Bible Commentary for 1 Kings 1 thru 12
1 Kings Chapter 1
David has grown old and is now bedridden. His servants were unable to keep him warm the usual way so they decided that they would find a young woman to care for him and lie in bed with him to keep him warm. They found Abishag, a Shunammite and brought her in to David but he had no relations with her. Later Abishag will figure prominently in Adonijah’s attempt to take the throne.
David had not yet made known publicly who the successor to his throne would be. So his then oldest son, Adonijah, (although he was actually his fourth son) told everyone that he was going to become king. He had already provided himself with chariots and horsemen and runners. He is described as being a spoiled and undisciplined person as his father never corrected him. He received the support of Joab and Abiathar, the priest, but Zadok, Benaiah, Nathan the prophet, David’s bodyguards and others did not support him in his endeavor to become king. He held a feast and invited all of his brothers except Solomon, which shows that he knew that Solomon was David’s choice but because David had not yet acted, Adonijah would get the support of the people which he believed would force David to back him.
Nathan the prophet acted quickly to forestall this event. He went to Bathsheba and asked her if she was not aware that Adonijah had proclaimed himself king without David’s knowledge. He advised her that for her own and her son Solomon’s protection, she should go in to see David and confirm that he had really promised her that Solomon would sit on his throne. Then she was to ask him why had Adonijah become king and was even now celebrating with Joab and Abiathar in attendance. As she was speaking to him, he would come in and tell David what had been happening. When she went into the king’s rooms, she repeated what Nathan had told her to say. While she was speaking, Nathan arrived and was admitted into the king’s presence and Bathsheba left. He said to David that he must have declared that Adonijah was to be king as he was celebrating his kingship along with Joab and Abiathar, but he, Benaiah, Zadok and Solomon had not been invited. He then asked if David had given his support and backing and had forgotten to tell them about it. David then sent for Bathsheba and he swore to her that her son Solomon would succeed him and sit upon on his throne.
David then sent for Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet and Benaiah and told them what they should do to make known his choice of the one to succeed him. They were to take the officers of the household with them and put Solomon upon David's own mule and escort him to Gihon where Zadok and Nathan were to anoint him as king over Israel. The trumpets were to be sounded and everyone was to shout “Long live King Solomon.” Then they were to bring him back to the palace and sit him on the throne where he would begin ruling. Benaiah answered the king that all that he said would be done. So Zadok, Nathan, Benaiah and the Kerethite and Pelethite guards took Solomon and mounted him upon David’s mule and escorted him through the streets of Jerusalem to the spring of Gihon, outside the walls of the city. Zadok took the anointing oil from the tent and anointed Solomon. Then as the possession returned to the palace, they sounded the trumpets and everyone shouted “Long live King Solomon.” The noise from the possession was so loud that it was heard in Adonijah’s camp at the spring at En Rogel.
Gihon and En Rogel were the main sources of water for the city. En Rogel was located southeast of the city and Gihon was located northeast of the city
When Joab heard the sounding of the trumpets he became curious and asked what the uproar in the city might mean. About that time Jonathan, son of Abiathar, came in and told them that David had made Solomon king and that Zadok and Nathan had anointed him and he had ridden upon David’s mule and was even now sitting upon the throne. All the members of David’s household were saying concerning Solomon that ‘may Jehovah make his name more famous than David’s and his throne greater.’ Even David himself had bowed upon his couch and said: “Blessed be the LORD [Jehovah] of Israel who set a successor on my throne this day while I am still alive to see it.” That was the explanation for the uproar that they are now hearing.
At hearing this, all of Adonijah’s guest fled to their homes and Adonijah, fearful of being put to death by Solomon, went to the Tabernacle and grabbed hold of the horns of the copper altar and vowed to remain there until Solomon agreed to pardon him. When Solomon was told this, he agreed that he would not put him to death as long as he conducted himself in an honorable manner by accepting Solomon as his king and doing nothing else to secure the kingship. But if he were later found to be wicked, he would die. Solomon then had him brought from the altar and he came in and prostrated himself before him.
1 Kings Chapter 2
David is now near death and he charges Solomon to observe Jehovah’s requirements, walk in his ways, and keep his laws, decrees and ordinances found in the Law of Moses so that he would succeed in all that he did. Then Jehovah would fulfill His promise to him that if his sons were obedient, there would always be a descendant of David sitting upon his throne. (Verse 4; See Psalms 132:12)
The WTS believes that this lineage of descendants sitting upon David’s throne was in fulfillment of the Davidic covenant recorded at 2 Samuel 7:12-15. As we stated in the commentary on these verses, this promise would be fulfilled upon just one of David’s descendants, and the fulfillment of this promise would not be dependent upon whether or not there was a line of kings from David ruling on his throne. David recognized that this promise of a line of kings would be kept only if his descendants were obedient, but the covenant that Jehovah made with him would with absolute certainty be fulfilled.
David now reminds Solomon of the men who had not acted in strict loyalty to him and who needed to be punished. Joab had murdered two men that David had chosen to be commanders of the army, Abner and Amasa, and he had acted in a time of peace in the same manner as he would have had there been war. He had stained ‘the belt around his waist and his sandals’ with the blood of innocent men and therefore he had to be punished and Solomon was the one to do it. He was to show kindness to the sons of Barzillai because Barzillai had given David assistance when he was fleeing from his son, Absalom. He was to also to take action against Shimei who had call down bitter curses upon David at this time, but who later had got David to swear to him that he would not put him to death. Solomon was not to allow him to go unpunished.
Then David died and was buried in the City of David. He had ruled Israel for forty years, seven years in Hebron and thirty-three years in Jerusalem. His son Solomon now sat on his throne and his kingdom was firmly established. Adonijah had not accepted Solomon as his king because he still believed that he should have been king and he devised a plot to secure for himself some claim to the throne. He went to Bathsheba and told her that she knew that, for all practical purposes, the kingdom was his and the people had accepted him as their king but now it had been turned over to Solomon by Jehovah’s decree. So, his only request was that she would speak to Solomon for him and ask if he could have Abishag, the Shunammite for his wife. Bathsheba had no qualms in agreeing to do this. As it was widely known that David had had no relations with her, Bathsheba may have thought that this meant that she was not a concubine of David and therefore not a part of the wifely harem of the king, so she could leave and become the wife of another. But she was sadly mistaken.
When she spoke to Solomon concerning Adonijah’s request, he said to her that she might as well have asked for the kingdom for him. Solomon knew that this request was a means to establish a claim to the throne because all of the people regarded Abishag as a part of David’s harem. He then swore by Jehovah who had made him king that Adonijah had sealed him own doom. He sent Benaiah to kill Adonijah.
He then dismissed Abiathar from being high priest of God and told him that although he deserved to die, he would not kill him because he had carried the ark of God before David and had suffered with David during those years that Saul was pursuing him. This dismissal, in part, fulfilled Jehovah’s word against the house of Eli. (1 Samuel 2:31-36)
Joab heard that Solomon had put Adonijah to death so he fled to the tent and took hold of the horns of the altar because he, too, had supported Adonijah’s kingship. Solomon sent Benaiah to the tent to get Joab but Joab refused to leave the altar. Benaiah did not want to put Joab to death beside the altar but Solomon ordered his to do it in order that the innocent blood that Joab had spilled would not come upon Solomon’s house but would return upon Joab’s head and upon his descendants. So Benaiah put him to death at the altar and they buried Joab at his own house. Solomon then appointed Benaiah to take Joab’s place as commander of his army and he appointed Zadok as high priest in Abiathar’s place.
He now turned his attention to Shimei. He sent for him and told him to build a house in Jerusalem to live in and he was not to leave the city for any reason. On the day that he left Jerusalem, he would be put to death. Shimei swore that he would obey this order from the king. But three years later, two of his servants ran away and went to Gath. Shimei saddled his donkey and went to Gath and brought his servants back. Shimei has now shown that his attitude had not changed. He was as disrespectful to Solomon as he had been to David. Solomon was told that Shimei had left Jerusalem and he sent for him and reminded him that he had on oath agreed that he would not leave the city under penalty of death. Now he had not kept his sworn oath, so all of the evil that he had done to David was going to return upon him. But Solomon would be blessed because he had been very fair to Shimei. Benaiah was now called upon to execute Shimei. Solomon’s throne was now firmly established in that all of his enemies had been dealt with.
1 Kings Chapter 3
Solomon now formed a marriage alliance with the king of Egypt and took his daughter as his wife. He brought her to the city of David to live until he built his palace and a place for her to live. She, however, did not live in David’s palace.
The NIV Bible Commentary, Volume I, page 495 says this of this alliance: “The rendering “made an alliance with Pharaoh” reflects accurately the Hebrew (lit.,“became Pharaoh’s son-in-law), which stresses the relationship between father-in-law and bridegroom rather than that between the bride and bridegroom. This was a rather common practice for cementing and maintaining international agreements and securing a nation’s borders.”
The people were sacrificing on the high places as the people who lived in the land before them had done because there was no house built for Jehovah’s name. Solomon, though we are told that he loved Jehovah and he walked in the statutes of David, also sacrificed and burned incense on the high places, something that David had not done. Solomon went to Gibeon, which was considered the most important high place because this is where the tabernacle that Moses built was, to sacrifice offering on the altar there and Jehovah appeared to him in a dream and said, “Ask what you wish me to give you.” Solomon said to Jehovah that he had shown loving kindness to David because he walked in faithfulness and uprightness of heart before Him and He has also continued that loving kindness by putting him on his throne in place of David.
Because Solomon recognized that he was inexperienced in matters of judging, he asked Jehovah for a discerning heart so that he could make decision that would be beneficial to the people and to be able to distinguish between right and wrong. This request pleased Jehovah so that he said to him: “Because you have asked this thing and have not asked for long life nor riches for yourself nor for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself discernment to understand justice, behold, I have done according to your words. Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you.” (Verses 11, 12) Jehovah also promised to give Solomon both riches and honor, so that there would be no one like him all the days of his life. If Solomon would walk in Jehovah’s ways and keep his statutes and commandments as his father, David, had, He would also give him long life. When Solomon awoke from that dream, he returned to Jerusalem and he offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Ark of the Covenant.
Solomon’s first judicial ruling is next considered where he had to decide between two women both claiming to be the mother of the same child. The real mother of the child became known when he threatened to take a sword and cut the child into pieces and to give each mother one half of the child. The real mother was the one who said that he was not to kill the child but to give him to the other claimant because she could not stand by and see her child harmed. The other woman urged him to cut the child in half. Solomon told the men to give the child to its real mother. When it became known how Solomon had determined who the real mother was, he was held in awe by the people because he showed that he had wisdom from God to administer justice fairly.
1 Kings Chapter 4
Solomon’s officials are listed in this chapter. Azariah, the son of Zadok was the priest. Many scholars believe that Zadok was old when Solomon became king and may have died early in his reign. No mention is made of his son Ahimaaz ever becoming high priest. Azariah was the son of Ahimaaz therefore he was grandson of Zadok, not his son. Azariah is also listed as the son of Johanan who was the son of Azariah. 1 Chronicles 6:10 lists Azariah, the son of Johanan, as the priest who served in the temple that Solomon built. (See 1 Chronicles 6:8-10)
Solomon had divided the nation into twelve districts, probably not along tribal lines, and each district was responsible for supplying food and supplies one month out of the year for Solomon’s household. Solomon’s daily provisions were between 150 and 280 bushels of fine flour, 300 to 500 bushels of meal, 10 head of stall-fed cattle and 20 head of pasture-fed cattle, 100 sheep and goats, deer, gazelles, roebucks and choice fowl. He had 4,000 chariots and 12,000 horses and each district was required to provide barley and straw for them also. These were some of the duties Samuel told the people would be required of them if they chose to have a king over them. (See 1 Samuel 8:14- 16)
During Solomon’s reign, the people lived in safety, each man under his own vine and fig tree. Solomon had dominion over all the kingdoms west of the Euphrates. All of the kingdoms that David had conquered brought tribute to Solomon all the day of his life. Jehovah had given him peace all around.
Solomon’s wisdom became legendary as it surpassed the wisdom of all the sons of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. There was no one like him just as Jehovah had promised him. He spoke 3,000 proverbs and had written 1,005 songs. He could speak about trees, animals, birds, creeping things and fish. People came from many countries to hear Solomon’s wisdom.
1 Kings Chapter 5
Hiram, king of Tyre, had good relations with David and he wanted to continue them with his son, Solomon. He sent a delegation to extend his well wishes to Solomon when he heard that he had been anointed king of Israel in place of David. Solomon knew that Hiram had supplied David with materials and workers when he was building the City of David, so he sent a message to Hiram stating that his father had desired to build a house for the name of Jehovah but because he had been a man of war, he was not allowed to do it. Now because Jehovah had now given them peace, he was going to build a house for the name of Jehovah as Jehovah had told David his son would be the one to do this. Solomon then proposes Hiram would send him cedars from Lebanon and he would pay the wages of the workers. It was a well-known fact that the Sidonians were expert timber cutters. This request pleased Hiram and he said that praise be given to Jehovah who had selected such a wise man to be over his people.
Hiram would have his men cut the timber, tie them into rafts and bring them to whichever port Solomon wanted them sent to. Then Solomon’s men would take them from there to the building site. Solomon would give Hiram provisions for his household as payment for the timber. Solomon sent Hiram wheat and olive oil, commodities that were scarce in his land and he also gave him cities in Israel.
Solomon conscripted laborers from among the Israelites for his building project, 30,000 in all. They were sent to Lebanon to help with cutting the timber in three shifts, 10,000 per shift, and they would work for one month and then go to their homes for two months to care for their responsibilities there. This way they served him four months out of the year. He also had 70,000 carriers who transported the materials from place to place and 80,000 cutters of stone who quarried the stone that went into the foundation of the house and his other buildings. These men were not Israelites but there were 3,300 deputies over them who were Israelites. Other nations made contributions to Solomon’s building program such as the Gebalites who lived in the conquered territory of Israel. (Joshua 13:2, 5)
1 Kings Chapter 6
Solomon began to build the house of Jehovah in the 4th year of his reign, in the second month, which was the 480th year after the Israelites came out of Egypt. This house was twice the size of the Tabernacle that Moses had erected in the wilderness. It was 90 feet long, 30 feet wide and 45 feet high, if the cubit is taken to equal 18 inches. It had a porch along the front that extended 15 feet out from the temple and was the same width as the temple structure. There were three-tiered structures built on the sides of the temple but they were not connected to the temple wall proper. Each level was wider that the one below it so that the floor beams would be supported from the ground and no beam would be inserted into the temple walls although offset beams were attached to the wall to secure this outside structure. This structure was divided into rooms that the priest could use for storage. The windows were probably in the sidewalls of this outside structure. These rooms were reached by a doorway on the south side of the temple and there were winding stairways that led to the upper rooms. While the temple was being built, there was no noise from hammers, axes, or any other iron tools heard as the stones were fitted at the quarry before being brought to the temple site.
Jehovah spoke to Solomon while he was building the temple. He said to him: “Concerning this house which you are building, if you will walk in My statutes and execute My ordinances and keep all My commandments by walking in them, then I will carry out My word with you which I spoke to David your father. And I will dwell among the sons of Israel, and will not forsake My people Israel." (Verses 11-13)
The inside walls of the temple were made using cedar boards and the floors were made of cypress boards (or pine) and cherubs, palm trees and open flowers were carved on the walls before they were overlaid with pure gold. The floor was also overlaid with gold. Then Solomon made the inner room, the Most Holy Place, for the Ark of the Covenant. He partitioned off 30 feet in the rear of the building making this room a perfect cube, thirty feet long, wide and high. He made two doors of olive wood with cherubs and palm trees carved into them and he overlaid them with gold and he made five-sided door jambs. He also made chains to hang in front of the doors and he overlaid them with gold. He then had a pair of cherubim made for the Most Holy Place of olive wood. These cherubim had a wingspread of fifteen feet and they were fifteen feet tall. He overlaid them with gold and put them into the Most Holy. They were put side by side so that their wings touched in the middle of the room and touched the walls on the other side and they faced the door. He also made two doors for the entrance into the Holy Place of cypress with four-sided jambs. He carved cherubim, palm trees and flowers on them and then overlaid them with gold.
Three rows of stone and one row of trimmed cedar beams separated the inner and outer courtyards.
Solomon took seven and one-half years to build the temple. He began building in the second month of the fourth year of his reign and completed it in the eighth month of the eleventh year.
1 Kings Chapter 7
However Solomon took thirteen years to complete the construction of his palace and other public buildings. As the NIV Bible Commentary, page 504, explains it, "this was due to the numerous public and private units that were constructed, six of which are briefly described in this passage. Also in the case of the temple, there had been extensive advanced planning and acquisition of materials. This was not the case with the palace.
He built the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon, the throne hall, the Hall of Justice where he would judge, the palace that he would live in as well as a palace for the daughter of Pharaoh who he had married. He built a courtyard similar to the one he built for the temple to connect all of these buildings. All of his buildings were constructed of the finest materials.
When Solomon was ready to make the bronze furnishings for the temple, he sent to Tyre and brought Huram back to do this work. Huram’s father was from Tyre and had been a skilled craftsman in bronze. Huram was also a skilled and experienced worker in bronze. He cast two bronze pillars and he put two decorative bronze capitals on top of the pillars. The pillars were placed near the porch of the temple, one was named Jakin and the other was called Boaz.
He then made the Sea that measured seven and one-half feet across and its circumference was forty-five feet around. It had figures of bulls below the rim all around it. It rested on twelve bulls, three facing north, three facing south, three facing east and three facing west with their hindquarters facing the center. It held about 17, 500 gallons of water and was placed on the southeast corner of the temple wall. He then made the movable stands that were six feet in length and width and four and one-half feet high. They had panels that were engraved with lions, bulls, and cherubim; four bronze wheels made like chariot wheel, bronze axles, rims, spokes and hubs. Each stand had an opening that had a circular frame for the basins to fit into and there were four handles on each corner. Every available space had engravings with wreaths all around them. Huram then made ten basins that held about 230 gallons of water to go into the stands. He placed five of the stands on the south side of the temple and five on the north side. He also made pots, shovels and sprinkling bowls of bronze.
Solomon then had the gold articles that belonged in the Most Holy made. He made the golden altar of incense, the golden table for the bread of presence, ten gold lampstands with its floral works, lamps and tongs, the gold basins, wick trimmers, sprinkling bowls, dishes and censers and the sockets for the doors of the Holy and Most Holy Place.
When all the work had been completed, Solomon brought the silver, the gold and the utensils that his father David had dedicated and he placed them in the treasuries of the temple. It is thought that some of the side rooms that were built next to the temple were used for storing these items.
1 Kings Chapter 8
Solomon assembled all of the elders and all of the tribal leaders to Jerusalem to bring the Ark of the Covenant from the City of David to the temple. They all assembled in the seventh month during the festival of Booths. The priests carried the ark and the Levites brought the Tent of Meeting and the utensils that were in the tent. The priests put the ark in its place under the wings of the cherubim. When the priests came out of the Most Holy, the house became filled with the glory of Jehovah just as had happened when the Tent of Meeting was dedicated under Moses. (Exodus 40:34, 35)
Solomon then said: “The LORD [Jehovah] has said that he would dwell in a dark cloud; I have indeed built a magnificent temple for you, a place for you to dwell forever.” (NIV Study Bible) He then turned to the people and blessed them and offered praise to Jehovah who had fulfilled his promise to David. Jehovah had not since Israel’s coming out of Egypt chosen a city to have a temple built for his name. But David had desired to do this and this was pleasing to Jehovah, but he was told that his son would be the one who would build the temple. Jehovah has now kept that promise. Solomon who has succeeded his father David has now built this temple, a place for the ark.
Solomon now offers a prayer to Jehovah in which he asks that He would always recognize the temple as the means by which His people would be able to approach Him when they have sinned against Him. Solomon recognizes that there is no one like Jehovah whether in heaven or on earth. He has shown Himself to be a faithful God by speaking his word to His servant and then opening his hand and causing his word to be fulfilled. He then asks that Jehovah would also remember His promise that there would always be a man sitting on David’s throne as long as his sons were obedient and walked in Jehovah’s way.
Solomon knew that Jehovah did not literally dwell on earth or in a temple made by human hands as even the heaven of the heavens cannot contain Him. But because God has placed His name on this temple, may His eyes be open towards this temple night and day so that He would hear from heaven the prayer of those supplicating him and forgive them. Solomon then proposes seven situations that an Israelite could find himself in and be in need of help from Jehovah and he pleads with Jehovah that he would be merciful to them as they pray towards the temple and forgive them. Several of these seven situations are actually curses described in the Law Covenant that would come upon them because of disobedience.
Whenever someone wrongs another and there is not enough evidence or no witnesses to attest to the matter, then he has to come to the altar and swear an oath before it, then Jehovah must decide who is guilty or who is innocent.
When Israel is defeated by their enemy because they have sinned against Jehovah and they turn to Him, confess their sin and pray to Him in this temple, then from heavens hear them and forgive them.
When Jehovah shuts up the heavens and no rain falls on the land because Israel has sinned against Him but they turn from their sin, confess His name and pray toward the temple, then forgive their sin and teach them the right way to live and send rain on the land.
If famine or plague, blight or mildew, locust or grasshopper or an enemy besieges them in their land or whatever comes upon Israel because of their disobedience, when a prayer or plea is made by a person whose heart afflicts him, and he spreads his hands towards the temple, then hear and forgive and render to each in accordance with his ways since He alone knows the heart of man.
If a foreigner who has heard of Jehovah comes to this temple, then hear from the heavens and do whatever he asks so that people everywhere will learn to fear Jehovah as Israel does and may come to know that this house bears His name.
When Israel goes to war against their enemies and they pray towards this temple, hear their plea and uphold their cause.
When Israel sins and Jehovah becomes angry with them and He allows the enemy to take them captive and they have a change of heart and repents and pleads with Him in this land acknowledging their sin and they turn back, then hear from heaven their prayer and forgive them. Cause their conquerors to show them mercy because they are the people that Jehovah brought out of Egypt.
When Solomon had finished his prayer, he again blessed the assembly of Israel. Jehovah is to be blessed because He has fulfilled every word that He promised Israel through Moses. It was Solomon’s desire that Jehovah would continue to be with Israel and not leave or forsake them and that He would incline their hearts to Him, teaching them to walk in His ways and keep His commandments, statutes and ordinances. He also desired that Jehovah would remember the words of supplication that he made to Him to uphold their cause so that the people of the earth would know that He is God and there is no one else. Israel is to keep their hearts wholly devoted to Jehovah so that they will always walk in His statutes and keep his commandments.
The people then began the dedication services of the temple. Solomon offered peace offerings of 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. Because of the great number of sacrifices offered, the middle of the courtyard in front of the house was consecrated, as the bronze altar could not accommodate them all. Then the people celebrated the Festival of Booths for the required seven days and they added another seven days of festivities. Then the people were sent to their homes very joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that Jehovah was showing to Israel.
1 Kings Chapter 9
After Solomon had completed Jehovah’s house and his own house, Jehovah appeared to him as he had done in Gibeon. He told Solomon that He had heard his prayer concerning the house that he had built and that He had consecrated the temple by putting His name on it and not only His eyes but His heart would also be there. If Solomon wanted Jehovah to keep His promise that there would always be a descendant of David on the throne then he and his descendants would have to walk in integrity and uprightness before Him as David had done. They would have to keep his statutes and ordinances doing all that He had commanded them. If they turned away from Jehovah and served other gods to worship them, then he would remove Israel from the land he had given them and the temple that He had consecrated for His name He would cast off and it would become a heap of ruins. All who passed by would wonder in amazement and say ‘why has Jehovah done this to this land and this temple?’ And the answer would be that it was because they had forsaken Jehovah and worshipped other gods.
It had taken Solomon twenty years to complete his building program. Hiram, king of Tyre had supplied him with building lumber and gold and Solomon had given him twenty cities that were located in the territory of Asher. The northern border of Asher adjoined Tyre. Hiram was not pleased with these cities and he considered them ‘as good as nothing’ and that is why they were called the land of ‘Cabul.’ 2 Chronicles 8:2 indicates that Hiram returned these cities to Solomon and Solomon probably repaid Hiram the 120 talents of gold at a later time.
1 Kings 6:15 says that Solomon had 150,000 non-Israelite workers to do the work of building the temple, his house, the Millo, the wall of Jerusalem, Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer. Gezer had been a gift to Solomon when he married Pharaoh’s daughter. It was in the territory of Ephraim but was occupied by Canaanites until Pharaoh defeated them and burned the city. Solomon rebuilt it and settled Israelites in it. He also built Beth-horon, Baalath and Tamar in the wilderness of Judah. These cities were fortified to keep invaders out of Israel. Solomon also built storage cities throughout Israel as well as cities for his chariots and his horsemen.
The laborers used for all of the building work of Solomon were the people who were left over of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites that Israel had not able to destroy from the land. He used them for forced labor but he did not use the Israelites as slaves. They were his princes, his captains, his chariot commanders, his horsemen and his officers who were over the workers.
When he moved Pharaoh’s daughter into her own house, Solomon began to build the Millo. The NIV Bible Commentary, Volume I, page 514 says this of the Millo. “Since the work of the Millo (or “supporting terraces”; cf. v.15) was not begun until after the queen had been moved, likely the Millo had to be located near or in the city of David and the construction activities would have been at or near the site of her temporary home. It also appears likely that existing structures may have been razed to allow the construction over a large area of this buttressing work.”
Solomon now no longer offered sacrifices on the high places as he had done previously. He offered burnt offering, peace offering and incense on the altar that was before Jehovah at the temple three times a year. This also serve to discourage the people from continuing this practice and to bring their offerings to the temple.
Solomon also made a trade agreement with Hiram where he would build a fleet of ships and Hiram would send his sailors, who were skilled seamen, along with Solomon’s servants to the land of Ophir to get gold. On their first trip, they returned with 420 talents or about 16 tons of gold that they brought to Solomon.
1 Kings Chapter 10
Solomon’s fame had spread abroad and the Queen of Sheba came to test him with difficult questions. She brought a large caravan consisting of camels carrying spices and gold and precious stone. Solomon was able to satisfy her with answers to whatever questions or problems she presented to him. The NIV Bible Commentary, page 516, says regarding the questions she brought to Solomon: “Hard questions” is generally translated ‘riddles,” which were enigmatic sayings or questions that cloaked a deeper philosophical, practical, or theological truth. They were a favorite sport and a way to test one’s mettle. No doubt the “hard questions” posed by the queen were not frivolous tests of mental quickness but a genuine seeking for truths hidden in some of the enigmatic sayings known to her.”
Afterwards, the Queen of Sheba stated that she had not initially believed what she had been told about Solomon until she personally came and saw and heard for herself his wisdom, wealth, and the splendor of his court. She said that she had been told only half of the story. She believed that all who stood before Solomon were blessed because they would hear his wisdom on a daily basis. She blessed Jehovah the God who had taken delight in him and had made him king over Israel to administer justice and righteousness. She then presented Solomon with gifts from her country, twenty talents of gold, a very large amount of spices and precious stones. The amount of spices that she gave to Solomon was never seen again in Israel. The king then gave gifts to her out of his royal bounty and she returned to her own land.
Solomon’s wealth was as legendary as his wisdom. In one year, Solomon would have an income of 666 talents of gold (25 tons, valued at $20,000,000) and this would not include the revenue that was brought to him by merchants and traders, the tribute paid to him by kings and the taxes that he received from the tribal leaders. Solomon used the gold to make 200 large shields and 300 smaller ones that he put in the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon. He made a great ivory throne for himself and he overlaid it with gold and he put two lions on either side of the arms of the throne. There were six steps going up to the throne with a lion on each side of each step, twelve in all. His drinking vessels were all made of gold, as he considered silver as of no value. His trading ships (ships of Tarshish) would return every three years with a valuable cargo of gold, silver, ivory, apes and baboons. All who heard about Solomon’s wisdom wanted an audience with him so that they could talk to him in person. They would also bring articles of gold, silver, garments, weapons, spices, horses, and mules to give to him.
Solomon is said to have made silver as common as the stones and cedar, an expensive wood, as common as the sycamore tree, an indigenous fig tree. We could say that this is the first example given in the bible of what we today call ‘inflation.’
The horses and chariots that Solomon procured were from Egypt and Kue. In Deuteronomy 17:16 Jehovah had forbidden the kings of Israel to go to Egypt to get more horses, something that Solomon had not heeded. Not only was he buying horses but he was also selling them to the Hittites and Arameans.
1 Kings Chapter 11
Solomon, in his old age, began developing attachments to foreign women, women who were part of the nations that Jehovah warned Israel not to form marriage alliances with because they would turn them away from serving Him to serving their pagan gods. Solomon had a thousand wives, princes, and concubines. (Deuteronomy 17:16) Even all of the wisdom that Jehovah had endowed him with could not keep his heart inclined towards Jehovah under the influence of these many pagan women. He began building high places for the detestable gods of Moab, Ammon and the Sidonians so that his wives could burn incense and make sacrifices to their gods and he joined them in this pagan worship. Jehovah was very angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from Him. Jehovah had personally appeared to Solomon twice to warn him about the consequences of worshipping other gods, but Solomon had not listened. (3:5-15; 9:1-9)
Jehovah now spoke to Solomon and said to him: “Because you have done this, and you have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant.” (Verse 11) He further told him that He would not do this during Solomon’s reign because of David his father, but He would do it during the reign of his son and there would be only one tribe, the tribe of Judah, that would be left to the descendant’s of David. The city of Jerusalem and the place where the temple stood would remain in the hands of David’s descendants. The tribe of Benjamin however remained loyal to the Davidic rulers so that later this kingdom would be known as the two-tribe kingdom.
Jehovah began to raise up adversaries to Solomon. One of them was Hadad an Edomite who was living as a refugee in Egypt. He had fled there as a boy when Joab had killed all the males in Edom. He found favor with Pharaoh and when grown up, Pharaoh had given his wife’s sister to him in marriage. When he heard that Joab and David were dead, he asked Pharaoh to let him return to his own country. Pharaoh did not want him to go but he did agree to do so. Hadad had longed for this day when he could finally get revenge on Israel for what David and Joab had done to his countrymen.
Jehovah also raised up Rezon, whose father had been a servant to the king of Zobah, as an adversary. After David defeated the king of Zobah, Rezon became the leader of a marauding band that eventually went to Damascus and took over that kingdom. He hated Israel and along with Hadad, they did much damage to Israel.
Jeroboam, an Ephraimite and a servant of Solomon also rebelled against him when Ahijah the prophet met him on a road and indicated to him that he would be ruler of ten of the tribes of Israel. Previous to this he had been a part of the work force from Ephraim and had worked so industriously that Solomon noticed him and made him head over the work force of Manasseh and Ephraim. Ahijah took his cloak, tore it into twelve pieces and gave ten of the pieces to Jeroboam, then he told him what Jehovah had said. He was going to take the kingdom from Solomon’s son because of the sins of Solomon, but would leave one tribe in his hands so that David would always have a lamp before Him in Jerusalem, the place where He had chosen to put His name. Jehovah further stated that He would give Jeroboam the kingship over Israel and if he would listen to Him and was obedient to all of His commands and statutes, as David had been, He would establish a line of kings to come through him. In this way Jehovah would humble David’s descendant but only temporarily. Ezekiel 37:15-23 indicated that the division of the 12 tribes into two kingdoms would not last forever, that they would one day be united again under one king, who is prophetically called ‘David.’ This will be fulfilled in our modern times upon modern day Israel under the rulership of the greater David, the Modern-Day Servant.
For further details, see the article "Ten Tribe Kingdom United With Two Tribe Kingdom......When?" at the address given below.
http//www.livingwatersforum.com/forum/v ... .php?t=306
Solomon may have heard about this promise that Jehovah made to Jeroboam because he sought to put him to death, but Jeroboam fled to Egypt where he stayed until Solomon’s death. Or, as some scholars believe, “Jeroboam may have begun stirring up the northern tribes against Solomon because of the oppressive requirements imposed upon them to maintain the splendid style of Solomon’s government thereby taking matters into his own hands. Solomon, rather than humbly submitting to God’s discipline, reacted in the manner of Saul, causing Jeroboam to flee into exile.” (See NIV Bible Commentary, page 519) Solomon died after reigning forty years over Israel. He ruled as long as his father did but his lifespan may have been shorter.
1 Kings Chapter 12
Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, went to Shechem so that all Israel would make him king. But the leaders of ten of the tribes were unhappy because of the heavy yoke that Solomon had put upon them and they wanted a guarantee from Rehoboam that he would lighten this burden. When Jeroboam heard that Solomon had died, he returned from Egypt. The tribal leaders asked Jeroboam to be their spokesman when they approached Rehoboam. After presenting their case to Rehoboam, he told them to give him three days to make his decision. So they left him.
Rehoboam asked the elders who had served under his father what should he say to the people, they told him that if he would do as they asked and would speak encouragingly to them, they would serve him always. He did not like that counsel. So he asked the young men who grew up with him the same question. They told him to tell the people that in comparison to his father, he would be even more stringent and harsh, making their lives even more burdensome. This is the advice he decided to take, that is, that of the younger and inexperienced men rather than that of the elders. We may remember that Absalom made the same mistake and it cost him his life. (See 2 Samuel 17:14) But the scripture tells us that it was at the behest of Jehovah that this occurred in order to fulfill his word spoken through Ahijah the prophet. (Verse 15)
Three days later when they returned and heard Rehoboam’s unfavorable decision, Israel now knew that the king would not be sensitive to their cause so they said to him: “What portion do we have in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse; to your tents, O Israel! Now look after your own house, David!” (Verse 16) Sheba, a Benjamite, spoke similar words to these when there was disagreement over who should be first to bring David back to Jerusalem after the death of Absalom, Israel or Judah. (See 2 Samuel 20:1) These words obviously became something of a battle cry indicating pending rebellion.
Rehoboam sent Adoram or Adoniram, who was foreman over the forced labor, to act as his ambassador and meet with the tribes but they stoned him in their anger. Rehoboam was very nearly killed but he managed to get into his chariot and make it safely back to Jerusalem. It was now definite, a division had occurred in the kingdom with ten tribes rejecting the authority of the Davidic king with only Benjamin and Judah remaining under their control. Israel, that is the ten tribes, then assembled together and made Jeroboam their king.
Rehoboam in an attempt to bring the tribes back by force gathered an army of 180,000 men to war against these tribes. But Jehovah sent Shemaiah, a prophet, to warn them not to go up and fight against Israel because it was in harmony with His will that this division had occurred. They listened to the prophet and returned to their homes.
Jeroboam made Shechem located in the hill country of Ephraim his capital and he fortified it and also built up Penuel, located east of the Jordan. He then began to reason that the ten tribes were very likely to return to Rehoboam if they continued to go up to Jerusalem to worship. So he consulted with his advisers and they decided to follow the example of the Israelites at Mount Sinai. He made, not one, but two golden calves and he said of them to Israel this: “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem; behold your gods O Israel, that brought you up from the land of Egypt.” He repeated almost to the letter the words spoken by the Israelites at Mount Sinai when they set up the golden calf that they had made. (See Exodus 32:4)
Jeroboam then put one idol in Dan to the north and the other in Bethel in the south; he built sanctuaries to house these idols and he appointed anyone who desired to act as priest at these places of worship. He made an effort to mimic worship at the temple by instituting a festival similar to the Festival of Booths, but it would be held in the eighth month and fifteenth day rather than the seventh month. He must have reasoned that if there were places of worship more easily accessible to them, then Israel would not want to make the long trek to Jerusalem. He was proved right because Israel did not object to what he did and they committed a great sin by going up to these places to worship. He himself led the way by going to Bethel to offer sacrifices in the eighth month.
There was, however, a remnant in Israel that did not accept this idolatry. 2 Chronicles 11:14-17 shows that the Levites left their cities and went to Jerusalem along with those "who had set their hearts on serving Jehovah."
By his actions, Jeroboam showed that the word of Jehovah meant nothing to him, he simply did not trust that Jehovah would do what he said. His heart was not inclined towards Jehovah at all. He had to take matters into his own hands in order to secure the loyalty of Israel. He instituted idolatry on such a scale that the ten-tribe kingdom was never able to recover from it nor were they ever able to establish a stable monarchy.
Some comments on the rise of the Kingdom of Israel
When Saul became king, there was a loose confederacy among the tribes. Through his early victories, he welded the nation into a kingdom. But his governmental style was modest and simple. He mad no great demands on the people. There was no central bureaucracy or lavish court. There is no record of any system of taxation.
During David's rule, he successfully defeated all of Israel's enemies with Jehovah's help and had, by the time of his death, succeeded in making Israel into a powerful empire. He had extended Israel's border from Egypt to the Euphrates River, subjugating all other nations that lived in these areas not occupied by Israelites. (See Joshua 13:4-7) David's main concern though was not the secular government, but was the building of the temple and the services associated with it.
During Solomon's reign, he established a well-organized and strong central government. He developed a system of taxation and forced labor to support his elaborate governmental structure and to pay for his great building projects, the temple and the palace. He brought much wealth into the nation through his commercial activities.
See the NIV Bible Commentary, Volume I, page 497 for more details.
NOTE: All cited scriptures in this commentary were taken from the New American Standard Bible unless otherwise stated.
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