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The Bible in 1 kings 11:27 says (NIV):

Here is the account of how he rebelled against the king: Solomon had built the terracesa (Millo) and had filled in the gap in the wall of the city of David his father.

This passage is extremely unclear. But it seems that these were allegations that Jeroboam brought to the people to incite rebellion among the people against Solomon.

But what are these allegations? they all seem to be good things: building up the Millo (rampart stone structure) and filling up the breaches of the city walls were Solomon's efforts to fortify the city. So why were the people upset at king Solomon for fortifying their city?

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  • Their grievances were because of the burden of work. The endless building projects in the days of Solomon. And the lavish lifestyles of the royal family which made the labourers more resentful of the king.
    – user20490
    Dec 12 '17 at 13:26
  • I will answer this question soon Bach. I like it. +1
    – user20490
    Dec 12 '17 at 13:26
  • I hope I answered your question. I believe that Jeroboam's rebellion had been a long time coming. Even Shimei of Benjamin had said "what have we to do with David". This tendency had existed since the days of David. But Solomon made certain mistakes that caused the resurgence of this tribal rivalry.
    – user20490
    Dec 13 '17 at 21:05
  • I addressed the grievances from a historical standpoint. Notice you used the plural "grievances" in the body of your question. These grievances are mentioned in chapter 12. The heavy burden and the whips. I explained the burden as both economic, physical and cultural. You will not get a better answer than that.
    – user20490
    Dec 13 '17 at 23:49
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Contextually, one often has to regard historical setting and events to develop an accurate understanding of a specific text. Practically every commentary you will come across is silent regarding vs. 27 of chapter 11 (I Kings). Based on the Septuagint it is translated as "fortress" from which many assume this is also the meaning of the phrase "house of Millo" in Judges 9:20. Since the story in Judges 9 takes place in Shechem, it possibly demonstrates that the term is not limited to Jerusalem (see also II Sam. 5:9; II Chron. 32:5). This is a "possible" understanding of Millo, but Rabbinical sources (Sanhedrin 101b) believe that this Millo sealed a passageway created by David that once allowed for pilgrimage to the Temple and base this off of "malei:"to be full"...thus connecting (like a joint) to points that used to be open.

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There are certain parallel events on David and Jeroboam that will help answering this question.

1 Samuel 22:14 Ahimelek answered the king, "Who of all your servants is as loyal as David, the king's son-in-law, captain of your bodyguard and highly respected in your household?

1 Kings 11:28 Now Jeroboam was a man of standing, and when Solomon saw how well the young man did his work, he put him in charge of the whole labor force of the tribes of Joseph.

David impressed King Saul.
Jeroboam impressed King Solomon.

Saul put David in charge of his bodyguard.
Solomon put Jeroboam in charge of of the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim.

Horizontally speaking because of their natural talents, both David and Jeroboam threatened their masters.
This bears out vertically by the words of the prophets Samuel and Ahijah.

1 Kings 11:30 and Ahijah took hold of the new cloak he was wearing and tore it into twelve pieces. 31Then he said to Jeroboam, “Take ten pieces for yourself, for this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘See, I am going to tear the kingdom out of Solomon’s hand and give you ten tribes.

1 Samuel 16:1 The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”

Both Saul and Solomon tried to eliminate the threats.

1 Samuel 27:1 David, however, said to himself, “One of these days now I will be swept away by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than to escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will stop searching for me all over Israel, and I will slip out of his hand.”

1 Kings 11:40 Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam, but Jeroboam fled to Egypt, to Shishak the king, and stayed there until Solomon’s death.

David fled to the Philistine territory.
Jeroboam fled to Egypt.

Solomon knew the history of David and Saul. He saw the semblance of a repeat in history in him and Jeroboam. The precise and actual grievances were secondary considerations compared with this recognizable pattern of history.

After the deaths of King Saul and King Solomon, both David and Jeroboam returned to the land of the Israelites and ruled.

Only after the death of Solomon, the chroniclers then more clearly spelled out the grievances in 1 Kings 12:4

"Your father [Solomon] put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you."

Now back in 1 Kings 11:27

Here is the account of how he rebelled against the king: Solomon had built the terraces and had filled in the gap in the wall of the city of David his father.

Both the Manassites and the Ephraimites lived relatively close to Jerusalem where the constructions took place. As a descendant of Joseph, it is conceivable that Jeroboam had made a similar request to King Solomon when he was in charge of the whole labor force of the tribes of Joseph who were his own flesh and blood and King Solomon saw that as an act of rebellion.

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As to the reason for Jeroboam's rebellion, I will base my answer on five main points.

1) Assault on Israel's cultural and religious identity by Solomon's foreign alliances.

1 Kings 11:1,4 (NKJV)

But King Solomon loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharaoh: women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites -- For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David.

These passages tell us about the growing influence of foreign cultures, both linguistic, religious and ethnic inside Israel at that time. These cultural dilution was sponsored by the palace and would have disrupted social harmony.

2) Heavy tax burdens that served the interests of foreigners:

a) Solomon would have had to increase the tax burden to feed and house his 700 foreign wives (princesses) and 300 concubines along with their children and retinue of attendants.

b) Peasant Israelites were toiling to finance the offering of huge amounts of grain, wine, oil and livestock to the multiple foreign gods that Solomon had introduced due to the nudging of his foreign women.

c) Naturally, there would have been competition between the wives and their children for a place in the Davidic dynasty. This kind of political intrigue would have been socially damaging since the competing forces were non-native. This would have increased the general level of dissent considerably.

3) The endless building projects embarked upon by Solomon:

a) The temple which took about seven years to complete

b) His own palace which took thirteen years to build 1-Ki 7:1

c) House of the forest of Lebanon 1-Ki 7:2

d) Hall of Pillars 1-Ki 7:6

e) Hall of the throne and the Hall of judgement 1-Ki 7:7

f) Palace for Pharaoh's daughter 1-Ki 7:8

g) Other houses, pools, gardens and orchards e.t.c which had to be arduously tended in an arid environment

Ecclesiastes 2:4-7 (NKJV) I made my works great, I built myself houses, and planted myself vineyards. I made myself gardens and orchards, and I planted all [kinds] of fruit trees in them. I made myself water pools from which to water the growing trees of the grove. I acquired male and female servants, and had servants born in my house. Yes, I had greater possessions of herds and flocks than all who were in Jerusalem before me.

These building projects required a lot of quarrying, artisanship and logging. And they continued almost endlessly throughout Solomon's reign due to his desire to find fulfillment and immortality in these endeavors.

4) Ancient arrogance of the Ephraimites along with the Ephraim vs Judah rivalry (Jos 7:14-17, Judg 8:1 & 12:1):

1 Kings 11:28 (NKJV)

The man Jeroboam was a mighty man of valor; and Solomon, seeing that the young man was industrious, made him the officer over all the labor force of the house of Joseph.

So we can see that Solomon had pooled a labour force from each of the tribes. But the tribes of Joseph had always had a superiority complex from the days of Joshua, Gideon and Jephtah. This prolonged subservience to Judah resurrected it.

Whenever there is cultural dilution within a society people tend to react by taking refuge in their specific identities e.g race, ethnicity and so on. I believe that at that time, many were taking refuge in their tribes and the largest and most illustrious tribes in Israel were the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh.

5) The conspiracy and support from the religious leaders in Israel:

Jewish history tells us that religious leaders have always been formidable power brokers in Israel. From prophets like Moses to Joshua. From Joshua to Samuel. From Samuel to Nathan and Gad. This community was responsible for the emergence and consolidation of David on the throne. Losing the support of this community was enough to cause a rebellion.

1 Kings:11.29-31 (NKJV)

Now it happened at that time, when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite met him on the way; and he had clothed himself with a new garment, and the two [were] alone in the field Now it happened at that time, when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite met him on the way; and he had clothed himself with a new garment, and the two were alone in the field Then Ahijah took hold of the new garment that was on him, and tore it into twelve pieces. And he said to Jeroboam, "Take for yourself ten pieces, for thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: 'Behold, I will tear the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon and will give ten tribes to you.

To understand this point, we have to use the witness of Rehoboam to provide insight into just how oppressive Solomon had become.

1 Kings 12:4,11 (NKJV)

"Your father made our yoke heavy; now therefore, lighten the burdensome service of your father, and his heavy yoke which he put on us, and we will serve you." 'And now, whereas my father put a heavy yoke on you, I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scourges!' "

The tribes of Israel under the leadership of Jeroboam had complained about the burdensome yokes of Solomon. Rehoboam the son of an Ammonitess doesn't deny their claims. He even admits that his father chastised them with whips.

So under such suffering, the early support of respected religious leaders like prophet Ahijah would have been enough to embolden Jeroboam to rebel.

All in all, the writer of this story tells us that "God raised enemies against Solomon". So the unseen hand of God is the final answer to this question.

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  • great post but not an answer :( i was asking about a specific biblical passage, it was not a general question about what caused the rebellion
    – Bach
    Dec 13 '17 at 21:57
  • The people were not in rebellion until Jeroboam came back as son in-law to a Pharaoh. He married Anu who was a member of the Egyptian royal family. When he returned, the tribal feud between Ephraim and Judah gave him his great opportunity.
    – user20490
    Dec 13 '17 at 23:41
  • Solomon contributed to this by not placing the Son of Pharaoh's daughter on the throne. Historians say that this was the reason why Pharaoh Shishak attacked Rehoboam six years after the rebellion. So my point is that you cannot tie it all to one verse. Jeroboam's rebellion cannot be explained by only one verse of scripture.
    – user20490
    Dec 13 '17 at 23:44
  • @Bach are you saying that I should restrict my answer to the one passage that you cited. I have to use other passages to expound towards an answer!! The heading of your question says "Why did Jeroboam rebel"? And I've used the events of those times to answer that specific question. No one rebels alone. Jeroboam's rebellion was also the rebellion of the people. In this case the Ephraimites who ruled over the 10 Northern tribes.
    – user20490
    Dec 13 '17 at 23:55
  • The "why" of Jeroboam's rebellion cannot be understood without first understanding why the people, Jeroboam's people were amenable to rebellion.
    – user20490
    Dec 13 '17 at 23:57

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