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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
1 Kings 2

 

 

Verses 1-46

1 Kings 2:1-46. Death of David; Solomon Established on his Throne.—The main source of this chapter is the same as that of 1, but interspersed are Deuteronomic additions (1 Kings 2:3 f., 1 Kings 2:10-12; 1 Kings 2:27). The authenticity of David's advice to Solomon has been disputed, especially the reasons given for procuring Joab's execution. Judged by any standard it places his character in an unamiable light. Solomon was advised to find a pretext for putting Joab and Shimei to death, and perfidy is inculcated as wisdom (1 Kings 2:6; 1 Kings 2:9). Without attempting to justify its morality, two reasons for it may be suggested. The king may have felt that his son could never have been secure on his throne so long as Joab was alive. No character is more clearly drawn in the Bible than Joab's. His fidelity to David was as undoubted as his ruthlessness in removing all who, like Abner (2 Samuel 3:22-27), or Amasa (2 Samuel 20:8 ff.), stood between him and the king. The slaying of Absalom contrary to David's express command (2 Samuel 18:14), and the suppression of Sheba's revolt (2 Samuel 20), prove that he was more alive to his master's interests than the king himself; and his treacherous character was notorious in Israel (2 Samuel 18:11-13). If he were allowed by Solomon to intrigue with impunity for Adonijah the young king's reign would have been brief. But there may have been a deeper reason, that urged by David (1 Kings 2:5), which we may accept. Joab, in slaying Abner and Amasa, had brought blood-guiltiness upon the house of David. In this case David would be swayed by the same motive as prompted the slaying of Saul's seven sons to relieve his land from blood-guiltiness (2 Samuel 21).

The sons of Barzillai (1 Kings 2:7) were commended to Solomon's care (2 Samuel 17:27 ff; 2 Samuel 19:31 ff.). Another enemy to be destroyed was Shimei (2 Samuel 16:5; 2 Samuel 19:18 ff.). Here again was David's advice prompted by policy or superstition? Shimei belonged to Saul's family, and may well have had influence to exert against David's successor. But David may also have dreaded the effect of the curse Shimei had pronounced on his family (see 1 Kings 2:44 f.).

In order to understand the request of Adonijah and the conduct of Solomon it must be borne in mind that the wives of the deceased king passed to his successor. When, therefore, Abner had relations with Rizpah, Saul's concubine, Ishbosheth instantly suspected him of treason (2 Samuel 3:7*). In the same way Ahithophel advised Absalom to take David's concubines publicly in order to convince the people that he laid claim to his father's throne (2 Samuel 16:21). Adonijah asks Bath-sheba to assist him in obtaining Abishag, and appeals to her pity and good nature. As the eldest son he had a right to the throne, but he has lost that. May not he have the beautiful Abishag? As queen-mother Bathsheba enjoys a far more honourable position than as wife of the king (cf. 1 Kings 2:19 with 1 Kings 1:15 f.). Solomon recognised behind her request the existence of a widespread conspiracy. Benaiah was at once ordered to slay Adonijah (1 Kings 2:24). Abiathar the priest, as the companion of David, was treated with comparative leniency, Solomon allowed him to retire to his estate at Anathoth (p. 31), a village two and a half miles NE. of Jerusalem. It was a priestly town in the days of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:1; Jeremiah 32:7; see also Joshua 21:18, 1 Chronicles 6:60). Why Zadok was associated with Abiathar in the priesthood does not transpire. The writer's object is to show how the priesthood passed out of the line of Eli (1 Kings 2:27; see 1 Samuel 2:27-36). The view that Abiathar and the house of Eli were representatives of Ithamar, the younger son of Aaron, while Zadok was descended from Eleazar, cannot be substantiated (1 Chronicles 6:53). Zadok is said to have been made priest (1 Kings 2:35) in the room of Abiathar, as if the latter, though it is otherwise implied elsewhere (2 Samuel 8:17; 2 Samuel 20:24), were the superior (1 Kings 2:35). Joab evidently was conscious of guilt, and escaped to the Tent sanctuary in Jerusalem (1 Kings 1:33*). The altar of Yahweh with the Hebrews, as with other nations, was a place of refuge (for "horns" see Exodus 27:2).

Solomon had respected it in the case of Adonijah (1 Kings 1:50): but Joab, having been guilty of wilful murder in the cases of Abner and Amasa, was actually slain at the altar itself, and not taken from it to his death (Exodus 21:14). In 1 Kings 2:33 Solomon accepts the view suggested in 1 Kings 2:5 that the death of Joab was necessary to remove from David's house any trace of guilt in respect to the death of Abner and Amasa. The fate of Shimei is next related (1 Kings 2:36-46). He was warned that if he passed the Kidron he would die. Strangely, he did not violate the letter of the command in going to Gath. Nevertheless he was slain, and with his death the kingdom was said to have been "established in the hand of Solomon."

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on 1 Kings 2:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/1-kings-2.html. 1919.

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