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Song of Solomon
1 Kings 3 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)
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1 Kings 3
1 Kings 3:1
And Solomon made affinity with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh's daughter, and brought her into the city of David, until he had made an end of building his own house, and the house of the LORD, and the wall of Jerusalem round about.
And Solomon made affinit
y [Not "alliance" (as some have supposed) but relationship. Lit.,
made himself son-in-law
Pharaoh king of Egypt
[which of the Pharaohs this was, it is impossible to say with certainty. As, however, Shishak (
1 Kings 11:40
1 Kings 14:25
) is undoubtedly the Sheshonk who succeeded to the throne of Egypt in the 26th year of Solomon (Poole), and who was the first king of the 22nd dynasty of Manetho, we may safely identify this Pharaoh with "a late king of the 21st (or Janite) dynasty." It has been assumed (Bunsen, Ewald, Brugsch,
) that it was Psusennes II., the last king of that house, on the supposition that he reigned 35 years, (as stated by Eusebius), but according to Africanus, his reign was limited to 14 years. It is wiser to say, therefore, with Mr. Poole (Dict. Bib., "Pharaoh") that this Pharaoh "cannot yet be identified on Manetho's list." It is also impossible to decide whether the alliance was first sought by Solomon with a view to win over a powerful and dangerous neighbour (Thenius), to whose inroads his northern border was exposed, and especially to counteract the influence (
1 Kings 11:21
) of Hadad (Plumptre), or whether the marriage was proposed by Pharaoh because the 21st dynasty "had then become very weak" (Rawlinson) and its head desired "friendly relations with the kingdom of Israel, which had grown into a power to be dreaded" (Keil). But we may reasonably suppose that the alliance "must have been to most Israelites a very startling one" (Plumptre.) Egypt (Rahab,
) was to every Israelite a name both of triumph and dread. The Pharaohs were their ancestral foes],
took Pharaoh's daughter
[A marriage such as this was not without precedent (
), nor was it condemned by the Law, which only forbade intermarriage with the nations of Canaan (
), and sanctioned the union of an Israelite with a captive taken in war (
; cf. 20:14). "At the same time, it was only when the foreign wives renounced idolatry, that such marriages were in accordance with the spirit of the law" (Keil). As Solomon at this period of his life faithfully observed the law, as he is never blamed for this marriage, and as there is no trace whatever of the introduction of Egyptian rites into Israel, it is a fair presumption that the Egyptian princess conformed to the religion of her adopted country],
and brought her into the city of David
2 Chronicles 8:11
speaks of her dwelling in "the
, it would seem, the palace which David had occupied]
until he had made an end
[this hardly shows that he had begun to build, as Keil infers. He did not begin building the Temple until the fourth (
1 Kings 6:1
), nor his own house until the eleventh year (
1 Kings 7:1
) after his accession, and the marriage, though not at the very commencement of his reign, can hardly have been delayed to the eleventh year, and may have taken place before the death of Shimei]
of building his own house
1 Kings 7:7
and the house of the Lord
1 Kings 6
1 Kings 7:51
and the wall of Jerusalem round about.
[Probably, he both strengthened and extended the city walls, as Josephus (Ant. 8:06.1) affirms. Acc. to the LXX. addition to ch. 12, it was on this task that Jeroboam was employed (
1 Kings 11:27
; cf. 9:15). David had fortified a part of the city (
2 Samuel 5:9
1 Kings 3:2
Only the people sacrificed in high places, because there was no house built unto the name of the LORD, until those days.
[The word perhaps signifies "that there was one exception to the flourishing condition of things which the writer has been describing" (Rawlinson), though the people are nowhere blamed for sacrificing on the high places, and Solomon's sacrifice at "the great high place "was full of blessing. The idea rather is that just as he was obliged to bring his Egyptian wife into the city of David, because his palace was not yet finished, so the people were compelled to sacrifice on the high places, because the temple was not yet built (Keil), and "the place" where God would put His name had only just been chosen (
1 Chronicles 22:1
the people sacrificed
were sacrificing, i.e.
, habitually, constantly]
in high places
[All nations have chosen hill tops for acts of worship, perhaps as being nearer heaven. "Even Abraham built an altar to the Lord on a mountain near Bethel (
Genesis 12:7, 8
; cf. 22:2, 9; 31:54)." And the use of high places for this purpose was not
condemned in the Law. It is true the Hebrews were commanded to have but one place of sacrifice (
Deuteronomy 12:5, 11, 13, 26, 27
), and this no doubt was, if not an indirect prohibition, a discouragement of such sanctuaries. It has been held, however, that this command was purely prospective, and it is certainly remarkable that even when the Israelites were settled in the promised land, and the tabernacle was set up (
), altars were constantly built and sacrifices offered on high places, and sometimes, as in the case of Gideon (
), and Manoah (
Judges 13:19, 20
), by express Divine command. Later on we find Samuel (
1 Samuel 7:9, 10
1 Samuel 11:15
1 Samuel 16:5
), Saul (1 Samuel 13:9; 14:35), David (
1 Chronicles 21:26
), Solomon and Elijah (
1 Kings 18:30
), offering sacrifices in various places, which they could not possibly have done had it seemed to them that this was condemned beforehand by the Law. It is highly probable, therefore, that though the contemporaries of Joshua took a different view (as
proves), the men of a later age excused themselves on the ground stated in the text, that "there was no house built unto the name of the Lord." It has been held by some that "had they not sacrificed and burnt incense on high places, they could not have sacrificed or burnt incense at all" (Bp. Horsley); but this seems to overlook the fact that there was one place provided for sacrifices - the door of the tabernacle — and that for some reason or other they sacrificed elsewhere. And the reason, no doubt, was the one assigned by the historian. It should be added that this term "high place" (
) came to be used of
places of worship, not only on heights, but even those in valleys (
2 Kings 17:9
). The Bamah sometimes consisted of an altar only, but as a rule, there was a shrine or sanctuary, erected hard by (
1 Kings 13:32
2 Kings 17:29
2 Kings 23:19
, for which the word
is sometimes loosely employed (
1 Kings 11:7
1 Kings 14:23
2 Kings 21:3
because there was no house built unto the name of the Lord until those days.
1 Kings 3:3
And Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places.
And Solomon loved the Lord
[thus keeping the first and great commandment, the "Shema Israel" (
; cf. Deuteronomy 30:16;
walking in the statutes of David his father
, those which David had kept (verses 6,14) and commanded him to keep (ch. 1 Kings 2:4)]:
only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places.
[These words clearly show that the worship of the high places, although condoned, and indeed accepted, by God (ver. 5) was not strictly lawful and right. It was an ignorance that God winked at. The historian, remembering what the worship of the high places became, notices this as an imperfection of Solomon's early reign, though he does not say that such worship was sinful.
1 Kings 3:4
And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there; for that
the great high place: a thousand burnt offerings did Solomon offer upon that altar.
And the king went to Gibeon
2 Samuel 21:1
. Now known as
, a commanding eminence (as the name implies) some six miles north of Jerusalem. Strictly, it consists of
heights, on one of which, it is conjectured, the town stood, while the other was the high place. Solomon was accompanied to Gibeon by "all the congregation," including the captains, judges, governors, etc. (
2 Chronicles 1:2, 3
to sacrifice there
[This religious service was designed to inaugurate his reign (
2 Chronicles 1:13
), after the precedent of
1 Samuel 11:15
2 Samuel 6:2
. His object was also to supplicate the Divine blessing on his undertakings. If his visit served at the same time as a farewell, or "honourable funeral to the tabernacle" (Wordsw.) this was an accident];
for that was the great high place
[being the place of the tabernacle and brazen altar. In
1 Samuel 21:6
we find the tabernacle at Nob, though without the ark (
1 Samuel 4:2
). After the massacre of the priests it lost the ephod (
1 Samuel 22:20
1 Samuel 23:6
). It could hardly remain in a spot stained by so much blood; but how or when it found its way to Gibeon, we do not know. See
1 Chronicles 16:37, 39
2 Chronicles 1:3-6
a thousand burnt offerings
[such numbers were not infrequent at festivals. See on 1 Kings 8:62, and cf.
2 Chronicles 29:33, 34
. Rawlinson reminds us that "Xerxes offered 1000 oxen at Troy" (Herod. 7:43).]
did Solomon offer
[not, of course, personally, as some (Ewald.
) have sup. posed. He is said to have "offered" them, because he (together with the congregation, perhaps) provided them. The immense number alone shows that he cannot have offered in person. The festival probably lasted for seven or eight days,but even then a thousand victims can hardly have been offered whole (
) unless the altar was greatly enlarged, or additional temporary altars were erected. This latter supposition is not negatived by the next words. See on 1 Kings 8:63, 64.]
upon that altar.
1 Kings 3:5
In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee.
the Lord appeared unto Solomon in a dream
. A vision is not necessarily implied (as in
; cf. 15:12), though he may have seen some angelic form (
angelus in Dei nomine ei apparuit loquens.
Grotius) - of course, only in his dream. Cf.
. Probably "appeared" is the equivalent of "revealed Himself." Bahr]
by night; and God said, Ask what I shall give thee
. This was the answer to the sacrifices. The night was probably that which followed the last day on which they were offered (ver. 15).]
1 Kings 3:6
And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as
And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto
thy servant David my father great mercy
according as he walked Before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee
2 Kings 20:3
, where Hezekiah uses much the same language of himself. Also ch. 11:4],
and thou hast kept for him this great kindness
; same word as above. David himself had regarded this as a singular mercy (
1 Kings 1:48
that thou hast given him a son to sit
throne, as it is this day.
1 Samuel 22:8
1 Kings 3:7
And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I
a little child: I know not
to go out or come in.
And now, O Lord my Cod, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father; and I am but
a little child:
[These words are generally understood as indicating Solomon's humility rather than his age. No doubt, there is some exaggeration in the expression, which manifestly is not to be taken
au pied de la lettre
; at the same time it is questionable whether such words would be used of himself by a young man of twenty, which Solomon is commonly supposed to have been. See on 1 Kings 2:2, and 1 Kings 12:8]
I know not how to go out or come in.
[The same phrase is found in the Pentateuch,
. Also in
1 Samuel 18:13
2 Samuel 3:25
. It is the formula for expressing behaviour, conduct, the outward life of man.]
1 Kings 3:8
And thy servant
in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude.
And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen
a great people, that cannot be
numbered nor counted for multitude.
[The promises of
, lived in the thoughts and language of the Jews, and were doubtless the original of this expression. Cf. also
1 Kings 3:9
Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?
Give therefore thy servant an understanding
Cf. ver. 11 (Heb. "to
judgment.") The idea is not docility, as the Vulg. (
), but discrimination, penetration. Cf.
2 Samuel 14:17
Philippians 1:9, 10
, a judicial mind. The "hearing heart" was desired, not that it might "give heed to the law" (Keil), but to qualify him]
Judge thy people
[The Hebrew king, like most ancient monarchs, was supreme judge as well as governor ("prince and
; and cf.
). The Jews desired a king that he might
1 Samuel 8:5
). Their rulers so far had been purely "Judges" (
; compare the Carthaginian name,
) When they desired one who should, lead their armies, they still put his judicial functions in the first place (
ver. 20). And what were the duties of a king in this respect, Absalom's words (
2 Samuel 15:4
) show. In vers. 16-28 we see Solomon sitting as Chief Justice],
that I may discern between good and bad
, right and wrong, true and false; cf.
for who is able to judge this thy so great
, numerous; compare
[The number of the Israelites at this period is referred to in
1 Kings 4:20
1 Kings 3:10
And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.
And the speech
; same word as below]
pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing,
[Though in a dream the judgment and will were not suspended. Our dreams accord with our waking thoughts. This would have been Solomon's choice at any time.]
1 Kings 3:11
And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment;
And God said unto him. Because thou hast asked this thing and hast not asked for thyself long life
neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life
, destruction in battle]
of thine enemies
[not so much personal enemies, like Hadad and Rezon, (Rawlinson) as military foes. The meaning is explained by the corresponding word, "honour" (
but hast asked
[The word is repeated, according to Hebrew usage, now for the sixth time]
for thyself understanding to discern
; see on ver. 9]
1 Kings 3:12
Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.
Behold, I have done according to thy words
, granted thy prayer, as the next words show]:
have given thee a wise and an understanding
heart, so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.
1 Chronicles 29:25
2 Chronicles 9:22
. But there is no need to restrict the reference to kings and princes.]
1 Kings 3:13
And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.
And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches and honour
so that there shall not be any among the kings lure unto thee all thy days.
1 Kings 3:14
And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days.
And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes
commandments, as thy father David did walk
[ver. 6; 15:4. This is the Divine confirmation of David's words to his son (
1 Kings 2:3, 4
) and of the son's description of his father's piety (ver. 6
then I will lengthen thy days
[Solomon's days were not of an unusual length, as he can hardly have been more than sixty (if so much), although called
1 Kings 11:41
at the time of his decease. But he had not fulfilled the condition (
1 Kings 11:9-12
1 Kings 3:15
And Solomon awoke; and, behold,
a dream. And he came to Jerusalem, and stood before the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and offered up burnt offerings, and offered peace offerings, and made a feast to all his servants.
And Solomon awoke; and, behold, it was a dream
[That is to say, this passed while Solomon
; but it was more than a dream. The same words are used of Pharaoh (
) when God showed him what He was about to do (vers. 25, 28, cf.
), and this was such a dream as Pharaoh's and as Joseph's (
). It was a dream,
, in which a Divine revelation was made to him. Wordsw. refers to Solomon's words, "I sleep, but my
Song of Solomon 5:2
), and "He giveth to his beloved (Jedidiah) in sleep" (
And he came to Jerusalem, and stood before the ark of the covenant
[the other sanctuary of that period (
2 Samuel 6:17
1 Chronicles 16:37-40
and offered up burnt offerings
[probably in continuation of the sacrifices of Gibeon, ver. 4],
and offered peace offerings
[in testimony of his thankfulness for the signal favour recently vouchsafed to him]
and made a feast
After the example of David,
1 Chronicles 16:3
1 Kings 8:65
. It was not exclusively
The flesh of the animals offered in sacrifice was eaten by the worshippers and their guests (
Leviticus 7:15, 31
1 Samuel 2:16
1 Corinthians 8:13
). This was "a sacrificial meal of the
(Keil). See on ch.
1 Kings 8:63
to all his servants.
CHAPTER 3:16-28. IN this section we see how remarkably the gracious promise of Gibeon (ver. 12) was fulfilled. The "understanding to discern judgment" has been richly bestowed. And this, no doubt, is the reason why the story is related here.
Ἐπιδεῖξαί τὴν τοῦ
βασιλεως ἐβουλήθη σοφίαν
(Theodoret). It is just possible, as Thenius maintains, that the narrative was handed down to a succeeding age by tradition, and was not incorporated into any of the documents from which our historian compiled his narrative; but this argues nothing against its authenticity or its inspiration. It is, as Bahr observes, a thoroughly Oriental story.
1 Kings 3:16
Then came there two women,
harlots, unto the king, and stood before him.
Then came there two women that were harlots
[The Jewish writers here, as in the case of Rahab (
), would understand "hostess," "innkeeper" (
, as Bahr, which = ,
, "inn"). In support of which it is alleged that prostitutes never have children, or if they have are not solicitous about them. The meaning "hostess," however (as if from
, to feed), is not to be entertained for a moment, but we may readily admit that these children, though born out of wedlock, were not necessarily the offspring of professed harlots, though the fact that their mothers dwelt together and alone (ver. 17) is certainly suspicious; and see Gesen. s.v.
. Grotius, from
, concludes that they must have been foreigners. But it is equally probable that the law was constantly violated]
unto the king
[as supreme judge]
and stood before him.
1 Kings 3:17
And the one woman said, O my lord, I and this woman dwell in one house; and I was delivered of a child with her in the house.
And the one woman said, O my lord, I and this woman dwell in one house; and I was delivered of a child with her in the house.
1 Kings 3:18
And it came to pass the third day after that I was delivered, that this woman was delivered also: and we
no stranger with us in the house, save we two in the house.
And it came to pass the third day after that I was delivered, that this woman was delivered also: and we were together; there was no stranger with us in the house, save we two in the house.
[Emphasis is laid on this fact, as showing the possibility of the fraud and the impossibility of producing proof. Hebrew women have always required but little assistance in childbearing. That which is written in
is true to this day.
1 Kings 3:19
And this woman's child died in the night; because she overlaid it.
And this woman's child died in the night; because she overlaid it.
1 Kings 3:20
And she arose at midnight, and took my son from beside me, while thine handmaid slept, and laid it in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom.
And she arose at midnight
[rather, in the middle,
, dead of the night. The sleeper could not know it was midnight],
and took my son from beside me, while thine handmaid slept, and laid it in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my besom.
1 Kings 3:21
And when I rose in the morning to give my child suck, behold, it was dead: but when I had considered it in the morning, behold, it was not my son, which I did bear.
And when I rose in the morning
[while it was still dusk]
to give my child suck, behold it was dead: but when I had considered it in the morning
, in broad daylight; Vulg.
[this second "behold" marks a second discovery]
it was not my son which I did bear.
1 Kings 3:22
And the other woman said, Nay; but the living
my son, and the dead
thy son. And this said, No; but the dead
thy son, and the living
my son. Thus they spake before the king.
And the other woman said, Nay, but the living is my son and the dead is thy son. And this said, No, but the dead is thy son and the living is my son.
[It is somewhat difficult to account for the pertinacious claim to the child, preferred even before the king by the pretended mother. The most probable explanation is, that having taken the child in the first instance on the spur of the moment, in order to avoid the reproach of having killed her offspring by her clumsiness and neglect, she found it difficult to draw back from her false position - which indeed she could not do without owning herself both child stealer and liar - and so she put on a bold face and maintained the imposture even before the monarch himself. That she did not really care for the child is evident from ver. 26.] Thus they spake [Heb. "
they spake," i.e.
, affirmed and contradicted]
before the king.
1 Kings 3:23
Then said the king, The one saith, This
my son that liveth, and thy son
the dead: and the other saith, Nay; but thy son
the dead, and my son
[promptly, without hesitation]
said the king, The one saith
is saying," i.e.
, keeps saying]
This is my son that liveth, and thy son is the dead; and the other saith, Nay, but thy son is the dead and my son is the living.
1 Kings 3:24
And the king said, Bring me a sword. And they brought a sword before the king.
And the king said, Bring me a sword. And they brought a
; the sword,
, of the executioner, or the sword for which he asked]
sword before the king.
1 Kings 3:25
And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other.
And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one and half to the other
1 Kings 3:26
Then spake the woman whose the living child
unto the king, for her bowels yearned upon her son, and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it. But the other said, Let it be neither mine nor thine,
Then spake the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her bowels
[thought by most of the ancients to be the seat of the affections, probably because of the sensations which strong emotions excite there. Cf.
in the New Testament (
2 Corinthians 6:12
Philemon 1:7, 20
We speak of "glowing with pity," etc.]
upon her son, and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it, But the other
Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it.
[The Hebrew is strikingly concise,
We have here by far the greatest difficulty in the story. When the pretender, who has clamoured for the child, is at last offered it by its mother, she refuses the gift and heartlessly urges that it shall be cut in two. We can only account for her strange conduct on the supposition that. she caught eagerly at any way of escape from the dilemma in which she had placed herself, and thought, no doubt, that to accept his decision would be to flatter and please the king. (See Homiletics.)
1 Kings 3:27
Then the king answered and said, Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it: she
the mother thereof.
Then the king answered and said
[He simply echoes the exact words of the mother. This is clear from the fact that the word
, "the one born," here and in ver. 26 rendered "
," is a very unusual one],
Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it
[The LXX., which reads "Give the child to her who said, Give it to her," etc., obscures the evidently designed repetition]
she is the mother thereof
she, his mother
1 Kings 3:28
And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God
in him, to do judgment.
And an Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged, and they feared the king
, were impressed and awed by his almost supernatural penetration. Bahr refers to
for they saw that the wisdom of God
[for which he asked (ver. 9) and which God gave (ver. 12]
was in him
to do Judgment
. [Most of the commentators cite from Grotius, the familiar story found in Diodorus Siculus, of Ariopharnes, king of Thrace. Three youths claimed before this king each to be the son, and therefore successor, of a deceased king of the Cimmerians. He decided that that one was the real son who refused to cast a javelin at his father's corpse.]
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