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Adam Clarke Commentary

1 Kings 2

Introduction

David leaves his dying charge with Solomon, relative to his own personal conduct, 1 Kings 2:1 -4; to Joab, 1 Kings 2:5 , 1 Kings 2:6 ; to Barzillai, 1 Kings 2:7 ; to Shimei, 1 Kings 2:8 , 1 Kings 2:9 . He dies, and Solomon is established in the kingdom, 1 Kings 2:10 -12. Adonijah requests to have Abishag to wife, and is put to death by Solomon, 1 Kings 2:13 -25. Abiathar the priest is banished to his estate at Anathoth, 1 Kings 2:26 , 1 Kings 2:27 . Joab, fearing for his life, flees to the horns of the altar, and is slain there by Benaiah, 1 Kings 2:28 -34. Benaiah is made captain of the host in his stead, 1 Kings 2:35 . Shimei is ordered to confine himself to Jerusalem, and never leave it on pain of death, 1 Kings 2:36 -38. After three years he follows some of his runaway servants to Gath, and thereby forfeits his life, 1 Kings 2:39 , 1 Kings 2:40 . Solomon sends for him, upbraids him, and commands him to be slain by Benaiah, 1 Kings 2:41 -46.

Verse 2

I go the way of all the earth - I am dying. All the inhabitants of the earth must come to the dust. In life, some follow one occupation, some another; but all must, sooner or later, come to the grave. Death is no respecter of persons; he visits the palace of the king as well as the cottage of the peasant.Pallida mors aequo pulsat pede pauperum tabernas,Regumque turres. - Hor. Odar. lib. i., od. iv., ver. 13.Knocks at the palace as the cottage gate."Francis.Et calcanda semel via lethi. - Ib. od. xxviii., ver. 15.And once we all must tread the shadowy plains."Ibid.There is no respect to age or youth more than to station or external circumstance: - Mixta senum ac juvenum densantur funera: nullumSaeva caput Proserpina fugit.Ib. od. xxviii., ver. 19.Thus age and youth promiscuous crowd the tomb;No mortal head can shun the impending doom."Ibid.And it is not merely man that is subjected to this necessity; all that have in them the breath of life must lose it; it is the way of all the earth, both of men and inferior animals.neque ulla est Aut parvo aut magno lethi fuga.Vive memor quam sis aevi brevis.Hor. Sat. l. ii., s. vi., ver. 93.neither great nor small can avoid death.Live therefore conscious that your time is short."It is painful to the pride of the great and mighty that, however decorated their tombs may be, they must undergo the same dissolution and corruption with the vulgar dead; for the grave is the house appointed for all living: man is born to die.Omnium idem exitus est, sed et idem domicilium.Here emperors, kings, statesmen, warriors, heroes, and butchers of all kinds, with peasants and beggars, meet; however various their routes, they terminate in the same point. This and all other kindred sentiments on the subject are well expressed in that excellent little poem of Mr. Blair, entitled "The Grave," which opens with the following lines: - While some affect the sun, and some the shade; Some flee the city, some the hermitage; Their aims as various as the roads they take In journeying through life; the task be mine To paint the gloomy horrors of the tomb, The appointed place of rendezvous, where all These travelers meet.Show thyself a man - Act like a rational being, and not like a brute; and remember, that he acts most like a man who is most devoted to his Good.

Verse 3

Keep the charge of the Lord - Keep what God has given thee to keep.1. Walk in his ways. Not in thine own, nor in the ways of a wicked, perishing world.2. Keep his statutes. Consider all his appointments to be holy, just, and good; receive them as such, and conscientiously observe them.3. Keep his commandments. Whatever he has bidden thee to do, perform; what he has forbidden thee to do, omit.4. Keep his judgments. What he has determined to be right, is essentially and inherently right; what he has determined to be wrong or evil, is inherently and essentially so. A thing is not good because God has commanded it; a thing is not evil because he has forbidden it. He has commanded the good, because it is in its own nature good and useful; he has forbidden the evil, because it is in its own nature bad and hurtful. Keep therefore his judgments.5. Keep his testimonies. Bear witness to all to which he has borne witness. His testimonies are true; there is no deceit or falsity in them. His testimonies refer also to future good things and good times; they are the significators of coming blessedness: as such, respect them.That thou mayest prosper - If thou hast God's approbation, thou wilt have God's blessing. If thy ways please him, he will not withhold from thee any manner of thing that is good.

Verse 4

That the Lord may continue his word - The prosperity which God has promised to grant to my family will depend on their faithfulness to the good they receive; if they live to God, they shall sit for ever on the throne of Israel. But alas! they did not; and God's justice cut off the entail made by his mercy.

Verse 5

Thou knowest - what Joab - did to me - He did every thing bad and dishonorable in itself, in the murder of Abner and Amasa, and indeed in the death of the profligate Absalom.Shed the blood of war - upon his girdle - and in his shoes - He stabbed them while he pretended to embrace them, so that their blood gushed out on his girdle, and fell into his shoes! This was a most abominable aggravation of his crimes.

Verse 6

Let not his hoar head go down to the grave in peace - It would have been an insult to justice not to have taken the life of Joab. David was culpable in delaying it so long; but probably the circumstances of his government would not admit of his doing it sooner. According to the law of God, Joab, having murdered Abner and Amasa, should die. And had not David commanded Solomon to perform this act of justice, he could not have died in the approbation of his Maker.

Verse 7

But show kindness unto the sons of Barzillai - See the notes on 2 Samuel 19:31 (note, etc.

Verse 8

Thou hast with thee Shimei - See on 2 Samuel 16:5 (note, etc., and the notes on 2 Samuel 19:18 -23 (note.

Verse 9

Hold him not guiltless - Do not consider him as an innocent man, though I have sworn to him that I would not put him to death by the sword; yet as thou art a wise man, and knowest how to treat such persons, treat him as he deserves; only as I have sworn to him, and he is an aged man, let him not die a violent death; bring not down his hoary head to the grave with blood. So Solomon understood David, and so I think David should be understood; for the negative particle לא lo, in the former clause, hold him Not guiltless, should be repeated in this latter clause, though not expressed, his hoary head bring thou Not down; instances of which frequently occur in the Hebrew Bible. See Dr. Kennicott's note at the end of this chapter, 1 Kings 2:46 (note.

Verse 10

David slept with his fathers - His life was a life of remarkable providences, of much piety, and of great public usefulness. In general he lived well, and it is most evident that he died well; and as a king, a general, a poet, a father, and a friend, he has had few equals, and no superior, from his own time to the present day. But I shall reserve a more particular consideration of his character till I come to the book of Psalms, in which that character, with all its lights and shades, is exhibited by his own masterly hand. And it is from this composition alone that we can know David, and the maxims by which he was governed in public and private life.Was buried in the city of David - And Solomon, says Josephus, deposited immense treasures with him, in the grave, where they continued unmolested for thirteen hundred years, till Hyrcanus, the high priest, being besieged by Antiochus, opened the sepulcher, and took thence three thousand talents, part of which he gave to Antiochus, to raise the siege. It is added that, many years afterwards, Herod the Great ransacked this tomb and got considerable riches. Little credit is due to this account, though we know that was customary in ancient times to deposit with the more illustrious dead, gold, silver, and precious stones. That the tomb of David existed in the days of the apostles, we learn from Acts 2:29 , where St. Peter, addressing the Jews, says, Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David; that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us unto this day. St. Jerome speaks of it as existing in his time, and modern travelers pretend that it is still in existence. But both monks and Mohammedans have long united to impose on Christian pilgrims; and there is scarcely any dependence to be placed on any of their relations; absurdity and self-contradiction are their principal characteristics.

Verse 15

Thou knowest that the kingdom was mine - It certainly was his by the right of primogeniture, and it was his by the voice of the people, and the consent of the high priest. But there was a right paramount to all these, the right of God; it was his kingdom; the kings were his lieutenants, and he had a right to give the crown to whomsoever he pleased, and he was pleased to give it to Solomon.

Verse 17

That he give me Abishag - to wife - He cheerfully gives up all right to the kingdom, and only desires to have this young woman, who, though she had been his father's wife or concubine, was still in a state of virginity. Some think that Joab and Abiathar had advised Adonijah to make this application, not doubting, if he got Abishag, that the popular tide would again turn in his favor, and that Solomon, whom they did not like, might soon be deposed; and that it was on this account that Solomon was so severe. But there is little evidence to support these conjectures. It does not appear that Adonijah by desiring to have Abishag had any thought of the kingdom, or of maintaining any right to it, though Solomon appears to have understood him in this sense. But without farther evidence, this was a flimsy pretext to imbrue his hands in a brother's blood. The fable of the wolf and lamb is here very applicable, and the old English proverb not less so: It is an easy thing to find a staff to beat a dog with. We readily find an excuse for whatever we are determined to do. He who attempts to varnish over this conduct of Solomon by either state necessity or a Divine command, is an enemy, in my mind, to the cause of God and truth. See on 1 Kings 2:25 (note.

Verse 25

Solomon sent - Benaiah - and he fell upon him that he died. - Benaiah seems to have been the public state executioner, and yet he was generalissimo of all the forces. See him employed in a similar work, 1 Kings 2:34 (note, 1 Kings 2:46 (note. I suppose him to have been such another general as Suwarrow, butcher-general of the Turks and Poles to the late Empress Catharine of Russia: like mistress, like man. But they have long since been called to an impartial tribunal.That this was an act of cruelty towards Adonijah, needs no proof. He is suspected, condemned, and slain, without a hearing. Calmet vindicates all this by various assumptions, and lays down a doctrine that is calculated for the meridian of Fez or Morocco; hear him: Un prince, dans ses jugemens, ne peut pas toujours suivre les regles de la plus parfaite morale; la politique, et le bien de l'etat, obligent souvent a des choses opposees aux conseils de l'evangile; "A prince in his judgments cannot always follow the rules of the most perfect morality; policy and the good of the state often require things to be done which are contrary to the counsels of the Gospel." What a diabolic maxim is this! And is this indeed the way that French kings ruled and ministers decreed judgment? Then we need not wonder at a revolution in that state, nor of the scourge that desolated the land. O England! magnify God for your constitution, your constitutional king, and the laws according to which he reigns.

Verse 27

So Solomon thrust out Abiathar - This was for having taken part before with Adonijah, but by it a remarkable prophecy was fulfilled; see 1 Samuel 2:13-35 (note, and the notes there. God had told Eli that the priesthood should depart from his house; Abiathar was the last of the descendants of Ithamar, of which family was Eli the high priest. Zadok, who was made priest in the stead of Abiathar, was of the family of Eliezer; and by this change the priesthood reverted to its ancient channel. Abiathar deserved this degradation; he supported Adonijah in his unnatural assumption of the royal dignity, even during the life of his father. This was the head and front of his offending.

Verse 28

Tidings came to Joab - He heard that Adonijah had been slain and Abiathar banished, and probably he had heard of David's dying charge to Solomon. Fearing therefore for his personal safety, he takes refuge at the tabernacle, as claiming Divine protection, and desiring to have his case decided by God alone; or perhaps a spark of remorse is now kindled; and, knowing that he must die, he wishes to die in the house of God, as it were under the shadow, that he might receive the mercy of the Almighty.

Verse 30

Nay; but I will die here - The altars were so sacred among all the people, that, in general, even the vilest wretch found safety, if he once reached the altar. This led to many abuses, and the perversion of public justice; and at last it became a maxim that the guilty should be punished, should they even have taken refuge at the altars. God decreed that the presumptuous murderer who had taken refuge at the altar should be dragged thence, and put to death; see Exodus 21:14 . The heathens had the same kind of ordinance; hence Euripides: - Euripid. Frag. 42. Edit. Musg.

Verse 34

So Benaiah - went up - and slew him - It appears he slew him at the very altar. Joab must have been both old and infirm at this time, and now he bleeds for Abner, he bleeds for Amasa, and he bleeds for Uriah. The two former he murdered; of the blood of the latter he was not innocent; yet he had done the state much service, and they knew it. But he was a murderer, and vengeance would not suffer such to live.

Verse 36

Build thee a house - Thus he gave him the whole city for a prison, and this certainly could have reduced him to no hardships.

Verse 37

Thy blood shall be upon thine own head - Thou knowest what to expect; if thou disobey my orders thou shalt certainly be slain, and then thou shalt be considered as a self-murderer; thou alone shalt be answerable for thy own death. Solomon knew that Shimei was a seditious man, and he chose to keep him under his own eye; for such a man at large, in favorable circumstances, might do much evil. His bitter revilings of David were a sufficient proof.

Verse 40

And Shimei - went to Gath - It is astonishing that with his eyes wide open he would thus run into the jaws of death.

Verse 45

King Solomon shall be blessed - He seems to think that, while such bad men remained unpunished, the nation could not prosper; that it was an act of justice which God required him to perform, in order to the establishment and perpetuity of his throne.

Verse 46

And the kingdom was established - He had neither foes within nor without. He was either dreaded or loved universally. His own subjects were affectionately bound to him, and the surrounding nations did not think proper to make him their enemy.As there are serious doubts relative to the dying charge of David as it relates to Shimei, most believing that, in opposition to his own oath, David desired that Solomon should put him to death; I shall here insert Dr. Kennicott's criticism on this part of the text: -

1 Kings 2


  1 Now the days of David drew nigh that he should die; and he charged Solomon his son, saying,
  2 I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man;
  3 And keep the charge of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself:
  4 That the LORD may continue his word which he spake concerning me, saying, If thy children take heed to their way, to walk before me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail thee (said he) a man on the throne of Israel.
  5 Moreover thou knowest also what Joab the son of Zeruiah did to me, and what he did to the two captains of the hosts of Israel, unto Abner the son of Ner, and unto Amasa the son of Jether, whom he slew, and shed the blood of war in peace, and put the blood of war upon his girdle that was about his loins, and in his shoes that were on his feet.
  6 Do therefore according to thy wisdom, and let not his hoar head go down to the grave in peace.
  7 But shew kindness unto the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite, and let them be of those that eat at thy table: for so they came to me when I fled because of Absalom thy brother.
  8 And, behold, thou hast with thee Shimei the son of Gera, a Benjamite of Bahurim, which cursed me with a grievous curse in the day when I went to Mahanaim: but he came down to meet me at Jordan, and I sware to him by the LORD, saying, I will not put thee to death with the sword.
  9 Now therefore hold him not guiltless: for thou art a wise man, and knowest what thou oughtest to do unto him; but his hoar head bring thou down to the grave with blood.
  10 So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David.
  11 And the days that David reigned over Israel were forty years: seven years reigned he in Hebron, and thirty and three years reigned he in Jerusalem.
  12 Then sat Solomon upon the throne of David his father; and his kingdom was established greatly.
  13 And Adonijah the son of Haggith came to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon. And she said, Comest thou peaceably? And he said, Peaceably.
  14 He said moreover, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And she said, Say on.
  15 And he said, Thou knowest that the kingdom was mine, and that all Israel set their faces on me, that I should reign: howbeit the kingdom is turned about, and is become my brother's: for it was his from the LORD.
  16 And now I ask one petition of thee, deny me not. And she said unto him, Say on.
  17 And he said, Speak, I pray thee, unto Solomon the king, (for he will not say thee nay,) that he give me Abishag the Shunammite to wife.
  18 And Bathsheba said, Well; I will speak for thee unto the king.
  19 Bathsheba therefore went unto king Solomon, to speak unto him for Adonijah. And the king rose up to meet her, and bowed himself unto her, and sat down on his throne, and caused a seat to be set for the king's mother; and she sat on his right hand.
  20 Then she said, I desire one small petition of thee; I pray thee, say me not nay. And the king said unto her, Ask on, my mother: for I will not say thee nay.
  21 And she said, Let Abishag the Shunammite be given to Adonijah thy brother to wife.
  22 And king Solomon answered and said unto his mother, And why dost thou ask Abishag the Shunammite for Adonijah? ask for him the kingdom also; for he is mine elder brother; even for him, and for Abiathar the priest, and for Joab the son of Zeruiah.
  23 Then king Solomon sware by the LORD, saying, God do so to me, and more also, if Adonijah have not spoken this word against his own life.
  24 Now therefore, as the LORD liveth, which hath established me, and set me on the throne of David my father, and who hath made me an house, as he promised, Adonijah shall be put to death this day.
  25 And king Solomon sent by the hand of Benaiah the son of Jehoiada; and he fell upon him that he died.
  26 And unto Abiathar the priest said the king, Get thee to Anathoth, unto thine own fields; for thou art worthy of death: but I will not at this time put thee to death, because thou barest the ark of the Lord GOD before David my father, and because thou hast been afflicted in all wherein my father was afflicted.
  27 So Solomon thrust out Abiathar from being priest unto the LORD; that he might fulfil the word of the LORD, which he spake concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh.
  28 Then tidings came to Joab: for Joab had turned after Adonijah, though he turned not after Absalom. And Joab fled unto the tabernacle of the LORD, and caught hold on the horns of the altar.
  29 And it was told king Solomon that Joab was fled unto the tabernacle of the LORD; and, behold, he is by the altar. Then Solomon sent Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, saying, Go, fall upon him.
  30 And Benaiah came to the tabernacle of the LORD, and said unto him, Thus saith the king, Come forth. And he said, Nay; but I will die here. And Benaiah brought the king word again, saying, Thus said Joab, and thus he answered me.
  31 And the king said unto him, Do as he hath said, and fall upon him, and bury him; that thou mayest take away the innocent blood, which Joab shed, from me, and from the house of my father.
  32 And the LORD shall return his blood upon his own head, who fell upon two men more righteous and better than he, and slew them with the sword, my father David not knowing thereof, to wit, Abner the son of Ner, captain of the host of Israel, and Amasa the son of Jether, captain of the host of Judah.
  33 Their blood shall therefore return upon the head of Joab, and upon the head of his seed for ever: but upon David, and upon his seed, and upon his house, and upon his throne, shall there be peace for ever from the LORD.
  34 So Benaiah the son of Jehoiada went up, and fell upon him, and slew him: and he was buried in his own house in the wilderness.
  35 And the king put Benaiah the son of Jehoiada in his room over the host: and Zadok the priest did the king put in the room of Abiathar.
  36 And the king sent and called for Shimei, and said unto him, Build thee an house in Jerusalem, and dwell there, and go not forth thence any whither.
  37 For it shall be, that on the day thou goest out, and passest over the brook Kidron, thou shalt know for certain that thou shalt surely die: thy blood shall be upon thine own head.
  38 And Shimei said unto the king, The saying is good: as my lord the king hath said, so will thy servant do. And Shimei dwelt in Jerusalem many days.
  39 And it came to pass at the end of three years, that two of the servants of Shimei ran away unto Achish son of Maachah king of Gath. And they told Shimei, saying, Behold, thy servants be in Gath.
  40 And Shimei arose, and saddled his ass, and went to Gath to Achish to seek his servants: and Shimei went, and brought his servants from Gath.
  41 And it was told Solomon that Shimei had gone from Jerusalem to Gath, and was come again.
  42 And the king sent and called for Shimei, and said unto him, Did I not make thee to swear by the LORD, and protested unto thee, saying, Know for a certain, on the day thou goest out, and walkest abroad any whither, that thou shalt surely die? and thou saidst unto me, The word that I have heard is good.
  43 Why then hast thou not kept the oath of the LORD, and the commandment that I have charged thee with?
  44 The king said moreover to Shimei, Thou knowest all the wickedness which thine heart is privy to, that thou didst to David my father: therefore the LORD shall return thy wickedness upon thine own head;
  45 And king Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of David shall be established before the LORD for ever.
  46 So the king commanded Benaiah the son of Jehoiada; which went out, and fell upon him, that he died. And the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon.

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