THE BOOKS OF KINGS

The two Books of Kings are regarded by many as the last part of a work commonly known as the Deuteronomistic History. The latter tells the story of Israel from its settlement in the land (Joshua and Judges) through the transition from judgeship to monarchy under Samuel, Saul, and David (1 and 2 Samuel) to the reign of Solomon, the disintegration of the united kingdom into the kingdoms of Israel and Judah and the eventual downfall of both kingdoms (1 and 2 Kings). The Deuteronomistic History along with the Pentateuch forms a single historical narrative stretching from creation to exile.

The Books of Kings can be approached in several ways. They contain history and are an important source of information about the Israelite kingdoms. They are also narrative that calls for careful reading; historical accuracy is sometimes sacrificed to the demands of compelling characterization and dramatic tension. Most importantly, both historical presentation and narrative creativity are shaped by a particular religious worldview.

The multifaceted character of the work means that it has a variety of focal points. The historical events themselves, of course, are important, but the patterns according to which the author organizes those events give a unity to the author’s historical reconstruction. The northern kings are condemned without exception, and the royal line degenerates from the divine election of Jeroboam I through a succession of short-lived dynasties to the bloodbath of Jehu’s coup d’état, and finally dies out in a series of assassinations. (It must be admitted that the author at times skews the story to preserve the pattern: the relatively prosperous forty-one-year reign of Jeroboam II is dismissed in seven verses!) Judah’s kings, on the other hand, follow a cyclic pattern of infidelity followed by reform, with each reformer king (Asa, Joash, Hezekiah, Josiah) greater than the last. Unfortunately the apostate kings also progress in wickedness, until the evil of Manasseh is so great that even Josiah’s fidelity cannot turn away the Lord’s wrath (2 Kgs 23:26).

As a literary work, the Books of Kings are admirable. Some of the brilliance is accessible only in Hebrew: wordplays, the sounds and rhythms of poetic passages, verbal allusions to other passages of the Hebrew Bible. Scenes are drawn with a vibrancy and immediacy that English cannot reproduce without sounding overdone. But other literary techniques survive translation: symmetrical structures for narrative units (and the disruptions of symmetry at significant points), rich ambiguities (see 1 Kgs 3:26), foreshadowings (such as the way the prophet of Bethel and the man of God of Judah in 1 Kgs 13 portend the destinies of their respective kingdoms). Characterization is rich and complex (Solomon, Jeroboam, Elijah, Ahab, Elisha, Jehu, etc.), revealing deep insight into human nature.

In offering a theological interpretation of history, 1–2 Kings upholds a double principle: the justification of the political disintegration of the Davidic empire, and the necessity of the religious unity of the Lord’s people. This double principle is, practically speaking, unrealistic; see Jeroboam I’s reasonable assessment in 1 Kgs 12:2627. But for the Deuteronomistic historian, that is irrelevant. Just as the separation of the kingdoms is the Lord’s will (1 Kgs 12:2224), so too is the centralization of worship at the Temple in Jerusalem (1 Kgs 9:3; see Dt 12). 1–2 Kings reflects that double principle in its organization. The story of each king is told integrally, whether the king is of Israel or Judah: both lines of kings are legitimate. But the stories of the two lines are recounted in the order in which each king came to the throne, irrespective of which kingdom he ruled: there is only one people of God, though they are under two different royal jurisdictions. Moreover, each king is evaluated on theological grounds, with no allowance made for political or economic successes or failures. All Israelite kings are condemned because they did not reverse Jeroboam I’s sin of setting up sanctuaries outside Jerusalem. Judahite kings are condemned for apostasy or praised for reform, as the case may be; but a continuing source of irritation to the Deuteronomistic historian is the failure of even the praiseworthy kings to do anything about local shrines outside Jerusalem (the “high places”).

Into the stories of the kings, almost as a counterpoint, are woven numerous stories of prophets, named and great (Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah), and less known or anonymous (1 Kgs 13; 22). Many of the stories are anecdotal, reflecting the everyday life of prophets and prophetic guilds (1 Kgs 17; 2 Kgs 4). But the volatile dynamics of prophetic involvement in the political realm are prominent: prophets in opposition to kings (1 Kgs 14; 21; 2 Kgs 9), prophets in support of kings (1 Kgs 20:134; 2 Kgs 1920; 22:1420). This too is part of the theological worldview of the Deuteronomistic historian. The destiny of Israel is in God’s hand. Through prophets, the divine will is made known on earth to kings and people and the future consequences of their response to God’s will are spelled out. It is perhaps indicative of the importance prophets have in 1 and 2 Kings that the structural center of the two books is the story of Elisha’s succession to Elijah’s prophetic ministry (2 Kgs 2), and that this is one of the few passages in Kings that occurs outside the account of any king’s reign. Behind the temporal realm of kings and reigns lies the continuing realm of the divine word and its servants, the prophets.

1–2 Kings draws on older sources (perhaps on archival records, certainly on works called “The Book of the Chronicles of the Kings”; see, for example, 1 Kgs 14:19, 29), which it uses for its own theological purpose. The so-called Deuteronomistic History itself underwent a complex process of editorial revision whose stages are disputed by scholars. There may have been an edition sometime late in the reign of Josiah (640–609 B.C.), but in the form we have it the work comes from the time of the exile (see 2 Kgs 25:2730). In its turn the Deuteronomistic History was one of the sources used by the Chronicler in postexilic times to compile the history presented in 1 and 2 Chronicles. Though Chronicles has little interest in the Northern Kingdom, much of the material in Kings about the kingdom of Judah reappears, sometimes in altered form, in Chronicles.

The Books of Kings may be divided as follows:

  1. The Reign of Solomon (1 Kgs 1:111:43)
  2. The Reign of Jeroboam (1 Kgs 12:114:20)
  3. Kings of Judah and Israel (1 Kgs 14:2116:34)
  4. The Story of Elijah (1 Kgs 17:119:21)
  5. The Story of Ahab (1 Kgs 20:12 Kgs 1:18)
  6. Elisha Succeeds Elijah (2 Kgs 2:125)
  7. Stories of Elisha and Joram (2 Kgs 3:19:13)
  8. The End of the Omrid Dynasty (2 Kgs 9:1411:20)
  9. Kings of Judah and Israel (2 Kgs 12:117:5)
  10. The End of Israel (2 Kgs 17:641)
  11. The End of Judah (2 Kgs 18:125:30)

THE FIRST BOOK OF KINGS

I. THE REIGN OF SOLOMON*

CHAPTER 1

David’s Old Age. 1* When King David was old and advanced in years, though they covered him with blankets he could not get warm. 2His servants therefore said to him, “Let a young virgin be sought to attend my lord the king,* and to nurse him. If she sleeps with you, my lord the king will be warm.” 3So they sought for a beautiful girl throughout the territory of Israel, and found Abishag the Shunamite. So they brought her to the king. 4The girl was very beautiful indeed, and she nursed the king and took care of him. But the king did not have relations with her.

Adonijah’s Ambition. 5Adonijah, son of Haggith, boasted, “I shall be king!” and he provided himself with chariots, horses, and a retinue of fifty to go before him.a 6Yet his father would never antagonize him by asking, “Why are you doing this?” Adonijah was also very handsome, and next in age to Absalom by the same mother. 7He consulted with Joab, son of Zeruiah, and with Abiathar the priest, and they became Adonijah’s supporters. 8However, Zadok the priest, Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, Nathan the prophet, Shimei and Rei, and David’s warriors did not support Adonijah.

9Adonijah slaughtered sheep, oxen, and fatlings at the stone Zoheleth near En-rogel* and invited all his brothers, the king’s sons, and all the royal officials of Judah; 10but he did not invite Nathan the prophet, or Benaiah, or the warriors, or Solomon his brother.

Solomon Proclaimed King. 11Then Nathan said to Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother: “Have you not heard that Adonijah, son of Haggith, has become king, and our lord David does not know? 12Come now, let me advise you so that you may save your life and the life of your son Solomon. 13Go, visit King David, and say to him, ‘Did you not, my lord king, swear to your handmaid: Your son Solomon shall be king after me; it is he who shall sit upon my throne? Why, then, has Adonijah become king?’ 14And while you are still there speaking to the king, I will come in after you and confirm your words.”

15So Bathsheba visited the king in his room. The king was very old, and Abishag the Shunamite was caring for the king.* 16Bathsheba bowed in homage to the king. The king said to her, “What do you wish?”* 17She answered him: “My lord, you swore to your servant by the LORD, your God, ‘Solomon your son will be king after me; it is he who shall sit upon my throne.’ 18But now Adonijah has become king, and you, my lord king, do not know it.* 19He has sacrificed bulls, fatlings, and sheep in great numbers; he has invited all the king’s sons, Abiathar the priest, and Joab, the commander of the army, but not your servant Solomon. 20* Now, my lord king, all Israel is looking to you to declare to them who is to sit upon the throne of my lord the king after him. 21If this is not done, when my lord the king rests with his ancestors, I and my son Solomon will be considered criminals.”

22While she was still speaking to the king, Nathan the prophet came in. 23They told the king, “Nathan the prophet is here.” He entered the king’s presence and did him homage, bowing to the floor. 24Then Nathan said: “My lord king, did you say, ‘Adonijah shall be king after me and shall sit upon my throne’? 25For today he went down and sacrificed bulls, fatlings, and sheep in great numbers; he invited all the king’s sons, the commanders of the army, and Abiathar the priest, and even now they are eating and drinking in his company and saying, ‘Long live King Adonijah!’ 26But me, your servant, he did not invite; nor Zadok the priest, nor Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, nor your servant Solomon. 27If this was done by order of my lord the king, you did not tell me, your servant, who is to sit upon the throne of my lord the king after him.”

28King David answered, “Call Bathsheba here.” When she entered the king’s presence and stood before him, 29the king swore, “As the LORD lives, who has redeemed my life from all distress, 30this very day I will fulfill the oath I swore to you by the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Your son Solomon shall be king after me and shall sit upon my throne in my place.’” 31Bowing to the floor in homage to the king, Bathsheba said, “May my lord, King David, live forever!”

32Then King David said, “Call Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah, son of Jehoiada.” When they had entered the king’s presence, 33he said to them: “Take with you the royal officials. Mount my son Solomon upon my own mule and escort him down to Gihon. 34There Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet shall anoint him king over Israel, and you shall blow the ram’s horn and cry, ‘Long live King Solomon!’ 35When you come back up with him, he is to go in and sit upon my throne. It is he that shall be king in my place: him I designate ruler of Israel and of Judah.” 36Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, answered the king: “So be it! May the LORD, the God of my lord the king, so decree! 37As the LORD has been with my lord the king, so may he be with Solomon, and make his throne even greater than that of my lord, King David!”

38So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites and Pelethites* went down, and mounting Solomon on King David’s mule, escorted him to Gihon. 39Then Zadok the priest took the horn of oil from the tent and anointed Solomon. They blew the ram’s horn and all the people shouted, “Long live King Solomon!” 40Then all the people went up after him, playing flutes and rejoicing so much the earth split with their shouting.

Adonijah Submits to Solomon. 41Adonijah and all the guests who were with him heard it, just as they ended their banquet. When Joab heard the sound of the ram’s horn, he asked, “Why this uproar in the city?” 42As he was speaking, Jonathan, son of Abiathar the priest, arrived. Adonijah said, “Come, you are a man of worth and must bring good news.” 43Jonathan answered Adonijah, “Hardly!* Our lord, King David, has made Solomon king. 44The king sent with him Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites and Pelethites, and they mounted him upon the king’s own mule. 45Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anointed him king at Gihon, and they went up from there rejoicing, so that the city is in an uproar. That is the noise you hear. 46Moreover, Solomon has taken his seat on the royal throne, 47and moreover the king’s servants have come to pay their respects to our lord, King David, saying, ‘May your God make Solomon’s name more famous than your name, his throne greater than your throne!’ And the king in his bed did homage. 48This is what the king said: ‘Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who has this day provided one to sit upon my throne, so that I see it with my own eyes.’” 49All the guests of Adonijah got up trembling, and went each their way, 50but Adonijah, in fear of Solomon, got up and went to grasp the horns of the altar.*

51It was reported to Solomon: “Adonijah, in fear of King Solomon, is clinging to the horns of the altar and saying, ‘Let King Solomon first swear that he will not kill me, his servant, with the sword.’” 52Solomon answered, “If he proves worthy, not a hair of his shall fall to the ground. But if evil is found in him, he shall die.” 53King Solomon sent to have him brought down from the altar, and he came and paid homage to King Solomon. Solomon then said to him, “Go to your house.”

* [1:111:43] The story of the reign of Solomon comprises twelve major units, organized concentrically. That is, the first unit (1:12:12a) balances the last (11:2643), the second (2:12b46) balances the second last (11:1425), and so forth. (See the structural notes at the beginning of each major unit.) The center of the whole story is a diptych that narrates the construction of the Temple (6:17:51) and its dedication (8:19:10).

* [1:12:12a] The first major unit of the Solomon story concludes the so-called Succession Narrative (2 Sm 920; 1 Kgs 12). This unit tells how Solomon, a younger son, came to succeed David on the throne of Israel through the intervention of the prophet Nathan. Compare the last unit of the Solomon story, 11:2643, where the prophet Ahijah begins the process whereby Jeroboam becomes king of the northern tribes after Solomon’s death. The story of Solomon’s accession is itself concentrically arranged: David’s decline, Adonijah’s rise, Solomon’s supporters, David’s decision, Solomon’s inauguration, Adonijah’s fall, David’s death. Chronicles has no developed parallel to this story (see 1 Chr 23:1).

* [1:2] The fulsome use of royal titles and the elaborate etiquette in the Succession Narrative suggest the raw ambition of the contending parties and the oppressive atmosphere of the court.

* [1:9] En-rogel: the modern Job’s Well just southeast of Jerusalem. It marked the ancient boundary between the tribes of Benjamin and Judah (Jos 15:7; 18:16).

* [1:15] Entering the king’s chambers, Bathsheba confronts two realities: he is very old; and she herself, the woman for whom David once committed adultery and murder, has been replaced at the king’s side and in his bed.

* [1:16] Throughout 1 Kgs 1 the key question is “Who shall be king (malak)?” David’s feeble, two-syllable question to Bathsheba is an ironic echo of that key word: “What do you wish?” renders the Heb. mahlak?

* [1:18] Bathsheba uses a clever wordplay to conceal the rivalry between Solomon and Adonijah and imply that the real rivalry is between David and Adonijah. She repeatedly addresses David as “my lord king” (’adoni hammelek), but claims that “Adonijah has become king” (’adoniya malak). Know: the term means both “be aware of” and “recognize, acknowledge, ratify.”

* [1:20] There was no precedent for determining succession to the throne of Israel. Adonijah and his supporters assumed that primogeniture would assure the succession as it did in the monarchies of the surrounding nations. But Bathsheba persuades David that he is free to name anyone he chooses.

* [1:38] Cherethites and Pelethites: mercenaries in David’s bodyguard. They became part of his retinue after he defeated the Philistines and established himself in Jerusalem; cf. 2 Sm 8:18; 15:18; 20:23.

* [1:43] Hardly: Jonathan’s first word, ’abal, whose meaning (such as “indeed,” “on the contrary”) must be discerned from the context, may be ironic. This irony is deepened by an untranslatable wordplay in Hebrew: a very similar word means “to mourn,” which is an appropriate comment about the death of Adonijah’s hopes for the throne.

* [1:50] Horns of the altar: the protuberances on each of the four corners of the altar (Ex 27:2; 29:12). By grasping the horns of the altar Adonijah is claiming asylum (Ex 21:1314; 1 Kgs 2:28).

a. [1:5] 2 Sm 15:1.

CHAPTER 2

David’s Last Instructions and Death. 1When the time of David’s death drew near, he gave these instructions to Solomon his son: 2“I am going the way of all the earth. Be strong and be a man! 3a Keep the mandate of the LORD, your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, commands, ordinances, and decrees as they are written in the law of Moses, that you may succeed in whatever you do, and wherever you turn, 4b and that the LORD may fulfill the word he spoke concerning me: If your sons so conduct themselves that they walk before me in faithfulness with their whole heart and soul, there shall never be wanting someone of your line on the throne of Israel.

5* c “You yourself know what Joab, son of Zeruiah, did to me—what he did to the two commanders of Israel’s armies, Abner, son of Ner, and Amasa, son of Jether: he killed them and brought the blood of war into a time of peace, and put the blood of war on the belt about his waist and the sandal on his foot. 6Act with all the wisdom you possess; do not let his gray head go down to Sheol in peace. 7d But be true to the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite, and have them among those who eat at your table. For they were loyal to me when I was fleeing from your brother Absalom. 8e You also have with you Shimei, son of Gera, the Benjaminite of Bahurim, who cursed me bitterly the day I was going to Mahanaim. When he came down to meet me at the Jordan, I swore to him by the LORD: ‘I will not kill you by the sword.’ 9But you must not let him go unpunished. You are wise; you will know what to do to send his gray head down to Sheol in blood.”

10f David rested with his ancestors and was buried in the City of David. 11g David was king over Israel for forty years: he was king seven years in Hebron and thirty-three years in Jerusalem.

The Kingdom Made Secure.* 12Then Solomon sat on the throne of David his father, and his kingship was established.

13Adonijah, son of Haggith, came to Bathsheba, the mother of Solomon. “Do you come in peace?” she asked. “In peace,” he answered, 14and he added, “I have something to say to you.” She replied, “Speak.” 15So he said: “You know that the kingship was mine, and all Israel expected me to be king. But the kingship passed me by and went to my brother; by the LORD’s will it went to him. 16But now there is one favor I would ask of you. Do not refuse me.” And she said, “Speak on.” 17* He said, “Please ask King Solomon, who will not refuse you, to give me Abishag the Shunamite to be my wife.” 18Bathsheba replied, “Very well, I will speak to the king for you.”

19Then Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah, and the king stood up to meet her and paid her homage. Then he sat down upon his throne, and a throne was provided for the king’s mother, who sat at his right. 20She said, “There is one small favor I would ask of you. Do not refuse me.” The king said to her, “Ask it, my mother, for I will not refuse you.” 21So she said, “Let Abishag the Shunamite be given to your brother Adonijah to be his wife.” 22King Solomon answered his mother, “And why do you ask that Abishag the Shunamite be given to Adonijah? Ask the kingship for him as well, for he is my older brother! Ask for him, for Abiathar the priest, for Joab, son of Zeruiah!” 23And King Solomon swore by the LORD: “May God do thus to me and more, if Adonijah has not spoken this word at the cost of his life. 24h And now, as the LORD lives, who has established me and set me on the throne of David my father and made for me a house as he promised, this day shall Adonijah be put to death.” 25Then King Solomon sent Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, who struck him dead.

26i The king said to Abiathar the priest: “Go to your estate in Anathoth. Though you deserve to die, I will not put you to death at this time, because you carried the ark of the Lord GOD before David my father and shared in all the hardships my father endured.”* 27j So Solomon dismissed Abiathar from the office of priest of the LORD, thus fulfilling the word the LORD had spoken in Shiloh against the house of Eli.

28When the news came to Joab, since he had sided with Adonijah, though not with Absalom, he fled to the tent of the LORD and clung to the horns of the altar. 29King Solomon was told, “Joab has fled to the tent of the LORD and is by the altar.” He sent Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, with the order, “Go, strike him down.” 30Benaiah went to the tent of the LORD and said to him, “The king says, ‘Come out.’” But he answered, “No! I will die here.” Benaiah reported to the king, “This is what Joab said to me in reply.” 31The king answered him: “Do as he has said. Strike him down and bury him, and remove from me and from my father’s house the blood which Joab shed without provocation. 32k The LORD will bring blood upon his own head, because he struck down two men better and more just than himself, and slew them with the sword without my father David’s knowledge: Abner, son of Ner, commander of Israel’s army, and Amasa, son of Jether, commander of Judah’s army. 33Their blood will be upon the head of Joab and his descendants. But upon David and his descendants, upon his house and his throne, there shall be peace forever from the LORD.” 34Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, went back, struck him down and killed him; he was buried in his house in the wilderness. 35The king appointed Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, over the army in his place; Zadok the priest the king put in place of Abiathar.

36Then the king summoned Shimei and said to him: “Build yourself a house in Jerusalem and stay there. Do not go anywhere else. 37For the day you leave, and cross the Wadi Kidron, be certain you shall surely die. Your blood shall be upon your own head.” 38Shimei answered the king: “I accept. Your servant will do just as my lord the king has said.” So Shimei stayed in Jerusalem for a long time. 39But three years later, two of Shimei’s servants ran away to Achish, son of Maacah, king of Gath, and Shimei was told, “Your servants are in Gath.” 40So Shimei rose, saddled his donkey, and went to Achish in Gath in search of his servants; and Shimei returned from Gath with his servants. 41When Solomon was told that Shimei had gone from Jerusalem to Gath, and had returned, 42the king summoned Shimei and said to him: “Did I not have you swear by the LORD and warn you clearly, ‘The day you leave and go anywhere else, be certain you shall surely die’? And you answered, ‘I accept and obey.’* 43Why, then, have you not kept the oath of the LORD and the command that I gave you?” 44l And the king said to Shimei: “In your heart you know very well the evil that you did to David my father. Now the LORD is bringing your own evil upon your head. 45But King Solomon shall be blessed, and David’s throne shall be established before the LORD forever.” 46The king then gave the order to Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, who went out and struck him dead.

And the royal power was established in Solomon’s hand.

* [2:59] David urges Solomon to purge Joab and Shimei and supplies him with justification for doing so. Joab had killed Abner (2 Sm 3:2230) and Amasa (2 Sm 20:412), thereby bringing blood guilt upon himself and perhaps upon his master David. Shimei had cursed David (2 Sm 16:58), though David pledged that Shimei would not be killed for it (2 Sm 19:1624). David’s motives, however, may have been more personal. Joab also killed David’s son Absalom and chided David for his untimely public display of grief (2 Sm 18:919:8), and David may have felt himself free of the promise he made to Shimei because that promise was coerced by the presence of Shimei’s thousand partisans backing him at the time.

* [2:1246] The second major unit of the Solomon story shows how Solomon eliminated people he considered threats to the security of his throne. It is marked by a device called “inclusion,” where the text repeats a word, phrase, or idea at the beginning and end of a literary unit (see vv. 12b, 46b). Compare 11:1425, where Solomon is unable to eliminate other threats to his security.

* [2:1725] Abishag had belonged to David’s harem (1:34), which Solomon inherited. Adonijah’s request could imply a challenge to Solomon’s accession and so exposes Adonijah to the suspicion of insurrection that will cost him his life; cf. 2 Sm 3:611; 16:2122.

* [2:26] The narrator indulges in a subtle wordplay: Abiathar’s exile to Anathoth (‘anatot) continues the series of hardships he has endured (hit‘annita).

* [2:4244] In his charge against Shimei, Solomon misrepresents the truth in two ways. He did not make Shimei take an oath. And he imposed capital punishment only on crossing the Wadi Kidron, to the east of Jerusalem. This was presumably to prevent Shimei from returning to his home, Bahurim, which lay in that direction; Gath, however, is southwest of Jerusalem. Solomon’s next words to Shimei reveal that he is really being punished for cursing David, not for violating Solomon’s command.

a. [2:3] Dt 17:1819.

b. [2:4] 2 Sm 7:1116; Ps 132:1112.

c. [2:5] 2 Sm 3:2230; 20:810.

d. [2:7] 2 Sm 17:2729; 19:3241.

e. [2:8] 2 Sm 16:513; 19:1724.

f. [2:10] Acts 2:29.

g. [2:11] 2 Sm 2:14; 5:15.

h. [2:24] 2 Sm 7:1116.

i. [2:26] 1 Sm 22:2023.

j. [2:27] 1 Sm 2:2733.

k. [2:32] 2 Sm 3:2230; 20:810.

l. [2:44] 2 Sm 16:513; 19:1724.

CHAPTER 3

Early Promise of Solomon’s Reign.* 1a Solomon allied himself by marriage with Pharaoh, king of Egypt. He married the daughter of Pharaoh and brought her to the City of David, until he should finish building his own house, and the house of the LORD, and the wall around Jerusalem. 2The people were sacrificing on the high places, however, for up to that time no house had been built for the name of the LORD. 3Although Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father, he offered sacrifice and burned incense on the high places.

4The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, because that was the great high place. Upon its altar Solomon sacrificed a thousand burnt offerings. 5In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night. God said: Whatever you ask I shall give you. 6Solomon answered: “You have shown great kindness to your servant, David my father, because he walked before you with fidelity, justice, and an upright heart; and you have continued this great kindness toward him today, giving him a son to sit upon his throne. 7Now, LORD, my God, you have made me, your servant, king to succeed David my father; but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act— 8I, your servant, among the people you have chosen, a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted. 9Give your servant, therefore, a listening heart to judge your people and to distinguish between good and evil. For who is able to give judgment for this vast people of yours?”

10The Lord was pleased by Solomon’s request. 11So God said to him: Because you asked for this—you did not ask for a long life for yourself, nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies—but you asked for discernment to know what is right— 12I now do as you request. I give you a heart so wise and discerning that there has never been anyone like you until now, nor after you will there be anyone to equal you. 13b In addition, I give you what you have not asked for: I give you such riches and glory that among kings there will be no one like you all your days. 14And if you walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and commandments, as David your father did, I will give you a long life. 15Solomon awoke; it was a dream! He went to Jerusalem, stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, sacrificed burnt offerings and communion offerings, and gave a feast for all his servants.

Solomon’s Listening Heart.* 16Later, two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him. 17One woman said: “By your leave, my lord, this woman and I live in the same house, and I gave birth in the house while she was present. 18On the third day after I gave birth, this woman also gave birth. We were alone; no one else was in the house with us; only the two of us were in the house. 19This woman’s son died during the night when she lay on top of him. 20So in the middle of the night she got up and took my son from my side, as your servant was sleeping. Then she laid him in her bosom and laid her dead son in my bosom. 21I rose in the morning to nurse my son, and he was dead! But when I examined him in the morning light, I saw it was not the son I had borne.” 22The other woman answered, “No! The living one is my son, the dead one is yours.” But the first kept saying, “No! the dead one is your son, the living one is mine!” Thus they argued before the king. 23Then the king said: “One woman claims, ‘This, the living one, is my son, the dead one is yours.’ The other answers, ‘No! The dead one is your son, the living one is mine.’” 24The king continued, “Get me a sword.” When they brought the sword before the king, 25he said, “Cut the living child in two, and give half to one woman and half to the other.” 26* The woman whose son was alive, because she was stirred with compassion for her son, said to the king, “Please, my lord, give her the living baby—do not kill it!” But the other said, “It shall be neither mine nor yours. Cut it in two!” 27The king then answered, “Give her the living baby! Do not kill it! She is the mother.” 28When all Israel heard the judgment the king had given, they were in awe of him, because they saw that the king had in him the wisdom of God for giving right judgment.

* [3:115] The third major unit of the Solomon story depicts the bright beginning of his reign. It includes the narrator’s remarks about Solomon’s marriage and his building projects, and a divine appearance to Solomon. Compare 11:113, where the same themes recur, but in negative fashion. The story of the divine appearance is told also in 2 Chr 1:113.

* [3:165:14] The fourth major unit of the Solomon story shows how Solomon used the three gifts that the Lord gave him in 3:1213: a listening heart (3:1628), riches (4:15:8), universal renown (5:914). In each case his gifts benefited the populace, from the lowest classes (3:1628) to his whole people (4:20; 5:5) to the whole world (5:914). Compare 9:2610:29, where the same three gifts all redound to the benefit of Solomon himself.

* [3:2627] The true mother reveals herself by an uncommon and tender word for the child, “baby.” With this, and the woman’s willingness to give up her child, Solomon realizes that she is the true mother, and quotes her words exactly in rendering his judgment.

a. [3:1] 1 Kgs 7:8; 9:24.

b. [3:13] Eccl 1:1213; Wis 7:711; Mt 6:29.

CHAPTER 4

Solomon’s Riches: Domestic Affairs.* 1Solomon was king over all Israel, 2and these were the officials he had in his service:

Azariah, son of Zadok, the priest;
3Elihoreph and Ahijah, sons of Shisha, scribes;
Jehoshaphat, son of Ahilud, the chancellor;
4Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, in charge of the army;
Zadok and Abiathar, priests;
5Azariah, son of Nathan, in charge of the governors;
Zabud, son of Nathan, priest and companion to the king;
6Ahishar, master of the palace; and
Adoniram, son of Abda, in charge of the forced labor.

7* Solomon had twelve governors over all Israel who supplied food for the king and his household, each having to provide for one month in the year. 8Their names were:*

the son of Hur in the hill country of Ephraim;
9the son of Deker in Makaz, Shaalbim, Beth-shemesh, and Elon Beth-hanan;
10the son of Hesed in Arubboth, as well as in Socoh and the whole region of Hepher;
11the son of Abinadab, in all Naphath-dor; he was married to Taphath, Solomon’s daughter;
12Baana, son of Ahilud, in Taanach and Megiddo and all Beth-shean near Zarethan below Jezreel, from Beth-shean to Abel-meholah to beyond Jokmeam;
13the son of Geber in Ramoth-gilead, having charge of the villages of Jair, son of Manasseh, in Gilead; and of the district of Argob in Bashan—sixty large walled cities with gates barred with bronze;
14Ahinadab, son of Iddo, in Mahanaim;
15Ahimaaz, in Naphtali; he was married to Basemath, another daughter of Solomon;
16Baana, son of Hushai, in Asher and Aloth;
17Jehoshaphat, son of Paruah, in Issachar;
18Shimei, son of Ela, in Benjamin;
19Geber, son of Uri, in the land of Gilead, the land of Sihon, king of the Amorites, and of Og, king of Bashan.

There was one governor besides, in the land of Judah.* 20a Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sands by the sea; they ate and drank and rejoiced.

* [4:15:8] The sub-unit on Solomon’s riches is organized around domestic affairs (4:120) and international affairs (5:15), with a short appendix on Solomon’s horses and chariots (5:68). Compare 9:2610:29, where comparable elements reappear.

* [4:719] The administration of the kingdom thus initiated by Solomon continued in its main features for the duration of the monarchy in Israel and Judah. Note the use of “all Israel” to mean only the northern tribes (see also 5:27). Solomon’s exactions did not fall evenly on the whole people, but favored his own southern tribe of Judah. Eventually this inequity would lead to the dissolution of the union of Israel and Judah (12:119).

* [4:819] Several of the governors are identified only by their fathers’ names.

* [4:19] One governor…land of Judah: the royal territory of Judah had its own peculiar administration different from that of the twelve northern districts, each of which had to supply the king and his household with a month’s provisions of food each year (v. 7).

a. [4:20] Gn 22:17; 32:13; Dn 3:36; Hos 1:10; Heb 11:12.

CHAPTER 5

Solomon’s Riches: International Affairs. 1* Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the River* to the land of the Philistines, down to the border of Egypt; they paid Solomon tribute and served him as long as he lived. 2* Solomon’s provisions for each day were thirty kors of fine flour, sixty kors of meal, 3ten fatted oxen, twenty pasture-fed oxen, and a hundred sheep, not counting harts, gazelles, roebucks, and fatted fowl. 4He had dominion over all the land west of the River, from Tiphsah to Gaza, and all its kings, and he had peace on all his borders round about. 5a Thus Judah and Israel lived in security, everyone under their own vine and fig tree from Dan to Beer-sheba, as long as Solomon lived.

Solomon’s Riches: Chariots and Horses. 6b Solomon had forty thousand stalls for horses for chariots and twelve thousand horsemen. 7* The governors, one for each month, provided food for King Solomon and for all the guests at King Solomon’s table. They left nothing unprovided. 8For the chariot horses and draft animals also, each brought his quota of barley and straw to the required place.

Solomon’s Renown. 9c Moreover, God gave Solomon wisdom, exceptional understanding, and knowledge, as vast as the sand on the seashore. 10Solomon’s wisdom surpassed that of all the peoples of the East and all the wisdom of Egypt. 11He was wiser than anyone else—wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, or Heman, Chalcol, and Darda, the musicians—and his fame spread throughout the neighboring peoples. 12Solomon also uttered three thousand proverbs, and his songs numbered a thousand and five. 13He spoke of plants, from the cedar on Lebanon to the hyssop growing out of the wall, and he spoke about beasts, birds, reptiles, and fishes. 14d People from all nations came to hear Solomon’s wisdom, sent by all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom.

Preparations for the Temple.* 15When Hiram, king of Tyre, heard that Solomon had been anointed king in place of his father, he sent an embassy to him; for Hiram had always been David’s friend.* 16Solomon sent back this message to Hiram: 17e “You know that David my father, because of the wars that beset him, could not build a house for the name of the LORD his God until such time as the LORD should put his enemies under the soles of his feet. 18But now the LORD, my God, has given me rest on all sides, without adversary or misfortune. 19f So I intend to build a house for the name of the LORD, my God, as the LORD said to David my father: Your son whom I will put upon your throne in your place shall build the house for my name. 20Give orders, then, to have cedars from the Lebanon cut down for me. My servants shall accompany yours, and I will pay you whatever you say for your servants’ wages. For you know that there is no one among us who is skilled in cutting timber like the Sidonians.” 21When Hiram had heard the words of Solomon, he was overjoyed, and said, “Blessed be the LORD this day, who has given David a wise son over this numerous people.” 22* Hiram then sent word to Solomon, “I have heard the proposal you sent me, and I will provide all the cedars and fir trees you desire. 23My servants shall bring them down from the Lebanon to the sea, and I will arrange them into rafts in the sea and bring them wherever you say. There I will break up the rafts, and you shall take the lumber. You, for your part, shall furnish the provisions I desire for my household.” 24So Hiram continued to provide Solomon with all the cedars and fir trees he desired, 25while Solomon gave Hiram twenty thousand kors of wheat to provide for his household, and twenty kors* of hand-pressed oil. Solomon gave Hiram all this every year. 26The LORD gave Solomon wisdom as he promised him. So there was peace between Hiram and Solomon, and the two of them made* a covenant.

27King Solomon raised thirty thousand forced laborers from all Israel.* 28He sent them to the Lebanon for a month in relays of ten thousand, so that they spent one month in the Lebanon and two months at home. Adoniram was in charge of the forced labor. 29Solomon had seventy thousand carriers and eighty thousand stonecutters in the mountain, 30in addition to three thousand three hundred overseers answerable to Solomon, who were in charge of the work and directed the people engaged in the work. 31By order of the king, fine, large blocks of stone were quarried to give the house a foundation of hewn stone. 32Solomon’s and Hiram’s builders, along with others from Gebal,* shaped them, and prepared the wood and stones for building the house.

* [5:132] This translation follows the numeration of the Hebrew Bible, rather than the Vulgate; in many English translations, 5:114 is 4:21–34, and 5:15 is 5:1.

* [5:1] The River: that is, the Euphrates. This claim may be exaggerated, but “from the Euphrates to the border of Egypt” was the traditional description of the extent of the Davidic holdings.

* [5:2] The list of Solomon’s supplies may have originally belonged with the list of governors in 4:719, but the author has placed it here to imply that Solomon’s vassal kingdoms, not his own citizenry, supplied his vast daily needs. The daily provisions listed could have supported several thousand people. Kors: see note on Ez 45:14.

* [5:7] This verse suggests that the governors also saw to the provender for Solomon’s animals (v. 8).

* [5:1532] The fifth major unit of the Solomon story explains the preparations Solomon made for the construction of the Temple. He negotiates with Hiram of Tyre for materiel (5:1526), and conscripts a labor force for personnel (5:2732). Compare 9:1123, which returns to the same two themes after the Temple has been built and dedicated. 2 Chr 2:117 presents another version of the same material.

* [5:15] David’s friend: the term “to be a friend,” lit., “to love,” is political, and means that David and Hiram had been allies. The purpose of Hiram’s embassy is to determine whether Solomon is willing to continue the alliance. This unspoken agenda lies behind the negotiations about materials for the Temple, as the concluding v. 26 makes clear.

* [5:2223] Although his reply is couched in polite, diplomatic language, Hiram renegotiates Solomon’s terms in his own favor. No Israelites are to enter Tyrian territory, and Solomon is not to pay the salary of Hiram’s laborers but rather to furnish “provisions” for his household—the same language used of the tribute Solomon received from his own vassals in v. 2.

* [5:25] Twenty kors: this means about two thousand gallons of the finest olive oil available, hand-pressed rather than produced in large olive presses, so that no debris (such as crushed olive pits, powder from the grinding stones) would contaminate the oil. Also see note on 2 Chr 2:9.

* [5:26] Made: lit., “cut.” The story of Solomon’s arrangements with Hiram is framed by references to political alliance between Israel and Tyre (vv. 15, 26). Since, in Hebrew idiom, Hiram and Solomon “cut” a covenant, this suggests that the agreement they reach for “cutting” wood (which clearly favors Hiram) reflects the terms of the larger treaty.

* [5:27] All Israel: see note on 4:719.

* [5:32] Gebal: Byblos.

a. [5:5] Sir 47:13.

b. [5:6] 1 Kgs 10:26; Dt 17:16; 2 Chr 1:14; 9:25.

c. [5:914] Sir 47:1517.

d. [5:14] 1 Kgs 10:1.

e. [5:17] 2 Sm 7:57; 1 Chr 22:78.

f. [5:19] 2 Sm 7:1213.

CHAPTER 6

Building of the Temple.* 1In the four hundred and eightieth year after the Israelites went forth from the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv (the second month), he began to build the house of the LORD.*

2The house which King Solomon built for the LORD was sixty cubits long, twenty wide, and thirty high. 3The porch in front of the nave of the house was twenty cubits from side to side along the width of the house, and ten cubits deep in front of the house. 4Windows with closed lattices were made for the house, 5and adjoining the wall of the house he built a substructure around its walls that enclosed the nave and the inner sanctuary, and he made side chambers all around. 6The lowest story was five cubits wide, the middle one six cubits wide, the third seven cubits wide, because he put recesses along the outside of the house to avoid fastening anything into the walls of the house. 7The house was built of stone dressed at the quarry, so that no hammer or ax, no iron tool, was to be heard in the house during its construction. 8The entrance to the middle story was on the south side of the house; stairs led up to the middle story and from the middle story to the third. 9When he had finished building the house, it was roofed in with rafters and boards of cedar. 10He built the substructure five cubits high all along the outside of the house, to which it was joined by cedar beams.

11The word of the LORD came to Solomon: 12a As to this house you are building—if you walk in my statutes, carry out my ordinances, and observe all my commands, walking in them, I will fulfill toward you my word which I spoke to David your father. 13I will dwell in the midst of the Israelites and will not forsake my people Israel.

14When Solomon finished building the house, 15its inside walls were lined with cedar paneling: he covered the interior with wood from floor to ceiling, and he covered its floor with fir planking. 16At the rear of the house a space of twenty cubits was set off by cedar panels from the floor to the ceiling, enclosing the inner sanctuary, the holy of holies. 17The house was forty cubits long, that is, the nave, the part in front. 18The cedar in the interior of the house was carved in the form of gourds and open flowers; all was of cedar, and no stone was to be seen.

19In the innermost part of the house* he set up the inner sanctuary to house the ark of the LORD’s covenant. 20In front of the inner sanctuary (it was twenty cubits long, twenty wide, and twenty high, and he covered it with pure gold), he made an altar of cedar. 21Solomon covered the interior of the house with pure gold, and he drew golden chains across in front of the inner sanctuary, and covered it with gold. 22He covered the whole house with gold, until the whole house was done, and the whole altar that belonged to the inner sanctuary he covered with gold. 23In the inner sanctuary he made two cherubim, each ten cubits high, made of pine. 24Each wing of a cherub was five cubits so that the span from wing tip to wing tip was ten cubits. 25The second cherub was also ten cubits: the two cherubim were identical in size and shape; 26the first cherub was ten cubits high, and so was the second. 27He placed the cherubim in the inmost part of the house; the wings of the cherubim were spread wide, so that one wing of the first touched the side wall and the wing of the second touched the other wall; the wings pointing to the middle of the room touched each other. 28He overlaid the cherubim with gold.

29The walls of the house on all sides of both the inner and the outer rooms had carved figures of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers. 30The floor of the house of both the inner and the outer rooms was overlaid with gold. 31At the entrance of the inner sanctuary, doors of pine were made; the doorframes had five-sided posts. 32The two doors were of pine, with carved figures of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers. The doors were overlaid with gold, and the cherubim and the palm trees were also covered with beaten gold. 33He did the same at the entrance to the nave, where the doorposts were of pine and were four-sided. 34The two doors were of fir wood, each door consisting of two panels hinged together; 35and he carved cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers, and plated them with gold. 36He walled off the inner court with three courses of hewn stones and one course of cedar beams.

37The foundations of the LORD’s house were laid in the month of Ziv in the fourth year, 38and it was finished, in all particulars, exactly according to plan, in the month of Bul, the eighth month, in the eleventh year. Thus Solomon built it in seven years.

* [6:17:51] The central units of the Solomon story describe the building of the Temple (6:17:51) and its dedication ceremony (8:19:10). The account of the construction of the Temple (“the house”) is organized to give the reader a guided tour. Approaching from a distance, we see ground plans (6:23) and structural work in stone (6:48) and wood (6:910). After a brief interruption that recounts a divine word to Solomon (6:1113), we enter the Temple to view the paneling and ornamentation of the nave (6:1418), the gilded walls and golden entrance of the inner sanctuary or holy of holies (6:1922), with its priceless interior decoration and furnishings (6:2328). As we leave, we admire the interior carvings and gilded floor of the inner sanctuary (6:2930), return to the nave through carved and gilded doors (6:3132), and exit from the nave through another set of carved and gilded doors (6:3335) to the courtyard (6:36). Our guide briefly points out the nearby palace complex (7:112); then we walk around the courtyard to marvel at Hiram’s heroic works in bronze: the two columns (7:1522), the “sea” (7:2326), and the ten stands and basins set along either side of the Temple buildings (7:2739). The account ends with the smaller bronze vessels Hiram made for the Temple services (7:4047) and the gold vessels that Solomon made (7:4850). Unfortunately, several factors make it impossible to use the account to produce a satisfactory model of Solomon’s Temple. Throughout the account there are numerous technical architectural terms whose meaning is lost to us; and it is moreover likely that the author is describing the Temple as it stood in his own time, centuries after Solomon’s day. The Chronicler also describes the construction of the Temple in 2 Chr 3:14:22 and its dedication in 2 Chr 5:17:22.

* [6:1] Construction of the Temple is here dated in relation to the traditional date of the exodus from Egypt, rounded off to a conventional twelve generations of forty years each. This chronology means that the Temple was built approximately midway between Israel’s two foundational deliverances, the exodus and the return from the Babylonian exile. The schematization of history implied in these figures recommends caution in using them for historical reconstruction.

* [6:19] The innermost part of the house: the inner sanctuary or holy of holies reserved exclusively for the Lord, enthroned upon the cherubim over the ark of the covenant (2 Chr 3:1013). See note on Ex 25:1820.

a. [6:12] 2 Sm 7:1316.

CHAPTER 7

1* a To finish the building of his own house Solomon took thirteen years. 2He built the House of the Forest of Lebanon one hundred cubits long, fifty wide, and thirty high; it was supported by four rows of cedar columns, with cedar beams upon the columns. 3Moreover, it had a ceiling of cedar above the rafters resting on the columns; these rafters numbered forty-five, fifteen to a row. 4There were lattices in three rows, each row facing the next, 5and all the openings and doorposts were squared with lintels, each facing across from the next. 6He also made the Porch of Columns, fifty cubits long and thirty wide. The porch extended across the front, and there were columns with a canopy in front of them. 7He also made the Porch of the Throne where he gave judgment—that is, the Porch of Judgment; it was paneled with cedar from floor to ceiling beams. 8b The house in which he lived was in another court, set in deeper than the Porch and of the same construction. (Solomon made a house like this Porch for Pharaoh’s daughter, whom he had married.)* 9All these buildings were of fine stones, hewn to size and trimmed front and back with a saw, from the foundation to the bonding course and outside as far as the great court. 10The foundation was made of fine, large blocks, some ten cubits and some eight cubits. 11Above were fine stones hewn to size, and cedar wood. 12The great court had three courses of hewn stones all around and a course of cedar beams. So also were the inner court of the house of the LORD and its porch.

13King Solomon brought Hiram* from Tyre. 14He was a bronze worker, the son of a widow from the tribe of Naphtali; his father had been from Tyre. He was endowed with wisdom, understanding, and knowledge for doing any work in bronze. He came to King Solomon and did all his metal work.

15* c He fashioned two bronze columns, each eighteen cubits high and twelve cubits in circumference. 16He also made two capitals cast in bronze, to be placed on top of the columns, each of them five cubits high. 17There were meshes made like netting and braid made like chains for the capitals on top of the columns, seven for each capital. 18* He also cast pomegranates, two rows around each netting to cover the capital on top of the columns. 19The capitals on top of the columns (in the porch) were made like lilies, four cubits high. 20And the capitals on the two columns, both above and adjoining the bulge where it crossed out of the netting, had two hundred pomegranates in rows around each capital. 21He set up the columns at the temple porch; one he set up to the south, and called it Jachin, and the other to the north, and called it Boaz.* 22The top of the columns was made like a lily. Thus the work on the columns was completed.

23Then he made the molten sea;* it was made with a circular rim, and measured ten cubits across, five in height, and thirty in circumference. 24Under the brim, gourds encircled it for ten cubits around the compass of the sea; the gourds were in two rows and were cast in one mold with the sea. 25This rested on twelve oxen, three facing north, three facing west, three facing south, and three facing east, with their haunches all toward the center; upon them was set the sea. 26It was a handbreadth thick, and its brim resembled that of a cup, being lily-shaped. Its capacity was two thousand baths.*

27He also made ten stands of bronze, each four cubits long, four wide, and three high. 28When these stands were constructed, panels were set within the framework. 29On the panels within the frames there were lions, oxen, and cherubim; and on the frames likewise, above and below the lions and oxen, there were wreaths in hammered relief. 30Each stand had four bronze wheels and bronze axles. The four legs of each stand had cast braces, which were under the basin; they had wreaths on each side. 31The mouth of the basin was inside, and a cubit above, the crown, whose opening was round, made like a receptacle, a cubit and a half in depth. There was carved work at the opening, on panels that were square, not circular. 32The four wheels were below the paneling, and the axletrees of the wheels and the stand were of one piece. Each wheel was a cubit and a half high. 33The wheels were constructed like chariot wheels; their axletrees, rims, spokes, and hubs were all cast. 34The four braces reached the four corners of each stand, and formed part of the stand. 35At the top of the stand there was a raised collar half a cubit high, and the handles and panels on top of the stand formed part of it. 36On the flat ends of the handles and on the panels, wherever there was a bare space, cherubim, lions, and palm trees were carved, as well as wreaths all around. 37This was how he made the ten stands, all of the same casting, the same size, the same shape. 38He made ten bronze basins, each four cubits in diameter with a capacity of forty baths, one basin atop each of the ten stands.

39He placed the stands, five on the south side of the house and five on the north. The sea he placed off to the southeast from the south side of the house.

40When Hiram had made the pots, shovels, and bowls, he finished all his work for King Solomon in the house of the LORD: 41two columns; two nodes for the capitals on top of the columns; two pieces of netting covering the two nodes for the capitals on top of the columns; 42four hundred pomegranates in double rows on both pieces of netting that covered the two nodes of the capitals on top of the columns; 43ten stands; ten basins on the stands; 44one sea; twelve oxen supporting the sea; 45pots, shovels, and bowls. All these articles which Hiram made for King Solomon in the house of the LORD were of burnished bronze. 46The king had them cast in the neighborhood of the Jordan, between Succoth and Zarethan, in thick clay molds. 47Solomon did not weigh all the articles because they were so numerous; the weight of the bronze, therefore, was not determined.

48Solomon made all the articles that were for the house of the LORD: the golden altar; the table on which the showbread lay; 49the lampstands of pure gold, five to the right and five to the left before the inner sanctuary; their flowers, lamps, and tongs of gold; 50basins, snuffers, bowls, cups, and firepans of pure gold; hinges of gold for the doors of the innermost part of the house, or holy of holies, and for the doors of the outer room, the nave. 51d When all the work undertaken by King Solomon in the house of the LORD was completed,* he brought in the votive offerings of his father David, and put the silver, gold, and other articles in the treasuries of the house of the LORD.

* [7:112] The account of Solomon’s building of the Temple (the Lord’s “house”) is interrupted by an account of his building of the palace (Solomon’s “house”), which contained also the main buildings of public administration. The passage is anachronistic, since 6:387:1 and 9:10 imply that the palace was not begun until the Temple was completed. By placing the account here, the narrator highlights the fact that Solomon spent almost twice as long on his own “house” as on the Lord’s.

* [7:8] Solomon did not build the house for Pharaoh’s daughter until Temple and palace were finished (3:1). By mentioning this marriage, the narrator keeps before the reader a developing theme in the Solomon story: the king’s building activities for his foreign wives, which eventually implicate him in idolatry (3:1; 7:8; 9:24; 11:18).

* [7:13] Hiram: a craftsman, not the king of Tyre (5:1526).

* [7:15] The two bronze columns were called Jachin and Boaz (v. 21; also 2 Chr 3:17); the significance of the names is unclear. The columns stood to the right and left of the Temple porch, and may have been intended to mark the entrance to the building as the entrance to God’s private dwelling. Their extraordinary size and elaborate decoration would have made them the most impressive parts of the Temple visible to the ordinary viewer, who was not permitted into the nave, let alone into the innermost sanctuary. According to Jer 52:21, the columns were hollow, the bronze exterior being “four fingers thick.”

* [7:1820] The Hebrew text is corrupt in many places here, and alternative readings attested in the ancient versions are secondary attempts to make sense of the text. A clearer description of the columns and their decoration is found in vv. 4142.

* [7:21] Jachin…Boaz: see note on 7:15.

* [7:2326] The molten sea: this was a large circular tank containing about twelve thousand gallons of water.

* [7:26] Baths: see note on Is 5:10.

* [7:51] The account of the Temple’s construction has been punctuated by references to “building” (banah) or “finishing” (killah) it (6:1b, 9a, 14, 38; 7:40). Here, at the end of the account, the narrator uses a different verb for its “completion,” shillem, which allows him to play on the name of Solomon (shelomo).

a. [7:1] 1 Kgs 9:10.

b. [7:8] 1 Kgs 3:1; 9:24.

c. [7:1518] Jer 52:2123.

d. [7:51] 2 Sm 8:912.

CHAPTER 8

Dedication of the Temple.* 1Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the princes in the ancestral houses of the Israelites. They came to King Solomon in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the LORD’s covenant from the city of David (which is Zion). 2All the people of Israel assembled before King Solomon during the festival in the month of Ethanim (the seventh month).* 3When all the elders of Israel had arrived, the priests took up the ark; 4and they brought up the ark of the LORD and the tent of meeting with all the sacred vessels that were in the tent. The priests and Levites brought them up. 5King Solomon and the entire community of Israel, gathered for the occasion before the ark, sacrificed sheep and oxen too many to number or count. 6* The priests brought the ark of the covenant of the LORD to its place, the inner sanctuary of the house, the holy of holies, beneath the wings of the cherubim. 7The cherubim had their wings spread out over the place of the ark, sheltering the ark and its poles from above. 8a The poles were so long that their ends could be seen from the holy place in front of the inner sanctuary. They cannot be seen from outside, but they remain there to this day. 9b There was nothing in the ark but the two stone tablets which Moses had put there at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the Israelites after they went forth from the land of Egypt. 10c When the priests left the holy place, the cloud filled the house of the LORD 11so that the priests could no longer minister because of the cloud, since the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD. 12* d Then Solomon said,

“The LORD intends to dwell in the dark cloud;

13I have indeed built you a princely house,

the base for your enthronement forever.”

14The king turned and blessed the whole assembly of Israel, while the whole assembly of Israel stood. 15He said: “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who with his own mouth spoke a promise to David my father and by his hand fulfilled it, saying: 16e Since the day I brought my people Israel out of Egypt, I have not chosen a city out of any tribe of Israel for the building of a house, that my name might be there; but I have chosen David to rule my people Israel. 17When David my father wished to build a house for the name of the LORD, the God of Israel, 18the LORD said to him: In wishing to build a house for my name, you did well. 19But it is not you who will build the house, but your son, who comes from your loins; he shall build the house for my name. 20Now the LORD has fulfilled the word he spoke: I have succeeded David my father, and I sit on the throne of Israel, as the LORD has spoken, and I have built this house for the name of the LORD, the God of Israel. 21I have provided there a place for the ark in which is the covenant of the LORD that he made with our ancestors when he brought them out of the land of Egypt.”

Solomon’s Prayer. 22Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of the whole assembly of Israel, and stretching forth his hands toward heaven, 23he said, “LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below; you keep covenant and love toward your servants who walk before you with their whole heart, 24the covenant that you kept toward your servant, David my father, what you promised him; your mouth has spoken and your hand has fulfilled this very day. 25f And now, LORD, God of Israel, keep toward your servant, David my father, what you promised: There shall never be wanting someone from your line to sit before me on the throne of Israel, provided that your descendants keep to their way, walking before me as you have. 26Now, God of Israel, may the words you spoke to your servant, David my father, be confirmed.

27“Is God indeed to dwell on earth? If the heavens and the highest heavens cannot contain you, how much less this house which I have built! 28Regard kindly the prayer and petition of your servant, LORD, my God, and listen to the cry of supplication which I, your servant, utter before you this day. 29May your eyes be open night and day toward this house, the place of which you said, My name shall be there; listen to the prayer your servant makes toward this place. 30Listen to the petition of your servant and of your people Israel which they offer toward this place. Listen, from the place of your enthronement, heaven, listen and forgive.

31g “If someone sins in some way against a neighbor and is required to take an oath sanctioned by a curse, and comes and takes the oath before your altar in this house, 32listen in heaven; act and judge your servants. Condemn the wicked, requiting their ways; acquit the just, rewarding their justice.

33“When your people Israel are defeated by an enemy because they sinned against you, and then they return to you, praise your name, pray to you, and entreat you in this house, 34listen in heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel, and bring them back to the land you gave their ancestors.

35“When the heavens are closed, so that there is no rain, because they have sinned against you, but they pray toward this place and praise your name, and turn from their sin because you have afflicted them, 36listen in heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel (for you teach them the good way in which they should walk). Give rain to this land of yours which you have given to your people as their heritage.

37“If there is famine in the land or pestilence; or if blight comes, or mildew, or locusts, or caterpillars; if an enemy of your people presses upon them in the land and at their gates; whatever plague or sickness there may be; 38whatever prayer or petition any may make, any of your people Israel, who know heartfelt remorse and stretch out their hands toward this house, 39listen in heaven, the place of your enthronement; forgive and take action. Render to each and all according to their ways, you who know every heart; for it is you alone who know the heart of every human being. 40So may they revere you as long as they live on the land you gave our ancestors.

41“To the foreigners, likewise, who are not of your people Israel, but who come from a distant land for the sake of your name 42(since people will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm), when they come and pray toward this house, 43listen in heaven, the place of your enthronement. Do all that the foreigner asks of you, that all the peoples of the earth may know your name, may revere you as do your people Israel, and may know that your name has been invoked upon this house that I have built.

44“When your people go out to war against their enemies, by whatever way you send them, and they pray to the LORD toward the city you have chosen and the house I have built for your name, 45listen in heaven to their prayer and petition, and uphold their cause.

46h “When they sin against you (for there is no one who does not sin), and in your anger against them you deliver them to an enemy, so that their captors carry them off to the land of the enemy, far or near, 47and they have a change of heart in the land of their captivity and they turn and entreat you in the land of their captors and say, ‘We have sinned and done wrong; we have been wicked’; 48if with their whole heart and soul they turn back to you in the land of their enemies who took them captive, and pray to you toward the land you gave their ancestors, the city you have chosen, and the house I have built for your name, 49listen in heaven, your dwelling place, to their prayer and petition, and uphold their cause. 50Forgive your people who have sinned against you and all the offenses they have committed against you, and grant them mercy in the sight of their captors, so that these will be merciful to them. 51For they are your people and your heritage, whom you brought out of Egypt, from the midst of the iron furnace.

52“Thus may your eyes be open to the petition of your servant and to the petition of your people Israel; thus may you listen to them whenever they call upon you. 53For you have set them apart from all the peoples of the earth to be your heritage, as you declared through Moses your servant when you brought our ancestors out of Egypt, Lord my GOD.”

54After Solomon finished offering this entire prayer and petition to the LORD, he rose from before the altar of the LORD, where he had been kneeling, hands outstretched toward heaven. 55He stood and blessed the whole assembly of Israel, saying in a loud voice: 56“Blessed be the LORD who has given rest to his people Israel, just as he promised. Not a single word has gone unfulfilled of the entire gracious promise he made through Moses his servant. 57May the LORD, our God, be with us as he was with our ancestors and may he not forsake us nor cast us off. 58May he draw our hearts to himself, that we may walk in his ways and keep the commands, statutes, and ordinances that he enjoined on our ancestors. 59May these words of mine, the petition I have offered before the LORD, our God, be present to the LORD our God day and night, that he may uphold the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel as each day requires, 60so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and there is no other. 61* Your heart must be wholly devoted to the LORD, our God, observing his statutes and keeping his commandments, as on this day.”

62The king and all Israel with him offered sacrifices before the LORD. 63* Solomon offered as communion offerings to the LORD twenty-two thousand oxen and one hundred twenty thousand sheep. Thus the king and all the Israelites dedicated the house of the LORD. 64On that day the king consecrated the middle of the court facing the house of the LORD; he offered there the burnt offerings, the grain offerings, and the fat of the communion offerings, because the bronze altar before the LORD was too small to hold the burnt offering, the grain offering, and the fat of the communion offering. 65On this occasion Solomon and all Israel with him, a great assembly from Lebo-hamath to the Wadi of Egypt, celebrated the festival before the LORD, our God, for seven days. 66On the eighth day he dismissed the people, who blessed the king and went to their tents, rejoicing and glad of heart because of all the blessings the LORD had given to David his servant and to his people Israel.

* [8:166] The account of the Temple’s dedication ceremony is organized concentrically: Solomon gathers the assembly (vv. 113), blesses it (vv. 1421), utters a long dedicatory prayer (vv. 2253), blesses the assembly again (vv. 5461), and dismisses it (vv. 6266). To this account is appended an appearance of the Lord to Solomon (9:29) that balances the divine word to Solomon in the account of the Temple’s construction (6:1113).

* [8:2] “The seventh month” (“Ethanim” in the Canaanite calendar) corresponded to late September/early October. The great festival at that time of year is the feast of Booths, or Succoth/Sukkoth (see Lv 23:3343; Dt 16:1315). The feast was important enough to warrant holding the dedication ceremony either a month before or eleven months after the Temple was completed in the eighth month (6:38).

* [8:69] The transfer of the ark of the covenant into the newly constructed Temple building, God’s act of possession (8:1013), and Solomon’s dedicatory prayer and sacrifices constituted the Temple’s solemn dedication and made of it the place of God’s presence in the midst of Israel for which David had hoped (2 Sm 6:1215; 7:13). Later God expresses approval of the Temple with an oracle (1 Kgs 9:39).

* [8:1213] This brief poem is rich in layered meanings. The “dark cloud” in which the Lord intends to dwell refers not only to the cloud that filled the Temple (v. 10) but to the darkness of the windowless holy of holies and to the mystery of the God enthroned invisibly upon the cherubim as well. Solomon calls the Temple he offers God a firm base, using terminology similar to that used for God’s firm establishment of Solomon’s own kingdom (2:12, 46). Finally, Solomon intends this as a place for God to yashab, but the Hebrew word yashab can mean “to dwell” or “to sit.” In other words, the Temple can be understood both as a place where God resides and as the earthly foundation of God’s heavenly throne. The double meaning allows an understanding of the divine presence as both transcendent and graciously immanent. See Solomon’s sentiments in 8:27, and the frequent reference in 8:3052 to God’s hearing in heaven prayers that were offered in or toward the Temple.

* [8:61] In urging the people to be “wholly devoted” (shalem), Solomon plays on his own name (shelomo), as if to imply that he himself exemplifies perfect fidelity to God.

* [8:63] “Communion offerings” (shelamim) is another wordplay on the name of Solomon.

a. [8:8] Ex 25:1315.

b. [8:9] Ex 25:16; 34:2728; Dt 10:5; Heb 9:4.

c. [8:10] Ex 13:21; 40:3438.

d. [8:12] Ex 20:21; Dt 4:11; 5:22; Ps 97:2.

e. [8:1619] 2 Sm 7:58, 1213.

f. [8:25] 1 Kgs 2:4; 9:5; 2 Sm 7:1416; Jer 33:17.

g. [8:31] Ex 22:610.

h. [8:46] Eccl 7:20; 1 Jn 1:8.

CHAPTER 9

Promise and Warning to Solomon. 1After Solomon finished building the house of the LORD, the house of the king, and everything else that he wanted to do, 2a the LORD appeared to Solomon a second time, as he had appeared to him in Gibeon. 3The LORD said to him: I have heard the prayer of petition which you offered in my presence. I have consecrated this house which you have built and I set my name there forever; my eyes and my heart shall be there always. 4As for you, if you walk before me as David your father did, wholeheartedly and uprightly, doing all that I have commanded you, keeping my statutes and ordinances, 5b I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father: There shall never be wanting someone from your line on the throne of Israel. 6But if ever you and your descendants turn from following me, fail to keep my commandments and statutes which I set before you, and proceed to serve other gods and bow down to them, 7I will cut off Israel from the land I gave them and repudiate the house I have consecrated for my name. Israel shall become a proverb and a byword among all nations, 8c and this house shall become a heap of ruins. Every passerby shall gasp in horror and ask, “Why has the LORD done such things to this land and to this house?” 9And the answer will come: “Because they abandoned the LORD, their God, who brought their ancestors out of the land of Egypt, and they embraced other gods, bowing down to them and serving them. That is why the LORD has brought upon them all this evil.”

After Building the Temple.* 10d After the twenty years during which Solomon built the two houses, the house of the LORD and the house of the king— 11Hiram, king of Tyre, supplying Solomon with all the cedar wood, fir wood, and gold he wished, and King Solomon giving Hiram in return twenty cities in the land of Galilee— 12Hiram left Tyre to see the cities Solomon had given him, but he was not satisfied with them. 13So he said, “What are these cities you have given me, my brother?”* And he called them the land of Cabul, as they are called to this day. 14Hiram, however, had sent King Solomon one hundred and twenty talents of gold.*

15This is an account of the conscript labor force King Solomon raised in order to build the house of the LORD, his own house, Millo,* the wall of Jerusalem, Hazor, Megiddo, Gezer 16(Pharaoh, king of Egypt, had come up and taken Gezer and, after destroying it by fire and slaying all the Canaanites living in the city, had given it as a farewell gift to his daughter, Solomon’s wife; 17Solomon then rebuilt Gezer), Lower Beth-horon, 18Baalath, Tamar in the desert of Judah, 19all his cities for supplies, cities for chariots and cities for cavalry, and whatever Solomon desired to build in Jerusalem, in Lebanon, and in the entire land under his dominion. 20All the people who were left of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, who were not Israelites— 21those of their descendants who were left in the land and whom the Israelites had not been able to destroy under the ban—these Solomon conscripted as forced laborers, as they are to this day. 22But Solomon made none of the Israelites forced laborers, for they were his fighting force, his ministers, commanders, adjutants, chariot officers, and cavalry. 23There were five hundred fifty overseers answerable to Solomon’s governors for the work, directing the people engaged in the work.

24e As soon as Pharaoh’s daughter went up from the City of David to her house, which he had built for her, Solomon built Millo. 25Three times a year Solomon used to offer burnt offerings and communion offerings on the altar which he had built to the LORD, and to burn incense before the LORD.

Thus he completed the temple.*

Solomon’s Gifts.* 26King Solomon also built a fleet at Ezion-geber, which is near Elath on the shore of the Red Sea in the land of Edom.* 27To this fleet Hiram sent his own servants, expert sailors, with the servants of Solomon. 28They went to Ophir, and obtained four hundred and twenty talents of gold and brought it to King Solomon.

* [9:1025] This unit of the Solomon story corresponds to 5:1532. It comprises the same two themes, negotiations with Hiram of Tyre (vv. 1014) and use of conscripted labor (vv. 1523); the last two verses mark the end of the account of Solomon’s building projects (vv. 2425). Chronicles has an incomplete parallel in 2 Chr 8:113.

* [9:13] Brother: a term for a treaty partner; cf. 20:3233. Cabul: the meaning is uncertain; perhaps “of no value.”

* [9:14] The talent was a measure of weight that varied in the course of ancient Israel’s history from forty-five to one hundred thirty pounds. This would mean that, at the least, Hiram sent five thousand pounds of gold to Solomon, and the figure may be as much as three times that amount.

* [9:15] Millo: probably means ground fill, and may refer to an artificial earthwork or platform of stamped ground south of the Temple area. It was begun by David (2 Sm 5:9); cf. 1 Kgs 9:24; 11:27.

* [9:25] With these words the account of the construction and dedication of the Temple, which began in 6:1, comes to a close. The verb “complete” (shillem) is a play on Solomon’s name (shelomo); see also the note on 7:51.

* [9:2610:29] The next major unit of the Solomon story returns to the theme of the three gifts the Lord gave Solomon in 3:1213: a listening heart (10:113), riches (9:2627; 10:1422, 2629), universal renown (10:2325). In 3:165:14, where the same three themes structure the passage, the emphasis was on the benefits these gifts brought to the whole nation; here it is on the luxury they afford to Solomon’s own court. The material in 9:2628; 10:1112, 22 dealing with Solomon’s commercial fleet corresponds to the material on Solomon’s international affairs in 5:15. Chronicles has a partial parallel to this material in 2 Chr 9:1728; see also 2 Chr 1:1417.

* [9:26] Ezion-geber…Edom: the first mention of maritime commerce in the Israelite kingdom; Edom was subject after David conquered it; cf. 2 Sm 8:1314.

a. [9:2] 1 Kgs 3:415; 6:1113; 11:913.

b. [9:5] 2 Sm 7:16.

c. [9:8] Dt 29:23; Jer 22:8.

d. [9:10] 1 Kgs 6:387:1.

e. [9:24] 1 Kgs 3:1; 7:8.

CHAPTER 10

Solomon’s Listening Heart: the Queen of Sheba.* 1a The queen of Sheba,* having heard a report of Solomon’s fame, came to test him with subtle questions. 2She arrived in Jerusalem with a very numerous retinue, and with camels bearing spices, a large amount of gold, and precious stones. She came to Solomon and spoke to him about everything that she had on her mind. 3King Solomon explained everything she asked about, and there was nothing so obscure that the king could not explain it to her. 4When the queen of Sheba witnessed Solomon’s great wisdom, the house he had built, 5the food at his table, the seating of his ministers, the attendance and dress of his waiters, his servers, and the burnt offerings he offered in the house of the LORD, it took her breath away. 6“The report I heard in my country about your deeds and your wisdom is true,” she told the king. 7“I did not believe the report until I came and saw with my own eyes that not even the half had been told me. Your wisdom and prosperity surpass the report I heard. 8Happy are your servants, happy these ministers of yours, who stand before you always and listen to your wisdom. 9Blessed be the LORD, your God, who has been pleased to place you on the throne of Israel. In his enduring love for Israel, the LORD has made you king to carry out judgment and justice.” 10Then she gave the king one hundred and twenty gold talents, a very large quantity of spices, and precious stones. Never again did anyone bring such an abundance of spices as the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.

11Hiram’s fleet, which used to bring gold from Ophir, also brought from there a very large quantity of almug* wood and precious stones. 12With this wood the king made supports for the house of the LORD and for the house of the king, and harps and lyres for the singers. Never again was any such almug wood brought or seen to the present day.

13King Solomon gave the queen of Sheba everything she desired and asked for, besides what King Solomon gave her from Solomon’s royal bounty. Then she returned with her servants to her own country.

Solomon’s Riches: Domestic Affairs.* 14b The gold that came to Solomon in one year weighed six hundred and sixty-six gold talents, 15in addition to what came from the tolls on travelers, from the traffic of merchants, and from all the kings of Arabia and the governors of the country. 16c King Solomon made two hundred shields of beaten gold (six hundred shekels of gold went into each shield) 17and three hundred bucklers of beaten gold (three minas of gold went into each buckler); and the king put them in the house of the Forest of Lebanon. 18The king made a large ivory throne, and overlaid it with refined gold. 19The throne had six steps, a back with a round top, and an arm on each side of the seat, with two lions standing next to the arms, 20and twelve other lions standing there on the steps, two to a step, one on either side of each step. Nothing like this was made in any other kingdom. 21All King Solomon’s drinking vessels were gold, and all the utensils in the house of the Forest of Lebanon were pure gold. There was no silver, for in Solomon’s time silver was reckoned as nothing. 22For the king had a fleet of Tarshish ships* at sea with Hiram’s fleet. Once every three years the fleet of Tarshish ships would come with a cargo of gold, silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks.

Solomon’s Renown. 23Thus King Solomon surpassed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom. 24And the whole world sought audience with Solomon, to hear the wisdom God had put into his heart. 25They all brought their yearly tribute: vessels of silver and gold, garments, weapons, spices, horses and mules—what was due each year.

Solomon’s Riches: Chariots and Horses. 26d Solomon amassed chariots and horses; he had one thousand four hundred chariots and twelve thousand horses; these he allocated among the chariot cities and to the king’s service in Jerusalem. 27e The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones, and cedars as numerous as the sycamores of the Shephelah. 28Solomon’s horses were imported from Egypt and from Cilicia, where the king’s merchants purchased them. 29A chariot imported from Egypt cost six hundred shekels of silver, a horse one hundred and fifty shekels; they were exported at these rates to all the Hittite and Aramean kings.

* [10:113] The sub-unit on Solomon’s wisdom contrasts with 3:1628. There Solomon’s gifts led him to listen to the humblest of his subjects; he accomplished justice and was revered by all his people. Here the emphasis is on his clever speech to a foreign monarch. She is duly impressed by the glory of his court, but it is she, not Solomon, who recalls the monarch’s duty of establishing justice (v. 9). The unit is interrupted briefly by a remark about Solomon’s maritime commerce (10:1112).

* [10:1] Queen of Sheba: women rulers among the Arabs are recorded in eighth-century B.C. Assyrian inscriptions. Sheba was for centuries the leading principality in what is now Yemen.

* [10:1112] Almug: the identification of this wood is unknown.

* [10:1429] The material on Solomon’s riches, like that in 4:15:8, is organized around domestic affairs, international affairs, and chariots and horses (see note on 4:15:8), but contrasts with that earlier passage. There, Solomon’s domestic administration produced prosperity for all Judah and Israel (4:20); here the focus is on the wealth and luxury of Solomon’s own palace (10:1421). There his international hegemony assured peace for all Judah and Israel (5:5); here his maritime ventures simply bring him more and more wealth (9:2628; 10:1112, 22). There even his livestock benefited from his prudent administration; here chariotry and horses are just another commodity to be traded (10:2629).

* [10:22] Tarshish ships: large, strong vessels for long voyages. Tarshish was probably the ancient Tartessus, a Phoenician colony in southern Spain. Ivory, apes, and peacocks: the Hebrew words are obscure and the translations conjectural; however, the reference is certainly to exotic luxury items.

a. [10:1] Mt 12:42; Lk 11:31.

b. [10:14] Dt 17:17; Sir 47:18.

c. [10:16] 1 Kgs 14:2628; 2 Sm 8:7.

d. [10:26] 1 Kgs 5:6; Dt 17:16; 2 Chr 1:14; 9:25.

e. [10:27] Dt 17:17; Sir 47:18.

CHAPTER 11

The End of Solomon’s Reign.* 1a King Solomon loved many foreign women besides the daughter of Pharaoh—Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, Hittites— 2b from nations of which the LORD had said to the Israelites: You shall not join with them and they shall not join with you, lest they turn your hearts to their gods. But Solomon held them* close in love. 3He had as wives seven hundred princesses and three hundred concubines, and they turned his heart.

4When Solomon was old his wives had turned his heart to follow other gods, and his heart was not entirely with the LORD, his God, as the heart of David his father had been. 5Solomon followed Astarte, the goddess of the Sidonians, and Milcom, the abomination of the Ammonites. 6Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and he did not follow the LORD unreservedly as David his father had done. 7Solomon then built a high place to Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, and to Molech, the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain opposite Jerusalem. 8He did the same for all his foreign wives who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods.

9c The LORD became angry with Solomon, because his heart turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice 10and commanded him not to do this very thing, not to follow other gods. But he did not observe what the LORD commanded. 11So the LORD said to Solomon: Since this is what you want, and you have not kept my covenant and the statutes which I enjoined on you, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to your servant. 12d But I will not do this during your lifetime, for the sake of David your father; I will tear it away from your son’s hand. 13Nor will I tear away the whole kingdom. I will give your son one tribe for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.

Threats to Solomon’s Kingdom.* 14The LORD then raised up an adversary* against Solomon: Hadad the Edomite, who was of the royal line in Edom. 15e Earlier, when David had conquered Edom, Joab, the commander of the army, while going to bury the slain, killed every male in Edom. 16Joab and all Israel remained there six months until they had killed off every male in Edom. 17But Hadad, with some Edomite servants of his father, fled toward Egypt. Hadad was then a young boy. 18They left Midian and came to Paran; they gathered men from Paran and came to Egypt, to Pharaoh, king of Egypt; he gave Hadad a house, appointed him rations, and assigned him land. 19Hadad won great favor with Pharaoh, so that he gave him in marriage his sister-in-law, the sister of Queen Tahpenes, his own wife. 20Tahpenes’ sister bore Hadad a son, Genubath. Tahpenes weaned him in Pharaoh’s palace. And Genubath lived in Pharaoh’s house, with Pharaoh’s own sons. 21When Hadad in Egypt heard that David rested with his ancestors and that Joab, the commander of the army, was dead, he said to Pharaoh, “Give me leave to return to my own land.” 22Pharaoh said to him, “What do you lack with me, that you are seeking to return to your own land?” He answered, “Nothing, but please let me go!”

23God raised up against Solomon another adversary, Rezon, the son of Eliada, who had fled from his lord, Hadadezer, king of Zobah, 24f when David was slaughtering them. Rezon gathered men about him and became leader of a marauding band. They went to Damascus, settled there, and made him king in Damascus. 25Rezon was an adversary of Israel as long as Solomon lived, in addition to the harm done by Hadad, and he felt contempt for Israel. He became king over Aram.

Ahijah Announces Jeroboam’s Kingship.* 26Solomon had a servant, Jeroboam, son of Nebat, an Ephraimite from Zeredah with a widowed mother named Zeruah. He rebelled against the king. 27This is how he came to rebel. King Solomon was building Millo, closing up the breach of the City of David, his father. 28Jeroboam was a very able man, and when Solomon saw that the young man was also a good worker, he put him in charge of all the carriers conscripted from the house of Joseph.

29At that time Jeroboam left Jerusalem, and the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite met him on the road. The prophet was wearing a new cloak,* and when the two were alone in the open country, 30g Ahijah took off his new cloak, tore it into twelve pieces, 31h and said to Jeroboam: “Take ten pieces for yourself. Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: I am about to tear the kingdom out of Solomon’s hand and will give you ten of the tribes. 32He shall have one tribe for the sake of my servant David, and for the sake of Jerusalem, the city I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel. 33For they have forsaken me and have bowed down to Astarte, goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh, god of Moab, and Milcom, god of the Ammonites. They have not walked in my ways or done what is right in my eyes, according to my statutes and my ordinances, as David his father did. 34Yet I will not take any of the kingdom from Solomon himself, but will keep him a prince as long as he lives, for the sake of David my servant, whom I have chosen, who kept my commandments and statutes.

35But I will take the kingdom from his son’s hand and give it to you—that is, the ten tribes. 36I will give his son one tribe, that David my servant may always have a holding before me in Jerusalem, the city I have chosen, to set my name there. 37You I will take and you shall reign over all that you desire and shall become king of Israel. 38If, then, you heed all that I command you, walking in my ways, and do what is right in my eyes by keeping my statutes and my commandments like David my servant, I will be with you. I will build a lasting house for you, just as I did for David; I will give Israel to you. 39I will humble David’s line for this, but not forever.”

40When Solomon tried to have Jeroboam killed, Jeroboam fled to Shishak, king of Egypt. He remained in Egypt until Solomon’s death.

41The rest of the acts of Solomon, with all that he did and his wisdom, are recorded in the book of the acts of Solomon. 42Solomon was king in Jerusalem over all Israel for forty years. 43Solomon rested with his ancestors and was buried in the City of David, his father, and Rehoboam his son succeeded him as king.

* [11:113] The next major unit of the Solomon story corresponds to 3:115. Like the earlier passage it includes the narrator’s remarks about Solomon’s foreign wives and his building projects, and a divine word commenting on Solomon’s conduct. However, where 3:115 is generally positive toward Solomon, the present passage is unrelievedly negative. Chronicles has no parallel to this material.

* [11:2] Them: both the nations and their gods.

* [11:1425] This unit of the Solomon story corresponds to 2:12b46, where Solomon secured his kingdom by eliminating three men he perceived as threats. In this passage, we learn of two foreigners the Lord raised up as “adversaries” to Solomon as early as the beginning of his reign (despite Solomon’s complacent claim to Hiram in 5:18 that he had no adversary). In the next section we will learn of a third opponent, Israelite rather than foreign, who turns out to be the “servant of Solomon” announced by the Lord in 11:11. Chronicles has no parallel to this material.

* [11:14] Adversary: Hebrew śatan, one who stands in opposition; in this context a political opponent.

* [11:2643] The last major unit of the Solomon story tells how the prophet Ahijah announces the divine intention to take the larger part of Solomon’s kingdom from his control and give it to Jeroboam, Solomon’s servant. This counterbalances the first unit of the story, 1:12:12a, where another prophet, Nathan, managed to influence the royal succession and obtain the throne for Solomon. The unit is also the first part of the story of Jeroboam (11:2614:20). It thus acts as a literary hinge connecting the two stories. Chronicles contains a death notice for Solomon in 2 Chr 9:2931.

* [11:29] The narrator uses a powerful wordplay here. In the Hebrew consonantal text, Ahijah’s cloak (slmh) is indistinguishable from Solomon’s name (slmh). Since a prophetic gesture such as Ahijah’s was understood as effecting the event it announced, Ahijah’s tearing of his cloak embodies the divine action that will tear Solomon’s kingdom apart (cf. vv. 1113).

a. [11:13] Dt 17:17; Sir 47:1920.

b. [11:2] Ex 34:16.

c. [11:9] 1 Kgs 3:415; 6:1113; 9:29.

d. [11:1213] 1 Kgs 11:3436.

e. [11:15] 2 Sm 8:1314.

f. [11:24] 2 Sm 8:36.

g. [11:30] 1 Sm 15:2728.

h. [11:3132] 1 Kgs 12:20.

II. THE REIGN OF JEROBOAM*

CHAPTER 12

Political Disunity.* 1Rehoboam went to Shechem,* where all Israel had come to make him king. 2When Jeroboam, son of Nebat, heard about it, he was still in Egypt. He had fled from King Solomon and remained in Egypt, 3and they sent for him.

Then Jeroboam and the whole assembly of Israel came and they said to Rehoboam, 4“Your father put a heavy yoke on us. If you now lighten the harsh servitude and the heavy yoke your father imposed on us, we will be your servants.” 5He answered them, “Come back to me in three days,” and the people went away.

6King Rehoboam asked advice of the elders who had been in his father Solomon’s service while he was alive, and asked, “How do you advise me to answer this people?” 7They replied, “If today you become the servant of this people and serve them, and give them a favorable answer, they will be your servants forever.” 8But he ignored the advice the elders had given him, and asked advice of the young men who had grown up with him and were in his service. 9He said to them, “What answer do you advise that we should give this people, who have told me, ‘Lighten the yoke your father imposed on us’?” 10The young men who had grown up with him replied, “This is what you must say to this people who have told you, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy; you lighten it for us.’ You must say, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins. 11My father put a heavy yoke on you, but I will make it heavier. My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions.’” 12Jeroboam and the whole people came back to King Rehoboam on the third day, as the king had instructed them: “Come back to me in three days.” 13Ignoring the advice the elders had given him, the king gave the people a harsh answer. 14He spoke to them as the young men had advised: “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will make it heavier. My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions.” 15a The king did not listen to the people, for this turn of events was from the LORD: he fulfilled the word the LORD had spoken through Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam, son of Nebat. 16b When all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king:

“What share have we in David?*

We have no heritage in the son of Jesse.

To your tents, Israel!

Now look to your own house, David.”

So Israel went off to their tents. 17But Rehoboam continued to reign over the Israelites who lived in the cities of Judah.

18King Rehoboam then sent out Adoram,* who was in charge of the forced labor, but all Israel stoned him to death. King Rehoboam then managed to mount his chariot and flee to Jerusalem. 19And so Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day. 20When all Israel heard that Jeroboam had returned, they summoned him to an assembly and made him king over all Israel. None remained loyal to the house of David except the tribe of Judah alone.

Divine Approval.* 21On his arrival in Jerusalem, Rehoboam assembled all the house of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin—one hundred and eighty thousand elite warriors—to wage war against the house of Israel, to restore the kingdom to Rehoboam, son of Solomon. 22However, the word of God came to Shemaiah, a man of God: 23Say to Rehoboam, son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all the house of Judah and to Benjamin, and to the rest of the people: 24Thus says the LORD: You must not go out to war against your fellow Israelites. Return home, each of you, for it is I who have brought this about. They obeyed the word of the LORD and turned back, according to the word of the LORD.

25Jeroboam built up Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim and lived there. Then he left it and built up Penuel.

Jeroboam’s Cultic Innovations.* 26Jeroboam thought to himself: “Now the kingdom will return to the house of David. 27If this people go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the LORD in Jerusalem, the hearts of this people will return to their master, Rehoboam, king of Judah, and they will kill me and return to Rehoboam, king of Judah.” 28c The king took counsel, made two calves of gold, and said to the people: “You have been going up to Jerusalem long enough. Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” 29d And he put one in Bethel, the other in Dan.* 30This led to sin, because the people frequented these calves in Bethel and in Dan. 31He also built temples on the high places and made priests from among the common people who were not Levites.

Divine Disapproval.* 32Jeroboam established a feast in the eighth month on the fifteenth day of the month like the pilgrimage feast in Judah, and he went up to the altar. He did this in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves he had made. He stationed in Bethel the priests of the high places he had built. 33Jeroboam went up to the altar he built in Bethel on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, the month he arbitrarily chose. He established a feast for the Israelites, and he went up to the altar to burn incense.

* [12:114:20] Like the story of the reign of Solomon, the story of the reign of Jeroboam is concentrically organized. Ahijah’s oracle of promise to Jeroboam (11:2643) belongs to both stories, ending that of Solomon (see note on 1:111:43) and beginning that of Jeroboam; it corresponds to Ahijah’s oracle of condemnation in 14:120. Within those literary boundaries are accounts of political (12:120) and religious (13:1134) disunity between Israel and Judah. The center of the story is the account of Jeroboam’s heterodox cultic innovations (12:2631).

* [12:120] The first major unit of the Jeroboam story was Ahijah’s oracle (11:2640), followed by the notice of Solomon’s death (11:4143). This is the second major unit. It tells how Jeroboam came to the throne of Israel after the intransigence of Solomon’s son Rehoboam provoked the northern tribes to secede from Jerusalem. The political disunity of the two kingdoms fulfills the word spoken by Ahijah. Compare 13:1132, where Jeroboam’s improper cultic innovations produce religious disunity as well. The scene is concentrically arranged: narrative introduction, first interview, first consultation, second consultation, second interview, narrative conclusion. Chronicles has a parallel version of this story in 2 Chr 10:119.

* [12:1] Shechem: chief city of the northern tribes, where a covenant had previously been made between the Lord and his people and a stone of witness had been erected in memory of the event (Jos 24:2527). All Israel: see note on 4:719.

* [12:16] What share have we in David?: even in David’s time the northern tribes seemed ready to withdraw from the union with Judah (2 Sm 20:1). The unreasonable attitude of Rehoboam toward them intensified the discontent caused by the oppression of Solomon (v. 4) and thus precipitated the political separation of the two kingdoms. In the view of the Deuteronomistic historian (1 Kgs 11:3536; 12:24), this was by the Lord’s decree.

* [12:18] Adoram: the name is a shortened form of “Adoniram” (see 4:6; 5:28). If this is the same Adoram who held the position in David’s day (2 Sm 20:24), he would have been a very old man.

* [12:2125] The center of this unit is a divine oracle delivered by a man of God of the Southern Kingdom in which the Lord affirms his approval of the secession of the northern tribes. Compare 13:110, where another man of God from Judah proclaims the Lord’s condemnation of Jeroboam’s religious separatism. Chronicles has a very similar version of Shemaiah’s oracle in 2 Chr 11:14.

* [12:2631] At the center of the story of Jeroboam the narrator describes how the king went beyond the political separation of Israel from Judah to create a separatist religious system as well. Jeroboam feared that continued worship in the single Temple in Jerusalem would threaten the political independence of his kingdom. To prevent this he established sanctuaries with non-levitical clergy in his own territory. At two of the sanctuaries he set up golden calves, which the narrator depicts as idols. Thus begins what will later be called “the sin of Jeroboam” (13:34), a theme that will be echoed throughout 1–2 Kings in the condemnations of almost every king of the Northern Kingdom. Historically, Jeroboam’s innovations were not as heterodox as our narrative portrays them. Bethel was an ancient and traditional site for worship of the Lord; and the calves were probably intended to be a dais for the deity invisibly enthroned upon them, rather like the cherubim atop the ark of the covenant.

* [12:29] Bethel…Dan: at the southern and northern boundaries of the separate kingdom of Israel, where sanctuaries had existed in the past (Gn 12:8; 13:34; 28:1022; 35:115; Jgs 18:131).

* [12:3213:10] This unit of the Jeroboam story corresponds to 12:2125. Before Jeroboam’s cultic innovations, a man of God from Judah proclaimed the Lord’s approval of the political separation of the kingdoms. After Jeroboam’s cultic innovations, a man of God from Judah proclaims the Lord’s disapproval of Israel’s religious separatism. The unit begins with a long, detailed introduction about the dedication festival Jeroboam holds at Bethel (12:3233); then follows the scene of the ceremony disrupted by the oracle of the man of God (13:110).

a. [12:15] 1 Kgs 11:2639.

b. [12:16] 2 Sm 20:1.

c. [12:28] Ex 32:110.

d. [12:29] Tb 1:5.

CHAPTER 13

1A man of God came from Judah to Bethel by the word of the LORD, while Jeroboam was standing at the altar to burn incense. 2a He cried out against the altar by the word of the LORD: “Altar, altar, thus says the LORD: A child shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name, who shall slaughter upon you the priests of the high places who burn incense upon you, and they shall burn human bones upon you.” 3b He also gave a sign that same day and said: “This is the sign that the LORD has spoken: The altar shall be torn apart and the ashes on it shall be scattered.” 4When the king heard the word of the man of God which he was crying out against the altar in Bethel, Jeroboam stretched forth his hand from the altar and said, “Seize him!” But the hand he stretched forth against him withered, so that he could not draw it back. 5(The altar was torn apart and the ashes from the altar were scattered, in accordance with the sign the man of God gave by the word of the LORD.)

6Then the king said to the man of God, “Entreat the LORD, your God, and intercede for me that my hand may be restored.” So the man of God entreated the LORD, and the king’s hand was restored as it was before. 7The king told the man of God, “Come with me to the house for some refreshment so that I may give you a present.” 8The man of God said to the king, “If you gave me half your palace, I would not go with you, nor eat bread or drink water in this place. 9For I was instructed by the word of the LORD: Do not eat bread or drink water, and do not return by the way you came.” 10So he departed by another road and did not go back the way he had come to Bethel.

Prophetic Disunity.* 11There was an old prophet living in Bethel, whose son came and told him all that the man of God had done that day in Bethel. When his sons repeated to their father the words the man of God had spoken to the king, 12the father asked them, “Which way did he go?” So his sons pointed out to him the road taken by the man of God who had come from Judah. 13Then he said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me.” When they had saddled it, he mounted 14and followed the man of God, whom he found seated under a terebinth. When he asked him, “Are you the man of God who came from Judah?” he answered, “Yes.” 15Then he said, “Come home with me and have some bread.” 16“I cannot return with you or go with you, and I cannot eat bread or drink water with you in this place,” he answered, 17“for I was told by the word of the LORD: You shall not eat bread or drink water there, and do not go back the way you came.” 18But he said to him, “I, too, am a prophet like you, and an angel told me by the word of the LORD: Bring him back with you to your house to eat bread and drink water.” But he was lying to him. 19So he went back with him, and ate bread and drank water in his house. 20But while they were sitting at table, the word of the LORD came to the prophet who had brought him back, 21and he cried out to the man of God who had come from Judah: “Thus says the LORD: Because you rebelled against the charge of the LORD and did not keep the command which the LORD, your God, gave you, 22but returned and ate bread and drank water in the place where he told you, Do not eat bread or drink water, your corpse shall not be brought to the grave of your ancestors.” 23After he had eaten bread and drunk, they saddled for him the donkey that belonged to the prophet who had brought him back, 24and he set out. But a lion met him on the road, and killed him. His body lay sprawled on the road, and the donkey remained standing by it, and so did the lion.

25Some passersby saw the body lying in the road, with the lion standing beside it, and carried the news to the city where the old prophet lived. 26On hearing it, the prophet who had brought him back from his journey said: “It is the man of God who rebelled against the charge of the LORD. The LORD has delivered him to a lion, which mangled and killed him, according to the word which the LORD had spoken to him.” 27Then he said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me,” and they saddled it. 28He went off and found the body sprawled on the road with the donkey and the lion standing beside it. The lion had not eaten the body nor had it harmed the donkey. 29The prophet lifted up the body of the man of God and put it on the donkey, and brought him back to the city to mourn and to bury him. 30He laid the man’s body in his own grave, and they mourned over it: “Alas, my brother!” 31c After he had buried him, he said to his sons, “When I die, bury me in the grave where the man of God is buried. Lay my bones beside his. 32d For the word which he proclaimed by the word of the LORD against the altar in Bethel and against all the temples on the high places in the cities of Samaria shall certainly come to pass.”

33Even after this, Jeroboam did not turn from his evil way, but again made priests for the high places from among the common people. Whoever desired it was installed as a priest of the high places. 34This is the account of the sin of the house of Jeroboam for which it was to be cut off and destroyed from the face of the earth.

* [13:1134] The next major unit illustrates how Jeroboam’s cultic innovations begin to alienate prophetic figures of the two kingdoms. Nevertheless, the Lord’s word is stronger than any human attempt to thwart it. The two prophets also foreshadow the destinies of their respective kingdoms. Israel’s experiment with idolatry can tempt Judah to abandon its faithfulness to the Lord. If Judah succumbs, and no longer speaks the word that can call Israel back to the true God, then the only hope for reuniting the two kingdoms will be when they have both died the death of exile.

a. [13:2] 2 Kgs 23:16.

b. [13:3] 2 Kgs 23:15.

c. [13:31] 2 Kgs 23:1718.

d. [13:32] 2 Kgs 23:1920.

CHAPTER 14

Ahijah Announces Jeroboam’s Downfall.* 1At that time Abijah, son of Jeroboam, took sick. 2a So Jeroboam said to his wife, “Go and disguise yourself so that no one will recognize you as Jeroboam’s wife. Then go to Shiloh, where you will find Ahijah the prophet. It was he who spoke the word that made me king over this people. 3Take along ten loaves, some cakes, and a jar of honey, and go to him. He will tell you what will happen to the child.” 4The wife of Jeroboam did so. She left and went to Shiloh and came to the house of Ahijah.

Now Ahijah could not see because age had dimmed his sight. 5But the LORD said to Ahijah: Jeroboam’s wife is coming to consult you about her son, for he is sick. Thus and so you must tell her. When she comes, she will be in disguise. 6So Ahijah, hearing the sound of her footsteps as she entered the door, said, “Come in, wife of Jeroboam. Why are you in disguise? For my part, I have been commissioned to give you bitter news. 7Go, tell Jeroboam, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: I exalted you from among the people and made you ruler of my people Israel. 8I tore the kingdom away from the house of David and gave it to you. Yet you have not been like my servant David, who kept my commandments and followed me with his whole heart, doing only what is right in my sight. 9You have done more evil than all who were before you: you have gone and made for yourself other gods and molten images to provoke me; but me you have cast behind your back. 10b Therefore, I am bringing evil upon the house of Jeroboam:

I will cut off from Jeroboam’s line every male

—bond or free—in Israel;

I will burn up what is left of the house of Jeroboam

as dung is burned, completely.

11c Anyone of Jeroboam’s line who dies in the city,

dogs will devour;

anyone who dies in the field,

the birds of the sky will devour.

For the LORD has spoken!’ 12As for you, leave, and go home! As you step inside the city, the child will die, 13and all Israel will mourn him and bury him, for he alone of Jeroboam’s line will be laid in the grave, since in him alone of Jeroboam’s house has something pleasing to the LORD, the God of Israel, been found. 14The LORD will raise up for himself a king over Israel who will cut off the house of Jeroboam—today, at this very moment! 15The LORD will strike Israel like a reed tossed about in the water and will pluck out Israel from this good land which he gave their ancestors, and will scatter them beyond the River,* because they made asherahs for themselves, provoking the LORD. 16He will give up Israel because of the sins Jeroboam has committed and caused Israel to commit.” 17So Jeroboam’s wife left and went back; when she came to Tirzah and crossed the threshold of her house, the child died. 18He was buried and all Israel mourned him, according to the word of the LORD spoken through his servant Ahijah the prophet.

19The rest of the acts of Jeroboam, how he fought and how he reigned, these are recorded in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel. 20The length of Jeroboam’s reign was twenty-two years. He rested with his ancestors, and Nadab his son succeeded him as king.

III. KINGS OF JUDAH AND ISRAEL*

Reign of Rehoboam. 21* Rehoboam, son of Solomon, became king in Judah. Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city in which, out of all the tribes of Israel, the LORD chose to set his name. His mother’s name was Naamah the Ammonite.

22Judah did evil in the LORD’s sight and they angered him even more than their ancestors had done. 23They, too, built for themselves high places, sacred pillars, and asherahs,* upon every high hill and under every green tree. 24There were also pagan priests in the land. Judah imitated all the abominable practices of the nations whom the LORD had driven out of the Israelites’ way. 25* In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, Shishak, king of Egypt, attacked Jerusalem. 26d He took everything, including the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the house of the king, even the gold shields Solomon had made. 27To replace them, King Rehoboam made bronze shields, which he entrusted to the officers of the guard on duty at the entrance of the royal house. 28Whenever the king visited the house of the LORD, those on duty would carry the shields, and then return them to the guardroom.

29The rest of the acts of Rehoboam, with all that he did, are recorded in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah. 30There was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all their days. 31Rehoboam rested with his ancestors; he was buried with his ancestors in the City of David. His mother’s name was Naamah the Ammonite. His son Abijam succeeded him as king.

* [14:120] The last major unit of the Jeroboam story recounts the story of Ahijah of Shiloh’s oracle condemning the entire house of Jeroboam; this is followed by a formulaic notice of Jeroboam’s death and the succession of his son. Compare the first unit of the Jeroboam story, 11:2643, which recounted Ahijah’s oracle proclaiming Jeroboam’s kingship, followed by the formulaic notice of the death of Solomon.

* [14:15] The River: the Euphrates; see note on 5:1.

* [14:2116:34] The treatment of the events of Jeroboam’s reign shows that the author believes that the political division of the kingdoms embodies the Lord’s will, but that their religious separation is undesirable. The Israelites are, in effect, one people of God under two royal administrations. This complex arrangement is reflected in the way 1–2 Kings organizes the history of the divided kingdoms. Each reign is treated as a unity: the kings, whether of Israel or Judah, are legitimate rulers. But the accounts of northern and southern kings are interwoven in the order in which each came to the throne, without regard to which kingdom they ruled: the people of God is one.

* [14:21] The account of each king’s reign follows the same basic pattern: a formulaic introduction, a theological evaluation based on religious fidelity, a brief account of an event from the king’s reign, and a formulaic conclusion.

* [14:23] Asherahs: see note on Ex 34:13.

* [14:2528, 30] The narrator recounts Shishak’s campaign here to imply that it was punishment for Judah’s evil, and perhaps to cast him as supporting Jeroboam in his constant warfare with Rehoboam. (Shishak was named as Jeroboam’s protector and patron in 11:40.) Egyptian records of the campaign list one hundred fifty cities conquered in Israel as well as Judah, but Jerusalem is not one of them. Chronicles has a parallel version of this account in 2 Chr 12:911.

a. [14:2] 1 Kgs 11:2939.

b. [14:10] 1 Kgs 15:2930.

c. [14:11] 1 Kgs 16:4; 21:22.

d. [14:26] 1 Kgs 10:1617.

CHAPTER 15

Reign of Abijam. 1In the eighteenth year of King Jeroboam, son of Nebat, Abijam became king of Judah; 2he reigned three years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Maacah, daughter of Abishalom.

3He followed all the sins his father had committed before him, and his heart was not entirely with the LORD, his God, as was the heart of David his father. 4Yet for David’s sake the LORD, his God, gave him a holding in Jerusalem, raising up his son after him and permitting Jerusalem to endure, 5a because David had done what was right in the sight of the LORD and did not disobey any of his commands as long as he lived, except in the case of Uriah the Hittite.

6There was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all their days. 7The rest of the acts of Abijam, with all that he did, are recorded in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah. There was war between Abijam and Jeroboam. 8Abijam rested with his ancestors; they buried him in the City of David, and his son Asa succeeded him as king.

Reign of Asa. 9In the twentieth year of Jeroboam, king of Israel, Asa, king of Judah, became king; 10he reigned forty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother’s* name was Maacah, daughter of Abishalom. 11Asa did what was right in the sight of the LORD like David his father, 12banishing the pagan priests from the land and removing all the idols his ancestors had made. 13He also deposed his grandmother Maacah from her position as queen mother, because she had made an outrageous object for Asherah. Asa cut down this object and burned it in the Wadi Kidron. 14The high places did not disappear; yet Asa’s heart was entirely with the LORD as long as he lived. 15He brought into the house of the LORD his father’s and his own votive offerings of silver and gold and various vessels. 16There was war between Asa and Baasha, king of Israel, all their days. 17Baasha, king of Israel, attacked Judah and fortified Ramah to blockade Asa, king of Judah. 18Asa then took all the silver and gold remaining in the treasuries of the house of the LORD and the house of the king. Entrusting them to his ministers, King Asa sent them to Ben-hadad, son of Tabrimmon, son of Hezion, king of Aram,* who ruled in Damascus. He said: 19“There is a treaty between you and me, as there was between your father and my father. I am sending you a present of silver and gold. Go, break your treaty with Baasha, king of Israel, that he may withdraw from me.” 20Ben-hadad agreed with King Asa and sent the leaders of his troops against the cities of Israel. They attacked Ijon, Dan, Abel-beth-maacah, and all Chinnereth, besides all the land of Naphtali. 21When Baasha heard of it, he left off fortifying Ramah, and stayed in Tirzah. 22Then King Asa summoned all Judah without exception, and they carried away the stones and beams with which Baasha was fortifying Ramah. With them King Asa built Geba of Benjamin and Mizpah. 23All the rest of the acts of Asa, with all his valor and all that he did, and the cities he built, are recorded in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah. But in his old age, Asa had an infirmity in his feet. 24Asa rested with his ancestors; he was buried with his ancestors in the City of David his father, and his son Jehoshaphat succeeded him as king.

Reign of Nadab. 25Nadab, son of Jeroboam, became king of Israel in the second year of Asa, king of Judah. For two years he reigned over Israel.

26He did what was evil in the LORD’s sight, walking in the way of his father and the sin he had caused Israel to commit. 27Baasha, son of Ahijah, of the house of Issachar, plotted against him and struck him down at Gibbethon of the Philistines, which Nadab and all Israel were besieging. 28Baasha killed him in the third year of Asa, king of Judah, and succeeded him as king. 29b Once he was king, he killed the entire house of Jeroboam, not leaving a single soul but destroying Jeroboam utterly, according to the word of the LORD spoken through his servant, Ahijah the Shilonite, 30because of the sins Jeroboam committed and caused Israel to commit, by which he provoked the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger.

31The rest of the acts of Nadab, with all that he did, are recorded in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel. 32There was war between Asa and Baasha, king of Israel, all their days.

Reign of Baasha. 33In the third year of Asa, king of Judah, Baasha, son of Ahijah, became king of all Israel in Tirzah for twenty-four years.

34He did what was evil in the LORD’s sight, walking in the way of Jeroboam and the sin he had caused Israel to commit.

* [15:10] Maacah was in fact Asa’s grandmother (see v. 2), but “king’s mother” was perhaps a title for the gebira, the “Great Lady” or “queen mother” (see, for instance, 2:19). This influential position was usually held by the king’s biological mother, but Maacah may have retained it after the early death of her son Abijam.

* [15:18] Ben-hadad…king of Aram: Ben-hadad I, third successor of Rezon, who had thrown off the yoke of the Israelites during the reign of Solomon and become king of Aram (11:2324). Chronicles has a parallel version of this account in 2 Chr 16:16. Who ruled: lit., “sitting,” i.e., enthroned, possibly also meaning “resident” or “residing.”

a. [15:5] 2 Sm 11:127.

b. [15:29] 1 Kgs 14:1011.

CHAPTER 16

1The word of the LORD came to Jehu, son of Hanani, against Baasha: 2Inasmuch as I exalted you from the dust and made you ruler of my people Israel, but you have walked in the way of Jeroboam and have caused my people Israel to sin, provoking me to anger by their sins, 3a I will burn up what is left of Baasha and his house; I will make your house like that of Jeroboam, son of Nebat:

4b One of Baasha’s line who dies in the city,

dogs will devour;

One who dies in the field,

the birds of the sky will devour.

5The rest of the acts of Baasha, what he did and his valor, are recorded in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel. 6Baasha rested with his ancestors; he was buried in Tirzah, and his son Elah succeeded him as king. 7(Through the prophet Jehu, son of Hanani, the word of the LORD came against Baasha and his house, because of all the evil Baasha did in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger by his deeds so that he became like the house of Jeroboam, and because of what he destroyed.)

Reign of Elah. 8In the twenty-sixth year of Asa, king of Judah, Elah, son of Baasha, became king of Israel in Tirzah for two years.

9His servant Zimri, commander of half his chariots, plotted against him. As he was in Tirzah, drinking to excess in the house of Arza, master of his palace in Tirzah, 10c Zimri entered; he struck and killed him in the twenty-seventh year of Asa, king of Judah, and succeeded him as king. 11Once he was king, seated on the throne, he killed the whole house of Baasha, not sparing a single male relative or friend of his. 12d Zimri destroyed the entire house of Baasha, according to the word the LORD spoke against Baasha through Jehu the prophet, 13because of all the sins which Baasha and his son Elah committed and caused Israel to commit, provoking the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger by their idols.

14The rest of the acts of Elah, with all that he did, are recorded in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.

Reign of Zimri. 15In the twenty-seventh year of Asa, king of Judah, Zimri became king for seven days in Tirzah.

The army was encamped at Gibbethon of the Philistines 16when they heard, “Zimri has formed a conspiracy and has killed the king.” So that day in the camp all Israel made Omri, commander of the army, king of Israel. 17Omri and all Israel with him marched up from Gibbethon and besieged Tirzah. 18When Zimri saw that the city was captured, he entered the citadel of the king’s house and burned it down over him. He died 19because of the sins he had committed, doing what was evil in the LORD’s sight by walking in the way of Jeroboam and the sin he had caused Israel to commit.

20The rest of the acts of Zimri, with the conspiracy he carried out, are recorded in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.

Civil War. 21At that time the people of Israel were divided in two, half following Tibni, son of Ginath, to make him king, and half for Omri. 22The partisans of Omri prevailed over those of Tibni, son of Ginath. Tibni died and Omri became king.

Reign of Omri. 23In the thirty-first year of Asa, king of Judah, Omri became king of Israel for twelve years; the first six of them he reigned in Tirzah.

24He then bought the mountain of Samaria from Shemer for two silver talents and built upon the mountain the city he named Samaria, after Shemer, the former owner. 25But Omri did what was evil in the LORD’s sight, more than any of his predecessors. 26In every way he imitated the sinful conduct of Jeroboam, son of Nebat, and the sin he had caused Israel to commit, thus provoking the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger by their idols.

27The rest of the acts of Omri, what he did and his valor, are recorded in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel. 28Omri rested with his ancestors; he was buried in Samaria, and Ahab his son succeeded him as king.

Reign of Ahab. 29Ahab, son of Omri, became king of Israel in the thirty-eighth year of Asa, king of Judah. Ahab, son of Omri, reigned over Israel in Samaria for twenty-two years.

30Ahab, son of Omri, did what was evil in the LORD’s sight more than any of his predecessors. 31It was not enough for him to follow the sins of Jeroboam, son of Nebat. He even married Jezebel, daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal, and worship him. 32Ahab set up an altar to Baal in the house of Baal which he built in Samaria, 33and also made an asherah. Ahab did more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than any of the kings of Israel before him. 34e During his reign, Hiel from Bethel rebuilt Jericho. At the cost of Abiram, his firstborn son, he laid the foundation, and at the cost of Segub, his youngest son, he set up the gates, according to the word of the LORD spoken through Joshua, son of Nun.*

* [16:34] See note on Jos 6:26.

a. [16:3] 1 Kgs 16:11; 21:22.

b. [16:4] 1 Kgs 14:11.

c. [16:10] 2 Kgs 9:31.

d. [16:12] 1 Kgs 16:24.

e. [16:34] Jos 6:26.

IV. THE STORY OF ELIJAH*

CHAPTER 17

Elijah Proclaims a Drought.* 1Elijah the Tishbite,* a from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab: “As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, during these years there shall be no dew or rain except at my word.” 2The word of the LORD came to Elijah: 3Leave here, go east and hide in the Wadi Cherith, east of the Jordan. 4You shall drink of the wadi, and I have commanded ravens to feed you there. 5So he left and did as the LORD had commanded. He left and remained by the Wadi Cherith, east of the Jordan. 6b Ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the wadi.

7After some time, however, the wadi ran dry, because no rain had fallen in the land. 8c So the word of the LORD came to him: 9Arise, go to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have commanded a widow there to feed you. 10He arose and went to Zarephath. When he arrived at the entrance of the city, a widow was there gathering sticks; he called out to her, “Please bring me a small cupful of water to drink.” 11She left to get it, and he called out after her, “Please bring along a crust of bread.” 12She said, “As the LORD, your God, lives, I have nothing baked; there is only a handful of flour in my jar and a little oil in my jug. Just now I was collecting a few sticks, to go in and prepare something for myself and my son; when we have eaten it, we shall die.” 13Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid. Go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake and bring it to me. Afterwards you can prepare something for yourself and your son. 14For the LORD, the God of Israel, says: The jar of flour shall not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, until the day when the LORD sends rain upon the earth.” 15She left and did as Elijah had said. She had enough to eat for a long time—he and she and her household. 16The jar of flour did not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, according to the word of the LORD spoken through Elijah.

17d Some time later the son of the woman, the owner of the house, fell sick, and his sickness grew more severe until he stopped breathing. 18So she said to Elijah, “Why have you done this to me, man of God? Have you come to me to call attention to my guilt and to kill my son?” 19Elijah said to her, “Give me your son.” Taking him from her lap, he carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his own bed. 20He called out to the LORD: “LORD, my God, will you afflict even the widow with whom I am staying by killing her son?” 21Then he stretched himself out upon the child three times and he called out to the LORD: “LORD, my God, let the life breath return to the body of this child.” 22The LORD heard the prayer of Elijah; the life breath returned to the child’s body and he lived. 23Taking the child, Elijah carried him down into the house from the upper room and gave him to his mother. Elijah said, “See! Your son is alive.” 24The woman said to Elijah, “Now indeed I know that you are a man of God, and it is truly the word of the LORD that you speak.”

* [17:119:21] The central section of 1–2 Kings tells the story of the dynasty of Omri. That dynasty begins and ends in civil war (1 Kgs 16:2122; 2 Kgs 911). Most of the story is set during the reigns of Ahab of Israel (1 Kgs 16:2922:40) and his son Joram (2 Kgs 3:19:26) and focuses particularly on the interaction of the king with various prophets, especially Ahab with Elijah and Joram with Elisha. The story of Ahab itself contains two large complexes, a series of narratives about Elijah (1 Kgs 17:119:21) and a series about hostility between Ahab and the prophets (1 Kgs 20:122:38).

* [17:124] The story of Elijah is in three parts. The first (chap. 17) describes how Elijah proclaimed a drought on God’s authority and how he survived during the drought. The second (chap. 18) describes how he ends the drought by bringing the populace back to exclusive worship of the Lord. The third (chap. 19) describes Elijah’s despair at the failure of his prophetic mission and his consequent attempt to resign from the prophetic office.

* [17:1] This verse introduces the enigmatic figure of Elijah the Tishbite. (The name “Elijah” means “the Lord is my God.” The meaning of “Tishbite” is unknown; it may refer to a place or to a social class.) His appearance before Ahab is abrupt and involves several matters that will unify the whole Elijah story. His claim to “serve the Lord” (lit., to “stand before the Lord”) points forward to 19:13, where he refuses to do so; the center of narrative tension on this level is the question of the prophet’s autonomy in God’s service. His proclamation of a drought points forward to 18:4145 where he announces the drought’s end; the center of narrative tension on this level is the struggle between the Lord and the Canaanite fertility god Baal for the loyalties of Israel. His claim that the drought is due to his own word of power (“except at my word”) points forward to 17:24 where the widow acknowledges the divine source of the word Elijah speaks; the center of narrative tension on this level is the gradual characterization of the prophet as one who receives a divine word (vv. 2, 8), obeys it (v. 5), conveys an effective divine word of threat (v. 1) or promise (vv. 14, 16), and even speaks an effective human word of entreaty to God (vv. 20, 22).

a. [17:1] Sir 48:112; Jas 5:1718.

b. [17:6] Ex 16:8, 12.

c. [17:816] 2 Kgs 4:17; Lk 4:2526.

d. [17:1724] 2 Kgs 4:1837; Lk 7:1116.

CHAPTER 18

Elijah Ends the Drought.* 1Long afterward, in the third year, the word of the LORD came to Elijah: Go, present yourself to Ahab, that I may send rain upon the earth. 2So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab.

Now the famine in Samaria was severe, 3and Ahab had summoned Obadiah, master of his palace, who greatly revered the LORD. 4When Jezebel was slaughtering the prophets of the LORD, Obadiah took a hundred prophets, hid them away by fifties in caves, and supplied them with food and water. 5Ahab said to Obadiah, “Go through the land to all sources of water and to all the wadis. We may find grass and keep the horses and mules alive, so that we shall not have to slaughter any of the beasts.” 6Dividing the land to explore between them, Ahab went one way by himself, Obadiah another way by himself. 7As Obadiah was on his way, Elijah met him. Recognizing him, Obadiah fell prostrate and asked, “Is it you, my lord Elijah?” 8He said to him, “Yes. Go tell your lord, ‘Elijah is here!’”* 9But Obadiah said, “What sin has your servant committed, that you are handing me over to Ahab to be killed? 10As the LORD, your God, lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my lord has not sent in search of you. When they replied, ‘He is not here,’ he made each kingdom and nation swear they could not find you. 11And now you say, ‘Go tell your lord: Elijah is here!’ 12After I leave you, the spirit of the LORD will carry you to some place I do not know, and when I go to inform Ahab and he does not find you, he will kill me—though your servant has revered the LORD from his youth! 13Have you not been told, my lord, what I did when Jezebel was murdering the prophets of the LORD—that I hid a hundred of the prophets of the LORD, fifty each in caves, and supplied them with food and water? 14And now you say, ‘Go tell your lord: Elijah is here!’ He will kill me!” 15Elijah answered, “As the LORD of hosts lives, whom I serve, I will present myself to him today.”

16So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and informed him, and Ahab came to meet Elijah. 17When Ahab saw Elijah, he said to him, “Is it you, you disturber of Israel?” 18He answered, “It is not I who disturb Israel, but you and your father’s house, by forsaking the commands of the LORD and you by following the Baals. 19Now summon all Israel to me on Mount Carmel, as well as the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah who eat at Jezebel’s table.” 20So Ahab summoned all the Israelites and had the prophets gather on Mount Carmel.

21Elijah approached all the people and said, “How long will you straddle the issue? If the LORD is God, follow him; if Baal, follow him.” But the people did not answer him. 22So Elijah said to the people, “I am the only remaining prophet of the LORD, and there are four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal. 23Give us two young bulls. Let them choose one, cut it into pieces, and place it on the wood, but start no fire. I shall prepare the other and place it on the wood, but shall start no fire. 24You shall call upon the name of your gods, and I will call upon the name of the LORD. The God who answers with fire is God.” All the people answered, “We agree!”

25Elijah then said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one young bull and prepare it first, for there are more of you. Call upon your gods, but do not start the fire.” 26Taking the young bull that was turned over to them, they prepared it and called upon Baal from morning to noon, saying, “Baal, answer us!” But there was no sound, and no one answering. And they hopped around the altar they had prepared. 27When it was noon, Elijah taunted them: “Call louder, for he is a god; he may be busy doing his business, or may be on a journey. Perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” 28They called out louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears according to their ritual until blood gushed over them. 29Noon passed and they remained in a prophetic state until the time for offering sacrifice. But there was no sound, no one answering, no one listening.

30Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” When they drew near to him, he repaired the altar of the LORD which had been destroyed. 31He took twelve stones, for the number of tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the LORD had said: Israel shall be your name. 32He built the stones into an altar to the name of the LORD, and made a trench around the altar large enough for two measures of grain. 33When he had arranged the wood, he cut up the young bull and laid it on the wood. 34He said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it over the burnt offering and over the wood.” “Do it again,” he said, and they did it again. “Do it a third time,” he said, and they did it a third time. 35The water flowed around the altar; even the trench was filled with the water. 36At the time for offering sacrifice, Elijah the prophet came forward and said, “LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37a Answer me, LORD! Answer me, that this people may know that you, LORD, are God and that you have turned their hearts back to you.” 38The LORD’s fire came down and devoured the burnt offering, wood, stones, and dust, and lapped up the water in the trench. 39Seeing this, all the people fell prostrate and said, “The LORD is God! The LORD is God!” 40b Then Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Let none of them escape!” They seized them, and Elijah brought them down to the Wadi Kishon and there he slaughtered them. 41Elijah then said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” 42So Ahab went up to eat and drink, while Elijah went up to the top of Carmel, crouched down to the earth, and put his head between his knees. 43He said to his servant, “Go up and look out to sea.” He went up and looked, but reported, “There is nothing.” Seven times he said, “Go look again!” 44And the seventh time the youth reported, “There is a cloud as small as a man’s hand rising from the sea.” Elijah said, “Go and say to Ahab, ‘Harness up and go down the mountain before the rain stops you.’” 45All at once the sky grew dark with clouds and wind, and a heavy rain fell. Ahab mounted his chariot and headed for Jezreel. 46But the hand of the LORD was on Elijah. He girded up his clothing and ran before Ahab as far as the approaches to Jezreel.

* [18:145] The story of the conflict with the prophets of Baal (vv. 2140) is embedded in the story of the drought and its ending (vv. 120, 4145). The connection between the two stories is found in Canaanite theology, in whose pantheon Baal, “the Cloud Rider,” the god of rain and storm, was recognized as the one who brings fertility. Worship of many gods was virtually universal in the ancient world; the Israelite requirement of exclusive worship of the Lord (Ex 20:3) was unique. The people of Israel had apparently become comfortable worshiping both Baal and the Lord, perhaps assigning mutually exclusive spheres of influence to each. By claiming authority over the rain (17:1; 18:1), the Lord was challenging Baal’s power in Baal’s own domain. The entire drought story in chaps. 1718 implies what becomes explicit in 18:2140: this is a struggle between the Lord and Baal for the loyalties of the people of Israel.

* [18:8] Elijah is here: the Hebrew hinneh ‘eliyahu involves a pun. The sentence means both “Elijah is here,” informing Ahab that the prophet has been found, and “Behold, Yhwh is my God” (the meaning of the name “Elijah”).

a. [18:37] Ex 32:13.

b. [18:40] Ex 32:2628.

CHAPTER 19

Flight to Horeb.* 1Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done—that he had murdered all the prophets by the sword. 2Jezebel then sent a messenger to Elijah and said, “May the gods do thus to me and more, if by this time tomorrow I have not done with your life what was done to each of them.” 3Elijah was afraid and fled for his life, going to Beer-sheba of Judah. He left his servant there 4a and went a day’s journey into the wilderness, until he came to a solitary broom tree and sat beneath it. He prayed for death: “Enough, LORD! Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” 5He lay down and fell asleep under the solitary broom tree, but suddenly a messenger* touched him and said, “Get up and eat!” 6He looked and there at his head was a hearth cake and a jug of water. After he ate and drank, he lay down again, 7but the angel of the LORD came back a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat or the journey will be too much for you!” 8b He got up, ate, and drank; then strengthened by that food, he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb.

9There he came to a cave, where he took shelter. But the word of the LORD came to him: Why are you here, Elijah? 10He answered: “I have been most zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts, but the Israelites have forsaken your covenant. They have destroyed your altars and murdered your prophets by the sword. I alone remain, and they seek to take my life.” 11c Then the LORD said: Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD;* the LORD will pass by. There was a strong and violent wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD—but the LORD was not in the wind; after the wind, an earthquake—but the LORD was not in the earthquake; 12after the earthquake, fire—but the LORD was not in the fire; after the fire, a light silent sound.*

13When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. A voice said to him, Why are you here, Elijah? 14d He replied, “I have been most zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts, but the Israelites have forsaken your covenant. They have destroyed your altars and murdered your prophets by the sword. I alone remain, and they seek to take my life.” 15* e The LORD said to him: Go back! Take the desert road to Damascus. When you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king of Aram. 16f You shall also anoint Jehu, son of Nimshi, as king of Israel, and Elisha, son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah, as prophet to succeed you. 17Anyone who escapes the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill. Anyone who escapes the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill. 18g But I will spare seven thousand in Israel—every knee that has not bent to Baal, every mouth that has not kissed him.

19* Elijah set out, and came upon Elisha, son of Shaphat, as he was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen; he was following the twelfth. Elijah went over to him and threw his cloak on him. 20h Elisha left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, “Please, let me kiss my father and mother good-bye, and I will follow you.” Elijah answered, “Go back! What have I done to you?” 21Elisha left him and, taking the yoke of oxen, slaughtered them; he used the plowing equipment for fuel to boil their flesh, and gave it to the people to eat. Then he left and followed Elijah to serve him.

* [19:121] The story of Elijah’s journey to Mount Horeb begins as a flight from danger, but takes a surprising turn. The prophet makes his solitary way to the mountain where the Lord had appeared to Moses and the Israelites (“Horeb” is an alternate name for “Sinai”). Like Moses on the holy mountain, Elijah experiences a theophany and receives a commission.

* [19:57] Sound asleep, Elijah is startled awake by an unspecified “messenger.” Only in v. 7 is the figure identified as a messenger (or “angel”) of the Lord.

* [19:1113] To “stand before the Lord” is a literal translation of a Hebrew idiom meaning “to serve the Lord”; Elijah has used this idiom twice before to describe himself as the Lord’s servant (17:1; 18:15). The Lord’s command, then, means that Elijah is to take up once again the prophetic service to which he has been appointed. The Lord’s question, “Why are you here?” (v. 9, repeated in v. 13), could imply an accusation that he is abandoning his prophetic office. In v. 15, the Lord tells him to go back.

* [19:12] Compare these divine manifestations to Elijah with those to Moses on the same mountain (Ex 19:1619; 33:1823; 34:56; Dt 4:1015). Though various phenomena, such as wind, storms, earthquakes, fire, accompany the divine presence, they do not constitute the presence itself which, like the “silent sound,” is mysterious and ultimately ungraspable. Moses and Elijah, the two figures who experienced God’s theophany on this mountain, reappear with Jesus on another mountain at his transfiguration (Mt 17:19; Mk 9:29; Lk 9:2836).

* [19:1517] Elijah himself carried out only the last of the three commissions entrusted to him (vv. 1921); Elisha performed the first himself (2 Kgs 8:719), and the second, the anointing of Jehu, through one of his followers (2 Kgs 9:110).

* [19:1921] Elijah’s act of throwing his mantle over the shoulders of Elisha associates him with Elijah as a servant (v. 21). Elisha will later succeed to Elijah’s position and prophetic power (2 Kgs 2:115). Elisha’s prompt response, destroying his plow and oxen, signifies a radical change from his former manner of living.

a. [19:4] Jon 4:69.

b. [19:8] Ex 34:28.

c. [19:1113] Ex 33:1823; 34:56.

d. [19:14] Rom 11:3.

e. [19:15] 2 Kgs 8:715.

f. [19:16] 2 Kgs 2:115; 9:110.

g. [19:18] Rom 11:4.

h. [19:20] Lk 9:6162.

V. THE STORY OF AHAB*

CHAPTER 20

Ahab’s Victories over Aram.* 1Ben-hadad, king of Aram, gathered all his forces and, accompanied by thirty-two kings with horses and chariotry, set out to besiege and attack Samaria. 2He sent messengers to Ahab, king of Israel, within the city, 3and said to him, “This is Ben-hadad’s message: ‘Your silver and gold are mine, and your wives and your fine children are mine.’” 4The king of Israel answered, “Just as you say, my lord king, I and all I have are yours.” 5But the messengers came again and said, “This is Ben-hadad’s message: ‘I sent you word: Give me your silver and gold, your wives and your children. 6But now I say: At this time tomorrow I will send my servants to you, and they shall ransack your house and the houses of your servants. They shall seize and take away whatever you consider valuable.’” 7The king of Israel then summoned all the elders of the land and said: “Understand clearly that this man is intent on evil. When he sent to me for my wives and children, my silver and my gold, I did not refuse him.” 8All the elders and all the people said to him, “Do not listen. Do not give in.” 9Accordingly he directed the messengers of Ben-hadad, “Say this: ‘To my lord the king: I will do all that you demanded of your servant the first time. But this I cannot do.’” The messengers left and reported this. 10Ben-hadad then responded, “May the gods do thus to me and more, if there will remain enough dust in Samaria to make handfuls for all my followers.” 11The king of Israel replied, “Tell him, ‘Let not one who puts on armor boast like one who takes it off.’” 12Ben-hadad was drinking in the pavilions with the kings when he heard this reply. He commanded his servants, “Get ready!”; and they got ready to storm the city.

13Then a prophet came up to Ahab, king of Israel, and said: “The LORD says, Do you see all this vast army? Today I am giving it into your power, that you may know that I am the LORD.” 14But Ahab asked, “Through whom will it be given over?” He answered, “The LORD says, Through the aides of the provincial governors.” Then Ahab asked, “Who is to attack?” He replied, “You are.” 15So Ahab mustered the aides of the provincial governors, two hundred thirty-two of them. Behind them he mustered all the Israelite soldiery, who numbered seven thousand in all. 16* They marched out at noon, while Ben-hadad was drinking heavily in the pavilions with the thirty-two kings who were his allies. 17When the aides of the provincial governors marched out first, Ben-hadad received word, “Some men have marched out of Samaria.” 18He answered, “Whether they have come out for peace or for war, take them alive.” 19But when these had come out of the city—the aides of the provincial governors with the army following them— 20each of them struck down his man. The Arameans fled with Israel pursuing them, while Ben-hadad, king of Aram, escaped on a chariot horse. 21Then the king of Israel went out and destroyed the horses and chariots. Thus he inflicted a severe defeat on Aram.

22Then the prophet approached the king of Israel and said to him: “Go, regroup your forces. Understand clearly what you must do, for at the turning of the year* the king of Aram will attack you.” 23Meanwhile the servants of the king of Aram said to him: “Their gods are mountain gods. That is why they defeated us. But if we fight them on level ground, we shall be sure to defeat them. 24This is what you must do: Take the kings from their posts and put prefects in their places. 25Raise an army as large as the army you have lost, horse for horse, chariot for chariot. Let us fight them on level ground, and we shall surely defeat them.” He took their advice and did this. 26At the turning of the year, Ben-hadad mustered Aram and went up to Aphek to fight against Israel. 27The Israelites, too, were mustered and supplied with provisions; then they went out to meet the enemy. The Israelites, encamped opposite, looked like little flocks of goats, while Aram covered the land. 28A man of God approached and said to the king of Israel: “The LORD says, Because Aram has said the LORD is a god of mountains, not a god of plains, I will give all this vast army into your power that you may know I am the LORD.” 29They were encamped opposite each other for seven days. On the seventh day battle was joined, and the Israelites struck down one hundred thousand foot soldiers of Aram in one day. 30The survivors fled into the city of Aphek, where the wall collapsed on twenty-seven thousand of them. Ben-hadad, too, fled, and took refuge within the city, in an inner room.

31His servants said to him: “We have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings. Allow us, therefore, to garb ourselves in sackcloth, with cords around our heads, and go out to the king of Israel. Perhaps he will spare your life.” 32Dressed in sackcloth girded at the waist and wearing cords around their heads, they went to the king of Israel and said, “Your servant Ben-hadad says, ‘Spare my life!’” He asked, “Is he still alive? He is my brother.”* 33Hearing this as a good omen, the men quickly took him at his word and said, “Ben-hadad is your brother.” He answered, “Go and get him.” When Ben-hadad came out to him, the king had him mount his chariot. 34Ben-hadad said to him, “The cities my father took from your father I will restore, and you may set up bazaars for yourself in Damascus, as my father did in Samaria.” Ahab replied, “For my part, I will set you free on those terms.” So he made a covenant with him and then set him free.

Prophetic Condemnation. 35Acting on the word of the LORD, one of the guild prophets said to his companion, “Strike me.” But he refused to strike him. 36Then he said to him, “Since you did not obey the voice of the LORD, a lion will attack you when you leave me.” When he left him, a lion came upon him and attacked him.a 37Then the prophet met another man and said, “Strike me.” The man struck him a blow and wounded him. 38The prophet went on and waited for the king on the road, disguising himself with a bandage over his eyes. 39As the king was passing, he called out to the king and said: “Your servant went into the thick of the battle, and suddenly someone turned and brought me a man and said, ‘Guard this man. If he is missing, you shall have to pay for his life with your life or pay out a talent of silver.’* 40But while your servant was occupied here and there, the man disappeared.” The king of Israel said to him, “That is your sentence. You have decided it yourself.” 41He quickly removed the bandage from his eyes, and the king of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets. 42b He said to him: “The LORD says, Because you have set free the man I put under the ban,* your life shall pay for his life, your people for his people.” 43c Disturbed and angry, the king of Israel set off for home and entered Samaria.

* [20:122:54] Although coverage of Ahab’s reign began in 16:29, he was only a secondary character in the chapters about Elijah. Now attention focuses on Ahab. Each of these chapters tells a story of the king (20:134; 21:116; 22:14, 2938), to which is attached a scene of prophetic condemnation (20:3042; 21:1729; 22:528). As relations between Ahab and the prophets of the Lord deteriorate, the scenes of prophetic condemnation get longer and the condemnations themselves become more pointed. Some historians doubt that the stories of hostility between Israel and Aram (chaps. 20 and 22) originally pertained to the reign of Ahab. If this is correct, their original setting may have been several decades later.

* [20:134] This story recounts two battles through which Ahab won freedom for Israel from vassalage to Ben-hadad of Syria. The story is chiastically arranged: negotiations (vv. 112), battle (vv. 1321), battle (vv. 2230), negotiations (vv. 3134). The ensuing prophetic condemnation is surprising, since the portrait of Ahab in vv. 134 is apparently quite positive.

* [20:1619] The narrator uses a sort of verbal split-screen technique to show us two separate and simultaneous scenes. At the gates of Samaria, the Israelite forces are coming out to battle (v. 16a): first the aides (lit., “young men”; v. 17a), then the whole army (v. 19). Meanwhile in the Aramean camp Ben-hadad is getting drunk (v. 16b), receiving reports (v. 17b) and issuing commands (v. 18).

* [20:22] At the turning of the year: the idiom may mean “next year about this time” or “at the beginning of the year,” i.e., the spring (cf. 2 Sm 11:1).

* [20:32] He is my brother: cf. note on 9:13.

* [20:39] The “man” is ostensibly a prisoner of war, to be kept or sold as a slave. In the event he escapes, the one charged with guarding him would be obliged either to pay a fine or to take his place as a slave. The fine, however, is exorbitant: a talent of silver is roughly one hundred times the price of an ordinary slave (see Ex 21:32). This is the only clue Ahab will get that he is being set up and that the story is really about himself in his dealings with Ben-hadad. In 2 Sm 14:120, the wise woman of Tekoa uses the same technique with King David: she tells a story that elicits a reaction from the king; David is tricked into pronouncing judgment on himself, as the story parallels his own situation. The prophet Nathan (2 Sm 12:17) likewise uses a story that leads David to see his sin for what it is.

* [20:42] Under the ban: cf. note on Dt 2:34.

a. [20:36] 1 Kgs 13:24.

b. [20:42] 1 Kgs 22:35.

c. [20:43] 1 Kgs 21:4.

CHAPTER 21

Seizure of Naboth’s Vineyard.* 1Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel next to the palace of Ahab, king of Samaria. Some time later, 2Ahab said to Naboth, “Give me your vineyard to be my vegetable garden, since it is close by, next to my house. I will give you a better vineyard in exchange, or, if you prefer, I will give you its value in money.” 3Naboth said to Ahab, “The LORD forbid that I should give you my ancestral heritage.”* 4Ahab went home disturbed and angry at the answer Naboth the Jezreelite had given him: “I will not give you my ancestral heritage.” Lying down on his bed, he turned away and would not eat. 5His wife Jezebel came to him and said to him, “Why are you so sullen that you will not eat?” 6He answered her, “Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and said to him, ‘Sell me your vineyard, or, if you prefer, I will give you a vineyard in exchange.’ But he said, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’” 7Jezebel his wife said to him, “What a king of Israel you are! Get up! Eat and be cheerful. I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”

8So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and, having sealed them with his seal, sent them to the elders and to the nobles who lived in the same city with Naboth. 9This is what she wrote in the letters: “Proclaim a fast and set Naboth at the head of the people. 10Next, set two scoundrels opposite him to accuse him: ‘You have cursed God and king.’ Then take him out and stone him to death.”

11His fellow citizens—the elders and the nobles who dwelt in his city—did as Jezebel had ordered in the letters she sent them. 12They proclaimed a fast and set Naboth at the head of the people. 13Two scoundrels came in and sat opposite Naboth, and the scoundrels accused him in the presence of the people, “Naboth has cursed God and king.” And they led him out of the city and stoned him to death. 14Then they sent word to Jezebel: “Naboth has been stoned to death.”

15When Jezebel learned that Naboth had been stoned to death, she said to Ahab, “Go, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite which he refused to sell you, because Naboth is not alive, but dead.” 16When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he started on his way down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.

Prophetic Condemnation. 17Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite: 18Go down to meet Ahab, king of Israel, who is in Samaria. He will be in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone to take possession. 19a Tell him: “Thus says the LORD: After murdering, do you also take possession?” And tell him, “Thus says the LORD: In the place where the dogs licked up the blood of Naboth, the dogs shall lick up your blood, too.”

20* Ahab said to Elijah, “Have you found me out, my enemy?” He said, “I have found you. Because you have given yourself up to doing evil in the LORD’s sight, 21b I am bringing evil upon you: I will consume you and will cut off every male belonging to Ahab, whether bond or free, in Israel. 22I will make your house like that of Jeroboam, son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha, son of Ahijah, because you have provoked me by leading Israel into sin.”

23Against Jezebel, too, the LORD declared: The dogs shall devour Jezebel in the confines of Jezreel.

24Anyone of Ahab’s line who dies in the city,

dogs will devour;

Anyone who dies in the field,

the birds of the sky will devour.

25Indeed, no one gave himself up to the doing of evil in the sight of the LORD as did Ahab, urged on by his wife Jezebel. 26He became completely abominable by going after idols, just as the Amorites had done, whom the LORD drove out of the Israelites’ way.

27When Ahab heard these words, he tore his garments and put on sackcloth over his bare flesh. He fasted, slept in the sackcloth, and went about subdued. 28Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, 29c Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Since he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his time. I will bring the evil upon his house in his son’s time.

* [21:116] The story tells how Jezebel manipulates important structures of Israelite social order, law, and religious observance to eliminate a faithful Israelite landowner who frustrates Ahab’s will.

* [21:3] Heritage: Hebrew naḥalah. Naboth is unwilling to sell or exchange his vineyard. According to the Israelite system of land tenure and distribution, land was held in common within a social unit. The ancestral naḥalah was not private property, to be alienated at will.

* [21:2026] In these verses the narrator uses against the third Israelite dynasty the same condemnation formula that was uttered against the first two dynasties, those of Jeroboam (14:911) and Baasha (16:24). Part of the formula is put in Elijah’s mouth, in an oracle against Ahab and his descendants (vv. 2122), and part of it in an aside to the reader that extends the condemnation to Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, and his whole household (vv. 2324). The oracle against Jezebel will be fulfilled in 2 Kgs 9:36; the obliteration of the dynasty will be recounted in the bloody stories of 2 Kgs 911.

a. [21:19] 1 Kgs 22:38; 2 Kgs 9:26.

b. [21:2123] 1 Kgs 14:1011; 15:29; 16:34, 11; 2 Kgs 9:810, 36.

c. [21:29] 2 Kgs 9:2526.

CHAPTER 22

Ahab’s Defeat by Aram.* 1Three years passed without war between Aram and Israel. 2In the third year, however, King Jehoshaphat of Judah came down to the king of Israel. 3The king of Israel said to his servants, “Do you not know that Ramoth-gilead is ours and we are doing nothing to take it from the king of Aram?” 4He asked Jehoshaphat, “Will you come with me to fight against Ramoth-gilead?” Jehoshaphat answered the king of Israel, “You and I are as one, and your people and my people, your horses and my horses as well.”

Prophetic Condemnation. 5Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, “Seek the word of the LORD at once.” 6The king of Israel assembled the prophets, about four hundred of them, and asked, “Shall I go to fight against Ramoth-gilead or shall I refrain?” They said, “Attack. The Lord will give it into the power of the king.”* 7But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there no other prophet of the LORD here we might consult?” 8The king of Israel answered, “There is one other man through whom we might consult the LORD; but I hate him because he prophesies not good but evil about me. He is Micaiah, son of Imlah.” Jehoshaphat said, “Let not the king say that.” 9So the king of Israel called an official and said to him, “Get Micaiah, son of Imlah, at once.”

10The king of Israel and Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, were seated, each on his throne, clothed in their robes of state in the square at the entrance of the gate of Samaria, and all the prophets were prophesying before them. 11a Zedekiah, son of Chenaanah, made himself two horns of iron* and said, “The LORD says, With these you shall gore Aram until you have destroyed them.” 12The other prophets prophesied in a similar vein, saying: “Attack Ramoth-gilead and conquer! The LORD will give it into the power of the king.”

13Meanwhile, the messenger who had gone to call Micaiah said to him, “Look now, the prophets are unanimously predicting good for the king. Let your word be the same as any of theirs; speak a good word.” 14Micaiah said, “As the LORD lives, I shall speak whatever the LORD tells me.”

15When he came to the king, the king said to him, “Micaiah, shall we go to fight at Ramoth-gilead, or shall we refrain?” He said, “Attack and conquer! The LORD will give it into the power of the king.” 16But the king answered him, “How many times must I adjure you to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the LORD?” 17* So Micaiah said:

“I see all Israel

scattered on the mountains,

like sheep without a shepherd,

And the LORD saying,

These have no master!

Let each of them go back home in peace.”

18The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Did I not tell you, he does not prophesy good about me, but only evil?” 19* Micaiah continued: “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD seated on his throne, with the whole host of heaven standing to his right and to his left. 20The LORD asked: Who will deceive Ahab, so that he will go up and fall on Ramoth-gilead?* And one said this, another that, 21until this spirit came forth and stood before the LORD, saying, ‘I will deceive him.’ The LORD asked: How? 22He answered, ‘I will go forth and become a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets.’ The LORD replied: You shall succeed in deceiving him. Go forth and do this. 23So now, the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours; the LORD himself has decreed evil against you.”

24Thereupon Zedekiah, son of Chenaanah, came up and struck Micaiah on the cheek, saying, “Has the spirit of the LORD, then, left me to speak with you?” 25Micaiah said, “You shall find out on the day you go into an inner room to hide.” 26The king of Israel then said, “Seize Micaiah and take him back to Amon, prefect of the city, and to Joash, the king’s son, 27and say, ‘This is the king’s order: Put this man in prison and feed him scanty rations of bread and water until I come back in safety.’” 28b But Micaiah said, “If you return in safety, the LORD has not spoken through me.” (He also said, “Hear, O peoples, all of you.”)*

Ahab at Ramoth-gilead. 29The king of Israel and Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, went up to Ramoth-gilead, 30and the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “I will disguise myself and go into battle, but you put on your own robes.” So the king of Israel disguised himself and entered the battle. 31In the meantime the king of Aram had given his thirty-two chariot commanders the order, “Do not fight with anyone, great or small, except the king of Israel alone.”

32When the chariot commanders saw Jehoshaphat, they cried out, “There is the king of Israel!” and wheeled to fight him. But Jehoshaphat cried out, 33and the chariot commanders, seeing that he was not the king of Israel, turned away from him. 34But someone drew his bow at random, and hit the king of Israel between the joints of his breastplate. He ordered his charioteer, “Rein about and take me out of the ranks, for I am wounded.”

35c The battle grew fierce during the day, and the king, who was propped up in his chariot facing the Arameans, died in the evening. The blood from his wound flowed to the bottom of the chariot. 36At sunset a cry went through the army, “Every man to his city, every man to his land!”

37And so the king died, and came back to Samaria, and they buried him there. 38d When they washed out the chariot at the pool of Samaria, the dogs licked up his blood and prostitutes bathed there, as the LORD had prophesied.

39The rest of the acts of Ahab, with all that he did, including the ivory house he built and all the cities he built, are recorded in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel. 40Ahab rested with his ancestors, and his son Ahaziah succeeded him as king.

Reign of Jehoshaphat. 41Jehoshaphat, son of Asa, became king of Judah in the fourth year of Ahab, king of Israel. 42Jehoshaphat was thirty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Azubah, daughter of Shilhi.

43He walked in the way of Asa his father unceasingly, doing what was right in the LORD’s sight. 44Nevertheless, the high places did not disappear, and the people still sacrificed on the high places and burned incense there. 45Jehoshaphat also made peace with the king of Israel.

46The rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, with his valor, what he did and how he fought, are recorded in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah. 47He removed from the land the rest of the pagan priests who had remained in the reign of Asa his father. 48There was no king in Edom, but an appointed regent. 49Jehoshaphat made Tarshish ships to go to Ophir for gold; but in fact the ships did not go, because they were wrecked at Ezion-geber. 50That was the time when Ahaziah, son of Ahab, had said to Jehoshaphat, “Let my servants accompany your servants in the ships.” But Jehoshaphat would not agree. 51Jehoshaphat rested with his ancestors; he was buried with his ancestors in the City of David his father, and his son Jehoram succeeded him as king.

Reign of Ahaziah.* 52Ahaziah, son of Ahab, became king over Israel in Samaria in the seventeenth year* of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah; he reigned two years over Israel.

53He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, walking in the way of his father, his mother, and Jeroboam, son of Nebat, who caused Israel to sin. 54He served Baal and worshiped him, thus provoking the LORD, the God of Israel, just as his father had done.

* [22:140] This chapter presents a contrasting parallel to chap. 20, where Ahab enjoyed victories over Aram’s aggression. Here Ahab is the aggressor, but falls in battle against Aram. Like the preceding chapters, it contains a story of Ahab plus an episode of prophetic condemnation. The story ends with the formulaic conclusion to Ahab’s reign (vv. 3940). Chronicles has a parallel version of this account in 2 Chr 18:134. After the story of Ahab’s death come accounts of the reign of Jehoshaphat (paralleled in 2 Chr 20:3137) and of the beginning of the reign of Ahaziah.

* [22:6] Though Ahab is clearly intended to understand the oracle as prophesying his success, the prophets’ words are ambiguous. “The lord” (not “the LORD,” i.e., the proper name of Israel’s God) who will give victory is unidentified, as is the king to whom it will be given.

* [22:11] The “two” horns probably symbolize the coalition of two kings, Ahab and Jehoshaphat.

* [22:17] Micaiah’s oracle uses the common ancient metaphor of “shepherd” for the king. It means that the Israelite forces will be left leaderless because the king (or perhaps both kings: the word “master” could be singular or plural in Hebrew) will die in battle.

* [22:1923] Since Ahab’s intention to attack Ramoth-gilead is unshaken, Micaiah reveals God’s plan to trick Ahab to his death, and thus virtually dares Ahab to walk into the trap with his eyes open. The work of the “lying spirit” explains the ambiguities of the prophets’ original oracle in v. 6. Prophets “stand in the council of the Lord” and are privy to its deliberations; cf. Jer 23:22.

* [22:20] Fall on Ramoth-gilead: lit., “heights of Gilead”; even the Lord’s words are double-meaning. God wants Ahab to “fall on” (that is, attack) Ramoth-gilead so that he will “fall on” (that is, die on) Ramoth-gilead.

* [22:28] The last words of the verse are a scribal gloss attributing to Micaiah, son of Imlah, the opening words of the book of a different Micaiah (Micah), the prophet of Moresheth, the sixth of the twelve minor prophets of the Old Testament canon.

* [22:5254] The account of Ahaziah’s reign continues in 2 Kings.

* [22:52] Seventeenth year: so the present Hebrew text. This is consistent with the figures in 2 Kgs 3:1, but together those figures conflict with information in 1 Kgs 22:42 and 2 Kgs 1:17. The problem of the chronology of the kings of Israel and Judah has never been convincingly resolved; it is complicated by the fact that the ancient Greek translation sometimes has different lengths of reign and different accession dates. See further note on 2 Kgs 3:1.

a. [22:11] Dt 33:17.

b. [22:28] Mi 1:2.

c. [22:35] 1 Kgs 20:42.

d. [22:38] 1 Kgs 21:19.