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Solomon's Love of Women and Idolatry
v. 1. But King Solomon loved many strange women, foreigners, non-Israelites, together with, that is, beside, the daughter of Pharaoh, who was his first wife, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, the tribes east, northeast, and south of the Dead Sea, Zidonians, and Hittites, tribes to the northwest and north of Palestine;
v. 2. of the nations concerning which the Lord said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you; for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods, Exodus 34:16; Deuteronomy 7:3-4; Deuteronomy 17:17. Solomon clave unto these in love, he maintained friendly relations with these nations for the purpose of increasing his harem, thereby becoming the leader among the Oriental monarchs also in this respect.
v. 3. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, members of noble families, who added splendor to his court, and three hundred concubines, such an immense harem being considered an evidence of unlimited wealth among Oriental princes. And his wives turned away his heart, they influenced him in such a manner as to weaken his allegiance to the true God.
v. 4. For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, when he lost his youthful energy of spirit and heart, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods, causing him to become indifferent toward the strict and exclusive worship of Jehovah in Israel and more indulgent with regard to the heathen worship still maintained by the foreigners; and his heart was not perfect with the Lord, his God, it no longer belonged to the Lord in undivided loyalty, as was the heart of David, his father.
v. 5. for Solomon went after Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Zidonians, he did not hinder the cult of this idol, and after Milcom, the abomination of the Ammonites, an idol whose worship was connected with revolting rites, whereas the cult of Ashtoreth was probably connected with indecencies.
v. 6. And Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and went not fully after the Lord, as did David, his father; he did not maintain the full and complete allegiance to the Lord which was expected of him; although he did not himself renounce Jehovah worship, he permitted the public worship of the heathen divinities.
v. 7. Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, their god of war and of fire, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, the Mount of Olives, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon, probably another name for Milcom.
v. 8. And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burned incense and sacrificed unto their gods, having Solomon's full permission to continue to follow their idolatrous customs.
v. 9. And the Lord was angry with Solomon, His displeasure broke out very strongly against him, because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice, 1 Kings 3:5; 1 Kings 9:2,
v. 10. and had commanded him concerning this thing that he should not go after other gods, 1 Kings 6:12; 1 Kings 9:6. But he kept not that which the Lord commanded.
v. 11. Wherefore the Lord said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, because this was come into his mind, because he was engaged in this matter which was so displeasing to the Lord, and thou hast not kept My covenant and My statutes which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee and will give it to thy servant, to one of his subjects, his inferior.
v. 12. Notwithstanding in thy days, during Solomon's lifetime, I will not do it for David, thy father's, sake, but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son.
v. 13. Howbeit, I will not rend away all the kingdom, he intended still to show his merciful goodness, but will give one tribe to thy son for David, My servant's, sake and for Jerusalem's sake which I have chosen, on account of the promise 2 Samuel 7:12; for the selection of Jerusalem as a place of worship was independent of any man's actions. Solomon here serves as a warning example to all believers. Many a person who has learned to know the Lord has become a backslider and has turned again to the world and its pleasures. Let every one who standeth take heed lest he fall!
Solomon's Adversaries and Death
v. 14. And the Lord stirred up an adversary unto Solomon, one of those who imperiled the peace of the kingdom and reminded Solomon of the fact that he owed the peace of his reign entirely to the grace of God, Hadad the Edomite; he was of the king's seed in Edom, of royal descent.
v. 15. For it came to pass, when David was in Edom, 2 Samuel 8:14, and Joab, the captain of the host, was gone up to bury the slain, those that were killed when the Edomites invaded the country, after he had smitten every male in Edom, all those who bore arms, all this taking place during a period of six months,
v. 16. (for six months did Joab remain there with all Israel, until he had cut off every male in Edom,)
v. 17. that Hadad fled, he and certain Edomites of his father's servants with him, to go in to Egypt, at a time when the predecessor of Solomon's father-in-law reigned there, Hadad being yet a little child.
v. 18. And they arose out of Midian, on the west side of the Elanitic Gulf, in the southern part of Edom, and came to Paran, the desert between Sinai and the southern boundary of Canaan; and they took men with them out of Paran, and they came to Egypt, unto Pharaoh, king of Egypt, seeking refuge with him; which gave him an house and appointed him victuals, the necessary food for himself and his companions, and gave him land, showing true hospitality to his visitors.
v. 19. And Hadad found great favor in the sight of Pharaoh, so that he gave him to wife the sister of his own wife, the sister of Tahpenes, the queen, the chief of the king's wives and the mistress of the harem.
v. 20. And the sister of Tahpenes bare him Genubath, his son, whom Tahpenes, probably at a special family feast, Genesis 21:8, weaned in Pharaoh's house; and Genubath was in Pharaoh's household among the sons of Pharaoh, being educated with the princes of Egypt and ranking with them.
v. 21. And when Hadad heard in Egypt that David slept with his fathers, and that Joab, the captain of the host, was dead, his two most dangerous enemies thus being removed, Hadad said to Pharaoh, Let me depart that I may go to mine own country. He sought his dismissal, since the return to his own country now seemed safe.
v. 22. Then Pharaoh said unto him, But what hast thou lacked with me that, behold, thou seekest to go to thine own country? He was sure that no breach of hospitality had occurred. And he answered, Nothing, he had nothing to complain of on that score; howbeit, let me go in any wise, a request which Pharaoh undoubtedly did not refuse. So Hadad, as a kind of Bedouin chieftain, was able to stir up a good deal of trouble on the boundary.
v. 23. And God stirred him (Solomon) up another adversary, Rezon, the son of Eliadah, which fled from his lord Hadadezer, king of Zobah, at the time of David's campaign in the north, 2 Samuel 8:3;
v. 24. and he gathered men unto him, and became captain over a band when David slew them of Zobah. And they went to Damascus, and dwelt therein, and reigned in Damascus, usurping the power in that part of Syria.
v. 25. And he was an adversary to Israel all the days of Solomon, beside the mischief that Hadad did; and he abhorred Israel, and reigned over Syria. As the power and fame of Solomon were declining, these men became bolder in their enmity and probably organized border raids, which were very unpleasant to the king.
v. 26. And Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, an Ephrathite of Zereda, in the mountains of Ephraim, Solomon's servant, whose mother's name was Zeruah, a widow woman, even he lifted up his hand against the king; it was an actual, open rebellion of a subject against the constituted authority.
v. 27. And this was the cause that he lifted up his hand against the king: Solomon built Millo, the citadel or fortress of Jerusalem, particularly of the upper city, and repaired the breaches of the city of David, his father, by walling up a ravine which might have afforded enemies access to the city.
v. 28. And the man Jeroboam was a mighty man of valor, an energetic, capable man; and Solomon seeing the young man that he was industrious, he did his work well, he accomplished what he set out to do, he made him ruler over all the charge of the house of Joseph, the overseer of the levy of men out of the tribe of Ephraim, It is probable that the use of men of Ephraim for this work nourished the spirit of rebellion which Jeroboam afterwards used for his benefit.
v. 29. And it, came to pass at that time when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, when he had entered upon his work as superintendent, that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him in the way; and he, Ahijah, had clad himself with a new garment, a large square piece of cloth, thrown over the shoulders and almost covering the entire body in the daytime and used at night for a coverlet; and they two were alone in the field.
v. 30. And Ahijah caught the new garment that was on him, he took hold of it with a firm grasp, and rent it in twelve pieces.
v. 31. And he said to Jeroboam, Take thee ten pieces; for thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee, the northern tribes being known as the Ten Tribes or Israel, more in a symbolic than in a literal way of speaking,
v. 32. (but he shall have one tribe for My servant David's sake, Benjamin and the cities of Simeon being counted with Judah, and for Jerusalem's sake, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel,)
v. 33. because that they have forsaken me, the people having taken their cue from the king and indulged in the idol worship which he permitted the members of his harem, and have worshiped Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Zidonians, Chemosh, the god of the Moabites, and Milcom, the god of the children of Ammon, and have not walked in my ways, to do that which is right in Mine eyes, and to keep My statutes and My judgments, as did David, his father.
v. 34. Howbeit, I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand, but I will make him prince, ruler, all the days of his life for David, my servant's sake, whom I chose because he kept My commandments and My statutes;
v. 35. but I will take the kingdom out of his son's hand, and will give it unto thee, even ten tribes.
v. 36. And unto his son will I give one tribe, that David, my servant, for whose sake all these merciful concessions were made, may have a light alway before Me in Jerusalem, for the upholding of his family, for the continuance of his race, the city which I have chosen Me to put My name there.
v. 37. And I will take thee, and thou shalt reign according to all that thy soul desireth, and shalt be king over Israel, the position which he was seeking even at that time.
v. 38. And it shall be, if thou wilt hearken unto all that I command thee, and wilt walk in My ways, and do that is right in My sight, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as David, My servant, did, that I will be with thee, and build thee a sure house, the dynasty founded by him would be well established, as I built for David, and will give Israel unto thee, giving him the dominion for which he was striving.
v. 39. And I will for this, on account of the defection practiced by Solomon, afflict the seed of David, but not forever. The descendants of David were to suffer humiliation, but only until such a time as the Lord considered best.
v. 40. Solomon sought therefore, having heard of this prediction, to kill Jeroboam, who probably proceeded to incite actual rebellion at once, 1 Kings 11:26-27. And Jeroboam arose and fled into Egypt, unto Shishak, king of Egypt, a ruler hostile to the kingdom of Judah, and was in Egypt until the death of Solomon.
v. 41. And the rest of the acts of Solomon, and all that he did, and his wisdom, are they not written in the Book of the Acts of Solomon? This was a secular book containing a history of the reign of Solomon, similar to that referred to 2 Chronicles 9:29, from which the inspired writers took no more material.
v. 42. And the time that Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel was forty years, his entire age therefore not exceeding sixty by many years.
v. 43. And Solomon slept with his fathers, having evidently turned back to the Lord in true repentance, and was buried in the city of David, his father. And Rehoboam, his son, whose mother was Naamah the Ammonitess, 1 Kings 14:21-31, reigned in his stead. Like Solomon, many a brand was snatched from the burning by God's grace and again made a partaker of all His blessings.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on 1 Kings 11". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany