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This chapter relates the false steps Solomon took, notwithstanding all his wisdom, in marrying strange wives, and worshipping other gods, ( <111101> Kings 11:1-8) upon which the Lord threatens him to rend the kingdom in his son’s time, ( 1 Kings 11:9-13) and he raised up adversaries against him, Hadad, Rezon, and Jeroboam, ( 1 Kings 11:14-26) of which last an account is given, and of his being assured by Ahijah the prophet of his having ten of the tribes of Israel given to him; which Solomon having notice of sought to slay him, ( 1 Kings 11:27-40) and the chapter is concluded with an account of Solomon’s death and burial, ( 1 Kings 11:41-43).
Ver. 1 . But King Solomon loved many strange women , etc.] His love was a lustful and not a lawful one, and of women who were not only of foreign countries, but not his lawful wives, and these many: together with the daughter of Pharaoh ; besides her, or as he loved her, and perhaps more; his sin was not that he loved her who was his lawful wife, but others with her; it is very probable she was a proselytess, and had no hand in turning him to idolatry, since we read not of any high place built for an Egyptian idol: women of the Moabites, Anmonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites ; all of the neighbouring nations. Some think he did this with political views, to get intelligence of the state of those countries, or to abate and extinguish their enmity; but it rather seems to be the fruit of lust or pride.
Ver. 2 . Of the nations concerning which the Lord said unto the children of Israel, ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you , etc.] That is, they should not intermarry with one another; this is to be understood of the last mentioned, the Hittites, who were one of the seven nations this law respected, ( Deuteronomy 7:1,3) for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods ; which is the reason given for the making the above law, and was sadly verified in Solomon: Solomon clave unto these in love ; he not only took them, but kept them, and expressed a strong affection for them.
Ver. 3 . And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines , etc.] In all 1000, a prodigious number; though these might not be all for use, but for state after the manner of the eastern monarchs; these were a far greater number than are alluded to in ( Song of Solomon 6:8), unless the virgins without number there, were such of these as were not defiled by him; but the number here seems plainly referred to in ( Ecclesiastes 7:28), and his wives turned away his heart ; both from his duty to his God, and from attendance to his business as a king, especially the former, as follows.
Ver. 4 . And it came to pass, when Solomon was old , etc.] Toward the latter end of his reign, when he might be near sixty years of age; for Rehoboam his son and successor was forty one when he began to reign, ( 1 Kings 14:21) which is observed either as an aggravation of the sin of Solomon, that in his old age, when by long experience he might have been thought to be still wiser, and less lustful: and yet that his wives turned away his heart after other gods ; or as pointing at the advantage his wives took of his age: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father ; who, though guilty of many sins, never inclined to idolatry; his heart was always right in that point, and sincere in his worship, (see Psalm 18:20-24).
Ver. 5 . And Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians , etc.] Enticed by the Zidonian women, or woman, he had, ( 1 Kings 11:1). According to the Phoenician histories f285 , Solomon married a daughter of Hiram, king of Tyre and Zidon; so Clemens of Alexandria says f286 , that Hiram gave his daughter to Solomon; Ashtoreth is Astarte, the same with the Venus of the Greeks, so Suidas f287 ; and Lucian expressly says, the Sidonians had a temple, said by them to belong to Astarte, which he takes to be the moon; and both Venus and Juno signify the same planet; (see Gill on “ Judges 2:13”) and after Milcom the abomination of the Amnonites ; the same with Molech, ( 1 Kings 11:7). (See Gill on “ Leviticus 18:21”). (See Gill on “ Amos 1:13”). After this he was drawn by his Ammonitish wife, or wives, ( 1 Kings 11:1), though the Jewish writers think he did not worship these idols, but suffered his wives to do it, and connived at it, which was his sin; so Ben Gersom and Abarbinel.
Ver. 6 . And Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord , etc.] As idolatry is, nothing more provoking to him: and went not fully after the Lord, as did David his father ; for though he did not relinquish the worship of the true God, and the service of the temple, yet inasmuch as he worshipped other gods besides, or connived at the worship of them, he did not wholly, and constantly, and solely serve the Lord, as his father did.
Ver. 7 Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Mesh , etc.] Of this idol, (see Gill on “ Jeremiah 48:7”), an high place for which he ordered to be built, or at least suffered it to be built, at the instigation of his Moabitish woman or women, ( 1 Kings 11:1), this was built in the hill that is before Jerusalem; on the mount of Olives, as Jarchi, called from hence afterwards the mount of corruption, ( 2 Kings 23:15) and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon, ( 1 Kings 11:5).
Ver. 8 . And likewise did he for all his strange wives , etc.] That is, built high places for their idols, or suffered them to be built; for when he had done it for one, he could not refuse it to another, without greatly disobliging them; even for as many of them, which burnt incense, and sacrificed unto their gods ; the gods of the countries from whence they came, and in the worship of which they had been brought up: this shows that the best and wisest of men, when left to themselves, may do the worst and most foolish of all things; as nothing can be more so than the worship of such wretched deities.
Ver. 9 . And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel , etc.] Or from the fear of him, as the Targum, which must in a great measure be cast off, or he could not have given in to idolatry in any shape as he did; for it was for that the Lord was displeased, the which nothing is more provoking to him, as may be often observed: which had appeared unto him twice ; once at Gibeon, and again after his prayer at the dedication of the temple, ( 1 Kings 3:5 9:2), which is mentioned here as an aggravation of his sin, that he should fall into it, when the Lord had condescended to appear to him so graciously.
Ver. 10 . And had commanded him concerning this thing that he should not go after other gods , etc.] Which is another aggravation of his sin that it was against an express command of God, and was particularly given him, and he was warned to observe it, and threatened with evil should he break it: but he kept not that which the Lord commanded : (see 1 Kings 9:5-7).
Ver. 11 . Wherefore the Lord said unto Solomon , etc.] Not in a vision, as before, but by a prophet; the Jews say f289 , Ahijah the Shilonite, which is probable, (see 1 Kings 11:29) forasmuch as this is done of thee, that thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes which I have commanded thee ; but broke them by his idolatry: I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and I will give it to thy servant ; meaning Jeroboam, who was not only a subject, but in office under him, ( 1 Kings 11:26,28).
Ver. 12 . Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy father’s sake , etc.] Not for the merits of David, but the promises made to him, ( 2 Samuel 7:12,13), but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son ; and immediate successor, Rehoboam.
Ver. 13 . Howbeit, I will not rend away all the kingdom , etc.] The whole kingdom of Israel: but will give one tribe to thy son ; but it seems he had both Benjamin and Judah, and only ten tribes were rent from him; the reason of this mode of expression may be, either because he gave him one of the tribes of Israel, besides that of Judah, which was his own tribe; or only the tribe of Judah is meant, the whole tribe of Benjamin not being his, since Bethel, and some other places in that tribe, were in the possession of Jeroboam; or rather both these are called but one, because their inheritances lay together, and were mixed with one another; and particularly both had a share in the city of Jerusalem, and the kingdom always after the division went by the name of Judah only: and this tribe was given for David my servant’s sake ; because of the promise to him, that there should not want one of his seed to sit on his throne, ( 1 Kings 9:5) and for Jerusalem’s sake, whom I have chosen ; to have the house of his sanctuary and worship in, and therefore thought fit to have one rule there, that, would have a regard to his service in it.
Ver. 14 . And the Lord stirred up an adversary unto Solomon, Hadad the Edomite , etc.] Though he did not take his kingdom from him for his sin, he chastised him with the rod of men, as he said he would; suffering one, and then another, to rise up and disturb his peace in his old age, (see Samuel 7:14) he was of the king’s seed in Edom ; of the blood royal.
Ver. 15 . For it came to pass, when David was in Edom , etc.] Fighting with the Edomites, and subduing them, and putting garrisons in the land, ( Samuel 8:14) and Joab the captain of the host was gone up to bury the slain : the Israelites that fell in battle, or whom the Edomites afterwards, through stratagem and surprise, fell upon in their garrisons and destroyed, and which caused Joab to go thither to bury them, and take vengeance on the Edomites for it; or these were the Edomites slain by David and Joab; and it has been always reckoned a piece of humanity to bury the dead of an enemy, and is to the honour of the conqueror, (see Ezekiel 39:12,13) or to suffer the enemy to bury them themselves: it is said f290 , that Hercules was the first that brought up this practice, and that before they were left on the field, to be devoured by dogs; so they were in the times of the Trojan war, as appears by the writings of Homer; but burying them, in later times, was used by the Romans and Greeks; and Josephus delivers it as a law of Moses to bury enemies, and not suffer any dead to lie without partaking of the earth, nor to pass by or overlook any unburied; but from whence he took it, or grounds it upon, is not very evident; this is the first mention of it; though the Targum is, “to strip the slain:” after he had smitten every male in Edom ; as he thought, intending to root out the name of them; being enraged at their falling upon the garrisons, if that was the case.
Ver. 16 . For six months did Joab remain with all Israel , etc.] With the whole army: until he had cut off every male in Edom ; as he supposed; for it was not fact, since after this they increased again, and became a powerful people, and had a king over them, and revolted from Judah, ( 2 Kings 8:20-22).
Ver. 17 . That Hadad fled , etc.] While Joab was burying the slain: he and certain Edomites of his father’s servants with him ; who either was a king, and these some of his officers and courtiers; or however was of the royal family, and had an equipage, and these some of them: to go into Egypt ; that was their view at first setting out, where they might hope for help, at least shelter: Hadad being yet a little child ; whom his father’s servants hid, while Joab was making the slaughter he did, and took the opportunity of fleeing with him while he was burying the dead.
Ver. 18 . And they arose out of Midian , etc.] A country which lay in their way to Egypt, and where it seems they made some stay, and then departed: and came to Paran ; near to which was a wilderness of the same name, in which the Israelites wandered when they came out of Egypt, and which lay between Edom and Egypt: and they took men with them out of Paran ; either as guides and guards through the wilderness, or to make the better appearance before Pharaoh, and that they might meet with the better reception: and they came to Egypt, unto Pharaoh king of Egypt ; and told their case, and informed him who Hadad was: who, pitying an unfortunate young prince, gave him an house ; for him and his servants to dwell in: and appointed him victuals ; a daily provision for him and his men: and gave him land ; for his servants to cultivate, and from thence to raise a revenue for his support; the Jewish writers say he gave him cities to rule over; but as he was but a little child when he came, it cannot be thought that was done, at least directly.
Ver. 19 . And Hadad found great favour in the sight of Pharaoh , etc.] Perhaps for his comely personage, princely qualities, and good behaviour, as he grew up: so that he gave him to wife the sister of his own wife, the sister of Tahpenes the queen ; it seems the kings of Egypt used to marry their favourites to great personages; (see Genesis 41:45).
Ver. 20 . And the sister of Tahpenes bore him Genubath his son , etc.] Which signifies “stealth”, and the name might be given in memory of himself being carried away by stealth from his own land: whom Tahpenes weaned in Pharaoh’s house : who was so fond of the child, that she took it, and weaned it for her in the king’s palace: and Genubath was in Pharaoh’s household among the sons of Pharaoh ; brought up among them, as if he was one of them.
Ver. 21 . And when Hadad heard in Egypt that David slept with his fathers , etc.] Was dead and buried, as the death of princes is soon known in other countries, and especially a king of such fame as David: and that Joab the captain of the host was dead : whose name might be terrible to Hadad, because of the slaughter of men he had made in his country: Hadad said unto Pharaoh, let me depart, that I may go to mine own country ; with a view and an hope to recover it, now David and Joab were dead.
Ver. 22 . Then Pharaoh said unto him, but what hast thou lacked with me , etc.] Either of an equipage suitable to his birth and marriage, or of provisions for his household, or of honour and respect, or of any favour from him: that, behold, thou seekest to go into thine own country ? as if not well used where he was, or would be better provided for there: and he answered, nothing ; he wanted nothing at all, had all he could wish for: howbeit, let me go in any wise : he had such an extreme desire to go, that he begged it might not be denied him on any account; whether he acquainted Pharaoh with his view in this request is not said, but it is probable he did, and it is certain Pharaoh gave him leave to go, (see Kings 11:25).
Ver. 23 . And God stirred him up another adversary , etc.] One from the north, as the other was from the south: Rezon, the son of Eliadah, which fled from his lord Hadadezer king of Zobah : when David fought with him; and this man seeing the battle go against his master, and that he was like to be worsted, deserted him and fled, (see 2 Samuel 8:3).
Ver. 24 . And he gathered men unto him , etc.] Perhaps some of the scattered forces of his master: and became captain over a band, when David slew them of Zobah ; some that escaped enlisted under this man, and lived by plunder the remainder of David’s reign, and so in the reign of Solomon unto his old age, when his heart was turned away from God to idols, by his wives: and they went to Damascus, and dwelt therein, and reigned in Damascus ; Rezon and his men went thither, not in David’s time, for he put a garrison there, ( 2 Samuel 8:6) but towards the close of Solomon’s days, and when Hadad set up in Edom, which gave him the hint to do the same at Damascus, of which he became king, and was the founder of that kingdom; after him there was a long race of kings there.
Ver. 25 . And he was an adversary to Israel all the days of Solomon , etc.] Not all the days of his life, (see 1 Kings 5:4), but all his days, from his first going into idolatry, to the end of his life: beside the mischief that Hadad did ; and which, whatever it was, was not done till this time; for either, when he got leave from Pharaoh to go into his country, he lay hid there, waiting an opportunity to seize upon it; or by means of Pharaoh he got himself to be king of it, through the permission of Solomon, paying a tribute to him; but when Solomon was grown old, he revolted and refused to pay it, and rebelled against him, and gave him much trouble: and he abhorred Israel, and reigned over Syria ; not Hadad, but Rezon; he had an aversion to them, was a thorn in their side, and gave them much trouble, as well as had them in contempt, and bid them defiance, having made himself not only master of Damascus, but of all Syria.
Ver. 26 . And Jeroboam the son of Nebat , etc.] According to some Jewish writers f293 , this was Sheba the son of Bichri; but, as Kimchi observes, he was of the tribe of Benjamin, this of Ephraim; and besides, his head was cut off, and thrown over the wall to Joab, ( 2 Samuel 20:1,22), an Ephrathite of Zereda ; some where in the tribe of Ephraim, but nowhere else mentioned. There was a famous Jewish doctor, before the times of Christ, of this place, as it seems, who was called Jose ben Joezer, a man of Zereda f294 : Solomon’s servant ; not only his subject, but one that had been advanced by him to an office, and served under him, ( 1 Kings 11:28), whose mother’s name was Zeruah, a widow woman ; who very probably was supported by this her son, an industrious and ingenious man: even he lifted up his hand against the king ; either against Solomon, by reproaching and reproving him for some things he did; or rather against Rehoboam his son, which was very ungrateful.
Ver. 27 . And this was the cause that he lifted up his hand against the king , etc.] The occasion of it, his being advanced to some posts under Solomon, which elated him, and what passed between him and the prophet Ahijah, after related: Solomon built Millo, and repaired the breaches of the city of David his father : in the oversight of which, it is supposed by the Jews, he employed this man, who reproached him for doing these works; building an house in Millo for Pharaoh’s daughter, and stopping up the passage to the city of David, and the people’s access thither upon occasion.
Ver. 28 . And the man Jeroboam was a mighty man of valour , etc.] A man of great strength of body, and fortitude of mind: and Solomon seeing the young man that he was industrious ; in what he was set about in the above buildings and repairs: he made him ruler over all the charge of the house of Joseph ; the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, to be a prince or a deputy governor of them; or rather to collect the king’s tax from them, or the revenues of that part of the country, (see Proverbs 22:29).
Ver. 29 . And it came to pass at that time, when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem , etc.] Either to enter upon his new office: or having been with Solomon to pay in the revenues, and to make up his accounts with him was going back to the country to do the duty of his office: that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him in the way ; not accidentally, but purposely was in the way to meet him, and converse with him; this prophet was of the city of Shiloh, and where was now his abode, (see 1 Kings 14:2) and he had clad himself with a new garment ; not Jeroboam, but the prophet, and that by the direction of the Lord, for the following purpose: and they two were alone in the field : it is possible Jeroboam might have some servants with him; but Ahijah desiring some private conversation with him, he sent them onwards, or bid them stay at some distance; who yet might be capable of observing what was done, though not of hearing what was said; or otherwise how should Solomon come to the knowledge of it? ( 1 Kings 11:40).
Ver. 30 . And Ahijah caught the new garment that was on him , etc.] This looks as if it was Jeroboam’s garment, having got a new one to appear before the king in; though the sense may be this, that the prophet took hold of his own garment that was upon himself: and rent it in twelve pieces ; as symbolical of the twelve tribes of Israel.
Ver. 31 . And he said to Jeroboam, take thee ten pieces , etc.] Of the twelve, an emblem of the ten tribes he was to have: for thus saith the Lord God of Israel, behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon ; that is, out of his family: and will give ten tribes unto thee ; to rule over.
Ver. 32 . But he shall have one tribe for my servant David’s sake , etc.] (See Gill on “ 1 Kings 11:13”). Ver. 33 . Because that they have forsaken me , etc.] My worship, as the Targum; both Solomon and the children of Israel following his example; which is not to be wondered at, considering how prone they always were to idolatry: and have worshipped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Milcom the god of the children of Ammon ; of which deities, (see Gill on “ 1 Kings 11:5, 7”). and have not walked in my ways, to do that which is right in mine eyes, and to keep my statutes and my judgments, as [did] David his father ; the several laws of God relating to religious worship especially, which David was a strict observer of; and therefore Solomon, having such a pattern before him, was the more blameworthy.
Ver. 34 . Howbeit, I will not take the kingdom out of his hand , etc.] Not any part of it, ( 1 Kings 11:12), but I will make him prince all the days of his life ; that is, he shall continue to hold the government of all the tribes so long as he lives: for David my servant’s sake, whom I chose, because he kept my commandments and my statutes ; (see 1 Kings 11:12), or was well pleased with, as the Targum; for keeping the commands of God from right principles, and with right views, is well pleasing to him.
Ver. 35 . But I will take the kingdom out of his son’s hand , etc.] All but the tribes of Judah and Benjamin: and will give it unto thee, even ten tribes : signified by ten pieces of the rent garment he had given him, ( 1 Kings 11:31).
Ver. 36 . And unto his son will I give one tribe , etc.] Judah and Benjamin reckoned as one; (see Gill on “ 1 Kings 11:13”), that David my servant may have a light always before me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen me to put my name there; or a kingdom, as the Targum; or an illustrious prince, a successor, shining in royal majesty and glory, to guide and direct, cheer and comfort, the people of Israel; be an honour to David’s family, and a means of continuing the pure worship of God in the temple at Jerusalem; (see 2 Samuel 21:17 <19D217> Psalm 132:17).
Ver. 37 . And I will take thee , etc.] From the low estate in which he was, to be king: and thou shall reign according to all that thy soul desireth ; he being ambitious of the kingdom, and having already formed in his mind some designs upon it: and shall be king over Israel ; the ten tribes.
Ver. 38 . And it shall be, if thou wilt hearken unto all that I command thee , etc.] And be obedient thereunto: and wilt walk in my ways ; directed to in the law of Moses: and do that is right in my sight, to keep my statutes, and my commandments ; those particularly respecting divine worship: as David my servant did ; who very diligently and constantly attended to the ordinances of religion: that I will be with thee ; to guide and direct, protect and defend, prosper and succeed: and build thee a sure house, as I built for David ; continue the succession of the kingdom in his posterity: and will give Israel unto thee; to rule over them .
Ver. 39 . And I will for this afflict the seed of David , etc.] For the idolatry Solomon had been guilty of, and connived at: but not for ever ; for when the ten tribes were carried captive, the kingdom of Judah flourished under Hezekiah, Josiah, etc. and though the tribe of Judah was carried captive, yet it returned after seventy years captivity, and had rulers over it of the seed of David; and especially to the Messiah has God given the throne of his father David, of whose kingdom there will he no end, ( Luke 1:32,33), and Jarchi’s note on the text is, “for in the days of the Messiah the kingdom shall return to it,” the seed of David; and Abarbinel says, of a truth, at the coming of our Messiah, this prophecy will be fulfilled; but the true Messiah is come already, in whom it is fulfilled; see Kimchi and Abendana, who refer to ( Ezekiel 37:19,24).
Ver. 40 . Solomon sought therefore to kill Jeroboam , etc.] Which is another instance of his folly, to seek to detest the counsel of God, when he himself was assured by the Lord the kingdom should be rent, and given to his servant, ( 1 Kings 11:11) and especially if he was informed of what passed between Ahijah and Jeroboam, as it should seem by this he was; either through Ahijah’s making no secret of it, or through Jeroboam not being able to keep his own counsel, or through the report of the servants what they saw done, ( 1 Kings 11:29), which Solomon would easily understand: and Jeroboam arose and fled into Egypt ; the common sanctuary of persons in distress in those days: unto Shishak king of Egypt ; either the father in law or the brother in law of Solomon, or one of another family, on whom the kingdom devolved; and who might not have any good respect for Solomon, and therefore Jeroboam thought himself safe with him: this is the only king of Egypt, in Scripture, that is called by his own name, and not Pharaoh; he is generally supposed to be the same with the Sesostris of Herodotus f295 , and the Vexoris or Vexosis of Justin f296 ; and the rather he may be meant, since, according to Herodotus f297 , he was the only king of Egypt that ruled over the Ethiopians: and Strabo says he was the first that subdued Ethiopia and the country of the Troglodytes; also Diodorus Siculus affirms f299 , that he fought with the Ethiopians dwelling to the south, and obliged them to pay tribute; out of which countries Shishak brought many with him in his expedition against Jerusalem, ( 2 Chronicles 12:2,3) and was in Egypt until the death of Solomon ; not daring to return till that time, and then he did.
Ver. 41 . And the rest of the acts of Solomon, and all that he did, and his wisdom, are they not written in the book of the acts of Solomon ?] Either written by himself, as Kimchi suggests, though not in being; or by some chronologer or historiographer employed by him in writing the most memorable things that happened in his reign; or by several prophets, as in ( 2 Chronicles 9:29) out of which the inspired writer of this book took what he was directed to by the Lord to be transmitted to future ages.
Ver. 42 . And the time that Solomon reigned in Jerusalem, over all Israel, was forty years .] The same says Eupolemus f300 , an Heathen writer, who makes him to live but fifty two years; which is the common tradition of the Jews, who suppose he was but twelve years of age when he began to reign; which is to be confuted from the age of his son Rehoboam, (see 1 Kings 14:21). Josephus f301 , on the other hand, makes him to live to too great an age, who says that he reigned eighty years, and lived to ninety four.
Ver. 43 . And Solomon slept with his fathers , etc.] Died as they did: and was buried in the city of David his father ; not in Bethlehem, but Zion, ( 1 Kings 2:10) and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead ; of whom more in the following chapter. Though nothing is said of Solomon’s repentance, there is no doubt but he was a good man, repented of his sins, and was saved; as may be concluded from the commendations of him after his death, ( Chronicles 11:17) from the promise of God that he made, that his mercy should not depart from him, though he chastised him, ( 2 Samuel 7:14,15) from his being an inspired writer, who were all holy men, ( Peter 1:20), and especially from his writing the book of Ecclesiastes after his fall, which contains a full acknowledgment of all his evils, a recantation of them, and repentance for them. Abulpharagius f302 , an Arabic writer, rashly asserts that he died without repentance.