1 Kings 1
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Now king David was old and stricken in years; and they covered him with clothes, but he gat no heat.


commonly called,


Ch. 1 Kings 1:1-4. David’s Feeble Age (Not in Chronicles)

1. Now] The Hebrew has only the conjunction usually rendered And. This sentence is not to be regarded as the commencement of a new history, but a continuation of what has been told in 2 Samuel. In Hebrew MSS. 1 and 2 Kings form but one book, as do also 1 and 2 Samuel , , 1 and 2 Chronicles. The division was first made in the LXX. which Jerome followed, and it was introduced in the printed Hebrew Bibles by Daniel Bomberg. The LXX. however treats these books as so closely connected with Samuel that the four books are all named alike (βασιλείων α. β. γ. δ.). They are so catalogued also in Origen’s list of the Canonical Books (Euseb. H. E. vi. 25), and in Jerome’s Prologus Galeatus. But we shall have occasion to point out some matters (e.g. the worship on the high places) which were viewed in a different light by the compiler of these later books from that in which they are regarded in the books of Samuel.

The two books fall naturally into three sections. (1) The reign of Solomon, 1 Kings 1-11. (2) The history of two kingdoms after their separation, till the overthrow of the northern kingdom, 1 Kings 12 - 2 Kings 17. (3) The history of the kingdom of Judah from the Assyrian to the Babylonish Captivity, 2 Kings 18-25.

king David was old] The circumstances recorded in this passage must have happened when the feeble king had taken to his bed. By comparing 2 Samuel 5:4-5, with 1 Kings 2:11, we arrive very nearly at the age given by Josephus (Ant. vii. 15. 2) who says David was seventy years old when he died.

stricken in years] Rendered literally on the margin ‘entered into days.’

they covered him with clothes] i.e. With bed-clothes; just as in 1 Samuel 19:13 where A.V. has ‘with a cloth.’ The word is however most frequently used of garments for wear.

Wherefore his servants said unto him, Let there be sought for my lord the king a young virgin: and let her stand before the king, and let her cherish him, and let her lie in thy bosom, that my lord the king may get heat.
2. his servants] The word, though primarily applied to those who were occupied in servile work, had come by this time to be used regularly of those who were about a royal person, and in such a position as to venture on giving him counsel. Josephus (Ant. vii. 15.3) says they were the king’s physicians. (Cf. Genesis 1:2.)

Let there be sought] Literally ‘Let them seek.’ This kind of variation is frequent in the A.V. for the sake of the English; as also the personal form of a sentence, put where the Hebrew verb is impersonal. Thus the last clause in 1 Kings 1:1 is literally ‘and it grew not warm to him.’ As such literal renderings are very often noticed on the margin, no special mention will hereafter be made of them.

a young virgin] This device, whereby it was thought to communicate vital heat from a young frame to an old one, was adopted by the advice of physicians long after David’s time. See Bacon, Hist. Vitœ et Mortis, Medicamina ad longævitatem 1 Kings 9:25.

and let her stand before the king] This phrase is used of those who serve or minister to another. Thus Deuteronomy 1:38, Joshua the minister of Moses is said to ‘stand before him.’ It seems clear from the language of Solomon (1 Kings 2:22) that Abishag was to be counted as one of the wives of David. Polygamy was not at this time confined to kings like David and Solomon, but was practised by other Israelites, as is shewn by the history of Elkanah (1 Samuel 1:2).

So they sought for a fair damsel throughout all the coasts of Israel, and found Abishag a Shunammite, and brought her to the king.
3. a fair damsel] Such as might be fitted to be one of the royal wives. A similar direction is given when Vashti has been deposed, and a new queen is to be sought for Ahasuerus (Esther 2:2).

all the coasts] In the English of the Bible this word has no necessary reference to sea-board land, as it has in our modern use, but often signifies, as here, borders, territories.

Abishag a Shunammite] The Hebrew has ‘the Shunammite’, as though she either was already, or from subsequent events became, well known. She was a native of Shunem, a city belonging to the tribe of Issachar and lying north of Jezreel and south of Mt Gilboa (see Joshua 19:18; 1 Samuel 28:4). The Syriac and Arabic read Sulamite (cf. Song of Solomon 6:13).

And the damsel was very fair, and cherished the king, and ministered to him: but the king knew her not.
4. cherished the king] Being always at hand to perform, as his nurse, such duties as the weak condition of king David needed.

knew her not] These words seem added to explain how it came to pass that Adonijah afterwards could ask her for his wife. (1 Kings 2:17.)

Then Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, I will be king: and he prepared him chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him.
5–10. Adonijah attempts to make himself king (Not in Chronicles)

5. Adonijah, the son of Haggith] He seems now to have been the eldest of David’s living sons. See the list of them 2 Samuel 3:2-5. Amnon and Absalom we know were dead, and of the second son, Chileab (called Daniel 1 Chronicles 3:1), we have no notice in Scripture, so that he seems to have died young. Adonijah stands fourth in the list; of his mother’s parentage or connexion no mention is made.

chariots and horsemen &c.] Compare the similar conduct of Absalom (2 Samuel 15:1) at the time of his conspiracy against his father. The words refer not to the preparation of an armament for war, but to a kingly retinue which should attend him wherever he went. The runners were a body-guard, and the word is applied (1 Kings 14:27) to those guards who kept the door of the king’s house. See note there. By such a step Adonijah let his intention be known and found out who were likely to be on his side.

And his father had not displeased him at any time in saying, Why hast thou done so? and he also was a very goodly man; and his mother bare him after Absalom.
6. had not displeased him at any time] Had never administered a rebuke whatever wrong act he might have done. We may almost judge that Absalom was in like manner a spoilt child, brought under no correction.

a very goodly man] A fine and commanding figure was no small recommendation for an aspirant to a throne. Compare the account of Saul’s personal appearance (1 Samuel 9:2).

and his mother bare him after Absalom] The Hebrew has ‘and she bare him &c.,’ the italics his mother being added in A.V. to mark that the verb in the original is feminine. The same device is adopted in Numbers 26:59. But the English of the A.V. in the present passage might be taken to mean that Absalom and Adonijah were both sons of Haggith, whereas Absalom’s mother (2 Samuel 3:3) was Maacah, daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur. It is better to render and he was born, thus avoiding any ambiguity.

And he conferred with Joab the son of Zeruiah, and with Abiathar the priest: and they following Adonijah helped him.
7. Joab the son of Zeruiah] Zeruiah was David’s sister, and Joab the eldest of her three sons, and a man of much authority and influence during David’s reign. He became captain of the host (as we should say, commander in chief) after the conquest of Jebus (1 Chronicles 11:6), and served David faithfully in the main until this time. But he held David’s secret in the matter of Uriah, and accordingly defied him, when it suited his purpose. His greatest offence against the king was the slaughter of Absalom, whom he killed in defiance of David’s order. (2 Samuel 18:14.)

Abiathar the priest] This was the son of that Ahimelech who, with all his family except Abiathar, was put to death by Saul, when Doeg the Edomite informed him that the shewbread from the tabernacle at Nob had been given to David (1 Samuel 21, 22.). Abiathar then escaped to David and had remained with him through all his troubles until this time, when, it may be through jealousy of Zadok, he sided with Adonijah against Solomon.

they following Adonijah helped him] Lit. ‘They helped after Adonijah.’ Joab had his own thoughts about the orders which David might leave at his death, and Abiathar his jealousy, and both no doubt felt that by their conduct, if it were successful, they were making Adonijah for evermore their debtor.

But Zadok the priest, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and Nathan the prophet, and Shimei, and Rei, and the mighty men which belonged to David, were not with Adonijah.
8. But Zadok the priest] He was the son of Ahitub, and descended from Eleazar, the son of Aaron. He joined David after the death of Saul, and there were thus two priests, perhaps one being highpriest and the other second priest, through the whole of David’s reign. Zadok’s duties appear (1 Chronicles 16:39) to have been at the Tabernacle in Gibeon, and Abiathar had charge of the ark in Jerusalem. But in consequence of the events described in this chapter Abiathar was thrust out of his office and banished to Anathoth, and Zadok became the sole highpriest.

Benaiah the son of Jehoiada] This man, though of the tribe of Levi, became captain of David’s body-guard of Cherethites and Pelethites (see below on 1 Kings 1:38), and was made, when Joab was dead, commander in chief of Solomon’s army.

Nathan the prophet] He was prominent in David’s reign, giving the king advice concerning the building of the Temple, bringing God’s rebuke after David’s adultery and the message of forgiveness when he had repented. He appears also in connexion with the birth of Solomon and now as the adviser and helper of Bath-sheba. After Solomon was proclaimed king we hear no more of Nathan.

and Shimei] There is a person so called mentioned afterwards as one of the twelve officers who provided victuals for king Solomon and his household. But whether that be the Shimei here mentioned there is no means of deciding. It was conjectured by Ewald that it was another way of writing the name of Shimeah, David’s brother.

and Rei] Rei is not mentioned elsewhere, and there is nothing to guide us to any opinion concerning his identity. Several conjectures have been made, but none that deserves much attention.

the mighty men which belonged to David] Of these champions a list is given 2 Samuel 23:8-39, with which may be compared 1 Chronicles 11:10-47.

And Adonijah slew sheep and oxen and fat cattle by the stone of Zoheleth, which is by Enrogel, and called all his brethren the king's sons, and all the men of Judah the king's servants:
9. Adonijah slew &c.] The verb is that which is constantly used for sacrificing. And here there was no doubt intended to be a certain solemnity connected with the feast held in honour of Adonijah’s proclamation. Beside its use in this chapter, where it is rendered ‘to slay’ in 1 Kings 1:19; 1 Kings 1:25, the verb is only so translated in 1 Kings 19:21 of Elisha’s slaughter of his oxen, and 2 Kings 23:20 of Josiah’s slaughter of the priests of the high places, both which acts partook of the nature of a solemn sacrifice.

by the stone of Zoheleth, which is by En-rogel] The name En-rogel signifies the ‘fountain of the fuller,’ a name probably given to it from the use to which the water was applied. They washed by stamping on the clothes with the foot (Heb. regel). From the other places where it is mentioned (Joshua 15:7; Joshua 18:16; 2 Samuel 17:17) it is clear that En-rogel lay on the south-east of Jerusalem, and formed one of the landmarks between the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. Attempts have been made to identify it with the ‘fountain of Job (or Joab),’ which is situate at the junction of the valleys of Kedron and Hinnom; while others are in favour of the ‘fountain of the Virgin,’ as it is now called, from whence comes the water to the pool of Siloam. It is in favour of the latter, that women still resort to it as a place for washing clothes. Of the ‘stone of Zoheleth’ we have no notice but in this passage.

But Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah, and the mighty men, and Solomon his brother, he called not.
10. Solomon his brother] Doubtless Adonijah was well acquainted with David’s intention that Solomon should be his successor. But in those early times in most countries but especially in the East the right of hereditary succession was not thought of, the reigning monarch selecting for his successor that member of his family who was most in favour or who seemed most fit to rule. Moreover, in this case, Solomon was not the son of the first wife.

called] i.e. invited to be present at the feast which he was about to make.

Wherefore Nathan spake unto Bathsheba the mother of Solomon, saying, Hast thou not heard that Adonijah the son of Haggith doth reign, and David our lord knoweth it not?
11–14. Nathan’s counsel to Bath-sheba (Not in Chronicles)

11. Bath-sheba] She who had before been the wife of Uriah the Hittite. Nathan’s zeal for Solomon’s cause may be well understood, because it was by his message (2 Samuel 12:25) that Solomon was specially called the ‘beloved of the Lord.’

doth reign] As though the work were already completed and Adonijah already assured of the throne.

Now therefore come, let me, I pray thee, give thee counsel, that thou mayest save thine own life, and the life of thy son Solomon.
12. save thine own life, and the life of thy son Solomon] Because it has ever been the policy of an Oriental usurper, as soon as ever he had power enough, to put out of the way those who were likely to oppose him, and so make his throne more secure.

Go and get thee in unto king David, and say unto him, Didst not thou, my lord, O king, swear unto thine handmaid, saying, Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne? why then doth Adonijah reign?
13. Didst not thou … swear unto thine handmaid] She uses terms of great humility, even though she be pleading the king’s former solemn promise. We have no record of the oath to which Bath-sheba alludes, but we may be sure that the king had imparted to her the promise which God had made to him that Solomon should be his successor in the kingdom.

The Hebrew particle כִּי, which is here and in 1 Kings 1:30 translated ‘assuredly’, seems often not intended for anything more than a mark of quotation. Like the Greek ὄτι, when it stands before a direct quotation, it should be left in most cases untranslated. In 1 Kings 11:22 it is rendered ‘but’, which would be better omitted.

shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne] The fuller phrase seems intended to imply that Solomon should be in all respects the equal of his father. The pronoun ‘he’ is emphatically expressed in the original as also in 1 Kings 1:24; 1 Kings 1:30; 1 Kings 1:35. In each case the force is ‘he and no other.’

Behold, while thou yet talkest there with the king, I also will come in after thee, and confirm thy words.
14. and confirm thy words] Lit. ‘fill up’ thy words. This Nathan could most fitly do because he knew of the expressions of God’s will which had been communicated unto David. Thus he could dwell more fully than Bath-sheba on the king’s previous intentions, and knowing better than she what was going on around Adonijah could assure David that it was no imaginary alarm.

And Bathsheba went in unto the king into the chamber: and the king was very old; and Abishag the Shunammite ministered unto the king.
15–21. Bath-sheba before King David (Not in Chronicles)

15. and the king was very old] This sentence is in explanation why Bath-sheba went into the bedchamber of the king. David was too feeble to go forth, and those who would see him must come there for audience.

And Bathsheba bowed, and did obeisance unto the king. And the king said, What wouldest thou?
16. bowed and did obeisance] After the fashion of Orientals in the presence of a monarch.

And she said unto him, My lord, thou swarest by the LORD thy God unto thine handmaid, saying, Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne.
17. and he shall sit] The pronoun in the original is emphatically expressed.

And now, behold, Adonijah reigneth; and now, my lord the king, thou knowest it not:
18. Adonijah reigneth] i.e. Is being set up for king, and will be accepted, unless some word from David go forth to prevent it. With the commander-in-chief, and the highpriest Abiathar on his side Adonijah’s following might well seem powerful.

and now, my lord the king, thou knowest it not] The Hebrew words for thou אתה and now עתה vary only in one letter, and in sound are very much alike. Hence it has come to pass that in this verse and 1 Kings 1:20 there is a confusion; and here in some copies thou is put instead of now: ‘and thou, my lord … knowest it not.’

And he hath slain oxen and fat cattle and sheep in abundance, and hath called all the sons of the king, and Abiathar the priest, and Joab the captain of the host: but Solomon thy servant hath he not called.
And thou, my lord, O king, the eyes of all Israel are upon thee, that thou shouldest tell them who shall sit on the throne of my lord the king after him.
20. And thou, my lord, &c.] Here the variation is the other way, and now is read for thou. Both these changes seem to render the sentences more emphatic, especially as in this verse the queen is coming to the close of her argument and wishes to move David to take action in the matter at once.

Otherwise it shall come to pass, when my lord the king shall sleep with his fathers, that I and my son Solomon shall be counted offenders.
21. counted offenders] The Heb. word is literally ‘sinners.’ Bath-sheba does not go so far as Nathan, and say that the lives of herself and her son are in peril, but leaves the king to think what the lot of those offenders would be whom Adonijah knew to have aspired to the throne.

And, lo, while she yet talked with the king, Nathan the prophet also came in.
22–27. Nathan confirms the statements of Bath-sheba (Not in Chronicles)

22. Nathan the prophet also came in] Apparently at first into an outer room, whence he was announced to king David, and Bath-sheba went out before his coming into the bedchamber. She was clearly not present during Nathan’s address to the king. See 1 Kings 1:28.

And they told the king, saying, Behold Nathan the prophet. And when he was come in before the king, he bowed himself before the king with his face to the ground.
And Nathan said, My lord, O king, hast thou said, Adonijah shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne?
24. hast thou said] There is nothing in the Hebrew to mark the question. It must have been indicated by the tone. It would come with much force from Nathan, as he knew all the circumstances of God’s promise that Solomon should be king after David. He shews by his language in 1 Kings 1:27 that any change in the plans for the succession should not have been made without his knowledge. After the divine messages which had been sent to the king through Nathan, the prophet’s relation to David was different from that of other subjects.

For he is gone down this day, and hath slain oxen and fat cattle and sheep in abundance, and hath called all the king's sons, and the captains of the host, and Abiathar the priest; and, behold, they eat and drink before him, and say, God save king Adonijah.
25. For he is gone down] The site of the fountain, near which Adonijah’s banquet was made, was in the valley below Jerusalem.

God save king Adonijah] The Heb. is ‘Let king Adonijah live’ i.e. live long and happily; and similarly in all cases where A. V. has ‘God save, &c.’

But me, even me thy servant, and Zadok the priest, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and thy servant Solomon, hath he not called.
Is this thing done by my lord the king, and thou hast not shewed it unto thy servant, who should sit on the throne of my lord the king after him?
27. shewed it unto thy servant] There is a various reading, ‘thy servants,’ but the A. V. gives the better sense. There was a special reason why Nathan should know of all that was done in respect of the succession, which did not apply to the rest of David’s court.

Then king David answered and said, Call me Bathsheba. And she came into the king's presence, and stood before the king.
28–40. David causes Solomon to be proclaimed and anointed king (Not in Chronicles)

28. Call me Bath-sheba] The queen had not been present during Nathan’s interview, and no doubt both she and the prophet desired to appear as much as possible independent of each other in their tidings.

And the king sware, and said, As the LORD liveth, that hath redeemed my soul out of all distress,
29. And the king sware] i.e. Solemnly renewed the oath which he had before (see 1 Kings 1:13) made unto Bath-sheba.

As the Lord liveth] The expression is equivalent to ‘As surely as the Lord liveth,’ though in the Hebrew there is no word for as. God is frequently spoken of as ‘the living God’ and the idea in this form of asseveration seems to be this, ‘the Lord is living, of that there is no doubt, and as certainly shall that come to pass which is prefaced by this solemn assertion.’

that hath redeemed, &c.] David employs exactly the same words (in Hebrew) in 2 Samuel 4:6, previous to the punishment of Baanah and Rechab for the murder of Ishbosheth. And it is not without reason that he thinks of the termination of his distresses in connexion with Solomon, for the birth of that son marked the time when he became at peace not only with men but with God.

Even as I sware unto thee by the LORD God of Israel, saying, Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne in my stead; even so will I certainly do this day.
30. the Lord God of Israel] R.V. ‘the Lord, the God of Israel,’ as demanded by the Hebrew construction, here and elsewhere.

Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the earth, and did reverence to the king, and said, Let my lord king David live for ever.
31. Let my lord king David live for ever] On this common Oriental hyperbole, compare Daniel 2:4; Daniel 3:9; Daniel 5:10, &c. It was the common Eastern formula. Bath-sheba implied thereby that in her zeal for Solomon’s succession there was no desire for David’s death but only that the promise made to her concerning Solomon should not be broken.

And king David said, Call me Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada. And they came before the king.
32. Zadok the priest] Who must anoint king Solomon, and it is probably with this thought that David names him first.

and Nathan the prophet] Who had gone aside when Bath-sheba was called.

The king also said unto them, Take with you the servants of your lord, and cause Solomon my son to ride upon mine own mule, and bring him down to Gihon:
33. Take with you the servants of your lord] Judging from a similar order given by David (2 Samuel 20:6-7) these words imply a considerable body of armed men. For there it is said that the servants comprised Joab’s men, and the Cherethites and the Pelethites and all the mighty men. Where Joab was of the other side it was needful to be prepared for fighting.

upon mine own mule] To ride in the chariot or on the beast which carried the king was a mark of special distinction. So Pharaoh (Genesis 41:43) made Joseph ‘ride in the second chariot which he had.’ In like manner Jehonadab was taken (2 Kings 10:16) into Jehu’s chariot, and Haman named as a special mark of honour that a man should be set on ‘the horse that the king rideth upon’ (Esther 6:8).

bring him down to Gihon] From the direction here given this place must have been in the lower ground near Jerusalem. This agrees with the mention made of it in 2 Chronicles 33:14, where it is said to be in the valley, by which word is probably meant the torrent bed of the brook Kedron, so that Gihon would be in the Valley of Jehoshaphat on the east of Jerusalem. Both parties chose a place where there was water (see 1 Kings 5:9) for the anointing. Does this indicate that there was some purification connected with the act? At a later period there was an ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ pool at Gihon (2 Chronicles 32:30).

And let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him there king over Israel: and blow ye with the trumpet, and say, God save king Solomon.
34. anoint him there] The anointing was the most solemn portion of the ceremonies connected with the installation of a new king. We only read of its being done on some very marked occasions. Thus Saul, the first king, was anointed (1 Samuel 10:1), and David, the king of God’s own choice (1 Samuel 16:13); also when God orders the prophet Elijah to make provision for a new succession in Israel, Jehu is to be anointed (1 Kings 19:16), which was done when the proper time came (2 Kings 9:3; 2 Kings 9:6); so Joash after his preservation was anointed by Jehoiada (2 Chronicles 23:11). But though unmentioned it may have been performed in other cases. For ‘anointing’ is mentioned even in Jotham’s parable (Jdg 9:8), where the trees will choose them a king. The ceremony is intended to symbolize the outpouring of gifts from above upon the new monarch.

blow ye with the trumpet] Thus did Jehu’s companions after his anointing (2 Kings 9:13); neither anointing nor the blowing of the trumpets has been mentioned in connexion with Adonijah’s faction. No doubt they wished to gain strength before making such a public display of what they were doing.

Then ye shall come up after him, that he may come and sit upon my throne; for he shall be king in my stead: and I have appointed him to be ruler over Israel and over Judah.
35. come up after him] That is, as his supporters and body-guard, just as in 1 Kings 1:7 above, the conspirators ‘helped after Adonijah.’ Cf. also below, 1 Kings 1:40.

to be ruler over Israel] A better rendering is ‘prince’. The title was that given by God specially to those who should lead His people. Thus Saul is first so called (1 Samuel 9:16. A.V. ‘captain’ as in 1 Samuel 10:1. In 2 Chronicles 11:22 A.V. has ‘ruler,’ R.V. ‘prince’), then David (1 Samuel 25:30, A. V. ‘leader’). It is used also of Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:5), and in Daniel (1 Kings 9:25) of Him who was to be greater than all these, ‘Messiah the Prince.’

And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada answered the king, and said, Amen: the LORD God of my lord the king say so too.
36. and said, Amen] Expressing as usual a prayer ‘So let it be’; but at the same time expressing concurrence with all the king had said and a determination to carry his orders into effect. Thus the word implies also ‘So it shall be.’ But there is immediately subjoined ‘the Lord God of my lord the king say so too,’ implying that though David might plan and his servants labour for this end it would not be brought about except with God’s will. The sentence may be compared with Jeremiah (Jeremiah 28:6), where the words are ‘The prophet Jeremiah said, Amen: the Lord do so’; a reading which one or two MSS give here, but no doubt only as a gloss.

the Lord God of my lord] R.V. ‘the Lord, the God of my lord.’ See above on 1 Kings 1:30.

As the LORD hath been with my lord the king, even so be he with Solomon, and make his throne greater than the throne of my lord king David.
37. so be he] i.e. ‘So let him be.’ The Massoretic note corrects into ‘so shall he be,’ which makes nonsense of the verse.

make his throne greater than the throne of my lord] No doubt David’s faithful servants knew of the large promises which God had made to Solomon already, and that the heart of the king was gladdened at the thought of the future glory of his son (1 Chronicles 17:11-27). They had therefore no fear of David’s anger when they used words such as these. That Solomon’s kingdom and grandeur did surpass David’s may be seen from the narratives in 1 Kings 10. and 2 Chronicles 9.

So Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, went down, and caused Solomon to ride upon king David's mule, and brought him to Gihon.
38. the Cherethites and the Pelethites] The former of these names is found 1 Samuel 30:14 as the name of a people to the south of the Philistines. Hence it has been held by some that the second name, Pelethites, must also be of the same character, and that probably it is connected with the word ‘Philistine.’ It seems not impossible that David from his early residence in the country of the Philistines may have attached a body of men to him from among those peoples and constituted them his first body-guard (Josephus calls them σωματοφύλακες), which while retaining their old title would after the king’s accession be recruited from any of his most trusty supporters. We need not suppose therefore that though called by the old name they were largely composed of aliens. The older interpretations, connecting the words with Hebrew verbs, have been ‘executioners and runners’; and the Targum interprets them as ‘archers and slingers’ and in one place as ‘nobles and common soldiers.’ They are clearly to be identified with ‘the mighty men’ mentioned in 1 Kings 1:8 as not being with Adonijah.

And Zadok the priest took an horn of oil out of the tabernacle, and anointed Solomon. And they blew the trumpet; and all the people said, God save king Solomon.
39. a horn of oil] The Hebrew has the horn. The ‘holy anointing oil’ was no doubt preserved for occasions like this, and for the anointing of the priests. Zadok having the care of the tabernacle at Gibeon (1 Chronicles 16:39) would have this under his charge. And as Gibeon was ‘the great high place’ (1 Kings 3:4), all that was most sacred would be kept there.

out of the tabernacle] The word here rendered ‘tabernacle’ is not the same as that so rendered in the passage from 1 Chron. just quoted, and it is advisable to make a distinction between them. The word in this verse is that usually translated, when it does not refer to the sacred dwellingplace of God’s glory, by the English ‘tent’ (Genesis 9:21 &c.) and it would be well so to render here. In no other passage in Scripture does the word occur of the Divine dwellingplace without some qualifying expression added to it. It is ‘the tabernacle of the congregation,’ ‘the tabernacle of witness,’ ‘the tabernacle of the Lord.’ In all these cases ‘Tent’ might well be substituted. This word refers to the external covering of black goats’ hair, while the other word implies the interior, the very dwellingplace of God, and for this ‘Tabernacle’ might be specially retained.

all the people said] Solomon’s anointing was made a public ceremonial, news of what was to be done would go forth during the time that a messenger went to Gibeon for the sacred oil, and thus there seems to have been present not only those whom David had commissioned but a large body of the people of Jerusalem.

And all the people came up after him, and the people piped with pipes, and rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth rent with the sound of them.
40. piped with pipes] The LXX. adopting some slight alteration of the Hebrew, renders ‘danced in dances.’ And Josephus speaks of the people (Antiq. vii. 14, 5) as ‘dancing and playing on pipes’; thus shewing a desire to combine both readings. That the Israelites were likely to have pipes on such an occasion seems probable from 1 Samuel 10:5, where they are enumerated among the instruments used by the company of prophets.

rent with the sound] The Hebrew text implies ‘cleaving asunder’ and must, if correct, be taken as hyperbolic: that it is correct seems clear from the LXX. which has ‘was broken asunder’ (ἐῤῥάγη), though a slight change in the letters of the Hebrew (reading תקע for בקע) would give the meaning which the Vulgate has, ‘insonuit,’ i.e. resounded. Josephus appears thus to have understood the phrase, whatever reading he had, for he writes ‘from the multitude of the instruments all the earth and the air resounded.’

And Adonijah and all the guests that were with him heard it as they had made an end of eating. And when Joab heard the sound of the trumpet, he said, Wherefore is this noise of the city being in an uproar?
41–53. Alarm and submission of Adonijah (Not in Chronicles)

41. as they had made an end of eating] Such a banquet would naturally last a good while; and if we suppose Nathan to have heard of it as the festivity began, or he even may have known as they left Jerusalem, there will be seen to be time enough for all that is described as done by the supporters of Solomon. For they had no banquet to prepare and eat, but only the religious ceremonial to discharge which marked their master’s chosen son for king.

Joab heard] Any preparation against opposition to their action would properly be left to the commander-in-chief, and so he is alert to mark any signs of a commotion. Josephus represents the interruption as coming before the meal was finished.

And while he yet spake, behold, Jonathan the son of Abiathar the priest came: and Adonijah said unto him, Come in; for thou art a valiant man, and bringest good tidings.
42. Jonathan the son of Abiathar] They had left in the city some who should bring them word of any stir which their doings might cause. Jonathan had discharged the same office of watchman and newsbringer at the time of Absalom’s revolt. See 2 Samuel 15:27; 2 Samuel 17:17. But then he was to bring word to David.

a valiant man] Perhaps rather, a worthy man. The same word, which is often translated by ‘valour,’ ‘wealth,’ ‘might,’ is also used of any special excellence. Thus Proverbs 12:4; Proverbs 31:10 it is used in the description of ‘the virtuous woman’; also in this chapter, 1 Kings 1:52, we have the word translated worthy; and in 1 Chronicles 9:13 it is used of those who were ‘very able men’ for the work of the service of the house of the Lord. In the present case it was not so much a man of valour as of discretion who was needed in the messenger.

and bringest good tidings] The expression is somewhat redundant in the Hebrew, and might be rendered ‘bringest good tidings of good’. The same words are thus translated Isaiah 52:7.

And Jonathan answered and said to Adonijah, Verily our lord king David hath made Solomon king.
43. Verily our lord, &c.] The adverb implies some such sense as ‘Nay but’. Jonathan wishes to say ‘It is not as you hoped, but on the contrary Solomon is proclaimed and anointed.’ Comp. Genesis 17:19, where the word is rendered in A. V. ‘indeed,’ but the sense is ‘Nay but Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son,’ instead of Ishmael being made the hope of thy family.

And the king hath sent with him Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, and they have caused him to ride upon the king's mule:
And Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet have anointed him king in Gihon: and they are come up from thence rejoicing, so that the city rang again. This is the noise that ye have heard.
And also Solomon sitteth on the throne of the kingdom.
46. Solomon sitteth on the throne] Jonathan had seen the complete ceremony of installation, for on their return from Gihon the aged king had commanded that Solomon should shew himself seated in state on the royal throne.

And moreover the king's servants came to bless our lord king David, saying, God make the name of Solomon better than thy name, and make his throne greater than thy throne. And the king bowed himself upon the bed.
47. the king’s servants] i.e. The general public of Jerusalem who gathered themselves to offer congratulations to David on the commencement of the reign of his son. That a son should begin to reign during his father’s lifetime was no uncommon occurrence in the East.

the king bowed himself upon the bed] The verb is that commonly used of an act of worship, and the language of the next verse shews that David’s bowing was of this nature. He prayed that the good wishes he had just heard might be fulfilled, and thanked God for what had already happened. The action and intention is similar to that of Jacob described Genesis 47:31.

And also thus said the king, Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, which hath given one to sit on my throne this day, mine eyes even seeing it.
48. the Lord God] See on 1 Kings 1:30.

given one to sit] Of course he means ‘one of my own family and the one whom I specially wished.’ The LXX. adds here the words ‘of my seed’ and a like addition is made in some of the other versions. There can however be no misunderstanding of the king’s meaning without any such supplement. The king’s thankfulness was not for an occupier, but for the particular person now put on the throne.

The report brought by Jonathan (1 Kings 1:43-48) seems like the language of one who had been a spectator of what he relates. If this were so, we must assume king David to have been carried from his bedchamber into some reception-room where he could listen, as he lay, to the congratulations mentioned in 1 Kings 1:47. The adding on of one particular after another, with the repetition of the same conjunction ונם = and also, is exactly after the style of a messenger in great haste.

And all the guests that were with Adonijah were afraid, and rose up, and went every man his way.
And Adonijah feared because of Solomon, and arose, and went, and caught hold on the horns of the altar.
50. caught hold on the horns of the altar] In his terror Adonijah takes sanctuary, apparently at the altar which had been erected when the ark was brought to Mt. Zion. That an altar was set up there is clear from 2 Samuel 6:17-18, where we have an account of the burnt offerings and peace offerings presented there. As this sanctuary was specially under the care of Abiathar, it was natural that Adonijah should go there. It may have been by Abiathar’s advice.

The horns of the altar are described Exodus 27:2 seqq. They were wooden projections overlaid with brass. On the occasion of a sacrifice the priest with his finger was to smear them with the blood of the victim (Exodus 29:12), and this ceremonial was a sign of atonement (Exodus 30:10). Thus the spot to which Adonijah fled was of special sanctity.

And it was told Solomon, saying, Behold, Adonijah feareth king Solomon: for, lo, he hath caught hold on the horns of the altar, saying, Let king Solomon swear unto me to day that he will not slay his servant with the sword.
51. Let king Solomon swear unto me to day] The word translated to day signifies rather ‘first of all,’ i.e. before I will venture to come away from my place of safety. The same word is found twice in the narrative of the sale of Esau’s birthright, Genesis 25:31; Genesis 25:33. When Esau has asked for pottage, Jacob says “Sell me first of all (A.V. this day) thy birthright” and afterwards “Swear to me first of all.”

And Solomon said, If he will shew himself a worthy man, there shall not an hair of him fall to the earth: but if wickedness shall be found in him, he shall die.
52. not a hair of him fall to the earth] The expression is common and proverbial to express that no harm of any kind shall befall. Cf. 1 Samuel 14:45; 2 Samuel 14:11.

if wickedness shall be found in him] Josephus gives the sense: ‘If he shall again be caught with any new plots.’

So king Solomon sent, and they brought him down from the altar. And he came and bowed himself to king Solomon: and Solomon said unto him, Go to thine house.
53. and they brought him down from the altar] The expression refers perhaps to the steps on which Adonijah must have gone up to cling to the sides of the altar, or it may be to the elevation of the whole situation as the altar stood before the ark on Mt. Zion.

bowed himself] The same word as in 47 is used of David’s religious reverence. So Adonijah did homage to Solomon as his lord; and by pardoning the chief offender the new king shewed the rest of Adonijah’s adherents that they need not despair of forgiveness. Thus he would be most likely to change them from foes to friends.

The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

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2 Samuel 24
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