Rehoboam went to Shechem because that is where the whole of Israel had gone to make him king. Jeroboam, son of Nebat, was still in Egypt when he heard about this. (He had run away to Egypt to escape from King Solomon and was living there.) The Israelite leaders sent for him. Jeroboam and the whole assembly of Israelites went to talk with Rehoboam. Your father placed a heavy burden on us,” they told him. “But now if you lighten the load when we served your father and the heavy demands he put on us, we will serve you.”
Rehoboam answered, “Go away and come back in three days time.” So the people left.
King Rehoboam asked for advice from the elders who had served his father Solomon when he was alive. “How do you advise me to reply to these people about this?” he asked.
They replied, “If you are a servant to these people today, if you serve them and answer them, by speaking kindly to them, they will always serve you.”
But Rehoboam dismissed the advice of the elders. He instead asked advice from the young men who he had grown up with, and who were close to him. He asked them, “What response do you advise that we send back to these people who have told me, ‘Lighten the burden your father put on us’?”
10 The young men who he had grown up with told him, “This is what you have to tell these people who said to you, ‘Your father made our burden heavy, but you should make it lighter.’ This is what you should answer them: ‘My little finger is thicker than my father's waist! 11 My father placed a heavy burden on you, and I will make it even heavier. My father punished you with whips; I will punish you with scorpions.’ ”
12 Three days later, Jeroboam and all the people returned to Rehoboam, because the king had told them, “Come back in three days time.”
13 The king answered the people sharply. Dismissing the advice of the elders, 14 he replied using the advice of the young men. He said, “My father placed a heavy burden on you, and I will make it even heavier. My father punished you with whips; I will punish you with scorpions.”
15 The king did not listen to what the people said, for this change in circumstances was from the Lord, to fulfill what the Lord had told Jeroboam son of Nebat through Ahijah the Shilonite.
16 When all the Israelites saw that the king wasn't listening to them, they told the king: “What share do we have in David, and what part do we have in the son of Jesse? Go home, Israel! You're on your own, house of David!”
So all the Israelites went home. 17 However, Rehoboam still ruled over the Israelites who lived in Judah.
18 Then King Rehoboam sent out Hadoram, who was in charge of forced labor,* but the Israelites stoned him to death. King Rehoboam quickly jumped into his chariot and raced back to Jerusalem.
19 As a result, Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day.
20 When all the Israelites heard that Jeroboam had returned, they sent for him, summoning him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel. Only the tribe of Judah was left to the house of David.
21 When Rehoboam arrived in Jerusalem, he gathered the men from the households of Judah and Benjamin— 180,000 chosen warriorsto go and fight against Israel to bring the kingdom back to Rehoboam, son of Solomon. 22 But a message from the Lord came to Shemaiah the man of God that said, 23 Tell Rehoboam, son of Solomon, king of Judah, to Judah and Benjamin, and to the rest of the people: 24 This is what the Lord says. Don't fight against your Israelite relatives. Every one of you, go home! For it was me that made this happen.’ ” So they obeyed what the Lord told them and went home, as the Lord had said.
25 Jeroboam strengthened the town of Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim and lived there. From there he went and built Penuel.
26 Jeroboam said to himself, “The kingdom could easily return to the house of David. 27 When people from here go to offer sacrifices at the Lord's Temple in Jerusalem, they will transfer their loyalty back to Rehoboam, king of Judah. Then they will kill me and go back to King Rehoboam.”
28 So after taking advice, the king had two golden calves made, and he told the people, “Don't bother going to Jerusalem any more. Look, Israel, here are your gods who led you out of the land of Egypt.” 29 He placed one in Bethel, and the other in Dan. 30 This action brought about sin, because the people went as far north as Dan to worship the idol there.
31 In addition Jeroboam had shrines built on high places and appointed as priests all kinds of people who were not Levites. 32 Jeroboam initiated a festival on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, just like the festival held in Judah, and he offered sacrifices on the altar. He made this offering in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves he had made, and appointed priests in Bethel for the high places he had built. 33 So on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, a month he had chosen himself, Jeroboam offered sacrifices on the altar he had set up in Bethel. In this way he instituted a festival for the Israelites, offering sacrifices on the altar and burning incense.
* 12:18 He was sent out to put down the rebellion. 12:25 “Strengthened”: literally, “built,” but Shechem existed long before this (see for example Genesis 12:6).