|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:32-53 The people expressed great joy and satisfaction in the elevation of Solomon. Every true Israelite rejoices in the exaltation of the Son of David. Combinations formed upon evil principles will soon be dissolved, when self-interest calls another way. How can those who do evil deeds expect to have good tidings? Adonijah had despised Solomon, but soon dreaded him. We see here, as in a glass, Jesus, the Son of David and the Son of God, exalted to the throne of glory, notwithstanding all his enemies. His kingdom is far greater than that of his father David, and therein all the true people of God cordially rejoice. The prosperity of his cause is vexation and terror to his enemies. No horns of the altar, nor forms of godliness, nor pretences to religion, can profit those who will not submit to His authority, and accept of his salvation; and if their submission be hypocritical, they shall perish without remedy.
Verse 50. - And Adonijah feared because of Solomon and he arose and went and caught hold of the horns of the altar. [Cf. 1 Kings 2:28. Probably the altar of Mount Zion, 1 Kings 3:15; 2 Samuel 6:17. Though it is impossible to say positively whether this or the altar at Gibeon (chap. 3:4) or that recently erected on the threshing floor of Araunah (2 Samuel 24:25) is meant. For the "horns," see Exodus 27:2; Exodus 38:2; and compare Exodus 30:2. They were of shittim (i.e., acacia) wood overlaid with brass, and served a double purpose. Victims were bound to them (Psalm 118:27), and blood was put upon them, Exodus 29:12. As to the altar as a place of sanctuary, see on 1 Kings 2:28. Evidently a right of sanctuary existed amongst both Jews and Gentiles at the time of the Exodus, and probably from time immemorial. It is referred to in Exodus 21:14, but it was much circumscribed by the appointment of the cities of refuge (Numbers 35:10 sqq.) By "laying hold of the horns the offender thereby placed himself under the protection of the saving and helping grace of God" (Bahr, "Symbolik," 1:474)
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Adonijah feared because of Solomon,.... Lest he should seize him as an usurper and traitor, and put him to death:
and arose, and went, and caught hold on the horns of the altar; either that which was at Gibeon, where the tabernacle now was; see 1 Kings 3:4; so Jarchi; or rather that which was nearest, the altar that David had built in the threshingfloor of Araunah, 2 Samuel 24:25; the altar was a sort of asylum, or refuge, for such who had committed any crime worthy of death; not by divine appointment, but by custom, it being supposed that none would presume to defile with blood that which was sacred to the Lord; or shed the blood of men where the blood of beasts was poured; or use severity and strict justice, but mercy, where sacrifices were offered to atone for sin, and mercy was shown on account of them; these were notions, and this a custom, which obtained very early, and even among the Jews; see Exodus 21:14; as well as among Gentiles; with whom it was usual, as to flee to the statues of their emperors, and to the temples of their deities, so likewise to their altars; this was customary among the Molossians, Samothracians, Crotoniatae, and Messenians; and particularly the altar of Jupiter Servator was an asylum, or place of refuge, to the Ithacians (l). Cornelius Nepos (m) has given us an instance of one that fled to a temple of Neptune, and sat upon the altar for his security, as here Adonijah laid hold on the horns of this, that none might force him from it.
(l) Alexander ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 3. c. 20. (m) Vit. Pausan l. 4. c. 4.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
1Ki 1:50-53. Adonijah, Fleeing to the Horns of the Altar, Is Dismissed by Solomon.
50-53. Adonijah … went, and caught hold on the horns of the altar—most probably the altar of burnt offering which had been erected on Mount Zion, where Abiathar, one of his partisans, presided as high priest. The horns or projections at the four corners of the altar, to which the sacrifices were bound, and which were tipped with the blood of the victim, were symbols of grace and salvation to the sinner. Hence the altar was regarded as a sanctuary (Ex 21:14), but not to murderers, rebels, or deliberate perpetrators. Adonijah, having acted in opposition to the will of the reigning king, was guilty of rebellion, and stood self-condemned. Solomon spared his life on the express condition of his good behavior—living in strict privacy, leading a quiet, peaceable life, and meddling with the affairs of neither the court nor the kingdom.
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