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The Jewish Study Bible Contextualizes the Hebrew Bible with accompanying scholarly text on Jewish traditions and history.

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Commentary on First Kings

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Commentary spanning earlier chapters

11.1–43 :

The dissolution of Solomon's kingdom. Some of what is narrated here occurred simultaneously with what was presented in chs 1–10 . For example, Solomon's marriage to an Ammonite princess occurred while David was alive ( 14.21 ). This sugggests that the material is arranged theologically rather than chronologically; the first part narrates the successes of Solo‐ mon while he observes the law, while ch 11 is part of a section which narrates his failures that result from abrogating the law.

1 :

Solomon's diplomatic marriages reflect the range of his trading ventures and his attempt to secure alliances with kingdoms on his undefined eastern Transjordanian borders: Ammon, Moab, Edom. Malbim notes that the author's choice of words, loved many foreign women, denotes a child's lust after objects rather than an adult's love for a particular woman. This invites a contrast between David, whose impetuous acts were sins of youth, and Solomon, who sinned in his old age.

1–3 :

Having many wives violated general instructions to the king (Deut. 17.16–17 ). Foreign wives would introduce their pagan practices into Judah. The author here combines various biblical texts and extends earlier traditions that prohibit inter‐ marriage with specific nations (Exod. 34.11–16; Deut. 7.1–6; 23.4–9 ). A similar general ban on intermarriage is found in Ezra‐Nehemiah, suggesting that this text in Kings is from the latest, exilic edition of the book.

5–8 :

Solomon's tolerance of, participation in, and contributions toward foreign worship— corollary activities to his diplomatic marriages—are described and condemned by the author.

9–13 :

God's angry reaction to the actual behavior of a properly informed and warned Solomon (cf. 3.5; 9.2 ).

10 :

Alludes to 9.4–7 .

11–13 :

The final judgment compromises God's promises to David (2 Sam. 7.16 ). The kingdom will be torn away, but not the whole kingdom as it was from Saul (1 Sam. 15.28; 28.17–18 ). For the sake of‐.‐.‐.‐David is a major subtheme of the book ( 11.34; 15.4; 2 Kings 8.19; 19.34; 20.6 ).

14–22 :

Adversary, Heb “satan,” related to later English “Satan.” Hadad of Edom, also connected to the Egyptian court through marriage, threatened Solomon from the east. Solomon's overland caravans from Eilat most likely followed routes in the eastern Sinai to avoid Edomite raiders.

23–25 :

Rezon, a victim of David's victories over the Arameans, eventually wrested Damascus from Israelite control (cf. 2 Sam. 8.6 ). He may have threatened Israel with the very chariots that had been sold to him by Solomon.

26–40 :

According to the author, Ahijah's message fomented Jeroboam's action. Jeroboam's defiance of Solomon on behalf of northern tribes—no details are provided and several words seem to be missing in the Heb text—had the support of a prophet. The full measure of Jeroboam's popularity is indicated in 12.1–6 .

36 :

The image of a lamp became a special metaphor for David and for the continuity of his line in the language of the author and like‐minded people (2 Sam. 21.17; Ps. 132.17 ).

40 :

Shishak (Egyptian Shoshenq) was pharaoh 945–924 BCE. His relationship with Jeroboam bore fruit after the death of Solomon.

41–42 :

In citing the sources of his information about Solomon and indicating that he has excerpted only part of the information from them, the author suggests the veracity of the descriptions which he has evaluated theologically.

41 :

The book of the Annals of Solomon is presented as an actual document available to the author and to his readers. It is unknown aside from this reference to it. Whether or not it actually existed, the reference—like a footnote in a scholarly composition—indicates a reliance on written documents as a source of authority.

1.1–2.46 :

How Solomon became king of Israel after David. The first two chapters of Kings detail the turbulent events, most of which transpired in a single day, that resulted in Solomon, one of David's younger sons, ascending the throne of his father. The narrative line continues from 2 Sam. 20.26 and according to many scholars, is the conclusion of the succession narrative.

1.1–4 :

David weakens with age. David is portrayed as frail and dependent. Others advise him about caring for his essential needs. From 1.1 through 2.10 , where his death is mentioned, the narrative implies that David was bedridden; see 1.47 .

2 :

The warmth of a human body could have been provided by any of David's wives or concubines. Malbim suggests that his advisers didn't want him to be weakened further by sexual intercourse so they sought a suitable person with whom he would not have intercourse.

3 :

The Shunnamite, from the town of Shunem, in northern Israel. Abishag should not be confused with the woman whose dead son was revived by Elisha in 2 Kings 4.8–37 .

4 :

Attendant, the Heb denotes “caretaker” and nothing more. As a special servant, her presence was ignored by others, e.g., 1.15 . Although she was present when David was in undignified circumstances, the author makes a point of indicating that they were not intimate. It is unclear, however, if this was common knowledge.

1.5–53 :

Adonijah's attempted usurpation of the throne and its aftermath.

5–6 :

Adonijah outfits himself with royal trappings and embarks on a program modeled after the failed one of his older brother Absalom (see 2 Sam. 15.1 ), to whom the author compares him, thereby suggesting that he would fail. After the violent deaths of his older brothers Amnon and Absalom, and perhaps the natural death of Chileab, Adonijah was apparently the oldest of David's living sons and the main heir of his personal property (see 2 Sam. 3.2–5 ).

5 :

I will be king: There was no tradition of royal primogeniture, nor were there laws governing the transmission of royal authority. Adonijah may have acted not only because he thought that the young Abishag could become pregnant and produce an heir that might be named successor, but also because the incapacitated David was not a reigning presence outside of the palace.

7 :

Joab and Abiathar, supporters of David from his earliest days as an outlaw, may have become disaffected because of the erosion of their influence and prestige as some of their authority was assigned to others. See the list of officials in 2 Sam. 20.23–25 .

8 :

These were the loyalists of David's party. They would do what David directed.

9 :

En‐Rogel, a spring southeast of Jerusalem in the Kidron Valley, out of sight of the city itself (2 Sam. 17.17 ). The plan calls for Adonijah to be confirmed king by an oligarchy of a priest, a general, princes, and tribal leaders (vv. 19, 25 ).

11–27 :

Nathan's response to the plan. Nathan's motivation is not clarified by the author, but since he spurs Bathsheba to action by pointing out that her life and that of Solomon are in danger, he may have perceived that his life was in danger also.

12 :

Save your life: Abravanel proposes that the danger lay in that Adonijah knew about David's promise to Bathsheba (v. 13 ) and that should he succeed, he would eliminate potential threats to his rule.

13 :

The key to Nathan's plan is the oath David swore to her concerning Solomon. There is no earlier mention of this oath. On the basis of 2 Sam. 12.24–25 , Radak infers that David swore this oath to Bathsheba after the death of their first child as a way of consoling her. Nathan would subsequently have learned of it from Bathsheba. Some interpreters suggest that Nathan and Bathsheba are taking advantage of David's feebleness to “plant” a memory so that he will act in the manner that they wish.

17–18 :

Abravanel highlights the rhetorical flourishes of Bathsheba's calculated presentation: (1) She initiates conversation with an honorific, my lord. (2) Going beyond Nathan's words (v. 13 ), she states that David swore‐.‐.‐.‐by the Lord your God, so that his words must be considered not an idle promise to her but an oath to God. (3) She quotes and does not paraphrase David's promise, making it immediate in a historical present. (4) She emphasizes David's promise that Solomon would reign in the future so that it contrasts with her description of Adonijah reigning in the present.

28 :

Summon Bathsheba: Since Bathsheba was already there (v. 22 ), this is an indication that different accounts, one with Nathan taking the lead, the other with Bathsheba, have been combined.

30 :

In my stead: David repeats the contents of the oath quoted by Bathsheba (v. 17 ) but purposely misquoted by Nathan (v. 24 ) to spur David's response. David, however, adds a concluding phrase which, apparently, he remembered but that they had forgotten. Although feeble, he is neither forgetful nor witless. Informed, he proves capable of decisive action.

32–39 :

At David's command and under the protection of David's personal guard, the Cherethites and the Pelethites (see v. 38n. ), Solomon is confired king by an oligarchy of a priest, a general, and a prophet. The anointing ceremony (cf. 1 Sam. 10.1 ) takes place by the Gihon spring in the Kidron Valley just below the city wall; all the people by their acclamation confirm the choice.

33 :

My mule: Ancient convention disallowed casual use of royal property. David's provision of his own animal confirms that Solomon's accession to the throne is indeed supported by David and is not a partisan act (see v. 44 and Esth. 6.6–11 ).

38 :

Cherethites and the Pelethites, Aegean mercenaries in David's personal service with no ties of loyalty to anybody other than him (see 2 Sam. 8.18; 20.23 ). The former group may have come from Crete; the origins of the latter are uncertain.

50 :

Horns of the altar, projections from each corner of the top surface. Blood of purification sacrifices was usually daubed on the horns. Taking hold of them was a way for an individual who believed himself innocent of any capital crime to claim sanctuary.

51 :

Let King Solomon‐.‐.‐.‐swear: Adonijah acknowledges not only that Solomon is king, but that he, Adonijah, is his servant.

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