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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
1 Kings 11

 

 

Verses 1-43

1 Kings 11:1-43. Sin of Solomon, and the Adversaries Raised up in Consequence.—From various differences in the arrangement of the earlier verses in the LXX and Heb., it has been supposed that in its original form the narrative merely recorded the fact that Solomon had a number of wives, and that he built sanctuaries and offered sacrifice to their gods. In its present form the influence of a Deuteronomic editor is unmistakable. But the account of Solomon's "adversaries" (1 Kings 11:14 ff.) must be derived from an earlier source; and even as it stands does not necessarily mean that they were raised up in punishment of his sin. Hadad, the Edomite (1 Kings 11:14-22) must have troubled him early in his reign (1 Kings 11:21 f.), and Rezon was an adversary of Israel "all the days of Solomon" (1 Kings 11:25), whereas Solomon's apostasy is expressly assigned to the end of his reign (1 Kings 11:4) "when Solomon was old." His adversaries belonged to the three nations which were destined to cause trouble to his successors on the throne of David, Edom represented by Hadad, Syria by Rezon, and Israel by Jeroboam.

In the LXX of 1 Kings 11:8 it is implied that not only did the king's wives sacrifice to their gods, but Solomon himself. The verse (1 Kings 11:3) giving the number of his wives appears in different places in the Heb. and LXX, and is perhaps a late insertion. The number is incredible. A large harem was not allowed in the Law to a king of Israel (Deuteronomy 17:17). In fact, polygamy was the exception and not the rule. The prohibitions to intermarry with the surrounding nations are Deuteronomy 7:1-4, Exodus 34:11-16 (P). In these, however, only the Hittites occur in the list of the nationalities of Solomon's wives (1 Kings 11:1), unless we include Zidonians as Canaanites. Ezra and Nehemiah discouraged marriages with Moabites and Ammonites (Ezra 9:1, Nehemiah 13:23).

The deities to whom Solomon erected sanctuaries (1 Kings 11:5-7) were: (a) Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Zidonians (2 Kings 23:13). She was extensively worshipped, but especially in Phœnicia. Her name was probably "Ashtart," and the Heb. word is probably this pointed with the vowels of "bosheth," i.e. "shame" (1 Kings 16:32*, 1 Samuel 14:49*, Judges 2:11*). She is the Ishtar of Babylonia, and probably the Aphrodite of Greece. Lucian mentions a temple to her at Zidon (De Dea Syra, E. 4); see Driver, EBi. 167. (b) Milcom (1 Kings 11:5) is the same as Molech (1 Kings 11:7) or Moloch: they are all varieties of the word melek, king (Leviticus 18:21*, Jeremiah 7:31*). Except here the name has the article in Heb. "the Moloch" (or king). This worship was terribly common at Jerusalem, with its accompanying sacrifices of children. The god of Tyre was called Melkarth, and was identified by the Greeks with Hercules. (c) Chemosh, the national god of Moab (Judges 11:24), is mentioned frequently on the Moabite Stone. The scene of these idolatrous rites is described as "the hill that is before Jerusalem" (1 Kings 11:7). This is probably the Mt. of Olives, perhaps once known as the mount of anointing—the words anointing and corruption being similar in Hebrew. In 2 Kings 23:13 we have the Mt. of Corruption. The hill S. of Jerusalem is now known by this name.

The narrative (1 Kings 11:14-22) concerning Hadad (Heb. Adad, 1 Kings 11:17) is somewhat confused. The difficulty is that in 1 Kings 11:17 Hadad is represented as a child when he went to Egypt, and in 1 Kings 11:19 as old enough to secure the Pharaoh's favour. Two narratives may have been combined, one of an Edomite chief Hadad, and another of a child named Adad. As the subsequent history shows, Hadad, though able to annoy Solomon, did not emancipate his country. Why he was so well received in Egypt is not known. Is it possible that here Egypt (Mizraim) is Musri in N. Arabia?

Rezon (1 Kings 11:23), the founder of the kingdom of Damascus, was a vassal of Hadad-ezer, the king of Zobah in Syria, who after his master's defeat (2 Samuel 8:3 ff.), established himself as an independent prince. In 1 Kings 15:18, the king of Syria, Benhadad, is called the son of Tabrimmon, the son of Hezion. The Vatican MS. of the LXX calls Rezon (Esrom?) Hezron or Hezion.

The story of Jeroboam's rise to a position of influence is difficult for two reasons. (a) The whole account of him in 1 Kings is coloured by the prejudices of a much later age, and in view of all the evil which followed from the partition of the two kingdoms. (b) The LXX gives an independent account of his early progress at the court of Solomon. Two narratives have been combined—an Israelite one which does not regard his rebellion as a crime, and an antagonistic Judæan story told from a Deuteronomic standpoint. The LXX has the following particulars not in the Heb. Jeroboam was an Ephraimite. His mother's name was Sareisa. He built a city, and called it after his mother, and was banished to Egypt, where he was favourably received by Shishak. He married Anoth, the sister of Shishak's wife; and like Hadad, to whom he in this story bears a marked resemblance, insisted on going back to his native land.

1 Kings 11:29. Ahijah was a native of Shiloh, where Eli's sanctuary had been.

1 Kings 11:31. This is the first recorded symbolical act by a prophet, so common later. Ahijah rent his garment into twelve pieces, giving ten to Jeroboam. But it is repeatedly said (1 Kings 11:32; 1 Kings 12:20) that only one tribe remained to Rehoboam. Benjamin was sometimes reckoned with Judah, but Bethel, the rival sanctuary, was in its territory.

1 Kings 11:37. Jeroboam is to be king over Israel. Since David, Judah had been reckoned apart (2 Samuel 2:4; 2 Samuel 19:41 ff; 2 Samuel 20:2).

1 Kings 11:41 f. The duration of Solomon's reign is given at the end, and not, as is usual, at the beginning of the account. Forty years is probably an approximate figure, being the same as the reign of David. It is not, however, necessarily so, as the forty years of David are made up of two periods, seven as king of Judah, and thirty-three as ruler over all Israel. Solomon was a mere youth at his succession, so that even forty years would not have brought him to old age at the time of his death.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on 1 Kings 11:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/1-kings-11.html. 1919.

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Tuesday, December 10th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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