1 Kings 1:5
Then Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, I will be king: and he prepared him chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him.
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(5) Adonijah (my Lord is Jehovah), David’s fourth son, born in Hebron (2Samuel 3:4), at least thirty-three years before. From the words of Solomon in 1Kings 2:22, we may gather that he claimed the throne as being now the eldest son. Hence it is probable that Chileab (or Daniel, see 2Samuel 3:3; 1Chronicles 3:1), the second son, was dead, as well as Amnon and Absalom. The similarity between Adonijah and Absalom, in respect of personal beauty, favour with a too-indulgent father, ambition and trust in popularity, is evidently suggested by the narrative, which places them in close connection, although born of different mothers. The means, moreover, which Adonijah employed, the body-guard of fifty men, and the maintenance of “chariots and horsemen,” are exactly imitated from the example of Absalom (2Samuel 15:1); and we note that the festal sacrifice, with the support of two important leaders in peace and war, recalls the same model. But Adonijah hardly shows the craft and ruthless determination of the elder rebel. His attempt on the crown seems crude and ill-planned in conception, and wanting in promptitude of action.

1 Kings 1:5. Then — Upon notice of the desperateness of the king’s disease, and the approach of his death; Adonijah exalted himself — Entertained high thoughts and designs; saying, I will be king — As the right of the kingdom is mine, (1 Kings 1:6,) so I will now take possession of it. And he prepared him chariots, &c. — As Absalom had done upon the like occasion, 1 Samuel 15:1.1:5-10 Indulgent parents are often chastised with disobedient children, who are anxious to possess their estates. No worldly wisdom, nor experience, nor sacredness of character, can insure the continuance in any former course of those who remain under the power of self-love. But we may well wonder by what arts Joab and Abiathar could be drawn aside.The narrative concerning - Abishag, the Shunammite (see the margin reference "a"), is introduced as necessary for a proper understanding of Adonijah's later history (see 1 Kings 2:13-25.) But even as it stands, it heightens considerably the picture drawn of the poor king's weak and helpless condition, of which Adonijah was not ashamed to take advantage for his own aggrandizement. Adonijah was born while David reigned at Hebron, and was therefore now between thirty-three and forty years of age. He was David's fourth son, but had probably become the eldest by the death of his three older brothers. He claimed the crown by right of primogeniture 1 Kings 2:15, and secretly to his partisans (compare 1 Kings 1:10) announced his intention of assuming the sovereignty. It was well known to him, and perhaps to the Jews generally, that David intended to make Solomon his successor 1 Kings 1:13.

To run before him - That is, he assumed the same quasi-royal state as Absalom had done, when he contemplated rebellion 2 Samuel 15:1.

1Ki 1:5-31. Adonijah Usurps the Kingdom.

5, 6. Then Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself—Nothing is said as to the origin or rank of Haggith, so that it is probable she was not distinguished by family descent. Adonijah, though David's fourth son (2Sa 3:4; 1Ch 3:2), was now the oldest alive; and his personal attractions and manners (1Sa 9:2) not only recommended him to the leading men about court, but made him the favorite of his father, who, though seeing him assume an equipage becoming only the heir-presumptive to the throne (2Sa 15:1), said nothing; and his silence was considered by many, as well as by Adonijah, to be equivalent to an expression of consent. The sinking health of the king prompted him to take a decisive step in furtherance of his ambitious designs.

Then, on notice of the desperateness of the king’s disease, and the approach of his death,

Adonijah the son of Haggith {see 2 Samuel 3:4} exalted himself; entertained high thoughts and designs.

I will be king; as the right of the kingdom is mine, 1 Kings 1:6, so I will now take possession of it, lest, Solomon attempt to deprive me of it.

He prepared him chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him, as Absalom had done upon the like occasion, 2 Samuel 15:1; such ill use did he make of that example, that he committed the same wickedness which he had done, and yet feared not the same disappointment and destruction which he brought upon himself. Then Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself,.... This was his mother's name, 2 Samuel 3:4; his father David being old and infirm, and not like to live long, notable to oppose him; and he being the eldest son, and a comely person, was inspired with ambition to set up for king:

saying, I will be king; though he knew that Solomon was appointed of God, and promised by David, and expected by the people to be king, yet he was resolved to set up himself for king, and try if he could not get himself to the throne; on this he was bent and determined:

and he prepared him chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him; just as Absalom had done, when he had the same thing in view, to make him respectable among the people, see 2 Samuel 15:1.

Then Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, I will be king: and he prepared him chariots and horsemen, and {d} fifty men to run before him.

(d) Read 2Sa 15:1.

5–10. Adonijah attempts to make himself king (Not in Chronicles)

5. Adonijah, the son of Haggith] He seems now to have been the eldest of David’s living sons. See the list of them 2 Samuel 3:2-5. Amnon and Absalom we know were dead, and of the second son, Chileab (called Daniel 1 Chronicles 3:1), we have no notice in Scripture, so that he seems to have died young. Adonijah stands fourth in the list; of his mother’s parentage or connexion no mention is made.

chariots and horsemen &c.] Compare the similar conduct of Absalom (2 Samuel 15:1) at the time of his conspiracy against his father. The words refer not to the preparation of an armament for war, but to a kingly retinue which should attend him wherever he went. The runners were a body-guard, and the word is applied (1 Kings 14:27) to those guards who kept the door of the king’s house. See note there. By such a step Adonijah let his intention be known and found out who were likely to be on his side.Verse 5. - Then Adonijah [ = "Jehovah is my Lord." The fourth son of David, and now apparently the eldest surviving. It seems probable that Chileab, or Daniel (1 Chronicles 3:1), David's second son, died in infancy. For Amnon's death, see 2 Samuel 13:29; for Absalom's, 2 Samuel 18:14. He must now have been between thirty-three and forty years of age (having been born in Hebron)] the son of Haggith [ = "Festive" (Gesen.) "the dancer" (Stanley)] exalted himself, saying [to him self and his confederates], I will be king. [It is not difficult to trace this resolve to its sources. They were

(1) his seniority (1 Kings 2:22). It is true there was no "right of primogeniture" in the Hebrew monarchy. "The God King had reserved to Himself the choice of the earthly king" (Keil). David himself was not the eldest, but the youngest brother. At the same time primogeniture, ceteris paribus, would have, and as a matter of fact had, considerable weight. The firstborn had the birthright; can we doubt he would expect the crown, and think it hard if he were passed over? (see 2 Chronicles 21:3).

(2) His personal attractions. Adonijah would think that his beauty and stature (Josephus mentions the latter) marked him out, as similar gifts had done Saul (1 Samuel 9:2),. for the throne.

(3) He was encouraged in his pretensions, if indeed they were not suggested to him, by others, by Joab, for example (see on ver. 7).

(4) Possibly love for the beautiful Shunammite and the desire to gain possession of her may have strengthened his resolves. It is noteworthy that he and his beauty are mentioned just after her and hers]: and he prepared [Hebrews made] him chariots and horsemen [rather horses, as in 1 Samuel 8:11; 1 Kings 5:6, Hebrews The former passage almost settles the meaning here. Keil assumes that a mounted escort is meant], and fifty men to run before him [as Absalom before him (2 Samuel 15:1). Adonijah seems in every way to have imitated Absalom. Josephus says he resembled him in disposition. Chariots, horses, and outrunners are mentioned (1 Samuel 8:11) as the very first of the king's insigina. Horses were such natural and familiar tokens of royal state (not being employed in agriculture or for travelling), that the Hebrew kings were warned (Deuteronomy 17:16) against multiplying them. Outrunners again, such as the Roman emperors had (called by them cursores), and such as we find at the present day in Egypt, footmen who precede the chariot at full speed, and by their shrill cries clear the way, are admirably calculated to impress the public mind. According to Morier, "runners before the king's horse in Persia are indispensable to the royal state." Adonijah hoped by this display of regal pomp to win the suffrages of the people.] The king did not accept the offer, however, but said, "No; but I will buy it of thee at a price, and will not offer burnt-offerings to the Lord my God without paying for them." Thus David bought the threshing-floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. Instead of this, the Chronicles give "shekels of gold, in weight six hundred." This difference cannot be reconciled by assuming that David paid his fifty shekels in gold coin, which would have been worth as much as six hundred shekels of silver, since gold was worth twelve times as much as silver. For there is nothing about gold shekels in our text; and the words of the Chronicles cannot be interpreted as meaning that the shekels of gold were worth six hundred shekels of silver. No other course is left, therefore, than to assume that the number must be corrupt in one of the texts. Apparently the statement in the Chronicles is the more correct of the two: for if we consider that Abraham paid four hundred shekels of silver for the site of a family burial-place, at a time when the land was very thinly populated, and therefore land must certainly have been much cheaper than it was in David's time, the small sum of fifty shekels of silver (about 6) appears much too low a price; and David would certainly pay at least fifty shekels of gold. But we are not warranted in any case in speaking of the statement in the Chronicles, as Thenius does, as "intentionally exaggerated." This style of criticism, which carries two kinds of weights and measure in its bag, explaining the high numbers in the books of Samuel and Kings as corruptions of the text, and those in the Chronicles as intentional exaggerations on the part of the chronicler, is sufficiently dealt with by the remark of Bertheau, that "this (i.e., the charge of exaggeration) could only be sustained if it were perfectly certain that the chronicler had our present text of the books of Samuel before him at the time."
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