Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Now the days of David drew nigh that he should die; and he charged Solomon his son, saying,Ch. 1 Kings 2:1-11. David’s last charge to Solomon, and his death (Not in Chronicles)
1. Now the days of David drew nigh that he should die] According to the narrative of Josephus (Antiq. vii. 14, 7) all the events recorded in 1 Chronicles 28, 29 took place in the interval between the first anointing of Solomon and the death of David. There is nothing in those chapters beyond what an aged man might do, especially if he had a brief period of better health, and 1 Chronicles 29:22 makes special mention of Solomon’s second anointing which, like the first, preceded the death of his father.
I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man;2. I go the way of all the earth] i.e. Of all who live on the earth, viz. to the grave. The same expression is used by Joshua (Joshua 24:14), and, though the Hebrew noun is not the same, we may compare Job 16:22 ‘I shall go the way whence I shall not return.’
be thou strong therefore] Compare the oft-repeated injunction to Joshua, Deuteronomy 31:7; Deuteronomy 31:23; Joshua 1:6-7 &c. The circumstances are not very dissimilar. Moses, soon to be taken away, was giving his charge to his successor (Deuteronomy 31:23), as David to Solomon, and the language is identical. Cf. also 1 Chronicles 22:13.
shew thyself a man] The age of Solomon at the death of his father cannot be exactly known. He must have been considerably younger than Adonijah, who was the fourth of those six sons born to David before the conquest of Jerusalem (2 Samuel 3:4). And he may have been so young that his father’s words mean, ‘though a youth in years, yet prove yourself a man in prudence and wisdom.’ This is somewhat supported by Solomon’s language about himself (1 Kings 3:7), ‘I am but a little child.’ But it may also be understood as a general exhortation to exhibit the courage which would be necessary, since a party had been formed in the kingdom for the support of another claimant to the throne.
And keep the charge of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself:3. keep the charge of the Lord] The word rendered ‘charge’ here has no connexion with the verb used in 1 Kings 2:1, but is the customary expression in the Book of Numbers for the care and oversight of the Tabernacle and other things committed to the Levites. (See Numbers 1:53; Numbers 3:7-8 &c.) It is used also of other sacred offices and the duties attached thereto. Thus is imported into the word a solemn signification, though in etymology it is connected with the word which precedes it, rendered ‘keep’.
to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgements] These words appear to refer to the three portions of the divine law, the ceremonial, the moral, and the judicial ordinances revealed by God in the Mosaic code; while testimonies may be interpreted of those evidences of God’s will towards man which are made clear by His dealings with bygone generations. Thus God in His word bears witness to Himself.
as it is written in the law of Moses] The allusion is to Deuteronomy 17:18-20, where the king, in time to come, is bidden to keep a copy of the Law, and to study it, that so his days may be prolonged.
That the LORD may continue his word which he spake concerning me, saying, If thy children take heed to their way, to walk before me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail thee (said he) a man on the throne of Israel.4. that the Lord may continue his word] The verb is most commonly rendered ‘establish’ and may be so translated here. Cf. 1 Samuel 1:23 where the same phrase occurs. The sense is of confirming and ratifying what has previously been promised. David is here looking forward to the generations that shall come after him, which fact the A. V. has endeavoured to make clear by the rendering ‘continue’. The word, or promise, alluded to is found 2 Samuel 7:25-29.
saying, If thy children take heed to their way] In the passage just mentioned where the promise is recorded there are none of these conditions specified; but we are sure that God’s promise was not an unconditional one, and in his Psalms (Psalm 132:12) David has expressly made mention of the condition in words very similar to this verse.
there shall not fail thee (said he) a man on the throne of Israel] The Heb. is literally ‘there shall not be cut off unto thee a man from upon the throne of Israel’; and the same phrase occurs afterwards ch. 1 Kings 8:25, 1 Kings 9:5, and in other parts of the Bible. The sense is ‘there never shall be wanting some one of thy race to sit on the throne.’ The promise was made to David’s line, and was fulfilled; for as long as the kingdom of Judah existed the family of David were kings.
There is no word in the Hebrew for the parenthetic ‘said he,’ but the clause is preceded by the word usually rendered ‘saying,’ which seems to have been introduced by some scribe from the earlier part of the verse. The LXX. translates the Hebrew literally (i.e. repeating λέγων); the Vulgate notices neither the ‘saying’ nor ‘said he’.
Moreover thou knowest also what Joab the son of Zeruiah did to me, and what he did to the two captains of the hosts of Israel, unto Abner the son of Ner, and unto Amasa the son of Jether, whom he slew, and shed the blood of war in peace, and put the blood of war upon his girdle that was about his loins, and in his shoes that were on his feet.5. what Joab the son of Zeruiah did to me] This one of the sons of Zeruiah had been all through his reign too strong for his uncle. See 2 Samuel 3:39 : and for the rough remonstrances of Joab with David, cf. 2 Samuel 19:5-7. The slaughter of Absalom, though neither mentioned here by David, nor afterwards by Solomon, when Joab is put to death, must have been constantly present to their minds.
unto Abner the son of Ner] Ner being brother of Kish (1 Chronicles 9:36), the father of Saul, we can understand how Abner became a man of much importance in the court of Saul, under whom he was commander-in-chief. After the death of Saul it was Abner who proclaimed Ishbosheth and supported him against David, until some quarrel arising Abner made overtures to David which were favourably received. During the earlier events of the war between Ishbosheth’s supporters and those of David, Abner to save his own life had slain Asahel, Joab’s younger brother. To avenge this death and probably also from jealousy, lest Abner coming into David’s service should become more influential than himself, Joab calling Abner aside as he was departing from the court, in conjunction with Abishai his brother treacherously slew him. Owing to Abner’s early course of action David might have been suspected of conniving at his murder. The exposure to such a suspicion no doubt aggravated the king’s sorrow. David’s lament over Abner’s death is found 2 Samuel 3:33-34. He never forgave the murder, though he was unable during his lifetime to take vengeance on the perpetrator.
unto Amasa the son of Jether] Amasa was a son of David’s sister Abigail, and the name of her husband is elsewhere (2 Samuel 17:25) written ‘Ithra.’ Amasa took the side of Absalom when that prince rebelled against his father, but David forgave this, when Absalom had been slain by Joab, and appointed Amasa commander-in-chief in Joab’s place (2 Samuel 19:13). Afterwards, under the pretence of saluting Amasa, Joab gave him a fatal wound with a sword which he held hidden in his left hand (2 Samuel 20:10).
the blood of war in peace] For both these murders were committed when the opportunity had been gained under the guise of friendship.
his girdle … his shoes] Both these portions of his dress must have been covered with the blood spurting and flowing from wounds inflicted at such close quarters.
Do therefore according to thy wisdom, and let not his hoar head go down to the grave in peace.6. Do therefore according to thy wisdom] Compare 1 Kings 2:9. The wisdom to which David in both cases alludes is a politic method of bringing these men to do something for which they might be put to death. Such men were specially dangerous in the court of a young king.
his hoar head] Most likely Joab was already an old man not much younger than David himself. This may account for some of the freedom of his speech to the king.
go down to the grave in peace] The advice is put in a more direct form in 1 Kings 2:9, concerning Shimei, ‘Bring his hoar head down to the grave with blood.’
The Hebrew construction (the jussive after לא not אל) seems to imply a suggestion rather than a direct command. ‘I recommend you not to let,’ &c.
But shew kindness unto the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite, and let them be of those that eat at thy table: for so they came to me when I fled because of Absalom thy brother.7. sons of Barzillai the Gileadite] The deserving conduct of Barzillai, during David’s flight from Absalom, is narrated 2 Samuel 19:31 seqq. The Chimham there mentioned was probably a son of Barzillai, though we are not expressly told so. No other son is anywhere spoken of, but we find that Barzillai had daughters (Ezra 2:61; Nehemiah 7:63) and he probably was father of a large family. Barzillai, at his advanced age, would not come alone to conduct David over Jordan, and though he only commends one person to the king’s attention there may have been several sons in his retinue.
of those that eat at thy table] A common mode in Eastern countries of shewing regard. Thus Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son, was provided for at David’s table (2 Samuel 9:7; 2 Samuel 9:10-11), and such treatment put the recipient in a position like that of the king’s sons.
for so they came to me] i.e. With kind acts and generous supplies of food when I was in great need. Let their reward be of a similar nature.
And, behold, thou hast with thee Shimei the son of Gera, a Benjamite of Bahurim, which cursed me with a grievous curse in the day when I went to Mahanaim: but he came down to meet me at Jordan, and I sware to him by the LORD, saying, I will not put thee to death with the sword.8. thou hast with thee Shimei] Shimei was not at present living in Jerusalem (see 1 Kings 2:36), but that his conduct might be more closely watched Solomon compelled him to come and dwell in the city.
Bahurim] Besides its connexion with the story of Shimei, this place is mentioned (2 Samuel 17:18) as the spot where Jonathan and Ahimaaz were concealed in the well, or cistern, to avoid the pursuit of Absalom’s servants; and in the account of Phaltiel’s separation from Michal when she was sent back to David (2 Samuel 3:16) by Ishbosheth. It must have been situate near the road from Jerusalem to the fords of the Jordan, but it is not mentioned in Joshua, nor has its situation been identified.
Mahanaim] was on the east of Jordan, and was so named by Jacob (Genesis 32:2) because he there saw the host (Mahaneh) of God. Abner made his head-quarters there while he was supporting Ishbosheth against David (2 Samuel 2:8). Its strong position and fortification, which are specially dwelt on by Josephus (Ant. vii. 9, 8) no doubt led Abner to choose it, as did David likewise in his flight before Absalom.
came down to meet me] Shimei makes a merit of being among the first to give the king welcome on his return (2 Samuel 19:20). And though Abishai urged that he should straightway be put to death, David refused to have the day of his restoration stained by the blood of any man.
Now therefore hold him not guiltless: for thou art a wise man, and knowest what thou oughtest to do unto him; but his hoar head bring thou down to the grave with blood.9. hold him not guiltless] i.e. Be sure not to let him go unpunished. Find out some good reason for vengeance to be taken on him. We are not to wonder at these injunctions of David, which were not unnatural, both for the satisfaction of his own feelings and for providing for the security of Solomon’s throne. Joab was a dangerous man to be left alive, and Shimei, with Oriental fickleness, would curse Solomon as readily as he had cursed David, should a reverse of fortune come upon him. Nor are we to look for New Testament virtues in even the best men of the older covenant. The Christian thinks it nobler to forgive, following the lessons of his master, but what David saw of Christ was in the less clear vision of faith, and neither he nor his people are to be expected to rise in any great degree towards the nobility of Christian forgiveness. Yet David was very generous toward Saul. He seems to have become less forgiving in his old age, though doubtless he was thinking chiefly of Solomon’s safety.
So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David.10. in the city of David] The place is defined (2 Samuel 5:7) as ‘the stronghold of Zion.’ We are told (Aboth de-Rabbi Nathan i. 35) that ‘no graves are made in Jerusalem, except the tombs of the house of David, and of Huldah the prophetess, which have been there from the days of the first prophets.’ Josephus (Ant. vii. 15. 3) gives an account of the wealth that Solomon deposited in his father’s grave, and states that the tomb was afterwards opened and some of this wealth carried away, first by Hyrcanus the high priest, when he was besieged by Antiochus, and a second time by Herod the Great. But the chambers in which the treasure was buried could be reached without disturbing the royal burying-place.
And the days that David reigned over Israel were forty years: seven years reigned he in Hebron, and thirty and three years reigned he in Jerusalem.11. seven years reigned he in Hebron] According to 2 Samuel 5:5 the time was seven years and six months. The Old Testament writers often in this way omit pieces of a year, and speak only of the full years. Cf. 1 Chronicles 29:27.
Then sat Solomon upon the throne of David his father; and his kingdom was established greatly.
And Adonijah the son of Haggith came to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon. And she said, Comest thou peaceably? And he said, Peaceably.13–25. Adonijah asks for Abishag to wife and is put to death by Solomon (Not in Chronicles)
13. Comest thou peaceably] There was the same sort of alarm in Bath-sheba’s mind as was in those of the people of Bethlehem when Samuel came to visit Jesse before David was anointed (1 Samuel 16:4), when the elders of the town trembled. She expected no good from any scheme of Adonijah’s, and her question refers more to the national welfare than to her personal concerns.
He said moreover, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And she said, Say on.
And he said, Thou knowest that the kingdom was mine, and that all Israel set their faces on me, that I should reign: howbeit the kingdom is turned about, and is become my brother's: for it was his from the LORD.15. Thou knowest that the kingdom was mine] He means that as the eldest living son of David, he could rightly claim it. Thus he in a way apologizes for his previous attempt to secure the succession to himself.
set their faces on me] They looked forward to my accession and were resolved on bringing it about. Comp. Jeremiah 42:17 ‘the men that set their faces to go down into Egypt … shall die.’ Adonijah would thus also make it appear that the voice and goodwill of the people had been on his side.
for it was his from the Lord] He professes his resignation to what has happened, and ascribes it to the Divine will that he may the better cloak his desires and intentions. Perhaps ‘it became his from the Lord’ would give the force of his words better. It is to be noted how, as if in friendship, he speaks of Solomon as his brother.
And now I ask one petition of thee, deny me not. And she said unto him, Say on.16. deny me not] The Hebrew is ‘turn not away my face,’ and implies that a person whose suit is refused is turned away in disgrace. The same expression is rendered ‘to say not nay’ in 1 Kings 2:17; 1 Kings 2:20. Adonijah’s argument was to this effect: ‘You know I have lost a great deal, surely you will not refuse me this slight request.’
And he said, Speak, I pray thee, unto Solomon the king, (for he will not say thee nay,) that he give me Abishag the Shunammite to wife.17. that he give me Abishag] It is highly probable that the construction which Solomon put upon Adonijah’s request was the true one, for in the East the widows of the late king become the wives of his successor, and to marry, or seek to marry, such a widow is equivalent to putting forward a claim to the throne. Cf. God’s message to David (2 Samuel 12:8) ‘I gave thee … thy master’s wives into thy bosom,’ and also the threatening in the verses which follow that passage. See too 1 Kings 20:7; 2 Kings 24:15. Peter Martyr in his comment on this verse gives, as an illustration of the proud aspirations which are sometimes fostered by marriage with a royal widow, the case of Admiral Seymour, who married Catharine Parr, the widow of Henry 8, and straightway after his marriage began to plot rebellion.
And Bathsheba said, Well; I will speak for thee unto the king.18. I will speak for thee] Bath-sheba does not seem to have suspected Adonijah’s design, and this simplicity of hers he perhaps hoped to trade upon, and thought that his petition, coming to Solomon through her, might appear less dangerous. That she should consent to ask the king was not unnatural. ‘The damsel was very fair’ (1 Kings 1:4) and Adonijah ‘a very goodly man’ (1 Kings 1:6), and such a marriage might appear to her not unfitting.
Bathsheba therefore went unto king Solomon, to speak unto him for Adonijah. And the king rose up to meet her, and bowed himself unto her, and sat down on his throne, and caused a seat to be set for the king's mother; and she sat on his right hand.19. caused a seat to be set for the king’s mother] For ‘seat’ we should have throne. The word is the same as that which occurs earlier in the verse for Solomon’s own ‘throne.’ In Eastern nations the queen-mother was a very important personage and treated with the same sort of reverence as the king. This we may see in the case of Maachah (1 Kings 15:13) who held authority and was called queen, even during the reign of her grandson Asa. Compare also the influential position of Athaliah, which enabled her to destroy nearly all the seedroyal (2 Kings 11:1).
and she sat on his right hand] This being the place of greatest honour, cf. Psalm 45:9.
Then she said, I desire one small petition of thee; I pray thee, say me not nay. And the king said unto her, Ask on, my mother: for I will not say thee nay.20. I desire one small petition of thee] These words seem to confirm what has been said above, that Bath-sheba had not realized the grave import of her request.
I will not say thee nay] i.e. If it be possible for me to grant it. The condition, though unexpressed, is of necessity understood.
And she said, Let Abishag the Shunammite be given to Adonijah thy brother to wife.
And king Solomon answered and said unto his mother, And why dost thou ask Abishag the Shunammite for Adonijah? ask for him the kingdom also; for he is mine elder brother; even for him, and for Abiathar the priest, and for Joab the son of Zeruiah.22. and for Abiathar the priest, and for Joab the son of Zeruiah] These two having aided Adonijah in his attempt on the throne, would naturally have been his chief ministers and advisers had he succeeded. So Solomon includes them with him, and thus Bath-sheba may see whither the design of Adonijah is tending.
The Vulgate renders the clause ‘even for him’ (literally and for him) in a different sense, ‘et habet Abiathar, &c.’ making the words imply that Adonijah is already equipped with advisers for the kingdom at which he is aiming.
The LXX. has ‘And he has Abiathar and Joab the son of Zeruiah, the chief captain as his friend’ (ἑταῖρος). The last word of the Hebrew text is צרויה. It would seem as though the LXX. had read after this רעהו or רעו, = his friend, which is not very unlike the final letters of the present Hebrew. Whether there was some word there which has fallen out or the version is the result of a misreading we cannot be sure. There is, without doubt, some awkwardness in the text as it now stands.
Then king Solomon sware by the LORD, saying, God do so to me, and more also, if Adonijah have not spoken this word against his own life.23. God do so to me, and more also] This is a very idiomatic rendering for the Hebrew, which is literally ‘Thus shall God do to me, and thus shall He add.’ The expression occurs again in 1 Kings 19:2, 1 Kings 20:10, and in 2 Kings 6:31 as well as several times in the books of Samuel, and in Ruth 1:17.
Now therefore, as the LORD liveth, which hath established me, and set me on the throne of David my father, and who hath made me an house, as he promised, Adonijah shall be put to death this day.24. who hath made me a house] ‘House’ here is used in the sense of ‘possessions,’ ‘property.’ So (Esther 8:1) the ‘house’ of Haman, i.e. his wealth and property, is given to queen Esther. The LXX. renders in that place by ὅσα ὑπῆρχεν Ἀμάν.
And king Solomon sent by the hand of Benaiah the son of Jehoiada; and he fell upon him that he died.25. by the hand of Benaiah] To Benaiah was committed not the oversight, but the execution of the sentence. In like manner he puts to death Joab (1 Kings 2:34) and Shimei (1 Kings 2:46). Solomon was absolute as a monarch, and the command was executed as promptly as it was given. The LXX fills out the sentence thus, καὶ ἀπέθανεν Ἀδωνίας ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐκείνῃ.
And unto Abiathar the priest said the king, Get thee to Anathoth, unto thine own fields; for thou art worthy of death: but I will not at this time put thee to death, because thou barest the ark of the Lord GOD before David my father, and because thou hast been afflicted in all wherein my father was afflicted.26–27. Punishment of Abiathar (Not in Chronicles)
26. Get thee to Anathoth] This city was in the tribe of Benjamin, and has been identified by Robinson with Anáta at the distance of 1¼ hours N.N.E. of Jerusalem. It is mentioned as a priest’s city with suburbs in Joshua 21:18; 1 Chronicles 6:60, and Jeremiah was sprung from ‘the priests that were in Anathoth’ (Jeremiah 1:1). Here Abiathar must have had some ground, and to this Solomon banished him. We find that the cousin of Jeremiah, Hanameel, possessed land at Anathoth, which Jeremiah purchased (Jeremiah 32:6-12).
worthy of death] Hebrew, a man of death, deserving it. So in 1 Kings 20:42 ‘a man whom I appointed to utter destruction’ is literally ‘the man of my doom,’ i.e. whom I had doomed.
thou barest the ark of the Lord] Abiathar was with David in his flight before Absalom (2 Samuel 15:24-29) when the ark of God was carried away from Jerusalem, and he and Zadok bore it back again according to David’s orders.
hast been afflicted] Abiathar fled from Nob and came to David when he was pursued by Saul (1 Samuel 22:20), and also remained with him in the dangerous days which followed. See 1 Samuel 23:8-9.
So Solomon thrust out Abiathar from being priest unto the LORD; that he might fulfil the word of the LORD, which he spake concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh.27. So Solomon thrust out Abiathar] The verb is the same which is used (Genesis 3:24) of the driving out of Adam from Paradise.
fulfil the word of the Lord] The allusion is to 1 Samuel 2:31-36, where it is foretold to Eli that his family, to which Abiathar belonged, should be deprived of the priest’s office, and that a faithful priest should be raised up in their stead. The order of descent from Eli was Eli—Phinehas—Ahitub—Ahimelech—Abiathar. These were of the family of Ithamar. Zadok was of the family of Eleazar (1 Chronicles 6:8). This is the first passage in the O.T. where the phrase ‘to fulfil the word of the Lord’ appears.
Then tidings came to Joab: for Joab had turned after Adonijah, though he turned not after Absalom. And Joab fled unto the tabernacle of the LORD, and caught hold on the horns of the altar.28–35. Flight of Joab and his death. Benaiah succeeds him as captain of the host (Not in Chronicles)
28. Then tidings came to Joab] The Hebrew says ‘And the tidings came to Joab’, i.e. of Abiathar’s banishment, and he felt that his own turn was soon to come.
turned after] i.e. Took the side of. It was Joab, who being on David’s side, slew Absalom (2 Samuel 18:14). This crime, though never brought forward, no doubt instigated David to advise, and Solomon to provide that Joab should be taken out of the way. All the ancient versions except the Chaldee, have here ‘For Joab had turned after Adonijah, and had not turned after Solomon.’
the tabernacle of the Lord] The word here, as elsewhere, is the ordinary word for a tent, and if thus translated gives to the English reader a better notion of what the structure was.
horns of the altar] See above on 1 Kings 1:50. Joab fled for sanctuary to the same place and in the same fashion as Adonijah had done.
And it was told king Solomon that Joab was fled unto the tabernacle of the LORD; and, behold, he is by the altar. Then Solomon sent Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, saying, Go, fall upon him.29. he is by the altar] The LXX. has ‘he has taken hold of the horns of the altar’, after which that version adds ‘And Solomon the king sent to Joab, saying, What has happened to thee that thou hast fled to the altar? And Joab said, Because I was afraid of thee, and fled unto the Lord.’ These words seem merely an expansion of the narrative, and we need not suppose that they represent a lost clause of the Hebrew.
And Benaiah came to the tabernacle of the LORD, and said unto him, Thus saith the king, Come forth. And he said, Nay; but I will die here. And Benaiah brought the king word again, saying, Thus said Joab, and thus he answered me.30. Come forth] Benaiah would prefer, if it may be, to execute the sentence upon Joab elsewhere than within the precincts of the tabernacle.
I will die here] Joab is conscious of Benaiah’s errand, but perhaps hopes still to escape death if he remain at the altar.
brought the king word again] It seems from this that Solomon had thought it would be possible to bring Joab away from the altar. When this could not be done Benaiah feels that he may return for further orders.
And the king said unto him, Do as he hath said, and fall upon him, and bury him; that thou mayest take away the innocent blood, which Joab shed, from me, and from the house of my father.31. and bury him] The LXX. adds these words to the king’s previous order in 1 Kings 2:29. Joab was Solomon’s cousin, and so though it was a political necessity to put him to death, the king would not care to add further dishonour to the dead body.
the innocent blood] i.e. The causeless bloodshed of innocent people of which Joab had been guilty, and which, until it was avenged, would lie at the door of David and his descendants.
And the LORD shall return his blood upon his own head, who fell upon two men more righteous and better than he, and slew them with the sword, my father David not knowing thereof, to wit, Abner the son of Ner, captain of the host of Israel, and Amasa the son of Jether, captain of the host of Judah.32. his blood] i.e. The blood which he hath shed.
my father David not knowing thereof] The verb is a finite tense and not a participle, and the clause may therefore be rendered ‘and my father D. knew it not.’
Abner] See notes on 1 Kings 2:5 above. In that verse both Abner and Amasa are called captains of the host of Israel, while here the latter is distinguished as captain of the host of Judah. That the division in the people was well marked long before the revolt of the ten tribes against Rehoboam may be seen from the strife which took place about David’s return after the death of Absalom (2 Samuel 19:41-43). Also when Joab numbered the people (2 Samuel 24:9) the census of the two hosts was given in separately.
Their blood shall therefore return upon the head of Joab, and upon the head of his seed for ever: but upon David, and upon his seed, and upon his house, and upon his throne, shall there be peace for ever from the LORD.33. and upon the head of his seed for ever] Solomon has in mind here the words of his father at the time of Abner’s murder (2 Samuel 3:29). David’s prayer then was “let the blood rest on the head of Joab and on all his father’s house.”
shall there be peace for ever] The law of Moses ordained that the shedder of innocent blood should not go unpunished (Deuteronomy 19:13), and it is said ‘Thine eye shall not pity him … that it may go well with thee.’ Hence there was hope of peace after the murderer was punished.
So Benaiah the son of Jehoiada went up, and fell upon him, and slew him: and he was buried in his own house in the wilderness.34. went up] i.e. To the Tent of the Lord, which probably stood on a higher part of Mt. Zion than did Solomon’s own house.
buried in his own house] i.e. In the ground around his home. He appears to have had a home far out in the open country.
in the wilderness] Probably that district known as the wilderness of Judah. Wilderness, or desert, gives however an insufficient idea of the kind of country that is meant. It was land under no regular cultivation, but yet to which cattle might be driven for pasturage. So in the narrative of the feeding of the Five Thousand where St Matthew (1 Kings 14:15) speaks of ‘a desert place,’ St John (1 Kings 6:10) says ‘now there was much grass in the place.’
And the king put Benaiah the son of Jehoiada in his room over the host: and Zadok the priest did the king put in the room of Abiathar.35. put in the room of Abiathar] The LXX. amplifies and says that Zadok was now appointed εἰς ἱερέα πρῶτον, to be the first priest. Hitherto he seems to have had his post at Gibeon. There was not a great interval between the deposition of Abiathar and the building of the Temple, after which event the worship at Gibeon would cease. In the interval some deputy would fill Zadok’s place there.
In the LXX. there is found a long additional passage here, concerning Solomon’s wisdom, his marriage with Pharaoh’s daughter, his offerings and sacrifices, and his buildings. Then follows almost in the words of the earlier part of this chapter (1 Kings 2:8-9) David’s charge concerning Shimei. The whole insertion seems confused and purposeless.
And the king sent and called for Shimei, and said unto him, Build thee an house in Jerusalem, and dwell there, and go not forth thence any whither.36–46. Shimei meets with his deserts (Not in Chronicles)
36. sent and called for Shimei] Solomon sent for him to Jerusalem from Bahurim (see 1 Kings 2:8). Keeping him under close watch, he could hardly fail to find him tripping.
For it shall be, that on the day thou goest out, and passest over the brook Kidron, thou shalt know for certain that thou shalt surely die: thy blood shall be upon thine own head.37. passest over the brook Kidron] This brook, being between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives, on that side of Jerusalem where Shimei would go if he wanted to return to Bahurim. Solomon takes the distance in this direction as a measure of bounds within which he must keep himself on every side. For in going afterwards to Gath he of course did not cross the brook Kidron.
thou shalt know] The Hebrew often uses a future for an imperative. Here it is better to render ‘Know for certain’ &c. It is so rendered in 1 Kings 2:42.
And Shimei said unto the king, The saying is good: as my lord the king hath said, so will thy servant do. And Shimei dwelt in Jerusalem many days.38. many days] The LXX. has τρία ἔτη, three years, a reading evidently drawn from the next verse.
And it came to pass at the end of three years, that two of the servants of Shimei ran away unto Achish son of Maachah king of Gath. And they told Shimei, saying, Behold, thy servants be in Gath.39. two of the servants of Shimei] Shimei appears to have been a man of wealth, both from this circumstance, and from his ability to establish himself in Jerusalem as soon as Solomon commanded him. The servants may have been Philistines.
Achish son of Maachah king of Gath] The Achish to whom David fled on two occasions (1 Samuel 21:10; 1 Samuel 27:2) is called the son of Maoch, which may be only another form of Maachah. But the time which elapsed between David’s flight and the death of Shimei makes it doubtful whether the same man was king still. The same royal names were so frequently carried on in alternate generations that the similarity need not surprise us. So Hannibal was the son of Hamilcar, and Hamilcar the son of a former Hannibal.
they told Shimei] i.e. Some persons who had come to know of the whereabouts of the servants.
And Shimei arose, and saddled his ass, and went to Gath to Achish to seek his servants: and Shimei went, and brought his servants from Gath.
And it was told Solomon that Shimei had gone from Jerusalem to Gath, and was come again.
And the king sent and called for Shimei, and said unto him, Did I not make thee to swear by the LORD, and protested unto thee, saying, Know for a certain, on the day thou goest out, and walkest abroad any whither, that thou shalt surely die? and thou saidst unto me, The word that I have heard is good.42. Did I not make thee to swear by the Lord] There is no mention of an oath in the previous part of the narrative (1 Kings 2:37), but the solemnity of the charge was probably so enforced. The LXX, making both portions of the story to correspond, inserts in 1 Kings 2:37 ‘and the king made him to swear in that day.’
The word that I have heard] ‘The saying &c.’ as in 1 Kings 2:38. The same Hebrew will thus have the same English.
Why then hast thou not kept the oath of the LORD, and the commandment that I have charged thee with?43. the oath of the Lord] i.e. Which was sworn unto the Lord.
The king said moreover to Shimei, Thou knowest all the wickedness which thine heart is privy to, that thou didst to David my father: therefore the LORD shall return thy wickedness upon thine own head;44. Thou knowest] The Hebrew inserts the pronoun emphatically. It was needless for Solomon to recall the wrong with which Shimei’s own conscience would upbraid him.
the Lord shall return] The Hebrew says ‘the Lord hath returned.’ The punishment is so sure that the king speaks of it as already inflicted. He is but the Lord’s agent, and the doom of Shimei is counted as executed. This appears the best way of understanding the grammar, as there is no preceding verb from which this should derive the signification of an imperfect.
And king Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of David shall be established before the LORD for ever.45. Solomon shall be blessed] See above on 1 Kings 2:33.
the throne of David shall be established] According to God’s promise (2 Samuel 7:13-16). Solomon regards the punishments which he has inflicted and is about to inflict, as a fulfilment of the conditions under which the promise was made. His action is the upholding of righteousness in the kingdom.
So the king commanded Benaiah the son of Jehoiada; which went out, and fell upon him, that he died. And the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon.46. which went out] Literally ‘and he went out,’ which reads rather better than the A.V.
in the hand of Solomon] The conspirators who might have been dangerous were all removed, and now, though still but a youth, Solomon had gained complete hold of the reins of government. Cf. 2 Chronicles 1:1, where it is said that he ‘was strengthened in his kingdom, and the Lord his God was with him.’
The Vulgate joins on the last clause of this verse to the first verse of the next chapter; which seems to be a most natural connexion.
In the Chronicles no mention is made either of David’s dying injunctions to his son, nor of their execution. The compiler of that book appears designedly to have omitted all notice of the troubles under which David suffered, and so it does not fall within his plan to speak of the punishment of his adversaries. The religious zeal of Solomon, his wealth and wisdom, his abundant offerings and the building of the Temple were themes better suited to the time when the Chronicler compiled his narrative, and such matter therefore makes up the most part of his book.