Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites;Chap. 1 Kings 11:1-8. Strange wives turn away Solomon’s heart (Not in Chronicles)
1. Solomon loved many strange women] Where polygamy was common there would be a great temptation to a powerful king to connect himself by marriage with all the nations about him. At the same time a large harem was an element in Oriental pomp. Most of these women were heathen, and their worship would be practised in the harem. In all the nations of antiquity women had special religious observances which they practised without the assistance of the priests. But Solomon built temples for foreign worship. It seems from 1 Kings 11:8 that these were for the women. If this were so they must have come, under attendance no doubt, from the harem to the Temple. In taking Pharaoh’s daughter Solomon had joined to him a mighty but somewhat distant monarch. The other nations mentioned in this verse were close at hand. Edom bordered on the south of Palestine, Moab and Ammon were on the east, and Sidon and the Hittite kingdom on the north. The LXX. (Vat.) adds Syrian and Amorite wives to the number, and incorporates part of 1 Kings 11:3 with this verse.
Of this part of Solomon’s conduct and character no mention is made in the books of the Chronicles.
Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love.2. of the nations concerning which the Lord said] The prohibition of intermarriage with the nations of Canaan is given in Exodus 34:16; Deuteronomy 7:3-4. Like so much else in the Law, it was a great ideal toward which neither the people nor their rulers were earnest in advancing, when they once became settled in some portion of the land.
And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.3. seven hundred wives, princesses] The numbers in this verse are far in excess of those in the Song of Solomon, which makes mention (1 Kings 6:8) of threescore queens. But from the instances known of other monarchs there is little reason to question what is stated in this verse. Philippson (die Israelitische Bibel) tells of the wives of the great Mogul as 1000 in number, and in ancient history there are similar examples. Many of these were probably never seen by the monarch in his life, but counted among his household, as an item of magnificence. It was only by the few who were his more constant companions that Solomon’s heart was turned away.
For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.4. when Solomon was old] At least half of the king’s reign was over before the Temple and the king’s house and the other buildings were completed. It was therefore in the latter half of his reign, and probably towards the close of that, when the influence of his wives gained undue sway over him.
perfect with the Lord] i.e. Completely devoted to His service, see note on 1 Kings 8:61. Solomon has described the state in his prayer (1 Kings 8:61) ‘to walk in His statutes, and to keep His commandments.’ The language of the verse indicates, not that Solomon forsook for himself the worship of Jehovah, but that he was less earnest about it, and allowed side by side with it the temples of heathen gods to be erected, and their worship to be something more than tolerated, even perhaps abundantly supported from his means. As it is said below in 1 Kings 11:6, ‘he went not fully after the Lord.’
For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.5. Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians] Ashtoreth was the chief female divinity of the Phœnicians, as Baal was their chief male deity. As Baal has been identified with the sun, so Ashtoreth has by some been thought to be the moon. Recent investigations have however connected the name of Ashtoreth with the planet Venus, and by some it is thought that the name was applied in some parts of the Phœnician settlements to Venus, in others to the moon. Ashtoreth is identified with the Greek Ἀστάρτη, and the name of an ancient city (Genesis 14:5) Ashteroth-Karnaim, i.e. Ashteroth of the two horns, seems to point to the crescent moon. This is accepted by Milton (Par. L. I. 438).
‘Ashtoreth, whom the Phœnicians called
Astartè, queen of heaven, with crescent horns
To whose bright image, nightly by the moon
Sidonian virgins paid their vows and songs.’
The worship of Ashtoreth was very widespread, as might be expected from the wide commercial relations, and distant colonies, of the Phœnicians. Why Ashtoreth is here named ‘goddess’ while the other deities are called ‘abominations’ may be due to the greater intercourse between Sidon and the Holy Land than existed with other countries. The Phœnician workmen at the Temple had perhaps caused the Israelites to become more accustomed to the name and worship of Ashtoreth.
Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites] This is the same divinity who is called below (1 Kings 11:7) Molech, and in Zephaniah 1:5 Malcham. Molech was a fire god, and was worshipped with human sacrifices. The root of the word is the same as that of the Hebrew word for ‘king.’ Hence some think ‘their king’ in 2 Samuel 12:30 means Molech, the god of the Ammonites. There are numerous allusions in the Old Test. to the worship of this god, the phrase most common being ‘to make their children to pass through the fire to Molech.’ See 2 Kings 23:10; 2 Kings 23:13. Some have explained this not as actual burning of the children to death, but as a passing of them between two fires for an ordeal of purification. But in 2 Chronicles 28:3 it is said of Ahaz, ‘He burnt incense in the valley of the son of Hinnom, and burnt his children in the fire, after the abominations of the nations whom Jehovah had driven out.’ And the actual burning of the children thus offered is alluded to very plainly in Jeremiah 7:31, ‘They have built the high places of Tophet, … to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire.’ The tradition is that the statue of Molech was of brass and the hands so arranged that the victim slipped from them into a fire which burnt underneath. It may be because there were no such sacrifices offered to Ashtoreth, that she is not spoken of as ‘an abomination.’
And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father.
Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon.7. a high place] That ‘high places’ were not abolished in Solomon’s time we can see from 1 Kings 3:2-3, where see notes. The idea was that on a lofty height the worshipper drew nearer to his god, and so was able to offer a more acceptable sacrifice. Hence the erection of altars on the tops of hills, and these were frequently accompanied with some house or shrine for the image of the god, and hence we read of the ‘houses of the high places.’ Cf. 1 Kings 12:31; 1 Kings 13:32; 2 Kings 17:29; 2 Kings 17:32; 2 Kings 23:19. This form of worshipping was so firmly rooted among the Israelites that we read of it constantly down to the reign of Josiah, by whom at length it appears to have been put down (2 Kings 23:19).
for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab] Chemosh, though generally called the national god of the Moabites, is said (Jdg 11:24) to have been also the god of the Ammonites. He is first mentioned in Numbers 21:29. The worship now introduced into Jerusalem by Solomon was put down by Josiah (2 Kings 23:13). There is nothing in any of the Biblical notices to guide us to an opinion either about the meaning of the name or the nature of the worship offered to Chemosh. An ancient Jewish tradition relates that Chemosh was worshipped under the form of a black star, hence some have identified him with Saturn. But this is no more than conjecture. Milton alludes to the identification of Chemosh with Baal-peor:
‘Peor his other name, when he enticed
Israel in Sittim on their march from Nile.’
Par. L. I. 412.
in the hill that is before Jerusalem] The hill facing Jerusalem is the mount of Olives. It is described in Ezekiel 11:23 as ‘the mountain which is on the east side of the city,’ and in Zechariah 14:4 as ‘the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east.’ The LXX. (Vat.) has omitted any mention of ‘the hill before Jerusalem.’ Milton alludes to the position of these idolatrous erections:
‘the wisest heart
Of Solomon he led by fraud to build
His temple right against the temple of God
On that opprobrious hill.’
Par. L. I. 400.
The last words allude to a name given to this height in consequence of these buildings, ‘Mons offensionis.’ This name is said (Dictionary of Bible, 11. 627) to be of late origin. But the words occur in the Vulgate (2 Kings 23:13) ‘ad dexteram partem montis offensionis.’
and for Molech] See above on Milcom in 1 Kings 11:5. The LXX. translates the proper name, and reads καὶ τῷ βασιλεῖ. Milton also reminds us that the word could be translated:
‘First Moloch, horrid king, besmeared with blood
Of human sacrifice, and parents’ tears
Though for the noise of drums and timbrels loud
Their children’s cries unheard.’
The allusion in the last words is to the name ‘Tophet,’ as the valley of the son of Hinnom was called where the Moloch-worship went on. This was thought by some to be derived from the Hebrew word תף (toph) a timbrel. Hence the tradition of drums beaten to drown the cries of the suffering children. There is no warrant for the derivation, nor probably for the tradition. On the whole subject, see Selden, de Dis Syris, p. 172.
And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.8. and likewise did he for all his strange wives] i.e. For such of them as desired a special place for their worship. Ashtoreth, Chemosh and Moloch would suffice for the greater number, but we know of other gods among the nations round about, and the text implies that all were equally regarded. In the LXX. (Vat.) the order of these eight verses is considerably varied from the Hebrew text, and the narrative commences somewhat differently, thus: ‘And king Solomon was a lover of women, and he had 700 wives, princesses, and 300 concubines.’
And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice,9–13. Anger of the Lord at these offences (Not in Chronicles)
9. which had appeared unto him twice] See 1 Kings 3:5 for the first appearance of the Lord in Gibeon; and (1 Kings 9:2) for the second when the Temple and the king’s house were finished.
And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the LORD commanded.10. and had commanded him concerning this thing] The command is recorded in substance in 1 Kings 6:12 and 1 Kings 9:6. No allusion is made in either place to the sort of temptation which led Solomon into this sin.
but he kept not that which the Lord commanded] Instead of these words the LXX. gives ‘and his heart was not perfect with the Lord, as the heart of David his father’: a repetition of a part of 1 Kings 11:4.
Wherefore the LORD said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant.11. the Lord said unto Solomon] The message was perhaps by the mouth of one of the Prophets. The visions vouchsafed to Solomon had been in the time of his obedience.
Forasmuch as this is done of thee] Literally ‘this is with thee.’ This is not an unusual form of expression for the plan or course of action which any one has adopted. Cf. Job 10:13, ‘And these things hast thou hid in thine heart, I know that this is with thee.’ See also Job 9:35 and margin of A. V.
I will surely rend] The same verb is used of the symbolical action of Ahijah (see below, 1 Kings 11:30), by which this tearing away of the greater part of the kingdom was typified.
to thy servant] For the position occupied by Jeroboam, see below, 1 Kings 11:28.
Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy father's sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son.12. in thy days I will not do it] For a similar postponement of God’s penalty, cf. the history of Ahab (1 Kings 21:29).
for David thy father’s sake] An example of God’s mercy shewn towards the descendants of them that love Him, as promised in the second commandment (Exodus 20:6), and typifying that fuller mercy which was to be shewn for the sake of the obedience of Christ.
Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant's sake, and for Jerusalem's sake which I have chosen.13. but will give one tribe] The reference is to the tribe of Judah from which the southern kingdom took its name. Benjamin which went with Judah was so small as to be hardly worth accounting of, and Simeon was also absorbed in Judah. The same form of words is used below (1 Kings 11:32) in the account of Ahijah’s action, though it is expressly said in a previous verse ‘Take thee ten pieces.’ One reason for the close union of Benjamin with Judah was that the territorial division between the two tribes was such as to make the Temple the common property of both. The city of the Jebusite, which David conquered, and all the ground north of the valley of Hinnom was in the tribe of Benjamin.
for Jerusalem’s sake, which I have chosen] In Deuteronomy 12:5 it is signified that God will choose some place out of all the tribes ‘to place His name there,’ and in 1 Kings 14:21 Jerusalem is expressly called ‘the city which the Lord did choose out of all the tribes of Israel to put His name there.’ Hence the place was an object of Jehovah’s unchanging regard.
And the LORD stirred up an adversary unto Solomon, Hadad the Edomite: he was of the king's seed in Edom.14–22. Hadad the Edomite raised up as an adversary to Solomon (Not in Chronicles)
14. And the Lord stirred up an adversary unto Solomon] In David’s time Edom had been reduced, but in the later days of Solomon, when his heart was turned away, an opportunity is offered for the representative of Edom to seek to recover his kingdom. This was not unnatural, for the conduct of Solomon may be presumed to have estranged some of his own subjects. The writer, regarding Jehovah as ruler of the world, speaks of this occurrence as brought about by Him. He raised up the adversary. The Hebrew word for ‘adversary’ is here ‘Satan,’ which the LXX. merely transliterates καὶ ἤγειρε κύριος Σατὰν τῷ Σαλωμών.
Hadad the Edomite] Hadad was apparently a common name among the Edomite royal family. We find it (Genesis 36:36) among the list of early Edomite kings, and three verses later, Hadar, is probably (cf. 1 Chronicles 1:50) a mistake of the scribe for Hadad.
he was of the king’s seed] And, from his action, apparently the heir to the throne. This perhaps accounts for the friendly reception which he found in Egypt. His father had most likely been slain when David attacked Edom.
The LXX. (Vat.) inserts in this verse a notice of Rezon, spoken of in 1 Kings 11:23-25 below. The name is given as Ἐσρὼμ, and the notice is more brief than in the Hebrew text, and 1 Kings 11:23-25 are omitted from the LXX. in consequence.
For it came to pass, when David was in Edom, and Joab the captain of the host was gone up to bury the slain, after he had smitten every male in Edom;15. when David was in Edom] The time alluded to is the period of David’s conquests (2 Samuel 8:14), when it is said that all Edom became his servants. The LXX. says ‘when David destroyed Edom,’ which was perhaps the fact, as this verse shews, but is not stated in the earlier history. He conquered the land, and put garrisons of his own men throughout it.
and Joab the captain of the host was gone up to bury the slain] On Joab, see 1 Kings 1:7. The slain were the Israelites who had fallen in David’s war with Edom. To bury these the captain of the host was appointed, and he abode after that work was over, till all were cut off, or driven away, from whom there could be any fear of resistance.
after he had smitten every male in Edom] This can only mean, as just stated, those persons who were likely to rebel against Israel. The narrative in 2 Samuel 8:14 implies that those who submitted were left, and put under tribute to Israel.
(For six months did Joab remain there with all Israel, until he had cut off every male in Edom:)16. for six months] Not too long a time to be spent in establishing garrisons which might hold the land.
with all Israel] This like the last verse must be understood only of such forces as were engaged in this war. David with a sufficient bodyguard would retire northward, through a country all his own, and where no greater force was needed, leaving Joab and the bulk of the host to complete the arrangements for the holding of Edom.
That Hadad fled, he and certain Edomites of his father's servants with him, to go into Egypt; Hadad being yet a little child.17. Hadad fled] Here the Hebrew text by an error of the scribe gives Adad as the name. Or is it because the aspirate gave people trouble then as now?
his father’s servants] This seems conclusive that Hadad’s father had been king of Edom. The LXX. says all his father’s servants escaped with him.
to go into Egypt] In David’s days, Egypt was not, as it became in the reign of Solomon, closely bound up with the interests of Israel. Hence the defeated Edomites could look for a refuge there.
Hadad being yet a little child] Solomon uses the same expression of himself in 1 Kings 3:7. It implies youth, but not necessarily infancy.
And they arose out of Midian, and came to Paran: and they took men with them out of Paran, and they came to Egypt, unto Pharaoh king of Egypt; which gave him an house, and appointed him victuals, and gave him land.18. And they arose out of Midian] It is not easy to decide what place or district is meant by Midian. The country so called in the time of Moses (Exodus 2:15; Exodus 3:1) could not have been far away from Mt. Sinai, and the fugitives from Edom would hardly have made their way to such a distance before setting out on their journey to Egypt. If the Midianites wandered about in the desert it may be that there was some more northern district nearer to the south-west of Edom which was called after them. Of this however we have no information.
The LXX. here reads ἐκ τῆς πόλεως Μαδιάμ, thus explaining the word as the name of a city. There is however a difference of reading in Jdg 10:12 which may help us. There we read ‘The Zidonians and Amalek and Maon did oppress you … and I delivered you out of their hand.’ Now instead of Maon the LXX. in that passage gives Madiam. The two words appear in Hebrew as מצון and מדין respectively, very closely resembling each other. But in the book of Judges ‘Maon’ is not mentioned among the enemies of Israel, but the Midianites play a conspicuous part. It seems likely therefore that the LXX. is correct and that in Jdg 10:12 ‘Midian’ should be read instead of ‘Maon’.
In the present verse it would almost seem as if the contrary change should be made. We read of Maon among the cities on the south of Judah, and not far from Paran, in the story of Nabal (1 Samuel 25:2). There we read that David could send men from the wilderness of Paran up to Maon, and when they came back rudely repulsed could set forth himself to chastise Nabal. If we suppose these fugitive Edomites to have taken refuge for a brief time in the mountainous district of south Judah, where Maon was, the rest of their proceedings becomes explicable. They came from Maon to the wilderness of Paran, found some men there, either fellow fugitives or others, whom they took as guides and a convoy and thus made their way to Egypt.
Paran] By this name seems to be meant that wilderness which beginning on the south of Judah and south-west of Edom is now known as El-Tih, and which was the scene of the wanderings of the Israelites.
unto Pharaoh king of Egypt] This king may have been the immediate predecessor of the monarch whose daughter Solomon married. There need not have been more than 30 years, if so much, between these events in David’s life, and the marriage of Solomon.
victuals] Heb. ‘bread,’ i.e. a regular sustenance for himself and those he had brought with him. In the same way ‘land’ implies a place in which they all might settle and live during their stay.
And Hadad found great favour in the sight of Pharaoh, so that he gave him to wife the sister of his own wife, the sister of Tahpenes the queen.19. the queen] The Hebrew word נבירה (g’birah) is not the usual word for ‘queen,’ but a title of special honour, used occasionally (1 Kings 15:13; 1 Chronicles 15:16) for the ‘queen-mother,’ always a person of great influence in an Oriental court.
And the sister of Tahpenes bare him Genubath his son, whom Tahpenes weaned in Pharaoh's house: and Genubath was in Pharaoh's household among the sons of Pharaoh.20. weaned] The weaning of a child was a great event in Eastern families, and an occasion of much rejoicing. Abraham made a feast (Genesis 21:8) the same day that Isaac was weaned. This may account for the part taken by the queen in this event.
And when Hadad heard in Egypt that David slept with his fathers, and that Joab the captain of the host was dead, Hadad said to Pharaoh, Let me depart, that I may go to mine own country.21. when Hadad heard in Egypt that David slept with his fathers] Hadad’s first attempt to depart from Egypt was therefore soon after Solomon’s accession. It is clear however from the history that it was only after some pressure that the Egyptian king allowed him to go. The mischief that he did (see 1 Kings 11:25) would be by stirring up his countrymen to cast off the yoke of the Israelites. We must allow a considerable time for any revolt to be organized, and we are not told that any outbreak really took place, but only that mischief was done through Hadad’s agitation.
and that Joab the captain of the host was dead] Joab’s name would be one to spread terror, because of the severity he had displayed toward Edom. (See above, 1 Kings 11:15-16.) Hadad therefore waited to hear of his death also, before he ventured to take any step for his own restoration.
Then Pharaoh said unto him, But what hast thou lacked with me, that, behold, thou seekest to go to thine own country? And he answered, Nothing: howbeit let me go in any wise.22. And he answered, Nothing] The Hebrew has for the last word only the simple negative ‘Not.’ (See A.V. marg.) The verb ‘I have lacked’ is to be supplied.
let me go in any wise] The verb is not the same as that translated ‘go’ in the former part of the verse. The R.V. marks the difference by rendering depart here, as the word corresponds to that so translated in 21.
Here the LXX. (Vat.) has in addition ‘And Hadad (Ἄδερ) returned to his own land. This is the evil which Hadad: and he was indignant against Israel, and reigned in the land of Edom.’ Then 1 Kings 11:23-25 are omitted, having been partly represented by the additions to 1 Kings 11:14 noticed above.
And God stirred him up another adversary, Rezon the son of Eliadah, which fled from his lord Hadadezer king of Zobah:23–25. Another adversary raised up against Solomon (Not in Chronicles)
23. And God stirred him up another adversary] R.V. raised up, as in 1 Kings 11:14. There it is said ‘the Lord (i.e. Jehovah)’ raised up the adversary; here it is ‘God (Elohim)’ who does it. There are some who see in this variation an indication of two different sources for the text, the earlier using ‘Elohim,’ the later ‘Jehovah.’ Such an interchange might well be found in a text written even in the days of Solomon, much more so, at the date when this narrative was set down, and is much too slender a thread of evidence to hang so serious a judgement upon.
Rezon the son of Eliadah] The latter name should be written Eliada (as R.V.). There is nothing more known with certainty about this Rezon. The events to which allusion is made in this verse are related 2 Samuel 8:3-8. There Hadadezer is called ‘the son of Rehob.’ He was thoroughly defeated by David, who thereupon put garrisons in Syria of Damascus. It cannot therefore have been immediately after the overthrow of Hadadezer that Rezon and his party established themselves in Damascus. For a time, at all events (2 Samuel 8:6), ‘the Syrians became servants to David and brought gifts.’ Rezon most likely escaped when his master was defeated, and waited till a convenient opportunity offered, and then tried, as here narrated, to establish himself as king over Syria. Henceforth for centuries Syria was the determined foe of Israel. In a later chapter (1 Kings 15:18) Benhadad, a subsequent king of Syria, in Asa’s time, is described as a grandson of Hezion. The name Hezion חזיון is not very unlike Rezon רזון in the characters of the original. Hence some have conjectured that they are the same person. But there seems no sufficient foundation for the opinion.
fled from his lord] This flight may have taken place before David’s attack on Hadadezer, though what has been said in the previous note seems more probable.
king of Zobah] This kingdom is mentioned in the reigns of Saul, David, and Solomon, but then is heard of no more. It comprised the country east of Cœle-Syria, and extended northward and eastward towards the Euphrates. See 1 Samuel 14:47; 2 Samuel 8:3; 2 Samuel 23:36; 1 Chronicles 18:3; 1 Chronicles 19:6; 2 Chronicles 8:3.
And he gathered men unto him, and became captain over a band, when David slew them of Zobah: and they went to Damascus, and dwelt therein, and reigned in Damascus.24. and he gathered men unto him] The LXX. (Alex.) says ‘men were gathered unto him.’ This only indicates different vowel points to the same consonants. But the difference in the sense would point to Rezon as one whom his countrymen regarded as a leader.
and became captain over a band] (R.V. troop). The word is mostly used of martial gatherings, and organized forces, and this is the sense here. Rezon gathered, and trained his followers till they were able to dislodge the troops of Israel and establish themselves in Damascus.
when David slew them of Zobah] The two last words are necessary to complete the sense. It is clear that others beside Rezon fled away. It may have been that Hadadezer was an unpopular king. Out of the fugitives Rezon formed for himself a troop, and awaiting his time, came back and assumed the sovereignty.
and they went to Damascus] i.e. When an opportunity came about of entering into a city, they left what must before have been a wandering life of guerilla-warfare, and settled within walls.
and dwelt therein] Making a permanent settlement, and may have continued some time before Rezon was made king.
and reigned in Damascus] If this verb be correct, the sense is that this band of warriors seized the city, and made themselves in a body lords of the place and its people. But a very slight variation of the text would give the sense ‘they made them a king in D.’ which, of course, the narrative shews to have been Rezon. The Syriac has ‘and Rezon reigned in D.,’ while the Vulgate gives ‘and they made him king in D.’
And he was an adversary to Israel all the days of Solomon, beside the mischief that Hadad did: and he abhorred Israel, and reigned over Syria.25. all the days of Solomon] Probably Rezon was able to establish himself in Damascus even before the death of David. For some time he would be obliged to collect his strength to be ready for future attacks on Israel, but he may well have been a source of anxiety to Solomon from the first. Damascus was near enough, and a band of men such as those who supported Rezon would make a constant thorn for Solomon’s side, even though they attempted no regular warfare.
beside the mischief that Hadad did] This sentence can only be thus translated. There is a similar rendering of the like Hebrew ואת in 1 Kings 11:1 ‘together with’ the daughter of Pharaoh (marg. R.V. ‘besides’). But it is very questionable whether this can be so rendered. The LXX. (Vat.) which omits 23, 24, and great part of the present verse renders as if, for ואת, they had read זאת = this. See the LXX. variations above, in note on 1 Kings 11:22. These make the whole passage refer not to Rezon but to Hadad, and in consequence the word Syria, ארם, i.e. Aram, is changed into אדם, Edom, and it is certain that we do expect to hear more of the mischief which Hadad wrought. All we are told is that he got permission to come back to Edom. But we hear no word of any armament or invasion by him.
and he abhorred Israel] Though he had deserted Hadadezer this was no reason why he should side with the Israelitish invaders. They had driven him and his troop into the wilderness and no harm which he could work upon them would be left undone. This is just the sort of opponent who might worry Solomon for a long time without being deemed serious, but who might before the end of Solomon’s reign, in the period of that king’s unwise yielding to his wives, become really a dangerous adversary. With Hadad in the south and Rezon on the north, each growing daily stronger, the crippling of Solomon’s power was effectually begun.
And Jeroboam the son of Nebat, an Ephrathite of Zereda, Solomon's servant, whose mother's name was Zeruah, a widow woman, even he lifted up his hand against the king.26–40. Rise of Jeroboam’s hostility to Solomon. Ahijah’s prophetic action and message (Not in Chronicles)
26. Jeroboam the son of Nebat] This is the first mention of him who afterwards is so frequently spoken of as the man ‘who made Israel to sin.’ We know nothing more of his parentage than is told us in this verse. His after life comes before us frequently in the succeeding chapters.
an Ephrathite] Better with R.V. an Ephraimite. The word Ephrathite would mean one born at Ephratah, i.e. Bethlehem. This cannot be true of Jeroboam, from the words of the verse before us. A similar change is needed in the A.V. of 1 Samuel 1:1 where Elkanah, though described as ‘a man of the hill country of Ephraim’ is yet subsequently called an ‘Ephrathite.’
of Zereda] The Hebrew spelling requires Zeredah (as R.V.). This place must have been near or in the hill country of Ephraim. It has been thought by some to be the same as Zeredathah, which is given in 2 Chronicles 4:17 instead of Zarthan of 1 Kings 7:46, the place near which the castings of brass were made for Solomon s Temple. The LXX. (Vat.) gives Σαριρὰ as the name, and in a long addition which that version contains after 1 Kings 11:24 of the next chapter Σαριρὰ occurs several times over. It is also given by the LXX. of 1 Kings 14:17 instead of Tirzah, where Jeroboam had his royal residence. That the Greek translators identified this place with some town of great importance will be seen from the note on 1 Kings 12:24 below, but whether their identification can be trusted is somewhat doubtful.
Solomon’s servant] i.e. One who had been employed by Solomon. The works were not necessarily unimportant, on which such servants were employed. But it makes the term a little more significant if (with R.V.) we render a servant of Solomon.
he lift up his hand against] A phrase indicative of rebellion and very expressive here. For Jeroboam was one of Solomon’s own people, whose hand might be expected to be with him, and not against him. Josephus marks the difference between this adversary and those previously named, when he calls Jeroboam τῶν ὁμοφύλων τίς.
And this was the cause that he lifted up his hand against the king: Solomon built Millo, and repaired the breaches of the city of David his father.27. Millo] Read the Millo. See above on 1 Kings 9:15.
and repaired the breaches of the city of David] The verb signifies ‘to close up’ and the noun is in the singular. Hence ‘to close up the breach’ has been thought to mean the building a wall across the valley between Zion and Moriah, and so making the ravine between these mountains inclosed within the walls. This valley was known at a later time as the Tyropœon. This makes the statement harmonize with 1 Kings 9:15, where Solomon’s object is said to have been ‘to build the walls of Jerusalem.’
And the man Jeroboam was a mighty man of valour: and Solomon seeing the young man that he was industrious, he made him ruler over all the charge of the house of Joseph.28. and Solomon seeing] The verb is finite, therefore render (with R.V.) saw.
was industrious] Literally ‘did work.’
he made him ruler over all the charge of, &c.] Better (with R.V., and he gave him charge over all the labour (Heb. burden) of the house of Joseph, i.e. the tribe of Ephraim. The labour here spoken of is that compulsory work, which the Israelites did by turns for parts of the year, and which the tributary subject-population were constantly employed upon. It is not difficult to conceive circumstances under which such duty might become very distasteful to the northern section of the kingdom. For between them and the people of Judah there was a pronounced opposition even in David’s time. And the compulsory labour on the walls of Jerusalem was just the sort of occupation to aggravate this old enmity. Jeroboam saw this and took advantage of it.
And it came to pass at that time when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him in the way; and he had clad himself with a new garment; and they two were alone in the field:29. at that time] i.e. While the building-works at the Millo and the completion of the wall was in progress.
Ahijah the Shilonite] This prophet, whose home was in Shiloh (see 1 Kings 14:2), is mentioned in connexion with this prophecy to Jeroboam and again when Jeroboam has become king, and sends his wife to inquire of the prophet about the issue of his child’s sickness. A writing of his is spoken of in 2 Chronicles 9:29 as ‘the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite’. This may have contained other prophecies beside those which have been preserved to us. He was evidently a person of much importance and influence during this and the following reign.
found him in the way] Here the LXX. adds ‘and he drew him aside out of the way’: an addition which may have been made to explain how it came to pass, as is said immediately, that ‘they two were alone in the field.’
and he had clad himself] i.e. Ahijah had done so. The R.V. following the LXX. inserts the proper name in italics to make the sense clearer in the English.
And Ahijah caught the new garment that was on him, and rent it in twelve pieces:30. and Ahijah caught] R.V. laid hold of. The word is frequently used of the taking prisoners captive.
And he said to Jeroboam, Take thee ten pieces: for thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee:31. Take thee ten pieces] With this symbolical action of Ahijah may be compared the ‘horns of iron’ which Zedekiah made (1 Kings 22:11) to express most significantly the way in which he prophesied that Ahab should repulse the Syrians.
out of the hand of Solomon] i.e. Of his immediate successor, as is explained in 1 Kings 11:34.
(But he shall have one tribe for my servant David's sake, and for Jerusalem's sake, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel:)32. he shall have one tribe] Benjamin was so small a tribe as scarcely to be worth counting. Judah was to give name to the southern part of the divided kingdom. The LXX. says “two tribes,” which seems to be a correction introduced by the translators. See above on 1 Kings 11:13. All the other versions speak of ‘one tribe’, and so does the LXX. in 1 Kings 11:13.
Because that they have forsaken me, and have worshipped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Milcom the god of the children of Ammon, and have not walked in my ways, to do that which is right in mine eyes, and to keep my statutes and my judgments, as did David his father.33. they have forsaken] The examples of men in high place are infectious. Solomon’s idolatry had led away others, and involved the nation in the sin of the king. The LXX. and other versions however have the verb in the singular.
and to keep my statutes] The verb which in the previous clause is rendered ‘to do’, can in Hebrew be joined with all the nouns that follow (cf. Deuteronomy 6:24; Deuteronomy 16:12; Deuteronomy 17:19; 1 Chronicles 22:13). The English however requires a different verb with ‘statutes.’ Hence ‘to keep’ is inserted in italics, though the Hebrew construction is quite complete.
Howbeit I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand: but I will make him prince all the days of his life for David my servant's sake, whom I chose, because he kept my commandments and my statutes:
But I will take the kingdom out of his son's hand, and will give it unto thee, even ten tribes.
And unto his son will I give one tribe, that David my servant may have a light alway before me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen me to put my name there.36. one tribe] Here again, as in 32, the LXX. has ‘two tribes.’
a light] Literally ‘a lamp.’ The idea is quite an Oriental one. In the tent was hung the lamp, for constant lighting, and the permanency of the home is implied in the lamp which is not extinguished. Cf. Psalm 132:17. David’s line was to last, though most of the kingdom was taken from his descendants. The LXX. paraphrases by θέσις, i.e. a status, position.
And I will take thee, and thou shalt reign according to all that thy soul desireth, and shalt be king over Israel.37. according to all that thy soul desireth] Or (as margin R.V.) ‘over all &c.’ The prophet was, as it appears, aware of Jeroboam’s ambition. Events were leading up to the coming separation of the kingdoms, and there may have been many opportunities for Jeroboam to disclose his desires and aims.
And it shall be, if thou wilt hearken unto all that I command thee, and wilt walk in my ways, and do that is right in my sight, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did; that I will be with thee, and build thee a sure house, as I built for David, and will give Israel unto thee.38. And it shall be &c.] The condition on which Jeroboam is set up is the same as that laid down for the family of David. As in their case transgression involved a downfall.
and will give Israel unto thee] These words and the whole of 1 Kings 11:39 are omitted in the LXX.
And I will for this afflict the seed of David, but not for ever.39. but not for ever] The glorious promises made to David’s line were not to be withdrawn, and in the Messiah were abundantly fulfilled.
Solomon sought therefore to kill Jeroboam. And Jeroboam arose, and fled into Egypt, unto Shishak king of Egypt, and was in Egypt until the death of Solomon.40. Solomon sought therefore to kill Jeroboam] No doubt the aspirations of Jeroboam, and the prophetic act and words of Ahijah would come to the king’s ears, and make him anxious to remove a rival who had such special encouragement to prosecute his designs.
unto Shishak king of Egypt] This is the first Egyptian king whose name, as distinguished from his title, is recorded in the Old Testament. He has been identified with Sesonchosis, who is mentioned by Manetho as the first king of the twenty-second dynasty. He appears to have come to the throne about 988 B. C. i.e. in the 27th year of Solomon, though some calculations place him a little later. He is mentioned again (1 Kings 14:25) as coming up against Jerusalem in the reign of Rehoboam, and taking away much treasure from the temple and the king’s house.
41–43. Solomon’s death and burial (2 Chronicles 9:29-31)
And the rest of the acts of Solomon, and all that he did, and his wisdom, are they not written in the book of the acts of Solomon?41. And the rest of the acts] The usual rendering of this phrase is Now the rest, &c. and this has been adopted for uniformity’s sake by the R.V. in this place. The word rendered ‘acts,’ in this and similar passages, means also ‘words,’ and in the case of such a king as Solomon, whose fame arose greatly from what he spake, it has been thought worth while to put this rendering on the margin, both in A. V. and R.V.
the book of the acts of Solomon] Attached to the royal household was an official recorder, who kept a chronicle of events and thus prepared the sources of future history. In 2 Chronicles 9:29-31 where the parallelism with Kings is taken up again, we have the names of the writers given, viz. ‘the history of Nathan the prophet, the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and the visions of Iddo the seer concerning Jeroboam the son of Nebat.’
And the time that Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel was forty years.42. forty years] The same length of reign as that of Saul and David. If Solomon’s accession were 1015 b.c., his death took place in 975 b. c. Josephus gives ‘eighty years’ as the length of the reign. But this agrees with no other record, and must be regarded as a mistake. King Solomon was not more than 60 years old, if so much, when he died.
And Solomon slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David his father: and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead.43. And Solomon slept with his fathers] The LXX. (Vat.) continues ‘and they buried him in the city of David his father,’ and then joins on the words of 1 Kings 12:2 about Jeroboam hearing of Solomon’s death in Egypt, adding, what is not found there, that ‘he made ready and came into his own city, into the land Sarira, which is mount Ephraim.’