Q&A: Jeroboam's Residence

Jeroboam's Residence

Question

Where was Jeroboam's residence in Shechem or at Tirzah? - 1 Kings 12:25 and 1 Kings 14:12-17

Answer

1 Kings 12:25 Then Jeroboam fortified Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim and lived there. From there he went out and built up Peniel.

1 Kings 14:12-17 As for you, go back home. When you set foot in your city, the boy will die. All Israel will mourn for him and bury him. He is the only one belonging to Jeroboam who will be buried, because he is the only one in the house of Jeroboam in whom the LORD, the God of Israel, has found anything good. The LORD will raise up for himself a king over Israel who will cut off the family of Jeroboam. Even now this is beginning to happen. And the LORD will strike Israel, so that it will be like a reed swaying in the water. He will uproot Israel from this good land that he gave to their ancestors and scatter them beyond the Euphrates River, because they aroused the LORD's anger by making Asherah poles. And he will give Israel up because of the sins Jeroboam has committed and has caused Israel to commit. Then Jeroboam's wife got up and left and went to Tirzah. As soon as she stepped over the threshold of the house, the boy died.

Jeroboam moved several times. House states:

Jeroboams first concern is to solidify his position in Shechem, so he fortifies that city, then does likewise in Peniel. Shechem was not only an important ancestral location (Gen 12:6), but it also guarded the Northern Kingdoms west-east pass and commanded the road through the hills of Manasseh to Bethshan. Even when the capital was moved, first to Tirzah and finally to Samaria [1 Kings 16:24], the locations were not far from this strategic point. Keil says that Peniel was on the caravan road, which led through Gilead to Damascus, so Jeroboam probably fortifies the city to defend his sovereignty over Gilead against hostile attacks from the northeast and east. Such activity indicates that Jeroboam understands the precarious nature of his new kingdom and moves to protect it through reasonable and appropriate measures.

DeVries states:

Respecting Shechem, see on 12:1. It lay in the territory of the tribe of Manasseh, but the mountain range where it was located was known as Mount Ephraim. Having been made king there, Jeroboam did some rebuilding of the city in order to make it his royal residence. For some unstated reason (N. Allan, VT 24 [1974] 353-57, argues that David-loyal Levites in this Levitical city intrigued against him), he changed his mind and rebuilt Penuel, a sacred city on the Jabbok, across the Jordan (cf. Gen 32:31 [Eng. 30]), from which he eventually moved in order to take up residence at Tirzah (cf. 14:17).

Reference

House, P.R. The New American Commentary, Vol. 8, 1, 2 Kings. In Logos Library System electronic ed. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001.

DeVries, S.J. Word Biblical Commentary: 1 Kings, Second Edition). Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004. (p 286).

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).