1 Kings 1:52
And Solomon said, If he will show himself a worthy man, there shall not an hair of him fall to the earth: but if wickedness shall be found in him, he shall die.
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(52) There shall not a hair of him fall.—Solomon’s pardon, though according to Oriental ideas, an act of extraordinary grace, was yet characteristically cautious and conditional, to be withdrawn accordingly on the first symptom of any renewal of Adonijah’s pretensions.

1 Kings 1:52-53. And Solomon said, &c. — Solomon did not swear unto him, as he desired, but only declared that he gave him a full pardon for what was past, on condition that he behaved himself as became a good subject for the time to come. But if wickedness be found in him, he shall die — That is, if he did any thing in future which manifested that he had still a rebellious mind, the pardon, now granted, should signify nothing, because he had broken the condition of it. He came and bowed himself to King Solomon — Thereby owning him for his sovereign, such respect not being otherwise due from one brother to another. And Solomon said unto him, Go to thy house — There to lead a private life, without noise, equipage, or numerous attendants, and not meddling with the affairs of the kingdom. 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.There shalt not an hair ... - This was a proverbial expression, meaning "he shall suffer no hurt at all." Solomon's clemency in pardoning Adonijah is very remarkable. In the East not only are pretenders almost always punished with death, but it has often been the custom for each king upon his accession to put to death all his brothers as mere possible pretenders. 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.

A worthy man, Heb. a man of strength or courage; for it requires great strength of mind and resolution to resist all temptations of vice, and to do virtuously.

There shall not an hair of him fall to the earth: herein Solomon manifests his clemency and brotherly affection, and withal his prudence in sparing him, whom, being his brother, and his eldest brother too, it would have been invidious to have slain.

If wickedness shall be found in him; not only if he shall be guilty of some capital crime, but of any great wickedness or evil design; for as this pardon was Solomon’s free act, so he might justly qualify it as he pleased. And Solomon said, if he will show himself a worthy man,.... Will behave himself well as a good subject, and be careful not to offend for the future, or appear to be one that fears sin, as the Targum; particularly the crimes of sedition, rebellion, and treason:

there shall not an hair of him fall to the earth; not the least harm should be done him:

but if wickedness shall be found in him, he shall die; that is, if any crime worthy of death be committed by him, or any overt act of treason, and the like, he should surely be put to death, and find no mercy, notwithstanding the present general pardon. This was very wisely done by Solomon, to begin his reign without shedding blood even of delinquents; and especially of his brother, and his elder brother too; and by granting his life for the future on his good behaviour.

And Solomon said, If he will show himself a worthy man, there shall not an hair of him fall to the earth: but if wickedness shall be found in him, he shall die.
52. not a hair of him fall to the earth] The expression is common and proverbial to express that no harm of any kind shall befall. Cf. 1 Samuel 14:45; 2 Samuel 14:11.

if wickedness shall be found in him] Josephus gives the sense: ‘If he shall again be caught with any new plots.’Jonathan replied: אבל, "yea but," corresponding to the Latin imo vero, an expression of assurance with a slight doubt, and then related that Solomon had been anointed king by David's command, and the city was in a joyous state of excitement in consequence (תּהם as in Ruth 1:19), and that he had even ascended the throne, that the servants of the king had blessed David for it, and that David himself had worshipped and praised Jehovah the God of Israel that he had lived to see his son ascend the throne. The repetition of וגם three times (1 Kings 1:46-48) gives emphasis to the words, since every new point which is introduced with וגם raises the thing higher and higher towards absolute certainty. The fact related in 1 Kings 1:47 refers to the words of Benaiah in 1 Kings 1:36 and 1 Kings 1:37. The Chethib אלהיך is the correct reading, and the Keri אלהים an unnecessary emendation. The prayer to God, with thanksgiving for the favour granted to him, was offered by David after the return of his anointed son Solomon to the royal palace; so that it ought strictly to have been mentioned after 1 Kings 1:40. The worship of grey-headed David upon the bed recalls to mind the worship of the patriarch Jacob after making known his last will (Genesis 47:31).
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