeroboam narrative is “methodologically thick” and thus amenable to various kinds of applications. Of particular value is Boer’s attention to three different stories of Jeroboam’s reign and the breakup of the Solomonic empire in 1 Kings 11–14, the Greek Septuagint (LXX) version of the story, and the Chronicler’s narrative in 2 Chronicles 10–13.7 These three rather different accounts yield various insights into the Jeroboam tradition as a whole. I will deal repeatedly with Boer’s research over the course of this book, but for the purposes of this introduction consider his analysis of 1 Kings 13, an enigmatic episode involving a man of God from Judah and a (lying) old prophet of Bethel in 13:11–32. After dramatically confronting Jeroboam at his newly constructed altar of Bethel and adamantly refusing the king’s offer of hospitality, the man of God speaks about his commission: “For thus I was commanded by the word of the LORD, saying, ‘Do not eat bread and do not drink water, and do not return by the road that you went.’” As the scene unfolds, the man of God does end up accepting an offer of hospitality from the old prophet of Bethel, who has apparently bamboozled him into forfeiting his call of abstinence. Now in Boer’s opinion, a neglected component is this very motif of not eating and drinking, a sequence that operates as an interpretive clue for solving the allegorical mystery of the episode: “the prohibition functions as the allegorical counterpart to the ‘covenant’ with the kings, specifically Solomon and Jeroboam, but more generally with the kingship as a whole in north and south. If the kings will obey God’s commands and not worship other gods, then all will be well; but if they do not obey prosperous reigns are not on the agenda. Indeed, for this writer (Deuteronomist) there would seem to be a connection between the man of God’s breaking of the prohibition and his death and the breach of the covenant by Judah and its eventual destruction.”8 This allegorical dimension of 13:11–32—that, according to Cohn’s delineation of the chiastic structure, stands at the very center of the Jeroboam narrative—is fraught with

possibility and can be further probed.9 It seems to me that bringing Judah into the equation—not a common move amongst the interpreters—is a bold step, as the implication would be: even in the midst of condemning the northern kingdom and its leadership, the southern kingdom of Judah is not exempt from the same kinds of judgment. Cohn provides a dexterous critique of a narrative that is far more supple than many previous interpreters have allowed, and is exactly what I want to explore in the pages ahead.

Method and context The above review of several recent interpreters illustrates all kinds of potential for a reading of the Jeroboam story, and lays the foundation for the direction of this study. In the first instance, I will pay heightened attention to Jeroboam’s initial legitimacy, defined as follows: there is divine sanction for Jeroboam’s “rebellion” against the Solomonic kingdom, and a clear implication in the narrative that God sponsors the insurrection against the house of David. While this point has been noted by the above scholars, there is certainly scope for further analysis here. Moreover, this book will devote a considerable amount of space to investigating the development of Jeroboam’s character over the course of his career. Initially described as a “man of valor,” it is hard to overstate the positive commencement of Jeroboam’s characterization. This recognition is essential, then, to appreciating the movement toward sectarianism as the narrative progresses. In light of Jeroboam’s character transformation—from legitimate rebel to a king under the cloud of judgment—the narrative needs to studied in a sequential fashion. My book will trace the plot contours and character angles of the Jeroboam story character by moving episode–by–episode through the text of 1 Kings 11–14. There are several reasons why narrative criticism is a principal component in my reading strategy of the Jeroboam story. First, in 1 Kings 11–14 there is a remarkable variety of literary techniques used in a compact textual neighborhood. In an earlier paragraph I mention “the diverse array of narrative devices” that feature in the Jeroboam account, and the easiest way to access and appreciate the artistic dimension of the text is through narrative criticism—a reading strategy that has ample categories for labeling and analyzing these elements of the story.10 Second, narrative criticism is an

approach that is complementary to other hermeneutical methods in biblical studies. For instance, a form–critical scholar may not necessarily be interested in a postcolonial reading (or vice–versa), but both can benefit from a narrative–critical analysis of the text, with its inherent interest in the literary features and techniques used in the composition of the story. A succinct summary of the approach is provided by Richard Bowman: The basic presuppositions of narrative criticism are that (1) the final, present form of the text functions as a coherent narrative; (2) this narrative has a literary integrity apart from circumstances relating to the compositional process, the historical reality behind the story, or the interpretive agenda of the reader; and (3) an analysis of the literary features of this narrative will reveal an interpretive focus. The questions asked of the text follow from these presuppositions and concern how the general elements of narrative are manifested in a particular narrative to yield a meaningful and meaning–filled story.11 One of the better commentaries available on 1 Kings utilizes this kind of reading strategy. Jerome Walsh’s volume—frequently cited in the pages ahead—approaches the text of 1 Kings with sustained attention to literary matters. In general terms, it is fair to say that Walsh is deeply interested in the structure of a given narrative, believing that this is one of the first levels of meaning. Thus he states, “One of the discoveries literary analysts of the Hebrew Bible have made is that Hebrew has its own particular ways of signaling the organization of a narrative. Recognition of these structuring devices enables us to perceive nuances of relationship between episodes, shades of emphasis, and intimations of contrast we would otherwise miss.”12 To be more specific, consider his structural outline of the last episode in the Jeroboam narrative, 1 Kings 14. Although the scenes are of unequal length, Walsh demonstrates that the particular arrangement of the episode into comparable sections creates a sense of dramatic tension and allows the reader to see the connections and balance throughout the whole: A. Background information (14:1) B. Jeroboam’s speech to his wife (14:2–3) C. Jeroboam’s wife “arose,” “went,” and “came” (14:4a) A’. Background information (14:4b–5)

B’. Ahijah’s speech to Jeroboam’s wife (14:6–16) C’. Jeroboam’s wife “arose,” “went,” and “came” (14:17a)13

Such structural observations, as a first step, are helpful enough, and certainly can serve to orient the reader in the right direction. The more engaging component of narrative criticism, in my experience, involves the kinds of questions such analysis raises (with payoff both for interpretation and pedagogy). Building on this structural map, one can therefore ask: why are we only introduced to Jeroboam’s wife here, and not earlier in the Jeroboam story? Why is she the one who travels to Ahijah, and not Jeroboam himself? Why is she unnamed? Why is this scene chosen to bring closure to Jeroboam’s story, when on the surface it looks like he is only a peripheral actor for most of the scene? What is the significance of Jeroboam disguising his wife, only for the reader to discover that Ahijah the prophet is blind, yet able to penetrate the disguise to reveal her identity? Far from arbitrary, such questions are prompted by the text itself based on the organization of the material, and narrative criticism takes its cue from such clues and proceeds with an analysis of the story. At this point I should pick up an earlier thread and reiterate that narrative criticism is a helpful methodology because it can be used alongside other reading strategies and can be profitably used as a bridge to other forms of inquiry, such as historical approaches. If historians tend to ask the question, who was Jeroboam?, literary critics tend to ask, what is Jeroboam—that is, what kind of character is represented on the narrative canvas, and why? This present study is more interested in the portrait of Jeroboam as a literary figure rather than as a historical personage, since careful literary study can also be undertaken by the historian (or any reader of the text, for that matter).14 But having said that, I am more interested in historical matters than may seem to be the case at first glance. A frequent accusation aimed at narrative criticism is an apparent hesitancy or reluctance to study a narrative in its larger context, or to explore the purpose of a text’s composition, or inquire as to whose interests are served by a given text. I seek to probe such questions in a modest way by interpreting the Jeroboam narrative in the context of its broader setting; that is, I am assuming that 1 Kings 11–14 is part of a larger historical work that scholars refer to as the Deuteronomistic History (DH). In other words, Jeroboam’s characterization is not being considered strictly in isolation, but rather as an

embedded component within a sweeping historical epic. I will discuss matters of the DH in passing throughout this book, but a few comments should be made by way of introduction. While both the authorship and putative audience of the DH are vigorously debated by scholars, the basic lineaments of the theory are not difficult to summarize. Formally credited to Martin Noth during the 1940s, the idea is that the biblical books from Deuteronomy to Kings form a coherent historical work compiled by the “Deuteronomist” during the exilic period, with a stratified reflection on Israel’s history from entrance to exile, that is, from the conquest of Canaan (anticipated in Deuteronomy) until the destruction of Jerusalem at the hand of the Babylonians (at the end of 2 Kings 25).15 The book of Deuteronomy—with the warnings, exhortations, and expositions spoken by Moses in a dramatic monologue on the plains of Moab—holds the key to interpreting the narrative of Joshua to Kings: will Israel be faithful, or be led astray by a myriad of temptations? I want to explore the Jeroboam narrative as part of this larger narrative continuum. What happens when Jeroboam is studied from the perspective of exile? What happens when Jeroboam’s story is read after the collapse of the institutional monarchy? Closer to Roland Boer’s concern, I also am interested in the production side of the story, and probing why Jeroboam is configured the way he is. A common position followed by numerous commentators is that Jeroboam is sketched as a kind of foil to the kings of Judah and Jerusalem, where the darkness of northern iniquity is contrasted with the comparative brightness of southern glory. Even worse, Jeroboam is often eviscerated as the “fall guy” who is blamed for most of (northern) Israel’s ills and woes. Although there is a degree of truth to various claims, ultimately these caricatures are an inadequate model. As I read the story, there is something more dramatic and mysterious in Jeroboam’s configuration, and such are the lines I want to probe. The theme of power recurs in the narrative, and this theme is in need of further refinement. Within the context of the DH there is a scathing critique of kings and leaders, institutions and structures. In the light of exile, such power networks are seen to have abysmally failed at every level, so it is not surprising that such a critique would be of paramount concern in the narrative from beginning to end. As the last item on the agenda for this introduction, I will now define power as used for the duration of this book.

Power networks and rebellion In this prologue I have set the stage for the overall book by orienting the reader to the main storyline and describing the approach taken. Building on previous studies—several of which are briefly described above—I am interested in applying the tools of narrative criticism to the Jeroboam story. With its slant toward both the poetics of the text and the role of the reader, narrative criticism is a methodology ideally suited to the material in 1 Kings 11–14. At the same time, this study of Jeroboam’s character takes seriously the context of the Deuteronomistic History, and the power dynamic that forms an integral theme of the wider text. Extracting this theme and analyzing how it operates in the narrative will provide, I submit, a measure of fresh insight into the Jeroboam account. There are two preliminary explanations that are foundational for the rest of the book: a (re)definition of power, and an argument for the occasional legitimacy of rebellion. First, it is fair to say that many biblical scholars work with a model of power that flows from the top down, a vertical deployment that begins with the king and runs downward. This relatively static conception of political power, though, is inadequate for analyzing 1 Kings 11–14. Since the seminal work of Michel Foucault, critics are increasingly recognizing power as a network of relationships that is far less one– directional than is often acknowledged.16 As it turns out, the Jeroboam narrative is better understood by means of this more dynamic understanding of power, and consequently, the rupture of the Israelite kingdom can be perceived in a different light. Second, the notion of Jeroboam’s portrayal as a rebel needs some clarification—and this is where I am arguing that Jeroboam is perhaps the most misunderstood character in the Hebrew Bible. Of course, all interpreters agree that he is a rebel, but what needs to be revisited is that Jeroboam is, at the outset, a rebel with a cause authorized by God. The rebellion of Jeroboam, then, commences with all the legitimacy of divine sanction, as he (and soon others) protest against Solomon’s imperialism and oppression. The idea that God raises up rebels in the Hebrew Bible is not a commonly held assumption, but it is through this understanding of Jeroboam’s characterization that the central theological and political facets of the narrative are refracted. Navigating the turbulent political waters of the DH has been aided by the

appearance of a recent monograph by Gordon McConville. McConville’s thesis is more subversive than it may appear, as he commences his study with the following assertion: “A suspicious world regards the Bible as serving the interests of those who promote it, powerful élites, insiders excluding outsiders, and so doubts its capacity to be the vehicle of radical critique.” He continues: “And an influential voice within biblical scholarship gives credence to this suspicious attitude, with its thesis that the Old Testament was born in an act of self–assertion by an élite group in post–exilic Judah, pressing its claim to land and status over against other contenders.”17 Far from self–assertion, a key pillar in McConville’s proposal is that the Hebrew Bible functions as a vehicle for cultural critique, and not just of imperial superpowers such as Assyria and Babylon, but preeminently as self–critical of Israel itself. He also talks a great deal about the transitory nature of kingship in Israel and “the provisionality of particular structures of power.”18 Further, more often than not Israel’s kings represented a tyranny of sorts, yet consistently encountered “prophetic resistance” as the prophetic body responded with “a dissident, Yahwistic strain.”19 The opposition of prophet/king is a significant part of the monarchic story, and unquestionably one of the most important power dynamics in the Jeroboam narrative.20 Not all of McConville’s discussion is relevant for my purposes—he spends a good deal of time tracing the themes of power from Genesis onward, calling the entire text “the Primary History”—but I will engage several of his proposals that are outlined in his chapter on Kings. At a pivotal place in Israel’s royal history the Jeroboam narrative stands at the crossroads. The nation’s political landscape irrevocably changes because of Jeroboam’s rebellion, but his leadership is propelled by divine sanction and spearheaded by the prophet Ahijah of Shiloh. On one level Jeroboam inherits discontent from a number of sectors, and eventually comes to lead and unite such sectors, disaffected because of Solomon’s coercion and corruption. But on another level, without Ahijah’s support there is no rebellion. How, then, does the prophet function as a rebel? Is the prophet called to be an insurrectionist, raised up by God as a counter–voice to royal fraudulence? What then is the origin of prophetic authority? Does such authority emanate from a divine mandate, or is it socially constructed? Through the interactions of Jeroboam and Ahijah, I will contend, the reader accesses a sophisticated meditation on power. Reflecting on Foucault’s arguments about the role and function of power, critical theorist Simon

Malpas explains that a given period can be “understood as a site of conflict between competing interests and discourses.”21 At the very least, 1 Kings 11– 14 features multiple levels of conflict, and such levels will be taken into account as we seek to interpret Jeroboam’s royal drama and come to grips with the dreadful crash of this memorable and underestimated character.

1 Ideologies of Kingship: Mechanisms of Power and the Reigns of Saul, David, and Solomon

During an insightful essay on the topic of prophets and royalty in ancient Israel, Peter Machinist explains that institutional monarchy was not, “after all, aboriginal in Israel, or at least in Israel’s memory. Unlike the claims advanced within the neighboring culture of Mesopotamia, the Bible makes it clear that kingship was taken up by the Israelites later in their history, following earlier polities, and then as an import that they deliberately brought in from the practice of the ‘nations’ around them.”1 The goal of this chapter is to sketch some necessary background about the rise of the monarchy in order to frame the context of the Jeroboam story. As is well documented, the transition from tribal judgeship to institutional monarchy in ancient Israel created a new social order and political economy. Kingship antedates Jeroboam by several generations, and the reigns of Saul, David, and Solomon cumulatively set in motion a litany of inequities and preferential treatment that provide the build–up to a long winter of discontent. After a few remarks about the anticipation of kingship in the Pentateuch, this chapter will discuss the reigns of Saul, David, and Solomon with primary attention to their interactions with prophets, and the characteristic use of power in each of their careers. The advent of kings produces a situation where there is confusion over property, and a switch from the “earth and its products” to “bodies and mechanisms” (as Foucault would put it). This is amply demonstrated by Saul’s favoritism toward his home tribe of Benjamin, David’s policies of provincialism and forced labor, and Solomon’s “costly ostentation” and burgeoning state apparatus—each of which is discussed in this chapter. Yet for all of these efforts, there is one mechanism that seems beyond the royal reach: the office of the prophet. Consequently, power does not reside exclusively with the king, nor with the elders of Israel; prophets appear to have a unique access to and exercise of power. The three kings

prior to Jeroboam attempt in various ways to subvert or circumvent such authority, but as we shall see, none are quite able to succeed.

Before there was any king in Israel Machinist is undoubtedly correct about the monarchy as an institution imported from the surrounding nations. Yet there are a number of passages in Genesis–Kings that imply a certain inevitability of kingship, for better or worse. Perhaps the earliest hint that kingship was going to be a part of Israel’s political landscape is tacitly included in the reiteration and expansion of a divine promise to Abraham in Genesis 17, when God declares: “I will make you into nations, and kings will come out from you.” Sarah is included in the same promise a few lines later, causing Abraham to laugh incredulously at the prospect of a husband and wife—aged 100 and 90 respectively—to enter into parenthood, let alone give birth to royalty. Still, the notion of kings in this context does not sound altogether negative; indeed, to this couple who have experienced years of sterility it might sound decidedly attractive.2 Either way, the idea of kings among Abraham’s offspring is more concretely realized, of all places, in the genealogy of Esau in Genesis 36. In the midst of a listing of Edomite rulers, the following sentence prefaces the genealogy in 36:31: “Now these are the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before any king reigned for the children of Israel.” Although a host of scholars argue that this line is a redactional insertion from the time of the Davidic monarchy or later, in its present location it must serve to anticipate the rise of kingship in Israel.3 A more cryptic foreshadowing occurs during the deathbed oracle of Jacob in Genesis 49:10. Speaking about the destiny of each of his sons, Jacob turns to Judah and announces: “The scepter will not turn aside from Judah.” Long debated by interpreters, at the very least the reader can discern that not only kings, but royalty from the tribe of Judah will be part of the future storyline. Furthermore, Israel’s kingship receives a surprising endorsement in the book of Numbers from Balaam, the foreign soothsayer. In an unexpected oracle, Balaam at least twice refers to the superiority of Israel’s kings with respect to neighboring monarchs: first in Numbers 24:7 (“his king will be higher than Agag, and his kingdom will be exalted”), then again in verse 17 (“a scepter will rise high from Israel, and it will shatter the sides of Moab”).

When considered as a group, these several texts about kingship do not sound overly negative.4 Yet the most evocative and extensive passage that presages a monarchy in Israel is found in Deuteronomy 17. Whether this is because the text is written at a later date is beside the point: in this long exposition voiced by the aged Moses, there is every indication that kingship will be a leadership paradigm fraught with tension and potential pitfalls. Since I will assume familiarity with Deuteronomy 17:14–20 in the pages ahead, here is my translation of this key text: When you come in to the land the LORD your God is giving you, and possess it, and dwell in it, and you say, “I will set a king over me like all the nations that surround me,” you must set a king over you who the LORD your God chooses. From the midst of your brothers you can set a king over you, but you are not allowed to appoint a foreign man, who is not your brother. Only he must not multiply horses for himself, or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to multiply horses, as the LORD said to you, “You must never again return on that road.” He must not multiply wives for himself, and his heart not turn aside. Silver and gold he must not multiply for himself. Then when he is seated on the throne of his kingdom, he will write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll, before the Levite priests. It will be with him, and he will read in it all the days of his life, in order that he learns to fear the LORD his God, to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them. His heart should not be exalted above his brothers, and should not turn aside from the commandment, right or left, in order that his days be long over the kingdom, he and his sons, in the midst of Israel.

A major concern in the passage includes proscribing limits of power and creating a system of accountability for the forecast king, with checks and balances and a relative equality with respect to other members of the general population. As I have implied, these words need to be kept in mind as the reader approaches later episodes of kingship. Certainly these words form part of the backdrop for Judges 9, the first flirtation with kingship in Israel’s story. The fleeting reign of Abimelech, crowned in dubious circumstances by the elders of Shechem, comes to a memorable and embarrassing conclusion, as Abimelech himself is fatally wounded when an anonymous woman drops an upper millstone on his skull. The entire fiasco acts as a pessimistic overture to monarchy, punctuated by the final sentence of the book of Judges: “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did what was upright in his own eyes” (21:25). Contained in this ominous–sounding notice is the possibility that Israel’s social and political situation could be even worse under a king, and with this sentence we transition to the formal installation of the monarchy in 1 Samuel.

The demand The above examples serve to illustrate that kingship for Israel, while inevitable, was shrouded in a measure of ambivalence. In light of Moses’ earlier pronouncement—that Israel will ask for a king at some point—the request of the elders in 1 Samuel 8:5 is not entirely unforeseen (“Behold, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now, set up a king for us, to judge us, like all the nations”). While it is not exactly clear why these denizens have to ask Samuel to appoint a king, it is probably due to his long record of service and status in the nation as a judge (1 Sam. 7:15–17), and that all Israel recognized him as a prophet (1 Sam. 3:20). For the elders, Samuel’s involvement lends legitimacy to the proceedings, instead of their acting unilaterally and installing a king under dubious circumstances, much like the head–injured Abimelech. Given that David will seek a prophet’s blessing (or permission) for building the temple in 2 Samuel 7:1, prophets have an authority that influences such public affairs. The elders’ pretext for the request—Samuel’s old age and the dishonesty of his sons—is not the whole truth, as it is later revealed that they also want a king to lead them in battle (1 Sam. 8:20). Even though part of their reasoning stems from flaws in the present leadership, Samuel takes it personally and is angered by the request, a fact that must contribute to his long tirade that forms the centerpiece of the chapter. Samuel’s truculent speech in 1 Samuel 8:11–18 is notable for two reasons here. First, Samuel states that the king will be unscrupulous, and oversee a litany of social inequities. Such corruption will take the form of accumulating property, primarily through the annexing of real estate and agricultural produce. Not only will the king “take” ( , a key word Samuel uses on four occasions in the speech) the best goods and services of the average Israelite, but he will transfer such material “to his eunuchs and servants” (8:15). Second, Samuel predicts that such autocratic confiscations will eventually result in a corporate “cry for help,” as the community realizes the folly of their decision to ask for a king, and implores God to release them from the burden. However, Samuel tersely adds, God will not rescue them from this self–inflicted disaster, and will not “answer” them on that day (8:18). Incidentally, nowhere does God say that if the people demand a king, he will not answer “on that day”; rather, he simply instructs Samuel to tell the people the “custom of the king.” Nonetheless, Samuel’s anger here indicates to the

reader—at the very least—that there will be a tension between prophet and king. The projected tension creates a difficult situation for the first king, even before the candidate—Saul of Benjamin—is formally introduced in the narrative.

You’re fired! Interpreting King Saul has proven divisive over the years, with some commentators railing against Israel’s first monarch for cultic infractions, while others are more sympathetic and point out that Samuel does not unerringly provide ideal mentorship. To be sure, there is no predecessor from whom Saul could learn, nor did he apply for this most contentious of leadership positions. In terms of Saul’s career, there are two areas that need to be discussed as part of this chapter in preparation for the Jeroboam story: Saul’s interaction with the prophet Samuel, and his use of power while he is king over Israel. Given Samuel’s hostility in chapter 8, it is not particularly surprising that there is a strained relationship between the established prophet and the neophyte king. From their earliest encounters in the narrative one senses that prophet and king will have a hard time working together. Despite Saul’s attempts at power–sharing (e.g., 1 Sam. 11:7, “Whoever does not march out after Saul and Samuel, so it will be done to his oxen!”), any chances of a peaceful coexistence are quickly extinguished. In fact, it is possible to argue that Saul is the only king of Israel to be fired twice. Although scholars vigorously debate the details, the narrative has Saul initially dethroned in 1 Samuel 13, and again in chapter 15. As one recalls, when Samuel does not arrive as promised in Gilgal during the events of chapter 13, Saul offers the sacrifice. Immediately, Samuel appears with a rejection speech. In this speech, the reader should observe, Saul is informed that his kingship was conditional on obedience, a rather important factor that is divulged only after Samuel rejects any dynastic possibility for Saul.5 The conditional nature of Saul’s reign—albeit lately announced—should be kept in mind, since Ahijah of Shiloh will make a similar announcement to Jeroboam before he ascends the throne of Israel. Furthermore, Saul’s second rejection in chapter 15 has numerous echoes with the Jeroboam story, most prominently the “ripped robe” incident. When Saul implores Samuel to return with him after the

Amalekite debacle, Samuel refuses, and turns to leave. Taking hold of the prophetic robe and ripping it, Saul then hears these words from Samuel: “The LORD has ripped the kingdom of Israel from you today, and given it to your friend, one better than you!”6 This memorable event should be kept in mind because it forms a structural analogy with the Jeroboam story of 1 Kings 11. In an ironic reversal, the ripped robe for Saul represents his firing, but for Jeroboam it is symbolically used in his hiring. Meanwhile, as Saul and Samuel interact it becomes clear that the prophet has the authority to appoint and replace the king. Compared with later kings of Israel and Judah, Saul’s abuse of power is not as bad as may be expected. Of course, for all the kings there are numerous examples of power abuse one could choose from (or at least argue for). For Israel’s first three kings I will briefly examine how each handles power, to undergird my discussion of the Jeroboam narrative to follow. In Saul’s case, there are three examples of the misuse of power that merit attention. First, during the account of his rivalry with David in 1 Samuel 18– 19, Saul uses conflict with a foreign enemy—in this case the Philistines—to further a personal agenda. Later in 2 Samuel 12, David himself will be chastised by Nathan the prophet for the same misdemeanor, so this seems to be a potential stumbling block for kings: steering public policy to pursue an individual scheme. Second, Saul undoubtedly bestows political favors and shows partiality to his own tribe, as he himself declares in 1 Samuel 22:7: “Listen up, you Benjamites! Will the son of Jesse give all of you fields and vineyards? Will he set up all of you as officers over thousands and hundreds?” Samuel warned about this kind of situation, and a host of kings will be guilty of such favoritism toward their own constituency. Third, Saul can be accused of treating the priesthood as a political entity, as witnessed in his massacre of Nob in 1 Samuel 22 (on the charges of disloyalty). In various ways, David, Solomon, and Jeroboam will all be tempted in the same direction. As a conclusion to the Saul discussion, it should be noted that all of these power violations come after his reign is rejected, reminding us that the prophet Samuel holds sway even while Saul lives and breathes.

Dynastic promise We might expect David and Samuel to have a tense relationship, since

Samuel is the one who anoints David, as he does Saul. But this is emphatically not the case, as David and Samuel are together on only two occasions. Whether Samuel mellows with age, or David is smart enough to avoid the crusty prophet, there is virtually no relationship between them. Instead, the prophet most influential in David’s career is Nathan, but in contrast to the Samuel/Saul association, Nathan only enters the drama at select times. A pair of episodes concern us here, the first of which takes place in 2 Samuel 7.7 In this prophetic encounter—one that Walter Brueggemann refers to as the “dramatic and theological center of the entire Samuel corpus”—David has ambitions to build a house (temple) for God, only to have the tables turned: God announces that he will build a house (dynasty) for David.8 2 Samuel 7:16 contains one of the most astonishing promises in the entire Hebrew Bible, as God assures David “your throne will be established forever.” Such a guarantee stands as an antithesis to Saul, who is told after his rejection that his kingdom will not be established. Moreover, the wording of this promise is integral to the Jeroboam story in 1 Kings 11, where Jeroboam is promised a similar kingdom to David’s, though predicated on obedience. On a second occasion, Nathan unfolds an amendment to this promise. After David’s murder–by–proxy of Uriah by the Ammonites in 2 Samuel 11, Nathan again delivers the prophetic word to David. While the promise is not abrogated, there is a proviso: David’s house will also be filled with strife, and from his house “evil will arise” against him (12:11). This prophetic word swiftly finds its grim realization in the narrative as Amnon rapes his sister Tamar in the very next chapter, followed by Absalom’s insurrection and hostile takeover of the throne. Unlike the prophet Samuel, Nathan is more of a background figure, and only shows up at decisive moments in the story. Nonetheless, Nathan’s authority is one that even David cannot usurp, again confirming the importance of the prophetic office in the power structure of Israel’s monarchic leadership. Just as Saul uses the power of his office to further a personal vendetta against David, so David uses his royal power—as intimated above in 2 Samuel 11—to liquidate Uriah after the adulterous liaison with Bathsheba. Nathan explicitly mentions this abuse of office in 2 Samuel 12:9, and it raises questions about David’s other blatant exploitations of power. Again like Saul, David shows favoritism toward his own tribe of Judah, as early as 1 Samuel 30:26, when he sends “portions of the spoil to the elders of Judah, his friends.” Since Judah is the very constituency who first crowns him as king in

2 Samuel 2:4, it is not unreasonable to assume a political motive on David’s part for these gifts. David, like Saul before him, also appears to treat the priesthood as a political entity. The most controversial instance is found in 2 Samuel 8:18, where, in a listing of David’s cabinet, the Hebrew text reads: “ …and David’s sons were priests” . Numerous English translations try to white-wash this example of nepotism by translating as “royal advisors,” usually with some sort of appeal to the LXX or 1 Chronicles 18:17.9 When considering such appointments alongside the litany of other abuses in David’s reign, it is possible to conclude with Gordon McConville, “Power has blinded David to the true nature of his position just as it did Saul.”10 Further comparison between the reigns of Saul and David reveals that David faced considerably more internal threats than Saul, including a pair of outright rebellions. The causes of such rebellions— Absalom, followed by Sheba son of Bicri in 2 Samuel 15–20—are no doubt multifaceted, but it can be argued that various abuses of power contribute to the lurking discontent. Bearing in mind that Absalom is himself an aspiring despot, the platform for his rebellion is built on some measure of public dissatisfaction with David, or at least takes advantage of such sentiments. A later notice in 2 Samuel 20:24, intentionally positioned right after the flames of Sheba’s revolt are extinguished, reveals David’s policy of forced labor, an initiative that becomes a toxic political problem in 1 Kings 12. The unconditional promise seems to put David’s security just beyond the reach of rebellions led by Absalom and Sheba (or the kind of prophetic rejection experienced by Saul), but there is still considerable grief and civil unrest that festers and eventually bursts just after the death of Solomon.

Costly ostentation The third royal career to briefly consider in this chapter is Solomon’s, whose involvement with prophecy and use of power also function as part of the overture to the Jeroboam story. Solomon’s first encounter with the prophetic word occurs early in his life, not long after his birth in 2 Samuel 12:24. Nathan—the prophet who earlier announces that David will have a lasting house, and that one of David’s offspring will build the temple—arrives in 12:25 with a “name–change” (Jedidiah) for the young prince, strongly signaling a unique destiny for the character. In turn, Nathan plays a crucial

role in Solomon’s attaining the throne in 1 Kings 1, though nowhere does the prophet make it explicit why he is siding with Solomon against Adonijah. Notably, Nathan does not rehash the oracle about the eternal dimensions of the Davidic house; rather David himself alludes to the promise of 2 Samuel 7 during his final words to Solomon in 1 Kings 2:4. Yet in David’s rendition the promise is conditional, whereas Nathan’s oracle was unconditional, and the reason for the modification is unclear. After 1 Kings 1 Nathan is not heard from again, and once Solomon secures the throne, prophets are conspicuously absent, leading one to speculate that such voices are not particularly welcome in his kingdom. Indeed, as Solomon’s empire expands prophetic involvement shrinks to nothing, causing one to think that the king is more interested in profits than prophets. But the comparative absence of prophetic voices in Solomon’s career relative to Saul and David is more than compensated when God speaks directly to Solomon, heightening the reader’s growing suspicion that the king has gone awry. In 1 Kings 6:11–13 there is a virtual interruption during Solomon’s construction of the temple, as God states that Solomon’s inheritance of the Davidic promise is conditional on obedience and has a corporate dimension. This divine word is followed by another in 9:3–9, with an expansion of the conditionality and explicit mention of “other gods,” along with the prospects of national disaster should a reckless course be followed. Owing to these divine words, we sense that Solomon has drifted off course, and a brief investigation of how the king uses power will confirm such suspicions. The manner in which all of Israel’s first three kings—Saul, David, and Solomon—consolidate power, placate rivals, and lead the people will surface in various ways during the Jeroboam story. In the case of Solomon, there is an unmistakable manifestation of “costly ostentation” (Foucault’s term), a burgeoning state apparatus that consistently opts for favoritism to Judah as opposed to the northern tribes.11 As James Linville notes, “Solomon might not be as careful with the fragile union between Israel and Judah as he might have been.”12 Such preferential treatment is (carto)graphically demonstrated in 1 Kings 4:7–19, with the realignment of the old tribal boundaries into more economically advantageous tax districts supervised by a bevy of pro– Solomonic appointees .13 While interpreters in the past often have presupposed a glorious reign of Solomon only marred at the end by foreign wives, more recent studies have pointed to a deeper level of literary

sophistication.14 To be sure, a key text for the older view is 1 Kings 4:20, “Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand by the sea; they ate and drank and were happy” (NRSV). What should be observed, however, is that this verse is intentionally placed immediately after the list of Solomon’s pro– Judah appointees over the new districts. As McConville explains, this verse is far more ironic than has traditionally been understood: “The picture of a numerous and contented Israel, therefore, an apparent realization of the Abrahamic promise (Gen. 15.5, cf. Deut. 1.10), is mocked by a range of factors.” McConville enumerates these factors as follows: “the application of ‘wisdom’ to the murder of enemies, the construction of a military machine, the securing of power by means of alliance, national wealth in the service of the king’s own grandeur at the expense of the citizens’ freedom of action, and a ‘chosen place’ intended for communal worship by the tribes of Israel now becomes the capital of a centralized and self–protecting state.”15 In a number of respects, then, Solomon enhances the abuses of Saul and David with respect to tribal patronage and the use of Israel’s cultic appurtenances for his own political gains.16 But Solomon also exceeds these two previous kings with egregious violations of Deuteronomy 17, as 1 Kings 10:14–15 (Solomon’s vast collection of gold) and 10:26–28 (the accumulation of horses, some even imported from Egypt) reveal. Following the argument of Marvin Sweeney, one can conclude that the Solomon story is far more of a critique than a historical celebration, and an adumbration of excesses and failures rather than the chronicle of a Golden Age.17 As far as the legacy bequeathed to his successor, Solomon’s systematic alienation of the north created much vexation, that, as we will see in 1 Kings 12, explodes merely days after his death.

Conclusion It could be assumed the advent of kingship would lead to a new era for centralized power in Israel, but the material in Samuel–Kings suggests a more complex dynamic. As well as the rise of the king and his court as a power center, there is a corresponding rise of prophetic power that may not have been anticipated. From the outset, kings are involved in a power struggle, so to speak, and there is a network of prophetic relationships and levels of accountability. Saul learns of this power struggle the hard way, and is fired

on two occasions. Samuel’s long speech in 1 Samuel 8 is primarily about the potential for royal abuse of office, and although Saul is guilty of some of these crimes, his firings are for completely different reasons. Although David does not come under the sway of Samuel to anywhere near the extent of Saul, he too has his prophetic problems, and never quite recovers from Nathan’s censure in the first half of 2 Samuel 12. Prophets are practically silent during Solomon’s reign, but when God speaks words of denunciation, it is enough to split the kingdom. Despite the rise of kingship in Israel, there is a key mechanism that lies outside the royal purview, and power does not lie solely with the king, nor with the elders or the people at large (the “body politic”). Prophets have a unique access to and exercise of power; the king may aim to subvert this, but it is the mechanism that (although possibly subject to temporary suspension) is beyond the royal reach. From the outset there are limitations on royal power, and when the king acts independently from the prophetic counsel, a host of problems ensue. This reality is necessary to bear in mind as we now formally turn to the Jeroboam narrative.

2 Souls of Revolt: Solomon’s Adversaries and the Flashback to Jeroboam

Where power is exercised, inevitably there is resistance. Yet Foucault stresses in The History of Sexuality that there is “no single locus of great Refusal, no soul of revolt, source of all rebellions, or pure law of the revolutionary. Instead there is a plurality of resistances, each of them a special case.”1 Such an idea has currency for this study because in 1 Kings 5 Solomon boasts to Hiram of Tyre that his kingdom is full of peace and without any “adversary (satan).” This lofty rhetoric is severely undermined later in the story: after God’s indictment of Solomon for high crimes and idolatrous misdemeanors in 11:9–13, it is revealed that the king actually had a trio of adversaries during his reign—implying that anti–Solomon revolt proceeded from numerous sectors. Two of these adversaries (Hadad of Edom and Rezon of Damascus) are foreigners, but Jeroboam is local. In fact, the introduction of Jeroboam occurs in the form of a flashback, where the reader is acquainted with his provenance and promotion in Solomon’s empire. An initial mystery that surrounds Jeroboam is status: is he from the north (Ephraim) or the south (Judah)? Is he an elite member of the establishment and privileged associate of Solomon’s court, or a dissident outsider with a tribal grievance against the regime? To my mind, the ideologically charged issue of Jeroboam’s tribal membership has not been sufficiently explored by scholars, but it is central to the ironic dimension of the overall storyline. A second section of this chapter addresses a key narrative turning point. The most gripping event in Jeroboam’s early career takes place just outside the city of Jerusalem, where he is accosted by Ahijah the prophet and given a stunning oracle. This part of the chapter discusses aspects of the story such as the identity of Ahijah, the content of his oracle to Jeroboam, and the violent reaction of Solomon. Does Ahijah target Jeroboam randomly, or, as several scholars have been arguing recently, is there a more complex set of motives

surrounding Ahijah’s activity? This chapter also features some reflections on the motif of clothing in this episode, the surveillance of Solomon and Jeroboam’s Egyptian sponsorship, as well as further thoughts on prophetic power. Part of the reason that prophets have power seems to reside in the realm of knowledge; that is, prophets have access to knowledge that gives them unique advantages. Further, prophets like Ahijah are “free agents,” generally speaking, and not on the royal payroll; at least in some cases, this appears to give them latitude to speak against the empire because of their position as outsiders.

Tabloid scandal Whenever a tabloid newspaper (or its digital surrogate) uncovers a murky moment in some celebrity’s past, it causes a stir and invariably generates revenue for the publisher. King Solomon—a royal celebrity in Israel if there ever was one—has such a skeleton in his spacious marital closet. If any reader is doubting the endemic corruption of Solomon’s empire, then a little–known fact from Solomon’s background will arrive as a bombshell of revelation. In terms of background, 1 Kings 11:1–3 details a vast harem belonging to the king, cosmopolitan and eclectic. It is often supposed that the seeds of this harem are initially sown in chapter 3, as Solomon becomes a son–in–law to the king of Egypt. If historians are correct that Egyptian potentates did not enter into such marriage alliances lightly, then Solomon’s prestige would no doubt increase through this kind of arrangement.2 Never mind that the Torah forbids such liaisons; for Solomon, the marriage with the Egyptian princess marks his arrival on the international stage, the announcement of his pyramid scheme to be a global player.3 The bombshell, however, is this: Pharaoh’s daughter is not Solomon’s first wife. That distinction belongs to Naamah the Ammonitess, a matter deduced through some straightforward textual calculations: 1 Kings 11:42, the time that Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel was forty years. 1 Kings 14:21, then Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty–one years old when he began to reign … and his mother’s name was Naamah the Ammonitess.

Based on these two texts, Rehoboam was born before Solomon ascended the throne, and thus it stands to reason that Solomon also was married to Naamah prior to his accession. As Mordechai Cogan notes, “It is tempting to identify Naamah as one of Solomon’s foreign wives (cf. 11:1), but Rehoboam was forty–one when he took the throne, which means that Solomon married Naamah while he was still a prince at his father’s court.”4 Such a statistic reveals an intriguing possibility, floated by a few scholars in the past: namely, that David arranged this marriage for Solomon. On the one hand, such an idea is plausible when one considers the multiple levels of court intrigue and political factions in 1 Kings 1:1–10, with various parties vying for supremacy as David cannot keep warm. On the other hand, and more poignantly from my point of view in this study, is that such a marriage arrangement violates various injunctions in the Torah against such alliances. The reader is now led to believe that layers of compromise are present when Solomon assumes the throne, and while many are of his own making, he also inherits a corrosive legacy from his father. Consequently, when God speaks words of judgment against Solomon in 1 Kings 11:9–13, it is after a long period of persistent misconduct.

The replacement The Saul paradigm makes it clear that leaders can be deposed. While David is promised a lasting dynasty in 2 Samuel 7:16, Nathan’s amendment in 2 Samuel 12:10–11 indicates that strife and conflict will not turn aside from David’s house, even if God’s commitment is unwavering. The reader certainly has reasons to feel uneasy about Solomon in 1 Kings 1–10, but the entire façade crumbles in chapter 11, as a catalogue of further fraudulence is unveiled. Beginning with the mind–numbing disclosure that Solomon had 700 wives (indicating a sprawling network of alliances, one suspects), these marriages are accompanied by a legion of idolatrous activities and deflation of singular enthusiasm toward Israel’s historic traditions (e.g., monotheism). The case against Solomon moves to a climax with a judgment speech in 11:11–13—from God, who has directly warned the king in the past— brimming with foreshadowing moments for the rest of chapter 11 and beyond: Because this is with you, and you have not kept my covenant and

my statutes that I commanded you, I am about to rip the kingdom from you and give it to your servant. Except that in your days I will not do it, on account of your father David: from the hand of your son I will rip it. Only I will not rip the entire kingdom: one tribe I will give to your son, because of David my servant, and because of Jerusalem, which I have chosen. Alluding to the language of previous warnings, this divine speech represents an unequivocal announcement that the kingdom will be splintered due to covenant infidelities. Solomon’s son will assume the throne, but will reign over an amputated portion of the nation. At the same time, the speech is not without some dry irony: when God uses the term “tribe” it “implies a rejection of Solomon’s restructuring of Israel into administrative districts that do not follow traditional tribal boundaries.”5 But this speech looks forward as much as it looks back; as Burke Long summarizes, “In context, this particular theological review was intended to provide a darkened horizon for the disruptions to follow.”6 As an introduction to the next major phase of the storyline, the keywords “hand” and “rip” are used, and both terms frequently appear in the events that follow. More immediate, though, is that the general identity of Solomon’s replacement is divulged: one of his servants. The reader is immediately reminded of David, one of Saul’s servants who was chosen as the king’s successor, and hence the divine speech functions as an important moment of foreshadowing. According to a standard definition, foreshadowing is a deliberate authorial technique that involves “the presentation of material in a work in such a way that later events are prepared for. Foreshadowing can result from the establishment of a mood or atmosphere, as in the opening of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, or the first act of Hamlet.” Furthermore, foreshadowing “can result from an event that adumbrates the later action, as does the scene with the witches at the beginning of Macbeth. It can result from the appearance of physical objects or facts, as the clues do in a detective story, or from the revelation of a fundamental and decisive character trait, as in the opening chapter of Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth.”7 What needs to be grasped in 11:11–13, then, is that Solomon’s replacement will have a career trajectory not dissimilar to David—an underling who was appointed by a prophet of Shiloh to inherit the Israelite kingdom.

Rebel yells “The story of Hadad the Edomite,” states J. R. Bartlett, “is of great interest to the student of Edomite affairs.”8 Bartlett then proceeds to adumbrate the archival value of this “circumstantial account” in 1 Kings 11:14–22, and focuses specifically on its role and potential for historical reconstruction of the period. Indeed, it is fair to say that most previous scholars working on Kings—alongside those students of Edomite affairs—would have approached the Hadad episode mainly from a historical vantage point. But for the student of narrative criticism I would also submit that there are some matters of interest in the account of Hadad (and Rezon in 11:23–25), especially in terms of structural arrangement and the use of temporal dislocation. Why, in other words, is much of the material in 11:14–25 presented as a flashback to earlier years in the reigns of David and Solomon? Furthermore, neither Hadad nor Rezon is described as doing anything that seems overtly adversarial with respect to Solomon, so there must be other reasons for this narrative digression. The LORD raised up an adversary for Solomon: Hadad the Edomite. He was from the royal seed in Edom. When David was in Edom, when Joab captain of the army went up to bury the dead, he struck down every male in Edom. For six months Joab and all Israel stayed there, until he cut off every male in Edom. Then Hadad, with some Edomite servants of his father, went to Egypt, and Hadad was just a young lad. They arose from Midian, went to Paran, and took men with them from Paran. They entered Egypt, and came to Pharaoh king of Egypt, who gave him a house, provided food for him, and gave him land. As Israel’s immediate neighbor to the southeast, and descendants of their eponymous ancestor Esau, the Edomites are periodically mentioned in biblical texts ranging from Genesis to the post–exilic period. Most recently in the DH, Doeg the Edomite was Saul’s chief shepherd, and a significant minor character in 1 Samuel 21–22. But in the immediate context of 1 Kings 11, one can deduce that the flashback to Hadad’s story during the reign of David has several unique purposes. First, this episode that features Joab’s activities

is not explicitly recorded elsewhere. A number of commentators point to 2 Samuel 8:13–14 as the intertext, itself a fairly violent and aggressive campaign against Edom, but not much more can be stated with confidence. There must be a substantial Edomite threat that demands six months of Joab’s attention, unless this is an act of muscle–flexing hubris. At the very least it causes the reader to wonder what other events took place during David’s reign that have long–term consequences or future implications; indeed, a central point here is that numerous later problems originate from David’s foreign policy. More important, however, is the cluster of allusions to great stories of Israel’s traditions in the Hadad account. Such allusions have caught the attention of recent scholars, who tend to highlight the intentionality of connections between Hadad’s adventures and the lives of famous Israelites. Choon Leong Seow gives a typical assessment: “Elements of the story—the reference to Midian, the birth of a child in Egypt, the raising of the child by an Egyptian queen in the Egyptian palace—find echo in the story of Moses, the mediator through whom God had freed the Israelites.”9 Such echoes continue in the rest of the Hadad account of 11:19–22: Hadad found great favor in the eyes of Pharaoh, and he gave him a wife—the sister of his own wife, the sister of Tahphenes the queen. The sister of Tahphenes gave birth to his son Genubath, whom Tahphenes weaned in the midst of Pharaoh’s house. So Genubath was in Pharaoh’s house, in the midst of Pharaoh’s sons. Now when Hadad heard in Egypt that David lay down with his fathers, and that Joab captain of his host was dead, Hadad said to Pharaoh, “Send me away, that I may go to my land.” Pharaoh said to him, “What have you lacked with me that you should now be seeking to go to your land?” He said, “No, but you must surely send me.” In addition to the parallels between Hadad and Moses (surviving a purge, impressive escape, period of wilderness wandering and survival), there are also some allusions to the Joseph story in 1 Kings 11:14–22 (as Hadad prospers in Egypt, becomes the object of Pharaoh’s attention, and is given a wife).10 There is a reason for this structural arrangement, whereby the cluster of allusions to the Torah in Hadad’s career is presented immediately after the indictment against Solomon. In the first instance, the Hadad account serves to deflate earlier Solomonic rhetoric—both in the realm of his public utterances

and correspondence with monarchs from other nations. Solomon frequently mentions God raising up the dynasty of David, but it now is evident that God also can raise up adversaries against that very same dynasty. This theological dimension—God working against an apparent favorite, who loses favor at some point—recurs in the story of Jeroboam, so such contours need to be kept in mind. But more immediately, the accounts of Hadad and Rezon play a key role in contextualizing the coming rebellion, showing several different foci of disgruntlement. The rebellion(s) against Solomon come from numerous sectors, and evidently God does not hesitate to deploy foreigners against the crooked kings of Judah. Notably, the foreshadowing dimension we hear in the divine speech of 11:11–13 (i.e., the rise of the “servant” and the dismantling of the kingdom) is continued here in the accounts of the adversaries, Hadad and Rezon. As will become clear, Jeroboam the rebel—raised up by God in ways not dissimilar to Hadad and Rezon—is structurally introduced and prefigured through the précis of these other careers. Just as Hadad finds refuge in Egypt when fleeing from Davidic violence, so Jeroboam will have a similar experience, as both characters benefit from Pharaoh’s sponsorship and eventually return to their respective nations after “hearing” reports that are politically favorable to their own interests. With Hadad, we are not told why he is the recipient of Pharaonic benevolence (though one suspects that an anti–David program is at work). Instead, we are told how Hadad is favored: he is given a wife. Back in 1 Kings 3 the reader may have thought an Egyptian marriage alliance to be a singularly Solomonic achievement. Courtesy of this flashback to Hadad, however, one can now conclude that Hadad too enjoyed a power marriage to a high–ranking member of the Egyptian royal family. Historians debate whether Hadad and Solomon share the same father–in–law, but I am not sure that the central issue is the precise identity of the Pharaoh.11 Instead, Hadad’s marriage indicates that Solomon’s stock, to borrow an economic metaphor, trades at an inflated price while he reigns over Israel. For Solomon, this marriage alliance between Hadad and Pharaoh rather deconstructs his pretensions, and what Solomon may have reckoned as a source of security actually has all the stability of a house of cards or a bruised reed. Also, assuming that Egyptian potentates did not make marriage alliances easily, the deal with Hadad shows Pharaoh’s calculations, and further anticipates that Egypt will continue to be a refuge for anti–Davidic personnel.

A number of scholars have been vexed by a curious anomaly in the Hadad account; namely, he is not pictured as doing anything particularly adversarial toward Solomon. The first part of his story highlights his survival, and the second part describes his relationship with Pharaoh. At exactly the point where something seditious might boil over, the dialogue between Hadad and Pharaoh seemingly breaks off. Either there is a textual corruption, as some have argued, or the narrative is designed to end on this suspended note. I would incline toward the latter option. Hadad is remarkably passive for a good portion of the narrative, causing the reader to pursue other interpretive possibilities. Of course, the very presence of Hadad in Pharaoh’s court could be construed as adversarial, with respect to Solomon’s interests. More plausibly, by concluding the Hadad episode without resolution, attention is directed toward the next episodes in the chapter. In the Rezon account of 1 Kings 11:23–25 we can observe a number of parallels to the career of David. Together, the flashbacks to Hadad and Rezon not only further the critique of Solomon, but also anticipate several key lineaments of Jeroboam’s characterization. God raised up yet another adversary, Rezon son of Eliada, who fled from his master Hadadezer king of Zobah. He gathered men for himself and became captain of a raiding party (after David killed them), and they went to Damascus, lived there, and reigned in Damascus. He was an adversary to Israel all the days of Solomon, and the evil of Hadad. He loathed Israel, and reigned over Aram. Like Hadad, Rezon is a minor character and the details in 11:23–25 can easily be overlooked. From the perspective of narrative criticism, I would contend that the Rezon flashback enriches the Jeroboam drama to come in several tangible ways. This account serves, once more, to illustrate how David’s foreign and domestic policies bequeathed a legacy that became problematic for Solomon’s kingdom.12 Along with forced labor and favoritism toward Judah, David certainly did not make it easy for his successor. But lest one simply blame the antecedent, the account of Rezon demonstrates that Solomon himself is not without culpability: Solomon’s own policies undermine his kingdom. As Peter Leithart points out, back in 1 Kings 10 Israel actually backed the Arameans with military equipment: “Ironically, Solomon provides arms to the very Arameans ruled by Rezon

(10:29). Solomon gives his ‘satan’ the weapons to fight him.”13 Solomon boasts to Hiram king of Tyre in 1 Kings 5:4 [Heb. 5:18] “there is no adversary ( , satan) or chance of evil,” but such bombast is flatly contradicted here, as Rezon was an adversary all the days of Solomon. Furthermore, Israel’s king is at least partially responsible for the military strength of Rezon, so in effect Solomon becomes his own worst adversary. This kind of self–inflicted disaster dovetails with another deeply ironic component of the narrative: while Solomon is busy building worship installations for foreign deities, the Deity whom Solomon forsakes is raising up foreign adversaries like Rezon of Damascus. Several aspects of Rezon’s career resonate with some key moments in David’s rise, and I would suggest this looks forward to the rise of Jeroboam in the next section of 1 Kings 11. Straightaway one notices a striking congruity between Rezon and David’s wilderness years in 1 Samuel. Rezon’s tension with Hadadezer king of Zobah recalls David’s tension with Saul, resulting in a fugitive period as a freebooter in the desert. During this period, Rezon gathers followers much like David, who becomes a captain of a guerilla unit consisting of soldiers disaffected from Saul. Rezon is crowned king and establishes his capital of Damascus, just as David assumes the kingship over Israel and conquers Jerusalem as his new capital (renaming it the City of David). A key narrative purpose can now be discerned. God raises up an adversary with allusions to David (his history, capital, and dynasty) immediately before introducing the character who will be a key instrument in the ripping apart of that same kingdom: Jeroboam. Notably, Jeroboam will follow a similar career path as both David and Rezon. Solomon’s replacement—the as–yet unspecified servant—is prefigured as something of a new David, and is thus enveloped in a cloud of great expectations. This narrative structure lends great legitimacy to Solomon’s replacement, and illustrates that his agency has divine support.

The servant’s address The divine judgment against Solomon reveals that the kingdom will be torn away from him and given to his subordinate. According to the word spoken in 11:12, this ripping event will not take place during Solomon’s lifetime, but will instead transpire during the days of his son. One may have thought that

the long–expected servant would be introduced after Solomon’s death, but such is not the case. Although Solomon’s death has not been reported, the servant is formally introduced by means of a flashback while the king still lives and reigns. The narrative digression of Hadad and Rezon, I have argued, actually serves to profile this servant, who in 11:26 finally enters the narrative: “Now Jeroboam son of Nebat was an Ephratite from Zeredah, and his mother’s name was Zeruah, a widow. He was a servant of Solomon, and he raised a hand against the king.” Set apart by a noun clause, the disjunctive syntax of the Hebrew text is designed to draw attention to this new character. The reader sees directly that Jeroboam is not defined as an “adversary” in the same way as the two foreigners Rezon and Hadad; instead, his familial and tribal identification is highlighted, as well as his position in Solomon’s administration. All but one tribe of the kingdom will be given to a servant, and 1 Kings 11:26 indicates that Jeroboam son of Nebat is that servant. A pair of controversial issues quickly emerge from the opening words of 11:26. First, is Jeroboam from “Ephraim,” as standard translations such as the NIV and NRSV would lead us to believe? Or is Jeroboam an “Ephratite” from the southern region of Judah (the same area that David is from)? Jeroboam’s provenance makes a difference, as Solomon is known for advancing southern interests, and such partisanship forms the core of later grievances in 1 Kings 12. Second, how exactly does Jeroboam rebel (literally “lift his hand”) against the king? The most recent character to lift a hand against the king is Sheba son of Bicri in 2 Samuel 20, who ends up losing his head in memorable fashion. Is Jeroboam a rebel like Sheba, or a servant who participates in a rather different kind of rebellion against his superior? Again, reputable translations make it sound as though Jeroboam is promoted because of his competence in building projects, but it has recently been argued that military expertise is also suggested in 11:27–28, and such matters need to be carefully evaluated before the reader moves on to a very fateful day in Israel’s history in the next scene (11:29–40). To begin with Jeroboam’s tribal affiliation, the matter is complicated due to the designation “Ephratite” . As noted above, translators routinely emend the term to “Ephraimite” because of its use in passages such as Judges 12:5 where it is used in reference to members of the tribe of Ephraim. But when one consults texts such as Ruth 1:2, the same term—Ephratite—is used for a family from Bethlehem of Judah. Most recently in the DH, both Samuel

(1 Sam. 1:1) from Ephraim and David (1 Sam. 17:12) from Judah have the term Ephratite in their respective genealogies. Such differences cause Robert Gordon to conclude that there are two distinct uses for the term Ephratite: one “as a gentilic for Ephraimite,” and the other as “a sub–phratry within the tribe of Judah. These latter Ephrathites,” Gordon notes, “lived in Bethlehem and environs (cf. 1 Chron. 4:4).”14 Gordon’s explanation is thus helpful for interpreting Jeroboam’s home address. Assuming the dual usage of the term Ephratite, we can now see the purpose behind the mention of Zeredah in 11:26: Zeredah is used to clarify Jeroboam’s northern status. As Zeredah evidently points to a northern locale (cf. 2 Chron. 4:17), Jeroboam’s Ephraimite roots do not seem to be in question. Accordingly, there must be other reasons why the term Ephratite is used in Jeroboam’s introduction. I would argue that “Ephratite” in 1 Kings 11:26 is a more expansive term than previously has been appreciated, and it has more than a strictly geographical usage. To be sure, the geographic dimension is one component, but another aspect is that the term Ephratite evokes a set of associations— specifically, with Samuel and David—and has implications for Jeroboam’s characterization. By labeling Jeroboam as an Ephratite, the reader is invited to compare the emergence of Jeroboam to the rise of Samuel. A principal event in Samuel’s career is the toppling of the Elide dynasty, hereditary leaders who were removed from office due to brazen delinquency. In many respects, Jeroboam will be to the Davidic dynasty what Samuel was to the house of Eli. Similarly, Jeroboam’s rise parallels David, in that both are competent underlings who are promoted by their respective kings. The Ephratite designation signals affinities with David: the reader has had hints that the “servant” will be a new David, and such hints now receive further confirmation. Consequently, I would add that emending the text to read “Ephraimite” in 11:26 obscures the idea that “Ephratite” is more than just a geographical reference. However well intentioned, emending the text in this instance hides the multi–valence of the term and its role in Jeroboam’s characterization.15 The term “Ephratite” in 11:26 has ramifications for understanding Jeroboam and creates a series of expectations in the reader’s mind. Likewise, the other components of 11:26—the parental information and the meaning of the name “Jeroboam”—also have a role in Jeroboam’s initial characterization. In Hebrew narrative it is actually quite rare to have both parents mentioned in a character’s introduction. Yet this is what happens with

Jeroboam: his father is Nebat and his mother is the widow Zeruah. The purpose of this parental notice is to highlight Jeroboam’s roots: the description of his parents does not imply a powerful or well–connected family, not part of the Jerusalem elite, nor the typical recipients of Solomonic favor. The list of district governors in 1 Kings 4:7–19 indicates that those closest to the royal court stand the best chance to benefit from Solomon’s largesse; mention of the widow Zeruah in 11:26 suggests, on the contrary, that Jeroboam’s rise is not a matter of relational advantage. The specific mention of Jeroboam’s mother raises two other matters. First, her classification as a widow causes the reader to infer that she was Jeroboam’s primary caregiver; since Nebat evidently died when Jeroboam was younger, it means that his father probably was not active in securing his son’s advancement. This notice further points to Jeroboam’s outsider status, and any promotion in Solomon’s kingdom would strictly have been on merit rather than paternal advocacy. Second, the mention of a character’s mother is not common.16 For J. T. Walsh, the unusual notice of Jeroboam’s mother brings to mind an earlier rivalry: “So far two royal mothers have been named in 1 Kings, Solomon’s and Adonijah’s, both in the context of their sons’ potential for becoming king. Later, as we shall see, whenever a king succeeds to the throne of David, his mother’s name will be given. Naming Jeroboam’s mother here,” Walsh concludes, “is a subtle prefiguring of his royal destiny.”17 At the same time, a contrast emerges between Jeroboam and Rehoboam, as Jeroboam’s lineage underscores his Israelite pedigree, in contrast to Rehoboam who has an Ammonite mother.18 Rehoboam is the product of a power marriage, a foreign alliance in the sphere of international political relations; Jeroboam represents an antithesis, further highlighting his outsider status. As introduced in 11:26, Jeroboam’s parents apparently are the opposite of power brokers close to the royal court—unlike many of Solomon’s other appointments and promotions. It will emerge in due course that with Jeroboam God raises up an outsider to contest the powerful elite of Solomon’s franchise. The reader now glimpses a wry irony in the meaning of Jeroboam’s name , usually translated as “may the people multiply!” Michael Oblath has observed a series of wordplay images with the components of Jeroboam’s name in Exodus 1.19 To extend Oblath’s argument, one implication of the wordplay is that Pharaoh king of Egypt is equated, in some measure, with Solomon. On several levels Jeroboam’s name

has a symbolic appropriateness, and he is a servant in an administration which—like Pharaoh in Exodus 1—has a vested interest in building and expansion. As a reminder of Solomon’s tyranny, Jeroboam’s name foreshadows his own destiny as one who will lead an expanded people away from an internal enslavement. As the servant who is raised up as an instrument of divine justice against Solomon, Jeroboam of Ephraim is not a member of the fraternity usually favored by the king. It is important to stress that Jeroboam’s northern affiliation is not presented disparagingly at this point in the story, as some commentators imply. Jeroboam’s locale makes him something of an outlier, and also contributes to a rich intertextual connection: like Saul, Solomon unwittingly empowers his (secret) successor, similarly appointed by a prophet from Shiloh.

A lifted hand The second issue raised in 11:26 is the problematic phrase stating that Jeroboam “raised a hand against the king” . On this issue commentators offer a dizzying array of hypotheses, with one theory rebelling against the other. To cite but one example, Volkmar Fritz postulates that “the description of the conflict between Solomon and Jeroboam was broken off when the prophetic narrative (vv. 29–39) was included. Instead of a personal dispute we thus find a new justification of the historical events expressed by a divine word.”20 By “broken off” I assume that Fritz is describing some regrettable scribal mishap during the redactional process; but still, is it possible that the text makes sense as it stands? The difficulty, of course, is that no quantifiable rebellion is described. Instead, the reader is given the circumstances of Jeroboam’s promotion in verses 27–28: This was the word that caused him to raise a hand against the king. Solomon built the Millo, and closed a breach in the city of David his father. Now the man Jeroboam was a man of valor. Solomon saw the young man—that he was a hard worker—and he appointed him over all the forced labor of the house of Joseph. Setting aside for a moment verse 27a (“This was the word”), the rest of verse 27 provides a fairly detailed account of Solomon’s building program in a

certain urban sector. The Millo is usually understood as some sort of defense structure in the city of Jerusalem, and this project is where Jeroboam is employed. This is not the first time that the Millo has been mentioned in the narrative. Back in 1 Kings 9:15 the Millo is referred to along with other projects that Solomon built using forced labor, and the Millo is again mentioned in 9:24. Based on these references, David Glatt calculates that the project was undertaken in Solomon’s twenty–fourth year.21 The significance of such a statistic, to my mind, would be that Jeroboam’s rise to prominence begins after the two direct divine warnings to Solomon in 6:11–13 and 9:3–9. Therefore, Jeroboam is further revealed to be an instrument of justice after Solomon has been given ample latitude to reform. It is during the repairs to the breach and the building of the Millo that Jeroboam attracts Solomon’s attention. Described by the narrator as a (“hero of strength”), this phrase is used on a number of occasions as designation for characters in biblical Hebrew. Other examples include Jephthah in Judges 11:1, Boaz in Ruth 2:1, Kish (Saul’s father) in 1 Samuel 9:1, and Naaman (commander of the army of the king of Syria) in 2 Kings 5:1. Based on these examples, scholars deduce that the phrase refers to either a warrior (as in the cases of Jephthah and Naaman) or a property–owner (as in the cases of Boaz and Kish). As for what the designation means in Jeroboam’s case, commentators can be found on both sides; some argue that because Jeroboam’s mother is a widow, Jeroboam inherits the family property, while others maintain that warrior–like qualities are stressed in 11:28. In either scenario, both meanings of the phrase “hero of strength” will be applicable to Jeroboam in the days ahead: he will be both a man of war whose troops battle against Judah’s military, and a man of considerable property holdings (the northern tribes). Just as Saul promotes David after benefiting from his skillful playing, so Solomon promotes Jeroboam when he sees that he is an industrious worker. Since Solomon has 700 wives and 300 concubines—and presumably, therefore, not a lot of spare time on his hands—catching the king’s eye is no mean feat. Jeroboam is promoted because he is proficient at helping Solomon with his self–aggrandizing program, and becomes head over the forced labor (or “burden,” ) of the house of Joseph. Given Jeroboam’s Ephraimite ancestry, this is a natural appointment. When considering that Solomon dissolves the tribal boundaries in favor of new taxation districts, it is notable

that Jeroboam is placed over the house of Joseph, which seems like a throwback to earlier days. Ironically, grievance over forced labor—along with a bevy of other injuries—will be the official cause whereby the house of Joseph and the other northern tribes reject the leadership of the house of David, and propel Jeroboam to the forefront. Indeed, “house” will become an even more politically charged term in 1 Kings 12. Returning to the problematic phrase of verse 27a—“This was the word that caused him to raise a hand against the king”—we are now in a position to assay what this means. As mentioned, a number of commentators presume that an original rebellion report has inexplicably “broken off,” but there are compelling reasons for eschewing this supposition. Mordechai Cogan notes that the exact phrase “lifted a hand” only occurs here, but further adds that similar expressions are used in the uprisings of Absalom and Sheba.22 Consequently, when we first read that Jeroboam raises a hand against the king, it appears as though he is a typical rebel in the same mold as Abner, Absalom, Sheba, and others who follow. After surveying the rest of 1 Kings 11, however, the reader ascertains that Jeroboam’s “rebellion” is not in the same genre as other uprisings, where an underling attempts to seize power from a superior. Jeroboam’s rebellion, in contrast to the others, is orchestrated by God through the hand of Ahijah the prophet. Richard Nelson gives a helpful summary: “Historically minded scholars quite properly look for the cause of the division of the kingdom in Solomon’s inequitable forced labor practices (12:4), but the narrator insists otherwise. Causation is to be sought in God’s historical will and the communication of the will through the prophetic word.”23 It becomes evident that Jeroboam’s raised hand will be radically different than that of Sheba or Absalom, since he is divinely sponsored to raise his hand against Solomon’s corruption. As God raises up the two foreign adversaries Hadad and Rezon, so God raises up Jeroboam’s hand by means of the prophetic word. As we see in the next paragraph (11:29–39), the rebellion is set in motion through the word of Ahijah, the prophet of Shiloh, in a clandestine meeting outside the city of Jerusalem.

Dressed for success Throughout the DH prophetic appointments of kings are not uncommon, and while such narratives often exhibit unexpected variety and unique contours,

there are also a fund of shared motifs and patterns. Accordingly, it is possible to identify several intriguing similarities between the anointing of David in 1 Samuel 16 and the appointment of Jeroboam in 1 Kings 11. In both episodes, a new king is announced, and the replacement process is transacted by a prophet of Shiloh in relative privacy. Since the incumbent king still reigns, both episodes are infused with an ambiance of implied danger. If there have been hints that Jeroboam is to be something of a new David, then parallels to the respective investitures by Samuel and Ahijah further point to this very possibility. Even so, there are other elements of Jeroboam’s encounter with Ahijah that serve to individuate the character, as can be detected in 11:29–30: Now at that time, as Jeroboam was going out from Jerusalem, the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him on the road. He had clothed himself in a new garment, and the two of them were alone in the open country. Then Ahijah took hold of the new garment that was on him, and ripped it into twelve ripped pieces. Solomon is not the only person for whom Jeroboam becomes an object of attention: the prophet Ahijah also singles out Jeroboam for a quite different kind of promotion. The lengthy scene (11:29–40) of Jeroboam’s investiture by Ahijah begins with a temporal notice “at that time,” presumably the time of Solomon’s building projects and of Jeroboam’s elevation over the burden of the Joseph tribes. It is easy to spot the irony here: at the time when Jeroboam is vaulted into prominence by the king, he is also appointed to replace that very same king. But “at that time” could also refer to the time of Solomon’s building projects, as early as the twenty–fourth year of his reign. By extension, Solomon’s replacement is appointed prior to, one assumes, the divine speech of 11:11–13. Such timing points to the severity of Solomon’s malfeasance from the earliest days of his reign, and his systematic refusal to heed the earlier warnings. If the reader has been tempted to underestimate the crimes of Solomon, then “at that time” should lay such sentimentality to rest. Glancing ahead to the end of the chapter, it is fitting that Jeroboam’s appointment as the principal inheritor of Solomon’s kingdom takes place just as he is walking out of Jerusalem. Commentators proffer a number of opinions as to why Jeroboam is marching out of the city, ranging from a random peregrination to a more subversive jaunt. What cannot be denied is the symbolic dimension of Jeroboam’s direction: he is departing from

Solomon’s capital, leaving behind his cloak of security, and will not return. The reason he will never come back to Jerusalem is both demonstrated (by means of a prophetic illustration) and articulated (in a long speech) by Ahijah of Shiloh, a character who makes his first appearance in the narrative. There is a logical explanation as to why the reader has not yet met Ahijah. Given the absence of prophetic voices in Solomon’s administration, one readily concludes that the king was not particularly interested in hearing such views. It thus stands to reason that Ahijah would be, at best, a marginal figure in the empire, and quite possibly dissuaded from participating in national events. Alternatively, Ahijah would be seen as a threat to royal security, much like the later persecution of prophets during the reign of kings such as Ahab. Either way, Ahijah’s peripheral status would clarify why he seeks an audience with Jeroboam while the two of them are “alone in the open country,” given the content of his forthcoming oracle. It is unlikely that there is a specific allusion here to the Cain and Abel narrative of Genesis 4, other than the simple fact (or even a standard motif) that it is preferable for Ahijah and Jeroboam to be alone, since their conversation is seditious from Solomon’s perspective, and thus dangerous to them. The Genesis account has some useful points of similarity, though, and Walter Moberly’s comments are instructive: “it is when Cain and Abel are in the open countryside that Cain kills Abel (4:8). The point of being in the open countryside is that one is away from other people in their settlements—which is why most, though not all, manuscript traditions have Cain make a specific proposal for going out to the countryside; murder is best committed without an audience (cf. Deut. 21:1–9), though Cain discovers that one cannot so easily escape YHWH as audience.”24 If fratricide is best undertaken in secrecy, then one infers that a treasonous oracle might wisely be concealed. Owing to the nature of Ahijah’s message for Jeroboam—about a monumental and unforeseen change in leadership—his hometown of Shiloh is worth pondering. A very prominent sanctuary during the days of Eli in 1 Samuel 1–4, in the context of the DH Shiloh stands for a place that God forsakes because of egregious covenant violations. This is clearly the sense, for instance, in Jeremiah 7:12–14, where Shiloh is presented as a deserted city and an example of divine abandonment. A prophet of Shiloh announced the end of Saul’s kingship (Samuel), and a prophet of Shiloh now announces the end of Solomon’s kingship (Ahijah). Recent studies by scholars such as Mark Leuchter and Martin Mulder have emphasized the notion of Shiloh as a

rival sanctuary to Jerusalem, as the place where the ark formerly was ensconced.25 Correspondingly, Ahijah is thought to have a freight of politico–religious motives for targeting Jeroboam in the hopes of establishing a substitute polity. In my view Ahijah is being sketched on the narrative canvas not so much as a disgruntled political provocateur, strictly speaking, but more as a prophetic representative from a locale that has a long history of divine rejection and firing. Suitably attired, Jeroboam would be an easy target for Ahijah to identify, given that he is wearing a brand new coat. But the matter is not quite this easy, as there is an interpretive issue here that has vexed translators. The NRSV insists that Ahijah the prophet is wearing the coat, as the relevant phrase in 11:29 is rendered as “Ahijah had clothed himself with a new garment.” Such clarity, though, is not available in the Hebrew text, where instead the reader is confronted with a tantalizing ambiguity. Who is wearing the new cloak—Jeroboam or Ahijah—and what difference does it make? Despite the confidence of the NRSV panel (a defensible reading, and in fairness, they have the LXX on their side), I am prepared to argue the opposite. There is a tendency among commentators of late to maintain that Jeroboam is the one clothed in the new coat.26 After considering the evidence, this seems the more compelling position. Occasionally prophets in the Hebrew Bible wear unique clothes, and the examples of Samuel and Elijah immediately come to mind. But in both cases the garments serve to individualize the character. With Samuel, from his youth he is clad in a “royal robe” , a gift from his mother Hannah (1 Sam. 2:19) that he wears even beyond the grave (1 Sam. 28:14). Only royal figures in the DH wear such a garment, and this may provide evidence of Samuel’s royal ambition in the narrative. Elijah, by contrast, wears “a belt of skin” (2 Kings 1:8), marking his rugged austerity and antiestablishment disposition. With Ahijah of Shiloh in 1 Kings 11, it is unlikely that a flashy new coat fits with his profile as one furtively lurking in the shadows of the empire, about to topple the greatest empire Israel ever knew with a single utterance. Notably, the same word occurs in 1 Kings 10:25 as part of the inventory of Solomonic revenue streams: “Each one of them brought his gift: articles of silver and gold, garments , weaponry, spices, horses, and mules, everything year after year.” In the context of the annual visits of the great ones of the world, the inventory as a whole

functions as a sign of Solomonic wealth. If the term is recently used in 9:25 to signify wealth and social position—elements not readily apparent in Ahijah’s characterization—then it makes more sense for Jeroboam to be wearing the new coat, given his recent promotion and advancement up the Solomonic ladder. Assuming, then, that Jeroboam is wearing the coat and that it betokens the king’s favor, it must come as something of an annoyance when Ahijah promptly rips it in pieces. This is hardly a random act by a vandal, though, because when Ahijah rips the coat, the reader of the Hebrew text notices a ripping wordplay: the term for coat looks graphically similar to the name Solomon . When Ahijah tears the new coat, the gesture dramatically underscores the tearing of the kingdom from Solomon. One purpose of a wordplay in Hebrew is to signal a reversal of fortune, and the torn coat certainly points to an extraordinary reversal of Solomonic fortune.27 Ahijah’s tearing also resonates with the divine words of 11:11 (“I am about to tear the kingdom from you and give it to your servant”) by using the same verb . When the servant’s coat is torn—the mantle dismantled, as it were —it illustrates that Solomon’s fate is sealed. Solomon is not the only royal figure in Israel’s history to be on the wrong end of a garment–tearing episode. As mentioned in the previous chapter, Saul rips Samuel’s robe, and the prophet promptly informs him that his kingdom has been given to another. In Saul’s case, there is only one piece of the robe, as the entire kingdom is transferred to David; in Jeroboam’s case, there are twelve pieces, and he is to be the primary beneficiary in the tearing apart of Solomon’s kingdom. It could be that the larger role of clothing in the DH is a subject that needs to be further explored; certainly in the David story, at key junctures David accumulates items of clothing, whereas Saul habitually loses such items.28 I will revisit this issue in my analysis of 1 Kings 14, as the semiotics of clothing is a relevant issue in the overall design of the Jeroboam narrative: near the beginning (chapter 11) and end (chapter 14) of his career, episodes involving clothing occur. Meanwhile, the author employs clothing symbolism here at a pivotal moment in Jeroboam’s career because the coat is the representation of all his outward accomplishments under Solomon, and this is exactly what is ripped apart by the prophet. Surely there is an ironic reflex to the Joseph account in Genesis 37, as a special coat marked Joseph as an object of favor. Now Jeroboam—recently promoted over the forced labor

of the house of Joseph—is wearing a garment that reminds the reader of his eponymous ancestor. As Marvin Sweeney observes, “The narrative [of 1 Kings 11] weaves in references to the Joseph tradition as well, insofar as Joseph brought Israel down to Egypt in the first place, thereby setting the stage for Egyptian slavery. It presages Jeroboam’s own flight to Egypt and the resulting consequences.”29 So then, the coat also works as a nice piece of foreshadowing: Jeroboam resembles the Joseph figure, and Solomon is the Pharaoh from whom the Israelites need liberation.

Rags to riches The new coat is irreparably destroyed, and so, for all intents and purposes, is the relationship between Solomon and Jeroboam. From this point onward, Jeroboam will no longer be involved in building Solomon’s kingdom, but only his own. When Ahijah rips the new coat into twelve portions, it represents the twelve tribes of Israel’s formation rather than the modish tax districts that Solomon devises. According to Ahijah’s words beginning in 11:31, Jeroboam is invited to take ten of the pieces, and thus is scheduled to inherit a massive—but not the entire—share of the fragmented kingdom. Innumerable readers have noticed that the numbers do not quite add up: Jeroboam is to get ten tribes, with one tribe reserved for Solomon (for the sake of David and Jerusalem), yielding a total of eleven. Scholars have undertaken various calculations to resolve the matter (including the LXX reading of “two,” or assuming Benjamin’s absorption into the south) but the easiest option would be: the ten northern tribes are for Jeroboam, Judah is set aside for the Davidic house, and the (landless) tribe of Levi would be the twelfth. In this scenario, all the tribes are accounted for in Ahijah’s communiqué. Mathematics aside, there are at least three points in Ahijah’s oracle of 11:32–36 that directly impinge on Jeroboam’s characterization. First, the mention of a plethora of other deities directs attention to a legion of Solomon’s compromises and political expediencies, and this becomes a lynchpin for his rejection. In these lines there is a curious interchange of pronouns, such as “he” in verse 32, but “they” in verse 33. Some scholars claim that this is an indication of clumsy redaction (and indeed, the discrepancy is smoothed over in the NRSV), but I would incline toward the

idea that the switch in pronouns signifies widespread corruption—as though the king led the way, and the people willingly followed. This indictment becomes a moment for Jeroboam to become acquainted with the responsibility of the weighty office of the king. Second, through the content of this oracle the reader can now figure out how the flashback works: “I have made him a prince all the days of his life for the sake of David my chosen servant” (v. 34). Not only the reader, but Jeroboam also understands why Solomon will reign for another sixteen years (assuming this event takes place around Solomon’s twenty–fourth year). Third, Ahijah’s oracle points to the inevitability of secession, and Jeroboam should expect that Solomon’s heir will rule over a vastly truncated land: “I will take the kingdom from the hand of his son” (v. 35). Whether or not this presages conflict, Jeroboam may well anticipate a rival ensconced in Jerusalem. Much of the first part of Ahijah’s oracle is negative and focuses on the reasons for Solomon’s rejection. Simultaneously, it also functions as a nascent warning to Jeroboam that kings who disobey can be dislodged from their position. There would be very little room for royal complacency in Ahijah’s words. Still, the oracle is not completely gloomy. Gary Knoppers notices two things happening: “In this narration Jeroboam is not only one of the deity’s instruments to effect retribution upon Solomon, but also a key figure called out by the deity, signaling new hope for (northern) Israel.”30 A turn toward a more positive accent can be readily observed when Jeroboam is given a staggering promise in the second part of the oracle (11:37–39): But you I will take, and you will reign over all your heart desires, and you will be king over Israel. It will be that if you listen to all which I command you, and you walk in my ways and do what is upright in my eyes—keeping my statutes and commandments just as David my servant did—then I will be with you and I will build for you a truly lasting house, just as I built for David, and I will give you Israel. I will humble the seed of David on account of this, but not forever. At Solomon’s expense, Jeroboam is assured an enduring dynasty if he does “what is right.” Although conditional, this ranks as one of the most colossal promises in the entire DH, with Jeroboam offered the chance to become a new David and sire a lasting dynastic house. As Gordon McConville notes,

“in Yahweh’s words ‘I will give Israel to you,’ Jeroboam is made to succeed not only Solomon, but also David.”31 In spite of Jeroboam’s amazing prospects here in this promise, there is a downside as well: if the kingdom can be ripped from Solomon, one would think that it could be equally ripped from Jeroboam. Ahijah’s “Shiloh” pedigree seems to underscore this point: people and places can be judged (like the house of Eli, based in Shiloh), and a leader would be wise to understand that divine judgment will unfold if warranted. To reiterate my earlier point, since Jeroboam hears these words prior to the end of Solomon’s reign, the oracle is transmitted as an implicit warning to him about the necessity of fidelity and the harsh consequences of deviating from the “statutes and commandments.” Because this oracle is located as a flashback, Jeroboam’s future is fraught with all kinds of potential, yet with a very real chance of encountering snares on the road. No further conversation between Ahijah and Jeroboam is given in the chapter. One assumes that this is not a mentoring kind of relationship, as with Samuel and Saul for example (problematic as that was). Instead, Ahijah only appoints Jeroboam, and presumably recedes into the same background whence he emerged. Nonetheless, when Ahijah rips the new coat, something happens to his own prophetic role as well. Perhaps Marvin Sweeney’s comparison between Ahijah and Nathan deserves to be taken seriously.32 Nathan, after all, is a prophet who delivers the news of David’s everlasting dynasty in 2 Samuel 7:16 (“Your house and your kingdom are forever confirmed before you, and your throne will be established forever”), only to reappear after David commits adultery and murder with a startling amendment in 12:10, “the sword will not turn aside from your house forever.” Hovering over this spectacular promise—whereby Jeroboam is to become a new David—is the potential for disaster on a Davidic scale. Just as Ahijah instructs Jeroboam to pick up ten fragments of the ripped robe, so Jeroboam also could go from riches to rags in a hurry. To fast forward for a moment, just as Nathan “reappears” in the story to bring bad news to David, the same thing will eventually happen with Ahijah and Jeroboam: the prophet who first gives a great oracle will later return to speak words of reversal. Solomon, in other words, is not the only king for whom Ahijah will be the harbinger of bad news. But many things have to take place before such an auspicious moment. For now, by means of the character of Ahijah one can extrapolate a few general points about prophetic power. Part of the reason that prophets wield power seems to reside in the

realm of knowledge; that is, prophets have access to knowledge that gives them the edge—both about matters of royal protocols and acquaintance with the divine will. Ahijah becomes a prototype of the prophet as a free agent. Such a figure is not on the royal payroll, and this distance from the king’s court appears (at least in some cases) to give them latitude to speak against the empire because of their status as outsiders. A latent tension exists between king and prophet, starkly apparent when the whole fabric of 1 Kings 11–14 is considered. To return to Peter Machinist’s general study of Israel’s monarchy, he comments: “The biblical view of kingship and the rulers who embodied it was thus a mixed one, affirming the centrality of this institution in Israelite history, yet not without ambiguity and ambivalence over its place and achievements.”33 It is possible to argue that contributing to the ambivalence, in various ways, is the role of the prophets—often feared by kings who attempt, yet do not always succeed, to silence their voices. Ahijah is a figure who arrives in 1 Kings 11 to appoint a new king, and will not be heard from again for many years, and therefore Ahijah represents the free agent prophet in an extreme form. Ahijah is outside the compass of Solomon’s court, and this works in Jeroboam’s favor. However, Ahijah will also stand outside of Jeroboam’s inner circle, and eventually speaks authoritative words of judgment against him.

Surveillance footage After Ahijah’s oracle concludes, the reader is confronted with an abrupt and puzzlingly terse report: “Solomon sought to kill Jeroboam” (11:40a). Instead of any words or response from Jeroboam, the reigning—and now rejected— king returns to the foreground. A number of intriguing questions arise from this single line, not least involving the matter of how Solomon finds out about this conversation between Jeroboam and Ahijah of Shiloh. In 11:29 we were told that the two of them were “alone in the field,” so the source of Solomon’s information is not immediately obvious. A comparable event occurs in 2 Samuel 17:17–20 during the rebellion of Absalom, when an informant notices the subversive activity of David’s allies Jonathan and Ahimaaz. By extension, it is entirely possible that Solomon has an organized intelligence network, especially given that Solomon has considerably more resources available than does Absalom.

Assuming that Solomon seeks to kill Jeroboam because of Ahijah’s prophetic word, the king is further shrouded with negative impressions, as Jeroboam—once the object of his favor—now becomes a target for assassination. Regardless of how Solomon becomes acquainted with the prophetic word about Jeroboam, he uses this knowledge for lethal and self– serving ends. In structural terms a violent inclusio can be observed, as Solomon’s career is bracketed with aggressive and vicious political purges near the beginning (1 Kings 2) and now at the end of his recorded activities (11:40).34 In light of Solomon’s policy of ruthless expediency and the catalogue of victims in 1 Kings 2 (opponents such as Adonijah, Joab, and Shimei), it is a wonder that Jeroboam manages to survive, as explained in the rest of 11:40: “Solomon sought to kill Jeroboam, but Jeroboam arose and fled to Egypt, to Shishak king of Egypt, and remained there until the death of Solomon.” The mention of Egypt as Jeroboam’s place of refuge is a reminder of other adversaries, notably Hadad of Edom, who are given sanctuary by the Egyptian king. What was once a symbol of Solomonic success and prestige is now further undermined, and Egypt is not looking like a particularly reliable ally. Since the reader will later learn that Shishak invades Israel (see 1 Kings 14:25), one suspects that the king of Egypt is politically motivated to protect Jeroboam from Solomon. Fleeing from Solomon is Jeroboam’s first reaction in the story, and it indicates that he is anything but naïve. He has the foresight to know that he will be safe in Egypt, and this is the place he remains for the period leading up to Solomon’s death.

3 Politics of Rebellion: The Schism of Shechem and the Resistance to Imperialism

The division of the kingdom at Shechem represents the greatest political implosion in Israel’s history as a people. A close reading of events recorded in 1 Kings 12:1–24 is essential to the study of Jeroboam, since his attendance casts a shadow over the assembly that gathers to crown Solomon’s son Rehoboam as king. The principal grievance of the northern delegation centers on the “harsh labor” imposed by the king; after all, the multiple projects in Jerusalem (temple, palace, fortifications) are primarily built at northern expense. The very fact that Jeroboam is summoned from Egypt implies that he has a reasonably high standing in the northern constituency, and is not overly intimidated by Rehoboam. Indeed, I will argue in this chapter that Rehoboam’s characterization operates as something of a foil for Jeroboam and his role in these momentous affairs of state. In the broader context of 1 Kings 1–12, Jeroboam’s return from “exile” and presence at this assembly in Shechem functions as a critique of royal power and self–aggrandizing behavior. Ironically, it is Solomon’s attempted murder that drives Jeroboam into exile in the first place, and then it is the corruption of the Solomonic regime that is initially culpable for the schism, as Solomon’s oppressive policies are what create the climate of complaint that Jeroboam comes to represent. These elements of Jeroboam’s characterization, namely his return from Egyptian exile and seemingly passive role in the schism, need to be evaluated at this crucial stage in the narrative and form a key part of the analysis below.

Coronation street Solomon’s death notice—appearing in the final sentences of chapter 11— ushers in a new age. Most poignantly, the reader of 1 Kings recalls the earlier

divine word in 11:11–13 that the kingdom would be “ripped” after the death of Solomon and the accession of his son, with one tribe remaining for the house of David. The fault line of this imminent political earthquake might not be hard to predict, since the distinction between “Israel and Judah” is often referred to in the books of Samuel. David was first crowned as king of Judah (2 Sam. 2:4), and only later of all Israel after a protracted struggle (2 Sam. 5:3). There is reason to pause, therefore, when Rehoboam’s first action in 1 Kings 12 is a journey to the northern city of Shechem. The reader may be prepared for upheaval now that Rehoboam makes his formal entrance onto the narrative stage, yet the choice of Shechem is a curious one. The text laconically states in 12:1 that “Rehoboam went to Shechem, because to Shechem all Israel had come to proclaim him king,” but it is difficult to decide who chooses this site. In the opinion of Simon DeVries, “Rehoboam found himself obliged to travel there,” implying he has no viable alternative.1 By contrast, Choon Leong Seow believes that Rehoboam intentionally opts for this particular site. “It is more likely,” says Seow, “that his coronation at Shechem was a deliberate assertion of his authority over the northern tribes.”2 On balance, I would incline toward the view that the northerners are setting the terms under which they are willing to submit to Rehoboam’s kingship. If so, then Shechem is an interesting choice for their assembly. Taking a cue from poststructuralist geography, one can conceive of Shechem as a space of discipline and government, especially when considering a pair of earlier events located at Shechem in the DH: Joshua 24 and Judges 9.3 First, in Joshua 24 all the tribes of Israel gather at Shechem in order to transact a covenant renewal ceremony; now, the northern tribes gather again at Shechem with a call to return to an earlier polity. In so doing, these tribes conceivably are protesting Solomon’s innovations and favoritism toward the south. Shechem can be understood, almost literally, as the ground of northern complaint, and thus the space of Shechem becomes a “representation of history” and a platform for complaint against the king’s abuse of power.4 Second, in Judges 9 Shechem is the place where Abimelech begins his three– year reign, Israel’s first king (of sorts), and surely a negative archetype for monarchy in the DH.5 When assembling at Shechem in 1 Kings 12, by analogy, the northern tribes are declaring they have no interest in a despot like Abimelech—a warning that Rehoboam would be wise to heed.

Out of exile Included in the northern congregation is Jeroboam, who somehow is informed of recent events: “Now when Jeroboam son of Nebat heard, he was still in Egypt—where he had fled from the face of King Solomon, and Jeroboam lived in Egypt” (12:2). The details of this verse have been debated by commentators, with the last clause (and Jeroboam lived in Egypt— considered the most problematic.6 Standard English translations such as the NIV and NRSV emend the vocalization of “he lived” to align with the parallel text in 2 Chronicles 10:2, “and Jeroboam returned from Egypt.”7 In fairness, both translations use marginal notes to inform their readers that the Hebrew text reads “lived,” and also admit that the preposition has to be emended likewise (“from” rather than “in”). It could be argued that such emendation is unnecessary since a key component of 12:2 is to highlight the initiative of the northern tribes in sending for Jeroboam and inviting his return. As a result, 12:3 directs heightened attention to Jeroboam’s exilic status, and that he was not active in fomenting revolt in the north while Solomon was alive. Northern dissatisfaction, in a manner of speaking, is a preexisting condition. As J. T. Walsh insists, the summons must mean that the northern community has kept in touch with Jeroboam over the years and now informs him that he must return: “This implies a much higher respect (and destiny?) for Jeroboam than we infer from the NRSV, where his convenient return simply makes him available to serve as head of the team negotiating with Rehoboam.”8 It is as though a great deal of northern hope now rests on Jeroboam’s shoulders. When Jeroboam is sent for by the northerners in 12:3 (“They sent and called for him, and Jeroboam and all the assembly of Israel came and spoke to Rehoboam”) there is a symbolic dimension: it is the end of an era for Jeroboam (as his exile comes to a conclusion with Solomon’s death) and the end of an era for the northern tribes (as their political speech demands an answer from the southern king). As the speech is framed, Jeroboam represents a break from Solomon’s tyranny, evidenced by their declaration of 12:4, “Your father made our yoke heavy upon us. But you, now lighten the heavy service of your father and the heavy yoke that he set upon us, and we will serve you.” In essence, the question posed by the northern delegation to Rehoboam concerns the exercise of power: will the new king abuse his office

like Solomon and place the northerners under a yoke of virtually Egyptian proportion? With the term yoke one is reminded of a central passage in the Torah concerning the purpose of emancipation from Egyptian bondage in Leviticus 26:13, “I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from being slaves to them. I shattered the bars of your yoke, and caused you to walk in freedom.” The northern delegates are acquiescent enough, and not overtly hostile. They are willing to submit to Rehoboam’s rule if their demands are met, which under the circumstances are not extreme. No other option is stated nor any alternative polity articulated, but the very attendance of Jeroboam may— from the northern point of view—represent a veiled threat to Rehoboam. The northerners perceive Jeroboam, once a rising star in Solomon’s administration, as their ally even though no mention of his presence is made. Yet Jeroboam’s own perspective on the matter is cloaked in silence, and this silence is what directs attention to the enigmatic role of Jeroboam throughout the proceedings. Burke Long captures the deliberate ambiguity: “A possible rival, and enemy of the Judahite monarchy, Jeroboam surreptitiously returns from exile to his homeland—a cloud on the distant horizon, or an agent waiting for the moment to ripen. The ambiguity of Jeroboam’s intentions conveys mystery and arouses expectations, but the narrator gives nothing more at this point.”9 Jeroboam’s journey to and from Egypt in 1 Kings 11–12 cleverly weaves together some images of Israel’s formative experience in the Exodus account. Michael Oblath enumerates several structural parallels: “The similarities which exist between the Exodus and Jeroboam narratives may be considered under five general categories: (a) a new king enslaves the population; (b) a hero is brought into the royal court and administration; (c) the hero lives in exile; (d) the hero returns home to a confrontation with the new royal heir; and, (e) the hero leads a successful rebellion and flight.”10 As far as the purpose of the structural parallels is concerned, it would have to be a double– edged critique. On the one hand, there is an indictment of Israelite royalty for comingling with Egypt, the glamorous and imperial powerhouse. The marriage alliance with Pharaoh described at the beginning of 1 Kings 3—and the building projects that such an alliance necessitates—could well be included in the list of northern grievances. But, on the other hand, Jeroboam is granted asylum in Egypt by Shishak, and at some point an awkward question might arise: will he bring back imperial lessons learned there? Yet

such thoughts must be far from the minds of the northern delegates, who now await Rehoboam’s reply to their stipulations.

Servant leadership Rehoboam, it should be stressed, has inherited a volatile political situation, and one senses that he is ill prepared to assume the mantle of leadership over a fissured nation. Back in 1 Kings 2 Solomon receives a lengthy word of advice from David, brimming with Machiavellian duplicities. No similar word from Solomon to Rehoboam is preserved in the text, so it is hard to determine the extent to which the successor is prepared for office. Furthermore, Marvin Sweeney deduces that Rehoboam journeys to Shechem “apparently unaware of any potential challenges to his claims to the throne.”11 If so, then Rehoboam is remarkably uninformed about political events during the past several decades. Whether this points to his own naïveté or his father’s negligence in educating his heir cannot be determined here, but Rehoboam certainly lacks the knowledge to complement his power. As a consequence, Jeroboam already has an advantage over his southern counterpart, and even though he has been an “outsider” for quite some time, it is Jeroboam who has the inside information and thus holds the upper hand at Shechem. After hearing the northern delegation’s appeal for a lighter yoke, Rehoboam must realize he is out of his depth. Perhaps this is why he then has a request himself: “Go away for three days, then come back to me” (12:5). It must be to Rehoboam’s credit when he asks for counsel, and for the first time in the story he is referred to by the narrator as “King Rehoboam.” Specifically, King Rehoboam asks for counsel from a group with the lengthy epithet “the elders who had stood before his father Solomon during his lifetime.” Presumably the elders “who stood” before his father had certain advantages. It might be a stretch to say that they absorbed the wisdom of Solomon by osmosis, but surely this group was able to observe the workings of the kingdom at close range. Rehoboam’s asking for their counsel must be perceived as smart, rather than a weakness that shows an indecisive nature. The theme of taking counsel is an important one, and will be a huge feature later in the chapter with respect to Jeroboam.12 The elders’ counsel includes a tacit recognition of the disparity between

north and south, and a recommendation for assuaging the situation: “If today you will be a servant to this people and serve them, answer them, and speak to them good words, then they will be your servants forever” (12:7). It sounds as if there is an admission of Solomon’s discriminatory internal policies and fiscal parochialism, and such imbalances are basically conceded. Furthermore, the elders are advocating a different ideological model of kingship for Rehoboam, an approach that is antithetical to that of his father. As Peter Leithart notes, the elders “conceive of a king as a servant rather than master of the people.”13 The elders here display an acute awareness of power relations, and how to correct an inequity with favorable long–term results. I am willing to take their words in good faith; one could argue this is a cynical ploy, but overall such an argument does not align with the tenor of their counsel. Instead, the words of the elders show yet another, darker side of Solomon. The former king had capable and wise advisors at his side who, frankly, play little part in his administration. This is their first appearance, by all accounts, in the narrative. The subtext is that Solomon himself could have benefited from their expanded role, but these elders are marginalized, and in retrospect this enhances Solomon’s culpability in the demise of the kingdom. Yet when Rehoboam asks for their counsel, it is almost as though he has the potential to be a good king. Still, the words of the elders are not without irony. “Be a servant,” they say, and the reader is reminded that the kingdom is about to be passed on to a servant who is poised for a substantial inheritance.

Entourage The elders’ advocacy of a conciliatory tone plausibly is the right one under the circumstances. Given the northerners’ legitimate complaints, the elders outline a workable compromise wherein Rehoboam’s rule would have been nationally ratified. Seeking the elders’ advice is a good move for Rehoboam; sadly, this is the only bit of circumstantial evidence to suggest he has any degree of political intelligence whatsoever. Asking for a second opinion—the subject of the next scene in 12:8–12—will prove disastrous. Worse, Rehoboam rejects the elders’ counsel even before he hears any alternative position: “He abandoned the counsel that the elders advised him, and took counsel from the boys who had grown up with him, the ones who stood before him.” This situation is similar to 2 Samuel 17:5, where Absalom

inexplicably forsakes the advice of Ahithophel in favor of a second opinion. At least with Absalom, he turned to Hushai the Arkite, a senior figure in David’s cabinet. Rehoboam, by contrast, turns to his own entourage, a group that must be understood as a crowd of sycophants probably eager to advance their own interests as much as those of the king. In contrast to the formal title of “the elders” who stood before Solomon (a reference to their status), here we have a group with the sobriquet “the boys” . They grew up with Rehoboam, who is 41 years old, so for the narrator to refer to them as “the boys” is far from being a compliment. It is not clear what exactly Rehoboam does not like about the elders’ counsel, but one suspects the model of servant leadership is not a management style he finds congenial. Turning to his own cronies, he says: “What are you advising that we respond to this people who said to me, ‘Lighten the yoke that your father placed upon us’?” The reader immediately notes that Rehoboam uses the first person plural verbal form (how should we respond?), and herein creates solidarity with his comrades over and against both the elders and the people. Their counsel in 12:10–11 is the opposite of the elders: The young lads who had grown up with him spoke, saying, “Thus you will say to people who told you, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you lighten it from upon us.’ Thus you will tell them, ‘My little one is thicker than my father’s loins! And now, my father burdened you with a heavy yoke, and I will increase it. My father punished you with whips, but I will punish you with scorpions.’” Listening to the alternative counsel of Rehoboam’s friends, there are two points that emerge, the first dealing with the identity of the group, the other about the nature of their counsel. First, the group identity is revealed to a certain extent through their words. Walter Brueggemann characterizes this party as follows: “The young men may be the new generation of power elites in Jerusalem who have no memory other than Solomon’s opulence. They likely are the ones who are so ‘happy’ under Solomon (4:20; 10:8), who have never known anything but extravagant privilege and a heavy sense of their own entitlement. They likely take their affluence,” Brueggemann concludes, “as normal and have never known anything other than a standard of living supported by heavy taxation.”14 Undeniably there is something unique about Rehoboam’s gang: they are the first generation of Israelites to enjoy wealth

on an unprecedented scale, the urban courtiers whose standard of living comes at the expense of the ordinary taxpayer. Moving to the second related point, it is this culture of entitlement that motivates their venomous counsel, replete with ruthlessness and vulgarity. Instead of reducing the burden, as advised by the elders, this younger crew of reprobates urge an increase of violence. Apart from the sadistic instrument of torture they advocate—the “scorpion”15 is usually understood as a high–tech lash—the most graphic image used in their counsel is translated by the NRSV and NIV as “my little finger.” Unfortunately, this gentle euphemism misconstrues the thrust of the Hebrew term , better rendered as “my 16 little one” in reference to male genitalia. With locker room vulgarity, Rehoboam’s entourage direct their potentate to boast about his virility; given the vast size of Solomon’s harem, to claim that he is significantly bigger than his father is quite a boast by any measure. But there is more than just crudity at work here. It seems to me that the graphic sexual image proffered by Rehoboam’s group of rakes is far from gratuitous at this phase in the narrative. Drawing on Foucault’s notion of “effective history” Regina Schwartz has a provocative study that traces ruptures in the story of David, and notes that such ruptures are frequently marked with scenes of rape and adultery. Listing examples such as David’s taking of Bathsheba during the Ammonite war, or Amnon’s attack on his sister Tamar that results in Absalom’s act of vengeance and eventual civil war, Schwartz then asks: “Do the struggles for Israel’s national definition have anything to do with these sexual scenes?”17 The answer must be an affirmative: “As threats to the accepted norms for the ‘exchange of women’ between men,” Schwartz writes, “these scenes suggest instability at the very heart of Israel’s self–definition.”18 Rehoboam’s hooligans, to extend the point, are inviting their king to rape the nation, and it is no accident that this moment is preserved in the text at the very point of the kingdom’s rupture.

Twist … As scheduled, the appointment to meet again after three days is kept as Jeroboam and the people return for another conference. Rehoboam had asked for three days presumably to consider his options, but he does not appear to have engaged in a careful program of critical thinking. This second meeting,

again located at Shechem, calls for the biggest public relations program of his career, and requires a good speech to pacify the crowd. Even Solomon—that serial idolater—could give an effective religious speech when he had to (e.g., 1 Kings 8) and appease diverse interest groups. But in 12:8 Rehoboam has already “abandoned” the elders’ counsel even before hearing another option. Such imprudence is compounded in 12:13, where there is a repetition of the verb “abandon” followed closely by his knavish reply in the next verse: “But he spoke to them according to the advice of the young lads, saying, ‘My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.’” A leaf of lustrous metal placed under a jewel to illuminate its brilliance is known as a foil. Standard dictionaries of literary terms explain that the term is used in a similar way in a work of narrative: any character or other agent who is used to underscore particular qualities of a protagonist. “Thus Laertes the man of action,” says M. H. Abrams, “is a foil to the dilatory Hamlet; the firebrand Hotspur is a foil to the cool and calculating Prince Hal in Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1; and in Pride and Prejudice, the gentle and compliant Jane Bennett serves as a foil to her strong–willed sister Elizabeth.”19 Rehoboam comes across as something of a foil to Jeroboam in this second gathering at Shechem. Jeroboam is industrious and hardworking as well as politically astute (as we will see even more clearly in due course). Rehoboam is, by contrast, inept. Already there are numerous examples of Rehoboam’s lack of judgment, but none more so than his speech of 12:14. When he mentions the “scorpions” it seems like he is about to repeat the boys’ counsel, yet he omits a crucial datum: Rehoboam does not include the part about his genitals being bigger than Solomon’s. For J. T. Walsh, such an omission is sensible: Rehoboam may lack sagacity, “But even his foolishness has limits: he knows better than to indulge in petty pomposity.”20 By contrast, I would submit that Rehoboam’s editing is for an entirely different reason: standing before the crowd, he does not have—how shall I put this delicately?—the courage to boast about the size of his “little finger.” So on the one hand, the narrative presents the fledgling king as lacking the requisite competence to unite the kingdom by pacifying the northern constituency. Here Marvin Sweeney’s comment is surely accurate: “The narrative emphasizes that Jeroboam played no direct role in fomenting revolt against the house of David, and instead points to Rehoboam’s own failings as the cause of the revolt.”21 Yet on the other hand, the prophetic word of Ahijah

hovers over this entire episode at Shechem, and is nowhere more visible than 12:15: Thus the king did not listen to the people, for this twist was from the LORD, in order to establish his word that he spoke by means of Ahijah of Shiloh to Jeroboam son of Nebat. The clear intersection between Rehoboam’s unwise conduct and the antecedent prophetic word is an example of a phenomenon that interpreters usually term dual causality.22 A comparable episode is Abimelech’s abortive reign in Judges 9, featuring a number of similar plot contours with 1 Kings 12: Abimelech’s tyranny parallels the advice of Rehoboam’s rakish crowd to oppress the Israelite laborers, and there is civil unrest and emerging factions in both stories. Dual causality is similarly apparent in Judges 9:23–24: “God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the masters of Shechem. The masters of Shechem acted deceitfully with Abimelech (in order that the violence of the 70 descendants of Jerub–Baal might come, in order that their blood might be placed upon Abimelech their brother who killed them, and upon the masters of Shechem who strengthened his hands to kill his brothers).” It is probably not coincidental that both events take place at the same spatial setting of Shechem. Just as Rehoboam makes a disastrous choice by listening to his cronies, so Abimelech’s folly is what alienates his supporters and ultimately leads him too close to the wall where an upper millstone lands on his cranium. Yet both figures are also caught up in the vortex of the divine will arrayed against them: in Rehoboam’s case because of Solomon’s sins, and Abimelech because of his crime against his brothers. Human folly conspires with divine agency to orchestrate a change in regime. A related point is the use of the term in 1 Kings 12:15 that I have 23 Along with its verbal form translated as “twist” that most lexicons define as “turn,” Peter Machinist surveyed the uses of “turning” in Israel’s monarchic history. It is a kind of technical term, says Machinist, “for unexpected occurrences, breaks in the normal order of events regulated by human social practice or reason, which involve thus some kind of violent social disruption.”24 The case of Adonijah in 1 Kings 1–2 is a compelling intertext. In the struggle to capture David’s throne, Adonijah is outflanked by the stratagem of Nathan and Bathsheba (while Solomon, we note, is entirely passive). But one cannot ignore the prophetic activity around the infant

Solomon back in 2 Samuel 12:24–25 that signaled a great destiny for him. Thus Adonijah’s concession to Bathsheba in 1 Kings 2:15 (“You certainly know that the kingdom was mine, and upon me all Israel set their face to be king. But the kingdom twisted and became my brother’s, for it was his from the LORD”) is probably more true than he realizes. “In other words,” Machinist concludes, “sbb [the verb ‘turn,’ describes a situation where divine power is displayed and confirmed precisely as it opposes the normal order of things, and remakes that order into a new one. It is this opposition and remaking that is the ‘turning,’ and while it may be given a justification in the behavior of the human protagonists concerned, it need not be.”25 In 1 Kings 12:15 the term “twist” is quite literally the turning point of the story, and I would argue that the dual causality here has a dual purpose with respect to Jeroboam’s characterization. First, the reader is reminded of Jeroboam’s introduction as a man of valor in the previous chapter. From what we have seen so far, Jeroboam has the requisite ingredients to be a quality leader, unlike Rehoboam and Abimelech. The human agency of Jeroboam’s leadership, so to speak, looks hopeful. Second, the dual causality that brings about the end of Rehoboam’s brief oversight of the twelve tribes also reminds the reader that Jeroboam—like Solomon—has been given a divine promise. The plot twist in 12:15 indicates that God undertakes for Jeroboam despite his passivity, in the same ways as the events of Solomon’s accession.26 Some scholars are disappointed that there is not more overt rebellion in 1 Kings 12:1–15, but the dual causality emphasizes that God rebels on Jeroboam’s behalf. This must be construed as a positive moment in his characterization: God works behind the scenes for Jeroboam, overthrowing the past regime to create fertile options for the future. Jeroboam has every possibility to succeed, even to the point that God turns aside a large block of Solomonic imperialism and allows Jeroboam to ascend to a position of leadership without bloodshed.

…and Shout At various junctures in Israel’s history key events in the storyline are often marked with a song. From the Song of the Sea in Exodus 15 to the death of Saul in 2 Samuel 1, song lyrics have a way of capturing the theme of an episode through music. It is appropriate, then, that Rehoboam’s rejection in 1

Kings 12:16 is sealed with a song. Owing to his obstinacy and refusal to heed their request, the northerners conclude that Rehoboam is tone–deaf, and they shout the following: What portion is there for us in David, We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse! To your tents O Israel, Now see to your own house, O David! It should be noted, however, that the northerners do not compose an original score in 1 Kings 12:16. These are recycled lyrics, with the copyright first secured by Sheba son of Bicri back in 2 Samuel 20:1. Taking advantage of the instability in the aftermath of Absalom’s coup, Sheba’s revolt severely threatens the integrity of the Davidic kingdom. As 2 Samuel 20 unfolds, Joab perceives the danger and mounts a serious campaign to quell the rebellion, finally brought to an end when Sheba’s (severed) head is thrown over the wall of Abel Beth Maacah. But his song must have garnered enough popularity to be re–released here, many decades later. Edward Campbell notes, in general terms, that the song is consistent with a number of threads from earlier in the DH storyline: “The cry appeals to the theme of resistance to monarchy expressed in many passages in 1 Samuel, and recalls the ancient ideal of autonomy and freedom from exploitation expressed in Israel’s early self–definitions.”27 Sheba’s song must have gone underground for a season, but now bursts to the surface as a national anthem for the new kingdom. The intertextual reflex to Sheba’s rebellion is not strictly limited to the present moment in 1 Kings 12, but indicative of a longer–standing tension with the Davidic dynasty. The song is not anti–monarchic as such; the very fact that a new kingdom is inaugurated shows that the monarchic movement is far from over. Rather, the complaints are centered on David and his successor(s). Given that the song survives and is easily revived in Shechem, it is surprising that Solomon’s pro–Judah policy was so blatant. The elders must understand this, and hence the nature of their counsel to Rehoboam. That Sheba himself is of Benjamite provenance merely reinforces that tribal favoritism contributed to his—and later all of the northern tribes’— discontent. When the song is recycled in 1 Kings 12, Mordechai Cogan believes it marks the end of an era, “Any earlier feeling of consanguinity between the north and Judah (cf. 2 Samuel 5:1) had since dissipated.”28 Still,

one could argue that with the northern tribes, there is always an expediency at work. Back in 2 Samuel 5, they had few options but to crown David, and in 2 Samuel 20 Sheba was no match for the still–powerful David and Joab. Now, however, the northerners have Jeroboam, probably the best candidate to arise in quite some time. Moreover, Jeroboam’s candidacy also has the benefit of Ahijah’s oracle, even though this might not be officially part of the public record. In 12:17 we read, “But the Israelites who were living in the cities of Judah had Rehoboam reigning over them,” just as Ahijah’s oracle had prognosticated. As with many recycling projects, there is a slight modification from the original. A comparison between Sheba’s song and the cover version in 1 Kings 12:16 reveals a variation that is worth noting. As Mark Leuchter explains, “The popular revival of Sheba b. Bichri’s initial anti–David rallying cry in 2 Samuel 20:1 incorporates a crucial addition not found in the original exhortation—the mention of the Davidic ‘house’ This not only constitutes a rejection of the Davidic covenant to which the term is so 29 central, but implies a rejection of the Jerusalem temple.” When the northerners sing “Now see to your own house, O David!” we assume there is an intentional double entendre, relating to both the political and cultic spheres. Glancing ahead in the story, this line about the “house” in Jerusalem is poised to take on heightened significance, and there is a tension foreshadowed here about places of worship that will soon occupy center stage in the drama.

The enforcer Meanwhile, Rehoboam has a riot on his hands. The account in 12:18 is not detailed, but one senses that the crowd—perhaps comparable to a rowdy sporting event in a contemporary arena—have been chanting Sheba’s lyrics and manifesting frustration. Rehoboam’s authority has been categorically rejected, and the scene is growing belligerent. In the words of theorist Ian Hacking, “One ought to begin an analysis of power from the ground up, at the level of tiny local events where battles are unwittingly enacted by players who don’t know what they are doing.”30 So far in 1 Kings 12 there have been a plethora of political gaffes, most prominently Rehoboam’s rejection of the elders’ counsel in favor of his own cadre of knaves. However, his action in

12:18 is incredible, even by his standards: “King Rehoboam sent out Adoniram, who was over the forced labor. All Israel stoned him, and he died.” This is not Adoniram’s first appearance in the story; on several occasions he has been mentioned, though not in any active way. One could argue that Adoniram has one of the longest careers in Israel’s civil service to date, as he was one of David’s appointments back in 2 Samuel 20:24, charged with overseeing the forced labor operation. Commentators debate whether it is the same Adoniram whom Solomon also appoints to the same position in 1 Kings 4:6 and 5:14, as his age would exceed even that of a professor emeritus. In my view it is the same character, and the point is not to reflect on his apparent age, but rather that Adoniram embodies the oppression of forced labor in both the regimes of David and Solomon, and hence the aggravation has been compounded over the course of both reigns. If it is the same character, it should raise an eyebrow that Adoniram is first mentioned in the same chapter as Sheba’s lyrics (2 Sam. 20). Such proximity could be a coincidence, but everything that has unfolded in 1 Kings 12 suggests an intentionality. But even if one argues that there are two different Adonirams —one appointed by David, the other by his successor Solomon—without a doubt Adoniram has enjoyed a long tenure in Solomon’s organization, and as head of forced labor it is hard to believe he was a popular and beloved figure. Regardless of his age, Adoniram is now permanently retired by the northern mob. Rehoboam has made some risibly small–minded decisions before, but sending Adoniram to quell the mob must represent a new standard for idiocy. Marvin Sweeney puts it this way: “The reaction of the people aptly demonstrates Rehoboam’s egregious miscalculation in sending Adoniram to enforce Rehoboam’s authority.”31 When Adoniram is stoned, one would expect Rehoboam to be the next item on the agenda. The population certainly seem open to the possibility, but in the second half of 12:18 we see how Rehoboam manages to survive: “King Rehoboam, though, alertly mounted his chariot to flee for Jerusalem.” A cinematographer could exercise great imagination if filming this narrow escape, which, if not so pathetic, might win a comedy award. Furthermore, it is not only that Rehoboam flees, but when he flees that is interesting. Though the NRSV translates the sentence as though Rehoboam fled after the riot, J. T. Walsh is adamant that the Hebrew syntax implies that Rehoboam takes flight in the midst of the riot, even as Adoniram is being fatally pelted with rocks.32 Rehoboam, one notes, does not

ask for any advice here. Instead, he bolts from the scene—sans his chief of forced labor—and drives his chariot frantically back to Jerusalem to reign over a drastically downsized kingdom. Rehoboam’s departure paves the way for Jeroboam’s grand entrance. Presumably after the last stones are thrown, a new king is crowned in Shechem: “When all Israel heard that Jeroboam had returned, they sent and called him to the congregation , and caused him to reign over all Israel” (12:20). Rehoboam’s father had tried to kill Jeroboam to prevent, one assumes, this exact situation from transpiring. The ironic reversal is palpable: all Israel first assembled at Shechem to make Rehoboam king, but they finally assemble again to make Jeroboam king.33 The reader of the Hebrew text will notice a different word for the gathering of 12:20 as opposed to earlier gatherings at Shechem, a term that I have here rendered “congregation” to bring out the nuance of a sacred council that here 34 takes place. What is uncertain is the northerners’ view of Jerusalem and the temple, and how such matters will be factored into the new reign of Jeroboam, especially in light of their anthem, “Now see to your own house, O David!” But for the time being such concerns can be held in abeyance, and focus instead should be squarely on the crowning ceremony as the culmination of the prophetic word spoken by Ahijah of Shiloh. But Ahijah’s is not the only prophetic intervention. Shemaiah—mentioned in 12:22 for the first time in the story—has a limited but vital place in the future of the new northern kingdom. The final scene in this episode of Shechem makes several contributions to the overall configuration of the Jeroboam narrative. A couple of notices have shown the parameters of the divided kingdom (i.e., 12:19, 20b: “Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David until this day … There was no one deferring to the house of David except the tribe of Judah alone”). One may have expected a peaceful coexistence, but Rehoboam—having freshly escaped by the skin of his teeth —musters his troops. Oddly described as from “the house of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin,” it certainly appears as though civil war is inevitable, but any conflict is averted by a last moment prophetic intervention by Shemaiah, the man of God in 12:23–24. The divine word comes to him as follows: Speak to Rehoboam, son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to the entire house of Judah and Benjamin, and the remainder of the people, saying: Thus says the LORD, “You will not go up and you

will not battle against your brothers, the sons of Israel. Everyone go home, for this thing is from me!” Rather surprisingly, Rehoboam and all those with him actually listen to the utterance of Shemaiah. Not only is a violent conflict forestalled, but Rehoboam and the southern kingdom actually appear in a positive light as they heed the prophetic word in 12:24b. This section of the story is important because it furthers the theme of prophetic power introduced earlier, and will continue to hover over the Jeroboam story. Even the drastic reduction in Rehoboam’s title—note the label “king of Judah” in verse 23—is yet another reinforcement of Ahijah’s pronouncement.35 When Shemaiah declares the divine word “this thing is from me,” it becomes a public endorsement of Jeroboam’s kingship for all to hear. Jeroboam has no reason for insecurity, because he is backed by prophetic utterance, one that is capable of sending 180,000 troops back home. Structurally, the two minor characters Adoniram and Shemaiah offset each other. In the past—under an oppressive regime—Adoniram is the figure with the power. But now it is the previously unknown Shemaiah who carries enhanced authority and whose presence is highly influential. Just as a prophet first heralds Jeroboam’s kingship, so another prophet ensures its survival. Commentators routinely infer that Shemaiah must be a southern prophet; if so, everyone in Judah now knows that Jeroboam is legitimate, which must be a significant moment for his characterization. Jeroboam is now publicly acclaimed by a southern prophetic voice. Ahijah of Shiloh announces Jeroboam’s kingship in private, and now Shemaiah reaffirms it in public. The reader sees the prophetic word thus vindicating the past and directing the present course of events. Again, this should give Jeroboam every encouragement to heed Ahijah’s mandate, and should inspire him to listen to the authorized prophetic word if and when it should be declared in the future, lest the tables are turned and he become a foil for Rehoboam.

4 Objects of Control: Golden Calves 2.0 and the Distribution of Power

Through all the vicissitudes of Jeroboam’s story so far—his rise and promotion, Ahijah’s clandestine meeting and extravagant promise, the assassination attempt by Solomon and subsequent flight to Egypt, the assembly at Shechem culminating with his inauguration as the first king of the new northern kingdom—Jeroboam has not uttered a word of direct speech. It could be said that Jeroboam is presented as more of a “supporting actor” in 1 Kings 11:26–12:24, with those around him being the more active and aggressive characters. Solomon, Ahijah, Rehoboam, and even Shemaiah have the more vocal or dominant roles, while Jeroboam has a more indirect route to leadership over the new kingdom. In the next section of 1 Kings 12:25–33 the passivity and supporting role is poised to change, with Jeroboam moving to center stage in the narrative and occupying the major position under the spotlight. His narrative silence to this point will be shattered with a pair of utterances—one private and the other public—that in a number of respects will define his kingship. Furthermore, Jeroboam engages in scores of sweeping policy initiatives and ambitious building projects, most infamously the golden calves of Bethel and Dan. Recent theorists have averred that “both animate and inanimate objects function as agents or instruments of power, for example, texts, temples, rituals, artistic expression, and implements of war.”1 Such is the subject matter of this chapter, where Jeroboam’s cultic reforms and rival sanctuaries are explored. What is the motivation for building the golden calves? On the one hand, it could be argued that such activity is designed to be honoring to God, as the calves may simply be perceived as pedestals for the deity. On the other hand, in light of the parallel event of Exodus 32, the efforts of 1 Kings 12 could be seen as plagiarizing madness. Commentators are divided on this issue, with some liberally maintaining that there was no offense intended in

Jeroboam’s actions, while others demure that such objects come perilously close to violating the second commandment. Still other commentators occupy something of a middle ground, opining that the calves may not have been intended as idolatrous, but before long became a perennial stumbling block (see 12:30, “And this thing became a sin”).2 Perhaps the most serious questions raised below are whether Jeroboam’s programs constitute a misuse of power, and how such programs compare with Ahijah’s words of 11:38.

Construction zone Rehoboam’s offensive is aborted due to the prophetic word of Shemaiah, and there is no indication that Jeroboam was gathering northern troops in response. Instead the reader is presented with a different kind of activity from Jeroboam: “And Jeroboam built Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim, and lived in it. He then went out and built Penuel” (12:25). God has promised to “build” him an enduring house (11:38) just like God built for David, and Jeroboam’s reign begins with building cities. It is certainly appropriate that Jeroboam’s first action as a king is building, since this is how he first built his career; after all, Solomon initially promotes him during the Millo project, when he notices Jeroboam’s industriousness back in 11:27–28. Since Jeroboam was promoted over the labor force of the house of Joseph, his skill set presumably includes major architectural ventures. The building of 12:25 is not the only such activity in this section of the story (12:25–33), as there will be a great deal of construction during this stage of Jeroboam’s career, including construction of an alternative liturgy later in the chapter. When Jeroboam commences building (or rebuilding) Shechem, he is doing what he does best. Commentators usually cite several different reasons for this building program. Because Jeroboam then “lives” in Shechem, it is believed that the rebuilding is basically a renovation, as though there are necessary upgrades to transform this regional center into a capital city. A more common theory, though, is that the “(re)building” is actually a fortification, as though Jeroboam is anticipating future conflict and hostilities. Such fortifying is probably more a case of logistics rather than paranoia, but in this construction zone we do gain some access to Jeroboam’s strategic decision–making process. Further insight is gained when considering why Jeroboam then ventures to Penuel, located on the other side of the Jordan

where Jacob had his famous nocturnal wrestling match in Genesis 32. Similar to Shechem, commentators usually posit strategic reasons behind Jeroboam’s Penuel undertaking, such as establishing a security perimeter and/or extending control of the Transjordan region. There are, one could argue, sound strategic reasons why Jeroboam would venture to Penuel, but it is hard to escape a symbolic reasoning at work as well. In an intriguing essay on the subject of symbolic geography, Rachel Havrelock discusses the physical and metaphorical significance of the Jordan, and says: “Such a river, like the Jordan in the exodus narratives, bifurcates terrain while also marking an era of redemption distinct from the iniquities and humiliations of the past.”3 Likewise, Penuel—on the other side of the river—can be seen as a first step in the construction of Jeroboam’s kingship, beginning with a re–appropriation of the memories of the past in order to promulgate his social vision for the future.4 Another important site in Jeroboam’s cartography will be Bethel, a place that is endowed with memories comparable to Penuel (i.e., Jacob’s experiences in Genesis 28). Victor Matthews comments at length on Jeroboam’s political savvy in choosing Bethel: “he is an astute politician who understands the importance of both physical and authoritative space.”5 It is conceivable, then, that Jeroboam is beginning to construct a new identity for the northern kingdom based on the earliest and formative experiences of Israel’s eponymous ancestor. The construction zone of 12:25 raises the question of how Jeroboam understands the lineaments of his kingdom at this point in the story, and in light of the rupture at Shechem, how the partition is supposed to operate. It is entirely possible that the two separate kingdoms can coexist, with the first (Judah) under the house of David with eternal election, and the second (Israel) under the house of Jeroboam modeling conditional election; perhaps given the conditional nature, Jeroboam’s house is to conduct itself as an exemplar of obedience. The wild card that emerges here is the status of Jerusalem, mentioned prominently in Ahijah’s oracle. Jeroboam’s dominion is to be political, yet to what extent does this include or exclude Jerusalem? Recent scholars identify the keyword around the status of Jerusalem as “statutes,” such as when Ahijah’s oracle instructs Jeroboam to “keep my statutes” so that he can enjoy an enduring house (1 Kings 11:38). The statutes are thus understood as pertaining to cultic affairs; in this respect Solomon is guilty of malfeasance, whereas David, for all his other misdemeanors, is not.

Along these lines, James Linville extrapolates as follows: Jeroboam, therefore, was supposed to remain faithful to the proper religion of the Jerusalem temple. The implication that Jeroboam was to remain loyal to the Jerusalem temple puts an odd condition on his rule and on the independence of his kingdom. The central shrine for his people is to be found in a place outside of the kingdom. With this understanding, then, matters of separate political domains are presented as less important than cultic unity. It is easy to see how such a message could have been relevant to post–monarchic times, when political geography was determined by imperial organization, but Yahwistic religion was spread across such boundaries. One could only wonder whether the producers of Kings were implying that, had Jeroboam remained faithful to Jerusalem’s temple, there would have been two “houses” worthy of their fond memory, that of David and, perhaps, even more so, that of Jeroboam.6 To venture another step, one could hypothesize that the judgment against Solomon is primarily a territorial punishment for cultic deviance. When Ahijah tears his robe into twelve pieces, it points to Solomon’s mismanagement of the tribes by realigning them into tax districts. The jurisdiction of Jeroboam is presented as a new proposal that takes seriously tribal boundaries while, at the same time, respecting the integrity of the northern protest against royal excess. Because Ahijah’s oracle includes the utterance in 11:32 “for the sake of Jerusalem, the city that I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel,” Jeroboam’s ten shares becomes an ingenious solution to a very difficult provincial problem. The seriousness of cultic purity is underscored in the otherwise strange line of 1 Kings 15:5, “David did what was upright in the eyes of the LORD, and did not turn aside from all that he commanded him all the days of his life except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.” While commentators variously explain this enigmatic sentence, one can immediately perceive its relevance to Jeroboam’s career. Nathan the prophet condemns David in 2 Samuel 12:9–14 for using the battle against the Ammonites to liquidate Uriah, and thus the king manipulates a sacred battle for his own political/personal utility. If Jeroboam’s dynasty is ever imperiled, then a misjudgment around the status of Jerusalem would be the first place to

look for an error. The mention of Uriah in 1 Kings 15:5 might actually be helpful in that case. Misreading the sanctity of Jerusalem, it stands to reason, would be the beginning of a downfall. Such matters have to be considered when hearing Jeroboam’s first utterance in the next sentence, because the lineaments of his kingdom and the status of Jerusalem—as we are about to discover—are the subjects of his inner monologue in 12:26–27.

Mutinous soliloquy In dramatic literature the soliloquy can be used to great effect for the rendering of character and advancement of plot. A commonly cited example is Prince Hal in Henry IV, Part 1, where a soliloquy marks a transition in the audience’s understanding of the protagonist. As Harold Bloom explains, “Once Hal is alone at the end of act I, scene 2, he delivers a soliloquy in which he puts his behavior into a different context from where it had appeared to be to the audience and to his father. Hal is as much a politician and a crafter of his public image as Henry.”7 Inner monologues in biblical narrative occur, but not with a particularly high level of frequency (and certainly not as often as Elizabethan drama). A further difficulty is that inner speech in the Hebrew text is not always marked, and context is often the only guide. There are occasions in biblical narrative when the reader infers that a character is engaging in self–talk because the speaker is alone, with no obvious interlocutor. King Saul provides a ready test case, as there are several moments where he appears to be engaged in a form of inner brooding that is not explicitly indicated. For instance, in 1 Samuel 18:8 Saul hears the celebratory singing in the aftermath of victory over the Philistine(s): “Saul’s wrath was greatly kindled, and the matter was evil in his eyes, and he said [thought], ‘Ten thousands they give to David, but only thousands to me! What is left for him but the kingdom?’” Everything in this utterance points to a monologue, and as inner speech, the words are consistent with Saul’s overall characterization in this stretch of 1 Samuel (the reader can compare 18:17, 20:3, and 20:26 for similar moments). However, there are a number of cases where a soliloquy is unambiguously marked, and usually some form of the expression “said in his heart” is used. A typical example is David in 1 Samuel 27:1, before he becomes king: “David said in his heart

, ‘Now one of these days I will be swept away by the hand of Saul.’” Since David’s emotions are usually kept in check during this phase of the story, 27:1 is an important divulgence of his thinking. Therefore when the reader is privy to Jeroboam’s thoughts in 1 Kings 12:26–27, it is a watershed moment for his characterization. By my reckoning, Jeroboam is the only royal figure whose first utterance is self–talk, and 1 Kings 12:26–27 amounts to the longest soliloquy by an incumbent king in the entire DH: Jeroboam said in his heart, “Now the kingdom may return to the house of David. If this people go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then the heart of the people will return to their master, to Rehoboam king of Judah. Then they will kill me and return to Rehoboam king of Judah.” With one masterful stroke Jeroboam has become a far more complex figure, and the reader is invited to engage motive and psychological state like with few other northern kings.8 By privileging the reader with this interior window there is a substantial effect on Jeroboam’s characterization. Some scholars argue that to this point in the story Jeroboam is presented favorably, and thus generates a measure of sympathy from the reader, sympathy that is undercut through this soliloquy and the subsequent actions in the rest of 1 Kings 12:28–32.9 Nonetheless, when the content of the private voice is considered there may be other reasons why Jeroboam’s thought process is disclosed here, at this particular location in the narrative. It is notable that Jeroboam uses the term “kingdom” in his self–talk, as Ahijah thrice uses the word during his oracle (11:31, 34, 35). Ahijah clearly emphasizes that just like Jeroboam’s ripped coat, the Davidic kingdom will be ripped apart: Jeroboam is to receive ten portions, while one will remain with Solomon’s son “for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, the city that I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel” (11:32). Judging by his soliloquy, it is this very reconfiguration of the kingdom that forms the substance of Jeroboam’s equivocation, and the source of his fear of mutiny. Despite Ahijah’s insistence that he will rule over ten tribes, and having seen it actualized in recent events, Jeroboam nonetheless has a tremor of doubt with respect to the efficacy of the prophetic word. Furthermore, Ahijah’s oracle has been essentially confirmed by Shemaiah’s prophetic intervention, publicly announcing that God has endorsed Jeroboam’s

kingship. His popular acclamation and building projects (Shechem and Penuel) evidently do not mollify a nagging doubt about the loyalty of his new subjects, whom Jeroboam suspects will revert to the Davidic house. Given the rallying cry “Look to your own house, O David!” coupled with the violent stoning of Adoniram, it is not obvious where Jeroboam’s reasoning— that his “kingdom” will abandon him—originates. Nor is it clear how he imagines the rift being healed so swiftly so as to bring about a complete reversal of the schism, as though decades of resentment can simply be brushed under the carpet. It is possible that Jeroboam is now presented as a divided character, and consequently becomes a representation of the consciousness of a divided nation. This could be why the narrator allows the reader to see that Jeroboam’s first concern is a loss of power, even in the face of generous evidence to the contrary. The new king has just been described in a proactive building campaign of the symbolic sites Shechem and Penuel, but now the legitimate rebel fears an illegitimate rebellion. The picture of the new king’s inner conflict refracts the national fragmentation; after all, the two nations were nearly consumed with a civil war. It is almost as though before there is a listing of any abuses of royal power, there is a moment where the author draws attention to an Achilles heel of inner doubt, and it could be that this moment becomes a comment on northern royalty in general, paradigmatic of Israel’s parade of kings to follow in Jeroboam’s wake. The impulse to reunite—so Jeroboam deliberates in the heart of the monologue—will be exacerbated if the people journey to offer sacrifices in Jerusalem. Whether the people are swayed by sentimentality, the opulence of the temple, wistful affection for David, or some combination of these factors is not specified, nor is the matter of Jerusalem as the spiritual capital of all Israel (though ruled by another king) raised in Jeroboam’s mind. Instead, there is an apparently greater agitation: twice in the soliloquy Jeroboam refers to his southern counterpart, Rehoboam. The double reference seems to betray a concern that if the people are even exposed to Rehoboam, they will be influenced to reinstate him to the kingship. Jeroboam even goes as far as labeling Rehoboam as “their lord/master” during his inner speculations. On the one hand, it is curious how often self–talk is related to a rival, or a moment of high anxiety (compare the examples of both Saul and David above). On the other hand, Rehoboam is hardly presented as an intimidating

figure during the negotiations earlier in 1 Kings 12, and comes across as rather absurd when he hurriedly departs the scene in Shechem, no doubt with rocks striking the back of his chariot just as they struck his (former) chief of forced labor. Jeroboam certainly appears to be the stronger and more authoritative individual, so why is he concerned about the people reverting to Rehoboam? Through the fear factor expressed in the soliloquy, Stuart Lasine notices an intersection of these two characters here: “Thus, the rivals ‘Jeroboam’ and ‘Rehoboam’ whose throne–names express a desire for the people to be great and to expand, share a fear that the people of Israel might use their expanding power to assassinate them.”10 Worrying about Rehoboam is unreasonable for the simple reasons that Rehoboam is not competent, and he has been prophetically reduced to reigning over a morsel of the Solomonic empire. The odds are not in favor of the northerners inexplicably reverting to Rehoboam at the first opportunity; given his quantifiable ineptitude at Shechem, such would seem a long shot at best. It could be argued that Jeroboam’s anxiety about Rehoboam indicates a turn in his characterization: the industrious manager who is promoted by Solomon and sports a new coat does not seem to be the kind of figure who needs to be concerned with those of Rehoboam’s ilk. The gravest concern in Jeroboam’s inner monologue is the threat of death at the hands of his new constituents. Though not visible to the reader, the threat must be felt by Jeroboam who fears becoming a pale imitation of Adoniram. To be sure, the northern crowd has recently acted like a goon– squad, but then, Adoniram is hardly an attractive figure; in fact, Adoniram is something of a farcical actant in the story (as a French narratologist might put it). After the building of Shechem and Penuel, ostensibly for security purposes, the reader glimpses this moment of in security. Jeroboam’s fear of a premature obituary cuts against the grain of expectation: given the prophetic words, recent triumphs, and industrious self–made nature, we picture a confident leader ready to usher in a brave new world. Instead, the soliloquy edges Jeroboam closer to Saul with his persistent brooding and paranoia. Another cause for surprise is that Jeroboam has faced death before— Solomon deigned to kill him in 1 Kings 11:40. But of course Solomon has a long history of dispatching rivals, and an impressive résumé of assassinations; here, Jeroboam has just been crowned, and it is more difficult to locate the grounds for his suspicions of rebellious overthrow. In his oft–

quoted essay comparing the Bible and Greek epic, Erich Auerbach points to the achievement of rendering human personality in biblical narrative: “the ‘multilayeredness’ of the individual character; this is hardly to be met with in Homer, or at most in the form of a conscious hesitation between two possible courses of action; otherwise, in Homer, the complexity of the psychological life is shown only in the succession and alternation of emotions; whereas the Jewish writers are able to express the simultaneous existence of various layers of consciousness and the conflict between them.”11 Akin to an enigmatic smile in a famous painting, the wisest option at this point is to leave Jeroboam’s inner words unfinalized, and appreciate that the words create a nuanced and three–dimensional character who is now more mysterious than before. While I am less confident that I know what the soliloquy means, I can certainly see what it does in the storyline. A soliloquy, as mentioned above, can influence plot development. The results of Jeroboam’s self–deliberation and what happens next in the narrative will permanently affect the northern political and religious landscape.

The die is cast A prominent theme in the first section of 1 Kings 12 is taking counsel, as Rehoboam seeks advice in 12:6 (“Then King Rehoboam took counsel,” and again in 12:8 from both the elders and his younger cohorts. That theme is continued in Jeroboam’s soliloquy, as in 12:28 he too seeks advice just as his Judean counterpart: “The king took counsel , and he made two golden calves.” In the first instance, a question arises: with whom does Jeroboam take counsel, since no second party is identified in the narrative? For Marvin Sweeney, Jeroboam confers with his “subjects,” who I assume must be his Ephraimite confederates: “The statement in verse 28 that Jeroboam took counsel with his subjects hardly inspires confidence insofar as the book of Judges points to Ephraim as an abusive tribe that will provoke civil war to advance its own power and to the northern tribes in general as subject to Canaanite religious influence.”12 On the contrary, Stuart Lasine thinks that Jeroboam takes counsel “with himself, not with the kind of counselors upon whom his rival Rehoboam had been so utterly dependent.”13 This is an attractive theory because it allows Jeroboam’s independence to be compared with Rehoboam’s vacillations, a

contrast supported by the overall narrative. However, the verb form used is exactly the same as for Rehoboam, which does not have a reflexive aspect, and so the purpose must be to establish a deliberate parallel between the characters, but with completely different outcomes. Jeroboam may officially receive counsel, but in all likelihood it is a mere formality. A talented politician, there is every appearance of going through the bureaucratic motions of consultation, but in reality it is more likely that he has his own plan that receives consent and sanction here. This is the most plausible reason why no counselors are named in 12:28. It may sound a bit shadowy, but no counselors are named in order to illustrate that Jeroboam still has the same industrious nature, but now with a radically different kind of application and in a whole new executive office. Again there is a contrast with Rehoboam, who implements few of his own ideas. As a result, Jeroboam is far more developed and inventive as a character. Furthermore, for the first time in the narrative Jeroboam is referred to with the formal title “the king,” perhaps drawing attention to his autonomy. But if he wants to keep the title, Jeroboam—according to his earlier deliberation—has to do something that will utterly displace Jerusalem. He is trying to manage a constituency who sing “Look to your house, O David!” The key point at issue here is the understanding of the term house, and Jeroboam interprets the term as temple. Therefore, with uncommon audacity and acting on the primal urge of survival, he begins the construction of an alternative liturgy. Unveiling the centerpiece(s) of this new liturgy happens in a ceremony where Jeroboam’s first public speech as king is heard, a speech that begins with something of a campaign slogan: “Enough of your going up to Jerusalem!” Jeroboam’s assertion does not deign to specify in what sense— economic, religious, or both—the journey to Jerusalem has become burdensome. If Solomon is overly loquacious during his own ceremony of 1 Kings 8, Jeroboam is tersely antithetical. Of course, the reader knows that despite Ahijah’s repeated insistence on the sanctity of Jerusalem, Jeroboam fears that a corporate visit to that city will result in his own dethroning. So he elliptically begins his speech with a unique spin on the matter of pilgrimage, one that is consistent with the private thoughts of his soliloquy. There is a parallel here with Saul: in 1 Samuel 18:17 he publicly tells David to “Be valorous and fight” against the Philistines, but privately he calculates that David will fall by those same Philistine hands. Jeroboam, though, goes a dramatic step further, as he not only intones that visits to Jerusalem need to

end, but he then points to an alternative, the golden calves he has made: “Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!” Suddenly Sheba’s lyrics are not the only recycled item in 1 Kings 12. Jeroboam’s unveiling speech is, most readers agree, a deliberate echo of Aaron’s words in Exodus 32:4, here rebooted and doubled for this spectacle. But given the debacle that ensues in Exodus 32—and the Mosaic fury directed toward Aaron—what is Jeroboam up to with his own pair of golden calves? “There is a tide in the affairs of men/Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.”14 Although drastic, Jeroboam’s bovine project apparently garnered sufficient public support from the outset. Most likely Jeroboam was capitalizing on an anti–Jerusalem sentiment, and his speech represents a grassroots appeal to a northern crowd appalled with the excesses of the Solomonic headquarters. Along these lines, Mark Leuchter understands the calves as a response to “a public that had no desire to abide by Davidic norms of any sort.”15 It is possible that there is some satirical derision hovering in the background as well, and Jeroboam could conceivably be pointing out that his reloaded iconography restores the “itinerancy” of traditional Yahwism.16 This would be perceived as a reaction to the “permanence” of the Jerusalem temple—constructed with the cedars of Lebanon, in close proximity to the palace of the Davidic dynasty.17 The calves epitomize his political platform to ensure that there will never be a return to the labor force ruled by the south. Whether or not Jeroboam delivers these words with a hint of satire, he surely intends the speech to provide the most decisive break imaginable with the southern regime and a deliberate reflex to the wilderness tradition, forging links with the past far more daring than the building projects of Shechem and Penuel. This is a bold move, and part of his re–branding of the north with a renewed identity rooted in the old tribal traditions. As one theorist puts it, “it is the recognized ability to expound the true memory of the group that constitutes the core of religious power.”18 Of course, one could demur that Jeroboam’s use of history is rather selective and idiosyncratic, but it is hard to deny that he allegorizes the situation whereby Jerusalem and the Davidic House are functionally equivalent to Egypt and Pharaoh. Jeroboam obviously is taking seriously the revision in the song lyrics “Look to your own house, O David!” and forges a unique political and religious identity in the north.

An interesting irony now emerges: Jeroboam is first promoted when successfully carrying out repairs on Jerusalem, and now he is trying to cement his power base through a complete breach with Jerusalem. There may be some northerners who are somewhat disconcerted about Jeroboam’s elevation to the kingship; after all, he was personally appointed by Solomon as head of the forced labor over the house of Joseph. If he needs a dramatic gesture to illustrate a comprehensive break with the south, Jeroboam could hardly have chosen a more stunning example. But a further strategy is evident in his next move: in order to secure his hold on the kingdom, he installs the calves in the northern locales of Bethel and Dan respectively (12:29). Like Penuel, Bethel is associated with the Jacob traditions of the past (Gen. 28), named by Jacob as “house of God” and identified as a sacred place. Dan is located in the far north of the land, and a journey there—for most Israelites— would be in the opposite direction from Jerusalem. Unlike Solomon, Jeroboam respects the tribal boundaries rather than reconfiguring them. Therefore the point is not simply what kinds of shrines Jeroboam builds, but also where he builds them. Building is Jeroboam’s strength, and he intuits that symbolic space is a useful commodity.19 In contrast to Rehoboam, who musters an army and attempts to wage war, Jeroboam focuses on the images, spaces and stories that form the core of Israel’s memories. The fact that he establishes two shrines may suggest an attempt to double Jerusalem, as well as circumambulate the people north (toward Dan) rather than south (toward the temple). After the installation of the calves in the two locales, the narrator provides a direct evaluation of the program in 12:30, “This thing was a sin” . An overt judgment or intervention by the narrator has not been a common occurrence during the story of the schism in 1 Kings 12, with the comment on dual causality in 12:16 being the closest analogue. The sense of the term “sin” and its related verbal form is to miss a target or take a wrong turn, and in my opinion the best way of interpreting this line is on the basis of Ahijah’s oracle. What misses the mark is not just the golden calves as such, but the eschewing of Jerusalem. According to Ahijah’s terms, this constitutes a violation of the “statutes,” and thus a pivotal condition of the oracle is trespassed. Ahijah, we speculate, is not consulted about the establishment of the shrines in Bethel and Dan, and presumably he is not among the group with whom Jeroboam confers. The reader is unsure whether

Ahijah’s absence is deliberate (i.e., he is not invited by the king) or his absence is a mere coincidence at this point in Jeroboam’s career. Nonetheless, one may have thought that after Solomon’s death and Jeroboam’s elevation to the kingship, Ahijah would ascend to a prominent place in the royal administration.

Crossing the Rubicon While Jeroboam’s initiatives are remarkably inventive (not to mention successful, by all indications), one could level the charge that these measures are also a misuse of power. Most likely, this is the reason why the narrator chooses to disclose the assessment about missing the mark at this particular juncture in the narrative. In a study of Foucault’s work, M. A. R. Habib notes the following: “New methods of power,” Foucault maintains, “operate not ‘by right but by technique, not by law but by normalization, not by punishment but by control.’ And, in order to operate effectively, power must mask at least a part of itself.”20 In terms of coercion, Solomon and Rehoboam sought to discipline and punish, whereas Jeroboam seeks different avenues of control, and utilizes the rival sanctuaries as a new method of power. As far as the narrative architecture in this stretch of text, there is a structural analogy between Solomon’s building ideology and Jeroboam’s. The work of two scholars is notable in this regard. First, Richard Nelson has a general comment on the larger literary design: “Whether this dark parallel to Solomon’s temple building and sacrifices is based on genuine annalistic sources or is pure fiction, in either case it defines the all–important motif of Jeroboam’s sin for the rest of the Book of Kings.”21 Second, Graeme Auld observes a deeper connection with the Exodus account of the tabernacle: “In both Exodus and Kings the making of the ‘true’ shrine is reported first and in greatest detail (Exod. 25–31 and 1 Kings 5–8), then the ‘distortion’ more briefly (Exod. 32 and 1 Kings 12). Both texts are designed to legitimate the shrine in Jerusalem, and its furniture, and its priesthood (cf. v.31).”22 To these considerations one could add a further question: if part of Jeroboam’s appeal is to counter the policies of an oppressive regime, is there nonetheless a risk that Jeroboam could become Solomon redivivus? Moreover, as this eventful section moves toward a conclusion (1 Kings 12:31–32) we see that the rival sanctuaries are only the beginning of Jeroboam’s reforms:

And he made a house of high places, and made priests out of the extremity of the people, who were not among the descendants of Levi. Jeroboam made a festival in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day, similar to the one in Judah, and brought up offerings on the altar. Thus he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves he had made. He appointed priests in Bethel on the high places which he had made. Some aspects of these and other of Jeroboam’s reforms will be discussed in the next chapter, but for the moment, the most drastic amendments involve cultic personnel and calendar reforms, as non–Levites are appointed as religious professionals and a new date for a major festival is instituted. Such innovations can hardly have been invented out of whole cloth, and it is reasonable to assume that Jeroboam’s efforts point to the cultural complexities of Israel’s breadth of ideological syncretism.23 Still, if Jeroboam is exploiting the anti–Solomonic sentiments of the northern constituency, it would seem that a small part of these reforms could be located under the aegis of his mandate from Ahijah, with the rest as his own political opportunism. If the reforms begin as an expression of resistance to the exploitation of Solomon, they quickly move to an entirely new level, beyond resistance toward redefinition. While Jeroboam remains a more mysterious figure than any of his royal antecedents, it is clear that he adopts a completely different approach than David and Solomon. The absence of any marriage alliances is the first difference, but others soon surface. Yet some of the differences may be superficial. Solomon mastered the art of political diplomacy in the transnational sphere of intermarriage and strategic partnerships, as well as the internal political sphere of gerrymandering the tribal boundaries (not to mention forced labor and heavy taxation). Jeroboam’s reforms—at this point in the narrative—take place mainly in the religious sphere, where his tactic is the opposite of Solomon’s: the Jerusalem temple has an elitist ambience, whereas Jeroboam opens up the priesthood with a far more populist approach.24 Regardless of how one finally interprets these complex issues, Jeroboam’s capacity for industry and building is now fully utilized in the construction of an alternative liturgy. His hallmark productivity, in fact, seems to accelerate and diversify with astonishing rapidity. Furthermore, Jeroboam conducts his reformation without any chorus of internal opposition that is reported in the

narrative. Such silence—as seen in the story of Solomon’s building campaigns—probably does not imply universal consent from his constituency, but one suspects that Jeroboam’s approval ratings are fairly high at this point. Nonetheless, we will see in the next chapter that not everyone is supportive; no sooner does Jeroboam’s new festival get underway than an uninvited guest will arrive to, quite literally, crash the party.

5 Play–Within–A–Play: The Altar and the Allegory of 1 Kings 13

Among the most enigmatic narratives in all of Israel’s royal history is 1 Kings 13, with its two distinct parts and crushing denouement. The first part of the chapter takes place in Bethel and showcases a memorable confrontation between Jeroboam and an unnamed man of God from Judah, while the second part features a bizarre account of this same man of God interacting with a similarly unnamed old prophet of Bethel. On the surface, these two episodes of 1 Kings 13 do not share that much in common (other than the man of God from Judah). Jeroboam is prominent in the first part (13:1–10), but formally absent in the second (13:11–32), until a brief summary report at the end (13:33–34). The juxtaposition of the two parts has made scholars uneasy, in particular the second part of the chapter, as it is not immediately clear why this narrative is placed in the midst of the account of Jeroboam’s reign, or precisely how it contributes to the larger storyline.1 My analysis of 1 Kings 13 develops a reading of the two parts of this chapter as it relates to Jeroboam’s characterization, with special emphasis on 13:11–32 as a “play–within–a–play,” a type of political allegory that functions as a subtle reflection on the fate of Jeroboam’s kingship.2 Structurally, the first part of 1 Kings 13 represents a continuation of 12:33, and unfolds a new perspective on Jeroboam’s cultic machinery. An itinerant man of God—without any formal introduction, but of Judean provenance— arrives at the newly consecrated shrine of Bethel at the moment Jeroboam is about to offer a sacrifice. Except for some shared language, the ensuing altercation between king and prophet is quite different from Jeroboam’s earlier experience with Ahijah of Shiloh, and involves a variety of dramatic elements: a definitive word of condemnation directed at the altar, the startling announcement of a Davidic scion named Josiah (who will be born several hundred years in the future), an attempted arrest, a withered hand, and

some oddly calm dialogue about hospitality. Each of these elements contributes to Jeroboam’s overall characterization, and thus warrants consideration in my analysis. In apparent contrast, the second part of 1 Kings 13 features a strange excursus as the man of God from Judah interacts with an old prophet from Bethel. The dialogue between these two prophetic figures includes both lying and stern denunciation, and there are cameo appearances by an amazingly collegial lion and donkey. I will argue that this lengthy scene has a number of implications for both Jeroboam’s portrait and some of the larger thematic contours of the narrative. Previous source–critical and redactional scholarship insisted on a separation between the two parts of 1 Kings 13, but the narrative analysis undertaken in this chapter will illustrate the value of reading the two parts together.

Festive occasion Ever since Jeroboam’s entrance into the narrative—complete with ripped coat and Ahijah’s oracle—a combination of factors collided to generate a favorable impression in the reader’s mind. Most people appreciate a good story about heroes who overcome great obstacles before toppling corroded regimes, and such was Jeroboam’s profile through most of 1 Kings 12. However, Jeroboam’s stock has declined within a fairly short amount of narrative space, similar to a high–level business leader being accused of fraud or a gifted politician being charged with racketeering. Raised up for the purpose of resisting Solomon’s ideological model, Jeroboam is beginning to resemble his former employer, even to the point of acting the part of the high priest, as we will see in a moment. The traditional chapter division in standard English translations can be misleading, as it creates an excessive visual separation between 12:33 and 13:1. The Hebrew text of 12:33–13:1 can be read with a more seamless transition, rendered as follows: He ascended upon the altar that he had made in Bethel, on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, in the month that he alone had invented. He made a festival for the sons of Israel, and ascended the altar to burn incense. But look, a man of God arrived from Judah by the word of the LORD to Bethel, just as Jeroboam was standing upon the altar about to burn incense!

As though composed for performance, this scene is designed as the capstone of the cultic accoutrements of 12:28–32, including the golden calves in Bethel and Dan, installations of high places, non–Levitical appointments, and calendar modifications. Most scholars have invested their time debating the degree(s) to which each of these innovations is a violation of Mosaic law, numerous points that I am willing to concede.3 However, my interest lies primarily in Jeroboam’s motive for constructing the alternative liturgy, and how such construction exceeds the parameters of his commission in Ahijah’s oracle. As Gary Knoppers states, “Rather than divine mandate, human anxiety motivates Jeroboam’s enfranchisement of Bethel and Dan. Jeroboam’s trepidations about his people’s sacrificing at ‘the temple of YHWH in Jerusalem’ assume that the Jerusalem temple is YHWH’s temple.”4 Consequently, there is an interesting description in 12:33 about “the month that he alone had invented” , or following the Qere of the MT, “that he invented from his heart” ; What needs to be probed, it seems to me, is the possibility that Jeroboam changes the calendar as a security measure, the temporal equivalent of fortifying Shechem and Penuel. This motive provides a vivid backdrop for the confrontation at the beginning of chapter 13, when the unnamed man of God from Judah materializes at the very moment Jeroboam is climbing the flight of steps on the altar in Bethel—a site made famous by Jacob’s stairway to heaven those many years ago. Some prophets have a knack for impressive timing. Earlier in the DH, King Saul found himself on the horns of a dilemma: he needed to wait for the prophet Samuel to offer the sacrifices, but Samuel was nowhere to be found at the appointed time, and the troops were scattering. So Saul went ahead and offered the sacrifice (1 Sam. 13:10), when right at that moment, “look, Samuel arrived ,” and Saul was subject to a scathing prophetic harangue. The situation in 1 Kings 13:1 is similar: just as Jeroboam is about to burn the offering, the man of God arrives from the south. The timing might also be noteworthy because of the occasion: Mordechai Cogan argues that Jeroboam is mounting the altar for the first time, meaning it is the inauguration of the new holiday, with Jeroboam choreographing the ceremony of dedication.5 This could be the reason for the threefold repetition of the phrase “he ascended upon the altar” in 12:32–13:1,

as though the narrator is preparing for confrontation by creating a sense of incremental momentum. As the man of God arrives with the king on the threshold of sacrifice, it is hard to picture a more dramatic tableau. But the timing of the visit during the festive occasion is only one component; the reader also needs to further inquire as to the identity of this mysterious man of God. The anonymity of this messenger might imply an element of danger, much like Ahijah’s furtiveness in 1 Kings 11 implied a threat from the king—a threat that gained in plausibility when Jeroboam was forced to flee from Solomon’s assassination attempt. Here in chapter 13 the tables are turned, and if there is a threat of danger, it now issues from Jeroboam. In this case, the ambience of implied danger foreshadows Jeroboam’s actions as this episode unfolds, as his gestures will be more physically aggressive than any we have seen until now. At the same time, the absence of Ahijah in this scene is curious, and one wonders if he is in hiding once again, as he evidently was during Solomon’s reign. There is another significant factor in the anonymity, since this is not the first time in the DH an anonymous prophetic figure shows up unannounced to speak with a national leader and give a sign. Back in 1 Samuel 2:27 an unnamed man of God announces doom for the house of Eli, with cultic malfeasance a central reason for condemnation. If there is an echo of that dire account here in 1 Kings 13, it would portend serious trouble for Jeroboam.

Altar call Based on the datum of 1 Samuel 2:27–36 the reader could reasonably expect a personal lambasting of the king and his grim prospects for the days ahead. It is an unforeseen development, then, when the king is not addressed at all. Instead of an individual confrontation with Jeroboam, the man of God from Judah follows a completely different course in 1 Kings 13:2, with a unique kind of utterance: “He called out against the altar according to the word of the LORD, and he said, ‘O Altar, Altar!’” Such a strange and monumental utterance does not miss the omnivorous eye of John Van Seters, who notices that the man of God neither denounces the apostasies nor censures the king directly: “He only utters this curious prediction against the altar that Jeroboam has built.”6 J. T. Walsh has a more detailed discussion of the

anomalous event: “When he delivers his oracle, he ignores the king, who is standing nearby in full panoply, and prefers to direct his words to an inanimate object, the altar itself—a striking, if not unique, example of prophetic apostrophe.”7 This idea of apostrophe can be further nuanced, and I would submit that 1 Kings 13 is the most apostrophic chapter of the entire DH. Literary theorists usually classify apostrophe as a rhetorical trope whereby “the speaker addresses a dead or absent person, or an abstraction or inanimate object.” This figure is “found frequently among the speeches of Shakespeare’s characters, as when Elizabeth in Richard III addresses the Tower of London: ‘Pity, you ancient stones, those tender babes, Whom envy hath immured within your walls.’”8 Of course, in that play Richard of Gloucester will shortly murder the young princes, Elizabeth’s sons, and therefore the direct invocation to the very stones of the Tower itself carries an almost visionary intensity. An influential study of apostrophe in literature is undertaken by Jonathan Culler, who begins by citing Quintilian’s (b. 35 CE) definition of the term as “a diversion of our words to address some person other than the judge.”9 When the man of God uses the apostrophe “O Altar, Altar!” there are some immediate rhetorical advantages. Not only does it momentarily deflect attention from “the judge” (Jeroboam), but it effectively turns the altar into the idolater. By addressing the installation in the first instance, the man of God succeeds in earning a larger audience for his speech, as though his forthcoming words have significance even beyond the king’s tenure. The apostrophic address is a speech act that is, quite specifically, beyond the king’s grasp and outside of his control. As Culler further comments, “to apostrophize is to will a state of affairs, to attempt to call it into being by asking inanimate objects to bend themselves to your desire. In these terms the function of apostrophe would be to make the objects of the universe potentially responsive forces,” says Culler, “which can be asked to act or refrain from acting or even to continue behaving as they usually behave. The apostrophizing poet identifies his universe as a world of sentient forces.”10 Whether or not the man of God implies that the altar has been built for political reasons, personifying this structure creates the feel of a funeral oration, setting the tone for his forthcoming speech that predicts the altar’s death, rebirth, and ultimate destruction in the distant horizon. Furthermore, as

the reader glances ahead in the chapter a dark irony is perceptible, because this is not the last funeral oration in 1 Kings 13. As we will see, the man of God himself will be apostrophized later in the chapter. In my view this is an intentional literary strategy, given that the man of God from Judah and Jeroboam have a similar career trajectory. Both characters are raised up to counter the corruption of a king, only to experience a catastrophic turn of fortune later on. But before that, something else will fall: the recently apostrophized altar.

Sign language For Jonathan Culler, “one might be justified in taking apostrophe as the figure of all that is most radical, embarrassing, pretentious, and mystificatory in the lyric.”11 Indeed, the biblical critic might appropriate this sentiment and implore that the man of God’s apostrophic address to the altar is the figure of all that is “most radical, embarrassing, pretentious, and mystificatory” in 1 Kings 13. Having said that, the prophetic apostrophe is only the beginning of strange happenings in the chapter, and the situation is now poised to become even weirder. There are more signs to pursue in 13:2 as the man of God’s utterance continues: “Thus says the LORD, ‘Look, a son will be born to the house of David, Josiah by name, and he will sacrifice upon you the priests of the high places and those who burn incense upon you, and human bones will be burned on you!’” The reference to Josiah—who does not enter the storyline until 2 Kings 22–23, some three centuries from now—has long discomfited scholars, many of whom call out vaticinium ex eventu with the same passion that the man of God cries “O Altar, Altar!” My interest here is less in redactional theories and more in rhetorical efficacy; so, in the context of this episode, how does the reference to Josiah work? In light of the larger Jeroboam narrative, the Josiah predication is notable for what it does not say as well: there is no mention of inherent political opposition between north and south, nor, for that matter, any talk of reunification. The main point is cultic judgment executed by a future Davidic offshoot. Jeroboam’s fear—based on his earlier soliloquy—is a national defection to Rehoboam (and Jerusalem), yet this oracle only forecasts the eventual fumigation of the altar in Bethel. Consequently, the Josiah reference represents a key structural irony in the narrative. Jeroboam is raised up as a

punishment to the house of David, but in the days ahead (so the man of God declares) the roles will be reversed, and someone from the house of David will be raised up to purge the altar built by Jeroboam. Perhaps to underscore the reality of the prophetic word, the highly unusual notation of a proper name is disclosed. Still, as radical as it sounds, the Josiah reference is not the only predictive prophecy in the chapter; in 13:32, as will soon be analyzed, there is another long–range forecast concerning Samaria that is just as politically charged. Atypical as it is, this speech is far from over, and continues with an equally bizarre moment in 13:3. As though the mention of Josiah does not raise enough eyebrows, it is followed up with a fantastic sign from the man of God: “On that same day he gave a sign, saying, ‘This is the miraculous sign which the LORD speaks: Look, the altar will be ripped and the ashes that are on it poured out!’” The reader immediately recognizes the key verb “rip” in connection with the “ripping” of Solomon’s kingdom back in 11:11. But even more pertinent for Jeroboam at the moment, the same verb is used with reference to his own new coat, having been “ripped” by Ahijah and followed with an invitation to grab ten pieces. The same verb must now painfully measure the reversal of fortune: first Jeroboam’s new coat is (positively) ripped by the prophet, now his new altar is about to be (negatively) ripped apart, practically self–destructing by the power of the prophetic word. It is notable how Ahijah’s word here intersects with that of the man of God from Judah, and one assumes it is somewhat analogous to the final divine warning to Solomon after his interminable prayer of temple dedication (1 Kings 9:3–9).

Handcuffed The man of God may not have addressed the king personally, but evidently Jeroboam interprets the apostrophe as a circumlocution directed at himself. If designed as a warning, then it is a warning that Jeroboam opts not to heed. With his most aggressive action so far in the narrative (13:4), the king hears the word proclaimed against the altar and orders the arrest of the uninvited visitor from Judah: “Jeroboam stretched forth his hand from the altar, saying, ‘Seize him !’” From an intertextual standpoint, this is an arresting verb choice, since Ahijah earlier seized Jeroboam’s new coat as a preface to

his oracle of investiture wherein he is called to oppose the king (11:30). Now, Jeroboam deploys the same verb in an attempt to incarcerate an ideological dissident. Nevertheless, when Jeroboam stretches forth his hand and issues the imperative to seize the man of God, ultimately it is a powerless gesture. The movement of the king’s hand away from the altar and toward the accused delinquent signals a downward turn in Jeroboam’s characterization. But an even more gripping element in the scene is still to come, as there is a physical restraining order that engulfs the king: “His hand that he stretched out against him became dry, and he could not make it return to him.” In the most dangerous event to befall him since Solomon’s assassination attempt, Jeroboam is dramatically handicapped. So now instead of arresting, Jeroboam’s hand is arrested, and the reader immediately grasps the significance of the term “hand” in the larger narrative. Solomon earlier is told that his kingdom will be ripped apart, and given into the hand of his servant (11:12). Then, Jeroboam is said to raise his hand against Solomon (11:26). In 12:15 the narrator discloses the dual causality at work, when the reader is told that the divine word imparted through the hand of Ahijah is being fulfilled. Now, Jeroboam’s hand—into which the northern kingdom was given—is now functionally useless. Hand, of course, is synonymous with power in the Hebrew Bible, and Jeroboam’s power effectively has been neutralized. The man of God is proving difficult for Jeroboam to handle, and the situation further disintegrates in 13:5. The apostrophic address was probably not the best public relations moment for Jeroboam’s new altar, nor for that matter is his withered hand. Yet the situation gets even worse: “Then the altar was ripped, and the ashes from the altar poured out, according to the sign that the man of God gave by the word of the LORD!” Special effects of this magnitude impress more than just the reader; losing his grip and witnessing the sign fulfilled have a remarkable effect on Jeroboam as well. Abandoning the quest for arrest, he instead has a request for the man of God: “Entreat, please, the face of the LORD your God and pray for me, that my hand may be returned.” This about–face reveals a deeper complexity in Jeroboam’s characterization. It is something of a cliché in literary criticism that round characters are those who exhibit the greatest capacity for genuine surprise, yet surely that is the case here with Jeroboam, as he implores the man of God to intercede on his behalf. Having just publicly issued the arrest order, this must be a moment of humility for the king. Here there is a contrast with

Solomon, who, despite several warnings directly from God, does not modify his conduct in the least. When Jeroboam experiences the ripped altar and physical impairment, it leads to a recognition of true power and an authority that exceeds the royal hand. Just as Jeroboam’s request for prayer would have been hard to predict, equally surprising is the man of God’s wordless compliance: “The man of God entreated the LORD’s face, and the king’s hand returned to him, and it was just like it had been in the beginning” (13:6). The healing probably signifies a moment of grace in the king’s career, as though clemency is extended and he is granted theological parole. At the very least, the healing generates an offer of hospitality from the two–handed king, no doubt relieved: “Come to the house with me and be refreshed, and I will give you a gift” (13:7). Jeroboam’s reasons for extending this invitation are debated by scholars, and Richard Nelson summarizes the matter: “The motive for the king’s invitation is left unexpressed. Is it gratitude, an effort to come into contact with a person of blessing, or an attempt to bribe the prophet and defuse the threat of his oracle?”12 In the absence of any concrete evidence, one may have to suppose there is nothing underhanded about Jeroboam’s offer. Still, later episodes may suggest that the king’s repentance—if that is the best label—will be more of a fleeting affair, and we should note that this is not the last time Jeroboam will offer a gift to a prophet. Regardless of the motives behind the offer, both the gift and the hospitality are emphatically declined in 13:8–10: “The man of God said to the king, ‘If you were to give me half your house I would not go with you, and I would not eat food or drink water in this place. For thus he commanded me by the word of the LORD, saying, “Do not eat food, drink water, or return by the way that you came.”’” It is now revealed that Jeroboam is not the only one whose hands are tied in this episode. The man of God provides something of a retrospective on his commission, disclosing that he is not allowed to receive the king’s openhandedness. He does not, however, elucidate why he is given such a prohibition, and again scholars speculate. For Roger Tomes, accepting hospitality would amount to a “delay.”13 I assume Tomes means that such a delay would militate against the sense of chronological urgency ushered in by the man of God, as though time is running out for the king and there is no time even for refreshment. For Terence Fretheim, “The prohibition and the refusal reinforce the word as a public renunciation of the ritual activity of Bethel.”14 Jeroboam has already

invited the visitor home, and thus acknowledged the status of the man of God. By refusing the king’s offer, there is an implicit condemnation of the cultic installations in the city. Walter Brueggemann discusses the danger of “fraternization with any of the Northerners,” as though the co–mingling of the two kingdoms is the problem.15 None of these reasons, though, are proffered by the man of God, who simply quits Bethel: “Then he went by another way other than the one that he came to Bethel.” As the scene ends, the man of God may depart by a different way with a fragmented altar behind him, but his (supernatural) adventure is far from over.

The sting With the departure of the man of God from the smoldering embers of Jeroboam’s altar in Bethel, a new phase in the story begins. The excursus in the second part of 1 Kings 13 has long been troubling for scholars, and aptly labeled as “one of the most daunting interpretative puzzles among the prose narratives of the OT.”16 Numerous readers have been offended by the blatant skullduggery and absence of an obvious moral lesson: at first blush, the deceiver is rewarded while the innocent victim is harshly penalized for something that amounts to apparent naïveté. Furthermore, since Jeroboam is not mentioned by name in 13:11–32, it is not immediately clear how this long section contributes to his characterization, and this excursus is the first event since the division of the kingdom that does not explicitly involve a royal figure. Nonetheless, my analysis will endeavor to draw attention to several possibilities as to why this material is included at this particular point in the story, and how it operates within its larger textual milieu. The first stage of the episode (13:11–17) commences with the introduction of a new and most peculiar character: the “old” prophet of Bethel. A survey of research on this material in the past century indicates that older studies were preoccupied with isolating the vocational differences between the office of man of God and prophet. More recent critics, though, tend to argue that the terms are essentially synonymous here, and serve primarily to individualize the two unnamed characters from north and south. Indeed, the very fact that both of these figures are unnamed directs attention toward an intentional literary strategy, and signals that they carry a parabolic role in the episode. In terms of the new character from Bethel, an important disclosure is that he is

“old” , and naturally opinions among commentators vary as to the significance of his age. In my view, the reader is informed of the prophet’s age in order to convey that his career has spanned the reigns of several kings, and like Ahijah, he has somehow managed to survive. Moreover, he has to be informed of recent events in Bethel by a third party—in this case his son(s)— strongly suggesting he is not a significant player in Jeroboam’s administration. If he is a marginalized figure like Ahijah, it could immediately enhance the old prophet’s credibility. Duly informed by his offspring, the old prophet mounts his donkey and sets out in pursuit of the Judahite. If the man of God did not pause under an oak tree, the old prophet most likely would not have found him. It is probably not the case that the tree is somehow symbolic of the Jerusalem temple, and rather functions as a realistic detail whereby the man of God is enabled to catch up with him.17 More significant is that the old prophet invites the Judahite for hospitality using the same expression as Jeroboam, but the refusal is not quite identical. On the one hand, the man of God includes the spatial referent “in this place” as a primary reason for declining hospitality, indicating that it was not a personal refusal of the king, but rather an issue of Bethel. The underlying political criticism here could be that Bethel is perceived as a competitor to Jerusalem. But on the other hand, the man of God omits the verb “command” that he used back in 13:9.18 As we recall, Ahijah the prophet was careful to use this term during Jeroboam’s investiture (11:38), and the matter will come up again in a few moments. Meanwhile, the old prophet adopts a completely different approach from Jeroboam—who did not press the man of God to stay—and the outcome in 13:18–19 is striking: He said to him, “Also I am a prophet, as you are. An angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD, saying, ‘Make him return with you to your house, that he might eat food and drink water.’” (He deceived him.) He returned with him and ate food in his house, and drank water. The old prophet is persuasive enough to cause a detour, impelling the man of God to forsake the shade of the tree and deviate from his commission. So why, one can ask, is there a subterfuge here and now in this very strange episode? Despite varying hypotheses on the issue, most plausibly it is a test

for the man of God, but ultimately illuminates the vicissitudes of Jeroboam’s journey. A growing number of recent scholars contend that the portrait of the man of God is also used to picture King Jeroboam, and the chapter is organized to highlight “what is central for the narrator, namely the way in which the man of God becomes an example of the king himself.”19 Cohn and Walsh also sense this deeper meaning to the story, and understand “the man of God is a paradigm for Jeroboam: the chosen instrument of Yahweh’s will can, through disobedience, come to a bad end.”20 To further apply the comparison, both Jeroboam and the man of God are tested—albeit in different ways and for different reasons—and both stumble. Jeroboam’s test is internal, as revealed in his soliloquy, while the man of God is tested externally by the old prophet’s ruse. For both the man of God and Jeroboam, Bethel is a problematic locale, and the venture(s) to Bethel end up causing a host of problems for each. Having been enticed from the way, it is during his repose with the old prophet that the man of God is confronted with his (unwitting) compromise. As though things could not get weirder in this chapter, in verses 20–22 the old prophet receives a genuine word from the LORD. Given his earlier deception, the old prophet is an unlikely conduit of authentic revelation, but such is the case: “Thus says the LORD, ‘Since therefore you have rebelled against the very mouth of the LORD and not kept the commandment that the LORD your God commanded you, but you have returned, ate food and drank water in the place where he said to you “You must not eat food or drink water,” your corpse will not be buried in the grave of your fathers.’” The man of God has suffered a radical reversal: he went to Jeroboam’s altar fully in control and articulating words of judgment against a transgression; now, he is on the receiving end of a word of judgment. One is reminded of Foucault’s premise, “knowledge is a form of power.”21 The old prophet has unique knowledge that provides the leverage here, much as the man of God had when dealing with Jeroboam. The principal indictment is that the defendant fails to keep the commandment he was commanded (double use of the root ), which is telling in that the man of God omits the verb “command” in his earlier testimony (13:17). The punishment is both severe and ironic— his corpse will not be buried in the ancestral tomb—since he earlier spoke about burial sites and their desecration in his condemnatory utterance at Bethel.

Tombstone Notified that his prospects for a decent burial are as bleak as the future for Jeroboam’s altar, the man of God at least gets to finish his meal. The sympathetic reader hopes he is enjoying the old prophet’s largesse, since, as we will soon see, it is his last supper. Any expected animosity between these two characters—in light of the negative judgment just pronounced on the one by the other—is not apparent as the old prophet saddles his donkey for the guest to depart.22 There is an expectation for the prophecy to be fulfilled, but perhaps not quite so soon, nor in this manner: “He went, and a lion found him on the road, and killed him. His corpse was thrown on the road, with the donkey standing beside it, and the lion standing beside the corpse” (13:24). Though obviously lost on the now–deceased man of God, his last supper forms an instinctive contrast with the lion, who does not choose to dine though he probably had every reason to incline toward such a meal. Self– control on this scale is worthy of every pride, but it also prompts Roland Boer to reflect on the latent allegorical dimension that is gradually moving into view: I would suggest a double allegorical reference: the lion, as agent of divine punishment, is the allegorical manifestation of God in this passage, but then simultaneously of the Babylonian (or Persian) empire itself, or rather emperor. If we entertain this possibility for a moment, then it is to be noted that the man of God from Judah (the figure of Judah itself) is cut down by the lion, just as the Babylonians did to Jerusalem in 587, and that the donkey and the lion stand guard over the body of the man of God, one on either side like a pair of sentries of a bodyguard or soldiers of an occupying army. By not eating the body of the man of God (v. 28; in contrast to that person’s breaking of the prohibition against eating) nor attacking the donkeys or the prophet, the lion exercises control by restraint; for at any moment the lion could attack and eat, in the same way that imperial control is exercised by the restraint of force.23 The role of the lion provides an occasion to further extend the discussion about the allegorical dimension of 1 Kings 13.24 The complexities of this

episode mirror the complexities of Jeroboam, and just as one struggles to interpret 1 Kings 13, so the same struggle is transacted when interpreting the king. It could be argued that such allegorical representation is necessary due to the subject matter of Jeroboam’s career. I am further assuming that political allegory comes into play most often when “political identity is questioned or threatened.”25 Consequently, it is at least possible that this genre of narrative is the most compelling avenue for the biblical writer to articulate the story of a promising king’s downfall. If the lion represents judgment (in multiple forms, as Boer posits), then the reader is in a better position to see how the man of God is configured as a picture of Jeroboam. The shared language makes it easiest to identify the parallels. Back in 11:29 Ahijah the prophet “finds” Jeroboam when he is “on the way/road” . Here in 13:24, the lion “finds” the man of God from Judah when he is “on the way/road” . Use of the exact same terms certainly is not random, but meant to illustrate that the journey of Jeroboam parallels that of the man of God. Both figures, after all, are the recipients of a word from God that, for modulated reasons, they abandon in pursuit of a different way. In spatial terms, both depart from the road and venture to Bethel—the man of God returns to Bethel, the city Jeroboam has consecrated (for political security). Both are raised up to counter illicit cultic activity, and both survive attempts at arrest by formidable monarchs. Yet both Jeroboam and the man of God detour from their mandates, and are penalized with a violent, premature demise. In Jeroboam’s case, however, such a terminal event has yet to take place (or even be proclaimed), so any talk of the end of his house should be deferred until such an event is officially announced. The old prophet of Bethel has played a varied role to this point in the story, ranging from treacherous host to prophetic luminary. But his task in 1 Kings 13 is far from complete, especially when he hears the news about the end of the man of God. Notable is his reaction in 13:26, and as it is addressed to nobody in particular, one guesses it is a kind of inner speech that somewhat resembles Jeroboam’s earlier soliloquy: “He is the man of God who rebelled against the mouth of the LORD! The LORD has given him to a lion, who has broken him in pieces and killed him according to the word of the LORD that he spoke to him.” While the narrator refrains from mentioning any direct causation, the old prophet is quick to interpret the dramatic events as divine judgment. But the tone is far from triumphal gloating, and his next actions seem pastoral: he orders his sons to (again) saddle the donkey, and he

sets out to recover the body of his deceased colleague, in the process gaining a firsthand glimpse of the unmolested donkey standing beside the self– controlled lion. Bringing the man of God back to Bethel (for the second time) in order to bury him, his words in 13:30–32 are significant: He rested his corpse in his own grave, and they lamented over him, “Alas, O my brother!” After he buried him, he said to his sons, “When I die, bury me in the grave where the man of God is buried. Rest my bones beside his bones. For the word that he called out by the word of the LORD will certainly come to pass: against the altar at Bethel and against all the high places in the cities of Samaria.” There are two items in the old prophet’s words of 13:30–32 that are of principal interest here. First, the apostrophic utterance (“Alas, O my brother!”) in 13:30 parallels the man of God’s utterance to the altar. In both cases, an inanimate object is addressed (altar and corpse respectively), and the irony is deadly: the man of God unleashes an apostrophic excoriation of Jeroboam’s altar, and now his corpse is given an apostrophic address by the old prophet of Bethel and other attendees (“they lamented” is plural in Hebrew, most likely the sons of the old prophet). The two parts of 1 Kings 13 are thus powerfully linked, and the fall of the altar in Bethel anticipates the fall of Jeroboam (soon to be announced). The funeral oration of the man of God becomes a virtual eulogy for the king. Furthermore, excavating the recent work of Francesca Stavrakopoulou one can inquire here about the metaphorical function of graves and tombs in this stretch, as dead bodies provide another link between the two parts of 1 Kings 13.26 The man of God’s death (and just as acutely, his burial) serves to foreshadow the end of Jeroboam’s dynasty, and all the death(s) in the house of Jeroboam, with its attendant illness and makeshift burials about to be declared in 1 Kings 14:10– 13. Because of their displaced burials, neither the man of God nor Jeroboam is finally rooted in his ancestral land; instead, both are dislocated from their territorial inheritance and buried in allegorical exile. The second item of significance is the mention of “Samaria” by the old prophet, as he tells his sons that everything that the man of God has forecast will come to pass. In the context of Israel’s history, Samaria is the erstwhile northern capital and seat of the Omrides and later northern kings until the Assyrian demolition narrated in 2 Kings 17. This is the very first mention of

Samaria in the DH, rather puzzling because it is here named by the old prophet of Bethel more than a century before Omri purchases the land from Shemer and establishes it as his administrative center. Just like it is unusual for a lion not to harass a nearby donkey, so the mention of a future capital city would be considered abnormal. Hearing this reference to the city of Samaria prior to its formal inauguration has tingled the ears of numerous commentators, as Mordechai Cogan explains: “Strictly speaking, the city of Samaria had not yet been founded (cf. 16:24), and its mention here points to the lateness of the final editing of the story. Many date this to sometime after the Assyrian conquest (post–720 BCE), when the hill country of Israel was officially annexed and named Samerina.”27 From a modernist perspective there is undeniably a logic to Cogan’s assessment, and on that level, few would disagree with his redactional appraisal. Still, my interest here lies in the rhetorical function of Samaria as the last word of this political allegory in 1 Kings 13. I assume the ancient audience would be just as aware as Cogan that Samaria has not yet been founded. So, what is the purpose of mentioning Samaria here, how does it work in the context of 1 Kings 13, and what is its effect within the larger Jeroboam narrative? In the architecture of 1 Kings 13, judgment against Samaria provides a counterpart to the Josiah prophecy in the first part of the chapter. There is a new alignment between the two characters, as both the man of God from Judah and the old prophet of Bethel both make long–range and highly specific predictions. The knowledge about Samaria’s future affects the characterization of the old prophet, as the reader is now aware that he has inside information, and consequently, a higher degree of power in the story. Just as the man of God from Judah knows about Josiah (from the south), so this old prophet of Bethel knows about Samaria (in the north). The old prophet’s word not only balances the earlier prophecy of the man of God, but also spatially extends that utterance. The man of God spoke about human bones being incinerated on the altar (13:2), with the “altar” used as a synecdoche for all the cultic installations and personnel.28 Now, the old prophet declares that word as applicable to “all the high places in the cities of Samaria,” a more expansive geographical range. The plural “cities of Samaria” even denotes a multiplication effect, as though the (future) capital is a living organism that spawns new colonies of idolatry. On a more visceral level, Jeroboam is implicated in the mention of Samaria. Not only is the reader informed that a new capital city will be built,

but it is one that undercuts Jeroboam’s first activity: building. Samaria, in other words, means that Jeroboam’s house has not endured, and another house (with a new capital city) has been raised up to inherit his kingdom. Through the prophecy about Samaria, the implication is that Jeroboam has already been displaced—like his grave—and replaced by another house. Just as Jeroboam succeeds Solomon, so another leader succeeds him (and that house, incidentally, can expect judgment against its high places to be exacted in due course). Consequently, the old prophet’s word contains more than just an indictment of Jeroboam, but also against the house of Omri a century before it assumes control of the northern throne after an extended civil conflict. Far from a mere southern (Judean) polemic, there is a condemnation of numerous northern dynasties by an insider who will share a common tomb with his southern counterpart.

Road less travelled The short paragraph that concludes the chapter is often seen as an appendix, but these words are best read as the culmination of the entire chapter and the conclusion to the allegorical second part. Consider the opening phrase of 13:33, translated by the NRSV: “Even after this event Jeroboam did not turn from his evil way.” Some scholars have struggled with the singular element in this phrase—“this thing”—in a chapter where there are a plethora of bizarre events. Another defensible rendering of the same three Hebrew words would be “After this word,” stressing the prophetic declaration of the Judahite man of God about the altar, and augmented by the old prophet of Bethel. Furthermore, emphasizing “the word” connects back to the original word of Ahijah (11:28), and implies that Jeroboam is unmoved even after hearing the dire prognostication about his cultic machinery. Equally important, therefore, is the term “way” , and through this term a further symmetry between the two parts of 1 Kings 13 emerges. When Jeroboam does not turn from his nefarious way, it reveals a fuller significance to the man of God’s otherwise strange insistence about his commission, that he was not to return by the way he came (13:9). Recalling Ahijah’s verdict that Solomon did not walk in the divine “ways” (11:33) and the subsequent challenge to Jeroboam about walking in

the divine “ways” (11:38), it is now clear that “way” is endowed with unique importance in the narrative. Richard Nelson comments on the term way in the career of the (former) man of God from Judah, one that “refers to the literal path of the prophet, but also to his choice of the metaphorical path of obedience or disobedience.”29 By means of the allegorical design of the chapter, the reader infers that Jeroboam has journeyed down a metaphorical route that detours from the road mapped out in Ahijah’s investiture. The author uses the allegory as a means of enlisting the reader to ponder Jeroboam’s career path, as the major ideological lineaments of his story are refracted through the steps of the man of God.30 Jeroboam is previously warned by Ahijah to take seriously the way he walks. Ahijah’s words are then reinforced by a different prophetic figure, in order to demonstrate beyond a doubt that any condemnation of the king does not emanate from personal pique. Despite the paralysis of his hand, ripping of the altar, and the prophetic word spoken by the man of God from Judah, the remainder of 13:33 indicates that Jeroboam still does not turn his way in the best direction: “He turned and made priests out of the extremity of the people for the high places—any who desired it, he filled his hand , and they became priests of the high places.” With his restored hand (power), the king evidently rebuilds the altar and expands the priesthood, filling the “hand” of any who are willing. Given our earlier definition of power as a network of relationships, how might a political or cultural theorist interpret the final paragraph of 1 Kings 13, with the ideological mêlée between king and prophet now firmly taking place in the public domain?31 As one group of scholars puts it, “power emerges in interactions, and successfully using power requires both sensitivity to its evolution and the flexibility to move so as to keep current on where the most important transactions occur.”32 Jeroboam, one could make the case, is remarkably inflexible after the memorable visit of the man of God from Judah. With the altar having imploded and his own hand dried and healed, a reader may have expected some revision in his domestic policy, perhaps even with some public support in Bethel (many citizens, after all, would have witnessed the events and heard the proclamation). Such inflexibility carries a high price, as articulated in 13:34, the final sentence of this incomparable chapter: “This thing became a sin to the house of Jeroboam, so as to make it desolate and to destroy it from the

face of the earth.” For the second time in the Jeroboam narrative, the term “sin” occurs (cf. 12:30). In a study tracing the history of the term—more interesting than one may have thought—Gary Anderson notes that sin (in a context such as this) might be usefully understood as a “burden,” a heavy weight that is carried and difficult to unload.33 Indeed, the very repetition of the term sin in the Jeroboam story captures some of the burden. Still ahead in the larger storyline, Jeroboam’s religious policies will prove burdensome for many a northern king in the future; those replacement leaders who refuse any “expurgation” of the alternative cult will no doubt become acquainted with the same burden.34 But for now, Jeroboam’s house has its own burden to carry, and the two final verbs of the chapter—to efface and to exterminate —certainly sound like an ominous portent. The last sentence forms a segue to chapter 14, a narrative that memorably chronicles how Jeroboam’s house, like the altar of Bethel, is ripped apart by the prophetic word.

6 Focus on the Family: The Royal Disguise of Israel’s Queen After public acclamation from the northern constituency Jeroboam appeared poised for greatness. Coupled with his reputation for industriousness and a divine endorsement affirmed by two different prophets (Ahijah and Shemaiah), the reader may not have expected his career to encounter so many snags along the road. In political terms 1 Kings 13 was a difficult stretch for Jeroboam, given the visit of the man of God and the visual spectacle caused by the altar’s detonation. In personal terms 1 Kings 13 was no better for Jeroboam, exemplified by his withered hand and a plea for prayer from the man he had just instructed his constabulary to arrest. In light of the connection between hand and power in the Hebrew Bible, it certainly appears as though Jeroboam’s power is dealt a crippling blow through the assorted events of 1 Kings 13. The final episode in Jeroboam’s career begins with yet another setback: his son is plagued with a life–threatening illness. Ahijah the prophet had earlier announced an opportunity for Jeroboam to sire an enduring dynastic house. That house is looking increasingly imperiled, and the son’s illness could be understood as symptomatic of an epidemic that is spreading in Jeroboam’s kingdom. This chapter develops a reading of 1 Kings 14:1–20 by drawing attention to several areas pertinent to Jeroboam’s characterization, including his last words and a final meeting with Ahijah the prophet (albeit by proxy). But at the beginning of the episode, and for the first time since his introduction into the narrative, the family of Jeroboam becomes the focus of attention. Jeroboam’s family dynamics immediately reveal a notable contrast with his predecessor, Solomon. The sexuality of Solomon’s kingdom is legendary, with 700 wives and 300 concubines lavishly exhibiting his royal virility. As an antithesis, Jeroboam is recorded as having but one wife, whose interaction with Ahijah in 14:1–20 provides the central material for analysis in this chapter. The issues raised here include the wife’s role, the semiotics of the clothing motif, the blind prophet’s disability (which actually proves

empowering), and the illness of Jeroboam’s son that results in the mother’s disguise—an attempt to fool the prophet that is ultimately futile. This chapter also will assess the literal and metaphorical significance of Ahijah’s blindness.1 He is evidently clear–sighted back in chapter 11, so how best should we understand the diminution of his eyesight? It will be argued that there is a connection here with another leader from Shiloh who succumbs to blindness (the high priest Eli), followed by some further discussion on how this concluding installment of Jeroboam’s career forms a structural parallel to the events of 1 Kings 11.

A grief observed In 1 Kings 13 the man of God from Judah pronounced judgment against Jeroboam’s altar, a prophecy then extended by the old prophet of Bethel to include all the high places of the cities of Samaria. Moreover, Jeroboam’s own dynastic future is bleak, as evidenced in the final line of the preceding chapter (13:34) about his house being made desolate and exterminated from the face of the earth. The anticipation created by the two verbs that emphasize such utter demolition is most likely the reason why Jeroboam’s domestic house—hitherto not mentioned in the storyline—now receives so much attention. Consequently, the range of information imparted in 14:1–3 should be carefully considered: At that time Abijah the son of Jeroboam became ill. Jeroboam said to his wife, “Arise, please, and disguise yourself so they will not know that you are the wife of Jeroboam. Then go to Shiloh. Look, Ahijah the prophet is there! He is the one who told me that I would be king over this people. Take ten loaves in your hand, and cakes, and a jar of honey, and go to him. He will tell you what will happen to the lad.” The final stage of Jeroboam’s journey begins with the temporal phrase “at that time” . This same phrase is used in 11:29 to preface Jeroboam’s meeting with the prophet Ahijah. In that unforgettable meeting the prophet announces Jeroboam’s kingship, augmented with the prospects of a dynasty of Davidic proportions. There are a number of linkages between the first scene in Jeroboam’s career (ch. 11) and the last

(ch. 14), and in this closing scene the words of Ahijah’s oracle form the backdrop and influence every move of the characters who appear. Consequently, it could be argued the phrase “at that time” creates a temporal symmetry in the overall storyline: Ahijah forecasts great expectations for Jeroboam “at that time” in 11:29–38, yet now those expectations are held in abeyance because “at that time” (14:1) his son—the putative heir to the throne and thus the promise—is on his deathbed. Noting that all Israel bewails the death of Abijah later in the story (14:18), there are strong grounds for suspecting that he is the heir to his father’s throne.2 Regardless of Abijah’s status as heir, the reader is yet to be informed that Jeroboam even has a son until this notice of his grave infirmity. Abijah’s age is uncertain, as he is variously referred to as “lad” and “child” throughout the course of the narrative. Another possible reason for the delay in introducing the king’s son is because of the conditional kingship stipulated by the prophet: Jeroboam is promised an enduring house if he keeps the statutes rather than detours onto an alternative path. The delay in introducing Abijah stresses that any hope for the son is predicated on the competence of the father to avoid the pitfalls of his predecessor, Solomon. Still, Jeroboam is not the only Israelite king to have a son in a critical condition. Illness, we should recall, is a frequent visitor to the Davidic house in various forms. Examples come to mind such as the unnamed child of Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11, and the firstborn Amnon—who is sick in more ways than one—in 2 Samuel 13. In Abijah’s case the narrator does not state whether the illness is a sign of divine judgment or the dark inevitability of human mortality.3 No doubt the old prophet of Bethel would assert the former, but here there is a deliberate ambiguity. What matters most, however, is Jeroboam’s reaction: to launch a rather desperate stratagem with the assistance of Israel’s queen. The king has not been afraid to directly ask for healing before, but there is a strange turn here as Jeroboam’s appeal takes a decidedly different shape. Previously he entreated the man of God from Judah to supplicate on his behalf, that his withered hand might be healed. In 1 Kings 14, though, Jeroboam recruits his wife to alter her visage and pay a visit to Ahijah in Shiloh. For the second time in as many sentences we have a new character, Jeroboam’s wife, and like Abijah she has not been mentioned to this point. Her emergence here could be shrugged off as a mere plot contrivance—she may well not have been needed by Jeroboam until now, and he himself can hardly venture to Shiloh—but there seems to be a symbolic dimension as

well. Like the two prophetic figures in the previous chapter, the woman is unnamed, and the reader infers that she also carries a measure of parabolic significance in the narrative. Having now arrived on the narrative stage, the presence of Jeroboam’s wife raises a pragmatic question about ANE kingship.4 As is well known, a sizeable harem is intended to represent the strength of a monarch, and the Davidic house is no exception in this regard.5 Despite the limitations of Deuteronomy 17:17, where Israel’s king is not to replicate the paradigm of the surrounding nations by multiplying wives, both David and (exponentially) Solomon circumvent this prohibition. Not once in 1 Kings 11–14 is there a hint that Jeroboam keeps a harem; of course it is possible, but in that case one could fairly expect the narrator to provide such a detail (as we are told with David and Solomon). At the risk of circular argumentation, I am simply suggesting that the text invites a comparison between royal strategies, where Jeroboam provides an ideological contrast to his Davidic counterparts who opt for the typical ANE approach. An additional contrast is possible when one recalls the advice of Rehoboam’s classmates, whose infamous reference to the “little finger” flaunts the virile paradigm in an extreme form. The reader is entitled to at least wonder why Jeroboam plays such a different game than his Davidic counterparts. Again, if this literature were an ad hominem attack on Jeroboam —as it is frequently assumed in the secondary literature—any potential contrast would surely have been excluded. My contention is that Jeroboam is more intriguingly characterized than is often thought to be the case. Whether or not he was determined to run his kingdom differently than previous monarchs is obviously unknowable. No mention of a harem hardly excuses the deviant altar of Bethel, but it needs to be acknowledged that David multiplied wives whereas Jeroboam evidently does not. Jeroboam is frequently vilified as an idolater, but rarely complimented as a monogamist.6 I doubt whether this is what Baruch Halpern has in mind when he calls Jeroboam “an enlightened mind,” but on the marital score Jeroboam’s spousal rating is closer to Deuteronomy 17:17 than either David or Solomon come remotely close to achieving.7 The aim here is not necessarily an attempt to create artificial sympathy, but rather to probe the intricacy of this stretch of the DH where Jeroboam’s wife is now a vital figure. This new unnamed female character introduced in 1 Kings 14:2 is not just

a wife, but a mother as well. It is this other role that also carries her to Shiloh, owing to her vested interest in Abijah’s fate. Surveying biblical narrative in general, Esther Fuchs notes that maternal characters such as Jeroboam’s wife are often portrayed as “protective of their children and relentlessly devoted to them.”8 Abijah’s name might mean “the LORD is my father,” but it is the mother who will undertake the tricky expedition to Shiloh that is crucial for gleaning any information about the son’s uncertain hopes. It should be stated, though, that Jeroboam’s wife is not the only anonymous mother in the DH whose son’s future is clouded with a dour prophetic forecast. When placing this episode beside 1 Samuel 4:19–22—the incident where the daughter–in– law of Eli has a terminal reaction to the news of the ark’s capture—several poignant similarities can be identified. The houses of Eli and Jeroboam are entrusted with comparable mandates: to occupy substantial positions of leadership within the nation (cf. 1 Sam. 2:28ff.) with the assurance that faithful service would continue in perpetuity by the family line. Eli and his sons fall on hard times due to misappropriation of votive contributions, as pronounced by a man of God, and Eli’s descendants are permanently suspended from managing the altar. The ruin of Eli’s house is tragically embodied by his daughter–in–law, the wife of Phinehas, who dies in childbirth at the spatial setting of Shiloh after dismally speaking about the future of her newborn son Ichabod.9 The wife of Phinehas and Jeroboam’s wife are both unnamed figures, married to prominent leaders, and both become matriarchs of a sterile house. For each, Shiloh is the spatial setting for dreadful words about their sons. Some points of contrast naturally arise—Eli’s grandson survives to a gloomy future, while Jeroboam’s son at least receives a dignified burial—but nonetheless a compelling case for an intertextual link emerges. Much like the wife of Phinehas, Jeroboam’s wife is configured to represent, in both senses of the term, the house of Jeroboam—in person before Ahijah and at the funeral that concludes this episode. Thus Jeroboam’s house is indirectly characterized by means of the analogy with the descendants of Eli, a house that was prematurely wiped out instead of thriving indefinitely. Both unnamed mothers experience profound disappointment, even though both husbands (Jeroboam and Phinehas) were promised so much: both had the potential for lasting dynasties but then forfeited such possibilities due to breaches of cultic fidelity. Instead of a limitless future, both mothers face interminable grief. When her narrative is

brought into alignment with that of Eli’s daughter–in–law, Abijah’s mother does not have grounds for optimism as she prepares for her trip to Shiloh. If we grant that “the presence of mother figures in the biblical narrative is often contingent upon the identity and importance of their sons,” then it makes sense that Jeroboam’s wife is willing to undertake the passage to Ahijah’s house in Shiloh.10 However, not only is this female character a wife and a mother, but she also is Israel’s queen, and consequently there are some travel restrictions. Jeroboam insists that his wife must “change appearance” and travel incognito to Shiloh. It may be an understandable precaution, but Jeroboam’s disguise strategy is not an entirely original idea. There are several occasions in Israel’s monarchic history when a royal figure uses a disguise in an attempt to change adverse circumstances, and Richard Coggins suggests that this limited group of episodes can profitably be read together.11 The disguise motif occurs, for instance, in 1 Samuel 28, when Saul turns aside his royal garments in favor of other raiment in order to make an inquiry of the witch of Endor. The same pattern also unfolds in 1 Kings 22, when Ahab dresses like an ordinary soldier in an attempt to survive the battle of Ramoth Gilead and avoid the death predicted by the prophet Micaiah. Sandwiched between these occasions are the actions of Jeroboam in 1 Kings 14, where—in a creative variation on the pattern—he instructs his wife to disguise herself and inquire of Ahijah as to the prognosis of their ill son. Saul and especially Ahab wear a disguise in order to outmaneuver the prophetic word, yet as Coggins points out, in neither case does the effort prove successful.12 Based on these other instances, the odds are against the disguise of Jeroboam’s wife accomplishing its desired end. With the disguises of Saul and Ahab it is relatively straightforward to deduce who they are hiding from. Exactly why Jeroboam’s wife needs a costume is not quite so certain, but a clue might lie in the plural verb the king uses in verse 2: “change your appearance so they will not know that you are Jeroboam’s wife.” There might be good reasons for hiding from Ahijah the prophet, but the king’s first priority is to disguise his wife from his constituency, so that “they will not know” the queen’s real provenance. It is remarkable that the same fear factor unmistakable in Jeroboam’s early soliloquy—about the people’s reversion to Rehoboam after religious pilgrimage to Jerusalem—resurfaces here in a camouflaged manner. As this consultation must undermine the efficacy of his own cultic establishments, we can now see why Jeroboam is keen for a clandestine operation: so no one

will discover he is seeking a word from God by means of Ahijah. There is a reversal here: as Ahijah took pains to avoid the king finding out about his word for Jeroboam in chapter 11, now King Jeroboam does not want anyone to find out about his interest in a word from Ahijah in chapter 14. Of course, as Jeroboam explains to his wife, Ahijah is the one “who told me that I would be king over this people.” Hence, the same people whom Jeroboam first feared would defect are now the ones he would prefer not to be acquainted with his wife’s venture to Shiloh. This persistent fear of his subjects has altogether proven to be a nuisance for Jeroboam’s leadership. His personal experience of healing by the man of God from Judah must play a role, and motivates Jeroboam to seek the same for his invalid son. In terms of his own theology, it would lead us to believe that Jeroboam is more confident of orthodox channels than may have been suspected. This fleeting glimpse of paternal helplessness and desperation certainly depicts the king in rather new light as a concerned father working in concert with his wife to find out what will happen to their son. By asking his wife to change her appearance—by which I assume he means a different set of garments—we can notice the semiotic role of clothing as markers of Jeroboam’s career. Just after his introduction in the narrative, a new coat signals his rise to prominence and royal destiny. But now that he dresses his wife in different raiment it points to a steep decline. Earlier, a special garment is torn by the prophet, with an invitation to pick up ten pieces of the kingdom. Here, the wife’s change of appearance is an attempt to stave off judgment against his house by deceiving that same prophet. It is entirely plausible that the biblical writer deploys these two completely different uses of clothing as a sign to illustrate the regression of Jeroboam’s fortunes from riches to rags.

Unforeseen countermove As she dutifully proceeds to change her appearance and embark upon the fateful trip to Shiloh, Jeroboam’s wife does not go empty–handed, but bears a gift as her husband instructs. In the first instance she takes ten loaves in her “hand,” and just as clothing occurs at strategic junctures in the larger narrative consecution, so I earlier argued that “hand” is an important component of the overall arrangement of the Jeroboam narrative. The ten tribes were given into Jeroboam’s hand, but then that hand was severely injured; now Israel’s queen takes ten loaves in her hand, but is about to hear a

destructive word spoken by the hand of Ahijah the prophet. As far as Jeroboam’s selection of items for her to bring, the gift seems to be specially packaged for the occasion, as John Gray wants to believe. “This may reflect the humble status of Ahijah among the dervishes of Shiloh, but it must be remembered,” cautions Gray, “that Jeroboam’s wife was in disguise, and a richer gift would have excited suspicion.”13 Such an idea was already assayed by the prolific fourth–century theologian Ephrem the Syrian, who deduced that Jeroboam did not want his wife “to offer a regal present, lest she might appear in her real nature.”14 The disguise and gift combine to reveal a deliberate strategy, careful planning, and desperate execution. Altogether it is a fairly elaborate hoax, and a great deal of creativity is harnessed to hoodwink the prophet. Here Jeroboam is employing his characteristic energy and ingenuity, but again directed anywhere but toward “walking in the ways” that Ahijah had originally articulated in his communiqué. Nonetheless, as the scene continues the reader soon learns that all this machinating effort is for naught. Just like his offer of a gift to the man of God for Judah is declined in 13:8, so this gift does not really gain the king anything substantial. The gifts and the disguise of Israel’s queen fade from view in 14:4–5, and the entire scheme is muted as a new revelation is unveiled: Jeroboam’s wife did so, and she arose, went to Shiloh, and came to the house of Ahijah. But Ahijah was not able to see, for his eyes were fixed by old age. Now the LORD had said to Ahijah, “Look, the wife of Jeroboam is coming to seek a word from you concerning her son, because he is ill. Like this and like this you will say to her, for when she comes she will be disguised as a stranger.” The unforeseen development that Jeroboam hardly could have projected is that Ahijah has succumbed to blindness, and is therefore unlikely to be fooled by a costume, however ingenious it may appear. On balance, Ahijah’s blindness is multifunctional in this scene. As is readily discerned, it is a clever plot twist that is hard to beat for ancient entertainment value: the royal couple are trying to play Ahijah, but end up getting played themselves. Since Jeroboam is visibly unaware of Ahijah’s condition, those scholars who suggest an estrangement between the two must be correct, as clearly the prophet and king have not spent time together for many seasons. Further,

there is a distinct possibility that while Jeroboam is not aware of Ahijah’s blindness, he must intuit the prophet’s disapproval with his kingship, prompting the queen’s charade. Gary Knoppers argues that calling on Ahijah may even bring about a pang of guilt on the king’s part: “Jeroboam, whose only reaction to the Judahite prophet’s death was to democratize the priesthood and appoint more priests to the high places (1 Kings 13:33–34), now avoids direct contact with the very prophet who invested him.”15 Jeroboam first encounters Ahijah when walking out of Jerusalem, and now his wife walks to Shiloh for a final meeting. Neither Jeroboam nor his wife is able to glimpse what is about to happen: the wife’s peregrination ends at Ahijah’s (physical) house, where she is about to hear a vision about the end of her (dynastic) house from a blind prophet.16 Ahijah’s blindness, as explained in verse 4, is caused by old age and presumably has happened gradually since his formal introduction in chapter 11. Some readers could probably search for a deeper symbolism here: while Ahijah is progressively growing blind, Jeroboam is incrementally plunging deeper into the darkness of divine displeasure. Other readers will notice an intertextual anomaly, since Ahijah is not the only senior citizen of Shiloh to suffer from deteriorating eyesight. The same Hebrew expression used of Ahijah’s eyes in verse 4 also occurs in the description of Eli’s loss of vision in 1 Samuel 4:15 In Eli’s case, eyesight is also used metaphorically for spiritual discernment.17 For Ahijah, however, the disability is completely different, and he is still able to speak the prophetic word with authority. Whether this is a redeeming moment for Shiloh is unlikely, as the city never again rises as a central place in the landscape of Israel’s worship. The larger consequence is that Shiloh becomes metonymic of Jeroboam’s own journey. Both Shiloh (as a place) and Jeroboam (as a king) were invested with great responsibility, but both are displaced from prominence. Jeroboam’s dynastic health is bound up in his son’s fate, and Ahijah of Shiloh will soon impart some devastating news. Yet there is more than just Ahijah’s blindness that is unforeseen by Jeroboam. If the king is hoping that his wife can slip under the radar and procure a word from the prophet by stealth, then a surprising tip–off alerts Ahijah to the real nature of the visit. As described in 14:5, the prophet has been given inside information on the whole ploy, and thus Jeroboam is trumped by a divine pluperfect (“now the LORD had said to Ahijah …”). The

collusion between God and the prophet is a difficult situation for the recalcitrant king. Such power is a problem, we note, not just for Jeroboam but for kings in general: given the gulf in knowledge, it really is difficult to combat such a partnership. Even as Jeroboam originates a creative plot that would dupe many, there is a counterplot launched against him that gives the prophet a decisive advantage. Among the most interesting features in verse 5 are the words that God puts in Ahijah’s mouth: “like this and like this you will say.” In my view, this strange phrase is deployed in order to build suspense, and allow the audience to further identify with the wife: owing to the delay, we hear the words of judgment at the same moment she does. When considering the nature of the inside information, it is therefore odd that the NRSV translates the final clause of 14:5 as the narrator’s aside (“‘ … Thus and thus you shall say to her.’ When she came, she pretended to be another woman”) rather than its more natural place as part of the divine quotation. My rendering above includes this clause as a component within the comprehensive divine warning, and certainly prepares the reader for her shock as soon as Ahijah begins to speak in the next section of text.

Blindness and insight The prophet’s eyesight may have dimmed, but his sonar detection system is operating at full capacity. Any perceived sententiousness on Ahijah’s part can be excused by his preemptive welcome in 14:6, which must startle the wife as it does the reader: “When Ahijah heard the sound of her feet as she came into the doorway, he said, ‘Enter, wife of Jeroboam! Why is this? You are disguising yourself as a stranger, but I have been sent to you with a heavy one.’” There is a deliberate stress on hearing, and this emphasis must be a resonance to 11:38, where Jeroboam is told to “hear” all that God instructs. It may look like Ahijah has a disability, but such an apparent disadvantage does not hinder him from hearing God’s word. Though the reader is aware of the prophet’s inside information, Jeroboam’s wife must be caught off guard when Ahijah unmasks her disguise so easily: “Before the woman can deliver her message of inquiry,” says Robert Cohn, “the prophet launches into an answer to a question that she did not ask.”18 So now for the second time during her short tenure in the narrative she is charged with a task: Jeroboam instructed her to “go” to Ahijah, and Ahijah subsequently instructs her to “go” to

Jeroboam. Just as she carries a gift to Ahijah, so she is not to return to Jeroboam empty–handed, but will carry a word from the prophet. Even though the wife has traveled to Shiloh, the prophet announces that he is the one who has been sent to her. Ahijah is not known for brevity. His first speech declaring the inauguration of Jeroboam’s kingship is extensive and fraught with tightly woven legal deliberations. Ahijah’s last speech—this time declaring the termination of Jeroboam’s kingship here in 1 Kings 14—is likewise long and involved. Indeed, the prophet tells Jeroboam’s wife that he has been sent with a “heavy one,” and the reader might be forgiven for thinking that Ahijah is referring to the length of the speech as much as its vitriolic content. A tessellated speech with multiple parts, not every detail of Ahijah’s comprehensive denunciation needs to be analyzed here. But a number of issues arise that affect Jeroboam’s characterization, beginning with the first part of the speech (14:7–11) that touches on the past, present, and immediate future of his reign. Starting with the past, there is an economical précis of Jeroboam’s career, including a reminder that he was “raised up” (an echo of 11:27) and the key word “rip,” as the kingdom was ripped from the house of David and given to him. It could be that the emphasis on divine initiative implies that Jeroboam had no reason for political fear of mass defection, but at the very least the verb “rip” evokes memories of the recent altar crash in Bethel that foreshadowed a further downward spiral for Jeroboam’s leadership. Based on Ahijah’s first oracle in 11:38, Jeroboam was supposed to have been “like David.” If Ahijah’s concluding speech is equivalent to a final report card, then the verdict is that Jeroboam has not done so. In comparison, Ahijah declares that Jeroboam has done more evil than all others before him, though admittedly it is a rather shallow pool at this point in monarchic history. But as that shortlist of scoundrels includes Solomon, in the end it amounts to quite a feat. Nonetheless, the comparison with David is harder to evaluate, and must have something to do with cultic policy. Given that “other gods” are a key pillar in the prosecution’s case against Jeroboam, cultic infractions would be the natural point to compare: for all his flaws, David is not presented as guilty of this crime in the DH. Even in his worst hours, David is not accused of thrusting Israel’s deity “behind his back.”19 As discussed earlier, numerous scholars have followed the trail of Frank Moore Cross and others, and maintained “The young bulls were no doubt conceived

as pedestals for the same god in the two national shrines.”20 Considering the ideological potpourri of ancient Canaan, such an idea undeniably has a certain historical currency. But how Jeroboam may have conceived or marketed the golden images is only part of the issue at stake in this crucial stretch of Israel’s contested history. The biblical author is more interested, it seems to me, in reflecting on Jeroboam’s fear of rebellion and attempt to control the people by means of these objects. Consequently, the Jeroboam narrative is not so much polemical distortion as political biography, and forensic examination of why the northern experiment ended in such calamity. There is little reason to doubt that Jeroboam draws on antecedent traditions, but Ahijah’s speech implies this kind of domestic religious policy was fundamentally unnecessary.21 Terence Fretheim’s assessment thus merits further thought: “The implication is clear that God’s actions were genuine; they were not an effort to set him up for a fall but a provision for a future that God wanted for him.”22 In other words, Jeroboam’s political power was not intrinsically threatened by Rehoboam or any southern interest, and the two kingdoms could have reasonably coexisted. The mention of David, within the final context, suggests what could have been, had Ahijah’s mandate been implemented. Instead of a far–reaching dynasty, in the immediate future Jeroboam can expect an onslaught of evil to engulf his house. After assessing his reign, Ahijah’s prophetic speech then moves to delineate what this complete disaster will look like (14:10–11). Jeroboam has done evil , and his wife is informed that evil is about to be unleashed. The prophet certainly does not shy away from using the most graphic language imaginable under the circumstances. Jeroboam’s wife is informed that her house will first be cut off, then burned like foul excrement until it is totally consumed. Singled out for harsher treatment, so it would seem, is “every male,” or at least that is how the compound term is hygienically rendered by most modern translations. The inimitable KJV translates this controversial term as “him that pisseth against the wall,” capturing more of the crudity of the utterance, first used by David in reference to Nabal’s house in 1 Samuel 25. If that sounds ghastly, the burial issue is worse, as dogs in the city and birds of prey in the fields will feast on the dead bodies. A contrast emerges between the dogs and birds here and the lion of chapter 13, as this time the animals are acting on natural instinct and devouring their meal. This adds further evidence that chapter 13, as argued above, is a narrative allegory that is

tightly integrated within the overall storyline. Jeroboam could have been a new northern David, but instead the dead bodies of his house are displaced and disgraced. Lest the reader be momentarily blinded by this unremitting registry of doom, we should recall that this vision of disaster is mediated through the agency of a sightless prophet. A point made by Saul Olyan can here be adapted, as he opines that blindness in this final episode of Jeroboam’s career functions “to bring into relief Yhwh’s exceptional ability and agency.”23 Accordingly, it is not merely Ahijah with whom Jeroboam contends, but also God, who raised him up as king in the first place. Olyan continues, saying in effect that the tables are turned: “Ahijah’s inability to see, which would have placed him at a disadvantage vis–à–vis Jeroboam’s wife were he not a prophet of Yhwh, is rendered irrelevant in light of Yhwh’s supreme knowledge and his choice to communicate it to his representative.”24 In terms of the early reading community to whom this literature is directed, such an audience is reminded of the power of the prophetic word to pierce any disguise, and uproot dynastic houses in the process.

Beyond the river Without pause, Ahijah continues with the second major part of the speech (14:12–16). One may have thought that the descriptions of the nightmarish funerals—replete with burning offal and rabid dogs—might have been the conclusion, but such is not the case. The prophet finally addresses the matter that surely concerns the mother most: Abijah her son, as the prophet tersely declares to her, will not recover. Jeroboam’s last words in the narrative are painfully accurate: “he will tell you what will happen to the lad” (14:3). She will never see her son again, except in his casket at his very public funeral. Jeroboam’s son, however, is singled out for commendation: “something good was found in him with respect to the LORD God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam.” The information about the lad’s virtue is noteworthy, as this speech does not seem to be the occasion for any positive endorsement, nor does Ahijah seem to be the type of person to dispense gratuitous flattery. One implication of the notice of the lad’s goodness is that Jeroboam sired a good son, who conceivably would have been a useful king, and thus provide the dynasty with a chance to continue. When the reader is told that all Israel will

mourn for the dead son, one senses a corporate recognition of a lost opportunity for the entire kingdom. Indeed, Abijah’s funeral will not be the last time a national requiem is heard. The corporate lamentation for Jeroboam’s son and putative heir Abijah is a mere segue to the last major movement in the speech: an anticipation of national disaster in the north. Prince Abijah’s funeral, as the prophet’s visionary speech continues, will be the first of many in the days ahead. Akin to the old prophet of Bethel’s expansion of the word from the Judahite man of God, so now Ahijah expands his own oracle to include a vast and sweeping panoramic of Israel’s desolate landscape after the visitation of divine judgment. Ahijah the prophet, in the words of Burke Long, “paints a terrifying picture of Jeroboam’s destiny. A newly chosen king will cut off his dynastic issue, like some latter–day avatar of the ‘destroying angel’ at Yahweh’s first ‘passing over’ (Exod. 12–13). Even all Israel, Jeroboam’s social offspring, so to speak, will languish, unnourished, like a plant uprooted violently and thrown on arid soil.”25 When the prophet talks about a new king being raised up in Jeroboam’s stead, it touches a deep irony at the heart of the narrative: Jeroboam was raised up to dismantle a kingdom, and now a new king will be raised up to eradicate any trace of his house. The obliteration of Jeroboam’s house becomes a microcosm of the entire nation, as the prophet’s speech “telescopes and frames the entire course of northern history, linking its demise to the fall of Jeroboam.”26 In the longer– term horizon, Israel will find itself—much like the dead bodies of Jeroboam’s house—uprooted from the rich land of their ancestral inheritance and scattered beyond the Euphrates river. Reversing the exodus pattern, the nation will cross the river on an eastward march to exile. When the people follow Jeroboam’s trail–blazing syncretism it results not only in a walk to exile, but also in a divine striking, “like a reed when shaken in the water” (14:15). The “sin” of Jeroboam, as described earlier, is a burden too heavy for the nation to carry. There may also be a further nuance here, as John Gray defines the term sin as “to fail of one’s object.”27 The failure of monarchic leadership in Israel, to extend Gray’s point, is a failure to meet the goal of civic responsibility by avoiding accommodation and compromise, and herein may be the crux for any readership of the text after the collapse of kingship and the crisis of exile. The sin of Jeroboam subsequently becomes a catchword for any kind of related failure of leadership, and in this respect Rainer Albertz is surely correct that the overarching issue is cultic abrogation

rather than political insurgence: “It should be noted,” says Albertz, “that for the Deuteronomists the ‘sin of Jeroboam’ was not political but cultic apostasy. It hung as a dark shadow over the entire history of the northern kingdom, occasioned the turbulence of civil wars, frequent usurpations, and shifting dynasties, and finally brought about the early demise of the state of Israel (722 BCE).”28 Returning to the configuration of Jeroboam’s wife, one should bear in mind that as Israel’s queen, she is inextricably linked to the political framework of the story. Still, it is her role as mother, comments Adele Reinhartz, that heightens the emotional intensity of the scene.29 Jeroboam’s wife becomes the first witness to the northern devastation, as it were, simply because she is the one who goes in disguise and appears before the prophet. But on a more symbolic level, there is an undeniable dramatic effect to Israel’s queen hearing of the looming devastation, and the reader first imagines the trauma of invasion and exile from her point of view. The work of narratologists such as Shlomith Rimmon–Kenan and Mieke Bal becomes helpful here, as these theorists emphasize and clarify this subtle but important literary technique.30 Management of point of view is used to filter events through a character’s perspective, and it is the shifting in perspective that produces depth and texture in the literary work. Because the prophetic encounter is modulated through the point of view of Israel’s queen, she becomes the emblem of all who grieve, and whose families will be lost in the days ahead. The maternal angle at this juncture in the narrative allows unique access into one family’s misery that soon will be transposed onto the entire nation.

The empty palace Having attended the advanced screening of Israel’s looming apocalypse, there is only one further task commissioned by the prophet: she is to return home. “Unlike her husband,” Gary Knoppers wryly remarks, “she is obedient to the prophetic command.”31 When Abijah’s mother returns, it is to a vacant dynastic house: the heir to the throne is dead, just like their future. Robert Cohn summarizes as follows: “That the son rather than Jeroboam is ill enables the author to contrast the natural death of the innocent child with the violent deaths in store for the rest of Jeroboam’s house. Abijah alone is

mourned and buried by Israel before the turmoil of revolution begins.”32 The location of the house, however, catches the reader off guard: Tirzah. One might have expected the palace to be located at Shechem or Bethel; this is the first time Tirzah has been mentioned, and it plays a curious role in the narrative. As one of the Canaanite monarchic cities conquered in the era of Joshua, Tirzah evidently had a reputation for beauty. In the Song of Songs, the companion is favorably likened to this very city: “You are fair, my beloved, like Tirzah” (6:4). That Jeroboam’s wife returns to Tirzah implies that once again Jeroboam transferred his capital, and one assumes that there were sound strategic reasons for doing so. As four of the next five kings of Israel will reign from Tirzah, J. T. Walsh notes that the move to Tirzah is “a further indication that this last Jeroboam story occurs relatively late in Jeroboam’s reign.”33 If so, Jeroboam has had ample time and means to move his kingdom closer to Ahijah’s mandate, and not simply move to another capital city. Assuming the transfer to Tirzah occurs later in his reign, this is apparently Jeroboam’s only response to the ripping events of 1 Kings 13. Glancing ahead in the story, there is not a bright future for Tirzah in the grander scheme. Just before it is supplanted by Samaria as the new northern capital, the last memorable event in Tirzah is that Zimri torches himself there (1 Kings 16:18). Zimri only reigns for a week, but in that fleeting seven–day span is still able to “walk in the sins of Jeroboam” before he, anticipating the combustion of human bones on the Bethel altar, goes down in flames. For all the fire soon to devour both his own descendants and the city of Tirzah, Jeroboam’s individual fate in the rest of the narrative is surprisingly pacific. Without fanfare, 1 Kings 14:19–20 records his end: “The rest of the deeds of Jeroboam, how he battled and reigned, behold, they are written in the Book of the Deeds of the Days of the Kings of Israel. The time that Jeroboam reigned was twenty–two years, then he slept with his ancestors, and Nadab his son reigned in his place.” There may be some worthy highlights in terms of battles and other administrative matters, but any achievements are overshadowed by the prophetic word; as in Solomon’s case, punitive measures against the kingdom are deferred until the next generation. Jeroboam’s other son and eventual successor Nadab has not been mentioned until now. Several commentators point out the similarity between the names of Jeroboam’s sons and those of Aaron (the original bovine builder in Exodus 32): Nadab and Abihu. Aaron’s sons die prematurely for a cultic offence in

Leviticus 10:1–2, and like Aaron’s son, Nadab ben Jeroboam does not have a distinguished time in public service, reigning for only two years. Aaron’s son Nadab offers strange fire, and is consumed by divine fire. Jeroboam’s son Nadab is not consumed by fire, but he is liquidated by Baasha, who appears as the regicidal fulfillment of Ahijah’s word (1 Kings 15:29–30). In structural terms, Baasha’s role is analogous to Hadad and Rezon earlier in the narrative, and so we have come full circle in Jeroboam’s turbulent career.34

Epilogue The Future of Jeroboam’s Memory At a critical juncture in Israel’s national history, the rise of Jeroboam stands at the gateway of two kingdoms, and prompts radical reflection and evaluation of imperialistic claims and theological expression. Within a short amount of textual space, the reader is introduced to a character with a startling rise to power, yet with an ending few could have predicted. For all of the initial promise, Jeroboam’s enduring legacy in the Hebrew Bible is rather dismal, with the “sins of Jeroboam” becoming a byline for disaster as the narrative of Israel’s monarchic experiment gradually plummets into confusion. In my view the complexity of Jeroboam’s characterization has been underrated by earlier generations of scholars working on the text of 1 Kings 11–14. But a number of studies in recent years—many of which are cited in the present study—have helped to forge new directions of research in this area of Israel’s monarchic history. Such a situation can continue to be remedied, moreover, with heightened attention to the literary artistry of the story, and further appreciation of Jeroboam’s larger contribution to the DH. This short epilogue reviews the main components of the narrative and summarizes the various literary strategies used in achieving Jeroboam’s complex characterization, and concludes with several questions and signposts for future research on the rendering of human personality on the biblical canvas. I would suggest that scholars working with other methodological tools and constructs can fruitfully appropriate the results of narrative–critical research, whether those studies are located in the historical arena, sociological, canonical, text–critical, or even within the burgeoning field of reception–history.1 In the end, the Jeroboam narrative eschews an easy moralism in favor of a sustained meditation on the relationship between power and responsibility, the intersection between the divine will and human freedom, and some of the inherent difficulties of leadership in a chaotic era. Through the lens of a sometimes poorly understood character comes the means for discovering afresh the muscle and compelling immediacy of a sophisticated ancient narrative, fraught with irony and imaginative vitality.

Game of thrones The life of Jeroboam in 1 Kings 11–14 is presented by a group of authors I believe had a certain kind of admiration for this figure, one who was given great gifts and conditionally promised a kingdom almost as good as that of David—or even better, we could posit, because no “sword forever” clause was attached to it—if only he walked in the statutes as articulated by Ahijah the prophet. From the outset Jeroboam is presented as the outsider who rises to the top, first through his marginal Ephraimite roots, then through Solomon’s enormous promotion over the labor force of the house of Joseph, and finally by a prophetic investiture that singles him out for an uncommon destiny. Because Jeroboam is presented so positively, by and large, the reader most likely is entirely sympathetic when Solomon tries to assassinate him, providing justification for the Egyptian refuge that preserves his life. Still, there are a number of eerie similarities with the narratives of Hadad and Rezon who are strategically used to frame the Jeroboam narrative, with a strongly hinted possibility for trouble. During the negotiations of Shechem the reader is exposed to Rehoboam and his troupe of knaves. After seeing these characters in action, whatever misgivings anyone has must quickly dissipate and sympathy further inclines toward Jeroboam. A palpable lack of political wisdom from Rehoboam has disastrous results for the united monarchy, and the northern crowd finds it expedient to chant “Look to your own house, O David.” Although resentment had been simmering for decades, seemingly overnight a new kingdom is born and a new king is crowned, and as an attempted civil war is stifled, Jeroboam’s reign is divinely re–affirmed in a public way by Shemaiah the prophet. The prospects of two separate kingdoms allied by a common faith– tradition emerges in this phase of the story, and there is every hope for a successful coexistence. Yet within a very short time a problem surfaces: no sooner is Jeroboam’s kingship apparently solidified beyond any obvious dispute, than the first crack in the armor is relayed by means of a soliloquy. Indeed, through one of the most important soliloquies in the entire Bible the reader is privy to a watershed moment of regal doubt. The king experiences a tremor of fear that his citizens will overthrow and destroy him, and this split–second of weakness—one might argue—permanently alters Israel’s political and religious landscape. Jeroboam is not concerned with somehow annexing the

south and wresting control over all Israel and Judah; rather, he fears losing only the north back to Rehoboam and the Davidic kingdom. In this regard Jeroboam certainly respects the political component of Ahijah’s oracle, and understands the partitions of the divided kingdom. The cultic area is far more problematic, and becomes a stumbling block not only for Jeroboam, but virtually every other northern king as well. The turning point of the narrative is the construction of an alternative liturgy, with the pièce(s) de résistance being a pair of golden calves established at key northern cities. The charge is leveled that the calves pollute the ideological ecosystem, and become a snare for many. The calves are emblematic of the sweeping reforms ushered in by Jeroboam, and while no public resistance is stated in the text, a memorable voice of protest arises in the man of God from Judah. Visiting the new altar of Bethel at a time of high ceremony, this unnamed character speaks about both the immediate present and distant future, and his prophetic word is theatrically confirmed when the altar is destroyed and the king is physically injured. The fact that the altar is dramatically ripped apart on the day of its inauguration surely is a sign, yet as the story proceeds it is a sign not heeded. By means of a political allegory strategically positioned in the middle of Jeroboam’s biography, the reader is afforded a different perspective on entanglement and deviation from a prescribed course, as the same man of God who pronounced doom on the altar of Bethel is killed by a lion and buried away from his ancestral grave. Ahijah is the prophet who propels Jeroboam’s ascension to the throne, but in the closing act of the king’s career Ahijah is also the prophet who announces the termination of his reign. The multilayered speech of rejection in 1 Kings 14 is first heard by Israel’s queen, instructed by Jeroboam to approach the prophet in disguise. As announced to the unnamed wife, the imminent devastation of Jeroboam’s house will begin with the firstborn son, to be eventually followed by the entire northern kingdom. Because Jeroboam’s wife is involved, the reader glimpses the maternal bereavement and national sterility on the horizon in the cataclysm of invasion and exile. The final “experience” in the Jeroboam narrative is refracted through this anonymous female character’s point of view, since more than just the king’s house is implicated. At the outset of 1 Kings 12 the northerners ask for a lighter burden, but as the story inexorably moves toward a conclusion, the sin of Jeroboam becomes a heavy burden carried to exile and mass burial in a

foreign wilderness.

The disinherited In the portrait of Jeroboam the biblical writers capture some of the dark, lonely irony of kingship, and as a component within the national autopsy of the DH these writers create a literarily stunning and compelling story. I have argued that narrative criticism is an appropriate and productive way of accessing the story, as it provides a methodological approach that “concentrates on the story being told, on the events that occur within it, the spatial and temporal settings of those events, and the characters who inhabit the story, including their social location, values, etc.”2 Of course, the best kind of literary interpretation, as John Barton reminds us, is that which takes seriously the “distinctive historical culture” wherein the biblical text arose, and in my estimation narrative criticism is particularly well suited for enhancing one’s appreciation of the artistic side of the composition process.3 Preeminent in the Jeroboam narrative is development of the plot around this central figure, from his earliest introduction to the final acts in his career. Regardless of an interpreter’s personal views on Jeroboam, this character is profiled in a very intriguing manner. Raised up to counter the corruption and compromise of Solomon’s kingdom, it is hard to dispute that Jeroboam— despite lacking a Judahite tribal affiliation or any direct paternal connection to the Davidic court—has the necessary drive and gravitas to scale the ranks of the empire. The positive elements in Jeroboam’s early characterization further come to the fore when one considers the sheer number of obstacles that this character has to overcome, not least the “widow’s son” factor. Even here one senses a deeper symbolic dimension, as occasionally Israel is chastised in the Hebrew Bible for poor treatment of “widows and orphans” (e.g., Isa. 10:2). Several decades ago W. S. Caldecott must have been thinking about this phrase in conjunction with Solomon’s forced labor policies, prompting the following observation: “Jeroboam, the son of a widow, would be the first to feel the gall of oppression and to give voice to the suffering of the people.”4 Who better to counter the miscarriages of justice in the Solomonic regime than a widow’s son, promoted by the king because he is an enterprising worker? It is quite possible that the biblical writers accentuate the success of Jeroboam’s early career, and consequently

his characterization is far less adversarial than one might expect in light of the negative tone found in much of the secondary literature. In this portrait the reader is given a thoughtful, sober, and penetrating account of a character who had many traits to admire, but experienced a terrible fall from grace. The most litigious moment in the story—Jeroboam’s disclosure of his fear of mutiny—is presented as an interior monologue so the reader can further understand the kind of inner fear that eventually results in the alternative liturgy. The biblical writers do not seem interested in simply denigrating the first northern king, but rather they develop this central character into a flesh– and–blood personality whom the reader is invited to carefully study. Jeroboam’s characterization is also broadened by the configurations of the various members of the supporting cast. As analyzed in this study, the array of minor characters enhance the storyline, and even those figures whose appearances are brief make interesting contributions. At the beginning and at the end of Jeroboam’s career stands Ahijah the prophet, who starts by ripping the coat and ends by ripping the king. Though blind, with supernatural assistance he is able to pierce the queen’s disguise. Ahijah exhales a pair of long speeches, with the first outlining the conditions by which Jeroboam is to reign, and with the second specifying the consequences of his actions. Similar to Ahijah, female characters bracket the Jeroboam story, with his mother and wife appearing in the introductory and concluding episodes. His mother is a widow and his wife loses her son, and thus both women are acquainted with heartbreak and untimely death on either side of Jeroboam’s rise to prominence. Rehoboam is used as a foil for Jeroboam during the negotiations at Shechem, yet later the tables are turned, and Rehoboam is the king who at least heeds the prophetic word, despite Jeroboam’s more quantifiable leadership skills. Other characters like Adoniram (illustrating the violence of the northern crowd) and Shemaiah (who is able to quell a civil war with the prophetic word) have limited roles, but important functions. Moreover, the two elusive figures of 1 Kings 13—the man of God from Judah and the old prophet of Bethel—also are used in Jeroboam’s indirect characterization. Through the political allegory that unfolds in the chapter, the reader is provided with some insight about the challenges of executing one’s commission. Like Jeroboam, the man of God from Judah deviates from the “way” he was supposed to take, although one could point out that he is deceived, whereas Jeroboam is not. The man of God’s punishment is one of disinheritance: he will not be buried in his ancestral tomb, and thus

foreshadows the similar fate of Jeroboam’s house. In 1 Kings 11–14 a rich variety of literary devices and techniques are brought into play by the biblical writers. Elements such as the wordplay between coat and the name Solomon , the repetition of key terms such as “hand” and “rip,” the motif of clothing, the use of interior direct discourse, and the apostrophic speeches to the altar of Bethel and the corpse of the man of God all have been discussed in this study. To review two other examples, consider first how temporal dislocation works in the narrative, especially as Jeroboam is first introduced by means of a flashback. This literary technique certainly merits detailed attention, because through this sequencing pattern an important theological point is made. The triumvirate of Hadad, Rezon, and Jeroboam confirms divine willingness to raise up opponents to disassemble even a chosen government, and surely this anticipates the use of the Assyrian and Babylonian forces on the longer–term horizon. Furthermore, the flashback verifies the divine sponsorship of Jeroboam’s kingship, explaining precisely how he is not the mastermind of a rebellion against an incumbent ruler (the pattern of deposing many northern kings to come). Because Jeroboam is raised up closer to the midpoint of Solomon’s reign, the reader is privy to a new insight as to the legitimacy of his reign. As a second brief example, consider again the supple use of intertextuality in the Jeroboam narrative. In particular, the allusions to the house of Eli provide a comparative framework for understanding how and why a king with such promise fell from favor. By analogy with this other dynastic house, 1 Kings 11–14 presents the reader with an opportunity to ruminate about the web of intertextuality in the Hebrew Bible.

Heavy lies the crown As I have indicated above, there are other branches of research that can apply the results of the present study. A natural place to begin would be with those scholars working in different areas of the canon—parts that are affected by Jeroboam’s reign and the kinds of issues raised in the narrative. For all of the youthful potential, Jeroboam’s enduring legacy in the Hebrew Bible is rather dismal. His dynasty, as we have seen, could have been extensive, but his son Nadab reigns for a grand total of two years, which is not very long in the biblical economy of kings. Furthermore, Nadab himself is subject to a brutal

overthrow at the hands of Baasha, “son of Ahijah of the house of Issachar.” The termination of Jeroboam’s house raises a number of ethical questions: what is the best way to read the violence of this overthrow? Are there any contemporary theoreticians who can help us make sense of this text in our present interpretive climate? In addition, why is Baasha chosen for this task? Does his career resemble Jeroboam’s, or is he simply “a political schemer and terrorist” (as one commentator puts it)? Is it sheer coincidence that Baasha’s father is named “Ahijah,” and shares the name with the one who pronounced the (conditional) divine word about Jeroboam’s house in the first place? After his death Jeroboam is mentioned about thirty more times in the Bible, and further work can be done as far as Jeroboam’s legacy in the remainder of 1 and 2 Kings. Of all the occasions where Jeroboam is mentioned, one that could benefit from heightened attention is the fulfillment of the prophetic word spoken by the unnamed man of God in 13:2, “O Altar, Altar, thus says the LORD: ‘A son will be born to the house of David … and human bones will be burned on you.’” The reader knows the altar is doomed, but after an interlude of several centuries, the prophetic forecast finally finds fulfillment during the era of Josiah in 2 Kings 23:15, “Even the altar at Bethel, the high place erected by Jeroboam son of Nebat, who caused Israel to sin—he pulled down that altar along with the high place. He burned the high place, crushing it to dust; he also burned the sacred pole.” In the realization of this prophetic word, is there a precise “one–for–one” correlation, or are we being invited to reflect on something else? With some flaming irony, it turns out that Solomon fares worse in 2 Kings 23 than Jeroboam! Further, the representation of Jeroboam in Chronicles would be a fruitful area for literary analysis. If Chronicles is the last word of the Hebrew Bible (and uses Kings as a source document), one may have expected a worse press for Jeroboam. But this is not exactly the case. Notably, another document is mentioned, namely the “visions of Iddo the seer concerning Jeroboam the son of Nebat.” Can anything be surmised about this (lost) written record of Iddo? What could have been written there? Is it possible that the Jewish historian Josephus might help us here? Does Chronicles bring closure on Jeroboam, or in fact open the dialogue about this intriguing character in new ways?5 For instance, in 2 Chronicles 13:6–7 Abijah king of Judah is at war with the north, and in a lengthy speech on top of a high hill, he gives an interpretation

of the schism at Shechem: “Jeroboam son of Nebat—servant of Solomon, son of David—arose and rebelled against his master. Empty fellows and sons of Belial gathered around him, and they fortified themselves against Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, but Rehoboam was just a lad, tender of heart, and he could not strengthen himself before them.” Even a superficial comparison reveals some glaring discrepancies with 1 Kings 12, not least that Jeroboam is now the roué with a crowd of rebels, while Rehoboam is said to be manipulated by these bullies. Of course, the speaker Abijah is not exactly a disinterested party and no doubt has his own political motives for character assassination. But regardless of any preliminary impressions, such an inquiry is best undertaken after a thoughtful analysis of the 1 Kings 12 material. Similarly, in 2 Chronicles 11:14 there is another variation: “The Levites abandoned their pasture lands and their land possessions and went to Judah and Jerusalem, because Jeroboam and his sons rejected them as priests of the LORD.” The mention of Jeroboam and his sons raises an eyebrow, as 1 Kings 14 hardly profiles the sons as active in the kingdom. “Sons” in this context could conceivably refer to “spiritual descendants” rather than literal offspring, but this remains an example of how comparative literary studies between the DH and Chronicles could generate some useful results. On a related note, the most immediate application and extension of the present research would involve the contribution of the Jeroboam narrative to the wider DH. In recent years scholars have debated the lineaments of the DH in terms of purpose and provenance; it is fair to say the field is in a state of flux, and in my opinion this is a most exciting time to be ruminating about such issues. Researching Jeroboam, I would submit, is most useful for thinking about it, and I can envision several areas in the days ahead that profitably can be explored in light of the present study. Of course, such investigations could take various forms, not least being text–criticism. I explained early on that text–critical matters, that is, the Septuagint, lie outside the boundaries of this book. But narrative criticism could profitably be deployed, especially when considering the rather different characterization of Jeroboam that emerges in the LXX. In the Greek version Jeroboam’s mother is a prostitute, he marries an Egyptian princess, and his son’s death is recorded at a much earlier point. Without advocating any particular position on these and other points, in general one could say that it testifies to the vibrancy with which the Jeroboam story was interpreted, and perhaps even contested, in its earliest circulations.

Further, the LXX material shows that Jeroboam’s character was understood as important, and further study in this area could illuminate how and why. In the same way, historians working on the production of memory in the DH could also utilize some of the research undertaken in this book.6 The writers responsible for 1 Kings are sometimes construed as ideological pugilists who lampoon their perceived opponents, but I have yet to be convinced that such is the case. Balancing numerous items in their representation of the past, the writers walk an artistic tightrope and carry their story to a new generation of leaders and interested parties. In a recent treatment of memory in the biblical material, Ronald Hendel offers a programmatic outline of how such research might be framed. Hendel is writing on Solomon, but the ideas are transferable to other texts and personalities: The archaeology of memory in the case of King Solomon follows the intertwining aspects of narrative discourse, public memory, chronology, and the structures of social change. It is an interdisciplinary program, like the material archaeology of ancient Israel. Its domain is the circulation of meanings, involving the careful sifting of culture, texts, and history. In it we approach two King Solomons—one historical and the other discursive—who are not wholly separable. They pertain to different levels of reality, but they have a complementary existence, shadowing each other in the textual and material traces of the past.7 Those scholars working on the dynamics of power in the DH also might appropriate some of the analysis of Jeroboam in this book, as the biblical writers surely wanted their readership to consider possible reasons why his reign went askew. The dangers and realities of political accommodation were no doubt perennial issues of leadership in every biblical age.8 Navigating one’s constituency amidst the voices of competing interest groups would be a challenge, and for such reasons “taking counsel” is a prominent theme during the negotiations at Shechem and immediately following Jeroboam’s soliloquy in 1 Kings 12:28. At numerous points a sub–current of the DH could be understood as a political education, with royal figures subject to a fairly rigorous critique of power. Summarizing earlier chapters, it is evident that kings are tempted to abuse the royal office in at least three preliminary ways: first, to direct public policy to further a more personal agenda; second, to

dispense favors (broadly speaking) to their inner circle; and third, manipulating the priesthood. All three of these categories apply in various ways to Saul, David, and Solomon, with an exponential increase as we move closer to Solomon’s reign. But turning to Jeroboam, there is scant evidence that he dispenses any favors—whether land or gifts—to any inner circle. On the whole, it is arguable that his reign is closer to Deuteronomy 17 than is often thought to be the case. Certainly compared to Solomon, there is no indication of a harem, and the only appearance of gold in the story is for the molding of the calves (admittedly a dubious use, but not the kind of egregious accumulation that is mentioned in 1 Kings 10:14–15). Derailment comes mainly from the first and third elements, as private fear of revolt leads to the calves project, and the priesthood is democratized in order to staff the rival sanctuaries. The cultic integrity of Jerusalem is eschewed, and the calves become ideological weapons of self–destruction. As has been discussed, a chief mechanism for critique of power in the DH is through the office of the prophet. In this respect the Jeroboam narrative is instructive, and researchers have ample scope to further nuance this aspect of the prophetic vocation. As a kind of internal system of checks and balances, a degree of separation between the king and prophet is advantageous. In varying degrees the kings will attempt to court the prophet’s favor or stifle prophetic influence; hence Saul begs, David defers, and Solomon silences, but all recognize prophetic authority at the highest level. The reason they woo the prophets, of course, is a power move, and thus all acknowledge that prophets have a power that can make or break their reign. In due course, the more enterprising Israelite kings—such as Ahab in 1 Kings 22—will attempt to co–opt the institution of prophecy for manifestly political reasons. During Jeroboam’s tenure, Ahijah exemplifies the separation aspect, as prophet and king only come in contact on two occasions. It is doubtful the issue is that Jeroboam should have made Ahijah a senior advisor (though obviously he could have done worse). Instead, the main concern of the story is that Jeroboam had enough of the prophetic word to heed, but did not. When faced to decide between his own inner fear or Ahijah’s oracle, the king makes the wrong call, and one senses this is a crucial component of the message at this stage of the Deuteronomistic History. Featured at either end of Jeroboam’s career, Ahijah encompasses a central irony at work in the narrative, one that scholars can continue to refine: Jeroboam’s kingship is a solution to Solomon’s corruption, but becomes deeply problematic when Jeroboam

himself is corrupted, and so the one who is used as a critique himself becomes the subject of a later critique.9 Just as Ahijah called Jeroboam to dismantle Solomon’s kingdom, so Ahijah forecasts that Baasha will demolish Jeroboam’s dynasty. In a sense the last word goes to Ahijah, as prophetic power and the literary power of irony unforgettably merge.

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Index Aaron 139 Abel 50 Abijah 122–3, 135–6, 138, 148 Abimelech 20, 60, 61n. 5, 70 Abraham and kingship 18, 25 Abrams, M. H. 69 Absalom 25, 26, 66, 68 Adam, A. K. M. 14n. 17 Adonijah, stoning of 71 Adoniram 75, 77, 88, 145 Ahab 126–7 Ahijah 6, 11, 22–3, 32, 47, 70, 86, 93–4, 112, 117, 127, 128, 143, 145 announcement of Jeroboam’s kingship 78 blindness of 121, 129–31 comparison with Nathan 56 dispute over whether he or Jeroboam wears the new garment 51–2 final speech 132–8 investiture of Jeroboam 49 Jeroboam’s wife’s meeting with 132–5 oracle 54–5, 74, 83, 151 power 15, 56–7 purpose of in the story 50–1 ripping of Jeroboam’s clothes 48, 52–3, 56, 83, 86 Ahijah of the house of Issachar 147 Albertz, R. 137 Alter, R. 9n. 10

Amit, Y. 9n. 10, 70 Amnon 25, 68, 123 Anderson, G. 118 apostrophe 101–3, 114 Auerbach, E. 88–9n. Auld, G. 94–5 Avalos, H. 130n. 17 Baasha 139, 147, 151 Bal, M. 137 Balaam 19 Baldick, C. 102n. 8 Bartlett, J. R. 35 Barton, J. 4n. 1, 143–4 Barton, S. C. 149n. Bathsheba 25, 68, 71, 123 Beal, L. 15n. 20 Bethel 82, 92–3, 97–8, 109, 110 biblical research on Jeroboam’s story Boer’s study of past scholarship 6–7 Cohn’s literary approach to 5–6 Long’s commentaries on 4–5 Walsh’s study of narrative structure 10 Bloom, H. 84 Boaz 46 Boer, R. 6–8, 111 Bohnbach, K. G. 118n. 32 Bosworth, D. A. 97n., 117n. 30 Bowman, R. 9–10, 10n. 11 Branch, R. G. 124n. 6 Brueggemann, W. 24, 33n. 3, 67, 96n.

Cain 50 Caldecott, W. S. 144 Camp, C. V. 123n. 5 Campbell, A. 5 Campbell, E. 73 Christian, M. A. 13n., 80n. 1 Chronicles, Jeroboam’s representation in 147–8 Chun, S. Min 51n. Chung, Y. H. 80n. 2 clothing, ripping of 48, 52–3, 128 Cogan, M. 33, 38n., 47, 61n. 6, 73, 100, 115 Coggins, R. 126–7 Cohn, R. 6, 8, 72, 110, 132, 138 Cross, F. M. 93n. Culler, J. 102–3 Dan 92–3 David 21, 34, 60, 68, 133 abuse of power 25–6 arrangement of Solomon’s marriage to Naamah 33 and clothing 52–3 flashback to Hadad’s story 36 killing of Uriah 24, 25, 84 and Nathan 24–5, 29, 56 parallel with Jeroboam 43 relationship with Samuel 24 similarities with Rezon’s wilderness years 40 similarity of anointing with David’s appointment 48 soliloquy 85 Deuteronomistic History (DH) 12–13 contribution of Jeroboam’s narrative 148–9 genealogies in 42

power dynamics 150 DeVries, S. 60 Dietrich, W. 123n. 3 disguises 126–7 dual causality 70–2 Edelman, D. V. 139n. 34 Edomites 36 Eli 125–6, 130 Elijah wearing of unique clothes 51 Ephratite and Ephramite 42–3 Esau 19 exile perspective (study of text) 12 flashbacks 36, 39, 54–5, 146 Fokkelman, J. P. 25n. forced labour 26, 47–8, 59, 75 foreshadowing 35, 38 Forms of Old Testament Literature, The (FOTL) 4–5 Foucault, M. 13, 31, 94 Fretheim, T. E. 58n, 107, 134 Frisch, A. 77 Fritz, V. 45 Fuchs, E. 125 Garbini, G. 123–4 Glatt, D. 46 golden calves 80, 91–5, 99, 133, 142, 150 Gomes, J. F. 108n. Gordon, R. 42 Gravett, S. L. 118n. 32

Gray, J. 33n. 2, 128–9, 136n. 27 Greifenhagen, F. V. 118n. 32 Gryter, W. de 82n. 4 Habib, M. A. R. 94 Hacking, I. 74 Hadad the Edomite 5, 35–6, 41, 48, 58, 139n. 4 marriage 37, 38 parallels with Moses 37 and Pharaoh 37–9 power marriage 38–9 similarity with David 37 Halpern, B. 28n. 16, 124n. 7 harems 123–4 Harmon, W. 35n. 7 Havrelock, R. 81 Heller, R. L. 23n. Hendel, R. S. 11n., 149 Hens–Piazza, G. 37, 80n. 2 Hervieu–Leger, D. 92n. 18 Holder, J. 133n. 19 Holman, H. 35n. 7 Hutton, J. M. 82n. 4 Jacob 19 Jameson, F. 6–7 Jameson and Jeroboam (Boer) 6–8 Japhet, S. 44n. 18, 61n. 7 Jephthah 46 Jeroboam Abijah (son) 122–3 abuse of power 94

Ahijah’s announcement of kingship 78 attendance at Rehoboam’s crowning 59, 62–3 character as symbolic of a divided nation 86–7 characterization (general) 8–9, 144–6 concerns over Rehoboam 87–8 counsel taking 89–90 dispute over residence in Egypt 61–2 early mentioning of 40–1 employment in the Millo 45–6 end of 139 family (general) 121 first speech as king 90–2 flight to Egypt 57–8 as foil to Rehoboam 69, 145 golden calves, building of 80 harem, lack of 123–4 “hero of strength” 44–5 investiture by Ahijah 49 issue of the raised hand 45–8 journey to and from Egypt 63–4 legitimacy 8 meaning of his name 44–5 Nadab (son) 139, 146–7 name 44–5 narrative silence 79 Nebat (father) 43 parallels with Samuel and David 43 promise of kingdom 24 promotion 45–7 provenance 41–3 as rebel 14, 41–2, 47–8 rebuilding of Shechem and Penuel 80–1, 88

reforms 94–6 ripping of new coat by Ahijah 48, 52–3, 56, 83, 86 sending for by northerners 62 Shemaiah’s reaffirmation of his kingship 77–8 similarities of his sons with Aaron’s 139 similarity of appointment and anointing of David 48 similarity with Hadad and Rezon 37 similarity with Solomon’s temple–building 94 soliloquy 85–8 status 31–2 and status of Jerusalem 82–4 summary of his life 2–3, 141 wife 11, 123–5, 137–8, 143, 145, 149 Zeruah (mother) 43–4, 144, 145, 149 Jerusalem 82–4 Joab 36, 73 Joseph and his coat 53 Josiah 103 Kang, J. J. 28n. 14 1 Kings 11:32–39 2, 54–5 1 Kings 13 97–119 allegorical dimension of lion and donkey 112 apostrophe, use of 101–3, 114 Boer’s analysis of 7–8 concluding paragraph 116–19 grave and tomb metaphors 114 Jeroboam’s calendar change 95, 99, 100 Jeroboam’s invitation to the man of God 7, 106–7 Jeroboam’s withered hand 105–6 Josiah references 103–4 man of God from Judah 7, 98, 100–7, 109–11, 115, 142–3, 145, 147

man of God judged by God 110–11 man of God killed by lion 111, 113 old prophet of Bethel 108–9, 115 old prophet buries man of God 113 old prophet’s invitation to man of God 109–10 ripping of the altar 104, 106 Samaria, prophecy about 114–16 1 Kings 14:1–20 120–39 Abijah’s future 135–6 Abijah’s illness 121, 122–3 Ahijah’s blindness 129–31 Ahijah’s final speech 132–8 “at that time” (use of phrase) 122 hand, significance of 128 Jeroboam’s end 139 Jeroboam’s wife’s disguise 126–8 Jeroboam’s wife’s meeting with Ahijah 131–8 a new king 136–7 similarities with Eli’s story 125–6 kingship 17, 29–30, 57 Abraham (Gen.17) 18 David’s 24–6, 29 elders’ request of Samuel for a king 21 foreshadowing of 19–20 Moses on 19–20 Samuel on 21 Saul’s 22–4, 29 Solomon’s 26–9 Kish 46 Knoppers, G. N. 25n., 54–5, 80n. 2, 99, 119n., 130, 136n. 26, 138 Laderman, S. 118n. 31

Lasine, S. 87, 88n., 90 legitimacy of rebellion 13 Leithart, P. 40, 65 LeMan, J. M. 141n. Leuchter, M. 50, 74, 91 Lieu, J. M. 9n. 10 Linville, J. 27, 83n. “Literary Technique in the Jeroboam Narrative” (Cohn) 6, 8 Long, B. O. 4–5, 34–5, 63, 111n. 21, 136 McCarter, P. K. 42n. McConville, G. 14–15, 26, 28, 55, 92n. 17 Macchi, J.–D. 7n. 7 Machinist, P. 17, 57, 71 Malpas, S. 15–16 Marcus, D. 97 Matthews, V. 82 Mead, J. K. 110n. 19 Meier, S. A. 135n. 24 memory, treatment of in Bible 149–50 Miles, J. 91n. 16 Miscall, P. D. 9n. 10 Mitchell, M. M. 9n. 10 Moberly, W. 50, 130n. 17 monarchy, rise of 17 Moses 19–20 Mulder, M. 50 Mullen, E. T. 83n. Naamah the Ammonitess 33 Naaman 46 Nadab 139, 146–7

narrative criticism 10–12, 143–4 narrative devices 9 narrative organization/structure 10–11 Nathan 34, 84 comparison with Ahijah 56 and David 29, 56 and Solomon 26–7 Nebat 43–4 Nelson, R. 47–8, 94, 106, 117 Newsom, C. A. 112n. 24, 150n. 8 Noth, M. 12, 39n. Oblath, M. 44, 63 Olyan, S. 134–5 Pakkala, J. 80n. 2 Penuel 80–2 Person, J. F. 12n. Phinehas 125–6 Polak, F. H. 22n. Polaski, D. C. 14n. 16, 118n. 32 Polzin, R. 25–6 power 118 David’s abuse of 23–6 networks 13–14, 118 Saul’s abuse of 23–4 Power, B. A. 28n. 14 production side of the story 12–13 prophets as free agents 32, 56 and kings 151 opposition of prophet/king 15

and power 17, 18, 29–30, 32, 56–7, 77 see also Ahijah; Nathan; Samuel Pury, A. de 7n. 7 Pyper, H. S. 82n. 4, 85n. Rabinow, P. 27n. 11 reading of the text after collapse of institutional monarchy 12 rebellion, legitimacy of 13–14 Rehoboam 33, 44, 63, 141–2, 145 as a foil to Jeroboam 69, 145 assembly at Shechem 60–1, 64–5 heeding word of Shemaiah 77–8 Jeroboam’s concerns over 87–8 and power 94 preparedness for office 64 quelling of riot and taking flight 75–6 reason for coronation at Shechem 59 reforms 94–6 rejection sealed with a song 72–4 requests elders’ counsel 64–6 second assembly at Shechem 68–70 Solomon (father) see main entry for takes counsel from “the boys” 66–7 Reinhartz, A. 125n. 9 Reis, P. T. 28n. 13, 109n. 18 Rezon of Elida 5, 31, 36, 38, 41, 48, 139n. 4 similarity with David 37, 40–1, 39 Richards, K. H. 141n. Rimmon–Kenan, S. 137 ripping of garments, symbolism of 23, 48, 52 Rogerson, J. W. 9n. 10, 149n. Römer, T. 7n. 7, 12n. Roncace, M. 121n.

Rosenberg, J. 112n. 24, 117n. 30 rupture, concept of 68 Samaria 114–16 Samuel 100 elders’ request for a king 21 parallel with Jeroboam 43 relationship with David 24 relationship with Saul 22–3 ripped robe incident 23, 52 wearing of unique clothes 51 Saul of Benjamin 21, 91, 100, 126–7 abuse of power 23–4 massacre of Nob 23–4 relationship with Samuel 22–3 ripped robe incident 23, 52 soliloquy 84–5 Schenker, A. 7n. 7 Schniedewind, W. M. 24n. 7 Schwartz, R. 68 Scullen, R. K. 143n. Seow, C. L. 37, 60, 122n. Shalom–Guy, H. 61n. 5 Sharp, C. J. 151 Sheba of Bicri 26, 41 song 72–4 Shechem 59–60 Jeroboam’s rebuilding of 80–1 Shemaiah 76, 86, 145 reaffirmation of Jeroboam’s kingship 78 Shilo 50, 130–1 Shmidt, U. 130n. 16

sin, use of the term 93, 118–19, 136 soliloquy/self–talk 85–8 Solomon 31 absence of prophets 27, 29 Ahijah’s oracle in relation to 54–5 David’s part in his marriage to Naamah 33 God’s judgement speech against 34–5 Naamah the Ammonitess (wife) 33 and Nathan 26–7 and power 27–9, 34, 94 Rehoboam (son) see main entry for his replacement 34–5 revelation that subordinate will gain his kingdom 41 Rezon as his enemy 40 “rise of the adversaries” 5 seeking to kill Jeroboam 57–8 temple–building 94 tribal favoritism 27–8 wives 32–4 Soulen, R. N. 143n. Stavrakopoulou, F. 114 Sternberg, M. 9n. 1 Stuckenbruck, L. T. 149n. Sweeney, M. 29, 56, 64, 69–70, 75, 89 temporal dislocation see flashbacks Teows, W. I. 134n. 21 Tirzah 138–9 Tomes, R. 107, 138–9 tree symbolism 109 “twist”, use of the word in 1 Kings 12:15 71–2

Uriah 24, 25, 84 Vanderhooft, D. S. 109n. 17 Van Seters, J. 101 Walsh, J. 10, 34n., 44, 62, 69, 76, 101, 110, 110n. 20, 138 “way” 116–18 Way, K. C. 111 Weismann, Z. 67n. 16 Wenham, G. 19n. 3 Wold, B. G. 149n. Yee, G. A. 4n. 1, 10n. 11 Zeitschrift für alttestamentliche Wissenschaft (ZAW) 5–6 Zeruah 43 meaning of her name 43–4 Zimri 139 Zvi, E. Ben 4n. 2


For a sampling of recent methodologies (e.g., social–scientific, feminist, ideological, deconstructive, gender, and postcolonial criticism) applied to a single set of texts (the book of Judges), see G. A. Yee, ed., Judges & Method: New Approaches in Biblical Studies, 2nd ed. (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2007). The fact that Yee’s volume is already in a second edition (with the first edition published only in 1995) is a testimony to the rapid pace of change within the field. Many of the more traditional approaches are effectively canvassed in J. Barton, Reading the Old Testament: Method in Biblical Study, rev. ed. (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1996). 2 For a wider assessment of form–criticism and its (bleak or bright?) prospects for the future, see the collection of essays from various practitioners in The Changing Face of Form Criticism for the Twenty–First Century, ed. M. A. Sweeney and E. Ben Zvi (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2003). 3 B. O. Long, 1 Kings, with an Introduction to Historical Literature (FOTL; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1984). 4 Long, 1 Kings, 130. 5 R. L. Cohn, “Literary Technique in the Jeroboam Narrative,” ZAW 97 (1985) 23–35 [25]. 6 Cohn, “Literary Technique in the Jeroboam Narrative,” 35. 7 Differences between the Hebrew text (MT) and LXX are beyond the scope of this study, and merit a separate discussion in a different kind of book. In addition to Boer’s work, also see the recent debate between M. A. Sweeney, “A Reassessment of the Masoretic and Septuagint Versions of the Jeroboam Narratives in 1 Kings/3 Kingdoms 11–14,” JSJ 38 (2007) 165–95, and A. Schenker, “Jeroboam’s Rise and Fall in the Hebrew and Greek Bible. Methodological Reflections on a Recent Article: Marvin A. Sweeney, ‘A Reassessment of the Masoretic and Septuagint Versions of the Jeroboam Narratives in 1 Kings/3 Kingdoms 11–14,’ JSJ 38 (2007): 165–95,” JSJ 39 (2008) 367–73. Cf. Schenker’s earlier study, “Jeroboam and the Division of the Kingdom in the Ancient Septuagint: LXX 3 Kingdoms 12.24 A-Z, MT 1 Kings 11–12; 14 and the Deuteronomistic History,” in Israel Constructs Its History: Deuteronomistic Historiography in Recent Research, ed. A. de Pury, T. Römer, and J-D. Macchi (JSOTSup 306; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000), 214–57.


R. Boer, Jameson and Jeroboam (SBL Dissertation Series; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1995), 174 (emphasis mine). 9 Boer, “Literary Technique in the Jeroboam Narrative,” 24. 10 See the explanatory essay by P. D. Miscall, “Introduction to Narrative Literature,” pp. 539–52 in The New Interpreter’s Bible, II (Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 1998), as well as the book–length study by Y. Amit, Reading Biblical Narratives: Literary Criticism in the Hebrew Bible (Philadelphia, PA: Fortress, 2001). Cf. the overview of M. M. Mitchell, “Rhetorical and New Literary Criticism,” in The Oxford Handbook of Biblical Studies, ed. J. W. Rogerson and J. M. Lieu (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 615– 33. Influential earlier studies include R. Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative (New York: Basic Books, 1981) and M. Sternberg, The Poetics of Biblical Narrative: Ideological Literature and the Drama of Reading (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1985). 11 R. G. Bowman, “Narrative Criticism: Human Purpose in Conflict with Divine Presence,” in Judges & Method, ed. G. A. Yee, 19. Bowman also notes (p. 25) that this approach helps to guard against “overinterpretation,” as he puts it: “Narrative criticism seeks to discover and disclose the narrative’s own intrinsic points of emphasis, thereby facilitating its interpretation and consequently helping to discriminate among various possible interpretations.” 12 J. T. Walsh, 1 Kings (Berit Olam; Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1996), xiii. Note also Walsh’s introductory books, Style and Structure in Biblical Hebrew Narrative (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2001), and Old Testament Narrative: A Guide to Interpretation (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010). 13 Walsh, 1 Kings, 193. 14 See R. S. Hendel, “The Biblical Sense of the Past,” in Remembering Abraham: Culture, Memory, and History in the Hebrew Bible (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 95–107. 15 The secondary literature is enormous, but for convenient overviews and bibliography, see R. F. Person, Jr., The Deuteronomic School: History, Social Setting, and Literature (Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 2002), and T. C. Römer, The So–Called Deuteronomistic History: A Sociological, Historical, and Literary Introduction (London: T & T Clark, 2005). 16 For a recent application of such theoretical constructs to the Hebrew Bible, see M. A. Christian, “Priestly Power That Empowers: Michel

Foucault, Middle–Tier Levites, and the Sociology of ‘Popular Religious Groups’ in Israel,” JHS 9 (2009) Article 1. On the difficulty, and necessity, of transferring Foucault’s analysis of power to biblical texts, see D. C. Polaski, “Moses’ Final Examination: The Book of Deuteronomy,” in Postmodern Interpretations of the Bible: A Reader, ed. A. K. M. Adam (St. Louis, MI: Chalice Press, 2001), 30–2. 17 J. G. McConville, God and Earthly Power. An Old Testament Political Theology: Genesis–Kings (LHBOTS 454; London: T & T Clark, 2006), 1. 18 McConville, God and Earthly Power, 155. 19 McConville, God and Earthly Power, 154. 20 See also the discussion of literary complexity in the DH surrounding the prophetic word in L. M. Wray Beal, The Deuteronomist’s Prophet: Narrative Control of Approval and Disapproval in the Story of Jehu (2 Kings 9–10) (LHBOTS 478; New York: T & T Clark, 2007). 21 S. Malpas, “Historicism,” pp. 55–65 in The Routledge Companion to Critical Theory, ed. S. Malpas and P. Wake (New York: Routledge, 2006), 60, drawing on M. Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge, trans. A. M. Sheridan Smith (London: Routledge, 2002), 8.


P. Machinist, “Hosea and the Ambiguity of Kingship,” in Constituting the Community: Studies on the Polity of Ancient Israel In Honor of S. Dean McBride Jr., ed. J. T. Strong and S. S. Tuell (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2005), 154. 2 An extension of the promise is reiterated to Jacob in Gen. 35:11, “a nation and an assembly of nations will come from you, and kings will come forth from your loins.” Unless otherwise indicated, all translations from the Hebrew text are my own. 3 e.g., note the comments of G. Wenham, Genesis 16–50 (WBC 2; Dallas, TX: Word, 1994), 339–40. 4 Compare the description, though, of Israel as a different kind of “kingdom” in Exodus 19:6, “you will be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” As the people of Israel have just escaped from the despotic king of Egypt, there would be certain currency to this description that does not appear to be modeled on the surrounding nations. 5 See 13:13, “Samuel said to Saul, ‘You have acted foolishly! You have not observed the commandment of the LORD your God, who commanded you! For now the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever!’” Note also the discussion of F. H. Polak, “Negotiations, Social Drama and Voices of Memory in Some Samuel Tales,” in Performing Memory in Biblical Narrative and Beyond, ed. F. H. Polak and A. Brenner (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2009), 60–7. 6 For the view that Samuel “has manipulated the situation in order to destroy Saul and secure his own position as leader over Israel,” see R. L. Heller, Power, Politics, and Prophecy: The Character of Samuel and the Deuteronomistic Evaluation of Prophecy (LHBOTS 440; New York: T & T Clark, 2006), 131. 7 A convenient summary and bibliography can be found in W. M. Schniedewind, Society and the Promise to David: The Reception History of 2 Samuel 7:1–17 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999). 8 W. Brueggemann, First and Second Samuel (Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1990), 253. 9 1 Chron. 18:17 reads, “David’s sons, the heads at the hand of the king” ; note the explanation by G. N. Knoppers, I Chronicles 10– 29: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (Anchor Bible 12a; New York: Doubleday, 2004), 706–10. J. P. Fokkelman (Narrative Art

and Poetry in the Books of Samuel. Vol. 3, Throne and City (2 Sam. 2–8 and 21–24) [Assen: Van Gorcum, 1990], 262) suggests that appointing his sons as priests is a “first hint of David’s approaching hubris,” and R. Polzin (David and the Deuteronomist [Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1993], 93–4) likewise asks, “How better to insure the interests of the House of David within the treasury of the house of God than for the king not only to appoint his priests but even to appoint his own sons as priests?” 10 McConville, God and Earthly Power, 146. 11 P. Rabinow, ed., The Foucault Reader: An Introduction to Foucault’s Thought, with Major New Unpublished Material (New York: Pantheon Books, 1984), 61. 12 J. R. Linville, Israel in the Book of Kings: The Past as a Project of Social Identity (JSOTSup 272; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998), 122. 13 See P. T. Reis, “Unspeakable Names: Solomon’s Tax Collectors,” ZAW 120 (2008) 261–6. 14 e.g., B. A. Power, “‘All the King’s Horses …’: Narrative Subversion in the Story of Solomon’s Golden Age,” in From Babel to Babylon: Essays on Biblical History and Literature in Honour of Brian Peckham, ed. J. Rillett Wood, J. E. Harvey, and M. Leuchter (LHBOTS 455; New York: T & T Clark, 2006), 111–23; J. J. Kang, The Persuasive Portrayal of Solomon in 1 Kings 1–11 (Bern: Peter Lang, 2003); cf. the earlier study of D. Jobling, “‘Forced Labor’: Solomon’s Golden Age and the Question of Literary Representation,” Semeia 54 (1992) 57–76. 15 McConville, God and Earthly Power, 153. 16 Note the proximity between palace and temple, as mentioned by B. Halpern, David’s Secret Demons: Messiah, Murderer, Traitor, King (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2001), 420: “Solomon, like the kings of most Near Eastern city–states, built the temple in the backyard of his palace.” 17 M. A. Sweeney, “The Critique of Solomon in the Josianic Edition of the Deuteronomistic History,” JBL 114 (1995) 607–22. Cf. T. Czövek, Three Seasons of Charismatic Leadership: A Literary–Critical and Theological Interpretation of the Narrative of Saul, David and Solomon (Milton Keynes: Paternoster, 2006), 181–96.


M. Foucault, The History of Sexuality: An Introduction, trans. Robert Hurley (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1978), 95–6. 2 J. Gray, I & II Kings, 2nd ed. (OTL; London: SCM, 1970), 118–19. 3 Cf. W. Brueggemann, 1 & 2 Kings (Macon: Smyth & Helwys, 2000), 43– 5. 4 M. Cogan, I Kings: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (AB 10; New York: Doubleday, 2001), 386. 5 Walsh, 1 Kings, 136. 6 Long, 1 Kings, 125. 7 W. Harmon and H. Holman, A Handbook to Literature, 11th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2009), 235–6. 8 J. R. Bartlett, “An Adversary against Solomon, Hadad the Edomite,” ZAW 88 (1976) 205. 9 C. L. Seow, “1 & 2 Kings,” in The New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. 3 (Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 1999), 92. 10 Cf. G. Hens–Piazza, 1–2 Kings (Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 2006), 112. 11 Cogan, I Kings, 322. 12 Cf. M. Noth, The History of Israel, trans. S. Godman (London: A & C Black, 1958), 203–5. 13 P. Leithart, 1 & 2 Kings (Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible; Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos, 2006), 88. 14 R. P. Gordon, 1 & 2 Samuel: A Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1986), 155. See also P. K. McCarter, I Samuel: A New Translation with Introduction, Notes, and Commentary (AB, 8; Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1980), 303. 15 For different reasons, M. Leuchter (“Jeroboam the Ephratite,” JBL 125 [2006] 60) argues that emendation is “precipitous,” and “does not give due consideration to the ramifications of the unemended term.” Such readings neglect, in Leuchter’s view, “the theopolitical significance of the term in presenting Jeroboam as a legitimate Davidic type.” 16 Several scholars posit the meaning of Zeruah as “leper”; if so, this may indicate her status as an outsider. 17 Walsh, 1 Kings, 142–3. 18 Cf. S. Japhet, I & II Chronicles: A Commentary (OTL; Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1993), 660.


M. D. Oblath, “Of Pharaohs and Kings—Whence the Exodus?” JSOT 87 (2000) 37–8. 20 V. Fritz, 1 & 2 Kings (Continental Commentary; Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2003), 135. 21 D. A. Glatt, Chronological Displacement in Biblical and Related Literatures (SBLDS 139; Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1994), 163. 22 Cogan, 1 Kings, 338. 23 R. D. Nelson, First and Second Kings (Interpretation; Atlanta, GA: John Knox Press, 1987), 72. In the same vein, Steven McKenzie notes: “the royal oracle seems to be a reason why Jeroboam eventually ‘raised his hand against the king’” (The Trouble with Kings: The Composition of the Book of Kings in the Deuteronomistic History [Supplements to Vetus Testamentum 42. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1991], 57). 24 R. W. L. Moberly, The Theology of the Book of Genesis (OTT; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 24. 25 M. Leuchter, Josiah’s Reform and Jeremiah’s Scroll: Historical Calamity and Prophetic Response (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2006), 18–32; M. J. Mulder, 1 Kings (HCOT; Leuven: Peeters, 1998), 587. 26 e.g., S. Min Chun, “Whose Cloak did Ahijah Seize and Tear? A Note on 1 Kings xi 29–30,” VT 56 (2006) 268–74. Cf. Cogan, I Kings, 339: “Jeroboam was wearing the cloak. The wording of the succeeding clause, ‘took hold of, grabbed’ (wayyitpoś), solves the ambiguousness of this clause (noted by Qimḥi), because this action is inappropriate on one’s own garment; rather, the action was performed on a garment worn by a second party (cf. Gen. 39:12).” 27 W. G. E. Watson, Classical Hebrew Poetry (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1986), 246. On wordplay in general, see G. A. Rendsburg, “Word Play in Biblical Hebrew: An Eclectic Collection,” in Puns and Pundits: Word Play in the Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Literature, ed. S. B. Noegel (Bethesda, MD: CDL Press, 2000), 137–62. 28 See O. H. Prouser, “Suited to the Throne: The Symbolic Use of Clothing in the David and Saul Narratives,” JSOT 71 (1996) 27–37. 29 Sweeney, I & II Kings, 160. For other intertextual reflexes in the Joseph story, see M. S. Rindge, “Jewish Identity under Foreign Rule: Daniel 2 as a Reconfiguration of Genesis 41,” JBL 129 (2010) 85–104. 30 G. N. Knoppers, Two Nations Under God: The Deuteronomistic History

of Solomon and the Dual Monarchies. Vol. 1, The Reign of Solomon and the Rise of Jeroboam (Harvard Semitic Monographs 52; Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1993), 186. 31 McConville, God and Earthly Power, 157. 32 Sweeney, I & II Kings, 160. 33 Machinist, “Hosea and the Ambiguity of Kingship,” 154. 34 Cf. T. E. Fretheim, First and Second Kings (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 1999), 68, “Solomon’s final act is a sign of his unfaithfulness.”


S. J. DeVries, 1 Kings (WBC, 12; Waco, TX: Word, 1985), 157. 2 Seow, “1 & 2 Kings,” 100. 3 J. Murdoch, Post–Structuralist Geography: A Guide to Relational Space (London: Sage, 2006), 29–55. 4 Murdoch, Post–Structuralist Geography, 30. 5 On the larger role of the Abimelech debacle in the story of Israel’s monarchy, see H. Shalom–Guy, “Three–Way Intertextuality: Some Reflections of Abimelech’s Death at Thebez in Biblical Narrative,” JSOT 34 (2010) 419–32. 6 e.g., Cogan (I Kings, 346–7) claims this clause creates “a contextually impossible reading,” and suggests that Jeroboam “was secondarily added to the text.” Other scholars insist that Jeroboam’s presence is secondary because he does not appear to be much of a revolutionary in this episode. For a survey of scholarly views and textual variants, see Knoppers, Two Nations Under God, Vol. 1, 214–17. 7 There is a different narrative logic at work in Kings and Chronicles, and thus harmonizing the two passages creates a number of other difficulties. See S. Japhet, I & II Chronicles: A Commentary (OTL; Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1993), 652. 8 Walsh, 1 Kings, 161. 9 Long, 1 Kings, 134. 10 Oblath, “Of Pharaohs and Kings—Whence the Exodus?” 25. 11 Sweeney, I & II Kings, 167. 12 See the analysis of 1 Kings 12:28 in the next chapter of this book, where the same niphal verb “to take counsel” is used. 13 Leithart, 1 & 2 Kings, 91. 14 Brueggemann, 1 & 2 Kings, 156. Cf. Hens–Piazza, 1–2 Kings, 123: “Characteristic of young men endowed with power they did not earn, they urge Rehoboam to take a hard line in responding to the people.” For a suggestive discussion on elite hegemony and prophetic critique, see B. Halpern, “YHWH the Revolutionary: Reflections on the Rhetoric of Redistribution in the Social Context of Dawning Monotheism,” in Jews, Christians, and the Theology of the Hebrew Scriptures, ed. J. S. Kaminsky and A. Ogden Bellis (SBL Symposium Series; Atlanta: SBL, 2000), 179– 214. 15 See Gray, I & II Kings, 306.


Cf. the lengthy discussion in Z. Weisman, Political Satire in the Bible (Semeia Studies; Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 1998), 101–11. 17 R. M. Schwartz, “Adultery in the House of David: The Metanarrative of Biblical Scholarship and the Narratives of the Bible,” Semeia 54 (1991) 45; in her essay she uses M. Foucault, “Nietzsche, Genealogy, History,” in Language, Counter–Memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews, ed. D. F. Bouchard (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1977), 139–64. 18 Schwartz, “Adultery in the House of David,” 35. 19 M. H. Abrams, A Glossary of Literary Terms, 6th ed. (Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1993), 159–60. 20 Walsh, 1 Kings, 164. 21 Sweeney, I & II Kings, 167. 22 For a useful overview, see Yairah Amit, “The Dual Causality Principle and Its Effects on Biblical Literature,” VT 37 (1987) 385–400. Amit discusses past research from scholars such as G. von Rad, Y. Kaufmann, and I. L. Seeligmann; cf. the analysis of Amit’s work in Boer, Jameson and Jeroboam, 155–9. 23 Following Leithart, 1 & 2 Kings, 94. 24 P. Machinist, “The Transfer of Kingship: A Divine Turning,” pp. 105–20 in Fortunate the Eyes That See: Essays in Honor of David Noel Freedman in Celebration of his Seventieth Birthday, ed. A. B. Beck, A. H. Bartelt, P. R. Raabe, and C. A. Franke (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995), 108. 25 Machinist, “The Transfer of Kingship: A Divine Turning,” 108. 26 Cohn (“Literary Technique in the Jeroboam Narrative,” 29–30) describes the story in terms of a “basic tension” in the spheres of human and divine plans in the narrative: “While v. 3 suggests that Jeroboam took the lead in challenging Rehoboam, as he did Solomon, v. 20 reports that he is recalled by the people only after they reject Rehoboam. He simply waits in the wings until the kingdom becomes his by default. When Rehoboam flees, Jeroboam, who himself had fled from Solomon, returns. On the one hand, Jeroboam’s initiative, on the other, God’s subtle manipulation, conspires to win him the kingdom.” 27 E. F. Campbell, Jr., “A Land Divided: Judah and Israel from the Death of Solomon to the Fall of Samaria,” pp. 206–41 in The Oxford History of the Biblical World, ed. Michael D. Coogan (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 210.


Cogan, I Kings, 349. 29 Leuchter, “Jeroboam the Ephratite,” 66. 30 I. Hacking, Historical Ontology (Boston, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002), cited in Murdoch, Post–Structuralist Geography, 29. 31 Sweeney, I & II Kings, 171. 32 Walsh, 1 Kings, 166. 33 Cf. Long, 1 Kings, 135. 34 Knoppers, Two Nations Under God, Vol. 1, 222. 35 See A. Frisch, “Shemaiah the Prophet Versus King Rehoboam: Two Opposed Interpretations of the Schism (1 Kings XII 21–4),” VT 38 (1988) 467.


Christian, “Priestly Power That Empowers,” 63–4, drawing on the analysis of Foucault by J. Rouse, “Power/Knowledge,” in The Cambridge Companion to Foucault, ed. G. Cutting (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 109. 2 e.g., Hens–Piazza, 1–2 Kings, 129. For a compendium of scholarly views on the calves, see G. N. Knoppers, “Aaron’s Calf and Jeroboam’s Calves,” in Fortunate the Eyes That See: Essays in Honor of David Noel Freedman in Celebration of his Seventieth Birthday, ed. A. B. Beck, A. H. Bartelt, P. R. Raabe, and C. A. Franke (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995), 92–104. For another critical position, see J. Pakkala, “Jeroboam Without Bulls,” ZAW 120 (2008) 501–25. Pakkala (524) contends that the bulls are a “late addition” to 1 Kings 12:26–33, “aimed to increase Jeroboam’s sin and thus to ridicule his standing as a founder of a dynasty in Israel.” Cf. the recent redactional study of Y. H. Chung, The Sin of the Calf: The Rise of the Bible’s Negative Attitude Toward the Golden Calf (LHBOTS 523; New York/London: T & T Clark, 2010), 22–9; 181–203. 3 R. S. Havrelock, “The Two Maps of Israel’s Land,” JBL 126 (2007) 653. 4 For the role of the Jordan as a river of succession in both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, see H. S. Pyper, “The Secret of Succession: Elijah, Elisha, Jesus, and Derrida,” in Postmodern Interpretations of the Bible: A Reader, ed. A. K. M. Adam (St Louis, MI: Chalice, 2001), 55–66. It is possible that Jeroboam’s journey across the Jordan has an element of symbolic geography; cf. J. M. Hutton, The Transjordanian Palimpsest: The Overwritten Texts of Personal Exile and Transformation in the Deuteronomistic History (BZAW 396; Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2009), 4: “in the literary logic of the DtrH, Transjordan serves as a place of exile, refuge, and incubative transformation for prospective personages of power. Throughout the History, the motif of the return from Transjordan serves as a powerful metaphor for the return (or entry) of a character into a high degree of personal authority, previously lost or nonexistent.” 5 V. H. Matthews, “Back to Bethel: Geographical Reiteration in Biblical Narrative,” JBL 128 (2009) 161–2. 6 Linville, Israel in the Book of Kings, 164. Linville interacts at length with Knoppers, Two Nations Under God, Vol. 1, 199–203, and E.T. Mullen, Jr., Narrative History and Ethnic Boundaries: The Deuteronomistic Historian and the Creation of Israelite National Identity (Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press,

1993), 10–16, 38–40. 7 H. Bloom, Bloom’s Shakespeare Through the Ages: Henry IV, Part I (New York: Infobase Publishing, 2008), 8. 8 On such inferences, see H. S. Pyper, “Reading David’s Mind: Inference, Emotion and the Limits of Language,” pp. 73–86 in Sense and Sensitivity: Essays on Reading the Bible in Memory of Robert Carroll, ed. P. R. Davies and A. G. Hunter (JSOTSup 348; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2002), 75: “Any question of motivation for a literary character arises from a complex process involving the creation of a sophisticated virtual entity in front of the text of which questions of motivation and psychological state can be asked, built on tacit assumptions about the coherence of speech and action, language and mental state.” 9 e.g., Cohn, “Literary Technique in the Jeroboam Narrative,” 30. 10 S. Lasine, “Reading Jeroboam’s Intentions: Intertextuality, Rhetoric, and History in 1 Kings 12,” pp. 133–52 in Reading Between Texts: Intertextuality and the Hebrew Bible, ed. D. N. Fewell (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1992), 151. 11 E. Auerbach, “The Representations of Reality in Homer and The Old Testament,” in Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature, trans. W. Trask (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1953). Cf. the trenchant appraisal of Auerbach by Y. Sherwood, “Abraham in London, Marburg–Istanbul and Israel: Between Theocracy and Democracy, Ancient Text and Modern State,” Biblical Interpretation 16 (2008) 105–53. 12 Sweeney, I & II Kings, 176. 13 Lasine, “Reading Jeroboam’s Intentions,” 140. 14 Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, act 4, sc. 3. 15 Leuchter, “Jeroboam the Ephratite,” 67. 16 For one example of the complexities of satire in the Hebrew Bible, see J. Miles, “Re–reading the Power of Satire: Isaiah’s ‘Daughters of Zion’, Pope’s ‘Belinda’, and the Rhetoric of Rape,” JSOT 31.2 (2006) 193–219. 17 Cf. McConville, God and Earthly Power, 165. 18 D. Hervieu–Leger, Religion as a Chain of Memory, trans. Simon Lee (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2000), 126, cited in A. Leveen, Memory and Tradition in the Book of Numbers (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 3. 19 Note the classic formulation of F. M. Cross (Canaanite Myth and

Hebrew Epic: Essays in the History of the Religion of Israel [Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1973], 199), “We must conclude that Jeroboam carefully appointed two priesthoods for his two national shrines, one of Mushite stock, one of Aaronite ancestry. As we have seen, Jeroboam was in fact no innovator. In his establishment of his cult and cult places he attempted to ‘out–archaize’ David. In the choice of priesthood he also proposed to alienate neither of the rival priestly houses, choosing two national shrines (a procedure in itself demanding explanation!) and two priestly houses to serve him. Withal he attempted to strengthen his kingship, as a usurper must, against the house of David and the great sanctuary of the Ark in Jerusalem.” 20 M. A. R. Habib, A History of Literary Criticism: From Plato to the Present (Oxford: Blackwell, 2005), 770, drawing on Foucault, The History of Sexuality, 87–9. See also the discussion of power and culture in C. O’Farrell, Michel Foucault (London: Sage, 2005), 96–108. 21 Nelson, First and Second Kings, 81. 22 A. G. Auld, Kings (DSB; Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1986), 88. 23 For a tradition–critical study that argues this point at length, see T. Cochell, “The Religious Establishments of Jeroboam I,” Stone–Campbell Journal 8 (2005) 85–97. 24 On the elitist ambience of the temple, see W. Brueggemann, Solomon: Israel’s Ironic Icon of Human Achievement (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2005), 87–103.


Note the unique approach of D. Marcus, “Elements of Ridicule and Parody in the Story of the Lying Prophet from Bethel,” in Proceedings of the Eleventh World Congress of Judaism: Jerusalem, June 22–29, 1993, ed. D. Assaf (Jerusalem: World Union of Jewish Studies, 1994), 67–74. 2 See D. A. Bosworth, The Story within a Story in Biblical Hebrew Narrative (CBQMS 45; Washington, DC: Catholic Biblical Association of America, 2008). 3 e.g., E. T. Mullen, Jr., “The Sins of Jeroboam: A Redactional Assessment,” CBQ 49 (1987) 212–32; D. W. Van Winkle, “1 Kings XII 25– XIII 34: Jeroboam’s Cultic Innovations and the Man of God from Judah,” VT 46 (1996) 101–14. 4 Knoppers, Two Nations Under God: The Deuteronomistic History of Solomon and the Dual Monarchies, Vol. 2, The Reign of Jeroboam, the Fall of Israel, and the Reign of Josiah (HSM 53; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1994), 38. 5 Cogan, I Kings, 367. 6 J. Van Seters, “On Reading the Story of the Man of God from Judah in 1 Kings 13,” in The Labour of Reading: Desire, Alienation and Biblical Interpretation, ed. F. Black, R. Boer, and E. Runions, (Semeia Studies 36; Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1999), 227. 7 Walsh, “The Contexts of 1 Kings XIII,” VT 39 (1989) 358. 8 C. Baldick, The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 22. Cf. the useful discussion of apostrophe in Moby Dick by R. Alter, Pen of Iron: American Prose and the King James Bible (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010), 28–31. 9 J. Culler, The Pursuit of Signs: Semiotics, Literature, Deconstruction (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1981), 135. Note also his general comment: “What role do apostrophes play in poems? Most obviously they serve as intensifiers, as images of invested passion. This is a matter on which rhetoricians seem to agree, and in so agreeing they invoke a rudimentary psychology to naturalize the figure: to explain its meaning by treating it as the natural effect of an unexceptionable cause.” 138. 10 Culler, The Pursuit of Signs, 139. 11 Culler, The Pursuit of Signs, 137. 12 Nelson, First and Second Kings, 86. 13 R. Tomes, “1 & 2 Kings,” in Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible, ed. J.

D. G. Dunn and J. W. Rogerson (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2003), 259. 14 Fretheim, First and Second Kings, 79. 15 Brueggemann, 1 & 2 Kings, 168. 16 J. F. Gomes, The Sanctuary of Bethel and the Configuration of Israelite Identity (BZAW 368; Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2006), 36. 17 On the idea of tree–shade as a trope for cultic protection, see D. S. Vanderhooft, “Dwelling beneath the Sacred Place: A Proposal for Reading 2 Samuel 7.10,” JBL 118 (1999) 625–33. 18 P. T. Reis, “Vindicating God: Another Look at 1 Kings XIII,” VT 44 (1994) 382. 19 J. K. Mead, “Kings and Prophets, Donkeys and Lions: Dramatic Shape and Deuteronomistic Rhetoric in 1 Kings XIII,” VT 49 (1999) 197. 20 Walsh, “The Contexts of 1 Kings XIII,” 365, citing Cohn, “Literary Technique in the Jeroboam Narrative,” 32–4. 21 Note the application of this premise to the field of cartography in B. O. Long, “Bible Maps and America’s Nationalist Narratives,” in Constructions of Space I: Theory, Geography, and Narrative, ed. Jon L. Berquist and Claudia V. Camp (LHBOTS 481; T & T Clark, 2007), 109, citing Foucault, Power/knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972–1977 of Michel Foucault, ed. Colin Gordon (New York: Pantheon, 1980). 22 For a comparative study between this episode and the stories of Balaam’s donkey (Num. 22:22–35), see K. C. Way, “Animals in the Prophetic World: Literary Reflections on Numbers 22 and 1 Kings 13,” JSOT 34 (2009) 47–62. 23 Boer, “National Allegory in the Hebrew Bible,” JSOT 74 (1997) 111–12. Cf. B. A. Strawn, What is Stronger than a Lion? Leonine Image and Metaphor in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East (OBO 212; Freiburg: Academic Press; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2005), 60. 24 For a survey of resistance to and recovery of allegorical modes of reading, see J. Rosenberg, King and Kin: Political Allegory in the Hebrew Bible (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1986); cf. the discussion of C. A. Newsom, “Dialogics and Allegory: The Wisdom Poem of Job 28,” in The Book of Job: A Contest of Moral Imaginations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003). 25 Boer, “National Allegory in the Hebrew Bible,” 118. 26 F. Stavrakopoulou, Land of Our Fathers: The Roles of Ancestor Veneration in Biblical Land Claims (LHBOTS 473; New York: T&T Clark,

2010), 81–102. She argues that in 1 & 2 Kings “burial placement is an ideological feature of both literary representation and historical realism: one of its primary functions is the symbolic marking of territorial boundaries; the placement and displacement of the dead plays a crucial role in demonstrating the occupation and possession of territory.” Also note her discussion on the connections between the tomb here in 1 Kings 13 and the sequel episode, Josiah’s reform in 2 Kings 23. 27 Cogan, I Kings, 373. 28 Cf. Van Winkle, “1 Kings XII 25–XIII 34: Jeroboam’s Cultic Innovations and the Man of God from Judah,” 104. 29 Nelson, First and Second Kings, 84. 30 A number of scholars also pursue the corporate dimension of the allegory, with D. Bosworth (The Story within a Story in Biblical Hebrew Narrative, 130–57) arguing that 1 Kings 13 is a mise-en-abyme of Israel’s entire monarchic history. While outside the scope of my interest here, this kind of inquiry is certainly worthy of future research, and the work of Leithart (1 & 2 Kings, 101–2) and Walsh (“The Contexts of 1 Kings XIII,” 367–8) can also be consulted, along with Rosenberg’s discussion of the individual being used as a representative of the group/nation/state (King and Kin, 20–3). According to these lines of thought, the career of Jeroboam is configured to represent aspects of Israel as a nation. 31 e.g., S. Laderman, “Biblical Controversy: A Clash Between Two Divinely Inspired Messages?” in Iconoclasm and Iconoclash: Struggle for Religious Identity, ed. W. van Asselt, P. van Geest, D. Müller, and T. Salemink (Leiden: Brill, 2007), 143–56; note also the discussion of religion as part of an “ideological state apparatus” in D. Hawkes, Ideology, 2nd ed. (The New Critical Idiom; London: Routledge, 1996), 130–1. 32 S. L. Gravett, K. G. Bohmbach, F. V. Greifenhagen, and D. C. Polaski, An Introduction to the Hebrew Bible: A Thematic Approach (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2008), 275–6. 33 G. A. Anderson, Sin: A History (New Haven, CT and London: Yale University Press, 2009), 15–26. 34 Knoppers, Two Nations Under God, Vol. 2, 66.


For some possible connections between the book of Jeremiah and this episode in 1 Kings 14 involving Jeroboam’s wife and blind Ahijah of Shiloh, see M. Roncace, Jeremiah, Zedekiah and the Fall of Jerusalem (LHBOTS 423; New York/London: T & T Clark, 2005), 162–3. 2 Seow, “1 & 2 Kings,” 111. 3 On the loss of sons by a rejected king, see W. Dietrich, The Early Monarchy in Israel: The Tenth Century B.C.E., trans. J. Vette (Biblical Encyclopedia 3; Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 2007), 55–7. 4 The internal conflict in 1 Kings 14 may reflect a later ideological struggle over competing models of leadership, as advocated by G. Garbini, Myth and History in the Bible, trans. C. Peri (JSOTSup 362; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2003), 91. 5 Note the discussion of Claudia V. Camp, Wise, Strange and Holy: The Strange Woman and the Making of the Bible (JSOTSup 320; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000), 150–2. 6 For a passionate, though not quite convincing, assertion that Jeroboam is an abusive husband, see R. G. Branch, Jeroboam’s Wife: The Enduring Contributions of the Old Testament’s Least–Known Women (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2009), 83–106; cf. Branch’s earlier essay, “The Wife of Jeroboam, 1 Kings 14:1–18: The Incredible, Riveting, History–Changing Significance of an Unnamed, Overlooked, Ignored, Obscure, Obedient Woman,” OTE 17 (2004) 157–67. 7 B. Halpern, David’s Secret Demons: Messiah, Murderer, Traitor, King (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2001), 424. 8 E. Fuchs, “The Literary Characterization of Mothers and Sexual Politics in the Hebrew Bible,” in Women in the Hebrew Bible: A Reader, ed. A. Bach (New York: Routledge, 1999), 136. 9 On Phinehas’ wife’s anonymity as a symbol of national misfortune, see A. Reinhartz, “Anonymity and Character in the Books of Samuel,” Semeia 63 (1993) 127. 10 Fuchs, “The Literary Characterization of Mothers and Sexual Politics in the Hebrew Bible,” 137. 11 R. Coggins, “On Kings and Disguises,” JSOT 50 (1991) 55–62. 12 Coggins also includes 1 Kings 20 and 2 Chron. 35 in the collocation of episodes that conform to this pattern. Each of these events features the same verb , that in its reflexive aspect means “to disguise oneself.” The only

exception is 1 Kings 14:2 where the verb is used, yet Coggins remarks that all the other elements of the motif are present in the episode (“On Kings and Disguises,” 59). 13 Gray, I & II Kings, 336. 14 Cited in Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Old Testament Volume 5 (1–2 Kings, 1–2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther), ed. M. Conti (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2008), 88–9. 15 Knoppers, Two Nations Under God, Vol. 2, 82. 16 On the theme of house in this episode, see U. Schmidt, “Center or Fringe? Positioning the Wife of Jeroboam (1 Kings 14, 1–18),” in A Feminist Companion to the Bible, Second Series: Samuel and Kings, ed. A. Brenner (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000), 86–97. 17 Cf. 1 Sam. 3:2. Note the studies of H. Avalos, “Introducing Sensory Criticism in Biblical Studies: Audiocentricity and Visiocentricity,” in This Abled Body: Rethinking Disabilities in Biblical Studies, ed. H. Avalos, S. J. Melcher, and J. Schipper (Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 2007), 47–60, and R. W. L. Moberly, “To Hear the Master’s Voice: Revelation and Spiritual Discernment in the Call of Samuel,” SJT 48 (1995) 443–68. 18 R. L. Cohn, “Convention and Creativity in the Book of Kings: The Case of the Dying Monarch,” CBQ 47 (1985) 607. 19 On this phrase, see J. Holder, “The Presuppositions, Accusations, and Threats of 1 Kings 14:1–18,” JBL 107 (1988) 36. 20 Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic, 73. 21 Cf. W. I. Toews, Monarchy and Religious Institution in Israel Under Jeroboam I (Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1993). 22 Fretheim, First and Second Kings, 84. 23 S. M. Olyan, Disability in the Hebrew Bible: Interpreting Mental and Physical Differences (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 9. 24 Olyan, Disability in the Hebrew Bible, 10. Cf. the related argument of S. A. Meier, Themes and Transformations in Old Testament Prophecy (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2009), 43. 25 Long, 1 Kings, 155. 26 Knoppers, Two Nations Under God, Vol. 2, 109. 27 Gray, I & II Kings, 333. 28 R. Albertz, Israel in Exile: The History and Literature of the Sixth Century B.C.E., trans. D. Green (Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature,

2003), 296. 29 A. Reinhartz, Why Ask My Name?: Anonymity and Identity in Biblical Narrative (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 107. 30 S. Rimmon–Kenan, Narrative Fiction: Contemporary Poetics (London: Routledge, 1983), 71–85; M. Bal, Narratology: Introduction to the Theory of Narrative, 3rd ed., trans. C. von Boheemen (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009), 142–60. 31 Knoppers, Two Nations Under God, Vol. 2, 85. 32 Cohn, “Convention and Creativity in the Book of Kings,” 606. 33 Walsh, 1 Kings, 199. 34 For Hadad and Rezon as instruments of “immediate retribution,” see D. V. Edelman, “Solomon’s Adversaries Hadad, Rezon and Jeroboam: A Trio of ‘Bad Guy’ Characters Illustrating the Theology of Immediate Retribution,” in The Pitcher is Broken: Memorial Essays for Gösta W. Ahlström, ed. S. W. Holloway and L. K. Handy (JSOTSup 190; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995), 166–91.


For numerous examples of increasing methodological diversity and eclecticism, see Method Matters: Essays on the Interpretation of the Hebrew Bible in Honor of David L. Petersen, ed. J. M. LeMon and K. H. Richards (Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 2009). 2 R. N. Soulen and R. K. Soulen, Handbook of Biblical Criticism, 3rd ed. (Louisville, KY: WJKP, 2001), 120. 3 J. Barton, “Historical Criticism and Literary Interpretation,” in The Old Testament: Canon, Literature and Theology. Collected Essays of John Barton (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007), 131. 4 W. S. Caldecott, “Jeroboam,” in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1949), 1593. 5 Cf. A. Frisch, “Jeroboam and the Division of the Kingdom: Mapping Contrasting Biblical Accounts,” JANES 27 (2000) 15–29. 6 See the useful collection of relevant papers in S. C. Barton, L. T. Stuckenbruck, and B. G. Wold, eds., Memory in the Bible and Antiquity: the Fifth Durham–Tübingen Research Symposium (Durham, September 2004) (WUNT 212; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2007). Note also the introductory comments of J. W. Rogerson, A Theology of the Old Testament: Cultural Memory, Communication, and Being Human (Philadelphia, PA: Fortress, 2010), 13–41. 7 Hendel, Remembering Abraham: Culture, Memory, and History in the Hebrew Bible, 94. 8 Note the comments of C. A. Newsom, “Daniel,” in Women’s Bible Commentary, Expanded Edition, ed. C. A. Newsom and S. H. Ringe (Louisville, KY: WJKP, 1998), 201–6. 9 See the helpful study of irony with application to a number of different texts and genres in C. J. Sharp, Irony and Meaning in the Hebrew Bible (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2009).