Click to donate today!
The idolatry into which Solomon fell in his old age appears so strange in a king so wise and God-fearing as Solomon showed himself to be at the dedication of the temple, that many have been quite unable to reconcile the two, and have endeavoured to show either that Solomon's worship of idols was psychologically impossible, or that the knowledge of God and the piety attributed to him are unhistorical. But great wisdom and a refined knowledge of God are not a defence against the folly of idolatry, since this has its roots in the heart, and springs from sensual desires and the lust of the flesh. The cause assigned in the biblical account for Solomon's falling away from the Lord, is that he loved many strange, i.e., foreign or heathen, wives, who turned his heart from Jehovah to their own gods in his old age. Consequently the falling away did not take place suddenly, but gradually, as Solomon got old, and was not a complete renunciation of the worship of Jehovah, to whom he offered solemn sacrifices three times a year, and that certainly to the day of his death (1 Kings 9:25), but consisted simply in the fact that his heart was no longer thoroughly devoted to the Lord (1 Kings 11:4), and that he inclined towards the idols of his foreign wives and built them altars (1 Kings 11:5-8); that is to say, it consisted merely in a syncretic mixture of Jehovah-worship and idolatry, by which the worship which should be paid solely and exclusively to the true God was not only injured, but was even turned into idolatry itself, Jehovah the only true God being placed on a level with the worthless gods of the heathen. - Love to foreign wives no doubt presupposed an inclination to foreign customs; it was not, however, idolatry in itself, but was still reconcilable with that sincere worship of Jehovah which is attributed to Solomon in the earlier years of his reign. At the same time it was a rock on which living faith and true adherence to the Lord might at last suffer shipwreck. And we may even infer from the repeated warnings of God (1 Kings 3:14; 1 Kings 6:12; 1 Kings 9:4), that from the earliest years of his reign Solomon was in danger of falling into idolatry. This danger did, indeed, spring in his case from his inclination to foreign customs; but this inclination was again influenced by many of the circumstances of his reign, which we must regard as contributing more remotely to his eventual fall. And among the first of these we must place the splendour and glory of his reign. Through long and severe conflicts David had succeeded in conquering all the enemies of Israel, and had not only helped his people to peace and prosperity, but had also raised the kingdom to great power and glory. And Solomon inherited these fruits of his father's reign. Under the blessings of peace he was not only able to carry out the work of building a splendid temple, which his father had urged upon him, but was also able, by a wise use of the sources already existing and by opening new ones, still further to increase the treasures which he had collected, and thereby to exalt the splendour of his kingdom. The treaty with Hiram of Tyre, which enabled him to execute the intended state buildings in Jerusalem, was followed by alliances for the establishment of a widespread commerce both by sea and land, through which ever increasing treasures of gold and silver, and other costly goods, were brought to the king. As this accumulation of riches helped to nourish his inclination to a love of show, and created a kind of luxury which was hardly reconcilable with the simplicity of manners and the piety of a servant of God, so the foreign trade led to a toleration of heathen customs and religious views which could not fail to detract from the reverence paid to Jehovah, however little the trade with foreigners might be in itself at variance with the nature of the Old Testament kingdom of God. And again, even the great wisdom of king Solomon might also become a rock endangering his life of faith, not so much in the manner suggested by J. J. Hess ( Gesch. Dav. u. Sal. ii. p. 413), namely, that an excessive thirst for inquiry might easily seduce him from the open and clearer regions of the kingdom of truth into the darker ones of the kingdom of lies, i.e., of magic, and so lead him to the paths of superstition; as because the widespread fame of his wisdom brought distinguished and wise men from distant lands to Jerusalem and into alliance with the king, and their homage flattered the vanity of the human heart, and led to a greater and greater toleration of heathen ways. But these things are none of them blamed in the Scriptures, because they did not of necessity lead to idolatry, but might simply give an indirect impulse to it, by lessening the wall of partition between the worship of the true God and that of heathen deities, and making apostasy a possible thing. The Lord Himself had promised and had given Solomon wisdom, riches, and glory above all other kings for the glorification of his kingdom; and these gifts of God merely contributed to estrange his heart from the true God for the simple reason, that Solomon forgot the commandments of the Lord and suffered himself to be besotted by the lusts of the flesh, not only so as to love many foreign wives, but so as also to take to himself wives from the nations with which Israel was not to enter into any close relationship whatever.
1 Kings 11:1-2
Solomon's Love of Many Wives and Idolatry. - 1 Kings 11:1, 1 Kings 11:2.
“Solomon loved many foreign wives, and that along with the daughter of Pharaoh.” ואת־בּת פ , standing as it does between נכריּות ר נשׁים and מואביּות , cannot mean “and especially the daughter of P.,” as Thenius follows the earlier commentators in supposing, but must mean, as in 1 Kings 11:25, “and that with, or along with,” i.e., actually beside the daughter of Pharaoh. She is thereby distinguished from the foreign wives who turned away Solomon's heart from the Lord, so that the blame pronounced upon those marriages does not apply to his marriage to the Egyptian princess (see at 1 Kings 3:1). All that is blamed is that, in opposition to the command in Deuteronomy 17:17, Solomon loved (1) many foreign wives, and (2) Moabitish, Ammonitish, and other wives, of the nations with whom the Israelites were not to intermarry. All that the law expressly prohibited was marriage with Canaanitish women (Deuteronomy 7:1-3; Exodus 34:16); consequently the words “of the nations,” etc., are not to be taken as referring merely to the Sidonian and Hittite women (J. D. Mich.); but this prohibition is extended here to all the tribes enumerated in 1 Kings 11:2, just as in Ezra 9:2., 1 Kings 10:3; Nehemiah 13:23; not from a rigour surpassing the law, but in accordance with the spirit of the law, namely, because the reason appended to the law, ne in idololatriam a superstitiosis mulieribus pellicerentur (Clericus), applied to all these nations. The Moabites and Ammonites, moreover, were not to be received into the congregation at all, not even to the tenth generation, and of the Edomites only the children in the third generation were to be received (Deuteronomy 23:4, Deuteronomy 23:8-9). There was all the less reason, therefore, for permitting marriages with them, that is to say, so long as they retained their nationality or their heathen ways. The words בּכם ... לא־תבאוּ are connected in form with Joshua 23:12, but, like the latter, they really rest upon Exodus 34:16 and Deuteronomy 7:1-3. In the last clause בּהם is used with peculiar emphasis: Solomon clave to these nations, of which God had said such things, to love, i.e., to enter into the relation of love or into the marriage relation, with them. דּבק is used of the attachment of a man to his wife (Genesis 2:4) and also to Jehovah (Deuteronomy 4:4; Deuteronomy 10:20, etc.).
1 Kings 11:3-8
1 Kings 11:3-8 carry out still further what has been already stated. In 1 Kings 11:3 the taking of many wives is first explained. He had seven hundred שׂרות נשׁים , women of the first rank, who were exalted into princesses, and three hundred concubines. These are in any case round numbers, that is to say, numbers which simply approximate to the reality, and are not to be understood as affirming that Solomon had all these wives and concubines at the same time, but as including all the women who were received into his harem during the whole of his reign, whereas the sixty queens and eighty concubines mentioned in Song of Solomon 6:8 are to be understood as having been present in the court at one time. Even in this respect Solomon sought to equal the rulers of other nations, if not to surpass them.
(Note: Nevertheless these numbers, especially that of the wives who were raised to the rank of princesses, appear sufficiently large to suggest the possibility of an error in the numeral letters, although Oriental rulers carried this custom to a very great length, as for example Darius Codomannus, of whom it is related that he took with him 360 pellices on his expedition against Alexander (see Curtius, iii. 3, 24; Athen. Deipnos. iii. 1).
- These women “inclined his heart,” i.e., determined the inclination of his heart.
1 Kings 11:4
In the time of old age, when the flesh gained the supremacy over the spirit, they turned his heart to other gods, so that it was no longer wholly with Jehovah, his God. שׁלם , integer, i.e., entirely devoted to the Lord (cf. 1 Kings 8:61), like the heart of David his father, who had indeed grievously sinned, but had not fallen into idolatry.
1 Kings 11:5-7
He walked after the Ashtaroth, etc. According to 1 Kings 11:7, the idolatry here condemned consisted in the fact that he built altars to the deities of all his foreign wives, upon which they offered incense and sacrifice to their idols. It is not stated that he himself also offered sacrifice to these idols. But even the building of altars for idols was a participation in idolatry which was irreconcilable with true fidelity to the Lord. עשׁתּרת , Astarte, was the chief female deity of all the Canaanitish tribes; her worship was also transplanted from Tyre to Carthage, where it flourished greatly. She was a moon-goddess, whom the Greeks and Romans called sometimes Aphrodite, sometimes Urania, Σεληναίη , Coelestis, and Juno (see the Comm. on Judges 2:13). מלכּם , which is called מלך (without the article) in 1 Kings 11:7, and מלכּם in Jeremiah 49:1, Jeremiah 49:3, and Amos 1:15, the abomination of the Ammonites, must not be confounded with the Molech ( המּלך , always with the article) of the early Canaanites, to whom children were offered in sacrifice in the valley of Benhinnom from the time of Ahaz onwards (see the Comm. on Leviticus 18:21), since they had both of them their separate places of worship in Jerusalem (cf. 2 Kings 23:10, 2 Kings 23:13), and nothing is ever said about the offering of children in sacrifice to Milcom; although the want of information prevents us from determining the precise distinction between the two. Milcom was at any rate related to the Chemosh of the Moabites mentioned in 1 Kings 11:7; for Chemosh is also described as a god of the Ammonites in Judges 11:24, whereas everywhere else he is called the god of the Moabites (Numbers 21:29; Amos 1:15, etc.). Chemosh was a sun-god, who was worshipped as king of his people and as a god of war, and as such is depicted upon coins with a sword, lance, and shield in his hands, and with two torches by his side (see at Numbers 21:29). The enumeration of the different idols is incomplete; Chemosh being omitted in 1 Kings 11:5, and Astarte, to whom Solomon also built an altar in Jerusalem, according to 2 Kings 23:13, in 1 Kings 11:7. Still this incompleteness does not warrant our filling up the supposed gaps by emendations of the text. וגו/ .txe הרע ויּעשׂ , as in Judges 2:11; Judges 3:7, etc. יי אהרי מלּא , a pregnant expression for יי אח ללכת מלּא , as in Numbers 14:24; Numbers 32:11-12, etc. - These places of sacrifice ( בּמה , see at 1 Kings 3:2) Solomon built upon the mountain in front, i.e., to the east, of Jerusalem, and, according to the more precise account in 2 Kings 23:13, to the right, that is to say, on the southern side, of the Mount of Corruption, - in other words, upon the southern peak of the Mount of Olives; and consequently this peak has been called in church tradition from the time of Brocardus onwards, either Mons Offensionis, after the Vulgate rendering of המּשׁחית הר in 2 Kings 23:13, or Mons Scandali, Mount of Offence (vid., Rob. Pal. i. 565 and 566).
1 Kings 11:8
“So did he for all his foreign wives,” viz., built altars for their gods; for instance, in addition to those already named, he also built an altar for Astarte. These three altars, which are only mentioned in the complete account in 2 Kings 23:13, were sufficient for all the deities of the foreign wives. For the Hittites and Edomites do not appear to have had any deities of their own that were peculiar to themselves. The Hittites no doubt worshipped Astarte in common with the Sidonians, and the Edomites probably worshipped Milcom. In the whole of the Old Testament the only place in which gods of the Edomite are mentioned is in 2 Chronicles 25:20, and there no names are given. Of course we must except Pharaoh's daughter, according to 1 Kings 11:1, and the remarks already made in connection with that verse; for she brought no idolatrous worship to Jerusalem, and consequently even in later times we do not find the slightest trace of Egyptian idolatry in Jerusalem and Judah.
(Note: From the fact that these places of sacrifice still existed even in the time of Josiah, notwithstanding the reforms of Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, and Hezekiah, which rooted out all public idolatry, at least in Jerusalem, Movers infers ( Phöniz. ii. 3, p. 207), and that not without reason, that there was an essential difference between these sacred places and the other seats of Israelitish idolatry which were exterminated, namely, that in their national character they were also the places of worship for the foreigners settled in and near Jerusalem, e.g., the Sidonian, Ammonitish, and Moabitish merchants, which were under the protection of treaties, since this is the only ground on which we can satisfactorily explain their undisturbed continuance at Jerusalem. But this would not preclude their having been built by Solomon for the worship of his foreign wives; on the other hand, it is much easier to explain their being built in the front of Jerusalem, and opposite to the temple of Jehovah, if from the very first regard was had to the foreigners who visited Jerusalem. The objection offered by Thenius to this view, which Bertheau had already adopted ( zur Gesch. der. Isr. p. 323), has been shown by Böttcher ( N. exeg. Aehrenl. ii. p. 95) to be utterly untenable.)
Burning incense ( מקטירות ) is mentioned before sacrificing ( מזבּחות ), because vegetable offerings took precedence of animal sacrifices in the nature-worship of Hither Asia (vid., Bähr, Symbolik, ii. pp. 237ff.).
1 Kings 11:9-13
Through this apostasy from the Lord his God, who had appeared to him twice (1 Kings 3:5. and 1 Kings 9:2.) and had warned him against idolatry ( וצוּה is a continuation of the participle הנּראה ), Solomon drew down upon himself the anger of Jehovah. The emphasis lies upon the fact that God had appeared to him Himself for the purpose of warning him, and had not merely caused him to be warned by prophets, as Theodoret has explained. In consequence of this, the following announcement is made to him, no doubt through the medium of a prophet, possibly Ahijah (1 Kings 11:29): “Because this has come into thy mind, and thou hast not kept my covenant, ... I will tear the kingdom from thee and give it to thy servant; nevertheless I will not do it in thy lifetime for thy father David's sake: howbeit I will not tear away the whole kingdom; one tribe I will give to thy son.” In this double limitation of the threatened forfeiture of the kingdom there is clearly manifested the goodness of God ( δείκνυσι τὴν ἄμετρον ἀγαθότητα - Theodoret); not, however, with reference to Solomon, who had forfeited the divine mercy through his idolatry, but with regard to David and the selection of Jerusalem: that is to say, not from any special preference for David and Jerusalem, but in order that the promise made to David (2 Sam 7), and the choice of Jerusalem as the place where His name should be revealed which was connected with that promise, might stand immoveably as an act of grace, which no sin of men could overturn (vid., 1 Kings 11:36). For אחד שׁבט see the Comm. on 1 Kings 11:31, 1 Kings 11:32.
Solomon's Opponents. - Although the punishment with which Solomon was threatened for his apostasy was not to be inflicted till after his death, the Lord raised up several adversaries even during his lifetime, who endangered the peace of his kingdom, and were to serve as constant reminders that he owed his throne and his peaceable rule over the whole of the kingdom inherited from his father solely to the mercy, the fidelity, and the long-suffering of God. - The rising up of Hadad and Rezon took place even before the commencement of Solomon's idolatry, but it is brought by יהוה ויּקם (1 Kings 11:14) into logical connection with the punishment with which he is threatened in consequence of that idolatry, because it was not till a later period that it produced any perceptible effect upon his government, yet it ought from the very first to have preserved him from self-security.
1 Kings 11:14-22
The first adversary was Hadad the Edomite, a man of royal birth. The name הדד ( אדד in 1 Kings 11:17, according to an interchange of ה and א which is by no means rare) was also borne by a prae-Mosaic king of Edom (Genesis 36:35), from which we may see that it was not an uncommon name in the royal family of the Edomites. But the conjecture of Ewald and Thenius, that our Hadad was a grandson of Hadar, the last of the kings mentioned there, is quite a groundless one, since it rests upon the false assumption that Hadar (called Hadad in the Chronicles by mistake) reigned in the time of David (see the Comm. on Genesis 36:31.). הוּא before בּאדום stands in the place of the relative אשׁר : “of royal seed he = who was of the royal seed in Edom” (cf. Ewald, § 332, a.).
1 Kings 11:15-17
When David had to do with the Edomites, ... Hadad fled. את היה is analogous to עם היה , to have to do with any one, though in a hostile sense, as in the phrase to go to war with ( את ) a person, whereas עם היה generally means to be upon the side of any one. The correctness of the reading בּהיוה is confirmed by all the ancient versions, which have simply paraphrased the meaning in different ways. For Böttcher has already shown that the lxx did not read בּהכּות , as Thenius supposes. The words from בּעלות to the end of 1 Kings 11:16 form explanatory circumstantial clauses. On the circumstance itself, compare 2 Samuel 8:13-14, with the explanation given there. “The slain,” whom Joab went to bury, were probably not the Israelites who had fallen in the battle in the Salt valley (2 Samuel 8:13), but those who had been slain on the invasion of the land by the Edomites, and still remained unburied. After their burial Joab defeated the Edomites in the valley of Salt, and remained six months in Edom till he had cut off every male. “All Israel” is the whole of the Israelitish army. “Every male” is of course only the men capable of bearing arms, who fell into the hands of the Israelites; for “Hadad and others fled, and the whole of the Idumaean race was not extinct” (Clericus). Then Hadad fled, while yet a little boy, with some of his father's Edomitish servants, to go to Egypt, going first of all to Midian and thence to Paran. The country of Midian cannot be more precisely defined, inasmuch as we meet with Midianites sometimes in the peninsula of Sinai on the eastern side of the Elanitic Gulf, where Edrisi and Abulfeda mention a city of Madian (see at Exodus 2:15), and sometimes on the east of the Moabitish territory (see at Numbers 22:4 and Judges 6:1). Here, at any rate, we must think of the neighbourhood of the Elanitic Gulf, though not necessarily of the city of Madian, five days' journey to the south of Aela; and probably of the country to which Moses fled from Egypt. Paran is the desert of that name between the mountains of Sinai and the south of Canaan (see at Numbers 10:12), through which the Haj route from Egypt by Elath to Mecca still runs. Hadad would be obliged to take the road by Elath in order to go to Egypt, even if he had taken refuge with the Midianites on the east of Moab and Edom.
1 Kings 11:18-20
From Paran they took men with them as guides through the desert. Thus Hadad came to Egypt, where Pharaoh received him hospitably, and gave them a house and maintenance ( לחם ), and also assigned him land ( ארץ ) to cultivate for the support of the fugitives who had come with him, and eventually, as he found great favour in his eyes, gave him for a wife the sister of his own wife, queen Tachpenes, who bare him a son, Genubath. This son was weaned by Tachpenes in the royal palace, and then brought up among (with) the children of Pharaoh, the royal princes. According to Rosellini and Wilkinson (Ges. Thes. p. 1500), Tachpenes was also the name of a female deity of Egypt. The wife of Pharaoh is called הגּבירה , i.e., the mistress among the king's wives, as being the principal consort. In the case of the kings of Judah this title is given to the king's mother, probably as the president in the harem, whose place was taken by the reigning queen after her death. The weaning, probably a family festival as among the Hebrews (Genesis 21:8) and other ancient nations (vid., Dougtaei Analecta ss. i. 22f.), was carried out by the queen in the palace, because the boy was to be thereby adopted among the royal children, to be brought up with them.
1 Kings 11:21-22
When Hadad heard in Egypt of the death of David and Joab, he asked permission of Pharaoh to return to his own country. Pharaoh replied, “What is there lacking to thee with me?” This answer was a pure expression of love and attachment to Hadad, and involved the request that he would remain. But Hadad answered, “No, but let me go.” We are not told that Pharaoh then let him go, but this must be supplied; just as in Numbers 10:32 we are not told what Hobab eventually did in consequence of Moses' request, but it has to be supplied from the context. The return of Hadad to his native land is clearly to be inferred from the fact that, according to 1 Kings 11:14, 1 Kings 11:25, he rose up as an adversary of Solomon.
(Note: The lxx have supplied what is missing e conjectura: καὶ ἀνέστρεψεν Ἄδερ (i.e., Hadad) εἰς τὴν γῆν αὐτοῦ· αὑτὴ ἡ κακία ἥν ἐποίησεν Ἄδερ· καὶ ἐβαρυθύμησεν Ἰσραήλ, καὶ ἐβασίλευσεν ἐν γῇ Ἐδώμ . Thenius proposes to alter the Hebrew text accordingly, and draws this conclusion, that “ shortly after the accession of Solomon, Hadad, having returned from Egypt, wrested from the power of the Israelites the greatest part of Edom, probably the true mountain-land of Edom, so that certain places situated in the plain, particularly Ezion-geber, remained in the hands of the Israelites, and intercourse could be maintained with that port through the Arabah, even though not quite without disturbance. ” This conclusion, which is described as “ historical, ” is indeed at variance with 1 Kings 22:48, according to which Edom had no king even in the time of Jehoshaphat, but only a vicegerent, and also with 2 Kings 8:20, according to which it was not till the reign of Jehoshaphat ' s son Joram that Edom fell away from Judah. But this discrepancy Thenius sets aside by the remark at 1 Kings 22:48, that in Jehoshaphat ' s time the family of Hadad had probably died out, and Jehoshaphat prudently availed himself of the disputes which arose concerning the succession to enforce Judah ' s right of supremacy over Edom, and to appoint first a vicegerent and then a new king, though perhaps one not absolutely dependent upon him. But this conjecture as to the relation in which Jehoshaphat stood to Edom is proved to be an imaginary fiction by the fact that, although this history does indeed mention a revolt of the Edomites from Judah (2 Chron 20; see at 1 Kings 22:48), it not only says nothing whatever about the dying out of the royal family of Hadad or about disputes concerning the succession, but it does not even hint at them. - But with regard to the additions made to this passage by the lxx, to which even Ewald ( Gesch. iii. p. 276) attributes historical worth, though without building upon them such confident historical combinations as Thenius, we may easily convince ourselves of their critical worthlessness, if we only pass our eye over the whole section (1 Kings 11:14-25), instead of merely singling out those readings of the lxx which support our preconceived opinions, and overlooking all the rest, after the thoroughly unscientific mode of criticism adopted by a Thenius or Böttcher. For example, the lxx have connected together the two accounts respecting the adversaries Hadad and Rezon who rose up against Solomon (1 Kings 11:14 and 1 Kings 11:23), which are separated in the Hebrew text, and have interpolated what is sated concerning Rezon in 1 Kings 11:23 and 1 Kings 11:24 after האדמי in 1 Kings 11:14, and consequently have been obliged to alter וגו שׂטן ויהי in 1 Kings 11:25 into καὶ ἦσαν Σατάν , because they had previously cited Hadad and Rezon as adversaries, whereas in the Hebrew text these words apply to Rezon alone. But the rest of 1 Kings 11:25, namely the words from ואת־רעה onwards, they have not given till the close of 1 Kings 11:22 (lxx); and in order to connect this with what precedes, they have interpolated the words καὶ ἀνέστρεψεν Ἄδερ εἰς τὴν γῆν αὐτοῦ . The Alexandrians were induced to resort to this intertwining of the accounts concerning Hadad and Rezon, which are kept separate in the Hebrew text, partly by the fact that Hadad and Rezon are introduced as adversaries of Solomon with the very same words (1 Kings 11:14 and 1 Kings 11:23), but more especially by the fact that in 1 Kings 11:25 of the Hebrew text the injury done to Solomon by Hadad is merely referred to in a supplementary manner in connection with Rezon ' s enterprise, and indeed is inserted parenthetically within the account of the latter. The Alexandrian translators did not know what to make of this, because they did not understand ואת־הרעה and took ואת for זאת , αὕτη ἡ κακία . With this reading ויּקץ which follows was necessarily understood as referring to Hadad; and as Hadad was an Edomite, על־ארם ויּמלך had to be altered into ἐβασίλευσεν ἐν γῇ Ἐδώμ . Consequently all the alterations of the lxx in this section are simply the result of an arbitrary treatment of the Hebrew text, which they did not really understand, and consist of a collocation of all that is homogeneous, as every reader of this translation who is acquainted with the original text must see so clearly even at the very beginning of the chapter, where the number of Solomon ' s wives is taken from 1 Kings 11:3 of the Hebrew text and interpolated into 1 Kings 11:1, that, as Thenius observes, “ the true state of the case can only be overlooked from superficiality of observation or from preconceived opinion. ” )
1 Kings 11:23-25
A second adversary of Solomon was Rezon, the son of Eliadah (for the name see at 1 Kings 15:18), who had fled from his lord Hadadezer, king of Zobah, and who became the captain of a warlike troop ( גּדוּד ), when David smote them ( אתם ), i.e., the troops of his lord (2 Samuel 8:3-4). Rezon probably fled from his lord for some reason which is not assigned, when the latter was engaged in war with David, before his complete overthrow, and collected together a company from the fugitives, with which he afterwards marched to Damascus, and having taken possession of that city, made himself king over it. This probably did not take place till towards the close of David's reign, or even after his death, though it was at the very beginning of Solomon's reign; for “he became an adversary to Israel all the days of Solomon (i.e., during the whole of his reign), and that with (beside) the mischief which Hadad did, and he abhorred Israel (i.e., became disgusted with the Israelitish rule), and became king over Aram.” הדד אשׁר is an abbreviated expression, to which עשׂה may easily be supplied, as it has been by the lxx (vid., Ewald, § 292, b., Anm.). It is impossible to gather from these few words in what the mischief done by Hadad to Solomon consisted.
(Note: What Josephus ( Ant. viii. 7, 6) relates concerning an alliance between Hadad and Rezon for the purpose of making hostile attacks upon Israel, is merely an inference drawn from the text of the lxx, and utterly worthless.)
Rezon, on the other hand, really obtained possession of the rule over Damascus. Whether at the beginning or not till the end of Solomon's reign cannot be determined, since all that is clearly stated is that he was Solomon's adversary during the whole of his reign, and attempted to revolt from him from the very beginning. If, however, he made himself king of Damascus in the earliest years of his reign, he cannot have maintained his sway very long, since Solomon afterwards built or fortified Tadmor in the desert, which he could not have done if he had not been lord over Damascus, as the caravan road from Gilead to Tadmor (Palmyra) went past Damascus.
(Note: Compare Ewald, Gesch. iii. p. 276. It is true that more could be inferred from 2 Chronicles 8:3, if the conquest of the city of Hamath by Solomon were really recorded in that passage, as Bertheau supposes. But although על הזק is used to signify the conquest of tribes or countries, we cannot infer the conquest of the city of Hamath from the words, “ Solomon went to Hamath Zobah עליה ויּחזק and built Tadmor, ” etc., since all that עליה יחזק distinctly expresses is the establishment of his power over the land of Hamath Zobah. And this Solomon could have done by placing fortifications in that province, because he was afraid of rebellion, even if Hamath Zobah had not actually fallen away from his power.)
1 Kings 11:26-28
Attempted rebellion of Jeroboam the Ephraimite. - Hadad and Rezon are simply described as adversaries ( שׂטן ) of Solomon; but in the case of Jeroboam it is stated that “he lifted up his hand against the king,” i.e., he stirred up a tumult or rebellion. בּ יד נשׂא is synonymous with בּ יד נשׂא in 2 Samuel 18:28; 2 Samuel 20:21. It is not on account of this rebellion, which was quickly suppressed by Solomon, but on account of the later enterprise of Jeroboam, that his personal history is so minutely detailed. Jeroboam was an Ephraimite ( אפרתי , as in 1 Samuel 1:1; Judges 12:5) of Zereda, i.e., Zarthan, in the Jordan valley (see 1 Kings 7:46), son of a widow, and עבד , i.e., not a subject (Then.), but an officer, of Solomon. All that is related of his rebellion against the king is the circumstances under which it took place. אשׁר הדּבר יד , this is how it stands with, as in Joshua 5:4. Solomon built Millo (1 Kings 9:15), and closed the rent (the defile?) in the city of David. פּרץ , ruptura , cannot be a rent or breach in the wall of the city of David, inasmuch as חומה is not added, and since the fortification of the city by David (2 Samuel 5:9) no hostile attack had ever been made upon Jerusalem; but in all probability it denotes the ravine which separated Zion from Moriah and Ophel, the future Tyropoeon, through the closing of which the temple mountain was brought within the city wall, and the fortification of the city of David was completed (Thenius, Ewald, Gesch. iii. p. 330). Compare מפרץ , a gap in the coast, a bay. On the occasion of this building, Jeroboam proved himself a חיל גּבּור , i.e., a very able and energetic man; so that when Solomon saw the young man, that he was doing work, i.e., urging it forward, he committed to him the oversight over all the heavy work of the house of Joseph. It must have been while occupying this post that he attempted a rebellion against Solomon. This is indicated by וגו הדּבר יד in v. 27. According to 1 Kings 12:4, the reason for the rebellion is to be sought for in the appointment of the Ephraimites to heavy works. This awakened afresh the old antipathy of that tribe to Judah, and Jeroboam availed himself of this to instigate a rebellion.
1 Kings 11:29-36
At that time the prophet Ahijah met him in the field and disclosed to him the word of the Lord, that he should become king over Israel. ההיא בּעת : at that time, viz., the time when Jeroboam had become overseer over the heavy works, and not after he had already stirred up the rebellion. For the whole of the account in 1 Kings 11:29-39 forms part of the explanation of בּמּלך יד הרים which commences with 1 Kings 11:27, so that ההיא בּעת ויהי is closely connected with אתו ויּפקד in 1 Kings 11:28, and there is no such gap in the history as is supposed by Thenius, who builds upon this opinion most untenable conjectures as to the intertwining of different sources. At that time, as Jeroboam was one day going out of Jerusalem, the prophet Ahijah of Shilo (Seilun) met him by the way ( בּדּרך ), with a new upper garment wrapped around him; and when they were alone, he rent the new garment, that is to say, his own, not Jeroboam's, as Ewald ( Gesch. iii. p. 388) erroneously supposes, into twelve pieces, and said to Jeroboam, “Take thee ten pieces, for Jehovah saith, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and give thee ten tribes; and one tribe shall remain to him (Solomon) for David's sake,” etc. The new שׂלמה wen ehT . was probably only a large four-cornered cloth, which was thrown over the shoulders like the Heik of the Arabs, and enveloped the whole of the upper portion of the body (see my bibl. Archäol. ii. pp. 36, 37). By the tearing of the new garment into twelve pieces, of which Jeroboam was to take ten for himself, the prophetic announcement was symbolized in a very emphatic manner. This symbolical action made the promise a completed fact. “As the garment as torn in pieces and lay before the eyes of Jeroboam, so had the division of the kingdom already taken place in the counsel of God” (O. v. Gerlach). There was something significant also in the circumstance that it was a new garment, which is stated twice, and indicates the newness, i.e., the still young and vigorous condition, of the kingdom (Thenius).
In the word of God explaining the action it is striking that Jeroboam was to receive ten tribes, and the one tribe was to remain to Solomon (1 Kings 11:31, 1 Kings 11:32, 1 Kings 11:35, 1 Kings 11:36, as in 1 Kings 11:13). The nation consisted of twelve tribes, and Ahijah had torn his garment into twelve pieces, of which Jeroboam was to take ten; so that there were two remaining. It is evident at once from this, that the numbers are intended to be understood symbolically and not arithmetically. Ten as the number of completeness and totality is placed in contrast with one, to indicate that all Israel was to be torn away from the house of David, as is stated in 1 Kings 12:20, “they made Jeroboam king over all Israel,” and only one single fragment was to be left to the house of Solomon out of divine compassion. This one tribe, however, is not Benjamin, the one tribe beside Judah, as Hupfeld (on Ps 80), C. a Lap., Mich., and others suppose, but, according to the distinct statement in 1 Kings 12:20, “the tribe of Judah only.” Nevertheless Benjamin belonged to Judah; for, according to 1 Kings 12:21, Rehoboam gathered together the whole house of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin to fight against the house of Israel (which had fallen away), and to bring the kingdom again to himself. And so also in 2 Chronicles 11:3 and 2 Chronicles 11:23 Judah and Benjamin are reckoned as belonging to the kingdom of Rehoboam. This distinct prominence given to Benjamin by the side of Judah overthrows the explanation suggested by Seb. Schmidt and others, namely, that the description of the portion left to Rehoboam as one tribe is to be explained from the fact that Judah and Benjamin, on the border of which Jerusalem was situated, were regarded in a certain sense as one, and that the little Benjamin was hardly taken into consideration at all by the side of the great Judah. For if Ahijah had regarded Benjamin as one with Judah, he would not have torn his garment into twelve pieces, inasmuch as if Benjamin was to be merged in Judah, or was not to be counted along with it as a distinct tribe, the whole nation could only be reckoned as eleven tribes. Moreover the twelve tribes did not so divide themselves, that Jeroboam really received ten tribes and Rehoboam only one or only two. In reality there were three tribes that fell to the kingdom of Judah, and only nine to the kingdom of Israel, Ephraim and Manasseh being reckoned as two tribes, since the tribe of Levi was not counted in the political classification. The kingdom of Judah included, beside the tribe of Judah, both the tribe of Benjamin and also the tribe of Simeon, the territory of which, according to Joshua 19:1-9, was within the tribe-territory of Judah and completely surrounded by it, so that the Simeonites would have been obliged to emigrate and give up their tribe-land altogether, if they desired to attach themselves to the kingdom of Israel. But it cannot be inferred from 2 Chronicles 15:9 and 2 Chronicles 34:6 that an emigration of the whole tribe had taken place (see also at 1 Kings 12:17). On the other hand, whilst the northern border of the tribe of Benjamin, with the cities of Bethel, Ramah, and Jericho, fell to the kingdom of Jeroboam (1 Kings 12:29; 1 Kings 15:17, 1 Kings 15:21; 1 Kings 16:34), several of the cities of the tribe of Dan were included in the kingdom of Judah, namely, Ziklag, which Achish had presented to David, and also Zorea and Ajalon (2 Chronicles 11:10; 2 Chronicles 28:18), in which Judah obtained compensation for the cities of Benjamin of which it had been deprived.
(Note: On the other hand, the fact that in Psalms 80:2 Benjamin is placed between Ephraim and Manasseh is no proof that it belonged to the kingdom of Israel; for can this be inferred from the fact that Benjamin, as the tribe to which Saul belonged, at the earlier split among the tribes took the side of those which were opposed to David, and that at a still later period a rebellion originated with Benjamin. For in Psalms 80:2 the exposition is disputed, and the jealousy of Benjamin towards Judah appears to have become extinct with the dying out of the royal house of Saul. Again, the explanation suggested by Oehler (Herzog ' s Cycl.) of the repeated statement that the house of David was to receive only one tribe, namely, that there was not a single whole tribe belonging to the southern kingdom beside Judah, is by no means satisfactory. For it cannot be proved that any portion of the tribe of Simeon ever belonged to the kingdom of Israel, although the number ten was not complete without it. And it cannot be inferred from 2 Chronicles 15:9 that Simeonites had settled outside their tribe-territory. And, as a rule, single families or households that may have emigrated cannot be taken into consideration as having any bearing upon the question before us, since, according to the very same passage of the Chronicles, many members of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh had emigrated to the kingdom of Judah.)
Consequently there only remained nine tribes for the northern kingdom. For וגו עבדּי למען see at 1 Kings 11:13. For 1 Kings 11:33 compare 1 Kings 11:4-8. The plurals עזבוּני , ישׁתּחווּ , and הלכוּ are not open to critical objection, but are used in accordance with the fact, since Solomon did not practise idolatry alone, but many in the nation forsook the Lord along with him. צדנין , with a Chaldaic ending (see Ges. § 87, 1, a.). In 1 Kings 11:34-36 there follows a more precise explanation: Solomon himself is not to lose the kingdom, but to remain prince all his life, and his son is to retain one tribe; both out of regard to David (vid., 1 Kings 11:12, 1 Kings 11:13). אשׁתנּוּ נשׂיא כּי , “but I will set him for prince,” inasmuch as leaving him upon the throne was not merely a divine permission, but a divine act. “That there may be a light to my servant David always before me in Jerusalem.” This phrase, which is repeated in 1 Kings 15:4; 2 Kings 8:19; 2 Chronicles 21:7, is to be explained from 2 Samuel 21:17, where David's regal rule is called the light which God's grace had kindled for Israel, and affirms that David was never to want a successor upon the throne.
1 Kings 11:37-39
The condition on which the kingdom of Jeroboam was to last was the same as that on which Solomon had also been promised the continuance of his throne in 1 Kings 3:14; 1 Kings 6:12; 1 Kings 9:4, namely, faithful observance of the commandments of God. The expression, “be king over all that thy soul desireth,” is explained in what follows by “all Israel.” It is evident from this that Jeroboam had aspired after the throne. On the condition named, the Lord would build him a lasting house, as He had done for David (see at 2 Samuel 7:16). In the case of Jeroboam, however, there is no allusion to a lasting duration of the ממלכה (kingdom) such as had been ensured to David; for the division of the kingdom was not to last for ever, but the seed of David was simply to be chastised. זאת למען , for this, i.e., because of the apostasy already mentioned; “only not all the days,” i.e., not for ever. ואענּה is explanatory so far as the sense is concerned: “for I will humble.” Jeroboam did not fulfil this condition, and therefore his house was extirpated at the death of his son (1 Kings 15:28.).
1 Kings 11:40
1 Kings 11:40 is a continuation of בּמּלך יד ויּרם in 1 Kings 11:26; for 1 Kings 11:27-39 contain simply an explanation of Jeroboam's lifting up his hand against Solomon. It is obvious from this that Jeroboam had organized a rebellion against Solomon; and also, as 1 Kings 11:29 is closely connected with 1 Kings 11:28, that this did not take place till after the prophet had foretold his reigning over ten tribes after Solomon's death. But this did not justify Jeroboam's attempt; nor was Ahijah's announcement an inducement or authority to rebel. Ahijah's conduct as perfectly analogous to that of Samuel in the case of Saul, and is no more to be attributed to selfish motives than his was, as though the prophetic order desired to exalt itself above the human sovereign (Ewald; see, on the other hand, Oehler's article in Herzog's Cycl.). For Ahijah expressly declared to Jeroboam that Jehovah would let Solomon remain prince over Israel during the remainder of his life. This deprived Jeroboam of every pretext for rebellion. Moreover the prophet's announcement, even without this restriction, gave him no right to seize with his own hand and by means of rebellion upon that throne which God intended to give to him. Jeroboam might have learned how he ought to act under these circumstances from the example of David, who had far more ground, according to human opinion, for rebelling against Saul, his persecutor and mortal foe, and who nevertheless, even when God had delivered his enemy into his hand, so that he might have slain him, did not venture to lay his hand upon the anointed of the Lord, but waited in pious submission to the leadings of his God, till the Lord opened the way to the throne through the death of Saul. By the side of David's behaviour towards Saul the attempt of Jeroboam has all the appearance of a criminal rebellion, so that Solomon would have been perfectly justified in putting him to death, if Jeroboam had not escaped from his hands by a flight into Egypt. - On Shishak see at 1 Kings 14:25.
Conclusion of the history of Solomon. - Notice of the original works, in which further information can be found concerning his acts and his wisdom (see the Introduction); the length of his reign, viz., forty years; his death, burial, and successor. Solomon did not live to a very great age, since he was not more than twenty years old when he ascended the throne. - Whether Solomon turned to the Lord again with all his heart, a question widely discussed by the older commentators (see Pfeifferi Dubia vex. p. 435; Buddei hist. eccl. ii. p. 273ff.), cannot be ascertained from the Scriptures. If the Preacher Koheleth) is traceable to Solomon so far as the leading thoughts are concerned, we should find in this fact an evidence of his conversion, or at least a proof that at the close of his life Solomon discovered the vanity of all earthly possessions and aims, and declared the fear of God to be the only abiding good, with which a man can stand before the judgment of God.
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on 1 Kings 11". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany