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When Jeroboam leaves Jerusalem he met the prophet Ahijah:

And at that time, when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him on the road. Now Ahijah had dressed himself in a new garment, and the two of them were alone in the open country. Then Ahijah laid 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 am about to tear the kingdom from the hand of Solomon and will give you ten tribes (but he shall have one tribe, 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)
(1 Kings 11:29-32 ESV)

Ahijah tears "his" robe into 12 pieces giving 10 to Jeroboam apparently as a symbolic action showing how the LORD will make Jeroboam king over 10 of the tribes of Israel. He also says one tribe will remain under the rule of the House David.

What did he do with the 12th piece and how should the symbolic act of tearing the robe into 12 pieces but only specifying the rule for 11 pieces be interpreted?

  • It's not entirely clear just whose robe it was, either Ahijah's or Jeroboam's; thus the question appears to take for granted that it was Ahijah's. Personally I would conjecture that it was Jeroboam's, but that's my opinion. – user21676 Jun 1 '18 at 19:50
  • @user40520 Good point. I assumed it was Ahijah's robe but you may be correct. Modified the question to include the issue of whose robe was torn. – Revelation Lad Jun 1 '18 at 20:05
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Solomon retained Judah (Jerusalem is the capital of Judah) and was given the one tribe of Benjamin; Rehoboam received the other 10 tribes.

[[ ]] are mine because different names make more sense - to me, anyway.

http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d080801.htm

Benjamin a Light to Judah

What tribe was David or Judah to have? That is going to be Benjamin. One tribe would go to Judah

“Howbeit I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand [out of Rehoboam’s hand][[Solomon's hand]]: but I will make him prince all the days of his life for David my servant’s sake, whom I chose, because he [David] kept my commandments and my statutes: But I will take the kingdom out of his [[David's]] son’s [[Solomon's]] hand, and will give it unto you, even ten tribes. And unto his [[David's]] son [[Solomon]] will I give one tribe, that David my servant may have a light alway before me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen me to put my name there.” 1 Kings 11:34–36

The one tribe to be given to Judah was Benjamin. So God was in this. God was going to give Benjamin to the tribe of Judah.

“And I will take you [Jeroboam], and you shall reign according to all that your soul desires, and shall be king over Israel. And it shall be, if you will hearken unto all that I command you, and will walk in my ways [which Jeroboam did not], and do that is right in my sight, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did; that I will be with you, and build you a sure house, as I built for David, and will give Israel unto you. And I will for this afflict the seed of David, but not for ever [not all the days]. Solomon sought therefore to kill Jeroboam [Solomon heard about this]. And Jeroboam arose, and fled into Egypt, unto Shishak king of Egypt, and was in Egypt until the death of Solomon.” 1 Kings 11:37–40

The prophecy said that Jeroboam was to rule 10 of the tribes. The one tribe that was to go with David was the tribe of Benjamin. Notice that back in verse 36, the tribe of Benjamin was to be “a light always before me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen to put my name there.” Does this mean that the tribe of Benjamin was to be the light to the House of David? That the tribe of Benjamin had some good characteristics about it that would help David continually, help the Jews, and be a light for them and to them? That is a possibility.

In the time of Jehoshaphat years later we read about this light still being in Jerusalem. Perhaps this light was the tribe of Benjamin. It seems to read that way.

“And in the fifth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel, Jehoshaphat being then king of Judah, … he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as did the house of Ahab: … and he did evil in the sight of YHWH. Yet YHWH would not destroy Judah for David his servant’s sake, as he promised him to give him alway a light, and to his children.” 2 Kings 8:16–19

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    I do not find 1 Kings 11:36 says "a light always before me" will be the tribe of Benjamin. In fact the reference you provide askelm.com/doctrine/d080801.htm about Benjamin would argue against Benjamin being a light, if light is taken as a positive attribute. Can you provide some support for the position Benjamin was the tribe? – Revelation Lad Jun 4 '18 at 16:39
  • Actually, Solomon ruled over the whole 12 tribes all his life. It was during his son Rehoboam's rule that the kingdom was split. Jeroboam ruled over the majority of the tribes, and Rehoboam ruled "Judah" (which also included Benjamin and at some stage at least some from Ephraim and Manasseh). – Lawrence Jun 7 '18 at 16:30
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Given that the events of 1 Kings 12:23-24 occurred so closely to those of chapter eleven, that is to the admission of the inclusion of Benjamin with Judah over the other tribes, it seems most likely that the ten parts of ch.11 subtracted both of these, leaving the aforementioned 'one' as referencing principally the tribe of Judah, Benjamin being grouped then together with him in that rendering (though unmentioned explicitly). This is given the fact that Benjamin had for his inheritance the city of Jerusalem (Josh. 18:28).

Other possible schemes include Joseph in the ten parts. This can be done either by conflating Manasseh and Ephraim of the twelve parts to Joseph, or by including Joseph in the twelve along with Levi such as to retain Joseph in the ten, seem to necessarily include Benjamin to the ten (also by alternatively putting Manasseh and Ephraim in the ten and eliding Simeon from the ten - Josh. 19:1), which as I said above is not necessarily so evident in scripture (Psalms 68:27, Ezra 10:9, etc). It is suggested then that such should likewise be the interpretation of 2 Samuel 19:43.

  • Based on 1 Kings 12 and Joshua 18, I think you have made a good case for Benjamin. Additionally I would note Jeroboam put a idol in Bethel to prevent people from going to Jerusalem. So there is a geographical "grouping" which would include Benjamin. Two challenges to this approach: 1.The location of Simeon wholly within Judah's boundaries 2. The presence of the Levites in Judah and Jerusalem. Do you have any insight on Simeon or Levi? – Revelation Lad Jun 4 '18 at 16:53
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The classical jewish commentators all point that during the time after living in Cnaan, Jehuda tribe got bigger than Benyamin and because they shared the same country side - it merged with it. We can find a biblical clue about Benyamin merge to Jehuda on Judges 19. Another approach saying that as written on Joshua chapter 16, and on Judges chapter 7 1-3 it was Shimon and Jehuda that merged even before occupation and living in Cnaan.

In my point of view we should remember that Kings books written on Jehuda kingdom so it can be explain how Jehuda is in focus and Ahija "original" words changed. Since this chapter probably written couple of hundrad years after things truely happened it seems pointless to say two tribes, after we told that the prophet split his dress to twelve.

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