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Barnes' Notes on the Bible
Introduction to 1 and 2Kings
The Greek translators, known as the Septuagint, who separated the "Book of the Law of Moses" into five parts, and the "Book of Samuel" into two, made the division, which is now almost universally adopted, of the original "Book of Kings" into a "First" and a "Second Book." The separation thus made was followed naturally in the early Latin versions, which were formed from the Greek; and when Jerome set forth the edition now called "The Vulgate," he followed the custom which he found established. The general adoption of the Vulgate by the Western Church caused the arrangement introduced by the Septuagint to obtain almost universal acceptance.
The work is named from its contents, since the entire subject of the whole is the history of the "kings" of Israel and Judah from the accession of Solomon to the Babylonian captivity.
1. The unity of the work is proved by the marked and striking simplicity and regularity of the plan. The work is, from first to last a history of the kings in strict chronological order, on the same system, and on a uniform scale. Exceptions to this uniformity in the larger space bestowed on the reigns of a few monarchs are due to the principle of treating with the greatest fullness the parts of the history theocratically of most importance.
A second evidence of unity is the general uniformity of style and language - a uniformity admitted by all writers, and one which is only slightly infringed in two or three instances, where the irregularity may be accounted for by a diversity in the sources used by the author and a close following of the language which he found in those sources.
To these general heads of evidence may be added certain peculiarities of thought or expression which pervade the two books, all of them indicating with greater or less certainty a single author.
2. Some have thought from the continuity of the narrative, from the general resemblance of the style, and from the common employment of a certain number of words and phrases, that the six "books," commencing with Judges and terminating with the Second Book of Kings, are the production of a single writer, and constitute in reality a single unbroken composition. Others consider these arguments far from conclusive. The continuity of the narrative is formal, and may be due to the after arrangements of a reviser, such as Ezra is commonly believed to have been.
So far as the mere idiom of the language goes, it is perhaps true that we cannot draw a marked line between Kings and Samuel. But many of the traits most characteristic of the writer of Kings are wholly wanting in the other (and probably earlier) composition. For these and other reasons the "Books of Kings" may claim distinctness and separateness.
3. There are two grounds upon which, apart from all traditional notices, the date of a historical work may be determined, namely, the peculiarities of the diction, and the contents.
The language of Kings belongs unmistakably to the period of the captivity. It is later than that of Isaiah, Amos, Hosea, Micah, Joel, and Nahum, earlier than that of Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, and Zechariah. In general character it bears a close resemblance to the language of Jeremiah and Ezekiel; and may be assigned to the sixth century before our era.
The result obtainable from the contents is similar, only somewhat more definite. Assuming the last detached section of the work 2 Kings 25:27-30 to be an integral portion of it, we obtain the year 561 B.C. - the first year of Evil-Merodach - as the earliest possible date of the completion of the composition. Again, from the fact that the work contains no allusion at all to the return of the Jews from their captivity, we obtain for the latest possible date the year 538 B.C., the year of the return under Zerubbabel: or in other words between the death of Nebuchadnezzar and the accession of Cyrus in Babylon. Linguistic and other considerations favor the belief that the actual completion was early in this period - about 560 B.C.; and it is not improbable that the greater part of the work was written as early as 580 B.C. - i. e. some twenty years previously.
4. Jewish tradition assigns the authorship of Kings to Jeremiah; and there are very weighty arguments in favor of this view. There is a very remarkable affinity between the language of Kings and that of the admitted writings of the prophet. The matter moreover, of the two works, so far as the same events are treated, is in the closest harmony, those points being especially singled out for insertion, of which Jeremiah had personal knowledge and in which he took a special interest. Another argument of very considerable force is drawn from the entire omission of any notice at all of Jeremiah in Kings, which would have been very strange and unnatural in any other historian, considering the important part which Jeremiah played in the transactions of so many reigns, but which is completely intelligible on the hypothesis of his authorship of Kings: it is then the natural fruit and sign of a becoming modesty and unselfishness.
Still, though Jeremiah's authorship appears, all things considered, to be highly probable, we must admit that it has not been proved, and is therefore to some extent uncertain.
5. The author of Kings cites as authorities on the subject matter of his history three works:
(1) the "book of the acts of Solomon" 1 Kings 11:41;
(2) the "book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel" (1 Kings 14:19, etc.); and
(3) the "Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah" (1 Kings 14:29, etc.).
His own history was, at least in part, derived from these works. Lesser works were also open to him. Further, the writer had probably access to a work of a different character from any of those quoted by the author of Chronicles, namely, a collection of the miracles of Elisha, made probably in one of the schools of the prophets.
Hence, the sources of Kings may be considered threefold, consisting, first, of certain general historical documents called the "Books of the Chronicles of the Kings;" secondly, of some special treatises on the history of particular short periods; and, thirdly, of a single work of a very peculiar character, the private biography of a remarkable man.
The "books of the chronicles of the kings" were probably of the nature of public archives, - state-annals, that is, containing an account of the chief public events in the reign of each king, drawn up by an authorized person. With the Israelites the authorized person was probably in almost every case a prophet. The prophets regarded this as one of their principal duties, as we see by the examples of Isaiah 2 Chronicles Isaiah 26:22; Isaiah 36-38, Jeremiah Jer. 39-43:7; 52, and Daniel Dan. 1-6. At the close of every reign, if not even in its course, an addition was probably made to the "book of the chronicles of the kings" by the prophet who held the highest position at the period.
But the prophets, in addition to these formal official writings, composed also historical works which were on a somewhat larger scale, and were especially more full in the account which they gave of religious matters. Compare for example, the difference between the prophetical monograph and the drier abstract of the "book of the chronicles," contained in the historical chapters of Isaiah Isa. 36-39, and the parallel chapters of the Second Book of Kings 2 Kings 18-20. Compare also Jeremiah 39-44 with 2 Kings 25:1-26. Further, comparing generally the history as given in Chronicles with the corresponding history in Kings, the author of Chronicles seems to have followed generally the separate works of the various prophetical writers: the author of Kings, mainly the official documents. In Chronicles nothing is more noticeable than the greater fullness of the religious history of Judah. This came chiefly from the several prophetical works, and marks a contrast between their character and the ordinary character of the state-annals.
The writer of Kings was mainly a compiler. He selected, arranged, and wove into a whole, the various narratives of earlier writers whereof he made use. This is evident, both from the retention of obsolete or provincial forms in particular narratives, and from the occurrence of a number of statements which were inappropriate at the time when the compiler wrote.
The close verbal agreement between 2 Kings 18:15-20:19, and Isaiah 36-39, can only have arisen from the writer's extracting without alteration Isaiah's account of the reign of Hezekiah as it occurred in the state-annals: and the verbal agreement between great part of Chronicles and Kings, is often best accounted for by supposing that the two writers made verbatim extracts from the same authority.
On the other hand the writer of Kings sometimes departed from the wording of his authors, and substituted expressions purely his own.
And there are passages evidently original. It is on these parts of the work that the argument in favor of Jeremiah's authorship especially rests.
6. Philologically speaking, the general condition of the text is good. But the historian has to lament an unsoundness, which, though affecting in no degree the religious character of the books, detracts from their value as documents wherein is contained an important portion of the world's civil history. The numbers, as they have come down to us in Kings, are untrustworthy, being in part self-contradictory, in part opposed to other Scriptural notices, in part improbable, if not even impossible. The defect would seem to have arisen from two causes, one common to the Hebrew Scriptures, the other unique to these books.
The common cause is corruption, partly from the fact that error in them is rarely checked by the context, partly from the circumstance that some system of abbreviated numerical notation has been adopted by professional scribes, and that the symbols employed by them have been mistaken one for another.
The peculiar cause of error seems to have been insertions into the text of chronological notes originally made in the margin by a commentator. The first date which occurs 1 Kings 6:1 seems to be a gloss of this character, and it may be suspected that to a similar origin is due the whole series of synchronisms between the dynasties of Israel and Judah. It is probable that the original work gave simply the years assigned to each king in the "books of the chronicles," without entering upon the further question, in what regnal year of the contemporary monarch in the sister kingdom each prince ascended the throne. The chief difficulties of the chronology, and almost all the actual contradictions, disappear if we subtract from the work these portions.
Excepting in this respect, the Books of Kings have come down to us, as to all essentials, in a thoroughly sound condition. The only place where the Septuagint Version differs importantly from the Hebrew text is in 1 Kings 12, where a long passage concerning Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, not now found in the Hebrew, occurs between 1 Kings 12:24 and 1 Kings 12:25. But this passage is clearly no part of the original narrative. It is a story after the fashion of the apocryphal Esdras, worked up out of the Scripture facts, with additions, which the Alexandrian writer may have taken from some Jewish authority whereto he had access, but which certainly did not come from the writer of Kings. None of its facts except possibly a single one - the age, namely, of Rehoboam at his accession belongs to the real narrative of our historian.
7. The primary character of the work is undoubtedly historical. It is the main object of the writer to give an account of the kings of Israel and Judah from Solomon's accession to the captivity of Zedekiah.
The history is, however, written - not, like most history, from a civil, but from a religious point of view. The Jews are regarded, not as an ordinary nation, but as God's people. The historian does not aim at exhibiting the mere political progress of the kingdoms about which he writes, but intends to describe to us God's treatment of the race with which lie had entered into covenant. Where he records the events of the civil history, his plan is to trace cut the fulfillment of the combined warning and promise which had been given to David 2 Samuel 7:12-16.
Hence, events, which an ordinary historian would have considered of great importance, may be (and are) omitted by our author from the narrative; or touched slightly and hastily. . He treats with the utmost brevity the conquest of Jerusalem by Shishak 1 Kings 14:25-26, the war between Abijam and Jeroboam 1 Kings 15:7, that of Amaziah with Edom 2 Kings 14:7, and that of Josiah with Pharaoh-Nechoh 2 Kings 23:29; events treated at length in the parallel passages of the Book of Chronicles.) As a general rule, the military history of the two kingdoms, which was no doubt carefully recorded in the "Books of the Chronicles," is omitted by the writer of Kings, who is content for the most part to refer his readers to the state-annals for the events which would have made the greatest figure in an ordinary secular history.
On the other hand, the special aim of the writer induces him to assign a prominent piece and to give a full treatment to events which a secular historian would have touched lightly or passed over in silence. The teaching of the prophets, and their miracles, were leading points in the religious history of the time; it was owing to them especially that the apostasy of the people was without excuse; therefore the historian who has to show that, despite the promises made to David, Jerusalem was destroyed, and the whole twelve tribes carried into captivity, must exhibit fully the grounds for this severity, and must consequently dwell on circumstances which so intensely aggravated the guilt of the people.
The character of the history that he has to relate, its general tendency and ultimate issue, naturally throw over his whole narrative an air of gloom. The tone of the work tires harmonises with that of Jeremiah's undoubted writings, and furnishes an additional argument in favor of that prophet's authorship.
The style of Kings is, for the most part, level and uniform - a simple narrative style. Occasionally, a more lofty tone is breathed, the style rising with the subject matter, and becoming in places almost poetical 1 Kings 19:11-12; 2 Kings 19:21-31. The most striking chapters are 1 Kings 8; 18; 19; 2 Kings 5; 9; 18; 19; 20.
8. The general authenticity of the narrative contained in our books is admitted. Little is denied or questioned but the miraculous portions of the story, which cluster chiefly about the persons of Elijah and Elisha. Some critics admitting that the narrative generally is derived from authentic contemporary documents - either state-annals or the writings of contemporary prophets - maintain that the histories of Elijah and Elisha come from an entirely different source, being (they hold) collections of traditions respecting those persons made many years after their deaths, either by the writer of Kings or by some other person, from the mouths of the common people. Hence, according to them, their "legendary" or "mythical" character.
But there are no critical grounds for separating off the account of Elijah, or more than a small portion of the account of Elisha, from the rest of the composition. The history of Elijah especially is so intertwined with that of the kingdom of Israel, and is altogether of so public a nature, that the "chronicles of the kings of Israel" would almost necessarily have contained an account of it; and an important part of the history of Elisha is of a similar character. Further, it is quite gratuitous to imagine that the account was not a contemporary one, or that it was left for a writer living long subsequently to collect into a volume the doings of these remarkable personages. The probability is quite the other way. As the prophets themselves were the historians of the time, it would be only natural that Elisha should collect the miracles and other remarkable deeds of Elijah; and that his own should be collected after his decease by some one of the "sons of the prophets." Add to this that the miracles, as related, have all the air of descriptions derived from eye-witnesses, being full of such minute circumstantial detail as tradition cannot possibly preserve. The whole result would seem to be that (unless we reject miracles altogether as unworthy of belief on account of an "a priori" impossibility) the account of the two great Israelite prophets in Kings must be regarded as entitled to acceptance equally with the rest of the narrative.
Both internal consistency and probability, and also external testimony, strongly support the general authenticity of the secular history contained in Kings. The empire of Solomon is of a kind with which early Oriental history makes us familiar; it occurs exactly at a period when there was room for its creation owing to the simultaneous weakness of Egypt and Assyria; its rapid spread, and still more rapid contraction, are in harmony with our other records of Eastern dominion; its art and civilization resemble these known to have prevailed about the same time in neighboring countries. The contact of Judaea with Egypt, Assyria, and Babylonia, during the period covered by our books agrees with the Egyptian annals, and in some respects is most strikingly illustrated by the cuneiform inscriptions. Berosus, Manetho, Menander, Dius - the pagan historians of Babylon, Egypt, and Tyre - join with the monuments in the support which they furnish to our author's truthfulness and accuracy, as the comment appended to the text will prove abundantly.
Even the broader features of the chronology are both internally probable, and externally confirmed by the chronologies of other countries. The interval between the accession of Solomon and the captivity of Zedekiah is given as 433 12 years, which is divided among twenty-one monarchs, who belong to eighteen (or, excluding Jehoiachin, to seventeen) generations. This allows for each generation the very probable term of 25 12 years. During the portion of the history where the chronology is double, and where the chief internal difficulties occur, the divergence of the two schemes is but slight, amounting to no more than about twenty years in 240 or 250. Egyptian annals confirm approximately the Biblical dates for Shishak's invasion, and So's alliance. The Assyrian annals agree with the Hebrew in the date of the fall of Samaria, and in exhibiting Hazael and Jehu, Tiglath-Pileser and Ahaz, Sennacherib and Hezekiah, Esarhaddon and Manasseh, as contemporaries. The chronological difficulties, where such exist, do not at all exceed those with which every reader of profane historians is familiar, and which, in fact, pervade the whole of ancient chronology. They are partly to be accounted for by diversities in the mode of reckoning; while occasionally no doubt they result from a corrupt reading, or from an unauthorized interpolation.
1Now king David was old and stricken in years; and they covered him with clothes, but he gat no heat.
Now - Rather, "and." The conjunction has here, probably, the same sort of connecting force which it has at the opening of Joshua, Judges, 1 Samuel, etc., and implies that the historian regards his work as a continuation of a preceding history.
King David - The expression "king David," instead of the simpler "David," is characteristic of the writer of Kings. (See the introduction to the Book of Kings) The phrase is comparatively rare in Chronicles and Samuel.
Stricken in, years - David was perhaps now in his first year. He was thirty years old when he was made king in Hebron 2 Samuel 5:4; he reigned in Hebron seven years and six months 2 Samuel 2:11; 1 Chronicles 3:4; and he reigned thirty-three years at Jerusalem 2 Samuel 5:5. The expression had here been used only of persons above eighty Genesis 18:11; Genesis 24:1; Joshua 13:1; Joshua 23:1 : but the Jews at this time were not long-lived. No Jewish monarch after David, excepting Solomon and Manasseh, exceeded sixty years.
Clothes - Probably "bed-clothes." The king was evidently bed-ridden 1 Kings 1:47.
2Wherefore 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.
Since the Jewish law allowed polygamy, David's conduct in following - what has been said to have been - physician's advice, was blameless.
3So they sought for a fair damsel throughout all the coasts of Israel, and found Abishag a Shunammite, and brought her to the king.
4And the damsel was very fair, and cherished the king, and ministered to him: but the king knew her not.
5Then 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.
The narrative concerning - Abishag, the Shunammite (see the margin reference "a"), is introduced as necessary for a proper understanding of Adonijah's later history (see 1 Kings 2:13-25.) But even as it stands, it heightens considerably the picture drawn of the poor king's weak and helpless condition, of which Adonijah was not ashamed to take advantage for his own aggrandizement. Adonijah was born while David reigned at Hebron, and was therefore now between thirty-three and forty years of age. He was David's fourth son, but had probably become the eldest by the death of his three older brothers. He claimed the crown by right of primogeniture 1 Kings 2:15, and secretly to his partisans (compare 1 Kings 1:10) announced his intention of assuming the sovereignty. It was well known to him, and perhaps to the Jews generally, that David intended to make Solomon his successor 1 Kings 1:13.
To run before him - That is, he assumed the same quasi-royal state as Absalom had done, when he contemplated rebellion 2 Samuel 15:1.
6And 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.
Had not displeased him - i. e. "His father had never checked or thwarted him all his life."
A very goodly man - Here, too, Adonijah resembled Absalom 2 Samuel 14:25. The Jews, like the other nations of antiquity, regarded the physical qualities of rulers as of great importance, and wished their kings to be remarkable for strength, stature, and beauty 1 Samuel 9:2. Adonijah's personal advantages no doubt helped to draw the people to him.
His mother ... - i. e. Haggith bare Adonijah after Maacah bare Absalom 2 Samuel 3:3-4. The words in italics are not in the original; hence, some, by a slight alteration, read "David begat him."
7And he conferred with Joab the son of Zeruiah, and with Abiathar the priest: and they following Adonijah helped him.
Joab's defection on this occasion, after his faithful adherence to David during the troubles caused by Absalom 2 Samuel 18:2-17, may be accounted for by his fear that Solomon would be a "man of rest" 1 Chronicles 22:9 and by his preference for the character of Adonijah. He may also have thought that Adonijah, as the eldest son 1 Kings 1:5, had almost a right to succeed.
Abiathar's defection is still more surprising than Joab's. For his history, see 1 Samuel 22:20 note. Hereto, David and he had been the firmest of friends. It has been conjectured that he had grown jealous of Zadok, and feared being supplanted by him.
8But 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.
There is some difficulty in understanding how Zadok and Abiathar came to be both "priests" at this time, and in what relation they stood to one another. The best explanation seems to be that Abiathar was the real high priest, and officiated at the sanctuary containing the ark of the covenant in Zion, while Zadok performed the offices of chief priest at the tabernacle of Witness at Gibeon 1 Chronicles 16:39.
For Benaiah, see 2 Samuel 8:18; 2 Samuel 20:23; 2 Samuel 23:20-21. For Nathan, see 2 Samuel 7:2-3, 2 Samuel 7:17; 2 Samuel 12:1-15, 2 Samuel 12:25. As privy to all David's plans 1 Kings 1:24, he had no doubt fully approved the order of succession which the king was known to intend.
Shimei and Rei - Shimei and Rei are perhaps David's two brothers, Shimma and Raddai 1 Chronicles 2:13-14.
Mighty men - Probably the company of 600, originally formed during David's early wanderings 1 Samuel 25:13; 1 Samuel 27:2, and afterward maintained as the most essential element of his standing army.
9And 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's feast was probably of a sacrificial character, and intended to inaugurate him as king. Compare the "sacrifices" of Absalom 2 Samuel 15:12.
Zoheleth - No satisfactory explanation has been given of this name. Large blocks of stone always attract attention in the East, and receive names which are often drawn from some trivial circumstance. Sinai and Palestine are full of such "Hajars," which correspond to the "Ebens" or "stones" of Holy Scripture. (Compare Genesis 28:22; Joshua 4:9; 1 Samuel 6:14.) For En-Rogel, see the margin reference.
10But Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah, and the mighty men, and Solomon his brother, he called not.
11Wherefore 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?
The son of Haggith - Compare the margin reference. This expression was well chosen to touch the pride of Bath-sheba. "Adonijah; not thy son, but the son of thy rival, Haggith."
12Now therefore come, let me, I pray thee, give thee counsel, that thou mayest save thine own life, and the life of thy son Solomon.
It would have been in accordance with general Eastern custom for Solomon to suffer death, if Adonijah had succeeded in his attempt. But to have executed his mother also would have been an unusual severity. Still, such cases sometimes occurred: Cassander put to death Roxana, the widow of Alexander the Great, at the same time with her son, the young Alexander.
13Go 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?
14Behold, while thou yet talkest there with the king, I also will come in after thee, and confirm thy words.
Confirm thy words - "Establish" them, by giving a second testimony. Nathan thinks it best to move David's affections first through Bath-sheba, before he comes in to discuss the matter as one of state policy, and to take the king's orders upon it.
15And Bathsheba went in unto the king into the chamber: and the king was very old; and Abishag the Shunammite ministered unto the king.
Into the chamber - The "bed-chamber" or "inner chamber." Abishag was a disinterested witness present, who heard all that Bath-sheba said to David.
16And Bathsheba bowed, and did obeisance unto the king. And the king said, What wouldest thou?
Bath-sheba bowed, like the woman of Tekoah 2 Samuel 14:4, with the humble prostration of a suppliant. Hence, the king's question, "What wouldest thou?"
17And 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.
18And now, behold, Adonijah reigneth; and now, my lord the king, thou knowest it not:
19And 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.
20And 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.
Tell them who shall sit on the throne - Side by side with what may be called the natural right of hereditary succession, there existed in the old world, and especially in the East, a right, if not of absolutely designating a successor, yet at any rate of choosing one among several sons. Thus, Cyrus designated Cambyses; and Darius designated Xerxes; and a still more absolute right of nomination was exercised by some of the Roman emperors.
21Otherwise 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.
Shall sleep - This euphemism for death, rare in the early Scriptures - being found only once in the Pentateuch (margin reference.), and once also in the historical books before Kings 2 Samuel 7:12 - becomes in Kings and Chronicles the ordinary mode of speech (see 1 Kings 2:10; 1 Kings 11:43, etc.; 2 Chronicles 9:31; 2 Chronicles 12:16, etc.). David uses the metaphor in one psalm Psa 13:3. In the later Scriptures it is, of course, common. (Jeremiah 51:39; Daniel 12:2; Matthew 9:24; John 11:11; 1 Corinthians 11:30; 1 Corinthians 15:51; 1 Thessalonians 4:14, etc.)
22And, lo, while she yet talked with the king, Nathan the prophet also came in.
Nathan came into the palace, not into the chamber, where he might not enter unannounced. Bath-sheba retired before Nathan entered, in accordance with Oriental ideas of propriety. So, when Bath-sheba was again sent for 1 Kings 1:28, Nathan retired (compare 1 Kings 1:32).
23And 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.
24And Nathan said, My lord, O king, hast thou said, Adonijah shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne?
Hast thou said - Thou hast said. In the original no question is asked. Nathan assumes, as far as words go, that the king has made this declaration. He wishes to draw forth a disclaimer.
25For 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.
26But me, even me thy servant, and Zadok the priest, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and thy servant Solomon, hath he not called.
27Is 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?
28Then king David answered and said, Call me Bathsheba. And she came into the king's presence, and stood before the king.
29And the king sware, and said, As the LORD liveth, that hath redeemed my soul out of all distress,
"As the Lord liveth" was the most common form of oath among the Israelites (e. g. Judges 8:19; 1 Samuel 14:39; 1 Samuel 19:6). It was unique to David to attach a further clause to this oath - a clause of thankfulness for some special mercy 1 Samuel 25:34, or for God's constant protection of him (here and in 2 Samuel 4:9).
30Even 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.
31Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the earth, and did reverence to the king, and said, Let my lord king David live for ever.
A lower and humbler obeisance than before 1 Kings 1:16. In the Assyrian sculptures ambassadors are represented with their faces actually touching the earth before the feet of the monarch.
32And king David said, Call me Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada. And they came before the king.
The combination of the high priest, the prophet, and the captain of the bodyguard (the Cherethites and Pelethites, 1 Kings 1:38), would show the people that the proceedings had the king's sanction. The order of the names marks the position of the persons with respect to the matter in hand.
33The 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:
Mules and horses seem to have been first employed by the Israelites in the reign of David, and the use of the former was at first confined to great personages 2 Samuel 13:29; 2 Samuel 18:9. The rabbis tell us that it was death to ride on the king's mule without his permission; and thus it would be the more evident to all that the proceedings with respect to Solomon had David's sanction.
Gihon - Probably the ancient name of the valley called afterward the Tyropoeum, which ran from the present Damascus Gate, by Siloam, into the Kedron vale, having the temple hill, or true Zion, on the left, and on the right the modern Zion or ancient city of the Jebusites. The upper "source" of the "waters of Gihon," which Hezekiah stopped (see the margin reference), was probably in the neighborhood of the Damascus Gate.
34And 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.
Anoint him - Inauguration into each of the three offices (those of prophet, priest, and king) typical of the Messiah or Anointed One, was by anointing with oil. Divine appointment had already instituted the rite in connection with the kingly office 2 Samuel 2:4; but after Solomon we have no express mention of the anointing of kings, except in the three cases of Jehu, Joash, and Jehoahaz 2 Kings 9:6; 2 Kings 11:12; 2 Kings 23:30, who were all appointed irregularly. At the time of the captivity, kings, whose anointing has not been related in the historical books, still bear the title of "the anointed of the Lord." Lamentations 4:20; Psalm 89:38, Psalm 89:51.
35Then 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.
Over Israel and over Judah - There is no anticipation here of the subsequent division of the kingdom; the antithesis between Judah and Israel already existed in the reign of David 2 Samuel 2:9; 2 Samuel 19:11.
36And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada answered the king, and said, Amen: the LORD God of my lord the king say so too.
37As 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.
As the Lord hath been with my lord - This phrase expresses a very high degree of divine favor. It occurs first in the promises of God to Isaac Genesis 26:3, Genesis 26:24 and Jacob Genesis 28:13. See further margin reference.
38So 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.
39And 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.
The tabernacle - Probably that which David had made for the ark of the covenant on Mount Zion 2 Samuel 6:17. For the holy oil, see the margin reference. That it was part of the regular furniture of the tabernacle appears from Exodus 31:11; Exodus 39:38.
40And 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.
Piped with pipes - Some prefer "danced with dances" - a meaning which the Hebrew would give by a change in the pointing, and the alteration of one letter. But the change is unnecessary. (Flutepipes were known to the Israelites 1 Samuel 10:5; they were very ancient in Egypt, and were known also to the Assyrians.
The earth rent - If the present Hebrew text is correct we have here a strong instance of Oriental hyperbole. But it is suspected that there is a slight corruption, and that the verb really used meant "resounded."
41And 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?
42And 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.
Jonathan had acted in a similar capacity, as a carrier of intelligence, in the time of Absalom's attempt 2 Samuel 15:36; 2 Samuel 17:17; but at that time, like his father, he was faithful to David, and "a valiant man," "a virtuous man," or "a man of worth." (See 1 Kings 1:52; Proverbs 12:4.)
43And Jonathan answered and said to Adonijah, Verily our lord king David hath made Solomon king.
Verily - "Nay, but" (or, "Not so").
44And 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:
45And 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.
46And also Solomon sitteth on the throne of the kingdom.
47And 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.
The king bowed himself - The king worshipped God and prayed that it might be so. Compare Genesis 47:31, with margin reference, Hebrews 11:21.
48And 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.
49And all the guests that were with Adonijah were afraid, and rose up, and went every man his way.
50And Adonijah feared because of Solomon, and arose, and went, and caught hold on the horns of the altar.
On the "horns" of the altar, see Exodus 27:2 note. The altar to which Adonijah fled was probably in the "tabernacle" already referred to 1 Kings 1:39.
51And 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.
52And 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.
There shalt not an hair ... - This was a proverbial expression, meaning "he shall suffer no hurt at all." Solomon's clemency in pardoning Adonijah is very remarkable. In the East not only are pretenders almost always punished with death, but it has often been the custom for each king upon his accession to put to death all his brothers as mere possible pretenders.
53So 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.