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Barnes' Notes on the Bible
1And Solomon made affinity with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh's daughter, and brought her into the city of David, until he had made an end of building his own house, and the house of the LORD, and the wall of Jerusalem round about.
What Pharaoh is meant is uncertain. It must have been a predecessor of Shishak (or Sheshonk), who invaded Judaea more than 40 years later 1 Kings 14:25; and probabilities are in favor, not of Psusennes II, the last king of Manetho's 21st dynasty, but of Psinaces, the predecessor of Psusennes. This, the Tanite dynasty, had become very weak, especially toward its close, from where we may conceive how gladly it would ally itself with the powerful house of David. The Jews were not forbidden to marry foreign wives, if they became proselytes. As Solomon is not blamed for this marriage either here or in 1 Kings 11, and as the idol temples which he allowed to be built 1 Kings 11:5-7 were in no case dedicated to Egyptian deities, it is to be presumed that his Egyptian wife adopted her husband's religion.
The city of David - The city, situated on the eastern hill, or true Zion, where the temple was afterward built, over against the city of the Jehusites (1 Kings 9:24; compare 2 Chronicles 8:11).
2Only the people sacrificed in high places, because there was no house built unto the name of the LORD, until those days.
The word "only" introduces a contrast. The writer means to say that there was one exception to the flourishing condition of things which he has been describing, namely, that "the people sacrificed in high-places." (Compare the next verse.) The Law did not forbid "high-places" directly, but only by implication. It required the utter destruction of all the high-places which had been polluted by idolatrous rites Deuteronomy 12:2; and the injunction to offer sacrifices nowhere except at the door of the tabernacle Leviticus 17:3-5 was an indirect prohibition of them, or, at least, of the use which the Israelites made of them; but there was some real reason to question whether this was a command intended to come into force until the "place" was chosen "where the Lord would cause His name to dwell." (See Deuteronomy 12:11, Deuteronomy 12:14.) The result was that high-places were used for the worship of Yahweh, from the time of the Judges downward Judges 6:25; Judges 13:16; 1 Samuel 7:10; 1 Samuel 13:9; 1 Samuel 14:35; 1 Samuel 16:5; 1 Chronicles 21:26, with an entire unconsciousness of guilt on the part of those who used them. And God so far overlooked this ignorance that He accepted the worship thus offered Him, as appears from the vision vouchsafed to Solomon on this occasion. There were two reasons for the prohibition of high-places; first, the danger of the old idolatry creeping back if the old localities were retained for worship; and, secondly, the danger to the unity of the nation if there should be more than one legitimate religious center. The existence of the worship at high places did, in fact, facilitate the division of the kingdom.
3And Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places.
4And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there; for that was the great high place: a thousand burnt offerings did Solomon offer upon that altar.
Gibeon - The transfer to Gibeon of the "tabernacle of the congregation," and the brass "altar of burnt offerings" made by Moses, which were removed there from Nob (compare 1 Samuel 21:6, with marginal references "i," "k"), had made it "the great high-place," more sacred, i. e., than any other in the holy land, unless it were Mount Zion where the ark had been conveyed by David. For the position of Gibeon, see Joshua 9:3 note.
A thousand burnt offerings did Solomon offer - Solomon presented the victims. The priests were the actual sacrificers 1 Kings 8:5. A sacrifice of a thousand victims was an act of royal magnificence suited to the greatness of Solomon. So Xerxes offered 1,000 oxen at Troy. If the offerings in this case were "whole burnt offerings," and were all offered upon the altar of Moses, the sacrifice must have lasted several days.
5In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee.
The Lord appeared unto Solomon in a dream - Compare the marginal references and Genesis 15:1; Genesis 28:12; Genesis 37:5.
6And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day.
This great kindness - David himself had regarded this as God's crowning mercy to him 1 Kings 1:48.
7And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.
See 1 Kings 2:2 note, and on the hyperbole contained in the phrase "little child," compare Genesis 43:8; Exodus 33:11.
How to go out or come in - This expression is proverbial for the active conduct of affairs. (See the marginal reference.)
8And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude.
Compare the marginal references. Solomon regards the promises as fulfilled in the existing greatness and glory of the Jewish nation.
9Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?
One of the chief functions of the Oriental monarch is always to hear and decide causes. Hence, supreme magistrates were naturally called "judges." (See the introduction to the Book of Judges.) In the minds of the Jews the "judge" and the "prince" were always closely associated, the direct cognisance of causes being constantly taken by their chief civil governors. (See Exodus 2:14; Exodus 18:16, Exodus 18:22; 1 Samuel 8:20; 2 Samuel 15:2-6.)
Good and bad - i. e. "right and wrong," "justice and injustice."
10And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.
Although Solomon's choice was made "in a dream" 1 Kings 3:5, we must regard it as springing from his will in some degree, and therefore as indicative of his moral character.
11And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment;
Thine enemies - e. g. Hadad the Edomite 1 Kings 11:14-22 and Rezon the son of Eliadah 1 Kings 11:23-25, whom Solomon might well have wished to remove.
12Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.
A wise and an understanding heart - Solomon's wisdom seems to have been both moral and intellectual (see 1 Kings 4:29-34). But it was moral wisdom alone which he requested, and which was promised him. The terms translated "wise" and "understanding," both denote practical wisdom. (See Genesis 41:33, Genesis 41:39; Deuteronomy 4:6; Proverbs 1:2, etc.)
Neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee - i. e. in the knowledge of what was in man, and in the wisdom to direct men's goings, he was to be the wisest of "all" mere men. In such wisdom the world would know one only "greater than Solomon" Matthew 12:42; Luke 11:31.
13And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.
A striking illustration of that law of the divine government to which Christ referred (marginal reference).
14And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days.
I will lengthen thy days - The promise here was only conditional. As the condition was not observed 1 Kings 11:1-8, the right to the promise was forfeited, and it was not fulfilled. Solomon can scarcely have been more than fifty-nine or sixty at his death.
15And Solomon awoke; and, behold, it was a dream. And he came to Jerusalem, and stood before the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and offered up burnt offerings, and offered peace offerings, and made a feast to all his servants.
Solomon determined to inaugurate his reign by a grand religious ceremonial at each of the two holy places which at this time divided between them the reverence of the Jews. Having completed the religious service at Gibeon, where was the tabernacle of the congregation, he proceeded to Jerusalem, and sacrificed before the ark of the covenant, which was in Mount Zion 2 Samuel 6:12. A great feast naturally followed on a large sacrifice of peace-offerings. In these the sacrificer always partook of the flesh of the victim, and he was commanded to call in to the feast the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow Deuteronomy 14:29. Compare 2 Samuel 6:19; 1 Chronicles 16:3.
16Then came there two women, that were harlots, unto the king, and stood before him.
17And the one woman said, O my lord, I and this woman dwell in one house; and I was delivered of a child with her in the house.
18And it came to pass the third day after that I was delivered, that this woman was delivered also: and we were together; there was no stranger with us in the house, save we two in the house.
19And this woman's child died in the night; because she overlaid it.
20And she arose at midnight, and took my son from beside me, while thine handmaid slept, and laid it in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom.
21And when I rose in the morning to give my child suck, behold, it was dead: but when I had considered it in the morning, behold, it was not my son, which I did bear.
22And the other woman said, Nay; but the living is my son, and the dead is thy son. And this said, No; but the dead is thy son, and the living is my son. Thus they spake before the king.
23Then said the king, The one saith, This is my son that liveth, and thy son is the dead: and the other saith, Nay; but thy son is the dead, and my son is the living.
24And the king said, Bring me a sword. And they brought a sword before the king.
25And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other.
26Then spake the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her bowels yearned upon her son, and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it. But the other said, Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it.
27Then the king answered and said, Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it: she is the mother thereof.
28And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment.
The wisdom of God - i. e. "Divine wisdom," "a wisdom given by God" 1 Kings 3:12. The ready tact and knowledge of human nature exhibited in this pattern judgment, and its special fitness to impress Orientals, have generally been admitted.