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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 1

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

Now king David was old and stricken in years; and they covered him with clothes, but he gat no heat.

Now king David was old. He was in the 70th year of his age (2 Samuel 5:4-5); but the wear and tear of a military life, bodily fatigue, and mental care, had prematurely, if we may say it, exhausted the energies of David's strong constitution (1 Samuel 16:12). In modern Palestine and Egypt, the people, because of the heat of the climate, each sleep in a separate bed. They only depart from this practice for medical reasons (Ecclesiastes 4:11). The expedient recommended by David's physicians is the regimen prescribed in similar cases still in the East, particularly among the Arab population, not simply to give heat, but to "cherish," since they are aware that the inhalation of young breath will give new life and vigour to the worn-out frame. The fact of the health of the young and healthier person being as it were stolen, to support that of the more aged and sickly, is well established in the medical field. And hence, the prescription for the aged king was made from a health point of view, for the prolongation of his valuable life, and not merely for the comfort to be derived from the natural warmth imparted to his withered frame ('Tent and Khan,' p. 108). The polygamy of the age and country may account for the introduction of this practice; and it is evident that Abishag was made a concubine or secondary wife to David (see the notes at 1 Kings 2:22).

Verse 2

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.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 3

So they sought for a fair damsel throughout all the coasts of Israel, and found Abishag a Shunammite, and brought her to the king.

A Shunammite. Shunem, in the tribe of Issachar (Joshua 19:18), lay on an eminence in the plain of Esdraelon, five miles south of Tabor. It is now called Sulam.

Verse 4

And the damsel was very fair, and cherished the king, and ministered to him: but the king knew her not.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 5

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.

Then Adonijah son of Haggith exalted himself. Nothing is said as to the origin or rank of Haggith, so that it is probable she was not distinguished by family descent. Adonijah, though David's fourth son (2 Samuel 3:4; 1 Chronicles 3:2), was now the oldest alive; and personal attractions and manners (cf. 1 Samuel 9:2) not only recommended him to the leading men about court, but made him the favourite of his father, who, though seeing him assume an entourage becoming only the heir-presumptive to the throne (2 Samuel 15:1), said nothing, and his silence was considered by many, as well as by Adonijah, to be equivalent to an expression of consent. It was one of the characteristic weaknesses of David to be dotingly fond of, and culpably indulgent to, his children. To such an excess did David carry his paternal affection, as to be blind to their faults, and never dare rebuke their delinquencies.

Verse 6

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.

His father had not displeased him. [ `ªtsaabow (H6087), had pained, grieved him; Septuagint, apekooluse, prevented, challenged him]

At any time, [ miyaamaayw (H3117), from his days, all his life (cf. 1 Samuel 25:28; Job 38:12)].

And his mother bare him after Absalom. This supplement by our translators is apt to convey the impression that the same wife gave birth to both. But Maachah, not Haggith, was the mother of Absalom (2 Samuel 3:3). It should be, and as for him (David), begat him after Absalom. The failing health of the king prompted him to take a decisive step for the furtherance of his ambitious designs.

Verse 7

And he conferred with Joab the son of Zeruiah, and with Abiathar the priest: and they following Adonijah helped him.

He conferred with Joab. The anxiety of Adonijah to secure the influence of a leader so bold, enterprising, and popular with the army, was natural; and the accession of the hoary commander is easily accounted for from his recent grudge at the king (see the notes at 1 Samuel 19:13).

And with Abiathar the priest. His influence was as great over the priests and Levites-a powerful body in the kingdom-as that of Joab over the troops. It might be that both of them thought that the crown belonged to Adonijah by right of primogeniture, from his mature age, and the general expectations of the people (1 Kings 2:15).

Verse 8

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.

But Zadok the priest. He had been high priest in the tabernacle at Gibeon under Saul (1 Chronicles 16:39). David, on his accession, had conjoined him and Abiathar equal in the exercise of their high functions (2 Samuel 8:17; 2 Samuel 15:24; 29:35 ). But it is extremely probable that some cause of jealousy or discord between them had arisen, and hence, each lent his countenance and support to opposite parties.

Benaiah - distinguished for his bravery (1 Samuel 23:20). He had been appointed captain of the king's body-guard (2 Samuel 8:18; 2 Samuel 20:23; 1 Chronicles 18:17), and was regarded by Joab as a rival.

Nathan the prophet - was held in high estimation by David, and stood on the most intimate relations with the royal family (2 Samuel 12:25).

Shimei - probably the person of this name who was afterward enrolled among Solomon's great officers (1 Kings 4:18).

Rei - supposed to be the same as Ira (2 Samuel 20:26).

And the mighty men - the select band of worthies.

Verse 9

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:

En-rogel - now Bir-ayub, or the well of Joab, at the foot of Ophel, situated (Joshua 15:7-10: see the notes at 2 Samuel 17:17) east of Jerusalem, in a level place beyond Siloam, just below the junction of the Valley of Hinnom with that of Jehoshaphat. It is a very deep well, measuring 125 feet in depth: the water is sweet, but not very cold, and it is at times quite full to overflowing. The Orientals are fond of enjoying festive repasts in the open air, at places which command the advantage of shade, water, and verdure; and those fetes champetres are not cold collations, but magnificent entertainments, the animals being killed and dressed on the spot. Adonijah's feast at En-rogel was one of this Oriental description, and it was on a large scale (2 Samuel 3:4-5; 2 Samuel 5:14-16; 1 Chronicles 14:1-7).

By the stone Zoheleth - stone of the serpent. Large and special stones are distinguished by names in the East, and this one was probably so called from its long and twisted shape. At the accession of a new king there were sacrifices offered (1 Samuel 11:15). But on such an occasion it was no less customary to entertain the grandees of the kingdom, and even the populace, in a public manner (1 Chronicles 12:23-40). There is the strongest probability that Adonijah's feast was purely political, to court popularity, and secure a party to support his claim to the crown.

Verse 10

But Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah, and the mighty men, and Solomon his brother, he called not.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 11

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?

Nathan spake unto Bath-sheba ...

Verse 12

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.

Let me ... give thee counsel ... The revolt was defeated by this prophet, who, knowing the Lord's will (2 Samuel 7:12; 1 Chronicles 22:9), felt himself bound, in accordance with his character and office, to take the lead in seeing executed. Hitherto the succession of the Hebrew monarchy had not been settled. The Lord had reserved to Himself the right of nomination (Deuteronomy 17:15), which was acted upon in the appointments both of Saul and David; and in the case of the latter the rule was so far modified that his posterity were guaranteed the perpetual possession of the sovereignty (2 Samuel 7:12). This divine purpose was known throughout the kingdom; but no intimation had been made as to whether the right of inheritance was to belong to the oldest son. Adonijah, in common with the people generally, expected that this natural arrangement should be followed in the Hebrew kingdom as in all others. Nathan, who was aware of the old king's solemn promise to Solomon, and, moreover, that this promise was sanctioned by the divine will, saw that no time was to be lost. Fearing the effects of too sudden excitement in the king's feeble state, he arranged that Bath-sheba should go first to inform him of what was being transacted without the walls, and that he himself should follow to confirm her statement. The narrative here not only exhibits the vivid picture of a scene within the interior of a palace, but gives the impression that a great deal of Oriental state ceremonial had been established in the Hebrew court.

Verses 13-19

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?

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 20

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.

And thou my lord O king [ wª'ataah (H859) and thou; evidently a corruption for wa`aataah and now] And thou my lord, O king, [ wª'ataah (H859), and thou; evidently a corruption for wa`aataah, and now],

The eyes of all Israel are upon thee, that thou shouldest tell them who shall sit on the throne. When the kings died without declaring their will, then their oldest son succeeded. But frequently they designated long before their death which of their sons should inherit the throne. The kings of Persia, as well as of other Eastern countries, have exercised the same right in modern and even recent times.

Verse 21

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.

I and my son ... shall be counted offenders - i:e., slain, according to the barbarous usage of the East toward all who are rivals to the throne.

Verses 22-27

And, lo, while she yet talked with the king, Nathan the prophet also came in.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 28

Then king David answered and said, Call me Bathsheba. And she came into the king's presence, and stood before the king.

Then king David answered and said, Call me Bath-sheba. He renews to her the solemn pledge he had given, in terms, the solemnity and impressiveness of which show that the aged monarch had roused himself to the duty the emergency called for. The cold, stiff, and repulsive etiquette of an Oriental court is strikingly represented in the narrative of these interviews with the aged king. First, Bath-sheba was introduced into the presence chamber; she bowed and did obeisance. On Nathan's entrance she withdrew and then, after a brief conversation between the king and the prophet, orders were given to the attendants to recall Bath-sheba. On her return, Nathan retired. This formality, however irksome, was the established usage of the court.

Verses 29-32

And the king sware, and said, As the LORD liveth, that hath redeemed my soul out of all distress,

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 33

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:

Cause Solomon my son to ride upon mine own mule. Directions were forthwith given for the immediate coronation of Solomon. A procession was to be formed by the 'servants of their lord' - i:e., the kings body-guard. Mules were then used by all the princes (2 Samuel 13:29); but there was a state mule, of which all subjects were forbidden, under pain of death, to make use without special permission; so that its being granted to Solomon was a public declaration in his favour as the future king (see the notes at Esther 6:8-9).

Bring him down to Gihon - now Siloa, or Siloam, a pool or fountain on the west of Jerusalem (see the notes at 2 Chronicles 32:30) and the valley of Gihon (which began a little northward of the Damascus gate, and extended southward to a line with the Jaffa gate), was chosen as equally public for the counter proclamation, and well adapted to receive a vast multitude (Robinson's 'Biblical Researches,' 3:, p. 243-245; Barclay, 'City of the Great King,' p. 513; Thrupp, 'Ancient Jerusalem,' p. 463).

Verse 34

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.

Anoint him - done only in the case of a new dynasty or disputed succession (see the notes at 1 Samuel 16:13; 2 Samuel 2:4).

Verse 35

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.

He may come and sit upon my throne. The public recognition of the successor to the throne during the old king's lifetime is accordant with the customs of the East.

Verses 36-38

And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada answered the king, and said, Amen: the LORD God of my lord the king say so too.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 39

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.

An horn of oil out of the tabernacle. It was the sacred oil (Exodus 30:22) with which the kings were anointed (see the notes at 1 Samuel 16:1; 1 Samuel 16:13).

Verse 40

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 came up after him - i:e., from the valley to the citadel of Zion, through the Jaffa gate, close by the castle of David.

And ... piped with pipes., [The chaaliyl (H2485) was a pipe made of a reed, with perforations at the side.] The Hebrew pipe was probably borrowed from that of the Egyptians, being of the same form and length, and seems to have been always used by the Hebrews on all occasions of joy and festivity.

Verse 41

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?

Adonijah ... heard it as they had made an end of eating. The loud shouts raised by the populace at the joyous proclamation at Gihon, and echoed by assembled thousands, whose voices, carried down the valley from Zion to En-rogel, were easily heard at that distance by Adonijah and his confederates. It is even in the present day the scene of frequent festivities, and is within the range of sounds such as were made at the proclamation of Solomon's inauguration (see Stewart's 'Tent and Khan,' p. 316; Drew's 'Scripture Lands,' p.

149). The valley of Hinnom, through which the shouts of the multitude thus rang, is little more than a mile in its circuit to the spot where Adonijah and his friends were carousing. The arrival of a trusty messenger, who gave a full detail of the coronation ceremony, spread dismay in their camp. The wicked and ambitious plot they had assembled to execute was dissipated, and each one of the conspirators consulted his safety by flight.

Verses 42-49

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.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 50

And Adonijah feared because of Solomon, and arose, and went, and caught hold on the horns of the altar.

Adonijah ... went, and caught hold on the horns of the altar - most probably the altar of burnt offering, which, on the removal of the ark to Jerusalem, had been erected on Mount Zion, where Abiathar, one of his partisans, presided as high priest. The horns, or projections at the four corners of the altar, to which the sacrifice were bound, and which were tipped with the blood of the victim, were symbols of grace and salvation to the sinner. Hence, the altar was regarded as a sanctuary (Exodus 21:14); but not to murderers, rebels, or deliberate perpetrators. Adonijah, having acted in opposition to the will of the reigning prince, was guilty of rebellion, and stood self-condemned. Solomon spared his life on the express condition of his good behaviour, of his living in strict privacy, leading a quiet, peaceable life, and meddling with the affairs neither of the court nor the kingdom.

Verses 51-52

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.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 53

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.

They brought him down - from the ledge around the altar on which he was standing.

He ... bowed himself - i:e., did homage to Solomon as king.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Kings 1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/1-kings-1.html. 1871-8.
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