First Kings 11:31 and 12:20-21: Josephus and the Constitution of the Divided Monarchy -- By: Shawn C. Madden

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 24:1 (Fall 2006)
Article: First Kings 11:31 and 12:20-21: Josephus and the Constitution of the Divided Monarchy
Author: Shawn C. Madden

First Kings 11:31 and 12:20-21:
Josephus and the Constitution of the Divided Monarchy

Shawn C. Madden

Associate Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew
Director of Library Services
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Wake Forest, North Carolina 27587

It is not legitimate to assume, as has often been done, that the editors were unable to see the contradictions, as we moderns claim to do, that the editors were, in effect, less sentient than we. This is not just arrogant; on the historical record, it is absurd.

Baruch Halpern, The First Historians:
the Hebrew Bible and History, xxiv-xxv.


The judgment against Solomon for his “go[ing] after other gods” and the subsequent tearing of the united kingdom from the rulership of Rehoboam as found in 1 Kings 11:11-13 and 31-32 seem clear enough, but the centuries reveal a confusion of understandings of both the meaning and math of this text in light of what is found in 1 Kings 12:20-21. The crux of the confusion centers around the understanding of what is represented by the twelve pieces of garment into which Ahijah tears the cloak. This confusion has a long history, dating back to when the Hebrew text was translated into Greek. Another notable whose treatment of the event differs from the Hebrew text that is presently found in the Masoretic Text is Josephus and his account of this event found in Antiquities of the Jews 8.207-8, 221-22. This paper will examine Josephus’s understanding of what constitutes the tribes of Israel in an effort to understand the Hebrew text and Josephus’s treatment of it while examining solutions that have suggested themselves to commentators both ancient and recent. In the New American Standard, one finds the account in question:

1Ki. 11:11 So the LORD said to Solomon, “Because you have done this, and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I commanded you, I will surely tear

the kingdom from you, and I will give it to your servant.” 12Nevertheless I will not do it in your days for the sake of your father David, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. 13However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen....

1Ki. 11:29 It came about at that time, when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem,...

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