The opening chapters of 1 Kings are the last chapter of the story of David as much as the first of the story of Solomon (see
Introduction to 2 Samuel). They resolve the question of how God's promise to raise up one of David's sons and establish his
kingdom forever (2 Sam 7.12–13
) is to be fulfilled.
The Abishag incident suggests to the watching court that the aging David has lost his virility (see v. 4b
), and thus his ability to govern (contrast the David of 2 Sam 11
Shunammite,from the town of Shunem in northern Israel.
Adonijah was the fourth of David's sons born in Hebron (2 Sam 3.2–5
) and apparently the eldest surviving. Amnon and Absalom had died (2 Sam 14; 18
), and Chileab is absent from the narrative after 2 Sam 3
. It is not clear to what extent the eldest son was normally expected in Israel to succeed his father to the throne (e.g.,
see 2 Kings 23.31–37
), but Adonijah appears to have been regarded by at least some (and by himself) as having a particular claim. He is presented
as similar in several ways to Absalom (see 2 Sam 14.25–26; 15.1
), perhaps with the hint that similar disaster awaits him.
Support divides between Adonijah and Solomon partly in terms of how long the parties named have been associated with David.
Joab and Abiathar have deep roots in David's Judean past (see 1 Sam 22.20–23; 2 Sam 2–3
). The opposing group contains some such men (e.g., Benaiah and David's own warriors,
see 2 Sam 23.8–39
), but also others who either do not appear in the narrative before David's move from his Hebron stronghold to Jerusalem in
2 Sam 5.6–10
(Nathan and Zadok) or who are previous antagonists of David's from the house of Saul (Shimei,
2 Sam 16.5–14
). These support the Jerusalem‐born Solomon.
En–rogel, “the fuller's spring,” just south of Jerusalem.
Whether David ever really had sworn an (otherwise unrecorded) oath to Bathsheba (v. 13
), or whether she and Nathan are trying to manipulate the ailing king, is unclear. Their approach to him is cleverly designed
to avoid the impression of collusion.
Gihon, the main spring of Jerusalem, on the city's east side (see 2 Chr 32.30
The precise significance of the anointing of kings in ancient Israel (cf. 1 Sam 9.16; 10.1
) is unclear, but at least two elements are involved. It signifies both the consecration of the king and his authorization
The Cherethites and Pelethites are probably the servants of v.33
;—David's own personal troops, most likely of Cretan and Philistine origin.
Horn of oil,
see 1 Sam 16.1n.
Tent, where the ark of the covenant was kept; see 2 Sam 6.17; 7.2
Pipes, elsewhere the NRSV translates as “flutes.”
Adonijah seeks refuge in the tent of the LORD, grasping the horns of the altar (projections at the four corners of the altar, see Ex 29.12; 30.10; Lev 4.7; Ps 118.27
), because sacred areas were often places of asylum and refuge (but see Ex 21.12–14
). He is confident that Solomon will not inflict violence upon him there (but see 2.29–30
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