Now the days of David drew nigh that he should die; and he charged Solomon his son, saying,
Verse 1. - I go the way [lit., I am walking (same word as in ver. 3) in the way] of all the earth [i.e., of all the sons of earth, all mankind (cf. 1 Samuel 17:46; 1 Kings 10:24; Psalm 66:4, etc.) The path to Sheol, the path which all his forefathers, and untold millions more, have trod, he is treading it now. The words sound like a reminiscence of Joshua 23, 24. Perhaps, too, the thought of Joshua suggested to his mind the next words]: but be thou strong, and be a man. [Similar, though not identical, words were four times addressed to Joshua (Joshua 1:6, 7, 9, 18), and David may well have thought that his son, in entering upon his difficult duties, was not at all unlike Joshua when he succeeded Moses in the leadership of Israel, and that he needed similar encouragement. It is not necessary to suppose, as Canon Rawlinson does ("Speaker's Com.," vol. 2 p. 489), that in the words, "show thyself a man," we have a reference to Solomon's youth; for words precisely similar were addressed to each other by the Philistines at Aphek (1 Samuel 4:9). The age of Solomon at his accession is very doubtful. David said, "Solomon my son is young and tender" (1 Chronicles 22:5; 1 Chronicles 29:1); and Solomon says of himself, "I am a little child" נַעַר קָטֹן (1 Kings 3:7). Josephus, probably reflecting the tradition of his time, fixes his age at fourteen; Eupolemus at twelve. I incline to think that the words "young and tender" almost forbid the favourite opinion that he was about twenty.]
I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man;
And keep the charge of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself:
Verse 3. - And keep the charge [lit., "watch the watch" (custodies custodiam Jehovae), or, "serve the service." Bahr paraphrases, "be a true watcher in the service of Jehovah." The words are constantly employed to denote a strict performance of the service of the tabernacle or of the duties of the priests and Levites (Leviticus 8:35; Leviticus 18:30; Numbers 1:53; Numbers 3:7, 8, 25, 28, 32, 38; Numbers 31:30; 1 Chronicles 23:32, etc.; also Genesis 26:5). "The reference," says Rawlinson, "is to the charge given to all the kings in Deuteronomy 17:18-20." But there is no necessity for restricting it to that one injunction. What the charge is is explained presently] of the Lord thy God to walk in His ways, to keep [same word] His statutes, and His commandments, and His judgments, and His testimonies [it is impossible to draw any clear and sharp distinction between these four words, as the older expositors do. "The phrase is derived from the Pentateuch" (Wordsworth). The force of the accumulation of practically synonymous terms is to represent the law in its entirety ("Die Totalitat des Gesetzes," Keil); cf. Deuteronomy 5:31; Deuteronomy 8:11, and especially Psalm 119.], that thou mayest prosper. [The marginal rendering, "do wisely," is preferred by some (Keil, e.g.); but the translation of the text has the authority of Gesenius and others on its side, and gives a better meaning. "The context evidently requires 'prosper' here, as in Joshua 1:7" (Rawlinson). "That thou mayest... do wisely" is a very lame and impotent conclusion to ver. 3. We have here an evident reminiscence of Joshua 1:7; possibly also of Deuteronomy 29:9. David was unquestionably well versed in the Scriptures of that age, of which every king was commanded to make a copy.
That the LORD may continue his word which he spake concerning me, saying, If thy children take heed to their way, to walk before me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail thee (said he) a man on the throne of Israel.
Verse 4. - That the Lord may continue [rather, "establish" (ut confirmet), as it is rendered in 2 Samuel 7:25, where this same word of promise is spoken cf. Cf. 1 Kings 8:26] His word which He spake concerning me [by the mouth of Nathan, 2 Samuel 7:12-17 (cf. Psalm 89:4); or David may refer to some subsequent promise made to him directly. In the promise of 2 Samuel 7. there is no mention of any stipulations, "If thy children," etc. But both here and in Psalm 122:12, and in 1 Kings 8:25, special prominence is given to the condition (dum se bene gesserint), which no doubt was understood, if not expressed, when the promise was first made], saying, If thy children take heed to [lit., "keep," same word as in vers. 2, 3] their way, to walk before me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul there shall not fail thee [lit., "be cut off to thee," as marg. (cf. 1 Samuel 2:29; Joshua 9:23). This word does not occur in the original promise made through Nathan. But it does occur in subsequent versions of the promise, 1 Kings 8:25; 1 Kings 9:5, as well as here - a strong presumption that the promise must have been repeated to David in another shape], said he, a man on the throne of Israel. But this thought - that the permanence of his dynasty depended on the faithful observance of the law as it is written in the book of Moses (i.e., in all its details), seems to have reminded the dying man that he himself had not always kept the statutes he was urging his successor to keep. It had been his duty as king, as the power ordained of God, to visit all violations of the law of God with their appropriate penalties; and this duty, in some instances at least, had been neglected. For the law of Moses, reaffirming the primaeval law which formed part of the so called "precepts of Noah" (Genesis 6) - that ix. blood must be expiated by blood - enjoined, with singular emphasis and distinctness, the death of the murderer (Numbers 35:16, 17, 18, 19, 30-33; Exodus 21:14). It declared that so long as murder remained unpunished, the whole land was defiled and under a curse (Numbers 35:33). And it gave the king no power to pardon, no discretion in the matter. Until the red stain of blood was washed out "by the blood of him that shed it" the Divine Justice was not satisfied, and a famine or pestilence or sword might smite the land. Now, David knew all this: he could not fail to know it, for he had seen his country, a few years before, visited by a famine because of the unavenged blood of the Gibeonites (2 Samuel 21:1). And yet, one notorious and infamous murderer had not been put to death. The assassin of Abner and of Amasa still polluted the earth, still occupied a distinguished position, and defied punishment. But if the law of Moses was to be kept, then, whatever it might cost, and however painful it might be (Deuteronomy 19:13), he must die; and David, for the welfare of his kingdom, the stability of his throne, and above all, the honour of God, must require his death. No doubt it had often burdened his mind, especially during these last days of feebleness, the thought that punishment had been so long delayed; and therefore, as he sees the end approaching, he feels that he must enjoin upon his successor the fulfilment of that duty which he had been too "weak" to discharge (2 Samuel 3:39). Hence he proceeds,
Moreover thou knowest also what Joab the son of Zeruiah did to me, and what he did to the two captains of the hosts of Israel, unto Abner the son of Ner, and unto Amasa the son of Jether, whom he slew, and shed the blood of war in peace, and put the blood of war upon his girdle that was about his loins, and in his shoes that were on his feet.
Verse 5. - "Moreover, thou knowest also what Joab, the son of Zeruiah [there is no "emphasis on these words: he who was mine own sister's son," as Wordsworth, see on 1:113, did to me and [this last word has no place in the original, and should be left out, as it is misleading. It makes David demand the death of Joab partly because of the private injuries he had suffered at his hands, and partly because of his two brutal murders mentioned presently. But this is just what David did not do; for he is careful to exclude all mention of his private wrongs. It is true, he says, "what Job did to me," but that is because "the sovereign is smitten in the subject" (Bp. Hall), and because the first of these murders had caused David to be suspected of complicity, while each had deprived him of an able officer. And the words that follow] what he did to the two captains of the hosts of Israel [these words are clearly explicative of the "what he did to me." Only thus can we explain the absence of the "and"] unto Abner the son of Jether [2 Samuel 3:27. This was one of those foul murders to which the law expressly denied any right of sanctuary, for it was "with guile" (Exodus 21:14). Joab "took Abner aside in the gate to speak with him peaceably, and smote him there in the abdomen"], and unto Amasa the son of Jether [or Ithra. In 2 Samuel 27:24, Ithra is called "an Israelite," an obvious mistake for "Ishmaelite," as indeed it stands in 1 Chronicles 2:17. Amasa's mother, Abigail, was sister of David and Zeruiah; Amasa, consequently, was Joab's first cousin. This murder was even fouler than that of Abner. Here there were ties of blood; they were companions in arms, and there was no pretence of a vendetta], whom he slew and shed [lit., "put," a somewhat strange expression. It almost looks as if עָלָיו, "upon him," had dropped out. The meaning "make," which Keil assigns to שִׂים is not borne out by his references, Deuteronomy 14:1; Exodus 10:2. "Showed," "displayed," is nearer the original], the blood of war in peace [the meaning is obvious. Blood might lawfully be shed in time of war, in fair fight; and Joab might have slain the two captains in battle without guilt. But he slew them when they were at peace with him and unprepared, by treachery], and put the blood of war [the LXX. has αῖμα ἀθῶον, "innocent blood"] upon his girdle that was about his loins, and in his shoes that were on his feet [we are not to suppose that the girdle and sandal are mentioned as "die Zeichen des Kriegerstandes " (Bahr), i.e., military insignia; nor yet that the idea is "from the girdle to the sandal" (Ewald), i.e., copiously. These are, usual (hardly "principal," as Keil) articles of Eastern dress, of the civilian's as well as of the soldier's, and these two are mentioned because, no doubt, the horrible details of the two murders, and especially of the last (see 2 Samuel 20:8), had been reported to David. He had been told at the time how the blood of Amasa had spurted on to the girdle of Joab, and streamed down into his sandals, and these details, which no doubt made a deep impression upon his mind, are recited here to show how dastardly and treacherous was the deed, and how thoroughly Joab was stained with innocent blood, blood which cried to heaven for vengeance (Genesis 4:10)].
Do therefore according to thy wisdom, and let not his hoar head go down to the grave in peace.
Verse 6. - Do therefore according to thy wisdom [cf. Proverbs 20:26. It needed great discretion in exacting the punishment of death in the case of one who was so powerful, who had such influence with the army and the people, whose crimes had been passed over for so long a time, to whom David was so much indebted - Joab had partly won and had twice preserved for him his crown - and to whom he was allied by ties of blood. To act precipitately or unwisely might provoke a revolution], and let not his hoar head [see on ver. 9. Joab, though David's nephew, could not have been much his junior, and David was now seventy] go down to the grave in peace. [He must die a violent, not a natural death, as Corn. a Lap. This expression, no doubt, looks vindictive, but that is solely because we forget the character of the Old Testament dispensation (as one of temporal rewards and punishments. See the "Expositor," vol. 3. p. 114), the position of David as king (as the authorized dispenser of punishments, and as responsible to God for dispensing them without fear or favour), and the principles of the Mosaic code (as a lex talionis, demanding blood for blood, and requiring the magistrates and people to purge themselves of the guilt of blood by demanding "the blood of him that shed it"). Let these considerations be borne in mind, and there is absolutely no warrant for charging David with malevolence. Wordsworth lays stress on the fact that Joab had not repented of his crimes. But we need have recourse to no such suppositions. The Jewish law afforded no place of repentance to the murderer. No amount of contrition would cleanse the land of blood. The temporal penalty must be paid. In the case of David himself, it was only commuted by special revelation (2 Samuel 12:10, 13, 14), not remitted.
But shew kindness unto the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite, and let them be of those that eat at thy table: for so they came to me when I fled because of Absalom thy brother.
Verse 7. - And to the sons of Barzillai [the "Beni-Barzillai" would include son, or sons, and all other descendants. It is highly probable, though it is not expressly stated, that Chimham was the son of Bar-zillai (2 Samuel 19:37). Rawlinson says, "Who the other sons were is not known." It would be more correct to say that we do not know whether there were any other sons. The family was still existing temp. Ezra (Ezra 2:61), where, it is worth noticing, we read of the daughters of Barzillai (cf. Nehemiah 7:63). In Jeremiah 41:17, we read of the "habitation (גֵּדוּת, caravanserai, khan) of Chemoham," where the Keri has Chimham. It has been argued from the mention of this name, and the fact that their khan was near Bethlehem, that David or Solomon gave the family land there], and let them be of those that eat at thy table [i.e., of those who have their sustenance from the royal table, not necessarily at it (Keil); cf. Daniel 1:5; 2 Kings 25:29. Presence at the table is expressed by עַל שֻׂלְחָן (2 Samuel 11, 12). It was esteemed an essential part of royal munificence throughout the East that the king should feed a large number of retainers and dependants. Cf. the account of Solomon's daffy provision in 1 Kings 4:22, 23; also 2 Samuel 19:28; Judges 1:7]; for so [i.e., in like manner, with food]; they came to me [lit., "came near." The Hebrew קָרַב often includes, as here, the idea of succour. Cf. Psalm 69:19; Lamentations 3:57. Barzillai certainly came (2 Samuel 17:27), and probably Chimham, but the Speaker's Commentary is mistaken when it says that "Chimham is mentioned as present." He was present at the return of David (2 Samuel 19:31, 38, but not necessarily before] when I fled because of [lit., "from the face of "] Absalom thy brother. The mention of Absalom, and those terrible days of revolt and anarchy, when he was constrained to flee for his life, seems to have reminded the dying king of one of the bitterest ingredients of that bitter cup of shame and suffering - the cruel curses of Shimei. He remembers that the sin of Shimei, which was nothing else than treason and blasphemy, has so far escaped punishment. In a moment of generous enthusiasm, he had included Shimei in the general amnesty which he proclaimed on his return (2 Samuel 19:23). He had thought, no doubt, at the time only of the offence against himself; he had forgotten his sacred and representative character as "the Lord's anointed;" or if he had remembered it (ver. 21) the emotions of that memorable day had obscured or perverted his sense of justice and duty. But he has since realized - and the thought weighs upon his conscience in the chamber of death - that he then pardoned what he had no power to pardon, viz., a sin to which the Mosaic law attached the penalty of death. For blasphemy, as for murder, there was no expiation short of the death of the blasphemer (Leviticus 24:14-16; cf. 1 Kings 21:10, 13); and blasphemy, like murder, though not perhaps to the same extent, involved those who heard it in its guilt, until they had discharged themselves of their sin upon the head of the guilty (Leviticus 14:14; cf. Leviticus 5:1). But Shimei, so far from having suffered the penalty of the law, had been twice protected against it; twice preserved alive, in defiance of law, by the supreme magistrate, the executor of law. And David, who has been charging his son to keep the law, now realizes that he himself has been a law breaker. He has kept his oath, sworn to his own or his people's hurt, and he will keep it to the end. But Solomon is under no such obligation. He can demand the long arrears of justice, none the less due because of the time that has elapsed and the royal laches ("nullum tempus occurrit regi"); he can deal with the blasphemer as the law directs, and this David now charges him to do.
And, behold, thou hast with thee Shimei the son of Gera, a Benjamite of Bahurim, which cursed me with a grievous curse in the day when I went to Mahanaim: but he came down to meet me at Jordan, and I sware to him by the LORD, saying, I will not put thee to death with the sword.
Verse 8. - And, behold, thou hast with thee [Bahr understands by עִמְּך, "near thee," (in deiner Nahe) because Bahurim was near Jerusalem. Keil gathers from this word that Shimei "was living at that time in Jerusalem," and refers to ver. 36, which, if anything, implies that he was not. But it is worth suggesting whether Shimei may not be the Shimei to whom reference is made in 1 Kings 1:8. (Dean Stanley notices this as a possibility, but alleges nothing in support of it: "Jewish Church," vol. 2 p. 171, note.) We there find Shimei and Rei mentioned as firm adherents of Solomon at the time of Adonijah's rising, and in these words, they "were not with Adonijah." Surely it is not an unfair presumption - if there is nothing to rebut it - that the Shimei subsequently mentioned as "with" Solomon is the same person. But it has been objected (e.g., by Kitto) that the false part that Shimei played at the time of Absalom's revolt would have forever prevented his being recognized and mentioned as one of Solomon's supporters. I very much doubt it. The great influence which Shimei possessed must be taken into account. Nothing shows that influence more clearly than the fact that on the day of David's restoration, despite the part he had taken, and the possible disgrace and danger that awaited him, he could still command the attendance of one thousand men of Benjamin (2 Samuel 19:17). Probably the secret of his influence lay in the fact that he was "of the family of the house of Saul," and possibly, owing to the insignificance of Saul's descendants, was the mainstay and chief representative of that house. And if so, there is nothing at all surprising in the mention of the fact that he was "not with Adonijah," and was subsequently "with" Solomon. It may have been a matter of great consequence at that critical time, which side Shimei - and the thousand or more Benjamites at his back - espoused. And if he did then declare for Solomon, it could hardly fail to procure him some amount of favour and consideration. He would thenceforward rank amongst the friends of the young king, and the words "thou hast with thee" would accurately describe his position] Shimei, the son of Gera [another Shimei, the son of Elah, is mentioned (1 Kings 4:11) as Solomon's officer in Benjamin. Gera must not be thought of as the "father" of Shimei, except in the sense of ancestor. He was removed from him by many generations, being the son of Bela and the grandson of Benjamin (Genesis 46:21; cf. 1 Chronicles 7:6). Ehud, three hundred years earlier, is also described as "a son of Gera," Judges 3:15], a Benjamite [lit., the Benjamite, meaning that Gera, not Shimei, was the Benjamite. He was well known as the son of Benjamin's firstborn (1 Chronicles 8:l), and the head of a house in Benjamin. Professor Gardiner (American translation of Lange, textual note, p. 29), following the LXX. and Vulg., insists that, בֶּן־הַיְּמִינִי (with the article) can only mean "son of the Jaminite, i.e., of the descendants of Jamin, a son of Simeon." But this is directly contrary to what we read 9 1 Samuel 16, viz., that Shimei was of "a family of the house of Saul," i.e., a Benjamite. And to this the grammar agrees. Judges 3:15 is an exact parallel, and compare בֵּית־הַלַּחְמִי, 1 Samuel 6:14, 18, and בֵּית־הַלַּחְמִי, 1 Samuel 16:1, 18; 1 Samuel 17:58] of Bahurim [the name means "The young men." It was some six miles distant from Jerusalem, in Benjamin, and on (or off, as Josephus, Ant. 7:09, 7, implies) the main road to Jericho and the Jordan valley. It may have lain in one of the waddies branching out from the ravine which runs continuously alongside the steep descent to Jericho. The event narrated in 2 Samuel 3:16 as happening at Bahurim may well have served to inflame Shimei's hatred. In spite of his rancorous hostility, however, we gather from 2 Samuel 17:18, that David had some faithful adherents there], which [lit., "and he"] cursed me with a grievous [acc. to Gesenius, al., "strong," i.e., sweeping; Keil, vehement; Thenius, "heillos," flagitious. LXX., κατάραν ὀδυνηρὰν. Vulg., maledictio pessima] curse in the day when I went to Mahanaim [2 Samuel 16:5]; but he came down to meet me at Jordan [lit., the Jordan, i.e., the descender, so called from the rapidity of the stream (it has a fall of 1400 feet in about 100 miles) or from the steep descents which lead to it. The word always has the defin. art.], and I sware to him by the Lord, saying, I will not put thee to death with the sword [2 Samuel 19:23].
Now therefore hold him not guiltless: for thou art a wise man, and knowest what thou oughtest to do unto him; but his hoar head bring thou down to the grave with blood.
Verse 9. - Now therefore [lit., "and now." Possibly the "now" is a note of time in apposition to the "day" of ver. 8, or rather the time of David's oath. "I then unadvisedly swam unto him, but now the law must have its course." Probably it is merely inferential, - quae cum ita sint] hold him not guiltless [rather, thou shalt not leave him unpunished (Vatablus, Gesen., Bahr, al.); cf. Exodus 20:7; Jeremiah 30:11]; for thou art a wise man [φρόνιμος rather than σοφός (LXX.) Gesen. renders here, "endued with ability to judge." David clearly desires that wisdom and justice, not malice or passion, should be Solomon's guide], and knowest what thou oughtest to [lit., shalt or shouldest] do to him; but [Heb. and] his hoar head [mentioned, not maliciously, but with the idea that punishment, which had been long delayed, must overtake him nevertheless. The age of Joab and Shimei would make the Divine Nemesis the more conspicuous. Men would "see that there was a God that judgeth in the earth"] bring thou down to the grave with blood. The Auth. Version here needlessly alters the order of the original, which should be followed wherever it can be (and it generally can) without sacrifice of idiom and elegance. In this case the alteration, by the slight prominence it gives to "hoar head" and to "blood," gives a factitious harshness to the sentence. The Hebrew stands thus: "And thou shalt bring down his hoar head with blood to Sheol." This order of the words also exhibits somewhat more clearly the sequence of thought, which is this: "Thou art wise, therefore thou knowest what by law thou shouldest do. What thou shalt do is, thou shalt bring down," etc. It is clear from these words that if David was actuated by malice, by a "passionate desire to punish those who had wronged him" (Plumptre, Dict. Bib., art. "Solomon"), or by "fierce and profound vindictiveness" (Stanley, "Jewish Church," vol. 2. p. 135), he was profoundly unconscious of it. If it was "a dark legacy of hate" (ibid.) he was bequeathing to Solomon, then he stands before us in these last hours either as an unctuous hypocrite, or as infatuated and inconsistent to the last degree. That the man who, in his opening words (ver. 3), enjoined upon his son, in the most emphatic manner, a strict and literal obedience to the law of Heaven, should in these subsequent words, delivered almost in the same breath, require him to satiate a long-cherished and cruel revenge upon Joab and Shimei (the latter of whom he had twice delivered from death), is an instance of self contradiction which is almost, if not quite, without parallel. But as I have showed elsewhere, at some length, it is a superficial and entirely erroneous view of David's last words, which supposes them to have been inspired by malice or cruelty. His absorbing idea was clearly this, that he had not "kept the charge of the Lord;" that he, the chief magistrate, the "revenger to execute wrath," by sparing Joab and Shimei, the murderer and the blasphemer, both of whose lives were forfeited to justice, had failed in his duty, had weakened the sanctions of law, and compromised the honour of the Most High. He is too old and too weak to execute the sentence of the law now, but for the safety of his people, for the security of his throne, it must be done, and therefore Solomon, who was under no obligation to spare the criminals his father had spared, must be required to do it. Of the Jewish king it might be said with a special propriety, "Rex est lex loquens," and seldom has the voice of law spoken with greater dignity and fidelity than by David in this dying charge. To say, as Harwood does, (Lange, American Trans., p. 32) that "nothing but sophistry can justify his [David's] charge to Solomon, not to let the unfortunate man [Shimei] die in peace," merely shows how imperfectly the writer has entered into the spirit of the theocratic law, that law under which David lived, and by which alone he could be governed and govern others.
So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David.
Verse 10. - So [Heb. and] David slept [Heb. lay down]. The idea of ָשכַב is not that of sleep so much as of the recumbent posture of the dead. It points to the grave rather than to Sheol (Gesen.), though the latter idea is not excluded. Wordsworth (after a Lapide) finds here "an assertion of the doctrine of the existence of the soul after death, and of the resurrection of the body," but it is not in the text] with his fathers (cf. the Latin expression abiit ad plures, and the Greek ἐς πλεόνων ἱκέσθαι], and was buried in the city of David [i.e. the hill of Zion, which he had fortified, His citadel became his sepulchre, and thenceforward bore his name. Intramural interment was permitted only to prophets and kings. Jerusalem is completely under. mined by caves and caverns, and Zion is no exception to the rule. One of these, possibly enlarged, probably became the burying place of the kings. It was known, not only in Nehemiah's day (Nehemiah 3:15, 16), but down to the age of the apostles (Acts 2:29). Probably owing to a misunderstanding of St. Peter's words, "his sepulchre is with us," etc., the Coenaculum is now shown as David's tomb. Josephus says Solomon placed a vast quantity of treasure with the body, three thousand talents of which were taken out by Hyrcanus (Ant. 13:08.4). He has also a curious story of an attempted plunder of the tomb by Herod (Ant. 16:07.1)
And the days that David reigned over Israel were forty years: seven years reigned he in Hebron, and thirty and three years reigned he in Jerusalem.
Verse 11. - And the days that David reigned over Israel were forty years: seven years reigned he in Hebron, and thirty and three years reigned he in Jerusalem [as elsewhere (1 Chronicles 29:27), the historian has disregarded the fraction of a year in giving the length of David's reign. He reigned at Hebron, according to 2 Samuel 5:5, "seven years and six months."
CHAPTER 2:12-25. ADONIJAH'S INTRIGUE.
Then sat Solomon upon the throne of David his father; and his kingdom was established greatly.
Verse 12. - And Solomon sate on the throne of David his father, and his kingdom [i.e., dominion, sway] was established greatly. [Cf. 2 Chronicles 1:1, 2. This verse serves as a kind of heading or introduction to the rest of the chapter. It was principally by the removal of rivals and disaffected persons that his sway was established.
And Adonijah the son of Haggith came to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon. And she said, Comest thou peaceably? And he said, Peaceably.
Verse 13. - And Adonijah, the son of Haggith, came to Bathsheba, the mother of Solomon. [The LXX. adds καὶ προσεκύνησεν αὐτη, but the words are probably inserted from ver. 19. The historian now relates the plot of Adonijah and its defeat. Foiled in his purpose to mount the throne by direct means, Adonijah and his advisers have recourse to intrigue and subtlety. By the aid of Abishag, he hopes to accomplish what his chariots and horsemen (1 Kings 1:5) had failed to effect. And he first addresses himself to the queen mother ("Aggreditur mulierem, ut regnandi ignaram ira amoribus facilem." Grotius). The position of the queen dowager m the Hebrew kingdom was an influential one; not unlike that of the Valide sultana amongst the Ottomans. Hence the constant mention of each king's mother (1 Kings 14:31; 1 Kings 15:10, where notice ver. 13; 2 Kings 11:1; 2 Kings 12:1; 2 Kings 14:2; 2 Kings 15:2, etc.; hence, too, the part which such a queen mother as Athaliah found it possible to take. This pre-eminence was a natural result of the polygamy of Eastern sovereigns (and the consequent intrigues of the harem), coupled with the high estimation in which the mother was held in the East.] And she said, Comest thou peaceably. [Heb. Is it peace thy coming! Bathsheba was evidently surprised by his visit. Owing to the part he had taken against her son, there would naturally have been but few dealings, if not positive alienation, between them. Her first thought, consequently, is, "What can this coming mean?" The prominence of the idea of peace in all Eastern salutations has often been noticed. Cf. 1 Samuel 16:4; 2 Kings 9:22; 2 Kings 4:26; 2 Kings 5:21; Luke 10:5; John 20:19-21, etc.] And he said, Peaceably [Heb. peace.]
He said moreover, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And she said, Say on.
Verse 14. - He said moreover [Heb. And he said] I have somewhat to say unto thee [lit., "a word to me (cf. est mihi) for thee." This expression throws some light on the New Testament phrase, τί ἐμοι καὶ σοί, John 2:4, etc.] And she said, Say on.
And he said, Thou knowest that the kingdom was mine, and that all Israel set their faces on me, that I should reign: howbeit the kingdom is turned about, and is become my brother's: for it was his from the LORD.
Verse 15. - And he said, Thou knowest that the kingdom was mine [schon so gut wie mein (Bahr). Adonijah evidently made much of the right of primogeniture (cf. ver. 22), which was not unrecognized amongst the Jews. There is possibly in these words, too, a hint at the part Bathsheba had taken in defeating his claims] and that all Israel set their faces [i.e., eyes] upon me that I should reign [Heb. upon me all Israel set, etc. The "me" is emphatic by its position. So is the "mine" just before used. Several commentators remark that Adonijah's words were not strictly true. But we hardly expect to find truth on such an occasion. Adonijah was adroit and diplomatic, and puts the case as it best serves his purpose. In order to propitiate Bathsheba, he exaggerates his loss and disappointment, just as in the next words, in order to put her off her guard, he plays the saint and obtrudes his piety and resignation ]: howbeit [lit., and], the kingdom is turned about and is become my brother's, for it was his from the Lord. [This verse shows pretty clearly that Adoni-jah had not renounced his pretensions to the throne. Despite the pitiful failure of his first conspiracy, and notwithstanding Solomon's generous condonation of his treason, he cannot forget that he was, and is, the eldest surviving son, and had been very near the throne. And as to the kingdom being his brother's by Divine appointment, he cannot have been ignorant of that long ago (2 Samuel 12:25), yet he conspired all the same. And it is not difficult to read here between the lines, that he has not relinquished his hopes, and does not acquiesce in Solomon's supremacy.]
And now I ask one petition of thee, deny me not. And she said unto him, Say on.
Verse 16. - And now I ask one petition of thee [Heb. request one request] deny me not [marg., "turn not away my face." Better, Turn not back, i.e., repulse not. Rawlinson paraphrases, "Make me not to hide my face through shame at being refused;" but this is not the idea of the original, which means, Reject me not; send me not away. In the Heb. "face" often stands for "person," for eyes (ver. 15), looks, mien]. And she said unto him, Say on.
And he said, Speak, I pray thee, unto Solomon the king, (for he will not say thee nay,) that he give me Abishag the Shunammite to wife.
Verse 17. - And he said, Speak, I pray thee, unto Solomon the ring; for he will not say thee nay, [will not repulse thee. Same words as ver. 16. There is a spice of flattery in these words. He now exaggerates her influence with the king] that he may give me Abishag the Shunammite to wife. [We are hardly justified in concluding, as some commentators have done, that love had nothing to do with this request. It is not improbable, on the contrary, that a passion for the beautiful Shunamnite, perhaps the fairest woman of her time, may have first given a powerful impulse to Adonijah's ambition (see on 1 Kings 1:5). At the same time, he must have had ulterior motives (see on ver. 22).
And Bathsheba said, Well; I will speak for thee unto the king.
Verse 18. - And Bathsheba said, Well [there is no reason why the strict rendering "good," should not be preserved here. The A.V. follows the LXX. καλῶς. Similarly Luther, wohl; but Bahr, gut], I will speak for thee [LXX. περὶ σοῦ] unto the king.
Bathsheba therefore went unto king Solomon, to speak unto him for Adonijah. And the king rose up to meet her, and bowed himself unto her, and sat down on his throne, and caused a seat to be set for the king's mother; and she sat on his right hand.
Verse 19. - Bathsheba therefore [lit., And Bathsheba] went unto king [Heb. the king] Solomon, to speak unto him for Adonijah. And the king rose up to meet her, and bowed himself unto her, [the LXX. reads, "and kissed" her (καὶ κατεφίλησεν αὐτὴν). There is not necessarily a pregnant construction, as Keil insists: "rose up and went down to meet her." We get here a glimpse of the stateliness of Solomon's court] and sat down on his throne, and caused a seat [lit., throne, same word] to be set [most probably the servants of Solomon placed the seat for the queen mother, as the LXX. (ἐτέθη θρόνος) and most translators. The reception was clearly a public one, if the interview was private. But the original is simply, "and he set," etc., suggesting that Solomon may have done it, as a mark of respect, with his own hands. He "received his mother as גְַּבִירָה (1 Kings 15:13). Bahr] for the mother of the king, and she sat on his right hand. [The place of honour. Cf. Psalm 110:1; Matthew 20:21; Matthew 25:33; Acts 7:56; Romans 8:34; Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 8:1, etc. It was also the place of honour amongst Arabians (Keil), Greeks, and Romans, as the very names εὐώνυμος ( an euphemism for ἀριστερός - and sinistra, show.
Then she said, I desire one small petition of thee; I pray thee, say me not nay. And the king said unto her, Ask on, my mother: for I will not say thee nay.
Verse 20. - Then she said, I desire one small petition of thee. [So it seemed, no doubt, to her, in her inexperience and ignorance of Adonijah's real motives. She thought she held the threads of a love story in her hands, and that it would be a small thing for Solomon to make these handsome lovers happy]: I pray thee, say me not nay. And the king said unto her, Ask on, my mother: for I will not say thee nay. [The readiness of the king to grant whatever she asked proves that the reasons which induced him to deny her request must have been weighty; i.e., Adonijah's suit cannot have been devoid of political consequences.
And she said, Let Abishag the Shunammite be given to Adonijah thy brother to wife.
Verse 21. - And she said, Let Abishag the Shunammite be given to Adonijah thy brother to wife. [For the construction (אֵת with a nominative, or, as some think, יֻתַּן used impersonally - man gebe), cf. Genesis 27:42; Exodus 10:8; and especially Numbers 32:5; and see Gesen., Lex. s.v. אֵת, and Ewald, Syntax, 295 b.]
And king Solomon answered and said unto his mother, And why dost thou ask Abishag the Shunammite for Adonijah? ask for him the kingdom also; for he is mine elder brother; even for him, and for Abiathar the priest, and for Joab the son of Zeruiah.
Verse 22. - And king Solomon answered and said unto his mother, And why dost thou ask Abishag the Shunammite for Adonijah? [Professor Plumptre (Dict. Bib., art. "Solomon") says this "narrative is not a little perplexing." He then specially remarks on the strangeness of Bathsheba's interceding for Adonijah, and also on Solomon's "flashing into fiercest wrath" at her request. He explains the facts, however, by "Mr. Grove's ingenious theory identifying Abishag with the Shulamite (Song of Solomon 6:13), the heroine of the Song of Songs." It is "the passionate love of Solomon for the fairest among women' that has made Bathsheba, "hitherto supreme, to fear a rival influence, and to join in any scheme for its removal." The king's vehement abruptness is in like manner accounted for. He sees in the request at once an attempt to deprive him of the woman he loves and a plot to keep him still in the tutelage of childhood. Of the ingenuity of this theory no one can doubt, nor yet that it may possibly represent the actual facts. But it is not necessary, nor does it help much to the explanation of the narrative. Bathsheba's intervention may easily be accounted for by
(1) her desire to conciliate her son's most formidable rival;
(2) her feminine interest in a love match; and
(3) her pride, which could not but be flattered, on being assured that her influence with the king was so great.
Nor is it any more difficult to assign a reason for Solomon's sudden outburst of anger. This request is evidence to him of a fresh plot against his throne, a plot so skilfully laid that its abettors have been able to deceive his own mother, and have made her a tool for its advancement. Surely this is quite enough to account for Solomon's indignation. And the theory of a love story has this disadvantage, that the young king completely ignores it in what follows, all his concern being about the kingdom, and not one word being said about the woman; and again - and this is almost fatal - his mention of Joab and Abiathar, and his subsequent dealings with them, prove conclusively that he suspected a conspiracy against his crown, not a scheme, in which these latter could have had no interest, and therefore no part, to rob him of a mistress] ask for him the kingdom also [Heb. and ask for him = and (you will next) ask for him; or, Aye, ask for him, etc. It was quite natural that Solomon should see in Adonijah's suit for Abishag an indirect, but none the less real or dangerous, attempt to compass his own downfall. For it was one of the customs of Oriental monarchies that the harem of a sovereign descended to his successor. Thus the impostor Smerdis took possession of the harem of Cambyses (Herod. 3:68), while Darius in turn had some of the wives of Smerdis (3:88). And what is much more to the point, a similar custom obtained amongst the Jews. David, for example, succeeded to the wives, along with the kingdom, of Saul (2 Samuel 12:8). And we see from the case of Abner and Rizpah (2 Samuel 3:8), and still more from that of Absalom (ch. 16:22), that to "take possession of the harem was the most decided act of sovereignty" (Lord A. Hervey, Speak. Com. on 2 Samuel 16:21). Now all these instances were of too recent a date, and had attracted far too much attention at the time, to have made it possible for them to have escaped either Solomon's or Adonijah's observation. They manifest "such a close connection in public opinion between the title to the crown and the possession of the deceased monarch's wives, that to have granted Adonijah's request would have been the strongest encouragement to his pretensions" (Rawlinson in loco). It may be said that Abishag had not really been the concubine of David (ch. 1:4), which is true, and which explains what would otherwise have been the astonishing impiety of Adonijah (Leviticus 18:8; Leviticus 20:11; cf. 1 Corinthians 5:1), and the wonderful complaisance of Bathsheba. There is no warrant for charging Adonijah (as is done by a Lapide, Wordsworth, al.) with defying the Divine law and seeking an incestuous alliance, for the historian is careful to represent Abishag as David's attendant, and not as his wife. But it is hardly probable that the nation at large knew this. People generally could only suppose that this fair young girl, chosen out of all the thousands of Israel because of her beauty, had become to all intents and purposes one of the royal seraglio. It is almost a certainty, therefore, that Adonijah's request concealed a plot for using Abishag as a stepping stone to the throne, and Solomon certainly is not to be blamed if he interpreted it by the light of contemporaneous history, and by the usages of his time and country. He knew that his brother had made one deliberate effort to supplant him, and therefore he could only conclude that this was a second, though veiled, attempt to deprive him of his kingdom]; even for him and for Abiathar the priest, and for Joab the son of Zeruiah. [The LXX. and other translators appear to have had a slightly different text before them. The LXX. renders, καὶ αὐτῷ Ἀβιάθαρ καὶ αὐτῷ, κ.τ.λ.; the Vulgate, "et habet Abiathar," etc. The Chald. paraphrases, "nonne in cansilio fuerunt ille et Abiathar," etc. Keil well remarks that "the repetition of answers entirely to the emotional character of the words." We can hardly believe, however, that in these conversations we have the ipsissima verba of the speakers If so, how were they preserved and handed down to the author? Even a "court scribe" would hardly catch every turn of expression. And possibly this interview with Bathsheba was private. It would almost seem, from the immediate mention of Joab and Abiathar, as if Solomon had received some prior intimation of this second conspiracy. Possibly his remarkable penetration had divined that mischief was brewing from the bearing of the three, who no doubt would be narrowly watched. Or he may have heard of frequent meetings on their part. Anyhow, Adonijah's suit is to him conclusive proof of a plot].
Then king Solomon sware by the LORD, saying, God do so to me, and more also, if Adonijah have not spoken this word against his own life.
Verse 23. - Then king Solomon sware by the Lord, saying, God do so to me, and more also [a common form of adjuration (Ruth 1:17; 1 Samuel 14:44; 1 Samuel 20:13; 2 Samuel 3:9; 2 Samuel 19:13, etc.) = Gott soil mich fort und fort strafen. Bahr], if [or "that." כִּי constantly follows formulae of swearing, as in all the passages just cited. Cf. the use of ὅτι in New Testament. The order of the next words in the Hebrew is noticeable] against his life spake Adonijah this word. [בְּנַפְשׁו, "at the peril or cost of his life." Cf. 2 Samuel 23:17; Joshua 23:11.]
Now therefore, as the LORD liveth, which hath established me, and set me on the throne of David my father, and who hath made me an house, as he promised, Adonijah shall be put to death this day.
Verse 24. - Now therefore [Heb. and now], as the Lord liveth, which hath established me, and set me [a י has here crept into the text; obviously owing to the fact that this same letter both precedes and follows] on the throne of David my father, and who hath made me an house [Keil and Wordsworth understand by this expression, "hath given me issue." "Solomon," says Keil, "had already one son, viz., Rehoboam, about a year old (comp. 1 Kings 11:42 with 1 Kings 14:21, and 2 Chronicles 12:13)." But some doubt seems to attach to the "forty and one years" mentioned as the age of Rehoboam at his accession. Bahr says Solomon's "marriage did not occur till afterwards (1 Kings 3:1). And we find from 1 Kings 11:38; 2 Samuel 7:11, 27, that to 'make,' or 'build an house,' means to found a lasting dynasty"], as he promised [Heb. spake, i.e., at 2 Samuel 7:11-13], Adonijah shall be put to death this day.
And king Solomon sent by the hand of Benaiah the son of Jehoiada; and he fell upon him that he died.
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.
And unto Abiathar the priest said the king, Get thee to Anathoth, unto thine own fields; for thou art worthy of death: but I will not at this time put thee to death, because thou barest the ark of the Lord GOD before David my father, and because thou hast been afflicted in all wherein my father was afflicted.
Verse 26. - And unto Abiathar the priest [see note on 1 Kings 1:8. The historian now relates the end of Adonijah's confederates] said the king, get thee to Anathoth [The Heb. is extremely curt and authoritative, corresponding well with the anger and determination of the speaker. Anathoth, the home of Abiathar, was also the residence of another high priest, Hilkiah (Jeremiah 1:1). It was in Benjamin, a priests' city, and had suburbs (Jeremiah 21:13, 17, 18). It has been identified by Robinson with Anita, a village 1.25 hrs. N.N.E, of Jerus. The name ( = Answers) according to Gesenius, means, "answers to prayer," but according to the Talmud, "echoes"], unto [עַל is here almost the equivalent of אֶל. Cf. 2 Samuel 15:4, 20, Hebrews etc.] thine own fields [the patrimony of his family] for thou art worthy of death; [Heb. a man of death; LXX. ἀνὴρ θανάτου, i.e., ἔνοχος θανάτου, Matthew 26:66.] but I will not at this time [Heb. in this day] put thee to death [i.e., the sentence of death was deferred during good behaviour. It is hardly correct to say that Abiathar was "spared for a time, but only for a time" (Stanley). More correctly Corn. a Lapide: "Misit eum in patriam ut ibi vitam, quam ei condonabat, quiete tradu-ceret." For aught we know, he died in peace because thou barest the ark of the Lord God before David my father [Thenius, quite needlessly would read for "ark," .... "ephod" (1 Samuel 23:6). Zadok and Abiathar had borne the ark (not of course in person, but per altos, viz., the Levites Uriel, Joel, etc.: 1 Chronicles 15:11), when David brought it up to Jerusalem, and also during his flight from Absalom (2 Samuel 15:24-29). Abiathar had thus been associated both with David's joys and sorrows] and because thou hast been afflicted in all wherein my father was afflicted. [See 1 Samuel 22:17-23; 2 Samuel 15:24, etc.]
So Solomon thrust out Abiathar from being priest unto the LORD; that he might fulfil the word of the LORD, which he spake concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh.
Verse 27. - So Solomon thrust out Abtathar from being priest unto the Lord, that he might fulfil [Heb. to fulfil "An addition of the narrator, not the intention of Solomon. It is the ἵνα πληρωθῇ of the New Testament." Bahr] the word of the Lord, which he spake concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh [1 Samuel 2:31-35. Abiathar was the last descendant of the house of Ithamar. With his deposition the high priesthood reverted to the house of Eleazar, and so another "word of the Lord" had its fulfilment (Numbers 25:15).] No one can justly accuse Solomon of unnecessary severity or of cruelty in his treatment of Abiathar. On the occasion of his first conspiracy, Abiathar seems to have escaped even censure. And yet that conspiracy, had it succeeded, would almost certainly have involved Solomon's death (ch. 1:12). He is now found plotting again, for the action of Solomon proves that there had been a second plot. Oriental usages would have justified his death. He is simply warned and banished.
Then tidings came to Joab: for Joab had turned after Adonijah, though he turned not after Absalom. And Joab fled unto the tabernacle of the LORD, and caught hold on the horns of the altar.
Verse 28. - Then tidings [Heb. And the report, etc. Not necessarily of Abiathar's deposition, but certainly of Adonijah's death] came to Joab, for Joab had turned after [same expression as in Exodus 23:2; Judges 9:3] Adonijah, though [lit., and] he turned not after Absalom. [The LXX. (Cod. Vat.), Vulg., and all ancient versions except the Chald., here read Solomon, which Ewald and Thenius adopt. This reading is perhaps too summarily dismissed by most commentators, as involving a statement which would be self evident and superfluous. But it is not so. The meaning would then be that Joab had inclined to Adonijah, and had not, subsequently, gone over to the side of Solomon - information which is much less obvious than that he had not "gone after Absalom." The Arabic version may thus be nearest the truth, which reads, "Neither did he love Solomon." Somewhat similarly Josephus.] And Joab fled unto the tabernacle of the Lord, and caught hold of the horns of the altar. [As Adonijah had done before him (1 Kings 1:50). His flight is almost certain evidence of his guilt. ("Joab vero seipsum prodidit." Munster.) Why should he flee, if conscious of innocence? Solomon had acted generously before, and Joab would not be aware of David's dying instructions. His two assassinations had remained so long unpunished that he would hardly expect to be called to an account for them now. We have here, therefore, another indication of a second conspiracy, and it is an old belief (Theodorot, al.) that Joab had suggested to Adonijah the plan of marriage with Abishag. Some have asked why Joab should flee to the altar when his crimes deprived him of the right of the sanctuary. But a drowning man grasps at a straw. It is probable that he never thought of his murders, but only of his treason. According to the Rabbis, death at the altar ensured him burial amongst his fathers (Munster). But, if this were so, it would hardly enter into his calculations.
And it was told king Solomon that Joab was fled unto the tabernacle of the LORD; and, behold, he is by the altar. Then Solomon sent Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, saying, Go, fall upon him.
Verse 29. - And it was told king Solomon that Joab was fled unto the tabernacle of the Lord; and, behold, he is by the altar. [The LXX. here inserts, "And Solomon the king sent to Joab, saying, What has happened thee, that thou art fled to the altar? And Joab said, Because I feared before thee, and I fled to the Lord." This is only a gloss, but it is an instructive one. It shows that the author regarded Joab's flight as betraying a guilty conscience.] Then Solomon sent Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada, saying, Go, fall upon him. [The LXX. adds, "and bury him."]
And Benaiah came to the tabernacle of the LORD, and said unto him, Thus saith the king, Come forth. And he said, Nay; but I will die here. And Benaiah brought the king word again, saying, Thus said Joab, and thus he answered me.
Verse 30. - And Benaiah came to the tabernacle of the Lord, and said unto him [Benaiah evidently "hesitated to stain the altar with blood." It was only the sanctity of the altar which made it an asylum. There was strictly no "right of sanctuary"], Thus saith the king, Come forth. [Probably Solomon bad directed that Joab should, if possible, be induced to leave the altar. Every Jew would dread its profanation by strife and bloodshed.] And he said, Nay; but I will die here. [Heb. "here will I die." Joab may possibly have thought that Solomon would hardly venture to put him to death there, and that so he might somehow escape with his life. But it is more probable that he counted on death, and that a feeling of superstition, or of defiance, had decided him to meet his doom there. It should be borne in mind that gross superstition not uncommonly accompanies irreligion and brutality; and it is quite conceivable that Joab hoped for some indefinable benefit from the shadow of the altar, much as the poor Polish Jew expects from burial in Jerusalem. Or his motive may have been defiance, thinking he would "render Solomon odious to the people, as a profaner of the Holy Place" (M. Henry). It can hardly have been to put off forever so short a time the execution, as Bishop Hall imagines.]
And the king said unto him, Do as he hath said, and fall upon him, and bury him; that thou mayest take away the innocent blood, which Joab shed, from me, and from the house of my father.
Verse 31. - And the king said unto him do as he hath said, and fall upon him [the law decreed (Exodus 21:14) that, if a man had slain his neighbour with guile, he should be taken from the altar to die. Possibly the desperate character of Joab made literal compliance with this command well nigh impossible. The attempt to drag him from his place of refuge might have led to a bloody encounter. And the king evidently felt that Joab's crimes justified exceptional measures], and bury him [why this injunction? Possibly because the spirit of Deuteronomy 21:23 seemed to Solomon to require it. Both Bahr and Keil think it was that Joab's services to the kingdom might be requited with an honourable sepulture. Was it not rather that the corpse might be removed with all possible haste from the sanctuary, which it defiled, and hidden from view, as one accursed of God, in the earth? So Bishop Hall: "He sends Benaiah to take away the offender both from God and men, from the altar and the world"]; that thou mayest take away [LXX. "today," σήμερον] the innocent blood [for the construction cf. 1 Samuel 25:31; Nehemiah 2:12; and Ewald, 287d. Innocent blood, i.e., blood not shed in war, or forfeited to justice, rested upon the community, or the authorities responsible for its punishment (Numbers 35:33; Deuteronomy 19:10, 13; Deuteronomy 21:9. Cf. Genesis 4:10) until satisfaction was made. See on ver. 5], which Joab shed, from me, and from the house of my father. [Heb. "from upon me." Solomon evidently believed that the guilt of blood was upon him and his house so long as Abner's and Amasa's blood remained unavenged ("The blood that is not required from the murderer will be required from the magistrate." Henry), and that he and his seed might have to answer for it, as Saul's seed had done (2 Samuel 21:1, 9). This is one of the many considerations which show that both David and Solomon were actuated not by "cold-blooded vengeance" or "long-cherished resentment" (Stanley), but by a sense of duty. In fact, Jewish law imperatively demanded the death of Joab, and to spare him was to violate all law, and to imperil the throne and the people. "Only a superficial observer," says Ewald, "can here reproach Solomon with needless severity."]
And the LORD shall return his blood upon his own head, who fell upon two men more righteous and better than he, and slew them with the sword, my father David not knowing thereof, to wit, Abner the son of Ner, captain of the host of Israel, and Amasa the son of Jether, captain of the host of Judah.
Verse 32. - And the Lord shall return [LXX. ἐπέστρεψε, returns, or returned] his blood [LXX. τὸ αῖμα τῆς ἀδικίας αὐτοῦ, i.e., the blood he had shed. Cf. vers. 33, 44] upon his own head, who fell upon [same word as in vers. 29, 31. So that it was strictly a retaliation. The lex talionis was carried out to the letter] two men more righteous and better than he, and slew them with the sword, my father David not knowing. [Heb. "and my father David knew not," i.e., was not privy thereto. Solomon thinks of the unjust suspicions which these crimes cast upon his father.]
Their blood shall therefore return upon the head of Joab, and upon the head of his seed for ever: but upon David, and upon his seed, and upon his house, and upon his throne, shall there be peace for ever from the LORD.
Verse 33. - Their blood shall therefore return upon the head of Josh, and upon the head of his seed [according to Exodus 20:5; Exodus 34:7; Leviticus 20:5; Leviticus 26:39. There is an obvious reference to David's curse 2 Samuel 3:29, which thoroughly agreed with the spirit of the Old Testament in comprehending the children in its sweep. And it is to be noticed that the sins of the fathers are still, by the operation of natural laws, and by the constitution and laws of society, visited upon the children, to the third and fourth generation] forever: but upon [Heb. to] David, and upon his seed, and upon his house, and upon his throne, shall there be [or "be," optative; LXX. γένοιτο] peace [i.e., prosperity] forever from the Lord. [So persuaded is Solomon that he is fulfilling a religious duty in decreeing the execution of Joab; so little thought has he of malice, revenge, or any baser motive, that he counts on the Divine blessing m perpetuity for the deed.]
So Benaiah the son of Jehoiada went up, and fell upon him, and slew him: and he was buried in his own house in the wilderness.
Verse 34. - So Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada, went up [not because the altar" stood higher up Mount Zion than Solomon's house" (Keil), but because Gibeon, where the tabernacle and brazen altar then were, stood higher than Jerusalem. It is remarkable that retribution thus overtook Joab on the very scene of his last murder, for it was "at the great stone which is in Gibeon" (2 Samuel 20:8), that he slew Amasa. Cf. 2 Kings 9:26: "I will requite thee in this plat, saith the Lord"], and fell upon him, and slew him: and he was buried in his own house [possibly in the courtyard: hardly in the garden. The same is recorded of Samuel (1 Samuel 25:1). It was evidently an exceptional occurrence. Remembering the estimation in which the Jew held the corpse and the grave (Numbers 19:11, 16, 22; cf. Matthew 23:27), it must have been a singular honour to make of the house a mausoleum. No doubt it was designed to be such in Joab's case. Whatever his crimes, his services had deserved well of his country. Possibly his friends were led to pay him this special honour as a kind of counterpoise to the ignominy of his death] in the wilderness [i.e., of Judah. Joab's mother was of Bethlehem, which was on the border of the desert. The "wilderness of Tekoah" (2 Chronicles 20:20), according to Jerome, was visible from Bethlehem, being but six Roman miles distant.
And the king put Benaiah the son of Jehoiada in his room over the host: and Zadok the priest did the king put in the room of Abiathar.
Verse 35. - And the king put Benaiah the son of Jehoiada in his room over the host: and Zadok the priest did the king put in the room of Abiathar. [It is hardly likely that Joab would be retained in command of the army after the conspiracy of chap. 1, nor is this implied in this verse, the meaning of which is that Benaiah took the place of Josh, and that Zadok henceforward was sole high priest.]
CHAPTER 2:36-46. THE END OF SHIMEL. - This fresh intrigue of Adonijah's warns the king that he must be on his guard and keep a watch over suspected persons. Prominent among these, from his antecedents and connexions, would be Shimei.
And the king sent and called for Shimei, and said unto him, Build thee an house in Jerusalem, and dwell there, and go not forth thence any whither.
Verse 36. - And the king sent and called for Shimei [probably from Bahurim. But see on ver. 8] [Not necessarily as "a guarantee for his residence there" (Wordsworth). Jewish law would make a purchase difficult. Leviticus 25:23. Cf. 1 Kings 21:3] an house in Jerusalem and dwell there [where he would be under surveillance and where his sinister influence with the men of Benjamin would be neutralized] and go not forth thence any whither [or, "hither and thither." Weder dahin noch dorthin. Bahr.]
For it shall be, that on the day thou goest out, and passest over the brook Kidron, thou shalt know for certain that thou shalt surely die: thy blood shall be upon thine own head.
Verse 37. - For it shall be, on the day thou goest out and passest over the brook [lit., watercourse, wady. The Kidron is quite dry, except during and for a short time after the winter rains] Kidron [The Kidron is mentioned specially because that was the direction which, it might be presumed, Shimei would take, his old home being at Bahurim], thou shalt know for certain that thou shalt surely die [The Hebrew is, if possible, still more striking and emphatic, "To know thou shalt know that to die thou shalt die." Shimei could not say that he had not been plainly warned]: thy blood shall be upon thine own head. Cf. Leviticus 20:9, and especially Joshua 2:19; also ver. 31 of this chapter.
And Shimei said unto the king, The saying is good: as my lord the king hath said, so will thy servant do. And Shimei dwelt in Jerusalem many days.
Verse 38. - And Shimei said to the king, The saying [or thing, matter, דָּבָר, like λόγος῞ ῤῆμα, in Greek (cf. Sache, in Germ., from sagen) means
(1) word and
(2) deed] is good [Shimei cannot complain of the condition, remembering what he had done (2 Samuel 15:5-7) and that Solomon was not bound by his father's oath (2 Samuel 19:23)] as my lord the king hath said, so will thy servant do. And Shimei dwelt [in obedience to this behest] in Jerusalem many days.
And it came to pass at the end of three years, that two of the servants of Shimei ran away unto Achish son of Maachah king of Gath. And they told Shimei, saying, Behold, thy servants be in Gath.
Verse 39. - And it came to pass at the of three years that two of the servants of Shimei ran away [it has been thought by some that their flight was preconcerted with their master. But the narrative does not favour this supposition] to Achish, son of Maachah, king of Gath. [This may well have been the "Achish, son of Maoch" (1 Samuel 21:11; 1 Samuel 27:2), to whom David fled fifty years before. Longer reigns than this are not unknown to history. Or it may have been his grandson]. And they told Shimei, saying, Behold, thy servants be in Gath.
And Shimei arose, and saddled his ass, and went to Gath to Achish to seek his servants: and Shimei went, and brought his servants from Gath.
Verse 40. - And Shimei arose and saddled his ass [not necessarily himself. Qui facit per alium, facit per se. Matthew Henry thinks Shimei did it himself for the sake of secresy. Many expositors also think that he went by night. The text rather suggests the idea that both the going and the return were perfectly open and undisguised] and went to Gath. [It is impossible to avoid the question, What can have led to this infatuated disregard of his oath and life? Now his perversity may of course have been judicial - quos Dens vult perdere, prius de-mentat - but as to the means which led to this issue, it is enough if we may believe he had been dared to it either by his servants or others. The fierce Benjamite would naturally be galled to the quick by the thought that his slaves could thus openly set him at defiance; he may have heard from those who came from Gath that they were exulting over him; and he may have resolved at all hazards to teach them a lesson. He cannot have forgotten either Solomon's explicit warning or his own solemn oath (ver. 42); he must have gone to Gath with his eyes open, and nothing but a great provocation, such as mockery and defiance, will account for his going.] And Shimei went and brought his servants from Gath.
And it was told Solomon that Shimei had gone from Jerusalem to Gath, and was come again.
Verse 41. - And it was told Solomon that Shimei had gone from Jerusalem to Gath and was come again. [He, no doubt, persuaded himself that his immediate return, especially when taken in connexion with the object of his journey, would excuse him to the king. He would perhaps argue that a magnanimous sovereign like Solomon could never deal hardly with one who thus placed his life in his hands. He can hardly have built his hopes on his not having crossed the Kidron, for he must have perfectly understood that he was to go "no whither."
And the king sent and called for Shimei, and said unto him, Did I not make thee to swear by the LORD, and protested unto thee, saying, Know for a certain, on the day thou goest out, and walkest abroad any whither, that thou shalt surely die? and thou saidst unto me, The word that I have heard is good.
Verse 42. - And the king sent and called for Shimel, and said unto him, Did I not make thee swear by the Lord [it thus comes out quite incidentally that Solomon had bound Shimei by an oath. The LXX: embodies this information as a direct statement in the text of ver. 37, κὰι ὥρκισεν αὐτὸν ὁ βασιλεὺς ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐκείνῃ, but it is obviously a gloss] and protested unto thee, saying, Know for a certain, on the day that thou goest but and walkest abroad any whither, that thou shalt surely die? and thou saidst unto me, The word that I have heard is good. [The LXX. (Vat.) omits "And thou saidst," etc. This last sentence has been punctuated thus: "Good is the word. I have heard." Probably אֲשֶׁר, "which,"is to be understood.
Why then hast thou not kept the oath of the LORD, and the commandment that I have charged thee with?
Verse 43. ? Why them halt thou not kept the oath of the Lord and the commandment that I have charged [Heb. commanded] thee with. ["Shimei ought to have been warned against trifling with Solomon's forbearance by the punishment already inflicted on Adonijah and Joab." Wordsworth.]
The king said moreover to Shimei, Thou knowest all the wickedness which thine heart is privy to, that thou didst to David my father: therefore the LORD shall return thy wickedness upon thine own head;
Verse 44.— The king said, moreover [Heb. And the king said] Thou knowest all the wickedness which thine heart is privy to [Heb. knoweth] that thou didst to David my father [Solomon brings a threefold charge against Shimei. He has violated a solemn oath, "by the life of Jehovah," and so has "profaned the name of his God" (Leviticus 19:12). He has broken his parole and set at naught the king's commandment. He has defied and blasphemed the Lord's anointed. He must die] therefore the Lord shall return ["hath returned," or "returns." LXX. ἀνταπέδωκε, aor. The king regards himself as merely the instrument and dispenser of the Divine Justice. According to him, it is God, not spite, demands and has brought about Shimei's execution] thy wickedness upon thine own head [Every Jew, taught to expect that "every transgression and disobedience" would receive its "just recompense of reward" in this life present would see in Shimei's almost unaccountable infatuation the finger of God. To them he would seem delivered up to destruction.
And king Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of David shall be established before the LORD for ever.
Verse 45. - And king Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of David shall be established before the Lord forever. [It is inconceivable that Solomon could have spoken thus if he had been conscious either of sharp practice, or spite, or cruelty. The words are those of one who is sure that he is doing God service.]
So the king commanded Benaiah the son of Jehoiada; which went out, and fell upon him, that he died. And the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon.
Verse 46. - So the king commanded Ben-aiah the son of Jehoiada, which went out and fell upon him that he died. [The execution of Shimei has, perhaps, on the whole given more offence than that of Joab or even Adonijah. He, at any rate, was not "a murderer whom vengeance suffereth not to live," nor had he taken any part in recent conspiracies. On the contrary, he seems to have lived quietly enough under the eye of the king. And it consequently has the appearance of cruelty and malevolence that Solomon should "press the letter of a compact against him," especially when, by returning to Jerusalem, he placed his life at Solomon's mercy. But it is not difficult to offer a complete justification of Solomon's action in this matter. In the first place, it is to be remembered that cruelty had no part in his character. In his long reign of forty years there are absolutely no evidences of a brutal and tyrannical disposition. There is a strong presumption, consequently, that he was not actuated by cruelty on this occasion, a presumption which finds support in the consideration that Solomon was much too sagacious to prejudice himself in popular estimation at the commencement of his reign by proceedings which would have the least suspicion of vindictiveness. And
(2) with this probability the facts of the case entirely agree. Shimei's life, as we have seen, was forfeited to Jewish law. As he had so long been spared, however, the king gave him a gracious respite. The conditions imposed were not onerous. Shimei had but to keep his parole and he would live; to break it and he would assuredly die. He did break it; not without provocation, it may be, but he broke it, and broke too his solemn oath. It may be said it was hard he should lose his slaves, but better, surely, lose them than his life. Besides, there were other ways of recovering them; or, if he must pursue them in person, his proper course was evidently to ask the king's permission. That he did not do so is in itself a suspicious circumstance, and Solomon might reasonably think that the flight of the slaves was but a feint, and that Shimei's visit to a foreign court had really a political object. But, be that as it may, the king had protested unto him that if he went any whither, he should most certainly die. When he went, when he despised the royal command and disregarded his sacred oath, how was it possible for Solomon to break his word? To do so would have been inevitably to compromise himself with his subjects, and to forfeit their reverence and trust. Besides, there was a duty he owed to his dead father, and above all, one which he owed to the living God. He had now the opportunity for which his father bade him wait, of putting into force the provisions of the Mosaic law, of requiring the death of the blasphemer, of showing his subjects that the law could not be defied with impunity, that though vengeance was not executed speedily against evil works, still retribution was certain in the long run, and so of teaching them a much needed lesson of obedience and respect of authority. Every consideration, therefore, of justice, morality, filial piety, and religion warranted him in putting Shimei to death. Every imputation of weakness, irresolution, disregard of his plighted word, compromise of his royal dignity, and indifference to religion might justly have been levelled against him, had he interfered between Shimei and the sword of Justice.