Matthew Poole's Commentary
But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites;Solomon’s wives and concubines, which in his old age seduce him to idolatry, 1 Kings 11:1-8. God threateneth him, 1 Kings 11:9-13. His adversaries are, Hadad, who fleeth into Egypt, and is entertained there, 1 Kings 11:14-22; Rezon, who reigned in Damascus, 1 Kings 11:23-25; Jeroboam, to whom Ahijah foretelleth that he shall be king: Solomon seeketh his life, 1 Kings 11:26-40. His acts, reign, and death. Rehoboam succeedeth him, 1 Kings 11:41-43.
He loved them inordinately and lustfully, and he sinned against God’s known law, both in their number, Deu 17:17, and in their quality.
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.Ye shall not go in to them, i.e. marry them. See Poole "Genesis 6:4".
They will turn away your heart after their gods: possibly Solomon might think himself too wise to be drawn to idolatry by his wives, and therefore to be unconcerned in the reason of the law; and consequently free in some measure from the obligation of the law; and so, like our first parents, trusting his own fancy more than God’s word, he fell dreadfully.
And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.Seven hundred wives, and three hundred concubines; partly for his lust, which being indulged, becomes infinite and unsatiable; and partly from his pride, accounting this a point of honour and magnificence.
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.When Solomon was old; as having now reigned nigh thirty years, when it might have been expected that age should have cooled his lust, and experience have made him wiser and better, and when probably he was secure as to any such miscarriages; then God permitted him to fall so shamefully, that he might be to all succeeding generations an example of God’s severity, and of the folly, and weakness, and wickedness of the wisest and best men, when left to themselves.
Turned away his heart after other gods, not that they changed his mind or opinion about the true God and idols, which is not credible; but that they cooled his zeal against them, obtained from him a public indulgence for their worship, and money for the making of idols, and the support of the charges of their priests and sacrifices, and possibly persuaded him sometimes in complaisance to join with them in the outward act of idol worship, or, at least, in their feasts upon their sacrifices, which was a participation of their idolatry. See Psalm 106:28 1 Corinthians 10:20.
For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.Solomon went after Ashtoreth, in manner explained in the former verse. Milcom, called also Molech; of which see Leviticus 18:21 2 Kings 23:10.
And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father.i. e. Did not worship God wholly and solely, but joined idols with him.
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.Then did Solomon build, i. e. suffer to be built, or gave money for it.
A high place, i.e. an altar upon the high place, as the manner of the heathens was: See Poole "Numbers 22:41" See Poole "Numbers 23:1".
In the hill that is before Jerusalem, i.e. in the Mount of Olives, which was nigh unto Jerusalem, 2 Samuel 15:30, and from this act was called the mount of corruption, 2 Kings 23:13; idolatry being often called and esteemed a corruption.
And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.Having once given way to some few of most beloved wives, he was forced to comply with the rest.
And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice,From the Lord God of Israel; from the express command and from the worship of God; not that he wholly neglected God, but because God esteems all the worship of idols (though it be not exclusive of, but conjoined with his own worship) to be a forsaking of and departing from God, and ofttimes so calls it.
Which had appeared unto him, to wit, in an extraordinary and most gracious and obliging manner.
And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the LORD commanded.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.The Lord said unto Solomon; either by suggestion to his mind, or by appearance to him in a terrible manner, or by the prophet Ahijah, of whom 1 Kings 11:29.
I will surely rend; I will violently take away. The word in the Hebrew is doubled, for the greater assurance of the thing.
To thy servant; to one of thy servants and subjects, which was Jeroboam, 1 Kings 11:26, &c.
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.For David thy father’s sake; for the respect I bear to his memory, and for my promise sake made to him, 2Sa 7.
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.How but one tribe, when he had both Judah and Benjamin, 2 Chronicles 11:12?
Answ. Either Benjamin is swallowed up in Judah, because it was comparatively very small, and their habitation much intermixed with that of Judah: or one, to wit, of that kingdom which he here threatens to rend away from him, i.e. of the kingdom of Israel, and that was Benjamin; one beside Judah, which was his own tribe: or but one, because Benjamin was not entirely his, but part of it adhered to Jeroboam, as Beth-el, 1 Kings 12:29, and Ephrain, 2 Chronicles 13:19, both which were towns of Benjamin, Joshua 18:22. Or if God promised to give one, and gave him two, I suppose that was no great injury to him.
For Jerusalem’s sake; not, surely, for its merits; but because he had chosen it, as it follows, to be the seat of his temple and worship; it being God’s usual method
to give to him that hath, and to continue and multiply favours to them whom he hath begun to favour.
And the LORD stirred up an adversary unto Solomon, Hadad the Edomite: he was of the king's seed in Edom.No text from Poole on this verse.
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;When David was in Edom, to wit, by his army, to war against it. See 1 Chronicles 18:12,13.
To bury the slain, to wit, the Israelites which were slain in the battle, 2 Samuel 8:13,14, whom he honourably inferred in some certain place, to which he is said to go up for that end. And this may be mentioned as that which gave Hadad the opportunity of making his escape, whilst Joab and his men were employed in that solemnity.
After he had smitten every male in Edom; or, and he smote, &c., as it is in the Hebrew; which is here noted as the cause of Hadad’s flight, he smote, &c. He understood what Joab had done in part, and intended further to do, even to kill all the males, and therefore fled for his life.
(For six months did Joab remain there with all Israel, until he had cut off every male in Edom:)No text from Poole on this verse.
That Hadad fled, he and certain Edomites of his father's servants with him, to go into Egypt; Hadad being yet a little child.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.They arose out of Midian; he fled at first with an intent to go into Egypt, as is said, 1 Kings 11:17, but took Midian, a neighbouring country, in his way, and staid there a while, possibly till he had by some of his servants tried Pharaoh’s mind, and prepared the way for his reception.
Paran; another country in the road from Edom to Egypt, where he hired men to attend him, that making his entrance there something like a prince, he might find more favour and respect from that king and people.
Appointed him victuals, and gave him land, to support himself and his train out of the profits of it.
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.God so disposing his heart, that Hadad might be a scourge to Solomon for his impieties, which God foresaw long before they were done.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.Joab the captain of the host, whom he feared as much as David himself.
That I may go to mine own country; whither accordingly he came, and was there even from the beginning of Solomon’s reign; where he either lived as a private person, yet secretly working for the recovery of his crown when an opportunity was offered; or rather, by the near relation which was between his wife and Solomon’s; and by Pharaoh’s intercession he obtained his kingdom, with condition of subjection and tribute to be paid by him to Solomon; which condition he kept till Solomon fell from God, and then it seems he began to be troublesome to him, and dangerous to his house and kingdom.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
And God stirred him up another adversary, Rezon the son of Eliadah, which fled from his lord Hadadezer king of Zobah:When David had defeated him: see 2 Samuel 10:10, &c.
Zobah; a part of Syria between Damascus and Euphrates; of which see 1 Samuel 14:47 2 Chronicles 8:3 Psalm 60:1.
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.Over a band, to wit, of soldiers, who fled and dispersed themselves upon that defeat, 2Sa 10, and others who readily joined themselves with them, and lived by robbery, as many Arabians did.
They went to Damascus, when they were increased in number and strength, and took it, whilst Solomon was wallowing in luxury, and grown effeminate.
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.He was a secret enemy, watching all occasions to do them mischief cunningly and privately all that time; and when Solomon had forsaken God, and was forsaken by God, he showed himself more openly and maliciously.
Beside the mischief that Hadad did; so the sense is, this infelicity was added to the former concerning Hadad, mentioned above, 1 Kings 11:14, &c. Whilst Hadad molested him in the south, Rezon threatened him in the north. But some understand this of Hadadezer, who is here called Hadad, by way of abbreviation, (which is not unusual in proper Hebrew names, as is well known,) and that for, or because of, (for the Hebrew particle eth is sometimes put for el, which oft signifies for, or because of, as Hebricians know,) the evil which befell Hadad, or Hadadezer, i.e. he bore a grudge against the Israelites from and ever since the slaughter that Joab made in Hadadezer’s army, whereof he was a member, although he also took that occasion of making a defection from his master.
Reigned over Syria; over all that part of Syria, enlarging his empire more and more, and thereby laying a foundation for much misery to Solomon’s house and kingdom.
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.i.e. Rebelled against the king; not now and immediately in the person of Solomon himself, but in his son and successor, Rehoboam.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.A mighty man of valour, or, a man of great strength of body, or courage of mind, or both.
Industrious; ingenious, and diligent, and active, and every way fit for business and for command.
Over all the charge, i.e. the taxes and tributes which were to be gathered of the people by his power and authority.
Of the house of Joseph; either of Ephraim and Manasseh, who were jointly comprehended under this name, Joshua 17:17; or of Ephraim only, who elsewhere comes under that name, as 1 Chronicles 5:1 Psalm 78:67 Ezekiel 37:6. And it seems most probable that each tribe had a several ruler.
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:When Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem; upon some occasion, possibly to execute his charge.
They two were alone in the field; having gone aside thither for some private conference; for otherwise it is most likely that he had servants attending upon him, who, though they heard not the words, yet might see the action, and the rending of Jeroboam’s coat; and thus it came to Solomon’s ears, who being so acute and wise, could easily understand the thing by what he heard of the action, especially when a prophet did it.
And Ahijah caught the new garment that was on him, and rent it in twelve pieces:No text from Poole on this verse.
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:Take thee ten pieces; whence the kingdom of Israel is oft called the kingdom of the ten tribes; by which expression it may seem that David’s posterity should have one tribe reserved out of the kingdom of Israel besides that of Judah, which because of its greatness and eminency, is commonly distinguished from Israel, and that not only after the division of the two kingdoms, but even before it, as 1 Samuel 11:8 2 Samuel 5:5.
(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:)See Poole "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.They have forsaken me, i.e. the king, and his concubines, and people, who easily followed his example, but were not at all excused by it.
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:The whole kingdom, to wit, of Israel, that which I have designed for thee. Or rather, I will not take any thing, or part of the kingdom. For the Hebrew phrase lo col, which properly signifies not all, or not the whole, doth usually signify not any thing, as Deu 8:9, thou shalt not want every thing, i.e. not any thing. So also Genesis 4:15 23:6 39:23 Psalm 49:17 143:2, &c. The whole kingdom out of his hand; he shall possess it whilst he lives, as it follows; and therefore thou shalt not yet attempt to invade it.
Because he kept my commandments and my statutes; whereby he showeth that he doth not judge of men by some particular acts, but by their general purpose and course of life.
But I will take the kingdom out of his son's hand, and will give it unto thee, even ten tribes.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.A light, i.e. a son and successor, to preserve his name and memory, and to give light to the people in his stead. Kings are oft called
lights, partly from their great splendour, and partly for the counsel and comfort which their people have or should have from them. Compare 2 Samuel 21:17 1 Kings 15:4 Psalm 132:17.
Alway before me; in my presence, which is in Jerusalem, and under my favour and protection.
And I will take thee, and thou shalt reign according to all that thy soul desireth, and shalt be king over Israel.I will take thee, and place thee in the throne, as it follows.
According to all that thy soul desireth; he secretly taxeth him for his ambitious and aspiring mind.
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.Build thee a sure house, i.e. firmly settle thee and thy posterity in the throne, as this or the like phrase is used, 2 Samuel 7:16,27; but he doth not say he would do this for ever, as is there said of David’s house 1 Kings 11:16.
And I will for this afflict the seed of David, but not for ever.For this; for this cause, which I mentioned 1 Kings 11:33.
But not for ever; there shall a time come when the seed of David shall not be thus molested by the kingdom of Israel, but that kingdom shall be destroyed, and the kings of the house of David shall be uppermost, as it was in the days of Asa Hezekiah, and Josiah. And at last the Messiah shall come, who shall unite together the broken sticks of Judah and Joseph, and rule over all the Jews and Gentiles too.
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.This might come to the ears of Solomon, either,
1. By Jeroboam himself, who might speak of this, either out of vain-glory and ostentation, or with design to prepare the people for his purpose. Or,
2. By the servants. See Poole "1 Kings 11:29".
Shishak king of Egypt; who was either,
1. Solomon’s brother-in-law, who yet might be jealous of, him, or alienated from him, because he had taken so many other wives to his sister, as is here noted, 1 Kings 11:1; or might cast a greedy eye upon the great riches and glorious things which Solomon had amassed together, and upon which, presently after Solomon’s death, he laid violent hands, 2 Chronicles 12:9. All this was known to Jeroboam, who therefore durst put himself into Shishak’s protection; especially, considering how little such relations commonly signify in the affairs of princes; and withal, being made confident by God’s promise of the kingdom. Or,
2. One of another line or house, to whom that crown might descend for want of issue.
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?In the public records, where the lives and actions of kings were registered from time to time. So this was only a political, but not a sacred book.
And the time that Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel was forty years.No text from Poole on this verse.
And Solomon slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David his father: and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead.Slept with his fathers: this expression is promiscuously used concerning good and bad, and signifies only that they died as their fathers did. But hence interpreters question, whether Solomon was saved, or damned? That he was damned, some believe upon this only argument, that he died without repentance; which they gather,
1. Because his repentance is not mentioned in his history.
2. Because if he had repented, he would have abolished the monuments of idolatry which he had erected; which that he did not they gather from 2 Kings 23:13, of which (God assisting) I shall speak upon that place. But to the former many things may be said:
1. We read nothing of the repentance of Adam, Noah, after his drunkenness, Lot, Samson, Asa, &c.; shall we therefore conclude they were all damned? The silence of the Scripture is a very weak argument in matters of history.
2. If he did repent, yet the silence of the Scripture about it in this history was not without wise reasons; as, among others, that his eternal condition being thus far left doubtful, his example might have the greater influence for the terror and caution of future offenders.
3. His repentance is sufficiently implied in this, (to omit divers other passages,) that after Solomon’s death the way of Solomon is mentioned with honour, and joined with the way of David, 2 Chronicles 11:17. But it seems to be put out of dispute by the Book of Ecclesiastes, which (by the general consent both of Jewish and Christian interpreters) was written by Solomon, and that after his fall, as is evident, not only from the unanimous testimony of the Hebrew writers, who thence conclude that he did repent, and was saved; but also from the whole strain of that book, which was written long after he had finished all his works, and after he had liberally drunk of all sorts of sensual pleasures, and sadly experienced the bitter effects of his love of women, Ecclesiastes 7:27, &c; which makes it more than probable, that as David wrote Psa 51, so Solomon wrote this book, as a public testimony and profession of his repentance. And this argument is so cogent, that those interpreters who are of the other opinion confess it, if Solomon did write this book after his fall, which they pretend he wrote before it; but they offer not any argument to prove it. And therefore we have reason to conclude that Solomon did repent, and was saved.