Why Rehoboam Was Considered A Harsh Leader, According To The Bible

King Solomon is among the most prominent figures featured in the Bible. Christianity reports that he was the last king of the unified Israel, succeeding his father, King David. He is perhaps best known for his great wealth and insight, which was afforded to him by God after he beseeched the deity for aid on taking the throne. As stated in 1 Kings 10:23, Solomon was "greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the Earth."

Though Solomon was (initially) beloved by God and led his people through a 40-year period of peace and prosperity, he succumbed to sin. Learn Religions states that the lustful king had no less than 300 concubines and 700 wives, and was led to forsake God in favor of other deities.

His son, King Rehoboam, took the throne at the age of 41, per Compelling Truth. Rehoboam, too, had his struggles, being regarded by the Bible as a heavy-handed ruler who caused hardship to his people. Compelling Truth states that Rehoboam, too, received counsel and sought help on becoming a leader. The issue in this king's case was that he seemed to have followed the wrong advice. Per 1 Kings 12:4, the new king was approached by representatives of his people, who asked him to be kinder than Solomon had been. "Lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke on us," they begged.

The people were treated harshly and it backfired

According to Northern Seminary's professor of Old Testament, Dr. Claude Mariottini, Solomon had employed forced labor to create many of the stunning building projects he is known for, such as God's magnificent temple in Jerusalem.

Compelling Truth reports that Rehoboam considered the people's words, and took advice from two groups: his friends and advisors who had been loyal to his father. The latter group suggested that he ingratiate himself with the people early. Rehoboam's peers, meanwhile, were eager for him to establish himself as a strong, unyielding ruler and ensure loyalty that way. Per Bible Hub, Rehoboam reportedly took the harsher course, responding, "Whereas my father made your yoke heavy, I will add to your yoke. Whereas my father scourged you with whips, I will scourge you with scorpions."

In short order, Rehoboam faced rebellion from the people of Israel. According to Bible Hub, 2 Chronicles 10:18 relates that Adoniram, who had led forced labor programs, was stoned to death by the people. Rehoboam himself escaped to Jerusalem. And so the kingdom was divided.