|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:12-25 Solomon received Bathsheba with all the respect that was owing to a mother; but let none be asked for that which they ought not to grant. It ill becomes a good man to prefer a bad request, or to appear in a bad cause. According to eastern customs it was plain that Adonijah sought to be king, by his asking for Abishag as his wife, and Solomon could not be safe while he lived. Ambitious, turbulent spirits commonly prepare death for themselves. Many a head has been lost by catching at a crown.
Verse 25. - And King Solomon sent by the hand [i.e., the instrumentality; not necessarily eigenhandig, as Thenius. Cf. Exodus 4:13; 1 Samuel 16:20, Hebrews; 1 Kings 12:15; 1 Kings 14:18; Jeremiah 37:2 ("which he spake by the hand of Jeremiah"), etc. The same expression is found in ver. 46 of this chapter] of Benaiah [in the East the captain of the king's bodyguard has always been the "chief of the executioners," the title given to Potiphar, Genesis 37:36, Hebrews; in 2 Kings 25:8 to Nebuzar-Adan; and in Daniel 2:14 to Arioch "the captain of the king's guard, which was gone forth to slay the wise men, etc.] and he fell upon him so that he died. [Solomon has been accused of "a coldblooded vengeance" and of "that jealous cruelty so common in Oriental despots," in ordering the execution of his brother. But unjustly. It is to be remembered that on the occasion of Adonijah's first rebellion the young monarch had displayed the greatest magnanimity towards him. He might then have justly decreed against him the death which no doubt the conspirators had designed against him (1 Kings 1:12.) Adonijah, by fleeing to the altar, showed that he had good grounds for fearing the avenging sword. He was clearly conscious that he had merited the death of the traitor. But Solomon spared him, during good behaviour. He warned him that "if wickedness were found in him" he should die (1 Kings 1:52.) His first treason, consequently, was not to be lost sight of, in case he were guilty of a fresh offence. And now that he is found conspiring again; now that he abuses the royal clemency, and seeks by chicanery and intrigue to snatch his brother's crown, the sentence of death takes effect. This renewed attempt, after failure and forgiveness, must have convinced the king that Adonijah's pretensions would be a standing menace to the peace and prosperity of his empire, and therefore he owed it to himself, to his subjects, and above all to God, who had entrusted him with the crown, to put this restless and dangerous plotter out of the way. To pass over a second offence would be a virtual encouragement of sedition, for it would show that the king was weak and might be trifled with. Adonijah therefore must die, not only in expiation of his treason, but as an example to the subjects of Solomon, that the disaffected, including all Adonijah's partizans, might be awed into obedience.
CHAPTER 2:26-35. THE DEPOSITION OF ABIATHAR AND THE DEATH OF JOAB.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And King Solomon sent by the hand of Benaiah the son of Jehoiada,.... Orders to execute him, and proper persons to do it; perhaps some of the Cherethites and Pelethites under him, to assist at least in it:
and he fell upon him, that he died; Benaiah rushed in upon him with his men, and thrust his sword into him, and killed him; executions used to be done in those times and countries by great personages, as the instances of Gideon, Doeg, and others, show, and not by common executioners.
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