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Bible Commentaries

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible
1 Kings 11

 

 

Verses 1-8

Solomon Throws Himself Wholeheartedly Into Idolatry Because Of His Wives (1 Kings 11:1-8).

Solomon’s obsession with his own glory inevitably resulted in his beginning to feel that he was so great that he could do what he liked, for it is one of the sad traits of mankind that the more they prosper because of God’s goodness, the less concern they have for God. That was recognised by the writer of Proverbs in Proverbs 30:8-9, when he wrote, ‘Give me neither poverty nor riches, --- lest I be full and deny you, and say, Who is YHWH? or lest I be poor and steal and use profanely the name of my God’. And that was what happened to Solomon.

He had already portrayed the traits of the false king with his chariots and horsemen, and servants and bond-slaves (see 1 Samuel 8:11-18). Now he would do the same with his multiplicity of wives (Deuteronomy 17:16-17). It will be noted that in Deuteronomy 17:16-17 the multiplication of wives is linked with fetching horses from Egypt, which is again linked with a warning of in any way returning to Egypt, and Solomon had done all three. He had married Pharaoh’s daughter (1 Kings 3:1; 1 Kings 9:24; 1 Kings 11:1), he had multiplied horses from Egypt (1 Kings 10:28-29), and now we are to see that he multiplied wives for himself. In other words he had specifically and deliberately ignored YHWH’s commandment, and was a judgment waiting to happen. This indeed is what the author has been building up to.

Analysis.

a Now king Solomon loved many foreign women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites, of the nations concerning which YHWH said to the children of Israel, “You shall not go among them, neither shall they come among you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” Solomon clave to these in love. (1 Kings 11:1-2).

b And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart, for it came about that, when Solomon was old, his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not perfect with YHWH his God, as was the heart of David his father (1 Kings 11:3-4).

c For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites (1 Kings 11:5).

b And Solomon did what was evil in the sight of YHWH, and went not fully after YHWH, as did David his father (1 Kings 11:6).

a Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, in the mount that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech the abomination of the children of Ammon, and so did he for all his foreign wives, who burnt incense and sacrificed to their gods (1 Kings 11:7-8).

Note that in ‘a’ Solomon loved the women against whom Israel had been warned because they would turn away their hearts after false gods, and in the parallel Solomon was turned away after false gods because of those very wives. In ‘b’ Solomon’s heart was turned away by his wives so that he was not perfect in his heart like David his father, and in the parallel he did what was evil in YHWH’s sight and went not fully after YHWH like David his father. Centrally in ‘c’ he ‘went after’ Ashtoreth and Molech, the very gods against which Israel had been constantly warned.

1 Kings 11:1-2

Now king Solomon loved many foreign women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites, of the nations concerning which YHWH said to the children of Israel, “You shall not go among them, neither shall they come among you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” Solomon clave to these in love.’

The first ‘foreign woman’ to be mentioned is the daughter of Pharaoh. The author has demonstrated his unease about this relationship from the beginning by never mentioning her name (1 Kings 3:1; 1 Kings 7:8; 1 Kings 9:16; 1 Kings 9:24; 1 Kings 11:1). She was not to be seen as welcome within the fold. While she would undoubtedly have brought her family gods with her, there is no suggestion that she actually had any part in leading Solomon astray, and in fact Solomon appears to have kept her waiting in her own private house in ‘the city of David’ until the palace no longer held the Ark (1 Kings 3:1; 1 Kings 7:8; 1 Kings 9:24), probably in order not to defile the Ark. Furthermore no specific gods of Egypt are mentioned (although it is always possible that she favoured Semite gods like many Egyptians did).

Along with her are mentioned the princesses of the three local Transjordanian states, the Moabites, Ammonites, and Edomites; the Phoenician Sidonians, and the Syrian Hittites (see 1 Kings 10:29 above). These would be treaty wives, royal princesses married in order to seal treaty arrangements. They were worshippers of, among others, Chemosh, Molech (Melech), Baal and Asherah (Ashtoreth/Astarte). The Moabite women had led Israel astray after Baal-peor at Shittim on the final part of the journey towards Canaan (Numbers 25:1-4), but the main Moabite god was Chemosh. Molech was a god of the Ammonites, whose influence extended over much of Canaan. It required child sacrifices, and was regularly condemned in the Law of Moses (Leviticus 18:21; Leviticus 20:2-5), and by later prophets. Baal and Asherah were ‘Canaanite’ deities (Judges 2:11; Judges 2:13; Judges 3:7; Judges 8:33; Judges 10:6; etc.), with an influence that spread widely, both into Egypt (Exodus 14:2), among the Moabites (Numbers 22:41; Numbers 25:1-4) and among the Phoenicians (who were ‘Canaanites’). We know a good deal about Baal through the discoveries at Ugarit.

“YHWH said to the children of Israel, “You shall not go among them, neither shall they come among you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” This to some extent follows the ideas in Deuteronomy 7:2-4, but it is clearly not a direct citation, and differs quite considerably in detail, which would duggest that it comes from another tradition known to Solomon.

We know in fact that Solomon’s first wife was an Ammonite princess, and she bore him Rehoboam (1 Kings 14:21).

It is quite possible that the original state record from which this information was extracted merely explained Solomon’s propensity for women as a compliment, and that ‘foreign’ has been introduced by the author in order to bring out his point, because as a prophet he recognised how the king had disobeyed God’s commandment and had suffered the consequences. There can, however, be no doubt that a good number of his wives would be foreign princesses.

1 Kings 11:3

And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart.’

The extent of the empire is revealed by the number of royal wives Solomon had. ‘Seven hundred’ is probably not to be taken as exact but as signifying the ‘divine perfect’ (seven) nature of his harem. However, clearly a large number are indicated by the figure, and they were all seen as ‘princesses’, being women of good standing. And as if this were insufficient he had three hundred concubines, that is, common wives selected mainly for their beauty and ability to satisfy the king’s desires. They would include Abishag. Three is the number of completeness. The idea is of total sufficiency. One royal house in Egypt was claimed as having three thousand wives and concubines, probably on a similar basis.

1 Kings 11:4

For it came about, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not perfect with YHWH his God, as was the heart of David his father.’

We are probably not to take ‘old’ here too literally, but rather as ‘mature’ (agewise). Solomon did not in fact live to be too old. He reigned for forty years (1 Kings 11:42), and if he was twenty at his accession, he barely reached sixty years old. Furthermore the activities described would take some time to develop. Thus the point is that in the later part of his life he went astray after these gods and goddesses, although it was clearly some time after his two dreams (1 Kings 11:9; compare 1 Kings 3:5-15; 1 Kings 9:2-9).

1 Kings 11:5

For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.’

Two especial deities are initially mentioned. For the first we must assume a Sidonian princess. The latter (Milcom = Molech = Melech) may have been through the influence of his first wife, Naamah the Ammonitess (1 Kings 14:31). Ashtoreth/Asherah/Astarte, the consort of Baal, was widely worshipped, but different areas would have different approaches to worship. Thus here it was after the manner of the Sidonians (compare how Jezebel would later introduce the Tyrian Baal into a land where Baal was well known). There was no word for ‘goddess’ in Hebrew, and therefore the male term elohe is used. Molech was seen as particularly heinous because it constantly sought child sacrifice, which is why the writer describes it as an ‘abomination’.

1 Kings 11:6

And Solomon did what was evil in the sight of YHWH, and went not fully after YHWH, as did David his father.’

So Solomon failed to live up to his original promises to YHWH, and ‘did what was evil in the sight of YHWH’. In Kings this was the verdict on the worst kings (fifteen times in 2 Kings). And like some later kings, and unlike others, he did not go ‘fully after YHWH as David his father did’ (compare 1 Kings 15:3; 1 Kings 15:11; 2 Kings 14:3; 2 Kings 16:2; 2 Kings 18:3; 2 Kings 22:2). Thus the final verdict on Solomon was that he was one of the worst kings, even though he seemed to begin so well!

For following ‘fully after YHWH’ see Numbers 14:24; Numbers 32:11-12; Deuteronomy 1:36. It is thus a Mosaic idiom.

1 Kings 11:7

Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, in the mount that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech the abomination of the children of Ammon.’

But Solomon did even worse. He built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab (see 2 Kings 3:27), who is mentioned in the in the Moabite Stone, and in Numbers 21:29; Judges 11:24, and also for Molech the abomination of Ammon. And this was within the environs of greater Jerusalem, on the Mount of Olives. This was a further step on from his previous worship at syncretistic high places (1 Kings 3:3), for 1 Kings 11:5 makes clear that he not only built them for his wife but was participating himself. ‘Abomination’ was a word regularly applied to idolatry. It was seen as the most heinous of sins.

1 Kings 11:8

And so did he for all his foreign wives, who burnt incense and sacrificed to their gods.’

Nor did he stop there, but revelled in idolatry with all his ‘foreign wives’, burning incense and sacrificing to their gods. Solomon had always been a compromiser. Now he was letting himself go all the way into evil practises, and revealing himself for what he really was. He was sacrificing to devils (Deuteronomy 32:16-17).

The word for ‘burning incense’ could be rendered ‘offered a fire offering’ but as incense altars were regularly found at pagan high places the burning of incense was probably intended.


Verses 9-13

YHWH’s Verdict And Judgment On The House Of Solomon (1 Kings 11:9-13).

Solomon had no doubt appeased his conscience by persuading himself that he was still honouring YHWH at the regular feasts when he took up his position as Intercessor of Israel, not realising that in fact by that very compromise he was demeaning YHWH. He was bringing Him down to the level of the other ‘gods’.

We are not told how YHWH conveyed His message to Solomon, but it was probably through a prophet (Ahijah (1 Kings 11:29) may well be a contender), and in it He brought out the seriousness of what Solomon had done. In spite of his privilege of being specifically illuminated twice by God at crucial points in his life, he had broken every promise and had defied the covenant. From now on therefore his house was only to have responsibility for two of the tribes of Israel. The other ‘ten’ would be handed over to one of his ‘servants’.

As often with God’s judgments this would actually occur through historical events, and much of the blame would lie at the door of the recalcitrance of his own son. But it is a reminder that behind all history lies the controlling hand of God.

Analysis.

a And YHWH was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned away from YHWH, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what YHWH commanded (1 Kings 11:10).

b For which reason YHWH said to Solomon, “Forasmuch as this is done by you, and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely rend the kingdom from you, and will give it to your servant” (1 Kings 11:11).

a “Notwithstanding in your days I will not do it, for David your father’s sake, but I will rend it out of the hand of your son. However that may be I will not rend away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son, for David my servant’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake which I have chosen” (1 Kings 11:12-13).

Note that in ‘a’ Solomon had turned away his heart from God, and in the parallel God will in turn rend the kingdom from Solomon’s son. Central in ‘b’ is the detailed explanation of why this will be. Note how ‘b’ is the glue that holds all together. It looks back to the breaking of the commandment in ‘a’ and forward to the rending away of the kingdom in the parallel ‘a’.

1 Kings 11:9-10

And YHWH was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned away from YHWH, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what YHWH commanded.’

The result was that YHWH was ‘angry with Solomon’. In other words He took an antipathy to him because of his sin. It was no mild antipathy for it was to affect Solomon’s children and his house from then on. And Solomon’s sin was seen as especially heinous because YHWH had twice appeared to Solomon in dreams and warned him of the consequences of turning away from Him and going after other gods (compare 1 Kings 3:5-15 where it is implied in the command to walk in His ways and keep His commandment; 1 Kings 9:2-9), and besides he had less excuse than later kings because, unlike them, he was not under any other kind of threat (at least later kings had the excuse that they were being pressurised politically by powerful overlords). He was thus totally inexcusable. The final verdict, like that on Adam and Eve, was that he had not kept what YHWH had commanded and would thus be thrust out of his kingdom.

The idea of the ‘anger of God’ is used regularly in the Old Testament as a way of describing God’s antipathy to sin. Compare 1 Kings 8:46; Deuteronomy 1:37; Deuteronomy 4:21; Deuteronomy 9:8; Deuteronomy 9:20. > While a parallel idea of ‘the anger of God’ was also to be found in the Moabite stone (the anger of Chemosh) and in Assyrian and Hittite texts, there it was a crude polytheism that was in mind that was reflected in violence, whereas here it will be noted that God did not lash out violently but gave a merciful and considered judgment which was far more merciful than was deserved. To speak of God’s anger is an anthropomorphism indicating God’s necessary antipathy to sin.

1 Kings 11:11

For which reason YHWH said to Solomon, “Forasmuch as this is done by you, and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely rend the kingdom from you, and will give it to your servant”.’

YHWH’s verdict was then declared. Because Solomon had failed to keep His covenant and His statutes which YHWH had commanded him, the kingdom that YHWH had given him was to be torn away from him and given to one of his ‘servants’. Solomon was now in total disgrace, and his name was to be humiliated. Solomon’s son, instead of inheriting an empire, would become a petty king.


Verse 12

Notwithstanding in your days I will not do it, for David your father’s sake, but I will rend it out of the hand of your son.”

Nevertheless, for the sake of David to whom YHWH had given such wonderful promises about Solomon (2 Samuel 7:12-15; 2 Samuel 12:24-25), this would not take place while Solomon was alive, but after he had gone. For David had been promised that YHWH would not take away His mercy from his son as He had taken it away from Saul (2 Samuel 7:15), and YHWH would never go back on His promise. All His mercy therefore was for David’s sake.


Verse 13

However that may be I will not rend away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son, for David my servant’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake which I have chosen.”

Furthermore, because He had promised to David that his throne and his kingship would last for ever and had guaranteed the permanence of his house (2 Samuel 7:16) he would not take the whole kingdom out of his son’s hands, but would give him one more tribe other than Judah. And He would do this ‘for David My servant’s sake, and ‘for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen’.

The notion that YHWH had chosen Jerusalem has never been stated before. But that choice had been made by David when he had brought the Ark into Jerusalem and placed it in a Sacred Tent at which sacrifices were offered, and YHWH had therefore ‘chosen it’ for David’s sake (compare 1 Kings 8:16-21 where no city had been chosen before). This was where David’s kingship had been set up, and this was therefore where it would be continued. This was quite important, for strictly, now that Solomon had turned away from YHWH, Jerusalem should have been doomed (1 Kings 9:7-9). But for David’s sake it was to be spared, because as David’s city YHWH had chosen to watch over it. Jerusalem was not eternally chosen. It was chosen for David’s sake.


Verses 14-22

Hadad The Edomite (1 Kings 11:14-22).

The first adversary was Hadad, the Edomite. He was of the royal family of Edom and had escaped the retaliatory massacre that necessarily followed an Edomite raid on Israel that had produced many dead. Joab had, in retaliation, carried out an extermination campaign in which he had attempted to kill every male capable of fighting in Edom. To be fair to him it was the only way of preventing further raids from the mountains of Edom, and making southernmost ‘Israel’ safe.

Hadad, a young teenager of the royal family, was smuggled out of the country into the land of Midian, with the aim, once it was feasible, of fleeing for refuge to Egypt. From Midian they eventually moved on to Paran in the Sinai wilderness, and then, with the assistance of the men of Paran, escaped into Egypt, where Hadad was received by the Pharaoh as royalty, and given a house, food fit for royalty and land. Indeed he gained such favour with the Pharaoh that he was allowed to marry the Pharaoh’s wife’s sister. This marriage resulted in the birth of a son named Genubath who was weaned and grew up in the Pharaoh’s household among his own sons. Solomon’s enemies were also gaining favour with Egypt.

Once, however, news reached Egypt that David and Joab were dead, Hadad presumably saw an opportunity of gaining back his throne (he was not aware of Solomon’s calibre) and asked to be allowed to return to Edom. The Pharaoh tried to dissuade him, but in the end gave him permission to go. Once safely hidden in the mountains of Edom he rallied the men who remained (some would have escaped the massacre either by hiding in remote places, or fleeing to surrounding countries), and began to cause Solomon a great deal of ‘mischief’ (1 Kings 11:25). In other words, from his mountain hide-out he was a constant thorn in Solomon’s side. Such ‘brigand’ or ‘patriotic’ (depending on your viewpoint) bands are difficult to search out in mountainous country which is well known to the ‘brigands’, and were of course a nuisance rather than dangerous to the empire, for Solomon was still able to work the mines in Edom and trade through the port of Ezion-geber. But it was unquestionably a blot on the peaceful empire of Solomon, especially as Hadad’s claims had some validity. The whole account was possibly extracted at some stage from Edomite annals.

Analysis.

a And YHWH raised up an adversary to Solomon, Hadad the Edomite. He was of the king’s seed in Edom (1 Kings 11:14).

b For it came about, when David was in Edom, and Joab the captain of the host was gone up to bury the slain, and had smitten every male in Edom, (for Joab and all Israel remained there six months, until he had cut off every male in Edom), that ’Adad fled, he and certain Edomites of his father’s servants with him, to go into Egypt, Hadad being yet a young teenager (1 Kings 11:15-17).’

c And they arose out of Midian, and came to Paran, and they took men with them out of Paran, and they came to Egypt, to Pharaoh king of Egypt, who gave him a house, and appointed him victuals, and gave him land (1 Kings 11:18).

d 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 (1 Kings 11:19).

c And the sister of Tahpenes bore him Genubath his son, whom Tahpenes weaned in Pharaoh’s house, and Genubath was in Pharaoh’s house among the sons of Pharaoh (1 Kings 11:20).

b 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 my own country (1 Kings 11:21).

a Then Pharaoh said to him, “But what have you lacked with me, that, behold, you seek to go to your own country?” And he answered, “Nothing. However that may be only let me depart” (1 Kings 11:22).

Note that in ‘a’ YHWH raises up an adversary to Solomon, and in the parallel he insists on returning to his own country in order to be an adversary. In ‘b’ David and Joab had carried out the slaughter of the Edomites, and in the parallel it is because of the deaths of David and Joab that Hadad returns to Edom. In ‘c’ Hadad is well looked after by the Pharaoh, and in the parallel his son is well looked after in Pharaoh’s household. Centrally in ‘d’ Hadad finds favour with the Pharaoh and marries the sister of Pharaoh’s wife.

1 Kings 11:14

And YHWH raised up an adversary to Solomon, Hadad the Edomite. He was of the king’s seed in Edom.’

The first adversary raised up by YHWH against Solomon was Hadad the Edomite, who was descended from the royal house of Edom. The author has no doubt that YHWH had all history in His hands, and knew and shaped what was to come. Thus the ‘raising up’ began as early as the time of David when the young prince of Edom escaped the massacre of his countrymen, and was finally able to make his way to Egypt where he was treated with honour.

1 Kings 11:15-17

For it came about, when David was in Edom, and Joab the captain of the host was gone up to bury the slain, and had smitten every male in Edom, (for Joab and all Israel remained there six months, until he had cut off every male in Edom, that ’Adad fled, he and certain Edomites of his father’s servants with him, to go into Egypt, Hadad being yet a young teenager.’

The background to his story is given, It looked back to a time when the Edomites had raided David’s kingdom and had viciously slaughtered a good number of ‘Israelites’. Joab had then been despatched by David ‘to bury the Israelite dead,’ which would include the necessity for obtaining vengeance on their behalf and ensuring that such Edomite raids never took place again. In those days there was only one way in which to ensure that, and that was by totally destroying the enemy’s fighting capability. The women of Edom would not do any raiding on their own. Thus Joab set out to slaughter every male capable of fighting in Edom, a task over which he took six months.

But however savage the onslaught, clearly there would always be some who escaped into remote places or into other lands, and among them were a group of his father’s ‘servants’ who smuggled him away into the land of Midian (the ‘servants’ may have been some of his father’s courtiers and chieftains, or they may have been loyal household servants). This ‘land of Midian’ may have been the perilous and mountainous land to the south of Edom often seen as being ‘the land of Midian’, or it may even refer to that part of the Sinai peninsula which in Exodus 2:15 was also spoken of as ‘the land of Midian’. The Midianites roamed over wide areas, and therefore ‘the land of Midian’ was not easy to define. In their view it was wherever they roamed. So it depended on the perspective of the user.

It will be noted that Hadad is only this once in the narrative called ’Adad. This may have been his more popular name as a youngster, and therefore be the sign of a personal reminiscence by someone who had known the young prince well by that name, Hadad being his ‘royal name’. The dropping of an ‘aitch’ was by no means uncommon with names (compare Adoram (1 Kings 12:18) and Hadoram (2 Chronicles 10:18) for the same man).

Hadad (‘the Thunderer’) was the Aramaean god of storm, the equivalent of Baal, and this may indicate that the Edomites worshipped the Aramaean pantheon, for Hadad had long been a popular name for Edomite rulers (see e.g. Genesis 36:35-36; 1 Chronicles 1:46; 1 Chronicles 1:50). Interestingly we are never otherwise given any indication as to which gods the Edomites worshipped.

1 Kings 11:18

And they arose out of Midian, and came to Paran, and they took men with them out of Paran, and they came to Egypt, to Pharaoh king of Egypt, who gave him a house, and appointed him victuals, and gave him land.’

We do not know how long they remained in hiding in Midian, which would not normally have been very friendly towards them, (although the Midianites did sometime harbour refugees, as they did Moses), but eventually they determined to make an attempt to reach Egypt, and made their way into the Sinai peninsula into the land of Paran. There they were seemingly befriended by peoples who assisted them on their way to Egypt. David was probably not very popular with any of these peoples, and they were probably delighted to be able to ‘get their own back’ on him, even if only in so small a way.

On arrival in Egypt Hadad’s identity was disclosed, and he was welcomed by the Pharaoh who provided him with a house and some land, and ensured that he was properly and royally fed.

1 Kings 11:19

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.’

Indeed Hadad grew to such favour with Pharaoh that he was given for a wife the sister of the Pharaoh’s own chief wife. She was thus not of Pharaoh’s own seed, but nevertheless it was a great honour. Tahpenes was probably not the name of the queen, but a title signifying ‘wife of the king’ (Egyptian t.hmt.nsw). Hadad now counted for something in Egypt.

1 Kings 11:20

And the sister of Tahpenes bore him Genubath his son, whom Tahpenes weaned in Pharaoh’s house, and Genubath was in Pharaoh’s house among the sons of Pharaoh.’

His marriage prospered and Hadad’s wife bore him a son, whom they named Genubath. This son was honoured by being weaned in Pharaoh’s own household, and brought up among his sons.

1 Kings 11:21

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 my own country.’

But when Hadad learned that David and the dreaded Joab were both dead, and that the young Solomon had come to the throne, he saw an opportunity, and began to hanker for his own country. The period after the death of a king was often one of unrest, and here was surely the opportunity for him to establish himself on the throne of Edom and obtain independence for Edom from Israel. So he went to the Pharaoh and begged permission to return to his own country. He was, of course, aware, as Pharaoh was, that he was thereby forfeiting a life of ease and comfort for a life of hardship, but it seemed to his patriotic spirit that it was worthwhile. Indeed, he probably felt that he must do it.

1 Kings 11:22

Then Pharaoh said to him, “But what have you lacked with me, that, behold, you seek to go to your own country?” And he answered, “Nothing. However that may be only let me depart.”

Pharaoh tried to persuade him not to leave, and pointed out the luxurious lifestyle that he enjoyed. But Hadad was determined, and while admitting how good the Pharaoh had been to him, nevertheless begged permission to depart. This permission was clearly granted for we already know that he had been raised up by YHWH to be an ‘adversary’ to Solomon, and we learn in 1 Kings 11:25 that he caused ‘mischief’ to Solomon. We are given no details, but this suggests that he returned to Edom, along with his retainers, where he was accepted by the remnants of the men who had escaped the Edom massacre, and the younger Edomites who were now growing to manhood, as their king and chieftain.

His rule was probably that of a chieftain of a band of patriots who had to remain hidden in the mountains like bandits, But he clearly caused Solomon some irritation, although being a thorn in his flesh rather than a danger to his kingdom. The cities of Edom probably still had to pay their tribute to Solomon, and Solomon was still able to work the mines and trade through Ezion Geber. But Hadad no doubt raided the supply trains and merchant caravans as they made their way to and from Israel. It is doubtful whether Solomon ever gave him any recognition.

The deliberate omission here of any mention of Hadad’s ‘mischief-making’ and its being coupled with the mischief-making of Rezon of Damascus in 1 Kings 11:25 is with the deliberate intention of linking the two incidents as part of YHWH’s one overall attempt to curb Solomon’s growing arrogance.

This crack in the peace of his realm should have given Solomon pause for thought. But when men are set on the downward path they rarely stop to think.

Rezon of Damascus.

The next ‘adversary’ that God raised up against Solomon was Rezon of Damascus. He was an office in the army of Hadadezer, king of Zobah, at the time when David retaliated against Hadadezer for aiding the Ammonites, and brought him into subjection, slaying many men of Zobah. Rezon deserted Hadadezer, and gathered a band of marauders (as David had done before him), and eventually, probably after a considerable period of time, established himself in Damascus. From there he was a constant adversary to Solomon, seeking to cause mischief, hating Israel, and reigning over Aram (Syria). In other words he was a constant trouble-maker and thorn in the flesh.

We do not know the full details. It may well be that Damascus still paid tribute to Solomon on and off, and that it was at least nominally tributary, but that Rezon, with his men, having virtual control of Damascus, constantly caused trouble. (It is difficult to see how it could totally have resisted the power of Solomon and remained fully independent, and it is noticeable that Rezon is not said to have been king of Damascus, which had once been garrisoned by David). Again it was seen to be a thorn in the flesh rather than a major threat, and it does not appear to have greatly affected Solomon’s trading arrangements. In the future, however, Damascus would grow into a greater threat to Israel than Edom could ever be. But that yet lay ahead. Rezon’s ruling over Aram may well have been after Solomon’s death, the account here being a brief summary of Rezon’s whole life.

Analysis.

a And God raised up another adversary to him, Rezon the son of Eliada, who had fled from his lord Hadadezer king of Zobah (1 Kings 11:23).

b And he gathered men to him, and became captain over a roving band, when David slew those of Zobah, and they went to Damascus, and dwelt in it, and ruled in Damascus (1 Kings 11:24).

a And he was an adversary to Israel all the days of Solomon, besides the mischief that Hadad did, and he abhorred Israel, and ruled over Aram (Syria) (1 Kings 11:25).

Note that in ‘a’ he was an adversary to Solomon and the same in the parallel. Central in ‘b’ is his control of Damascus.

1 Kings 11:23

And God raised up another adversary to him, Rezon the son of Eliada, who had fled from his lord Hadadezer king of Zobah.’

Once more God is seen to be active in causing trouble for Solomon through historic events. This time it was a man called Rezon (which means ‘chieftain’, probably the name he took when he became leader of his band. His real name was probably Hezion - see below), the son of Eliada. E(h)li-Ada is a typically Aramaean name. This man was an officer in the army of Hadadezer of Zobah, and when David invaded Zobah in retaliation for Zobah’s assistance to Ammon (2 Samuel 10:1-19), Rezon at some stage deserted or fled and, taking advantage of the chaos, got together a band of marauders.

1 Kings 11:24

And he gathered men to him, and became captain over a roving band when David slew those of Zobah, and they went to Damascus, and dwelt in it, and ruled in Damascus.’

As his band of marauders grew they were able over a considerable period of time to grow strong enough to enter Damascus, which initially had been subdued and garrisoned by David (2 Samuel 8:3-6), and take control of it. How far he was totally able to resist the influence of Solomon we do not know. It may well be that for a time they paid tribute unwillingly (he is not called king), but with belligerent reluctance, being allowed to remain because he was not seen as too great a threat.

1 Kings 11:25

And he was an adversary to Israel all the days of Solomon, besides the mischief that Hadad did, and he abhorred Israel, and ruled over Aram (Syria).’

He was never reconciled to Solomon, and like Hadad constantly sought to act against him, hating Israel with loathing and eventually taking over the rule of the whole of Aram (which may have been immediately after Solomon’s death). He may well have been identical with Hezion, grandfather of Benhadad I who would later make an alliance with Asa of Judah (1 Kings 15:18).

Had Solomon taken notice of this chastising of YHWH it might have faced him up with his waning obedience, but he was far too busy on his pet projects and with his wives and their false worship to bother too much about such things. And the result was that it passed him by. His failure would have devastating consequences for his descendants.


Verses 14-40

YHWH Raises Up Three Adversaries to Solomon (1 Kings 11:14-40).

At the commencement of his reign Solomon had had to deal with three rebels against the throne, Adonijah, Abiathar and Joab and Shimei (1 Kings 2:13-46). Now we learn of three adversaries whom, during the course of his reign, YHWH ‘raised up’ to be a thorn in Solomon’s side, Hadad the Edomite (1 Kings 11:14-22), Rezon of Damascus (1 Kings 11:23-26), and Jeroboam, the son of Nebat (1 Kings 11:27-40). The narratives are not in chronological order (chronologically the first two mainly occurred before YHWH’s judgment on Solomon) but in topical order. They are gathered together at the end of the narrative so as to demonstrate the opposition that had been growing continually towards Solomon because of his ways, and what it would eventually lead to. Thus even while Solomon had been moving on to greater and greater arrogance, YHWH had been giving him warnings about his vulnerability.

It is significant that two of these adversaries were sheltered by Egypt. Solomon had courted Egypt by marrying Pharaoh’s daughter, and now Egypt was ready to stab him in the back. His compromise with Egypt had thus had limited benefits. It may well be that Siamun, the father of Solomon’s wife, had died, and that the Pharaoh who sheltered Hadad was his successor Psusennes II. It will, however, be noted that the Pharaoh had no belligerent intentions against Solomon, and in fact did not want Hadad to return to Edom. He was simply sheltering a royal refugee with whom he had established good relations. Shishak, the Pharaoh who would later take in Jeroboam, was from a new and more enterprising dynasty whose aim was to destabilise Israel. It is noticeable, however, that even he did not dare to threaten Israel while Solomon was still alive, only foment trouble for him with the hope of destabilising Israel, something which was later achieved for him satisfactorily by Rehoboam’s folly. He then walked in and said ‘thank you very much’. But Solomon, instead of taking warning, went heedlessly on.


Verses 26-40

Jeroboam The Rebel (1 Kings 11:26-40).

Because Solomon had not responded to YHWH’s chastening and had grievously sinned YHWH, now raised up one who was to be given the large part of Solomon’s kingdom. His name was Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, and he was an Israelite, an Ephraimite from Zeredah.

He had come to prominence because Solomon had observed how industrious and capable he was during some of his building work, and had therefore set him over ‘all the labour of the house of Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh, and possibly even more)’. This had given him great influence due to the constant levies on the people of Israel during the period of the building of the Temple, and it had also enabled him to enter in to the pain of his people.

After some time in his position, as he was leaving Jerusalem one day, he was met in the solitariness of the countryside by the prophet Ahijah. Ahijah was deliberately wearing a new cloak (symbolic of the new kingdom), and tearing it into twelve pieces he gave ten pieces to Jeroboam, declaring that just as this cloak had been torn so Israel would be torn, with the result that ten tribes of Israel would be given to him to rule over, with two tribes remaining under the rule of the house of Solomon because of His promises to David. Jeroboam was thus destined to become king over Israel, because of Solomon’s grievous sins in connection with foreign gods.

Such a prophetic utterance was not intended to be seen as an incitement to rebellion. It was simply preparing Jeroboam for the future (as Samuel had with David). But the fact that Solomon sought Jeroboam out to kill him suggests that Jeroaboam did initiate some moves against Solomon, moves which Solomon found out about, something confirmed by later tradition which cites an actual rebellion. That may have been overstating the case, but certainly we are told that he ‘lifted up his hand against the king’ and it would appear later that the tribes of Israel looked to him as their prospective leader (1 Kings 12:2-3). It may well be that these moves were connected with seeking to make the burden of the people lighter carried to such an extent that it became insubordination.

The consequence was that he had to flee to Egypt, where he came under the protection of Shishak, the Pharaoh of a new, more enterprising dynasty, who was delighted to do anything that might contribute towards undermining Solomon’s power.

Analysis.

a And Jeroboam the son of Nebat, an Ephraimite of Zeredah, a servant of Solomon, whose mother’s name was Zeruah, a widow, he also lifted up his hand against the king (1 Kings 11:26).

b And this was the reason why he lifted up his hand against the king. Solomon built Millo, and repaired the breach of the city of David his father (1 Kings 11:27).

c And the man Jeroboam was a mighty man of valour, and Solomon saw the young man that he was industrious, and he gave him charge over all the labour of the house of Joseph (1 Kings 11:28).

d And it came about at that time, when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him in the way (1 Kings 11:29 a).

e Now Ahijah had clad himself with a new robe, and they two were alone in the countryside, and Ahijah laid hold of the new robe which was on him, and tore it into twelve pieces, and he said to Jeroboam, “You take ten pieces. For thus says YHWH, the God of Israel, ‘Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to you’ ” (1 Kings 11:29-31).

f “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” (1 Kings 11:32).

g “Because that they have forsaken me, and have worshipped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of Moab, and Milcom the god of the children of Ammon, and they have not walked in my ways, to do what is right in my eyes, and to keep my statutes and my ordinances, as did David his father” (1 Kings 11:33).

f “However that may be 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, who kept my commandments and my statutes” (1 Kings 11:34).

e “But I will take the kingdom out of his son’s hand, and will give it to you, even ten tribes, and to his son will I give one tribe, that David my servant may have a lamp always before me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen for myself to put my name there” (1 Kings 11:35-36).

d “And I will take you, and you shall reign according to all that your soul desires, and will be king over Israel” (1 Kings 11:37).

c “And it shall be, if you will listen to all that I command you, and will walk in my ways, and do what is right in my eyes, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did” (1 Kings 11:38).

b “That I will be with you, and will build you a sure house, as I built for David, and will give Israel to you, and I will for this afflict the seed of David, but not for ever” (1 Kings 11:39).

a Solomon sought therefore to kill Jeroboam, but Jeroboam arose, and fled into Egypt, to Shishak king of Egypt, and was in Egypt until the death of Solomon (1 Kings 11:40).

Note that in ‘a’ Jeroboam lifted up his hand against the king, and in the parallel he had to flee to Egypt from Solomon’s wrath. In ‘b’ Solomon built up the Millo and repaired the breach of the city of David, and in the parallel YHWH promised that, if he was obedient, He would build up the house of Jeroboam in the same way as he had promised to David, causing a breach with the seed of David who would thus be afflicted. In ‘c’ Jeroboam demonstrated his diligent obedience to Solomon, and in the parallel he was called on to be diligently obedient to YHWH. In ‘d’ Ahijah sought Jeroboam out in order to deliver to him a prophecy, and in the parallel he prophesied that he would rule over Israel. In ‘e’ Ahijah symbolically indicates that ten tribes will be torn from Solomon and given to Jeroboam, the remainder remaining with the house of David, and in the parallel that is emphasised. In ‘f’ ‘one tribe’ will remain with the house of David, something confirmed in the parallel. Central in ‘g’ we have the reason behind all this. It is because of Solomon’s rebellion against YHWH in following after false gods.

1 Kings 11:26

And Jeroboam the son of Nebat, an Ephraimite (Ephrathite) of Zeredah, a servant of Solomon, whose mother’s name was Zeruah, a widow, he also lifted up his hand against the king.’

The third in the sequence of troublemakers was a man whose name was Jeroboam (‘the people is great’). He was the son of Nebat, and an Ephraimite from Zeredah. But his father was dead, and his mother was a widow named Zeruah. Zeruah means ‘leprous’. This name may have been given because her mother had become a leper, but the prophet no doubt saw it as significant in view of what followed. Zeredah is probably Banat-Bar, north-west of Bethel. Jeroboam was ‘an officer of the king.’

“He lifted up his hand against the king.” 1 Kings 11:27-28 may be seen as suggesting that this arose out of his position as officer in charge of the labour of the house of Joseph. He may well simply have been involved in actively and strongly campaigning for better rights for his workers, something which the arrogant Solomon would have seen as insubordination and incipient rebellion, and therefore as worthy of death Certainly later Israel called on him to help them obtain a better deal under Rehoboam (1 Kings 12:2-4).

1 Kings 11:27-28

And this was the reason why he lifted up his hand against the king. Solomon built Millo, and repaired the breach of the city of David his father, and the man Jeroboam was a mighty man of valour, and Solomon saw the young man that he was industrious, and he gave him charge over all the labour of the house of Joseph.’

The reason given for his having lifted up his hand against the king is that when he demonstrated his ability and zeal in the building of the Millo, Solomon took notice of him and, recognising that he was a man of property (a mighty man of wealth/valour) appointed him to have charge over the large labour force from the house of Joseph. This would include the two large tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh but may well also have included some of the other northern tribes as well. Thus he was given a position of considerable authority.

Being a ‘mighty man of valour’ ( a man of property, and of considerable courage and ability) he may well have felt it his responsibility to defend the needs of his workers, even to the point of open hostility towards Solomon’s officers, something which in itself would have had him branded as a ‘troublemaker’. If he thereby gained the affection and support of a large proportion of the people so that there were murmurings among them Solomon would certainly have seen him as a potential threat. He did not deal kindly with troublemakers, as we know.

Such a display of godly concern for the people in accordance with covenant principles, and of a willingness to take risks on his people’s behalf, would explain why YHWH saw Jeroboam as a potentially reliable ruler, and sent a prophet to inform him that one day he would be rewarded for his ‘right actions’ by becoming king over Israel.

1 Kings 11:29

And it came about at that time, when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him in the way. Now Ahijah had clad himself with a new garment; and they two were alone in the countryside.’

When one day Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem and was walking (or riding on an ass) through the open countryside away from prying ears, he was met by Ahijah the prophet, a Shilonite, who was wearing a new robe which we will discover was symbolic of the new kingdom of David. Note the emphasis on the aspect of privacy. What the prophet had to say was for Jeroboam’s ears alone.

Alternately the newness of the garment may have been because it was to be used for a sacred purpose, and thus must never have been previously used (compare 2 Samuel 6:3).

The fact that Ahijah was from Shiloh may suggest that he was a member of a group of prophets who were based at Shiloh, the site of the ancient Tabernacle prior to the site being ransacked by the Philistines (see e.g. Joshua 18:1; 1 Samuel 1:3; 1 Samuel 4:4; Jeremiah 7:14). It would be seen as a legitimate place where YHWH had recorded His Name. These prophets would thus be less influenced by, and more independent of, Solomon than prophets in Jerusalem (who if they had a message might have been expected to speak directly to Solomon) would be.

1 Kings 11:30

And Ahijah laid hold of the new garment which was on him, and tore it into twelve pieces.’

On coming up with Jeroboam Ahijah took off his new robe and tore it into twelve pieces (compare 1 Samuel 15:27-28). This was an acted out prophecy which guaranteed the certainty of what was to happen. It was, as it were, a prophetic earnest of what was to come.

1 Kings 11:31-32

And he said to Jeroboam, “You take ten pieces. For thus says YHWH, the God of Israel, ‘Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to you, (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),”

Then Ahijah told Jeroboam to accept ten pieces of the robe, which was an indication that YHWH intended that ten out of the twelve tribes of Israel were for him, and would be given to him by YHWH. The remainder would still belong to the house of Solomon. The fact that two pieces were retained for Solomon indicated that he would have two tribes, thus the ‘one tribe’ must have meant ‘one other as well as Judah’.

However, we must not overpress the specific numbers. Some time had passed by since Israel had been divided into twelve distinct tribes, and there had been much movement and mingling, dividing up and assimilation, among the tribes, to say nothing of the effect of the inter-relationships with other inhabitants of the land. The two who would unite around the house of Solomon would be Judah and Benjamin (1 Kings 12:21), although some parts of Benjamin, such as Jericho, would remain with Israel, but among them would be living many individuals from other tribes, especially from the tribe of Simeon who had once dwelt among Judah in the place where they had first settled, mainly losing much of their identity, and there would be those from all tribes who had centred their focus on Jerusalem as the hub of the empire and centre of worship for Israel, and wished to remain there.

It would seem, however, that many Simeonites had moved elsewhere and were seen as separately identifiable (1 Chronicles 12:24-25; compare how cities that were Simeonite in Joshua 19:1-9 could be seen as cities of Judah in Joshua 15). Indeed many Simeonites from the north continued to make pilgrimages to the shrine in Beersheba (Amos 5:5). We know also that Dan had similarly become divided up into two distinct groups, one group having moved to Laish (Judges 18), and the remainder remaining where they were. Furthermore many from the tribe of Levi would naturally focus on Jerusalem. Thus ‘the ten tribes’ was simply intended as a general description indicating all who would not see themselves as still a part of the kingdom when the rebellion took place, those who would not specifically identify themselves with the leaders of Judah and Benjamin, thereby roughly making up the rest of ‘Israel’. They were probably still identifiable to some extent as ‘tribes’ by the fact of whom they demonstrated their loyalty to among the elders of Israel, for there would still be elders who were seen as representing particular ancient tribes to whom loyalties would be due. But we must not think of ten easily separable and identifiable tribes. We can compare how in Jesus’ time when things were even more complicated He could still speak of ‘the twelve tribes of Israel’ as though they were each identifiable, even though they were not (and all knew that they were not), and James could address the whole church as ‘the twelve tribes of Israel’ (James 1:1). This is not to deny that large numbers of Israel did still identify themselves with a particular tribe, but with many it was more wishful thinking than a reality of birth. It was a matter of seeing themselves as adopted by the tribe with which they, sometimes loosely, aligned themselves, and in whose anciently allocated area they lived.


Verse 33

Because that they have forsaken me, and have worshipped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of Moab, and Milcom the god of the children of Ammon, and they have not walked in my ways, to do what is right in my eyes, and to keep my statutes and my ordinances, as did David his father.”

The reason for this astounding prophecy is now given. It was because Solomon and his wives (and/or his people) had forsaken YHWH, and had worshipped foreign gods in Jerusalem, the city which had been set apart for YHWH by David when he introduced the Ark into it, with the result that YHWH had ‘chosen it’. Furthermore they had also not walked in His ways to do what was right in His eyes and to keep His statutes and ordinances, in the way that David, Solomon’s father had. Thus what was to happen was due to a combination of idolatry and of disobedience to His moral and religious requirements (compare Isaiah 1:11-18). The language of the second half of the verse is similar to that in 1 Kings 3:14; 1 Kings 9:4, although ‘to do what is right in my eyes’ is new (although see Deuteronomy 13:18). As we have seen earlier the ideas are a mixture of Mosaic and Davidic rather than simply Deuteronomic (in whatever sense) ideas. They look back on the whole of Israel’s history. The gods described are those mentioned in 1 Kings 11:5; 1 Kings 11:7.


Verse 34

However that may be 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, who kept my commandments and my statutes,”

However, because of His promise to David His chosen king, and for David’s sake, and because David had been obedient to His commandments and statutes, He would not take the whole kingdom away from Solomon. Indeed He would make him ‘prince/ruler’ all the days of his life. There is here both a degrading and a consolidating of Solomon’s position. While outwardly king over all Israel, it is no longer a permanent dynastic position, but one dependent on the will of the people and the mind of YHWH.

1 Kings 11:35-36

But I will take the kingdom out of his son’s hand, and will give it to you, even ten tribes. And to his son will I give one tribe, that David my servant may have a lamp always before me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen for myself to put my name there.”

And while it was YHWH’s intention to take the majority of the kingdom out of the hands of the house of Solomon, ‘even ten tribes’ (ten regularly means ‘a good number’), He would not take the whole kingdom out of his son’s hands. He would give him one tribe, in contrast to the ten tribes that He would give to Jeroboam. This clearly had to mean one tribe as well as Judah, in order to make up the twelve. Thus He saw Judah as already irrevocably belonging to David’s house. (These two tribes would then be known as ‘Judah’ (1 Kings 12:20) which became the accepted designation of the southern kingdom).

And the reason for this was so that David might always have a lamp before Him in Jerusalem, the city which YHWH ‘had chosen for Himself’ in response to David’s choice of it. Had David’s house only ruled over Judah, Jerusalem, which was on the border between Judah and Benjamin, and partly belonged to each tribe, would have been in an impossible position. Thus in order to preserve it both Judah and Benjamin were required to unite as one kingdom.

The phrase, ‘that David my servant may have a lamp always before me in Jerusalem’, the idea behind which is repeated in 1 Kings 15:4; 2 Kings 8:19, may possibly have in mind 2 Samuel 21:17 where David was seen as the lamp of Israel because as the chosen king he was seen as the nation’s very life, and the means of God’s light shining on them. It had been David’s, and the people’s, longing that his house might always be such a light, and God now confirms that it will be so. Compare how in Lamentations 4:20 the Davidic king was also seen as ‘the breath of our nostrils’. He was seen as essential to their whole wellbeing.

But in the end the lamp indicated a living representative of the house of David, just as the seven-branched lampstand in the Tabernacle visibly represented YHWH among His people. There would be a Davidic representative while the kingdom lasted.

Having ‘chosen Jerusalem’ because it had been David’s choice to make it His Sanctuary, God now confirmed His choice of Jerusalem as the place where His Name would dwell (compare 1 Kings 11:11 which was the first mention of such an idea concerning Jerusalem). We should note that this ‘choice’ of Jerusalem is always linked with the name of David. It was the fact of the presence of the Davidic throne and of the Ark in Jerusalem that made Jerusalem YHWH’s choice. (Thus once Jerusalem rejected Jesus it ceased to be the city of God’s choice).


Verse 37

And I will take you, and you shall reign according to all that your soul desires, and will be king over Israel.”

So YHWH would take Jeroboam and make him reign in accordance with all the desires of his inner life, and establish him as king over Israel. If he fulfilled YHWH’s conditions he would have free rein and YHWH’s blessing.


Verse 38

And it shall be, if you will listen to all that I command you, and will walk in my ways, and do what is right in my eyes, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did, that I will be with you, and will build you a sure house, as I built for David, and will give Israel to you.”

This was, however, conditional upon obedience. If he was fully obedient, and walked in YHWH’s ways, and did what was right in His eyes, keeping His statutes and commandments as David had, then YHWH would be with him and would build him a sure house, just as He had built one for David, and his kingship would be over Israel (the tent tribes). Thus Jeroboam was being offered an equal blessing with David, if he was willing to obey Him like David had. We must not underestimate this covenant. It conditionally put him in the same covenant position as David was. That is why his subsequent fall was seen as so heinous. It was a total rejection of YHWH’s covenant such as even Saul had not achieved.

This promise suggests that there were good grounds, outwardly and humanly speaking, for seeing Jeroboam as having been looked on as a promising king, another David. This would serve to confirm that Jeroboam in his previous behaviour had not been simply a power-seeker, but was to be seen as having demonstrated a genuine concern for the needs of God’s people. This would tie in with his main effort having been to obtain some relief for the labourers over whom he had been appointed, rather than his having raised a specific rebellion. The later tradition of such a rebellion found in one strand of LXX (as given in the Vatican MS B) was probably an expansion on the reality. It bears the marks of ‘invention’. (The Lucianic recension of LXX is much closer to the Hebrew text). But it is nowhere supported by MT.


Verse 39

And I will for this afflict the seed of David, but not for ever.”

Meanwhile the house of David would be restricted before YHWH to only ruling Judah, and even in the end to ruling nothing at all, although in accordance to His promise to David that would one day be put right, something which happened when Jesus Christ came as God’s king Who was to rule over all men.

1 Kings 11:40

Solomon sought therefore to kill Jeroboam, but Jeroboam arose, and fled into Egypt, to Shishak king of Egypt, and was in Egypt until the death of Solomon.’

We are not told on what grounds Solomon sought to kill Jeroboam, apart from the fact that he had ‘lifted up his hand against him’. But any ground-swell of growing popularity and resistance to Solomon’s will would have been quite sufficient for Solomon to make such a verdict about him. And Jeroboam, as a result, had to flee to Egypt for refuge, where Shishak, the Pharaoh of the new dynasty, took him under his protection. And he remained safely in Egypt until the death of Solomon.

Each of these cases of the three adversaries is:

Firstly a reminder that if we are not wholly following the Lord He will raise up chasteners to seek to bring us to our senses (Hebrews 12:5-12).

Secondly a reminder that if we ourselves do what is wrong, or fail to do what is right, we will thereby give opportunity for the enemy’s of God to spoil our ‘kingdom’, and mar God’s handywork.

Thirdly a reminder, in the case of Jeroboam, that if we do not consider the consequences of our behaviour and attitudes, they will in the end rebound on us.

There is the constant warning in Kings that what we sow we will reap, (which is the message, for example, of Exodus 32:34; Exodus 34:7; Leviticus 10:1-2; Leviticus 18:24-28; Leviticus 20:2-5; Leviticus 26:14-46; Numbers 11:1-2; Numbers 14:40-45; Numbers 16:41-49; Numbers 21:4-9; Deuteronomy 4:25-28; Deuteronomy 11:16-17; Deuteronomy 11:26-28; Deuteronomy 28:15-68; Deuteronomy 29:18-29 ). It is a reminder that while God is gracious, He will not be mocked.


Verses 41-43

Comments In Respect Of The Close Of Solomon’s Reign (1 Kings 11:41-43).

It will be noted that some of the information which will in future be given at the commencement of a king’s reign here comes at the end of Solomon’s reign (see also 1 Kings 11:6). This will also partially be so with Rehoboam (1 Kings 14:21-22; 1 Kings 14:29-31) and Jeroboam (1 Kings 14:19-20). Thus the forthcoming regular pattern was not established by the author until after the deaths of these three kings. Its basis was that God had made two covenants, one that pertained to the kings of Judah (the Davidic covenant) and one that pertained to the kings of Israel (the covenant with Jeroboam - 1 Kings 11:37-38), with the kings of both Israel and Judah thus committed to obey YHWH and walk in His ways. And the continuing principle is that the kings were judged in the light of these covenants, and of how their fathers had behaved towards them Thus the kings of Judah are often compared against David, who had walked rightly before YHWH, and the kings of Israel in comparison with Jeroboam, who had grievously sinned and broken His covenant. This indicates that this framework was very much the creation of the main author of Kings, rather than simply a carrying forward of the practise found in Samuel (1 Samuel 13:1; 2 Samuel 5:4-5), although no doubt his reading of Samuel gave him something of the idea.

Analysis.

a Now 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? (1 Kings 11:41).

b And the time that Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel was forty years. (1 Kings 11:42).

a And Solomon slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David his father, and Rehoboam his son reigned in his place (1 Kings 11:43).

Note that in ‘a’ we have the beginning of Solomon’s obituary, and in the parallel the end of it. Centrally in ‘b’ we have the declaration concerning his reign.

1 Kings 11:41

Now 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?’

Here we are given details of the main source from which the prophetic author had obtained much of his information. Two things are in mind, Solomon’s doings and his wisdom. He had a reputation for wisdom, and much had been written about it. But the author was not concerned with his wisdom, but with how it had been worked out in his life. While for a time it had seemed that he would live up to his promise, in the end his behaviour had let him down. This was a sign sadly of his lack of true wisdom, for ‘the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil that is understanding’. So in the end it had not mattered how wise he was. What mattered was whether he had lived in accordance with that wisdom, and our author has made clear that he did not, condemning him in the end as one who had ‘done evil in the sight of YHWH’, and as one who had not followed in the steps of his father David (1 Kings 11:6).

For all of us a book of our acts are being written in Heaven (Revelation 20:12). And in the end we too will be judged by our actions, and especially by how we responded to the Lamb, and whether our names were written in His book of life (Revelation 20:15). By this we too demonstrate whether we are really wise.

1 Kings 11:42

And the time that Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel was forty years.’

Solomon reigned in Jerusalem for the whole of his adult life, and he reigned for forty years. The ‘forty years’ indicates a full and complete reign which had not been cut off early, and in view of the fact that Solomon began to reign as a young man and, after a period of consolidation, spent twenty years over building the Temple and the palace complex, it is almost certainly fairly accurate, although it is not to be pressed. The number is a round number and the main idea is of the completeness of his reign. YHWH had not cut him off early. This indication of the length of reign will in future be given in the opening formula.

1 Kings 11:43

And Solomon slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David his father, and Rehoboam his son reigned in his place.’

This rather stereotyped statement indicates the bare facts concerning his death and his successor. Its pattern will be constantly repeated. Solomon died and was buried in the city of David, and eventually Rehoboam reigned in Jerusalem in his place, (although it would be over a very much diminished kingdom). The description of a king’s burial will usually indicate that he came to a peaceful end, although certainly not in the case of Ahab (1 Kings 22:37; 1 Kings 22:40).

 


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Bibliography Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on 1 Kings 11:4". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/1-kings-11.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, October 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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