Ahijah the Shilonite

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AHIJAH THE SHILONITE (Heb. אֲחִיָּה הַשִּׁלֹנִי), Israelite prophet during the latter part of Solomon's reign and during the concurrent reigns of *Rehoboam and *Jeroboam. Jeroboam son of Nebat of Zeredah (which, according to the Septuagint, i Kings 12:24, was near Shiloh), enjoyed the support of Ahijah, whose main antagonism against Solomon was due to the tolerance shown by the king to foreign cults. At a secret meeting with Jeroboam outside Jerusalem he tore Jeroboam's new garment (or his own – the text is ambiguous) into 12 pieces as a symbol of the 12 tribes and gave him ten. The kingdom of Israel would be divided; only one other tribe (Benjamin), beside Judah, would remain loyal to the House of David (ibid. 11:29–39). Not improbably, Ahijah expected Jeroboam to restore the ancient central sanctuary of his native Shiloh. When Jeroboam, instead, set up golden calves in sanctuaries at Beth-El and Dan, the estrangement between him and Ahijah became inevitable. When Jeroboam's son Abijah fell ill, the king who no longer dared to face the old seer, by now almost blind, sent his wife in disguise to inquire about the child's fate. He not only foretold her son's death but predicted a dire end for the House of Jeroboam (ibid. 14:1–18).

In ii Chronicles 9:29 Ahijah, in accordance with the Chronicler's practice, is cited, along with the other two prophets who were active in the reign of Solomon, as an author of the books of Kings' account of Solomon's reign.

In rabbinic tradition, Ahijah was a Levite at Shiloh. He was the sixth of seven men whose lifetimes following one another encompass all time (bb 121b) and is given a life span of more than 500 years. (On this basis Maimonides, in the introduction to his Code, makes him an important link in the early tradition of the Oral Law.) Ahijah was reputed to be a great master of the secret lore (Kabbalah), and ḥasidic legend makes him a teacher of *Israel Ba'al Shem Tov. He is said to have died a martyr's death at the hands of Abijah, son of Rehoboam and king of Judah.


Bright, Hist, 208 ff.; Kaufmann, Religion, 270 ff.; J. Morgenstern, Amos Studies, 1 (1941), 202 ff.; E. Auerbach, Wueste und gelobtes Land, 2 (1936), index; Yeivin, in: Sefer Dinaburg (1949), 30 ff.; Caquot, in: Semitica, 11 (1961), 17–27 (Fr.); Ginzberg, Legends, 4 (1913), 180.