Made two calves of gold - He invented a political religion, instituted feasts in his own times different from those appointed by the Lord, gave the people certain objects of devotion, and pretended to think it would be both inconvenient and oppressive to them to have to go up to Jerusalem to worship. This was not the last time that religion was made a state engine to serve political purposes. It is strange that in pointing out his calves to the people, he should use the same words that Aaron used when he made the golden calf in the wilderness, when they must have heard what terrible judgments fell upon their forefathers for this idolatry.
The “calves of gold” were probably representations of the cherubic form, imitations of the two cherubim which guarded the ark of the covenant in the holy of holies. But being unauthorized copies, set up in places which God had not chosen, and without any divine sanction, the sacred writers call them “calves.” They were not mere human figures with wings, but had at any rate the head of a calf or ox. (Hence, some attribute this calf-worship entirely to Assyrian and Phoenician influence.) Jeroboam, in setting them up, was probably not so much influenced by the Apis-worship of Egypt, as:
(1) by a conviction that the Israelites could not be brought to attach themselves to any worship which did not present them with sensible objects to venerate;
(2) by the circumstance that he did not possess any of the old objects of reverence, which had been concentrated at Jerusalem; and
(3) by the fact that he could plead for his “calves” the authority of so great a name as Aaron (marginal reference).
Placed on the throne by the ten tribes of Israel who had rebelled against the house of David, Jeroboam, the former servant of Solomon, was in a position to bring about wise reforms in both civil and religious affairs. Under the rulership of Solomon he had shown aptitude and sound judgment; and the knowledge he had gained during years of faithful service fitted him to rule with discretion. But Jeroboam failed to make God his trust. PK 99.1
Jeroboam's greatest fear was that at some future time the hearts of his subjects might be won over by the ruler occupying the throne of David. He reasoned that if the ten tribes should be permitted to visit often the ancient seat of the Jewish monarchy, where the services of the temple were still conducted as in the years of Solomon's reign, many might feel inclined to renew their allegiance to the government centering at Jerusalem. Taking counsel with his advisers, Jeroboam determined by one bold stroke to lessen, so far as possible, the probability of a revolt from his rule. He would bring this about by creating within the borders of his newly formed kingdom two centers of worship, one at Bethel and the other at Dan. In these places the ten tribes should be invited to assemble, instead of at Jerusalem, to worship God. PK 99.2Read in context »
Against the marked oppression, the flagrant injustice, the unwonted luxury and extravagance, the shameless feasting and drunkenness, the gross licentiousness and debauchery, of their age, the prophets lifted their voices; but in vain were their protests, in vain their denunciation of sin. “Him that rebuketh in the gate,” declared Amos, “they hate, ... and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly.” “They afflict the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate from their right.” Amos 5:10, 12. PK 282.1
Such were some of the results that had followed the setting up of two calves of gold by Jeroboam. The first departure from established forms of worship had led to the introduction of grosser forms of idolatry, until finally nearly all the inhabitants of the land had given themselves over to the alluring practices of nature worship. Forgetting their Maker, Israel “deeply corrupted themselves.” Hosea 9:9. PK 282.2
The prophets continued to protest against these evils and to plead for rightdoing. “Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy,” Hosea urged; “break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till He come and rain righteousness upon you.” “Turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.” “O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity: ... say unto Him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously.” Hosea 10:12; 12:6; Hosea 14:1, 2. PK 282.3Read in context »
In the reformation that followed, the king turned his attention to the destruction of every vestige of idolatry that remained. So long had the inhabitants of the land followed the customs of the surrounding nations in bowing down to images of wood and stone, that it seemed almost beyond the power of man to remove every trace of these evils. But Josiah persevered in his effort to cleanse the land. Sternly he met idolatry by slaying “all the priests of the high places;” “moreover the workers with familiar spirits, and the wizards, and the images, and the idols, and all the abominations that were spied in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, did Josiah put away, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the Lord.” Verses 20, 24. PK 401.1
In the days of the rending of the kingdom, centuries before, when Jeroboam the son of Nebat, in bold defiance of the God whom Israel had served, was endeavoring to turn the hearts of the people away from the services of the temple in Jerusalem to new forms of worship, he had set up an unconsecrated altar at Bethel. During the dedication of this altar, where many in years to come were to be seduced into idolatrous practices, there had suddenly appeared a man of God from Judea, with words of condemnation for the sacrilegious proceedings. He had “cried against the altar,” declaring: PK 401.2
“O altar, altar, thus saith the Lord; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men's bones shall be burnt upon thee.” 1 Kings 13:2. This announcement had been accompanied by a sign that the word spoken was of the Lord. PK 402.1Read in context »
4-11. Luxury, Wine, Idolatrous Women, Defeat Solomon—Solomon, under all his honors, walked wisely and firmly in the counsels of God for a considerable time; but he was overcome at length by temptations that came through his prosperity. He had lived luxuriously from his youth. His appetite had been gratified with the most delicate and expensive dainties. The effects of this luxurious living, and the free use of wine, finally clouded his intellect, and caused him to depart from God. He entered into rash and sinful marriage relations with idolatrous women (The Health Reformer, April 1878). 2BC 1033.1
9-12 (ch. 14:21). Solomon's Influence on His Children—It was this prophecy of impending ruin that had awakened the apostate king as from a dream, and had led him to repent, and to seek to stay, so far as possible, the terrible tide of evil that during the later years of his reign had been rising high and still higher. But at the time of his repentance, only a few years of life remained to him, and he could not hope to avert the consequences of long years of wrong-doing. His course of evil had set in operation influences that afterward he could never fully control. 2BC 1033.2
Especially was this the case in the training of the children born to him through marriage with idolatrous women. Rehoboam, the son whom Solomon chose to be his successor, had received from his mother, an Ammonitess, a stamp of character that led him to look upon sin as desirable. At times he endeavored to serve God, and was granted a measure of prosperity; but he was not steadfast, and at last he yielded to the influences for evil that had surrounded him from infancy (The Review and Herald, July 3, 1913). 2BC 1033.3Read in context »