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General chronology
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Egyptian military campaigns affecting Israel

Rehoboam's fortified towns

2 Chronicles 11.5-10 records that Rehoboam fortified a number of towns in the parts of Judah towards the Philistine and Egyptian borders. The cities are identified as Bethlehem, Etam, Tekoa, Bethzur, Hebron, Ziph, Adoraim, Lachish, Moreshah, (Moresheth)-Gath, Adullam, Socoh, Azekah, Zerah and Aijalon. Solomon had built fortified cities along what had become the northern border with Israel - Gezer, Lower Beth-horon and Baalath (1 Kings 9.17,18) - and it must be assumed that Rehoboam had inherited these as well. The area concerned is shown on the location map on the pages dealing with teh invasions of Shoshenk I or Rameses II.

2 Chronicles 12 and 1 Kings 14 both record the attack of Pharaoh Shishak in Rehoboam's year 5. It is not clear whether the town fortifications were an attempt to block Egyptian or Philistine invasions (clearly unsuccessful in the case of Egypt), or were an after-the-event response to Shishak to seek to prevent a recurrence. Rehoboam's reign is recorded as 17 years, and it is not clear that the fortifications could all have been finished before his fifth year. It is perhaps more likely that the building work was in progress through much of his reign.

This rest of this page investigates the occurrence of these town names in other parts of the Old Testament. It will be seen that the periods in which they flourished differs considerably. Rearranging the names so that those predominantly mentioned later are at the top of the table, and those that thrived earlier are near the bottom, we find:

Name Pentateuch Joshua Judges Samuel, Kings, Chronicles up to Rehoboam Kings, Chronicles after Rehoboam, Prophets Ezra/Nehemiah
Beth Zur            

The towns are arranged in two roughly parallel lines - one along the ridge running south and slightly west from Bethlehem, and the other on the last prominent ridge before the coastal plain area. Many of the towns are named in the apportionment of the land in Joshua, principally (naturally enough) in the lists pertaining to Judah:

Another possibility for Etam is suggested by the link in 1 Chronicles 4 describing the territory of the tribe of Simeon. In this list we find 'Etam, Ain, Rimmon, Token, Ashan'. In the listing for Simeon in Joshua 19 we find 'Ain, Rimmon, Ether and Ashan'. In the Judah listing we find Ain and Rimmon paired in the Negev towns in Josh. 15:32, and Ether and Ashan paired in the western foothills towns in 15:42. So is Etam in 1 Chr. 4 a miscopying of Ether in the Joshua list, or are the two alternate names for the same location? The location of Etam in the 2 Chr. 11 list suggests the more easterly location, although the names are not consistently arranged in a clear geographical way.

In summary, just over half the towns fortified by Rehoboam are reported in the Old Testament both before and after his building work. Most of the rest are listed in earlier parts but not later ones, one only appears here, and for one this is the earliest mention.

General chronology