Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
The Books of Kings
Contents- and Character- Origin and Sources- of the Books of the Kings.
The books of the Kings, which were but one book originally like the books of Samuel, and which like the latter, were divided into two books by the Alexandrian translators (see the Introduction to the books of Samuel), contain, in accordance with their name (מלכים), the history of the Israelitish theocracy under the kings, from the accession of Solomon to the extinction of the monarchy on the overthrow of the kingdom of Judah, when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Chaldaeans and the people were carried away into exile in Babylon. they embrace a period of 455 years, from 1015 to 560 b.c., that is to say, to the reign of the Babylonian king Evil-merodach. And as every kingdom culminates in its king, and the government of the kings determines the fate of the kingdom, the contents of the books before us, which are named after the kings of Israel, consist for the most part of a history of those kings; inasmuch as, whilst on the one hand the reigns of the several kings form the historical and chronological framework for the description of the historical development of the people and kingdom, on the other hand the leading phases which the monarchy assumed furnish the basis of the three periods, into which the history of this epoch and the contents of our books are divided.
The first period (1015-975 b.c.) embraces the forty years of Solomon's reign over the undivided kingdom of the twelve tribes of Israel, when the Israelitish kingdom of God stood at the summit of its earthly power and glory; though towards the end of this period it began to decline inasmuch as the rebellion of Solomon against the Lord in the closing years of his reign prepared the way for the rebellion of the ten tribes against the house of David. - The second period commences with the division of the one kingdom into the two kingdoms, Israel (or the ten tribes) and Judah, and stretches over the whole period during which these two kingdoms existed side by side, terminating with the destruction of the kingdom of the ten tribes by the Assyrians, i.e., from 975 to 722 b.c. - The third period embraces the still remaining years of the continuance of the kingdom of Judah, until its eventual dissolution by the Chaldaeans and the carrying away of the people into exile in Babylon, viz., from 722 to 560 b.c.
The first part of our books (1 Kings 1-11) therefore contains a description of the reign of Solomon, (a) in its commencement, viz., his ascent of the throne and the consolidation of his power (1 Kings 1 and 2); (b) in the gradual development of the strength and glory of his government, by his marriage, his sacrifice and prayer at Gibeon, his judicial wisdom, and his court (1 Kings 3:1-5:14)-also by the building of the temple and royal palace and the dedication of the temple (1 Kings 5:15-9:9), by the erection of his other edifices and the introduction of navigation and commerce (1 Kings 9:10-28), by the spreading abroad of the fame of his wisdom, and by the increase of his wealth (1 Kings 10); and (c) in its eventual decline in consequence of the sin into which the aged monarch fell through his polygamy and idolatry (1 Kings 11). The second part opens with an account of the falling away of the ten tribes from the royal family of David, and relates in a synchronistic narrative the history of the two kingdoms in the three stages of their development: viz., (a) the early enmity between the two, from Jeroboam to Omri of Israel (1 Kings 12:1-16:28); (b) the establishment of friendship and intermarriage between the two royal houses under Ahab and his sons, down to the destruction of the two kings Joram of Israel and Ahaziah of Judah by Jehu (1 Kings 16:29-2 Kings 10); (c) the renewal of hostilities between the two kingdoms, from Jehu's ascent of the throne in Israel and Athaliah's usurpation of the throne in Judah to the overthrow of the kingdom of Israel in the sixth year of Hezekiah's reign in Judah (2 Kings 11-17). And, lastly, the third part contains the history of the kingdom of Judah from Hezekiah to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldaeans, and carries it down to the thirty-seventh year of the imprisonment of king Jehoiachin in exile (2 Kings 18-25).
Now, although the history of the kings, or the account of both the duration and character of their reigns, and also of their various enterprises, so far as they promoted or hindered the progress of the kingdom of God, forms the principal substance of these books, they do not consist of a mere chronicle of the deeds and fortunes of the several kings, but describe at the same time the ministry of the prophets in the two kingdoms, and that to some extent in so elaborate a manner, that whilst some have discovered in this a peculiarly "prophetico-didactic purpose" (Hvernick, De Wette, etc.), others regard it as an endeavour "to set forth the history of the Israelitish and Jewish kings in its relation to the demands, the doings, the proclamations, and the predictions of the prophets, from Solomon to the Babylonian exile" (Kern). But however unmistakable the prophetico-didactic character may be, which the books of Kings have in common with the whole of the historical writings of the Old Testament, a closer investigation of their character will show that there is no ground for the assertion that there is any prophetico-didactic purpose in the mode in which the history is written. For the account of the ministry of the prophets is introduced into the history of the kings as the spiritual leaven which pervaded the Israelitish monarchy from the beginning to the end, and stamped upon its development the character of the theocracy or divine rule in Israel. Jehovah, as the invisible but yet real King of the covenant nation, had created the peculiar instruments of His Spirit in the prophets who maintained His law and right before the kings, standing by their side to advise and direct, or to warn and punish, and, wherever it was necessary, proving their utterances to be words of God by signs and wonders which they did before the people. Thus the Lord directed the prophet Samuel to anoint Saul and David princes over His people, and the prophet Nathan to communicate to David the promise of the everlasting endurance of his throne (2 Samuel 7). But when at a later period David sinned (2 Samuel 11 and 24), it was the prophets Nathan and Gad who threatened him with punishment from God, and on his confession of sin and repentance announced the forgiveness and favour of God (2 Samuel 12:1-15; 2 Samuel 24:11-19). Through the medium of the prophet Nathan, Solomon was also appointed the successor of David upon the throne (2 Samuel 12:25), and not only anointed king, but installed in defiance of the machinations of Adonijah (1 Kings 1). But since the monarchy was transmitted from Solomon in a direct line through his descendants by virtue of the divine promise in 2 Samuel 7, it is only in connection with important enterprises, or when the kingdom is involved in difficulties, that we find the prophets coming forward in after times to help or advise those kings who walked in the ways of the Lord; whereas under the idolatrous and godless rulers they offer, in the power of God, such energetic resistance to idolatry and to everything evil and ungodly, that princes and people are compelled to bow before them and succumb to their divine words. In this way the prophets accompanied the monarchy in all its course from Solomon to the Captivity as guardians of the rights of the God-King, and as interpreters of His counsel and will. Under Solomon, indeed, there was apparently a long period, during which prophecy fell into the background; since the Lord Himself not only appeared to this king in a dream at Gibeon shortly after he ascended the throne, but also appeared to him a second time after the dedication of the temple, and promised him the fulfilment of his prayers, and the glorification and eternal continuance of his kingdom, on condition of his faithful observance of the divine commands (1 Kings 3:5., 1 Kings 9:1.). But towards the end of his reign it rose up again in all the more threatening attitude, against the king who was then disposed to fall away from Jehovah. It was no doubt a prophet who announced to him the separation of ten parts of his kingdom (1 Kings 11:11.)-possibly the same Ahijah who promised Jeroboam the government over ten tribes (1 Kings 11:29.). But after the division of the kingdom, when Jeroboam proceeded, in order to fortify his throne, to make the political division into a religious one, and to this end exalted the image-worship into the state religion, the prophets continued to denounce this apostasy and proclaim to the sinful kings the destruction of their dynasties. And when at a still later period Ahab the son of Omri, and his wife Jezebel, endeavoured to make the Phoenician worship of Baal and Asherah into the national religion in Israel, Elijah the Tishbite, "the prophet as fire, whose words burned as a torch" (Ecclus. 48:1), came forward with the irresistible power of God and maintained a victorious conflict against the prophets and servants of Baal, warding off the utter apostasy of the nation by uniting the prophets into societies, in which the worship of God was maintained, and the godly in Israel were supplied with a substitute for that legal worship in the temple which was enjoyed by the godly in Judah. And in the kingdom of Judah also where were never wanting prophets to announce the judgments of the Lord to idolatrous kings, and to afford a vigorous support to the pious and God-fearing rulers in their endeavours to promote the religious life of the nation, and to exalt the public worship of God in the temple. But since the kingdom of Judah possessed the true sanctuary, with the legal worship and an influential body of priests and Levites; and since, moreover, the monarchy of the house of David was firmly established by divine promises resting upon that house, and among the kings who sat upon the throne, from Rehoboam onwards, there were many godly rulers who were distinguished for their lofty virtues as governors; the labours of the prophets did not assume the same prominent importance here as they did in the kingdom of the ten bribes, where they had to fight against idolatry from the beginning to the end.
This explains the fact that the ministry of the prophets assumes so prominent a position in the books of the Kings, whereas the history of the kings appears sometimes to fall into the background in comparison. Nevertheless the historical development of the monarchy, or, to express it more correctly, of the kingdom of God under the kings, forms the true subject-matter of our books. It was not a prophetico-didactic purpose, but the prophetico-historical point of view, which prevailed throughout the whole work, and determined the reception as well as the treatment of the historical materials. The progressive development of the kingdom was predicted and described by the Lord Himself in the promise communicated to David by the prophet Nathan: "And when thy days shall be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name; and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his Father, and he shall be my son, that if he go astray, I may chasten him with man's rod, and with stripes of the children of men; but my mercy will not depart from him, as I caused it to depart from Saul, whom I put away before thee. And thy house and thy kingdom shall be for ever before thee, thy throne will be established for ever" (2 Samuel 7:12-16). This thoroughly glorious promise forms the red thread which runs through the history of the kings from Solomon to the Babylonian captivity, and constitutes the leading idea in the record of this history in our books. The author's intention is to show in the history of the kings how the Lord fulfilled this gracious word, how He first of all chastised the seed of David for its transgressions, and then cast it off, though not for ever. To this end he shows in the history of Solomon, how, notwithstanding the usurpation of the throne attempted by Adonijah, Solomon received the whole of his father's kingdom, as the seed of David promised by the Lord, and established his power; how the Lord at the very beginning of his reign renewed to him at Gibeon the promise made to his father on the condition of his faithful observance of His law, and in answer to his prayer gave him not only a wise and understanding heart, but also riches and honour, so that his equal was not to be found among all the kings of the earth (1 Kings 1:1-5:14); how Solomon then carried out the work of building the temple, entrusted to him by his father according to the will of the Lord; and how, after it was finished, the Lord again assured him of the fulfilment of that promise (1 Kings 5:15-9:9); and, lastly, how Solomon, having attained to the highest earthly glory, through the completion of the rest of his buildings, through the great renown of his wisdom, which had reached to nations afar off, and through his great riches, acquired partly by marine commerce and trade, and partly from tributes and presents, forgot his God, who had bestowed this glory upon him, and in his old age was led astray into unfaithfulness towards the Lord through his numerous foreign wives, and had at last to listen to this sentence from God: "Because thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and give it to thy servant: notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it, for David thy father's said; but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son. Howbeit I will not rend away all thy kingdom; but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant's sake, and for Jerusalem's sake which I have chosen" (1 Kings 9:10-11:13). Thus, because God had promised to the seed of David the eternal possession of the throne (2 Samuel 7:12.), one portion of the kingdom was to be left to the son of Solomon, with the chosen city of Jerusalem, and his servant (Jeroboam, 1 Kings 11:26-40) was only to obtain dominion over ten tribes. The historical realization of this prophecy is shown in the history of the two divided kingdoms.
In the synchronistic account of these kingdoms, according to the principle already adopted in the book of Genesis, of disposing of the subordinate lines of the patriarchs before proceeding with the main line, the reigns of the kings of Israel are described before those of the contemporaneous kings of Judah, and to some extent in a more elaborate manner. The reason of this, however, is, that the history of the kingdom of Israel, in which one dynasty overthrew another, whilst all the rulers walked in the sin of Jeroboam, and Ahab even added the worship of Baal to that sin, supplied the author with more materials for the execution of his plan than that of the kingdom of Judah, which had a much quieter development under the rule of the house of David, and of which, therefore, there was less to relate. Apart from this, all the events of the kingdom of Judah which are of any importance in relation to the progress of the kingdom of God, are just as elaborately described as those connected with the kingdom of Israel; and the author does equal justice to both kingdoms, showing how the Lord manifested Himself equally to both, and bore with them with divine long-suffering and grace. But the proof of this necessarily assumed different forms, according to the different attitudes which they assumed towards the Lord. Jeroboam, the founder of the kingdom of Israel, when told that he would be king over the ten tribes, had received the promise that Jehovah would be with him, and build him a lasting house as He built for David, and give Israel to him, on condition that he would walk in the ways of God (1 Kings 11:37-38). This implied that his descendants would rule over Israel (of the ten tribes) so long as this kingdom should stand; for it was not to last for ever, but the separation would come to an end, and therefore he is not promised the everlasting continuance of his kingdom (see at 1 Kings 11:38). But Jeroboam did not fulfil this condition, nor did any of the rulers of Israel who succeeded him. Nevertheless the Lord had patience with the kings and tribes who were unfaithful to His law, and not only warned them continually by His prophets, and chastised them by threats of punishment and by the fulfilment of those threats upon the kings and all the people, but repeatedly manifested His favour towards them for the sake of His covenant with Abraham (2 Kings 13:23), to lead them to repentance-until the time of grace had expired, when the sinful kingdom fell and the ten tribes were carried away to Media and Assyria. - In the kingdom of David, on the contrary, the succession to the throne was promised to the house of David for all time: therefore, although the Lord caused those who were rebellious to be chastised by hostile nations, yet, for His servant David's sake, He left a light shining to the royal house, since He did not punish the kings who were addicted to idolatry with the extermination of their family (1 Kings 15:4; 2 Kings 8:19); and even when the wicked Athaliah destroyed all the royal seed, He caused Joash, the infant son of Ahaziah, to be saved and raised to the throne of his fathers (2 Kings 11). Consequently this kingdom was able to survive that of the ten tribes for an entire period, just because it possessed a firm political basis in the uninterrupted succession of the Davidic house, as it also possessed a spiritual basis of no less firmness in the temple which the Lord had sanctified as the place where His name was revealed. After it had been brought to the verge of destruction by the godless Ahaz, it received in Hezekiah a king who did what was right in the eyes of Jehovah, as his father David had done, and in the severe oppression which he suffered at the hands of the powerful army of the proud Sennacherib, took refuge in the Lord, who protected and saved Jerusalem, "for His own and His servant David's sake," at the prayer of the pious king of Jerusalem (2 Kings 19:34; 2 Kings 20:6). But when at length, throughout the long reign of Manasseh the idolater, apostasy and moral corruption prevailed to such an extent in Judah also, that even the pious Josiah, with the reformation of religion which he carried out with the greatest zeal, could only put down the outward worship of idols, and was unable to effect any thorough conversion of the people to the Lord their God, and the Lord as the Holy One of Israel was obliged to declare His purpose of rejecting Judah from before His face on account of the sins of Manasseh, and to cause that purpose to be executed by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 23:26-27; 2 Kings 24:3-4); Jehoiachin was led away captive to Babylon, and under Zedekiah the kingdom was destroyed with the burning of Jerusalem and the temple. Yet the Lord did not suffer the light to be altogether extinguished to His servant David; but when Jehoiachin had pined in captivity at Babylon for thirty-seven years, expiating his own and his fathers' sins, he was liberated from his captivity by Nebuchadnezzar's son, and raised to honour once more (2 Kings 25:27-30). - The account of this joyful change in the condition of Jehoiachin, with which the books of the Kings close, forms so essential a part of their author's plan, that without this information the true conclusion to his work would be altogether wanting. For this event shed upon the dark night of the captivity the first ray of a better future, which was to dawn upon the seed of David, and with it upon the whole nation in its eventual redemption from Babylon, and was also a pledge of the certain fulfilment of the promise that the Lord would not for ever withdraw His favour from the seed of David.
(Note: Sthelin makes the following remark in his Einleitung (p.122): "The books of the Kings form an antithesis to the history of David. As the latter shows how obedience to God and to the utterances of His prophets is rewarded, and how, even when Jehovah is obliged to punish, He makes known His grace again in answer to repentance; so do the books of the Kings, which relate the overthrow of both the Hebrew states, teach, through the history of these two kingdoms, how glorious promises are thrown back and dynasties fall in consequence of the conduct of individual men (compare 1 Kings 11:38 with 1 Kings 14:10, and still more with 2 Kings 21:10. and 2 Kings 23:27). The sins of one man like Manasseh are sufficient to neutralize all the promises that have been given to the house of David." There is no need to refute this erroneous statement, since it only rests upon a misinterpretation of 2 Kings 21:10., and completely misses the idea which runs through both books of the Kings; and, moreover, there is no contradiction between the manifestation of divine mercy towards penitent sinners and the punishment of men according to their deeds.)
Thus the books of the Kings bring down the history of the Old Testament kingdom of God, according to the divine plan of the kingdom indicated in 2 Samuel 7, from the close of David's reign to the captivity; and the fact that in 1 Kings 1:1 they are formally attached to the books of Samuel is an indication that they are a continuation of those books. Nevertheless there is no doubt that they formed from the very first a separate work, the independence and internal unity of which are apparent from the uniformity of the treatment of the history as well as from the unity of the language. From beginning to end the author quotes from his original sources, for the most part with certain standing formulas; in all important events he gives the chronology carefully (1 Kings 6:1, 1 Kings 6:37-38; 1 Kings 7:1; 1 Kings 9:10; 1 Kings 11:42; 1 Kings 14:20-21, 1 Kings 14:25; 1 Kings 15:1-2, 1 Kings 15:9-10, etc.); he judges the conduct of the kings throughout according to the standard of the law of Moses (1 Kings 2:3; 1 Kings 3:14; 2 Kings 10:31; 2 Kings 11:12; 2 Kings 14:6; 2 Kings 17:37; 2 Kings 18:6; 2 Kings 21:8; 2 Kings 22:8., 2 Kings 23:3, 2 Kings 23:21, etc.); and he nearly always employs the same expressions when describing the commencement, the character, and the close of each reign, as well as the death and burial of the kings (compare 1 Kings 11:43; 1 Kings 14:20, 1 Kings 14:31; 1 Kings 15:8, 1 Kings 15:24; 1 Kings 22:51; 2 Kings 8:24; 2 Kings 13:9; 2 Kings 14:29; and for the characteristics of the several kings of Judah, 1 Kings 15:3, 1 Kings 15:11; 1 Kings 22:43; 2 Kings 12:3; 2 Kings 14:3; 2 Kings 15:3, etc.; and for those of the kings of Israel, 1 Kings 14:8; 1 Kings 15:26, 1 Kings 15:34; 1 Kings 16:19, 1 Kings 16:26, 1 Kings 16:30; 1 Kings 22:53; 2 Kings 3:2-3; 2 Kings 10:29, 2 Kings 10:31; 2 Kings 13:2, 2 Kings 13:11, etc.). And so, again, the language of the books remains uniform in every part of the work, if we except certain variations occasioned by the differences in the sources employed; since we find throughout isolated expressions and forms of a later date, and words traceable to the Assyrian and Chaldaean epoch, such as כּר for חמר in 1 Kings 5:11; צדנין in 1 Kings 11:33; רצין in 2 Kings 11:13; מדינות in 1 Kings 20:14-15, 1 Kings 20:17, 1 Kings 20:19; קבל in 2 Kings 15:10; החילים שׂרי in 1 Kings 15:20; 2 Kings 25:23, 2 Kings 25:26; טבּחים רב in 2 Kings 25:8; פּחה in 1 Kings 10:15; 1 Kings 20:24; 2 Kings 18:24; and many others, which do not occur in the earlier historical books. - The books of the Kings are essentially distinguished from the books of Samuel through these characteristic peculiarities; but not so much through the quotations which are so prominent in the historical narrative, for these are common to all the historical books of the Old Testament, and are only more conspicuous in these books, especially in the history of the kings of the two kingdoms, because in the case of all the kings, even of those in relation to whom there was nothing to record of any importance to the kingdom of God except the length and general characteristics of their reign, there are notices of the writings which contain further information concerning their reigns. - The unity of authorship is therefore generally admitted, since, as De Wette himself acknowledges, "you cannot anywhere clearly detect the interpolation or combination of different accounts." The direct and indirect contradictions, however, which Thenius imagines that he has discovered, prove to be utterly fallacious on a closer inspection of the passages cited as proofs, and could only have been obtained through misinterpretations occasioned by erroneous assumptions. (See, on the other hand, my Lehrbuch der Einleitung in das A. T. p. 184ff.)
All that can be determined with certainty in relation to the origin of the books of Kings is, that they were composed in the second half of the Babylonian captivity, and before its close, since they bring the history down to that time, and yet contain no allusion to the deliverance of the people out of Babylon. The author was a prophet living in the Babylonian exile, though not the prophet Jeremiah, as the earlier theologians down to Hvernick have assumed from the notice in the Talmud (Baba bathra, f. 15, 1): Jeremias scripsit librum suum et librum Regum et Threnos. For even apart from the fact that Jeremiah ended his days in Egypt, he could hardly have survived the last event recorded in our books, namely, the liberation of Jehoiachin from prison, and his exaltation to royal honours by Evil-merodach. For inasmuch as this event occurred sixty-six years after his call to be a prophet, in the thirteenth year of Josiah, he would have been eighty-six years old in the thirty-seventh year after Jehoiachin had been carried away into exile, even if he had commenced his prophetic career when only a young man of twenty years of age. Now, even if he had reached this great age, he would surely not have composed our books at a later period still. Moreover, all that has been adduced in support of this is seen to be inconclusive on closer inspection. The similarity in the linguistic character of our books and that of the writings of Jeremiah, the sombre view of history which is common to the two, the preference apparent in both for phrases taken from the Pentateuch, and the allusions to earlier prophecies-all these peculiarities may be explained, so far as they really exist, partly from the fact that they were written in the same age, since all the writers of the time of the captivity and afterwards cling very closely to the Pentateuch and frequently refer to the law of Moses, and partly also from the circumstance that, whilst Jeremiah was well acquainted with the original sources of our books, viz., the annals of the kingdom of Judah, the author of our books was also well acquainted with the prophecies of Jeremiah. But the relation between 2 Kings 24:18. and Jer is not of such a nature, that these two accounts of the destruction of Jerusalem and the carrying away of the remnant of the people could have emanated from the hand of Jeremiah; on the contrary, a closer inspection clearly shows that they are extracts from a more elaborate description of this catastrophe (see at 2 Kings 24:18.).
As sources from which the author has obtained his accounts, there are mentioned, for the history of Solomon, a שּׁלמה דּברי ספר, or book of the acts (affairs) of Solomon (1 Kings 11:41); for the history of the kings of Judah, יהוּדה למלכי הימים דּברי ספר, book of the daily occurrences of the kings of Judah (1 Kings 14:29; 1 Kings 15:7, 1 Kings 15:23; 1 Kings 22:46; 2 Kings 8:23; 2 Kings 12:20, etc.); and for that of the kings of Israel, ישׂראל למלכי הימים דּברי ספר, book of the daily occurrences of the kings of Israel (1 Kings 14:19; 1 Kings 15:31; 1 Kings 16:5, 1 Kings 16:14, 1 Kings 16:20, 1 Kings 16:27; 1 Kings 22:39; 2 Kings 1:18). These are quoted as writings in which more is written concerning the life, the deeds, and the particular undertakings, buildings and so forth, of the several kings. The two last-named works were evidently general annals of the kingdoms: not, indeed, the national archives of the two kingdoms, or official records made by the מזכּירים of the reigns and acts of the kings, as Jahn, Movers, Sthelin, and others suppose; but annals composed by prophets, and compiled partly from the public year-books of the kingdom or the national archives, and partly from prophetic monographs and collections of prophecies, which reached in the kingdom of Israel down to the time of Pekah (2 Kings 15:31), and in that of Judah to the time of Jehoiakim (2 Kings 24:5). Moreover, they were not written successively by different prophets, who followed one another, and so carried on the work in uninterrupted succession from the rise of the two kingdoms to the death of the two kings mentioned; but they had been worked out into a "Book of the history of the times of the Kings" for each of the two kingdoms, a short time before the overthrow of the kingdom of Judah, by collecting together the most important things that had been written both concerning the reigns of the several kings by annalists and other historians who were contemporaneous with the events, and also concerning the labours of the prophets, which were deeply interwoven with the course of public affairs, whether composed by themselves or by their contemporaries. And in this finished form they lay before the author of our work. This view of the annals of the kingdoms of Judah and Israel follows unquestionably from the agreement which exists between our books of the Kings and the second book of the Chronicles, in the accounts common to both, and which can only be explained from the fact that they were drawn from one and the same source. But in the Chronicles there are different writings of individual prophets quoted, beside the day-books of the kings of Judah and Israel; and it is expressly stated in relation to some of them that they were received into the annals of the kings (compare 2 Chronicles 20:34 and 2 Chronicles 32:32, and the Introduction to the books of the Chronicles). Moreover, there are no historical traces of public annalists to be found in the kingdom of the ten tribes, and their existence is by no means probable, on account of the constant change of dynasties. The fact, however, that the frequently recurring formula "to this day" (1 Kings 9:13; 1 Kings 10:12; 2 Kings 2:22; 2 Kings 10:27; 2 Kings 14:7; 2 Kings 16:6; 2 Kings 17:23, 2 Kings 17:34, 2 Kings 17:41; 2 Kings 20:17; 2 Kings 21:15) never refers to the time of the captivity, except in the passages enclosed in brackets, but always to the time of the existing kingdom of Judah, and that it cannot therefore have emanated from the author of our books of the Kings, but can only have been taken from the sources employed, is a proof that these annals of the kingdom were composed towards the close of the kingdom of Judah; and this is placed beyond all doubt, by the fact that this formula is also found in many passages of the books of the Chronicles (compare 1 Kings 8:8 with 2 Chronicles 5:9; 1 Kings 9:21 with 2 Chronicles 8:8; 1 Kings 12:19 with 2 Chronicles 10:19; and 2 Kings 8:22 with 2 Chronicles 21:10). - In a similar manner to this must we explain the origin of the שּׁלמה דּברי ספר, since three prophetic writings are quoted in 1 Chronicles 29:29 in connection with Solomon's reign, and their account agrees in all essential points with the account in the books of the Kings. Nevertheless this "history of Solomon" never formed a component part of the annals of the two kingdoms, and was certainly written much earlier. - The assumption that there were other sources still, is not only sustained by no historical evidence, but has no certain support in the character or contents of the writings before us. If the annals quoted were works composed by prophets, the elaborate accounts of the working of the prophets Elijah and Elisha might also have been included in them. - Again, in the constant allusion to these annals we have a sure pledge of the historical fidelity of the accounts that have been taken from them. If in his work the author followed writings which were composed by prophets, and also referred his readers to these writings, which were known and accessible to his contemporaries, for further information, he must have been conscious of the faithful and conscientious employment of them. And this natural conclusion is in harmony with the contents of our books. The life and actions of the kings are judged with unfettered candour and impartiality, according to the standard of the law of God; and there is no more concealment of the idolatry to which the highly renowned Solomon was led astray by his foreign wives, than of that which was right in the eyes of God, when performed by the kings of the ten tribes, which had fallen away from the house of David. Even in the case of the greatest prophet of all, namely Elijah, the weakness of his faith in being afraid of the vain threats of the wicked Jezebel is related just as openly as his courageous resistance, in the strength of the Lord, to Ahab and the prophets of Baal. - Compare my Einleitung in das Alte Test. 56-60, where adverse views are examined and the commentaries are also noticed.
The Book of 1Kings
I. History Of Solomon's Reign - 1 Kings 1-11.
David had not only established the monarchy upon a firm basis, but had also exalted the Old Testament kingdom of God to such a height of power, that all the kingdoms round about wee obliged to bow before it. This kingdom was transmitted by divine appointment to his son Solomon, in whose reign Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand by the sea-shore, and dwelt in security, every man under his vine and under his fig-tree (1 Kings 4:20; 1 Kings 5:5). The history of this reign commences with the account of the manner in which Solomon had received the kingdom from his father, and had established his own rule by the fulfilment of his last will and by strict righteousness (1 Kings 1 and 2). Then follows in 1 Kings 3-10 the description of the glory of his kingdom, how the Lord, in answer to his prayer at Gibeon, not only gave him an understanding heart to judge his people, but also wisdom, riches, and honour, so that his equal was not to be found among the kings of the earth; and through his wise rule, more especially through the erection of the house of Jehovah and of a splendid royal palace, he developed the glory of the kingdom of God to such an extent that his fame penetrated to remote nations. The conclusion, in 1 Kings 11, consists of the account of Solomon's sin in his old age, viz., his falling into idolatry, whereby he brought about the decay of the kingdom, which manifested itself during the closing years of his reign in the rising up of opponents, and at his death in the falling away of ten tribes from his son Rehoboam. But notwithstanding this speedy decay, the glory of Solomon's kingdom is elaborately depicted on account of the typical significance which it possessed in relation to the kingdom of God. Just as, for example, the successful wars of David with all the enemies of Israel were a prelude to the eventual victory of the kingdom of God over all the kingdoms of this world; so was the peaceful rule of Solomon to shadow forth the glory and blessedness which awaited the people of God, after a period of strife and conflict, under the rule of Shiloh the Prince of peace, whom Jacob saw in spirit, and who would increase government and peace without end upon the throne of David and in his kingdom (Isaiah 9:5-6; Psalm 72:1).
Anointing And Accession Of Solomon - 1 Kings 1
The attempt of Adonijah to seize upon the throne when David's strength was failing (1 Kings 1:1-10), induced the aged king, as soon as it was announced to him by Bathsheba and the prophet Nathan, to order Solomon to be anointed king, and to have the anointing carried out (vv. 11-40); whereupon Adonijah fled to the altar, and received pardon from Solomon on condition that he would keep himself quiet (1 Kings 1:41-53).
Now king David was old and stricken in years; and they covered him with clothes, but he gat no heat.When king David had become so old that they could no longer warm him by covering him with clothes, his servants advised him to increase his vitality by lying with a young and robust virgin, and selected the beautiful Abishag of Shunem to perform this service. This circumstance, which is a trivial one in itself, is only mentioned on account of what follows - first, because it shows that David had become too weak from age, and too destitute of energy, to be able to carry on the government any longer; and, secondly, because Adonijah the pretender afterwards forfeited his life through asking for Abishag in marriage. - The opening of our book, והמּלך (and the King), may be explained from the fact that the account which follows has been taken from a writing containing the earlier history of David, and that the author of these books retained the Vav cop. which he found there, for the purpose of showing at the outset that his work was a continuation of the books of Samuel. בּיּמים בּא זקן as in Joshua 13:1; Joshua 23:1; Genesis 24:1, etc. "They covered him with clothes, and he did not get warm." It follows from this that the king was bedridden, or at least that when lying down he could no longer be kept warm with bed-clothes. בּגדים does not mean clothes to wear here, but large cloths, which were used as bed-clothes, as in 1 Samuel 19:13 and Numbers 4:6. יחם is used impersonally, and derived from חמם, cf. Ewald, 193, b., and 138, b. As David was then in his seventieth year, this decrepitude was not the natural result of extreme old age, but the consequence of a sickly constitution, arising out of the hardships which he had endured in his agitated and restless life. The proposal of his servants, to restore the vital warmth which he had lost by bringing a virgin to lie with him, is recommended as an experiment by Galen (Method. medic. viii. 7). And it has been an acknowledged fact with physicians of all ages, that departing vitality may be preserved and strengthened by communicating the vital warmth of strong and youthful persons (compare Trusen, Sitten Gebruche u. Krankheiten der Hebrer, p. 257ff.). The singular suffix in לאדני is to be explained on the ground that one person spoke. בתוּלה נערה, a maid who is a virgin. לפני עמד, to stand before a person as servant equals to serve (cf. Deuteronomy 1:38 with Exodus 24:13). סכנת, an attendant or nurse, from סכן equals שׁכן, to live with a person, then to be helpful or useful to him. With the words "that she may lie in thy bosom," the passage passes, as is frequently the case, from the third person to a direct address.
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.
So they sought for a fair damsel throughout all the coasts of Israel, and found Abishag a Shunammite, and brought her to the king.They then looked about for a beautiful girl for this purpose, and found Abishag of Shunem, the present Sulem or Solam, at the south-eastern foot of the Duhy of Little Hermon (see at Joshua 19:18), who became the king's nurse and waited upon him. The further remark, "and the king knew her not," is not introduced either to indicate the impotence of David or to show that she did not become David's concubine, but simply to explain how it was that it could possibly occur to Adonijah (1 Kings 2:17) to ask for her as his wife. Moreover, the whole affair is to be judged according to the circumstances of the times, when there was nothing offensive in polygamy.
And the damsel was very fair, and cherished the king, and ministered to him: but the king knew her not.
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.Adonijah seized the opportunity of David's decrepitude to make himself king. Although he was David's fourth son (2 Samuel 3:4), yet after the death of Ammon and Absalom he was probably the eldest, as Chileab, David's second son, had most likely died when a child, since he is never mentioned again. Adonijah therefore thought that he had a claim to the throne (cf. 1 Kings 2:15), and wanted to secure it before his father's death. But in Israel, Jehovah, the God-King of His people, had reserved to Himself the choice of the earthly king (Deuteronomy 17:15), and this right He exercised not only in the case of Saul and David, but in that of Solomon also. When He gave to David the promise that his seed should rule for ever (2 Samuel 7:12-16), He did not ensure the establishment of the throne to any one of his existing sons, but to him that would come out of his loins (i.e., to Solomon, who was not yet born); and after his birth He designated him through the prophet Nathan as the beloved of Jehovah (2 Samuel 12:24-25). David discerned from this that the Lord had chosen Solomon to be his successor, and he gave to Bathsheba a promise on oath that Solomon should sit upon the throne (1 Kings 1:13 and 1 Kings 1:30). This promise was also acknowledged in the presence of Nathan (1 Kings 1:11.), and certainly came to Adonijah's ears. Adonijah said, "I will be king," and procured chariots and horsemen and fifty runners, as Absalom had done before (2 Samuel 15:1). רכב, in a collective sense, does not mean fighting or war chariots, but state carriages, like מרכּבה in 2 Samuel 15:1; and פּרשׁים are neither riding nor carriage horses, but riders to form an escort whenever he drove out.
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."And ( equals for) his father had never troubled him in his life (מיּמיו, a diebus ejus, i.e., his whole life long), saying, "Why hast thou done this?" Such weak oversight on the part of his father encouraged him to make the present attempt. Moreover, he "was very beautiful," like Absalom (see at 2 Samuel 14:25), and born after Absalom, so that after his death he appeared to have the nearest claim to the throne. The subject to ילדה is left indefinite, because it is implied in the idea of the verb itself: "she bare," i.e., his mother, as in Numbers 26:59 (vid., Ewald, 294, b.). There was no reason for mentioning the mother expressly by name, as there was nothing depending upon the name here, and it had already been given in Numbers 26:5.
And he conferred with Joab the son of Zeruiah, and with Abiathar the priest: and they following Adonijah helped him.He conferred (for the expression, compare 2 Samuel 3:17) with Joab and Abiathar the priest, who supported him. אהרי עזר, to lend a helping hand to a person, i.e., to support him by either actually joining him or taking his part. Joab joined the pretender, because he had fallen out with David for a considerable time (cf. 1 Kings 2:5-6), and hoped to secure his influence with the new king if he helped him to obtain possession of the throne. But what induced Abiathar the high priest (see at 2 Samuel 8:17) to join in conspiracy with Adonijah, we do not know. Possibly jealousy of Zadok, and the fear that under Solomon he might be thrown still more into the shade. For although Zadok was only high priest at the tabernacle at Gibeon, he appears to have taken the lead; as we may infer from the fact that he is always mentioned before Abiathar (cf. 2 Samuel 8:17; 2 Samuel 20:25, and 2 Samuel 15:24.). For we cannot imagine that Joab and Abiathar had supported Adonijah as having right on his side (Thenius), for the simple reason that Joab did not trouble himself about right, and for his own part shrank from no crime, when he thought that he had lost favour with the king.
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.If Adonijah had powerful supporters in Joab the commander-in-chief and the high priest Abiathar, the rest of the leading officers of state, viz., Zadok the high priest (see at 2 Samuel 8:17), Benaiah, captain of the king's body-guard (see at 2 Samuel 8:18 and 2 Samuel 23:20-21), the prophet Nathan, Shimei (probably the son of Elah mentioned in 1 Kings 4:18), and Rei (unknown), and the Gibborim of David (see at 2 Samuel 23:8.), were not with him.
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:Adonijah commenced his usurpation, like Absalom (2 Samuel 15:2), with a solemn sacrificial meal, at which he was proclaimed king, "at the stone of Zocheleth by the side of the fountain of Rogel," i.e., the spy's fountain, or, according to the Chaldee and Syriac, the fuller's fountain, the present fountain of Job or Nehemiah, below the junction of the valley of Hinnom with the valley of Jehoshaphat (see at 2 Samuel 7:17 and Joshua 15:7). E. G. Schultz (Jerusalem, eine Vorlesung, p. 79) supposes the stone or rock of Zocheleth to be "the steep, rocky corner of the southern slope of the valley of Hinnom, which casts so deep a shade." "The neighbourhood (Wady el Rubb) is still a place of recreation for the inhabitants of Jerusalem." To this festal meal Adonijah invited all his brethren except Solomon, and "all the men of Judah, the king's servants," i.e., all the Judaeans who were in the king's service, i.e., were serving at court as being members of his own tribe, with the exception of Nathan the prophet, Benaiah, and the Gibborim. The fact that Solomon and the others mentioned were not included in the invitation, showed very clearly that Adonijah was informed of Solomon's election as successor to the throne, and was also aware of the feelings of Nathan and Benaiah.
But Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah, and the mighty men, and Solomon his brother, he called not.
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?Adonijah's attempt was frustrated by the vigilance of the prophet Nathan.
Nathan informed Solomon's mother, Bathsheba (see at 2 Samuel 11:3), that Adonijah was making himself king (מלך כּי, that he had become as good as king: Thenius), and advised her, in order to save her life and that of her son Solomon (וּמלטי, and save equals so that thou mayest save; cf. Ewald, 347, a.), to go to the king and remind him of his promise on oath, that her son Solomon should be king after him, and to inquire why Adonijah had become king. If Adonijah had really got possession of the throne, he would probably have put Solomon and his mother out of the way, according to the barbarous custom of the East, as his political opponents.
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.
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?
Behold, while thou yet talkest there with the king, I also will come in after thee, and confirm thy words.While she was still talking to the king, he (Nathan) would come in after her and confirm her words. דּבר מלּא, to make a word full, i.e., not to supply what is wanting, but to make full, like πληροῦν, either to fill by accomplishing, or (as in this case) to confirm it by similar assertion.
And Bathsheba went in unto the king into the chamber: and the king was very old; and Abishag the Shunammite ministered unto the king.Bathsheba followed this advice, and went to the king into the inner chamber (החדרה), since the very aged king, who was waited upon by Abishag, could not leave his room (משׁרת for משׁרתת; cf. Ewald, 188, b., p. 490), and, bowing low before him, communicated to him what Adonijah had taken in hand in opposition to his will and without his knowledge. The second ועתּה is not to be altered into ואתּה, inasmuch as it is supported by the oldest codices and the Masora,
(Note: Kimchi says: "Plures scribae errant in hoc verbo, scribentes ואתה cum Aleph, quia sensui hoc conformius est; sed constat nobis ex correctis MSS et masora, scribendum esse ועתה cum Ain." Hence both Norzi and Bruns have taken ועתה under their protection.Compare de Rossi, variae lectt. ad h. l.)
although about two hundred codd. contain the latter reading. The repetition of ועתּה ("And now, behold, Adonijah has become king; and now, my lord king, thou knowest it not") may be explained from the energy with which Bathsheba speaks. "And Solomon thy servant he hath not invited" (1 Kings 1:19). Bathsheba added this, not because she felt herself injured, but as a sign of Adonijah's feelings towards Solomon, which showed that he had reason to fear the worst if Adonijah should succeed in his usurpation of the throne. In 1 Kings 1:20, again, many codd. have ועתּה in the place of ואתּה; and Thenius, after his usual fashion, pronounces the former the "only correct" reading, because it is apparently a better one. But here also the appearance is deceptive. The antithesis to what Adonijah has already done is brought out quite suitably by ואתּה: Adonijah has made himself king, etc.; but thou my lord king must decide in the matter. "The eyes of all Israel are turned towards thee, to tell them who (whether Adonijah or Solomon) is to sit upon the throne after thee." "The decision of this question is in thy hand, for the people have not yet attached themselves to Adonijah, but are looking to thee, to see what thou wilt do; and they will follow thy judgment, if thou only hastenest to make Solomon king." - Seb. Schmidt. To secure this decision, Bathsheba refers again, in 1 Kings 1:21, to the fate which would await both herself and her son Solomon after the death of the king. They would be הטּאים, i.e., guilty of a capital crime. "We should be punished as though guilty of high treason" (Clericus).
And Bathsheba bowed, and did obeisance unto the king. And the king said, What wouldest thou?
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.
And now, behold, Adonijah reigneth; and now, my lord the king, thou 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.
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.
And, lo, while she yet talked with the king, Nathan the prophet also came in.While Bathsheba was still speaking, Nathan came. When he was announced to the king, Bathsheba retired, just as afterwards Nathan went away when the king had Bathsheba called in again (cf. 1 Kings 1:28 with 1 Kings 1:32). This was done, not to avoid the appearance of a mutual arrangement (Cler., Then., etc.), but for reasons of propriety, inasmuch as, in audiences granted by the king to his wife or one of his counsellors, no third person ought to be present unless the king required his attendance. Nathan confirmed Bathsheba's statement, commencing thus: "My lord king, thou hast really said, Adonijah shall be king after me...? for he has gone down to-day, and has prepared a feast, ... and they are eating and drinking before him, and saying, Long live king Adonijah!" And he then closed by asking, "Has this taken place on the part of my lord the king, and thou hast not shown thy servants (Nathan, Zadok, Benaiah, and Solomon) who is to sit upon the throne of my lord the king after him?" The indirect question introduced with אם is not merely an expression of modesty, but also of doubt, whether what had occurred had emanated from the king and he had not shown it to his servants.
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?
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.
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?
Then king David answered and said, Call me Bathsheba. And she came into the king's presence, and stood before the king.The king then sent for Bathsheba again, and gave her this promise on oath: "As truly as Jehovah liveth, who hath redeemed my soul out of all distress (as in 2 Samuel 4:9), yea, as I swore to thee by Jehovah, the God of Israel, saying, Solomon thy son shall be king after me, ... yea, so shall I do this day." The first and third כּי serve to give emphasis to the assertion, like imo, yea (cf. Ewald, 330, b.). The second merely serves as an introduction to the words.
And the king sware, and said, As the LORD liveth, that hath redeemed my soul out of all distress,
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.
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.Bathsheba then left the king with the deepest prostration and the utterance of a blessing, as an expression of her inmost gratitude. The benedictory formula, "May the king live for ever," was only used by the Israelites on occasions of special importance; whereas the Babylonians and ancient Persians constantly addressed their kings in this way (cf. Daniel 2:4; Daniel 3:9; Daniel 5:10; Daniel 6:22; Nehemiah 2:3. Aeliani var. hist. i. 32, and Curtius de gestis Alex. vi. 5).
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.David then sent for Zadok, Nathan, and Benaiah, and directed them to fetch the servants of their lord (אדניכם, a pluralis majestatis, referring to David alone), and to conduct Solomon to Gihon riding upon the royal mule, and there to anoint him and solemnly proclaim him king. The servants of your lord (אדניכם עבדי) are the Crethi and Plethi, and not the Gibborim also (Thenius), as 1 Kings 1:38 clearly shows, where we find that these alone went down with him to Gihon as the royal body-guard. לי אשׁר על־הפּרדּה, upon the mule which belongs to me, i.e., upon my (the king's) mule. When the king let any one ride upon the animal on which he generally rode himself, this was a sign that he was his successor upon the throne. Among the ancient Persians riding upon the king's horse was a public honour, which the king conferred upon persons of great merit in the eyes of all the people (cf. Esther 6:8-9). פּרדּה, the female mule, which in Kahira is still preferred to the male for riding (see Rosenmller, bibl. Althk. iv. 2, p. 56). Gihon (גּחון) was the name given, according to 2 Chronicles 32:30 and 2 Chronicles 33:14, to a spring on the western side of Zion, which supplied two basins or pools, viz., the upper watercourse of Gihon (2 Chronicles 32:30) or upper pool (2 Kings 18:17; Isaiah 7:3; Isaiah 36:2), and the lower pool (Isaiah 22:9). The upper Gihon still exists as a large reservoir built up with hewn stones, though somewhat fallen to decay, which is called by the monks Gihon, by the natives Birket el Mamilla, about 700 yards W.N.W. from the Joppa gate, in the basin which opens into the valley of Hinnom. The lower pool is probably the present Birket es Sultan, on the south-western side of Zion (see Robinson, Palestine, i. p. 485ff., 512ff., and Biblical Researches, p. 142ff.). The valley between the two was certainly the place where Solomon was anointed, as it is not stated that this took place at the fountain of Gihon. And even the expression גּחון על אתו הורדתּם (take him down to Gihon) agrees with this. For is you go from Zion to Gihon towards the west, you first of all have to descend a slope, and then ascend by a gradual rise; and this slope was probably a more considerable one in ancient times (Rob. Pal. i. p. 514, note).
(Note: The conjecture of Thenius, that גּחון should be altered into גּבעון, is hardly worth mentioning; for, apart from the fact that all the ancient versions confirm the correctness of גּחון, the objections which Thenius brings against it amount to mere conjectures or groundless assumptions, such as that Zadok took the oil-horn out of the tabernacle at Gibeon, which is not stated in v. 39. Moreover, Gibeon was a three hours' journey from Jerusalem, so that it would have been absolutely impossible for the anointing, which was not commanded by David till after Adonijah's feast had commenced, to be finished so quickly that the procession could return to Jerusalem before it was ended, as is distinctly recorded in v. 41.)
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:
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.The blowing of the trumpet and the cry "Long live the king" (cf. 1 Samuel 10:24) were to serve as a solemn proclamation after the anointing had taken place.
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.After the anointing they were to conduct Solomon up to Zion again; Solomon was then to ascend the throne, as David was about to appoint him prince over Israel and Judah in his own stead. Both the anointing and the appointment of Solomon as prince over the whole of the covenant nation were necessary, because the succession to the throne had been rendered doubtful through Adonijah's attempt, and the aged king was still alive. In cases where there was no question, and the son followed the father after his death, the unanimous opinion of the Rabbins is, that there was no anointing at all. Israel and Judah are mentioned, because David had been the first to unite all the tribes under his sceptre, and after the death of Solomon Israel fell away from the house of David.
And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada answered the king, and said, Amen: the LORD God of my lord the king say so too.Benaiah responded to the utterance of the royal will with the confirmatory "Amen, thus saith Jehovah the God of my lord the king;" i.e., may the word of the king become a word of Jehovah his God, who fulfils what He promises (Psalm 33:9); and added the pious wish, "May Jehovah be with Solomon, as He was with David, and glorify his throne above the throne of David," - a wish which was not merely "flattery of his paternal vanity" (Thenius), but which had in view the prosperity of the monarchy, and was also fulfilled by God (cf. 1 Kings 3:11.).
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.
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.The anointing of Solomon was carried out immediately, as the king had commanded. On the Crethi and Plethi see at 2 Samuel 8:18. "The oil-horn out of the tent" (i.e., a vessel made of horn and containing oil) was no doubt one which held the holy anointing oil, with which the priests and the vessels of the sanctuary were anointed (see Exodus 30:22.). The tent (האהל), however, is not the tabernacle at Gibeon, but the tent set up by David for the ark of the covenant upon Mount Zion (2 Samuel 6:17). For even though Zadok was appointed high priest at the tabernacle at Gibeon, and Abiathar, who held with Adonijah, at the ark of the covenant, the two high priests were not so unfriendly towards one another, that Zadok could not have obtained admission to the ark of the covenant in Abiathar's absence to fetch away the anointing oil.
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.
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.All the people, i.e., the crowd which was present at the anointing, went up after him, i.e., accompanied Solomon to the citadel of Zion, with flutes and loud acclamation, so that the earth nearly burst with their shouting. תּבּקע, "to burst in pieces" (as in 2 Chronicles 25:12), is a hyperbolical expression for quaking.
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?The noise of this shouting reached the ears of Adonijah and his guests, when the feast was just drawing to a close. The music, therefore, and the joyful acclamations of the people must have been heard as far off as the fountain of Rogel. When Joab observed the sound of the trumpet, knowing what these tones must signify, he asked "wherefore the sound of the city in an uproar" (i.e., what does it mean)? At that moment Jonathan the son of Abiathar arrived (see 2 Samuel 15:27; 2 Samuel 17:17.). Adonijah called out to him: "Come, for thou art a brave man and bringest good tidings;' suppressing all anxiety with these words, as he knew his father's will with regard to the succession to the throne, and the powerful and influential friends of Solomon (see 1 Kings 1:5, 1 Kings 1:19, 1 Kings 1:26).
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.
And Jonathan answered and said to Adonijah, Verily our lord king David hath made Solomon king.Jonathan replied: אבל, "yea but," corresponding to the Latin imo vero, an expression of assurance with a slight doubt, and then related that Solomon had been anointed king by David's command, and the city was in a joyous state of excitement in consequence (תּהם as in Ruth 1:19), and that he had even ascended the throne, that the servants of the king had blessed David for it, and that David himself had worshipped and praised Jehovah the God of Israel that he had lived to see his son ascend the throne. The repetition of וגם three times (1 Kings 1:46-48) gives emphasis to the words, since every new point which is introduced with וגם raises the thing higher and higher towards absolute certainty. The fact related in 1 Kings 1:47 refers to the words of Benaiah in 1 Kings 1:36 and 1 Kings 1:37. The Chethib אלהיך is the correct reading, and the Keri אלהים an unnecessary emendation. The prayer to God, with thanksgiving for the favour granted to him, was offered by David after the return of his anointed son Solomon to the royal palace; so that it ought strictly to have been mentioned after 1 Kings 1:40. The worship of grey-headed David upon the bed recalls to mind the worship of the patriarch Jacob after making known his last will (Genesis 47:31).
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.
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.
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.
And all the guests that were with Adonijah were afraid, and rose up, and went every man his way.The news spread terror. All the guests of Adonijah fled, every man his way. Adonijah himself sought refuge from Solomon at the horns of the altar. The altar was regarded from time immemorial and among all nations as a place of refuge for criminals deserving of death; but, according to Exodus 21:14, in Israel it was only allowed to afford protection in cases of unintentional slaying, and for these special cities of refuge were afterwards provided (Numbers 35). In the horns of the altar, as symbols of power and strength, there was concentrated the true significance of the altar as a divine place, from which there emanated both life and health (see at Exodus 27:19). By grasping the horns of the altar the culprit placed himself under the protection of the saving and helping grace of God, which wipes away sin, and thereby abolishes punishment (see Bhr, Symbolik des Mos. Cult. i. p. 474). The question to what altar Adonijah fled, whether to the altar at the ark of the covenant in Zion, or to the one at the tabernacle at Gibeon, or to the one built by David on the threshing-floor of Araunah, cannot be determined with certainty. It was probably to the first of these, however, as nothing is said about a flight to Gibeon, and with regard to the altar of Araunah it is not certain that it was provided with horns like the altars of the two sanctuaries.
And Adonijah feared because of Solomon, and arose, and went, and caught hold on the horns of the altar.
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.When this was reported to Solomon, together with the prayer of Adonijah that the king would swear to him that he would not put him to death with the sword (אם before ימית, a particle used in an oath), he promised him conditional impunity: "If he shall be brave (בּן־חיל, vir probus), none of his hair shall fall to the earth," equivalent to not a hair of his head shall be injured (cf. 1 Samuel 14:45); "but if evil be found in him," i.e., if he render himself guilty of a fresh crime, "he shall die."
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.
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.He then had him fetched down from the altar (הוריד( ratl, inasmuch as the altar stood upon an eminence); and when he fell down before the king, i.e., did homage to him as king, he gave him his life and freedom in the words, "Go to thy house." The expression לביתך לך does not imply his banishment from the court (compare 1 Kings 2:13 and 2 Samuel 14:24). Solomon did not wish to commence his own ascent of the throne by infliction of punishment, and therefore presented the usurper with his life on the condition that he kept himself quiet.